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

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

This is an archive of posts from December 8 - 15, 2006 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]


Do some loooking around on the 'net and you should find a picture of a cute little powerhammer that Pete Renzetti made. It uses actual hand hammers and is driven by a variable speed motor, has adjustable anvil height, etc. A bit bigger than the lady of the house's sewing machine, but not a lot. Pete uses it for chasing and repousse work.
   vicopper - Friday, 12/01/06 00:10:12 EST


I found a couple pics of Pete's hammer on my 'puter and emailed them to you.
   vicopper - Friday, 12/01/06 00:14:21 EST

Hey guys, I have a question for you all. I have received an order for some custom cabinet handles/pulls with a bark texture on them. I was wondering what would be the best finish to use on these to prevent and /or keep the rust to a minimum. The stock is 5/8" round mild steel bar, and the finish may either be wire brushed or not (its a detail that I and the customer are trying to work out). Anyways, I appreciate any advice you can toss my way.

Thanks! Ian
   Ian Wille - Friday, 12/01/06 00:21:44 EST

How should I charge for my work by the hour or by the job
if by the hour how much? I have only been smithing for a couple years and havent begun to learn the half of it. I do mostly decorative work. and I want to be paid for what it is worth but I dont want somebody to feel ripped off.
I know this isn't a one ansewer question I would just like to have some idea. Thanks
   Sharp - Friday, 12/01/06 01:30:05 EST

Here's an idea that may work well for you instead of bare metal and a spray on sealer . I made some refrigerator and freezer handles for a gal and I colored them with a "plumb brown" rifle barrel solution. This is an accelerated rust that is a real rich dark chocolate color. To seal, I reheated slightly and applied bees wax then buffed. They've stayed the original color over time with no discoloration.
   Thumper - Friday, 12/01/06 02:02:09 EST

Sharp - I think, and others may or may not agree, the most fair way to price Your work is by the job, and in keeping with what it is worth, or what others would get for a similar part[same complexity, quality & finish] If You are not well equipped or not as proficient You are going to need a lot more time to do the work.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 12/01/06 02:43:56 EST


You used an uppercase "i" in your missive. Nobody uses a shift key any more, except for characters like "$" and emoticons like " :-) ". You also used a period (full stop). As you know, punctuation was abolished in 2004 (or perhaps 2005) as a hindrance to run-on stream of consciousness ramblings jumping three subjects and one shark in a single, magnificent paragraph of breathtaking erudition. As for spelling, you left three words intact. Even though they were “I”, “be” and “in” you could have more efficiently substituted “i” “b’ and “n” and saved two letters while increasing the challenge to readers to make some sort of comprehensive sense out of your posting.

I am sure that you will do better next time.

“Oh tempura, oh morays, oh fried eels!”

Heavy winds and high tides expected tonight on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your national Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/01/06 08:40:34 EST

I saw a little oven for heating curling irons and such at a beauty shop. The oven has a ceramic lining and a rheostat that goes up to 870 degrees. My question is, would it be unadvisable to attempt to "turbocharge" it up to forging temps? Or, left alone the heat is low enough for non-ferrous materials for forging. I don't work aluminum or brass, although I'd like to expand my horizons a bit. Any thoughts?
   - Nippulini - Friday, 12/01/06 09:59:30 EST


Actually you may want to check out the book Dave gingery wrote on building electric furnaces that includes all of the plans and a list of materials needed. He intended them to be used for melting metal as part of a home foundry, but they are theoretically capable of reaching 2300F so you could probably use it for forging. I believe that one of the advertisers here Artisan Ideas carries the book if you're interested.
   Steven Galonska - Friday, 12/01/06 10:25:44 EST

Bruce-- thanx! Grin. I paint what I see. Grin.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/01/06 12:05:28 EST


The short answer is, no. Don't bother with it, start from scratch and build a good one.

Specific alloys of aluminum, brass, bronze, silver, etc. all have differing temps for annealing or forging. Aluminum is at the low end, and that little oven would probably work for aluminum. For the rest, you're going to need temps a bit higher, in the 900-1100 range, some alloys even higher still.
   vicopper - Friday, 12/01/06 12:11:07 EST

Another ebay 'i.d.' the anvil question......

item number 160057358957 - Just looks like a standard, unmarked london pattern to me, so why would someone have enquired for shipping to the states? the bid seems high considering theres 6 days of the sale left - am I missing something on this one?

(all punctuation included, except the humble apostrophe, since I will inevitably use it incorrectly, and upset someone :)
   John N - Friday, 12/01/06 12:34:19 EST

John Scancella, I can't speak for any of the other smiths in the Pittsburgh Area Artist Blacksmiths Association, but when I joined I found them welcoming and friendly to a hobby smith who's a metallurgist - a number of them are professional smithsso opening a shop probably wouldn't occur. But a number are hobby smiths. Attend some meetings and get to know them and some opportunities might open up.

As for location, let's see, Hookstown is all of about 2 miles from the Ohio border. Ambridge is probably about 45 minutes from Stubenville if you don't go through Pittsburgh to get to it. Ligonier on the other hand would ba a "hike".
   - Gavainh - Friday, 12/01/06 13:33:42 EST

Thank you so much, John N, for being considerate of the feelings of those of us who are punctuationally sensitive.
   3dogs - Friday, 12/01/06 13:39:41 EST

John N: Looks like a fairly typical anvil to me also. Yes, shipping to the U.S. would have been very expensive. May have bene Steve at matchlessantiques.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/01/06 13:57:58 EST

Bruce for your lunch order, "Oh tempura, oh morays, oh fried eels!”, It Tokyo Sukiyaki (sp?) still in business in DC? I used to love their tempura back in the mid '60's...

Dinging perfectly good stock: one Quad-State I saw a fellow who had made a top tool for his powerhammer. A hand held bar with a bunch of trapped ball bearings to speed up peening a surface as every hit put a bunch of dings in.

   Thomas P - Friday, 12/01/06 14:26:38 EST

Speaking of Quad-State, if you would like to see a particular demonstrator there you can make a recommendation to Quad-State 07, P.O. Box 24308, Huber Heights, OH 45424-0308. Indicate why you think they would make a good demonstrator and provide a contact point for them.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/01/06 16:00:39 EST

Tokyo Sukiyaki; Thomas:

There's one in Montreal, but none no mo' in D.C. If you haven't been in town since the '60s you wouldn't recognize most of downtown (and it gets really freaky just considering what they've torn-down and built-up since I started working here in '74)!


I scored a piece of 2"+ black iron pipe walking back from lunch the other day; 10" long and threaded at both ends. A number of uses immediatly suggested themselves to me, such as candlesticks or tent pole ferrules. However, I was thinking it might make a good case hardening container. I've used clay in the past for small objects, but this is small enough to heat well, and big enough to hold some decent blades and parts (with a couple of end caps).

HOWEVER... is it sealed air tight, or do I leave a small vent hole? With the clay, if everything is not perfectly dry any steam seems to work its way out through the cracks that always developed, but a large sealed iron pipe, especially with grease and leather per Theophilus; well it does give one pause.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/01/06 16:33:05 EST

Gavainh, thank you for your help. Where are your guys meetings? I tried to find out through the web site and through calling the person the webmaster told me too but just kinda got the run around. John Scancella
P.S. Its not that I'm unwilling to drive 3 hours to blacksmithing its that as a collage student I don't have the time or money to devote to that kind of trip. So thank you again for helping find something closer
   John Scancella - Friday, 12/01/06 16:42:48 EST

So I checked out homemade electric furnaces and came back with a lot of foundry and casting results. I'm looking more scaled down for forging. Any suggestions?
   - Nippulini - Friday, 12/01/06 17:39:15 EST

My husband is a custom knife maker for 18 yeras and has expressed an interest in forging his own damascus blades. I want to give the BEST christmas present ever and buy him a gas portable forge. Can you make any recommendations? I need at least a 12 x12x12, or do I?

Thanks, Pat

   pat alexander - Friday, 12/01/06 17:43:31 EST


I've been using a rattle-can water-based satin polyurethane. I find it's almost invisible over tight scale. I haven't really put it to the test on durability. Polyurethane is generally pretty good, but a kitchen could be a tough environment.
   Mike B - Friday, 12/01/06 17:49:37 EST

12 Days ago I ordered the Advanced Damascus Patterning Video from www.hammersmithknives.com 12 days ago!!! I sent them an email to check on my ordered. I havent recieved anything in 4 days. They dont have a number where they can be reached. I called information its not on file. the guys name is JD Smith. Deos anyone know of this website or contact information that I am missing. Please help someone.

Charles Cooper
Dallas, TX

Heres all there is on the website

HammerSmith Knives & Publications
516 E. 2nd street #38
South Boston 02127 MA
   - Charles Cooper - Friday, 12/01/06 18:06:35 EST

12 Days ago I ordered the Advanced Damascus Patterning Video from www.hammersmithknives.com 12 days ago. I sent them an email to check on my ordered. I havent recieved anything in 4 days. They dont have a number where they can be reached. I called information its not on file. the guys name is JD Smith. Deos anyone know of this website or contact information that I am missing. Please help someone.

Charles Cooper
Dallas, TX

Heres all there is on the website

HammerSmith Knives & Publications
516 E. 2nd street #38
South Boston 02127 MA
   Charles Cooper - Friday, 12/01/06 18:10:00 EST

Sweet, innit' knew it wazz boat anca all along , mite bi it n stamp it rat ole n list it wiz me ammaz on me site... ez fellaz (for the finest perveyors of forging equipment on the whole internet contact john at www.masseyforging.com ) :)
   - John N - Friday, 12/01/06 20:21:21 EST

Miles, I meant no offense. It is just that if we were actually related, I would expect myself to be more eloquent and knowlegable on the pertinent social issue of the day. Besides, people in my region of Tennessee demonstrate daily that there is only one kind of DNA here.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 12/01/06 20:26:16 EST

In the distant future I intend to forge my own sword. That is after adequate training to do so. How hot should I heat the sword and how long should I hold it at that temperature to get it the hardest?
   Kien Tran - Friday, 12/01/06 21:37:54 EST

quenchcrack-- no offense, bro. Now... as for more eloquent and knowledgeable... hmmm... don't kid a kidder.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/01/06 21:54:26 EST

Kien, that depends on the alloy you are forging---which you didn't tell us. Don't worry about heat treat until you have learned to forge!

   Thomas Powers - Friday, 12/01/06 23:11:01 EST

Bruce - I think if You put the caps on hand tight You will be OK. I think bone meal is another traditional source of carbon, but if I was doing it I think I would buy some Casenit.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 12/01/06 23:19:14 EST

Charles Cooper,

The USPS is on molasses hold these days. I mailed some horsehead hoof picks from Santa Fe (in the US) to PA, on November 8th, and they arrived on the 28th.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/02/06 03:12:43 EST

USPS is competing with UPS and the other ground carriers by emphasing Priority Mail. I ship out a lot of PM boxes and they are normally received within 2-4 days. Media mail (books, etc.) seems about as fast as first class. Parcel Post is now very low as far as delivery service is concerned. I've had case of USPS taking over five weeks to delivery a Parcel Post package only a couple of states away. They lost one Parcel Post package which was 12" x 16" x 20" and it was only going about 100 miles within TN.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/02/06 04:15:21 EST

Nippulini: Sounds like that curling iron oven would make a dandy little tempering oven for a knifemaker.

Sharp: Whatever pricing method you come up with take into consideration inflation on raw goods in running much higher than the Consumer Price Index. An example is the local town which budgeted for 12 trash dumpsters. By the time the line item was approved and budgeted they found they could only buy eight of them within the budgeted amount.

I make household decor items out of new horseshoes. When I first started purchasing them locally they were $1.75 lb any size. Now they are sized priced at $2.86 to $4.25 lb. To make any money off of them I have to change an average of $8.00 pound as a finished item vs $4.00 lb when I first started offering them last year.

If you are going to do this as a hobby business, then the net income needs to be whatever pocket money you are happy with. If you are going to do it as your sole support, then I suspect you are going to have to really increase your prices, probably beyond what your potential customers are willing to pay.

I know a local guy who does either restoration or reproduction work for designers in Nashville, TN. High-end stuff. Works out of a shop maybe 20' x 20' with usually one helper. He told me some weeks his helper makes more money then he netted out of the business that week.

I suspect many a new, or even existing, business ends because they have found what they have to charge to just stay in business is more than the market will bear.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/02/06 06:25:50 EST

When I was in Amsterdam I found an 8" length of 1/4" square rod, possibly brass or bronze. I took it home, and it is definitely NOT ferrous. I am planning on forging it into a handguard and pommel on a dagger I made last year. Any way I can test it to find out exactly what type of metal this is?
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 12/02/06 08:55:59 EST

Sharp on pricing:
On smaller projects that I have made before (such as steel roses around Valentine's day, keyrings, s-hooks, j-hooks, etc.), I know how long each one will take and I charge according to an hourly rate (ex. a steel rose takes me roughly 1 hour in production mode. My time is worth $20/hour. Plus $5 for consumables and materials. Plus $5 for finish time and finish materials. A grand total of $30 a rose, or sometimes $340 a dozen. If I knock off $20 on a dozen people think they are getting a real deal!).

I have not done many larger projects (like gates, railings, etc.) but the few that I have done I make a sample of the work (one spindle, one foot of railing, etc.) and see how long that takes (also a good visual aid for the customer). From there I figure up roughly how long the whole project will take and the price. I then add in the projected cost of consumables , and then add 10%-15% of this price as a "buffer." On top of this is the cost of materials. I require the customer to pay for the materials up front (that way I am at a smaller loss should someone back out on me). Usually it all ends up working out with me making between $15 and $20 an hour. And that first sample? I keep that for future use.
Another consideration (and I tried this once) is to go to menard's or lowe's or whatever home improvement store is in your area and look for something similar to what you are going to make. Multiply the price of that by 4 or 5 and base your price off of that. This worked out on a very simple hand rail as the price from menards was about $10/foot and my finished price was roughly $40/ foot. I would not recommend this method for more complex projects though because of the time involved.

Hope the helps.
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Saturday, 12/02/06 10:58:24 EST

BTW: Thought I should mention this. I asked the same question as Sharp a while back (maybe a month or so) about how to price large projects. Since then I have managed to rope in 4 larger projects (including the handrail I mention above, and the project from the original inquiry post). The project I inquired about in the post on pricing was for a customer who ended having quite a bit of influence in the "creative community" in the area, and because of you guy's advice, I was able to offer what he considered a very reasonable price, and the other 3 projects were from referals by him. This kept me plenty busy working up to 15 hours a week in the forge. And even though these projects were fairly simple (creativity-wise), the extra money sure has helped out A big thanks to all the advice givers at anvilfire.com !!!
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Saturday, 12/02/06 11:13:45 EST

Thanks for all the info. guys it helps alot.
   Sharp - Saturday, 12/02/06 11:26:24 EST

Question about Doug Merkel's Wax Finish Recipe

Doug Merkel's wax finish recipe has been posted around the Intranet for a few years now and I'm preparing to make a batch, but I have a question for anyone who uses this finish.

It calls for 1/2 cup shaved/pieces of Beeswax

Do you take 4 ounces of beeswax and shave it?


Do you shave it and measure out 1/2 cup which is about an ounce of beeswax.

   sriver - Saturday, 12/02/06 12:45:05 EST

Thank for th info. helps out
   Charles Cooper - Saturday, 12/02/06 12:50:37 EST

Nippullini's mystery metal
Unfortunately, there are several hundred different common copper alloys, along with hundreds more that are rare.
So two of the most misused and meaningless descriptive terms are "brass" and "bronze".
Unless you pay for analysis, there is no way of knowing what your metal is.
So I would suggest you just try forging it, and see if it works. If it has significant amounts of lead in it, which it well could, it will not forge worth beans.
Try dimming the lights, heating it up till it is just beginning to glow the dullest of reds, and then try hammering and see what happens. If it crumbles into cookie dough like material, it probably is high in lead, and is only good for cold work. Lead is intentionally added to many metals to make it easier to machine, but it makes it very difficult to forge.
Be sure not to get it too hot- copper alloys will turn to a puddle very quickly at a very low temp- I often forge some trickier bronzes at a temp where they are between dark brown and purple in color, well before they appear the slightest bit red in normal light.
Of course, forging at too cold a temp wont work either- it will crack and possibly crumble as well.

Anyway, try it, and if it doesnt work, use it for something else.
Real traceable bronze alloys that forge well are available, although they run $5 to $10 a pound, that still isnt much for a piece of 1/4" square.
And then you know your time isnt wasted.
   - Ries - Saturday, 12/02/06 14:27:03 EST

I am looking for information on for a report on blacksmiths. I have read that the government does not keep track of blacksmith injury statistics, so I was hoping you would be able to tell me some common injuries – burns, sprains, or anything else. Also, are there any safety guidelines that blacksmiths take? I would also like to know the typical age and salary of a blacksmith artisan.
   Daniel Steele - Saturday, 12/02/06 15:23:28 EST

Andrew, most interesting casting bronzes pour near 2000F. Use a pyrometer. See www.foundry101.com. I think that their "cowboy" furnace can do bronze, but ask just in case. Their www site is very informative and I am sure that they'll be friendly to the hobby caster.

Ken, thanks for the advice on Ebay. I will tell my student--I will be working with him tomorrow. He is ahead of me, anyway. He has a "real" anvil. I have been looking for years, but I have been very happy with the substitutes that I have used/outgrown.

John, don't worry about the comments about driving long distances. When I was in college (seems like only yesterday), 2-3 hours of driving was a nearly insurmountable obstacle. You'll get over it as you get older (even grad school, the driving is much easier).

Ries, thanks for the advice on the Little Giant hammer. I called the number and reached a very helpful lady who told me almost all that I needed to know. She told me to weld brass angle iron guides to the worn V's, and forget about using a crane and giant milling machine. Furthermore, all that milling could wreck the frame. Unfortunately, I don't know how to weld brass to cast iron. Maybe TIG brazing? She mentioned that even flush brass screws and epoxy would work. Of course, more shims would be added.
   EricC - Saturday, 12/02/06 17:17:18 EST

Tig brazing with a silcon bronze (sometimes called "everdur") filler rod will work to get brass to stick to cast iron, but if the particular brass alloy has much zinc and or lead in it, it may sputter and smoke a bit.
   - Ries - Saturday, 12/02/06 19:56:50 EST

Ries, thanks for the info. I havent heated it, but I did pound it cold and it took form nicely. It is VERY rigid, wont bend much. I bent the hammered end in a vise and it snapped (I drew it down to less than 1/8") at the thinnest point. I think I'll stick with cold forging it for the handgaurd and pommel.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 12/02/06 21:27:25 EST

Do you think living along the lay lines of the 80th parallel on the world grid in a electro-magnetic/gravitational vortex affects the way metal draws and hardens? I am in one. It causes very strange things. I was wondering its effects on my forging.

   - Tyron Viron - Sunday, 12/03/06 00:10:38 EST

Hello are there any simple jigs for making hinges for the pin. I am a dummy and need a show me lol

   Johnny - Sunday, 12/03/06 00:21:04 EST

I just aquired several dozen jackhammer points, chisels and spades. I am wondering what alloy they might be as I expect to be making tooling with them for years to come and need to level out my hardening and tempering learning curve! Suggestions? References? Procedures?
   - scott wadsworth - Sunday, 12/03/06 01:25:05 EST

I just scored on several dozen jackhammer points, chisels, and spades with various size shanks. How can i determine the alloy of this material? Suggestions? Hardening/tempering ideas?
   - scott wadsworth - Sunday, 12/03/06 01:41:55 EST

Tyron V - I wouldn't expect it to, but then I sailed arround in the Bermuda triangle for a dozen years and saw nothing unusual there either.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 12/03/06 02:28:50 EST


If you work it cold, you'll probably want to anneal when it starts to harden too much. I think heating to a *very* low red and quenching works for most copper alloys. You could experiment on the piece that broke off.


Which 80th parallel? I don't know about lay lines, but either 80th sounds like a story in itself.
   Mike B - Sunday, 12/03/06 08:37:52 EST

sriver on beeswax: You measure 1/2 cup of shavings, the finer the better, and pack 'em in. It's not that critical.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 12/03/06 11:34:11 EST

Bruce; I spent 62-68 living in McLean VA; went back to visit recently and recognized *1* place; 3 little pigs BBQ, still there same location. I remember how nice the mall was after Ladybird got the "temporary" buildings removed.

Make a Pin Hole for gas to escape! You can plug it with a smear of clay.

   Thomas P - Sunday, 12/03/06 12:18:46 EST

scott wadsworth -

To be sure of the alloy, I'd contact the vendor for the specs on the part. They might not be thrilled with the idea of re-use of their parts for a whole different, untested (by them) purpose but the customer service people should be able to answer generic questions about what type of steel is used to make a point or chisel. If it's Ingersoll Rand, start with www.irtools.com and find the customer service numbers from there.
   - sriver - Sunday, 12/03/06 13:12:46 EST

Gravitational vortexes? I studied geophysics and actually had to use a gravitometer to measure minute gravity differences indicative of isostocy or dense mineral accumulations. No "ley line" vortexes were mentioned; there are some nifty magnetic effects from ore bodies---magnet cove AR is an example, lovely double clamshell effect on a magnetic field mapping of the area.

Blacksmith injuries: I don't know of any specific blacksmith injuries, all of them are "shared" with weldors, glassblowers, etc. The only injury I have had in 25 years of blacksmithing and knifemaking that resulted in a Dr's visit was when grinding on a blade cold.

Average salary for a smith is pretty much a meaningless figure. *Median* salary will tell you a whole lot more.

   Thomas Powers - Sunday, 12/03/06 16:31:36 EST

Jack hammer bits: they vary quite a bit, now, but in the old days when Joe Humble sharpened them for Tennessee-American Water company, he heated them to Non-magnetic, quenched the point in oil, and self tempered to light blue. Then he cooled them in water.

