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

This is an archive of posts from December 28 - 31, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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I search, what is Kasenit chemical composition (but exactly, I want make it yuorself)) or other good, fast-working case hardening compounds?
Best regards, Pawel.
   Pawel - Wednesday, 12/28/05 07:05:31 EST

Kasenit: Pawel, The old version of this product was cynaide salts and the processes was known as cyaniding or cyanide surface hardening. This is the same substance used in US gas chambers for executions. Any contact with any acid liberates cyanide gas. For this reason they has stopped making it and replaced the salt with another (unknown) but probably nearly as toxic.

The "fast working" feature of kasenit is mostly hype. To get their results you must overheat and the times are much longer than stated. Yes you get an instantly hard surface but only a few molecules thick. To get any appreciable thickness takes hours in a temperature controled environment, not a few seconds using a torch. See our Case Hardening FAQ for more information.

References like Machinery's Handbook have various methods of surface hardening (pick your own poision). There are a variety of modern methods that range from cracked ammonia atmospheres (carbon nitriding) to consumable graphite/carbon boxes. All produce similar results, a hard wear resistant surface. If you need nore than that then you need to use a suitable steel instead.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/28/05 09:34:18 EST

Thomas and Vicopper, thank you both so very much for the truth about folded steel. You don't know how many times I have extended arguments with people (like my dad) who will veheminently insist that damascus and/or samurai swords are folded, and that folding is a method of producing a superior edge. And meanwhile not ONE of the people who I argue this point over with have ever touched a hammer to metal on an anvil. Your definite answers will be engraved on a plaque that I will hang over my dad's desk (dad's just can't ever admit to being wrong, nor do ex-wives).

Here's a question that I'm sure will spark some debate. Does an anvil height HAVE to be at the bottom of one's knuckles while standing? The face of my anvil is mounted about mid abdomen on me, and I notice in most of my books and other material that smiths are hunched over these anvils mounted a mere foot off the ground. Does rasing the height of the anvil lessen the strain on the back? Does it descrease the efficiency of blows? I do relatively small work (less than 3/4" thick in most cases).

   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 12/28/05 10:20:44 EST

Tempil sticks are available in 50deg F steps up to 2400F or thereabouts. Last time I looked they were about $10 ea at mcmastercarr.com. Welding shops carry a few but only temps below 900F it seems. I find it handy to have a few at important smithing temps - say 1450, 1800 & 2000 just to get one's eye dialed in to the colors.
   adam - Wednesday, 12/28/05 10:49:28 EST

Ken, You can buy Temperature Indicating Crayons at most welding supply houses. They run about $10 each and are designed to melt at one specific temperature. They are actually quite accurate (1% of indicated range) and I have used them to calibrate optical pyrometers in a pinch. By the time you purchase a range that covers forging and heat treating, you can have a lot of money tied up.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 12/28/05 10:52:44 EST

I would like some advice in identifying this anvil, I think it is a Peter Wright because it looks very similar to my other PW's but after some research I think it might be a Hay Budden? anyways here are the specs. It is a English pattern style and weight markings are 5-2-23 (639#), it measures 43" overall with a table 28" long by 6 3/4" wide, the height stands at 17 and 1/4". It has a 1 and 3/4" hardie, the only writing other than the weight visible is the letter H stamped in front feet of the anvil which leads me to believe it might be a HB. I am trying to find out info on it's history, age, value etc. Thanks in advance. Plato
   plato - Wednesday, 12/28/05 10:59:31 EST

TGN knuckle height is a good starting point. Generally for heavy forging you want the anvil lower than that (mine is 1" below) and for light work you want the work higher. Higher is definitely easier on the back when doing small work. You should avoid a hunched over posture - you cant relax and your limbs cant move freely. If you use glasses make sure your prescription lets you focus properly on the work. Mainly you have to find what suits you.

Opinions. People can hold vehement opinions on things they know nothing about. Its absurd but its human nature. Dads are definitely the worst offenders. My Dad was an expert on everything and I cant recall him ever conceding a point. :) I did a lot of the same with my kids.
   adam - Wednesday, 12/28/05 11:04:59 EST

anvils: some of the ppl here know a lot about this. In the meantime I have a couple of HBs and one PW. Compared to the PWs the HBs have a slender waist and graceful look while the PWs tend to look more blocky (blocky is better but not as pretty). Weight markings on the HBs were in lbs while the PWs used the cwt system. Also, almost every HB's almost always have a characteristic inspector's stamp which is a single digit 0 - 9 about 5/8" sq and deeply impressed just above the front of the left foot (left as you face the anvil horn) Many HBs are unmarked but for this stamp. I have a 350# unmarked HB and a 120# marked HB and they both have this stamp - same size same position.

To my uneducated ear, it sounds like you have a very large PW and if its in any kind of useable condition, this is an exceptional tool - congrats!
   adam - Wednesday, 12/28/05 11:21:24 EST

Anvil Height: TGN, This is an average height for general work. Note "average and general".

In the past when lots of work was done with sledges it was better to have the anvil a little low (that average height minus the extra hammer and work thickness). For small work many smiths prefer an anvil a little higher. The knuckle height has been a rule of thumb for a very long time and most will tell you it is the most ergonomic. Where it gets in trouble is when different people work at the same anvil.

The hunched over posture is just plain bad posture and bad work habits. If you look you will observe these folks using a driving blow, pushing the hammer into the work. When you stand upright you are forced to swing the hammer and have more powerful blows with less effort. However, it requires better control. Oddly you will work more hunched over a high anvil than a low and work with your elbow too far to the side.

On the "folding" issue in bladesmithing, the metal is actualy cut and restacked, not "folded". Where the metal is cut it is sometimes left hanging by a thin hinge of metal to make it easier to hold the stack together. This very small amount is the only part that is "folded". The reason the steel is cut and restacked is that where the fold would occur at the ends you get a large lump of vertical grain structure. This is not good in wrought iron OR laminated steels. So folding produces large waste ends that would need to be cut off and discarded. Thus the proper term is stacked.

There ARE times when steel is folded such as making a thick section from thin. But this is not the case in blade making and would be bad technique.

