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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.

This is an archive of posts from September 15 to 30th, 1998 on the Guru's Den

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

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

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

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    -- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
    Stanley Hydraulics has such a unit as does Multiquip, Polyquip and Samson Hydraulics. Try these names on a search.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Wednesday, 09/16/98 00:43:33 GMT

    Thanks for the manufacturers names.

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/16/98 02:13:09 GMT
    Which 10HP did you have in mind on your powerhammer page? I need a new one, what I have now is from the forties and not worth repairing any more. 3 phase is not available to me and I don't think I want to go the converter route so... got any suggestions?

    Pete -- Ravnstudio at aol,com Wednesday, 09/16/98 04:31:50 GMT

    I am an experienced smith (20 years)working for a British volunteer agency (VSO) in Tanzania, upgrading blacksmithing skills. I was told to contact you by those nice people at British Blacksmith. I am looking for designs for homemade (probably best as mechanical) powerhammers. Can you help?

    Ivan Colbert -- fit-tz at Wednesday, 09/16/98 11:05:02 GMT

    AIR COMPRESSORS (Pete): I just picked compressors from the McMaster Carr catalog that suited the purpose. I'm not sure single phase 10HP motors are even made, but if they are I'm sure they would be very expensive. McMC listed several 5HP compressors with single phase motors.

    I use McMaster Carr a lot, however they generaly do not specify the brand or maker of equipment they carry. You could order three similar items and one be made in China, one in Spain and the other in the US. On big ticket items I use them for a price comparison. They ARE NOT the cheapest supplier but the are the most convieninent.

    Grant mentioned rotary screw compressors. For comparison a 7.5HP piston type lists for $3172 while a rotary type of the same capacity sells for $5341. The difference is that the more expensive compressor is designed for continous duty at full capacity. If you run a piston type compressor at full capacity continously it will have a VERY short life. McMC recommends a 70% duty cycle, but then, they are trying to sell the machine. . .

    If you only have single phase one option is to use two compressors. Two 5HP compressors have the same capacity as one 10HP at a 17% higher price. However, you get double the tank capacity for that $500 difference.

    I recommend putting air compressors and rotary phase converters in an insulated (for noise) shed outside and disconnected from your shop. If it is built against your shop you may want to isolate the pad and walls, and add some industrial sound proofing ($$$).

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/16/98 14:04:14 GMT

    JUNK YARD HAMMER (Ivan): Currently the most information is posted under our NEWS page (Vol. 1 East Coast Junk Yard Hammer Supplement). There are also photos of the West Coast hammer in Vol. 2 of the NEWS in our ABANA conference coverage.

    I am also (slowly) working on a booklet with drawings, design principles and "plans" for several types of home built hammers. Hopefully it will be available in a few months. Please note that the shock absorber linkage I used is easy to build, works, but is not very efficient. Several other people are building similar machines with my recomendations to slow the machine down (120-140 strokes/min.), and use a single shock per 40 pounds of ram weight. I am eagerly waiting for their reports on performance.

    The junk yard method we chose to follow in our hammer building exercise (See the NEWS Vol. 1) is largely a matter of attitude and apptitude. Knowing how to make-do and be flexible in your construction methods is more important than plans in this method. Plans lock you into a mind-set of needing a specific object to complete the plan. Although I produced plans, I did so AFTER obtaining the materials I thought I needed (see the difference between the original idea sketch and the construction drawing). Although I build a lot of things without plans, I did so in this case for the purpose of publication on the Internet AND to help fix the relationships of the mechanical linkage.

    I would like to continue R&D in this area but R&D is expensive (even building from junk).

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/16/98 14:42:30 GMT

    Double bick anvil, one is round and one is flat, and both should be in
    line with the rest of the face. I have been using one of Italian design for 18 years with a weight of 100K (220#), It's 2.2# to the kilogram. The one for sale by Russell Jaqua are very similar.

    The ever-narrowing flat bick is extremely handy. It is of value when drawing down a section between bosses, or two split drifted eyes to equalize lengths in a bar with many perceings (like some of our kids) the narrow surface is also handy for working flat or faceted cones, and endless other applications. In my shop it is my preferred handwork anvil, with my 400# and Gorgeous Trenton used mainly for straightening and striking.

    The double bick anvil is a much more versatile tool than its cousin the London pattern anvil.

    Toby Hickman -- waylan at Wednesday, 09/16/98 15:13:27 GMT

    I need to make a pattern for various scrolls. The stock will vary from 1/4" to 3/8". I know that there are several types of scrolls (victorian, Mexican etc.)but is there a certain way to make these types other than by one's eye? Is there any tricks to making a pattern I should know? I am pretty green yet, so all info is appreciated.

    I was looking at your JYH plans, looks like something I would be interested in. I can some A8, do you think that would make good dies for such a hammer? TIA Wes

    Wes Ruddell -- Mail4Wes at Wednesday, 09/16/98 22:13:40 GMT

    Am looking for very specific plans for a propane forge. Everything i find in the net is too vague> I NEED SPECIFICS! What size orifice, how big of a blower, inlet pipe sizes, etc. I need this for a friend who is a knifemaker and is paralized from the chest down. Please help!

    GAND -- gand at Thursday, 09/17/98 01:52:34 GMT

    Guru, thanks for the thoughts on the punch press. I recently acquired a shear that looks like a Beverly, but I cant see any marks, and I dont know what size, 1.2, 0r 3, and the capacity of my new tool is not obviously marked. any ideas to tell me what I have? Thanks DSchiff

    david schiff -- dschiff at Thursday, 09/17/98 02:06:47 GMT

    Why don't you carry on the punch press discussion in the forum. When you do it by e-mail it's confusing when a reference is made to it. I searched all over to try to find what David was talking about. Saves answering the same question over and over.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Thursday, 09/17/98 02:47:35 GMT

    I'm with Toby about the " double horn anvil" I bought a 260 lb centuron(?) at the conference and its a nice addition to the shop.
    The flat bick lets you hang on to a short piece with your tongs and bang it over the edge to get a nice tight corner. One funny thing though my new anvil is magnetic, in the center not out on the bicks.
    Scale sticks to the sides. Its fun to show people, Hey look at this!
    BTW the biggest compresser I can find 1 phase is 7.5 hp. The Ingersol Rand rep says thats the biggest they come and thats not enough for what I want to do. So...two compressors??? Phase converter,gas unit like Jocks doing? I'll keep thinking on it.

    Pete -- Ravnstudio at Thursday, 09/17/98 03:26:18 GMT

    Personally, I've recommended two small units for the reason Jock has stated and because much of the time you can run just one. Be sure to check the C.F.M. output either free air rating or at a specific pressure, I've seen 5hp machines with anywhere from 8 to 22 C.F.M. output.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Thursday, 09/17/98 05:09:26 GMT

    Grant, Only thing I remember about punch presses was a month or so ago. LONG discussion about why you can't use one for forging.

    SCROLLS: Lots of mathematical philosophies and books on architecture have numerous ways to lay out scrolls. Most books on blacksmithing give one or more methods. Easyiest method is to draw 4 or more equal axes, start at the center and set points at equally increaseing increments. Then you can get fancy and use the square root of two (1.412) times the last axial distance for the next and so on. Less axes make a tighter scroll more a faster smoother one. You can also play with the increment. This is an area where half the world gets deep into artistic BS and the other half such as myself "just do it". (Grant has been waiting forever for me to say that!) If I wanted perfect I'd write a 4 line program in BASIC to generate the coordinates (a 10 line program would draw it on the screen). I also think someone sells a computer program for scrolls. I have photos and drawing of benders under 21st Century.

    GAS FORGE PLANS: ABANA sells a set of plans for a recuperative forge that was originaly designed by the guys at Sandia labs WAY back in the 70's! There are also fairly specific plans on the Ron Reil page (see links). One reason many of us shy from plans that are too specific is the libility problem (I built it EXACTLY like he said and it burned my house down. . .) - Not to be politicaly incorrect, but if I were supplying a gas appliance to someone whom couldn't run like from it like the wind, I'D want it to be as safe as possible! Comercial units sold to public schools have safety cutoffs in the event of flame outs. More expensive units sold for industry often have temperature controls and infra red "fire eyes" that shut off the gas the instant the flame goes out.

    MAGNETIC ANVIL??? Sounds like it got slid across the magnetic chuck of a big grinder or moved improperly with a magnet (we used to have a little 30lb. magnet that would pick up 3,000 pounds). Magnetized tooling is bad form. Most shops have a demagnetizer but an anvil is a pretty serious demag job. Scale isn't a problem but chips from a die grinder, drill or saw become dangerous splinters sticking out like a porcupine's quills!

    MY GAS COMPRESSOR: The hammer it will be running will only be operated ocassionaly. If I were going to be doing heavy forging every day I'd never be running ads for Josh's 3B Nazel! If you are serious about metal work the inverter is a good investment. Just think of all the good deals you've passed up on machinery at sales because they had 3PH motors on them!

    -- guru Thursday, 09/17/98 05:26:30 GMT

    OK where does one go to learn about Phase converters? I haven't been paying any attention becouse I didn't think I was going to be in the market.

    Pete -- Ravnstudio at Thursday, 09/17/98 11:40:17 GMT

    PHASE INVERTERS (Pete): An outfit called Arco makes rotary "phase generator" called the "Roto-Phase". Last address I have for them is Shelbyville, Indiana. Their installation wiring diagram is pretty rudimentary (one to one). I prefer to run the "output" through a 3PH breaker box so I can easily wire other items to the unit.

