Self portrait (c) 1989 Jock Dempsey WELCOME to the Guru's Den!

Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question and he will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from July 15 to 31, 1998 on the Guru's Den

Pub looks like it will be cool, let me know when it is up and running.

Rick -- Rickyc at Thursday, 07/16/98 02:59:31 GMT

Ten minute forge looks cool! That one actually took a little more than ten minutes, but it was a quick and dirty one that performed as required. Thanks for the credits. When I get back from Korea I'll send you one of my new $300 forges to review. Maybe before I go, we'll see.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Thursday, 07/16/98 03:58:17 GMT

Just missed you by minutes in the Slack-Tub Pub! YES, send me the review copy of the FORGE! Hardware test and review! Much better than reviewing books! :o)

It ALWAYS takes longer to do things at Josh's! We probably spent ten minutes looking for an extension cord! But I don't count that time there unless I'm being paid!

Off to Korea again? Try to make use of that laptop this time!

-- guru Thursday, 07/16/98 04:33:36 GMT

Is it possible to make a knife forging anvil from railway track?

Dave Finnie -- finnie at Thursday, 07/16/98 14:17:52 GMT


Is it possible? Yes. Will you be satisfied with the anvil? I doubt it. While RRRail is good steel, there's not enough mass to make a very good anvil.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 07/16/98 14:24:33 GMT

Jim's right Dave. A lot of people use RR rail and it is probably OK for very small work (5/16" - 1/4" (10-7mm)), but on larger stock you work much harder than you should.

If you keep searching and tell EVERYONE you know that you are looking for an anvil one will show up. If you can't wait, I have several options for making an anvil that are better than RR rail on the 21st Century page.

-- guru Thursday, 07/16/98 15:07:51 GMT

Guru and/or Grandpa...I have forge welded some motorcycle chain for a knifeblade. I started with the pins facing vertically. The weld was successful except for one small section on one end. will folding, twisting or surface manipulation improve the pattern? What metals were used in old Indial and Harley chains? Any information on the subjsct would be very helpful....
finally raining on Amelia Island Fla....

Randall Guess -- rguess at Thursday, 07/16/98 17:38:29 GMT

Randall, Grandpa is the one to steer you straight on this one, but YES you can do more to develope the pattern. When making cable or chain Damascus the pattern is created by the weld interfaces where the surface of the metal has changed in carbon content. This creates the high and low carbon areas that etch differently. All the standard methods of pattern development should apply. Twisting and reforging will change the pattern as will twisting two pieces and welding them together. Cutting or grooving and reforging will probably not make as dramatic of changes due to the non-linearness of the interfaces.

Predictability is going to be the problem. All those oddly shaped pieces layered together is mind boggling from the start. Lots of experimentation is the only answer. There may be someone that has already run these experiments.

Roller chain: Machinery's Handbook, 23rd Ed. has an SAE steel chart that says: Chain, transmission 3135,3140 AND Pins 4320, 4815. These are nickle chromium and nickle chromium molyebdenum medium hardenability steels. The roller shells may be case hardened. As always with unknown alloys it is best to test the hardenability AND especially with an experimental laminated steel.

-- guru Thursday, 07/16/98 18:28:50 GMT


Is the "fuller menu" a list of tools? Just thought I'd ask.


Mark C. -- rdcyclist at Thursday, 07/16/98 20:27:27 GMT

Had me going on that one. . . I just write this stuff and only read it when I am doing a serious edit! Yep, we got your 1/2" R fuller and your 1" R fuller. . .

I can't remember who recomended the electrical K.O. punch for Rick's press but a 4" diameter punch is $288! Fellow didn't think they made bigger. I tried Roper-Whitney but they said all their bigger punches are special order. I'm pricing tool steel flats now. I'm sure it will cost as much as the K.O. but there is always the left over material. . . Meanwhile Rick is out playing Golf.

-- guru Thursday, 07/16/98 21:20:13 GMT


What'll ya give me for a 4: K.O. punch? I think I've got one in the truck, and I don't need it any more.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 07/16/98 21:22:11 GMT

Guru....Thanks for the quick response on the question about motorcycle chain....I am new at this (2 years) and learn something new every day and this site is an incredible source of information. I will try to locate a copy of "Machinery's Handbook" that I see you and others go to for info....thanks again .

Randall Guess -- rguess at Thursday, 07/16/98 21:35:03 GMT

I am looking for 1065 or 1075, whre can I find some scrap? (i.e.: what are used for?)

Chris -- kilpe4 at Thursday, 07/16/98 22:50:58 GMT

PLAIN HIGH CARBON STEEL (Chris): It was used for lots of things. The operative word being was. Today most high carbon applications have been taken over by alloy steels that are much more forgivable. Applications included heavy abrasion resistant tools such as pick axes, rock hammers. High hardness tools such as most blacksmiths tools and cold chisles.

  • Agricultural Steel 1070 - 1080

  • Harrow & Plow disks & Shares 1080, 1074

  • Hard drawn spring wire, Cusion Springs 1065

  • This range of steel is considered to have more carbon than is necessary for maximum hardness and is recomended for its abrasion resistance (great knife steel properly tempered).

    As always, much of this is from the SAE materials chart of MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK

    -- guru Friday, 07/17/98 00:55:29 GMT

    RE: Machinery's Handbook
    Randall, try Click on "search". They list an 11th edition for $15.

    John Pepon -- pepon at Friday, 07/17/98 03:26:55 GMT

    I have a pice of aluminum that needs a little hammer forming.
    How do I anneal it, or otherwise prevent stressing and damaging the metal.

    seth -- childers at Friday, 07/17/98 08:46:37 GMT

    ALUMINIUM (seth): Most wrought aluminium is work hardened as delivered and can be annealed. Annealing is performed as on other non-ferrous metals, heat and quench. Nearly pure Al is fairly soft as delivered and can be worked as is (until YOU work harden it).

    Up to a point, soft aluminium forges at room temperature like steel at forging temperature. If you are forging a quantity of aluminium or in closed dies it must be heated in a controlled temperature oven.

    If judging the heat by eye both clean aluminium and bronze flash to a dull flat white at forging temperature. Just a little above this is the melting point just a little below the annealing point. In the dark or very low light both will show a little red.

    NOTE: Some high strength aluminiums almost can't be bent, much less forged in the as-delivered condition. For machined components this is a desirable condition but is not for forging. These aluminiums have a temper number (T-#) in their designation such as 2024-T6. T-6 being pretty high.

    If if have a way to control and measure the exact temperature, I can look specific numbers for you.

    WARNING: Aluminium is a very good conductor of heat. You CAN NOT heat one end of a piece and handle the other bare handed like iron or steel. Always handle with tongs.

    -- guru Friday, 07/17/98 14:24:20 GMT

    Do you or any readers have any experience with the product "alumiloy" ? sp. by Wendon labs for aluminium repair with a propane torch? The stuff seems too good to be true watching their adds plus all repairs are made on materal laid flat.Can it be used vertically? bruce

    bruce lowery -- brucelowery at Friday, 07/17/98 20:26:41 GMT

    Just starting out

    scooter Friday, 07/17/98 20:29:30 GMT

    ALUMILOY? (Bruce): A new one on me. At propane torch temperatures it would have to be a solder for aluminium. Probably mostly tin with a strong flux. I see what I can find. Anyone else?

    -- guru Friday, 07/17/98 21:34:54 GMT

    Scooter, Well you found the right place! Feel free to ask any kind of question.

    -- guru Friday, 07/17/98 21:37:47 GMT

    Jock: As per our conversation regarding forge welding, I think im almost there, still cant seem to get it to stick, here is wat i have domne so far.

    Prepared the steel surface, (pleaned and filed.) Pre heated the forge, inserted both pices into the forge (to warm so i can apply the flux (powder brazing flux)), heated the pices to a orange/yellow color, the sides of the steel were exhibiting sparks, (very small ones) waited until the surface looked wet, then removed the pices and gave a gentle tap with a light hammer. the pice was then left to cool and was easilly pulled apart.

    I guess i may need to increase the heat?. ir is it a flux thing?.


    Andrew Hooper -- administrator at Friday, 07/17/98 22:32:04 GMT

    To hot for golf. I better get my tail out in the shop and do something
    or I will get behind. I don't like the night work but it's the only time I can take the heat. Jock is it going to be a major problem to make the dies that big and have them hold up? I could use 5" dies. But that really doesn't help does it! I do hope we can make this thing so I can change the dies and maybe be able to order different standard types as well. I know you will take care of me. Do you play golf? I was hopeing to get you on the golf course and have you bring your wallet. I'll bet Jim hits a mean golf ball. Jim you know Alice Cooper palys golf too. "Haw" And has hair like yours, he dies his.
    Hot like in the city here in good old Md. If ou don't like the weather just wait an hour it will change.
    Rick http://www. Jock if you get a chance check out my new banner.

    Rick -- rickyc at Friday, 07/17/98 22:41:15 GMT


    You REALLY don't want to play golf with me! The first time I was on a golf course in my life (over 30 years ago) I went around in 98.

    Course that was on the front nine! I took the clubs back to the pro shop and went bowling instead. Haven't been on a course since, and have NO intention of ever being on another one.

    Now if you want to do a little pot bowling, we'll talk! (grin) My average is down this year, only rolling in the 180's.

    I don't dye my hair. I earned my gray hairs and I'm not ashamed of them.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 07/17/98 23:31:55 GMT

    FORGE WELDING (Andrew): Hmmm, sounds like you need to see it done. Everything was good up until the little tap. You hit the steel hard enough to push it together AND squeeze out the flux, then forge the joint to shape. IF the metal is burnt (you can still over heat thrugh the flux) it will not take a weld. As soon as you give that little tap the pieces should stick together. If you are doing a flat or "faggot" weld (two or more pieces side by side), they will often stick together in the forge. Hammering is required to finish the weld and squeeze out all the flux.

    The flux will look liquid so it is hard to judge that "liquid look". Which is actually a little hot for some steel. IF the flux has gotten to were it is boiling OR boiled of you have overheated the metal. If your forge is running too much air it will get very hot but oxidize the metal more than the flux can take care of. Adjusting a forge such as yours can be tricky and may require closing one end or modifying the volume of the forge to get the right conditions. Sometimes you have to close the forge quite a bit (stacked fire bricks work)to get the right conditions.

    Making your first forge weld can be frustrating. But once you've done a few you will start to see the little things that make a difference. Forge welding is a definitely an art and takes lots of practice. Some smiths never get good at it and find ways around it. Other's fall right into it.

