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

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

This is an archive of posts from December 25 - 31, 2006 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Merry Christmas to ALL!
   - guru - Monday, 12/25/06 09:29:40 EST

What you can "Get away with": Arik, Etal, I've written on this numerous times. Many people can get away with things that in general are considered bad practice or just plain don't work except in rare cases. Many smiths work out methods that take a LOT of TLC and luck and often beat the probability. What people can get away with often includes things that are dangerous or are not well described from a technical standpoint.

There ARE heat treating techniques for certain alloys that call for brief rapid cooling to a still relatively high temperature. The published temperature ranges for this type thing require very tight control to gain any benefit. If you can tenderly judge +/-20°F at 1300°F then more power to you. Most of the world cannot so we have less critical methods AND modern temperature measurement devices.

I know a fellow that can gas weld cast iron. Welding books say it cannot be done. In most cases it cannot but there ARE simple shapes that with the proper skills can be welded (more like re-cast) with a torch. The results are a mess and the part must be totally remachined but it HAS been welded. . .

Same for are welding hardened tool steel such as repairing anvils. A few folks have a very delicate touch and lots of luck and get away with it. I never recommend it unless the anvil is completely useless because the results are almost much less than satisfactory and most people do not have the touch or the luck. . .

Drunk drivers often get away with driving drunk for years before they kill themselves or (usually) someone else. They "get away with it" so they think they can do it. They are just lucky.

The same goes for folks that weld without protecting their eyes (by squinting or looking away). It is dumb and stupid and they might think they got away with it. But things you think you got away with today usually catch up with your body years later. OR the next time you look a 1/4 second too long and you end up in the hospital. .

Most of the time the techniques published in books are proven methods that have been found to work many more times than not. On the other hand, those things that some people "get away with" may only work for them for some reason they do not fully understand and only with very low probability by others.

When someone's technique seems to go against the grain of common practice AND cannot be fully explained to others such that it can be repeated reliably then it is generally not a good technique.

For others, remember the Darwin factor and those famous last words, "Hey Vern, watch THIS. . . "
   - guru - Monday, 12/25/06 10:04:41 EST

On aging steel:
I have had several requests for items that will look old. I've found that coating the finished piece with muratic acid, let it dry, then spray it with hydrogen peroxide every time you go by for a day or two will rust it quickly. Do this outside. You can get hydogen peroxide at a swimming pool supply store tht is much stronger than the drug store kind, but you need to be careful with it.

Merry Christmas to all.
   - Tbird - Monday, 12/25/06 12:05:25 EST

Camelia oil is used by Japanese woodworkers to protect their tools. It would probably be too pricey however, to use on a large scale.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/25/06 12:22:51 EST

Aging steel, don't forget gun browning, puts a nice controlled patnia on steel & iron.
   - Hudson - Monday, 12/25/06 20:48:02 EST

I found a William Foster 100# anvil at the flea market a couple weeks ago. The guy sold it to me for a hundred bucks. The date on the side says 1845 so I'm pretty sure its wrought iron. The anvil rings really well , the surface is pretty flat but the horn has been hit very hard on the point causing a blunt end mushroom about a 3/16" ring around the end of the horn...I don't want to grind a point on the horn if I don't have to so I'm asking what do you suggest.
   ringer - Tuesday, 12/26/06 00:58:29 EST

ringer: As I see it your repair requires a large buddy, another large anvil and probably a six-pack. The horn is wrought iron, but was forge welded onto the core body block. Thus, you have to be careful to always support the horn point underneath when using a small sledge hammer to try to rotate your way around the mushrooming. You won't come back to 'new', but should be able to put a decent point back on it.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 12/26/06 01:51:58 EST


You don't need to do anything to the horn. If you need a tiny little pointy end on the horn, you should be using a bick iron, not the horn. A pointy horn is just a great tool for putting little painful bruises on your thighs.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 12/26/06 02:52:59 EST

I've hammered at least a half dozen mushroomed horns to shape. Nobody says that they need to be needle sharp, and it doesn't take long. The finished horn will have a rounding end. If the anvil is on the ground, tip it back on its heel and support it. Heat at least a couple inches with a rosebud and freehand hammer it from the bottom, then the sides, and finally, a little from the top. If the anvil is mounted on a stand, it is easily reached without tipping onto the heel. It is all done freehand in "mid-air". It doesn't need to be resting on another anvil for forging.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/26/06 09:24:05 EST

Horn Mushrooming: First thing to be clear of is terms. Normally an anvil horn has a flat on the tip of the horn. This varies with the size and manufacturer of anvil but averages from 3/8" (10mm) to 5/8" (16mm). When new this is often a simple flat and when used or hand dressed it is rounded. The lack of a sharp point is for practical purposes and safety.

Horns often get swollen or mushroomed buy people hammering directly on the end of the horn. I do not know why or what they are doing but I assume they are NOT blacksmiths.

Most of the time the mushrooming is not severe and can be filed or ground true. On such anvils the horn is often cut up and needs a slid dressing with files or a sander as well.

In very mild cases you might dress the swelling with hammers and only in extreme cases should you need to heat the horn as Frank suggested. Working large masses such as an anvil free standing works fine. This is also a good way to raise a drooping point.

IF the mushrooming is severe and there are cracks then that material must be removed or welded. This applies to all tools where the struck end is mushroomed. On tool steel tools you do not weld the mushrooming you cut it off. Note that wrought responds poorly to modern welding techniques but gas is best (I still recommend a grinder).

For things that need a very sharp point separate tools are used. In the era of that William Foster and earlier it was common to have bickerns or stake anvils with long slender horns as a second anvil for this type work. Small cones also work for these tasks. However, with experience you will find that you can roll a small circle or scroll over a square corner as easily as a cone.

I know one professional smith that keeps a razor sharp point on his 300 pound anvil. It is dangerous and his prerogative since he works alone. If you work around an anvil enough you will end up with an occasional bruise from bumping into the horn. You do not want to draw blood.

   - guru - Tuesday, 12/26/06 09:57:14 EST

My 1903 Trenton has a nicely blunted horn. Since I tend to be somewhat of a clutz, and I have short legs, that horn is at a very dangerous height! Luckely I have only bruised the thighs, but have had a couple of close calls. I would never have a sharp point on the horn.
   ptree - Tuesday, 12/26/06 10:27:20 EST

My Old World German Pattern anvil has a flat tip/end on the horn. It is about 3/4" in diameter and poses no real threat for bodily harm. I also bought a bickern from one of our regular advertisers here for about $25 for those rare occasions when you need a fine point. I haven't used it often. I would not advocate putting a fine point on your anvil since it does represent a significant potential for injury ....... and humiliation.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 12/26/06 13:03:00 EST

AMEN vicopper!!! Having a small shop and storage on every wall and crevase, having to cross in front of the anvil can be a challenge when in a rush....blunt rules!!!! I've noticed that limping doesn't seem to help my smithing at all but bleeding would probably slowy down production considerably.
   Thumper - Tuesday, 12/26/06 13:58:21 EST

Rust Prevention: For convenient short term rust prevention, it is hard to beat the ubiquitous WD-40. Rust prevention is what the stuff was engineered for (Water Displacing oil # 40) The other uses are incidental. There are better penetrants and MUCH better lubricants, but for rust prevention, short of Ptree's super duper industrial stuff or do-it-yourself cosmoline, WD-40 is good stuff.
   John Lowther - Tuesday, 12/26/06 14:17:59 EST

WD-40 (my favorite) is good for light duty rust prevention but never outdoors as it washes off. Petroleum jelly as mentioned is good but if you want a commercial product CRC makes two.

CRC makes a standard and a heavy duty corrosion inhibitor. Both harden over time so you NEVER want to use them on fine mechanisms (time pieces, micrometers) but they do work on heavy machinery. The hardening takes weeks so if you spray it on today and need the material tomorrow or next week it just wipes off. After it hardens you need to use a solvent such as kerosene to soften and remove it. The advantage is that if you need it now, no sweat, but if you need it much later the hardening prevents in inadvertent washing or rubbing off. This also prevents your outdoor storage area from becoming an oil slick which was common in old shops where they sprayed down the outdoor stock racks with a variety of oils or diesel fuel. Use the right product and keep the EPA off your back.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/26/06 16:24:19 EST

hey y'all,
i'm starting to make some tomoharks, but i've never done it before. does anyone have any tips, tricks, sugestionsd of tools i may need or that will make it easier.
Andrew B.
   andrew B. - Tuesday, 12/26/06 17:28:18 EST

RE: Quenching oils & Forge welding
I've been forging for about two years now, and I'm mostly book-taught on techniques and materials. I'm having trouble finding any well-done guide to forge-welding, though. Any suggestions or links? Also, many of the steels I would like to work with require chemicals for cooling besides air, water, and salt-water. What are the basic chemicals I should familiarize myself with, and where might I get a hold of them.

Thank you in advance ;)
   Carl Leist - Tuesday, 12/26/06 17:41:19 EST

Carl Leist: I can't help you on the forge welding, but maybe I can for the quenching. If you do precise HT, you probably want to get an official quench oil, they're rated by quench times so you can choose the ones you specifically need (Parks is one manufacturer I can think of off hand). If you're just HTing in a forge like most of us, pretty much any oil will work, though I'd stay away from used motor oils because there's some nasty chemicals in there. Mineral oil or pretty much any vegetable oil should give acceptable results, and are safe (other then fire if you're not careful about flare ups). There's also molten salt baths used for quenching, but that's pretty high tech and if you needed something that high tech you'd probably already know it.
   AwP - Tuesday, 12/26/06 18:11:40 EST

Thanks for all the input on my William Foster,I really appreciate it.Sounds like I need to spend a little time with a hammer and file as there are no cracks in the mushrooming.
   ringer - Tuesday, 12/26/06 18:26:15 EST


Does anyone know of a coal supply near San Francisco? Buying over the net just costs too much to ship, and is in very small quantities. I know its cheating, but im more looking for coke than coal, because of some irritable neighbors. Any hints would be much appreciated. Thanks
   - Sebastian B. - Tuesday, 12/26/06 18:43:53 EST


For some forge welding advice, use the pull down menu on the right and click on iForge - how to. Scroll to numbers 95 and 96.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/26/06 19:02:16 EST

Carl Leist,
Quenching oils are sold by virtually every major and minor oil company. Call you local oil Jobber(Distributer) and ask if they can get you a 5 gallon pail at their next stock order. Most of the companies make at least three formulations, with a progression of quench rate. They probably will not know much about the oil. There are several tech lines that are toll free direct to lubrication engineers, that will be able to help dial you in. Chevron has a good one, but I can't remember the number off my head. I can post it Friday night after I go into work. Ask you local dealer for the tech line for the brand he sells and that should get you all the specific help you need.
   ptree - Tuesday, 12/26/06 19:40:58 EST

I have a tool that was donated to our shop. It is unlike anything I have seen. Is there somewhere I can post a photo in hopes someone will recognize it? It is a heavy tapering steel cylinder, with a wooden handle slanting down from the side at an angle. Some sort of hammer?
   - Neal B. - Tuesday, 12/26/06 20:13:35 EST

Bob Patrick's DVD/VHS "Forge Welding" is detailed and quite clear on how to make forge welds. I found it very good at taking some of the mystery out of the process, and the advice to “practice, and practice some more” is to the point. He also recommends you follow one set of instructions until you can do a good weld and not try to pick it up from a collection of hints and ideas. I understand he does teach an occasional class on the subject. Bob can be reached at mwilhm@shouthshore.com or 1-870-427-5559.
   Bob Johnson - Tuesday, 12/26/06 20:16:51 EST

William Foster Anvils: Postman told me that WF anvils tended to use low grade wrought iron so be carefull when cold working it!