    Örjan Sandström sent up this URL -

    It has a method I discribed a couple of times but also has some misinformation. Claims the first motor is acting like a generator and has MORE power. You can't get more power out than you put into (anything), only less. A LOT of shops use this method. Normally you want the inverter motor to be 1-1/2 to 2 times the size of the largest motor you are going to run on the circuit.

    The Arco phase inverter uses a similar method however there are capacitors between two of the legs of the motor acting as the inverter. The capacitors make the motor self starting AND help balance the 3PH power comming off the unit. This takes advantage of the properties of AC power where induction causes a lag in the phase and capacitance causes an advance in the phase. This phase shift makes the current coming off the inverter look sort of like 3PH but not quite as equal. There is a saying in the electrical field "good enough for motors".

    Arco's inverters use a shaftless motor (none sticking out) roughly the size of the largest motor it is rated for. This works due to the capacitors. There have been articles published about how to build your own. The tricky part is sizing and using the right type of capacitors. The ones in my 10HP unit look like three (I think) big lantern batteries. They are connected in parrellel betwen one pair of motor leads. Don't try to build you own unless you are skilled in electrical engineering or use plans from someone that is AND you are skilled in industrial electrical wiring.

    NOTE: Arco won't admit it but their units a NOISY (worse than an air compressor)! So plan on putting it in the shed with the compressor(s).

    Also note that Grant agreed with me on the TWO compressors. Generally there is a cost savings in "the economy of size" (bigger = more per $) but in this case the extra you pay (instead of less) is made up by having more storage capacity.

    Having the inverter is like having the air compressor. You will run a lot more off of it than the original thing you purchased it for.

    -- guru Thursday, 09/17/98 14:52:56 GMT

    Pricing of large compressors:

    I know this won't be relavant to most people, but it IS interesting none the less.

    A couple years ago when I needed to replace my tired, always breaking down, old compressor I asked for quotes from Ingersol-Rand and Quincy. For a 100hp 400cfm machine I-R quoted around $27,000.00 and Quincy about $24,000.00. I decided on the I-R because it was on the shelf and the Quincy was built to order, and also the I-R is comlpeatly enclosed and insulated for sound whereas the Quincy was open. When I called the I-R salesman I couldn't resist telling him that Quincy had beat him by $3,000.00! He said, " Let me call you back". Ten minutes later he called back and asked "How does $17,500.00 sound!". Worth dickering!


    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Thursday, 09/17/98 18:36:46 GMT

    I was pricing single phase compressors in the 22-24 cfm at 100 psi range a few weeks ago. The local I-R distributor quoted a price of around $1,800, if I pick it up at their dock. It uses a 7.5 hp motor and the above output is allegedly available on a 100% duty cycle. I need 15cfm at 100psi minimum. It seems that this compressor should give me plenty of air even if I need to do some continuous forging. I plan to put the compressor outside with walls and a roof built around it with soundboard on the inside. I am trying to keep the noise level very low. How much open area do you think I need for air circulation? Any other ideas?

    Ron -- hmmrhead at Thursday, 09/17/98 19:48:40 GMT


    The extra cost of a good H.D. compressor like this one is well woth it, in the long run. Just enough room to service the machine and open space under the eves. If you can duct the air out where the fan blows across the after cooler, great. If not then use a fan to keep fresh air circulating to the encolsure. GOOD INVESTMENT!

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Thursday, 09/17/98 20:40:08 GMT

    I justed started a new job as a salesman for a steel wholesaler (No tool steel!) so my question is could I use A-36 cert. 4x4x42 as my anvil if I welded a 4140 plate to the top? Have my preliminary drawings for my lowrider JYH, doubt the final product will resemble them at all!

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Friday, 09/18/98 01:13:29 GMT

    There is also plans for a three phase converter at metal web news is the page with the phase converter there is a lot of other good stuff on the site also these plans go into alot of detail on the capacitors.

    Lou White -- anglou at Friday, 09/18/98 01:25:04 GMT

    A36 ANVIL w/ 4140(Chris): It would work but arc welded plate makes a marginal anvil. The rebound would be equivalent to the top plate lying loose on the other piece. If it were FORGE WELDED, then you would have an anvil! 4140 is OK for solid anvils but is still a little soft as anvils go. Keep looking for a real anvil. In your new job you will be dealing with LOTS of shops and one may have the anvil of your dreams. . . I'd like to see your drawings (my fax number is on the rate card)

    INVERTER (Lou): The URL you gave was incorrect. Try this.

    -- guru Friday, 09/18/98 03:24:49 GMT

    Not trying to be picky here, but to me an inverter changes DC to AC. What we're talkin about here is usually called a phase converter, as in static phase converter or rotary phase converter. I just like to avoid confusion and help people use the right terminolgy when they make inquiries to suppliers. Haven't looked it up, so I might be wrong.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Friday, 09/18/98 03:59:41 GMT

    After looking it up I see a phase converter "is used to transmografy single phase into poly phase" unless you discombobulate the framus of course!

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Friday, 09/18/98 04:11:27 GMT

    Does anyone know what color champion blowers were orignaly painted if painted at all.

    Terry Lee -- Terry.Lee at Friday, 09/18/98 12:33:35 GMT

    Converter - Inverter: May be a local linguistics problem - had wondered myself. Arco avoids the issue and calls their machines a "generator". Uh, I thought it was framus the rheostat and realign the thingamajig. . .

    COLOR OF BLOWER: All the old Buffalo and Champion equipment I've seen (blowers and drills) were a shiney black (or nicely rusted). I painted my originally rust colored :) Champion drill press bright red with black handles and pin striping!

    Ron's compressor enclosure: You might consider how you are going to get the compressor in and out and leave space for the electrical disconnect. If you pour a concrete pad for the floor, isolate it from your building with a layer of dense foam rubber wrapped in several layers of building felt. This will reduce noise transmission. A heavy piece of flex line should connect the compressor to the distribution piping for the same reason (and for maintainability).

    -- guru Friday, 09/18/98 14:26:00 GMT

    I would like to start a forge, unfortunately I don't have any expience
    Can you send me the names of some good books. And the names of blacksmithing schools in Colorado Springs?

    Gabriel Raper -- SiverWolf at Friday, 09/18/98 16:17:58 GMT

    I am a 25 year old with zero experience with metal...for the last few years i have been daydreaming about certain metal sculptures that i would love to create...problem...i have no clue as to how to go about this...Metal intrigues me (i realize this sounds quite dreamy) and I would appreciate if you could give me a name of a good introductory metalwork well, when i picture blacksmiths i see hugely built it difficult for a petit woman to become involved with this trade.

    Luzi Swain -- larndt at Friday, 09/18/98 16:42:03 GMT

    I am ready to put the floor in my new 12' X 20' smithy. I read what the New Edge of the Anvil and American Blacksmithing said about a ramned earth floor as opposed to a concrete floor. What are your opinions on this? What do you folks have?
    Thanks for the help.

    Bob Conner -- bob.conner at Friday, 09/18/98 16:55:45 GMT

    Luzi Swain,

    I wish you could have been at the ABANA conference this year.

    I stand about 5'9", weigh 190#. Dorothy (a past ABANA president for several years) could stand under my arm.

    And she is one helluva blacksmith! :)

    As for books, Take a look at the bookshelf here on Anvilfire. I'd reccomend THE NEW EDGE OF THE ANVIL by Jack Andrews, and THE ART OF BLACKSMITHING by Alex Bealer, for starters.

    Centaur Forge (linked to Anvilfire) will sell both of them to you, and send you a catalog at the same time. The Centaur catalog is an instruction book all by itself. While it also covers a lot of farrier equipment, you can find illustrations of almost all of the basic blacksmithing tools. And their prices are reasonable.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 09/18/98 17:00:09 GMT


    I've got a patio brick floor in my shop, with an area of exposed dirt under the forge. It's not rammed earth, though. Loose dirt under the forge gives you a place to drop hot stuff to cool without worrying about starting a fire.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 09/18/98 17:09:27 GMT


    When I entered my first message, I couldn't remember Dorothy's last name. But if you go to Volume 2, page 17 of the Anvilfire News, you can see a picture of Dorothy Steigler dancing with the East Coast Junk Yard Hammer.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 09/18/98 17:11:37 GMT

    GETTING STARTED (Gabriel): Under 21st Century I have a brief article titled Learning Blacksmithing which is sort of rudimentary - but is generally good advice. I'm currently working on a new illustrated standing FAQ since I answer this question more than any other.

    First - Finding anvilfire was a great start! There is a ton of information here (though currently a little disorganized). Start at anvilfire's home page.

    Then check the book reviews on the BookShelf. I highly recomend Jack Andrews' NEW Edge of the Anvil. You should also have a copy of Alex Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing as a standard reference. Both can be purchased from Centaur Forge. Ask for a copy of their catalog. It is an education in itself. Also check out their web site. It is under construction but there are a lot of images of forges and anvils and other blacksmithing equipment. If you are serious about blacksmithing you should also purchase a copy of MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK (the older the better but new is OK). It is a machinist's reference but the information on the hardening and tempering of specific alloys is worth the cost of the book. There is also important information on things like drill sizes and edge shape, metal finishes, geometry, gearing and most metal working processes. Beyond these three books there are hundreds that get more specialized. You are lucky. When I started there was only one book. All the rest have become available since Bealer wrote The Art of Blacksmithing, which is a good book, but focuses on how things were done in the last century. Do not get stuck in that rut!

    Join ABANA the Artist Blacksmiths' Association of North America. Check out their web site they have a list of schools and local chapters. Joining ABANA will help you get in touch with other Blacksmiths. Knowing someone local that can help you with sources of materials and supplies can save you a lot of headaches. Most chapters hold teaching sessions several times a year.

