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This is an archive of posts from December 8 - 21, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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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. Also, 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

guru, i'm thinking about buying a cheap cast iron anvil from harbor freight so i can get into the blacksmithing hobby a little more! WILL THIS BE A STUPID IDEA?
   - anthony - Thursday, 12/08/05 03:48:26 EST

   - anthony - Thursday, 12/08/05 03:53:12 EST

Anthony: Just make sure it is cast steel and not cast iron. Bear in mind it will have virtually no resale value beyond scrap metal price. However, they do make nice gluing weights and the hardy hole could serve nicely for a cable for a buoy anchor.

For those of you in the general area of SW Ohio. SOF&A is arranging a bulk purchase of good blacksmithing coal for delivery on December 17th. Order will be what they need to refill their coal room and then orders placed. Coal bulk delivery (dumped in parking lot) will be to the Miami County Fairgrounds in Troy, OH. Bins for the coal room will be loaded first, then orders will be filled. They note a 5-gallon bucket holds about 40 lbs and a 55 gallon barrel about 350 lbs. They average the hauling charges into the load, so expect to pay roughly ten cents per pound. If interested contact Steve Roth at 937-836-8520 as quickly as possible.

I am still working on having blacksmithing coal in 50-pound bags available at the CSI-Anvilfire.com Hammer-in at my farm here in West-central TN the weekend of April 21-22nd. However, if you can get it at SOF&A recommend you do so.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 12/08/05 07:15:07 EST

Cheap Anvils and Tools: Anthony, Unless you are picking up one localy and there is no shipping you can often buy a REAL anvil for $200 or less which is approaching the cost of the junk anvils. Do not let some rust or wear and tear turn you away from an OLD anvil. Most old beat up anvils are perfectly good tools and infinitely better than cast iron or the so called cast-steel Chinese anvils. Many of these imports are low grade steel that is not much better than cast iron. They are not hardenable thus the statements on ebay about being "heavy duty and/or professional and heat treated" are all lies. THAT is the big problem I have with the ebay dealers selling these things, the lies. Most also charge a high unrefundable shipping charge that makes it uneconomical to return defective merchandise.

If you call Harbor freight and ask them what their anvils are made of or where they are made, they usualy do not know or care. As far as I know HF has not lied about their products. Some of the stuff they sell is OK and some is junk. But as far as have seen they do not missrepresent what they sell.

An old anvil may take some looking for but the wait is worth it. REAL tools cost money. No tools worth having are cheap, they never have been.

The amazing thing about the junk tools sold on ebay (there is a huge Chinese industry just supplying ebay dealers) and Harbor Frieght is that you do not find them anywhere else in the world. They do not sell these cheap inferior tools in the countries of manufacture, the do not sell them in impoverished countries where the price of tools is VERY dear, they only sell them in the United States where people are stupid enough and rich enough to buy junk and throw it away if it does not work.

If some poor illiterate worker in an impoverished area of a third world country is smart enough not to buy these things then why would you?
   - guru - Thursday, 12/08/05 08:56:13 EST

Re: Anvil sledge ratio.
The sharpening of the big 8" to 12" bits with a sledge on a small 150# or so anvil does not negate the theory of required anvil weight to sledge weight theory.

In these cases, the anvil was merely a support. The sledge blows were horizontal, not directly down onto the anvil. The inertial mass of work itself was the "anvil". a 16# sledge against a 1000# drill bit is well within the theory for sledge/anvil masses.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 12/08/05 09:21:33 EST

For the answers you gave me, i'll post very soon the way i've decided to follow, until that time i'll keep under control this forum about some development on European suppliers of ITC Products.
Thanks Again guys!!
   Bicio - Thursday, 12/08/05 09:26:21 EST

I agree that a 100-200 lb anvil is ideal for most work, and with care and planning you can do most work on such an anvil.

A bigger anvil can make heavy work easier.

AND I would love a 500# anvil, just to have one!
   - John Odom - Thursday, 12/08/05 09:27:55 EST

I use a 0-3-8 anvil with a wide array of hammers ranging from 12 oz all the way up to a short handled 8 pound sledge. I've never used any stock thicker than 1/2", but then I've never had a need to use anything bigger (yet).

Any thoughts about that flexible/elastic wire idea yet?
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 12/08/05 09:39:16 EST

Irony: Someone with a $1500 PC that will only last three of four years shopping on a $40/month cable connection worrying about the cost of a real anvil (which would cost less than the PC) which would last several lifetimes.

Same person above also usually has many thousands of dollars invested in entertainment electronics that were worth less than 20% of paid price as soon as the box was opened and also only have a life of a few years. . .

Irony: The recent political cartoon where a Chinese mother is admonishing her child to eat all her rice because there are children starving in America.

Diamonds can burn, Anvils are forever!

   - guru - Thursday, 12/08/05 09:43:05 EST

Oil Field Anvils: The place where most "bridge" anvils are found is in the oil fields. These behemouths started at 600 to 800 pounds and many weighed well over 1000 pounds. However, these have not been available since the 1940's or 50's. I suspect the avialability of heavy plate and arc welding made these obsolete.

Although these are sometimes called railroad anvils, the railroad shops most commonly had 500 to 600 pound Hay-Buddens or other forged anvils. Ocassionaly new crated Hay-Buddens this size are found stashed away in a rairoad shop or wharehouse as two were in Pennsylvania in 1999.

When the hammer is a microscopic portion of the mass being hammered on (it is not being forged) then the work is its own "anvil" as John Odom noted. There is a big difference between dressing a surface and forging which is significantly changing the cross section of a piece.

In the era of built up forgings from wrought iron small rods were forged welded into huge masses using hand sledges and the mass its own "anvil" after reaching a certain size. But once the small bars were one with the larger mass forging (more than light dressing) had to be done under a machine where the proper hammer and mass ratios apply.

My "scientific" analysis was for those that think they can efficiently work 3/4" stock on a springy 20 pound rail-road anvil using a 3 pound hammer. You wouldn't do it, *I* wouldn't do it, and you certainly don't want to suggest to a frustrated newby that this is a perfectly normal way to work.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/08/05 10:46:46 EST

Anvil Lore.

I've gathered the following lore over the years, and I cannot substantiate it. I was told that in some early shops, they had two anvils, one for everyday work, maybe 160# - 250#, and a heavier anvil, maybe 350#+ for big work with sledges. The heavy one was sometimes mounted lower than the everyday, so that the strikers could "get down on it". I've heard that the big anvil was sometimes called a "hog" or a "hogger". In Mexico, I've heard that they called a big anvil a "marrana" (sow).

A couple of years ago, I bid on an eBay Hay-Budden in southern Missouri that weighed 350#. My Missouri cousin picked it up and held it for me, because I knew I would be driving his way and could pick it up a couple of months later. I did so and brought it home. I off-loaded, and there it sat on my shop floor. Honestly, for the kind of moderately sized work that I do, I didn't need the dang thing, even though it was in good shape and was beautiful. I sold it soon afterward for a slight profit.

There must be a moral lesson here, somewhere.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/08/05 11:21:14 EST

Back in Ohio I worked with a fellow whose father used to dress cable tool bits in PA. Before my colleague retired I spent some time debriefing him on how his father had done it. He had generally used a natural gas flame, right out of the pipe out of the well---usually a well close by they could tap off of evidently; and used the mass of the bit as the backing force to upset. He used a bridge anvil to shape it after it was upset to the proper size.

I have an oilfield bridge anvil and it is in sad shape. I always wanted to bring it into a SOFA anvil clinic and have it re-worked. However I saw a neat trick with one from a 5th generation smith in Stroud OK. He built a frame for it and flipped it upside down and used the large flat bottom to level plow points on.

My main shop anvil is a 500# Fisher and it's a joy to use, quiet and no bounce! to the right of it is my 91# arm and hammer travel anvil, to the right of it is the 134# HB and finally snugged up next to the forge is a 165# PW. Every one is at a different height and the horns are oriented different directions as well.

Cast Iron anvils are not worth the gas to get them home. A large chunk of steel from a scrap yard makes a superior anvil to an "anvil shaped object" made from cast iron. You will note that most of the world does quite nice smithing using things that do not look like a london pattern anvil so don't get hung up on the shape.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/08/05 11:43:47 EST

Per Jock "My "scientific" analysis was for those that think they can efficiently work 3/4" stock on a springy 20 pound rail-road anvil using a 3 pound hammer. You wouldn't do it, *I* wouldn't do it, and you certainly don't want to suggest to a frustrated newby that this is a perfectly normal way to work."

I was not arguing with the guru. I just had to write both sides of the theory.

John Odom has some very good additions and worthwhile points.

I just basically wanted to point out sometime we all over think some things.
   burntforge - Thursday, 12/08/05 11:45:57 EST

Well said Tom P.

As Tom points out many cable bits were dressed with natural gas or coal forge. Some were dressed on site and others were brought back to a maintenance shop that sometimes was a blacksmith shop, machine shop and small foundry all in one.

   burntforge - Thursday, 12/08/05 11:55:20 EST

Dressing A Oil Field Cable Bit

In the shops they typically used a coal forge. Onsite many times they carried a normal sized anvil and used the gas from the gas wells as Tom points out. They also had coal forges onsite as wel

In the repair shops the anvils were typically mounted to the floor or mount close to the floor and off the ground a bit.

They used a couple of methods to keep them from moving while the heavy sledging was done. They used what was called a "button block" at the opposite end of the end being dressed. This helped stabalize the bit and helped during upsetting.

Sometimes you will find anvil with a bar that goes into the hardie hole and runs over the edge and along the side of the anvil and then wraps tightly up over the horn. I sent Richard postman photos of this on an anvil for his next book. This helped keep the bit from walking side to side. They did anyway many times.

Now from my experience in the area I live of the original oil country just about any anvil they could get their hands on was used. You will see about one bridge anvil to every few hundred regular anvils ranging from 120-225 lbs. Yes they were worked over hard with very badly damaged edges and face plates. Many do have the horns and heels broken off or a huge sway in them. Some even sway sideways. As john O point out the bit was placed at and angle perpendicular to the anvil along the ede. Of course they used Trollies, cablies and chains to move them around. Typically two guys dressed the bits.

I agree and disagree with Jock about a bit is just dressed not a big item being forged. A new bit starts out ten feet long and is disguard between 4-3 feet in length. They is an amazing amount of upset and drawing out of the new bit ends. That is really heavy forging going on. Then the bit is end is hardened and quenched.

The trick was just to quench the very cutting end. If you quench the entire end it would be brittle and create a big chipped area while drilling. Now two guys would spend an entire day reforging the end. As you can see what jock mentions is not absolutley true. I have been very fortunate to live in the oil rich area and know may young and oldtimers that did this for a living. I was able to get some very good information.

Now keep in mind many companies and folks did some things differently as Tom P mentions. My methods of dressing may not always hold true. I forgot to mention during tempering they used a brick, so to shine the surface to see the colors run. I hope this information is helpful and interesting.
   burntforge - Thursday, 12/08/05 12:09:38 EST


Would you please respond to the last of many emails I sent to your current email account that you have not responded too.

What I am asking?

What is your new mailing address? I am going to send you some information for this site that is in hardcopy and not on my computer.

I also offered a Never Used Burnt Forge 7 lb minature ductile iron usable and designed for easy tranport swage block given and shipped to you for free to place on and raffle on this forum as funds for any purpose seen fit to benefit anvilfire. These blocks are now owned, made and sold by Centaur Forge. I was just the original designer.

It is slightly irritating me that you do not respond. I will forgive you though...BOG Thank You
   burntforge - Thursday, 12/08/05 12:33:09 EST

Nippulini - 316 get it in dead soft, aka as fully annealed condition. Should be braidable then. If you decide to anneal yourself, you'll need to remove scale, and passivate to get back to the stainless state (Others have discussed this on the site in the past in detail, so I won't go in to that at the moment.) Annealing - heat to 1900 or 1950 degrees F and oil or water quench. As you're talking wire, oil quench should be fine.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 12/08/05 13:42:24 EST

hi i'm a n00b in smithing and want to know how swordsmiths made their swords. I know that it needs a tang besides the blade but how long/heavy does the tang need to be,how do you secure the hilt and the handel. So on and so forth. info would be appreciated.
   Bob - Thursday, 12/08/05 14:06:37 EST

TGN, is there a reason why you don't want to use polyethylene or acrylic for this? I would assume it's an appearance thing, but... seems like it would be a lot easier.

Cloudy and calm in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 12/08/05 16:06:05 EST

swords details. .

The tang needs to be as heavy as possible almost breaking through the grip at the guard. There should be as large a radius at the tang as possible. This means fitting the guard to the radii not to a square corner which can result in the tang breaking off. Length of the tang is according to the pommell attachement method, size hand grip length or sword size (double handed?)

Modern bladesmiths carefully silver solder the guard onto blade. This produces a stong joint and avoids a crack where organic matter can collect and result in possible food poisioning (on knives).

The grip is held on by the pommell and the pommell is attached by one of the following:

1) End of tang upset (riveted)
2) End of tang threaded and the pommell screwed on.
3) Tang and pommell drilled and pined on.

Modern bladesmiths fit all these parts together with epoxy to assure tight fits.

If you look at any good knife with tang the assembly methods are identical, just scaled up a little.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/08/05 16:27:46 EST

The Guru's methods of course deal mainly with European swords; indian and far eastern swords sometimes used different hilting methods.

Bob; may I commend to your attention "The Complete Bladesmith" by James Hrisoulas as one of the few bladesmithing books dealing with swordmaking by a professional swordsmith.

I could type out the 30 to 40 pages of information you have asked about but it would annoy the rest of the folks.

Have you used the search function to see the answers we have already given to this monthly question?

To tease you I will say A swordsmith didn't make swords. Look in the archives to see why that is so.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/08/05 16:51:09 EST

When bending at a right angle and then upsetting such as in i-Forge demo #18 sometimes I notice a small hairline wavey crack. I assume it is from the metal getting packed so tight. Will this be a problem over time for a low stess application such as the top of a J shaped coat hook?
   Tyler Murch - Thursday, 12/08/05 17:34:33 EST


That "hairline wavy crack" is a cold-shut forming. When you bend at 90º or less and then upset toward the bend, the metal will try to fold over itself, or begin to wrinkle. The more you work it, that little wrinkle or fold gets incorporated into the corner, creating a stress riser. If the corner is going to experience any stress in use, it may break at that fold, particularly if it has been worked enough to force the fold deeply into the joint.

To avoid cold shuts in upset corners requires that you not let the metal fold over itself. The inside of the corner should always have a radius, even if it is a small one. This is another reasn that the edges of anvils need to be dressed to at least some radius. If you see a cold shut forming, stop working and either grind or file it out before you continue developing the corner. Otherwise, it just gets pushed deeper into the corner.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/08/05 20:29:11 EST

More on cold shut corners:

When upsetting a leg on a corner like that, it is better to use heavy blows than light ones. Light blows, or a light hammer, tend to move the surface of the metal more than the core. This makes it more prone to having the surface slip over itself inside the corner, starting a cold shut. The heavier blows move the center of the metal more and keep it moving with the skin so that there is less likelihood of a cold shut. You still have to be vigilant though, and correct them immediately.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/08/05 20:32:28 EST


You have to remember almost anything I write is meant with a little humor involved. You can't really tell how to take people in emails or post boards. I do feel overthinking hammer anvils ratio is a bit of an issue today...to a point anyway. I respect everyones elses opnion and views including yours and know they have validity.

As for this portion of your post:
Author Jock "My "scientific" analysis was for those that think they can efficiently work 3/4" stock on a springy 20 pound rail-road anvil using a 3 pound hammer. You wouldn't do it, *I* wouldn't do it, and you certainly don't want to suggest to a frustrated newby that this is a perfectly normal way to work."

My perspective:

You need to know you are talking to a NUT that made a knife with a campfire. Baby hammer and a aprox. 3 lbs rock as an anvil at a campsite. I also annealed the handle pins in the fire and used a carving saw to cut out the handle material and a small hand drill to put the holes in the handle material. The blade is O1. The rock did crack in four parts by the time it was completed. I am a firm believer in any means possible and working with nothing.
I was looking for a piece of railroad iron to give a friend of mine until we find him some sort of anvil. I think a 2 lbs hammer will do him just fine.

   burntforge - Thursday, 12/08/05 20:38:23 EST

hello all,
i am looking at a champion forge and blower power hammer it is a flat belt drive. it has not been used for some years.
could anyone tell me anything about this type of hammer? are they worth rebuilding? it looks like it is built very strong.
this type tool is new to me so i just dont know anything about them. any help or insights about this type hammer would be very usefull,
i am a self taught part time smith jus havin fun

thanks ron
   - ronald rumfelt - Thursday, 12/08/05 20:54:49 EST

Sharpening well bits.
As a 3rd grader,(1964) we moved into the rural area outside Louisville Ky, and the man across the road drilled water wells for extra money. He used a homemade cable drill rig mounted on a war surplus 6 by 6. I watched him sharpen the bits many times. And as a much older 5th grader helped a little from time to time. BOG
The process he used was to put the bit end first into an oil fired forge made from a 55 gallon drum filled with cast refractory. He would eye the steel and when he thought it right bring the bit out with an overhead monorail and chainfall. The bit was lowered onto the ground, with the end to be forged resting off the ground on a chunk of RR track. Then his sons and he would commence with sledges, and rotate to keep the chisel point. He used a magnet on a wire to check for quench temp. This was not light dressing but rather heavy forging. These bits made a 8" bore and were sort of figure 8 in cross section. Pounds of steel were moved to shape the sharp end. The threaded end rested against a stump to keep the thing from moving. The RR track was in no way an anvil just a fire proof rest. The mass of the bit and the stump reacted the forging. Took maybe half an hour to get the first heat. They would do an all day job of sharping bits, as the forge was slow to heat. Used a oil fired furnace burner for the forge. oddly his house was heated with an old stoker coal burner.
   ptree - Thursday, 12/08/05 21:51:35 EST


Great information and experience. Thanks for pointing out dressing a bit is heavy forgingn as well. As is noted well bits were sharpened many ways.
   burntforge - Friday, 12/09/05 01:00:03 EST

Hey, anybody familiar with Mark Krauses book on repairing Nazels?--Where can I get a copy--Thanks, Walt~
   walt badgerow - Friday, 12/09/05 08:23:21 EST

Walt, didn't know he had a book out. He had a plan booklet many years ago for building a DIY self contained hammer based on the Nazel valving. I haven't seen reference to it since it came out in 2000.

There is a video on repairing Nazels. I cannot recommend it as it suggests things like replacing worn bronze bearings with babbit. There is a huge difference in the strength of the two materials. . .

Nazels are not hard to repair, just expensive. Large expensive new parts must be made from scratch. To completely rebuild one RIGHT will cost $25,000 to $60,000. But considering they are much better than the Chambersburgs that followed them (that last sold for several hunderd thousand and UP) it may be a worthwhile investment. I know at least one company that spent that much rebuilding a Nazel 3B after buying a new Chambersburg and testing it.

   - guru - Friday, 12/09/05 11:06:50 EST

Champion Hammer: Ronald, Although not a popular or a s pretty as Little Giants they were a very good hammer. The belt clutch was also used by Bradley and Fairbanks makers of the worlds best mechanical hammers. The Little Giant clutch LOOKS more sophisticated (it is) but it is the wrong application for a cone clutch and very problematic. So that old flat belt drive with clutching is not something to look down on.

These hammers have a very good mechanism and perform quite well. Their only weekness is that like other tools of this sort they have not been made in amny years and you are on your own when repairing. The main thing to look for is a damaged dovetail in the frame where the dies mount. A break here is difficult and very expensive to repair. Almost everything else can be repaired economicaly.
   - guru - Friday, 12/09/05 11:15:04 EST

I'm really into swords, mainly Katanas, and what to get into blacksmithing to get experience making them and practicing with them.So my questions are this... what type of metal is good for a katana and how do I get it to curve slightly?
   Joe Page - Friday, 12/09/05 13:23:49 EST


thanks much for the info about the champion hammer.
i think i will try to buy the hammer if i can, i looked at it again today and could not find any broken or cracked places,i looked at the dies and the hold down for the dies and seen no damadge. the clutch and brake looked to be all there the springs and armes were all in rusty, but good shape.
the only othet markings that i found was on the ram "ASC 18" the model no. and serial no, were not visible on the tage that was attached to the machine. every thing was loose enough to be moved and it was not frozen like i thought it might be.
it does not have a motor on it so i turned it as much as i could by hand, do you know what size motor it will need? also how many strokes per min. should it run. thanks again ron.
ronald rumfelt vein mountain forge
   - ronald rumfelt - Friday, 12/09/05 14:29:09 EST

i'm from argentina and i want to learn blacksmiting, but i dont found some of the text books in spanish that u recomend(and for wath u can see mi inglish is poor).
i wander if someone can recomend me some texts in spanish for a biginer.

   Bruno - Friday, 12/09/05 14:53:23 EST

Joe; the traditional metal was often about 1050 steel and very shallow hardening. They got the curve by forging and shaping the blade straight and then applying a mixture of clay and other stuff to the spine of the blade and heating to just above the critical temperature and quenching in warm water. This hardened the edge and left the spine soft and curved the blade.

If you use a modern deeper hardening higher carbon steel you may want to forge the curve in and note that trying to "clay temper" using oil can result in a reverse curve to what you want.

Ronald---what model hammer is it? I have a model 0 and use an old 2hp motor on it and was advised that if it was ever replaced with a modern motor to go up by a factor of 1.5 as the old large motors have extra torque from the size differential.

   Thomas P - Friday, 12/09/05 16:22:17 EST

Reference Castellano Guía Practica de la Forja Artistica: Bruno, Try this one.
   - guru - Friday, 12/09/05 16:57:53 EST

Champion Hammer: Ronald, These came in three sizes, 30, 60 and 125 pounds. They were numbered 0, 1, 2. The speed varies according to size but would be similar to a Little Giant or Fairbanks of the same size. However, Faibanks had a stroke length adjustment which would let it run faster as shorter stroke. Champion does not have this adjustment.

30# - 475 RPM max 1.5 HP
60# - 300 RPM max 2 HP
125# - 250 RPM max 2-1/2 - 3 HP

The dies are held in by wedges in a dovetail. There should be no "hold down".

   - guru - Friday, 12/09/05 17:30:56 EST

Acrylics in body piercing:

IMO acrylics and other non metallic piercing products are a bad idea. The body is actually a very intolerable place for most materials. PTFE, bio-plastics and such degrade RAPIDLY when exposed to some of the bodies fluids, antibodies, etc. I've seen plastics literally MELT in a piercing after only a week or so. My earlier posts concerning 316L to ASTM183 steel goes more into that. The only poly product I've seen withstand the body to the highest limits is Lucite. Problem is Lucite is extremely hard and brittle, it works best in items 0 gauge and thicker.

   - Nippulini - Friday, 12/09/05 17:36:23 EST

Body piercings WTF !!
No matter the material, Maybe piercings are a bad idea in general?? WTF ??
But if dippydo pierced kids want to make a house payment for somebody else,,, Have at it.
My piercings came as a free benefit of working for Uncle Sam.
   - Mike - Friday, 12/09/05 18:07:36 EST

Mike, TGN has a rather long (well for the internet) track record with CSI. You may want to search out his first questions in the archive. A rather unique person with some rather odd questions over time---I'm glad he's here!

TGN, I've been thinking over your "braided cable" question and have come to the conclusion that it would have to be totally sealed within a smooth non-reactive sheath to provide both flexibility and no place for bacteria to lodge. What came to my mind is some of the wire/catheter systems they use in medical procedures to snake equipment through arteries or are used as stents. I would suggest you talk with some Urologists and Cardiologists and see if anything they are using could be modified for your purposes.

Living in a desert body piercing is a way of life but the goatheads, mesquite thorns and cactus spines are, unfortunately, very biologically active. Out here bike tires have to have both kevlar linings and slime in the tubes to get you back from even a short ride.