(I was consulting him about forgewelding a new face on a trashed WF I picked up for US$5...still on the project list I need to get a crew together and try it at a conference sometime...)

   Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 12/26/06 20:44:12 EST

Thanks for the rust-prevention ideas, folks. I think I'll go with the Vaseline right now, look into the CRC stuff long-term.

   - Eric T - Tuesday, 12/26/06 20:55:07 EST

Does anyone know an address or website for Laurel Manufacturing? I bought a forge pot from them years ago and wanted another. Centaur has them for $140. Wanted to compare prices. Thanks.
   barry myers - Tuesday, 12/26/06 20:57:48 EST

Laurel-- http://www.lmfco.com/
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 12/26/06 21:11:11 EST

Thomas-- check your Email.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 12/26/06 21:14:55 EST

Sebastian B.
I just bought one ton of coke from "L Brand ForgeCoke" in Georgia. With shipping it came to $641.00 ($16.03 per 50# bag). I live in Idaho and that's cheaper than if I went to Oregon to pick some up. You can find them on the net, the ABANA suppliers list or email me for the info.
   Thumper - Tuesday, 12/26/06 21:18:13 EST

Announcing the formation of Consumer Revenge Action Patrol. Vendor doesn't deliver the goods, we go show him or her the error of their ways. Some examples of our techniques: let's say an outfit sells you a blister-packed caliper that's off by a 64th or a 32nd, what do we do? We send someone around to firebomb the home offices of the vendor AND the manufacturer is what we do. Someone sells you a book with missing pages, you don't go through the Amazon and Ebay malarkey, and wait and wait and wait. We send someone around to the errant vendor and break his or her kneecaps. Etc. Reasonable membership fees. Confidentiality assured. Satisfaction guaranteed. Franchises available. No connection with Anvilfire stated or implied.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 12/26/06 21:26:46 EST

LMF, Laurel Foundry Blacksmith line: They shut this down and sold off all the inventory in March of 2005. Since then they have also sold off their pattern collection piecemeal.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/26/06 23:05:38 EST

? Neal, send me a photo and I might be able to identify it. But I do not have a clue from your word picture. Is it a an inch tall or six feet? IS it solid or hollow? Weighs a couple pounds or a couple hundred? Does it appear forged, cast or machined. Even with a photo some of these questions will need to be answered.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/26/06 23:15:49 EST

i have built a small forge and have an anvil, hammer and a will to get started. what next
   i - Tuesday, 12/26/06 23:20:34 EST

i: Build fire, heat metal, hit hot metal with hammer. Seriously, make som "S" hooks, drive hooks and other simple stuff. Get some 20 Mule Team Borax and try some forge welds. If You weld a ring, there is only 1 part to hold while You hammer it.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 12/27/06 00:02:14 EST

i am itrested on the basic techniques used sucha as fullerin drawing etc.
   i - Wednesday, 12/27/06 00:05:30 EST

i: Order some books (go to the dropdown menu in the upper right corner and choose "21st century", scroll down to "Learning Blacksmithing"), get some tongs (pliers or vicegrips will work temporarily) and while you're waiting for them find a rusty piece of metal, stick it in the forge until it's orange, then hit it for a while.
   AwP - Wednesday, 12/27/06 00:05:33 EST

"waiting for them" = the books, not the tongs, heh... though if your rusty steel is long enough you can get by without (the tongs that is, not the books).
   AwP - Wednesday, 12/27/06 00:06:56 EST

how hot does the metal need to be to make a weld. i have herd that the romans tristed then welded horse shoes together to make the blades for their swords, how was this done
   i - Wednesday, 12/27/06 00:09:00 EST


do a search on books.google.com using common terms like blacksmith, anvil, tongs, and the like. If you look under full view books you can down load the full text of many of the books you find there.
   habu - Wednesday, 12/27/06 01:29:18 EST

Hi, I live in adelaide south australia. I am asked to sell an anvil for a friend who has recently been widowed. Is there an internet forum or simular that I could post pictures of the anvil to get an idea of worth. I think it is manufactured by Peter Wright.
   Neil Reimann - Wednesday, 12/27/06 07:34:11 EST

Andrew B.,hammer, tongs, vice and a chunk of iron (anvil). A Tomahawk drift is also nice to have for a consistant size & shape for the eye. There are a number of books like Harold Peterson's "American Indian Tomahawks" that have a few pages on making them; Google Indian Tomahawks and get your local library to order a book or two for you. Plain Borax works fine for forge welding the bit. Join your local artist black smith group; there are several smiths who will show you how.
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 12/27/06 07:41:15 EST

Neil, it's an unusual cold snap we're having here;) I'm also in Adelaide and have been looking for an anvil for some time now. A lot of anvils seem to be bought and sold on ebay. Those located on the east coast definitely fetch a higher price. If you were to sell from here, I would definitely find out how to mail it & make that an option - ie make it available to east coast buyers. Though people may be hesitant to bid on an expensive purchase from somebody with little ebay history.
I've also been to a number of auctions and anvils definitely fetch a decent price. If there are a number of items to be sold, this may be the way to go.
If you were to look through recently concluded ebay auctions you'll see what they're selling in the range of $400 to $1000 depending on the size and condition - which is also in line with real auctions I've been to. It seems that we don't have anywhere near the variety of manufacturers found in the US, which makes things a little easier.
Unfortunately, we don't appear to have a local blacksmiths association here.
   andrew - Wednesday, 12/27/06 08:26:02 EST

The best forge welding success I've had is whenever I am doing a demo for a friend or such. I go through the motions as I've studied, then apply them in a demonstration. Works better than whenever I tried to do it alone.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 12/27/06 09:29:50 EST

Thomas Powers: Some years ago now I heard the story of the UMBA forge welding on a new top to an old anvil. They had just put down a new concrete road in front of a woman blacksmith's (name escapes me) farm. They tied it to the back of a tractor and she rode it upside down while her husband drove to take off the old top. They successfully forge welded on a new top at a group gathering, then dropped it into a 55-gallon drum of water - which about instantly turned to steam. If you know Bob Bergman he likely knows the full story.

i: Go the the NAVIGATE anvilfire box in the upper right. Open menu. Look for FAQs. Then find the one on How to get started in blacksmithing. Lots of excellent information under the FAQs and other titles. On the anvilfire home page also look for iForge - something like 200 projects there.

For a newbie I highly recommend Lorelie Sims' book: The Backyard Blacksmith: Traditional Techniques for the Modern Smith. Available through anvilfire advertisers (on drop down menu also) and via Internet book sellers, including eBay. Most excellent book with lots and lots of high quality photographs, illustrations, techniques and tips. Well worth the cost. (Ms. Sims isn't hard to look at either.)

You will find it is easy to make one of something. Being able to make multiple ones almost exactly alike is experience. I also recommend starting on simple S-hooks. Make them out of say 1/4" square and round until you can turn them out to a predetermined length by eye. Good exercise in length determination, drawing out, tapering, bending and final shaping. Also make nice little gifts for friends and family as plant hangers and such.

andrew: I thought there was once an Australian Blacksmith Association but it seems to have dropped off of ABANA's list. Why not start your own Australian group? I believe to become affiliated with ABANA you need a petition from five ABANA members with officers (normally president, vice president and secretary). To be just listed on their affiliate list you do not need to be a formal ABANA chapter/group. Perhaps spice up the name to Australian Artist-Blacksmith Association. Perhaps have an annual conference alternating through the providences at someone's shop. ABANA may or may not be willing to give you the name and addys of their AU members.

Heard story the group welcomed Queen E II arrivial in Sidney Harbor years back with a 21 anvil blowing salute.

Neil: Unless it is a very old Peter Wright the classic sign of a PW is small flat areas on top of the front and back feet. PW was also pretty well the only one to use five handling holes on some of their anvils. Typical logo was (stacked) PETER WRIGHT PATENT ENGLAND (after about 1910) and the weight in the stone weight system. For the number of PWs still around today they must have really been turning them out - and also speaks very well on their quality. Likely the two other major English exporters to AU would be Mouse Hole Forge and Wilkinson.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 12/27/06 10:14:36 EST

Questions, Questions: Imelt, As noted a good place to start is our Getting Started article. We suggest a number of books there and have reviews of all of them. We have advertisers which sell them which helps bring you this information. For projects see our iForge page there are many projects and demos of varying difficulty these include information on welding and basic processes. See our FAQs and glossary for a wide variety of questions.