    -- guru Saturday, 07/18/98 01:49:09 GMT

    Andrew Try a flat weld, two pieces side to side. Heat them in a nice even fire untill they are bright orange. Take them out of the fire and wire brush, this will remove the slag. Sprinkle some borax on just the outer edeges of the pieces, not in between the joint. Put them back into the fire and turn up the blower to increase the heat. Watch the fire and it will begain to turn a greenish yellow color. Not so much the actual fire but the fumes above it. When you see the color change you will soon see a few sparks. When the sparks appear, take the metal quickly to the anvil and hammer rapidly driveing the two pieces together. Make sure no one is standing near you when you do this and be sure to ware your safty glasses. Wire brush the metal again and apply a little more borax. Reheat the work again untill you see the color of the fire change. No sparks at this stage. Hammer the piece to the desired shape. Do not hammer the piece if it is below orange heat. Try this a few times untill you get the feel of it. Unfold the pieces and work the hammer around all sides of the joint reshape the metal back to its origenal size and form. I hope this helps. Once the weld is made you can use what I call a sliding hammer blow. Strike the
    metal in a slideing fashion and watch the joint lines diapear. Good luck and if this doesn't work for you write me or come back here and tell me what happened. Be sure the piece is at least orange color when you wire brush it, you will see the slag form as it starts to cool. Wear gloves heavy gloves and be careful.

    Rick -- rickyc at Saturday, 07/18/98 14:59:22 GMT

    Hello, i am a total novice to blacksmithing but have played around with knife making a little and have resently gotten very interested in building my own forge. After looking over several plans on the web for Gas forges i have some questions. I noticed a couple that use Durawool or Kaowool to line the inside of the forge. Not being too familiar witht is substance i started looking through a few catalogs to see how much it cost. While trying to find it i ran across something in the McMaster-Carr catalog that caught my interest. The thing that caught my interest was Refractory cement. Supossedly it's good up too 3000 degrees has a density of 125 lb sq/ft. And supposedly doesn't shrink and hardens to a crystal hardness. Well this sounded pretty good to me especially since it's only $17 for a 25lb bucket. So i was wondering if anyone has any experience with this substance and if it has any possible use for lining a small gas forge. Now that i've rambled enough hopefully some one can help me out :)


    Chris Kitchens -- faust at Saturday, 07/18/98 19:16:53 GMT

    REFRACTORY CEMENT (Chris): Refractory cement is (normally) formulated for use as a mortar with refractory bricks. It is used in thin sections. In heavier sections it will shrink and crack. I've got the newest MCMC catalog (104) and couldn't find the material you mentioned so I'm sure what you are looking at.

    What you want is castable or ramable refractory. It has more porosity due to the type of fillers used and does not shink as bad as straight cement. Ramable come premixed and is pricey. Castable is pretty cheap and can be gotten from a foundry supply house.

    Here's a do-it-your-self castable refractory/mix from Jim Lindsay:

  • 4 parts premixed concrete

  • 4 parts fire clay (available at masonary supplies)

  • 1 part vermiculite.

  • Mix with as little water as possible to the desired consistancy. Mold in 2" thick sections. Let sit over night (or longer if you can wait) and bring heat up slowly for first fire. Gas forge linings take several heats to thouroughly dry.

    Another formula is: High alumina content (33 pct) fire brick clay, mixed 5:1 with portland. Temp rating of 3000 degrees F. (?).

    Note thats Jim's mix starts with quite a bit of sand (in the premix) and also adds vermiculite (the stuff in some potting soil) to increase permiability. The sand, if a good silica sand is OK but other varities are not. Makers of refractory (fire) brick would add some saw dust to the alumina clay mix to add permiability. This would burn out during the firing of the brick. You can do the same thing with refractory cement/clay furnace linings.

    Permiability does two things. Primarily it lets water out of the refractory so it doesn't crack (or explode) while heating up. Secondly, things that add permiability usualy add porosity which increases the insulating value of the refractory.

    -- guru Saturday, 07/18/98 20:41:26 GMT

    Chris, sorry I missed you in the Slack-Tub Pub. We'll butt heads another time.

    GAS FORGES and REFRACTORIES: We've had a ton of interest in mini forges and various refractory forge linings. In the near future we are going to hold an anvilfire gas forge workshop week. The plan is to build and test a variety of small gas forges. Photos and plans will be made available as well as reports from the user/builders. Hopefully we will answer a lot of questions and provide some good solid information. Anyone in the Lynchburg Virginia area (or willing to travel there) that would like to take part drop me a line and we will work out the details.

    -- guru Saturday, 07/18/98 21:01:46 GMT

    I just saw a friend get a good orange heat from a bunson burner. I am considering copying the bunson burner and making several "covers" for it, so it could be used naked or topped with 'forges of different small shapes for different shapes of stock. Guys, what do I need to look out for? Or is the whole idea a gas-pipe dream?

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Saturday, 07/18/98 23:54:12 GMT

    BURNER (Chris): See the Ron Reil page from Links. His burners work like a bunsen burner. This type of forge is called an atmospheric burner because it operates at atmospheric pressure (doesn't use a blower).

    Ron Reil's Home Page

    -- guru Sunday, 07/19/98 01:30:34 GMT

    More info on alumaloy. When I got the spelling right I found it on the net. Ill get my wife (the computer expert)to transfer you the info sheet as I dont know how. They claim this stuff is a "breakthrough" in alum, potmetal,magnesiun etc repair that beats heliarc. Melts at about 730 deg. Their add on TV appears very "low budget" like done with a cheap homevideo camera. They simply heat the object to be joined and touch the rod to the surface until it flows (just like sweating copper pipe) The repair is supposed to have incredable strength. Anyway you know what P.T.Barnum said about the sucker being born every minute (an there's two born every minute that'll take his money).Ill send you the poop on it to see what you think. Just looks to good to be true. bruce

    bruce lowery -- brucelowery at Sunday, 07/19/98 03:10:49 GMT

    Solder does make a strong joint.

    Claims to repair "potmetal" at 730 F may be problematic. Zamak casting alloys melt real close to that. Around 800 degrees F and are poured at 1000-1100. Magnesium???? broken edges and a torch? Sounds like a metal fire to me.

    Just send me the web address you found and I'll take a look.

    There are a series of metals that were made by an outfit called Cera Matals or Ceramet (I think). Ceracast was one of their products. Lead, tin, bismuth alloys. Some melted at body temperature (melts in your hands!). Had several others that melted at 180 and 200. Was used for meltout cores in plastic and ceramic parts. Warm them in an oven and the core would just run out. Also made alloys that expanded when they solidified. These are still used to bed precision bar ways into machine tools. Just line them up perfect and pour in the low temp metal. It's sort of like babbiting but the metal expands in the hole and around the shaft so its as good as welded in.

    The problem with many "fix-it" products is that you never have a good clean joint to work with. Most of the type of products that are made of aluminium, zinc or magnesium are very thin, light weight and highly stressed.

    -- guru Sunday, 07/19/98 04:51:34 GMT

    Green ink test

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Sunday, 07/19/98 20:56:22 GMT


    have'nt heard from you in a while. What chup to? Gotta remember to re place the counter-weight on that oven and send you the old one.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Sunday, 07/19/98 22:15:37 GMT

    Jock, I know youre sick of alumaloy by now. Last PM i printed a spec sheet on the stuff. Have spent half the day trying to find it again to give you the location without success. Using the address given gets me nowhere.In looking elsewhere I came across a product (alloyweld) that Im sure must be the same thing. The specs on both are almost identical: tensile str,compression str, melting point, sp. gravity, density,Brinell hardness etc and application method is the same also. Alloyweld is $9.60/lb vs alumaloy at $45.00/lb plus $8.00 s/h. Alloyweld is sold by AuBuchon's in Phoenix and info is located at: Wont bug you anymore with this stuff. Thanks bruce

    bruce lowery -- brucelowery at Monday, 07/20/98 00:55:59 GMT

    Well i checked the McMaster-Carr catalog again about the Refractory cement. It's on page 2825 of the catalog, here's the excerpt on it though from their online catalog.

    High-Temperature Refractory Cement
    Once dry, this high-temperature cement becomes as hard as crystal
    and as durable as firebrick. It quickly grips surfaces without shrinking or cracking to form tight, permanent, smokeproof and gasproof joints. Ground to a paste-like mortar consistency, this ready-to-use cement can be applied with a trowel or spatula. Use it for metal-to-masonry and metal-to-metal joint sealing and for installing and repairing fur-naces,stoves, boilers, heaters, and kilns. Maximum temperature is 3000 F. Density is 125 lbs./cu. ft.
    Gray Black
    Container Each Each
    4.5 lb. ................................... 9372K52........ $3.76 9372K22........ $3.76
    8.9 lb. ................................... 9372K62........ 6.74 9372K32........ 6.74
    25 lb. ...................................... 9372K71........ 16.86 9372K41........ 16.86
    50 lb. ...................................... 9372K72........ 28.18 9372K42........ 28.18

    hopefully that will help a little with my question.

    Chris -- faust at Monday, 07/20/98 02:08:21 GMT

    Jock: Works ok now, and yes that is what I am sending her.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Monday, 07/20/98 03:53:18 GMT

    Green is good grandpa how are you doing the color thing anyway?

    rick -- rickyc at Monday, 07/20/98 04:55:48 GMT

    Rick, I've given a couple people who's advise we can trust a special access system that gives them a colored "voice". Its done on the server end.

    -- guru Monday, 07/20/98 15:03:30 GMT

    GRANT: Grandpa has been bussy traveling and trying to work in 110-115 f shop.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Monday, 07/20/98 15:57:23 GMT

    REFRACTORY CEMENT (Chris): Darn! I looked right at that page and missed it!

    However, This is NOT furnace lining material. It is mortar for bricks and sealing around nozzles and such. Used in heavy sections it will likely shrink and crack.

    It IS good to know that MCMC has the stuff. My foundry supplier only has 100 pound pails. The last I bought, I used a couple pounds and the rest went bad in storage (over several years).

    You still need to be looking for Castable Refractory.

    Grant Sarver recomends, Kaolite from Thermal Ceramics.

    My foundry supplier carries NarcoCast32 (3200F) in 50 pound bags for about $20/bag (I'm going to try some ASAP).

    Using castable you normaly make wooden forms or you can cast it into a metal shell such as a pipe or a weldment. In a pipe shell you can cast a square OR round chamber. Last night Grant mentioned using a cardboard tube for the center. This could be removed or burned out if it were stuck. Wooden forms need draft. That's the angle on the sides that lets you remove something from a mold. About 1/8" per foot is all you need.

