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

This is an archive of posts from December 22 - 31, 2007 on the Guru's Den
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I was tought Blacksmithing in 1977 by Elmor Sebold at the North Texas Farriers School. I am looking for a book he mentioned about tempering knife blades. I am sure it is an rather old book. I just need a book that will explain the process of sand tempering. Thanks, Mike
   Mike Gibson - Saturday, 12/22/07 06:27:41 EST

Anvils: I bought an Old World Anvil, the 167# German Pattern. I bought it when the dollar was a lot stronger and the anvil sold for about $300. It is up over $500 now plus shipping. It is a good anvil but for $500, you are getting closer to an American Made price. At that price, I would consider buying an older, used anvil.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 12/22/07 08:37:54 EST

Mike, There are a lot of old books on this subject and without a title I don't think many will be able to help.

Under the title "Tempering Blades" Bookfinder.com returns one book.
Broking, Ewald [Inventor]

* Original Printed Patent Application Number 1, 403 for Improvements in Apparatus for Hardening Or Tempering Knife Blades. Hardback [1910] [Used]
Under Tempering Steel they have hundreds of books listed.

Using sand for tempering will be a difficult search. To start, "tempering sand" is a common foundry term having to do with conditioning the mold sand. Using sand as a steel tempering medium is not one I have heard of but I suppose it is possible.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/22/07 08:55:59 EST

Sparrow: Don't give up on eBay anvils. Some go expensive, some go relatively inexpensively, particularly ones on which the seller is unwilling to ship. You are one state away from ND, SD, WY, ID, OR & WA. Perhaps you can tie an anvil pick up in with a family vacation trip. I suspect if you paid in full seller would be willing to hold it for you for eventual pick up.

A shipping tip: If you have a UPS account (probably through PayPal but you can sign up for one at www.ups.com) you can have UPS Ground pick up items up to 150 pounds. Just call 1-800-PICK-UPS to make arrangements. They will take the paperwork with them and then bill you. If item is unpackaged, say an anvil, they will add on a non-crated surchage of something like $6.00.

Put a blacksmith anvil and equipment wanted ad periodically at www.craigslist.org for the city/cities near you. You might also try www.freecycle.com, but I doubt a free one would show up there.

As has been noted on the forum in the past, ask everyone you meet if they know of an anvil which might be for sale. Perhaps the waitress at a local coffee shop might remember her Aunt Em may still have Uncle Ed's old anvil from when he shod their horses.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 12/22/07 09:03:01 EST

My father used to talk about blacksmiths using cyanide to harden steel. How did that work? Is this a "Do not try this at home" type technique?
   - philip in china - Saturday, 12/22/07 09:41:18 EST

I just bought a Walsh #2 screw press and I have a couple questions. It has a 2.75 screw and 38" flywheel. It does not have a 3 or 4 lead screw but only a two. It does not have a clamp nut stop. I am wondering if this is only useful as is for bending/dishing or with die sets with built in stops. I am wondering whether it is going to be fast enough. I finally am wondering if the stop nut is so useful that it will justify all the time necessary to make and fit one.

   Ben - Saturday, 12/22/07 10:41:32 EST

Phillip, Yes, this is (should be) a don't do at home. The old versions of Casinit had cyanide salts. Using cyanide is a form of nitriding, which is surface hardening with nitrogen. Using cyanide was an industrial process but is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

The cyanide salts are melted and the steel immersed into it. It is a surface treatment only.

Use of cyanide salts is safe when done properly. However, any addition of acid and you get cyanide gas. . . and death.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/22/07 12:08:34 EST

Screw Press: Ben, There are screw presses and flypresses. The fly press is designed to work by inertia and has a heavy flywheel. A screw press is designed to use the manual force applied and no more. However, most are heavy enough to take what you can dish out.

The stop nut is not a universal attachment but does come on most flypresses. This is generally used to prevent over travel in dies and to keep the ram at the most useful height. IT is designed for high production use. You can do the same with a stop block in your dies or behind the ram. A fitted stop nut must be very well made to prevent damaging the screw or breaking itself.

The speed of a fast screw on a flypress reduces the work cycle but also reduces the total force. It ALSO reduces the turning distance which can be too far for convenience of operation using a "slow" screw.

SO all you can do is try it out. Set it up to use and see what happens.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/22/07 14:23:57 EST

The sand tempering I am familiar with is a very unsophisticated method but it works. A steel or cast iron plate is place over the coal forge and sand is piled upon it. The forge is lightly blown and the plate heats the sand. A quenched blade is placed, edge up, into the sand. Heat is gently, and fairly uniformly, conducted into the blade. When the edge reaches a light golden brown, the tempering is complete and the blade is quenched again. If you really want to get fancy, you can take this to the next level and make a fluidized bed using superheated air blown into a tank filled with sand. The air blowing through the sand creates a semi-solid fluid with fair conductivity. It is not as good as a salt bath, however.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 12/22/07 15:02:08 EST

I corresponded with an aspiring bladesmith in the Philippines (?) who said the local smith used "sodium" to harden steel. I explained that it was probably sodium cyanide, and case hardening wouldn't make very good knives anyway. I gather things must be a little more relaxed in the developing world; I would guess that it wouldn't be that easy for the average smith in this country to buy a big cake of sodium cyanide.

I've heard of using cool, wet sand as a heat sink to cool the edge of a blade during selective tempering. (Tim Lively does this.) You could also use hot, dry sand for selective tempering; you could mold the hot sand so it's only in contact with the parts of the blade that you want to temper. You could also temper an entire blade in a pan full of hot sand, though I'm not sure why it'd be any better than an oven for that purpose.

A while back I also had the idea of using sand as an alternative to molten salts for marquenching, austempering, etc.
   Matt B - Saturday, 12/22/07 15:13:11 EST

I have broken axel from a peterbuilt 389. Dose anyone have any idea what type of steel it is made of ?
   Steven - Saturday, 12/22/07 17:06:18 EST

There's a 1903 book on hardening and tempering available here: http://tinyurl.com/2cvjp4

There's a reference to using sand as a medium on page 79, but it's only mentioned being used in an automated machine.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 12/22/07 17:26:33 EST

I am just starting to get into cable damascus. For the etch, I was told that I could use Muriatic acid since it is easily obtainable. I got a batch and it seems to work well. However, I have run into a problem. What do I do with the acid now? i.e. disposal?

   Rob Dobbs - Saturday, 12/22/07 18:21:47 EST

Rob Dobbs,

Titrate the muriatic to neutrality with sodium hydroxide (lye) and you end up with HCl+NaOH=(NaCl+H2O), or plain salt water, plus the dissolved elements from the steel. Those are relatively minute amounts of contaminants, so you shouldn't have to worry about them unless you're talking a few drums of used muriatic. Then you call the haz-mat disposal folks and pay the big bucks to get rid of it.
   vicopper - Saturday, 12/22/07 20:10:24 EST

Sodium quench: Matt, maybe he meant molten salt? You can quench into this to form bainite but not martensite. If he was making Machete's maybe the bainite would be better.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 12/22/07 20:18:47 EST


No, I'm pretty sure he meant sodium cyanide. It was a solid, whitish-colored cake that he rolled the steel around in at a red heat. Sounded like crude case hardening to me. (Didn't sound to me like his method would be very effective, either.)
   Matt B - Saturday, 12/22/07 20:24:17 EST

Steven, If the axle is less than 20 years old the following will probably apply.
If the axle is 1 3/8" diameter or less in the middle, than 1050H
If bigger, than 1541H
   ptree - Saturday, 12/22/07 20:27:09 EST

   Rob Dobbs - Saturday, 12/22/07 21:53:19 EST

I’m just about to retire. Been running a one man wood and metal working shop for decades in the Seattle area. I can weld and drill and tap with ease… a lot of things can be made with these two techniques. Never did get any real machining tools albeit I just helped my son restore a 1945 South Bend Lathe for his shop.

I have been tossing red/yellow metal scraps in a corner for 40 years with the idea that when I retire I would melt it and cast some sculpture. But it is of all forms and types. From copper wire and copper tube/pipe to faucets and band sawn scraps from brass/bronze plate.

I plan to cast small things… very large jewelry to small sculpture sizes… say a few ounces to a few pounds. I have set up a lost wax vacuum assisted casting station and have made a few things with good results.

I have read enough about casting to know that using scrap makes for iffy results. So far I have been picky about what I’ve used from my scrap heap… mainly I’ve been breaking chucks off an old boat propeller. It seems to be quite good bronze. It may have even been vacuum cast.

But I would like to make use of the stuff that I have little clue as to it alloy except that it is a copper based alloy.

