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Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question. He or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

Please read the Guidelines before posting a question.

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

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

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

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

    -- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
    PABA meet next weekend! Anvilfire will be there! May take a few days to get the "NEWS" up but there WILL be photos and more!

    August 22 at Fischer Forge in Hamburg, PA.


    -- guru Sunday, 08/16/98 18:54:51 GMT

    Andrew asks, "I know its a silly question but is there a recommended length for the handle on a 3lb cross peen hammer? The one I use has a short handle, the one I just picked up has a long handle, both work fine but I find myself holding the new one half way down the handle."

    It is NOT a silly question.

    People that "push" the hammer use a short handle. People that swing a fast finger tip balanced hammer use a long handle. Novices using too big a hammer for their strength and skill level choke up on the handle. If you are using a power hammer or doing relatively small work you don't need a 3lb (or 4lb) hammer. 2 to 2-1/2 is better.

    Pushing the hammer will end up giving you a bad elbow problem and cut your smithing carreer short. Some folks manage to do it a long time but it is problematic for most of us and tendonitus is likely. Practice hammering with the hammer balanced between thumb and forefinger. Use velocity, not brute force. When your arm gets tired quit before you hurt yourself. I recomend starting with a small hammer (18-24oz) and working up.

    There are a lot of very good smiths that have developed the strength to push a heavy hammer using short strokes. Some full time smiths can get away with this but they are rare. This is a subject that many have a distinct opinion on and the arguments can be endless. However, physics says a small fast hammer can perform the same work as a large slow hammer.

    My personal technique varies between swinging when I am fresh and pushing when I am tired (when I should quit). I also use a loose sliding technique where I let the hammer almost leave my hand at the top of the stroke to grab it at the very end for speed and then change position near the bottom of the stroke preparing for the next swing (result of too many years using an axe). This is tricky and I would have to hunt up a lighter hammer since I have spent way too many hours at the keyboard recently!

    I also like to use common "factory" hammers as they are easy to replace. However, I think I am going to start making my own straight peen hammers with a smooth ovoid peen. Just an idea I wnat to try. . .

    -- guru Sunday, 08/16/98 23:03:31 GMT

    Guru, Do you know of anyone who is selling scrolling forks? Several welders have told me that they bought theirs through a catalogue but they can't remember the name of the company.

    Bill -- applecross1 at Monday, 08/17/98 00:42:06 GMT

    Scrolling Fork (Bill): I looked in the Centaur and King Supply catalogs and didn't find anything. Centaur may have carried them (or DO and they aren't in the current catalog). They have everything else!

    I always made my own. Since I scroll hot I make them out of mild steel. For cold scrolling I would use material from an old wrecking bar (3/4 hex SAE 5160). Cut, bend and weld a second "finger" on. Some of my mild steel ones have had the handle end drawn out with a ball end. Tapering them makes them lighter for the length AND adds length for leverage. The fingers should be no longer than needed for strength (about 1-1/2" Max). The welded on finger should be upset to produce a robust joint. I arc weld mine but they could be forge welded as well.

    -- guru Monday, 08/17/98 04:01:18 GMT

    David B. asked in the prior archive, "I have found a good supply of L7 steel and l'm not sure what the best method of heat treating it is? I understand it has Nickel in it. Any ideas would be of great help."

    L7 heat treatment is not listed in my ASM Metals book but L6 is. These alloys are listed as Low-alloy special-purpose steels. And L7 is listed as a steel no longer in use.

    L6 is heated slowly and hardened at 1450-1550F. Oil quenched and tempered in the range of 350 to 500F.

    L7 is listed as a very high carbon steel with a full 1% Carbon. .4% Mo, 1.40% Cr and .35%Mn. As a super high carbon steel it probably needs to be hardened at the higher end of the scale or a little more. Say closer to 1575F.

    This very high carbon content means that the steel must be handled carefully and can be tempered to a wide range of hardneses.

    Sorry it took me a while to get around to this. My ASM Metals Reference Book was burried in the van. . .

    -- guru Monday, 08/17/98 04:26:27 GMT

    Hi i got your site by Rick he send me here ... and he says that you can answer to me question better than he ...
    I'm totally news in blacksmitting ... but if that can help you to make your mind ... i've built my own forge with a brake drum !!! dont laught that work well ... but i need to know what kind of combustible i had to keep a warm fire and also what kind of metal i can use to forge a sword ... cause i'm a medieval maniac ... and i know is more than one type of metal to forge a sword so name me two or tree who is good too ...

    tanks ... and i wait to your response

    Jonathan Boulay -- xsoldier at Monday, 08/17/98 04:28:05 GMT

    Jonathan, Brake drum forges are a good place to start but you may need something bigger (or at least longer) for making swords. Bituminous or "soft" coal is what you burn in most forges. Ask for stoker or "nut" coal. I'm not sure if they call the sizes the same in Canada but that is lumps of coal from 13mm to 50mm. Some places sell it as "blacksmithing" or "metalurgical" coal.

    For practice you should forge your first sword(s) from mild steel (SAE 1018 - 1020). It is easy to work and is suitable for SCA style mock battle. It will not hold an edge very well but that is why it is practice material. You will need lots of forging practice before you make a good looking sword.

    Old automobile springs can be hardened and tempered into a fine sword. You can use leaf (flat) or coil (round) spring steel. Thin leaf springs from a small car like an MG make great knives, chisels and swords.

    Classic medieval swords are made from several types of steel forge welded together. A low or medium carbon steel (SAE 1034 or 4140) for the center and a high carbon steel (SAE 1080) for the edge. You will need a LOT of practice forge welding before attemping this style blade.

    THEN, There is the fancy Damascus (laminated pattern welded steel) blade. These are made with a fancy center section and a finer grained higher carbon edge. This is the highest of the art and may take years to achieve.

    If your sword is mostly for looks and play, Aluminium can be sawed and filed to shape. It will easily take a mirror finish. A LOT of the swords you see in the movies are aluminium. Good alloys are 2024 or 6061T6.

    You may want to read up on blacksmithing and then bladesmithing. I reccomend Jack Andrew's NEW Edge of the Anvil and Jim Hrisoulas' The Complete Bladesmith to start. Both are available from Centaur Forge. Ask for a catalog when you order the books and tell them I sent you.

    -- guru Monday, 08/17/98 05:15:11 GMT

    Guru: That L7 looks a lot like 52100. Don't know the effect of the Mo. on the AC3, but if neglible, then the austenizing temp will effect the MS and MF temps.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Monday, 08/17/98 05:29:52 GMT

    David (more L7): The AC3 is the transformation point or where steel becomes nonmagnetic austenite and hardenable. Ms and Mf are where martensite starts and finishes forming (hard steel).