    Schools: Besides the blacksmithing schools PLEASE take advantage of your local community college or trade school. You can not beat taking the full series of welding classes taught by a professional. On the job training doesn't cut it! Way too many saftey issues are glossed over or left out. You wouldn't believe how many welders learned welding on the job site!

    To see what's happening in the blacksmithing world check out theanvilfire news. We have recently covered a bunch of large and small blacksmithing conferences. There are now six volumes of the anvilfire news including hundreds of images! Joining ABANA will get you their excellent publications but there are several others including the Blacksmiths Gazette published by Fred Holder. Fred's publication takes a different tac than many and has some of the best articles for biginners.

    Check out the sites on our Links Page. Most of these are blacksmithing or metalworking related sites, a few are other blacksmith's sites.

    Well! That should keep you busy for a while.

    -- guru Friday, 09/18/98 17:12:50 GMT

    SHOP FLOORS: A lot depends on the type of shop. Rammed earth is good for the feet and growing kudzu and other weeds. On the other hand one of the current gods of blacksmithing, Francis Whitaker, is adamnent about dirt floors being the best and only blacksmith shop floor.

    If you are going to have ANY heavy machinery (or with wheels) a smooth concrete floor makes it easier to move the equipment. It is also best for anchoring the machines and cleaning up spilled oil around them. What's a "heavy" " machine? How much can you pick up? Do you have a fork lift or overhead crane? An old belt driven drill press weighs about 1,000 pounds, the same as a small power hammer. My welding bench weighs 1,400 pounds and I have a couple others that are heavier. Machine wheels don't roll too well on dirt. All my welding equipment is on wheels and I know a fellow that has his ironworker is on wheels.
    Blacksmithing is generally a heavy equipment profession.

    In my shop I poured concrete everywhere. In the forge area where a lot of standing is done I sunk the floor 6 to 8" (sloped for drainage) and plan to fill the area with sand and pea gravel. The same area has two power hammer foundations (isolation blocks 28" deep) which have already become obsolete as I have since gotten different (bigger) hammers. Now I will probably end up with a wooden platform around my big hammer.

    Industrial manuals recomend a brick floor (like Jim's) for forge shops. The reason being concrete doesn't take heat very well. Dropping a hot piece of iron or cutting with a torch close to the floor will cause concrete to spall explosively. The problem with brick floors is that they become uneven, need to be reset and are therefore relatively high maint. The industrial designers were also considering huge pieces of hot iron. Today modern forges and foundries have concrete floors.

    Blacksmith shops have also been built in buildings with wood floors! Heavy wood floors are easy on the feet and easy to move and anchor equipment on. The problem with wood floors is the fire hazzard and soaking up oil (making problem #1 worse). Donald Streeter, the author of Professional Smithing had a shop with a wood floor. I think he may have had a sheet metal plate under his anvil to prevent scale and biscuits from burning the floor. He did mostly small work and had light equipment. However, he also had a machine shop that is not illustrated in the book. The floors in his little forge shop probably wouldn't support his milling machine and lathe. . .

    A bunch to think about. Do what is right for you.


    The necessary muscles come with use. Today the heavy work (including hammering) is done with machines. Or helpful friends :) Like many mechanicaly related fields (engineering 2%) there are far to few women in blacksmithing. Don't let the sterotypes prevent you from following your intrests. This weekend I met a smith that works from a wheelchair. He has just adapted his shop to fit the way he works.

    So, what's petit? This weekend I was teaching an 8 year old that might have weighed in at 40-50 pounds tops! See Learning Young, News Vol.6 p.15

    Check out my post abave about getting started. Those welding courses are the best place to start. Not all blacksmithing is hammering and not all the heating is done in a coal forge.

    On our links page check out Lorelei Sims' web site

    -- guru Friday, 09/18/98 18:20:32 GMT

    I am about to start building a small building to put my forge in. how big should I build it? I also want to try to build a JYH, so I dont want to make the building too small. and should I put rebar into the floor in the section that it will sit?

    matt -- mwiggins at Friday, 09/18/98 18:43:42 GMT

    I puzzler just emerged here. I hope that you might shed some light on it.

    How is a Rapier blade made? More importantly, how was it hardened and
    tempered without the blade bending or drooping, at critical tempurature / red heat. Coming out of a forge and into the quenching medium. This primarily looking at the old days (not modern methods (14th - 16th century).

    If you can shed some light, it would be appreciated

    Tom Johnson -- swcectj at Friday, 09/18/98 20:16:54 GMT

    BUILDING: Build as big as you can afford and have space to build. I NEVER saw a shop with ANY empty space! Just don't build more than you can afford to complete (I did, and have regreted it ever since).

    Rebar and wire mesh are a good idea in any shop floor but depends a little on the size of the shop. If you can back a truck (pickup or bigger) in the door the concrete MUST be reinforced. It is also a good idea to extend a pad outside the door in case you can't get a truck in the door. A deadman anchor in the back (farthest from door) is also a good idea (a loop of steel or an Eye-bolt sticking up and anchored to a piece of steel set under the floor). This can be used to pull loads into the shop or be used to tie off a block and tackle.
    (see discussion above about floors).

    Hammer foundations are the source of a LOT of arguments among blacksmiths. Most power hammers need a seperate foundation. However, small hammers (up to 50# or so) run nicely on a wood pad. With heavier hammers it depends somewhat on the anvil ratio (see comments about the Kuhn in the review on the Power hammer Page). Hammers with a 20:1 or greater ram to anvil ratio transmit very little shock to the floor and an isolation mat generally does all that is needed. Hammers with lower ratios (especially below 10:1) will transmit a LOT of shock to the floor and shake everything in your shop.

    An idea I am working on for another JYH is to build it on a heavy concrete base instead of the huge 2" plate I found (can't rely on luck too often). The idea would be to weld up a light angle iron frame (corner guards) about a foot thick and as big as needed (2 x 5 feet = 1,400 pounds of concrete). Hmmm might want it a little smaller/thiner. Anchor and distribution plates would be attached to rebar and frame. Form boards would be clamped on and the whole filled with concrete. You can't rely on the concrete for anvil mass but the whole would act as base and above floor isolation/distribution pad.

    The idea would be to make the JYH cheaper and easier to build (not relying on luck) and also not need a special foundation.

    -- guru Friday, 09/18/98 20:48:44 GMT

    RAPIER BLADES: Like most long items forged in short sections. One of our "members" was posting some questions on the problem, I can't remember who but he makes a lot of them. I think he was trying (or I suggested) using a supporting rack. Otherwise it can be done verticaly.

    -- guru Friday, 09/18/98 20:54:53 GMT

    a question on pattern welded steels. We are using nickle sheet between each layer of High carbon. We tried some blades with a mix of high
    carbon (1084, 53100) and mild 1018. The blades seem to bend Too much.

    question: will the nickle give enough "flex" to the blades without making it too soft?

    Nicholas Marcelja -- nam at Friday, 09/18/98 21:25:20 GMT

    This is a question for "grandpa" but I'll put my two cents worth in in any case.

    First: Without the proportions of the thicknesses (before and after forging) there is no way to correctly address the question.

    Second: Nickle has approximately the same modulus of elasticity as steel therefore the same springyness. The spring will remain the same no matter what the proportion of material. However, the yeild point is determined by the proportion of hardenable steel AND how hard the steel is. Anealed high carbon steel has about the same yeild point as mild steel. I don't have a reference handy to tell me what the yeild point of pure nickle is but I suspect it is lower than hardened high carbon steel. Two much nickle and the blade will not have enough hardness and a low yeild point.

    Third: Pure nickle is used for briliant color in laminated steel. For strength nickle alloy steel is used. This gives good color and the question of proportion is a non-issue. Resistance to cracking and breaking generally comes from the low carbon (often wrought iron) laminates.

    Grandpa, please correct me if I am wrong. Like I said, this is not my area of expertise.

    -- guru Friday, 09/18/98 22:46:38 GMT

    Pattern welded question..

    before forging the billets are wired together with 1/8 x 3/4 1084
    and the nickle is thin 20g or thinner. counting both nickle and steel there are 20 layers. This we usually fold to 320 layers..

    Nicholas Marcelja -- nam at Friday, 09/18/98 23:23:27 GMT

    I'm just starting out as a smith and really like the forum here. I have learned a lot and am currently building my forge. I see a lot of people asking about 3phase convertors. Here is a URL that I have found very usefull on that topic.
    Hope this helps someone out.


    Steve W. -- sunset at Friday, 09/18/98 23:47:10 GMT

    Sir, i have a foil (sword ). it is made of spring steel.
    how do i soften the first 12 inches of it, to make it extremly flexable,
    not springy.

    brian fraser -- bwfraser at Saturday, 09/19/98 01:00:57 GMT

    FLEXABILITY (Brian): Softening it will only make it bend. The "springyness" is required for it to return to its original shape. Flexibility in hard steel comes from thinness. The only way to make your sword more flexible is to make it thinner by grinding or forging. Both require the skill and judgment of the original maker or a professional.

    Temper (hardness) is also critical. There is a delicate balance between being too hard and too soft. Too hard and the blade will shatter. Too soft and it will bend (permanently deform). The trick for the bladesmith is to find the perfect temper (just like Goldylocks of the Three Bears). The right temper is also partialy determined by how stiff (thick) the blade or part is. A thick heavy part can be very hard and not break but a thin slender part might shatter at the same hardness. All tricky business especialy when discussing a foil.

    To make things more complicated, different alloy steels require different tempers to be "just right". Do you know what alloy your blade is made of?