   Thomas P - Friday, 12/09/05 18:54:09 EST

Nippulini-- as one scheduled to have those nasty fogged-up lenses God gave me replaced with some nice, crystal-clear new plastic ones starting Jan. 12, I am muy alarmed to read your negative findings re: plastic.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/09/05 19:07:04 EST

In other words, what I am asking is, what do you know that every optometrist. ophthalmologist and surgeon I have consulted re: this very question of plastic durability in the bod doesn't?
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/09/05 19:09:20 EST

I know the ultra high molecular weight polyethylene is used in replacement joints in the body. As a knee replacement is usually good for 15 years or so perhaps you should look into UHMW Polyethylene. I am also under the impression the PTFE is quite good in the body as well. Are you sure that PTFE has a degradation issue in the body?
   ptree - Friday, 12/09/05 19:27:25 EST

Honestly, I wasn't having a go at Mr. Nippulini.
Just the notion of piercings here kind of struck me odd.
   - Mike - Friday, 12/09/05 20:00:32 EST

my uncle has a rectangular block of steel that he uses for a door stop. its demensions are approximatly 12 inches by 10 inches by 4 inches. this is a better idea than the "cheap cast iron anvil" from harbor freight. eh!... eh!
   - anthony - Friday, 12/09/05 20:01:49 EST

also: is there any type of mathimatical formula that i use to figure an approximate weight for my uncle's door stop
   - anthony - Friday, 12/09/05 20:10:15 EST

On forge insulation, what temperatures are required for steel welding?
   tiptop - Friday, 12/09/05 20:13:14 EST

what size "I" beam will span 12 ft and support a chain fall with 1 ton capacity? I would prefer to over build if possible but I don't want to overspend either. Would be lifting under 1000 lbs mostly. Is there a risk in using scrap steel?
   brian robertson - Friday, 12/09/05 20:35:00 EST

Weight of a steel doorstop.
Rolled steel is about 495 pounds/cubic foot, cast steel is a bit lower.
   - Håkan - Friday, 12/09/05 20:48:03 EST


If you go to the drop-down menu at the upper right of the screen, you'll see "Mass 3j calculator." This is a handy little utility that the Guru wrote to enable one and all to calculate the volume, weight, etc of a number of different materials. Try it, you'll like it.
   vicopper - Friday, 12/09/05 21:58:30 EST


Insulation rated for 2300ºF will be sufficient for forge welding. Keep in mind though, that flux will gobble up ceramic fiber and soft firebrick at those temperatures, so the floor of the forge should be something that will withstand flux. Hard firebrick, castable refractory and mullite or silicon carbide kiln shelves are all good choices for the floor.

   vicopper - Friday, 12/09/05 22:02:23 EST

Beams for 2000# at 12ft, pin or pivot supported both ends:

W6 x 12, deflection .21", stress 10,289 PSI
W5 x 16, deflection .21". stress 8,846 PSI
M8 x 8.5 deflection .24", stress 15,888 PSI
S6 x 12.5 deflection .20", stress 10,136 PSI

Rule #1. ALWAYS Rate the beam at LEAST as much as the lift capacity. A Professional Engineer would have multiplied the capacity of your hoist by 1.5 minimum then calculated the deflection. The above is based on exactly 2000 pounds. There is no room for snagging something, forgetting a load binder and lifting the truck, having rigging slip and catching the load greatly increasing the actual load many times. . . You NEVER EVER assume less than what the hoist is rated. Manual hoists assume ONE average individual pulling on the chain. One big guy OR a couple small guys will overload the hoist.

Rule #2. Hoisting beams are rated by deflection with a maximum of .25" at the center of a point loaded beam being normal. Stress is usualy limited at 10,000 PSI for a safety margin. All but one of the above beams meet both criteria.

Rule #4. Deflection goes up by the cube in the increase in length. You can use a 13 foot beam above with the support 6" from each end. However, if you use a longer span then none of the above means anything.

Rule #5. You get pretty much what you pay for. This is not advice from a liscensed PE. However, the calculations were done with a proven and tested program that I wrote and are accurate to the best of my knowledge.

Rule# 6. Those cheap little hold in one hand Chinese chain hoists have less then ZERO safety factor and are not safe to lower loads near half their capacity. What makes big industrial rated hoists (Like Yale) big is the size of the load brake which must disapate heat as the load is lowered. Those little hoists with 5" wheels overheat instantly and will not support the load without YOU holding on. This is very embarrasing when you are working alone and you need to get something to support the load but you cannot let go of the hoist. . .

Scrap steel must be examined for excessive corrosion. If you carefully measure the height, width of flange and the thickness of the web and compare it to data in the AISC steel manual or Machinery's Handbook to identify the exact section, THEN weigh it, you will know how much has been lost to rust. If it is more than 5% then don't expect it to support the design load. If there are any cuts in the flanges it can greatly weaken the beam and create stress concentrations that could possibly cause a problem.
   - guru - Friday, 12/09/05 22:16:55 EST

Mr. Nippulini I believe has lifted or wanted to lift anvils with his piercing rings. You ask what does that have to do with smithing? If you ever look at a Gil Fahrenwald calendar for 2004 the March picture shows 3 blacksmiths lifting anvils with straps attached to their ears.....the winner of the competition was a 62 year old smith who lifted a 155# anvil with his ears! This was in 1917 and made it to "Ripleys believe it or not" in 1944......so, there is a precedent .....of sorts. All three of those old boys were built like gorillas. I have to call in "welding markers" from my neighbors to pick up a 155# anvil!
   Ellen - Friday, 12/09/05 22:45:39 EST

Anthony: Turn that block of steel up on the end so it is 12" high and You are working on the 4x10 surface. It will work as well as a 175# anvil in this position.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 12/09/05 23:04:07 EST

Joe Page,

Making a katana as was done in Japan is a very involved process. Two books: "The Craft of the Japanese Sword" by Kapp and Yoshihara ISBN 0-87011-798-X (U.S.) and "Nippon-To Art Swords of Japan; The Walter A. Compton Collection", Japan House Gallery, Japan Society, Inc. ISBN 0-913304-05-0


Width times thickness times 3.396 equals weight per foot length.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/09/05 23:51:40 EST

Joe Page,

A katana is extremely difficult to forge as a beginner. Infact any sword is quite a task. I suggest start small and forge Tantos and work your way up to a Wakizashi and then a katana.

The curve of the katana and wakizashi (and some tantos) is made during the heat treating process.

Question: How long must a 1018 barstock must "cook" in a charcoal furnace or oven before the carbon content reaches anywhere between 1050 and 1070?
   chainmailleman - Saturday, 12/10/05 00:42:34 EST

Chainmailman: The carbon will go in further the longer the work is in the carbon environment, but it will never go in far enough to allow for much grinding after the heat treatment. Kasenit compound claims "up to .020 case in 50 min." Charcoal powder will not perform nearly as well.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 12/10/05 00:59:20 EST


The old cementation process was done in a large furnace with usually Swedish wrought iron (in England), but could be done with low carbon steel. A charge weighed 8 to 13 tons. The AIRTIGHT "pots" within the furnace were heated via flues.It took three to four days for the furnace to reach full temperature (always below melting). The iron was held 9½ days for a "medium heat" and 11 days for a "high carbon heat". It took 4 to 6 days for the big furnace to cool down. The result was blister steel made from wrought iron, although if mild steel was used, the surface "blisters" or "bubbles" were absent. The carbon impregnated the bars fairly deeply but was heterogeneous, the percentage decreasing toward the center of the bar. These bars were made primarily for the later production of crucible steel, in which the carbon content became homogeneous. Reference "Iron and Steel", Tiemann.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/10/05 02:03:00 EST

Anthony: As noted, turning the block on edge produces considerable mass below the top. However, I suspect your block is mild steel and thus subjects to dings and dents from missed blows and just hammering on the metal. Those can be reduced by good hammer control and always working the metal hot. However, if you wore out one side, you could just turn to another one.

You can weld on a _[ ]_ (closed at top) on the side for a hardy hole. If mild steel, drilling one or more pritchel holes on the flat side shouldn't be too difficult.

For a horn, use a cone mandrel. For a heel, perhaps weld on a short length of heavy angle iron to one side at the top. Pritchel/punching holes could be drilled in it also.

Flat side offers some options, such as drilling in rivet backer holes.

You might make a stand for it like a two-position swage block. It allows for holding the block flat and on any one of the four edges.

If your uncle won't part with it, try local scrapyards. The one I use normally has blocks of this nature for $.25 per pound.

Seems like lots of options there for a useable, and inexpensive, anvil.

You can weigh it on most bathroom scales.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/10/05 07:13:42 EST

Seems I read somewhere that cementation of steel with bone charcoal proceeds at something like .006" per hour at 1900 degrees or so, but I don't remember where. Modern case-hardening powders are much faster. I've seen wrought iron "steeled" in a sealed crucible with modern powder in about two hours.

The question is, assuming you're trying to make a medium-high carbon wire, why not start with higher-carbon wire? Unless you want to cook a whole hauberk after assembly or something like that, of course.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 12/10/05 11:06:09 EST

Frank/Chainmailleman: After the carbon treating, if I read right, the steel could tbe cut into smaller pieces and then reforged to give a more homogeneous steel, calle d shear steel, or if totally melted-crucible steel.
   JLW - Saturday, 12/10/05 11:40:30 EST

Carburization and Decarburization: Chainmailleman, Within a forge or furnace the atmosphere can vary greatly. In most cases carbon is burned OUT of the steel (decarburization). Bladesmiths that forge their blades leave sufficient material to grind off the decarburized material (thus the addage "forge thick, grind thin"). Adding of carbon only occurs under very controlled circumstances. This usualy occurs in controlled atmosphere furnaces, sealed case hardening boxes or lidded crucibles.

Of the modern methods of case hardening one is the use of consumable carbon/graphite boxes. Parts are placed in these and then heated in a furnace. Within the box the carbon gases off creating a controlled carbon rich atmosphere.

Our FAQ on case hardening has the data on depth vs. time from the ASM Heat Treaters Guide. Temperature is a factor, the higher the faster the rate of absorption. However, the heat treaters guide does not recommed the higher temperatures. I suspect it is due to grain growth as most modern case hardening is a final or near final process.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/10/05 12:05:55 EST

As Allan asked, WHY? Steel of all kinds are plentiful today in virtually all forms. Unless there is a reason to practice primitive methods or make exact reproductions.

Sometimes it helps to tell us what you are making that you need a certain process for.

   - guru - Saturday, 12/10/05 12:17:46 EST

Guru, What do you think about refacing anvils with hard welding rod and regrinding?? Anyone out there have feedback??
   Greg Derse - Saturday, 12/10/05 13:19:25 EST


The old fashioned method I described took place where the bars of iron, about 3/4" x 3" x 12', were packed in layers with charcoal in between. Smaller sample pieces (trial bars) could be occasionally withdrawn to check how the process was going.

JLW. Yes, the shear steel was made of cut pieces that were piled six together, surrounded by fire clay and borax, and then fagot welded. A single weld forming a bar was termed "single shear steel", and if that bar was doubled and welded, it was called "double shear steel". Much of this shear steel was used in England as cutlery steel.

By controlled melting of blister steel, the carbon was distributed uniformly throughout the melt and in the final product. The usual term for the steel product was "cast steel" in England and "crucible steel" in the U.S. Sometimes, we see old tools stamped "cast steel", meaning that the tool was forged from cast steel.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/10/05 13:55:40 EST

Greg-- if you try it, be sure you pre-heat the anvil face at least somewhat, otherwise the hard-surface beads will crack transverse to the bead every inch or so as they shrink upon cooling. I gave up on that and used 6013 instead. Has held up okay under moderate/occasional use last 25 years or so. Would use 6011 today. But the anvil, a beat-up Peter Wright, was totally shot or I'd not have done it at all.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 12/10/05 14:20:21 EST

Pierced Blacksmiths- this must be a regional thing- last NWBA conference I was at, in September, I would estimate of the 200-300 people there, 75% of em were pierced someplace or other- Mostly just earrings, but a good 2 dozen people there had nose/eyebrow/lip ironwork visible, both male and female, and I wouldnt even venture a guess at the amount of piercings "below the waterline".
But my impression is that out here anyway, blacksmiths are probably above the regional average in piercings- with some pretty spectacular ones in evidence on sunny days. Big glass cones in the ear, like 3/4" diameter, is not uncommon. Most of the old guys I know have at least one hole in their ear- even the guys who work day jobs- its just not that big a deal anymore.

the most extreme I have seen lately, though not a blacksmith, was the girl who had threaded inserts set into her skull- I am not making this up- she then screwed in different "horns" including real horn models.

As far as flexible stainless with no place for bacteria, I think it is an idea that doesnt have a good answer. Tubing is a possiblity, but if you actually flex it, it will eventually break. And if all you are doing is prebending it, than I see no advantage over solid.
   - Ries - Saturday, 12/10/05 16:52:27 EST

Anvil Repair: Greg, we have written pages on repairing anvils and I REALLY need to edit a FAQ on the subject. Our recommendation is to never make anvil repairs unless it is so torn up as to be useless. And then do as little as possible.

1) Anvils are hardened and tempered tool steel. This is hard to repair without making soft and or hard places in the underlying or surrounding face, OR creating or extending cracks.

2) Hardfacing rods are generally too hard for anvil repair. Rods designed for fill or underlay of hardfacing rods work better. Most folks have gone to using plain rods or rods designed for joining high carbon and alloy steels. The high tech rods are often called "Super Missile Rod" or "Super Missileweld" and have tensile strengths of 100 PSI or more.

3) Heat treating an anvil is a significant part of its cost and doing such to a used anvil is generally not cost effective.

4) Complete refacing with hard facing rod is not cost effective. The rod is expensive, the fuel (electricity) is higher than you think and the amount of abrasives required to clean up the mess is not insignifigant.

Old anvils can be improved a great deal by dressing a little with an angle grinder or a belt sander. Edges can be dressed back at a slight angle then radiused. This will often clean up most chipping and prevent future chipping. IF there are deep chips then dress the sharp edges off lightly with a flap wheel and work around them. Dusting off the face makes a huge difference.

You are better off with a slightly ragged edge than one that has been "repaired" only to break out worse from the repairs.

   - guru - Saturday, 12/10/05 17:13:02 EST

Body Deformation.

I met a very much tatooed gal who said she had just finished taking a branding class. I commented that I made a lot of branding irons, but that I wasn't aware they had classes in branding. She said, "Oh no, not cows and horses; people!" She said that they used variously shaped 'sheet metal' pieces that were heated and applied.

I swan!

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/10/05 17:35:57 EST

Hello again. I am just getting back into blacksmithing after a semester of hard studying. I will be about ready to heat treat a hand and a half sword in a few weeks if all goes to plan. I was wondering if it was feasible or even wise to clay harden it. I have been told that a basonite (apparently found at gardening type stores) and water mix works magnificently for clay hardening (a journeyman smith described this much to me but not in enough detail to make good use of it). Anyhow, I do not know if I have asked you this before (even in my 20's my conversations seem to repeat themselves more and more frequently as time decays my memory) and if so, please just say so. If not, I would like to express concern over the ammount of stress that would be in a double edged blade with a soft center. If I were to harden both edges but not the middle, would that possibly cause a warp or even enough tension to crack the blade? I was also wondering a few things about the process of clay hardening as well. I will now start referring to the process as if I were concerned with clay hardening a single edged blade, merely because it is easier to describe. How does one determine the thickness of clay along the edge, and the spine of the blade? How can I know that the clay is on there in a uniform thickness? Even if the clay coating is perfectly flat, I worry that the blade could be off center with the clay. And how does one determine the proper temperature for quenching? I usually use a magnet, but since there is a thin layer of clay along the edge, and an even thicker one along the spine, a magned would be difficult to use. And the color of the steel cannot be seen, only the color of the clay. I do not own a forge temperature control device, nor do I own a thermometer of any kind (mechanical or chemical) that would alert me to the proper temperature. Is there a trick to it, or do I need to go out and get a proper thermometer for this type of thing? By the way, the steel I am working with is 1095. Thanks in advance.

Matthew Marting
   Matthew Marting - Saturday, 12/10/05 18:08:45 EST

Frank Turley,
And to think I try pretty darn hard to not get hot bits of metal on me! I must be really behind the times.
   ptree - Saturday, 12/10/05 18:11:21 EST

New England Coal Sorce:

If anyone in New England is having trouble finding good coal you might want to try Aubuchon Hardware they have 50 locations in New England, www.hardwarestore.com, click heating and cooling then click fireplace, you will see blacksmith coal in 40# bags. I just picked up 10 bags today that they ordered in for me, they were 50# bags not 40# and the price was $7.49 per bag. I fired up the forge today and tried it out, size is from 3/8" to about 3/4", it cokes real nice and gets real hot. I don't have any specs on it, All I know is that it is from blaschak coal and is bituminous. I had the forge going for about 4 hours and only pulled out 3 pieces of clinker. It might not be the best coal out there but I am very happy with it. I live in CT and have a real hard time getting good coal, I thought I would pass this on to anyone in the same situation.

   Jeff - Saturday, 12/10/05 18:52:04 EST

For sword stock consider going to a farm implement dealer and obtaining a replacement spring tooth for a rock rake. They are 1/4" x 1" x 27" and are spring steel.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/10/05 20:18:12 EST

Matthew Marting.

I keep referring folks to the book, "The Craft of the Japanese Sword" by Kapp and Yoshihara. On pages 85 through 94, the authors talk about the use of a clay-charcoal-pulverized sandstone mixture to create the hamon. The mixture is applied carefully with a small spatula. The glowing red heat for hardening can be seen in spite of the covering, and the quench is done in tepid water in a dark shop at nighttime. It is pretty involved and very skillful craftsmanship if you're looking for surface martensitic patterns on the finished sword. Yoshihara pre curves the blade somewhat, but he realizes that after quenching, the blade will have a little more curve.

I cannot comment on the efficacy of the use of basonite, and I cannot predict what would happen with a two edged sword.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/10/05 20:21:47 EST

Flexible body implants -- There's probably a very good reason why this wouldn't work, but what about fine gold? Soft, won't work harden, and seems to survive in the body well (at least as jewelry and fillings).
   Mike B - Saturday, 12/10/05 20:45:28 EST


Human Body Branding...I have a few more words to add to your I swan!

hecky darn, shoot fire, and aw sugar!! BOG

So Frank was she hotter than a double horned anvil with all those tatoos?

I hope you asked to tell you what each tat symbolized.
   burntforge - Saturday, 12/10/05 21:30:21 EST

Bodywork-- Long ago, in 1950, in the back of our 8th grade (!) classroom Deanna would carve her boyfriend's initials into the epidermis of her upper arm with a razor blade and then fill the 1/8-inch wide incisions of the inch or so high letters in with ball point pen ink. Cartoonist Garry Trudeau recently defended including a joke in a Donesbury strip about Top Gun (a Yalie like himself) and the branding of fraternity initiates at Yale by citing a story in the campus newspaper of the day reporting the practice. Self-mutilation has always had its devotees.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 12/10/05 22:52:19 EST

I am a welder and i just came across a pile of coal in the bulding my shop is in and I wanted to play but i cant get the coal to light
   steve - Saturday, 12/10/05 23:07:46 EST

Steve, are you sure it is coal? Gravel on the surfaces coal gets dumped often got mixed in and colored black by the coal. . . Won't burn. There are two basic types of coal but the reality it the variety is infinite ranging from peat to carbony shale or oil shale to hard anthracite. In between is good bituminous coal.

Blacksmithing coal is the best bituminous you can find. It is relatively soft, low ash, high BTU and just enough volitiles to let it convert into light fluffy coke as it burns. It can be lit with some paper and a match. A fire can be controlled that is just barely burning to white hot (3200°F) by the blast of air.

Anthracite is hard shiny dense nearly pure carbon. The lack of volitiles makes it near impossible to light. It requires a lot of kindling and a blown fire OR a torch. Once going it requires a constant blast of air to keep burning. It is miserable to use in the forge. It either burns white hot or not at all.

Cheap grades of coal are not suitable for blacksmithing. I've had folks give me oil shale. It was terrible to get going and once burning it produced great yellow flames and little heat. Then it suddenly went out and let clinker that was the full volume of the original "coal".

   - guru - Saturday, 12/10/05 23:34:23 EST

My shop is in an old school in haverhill MA and there is a wicked big pile of what i think is coal next to the old furance it is shiny and brakes apart like slate
   steve - Saturday, 12/10/05 23:43:32 EST

I could not get it going with my tourch
   steve - Saturday, 12/10/05 23:44:33 EST

steve: Walk us through each of the steps you used to try to get the coal lit. Perhaps we can see the problem there.

Coal will crumble, gravel won't as a test.

Been a while since I lit my coal forge but my practice was to clean out the firepot, wad up three full sheets of newspaper into a ball, light the bottom, put over the tuyere, turn on the blower SLOW and then put small pieces of coal on the paper. Once the paper was burning well I would put on a bit larger chucks and turn up the blast a bit. Once it seemed to be going better I covered the pile with coal and pretty well opened the air value full. After a bit I would poke a hole in the top of the mound to get the volcano effect. I found two full sheets of newspaper just were enough for kindling.

I have seen folks cut up dry spruce 2x4s into short pieces, chop them up into pieces not much bigger than a fat pencil and soak them in kerocene or diesel to use as kindling. (Somewhat an old Boy Scout campfire trick.)
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/11/05 07:11:54 EST


Ref the hecky darn coal.

Ken's description is good. When starting with a whisper of a blast, I smother any little live flames that might peep up here and there, using small pieces of coke or coal. It gets smoky, but not to worry. The smoke pretty much goes away when you get a bright hot spot of a fire. It takes a few minutes.

Also, lightly tamp down the coal/coke mound from the top, when starting. If you don't, sometimes the paper burns away rapidly leaving a cavity, and the coal collapses to the bottom of the pot. Then you got nothin'.

Another thing. In the beginning stage, when you think you're getting somewhere, do not put your workpiece in. Wait until you get that central "hot spot", sweet spot, which will be glowing bright yellow, nearly white. THEN put the work in. If you put the work in too early, it impedes the fire starting process. It adds time to the process, and it may even put the fire out.

When you think the fire looks pretty good, you can cone it around with green (unused) coal, 3"-5" tall, except maybe in front, where your workpiece rests. In front, make a low "shelf" of green coal to act as a work "rest".

"Did you put the cat out?"

"I didn't know it was on fire!"
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/11/05 09:42:21 EST

As I do a lot of forge work & forge welding I often find myself with tired eyes & want to buy a pair of suitable glasses. I have some Number 3 lenses but it"s hard to see while working.Which are better for the eyes, ( Apart from the Price)Bouton 5907 series number Green Filter Lenses or Didydium?
   - Claudio T - Sunday, 12/11/05 10:27:47 EST

With a bit of Internet research I came up with the following: Blaschak Coal Corp., Saint Nicholas St., Mahanoy City, PA 17948 (www.blaschakcoal.com or contactus@blaschakcoal.com).
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/11/05 10:51:22 EST

I'm not sure you can answer my question, but I'm thinking you can. I saw a show on TV where a man took a piece of sheet metal and torched it for effect. I believe after he got through he varnished it but I don't remember what kind of project he was doing. It was a long time ago. I am thinking about torching a piece of sheet metal to put up as an accent wall for my fireplace surround. Is this stupid? I remember thinking how unique and pretty the piece was that I saw. Do you think it could work?
   Pam - Sunday, 12/11/05 10:59:26 EST

hi, love your site, esp.(iforge). Recently started forge work can anyone recommend a good book to help me along(small words, big pictures) also where to buy it from to get it sent to Gods favorite part of the world (England)! cheers, geoff
   geoff rimmer - Sunday, 12/11/05 12:57:13 EST

Geoff Rimmer:

I would recommend several:

- The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer. While not necessarily a 'how-to' book, it gives a really nice overview of blacksmithing.

- Practical Projects for the Blacksmith by Ted Tucker. Nifty small items he designed to be done by amatures.

- The Blacksmith's Craft. This is more of a trade manual published in England. You can do far worse than starting at project #1 and working your way one by one through them.

- 101 Metal Working Projects for the Novice Blacksmith by Al Cannella. Basically write-ups of some of the many demonstrations he attended.

- If you have access to old horseshoes, 101 Things You Can Build from Horseshoes by W. F. Dohrmann.

These are sold by some of the forum advertisers. I suspect most will ship to England.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/11/05 13:16:26 EST

thanks ken, where do i find the forum advertisers? (sorry if i seem syupid but im not a computer guy) on the subject of stupid? i thought this wasnt a very up to date site, ladt entry was 12 nov. but eventually realised that you americans out day before month? what does EST mean?
   geoff - Sunday, 12/11/05 14:31:59 EST

EST means Eastern Daylight Time. As you go west you hit Central Standard Time, Rockly Mountain Time and Pacific Daylight Time as I recall. Usually one hour difference in zones as you go west.

To find the advertisers look for the NAVIGATE anvilfire box in the upper right. Use it to scroll down to Advertisers. ArtisianIdeas, Centaur Forge and Pieh Tool Company have a nice selection of books. My eBay store (Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools) only has two of them.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/11/05 14:41:24 EST

geoff-- check out http://www.countryside.gov.uk/NewEnterprise/Economies/craftpublications.asp Lotsa how-to goodies you can download free! Including the COSIRA classic. If the website still exists and feels like functioning.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 12/11/05 15:21:31 EST

Hey guys. Just checked all the posts. I'm glad to see that I have such an impact here. Anyway, the gold wire idea is a good start, but would probably be way too expensive. I think what I am trying to find is a magical nonexistant material. Not only do I want it to be flexible, but having "memory" would be good too (retaining an original shape).

Piercings... what can I say? The only problem I could forsee is getting spatter stuck to jewelry, then having the jewelry turn through the pierce with the sharp jagged spatterballs slicing the interior of the pierce. Ouch! The most famous pierced tattooed blacksmith would HAVE to be Rasmus Nielsen. He is my GOD and the main influence in my career, both show wise and in the smithy. The Gil Fahrenwald photos are actually three different shots of the same man. He did anvil lifts without piercing though. Someone here sent me a link to a photo of a guy picking up an anvil singlehanded by the horn! I forget the name. The way I understand it is back-in-the-day there wasn't a lot of things to do with your down time. No TV, movies, etc. So, many smiths would get pierced, tattooed, do oddball tricks with their tools. Rasmus Nielsen would hang 12 pound sledges from his ears too!