    52100 does look like L7 with out the Mo and is hardened at 1415F, much lower than the 1575F I stated. I was guessing at the higher temp based on the Tempil chart that shows an upward spike for steels with more than .85% carbon. In any case you want the point where the steel becomes nonmagnetic.

    NOW, the ASM Heat Treater's Guide says 1550 to 1700F for L2 (L7 being a grade of L2 with high carbon). It also reccomends normalizing after forging and before hardening. After the quench it should not be allowed to cool below 140F and be tempered immediately.

    -- guru Monday, 08/17/98 06:14:15 GMT

    TO ALL: I'm off for another two weeks drilling holes and installing hydroturbines! Will take a break in the middle to go to the PABA Hammer-In. Hopefully I will get my out-of-town connection working!

    -- guru Monday, 08/17/98 06:18:28 GMT

    Concerning Texas coal again.....the coal scuttle had Nick Brumder listed twice as a source of coal in Texas. I talked to Nick and he doesn't sell coal nor does he know where to get it. I have found two Conroe and in Azle, but both sell the PA stuff...would like to find better. Should I get a big truck and go to Tenn.

    Ken Seabourn -- forge at Monday, 08/17/98 15:31:30 GMT

    Coal varries from mine to mine and even seam to seam but PA coal is some of the best in the world. Thanks, I'll get the Coal Scuttle straightened out.

    -- guru Monday, 08/17/98 18:22:07 GMT


    As the guru says, PA coal is some of the best in the world. But what I use comes from W. Va. It's got a fair amount of sulphur in it, bus so does the PA coal. The coal at the ABANA conference in Ashevill this year came from the same supplier I get mine from.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 08/17/98 18:36:23 GMT

    I get some great coal from The Coal Yard, that you all have listed under" Indiana" in the Coal Shuttle...W.Va coal.

    Dave Curtis -- DCurtis176 at Tuesday, 08/18/98 01:35:40 GMT

    In regards to my question on tempering steel. l'm sorry to say that l make a mistake when l sent that. lt is in fact L-6 steel. l'm glad you had me covered on both though. l'm currently using it to forge a wonderful Damascus steel with a great contrast between layers. l do believe that this is the nickel in it. Last nite l forged a blade of over 200 layers 22" long with 12 full twist in it. After surface grinding it and etching it l was speachless. On another note l've done Cable knives for friends and such but finding good cable sometimes is a problem. l had someone give me some 1" cable but is was rather rusty. l cut it into 10" pieces and then submerged it in Muratic Acid for 20 min. lt came out totally clean and ready to forge. Anyone having trouble getting cable might try this. Oh, make sure your cable is all steel and doesn't have a rope or plastic core in it!!.


    David B -- Outrage806 at Tuesday, 08/18/98 03:03:53 GMT

    DAVID B : Congradulations on your 22" L6 twisted damascus blade. Would be interested to know if it twisted during heat treat.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 08/18/98 04:51:42 GMT

    I have been slobbering all over the idea of a powerhammer ever since I got to use one at a workshop. But I have a question. I am a sometime/partime knife and tool maker. Would a treadle hammer do me as well as a powered hammer? While I can't really justify buying a powerhammer (unless one of those deals-of-a-lifetime happens my way) I could probably build a treadle or a JYH (with a little help from my friends), so, in the considered opinion of the local community, which would be better for my purposes?

    Thanks for all the help mid 70's and cloudy in Seattle

    Geoff Keyes -- timour at Tuesday, 08/18/98 19:56:52 GMT

    Treadle or power? (Geoff):

    There is no substitute for power! A treadle hammer free's your hands somewhat but the POWER comes from you. It should be fairly easy to add Grant Sarver's JYH#2 mechanism to a treadle though. This pulls the helve down by momentarily engaging a piece of V-belt in a motor pulley. The design secret is, you need a spring between the belt and the helv so that you don't stall the motor with a suddenly applied load. Grant used bungy cords but a heavy screen door spring would work. A lever with a needle bearing roller was used to press the belt into the pulley. The pulley wants to be as small as possible and the motor could be anywhere from 1/3HP up.

    As you can see I've got a connetion. It is somewhat tenous though. Some IO port conflict that doesn't seen to remain constant! DOn't ya' LOVE IT! :)

    -- guru Tuesday, 08/18/98 21:49:15 GMT

    Geoff: JYH is good too! I just thought I'd mention you can have both in one machine for flexability.

    OBTW- DO NOT USE LEAD FILLED TREADLE RAMS. There is absolutely NO excuse for using lead. Steel is heavy, cheap easily cut drilled and welded and does not pose an envirmental risk. The whole LEAD WEIGHT mentality is DUMB! The Nuclear guys are just as dumb about it and keep using lead when they DO NOT NEED TO. Steel is just as good a radiation shielding too given an equal mass! Get the lead out!

    -- guru Tuesday, 08/18/98 21:56:37 GMT

    Grandpa, to answer your question about the twist. l've never had a blade twist during heat treating. l understand you make Damascus, might l share with you and others a trick that works very nice to do twist work. l got an old powervise from a friend of mine. You know they use them to thread pipe. Make sure your piece is very hot and then insert your piece and hold the end with a pipe wrench and hold on when you hit the switch.

    David B -- Outrage806 at Tuesday, 08/18/98 22:40:02 GMT

    David, grandpa (Daryl Meier) not only makes Damascus he's really IS a legend in the field. His production of the "George Bush Bowey" presentation knife proved that certain blades that were considered almost mythical could actually be made (the blade had the American Flag with ALL the stars and stripes and "USA" repeated 13 times (I think)). It had been over 170 years since Degrande-Gurgey produced a similar feat in 1817. Daryl was a member of the "Damascus Steel Reesearch Team" with Jim Wallace and Robert Griffith in the early 70's at the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. To say that grandpa "makes Damascus" is quite an understatement.

    I expect he asked about twisting because the different materials in the laminate shrink differently when hardened. The tension tends to cause blades to twist either durring hardening or tempering unless the forces are very carefully balanced.

    Power twisting is good, however I recomend that the work be clamped while twisting. Holding on to a wrench attached to a machine that produces thousands of foot pounds of torque is very dangerous! If you try a piece too big or let it get cold you will be in big trouble. The machine should also be wired with a "dead man" switch so that when you let go it stops.