I used the same treatment to make other tools from the too-short throw away ones. They make great hardies!
   - John Odom - Sunday, 12/03/06 18:20:04 EST

Dave & Tom
Is it true the ring of the anvil will scare the spirits away that are drawn by the energy in the vortex? Thanks
   - Tyron Viron - Sunday, 12/03/06 22:43:01 EST

Gravitational vortexes?

My friend of mine has his set his goal in life; he is trying to accumulate enough old cast iron and steel machinery on his property that the FAA will have to issue Notices to Aviators to amend their navigation charts when flying a route over his place to account for the variations in compass declination caused by all of his junk.

Not that anyone on this forum would have similar lifetime goals?
Bob J
   woodenewe - Sunday, 12/03/06 23:07:58 EST

does anyone know where i get get some 5160 steel? I'm forging a seax blade for a friend who's a viking reenactor. he wanted me to make it out of mild steel but i want to make it useable. Or if there are any other better steels, maybe cheaper, that i should use instead of 5160.
thanks y'all
Andrew B.
   - andrew B. - Sunday, 12/03/06 23:35:42 EST

AndrewB. The large supplier catalogs of McMaster-Carr, MSC, and Travers Tool, sell W1 water hardening steel...has about 1% carbon. It is sold scale free, in 3-foot lengths, various diameters, and it is called "drill rod".
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/03/06 23:45:13 EST

We often get powerful entropic surges hereabouts, which when aligned with the gravitational vortices and the tug of the lee lines, why, my goodness gracious! We did have grave compass declination problems, too, what with all the surplus ferrous (not to mention the dread ferric) materiel, but Thomas has helped a lot to ease that.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 12/04/06 00:55:34 EST

Andred B: I believe 5160 was commonly used for vehicle leaf and coil springs.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 12/04/06 05:03:32 EST

SGensh: Thank you for sending the 1951 newspaper item on Fisher anvils on Mrs. S. A. Andrew, the last owner. A couple of aspects I found particularly interesting.

She noted 16 men turn out between 70 & 80 anvils a week. When Clark Fisher's wife, Hariett, took over in 1900 they had 300 employees.

Clark Fisher went into the U.S. Navy after college and retired as a chief engineering officer before taking over the business from his father, Mark.

"During the war one government inspector reported that we were making an all-steel anvil, the mixture for the cast iron was so rich" Mrs. Andrew recalled. "It isn't steel, just a very high grade iron".

"Earlier in the century the company announced that it had succeeded in taking the traditional ring out of its anvils. The subdued anvils were supposed to be better for the workmen's ears. It was, so the story goes, one of these 'ringless' anvils that found its way on to the War Memorial Building stage for a redering of the "Anvil Chorus." The anvil's voice was a dud. "We now put the ring, at least some of it, back in the anvils" Mrs. Andrew stated. "You see how difficult it is to go against tradition in this business."

My guess is they took out the ring by increasing the carbon in the cast iron and put it back in by lowering it. Correct?
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 12/04/06 08:11:36 EST

Ken. . I think that was a line of BS to add mystery to the process. The army made it a point to buy Fisher Eagle anvils because they were quiter thus many people called them "army battlefield anvils". However, there was no plan to make quiet anvils, just a different cheaper method. The later Fishers had a more slender waist than earlier ones thus they ring a little. Although cast iron is dead it will ring if the right shape. Otherwise cast iron bells would not ring. Early English style anvils that were very blocky had very little or no ring but later anvils made of the same materials the same way but with a different shape rang loudly. Fishers are what they are, no magic.
   - guru - Monday, 12/04/06 09:08:19 EST

We are back from the Garden State (New Jersey).

We spent a week cataloging and photographing almost every tool in a 200+ year old blacksmith shop. Lots and lots of bits and pieces. Some interesting tools but not much has changed in our field in 200 years except power tools and this shop had none in its entire history, not even steam or water powered tools.

The two things that stood out were the fact that most of the tools were hand made and that many had been lost in the dirt and gravel floor. Over 200 years at least as many tools as were in use were found buried in the floor. The same was found in a fried's shop that had only been in operation for about 10 years in a similar type location. Good argument against dirt floors.

Playing catchup today. . .
   - guru - Monday, 12/04/06 09:22:47 EST

Magnetic Anomalies: I think my friend Josh Greenwood has the record for that as a personal blacksmith shop. However, there are many scrap yards that are much larger and any decent sized ship blows those away.

Lets see. . steam hammers 1500#, 750#, 500#, 300#, mechanical hammers (2) 150#, (1) 75#. Air compressors. Two weld plattens, one 6 by 12 feet and the other 7 x 7 feet. Several heavy saws. One 7 foot boring mill (turret lathe), 5 foot boring mill, 3 foot boring mill, 4 milling machines, 5 lathes starting at 5 feet down to 13". Misc presses, heavy grinders and tables. Two rolling mills and assorted sheds of "stuff". Not to mention uncounted anvils, swage blocks and cones, hand hammers and contractors tools.

I used to joking call Josh's place the Greenwood magnetic anomaly.

The tricky ones are the temporary magnetic anomalies such as SOFA. They appear for a few days then POOF they are gone. . .
   - guru - Monday, 12/04/06 09:40:13 EST

GURU: if any of the guru that live near the Hickory n.c. area would be so kind as to leave me your e-mail address, I would really like to talk to a smith and experience an experienced smiths skill. Thnx in advance!
   - Andrew Marlin - Monday, 12/04/06 09:44:14 EST

Johnny,WElcome to Anvilfire. look at the iforge demos, upper right dropdown menu. Demo's #24,90,and 91 deal with hinges. Hope these help
   daveb - Monday, 12/04/06 10:13:04 EST


I've made a forge from an old lorry wheel and have set fire bricks into the bottom. Should I put slim bricks around the sides? Are they needed?

On the forge blower front I've heard an old hoover can be used. Have you heard of this? If so, how are the doctored to be able to blow or is it a special kind of hoover you need.

Thanks in advance, it's been troubling me all weekend

   Eifion Williams - Monday, 12/04/06 11:22:13 EST

Forges: Eifion, The steel or iron of the wheel will hold up to the heat for reasonable use. The only need for bricks is to fill holes and to create the proper shape.

Old vacuum cleaners tend to be noisy and put out too much air. However they may be used. You will need to construct a gate valve to regulate the air. Under normal use once a forge fire is burning you only need a gentle breeze, about what a human could blow if they blew continously. While starting a fire you need more air and when heating large pieces. So you need some adjustment.
   - guru - Monday, 12/04/06 11:57:18 EST

Have made 6-hook coat rack that is to be mounted to wall. Will mount through drywall to studs @ 16" centers. Am just beginning my illustrious career in metal working, but hooks did not turn out too badly (maybe primitive is the term). Want to view some examples of 1 inch - 2 inch escutcheons, hand forged, that I might make, punch for screw hole, and use for decorative mounting sites. Have tried the google search, but only come up with machine manufactured items. I do not want to buy these, but need ideas to make. Thanks in advance.

Dick B
   Dick B - Monday, 12/04/06 13:05:49 EST

John Scancella - meeting locations vary - the December meeting is a plant tour of the Bruce Mansfield power plant in Shippingport, PA. We should be back to more normal locations in the New Year, starting with a meeting on January 20, 2007 at the Depreciation Lands museum, south of Butler, PA. February 10 - John Groll's shop nera Pittsburg's South Side, Mar. 11 demos at Old Econmy and Jymm Hoffman's shop - both in Ambridge, PA and a brass pour in April at Rice's Landing in Greene county south of Pittsburgh off route 79. The group web site is www.paaba.net

Annual membership for the group is I believe $15.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 12/04/06 13:36:01 EST

I am seeing some Damascus steel sheets coming from Japan that are actually "Sandwich Damascus Steel Sheets made by using 2 pieces of 39 layers Damascus steel sheets(OCR13 steel) with a middle layer of 8CR13MOV steel sheet. Can you tell me about this and is it good for knife blades.
   Mike Hill - Monday, 12/04/06 13:45:52 EST

Mike Hill; what is the carbon content of the middle layer?

Dick B; IIRC Weyger's "The complete Modern Blacksmith" discusses making decorative escutions from punchouts, here in the Southwest we have a lot of decorative clavos (Frank did I get that right?) in use made a lot of different ways.

Eifion: anything that's sucking air in has to be blowing it out somewhere. One forge I built I used a small "handyvac" that I removed the bag from leaving a round pipe with air coming out of it. Being a universal motor I was able to use an old fashioned rheostat to control the speed.

andrew B; do it up right and use some real wrought iron! They used low carbon knives for over 1000 years so I guess they found it usable. By the end of the migration period and start of the early middle ages, (viking times) a decent knife would have some carbon in it though soft swords are reported in the sagas so he might me trying to for one of those. Neither mild steel or 5160 is accurate for that period though. Low carbon WI or WI derrived steels would be what was used.

   Thomas P - Monday, 12/04/06 14:32:08 EST

The Carbon content is .75%
   - Mike Hill - Monday, 12/04/06 14:42:44 EST

the Carbon content is 0.75%
   - Mike Hill - Monday, 12/04/06 14:43:24 EST

the carbon content it 0.75%
   - Mike Hill - Monday, 12/04/06 14:44:28 EST

the carbon content is 0.75%
   Mike Hill - Monday, 12/04/06 14:45:27 EST

Newby question:
I've come upon some rail road spikes and have been making a few knifes from some of them - This weekend I started shaping a blade on the forge and was pulled away to help a friend in need. I let the spike air cool (was at a red heat) and plan on finishing next week- Was this the correct way to cool the iron or did I ruin it?

   Bob D - Monday, 12/04/06 15:50:58 EST

on cooling hot spikes- the spikes are marked hc
   Bob D - Monday, 12/04/06 15:55:59 EST

I have found two crank champion blowers in my grandpa's storage shack, one is missing the handle, the other will crank so far and then stop, I haven't taken it apart yet, but any ideas what might cause this? Probably some built up rust?
   - Boogerman - Monday, 12/04/06 16:57:50 EST

Dick B.

If you cut out a 3/16" thick plate minimum and hammer chamfer the edges, that should be enough. You could clip off the corners or radius the corners, which shouldn't take long. I would use a screw hole in each corner.

Thomas P.

My Spanish is fluid, not fluent. My old books agree that a door boss, a bossed up "washer" with a central hole for a nail, is "el chatón", and the nail itself is the clavo. What Dick will be making, I think may be called an "escudo" (escutcheon).
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/04/06 17:43:53 EST

can someone look this up on ebay?? this link should take you right to the page, its somekind of "special " alloy that is oil hardening, supposed to be easily worked ,,,,,is this for real? kinda pricy at roughly $23 with shipping,,,,,,,,, http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=140000621801&sspagename=ADME:L:RTQ:US:1 thanks,, i'm just curious weather or not this could make a good knife,,, and apoximatly what size is .37?? like the nearest 1/16th or 32nd
   mike - Monday, 12/04/06 18:01:43 EST

I've been using my home-made propane forge for about 3 days now (one day on an almost empty tank), and just today the valves started freezing horribly fast. How can I keep this from happening? I was using de-icer but it didn't work as I was told it would by my father. I am using a forced air set up, and after about half and hour the propane pressure dropped so low the flame wouldn't keep. Any suggestions? Many Thanks!

   - Rob - Monday, 12/04/06 19:23:39 EST

Ken, You are welcome on the Fisher article.
   SGensh - Monday, 12/04/06 20:01:39 EST

Does anyone know where to get the plans to build, what I've heard called, a treadle torch? I bought an item from Gasaver which I believe the fundamental part to make one. The oxy/gas torch can have a pilot flame going and a foot pedal which turns on the torch. This is a nice no-hands way to turn on and off a rosebud tip for heating purposes. I saw one in a flypress video once and another made by an unknown blacksmith in Arizona.
   Russell Shumway - Monday, 12/04/06 20:41:16 EST

Hello, I would like your opinion on JHM anvils. I will be purchasing my first anvil shortly and have settled on a new 260lb. JHM Competitor. Thanks you.
   - Ed Kerr - Monday, 12/04/06 20:55:35 EST

Russell, The heart of this device is an "Economizer Valve".

It operates by a lever and turns off both oxygen and fuel. It contains a pilot flame to relight the torch. Normally the torch is hung on the lever to shut off the fuel. However, folks have set them up to be foot operated to allow hands free operation. I believe our old friend Peter Fels was one of the first to rig up one of these.

The Economizer Valve is available from better welding suppliers.
   - guru - Monday, 12/04/06 20:58:34 EST

Freezing Valves: Rob, This is the result of drawing gas faster than the cylinder volume will allow. Propane is a cryogenic liquid. As it evaporates it absorbs heat. Normally the heat is absorbed from the remaining liquid and and the steel of the cylinder. As the liquid is used the cylinder can produce less gas. The freezing you are seeing is frost from the air where the still too cold gas is flowing out the valve and regulator.

In cold weather this is more of a problem than in warm. However, the solution is always the same, a larger gas bottle.

In a pinch you can anchor the bottle in a tank of water to provide the heat sink necessary to evaporate the gas.

See our FAQ, Gas Facts.
   - guru - Monday, 12/04/06 21:04:52 EST

JMH: Ed, Those are good American made anvils and well finished. I have no experiance with them but they are popular with Farriers who are their primary market.

AISI 4340-61 Steel Mike, I have never heard of it. However, ALL blade steels must be carefully heat treated to get the best performance. Care in heat treating makes a huge difference in all steels and more so in exotics.
   - guru - Monday, 12/04/06 21:20:26 EST


We only need the 12 digit number to look up the item on eBay.

The analysis of the steel listing its alloying elements is hardly different than regular ol' 4340; however, steels are made of "aircraft quality", which this may be.

I always look at the end-use of the steel as recommended by the manufacturer. The seller lists airplane landing gears and other forms of gearing. My old "Forging Industry Handbook" talks about the typical applications of 4340 being "Heavy Duty crankshafts, rear axle shafts and gears, structural parts". My question is why would a guy want to make a knife out of it? And while we're on the subject, why are there so many inquiries about 5160 as a knife steel? The typical applications for 5160 are auto springs and torsion bars. The 60 means that the steel has a carbon content of 0.60%

What is so wrong with getting on line with McMaster Carr, MSC, or Travers Tool, and purchasing a 3 foot length of 5/8" round, scale free, drill rod, either W1, water hardening, or 01, oil hardening? The W1 drill rod, of about 1% carbon, is your typical knife steel used over the years. The surface of it will stain. Big deal. The good high carbon chefs knives all stain. If it stains, polish it.

When I went to school, .37 meant 37/100ths, so I suppose 37/100ths of one inch would be slightly over 1/3 of an inch, roughly rounding it off.

   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/04/06 21:59:36 EST

Hey man, has anyone ever asked or suggested that your forum have all the new stuff at the beginning of the page rather than having to scroll down to get to the newest stuff? Some people coming here for the first time might think nobody has been here for a bit. Just a thought.
   Paul Wilson - Monday, 12/04/06 22:01:56 EST

Dick B,

Check on the 'net for "The Blacksmith's Journal", a publication put out by Jerry Hoffmann. He has dne many decorative escutcheons over the years and you should be able to order the back issues online by download.

BOb D,

What you did was fine. Those spikes don't have enough carbon to make them terribly sensitive to cooling rates. They don't make very good knives either, if you want a knife that will take and hold a keen edge.


.37" is about 3/8" (.375"). You need to be able to understand fractions if you're going to be successful as a blacksmith.
   vicopper - Monday, 12/04/06 22:20:57 EST

I purchased a Mayer 50LB trip hammer recently. I need to know the motor HP requirements and the drive shaft RPM. Any help would be very much appreciated. Thank You!
   Russell Roosevelt - Monday, 12/04/06 22:23:39 EST

Paul Wilson: I think it is set up this way to make it easy for us non-technical dummies, just a continuous list of posts dating back to about '98 in archives.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 12/04/06 22:36:47 EST

i'm interested in making a good knife that will hold a great edge but also the higher the carbon count the better the back side of the edge would be for useing as a flint strinker,,, within reason,,,,, thats y this metal sounded good for what im looking to make,,,,,and thanks,,, sounds more like a ebay scam to me,,,,
   mike - Monday, 12/04/06 22:44:59 EST

Annealing question: I am a newbee, forged my first blade at the TrackRock Hammerin in October, bitten by the bug and have been accumulating 'stuff', built a 2 brick gas muffle/furnace, acquired some vermiculite and put together a hot box for the purpose of annealing the steel, been practicing on mild steel from Home Depot, have 5160 for the 'real stuff'. The mild steel is for practice, hammer control, test the muffle/furnace, test the 'anneal hot box', etc.. And, yes, I have read the FAQ on Heat Treat on this site which states to anneal 5160 "Anneal at 1525°F then cool rapidly to 1300°F and cool to 1200°F at no more than 20°F/h for 5 hours." Here is the situation and my question: I used a large popcorn tin, a cylinder 10" tall by 10" diameter, filled with vermiculite (aka masonry loose fill insulation), heated my simulated blade to a red orange - orange heat and into the vermiculite. Six hours later the metal was just warm. The above quote from this site's FAQ states that the metal is heated to 1525 then rapidly cooled to 1300 then cooled at a rate of 20 degrees per hour. After 6 hours I should have burnt my finger when I touched the metal. Other forums, books, etc., have stated for proper annealing to cool overnite. Therein lies my confusion. `1st question: Is the popcorn tin a proper device for an anneal hot box? What materials have others used? 2nd question/statement: I believe I have the proper material, i.e., vermiculite, yet the rate of cooling was too fast. An ideas, suggestions, comments are welcomed. 3rd question: I used 5160 and will use 5160 as that is what I was given and have about 5 feet of it. Is 5160 ok for a beginner? If not, your recommendations please. 4th question: How does one achieve a 20 degree rate of cooling per hour without the use of an thermostatically controlled oven? Thank you.
   Randy Scott - Monday, 12/04/06 22:55:08 EST

Ed Kerr
You gits yourself one of those 260 lb jhm anvils and you will never want or need another.
   - Namenda - Monday, 12/04/06 22:55:21 EST

The forge pot im looking at to get started is marked as a "coal forge firepot." Im planning on using coke from the bag, so as not to disturb the neighbors. Even with my small project use, will there be a heat issue from using a coal firepot with bagged coke as my fuel source?
   - Sebastian B. - Monday, 12/04/06 23:29:09 EST

Hey Guru, could you send me the details about your NJ trip? I'm right across the stream and would love to see what you saw.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 12/04/06 23:47:14 EST

Randy Scott,

Answer is, You don't. The oven is about the only way to get that slow a cooling rate, unless you're using really massive hunks of material. Stock for knife making is way too thin to cool that slowly without an oven.

The 5160 will make a perfectly fine knife, and is a pretty forgiving steel for a beginner to work with, in my experience. W1 or O1 would be even better, but the 5160 will be fine.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/05/06 00:16:08 EST

Ed Kerr: Centaur Forge lists the 260 LB JHM at $1,016. Also take a look on eBay. At the moment there are four large anvils listed: 310 lb Peter Wright, $856, no bids; 360 lb PW, $655 (14 bids); 230 lb unknown, but might be a Hay-Budden, $400, no bids, a bit rough; 250 lb Fisher in what appears to be excellent condition, $250, no bids. Either of the last two would likely fit your needs.

Sebastian B: No, coke is merely coal in which someone else has removed most of the impurities so it is predominately carbon. Won't bother a good firepot any more than burning coal and turning it into coke there.

One problem on buying a brand new anvil is it is likely like buying a new car. It will depreciate when driven off the lot. With an old anvil likely they will only appreciate in value.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 12/05/06 04:33:48 EST

On a follow-up to the 1951 Fisher article it said, "He (Clark Fisher) designed the metal plate that holds railroad rails together and made them originally of cast iron. They are still known as "Fish" - short for Fisher - plates. Fish plates probably brought the firm its first "big" money."

Another source said these plates were developed by Robert Livingston Stevens (son of John Stevens - which is known as the father of American railroads) in the early 1830s. He is also given credit for designing the T-rail and railroad spikes still used today and little changed in some 170 years.

My dictionary says the term fishplate originated 1850-1855 and it comes from from fiche - fastening, derived of ficher to fasten.

If anything Clark's father, Mark, might have been somehow involved since his Trenton foundry was started about 1843 - about the time of the expansion of steel tracked railroad service in the Northeast.

I suspect ficher and Fisher was just a coincidence.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 12/05/06 06:36:43 EST

Randy, If your 5160 is still hard after your annealing process, heat several larger chunks of steel along with your blade. Put the chunks into the vermiculite first and then put the blade it. Separate the blade from the chunks with 1-2" of vermiculite. However, the annealing is intended only to soften the steel to make it easier to file and shape. If it is soft enough to work, don't worry about the exact cooling rate.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 12/05/06 08:46:22 EST

Gravitational Vortex; I belive a gravitational vortex has been located in Washington DC for about 200 years now. Money is sucked in and never comes back out.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 12/05/06 08:54:43 EST

0.37" Dimension: Sorry I missed that. . .375 is 3/8 but should be rounded .38. Steel gauge sizes do not go that thick so it is either a typo, bad rounding or very odd plate. If all else fails ask the seller.

4340 and 4340H: There is a premium grade of 4340 listed in the Heat Treaters Guide. However, its properties are given as exactly the same as standard 4340. At its strongest tempered strength it is 52HRC and its hardest temper is listed at 58HRC.

5160 Heat Treating: The information quoted in our FAQ is from the ASM Heat Treater's Guide, Standard Practices and Procedures for Steel. This is pretty much the industry standard and expects the facilities of an industrial shop, not seat of the pants blacksmiths heat treats.