    To make a more perfect blade smiths make laminated steel or "Damascus". Layers of hard and soft steel forge welded together. The hard for springyness and the ability to hold an edge and the soft to keep the hard from cracking and breaking. Pretty amazing stuff. Its the ultimate of the bladesmiths technology.

    The important point is that you should leave this to the experts. I know very little about fencing but I am sure you are looking for properties that you've seen in a more expensive custom foil. You will find no simple answers to doing this yourself.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/19/98 01:26:35 GMT

    Help! Anybody know how South Bend rigged the reverse on a catalog No. 405-A 9-inch lathe bach in 1934? They don't. AND: a friend without a computer hunts for two books: Hammer & Tongs: Blacksmithery Down the Ages, by Gary Hogg, Hutchinson, London, 1964 and The Smith: Tradition and Lore of an Ancient Craft, Rider, London, 1964. Many thanks, in advance, John Neary, jneary at

    John Neary -- jneary at Saturday, 09/19/98 03:30:19 GMT

    SOUTH BEND: John, reverse the spindle or the feeds?
    On most old line shaft driven machine tools the spindle reverse was accomplished up on the line shafting with a criss crossed (figure eight) belt. Later electric motor driven machines had the motor reversed electrically.
    1934. . . Our 16" tool room South Bend of the same period has the motor in the base with electric reverse. My 1916 13" South Bend came with some of the backshaft (bearings and cone pulley). Rarely do you get ANY of the backshaft components (including the cone pulley) because they were up on the ceiling!

    On lathes with threaded spindles it is unwise to reverse them in any case. Reversing the spindle is a sure fire way to unscrew the chuck and drop it on your toes!

    -- guru Saturday, 09/19/98 04:00:34 GMT

    My Friday night forging was going well, 'til my 20 gal. drum, serving as a slack tub, sprung a leak. So much for my sacraficial zinc, salvaged from the boatyard!

    Brian: Don't mess with the temper of foils at all, if you intend to use them for fencing. Broken foils (and epees) are responsible for the injuries and rare but notable fatalities in the sport. Even good comercial ones have been known to fail, and the slivered point to penetrate the chest cavity. Also, foils are a sporting and training device, invented to perform somewhat like the European small sword. As a weapon, (if that's what you're thinking about) you're better off with a real small sword or rapier. Converting a foil for that purpose may seem a good shortcut, but (by experience) it's not very effective or elegant. (Old broken blades do make nice lamp hangers and pot hooks, if you want a conversation piece.)

    Cooling down here at Crumbling Acres on the banks of the lower Potomac.

    Take a vacation in the 10th Century:

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Saturday, 09/19/98 04:11:03 GMT

    Nicholas: Grandpa can't add much to what the Guru responded to your question. It would help us answer if you could give more specifics. Did the blades consist of 4 materials, or were they made of only two steels? How were the heattreated? Does bend too much refer to elastic or plastic deformation? What were the relative porportions of the steels?

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Saturday, 09/19/98 04:11:53 GMT

    Bruce, thanks for the correct warning about modifying foils! OBTW - your slack tub probably rusted from the outside IN!
    Hey! A new e-mail address!

    Thanks Grandpa! Here we are with the finest long distance communication medium ever invented and we still can't communicate our true meaning! Metalurgy is SO much fun.


    My HTML solution is causing EVERYONE problems (including me). The JAVA routines were only causing a small group of people problems (notably my advertisers). You need to upgrade your browser or install the JAVA extensions provided by Microsoft. Please send all complaints to Bill Gates c/o Microsoft, Inc.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/19/98 04:53:02 GMT

    OBTW - Most big time sites query your browser to see if it is Java capable (also frames and graphics). THEN they serve a web page suitable to your browser. This is a huge expense requiring much duplication of pages and requiring full time programming staff.

    The NEW kicker. Recently I have been bumped off sites that incorrectly determined that MY browser (Netscape 3.2) was not Java capable. There were no error messages, no second attempt, just bump and gone!

    This is why I don't even TRY! I learned a long time ago that it is impossible to keep up with ALL the changes in the software industry. I've had to select a level of service I want to provide and I will stick to it as long as possible.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/19/98 13:26:07 GMT

    Looking for books...go to and click search. Incredible source for hard to find books. Used and in different conditions and prices and you may have to try more than one bookstore. I found an excellent 11th edition of Machinery's Handbook for $30, but I had to try 3 sources before I found one that still had a copy.

    Randall Guess -- rguess at Saturday, 09/19/98 14:02:32 GMT

    Can you please help me find out the name of a famous company named after Vulcan, the Roman god of metalworking? This isn't a joke--I really am trying hard to track down this company, and my research led me to your site. Thanks

    dan hillyard -- hillyard at Saturday, 09/19/98 15:55:40 GMT

    VULCAN (Dan Hillyard): I'm sorry I didn't get to your question sooner. There have been a LOT of companies and products named after Vulcan. There either have been or currently are dozens of Vulcan Forges or Vulcan Ironworks.

    In blacksmithing circles there was Vulcan Anvils and Vulcan Forges.
    Sears Roebuck sold a number of forges under the name Vulcan and also used the word like an adjective rather than a pronoun.

    Goodyear named his famous rubber stabilizing process "Vulcanizing"

    In one of my engineering references (Design News Suppliers Guide) there is a listing for Vulcan Electric (thermostats) and Vulcan Sinclair (fluid drives and couplings).

    Famous is relative. Depends on who you are talking to.

    -- guru Saturday, 09/19/98 18:39:47 GMT

    I need some help finding info. on the Bradley Cushion Helve Hammers
    If someone had an owners manual or a book with the helve set up info. in it I would be intersted in getting that kind of info. I was fortunate enough to come across a Bradley 60# in a old torn down Blacksmith's shop. The problem that I have is that it is completely rusted and seized up. It also has a broken helve in it,( the roof caved in on the poor thing) I am in the process of rebuilding this jewel, and would like some info. on how to adjust the essentric and the throw and the cushion responce(ect.......) Looking forward to hearing from you,
    clear and cool in the Heartland. Perry

    Perry Mc -- jpdmcci at Saturday, 09/19/98 19:56:13 GMT

    Perry Mc:

    Boy, are you in luck! Some parts are still availible for the Bradley. Best bet is to talk to Doug Freund at freundship at Also Mr. Power Hammer himself: Bob Bergman at 608.527.2494

    If you don't have Dougs book "Pounding Out The Profits" buy it while it's still in print.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 09/19/98 21:09:05 GMT

    ok guys I am a young smith that has a-lot of people wanting products to sell in there store. The problem is how the heck can you make any money? I have made a few different things and the sell good, but I just break even. If I ask for more they probally wont sell. What can be made that will at least make $6/hour? Any hint or tips on marketing this stuff? Also lookig for a source of chain without that zinc coating. My lungs cant take any more of welding that stuff. TIA Wes

    Wes -- Mail4Wes at Saturday, 09/19/98 23:21:33 GMT

    Re books: I've tried biliofind, and MXBF, and interloc or whatever,and Norm Larson, and Amazon, and BABA, and a slew of others, with no luck on these out-of-print classics, Hammer & Tongs and The Smith: tradition and Lore, but thanks. Re South bend: the lathe once had a means of reversing the screw feed-- not the spindle rotation, but the change gears and thus the long worm that moves the whole apron along. Later models just had a lever you throw that moves a gear into place that then reverses the thrust of the change gears. This damned thing apparently had just a shaftwith maybe a 30-tooth change gear on it that you put into place, locked it in with the handy set-screw, and did your reverse cutting. I think. Again, thanks for any help. All best, John Neary

    John Neary -- jneary at Sunday, 09/20/98 01:32:47 GMT

    Lathe reverse feed: Reversing mechanism was invented by James Nasmyth in the 1830's. This was among his many small inventions that he didn't patent, just said, here world, be more efficient! I never saw a lathe without. . .

    Well, I just looked at the Sears Roebuck Tools Machinery and Blacksmith Supplies Catalog and YEP they sure did leave it off some of the smaller lathes in 1916! I still can't believe they didn't have it in the 30's. . . My little 6" Craftsman lathe even has reversable feeds. . .

    I had to MAKE the feed change mechanism for my 1916, 13" lathe. It had been tipped over and the casting with the handle, idler shaft and reversing gears had been broken. Built up a weldment and machined it on the broken lathe! Can't tell unless you look very close!

    -- guru Sunday, 09/20/98 03:04:47 GMT

    I want to preserve the polished/peweter finish I get after using 3m or stainless wire brush/wheel on my finished work. When I spray on lacquer,or clear urethane, the finish darkens. I have tried cleaning with thinner before spraying, to prevent the darkening. Help would be appreciated. Thanks, David

    David Schiff -- dschiff at Sunday, 09/20/98 03:07:39 GMT

    FORGING RATES (Wes): If you are making small knick knacks the materials cost should be 10% or less of the selling price. If you have nothing more than an anvil and forge you are still selling yourself short at anything less than $10/hr and should be making $30/hr if you are half way profficient. Jack Andrews book NEW Edge of the Anvil has a section on how to price your work and organize your business. It may be a good idea to listen to a pro.

    Part of the problem with making small stuff is that currently our market is flooded with imports from Mexico, China and other places where it is turned out at slave labor rates. This is a problem the leadership of our government has orchastrated so that the money changers can profit and damn the manufacturer. Even if your work is higher quality it will be compared to the imported stuff which you can not compete against.

    I know smiths making from $30 to $100/hr (when producing). They all have the machinery to be highly efficient. Shears, ironworkers and saws to cut the stock, power hammers and presses to forge it. A friend that has a repeat $100/hr job has just purchased a bigger machine to do the same job. He is estimating the bigger machine will double production!

