anvils  anvil making  anvil repair  air hammer  artist blacksmiths  ABANA  alloy  bellows  blower  blacksmith  blacksmiths  blacksmithing  blacksmithing books  blacksmithing links  blacksmithing machinery  blacksmithing tools  blacksmiths's forge  blacksmith's tongs  blacksmith's guru  blade smithing   do-it-yourself   coal  coke  charcoal  charcoal forge  forge  forging  forge plans  forge welding  fabricator  gas forge  great bellows  grinders  grinding  propane forge  iron  ironwork  ironworks  junk yard hammer  JYH  knives  knife making  hammer  hammer-in  heat treating  hardy   iron   power hammer   pritchel  oil forge   quench tank  quench  smith  smithy  steel   steam hammer  slack tub  tempering  trip hammer  tongs  tools  machinery plans  metal  metalwork   weld   welding   arc  welding   wrought iron   blacksmith forum   blacksmiths FAQs - Self portrait (c) 1989 Jock Dempsey WELCOME to the Guru's Den!

Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question. 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 October 1 - 15, 1998 on the Guru's Den

The Guru has three helpers that have been given a distinct colored "voice".
  • Grant Sarver of Off Center Products (purple).

  • "grandpa" Daryl Meier a Damascus steel legend (green).

  • Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson, official demostrator at Bethbara Historical Park, Winston-Salem, NC (OD green).

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    After posting and returning, the page will automaticly reload and display your entry. If not then, click on LastPost after the file reloads. Your question will be answered as soon as possible.

    Your input, answers and comments on questions to the Guru are welcome.

    -- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
    Jock,Jim,Grant,et-al. Grandpa will be out of town till the 8th of Oct. But he will read all the questions and comments when he gets back.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 09/30/98 19:14:50 GMT


    Have a safe trip!

    Seems a good time for me to mention that I'll be at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, TN from Oct 6th through the 11th. No computer access up there, so like grandpa, I'll catch up when I get back. But I'll be around until the morning of the 6th, anyway.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 10/01/98 00:32:30 GMT

    I have a tool with a special, and odd, shape. The handles cross, although I don't know if that is supposed to be, and the jaws each have a single right angle tooth but they don't meet. Also, the ends of the handles are tapered, and again I don't know if that is for a special purpose. They are obviously hand forged. Any clues? Thanks.

    K. Carpenter -- labrat at Thursday, 10/01/98 01:33:30 GMT

    Hi,venerate grand-master.I am a metallurgy student at college and i want to do special project on DAMAS foged steel but i can't find anything serious about the subject. Did you know wHere i can find interesting information?,thank you brother!

    Sam the troll -- at Thursday, 10/01/98 01:56:32 GMT

    Hi, I am an 18 year old, in collage, that has been fooling around with blacksmithing for about a year. My question is about punching holes. I have trouble with the metal sliding around, and not getting the hole through the metal. I recently purchesed a small forge with a handcrank, and about 150 pounds of very good quality charcoal.

    Nico Eadie -- eadienic at Thursday, 10/01/98 02:08:27 GMT

    hello all at guru, man am i glad i found you. ok right to the point . i have no real experince in metal smithing but have allways had a strong interest in forgeing swords and other arcaic weapons and armor from medevil time periods. now i have enough room at home and want to build an 18 th or 17th century forge. i would like to know if you could e-mail me some info. on the construction of one or both of these and maybe some ideals for geting started. anything you can help me with would be greatly appreciated. also any other site links that you would recomend . thanks,scott

    scott -- celrbalda at Thursday, 10/01/98 02:14:42 GMT

    Brian, got pics processed but not on page. Here are the URLS for everyone to look at Brians MW-JYH! Looks like a great machine. Would like to know how it performs when you install the dies!

    View 1
    Detail 1
    Detail 2

    Yes I been busy. I'm "on the road" and the PC I am using has limited capabilities. I will have details about Brian's JYH on the Power hammer Page ASAP.

    Hey Bub! Jim's suggestions sound pretty good!

    K. Carpenter, I need a better word picture to visualize your odd tool.

    Sam the Troll - Do you mean Damascus? There are currently tons of good sources if that's what you are looking for. Order books on the subject by Jim Hsrisouls from Centaur Forge. While you are at it order a catalog there are MORE books but Jim's are VERY clearly written. If you need sample materials and specific metalurgical information "grandpa" Daryl Meier is the best and most knowledgable person around. He answers questions here but as noted above he's going to be out of town for a week or so.

    Punching holes. Sounds like a slipery anvil too me! This is rare but occasionaly anvils get polished too smooth! I've never had the problem but I HAVE heard the complaint from some very experianced smiths. REALLY - Holding the work requires experiance. Most smiths will work on a long piece of stock and hold it between their legs while punching or chisling and then cut the part off when it no longer needs a handle. You can also use a "hold fast", "hold down" or "clamp dog". Its just a piece of L shaped steel 5/8 or 3/4" square and about 6 x 6" long. The corner is bent a little more than 90 degrees. Drop it through the hardy hole on top of your work and give it a tap on the corner. Will clamp like a vise! Just tap from the back side and it will pop out. These are also a common wood working tool and are made out of materal as big as 1-1/4" square for use on a weld platten!

    Scott - Primitive forge. See previous posts on getting started (archived first half of this month) and the (now dated) article on the 21st Century Page (I'm working on a new FAQ to replace it).

    I'd recomend starting with a brake drum forge and get some experiance before going whole hog into archaic arts. I also answered nearly the identical question (swords and armor) earlier this month. There are some links to several sites that specialize in this type of thing on the links page. Also see my article "Blacksmith of 1776" for a discription of a primitive forge. More. . .

    -- guru Thursday, 10/01/98 03:17:07 GMT

    SWORD SMITHING, KNIFE MAKING and ARMOR making are the highest of the blacksmith's arts. All require a full knowledge of the basics plus tool making and the requisit metalurgical skills.

    If you start with a book on making fancy laminated "Damascus" steel swords before you learn the simpler tasks you are bound to fail. Look at the two general blacksmithing books on my book review page, order one (or both), then study them! When you can do ALL the exercises in these books then you are ready to go on to more dificult subjects.

    Many smiths never learn to make a proper forge weld, but making laminated steel blades requires dozens of perfect forge welds. Creating you own special laminate requires considerable metalurgical AND engineering knowledge. Making armor requires many metalworking skills. Much of it is (heavy) sheet metal work requiring specialized tools and skills. But it also requires design skills as well as some blacksmithing and leather work. Have you ever designed and made a piece of clothing? A shirt, a vest. . .? Armor is METAL clothing and much more difficult. See our NEWS articles, Volume 3, Camp Fenby for info on some of the medevilist sword and armor folks or contact Bruce Blackistone at his e-mail address several posts up. Bruce is into the Viking thing and is very knowledgable about resources in this area.

    There is nothing wrong with learning the primitive methods, but if you are looking for results you should apply every method available to you. Folks get some romantic ideas about primitive methods (bellows, charcoal, wrought iron. . .) and forget how labor intensive these methods are. They also forget that anyone practicing at a high skill level in the past had apprentices, jouneymen, indentured servants, slaves or often their children to pull the bellows, weild a sledge, turn the grinder, chisle and file simple shapes performing the tasks we ask machines to do today.

    You want primitive? Throw away all your good tool steel tools (especially saws, files and high speed steel drill bits) and replace them yourself with soft wrought iron and bits of steel you produce yourself by the blister steel method! If you are going to be "authentic" then REALLY do it! The romance will never be the same.

    -- guru Thursday, 10/01/98 04:07:52 GMT

    OK - Now I've posted Brian Rogenholt's MW-JYH photos on What's New to make them easier to access. Will provide details this weekend.

    I sound a little pessimistic in the post above but I get that way (especially late at night). I LOVE blacksmithing and the "classical" methods often ARE the best, but limiting your tools is a self inflicted handicap. Blacksmiths were always the tool makers and inovators. Just this week I helped my daughter make a CAD drawing that she used at school as a pattern to cut parts with a laser. As the price of this technology comes down lasers will be a common tool in every artist/craftspersons toolkit. If you want to remain competive you'll need one too.

    -- guru Thursday, 10/01/98 11:41:40 GMT

    Access #10,311

    -- guru Thursday, 10/01/98 11:42:38 GMT

    There were some errors in the URLs for Brian's pictures but I've corrected them in Whats New. Sorry 'bout that.

    -- guru Thursday, 10/01/98 11:57:48 GMT

    Whoever was looking for custom stamps (i.e., touchmarks)you can get anything your mind can imagine from M.A. Taylor, Spring Grove, RD1 Wakefield,Nelson, New Zealand. He makes all of the touchmarks for those of us building flintlocks and his work is beyond compare. Affordable, too!

    Eric -- theland1 at Thursday, 10/01/98 14:18:02 GMT

    Got a couple of questions for the experts out there.
    In a patternwelded blade can I use simple mild steel for the low carbon part? Is mild steel the same as 1018/1020?
    Also I'm doing some SCA armor in 16ga. stainless does it work harden? If so how does it anneal? Thanks and thanks so much Neal for the forum it's been to hot in my little tin smithy(here in Texas) to forge this summer but I've been readin',makin'notes and waitn' for fall!!

    Ron Hardy -- rhemail at Thursday, 10/01/98 18:04:21 GMT

    Guru, thanks for posting the pics! After FINALLY reading the guidelines, I'll tell you about myself. I'm 35 and have only been smithing about 8 years. A few projects: a lot of tables, a music stand ,fences,a few swords, trailers, and the dreaded plant hangers that people can't seem to get enough of. (they sell,what the heck) BUT, I've always wanted to laminate steel for my blades (the reason for the MWJYH). THANK GOD YOU'RE HERE! Without your counsel, I'd have been relegated to an expensive premade model or doing without. I'm honored that you are so interested in my,and the other, JYH's. Keep up the GREAT job! it can't be easy. Eternally grateful, Brian Rognholt Odin Forge. cooling off in Rochester.

    Brian Rognholt -- brognholt at Thursday, 10/01/98 19:16:18 GMT

    Ron - Wrong page! I can't believe that after all the work I did making the

    different from other pages and doing all the custom programing to make if work smoothly that you would mistake this for someone elses page!

    Now after ALL that, I'll still answer your questions!

    Mild steel is fine for the low carbon part. Yes, mild steel as it is commonly called is the same as SAE 1018/1020. Wrought iron is good IF it is high quality. The steel used for transformer plates and solenoid cores is VERY low or NO carbon also.