Gotta go. Thanks for the ideas.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 12/11/05 16:14:23 EST

I have found a piece of chain with a hook attached that is obviously handmade.Is there any way to tell the origins of things like this ?
   sloopdog1 - Sunday, 12/11/05 16:15:46 EST

Short answer, no.

The place found and history if in its original location can help but most common articles such as this do not have makers marks or styles such that they can be dated.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/11/05 17:16:38 EST

Claudio T,

Get the Bouton glasses. Didymium glasses are fine if you're a glassblower, as they filter out sodium flare. Blacksmiths don't need didymium. I b elieve the Anvilfire Store sells the Bouton glasses, at least that's where I got mine.
   vicopper - Sunday, 12/11/05 17:17:00 EST


One of your countrymnen wrote what I think is one of the finest beginning books on blacksmithing, "The Atrist Blacksmith" by Peter Parkinson. There is a review of it on the Bookshelf page. Just go to the drop-down menu and click on "Bookshelf - Reviews."
   vicopper - Sunday, 12/11/05 17:20:19 EST

Filter Lenses: Claudio, Didydium glasses are designed for filtering sodium flare from glass. The standard green lenses are designed to filter IR and reduce glare. Both provide the same degree of safety. However, the Didydium glasses will filter more of the flare coming off flux as borax fluxes are sodium based.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/11/05 17:21:15 EST

Coloring Metal: Pam, The coloring resulting from taking a torch to plate depends on the type of metal. Bright clean steel produces some temper colors but they are not very durable. Titanium alloy sheet produces brilliant oxidation colors (like a rainbow) that are fairly durable.

However, in both cases the metal if left unprotected will oxidize. In a fireplace surround you would need a clear heat resistant coating. These do not exist as far as I known. So that is why you see black, black and more black. These are usualy graphite based paints.

Polished metals like copper and brass hold up fairly well to oxidation and make colorful firebacks. However, they must be heavy enough to prevent melting.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/11/05 17:34:06 EST

Jeff, I'm glad to see the Blashack coal is working out for you. As I said previously I've been using coal from them for several years and it has been consistantly decent stuff. Thank's for sharing the source info with your fellow blacksmiths in New England. I'm fortunate here in New Jersey as I just have to cross the river and drive a few miles to get mine. Have you considered joining CSI- the support group for this site? By helping to maintain the site you can help insure that all of this information continues to be available. Right now the CSI members are conducting an election for a new board of directors and continue to work on additional funding sources for Anvilfire.
   SGensh - Sunday, 12/11/05 17:38:00 EST

Thanks for the refrence, and the info.
   Matthew Marting - Sunday, 12/11/05 19:11:31 EST

I am 63 and am retired and live in Indiana. My first introduction to blacksmithing was in 1967 when I was taught how to sharpen and temper a pick. From that point on my hoppy was working with iron. I think I could really improve some of the work I do if I could add some color to it. I know about buffing with a bronze brush, but can you help me with, or put me on the right track wherein I can create other colors such as green, turquoise or even reddish tints. Thanks much - Mike
   Mike Grace - Sunday, 12/11/05 19:12:03 EST

I'm new to this craft. I'm doing a course at a local agricultural college. I've aquired a portabal forge to set up at home but it has a hole in the bellows. What's the best way to repair this hole.
   - Stuart Winsor - Sunday, 12/11/05 19:25:33 EST

Mike, I don't know of any, unless you cleverly apply some good enamel of the appropriate colors.

Stuart, Is it really a leather bellows, or is it a fan case? Cast iron or sheet steel?
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/11/05 22:05:08 EST

Mike Grace,

Steel isn't a metal that will readily develop chemical patinas the way that copper will. What you might try is a rub-on type of paint like Gidlers Paste.

   vicopper - Sunday, 12/11/05 22:07:14 EST

Stuart: We need more information. What is it made of? what is the shape? is it a fan or a true bellows?
   - John Odom - Sunday, 12/11/05 23:10:39 EST

Geoff Rimmer: Please e-mail me about the books. Your e-mail address rejects. Just click on my name and it will take you to a pre-addressed e-mail form.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 12/12/05 05:58:29 EST

Matt, 1095 will probably not differential harden properly you need a real shallow hardening steel to get that trick to work correctly.

For a double edged european styled blade I would suggest you through harden in oil and then differential temper to provide a softer spine and harder edge. There are various ways to do this, most involve keeping the edges cool while drawing the spine. Sticking a piece of hot metal on the spine is probably one of the better methods as a torch flame will want to spread to the thin edges and heat them up.

After drawing the spine I would suggest an over temper of the entire blade to the temp you want the edges tempered at. The lower edge temper will have no effect on the higher temp drawn spine.

Make sure you normalize before hardening and be prepared for the blasted thing to warp on you.

Good Luck
   Thomas P - Monday, 12/12/05 12:11:38 EST

Pam and coloring sheet steel for firepace use:

I had to make a "hood" for my fireplace, since the builder of it in 1970 had no clue how to size fireplace openings to flue size. Previous owners had used sliding glass doors and then gas logs, but I demand an open fire. Lowering the top of the fireplace opening six inches solved the draw and smoke problems.

I made a frame out of 1" angle iron, to which I rivetted a sheet of 26 ga. mild steel, commonly available at big box home improvement stores as "weldable steel sheet." DO NOT use galvanized if you want to flame color it!

After rivetting the steel to the frame, I planished the steel over a trailer hitch ball in a vise with the flat face of a 24-oz ball pein hammer. This is a process of making thousands of tiny overlapping dents in sheet metal that simultaneously strengthens it and gives it that "hand-worked" look. I then used a propane torch to make spots and runs of temper colors all over the steel. This produced a range of colors from light yellow through browns, purples, peacock blues, to dove gray. After doing this, I rubbed peanut oil on the steel and used the torch from the back until the oil set. This process does darken the colors substantially!

The finished hood has ben in place for three years now, and has continued to darken. It has not rusted, and I haven't put more oil on it since that first treatment. It has a nice Craftsman-ish patina on it now.

Hope that helps! Oh, one more thing: If you do this, keep in mind that using a torch to make spotty temper colors WILL make the steel sheet warp. You can curl it up like a potato chip if you aren't careful. That's another reason why I planished mine, to add stresses to resist warpage.
   Alan-L - Monday, 12/12/05 13:00:20 EST

How do you make a perfect circle out of a brass peice from 1/8 to a 1/4 inch in diameter? Thank you.
   David - Monday, 12/12/05 13:13:59 EST

I'd like to bond a stainless cable into the end of a mild steel round rod, the cable is 7x19, 18-8 stainless, 3/64 dia. I was thinking lead soldering, or brazing, will either of these work? I have the experiance to do either one if this is the way to go.
   Thom - Monday, 12/12/05 14:01:26 EST

Cable Connection to end of rod: Thom, Lead solder does not stick to steel very well and not hardly at all to stainless. Brazing would work but well wreck the stainless.

The best connection would be to drill a deep hole in the rod that is a snug fit on the cable then crimp the rod to hold the cable tight. How you crimp would depend on the diameter of the bar. You may need to drill holes near the internal hole and punch to crimp. Carefull radiusing of the end of the hole will prevent cuting the wires in the cable.
   - guru - Monday, 12/12/05 14:13:19 EST

Perfect Circle: David, Perfect is a loaded word. In metalworking and engineering you may be talking millionths of an inch when talking perfect.

When you need accuracy you must define how accurate. This is usualy in +/- of a unit of length. Since you are talking inches then we will talk in English units. In machine shop tolerances machined parts are commonly +/-.001" of round and meet the size by +/-.005". Large heavy machined parts may have double or triple this tolerance and really large parts
four times. It is not unusual for small parts to need to be accurate to whitin +/- .0001".

In bent work tolerances are usualy much looser and may be in fractions of an inch. +/- 1/32" is a common tollerance but +/- 1/64" (.015) or less is typical on small parts. Big structirals and decorative pieces may be +/- 1/4".

If you are bending the rod in the smallest circle for the diameter of the rod then a reasonable tollerance might be +/- .005" bent on a simple bending jig. On the same type jig but making a ring 20 times larger the tollerance range may be +/- 1/8".

There is also the matter of the temper of the rod and the closure. A perfect circle has no ends. A ring bent from bar has two ends that to be perfect must be perfectly joined. The temper (hardness) of the bar stock often determines the accuracy of the part. It requires uniform temper to produce uniform bends.

Then there is what LOOKS perfect. You cannot easily see that a 10" diameter circle is 1/4" out of round unless you have a VERY good eye or there is something to compare the part to. It is easy top bend parts that size to +/- 1/8" or less which is almost impossible to see without measuring tools. So how perfect is perfect?

For relatively small rings the best method is to bend around a mandrel so that there is plenty of overlap or two or more rings have been bent. Then carefully saw the waste ends off the rings. There is always some kind of kink or bad end when bending. If you bend extra you can cut off the bad ends then the bends are perfectly smooth (within a small tolerance) right to where the ends meet.

See our 21st century page article on benders.

I would cold bend those size bars bare handed around a simple mandrel made from a cut off length of pipe. If I needed an exact size I would make some test bends, check the spring back, then make (machine) a mandrel to the exact size needed (but only if I needed "perfect").
   - guru - Monday, 12/12/05 14:44:21 EST

The only perfect circle I know is LIFE.
   Burnt Forge - Monday, 12/12/05 15:46:26 EST

Alan-L: I have the same problem with my fireplace! I love burning wood, but it smokes up the house like crazy. A chimney sweep told me to lower the top of my fireplace and extend my chimney to solve my problem. Your solution sounds great. Would you please email me a picture of your masterpiece? It would certainly help me figure out how to fix mine. Thanks!
   Koomori - Monday, 12/12/05 16:01:10 EST

Mike Grace: You might want to look into hot blueing salts, I don't think green is possible with them but many shades of blue are as well as some other colors, and I've seen red done once with it.
   AwP - Monday, 12/12/05 17:30:55 EST

There are some high temp silver solders designed for stainless, requires special fluxes IIRC.

   Thomas P - Monday, 12/12/05 18:36:24 EST

Yes I have given some thought to joining CSI, I love this site and would hate to se it go away. I am lucky enough to make aa living from blacksmithing and fabricating, but winter is kind of my slow time and money is tight. I hope to join this spring or summer, I also need to pay my abana dues. This site has been a great information source to me and you all have been soo helpfull. I'm sure you will see my name in blue very soon.

   - Jeff - Monday, 12/12/05 20:07:28 EST

Jeff, We'll look forward to having you (and others) join us. I hope that things pick up a little for you- nobody likes having a slow season.
   SGensh - Monday, 12/12/05 20:20:44 EST

guru not trying to contradict your answers but for coloring try 304 or 308 stainless it leaves nice heat stains and is non oxidizing

and for the cable connections try silver solder it is hard to get right but if you do it will hold and if your real good tig weld would be best
   - aircraft welder - Monday, 12/12/05 20:48:49 EST

If you try to silver solder with true high-temp silver solder or TIG weld SS cable to steel, you will have a heat-affected-zone (HAZ) either way. If this joint is subject to stresses, the changes in the HAZ need to be calculated correctly.

If the steel rod is an appropriate diameter, then the Guru's suggestion of drilling and crimping is the best way to get them joined without a HAZ. If there is local supplier of cable and fittings, you could drill the rod and take it to the to have it crimped in their NicroPress™ hydraulic crimping press. The steel would need to be fully annealed for this to be3 practicable. If the hole is drilled deep enough that it can be crimped in two places, it would be a very strong joint with no HAZ.
   vicopper - Monday, 12/12/05 21:17:14 EST

SS Cable to rod: I have used silver solder with the appropriate flux. I fill the socket with solder first, then drill it out, one size smaller. I coat the cable end with solder and then cut the end and grind smooth, usualy by hand with abrasive cloth. Coat it with flux, assemble the two and heat the rod part until the silver melts and add a little more. I have had good luck if the force is applied in line with the rod,and cable, but not when there is a side pull and there is flexing of the cable in the heat affected zone. Then swaging is the only way, and that requires a press and the correct dies.
   - John Odom - Monday, 12/12/05 21:17:17 EST

Colored Stainless; I forgot that one. Not much color but good contrasts on SS. Although steel holds up OK inside in some places in others it does not. Alan is quite a craftsman and knew what he was doing.

Fireplace Fix: I got several jobs out of a response to a letter on the local editorial page responding to a fellow complaining about a bad fireplace. He had bought a home and found later that the fireplace smoked badly and that he also had no recourse through the building codes or inspections department since it was an older home.

I lowered the top of the fireplace opening about 6" using 1-1/4" x 1/8" angle iron, a flat bar and a piece of 1/8" x 6" plate.

Step one was to carefully measure the fireplace opening. Things that LOOK square can be out of square as much as an inch. That is how much this one was out. Check for straighness, measure all four sides and then the diagonal.

The frame was made to fit the opening with about 1/2" clearance on the sides and 1/4" on the top. The plate at the top sloped from the back of the frame to the front.

To hold it in four square nuts were welded to the frame, two just above the edge of the "hood" and two toward the bottom where they did not show abtrusively. Set screws tightened gently against the brick work held the assembly in place.

The "hoods" I made were dead simple with no decoration. The frames and hoods could have been textured or the hood decorated with repousse'. I offered it but all these folks wanted was a fix so they could use their fireplaces. The final look was actually nice.

These fireplaces I worked on all apeared to have been made by the same lame mason. Each had too much opening and no smoke collection room above the opening.

Along this line, a friend of mine had a chimney fire which then moved into the wall of the house. This was found an hour AFTER the fire department had left from the chimney fire. . . TWO fires in one night! On later investigation they found that house framing was exposed INSIDE the flue near the basement firebox. It had been a miracle the house had not burned down 20 years earlier.

Details, details. . .
   - guru - Monday, 12/12/05 21:21:01 EST

Round Crimping: When there is a relatively thin wall thickness or soft maleable metal is to be crimped a good clean method is with a tubing cutter. Grind the cutting wheel to a nice radius then use it like cutting tubing. It is like crimping cans but with make-do tooling. Makes a nice smooth crimp all the way around round parts. We have used it to make clean cable crimps and to assemble end caps in aluminium tubes.
   - guru - Monday, 12/12/05 21:27:36 EST

SS Cable to rod -- What about drilling into the end of the rod for the cable, and then drilling a second hole in from the side. Plug weld (preferably TIG) through the side hole. If done right, this should ensure that the HAZ on the cable is in tension only.
   Mike B - Monday, 12/12/05 22:07:29 EST

That would work Mike, and would absolutely have to be TIG, since he was using 3/32" cable. No other way than a fine tungsten to get in that small a hole without burning up the whole works. I'd still go with the crimping, myself.
   vicopper - Monday, 12/12/05 22:14:35 EST

Geoff Rimmer,
A great place to start for smithing info in the UK is The British artist blacksmith association ( baba.org.uk )I think the dues are £ 45.00 a year, but their magazine is very inspiring (full glossy colour), and they have baba books which can supply just about any publication you could need. There all very helpfull etc, and have regular 'forge ins' around the country.
   John N - Tuesday, 12/13/05 07:12:14 EST

Koomori, Jock pretty much nailed what I did in the assembly and fit-up(thanks for the compliment, Jock!).

The only thing I did differently was to drill and tap a hole in the steel fireplace lintel (the mason used a 4" x 3/8" flat bar for this) to hang the top center of the frame from. The short legs of the frame are held to the brick with setscrews, actually 1/4-20 stainless bolts threaded through the angle iron frame.

I live in the humid southeast, and I did have worries about the hood rusting during the summers since we don't often use the air conditioning. So far it hasn't been a problem. You could also use stainless, brass, or copper for the sheet part. A solid brass door kickplate, 36" x 12," can be had for about as cheap as a sheet of weldable steel at the bigbox stores. The laquer will smoke off if you don't strip it first, though.

I'll take a picture and email it to you anyway, though!
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 12/13/05 09:49:57 EST

As a fire investigator I found some real horror stories! There are often wood members in the masonry, almost against the flue liner. One chimney had flue liner only at the top and bottom, where it could be seen, and bare porous brick in the center.

The worst case was an unlined wooden chase originally intended for a tripple wall pipe, which they "forgot" to install! At least this one caught fire on the first use and the owners were able to sue. When it is an old house it is usualy not possible to sue the one at fault.
   - John Odom - Tuesday, 12/13/05 10:19:10 EST

Bad Chimneys / Construction:

Ocassionaly I get an order for Kaowool from a DIY builder that is building to code. But I have never gotten one from a masonary contractor. . .

The confusion of most construction sites is unbelievable. I have seen plumbers run pipes where ducting is to go and the HVAC folks just cut the pipes and install the ducting without saying a word. Properly frame around a chimney with 2" spacing and pack with rock wool? HA!

The other problem I have run into is building inspectors that are so used to the cheapest minimum construction techniques that when you try to do the better they get confused. I put in a perimeter ground system with it connected to the rebar in the foundation in the shop I built. It had big 'O' size coper leads. I asked the inspector to check it off when he inspected the footings. . . Nope had to put in a ground rod with the little #6 wire. . . So now I have both bonded together.

It would drive me crazy having a building built with someone else in control. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/13/05 12:01:11 EST

Polished Ti sheet would make a very nice heat coloured material with no rusting problem---of course I've bought cars for less than it would cost unless you lucked out...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/13/05 12:20:24 EST

I also have the same problem with my fireplace. Could you also e-mail me a picture.
   - joh - Tuesday, 12/13/05 14:19:26 EST

My e-mail is: jcotrill@tulsarealtors.com
   JOHN COTRILLj - Tuesday, 12/13/05 14:20:16 EST

just made an axe as in iforge to chop wood to light the forge ( but as i forge at work, tne bosses son is at learning to be a farrier and first year is forging so thats my excuse for making a forge, but im not allowed to "play" before 4.30 ) meanwhile, back at tne point,it turned out good , i cudnt get it to fire weld so migged it,i used 50x12mm, 2x1/2 the prob i had is when i tried to narrow the 2" it just thickend the edge and made a H section,i couldnt make thicken evenly,how do you make a 50x12 into a 40x20mm? cheers
   geoff - Tuesday, 12/13/05 16:24:00 EST

Sword Tempering and Firing-Up the Anthracite:

I agree with Thomas; quench and then differentially temper up the fuller or center with a red-hot rod or (better yet), a couple of old copper soldering irons. The more control, the better, so take your time as you run the temper colors.

My usual method of getting an anthracite fire going is similar to cook fires: balls of newspaper, tinder (pine cones, wood shavings, pistachio nut shells, twigs...), and then kindling arranged in the fire pot with lumps of coal in the corners. Once you have a proper conflagration, add the rest of the coal around the edges and work it in. Remember to keep the blower running at least on low.

Cold and sunny on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 12/13/05 16:24:19 EST

John Cotrill, you've got mail. Too bad it's such a simple thing to do, if it were hard, I could sell the design for millions! (grin)

Actually, the money is in copyright infringement lawsuits, so I better get crackin'! (another grin.) Use it freely, I can't figure out how to copyright a simple sheet of metal...
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 12/13/05 16:43:48 EST

I brought this up last spring an the landscping season is over so I get to play again. I have a old "Acetylene?" Tank that I recovered from the local flood debris the valve was open in the tank was full of water. I would ike to cut the tank and make a long propane forge. Last year when I brought it up Some thought that it might not be safe to torch open the end or ends. The tank was made by the New albany welding supply company,and I can not fine a contact for the company to determine if it is safe to cut or not. Can anyone help?
   Sean A - Tuesday, 12/13/05 18:58:42 EST

Changing rectangular Sections: Geoff, This may or may not be possible. First you need to check the cross sectional area.

50x12 = 600, 40x20 = 800

The thin bar has less cross section than where you are going. You can't get more from less. The way a traditional smith would do this is bend the bar back on itself and forge weld it. The theoretical thickness size would be 50x24 but due to the loss of scale and the forging process making the bar longer as it is worked it would probably be about 50x20. This is the thickness you were aiming for but with a little more width. After the weld you would draw out the bar forging on the wider section until the width was what you want. As you forge you may need to dress the thickness as you go. Once you have more crossection than you need it is easy to move the steel where you want it.

For a short section you would upset the bar by hammering on the end until the thickness was at least 17mm (1+ 800/50) then work from the edges. This will only work for a length equal to about one to one and a half widths.

You need to consider the shape of the face of your hammer. The steel wants to move in all directions and it does so the most with a hemi-spherical hammer face. A hammer with a nearly flat face does the same. However a hammer with an arced face (curved in one direction) will tend to move the steel along the direction of the curve.

A flat face will put more force into the center of the bar helping thicken the center and a curved face will move the surface more than the center. If you need to move the center it also helps to hit HARD.

While forging you need to be sure the heat is soaked through the bar evenly. If the edges are hotter than the center they will move more and you get that H section.

Normally you want more section than you want to end up with then work down. Working UP is quite difficult.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/13/05 19:16:43 EST

Cutting Acetylene Cylinders: SeanA, This is very dangerous business.

Acetylene cylinders are filled with blocks of pumice stone then filled with acetone. Acetone is soluble in water and the probablility that this VERY volitile and VERY flammable liquid is not still in the cylinder is very low. It would be very difficult, in fact nearly impossible to get the acetone out of the cylinder if you tried. For it to have all run out through an open valve in a flood under water is improbable.

SO, even though the cylinder seems to have water in it, there MAY be a considerable quantity of acetone in it. Torching it could be a very good way to torch yourself.

Let the HAZMAT folks take care of it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/13/05 19:23:27 EST

I've been known to scrounge some dubious material in my time but even if you offered to pay me to haul off an acetylene tank I'd refuse.

Acetylene does not play nice with others and it plays for keeps. Most acetylene bottles do not make suitable dishing forms the bottoms have the wrong curve and have the fusible plug to lessen the explosion in a fire.

Now O2/CO2/N/Argon/He/...bottles make nice dishing forms---just be sure there is no no pressure in them before cutting!

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/13/05 20:05:25 EST

Alan-L: Thanks again for sending the picture of your fireplace and for more suggestions of how to do it. I've got all kinds of crazy ideas swirling in my head now!
Guru: Thanks for your advice on how to put the hood in. Also, MANY THANKS for all you do to keep this website going. It's easy for many people to take this site for granted. Just wanted you to know I appreciate what you do.
Semper Fi!
   Koomori - Tuesday, 12/13/05 20:08:16 EST

Okay, A few quick questons, First I am relatively new to the metal working, and the majority of my meager experience is on my rivit forge with coal, The following information is on the tank, It really could be any welding or cutting gas. I just assumed it is Acetylene.

Albany Welding Supply Company
20 Street Albany NY
W.C. - 143 lbs
Alweld TF
I.C.C. 4BW-240
1073 TW49 5# 2-67

Can anyone tell me what might have been in this tank?
Or is there a reasource I could use to make thsi determination.
   Sean A - Tuesday, 12/13/05 20:21:31 EST

Sean A,

That W.C. 143 designation looks like the filled weight of an acetylene cylinder to me. If it has a fusible plug on the bottom, it certainly is acetylene.

As the Guru pointed out, acetylene is dissolved in acetone for pressurizing in cylinders. One thing to keep in mind is that acetone is 100% miscible in water in any proportions, so even if the cylinder got water in it, the acetone would mix with the water. Very bad thing to cut on.

Worse yet, if it is a very old cylinder, it will be filled with asbestos instead of pumice. If you cut the cylinder and turn the asbestos loose into the environment, you risk repercussions from the environmental folks, as well as your lungs.

Why risk messing with the totally unknown, when you can get a known item practically free. Check with a welding gas supplier and they'll have out-of-hydrotest cylinders that they often give away.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/13/05 20:52:52 EST

Thank you all very much for the advise, I will be Likely dropping this tank off at a welding supply store and they can dispose of it properly. My Goal was to make a gas Forge for longer pieces of metal because currently I can only heat about an 8" section, and would like to start working some larger peices, I currently only have a limited amount of time in the evening to play around and was hoping to cut down on the time it take to bring the forge and material up to temperature. I am open to any suggestions,and I have a local Scrap yard that sells me pretty much whatever I need at scrap price. Does any one know where I can find plans for a forge that can heat up to a 2 foot section. I can get a piece of 1' diameter steel drainage pipe, and build it from that or I am open to suggestions.

Being new to smithing, I really appreicate all of the advise.

Thanks again
Sean A.
   Sean A - Tuesday, 12/13/05 21:31:35 EST

I think W.C. on a cylinder stands for "water capacity," or the weight of water that would fill the cylinder. At least that's the only way I could make sense of the markings in my propane bottle.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 12/13/05 21:51:14 EST

Thanks Guru for the info on I beams. I scrounged a 6"x12"x15' from the scrap yard;very little rust or pitting. College son and two of his buddies had it installed in no time. Yale chain fall secured. I left for a moment and when I returned the stooges had hoisted the front end of his Nissan PU a foot off the ground. No noticeable deflection in the beam. Should safely handle anything I plann to off load.
   - brian robertson - Tuesday, 12/13/05 21:54:14 EST

There are only two days left to vote for the first elected CyberSmiths International Board of Directors! To vote you must be a CSI member and follow this link... http://www.anvilfire.com/members/voting/_election_ballot.php

Voting will take less than two minutes.
   - Gronk - Tuesday, 12/13/05 21:56:07 EST

I have a pest question. The stooges noticed my favorite stump has powder post beetles. Anybody have any remedies?
   - brian robertson - Tuesday, 12/13/05 21:57:32 EST

Patience and an ice pick, Brian?
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/13/05 22:27:14 EST


That's a very wise choice. While you're there, ask them about any out-of-hydro inert gas cylinders. Maybe you can swap them one for one. The inert gas cylinder would be safe to cut, provided that you follow sensible guidelines for cutting any closed vessel. Torches are dangerous because of fuel and oxy buildup in the cylinder, so I recommend either a jig saw with a metal cutting blade or an abrasive saw. Appropriate safety equipment, of course.