You will find that most of your questions from how to punch a hole to how to build a power hammer are answered here.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/27/06 11:06:18 EST


Tune into www.villagesmith.com.au/ and Alan and Helen Ball will be able to answer your questions. They are in Queensland not too far from Brisbane.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/27/06 11:24:36 EST

Jock and Miles Undercut, thanks for the information on Laurel Manufacturing. Sorry to hear that they have grown away from us. Are there any other sources of forge pots to compare Centaur with? I am trying to get four of them so that our Guild can build a teaching trailer, Thanks.
   barry myers - Wednesday, 12/27/06 13:05:32 EST


Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil (SOFA) sells a very heavy-duty firepot, I understand. Someone here will undoubtedly have the contact information for you. The SOFA firepot is supposed to be about half again as heavy as the Centaur, as I recall.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/27/06 14:02:28 EST

On the SOF&A firepots they are 5/8" thick. Pricey, but you aren't likely to wear one out in a lifetime. No website I know of on them which works. Send a business-size SASE to Bob Cruikshank, 1495 W. Possom Road, Springfield, OH 45506 and ask for brochure and current prices (with S&H). Bob is a pipefitter and is on the road a lot so may take a bit to get information back. Come in three sizes: general purpose, knifemakers and portable round. I had a GP for years and upgrade to a knifemakers (slightly longer and wider). I washed my old one, spray painted it black and sold it for more than I originally paid. Looked about as good as new even though I had had some quite hot fires in it.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 12/27/06 14:27:03 EST

barry-- the Laurel website is still active, but sans smithing gear. Query them re: what they did with their goodies. I talked with the proprietor years ago re: Yater swage blocks. He (the prop.) is an avid smith or at least was. Maybe he knows who took over his line if anyone.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 12/27/06 14:27:24 EST

Re SOFA firepots:

"Honest Bob" Cruickshank just got out of the hospital today, I think, from a triple by-pas surgery. He shold be hanging ner the home fires for a few days, at least. If you know Bob, you know it won't be much more than a week or so and he'll be back to doing stuff he probably shouldn't. (grin)
   vicopper - Wednesday, 12/27/06 15:15:24 EST

Bob Cruikshank is reported across the street to be getting out of the hosipital from heart surgery tomorrow. Honest Bob is a nice guy and decent to deal with.
   ptree - Wednesday, 12/27/06 15:16:31 EST

has anyone here used the "Smithing Coal/Coking coal" from HomeHardware?
and , also ,does anyone know what ist composition is?
i know its bituminuos, i have heard , low ash , very low clinker, and cokes VERY well,
anyone else used it? its about 20 bucks, canadian, for a 70-75 lb bag. is that expensive?
   Cameron - Wednesday, 12/27/06 19:09:28 EST

As it turns out, Laurel Manufacturing does still sell some blacksmith stuff. Their price is somewhat higher than Centaur at: firepot with clinker breaker and tuyere for $255.00 plus freight. They sell an electric blower for $90.00 and an attachment assembly with an air gate. This assemble connects the blower to the tuyere. The attachment assembly is $25.00. The blower is small in size but produces 135CFM with a high static pressure. According to Ray Robinson, it will blow coke out of the firepot if you are not careful.

Ray Robinson
   barry myers - Wednesday, 12/27/06 21:08:23 EST

Greetings, All:

I just wanted to thank everyone that addressed my question about non-standard methods of normalizing steel. It was very informative. I've had nothing but great experiences posting here on Anvilfire. Thanks a million to all who run it and contribute. Happy forging!

Arik Greenberg
   Arik Greenberg - Thursday, 12/28/06 02:38:13 EST

For a blower take a look at item #16-1336 at www.surpluscenter.com. Exit opening is 3" diameter, which should fit a gate valve offered by most of the Anvilfire advertisers (about $14). 100 cfm output blower. Tin housing, but overall not bad for the money.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 12/28/06 03:03:40 EST

HomeHardware Coal,
Cameron, The best way to know is to buy a bag and try it out. I believe 20 CDN for 70Lb is a good deal, Provided its a decent smithing coal.
Me and my neighborhood Smiths are happy to get Cumberland for 22USD for 50Lb and have to travel about 150 mile round trip to get it. Of course would prefer it be cheaper...
We primarily burn gas, But use coal for occasional use, welding and portable demonstration.
We burn 5-600Lb/year Otherwise would need a cheaper coal source and buy it bulk.

There is no-name Smithing coal closer to home at the same price, Burns well and cokes and everything, But its a miserable clinker making crap, One can actually see tiny white sparkles of sand within the nuggets. Lets hope your HomeHardware stuff comes from somewhere else.
   - Sven - Thursday, 12/28/06 03:59:09 EST

hey y'all
i jsutwanted to let y'all know that i recieved some pretty darn cool things for christmas. i got a couple nbew hammers, almost 50 brand new files, a book called the "Tool Engineers Handbook" and another called "Machinery's Handbook" i got a new anvil hardy horn from Kayne and Son, and about 300 LBs. of steel.
just thought i'de let y'al know i had a pretty good christmas. hope y'all did to
happy new years y'all
Andrew B.
   - andrew B. - Thursday, 12/28/06 13:17:59 EST

an old friend of mine, bought me a used forge for christmas,
he says hes bringitn it out to me in the next few days,
its from Canadian forge and blower, and has a blower attached, its 36 inches across,
and he says i need Sand for it, what would the sand be used for?
   Cameron - Thursday, 12/28/06 14:18:24 EST

Cameron, some folks put sand in the bottom of forges to prevent overheating the pan. However, this is usually not necessary and causes excessive clinkers. Some forges without a fire pot were labeled "Clay before Using". These usually needed a clay "ducks nest" formed over the joint between pan and tuyeer to help hold the center of the fire similar to being in a fire pot. It also reduced the heat going into the pan. This was important on some cast iron pans that could not take the heat and would crack.

Forges with sheet metal or steel pans need protection from rust more than heat. Forges used in heavy service are clayed to prevent burn out. However, clay will generally not help a fire pot and it will clog up the useful shape.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/28/06 14:44:01 EST

ok, I believe the forge is alot like a buffalo forge and blower portable of semiportable forge, because canadian forge and blower is a subsidiary of buffalo, it was fixed up by a blacksmith neibhour of his, if it is in good shape, would it still be a good forge?
   Cameron - Thursday, 12/28/06 14:51:15 EST

Andrew, congratulations. Machinery's is a book we highly recommend and have several reviews of. The ASTE Tool Engineers Handbook is a little technical for blacksmiths.

Files are expensive and valuable additions to your tool set. Some will be rapidly dulled thus consumables that will need replacing. Others will last years if properly cared for. Keep your files lightly oiled with WD-40 to prevent rust. If you work with soft non-ferrous metals then set aside files that will never be used on steel for brass, aluminium and others. If you do wood work some of the large coarse files are handy for smoothing wood. These should also be sharp and set aside for that purpose.

A handy tool to go with the files is a "file card". It has a stiff fibre brush surface and an open SS wire brush surface for cleaning debris and nits from your files. Keep your files clean and oiled and they will last many years.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/28/06 14:56:54 EST

Cameron, All these commercial forges were good to OK forges. However, the major manufacturers made dozens of designes and sizes. "Good shape" has a lot of latitude. A forge in good shape can have a bad blower that needs replacing. What is good also has a lot of leeway. Generally the best forges have a good heavy firepot that holds and helps concentrate the fire. These also have a clinker breaker and ash dump. Many portable forges have a flat bottom which is much less useful. "Portable" also has a wide range of definition. I used to build portable machinery that weighed up to 50 tons. It was portable in that it was designed to break down and be moved into place then disassembled when you were done with it. But it still weighed tons.

   - guru - Thursday, 12/28/06 15:09:03 EST

Guru, I just read your recommendation to coat files with a light coat of WD40. This is what I always felt was proper storage procedure but was recently told NEVER to put any kind of oil on a file. It will hold the filings in the teeth and dull the performance. So, what is the correct procedure? I have a good selection of useable US and German made files I do not want to mess up.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 12/28/06 17:50:55 EST

I do not oil my files, but I store them to prevent rust. Yeras ago, I was advised to store my precision tools and files in a tight box, and to place a block of champhor in the box. Worked a treat. I no longer work where I got the champhor and am now searching for a source.
To prevent filings sticking, the old standby is to rub chalk on the file.
   ptree - Thursday, 12/28/06 19:50:23 EST

I was in Lowes today and found some rubber toolbox liner (it looks just like the shelf and drawer liner only it was black) that contained a corrosion inhibitor. This is a vapor-release material and it really does work. I think you could use this to keep files from rusting. Put them and the liner into a sealed box and it works even better. However, 8 feet x 2 feet rolls are $15. That will buy a lot of WD40.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 12/28/06 19:56:35 EST

Does anzone have plans on making a bodkn arrowhead. My friend wants one, but i cant figue out a good way to make the base. Should it be a round socket to fit over the shaft, or a flat shiv to fit inside the shaft.
   - Sebastian B. - Thursday, 12/28/06 20:58:00 EST


I think the correct spelling is camphor. Wikipedia says it's available in Indian grocery stores, so that might be a place to try, if they exist where you are. There's one near me I keep meaning to check out -- maybe I'll stop in and see if they really have camphor.
   Mike B - Thursday, 12/28/06 21:47:41 EST

Sebastian, I have no plans, but for my friends that shoot blackpowder and do reenacting, I make the tips out of 12g sheet with an insert shaft. Put some notches on the insert part, which should be slightly wider than the shaft, so that when they are tied in place, the sinew goes in the grooves, this way they come back out of the target with the shaft!! Also, on the bottom of the head, radius it up towards the point (like a leaf, or upside down tear drop), this also helps with removal from the target.
   Thumper - Thursday, 12/28/06 22:50:01 EST

Ptree and all
Lots of old toolmaker used to put moth balls in their tool boxes to prevent rust.
   - Tom H - Thursday, 12/28/06 23:11:36 EST

Sebastian, go to its the livelyknives site,

theres 2 types of arrowheads, and the bottom one is bodkin ,
i;ve made a few, really easy,

   cameron - Thursday, 12/28/06 23:29:42 EST

Sebastian; Tanged and Socketed Arrowheads:

Both types were used depending on where and when you were in medieval Europe. Generally, tanged points were used with reeds for shafts, while socketed points were used with solid shafts. There is some information on forging spearheads in the iForge and Armoury sections here at Anvilfire. For projectile points you need to just work on a finer scale. I've seen a smith knock out a socketed leaf point in about three heats out of 1/4" (~6 mm) square rod. One key point is to use the same length every time to keep the weights even for consistant shooting.

In some recent tests against actual mail and gambeson, the bodkin (spike) point proved relatively inefficient, since it ended to snagged-up in the cloth. Sort of counter intuitive. However, it's not the sort of thing to catch in the occularium (eye slot) of you helm! 8-0

Tom H; Mothballs:

I use moth balls to keep the mice out of my tool drawers, mouse whiz being somewhat corrosive. I hadn't though of the benefit of the vapors displacing oxygen and humid air. I guess I'll add a few more moth balls for luck. :-)

Cold and clear on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/28/06 23:48:17 EST

Hi Sebastian. I heard Lazzari's in Brisbane (near South SF) carries coke. But, the last time someone checked, he said that Sierra Forge and Fire bought it all out. You could give them a call. It's pretty close to San Francisco.
   EricC - Friday, 12/29/06 02:21:52 EST

Looking for a supplier of PROFESSIONAL grade 8-32 taps. Hardware store taps are junk and I'm tired of paying money for stuff that snaps after it's 3rd use.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 12/29/06 02:39:12 EST

By the way, I DO use plenty of thread cutting oil and proper technique.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 12/29/06 02:39:47 EST

On coal you can also try www.switchboard.com. Do a search on coal in your state/area. However, many of the listings likely don't sell coal/coke at all or at retail.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/29/06 07:35:29 EST

Nippulini, try Mike Morrison at Hagemeyer, 502-961-5930. They are an industrial supplier that sells to blacksmiths by phone with a credit card.
   ptree - Friday, 12/29/06 09:11:15 EST

J&L Industrial Supply has more taps than you can shake a stick at, good prices usually cheaper than the hardware store, and fast shipping.