    Stainless work hardens worse than most other materials (steel, copper, bronze). If you are working with 300 series SS then heat to 1850-2050 and hold for 3 to 5 min per 1/10 inch thickness and air cool. So for 16ga you would heat it and let it cool.

    -- guru Friday, 10/02/98 02:34:07 GMT

    Just for info for those of you looking at air tools, Chicago Pneumatic only produces the Rivet set tools and the 1/2 and 3/4 inch impacts in this country now. All the other tools are either Swedish or Japanese imports with CP labels. For those who don't know it CP is now a division of Atlas Copco which is a Swedish company. I used to drive for a company that did their powder coating and my FD chief used to work in the plant in Utica NY till they closed up and moved south. As for oiling the tools I use Marvel Mystery oil, it is what you buy from sears for air tools. Sears and others used to buy the tools and oil from CP and the oil was actually MMO in the proper can. I still have about ten cases left here.

    Steve Williams -- sunset at Friday, 10/02/98 05:42:38 GMT

    touchmarks. Met a fellow at a chandelier class a few weeks ago, he makes them and his samples were fine. He is D mayeron, 510-8411800, Berkely, cal.

    D schiff -- dschiff at Friday, 10/02/98 06:30:34 GMT

    Where did the slack tub get it's name? Is it used for more than quenching. Should I use something other than just water in my tub?

    Thanks for the help.

    Bob Conner -- bob.conner at Friday, 10/02/98 11:25:53 GMT


    Over in the Junkyard in February you ball-parked a comparison between a mechanical hammer, such as a Little Giant, and a sledge hammer, of about 10 times the throw weight. So (ball-parking), due to the velocity that a hammer man can add, a good man with an eight or twelve pound sledge would be equivalent to a 25 or 50# Little Giant, or similar hammer.

    So, at $5.25 (?) minimum wage, figuring 4 hours a weekend, maybe 40 weekends a year, I would drop, perhaps, $840 in the year. Now, these mechanical hammers were popular just because you could't get good, full time help, and if you have a full time production shop, $11,000+ a year, plus paperwork, is a big incentive for a power hammer, which also doesn't gripe or call in sick. I would think a part-time or amateur smith would do well to drop $25 for a weekend, when needed, for someone who can swing a hammer, steady up projects, fetch and carry.

    So: Is a human equivalent to up to about 100# of mechanical hammer?
    What are the drawbacks of paid help for occaisional work (NOT an apprentice)

    Primative methods: I have a lot of respect for our ancestors. They did a lot of wonderful work with very little resources, and we're hard pressed to duplicate it. If you want an appreciation of their life, and an understanding of their methods, go for it. When you spend five days rowing and sailing 60 miles, you understand just how wide their world was. But the critical difference is time. The Vikings didn't have to be at work Monday morning. I have just finished an Anglo-Saxon helm with over 50 rivets in it. I've used a bow drill and a simple bit in demonstrations, but 50 holes through several layers of metal is a job for Black and Decker and modern alloy twist bits. Plus my retainer will have a helm to wear at Hastings next week. I advocate having it both ways: Learn the old techniques and understand them, use them for demonstrations and research, but, once you get the feel for it, don't be afraid to use modern tools and techniques as reasonable. In most cases, a hole is a hole, and your friends and family will see a lot more of you; but a bow drill really impresses the crowd, and they'll understand why you had to be rich to afford lots of armor and equipment.

    Slack tub: Lots of definitions under slack (Still water) and slake (diminish, ease, mitigate) in the dictionary. Since, at least with coal forges, the tub provides the main source of water to control the fire, plain water is what you want. More exotic mixtures (oil, brine, soapy super-quenches) go into other containers. Not a good idea to sprinkle oil on the fire (ghastly grin);->

    The work of the Republic awaits!

    Sunny and cool on the banks of the Potomac.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Friday, 10/02/98 15:53:33 GMT

    I am a mid-thirties grizzled, yet bright-eyed guy who just discovered metalworking. I got an anvil for little money, but it doesn't ring. Can I fix it? help if you can.

    Steve Koppenhaver -- skoppenh at Friday, 10/02/98 17:28:52 GMT


    re: primitive methods and modern methods.

    I couldn't agree more! I have learned some of the primitive, and will learn more. When I demonstrate, I use them. In the shop, I use whatever will get the job done quickest. If that means grabbing the mig gun rather than forge welding, guess which one I use.


    Depends on the anvil. I'm not evading your question, some anvils DON'T ring. Some (ships anvils) were deliberatly manufactured NOT to ring. What is the brand name on your anvil? Is it new or used?

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 10/03/98 00:11:30 GMT

    SLACK TUB: From the word slake as in to slake one's thirst or make cool. - Pure (ha ha) water is best. Special quenchants such as brine should be kept in seperate containers. Water from your slack-tub may get used to quench a burn or put out a fire. I've had my head in mine once (hot pepper juice in my eyes, dirty slack tub water seemed like good option at the time)!

    Man-Machine comparison. The hammer comparison was a force per/blow comparison. The (small) machine will hit from 150 to 300 blows per minute, cleanly and accurately. A man in VERY good condition might do 30 strokes a minute in a short burst. The man might hit harder but not nearly so often or as accurately. For heavy striking TEAMS of men were used. not just a single man. To get that 150 to 300 blows per minute you would need 5 to 10 men. NOW do the math.

    The result of the machine striking more rapidly is MUCH higher production rates. Accuracy also means quality. The machine doesn't get tired and not do as good of work in the afternoon as it was doing in the morning. A small power hammer should make your time more valuable so that you are producing $50 to $100 dollars an hour.

    You can also walk out to your shop on a wim in the middle of the night and your mechanical helper will be there when YOU want, 24hrs. a day!

    Cost of laborer for a few hours? Bruce, You work for the Federal Government. I'm sure you know how much it costs to LEGALLY hire that worker. If you meet all the regs, that worker for half a day a week will cost YOU more time doing paper work than HE works! If your hourly rate (value) is $25/hr then add that to his $5 and you've got $30/hr (or more). Then using YOUR 4hr/40 week schedule the help would cost $4,800/year. For that you can buy one of the new small (40-75#) air hammers or a good 100# mechanical.

    It would be tough for 5 men to out produce one with a 100# power hammer. (So we are back to a 25# LG being approximately equal to one man)

    I AGREE with you (Atli) completely about knowing and understanding the primitive methods. I demonstrated blacksmithing for YEARS using a great bellows and hand crank drill press. But much too often the newbies of our craft get tunnel-vision about some warped "purist" or pseudo traditional romanticized fantasy method of working. They get focused on finding an antique hand crank blower or wrought iron holly grail and waste a huge amount of time that could be spent actually LEARNING something or doing something constructive.

    Anvil's ring. Most that do not are junk cast iron anvils. This does not mean yours is junk but there are a LOT of them out there. Please read all the anvil information in the 21st Century section of anvilfire. Rebound and resiliancy (pretty much the same thing in steel) are more important than ring. Ring is just ONE test of the quality of an anvil. I have NEVER seen a bad anvil that rang. Any anvil that has a clear ring is most assuradly a GOOD anvil. Those that do not need further investigation.

    Testing an anvil's ring is an OLD tradition from when all anvils had a forge welded steel face. A bad weld kills the ring or sounds hollow when the face is struck.

    Cast iron anvils cannot be fixed, they can only be melted down for some other (hopefully useful) purpose.

    -- guru Saturday, 10/03/98 02:46:45 GMT

    Have a question on a two burner N.C. LP forge now that the weather is getting right for forging (damn it's about time.) I'm getting flames "boiling" out the front on the first orifice. Both flames appear normal where they emerge from the two holes at the top with blue cones and the "roar" also sounds normal. I can sometimes get it to stop by shutting it down and immediately restarting it. Is it lean or could there maybe be a tiny bit of trash in the oriface? I've looked but don't see anything obvious. Thanks bruce

    bruce lowery -- brucelowery at Saturday, 10/03/98 03:15:37 GMT

    FLAMES AT ORIFICE: This should not happen and can cause burnout of the burner. For some reason the fuel/air mix is not moving fast enough to prevent flashback in the burner. This can be caused by both too much OR too little gas but is generally caused by too little in atomospheric forges. It could also be a balance problem (one burner running stronger than the other).

    If the forge hasn't been in use for a while it may be bugs! We have a problem in Virginia with mud-daubers and other type of wasps building their nests in small holes including air and gas hoses and fittings, carburettor vents and anything else that holds still for a week! Look for dirt in the fittings, in the burner pipes (may need to poke something in from the forge end due to the bent) anywhere that was open. Sometimes they far enough up inside things that you have to disassemble them to get the spiders (wasp food), larva and mud out.

    Rust can also be a problem in any steel gas lines that may not have been capped. I've also seen regulators fail due to a little piece of teflon tape getting in and mud-daubers make a MESS of regulators.

    On those adjustments, make ONE at a time. Test the forge then return the adjustment to where it was if there is no improvement before trying something else!

    -- guru Saturday, 10/03/98 13:17:24 GMT

    Dust can sometimes settle in an orifice and a GENTLE tap in tne orifice area will dislodge the particles.Clean the orifice with a smooth wire or just the tip of a torch cleaner not the rough part.
    I just aquired some regulator coil springs of various sizes and have been straightening them with a vise and a torch.Kinda tough with the bigger ones[read;I'm just lazy and want to find an easier way].Is there a tool a guy could build to speed things up?
    Woke up to 19cm of snow[8"]more coming down.Who IS this EL NINA anyway??

    dimag -- dimag at Saturday, 10/03/98 15:28:52 GMT

    Diamag, Heat the whole thing in the forge, drop on a mandrel (round pin) clamped in a vise and PULL (right angle to axis to unwind)! If you have a lot of them to do (and they are big) you might want to pull with the cable winch from your pickup truck. Wire drawing tongs have a ring and chain attached to the reins so they grip tighter the more they are pulled.

    OBTW, you didn't say HOW big (or how tight) the springs were. Now you are going to tell me they are off some of your industrial gas line stuff and weigh 100 pounds each!

    Hey, we are into the 5th month of a real drought here but it has just started to cool off (from 90's) in Central Virginia, USA.