    The consumer market is a rough place. But making parts for small industry is often highly proffitable. Lots of machine shops need hot bending and welding done that they are not setup to do in-house. Let them know your capabilities. If they need your services they will ask for a quote. Be prompt. They are probably waiting for your quote to include in theirs. Sometimes simple bending jobs can be a huge headache for the machine shop but right up your alley.

    McMaster Carr has most of their chain available in "standard" finish (unplated). See our links page.

    -- guru Sunday, 09/20/98 03:37:38 GMT

    CLEAR FINISH: IF clear lacquer doesn't give you a bright enough finish you are not going to get it. The natural color of the steel is STEEL colored. The color you are speaking of generally comes from fine powdered metal attached to the surface. All finishes that seal this also wet the powder and darken the finish.

    NOTE: There are lacquers and there is real lacquer. The only folks I've found that sell the old fashioned nitrocellulous lacquer are the musical instument people. Try Stewart-McDonalds Guitar supply.

    One option is to use stainless steel and not finish it. Looks great forever. . .

    -- guru Sunday, 09/20/98 03:45:30 GMT

    Grandpa...Just wanted to let you know. I got the shelving out of the forge and it was destroyed by the flux and had eaten a small hole in one section, but did little damage to the forge bottom. Also heat treated/tempered the twist damascus and had no untwisting/warping at all on the two pieces involved. I did temper at 50deg F lower as you suggested. Thanks for the help.

    Randall Guess -- rguess at Sunday, 09/20/98 15:33:04 GMT

    Guru..I picked up a hand crank blower last week while in North Alabama, at a flea market. Paid $70.00..what a deal...runs smoothly without chatter at normal operating rpm. There is
    no name on it anywhere. On the crank shaft are B1F stamped into it..Any idea who made it?

    Randall Guess -- rguess at Sunday, 09/20/98 15:39:07 GMT


    No clue on the blower.

    Was given a sugestion for forge liners at the AFC conference. Use unglazed red clay tiles! The earthenware type should take the heat and are CHEEP!

    Do not use glazed tiles they will weld to your forge, and white clay tiles are made from low temp firing clay and the clay will actually melt. I actually boiled some white ceramic clay when we were firing some little tiles!

    -- guru Sunday, 09/20/98 16:59:54 GMT

    Hi Jock. Your last post was interesting. I was about to say that I can get bricks used in airtight wood stoves at a good price and wanted to know if they would be suitable as a forge liner. The question now becomes are these types of bricks suitable, or should I try and find unglazed clay tiles? Thanks, Mark

    Mark Hachmer -- marlin at Sunday, 09/20/98 21:39:03 GMT

    REFRACTORY BRICKS (Mark): The point of the tiles is that they are wide, thin and cheap. The problem being addressed is flux eating up the bottom of gas forges. Special ceramic drip "pans" are made for this purpose but are relatively expensive. The tiles are cheap enough to use for a week and then throw them away. Another layer of bricks would get fused AND let flux pass through to the forge lining. They would also take up a lot of space in small gas forges.

    Most wood stoves have the same grade of refractory brick that is used in building domestic chimneys. These bricks are often only good to 1,900 or 2,100 degrees F. Gas and oil forges run from 2,400 to 3,200 degrees F.

    Refractories come in a wide variety of grades and look pretty much alike so it is hard to tell what you are getting when you pick up bricks from an unknown source. Most foundries use the best refractories that they can get and these are generaly suitable for forge linings also. The refractory bricks found at your local construction supply generaly are not this type although they sometimes accidentaly get some.

    -- guru Sunday, 09/20/98 22:06:24 GMT

    Help, I'm looking for plans on how to make a gas fired heat treat furnace with T/C's and a controller. I've already done an electric one but it is to slow and does not get hot enough. I'll be using it to heat treat knives. Thanks, Mike

    Mike Doust -- mdoust at Sunday, 09/20/98 23:58:03 GMT

    For those of you that don't check "what's new" here are a few tidbits posted over the weekend.

  • On the Power hammer Page I've added a page with drawings and specs for a new JYH.

  • Under 21st Century I've added a new anvil hardness test and test data in Anvils-5

  • These hardness tests had me scrambling around on the floor chasing errant steel balls with an affinity for dark places all afternoon! The results are interesting. We will update it occasionaly.

    -- guru Sunday, 09/20/98 23:58:28 GMT

    do you know where i can get a gas forge
    or how much they cost
    im just begining i have never done this befor
    and the amount of space i have is limited

    edward n vasquez -- smokmoonchild at rocketmail Monday, 09/21/98 02:15:26 GMT

    damascas specifics.

    >Did the blades consist of 4 materials, or were they made of only two steels?

    The blades were of two steels 52100 and 1018 with nickle sheet between each layer.

    >How were the heattreated?

    The entire blade brought to non-magnetic. and quenched in corn oil. I believ the
    back of the blade was then softend.
    It may have been tempered in the oven 400 degrees for 2-3 hours.

    >Does bend too much refer to elastic or plastic deformation?

    Bend as in stays bent. no spring back. I think that is plastic deformation
    if I remember collage physics.

    >What were the relative porportions of the steels?
    I think it was one to one. 1/2 mild and 1/2 52100.
    it may have been on to two 1 mild for every 2 52100 layer.

    so the basic question is :
    what proportions of high, med, low carbon steels make the best
    short knife?
    Long knife.?

    Nicholas Marcelja -- nam at Monday, 09/21/98 16:45:02 GMT

    Mine is more of a request than a question. A cousin is looking of buyers of "Charcoal" and has requested I browse the Internet for him. Could you help, please!

    Clement O. Alabi -- C.Alabi at Monday, 09/21/98 20:10:24 GMT


    PETER KELLER -- PJKELLER at EROLS.COM Tuesday, 09/22/98 01:22:08 GMT

    Hey guys,

    I'm looking to contact a man that I'm told shows up here some times,
    his name is "Josh Greenwood". I would like to ask him some questions about power hammer insert tools. I have a desire to learn about all the techniques that I use on the anvil to be used under the dies in My hammers.
    "The Blacksmith's Wright" Perry Mc

    Perry McLemore -- jpdmcci at Tuesday, 09/22/98 02:30:07 GMT

    GAS FORGES: Centaur Forge carries a wide variety of sizes and styles. I would recomend one of the small NC forges to start.

    Clement, a few smiths use charcoal. I don't know of any dealers that buy it but there are a few around.

    STONE HAMMERS: As I understand it stone hammers are dressed both by forging and by grinding. If by grinding only then heat treatment should not be necessary. If by forging then then the hammer will need to rehardened and tempered. The specifics of these processes are dependant on the type of steel used to make the hammers. When the alloy or carbon content is unknown the process is somewhat trial and error requiring considerable experiance.

    Most books on blacksmithing have some practical information on hardening and tempering. Try the Jack Andrews book NEW Edge of the Anvil it can be ordered from Centaur Forge. Jack does a good job covering both theory and practical aspects of heat treatment. Ask for a copy of Centaur's catalog too as it has a long list of books on various revalent subjects. You may also want to try ASM International (see links page). They publish most of the current technical metalurgical books including The Heat Treater's Manual

    Perry, I'm currently staying with Josh while doing some work for him. If you send him e-mail care of meI will forward it to him (he's not yet "wired"). Josh is planing on having the Central Virginia Blacksmith's Guild at his shop for a demo (in November I think). I'll get specifics posted ASAP. Meanwhile there are a number of short articles showing Josh at work in the anvilfire NEWS starting in Volume 1.

    Virtually all anvil and hand tool techniques can be used under power hammers depending on the type of hammer. Many mechanicals (ie Little Giants) are not controllable enough for certain type of hand held chaseing work. Air hammers are the best for much of the most sophisticated work. Otherwise, if you do it by hand on the anvil you can do it under the hammer.

    Unless you are doing production work special dies are generaly clamped to the bottom die. You can also use hand held clapper dies and die sets (just like in punch presses but designed for the hammer). Punches and chasing tools should be as short as possible to prevent them from accidentally getting out of control.

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/22/98 03:28:55 GMT

    Where can I find a "nail header" to purchase???

    Paula -- psyfund2 at Tuesday, 09/22/98 15:20:58 GMT


    It'd probably be easier to make one! I don't know of anyone that sells them. Where are you?

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 09/22/98 22:25:49 GMT

    I had a visit from my local Ingersol Rand rep yesterday and he gave me a price on the biggest single phase compressor that I can get. Its a 7.5 hp unit with all the bells and whistles. Low oil switch,auto drain,after cooler(?),etc. His price was $1775.00. This beats Graingers by about $500.00. My question is about the other products
    he's pushing,a refridgerated dryer for $950. and a filter for around $175.00. Any thoughts anyone?
    Rainy in New Jerseeey

    Pete -- Ravnstudio at Tuesday, 09/22/98 22:51:39 GMT


    For most things you'll be using air for in a shop the fancy dryer and filter shouldn't be nessasary. If you have a LOT of humidity and you find you end up with too much water in your lines or your air tools icing up then get the refer/dryer. They are required if you plan to do a lot of spray painting, I guess. Or running pnumatic surgical/dental tool!

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Wednesday, 09/23/98 02:01:43 GMT

    Jim Wilson:

    Boy, you sure know how to drive the customers away! The correct answer is: "What size do you want?".

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Wednesday, 09/23/98 02:04:02 GMT

    NAIL HEADERS (Paula): Tom Clark of the Ozark School of Blacksmithing and this years AFC conference nail heading contest winner (second time in a row) makes and sells nice tool steel nail headers. Everyone in the contest was using Tom's headers! I don't have his address handy but I'm sure you'll find it on the ABANA site under schools.