They are where I buy my 2-56 taps.
   - Hudson - Friday, 12/29/06 10:05:19 EST

Oil on Files: If you notice many new files come with a light coating of oil. WD-40 has a very thin oil that I have never had trouble with. However, if working any absorbent material (wood, bondo) the oil should be wiped off first.

We call the little buildup of chips that attach to files and sand paper, "nits". These harm the work more than the tool leaving scratches. However, they do lead to breaking teeth on small files and sufficient clogging and the file is useless. On sandpaper they are prevented by wet sanding and can be picked off by hand as one works.

On files I have found their occurrence less prevelent on oiled files. I find that it helps to wipe the swarf off onto a rag pulling the file backwards to dislodge the material. When nits do occur they are difficult to remove. I have used file cards, power wire wheels with a fine brush AND picked them out with a pointed tool like an ice pick. The method has depended on the type of file or rasp and the persistence of the nits.

Even on wood working rasps these accumulations occur. When there is sappy wood (a knot) or working bondo they can clog a rasp badly. Hand brushing will not remove the more stubborn nits so I use a power wire brush. On rasps I use the brush horizontal to the teeth. This will remove most nits. Those that persist must be picked out with a sharp tool like an ice pick.

On very fine files I wash the less persistent nits out with WD-40 and compressed air. Any that are left I attack with an ice pick.

On medium files used on general iron and steel work I use a file card while working and a power wire brush later before storing my files. My power wire brush is a very soft stainless wheel (about .008 -.010" wires) run at 1800 RPM. The combination of the soft wire and slow speed make a very gentle brush. The same wheel run at bench grinder speed (3600 PRM) or a coarser wheel would not be suitable for this purpose. A brass wire wheel may be better but I have never tried one.

I've used files dry and oiled (with WD-40) and do not see much difference. Fine files should be dried before using and cleaned regularly. I slide a file across my finger tips every so often checking for persistent nits and address the problem when it occurs. On a good sharp dry file you can gently tap the file on a wood block to dislodge swarf. But you need to regularly inspect for nits.

Bad file etiquette includes dragging the file backwards, lifting and driving the file into the work (this breaks teeth), tapping the file hard on anything heavy such as a steel table, platten, anvil (this will break files).

Good file etiquette includes using handles on files, using a file card while filing, cleaning (and oiling) files before putting them away, storing files so that they do not rattle against other files.

This last admonition is the most difficult for me. I store files in boxes, drawers and rolls. The rolls are plastic or cloth and are the best for preventing file to file contact. However they often do not fit into drawers. Many folks hang files on racks. This works in a dry environment but not in a high condensation area.

I oil my files and keep my fine sharpening stones dry.
   - guru - Friday, 12/29/06 10:21:00 EST

Taps: Besides those listed above there is also McMaster-Carr who gives you a choice of quality.

The #1 reason for tap breakage is hand drilled holes. These are often crooked or even curved. A tap cannot follow such a hole and will break.

The #2 reason for tap breakage is the wrong drill. 70% and greater thread is VERY difficult to produce without absolute precision (taping in a machine). Drop to 60% and the tap lasts much longer at very little reduction in thread strength.

The #3 reason for tap breakage is hand taping. It is almost impossible to start a tap perfectly straight. Once in the hole it is constantly flexing as it tries to follow the hole OR cut the hole where it is not. .

The #4 reason is cheap taps.

The best way to tap a hole is in a drill press or milling machine without moving the work. Drill the hole then tap in place. This assures perfect alignment. You can hand tap using a center in the spindle. That is what that center drilled place is for in your tap handle AND in some taps.

When using "proper" technique you can just run the tap straight through and back without stopping or backing off to break chips. We hand taped some four hundred 1" holes in 1.5" plate on a vertical surface using two taps and a magnetic base drill press. The biggest problem was not losing alignment on the vertical surface followed by making sure we could extract the drill and fit the center. I had to resharpen the drills a couple times but we had no broken or worn out taps.

The best tapping fluid is no longer legally available. That was trichlorethelene dry cleaning fluid. The original TapFree and TapMagic was TriC. It was old fluid that had picked up oils that could not economically be extracted. So a little wax and perfume was added and it was sold as tapping fluid. It was GREAT stuff but need good ventilation AND it was not supposed to be used in pumped (machine) systems. But folks used it in their machines resulting in overwhelming fumes and the banning of it from the market. . .

Tric was a fine fluid that ran right to the cutting edge of the tap and evaporated there with a sizzeling noise as you turned the tap. This was keeping the edge cool and lubricated where it was most important. Fantastic stuff. .
   - guru - Friday, 12/29/06 10:47:18 EST

I am looking at a Peter Wright anvil & Otto Kanady (sic) forge. How can I make sure that they are authentic?
   A.C. - Friday, 12/29/06 10:48:33 EST

Antiques: AC, Unless you are buying at collectors prices they most likely ARE what they are. However, there has been one dealer on ebay recently that has been marking tools as having been made by Peter Wright which were not. His markings, though craftily done were made with modern letter stamps. This presented 3 faults:

1) Modern stamps are made from machine milled dies with round conical corners. Old stamps were made from hand made dies and then were hand dressed with square corners.

2) Old stamps were generally the serif type which are no longer made or very expensive.

3) The stamps were used individually, old machinery was stamped by a one piece die just a modern equipment is (or engraved by hand).

Although this is a lot of tells it takes close examination by someone with a sharp eye and the knowledge of what to look for.

On the Canedy-Otto forge and blower the manufacturer's name is usually cast into the piece which is very difficult to forge. Canedy-Otto also sold a variety of trade marks including Western Chief, Royal, Royal Western Chief. . .

If you are paying collector's or museum prices then you should NOT be in that market if you have to ask what is authentic. If you have not studied the available literature and looked at numerous legitimate pieces then you should not be in the collector's market. This is the current problem on ebay. There are thousands of naive collectors with more money than sense and many dealers that know just enough to be crooks. They hide behind the anonymity of ebay and disappear when things get hot.

If you are buying these tools to use then you should not be paying collector's prices. You can buy a new Peddinghaus for what many collectors are paying for exceptional antique anvils. New coal forges and anvils are available from our advertisers. There are also many good quality old forges and anvils that are unmarked and have little or no collector's value but are FINE tools. No-name old blacksmiths' tools appreciate as well as do collector's pieces, just at lower prices.

If you insist on buying "name" antique blacksmith tools you need to start with as much literature as possible. A good place to start is our store. We have Anvils in America, its follow up Mousehole Forge and a Canedy-Otto catalog CD-ROM. Soon (a week or so) we should have the Champion and Buffalo CD's back in stock.

Some of the other books on the subject are collector's items themselves. This includes any industrial or tool catalog from the 1800's and old copies of Blacksmith and Wheelwright (now being sold a page at a time on ebay). Out of print works include Blacksmiths and Farriers Tools at Shelburne Museum, Tools, Machinery, Blacksmiths Supplies, Sears Roebuck Co (~1910), A Catalogue of Tool For Watch and Clock Makers, by John Wyke of Liverpool (~1780), The Kenneth Lynch Collection. .

The above is just a few in my collection that apply to this subject and I am NOT a collector. Real collectors are willing to pay collector's prices for books on the subject but are as likely to have bought the books before they were out of print and become collector's items. Many of mine were bought new as reprints, some as new original catalogs. Even catalogs from the 1950's are now rare reference material. My most recent acquisition is an 1881 copy of Ancient Bronze Implements of Great Britain and Ireland. It probably cost as much as that Canedy-Otto forge you are eying is worth.

The old saying "buyer beware" has the most meaning in the antique and collectable market. Education is an important tool in this market.
   - guru - Friday, 12/29/06 11:58:09 EST

I have a propane forge problem. A blue flame is coming out from the mouth of my forge about a foot or so. The opening of my forge is 3"x4.5" Inside the forge its 6"rd.x18"lg. I used 3" of k-wool w/satanite/ITC-100 It's A 12" pipe forge.
I built 2 of R.R.e-z burners w/SS Zoller Flares. #60 orfice in the burners. 3/4"x1-1/4" bushings. When I put a blower to the intake of the burners the flame sucks right in. If I mount a blower i'm afraid I'll melt the flare as well as the 3/4" pipe it sure gets very hot. I run from .5-10pds of propane. Any thoughts?
   William - Friday, 12/29/06 12:32:57 EST

AC: Typical signs of a Peter Wright:

1. Flats on the top of the front and back feet.
2. Five handling holes in some models.

However, Henry Wright in the late 1800s/early 1900s made an anvil virtually identical to PW except for logo. (Not know if they were related.) One Swedish anvil brand (one piece cast steel) also used the flats for a bit.

Classic (typical) PW logo was quite large. (Stacked): PETER WRIGHT PATENT LONDON (after about 1910), then weight in the British stone system with SOLID WROUGHT in a circle, usually around middle weight number.

HW's logo was typically: (Stacked): HENRY WRIGHT ENGLAND (After about 1910) WARRANTED SOLID with the weight in actual pounds.

Thus, if the first name is been worn off, other stampings should differentiate them.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/29/06 13:10:19 EST

Tool Hardening:
I got a nice hotcut tool at an auction but it won't hold an edge. Im looking for a refresher on tempering. I made a hammer years ago and am trying to remember the steps. Keep the middle part softer and the working surfaces harder, anneal, Harden just the ends? and temper to just past straw color?
   andy - Friday, 12/29/06 13:39:32 EST

William: What you have run into is somewhat the perils of a homemade forge. Each has its own characteristics/needs. Blue flame indicates you are running gas rich. Yellow flame indicates you are running air rich.

Back off on pressure to see if it helps flame come to neutral. If not, try increasing your air supply by opening up air baffles, if you have them. If that doesn't help then I suspect your air supply is simply too limited. Without a great deal of extra work can you change the 1 1/4" x 3/4" bell coupler to 1 1/2" x 3/4". If still runs gas rich then you might consider increasing tube size to 1".

Remaining option would be to use an oriface of a smaller size, such as #64 or #65.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/29/06 13:58:39 EST

Andy, First see our FAQ on JunkYard steels, this aplies to all unknown steels. Second consider that it may not have been made out of good steel if made by an amateur. Then see our FAQ on heat treating.