My question is this: Are there any armature smelters out there who have tried to refine known copper alloys from unknown scrap in small quantities? Or does anybody have experience alloying up specific bronzes from pure copper wire scraps?
   Bruce Tiptonq - Sunday, 12/23/07 01:49:50 EST

hi i've recently been trying to forge weld metal an i cant seem to get it to work ...is it possible to do with a charcoal forge? and also whats the diffence between a hot rasp an a normal one or are they just the same anything helps thanks
   Denny - Sunday, 12/23/07 02:29:31 EST

A hot rasp is one you can burn your fingers on.
   - djhammer - Sunday, 12/23/07 07:52:31 EST

Matt, did you notice any OLD bladesmiths over there? Could be why.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 12/23/07 09:36:50 EST

Sand tempering: using this method as a basis for a neat idea; replace the sand with iron filings? I figure the iron filings would both conduct and keep heat better and more even than sand. Any thoughts?
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 12/23/07 11:16:35 EST


Yes. Charcoal was the only/preferred solid forge fuel for a thousand years or more. Still is in many places. To get a successful forge weld in a charcoal fire, you must have a few conditions present:
1. - You must be using real lump charcoal, not those crappy briquettes sold for ruining meat.
2. - You need a deep fire, about eight or ten inches, in order to get the metal in the part of the fire that is hot but not too oxidizing. That spot is about two thirds of the way up from the bottom.
3. - You have to have clean steel without scale or rust.

If you meet all these conditions, and maybe use a little borax for flux, you should be able to forge weld if you have things hot enough and you work quickly. Steel, especially small pieces (under 1" in cross section) cool rapidly and you only have about five seconds to get them to the anvil and hit them with the first blow or two.

There is no such thing as a "hot rasp." Hot rasping means using a rasp on hot steel. The tool is a rasp, period. Rasps that are too dull to use for horseshoeing get used for hot rasping. Hot rasping will pretty quickly ruin a new rasp for anything but hot rasping.
   vicopper - Sunday, 12/23/07 11:32:39 EST

TGN, Heat conduction from the filings to the blade will be heavily dependant on the contact between them. At normal tempering temperatures, radiation transfer will be very low. Convection transfer will account for some heat transfer but probably not much. Also, the iron filings may start to oxidize at 300F and you may end up with a nice welded block of filings with a death grip on the blade. You can keep heat flowing into the sand by keeping the forge going. Having said all that, try it and let us know. Wouldn't be the first time I was wrong.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 12/23/07 12:45:25 EST

Hot Rasping and Sawing: This is also commonly done with a coarse file (not just old rasps). Because it is coarse and the metal hot and soft the rough texture looks like rasping. Worn but not worn out files are used for this process. It is the last work they will do unless converted to scrapers.

A completely worn out file is not good for hot or cold work. There is a time in the life of a file (or hack saw blade) where it is no longer an efficient tool. Many times they get used well beyond this point and the user it throwing money away in the form of their time. SO, when a file is only about half as good as new it is no longer an efficient tool. However, at this point it will still work quite well on hot work, for a few strokes.

You can also hot-saw using the better HSS edged or all-hard tungsten blades.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/23/07 13:35:14 EST

Processing Brass and Bronze: Bruce Tiptonq, Separating unwanted elements from alloys is a difficult business. Some will separate, float to the top and can be removed. Elements such as zinc can be burned off but produces a great deal of toxic fumes. The most effective process is to use a low percentage of scrap with clean metal of known content.

Most separation is done cold by eye, selecting known parts (such as plumbing fittings) and using them in a melt alone. However, this can be tricky. We once melted some gold jewelery and a couple parts were yellow brass. The copper was enough to make a very red gold that was also VERY hard. . . and nearly impossible to separate.

Making non-ferrous alloys from new metals is no problem at all. This has been done since ancient times. Melting pure copper should be done under a flux or charcoal cover to prevent absorbing large amounts of oxygen. Once melted tin and or zinc can be added as small pieces. The lower melting point metals will rapidly melt and lower the melt temperature (along with the general melting temperature).

   - guru - Sunday, 12/23/07 14:01:31 EST

I’ve thought about using a cold stainless retort to capture the vapors of a simmering melt. This might collect some low melting point metals if the crucible and retort was supplied with hot argon to keep oxides to a minimum.

I’ve also thought about cold baffles in the exhaust to collect the powdery white oxides that I think are lead and zinc oxides. If successful the oxides could then be chemically reduced.

Seems there should be some way to get to more and more pure copper that could then be alloyed.

To add small amounts of alloys to pure copper I’ve read that one can hollow out the end of a stirring rod and pack it with the alloy element. Then it is introduced deep in the base metal and does not “blow” off the surface of the melt.
   Bruce Tiptonq - Sunday, 12/23/07 14:22:03 EST

As far as determining what elements are in scrap it would be nice to have an XRF Analyzer. See
for a fun read. I think they got this out of Spock’s tri-corder when he retired.

Seems this is a real neat gadget but they give no prices except to say they rent them for $1000/week.
   Bruce Tiptonq - Sunday, 12/23/07 14:33:07 EST

Bruce Tiptonq,
An XRF, if I am remembering correctly is used among other things to check for lead in paint on walls. When I was a lead risk inspector and assesor, we used an XRF. I required a license from the NRC as it used a "hot" source to work. I think they also had to be sent back to the factory for a new source every couple of years. Not sure on cost new, but most rented from the few licensed owners.
   ptree - Sunday, 12/23/07 15:34:53 EST

a couple years ago, I saw a posting/page that had various hammer/tool eye dimensions and diagrams displaying the corresponding ratios comparing sizes etc for different tools. I can't find it again, does anyone remember/know where this information might be?
   - rthibeau - Sunday, 12/23/07 15:55:20 EST

The nice thing about used horse rasps for hot work is that they have a rasp cut on one side and a double cut file on the other...and they are 14" in length.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/23/07 16:35:35 EST

That web address I gave above tells all about them including a rotateable cad picture of a handheld unit. The also use them in big junkyards to identify alloys.
Some have x-ray tubes and some use isotopes. The elements below about 12 on the periodic table are not detected with this unit though so forget detecting carbon in steel.
   Bruce Tiptonq - Sunday, 12/23/07 18:02:08 EST

Hammer Eye Dimensions: rthibeau, I have it somewhere. Will look up tonight and finish our FAQ if I can find it. Check our Hammer Eye FAQ. I will try to update.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/23/07 19:24:36 EST

Extracting Metals: Pure copper is refined chemically and then the last step is via electroplating. It is and expensive process and thus the price of copper. There are no easy ways.

While some metal alloys separate others are actually in solution (disolved) in one and other. For every metal combination there is a process but most require grinding the metals to powder, dissolving in strong acids, using reagents to form insoluble compounds, separating the insoluble from the acid and extracting the metal from the compound (similar to smelting from a pure ore). These processes are not difficult on the surface, have been practiced for hundreds of years (sometimes millenia) but handling the chemicals and the resulting waste is dangerous.

There is no simple magic trick to it. There are labs that for reasonable fees will analyze samples for you. But what is considered reasonable may not be in your budget.

   - guru - Sunday, 12/23/07 19:33:01 EST

Thanks ptree.
   Steven - Sunday, 12/23/07 20:10:23 EST

Thats the kind of answer I've been getting everywhere I ask. Guess I'll sort by hand into known chunks, sell the rest as scrap and use the proceeds to buy Everdur shot.
   Bruce Tiptonq - Sunday, 12/23/07 21:33:41 EST


One other thing: don't hit the weld too hard at first. Watch these guys:


On the second one, you can skip forward to about 5:40 to get straight to the welding.
   Matt B - Sunday, 12/23/07 21:37:47 EST

If I make a structure which is on legs and those legs are placed at irregular intervals how do I calculate how much of the weight is borne by each leg? Also if the structure is irregular how do I make the same calculation. I realise that this looks a lot like a homework question but it isn't. Please trust me on that one.
   - philip in china - Monday, 12/24/07 01:06:19 EST


I'm not sure I could do the calculation anyway, but I think we need more infomation. For example, how rigid is the structure? A lot of simple four-legged tables have all the weight on two legs because they don't flex to match an uneven floor.

Come to think of it, though, I think the basic principle is that weight supported times distance from the center of gravity is the same for each leg. Say you have a light 3 foot frame balanced on two legs, and a 99# weight 1 foot from one end. The leg 1 foot from the weigh would support twice as much as the let 2 feet away, so you'd get 66# on the close leg and 33# on the far one (66*1 = 33*2). I think you could use the same principle for a more complicated structure, assuming all the legs were the exactly the same length and it sat on a perfectly flat surface.
   Mike BR - Monday, 12/24/07 08:46:48 EST

Centers of Gravity: Phillip, Your question is a little too vague. It depends on whether the structure is flexible or not and how much load. Since nothing is perfectly rigid you always assume SOME flexibility but the rules are most complicated.