Bigger forges are generally just small forges multiplied, so to speak. Figure the cubic inches of capacity that works with one burner (usually about 450 or so, I recall) and divide that into the capacity of your new chamber and then you know how many burners you'll need.

The drainage pipe wil work just fine, or you can use about any pipe that is the right size. The insides of electric hot water heaters come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are plentiful at plumbing shops. They have to pay to get rid of them, so they usually give them away happily.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/13/05 22:34:31 EST

One way to tell if your cylinder has (or does) contained a volatile gas is to look at the threads on the valve. A left handed thread can put you in the area of BOOM!!
   3dogs - Wednesday, 12/14/05 02:46:45 EST

Left Hand threads: Although this is the general rule it is less true than one would think. Because people are generaly stupid when it comes to right and left hand many cylinders including acetylene cylinders often have right hand threads. . . Regulator outputs torches and hoses always have left hand fittings for fuel but not cylinder fittings. . .

I think all refilable propane bottles have left hand threads but disposables all have right hand threads. . .

So much for the rule. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/14/05 08:07:47 EST

Beam Loading: Brian, Etal: Note that there are many different beam cross sections for one size. The difference is given in pounds per foot (in the US). 12W28 is a 12" tall (nominal) 28 pound per foot beam. Although it would be possible to have two different sections the same weight there generaly is not. However, the letter in the designation takes care of this. "W" is wide flange. These are more rectangular and have less taper (almost none) on the flanges than standard I-beams which ar "S" sections. These are typicaly narrower than wide flange. Then there are M and HP sections which are similar to wide flange. To determine one from the other often takes careful measurements of all features and then looking them up in the AISC manual.

In your case I am sure you are fine because all the beams I listed were suitable for commercial service and deflection is not a concern so much when a trolley is not used. However, when lifting people the safety factors increase to as much as 20:1 thus the rules change greatly.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/14/05 08:59:38 EST

Powder Post Beatles: Brian, these are the scourge of the South. Our old Grist Mill had them to the point that most of the wood is as porus as styrofoam.

The beatles or borers are the larval stage of a small brown moth. They attack untreated unprotected wood. A good coat of varnise or paint is supposed to prevent infestation but this means anywhere a small moth can fly. In heavy infestations furniture is often attacked unless the wood is well finished.

Once wood has a number of these insects it is difficult to treat. I have used pesticides on small items with no luck. Gasing is supposed to work on large scale and does not leave residue. To absolutely get rid of them in a dwelling will result in an uninhabitable dwelling. .

I had a beautiful big heart pine stump that was infested. My plan was to drill a hole in the side to the center, stuff an absorbant like cotton, felt or rags in the hole, pour in a cup of liquid pesticide THEN plug the hole with a dowel. . After a putting a light coating on the surface I was going to give it a boiled linseed oil and varnish finish. . . and HOPE it worked.

Once powder post beatles infest furniture or other items you DO NOT want to take them with you. This will just spread the infestation to a new home or a shop. Since I am moving I have given up on anything old that is wood or shows signs of infestation.

If you have an outdoor shop or a building that is infested then don't worry about it. Just don't take it with you.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/14/05 09:15:20 EST

Three Stooges? Is it an anvil stump? If so, the vibration should make the live beetles come out and look around. When they come out, you squash 'em. That will not help with the larvae, however. I would continue to use the stump, unless it's too far gone.

There is stuff on the market to get rid of the beetles, but I would rather replace the stump than go through that rigamarole. I think I would only spend time using pesticides if there was an invasion of the varmints in my house, shop, or shed.

Post Script. We have powder post beetles in Santa Fe. In our variety, they have elongated brown bodies (speaking from experience).

   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/14/05 09:31:22 EST

I use empty Bernz-O bottles all the time. The method I use is similar to what junkyards do with gas tanks. I drill a hole through the side of the bottle while under water to prevent sparks. Once all the gases have escaped, I wash the bottle, let it dry then do whatever I need. The only tool I have at the moment for cutting is the angle grinder with a fiber cutoff disc, which is really helpful with cutting slices of the bottles for rings and such. I have made a giant set of "brass" knuckles for an armrest I'm making for a tattoo artist friend of mine using these "rings".

Guru question (please answer): What is the best method to forge weld your own damascus steel?
Also, I need a reliable resource for 316L stock in rods sized 6 - 00 gauge and 7/16 - 1/2" in lengths 3 feet long or so.

Thanks guys, you rock!
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 12/14/05 11:11:12 EST

TGN: Most folks who do it for a living weld their damascus with a blown gas forge and a hydraulic press alternating with a power hammer of some description. For making large billets of pattern-welded steel the hydraulic forging press is the greatest thing since the discovery of the anvil. For most other types of smith work, it's not of much use.

Sean A. and gas forge bodies: Go with the drainpipe, since by the time you line it with two inches of inswool topped with refractory cement and ITC-100, your interior volume will be greatly reduced. With a typical ten-inch diameter gas cylinder you'd have about a five-inch diameter interior when you finished. What shape of obnject are you wanting to heat two feet of? You're setting off my swordmaking radar here (grin!). All three of the professional swordsmiths I know only heat about eight inches of the blade at any given time up until time to heat-treat. Two of them use molten salt baths to HT, the other just strokes the blade through the forge until it's uniformly hot.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 12/14/05 11:53:13 EST

Lamintated Steel: Nippulini, There are many wasy to do this. The most common is to make a stack of clean plates 1/8 to 1/4" thick alternating the material. Clamp and arc weld along two end edges then weld on a handle. Heat, flux early, then heat and flux heavily. When at welding heat "stick" the weld with gentle blows working quickly from the center out. Then draw out to 1/2 to 1/3 the original thickness, cut accordingly and weld again. . .

Creating patterns is an art. See the various books on the subject by Jim Hrisoulas and Wayne Goddard. Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork has a brief section as well.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/14/05 11:54:39 EST


I've learned that the most critical thing in welding up billets of "damascus" is to have all the surfaces totally clean. No scale, no rust, no dirt or oils. I've found a freshly ground surface to weld consistently.

I stack my billet, then tack weld the ends together with the MIG gun. Then heat to red, wire brush vigorously, and flux. Then I bring it up to welding heat, keeping the atmosphere in the gas forge as neutral as possible. Once at welding heat, I let it "soak" for several minutes to get the heat clear to the center of the billet and then pull it out, sling off the flux and hammer it.

When hammering it, I try to hold the billet just off the surface of the anvil until the first blow lands, so as not to lose any heat. (This isn't much of a problem with a sizeable billet, but it is with small stock.) I don't hit it very hard at all on the first few blows. With a bit of practice, I've learned to feel when the weld sticks. After I know it has stuck, then I can hit it a bit more forcefully. I re-heat as necessary and continue welding until the entire billet is welded. Then I take another welding heat and forge it to size, being careful not to work it after the heat drops below a high yellow. Work it too cold and it will open up welds sometimes.

After the billet is forged down to size, I grind all the surfaces totally flat and clean and cut and stack it for the next weld. I've found that if I don't clean all the scale off of all the surfaces, some of it is bound to get into a weld and prevent it from taking. From there it is just cut, stack tack and weld again. And so on.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/14/05 11:54:48 EST

TGN is the L in 316L for "leaded"? I know L is used on other steel alloys to indicate the presence of lead to improve machinability. If so I would not suggest use internally.

One professional maker of pattern welded material uses an aspirated forge and is at over 4000' IIRC. His output is in the tons by now I believe and he wrote the book "The Pattern Welded Blade"---James Hrisoulas.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/14/05 12:07:02 EST

Thomas: You'll note I said "most!" (grin!)
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 12/14/05 12:31:17 EST

On 316L, the "L" is used to denote "Low Carbon" for improved corrosion resistance, I believe.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/14/05 13:01:04 EST

316L - for stainless steels the L indicates low carbon and as vicopper noted, corrosion resistance at least in some applications is improved by lowering carbon content. The steel companies also produce 304L. On carbon & alloy steels, Thomas is correct - an L after a the grade, such as 1040L indicates a steel which has has lead added to it. Lead is added to improve machinability of the steel, but is being used less and less. With the last 12 to 18 months I saw an article indicating that bismuth was now being used to produce free machining steels in place of lead. I was working on a project that was investigating that possibility in 1982 as a bar product research metallurgist for J & L steel - nothing like rapid progress :)
   - Gavainh - Wednesday, 12/14/05 13:54:48 EST

316L- the L is indeed "LOW", not Lead.
A good source for small quantities is your local welding supply store- you can buy 3 foot long 316L tig welding filler rods in a variety of sizes.
But for wire sizes, you are going to have to find a stainless wire supplier, which probably means mail order.
MSC and Mcmaster Carr will sell small pieces of 7/16" to 1/2".
And a nice man in a brown suit will bring them right to your door.
   ries - Wednesday, 12/14/05 14:01:53 EST

Pick Your Poison: In gasoline they replaced lead with cadnium and in steel with bismuth? Both these metals have much higher toxicity than lead. The only thing good about them is that they are NOT lead. . .

In our zeal to get rid of lead and asbestoes we are trading for materials with the same problems that are sometimes not as good. . . The place I wish they WOULD stop using lead is in fishing lures and sinkers. I cannot count how many tons of lead our family has dumped into streams and ponds . . Multiply that by a few million more. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/14/05 15:56:18 EST

I can't say that swards haven't crossed my mind but to be honest i have a 6 yr old son who I am afraid would get hurt if I had something like that around teh house so it will be a few years before, Give that a try, I may make a few RR spike Knives for practive but I can do that on my current forge. i am looking as trying to make thing like table legs or doing longer twists. I have some designs taht I would ike to try like a bed Post with a flaired twist abour 1.5' long. If there is a way to go that and have it look nice in my rivit forge. I am willing to listen. Swordsmithing? maybe in the future, but I have a lot to learn before that. and I believe there is a responsibility that comes with that type of an endeavor that needs to be considered thoughtfully first.

But I am alway willing to take advice.

Sean A
   - Sean A - Wednesday, 12/14/05 16:24:40 EST

Sean, glad to hear what you're planning. Not that i have anything against swords, of course! (grin!) Yes, for a long twist you'll need a long heat. You can stroke that through a smaller forge, but you will be happier with a longer forge for sure. In my rivet forge I can get about 8" hot enough to twist, in my larger coal forge I can do about 10 inches. You can do longer twists in stages, but it requires more control of heat and the use of a watering can to selectively cool the parts you don't want to twist.

The bigger the interior of a gas forge, the more even the heat, in general. With venturi burners you may need two or three to get a long even heat. With a blown gas forge you can get a fairly even heat over a long distance, but you'll need a bigger chamber as well. a 7-inch inside diameter is a good minimum for larger itemsprovided you have an opening in the back to slide long stock through.

A buddy of mine has a blown gas forge made out of an old milk can that can reliably heat about 14 inches uniformly without moving the steel in and out. He uses firebricks as an adjustable back door.

Sorry to assume you wanted to make long pointy objects, we get a lot of that here and I jumped to conclusions.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 12/14/05 16:36:29 EST

Sean, you might think of designing your forge so you can build a jig to do the twist in the forge and only pop it out to do some tweaking.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/14/05 16:38:45 EST

I have noticed that as well, and I even read some of the information tht is on other section of thsi web page, and yeah at one point that was interesting, but when i read the part about many Swordsmiths evenually regretting a creation of there, I thought of my son and even though eventually my kids will probably be taking fencing lessons, I still question the need of a "long Pointy " oject in my house at this point in time. I am sure at some point I will give it a try, it almost feels like a challenge that must be attempted at least once.

By the way does anyone know of a blacksmith in the north Central PA area that I could contact, or if there is an ABANA chapter in N.C.PA that I could look into?

Thomas P,
I am open to suggestions. I think that sounds like a great idea, as I normally do my playing around outside and sometime amongst snowflakes.
   Sean A - Wednesday, 12/14/05 17:18:49 EST


I've read about pallets being treated for termites by baking them. IIRC somewhere between 120 and 140 degrees for a few hours was enough to kill them off. I'd imagine the same thing would work for powder post beetles, if you could find a way to build an "oven" around whetever they were infesting.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 12/14/05 18:12:29 EST

I hear ya about that lead fishing tackle. They change shotgun shot to steel but don't do anything with the lead fishing tackle! What's the deal with that!
   Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 12/14/05 18:31:45 EST

There are a couple of insecticide that I use during landscaping, here is a thought that might help. Sevin is a systemic insecticide that normally is applied to plants and then moves throughout the plant through the vascular system. I have also sprayed it directly on yellow jackets, and it has worked on them. So this is my suggestion, Mix up some sevin according to the label, and then I would put it in a container that allows you to put the insecticide directly in the powder Post beetles hole. I am not familiar with the Powder post Beetle, but Sevin is pretty much a non selective insecticide so it should work. This chemical is not normally flammable, but then steel isn't as easy to work at landscaping temperature. This method should not require alot of insecticide, and the Idea will be to flood the holes of the beetle, exposing the beetle direclty to the Sevin. By theory it should work.

Another idea would be to get a fogger that would be used to remove insect pest from a house, and set it off under a Tarp or piece of plastic,with the stump, use sand or dirt to hold the edges down so the mist will permeate the stump, this should work.

Good Luck
   Sean A - Wednesday, 12/14/05 18:32:43 EST

Fishing Tackle, What if you dip your lead Sinkers in platic dip? at least then the lead would be encapsulated. Lures I am at a loss, they just won't work well with a plastic dip coating.
   Sean A - Wednesday, 12/14/05 18:34:56 EST

Sean, Start at ABANA-Chapter.com and you will find


Kids will make pointy objects on their own. If you teach them to make other things it will probably take their mind off making sharp pointy objects. Steel pan drums will keep them busy. . . ;)

   - guru - Wednesday, 12/14/05 18:42:44 EST

316L is a low carbon grade, usually chosen for its resistance to stress corrosion cracking in workhardened areas and weld heat affected zones. Usually chosen for service in acidic environments. We used to buy special specification stainless and we were able to dual stamp as 316/316L. I don't know about the 304SS, but I had a lot of problems with the 304 tube heat exchangers in the acid pickle tanks. The buyer saved about $300 per exchanger, but they cracked beyond repair in about 10 months or so. The 316L exchangers did not crack. They did wear thru from expansion/contraction rubbing as the steam was pulsed on/off. The plate coils from 316L were a dream and did not crack, and were only 20% the cost of the special tube exchangers.
   ptree - Wednesday, 12/14/05 19:23:00 EST

Have a parking lot fire pit for tailgating, it has a flat top with a 6" diameter stack in the middle. Would like to have a metal dragons head fitted over it so the flames would come out of its mouth. Know anywhere I could get something like that?
   Greg - Wednesday, 12/14/05 19:24:37 EST


First let me say I'm not an experienced pattern welder, my answer comes from reading. That said, I think the best way to make damascus by hand is to do it "in a can".

You'd take some sort of container, like square tubing, close up the bottom and weld it shut. Then you'd fill it with your clean damascus material, put in a little squirt of WD40, close the top and weld it mostly shut, you need to leave a little air hole so the gasses can escape. Put your can into the fire and hit it when it's hot enough.

With this method you have an O2 free enviroment, which means you don't need flux, which means no chance of flux being caught in a weld. Also this method will let you use stainless steels and powdered steels and you can make intricate mosiac patterns.
   AwP - Wednesday, 12/14/05 19:36:42 EST

Greg; I'd suggest asking over at an armour making site as there are a lot of talented sheetmetal formers there.

For starters I'd go to the classifieds forum at armourarchive.org and note the british spelling of armour...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/14/05 20:10:55 EST

Guru, Thanks for the link, I thought that I had tried that but I did not see that organization. Eventually I would hope that my son would be mature enough to handle a Knife Sword or any sharp object the the respect it deserves. But at 6 yrs old. The pan drum sounds interesting. Is this similar to like a Jamacian kettle drum?
   Sean A - Wednesday, 12/14/05 20:49:15 EST

Guru (Jock Dempsey) makes a smash up dragon head.
   Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 12/14/05 20:52:22 EST

Jamacaian Drums: Yep, But the correct term is steel pan drum. They are made from the ends of oil drums of different sizes. Step one, Using a sledge hammer sink the end of the drum to a slight curve. Step two, cut off the end with about 4 to 6" rim. Steps 3 to XXX, create "pans" within the dished surface. These are raised areas of different sizes that are laid out so that each drum has a range of notes. Laying them out and tuning them is an art. There are some books and web sites on the subject.

From the LOC

Steel pan tuning : a handbook for steel pan making and tuning / Ulf Kronman. Stockholm, Sweden : Musikmuseet, 1992, c1991.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/14/05 22:38:09 EST

Peter Seeger wrote a book on Steel Pan Drums in the 1960's. I could not find it in the Library of Congress records but I have a copy. It has templates, hammering and tuning tips. Very cool. . . A good project for after my hearing starts to fail ;)
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/14/05 22:46:33 EST

The stump I was referring to is Elm, 34" diameter amd 42" tall. I have gouged, burned and scraped 9 different depressions for forming sheet metal. Like a giant swedge block. I have had it since the 70's and hate to lose it. Don't use it often but when I need it: it's been handy. Hadn't noticed all the little holes in the sides till the Stooges brought it to my attention. I'll try the varnish.
   brian robertson - Wednesday, 12/14/05 22:49:57 EST

Wood Borer Infestations:

That's what the little tube on the spray can of WD-40 is fpr; just stick it in the bore-hole and give it a squirt. Meanwhile, where a bunch of bugs had riddled the base of a liden stump, I turned it upside down and powdered it liberally with borax and salt, followed by spritzing with a spray bottle of soapy water to have it sink in. They didn't like that either.

Your reality may vary, but you do choose your poisons, as the Alpha-Guru says. ;-)

Cold and getting ready for freezing rain on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 12/14/05 23:54:10 EST

Sean A - define north central PA - the group in PA that I'm most familiar with is PAABA - Pittsburgh Area Artist Blacksmith's Association. I know one of the members has a shop in Tionesta, PA

Another alternative to killing insects - if you can encapsulate/enclose the object in a plastic bag, close the bag and throw some dry ice in - it will sublimate to CO2 - if you get the concentration high enough and hold it long enough it will kill off insects.

Guru - toxicity of bismuth?? my memory is that it's a relatively benign metal. If memory serves, its oxide is a major constituent of Pepto-Bismol - to quote from an MSDS on the web regarding toxicity: No known significant toxic effects.
Toxicity data
(The meaning of any abbreviations which appear in this section is given here.)
ORL-RAT LD50 5000 mg kg-1
ORL-MUS LD50 10,000 mg kg-1

Risk phrases
(The meaning of any risk phrases which appear in this section is given here.)
R11 (for the powdered metal)

Were you thinking perhaps of beryllium? The writeup on beryllium in the 1948 ASM Metals handbook was scary enough to me when I read it in 1979 that I would not even consider interviewing with a company that was making copper beryllium alloys.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 12/15/05 00:35:45 EST

Interesting figures for the rat lethality. Five kilos per kilo of body weight will kill half the rats, if I still remember how to read those things. I would think that they could get LD100 just by dropping the 5 kilos on the rats. (grin)
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/15/05 08:35:37 EST

Gavainh - I live near Williamsport(Little League World Series Fame)I did see the PAABA website, and was hoping to find something a little closer thatn 3 hours, I will travel if need be an have time.

Wood Borer Infestation- I like the Dry Ice Idea, I really don't promote the excessive use of Pesticides, since my Other Job is to help minimize impacts to the environment. and the dry Ice should be about the safest idea.

I would also like to know the benefits of Kaowool type materials over Fire brick, because I am considering making the fordge in a similar fashion to the square body forges.

   - Sean A - Thursday, 12/15/05 08:36:59 EST

Powder Post Beatles: In summary, Stab them, cook em, freeze em, oil em and then seal their carcases in with varnish.

The Japanese annualy wash down some of their temples with saki (wine) to prevent insect investations.

Since this is not an anvil stump but one were you work closely then pesticides (nero toxins) are not a good idea. I would wash it down with tupentine and some linseed oil, then when the turps smell was mostly gone more linseed oil. When that had dried then varnish on the sides of the stump. If you use raw linseed oil on the ends it dries VERY slowly. Use boiled linseed oil on the sides where you are going to varnish.

Alternately the little buggers probably like petro chemicals less than natural oils and a kerosene and light oil mix might help. Mineral oil is non-toxic and ineditable. It also does not dry. That might slow the critters down. . .

   - guru - Thursday, 12/15/05 09:40:32 EST

The Right Way, the Wrong Way, and the National Park Service Way:

At least in most of our museum storage facilities, we wheel the suspected subject into a very large freezer to exterminate the vermin. Low temperature and long times tend to work best. Know anybody with a walk-in that you can borrow for several months? :-)

Actually, the dry ice method sounds pretty interesting. I wonder if our folks could make / have made use of it?

Oven Blueing:

Cranked the wíf’s oven up to 550 f. to blue some braces for the sleighs for two hours, and got a very even, deep blue, more like 590 degrees. When I mentioned the inaccuracy of her oven sensors, she was not amused for some reason. ;-)

Since the sleighs are “inside furniture” (and after discussion and caveats about maintenance with the owners) I went with an oil and wax finish; so after the bluing, I cranked the oven down to about 170 f. the next night, let is soak for an hour, and applied the finish to the hot steel. At least in the tidewater, as long as it’s dusted and maintained, and occasionally waxed, it seems to hold up for inside service; however, I did spend extra time to remove all scale and any coal residue from the pieces. As much work as is going into this, I want to make sure there are no complaints.

Cold and dark and still fixin' to do the freezing rain shtick on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/15/05 10:00:03 EST

Kaowool vs Firebrick: Good foundry firebricks are hard dense things that are quite heavy. They are much denser than common red brick (about 180/190 lbs. cu/ft). Kaowool blanket on the other hand only weighs 6 to 8 pounds per cubic foot.

Firebricks are NOT insulation. They are heat resistant and hard to resist mechanical damage. They make great forge floors.

Kaowool is a very good insulation. I can melt brass in my little freon tank melting furnace and still comfortably touch the out shell. I can also carry it with one hand. . .

Today forge portability is often quite important. My big shop forge with firebrick table top and stacked brick enclosure weighs around 500-600 pounds. A Kaowool lined forge of similar size can usualy be caried by one person unless the shell is made from thick wall pipe.

The hard bricks soak up a lot of heat and slow forge heat up. On the other hand they give off a lot of this heat as stored energy. Kaowool blanket stores so little heat that you can pick up a piece that was at a yellow heat aftr it cools just a few seconds.

Modern forges tend to have thin hard refractory floors. I use split firebrick (1-1/4" thick) and others use kiln shelving (about 5/8" thick). The walls and roof are light weight refractory blanket or board.

Flat roofs are generally covered with expensive board. To anchor I use stainless screws with fender washers countersunk in the board then caped with kaowool fill and an ITC coating.

Tube forges are popular because the kaowool blanket is self supporting in the arc of the tube. A flat is built in the kaowool in the bottom and split brick or kiln shelf.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/15/05 10:01:01 EST

VICopper, 5000 mg = 5 g not 5kg (5 kg was my first thought and the obvious disconnect of 5kg per kg made me take my shoes off and do the math---I'm still metric, looks like the toe is finally healing.)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/15/05 11:34:46 EST

Can someone identify a stake for me. For all the world it looks like a wood lathe tool rest on steroids. Shaft has the standard stake taper on the bottom. T-top is a bit over 13" in length. About half way up it flares to on one side to a sharp top edge all the way across. Back of top blade is completely flat. If the top is welded to the shaft in any way, whoever did so completely hid the evidence.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 12/15/05 11:46:52 EST

Should I be looking at the Cera blanket or the Kaolin Blanket and what is the difference?
   - Sean A - Thursday, 12/15/05 11:56:41 EST

Dear Guru,
I want to build a firepot for a coal forge, I am a welder in a steel shop, so I can do anything I want size thickness, but, I can't find serious graphic or plan of a firepot(not a breakdrum). I want to have measures of the whole space inside and around the clinker breaker. I can easily make a good replica of a cast firepot but my problem is about the clinker breaker. I know the size of the pot, it's depth, but since it's always a closed area under it, I can't do nothing. I am a beginner in forging, but not in assembling and welding.

Many Thanks !

Martin Lemire Québec Canada
   Martin Lemire - Thursday, 12/15/05 13:44:22 EST

More about Damascus:
I have about a dozen pieces of fabric knives for fabric cutting machines. They measure 1"x7" about 1/8" thick. These blades are SERIOUSLY sharp, if anyone here has experience with these machines, you'll know what I'm talking about. I would like to believe they are high carbon due to how sharp the blade edge is maintained. I would like to use these as the "good steel" portion of the damascus. What should I use to "sandwich" with them? Also, by your directions, there is no mention of fluxing in between the plates/blade. What would be the best steel to steel configuration for me to use?

"L" is low carbon, I knew that, but the periodic table refers to lead as Pb, so if there was an alloy of lead, wouldn't "P" be the suffix? This is just logic talking.

Thanks again for all the help.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 12/15/05 14:03:10 EST

TGN the fabric cutters may be a high alloy steel and so very hard to weld into a billet. I'd try to track down what they are made from from the mfg. If I had to do it not knowing I'd probably go with a case set up and try it with plain sheet steel.

In the case set up you don't flux; just a little hydrocarbon in the case to burn out the O2.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/15/05 14:18:37 EST

Sean, Kaowool cereblanket.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/15/05 14:22:18 EST

Periodic Table: Like metric/English the world is not completely settled on this one. For many years the US called Nb (Niobium) Columbium with the symbol Cb. It is still found in many metalurgy books and alloy specifications. In much of the world they use the latin or Greek names for the elements thus we have sodium Na which is actually Natrium and the other elements like Mercury (Hg) that their symbols do not match the name.

Officialy the world has settled on the names of most of the elements but you have the common names for the metals known by the ancients, Take gold, it is aurum, or, χρυσός, oro, ouro, and золото to name just a few. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 12/15/05 15:24:37 EST


If you want to know an easy way to build a fire pot, check out the info with drawings and dimensions in Randy McDaniel's book "A Blacksmith's Primer". Not only is it good for the fire pot, it has some great starter reading and projects as well. Well worth the price to own.

Hope this helps,
   Paul Bilodeau - Thursday, 12/15/05 16:00:14 EST


What you have sounds to me like what is called a hatchet stake. Used for truing and setting folds in sheet metal, particularly for forming "locked" joints. Personally, I'd prefer to use a humpin' big brake or bar fold, but I don't have one. 'Course, I don't have a hatchet stake, either.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/15/05 17:31:31 EST


Oooops! You're right, of course. Only a matter of an order of magnitude or two, and who's counting when it comes to LD'ing rats, anyway? (grin)
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/15/05 17:32:51 EST


Happy Birthday!
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/15/05 17:45:00 EST


Sure glad *you* made that post about the mg and KGs. I was mentally composing an identical one until I read yours. Then I read Thomas's twice and hit myself of the forehead.
   Mike - Thursday, 12/15/05 18:31:18 EST

VICopper, well it depends on how much powder is behind those 5gm...(remind me never to have R measure my insulin or the lizard spit...)

Thomas celebrating his birthday by going home 30 minutes early---sick.
   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/15/05 19:20:35 EST

Mystery Metal,
Ok, I'm well enough aquainted with the oppionion of this board that when it comes to junk yard steel your on your own, but I need a bit of help here. I was given some brand new spade bits from a neighbour who is employed by the Rail Road that they use for drilling the holes in the web of a rail. They are made by tipco anywhere from 1 1/2"down to 7/8" wide, 3/8" thick and about 6" long. They throw a funny dark red spark, are brittle enough to break when in the vise and smaked with a hammer. Barely work able at a high red heat with a hand hammer, and at a low yellow heat disintergrates under the 25lb PH.
After air cooling it's brittle enough to break when in the vise with a hand hammer. Any idea what this might be?
   JimG - Thursday, 12/15/05 19:53:50 EST

Just a guess mind you, but I'd say M2?
   AwP - Thursday, 12/15/05 20:27:22 EST

I built my own forge following the intructions in Michael Porter's book. It was built using a griil-size propane tank, kao-wool, ICT-100, and a 1/4" X 1/4" FPT 3-35 lb Fisher Regulator Model number 67CH-743. The forge works beautifully. however my problem is that all of the sudden the burner looses preasure, the regulator shows 0 and the burner goes idle. I am using a regular grill propane bottle as the fuel source. Someone told me thta the problem is due to the valve system on the propane tank, and I should find a tank with the old type of valve that has a female connector. What is your opinion. Thank you so much
Alfredo Alamo
   - Alfredo Alamo - Thursday, 12/15/05 20:34:35 EST


If you built the 3/4" burner and are running it at more than a few pounds of pressure, you're overdrawing the tank. Some of the new new tanks have a free-flow preventer along with the overfill protection device and they are designed for the few ounces of pressure that a grill typically uses.

The best solution, in my opinion, is to get one of the 100# cylinders. They have no tricky valves and will happily supply enough gas for four burners all day long, at welding pressures. They're usually cheaper to fill, as well.

If you choose to try to get an old-style (non-OPD) tank, most propane suppliers won't fill it unless it is marked clearly as being for industrial use only. Even then, some won't fill it. Check with your propane supplier to see what they will do for you.

If you have no choice but to use the new OPD style 20# tank, then you may need to change to a blown type of burner instead of an aspirated burner. The blown burner can operate at much lower pressures and still develop sufficient heat. Still, if you want to run at welding heat, it will take a certain amount of gas, no matter what. More pressure through a small orifice or less pressure through a large orifice, the volume of gas required to develop sufficient Btu's will be pretty much the same. The free-flow preventer may shut you down at high volume regardless of the pressure.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/15/05 22:02:31 EST

I'm just getting started and would like to make "Beans-O-Matic" forge. I have the pipe and the Kaowool, but what type of tip do I need for my propane torch? Thanks all and Merry Christmas!
   Bob - Thursday, 12/15/05 22:33:45 EST

Thomas-- Many happy returns!
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/16/05 00:33:25 EST


The spade bits are very likely carbide. If they are they will not be good for forging as you have discovered. Will be very handy for drilling holes in very hard steel though.
   burntforge - Friday, 12/16/05 01:22:41 EST

Jim G

The spade bits may also be High Speed Steel. Also not good for forging. This is just a guess as all the spade bits I have used of all sizes have been made from these two materials.
   burntforge - Friday, 12/16/05 01:24:35 EST


In addition to what VICopper said, I use a Acmen (female) nut on my regulator, and the nut itself has an excess flow valve in it. If you're using one, you could try switchig to one of the old-stlye male POL nuts. (I'm keeping my Acme nut, though. It only shuts down if I snap my wrist when I'm cranking the reg up to welding heat, and I figure the extra measure of safety can't hurt.)

Also, all 20# propane tanks are not created equal, so if you just exchange yours, you may get one that works for you.
   Mike - Friday, 12/16/05 08:07:45 EST

Alfredo: I use a new style 20-pound tank with a 20-pound regulator pretty well wide open on a dual-burner, 3/4" tube atmospheric forge and haven't encountered a problem of this nature. Have you tried a different tank?
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/16/05 08:24:04 EST

Bean-o-matic: Bob, The normal tip that comes on most tank mounted propane torches
   - guru - Friday, 12/16/05 10:07:12 EST

Propane Delivery: We had a LONG discussion about this a while back that I should have put into a FAQ. . .

Like much hardware today a lot of it is cheap imported stuff that the sellers don't care how bad it is and KNOW that most Americans will not return.. . . Many big box store propane tanks had underrated or possibly deffective valves. When you go the exchange bottle route you never know what you are getting. . .

Propane bottles can also have moisture in them. It will freeze in the valve and stop the flow all at once. Vacuum pumps are used to empty the bottle and remove all the water.

   - guru - Friday, 12/16/05 11:04:43 EST

Thanks guru. Lighting up the torch outside the can it just doesn't look like enough flame but I'll give'er a try this evening. How big of a pipe can one get away with on these little critters? I've got a nice piece of 6" pipe and a lot of 1/4" kaowool.
   Bob - Friday, 12/16/05 11:33:14 EST

In the better late than never department:

Excess flow valves are designed to shut off the gas in the event of a catastrophic leak. If one closes, the *first* thing to do is check for leaks!

I'm sure that's gone unsaid because it's obvious to everyone here, but I think it's important enough to say anyway.
   Mike - Friday, 12/16/05 12:03:48 EST

How fast is the "shutdown"? If it takes a couple of minutes to wind down it can be a chilled tank as well. manifolding or the big tank will solve that problem.

If you have a tank that has a "touchy" flow valve I have found it useful to exchange it till you get one with a "good " valve and then hang on to that tank and just get it refilled---cheaper than exchanging.

I used to cruise a upscale inner city neighborhood in the fall as people would junk old grills with their bottles rather than store them over the winter. Often with substantially full bottles...

   Thomas P - Friday, 12/16/05 12:21:47 EST

Mystery metal
I was sort of thinking they might be carbide, they just don't feel like steel when you pick them up. But I've never seen carbide is a big solid chunk like that (but then there are many things I've never seen) Any simple shop way to tell if they are carbide?
   JimG - Friday, 12/16/05 12:51:18 EST

Carbide. . Yep, Its non-magnetic.
   - guru - Friday, 12/16/05 13:38:46 EST

I think. . . tungsten carbide, cobalt. . . should be.
   - guru - Friday, 12/16/05 13:39:19 EST

Just checked and a magnet does stick to them.
None of this is important cause other than chucking them in the engine lathe for making holes there isn't much I can do with them in my shop. And I have lots of other scrap (errrrrrrr I mean salvage) that I know how to deal with.
   JimG - Friday, 12/16/05 13:44:33 EST

DIY Firepot: Martin, due to rapid rust on plate generally the heavier the better but I have seen them made from everything from 1/8" hot water heater tank shells to 3/4" steel plate.

Firepots vary in depth but about 4" is good for a heavy pot. The base of the upside down truncated pyramid is 3" to 4" square inside with the air hole being about 2.5". The top opening of the pot is usualy 10 x 12" with a 2" wide flange.

The most common and trouble free clinker breaker is the "ball" type. The ball is a loose fit in the air hole and roughly triangular in cross section. It fits on a 1/2" shaft that fits in two grooves in the base of the firepot and flange of the tuyeer. The tuyeer is basicaly the same as the brake drum forge style on our plans page. Sometime two spacers are used to put the clinker breaker shfat through. In operation these focus the air when the top corner faces upward and flares the fire when downward. Cranking it around loosens some of the ash and clinker so that it falls into the ash dump.
   - guru - Friday, 12/16/05 13:55:51 EST

my question is how does the blacksmith get that even black patina in his work piece? thank you!
   len s. - Friday, 12/16/05 15:02:08 EST

Len; steel fors a black covering called scale when exposed to air at a high temp. That is one black "patina" you can see.

You can also burn on a coating or oil, linseed oil is a traditional one; some folks use peanut oil for food tools---it's basically like seasoning a cast iron skillet.

Most production work is just painted black.

   Thomas P - Friday, 12/16/05 15:10:52 EST

I came to the conclusion, some yrs ago that ive never actually "made" anything, ive cut,joined and reshaped but as i watched a flim with afican tribesmen casting arrow heads, i realised a passion had been birthed within me to do that. i souced some ore,2 buckets full ( well they were full till the handles broke)
I seen a site from Bradford ( england)university where they did this,they bought 200lbs charcoal, 1.25 tons clay,im thinking cheaper than that, i could marl the clay with tractor wheels( it happens naturally in the english winter,and summer come to that)then mould it into blocks,the charcoal is a problem, i tried all last summer all i got was sooty wood through to embers. i have already spent £8 on ore, doin it cheap is half the fun and i know im in good company cos i read your letters. All i know so far is the ore has to be at 800 deg. for upto 8hrs in as little oxygene or as poss, or rather as much carbon monoxide as poss, is there a ironage foundary man out there? books are ok but people are better, really enjoy your site, cheers.
   geoff - Friday, 12/16/05 16:45:34 EST

Pretty basic question I suppose, but I can't remeber the answer for the life of me. I'm switching from charcoal to coal to get a hotter fire so I can finally get my forge to the propper welding temp. The local hardware store sells anthrocite, if I burn the impurities out for long enough will this still be good to forge with and not ruin my steal?
   Patrick - Friday, 12/16/05 17:48:10 EST

Partick, Anthracite is mineral coal mined from the ground. Charcoal is made from wood.

Geoff, see our FAQ's page for making charcoal. Note that some woods do not coal well. Pine and oak work well but there are a few that do not.

For making iron see the Rockbridge Bloomery site on our links page. These guys have been making wrought iron sucessfully for a number of years.

Also note, that if the people you saw were "casting" arrow heads in molds then they were not casting iron but were using brass or bronze. Casting is an entirely different process than forging from maleable wrought iron or steel.
   - guru - Friday, 12/16/05 18:37:18 EST


I wouldn't bother trying to use that anthracite coal at all. For thousands of years, folks have been successfully forge welding with wood charcoal, so there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to as well.

Charcoal made from real wood, not the briquettes that are used for barbecuing your weiners, is pretty pure carbon, just like coal. The only real difference is density; charcoal is less dense than mineral coal, so it takes more volume of it to get to heat than it does for coal. Charcoal is actually much cleaner burning than coal and therefore better for forge welding.

If you're having trouble getting your charcoal fire hot enough to weld, you may not be using a deep enough fire. Your fire needs to be at least 8 to 10 inches deep with charcoal. You place your steel about 1/3 of the way down form the top of the fire to get the"sweet" spot. Also, you want a slow blast of air.

If you have a high pressure or high velocity air blast, you'll introduce too much cool air into the fire, making it both a cool fire and an oxidizing one. For charcoal, you want plenty of air, but moving relatively slowly compared to what works for a coal fire.

I hope this helps you. It will certainly do you more good than trying to work with anthracite. Save that for your furnace.
   vicopper - Friday, 12/16/05 19:31:41 EST

i've just restored an old rivet forge with poured bearings in the blower that mounts underneath the pan. my question is when were these type of forges made and who made them? the only markings of the entire assembly is an embossed 150 on the blower housing. also, were there any rotary type blowers (non bellows) used during the civil war time? thank you in advance for any help.
   kirt - Friday, 12/16/05 22:27:34 EST

Thanks for the advice I'll keep it in mind, good thing I only spent $7.00 on that anthracite.

Seem to run into another issue though, I wouldn't know the first place to find natural charcoal, and currently lack the time to make my own. On the other hand I do live in Pennsylvania, if anyone knew where I might find a place to purchase some good coal in the area of allentown, I'de much appriciate it. Thanks again.
   Patrick - Saturday, 12/17/05 04:06:36 EST

small addition to the last post, how much does it hurt to just use the brickets, with less important work it always seemed to work just fine?
   Patrick - Saturday, 12/17/05 04:14:07 EST


Supermarkets and big box stores sometimes have natural "lump" charcoal. Roofing suppliers and commercial restuarant suppliers are good bets for year-round supplies in bigger, more economical, quantities.
   Mike B - Saturday, 12/17/05 09:15:05 EST

Patrick: See the posts in the above threads on Blaschak coal sold by in some hardware stores in the New England area. Uses say it is pretty good blacksmithing coal. Blaschak is located in PA so they should have some local retailers. I believe web site is www.blaschakcoal.com.

Mike B: Why would roofing suppliers carry charcoal? Just curious.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/17/05 10:00:36 EST


I'm told some roofers still use charcoal-fired tar pots. In any event, several smiths around here (the DC area) buy charcoal at a roofing supplier.
   Mike B - Saturday, 12/17/05 12:30:55 EST

What? Why are you all talking about roofing?
   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 13:12:43 EST

Oh i see, charcoal to roofing suply ware house, to roofers needin charcoal, oh...
   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 13:14:28 EST

what is a good type of metal for a beginner?
I think it said like 6062-t6 or somthing like that on here somewhere...
   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 13:28:03 EST

oh it is aluminum 6061-t6 for a wall hanger or a practice sword. I feel weird talking to myself...
   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 13:30:36 EST

Old Forges: Kirt, Generally these had a name on them however they were sometimes stenciled on. The 3 big makers were Champion, Buffalo, and Canady-Otto. Then there were hundreds of other small ironworks that made machinery that may have made your forge.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/17/05 13:52:16 EST

ALuminium 6061=T6 is good for a hand carved wall hanger using files and hand tools.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/17/05 13:53:33 EST

Is there a specific model of engraver that is used for swords, or will any model do?
   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 14:23:01 EST

Does anyone have an easy way of removing mill scale from iron besides heating it in the forge? I use a coke forge and can only do little bit's at a time as opposed to you gas forge users who can do larger/longer heats. By the way, if anyone is still looking for the best way to light a coke fire, I've finally got the definitive answer!!!! Lay a single layer of coke pellets on your tuyere, turn on your forge blower, take an oxy/acet torch (I have a #4 tip on mine), get a neutral flame and heat the coke till red hot. Put another layer of coke on top and repeat with torch. Then add about the same amount as both preheat's took to get a good mound of fire going. It take's less than 5min to have a working fire in your pot!!!!Thanks
   Thumper - Saturday, 12/17/05 14:41:10 EST


I am a total newb, and dunno how to remove Mill scale.
   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 15:13:10 EST

guru, did any of the known makers make these during the civil war time period? was wanting to use it for reenactments if it were period.
   kirt - Saturday, 12/17/05 15:32:01 EST

I have access to a both a propane furnace heater gun, and a fuel oil fire furnace gun. Has anybody used these to make a forge before, and how do they work? I figured that it would be a good air fuel mixer, but there may be little regulation. Will this work?

Thanks again for the help.

Sean A
   Sean A - Saturday, 12/17/05 15:53:22 EST

Sean A,

no idea sorry.


What are 'these'?
   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 16:03:58 EST


when were celtic leaf swords used? The only one i've seen was Sting on lord of the rings.
   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 16:10:39 EST

thanks guru,this site is awesome, prob now is my wife feels like an "another" anvilfire widow? ( she bets there are lots like her in the U.S.)i got lots to think about now, cheers.
   geoff - Saturday, 12/17/05 16:52:44 EST

cheers geoff, even though you weren't talken to me.
   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 17:16:40 EST

celtic leaf swords are in all likelyhood just a figment of Tolkein's mind.
Seeing as how the only one you have seen is the movie one it would be a strong indicator that they really did not exist.
There are leaf shaped ( more or less ) knives in a lot of different locations.
I may be incorrect on this but I think either the Greeks or was it the Romans had a short sword that was sorta leaf shaped.
   Ralph - Saturday, 12/17/05 17:30:29 EST


thank you for leting me know. I was curious, because i saw a picture of one on the net made of wood. I was goting to build a practice leaf sword, and i realized i had no idea where they came from.
   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 17:32:33 EST

Roofer supply places carry charcoal for use in little furnaces used to heat sodiering irons for gutter and flashing work.
   ptree - Saturday, 12/17/05 17:40:40 EST


this is known, i beleive it was stated above. you prob. saw me ask why we were talking and awnsered, so i thank you for trying to hep.
   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 17:44:50 EST

While forging a sword, what do you do if the blade breaks?
   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 17:49:08 EST


You might try an overnight soak in acetic acid (vinegar). This is a good way to remove forge scale from a piece and should work for mill scale as well. One of those plastic protectors for fluorescent light bulbs, capped and sealed off at one end, might work well for holding longer pieces.


Does the forge have a wooden lever attatched that actuates the blower? If so, it may post-date the civil war slightly. These forges were produced in the early 20th century, purportedly to ween the local farmer/smith off of the bellows. They may have been made earlier, but I've always associated that type of forge with the WWI era. Others will know more, and a more elaborate description of the mechanics of the forge might help to nail it down.


   eander4 - Saturday, 12/17/05 17:59:54 EST

go to
Other than that this is a Blacksmith forum, not a bladesmith forum, so although we may be able to answer general questions on swords I think the bladesmith forums would do a better job of it.
Also this is not a chat room, so do go expecting instant answers. The slacktubpub is the chatroom here.
   JimG - Saturday, 12/17/05 18:04:33 EST


If it breaks, you curse a lot and start over (grin). You could try forge welding it back together, but the bond would not be as strong, and nobody want to stake their life on "maybe" in a sword fight. Also, if you are looking for good blacksmithing references for starting out, check out the "getting started in blacksmithing" link on this sight. There are a number of excellent books out there and no one is the definitive source of information. Most importantly, take a deep breath, relax and have fun with it. You can't learn it all in a day. If you could, tomorrow would be really boring anyway. (grin)

   eander4 - Saturday, 12/17/05 18:11:28 EST

thanks. I quess I should slow down, and be more careful.


thank you too. I went there and it helped out.
   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 18:23:19 EST


doesn't it anoying answering q's all day? Is there eniugh asprin in the world for that job?
   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 19:36:06 EST

   Tony - Saturday, 12/17/05 19:36:22 EST

Tony: It is not annoying answering questions, that is why we are here! We here, the Guru and all of us in Blue, help support this site to educate and promote blacksmithing. All the smiths I have met have been more than willing to help pass on their knowledge, and that is what this site is all about. For about a buck a week, anyone can support this site. We even take donations of lesser or greater amounts! I for one am proud to help support this site and do my part to promote blacksmithing.
   Bob H - Saturday, 12/17/05 20:46:22 EST

Eric, Thanks for the idea, I'll try it this week and let you know if it works.
   Thumper - Saturday, 12/17/05 21:21:22 EST

Patrick, There are several deposits of coal in Pa. I am not sure what type of coal they produce in Jim thorpe, But that is the closest coal town I can think of in your proximity. I am sure there are several between Allentown Scaranton area. Probabaly the best thing to do is look for a coal supplier in your are that deliveres by the Truck load, and ask them where to can get coal that is suitable to your liking. They normally won't carry it, but they know where to get it.
   Sean A - Saturday, 12/17/05 21:35:39 EST

I am new to blacksmithing, and I need information on Buffalo Forge Firepots. I have inherited one from my great-grandfather that has been in our family for many years. The date on the side of the pot is July 3rd of 1899. It has a name also, C.Hammelman's. Where can I find more information on this pot and any other item to go with it. Thank you for any help you can provide.
   Logan - Saturday, 12/17/05 22:58:39 EST

guru and eric,
the forge does have a wood handle that pulls on a gear section. this gear section engages another gear that turns an over running clutch (3 dogs and internal teeth). the internal teeth part spins an approx. 11 in pully that is coupled to the blower via a leather belt. the reason i believe it to be older than ww1 is the poured bearings in the blower and the pan is cast iron not stamped steel. will be able to email pictures monday if anyone is interested.
thank you in advance for any information,
   kirt - Saturday, 12/17/05 23:22:42 EST

Tony (and other new folks):

This is not an instant messaging system, but a bulletin board. Please try to think-out and consolidate your messages into one or two general postings.

Leaf Shaped Blades: As I remember (and I'll check my references later this week) leaf shaped blades were mostly Bronze Age, and especially associated with the Greeks. For Tolkien fans, there is more than a little resemblance between the classical Greeks and the concept of the Elven folks, and this was picked up, in part, in the movie and its props (plus a heavy dose of Art Nouveau).

For practical purposes, the leaf shape enhances the power of the chopping motion, and the distribution of the mass affects just what balance is struck between cutting, thrusting and speed. A present example of this principle would be the central/east Asian kukri. Like much else, the exact proportions are as much art as science. (As for me, I prefer an axe! ;-)

After you check out the AnvilFire Armoury section (see the pull-down menu on the above right corner) you may want to try over at www.swordforum.com for some further insights, especially their beginners’ forum.

Much warmer and cloudy on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 12/17/05 23:25:23 EST

I am asking this again since it seems to have moved up the postings rather quickly and may have been over looked.

I have access to a both a propane furnace heater gun, and a fuel oil fire furnace gun. Has anybody used these to make a forge before, and how do they work? I figured that it would be a good air fuel mixer, but there may be little regulation. Will this work?

Thanks again for the help.

Sean A
   Sean A - Sunday, 12/18/05 00:32:27 EST

Sean A : I have heard that it can be done, and am planning to try, but so far havn't come up with the time. You are corect about the lack of regulation, Nozzle size can be changed, but not throttled in an oil gun, You could possibly tweak the pressure on the gas gun, could for sure with some modification.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 12/18/05 00:53:59 EST

SOFT COAL:With respect to Patrick's search for coal, does Wallace Metalworks sell coal? I remember reading that someone did, cant be sure who. Richard H. Lutz in Skippack has soft coal for $12/100# bag, havn't tried it yet, but heard from another smith that it works.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 12/18/05 01:03:00 EST

Logan, Is the firepot rectangular or round? Does the tuyere valve have a rectangular hole through its center? Does the tuyere valve have a handle? Does it have an "ash barrel" attached on the bottom with an air intake, usually 3", and a hinged ash dump gate

The rectangular ones are for everyday use, and Buffalo used to make a large round one for use in the railroad shops. I have an old Buffalo catalog but can't lay my hands on it at present.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/18/05 01:31:17 EST

I havn't been able to load the Virtual Hammer In page last night or tonight. Is it working OK, or am I having the dialup ISP blues?
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 12/18/05 01:39:10 EST

There are charcoal manufacturer's in PA; we always used to buy the charcoal for our iron smelting runs from Humphrey's in Brookville PA (location of their plant)---unfortunately closer to Pittsburg than Allentown. Our shortstack scandanavian bloomery furnaces used only a couple of hundred pounds of clay and the less that of charcoal to produce 15 pound blooms from black sand ore.

iron leaf shaped blades were at the changeover from bronze to iron---they were trying the new metal in the traditional shape.