Slow Annealing: This can be achieved using a large block of steel with the small piece laying on it or between two large pieces. The prefered media for annealing for over a century was quick lime. Prior to that it was light dry wood ash. Vermiculite is a modern replacement without nearly the thermal isolation of the quick lime. However, quick lime is highly reactive to water and drys the skin. As a reative chemical it is looked down upon in the world of political correctness. The only time I have used it was in another's shop where they kept a full bag on the floor.

On most modern alloy steels if you need them annealed you buy them annealed and do what you need in the annealed state. When you buy these steels that is often a large part of what you are paying for. Once you have lost the anneal then you don't plan on going back.

In many cases normalizing (cooling in air) has replaced annealing. However, in thin sections that air quench you may need to use an annealing medium and hot plate to slow the cooling.

   - guru - Tuesday, 12/05/06 09:16:38 EST

Little Giant Specs: Russell, the 50# hammers came with a 2HP motor but will run on 1.5 just fine. See our Power Hammer Page for more LG specs.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/05/06 09:22:56 EST

Guru, where did you go in NJ? I am really interested in checking it out.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 12/05/06 09:58:47 EST

Nip, I went to Old Millstone Forge in Millstone, NJ (North River Street). Their hours are currently weekends only, April to September. Drop me a mail and I'll send you contact info.

The shop was in continuous operation from the late 1700's to the late 1950's and then as a working museum from then till now. At one time the shop absorbed a wheel wright operation and has those tools as well. They made steamed bent two piece wagon wheels, something I had not seen before.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/05/06 10:22:44 EST

Found a source for welding tables you guys might not have heard of, old safes. We acquired two monstrous old store safes for $1 apiece. It seems that old locksmith shops have these things that have been removed and they are so heavy and/or beat up they can’t sell them. I know the guy we grabbed ours from sure thought he was getting the better end of the deal and loaded them for us on our trailer. Loading/unloading might be the hardest part about the event, our safes weighed 6000# each. After we got them home and off with the loader we slit the quarter inch covering with the torch and jack hammered the 8” of concrete off from around the safe box itself and we had cube of reinforced 1 1/4 steel with a cool door on the side. Toe space was an issue so we welded 1” thick wings on the sides to extend the edge 8”. We use the main chamber to store welding rod with a heat lamp and thermostat inside to keep it at 70 degrees. A side effect is that the table is always pleasantly warm.
   K Nelson - Tuesday, 12/05/06 11:20:52 EST

Old Millstone Forge:

One of our Camp Fenby participants, R.J., works there. She's taking care of my arc welder on a long term loan (until the day I get the new forge built and wired, or maybe longer). I hope to swing by if I ever get to the area. Are you going to post something in the News?

Monetary Vortexes:

Quenchcrack- you have it wrong, the money that flows into Washington flows out again even faster. It actually flows out faster than it comes in! This leaves a great vacuum here, which can suck a great deal of common sense out of a number of normally intelligent individuals.

Once, when crossing the Ellipse, I came upon a couple of rat holes. I thought my fortune was made, since everybody has always told me that the government throws millions of dollars down various rat holes. Alas, the Rangers have refused my repeated requests to “get to the bottom of this,” and will not allow me to blithely dig up a national landmark in pursuit of the truth. They contend that all I’ll find is rats.

Another day, trying to save the taxpayers some money (or at least making sure it’s well spent) on the banks of the Potomac.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 12/05/06 12:04:17 EST

RE: Old Safe used for welding tables--There was a story in the local paper (Davis Enterprise) this last week where they found several musterd (sp?) gas containers in the door of a safe they removed from a store in Woodland CA. These were placed INSIDE the door so if a thief cut into the door, trying to break into the safe, it would puncture the container(s) and poison the perp. Out of 6? containers, two were empty but four were full and needed HazMat disposal, with all the associated song and dance. You might want to CAREFULLY look inside the door.

Clear and cool in the Sacramento Valley of CA. Frost has nipped the tips of my jackaranda trees, but this is at the limits for this plant, which came from the Brazil highlands, considered by some the most beautiful tree in the world. There ate two other jackarandas here in the Peoples Republic of Davis, my four more than double the total. One of the others is a full-sized tree, so hope springs eternal
   - David Hughes - Tuesday, 12/05/06 12:38:35 EST

Mike Hill: Chrome, Moly, Vanadium with 75 points carbon should make a great blade if heat treated appropriately---deep hardening with a fine grain.

Mike; I'd try making your knife out of a big old file to get high carbon content.

Ken, firepots designed for coke use are *MUCH* heavier than those designed just for coal. If the end user is planning for light duty hobby type work there should be no problem but if they plan to spend a 3 day weekend cranking out pattern welded billets then the firepot may suffer a shorter lifespan.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/05/06 12:44:59 EST

K. Nelson: I'm glad that worked out well, but don't try it with any safe which wasn't designed for security: There are a lot of "Fire Safes" out there which are almost all concrete. A typical fire safe will yield to a burglar with carpenter's tools (skill saw, pry bar and a framing hammer) in WAY less than an hour. I believe the minimum UL security rating involves holding up for 15 minutes.

Now, one out of a jewelry store or pawnshop will probably do the job, as would a lot of small bank safes. . . OTOH one out of a title company might well not have enough steel in it to be worth moving. Gun safes generally are just fire safes.
   John Lowther - Tuesday, 12/05/06 12:46:16 EST

RE: Poison gas in safe doors--from the 12/3/06 Davis Enterprise--

Nick Concolino's expertise in explosives takes him all over the country. But a recent call from West Sacramento took him back in time.

The retired Davis police captain recently played a role in identifying the contents of several canisters found hidden in the door of a 1930s-era safe discovered at a West Sacramento demolition site. It's believed the canisters contained chloropicrin, a "cousin" of mustard gas that was used during World War I . . . .

Rest of the story much as I describe it above.
   - David Hughes - Tuesday, 12/05/06 12:58:23 EST

5160 anneal.

I went to the FAQs Heat Treating and can't make sense out of the 5160 annealing sentence.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/05/06 13:17:44 EST

To vicopper, quenchcrack and guru: Thank you for responding to my inquiry.
   Randy Scott - Tuesday, 12/05/06 13:17:56 EST

To Frank Turley: I did not mean to overlook your response. It was not there when I started my reply and was there when my reply was posted.
   Randy Scott - Tuesday, 12/05/06 13:23:26 EST

My general experience has found that generally accepted practice is to round to the even number when right in the middle.
For example, .375 becomes .38 and .125 becomes .12.
   - Tom H - Tuesday, 12/05/06 13:25:32 EST

SAE 5160: Frank, that is what the book says. Cool rapidly to 1300°F, then slow to 1200°F. For a predominantly spheroidized structure the same applies but at 10°F/hr instead of 20°F/hr. There are four methods listed for annealing 5160. The other two methods call for cooling rapidly to 1250°F and holding for 6 hours for pearlitic, 10 hours for spheroidized.

   - guru - Tuesday, 12/05/06 14:45:35 EST

hey just wonderin how long it takes you guys to make some tongs?
   - newbiesmith - Tuesday, 12/05/06 16:30:34 EST

Thomas P: I stand corrected. Spoiled by having one of the SOF&A Zeller firepots I guess.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 12/05/06 16:35:49 EST

Time to make tongs: It depends on the size and style. But small tongs normally take from 45 minutes to 1:30. A lot depends on your forging skill, welding skill and or if you have help such as a power hammer. I've watched Peter Ross of Williamsburg make tongs from the wrong size stock, drawing the reins and making the rivet in about 1/2 hour. But here you are talking one of the best. Working alone with marginal skills you can plan on each half taking an hour or so for a total of two hours.

Making tongs is good practice for a newby and gives a sense of satisfaction in knowing you can make your own tools. But it is far more economical to buy tongs from a professional.

Beginner tongs are also often clumsy. For many years I called the heavy useless tongs "farmer" tongs until I saw a crate full of them. They had come from an old manual training school where they taught blacksmithing. Student tongs are unmistakable. They have reins much too heavy for their length and jaw size and the jaws rarely fit anything.

Old tongs were almost always made by forging the bits then forge welding on the reins. The best have reins that taper all the way to the ends but many tongs have cylindrical reins. With a power hammer or forge roll tongs are made from one piece.

Old hand made tongs often have multiple forge welds as they were often apprentice practice pieces or were made from available scrap. This is also a good way to make the long taper of the reins, welding taking less effort than drawing out if you are good at welding.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/05/06 18:19:42 EST


Working by myself at the anvil, with two 3/4" square bars in the fire for flat jawed tongs, forge welding on the reins, fitting the jaws, adjusting the reins, making and using the rivet, it takes me about one hour; no breaks. Sometimes it takes a little longer, if Murphy of Murphy's law, interferes.

   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/05/06 20:01:44 EST

Guru's absolutely correct about making tongs, real time consuming but great practice and very satisfying when done correctly. Now, if you want to "cheat" a wee bit, get you some old wornout hoof nippers, remove the rivet, heat and shape the ends for whatever purpose you need (don't quench the ends, they're carbon steel and might crack from the temp change), re-align and re-rivet them and you don't have to mess with the reins portion of the job so you save a lot of work time. Plus you can usually get used nippers for 5-8 bucks apiece which is considerably cheaper than pro made tongs.
   Thumper - Tuesday, 12/05/06 20:14:05 EST

thanks for all of your info, i guess the type of tongs i was talking about was either ones to hold squar sock or round, cant remember the names
   - newbiesmith - Tuesday, 12/05/06 21:55:35 EST

newbiesmith, Bolt tongs.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/05/06 22:50:32 EST

Old Safes,
Also be careful that old firesafes are often insulated with the concrete like stuff AND asbestos mixture.

The UL rating "TL-15" is 15 miniutes in a workshop environment of getting the door open and I believe without destruction of its contents.
Even given the advantage of virtually any desired tool and the design and blueprints available to study before attempting entry.
(I dont know if that includes set-up time for example to attack with a large milling machine

Typically a TL-15 rated safe is constructed of solid slabs of mild steel at least 1" thick, The door is a slab 1.5"
There will be super hardened inside plates to protect critical points of the locking system from drilling attack.

The typical old concreted firesafes were made before UL listings etc. And may or may not have internal security features of hardplates etc. Or as we learned poison gas canister !!
   - Sven - Tuesday, 12/05/06 22:51:56 EST

Aren't there basically two different types of safes with two different construction materials-- those intended to thwart thieves, and others designed to protect the contents from fire (for a specified length of time)?
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 12/06/06 01:03:01 EST

Yes thats basically correct, Fire safes and security safes. Security safes may be awarded the "TL" tool resistant ratings.

But there are alot of security safes that are built for fire protection standards also.

In very general terms here,
Often that additional insulation what may consist of a cement and silicon carbide like nuggets and its steel outer shell gives added protection will also make an other wise TL-15 upgraded to TL-30 rating.

Its a nice thing to be buddies with the Safe and vault people, Not only for workbenches made of vault doors, But they always have old bank teller cabinets what are an excellent assembly of bearing roller steel drawers, The makings of excellent workshop furniture.
   - Sven - Wednesday, 12/06/06 01:43:49 EST


I suspect you might have been thinking of double-V jawed tongs. They can hold either round or square. Bolt tongs for round stock hold round nice, but not square so well.

You can still make your own out of farrier nippers as noted above. Weld on suitable sized angle iron pieces over the cutter edges and then use a palm grinder to remove the stock with the inside of the V's. Angle iron works well off the rack for 3/8" and 5/8". For other sizes you have to use the next size larger and take off some of the sides. As an example look at eBay #280033810497.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 12/06/06 01:51:24 EST

can anybody tell me if a five horse single phase motor would run a samual plat 160lbs mechanical hammer i had a 7.5hp but do not have enough incoming supply the 5hp is 12amps capicitor start capicitor run and i can run it in the shop i have seen this hammer run with a 3 phase 5hp motor is there much difference in power between the two
   david.hannah - Wednesday, 12/06/06 02:46:52 EST

Can anyone provide some information on wood steel? For example, what it is how it differs from other types of steel, how it is made.

   - Rashaan B. - Wednesday, 12/06/06 03:06:31 EST

Hey, Paul Wilson, didja ever think of looking down in the lower left hand corner of this page to where it says "Last Post"? Do that, and then start scrolling backwards.
   - TheOther PW(3dogs) - Wednesday, 12/06/06 03:48:16 EST

As far as high speed tong making goes, I think the "Dempsey Twist" is slicker'n snot on a Teflon doorknob.
   - 3dogs - Wednesday, 12/06/06 03:59:53 EST

guru iwant to start blacsmithing yet i cannot find an affordable anvil(under $100) any advice?
   C.J. - Wednesday, 12/06/06 08:46:05 EST

C.J.: Goto harbor freigt and by 1 of there 110 lb 1s.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 12/06/06 09:07:39 EST

Platt Power Hammer: David, Little Giant used a 3HP on their 100 pound hammer and a 7.5 HP on their 250 pound hammer. Your 160 pound hammer is right where a 175 pound hammer at 5HP would fit on the Little Giant Graph. Note that LG was prone to using oversize motors so this should be plenty.

Little Giant Motor's Graphed

Note however that speed is an issue. If you try to run your hammer faster than the hammers on this curve it may not work. See the Little Giant specs

The 100# ran 275 RPM and the 250# ran 195 RPM. Half way between these is 235 PRM. However, the dynamics of a mechanical power hammer is related to its stroke and spring. Some with a short stroke and stiff spring will run much faster than a hammer with a long loose stroke.

Starting power is irrevelent in a power hammer motor as the load is not applied until after the motor is started. Note that when you reduce motor sizes you often reduce the available inertia which is directly related to the motor armature size. Many modern high efficiency motors have light weight armatures that do not have the same inertial loading capacity as an old heavy frame motor of the same power.

SO. . your hammer SHOULD be able to run on 5HP at 235 RPM but that may not be the optimum RPM for the hammer.

Generally it is OK to run a hammer slower than optimum. However, if you run it faster the hammer hits lighter as it goes faster when it passes the optimum speed. At this point the hammer gets out of timing and does what we call "The Little Giant Hula" with the linkage going down when the ram goes UP and vise versa. Not a pretty sight.

For the absolute best information on hammer speeds see our review of the Dave Manzer Little Giant Video titled "How to cure the Bang Tap BLues". We also sell this video on CD-ROM.

   - guru - Wednesday, 12/06/06 09:12:40 EST

Cheap Anvils: CJ, I want a good used HD 3/4 ton pickup for $1000 or less but I doubt I will find one. I want to retire to Costa Rica but that is doubtful on my current income. That is life.

The anvil from HF is junk but you get what you pay for.

There was a broken Wilkinson anvil listed on our Hammer-In. It looks ugly and it beat up but even broken and beat up it is infinitely better than the HF junk anvil. However, you would have to travel to central Virgina to get it. Or pay shipping.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/06/06 09:19:11 EST

Wood Steel: Rashaan, I have never heard this term. However, the Japanese make a non-ferrous laminate material called Mokume' Gane' to complement laminated steels. Mokume' Gane' roughly translates to "wood grain".

Laminated steel can look like wood grain when a simple pattern is used. Laminated steels are made of two or more steel alloys with different content so that when etched one will etch and color more than the other. Nickel content is known to reduce etching and make light in dark etched laminates. High and low carbon steels are also used. This is said to reduce cracking by having the soft steel reinforce the hard steel. There is also a difference in how high and low carbon steels etch but not as much as alloy steels.

For purely decorative use pure iron or very low carbon steel and pure nickel are laminated and etched. This produces the most brilliant of color difference when etched.

Laminated steels are made by forge welding multiple layers together in a billet then cutting and rewelding the billet until the layers are as fine or coarse as desired.

THEN there is good old fashioned wrought iron. Wrought has bands or pure iron and silica slag and silica slag bearing iron. When it corrodes the pure iron lasts longer producing a definite wood like effect. However, wrought is not steel and cannot be hardened.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/06/06 09:31:32 EST

Wood Steel = Wooz Steel?
   - Hudson - Wednesday, 12/06/06 10:33:40 EST

I am looking for some info on Fish hook making. How do
you cut the barb? I did a search and got a lot of choices
but I havn't seen anything. On the bright side I've been
looking around on this site for a couple of days now, and
I'm trying to figure out how to add blacksmithing in with
all of my other hobbies!

The hooks I am lookin at are Salmon hooks so they are made
from some pretty heavy stuff. At least heavy for fish hooks.


   Tim - Wednesday, 12/06/06 11:01:57 EST

Guru, at 240bpm my 35# JYH (spare tire type), has done the hula so I run it at 160bpm for now, could a stronger spring the answer? Right now it's running on a motorcycle shock spring. Can't afford the LG Video till after Christmas but I'd like to fool around with tuning it in the meantime.(5 grandkids, 4 kids one wife and a ton of coke have left me "monetarily challenged" for the time being).
   Thumper - Wednesday, 12/06/06 11:16:16 EST

Tongs Note.

I put a Vee-end bit on my bolt tongs; it makes them more versatile. Many manufactured bolt tongs had half-round ends. The old Atha bolt tongs came in many different sizes, all bits half-round.

The majority of hand forged bolt tongs (sometimes called hollow bit tongs) had the boss/rivet area formed of flat stock. The small diagonal "2nd shoulder" that is found at the base of a flat tong jaw is often absent, is not needed, because there is not the same kind of a mating/clearance situation. There are different approaches to making bolt tongs. I start with flat stock and put a ¼ twist, hidden, in the curved neck portion to align the jaw properly. The 1917 edition of Harcourt's book* shows a carefully forged bolt tong starting with round stock.

A half round bit could be done with bottom swage and top fuller. A vee-bit is done into a bottom 90º vee swage with an appropriate top tool. Square mild steel held on the diamond will work in a pinch. Some smiths hot split the bit lengthwise and then open it up and forge it to shape.

Several ways to skin a cat.

* "Elementary Forge Practice"

   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/06/06 11:44:00 EST

Thumper, a heavier spring should increase the max RPM the hammer can run.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/06/06 11:45:25 EST

Barbs: Tim these are cut in the steel while annealed with a very sharp cold chisel. It helps to have a small swage to support the hook stock. Hardening is done with the steel protected from oxidation.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/06/06 11:49:44 EST

More Barbs: In factory production there is a good chance they are using spring temper wire and doing the barbing and, bending and looping in the as-delivered steel. This means using very high carbon HSS steel for the barbing tools. In high production operations it is not unusual to have tools of this type that are continually sharpened as part of an automatic process.

   - guru - Wednesday, 12/06/06 11:53:51 EST

Not a good idea #338-06: So cold in shop my plumber's propane bottle wouldn't put out heat. Put three in my oven at 200 degrees to warm them up. Two near empty, one half full. As I was taking them out the fill valve on the most empty one let go. Fortunately it was an electric oven.

When to the scrapyard and bought an old refrigerator to put a small light bulb in.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 12/06/06 11:59:42 EST

On the Safes,
We have no idea the pedigree of these babies but both have had the locks pulled, I assume since he was a locksmith that something broke and wasn’t worth fixing. We put their age around the 1950’s but that is just an off the cuff guess on style. You could clearly see they were security safes because even the locking safety deposit boxes inside were 1” plate. The outer doors are both beveled round plate that close and lock with a crank. With the locks removed we hope that any booby traps are long since gone. I don’t see where the door has a hollow large enough to hide a canister, sounds solid in all the places we smacked with a hammer. We don’t plan on fishing for them so they can just stay there. Drilled and taped for the vice and with a series of holes drilled for bending pins we are very happy. Our only detraction is it is about 3” too high, but there is not much we can do about that!
   K Nelson - Wednesday, 12/06/06 12:11:06 EST

About flux I know you can use borax I here you can use clean sand, boric acid but is there anything else?
   Terry - Wednesday, 12/06/06 13:55:25 EST

Flux: Terry, Fluxes vary for the material. If you are talking about iron/steel then borax and boric acid are the base. For high alloy steels you add flourite (flourspar - 98% Calcium Flourite) powder. Some fluxes add iron filings or powder but this is not recommended if you are making laminated steel as the added iron is a contaminate.

These "traditional" 19th and 20th century fluxes are also the same thing found in welding rod electrode coatings.

Sand used must be clean silica sand. Other sands and dirty sand just introduce dirt or make welding impossible. Clay is often used and Mud Dauber nests are an insect select grade of clay that works well.

Many folks forge weld without flux but I think more use it than do not.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/06/06 14:55:10 EST

Many years ago I made Shark hooks of 5/16" 1095 rod. (That is higher carbon than I needed, but I had it.) I forged the barbs and cut them hot with a chisel. I forged and cut the barbs before bending the hook in a jig. Oil quenched and tempered to blue. I flatened end of the shank and drilled for a clevis pin.
   - John Odom - Wednesday, 12/06/06 15:37:09 EST

OLD Safes: Most of those being retired are because they were concrete lined. The concrete lining gave safes their Xhour fire rating. However, as the concrete ages it loses moisture and the rating drops. When the fire rating drops below the necessary requirment (often set by insurance companies) the safe must be replaced. The new safes have a plastic foam insulation that gases off keeping the contents cool. A safe can be be both fire and security rated. Unless the safe is damaged the security rating is usually not effected by age. But virtually all concrete insulated fire resistant safes are beyond their useful lives. Occasionally someone will remove the outer shell and concrete and replace it with new material but for the most part this is impractical and costly. However, it IS done for historical reasons.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/06/06 16:14:13 EST


I'd think about putting a thermostat on that light bulb. Or at least make durn sure the bulb won't bring the temperature over 80 or 100 degrees (which it surely would if you accidentaly left it on in warmer weather).