There are some folks on the Internet that sell with a lot of hype "special" blade steel that has absorbed their "energy" from the constant working under the hammer . . If you believe that then I am sure you KNOW that stump water cures warts and that fruit stored under a plexiglass pyramid will not rot. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/28/05 11:37:21 EST

Fer all the fire and brimstone , I'm back ( less a vein er two from my legs and trans my arm.)
But to the point...

An military " armor division" person has asked me to make a laminate steel "K-Bar" . IE soft and durable on the out side and hard and " smart " on the inside. In other words a very good feild knife of sorts. Any advise??

I allready have his( USMC ) regs on what size and weight. I'm really looking for the type's of mat.( I normally don't make blades. I lean twards the artsy fartsy , restoration side)
Much thanks to the Gurus
   - Timex - Wednesday, 12/28/05 12:03:54 EST

Difference between Hay-Buddens and Peter Wrights: To the uninitiated all anvils look just alike just as all people of different ethnic groups often look just alike to the unobservant or untrained eye.

Peter Wrights have a small flat on the top of the foot at the front and rear of the anvil. This is a clamping down shelf. Hay-Buddens did not have this feature but a few others copied it.

Late Hay-Budden horns, particularly on larger anvils and narrow waisted farriers patterns extend nearly perpendicular from the body until past the foot where they slope upward. Most other anvil horns slope gracefully upward immediately from the body.

Peter Wrights when new often had a crowned face. This was to help avoid the sagging that came later from the fine grade of wrought iron they used for the body. Hay-Buddens were flat and the late all steel upper bodies never sagged.

On very heavy anvils of both brands the bodies become thicker because that is where a heavy anvil needs the mass. So heavy anvils look much heavier in the waist than lighter anvils of the same brand.

When there are no serial numbers the approximate age can only be determined by subtle differences in the shape of the foot, thickness of the heel, proportions . . Sometimes a maker can be ID'd but among the English makers workers often changed places of employment and the style of anvil they were used to making often went with them. This makes unmarked English anvils hard to identify. There are traits that Mousehole and PeterWright had that were distinguishing BUT they are features often found on other brands. So. . a photo will help but a positive ID is often impossible on an unmarked anvil.

   - guru - Wednesday, 12/28/05 12:06:08 EST

Thanks Adam, One thing to add is that the second marking on the weight looks like a 2 but I thought the quarter weights are roman numerials so it could be a 1, so the wieght might be 5-1-23(611#) anyways the anvil is in excellent shape with only a few nicks, looks like cutting torch marks, what a shame. Thanks again, Plato
   Plato - Wednesday, 12/28/05 12:10:08 EST

TGN and anvil height:

Its height depends on the style and type of smithing that you are going to do. My sefu sitts on the ground and rises for every hard hit. His anvil is adjusted for this. I kneel and rock up, forward and down for all hits light and heavy. I also know a fer Euro style that stand at al times.
Just make shure that your arm is not fully extended and that have a "fisted grip" when griping the hammer at impact.
Many smiths tend to steer their grip with a thum or fore finger down the length of the handle or fully extend their arm upon impact. This can cause joint, bone and in my case vein problems.
Short and long of it ,, if it hurts slow down and adjust your tools.
   - Timex - Wednesday, 12/28/05 12:14:18 EST


BUT the real reasons for the " folded steel "( look up Woots steel) was the japonese did'nt have "good" steel so they , via' mix by folding' inriched and purified their steel. at the time and in their local it was the best thing running. Then you add the general zen , and upper class "voodo" and Bam ypu have a sword that can cut though six men, a school bus ,two tree and glows when a OIN ( demon) is around.
As before look up woots, and asain steels.. And by the way The nords were laminating steel ( small peices to make a larger peice) long ( 300 to 250 yrs ) before the Arabic smiths in Damascus started to.
pS True damascus steel has yet to be replicated, much concrete it has been lost to time
   - Timex - Wednesday, 12/28/05 12:27:25 EST

I noticed that Dixie Gun Works is selling knife sized Damascus blanks.
   - Hudson - Wednesday, 12/28/05 12:58:41 EST

re: "True Damascus Steel" There's been a lot of work done on Wootz steels, to understand it better, do a search on the key role of impurities in ancient damascus blades by J.D. Verhoeven, A.H. Pendray, and W.E. Dauksch. An artile published in the Journal of Metals of the TMS society. Also check out Don Fogg's bladesmith forum it has several ongoing discussions of Wootz/damascus/pattern-welding as they apply to the bladesmith's art.
   - Gavainh - Wednesday, 12/28/05 13:35:04 EST

Plate: If the weight marks are indeed 5 2 23, then it has to be an English anvil. As noted, traditional Peter Wrights have those flats on top of the front and back feet and would have a flat bottom. Trick you might try. Lay anvil on side with horn to right. Dust with flour and brush off, leaving flour in depressions. Sometimes stampings just right out. A little wirebrushing before hand helps. Richard Postman, author of Anvils in America, has told me he has now documented some 130 English anvil manufacturers - although not all may have made blacksmithing anvils, and very few were likely to be able to forge that large of an anvil.

On page 106 of AIA is an 1937 ad from McMaster-Carr which lists PW weights from 80 to what looks like 800 pounds. That one had a plate of 26" x 6 1/2", horn with step length of 16" and hardy hole of 1 1/2". 650-pound one had a plate of 25" x 6 1/4", 15 1/2" horn/step and 1 1/2" hardy. Your sizes seem larger than even these.

Although other forges exported anvils to the U.S. Mouse Hole, Peter Wright and Wilkinson (much less than others) probably account for a very high percentage of them.

If there are punch marks between the weight numbers, such as 5 . 2 . 23, then likely you have a Mouse Hole Forge anvil.

My observation is Peter Wright stampings were put in deep enough to where at least some of the logo would remain. My neighbor has a M-H on which only the two punch marks at the waist remain.

On value, well now you are getting into the 'mine is bigger than yours' club area. My WAG would be over $1,000 if sold at a blacksmithing conference or picked up locally.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 12/28/05 13:58:39 EST

The blockier PWs are probably a better design for general smithing but I am very fond of Hay Buddens because they are American and also because it was one of the first native brands to stand its ground against the British imports- a distant echo of 1776
   adam - Wednesday, 12/28/05 14:00:49 EST

Anvils, LOL ROF never thought of this one.