    -- guru Monday, 07/20/98 16:14:03 GMT

    Hi Jock!

    The point I was trying to make last night is that fly press accelerates right down till it touches the work, just like a hammer, thus hits with real velocity and bounces off the work and removes very little heat. A punch press accelerates till the crank is at 90 degrees and the DEcelerates to zero at the bottom of the stroke. I'll send you video of my tong making operation, it's a real eye opener!

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Monday, 07/20/98 16:58:28 GMT

    Thanks for clearing up my confusion about the Refractory Cement. Now i have another question, where can i get Kaowool and about how much does it cost? The idea of building a forge is more of a hobby thing than anything so at the moment i am trying to keep cost at a minimal.

    Chris -- faust at Tuesday, 07/21/98 03:08:35 GMT

    Anyone know what coal ash is, chemical properties or at least what it is rich in?, i was also wondering if it would be possible to use it as a refractory cement, seems that it wont burn any more than it allready has and i have found that ig you mix it with water you cna work and fire it as if it were clay. (its clumbles a bit by hey ist free).


    Andrew Hooper -- administrator at Tuesday, 07/21/98 05:28:31 GMT

    KAOWOOL: Is packaged in 24" (61cm) by 25' (7.5m) cartons. It comes in a number of thicknesses from 1/4" (7mm), 1/2" (13mm) 1" (24mm) and 2" (49mm).

    I was recently quoted, High Temp 8 pound density Kaowool 1" thick (carton) at $154 and 1/2" thick (carton) at $84. The 1/4" is packaged in cartons of 4 rolls totaling 200sqft.

    I considered purchasing 1/2" and doubling or tripling up the thicknesses. To glue and coat Kaowool foundry suppliers sell a sodium silicate and sugar solution. Sodium silicate is sold in grocery stores as water softener.

    In carton quantities your best bet is to find the closest foundry supply. If you are not intrested in carton quantities you may want to contact other blacksmiths. It was recently noted that industrial furnace maintenence companys use large quantities of Kaowool and may have broken cartons or scraps available.

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/21/98 15:53:00 GMT

    COAL ASH (Andrew): Coal ash is composed of all the non-organic compounds in the coal. In the best coal this is mostly what would have composed wood ash if the trees which the coal was derived from were burned. It also includes the silicates that were disolved in the swamp water where the trees fell. The silicates are what gives coal ash that glassy look and produces clinkers.

    Coal also includes muddy sediment from the swamp composed of clay. Alone this sediment would have metamorhized into slate. When mixed with coal it makes lower grades coal. Being a geo/organic substance every concievable ratio of organic to mineral exists.

    Coal ash also includes sulphur compounds in varying percentages. These compounds are highly corrosive when wet and will disolve a metal forge in no time.

    Typically coal ash is used as filler to make concrete block (also called commonly called cinder-block). This helps both the producer of the ash/cinders and the block maker.

    Many refractories have silicates in them. However the largest component is aluminia (aluminium oxide clay). The higher the aluminia content the higher the temperature resistance. The refractory bricks you just melted in your forge were probably common fire bricks designed for fireplaces and domestic chiminys. It is hard to melt good refractory bricks in a propane fired forge (See Gas Facts on the 21st Century page

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/21/98 16:24:49 GMT

    BENDING JIG (dimag): Yes, a piece of pipe will work but for this type of bender a snug fit would be better. However, it won't hurt to try.

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/21/98 16:29:07 GMT

    Guru Page vs. Hammer-In


    In deference to a small group of my regular users I am going to reopen the Virtual Hammer-In.

    Here are my reasons why: I had already noticed that certain people, just will NOT post a message on the Guru page, but would post messages on the Hammer-In. Since closing the Hammer-In we have lost some very good input. After opening the Slack-Tub Pub for trials I have discovered another group that will not post on either of the more formal pages but will join a "chat" and eventually ask questions.

    Three different forums, three different groups. Except for my very small core group that check just about everything everyday, sometimes more than once a day (Thank you guys!)

    When I established anvilfire my original design called for three forums. A chat (which many of you asked for), an open "anything goes" page and the Guru Q&A page. Anvilfire was designed to be a public service. That larger public has to take precedent over the inner circle.

    TO THE GANG: I'm sorry if you find it a pain to check more than one forum. I will be modifying the menu system at the bottom of the pages to make it easier to switch (and keep an eye on the Slack-Tub Pub)!
    Thank you for your support and input.

    The Virtual Hammer-In will be reopened as soon as the design changes have been completed and tested on this page.

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/21/98 17:30:19 GMT

    Guru: thanks for the info, the brick i melted was 145t castable refractory cement, only has a hotface of 1600, so its no supprise that if did something like melt.

    Andrew Hooper -- administrator at Tuesday, 07/21/98 22:06:44 GMT

    MELTED REFRACTORY: Several years ago I fired some ceramic clay tiles in my forge for a mosaic. Only took about 15 minutes for the 1/8" tiles! We were using 1/2 thick bricks as a "shelf". One batch was left in for about 5 minutes too long. Not only did the tiles melt but some boiled producing foamed clay! The refractory brick showed no damage except for the melted tiles welded to it!

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/21/98 22:12:45 GMT

    Hello again

    I was going to do some brazing at Ft. Edmonton in the 1846 blacksmith shop. Could you give me some history of brass and what it is an alloy of?


    Doug Hall -- dhall at Wednesday, 07/22/98 02:30:05 GMT

    BRAZING and BRASS (Doug): First I must appologize. I was wrong about Spelter last night. I was correct about brass/bronze however.

    Brass is Copper/Zinc, Bronze is Copper/Tin but both often have tin and zinc in modern alloys.

    MACHINERY'S 5th Ed.,
  • Spelter = Copper/Zinc 1/1
  • Brazing Metal = 85%Cu, 15%Zn

  • Art of Blacksmithing, Alex Bealer, p.149

    To braze, the smith places the broken pieces in the forge and heats them until the broken edges are and orange-red. Then placeing the edges together he applies flux and sprinkles spelter, no more than brass filings, between the two broken pieces. When the brass melts he gives the two pieces a sharp tap with his hammer, driving them closer together and evenly distributing the melted brass. The rejoined piece is left in the dying fire until it loses its heat and the brass is solidified, . . .

    Modern Welding, Althouse, Etal, 16-1

    Brazing has been used for centuries, Blacksmiths, jewlers, armorers, and other tradsmen have used the process on large and small articles since before recorded history.

    There is an article in one of the Foxfire Books, I look it up and send it too you later also.

    My sincerest appologies. Jock Dempsey

    -- guru Wednesday, 07/22/98 15:30:56 GMT

    A question about the pictures in Volume 2 - Asheville Edition - Page23, the bottom left picture of the door plate, how is this type of work usually dome?, pierced and punched?, filed?. Is it usually done hot or cold?.


    Andrew Hooper -- administrator at Wednesday, 07/22/98 08:41:12 GMT

    I think I'm glad you are reopening the V.H.I as I have never been there but none the less I will continue to check both pages, the Pub(when my computer comes of age, an OLD386) and sitck my oar in the water when I have an Idea

    Thanks for setting up this resouce if you had don this 15 years ago my scrap pile would have been much smaller

    Bob Keyes -- keyes at Wednesday, 07/22/98 13:59:37 GMT

    Bob, My poor old 486/66 sweats bullets trying to run a browser and keep up with WIN 3.1. Thank you for your perserverance!

    -- guru Wednesday, 07/22/98 16:26:11 GMT

    FANCY PIERCED WORK (Andrew): Depending on the part, all the techniques you listed are used. On the Gothic door knocker you mentioned I suspect most of the work was done cold. This is the art of Whitesmithing. There are no short cuts in this type of work. It is slow and it takes patience. The techniques are the same for ferrous and non-ferrous materials alike.

    For this type of fancy pierced work you start with a carefully scribed layout. Scribing is used because it will withstand all the handling and will not rub off like pencil. The other option is to glue a paper pattern to the metal. I produce true scale patterns in CAD, print them on a laser printer and then glue them on with 3M artists adhesive (spray on rubber cement).

    Next you drill (or punch if the metal is thin enough) starter holes for your saw. You can drill one or more holes in each opening. I generally drill holes at every corner carefully aligning them to be tangent to each line. This makes it easier to turn the saw, gives you more places to start the saw and defines the layout in case the paper template peals off. Then you can use the holes to line up another pattern.

    A jewlers saw or frame saw is used with a fine blade. The blade should have a tooth pitch so that at least three teeth are in the kerf at all times. If you have less teeth the saw will hang, strip teeth or break.

    Now, we need to backup. IF the work was to be heavily engraved or chisled this would be done prior to the piercing and the scribed layout is mandatory. The strength of the unpierced part is needed to withstand all the hammering. This is not an absolute rule but if the finished part is going to open and airy then the peirceing should be done last.

    After piercing with a saw the lines and corners are cleaned up with files. Once the lines are straight and crisp the edges can be chamfered with chisles, files and scrapers. There is a lot of artistry involved in this aspect of whitesmithing and it takes years of practice to reach the level of the example.

    Heavier work is often forged and hot punched or notched cold with a shear after forging to rough shape. Here the work becomes a study in planning and logic.

    A MODERN ALTERNATIVE: The CAD drawings I produce for patterns can also be used to guide an NC milling machine or engraver. We are used to seeing these machines turn out vast quantities of hedious block lettering in plastic. However, they can also produce any curve, line or pattern you can draw and do it in metal, plastic or wood. Most are limited in their depth of cut and are not the best at peircing but they can produce clean chamfered cuts that are easy to follow with a piercing saw. After engraving and piercing we can still work the part by hand with files or gravers. THIS is 21st Century Blacksmithing!

    -- guru Wednesday, 07/22/98 17:14:11 GMT

    will keep the faith and flog my poor computer.

    ON TO THE 21ST CENTURY oops hit the wrong shift key
    If anyone has access to a water jet cutter those are WONDERFUL!!! there is one in San Antonio at Eureka Sheetmetal (phone number IS listed ) the people are very helpful. I have seen some of their work, a door grill of a covey of quail rising over dogs (10 separate passes to accomadate the cnc computer and capacity is not bad either 10x20 ft bed 2"thick and they don't require a second mortgage to have them do something for you

    Bob Keyes -- keyes at Wednesday, 07/22/98 20:28:36 GMT

    I found a great diagram of the bull on your site somewhere a wee while back and I can't for the life of me find it again. Your help here woul d be very much appreciated. If you could point me in the right direction.
    Black Dog Forge

    Geraldine Bobsien -- gerryb at Wednesday, 07/22/98 23:14:37 GMT

    Gerry, the Bull diagram is on their site. Either click on the BULL banner, goto Directory and click the link there.