If a valve opened and sprayed liquid propane on the hot glass bulb, it would shatter. A bare filiment makes a pretty good ignitor. Of course a propane leak in a closed space is bad news even without an immediate source of ignition.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 12/06/06 19:17:22 EST

Weld without flux? I guess if you had a really low 02 level in your forge you could get away with it....... I think..... Could you elaborate? I would love to know more. After having to re-line my gas forge from flux damage, no flux welding sounds great
   Jed Depew - Wednesday, 12/06/06 19:20:17 EST

A quick tip on identifing asbestos. If you are working with anything from the past, say before about 1983 or so, and discover what you think may be asbestos, a simple test is to take a small sample and heat it with a lighter till it glows. If the material is still intact after glowing, it is probably asbestos. If it melts or burns it is probably not asbestos.
Be aware that almost any fiber in the right size is now strongly suspected of having effects on the lung similar to asbestos. If I remember correctly, the size of concern is in the 1 x 4 micron size. Since asbestos is a straw likw structure, it is very aerodymanic, and does not quickly settle, allowing more time to be exposed. Also remember that the average human, in decent light can see an object 40 microns or bigger, so the fibers that hurt are invisible to the eye. Personally, I try to treat any friable fibers with healthy respect. It is not a one fiber and you drop dead kind of thing, but I avoid creating or breathing fibers. The fibers of Kaowool are to my knowledge, not hollow, so they descend quicker, and to my knowledge not as likely to cause the cancers, but still a risk.
Be aware that asbestos is a naturally occuring mineral, and in some parts of the world are part of the environment. Some vermiculite has asbestos fibers as mined and packaged.
   - ptree - Wednesday, 12/06/06 19:33:09 EST

"The TL-15 safe will resist entry when attacked on the door with common hand tools, picking tools, mechanical or portable electric tools, grinding tools, carbide drills, and pressure applying devices or mechanisms for a total attack working time of fifteen minutes."

That's a little more than I remembered, though I could have sworn there was a "consumer" security level that was even below TL-15. . .
   John Lowther - Wednesday, 12/06/06 19:42:12 EST

k nelson,
Ever hear about the truck that got caught under bridge because the cargo box was too high? A kid thought of a remedy and yelled it out from the stalled traffic behind the truck he said,"Let some air out of the tires!", the truck got unstuck and passed under the bridge with no problem. In reverse engineering fashion, to get the safe the right hight here's 3 options; 1. Remove the legs/feet or rollers 2. If the floors not concrete but dirt, dig a 3" hole and place it in it 3. If possible to do and not create too much problem with the layout of the shop, build a work platform around it 3" high. Good luck.
   Thumper - Wednesday, 12/06/06 20:53:16 EST

Ken, I live in Idaho with cold winters. To keep my horses water from freezing I use a tank heater. It's like one of those old "plug in your lighter" coffee heaters, a bare coil but bigger. If your shops big enough (or out back if you want), get you a 100gal water tank, it has the universal heater opening built right in, fill it partially with H2O, plug it in and put your tanks in there and top it off. If they bob around put cinder blocks on top of them. Both items are readily available in any farm supply store. That'll keep them from freezing. You could probably run them from underwater if you had a waterproof regulator.
   Thumper - Wednesday, 12/06/06 21:09:22 EST

Welding without Flux: Jed, This is a very common practice among many smiths. However, I doubt you will get there easily with a gas forge. It is commonly practiced in coal forges where it is (relatively) easy to maintain a carburizing atmosphere.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/06/06 21:15:01 EST

Uncle Atli: I too was a government employee at one time. I worked for the US Geological Survey, Building 25, Denver Federal Center. I worked in the Hydrology lab doing permiability studies on sewer sludge. Not sure why that was important but it paid my bills. I remember that at the end of the fiscal year, we all were assigned to spend the remaining budget money so they did not cut our budget the next year. I bought some dandy lab glassware. Not sure what it was, though. I think the Denver Federal Center is now an outlet mall or something.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 12/06/06 21:22:14 EST


In the British Isles, they seldom use flux for forge welding. A friend was in England working, and he said that they take a lemon heat and quickly wire brush the heck out of the pieces. Then, they get them right back in the fire for the welding heat.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/06/06 21:28:27 EST

Asbestos, Kaowool and other fibers: In the right quantity even cotton fibers cause problems such as brown lung in textile mills. I worry more about fiberglass than the others as I have installed insulation numerous times and the air is always filled with glass fibers. The same is true when using an angle grinder. The fiberglass backing fills the air as the wheels are consumed. When buffing with cotton buffing wheels the cotton dust is probably as great a danger as the toxic metal particles.

I've had some exposure to asbestos while working on automotive brakes. I've know people that did nothing but brake work and I worry about them. I suspect there are far more auto mechanics that have had serious asbestos exposures far greater than in any other industry.

On asbestos abatement a friend of mine asks, "Would you rather be in a room with a bucket of asbestos spilled on the floor or a bucket of gasoline?"

Those that have been educated to panic level by fear mongering news reports would pick the gasoline over the asbestos. This is stupid. There is a distinct probability of death by inhalation of the gasoline fumes, and a slight but distinct possibility of fire from static and the gasoline while there is a microscopic chance of anything happening from the asbestos. Yet we handle gasoline daily if we drive an automobile and are cooped up in small box next to an amount significantly more than a bucket full.

Think, get your priorities straight.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/06/06 21:32:59 EST

David Hanna: Is that 12 amps at 440V or higher? If it is at 230V that motor will only make about 2.5 HP. NO TWO WAYS ABOUT IT.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 12/06/06 21:39:00 EST

Daved Hanna:

Mr. Boyer is correct about your motor not being 5hp if it draws 12 amps at 220v. I suspect you have on of those motors that is "rated" as 5hp based upon stall loading. The true horsepower is based on something like 740 watts equals one horsepower. Basically, 12 amps at 220v is 2640 watts or about 3.5hp, before you factor in losses. The big box stores were fond of using starting load or stall load as the rating on their compressor motors for years. So a 5hp compressor from Sears was about half the output of a 5hp compressor from an industrial maker like Ingersoll-Rand, who rated their motors honestly.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/06/06 22:12:14 EST

Quenchcrack: I think I remember GSA wanting us to move a pile of something from the Denver Federal Center when I worked at the Stockpile a few years ago. Anyway, it looks like it's still there: http://rockyweb.cr.usgs.gov/outreach/dfc.html

   Mike B - Wednesday, 12/06/06 22:17:01 EST

David Hanna: To elaborate a bit, A single phase motor that will equal the 5HP three phase motor will draw about 22 amps with running capacitors or 25+ amps without. This is pretty much the norm for industrial rated 5 HP single phase motors. I too think what You have is a "compressor motor". These slip through some loophole in the NEMA rating system.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 12/06/06 22:44:29 EST

Make B: I intend to use as low of wattage of bulb as I can find. Intend refrigerator for 7018 welding rod, spray paint and the small propane bottles. Really only need it for cold weather - like going into the shop and finding ice on top of the quench bucket.

Refrigerator has a history I'm told. Owned by the local bootlegger (scrapyard guy) before county allowed liquor sales. Sheriff knew what he was doing and would occasionally send a deputy to 'search the place' with them only finding one bottle of Jack Daniels - not worth an arrest or such. Deputy searched for more but just never did bother to look in the frig for some reason.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 12/07/06 01:14:24 EST

Storing Low Hydrogen Stick Electrodes
Low hydrogen stick electrodes must be dry to perform properly. Unopened Lincoln hermetically sealed containers provide excellent protection in good storage conditions. Opened cans should be stored in a cabinet at 250 to 300°F (120 to 150°C).
Source: http://www.lincolnelectric.com/knowledge/articles/content/storing.asp
   - Ntech - Thursday, 12/07/06 09:55:14 EST

Fluxes: My house gets swarmed by mud dauber nests, especially in my windowsills and eaves. I usually just break them up and feed the pupae to my reptiles. It makes sense to use them for flux, the wasps collect only the finest amounts of mud for their nests (I used to study insect behavior).
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 12/07/06 10:31:34 EST

Flux; TGN I think you would be happier with borax for flux, the dirt dauber nest probably worked best for real WI which is much more easily welded.

Asbestos: in my previous 100 year old house some of the duct work has asbestos taped joints which freaked out a friend who was certain we would all die of it. I had to point out that we had only a pound or two of *non*friable that I painted per the instructions of another friend who did asbestos abatement. The friend freaking out had torn out all the plaster and lath in their house which had asbestos in it to strengthen it and had lived in the house while doing it setting an immense ammount free. They were not amused...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/07/06 12:05:26 EST

Thomas; I wonder if the asbestos in the plaster was a feeble attempt at fireproofing. The plaster in my house, ca. 1925, is reinforced with hog bristle.
   3dogs - Thursday, 12/07/06 13:27:33 EST

Asbestos: As has been pointed out, is a naturally-occuring mineral. If you live anywhere near serpentine rock you are probably exposed to it on a daily basis. In my home county (Tuolumne) in CA they used to quarry serpentine for road gravel, and us kids used to pick up examples of asbestos for our rock collections. There are long-fiber and short-fiber varieties (different minerals, I believe), short-fiber when airborn in small particle size is considered the worse of the two.

It increases cancer risk when lodged in the lungs. So does tobacco smoke. Asbestos, though, multiplies the risk. Example: asbestos=cancer risk, smoking=cancer risk, asbestos+smoking=10x cancer risk (I made up that 10x number, but the idea is right).

Risk is a moving target. Exposure to one fiber=low risk, exposure to many fibers=high risk. Hard to quantify. Risk does not equal death, it just increases the possibility of death.

You (we) (me) are probably around it on a daily basis=risk. Abatement attempts to lower the risk. Asbestos abatement IS very much overblown since politics got involved: however, death by lung cancer is horrid, and the political process attempts to lower the risk. Homemade abatement techniques (see Thomas P, above)can make the problem worse, or make a problem where there wasn't one before.

Short answer: Life is too short to spend any of it dead, injured, or in jail.
   - David Hughes - Thursday, 12/07/06 13:29:32 EST

Ken, coffee warmers are low watt electrode heaters and last a lot longer than light bulbs. I think a "Golden Rod" dehumidifier would work even better.
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 12/07/06 13:45:38 EST

I used 15W - 25W bulbs for my fridge-paintlocker back at my previous shop. That was in an unheated former garage in New Hampshire. 15W kept things from freezing, but just above. The 25W kept things warm. I tried a 40W, but it got too hot in there.

My new shop is still an unheated garage, but it's partway into a hill and hasn't never gotten below 35F. The 15W bulb keeps things just right in there.

Another nice thing about fridges for storage is humidity. It keeps a fairly constant temperature and humidity, so when we get those quick changes that drench the rest of the shop, everything in there stays dry. I keep my wood planes and other knife things to keep rust off the blades. The problem with my shop is now more when the temp and humidity rises. My shop tends to stay cool, so condensation just drips off of everything metal when I open the doors.

And yet another use for it is batteries. Rechargeables, especially NiCads, really hate temperature swings.

   - Marc - Thursday, 12/07/06 14:31:55 EST

Re: Kaowool carcinogenicity.
Kaowool is non-carcinogenic until fired; after firing, some of the fibers turn into crystoballite, a known carcinogen. Solution? ITC-100 or another rigidizer. Also, when demolishing, soak the material. No airborne fibers, no problem. When building glass furnaces we routinely soak Kaowool to make it easier to create certain forms for furnace insulation.

Re: Fireproof safes.
It's interesting to note that on most modern fire doors, such as you see in public facilities and malls, the construction method is fairly heavy gage (16ga) steel over WOOD. The wood charcoals if there is a fire and the charcoal, with no major oxygen ingress routes, acts as an insulator! (Just like a jeweler's charcoal soldering block.) I suppose the only reason they use concrete on safes is so they're also drill-resistant.

Cloudy and cool in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 12/07/06 14:47:25 EST

Marc, good information!

Condensation is a problem in many shops. In the building Paw-Paw put up, an oversize carport style building, condensation collects on the horizontal ribbed tin roof and rains in strips throughout the shop. Its a real pain. In my shop at home down near the creek the condensation on heavy things (anvils, machine tools) is occasionally so deep that you could not believe water would stand so deep on vertical surfaces. You do not need to let things stay outside to rust.

I had considered converting one of my scrap vans to a dry storage container (mostly for wood). Autos are pretty well sealed and the glass makes them self heating in the daytime. But then the tax and junk vehicle folks get upset about old cars parked within site of the road. I've had several that would start and run YEARS after they were no longer road worthy. . .

If you are going to use an old refrigerator for storage many locations require them to be pad-locked to prevent children from getting locked inside.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/07/06 15:03:49 EST

"Homemade abatement technique"---WHERE? I used the technique suggested to me as the *best* method of dealing with it by an abatement professional (who BTW agrees that abatement can set a lot more *free* than just leaving it alone in many cases).

As for fibers in plaster a historical structure in NJ I visited had a breakdown of the hair used in the plaster as strengthener: cattle and deer were the predominant ones so I'd guess they came from the lime pits of the local tannery.

What is this "condensation" you speak of?
Thomas Powers in *dry* NM
   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/07/06 15:27:22 EST

Thomas--I was refering to your freaked-out friend, not you. The technique you used is valid, makes sence to me, doesn't mobilize fibers, seals them down, a practical solution, doesn't require an Einstein or governmental agencies, doesn't generate waste, etc-etc-etc. Sorry for the syntax, I is from Tuolumne County. Peace love joy.
   - David Hughes - Thursday, 12/07/06 16:24:05 EST

Asbestos abatement: Leaving the asbestos in place is often the best plan. At one Chattanooga school there was asbestos containing plaster in the cieling which was 50 feet above the floor. The asbestos fiber count in the air at breathing level was near zero. The fiber count at the front of the school building was quite high, because of the brakes of vehicles on the street. They took out the asbestos cieling (With a government approved contractor and plan.)and the fibercount in the auditorium was near the limit for four years.

They publicized the removal, but not the monitoring data. Folks thought they went the extra mile for the kids.

I try to avoid asbestos exposure, but I'm not paranoid about it. I have two friends, one just dead from mesothelioma and the other with less than a year to go. I've lost count of the number of friends I've lost due to vehicle wrecks. We need to act wisely, but not panic.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 12/07/06 17:51:02 EST

Mike, thanks for the map. I shudder to think what kinds of stuff are stored in the bunkers at the back of the property. Bldg 25 used to be the Remington Arms Ammunition factory during the war. When they needed to break out the floor to put in new cartography equipment, they discovered the concrete was mixed with ground up rubber to surpress sparks. It did not break up under a jack hammer and the job took months longer than expected.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 12/08/06 07:09:07 EST

A Flux question...

How does flourspar compare with salammoniac? I started adding salamonniac to borax after reading "The Pattern Welded Blade" by Jim Hrisoulas and it seems to work ok.

   Mike Ferrara - Friday, 12/08/06 07:49:07 EST

Fluorite Mike, The fluorine in the Fluorite is the active ingredient. Fluorine is a member of the halogen family of elements which are the most reactive or all the elements. 98% CaFl2 (flux grade) is used in steel manufacturing and casting. It is one of the few fluxes that do a good job on chrome and nickel.
   - guru - Friday, 12/08/06 09:35:06 EST

Anvil Stress
7 degrees but some how pleasant on the banks of Silver Creek. I thought I saw a comment from a good blacksmith, and I can't find it now, about not forging when below 20, and using an electric iron to warm up his anvil, etc. This morning makes me ask, is it hard on an anvil (my 112 Trenton for example) to beat on it when the anvil's cold? Maybe I should carry it into the house when I'm not using it and it's cold out. It would make a good decoration anyway, and in that way serve 2 purposes.
   JohnW - Friday, 12/08/06 09:55:32 EST


At this writing, it is 19º in Santa Fe; the shop is at 7,000 feet altitude. The lows for the rest of the week will be in the teens, so it is predicted.

Personally, I've never had any trouble with cold weather making my anvils so brittle that spalling occurred. However, I read that it does happen. In the olden days, I read that some smiths put hot coals on the anvil. Others heat a slab of steel and put it on the anvil. Nowadays, you could fire up your torch if you have one and "wash" the anvil face uniformly with the flame.

I've done none of the above; maybe I've lucked out so far. Beginning strikers may do more damage than cold weather.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/08/06 10:47:17 EST

Below Freezing: In the teens here in sunny NC today as well!

Steels become noticeably brittler at temperatures below freezing. However, I believe it takes considerably lower to have great effect.

Good axe use also required warming the axe to prevent damage. This was often done by just keeping it indoors. Same for carpenter's hammers. With the axe I suspect that the increased hardness of frozen wood may have a significant effect.

I suspect some of this comes from the fact that we humans feel brittle with cold and that pain seems much more intense with cold.

If you worry about your cold anvil you should also keep your hammers warm. Near the bed is a good place ;)
   - guru - Friday, 12/08/06 11:22:58 EST

I recently found two champion crank forge blowers. I have only taken one apart and noticed that the gears need oiling, and was wondering if someone could tel me what weight of oil to use?
   - Boogerman - Friday, 12/08/06 12:12:36 EST

Mike: fluorspar is more aggressive (and toxic) than sal ammoniac. In Hrisoulas' "steel glue" flux he uses both.

Warm anvil; a warm anvil is sure a lot nicer to work on on a cold day---we used to fight over who got to sit on the prewarmed 400# while the steel was heating at the shop I used to work at. I believe it was Sandpile who reported that he had once broke off the heel of an anvil working it cold. With the changes in metallurgy and methods of construction it's quite possible that some anvils are more prone to damage when cold than others. I would rather err on the side of caution myself---besides which it gives you a good excuse to drink another cup of something wearm on a cold day.

Another method for a small anvil is to put it in front of the door of the gasser while *it's* heating up as well.

at 112 pounds I would bring it inside and put it on top of the wood stove as an ornament and heat dissapator.

   Thomas P - Friday, 12/08/06 12:29:01 EST

Boogerman: Use bar-and-chain oil for chainsaws in the blower gearbox. Not too thick, but sticky.
   Alan-L - Friday, 12/08/06 13:35:08 EST

Sal ammoniac source, anyone? I've gotten some from Bryant Lab, I think it was, a smallish quantity for a price that seemed a bit on the largish side. Hardware stores where I have inquired have seldom heard of it--although it's listed as an ingredient on some of the canned fluxes they sell. Thanx in advance for any leads.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/08/06 15:46:16 EST

Sal Ammoniac: This is a good ingredient for soldering and tinning fluxes. It doesn't work very well at steel's welding temperatures. It mostly colatilizes before then, and what it does leave is a corrosive residue. I wouldn't bother getting it.
   - John Odom - Friday, 12/08/06 15:59:00 EST

Dear guru - What would you use to get a dark patina (for contrast) on lead-free pewter (95% tin, 5% antinony IIRC.)
   John Lowther - Friday, 12/08/06 16:21:50 EST

Sal ammoniac is also called ammonium chloride.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/08/06 16:34:51 EST

Sal ammoniac forms on volcanic rocks near fume releasing vents. There is no liquid phase as the mineral crystallizes from these fumes in a process called sublimation.

In absence of moisture it does not dissociate, but in the presence of mere traces of water it dissociates into ammonia and hydrochloric acid.

I suspect that as a fluxing ingredient the release of the hydrochloric acid is what does the job.
   - guru - Friday, 12/08/06 17:31:44 EST

am·mo·ni·um chlo·ride



chemical used in batteries: a white crystalline solid. Use: expectorant, soldering flux, dry cell electrolyte. NH4Cl

   ML - Friday, 12/08/06 17:51:51 EST

Sal Amoniac: Guru is right. It does not melt at atmospheric pressure. Remember the HCL is more volatile that water and is long gone before you reach welding temperatures. Some chlorides may remain that, if not removed are corrosive.
   - John Odom - Friday, 12/08/06 17:53:19 EST

I'm no chemist and only started adding it to my flux because I saw it recommended in a couple of places. One was the book by Jim Hrisoulas and the other was "Plain and Ornimental Forging" by Ernst Schwarzkopf.

As far as a source, I think my wife gets it from Delphi Glass. It's sold as tinning block.

I haven't found a source for fluorspar yet so it would sure be great if someone could point the way.
   Mike Ferrara - Friday, 12/08/06 18:59:13 EST

So chainsaw oil is good for forge blowers?
   - Boogerman - Friday, 12/08/06 19:46:09 EST

Hi, I had a hinge bender built: 1/8" slot, 1/4" pin on 1/2" mandrell and 1/2" hole as per the diags. When I try to hammer the 1/8" hinge stock around the pin it binds and jams before getting around the pin hardly at all. Then I'm in a panic to get it all out of there before it cools. What am I missing? Stock too big? What? TIA, Rich.
   - Richard - Friday, 12/08/06 19:59:04 EST


If the "bunkers" are the Stockpile's, they're full of ores or minerals (I don't remember what commodity was there). Some of their stuff is covered with concrete to protect it from erosion, and can look like it's in bunkers.