    Refrigerated air dryer. . . Pretty high tech and strictly for painting or on LARGE air distribution systems. If you put a trap on the end of the line just below where you draw air it will remove a large amount of condensed water.

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/23/98 02:34:00 GMT

    Thanks guys, thought I was getting "sold", although it really is humid here,why just the other day they were passing out emergency snorkels... on that note, nite all

    Pete -- Ravnstudio at Wednesday, 09/23/98 03:38:28 GMT

    Nicholas: A couple of comments: You may be expecting too much of the 52100/1018 blades. Only the 52100 portion of the blade is heattreatable, and can't be expected to equal a blade made entirely from 52100. ( in your blade, less than half is made from 52100, or in the other case less than 67%) The heattreat may also be a contributing factor. If you took the temperature of the blade as much as 100 degrees f above the change to nonmagnetic, then the temperature of the finish of the hardening would be below room temperature, and you would have retained austenite. There is no BEST proportion of high,med,low carbon steel for knives. A good proportion would give an average of about .80% carbon. The BEST steel for a slicing knife would not be the BEST steel for chopping knife.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 09/23/98 05:21:55 GMT


    I musta been sleepy. (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 09/23/98 11:50:22 GMT

    Guru..thanks for the comment on red clay tiles..I have about 20 of those laying around and will give them a try. I had 2 years of pottery/ceramics in college about 30 years ago and understand about using non glazed tiles. I also located a supplier of refractories in Jacksonville, Fl, about 30 miles south of here. They carry all types of firebrick, castables and Kaowool type insulation in 1 and 2", so I will also check there soon. Thanks again for the info and for providing such a great site here.

    Randall Guess -- rguess at Wednesday, 09/23/98 13:48:44 GMT

    >Nicholas: A couple of comments: You may be expecting too much of the 52100/1018 blades.
    >Only the 52100 portion of the blade is
    >heattreatable, and can't be expected to equal a blade made entirely from 52100.
    >( in your blade, less than half is made from 52100, or in the other case less than 67%)

    yep . these were experiments. We only did one billet of this stuff. found out it bends too much.
    we have gone to a 1084 and nickle. 1084 was all we could find locally.
    we layer in 5160 to give blank areas in the pattern.
    We would prefer 52100 if We can find it in 1/8 x 3/4 flat stock. or about that size.

    >The heattreat may also be a contributing factor.

    >If you took the temperature of the blade as much as 100 degrees f above the change to nonmagnetic,
    >then the temperature of the finish of the hardening would be below room
    >temperature, and you would have retained austenite.

    you are saying that we need to go 100+ degrees F higher than non-magnetic? ok.

    >There is no BEST proportion of high,med,low carbon steel for knives. A good
    >proportion would give an average of about .80% carbon.

    That sounds like a good rule of thumb.

    >The BEST steel for a slicing knife would not be the BEST steel for chopping knife.

    which steel would give good contrast to 52100 ?

    Nicholas Marcelja -- nam at Wednesday, 09/23/98 19:50:37 GMT

    Hey Guru,
    I have this report and I have to talk about gunsmithing in the colonial times. (Mainly before 1772) and i was wondering if you could give me any links to any resourceful pages with lots of info. Please! I need this info by next Tuesday the 29, of Sept.
    Thank you,

    Jeff -- ethanallen39 at Thursday, 09/24/98 02:08:06 GMT

    Jeff, I don't have the URL handy but try searching for Dixie Gun Works (THE muzzleloading source - they DO have a web site and the print catalog is worth the money). And write to Fred Holder. The link and his e-mail address is on our home page See Blacksmith's Gazette. Fred used to publish Black Powder Times and Then and Now. Centaur Forge has a lot of books on gunsmithing but you'd need a credit card and UPS overnight shipping to get the books before your deadline.

    There may be some good web pages: Perhaps some of our other readers will respond. I should have the Dixie site on the Links page but I don't.

    Gunsmithing is not my specialty, though I have studied the early methods. Your public library will probably have some books on gunsmithing - look up black powder rifle or muzzle loading.

    Let me know if you have any technical questions I can help you with.

    -- guru Thursday, 09/24/98 02:44:03 GMT

    CONTRAST (Nicholas): When using alloy and non-alloy steels the contrast comes from the alloy steels being more resistant to the acid etch than the plain carbon steels. Most alloy steels have nickle or chrome or both. The more of either or both the more resistant to the etch. Nickle gives the steel a yellowish cast and chrome more blue.

    Low carbon steels and NO carbon wrought iron are more resistant than high carbon non-alloy steels.

    Severity of etch and colorant determine the contrast of laminated steels as much as any factor. Your nickle-200/high carbon has a natural high contrast but nearly the same can be done without the extreame in materials. Contrast is also produced by variation in pattern where the width of laminates change radically.

    -- guru Thursday, 09/24/98 02:57:01 GMT

    Nicholas: I think we have a communication problem. When you say "it bends too much" do you mean that the resistance to bending is too low(ie. that the steel is not stiff enough), or do you mean that the angle of deflection to cause plastic deformation is less than you expect? My comments about the nonmagnetic temperature were meant to show that you may have got the test piece too hot to achieve maximum mechanical properties. If the nonmagnetic condition is used to indicate temperature for quenching, the the lowest temperature at which the piece is nonmagnetic is the best for quenching.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Thursday, 09/24/98 04:50:11 GMT


    I'm just starting out blacksmithing, and so far concentrating on knifemaking more that any other aspect. Just wondering what steel Nicholson files were made out of(O-1, W-1?), and what the best hardening quench for that particular steel would be. So far I've tried oil(5w-30 engine oil) and regular water, with pretty mixed results.

    Thank y'all
    Just cooling down in the Midwest...

    John McMillin -- Jmcmil4359 at Thursday, 09/24/98 04:56:02 GMT

    Dixie Gun Works URL -

    Chris Haviland -- chaviland at Thursday, 09/24/98 12:29:17 GMT

    try going to
    This guy has a lot of links, many of which are gunmakers or people who should be very knowledgable about muzzleloaders.
    Good luck

    David White -- ednet.dwhite at Thursday, 09/24/98 12:57:55 GMT

    John: File steel is usually W-1, with a carbon content up to 1.35%. To get the highest hardness a very fast quench is needed. Water at roon temperature or below, or brine would be even better.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Thursday, 09/24/98 13:00:45 GMT

    >When you say "it bends too much" do you mean that the resistance to bending
    >is too low(ie. that the steel is not stiff enough),
    >or do you mean that the angle of deflection to cause plastic deformation is less than
    >you expect?

    I will have to ask John. He actually made the knives and said that they bent too readaly.
    I think it is both.

    >If the nonmagnetic condition is used to indicate temperature for quenching, the the lowest
    >temperature at which the piece is nonmagnetic is the best for quenching.

    Thanks for the hint. I have been useing the non magnetic point as the minimum and going a little

    Nicholas Marcelja -- nam at Thursday, 09/24/98 16:42:28 GMT


    having invested in a large air compressor to power my BULL air hammer., I have air lines
    all thru my garage.

    Question: what are the best brands of air powered tools around?

    what are the cheapest?

    I am looking for dremmel type tools and polishing/grinding tools for knife makeing.

    Nicholas Marcelja -- nam at Thursday, 09/24/98 16:47:41 GMT

    AIR TOOLS: Best and Cheapest? Loaded questions. . . Chicago Pneumatic was good when I was buying their tools back in the late 60's. I think Snap-On tools sells a line of air tools with good warranty and support. Both are (or were) domestic products.

    Cheapest are whatever imports you find. Saw some real inexpensive die grinders at Wal-Mart a while back and almost bought one since my old one had bit the dust (unknown brand with a zillion hours).

    For Dremmel power in a hand grinder a little 3/4" diameter unit like a dentist's drill works great and has more power than the electric! If you are into miniature carving/engraving dentist's machines are great put hard to find used.

    Your air motors will have a long life it you be sure to have an oiler on the line. The best system if you have a distributed air system is to put the oiler and filter on a quick disconnect and only use it with the air motors and the hose specificaly dedicated to them. Then you can also use the air for spray painting and blow off without the oil contamination. I use small hose for "stingers" on my air tools for flexability.

    If you use quick disconnects be sure to by an industrial grade from an industrial supplier. They come with fairly standard ends but most "store" brands are not interchangable with anyone elses and you end up with a real mess.

    -- guru Thursday, 09/24/98 21:24:51 GMT

    DIXIE GUN WORKS: It had been a while since I had checked their web page and it hasn't changed much. Like a lot of folks they don't yet understand that people using the web want information! Their catalog is full of wonderful history, photos and how-to info. The web page is still pretty dull. They want you to order their catalog and thats what you have to do to get any info other than prices of currently available guns.

    I will add them to our links list because need for it keeps coming up.

    -- guru Thursday, 09/24/98 21:43:11 GMT

    Chicago Pneumatic is still pretty good. I've got a 1/2" impact wrench of their's that's about 10 years old. Several other tools as well.

    I don't use an inline oiler, instead I just shoot a squirt of WD40 into the intake of the tool before I connect it to the hose. Probably not as good as an inline oiler, but it works for me.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 09/24/98 22:42:40 GMT

    Chris and David, Thanks for the links! The tripod/~SCOTT site looks VERY informative and indeed does have a lot of links.

    Jeff, if the tripod/~SCOTT site or on of its links doesn't have what you are looking for its probably not on the Internet.

    One tid bit, the idiom "just a flash in the pan" comes from when a flintlock gun missfires and the powder in the pan makes a flash (and a big puff of smoke) but the gun doesn't go off.

    From blacksmithing we have "too many irons in the fire". Most people don't really understand this term until they try blacksmithing and burn up a few pieces of iron while trying to heat too many at once and can't keep up!