In general you want to heat to non-magnetic, quench (I always use oil if I do not know the steel), then temper. On a tool like this you can quench 50% then quickly grind or file the edge and watch the colors run. I would guess a straw on the edge. Then quench to stop the tempering.

Note that hardies, designed as hot cuts often do not do well on cold material. They also get over tempered by hot work that is too heavy.
   - guru - Friday, 12/29/06 14:02:41 EST

Gas Forge: William, As noted by Ken building a gas forge is a somewhat perilous trial and error process. Proportions are critical as are shapes. There are bulbous or hemispherical pipe reducers and funnel or conical reducers. The later are much preferred but there is no specification for one verses the other. How you clean and debur the orifice is critical (did you get the back side?).

The 3" of Kaowool is overkill as many folks use 1" and I recommend 2". This makes a big difference in volume.

I've had good luck with the burners I've built recently using MIG tips (see our forge page) but blower type burners are the most fool proof.
   - guru - Friday, 12/29/06 14:12:29 EST

Guru, in a recent post you mentioned a stainless wire wheel. I've been looking to get one of those for a while but haven't been able to find one locally. I'd prefer a cup wheel for my angle grinder but anything would be better than nothing. Can you point me to a source?
   T. Gold - Friday, 12/29/06 14:40:47 EST

McMaster-Carr carries them as does my local industrial hardware supplier.

Note that I have found a peculiarity in the McMaster on-line catalog. The PDF pages are what is in their current print edition but often the stock selector where you start by part type, configuration, size. . and so on often finds things not on the PDF pages.
   - guru - Friday, 12/29/06 15:17:20 EST

Thanks for the suppliers... I'll try them out as soon as I can. The starter holes are drilled in a press using a drill jig that is ALL perfectly perpendicular. I used a hand drill and some hand spindle, but never the drill press. I was under the impression that once the tap reaches the bottom the workpiece would lift up and spin wobble break the tap, plus a drill press is more difficult to stop or slow down as compared to a variable speed drill.

The cutting fluid is a no-name brand from HF. It foams up, then liquifies when worked. It's a little greasy, but doesn't flare up with torch or arc.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 12/29/06 15:43:39 EST

Nip, you use the drill press to GUIDE the tap not turn it. You put a center in the chuck, it fits the top of the tap handle and this holds everything in alignment.

Most drills are two fast to tap with and it helps to have a 3PH motor so you can reverse instantly. The other option is a taping head which reverses after disengaging (appears to be instantaneous). Many machinists tap in milling machines due to the low speed and instantaneous 3PH reversing.

Note that even though you can reverse a single phase motor you cannot do so instantaneously. The motor just keeps going the same way unless it comes to a dead stop first.
   - guru - Friday, 12/29/06 17:12:45 EST

Last time I looked, the auto parts stores here still sold triclor-based brake cleaner. I've tried it with a tap and heard the sizzling the guru mentioned.
   Mike B - Friday, 12/29/06 17:52:17 EST

T. Gold, be careful of using a wire cup wheel in an angle grinder. They (the wire wheels) are not made for high RPMs and can throw wire darts at your eyes. I use a buffer/polisher for my wire cup wheel because is turns much slower.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 12/29/06 21:40:47 EST

Nippulini, I often use the drill press to tap as follows;
1. set up the vise to hold the part leaving enough height to remove the tap drill from the chuck.
2. Drill.
3. remove dril and tighten the chuck by hand only, on the smooth diameter of the tap.
4. Add the tap lube, start the drill motor, and turn off, as the spindle coasts, gently feed the spindle down into the hole.
5. when the tap stops turn the spindle by hand until the chuck spins on the tap. Loosen the chuck. Then add a tap handle and continue tapping by hand.

I have often found small nits in the tap teeth on the smaller taps, especially when tapping stainless. These will bind up a small tap and cause them to break. If tapping Stainless steel, the best tap lube I found was a Master Chemical Co. product. I believe it was OM-303. If you e-mail me I will get the exact call out and a contact for you on Tuesday when I can get to my card file at work.
We used this stuff in 43 screw machines cutting and rollthreading stainless, carbon, and monel. It beat every tap fluid we ever tried, and the tool makers would sneak down and swipe it to refill their old Tap matic cans. It is a little expensive, but cheaper than broken taps and bad holes.
   ptree - Friday, 12/29/06 22:12:04 EST

"Nits" in files: Where I come from they say such a file is "pinned". A good way to clear the debris from the teeth is to use the edge of a piece of soft material, alumunum, copper, brass, etc. and push it parallel to the file teeth. The soft metal will push the debris out of the teeth without dulling the file. I have used the power wire brush too, but it will tend to dull the file even if You are careful, so it really isn't a great thing to do.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 12/29/06 23:26:33 EST

Nip: Stainless is tough to tap, as Jock mentioned a bit larger hole helps a lot and reduces the strength of the threads verry little. If the material is thick and You can drill all the way through, drilling a clearance hole from the back to leave 1 to 1.5 X diameter [5/32 to 15/64" in the case of an 8-32]helps allso. I generally used spiral point "gun" taps [that is what the companies I worked for usually had] and did not back up to break chips. If You use these in a blind hole You need to drill plenty of extra depth for the chips. Hand taps need to be backed up to break chips. If You deal with MSC Co. they offer several grades or quality levels allso. They offer "top quality USA" which should be good ones.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 12/29/06 23:42:05 EST

ANother thing to keep in mind on buying taps is that the big industrial supply houses sell taps in differing tread engagement percentages. 75% engagement, as Jock and Dave mentioned, is a lot and makes for difficult tapping on certain sizes like 8-32, 1/4-20 and some others wher the ratios of overall diameter to root diameter and thread area are just "inconvenient." I used to break a lot of 1/4-20 taps, but never broke a 1/4-28. So I buy 1/4-20 taps in 60% engagement now. That way I still use the same tap drill the chart calls for instead of having to mess about finding the right drill to get a 75% tap a bit loose. For the 1/4-28, I stick with the 75%, as those smaller threads leave less room for sloppy fits with any strength.
   vicopper - Saturday, 12/30/06 00:00:05 EST

Spiral Point or "Gun" taps: These push the chips forward and if a through hole out the back side. I much prefer these for hand tapping than standard old 4 flute "hand" taps. They are designed for machine tapping but work well by hand.

Broken Taps: While doing everything right will extend the life of a tap I usually retire small taps as soon as I note ANY extra resistance AND after every job where a hand full of holes are tapped. The expense of removing a broken tap is so high, especially small ones where you usually lose the part that it is ALMOST cost effective to scrap a tap for every hole. Sounds ridiculous but if you consider the cost of a part in progress and double that cost to save the part then small taps start looking like pretty cheap insurance. The same goes for small split point drills that cannot be economically resharpened like new. Use them until they show signs of dulling and scrap them.

I toss small drills because the shanks, while good HSS steel are annealed. Taps however are all hard and the shanks make great bruins, gravers and lathe cutters. I like them for making boring tools.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/30/06 00:10:10 EST

Recently I heard that common household bleach will cause steel to rust practically over night. Normally when I want to brown a piece I have been working on I use gun browning but I think bleach would be less expensive in quantity. I know bleach acts as an acid and I know to stop an acids reaction you have to use another chemical (I think it's called a base). I also know that I should not believe everything I hear especially when it comes from people who THINK they know what they're talking about. So please let me know if bleach will actually brown my steel. If it will, is it safe to use (with normal precautions like gloves, goggles and ventilation) and will it be less expensive in the long run than using the gun browning?
Thanks all,
   Will - Saturday, 12/30/06 00:23:01 EST

Hi,My name is Mark and I live in Beckenham Western Australia. I recently bought an Anvil In South Australia Markings on the side of the Anvil are as follows.
WILKINSON JUNR (looks like the word junr)
It is stamped on the otherside 32 Which is the correct weight in pounds.
Can you tell me the date it may have been manufactured.
Much appreciated, Thankyou.
Mark Colleran.
   Mark Colleran - Saturday, 12/30/06 01:30:59 EST

Will: The bleach will definatly cause rust, but it is an oxidiser, not an acid. You shouldn't need to neutralise with a base, but a caustic de-greasing might help get more uniform results BEFORE the bleach. The bleach can be rinsed, and will degrade quickly in heat or sunlight. I don't know if it will give the same results as a prepaired browning solution however.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 12/30/06 03:59:31 EST

Mark Colleran: There were apparently several manufacturers of Wilkinson brand anvils in Dudley, England. I would assume them to be related, but perhaps not. Anvil's in America does not list your particular logo. The JUNR is surely Junior, but may not be spelled out. Most Wilkinsons read either QUEENS or QUEENS CROSS between the last name and DUDLEY.

Use of FREEBODIE is interesting. I would assume it to be equivalent to FREE BODY, likely related to someone not born to slavery or indenture (a free man). However, it might have some business-related usage.

I am surprised weight is stamped in pounds, rather than the British stone weight or kilograms. 32 pounds is a very small anvil.

My guess is the anvil was made fairly well into the 1900s, perhaps between 1910 and 1940. May be among the last anvils made in Dudley.

Any chance of getting a digital photograph of both sides I can passed on to Richard Postman, author of AIA? If logo is faint you can bring it out by laying on side, dusting with flour, brushing off excess and photographing it that way. If so, just click on my name and send as an attachment to an e-mail.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/30/06 08:18:33 EST


I'm not doubting you or anything (I've learned that's a good way to be proved wrong), but how can taps be made in different engagement percentages? You're starting with the same hole size. There still has to be room for a standard bolt when you finish. To end up with a sloppy fit, you'd have to remove more metal, not less. So what's different about the tap?
   Mike B - Saturday, 12/30/06 08:19:42 EST

See, I've proved myself wrong already. The valleys on the tap must be shallower, removing more metal from the hole, but leaving the core of the tap stronger. Fine thread taps have more core left anyway, so it makes sense to use a a higher engagement percentage.
   Mike B - Saturday, 12/30/06 08:25:19 EST

Bleach: Bleach is an oxidizer, not an acid as dave states. It is actually quite basic. BUT when it acts as an oxodizer, one of the products is hydrochloric (muratic) acid. It may leave an acid residue. Ironwork needs a good thorough rinse AND neutralization with something basic.

As for the finish it produces, experiment!
   - John Odom - Saturday, 12/30/06 08:57:59 EST

I tap 1/4 x 20 holes in standard 3/4" black iron pipe on a regular basis. A variable speed, reversible, battery powered drill seems to work just fine. I put tappping fluid on the tap about every other time.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/30/06 09:10:25 EST

Tapped Hole Percentages: Taps are generally the nominal size plus a little clearance depending on their class. The percentage of thread is determined by the size of the hole drilled for tapping. I've never seen taps based on a percentage but some may be made.