    Glad you found anvilfire!

    -- guru Thursday, 07/23/98 00:33:59 GMT

    Just starting. Want to do some simple ornamental work using 3/8 hot rolled rod for trellis/scroll work. Need an anvil! Where do I get one for a "reasonable" price?????

    jim painter -- painterj at Thursday, 07/23/98 03:11:41 GMT

    ANVILS, prices: New anvils currently sell for $3/lb in cast steel from domestic (US) makers and run close to $6/lb for forged German anvils.

    Centaur forge sells a 130 lb. Mankel for $487 + shipping.

    Bruce Wallace, Wallace Metal Work, sells new and used anvils.

    Used anvils from a dealer are going to run about $2.40/lb but there are still a lot of bargains out there. Just today a friend of mine bought a 300 lb Hay-Budden anvil for $125!

    On our 21st Century page there are instructions for obtaining an inexpensive anvil and a link to intructions for making a relatively sophisticated anvil.

    -- guru Thursday, 07/23/98 04:12:11 GMT

    Have you come across information/plans about branding irons. I'm interested in minatures. I have found a couple of web sites that make and sell them but nothing on the process and proper design.

    Bert -- bertzitek at Thursday, 07/23/98 18:46:29 GMT


    I'll be out of town for a couple of days. See you Sunday evening sometime.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 07/23/98 19:40:15 GMT

    John Pepon...Thanks for the web site for used books. I ordered from 3 different dealers before I found one that still had a copy of Machinery's Handbook. Got it for $30 plus shipping. 11th edition I think and it is still a bargain.

    R Guess -- rguess at Thursday, 07/23/98 21:16:52 GMT

    i have been wanting to make the perfect sword for combat situations. i am 24 years old. i have made about 30 different swords and knives. i have made one sword that can stand up to the worst punishment i could put it through ( including cutting through 5/8 inch logging chain). the only problem is that the sword has been made from leaf spings (3/4 ton pickup springs), and is to heavy for actual combat. i wanted to know about titanium, and would it be a good material to make a sword from, and how would i go about making one? how much more heat would it take to work the metal? would it flex or bend under stress? i would like to hear your thoughts on it before i try, because i do it the hard way, by hand (all of it). thank you for your time. sincerly christopher s. little

    christopher -- chaos doom1 Friday, 07/24/98 01:28:22 GMT

    R. Guess:
    RE: Machinery's Handbook. You are very welcome. I am pleased to hear that you have your handbook. A bargain, you say? Well, for $30 you now have, in effect, your own private guru. Available 24 hours a day, seven days per week, and as near at hand as your bookshelf. A bargain, indeed. And the best part of the deal is that now you don't need to sweat the simple stuff. You can answer the easy ones for yourself, thus leaving the guru more free time and brain power to answer all those really tough questions we will be asking him later. Right?

    John Pepon -- pepon at Friday, 07/24/98 02:34:01 GMT


    Somthing many blacksmiths are not aware of is that most western states have VERY tight regulations regarding branding iron. A blacksmith is commiting a FELONY if he makes a branding iron for anyone but the registered owner of that brand. Rustling is as big a problem today as it ever was and and anything connected with it is taken seriously by state officials.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Friday, 07/24/98 03:02:39 GMT

    Hi Jock

    Do you or any others have a gif of an old double edged trade knife? We are having a blackpowder meet this weekend and I have to duplicate one. It would be nice to have a picture to go by. ;-)


    Doug -- dhall at Friday, 07/24/98 03:49:32 GMT

    TITANIUM: This is an area where I have no experiance but I will try to give you some direction.

    There are hundreds of titanium alloys used mostly in aviation and aerospace applications. They are described as unalloyed (pure), alpha, near alpha, alpha-beta an beta alloys. The actual name or designation of the alloys is roughly their alloy composition.

    Ti-6Al-4V is 6% Aluminium, 4% Vanadium, balance Titanium

    The strongest Ti alpha-beta alloy listed is Ti-6Al-2Sn-4Zr-6Mo.

    Equal to it are two Ti beta alloy Ti-13C-11Cr-3Al and Ti8Mo-8V-2Fe-3Al. The beta alloys are slightly denser than the alpha alloys but are considered more formable and good for fasteners. In general a titanium part will be 57 to 60 percent the weight of an equal volume steel part.

    Forging temperature of titanium alloys is 1550 to 1800°F but requires 2 to 4 times the force of forging 4340 steel. Forging at higher temperatures (2,200°F max.) produces a lower yield strength but higher fracture resistance (with proper heat treatment).

    The strength of the alpha-beta and beta alloys is roughly equivalant to medium carbon steels (1040, 4140. . .). However, this requires careful heat treatment in controled temperature ovens.

    The modulus of elasticity is much lower than steel (half) meaning it has half the springyness or will bend with half the effort. This means to have the stiffness of a steel part it would weigh as much.

    -- guru Friday, 07/24/98 14:15:18 GMT

    Christopher: In addition to GURU's responce, Ti is not a hardenable material. Mission Knives of Calif. have been working with a proprietary beta Ti alloy for knife making. Their best efforts have resulted in hardness in the very low 50's Rc. Hardly enough to cut log chain. Cooler and almost cumfortable in the heartland.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Friday, 07/24/98 17:46:50 GMT

    TITANIUM (Chris & grandpa):
    Whoops, forgot that one. Normal hardnesses given were 36 Rc.

    Also forgot to mention that I've heard that dust from Ti or Ti alloys can make you sick. Flu like symtoms that last several days. I suspect that heavy doses could be worse. ALWAYS wear a dust mask and has good (forced) ventilation when buffing any material.

    On the other hand. Titanium does poduce the most outrageously brilliant temper colors and has been used in art and jewelery.

    The aerospace folks use titanium to replace aluminium where higher strength is needed especialy at elavated temperatures. It's great stuff but they haven't found an alloy to completly replace steel yet!

    -- guru Friday, 07/24/98 18:34:32 GMT

    Gotcha Now Guru!

    Actually if the part is made twice as thick (or twice the weight) it will be FOUR times as stiff. Believe me folks it's hard to catch this guy it a mistake, so I savor these little ones. I will admit if it were made twice as wide it would be only twice as stiff.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Friday, 07/24/98 19:51:29 GMT

    GRANT: I'll admit you got me there! BUT the titanium is 60% the density of steel and 50% as stiff. To be exact (and correct).

    1.412 x 60% = 85%

    The titanium blade would be 85% the weight of steel and 41% thicker to be of equal stiffness, IF the section were rectangular which swords generally are not. . .

    HIGH TECH (grandpa you'll love this): Since the biggest problem with the Ti blade is hardness why not laminate a thin piece (.060) of steel that would become the edge between two pieces of high strength aluminium alloy.

    After lamiation (by oven brazing or roll welding) the blade would not be forgeable but it would be light, stiff AND have a hard edge. To further lighten the blade the steel core could have a row of lightening holes that could be left as air spaces.

    A step further (I thought of this one before but did not figure out a method of doing it. . .). Produce an aluminium filled steel tube and cold work (roll) to the desired cross section. Thus you would have a steel clad aluminum blade. The steel being the material at the perifery of the section would produce a high percentage of the strength and ridgitity. Ends (point and tang) would need to be fitted and welded (TIG) to the exterior cladding although the tang might be cut out of the existing material depending on the design. NOTE: NASA has reported the making of such clad bars, but I don't think they were worked aferwards.


    Forge or fabricate the thin walled shell out of steel (tubing) to the finished cross section. THEN fill with graphite filled epoxy( over a third less dense than aluminium and almost as strong as steel). In the steel shell it would be nearly as stiff as steel and the assembly would definitely be lighter than a steel part of equal strength. The steel shell would need to be heat treated prior to filling. . .
    Lots the new high tech military aircraft probably use this technique.

    Someone recently asked me about making an aluminium/steel "Damascus". Told them is wouldn't work. The materials are too disimilar and it would not be possible to forge and produce Damascus patterning. HOWEVER, aluminium clad steels ARE made. Therefore it should be possible to make the AL/Steel/Al laminate mentioned above. You may even want a profiled steel section with fitted aluminium sides.

    SOUND EXOTIC? LABOR INTENSIVE? Probably no more so than making a laminated steel blade.

    -- guru Friday, 07/24/98 23:28:58 GMT

    Outfit not far from me makes such things by explosion bonding! Plastique shaped charges are used to laminate such combinations. Done on a real production basis.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 07/25/98 00:05:03 GMT

    Hmmmm . ., Jim Hrisoulas is making blades from gun barrels (assult weapon Damascus), now we could have high impact explosive blades. . . . are we having fun OR WHAT?

    -- guru Saturday, 07/25/98 00:16:20 GMT

    Interesting shit going on here with my computer. Even though I'm on the guru page my connection keeps refreshing every 15-20 seconds. message at the bottom says somthing about Have not been to the pub this session!

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 07/25/98 00:18:13 GMT

    That't the "Who is in the Pub" refresh. The banners also refresh every so often. . .

    -- guru Saturday, 07/25/98 00:20:53 GMT

    Actually the refresh is once in 60 seconds (that's why sometimes it says there are people there when there is not and vise versa.

    -- guru Saturday, 07/25/98 00:22:49 GMT

    Can you say "Samurai Thermocouple"? The metals are still too dissimilar, differences in temp cause cladding to delaminate. We use this to separate 3002 Al from 316 SS (Clean Al scrap is worth more than 'dirty' scrap)

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Saturday, 07/25/98 00:43:00 GMT

    STRANGE METALURGY: Makes a good element for a thermometer too! Just a little heat on one side and you've got a scimitar! Dissimilar metal cladding bonds are weak but a good braze or solder joint similar to silver solder is much stronger (Heck, we're talking fantasy stuff here anyway!). I did'nt check the coeficient of expansion for titanium. . .

    Now that we are talking NASA type R&D, there are alloys that expand when they cool and shrink when they get hot. Apply this to some new super alloy and maybe you could make an AlMgBiVxx alloy that had the same coefficient of expansion as Steel. . .

    Did you know there is NO science of alloying? All alloys are determined by trial and error. There is NO predictability. The Binary alloy project I mentioned above was the result of thousands of metalurgists all over the world doing trial and error testing of alloys. And for every two metal alloy hundres of mixtures were created and tested so that every combination could be charted.

    So now what? Trimetal alloys. Instead of squaring the alloyable metals you cube them! Do you know how many alloys we use with four or five metals? Hundreds. To make matters worse the powdered metal people have discovered they can alloy metals that were previously thought to be impossible. Things like high aluminium steel, refractories (oxides) and glass fibres.