A younger App( 15yrs old) brought me a lift weight( elevator fer u yanks) and asked me if it eould be a "good anvil". Yep ! not only is the steel good but it allready has the general shape. Ie.. mass center, horn to and aft.
let the students teach and the teacher learns.
thought I'd share this one before closing fer the day
   - Timex - Wednesday, 12/28/05 14:33:33 EST

Does anyone have a recipe for "aging" tin? Looking for an aged look on newly punched tin. The older "tern plate" would take on a nice rich patina, but with the new stuff it is hard to achive the same look. Thanks.
   - Teslow - Wednesday, 12/28/05 15:40:40 EST

Tern plate was not "tin." It was lead plated steel. I don't thiink it was rated for food contact even long ago. Real tin plated steel will take on a similar patina. What is called "tin" today is actualy galvanized and has a very diffwerent aging charactaristic. There is some real tin plate still made, for food contact and baking pans.
   - John Odom - Wednesday, 12/28/05 19:45:41 EST

This question involves the contact of dissimilar metals. I fabricated a silicon bronze countertop. For support under the countertop is 3/4 plywood and a mild steel frame. Will the contact between the bronze and mild steel cause corrosion. This is an indoor application and the prescence of water is minimal. If yes, should I paint the steel frame?
   sarah - Wednesday, 12/28/05 20:19:42 EST

are elevator weights steel? I have one and assumed twas cast iron
   adam - Wednesday, 12/28/05 20:21:26 EST


Silicon bronze and steel probably won't experience any galvanic corrosion that will be noticeable in your lifetime, unless they're in the presence of salt water. But why not paint the steel anyway? It will look better and it won't rust that way. Bare mild steel will ultimately show surface rust, even in a dry climate.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/28/05 21:52:39 EST

Elevator Weights: Depending on the manufacturer these may be cast or cut from heavy plate. In modern manufacturing it is much more economical to use fabricated steel parts when the quantities are low rather than castings. Not too many years ago it was more efficient to make a quick and dirty pattern and have it cast if you needed and large lump of iron. Turn around in an ironworks where they cast every day would be one day. . . So much for progress.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/29/05 00:41:01 EST

Teslow: Don't know if it would be any different for you but www.vandykes.com sells zinc pie safe punching blanks (10" x 14"). Price in the last catalog I have is $4.95 per blank.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 12/29/05 00:57:56 EST

Counter Top: Other thoughts. If this is a kitchen or bath countertop then it will see considerable humidity. The other question is, Will the bronze be kept polished? In this case the polish which often contains weak acids will work its way into the joints and act as a corrosive media. This would depend on how the work is maintained. The wood will also hold moisture if it gets wet.

As Vicopper mentioned you should paint the steel. You have an infinite number of choices of colors and finishes, black is not the only color you can paint iron.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/29/05 09:35:16 EST

Copper: I picked up some end cuts of solid copper round bar about 1/2" in diameter at the scrap yard yesterday. Was thinking about playing around with them on the anvil and drawing them out and making some leaves. Is it best to work copper cold, hot, or would annealing help the workability?
   - Jim Warren - Thursday, 12/29/05 10:26:10 EST

Found some 1/2" copper round stock at the scrap yard yesterday. What is the best way to work this metal on an anvil? Cold, Hot, or could you anneal it? Thanks. JW
   Jim Warren - Thursday, 12/29/05 10:29:23 EST

Jim Warren, Yes, no, and maybe. If the copper is that thick, it's probably easiest to work it hot at a low cherry red and below. Two schools of thought on annealing. Heat to a low cherry and either water quench or air cool.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/29/05 10:41:59 EST

Jim Warren, As Frank says low cherry or such. The copper stays easily forgeable down to black and is a delight to play with. You may find it easier to use a turned down gas forge rather than coal since the copper will melt very easily in the fire if you are innatentive. Beware of hitting it when it's too hot- you could get splashed! You can guess how I know this (grin). Your copper will anneal as it cools but you will be work hardening it as you forge so don't keep hammering too long or you will develop cracks in your pieces.
   SGensh - Thursday, 12/29/05 11:54:27 EST

copper: should one take precautions against toxicity when forging copper?
   adam - Thursday, 12/29/05 13:09:11 EST

I've read that elevator counterweights are made of concrete filled metal containers. The costs are way low and pouring cement is easier in tight spots than casting iron. I may be wrong.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 12/29/05 13:15:06 EST


I've heard that forging beryllium copper is not good for one's health (fumes?). In addition, a serious lung disease can develop from breathing beryllium dust. Most beryllium copper is used for thermal conductivity or injection molding. I would be circumspect in forging any junkyard material.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/29/05 13:39:07 EST


I have a question on forging brass rod. I received a couple of pieces of 3/8" dia. brass rod for x-mas. I would like to make some leaf keyrings as starter projects with this to get the "feel" of the material. Should I forge this the same way as copper, working carefully at a low cherry and periodically annealling?
   Paul Bilodeau - Thursday, 12/29/05 13:59:46 EST

a few days ago someone asked why there has been no iforge demo entries for over2yrs? I havent seen any answer,but then I am only a man and men dont look properly( been married a long time)
   geoff - Thursday, 12/29/05 14:06:33 EST


There are many proportions of copper and zinc which go to make up brass alloys, whereas copper is an element. You will need to experiment, because the various proportions change the time and temperature transformation from one brass to another. Some brasses are subject to cracking at a red heat. If that occurs, I would try annealing by heating to a low red and cooling slowly. Then, hammer at room temperature.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/29/05 14:36:14 EST


Would it be a safer bet for me to work the piece cold and then try heating to a low red afterwards to relieve stresses? I have always heard that copper as well as other metals will work harden if hammered too long without relieving these stresses.
   Paul Bilodeau - Thursday, 12/29/05 16:02:27 EST

For geoff and others: Problem on the iforge demos is it takes Guru a great deal of time to work it into a submitable form. Right now he is overwhelmed, so additional iforges have been put on a back burner. The primary purpose of the Anvilfire/CSI Hammer-in at my farm at Waverly, TN next April 21-22 is to raise funds so he can have at least a part-time assitance to take care of routine matters, freeing up time for him for other such matters. You can help by becoming a CSI member. You can help by encouraging those selling blacksmithing-related products to become an anvilfire.com advertiser (and my sales a PBBTs pretty well doubled as soon as I did so). You can help by attending the Hammer-in. Likely there won't be a registration fee, per se, but rather each participant encouraged to donate one or more items with either an auction or iron-in-the-hat with each participant encouraged to purchase a minimum number of tickets.