At least I heard a story about shipping fluorspar from a location near a customs post, with the customs agents being amazed the bunker was full of minerals and not ICBMs.
   Mike B - Friday, 12/08/06 20:29:19 EST


I live in the Idaho, "blacksmith wasteland" and fuel has been problimatic and spendy till now. I ordered a ton of coke from "L Brand Forge Coke" and it arrived today. Great fuel!! It came to $16.03 per 50# bag delivered, which is cheaper than my driving across the mountains of Oregon to get it. Anyone looking for a source for fuel it might be worth your while to check this guy out. I think he's listed here under suppliers, but definitely in the ABANA suppliers list.
   Thumper - Friday, 12/08/06 20:34:54 EST

Ammonium Chloride sidebar.
An old jeweler introduced me to the chemical maybe 20 years ago. I used to use it to clean old gold (no solder), such as sprue buttons and trashed castings. The gold came out of the crucible after being cleaned with the AC, so plyable, I could draw it down to 1/2mm wire with no splitting or breakage. Naturally I annealed as I needed. Potassiun Carbonate does the same thing to white gold, and white is much harder to work with because of the alloys.
   Thumper - Friday, 12/08/06 20:45:10 EST

Forgot to mention, L Brand also sells coal.
   Thumper - Friday, 12/08/06 20:46:35 EST

John Odom-- I did not ask if you would bother getting sal ammoniac. I asked where I can get it. (James F. Hobart, author of the best book on soldering, brazing, hard soldering ever scriven, swore by it. If it was good enough for ol' James to slather onto his copper irons, by cracky, it's good enough for the likes of me.) I will, however, defend to the death your right not to get it. Thanks.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/08/06 21:31:09 EST

Miles Undercut, I will ask my buddies at J & M Labs, the source of the forge and punch lube about a source of the sal ammoniac, and fluorspar as well. Ted at J & M usually can find most any chemical. What quantity do you wish?
   ptree - Friday, 12/08/06 22:27:47 EST

Boogerman: Any light oil - 3in 1 or thicker would do for the lubricating properties, but chain saw oil stays on the gears better. If You want to reduce gear noise, You can use a heavier oil, but You will have to crank a little harder due to the viscocity.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 12/08/06 22:30:09 EST

ptree-- Many thanks! Enough sal ammoniac to put on the irons to solder the spouts back onto a slew of old copper teapots that went through various fires-- Cerro Grande 2005, etc.-- that I've been getting my nerve up to attack, and then some similar small tasks. No church steeples just yet. Just a few pounds for openers.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/08/06 23:01:55 EST

Hinge Jig: Richard, The one with a slot, pin and guides is for cold pressing, not hot hammering. Hot friction is horrendous and you get upsetting rather than bending. Chamfering the ends of the stock helps and so does lubricant. Jigs of this nature also need some clearance. The guides need to support the full length of the stock except that which is rolled. However, in a tight bend the guides need to support 100% of the hinge and a tool steel pusher used on the press.

Until you have built and tested a few they may not work. The one I built was used to roll stainless and worked well.

Pressing is not hammering. . .
   - guru - Friday, 12/08/06 23:04:58 EST

Fluorspar: First, you want "flux grade" which is 98% or greater CaFl2. It is sold by the 100# bag in chips for foundry work and as fine powder for ceramic work. Try the pottery supply on our links page. They had it last time I looked. High grade fluorspar is imported from Italy I believe.

As to using Sal Ammoniac as forge welding flux I have only seen it mentioned a few times. Remember that just because someone uses something and writes about it does not mean that it really works. Forge welding is a big enough mystery to many folks that they will try anything and if it works will stay with it even if it was something else they did different. The fact that none of the commercial fluxes for welding steel use it says something. Commercial users generally require factual proven results.

Note that one of the popular Anti-borax formulas contains "slag" as one of its ingredients. If this is foundry slag it will contain significant amounts of iron oxide, silicates and the fluxes used at the foundry which contain numerous minerals including fluorspar.

While helping a friend identify things that might be of value from a foundry he was scraping out I found a series of bins next to the funace (electric) that had various minerals used as fluxes and possibly degassers. The one I recognized was flourspar. The bin had both the name and chemical formula as well as the screen size marked on it. I think it was 3/8" to 1/2". We shoveled out several buckets full including a lot of fines or dust. There was a great number of large fluorspar crystals. Later I used an ultraviolet light to examine the material. The crystals definitely glowed, the rest was questionable. Later several unopened sacks of the same was found.

When used in borax and boric acid flux the fluorspar is used in fairly small amounts.
   - guru - Friday, 12/08/06 23:25:56 EST

I am not forge welding. I am NOT forge welding. I am not forge welding. Soldering. Hard soldering. Brazing. Copper. Brass. Tin. Soldering. Not forge welding. Soldering. With those funny-looking pointy old copper irons. Like great-grandpa used to use. And a hairy-scary blowtorch. And acid. Don't tell OSHA.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/08/06 23:45:13 EST

Miles. . ebay says THEY have it . .hAHAHAHHHHAH AHAHA hhaaa hahahahah ha hah ha ha. . . HA! They say they have EVERYTHING ON EVERY Google search.
   - guru - Friday, 12/08/06 23:48:28 EST

And it MUST BE TRUE if they said it on eBay.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 12/09/06 00:46:08 EST

I forgot-- it's Friday night. Is there a movie on this flight?
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 12/09/06 01:11:57 EST

OK, so I misunderstood that, right. Without a press, how do I do it? Or can I get enough leverage with say a 24" lever arm pushing on the hinge a couple of inches from the fulcrum? Perhaps with a swivel where the lever arm contacts the hinge? Are there places you can direct me? Or do i heat things up and just beat the hinge around a pin? Tks, Rich.
   - richard - Saturday, 12/09/06 01:19:08 EST

Pressing, There are all kinds of ways. Heavy machinist vises can be used as a press. An arbor press is sufficient and is the preferred method. A flypress is a press NOT a hammer and is the preferred medium to high production tool for this job. Hand powered hydraulic presses (a bottle jack in a frame) is a fine press if it has a stiff frame. The current crop of presses frames are way under capacity of the jacks that come with them. Look for OR build one with structural steel frame members. Even wood is sufficient for this if the frame is heavy enough.

Lever presses work but need good pivot points and some sort of guide. By the time you build one heavy enough you will have found it cheaper to buy a Chinese arbor press. I don't think the leverage you describe would be quite enough for bender but I may be wrong.

On capacities of such tools the majority are in tons (from 5 up) and are a great deal of overkill. Thus no one worries if the job takes 500 pounds or 1000 pounds. I think I used my 20 ton press on the hinge jig I made. If not then it was the 8 ton arbor press. Its been a long time ago. I do remember that the jig worked very smoothly for the couple dozen parts I needed to make.

Classic pin benders can also be used and work hot if you have good work flow. However, if you bend a heavy eye on a small pin the pin will need to be a hot work steel. A popular bender for this type work is the Diacro which is no longer made (there have been circular references on the Acrotech web site for months). This type bender can also be made in the blacksmith shop. I built a very small version for bending horseshoe nail rings using nothing more than a hand crank drill, a cutting torch and a grinder.

Then there are bar type benders like the Hossfeld (sold by Centaur Forge) and its clones. Many folks have also built their own versions of these tools. Note that while they look easy to build they are made of relatively heavy bar and have lots of holes which must be drilled in precision alignment so things match up. Generally folks that can build one of these and make the dies have a significant shop.

On the other hand. If the hinge joint is part of a forged joint most smiths just roll them by hand. You start on the edge of the anvil with just a little overhang and work across the width of the hinge then feed a little more out until you have about 90 to 120 degress of the bend then you hammer back toward the body of the hinge to complete. Then a pin or drift is driven through to help size the hinge and it is finished to shape. Most hinges are unwelded except early American hinges. At the same time the Europeans tended not to weld hinges. Hand forged hinges are made from jewelery box to castle gate size.

I built the press bender I used because the job was a joint for a precision fixture to be made in a machine shop and there was a lot of them. I made the prototype using a 50 year old Sears 6" lathe and hand sawed and filed the slot. I only spent about 3 hours on it. I tested the bender by taping the work through with a hammer. It worked by was obvious that it needed smooth continuous pressure. The production tool was made on the same lathe but I used a shaper to cut the slot on the second bender. The angle iron guides were held in place with C-clamps because the tool was only going to be used a few dozen times. If the job had become a repeat job I would have finished the tool better.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/09/06 08:51:21 EST

Pair of Yader Swage Blocks ebay 160061427000

Even a nice link to the anvilfire swage block web page.

I think I may give them a bid
   - waterbug - Saturday, 12/09/06 10:19:07 EST

Pair of Yater Swage Blocks ebay 160061427000

Even a nice link to the anvilfire swage block web page.
   - waterbug - Saturday, 12/09/06 10:23:22 EST

Richard & All,

Repro Hinge Observations.

The mention of rolled hinge barrels prompted me to think about hinges I have seen and made.

In the colonies and the States, rolled barrel hinges were done by the Pennsylvania Germans, including the Moravians. The Dutch also used the roll. I have one Dutch strap hinge where the barrel stock is tapered almost to a feather edge and then rolled and tucked.

I think that most New England hinges, especially those made by descendants of folks from the British Isles, have forge welded barrels. Mexican hinges I have seen, are also forge welded.

When knuckles are involved, all of the old hinges I've seen had the entire length of the barrel forge welded, and THEN the hacksawing and filing was done to fit the knuckles. Three knuckles seemed to be more common that five or more. I bought an HL door hinge in New Orleans in 1973 when you could go in these little downtown shops and get a hinge for a buck. It is of 14 gage iron, three knuckles, and the shuts on the reverse side show that the whole barrel length was welded. I saw Peter Ross demonstrate a small hinge where he forge welded the lap with the pin still in the barrel! The pin was driven out using the vise and pin punch after the weld was made. After two equal leaves were made, the hack sawing, chiseling, and file-fitting commenced.

Knuckle length. Ross said that his research showed that the colonial period hinge knuckles in the East were about 30%-40%-30% in terms of length. The exact reasons for this are unclear. Nowadays, hinge makers usually use 25%-50%-25%.

I have some early 1800s Mexican chest hardware, hinges and hasps, which show equal knuckle length on a 3-knuckle setup. The single, central knuckle was part of the hinge tail strap, not the main strap. The single, central knuckle was part of the locking-hasp always, not its tail strap. The thickness of the chest hardware varied from about 16 gage to a scant 1/8th inch. Nevertheless, the work was forge welded.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/09/06 11:01:14 EST

More Hinges. . Something many folks may not know is that many of the heavy looking hinges used in the later 1800's and early 1900's are cast iron. They were cast then machined. They are a big item among house restorers.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/09/06 11:55:01 EST

And last. . I once repaired the hinges and hasp for a very small lock box. The original hinges were made of metal less than 1/16th inch thick (closer to 1/32) and were forge welded. The parts I repaired I did with gas and filing. The originals were filed as well so the repairs were a close match but an expert looking close would know they were repairs.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/09/06 11:58:18 EST

Poquito more about the hinge barrel. Some smiths run a twist drill through the barrel after it is welded in order to obtain a "machine finish". However, unless the hinge is absolutely, carefully, vertically clamped in a drill press vise, the drill will be grabby and dangerous. I have found that it is safer to use a variable speed pistol drill and to lightly "tease" the twist drill through, the hinge being held in a leg vise or bench vise.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/09/06 12:22:47 EST

Thanks all, great info, Frank and Guru. Think I'll try the rolling on the anvil, that seems to be the easiest for now, perhaps I'll explore the press later. (Now that I own the jig).

Frank, I didn't quite follow this part:

"The single, central knuckle was part of the hinge tail strap, not the main strap. The single, central knuckle was part of the locking-hasp always, not its tail strap."

Perhaps I just don't know the terms? Tail? Main? Locking-hasp? Love this stuff, thanks for your time, if anyone has more input I'm all ears, (or eyes I guess) Rich.
   - richard - Saturday, 12/09/06 13:14:27 EST

Any tips on painting copper tubing/pipe? I spray paint my Poor Boy propane forges with flat black paint. Stays on the freon tanks and ductile iron OK, but doesn't stick very well to the 1/2" copper pipe. Now am just wiping well with vinegar to remove flux and dirt. Would soaking for a couple of hours in a 10/90 solution of muriatic acid and water perhaps be better as far as preparing it for painting. Would pre-heating to say 200 degrees before spraying help any? Lookiing for a very simply solution here so, please, no high tech-ing.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/09/06 13:26:32 EST


Are you roughing up the copper to break the smooth drawn finish? If not, a piece of 220 grit's pretty low-tech (grin)
   Mike B - Saturday, 12/09/06 13:35:54 EST

Hey gurus.

I just send a deposit to purchase a Sahinler powerhammer #50. Today I came across some articles that this hammer might have some problems like getting too hot, loosing oil, in need of modifications before it can actually be used. Is that machine a wrong investment? I will use it basically daily. Any comments or experiences?
   stefan - Saturday, 12/09/06 14:27:57 EST

Mike B: I hadn't, but wire brushing using the bench grinder/brush would be a possibility.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/09/06 14:33:40 EST

   hofi - Saturday, 12/09/06 15:05:02 EST


The old chests usually have two strap hinges at the back of the lid. The tail strap is short in length in relation to the main strap, the main strap longer and more decorative. The tail strap is attached to the chest proper, and the main is attached to the lid.

In front of the chest is installed a mortise lock. On the lid is a hinged hasp, the hasp having its own "tail strap" to keep it in place. The hasp is movable and has a tenoned staple and forged finger-lift. When the staple enters a slot in the lock plate, the key bit throws the bolt, and you have a locked chest.

The movable hasp has the central knuckle. The immobile tail strap IN BACK OF THE CHEST has the central knuckle. I don't know why. "That's just the way it was, headin' West."
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/09/06 16:29:39 EST


When I use copper it's usually for looks, so I don't paint it. But a little tooth can't hurt the paint adhesion, so I'd give the wire wheel a try.
   Mike B - Saturday, 12/09/06 18:01:23 EST

Turkish Kuhn Clones: These machines got their start when Kuhn tried to move their manufacturing there. Kuhn was not happy and brought the manufacturing back to Germany. But the cat was out of the bag. . the design how-to was in others hands.

The problem THEN was that folks that did not engineer the product in the first place nor understand the product proceeded to modify the design.

I know folks that swear by their Sahinlers and others that have had nothing but trouble. The troubles have included overheating and dieseling, expansion of the aluminium compressor piston and seizer of same, bad die fits. Those used at various ABANA conferences had fits. There have also been reports of heavy oil mist and smoke from the exhaust.

All air hammers create an oil mist and should be exhausted outdoors. Smoke from the exhaust is unacceptable.

But many such as Bill Epps and Uri Hofi as he noted above have had good luck with them.

My advice would be to be sure you have a warrantee. Then setup the hammer immediately. Do not let it sit for 6 months to a year waiting for a foundation or power while the warrantee expires. Be ready to set it up then RUN IT. If you are a full time smith you should expect to have days where a hammer runs a for 50% of the time. On a self contained hammer that means running constantly and operated 50% of the time. Switched on in the morning, off for lunch then running the whole afternoon. The hammer should not need to be shut down to cool. It may need lubrication several times a day and minor adjustments until it is broken in.

Read any warrantee closely and be sure it covers everything you think it should. The dealer that warrants the unit should be responsible, you should not have to go to the factory or wait for a decision or refunding from the factory. ASK the dealer if the hammer can run all day and if they will warrant that it will do so.

Buying ANYTHING is a risk.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/09/06 18:05:34 EST

Hello all I have a question, today I built one of guru's gas burners and a small forge. the question is does the pipe need to be flared on the end that goes in the forge?
Do I need to use a regulator or just use tank pressure?
It was very hard to keep it burning untill it got warm is this normal or have I done somthing wrong? It was below freezing all day if that has anything to do with it.
Thanks for any help!
   - Sharp - Saturday, 12/09/06 19:34:46 EST

Frank, understood, tks, Rich.
   - richard - Saturday, 12/09/06 20:59:50 EST

Sharp, Flares are unnecessary if there is a step in the tube where the flare joint would be. This step of about 1/8 (the thickness of the burner tube) creates a eddy where some flame will roll and keep the burn lit. This is more necessary in the open than in a forge. In a forge the tube or hole the burner is installed intpo should provide the step.

Another thing that keeps forges burning is some debris. A dust free gas forge is hard to keep lit. But if you have some fire brick grit or tufts of kaowool that will easily heat up and glow the forge will stay lit easier. However, once up to heat a gas forge SHOULD keep going with no help.

Some folks use tank pressure regulated through a needle valve but the pressure and flow will change quite rapidly with use so you must stay on top of the adjustment. A regulator prevents this constant adjustment and lets you find a good setting that works without a lot of trial and error.

A forge with too much opening and no back pressure is difficult to keep running as well.

   - guru - Saturday, 12/09/06 22:31:33 EST

Sal amoniac is another one of those "unobtainable" common things you call McMaster for. If you have a catalog I believe it's listed near soldering irons, if you are using the web site just do a search. That's where I got mine. mcmaster.com
   - SGensh - Saturday, 12/09/06 22:42:21 EST


I have an atmospheric forge with an extra valve and line so I can add gas to adjust the mixture. I find I have to richen it up to keep it burning when first lit. It could be that yours is set up to run a little too lean. If you have a choke, try closing down on it some when you light it. You might also need a larger gas orifice, but if it's running neutral when hot, you probably don't want to do anything drastic.
   Mike B - Saturday, 12/09/06 23:23:42 EST

Sharp: I used an unflared section of 1" pipe that extended about 1 1/8 to 1 1/4" beyond the end of the 3/4" pipe burner tube. I also made a 5 deg/side flare. Both worked well, the flare operated nicely over a wider pressure range, from less than 1psig to over 45psig measured at the burner. You don't NEED this wide an operating range. The unflared pipe could be ajusted to work very well in the 2psig to 20psig range, and that is where You will probably use it. These tests were done in open air, the burner worked well in the forge too.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 12/09/06 23:52:21 EST

Sharp: I also use a valve to add gas to tune the mixture, mine burns fine without adding any extra gas, but it is an oxidizing flame.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 12/09/06 23:54:44 EST

SGensh-- Many thanks!
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 12/09/06 23:56:11 EST

I need to slip a ring over the ball-end of an Admiralty anchor sliding iron stock to hold the chain for the key that pins the stock in place. The stock is just over 3/4" on the shaft and the terminating ball is 1 1/4". I figure I can (in theory) heat up a ring, slide it over the ball, and let is cool and shrink in place. However, since I seem to remember the Guru mentioning some exact percentages of expansion for tires and such. Perhaps someone could give me an appropriate size to start with, rather than me muddling about.

Clear and cold on the banks of the lower Potomac. They bush-hogged the new house lot today, and I staked out the site for the new forge and marked further trees for my future attention with the chainsaw.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking (recent pictures of the new ship, the Sæ Hrafn, under oars and sail have been posted): www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 12/10/06 00:43:47 EST

I am making a firescreen that wil go over a "real fireplace" as opposed to a gas flame type.) I would like to galvanize it but am concerned that it might get too hot and give off zinc gas if they get a roaring fire going. The customers want the zinc finish that I did on a screen that went in front of a glass-faced gas fireplace that I doubt gets very hot. So can anyone advise me about this issue? Yhanks.
   brian kennedy - Sunday, 12/10/06 02:57:13 EST

Bruce: Steel expands at about 6.4 microinch per inch per degree F. [not all that much]. Can You weld the ring after You put it on? Another idea: If the ring just fits over the ball, after the chain is atached to the ring it won't fit over the ball. Another idea: if the ball is round and the ring just fits over, if You distort the ring after it is in place it won't fit over the ball. If You started with a ring that was a little small[about 1/16" too small] and drove it over the ball when it was at yello heat You wouldn't have to worry about trying to make it to a precise size.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 12/10/06 04:22:20 EST

Ring and Ball: Bruce, If you put a ring on that slips easily over the ball then attach a chain to it the chain will reduce the amount of space left and the ring will not be able to come off.

Alternatively if you put the same ring on over the ball at a yellow heat you can shrink the ring by upsetting it in a round or V die so that it will not come off.

The coefficient of expansion of steel varies with the temperature (I think it is less per degree of rise) and does not apply to extreme high temperatures. The usual range given is between breezing and boiling of water.

Shrink fits are usually very precision or on very large parts where the 7 millionths per inch per degree make a difference. If works on wagon tires due to the large size.

Last. . the suggestion to weld the ring in place was a good one. However, the normal method would be to install the ring THEN upset the ball. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 12/10/06 09:58:44 EST

Zinc and firescreens: Brian, the zinc will not be a problem until the temperature is higher that the 800°F melting point of the zinc and there is no evaporation until about 1000°F. I would not worry about applying it to the frame components. I am not sure about the screen but I suspect that the air passing the screen keeps it cool enough.

The only place I have seen zinc damaged on wood stoves and forges is in the stack itself near the stove where it is the hottest. However, I would not recommend galvanizing a wood stove as the sides occasionally get to a red heat which is about the flaring point for zinc.

In a masonry fireplace if the front edges reach too high a temperature the mortar is going to spall or degrade. You never see this under normal conditions.

Note that zinc changes color drastically at high temperatures and oxidizes unpredictably over time turning black where there are oils such as from ones hands and turns white in others. I would never recommend it as a raw finish.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/10/06 10:11:33 EST

on forging a clip point knife. i think i have it down to a science when it comes to forging differnt styles of knives. But it's the raised clip point on knives such as bowies that is giving me trouble. IF i'm not mistacken to forge the clip point one first need to draw the taper on the spine to a point, leaving the edge side flat on the anvil face, then when you have all the pre-shaping finished then you go ahead and chamfer it, creating the bevel, causeing the edge to get thinner making the point, you just made, to rise, creatin the clip point. I'm pretty sure that's how it's done. If i'm wrong or if i left something out pelase correct me. Or if anyone does it differntly please let me know your method.
Thanks Y'all
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Sunday, 12/10/06 11:07:38 EST

Andrew, The clip point is a natural outgrowth of forging a rectangular bar to a taper. If you work from the point back the edge grows and grows and the top point is what WAS the front corner of the rectangle. If you start with an angled front end (parallelogram) the point forms more rapidly.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/10/06 14:58:05 EST

This is a link to an item on the ABANA forums. Production work if anyone is interested.

   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/10/06 15:11:12 EST

Howdy all..still alaive..well barely....Anyway...

Oh well.....anyone know anything about hydraulics and presses?? I am working on Julius Squeezer and all of a sudden I hear this horrendously LOUD BANG!! Then the not so soothing sound of spraying water and well I have bright red hydraulic fluid spraying all over my studio at 3500 PSI... Looking like I blew a seal at the solenoid on the egress to the pump...Now..what do I do besides spread kitty litter all over the floor and wipe up the fluid???.. Are we talking new solenoid or??? I mean I know pretty much nothing about fluid dynamics and hydraulic systems so HELP!!! Now I tried tightening the fittings and well...that didn't do anything so methinks there is a striped something inside...it is leaking from the solenoid casting, NOT the hose fittings...you know..leaking from the EXPENSIVE part...

So any ideas there folks??