    Still, it is all trial and error, not much different than alchemey. One NASA scientist called it "heat it and beat it metalurgy". Want your children to ride in a Star Trek type starship? Or have cheap room temperature super conductors? Invent the science.

    -- guru Saturday, 07/25/98 02:45:02 GMT

    Guru: re your post of 07/24/98 23:28:58, I have a better idea--- Ti blade, with a WC/diamond core about one micron thick. Will cut anything and is self sharpening! Made some last year without the W, and the diamonds were too big. Exiting stuff! Predicted low of 65f tonight in the heartland.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Saturday, 07/25/98 05:47:06 GMT

    P.S. Nonmagnetic!!!!

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Saturday, 07/25/98 05:49:10 GMT

    Thank you, for the info on the acetelyne generators. I have located a small one (10lbs.). I still don"t know if it is feasible (or safe) for me to use one. Thanks again. Hope it is cooler where you are! 19 days at 100+ here in East Texas!

    Richard Lowe -- karen at Saturday, 07/25/98 21:23:38 GMT

    Hey Grant you been hammer welding again haven't ya."grin" Been to hot to weld anything. Did ya get all your hammers unstuck? Hows my press Jock is it done yet?"haw" I should be able to send some funds for the 50 ton jack in less then two weeks. I was still hopeing for some donations from Grant and Jim. I hope the thing isn't sold before I get the money. Anybody want to loan me a couple of "c Notes"?
    Well you all take care, it is starting to cool off here a bit and I feel the need to hammer. Take care
    Rick http://www.

    Rick -- rickyc at Saturday, 07/25/98 22:25:10 GMT

    Jock I just printed out your bellows pictures it looks great! I have plans, How to Make a Blacksmith's Bellows by Robert M. Heath. However yours looks different ie... the fully expanded depth appears deeper and maybe bigger overall. I am going to build one for regular use in my shop and would like to get any more information you might be able to provide If you know of the plans I have, let me know how close they are to yours any help you could give would be greatly appreciated!!!!! e-mail or give me a call at (505) 891-3206 P.S. I love your page.

    Keith -- KLHeff at Sunday, 07/26/98 01:15:41 GMT

    BELLOWS (Keith): I did see plans somewhere on the net but wasn't crazy about them. The size I made worked very well. Jim Wilson pawpaw at has them now. They were sized for "general" work which means larger than a lot of people would have wanted. However, the larger size dosn't require as many pulls per minute as other bellows and is easier to deal with. Remember, most original bellows were pumped full time by some sort of laborer (slave, apprentice) not the smith.

    About all that doesn't show on my photos is that the boards were tounge and grooved for air tightness. The only changes I would make are to lighten the two spacer boards some more and to have bought clear pine lumber. I had at least one nail go into a knot and split out the side. Rather than chance wrecking all that work I left it that way.

    The spacer boards are not traditional but they withstand nailing in all those nails! Normally split hoops are used. The hinges also are not traditional but they made the bellows a piece of folk art.

    Thanks Keith and ALL for the praise of the page. I am working every day to make it even better!

    -- guru Sunday, 07/26/98 14:05:46 GMT

    Jock,Have a Delta metal bandsaw that Ive never had any trouble with and besides its been too hot to saw anything anyway but the last two new blades Ive put on are "canted" so the cut is not square but runs in as it goes down. Ive looked and looked and can't see how it would be adjusted. All bearing seem fine. Am I just getting bum blades? Also,am in the very early stages of planing to build a JYH and think I have an old Mazda truck rear end I can get cheap. For the anvil would it be possible to use a big chunk of reinforced concrete with a chunk of steel on top.Ive got a bag or two of portland cement in my way plus a ton of gravel and because of my physical problems this would be easier that bringing in a engine block. Thanks bruce
    P.S. How far is Gladys Va from Farmville?

    bruce lowery -- brucelowery at Sunday, 07/26/98 02:41:16 GMT

    BAND SAW (Bruce): Most better band saws have a ton of adjustments on them. The cheaper ones have few but generally can be adjusted.

    Start with the tension adjustment. A slack blade can run where ever it wants. An overtensioned blade will break easier but the tension will also deflect the frame of some saws throwing the whole thing out of wack.

    It is also easy to wreck the teeth on one side of a bandsaw blade and it will always cut a curve.

    NO CONCRETE ANVILS! Besides once you pour it the weight will be more than an engine block and you will still be likely to have to handle it. The V8 engine block was just a handy metal stand and really didn't weight that much (120 lbs striped). I'm working on a new design suggested by Chris Kilpatrick. Axel is down on the floor. Takes about the same floor space but isn't top heavy and should be cheaper to build (less material). About that concrete. You could use it for a base plate for mass but not for the anvil.

    Gladys is 14 miles South of Rustburg and we are 3 miles out of that (about 45 min from Farmville). If you would like to drop by and check out the JYH I am here most of the time.

    -- guru Sunday, 07/26/98 13:47:43 GMT

    My father has his grandfather's complete blacksmith's shop. It is at least l00 years old. How would we find a way to get it appraised in the upper East Tennessee area?

    blacksmith's great grandaughter -- rhendrix at preferred .com Sunday, 07/26/98 03:38:58 GMT

    SHOP APRAISAL: That's a hard one. Tool collectors will pay more for certain items such as those marked with the "Atha" brand than unmarked items. They will likely pay more than blacksmiths. Some items such as cone mandrels (metal cone about 4 feet tall) will sell for as much or more than new ($300-$500). Used anvils should sell for close to or more new ($4 - $7/lb) but typically sell for fifty cents to a dollar a pound. The point is, every item of this type has a different value to different people.

    Appraisals are a funny business and are always colored by their purpose. Banks and regular appraisers do not have a clue. A local auction company that does lots of farm auctions might be you best bet. OR a near by blacksmith (there is a bunch in that that region) could give the best market prices. I'll email you about specifics.

    -- guru Sunday, 07/26/98 13:23:20 GMT

    I am a Boy Scout and will hopefully be on staff at our Council Camp, Beaumont Scout Reservation, next summer. There has been some talk of setting up a forge in the camp and I need to know how to go about a) types of forges b) constructing/installing/buying a forge, and c) rough price range. I am willing to work to find the money to see this project through, but I need somewhere to start. Any help would be appreciated.

    Austin Frank -- nitsuabo at Sunday, 07/26/98 16:07:15 GMT

    Austin, For this I would recomend a coal forge. Generally I recomend a gas forge to smiths but they have some serious safety hazzards that are difficult to address with a group unfamiliar with them. The intructor/operator should have had a gas welding course and learned all the saftey rules associated with that field.

    My questions for you are:
  • Do you have any metal working experiance?

  • How many students do you expect to instruct?

  • What are you going to do for anvils? They are a bigger cost item than a forge.

  • A coal forge can be as simple as a box filled with dirt and clay with an air source such as a bellows or small blower. See my article under 21st Century, A Blacksmith of 1776.

    A little more sophisticated and portable is a brake drum forge. These are made from an auto or truck brake drum and are easy to build. See my sketch under Plans.

    Both the above forges can be built for very little depending on your scrounging ability. Both also work best with a little 110VAC blower. These cost about $50 each new, or can be scrounged out of old appliances. Hair blow driers have also been used but you have to careful to keep the plastic housing a good distance from the forge.

    New coal commercial coal forges sell for $500 to $1000 dollars. Lets look for used!

    Since you are new to blacksmithing I recomend you get a Centaur Forge catalog and purchase a copy of Jack Andrew's NEW Edge of the Anvil (24.95+S&H). You can order the book from Centaur Forge and tell them I said they would give you a catalog with the order. The address and phone number are on their ad here. They have everything you may need to purchase new.

    You may also find it benificial to take a blacksmithing course or lessons if you have not done so already. Contact ABANA. They have a web site (See the Links page). Join, they have a list of schools and Local ABANA chapters. This will get you in touch with local smiths who will be your best help!

    I will address the anvil question in another post.

    -- guru Sunday, 07/26/98 17:53:10 GMT

    Austin (more), the anvils and numbers question:

    ANVILS: The smallest anvil I can reccomend is 100 pounds. Currently these cost $3 to $7/lb. NEW, and 50 cents to $2/lb used when you can find them.

    One solution to the anvil problem is to make simple student anvils (see article under 21st Century. Cost about $1.25/lb.

    NUMBERS: I don't recomend you have than two people working at a forge and anvil. It is too easy for someone to turn around and poke someone with a white hot piece of steel. In a camp situation a nice small controllable group would be about six. This means three anvils (with stands), three forges, three (metal) water pails and six of most everything else such as hammers, tongs, aprons, pairs of gloves and safety glasses. In other words, a loaded pickup truck (1000 pounds). It would also be good to have a least one or more blacksmith's leg vises. Idealy each person has their own setup including the instructor.

    I know. You wanted a forge. Now you have a small trade school's worth of equipment. But that IS the point and what is required. Remember too, that you will need to be good enough to teach the subject which means both study and practice and that means you cannot spend all your free time raising money for equipment.

    But things are not so bleak. One thing modern blacksmiths are, generous and willing to help in any way they can. Get started, show that you can pull this off and then we will see what we can find. I think some of your tool problems with be easily taken care of. But remember, blacksmiths are generous, not stupid. You will also need to show that the BSA is willing to take responsibility for the equipment (storage during off season) and that it will actually be used.

    Feel free to e-mail me direct on your logistics problems.

    -- guru Sunday, 07/26/98 18:37:56 GMT

    re. the explosive bonding do you think that has any posibilities for welding a face plate on an anvil?

    Bob Keyes -- keyes at Sunday, 07/26/98 20:03:08 GMT

    Sure be fun to try!!

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Sunday, 07/26/98 20:44:43 GMT

    Goes with Jim H's Assult weapon Damascus, 4th of July made in USA bomb anvils!

    Jock Dempsey -- odempsey at Sunday, 07/26/98 23:14:46 GMT

    Jock: do you know much about spark erosion?, if so, what is usually used for the electrode, and what type of solution is used (i would guess it would be some kind of oil) and what type of power is usually user, i think its DC high current but not to shure?.

    BTW: for welding a face plate on an anvi, Just speak to some of the fellows in india, im shure next atomic test they do would be good for that, retreiving the anvil afterward may be fun.

    Andrew Hooper -- administrator at Monday, 07/27/98 00:00:01 GMT


    I've already read Jock's response to your bellow questions, but I want to add a note.

    I freely admit that I may very well be the worst forge welder you will ever meet. I've probably tried to make a decent forge weld at LEAST
    fifty times. I've suceeded twice. Both times were with the bellows that Jock built for the portable forge.