    My modem trouble seems to have been a bad slot in an OLD mother board. . . Still TOO muggy after a HOT day in Petersburg, VA

    -- guru Wednesday, 08/19/98 00:10:26 GMT

    !YEAH! I just love this lead filled hammer stuff. If it's so great for forging why don't they use a lead filled hand hammer? The ancient Greeks made their plumbobs from lead because they thought it hung straighter!!! Their name for lead was plumbum that's why it's chemical symbol is Pb, hence plumbob and plumber, not to mention plumb stupid!

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Wednesday, 08/19/98 00:20:11 GMT


    I gave my opinion on the power vs treadle hammer over on the Junkyard, so let me just re-iterate here that I agree with the guru and with Grant.

    As far as lead goes, I've got several hundred pounds to make into fishing weights, if anybody wants them. But it ain't a hammer, no rebound! Hammers made with lead or lead shot filling are called "dead blow" hammers for a reason.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 08/19/98 01:33:55 GMT

    Scrolling Forks. Get an old grader blade from local highway dept. , constuction co. , or scrapyard. cut out wanted shape of forks with torch and leave enough on end to draw out for handle. clean up around forks with grinder and file. flatten handle a little to give more control and strength. with normal use, hot or cold, it will outlast you. Smokey.

    Smokey Wednesday, 08/19/98 03:01:51 GMT

    GURU: You expected exactly right about my question to David. In a twisted laminated bar the expansion/contraction/transformation forces are running diagonally across the bar and in the OPPOSIT direction on the other side!!! Impossible to harden without twisting.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 08/19/98 04:59:30 GMT

    I recently aquired a forge and hand cranked blower from my local junkyard and was wondering if anyone has any information on it. The blower has listed on it CANEDY OTTO MFG CO CHICAGO HIGHTS. It may have been used for railroad work(just a guess) any info would be appriciated greatly. Of course the best part is I picked up both the forge(little or no repair needed) and Blower for just 15$!!! They didn't know what they had!!
    Warm and Sunny here in Kansas four state area---just right to fire up the forge!

    Allman -- allman at Wednesday, 08/19/98 14:19:22 GMT

    Then again, at $15.00 maybe they DID know what they had! Among blacksmiths the demand may be high, but until a blacksmith walks in the door it's just junk! Good find!

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Thursday, 08/20/98 01:05:35 GMT

    Jock: the anvil of my power hammer is hollow, (remember its only a prototype at the moment) i wanted to deaden the ring/reverb when the hammer hit it.. Rather than fill it with LEAD how about sand :) or oil? just a thought... the next unit will be solid!. hmmm theres an idea, hollow hammer, low transportation weight, when you get to the destination fill the sucker with oil or water. and away you go, when finished just purge the liquid and you have a light habber again...

    Andrew Hooper -- administrator at Thursday, 08/20/98 02:12:45 GMT

    Still looking for good coal in Texas...but this time I do have a tech question. I have an old 25 lb little giant, broke the spring first time I used it...replaced the spring and installed a quard. Tried to adjust it but it still does the hula occasionally. My question is...would installing a shock absorber in there somewhere take some of the convulsions out of it?? Thanks

    Ken -- forge at Thursday, 08/20/98 02:55:21 GMT

    What'sa "quard"??? Does it do the hula when you're forging hot iron, or just when you run it without any work in it? This is a serious question, I've seen people dry fire a hammer and condemn it because it dances, yet the hammer actually works fine with hot steel in it!

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Thursday, 08/20/98 03:33:31 GMT

    Grandpa, While l have read your input on this page l have never looked at your E mail address. Had l looked and seen your name l would have known you, "Grandpa" just didn't turn the light on. l've seen your work and have seen pictures of the blade with the flags. l respect your work and admire it. But are you saying that all twisted blades twist? Granted, l've had my share of heat treating suprises. But on blades of 8" or less l have had no problem. l've made pieces up to 24" but haven't treated because l didn't have a forge large enough to take them to temp. l do however do something to my steel during forging which no one else has told me they do or have l read of anyone doing what l do.
    One other thing for the Guru, you spoke of a way to start and run 3 phase motors with a bank of capacitors? is there any way you can send me a drawing of this setup? or if anyone has a drawing of just how a 3 phase convertor works send it to me. My father built electrical panels for 30 yr in a steel mill but he needs a drawing to understand "just what their doing in that box". Seems that ever electrican l talk to says the same thing, "l know you can do it, just don't know how" Can anyone help?

    Cool 65 degrees in Asheville

    David B -- Outrage806 at Thursday, 08/20/98 03:39:47 GMT

    Hi Jock
    I've been asked to braze a brass fitting for an old car at Ft. Edmonton. Is there a proper way to do this? I'm assuming the brazing rod melts at a lower temp than the brass, I wouldn't want the whole thing to turn into a puddle. ;-)

    Doug Hall -- dhall at Thursday, 08/20/98 14:56:32 GMT

    Guard..excuse the typo. And for other beginners (in blacksmithing) such as myself, the springs in little giants do break. And no, I do not "dry fire" a hammer....

    Ken -- forge at Thursday, 08/20/98 17:45:01 GMT

    Wasn't trying to be mean, couldn't figure out what your typo meant to say. Also I like to look for the simple answer first. If you believe you have the proper spring then you may need to adjust it tighter, after each adjustment you should lower the ram so the dies are about 1" apart. Guides should be free but not sloppy. Good luck!

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Friday, 08/21/98 01:53:40 GMT


    LITTLE GIANT HULA: Sometimes it can be adjusted out by playing with the stroke. Grandpa's comment about "dry firing" the hammer can be related to improper stroke (work height) adjustment. The spring preload can also sometimes be a cause. The spring should be tightened until the toggles are nearly horizontal. My opinion has always been that LG over rated their hammers and ran them too fast. Those setup to run slower than OEM specs tend to hula less. I've also found the hula to be related to variable friction. Keeping the guides well lubricated helps but changing lubricants can sometimes cause trouble by causing more friction (typical of heavy grease or sometimes new grease OR grease cooling off). Oil generally works better on the guides than grease. Most LG users eventually get a feel for their machine and it stops doing the hula. This is likely "touch" on the clutch or forcing the machine to run slower. My study of the JYH shock linkage indicates it adding a damper in the LG linkage would probably make the problem worse. The JYH shock linkage does a similar (less destructive) thing at high speed and stops when run slower.