    -- guru Saturday, 10/03/98 17:23:05 GMT

    Jock;The biggest is 3\8,I have about two dozen.Most are fairly tight,not touching but tight.Some are marked "cadmium".What is cadmium and can it be safely forged?
    We also had a drought,no snow last winter and no rain this summer.You know that 19cm of snow this morning?Now its 25cm, do you want some of this stuff?

    dimag -- dimag at Saturday, 10/03/98 20:51:28 GMT

    Mr. Wilson, I dug around a bit and I can tell you that as of late July, M.A. Taylor (Maurice) was in the States at the following address: c/o Mr. R Tolles, 154 Southside Ave., Bridgewater, NJ 08807. If he is back in New Zealand or at a different US address, at least this may help you track him down. He bounces back and forth depending upon the re-enactment season, I believe. At least, thats where I always seem to dind him. He has a broadsheet with copies of at 200 stamps he has previously done, but he usually works from customer provided sketches, photos etc. Hope this helps! I just received three I ordered at the Gunmakers Fair in July and I couldn't be happier.

    Eric -- theland1 at Saturday, 10/03/98 23:13:15 GMT


    Many thanks for the info! I'll see if I can track him down.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 10/04/98 01:29:09 GMT

    Dimag, Cadnium fumes are highly toxic! I never heard of it being used as an alloying ingrediant so the cadnium must be plating. Galvanizing used to be a mixture of lead, cadnium and sometimes other metals. Many welders died or became extreamely ill from breathing cadnium fumes. Now ALL galvanizing done in the US is plain zinc and sometimes anodized zinc.

    -- guru Sunday, 10/04/98 02:30:12 GMT

    Thanks Jock.I think I'll give everyone's lungs a break and use the cad.springs for something else.Also,thank you for this website.I learn something new every time I check in here.

    dimag -- dimag at yt.sympatico .ca Sunday, 10/04/98 15:26:53 GMT

    OBTW how did you know I had a winch on my truck?Or even a truck for that matter?Does the Guru have out of body experiences or is it true the web is surfing back??I have a big UGLY truck with a p.t.o. winch.When I nose out into traffic there always is room for me[that UGLY].

    dimag -- dimag at Sunday, 10/04/98 17:30:23 GMT


    See you in a week or so. Don't burn yourselves! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 10/04/98 17:48:56 GMT

    . . .Swami Guru knows all and sees all. . . :)

    Just an educated guess. You CAN'T live up in the sticks where you are with all that snow and ice without a HD-4WD 3/4ton+ TRUCK!!! (with a winch).

    Man! That PTO winch would probably straighten those springs without heating them! Might pull your vise and workbench through a concrete wall too!

    I understand UGLY truck. About 10 years ago I had a 1950 3/4ton Chevy TRUCK. Rear bumper was a RUSTY piece of 8" I-beam. I was NEVER tailgated! Great truck. Would haul a full load of granite stone but 45MPH was top speed and 11 MPG was IT loaded or unloaded. The HD 3/4 ton Dodge that replaced it got the same gas milage but would pass going uphill fully loaded and pulling a trailer!

    -- guru Sunday, 10/04/98 17:50:47 GMT

    I have about 15 years in blacksmithing mostly hand equipment not much power hammer experience at all . I have now purchased a 50Lb. littel Giant Power hammer and havve it instaled with a clutch breke installed. I would like to learn the best way to utilise this hammer in my business. What is the source for information on the correct and efficent power hammer techniques.

    Thanks Pat Cheatham

    Pat Cheatham -- cforge at Sunday, 10/04/98 18:45:08 GMT

    POWER HAMMER USAGE: Pat, most of the references on power hammer usage are old industrial manuals or reprints or the same. Many of the techniques for heavy forging apply to small machines but others do not. The anvilfire Power hammer Page will eventually cover small hammer technique in detail but at this point has few details. Centaur Forge carries a reprint of Lillico's Blacksmith's Manual Illustrated that includes a LOT of power hammer tooling and technique (#BK56 - $29.95). The Forging Industry Association publishes a small book on machine forging but it is very general and does not address small work.

    "correct and efficient" is open to a lot of intrepertation. For starters Little Giant greatly over rated their machine's capacity. Standard industrial capacity rules state 50 pounds of ram weight per square inch of cross section of steel. For wrought iron the cross section would be a little more, for tool steel less. In any case this means your hammer is good for 1 inch square bar maximum with any efficiency. However, a 100 pound machine handles 1 inch square twice as fast and in today's market the bigger machine (used) generally cost the same as a smaller machine do the the demand for smaller machines. A 50 pound LG is best used on 3/4 or 1/2" bar.

    For efficiency the type of dies you use can be very important. However this is determined a lot by the type of work you do. In general combination dies (half flat, half arced) are the best for general work. Drawing is done under the curved portion and flatening and tool work is done on the flat. If a lot of hand held (or clamped down) die work is going to be done then plain flat dies are best. Unless you are mass producing a specific object you do not need special replacement dies.

    Currently, radical fullering dies are the rage as they really chew up a bar of steel. The artist smiths like them because they are fast and good for a modeled look. However they DO chew up a bar and are hard to recover to a smooth surface.

    Practically any technique that you perform on the anvil by hand or with a striker can be done under a power hammer. You need to make some special tools to go with your power hammer. These want to be short for safety and stability and most prefer a slightly flexable handle to prevent injury due to a missed blow.

    Hammer tools can be made of tool OR mild steel. Even cut off tools can be made of mild steel. I recomend mild steel tooling when you are starting out because it works well and is less likely to damage your machine's dies. After you gain some experiance designing and making tools for your power hammer then you may wish to make them from tool steel.

    Currently my friend Josh Greenwwod uses multiple hammers on single pieces. He will do heavy drawing on a mechanical hammer and then switch to an air hammer for detail and finishing work often on the same heat. I have previously posted articles showing him working in the anvilfire news and will be posting some more later today.

    The best thing to do is attend some ABANA or Chapter workshops where power hammers will be in use and see how others are making use of them.

    -- guru Sunday, 10/04/98 21:19:38 GMT

    Dear Sirs:
    We are an Egyptian contracting company; we are going to erect a new small factory for producing FORGED IRON products such as Fences, Handrails, Furniture and Decorative Pieces. (You can consider us beginners in this field).
    So we are asking for an offer to supply us with MACHINES & TOOLS that we'll need. And what we need exactly are the machines doing the special pieces like "the basket", "the leaves" and other shapes which are used in decorating other forged iron.
    So if you are concerned in this field, please send us your offer.
    Thanks for your attention
    Our address is:
    Egypt -Cairo -Heliopolis
    3 Abn Manzour st. Roxy
    Eng.Wafaa M. Mokhtar
    Email: eactrk at
    Tel: 202-012-2127531
    Fax: 202-5825130

    Eng. Wafaa Moh. Mokhtar -- eactrk at Monday, 10/05/98 06:02:30 GMT

    I am looking for AISI classification ratings of lawn mower blades, roller bearing races, chain saw bar, coil springs, and leaf springs. I work with a Sergeant who makes knives as a hobby. He does not have internet access. He would like to know this information in order to chose metals to work with. I don't know much about knives, but I have seen some of his work and his knives are beautiful! Could you please point me in the direction I need to go in order to get him this information. Any help will be appreciated. He has given me the name Damascus as a reference. Thank You!

    Mary DeCosta -- doubletrouble at Monday, 10/05/98 22:40:11 GMT

    i am begining to get into knife smithing and i was wondering what is the most efficent way to harden steel without exceding my small budget?

    Jacob Muldowney -- frodo at Monday, 10/05/98 22:50:19 GMT

    Info on repairing a Hay Budden anvin

    steve -- sing at Monday, 10/05/98 23:44:08 GMT

    I have no experience at all. I am looking for a supplier for matel candle cups and the dish shaped disks for under them. I will be needing them in large qty.(1000 or more. I have no idea where to look. I would like any help you can give me. Thanks, Tim

    Tim -- slatesigns at Tuesday, 10/06/98 01:42:18 GMT

    i am very new to this.but i want to learn.
    and now i want to make some candelholders.
    any idea how i can make the plates for the candels?
    thanks a lot

    stefan eugster -- eugster at Tuesday, 10/06/98 02:01:12 GMT

    AISI (American Iron and Steel Institute) covers structural shapes and relagates the metalurgy to ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials). However ASTM specs are most often performance specifications (minimum strength. . .) and don't say much about specific aloying and such. ASTM specs can be found in University or Engineering school libraries OR you can purchase them from ASTM (I DON'T recomend it). ASM (American Society for Metals International) publishes a variety of books on metals. Their ASM Metals Reference is invaluable to me. They also publish the standard references on heat treating and every other subject related to metals. There is a link to their web page on our links page and they will take your credit card for purchases.

    The BEST source for the type of thing your friend is looking for is MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK. They have a list of applications of SAE steels and also heat treatment data for most common alloys. The problem with using scrap items is that different manufacturers use different alloys and there is no standard "lawn mower blade steel". In this case you have to learn how to identify the various steels yourself.

    IDENTIFYING STEELS: Identifying scrap is tricky. The first and easiest test is the spark test. Grind a sample in dim light and observe the spark patterns. Differences in carbon content are easy to determine by the spark test and some people learn to identify some alloying ingrediants. The next thing to do is harden and temper a sample and see how it reacts. Oil and air quench steels often crack or shatter if water quenched and water quench steels don't harden very well in oil. Stainless and high alloy steels can be identified by their color if you have looked at enough samples.

    That's a start.

    -- guru Tuesday, 10/06/98 02:20:12 GMT

    TO HARDEN STEEL: First you kill a chicken. . . NO, NO wrong recipe! TO HARDEN STEEL: Heat to above the transformation point (when the steel becomes non-magnetic, about 1700-1800 degrees F) and quench in oil or water. The quench medium is dependant on the type of steel (see post above). Heat can be provided by a wood stove, propane or oxy-actylene torch, coal or gas forge or an electric furnace.

    EASY, tempering is the tricky part. I suggest you invest in as many books on blacksmithing, metals, metalurgy and heat treatment as your budget allows. Start with Jack Andrews NEW Edge of the Anvil. Centaur Forge carries it and some very good books on blade smithing and many other metals related subjects. Knowledge is your most important tool.

    -- guru Tuesday, 10/06/98 02:31:50 GMT

    CANDLE CUPS AND PLATES: I made my own but it can be a pain.

    For cups used 1/2" conduit (thin wall electrical tubing) for cups. A simple die was used to support the short pieces and a ball pien hammer was used to flare the opening (one blow from another hammer).

    For pans I set up a 20ton hydraulic press with a dieset for punching 3" rounds in 16ga steel. The blanks were hammered to a slight dish shape in a depression in the end of an oak log (used the same ball pien hammer).