   JPH/GHPoMCI - Sunday, 12/10/06 17:00:26 EST

Thanks for the info, I added a choke today and it works much better and easier to keep burning.
   - Sharp - Sunday, 12/10/06 17:27:43 EST

I ran acsoss a word that I didn't know recently It was in reference to building a forge with Kaowool, and then applying a coating of TC-100( Refractory cement), and then applying Satanite over this. Do you know what satanite is? Can't get a make on it.
Thanks for your exellent forum --Duke
   Duke Charlesworth - Sunday, 12/10/06 18:10:22 EST

Hydraulic accident: Yes, kity litter or oild ry from the autoparts store is a little cheaper. Get the hydraulic oil cleaned up first.

Next determine exactly what blew. some solenoid valves are rebuildable if just the seal blew. If the body cracked then of course it must be replaced. Wou also have to figure out Why it blew so you wont blow a new replacement!

Keep looking and report what you find.
   - John Odom - Sunday, 12/10/06 18:18:55 EST

Howdy again:

Ok puttered about Julius and from the looks of it the leak is not from the hose in the egress from the solenoid to the pump..the hose fittings turn down tight into each other and it is leaking from around the egress/hose connection itself. Now I have no clue at all what so ever outside of pulling the valve totally out and looking at it and taking it in for a bench test. What bothers me was that loud BANG when it blew... I have no idea at all what could of caused that to happen...

The "bad" thing about it is I am right in the middle of a porject and I had to bottle jack the dies apart so i could remove the piece I was squishing...

   JPH/GHPoMCI - Sunday, 12/10/06 18:57:48 EST

satanite is a refractory cement and ITC-100 is a refractory coating to improve heat efficency. You can get info on both products here. http://refractory.elliscustomknifeworks.com/
   - Mike Broach - Sunday, 12/10/06 19:16:15 EST

opps...wrong name...above is for Duke Charlesworth
   - Mike Broach - Sunday, 12/10/06 19:18:51 EST

JPH, Often when a loud bang occurs in hydraulics it is the result of extreme pressure. I used to burst test hydraulics and fittings for a living. You tend to start hearing nice sharp bangs in the 5000 psi and above range. A really good bang above 10,000 psi, and above 20,000 something like a sitck of dynamite. That said, how did that high a pressure occur?
May I suggest a few things to look at?
1. Do you have a system safety relief valve to act as a pressure fuse? Should be in the pressure line between the pump and everything else.
2. Do you have a fixed displacement pump? If so, then an open center valve, with a relief is often used. This allows the oil from the pump to go to tank when the pressure is not applied to the cylinder. Whe in the squish mode, when the cylinder stops, the relief in the valve will open when the pressure reachs the set point, usuall making a sqealling sound to tell you that you are deadheading the pump.
3. Last but not least, are all the components in your system rated at or above the pump max rated output pressure?

If you have a fixed displacement pump,(gear, vane, plain piston) when the pump is rotated, the oil that is displaced must go somewhere. It has to move a cylinder, go to tank thru an open pathway in the valving or over a relief, or the pressure rises till one of several things happens. Either you stall the motor, or something bursts. If you have a variable volume, pressure compensated pump, if the pressure sense line was plugged, the pump would go to max volume. Another reason for a system safety relief.

Another small lesson is that red oil is most likely standard hydraulic oil, and flammable when spraying. Especially if atomized. Please pay attention to placing guarding to direct any leaks away from the work zone if doing hot work with this press.

If you do not have a fair understanding of hydraulics, may I reccomend that you seek the services of a good hydraulics designer or technician?
   ptree - Sunday, 12/10/06 20:14:54 EST

I'm a retired farrier (injury) and have gotten back into blacksmithing after a breif hiatus. I always used an LP forge working but have always wanted to work a coal forge since first watching a man work one in shoeing school. I picked up an old rivet forge and bought some good coal from Centaur Forge to get started. I'm having a lot of trouble managing my fire. It gets cool enough to go out very quickly, while working a piece at the anvil, like it is starving for air. I've read the several books I have and checked the FAQ and haven't found an answer. I should state the forge has no tyeir, it is a 20" pan, 1.5" ID tube to a hand cranked blower that I machined a tapered plug with flange out of 304 SS and drilled 5 1/4" holes thru in a cross pattern. I was forging a fire rake earlier and while welding the twisted handle the fire went so cool I couldn't get it back. It wasn't hollow and had just produced a sparkling heat for a somewhat successful weld. I have it banked with coke surrounded by green coal that is dampened down. It was packed over the top with coke to reserve the heat for welding, but when I removed the work piece that opened up. Can you give me some ideas? Thanks. Scott
   Scott Jenkins - Sunday, 12/10/06 21:29:29 EST

Mike Broach:
Thanks Mike for the info on forge Satanite ---Duke
   Duke Charlesworth - Sunday, 12/10/06 21:33:20 EST

I acquired a Pexto rolling machine and I was wondering if perhaps you had any advice for turning it into a machine similar to an english wheel. I was thinking of buying stock the same size as the current wheels and rounding the edges on a grinder to create two cancave surfaces with one point of contact. Stupid idea?
   Molly - Sunday, 12/10/06 22:09:28 EST

Scott: I am pretty much a beginner, but You need to open the air hole to about 1" to 1 1/4" minimum. If You can just rermove the plug and use the 1 1/2" tube as is to try, do it, it may work fine. Probably the 1/4" holes got plugged up with clinkers.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 12/10/06 22:20:58 EST

Thanks Guru, that was very helpful. I suppose that if they really want that experimental finish they will have to take their chances with how long it will hold up. Or maybe they will even like how it changes. The oil problem would probably only be an issue on the handles and perhaps resolvable with some kind of painted faux techniques to camoflage? The actual thing I did on the first screen, which they want copied, was to brush some muriatic on the zinc surfaces. That turned the bright silvery fresh coating to cloudy grey and sort of smoky looking tones. I did not attempt to protect it with any kind of clear coat because I was afraid of it giving off fumes when it heated up. If I had to faux the blackening effect from oils I might need to use some heat resisting paints. In such a case,is there a heat resisting primer that you know of? Generally, I don't like the look of paint on steel, so if I had to use it I would try to put it on in very thinned washes, sort of like watercolor, so that it would have some varigation and not look too homogenous. I am assuming that I will not be able to dissuade the customer from trying to copy the other screen, but I appreciate this tech info that I can use to at least pass on or maybe work out a way to do more or less the same effect using a paint product.
   brian kennedy - Monday, 12/11/06 05:17:28 EST

Scott: Problem may also in in the depth of your pan. A good firepot will allow for several inches of coal/coke under the working part of the fire. In my opinion it is the depth which keeps the fire going.

They are expensive, but send a note to Bob Cruikshank, 1495 W. Possom Rd., Springfield, OH 45506 and ask for one of his brochures on the SOF&A Zeller/Peot designed firepots. VERY heavy duty. Offered in 8" x 11" general purpose, 9" x 14" for knifemakers and 8" round general purpose. While other firepots might have a 3/8" - 1/2" thickness, this one has 5/8". I have seen several in use for several years which, if cleaned up and spray painted, would still look like a new one.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 12/11/06 07:07:16 EST

Pexto Roller: Molly, These are generally worth as much or more than a small English Wheel. I would suggest trading for the real thing.

Problems - The Pexto machine is designed for rolling light edges on very thing sheet metal. As such it does not need the frame strength of an English Wheel.

The Pexto machine also does not have the throat depth needed to be general wheeling work in sheet.

Generally the center distances on a Pexto machine are not adjustable. This is a necessary feature of an English wheel.

The hand crank capacity would be handy but woulds require a keyway in the drive wheel you have made. I designed a custom English wheel for a fellow that had this feature. However, everything else was pretty much the same as a normal English wheel.
   - guru - Monday, 12/11/06 09:06:50 EST

Hydraulic Bangs and Pops: My little experience with hydraulics says that if you had a sharp BANG then the valve casting split. If the sound was more of a loud pop is may have been the hose failing (this can include up to sounding like a shotgun - as apposed to harsher rifle like crack). If a casting failed then you have a serious problem somewhere. A failed casting may only have a very fine hairline crack after the fact. You may have to search for it with die penetrant or magnaflux.

If the casting failed then you need to know the reason why. Was it the wrong part? Did the system overpressurize for some other reason such as bad relief valve, clogged relief line, non-existant relief valve? I have known folks to let the low budget yard monkeys do their hydraulic repair. Parts get substituted, lines crossed, parts left off. . . . You need a factory manual for the machine OR someone very familiar with the design of these machines to check it out.
   - guru - Monday, 12/11/06 09:17:21 EST

Hydraulic Bangs and Pops: You can also get a loud bang from the parts of the machine jumping at a sudden pressure release if the machine was under heavy load, which it sounds like it was. The sudden jolt to parts is like hitting the frame with a very large sledge hammer.

The problem with this type diagnosis on hydraulics is 1) you were surprised by the event and usually do not remember fine details of the sound, 2) hydraulic pumps often make so much noise that it is hard to hear over them.
   - guru - Monday, 12/11/06 09:27:58 EST

Brian Kennedy,

One thing to keep firmly inmind when dealing with surface coatings is permeability. Another is film strength. These are the two primary factors affecting longevity of any surface coating.

If you apply paint in thin washes, it has no real film thickness, which means a coupl eof things are likely to happen. First, the surface will be permeable. It will allow the passage of gasses, particularly oxygen, resulting in oxidation beneath the finish. Secondly, it will not have the requisite film thickness to allow the paint materials to properly bond to themselves, resulting in a weak finish that will degrade very rapidly.

Paints, most of them, go through several phases after initial application. First the volatiles (solvents, thinners) evaporate, thickening the paint and allowing air to reach the components of the paint itself. This starts the second part of the process, in which the solids in the paint begin to form tougher compounds. Through the action of the air, light and heat, the solids (binders) form longer-chain molecules that are durable. This is the polymerization process that makes linseed oil go from an oil to a solid over time. The same general thing happens with the acrylic, urethane and other binders. But, when the film thickness is insufficient, there is not enough of them present to form the molecules that resist damage by the elements. That is an oversimplification, but I'm sure you get the idea.

The way to get a finish that looks like there isn't any finish, but is still tough and lasting, is to build up layers of paint using less pigment. Glazes, in other words. By using a satin or semi-gloss clear as the medium, you can develop very nicely variegated colors that still have high film strength. Be aware though, that the less pigment and solids you have in the paint, the less durable it will be, to some extent.
   vicopper - Monday, 12/11/06 09:31:44 EST

Dear Guru, I am a Cape Town, (South Africa)based smithy, specializing in custom furnishing, lighting, security etc.
I have been smithying for about 8 years (hand forging, as there aren't any power hammers available here), and have only recently gone on-line.
Thanks to your great site I intend building a hammer soon - In the meantime, my question is - is there a use for waste clinker? I recycle/salvage whatever I can, and collect about a grain bag full every week, which ends up getting dumped.
Kind regards
   Michael Hayward - Monday, 12/11/06 10:31:29 EST

Michael, About the only use most folks have for clinker and coal ash is on graveled driveways and walks to help keep down the mud. In Northern or far Southern climates they are used on icy sidewalks and drives. . . but you are far from that problem.

That is a lot of clinker in a week. Must be pretty trashy coal. I would not expect that much in several months of steady work at the forge. But you use what you have. . .
   - guru - Monday, 12/11/06 10:41:08 EST

Sott, forget drilling holes to create a tyuere effect, instead weld 1/2 bars over a hole on a plate (1/4" openings between them), to cover the opening. I don't have a very deep fire pot and this method works fine. I think Ken S. offers them on his "Poorboy Blacksmith" site on ebay if you don't have any welding apparatus available. Brian, a smith friend of mine claims that if you use linseed oil as a primer (let it dry), and paint over it it's last's almost a well as powder coating. I never tried it, anyone have any input on that method? It's supposed to be "ancient"?
   Thumper - Monday, 12/11/06 12:55:00 EST

Boiled linseed oil alone makes a cheap varnish. If you want to use varnish use the commercial stuff. It has hard waxes in it as well as driers. No, dried linseed oil is nothing like powder coat. In fact steel will rust under varnish as it breathes and lets in both oxygen and water. It is a good coating for wood because it lets it breathe but it protects from insects, stains and abrasion. Not a good metal finish.

Cheap finishes are cheap finishes and if you want to be known for them and not finishing the job then use them. Otherwise use a good professional paint system. It is part of the job. If you you ignore it then you are only doing half the job.
   - guru - Monday, 12/11/06 13:32:36 EST


Ok on the blow out...I pulled the hopse off the valve and I think the poor thing is history..from the looks of it the threads are kaput and the cast iron is cracked so new valave time?? The fitting from the hose after three turned with the wrench was "wobbling" in the hole and that's not good is it??? Now the threads look good on the hose's mail end but I will replace that fitting just in case....better safe than sorry...

The part in question is a Northman solenoid directional valave part No SWH-GO3-C6-R120-10.. Called Northman and they don't have a distributor in my area..

Any leads on where I can get a new one??

Thanks all..

   JPH/GHPoMCI - Monday, 12/11/06 15:35:54 EST


If you are sure that is the right part then you need to go to any distributor anywhere unless you are willing to make a substitution. You would be surprised how many industrial distributors now take credit cards rather than having old fashioned open accounts.

There is still the question of why the valve failed. If it was from handling damage (pressure on the hose and fitting) then its just an accident. But if the part is under rated then that may be a serious issue.

The valve you noted is good for 4,500 PSI.

NorthernTools claims to be a Northman distributor.

   - guru - Monday, 12/11/06 16:15:24 EST

JPH, occasionally a bad casting will get through the process. Sometimes an overtightened pipe fitting will overstress the valve body, and at maximum pressure the casting might let go. But I think the more likely root cause is an overpressure event. The root cause of the overpressure event needs to be found, and eliminated prior to just replacing the part and waiting to see what is the weak link. Hot work and high pressure oil sprays can be a open air forge of frightfull size. I have seen the aftermath.
   ptree - Monday, 12/11/06 19:44:42 EST


Ok I pulled the whole valve off the press and well, I know what the BANG was..it was the cast iron plate cracking...now I called Northman and they said from the sounds of what happened the solenoid must not of switched over to bypass for some reason...I have a new valve and baseplate coming in as I write this as well as new hose fittings for the hose in question..and I am still sopping up hydraulic fluid..almost got it all up now though..

Northman wants the valve back to see why it did what it did...they were most helpful and bent over backwards to help me out...It is nice to see a company that still values old fashioned customer service enough to help out "the little guy" when he has a problem,.....

More as things progress...

Thanks to all for the advise..

   JPH/GHPoMCI - Monday, 12/11/06 19:44:43 EST

On commercial accounts, on one item I purchase on a fairly regular basis I send an e-mail to the distribution as to what and how much I need, he sends me a PayPal invoice, I pay him through PayPal and he ships, sometimes same day.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 12/11/06 19:51:37 EST

I hope the new valve solves the problem.
Good luck
   ptree - Monday, 12/11/06 19:53:50 EST

hey y'all
i'm now officialy setting up a shop
but i'm having alittle trouble desciding where to place the vise. Is there some kind of rule of thumb consersing vise placment?
thanks Y'all
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Monday, 12/11/06 21:02:57 EST


In ornamental shops, it helps to have the vise free standing on a timber, not attached to a bench. It normally makes a spatial triangle with the forge and the anvil as viewed from above.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/11/06 21:52:02 EST

Thanks guru, I'll pass on the info on the linseed primer for finish paint work. I just couldn't see how any kind of oil would make for a practical primer coat in the first place. Didn't realize it turned into varnish either.
   Thumper - Monday, 12/11/06 22:01:35 EST

Oil Oil Everwhare: At a plant I worked at a hydraulic pressure line failed, it was near a window pretty high up on the building. The window blew out and oil sprayed all over the place. The company provided vouchers for the local car wash, about two dozen cars got oiled. I never heard of any environmental reprocussions, so what went down the storm sewers must not have been that much in the overall scheme of things.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 12/11/06 22:03:05 EST

Hello all could somebody tell me if #1040 cold roll steel would be sufficent for making tools such as hot cutters and punches?
   - Sharp - Monday, 12/11/06 22:05:54 EST

i'm sure cold rolled steel has it's uses. But in my experience colled rolled anything, nomatter the alloy, doesn't make a very good blade at all, it may work as a punch, i'm not sure about that. But as for a hot cutter, my suggestion would be to get something like D-2 tool steel or A-2 tool steel, or better yet, go down to your local scrap yard and pick up a couple old jackhammer bits and use them, or modify an old masonry chisel. my hot cutter is an old masonry chisel and work liek a dream. Good luck
if you have any questions, let me know.
Andrew B.
   Andrew B. - Monday, 12/11/06 23:48:29 EST

SAE 1040: First, In blacksmithing you can make almost ANY hot work tool out of any kind of steel. However, how long they last and how they resist heat varies greatly with carbon and alloy content. You can make a mild steel punch and if you are VERY careful to keep it cool by working a little at a time colloing it constantly you can punch a hole in mild steel. However, when you are done the punch will already be swelling on the end and the edges rolling. . . It will work but will need to be remade or dressed with every use. Smiths make LOTS of tools from marginal steels like re-bar and SAE 1040 for one time uses. This is part of what smithing is about, making tools AND knowing how the tool needs to hold up.

SAE 1040 when hardened and tempered would make good fullers and blunted tools for occasional use. It is also good for tongs and other tools where you want high strength and toughness in a lightweight tool.

Punches, blunt edge power hammer hot cuts, fullers can all be made of marginal steel as throw away tools. When you are busy and know you need to do THIS operation one time then they are fine withing reason. Fine edged hot cuts, most edge tools and cold working tools cannot be made of marginal steel.

Any tool that is going to be used more than once should be made of better steel and any tool that you are going to put serious work into and put into your kit should be made of the best possible steel. LABOR is infinitely more costly than good tool steel.

Various smiths and tool makers have steel preferences. Usually this is due to two things. 1) having the steel on hand, 2) having experiance using the steel.

Common crucible or "cast steel" used in the 18th and 19th century was equivalent to SAE 1085 to SAE 1095. It would harden to glass hard and temper to a very tough condition. Hot cuts were made from it but heat softens it rapidly. It is still a popular tool steel.

Modern plain carbon tool steels have over 1% carbon and must be handled very carefully when forging or heat treating. But they make much better hot work steels. "Drill rod" and "die steel" such as W1 and 01 are typical low cost low alloy tool steels. A2 is a favorite of machine shops because it is air hardening.

Modern alloy steels are deep hardening and some hold their hardness at temperatures well over 1,000°F. Commonly used in the blacksmith shop is S7 (a shock resistant steel) and H13 (a hot work steel). These steels are difficult to work and are generally air hardening in small pieces. They hold their temper at temperatures up to where they were tempered which can be as hot as 1,300°F.

There are other very high alloy steels that impossibly slender hot cuts are made from. These allow knife edge hot work chisels that take very little effort to drive into hot steel.

AND one of the important things to remember about selecting tool steels is that almost anything will work mild steel but when you start working tool steels you need the best possible steels to work them. When you are making general purpose tools IF you make them of top grade tool steel they will not only work mild steel but they will ALSO work spring and tool steels when you need them to. If you can't remember what you made every tool in your shop out of then it is a good idea if they are all the BEST steel. . .

Modern smiths are often guilty of overkill in steel selections. But for hard use tools it does not hurt for them to be the best. Those that truly STUDY the art of tool making will have a number of steels on the shelf and use those that are the best for the specific application.

Things like tongs have been made of wrought iron and mild steel and are best made of mild steel. Common hammers are made from 40 point alloy steel and 50 point plain carbon steel but those used to cut, not just hammer, such as stone working hammers are often made of better steels. Swages can be made of mild steel but those that are going to see hard use should be made of a medium carbon steel. Swages with fine edges or sharp details should be made of a top grade hot work steel.

There is quite a range of steels to select from and an equal range of applications.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/12/06 00:49:55 EST

Vise placement,
Think of the shop like a Kitchen and the people who design kitchens have a big thing about a "Work Triangle"
The sink, stove and counter top, the 'Cook' is in the center. I like my Smithy the same with the forge, anvil and postvise in the same triangle orientation,,, Add a fourth position if you use a power hammer. Work at the bench, which may well be hot work, But its not forging is near by, But not within the 'triangle.
   - Sven - Tuesday, 12/12/06 01:27:27 EST

Steel grades: In toolroom work it is customary to stamp the tool steel type, and frequently the expected rockwell hardness into the workpiece. There are several reasons for this: 1) You know what it is when it is time to heat treat, as in industry it is often done by somebody else, at a later date, and often sent out. 2)When it is time to rework the part You know how to anneal, what type of weld filler to use [if needed] and how to re-heat treat. 3) When the part finally wears out or fails You know what it was made of, You know better what to make the new one from, and if a different alloy or heat treat would likely provide more sertvice You know what to use.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 12/12/06 01:51:23 EST

Shop Dummies: Marking your different varieties of steel is a very wise thing to do. Just be sure everyone in your shop understands the rules. On more than one occasion I found a guy machining a short length with the numbered end off the bar. When I asked if he re-marked the rest of the bar I got this stupid stare and "Whad'da ya mean?" as a reply. . .

Currently in my shop the only odd steels I have are A2, 405 SS and 304SS. The A2 is in a box marked A2 and the stainless is easy to identify on sight. But in our family shop there is O1, Specially heat treated H13, 4130, 304 and probably some 4140. There is also numerous grades of aluminium and brass.

Many warehouses use a color code to ID different bars and it has been recommended here to use colored tape. However, stamping the end of the bar is indelible, not effected by heat or time and does not rely on some non-standard color ID system. The only problem is dummies that cut off the marked end of the bar. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/12/06 08:36:59 EST

Vise and tool Placement: First thing to consider is the type of work you are going to do and the second is to provide for change. Shops are often laid out and setup in a permanent arrangement. Holes dug for posts, equipment anchored to the floor, forges built permanently. The problem with this is that about the time you are settled in you will get a power hammer or some other hot work equipment such as a flypress and then everything will change. . .