    BRASS: Brasses melt pretty close to the same temperature. You can weld most cast brass with an oxyactylene torch using brazing rod as a filler (all close to same melting point). Its a little tricky due to the high thermal conductivity of the part but it can be done. A safer way to make a repair on a brass part that you may not want to actually melt the base metal is to silver solder it. Commom silver solders come close to matching brass in color but will be brighter with time as the brass oxidizes faster and darker than the silver/copper alloy.

    Lead is a good sound dampener but it STILL enviromentaly bad! In hollow vehical drive shafts that but a close fitting cardboard tube inside to stop ringing. Dry sand would would work. The Old BLue and BIG Blue hammers have places to fill the frame with sand to prevent ring and add cheap mass. Oil would be messy and possibly dangerous. Water might be a rust problem.

    -- guru Friday, 08/21/98 02:30:17 GMT

    CANEDY-OTTO: I have no personal experiance with their product but I was told by Bill Pieh of Centaur Forge that they made some of the best hardware he'd seen. Drop him a line. He may be intrested.

    Bill Pieh WPieh at

    GRANT: Thanks for the adjustment tips!

    3PH INVERTER: I have that info but currently have limited graphics capability from this location. A three phase motor can be used without capacitors by starting it with a manual starter (pull cord or small motor). The 3PH motor "inverter" is brought up to some minimum rotational speed and then the power turned on. The "inverter" is wired to single phase 220 and smaller 3PH motors wired to the three legs of the "inverter". Capacitor types are wired the same except that capictors are installed between one of the single phase legs and the "generated" leg. These start when power is applied but sizing the capacitors is a trick. Several years ago Fred Holder ran a series on motor/inverters. Maybe we could talk him into letting us rerun it on the net!

    TWISTED "DAMASCUS": Except for recognizing the why of grandpa's comment on the twisted blade warping problem I have no experiance in the field and will defer to those of you that do!

    -- guru Friday, 08/21/98 03:03:08 GMT

    David B : Yes, all single bars of laminated damascus, when twisted will twist passing through the transformation temperature. This occurs when cooling from forging temp., when annealing, and when hardening. AAAAAH warm days and cool nights in the heartland!

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Friday, 08/21/98 03:23:49 GMT

    I am new to blacksmithing and have just been given a very old anvil. I am trying to find out what a 1849 William Foster 118lbs anvil is made of. I want to repair the horn which is missing. I'm not even sure if the anvil is worth repairing.

    Thanks for the help.

    Mark Stevens -- alflower at Friday, 08/21/98 03:24:37 GMT

    For whatever its worth to the guy that asked the question. I just finished brazing some cast bronze finials to some scrolled 3/8 "mild steel and it's a bear because just as the rod gets hot enough the base starts melting away. I found that it helped to put a little extra flux between the two pieces and on the surface and start applying the heat to the rod just as the extra flux "glosses off" and play the heat on the rod. Also hope the coustomer doesn't bump the finials to hard:).

    Ron Hardy -- rhemail at flash .net Friday, 08/21/98 04:01:34 GMT

    Just droped by to say hey. Looks like things are picking up good over here. Whats cookin Jim? Nice weather over here in Md. cool and good for hammering. Best coal I have used is from greenmount fuel and coal. Talk to Ken. Hey Jock what's the best way to forge arrow heads the type with four edges or should I weld them together and hammer finish them.Got any suggestions, let me know. Hey Grant I finally got to see some of your work. Looks really great.
    Ya all take care Rick

    Rick -- rickyc at Friday, 08/21/98 06:57:52 GMT

    Mark, I think That William Foster anvil was made in Wales. Jim Wilson will probably have something to say about it since he has one. They are very good anvils. I'm told lots of anvils were "destroyed" during the American civil war by notching the horns and breaking them off! No fault of the anvil. . . Do not have confirmation on this story.

    Body should be wrought iron. Can be welded like steel except the impurities in wrought tend to do funny things and sometimes it acts like foam metal when arc welding and undercuts very bad.

    WELDING THAT BRASS: Like I said "tricky". I use a lot of torch movement once the bass metal is hot enough. Melt a little rod in and wave off the torch while the puddle cools just to freezing and then weld a little more and wave off again. Takes concentration and mhaving your face in the work. Forgot to mention the borax flux which is a bitch to remove afterwards. Silver solder flux is worse though.

    Arrow Head? Four sides? Not sure what shape you are speaking of Rick.

    OFF to DC to photograph Josh's National Cathedral Railing then PA for the PABA meet! A good Blacksmith's weekend road trip!

    -- guru Friday, 08/21/98 11:13:36 GMT


    IF that William Foster anvil was made in Wales, it's PROBABLY a good anvil. I don't know that I'd try repairing, or replacing the horn, though. Might just grind the area where it was flat and use it without a horn. Jock can tell you more about how to repair it than I can. The body is probably cast iron, but no way to tell at this distance for sure. I say If, because mine is a Griffiths anvil, not a Foster. The deciding factor (for me) in determining whether to repair or not would be ring. If the anvil has a nice ring, I'd look seriously at repairing it. If not, I wouldn't bother.


    Steel is cooking, what else? :) Just finished a small order for a decorator, got another order from the same source. If you're trying to make some "razor blade" arrow heads, cut the half shape from small mangle iron and weld the halves together. Then hammer finish and sharpen.


    Have a safe trip, and take LOTS of pictures!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 08/21/98 12:20:38 GMT

    Jock, was looking at your 20 ton press with dieset for punching 3" candle drip pans from 16ga steel. I have a lady who would like some copper drip pans about 2 1/2-3" for a lamp I made for her. Is 20tons necessary to punch copper flashing which is what Id probably use. I have a regular 12 ton hydralic press but no dies so guess I'm stuck with the old reliable tin snips but only need 3.If I want to put together a press for "production" work, how massive does a press need to be to punch copper vs sheet meatal? Any ideas appreciated bruce

    bruce lowery -- brucelowery at Friday, 08/21/98 20:17:37 GMT

    I want to slice r.r.rail into 1/4 in. slices.The cutting tool I have is a newly aquired power hacksaw[obtained for the price of taking it away].I love that FREE word.Should I normalize or anneal the rail before attempting the cut?
    I have found a swedge block about 18in.square,might weigh 80 or 100lbs, well worn one corner has about an inch or so broken off and some of the holes are distorted.It has been used to cut on[oxy-acet.].What is something like that worth?
    Cloudy but warm in north B.C.leaves are beginning to turn.

    dimag -- dimag at Saturday, 08/22/98 17:31:59 GMT


    Ain't it a beautiful word????? Free that is. (GRIN) I love it too, and I expect we all do.