    Gunsmithing, and the need to produce identical interchangable parts is one of the forces that drove the development of machine tools like the milling machine.

    Good luck with your report!

    -- guru Thursday, 09/24/98 22:43:38 GMT

    JIM! That WD-40 is too thin for air tools! 3in1 or ATF transmission fluid is better. A few drops at the connector works for a LOT of people. AND any oil is better than NO oil. OIL those machines folks!

    -- guru Thursday, 09/24/98 22:48:24 GMT


    For years, I didn't oil them at all. Then a couple of years ago Mike, (the machinist son) got on my case about it. Gave me hell, and enjoyed it. (I think it was the first time he'd ever gotten up the nerve to give me a tail chewing! grin) He's the one that told me to use WD40. He agrees that it's really too thin, but he reasoned that I ALWAYS have a can around somewhere close, and I'd at least use it.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 09/25/98 01:41:25 GMT

    I, of course have an opinion on air tools. I've owned $400.00 die grinders and $15.00 die grinders. All I ever use anymore is the CHEAP ones. I can buy four or five at a time and throw one away when it quits. I also like being able to have two or three hooked up with different tools in them, less tool changing. I like to buy high quality tools, but I just consider these consumables! Oiling them just makes a mess, but tools that I do oil use only air tool oil. WD-40 has it's uses but it's little more than kerosene and hasn't much lubricity.

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Friday, 09/25/98 01:41:56 GMT

    I agree on the cheap air tools. I haven't seen the real value in the more expensive air tools and sometimes the cheap ones last pretty darn long. In our shop the only time the die grinders generaly got oiled was when they couldn't get any compression! Then a few drops of oil and they'd run for a few more days.

    Another reason the cheap air tools hold their own is that the collet chucks on most of this type of tool fails before the air motor and the cheap ones seem to have as good a chuck as the expensive ones. Changing tools is a big part of the wear and tear. Do like Grant and put a different tool in several units and they may last for years.

    When I bought a rather pricey air ratchet from Snap-On it came with a little bottle of red oil. It had the consistancy of ATF and I asked the dealer if that was what it was. He wouldn't answer directly but indicated that I was right. . .

    I personaly like to buy American and oil MY tools!

    -- guru Friday, 09/25/98 02:01:30 GMT

    I'm not going to stump hard for not oiling. For me if I get a year out of a $15.00 die grinder (and I usually do!)I'm happy. Hate air tools blowing out oil!

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Friday, 09/25/98 02:36:49 GMT


    A year? Hell, I only paid $19 for my die grinder, and it's three years old. Course, I don't use mine NEARLY as much as you use yours.
    And your reason for not oiling is why I don't do it as much as I should. I always forget to wrap a rag around it and run it for a coouple of seconds before starting to work with it. Then I can't hang onto the damn thing!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 09/25/98 11:18:06 GMT

    Dear Guru and friends: Thanks for your help with my question about a famous company named after Vulcan. I had already known about the many companies with Vulcan in their name. I should have told you that the company I was looking for did not have Vulcan in the name. But I found the answer and I think it's interesting. It's Arm & Hammer. The famous baking soda manufacturer was once a metalworking company whose trademark, the arm and hammer, represented Vulcan, the Roman god of metalworking. When the company reconfigured it kept the trademark, which we now see in our kitchens, on our toothpaste, etc. So the next time you see that familiar arm and hammer on a box of baking soda, you'll remember Vulacan, the patron god of your wonderful trade!

    Daniel Hillyard -- hillyard at Friday, 09/25/98 14:26:54 GMT

    Jim Wilson:

    Wrap a rag around the die grinder? Now there's a real safety tip, boys and girls! Remember, you heard it here first! Boggles the mind. Don't forget to reach in with your hand to pull out the chips when you're drilling in the drill press too! (sly grin)!

    GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Friday, 09/25/98 15:03:23 GMT


    You horse's behind! You know what I meant. (grin)

    But, for clarification purposes! Wrap a rag around the base of the die grinder, hold it away from your body, run it just long enough to throw the excess oil out of the exaust ports, and shut it off.

    Wipe the ejected oil off of the die grinder(and your hand), and go to work.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 09/25/98 21:02:58 GMT


    I was wondering about the Slack-tub Pub, will you be getting it back on line soon. I'M interested in the concept of live smith chat in the evenings and on the weekends. It won't be long for me till the festival, and reenactment season is over.

    Warm and dry at the beginning of corn and bean harvest. Perry

    Perry McLemore -- jpdmcci at Friday, 09/25/98 21:29:28 GMT


    While I can't answer for the guru, I do know that he is trying to get The Slack-Tub Pub back on line. It was originally set up on a server in New Zealand, and is having to be moved to a server in Virginia. How long it will take, is sort of anybody's guess.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 09/26/98 00:37:37 GMT

    Jim pretty much covered the Slack-Tub Pub situation. Currently I can only work on page building on the weekends and occasionaly those are not avialable either (nothing like seven 18 hour days a week)!

    However, getting the Slack-Tub Pub back on-line is a priority as it was used more than I had dreamed it would. The original plan was to host moderated talks with quest speakers. Several talks are more or less agreed to and waiting for me to get the bugs out of the system.

    Vulcan/Arm and Hammer Anvils: I'm afraid I didn't have my copy of Anvils in America by Richard Postman (see anvilfire book review) when I attempted to answer your question. The Vulcan Arm and Hammer anvil was made by the Illinois Iron and Bolt Co. Another anvil with the Arm and Hammer logo was made by Columbus Anvil and Forging Company. I'm almost sure the Arm and Hammer baking soda company predates the demise of these companies. You may want to check your information with Mr. Postman. If you are right he would be intrested in knowing but he also may be able to help determine if the information is incorrect. His address is included with the review of the book.

    OBTW - I am told there are STILL some of the limited editions of Anvils in America available. Place your Christmas orders before the rush!

    -- guru Saturday, 09/26/98 02:08:39 GMT

    I'm operating from home, as well as the National Park Service now. (My wife picked the e-mail name, very applicable here at Crumbling Acres, er, Oakley Farm. On to the question:

    What are masonry nails made of? You know, those cut nails or spikes that we're forever driving into crevices in cinder blocks or attempting to insert into the cement joints. The ones that go flying off at a high velocity, with a shower of sparks from the hammer head, and an oath from you, as it ricochets about the room. I assume they are something simple like 1095, but the way they act, they may be more exotic. They sure reenforce the "always wear eye protection" school of industrial safety. (Body armor might not be a bad idea, either.)

    Warm and humid (what I refer to as "balmy") on the banks of the lower Potomac.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Sunday, 09/27/98 03:18:44 GMT

    CONCRETE NAILS: Hmmmmm, good question. A cut nail, hard to the point of being brittle. Architectual Graphic Standards lists several cut nails, Flooring, sheathing. . . Materials, iron or steel (also non-ferrous). Under concrete it says hardened.

    Following references had nothing:

  • Standard Handbook of Fastening and Joining, McGraw-Hill

  • Handbook of Engineering Materials, Wiley

  • Fastener Standards, Industrial Fasteners Inst.

  • Marks, Mech. Engineering Handbook - 6th Ed, McGraw-Hill

  • Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute Design Handbook

  • Concrete Engineering Handbook, McGraw-Hill

  • A few of these references had drawings and weight per pound but none gave specifics on materials. If one of my older references were to give the material it would probably be one of those wonderful discriptive terms like "plow steel" and a new reference would give an ASTM spec which is almost as good as saying go-to-hell.

    ASTM specs change constantly and must be purchased from ASTM. When you DO get one it likely references six other ASTM specs and even when you get THEM you may find they specify a minimum mechanical condition and is not specific about the type of steel (that's what I found on re-bar).

    Yep, I think its plow steel!

    Bruce, try a comparitive spark test. They won't be an alloy steel unless you got a batch made of scrap (RR-Rail. . .) that meets the mechanical spec.

    -- guru Sunday, 09/27/98 14:45:15 GMT

    I would appreciate some good suggestions for making a piviot or bearing for a large weathervane. The size is 27"by27" and its weight is 15 lbs. Thank You in advance for any help, S>A>E.

    Stephen Erickson -- E26FISH at Sunday, 09/27/98 17:17:29 GMT

    WEATHER VANE PIVOT: For the "axle" I use a piece of 5/16" steel about 10-12" long forged to a point with about a 1/16" flat on the end. The outside is a piece of 1/4" pipe with a plug welded in the end. The plug should have a depression drilled in it to make a low angle non binding center for the pointed axle to ride in. The outside can be forged or decorated. I've built several this way and they are all still working. The axle should be lightly greased when the vane is installed. For a weather vane of the weight you are making I might use 3/8" schedule 40 pipe with a 7/16" axel. I like the length of the axle to be equal to the height of the vane so that the pivot is at the top or slightly above the vane.

    To work well a weather vane should be carefully balanced. This can be done with the axle horizontal and weight added and removed until the vane will remain horizontal or in any position it is placed. You can also play with the length of the arrow (if you have one) to correct the balance. Correctly balanced the vane will ride on the point of the above bearing and be very low friction.

    If you want to get high tech, order a little 3/8" OD stainless steel ball bearing from PIC and mount it in the top end of the tube.

    -- guru Sunday, 09/27/98 17:59:32 GMT

    request any info about blacksmith forge recently purchased at auction....The forge is about 2x4 with handcrank blower (looks real old )...its has the following name cast in the front.