For doing nothing but forging the work triangle is common. I find that I prefer the vise oriented the same direction as the forge about the same distance as the anvil to the forge and to the left as I face the forge. This means that I can have my right hand on tongs and with a single step sideways be operating the vise. The anvil is usually about 4 to 5 feet in front of the forge.

But add a power hammer and everything changes. However, one method many use is a gas forge on a wheeled stand. Then it can be positioned to work primarily at the anvil OR the power hammer OR the vise.

I know a fellow that does a lot of small work and has a small leg vise attached to his relatively large coal forge. This works fine with small fires. In another friend's shop the vise is always attached to a weld platten that is just beyond the anvil. It is a little far for efficiency but the vise is as solid as the Earth istself. In this case there is also 4 power hammers surrounding the forge so there is little vise work at this station. . .

And THAT brings up another arrangement, multiple work stations. In this case there is a work station for nothing but hand work and another nearby for power hammer work. Solid fuel forges are best for hand work and gas or oil forges best for power hammer work.

The other to consider that often changes is forge type. Are you using a bellows or hand crank blower? Where that is located is where you OR someone will be standing 75% of the time. This needs to be a convienient position. Often this is predetermined by the hardware but if you are building it then you have a choice. Remember that a second person may be standing at the bellows or hand crank and you will need to work around them. Also remember that hand crank handles turn on their own and are a snagging issue. With gas forges you need front and rear clearance for the dragon's breath (unless you have an air curtain). In any case, you need to be able to get steel in and out of that fixed tunnel. Unless you use a portable gas forge in a well ventilated shop then the forge is the anchor point of the organization. However, forges are also located according to where doors and windows are or are not.

I do this kind of organization on paper. I start with scale drawing of the tools I have and kind of work space. I draw stock positions extending from the forge. Then I draw paths between work points with sufficient clearance for ease of movement. I put range of motion wings on the figure for reachability issues such as tool storage (tong and anvil tool racks). I walk through the motions in my mind and in reality taking note of issues such as handedness. It usually takes several iterations to get it right. THEN when setting up the equipment I go through walk throughs to be sure I like the spacing.

   - guru - Tuesday, 12/12/06 09:20:47 EST

Cold Rolled Steel:The replies above adressed the suitability of the type of steel, here I adress specifically the "cold Rolled" aspect. Cold Rolled is always more expensive than Hot rolled of any given grade. Once you put it in the forge fire, all advantages of the cold rolling process are lost.

I use cold rolled material for shafting and slides/guides where the finish and dimensional accuracy of the cold rolled product are useful. For everything that is forged I use other materials unless the CR was "free."
   - John Odom - Tuesday, 12/12/06 09:59:49 EST

Available hot work steels for a small shop situation are:
H13, H21, S1, and S7.

Mr. Natural sez, "Get the right steel for the right job!"
[I made that up].
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/12/06 10:22:32 EST

Couple of advantages for hot rolled: cheaper, not coated with oil, on flat stock edges are slightly chamfered and paint seems to stick better to it.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 12/12/06 11:41:21 EST

Working in the oilpatch we once had a "crew of questionable intelligence" spray corrosion inhibitor on a load of pipe out on some racks---when there was a 2- mph wind an a lot of sand going by. This was just upwind of our cars parked at our unit.

We called it in and "downed tools" and spent the rest of the shift washing our vehicles---first with disel and then with rig wash. My old beater didn't change much but the other guy's canary yellow sports car was never quite the same...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/12/06 12:36:10 EST

Frank, I think I just learned a whole lot about ya! Mr. Natch is a good friend a mine!
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 12/12/06 13:35:47 EST

We had a rail road paint crew sandblast and paint a bridge that spanned the parking lot of a nearby business. The sand blasting was just a dirty nuisance but there was no warning the day they used etching self priming paint on the bridge. The railroad was happy to fix all damages until the bills included the glass that pock marked by the etching primer (must have been REAL good stuff). They ended up paying to refinish AND replace the glass on a half dozen cars. They stopped fighting it when one of the complaintents produced a photograph of the paint crew's vehicles covered with tarps.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/12/06 13:49:53 EST

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask, but what would be the best way to price a forged sword? In this area, people don't really know the value of work and they think that anything over $150 is way too high for a good quality sword, even though it's worth a lot more. What's a good price range? If this isn't the right place to ask, can you point me to the right spot? Many thanks!

   - Rob - Tuesday, 12/12/06 15:15:28 EST

Rob, the price range is $10 through $100,000 depending on the sword.

I'd suggest asking at the bladesmiths cafe over at swordforum.com

How good are your forging, grinding, polishing, heatreating skills? How good a sword designer are you? Are your swords as light as the original ones were? Do you take blade harmonics in consideration when making a sword?

So far you question reads to me as "I have a car for sale---how much should I sell it for?" No details, no answer.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/12/06 17:01:23 EST

Rob: There is also the concept of building what your market is willing to pay for. If $150 is max, then don't invest more than that in materials, consumables and your time.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 12/12/06 18:33:13 EST

Rob, are you buying, selling, doing custom work?

If you are doing custom work then price and cost to make have little to do with each other. The makers reputation as well as quality of his work have more to with price than the actual hours to make the piece. In fact, a well known professional can usually make a piece much faster AND better at the same time as someone else without years of practice and the proper equipment. Even then it is a very competitive industry at all levels.

Pricing one's work is a difficult task. Most artist/craftsfolks are "starving artists" for a veriety of reasons. One is that selling art is a very difficult business. Again, this is where reputation and perceived value have much more to do with price than anything else. Many top artists with global reputations produce lousy work because they can get away with it. Many very fine artists can not make minimum wages from their work because they do not have the reputation.

Location also means EVERYTHING. You have already tested the local waters and apparently know the market. In every art there is a center and if you are not willing to go there and compete head to head with the best and the those with the global reputations then you will never make a living at your art. You can't set in Podunk making great works of art and expect to sell them. You have to go to New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, London, Paris. . .

   - guru - Tuesday, 12/12/06 18:48:07 EST

Fine Arts and Crafts: Also do not forget that we are in a GLOBAL market. There are fine makers world wide and many are in places where the economy is in the dumper. They can often work for 10% or less than someone in the US AND make more (in their local economy) doing so.

   - guru - Tuesday, 12/12/06 18:55:29 EST

Tonight is my company's annual Chrismas party. We have a Pollyanna and all that crap. The guy I picked happen to mention to me how he wanted a skull shaped branding iron a few years ago. The rules of the pollyana is no more than $15 for a gift. So I made the iron for him and bought a Bernzomatic torch ($15). Now, if I had been commissioned for the iron I would have sold it for anywhere between $50 to $75. It's real nice and works well on leather and wood. I will post pics on my smithing page at some point. I'm bringing this up because even though my costs to make this iron is almost a few dollars, I'm giving something thats worth WAY more.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 12/12/06 19:22:21 EST

Thanks to all for info on steel, price is the reason I asked I can get all the 5/8" round bar I want for nothing but I can only get 1040 & 4140 cold roll.
   - Sharp - Tuesday, 12/12/06 19:29:52 EST

Thanks. My forging skills aren't the best, but still are good, grinding I prefer using files and scrapers so as to get the details out with less risk of grinding too deep, polishing is good when I put time into it, and heat treating I'm practicing a bit more on. As for what I'm selling, I prefer custom work. It gives me more of something to work for rather than making blades myself and trying to sell them later. I also love to see what other people can come up with. From the answers I've gotten thus far, I'll make the best I possibly can and sell them for less than 100% worth till I get a bit more well known in the area. Many thanks!

   - Rob - Tuesday, 12/12/06 20:04:18 EST

Sharp, Both are good steels. Bring home as much as possible. Even though the 4140 does not have more carbon it is an alloy steel that is more hardenable and tougher. It is good trade material if you have excess.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/12/06 20:44:47 EST

They hydroseeded where I worked one time. Soon afterward, a friend of mine went to pick up a Government vehicle to go on travel. She said it looked like a Chia Pet.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 12/12/06 21:55:35 EST

I just finished an undergraduate degree in sculpture during which time I worked almost exclusively in metal. I'm in the process of researching graduate programs and while my professors have a good handle on sculpture programs they don't seem to know, and I have had some trouble discerning, where I might go for a really strong metalworking/ blacksmithing program with a good combination of traditional technique and artistic application. Any reccomendations or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
   Evan Thomas - Tuesday, 12/12/06 22:40:40 EST


Try Cranbrook or Southern Illinois University. Both are excellent.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/12/06 23:00:34 EST


You ol' greñudo, you.

The real saying from Mr. Natural was, "Use the right tool for the right job...Peanut Brain!"
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/12/06 23:27:47 EST

I ask and mention this out of curiousity. I was reading through the "Generation X Sword Making" article, and I happened to read the email reply, and I noticed something in there that piqued my interest.

"Your feeling that the hardware store bar was not the right material is probably right. It IS however the perfect steel for a wall hanger or far reenactments. In either case is the sword NOT going to be actually used."

I'm not sure what you consider reenactments, but the term as it is normally used among reenactors involves a lot of "use". Blades have to meet certain requirments for function and historical accuracy, roughly similar to civil war reenactments. Being involved with viking reenactment, I know that anyone who actually makes it into the groups that fight would know the basics of what goes into a good and accurate blade, be it short or long, just as well as their clothing or accesory kit(spear or axe, meadhorns, eating utensils etc), and they wouldn't use an inferior weapon for reenacting. Like I said, I'm mainly curious to know in what light you view the term. I've heard groups like the SCA or Amptgard called reenactors also. Just a wee question, answer it at your leisure.

Or not at all if I wasn't supposed to ask it here.

Thank you.
   Paul Martens - Tuesday, 12/12/06 23:30:46 EST

Paul; Swords and Reenactors:

Depends upon the reenactment group, the style of fighting, and the objective of the demonstration. One of our members in the Markland Anglo-Saxon camp has just ordered a beautiful pattern welded sword. I will be horribly accurate, it will be sharp, and it will not be used in direct contact in a battle reenactment. Its primary purpose will be to show what an actual killing machine looked like. I could never afford it, and I rely on more workmanlike blades, but it sure will look nice in our camp.

Over the years (a very important point, since customs, rules, and fashions do evolve) members of the Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia have used everything from wall hangars, to mild steel "crowbar" swords (more suitable to jimmying a window than for combat, but they looked just fine for Shakespeare’s Henry IV, part II), to finely forged rebated weapons. When we’ve done film work, we made sure that the best gear was on camera; but if they’re photographing the ship at 50 or 100 yards yards, we don’t sweat too much about what the newbie may be waving, as long as it’s in the general form required. As time has passed, the proportion of better quality weapons increases (in part, because the casualty rate for the junk is so high), but you still have beginners getting used to bearing arms or trying to make their own. Also, they can bear arms, but they can’t use them in a reenactment without training, and inspection of the weapon. Some folks are just happy to dress the part, help with the camp, and NOT fight. (Ask our well-armed Quaker friends.)

Once again what is used and what is displayed is largely a matter of the context that the reenactment group is operating in. We know we’re doing better than The 13th Warrior or (the latest abomination) The Pathfinder! ;-)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking (pictures of our new ship, Sæ Hrafn, posted): www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 12/13/06 00:22:21 EST

Play Swords and Reenactments, The reality: Watch the thundering hordes of the dark ages on The History Channel charge into battle with. . . Aluminum swords! Yes, those flashing white flat swords with steeply chamfered edges are aluminum, a material that did not exist in quantity until the 20th century. Look closer and you will see grips made of electrical tape wrapped around the tang.

Why aluminum? Because the prop guys could easily saw pieces out of a sheet or strip, they are light therefore less likely to seriously hurt someone and they do not need much polishing to be bright and shiny. AND they do not rust. . . Cheap, fast, efficient and practical. But to the eye of anyone that can distinguish the color difference between steel and aluminum they are very obvious.

CAREFULLY study the modern sword movies such as Conan and Highlander and you will see a great variety of manufacturing techniques. For carefully posed closeups and stills the sharp stuff is brought out then carefully put away lest one of the actors injure themselves. For crash bang sword to sword action soft stainless steel or aluminium swords are used and if you pay attention they are full of serious dings on their dull rounded edges. And pain upon anguish the famous ivory handled Japanese Catanna used by the Highlander is a cheap mass produced chrome plated reproduction with hollow brass rolled edge rivets holding on the cheap plastic grip. . . $29.95 on your favorite shopping network! When you are tossing your key prop off cliffs, into fires, chopping concrete. . you need a passel of replacements.

AND in the wonderfully camp (remember that word usage) Xena, Warrior Princess they used rubber armour, knives and swords. . .

Except for show (those still photo ops) reenactors use dull relatively soft blades that are designed to be as tough as possible, NOT hard. Hard blades chip and break resulting in dangerous points or broken edges.

You will also see actors and reenactors in aluminum plate armour. Same reasons. Easy to work, light weight, does not rust. The movie Excalibur was full of aluminium armour and copper maile.

All that said, As a plunging weapon a sword made of copper, aluminium, hard wood or even plastic can be just as lethal as a hardened steel blade. So even the background attacking hordes must be careful. . . same as kids playing knights in armour.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/13/06 12:52:14 EST

Beeeyoootiful Blox Bulletin: Yater swage blocks holding steady at $749, no bidders so far, bidding ends the 15th. This is not much, if anything, more than the Centaur clones.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 12/13/06 18:15:24 EST

HOOOOOray! Moving back to Houston soon! HABA, coming at ya! Ahem. Sorry, got a bit excited there. Like moving back to civilization after years in the wilderness. Wife said she will move anywhere the zip code is not "EIEIO".
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 12/13/06 19:34:55 EST

point your self out to me at the next meeting your at and we'll do some forging. What part of houston are you moving to. are you coming to the knife making demo in jenuary? hope to see you then.
Andrew B.
   Andrew B. - Wednesday, 12/13/06 22:00:05 EST

"I saw a little oven for heating curling irons and such at a beauty shop. The oven has a ceramic lining and a rheostat that goes up to 870 degrees."

Nippulini: Do you have to know brand name and model, etc. on this? May be suitable as a knife treating oven. Cannot find anything on eBay like it.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 12/14/06 00:32:12 EST

I'm hoping to make Eric Thing's Norman helm and am wondering if a charcoal forge would be sutible for sinking US 12-gauge cold roled steel milled steel (as used by Eric Thing)? If so, how big should the forge be, any ways I'd need to direct heat, and what type of belows would work?
   Loki luck - Thursday, 12/14/06 03:30:26 EST

Andrew, I don't know for sure but I think it will be on the north side, maybe even the Woodlands. I am really looking forward to being able to participate in an ABANA chapter. I don't think I will be there in January,though. It will take longer than that just to clean out my garage!
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 12/14/06 08:00:31 EST

Charcoal Forge: Loki, The great thing about solid fuel forges is that they have a wide working range. The big difference is how much air you provide. That said, a conventional Western forge works best with a depression for the fire (a fire pot) and a larger fuel reserve area. The concentrated hot spot is limited by the conical of pyramidal fire pot PLUS a little for the couple inches of reserve above the fire pot. For controllability the reserve should only be about 1/4 the depth of the firepot.

Other forges have no limit to the fire size, only the air volume limits the fire. These have a flat bottom and the only limit other than air is how deep you can file the fuel above the air inlet. Flat forges without a rim are limited to how steep the fuel will pile and not roll off the forge when disturbed. This is about half the height of an undisturbed pile of fuel. Those with a rim have the same limit plus the depth of the rim. Note that flat forges are less efficient users of fuel unless you spent a lot of time tending the fire. So you have either a loss of fuel efficiency OR a loss of working efficiency.

Note that the "reserve" area of the forge is where extra fuel is stored. Fuel is continuously raked or pushed toward the center of the fire. Reserve area is a convenience as well as an area to lay work.

A solid fuel forge can range in size from a table top micro or jewelers forge to as large as the table itself. The normal shop forge ranges from 2 x 3 feet (600 x 900mm) to 4 x 5 feet (1200 x 1500mm). Most of this area is reserve. The fire is almost never larger than half the the total and usually much less. Normal one man shop size fires are about a foot or a little more across (300 - 500mm). During the course of the day the fire tends to spread but the working area tends to be the same. Besides the forge (fire pot or flat) a lot depends on the fuel type (coal or charcoal), its lump size and how the fire is maintained. The goal is to maintain as small of a fire with a concentrated heat as is needed. In a fire pot almost the entire volume is at forging heat. However, you do not want your work at the bottom of the pot where the air comes in as this will excessively oxidize your work.

SO. . if you push the forge and have no reserve it could be as small as a foot across for your purpose. But a larger forge with some reserve is more convenient. Before building your own look at commercial firepots. If you have no experiance with this type thing a commercial firepot is a good place to start. Our advertisers sell fire pots, valves and blowers as well as complete forges.

Bellows and Blowers: There are numerous types, wood and leather, all wood, water tank and centrifugal blowers (hand crank and electric). They all do the same thing, blow air through the fire. The most convenient is the electric blower. The others let your fire die down while you are working so you are continuously building up your heat. However, some find this a fuel savings. A common sized forge uses about 60 to 200 CFM (1.7 to 5.6 M3/m) of air. A standard sized bellows such as a box bellows about a foot square and three feet long or a great double chambered bellows about 4 to 5 feet long will provide this much air when operated at a leisurely to brisk pace. 12 to 14" Hand crank blowers are in this same range.

Note that the general rule of tools is that you can do small work with a larger capacity tool but you are limited to the maximum capacity of a small tool. The "normal" shop sized forge is a balance between too small and too large.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/14/06 08:42:13 EST

Hey Loki luck,
I can tell by your questions that you haven't forged much steel. Yes, charcoal will work for forging 12 gauge. The forge has to be somewhat larger than the sheet of steel that you want to forge, large enough so you can bury the steel in the embers. How much air? About like hair dier output. Maybe a quick way to get started would be to dig a hole in the ground or use a wash tub for your forge. Lay in a 2" iron pipe (black pipe) with and end cap and holes every 1.5 inches or so. Hook up a hair dier and forge. I'm sure the guru's will give you some better information.
   - JohnW - Thursday, 12/14/06 08:55:31 EST

Loki luck, I guess they already did give you better information.
   - JohnW - Thursday, 12/14/06 08:57:42 EST

Ken, that curling iron oven was at Sally Beauty Supply. It seems to be an item for "ethnic" hair salons (judging by the photos on the cartons). Check for the Sally website, they may have it available.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 12/14/06 09:51:46 EST

Okay, I searched around... here it is. The as says 460 degrees, but there is a model I saw in the store that was a bit larger and had a higher heat rating.


Otherwise, it LOOKS cool and if you didn't know otherwise you'd think it was for heat treating.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 12/14/06 09:55:59 EST

Hmmm, That link did not work and my search found two discontinued items called "Kentucky Maid Jumbo Iron Heater". Looked a little like a slick micro forge but too small for most work. A second search found:
Kentucky Maid Big Mouth Heater KM 466
By: Kentucky Maid

Sally Item #: 476485

Kentucky Maid's largest electric stove for heating pressing combs and curler and bumper irons.
# Ceramic element maintains even and steady heat of 1000 degrees F.
# Ceramic heater guaranteed for one year.
# Six-foot power cord.
# 10-amp on/off switch.
# Adjustable rack.
# Polished aluminum frame and housing.
Like many catalog descriptions there are no basic dimensions (LWH). But this one also looks too small.

I tried to find Kentucky Maid but they only show up under sellers.

   - guru - Thursday, 12/14/06 10:41:51 EST

I have some case hardening questions you folks may be able to answer...
I would like to get some Leather charcoal to experiment with, supposedly it helps get vivid coloration. Any sources?
Lacking that, would it be fairly simple to make? I have a source for leather scraps. If I packed a threaded pipe with the scraps, capped it and heated it sufficiently, would that work? Would it explode if it wasn't vented?
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
   Bob - Thursday, 12/14/06 11:48:18 EST

Loki; since all the original Norman helms were forged using charcoal forges---why would you wonder if they would work nowdays? (use of Coal for smithing was several centuries later than the conquest, of course use of mild steel was after the American Civil War...)

Now you want *real* charcoal and not briquettes. Real charcoal does not take much air flow as the gaps are larger than coal and it doesn't coke up. A hairdryer is WAY too much air. One of my students built a forge using a hairdrier and had to throttle it back to keep from burning everything up even using coal.

A neat trick I saw at SOFA for electric blowers is to have a foot switch that only keeps the blower on when you are stepping on it---very useful for new smiths to keep from wasting fuel and burning up stock.

For charcoal I much prefer a nice set of bellows or a hand crank blower myself.

When heating sheetmetal you will want some charcoal "inside" the curve as well as outside. You can localize the heat very easily by just putting a shovelfull of charcoal over the spot you want to get hot where the other side is down against the forge fire. (Rather than having an immense charcoal pile throwing heat out everywhere that you can thrust a large object into---you don't want to heat more than you can work before it cools.)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/14/06 12:02:44 EST

Leather/bone charcoal: Only use oak tanned leather and not chrome tanned. Leave a gas vent just like you would do with making wood charcoal. Try to arrange that the generated gas burns---not a pleasent smell unburnt!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/14/06 12:04:31 EST

I wrote a post on Dec. 1 2006 about JD Smith @ Hammer Smith Knives and Publications. I still havent recieved my video and havent heard a word from this guy. I called him about 16 days ago. He told me that he was waiting for more orders to come in to cut down on his trips to the post office, But he shipped it out. Thats crap !! Anyways that was 16 days ago I asked my Post Master about it he said it should have been here along time ago. Just wanted to let everyone know. Anyboby have thoughts on this ? Im pissed

   Charles - Thursday, 12/14/06 12:15:09 EST

Trips to the post office. . . . That seems to be a pretty weak excuse. Part of business is going to the P.O. every day. Takes a big chunk of MY afternoon but that is business. CD size packages go flat rate priority mail and can be picked up from your local box. Those are easy, no need to go to the PO.