    Cutting RR Track with a power hacksaw is not a problem. Just line up the cut and start the saw. I've cut a lot, have several 1/2" paper weights laying on the desk as I type. I don't anneal, normalize, or anything else, I just cut it.

    The swage block? Depends on how bad you want it. Considering the condition as you describe, I wouldn't give more than $20 - $25 US for it.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 08/22/98 18:35:49 GMT

    Grandpa..Just finished welding, twisting and drawing out a piece about 10" long, made from worn out hack saw blades and metal banding material. I made about 4 twists per inch. After reading about the *twisting* during the heat treatment and quinching, I'm wonderin how much trouble I will have keeping it straight. I have only made ladder patterns before this first twisted one....worried about the outcome..can you give me some info on how to deal with the stress I have created in the material...When I finished, I brought it to a low red heat and it is in the ashes until morning..wont this relieve some of the stress?

    Randall Guess -- rguess at Saturday, 08/22/98 23:12:17 GMT

    For the guy that wanted a Phase converter to run his 3phase motor, here is a site that tells how to do it.

    Greg Johnson -- gregj62 at Sunday, 08/23/98 02:29:13 GMT

    Anybody have any direct experience with the Henrob torch? I'd much appreciate hearing about it, especially as to cutting stainless, brass, aluminum, welding, brazing same. I have called their 800 number, received their brochure, seen their website, find them lacking in the sort of specific info one finds in other welding equipment manufacturers' catalogs such as Lincoln, Miller, Harris, etc. All they state directly is that it will cut one inch mild plate. I'm interested, but for $320 plus change, I want some facts. All replies strictly confidential and off the record, word of honor. Many thanks.

    John Neary -- jneary at Sunday, 08/23/98 04:47:27 GMT

    Randall: If it's twisted in the morning-- straighten it( I use a vise and crescent wrench). If it's twisted after hardening, temper it at 50 degrees f lower than normal. Then clamp between two straight plates, and shim if nesessary till it's straight. Then temper at the regular temperature. If still twisted, repeat clamping and tempering untill straight. There are several factors involved in the twisting phenomenon. Difference in the mechanical properties of the steels used being the most important. Twisting will vary from very slight to extreem. Good Luck.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Sunday, 08/23/98 05:37:28 GMT

    Grandpa..Thanks for the info. I checked it this morning and found it to be straight..whew,,,relief.And I over estimated the amount of twists. It is more like 2.5 to 3 per inch, and only about 8.5" long. I suppose ther is still the possibility of warping during the heat treat, but your advise will help me get through that..thanks for sharing your vast knowledge.

    Randall Guess -- rguess at Sunday, 08/23/98 13:06:11 GMT

    Grandpa..Thanks for the info. I checked it this morning and found it to be straight..whew,,,relief.And I over estimated the amount of twists. It is more like 2.5 to 3 per inch, and only about 8.5" long. I suppose ther is still the possibility of warping during the heat treat, but your advise will help me get through that..thanks for sharing your vast knowledge.

    Randall Guess -- rguess at Sunday, 08/23/98 13:14:59 GMT

    I have no black smith experience (except one class in shoeing horses)
    What type of schools are there in the Tulsa Oklahoma area to get
    some feel of what this is all about? I do know how to electic weld etc.

    Randy -- RFoutch at Sunday, 08/23/98 16:44:28 GMT

    Punching Copper(Bruce): Copper flashing will punch easily at 12 tons in the diameters mentioned. I could do the calcs for you but its late and I just got back from PA. Just don't try to run 16ga steel in the same dies! You can order dies from Roper-Whitney but even though they will make them AFTER you order them and you tell them they are for blanking, there is a good chance you will get a punch with "shear" built in (like electrical K.O. punches). The last three sets I ordered can that way and I had to grind off 1/4"! If you need help on making the dies we could get into that later. OR you could have me punch the blanks for you. My dies are 2-1/2" round.

    Cutting R-R rail (dimag): If the top of the rail looks heavily used work hardening can be a problem. Otherwise a first class blade kept oiled with kerosene or cutting oil should last for dozens of cuts. Run the saw on its lowest speed (if variable) for stainless, alloys and high carbon steels. I've found the high priced welded HSS/with soft back blades to be more cost effective for sawing than plain carbon steel blades.

    $WAGE BLOCK: Just came back from PA where I saw blocks for $100 to $350. It all depends on how bad you want or need one. Small new ones
    start at $85 + shipping.

    Henrob Torch (John): I'm still kicking myself for not siting through a session with them at Asheville but hope to see them soon. Yes, I agree that the information available is a little thin. I believe the cutting of non-ferrous materials is for light sheet stock. I CAN testify that it is GREAT for cutting steel. It produces a very fine kerf and can be used for very intricate cutting.

    Blacksmithing Schools (Randy): Try the ABANA site (see the links page) for schools. If you don't find one close by try the ABANA chapters list and contact the closest chapter. Many of the chapters hold semminars, demonstrations or classes. If these fail I can but you in touch with a fellow in Oklahoma City that may be able to help you.

    Thanks for the Phase Converter info Greg!

    GOT LOTS OF PHOTOS IN DC and PA! Will probably be next weekend before I can post them. Photographed Josh's work at the National Cathedral, had a great day at the PABA hammer-in, met and visited with a bunch of PA blacksmiths and went to several world famous PA Dutch country antique/flea markets! Lost reverse in the van on the way up but still managed to come home with hundreds of pounds of great iron (tools)! Will cover trip in detail in the upcomming NEWS!

    -- guru Monday, 08/24/98 03:27:46 GMT

    How does someone who knows absolutely nothing about blacksmithing get started? Are there courses available and, if so, how could I find out about them?

    Lisa Osse -- losse at Tuesday, 08/25/98 00:32:29 GMT

    Getting Started (Lisa): Today you have a lot of options for getting started in blacksmithing. Try the ABANA (Artist Blacksmiths Association of North America) web site for membership and schools information. There are numerous blacksmithing schools and ABANA can also help you find local blacksmiths through their local chapters. Many of the chapters also hold workshops and demonstrations. Although ABANA is a U.S. organization they have chapters in other countries and their counter parts too.

    There are several chapter conferences coming up soon. In September there are at least three that I know of. The Alabama Forge Council (see link from the anvilfire NEWS), Mid Atlantic Blacksmiths on 9/12-9/13 in Dover, DE and the Quadstate Round-Up in Ohio the following weekend (I think). The first two are significant gatherings of blacksmithing talent. You could learn more at either of these events in a few days than in years of self study. If you are serious about learning blacksmithing, either of these would be worth taking a few days and attending either or both.