Briquettes let too much O2 get to the metal and produce way more ash and don't get as hot. I'd rather use wood in the forge than briquettes!

Answering well thought out questions is not tiresome. Answering questions that have been asked 3 times a week for years does tire one out and sometimes we can be a bit terse...especially me...

I believe I have mentioned my 10+ years of helping a group smelt iron from ore several times now; perhaps a search on bloomery would be in order.

   Thomas Powers - Sunday, 12/18/05 01:40:21 EST

your site is so advanced as are your abilities that i'm embarrassed to even ask these questions-i'm looking for a good 'receipe' for patinas to be used on silver jewelry, i don't like the liver of sulpher stuff and i've seen pieces where different receipes were used and really loved the way they looked. In addition, an tips for soldering 925 silver would be great. i'm not worried about discoloration, i'm mainly trying to solder posts on the back of ear studs without leaving rough edges to gouge the ear. i've worked for GM for years and can solder any wire in a car but silver is making me nuts, it gets a bit expensive to keep scraping jobs too. any receipe for patina and any tip at all about soldering siver will be really appreciated! thanks so much
   Treaba - Sunday, 12/18/05 02:51:36 EST

i feel a bit silly asking this question, this site and your abilities are so advanced. i'm looking for a patina 'receipe' to be used on silver jewelry. i don't like that sulfer stuff and i've seen pieces where a patina was used and they're much prettier too. any help you can offer will be much appreciated. thanks for your time
   Treaba - Sunday, 12/18/05 02:57:24 EST

Treba, Vicopper will probably have a lot to add, but here goes on silver work solder.
Silver solder normally comes in at least three grades, called easy, medium and hard.(easy melts at the lowest temp) These names refer to melting temp not strenght. Silver solder can be had in three forms, foil sheet, wire and a flux/solder paste.
I was trained in Germany in the 70's to use foil sheet and liquid flux. This involve cutting tiny snipets of the foil perhaps 1/16" square. The area to be soldered was prepped by making as perfect a fit as possible. A bit of flux was applied with a fine artists brush and then a snipet of the solder was picked up with the artists brush. This was placed at the joint. The parts to be joind were on a alumina or charcoal block. A soft flame from a torch was applied to dry the flux. Sometimes the solder would pop off or move, and this required repositioning the solder. Once the flux was dry, the the flame was applied opposite the solder to cause the silver to heat and melt the solder and cause it to be pulled into the joint by capillary action. The tricks were in how to position the parts so as to keep them from moving and heating to solder point without melting the parts. A device called a third hand was often a real help. If making a complex assembly with multiple joints, one starts with hard and progresses to soft. This way the previous joint should not melt. Also solder increases in melting temp by about 50 degrees or so when melted. To control where the solder goes, good control of the amount placed is important as is the occasional use of anti-flux.
When making parts such as a ring, the joint control is important. I was taught to either make several saw cuts thru the joint, holding the ring in compression to make the joint sides comform or to use an equalling file. The ring is made into a bit of a D shape with the joint in the flat side to allow good control. Once the flux is dry, the the back side of the ring, away from the joint is heated to cause the thermal expansion to close up the joint. Properly made silver solder joints in jewerly do not use a solder fillet such as the use of solder in other applications. After the joint cools a bit, the whole assembly goes into the pickle to remove the firescale and flux. Watch for spattering of the acidic pickle when the jewerly goes in hot. Use copper tongs/twezzer to prevent iron contamination of the bath. The solder is almost always a bit different color, and would show. I was taught to go for an interference fit, and get a joint only a couple of molecules thick. That way a solder line does not show.
If you are experiencing rough edges at the solder joint, I would guess that perhaps you are getting a cold joint, or are not using real high silver content solder.
Materials can be had mail order, and I have had good luck with Rio Grande Jewerlers Supply. They are also a good info source.
   ptree - Sunday, 12/18/05 11:28:34 EST

Dave B: Virtual Hammer in loading just fine for me yesterday and today.

Coal: check with your local ABA chapter or blacksmiths group. I have purchased coal from Centaur and it was excellent, but the shipping is a killer (to Arizona). Our local group bought coke in bulk a couple of years ago, and when folks get low we order coal in bulk. Saves on the shipping. Around here folks are getting so touchy about air quality that propane forges are increasing in popularity. Also, they are nice in speed, heating of multiple parts, and a good propane forge makes beautiful forge welds. If you've ever watched, even on a video, a good smith make propane welds (Bill Epps comes to mind), you will surprised at how easy and fast it goes.

Question: is anyone here using a fly press in their shop? Pieh Tool Co. in Camp Verde (Az)is having a one day workshop on January 14th, and in preparation for that I purchased the DVD from Pieh Tool Co (they are an advertiser here and can be reached through the drop down menu at top right of your screen). I was impressed by the speed and control, and also the ability to do cold work on steel, and would appreciate some feedback from any users of fly presses.

I have read the iForge demos here and they are helpful, but watch the DVD opened my eyes....wide!

   Ellen - Sunday, 12/18/05 12:06:13 EST

Treaba, a couple of soldering tips. First, try using "Batterns" high temp liquid flux instead of paste flux (Rio sells it), it's less messy. Then, when soldering earring posts, try indirect "sweat soldering". This is where you position your flux on the metal first, when it stops bubbling and becomes glassy, add your fluxed snippit (I recommend you get some wire solder to use), of solder where you want it to adhear with a poker. At this point, heating from either from the top or bottom, using a soft neutral flame the solder will first ballup and become shiny and then puddle onto the silver. Take the earpost, and dip the end to be soldered into a small puddle or droplet of flux to ensure a clean solder. Then take your torch and heat the earring from underneath untill the solder turns shiny again and wiyh a pair of tweezers, hold the flux coated end of the post into the puddle. You will see capillary action actually draw the solder up the post abit, remove the flame and within 2 seconds the solder will go dull again and your solder will be complete. I recommend doing all this work with the piece placed on on a fire proof piece of screen (again Rio has this), suspended from a third arm or held over the edge of your bench by putting a weight on it where it rests on the bench. That way you can get the heat where ever you need it without the standard charcoal or fire brick acting as heat sink and only allowing you to solder from the top. Also, to retard firescale and preclean your piece(s) for soldering, mix a batch of powdered boric acid and denatured alcohol in a fire proof container , (you want it to be shy of paste, but thick enough that you see in it suspension when you appy it),dip your earring parts in it, and hit it with a flame. The alcohol will burn off and leave a white residue over the entire piece. Don't allow the open flame to come close to the container holding the alcohol mixture and have a lid handy incase you accidentally ignite it. Finally as ptree said, there are three grades of solder, go for the "easy-flow", untill your talent's improve. The higher temp solder you use, the better color match to sterling, with earpost's that won't be a factor. Good luck. Email me off the board here if you want more info, I was a custom jeweler for 35+ years and could fill your ears with trivia and info until they start to bleed LOL.
   Thumper - Sunday, 12/18/05 12:08:22 EST


There is nothing I really need to add to ptree's post about soldering; he pretty much covered it, I think. It helps to have a good torch of a size suited to the size work you are doing. For jewelry, a Prest-O-Lite™ caetylene/air torch is a good choice, and is available with a wide range of tip sizes. I prefer a tiny oxy/acetylene torch myself, but it can be really easy to melt down a whole piece with one if you're inattentive. I'll second what ptree said about your rough joint problem; either not clean and fluxed enough, or not enough heat to flow the solder.

For patinas on silver, I recommend you check some of the better reference books in your library. "Metal Techniques for Craftsmen" by Oppi Untracht is my favorite, and Sharr Choate has some good material in her books "Creative Jewelry" and "Creative Casting". You can get some interesting colors by using a diluted solution of liquid cold bluing used to touch-up the bluing on guns. Try WalMart or a sporting goods store. Other colors can be obtained by using many of the same formulae used for coloring copper. (You are actually coloring the copper 7.5%part of the sterling alloy.)

Copper nitrate will give a greenish color on silver, lead acetate will produce a bluish color, and copper sulfate will yield a reddish brown. Please not that some or all of these chemicals can be highly toxic and care should be used when handling them.

One thing you need to keep in mind when coloring sterling is that any of the chemical colors that you create will be very thin oxide, sufide or nitride layers and would need to be lacquered to prevent them being rubbed off or changing to dark grey which is the "natural" oxide of silver. Just as steel rusts unless treated, sterling silver will oxidize. You can't defeat Mother Nature indefinitely. (grin)

   vicopper - Sunday, 12/18/05 12:23:07 EST

On Coal in New England,
Aubuchon Hardware does carry Blaschack Blacksmithing coal. They do not however stock it in the stores. You need to ask for it and be aware some of the store personell will not be know that it is available. The Stores presently get deliveries once a week. After Jan 1st they will be getting deliveries twice a week. So when you call for it or stop by and order it you can expect a wait of no more than a week. Also, on a full pallet order you will get a 10% discount. They have 150 stores throughout the six New England states and New York State.
How do I know so much about the Aubuchon Hardware Co and the coal they carry ???? I work in their Distribution Center (Warehouse)in Westminster , Mass. and I asked Bernard Aubuchon Jr to begin carrying Blacksmithing Coal.
   Harley - Sunday, 12/18/05 15:00:51 EST

Coal & Aubuchon Hardware......
Just thinking out loud here, would it be practical to ask Aubuchon to donate a % of their coal sales they get from anvilfire to anvilfire since they are getting free advertizing from us?
Might be worth mentioning that to anyone who gets business due to a referral from us.
   JimG - Sunday, 12/18/05 15:27:22 EST

Better yet, suggest they become an anvilfire advertiser. Say they make $3.00 profit a bag. Additional sales of just 25 bags a month would break even there. They could become the leading supplier of blackmsithing coal in the New England area.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/18/05 15:43:35 EST

OR just the sale of a ton of coal and they are ahead. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 12/18/05 17:01:11 EST

I was wondering if anybody has tried to use a furnace gun off of a propane furnace or a fuel oil furnace to make a forge, and what kind of success they have had? also If Propane, or fuel oil would be better?
   Sean A - Sunday, 12/18/05 17:14:08 EST

I'll copy , print and foward the above posts regarding Aubuchon advertising and or donating to Anvilfire to Bernard Aubuchon Jr. We will see what happens. I am not optimistic But stranger things have happened.
   Harley - Sunday, 12/18/05 17:49:12 EST

Ellen, I use a flypress in my shop fairly frequently. It's hardly the shiny new thing you'll find at Pieh's though. Mine is an old double column (inverted U shape) with a 34" diameter heavy flywheel. They really are wonderful tools to have on hand. I've made forming tooling for mine to sink bowls for candle drip pans or lighting canopies, made punches for holes in strap or bar, made a hammer eye drift to use with it, and of course have several sliting chisels to use with it. I also have some bending fixtures I've made or adapted for it. One useful tool many folks might not think about when using one is a 4" dia tube filled with cast polyurethane mounted to a base plate for use under the ram. I've made punches for hydraulic forming of sheet using the polyurethane as the forming medium. I make a leaf form candle cup with overlapping leaves using this technique. You can see the press and tooling in action making a holly leaf over at iforgiron's blueprint section.
   SGensh - Sunday, 12/18/05 19:22:44 EST

I made a Christmas present for my wife. I made a rose, using some heavy copper flashing for the petals. So, before I assemble this thing, what do I do to clean the copper? After putting it all together, I plan on spraying it with clear acrylic. I used the pattern from Kayne and Son, and just traced the petals on the copper. I made the stem and leaf from mild steel. She should be pleasantly surprised when she finds it in her Christmas stocking. Oh, I did try the faq's, and the archives. I've never found what I want in the archives before I run out of patience. And hey, I am in BLUE! Thanks.
   Bob H - Sunday, 12/18/05 19:24:46 EST

Bob h couldn't you use jewler's cleaner? I should work on copper, or at least i think it should...
   Tony - Sunday, 12/18/05 19:56:03 EST

About 1965 I saw a oldtime cable driller sharpen well drill bits using a fuel oil fired forge. It was made from a 55 gallon drum and filled with refractory. The thing ran wide open only and was used to heat many hundred pound bits. I seem to remember the thing sounding much like a F-4 at military power! At the valve shop where I used to work we had a number of oil fired forges in the forge shop. These were production forges that held billets for drop hammers. Most heated about a ton to several tons at a crack. Again full blast no throttle. At the axle forge shop I just left we still had a couple of flame type forges and they were dual fuel holdovers from the gas crunch of the 80's. Again full throttle huge forges. The one I worked on had 6 gas burners with 3/4" burner orifices running at 20# natural gas, and the oil fired burners were the same equiv. size.
All production set ups that are designed to run the steel thru as fast as it is heated. I have never seen a little oil fired forge. I think the inability to throttle would make it not condusive to hobby work.
   ptree - Sunday, 12/18/05 20:21:28 EST

Bob H,

these are the ingredients, and procedures for making a copper/brass cleaner...
1/2 c flour 1/2 c salt 1/2 c powdered detergent 3/4 c white vinegar 1/4 c lemon juice 1/2 c very warm water measuring cups quart jar with lid spoon bowl

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl Stir in the liquid ingredients. Mix well Transfer the cleaning mixture to a glass jar. Close the jar tightly and label it. To use the cleaner, shake a small amount onto a cloth and rub it into the surface of the copper, brass, or bronze object. Use a toothbrush for hard-to-reach areas. Rinse with water and rub dry with a clean cloth
   Tony - Sunday, 12/18/05 21:18:31 EST

A question for Bill Epps if he's around.

In your iforge post and in your video for the longhorn, you suggest using a sander-polisher instead of an angle grinder with a wire brush attachment. Is the model #9227C Makita in the realm of what you are recommending?
   - sriver - Sunday, 12/18/05 21:19:09 EST

Bob, I just used a Scotchbrite pad for the same thing. But I didn't coat the flower with acrylic. I'm just going to let the copper age.

   - Marc - Sunday, 12/18/05 21:20:29 EST

I was wondering, I don't have the heat to forge weld (nc tool co whimper baby), is there another way to do a basket twist without forge welding the ends. Maybe cutting through it on both sides? Went to another smith's shop yesterday. Asked him the same thing, he said no but I thought I would ask someone else. Man o man I learned a lot yesterday. I'm like a whole new smith today. Learned how to do dragon and wizard heads and dang what a difference there is when making leaves if you turn it like a diamond so that the you hit the corner when flattening it. Also taught myself to do a horsehead today with the skills I was shown yesterday.
   Tyler Murch - Sunday, 12/18/05 21:39:28 EST

Bob H,

I've used just about every patent copper cleaner, a double-dozen or so homebrew recipes and some truly exotic chemical concoctions, not to mention electrolysis and other voodoos. In the end, my favorite copper cleaner is a scouring powder called "Barkeeper's Friend". It strips off ALL the oxidation and leaves a clean raw copper surface. It doesn't make it mirror shiny, though.

If you want mirror lshiny copper, the only route is to sand and buff it, clean with detergent and water, prep the surface with a dilute phosphoric acid rinse and then final rinse with distilled water. Blow dry and lacquer immediately with the very best automotive acrylic lacquer money can buy. That process might get you ten years of shiny if not handled. Probably more like five, though.

Copper is just *so* darned chemically active that the least little teeny weeny amount of oxygen and it immediately oxidizes.

   vicopper - Sunday, 12/18/05 22:19:38 EST


There a couple of different ways to do a basket twist without forge welding. MIG, TIG, SMAW and oxy/acetylene come to mind immediately. (grin)

Yes, you can take a piece of square stock, say 3/4", and hot split it longitudinally both ways. It is really tough to get the second split to stay centered; the piece on the underside wants to slip sideways at the least little provoccation. It *can* be done, though. After splitting, square it up again, twist, untwist, and there you have it.

You can also take a bundle of 4 (2x2) or 9 (3x3)rods and collar the ends. Set the collars hot and tight, 'cuz they're going to hold the ends together when you do the twisting. When you're ready to do the twisting, quench the ends to a black heat first, to keep them from loosening up from the twisting forces.

Oh. When you do a bundle of 9, I think it looks best with round rods on the outside of the bundle and a square rod at the center. If you put a two turn twist in it before you make up the bundle, it will look like you did the impossible when it's finished. The center rod will have 2 more twists than the basket around it. You can even reverse twist the center for more effect.

   vicopper - Sunday, 12/18/05 22:32:41 EST

Saw posts on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday regarding powder post beetles. Remember the borax we use for flux? Bruce used it as a powder, but make a borax and water solution and soak the stump or brush it on and let it dry. It works better than varnish once the larvae are in the wood.
   - Tony - Sunday, 12/18/05 22:49:49 EST


I made several basket twists, using 1/2"and 3/4" stock, back when I was still terrified of forge welding.(grin) Vic is right, the second set of splits can be a booger. The trick I found was to make the first two splits from opposite sides, just not quite cutting through the stock. This thin web of metal in the center helps to hold everything together when you attack it for the third side, and the final split was the one where I followed through, breaking the web, which opens the whole thing up. One thing I would recommend in addition is opening the split section up and hot-rasping the ends (where the split meets the solid)and any rough edges, prior to squaring it up. It just helps to clean up the appearance.

   eander4 - Monday, 12/19/05 00:42:44 EST

Tyler, When I do basket twists I use my Oxy Acetylene torch to weld it before doing the twist. I'm just not comfortable with my forge welding skills yet, and I am very good with a torch.

   FredlyFX - Monday, 12/19/05 03:05:06 EST

Baskets. Another note. Before hot splitting, do a careful layout with a combination square or some sort of center finder, and scribe the lines you're going to follow. Then, chisel the lines with a crowned cutting edge cold chisel, rocking it along like a P-38 can opener. A finished basket with strands of varying sizes is really cheesy looking and should not be a keeper. The strands will also move at differents rates of speed when twisting. Finally, when you finish the twist and untwist, there is nearly always some fine tuning to be done using needle nose tongs and/or the vise and a pry bar. Try to get the negative spaces to be the same, and that will take care of the positive.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/19/05 07:50:01 EST

I have a large wrought iron chain link that is heavyly rusted. I would like to remove the rust, and preserve the fibrous WI structure. Any suggestions as to chemical treatments vs sandblasting? Checking Home Depot, I found several versions of rust remover, some based on phosphoric acid, others based on oxalic acid, then there is naval jelly, and hydrochloric acid. The link is approx 7 in long and 3 in wide, approx. 7/8 dia. There is a forge weld at one end, that I would like to show clearly.
The piece would then be lacquered and used as an illustration of the nature of WI for demonstrations.
   - Dave Lawrence - Monday, 12/19/05 09:24:44 EST

This is a unique product because it uses feldspar for the abrasive. This is much softer that the silica in "Comet", and harder than the chalk in "Bon Ami". I think it is just right. It also contains Oxalic acid which will bleach out rust stains. If used on ferrous metal other than stainless, the Oxalic Acid is overwhelmed and you just have tha abrasive. on stainless, copper or aluminum it removes the free iron contamination.

For aluminum my favorite is "ZUD"

All from the grocery store. None will give a mirror finish, but rather a matt surface. Follow with Brasso for a mirroer surface.
   - John Odom - Monday, 12/19/05 09:35:11 EST

My favorite way to patinate silver is to wear it around the coal forge. The sulfur smoke does have an effect...but it usually cleans up fairly well in the shower.

   Thomas P - Monday, 12/19/05 10:53:20 EST

Oil Forges: I have seen several oil forges using the burner unit of a small domestic oil forge. These are just mounted on the side of a large refractory lined box. The smallest I have seen was about 3 cubic feet. I doubt this would work on a smaller fire box. These burners come with oil pump, filter, fan, nozzel and ignition.

One plan noted that the burner bottom should slop down hill toward the forge so that any liquid fuel that settles would drain into the forge.

The other consideration is that these burners have motora and electrical parts that need to be kept away from heat. Beside the refractory box you need insulation on the burner side and heat shields. A heat shield is just a sheet metal plate with air space on both sides. The plate absorbs the radiant heat then gives it off to the air. A good convection current (draft) pass the shield is important. Do not close off the top or bottom.

The advantage of oil blown forges is they oxidize the work less than gas. But the resulting fumes MUST be vented out of a stack.
   - guru - Monday, 12/19/05 10:56:12 EST

Okay, just about everything I have ever read about hammer control and technique talks about efficency above all else. So, I was a little weirded out last night while watching a demo of a smith who while working what appeared to be a 1/4" piece of round stock out of a coal fire, would hammer a bit, stop and break rythm and hit the face of the anvil 2-3 times. At first I thought he was doing that to adjust where he was gripping the shaft of the hammer, i.e. sliding his hand to a different part of the handle during each strike on the anvil face. But that was not what he was doing. I thought it might have been to "keep his hammering rythem as he was adjusting the piece he was working on" but that didn't really seem to be it any ways. And besides, why would you waste the energy hitting your anvil face 3 times and risk marring to face while you re-adjust the piece? Is there any practical, energy efficent reason to strike an anvil face while you have a heated piece of stock cooling in the air or on the face?

BTW, I really liked the comment much earlier about someone watching an asian smith who would lift small pieces off the anvil face between blows to conserve heat. Simple idea, but I bet if I hadn't of read that it would have taken me years to figure it out.

Thanks for any help you can give in explaining what "wasted blows to an anvil face" do for you.

   Brett - Monday, 12/19/05 11:13:58 EST


prehapps, it was to keep the face of the hammer smooth? I dunno, but if it were a crappy hammer, it might of dented hitting the metal, so he could of been hitting the anvil to flaten the hammer. Not likly at all, but ya never know.
   - tony g - Monday, 12/19/05 11:28:40 EST

Fly Press Uses: Ellen, Flypresses have many uses especially if you are accustomed to making you own tools the blacksmith way (any way that works). Simple tools made from scraps using a buzz box can do some amazing things.

There ARE some limitations. It is NOT a power press. It is human powered and that always limits what you can do despite the mechanical advantage. They are like treadle hammers in that regard.

The huge advantage is a guided tool and repeatability. Need a thousand bends exactly alike? Dead simple tools will do it. Need to make those picky hot splits talked about above for making split basket twists? You cannot beat the precision of a machine and some simple guides. Need to upset some short bolt or rivet heads? This is the perfect tool.

Because of the machine guiding and the long stroke compared to short movement there is elxelent control as you noted. It is just as controlable as any hand tool but with much more power.

The dissapointing thing to me is the poor tooling mount on the smaller presses. Several people I have known have bored out the 3/4" hole for 1" shanks and increased the locking screw to 1/2".

Flypresses fill a nitch in the blacksmith shop that is not filled by the common power hammer or treadle hammer. However, unless you tool up and THINK about uses for the machine it will be just another under utilized tool. Learning to take advantage of a tool is the trick. What you see on those videos is imaginative people that push the limit of every tool they have OR often have ONE tool that they have tried to do EVERYTHING with.

When I was doing some band saw work I picked up a book on band saws and was amazed at the things wood workers were doing. One ingenious setup was a simple wood V-block and a stop. The first pass was made with the V block perpendicular to the blade. The round part was rotated in the V-block to make a shoulder cut. Then with the same setup turned 90 degrees and making multiple plunging cuts against the stop a perfectly round smiooth tennon was cut. The job was just as clean as done in a lathe and maybe just as easily. The saw is not a replacement for a lathe, but for this application it did the job with the same results.
   - guru - Monday, 12/19/05 11:52:44 EST

I had a very interesting problem with my gas forge this past weekend. I started the forge as normal; as it was warming up I noticed the copper propane lines downstream from the regulator starting to freeze. The burner became very erratic, huffing and puffing; shooting yellow flames that exited the forge quite uncomfortably. Shut off the valve upstream from the regulator and the flame out continued! Getting larger! Reached over (getting hot now) and shut off the downstream valve feeding the burner. Still flaming! After about 45 seconds the burner shut off. What happened??? After sitting down for a few minutes, this is my theory: I have about 20 ft of ½ inch black iron pipe that plumbs the forge station to the propane tank with a valve also at the tank. The last time I used the forge and being in a hurry, I shut down the burner valve downstream from the regulator and failed to shut off the valve supplying the iron pipe at the tank. I think that the propane collected in the lines, condensed to a liquid and remained there, building up through temperature changes (28 to 55). I had to open up the pigtail at the tank, open all valves and allow the propane to evaporate and vent off from the permanent supply lines. Doing this very slowly and being sure that there was no collection of gas. It took about 15 minutes to completely vent the line. Fired up the forge, worked fine, lesson learned; fortunately not the hard way. Shut off the propane at the tank! Comments? Admonishments?
   Tone - Monday, 12/19/05 11:58:38 EST

Ringing the anvil or bouncing the hammer: Some smiths do this to very great advantage to keep their rhythm. I also do it to have a pause to observe the work ocassionaly. And as the day gets longer and I get tireder the pauses get longer. On multiple strikes there should be NO effort expended and the hammer bounce in its normal decay until it stops. However, usualy one or two bounces is all that is required. More and it is time to put the work back in the fire.

SOME smiths have absolutely no rhythm and strike the anvil rather than just letting the hammer bounce. These folks do it because they have seen other people do it and think it is the right thing to do. I had an apprentice that very mechanicaly struck the anvil and I asked him what he was doing. He said I'm doing it the way you do it. . . I tried to explain that with a light grip and letting the hammer drop it will return almost to its full height with no effort. He couldn't do it. It was push the hammer down and pull the hammer up. I told him to STOP doing it unless it came natural.