    Then the two pieces were brazed together and cleaned with a weak acid. I also made them of brass and silver soldered them together.

    The big expense is the dieset. I bought the dies and and made the holder (dieset) with a cutting torch and a drill press. However, like a lot of jobs a skilled craftsman can do a LOT with a little if need be. Today you can go to anyone that does laser cutting and get blanks cut for less than you can setup and make them yourself. With the laser you can also have flowery patterns cut out. You have to provide the CAD (computer aided drawing) file of the shape in DXF (AutoCAD drawing interchange format) format.

    I'd offer to quote on your needs but currently have other obligations that keep me busy 18hrs/7days a week. . .

    THEN, You CAN order the candle holder pieces in rather flimsey 20/22ga material from a number of sources. I believe Jere Kirkpatrick of Valley Forge and Welding carries a line of candle holder hardware. I've got his catalog at home but don't have the address with me. He does have a website (I think). Jere visits here occasionaly. . . maybe someone else will post his address or URL.

    -- guru Tuesday, 10/06/98 03:16:46 GMT

    REPAIR a HAY-BUDDEN: I generaly do not reccomend repairing anvils although some of my friends do it. Its my opinion that a lot of people want to make cosmetic repairs on anvils for other people that don't know any better. Its like what my Dad calls a "cream puff" job on an automobile. A little bondo and some shiney paint and it looks good but the inside is a mess. A few divits and chipped edges are expected in an old anvil. Weld repairs often make the problem worse.

    Unless the anvil is SCRAP, DO NOT attempt to repair it. Good anvils are made of high carbon tool steel or have tool steel faces. They are NOT just a lump of iron. Preheat is required (but too much and the anvil IS scrap) and special manganese alloy welding rods are required. If the damage is slight the best repair if you MUST is to grind out the problem area or blend it in.

    Hay-Budden's came in two styles. Wrought with a tool steel face and later wrought bases with a tool steel upper half. On the older anvils the horn is wrought iron and weld repair is simple with any plain rod. On the later anvils the horn is tool steel and must be treated accordingly.

    -- guru Tuesday, 10/06/98 03:33:54 GMT

    Valley Forge & Welding
    280 Franklin Ave.
    Willits Calif.
    1 800 367 5373
    Hey the snow is melting[slowly]

    dimag -- dimag at Tuesday, 10/06/98 03:42:24 GMT

    To all looking for an excellent air hammer. I had a chance to run Josh Greenwood's Nazel 3B last week and I can say with confidence it's turly a great hammer. The hammer has great control and is tuned perfectly for heavy to light detail work. Josh has his hammer listed for sale on this page for half the amount it's worth. It's time for anyone sitting on the fence who needs an air hammer to take advantage of this opportunity and BUY IT.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Walmetalwk at Tuesday, 10/06/98 04:06:52 GMT

    Greetings and Salutations! (remember me Grant?)

    I was wondering where you had gotten to. Best of luck with the site, it looks great so far!

    My question regards a pineapple twist I saw Grant discussing with someone on-line. I e-mailed, but I'm not sure if it got out. It was some time ago, and I found the email in a file today, and it might only have been sent today. If so, sorry for the confusion. Otherwise, can you tell me where I might see an example of the finished pineapple twist? Does it actually LOOK like a pineaple? Thanks, and we'll see you soon. BTW I have been volunteering at a museum as a smith for slightly more than a year. I am under the guidance of a 10-year veteran smith, but we aren't familiar with the "pineapple thing". I operate by the business name IRON THISTLE FORGE. I have recently been producing trivets gridirons and grills for general sale. I'm still looking for my own "trademark item" though. I'm 40ish years old.
    My grandfather was s smith, trained in Scotland, moved to Toronto, Canada (where I am) and worked for the Canadian National Railway.

    May Santa Fe Smile on your anvil! (ask Grant)


    Bill -- bwaddell at Tuesday, 10/06/98 13:18:57 GMT

    Hi again,
    Sorry for the additional message, I wanted to ask something else. Foxfire 5 lists ironmaking, smithing and gunmaking, as well as charcoal making. You might like to look this book up if you get a moment. In the smithing section, a smith refers to making something called a "devil be gone" Do any of you know what this is?

    Tanks, Tanks a lot.

    bill -- bwaddell at Tuesday, 10/06/98 13:31:39 GMT

    As a project I'm re-creating an 1850;s blacksmith shop. All the information I've found thus far on the net is 20th century stuff. Can you help me out with sites or info. on 19th century blacksmiths? Thank you so much.

    amy moylan -- jkmoylan at Tuesday, 10/06/98 13:47:13 GMT

    Most springs that I have been able to get specs on is 5160. I would assume most of the rest are real close.
    Roller bearing races are real vicious to work with on the anvil and heat treating is a guess as they seem to be layered. I used to have access to some large ones (up to 10 inches across by up to 1-1/2 wide). Every time I work one into something I always swear to God that it will be the last time, but I seem to never learn

    Mark Kisner -- mekisner at Tuesday, 10/06/98 17:29:22 GMT


    I am getting very interested in learning how to make swords and Knives as a part time hobby, but I would imagine that trying to find a place to buy the tools to do this would be rather difficult. If you know of anywhere where I could start looking would you please let me know,



    Chris Marinin -- cmarinin at Tuesday, 10/06/98 17:38:53 GMT

    I have stamped some letters in mild steel with 1/4" steel letter stamps. I would like to fill-in (in-lay) these letters with some type of silver or nickel to make them stand out against the steel. Can you tell me what type of material to use to fill-in with and the process of getting the material to flow into the letter indentions? What type of flux do I use? I am a beginning blacksmith. Thanks.

    Greg Allen -- gka at Tuesday, 10/06/98 18:18:07 GMT

    experience level: begineer Knowledge in metal working:minor
    access to tools:plenty, have almost all tools required.
    Question: I am a begineer who wants o learn blacksmithing, and would also like to learn to do mold work. I have heard that you can use sandmolds to make knife blades. how would I find information on this process and can I make my own molds, and if so how do I make molds

    tony hall -- animlnatur at Tuesday, 10/06/98 21:17:43 GMT

    1850's BLACKSMITHING: Amy, it depends on the type of shop. In 1839 James Nasmyth invented the steam hammer and by the 1850's huge (many ton hammers) were in use in commercial shops the world over. Steam powered lathes and other machine tools were quickly becoming common in small shops. Commercial shops were using cast iron blowers or "blowing engines" and down draft forges (forges without a hood or chiminey using instead a pipe connected to the lip of the forge where all the smoke was sucked out by huge blowers.

    On the other end of the spectrum would be the pioneer or farm blacksmith shop where the double chambered bellows would still be in use but hand crank blowers we starting to be manufactured. The anvil of the 1850's was very much the same as today's with mostly slight differneces in style. You would also find a large number of colonial pattern anvils. Leg vises, swage blocks, cone mandrels, shears, tire benders would all be the same as today (in all shops) and are much the same as they were in the 1700's.

    Get a copy of Alex Bealers The Art of Blacksmithing. All the methods and techniques and tools he describes suit the period. The only thing different from a modern shop and an 1850's shop is the use of arc welding (invented 1888) electric motors (1880) and gas welding equip.

    For another source of information try Eric Sloane's Americana series - A Museum of Early American Tools, Diary of an Early American Boy, American Barns and covered bridges. . .

    One problem with setting up any "period" blacksmith shop is that any REAL shop would have had tools from previous periods since many of the tools of the craft last hundreds of years. In my shop I have one anvil and two bickerns that date from the 1700's, several vises that date from the 1800's and a drill press or two that date from the turn of the century (a common phrase we will soon need to stop using or qualify).

    -- guru Tuesday, 10/06/98 23:16:00 GMT

    PINEAPPLE TWIST: I think A Blacksmithing Primer Randy McDaniel has the instructions and a photograph. My library is 125 miles away at the moment so I can't post it OR look up the Foxfire article.

    I think the method is TWIST, SQUARE the TWIST, INCISE each face with chisle, UNTWIST. This is one of those things that there are a hundred variations you could try. Make a nice day of research. I'll publish your results and an article if you do the work! :)

    -- guru Tuesday, 10/06/98 23:28:44 GMT

    ROLLER BEARING RACES: Are case hardened. The outside is very high carbon and the inner is a low alloy medium carbon steel. So heat treating provides a variable material. They make poor knives when used alone due to the thin high carbon layer that often gets ground off. However they could be laminated up producing a more uniform "Damascus" type product that would heat treat much better.

    SPRINGS are made of many steels from 40 point carbon up and include stainless alloy (music wire) springs.

    -- guru Tuesday, 10/06/98 23:38:45 GMT

    TOOLS (Chris Marinin): Standard blacksmithing tools are all you need to get started making forged knives. You can get completely equiped through Centaur Forge and have a choice of coal or gas forges in several sizes.

    Then there are the guys that make knives by the stock removal method. Basicaly they cut a blank with a band saw and start grinding. The grinders they use are a type of belt sander with what is called a "contact" wheel. Centaur will sell you one of these too. The band saw will have to come from a machinery dealer. Be sure to get a METAL working band saw. Wood working band saws go way too fast to cut metal. However, you CAN cut wood (for knife handles) on a metal cutting saw. Its a little slow but it beats doing it by hand.

    You will also need a small metal working drill press if you are serious.

    Call Centaur, order #BK872, How to Make Knives (13.95) and a copy of the Centaur Forge catalog. Then come back and ask more questions!

    -- guru Tuesday, 10/06/98 23:55:57 GMT

    MOLDED KNIVES using GREEN SAND MOLDS: Sounds like you've been listening to someone that knows less about metal working than you do and has watched Conan the Barbarian one too many times! It's a GREAT movie and I love the forge scene but ITS MOVIE FICTION BS!

    Even the cheapest low grade knife made where they are desperate for American dollars isn't cast.

    Cast metals are good for many things but not knives. Cast metals have a non-directional loose crystaline structure that makes them brittle (easily broken). Sand castings also tend to get sand IN the metal. These are called inclusions and make a very weak place in the casting.

    Forged (or rolled) materials have a tight directional refined crystal structure. Tool steels CAN be investment cast but the casting AND melting are both high tech processes.

    Order the book listed in the post above PLUS Jack Andrews NEW Edge of the Anvil. This is one of the most complete blacksmithing books available and it includes a lot of basic metal information.

    During the Bronze Age swords and knives were cast in stone molds and then the edges hammered (stone hammer and anvil) to work harden them.