    I have an article posted under 21st Century called Getting Started that may give you a starting place or two.

    AND there are many books on the subject that can be very helpful. I mention a few in my getting started article. Alex Bealer's Art of Blacksmithing is a classic on traditional tools and methods. Jack Andrew's NEW Edge of the Anvil is one of the best all purpose books including both how-to and technical reference material. There is a review of his book on our Book Shelf page. Even if you go to a blacksmithing school(s) you should have these as references. If you order either of these books from Centaur Forge, ask for their catalog. It is a blacksmithing education in itself and they sell other books on the subject including many on specific specialties.

    Besides the schools listed by ABANA many college art departments have metal scultpure classes that may include many of the skills I recomend in my getting started article. Some have anvils, forges and heavy machinery available. Start local and ask pointed questions before signing up.

    Let me know if you need more specific direction. You've made a good start by finding anvilfire and the community of blacksmiths on the Internet.

    -- guru Tuesday, 08/25/98 02:21:47 GMT


    First off, I like the Canedy-Otto equipment better than Champion and Buffalo. This is especially true of the hand-crank blowers. If one were to examine all three brands you will note more precision in design and worksmanship on the C-O blowers and their gearboxes. Unlike the competition, the C-O units will hold oil and the pinion (impeller) shafts are not located in the crud sumps in the bottom of the gearboxes where all the dried glop and broken gear teeth
    wind up in the buffalo and champion units.

    As for 3-phase converters, I do not like static phase converters and prefer the rotary phase generators. The static phase converters are just a box of relays and capacitors that fool a motor into thinking it is starting on 3-phase until it gets going and then the relays kick out and the motor is only running on single phase with very poor efficiency. One must remember that a 3 phase motor has three sets of windings that is powered from three hot wires. ONCE ONE HOT WIRE IS TAKEN OUT, all the power is going through one of the 3 windings. This is hard on the motor and very inefficient. A rotary phase generator generates true 3-phase power and the better designed commercially made units (such as the Arco) are about 95% efficient.

    I'm not sure about Bill's comment about the static inverters but I know the rotary type are pretty good. I have a 10HP Arco unit and have studied its operation pretty close. Although they DO produce pretty good three phase power you have to pay attention to which circuit you put magnetic contactors in. When a second motor is started on the circuit a contactor (coil or solid state circuit) wired to the generated leg will drop out due to the voltage drop. The bigger units also tend to vibrate and can be VERY noisy. I got mine because the shop that had it couldn't stand the noise! It is currently not installed but I plan on putting it in an outdoor shed to keep the noise out of the shop!

    -- guru Tuesday, 08/25/98 02:44:52 GMT

    Grandpa has an ARCO 10 hp rotary unit, and it is noisy! They are good units but do not make exactly 3ph power. One leg is high, and the phase angle is not quite the same as line voltage. Still perhaps the best choice for those of use that live in the boonies. Hot days and cool nights in the heartland.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 08/25/98 04:40:16 GMT

    I was advised to check on a copyright for several iron pieces that I have made.
    Where do I find some info on this?

    Allen Schaeffer -- STUDIO_518 at Tuesday, 08/25/98 23:51:40 GMT

    Copyrights are for printed matter ONLY! Guess it's been extended to include software too, but not iron work. You can get a DESIGN PATENT for a unique design, but design patents are very hard to enforce. Your best protection is a well executed design at a reasonable price. Welcome to the world of competition! Both the Copyright office and the Patent and Trademark office have websites.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Wednesday, 08/26/98 01:07:54 GMT


    I just purchased a " Perfect Power Hammer ". My question is, what material would be best for replacing the bottom die? or can I build it up with work hardening rod? Also, the hammer has been shaped into a more pointed shape than the original, what would I use to manufacture a new hammer.

    T. J.

    T J Marrone -- tjmarrone at Wednesday, 08/26/98 01:54:49 GMT

    COPYRIGHT: Wrong Grant! Sculpture and works of art can be copyrighted. The Library of Congress handles copyright matters. However, unless your work is VERY distinctive and would have to be copied by making a mold of it you are probably wasting your time. If I can look at it and make a similar item without making an exact copy your copyright is not worth much. AND in the end ALL patents and copyrights are only worth what you can afford to persue in court. However, IF you have a registered copyright, the infringer is automaticaly libel for your legal fees. Your local library is a good place to start. The LOC also has forms on-line.

    -- guru Wednesday, 08/26/98 02:47:20 GMT

    POWER HAMMER DIES (T.J.): The right material is largely dependant on the use. General purpose dies can be made from medium and high carbon steels. H-13 is one of the best steels as it is an air hardening hot work steel. However, it is expensive and not the easiest steel to work. H-13 is available in a pre-heat-treated condition that is just barely machinable but hard enough for dies. The trade name is Viscount 44 by Latrobe Steel. SAE 4140 or 4150 is a commonly available medium carbon steel that has been sucessfully used for hammer dies. RR-rail and axels are often made of 4140-50 I'm sure Grant and some others will have some suggestions and comments on this question.

    Although it is commonly done in industry, I don't recommend build up repair on dies of unknown material. However, you can do wonders by grinding them. If you want them to be really spiffy have them ground on a surface grinder and then dress by hand if need be. Most power hammers have a lot of room for adjustment and can compensate for relatively big changes in the dies.

    On the practical side. I have personaly used and also seen others use mild steel for medium production specialty dies (up to multiple thousands of parts). Mild steel dies can be used for making tenons, tapers, balls and top rail among other things. They are easy to make, do not require heat treatment and last a long time as long as you are careful to forge hot steel in them.

    -- guru Wednesday, 08/26/98 03:27:50 GMT

    I have been making triangle dinner bells from coil springs[small car strut shock absorbers]straightened with a vise and a torch.I forge both ends to a point, scroll one end and forge an eye/hook on the other end.I bend the corners with a torch,and heat up the three side to a cherry red,wrap in durablanket and leave it over night.\
    When hit lightly the bell rings clearly, but not loudly.When hit hard the clarity goes south.The harder its hit the worse it sounds.What am I doing wrong???
    Summer is hanging in in the north country,Tomatoes ripening on the vine, unheard of.

    dimag -- dimag at Thursday, 08/27/98 02:25:27 GMT

    Can anyone out there identify an anvil of cast steel w/ cast-on face, American pattern with no markings other than a roughly 1.5-2" dia. raised "W" on one side (part of casting). Rings like a church bell - unbelievably clear and deep, carries a good while. I haven't weighed it yet but it looks to go + or - 240#. Also, old leg vise of wrought (grain obvious in leg) with small six pointed star containing the words "Iron City" on one side. On a different note, I've been doing lots of work with iron for the last few years but it's so darned expensive(new English). How can I tell if old rr track is iron - i.e., are there any dating guidelines? Or, if I give in and move to 1010 or 1020, are there any truly nasty fluxes that can be used that will essentially allow me to scarf weld like I do with iron (no flux, or sometimes borax) without worrying about scale buildup over many heats? Boy, if I throw any more questions out there I'm going to knock someone over. Any help most appreciated.