    Need I say more/

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 07/27/98 00:12:37 GMT

    Electrical Discharge Machining EDM: I don't know much about it but I do know the electrode can be any conductor even metal covered plastic.

    The fluid is usualy a water based electrolyte. I THINK the current is high frequecy DC. Like welding the process uses a very short arc so high voltage is not necessary. Feed rates are imperceptably slow but some intresting things can be done with it.

    Some of the tricks the early pioneers of the process performed were things like using a twisted bar for an electrode and leting it screw in to the work producing a square twist hole in a solid block. The same thing was done with springs producing helical holes!

    One advantage of EDM is that is works just as well on hardened materials as it does soft. Many auto panel dies are sunk in prehardened tool steel blocks using EDM.

    -- guru Monday, 07/27/98 00:25:32 GMT


    The Virtual Hammer-In is now reopened. Please post personal messages, ads, notices and whatever there.

    I know this flip-flop is bothersome but closing the Hammer-In was a mistake. Two things happened, we lost a bunch of folks that posted regularly and YOU guys started treating the Guru page more like is was supposed to be. Go figure!

    There have been some changes on both pages. I've put a better menu system at the bottom of the page and I'm changing the colors on the Hammer-In so it is easier to tell where you are. Both also have a "Pub Watch" window.

    I'm still flip/flopping on the Java script thing so some pages have Java again. You guys with Netscape 2.x and IE 3.x w/o Java are just going to have to upgrade. The new system is buggy on ALL browsers and I've got a lot more things I want to do with Java. There are ways to detect different browsers and support each differently but I won't live long enough to maintain more than ONE copy of anvilfire!

    Thank you for your support!

    -- guru Monday, 07/27/98 18:47:49 GMT

    My 150 amp EDM will remove about 15 cubic inches per hour in roughing mode. The dielectric fluid forces the spark to be short and flushes away the chips (the chips on my machine run 4-10 microns). Electrodes are usually made from graphite or tugsten copper. I use brass sometimes as it comes in acurate shapes. Machine runs very high frequency up to about 200 volt max. Requires a very acurate servo system to maintain the proper gap. Servo measures the voltage across the gap and adjusts accordingly. Current, voltage and polarity are adjusted for fast cutting or fine finish. Can even machine carbide!

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Monday, 07/27/98 19:01:33 GMT

    I'm still trying to conferm the date for this year's Quad State conference in Ohio. I got a "pretty sure its Sept 26,& 27" from the Vice presedent of the Ohio chapter, but 800 miles is a long way to go on a "pretty sure" . While I'm at it how about a yearly calander of when and where all of the chapters are having their conferences. I know most of them hold on the same weekend every year. Alabama's is coming up September 11, 12 and 13 at Tannehill, and our Florida one is October 10 and 11 in Barberville FL.

    Bill -- applecross1 at Tuesday, 07/28/98 01:25:01 GMT

    Bill, I think the calendar of coming events is a good idea. But we'll all have to dig for as many dates as we can find and pass them along to the guru.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 07/28/98 02:21:56 GMT

    Hey Guru:lets see what you know. I'm working with Starret precision ground tool steel. I need to harden to a rockwell 45 or the equivelent in brindell hardness testing which I believe to be about 265. If you could tell me a step by step method of how to do this, including tempatures, and the types of oils to quench with. This information would be put to good use, and would be greatly appriciated. Dale C. Compton owner MIRROR IMAGE CUSTOM MACHINE WORK

    Dale C. Compton -- D.Compton at The Tuesday, 07/28/98 04:11:57 GMT

    Dale C. Compton:

    Last time I looked Starret offered more than one grade of tool steel, should be W-1, O-1 or A-2. I'll check my Starret book if I can find it.

    Calender of events around the country would be great!

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Tuesday, 07/28/98 05:26:05 GMT

    CALENDAR of EVENTS: (tried to post last night but local connect was bad)
    Bill, I've been thinking the same thing. I thought ABANA took care of the calander. I'll look into it. Part of the problem I expect is that not all the chapters have web sites OR someone to contact by e-mail. This is rapidly changing but it DOES leave some people out of the loop. Its really funny how "being wired" used to be a nerdy kind of thing but now it is almost a requirement for organizations and getting that way for individuals. I saw your queries on the "yard" and figured someone there would know. I'll nail it down for you one way or another.

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/28/98 10:12:16 GMT

    STARRETT TOOL STEEL: Grant is right, they sold several varieties. My 10 year old catalog lists oil and air hardening tool steel and free a free machining low carbon silicon killed flat stock. I've used their oil hardening stock. Each package came with heat treating instructions. So does the Starrett Catalog.

    Quenching oil can be a wide variety oils including mineral oil, vegatable oil, motor oil and synthetic oils. I do not generally recomend motor oil due to the additives that produce carcenogenic smoke. A non-automotive sysnthetic oil is the best. Due to their high temperature charateristics they produce almost no smoke and little burns on to the part. Quench oil should be warmed (120º- 140ºF). I like to have a rack in my quench tank to prevent the part from resting on the bottom and cooling unevenly. The amount of oil needed is determined by the size of the part being quenched. A small part such as a 1" dia bushing can be quenched in a quart of oil but a part weighing several pounds may need 10 gallons or more. Industrial quench tanks often have heat exchangers to reduce the amount of oil needed.

    The oil hardening steel is uniformly heated to 1450º to 1500ºF and quenched. Temper at 985ºF for 1 hour for a 45HRC
    (A nice temper blue).

    The air hardening steel is uniformly heated to 1700º to 1800ºF. Heavier sections requiring the higher temperature. Cool in still air (again I recomend a rack). This steel's lowest recomended temper is 45HRC at 1200ºF. Temper for 2 hours. Double temper for maximum toughness.

    To hold the above temperatures requires a heat treating oven or furnace with accurate temperature controls.

    If you are making precision parts the steel grows larger during hardening. Air hardening the least, then oil and water hardening is the worst. Most precision parts are ground after hardening OR by a little trial and error you can compensate for the part growth. I've had water hardening parts as small a 1/2" grow .005"! The same part in oil hardening material will only grow about .0005 to .001. Its hard to measure the growth of small air hardening steel parts but they DO grow.

    And lastly, I highly recomend stainless steel foil for hardening finished parts. And if you want to really reduce that oxidation give the package a squirt of argon just before you seal it.

    NOTE: Heat treating is an art. Like a lot of things it takes practice and experiance. More machined parts are scraped at this stage of their manufacture than any other. If you have just a few parts to make I recomend a steel called Viscount 44. It is a preheat treateded H-13 tool steel that is just barely machinable. We've made a lot of critical parts out of this material to avoid two major steps. Heat treating and then grinding afterward.

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/28/98 11:18:38 GMT

    Viscount-44 is a product of Latrobe Steel, a Timken Co. (For those who told me Timken doesn't make their own steel, ha!)

    Latrobe Steel Co. - Tool steel chart

    When I said barely machinable that meant machinable with carbide for most work but possible with HSS IF you use lots of coolant and know how to make a chip. It can be turned, milled drilled and taped. And ground if you need.

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/28/98 11:33:55 GMT

    I snagged this off the ABANA site (hope it works):
    Quad State Round-Up - Miami County Fairgrounds, Troy, OH. Sponsor: Souther Ohio Forge & Anvil. Demonstrators: to be announced.  Larry Gindlesperger
    (leave a message)

    They really didn't have much of a calander. So would I get better response from the chapters than ABANA???

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/28/98 11:46:57 GMT

    WOW! I was just looking for a small bug in the page and tried IE (3.2) WHAT A SLOW *%$# at . I did find some hideous design erros in my form however so I will at least fix that. AND figure out why the colored ink quits about half way down the page. . . . IF you are using MS-IE you are NOT looking a a very pretty Internet. . .

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/28/98 17:12:33 GMT


    The local school district is auctioning off a Johnson model 122B. Any idea what this is, or what it might be worth.


    T. J. Marrone -- tjmarrone at Tuesday, 07/28/98 19:33:59 GMT

    Johnson makes industrial gas forges. The Centaur catalog just happens to have a model 122. Weighs 340 pounds and sells for $2,700-$3,000 US depending on the model. Used. . . Its worth whatever you can get. This is not a small box forge but a big table or console type. Its a nice piece of equipment. It may sell for a few hundred or less if no one is intrested. . .

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/28/98 20:16:47 GMT

    Hi. I am interested in blacksmithing. I have a small farm and have a need for repairing farm tools. I would like to get started in some metalworking and have had no experience and would like to learn some basic skills. I am also interested in purchasing an anvil and would like to know what type, what weight, and where is the best place to get one ? Can you steer me in the right direction in how to learn the basics ? I live in central Florida. Thanks. Ray

    Ray Aquilina -- dexnib at Tuesday, 07/28/98 20:56:23 GMT

    I have a man that wants to exchange johnson furnaces with me. He has a 6"x6"x36" interior and I have a 16"x13"x10" interior. My principal use is for sword and knife work, but I want to be able to make other things as well. What are your thoughts on the trade? Should it be an even trade or should I require more barter?

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Tuesday, 07/28/98 22:12:01 GMT

    Chris, I can't really guide you here. However, here are my thoughts. Assuming both are the type with a door. Yours is a more universal size and has more total volume. His is designed for long work which you seem intrested in. Neither forge is actually good for "general" work since once something long is bent or scrolled it won't fit in either. If both were in the same condition yours is probably worth more.

    Johnson also makes a trough or table type forge (Models 122-123) that are better for general smithing but not as good for heat treating or doing small work as the enclosed types.

    I'm not familiar with the long Johnson furnace but if you can shut off part with a brick and run one burner like on the NC furnaces then is would be more efficient for small work.

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/28/98 22:33:10 GMT

    Ray, Getting started: There is a nice article titled "Learning Blacksmithing" under 21st Century that covers it pretty well.
    One book I mentioned is no longer in print (Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork) and doesn't really apply to farm repairs. I'd suggest ordering the books mentioned from Centaur Forge and getting a catalog from them. Centaur's catalog is an education in itself.

    I never recomend less than a 100 pound anvil. You can do with less but it doesn't pay. You DO NOT want a farriers anvil, these are mostly horn and heal and are very springy. There is a BUNCH of info on anvils under 21st Century. Read that and then come back and ask about what you don't understand. The books mentioned in the learning article are also very helpful in this reguard.

    You've made a good start by finding anvilfire! We are constantly adding plans and articles to the page so come back often. If you have more questions or run into problems along the way please feel free to ask for help. That's what we are here for.