On the Hammer-in, I heard back from the supplier to Quad-State and it is too far for them. I found a source in Louisville, but it would be $12 50-pound bag plus delivery. Can be picked up loose for half that price, but then I would have to have a bagging party. My cost to send a local truck up to pick it up would bring price to about $9 for 50-pounds. Doesn't appear to be an easy answer to this one.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 12/29/05 16:37:04 EST

I have about three iForge demos in development, but two are in the experimental stages (which may take up to a year, or more) and the third needs me to do a lot of sketching.

Lots of "round tuits" in my life, but right now I'm too tied-up to do it right.

The iForge still serves as a very valuable resource, and I'm constantly referrring folks to specific demonstrations from other bulletin boards.

Cloudy and mild on the banks of the Potomac. If I'm off-net 'till then, everybody have a happy New Year!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/29/05 16:52:58 EST


Anneal first, then hammer. Annealing doesn't just relieve stresses; it makes the metal softer and more ductile under the hammer. It is tricky to know when to anneal again. Sometimes you can even hear it, especially on sheet. The metal gets higher in pitch. If you're sensitive, you can feel it in the hammering. Another way, do a test piece, hammer on it until it cracks. Time yourself. In any event, it is anneal, hammer, anneal, hammer, in that order.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/29/05 17:59:38 EST

I Build western jewelry, belt buckles bracelets and stuff.
I use steel (but just plate not forged) copper brass german silver and sterling.
Kind of self taught through books and videos.

I have a blacksmith friend that wants me to silver solder some forged mild steel leaves onto forged steel conchos. Having a heck of a time. It doesn't seem like my flux is working right.Most of the time the solder just balls up on the part. Maybe due to impurities in the forged steel.

Any help woud be appreciated
Thanks Garth
   Garth - Thursday, 12/29/05 20:24:23 EST

Garth-- the solder is balling up because the components are not hot enough or the metal components are not clean enough. Clean the joint areas down to bare metal, cover the entirety of the components with flux and then burn down the flux until it stop bubbling, position the fluxed paillons of solder, then bring EVERYTHING up to a glow and watch carefully, remove the heat/torch when the solder flows.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 12/29/05 21:09:55 EST


What Miles said, and be sure you use a good flux like Battern's Liquid flux, rather than boric acid paste. You should be able to get Battern's at any large jewelry supply. Remember that silver solder wants to flow into joints by capillary action, which means that your fittings need to be tight enough to create the capillary action.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/29/05 21:28:21 EST

I want to make a diamond (pineapple) twist on some 1/2" square cold rolled bar. It's been a long time since I have made one. At one time I saw some instructions but I can't remember what it said. I'd like to know how many full turns forward to make after the first slitting and how many turns back to make after reforging and the second slitting. I'm planning to make the twist about 4 inches long. Any help would be appreciated.
   Pruts - Thursday, 12/29/05 23:54:29 EST

vicopper, Garth-- to each his own and I will defend to the death a person's right to the flux of his/her choice, but to me the main thing is to use a flux that won't crap out before the job is done. It has to hold up to the heat, in other words. Handi-Flux, I think is the name of what I have used to good effect on steel, both ferrous and stainless, and brass and silver. Comes in a little white tub with a blue cap. Recently, I started using Cuprinol on top of that, and overall, I spray some Prip's flux after heating silver a bit to make it fizzle after it gets sprayed on with a potter's mouth-powered glaze spray, to form a heavy frosting to try to prevent the (ugh!) dread firescale. You don't have to worry about that with steel.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/30/05 00:25:06 EST

The museum where I work has recently got an old B & S Massey steam hammer up and running.(yes, we are running it on steam) I have used it, but it's a bit of trial and error. The treadle control doesn't work, we think we need a new valve. But we can get it going without the treadle. Wondering in anyone knows where we could get info on the running of these things, apart from B&S Massey itself, which we are contacting.
   - Lorne G` - Friday, 12/30/05 02:52:02 EST

Pruts: Has been a long time since I made one also. As I recall you back twist one-half the first twist. If you did one full turn, flattened and grooved again, then you would back twist one-half turn.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/30/05 04:53:26 EST

iForge 11 shows a pineapple twist.
   Mike B - Friday, 12/30/05 06:33:48 EST

Thanks Frank,

I'll give it a try.
   Paul Bilodeau - Friday, 12/30/05 08:26:58 EST

thanks for all the help
will try your ideas today
   Garth - Friday, 12/30/05 10:29:27 EST

I am looking for a bitch plate, or a clamp dog. It is used to pick up plate steel, HELP
   Benson - Friday, 12/30/05 11:12:54 EST

I have an 82 pound Hay-Budden anvil, serial # 118605. Could anyone tell me when this anvil was made. Thank you.
   Phil Cantrell - Friday, 12/30/05 11:28:46 EST

Benson-- get a FORGED, NOT CAST, C-clamp with a nose on the screw that is specially cut for that purpose, bites into the plate. MSC and other suppliers sell them. They are rated as to lift capacity. They are not cheap.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/30/05 11:56:52 EST

Paul-- allow yourself plenty of ventilation hot forging brass or bronze. Toxic fumes hazard. Ditto some fluxes.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/30/05 12:01:42 EST

Paul: Toxic fumes hazard is extremely serious. Can cause death. Read iForge #166, it is a must.

Phil, according to Richard Postman in Anvils in America, p. 303, your Hay Budden was made in 1906. The first Hay Buddens were made in 1892, the last in 1925. They are good anvils. I have a 200# one and it is great.
   Ellen - Friday, 12/30/05 12:41:31 EST

Thanks Miles,

I think I will only heat the brass for stress relieving as Frank has suggested. I'll try forging cold. That way I can try to feel the material (and the hardening point) as well as stay out of some toxic fumes.