A standard taped hole has a sharp 60° outer corner and a slight flat on the inside corner (even at 100%). A threaded part has a flat on the outer corner and a nearly sharp inside corner. This flat is smaller than that of the taped hole. Between the two parts this assure there is not an interference fit.

When you reduce the perecentage of thread in a hole you drill a larger hole thus making a larger than standard flat on the corner of the thread. Anything greater than 50% thread leaves an equal shear line on both hole and part. A 60% thread is a common "loose" fit that provides most of the strength or the joint. A 70% thread is considered "normal" for engineering purposes and is what is given on most tap drill charts if other percentages are not given. 75% is the maximum recommended and very difficult to tap.

Unless you have very high strength bolt or stud in a soft material there is little point in a high percentage thread. However, if threads are 1 diameter deep or less then a high percentage may be recommended. At 1.5 diameters deep with a 60% thread the fastener will generally pull in two before the thread fails.

If you have a LOT of holes to tap it pays to use a low percentage thread (60%) as tapping goes quickly and easily and tools last longer.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/30/06 09:10:54 EST

All this info is AWESOME guys... it's really helping. Just to let everyone know, I am not tapping into SS, it is cold rolled mild steel. The threads are being placed in two spots fot our tattoo machine frames. We've done a lot of R&D to come up with a reliable design and built several jigs to ensure each frame comes out to the same dimensions. One thread goes through 1/4" stock and the other goes through 3/4" of material (thats the one that kills the taps). I've had to grind down the exposed break, weld it in and start a new hole as close as I could get. So far there are a couple frames that someone will buy that has a hidden piece of a tap welded inside the metal. I should charge extra for those.

Would it be a good idea to run 60% through first, then 70%?
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 12/30/06 09:40:11 EST

The thing to remember about threading and tapping is that you only need to be as strong as the bolt/screw, anymore is a waste (unless you are using it for adjustment) The Gurus may say different, but I have always used as a rule of thumb that the amount of thread needed is the height of a heavy nut plus two threads.
   - Hudson - Saturday, 12/30/06 10:04:12 EST

Nippulini, If you are breaking taps in the 3/4" thick material, I would stay with the 60%. Also, if it is feasable I would back relieve the hole. That is, I would drill from the back side of the untapped hole, with a drill that clears the screw completly to about 1/4" from the front surface. A #8 crew does not gain any strenght much past 1.5 diameters deep. That deep a threaded hole, with that small a tap is a pretty tuff row to hoe. Another thought is to go up a size in the screw diameter if possible.
Ken's success with tapping the 3/4" pipe is an exaple of tapping a reasonably shallow hole. The tap does not tend to see any misalignment, and has much less material to cut.
In machine design, a 1.5 diameter deep thread is considered a reasonable thread. 1 diameter is considered to be minimum for full strenght, if at 70%.

Tap sizing. In production tapping there are taps rated by the "G" system. These are the tolerences that the tap is made to, and help in specifing the taps to yeild the fit of thread desired. In our production dept, at the valve shop, we tested taps and fluids and processes hard. When you spend a million$ a month or more on expendable tooling you pay close attention. Taps were always noted as to "G" rating such as 1/2-13NC G-7. Once approved, the taps were ordered to that specification. These were for straight threads, not pipe taps. Seemingly trivial changes in tooling like taps made a tremendous difference when running production.
   ptree - Saturday, 12/30/06 10:05:39 EST

All tattoo machine frames use 8-32, so I really can't stray from that and use a thicker bolt.

Here's the situation: A 1x3/4 piece is stack welded to the end of a 4x3/4 piece. A 5/16" hole is drilled in the center of the stack portion. Then the piece is turned 90 and drilled through the 1 inch piece of 3/4. We tap all the way through, then cut a line down the center of the stack cutting through the 5/16 hole and a bit beyond. Then the left side of the cut gets the threads rmoved by drilling a larger hole. This is the tube vise. When a thumbscrew is placed in the unthreaded portion it catches into to right side of the cut where the threads are still intact, thus squeezing the two sides of the vise together.

Is there a redundancy here?
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 12/30/06 10:14:26 EST

YES, Do not tap through. Do the counter drill operation FIRST thus reducing the length of the tapped hole. If you drill AND tap from the top the oversize hole acts as a guide and the end of of the drilled hole a starting chamfer.

All properly drilled and taped holes have a chamfer at both ends of the threaded hole. In taping operations this helps start the tap AND slightly reduces the depth being taped. As ptree noted, very small changes make a big difference in production.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/30/06 10:28:46 EST

Nippulini, as the Guru stated, do the counterdrill first. Also, a very neat and usefull tool is a sinple countersink. Look up "Weldon" and look at their countersinks. They look like a bulged diamond on the end of a shank, with a hole drilled on angle. They are the best all around countersink We tested and resist chatter better than the fluted designs. They work well in a hand drill as well. In machine shop practice it is good form to always break sharp corners from drilling, even if you don't then tap. My standard default when I was making detail drawings was a 45 degree x 1/16" corner break on very hole. I defaulted to a 1/16" x 45 degree corner break on edges as well. Good practice to remove burrs, and safe for the hands as well.
   ptree - Saturday, 12/30/06 11:12:28 EST

Well, the little Indian grocery is now a 10-story condo. That camphor must be powerful stuff! (grin)
   Mike B - Saturday, 12/30/06 12:51:06 EST

You can buy camphor oil on eBay.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/30/06 15:31:37 EST

Hey there Guru, I have absolutely no experience in metal working, but I did recieve a sword as a gift and it has some rust spots on it. All I know is it says China on the side of the blade so I don't know what type of metal it is. My question, what type of sand paper grade should I use or is there a specific way to remove the rust and polish the sword so it looks nice? I'm not really planing on useing the sword as a weapon, just to display it. thanks.
   Mike - Saturday, 12/30/06 16:12:45 EST

Rusty sword, If it has rust, Its probably carbon steel, Could be a low end stainless, or a stainless with poor finish.
How bad is the rust ? I cant see it from here...
If its just tiny spots here and there that dont pitted the surface much, one could go with a 800 or so grit wet-dry
then keep polishing until the spot is blended in.
BUT,,,this will ruin the patina of the entire area, Then its a real bugger to refinish the whole thing.
I restored sewing machines and some pistols, Just burnishing off tiny rust spots with a blunt screwdriver and WD40 Al this really does is knock off the protruding rust bloom (which is considerably bigger than the actual surface damage to the steel) and leaves just tiny black spot to the steel without damage to the surrounding polished or patina area. The oil prevents further rusting and that I continue to use the machines what keeps further rust blooming polished off.

Mind you if the Sword is somehow an antique with real value, Dont do any thing I recommend here..
   - Sven - Saturday, 12/30/06 18:03:54 EST

Rust spots:, As Sven noted a lot depends on the material type and if it is plated or lacquered.

I would try very fine "0000" steel wool rather than sandpaper of any grit. There is a possibility that the blade has a cheap plating job and the rust has bled through from underneath. In this case it will shine up nicely without marring the finish. But it is going to continue to rust.

The other cheap finish they put on wall hangers is clear lacquer over bare steel. Any fingerprint will rust under the lacquer and any thin or scratched place will rust under the lacquer.

If it is a bare metal blade of any type then you can refinish it with steel wool or fine sandpaper. Keep all your strokes along the length of the blade. Wet-or-dry sandpaper works best and lasts longest wet (with water). In the end you have a uniform finish. To prevent rust you will need to apply a thin coat of oil every so often.

Note that stainless steel is quite good about not rusting EXCEPT that almost all the tools used to work it are steel that rusts and some of this can get deposited on the surface. Rust stains also transfer from steel to stainless by plating the stainless. . . Either case is a problem. In both cases refinishing is usually required.

IF the blade has a very highly polished surface and you want to remove the rust and restore the finish then remove the rust as gently as possible disturbing as little finish as possible. THEN using a soft rag and Dupont Orange rubbing compound you can polish out the rust spot. Then is the finish does not match you will want to refinish all over with the Dupont Orange.

Bright finishes vary greatly from shiney sanded surfaces to brilliant mirror surfaces. The biggest difference is that any thing less than a perfect mirror finish has a directional grain to the finish. This and the degree of polish is very difficult to match. So in many cases you are forced to refinish an entire surface unless you are lucky and his the same finish technique they OEM used.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/30/06 18:31:59 EST

Occasionally I come across vises that are missing their handles. Didn't they all come with upset or welded ends on them? To remove them you have to cut them off then the vise is pretty well useless right? Using an oversized lever bar instead of the handle would have over stressed the mechanics of the vise, particularly the threads except it's diameter would have matched the original bar so bending would have been an issue. I don't think metal was ever that scarce that the handle of your vise had to be sacrificed, so, anyone got any ideas?
   Thumper - Saturday, 12/30/06 21:19:42 EST

Thumper: I have one of those vises with a phone pole bolt for a handle too. I think the ball ends might not have been welded, just the end peened in a hole in the ball. I have seen machinist vises that I know are this way. If the handle works out of the ball and the ball or handle or both gets misplaced, a cheap, dirty, field expedient way is to put in a long bolt.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 12/30/06 23:09:19 EST

can i have permision to post som of the pics that are on one of my websites?
   - i - Saturday, 12/30/06 23:13:22 EST

Vise Handles: First, Items like these are scaled to the size needed and would be at LEAST the nearest 1/16" size on common vises and 1/32" on miniature vises.

The best vises had upset ends but some had threaded ends. However, most old vises were upset and those that are missing were probably bent one too many times and broke or were removed. I also suspect that some were removed to use longer handles that were never made permanent. This is not that unusual. Very old vises had a wrench that fit and modern milling machine vises still use a removable handle or a wrench.

I have one old vise that the handle is either a size too small or the wrought is much too soft. In any case it is easily bent by hand. Next time I am in one of those fixing moods I will replace it with CR mild steel.

The easy way is to repair these is to start with a bar that fits, then weld buildup and grind the ends. Upsetting is not too bad to do if you prefer. The first end is easy as it can be done in a bolster and swage. The second end needs a clamping tool to fit a vise (vise to repair a vise) OR you can take your time and work it by hand.

Either way you do the second upset with the screw out of the vise. It is not that tough a job to do. The hardest part is obtaining that 1/16" increment bar stock to fit right.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/30/06 23:20:08 EST

Imelt, you may post URLs but HTML embedded code is filtered here so photos will not show in the forum.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/30/06 23:21:56 EST

Nothing hard at all about finding the right diameter stock for that vise handle. You're a blacksmith, right? Forge it to size.