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/28/98 22:48:39 GMT

    A little more on E.D.M. machines. Although they seem a little slow, they can be left running unattended for hours at a time. I often leave mine running at night and when I come in the next morning all I have is a little finish work to do. It's also the only way to get some shapes.

    Sound to me like a Johnson forge rather than a furnace. If it is a long trough with a suspended lid it may work well for your work. Although you can't block any of the burners you can brick up around the lid to conserve heat. You can also remove the lid and build almost any cavity with loose brick.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Tuesday, 07/28/98 22:59:18 GMT

    Thanks for the Quad State conference date info. As the Florida newsletter editor two years ago I recieved newsletters from many of the chapters. I relied on the Indiana Chapter newsletter's date for Quad State and ended up there a week early along with half a dozen other folks from around the country. You know the saying "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!'

    Bill -- applecross1 at Wednesday, 07/29/98 00:46:01 GMT

    Bill, I hope that info is right. All I did was pull it from the ABANA site. A good annual schedule would be good but I've currently got about 10 ideas in progress for the page that I am already behind on. I love to post it if someone else would collect the data. Would post banners and links to the Chapter sites on the same page. Helping the ABANA chapters will only help me in the long run.

    -- guru Wednesday, 07/29/98 01:18:19 GMT

    ANVILS (T.J.): About that Vulcan anvil you posted for sale. The only note I can find on Vulcan anvils in the Postman book says some were made by Columbus Forge and Iron who made forged anvils. However, this indicates that Vulcan did'nt make their own anvils so it is possible they sold cast anvils too. Forging flash lines can look like mold parting lines. I'd look a little closer.

    Easy test for cast iron: Drill a small spot (in the bottom). If the chips stay together and curl it is wrought. If they are crumbly almost dust like it is cast. Use lots of pressure and a relatively small drill so you aren't mislead by bad drilling practice.

    -- guru Wednesday, 07/29/98 14:11:08 GMT

    Dear Mr Dempsey,

    Love the web site, especially your "Just Do It" note. It's very apt as far as I'm concerned as this is my first time building and running my own forge. I could do with a little advice on some points about the forge that I have just built. I have read "most" of your site, I keep finding new bits hidden all over the place.

    Here's my problem. I have built a version of your lorry brake drum forge (very think steel 20mm) and have welded a plate in the bottom of it as there was a large hole. In this plate I have drilled out a hole about 25mm in diameter and use this as the air hole. In your plans your don't mention what should go inside the forge if anything. What I have done is to welding on a tube to raise the fire up in the centre of the forge instead of it being low down at the bottom of the forge. This works great but I think it needs to be longer still as I can't get longer rods heated in the middle. But my problem is that I'm getting a lot of clinker build up around the top of the extra tube and it has almost filled in the hole at the base. This is after only 4 firings during each of which I tried to get as much out whilst it was still hot.

    What I'm after are suggestions as to how to keep the clinker build up from happening, should I cut out the extra pipe altogether, without the extra pipe how can I get the fire to burn higher up the forge so that I can heat more difficult sizes of work? I'm using a hot air paint stripper as an air blower. Would this effect anything? (The preheated air seems to work well! It's about 500C when it gets to the forge.)

    Any help for a beginner would be great.

    Yours truly,

    Peter Brookes

    Cupid -- cupid at Wednesday, 07/29/98 17:52:00 GMT

    FORGE PROBLEMS (Cupid): You don't want the fire higher for long work you generally want it deeper so it spreads out. Your center hole size is a little small and will cause a "focused" fire. Normally the inlet on coal forges is 1-1/2" to 2" (40 to 50 mm). With this size opening you need to use egg size coal although I've used stoker without too much loss.

    Your extension tube is OK but it needs to be larger in diameter and probably shorter (about 1" (25mm). The extension helps keep the fire from being directly on the fire pot. However, this type "nozzle" relys on incomming air to cool it. Your hot blast is probably contributing to it clogging up. I'd remove the tube.

    These forges are generally a "quick and dirty" unit to build and I did forget to mention the possibility of a grate or blast valve. To keep so much coal from falling into the tuyere comercial forges have a "clinker breaker ball". This is a piece that fits between the flange on the tuyere. It is a rod you can twist (pivots) with a triangular shaped piece of iron on the center. When the point is UP the fire tends to focus. When the point is down and the flat is up the fire tends to spread. When ashes and clinkers build up you turn the handle to clear the opening. Sort of like the grate in a coal furnace.

    For the "brake drum forge" the easiest thing to do is to weld a piece of bar 1/2" (13mm) round or square across the center of the hole. This keeps so much coal from falling in the tuyere.

    Clinker buildup is determined by the quality of the coal and how clean you keep your fire pot. The rate of build up you mention is about normal. With good coal it will be less but it could be worse. There is a property of good coal that causes the clinker to consolidate. This is determined by the type of ash the coal produces.

    In forges the clinker generally forms a ring around the air blast that can be pulled out in one lump. After doing this a few times it is time to clean all the coal and ash from the fire pot. You can save and use the coal and especialy the coke but all the fines and ashes should be discarded.

    All this is part of "fire maintence" that every blacksmith learns the hard way. Every forge also has its own character and will require slightly different treatment too. Your experiance is not a lot different than many others.

    There is nothing wrong with the preheated air. Hot blast has been used since the early 1800's to improve efficiancy and increase the maximum temperature of coal furnaces. In cold weather it is often difficult to get a welding heat in an unheated shop and preheat is sometimes necessary on forges. For efficiency most hot blast comes from waste exhaust or "stack" heat. Some type of heat exchanger is used.

    In foundrys they ran the stack gases through a brick laberinth. When it was hot they would reverse the flow and run the blast through the laberinth and run the exhaust through another. Then they would switch back and forth as needed.

    Hope this helps.

    -- guru Wednesday, 07/29/98 19:28:57 GMT

    Bruce Lowery (Alumiloy): Somehow I missed your second post with specifics! I'm very sorry. I will check it out ASAP!

    To ALL: Its a good thing it is close to the end of the month as its archival time again! Starting to think I need to do it weekly so the files don't get so big!

    -- guru Wednesday, 07/29/98 19:34:40 GMT


    When I called my welding supplier about this stuff he had a real belly laugh! Said he'd seen the commercials and that nothing he ever heard of did what they claimed. I told him that was what I thought and needed a second opinion. Then I did my homework. I checked their "facts" against the ASM Metals Reference Book, 2nd Ed.

    I checked out the site you listed and can honestly say this stuff is BS and that the people selling it are not very technically astute.
  • FACT: The melting temperature given is the same as common SAE925 Zinc casting alloy. This is an item they claim it works on. The part will melt and collapse at this temperature.
  • FACT: Their "Technical information" sheet is full of gross errors. They list a density number that has nothing to do with any known unit but then list a specific gravity equal to the same SAE925 zinc alloy mentioned above. Lets not tell them what is wrong with this OK :)
  • FACT: Several of the mechanical properties they list are also exactly equal to SAE925 zinc while others use odd mixed units that do not jive with the known universe.
  • FACT: They list Bell Telephone Laboratories as the source of the dubious "technical information". Since these folks no longer exist its kind of hard to verify that they ever did a metalurgical analysis on this product.
  • You already said it, "It sounds too good to be true". And you know what they say about that.

    -- guru Wednesday, 07/29/98 20:51:36 GMT

    If it sounds to good to be true, it is. (grin)

    Go get em, Guru!

    The discussion on Berrilium Bronze alloy over on the yard is most informative. Can you do a cross post to the guru's page?

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 07/29/98 23:19:31 GMT

    ANVILS (Jock) You were to quick in looking up the "Vulcan" anvils in Mr. Postman's book. The article about Vulcan starts on page 204 and ends on page 211. The 300# one is described on page 210.

    T. J. Marrone -- tjmarrone at Thursday, 07/30/98 00:41:08 GMT

    Hmmm, Too many hours staring at the computer screen and when I looked in the index I only saw one line. . . .

    Just saw anvilfire on my brother's big Mac. What a dissapointment. HTML realy needs some way to dynamically size these boxes. . . Probably is an I haven't found it. . (Missed that line too).

    -- guru Thursday, 07/30/98 03:44:06 GMT

    BRASS & BRONZE: Sintered bearing bronze is porous and is permeated with oil under pressure. Obviously you don't want to try to forge this!

    Free machining varieties of brass (the most common avail.) have lead in them just like leaded steel. Makes it machine like butter but the brass doesn't forge worth a darn. Leaded brass must be forged on the low low side of its forging range. If its over heated just a little the lead liquifies and the brass falls apart. It doesn't melt, just falls apart. I've posted photos of a huge job Josh Greenwood did using this material.

    The best forging brass that you can be sure is NOT leaded is brazing rod. I've forged a ton of it. I heat it on a brick with a torch. When it flashes a white hazy color it hot enough. I've made basket
    twists, ram's heads and chandeliers with it. If you search it is available up to 3/8" (10mm) dia. I'll post some photos of this type work in a day or so.

    That beryilium bronze (AMPCO?)? Watch it! Berylium is lethal. Dust causes flu like symptoms that become pnemonia (sp) a condition known as "berylliosis". Mis-diagnosed and treated with anti-biotics and you are dead! As mentioned, a lot of bronze non-sparking tools are made of it. Everything from common wrenches to barrel bung wrenches is made of it. If its a tool and red bronze, don't recyle it!

    If you are going to buff or polish any metal wear a dust mask and have good ventilation. Copper is a poison too!

    -- guru Thursday, 07/30/98 08:09:16 GMT

    I need to re-shape several stone-hammers. My customers want them as close to original possible. How can I achieve the strongest temper without causing the edge to suffer. The hammers are used to split stone. I am a novice to blacksmithing but I do have some "old-timers" helping me along

    Scott -- MSB168 Thursday, 07/30/98 13:25:04 GMT

    Scott, this is a tricky job. For one thing this type of tool could have been made of a variety of steels, each one requiring a slightly different treatment. Old tools are made of straight carbon steels that are fairly predictable. Tools made since the early part of this century are likely alloy steels that require different heat treating.

    First, any cracked, or mushroomed areas should be cut off. Mushrooming can be removed with a heavy angle grinder. This is a good method because you can see cracks that may extend beyond the mushroomed area as blue temper lines on the surface as you grind. If there are a lot of cracks, that portion (as much as 1/2" [13mm]) may have to be removed. This is common of tools that are struck.