You often see actors in movies doing this. These are folks that have never used a hammer in their life much less done any smithing and some director who is equaly unskilled in the art says do it like this. . . Hammer, hammer, tink, tink tink. . . Makes real blacksmiths cringe. In the movie Highlander Christopher Lambert does a fair job but he is the main character. In mosts films the smith is just background and not given much thought.
   - guru - Monday, 12/19/05 12:29:19 EST

Propane in Lines: Tone, When the regulator and lines start to show frost you MAY have near liquid propane in the lines but it is doubtful that it condensed from pressure changes. This takes lower than -40°F. However, at low temperatures the propane IS very dense and cold propane will continue to expand as it warms in a long line.

Your control should be at the forge not at the tank. You do not drain a manifold between uses like many people do hoses. That long pipe has more volume (74 cu in) than a standard disposable propane cyliner.
   - guru - Monday, 12/19/05 12:40:01 EST

Thanks guru, I was worried that there was some other freaky explanation that I wasn't aware of. I'll give it a shot but sitting here at a desk it seems that the extra sliver of attention that I would have to pay to making sure the hammer stays bouncing in the same position on the anvil face would not be worth the loss in attention I could pay to examining the work. If I'm not mistaken, any slight tilt of the bouncing hammer would cause it to rebound in a direction other than straight up which would take focus to make sure the hammer is not now heading towards my head especially if I have bent down to examine the work. So I would not only have to focus on examining the work but also about catching a hammer in the noggin. That's why I asked cuz the resting while examining answer didn't really make sense to me, but maybe with more experience it actually makes sense in economy of effort to let the hammer bounce. I'm just not there yet. Just to make sure, there is no true effect that bouncing the hammer or striking the anvil face can have on the piece being worked if held against the face right? No crazy answers like: "It helps to realign crystal structure of the piece being worked making it easier to move the metal when you resume striking the heated piece" are valid right? Cuz that would be a new one on me.
   Brett - Monday, 12/19/05 12:41:31 EST

Treaba-- you probably already know what I am about to suggest. But just in case (Everybody evolves his or her own method that works for them Mine follows): Do your soldering in a low light so you can watch the color of the silver carefully. The answer to a lot of metalworking problems is more heat, but the line between enough and too much is a fine one and crossing it can be heartbreaking. The area should be well ventilated but not breezy-- an exhaust fan with the intake right next to the soldering block is ideal-- to avoid throat, lung, kidney and liver damage from fumes. This is muy important especially if you are practicing on copper and brass, which a lot of jewelers advise when you are starting out. Do not work atop heat sinks that will rob the heat from your workpiece. Put it on a charcoal block or an asbestos-like pad or a heavy screen on a tripod. This is not like soldering sheet metal seams or electric wires or welding: with silver: the ENTIRE workpiece has to come up to soldering temp or close to it before the heat will stop flowing away from the joint. So this means that the whole piece has to be heavily fluxed to avoid the dread firescale. Slather it with a paste of Handi-flux first, then Batterns or Cuprinol. Mix up some Prip's flux (find the recipe in a jewelry textbook) and blow it on with a potter's blowpipe glaze sprayer after the piece is warmed so the piece is now totally, inside and out, frosted with flux. Burn down the flux until it stops bubbling. Position the teency paillons of silver, about 1/16 square max, which you have fluxed on the side of the joint that will not be visible when the piece is done. Heat the entire piece evenly. You have to be really careful now that the piece does not collapse. After the solder flows, let the piece cool briefly, until the color goes back to normal, and dunk it immediately in your heated pickle pot for a few minutes. Rinse it in cold water. Scrub off the glazed flux with warm water and diswashing soap and a toohbrush.Inspect the joint. If it is not goregous, re-flux and repeat the above until it is. Now try to sell the piece for the time you have in it-- and the work it took to learn how to do it. Good luck!
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 12/19/05 12:42:35 EST


I'm the guy who said to lift thin work between each blow.

The anvil should not be hit with the hammer.

There is a difference between hitting with a swing and resting the hammer on the anvil. With the rest, you might get a little rebound, which may result in multiple "ringing".

I've probably posted this before, but over the years, I came up with the "Three R's" of why the uninitiated THINK we are hitting the anvil, even though they don't know diddly. Rest, Rhythm, and Rumination. Think about it. If you are resting, why would you want to hold the hammer head or shoulder high, against all common sense and gravity? You rest it on the anvil.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/19/05 13:01:50 EST


Thanks go out to you for the lifting the piece between blows idea.
I totally agree with what you said in the "resting the hammer" on the anvil stuff. That was why I thought the demo looked weird cuz he wasn't "resting" the hammer between blows, he was actually tapping with anvil 3 times with no loss of rebound. After reading your post and guru's and assuming that no benefit can be imparted to the piece by hitting the anvil instead, it appears what i saw was an instance of a smith actively tapping the anvil b/c he thought it was the right thing to do, similar to Guru's apprentice story. Thanks for all the help and reassuring me that I am not crazy, (just a little slow ;)

Take care,
   Brett - Monday, 12/19/05 13:18:14 EST

Brett, I was at a demo once by Mark Aspry, a master smith from Wales who was trained in England through the old apprentice system. When asked about bouncing the hammer he said in his experience the smiths who's master bounced the hammer did so, and thos whose master didn't bounce didn't either. It was just a matter of who had trained them, and didn't serve a whole lot of purpose.
   FredlyFX - Monday, 12/19/05 13:31:12 EST

Hey i was watching Robin Hood, and in the movie, they melted metal, then poured it into a mold, would that work or certain things?
   - tony g - Monday, 12/19/05 14:12:41 EST

Hello: I have an old set of 18/8 stainless steel flatware with a black burnished finish for which I have found a smith to make new sets. But before I talk to him, I've been doing a bit of research- and I am confused as to what this black finish is. Also, I have been told that when I get a new set, 'chalking'--the black coming off will be a problem for a month or so, though it should never come off. Any thoughts as to what kind of preventative care can limit this, or what I should tell the smith?
   faye - Monday, 12/19/05 14:19:03 EST

Ringing the Anvil:

Mostly used when I'm drawing out, as I tumble the stock. However, at demonstrations you tend to do it a tad more often because it always:

A) Draws a crowd

B) Sounds nice

C) Gives you something to do to keep rythm (for a couple of taps, anyway) when answering questions or responding to interuptions

D) All of the above

Casting; Tony G:

Unless your working blades in a Bronze Age environment, casting is mainly used for small parts and sword and knife furniture (quillions, pommels, etc.) in weapons smithing. From there, you graduate (in both time-lines and technology) to cooking and tableware, church bells and cannons. You might want to check out some of the Camp Fenby articles on the AnvilFire News pages and iForge demonstrations for more information.

On a small scale casting is fun, but when you get to the larger projects, safety considerations increase dramatically. To paraphrase and old saying about hand tools and power tools: blacksmithing injures, foundry work maims.

I, personally, find the capability handy for small scale projects; but as Dirty Harry Callahan said: "A man should know his limitations. I'll do a bell clapper, but I'm not very good at even small bells. ;-)

Sunny and colder on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 12/19/05 16:10:01 EST

Each evening i look whats been asked and answered, the last24hrs have been fascinating, its a pitty that tv script writers dont look in, its a script half written and more interesting than any soap ive ever seen. My lad was lookin at the forge the other day and asked what is a flame made of? never thought of it before so couldnt answer but what is it?
   geoff - Monday, 12/19/05 16:58:00 EST

Did you know that when you burn wood, you give off methane? Methane can be used as fuel, as a liquid, or gas, so if you have like an air compressor or sumthin, couldn't you use the wood as fuel, then also use the methane?
   tony g - Monday, 12/19/05 17:10:52 EST

Tony G; they were not casting steel in England till the 1700's so I don't know what they were *supposed* to be casting that arrowhead from. Cast iron wouldn't make a decent arrowhead, neither brass, bronze, silver, etc...(BTW they weren't casting cast iron in England at that time either...)

Cast blades usually suffer from large crystal growth and inclusions, non-homogenity, etc so even after they started casting steel you could cast an ingot and then forge the metal down for bladestock.

If you start thinking that Hollywood has *ANYTHING* to do with reality a large Radioactive Mutant Lizard is going to come and stomp on your house!

   Thomas P - Monday, 12/19/05 17:37:30 EST

thomas P,

lol giaka! Giaka! Thanks for the info on casting.
   tony g - Monday, 12/19/05 17:59:16 EST

tony g: About the methane, when people make their own charcoal some people do something similer. They'ss put the wood to be charred into a barrel that has a pipe coming out of it and leading underneith to where there's a fire burning to heat the wood in the barrel. The methane and other volitile gasses from the wood in the barrel go through the pipe and help to fuel the fire underneith it.
   AwP - Monday, 12/19/05 18:18:23 EST

Treaba-- I neglected to mention eye protection when soldering. Get some and wear it. Arc burns happen immediately. Other problems don't necessarily. I did a lot of silver brazing/hard soldering this past year or so, mostly with a dinky little Presto-Lite acetylene/air torch and figured my photo-grey spectacles would handle the nasty rays emitted by the torch and the glowing metal. This view (haha-- pun alert!) was supported by one optometrist, one surgeon, and two ophthalmologists. Nonetheless, I now find myself after a lifetime of 20/15 vision having, over this period, developed a need for new plastic lenses in my peepers, which have formed cataracts. Don't take a chance. Wear some welding lenses, like maybe shade 3 greenies, when using a torch.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 12/19/05 18:18:36 EST


Earth, water, air, fire; I still like phlogiston, myself. (grin)
   vicopper - Monday, 12/19/05 20:18:25 EST

I dont think you get plasma at ordinairy combustion temperatures. What you get is hot gas. Hot enough to glow. Plasma is hot enough that charge separation occurs. Electric arcs generate plasmas.
   adam - Monday, 12/19/05 21:26:00 EST

Miles stop blaming your cataracts on the torch. You live at high altitude in the desert SW. Its the sun that did them in ... and those naughty magazines of course...
   adam - Monday, 12/19/05 21:29:33 EST

Whoa and Criminetly!

The anvil tap, bounce, hit, strike, rest, rebound. It is so difficult to define our terms with words. In addition, I think we need to distinguish between working solo and double striking.

When drawing out a piece to a certain cross section, an experienced smith need not apply too much (ahem!) intelligence. You usually give it quarter or eighth turns and hit with a steady rhythm. Furthermore, when double striking, trading blows with your striker as I do, if you touch the anvil with the hammer, it is a signal for the striker to finish. Therefore, drawing out a length with a striker is done without dinking on the anvilface, unless you're signaling a halt.

However, when the lone worker is bending, shouldering, or rounding a ball or disc, the rest and rumination (thought) might begin. There is more figuring and calculation involved than when simply drawing a length of steel.

I don't fully understand what the Welsh master smith meant in the above post. Perhaps "bounce" is the wrong term.

I venture to say that every experienced, knowledgeable, smith in the world, while working solo, uses the "rest", hammer to anvil, while working. We saw the Japanese bladesmiths working at the Santa Cruz, California, ABANA conference a score of years ago, and THEY worked much as we do, only lower to the ground. Yes, and they used the calculating rest, "gravity touch" of the hammer to anvil!

   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/19/05 21:33:28 EST


I mostly agree with Adam, but I don't think hot gas itself glows (at least not at ordinary combustion temps). I think I've read that what we see is flame is actually small particles of soot and such suspended in the hot gas and glowing. That's why some very clean burning substances, such as alcohol, burn with little or no visible flame.
   Mike B - Monday, 12/19/05 22:18:04 EST

adam-- I've heard that theory surmised about cattle, especially the white-faced type. If it were true of people, the entire Southwest would have long been stumbling around walking into cacti, driving into curbs, etc. And the original residents hereabouts would never have been able to hit anything, much less a moving Conestoga with their wicked little bows.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 12/19/05 23:13:44 EST

I left out:

You do find cast bronze arrowheads in ancient, classical and steppe cultures, and of course the Chinese were doing wonder with cast bronze and iron from a very early period (an incredible area of study in itself), but within a European medieval context it's not much used for weaponry (maybe for maces or flails).

Hollywood is a fount of inspiration as well as a flood of misinformation; it may pique your interest, but I wouldn't trust it any further than I could spit a dead rat!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 12/19/05 23:25:21 EST

Miles, then it *definitely was the magazines! look at the black body curve for 3000K - the approx combustion temp of OA


The UV component is insignificant

I would bet your UV dose from the sun has been millions of times anything you got from looking at an OA flame
   adam - Monday, 12/19/05 23:35:27 EST

Odd Treadle Hammer/power hammer???
I recently purchased this tool from an antique dealer who believed it was a foot powered power hammer. I had never heard of such thing and after looking high and low for any further info on this piece, I'm still no further ahead. The markings on it shows it to be a "DOPP PRESS". It was made by "SOWERS MFG" or "GOWERS MFG" in Buffalo NY. It is a very heavy table (2'x2'table top)on four legs. It has a very heavy pedal under the table which is attached to a "L" shaped arm that rocks backwards. The upper end of this arm is attached to an axle. The tip end of the arm is attached to a cylinder type of attachment that goes up and down on the top and center of the table similar to a power hammer. I believe the attachments are missing (dissets, hammer heads or whatever???). Has anyone heard of a DOPP PRESS? It weighs about 400 pounds.

   Louis - Monday, 12/19/05 23:57:00 EST

Lous : You may have a Kikpress. These use a heavy foot operated weight and lever deal to operate light duty stamping dies, rivet sets, eylet sets, etc. If it looks like it is intended to accept diesesets, that is probably what it is.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 12/20/05 00:52:51 EST

Tone: If the pipe from the tank became colder than the tank, propane from the tank would vaporize in the tank and condense in the line. When You start to use the forge liquid propane will go through the regulator and start to evaporate in the lower pressure and cause the frost You saw on the copper line. The eratic fire was caused by the evaporating liquid raising the pressure and gas flow and possibly by liquid going through the orfice and making WAY to much gas volume. The propane in a closed system acts like refrigerent, the liquid always goes to the coldest place.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 12/20/05 01:03:50 EST

adam-- and don't come crying to me to buy pencils from you when you are sitting in the Plaza with a tin cup and a white cane from soldering without your greenies on, now, you hear, hon? (I'm just back from Balmer.)
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 12/20/05 01:49:01 EST

Miles: My Mom didn't get Her cateracts from brazing, welding, living out west, skiing, sunbathing, pornography or voodoo. Hers came from having had so many birthdays...
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 12/20/05 04:11:16 EST

Can i harden A-36 material
   - andy - Tuesday, 12/20/05 07:48:15 EST

A-36: Andy, this is structural steel designed for beams and general steel construction. It is a "mild" steel. It is not designed to be hardened such as for cutting tools. It WILL harden enough to be brittle or hard enough to wreck cutting tools but does not hold up well as a hardened tool. If you want to make something hard there are hundreds of other steels that are commonly available.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/20/05 08:41:56 EST

Plasma vs. Flame: A common fire flame IS NOT plasma. Plasma is atomic matter broken down into its pieces, electrons and nuculi seperated by extream heat. As soon as it cools it recombines or normalizes by stripping electrons from other matter.

Flame is a complicated mixture of burning gases and florescing carbon. The yellow is carbon glowing from the heat and is why a yellow flame is sooty. The blues are burning hydrogen and liberates gases like methane. Many other things go on that vary depending on what is burning and how hot.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/20/05 08:56:30 EST


Yes, A-36 can be hardened, but not very much. It just doesn't generally have the required carbon content to harden sufficiently for use in cutting tools, for instance.

Please note that A-36 is a designation that refers only to the minimum yield tensile strength of the steel, and NOT to the alloy content. A-36 must have a minimum tensile strength of 36,000 pounds, but beyond that, it can have lots of different alloying compounds and may have a much higher strength, but not lower. Picture a big melt of scrap washing machines, bent lawn mower blades, car parts, old fencing and crushed paint cans, and you have a decent picture of what MIGHT be in your piece of A-36.

So, one piece of A-36 might get pretty hard while the next piece might not harden at all. Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/20/05 08:57:02 EST

Tony G. Please do not post messages to and from yourself under different names (godzilla, bald eagle. . . ) or use phoney e-mail addresses. I will be forced to delete all your posts and ask you to go elsewhere if you do not behave.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/20/05 09:02:13 EST

Other Properties of A-36 (or any scrap):


That's the sound of some A-36 that you're cooling in the slack tub on a cold day, that just developed a quench crack! As VICopper pointed out, above, there's a wide variation of content that still meets performance standards. With roadside scrap, of course, you don't pays no money, and ya still takes your chances. ;-) I've learned to cool very carefully and infrequently, and usually I wait until at least a black heat, if I just don't set it aside on the sand floor or under the forge for a spell.

Tony G: Sometimes the dog really does eat the homework; you just need to keep an eye on the dog! Creative (but memorable) passwords are your friends.

Sunny and cold on the banks of the Potomac. Hoping to have lunch with a fellow longship captain today, who's in town for training.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 12/20/05 09:28:31 EST

I live in north central Indiana, where is the nearest dealer that sells blacksmithing tools and equipment?
   Ron Anderson - Tuesday, 12/20/05 09:41:44 EST

Miles, Dave said it - too many birthdays - may you have too many more! Actually the incidence of cataracts is higher here in the SW along with skin cancer etc. Cataracts can form over time but UV exposure accelerates the process. As far a nature is concerned, once you've raised your kids, your body is pretty much past it's warranty date.

Pencils in the Plaza: I have worn glasses almost all my life - ordinairy glasses cut down the UV exposure significantly. This gives me an advantage over the hawkeyed fools who recklessly exposed their eyes to the sun.

In any case, I get to enjoy my schadenfreude now whereas you, ... well you will have to be able to see well enough to find me and spit in my cup of pencils. :)
   adam - Tuesday, 12/20/05 09:51:59 EST

Beeswax or parafin wax would not hold up well against friction but it would last a while in the rain wouldn't it?
   Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 12/20/05 10:09:44 EST

It is wax, and wax not exactly repells water, but water cant go through it, so probably, yes. It would make sence, you could test by coating a small peice of material, and put it out in the rain. test, and find out which is better.
   Tony g - Tuesday, 12/20/05 10:17:39 EST

Meinself, I think Miles got his cataracts from calibrating his heliochronometers. Humor time: An Asian gentleman went to the opthalmologist to have his eyes checked, and the doctor said, "Mr.Nakamura, my examination indicates that you have cataracts." Mr. Nakamura replies, "You not so smart, roundeyes, I got Rincoln Continentar and Lolls Loyce"
   3dogs - Tuesday, 12/20/05 10:30:31 EST

Last Call for the 2nd annual CSI/Slacktub pub Tong exchange.

I'll be doing the draw for the tong exchange tomorrow. If your wanting in on this send me an email with your mailing address in. The draw will be done chain style again, and all tongs should be in the post to their new home by 3 kings day.
   JimG - Tuesday, 12/20/05 10:55:30 EST

Tyler, on what? Purpose?
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/20/05 10:58:12 EST

I am looking at these Striker air hammers and have run then in the past.
Does anyone own one or know of an owner I can talk too?
I am curios to hear how they hold up over time.

Ric Furrer
Sturgeon Bay, WI
   Richard Furrer - Tuesday, 12/20/05 10:58:45 EST

Guru and Sgensh: Thank you for your flypress information.

I am fairly adept at making simple tooling (I have Arc, Acetylene, and Wire welders), but I do not forge hammer heads or tongs....to me that is power hammer work, at least when it comes to drifting the eye and drawing the reins. Power hammers, at least in Arizona, are a bit on the expensive side and more difficult to move...and my need at this time would not be great enough to justify it. Maybe after I take a power hammer class my opinion will change.

The flypress seems to me, as you mention, with various bits of tooling, to be quite useful in the shop, relatively inexpensive, and more manageable to move.

Some of the things I would like to use it for are those which I can forge by hand, but they are time and effort consuming to do. Had I the stature and musculature of some of you guys then it would likely be a different story, but my strength is limited, as is my endurance.

A particular use I have in mind involves using horse shoe rasps to make items like hoofpicks and rattlesnakes. This involves hammering them into a "U" shape (takes a fair amount of effort and time for me), then rolling them into a cylindrical shape on the anvil (goes faster and less effort), then bending them to shape.

I was thinking it would not be difficult to make tooling to make the "U" shape with the fly press, just reheating the rasp as necessary, when moving it through the tooling. Some of these rasps when making snakes are 14 or 16" long.

Making decorative marks especially straight lines, in 1/2 inch and larger square stock before twisiting also seems to be easy on the flypress from the DVD I watch, and many of my items do have these decorative twists in them, ie towel rack bars, candlestick shafts, hat or coat hangers. Currently I do my lines with chisel and hammer on cold stock on my anvil. Not fast, not always as straight as I would like.

As I said, I am registered for a one day workshop in mid January on flypress work (given by the smith, John Crouchet, the smith who made the DVD on flypress work), and if still impressed, I will take his three day class on flypresses in March. One aspect of his class is make about 20 flypress tools (yours to keep) and then learn to use them.

My budget would stretch to something like the P4 press (88 pound flywheel) sold by Kayne's (Blacksmith's Depot), and I would hope it would be adequate for my intentions. If so, it should pay for itself in a couple of years......

Your input requested, please.


Merry Christmas to all!
   Ellen - Tuesday, 12/20/05 11:29:17 EST

You are so learn-ed! I had to get down my 1936 German/English dictionary to look up 'schadenfreude', and the dictionary is printed in old-timey, weird-to-read Fraktur script. Anyway, I found this: "malicious joy (at another's misfortune)".
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/20/05 11:33:39 EST

Ron, there is an ABANA chapter in Indiana that hosts a regular hammer-in in North Central IN (Tipton IN IIRC) in early June. Your best bet of finding local sources is to go to some of their meetings and ask the "locals". BTW the Indiana Blacksmithing Association has a link off the ABANA chapter link found under "navigate anvilfire" menu in the upper right of this page.

You will note that there are *very* *few* places that sell smithing tools as dealers and a lot more that may have some equipment now and then.

If you want "new" stuff you should check out the advertisers on this site a goodly number of the dealers will be found here!

May I also point out that new stuff can be quite expensive...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/20/05 12:03:59 EST

I just finished answering a question from a "newby" that came by email and, after re-reading my answer, decided that some of it was worth posting for all to see:

If you will read *all* the material available on Anvilfire, (a not insignificant task as there is so much), you will find the answers to most of your questions. Anvilfire has been around a number of years and most of the “newby” questions have been asked a hundred times already. Enough times anyway, that Anvilfire has FAQ’s that answer many of them. Check out the 21st Century page for lots of good information.

One very important thing to keep in mind is that the internet propagates information very rapidly, but it does so without review. That is, not all the information that you get from the internet is correct or even close to it. At Anvilfire, we try to post only verified facts, not suppositions or superstitions. We do this because there are so many, like you, who are new to the field and haven’t yet amassed the background knowledge to filter the errata from the facts. I always recommend that anyone starting out at blacksmithing begin by collecting books on the subject. Without knowledge, all the tools in the world will be useless to you. Books abound with knowledge and should be considered as tools of primary importance. The Book Review page on Anvilfire has several books with a bit about each one. Most books can be found through Inter-Library Loan (ILL) at your local public library or purchased online through any of several sellers such as AbeBooks.com, Amazon, and others. Knowledge is always the best investment; better even than tools, for without knowledge to use them, tools are nothing but playthings or blunt instruments.

Once you have read a book or two on a subject, you will find it far easier to formulate insightful questions that will engender similarly insightful answers from others. The more we learn, the more we *can* learn. This holds true even if the books you read were not the best ones written; you’ll still be better equipped to ask the thought-provoking questions that spark inspiration in others.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/20/05 12:12:24 EST

Ellen, a good sized flypress and a propane forge sized to heat the entire rasp should U a rasp in 1 heat with a bit of speed on it's use. My large press would do it in one "blow" I believe if I could get the appropriate tooling built---I think I have sourced a person to make me a tool holder for the top ram.

Have you checked the used market? Talk to the used machinery dealers? You may find a large press for a very competitive price. If you were in the NW I would say you *would* find one...but out here we're old industry poor...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/20/05 12:27:20 EST


Why, I resemble that remark, sirrah! We all know that if you don't tap the anvil three times to bind the Devil when you close up shop for the day (especially Saturday, since you shouldn't work Sunday) that you'll have nought but bad luck upon your next work day.

Facts are not for daring folks like us; shoot in the dark, go off half cocked, take a chance; maybe you'll discover something new! (New bandaging techniques, new ways to apply direct pressure, new ways to mess-up the project...)

Where's your sense of adventure?

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 12/20/05 16:12:28 EST

Where can I get some specialty steel (not just scrap steel)?

   Hillbillysmith - Tuesday, 12/20/05 17:10:19 EST

Hillbilly, what are you after?
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 12/20/05 17:14:21 EST


If you want to get info on swords, go to www.dfoggknives.com he can tell you anything you want to know.