Thanks again for the great safety suggestion.
   Paul Bilodeau - Friday, 12/30/05 12:41:58 EST

Anybody interested in buying a rebuilt 50 lb. L.G. power hammer?
   - JC - Friday, 12/30/05 12:45:12 EST

Anybody interested in buying a rebuilt 50 lb. L.G. power hammer?
   JC - Friday, 12/30/05 12:45:33 EST

JC: Where it is and how much are you asking? Did you do the rebuilding yourself or have Sid do it?
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/30/05 13:20:11 EST

Happy Holidays.
I am refinishing a rack that goes behind a kitchen sink (for dish washing stuff). I want to do a clear coat, of some sort, the original finish was varathane. But that didn't hold up to well. I have heard that a solvent based laqueur is a really good water-resistant finish, but that it is not so environmentally friendly. Could you tell me about the dangers of using such a finish, and recommend an alternative if you think it is not suitable.
Thanks a lot,
   Hayes - Friday, 12/30/05 15:05:15 EST

got a book and ive been tryin ALL day to forgeweld 3/8"round handles on a pair of tongues, i got it to stick together but setting the jaws n straightening up they split again, i guess some things you cant learn from a book (if i could i'd have listend at school and have a better job) i tried at a range of heats from bright red to sparkly white, scarfing the two ends or laying on top of each other, hitting not very hard and knocking hell out of em,tried sifbronze flux,(it doesnt say on the tin if its borax tho?)wish some of you guys lived nearer. i'll do my bit if i can, how much is CSI membership (dont think i can make it to your hammer-in tho ken) have a great new year.
   geoff - Friday, 12/30/05 15:58:19 EST

I finally found the piece I need to make my first coal forge. I got a 36" diameter water tank ASME rated to 150 psi. The bottom dish (head) is almost flat about a 2" drop in the center of the circle. My plan is to take about 3" of sidewall with the dish, with two cutouts in the side wall for longer pieces, and cut a hole for a firepot, I will put on longer legs, maybe with trailer jacks to make it more portable. Any way I really need some advice, first commercial firepots seem awfully expensive, whcih do you like the best? I would like to hear pro's and cons to help me decide which pot. Also using the 36" circle puts me 18" from the fire, I don't forsee a problem as I have long arms but most comercial forges seem to be closer to 2' x 3' I assume this was to put the smith closer to the fire?

I know that this is going to be a heavy monster, I have been trying to scrounge something less substantial for almost a year but haven't found what I want, I sometimes with I lived in an industrial area. Any tips would be appreciated. I plan on a side draft hood, I am hoping to mount the hood/chimney to the wall so the forge will sit under it in the shop, yet still allow me to drag it out from under the hood to use outside on nice days.
   Jeff G - Friday, 12/30/05 17:06:47 EST

Royce - Where in Florida are you located? If your parents are supportive, and I should think, if you're already working they are, you may want to look into the Florida Artists Blacksmiths Association. (FABA) Site is Blacksmithing.org. Odds are, there's someone in your neck of the woods, if you get a parent to take you to the nearest monthly meeting. Everyone I've met in FABA has been more than happy to lend a hand, or pass on information.

Pruts - The rule of thumb I was given was an even number of quarter-turns one direction, and half that the reverse, after hammering back to square and re-slitting. As for how many specifically, that's a personal choice on how large or small you want your diamonds.

Sunny and warm here on the banks of the St Johns River, Jacksonville, FL.
   Monica - Friday, 12/30/05 18:06:58 EST

Geoff: borax is a good flux (the laundry kind, not boraxo), also I like EZ Weld, several of the advertisers here carry it and I should imagine it is available over there.

White welding heat is a dazzling white and can throw sparks, but be careful not to burn the work. It is A Good Idea to rasp or wirebrush the surfaces (at low red heat) to be welded to get rid of rust and scale, flux them, get them up to heat, and use rapid, fairly light blows of the hammer. You can help yourself by preheating your anvil, get a reasonably large piece of steel to an orange temp and lay it on the face of your anvil while getting the pieces to be welded up to heat. Others may have more input on this. I use a propane forge most of the time, so the fire is clean. If using coal, the fire needs to be clean, and NOT oxidizing, ie good bed of coals under the work, a cupola of coal/coke over the workpiece......

Anvilfire membership is $52 a year. About the same as a cup of restaurant coffee a week, or tea in your area.

Jeff: firepots. Some folks really like the Lorence (sp?) firepots sold by Pieh Tool Co. for $175, others like the Centaur firepot for about $110 (this is what I have), others buy the Centaur book on "How to Make a Blacksmith's Firepot" for $10 and do it themselves.

In my opinion, 18" from the fire should not be a problem, and in summer could be a blessing. I think the 2 X 3 is just to keep weight down. I've seen commercial forges, brick or steel where they were much bigger than 18" from the fire.

A lot of folks get a 1/4" plate from a scrapyard or supplier, cut it to the size they want with torch or angle grinder, weld up an angle iron frame and legs, cut a hole and drop a firepot in, rig up an air supply and go from there. That is if you can weld or have a friend who can weld. A Lincoln weldpack 100 (runs off 110V) or equivalent is fine for that type of welding, angle grinders can be had from Harbor Freight Tools for less than $30.
   Ellen - Friday, 12/30/05 18:13:25 EST

Jeff G.-- Maybe you don't need to insert a firepot for a while yet. The heat goes mostly up away from the hearth. I used the bottom of a somewhat smaller water heater for a while, with no firepot, air blast coming up through the center with a slag screen, just like a riveting forge, and with a 6-inch circumferential band I could insert to give me high sidewalls for a really deep fire. It worked fine. Those big hearths you describe go mostly unused in terms of fire. Try it. You can always add a firepot later. Centaur Vulcan is or used to be and still is for all I know, a good firepot.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/30/05 18:14:12 EST

Hey there,

I am a new member here with almost no blacksmithing experience. This summer I did a workshop with Helmut Hillenkamp at Esalen in Big Sur, CA and got totally hooked. He is an amazing guy.