It will be less work than running around looking for the stuff off the rack and will even save a tiny bit of work on upsetting the first end, too. It's also good practice for hammer control and consistency.
   vicopper - Sunday, 12/31/06 00:23:34 EST

vicopper, you misunderstood, is wasn't a post of how to fix the problem, it was to find out why the problem exists. On the one I own, I found an appropriate sized old stock bar, filed the ends, hammered a nut down onto the shaft (squeeze fit), then welded and finished...kinda cool, I probably have the only vise around with hexagon ends.
   Thumper - Sunday, 12/31/06 01:00:58 EST

ooops,.....on the handle.
   Thumper - Sunday, 12/31/06 01:02:05 EST

You can also forge weld on a large nut one one or both ends. However, you need to cut a notch out of the bolt in order for it to be able to shrink around the handle. Once forge welded on you can dress it up to a more ball shape.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/31/06 01:04:17 EST

I have a vise a prior user/abuser welded the handle to center on the screw like a "T". The welds cracked as well both legs of the "T" were bent ending up sort of a "Y" shape.
I cut away all the abused mess then cleaned up the ball end of the screw. Replaced the handle with CR steel bar that I welded collars to its ends to replicate the ball ends.
Before final assembly place heavy rubber washers on the new handle to cushion the handle ends from slamming to the screw as the handle is dropped whilst in action. This is a safety measure to reduce the pinch hazard
(Everybody knows to keep their hands well clear of this area whilst turning the vise screw,, Right?? ) as well makes for quieter operation.
   - Sven - Sunday, 12/31/06 07:35:11 EST

A trick I use on vise handles is to use big cross section O-rings as the handle ball cushion. When new they stretch enough to fit over the ball end.
   ptree - Sunday, 12/31/06 11:07:39 EST

It is funny that this thread comes up now. I spent part of yesterday making a new handle for one of my post vises. A previous owner had made a handle for it by arc welding hex nuts to the end of some stock. I didn't like the looks of it and finally decided to make new one. I forged some 3/4 inch round down to half round in a swage to make collars for the ends of a length of 1 in round stock. Then just forge welded these collars on.
   btappel - Sunday, 12/31/06 11:08:09 EST

My new-to-me Indian Chief vise has large hex nuts threaded on the handle. Who made the Indian Chief vise?
   Brian C - Sunday, 12/31/06 12:29:17 EST

The vises in our guild shop have washers cut from heavy inner tubes and streched over the handle ends. I've been told shock absorber bushings can be used that way too, if you can find ones the right size.

To me, the most important thing about the cushions is that they stop the handle balls from raising that razor-sharp ridge around the hole in the screw.
   Mike B - Sunday, 12/31/06 12:44:18 EST

Indian Chief vises were made by Columbus Forge & Iron Co., Columbus, Ohio. They were sold with ball-end handles, no hex nuts. The company is related to Trenton anvil manufacture.

I've seen some second rate mechanics put a pipe on one vise handle end to gain leverage. Some guys call it a "cheater". Not a good practice. "Action yields reaction."
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/31/06 13:17:43 EST

I have made some cheater pipes for women who might need to change a tire on their own some time. When tire lugs are put on with the air gun they can be very difficult to get off manually. A cheater about 2' long can really make a difference.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/31/06 15:17:03 EST

Vise Handle Bumpers: Over 30 years ago Steve Kayne gave me several large rubber electrical wiring hole grommets for this purpose. I put them on my large bench vise and they are still there today. These come in a variety of sizes and work quite well. They do a variety of things for you. They reduce noise, they reduce raising a sharp edge on the hole AND they reduce pinching by the handle. On smaller vises they stop pinching altogether but on my large vise they only prevent drawing blood. Still a lot better than nothing!

The noise reduction is probably one of the greatest benefits. Pinching by a vise handle is something you learn to avoid fairly rapidly.

Cheater: When I replace a vise handle I usually do so with a slightly longer one so that there is no need to lean on the vise or use a cheater. However, this is probably a bad practice in general as some folks don't know when to stop. . .

We used to complain about the little short bent lug wrenches that came on MG's and Triumphs until I taught a little girl how to change her own tires. I figured it would help her know where the directions for doing so were as a reminder. In the process I learned that those short bent lug wrenches were designed to use by foot. Put them in a convenient position between +15° and -30° of horizontal on the lug nut and give it a push with your foot to break loose. . . It was AMAZINGLY easy! However, the method requires the right design wrench and matching lug nuts. Many large bent type wrenches do not work and most cars do not have deep hex nuts.

On old Volkswagon Beatles the rear brake drums had a tapered fit to the axle which tended to slip out against the nut making them so tight that a heavy impact wrench would not remove them. We had a HD 1" breaker bar and an 8 foot length of pipe to break these loose. Generally it took someone holding the brake and two people standing on the cheater. . . It bent the breaker bar handle every time. When we did the next one we straightened the handle. . . This was one of many reasons that when I had my own shop I refused to work on Volkswagons.

In general though if a cheater is necessary then something is wrong. I've found that when vises seemed like they needed more it was because they lacked good lubrication on the screw. A little Never-seize on the the threads and under the thrust bearings makes a world of difference. Plain oil even helps on those that never get oiled.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/31/06 15:57:34 EST

Hey guys. Im pretty new to smithing and Im having some trouble getting the coke in my forge going. Where Im at is pretty cold right now. Does the cold weather make it that much harder to get the coke going? Any tips/tricks? Thanks a lot.
   CJBHM52 - Sunday, 12/31/06 16:00:05 EST

VW Bug was an okay car-- up to about 60,000 miles, when they began to deteriorate rapidly. Value engineering, it was called. Then the geniuses of Wolfsberg decided to build their version old Nazi jeep-- and outsource the job to Mexico. The Thing, they called it. Wow! Entropy in action, disintegration as you went down the road. I encountered one dealer in Nebraska who refused to endanger his customers' lives by selling it.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 12/31/06 17:31:18 EST

Coke: CJ, Commercial coke takes a hot fire to get going then requires a constant blast of air to continue burning. Generally if you are using a bellows or hand crank blower then forget coke. Most users start coke with an oxy-acetylene torch. It can be started by other methods but this is the best. Otherwise you need good kindling and possibly some regular coal. I have found using volatile fire starters non-productive as they produce a cool fuel bed from evaporation and when gone the coke is usually not burning.

Coke is also very porous and if left out in the weather can be nearly impossible to start.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/31/06 17:45:07 EST

At the valve shop we built a number of different style valves. Some had Union Bonnet design. This has a large nut like a pipe union, that holds the bonnet on. These were 16 threads per inch and as big as 8" diameter. For a class 800 valve that had to hold 3000psi at shell test, this took a tremendous torque. These had either a spiral wound gasket or an Armco iron gasket. These were lubed up, and spun down with a BIG air impact gun. These BIG IR guns had two pipe handles and hung from a hoist. Beat the operators up pretty bad. Half the valves leaked at test. Then back they came and the gun applied again for a good long session of noise and operator abuse. Half those leaked. Then they came back and put a 14' cheater, with three guys pulling and got about half those to pass, and the rest were scrapped.
My first piece of machinery for that company was a hydraulic torquer for that job. Big hydraulic motor sitting on a triple planatary gear box set up. I also found a 70% moly paste that reduced the torque requirement by about 40%We did not beat up the operators, no noise to speak of, and 98% pass on the first try. You should have seen the vise to hold the valve, huge. Our customers bought these with the thought they could disassemble these to repair! After a couple of years at 600 to 800F, in steam service, I think probably a hot wrench would have been the only way to disassemble these.
   ptree - Sunday, 12/31/06 17:51:41 EST

Miles, they only cars worse for entropy in use were the British Leyland cars. My Dad had a succesion of Trimumphs, and MG's, and his comment was that they were a hoot to drive, but that they should issue a bushel basket when they sold them to put all the parts that fall off. He actually used a '63 MG Midget as a commuter to drive about 100 miles a day for years. After he had finally replaced all the Lucas electrical stuff with parts off some Buick I think it was a decent little car. He put maybe 200,000 miles on it. His story of thoughtlessy taking it into an auto car wash and nearly drowning as he tried to keep the sliding windows closed was memorable.
   ptree - Sunday, 12/31/06 17:56:11 EST

Volkswagon: Remember the hundreds of used car ads for them in the 1970's "FOR SALE: Good condition with new rebuilt engine."

My problem with them was you could count on a spark plug stripping out in the aluminum heads at least 1 in 4 tuneups. I did not like telling folks that they needed the engine pulled when all they came in for was a tuneup. Of course the experienced VW mechanics handled it differently. They just put in thread inserts without pulling the heads (all that debris in the cylinder) OR they just didn't change the plugs. . .

Then there were the manifold air heaters that occasionally blew flaming bits of debris in your face when you had the defrost turned on. . .

OH. . and then there were the replacement batteries where they didn't put special covers over the terminals and if someone heavy sat in the right rear seat it shorted on the spring and either blew up the battery or set the seat on fire. . .

On the other hand I had a Porche 914 back in the mid 1970's. . one cold night it sucked in ALL the valve guides on a restart (hot heads, cold air). Had to replace both heads. Cost a small fortune and all the parts said "Volkswagon" on the box. I had it with paying Porche prices for VW parts and sold the car as soon as I got it back together. The 1972 Ford Pinto I replaced it with was not nearly so "cool" but it ran better than the Porche and lasted for 200,000 miles with minor repairs. Ironically this was the German built 2 liter engine and transmission model. It had the original water pump and clutch when we sold it at 242,000 miles.

Remember the old Volkswagon ads? The car that floats, an important safety feature. . and "We will never change" referencing their air-cooled motors and the floatation "feature". Never say never. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 12/31/06 18:16:08 EST

Volkswagen: I had a 1954 beetle and a 1964 Kombi. They were something. I was nearly killed when hit in the rear while driving the '54. Broke both knees when I was hit in the Kombi. They were clever, innovative and impractical.
   - John Odom - Sunday, 12/31/06 18:38:03 EST

The old British sports cars had their problems but nobody else built anything nearly as fun to drive in the price range except Fiat and the small one was junkier than the MG's. The British sports cars were designed to be fun, not dependable transportation. The "domestic" cars that had the same engines had single down draft carburettors and lower RPM cams hooked to 3 speed tansmissions (just like US domestic cars of the time).