    Eric Kettenburg -- theland1 at Thursday, 08/27/98 04:16:03 GMT

    Reading over the copyright law is very interesting. Covers more things than I ever thought! Actually does appear to cover the design of forged articles. Not USEFUL items though! You must separate the useful part from the art. Useful comes under patent law. Courts regularly use the "reasonable man" theory in matters as subjective as design. Small variation can't be used to circumvent the law, in other words, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Thursday, 08/27/98 05:25:33 GMT

    Pretty rare nowadays to find iron rail. It was the demand for STEEL for rails that created the steel industry and that was over 100 years ago. After welding real iron for years you will find anything else to be little better than a good paste job.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Thursday, 08/27/98 05:35:06 GMT

    Thanks so much for helping out, Grant. So: the logical next question would be, if I stick with iron, where the heck can I get it other than the RWI Co. Seems like he's got the market cornered! I've used old bridge iron, but it was pretty *#$ at & to work with - I guess the rust typically penetrates into the grain and eats up the slag. Working with that stuff seems akin to pulling absessed teeth with a pair of hot tongs. Are there any good books out there that are useful for old anvil, vise etc. identification?

    Eric -- theland1 at Thursday, 08/27/98 14:12:17 GMT

    TRIANGLES (musical or dinner bells - dimag):

    Although small musical triangles SEEM to make a sweet clear tone all triangles make a dissonant tone (many overlaping frequencies not necessarily in sync).

    Hard triangles work better than soft but I found all I needed to do was quench the mild HR bar immediately after bending. Hard corners seem to do the trick and 20-30 point carbon steel is good enough.

    Shape and proportion makes a HUGE difference in triangles. I always made a tuning fork variety (three bends, open ends facing each other). After making a triangle from 1" wrought iron that was a complete failure I made a short study of the subject. I experimented with a LOT of proportions. In the end I found a 30" length of 1/2" HR made my "Best Ringer Ever". Bends were at center and 5" from the ends with about 1/2" betw. the ends. If you make this one I'd appreciate credit for the pattern!

    -- guru Thursday, 08/27/98 22:20:52 GMT

    In your response about powerhammer dies,you talked about using 4140 or 4150, should this be heat treated or not?

    Mark Damman -- ddamman at Friday, 08/28/98 01:15:29 GMT

    SAE 4140/50: All general purpose tool steel dies should be heat treated. 4140 can be oil or water quenched but oil quench is safer (less likely to crack or distort). The pre-heat treated H-13 (Viscount) is an exception. It is designed to be used as-is.

    FORGE WELDING MILD STEEL: All the forge welding I've seen and done was with borax except the one occasion I saw red clay used. I HAVE seen mild steel forged without flux. The requires exception coal and skill. Jim Hsirosoulas recomends borax with 10% flourite for laminated steel work. This IS the nasty stuff you summised existed. Wrought iron has the advantage of being able to be worked at slightly higher temperature without burning but scaling problems in mild steel are a fuel/air mixture problem.

    -- guru Friday, 08/28/98 01:45:43 GMT

    i'm 14 and realy interested in blacksithing. i've made a make shift funace out of bricks. i start a fire and when the coals get hot i put real coal on the fire. with a leaf blower i can get the fire hot enough to make iron orange. i need a better blowing system,tools,an anvil (or anvil substatute) and raw iron to work with.
    Do you have any tips for me?

    wesley schumacher -- carol at Saturday, 08/29/98 00:11:17 GMT

    I am thinking of building a JYH type hammer has anyone thought of using a 5hp gas lawn mower engine instead of electic motors. I don't have any power near where my new forge shop is going to be. i have about 2 year exp on and off with smithing. I have used a power have a few time and loved it.

    doug block -- dougblock at Saturday, 08/29/98 06:26:52 GMT

    STARTER EQUIPMENT (Wes): Its great that you are getting out and doing it!. Just keep going the direction you are going and you will do just fine. Don't listen to those that say you need a special this that or the other. I DO recomend you pick up some reading material such as Jack Andrew's NEW Edge of the Anvil (See my review on the bookshelf page).

    Look under Plans for directions on building a brake drum forge. It may be more convienient than what you are currently using. That leaf blower probably produces too much air. A forge fire only needs a gentle breeze to bring it up to a white heat. Too much air causes a lot of scale (that grey flakey stuff) and burns the steel.

    On the 21st Century page, look under anvils. There is an article on a cheap anvil substitute. Almost ANYTHING heavy and made of steel or cast iron will do for starters. Cast iron will chip and eventualy crumble but is commonly available as engine blocks and heads. The older the better (heavier). Some people use a short length of rail road rail but this is often harder to get than one would think AND is very springy. If you find a piece or rail, bolt it down to an old engine head and bolt both to a stump (wood block) or stand. The rail will give the hardness and durability and the head will provide the mass. Stuff like "I" beam looks like it would be a good anvil but most is too springy. An anvil needs to have compact mass.

    Almost any kind of hammer other than a carpenters claw hammer is suitable for smithing. Don't start too big. For your age 2lbs should be about the max. Many smiths like a ball pien or "engineers" hammer. Regular smithing hammers are available at most hardware stores.

    For tongs, channel lock pliers work great and so do ViseGrips (they were invented by a blacksmith!). Regular tongs are better because their length gives you more leverage AND distance from the hot iron. I have a fairly easy method of making tongs posted under 21st Century. These should be made from mild steel. Your first pair may take you a day or two! However, it is good practice. An experianced smith can make a pair of tongs in less than an hour and Peter Ross (the head blacksmith at Williamsburg, VA) can make a set in 10-15 minutes!