I am just getting my shop into shape for blacksmithing. I just finished my forge. It is a steel box of my own design with two Ron Reil style burners and insulated with Kaowool.

Pictures are worth a thousand words. Here are some pictures of my forge:


My problem - this forge gets real hot. And no, not the inside... it actually isn't as hot as I had hoped, only getting metal to slightly better than dull red. I hope to get that sorted by replacing the pipe reducer burner flares (actually makes an okay flame) with Zoeller burner flares, installing chokes, and perhaps adding squirrel fans.

The box itself is what gets too hot. After an hour or two of use, it easily gets to 500 degrees. The first firing was really bad because the angle iron that trims the doors and base of the box extended 3 inches into the forge chamber. That was a disaster, it actually got red hot around the door. I cut it back to make a flange less than an inch in width, as you can see, and added morer Kaowool. However, I still believe that the trim along the door is soaking up heat and spreading it through the box. The metal is definetly hottest around the door.

I like having that flange because it helps hold the 3 layers of Kaowool in place. I am thinking about getting some hardbrick and creativly cutting it, notching it, and stacking it just right to trim the door inside and outside as a layer of protection for that metal.

My questions:

How does that insulation job look? Sloppy? I had to use scraps around the door...

Will brick framing the door stop the heat?

Will ITC-100 solve these problems? Or should my forge be able to run cool for hours at a time without any ITC? Should I get the forge dialed before I add ITC because it is expensive and I can't afford to modify the insulation once it is applied?

Will ITC 213 on that metal stop the heat from being absorbed? Is it that good?

Should I chop off the door trim and figure something else out?

Any random advice?

Thanks everybody!

   Cassidy Clawson - Friday, 12/30/05 18:24:06 EST

Jeff, if you haven't already cut up that tank, save it, get it hydroed, and set it up as an air receiver :)

Cassidy, 500 degrees is only a tad hot for the outside of a gas forge. It's probably getting this hot because of your angle-iron retaining parts, yes. Do your idea with hardbrick, or even better, replace all that dang hardbrick with softbrick. Or you can use nichrome wire and ceramic buttons to tack the Kaowool to the forge housing -- I can probably supply a source if this interests you.

How the insulation looks is not relevant to how it performs.

You should probably ITC that forge to reduce flying mildly carcinogenic fibers. ITC the bricks too. Cool design.

Partly cloudy and 80 degrees in Kaneohe, Hawaii. (BoG)
   T. Gold - Friday, 12/30/05 19:09:29 EST

Intresting book on Ebay:

Constructing & Using Wood Patterns, C.W. Ammen, TAB Books 1983
#460076508 currently $4.00 closing Jan 4
   - Hudson - Friday, 12/30/05 19:27:00 EST


There is no magic clear coat that will last forever. All clear coats are much weaker that solid colors because they have no pigments, which means that only clear binders can be used. They are much more prone to damage from UV and ozone as well. That said, some are better than others.

The automotive clear acrylic lacquers are about the most durable in general. They are made in water-borne solutions, but the last one of those I tried was sub-par. The little bit of solvent-based acrylic lacquers that you'll use aren't going to destroy the environment or your kidneys or liver or lungs, provided that you wear an approved respirator rated for the product and don't dump your waste in the water supply. If you clean out your spray gun with the thinner, take the dirty leftovers to the nearest auto body shop and they'll probably dispose of it for you.

Somoe acrylic lacquers can be used with a urethane or iso-cyanate additive, which makes them even more durable. These are good products, but they *do* require a better respirator cartridge. Be sure you have the correct respirator cartridge. The paint supplier should carry the right cartridges; ask them.

All finishes last longer if applied to clean metal. Really clean, not just wiped with an old t-shirt and dusted off with unfiltered air from your compressor. Sandblasted is best, but looks wierd under clear coat, unless you use gunbluing on it before coating. Tight scale is fine, but the surface should be wirebrushed and then treated with a wash of metal prep solution (usually a dilute phosphoric acid solution), and thenm rinsed with distilled water and forced-air dried. If you do that, you wil have the best longevity out of your clear coating.

One final piece of advice: All paint lasts longer and looks better longer if it is regularly waxed with a quality car wax. Your car is clear-coated and waxed and stays looking decent outdoors for ten or more years if keep it up; properly done, your metal work can look just as good for just as long.
   vicopper - Friday, 12/30/05 19:56:17 EST

Miles, I will try it without a pot, I can always add one if it gets to hot. I should have thought of that it already has a 1/2 coupling welded to the bottom, 3" NPT, I can probably scrounge the bone yard when it quits raining for some pipe fittings for ash dump, and air inlet. If it burns through then I have less to cut away for the fire pot. :D
T. Gold, tank leaks at a weld, replaced under warranty from the manufacture, so won't hold pressure. That's why it was free.
Ellen, I have thought about building a pan as you describe but I am frugal (read cheap) the only scrap yard in my area sells all the plate they get in at new prices. Last time I priced a sheet of 1/8" I decided to spend that on various round, square and flat bar. So I have been scrounging ever since. I picked the tank up from a customer to save them the expense of having it hauled away I have a couple blowers and a pile of scrap pipe for legs even some old exhaust tubing for ducting the air. Now if it will just quit raining I can start cutting.
Thanks everyone, any more ideas would be great as I probably won't get to start this until next weekend. We are under a flood watch through Sat. 5:00 pm with a second wet storm moving in Monday. Life in the High desert.
   Jeff G - Friday, 12/30/05 20:20:44 EST


To add a little bit to what Ellen said. You don't need a sparking heat to weld. Just under the sparking heat is a "sweating heat". The flux and scale have become molten on the surface of the steel. The surface will look wet and sometimes runny, and the color of the metal will be a bright lemon/white color.