For a pin jointed flexible structure the calculations are fairly simple proportioning like lever calculations. Start thinking in a straight line (2 dimensionally) then consider the problem three dimensionally.

Step one is to determine the center of the load (the center of gravity). No matter how irregular the load has a center of gravity that the entire mass can be considered to be located at. If it is made of multiple discrete masses then you use the proportioning calculations mentioned above. Machinery's Handbook has formulae for this but I work in pairs of masses taking any two, then the next relative to the first two and so on.


Here we have two masses a distance apart. IF M1 = 1/2 of M2 then the center of gravity is where a fulcrum would balance the two. This is at d1 x M1/(M1+M2) OR
The distance between the mases times the first mass divided by the sum of the masses. This is .3333d1 in this example.

You now assume that the sum of M1+M2 is located at .3333d1 acting as a single mass. You can then continue with other masses relative to these.

If the mass is not an assemblage of discrete masses you will have to divide it up into such. Often this is a matter of guesstimation. If of uniform density you can also trace the outlines in two axiis and use area center of gravity calculations. You need to use at least two views to approximate the the cg of an irregular three dimensional object this way. Determine the location in each view then put the cg at the center of a line between the two. Machinery's Handbook has the mathematics. Most CAD programs will also determine the cg of an enclosed area.

If you need to know the cg on a surface OR in three dimensional space then you use the Pythagorean theorem. In this case the cg of each mass is determined as being on the hypotenuse of the line between masses and extracted onto an X-Y grid to determine location. This uses the rule of cogurentcy (sp) of triangles.

In three dimensional space the Pythagorean theorem just uses one more dimension (easy).
A² = x² + y² + z²

But in most cases where gravity (a force in one line) in concerned you can determine a cg on the one plane perpendicular to the force of gravity.

Once you know the center of gravity of the mass you can proportion it on your odd structures legs. You find the structural center of gravity without masses then place the mass over the structure and proportion it among the supports.

Remember when you are done that the sum of the divided loads is equal to the total load.

The formulae in Machinery's Handbook for centers of gravity uses the same principles reduced algebraically (to calculus) so that it is done in several large steps. I found this difficult to understand and to be unable to prove (check accuracy) so I came up with the long version above.

If you need the forces within the structure such as in truss members you will need to find the mass cg as above then apply it to methods found in Engineering references for the analysis of structures. The class work is Elements of Strength of Materials by Timoshenko and MacCullough (a text book) OR Strength of Materials by Timoshenko, and engineering scince reference. These were landmark publications and the mathematics has not changed.

Merry Christmas!
   - guru - Monday, 12/24/07 08:59:25 EST

Thanks for that Jock. I see now how to do it although it looks mighty complicated. The guy in the next apartment is actually a mathematics PhD so I think I might consult with him. Re. flexibility- I know everything is flexible but at "Rustmart" we get free welding rods and free 2" angle, 4" channel and 1" rebar. We also have no idea what we are doing so everything is so over built that flexibility can largely be ignored:-) All I am actually doing at present is putting in a 40" deep by 70" wide bench top. One end is going to be bolted to 2"angle bolted to the wall. (We get 14mm masonry bolts free as well). The other end will be on a not very well made steel cabinet. I just wondered how much weight the cabinet would be holding. On an unrelated matter I want to make a stand for my pillar drill. Just a taller version of one ofthe anvil stands sounds OK. What do you think? I could put a plate base so I would ve standing on it when using the drill. (Big drawback is I have to pay for plate but you can't win them all!

Merry Christmas to you and all yours.
   - philip in china - Monday, 12/24/07 09:26:14 EST

After making ONE of the above calculations the hard way I wrote a program in BASIC that did the calculations.

When looking for a CG you can start at zero (the first mass) or place the mass on a line or in a grid and work from there. Either way works. Having a fixed reference point or frame of reference is easier to keep track of.

If you remember that lines are like levers and that every mass is just like a force on a lever everything works out.
   - guru - Monday, 12/24/07 09:27:20 EST

On your drill remember that you are pulling on the lever at an angle, thus a tipping force. Best to bolt them down (unless you are standing on the base plate).
   - guru - Monday, 12/24/07 09:30:09 EST

merry Christmas everyone ! , and a peacefull 2008 with happy hammering !
   - John N - Monday, 12/24/07 11:20:22 EST

Recycling brass and copper: I suggest you use your pile of scrap as a bank account, if you don't have what you need, take a load over to your scrap dealer and do some horse trading.

Much easier then trying to do home metal refining.
   - Hudson - Monday, 12/24/07 11:38:41 EST

I will sell or trade away all my unknown red/yellow metal.

But with everdur going for $7 to $10 per pound and scrap copper wire going for $3 per pound it seems it would be worth learning how to allow a high silicone bronze.

I can buy the small quantities of odd metal online in powder or granular form.

However, I’m wondering what physical form of silicon to use and the exact process to employ to assure it mixes into the molten copper properly. Has anybody actually done this in small quantities with good results?
   Bruce Tiptonq - Monday, 12/24/07 15:34:14 EST

Bruce Tiptong: Last I checked with the local scrapyard scrap bronze and copper was going for $1.25 pound. Same price for scrap aluminum and stainless.
   - Ken Scharabok - Monday, 12/24/07 17:04:07 EST

Scrap yards generally don't know what kinds of bronze they have and often brass is confused with bronze, at least at the yards here in the Seattle area. Plus most red/yellow metal gets shipped to China from here so quickly that nobody gets a chance to pick through it. Instead of the big piles of metal that I saw years ago I now see big containers that they won’t let you near. The same is true in Portland OR. Was that price with you buying or selling it? There is usually quite a difference.
   Bruce Tiptonq - Monday, 12/24/07 17:43:30 EST

Hot filing. There will be times that you are greatful to have a few chainsaw files or some round files handy around the shop. A slit through a piece of square or perhaps a forged fork crotch. I normally drive a radius tool in the fork but sometimes you will have a booger. Re-heat to red and when the color just leaves you may find that a few licks is all you need. Scrubbing up a shrunk wagon tire ( inside) is a good place for a nice coarse 1/2 round to remove some boogers ( even after you shrink and do a bit of forging to clean it up ). I have a 1/2 round that is coarse on the round and double cut on the flat. Buy the handles for the files or use cobs ( I do both ). I also have a couple somerz that have wood driven on them. I know for a fact that golf balls will work. Hard to get by at a period 1900 shop with golf balls or red Nicholson handles though. At rondys, I just use whatever I may have brought. Actually, a 4 in 1 hand file is pretty handy too but short little sucker and when you on colored hot steel you have to be careful. My 5¢ worth. Merry Christmas folks.
   - Ten Hammers - Monday, 12/24/07 19:47:25 EST

Bruce Tiptong: That was purchase price.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 12/25/07 02:02:29 EST

Yo Guru,

I am building my own shop after about 10 years of working for others. I have a beautiful Swedish cast steel anvil, but I am also looking for a good quality farrier’s anvil. I have found the different surfaces come in very handy for the way I work.
Do you know of a good brand, type, or place to find one?

- bender
   bender - Tuesday, 12/25/07 15:01:30 EST

I don't know where you are based, but do you know of a place where I could buy coal that's within 120 miles of Detroit Lakes, MN. Any help would be greatly apprecated.
   - anonymous - Tuesday, 12/25/07 19:26:22 EST

I too have a large old 2 lead screw press. Just the other day I was experimenting cutting 1" high carbon steel using it and a slitter I forged out of an S1 pharmaceutical punch. *MUCH* better than doing it with a hand hammer---even with the press being cold in the shop.

I'm working on turning some rock drill shafting into a pipe hawk and was greatly pleased at how trimming it to size and slitting the handle eye went with the press. I'm going to have to forge a slitting chisel that fits the tool holder for sure!