   Hillbillysmith - Tuesday, 12/20/05 17:32:21 EST

Alan, I'd like to get "specialty" steel, you know, L6, L7, O2,W2, etc. Pick my steel for "specific" jobs

   Hillbillysmith - Tuesday, 12/20/05 17:35:36 EST

Miles Undercut
Once a long time ago, I worked on a military weapons system that used VERY high powered IR. As a by product it also generated quite a bit of UV. The troops were supposed to do a test of the system before taking it into the field, with a quick glance at the source to see if the lamps worked. Now in bright light, IR and UV are not like a spot lamp, so the tankers were know to cup their hands around their eyes and tare into the source. Instant welders eye! Also the exposure increased the chance for cataracts later in life. Now it is somewhat tuff to explain this to a 70's era tanker, so one of the tech's in my unit got an idea. He and a buddy waited till a tanker could overhear, and laughed about all the dumb tankers looking so hard into the source when if they only knew it would make the impotent! Next day, there was not a tanker in Germany that would even glance into the thing. So Adam has it wrong, it ain't the magazines that make you go blind! Its the UV that makes you...
   ptree - Tuesday, 12/20/05 17:46:27 EST

I am trying to locate some where in the USA that I may be able to purchase a sawyer's anvil. Not having much luck. Too much stuff comes up on Google. We are a sawmill looking into hammering our own sawblades. Please e-mail me if you can help me with any info.

   Jennifer Thurman - Tuesday, 12/20/05 18:00:37 EST

Hillbilly, I've bought a few things from onlinemetals.com (see the anvilfire store) they have some specialty stuf, but I'm not sure if they have exactly what you want.

   FredlyFX - Tuesday, 12/20/05 18:23:20 EST

ptree-- many thanks. But... whatever the physics, all's I am saying is why take a chance? Put on the damned green goggles!
3dogs-- want to see a real beauty of a heliochronometer? Dig this outfit's product line: http://atensundials.com/aten2.html I get no commission. I just came across it and figure their designers have made a compact with supernatural forces.
adam-- black body? You dog you, do you mean like Whitney Houston? Etta James? Billie Holiday? Lena Horne? Queen Latifah? Oprah? Pam Grier? Tina Turner? Hmmm?
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 12/20/05 19:50:04 EST

Hello, I have a very old anvil, I aquired it in when i was in my teens. I got it due to an interest at the time in taking up blacksmithing, but have since lost interest. I have done some research and discovered through the very faded markings that this is a Hay Buden Manufacturing brand anvil. The weight markings are 128 which if I understand correctly mean it is 174 pounds. As the anvil had to be made prior to the 1920's as the company went out of buisness around then, I know it is an antique. My question is what would be the best way to sell this item. I have considerd ebay, and people do sell them for various ammounts but am not sure that it is the best place to market such an item, to not only get a fair price to me but to get an audiance that is actualy interested in this piece of history. Any help you could give i would apreciate.
   - Robert Gale - Tuesday, 12/20/05 20:49:16 EST

Hello, I have a very old anvil, I aquired it in when i was in my teens. I got it due to an interest at the time in taking up blacksmithing, but have since lost interest. I have done some research and discovered through the very faded markings that this is a Hay Buden Manufacturing brand anvil. The weight markings are 128 which if I understand correctly mean it is 174 pounds. As the anvil had to be made prior to the 1920's as the company went out of buisness around then, I know it is an antique. My question is what would be the best way to sell this item. I have considerd ebay, and people do sell them for various ammounts but am not sure that it is the best place to market such an item, to not only get a fair price to me but to get an audiance that is actualy interested in this piece of history. Any help you could give i would apreciate.
   - Robert Gale - Tuesday, 12/20/05 20:53:42 EST

Ellen, It is easy to make incised lines and to do bending on the flypress. It will also make it easy to punch those tongs you will make someday. It won't replace a power hammer but it will do lots of work. You'll find that it is not a good drawing tool but it is great for forming. If you have enough height you can even slip your guillotine tool under the ram (with a flatter inserted- you should never hit anything with the bottom of the ram itself) and use the wheel's energy rather than a hammer for some operations. Buy the biggest one you can afford if you purchase one. Not only will it make more force available it will have more room for tooling and fixturing.
   SGensh - Tuesday, 12/20/05 21:25:18 EST

Actually, it's not an antique. I guess you could call it an antique because it is quite old but an anvil is considered to be an antique only if it is about 200 years old or more.
   Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 12/20/05 21:28:12 EST

Hay-Buddens were not marked using the English stoneweight system, they are marked with the actual pounds.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/20/05 21:31:27 EST

Hi Guru,
I have recently purchased a spring hammer Cast on the side are the words Albert Lea. I belive it may be of American manufacture. Could you provide me with any info on this hammer ie history etc

Regards Ray
   Ray Gard - Tuesday, 12/20/05 22:08:19 EST

I'm doing more and more work and the hack saw is getting to be a pain. Thinking about getting a band saw is a 9", 1/3hp, 120v, 3000sfpm saw powerful enough for stock as big 3/8" x 2 5/8" which is the biggest I deal with? That's mild steel by the way. Thanks everybody!
   Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 12/20/05 23:43:31 EST

Jennifer Thurman: Sawmaker's anvils appear on a somewhat regular basis on eBay. Sawmaker's hammers, AKA dogleg or dog head hammers, do as well. I believe there are three on there now identified as Japanese sword hammers. Look under the category for Collectibles/Tools, Hardware & Locks/Tools/Blacksmithing. You might also try at a blacksmithing conference in your area, but I don't remember seeing very many over the years at Quad-State and that is the largest of the lot. You may be able to do just as well by finding a large chunk of iron, such as 4" x 12" x 12". According to Anvils in America these ranged in weight from 60-1,600 pounds.

Robert Gate: Actually Hay-Budden stopped making anvils in 1925. Since anvils were only a small part of their business they may have been in operation longer than that. Full logo would read HAY-BUDDEN over MANUFACTURING CO over BROOKLYN, NY. Below that should be the weight in actual pounds. There should be two sets of numbers on the front foot, a long one, which is the serial number and can be correlated to a year of manufacture, and another one, usually three digits. Even Richard Postman, author of Anvils in America, doesn't know what those number represent as they are seldom near the actual weight. Just put it on a bathroom scale. E-mail me (just click on name) with the serial number and I will give you year. The top portion of your anvil will be wrought iron. The base may be WI or some type of mild steel. Steel plate on top.

While on anvils, I asked Mr. Postman why some Trentons serial numbers start with an A. He replied, "The last owner (of CF&I) told me the "A" meant a 2nd. But I do not believe it, because there are just too many of the early Trenton with the "A". I believe it just stands for "ANVIL" number so and so or it may be the initial of the maker, such as Anderson, who was an anvil maker at CF&I. None of those made after about 1920 have the "A". So your guess is as good as mine, but it does not have anything to do with dating." WAG on my part is CF&I subcontracted some anvil production to another company (perhaps CA&F [Arm & Hammer]) and that is how they differiented them.

Ray Gard: Albert Lea (MN) is the location of Enders Tool Co. and Original Enders (may be separate companies) which made farrier tools. However, there may have been other tool companies in Albert Lea.

Tyler Murch: 3/8" x 2 5/8" mild steel will cut very easily on a typical workshop bandsaw with a 1/2" x 64 1/2" blade. Northern Tools has them for either $199 (straight cut only) and $349 (swivel and vertical option). I have the latter and have done a bunch of cutting with it over the past year. Similar bandsaws are also sold by others, such as Harbor Freight and Grizzly. You can also do a lot of cutting with a handheld reciprocating saw.

Apparently a common problem with the NT swivel one is the top guides have too much play, which can allow the blade to slip off it and run on the side. You can remedy this by taking both guide mechanisms apart and placing thin washers on either side of the top guides.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 12/21/05 02:42:25 EST

Tyler: 3000 sfpm is way too fast for metal cutting. Those are wood cutting saws. You need a saw that gives from about 80 to 200 sfpm. The saw Ken is talking about fits in this catagory, they have a vise for cuttoff sawing, and can be stood all the way up for hand guided work, however the 1/2" blade is limited in its ability to contour saw, 2 1/2 " radius is as tight as the chart says a 1/2" blade will cut, and it won't do that easily. The other choice is an abrasive chop saw, less versatile, more portable, will cut hard or tough materials, useless for contouring, about the same price.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 12/21/05 03:06:30 EST

Hi. Miles' message about opthamologists and green goggles reminded me of some advice I just received. I go in for eye exams every year, due to a couple of anomalous results I had a couple of years ago. Everything seems to be OK, but it gives me a chance to check on the health of my eyes. Fortunately, corneas, retnias and maculas look good.

So, I asked the Dr. about looking at hot fires. He confirmed advice I received on this forum. Wear shaded glasses, similar to those sold by Anvilfire. Shade 3's are fine. Don't rely on standard clear safety glasses with UV blocking lenses. These lenses will give some protection against UV, and I have had good luck wearing them in welding workshops when the chance of getting "flashed" is high. The flashes are annoying, but you don't get that "sand in the eyes" feeling. He said that the risk from forge fires is different. It is IR, not UV. It causes swelling of the outer layer above the cornea, and although the damage is temporary, repeated incidents can be damaging. He said that you will feel it if you make a mistake, and you can come in to the office for some emergency eye drops to ease the swelling. Even better, get the shades, or stop looking at the hot fire. But, I got one of my best forge welds learning from an instructor at the recent CBA event, who taught the students to stare at the weld area through the coals until the edge fades into a lemony blur. So, sometimes it helps to stare.
   EricC - Wednesday, 12/21/05 03:34:54 EST

Dave: Yep, I forgot to include the chop saw option. I have one as well (Dewalt). Prefer not to use it unless the bandsaw won't do the job, such as on stainless. Puts out mega sparks, although I do keep a 5-gallon metal bucket positioned to catch almost all of them. Also cut edge needs to be dressed up.

I predominately use the bandsaw in the hortizonal position. Few times I need it upright (vertical) I find just using it an a slight angle (raised) works just as well for me as making the adjustment to stand it 90 degrees upright. Works great for making wedge slots in hammer handles. I don't do radius cuts.

As I noted on a previous thread, I dislike using my radial arm saw as it just flat out can take off a hand very easily. Bandsaw works just as well for cutting say 2x4s at the correct angle. Mine is advertised as cutting up to a 4" x 6" block, but I think that is a gross overrating. Probably 1" x 3" mild is as much as I think it could reasonably handle without the blade going off at an angle.

On my sawmaker's anvil comments above, when I say regularly on eBay, I meant every so often. Perhaps several times a year. Also the three hammers currently on eBay are identified as Dog Head Hammers.

By the way, for new folks, if you live within a state or two of West-central TN mark your 2006 calendar for the weekend of April 21-22 for the CSI-Anvilfire.com Hammer-in at my farm near Waverly. BigBlu be the featured demonstrator with hands-on availability to test drive. Richard Postman plans to be here to answer your anvil questions. I'm less than one mile from the World of Tools Museum, probably the U.S.'s largest private collection of metal working hand tools and a group tour is a definite possibility. For those considering a small propane forge, if there is interest, I can make one of my freon tank forges from scratch to finish as a demonstration. Will set out my coal forge and anvil under a shade tree for open demonstrations. If a demonstrator needs tooling, between my shop and BigBlu we can probally make them. TAILGATE TOOL SELLERS EXTREMELY WELCOME!!! Likely there won't be a registration fee with raising funds* for anvilfire.com being an auction or iron-in-the-hat drawing instead, perhaps with a minimum ticket purchase amount. This is the first of what may become an annual event. As such, don't expect something like a Quad-State or other established conference.

*I am providing the farm location at no cost. First year I am going with a makeshift outhouse/shower. Will try to get event insurance. Beyond that, net proceeds go to the anvilfire.com general operating fund.

While the event itself will be Saturday & Sunday, folks are welcome to come early and stay late, although those coming early may be put to work as a set-up crew. Only real tourist attraction in the local area is Loretta Lynn's Dude Ranch. While there are several motels in general area, the ranch's campgrounds should also be open then. At my farm itself, camping will be very primitive. Farm pond for fishing and I have some BIG catfish in it I wish someone would haul out of it for me.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 12/21/05 05:36:25 EST

My chop saw blade glazes and won't cut. The saw lugs down and pops the cicuit breaker. I need to cut some 3/4 by 3 and it won't handle it. Help! Thanks.
   charlie k - Wednesday, 12/21/05 05:37:27 EST

I am kinda curious about a process of making a netal object smell like roses. This administrator at my tech school sells these hand formed metal roses (not sur if they are steel, iron, etc.). Everyone I ask either doesn't know or can't give me a straight answer (doesn't know what won't say so). I came across your site and figured if anyone knew, you pros would. I am in no way a blacksmith or an aspiring one, just don't have the patients or the dedication for it, sorry. I would appriciate any info you all might. Just kinda curious.
   Patrick - Wednesday, 12/21/05 07:43:22 EST


The standard trick to making a metal rose smell like a rose is to tuck a tiny piece of cotton down in the center of it and douse it with rosewater perfume.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/21/05 08:17:41 EST

Charlie K,

Are you using good quality abrasive blades rated for the type of stock you're cutting? I like Sait blades, myself. You want one rated for an aggressive cut to avoid loading and glazing. Also, you need to develop a feel for how much pressure to apply to keep it cutting and transmitting the heat to the stock, not the blade.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/21/05 08:19:38 EST

Charlie, Get a good blade from your local welding supplier. Be patient and don't put so much pressure on it. What kind of blades are you using?
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 12/21/05 08:35:40 EST

Specialty Steels: Through our store you will find our affiliate On-Line Metals. We recieve 10% of the sales (when you go through our link) and every little bit helps keep us going. . .

Pub registrations: We may be behind a day or two but it is far better and the many months we used to be behind. The pubmaster will get to you in short time. Its the Christmas Season and she has lots of things to do!
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/21/05 09:29:44 EST

Bogged Down Wheels: Glazing is generally from cutting the wrong metals or too soft a metal with a given wheel. It also happens from going too slow. Any hand fed tool requires the right touch for the best performance.

The general rule for grinding is the harder the substance the softer the wheel. This is so that dulled grit comes off rather than building up swarf (glazing). Hard and soft is NOT the abrasive itself but the bonding of the abrasive.

Also note that the fastest cutting wheels wear out the fastest. Long lasting wheels cut very slowly. Unless you are in a very impoverised country you want the fast cutting wheels because your time is worth a lot more than the wheels. Don't expect machines from third world countries to have fast cutting OR high quality wheels.

Also note that machinery built in China is designed and tested using 50Hz power. This means that in the US they run 20% faster and things do not perform the same.

You can also a diamond or a star dressing wheel to remove glazing and start over again.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/21/05 09:40:55 EST

Roses: See our iForge demo number 13.
Then number 32 on making a lilly
Number 53 on pipe flowers and
Number 72 on Fesia Flowers. . .
And the Russian Rose #146.
Many folks start with a kit of precut blanks and others start from scratch. They can be hot forged from heavy plate or cold worked from thin sheet steel OR non ferrous metal (coper, brass, sliver, gold. .)
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/21/05 09:46:29 EST

Staring into hot fires for forge welding: Filter glasses like our #2 Bouton safety glasses actually make it EASIER to see what is goin on in the fire AND protect your eyes. The #2's are also light enough for general shop use if you have a well lit shop and I was also told they make the best Harley-Davison riding glasses on the market. . .

Style like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

   - guru - Wednesday, 12/21/05 10:08:26 EST

Okay, I've just finished making my first layered billet. I checked the "good" steel, it is called "high speed steel", flexes to a certian point, then breaks. Will shatter if hit cold. I'm using strapping steel for the "bad iron", I'm assuming it's a low carbon steel... strapping bends before it breaks. I layered the materials with the fabric knives side by side (they're 3/4" wide x 6") and the strapping in between in threes (they're 1/2" wide). There was a dozen layers of each metal, making 24 layers. I tacked around the sides, cut and stacked, tacked. Now I have a billet measuring 3" x 1-1/2" at 1/2" thick. I welded a 18" rod to the piece and now it looks like a big metal lollipop. I have some really old resources (books) and they say to use a flux made "from potters clay, wet with strong brine, then dried and powdered". WHat should my next step be?

All the thanks in the world,
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 12/21/05 10:47:22 EST

Well I hope so!! I just ordered the 3 pack special. I HAVE been noticing that looking into the fire has begun to hurt a little more plus making it really hard to see the work when placed on the anvil as all I see is a white glowing glob like u get from looking at the sun. But it's sooo hard not to look at, pretty pretty burning coal. Oh well, now I won't be able to blame smithing when I go blind later in life ;)
   Brett - Wednesday, 12/21/05 11:02:59 EST

By the way, this one's for you guys....

[b]Is this the proper way of using a bench grinder?[/b]

   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 12/21/05 11:21:43 EST


With the HSS in that billet, you really want a flux made up of anhydrous borax with 10% fluorite. You can get the fluorite flux from a pottery supply, it is used in glazing pots. Without it, that HSS has alloying ingredients that may not weld.

When working with fluorite flux, use caution about inhaling the vapors or fumes. That's a good idea with the borax, as well. Work with good ventilation like a fan blowing from behind you across the work and away.

Heat the billet to a black heat and apply flux to the edges. Brign up to a red heat and flux again, then bring the heat up to welding heat and let soak for about five minutes. Take from forge to anvil, hold it just a fraction of an inch above the anvil and then hit it a medium light blow in the center. Succesive blows working from the center to the ends. Stop when the heat drops below welding temp...you might get four or five quick blows in. Re-heat and re-weld as necessary to get it all consolidated.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/21/05 11:23:11 EST

Note as well that many HSS like to cottage cheese on you if you work them at high heats.

Robert Gale: if you wish you could post your anvil forsale on the hammerin forum. You will need to include details like make, weight and *condition* and the location---especially important as shipping anvils can be expensive...Most of us anvil users don't really care about the specific date save as a curiosity on an anvil as young as the HB brand.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/21/05 11:56:41 EST

Re flypresses:

I own 5 (or is it 6?) presses between size 2 and 10. I also have a couple of bar presses which are relatively rare, see link below.


Fly presses are great for repetative work, my link above shows the fullering tool I made for making hammer heads. I find that a size 6 is about the smallest press I use.
   Bob G - Wednesday, 12/21/05 12:42:24 EST

TG Nippulini,

I think your shoes are really keen.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/21/05 14:12:57 EST

Thomas, thanks for letting me know a good press will easily "U" a hoof rasp. Good information.

Stephen: thanks for your input as well, most helpful.

BobG: Thank you, also for the link to your flypress fullering a hammer. What a nice job it does!

From all of the above information sounds like I should look for a #6 press, first used locally, then see cost + shipping new. At Pieh I can pick it up, and unloading it at home is a snap with my tractor, bucket and 3/8" chain rated for lifting.....

Much appreciated!
   Ellen - Wednesday, 12/21/05 14:44:14 EST

Charlie, the other thing is to cut it on the 3/4" side, not on the 3". And, like other before, I have noticed a big difference in the success of my cuts after I threw out the harbor freght blades and bought some real blades.
   FredlyFX - Wednesday, 12/21/05 14:59:25 EST

Dave, Guru: I'll try a better word picture. The tank was definately warmer, on the south side of my shop. The line is shaded. My controls are 3 valves and 1 regulator. One valve on the tank pigtail, one valve on the pigtail at the forge station, a regulator at the forge and then a valve on each burner (2). I had cut off the burner valve only, leaving the rest of the manifold (with regulator) open to tank pressure. To avoid this problem I am going to shut all valves and bleed the short section between the forge pigtail and the burner. Agree? also: Renewed my CSI membership (very late). Thank you Jock Dempsey and have a Merry Christmas!
   Tone - Wednesday, 12/21/05 16:21:39 EST


"...flux made up of anhydrous borax with 10% fluorite...". Is this by weight or volume?
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 12/21/05 16:51:51 EST

RE bandsaws glazing, i do stanless steel at work and its terrible for glazing if you drill or cut to fast, let it get too hot or you apply so little wieght that it doesnt take any metal off, you need as slow a speed as your patience can stand, give it some weight and make it cut and keep it cool, a windscreen or windshield washer pump is plenty big enough or even keep getting oil onto the cut through an oil can. the best and quickest way to glaze and take the point off every tooth with one pass is to try and cut metal that has been forged or gas cut. The rose no.13 on iforge is bril, done one for my wife for Christmas it looks really effective.I so in love this site, (slightly concerned that men complment each other on their shoes though? is this an American thing?)cheers.
   geoff - Wednesday, 12/21/05 17:24:48 EST

Forgot to ask, I'm gona make a treadle hammer, has anyone done one or is there info somewhere obvious where i should have looked already? also, has anyone any thoughts on how to make hammer tools? pref of a foolproof or idiot proof design that wont come off and get me,(either wholey or in fragments)
   geoff - Wednesday, 12/21/05 17:35:23 EST

Thanks Ken, I was gonna ask that actually...

Frank, thanks, they're called "New Rocks" and help out the vertically challenged like myself.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 12/21/05 18:04:29 EST

If you decide to obtain a small metal cutting bandsaw, say at HF or a Jet or NT, only take one with the adjustable roller guides. The slightly cheaper ones have a stamped part to carry the band roller guides and are not adjustable. This make for a very inaccurate saw. It also makes for a very unhappy smith.

Second, no matter the brand, buy the best blades only. The saw will cut faster, and straighter, and the blades if treated with respect last far longer. I like Lennox, but Simmonds is also very good and so is Starret.
I get my Lennox blades from Hagemeyer, by telephone order and they treat me very well. As alway, tell them you saw it on Anvilfire.
   ptree - Wednesday, 12/21/05 19:24:15 EST

Ken S,

"Is this by weight or volume? " Yes. (grin) It really shouldn't matter; they aren't that different in specific gravity, I don't think.

The Grand High Poobah suggests using a mixture of 10 parts anhydrous borax and 1/2 part sal ammoniac. He's done thousands of pounds of forge welded blades VERY successfully, so I might follow his advice.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/21/05 20:00:36 EST

TGN, say it ain't so! your getting out of showbiz?
(mind you that'll mean you'll have the brass to support your new ironbashing habit, and also CSI........ and as a fund raiser for us, forging with a suspended anvil and hammer...)
   JimG - Wednesday, 12/21/05 20:15:01 EST

I am 36 years old. most of my welding experence is just mig carbon steel. I do not know a lot about anything i have worked as a weilder since i was 19. Recentaly i have a job tig stainless steel. I think i made an error. lol . I tiged a carbon flange onto a carbon pipe using a stainless steel rod (316L) . This is on a low preasure vesel but with high tempeture i think the heat is about 1000 ^F . My boss was upset to say the least and i guess he is right is the stainless so strong or brittle that i will have cracks? Maybe like mending old cloth with new? I can accept that i have made a mistake. But like i said i do not know a lot about anything . So please comfirm that i did mess my britches? Thank you ! and Thank you for this site and what you guys do .. Please forgive me if i am missueing this form . Hope to get a reply soon and Thanks again.
   Mark - Wednesday, 12/21/05 21:04:54 EST

Stainless Weld

I'll throw out a thought for the Guru or one of the resident metalurgists to shoot down. Seems to me that the chromium in the stainless *could* combine with the carbon in the base metal to make an alloy steel that might harden on cooling. But I suspect the "carbon steel" base metal is probaly farily low carbon, so this might be unlikely to happen. If the weld did harden, but didn't crack right away, I'd think the 1000 degree service temp would temper it back pretty soft.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 12/21/05 21:24:13 EST

Thank you Mike i would be interested to hear any other comments.
   Mark - Wednesday, 12/21/05 21:30:56 EST

A number of weldors I know consider 309 SS rod to be an "all-purpose" filler when welding difficult or dissimilar carbon or tool steels. I don't know enough to say if this is good practice or not, just that they do it.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/21/05 21:39:03 EST

Re welding.

Every critical welding job will have a specified procedure. If this procedure is not followed to the letter then the weld will not be within specification.
   Bob G - Wednesday, 12/21/05 22:06:18 EST

The japanese swordsmith has a unique hammer the he uses. does it have a specific name or type and were can I get one?

   Blu - Wednesday, 12/21/05 22:39:34 EST

Tone: It is important to shut off the tank valve, as that is where the most propane is contained. If You shut off the tank valve and let the forge run untill it uses the fuel in the lines then close it's valves You will be in good shape.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 12/21/05 23:32:41 EST

Chop Saw Wheels: The hard bonded ones are good for cutting thin stock sections, like steel studs, garage door track EMT [thinwall] conduit etc. For pipe, angle, structural shapes the fast cutting wheels work MUCH better. Sections over 1" are really pushing a portable chop saw, keep in mind that an industrial unit would likely have a 36" wheel and 15 HP or more. A portable 15 amp saw makes about 1 1/2 HP regardless of what the maker advertises.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 12/21/05 23:53:18 EST

Additional comments on the SS welding rod vicopper mentions above.

I have used many times and seen the repair done on a large trenton anvil with this ss rod. I have never seen a repair on an anvil this perfect. It does not even ding. You do see the color difference. The repaired area is several inches long and in a sqiggly pattern. Like someone ran a torch cut all over. The anvil rings like a bell and the face does not ding at all. It is as hard as a rock. I am no expert like vicopper mentions also. I have never welded with it. My friend owns the anvil in his smitty shop. He owns about 15 other anvils. He uses the repaired one for everything and loves it.
   burntforge - Thursday, 12/22/05 00:21:48 EST

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