I worked on these cars as a specialist for a number of years and found that a large number of the problems were the tinkerers that would not dream of taking a wrench to their mother's Chevy but would would turn every knob and screw on their MG because it was a cute little "toy" car. The dual carbs had about a dozen screw adjustments that had to be made in the right logical order and NEVER tinkered with. . . But they just COULD NOT be resisted. The distributor had an external timing knob for the British market where when they meant low octane gasoline they meant really LOW. . another unresistible feature to tinkers.

The biggest problem these cars had was the points were only good for about 10,000 miles AND they came in a set of a bunch of pieces that were hard to install if you were not patient. The lead wire going to them was also prone to getting twisted off by the klutzy. So almost all the problems started at the points which amateurs did not like replacing and often botched. So not only did you need points but a source of OEM lead wires which only the BEST suppliers carried.

Oddly that Pinto we replaced the Porche with had the exact same Bosche (Volkswagon type) distributer that needed points every 10,000 to 15,000 miles as well. They needed points even more often and ran quite poorly if you set them to the Ford recommended gap. . . Set to the VW/Porche gap of almost double the distance they lasted longer and the car ran better. . . But they had the same problem as the MG's. Folks wouldn't replace the points and immediately started turning screws. . . and the cars got a bad reputation.

Now there are no screws to turn and you just scrap the whole car when the computer system gets flaky. But most last a LONG time before that.

HAPPY NEW YEAR: We have a great new year ahead!

And with the passing of the NEW YEAR we can morn the "good old days" when US cars were the best in the world and US automakers were number one. Now Toyota is number one in US sales and the Japanese combined are number one in the world. If you look at a map of tiny Japan compared to the US you could not believe that such a tiny place could snatch this leveraged position from the US. But it has happened.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/31/06 19:00:00 EST

hey y'all
i know this is gonig to sound alittle crazy. but what exactly does an Arbor Press do? i've heard alot about them but never really seen one is business.
Andrew B.
   - andrew B. - Sunday, 12/31/06 19:25:56 EST

Once had a neighbor where everyone in the family drove Beetles. Normally 6-8 in the driveway and yard. They simply kept a couple of spare engines and when a tune-up was needed they could swap out an engine in less than a half-hour.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/31/06 19:28:42 EST

I've had my Pinto Wagon for a few years now, engine probably has 150,000 miles on it. Worst problem I had on it was the electrical system. I had to replace the auxilliary shaft, gear and distributor shaft only to find out that I needed a new cap as well. Pinto's also have a lot of other German parts, assembled in Canada but it's an American car.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 12/31/06 19:40:10 EST

Hi, I have just bought a hobart stick welder. It is a stickmate LX 225 ac/dc 225 ac do you have any advice for a new beginner. I would also like to know what types of metals and steels can be welded with this. Thank you for your time and have a Happy New Year. sincerely vi,
   violet - Sunday, 12/31/06 20:09:16 EST


I'm a self taught "farmer welder", but I believe you should be able to weld mild steel with 60 series and 70 series electrodes. If you're lucky, you can sometimes stick cast iron together with a special electrode. Special high nickel electrodes can be used on stainless steel. Someone else with more experience may chime in here.


The first car in my name was a 1960 Hillman Minx convertable, a little four cylinder British car. It seems I was always setting the distributor points on the little booger. My horseshoeing rig was a 1965 Datsun pickup. They were beginning to import them about then. Mine had some salt spray pock marks, so I got it discounted. The total price was $1,500, new. When I looked under the hood, I could swear they copied the Hillman or Austin English style of engine.

Both vehicles went downhill pretty well, but lugged some going uphill.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/31/06 21:03:13 EST

I am playing around with making very simple charcoal forges but I am having trouble finding information on how to construct a simple bellows and the best way to have it set up for use with charcoal.
   Aaron - Sunday, 12/31/06 21:27:34 EST

I have had several beetles and the '60 I had when I came out of the ARMY was sorta special. Built with the last of the 36 Hp engines, that had the crank running on bearings that were cast bosses in the case. Had to weld them up and line bore to rebuild! I put a 40 Hp in as soon as I torched off the rear end making it into a Baja buggy. I took the engine out to tune it as it was easier then bending over. Had a spare that I kept tuned and just swaped if the weather was bad. My brother and I got good at swapping and our record on this car was 7 minutes running to running. It was still a worn out junker with no heat, very unsafe, but a hoot.
I have a tube buggy I am working on from time to time, but I am looking for a different engine than an air cooled VW. Not in a hurry.
   ptree - Sunday, 12/31/06 21:41:45 EST

charcoal, is in the simplest terms...is...carnon, which is what fire does to things *turns things to carbon*. do you know what happens to carbon when it burns? that's right...it goes away. so to work with charcoal, it only take a little bit of air flow as opposed to coal, which takes some "umph". as for a simple bellows. go to a garage sale,*or you closest wal-mart* and get a little hair dryer that can go very softly. then go get a piece of BLACK IRON "T" PIPE DO NOT USE GALVANIZED and a BLACK IRON pipe reducer that will fit over the hair dryer. the one end of the "T" pipe up in the botton of the fire box. put some kind of weighted closing mecanism on the opposing end and then a metal bucket of basin under that. now on the side part of the "T" pipe fix on your BLACK IRON PIPE and your BLACK IRON reduser. and your hair dryer. put all the on a stand holding everthing secure. load of the forge and let it go. another way that might actualy be simpleris...to just get the fire box and stick the BLACK IRON PIPE down to where the ari is goin' right in the middle of the box, then load it up and let it burn. another thing about charcoal is, it burns hot and it burns fast, so keep a good supply of it on hand as you'll need it quite abit, another thing from my expience with charcoal is the the biger mound of it you can make the hotter and longer the fire will be. the great thing about the blower set up is that it can easialy be used for coal as well, just up the air goin' in.
hopw that helps
forge well
Andrew B.
   - andrew B. - Sunday, 12/31/06 21:42:53 EST

coke: I use coke in my forge (burns clean for the suburbs & leaves the big river redgums standing instead of being turned to charcoal). I start with a decent wood kindling fire, place a couple handfuls of coke on the fire, wait till it warms, then turn on the air & add a few more handfuls of coke. Once the coke is starting to catch, I'll add some more. The biggest problem is the wood fire burning out before the coke catches - I always include a few pieces of ultra-dense jarrah offcuts which burn slowly . Also, you need to be really careful not to have too much air when starting. I generally start with the fan intake almost entirely blocked & don't increase it until the wood is all burnt & I have a glowing pile of coke. And don't pile the coke on too quickly. It's taken me some to find a method that works first time every time.
Now, if only I could find the best way to weld in a coke fire - since you can't use a layer of wet coal to build the classic nest....
   andrew - Sunday, 12/31/06 22:34:34 EST

Arbor Press: These were designed and built to press arbors into bored holes. The arbors were used to support work between work accurately in a lathe. Some arbors were simple press fits and others were an expansion type. Both required a press. The standard type needed a long stroke for the arbor and a follower.

Arbor presses are also used for broaching key ways as a long stoke is needed for this as well.

Arbor presses are used for any work within their capacity which is fairly light as they are a simple mechanical leverage device (rack and pinion). Many bearings can be pressed in and out with an arbor press.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/31/06 23:05:30 EST

Guru, I have a problem with a couple of rosebuds. I just had them cleaned out as well as the part of the torch that holds them. The problem is that they pop and go out. I am using acetylene. One of them is marked "acet 8" so I know it is made for acetylene. The other MAY be for propane. In any case, I have the same difficulty with both rosebuds, which is that, after lighting the acetylene, and beginning to turn on the oxygen, they pop and are extinguished. I tried varying the pressure some, starting at acet at 5 pounds, and ox at 25 pounds. Then I put acet around 10 and ox about the same (25 psi) with no improvement. Then I put acet down to 3 and ox about 20 with no improvement. The torch handle was pretty hot after these attempts. One of the rosebuds has no markings at all so I hoped there would be a way to find the right pressures by experiment.
   brian kennedy - Sunday, 12/31/06 23:15:19 EST

Buzz Box Welder: Generally speaking they are used almost exclusively for welding steel of various types including stainless steel using the proper electrodes. The advantage of electric arc welders is the wide range of available electrodes.

The question that is more significant is, "What can I make with a buzz box?" The answer is, almost anything. In the blacksmith shop you can build light and heavy benches, supports for vises and anvils, bending fixtures and machinery. In fact, with a grinder, a few files a drill press and an arc welder you can build almost any kind of machine.

Sculptural art work is often welded with a buzz box. This is because they are cheap and the artist's friend is cheap tools and materials. You can build finely finished or scrapyard art with a buzz box. Many modern craftsfolk use fine exposed welding in their work. Unless dog-do tecture is your goal then the welds should be first class.

The other thing you can do with a buzz box is LEARN TO WELD. The manipulation of the puddle with the arc is very similar in all electric welding and this is the least expensive way to learn.

A buzz box is a cheap and wonderful tool. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

What you cannot do with a buzz box is weld brass, copper or aluminium. For these you need other tools. For most non-ferrous work including jewelery and sculpture you need an oxy-acetylene outfit. This also has the advantage of a cutting torch for steel which when combined with an arc welder is an unbeatable productivity combination.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/31/06 23:17:20 EST

Rose Buds: Brian, the markings mean absolutely nothing except within the framework of a manufacturers part and size numbering system. There is NO STANDARD.

Generally rosebuds take a LOT of gas. For a small 1/2" diameter 6 port rosebud (the size that comes with most "standard" sets such as the Victor Journeyman set) you need a large two stage regulator.

Normally the oxygen pressure is fairly low as you need just enough to give a neutral flame. The acetylene should be from 10 to 15 (the max).

Popping back and blowing out is caused by too low of gas velocity. The gas must be leaving the tip at faster than the flame front velocity. Popping back can result in flame in the torch body which is very destructive and can burn out seals and mixers.

To prevent popping back you want to open a LITTLE oxygen then a LOT of fuel and then light. Crank up a big flame and then increase the oxygen to make a neutral flame. Even a small rosebud is like hanging onto a small rocket engine and you can actually FEEL the thrust. Do not be timid, the flame will pop back into the torch and then you will need to turn it off immediately! You cannot operate a rosebud gently.

Large rosebuds of 3/4" and larger generally cannot be run from a single full size welding cylinder. They require ganged cylinders and regulators in a manifolded system. The large diameter acetylene cylinder will run one of these but require a large regulator designed for 3/8" hoses. The best option for large rosebuds is a bulk propane tank.

Many acetylene tips are marked A for acetylene but just as many are unmarked. Those for propane and natural gas are marked NG. I am not sure why the same tips are used for these gases because there is a huge difference but that is how it works.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/31/06 23:35:11 EST

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