    -- guru Wednesday, 10/07/98 00:13:28 GMT

    INLAYS (Greg Allen): Generaly metal stamps have a 60 degree bevel and produce a poor impression for inlay. Hand engraved work done with a small square end chisle can have silver or gold wire hammered in to the impression. The mercury/silver amalgram that dentists use also works.

    In the type of impressions you have made you will need to silver solder over the entire surface and then file off the part on the non-stamped surface. Your local welding supplier can supply the silver solder and flux OR you can use an old dime for the silver.

    -- guru Wednesday, 10/07/98 00:23:36 GMT

    I forgot to metion that it helps to clean the steel and copper flash it with copper sulfate solution before any type of soldering operation.

    -- guru Wednesday, 10/07/98 00:27:58 GMT

    Dear Guru,

    I need your help in finding out how to apply a hammered finish to cold rolled steel. Further description follows:

    I'm taking a college class where I'm responsible for design and manufacture of a product. I've selected to build a retractable pot hangar out of 2" x 1/4" cold rolled steel. I need help on finishing the metal.

    I'd like to add a hammered finish which causes the metal to appear "distressed". The rack will measure about 20" wide by 30 " long, so manually applying a hammered finish shouldn't be too time consuming.

    Can you provide a process for applying the "hammered finish" or direct me towards a published text that contains the info?

    Appreciate your help on the subject.



    Mike Stevens -- michael.l.stevens at Wednesday, 10/07/98 06:48:38 GMT

    my father recently passed...he obtained a large hammer collection (woodworking, etc) during his 73 years...i'm searching the web for anyone who has knowledge of hammers who could possibly help me determine what i should do with these. the worth, demand, etc.

    cindy divido -- muglynn at Wednesday, 10/07/98 15:07:05 GMT

    Do you have any information on tinning copper cookware? Are there any
    methods that can be done in the studio with a tin stick? Where is the
    nearest company to buy an anvil in Northwest Michigan (Traverse City)?

    Donna -- needle at Wednesday, 10/07/98 21:56:44 GMT

    HAMMERED FINISH: The appearance of a hammered finish varies according to taste and whether it is done hot or cold. Both are a lot of work. The classic "hammered" finish is an artistic affectation as good forged work shows few or no hammer marks. Many smiths attempting to produce "rustic" work hammer it all over, again, a phoney affectation. This is different from being forged all over. On heavy metal the texture is a reproduction of the hammered look partialy sheet metal work. On polished brass, bronze and copper this is a beautiful finish.

    A standard cold hammered finish is produced with a large ball pien hammer (one with a 1" or larger diameter ball). The work is hammered with the ball end of the hammer on an anvil. The pattern produced should be uniform and overlaping (no unhammered surface). Randomness is acceptable but must be uniform randomness. It helps to grind or forge a heavy chamfer on the part first as the piening will produce sharp edges. When you are finished with the flat surface you take a smithing hammer and rechamfer the edges. The slight curve of the hammer's face produces a slightly wavy line that is very attractive if kept uniform.

    A hot hammered finish is produced with a smithing hammer (slightly rounded face). Generally the work is heated to above a red heat and forged to size (or a new size). The resulting finish is slightly wavy with some slight pitting from being heated in the fire. All edges are dressed and chamfered as needed with the hammer further adding to the textural affect.

    Hammered finishes are also produced commercialy with heavy rolling machines and with texturing dies in power hammers.

    Good hammered finishes are time consuming thus expensive. Cheap iron ware is hit every couple inches with the ball pien leaving rounded depressions that LOOK cheap. You are better off to leave the finish plain OR hammer a nice chamfer on the piece.

    You can also buy hammered finish copper or brass plated steel sheet (minimum quantities apply).

    Good luck on your project.

    -- guru Wednesday, 10/07/98 22:04:07 GMT

    TINNING COPPER COOKWARE: There are people that do it, I've tried and failed miserably (one of those jobs I shouldn't have taken on). I was trying to tin a large antique copper kettle and didn't have nearly enough flux or tin (or experiance).

    I've had very good luck tinning copper pipe using a flux that Sears used to sell that had ground tin in the flux. This would flash brightly on the surface just as you hit the right temperature. Then solder could be easily added. Your copper needs to be very clean to start.

    DON'T USE SOLDER ON COOKWARE! Even though the lead has been taken out of plummbing solder the silver in the tin/silver mix is still poisonous. Use pure tin only.

    -- guru Wednesday, 10/07/98 22:18:16 GMT

    Anvils to Michigan: Centaur Forge is located in Burlington Wisconsin (about as close as you are going to get). Bruce Wallace sells new and used anvils and is located in Central, PA (See Peddinghaus ad, or look in our Directory.

    -- guru Wednesday, 10/07/98 22:35:53 GMT

    Would someone please advise me on the heat treating/tempering of S7
    tool steel. Thanks,
    Chris Gavin

    chris gavin -- mandala at Thursday, 10/08/98 00:38:48 GMT

    Heat Treating S7:

    Annealing, Do not normalize, heat to 1500 to 1550 and cool at a rate of 25°F per hour.

    To harden, heat slowly 1700 to 1750°F hold at temperature for 15 to 45 miniutes. Air or oil quench. Temper at 400 to 1150°F. Maximum hardness will be 45-57 Rc. Air hardening produces less distortion and a more crack resistance material.

    - ASM Metals Reference Book, 2nd Ed.

    -- guru Thursday, 10/08/98 02:03:17 GMT

    Please help fill in the blanks. Everything I read about forge welding talks about the flux and different kinds of flux but it doesn't tell me when and how to apply it in the process. Do I heat the metal first then apply it and do I apply it to both surfaces or just one?
    Eternal thanks from a novice.

    Bob Conner -- bob.conner at Thursday, 10/08/98 13:48:07 GMT

    A friend and I are very interested in learning to blacksmith. However we live in Southern New Hampshire and there aren't any blacksmiths around here or any school that have classes. In short what would be the best way to get started without having to buy plane tickets? Is there anything around here that you know of??
    Thanks in advance

    Ryan -- DRDLTopek at Thursday, 10/08/98 16:19:26 GMT

    I know this doesn't have much to do with blacksmithing, but do you know what Galvaneel is? Is it a type of galvanized steel?


    Steve Kline

    Steve Kline -- skline at Thursday, 10/08/98 20:34:27 GMT

    i am looking for bob trout's (from new york) e-mail address. thanks

    bobby hart -- hart-hart at Thursday, 10/08/98 21:37:18 GMT

    FORGE WELDING FLUX: The most common flux is bought at your local grocery store in the soap/detergent department - 20 Mule Team BORAX! You can also buy anhydrous borax from ceramics suppliers. That's borax with the water cooked out of the crystals. However, almost ALL anhydrous substances are hydroscopic (attarct and absorb water from the air) and revert back to their natural state in time. Borax is also used for brazing flux.

    WHEN TO APPLY FLUX: You apply flux when the iron/steel is hot enough for the flux to melt and stick. A red heat but not an orange or yellow heat. That's because you have started oxidizing the outside of the the iron at the higher temperature and that's what you are trying to avoid. Heat the metal, pull it out and wire brush off any new scale and apply the flux.

    HOW TO APPLY FLUX: There are a lot of ways. The classic way is with a "flux spoon". This is a forged spoon with a long handle. The spoon end is normaly about the size of a tea spoon. You can also sprinkle it on with your fingers or dip the work in the container. If you are like most smiths and keep your flux in the original cardboard box this is not a good idea!

    Josh Greenwood dips a small heated tool like a plain bent poker into the flux and then transfers it to the parts in the fire. This has the advantage of pre-melting the flux and reducing the amount needed. You can also add flux as needed without removing the work from the fire.

    Generally if your flux is boiling you have overheated the steel and may need to clean and reflux. Both parts should be fluxed at the same time. If there is a large size difference you should be heating the pieces so that they are ready to weld at the same time and one piece may be ready to flux before the other.

    Many books recomend recipes with sand or metal chips. Avoid these until you know what you are doing and NEVER use recipes with sand that don't specify the mineral the sand is made from.

    -- guru Thursday, 10/08/98 22:58:33 GMT

    NEW HAMPSHIRE: I tried the ABANA site and found nothing specificaly in NH, there may be more if you look closely. Join ABANA or a local chapter. It will help you meet other smiths or find out about local workshops.

    President: Richard Gilbert, 69 S. Main St, Ipswich,MA 01938
    (508) 356-3145
    Editor: Ian Walker, RR 1 Box 1005, Stonington, ME 04681
    (207) 367-5103
    web site:
    NOTE: This is no longer the the site of the New England Blacksmiths but hosts the Conneticut Blacksmiths Guild Page. These pages have the annoying habit of loading NEW browsers and can quickly overload you system, so be forewarned!
    Shelburne Craft School
    PO Box 52
    64 Harbor Rd
    Shelburne, VT 05482
    (802) 985-3648

    In partnership with Trinity College, this school offers a four year bachelor's degree in Art and Craft Entrepreneurship. The school offers basic and intermediate blacksmithing classes.

    Galvaneel - Never heard of it. May be galvanized steel. Sounds like a trade name for a consumer product.

    -- guru Thursday, 10/08/98 23:17:48 GMT

    I have been using a 35# anvil(stamped 1882 with a raised eagle on it and no ring). I have found a local store that sells anvils made in China. The 110# is $175. The body looks cast and the face is about 2" or so of steel. It seems to have a good ring to it. All in all this sounds like a fairly good deal. What should I be watching out for?

    Jim Dickson -- jdickson at Friday, 10/09/98 16:55:37 GMT

    >>You can also buy anhydrous borax from ceramics suppliers.
    Ok. what do the ceramics suppliers call anhydrous borax?
    is there a different name?

    Nicholas Marcelja -- nam at Friday, 10/09/98 17:52:55 GMT

    Jim Dickson: What you should be watching for is a good quality forged or cast steel anvil. It might sound like a good deal but do yourself a favor and don't buy a cast iron anvil made in CHINA. Spend a few more $$'s and find yourself a GOOD ANVIL. Used forged anvils can be found for less then $2.00 per pound. The few $$'s more you'll spend will be well worth it and you won't be sorry.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Walmetalwk at Friday, 10/09/98 20:15:12 GMT

    COKE, I am working a contract at a local Steel Mill, was wondering if the COKE that may or just happen to walk out the gate in my lunch box would be good to usae in the Forge?

    Jeff Spoor -- sktools at Friday, 10/09/98 22:15:45 GMT

    Nicholas: borax is sodium tetraborate.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Friday, 10/09/98 23:12:46 GMT

    Ringing Anvil: A cast anvil that rings is not cast iron but cast steel. It may be OK if it is a good grade of steel, carefully cast and even more carefully heat treated. The Swedish cast steel anvils called for the user to stress relieve the anvil by taping it with a light hammer starting at the center of the face and working outwards in a tight almost overlaping pattern and then repeating the procedure. This was a LOT to expect of the user but also tells you something about the problems of cast steel anvils. I HAVE and have HAD cast steel anvils and have had no complaint, but they WERE very hard, tended to chip and I wore out the 100# in about 3 years of occasional use.

    -- guru Saturday, 10/10/98 00:44:28 GMT

    OBTW - The Eagle with an anchor was the trademark Fisher & Norris the first manufacturer of anvils in the US. Eagle anvils are cast iron with a steel face welded on in the casting process.

    COKE: A few smiths use foundry coke. It needs to be broken in small lumps (.5-1" [12=25mm]) and requires continous air or the fire will go out. It burns VERY hot and can burn out a fire pot if you are not carefull. I've used it and didn't like it.

    Thanks grandpa! That's one chemical name I NEED to learn to remember. Glad to see you are back.

    -- guru Saturday, 10/10/98 00:56:43 GMT

    Dear Sir:
    My Danish grandfather, Mads Hansen, said he learned blacksmithing
    on the island of Fano, Denmark. I would love to know if there is a
    blacksmithing school there and if so, could I visit it? I wish my
    grandfather had told me the name of the person who taught him. Thank
    you in advance.
    Ellen K. Compton

    Ellen K. Compton -- Ellen at Saturday, 10/10/98 08:27:33 GMT

    Hi, I'm doing a report and need to write about the day in the life of a -. I'm going to do a blacksmith. the main project is not that, but I do need at least a paragraph about the day in the life of a blacksmith. Only thing is, it has to be a day in 1640-1730, thank you so much!!!!

    QofF -- QofF at Saturday, 10/10/98 18:32:56 GMT

    QofF, a day in the life.

    Well, howabout - You are an apprentice to a blacksmith. You are 11 years old and only four months into your 7 years of servitude as an apprentice, making you the lowest of the low. Even the Missus' negro house slave gets treated better than you. Your morning starts before the Master's and Journeymen while they are having breakfast. It is cold and you have to clean out the forges, break up and haul in charcoal for the day (about 2 bushells), sweep and pick up the tools and scraps of iron left on the floor from the previous day. Then you start fires in the forges and before it gets warm you leave to get breakfast from the Master's table (if the Journeymen have left any). The Master's wife gives you a lump of hard bread and some hot tea and tells you to make it quick, its going to be a busy day. You drink the tea and eat your bread on the way back to the shop (about half a minute's walk).

    In the shop there is a lot of banter among the Journeymen and the Master is discussing a new job with the senior Journyman. No one pays attention to you as you take your place at the bellows behind the Master's forge. The Journeymen pump their own as they work because there is only one first year apprentice. You start to pump the paired bellows and heat up the forge. As you do little sparks jump from the fire like fleas and ocassionaly land on you. You forget to pay attention to the fire and soon it is roaring. The Master snaps at you for not paying attention and wasting fuel. All banter stops as everyone looks at you. Your Master is a good man and assured your parents you would learn the trade but right now you just feel like an abused slave. So far all you have done is swept and cleaned and most of the time the Master takes over pumping his own bellows and sends you to haul in more charcoal, water for the slack-tub or bars of iron that weight half as much as you do. You wonder if you will ever be allowed to use a tool other than a broom.

    You get more charcoal for the Master's forge, carefully breaking it up in the size lumps he prefers. The charcoal is still in the shape of the branches and logs that were coaled and are often as strong as the original. You use an axe to break up the charcoal. You dislike this more than anything else you do because it gets you covered with fine black dust from head to toe and it itches!

    When you return the Master is heating a two large pieces of wrought iron in his forge and the head Journeyman is doing the same in his. The pieces are as big as your arm and probably weigh 25 pounds each! Both smiths are vigourously pumping their bellows and the Master nods to you to put the charcoal in both forges and then says, "More" as he intently gazes into the fire wathing the heat soak into the iron. More CHARCOAL? You scurry out and break up some more not being so careful this time. You notice the other Journeymen cutting more of that big bar with a handled chisle and a sledge. They cut iron bars like you cut a twig with an axe! The Master is up to something big so you hurry even more! When you get back there more pieces of iron in the forges and the Journeymen have the third forge blazing now and had even gotten their OWN charcoal! The small shop appears to be ablaze from the almost bonfire sized blazes. And THIS just after admonishing you about wasteing fuel!

    The Master nods at you indicating to take over at the bellows. The pieces of iron in his forge are white hot now and little white sparks occasionaly rise from the fire as the iron burns! All the Journeymen quit what they are doing and gather around the Masters anvil as the he and a Journeyman pulls out the white hot metal and stack it on the anvil. Suddenly there is a bam, bam, bam, bam as the the Journeyman hit the huge mass with sledges. Then you see the Master tap the piece with a small hand hammer and the Journeyman each hit the piece exactly where the Master hit within a second of each other! The two lumps are becoming one! You had seen the Master and Journeymen forge weld but nothing like this!

    Now the huge welded lump is returned to the fire and the Master just says, "Hotter", as the Journeymen bring two more white hot lumps to the anvil and this time you SEE the Master strike the blow that directs the powerful strokes. White sparks fill the shop. The sledges are huge! They look to be as big as half an anvil! You wonder how the Journeymen keep from hitting each other when the sledges seem to fall immediately after one and other? Now the second lump is welded and is retruned to the Journeyman forge. You keep pumping the bellows. The pieces are each taken out of the forges and hammered some more. "Scarfing" says one of the Journeymen. While this is going on the other Journeymen have been hammering some smaller pieces and now those are back in the fire too. The Master sends you for more charcoal saying, "Don't stop to break it up." When you come back everyone is in a hurry for more charcoal, "Don't want to lose the heat", they say. You wonder if there could be more heat in the fires of hell than there was in this place!

    Suddenly you are bumped out the way, the pieces are at welding heat. The two hughe pieces are brought out of the forges, stacked on top of each other and bam, bam, bam, bam! And bam,bam, bam, bam again! The white hot lump is starting to dwarf the Masters anvil! As the pounding continues the Master says , "More heat!" Something you've NEVER heard when there was no iron in the fire.

    Now two Journeymen are holding the piece and two more are doing what looks like punching a hole. Then they turn the piece over and do it again. Now they insert two long bars in the holes and lift the piece back into the forge. HANDLES! They had made places for handles! As you pump the bellows the Master dumps whats left of the charcoal ontop of the piece. And says "Pump faster!" You are getting tired, what time is it? Seems like you have been at it ALL day and the Master says "faster".

    The fire is huge now. When the piece is up to welding heat the two Journeymen with the bars lift the piece and instead of putting it on the anvil set it on the floor. Almost before they are out of the way a broom is swept across the white hot surface and another conical piece is set on and hammered from two sides at one time! Whats THAT? You can't believe it. An anvil! They are making an ANVIL!

    The anvil is still white hot when it is put back into the forge and one of the Journeymen dumps a load of charcoal on top while you pump the bellows. They had NEVER done THAT before! You were ALWAYS the one that had to get the charcoal.

    Moments later the anvil is being pulled back out of the fire and the Master motions for you to stop pumping. Another thin piece is brought out of the other forge and layed on the NEW white hot anvil. This time smaller sledges are used and a thing one of the Journeymen call a "flatter" is moved across the surface as one of the men strike it lightly.

    Now the bars called "porters or porter bars" as you learn later are inserted into the anvil and it is lifted back onto the Masters anvil
    and set face down. One Journeyman holds a square punch with a handle as the Master pounds it nearly through the underside of the anvil. Then they step back as the anvil is lifted and set face up on the floor. The punch is lined up with a dark (cool) spot on the face of the anvil and it is driven through. The anvil is below a yellow heat now as the Master and the head Journeyman each hammer on the sides and esges of the anvil cleaning up nicks and dings from the heavy sledges.

    With nothing to do you come over to look and lean on the Master's anvil. Ouch! Steam comes off your arm! Its as hot as if IT had been in the fire! - Now the Journeyman are clearing a path at the back door. The anvil is still a bright orange though the point of the horn and some of the corners appear to be cool.

    On the Master's command two of the Journeymen lift the anvil with the porter bars and head out the door. What are they going to do outside with a hot red hot anvil! Now they shuffle down the creek bank to the grist mill next door and wade into the pond below the great wheel WITH THE ANVIL! Then they sit it on a stone under the water falling off the wheel and great clouds of steam start to rise from the pond and wheel! The Journeymen step back and then with a yell jump into the cold water for an impromptu swim. Its then that you notice that you and the Master and other Journeymen are soaked with sweat. It had started out a cool October morning. Then you realize that the sun is low and it is cooling off. Where had the day gone?

    As you head back to the shop to clean up you find yourself walking with the Master. He volunteers the longest statement you will ever hear from him during the next seven years of your apprenticeship.
    Don't forget the things you have seen this day. You may never see the like again in your lifetime. Paul's time as an apprentice is over (you had always thought he was one of the younger Journeymen) and he wanted an ANVIL! He could have had his whole kit of Journeyman's tools but HE wanted it all in one lump! The Irish Journeyman had worked for a while in a shop back in England where they made anvils and vises and HE said it could be done. Now don't you get any ideas. Thats probably the FIRST anvil made in America and the LAST one I make! Now take the rest of the day and go for a swim if you want.

    The next day was back to business as usual. Except Paul and his NEW anvil were gone, the Journeymen seemed to say at least two words instead of the usual one and the dark blacksmith shop now seemed to sparkle with intresting things. Now you KNOW you will happily be a blacksmith forever.

    Copyright (c) 1998 Jock Dempsey,

    QofF - If you copy this work without a credit and my copyright notice YOU WILL get an F on you project or maybe worse for cheating! Find the book A Diary of an Early American Boy - Noah Blake by Eric Sloane. It will explain the charcoaling process. One of his other books A Museum of Early American Tools will give you an idea of the products produced in the blacksmith shop of the period including some blacksmith tools. If you are REALLY intrested in blacksmithing find a copy of The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer. This focuses on a slightly later period but most of blacksmithing hasn't changed since the beginning of the iron age (about 800-1000BC).

    -- guru Saturday, 10/10/98 23:58:56 GMT

    were can i get blacksmith coal and my anvil resurfaced.

    sac -- grtoehed at Saturday, 10/10/98 23:25:38 GMT

    OBTW - If a day in the life of a Blacksmith could be described in one paragraph then he wasn't alive that day! For another "day in the life" type story see my Blacksmith of 1776 on the 21st Century page.

    BLACKSMITH COAL: Bruce Wallace is currently selling bagged smithing coal and will ship anywhere in the US. (See the Peddinghaus ad for his number or one of his posts above for e-mail).

    ANVIL RESURFACING: Now that's a loaded question! IF it's soft enough to be machined it isn't worth fixing. IF its a good hard anvil the size machine grinder (called a Blanchard) is generaly a $100+/hr kind of thing (several hours including setup). Thats IF you can find a shop with a wheel already setup for hard steel.

    THIS generally leaves you to your own devices. A good HD angle grinder can do the job in skilled hands (all day job if the anvil is severely pitted). A HD belt sander, like a floor sander with a really coarse belt can also do the job. I use one with the metal wet to keep from clogging the belt. This must be done with some common sense and with a good grounded and well insulatd machine. Its also a good thing to swicth to when you are tired of the angle grinder and need something for a flat reference.

    IF WELDING is required then THAT is a whole different matter. I don't recomend cosmetic repairs to anvils due to the high degree of skill required and the possible damage that can result. The only anvils that should be welded on are those that are useless as is. Welding on a "plate" by any method other than forge welding is a worthless endevor.

    Before you start ANY anvil repair you need to know what kind of anvil it is, how it was made and what it was made of. Anvils are a sophisticated tool, not just a big lump of iron. See the anvilfire review of the Richard Postman book Anvils in America. If you intend to repair ANY anvil you should have studied this book first. There is still time to order your Christmas copies.

    -- guru Sunday, 10/11/98 00:36:43 GMT

    So many people want to start making swords, so here is my advice, as someone who has made swords on the smallest of budgets:
    Buy Alex Bealers book first!! It is full of mistakes, but it is one of the best starting places. Second, make a forge (Hibachi and blow dryer, or shop vac and 55gal drum). Then, buy some scrap 1/4" x 1" x 36"+ mild steel, use charcoal if you can't find coal, and yes I mean kingsford, it is lousy fuel, but it gets you started. Now heat and pound and heat and pound. What you will end up with is a curly mess, but it almost kinda looks like a sword, If you ground on it for a week or two.
    Great! That is how it is supposed to look, now take more mild steel and heat and beat, after about three ofthese you start to understand what you are doing, now make a SMALL knife from tool steel.
    3" blade max, this will teach you how tool steel differs from mild steel, now you have a basic knowledge, give yourself a few years and you MIGHT produce a sword that won't shatter the first time you swing it. Another year and you will be able to make swords that are the shape you intended in the first place.


    Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Sunday, 10/11/98 16:55:47 GMT

    Good advice Chris! I've reccomended to several people to try making a mild steel sword first. Its a cheap experiment and if you fail or decide bladesmithing is not your thing you are not out a much except for a little time.

    Making a movie "prop" sword out of aluminium is also good experiance. You can do that with a hack saw, files, sand paper and some buffing. Again, its may SEEM like a lot of work but it is not as much work as grinding, filing and finishing a hardened steel blade! When you are done you will either have a mess or a work of art that you will be proud to hang on your wall.

    I agree, is seems like a LOT of beginers are intrested in what is really an advanved topic. Besides the metalurgy, forging and design skills there is also the question of a handle and guard in non-ferrous or non-metalic materials. Then there is the engraving. . .

    -- guru Sunday, 10/11/98 18:15:24 GMT

    I am a degree student at Loughborough University, England. We have been set a project to manufacture a sheet metal rolling machine (for 1mm steel). It has to be able to roll cylinders and conical shapes. How can each of these be done. Can the machine do both ??

    Thanks. Lee

    Lee Markham -- L.B.Markham-97 at Monday, 10/12/98 09:38:55 GMT

    Lee, Yes both can be done. I won't give you all the answer since this IS a design project and the most important part of a design project is figuring out the geometry. Standard hand and machine rolls do it all the time. Think about it. What is different about a conical surface and a cylindrical one? How would the rollers be aligned?

    Draw the end view of a cone, put one roller inside and figure out where the other rollers need to be. Can you realign one roller and make a cylinder? Remember to keep it simple, YOU are going to have to build it.

    A very wise inventor with many patents (my Father), once told me,
    Coming up with a solution to something that HAS been done or you KNOW can be done is EASY. What's HARD is finding a solution to something you don't know can be done.

    Work on it a while and let me know what you come up with. OBTW- The geometry will not be "pure" nor the cone 100%.

    -- guru Monday, 10/12/98 12:51:00 GMT

    I was doing some antique shopping this weekend and I stumbled across a 4' blacksmith mandrel in the corner of an old barn. It was about 11-12" at the base and it was heavy. They were asking $400.
    If I had the money, is this a good price and how much do these get used? Please advise, Thank you.

    Bob Conner -- bob.conner at Monday, 10/12/98 20:23:37 GMT

    I would like to make automobile paintless dent removal tools out of tool steel the rods are from 1/8 to 1/2 inche,by 6 to 48 inches long. I would like know the best and fastest way to grind these rods to different tip styles, on the larger rods I will have to grind a 1/8
    on each side of the rods to about 18 inches on the lenght, so that the rods can slide under the hood braces to massage the dints.
    What gits of bilts would I need.
    Would a 4x36 belt sander do with a sanding wheel on it, the hobby type with a 1/2 hp.
    where I live in Canada I can only get 36" tools steel,can I weld these rod togeather with one of these small hobby welding kits that you by in hardware stores.
    how do you go about weld the rod togeather.
    I would have to to bend the rods to different shapes, what would be the best methoid to do this.
    It would be nice if I could heet treat the rod with the little tourch
    to make the rods firmer it dosen't have to be exact tempered
    What would be the best way to do this.
    I am asking a lot you.
    Jacxqes Lafontaine

    Jacques Lafontaine -- adatel at Monday, 10/12/98 21:08:14 GMT

    I'm BAAAAAACK!!!!

    And I shoulda kept my mouth shut about burning ourselves before I left! I've got two serious second degrees on the inside of my left little finger! Trying to type is akward as hell.

    Pineapple twist,

    The method is INCISE, TWIST, SQUARE, INCISE, UNTWIST! If you can't find a picture, let me know, I'll take a picture of my sample, and send it to el guru.

    a day in the life;

    Good Stuff, Jock! Put it with the 1776 piece.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 10/12/98 23:22:31 GMT

    CONE MANDREL, VALUE OF (Bob): Not a bad price but not a super deal either. However, it is much less than new. IF you are making a lot of rings they are indespensible. However, most smiths I know that have them will tell you that they can't remember the last time they used theirs. For small rings (up to 3") you can get a small cone that fits in your hardy hole or can be clamped in a vise. Some anvils have nearly circular horns but this is rare. Thus the cone mandrel.

    BODY TOOLS (Jacxqes): First, this sounds like a job for a blacksmith. Heating and forging the shapes you want would be the most efficient way to go. However, to answer your questions:

    I don't think you really need tool steel for these tools. Tool steel when hardened is a lot harder than you need for a back up tool. If you are using them like a snarling iron (taping the bar with a hammer so that the end bounces up and down striking the back side of the metal) then they should be made of spring steel. Spring steel will also harden plenty hard for a backup tool.

    A coarse belt (60 or 80 grit) on the belt sander would cut faster than the wheel or disk and hold up longer (due to the larger area of the belt). You may want to put on a smooth finish with a 180 grit belt.

    No, you can not weld tool steel together by just any method. Especialy in the middle of a long bar (a high stress area). Long tools should be made out of a continous piece. A professional welder may be able to do the job for you.

    The bending of spring and tool steel generally requires heat. A propane torch may work on the small pieces but the bigger pieces will require an oxyactylene torch or a forge (coal, gas, charcoal). Bend at an orange heat.

    Heating with a torch will not make the steel harder unless you are using air quench tool steel (the most expensive type). To harden tool steel you heat it to a red or low orange heat (depending on the type of steel) and the quench in oil or water (again, depending on the type of steel). For most steels the actual point where it is ready to harden is when it becomes non-magnetic. This is more reliable than trying to judge the temperature by color. Afterwards the steel should be tempered. This is the reheating of the steel to somewhere between 400 and 1700 degrees F. The higher the temper temperature the softer (and tougher) the steel. Again, a LOT depends on the type of steel.

    A blacksmith would make the tools you want from SAE 4140 or old coil spring steel and oil quench then temper slightly (just enough to remove stresses and toughen the steel). The tool steel you are looking at is probably W-1 or O-1 (Water hardening, Oil hardening) and is really too much for the type of tool you are making. Mild steel (plain hot or cold drawn rod) would probably work. It can be heated and water quenched for a little extra hardness and springyness. It also costs about 1/10 of tool steel.

    Jim, glad to see you survived albiet a little singed! :) Yep, I thought I'd clean up "A day in the Life" and put it with my other hysterical fiction. . . Some days my imagination kicks in gear and it just flows. . . Yep, I always forget the first incise.

    -- guru Tuesday, 10/13/98 01:29:03 GMT

    Mr. Meier,
    My name is Robert Keehn, and I have VERY impressed with your work. I was wondering how it was you first began working with damascus? I am not a blacksmith, but I have been reading books about it and am trying to figure out how to get started. Also, I was wondering if there was anyone in the Southern Illinois area that you might know of who would consider taking on an apprentice, or if there is some way to look into it. I would appreciate ANY info you could give me.
    Robert Keehn

    Robert Keehn -- rjkeehn at Tuesday, 10/13/98 02:55:34 GMT

    Guru, is it possible to sucessfully forge titanium? There are some Russian prybars in the US Cavalry catalogue that are begging to be turned to something else. cold in Rochester. The hammer is working fine BTW. (:-)

    BRIAN ROGNHOLT -- BROGNHOLT at AOL.COM Tuesday, 10/13/98 08:31:24 GMT

    Guru, is it possible to sucessfully forge titanium? There are some Russian prybars in the US Cavalry catalogue that are begging to be turned to something else. cold in Rochester. The hammer is working fine BTW. (:-)

    BRIAN ROGNHOLT -- BROGNHOLT at AOL.COM Tuesday, 10/13/98 08:31:41 GMT

    Robert: I have been interested in muzzleloading guns all my life ( bought the first one when I was 12 years old). Helped to start a local club in the 60's, and began to blacksmith items to go along with this hobby. In 1973 I watched Ivan Bailey demonstrate the basics of patternwelded steel at Lumkin, Georgia. Because of my previous interest in old guns, I already had some familiarity with Damascus steel. ( Ivan Bailey learned about making Damascus at a Blacksmithing school in Aachen,Germany under Fritz Ulrich) This very thin thread connects me to the 2000 year old tradition of patternwelding of steel. Your best bet to get started in blacksmithing is to check the ABANA website, and contact your local chapter. I don't know of any apprenice opportunities in S.Ill., but the art dept of SIUC offers blacksmithing classes. Best luck.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 10/13/98 14:03:46 GMT

    Mr. Meier,
    I appreciate the information you gave me in your last post, but one thing left me curious. You mentioned a Mr. Ivan Bailey from Lumkin, GA. I am currently going to school in North Georgia, and wondered if Mr. Bailey was located anywhere near Dahlonega? I was just curious. Also, Are the blacksmithing courses at SIU open to people not majoring in Arts and design? Again, Thank you for the information you have been able to provide!
    Robert Keehn

    Robert Keehn -- rjkeehn at Tuesday, 10/13/98 22:15:51 GMT

    Robert: Ivan Bailey is located is Atlanta (last that I knew). The classes at SIUC are restricted to university students but not to art or design majors. The John C. Campbell Folk School near Murphy N.C. offers about 50 blacksmith workshops every year.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 10/13/98 22:32:49 GMT



    JOE -- THEGINT Tuesday, 10/13/98 23:22:23 GMT

    HAMMER BITS (JOE): Now THAT'S a question for Mr. Grant Sarver since that's a big chunk of his business, but I'll tell you what I know.

    First, you need a good HD power hammer - A 2 or 3B Nazel or a big Chambersburg. It's done on 100 pound Little Giants but will wear one out in a hurry. I recomend a 250 pound or up hammer. (See the Power hammer Page for a Nazel 3B that's avail).

    You need a taper die. Most folks use a bottom only. 22 degrees is what I think Grant says to use. It can be a clamp on or a permanent die. To avoid re-heattreating the whole thing you want to heat just the point or as much as needs forging. The famous 10 minute (gas) forge was setup for the forging of bits (see 21st Century Page).
    Then heat and forge, working each axis a little at a time. If the bit is chipped or cracked you will want to forge it so that part is beyound the point. This gets nipped off in a nipping die which can be part of you hammer die or a seperate machine.

    THEN, while the bit is still hot you want to grind the steeper point that is about 3/8" (10mm) long. Then oil quench and the bit should be good enough (if you've moved quickly). Its possible to 70 bits per hour (you do the math).

    Its good money if you have a continous supply of bits and heavy equipment. It IS hard on the equipment. The taper die being used on tool steel puts a lot of side load on the hammer guides and anvil blocks (wearing out light hammers) and will loosen wedges, dies, sow blocks.

    The grinder needed should also be a HD industrial model (12" dia x 3" wide wheels). A bacic rule of grinding (using vitrified wheels) is to NEVER grind anything that is close to or greater than the mass of the grinding wheel.

    If sharpening "pavement cutters" the best method is to use a wide nipper in a hammer (with stops) or a punch press. Heat, nip and quench, you're done.

    You also need a heavy duty PU or ton truck and a fork lift to handle the barrels full of bits!

    -- guru Wednesday, 10/14/98 00:02:20 GMT

    TITANIUM: It can be forged but there are a bunch of alloys. Some are forgeable in regular forges and others need temperature control and inert atomospheres. The alpha alloys are the most common and I have seen some warnings about health hazards of beta alloys.

    If the prybar was heated, bent and forged originally I'm sure you can do the same. Considering the state of the Russian economy they are probably a great deal for the raw materials! You might want to check with your non-ferrous metals supplier first though.

    The intresting thing about titanium is that it produces the most brilliant temper colors! The first time I saw it was on a forge hood that Steve Kayne had made from scrap titanium aircraft material. Then I heard about a NASA guy using it for an artistic media. I also have a Star Trek emblem/pin made of titanium with temper colors.

    The biggest problem with forging non-ferrous materials using a common forge is judging the temperature. Non-ferrous materials flourese differently and generally do not need a heat high enough that you can easily judge. Brass and bronze just show a flush of white haze on the surface when they are ready. A few degrees hotter and they fall apart when struck or melt in the forge!

    -- guru Wednesday, 10/14/98 00:39:02 GMT

    Not a metalworking question, rather an equipment one. I just bought an old Champion Blower. It looks like it says model #3, but the number is unclear. Patent date of 1903. I took it all apart, cleaned, bead blasted and reassembled. The uppermost shaft (where the handle is) rides on caged ball bearings. The intermediate shaft rides in a brass bushing, and the lower output shaft is on loose ball bearings. The bearing caps all had a very heavy grease almost like cosmoline in them when I disassembled it, There is a brass oil filler on top above the intermediate shaft. I packed the bearings with grease, and put some gear oil in the case, but it promptly ran out around the output shaft, as there is no seal there. Should there be a seal there, what type, Is gear oil proper lube for this. Any reference available on this to your knowledge? Thanks in advance for any input you might have.

    Glenn Smith -- gsmithehs at Wednesday, 10/14/98 03:40:30 GMT

    Glen: I use SAE 30w oil in all brands of blower. Gear lube it to heavy, using gear lube the blower will not free wheel and maybe to hard to turn. There are no seals in your blower, your oil leak maybe due to over filling. You don't want to fill the gear case to the top. Use only enough oil to particular submerge the lower gears. Your blower has a "fling or drip" oil systems. These type oiling systems have no enclosed or pressurized crank cases. One thing you don't have to worry about, if the oil is leaking, you don't have the blower under oiled. Oil is the life blood of your equipment. It's better to over oil then not to oil at all with most older equipment. Fill it until it leaks out and that should be good enough. Make sure to check levels on regular intervales and re-fill as needed

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Walmetalwk at Wednesday, 10/14/98 16:59:23 GMT

    BLOWER (Glenn): Bruce pretty much covered it. I used to reccomend SAE 90 but it is too thick in the winter and stinks! The leaking problem is typical of these blowers and they are always covered with oil if they have been maintained. Bill Pieh says that the only blower that didn't leak like a sieve was the Cannedy-Otto. They built blowers like industrial machinery.

    Blowers, power hammers, all machine tools - if they aren't covered with oil you are abusing the machine!

    -- guru Thursday, 10/15/98 00:11:04 GMT

    what are the ways to measure the temp of a propane forge?

    Nicholas Marcelja -- nam at Thursday, 10/15/98 23:25:27 GMT

    SOFT ANVIL (Steve): NO. An unhardened anvil is an unfinished anvil. If it is a new anvil it is not forged. At this time the only manufacturer making forged anvils is Peddinghaus and they thouroughly heat treat their anvils.

    Work hardening requires deformation of the material. It would take more than a little hammering to work harden the surface of an anvil and then this would only be as deep as the deformation (1/16 - 1/8" max).

    Anvils with steel faces have the entire face hardened (1/2" to 5/8" deep). On late Hay-Buddens the top half of the anvil was forged tool steel and most of it was hardened. Peddinghaus anvils are made the same way and have the hardest face I've tested.

    Someone recently asked about a Chinese cast iron anvil that rang nicely. I found three the other day that looked like the anvil discribed. The 100# (approx) was completely dead, the 75# rang but had no rebound. The last was a little 5# bench anvil. I performed the steel ball hardness test on them and they all tested at 15 to 20%. Good anvils test at 75% and up. Will post photos ASAP.

    -- guru Friday, 10/16/98 00:29:04 GMT

    TEMP MEASURMENT: There are two ways, a pyrometer or cones.

    A pyrometer is easiest and more expensive than cones. Use a chromel/alumel high temperature type. Or an optical pyrometer. The standard bimetal type can be read with a millivolt meter and the voltage converted to temperature. Chromalox has catalogs with technical info if you need it.

    OR you can get "cones" from a ceramics supply. Cones are made of a mixture of clay and minerals that melt at various temperatures. In ceramics you may use several cones. Often a "hi-cone" is used to determine if the kiln has overheated. A low cone tells the operator that the correct temperature has almost been reached. When the middle cone starts to slump you turn off the heat. Cones used to about one inch long and triangular coming to a point. Bases were made of raw clay to support the cone at a slight angle.

    For continous temperature control a pyrometer is the only way to go.

    If you have old pyrometer with broken leads, the junction can be twisted and simply tig welded. Be sure to disconnect from the meter first!

    -- guru Friday, 10/16/98 01:39:53 GMT

    SWORDS and KNIVES: Jeff, there is a BIG difference between making swords and knives even though part for part they can be near identical. Knives can be made completely by the "stock removal" method. This is a sawing and grinding operation and is very common. It requires a band saw for making blanks and a belt grinder for the rest of the shaping. Special knife making grinders are made by a number of makers and are available from Centaur Forge among other places. It also helps to have silver soldering equipment for the guard and a small drill press for riviting. Even fancy "Damascus" knives are made this way. The laminated blanks can be purchased from a number of sources including "grandpa" Daryl Meier.

    Knives are also be made by forging and then grinding and finishing. You don't do nearly as much grinding but you should have the same belt grinder. Swords are almost always made by forging though I suppose you could make one by stock removal.

    Normally both methods require you to heat treat the blade when done (harden and temper). For knives this in not too big of a problem but it requires so pretty intresting equipment for swords.

    Some makers send all their stuff out to commercial heat treaters but these are like all services, there are good ones and so-so ones and they all cost a lot.

    Both methods also require buffing equipment. Several motors or bench grinders setup with different size and types of wheels. Buffing is a whole branch of metal working in itself.

    I recommend you get a book or two on knife making and study them. Centaur forge has several on basic stuff and more on the advanced stuff. If you are going to forge knives or swords you also need to study up on blacksmithing and Centaur can fix you up with books, materials and equipment. Once you know how to make a knife you will also need to know a bunch about metalurgy (alloys, heat treating). There are also a couple of posts directly above speaking to the topic of getting started in knife/sword making. Technical books on metals include MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK and numerous ASM titles including ASM Metals Reference Book and ASM Heat Treaters Guide. There are links to both these publishers on our links page. To most of us in these technical fields, our reference books are some of our most important AND most used tools!

    -- guru Friday, 10/16/98 03:11:51 GMT

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