Thomas visiting my Folks in Las Cruces NM
   Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 12/25/07 20:08:05 EST

bender: Perhaps the best list of farrier anvil manufacturers is in Anvils in America by Richard Postman, although information is now some 11 years old. Farrier anvils are sold by some of the anvilfire advertisers (click on the NAVIGATE anvilfire box in upper right and scroll down to bottom of menu). Pieh Tool Co. also sells an assortment of them.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools) - Wednesday, 12/26/07 00:55:55 EST

St. Paul Coal and Dock in St. Paul, MN would be a place to start
   - Hudson - Wednesday, 12/26/07 02:06:34 EST

Hi guru, I have a access to a pretty fair supply of ceramic blanket that is supposedly rated at 1800 or so fahrenheit. (FireArrest insulation for grease ducting.) If I build a forge with this and coat the inside well with plistix 900 or ITC 100, what will happen to it at forge welding heat? Will it burn out or slowly disintegrate, or will the refractory/reflective coating protect it?
Oh, and I have an anvil, about 70 lbs. here, looks like a gumdrop, completely round, with a half inch wide/deep step down all around the edge of the face. Also, a slot for a drift pin or porter bar maybe all the way thru it about half way up. Hardened tool steel face. Ten inches high, eight or so wide. An idea of maker or purpose? Thanks...
   vorpal - Wednesday, 12/26/07 03:48:41 EST


I don't think any coating's going to keep the surface of the ceramic blanket much below the forge temperature, which will be well above 1800 degrees (at least if you plan to forge efficiently). You could try it and see what happens, but kaowool isn't really that expensive . . . and ITC 100 ain't exactly cheap.

If you use two layers of insulation (as many folks do), the stuff you have sounds perfect for the outer layer.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 12/26/07 07:12:55 EST

Vorpal: Sounds like you may have a base anvil from something like a powerhammer.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools) - Wednesday, 12/26/07 07:38:22 EST

At only 70 pounds it sounded more like a sow block from a powerhammer---an extension of the anvil so that you could remove it and mount the bottom die on the lower section and so have room to use tall tooling under the top die.

   Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 12/26/07 13:54:17 EST

Ceramic blanket-- I just bought several square feet of half-inch thick SuperWool (no relation to the socks) made by Thermal Ceramics. The stuff has a terrific K rating, and indeed works great once it is in place, but it MUST be protected because it is extremely fragile. I wound up making blankets of it inside stainless foil to wrap around my woodstove pipe where it passed too close to some wooden paneling for safety. It has absolutely no structural integrity, like some politicians I could name, crumbles into eency particles of glass or whatever at the merest touch.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 12/26/07 15:13:12 EST

Ceramic blanket. You can depend on the fact that the inner surface of the blanket will reach the temp of the forge. If your forge doesnt run real hot then its marginal. I would say that after investing in a coat of ITC100 and the time to make the forge, it doesnt pay to use an iffy material in critical location and end up with a forge that cant be run at welding heat.
   adam - Wednesday, 12/26/07 18:01:24 EST

I think I asked this before. But I lost the name of the site. I am looking for someone to buy my Edwards #10 cold cutter. Any help would be thankful.
   Gene - Wednesday, 12/26/07 21:22:29 EST

Gene you asked here but I do not think you leftg an email address that time. This page gets archived very often so youshould post on our V.Hammer-In.

Miles, your kaowool should not crumble unless it has been way over heated (doubtful in a wood stove application) or you applied a rigidizer (not recommended in most applications) or you did not actually get Thermal Ceramics brand superwood. Has something else gotten into it? Creosote?

BLANKET GRADES: The superwool grade kaowool sold a number of years ago was supposedly the same as Cereblanket. We handled some 1" grade. However, Thermal Cermaics never listed a "superwool" grade according to the old and new literature. The 1/2" grade we used to sell was a lower grade that crumbled and we did not recommend it unless you absolutely needed 1/2 due to the lower quality. Currently the 1" AND 1/2" we sell is the RT grade which is a lesser grade than cereblanket but is the grade preferred to be sold by Thermal Ceramics for some reason. The RT is still much better than the straight kaowool grade 1/2" we previously sold. See the manufacturer PDF linked on our Kaowool sales page.

From what I have been told, if the package or the contents was labeled or sold as "supser-wool" it was probably not a Thermal Ceramics product and I cannot comment on a product I do not know. All our cut products are shipped with a label identifying what it is.

There are MANY grades of these products many of which is coming from China and Mexico. The RT grade we sell is made in the US and one reason it is available. Many US foundries will not buy products labeled made in China (As a buy USA made products policy).
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/26/07 21:54:21 EST

1800°F Blanket This is absolutely NOT suitable for a forge as they commonly reach near 3000°F, normally running 2500°F. The binder fails in these grades and you have dust. . Even the best grades of blanket are being over heated and is one reason they should be coated with ITC-100.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/26/07 22:02:24 EST

Oh, Most Estimable Guru-- I did not say I was using Kaowool. I said Super Wool. N.B.: SUPER WOOL. It crumbles or dematerializes not when overheated or mixed with nada, but even as it is being handed to me in the store, freshly unrolled by the clerk. Check the Thermal Ceramics website factory specs for its K rating, operating temps and heat limits. By the way, the tech support guy I spoke with at Thermal Ceramics is MUY unhelpful so you are on your own.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 12/27/07 00:19:57 EST

Oh, Estimable Guru-- I just checked to be sure I wasn't hallucinating again. Nope, Thermal Ceramics is what the store clerk told me is the manufacturer and by cracky, if you dig the Thermal Ceramics website you will see (ta da!)-- they do a whole lot of ballyhoo re: their product called Super Wool. Two grades, pretty similar. It works great within its lmitations and even now is keeping my fearless pyromaniac Canadian wife from burning our house down. Woodstove can be running at close to 500 or 600 F. but thanks to a double layer of Super Wool, the surface of single wall flue is only but a safe 150F. or so just 18 inches away.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 12/27/07 00:28:00 EST

I'm in little wee New Zealand I used to make gates,fences and a few garden things.I'm wanting to get back into it and looking for some kick ass fresh wrought designs and ideas to surpass previous stuff and keep the interest alive..
Very thankful for any help... Great website...
   Steve - Thursday, 12/27/07 04:27:12 EST

Miles, Thanks for the PDF. The lower grade Thermal Ceramics product we used to carry also crumbled a bit. If you are looking for a replacement I would use the higher rated material. I will send you a sample.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/27/07 09:24:31 EST

Ideas and Inspiration; Steve, First, I would look at any of the works of the late Dona Z. Meilach. Then I would look at Italian Masters of Wrought Iron,
I Maestri Italiani Del Ferro Battuto
compiled by Giuseppe Ciscato. It is pricey but brings a great deal of new European work to you.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/27/07 09:31:37 EST


Blue Moon Press of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, USA, has had a German book translated, titled "ABCs of Blacksmithing/Forging/Blacksmith/Anvil." The author is Fridolin Wolf, and he has the ability to show in photos his latter 20th Century techniques, methods which exhibit forge texture and unique contemporary, design ideas.
I'm not positive, but I think the original book was "Kunstschmieden in Beispielen" (Artsmithing by Example).
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/27/07 11:17:36 EST

Guru-- Thanks, I appreciate the offer, but no need to bother sending a sample. This stove pipe relining has been a toughie, but the job is done-- lotsa time and money into Simpson Duravent double-wall "relining" pipe. The Super Wool stuff works just fine for us in the application I mentioned, as stove pipe insulation on the short piece of single-wall, PROVIDED it is protected. We encased it in envelopes of heavy stainless foil. (The CEO's idea, I admit. Muy smart lady she.) Again, in dealing with Thermal Ceramics, they were absolutely 100% totally unhelpful. Scared of lawyers is my guess.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 12/27/07 12:13:35 EST

Steve-- dig around in this website-- free gate designs etc. for the downloading. http://www.countryside.gov.uk/NewEnterprise/Economies/craftpublications.asp
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 12/27/07 13:12:13 EST

Bruce Tiptong: Went to my steel supplier/scrap yard today. Brass is now $2.50 pound, U-Pick.

I came back with a round cast brass grill about 12" in diameter. Bent in several places. Can someone recommend a way to straighten it back out without damaging the lace-type work in it? Initial thought is to heat in dragon's breath from forge, then use a wood mallet.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools) - Thursday, 12/27/07 15:03:16 EST

Well, I got my first forge running today for the first time, then had to stop it abruptly. I had a piece of threaded (on one end) conduit with two lock rings to hold in a 5 gallon (metal) bucket for a burner holder. I had it fired up drying out the inside coating, and hear what sound like a large drop of water, but was in fact one of the lock rings melting off.

My question is, what should I use to hold the burner holder to the bucket, also what could be used as a support or brace to help distribute the weight of the burner more equally, so that it doesn't flatten or bend one part of the bucket.

Thanks for answering all my questions so far.
   - Hollon - Thursday, 12/27/07 17:51:30 EST

Hollon, This is an impossible question without seeing what you are doing.

Many electrical fittings are zinc or zinc plated and should not be used on a forge. This includes conduit and fittings. Nor should other zinc plated hardware be used anywhere that gets hot.

Generally all "black iron" (low carbon steel and cast iron) parts are safe to use on a forge. Brackets need to be made of plain carbon steel (no aluminium, brass or zinc). If it is magnetic, its safe to use.