Use relatively light blows to start the weld. Hit harder once you have cohesion. You can take several sweating heats over the same area without appreciably hurting the structure of the metal. When you fine tune the shape after welding, use bright forging heats.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/30/05 20:28:32 EST

Today in the forge I heated up a worn out file to bright red and stuck it in a quench of cold water just to see what would happen when I tapped it with a hammer. It broke like a sheet of rock. But the broken metal showed no big obvious grain like I thought it would. According to books I've read and another smith I've watched the metal should show a rough grain. Why's it smooth?
   Tyler Murch - Friday, 12/30/05 21:53:35 EST

Has anybody ever had a problem with flame out or any other problems with mounting an atomspheric burner vertically? According to Rex's hybridburners.com problems have been reported with it. Not with Rex's burners in particular, but any atmospheric burner. The reason I'm asking is because I want to buy the F2 forge from armorrefractories.com to save me the trouble of building my own forge. I've already asked Armor and Rex about this and they basically told me it's not really a problem. My current forge's burner is mounted vert and I've never had any problems. I just want to see if anybody ever has had a problem with it or if it's just malarky.
   Tyler Murch - Friday, 12/30/05 22:26:19 EST

Tyler Murch: There's two reasons I can think of that might be the cause of the lack of grain growth. First one is that different people in different lighting see colors differently, maybe it wasn't as hot as you thought? If it was overheated, did you heat it quickly? It might not have had time for grain growth, it might have still been disolving the carbon into solution. If it was some tool other then a file I'd guess that there might be some vanadium or tungston that inhibits grain growth, but files usually aren't made out of those sort of alloys.
   AwP - Friday, 12/30/05 22:35:45 EST

Jefff G : I welded a section of 4" diameter tube on the bottom of My homemade forge and hinged a light plate with a weighted handel on it for an ash dump. The air goes in through a thinwall conduit sweep bend welded into a hole in the side of the 4" tube. The 4" tube came off an old oil burner gun, about 1/8 wall thickness. I ended up with a smallish firebox, seems to work, but I probably should have duplicated a proven design. Keep Your eye out for usefull scrap where ever You go.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 12/30/05 22:36:08 EST


I've had minor trouble with my vertically-mounted burner huffing when hot. I think part of the problem was air leaking around the burner nozzle and rising between the burner tube and the mounting tube like a chimney. Stuffing more kaowool around the nozzle seemed to help, and I also drilled a row of holes around mounting tube near the bottom to let some cooler air in. When I build another forge, I'll mount the burner with a bracket rather than inside a tube to avoid the chimney effect.

Of course I'll never be able to prove that the burner mount had anything to do with the huffing. But creating that concentric space where there's a chance hot gas could get in at the bottom just doesn't seem like good design to me.

I notice the forge you're looking at uses a flange mount, so at least it won't suffer from this problem.
   Mike B - Friday, 12/30/05 22:59:45 EST

Tyler Murch,

I've used a forge I built with the vertically mounted burner, and I did not have any real problems with flameouts. I did, however, have problems with it acting like a chimney after I shut it down, unless I quickly stuffed a piece of scrap Kaowool in it. The chimney effect was a problem as it heated the coppre MIG tip jet to the point of scaling. The other, and to my mind more significant, problem with a vertically mounted burner is that the workpiece is directly in the path of the flame, resulting in worse scaling if your flame is at all oxidizing. Using side-mounted burners avoids both problems and seems like a better option to me. One man's opinion, YMMV.
   vicopper - Friday, 12/30/05 23:32:45 EST

Tyler, You got your file hot enough to become austenitic. When you quenched it you got martensite - when you hit it with the hammer it broke like glass - that's what martensite does when it's untempered. No overheating, so no large grain size. Martensite typically exhibits a very fine grain size but is very brittle. If you had tempered it at 500 degrees F or so, it wouldn't have been nearly as brittle, but would still have been relatively hard.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 12/30/05 23:44:00 EST

Hello to all and a Happy New Year!( well, almost New Year's). I hope that Christmas treated everyone well this year. Anyway, i have a few things i could use ya'lls advice on...

First: I'm havng some trouble forge welding a leaf spring together to make a folded ax. All the springs i have are salvage. I have both a coal and propane forge, both of which i know will weld mild steel because i have done it multiple times, and both have an adjustable range of temperature up to white heat, though i don't forge weld at that temp. I did get it to stick once, but when i when back to fix the eye, the weld broke. Other times i just cannot get it to stick at all. Am i missing something, some little trick, or are leaf springs just that tricky to forge weld?

Second, I am in the process of making plate armour(though not a whole suit, just something small, like guantlets), doing all of the planishing by hand, which i really love to do. Seeing as i am a student first and formost,though, and short of time as a result, i am looking into an air powered tool that planishes. The only problem is that i do not know what that tool is called, or what would work. I have doing some looking, but i am still unsure what the right tool would be. Any point in the right direction would be really appreciated.

On homemade firepots... the pot i use in my coal forge is made from a brake drum with some quarter-inch plate welded inside at a slope to make it more like commercial firepots. it has a 2" opening for air, over which i put a piece of 1/4" with several holes drilled in it. with a cheap hair dryer from wal-mart and a little dimmer switch to control the air, it will maintain a bright yellow/near white heat with very litte air from the hair dryer at all. It was relativley easy to put together, and works great. The only major tool needed is a welder, the rest can be done with an angle grinder and cutoff wheels and a hand drill.
Thats my little bit of knowledge..

Thanks for any help you can offer, it will go to good use!

Thanks, and Happy New Year to all,

Ian Wille
   Ian "Blueboy" Wille - Saturday, 12/31/05 02:22:53 EST

Blueboy: Across the street at Forgemagic.Com one fellow recently built an air planishing hammer from an air chissel. There are Pics posted on that site, but in the archives, about a month ago.Eastwood[www.eastwodcompany.com]sells them ready made, but not cheap.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 12/31/05 04:18:28 EST

I have a bladesmith buyer in France who is looking for a source of supply of knife blanks made from old/used farrier rasps/files. Just needs a tang forged and the blade rough shaped. He will finish them. If interested in possibly being a source of supply to him, contact me directly and I'll provide his e-mail address. He has purchased propane forges and knife vises from me and is a prompt PayPal payer. I will vouch for him.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/31/05 08:57:02 EST

Geoff: Forge welding takes practice and "dropping the tongs welds " is one of the harder welds to do. I know of a number of good smiths who dont even try. They use arc welds and forge them. Here's my 2c to add to all the good advice above.:

The main problem is that this is race against time. At welding heat the piece is cooling *very* *very* fast and you have just a few secs to stick the weld. "Faster than a snake is striking" (Frank Turley repeating the wisdom of his master) Despite this you have to be deliberate and even gentle in you movements. Because of this, it's darn hard to jump weld stock that's less than 1/2" round since the heat escapes so fast. So for 3/8" a difficult weld is even harder. Either bump up the end until you have about 3/4" section that is at least 1/2" dia or start with 1/2" sq (heavier than 1/2" round) and draw it down after the weld is done - I know this is against he purpose of the weld which is to save drawing the reins but this is learning mode. Get the piece HOT all the way through. Better too hot than too cold. Get it hot enough to throw some sparks! A *little* burn wont hurt - that is a few sparks - if you get a 4th of July sparkler you really have ruined the steel and need to c ut it off and try again. Heat a few pieces up to burning heat just to see what this looks like. A common problem with judging temp is to pull the pieces out when as soon as the surface looks right instead of letting them soak. (I suspect this might be your case). The inside is not at welding heat - they might indeed stick but as they get mashed together, the cold interiors come to the weld surface and you get a cold shut in the middle of the weld even though the edges may have stuck. This will come apart even when you try to work on an adjacent area. Let the work soak! When the pieces want to stick together in the forge let them sit a while longer till the inside is "done". Use a 12oz hammer to stick the weld with light taps or even gentle pushes with the hammer head. For small welds, 1/2" and smaller, I re flux and go for another welding heat as soon as the pieces are stuck. On larger welds you have more work time and can get further in the first heat.

Another common problem is hammering after the weld has dropped below forging heat. This will cause the newly formed bond to shear. Stop hammering as SOON as the surface is no longer sweating. Once the weld is stuck you have a bigger mass and life is easier - this is why some people use an arc welder to tack the pcs together before welding in the forge (that and it saves dong the little dance with the tongs).

Don't bend, twist or do any heavy forging on the weld except at or near welding heat. A really good weld can be twisted or bent at red without separating. But not many smiths would face this test with confidence.

Fluxes: There are many good fluxes and they all work a little differently. You have to get used to the one you use. Borax is very cheap and works great except that is kind of slippery for sticking a jump weld. I add some brake drum turnings to make the weld stick (free from an auto shop). Steel filings and drill turnings work too but dont use any grindings - these have abrasive particles mixed in. Other people use EZ weld in a similar way to stick the weld.
   adam - Saturday, 12/31/05 11:06:04 EST


Use sweating heats. Take multiple heats if necessary. Scroll upward to where I answered Geoff's query.

The old way was to make the tool of wrought iron or mild steel and weld in the high carbon cutting bit using a cleft weld.

There is an air tool called a "needle scaler" which is not properly a planishing tool (like a hammer), but it leaves tiny indentations over the surface of the metal. It imparts a mat, hardly noticeable, pebble-like surface.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/31/05 11:12:41 EST

Grain Growth: Silicon is an effective grain growth inhibitor and is present in most common steel. Also, it is only good to about 1750F or so. Beyond that the grains can grow as the silicon goes into solution.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 12/31/05 11:12:49 EST

thanks, that makes a lot of sense, have to buy little hammer now,cheers.
   geoff - Saturday, 12/31/05 12:02:55 EST


Just remembered -- if you're having a hard time finding borax, you could try a Chinese grocery. According to my wife, it's used as a meat tenderizer. The Chinese (Mandarin) name sounds like "pohn sah." The laundry kind it likely to be a lot cheaper, though.
   Mike B - Saturday, 12/31/05 13:09:42 EST

Coal Forge Legs: i've obtained one of those old army type forges that has a Champion 400 blower set in it. Does anyone have a picture of the legs they used on em? need to fabricate some. Thanks.
   Matthew Groves - Saturday, 12/31/05 18:28:20 EST

Well, took a friend of mine rabbit hunting today. I got one. BUT, this friend you see, had an anvil he wanted to get rid of. Not the past tense of "want"! So when we got back to his house, we looked at the anvil. Then I came home to try to identify it. Looks as tho my first hunch was correct. A Fisher. It has the lugs front and back to bolt to the stump. But in his garage I could discern no identifing markings. But from Anvils In America, it looks as only the Badger anvils had the lugs like this one. And the chart on Fisher anvils puts this one, by measuring the face, at between 225-250lbs. Once I get it home, I'll hang it on my deer scale, and see what it looks like. Oh, and the face is in great shape. And he only wants $225 for it. Soo, I guess I gotta buy it! :] I've been wanting a 200lb or larger anvil, had no idea he had one.

Now, this isn't as good as Thomas pays per pound, but it ain't bad! Also, is that Thomas on page 444 of Anvils In America? Ain't no horns on the hat, but it is kinda a disrespectable looking character. :]
   Bob H - Saturday, 12/31/05 19:12:35 EST

Hey I don't turn my nose up at an anvil in good shape at the outrageous price of a dollar a pound---I just don't mention them in polite company...

That Picture on pg 444 looks a lot like me of say 20 years ago. Nowdays I have a tendency to braid the beard and hang silver anvils from it to go with the white in it...think of me as Santa's evil twin Skippy. I have roasted marshmallows over a flaming ASO before. I bought a CI ASO from HF for the MOB and we drilled it and counter drilled it and made a propane stove from it...

Leaf spring can be a pain to stick to itself sometimes due to the alloying. A more aggressive flux (with fluorite) is suggested or putting in a piece of plain HC steel like an *old* handsaw blade so you are not trying to weld it to itself is suggested.

Trench dug, back from Mom's birthday; I'm firing up the forge tomorrow! I have a bucket of hammers I need to do something with...

   Thomas P - Saturday, 12/31/05 21:10:37 EST

Bob H: Changes of you having a Fisher there are about 99.9%. Besides Fisher, only Buffalo Forge and GEM have those lugs in AIA. Neither particularly look like Fisher.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/31/05 23:14:07 EST

thanks for the help, im in west palm beach so im pretty close to one of the meetings in january
   Royce - Saturday, 12/31/05 23:33:14 EST

Happy New Year ALL.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/01/06 02:49:12 EST

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