Now. . on the other hand. I have had customers type the wrong ZIP code, select the wrong state and a variety of other order errors that REALLY slow things down. Things sent by Priority mail get there in a couple three days but if the address is wrong it might take a month to return. . . In fact there are many places the PO does not deliver such as businesses that have a P.O. box. AND UPS does not deliver to PO boxes. . . we get both errors often. The second is obvious but there is no way for ME or my local PO to know that your business is not a mail stop.

It sounds like he is out of CD's or has a tiff with his producer. I thought part of the purchase included free consultation time and online forums Any input on those?

   - guru - Thursday, 12/14/06 12:31:50 EST

Colored Case Hardening: Bob, Thomas covered the leather fairly well. However, the color comes from other things. First is polish and cleanliness. No wax, oil or finger prints on the steel. Then there is lack of oxidation while heating. This means a good bone charcoal pack in a sealed container.

THEN if what you are looking for is color case hardening this comes from oxygen exposure at temper color temperatures. The way shot gun receivers and parts are colored is by quenching in water with air bubbling through. I suspect you want a lot of air. As the part cools you have oxidation at different temperatures. This is tricky high art stuff requiring considerable R&D to get right.

To prevent generalized oxidation the case hardening boxes contents, charcoal and all are dumped into the water-air bath from a short distance.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/14/06 12:42:41 EST

I checked and double checked my adress I wrote to see if that was the problem. the CD was 130.00 with change. I wrote him on his contact email on response its been almost a month now. Ive almost had with his b/s. I dont know what else to do.
   Charles - Thursday, 12/14/06 12:43:00 EST

nippulini, look at this electric kiln on e-bay just a thought. #330060002388
   ML - Thursday, 12/14/06 12:44:48 EST

Ceramic kilns (such as posted above)
Speaking from experience in college, electric ceramics kilns take a while to heat up and to cool down. Also, unless you spend the money on the rather pricey electric controls and thermostat etc. the heat is generally hard to control specifically. When firing ceramics, you go by cone temperature which means that there is a small "cone" placed near a vent. The firer checks the cone on a somewhat regular basis, and when the cone starts to soften and droop over the kiln has reached a specific temperature and the firing is done. Not nearly an accurate enough method for the control needed to temper steel in my opinion.
Now i am not saying they would not work for a tempering oven, in fact with the correct electronic controls these can be very accurate devices, it's just that those controls tend to be pretty pricey.
One option that I like is an older toaster oven. I found one at a garage sale once that went to 500 degreed F and then the dial kept going around to a "MAX" setting. For the five dollars i paid for it, it worked pretty well (even had a built in timer) i could reach a reasonably reliable 550-560 degrees with it which worked for what i needed. Unfortunately it was well used when I got it and wasn't quite up to running at MAX for multiple hours at a time... but for the few months I had it working it worked great, and i could make toasted cheese sandwiches in it as well :)
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Thursday, 12/14/06 13:38:40 EST

Guru, Thomas P.,
Thanks for the quick response!
I suspect that the scraps I have access to are Chrome tanned so I'll have to find a different source. Lighting the vent makes sense too...
I currently use a blend of Bone/wood charcoal (1:2) and get pretty good coloration thru a bubbled rainwater quench. Mostly motled greys and blues. I was thinking maybe the Leather would give me a bit of straw coloration (Maybe not).
Supposedly peach pit charcoal works as well, probably due to the Cyanide content. Really don't want to mess with that...
Thanks for all your help!
   Bob - Thursday, 12/14/06 14:40:39 EST

JohnW; Heating Sheet:

One trick I've learned when heating sheet for sinking and raising on a conventional solid fuel forge is to be sure to shovel some live coals over the top of the working area; enough to insulate and add to the heat, but not enough to obscure your vision to make sure it's not getting too hot. I usually work at a good yellow.

Of course, Eric makes beautiful armor (like my helm) out of 12 gauge steel and I make adequate cookpots out of 1/8" sheet.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/14/06 15:08:32 EST

Hmm, looks like I didn't refresh before preparing my post, and repeated some of Master Thomas's suggestions.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/14/06 15:11:30 EST

Color Case.

An old time gunsmith told me that leather gives red and bone gives blue. I haven't tried it. I believe for a decent depth of case, the casing pot needs to be held at a red heat for at least 5 hours.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/14/06 15:34:12 EST

Kilns and Heaters: Building a micro kiln using standard cookstove heating elements would not be much of a problem. The elements get more than hot enough to melt the bottom out of an aluminium pan so they would be good for a 1,000°F temper IF controlled. Tis the controls that get expensive unless you are an electronics wiz. They don't use relays in cookstoves otherwise they would be constantly clicking on and off and burning out. . . The temperature range is also HIGH, MED, LOW with a wide range of calibration. However, on the next to the highest setting one of our OLD stoves held a very consistent 600°F.

However, if you built a little furnace with stove parts then carefully measured the temperature at each switch setting then you would have a fair idea of how it controlled. Note that there are FOUR units on a typical stove (not including the oven) and they commonly get scraped because one of the five does not work OR it is just getting disreputable looking.

Note that when you wire high temperature devices you need to use special fibreglass or fibreglass and teflon insulated wire. If I was using old stove parts I would use the wires and connectors as well.

Just some thoughts. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 12/14/06 17:01:55 EST

What is the best method to hang/attach your triangle dinner bell to a bracket?
   - Mike Broach - Thursday, 12/14/06 17:43:54 EST

what type of braket are you reffering too Mike?

Andrew B.
   Andrew B. - Thursday, 12/14/06 20:42:43 EST


A leather thong works well.
   vicopper - Thursday, 12/14/06 22:07:13 EST

I understand the differences between groups, a lot like the differences in combat rules, no blows to the head, limbs, likewise etc. And the same rules get revised between each fighter in single engagments like holmegang.

I have seen your new ship, I followed news about it's construction, gained a lot of inspiration from it. It is an AWESOME ship, and thanks to my new sawmill(well, old sawmill actually, but it's big and functional, and that's what counts) I'm working on a longship of my own, though on a much smaller scale, at least to begin with. Your Sae Hraefn, is it capable of transatlantic passage? From what I've read the longship used for the first passages between vinland and greenland was 12-oared, but that was a litte shorter distance than something like a direct route over the atlantic.

Re Guru: From your post I understand that we are discussing two different things. I was referring to non-profit groups, like Ulfhednar, Jomsvikings, etc. Who reenact live for audiences at medieval faires, viking festivals and the like, where live steel is used. And I take it you are referring to film and television acting?
   Paul Martens - Thursday, 12/14/06 22:11:40 EST

hey y'all
has anyone ever build a japanese box bellows? i've found plans and it seems like it wouls work great and it looks to be great fun to use. do you think it would make it better if i were to put a layer of formica on the intereor?
Andrew B.
   Andrew B. - Thursday, 12/14/06 22:50:07 EST

I have a simple question that I hope has a simple answer. What is the best way to center up a chandeliers' hanging point so that it will hang plumb and true?

   Bill - Thursday, 12/14/06 23:05:16 EST

B, A, L, A, N, C, E . . (Sean Connery in Highlander) Bill, you either make it perfect OR you hang it and adjust it. Symmetrical objects are naturally balanced. However, nothing is ever perfect so you have to adjust.

The hard thing about balance is the center of gravity. If the device is short and squat then the CG is close to the hanging point and the smallest error will make a LOT of tilt. In tall devices the CG is far below the hanging point and even a fairly out of balance device will hang close to straight. So you avoid designing short squat things that are hung from a balance point.

On chandeliers the easiest way to balance them is to simply bend the arms in and out. If they are triangularly braced and canot be adjusted then you will have to move the vertical attachment point. If THAT cannot be moved then you will have to add or subtract weight. If the reason that something is out of balance is because it is an assymmetrical OR organic design then you will add weight. EXAMPLE, a foliage decorated chandelier. Use more or less foliage to add/subtract weight.

If the device cannot be bent and cannot have weight added then go back to the drawing board.

Use a level to check the most obvious features.
   - guru - Friday, 12/15/06 00:07:39 EST

More about Center of Gravity (CG): As noted above the farther below the hanging point the CG (center of mass) is the better something hangs straight. But there is a point where the device will not hang at all and that is if the CG is above the hanging point. Then the device will try to tip upside down.
   - guru - Friday, 12/15/06 00:54:08 EST

Swords and Acting: Paul, Amateur or professional, profit or non-profit the safety aspects of swordplay are IDENTICAL. Dull soft (should be called "sacrificial" blades) are the rule. If you read Atli's post he said nearly the same thing I did and he IS a non-profit Viking reenactor. The real stuff is for static display ONLY. The soft dull stuff is used in the demos and the REALLY cheap hokey stuff is used at great distance by the hordes (but someone forgot the tell the History Channel).

Most organizations have rules as to material, temper and edge radius. The rules are SOFT, tough and DULL.
   - guru - Friday, 12/15/06 00:20:18 EST

Box Bellows: Andrew, I have a stack of pine shelving lumber waiting to be turned into a box bellows. I was going to publish the plans AFTER building and testing it.

First, There are two designs. The bird house mainifold on the side type and the internal under floor type. The first has four check valves and the the second one three. The second type is much classier and is generally a more advanced design. In the book China at Work the bellows photographed there in the 1930's were all of the second type. Prior to the distribution of the drawing from The Craft of the Japanese Sword on the Internet (copyright infringement) the only type I had seen were the second type. This pirated plan is probably the one you found.

Second, making them out of plywood creates all kinds of friction problems. It will be bad when new and do nothing but get worse. Use real wood and wax it heavily. The piston needs to be a fairly loose fit. A variety of materials can be used for seals. I was going to use felt on edge, the old Chinese bellows used bird feathers.

I have not used one but I have watched several films of people using them in different places and they seem like they take no more effort than my old Great Bellows. They have a slight difference of character in operation and do not store air like the Great Bellows. However, I've found that the brief moment of air storage by the great bellows to be only marginal benefit.

The great advantage of the box bellows is that they require no leather and probably less wood than a Great Bellows of equal capacity. IF well made they have no disadvantages that I can tell. I recommend attaching the top with screws so that it can be removed for maintenance. The Chinese used theirs as a portable work bench including drawers, a bench clamp and file guide.
   - guru - Friday, 12/15/06 00:44:53 EST

I feared that was fearing that was a really srupid question. Could foot powered belows similar to a theater organ's work as an air supply or would that be too much?
   Loki luck - Friday, 12/15/06 03:54:20 EST

I feared that was a really srupid question. Could foot powered belows similar to a theater organ's work as an air supply or would that be too much?
   Loki luck - Friday, 12/15/06 03:55:00 EST

Sorry i'm really new to this computer thing.
   Loki luck - Friday, 12/15/06 03:56:00 EST

Paul; Longships:

Since this subject is somewhat less metallurgical in nature (unless you get me started on anchors and ground tackle) I’ll reply over at the Virtual Hammer-In forum.

Another foggy morning on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/15/06 08:17:09 EST

Foot Powered Bellows: They have been sold in the distant past for very small forges. Their sensible range of motion is short therefore the volume small.

The box Bellows disussed above is a very good option. They are simply a square tube with a piston (board) pushed by a rod that passes through one of the closed ends. There are check valves made from flaps of wood, fabric, leather or a combination of materials that let air into each end and prevent suction back in from the exhaust. The more refined design uses a hidden passageway (manifold) in the bottom of the device that connect to the outlet at the center bottom of the box. Where these join there is a V shaped chamber (viewed from the top) where a single valve plate switches back and forth. This style bellows can have the intakes in the ends of box OR also hidden in the bottom.

An alternative style has a connecting tube built onto the side of the bellows that takes the air from two simple exhaust valves to a port in the middle. This is a simpler design but I think it is rather ugly and uncouth considering the much more refined design above.

There are also two choices of push rod, single or double. The double rods are joined by a handle. The advantages of the double rods is a stronger connection to the piston and the simple external handle. The disadvantage is there are TWO push rod holes to leak air. The single rod simply requires a good connection to the piston and a T handle to have the same usability as the double rod type.

Both types should have several steel bars across the inlets and exhaust to prevent mice from inhabiting your bellows.
   - guru - Friday, 12/15/06 09:03:33 EST

A friend, John Burt, made a nice Japanese style box bellows for me. The seal around the edges of the piston board was made of fire hose material and didn't work too well. It was a little squeaky and tight. I think the Japanese used a racoon fur. Someone else told me that it was badger fur. I'm thinking rabbit fur might work.

The bellows is portable. One of my out-of-state demonstrations was at the 1991 "Rabbitstick" primitive skills rendezvous in Rexburg, Idaho, sponsored by the Boulder Outdoor Survival School. We camped on the Snake River, and I noticed that there were some nice clay banks along the river. With the clay, I built a Japanese style forge on the ground next to the river and hooked up my bellows. I used a found-object pipe for a tuyere and found-object scrap iron for forging. Everything went fairly well except for my legs getting tired. I was not used to working on the ground.

I have a photo of Yataiki, Japanese saw maker, sitting on a low cushion or pad, and his left foot is on the T-handle of his box bellows! I was told that he sometimes wiggled the handle with his foot to get a whisper of a blast. ??
   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/15/06 09:40:52 EST

I would like to make a small forge out of an old freon can.
Can you direct me to a site that would be helpful?
   Steve - Friday, 12/15/06 11:05:38 EST

I have been told that using a piece of glass on the floor of the box bellows helps the friction issue and for a stationary set up is probably fine. (Hmm sheet teflon comes to mind...)

Having been Ric Furrer's bellows thrall at Quad-State one year and using the box bellows he brought I can say I still prefer the great bellows. Mine had a great air storage capacity that made for "down time" where the box bellows was constant work. Now if I had to travel with one the box bellows wins hands down!

   Thomas P - Friday, 12/15/06 11:48:24 EST

Steve what type of forge---solid fuel or gas?

   Thomas P - Friday, 12/15/06 11:49:17 EST

i'dew like to see that picture frank!
it sounds pretty cool

Andrew B.
   Andrew B. - Friday, 12/15/06 11:53:50 EST

Micro Forge: Steve, click this link
   - guru - Friday, 12/15/06 12:08:01 EST

Propane gas
   Steve - Friday, 12/15/06 13:55:04 EST

Steve: I don't know of any plans per se. I make propane gas forges out of 20-lb Freon bottles on a regular basis. You can use the NAVIGATE anvilfire box to go down to advertisers to Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools, but a quicker way is simply to go into eBay and do a seller search on scharabo. Once in my listings do a keyword search on propane. If you see one of my designs which interests you I'll try to walk you through the step-by-step details, but you will find 'the devil is in the details'.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/15/06 15:26:49 EST

here's one site with a"How To" on freon tank forge.
   - Mike Broach - Friday, 12/15/06 18:08:47 EST


Assuming the chandelier is fairly symmetrical and "in the round", I have suspended chandeliers from three or four attached chains. The handmade links are unwelded. Each link is made of a straight bar with a turned eye at either end. If the bars are of the same length and each eye is turned in a simple jig, the links will be of equal length. When hooking them together, I open an eye slightly at a heat using scrolling tongs. Slip on a completed eye and close using tongs. Level up.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/15/06 19:42:24 EST

Kilns and Heaters: People use bench top toaster ovens as flow-solder machines for surface mount electronic components. Some components have very strict temperature profile requirements & people generally use a laptop with a very simple controller/measurement circuit. If you look on the WWW you will find everything you need to create a tight temperature profile in a consumer oven.
   andrew - Friday, 12/15/06 21:16:25 EST

Chandelier Part 2

Thanks very much for the information about balancing a chandelier. I guess it boils down to common sense and the application of a little science. Like PPW once told me. "Just keep it simple."
Now my next question: Part of the chandelier is made from a barrel hoop. I discovered that the hoop is not just a little rusty it has old paint that I suspect is baked on. The rust I am dealing with but the paint is more stubborn. I was told that carb cleaner will remove the paint and most of the rust. What do you recommend?
Thanks again.
   Bill - Friday, 12/15/06 21:46:01 EST

Can you tell me the shelf life of 316L, 316LVM and puretitanium used of orthopaedic implants, outside and also when they are implanted
   Khan - Friday, 12/15/06 22:59:42 EST

Sorry to be ignorant, but I want to make sure I get this right before wasting in the neighborhood of $500-$1000. Blades sold as "stage combat" are identical(I mean as far as the properties of "hard" "dull" and used for repeated clanging of blades) to something like steel used in a crow or wrecking bar? Then it would be pointless to buy something sold as "functional", with the ability to hold an edge, since it would be more apt to breakage.

An authentic blade is what NOT to use for actual "fighting"? Since it will just break eventually anyway?

I guess the real answer is that no one sword is going to work for every situation, and I'll just have to learn the requirements for each group, depending on the one I wind up working with.

Thanks for the patience.
   Paul Martens - Friday, 12/15/06 23:06:23 EST

God bless the intenet!
   - Loki luck - Friday, 12/15/06 23:15:28 EST

Actually, I have website on the subject now. No reply necessary. Thank you for your help.
   Paul Martens - Friday, 12/15/06 23:36:02 EST

Fighting with weapons: Paul, When you fight with deadly weapons the object is to kill your opponent. When you put on a stage show (professional, amateur, historical, for fun or otherwise) the point is to NOT kill your opponent and NOT injure yourself, your opponent or innocent bystanders. There is a big difference in the tools for each job.

Properties of steel are very subtle. Hard enough to hold an edge and cut through a variety of substances is harder than where the steel is its toughest. As soon as a sword stops being a sharp edged killing tool then toughness is more critical to its durability and safety than hardness. AND YES, the proper temper is more appropriate to that of a wrecking bar.

   - guru - Friday, 12/15/06 23:58:03 EST

Paint on Barrel Hoop: Bill, Carb cleaner will dissolve a lot of things but generally not paint, at leat not very well. Paint stores sell paint removers and that would be best. Paint remover will also cause a lot of corrosion on steel which might help match the rust.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/16/06 00:02:31 EST

Shelf Life: Khan, in OEM packaging these things have a virtually infinite life (longer than the packaging). Pure titanium is rarely used. It is almost always an alloy and in many cases plated.

This is the wrong place to ask about implant life but the SS when properly heat treated and passivated should last many times longer than a human life.

Corrosion is the least of the problems with any implant. Every part of the human body is flexible and changes with time. Metal parts do not. The body also does not like foreign objects and tends to push them out. However, there are platings that flesh does like to adhere to that reduces this problem.

I am sure there are much better places to get a second opinion on this subject.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/16/06 00:14:51 EST

Swords for Differing Missions:

No reply necessary, but just to reiterate-

An actual war sword is designed to kill people and the materials and constructions all lend themselves to that purpose, even at the cost of some strength to the blade. The ideal war sword, of course, is a combination of sharp and tough, but the compromise is aimed at creating a deadly weapon. Not all of these blades will "break eventually" but a good proportion of them may, and you don't want to be in the neighborhood when they do. (Don't even mention the unfortunate floor of Union Station; probably why the Norwegian Embassy has not invited us back. 8-P )

Swords for movies, stagecraft and reenactments are meant NOT to kill people; they are meant to prevent dangerous breakage, so toughness is the greatest virtue, and looks the next consideration. Sharpness should not enter into the equation at all.

Some folks will undoubtedly dispute this. You can usually tell them by their scars and/or missing digits.

Cool and clear on the banks of the lower Potomac. Silt fence going in at the house lot.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 12/16/06 00:27:55 EST

Thanks again guys, you're an invaluable resource.

Just a by note, that explains why the stage combat swords I've worked with(starfire is the brand) have a "dull"(probably not the correct jargon) finish, like an old steel hammer I have. I guess that is due to the constant oiling on both the hammer and the sword. The steel gets darker and darker with every oiling? A bit like an old pan I suppose, except that a pan is cast iron right?

I hate to keep asking questions, but I was wondering something... I have a huge cast iron tub, the porcelain kind, that I took from a bathroom I remodelled(I pick up lots of metal and odds and ends in my business), and I'm wondering if it is good for anything besides taking to the scrap yard to shred.

All the online resources I'm reading say that cast iron is useless pretty much. But I thought that there might be some use a beginner in metal work could put it to.
   Paul Martens - Saturday, 12/16/06 00:57:09 EST

Barrel Hoop: For removing paint I use red devil lye mix it with a little water apply to paint and within a couple minutes the paint can be hosed right off. but lye is hard to get these days as stores took it off the shelves for same reason as cold medicine apparently they use this stuff to cook drugs. but any way you can still get it on line just have to sign a waiver form. it is the best paint remover I have found.and a great degreaser also.
   - Sharp - Saturday, 12/16/06 00:59:19 EST

Cast Iron Tub: You can float down a river in one if You are carefull, if it is the "Crow Foot" type. Some people refinish them and might pay better than scrap price for one.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 12/16/06 03:06:40 EST

Cast iron tub: You could use it for a water quench tank, when the water gets too nasty just pull the plug in the drain and refill it.
   AwP - Saturday, 12/16/06 04:08:16 EST

Cast Iron: Cast has an amazing number of uses but is just not malleable so it is not very useful to the smith. Cast iron is formed primarily by its given name CASTing. Melt is and pour it into molds. Of course this is easier said than done. The secondary method of working cast iron is by machining or chip making. While we consider most chip making as a machine process today there was a period of about 100 years when cast iron was used for many machine parts and worked by hand with saw, chisel and file. Craftsmen made dovetails, sliding surfaces and the precision gauge blocks to make them flat by hand.

There are many applications where cast iron's lack of flexibility and vibrational dampening are valued. Today you can buy continuous cast iron bar, sawed plate and slabs for working in the machine shop. Today this is a cheap alternative to one off castings.

   - guru - Saturday, 12/16/06 08:50:10 EST

[ CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2006 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC