WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

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 9 - 15, 2009 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Bruce Blackistone,
If water is a problem building an underground structure, I have a possible solution. The state of Mississippi does not allow gambling casinos on land, but will allow them in the waterways. What the casinos did was to build huge barges in the Mississippi River, and then build the casinos on top of the barges. At McKellar lake out from Memphis, houseboats are kept afloat with barrels, it is like a huge subdivision. Floating cranes lift these houses in order to service and replace barrels. It seems to me that watertight barrels or other similar devices could be used to stabilize underground structures from water. Try pushing a watertight barrel under the water with your hands. Ten men couldn't do it.
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 12/01/09 01:51:23 EST

I would like to purchase Calcium Flouride, but can't seem to find a source. I e-mailed one supplier, but never got a response. I'm sure some chemical supply place would have it. Also, would you consider anhydrous borax an aggressive flux or would there be something better ?
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 12/01/09 01:58:49 EST

Mike, Flux grade fluorite or flourspar is available from many ceramic suppliers. You want the top grade 98% CaF2. Borax is no considered an "aggressive" flux for chrome and nickle that is why the flourspar is added.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/01/09 02:12:45 EST

Holes in precut parts: Drilling and reaming is several steps more than just reaming and could include layout and punching or making a jig and inserting and removing the part from the jig. If the part has a properly located hole reaming a floating part is ONE step. It may be possible to make a sprocket or similar part by having it cut and then doing nothing except reaming the hole.

I have a part to make that requires a heavy ratchet wheel to be accurately welded to a shaft. A near size pilot hole would be part of the laser cutting. The part would be centered by 3 pins in drill fixture for finishing the hole to size. This would assure the hole is centered within a few thousandths of an inch and sized to be a snug fit on a turned section of the shaft. A minimal number of operations. Time is money. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/01/09 02:15:57 EST

Hammer handle wood: This past summer I cut down some young black walnut trees on my property. Really hard stuff, even now as it's not seasoned and should therefore be relatively soft it's not. Is this good stuff? My carpenter neighbor got some to play with and down the line we might attempt converting a drill press into a small vert lathe to make hammer handles from. Any advice is well appreciated.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 12/01/09 08:01:12 EST

Happy St. Eligius' Day!
   JimG - Tuesday, 12/01/09 09:56:05 EST

I made a walnut hammer handle once. It lasted about two days. It sure was pretty, though!

Walnut isn't terribly hard, but it is kinda brittle. Not a good combo for impact tools, but fine for cabinetry, hand tool handles (non-impact!) and gunstocks.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 12/01/09 10:01:49 EST

I used walnut to make handles on some wood carving gouges and it has held up quite well. But I made ferrules for both ends and the striking end was quite large. The handles were octagon in section and shaped sort of like an old Coke-a-Cola bottle. The striking end bands were made from 2" sched 40 pipe. I've never used anything other than a proper mallet to strike them. We made the same for my brother but he used a stone carvers hammer on the wood handles. . . They didn't last but a few days. Mine are 32 years old now.

I've also used walnut for file handles and small low duty hammer handles.

Dogwood is great stuff for all kinds of things and takes an exceptional finish without coating. It makes great wooden spoons.

If you have short sections of log you want to keep for wood you need to half or better yet, quarter it (by splitting). This will reduce checking tremendously. Walnut needs to dry slow. From the quartered pieces you can saw boards, veneers and such.

Small walnut boards cut artfully would make nice bases for sculptural work. It also carves very nicely.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/01/09 11:22:20 EST

Jock, a reamer will folow the pilot hole. In the aplication You mentioned, if the spindle is not on the pilot hole C/L the reamed hole will not be square to the plate. Making a jig? Time IS money, how many of these parts do You need?
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 12/01/09 22:09:03 EST

Nip, the drill press to lathe setup is do-able, I saw an article on Popular Mechanics or Popular Science years back when somone did it. It did look a bit clumsy, but I guess You get used to it.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 12/01/09 22:12:44 EST

Dave, It would be a low production machine part. While some shops invest a LOT in jigs those of us that know how on the cheap can make this one in a couple hours.

Drill press to lathe. . the only parts missing are the stationary center (in the table) and the tool rest.

The trick IS you want a drill press with a Morse taper spindle that will accept standard wood drive centers. One the tail end a live center can usually be taken off its shank and attached to anything you want.

Turning in the vertical IS a bit odd when you are used to horizontal. . . Flip the drill press over? AH that is what a ShopSmith is all about.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/01/09 23:26:57 EST

Some woods that would probably make good hammer handles....ash, black locust, persimmon.....before modern clubs, persimmon was used for making golf clubs. Black locust is known for strength, reisitance to rot ( popular for making fence posts ).
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 12/02/09 09:37:57 EST

I'm new to Blacksmithing, just getting started. Looking for ways to finish a project of mild steel to be hung outdoors. Would rather not paint it. Any tips would be helpful.
   Grumpea - Wednesday, 12/02/09 14:01:50 EST

Grumpea---Where you at? Here in NM UV and heat is the biggest problem, where Captn Atli lives salt and wet is a problem.

Only suggestion I can make that would cover both places wold be to make it from stainless and passivate the surface afterwards.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/02/09 15:07:40 EST

I'm in the Northwest, but some of what I'm making will go to Colorado. Just trying to stop the rust if I can.
   Grumpea - Wednesday, 12/02/09 15:45:35 EST

If you don't paint properly (zinc, neutral primer, top coat) it will rust. Cleaning beforehand is absolutely necessary. In painting cleanliness truly IS next to Godliness.

In arid environments you get slow rust but rust nonetheless.

If you want a "natural" finish then it is rust, unto dust.

Hollywood can make wood an plaster look like chrome and wrought iron. . . so why can't a blacksmith make his wrought iron LOOK like wrought iron?

PAINT does not hide surface texture unless it is improperly applied (mutiple coats of thickened paint with a dirty brush. . .). Multiple coats properly sprayed on will not change the textural appearance but it CAN enhance it.

Learning to apply a good finish that enhances the work is as important as the work itself. The COST of a proper paint job CAN be half the job. In many cases it is cheaper to sub out the work to a painter who also does the cleaning via sandblasting.

   - guru - Wednesday, 12/02/09 16:00:41 EST

dear Guru I am a 16 year old guy who really wants to DIVE into blacksmithing. I have great experience with the stock removal method but I also want the certain freedom that you get with black smithing. Whats my probleam you ask I dont have a formidable forge.I have made various kinds and was not pleased with the outcome. I want a awesome propane forge that will prefom like a champ somthing great for knife making thats what I do I make knives. I need it for heat treating my stock removal knives and also making black smithed knives...thanks for you're time Collin
   Collin - Wednesday, 12/02/09 17:19:50 EST

You might consider browning the metal for protection against corrosion. Brownells would probably have the bottles of browning solution with instructions. My understanding is that during the Civil War, guns were browned by the following process ( I think )....mix steel wool with nitric acid until the acid was completely saturated, then rub the brown onto the metal ie.-gun barrel. Then let a layer of rust build up on the metal, then rub the rust off and oil all over.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 12/02/09 19:17:54 EST

I made my propane forge out of 8* steel pipe, scrap is better if you can find it, new 8* steel pipe runs 11-12 dollars a foot. I bought 2 feet( they cut it in even feet )
then I shortened it to 18* After lining with inswool, satanite, and ITC, the 8* was reduced to little over 4*. I ordered a single venturi burner kit from Larry Zoeller, about 125.00, however I replaced the mig tip with a steel plug and drilled a 1/16* hole in it, then added a blower. It burns rich and will weld. My belief is that a venturi burner will not get up to welding heat unless you get the expensive kind ie.-approved by NASA and all that. Guru can help you a lot and has supplies in his store to provide much of what you need. Good luck Collin. :)
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 12/02/09 19:39:32 EST

Ultimate Gas Forge:

Well, I have seen many designs and they all tend to work about the same, but some not as good as others. The best all get to about the same heat but have features that make them more convenient than others.

The two best IMHO were for different purposes but could have had the variations in ONE forge. Then the third is mine which had considerable expense applied to an automatic control that could be used with a temperature control.

The first is a C shape forge (like some open farriers forges. Except this one started life as having a long side door and end ports. Then the corners were cut out so that long work could be put in from the side and extend out the two end ports. This is for decorative iron such as has an end that will not pass through the forge or en ports. The owner has since built a purpose built forge based on the same idea but I have not seen it.

The second (two) were bladesmiths tunnel type forges with air curtains on the ends. The air curtains were powered by excess fan air on one forge and an independent blower on the other. The nozzles on the air curtains were old vacuum cleaner nozzels facing upwards. The air curtains let you put your face right into the forge without fear of getting blasted by "dragon's breath". Great idea! If you want doors you need to use sliding types with the air curtain beyond the door thickness. I would use 1" thick doors and a slot in the extended hearth for the air curtain.

These forge designs are not mutually exclusive but they would be complicated to combine.

I would go with the air curtain tunnel forge as a bladesmith OR for feeding billets to a power hammer. OF COURSE this is a blown forge.

I start my designs based on brick sizes. Floors should be hard refractory brick, either full or half thick. A flat half brick floor should have 1" fiber refractory board under it (expensive) or another layer of brick which is not very good insulation. I like to build on top of 1" x 3/16" bar grating. This lets the floor breathe and requires a heat shield below it if ANY equipment is below the floor. The air curtain can blow through the bar grate but must pass through the heat shield or be above it. There should be a trash clean out door on the end of the air curtain tube as scale, small bits and debris is going to fall in.

The forge shell for a tunnel forge should be a seperate unit that lifts off. A couple tabs and small bolts can hold it in place. Unlike the floor it can be light weight construction using kaowool blanket. Our future forges will use folded strips of blanket sewn with inconell wire (looks like accordion fold but is actually strips. The advantage to this construction is that the "sewn" wires can have anchor loops attached that can be tired to a supporting frame (expanded metal) to make a flat roof. It is also stronger and more damage resistant than flat laid blanket. About 3" is the minimum for this process. Back end "doors" can be sliding half thick brick but the front door should be a counterbalanced vertical moving type. Due to the air curtain I would use either board or half thick brick in a steel frame. A notch in the shell would insure venting when or if the doors are closed.

Blower burners do not need an orifice. This just complicates things. But they do need a needle valve and a blower control.

To add automatic controls gets complicated. This requires ignition, a gas rated solenoid valve, relays and some type of control. Temperature control is expensive and thermocouples do not handle maximum forge temperatures well. They are more suitable for heat treating and you may want to retract the thermocouple when using forging heats.

While temperature controls DO have low power switching outputs I always use them to power an external ice-cube relay to prevent anything from happening to the control. These little relays have 3 or 4 NC/NO sets of contacts.

The last control I built used on and off delay timers to create dwell on, dwell off. On my big forge I use this of "economy" mode which keeps the forge fairly hot without running full blast. However, the repeated reigniting of the forge can get nerve racking. Same with on/off temperature controls. See Omega.com for control gizmos.

Forge can be heavy as well as heavy duty OR light weight and portable. The can be built cheap OR expensive. What is ultimate to you may not be to someone else.

Furnaces for burn out and heat treating are so much different than a forge that I would build them as seperate tools and not try to make ONE do everything.

AND While I am in no way rich or well off, when I build equipment I tend to pull out all the stops. Your budget and my budget may not be the same.

Above ALL. Gas forges are NOT one size fits all. Big forges use lots of gas no matter what the size of the work. Small forges don't use much gas but are limited to what will fit as well as weight of piece to be heated.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/02/09 20:12:31 EST

A properly built venturi forge does not have to be some esoteric thing to get to welding temp. I've done it in my forge and it's burners are just made from plumbing parts with a hole drilled in it---no special orifice!

OTOH a blown burner is easier to get to welding temp as you can pretty much just keep increasing the air and fuel until you get there. I control the fuel on my blown forge with a regulator and the air with a sliding choke and so can run it anywhere from very reducing to very oxidizing (makes a neat surface for dragons after you club off the scale)

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/02/09 20:16:08 EST

My venturi forge has an additonal gas line, controlled by a needle valve, that bleeds extra gas into the burner air intake. The basic burner is set to run somewhat oxidizing; I can add extra gas to make an atmosphere as reducing as I want.

Eliminating the orifice sure does make a forge more economical to operate. "Orifice" just means opening -- without one the gas stays in the tube!

Just had to get that off my chest. Of course, people usually use "orifice" to mean a carefully sized hole that lets gas into a burner at the correct velocity to induct the desired amount of air. With a blown burner, the gas velocity doesn't matter, so you can just let it flow out of the open end of a tube.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 12/02/09 21:08:36 EST

Guru and Thomas,

Thank you so very much for the resources! I will check out that Web site, and Thomas, I'll be in touch about the armoUr and swords,and medieval blacksmithing/swordsmithing!
   Carrole - Wednesday, 12/02/09 21:30:19 EST

Thank you for your input, especially Omega.com
Mike BR I think you have a good system, and as the Guru states I am limited by money. I have to build up my inventory a little at a time, but I get there. Mike BR
could you make a diagram of your burner and include the additional gas line, needle valve and all ? I have seen your posts before where you describe this method.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 12/03/09 02:47:31 EST

It just dawned on me when you were talking about air curtains, I thought you were talking about placing firebrick etc. at the mouth of the forge. I see now what you are talking about. I need another blower to create the air curtain, or if a powerful enough blower is incorporated, a splitter could divert part of the air to the mouth.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 12/03/09 02:56:07 EST

Right. From an operating stand point a seperate blower would be best so that partially blocking the "curtain" does not change the burner air flow.

The air curtain just blows UP from a slot just in front of the forge opening. The ones I saw used a vacuum cleaner nozzle but I would make my own from sheet metal and avoid aluminum or zinc parts that close to the forge heat. It really IS nice to be able to stand in front of the forge without getting blasted by the dragon's breath or losing eyebrows. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 12/03/09 09:13:46 EST

Carrole, I'm not on-line as much on weekends as I'm out in the shop more; but I'll check my mail at least daily.

I was just asked to do a forging demo for a "Bethlehem" set up this weekend. So out with the single action bellows and a mud and rock forge. Got a few tools that are spot on for Roman ones depicted on stone carvings and will be using charcoal for the fuel. Steve Parker made me a *GREAT* stump anvil that matches examples ranging from one in the Roman museum in Bath to one in the Camino Real museum here in NM to one used in the French and Indian war here in America. I'm going to have to punt with my simple early medieval tunics though as they don't have any "forge safe" clothing for Y0K.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/03/09 11:20:19 EST

Had a strange dream last night. I was hanging out with the girl I had a crush on in elementary school. She was the cute little red haired girl, in the dream she was still young. Her name was Cevia and she had an older brother named Samuel. I haven't seen nor spoken to this girl since high school. No doubt she has probably gotten married and had kids. For sure entirely would be the fact that if she did get married she would have given up her maiden name.... Yellin. Yep folks, that's right... our very own Nippulini went to school with the granddaughter of the great blacksmith Samuel Yellin. When I first got into smithing I saw the name and thought nothing of it. Then I remembered a thing about Jewish heritage... we don't name our children after the living, we honor the dead with the tribute of name. Samuel (her older brother) is named after the blacksmith. WOW. So, should I look her up? And if so, how long should I wait before asking to see if I can get my hands on her goodies (and by goodies I mean possible inherited tools).
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 12/03/09 12:42:58 EST

Don't wait at all Nipp, when/if you make contact let her know the reason your reconnecting is because you finally clued in about her last name. Not being upfront about it seems sort of a sideways way to go about things to me.
   JimG - Thursday, 12/03/09 14:01:29 EST

"Forge Safe Clothing"
Thomas, wouldn't that be the leather mini skirt over a loin cloth, roman sandles and, bare chested??( incert appropriate imodicon here)
You could probably get away with some natural cotton cloth worn poncho style and gatherd at the waist and maybe allowed to extend to mid thigh to cover a loin cloth for modisty.
   - merl - Thursday, 12/03/09 14:57:36 EST

It's snowing; I have this odd quirk about not forging in the nude when it's snowing. Funny I know; but that's just the way I am.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/03/09 15:36:00 EST

Mike T,

The Guru actually once drew and posted a diagram of my burner (or actually the way I *wish* I'd built my burner), but the archives search I tried didn't turn it up.

I don't think I can post a drawing here -- and I'm a lousy draftsman anyway, but maybe I can describe it well enough to be helpful. My basic burner is the original Reil design -- there's a diagram of that here: http://www.abana.org/ronreil/burner.gif.

In the Reil design, there's a pipe reducer at the top of the burner, with a 1/8" pipe nipple running across the top of that. The orifice, of course, is in the middle of the nipple pointing down into the reducer. The propane feeds into the pipe nipple from one end. On my forge, there's a shutoff valve on that end, which connects to a hose leading from the regulator.

Reil's diagarm shows a pipe cap on the other end of the nipple (and that's the way I built mine originally). I just removed the pipe cap and installed a needle valve in its place. The outlet side of the needle valve is connected to a piece of 1/4" soft copper tubing. The tubing is bent in a "U" so it goes up and then comes vertically down into the pipe reducer. The end of the tubing is open, and extends maybe 1/4" into the mouth of the reducer. That's all there is to it.

There other, and probably better, ways to construct this. It is helpful, though, to make the burner so that the added needle valve sees the same gas pressure as the main orifice does. In other words, it should be downstream of the regulator, any shut off valve, and anything else you use to control the gas flow to the burner. That way, you don't need to readjust the added needle valve every time you turn the burner up or down.

Thomas -- I *only* forge nude when it's snowing -- in Havana.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 12/03/09 18:25:07 EST

Guru and Mike BR,
Thank you for the input and information. I don't take added knowledge lightly. I make copies and keep them for reference. Mike BR I will look up the Reil burner and use your info for adaptations.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 12/03/09 19:15:28 EST

Nip are you Jewish ?
That reminds me of a joke. There was an airliner flying along and all of a sudden it hit some turbulence, the plane was rocked back and forth and the passengers began praying. There was a Rabbi on the plane and he said a prayer....OHH dear God if you let this plane land safely I will give you 10,00.00. After a while the turbulence stopped and the plane landed safely. There was a protestant preacher who approached the Rabbi and he said, I heard the oath you made to God, I think that was a wonderful gesture. Then the Rabbi said, " Well, I tell you what I changed my mind and made a better deal with God. I said OHH Lord, I will throw all of my money up in the air, whatever stays in the air I will give to you, whatever falls to the floor, I will keep. :)
   Mike T. - Thursday, 12/03/09 19:28:58 EST

It snowed here today as well. I've been waiting all summer for it to snow so I can get started on a complete rebuild of an outside wall on one of my buildings.
I'm one of those people that needs the iminent threat of winter to find the proper motivation for most major tasks.
Besides, if your afraid of a little snow while you work in historicly correct "garb" then you must not have a big enough fire, me thinks...
   - merl - Thursday, 12/03/09 21:06:05 EST

I am afraid you are much too late on getting any of Yellin's tools. They were sold off and then some anvils were saved and taken to The Renzetti shop that has been sold off.
   - Tool - Friday, 12/04/09 00:29:48 EST

Mike, yes I am Jewish, along with a few other Hebrew smiths here. That joke reminded me of another joke (also on an airplane and less stereotypical).

A rabbi is on a plane and gets seated next to a big tough looking Arab sheik. Halfway through the flight the sheik falls asleep, trapping the rabbi between the window seat and himself. The rabbi gets terribly airsick and has to vomit. Seeing as the sheik has blocked his escape, the rabbi had no other choice but to spew all over the sheiks beautiful white garb. A little while later the sheik wakes up and sees the horrible mess on his chest. The rabbi turns to the sheik and says "There, you feel better now?"
   - Nippulini - Friday, 12/04/09 08:14:52 EST

Nip is no more Jewish than I am! The big news story is that he went to school, not the girls who were there with him.

BTW I sometimes dream about one particular girl with whom I went to school............
   philip in china - Friday, 12/04/09 09:13:48 EST

I have a good friend that is Jewish, we fish, hunt and drink together. He calls me mikey
The last joke......ha ha ha that was a good one !!!!!

   Mike T. - Friday, 12/04/09 09:19:26 EST

Some of my best goys are friends.

It's a yoke, son.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 12/04/09 10:23:31 EST

I'm VERY uncomfortable with the religious jokes....We all had our laughs,now let's get back to forging..
   - arthur - Friday, 12/04/09 11:38:39 EST

I too am VERY uncomfortable with the ethnic and religous jokes. Make fun of how I look or my anvil, but not other folks who have suffered.
   - Alpon - Friday, 12/04/09 13:07:58 EST

A blacksmith, a carpenter and a potter walk into a bar...

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/04/09 13:56:18 EST

"A blacksmith, a carpenter and a potter walk into a bar..."

The bartender says "Is this some kind of joke!?"
   Dave Leppo - Friday, 12/04/09 14:17:08 EST

So, two strings go into a bar and order beer. The bartender says " Get outta here, we don't serve strings"! They go outside and one says "I just gotta have a beer". So he ties himself up and frizzies the end and goes back in. The bartender says "Hey, aren't you one of them strings"? "No" says he "I'm a frayed knot"!
   - grant - Friday, 12/04/09 14:39:18 EST

"Walks into a bar" jokes continue at the Hammer-In...
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/04/09 15:39:44 EST

Mike T. are you Christian?
   JimG - Friday, 12/04/09 15:42:07 EST

Alpon, If you make fun of a Southerner's (US) dog, pickup truck OR anvil you will will be in a fight. Call his wife anything you want but don't disparage that flea bit, slobberying, starved hound dog cause THOSE are fighting words.

Please follow Bruce to the Hammer-In
   - guru - Friday, 12/04/09 15:52:21 EST

Yes I am Christian, I believe we can be comfortable whith each others religion, ethnicity etc. We don't have to be stuffshirts. Jesus would want us to have a good laugh. He gave us life to enjoy and be happy. Jokes about my religion are very acceptable, just know the limits and boundaries.
   Mike T. - Friday, 12/04/09 17:52:46 EST


That is a good joke. I can't wait to tell my daughter.

Mike :)
   Mike T. - Friday, 12/04/09 17:56:55 EST

Mike T....
I find your sense of humor offensive
Your right, there are limits and boundaries...You crossed them.
   - arthur - Friday, 12/04/09 18:23:07 EST


I apologize if I offended anyone, and ask for your forgiveness. I will get back to the topic of blacksmithing.
Sorry for getting off subject.
   Mike T. - Friday, 12/04/09 20:17:55 EST


What the HELL are you talking about??? I am offended by the Racist garbage on this site. I said it was ok to make fun of how I look or my anvil, but not people who have suffered. Seriously how is that fighting words?? I made no offensive comments to anyone.

I have captured this commentary and will send it to the federal authorities for violation of the IPP laws. Since I was accused for something I have not done. This site can be shut down.
   - Alpon - Friday, 12/04/09 23:34:00 EST

Let me point out the word "I" refers to me Alpon. I am dumb founded intelligent people on this site do not know I is referring to self. Really???????

Why would I pick on Southern folks or wives etc??? I am totally confused???
   - Alpon - Friday, 12/04/09 23:39:47 EST


I believe you misread my post. Then wrote a post that was not congruent with my message.

We are all people, have different color skin, ethnicity, race, genders, sexual preferences and faiths. We are all human beings. Some people are good natured and some are bad in every race. Many of us including myself have experience racism. It is just wrong and we should all treat one another well. Yes, I was offended with others by the racist jokes even though I believe those people meant no harm.

I am disturbed by a comment you made about not picking on Southerners. I noticed you didn't mention Northern, Eastern or Western people. I see the super implication in that comment. We are all Americans and geographical local means nothing. People are mobile and move all the time. I feel you didn't mean intentionally, but on a subconsious level. See how that wrongful thinking creeps in and becomes part of us. The same thing happens with those rascist jokes.

Anyway I am not turning this site in or making it an issue. I spoke my peace and know you are all good people.
   - Alpon - Saturday, 12/05/09 00:30:35 EST

Alpon, SLOW down. Its a JOKE.

Maybe I should have said Red-Neck. Say anything you want about a Red-Neck's wife but NEVER talk bad about his dog or pickup truck. . . (or anvil).

   - guru - Saturday, 12/05/09 01:00:58 EST

Hi Guru
Sorry, I guess I am slow on the uptake tonight. Been a rough day. Spent to much time in the Blacksmith shop.
   - Alpon - Saturday, 12/05/09 01:12:40 EST

I get the joke now...LOL. You can delete my posts if you desire.
   - Alpon - Saturday, 12/05/09 01:14:53 EST

Guru, may you continue to have the patience of Job. Goodnight and God bless.
   - Plato - Saturday, 12/05/09 01:21:09 EST

Guru, may you continue to have the patience of Job. Goodnight and God bless.
   - Plato - Saturday, 12/05/09 01:22:31 EST


I read scarey article in The Hammer's Blow the other day. It is "Beware Of Brake Cleaner" by Brew Dude. The summer issue Vol 17, #3 page 16. It is about the dangers of phosgene gas. One little puff of smoke inhaled can be fatal. It explains the dangers in using as a metal cleaner and then welding. The excessive heat and argon gas will produce the corrosive phosegene gas. There is no antidote for the phosgene gas poisoning. If you survive you get chronic bronchitis or emphysema. This is just as serious as metal fume fever from zinc poisoning. This you only need one puff of smoke to be fatal!!
   - Alpon - Saturday, 12/05/09 01:26:21 EST

Phosgene gas... isn't that redneck nitrous oxide?
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 12/05/09 07:55:24 EST


I'm afraid it's no laughing matter.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 12/05/09 08:08:44 EST

Brake cleaner and Phosgene.
Not all compositions of brake cleaner will react in this way. A good reason to READ the labels, and to request the MSDS and READ it as well.
These are very easy to obtain now. I have just been thru the process of getting current MSDS for about 400 materials. Not that hard.
Harder is understanding the MSDS since the units can be anything the writer cares to use, and the langauge can be kindergarten or Phd chemistry proffesor level.

I read these daily, and if you need a MSDS explained just post.
   ptree - Saturday, 12/05/09 08:26:55 EST

MSDS.. isn't that what my wife goes through once a month?
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 12/05/09 08:39:53 EST

Nip, Nip, Nip You make me laugh. It ain't PC, but you do make me laugh!

On another note, I just went to an auction last week that included all kinds of really old machines, including lathes, milling machines, wood planer, etc.,etc. 90% of it was sold for scrap. Really sad to see all these wonderful machines headed down that road. I was able to buy a Bradley power hammer, and another person bought a Hawkeye power hammer that will go to a living museum. The Bradley will eventually be put to work in my shop (with a lot of advice from my friends here). I wanted very much to buy more of the machines at the auction, but space, time and money are all limiting factors.
   Dave F - Saturday, 12/05/09 10:13:44 EST

Dave, When they are ALL gone it will become the "in" thing to establish industrial museums. "Yes son, We really used to MAKE things in the consumer states of America." - I see a cartoon in that. . .

MSDS: We provide them on-line for the few products we handle that require them AND send a copy of the packaging warning with all cut kaowool which outlines the issues and refers one to the full MSDS. I recently converted old graphic scan MSDS to PDF's as that it the defacto standard for most industry now. While you are required to have a book with printed copies the PDF's make it easy to store and print them as needed.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/05/09 10:48:28 EST

What do you think about the quality of the Old World Anvil Co.? I beleive that all the anvils are made by the same people.
   - Jacob Lockhart - Saturday, 12/05/09 12:04:13 EST

Guru, what is the name of your store?
   Carver Jake - Saturday, 12/05/09 12:15:18 EST


Old World Anvils:

Some people like them and some do not. They are a good anvil although not professional grade. They are soft and missed hammer blows will dent them. They have a 44 Rockwell. I had one that came with a dip in the face that was about 2" wide, 4" long and dime thickness deep. The soft faces help one learn hammer control and keep shards of edges from breaking off and flying at you.

The people at Old World Anvils are good to deal with. They would have replaced the anvil with the problem for me. I didn't bother as it wasn't a major crisis.

They are affordable and this can be very important to people with smaller bugets. The old adage you get what you pay for. I give them an 85% satisfactory rate. My opinion only.

They have good ring and rebound. Good mass in the waist.
   - Alpon - Saturday, 12/05/09 13:19:58 EST


The same Czech foundry makes all the cast steel anvils. Those are the ones I am referring too. They recently started carrying a drop forged anvil and I do not know who makes them or the quality. I suspect they are better than the cast steel ones.
   - Alpon - Saturday, 12/05/09 13:22:30 EST

The face dip actually made a nice area to straighten items etc.
   - Alpon - Saturday, 12/05/09 14:15:43 EST

Phosphegne gas: if i am correct phospegne gas was used in ww1 as a chemical weapon. i think that my great grandpa may have know a few people who got gassed with it. i heard some nasty stories about it too.
   bigfoot - Saturday, 12/05/09 14:23:55 EST

"Czech Foundries" Nope. . . there are more than one and it has changed a number of times. One stopped because they were too busy with better work, another was dropped due to poor quality and so on. . . At least this has been the case with EuroAnvils. There are also different agents selling them in Europe as well as handling the sales to the US.

Who is standing behind the product is what is important in this case. Due to quality issues and whole loads being returned or refused I would not trust fly by night dealers. I DO know that some reject EuroAnvils have been sold but at reduced prices with full disclosure of the flaws.

The manufacturer's web site for the Turkish anvils says cast and then forged alternately in several paragraphs. Take your pick. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 12/05/09 14:54:32 EST

Jake, See the "store" link at the top of every page. . .

The files in the current store are not those in the new cart which has been delayed in launching. Our new "more secure" server was hacked and had to be scraped. So we are starting over again.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/05/09 14:57:16 EST

Diamondback 2 burner metalsmith forge? Anyone with experience with this specific forge? I am planning a gas forge purchase and this one interested me. I wonder if it could reach welding temperatures with all the doors opened and at what gas pressure is it necessary to run at to reach a welding temp within a reasonable time. Has anyone had experience with two burner Diamondback forges? I know this might have been covered in previous postings, but some of my questions have not been answered. Thanks.
   David - Saturday, 12/05/09 15:42:27 EST

I have e-mailed a couple of companies concerning calcium floride ( fluorspar ) and have't received an answer as of yet. I know some chemical companies only want to sell products in bulk quantities. I need some for the damascus I want to make..........help.
Yes, I am a redneck and proud of it. My nephew sent me a bird from South America. He called and ask me if I received the bird. I said," Yes, it was delicious." He said ," You don't mean to tell me you ate it ?, that bird could speak two languages. I said," Well then, he should have said something !!
   Mike T. - Saturday, 12/05/09 16:59:22 EST

From memory phosgene is produced when fumes from carbon tetrachloride contact a flame. So if you inhale carbon tet through a cigarette you are actually inhaling phosgene. The surgeon general would be even less happy about that. Yes phosgene was a chemical weapon used in WW1 and is about as nasty as substances come.

Re. Czech foundries I know the guy who used to get euros cast changed foundries due to quality issues. He had some of the smaller size made at the new foundry and the photos looked OK but they had been painted and, of course, you really can't tell from a photo of an anvil what it is like. I was looking at them with a view to getting maybe a couple for my shop in Europe. The problem was that for an anvil made in eastern europe they simply weren't cheap enough! Buying would have been a risk and whilst a Vaughans (watch the spelling) is quite a bit more expensive it would have been of known quality. Since then I am now up to 5 top quality cast steel anvils here, together with all the other equipment, so what I shall do is actually just ship a part container load with everything to the place in Europe when eventually I finish here.
   philip in china - Saturday, 12/05/09 19:11:37 EST

Davis, 99.9+% of all questions asked here, that can be answered, get answered. If you didn't see it you probably did not check back soon enough.

Diamondback is one of the newer brands on the market. I have never seen one in operation and I visit a LOT of shops.

Some of these questions should be asked of the manufacturer.

Most gas forges require some of the doors and ports to be closed to reach welding heat. I doubt if any will weld with all the doors fully open.

"Welding Temperature" varies by as much as 200 degrees Fahrenheit with high carbon steel being the lowest temperature to weld and wrought and mild steel the highest. Process and conditions also make a difference lowering the temperature as much as another 200 degrees.

The pressure some forges operate at (less than 10 PSI) is hard to measure accurately. Most common gauges that have any age on them are out of range of the working temperature. Pressure is also relative. A forge with a large injection orifice can run at less than 1 PSI while a forge with a very small orifice may run at 25 PSI and both forges use the same amount of gas. What you should be asking is how much gas the forge uses per hour. This is often equivalent to the unit's BTU rating.

While no blacksmith forge manufacturer that I know does it, the forge should be rated in mass per hour heated to temperature. You want to know how many pounds of steel can be heated per hour OR the maximum amount of steel that should be put in the forge at any one time.

   - guru - Saturday, 12/05/09 19:17:43 EST

I stand corrected as to number of foundries that make Czech anvils as Guru points out. I seem to recall switching of foundries more than once now. Braco was or is one of the foundries.

I have also found redish body fill in the waist and base of these anvils upon removing paint. It was just to enhance the physical appearnace of anvil from casting inclusions. The inclusions appear to have not been anything to affect performance of anvil due to location. However, I could not see inside of anvil near working surfaces.
   - Alpon - Saturday, 12/05/09 22:30:05 EST

As Guru mentions it is important who the dealer is. Old World Anvils and Blacksmith Supply(Euro Anvils) will stand by the product and be happy to replace. Other dealers are not readly know and if offer lower prices may be suspect to non-warrenty.
   - Alpon - Saturday, 12/05/09 22:32:44 EST

Branco Czech Anvil Exporter

   - Alpon - Saturday, 12/05/09 22:40:38 EST

Phosgene: From what I remember, it is the chlorine that is the culprit when exposed to high temperature, wether it be a clorinated hydrocarbon like some brake cleaners or carbon tet or a clorinated flourocarbon like older refrigerants [Freon]. Keep this in mind if You ever use a halide torch to find refrigerant leaks.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 12/05/09 23:23:48 EST

The one item I remember related to phosgene gas production is 1-1-1 triclorethane - vapors from it would be transformed to phosgene around the arc from an electric arc furnace. In the 80's we'd use trichlor to clean black iron pipe and pipe fittings for oxygen service when we absolutely had to, such as when the customer hadn't bought the degreased/pickled pipe and fittings we'd specified and we absolutely had to get a system up and running. Funny, a lot of those customers happened to be steel mills with EAF's which is where we were piping the oxygen to, so it could be used in processing. I suspect the other good chlorinated solvents would act the same.
   - Gavainh - Saturday, 12/05/09 23:40:37 EST

GURU, MSDS are not required to be held in paper form, at least by the Federal OSHA, and KY which is a Primacy State also does not require Paper. What is required is access by every employee, and in a timely manner. Many services will now store and maintain MSDS online in a E-binder that contains only the MSDS for your company. Often these services will have a system to update and maintain the MSDS. They also often have a 1-800 phone, manned 24 hours and will read the MSDS to you if the internet is down to maintain the "Access" that is required.
For a company with 500 or so active MSDS, and a large layout the Internet option, access by every computer in the plant for a read only/Print only this is a Safety guys dream. No more lost pages, lost MSDS, Paging thru huge binders etc.
I am installing just such a system, and have the MSDS in the e-binder, and now await a few detail to rollout to the floor.
   ptree - Sunday, 12/06/09 08:17:40 EST

Chemical info. For all. Search NIOSH, Pocket book of hazardous Chemicals. Bookmark on your computer. This is a factual, easy to read listing of hazardous chemicals, the OSHA set and other Authority set exposure limits, and PPE needed.
I use it almost daily
   ptree - Sunday, 12/06/09 08:19:47 EST

Gavainh. I remember several orders of forged steel fitting that were returned for Oxygen service, that had been ordered from stock, and someone noticed before install. I also have seen some ugly examples of ones that were installed and the O2 turned on.

WEmade valves and fittings for Oxygen service, Chlorine service, cryogenic service,phosgene service, and the ones that really worried me, for Catagory R service.
Catagory R service "For service with a media, that will cause permanent injury, or death from exposure, even with imediate first aid"
   ptree - Sunday, 12/06/09 08:23:37 EST

Thanks Guru for the information: I wanted the opinions of people who had worked with the diamondback forges, as the manufacturers have bias opinions. There's nothing like experience to verify claims and as most of us know, claims are easy to make.
   David - Sunday, 12/06/09 11:30:13 EST

A question on "Tubing, Round, Mechanical" aka "CDS" and "DOM"
I have always assumed (my bad) that both these, which the local steel yard groups together as "DOM" are seemless. Which is nice for forging. Recently I got sold some DOM remains and one (which measures 1 5/16 x .175 (.188?) has a nice weld seam down its length. I assume this is a mis filed rem. Ah, the question...are both CDS and DOM really seamless. I ask only to know, not to try and ding the steelyard. Thanks in advance
   Tim in Orygun - Sunday, 12/06/09 12:23:29 EST

Tim, I do not know "CDS" but DOM means Drawn Over Mandrel. Basically this is forged tubing with NO seams.

No-cast, seemless is made two ways. One is deep punched and drawn over the punch/madrel. The length is limited by the mandrel and force. The other is punched and (rotary) forged, the hole remaining. The ID comes out rather rough. As a blacksmith you can do either yourself to a limited extent.

Ever wonder how they make flux core wire and roll solder with 5 little holes filled with flux? You start with a short billet with the hole or holes, fill them, cap the ends and start forging, drawing, rolling. . . Until the short fat piece is very long.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/06/09 13:27:58 EST

Forges, David, If you ask the manufacturer about heat with ALL the doors/ports wide open he will probably be honest with you. Same with fuel pressure. But THAT does not tell you anything. What you want to know is fuel consumption. Asking the wrong questions gets the wrong answers.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/06/09 13:32:00 EST

Google seems to say that "CDS" is "cold drawn seamless." When I ordered tubing for a bicycle project years ago, DOM tubing was quite a bit cheaper than seamless. I figured it was welded, then drawn on a mandrel to forge the weld flat. Even if that's true, a visible seam probably means you're not getting your money's worth.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 12/06/09 16:05:55 EST

DOM is electric welded and then drawn over a mandrel. Yes CDS is seamless tubing that has been cold finished.
   - grant - Sunday, 12/06/09 16:12:10 EST

DOM does mean drawn over mandrel but it does not imply HOW the tube was made: both ERW welded and seamless tubing can be DOM. The Mannessmann piercing method is the most common way to make seamless pipe and it starts by compression rolling a hot round billet. The hole opens of its own accord, no punching involved. It is guided by a piercing mandrel and then stretch reduced or sized as needed. Next best thing to PFM.....
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 12/06/09 16:47:25 EST

From the Steel Tube Institute: http://www.steeltubeinstitute.org/dom.htm

“Drawn Over Mandrel (DOM) refers to high-strength, electrically-welded tubing that has been further processed by cold drawing through dies and over mandrels to improve its uniformity, mechanical properties and surface finish”. 
   - grant - Sunday, 12/06/09 16:55:25 EST

Here is a little animation about how they make the DOM tubing. I went looking because I have always wondered how they do it.
   - JNewman - Sunday, 12/06/09 16:59:52 EST

Quenchcrack: Wouldn't "Cold Drawn Seamless" be a pretty similar result to DOM. Just never seen seamless designated DOM. Just because they "can" doesn't mean they do.
   - grant - Sunday, 12/06/09 17:25:12 EST

Cold drawing is usually drawing through a die to improve OD tolerances. DOM draws through a die with a mandrel inside to improve OD and Wall thickness tolerances. I worked at Lone Star Steel which had 11 draw benches, from a few thousand pounds up to a million pounds of draw. Seamless has a lot of wall variation and it can be improved with DOM. ERW has very good dimensional tolerances but it can be sink drawn to increase wall thickness or just DOM to make it uniform and a bit smaller.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 12/06/09 18:53:34 EST

I am always poking holes in plots in movies. My wife can't stand it sometimes. Why would tomatoes be in an English towne market in the year 1410? They weren't brought to Europe until the 1500's. Anyway, we were watching LOTR yesterday and I turned to my wife and said "did you know blacksmiths never made swords?". Then I explained pretty much everything in the FAQ.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 12/07/09 09:35:38 EST

In earlier times Blacksmiths probably made as many locks and keys as locksmiths. It was considered an important part of the trade. While shoeing horses became important, shoeing and making shoes were specialties before the Americas were settled by Europeans. It is in the Americas where the frontier blacksmith became the do-all craftsman, making and repairing wagons, shoeing horses and doing every other kind of metal work.

LOTR opens with the "forging of the rings" by CASTING.

Speaking of movies. . The new Star Trek movie had me going until I finally realized that from the opening scene onward the entire story is an altered reality. Change a significant historical event and then you can do anything you want. . .
   - guru - Monday, 12/07/09 10:30:16 EST

Traditions! (As sung by Tavia in Fiddler on the roof)

We occasionally get into "what is traditional". Well, food takes the cake. As you noted the tomato (as well as potatoes, corn and pumpkins among many others) are from the Western Hemisphere. Pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce and salsa all are tomato based. All that "traditional" tomato Italian food is relatively late. And the great Irish potato famine would not have occurred if the Irish had stuck with local foods.

Then there is the Great American Indian horse culture that only developed after the Spanish reintroduced the horse to North America. The native horse (and camel) had both been hunted to extinction for food. . .

One of the more interesting "traditions" is the diamond engagement ring. This "tradition" was created by the diamond cartel, DeBeers in an advertising campaign in order to sell more diamonds. They changed most of the world from where only the very rich bought diamonds to every engaged couple. The NEW push as baby boomers mature is the "anniversary" diamond.

So, traditions are what you want them to be OR make them to be.

   - guru - Monday, 12/07/09 12:20:39 EST

I took my earliest styled forge to a "Bethlehem village" set up. Had a bellows thrall to work the single action bellows blowing into the side of a shallow forge built ontop of a soapstone slab, burning charcoal. I even brought my stump anvil and the hammers and tongs that looked most like the roman examples I have seen.

Cold night but I had a blast and well worth the trouble setting it up rather than using the hand crank blower, bottom blast travel forge.

   Thomas P - Monday, 12/07/09 15:43:18 EST

   Julian Koob - Monday, 12/07/09 17:00:09 EST

Hi, my name is Julian Koob and I recently took up blacksmithing as a school project. For the past few months I've been going to a blacksmith shop to learn techniques and work metal. Recently I've started working on a knife and I am here to ask about how it should be tempered. I would like to know a quenching medium, tempering heat, and how long it should stay at that heat. The knife is 3/4 of an inch by 1/8 of an inch (it's quite thin) and it is "01 steel"

Many thanks,
   Julian Koob - Monday, 12/07/09 17:02:25 EST

Julian, O1 is "oil hardening" but in a thin section it may air quench. To prevent damage while heat treating be sure your oil is quite warm and that the steel is not overheated. The rule is to quench on a "rising heat" That is, without heating too hot then reducing to the correct temperature. You want to heat just TO the hardening point which is non-magnetic and no higher. On small parts it helps to heat a large bar to the needed temperature and then heat the small part on the large.

When you plunge the part in the quenchant it is best to go edge Or end first, never on a side. Then stir the part around until cool enough to touch.

Temper immediately after hardening. A safety temper is to temper to at least 350-400 F. This will reduce the chance of breaking the part in handling and leave it at the maximum hardness. Later you will probably want to temper to almost a blue.

Tempering of thin pieces can also be done on a large block heated to the necessary temperature. If judging temperature by color you will need to polish a spot on the block each time and not overheat. Judging temperature by color on works one way. . UP. You can heat the block on a stove top or in the forge. Once the block is evenly heated place your part on it and watch it change color. If you have a big 3/4" or 1" block it will heat the part to its own temperature in seconds.

Oil for a quenchant can be mineral (baby) oil, peanut oil or ATF (automatic transmission fluid).

Try not to put too much effort into your first blades until you have hardened and tempered them. They will snap right in two if too hard or improperly treated. Experiment, practice.
   - guru - Monday, 12/07/09 18:01:48 EST

Hi Jock
Question- what is the thermal material used in the doors of portable gas forges (farriers).I suspect it is Kaowool but so far unable to obtain a response from the UK suppliers!
   TC - Tuesday, 12/08/09 13:25:56 EST

Tony, If it is soft and fluffy it is Koawool or a competing product. It is often 2" thick which is hard to obtain. We will carry it for cut sales in the future but do not at this time. Multiple layers can be sewn together using Inconell wire. IF the screws or pins that anchor the blanket are close enough to the edge of the door then they will anchor two layers of one inch.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/08/09 13:42:20 EST

Guru -
I'm a "hobby" blacksmith and am struggling with tenons. I read your article: "One Pass Tenons: Making Pickett or Bradding Tenons on a Lathe". However, from the article, I can not figure out how long a piece of square rod can be. How is it supported in the lathe? I can't picture it in my head. Forgive my lack of experience with a metal lathe.
   Roger - Tuesday, 12/08/09 14:29:03 EST

I came across this Stove a friend had just bought, and I thought it was pretty cool so I offered him his money back and a little boot trade. Now Im trying to figure out how it was suposed to be used. I can't find any reference on the internet for a 170 or 17D Hot Blast Us stove Gatlinburg Tenn. regardless of its condition, I will make good use of it as an outdoor wood stove that will last a hell of a lot longer than those clay Chimeras. so my 40.00 is not wasted. I am thinking it is suposed to be coal fueled, but I have never seen a coal burner so I could be wrong. Knowing nothing about the stove I am guessing that it is suposed to be used to heat metal, and I might be able to use it as a Hobby forge. The fellow I got it from had already had a friend braze the broken hinge on the door, I might try to clean up that wield and make it a bit prettier, but it also has some areas around the cast pieces were they join the body of the stove that need to be filled. and brass would do the job nicely. I don't think disassemble would be wise. as you will see in the pictures the firebrick is pretty cracked , I was thinking that I might be able to coat the inside with some refractory paste. However I am at a complete loss as to the function of the little cone in the top. My wild guess is that there is a missing piece that has broken. perhaps a bell like piece that focuses the heat into the eye so you have a torch on top. but I am unsure of how the main flue would be vented from such a bell. perhaps some sort of vents that created a spiral draft??
so what I would like to use it for is to burn scrap from my shop and possibly to forge or experiment with extracting metal from ore and other hot dangerous frivolous play. you can see the pictures here http://www.arboristsite.com/showthread.php?t=117508
Thank you
   Root - Tuesday, 12/08/09 14:36:21 EST

No that is not something to heat or smelt metals in it is a stove used to warm fairly largish rooms like a train depot waiting room. The place on top is so you can heat your coffeepot faster.

It would make a poor forge or bloomery and a great smithy warming stove.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/08/09 15:42:44 EST


Roger, Hand forging good square tenons is one of those things you have to practice. The skill is in striking the work exactly opposite the corner of the anvil with the edge of the hammer. It helps to use a hammer with a fairly square edge. Often a clapper die is used to finish the round and a monkey tool to square up the shoulder. But a good smith can make a ready to use tenon with hammer and anvil alone.

In most lathes the spindle is hollow. So there is no real length limit as long as the part passes through the spindle. If the part hangs out too far and whips around then it needs to be supported in a stock stand. A V shape (angle iron) works on round stock and a half round (split pipe) work on square.

So, the long part of the bar passes through the spindle, the chuck grips the part near where you are going to machine it and off you go. For single pass tenons the stock cannot hang out much farther than the length to be machined.

For pickets with decorative elements in the middle that won't pass through the spindle OR bent ends it is more complicated. For these you need a special tool called a "box tool" that fits in the spindle and a vise on the carriage. The box tool has a pilot hole and a pair of cutters inside. The part is clamped in the vise with what ever oddities it has on it off in space, then the carriage is fed into the turning box tool. This is very similar to a wood tenoning operation.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/08/09 16:59:09 EST

TONIGHT : We will be moving to the NEW server. Expect delays and needing to clear your cache maybe more than once.

Posts beyond this point may be lost.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/09/09 01:33:35 EST

Well. . . we are still debugging this AM but the server seems to be working.

Blacksmith RINGS users. Please note that the rings server error is being addressed at this moment.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/09/09 10:00:09 EST

A good blacksmithing video.
   Carver Jake - Wednesday, 12/09/09 11:14:16 EST

I'm new to blacksmithing just decided one day i wanted to build my wife a metal rose, everyone laughed and thought i was full of it. built the first one and that started me off had art dealers wanting me to enter there show. and the next thing i was building gates, railings,
i've been getting better, butt drawing out big bar really eats up my time, so i just built a 75 lb rusty's hammer works good but wasn't for sure on how much stroke works the best, any idea's THANKS
   sstwistedmetal - Wednesday, 12/09/09 11:23:26 EST

The stroke on power hammers at the crank end is only 4 to 4 inches. The inertia of the ram on the spring should create a greater stroke on the working end.

Of critical importance is that at rest, with the ram down there should be an inch of so clearance between the dies. If the height is adjustable then the gap should be equal to the largest dimension of the work or just a little less. Good hammers have enough working height to draw a bar to about 1/4 of its original thickness with the same efficiency throughout the process. Then the power will drop off (which is good on thiun work).
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/09/09 12:24:00 EST

i was just lookin at anvils on this sight and seen a trenton anvil, the one i got has been handed down through the decades looks just like the german trenton, anyone have any info on this thanks
   sstwistedmetal - Wednesday, 12/09/09 12:29:21 EST

thanks for all the info, it is hard somtimes , starting out with out anyone to give u help.this is a passion i have just had to learn myself, so thanks for all the help
   sstwistedmetal - Wednesday, 12/09/09 12:56:28 EST

found articles that stated if it stamped trenton within a diamond it is german, 1860-1898 mine is stamped just like that , are these rare, and good anvils, should i be using it if so??
   sstwistedmetal - Wednesday, 12/09/09 13:36:38 EST

sstwistedmetal, I built a Rusty style and at 45# for my springs I need one fingers thickness of daylight more than the thickness of the stock i am working for best effect. I have quite a bitof leeway either side of that but for my spring, my ram and my 3.5" off center crank that does the trick. If double tapping On mine I am too little daylight.
   ptree - Wednesday, 12/09/09 13:51:43 EST

Early Trentons were made in Germany for import into the US and later were manufactured in the US. They are a forged wrought iron body with steel face anvil. The German made ones were very good quality.

There are several pages of information on them in Anvils in America (see our store and the book review page).
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/09/09 14:11:30 EST

Yes you should be using it---That is what it was made for!

Trenton within a diamond was their logo for all their anvils, (save for the Trextons), not just the German ones.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/09/09 16:02:23 EST

Thanks for all the info, by the way it's cold outside big bowl of chili sounds real good lol!!!! thanks again
   sstwistedmetal - Wednesday, 12/09/09 16:45:52 EST

Hi Roots


What you have is a Hot Blast Coal Stove. This is why the the middle body ring above the grates is lined with firebrick/refractory. It has the typical bottom draft and a top draft. This is to induce more draft and get this stove burning hot. This is why it is called a "Hot" & "Blast". The upper draft creats a swirl inside the stove.
It is normal to find the end of the tube in the top burned off. It doesn't hurt the function. You are fortunate to have a good great with shaker. They burned out and needed replacing from time to time.

You can use it to burn wood. It is not a coal forge or blast furnace. It is a shame it has a repair on the front door. It is perfectly useful like that, but as a collectible kills the value. You bought it right. Enjoy and keep yourself and shop warm.
   - Brande - Wednesday, 12/09/09 23:27:07 EST

stove/never claimed I could spell...grin

grate not great above
creates not creats
   - Brande - Wednesday, 12/09/09 23:29:32 EST

Tom P.
I like your idea of a coffe pot heater. Would be nice in the shop. The top draft would also make a nice hot dog warmer. Just need to forge a weiner fork. You inspired me. Now I wish I had that hot blast stove.
   - Brande - Wednesday, 12/09/09 23:32:53 EST

how do i point the ends of rods to make a spear for ice fishing? I can't get the barbs to fill out the way they should. thanks
   Bryce - Thursday, 12/10/09 09:13:17 EST

Bryce, I'm having trouble with your question "fill out?".

Pointing is a blacksmithing basic. Forge at the edge of the anvil (or work block), work one direction a little, then rotate 90 degrees and work a little then rotate back. Depending on the size of the stock you will only strike it two or three times per side then rotate. As the point gets smaller you strike only once per 90 degree axis and very lightly on a near sharp point.

With some good grades of steel you can forge a long tapered point cold if you do not overwork it. But hot is best and least likely to have problems splitting.

Barbs on a pointed bar are pretty easy. They are cut with a sharp hot or cold chisel and can be cut either hot or cold. Hot is easier. The sharper the chisel, the sharper the barb. It is easier to get a barb on a square corner than round and it is usually the last thing you do.

If the above is not what you need then expand on your question.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/10/09 10:44:44 EST

Bryce; fishing spear barbs: When I do barbs on small points I partially draw out a point (not too fine) faggot weld in back over the shaft, and then finish up with files to put on the final points.

Cold and sunny on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/10/09 10:47:31 EST

Round section points (cones) are made by forging square first then knocking the corners off to make an octagon section then knocking the corners off the octagon. Generally 16 flats oe so looks very smooth and round.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/10/09 10:48:31 EST

myself and my son Jason are starting to build a junk yard power hammer of 50lb, i've got about 500lbs of steel for the anvil to be welder up which i hope will be enought.
the hammer will be patterned after steve Barringer B2 Design, Ltd. but the wheel will be at the rear and a longer crankshaft forward, question 1. will a counter weight in proper time enhance the hammer? also we are considering using a air cylinder as a air spring like Tony Bartol's air hammer; quistion 2. what do you think of the Tony Bartol air spring? any help would be welcomed, thankyou in advance. steve/jason sharpsville indiana usa
   Steven A. Carter - Thursday, 12/10/09 11:50:59 EST

Tire JYH Power Hammers: Counter weights smooth hammer operation and balance the hammer. On the tire hammer designs the tire/wheel is a significant flywheel so the only balancing that needs to be done is of side to side motion and this should be on the crank end. The amount to balance is all the weight of the crank pin assembly and 1/2 the weight of the arms and parts between the crank pin and the ram attachment (springs, toggles. . ).

Air springs and shock absorbers are not a good design on these machines. We played with them and learned what we should have known, they are energy wasters and very inefficient. Air springs heat up rapidly in this operation and may leak or fail in a short time. Stick with the spring and toggle arm designs using coil or leaf springs.

At 10:1 you have plenty of anvil. 15:1 is ideal but most commercial hammers no longer meet that due to economics and many are as low as 8:1.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/10/09 12:04:05 EST

Ice fishing barbs. I don't know your skill level, but I would move the multiple tines out of the way leaving one to get at with the hammer ("convenience bending"). I would point it, lay it back on itself a short distance and forge weld another point from the "lay-back." Some fireplace pokers are done this way.

I think this is what Bruce was saying, but he didn't mention the lay-back.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/10/09 12:45:55 EST

What Frank said I siad; I think... Need sketchpad.

“Ask 6 blacksmiths, get two dozen answers." ;-)

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/10/09 14:51:03 EST

Fishing barbs . . .
Actually, I have done spear points three different ways. BTW, they are called “gigs” here in the Ozarks. :-)
If your tine stock is already at the final dimension, the method described by Frank and Bruce is the typical method.
But the typical forged gig made around here is slit and forged from flat stock such as car spring. After the tines are slit and before forging down to final dimension, the barbs are cut with a thin chisel. The tines still have a rectangular cross section at this time. The area directly behind the barb can then be forged down over a hardy tool similar to a snub end scroll starter. Then the end of the tine is forged out to the sharp point. This leaves more stock for a nice barb without thinning the tine excessively just behind the barb.
The third method that I use when repairing old gigs that have been sharpened down to where the old barb is completely gone, and the tines are too short to use the first method, is just to arc weld on a new barb. I shear a short piece of square keystock on a 45 deg angle(both ends). Then just weld this to the tine and use an angle grinder to clean it up.
   - Bernard Tappel - Thursday, 12/10/09 15:28:32 EST

Frank; I am a former student of yours. I've been forging with a gas forge, but can't forge weld with it (maybe I just can't forge weld.). I built a coke forge. I am using coal to start the fire like we did at your school, then I add on the coke. Seems like the fire only burns for about an hour then gradually cools off and goes out, leaving unburnt coke and clinker. I am using an electric blower so there is plenty of air. Any suggestions how to get this stuff to burn?
   Dusty Weathers - Thursday, 12/10/09 17:49:39 EST

Dusty, Where did you get your coke? And is the coal good clean coal. It sounds like a fuel quality problem. I've used coke that left a large amount of clinker that almost looked like the coke. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 12/10/09 19:14:24 EST

Yeah; the clinker looks like the coke, except that it sticks to the steel...I got it at peih tool. I am thinking about using it to pave a path around the back of my shop to the junk pile.
   Dusty Weathers - Thursday, 12/10/09 19:20:22 EST

Hi firebreathers... I'm in Mexico and want to finally explore the world of power hammers. I must admit as to be a neophyte smith... Scrounging the area i found In a old warehouse here a MINER'S (US made) 2 ton (they say ?.. or is it 200# !!) drop hammer. I took a pic... available to who might like to peek! Now... my question: is this of any great use to me, or should i be looking more at a LG, or a Striker, or (gezz i'd like it...) an IronKiss. How much i pay for this item... it's in good working condition !! Thanx a million... Pierre Oh by the way... thay also have a "the Peck" 60 tons fly press... ! Wow!
   Pierre - Thursday, 12/10/09 20:07:56 EST

If I lived in Mexico, I would buy 2 or 3 hammers and hire some gentiles to swing them for me. eh oh
Are you talking about frog gigs ? Yes, the barbs have to be big and sharp. I kept gigging the same frog one night and he kept pulling himself off. I got him on the 3rd try. These were White river frogs, biggest I ever gigged.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 12/10/09 22:38:13 EST

Pierre, A 10 to 1 difference in size is a LOT. A ton hammer takes several tractor loads to move. Also about 150HP to operate (depending on load). A 200 pound hammer is very handy in the blacksmith shop but is very big for most small shops. Takes 15 to 25 HP to run. Unless you have 3PH power it is a problem. Most rural or domestic power supplies are limited to about 10HP.
   - guru - Friday, 12/11/09 00:09:22 EST

and thanx for the inputs. (i'm actually Canadian, living in Mx in the winters to escape the -40 cold spells of my home town). I would like to make stainless steel "balustrades" for the rich owners/houses on the coast. They want the beauty of pockmarked wrought iron of yesteryears... with the carefree of modern steels. I already have a few little contracts... if i can find a way to give 5/8 SS bars the heated&hammered look! I got more info from the shop... and it seems to be a 200# machine.. with a tall cylinder on top. I'm quite handy in many ways... so i'm sure that i can get it back in tip-top shape!! (I do have 180 amps 3 phase in my slowly evolving shop.) Getting a few "gentiles" have been considered... but there's a whole other set of "problems" that comes with that approach. I'd prefer the ONE BIG hammer route. Would a 200 # drop hammer enable me to give SS the hand hammered look????? How different is it to work with a drop hammer versus a mechanical or utility hammer. Is it to slow (up and down time to cycle) to work "somewhat" efficiently??? This site is great... thanx Guru... people like you make passions happen!!!!
   Pierre - Friday, 12/11/09 08:02:38 EST

Jock, there's your new by-line.... especially for the naysayers that pop their head in for the occasional flaming.

"The Guru's Den at Anvilfire.com... we make passions happen"
   - Nippulini - Friday, 12/11/09 08:17:11 EST

Hi Folks,

While we are on the topic of power hammers, I wonder if anyone knows where to get information on Bradley Cushioned hammers. I picked one up at an auction last week, and am looking for any and all info to get her installed and working. I'm not even sure what size it is, as I can't find any ID plates of stampings. I do know it originally came out of a shop in Buchanan, Michigan, where it was used to make jack handles for Studebaker cars.
My wife is getting me the "Pounding Out the Profits" book for Christmas (I should tell her that), but any other sources would be greatly appreciated! Thanks,

   Dave F. - Friday, 12/11/09 08:34:49 EST

Pierre, A 200 pound hammer is on the large size for detail work but perfect for making custom railing cross sections with texture. A 200 pound hammer is usually controllable enough to do quite small work but if you let it get away from you that long tapered point for a scroll can become a big flat paper thin arrow in one overzealous blow.

A 200 pound hammer is also a bit dangerous for using hand held tooling for detail work. Many of these industrial machines were meant to be operated by a "driver" and have a a smith with or without helpers to maneuver work and hold tools. So, the machine may define what jobs can be done with power.

While bigger is better, one size does not always fit all. Smaller (90 to 150 pound) modern hammers designed for one man operation and artistic work can be used for almost everything you use a hand hammer for at the anvil other than engraving. Repousse', chasing, forging all types of scroll ends, rivet heads and so on can be done on these hammers with great efficiency. And that is the key. In Mexico and Central America you will be competing with the local labor pool. To do so you have to produce much more, even if it is unique.

Gas forges are worse. You need one sized for almost every class of work to get good fuel efficiency.

   - guru - Friday, 12/11/09 11:34:00 EST

Dave, Bradleys all have a machined flat somewhere toward the back on the frame with stamped serial numbers. A coat of paint easily hides them. Look for a machined flat in an odd place, then scrape off the paint.

Bruce Wallace has the parts distributorship for Bradley but all parts are made to order by the outfit that owns the Bradley name and drawings. All, except snubbers which Bruce was having made at one time. I'm not sure if his rubber molding contact is still in business.

Pounding out the profits has some info to help.
   - guru - Friday, 12/11/09 13:06:25 EST

Drop hammers have a much more restricted set of use cases compared to a power hammer; much too slow a cycle time to "hammer". I have seen on used to start roughing out hoes from 2" sq stock where the very heavy ram was used to spread the blade section sideways with 2 hits---one on each size. Then they went to a powerhammer to finish thinning and drawing out the blade.

A cylinder on top sounds more like a powerhammer than a droper!

   Thomas P - Friday, 12/11/09 14:13:16 EST

thank you guys...
Thomas: The cylinder on top just brings the ram up... then it gets released by the operator thru a lever and/or a pedal linkage close to the working surface.
Guru; They want $US1500... which seems like a deal, i dunno yet!! I could devise a way for the piston to elevate the ram not to full height... or even machine a lighter ram (with removable "sections" when i need/want more weight!!?!) Would this machine AND a maybe a KA75, as a team... accomplish what is done by a bigger "regular" hammer. Or should i try to get the fly press..... There's tons of opportunities here for "work-well-done". The rich Mexicans and internationals JetSetters are fed-up with hiring people who do half-ass jobs. They are willing to pay for good and "special. work.... And, in this case... i seek a way to work somewhat alone !
   Pierre - Friday, 12/11/09 15:20:44 EST

Guru, Thanks very much for the information! I'll contact Mr. Wallace and go from there. Glad to know there are parts available if (when) needed. Thanks again.

   Dave F - Friday, 12/11/09 16:00:02 EST

Pierre, Since the 1800's most steam/air hammers have been double acting (the air pushing down as well as up).

$1500 is not bad if the hammer is in good condition and is double acting. In the U.S. they have been giving these machines away as scrap.

The control mechanism on these hammers should have a lever with a ratchet type locking mechanism. This adjusts the stroke height. Then there is a throttle valve that lets you run fast and slow.

If all the ram does is fall due to gravity, then it is a very primitive machine. Most of these cycle up and down as do mechanical and self contained hammers.
   - guru - Friday, 12/11/09 17:49:21 EST

Pierre, as the Guru notes drop hammers that are cylinder operated are normally double acting. Most of the early ones are designed for steam, and can be converted to air. BUT!!! a steam hammer unconverted will eat air beyond your wildest dreams if the valving is not changed, the rings on the cylinder and the rod packing adapted for air, and lastly the "Tupping" feature removed. A steam hammer tups or reciprocates to keep the steam flowing, the piping, valving etc hot and to prevent the steam condensing and causing an explosion if it is suddenly forced to move by steam.

These are important issue to know. Is the hammer setup for steam? Is it double acting? what sort of die holding is used IE is the sow block intach and are the sowblock and ram dovetails in good shape?
Last, many of these old jewels have been pulled from service due to broken or cracked rams or bolsters. The sow blocks also crack. The Eries I am familiar with also tend to have eaten up slides, and the top plates sometimes crack.
Look all over for cracks, and weld repairs. If you see weld repairs, don't buy unless you can remove the paint and general crud and use a strong light to examine for cracks next to the repair.
Good luck
   ptree - Friday, 12/11/09 18:24:13 EST

NOW.... that's VERY valuable info!! I'll check and double check the machines.... and triple check my interest in these!! The last thing i want to do is buy unproductive trouble.... There is a 60 ton "The Peck" fly press also... i might shift my interest there... although i understand it's another ball game, work wise.
Also.. Can anyone tell me if a KA75 can "pockmark" (make a hand-hammered effect) on 5/8 stainless bar ???
thanx a million fellows....
   Pierre - Friday, 12/11/09 18:53:07 EST

Pierre, The KA is a peculiar beasty. It only moves when you move your foot. You don't press down and get tap, tap, tap. . . you get one blow. To get tap, tap tap you have to dance on the control. . . They are a great "striking" hammer and CAN be used like a regular air hammer but with effort.
   - guru - Friday, 12/11/09 19:52:49 EST

I've seen shops with hundreds of modern air lift/grvity drop hammers like this:
From Ajax who has taken over Chambersburgs line: "The Chambersburg CECO-DROP is an air or steam operated, piston lift, gravity drop hammer. It has earned an enviable reputation for high production rates, economical operation and quality output.

The CECO-DROP is the hammer most preferred by progressive management and is regarded as the standard hammer of the drop forging industry. The CECO-DROP is as rugged as its looks. It embodies concepts in hammer design, which Chambersburg has pioneered over in over seventy-five years of building impact tools for the world"
   - grant - Friday, 12/11/09 21:47:28 EST

Good stuff in Grant's link above, at least for a neophyte like me. Some quick surfing found some charts with ft/lbs of force of various hammers and some parts drawings, etc. I'm going to have to spend some time reading thru all those pdfs. Thanks Grant. I'd imagine you may have some input on the KA75 as well.
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 12/11/09 22:21:40 EST

Grant, The Ajax in the link above the same as the Ajax that makes upsetters? I am under the impression they are a small office with the prints and sell parts made on order from those prints? We had several Ajax upsetters. Good machines but very few spares on the market compared to National.
I do admit my drop hammer experience is strictly limited to Erie's and the oddballs that had been converted to air in the Talucca shop. All big and double acting.
   ptree - Saturday, 12/12/09 08:17:50 EST

Most of the drop forge shops I've been in had row after row of air lift and board lift gravity hammers. Specialty shops seemed to favor the double-acting. I've had both and I really favor the double-acting.

Yeah, I don't think Ajax really builds anything anymore. Same with National, though they were keeping the shop going with rebuilds last I saw. I love Nationals.
   - grant - Saturday, 12/12/09 10:53:45 EST

While I think Grant is one very clever machine designer (he designed the KA) I think you would be a lot better off with one small to medium real power hammer, than with a huge drop hammer and a KA.

I do almost exclusively stainless steel, a lot of ornamental railings and fences, and, in up to about 1 1/4" diameters, a 40kg/ 88lb self contained, or a small utility hammer, or a similar size range (100 lb or so) mechanical will do everything you need, quicker, with more flexibility, a smaller footprint than two hammers, and better resale value.
Me, I am a self contained man, and find the 40kg chinese hammers work pretty well. But there are a lot of choices out there- and now isnt a bad time to be looking for used ones- shops are selling tools cheap.

With a real power hammer, and lots of spring swage tooling (so Grant can make some money after all) you can easily texture square and round bar stainless all day long. And, in 30 seconds or so, unclamp your spring swage, and do end forging, scrolls, tapers, or whatever else is needed on your parts.

Much more control in a standard power hammer, many more things you can do with one. And a small one doesnt need extreme amounts of power, or huge footings- one thing you are overlooking with your dreams of the drop hammer- that thing will want a foundation, a big one, to work properly. Yards and yards of concrete. Plus, of course, a big compressor.
   - Ries - Saturday, 12/12/09 11:25:21 EST

Reis has it I think. The big old drop hammers when run on air tend to use a lot of air.
The foundation requirements are expensive as well.
For a one man shop, doing rails, I would definitly look to a utility hammer. Then it is a choice of self contained air, air, or mechanical.

And since Reis makes almost exactly the products Pierre wants to make, and Reis makes a living doing same, I think his opinion carries great weight.

Grant, 4 years ago, National was still doing rebuilds, they took 2 9" upsetters and made one good one for us. Both had broken frames, but the 9" is a 2 piece frame, so they welded up the better halfs, assembled and line bored the frame back to good. That frame came in on a 250'+ trailer, weighing a little less than 300,000#
I do not believe there is still a foundary on the north American continent that can supply castings large enough.
To my knowledge no NEW upsetters have been sold since the 70's. We also have lots of National vertical forge presses at both the big shops and they were indeed good machines. We also had some Ajax veticals as well and they also performed.
The upsetters are pretty hard to support anymore as the capibility to forge the cranks and then machine them is limited in the US. The roller bearings for the back shafts are usually a 18 month lead time. Femco can do pretty good response, get the big brasses cast and machined, but the spares are dear. You need a large stock of spares, nearly enough to build a second machine. And since the drawings are unique to each machine, you also need those. If you don't have them the run in the $25,000 range for the bigger machines.
   ptree - Saturday, 12/12/09 11:47:14 EST

That's what I liked about running 2-1/2 inch machines on 1-1/2 inch stock. They just never gave any trouble. Went to one auction and 1,000 ton National Maxi-presses were going for hundreds of dollars (scrap), should have been hundreds of thousands. Sad indeed.
   - grant - Saturday, 12/12/09 12:27:50 EST

Ptree, well maybe they could redesign it for a fabricated frame. But, not like someone is gonna order one anyway. Back in the 70's National was building 2-1/2 inch cold forging machines. Solid carbide tooling! Hate to crash that.
   - grant - Saturday, 12/12/09 13:32:44 EST

Grant, Upsetters are an unusual item in the forge industry. They come in and go out of favor about every 10-20 years. In the early days whn metal was high and labor cheap, they were used to "Bump up" the ends of shafts to allow machineing a bigger diameter on a smaller bar saving metal. Then as labor became more expensive, that idea fell into disfavor. Then in the 50-60's they came into favor to make grain controled forgings for highly stressed items.Then they fell out of favor again when friction welding came on. Then back in favor, mostly for axles and the like. The current axle alloys are not that expensive, but automation of the tongs, induction heating etc, allow an automated upsetter the bump up the spline end of a truck axle every 6 seconds, with the operator monitoring, and loading bundles of bar. From there into an automated upsetter that makes a flange end on that axle, every 6 seconds and again the operator monitors.
Machining and friction welding the flanges on could not compete. And the upsetter inside all that automation is 1920 technology.
I doubt that ever making a 9" upsetter frame by fabrication will be reasonable. The sections are far too thick, and the internals are pretty complex.
There will be many frames to work with as the need dwindles. And the eastern Europeans, Korea, and the Chinese can still pour the frames. Pour them and machine them. The Russians copied the Ajax's and made and sold them for a bit.
   ptree - Saturday, 12/12/09 18:03:32 EST

Does any one have any ideas for how to imbed an object directly in metal without any gaps or weak points? For example I want to embed maybe a piece of steel in aluminium by pouring molten aluminium around it in say a square mould, however if I use something to prop up the piece of steel, it will leave a gap or have stress build up on it when subjected to forces.

The only thing I can think of is to use aluminium wire to tie the object in sort of a net which extends into the sides of the mould. However the rapid oxidation of aluminium would prevent any bonding?
   Nabiul Haque - Saturday, 12/12/09 23:33:27 EST

Metal inserts: Nabiul, In the foundry business they use pieces of metal called "chaplets" to support thin sections of mold. When the part is cast the chaplets melt and the metal has done its job. . .

Steel inserts are commonly cast into zinc parts. I suppose it could be done in aluminium but I have never heard of it so there might be a reason it is not done. You would design the part not to be held by metallic bond but mechanically. Taper the sides or have holes drilled through from the sides. IF the part is in the bottom of the mold then it would not float and the Al would flow around it. Note that the part MIGHT need to be preheated to prevent chilling the liquid metal and preventing a tight fit.

The AL would not bond to the steel unless the steel part was properly plated and tinned.

There are other mechanical methods. Press fits. A tight hole where you force the part in (easy with round holes but tough with other shapes). OR a snug hole, the part with chamfered edges and the surrounding metal swagged in over the chamfered edge.

There are a bunch of ways to do this but you have to be more specific about your problem to get a more specific solution.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/12/09 23:47:08 EST

There are lots of ways of casting steel inserts in castings and it is commonly done in aluminum as well as iron castings. I did a pattern just over year ago that had a coreprint that supported a couple of large steel bushings. Last winter I added a coreprint to a follow board that I made for a 5000lb cast iron statue so that a steeel insert could be cast in the bottom of the statue. Often the steel inserts are made part of a core which is then supported by a coreprint. You could also use the insert as a "ram up core" thread a bolt into the insert, set it on the pattern where you want the insert and then ram up the mould around it.

While chaplets are commonly used in casting they often do create a weak spot. Drawings for pressure containing castings such as pumps often have notes restricting the use of chaplets. Grooves or taper machined onto inserts are much bettern than holes because as the casting cools it shrinks around a groove but shrinks away from the walls of a hole.

Helicoils or inserts that are threaded on the outside and inside are often used on aluminum parts (not cast in).

Blacksmith content: the clinker breakers that I have cast for my firepots have a steel rod cast through the middle of them there are grooves ground in the insert before casting.
   - JNewman - Sunday, 12/13/09 08:12:21 EST

Here is a picture of the statue with the steel insert in the bottom of it the man is about 8' tall. There is a 4" steel pin that goes into the bottom of the statue to prevent it from being tipped over. I had to build a follow board for the origional statue and then help the foundry make a mould. There is tons of backdraft on the casting so we had to make the mould in 50 or more pieces. Putting it together after pulling the pattern out was like assembling a fragile 3d puzzle.
   - JNewman - Sunday, 12/13/09 08:23:53 EST

Forgot the link http://www.tworiversartgallery.com/index.php/exhibitions/current/199-balance
   - JNewman - Sunday, 12/13/09 08:24:45 EST

Hey Guru,
I am a Canadian currently living in Nicaragua. I just bought an old anvil...the only mark on it is what appears to say "250", which I am guessing is kilos because it is HEAVY.
It appears to be an industrial size anvil and one of the guys that sold it to me said it used to be used to repair the brakes of the trains back when there was a rail line in this country (early 1900s-late 1900s). So my question is - are you aware of a line of anvils of this size and if so, where it might have been made? It is a standard style with a horn and a Hardy hole but has no Pritchel hole.
   Jamie Lake - Sunday, 12/13/09 09:30:27 EST

Jamie, A lot of these big anvils are just not identifiable. Equipment in Central America has come from all over the world. A friend in Costa Rica bought a large anvil in Nicaragua that was French. I've also seen a lot of German stuff there. . . so it is difficult to tell.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/13/09 10:22:42 EST

Damn, that is an impressive sculpture.

Ok to make things a little clearer, since my 'bullet resistant armor' failed last time, I thought I would directly cast the ceramic tiles in the middle of an aluminium plate. I mean the tiles would be covered 100% on all sides so that they do not have anywhere to go once they shatter. So you see the problem with using chaplets or something to prop up the tiles. The tiles would just fall to the bottom of the mould once the chaplets melted or anything sticking out of the aluminium plate would create weak points for failure during a bullet impact.

I'm not looking for mechanical or chemical bonding of any kind, just to have the tiles encased so that they have a strong backing. Last time the 5.56 cartridge just tore apart the polyester lamination and blew away the polycarbonate backing.

I realize that this would be pretty heavy, but still lighter than a hardened steel plate.
   Nabiul Haque - Sunday, 12/13/09 15:33:36 EST

Santa Guru, last year I asked for a plasma cutter and never got one. This year all I want for the holidays is a nice little 35# or so power hammer. My chimney runs straight down into my workshop, so all you have to do is fly over and drop all the parts down (with assembly instructions).
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 12/13/09 17:25:25 EST

Guru, I am a hobby blacksmith of off and on for ten years. I have been using the same propane gas forge for that same time period with no issues. I have recently moved to a new shop. I am having carbon monoxide issues after forging for an hour. The building is tight. I have installed a hood over the forge 3'x4'with a 8" exhaust pipe that goes straight up through roof with inline electric fan. I have also added outside air vents and I leave overhead door cracked 6". The forge is running a bright blue flame. Any ideas or possible fix its would be appreciated. Thanks
   FDR - Sunday, 12/13/09 17:40:39 EST

FDR, You probably have a combination of three problems.

1) The stack and fan are too small. Large hoods must have ALL the air, hot and cold moved from their opening. That 12 square feet is a lot of opening. A smaller hood that fits the forge could be better.

2) The forge "dragon breath" is blowing past the hood. No matter how good the hood, if you can feel the hot air from beyond the edge of the hood, then you have escaping exhaust.

3) There needs to be fresh make-up air for what you are trying to exhaust. You cannot push air OUT without letting some IN. This greatly reduces you fan's capacity to do its job. You often need an 8" of 10" pipe leading to forge or furnace intakes for the combustion air.

How the forge runs is irrelevant. If it was making nice clean CO2 the problem would still exist. If you replace enough oxygen with CO2 in the intake air then CO output increases. So you could start with a 95/5 ratio and rapidly reach 60/40. SO, for all the air that goes UP the stack you must replace it with fresh air or you will always get CO.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/13/09 17:59:38 EST

Dear Nip, Santa Guru's helpers are enjoying your plasma cutter at the North Pole. I could not get it away from them. I am afraid of what would happen if I let them know there is such thing as a POWER HAMMER. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 12/13/09 18:02:13 EST

Al and steel. All those who have ever had anything to do with Landraover series vehicles will warn you about the horrific problems or corrosion where the two meet. So whatever else you do make sure you keep it dry!
   philip in china - Monday, 12/14/09 00:02:45 EST

I might be imagining things but there seems to be a slightly longer delay between me pressing the treadle and the hammer starting and maybe a tiny loss of power. Having said that it might just be that I am getting more accustomed to the power. What does anybody think?
   philip in china - Monday, 12/14/09 01:56:24 EST

Phillip, Power hammers SEEM to be much faster than they are at first (actually scary) then as you get used to them they become "old hat". Largely is is a matter of impatience. You want the steel to move as fast as possible. With small hammers folks realize that they can move more metal per blow by hand. . . forgetting how many times per minute the hammer hits and the fact it will do it all day and night.

That said, many folks have noted that the Chinese hammers are too tight to start with and tend to run hot. Wear occurs rapidly in too tight machines so that operating characteristics change with the same rapidity. Cylinders breaking in should result in faster blows but valves breaking in mean slower reaction time.

Some change can be lubrication and ambient temperature. Thickening oil can really dog down a machine with large friction surfaces.

But familiarization with the machine, especially when you have not had a power hammer in the shop at all, is probably the change you notice. Just don't get too complacent. It will still bite you if you are not careful.
   - guru - Monday, 12/14/09 08:46:23 EST

Dear TGN due to a transcription mistake you are going to get a bit more than you asked for. A 350# fully assembled powerhammer is scheduled to be dropped on your chimney Christmas eve---I hope it's a LARGE chimney and you have padding underneath it! (and I hope the elves don't figure out what's in *that* box or once again you may be disappointed)

sub guru
   Thomas P - Monday, 12/14/09 11:15:55 EST

Years ago, an Arizona friend bought a Little Giant hammer and it sat outside his shop for eight months. He finally got it set up during the ninth month. When I asked him why it took so long, he said, "I didn't think I could think as fast as it could hammer."
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/14/09 13:35:58 EST

Me again...my anvil, which I have figured out weighs 364lbs - the numbers marked on it "250" represent the Anglo-Saxon method of measurement - the first number being 112lbs (x whatever the first number is - in my case "2" = 224lbs), the second number represents 1/4 of the 112lbs which is 28lbs - in this case we multiply 28lbs x 5 (the second number on the mark), = 140lbs, and the 3rd number represents single pounds which in this case is zero because the third number is "0". So add 224 and 140 and we a have 364lb anvil.

Because the weight calculation is of British origin does that make it a British anvil? It is of the London style with only one horn. I can't tell if it's cast or forged - it rings very well and the hammer bounce test is good too.

One other thing - it has a Hardie hole that is 1 1/2" - pretty large from what I know - do you know a source for tools that will fit this size Hardie?

   Jamie Lake - Monday, 12/14/09 19:25:30 EST

Need some help. Have a little giant hammer and about three years ago at a Bam Conference i bought a set of dies round on one end and flat on the other.Of course top and bottom match. The dies in the machine are the ones that came with the machine which was made in l942. The new dies i bought seem to have a problem. The shim on the bottom die wants to go in extra far and the top die seems to be double beveled and the shim stock from old to new wont work seems to need two shims on top one on both sides. Is this a possibility???If I try to use the original shim the die cocks to a funny angle and doesn't seat correctly..could these dies be for an older style 5o lb hammer.Any Ideas???

   George - Monday, 12/14/09 20:23:48 EST

Jamie, If it is marked in the hundredweight system then it is British. However, the second digit is NEVER more than 3 as it is quarter hundred weights and if 4 then the next number is raised. . . Weigh it.
   - guru - Monday, 12/14/09 20:43:41 EST

LG Die Fite: There were two top die types in LG's. The late one uses a double tapered wedge.

First, get your terms straight. Dies, wedges, dovetails. OEM they had NO shims. Shims are thin flat pieces used to adjust spacing when part do not fit right OR for adjustment by design.

When the wedge goes in too far a shim is needed. This can be under the die or against the far side of the dovetail. But it is better to make a proper sized wedge and not have extra pieces.

The late LG upper die has a dovetail angle on it to fit the back of the ram (side guide type). The front of the die is flat and the wedge makes the dovetail angle and fits the taper.

These are parts that some smiths hand forge by eye and dress with a file and that others measure and carefully machine. They can be hand carved to fit with a file.

I've measured a number of LG dovetails and the angles varied as much as 2.5 degrees from one hammer to another. Thus, it is probably impossible to buy dies that fit many LG's.

To make the parts fit right you start with the back of the dovetail. The angle of the die must match. You start by checking by feel then by bluing. Use whatever tools are available to make the fit.

The front is not quite as critical a fit and the wedge can compensate for mis-matched dovetail angles as well as the wedge taper. The wedge needs to make contact all along the die. It doesn't need to be perfect but it should not be too much or too little taper.
   - guru - Monday, 12/14/09 21:45:59 EST

It looks like someone or some company would buy the rights to the Little Giant and use the original blue prints to start production again. From these posts as well as others, it seems to be a popular hammer.
   Mike T. - Monday, 12/14/09 22:10:12 EST

There are other things that have become obsolete but clamor is being made for their return. I saw on TV where the Army is wanting the return of the howitzer, they believe they could really help them in the field. Think about the B52 bomber, it is the work horse of the airforce and has been flying now for 60 years. I saw the other day where the B52 has been outfitted with new computers and aiming devices. One quote that was made was the fact that the tax payers really got their moneys worth with the B52. My question is this, why the heck don't they just resume production of the B52. The thing never wears out and drops 2000 lb bombs. Have you seen footage of them dropping bombs in Vietnam ? Totally awesome and devastating. I got off subject a little, but the same argument can be made for the Little Giant power hammer.
   Mike T. - Monday, 12/14/09 22:22:50 EST

Little Giants: Mike, Sid Suedemier owns what is left of the LG company including all the patterns, drawings and so on. He rebuilds them and supplies parts. Back in the 70's a 50 pound LG cost over $4,000. . and they didn't sell. Today they would probably have to sell for $16,000 to 20,000 if made in the US. They might be priced for today's market if made in China.

What made little giants popular is they sold a lot of hammers by offering financing at rates that anyone could afford one. They were not an expensive machine, but were very serviceable. They managed to survive the depression. Every farm and small blacksmith shop had one.

What makes them popular today is their numbers. You will see 20 to 50 or so for every Fairbanks or Bradley.
   - guru - Monday, 12/14/09 22:59:00 EST

Bradley Hammers:

Dave F- Send me and email and I will send you a PDF of the Owner's manual for your hammer provided it is either a guided helve/strap hammer or the Upright cushioned hammer. Pounding out the profits has a lot of general, interesting info on Bradleys, but not much on the technical side. I have rebuilt one bradley and have another to work on someday.

By the way, you hammer may not have had the serial number stamped on the frame. On my hammer, that nubers was stamped on a brass tag bolted to the frame. A lot of times these tags get removed over the years. If you send me picutres and general dimensions we should be able to figure out what you have and how to set it up.

Patrick Nowak
   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 12/15/09 08:49:02 EST

One other thing about Bradleys- They are big, but simple. If you need replacement parts it is likely going to be cheaper to fabricate a replacement rather than have a new piece cast. I think most of the old patterns are gone so, even though the drawings do exist, you often have to get a pattern made and then the part. The current owner of the name and drawings of the Bradley hammers is Cortland Machine in Syracuse NY. They DO stock some small parts and can makes some of the special pivot bolts realatively easily. What gets expensive are the castings.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 12/15/09 08:52:05 EST

Obsolete technology: I personally love it, that's why I have 350 eight-track tapes, and yes I listen to every one of them. Is the CIA and FBI onto the 8 track scene? Probably not, no one else in the world is either, so how simple could it be to store top government level information on an 8 track? Very easy. How easy would it be for an intelligence agency to get the information stored on it? Probably impossible, they'd have to go on eBay to find a player. I used to read the Anarchist's Cookbook when I was a kid, and with todays giant leaps in technological advancement a few of the old tech methods could really mess up the world.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 12/15/09 08:52:09 EST

Patrick, you just made my day! Email on the way, but pictures will have to wait until tonight. I suspected as much regarding the serial number, 'cause I looked pretty carefully and couldn't find one stamped into the frame. Thanks so much for your help!
   Dave F - Tuesday, 12/15/09 09:02:16 EST

Nip, When I was recording Native American music in the 1950's, I would carry around an old reel-to-reel recorder like a small suitcase. I still have some of the large diameter tapes that I made.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/15/09 10:54:35 EST


Some radio stations still use cart machines for public service announcements and advertisements. The carts are 8 track tapes. These station will pick up old 8tracks at garage sales and flea markets and erase them and record on them. The cart machines are still out there. I am sure the Gov has a pile of them confiscated from pirate radio stations.
   - Branden - Tuesday, 12/15/09 11:46:36 EST

Jamie, as they said it that's a 5 it's not CWT and so not English.

I have 3 anvils with 1.5" hardies and here is what I do:

1: I found some top swages where the eye section was just over 1.5" sq. So I forged them to work in my anvil as bottom swages. If I ever need to I can heat them back up and drift out the closed up handle eye. (my flypress was great for getting nice flat parallel sides!)

2: I took some square tubing that fits nicely in the hardy hole and cut it about an inch down on the diagonals and bent the tabs out sideways so they rest on the anvil face when I drop the tube into the hardy hole. I repeated this again to get down to a common size but the second tube I didn't make tabs on, just fitted it in the first tube snugly. Another advantage is that swages now rest on the tabs and so don't erode the hardy area.

3: I slowly scrounge items to weld up into large hardy hole tools.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/15/09 11:59:21 EST

Mr. Turley,
If you still have the Native American music, put it on DVD's and I will purchase them from you. I bet with a special web-site, you could sell bunches of them.
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 12/15/09 17:33:29 EST

"Who is a source for 1.5" hardie hole tools????

Jamie Lake.... you are!. If you are a blacksmith.
   - Dave Hammer - Tuesday, 12/15/09 17:34:45 EST

oops, meant CD's, sorry, I am techno illiterate. :)
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 12/15/09 17:35:12 EST

A few random thoughts:
Jamie I think your anvil might be marked according to the simplified HTU system. The 2 would be hundreds, the 5 would be 102 and the 0 would be units. That would give you a weight of 250 pounds. Does that sound about right? Never used in UK as it made things too easy for non blacksmiths to understand

Jock, on the Anyang I am sure the hammer is fine. Maybe Anyang could be persuaded to make LG clones

Obsolete technology- I love it too. I never did see any reason to junk something just because there is something newer. If it still does its job- let it! B52s do what they do very very well.Trouble is that dumping high explosive on an area doesn't win a war. How many tons did Kissinger drop in order to win his Nobel peace prize?- but you still lost. Bombed up with smart munitions they are very useful. The point is that there are so many other ways of delivering smart munitions and a missile launched from a submarine a long way away can be better.

I should be going away soon for a prolonged xmas break so you will all have to manage without my postings for a couple of weeks.
   philip in china - Tuesday, 12/15/09 20:26:22 EST

mike it happens to all of us (even the young uns') i still can barley figure out how to use facebook....
   bigfoot - Tuesday, 12/15/09 20:26:51 EST

Large hardy holes- My very first anvil back when I was 17 was a 125# Peter Wright with for some reason a 1.25" hardy hole. Back then the only place I could find to buy tools was Centaur Forge, and the 1.25" stuff was expensive and limited. Then one day like a comet in a bad sci-fi movie a thought struck me- "I know, I'll MAKE tools!" It was great, all the crummy tools a young self taught smith could want. Years later when I'd upgraded myself to a 400# anvil with an honest 1.25" hardy hole, I pulled the milk crate of odd tools out of the corner of the shop to see if there was anything useful. My first reaction was "Yuck, what a pile of junk." Then I took a closer look and realized that each piece told a story. That one was where I figured out upsetting. That one taught me that my stick welding left something to be desired. Look, I didn't know the 3:1 rule when I made that one. And that hot cut isn't so bad. Like Dave H. said...
   Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 12/15/09 20:50:10 EST

Phillip's 102 should be 10s. A simple typo, but it had me scratching my head for far too long. Of course, 250 could be 250 KGs as well. but that would be a *very* big anvil.

If I made a war move, it would start with the refuelling scene from Dr. Strangelove. Then the camera would pull back, and you'd see it was someone watching Dr. Strangelove on a laptop. Then it would pull back further, and you'd see that the laptop was in the cockpit of a B-52 that was being refueled by a KC-135.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 12/15/09 20:58:53 EST

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