    Second, you must be sure not to overheat the steel. Tool steels are forged at lower temperature than common mild steel (about 2000, to 2200 deg.F - an orange heat). After forging the tool should be evenly heated to a red heat and then left to cool, preferably in a bed of wood ashes or quick lime. This combination of heat and slow cool reduces forging stress in the part and then anneals it prior to hardening. The tool may need to cool overnight in the insulation of ashes or lime.

    Third, you can now dress the softened tool with a file. Chamfer or round edges that don't need to be sharp and sharpen those that do.

    Continued on next post. . .

    -- guru Thursday, 07/30/98 16:24:12 GMT

    HARDENING and TEMPERING (Fourth): The tempering should be done immediately after hardening. Tool steels can be oil quenched OR water quenched to harden depending on the type of steel. I always reccomend an oil quench "test" first. If the tool is hard enough (you can test with a file) then the quench was sufficient. If it doesn't harden then water quench. If you water quench an oil quench steel most will crack or even shatter. This is the problem with not knowing what kind of steel you are dealing with. Both water or oil should be warm. For oil quenching parts this size you are going to need several gallons or more.

    Parts are hardened by heating up to the "transformation" range, a red heat or when it has become non-magnetic. It is best to harden on a "rising" heat rather than overheating and hardening on a falling heat. The entire tool should be heated evenly and then quenched. The part can be stired around in the quench or left to rest on a rack some distance off the bottom of the quench tank.

    Last, tempering. This is best done in a temperature controlled furnace where the part may be held at the tempering temperature for up to two hours. Double tempering is allowing the part to cool and then reheating up to the temper temperature. Depending on the steel and the hardness desired the temper temperature may be anything from 350 to 1200 degrees F. Stone working tools are tempered at the hard end of the scale. If judging by temper colors this is a "straw yellow to bronze" (450 to 500 degrees F.). However, to "run the colors" you must grind or polish the surface of the part. A fine belt sander works well for this.

    Continued on next post. . .

    -- guru Thursday, 07/30/98 16:52:39 GMT

    TEMPERING w/o a FURNACE (by temper colors):

    The best way to achieve an even temper temperature in a part is to heat a much larger piece of steel up to the desired temperature with the part to be tempered sitting on it. The large mass acts as a buffer and stores the heat necessary to hold the part a temperature for more than a few minutes. You can grind a clean spot on on the large mass to check the temperature.

    NOTE: Temper colors are an oxidation process on the surface of steel parts. Once achieved they do not go back down the scale on cooling. A good tool for determining the temperature of a part as it cools are Tempil temperature crayons or sticks. You can get them from industrial suppliers or order them from Centaur Forge.

    Tempil sticks melt a different temperatures. A selection are generally required and they come in different colors indicating the temperature they melt at. As the part is heated you occasionaly test the part with the Tempil stick. When it makes a wet streak the part is at or above the temperature rating for the stick.

    If you want to study this subject in depth the Jack Andrews book NEW Edge of the Anvil has a good section on hardening and tempering with charts and graphs. You should also have a MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK as a reference in these matters. Machinery's has heat treating information on a wide range of steels besides a ton of information on all metal shop related subjects.

    -- guru Thursday, 07/30/98 17:12:01 GMT

    Re: Parting line on anvil
    I agree that it's sometimes hard to tell a flash line from a parting line but,I've never seen or heard of an anvil of any real size being drop forged. I'd say if there was any sort of parting line that it was cast. People with 40,000 pound hammers don't forge anvils. All the forged anvils I've seen were open die forged.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Thursday, 07/30/98 21:27:12 GMT

    Although I was wrong on the Vulcan, Columbus Iron and steel did forge their anvils in dies the same way Peddinghuas currently does. In two pieces and then welding them at the waist. The base having natural draft doesn't have a die line but depending on the size the top may have a flash line on horn and heal if not ground completely off.

    The question that comes to mind is whether or not Peddinghaus uses the same steel for top and base. I don't see any reason the base couldn't be mild steel.

    -- guru Thursday, 07/30/98 22:29:19 GMT

    Two piece makes sense. Think I may have seen that. Actually that make a couple of pieces pretty easy to open die forge too.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Thursday, 07/30/98 22:53:10 GMT

    Somthing I've considered before is forging the top half and using a large shaft for the bottom that goes all the way to the floor, with maybe a baseplate to bolt it down or even a swivel base.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Thursday, 07/30/98 22:58:49 GMT

    Super heavy wall tubing would give it more wheel base and be less springy. Stuff is more expensive than solid though. I can see where this anvil might easily get too heavy!

    Can't believe I said that. . . :)

    -- guru Thursday, 07/30/98 23:54:56 GMT

    An anvil get TOO heavy???????????????

    Guru, have you lost it????

    I don't NEED a 500 lb anvil, but I'd love to HAVE a 500 lb anvil. (grin) Might be a way to have the biggest tool in town! (bigger grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 07/31/98 01:31:32 GMT

    Jock, Peddinghaus uses the the same steel on the top of their anvils as they do the bottom. Yes, Peddinghaus does weld their anvils at the waist. They also weld the upsetting block on their 275Lbers., making the 275Lb. anvil a three piece. I do beleive that Peddinghaus drop forges and presses the parts for their anvils and then welds them together

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Walmetalwk at Friday, 07/31/98 01:49:40 GMT

    Thanks Guru for recommending Machinery's Handbook and John Pepon for posting . I found a very nice 11 edition for $30. It is a book like I have never seen. Incredible wealth of info. Guru, Is the 11 ed. current enough? There seems to be a lot of metals not listed or maybe I just havent found them yet. I didnt see 5160 listed, and some 10XX. Were these developed after the edition I have was published? Trivial questions, but Im curious. Thanks again.

    Randall Guess -- rguess at Friday, 07/31/98 14:03:09 GMT

    MACHINERY'S 11th Edition was published in 1942. Yes, a LOT of steels have been developed since then. My 18th edition includes 5160 but I couldn't tell you what edition it first appeared. However, your 18th has excelent articles on babbiting and other subjects useful to blacksmiths that have been left out of the more recent editions and replaced by articles on CAD-CAM, metric gearing and such.

    I'm planning a comparitive review of the Machinery's I have on hand (5th, 11th, 13th - my Dad's, 18th, 23rd and 24th). It probably won't get into the details of which steels are listed but that is an idea. Been hoping to pick up a few more but haven't had the $$$. Would have jumped on that 11th otherwise!

    I envy your "mint" 11th. Mine is a rather ragged edition I traded a new 23rd for. Turns out the machinist was illiterate and couldn't appreciate the changes! I expect he had a fit finding the numerical data he COULD use since the newer edition was rearranged considerably.

    -- guru Friday, 07/31/98 14:54:01 GMT

    I would like to know the best way to get started in setting up a forge and doing some basic work as a beginner. What materials and equipment does one start with, what kind of an area is required, what facilities, what books, etc. In my case, I would like to set up a forge and, to start with, I have many tools to sharpen; picks, diging bars, etc.

    Glen Tarleton -- tarlem at Friday, 07/31/98 18:10:59 GMT

    Guru - just made it online, just found your site (love it), and just found the conversation on the Lagrange-Hoho "Water Pail Forge" - don't know how to tell how recent this conversation was - try to drag up what info i remember - the gasses produced in electrolysis of water are oxygen and hydrogen - either if contained in high concentration are dangerous, but probably not in a water forge setup (quick dispersal). Any dissolvable material will add ions to the water (interestingly enough, pure water is a bad conductor of electricity - its the ions that get ya) - salt and baking soda are both cheap, easy, and reasonably effective - can't remember if too much of these ions would slow the process - I wouldn't think so... Now having muddied the waters, i'm outta here...

    Walter -- wendyandwalter at Friday, 07/31/98 19:14:10 GMT

    GETTING STARTED (Glen): Look at the article under 21st Century, Learing Blacksmithing. It doesn't apply to every case but it is a start. Then look at the Brake Drum Forge on the plans page. It is a cheap and primitive start. Soon we will have more sophisticated plans for coal and gas and oil forges.

    Where to setup? Good question. If you are going to burn coal you will need very good ventilation or a very good chiminey. A car-port or garage are good for the hobbiest and many work in the open or under a tarp. A 10x10 space is about the minimun. Here are a few of the hazzards you need to look out for.

  • Coal smoke stinks, doesn't all go up the chimney on most forges, so should not be used in a basement shop. Gas forges while clean DO produce carbon monoxide and also need excellent ventilation.

  • Forging scatters hot scale and sparks in a circle around the anvil and will burn wood or linoleum tiles. It can also set dry grass on fire. Keep a pail of water handy!

  • Grinding sparks (You WILL end up with a grinder) embed themselves in wood, glass and vinyl then rust leaving stains on those surfaces and can ruin your windshield or car finish!

  • Ditto arc welding sparks. They are more likely to be a fire hazzard (all sparks are) too.

  • Scale (burned iron oxide) is black (therefore BLACKsmithing!) and makes a dirty mess. Your shop may start clean. . .

  • So, find yourself a spot you don't mind smoking up, burning up, trashing the walls and windows while not filling your house with smoke. Yep, the back yard starts looking pretty good. . .

    Finding anvilfire was a good start! Check out some of the books I've recommended (there are reviews on the Bookshelf) and then feel free to ask most questions. Thats what I'm here for!

    -- guru Friday, 07/31/98 22:16:16 GMT

    LaGrange-Hoho: Walter, I still want to setup and do some R&D on this lost process. I think that combined with some safety devices and modern materials that this process might have some intriguing possibilities.

    You don't want to use salt water in an electrolitic reaction. You get chlorine gas from one electrode! I did that experiment when I was a 13 year old kid. I think you get sodium hydroxide precipitate and a little oxygen from the other electrode. Hard to test for the oxygen but chlorine is easy to detect with your nose in very small quantites!

    The trick is to find an electrolyte that acts as a flux/cleaning agent.

    -- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:01:04 GMT

    Jock, Years ago i built a Hydroxy generator, and managed to use it to run a car, (well idle anyway) the process was similar to that you describe, also whilst in the jewellery trade i often used cyanide electo stripping baths (also bomstripping baths with hydrogen) the electoletyc stripping baths used iron rods, and if i remember correctly if you turned the thing up to high the rods melted off and the pice of jewellery fell to the bottom of the tank. BTW: i learnt a valuble lesson, DONT clean the hollow bracelets in Pickle Solution/ sulfuric directly after stripping.!! makes hydrocyonic gas.

    In the Hydrogen Generator, i used .. 240V DC, and nickel electrodes, these were placed in a 5% sulfuric solution. worked well but gives off heaps of heat!!. (the gas burns well to).

    Andrew Hooper -- administrator at Saturday, 08/01/98 00:33:18 GMT

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