    MATERIAL: Most of us start with scrap and rapidly move on to buying our steel from metal suppliers. Old fashioned "wrought iron" is only available at high prices and used very little. Almost ALL general smithing done today is done using steel. "Mild steel" is low in carbon and is what most decorative work is produced in. Technically it is called SAE 1018 or SAE 1020. Structural steel (that used in buildings) is called A-36 and is nearly the same thing. Long pieces are hard to find as "scrap" but you might ask a welding or machine shop if they will sell you some. Hardware and hobby stores sell short lengths (about three foot) but you pay for the convinence. 1/4" and 3/8" square are good sizes to start with. 1/2" square and round is what most smiths make fireplace tools and such from.

    SCRAP STEEL: Like automotive springs, axels and shock absorber struts are generaly high carbon steel and are good for making tools such as hammers, punches, chisles and anvil "set" tools. A good friend of mine makes all his hammers from truck axels and many of his hot work chisles form McFersson strut rods.

    Check out the Centaur Forge page for what blacksmithing tools look like (it is currently under construction with additions weekly). Order Jack Andrews' book from them and ask for a catalog. Although they sell a lot of farriers tools they also have almost every blacksmith tool available and lots of other hard to find books.

    Let me know if you need more help!

    -- guru Saturday, 08/29/98 14:24:14 GMT

    GASOLINE ENGINE POWERED HAMMER (Doug): Its been done before and works pretty well. You need an engine that has a govenor in good working condition so it runs at relatively steady speed and doesn't over-rev when the load is taken off. Most of these engines produce their peak HP at about 2000-2500 RPM. Check with the manufacturer and then use belting to reduce the speed accordingly.

    If you have a good govenor then you may wish to connect the throttle to the hammer's clutch treadle so that the motor revs up just as you start to engage the hammer. Use a light spring for the connection.

    Consider mounting the engine out doors and running the hammer on a line shaft. This will keep your shop quieter and move the toxic exhaust fumes outdoors. You can also run other machinery from the same line shafting!

    If you are looking at the EC-JYH shock absorber hammer please note the following. A 40# ram probably needs only one shock. I increased the dual shock model to 65# and I think it needs a little more. 120-140 RPM (SPM) is all the shock linkage can stand. Otherwise the ram "floats". The tubular "dust cover" should be removed from the shock OR a shock without a cover used. The covers are not well supported and do not like the side shock. They will eventualy crack and fall off. Also note that this hammer has a completely different character from other hammers. It starts and ends with closed dies and hits with roughly the same impact each time. It doesn't hit as hard as the ram weight indicates but does have excelent control.

    -- guru Saturday, 08/29/98 14:43:19 GMT


    It HAS been a HOT dry one for most of us. Where it hasn't been dry its been flooded. Hope things get back to "normal" soon!

    SECOND MOST COMMON INCORRECT ANSWER - The Bickern or Stake anvil.

    The stump is supporting the blacksmiths anvil therefore it IS a piece of his equipment. The Bickern is a truely wonderful antique most likely made in England in the 1700's (manufacturer unknown) and imported to the U.S. Like anvils, they were used by many crafts, not just by blacksmiths. However, when in a blacksmith shop it WAS a blacksmiths tool and WERE very common a few centuries ago . . .

    The answer to the contest is. . . difficult! But it is NOT a trick question! You still have time to enter.

    -- guru Saturday, 08/29/98 19:47:09 GMT

    What tool steel does most blacksmiths use for their tools? (chisels, hardies, fullers & etc.) Then how to heat treat the above.

    Mac Brown -- macbrown at Sunday, 08/30/98 23:09:17 GMT


    Looks to me like "most" blacksmiths use any thing that will harden when quenched, some even use steel that doesn't meet that meager test!
    Next best is probably steel from springs known as "spring steel". What do ya think the mills make durring the other three seasons? Choise is probably S-1 tool steel, this being the closest thing to a "one for all" tool steel for blacksmiths.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Monday, 08/31/98 01:10:29 GMT

    S1 TOOL STEEL (Mac): The steel Grant recomended, S1, is a shock resistant (S) tool steel. It is oil hardened at 1650-1750 F and tempered at 400 to 1200 F depending on the hardness wanted. Before quenching it should be heated slowly and held at temp for 15-45 minutes. Double tempering is recomended for all tools seeing hard usage.

    As Grant mentioned, modern smiths use what ever is handy. The fact is that for certain hot work even mild steel can be used. However, for durability some type of high carbon steel should be used. The advantage of the alloy steels is that they can be more resistant to heat (not loose their temper) than plain carbon steels. They are also generaly stronger.

    For hot punches a heat resistant (H) steel is recomended. H-13 and H-21 are recomended. Air quench is recommended for these steels although some are oil quenched. A salt bath can also be used for a quench with less severity than oil and it can also be used for tempering.

    There is a "best" steel for almost every application. But having hundreds of steels in a small shop is too expensive and complicated a system to maintain, so we compromise. We find steels we like, are obtainable and we learn to use them. Then we apply them to a wide range of applications. My personal favorite is whatever is lying around in the shop or left over from a job!

    -- guru Monday, 08/31/98 13:44:51 GMT

    ... sorry to repeat...(fixed -guru): Looking for education/workshops in WI.&MN. Info on Damascus arrowheads? used anvils? picked up hand cranked Champion, but can't find anvil up here in northern WI. Could cable be used for arrowheads? sawmill blades? TIA Bill

    Bill Cornelius -- corneliw at Monday, 08/31/98 10:51:30 GMT

    WI & MN Blacksmithing (Bill): Contact these folks.

    President: Jim Ribordy
    15646 County Line Rd
    South Beloit, IL 61080
    (815) 389-4432
    Editor: Steve White
    8893 Hwy 14 South
    Monroe, IA 50170
    (515) 259-3307

    web site:

    Centaur Forge, Burlington, WI has an open house the first week of October (2nd, 3rd) and the UMBA has a meeting there in November. I'm told the open house is for farriers but it should still be intresting.

    Anvils are where you find them and there are a LOT of them out there if you look. They are also avialable NEW! Try Bruce Wallace, he carries NEW and USED anvils (address in anvilfire directory).

    -- guru Monday, 08/31/98 14:07:54 GMT

    Anyone know who the demonstrators are for the Fla. statewide conference? my dues were slack so they haven't put me back in the loop.

    Harland F Monday, 08/31/98 17:55:34 GMT

    E-MAIL ADDRESSES: Guy Sabrie! I sent a response to your NEW msn address and it bounced back!

    ALL: Jim PawPaw Wilson's netunlimited address is up and working again!

    -- guru Monday, 08/31/98 19:24:06 GMT

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