While gas forge enclosures do not need to be heavy they should be substantial as forges are subject to rust from the fact that protectants burn off and gas exhust contains water vapor. 16 ga or 1/16th inch material should be the minimum. Yhinner materials are hard to attach brackets, doors and legs to.

When brackets are attached to thin sheet metal you need to use fitted parts of slightly heavier material and riveted. Pop rivets can be used but they MUST be stainless as other pop rivets are aluminum or zinc. I would recommend plain steel rivets rather than pop rivets. This requires attachment prior to lining with refractory.

Large diameter hose clamps can be used to attach brackets to thin cylindrical tubes. Again, the brackets need to be fitted. Hose clamps can be daisy chained together to make clamps as long as needed. Note that while all this clamps look similar there are many different thread and screw details and only like brand properly fit each other.

So, rivets and hose clamps are a way to go. Rivets are cheap but require advanced planning and drilling holes. Clamps are expensive, good ones are stainless steel but they are easy to use.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/27/07 19:05:51 EST


The simplest thing might be to look for steel lock rings (it sounds like yours must have been pot metal, since steel seldom melts suddenly like that). I'm assuming the lock rings sit behind kaowool or some other insulation, and I doubt steel would melt in that location.

To solve the bending problem, I'd take a piece of heavier steel, form it to match the shape of the bucket, weld a pipe nipple to it, and screw it to the side of the bucket with self-drilling screws. If you don't have the equipment to to that, maybe you could split the end of a piece of conduit with a hacksaw, spread the split sections, bend them to match the bucket, and screw them on. You'd leave enough conduit unsplit to use for your burner holder.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 12/27/07 19:08:04 EST

Here is a picture that might help answer my question.

   - Hollon - Thursday, 12/27/07 20:23:19 EST


you could always give your burner a bit of external support framework (scaffolding)to take its weight.
   - John N - Thursday, 12/27/07 20:47:35 EST

can anybody tell me if a kemppi mastertig 2500 ac/dc can be run from a 20kva three phase generator thanks
   david - Thursday, 12/27/07 21:05:49 EST

If the web page I googled is right, the kemppi mastertig is rated at 2500 watts. 20 KVA is 20,000 watts (not counting a phase factor which would reduce it by less than 50%), so it should be plenty.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 12/27/07 21:21:09 EST


I'm guessing you're pretty limited as far as tools, because it's lack of the right tools that makes these sorts of problems seem difficult. As long as you have some means of drilling holes, let me second Jock's rivet suggestion. A rivet tool will set you back about $20 and make life a whole lot easier.
   Matt B - Thursday, 12/27/07 21:34:28 EST


Gas forges dont get hot enough to melt steel.
as Guru said, this must have been pot metal.

I dont think the lock ring idea is a good one. The bucket is probably thin sheet metal and the lock ring puts too much strain on too small an area.

There is nothing wrong with having a flat spot on the forge shell. Kaowool will easily conform to the shape and the forge will run just the same.

Apart from rivets, you can use bolts and self tapping screws

The nicest solutions to your problem involve bending and welding pieces of metal but I am guessing you dont have the resources to do this.
   adam - Friday, 12/28/07 09:26:11 EST

Adam, lets say that in general a forge will not get hot enough to melt steel. I remember Patrick showing off his new aspirated box forge at a MOB meeting and getting distracted talking to folks and it melted his billet to a little puddle of steel in the back. A bit on the amusing side for the rest of us MOBsters...

I agree that in this case it was probably a pot metal piece though I did wonder about the possibility of a cast iron one like some of the plumbing fittings are.

Thomas, Stuck in Las Cruces NM for a bit longer
   Thomas Powers - Friday, 12/28/07 13:00:07 EST

I have a piece of railroad steel. I want to buy an anvil. The NC-70 and NC-112 seem like good deals but are they hard enough? Will the low Hardie Hole make it to be a problem? The Delta-3 looks good but a lot more money. Suggestions.
   Garry - Friday, 12/28/07 21:19:47 EST

I have fallen into a major collection of old brass stencils form the late 1800's and early 1900's. They are for businesses such as hardware stores, manufacturing and small merchandise companies. Many advertise babbitt metal and solder products. I am searching the web with some results but am looking for more sources of data to help with my research. Examples:"FROM THE ODELL HAREWARE CO. GREENSBORO N.C." and "GEO. J. FRITZ FDRY. & MACH. CO." Thank for any tips. RJ
   Ron Johnston - Friday, 12/28/07 21:21:42 EST

Garry, The anvils you are looking at are farrier's anvils. They will work but are small, light weight and very springy. The NC's used to be made of ductile iron (not steel). Not sure what they are today. Look at our article on the FAQs page about selecting an anvil then look around some more.
   - guru - Friday, 12/28/07 21:44:11 EST

Stencils: Ron, Nifty find. Looking for information on old industry requires old catalog collections. Good old catalogs from this era are expensive or in rare collections. See our catalog page on swageblocks.com for examples.
   - guru - Friday, 12/28/07 21:51:25 EST

Ron Johnston,
If any of the businesses made or manufactured tools, there is a large "Directory of American Toolmakers" published by the Early American Industries Association, Robert E. Nelson, Ed., 1999.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/28/07 22:04:23 EST

Greetings, and Happy New Year!

I am looking for a blacksmith in New Mexico, preferably, since I live here.We need a flat track to support two indoor sliding doors, and cannot find hardware anywhere in the local hardware shops. Do you have any member blacksmiths from New Mexico?
I would be grateful for their email addresses or phone numbers.

Many thanks,
   Margaret - Friday, 12/28/07 23:27:51 EST

hi there Ive been a pro blacksmith fore the last 4 yearsand have built a few cole forges. i am about to build a new one and am looking to make this one better then the last do you have any great ideas.
   jeremy - Saturday, 12/29/07 04:42:30 EST

Many of the New Mexico smiths belong to the Southwest Artist Blacksmith Association http://swaba.abana-chapter.com
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/29/07 09:31:29 EST


Try the Google book search if you haven't (it's under the "more" tab from the Google home page). I found a number of digitized old books with references to the Odell Hardware Company, and one for the Fritz Foundry.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 12/29/07 09:35:22 EST

Locating holes:

Yesterday I mounted my Beverly shear on a piece of plate. I had a hell of time getting the holes located. The base is cast and the edges arent square making it hard to take measurements. There wasnt room to use a transfer punch (actually all I have are drill bits). I drilled too many pilot holes before I got it right. I didnt need machinists precision, just good enough for three mounting studs. Is there some simple trick I dont know?
   adam - Saturday, 12/29/07 10:52:52 EST

STENCILS: The flood gates have opened for the old brass stencils. The history contained in these is meant to be shared by many. My problem is how to share the plotos and history of this collection and how to display them for others to enjoy. I have gone from a fortunate collector to a protector of this group of stencils. Perhaps someone is writing a book or wanting to do an article and would like to use them. Thanks RJ
   Ron Johnston - Saturday, 12/29/07 11:00:23 EST

Adam, Yes. You can locate holes like that by clamping or even just placing the tool over the plate you want to mount it to then using a spray can to "paint" the hole onto the plate. Give it a minute or two to dry before removing the tool and then center punch in the center of the paint dot on your mounting plate. Drill just a little oversized and it should all work out. If you aren't going to paint the tool it helps to mask the mounting area and just cut the tape out at the holes.
   SGensh - Saturday, 12/29/07 11:28:50 EST

Spray paint. *brilliant*!! - thanks a bunch
   adam - Saturday, 12/29/07 11:53:56 EST

When cleaning brass in a salt-50%water/50%vinegar solution, how long do you leave it submerged? I was cleaning a hinge and forgot about it and left it for about 24 hours and was wondering if this would weaken or damage it?
   - Robert Dean - Saturday, 12/29/07 20:29:26 EST

I forgot to mention that the brass took on a red hue in places but Brasso takes it off pretty good.
   - Robert Dean - Saturday, 12/29/07 21:05:54 EST

Robert D - I doubt You did appreciable harm in 24 hours, but if You left it there a few months it might completly disolve.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 12/29/07 22:21:03 EST

Thanks for the response! It won't be used for anything critical, just decorative so I'm going to go ahead and use it.
   - Robert Dean - Saturday, 12/29/07 23:34:30 EST

Margaret; there are at least half a dozen smiths from NM that have posted on this page in recent memory including Miles, Frank, Adam and myself.

*Where* in NM are you at? I personally know smiths in Las Cruces, TorC, Socorro, Mountainair, Moriarty, Peralta, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Tesque (sp?), Los Alamos and some that just are not near anywhere much at all.

If you go to the SWABA website that Frank posted you can find a list of members many with contact info.

Of course if you are near Socorro; just give me a holler!

Thomas currently VP of SWABA
   Thomas Powers - Saturday, 12/29/07 23:40:50 EST

Thomas-- Thanks for the plug! But Margaret, count me out. I am on call that day, and must stand by to respond in case of an entropic surge on a moment's notice, alas.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 12/29/07 23:56:21 EST

Smithin Magician:

I am thinking of making one of these gizmos. Many seem to be made with 3/4" dies - this seems excessive for someone working with a hand hammer and occaisonally a sledge. I have a lot of leaf spring and was thinking 3/8" or perhaps 1/2" thick dies.

Some designs, like Jerry Hofman's, have a flat frame that only allows the work to be entered from the front. Others are built with C shaped frames that allow the work in from a wide range of angles. I wonder how useful this feature is? Finally, Hofman's design is partly bolted. Is there any advantage to this over welding. Does it perhaps allow for adjustment of the slop in the ways or some sort of maintenance. This is a simple tool and I dont want to overdesign it but I would like to benefit from the experience of others - thanks
   adam - Sunday, 12/30/07 08:58:06 EST

Thin dies are OK for fullering and demarcating, but to make, say, a lengthy tenon, no bueno. Unless the welds are super, they will open up from the constant concussion.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/30/07 12:35:40 EST

Locating Holes in Cast Bases: Adam, direct transfer by painting is good but you can not always do this. Most machines with cast mounting slots or holes are more precision than you would think but also allow for lots of clearance. IF it appears a 3/4" bolt is a tight fit it probably takes a 5/8" and a washer. Trying to use too big a bolt results in needing and exact fit.

When measuring lugs or hole locations they are usually on some even fractional or rounded metric dimension. When working without the specs you reverse engineer. Generally the closest 1/8" is right. Measure the center to center distances and layout using good layout tools (a square and straight edge). Scribe the lines in the surface OR in layout compound (machinist's blue OR paint).

Then you center punch with a sharp 60° center punch. Make a light mark and check for alignement then deepen. It helps to follow with a 90° punch prior to drilling. It also helps to use a center drill to get started in the right spot or to pilot drill with a small drill (1/8" to 3/6").

If you are using through drilled holes for this kind of thing should be 1/32" to 1/16" oversize at a minimum.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/30/07 14:05:48 EST

When I have to mark a base for drilling holes that are irregular, I will turn the tool (or object) over (on it's side, if not upside down, then tape a sheet of paper over the bottom. Then I use dirty fingers and rub over the holes on the bottom of the tool (a pencil will work also). Then take the paper off, poke a hole with a nail in the center of the "rubbed" marking and tape the paper on the base. Use a center punch to mark the base, remove the paper and drill holes through the base. No muss, no fuss, no measuring. Works every time for me.
   - djhammerd - Sunday, 12/30/07 14:33:33 EST

If the tool bottom is dommed (bottom of hole does not touch the base), I'll put the tool on the base and stick a pencil into the bolt holes to mark the base (use a broken pencil if it needs to be short). I'm done now.
   - djhammerd - Sunday, 12/30/07 14:40:47 EST

Smithing Magician: To start, note that the one by Jerry Hoffman is his design and the name is his trademark. It is bolted together because it is manufactured in production and sold as a kit to be assembled by the user. It could also be riveted together.

Bolting things together is often better for maintenance and adjustment as well as staying straight and being able to change parts. Arc welding everything together when making complex tools is the red-neck backyard method. Drilling and taping when it is needed is the professional way of building things. There are places for welds and places for bolts.

You need the right tools to drill holes for making tools and machinery. Electric hand drills are generally not suitable. You need some kind of drill press. This could include anything from an ancient beam drill or a hand crank post drill to a modern machine tool. Magnetic base drill presses are a wonderful tool for building machinery but are rare and expensive. However, when needed there is no substitute. But every shop should have SOME kind of drill that you can make straight holes with.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/30/07 15:02:55 EST

Honorable Guru: Please tell me where to get spray-on products that will put a real copper finish on steel that can then be treated with acid (muriatic?) or other product to create a verdegris finish? Would Krylon and De-Rusto spray-on copper (real copper?)finishes have lacquer in them that would prevent the acid or other product from oxidizing the copper? Could I sand or steel wool the lacquer finsih to let the acid work on the copper. Would the acid or other products produce the same effect on real copper sheeting?

Also, where can I get other products that, when applied to steel, turn them various colors of blue in random patterns?
   Douglas - Sunday, 12/30/07 15:25:21 EST

Does any one know if there are any side effects to long term exposure of gasses from a charcoal fire, I do all my work out in the open, but I work only 2 feet from my forge. I have noticed that soot from the fire accumulates in my mucus so there must be some of it getting into my lungs. I don't smoke and don't have any plans to ruin my lungs for a hobby.
   Nabiul Haque - Sunday, 12/30/07 16:01:34 EST

Nabiul Haque,
All combustion of charcoal or coal produces a witches brew of combustion by products. The two main materials will be oxides of carbon IE. Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. From there you will have a list of perhaps a hundred materials in various quantities.
Breathing smoke is never a good thing. Carbon Monoxide is a well know danger, as it binds to the hemoglobin in ones blood and prevents the normal carbon dioxide to oxygen transfer in the lungs. Over exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to headaches, fatique, nasausa, and if in high concentration death.
Any forge benefits from a stack to carry the combustion products away from your breathing zone. Good ventalation such as outdoors is also good, but outdoors if the wind shifts you can find yourself surrounded by smoke. On my demo rig I have a stack that pulls about 95% of the smoke away from my breathing zone, and ejects it at about 8' above my head and it is moving pretty quick up. That really helps. See the plans page here for a side draft stack.
For my demo rig, I have a simple lenght of 8" spiral wrap thin wall duct with a horse shoe cut out at the bottom. The forge holds the stack up and the cutout is just behind the firepot. Almost anyone can rig one of these up, even from 8" or 10" round furnace duct. ( my first was a 5' lenght of 8" furnace duct, and it worked.)
With all that said, the charcoal is probably a lot cleaner than the coal I use.
   ptree - Sunday, 12/30/07 16:16:50 EST

Guru: I get the sneaky feeling that when you say "redneck" its not flattering. Just because I come back from the landfill with more than I took, and I weld the loose parts back onto my truck dont make me a redneck. Or do it? Well no matter, one thing we rednecks know is that welding is not only faster than bolting, its also stronger when done right. Is there any kind of maintenance that would need to be done on a Smithin Ma... er... anvil guillotine tool that would warrant bolted construction. If so what size bolts? I have a drill press and taps upto 3/4" NC. Thanks

PS I actually have a rusted up milwaukee mag base drill press that I found at the landfill - but thats another project.

djh: thanks for the tip
   adam - Sunday, 12/30/07 16:39:33 EST

Adam... I'd be proud to be called a redneck, if it means I find a way to get things done, or I actually work for a living, or can actually do something that other folks only talk about.
   - djhammerd - Sunday, 12/30/07 17:06:38 EST

Good ol' boy is a little nicer moniker than redneck.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/30/07 17:43:37 EST

Hello Guru, I have a NC Whisper daddy forge. NC claims that you can forge weld with it and I have heard of people forge welding in gas forges but have had terriable luck myself. Is there a procedure different from standard coal forge welding? Also The material I am attempting to weld is mild steel. I believe that I am not getting the metal hot enough is there a way to increase the heat output or could the cause of the problem be of a different nature such as oxidization in the oxygen rich propane forge? The texts I have consulted all refer to coal forge welding and I have forge very little to mention gas forge welding. Any tips, tricks, information or pointing in a good starting place would be greatly appreciated.
   Tim - Sunday, 12/30/07 18:49:13 EST

Nabiul, now you know where those black boogers come from. Wear a good dust mask if they bother you.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 12/30/07 19:16:55 EST

Tim: try putting a small pile of firebrick or refractory rubble opposite the burner
   adam - Sunday, 12/30/07 19:18:23 EST

I recently traded for a forge and blower. The information I can find on it shows it is made by Champion Forge and Blower Co. early 1900's. I think the model # is K3565 but it is hard to read. Ther is no rust thru spots on it and the blower motor still spins. Can you provide any information about this company. This forge. Anything would help. Thank you.
   Steve - Sunday, 12/30/07 20:02:31 EST

Adam - One of the issues with fully welded items like this is that You only get 1 chance to get it all right, and even if everything fit really nice when it was tacked up, by the time You finish all the welds and everything cools there is a fair chance that distortion will have turned Your nifty design into a paperweight. You need to fit things up with extra clearance and figure on posibly having to do a little file work here and there. Be mindfull of how the weld beads will shrink on cooling, and how this will distort the parts.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 12/30/07 21:06:27 EST

Adam: Do you mean under the burner to raise the work closer or do you mean to make a small 'kiln' inside the forge and place the work inside it? Or just a pile of broken pieces to lay the piece on/in? Would it help to block off one of my two side ports with kaowool? Thanks again
   Tim - Sunday, 12/30/07 21:31:30 EST


I made my own smiting prestidigitator, of the C-frame persuasion, and welded it all together. It works, and the C-frame has definite advantages in my opinion. I can run stock th elong way down the dies for long fullers, etc. No can do with a H-frame version. My dies are made from 1/2" A36, and they work fine. They'll wear out someday soon and I'll make new ones in a jiffy.

With that said, I'll echo what my friend Dave Boyer said about welding. I had to spend a goodly amount of time dressing the dies down about 30 thou after the welds cooled. I had made allowance for the contraction, but definitely not enough. Bolting would have avoided that, but I know of no good way to bolt a C-frame together. I, too, have taps and dies to 1", and a drill press or two, but welding was a more feasible way of getting the C-frame and die guides connected than bolting would have been. In five years of use, I've replaced the hammer block a few times as it gets mashed beyond use, but no welds have ever broken. Again, it is all made from A36, no medium carbon or high carbon alloys. Nonetheless, I did do pre- and post-welding heats on it to relieve stresses, just because I could and it couldn't hurt.
   vicopper - Sunday, 12/30/07 21:44:38 EST


What Adam is suggesting is that you pile up some refractory rubble in the forge body to increase the radiated heat your workpieces "see." That will increase the heat that they absorb, getting them to welding temp. It also decreases the forge volume somewhat, compensating for undersize burners in some cases. Note that the opposite can happen as well, and the rubble decreases the volume to where the burner is too much for the volume and the combustion starts happening outside the forge body. If you see blue dragon's breath, you need to take some rubble back out.

If your forge fire is heavily oxidizing you may need to choke the burner(s) a bit to get a neutral flame. With a heavily oxidizing flame, you are actually getting less heat than with a neutral flame, since you are drawing in too much cold air that is not being burned.
   vicopper - Sunday, 12/30/07 21:49:44 EST

Seeking sources of info on hand forging parts for muzzelloading rifles.
   Steven Johnson - Sunday, 12/30/07 21:57:52 EST

If I were to make a pair of tongs to hold 3/4" round stock out of square stock, what size do you think I should start out with?
   - Hollon - Sunday, 12/30/07 23:43:01 EST

In response to Steven Johnson, I believe Foxfire 5 has quite a bit of information about forging parts for muzzle loaders
   - Hollon - Sunday, 12/30/07 23:43:35 EST

Whatever happened to all us hillbillies? I happen to be a Holabird Hillbilly, from Holabird Avenue in scenic Balmer County, Merlin, Dundalk, to be specific, and proud of it, and to me redneck is some sort of upscale parvenu term of endearment that was not in circulation wayyyy back when. Nor was country western. It was all hillbilly, or cowboy, and it was great.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 12/31/07 00:20:27 EST

Adam, You found a Milwaukee mag bed drill on your landfill? Where is your landfill and which would be the most convenient airport?
   - philip in china - Monday, 12/31/07 05:49:00 EST

I made a C-frame smitin' sourcerer, too. To keep the top and bottom die guides aligned for welding I used a long bar of die stock, 3/4 X 2 mild steel, to clamp both top and bottom guides to. I think the bar ended up as my hot-cutter when I was done. The other thing I did was put in business card shims between that long bar and the front and one side of each guide. These kept the guides from getting too tight when all cools down.

I've got the guides on a 45-deg angle to the C-frame, looking down. This lets me get long pieces away from the frame.

One thing a friend of mine does is weld a cap on the top dies. When that mushrooms too far, he just cuts it off and welds on a new one. Since I built my treadle hammer, I don't use the magician as much, so I don't see any mushrooming problems.
   - Marc - Monday, 12/31/07 08:01:53 EST

   - wayne - Monday, 12/31/07 09:09:54 EST

Muzzle loader parts.
Yes, Foxfire 5. Also, The Art of Blacksmithing.
   - tm - Monday, 12/31/07 10:33:19 EST

Steven Johnson,

"The Gunsmith of Williamsburg" is a 55 minute video and may still be available from the Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Virginia. Wallace Gusler is the gunsmith and shows a few of the forging techniques. He later wrote a technical article about two Virginia longrifles.*1 Gusler talks about the methodology of manufacture and includes photographs.

P.N. Sprengel wrote of gun making and stock making in a German treatise in 1771.*2 It has been translated into English and some of the tools are illustrated with engravings.

It may interest you that some of the small gun parts were driven hot, into dies to impart the shape needed. They were then file finished.

*1 "Journal of Historical Armsmaking Technology", June, 1987, Volume II. Published annually by Western Kentucky University and The National Muzzleloading Rifle Association.

*2 ibid. June, 1988, Volume III.


Many of the old bolt tongs were made not of square stock, but of flat stock, like 3/8" x 1". Two opposing shoulders made on edge will form the rivet boss, about 3" behind the end of the stock. The jaw is hot split on edge and opened into a vee. The stock is drawn and curved between boss and jaw.

If it is to be a clip tong or box tong, I would start with 7/8" or 1" square.

Miles, Meanings change. I was first called a redneck in the early 1960s, and it was used in a derogatory manner. Much later, a Kentucky boy told me that a redneck uses his pool cue to hit people, and a good ol' boy plays pool with his cue. Now, the word has been co-opted into the mainstream, and it is bland.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/31/07 10:57:49 EST

Just a note to wish everyone at Anvilfire a very Happy New Year!!!From the folks along the Alaska Hwy.
   dimag - Monday, 12/31/07 11:46:16 EST

Spray Metallizing: Douglas, No paint type product can be followed by chemical aging except to destroy the paint. If you want real copper you either electroplate it or use spray meatallizing. This process uses a high temperature torch, often a plasma rig, and powder metal which is melted in the plasma stream and welded to the base metal surface. At one time there were systems using oxy-acetylene for zinc and steel. Aluminium is applied to steel using plasma but I am not sure about copper. Due to the toxicity and high expense this is not a small shop process.

If you are going to use paint to create an aged copper finish there are numerous suppliers of rub on metallic paints and antiquing finishes. You see this type of finish on all kinds of things in furniture, decorator and craft stores. What ever brand you use start with a proper cleaning and application of primers such as cold galvanizing covered with a neutral primer prior to applying the antiquing finish.

I believe Blacksmith Depot, Blacksmith Supply and Centaur Forge carry these products.

Decorative, Temper Blue Marbling: This process seen on some gun parts is produced during the case hardening process by dumping the clean hot parts into a quench tank with air bubbling through the water. Every aspect of the process is critical, cleaning the metal, the case hardening compound, the seal, the heat (time and temperature), the quickness of the dump, the water depth, amount of air and size of bubbles. My guess is a lot of air and large bubbles are used.

This works by creating different temper blues as the air filled water slowly cools the part (compared to an instant quench). Lots of R&D is required to get good results.
No chemical process will replicate it.
   - guru - Monday, 12/31/07 11:47:07 EST

Forge Welding in a Gas Forge: The vast majority of this done in small forges is the making of laminated billets. These have great welding advantages as they often contain high carbon steel needing a lower welding temperature, the surfaces help protect each other from oxidation and the mass holds the heat longer. It is about the easies weld there is to make.

I do not recommend small gas forges for making odd joints in bar. The oxidation is much greater in most of these forges coupled with the slower heat up rate which also increases oxidation due to the longer exposure.

To weld in a small gas forge you need to have it very well adjusted, run it at full heat until the insulation is as hot as it is going to get then flux clean steel early (before scaling starts), the keep the parts well fluxed. Note that fluxes are highly destructive to light weight forge refractories and you will need to consider the forge and or lining a short lived consumable if you weld in the forge.

Note that many small forges are not adjustable. NC's are not. Changing the pressure does not change the fuel/air mixture the way a damper does. NC's are a good CHEAP efficient forge. They use modular parts to build a variety of forge sizes and use little fuel. The smallest do not heat nearly as well as the larger. Some folks tweek NC's by filling some of the enclosure with brick or kaowool to optimize the burner to forge size ratio. Soaking the forge to get it at full heat may take several hours in hot weather and may never get there in cold. In order to avoid wasting fuel you need to plan your work so that you have plenty to do that does not require a full welding heat.

   - guru - Monday, 12/31/07 12:06:33 EST

Frank-- Nothing derogatory meant by what I posted, just curiosity, re: howcum allasudden no hillbillies around any more, seems like, just rednecks.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 12/31/07 12:13:36 EST

Nice to hear that, I thought something was wrong with my forge and/or fuel. My shop is in my cellar, and it gets pretty cold this time of year. I've noticed that I have to take more heats than usual due to cold ambient air, chilled anvils and vises sucking heat from my work. The vises eventually get warm and make work a little easier.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 12/31/07 12:17:47 EST

Steven- Alex Bealer's "The Art of Blacksmithing" has a chapter on flint lock rifles
   Tim - Monday, 12/31/07 12:24:04 EST

vicopper-for the refractory rubble should i just whack a fire brick with a hammerand put the chunks in the forge or would pieces of ripped kaowool work better? Best to place it on top of my welding brick I assume. Should I cover the whole bottom of the forge? Again thank you for all the information.
   Tim - Monday, 12/31/07 12:30:22 EST

Fabrication, welding vs. bolting: The "Smithing Magician" is an A-frame device made of flat precision flame cut plates. It is a good bolt or rivet together design. Grant Sarver makes a two sided C frame design (A-C?) that is bolted together and it also works well. Both could be welded but the results would have problems that would be difficult to solve afterwards.

You can build a power hammer with the ram guides welded and many do something close with the unadjustable tube within a tube designs. It works but not well and not for long. Most folks use some sort of bolted and shimmed arrangement so that they have smooth accurate motion of the ram. There are lots of places where weldments replace castings to good effect. However, when done right they require much of the same machining as a casting. Attempting to weld up parts without machining needed flat square or accurate surfaces is problematic. It is one of those things that folks occasionally get-away with on a one off but lose their shirt if they had to make many.

My point is that many folks get lazy and weld things together that should be bolted OR do not have the proper equipment to drill the holes and use welding where other methods are indicated. A blacksmith shop is not all fire, hammers and welding, it is also the use of machines like drill presses and lathes when needed.
   - guru - Monday, 12/31/07 12:33:53 EST

HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL! I've been "on the road" on a job and will be traveling today and tomorrow. January will be a full month in the field. . . Then it will be time to prepare for the hammer-in! Too many things to do but better than not enough.

Be safe!
   - guru - Monday, 12/31/07 12:37:52 EST

Smithin' Shaman: Thanks for all the comments. I hadn't thought carefully about weld distortion. I saw a lot of welded designs online and just assumed it would go right. I think I will weld up the frame since that can always be heated and tweaked into position but it might be a good idea to bolt the front plates on the ways to allow for some adjustment with packing material. Having to grind standard stock every time I want to make a new die sounds like a PITA.

Tim: Rubble on the floor of the forge will force the gas/air mix to pass over a very large hot surface area and this will greatly improve the combustion as well as the things that Vic said. You can build a little trough to place the work in if you like but try to keep the work out of the direct flow of the burner since there is a lot of raw oxygen and the mix coming from the burner mouth is cooler than the forge. Be sure to clean out the rubble before the forge cools otherwise it will weld itself to the floor - especially if you drip flux on it. It pays to minimize heat loss from all the openings in the forge but you dont want to obstruct the exhaust flow as the back pressure will disrupt the working of your venturi burner. Place kaowool or soft firebrick in front of any unused openings about 3/4" away from the face of the port. The wool will get hot and reflect back radiant heat without slowing down the exhaust. Gas forges seem to run hottest when a bit lean. I have run mine up to welding temp on a lean mix and then choked back the air a tad when putting in the work to be welded. There is also a flux, called Swans designed for gas forge welding which welds at a lower temp than borax or EZ Weld. I use borax with iron filings or brake drum turnings.

Philip: Not telling! :)

Happy New Year to all the Rednecks out there - and everyone else. Gotta go clean my guns - watch out for falling bullets
   adam - Monday, 12/31/07 12:53:56 EST

Frank and Miles, I grew up in Kentucky of half Hillbilly stock. At that time hillbilly was a derogatory remark, and even more so was the term affixed to those of the mountain region who had moved to the paper mills of Hamilton OH.(Hamitucky) They were called Briarhoppers. I did not hear redneck till much later.
My mother, at 82 still can speak old english as did many of the old folks in the mountains of her youth. She can roughly converse with a German speaker as old english is quite close.
She can refer to herself as a Hillbilly or Briarhopper with some pride, but as she would say, "The mountain come up in her" if someone not of the heritage uses those words.
In my youth I saw the "mountain come up in her" on a few rare occasions, and it usually involved a lightning fast backhand:) At 9 I saw my 18 year old brother sass her. The mountain come up in her, and he slid across the floor. "Note to self, don't sass!"
   ptree - Monday, 12/31/07 13:10:44 EST

Marshmellows! so I tried running some chunks of welding brick just off to the side of my middle burner. Cranked up my LPG to 12 psi and let her rip. I was unable to produce a forge weld( a bit of a shame since I am a welder by trade). How ever quite a bit of my "rubble pile turned to into this marshmellow goop that I had to peel off the forge floor while in a plastistic state. Considering this can I assume that I am atleast producing enough heat and I should work more on technigue? I have run welding brick in my forge before but never with this effect. Second question or thoughts. My bottom brick is covered with itc-100, could this have had an effect on the brick. Again thanks.
   Tim - Monday, 12/31/07 15:09:51 EST

Rednecks are the staple of inovation. One has to admire the applachian culture for its ingienuity, evolving in an isolated and mountainous area. Cheers to the rednecks from a non-redneck!
   Tim - Monday, 12/31/07 15:15:59 EST

I have a hard time to forge weld. I have been using EZ weld Flux but I heard that I should be using Borax instead.

I got a partial weld today but once tapered the weld came apart.

Once in the forge I can actually see the EZ weld powder reacting like somekind of chemical reaction, but once I get it out on the anvil the EZ weld actually look like a wet texture. I am not sure If I explain properly but it is very frustrating since forge weld is such an important part of Forging at the level that I am at now.

Please help

   Dan - Monday, 12/31/07 16:25:48 EST

Dan: What type of forge welding are you attempting?
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools) - Monday, 12/31/07 18:02:03 EST

Tim if you are using those heavy yellow fire bricks then yep they melt before you get to welding heat. You need something rated well over 2800F. You might try small pieces of kaowool heavly laced with ITC100

Someone once said "Rednecks are the guys who get stuff done because they are too ignorant to know its not possible" I admire that attitude
   adam - Monday, 12/31/07 18:41:56 EST

Thanks for the info on on muzzelloader parts.
   Steven Johnson - Monday, 12/31/07 18:42:49 EST

hey do you folks know of anyone other than centaur that sells firepots on the web,thanks.
   rob - Monday, 12/31/07 18:44:34 EST

Refractories and ITC: Tim, No the ITC will not effect the melting point of the brick. It will reduce heat damage. Your "welding brick" is apparently not a refractory brick. Your results are what I got when I overheated ceramic clay slip we were making small tiles from. Boiled the clay. . . This occurs far below the welding temperature. You need a piece of fire (refractory) brick for the forge rubble.

Forge fires need to be hot then adjusted back to a gentle heat to reduce scaling the steel.

If your ezweld looks pasty you have either not gotten it hot enough OR you have overheated it and boiled off the flux leaving the powdered iron. When using ezweld it should look wet like borax and be sparkling just a bit when you pull it out of the forge. When you make the first blow there is usually a good rain of fine sparks from the hot powdered iron that is blown out.

You should also be able to touch two pieces together in the forge and have them stick together if the heat is right. If not then they are probably not going to stick outside the forge.
   - guru - Monday, 12/31/07 18:45:48 EST

Firepots: Rob, Blacksmiths Depot carries a good one as well.
   - guru - Monday, 12/31/07 18:48:51 EST

Considering the previous experiment, I figure I would build a tray to hold the refractory rubble. What do you think that would be a good option material wise? Would a cast iron ashtray work ( you know the ones that look like frypans)?
   Tim - Monday, 12/31/07 20:35:41 EST


There is nothing wrong with using both borax and E-Z Weld on mild steel. Use borax first so it glazes and gets tacky. That keeps the E-Z from sliding off when it is applied. Bring out the pieces when the iron filings melt. Use a few relatively light blows to start the weld; then hit harder.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/31/07 20:56:17 EST

Tim, Nope, the CI will scale, burn and or melt. Kiln shelf material is what is used most often to protect forge floors. Some grades of terracotta (red) tile works as well.
   - guru - Monday, 12/31/07 23:03:13 EST

2008, 10th Anniversary of Anvilfire.com:

This is the beginning of the 10th year of anvilfire.com. Conceived in December 1997, registered in February 1998 and launched in March 1998. Our first archives were posted in April 1998. We've had over 11,214,590 visits since adding counters in June of 1998.

Happy NEW year!
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/01/08 00:57:23 EST

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