    Would be interested if any one has info about this old forge

    michael greer -- michael.greer at Monday, 09/28/98 00:57:33 GMT

    Jock, I see what you mean about the torsional stress I'd be putting on my frame assy'. I'll move that bob-weight to the front of the MWJYH and probably add a flywheel to the back. Thanks for the counsel, oh Great Zen-Hammer-meister. cold in MN Brian Odin Forge

    brian rognholt -- brognholt at Monday, 09/28/98 09:48:20 GMT

    Results of Air Tools question
    most people said that the cheaper brands worked ok for a small/home shop. Buy the top of the line if you are doing heavy production work.
    Harbor Freight
    Central Pnumatic
    Halbol Flate cheap
    Chicago Pneumatics medium


    Nicholas Marcelja -- nam at Monday, 09/28/98 17:44:04 GMT

    I'm relatively new to Blacksmithing. I've read the book"The New Edge of the Anvil" from cover to cover a couple of times now, and I'm ready to start pounding metal. How do I start? I currently rent a home. I'm 34 years old and a Nuclear Submarine Engineer. Don't have lots of money, but interested in getting started. I move in a couple of months and need a setup that can be portable or at least not affect this rental home. Can you help?? Appreciate the help. Use to read all the posts on The Forge before I deployed. Now I'm back and got the bug again. I go down to the Mystic Seaport here in Connecticut and watch as often as I can.

    Sincerely, Roger

    Roger Nolter -- rognolter at Monday, 09/28/98 22:21:39 GMT


    A gas forge can be small and light weight. They produce a clean exhaust so they can be used anywhere you could use a charcoal (or gas) grill. (See the Camp Fenby edition of the anvilfire NEWS for an example). They are not hard to build and are also reasonable to buy. Contact Centaur Forge and get a catalog if you don't have one.

    Other than a forge you need an anvil (and hammer). In this case bigger is better but a 100-125 pound anvil is portable and big enough for a starter. I once saw in someone's book an anvil cover on wheels that looked like a doghouse! Blend into suburbia!

    Besides forge and anvil a vise anchored to a bench (picnic table or custom stand) is nice, a hack saw and some small tools and you have everything you need to start. Everyone is into fancy imported French hammers these days but a standard cross pien pattern from the hardware store or trade lot is all you realy need. Some smiths get used to using a large ball pien and then swear by them! Don't get too big a hammer at first. 2 lbs is good.

    That's a start.

    -- guru Monday, 09/28/98 23:10:43 GMT

    I am looking for a coal fired forge that uses a hand crank blower. I cannot find one of these in catalogs or in stores, yet my teacher uses them, and has a few. They are the most wonderful forges, giving excellent temperature control, and not wasting coal, and clinkers are not a problem. I would really appriciate a response, as i am looking for this forge for my father as a gift, price is not an issue. His birthday is sept. 30, and i am hoping to have ordered one by then, please get back to me guru!

    Andrew Peterson -- lucid at Monday, 09/28/98 23:51:02 GMT

    Thanks a bunch for this site. I think it's great. Keep up the good work..

    Can you tell me where to buy in small amounts, Durablanket ceramic fiber to line the inside of a homemade forge.

    Also a #70 drill bit and what's the best way to drill that small of a hole. Thanks in advance....

    Randy Crabtree -- rcrabtree1 at Tuesday, 09/29/98 01:03:19 GMT

    Andrew, I think you are out of luck. Hand crank blowers haven't been made for a few years. All those beautiful (old) blowers were very likely made in the last century or in the early part of this one.

    The last time there was any production of hand crank blowers was in the 60's when home bomb shelters were a big item. The same folks that made the blacksmiths blowers tooled up for them and then that was the end (as best as I know).

    Try some used equipment dealers. Bruce Wallace (our Peddinghaus anvil dealer) handles a lot of used equipment (see the directory or the banner ad). Then try Steve Kayne. Steve sells a lot of new equipment but may have a forge stashed away.

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/29/98 01:31:01 GMT

    DURABLANKET and KOAWOOL are foundry products that are primarily sold in bulk (cartons of 24" x 20 yards or so). Once in a while you can find a furnace repair outfit that repairs boilers and such that use it and often discard more than you need!

    The other thing to do is check around with your fellow smiths. I've been planning a forge building workshop but haven't scheduled it. The plan would be to buy refractorys and divide them up among the people that sign up for the workshop. The only catch is the initial purchase. . . (you could always presell).

    Many hardware and fasteners suppliers sell drill bits individualy and generaly have the number sizes. The small drills sell for a dollar or so.

    Drilling small holes is not too much of a problem. Most electric drills run way too fast for drilling metal but work great with small bits that need the high speed. The trick to most drilling is to steadily apply pressure so you keep making chips. A little lubricant does wonders too. WD-40 is OK. For critical work you need a product called Tapfree OR Rapidtap. Taping fluids generally reduce the pressure required to make a nice crisp chip.

    Be sure to check your drill chuck. Many do not go to "0" or may stop somewhere bigger than your #70 drill.

    Small hand crank drills (the ones that look like an egg beater) work great for small holes too.

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/29/98 01:53:55 GMT

    How do you tarnish copper quickly
    thanks Roy Herndon

    Roy Herndon -- herndon at Tuesday, 09/29/98 08:13:51 GMT


    According to an old recipe book that I have, a solution of sal ammoniac should give copper a nice patina.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 09/29/98 11:46:41 GMT

    COPPER PATINA: First be sure the copper is clean, wax and oil free. Any oil (from your hands) or wax will cause streaking. A fine sandpaper finish (to give the surface tooth) helps. Then apply a mild acid like dilute hydrochloric (muratic) acid. This takes a little while. Dilute sulphuric acid may give brighter color as copper sulfate is a nice bright turqoise.

    I've never tried it put I expect that clorox bleach will do the same to copper that it does to steel. A fery fast corrode. Be sure to work outdoors AND with plenty of ventilation. Some reactions with bleach release a lot of deadly chlorine gas.

    There may be some better ways - maybe someone else has some sugestions.

    -- guru Tuesday, 09/29/98 11:47:43 GMT

    Fast copper tarnish --

    Check w/ a jewler's supply place and get some liver of sulphur. A couple of tiny lumps in water will get you a deep blue-black about as fast as you can flow it on. Keep solution (and lumps) in a dark-colored, tightly-stoppered glass bottle. Don't use screw threads, use a cork. Metal screw tops become a lump of corrosion and tightly glued to the glass. For colored patinas, try ammonia fumes,
    salt water, etc. Clean metal -> uniform color. Grease and dirt tend
    to mask the chemicals...

    Morgan Hall -- morganh at Tuesday, 09/29/98 15:54:01 GMT

    Copper patina: what color do you want? Ferric nitrate Gives a real nice brown. Put it on (about 6 tsp/quart) warm use a torch to heat the copper so the solution sizzles alittle and swirl with a brush and then wax, is beuuutiful. If you heat the copper to bright red and quench
    then apply patina you ain't gona believe the reds you can get,but don't tell anyone it's a secret.
    For greens and blues you will need a more complicated formula. I recomend going to an art supply store and asking for JAX brand,in the NE its popular here. Oh just thought go to Barnes and Noble I saw two books on patination there, Ron Youngs is one auther cant remember ta other Pete

    Pete -- Ravnstudio at Tuesday, 09/29/98 17:33:15 GMT

    guru, I have a samurai sword that I want sharpened to a razor edge. It is a good sword but I can't find anyone who can sharpen it to this level, and correctly, or knows anyone or anything about sharpening this sword. I was wondering if you could help me out with a way to get this sword razor sharp. I mean like what tools are best to use in sharpening it.

    mark doyle -- hoot at Tuesday, 09/29/98 17:52:16 GMT


    I am before beginner level but have been fascinated with metalworking for more than 15 years. Presently I have a soft steel sword that I purchased cheap in order to learn with. It has a single edge blade and I want to practice by hamering it into a double edge. I do not have a forge per se, but a fire pit with an air blower to increase the heat.

    My problem is probably a common one, I live in Ohio and winter is comming, how can I build a small forge to put into my garage so that I can stay dry and learn this new hobby?

    Thank You


    Trelam Keirdagh -- keirdagh Tuesday, 09/29/98 23:12:21 GMT


    I am before beginner level but have been fascinated with metalworking for more than 15 years. Presently I have a soft steel sword that I purchased cheap in order to learn with. It has a single edge blade and I want to practice by hamering it into a double edge. I do not have a forge per se, but a fire pit with an air blower to increase the heat.

    My problem is probably a common one, I live in Ohio and winter is comming, how can I build a small forge to put into my garage so that I can stay dry and learn this new hobby?

    Thank You


    Trelam Keirdagh -- keirdagh Tuesday, 09/29/98 23:30:32 GMT

    SHARPENING (to razors edge): Up to a point you use standard sharpening methods. A lot depends on current condition. On dull but not dented edges I start with a common dual surface stone (India/Cardurundom). Hand stone with the coarse side only as much as necessary then switch to the fine red India side. The classic edge is a low taper then a steeper taper just at the edge. Next step would be a smooth Arkansas stone. Finish the four surfaces (the taper on both sides and then the edge). Radius the break between planes with the smooth stone when finished.

    Last step is to sharpen with a leather stroph (sp) OR buffing wheel. In either case you would use Tripoli buffing compound on the dtroph or the wheel. If the blade is exceptionaly hard (or stainless) you may need to use emory (hard black) buffing compound or white stainless buffing compound. All the previous work should have been done toward the edge but buffing should be done moving away from the edge. A light touch is required.

    The last step is tricky on a buffing wheel. Wheels are notoriuos for grabbing the work and in the case of a double edged blade this could mean the loss of some important anatomy. If buffing blades is not your buisness it is best to stick to the leather stroph.

    Sharpening is an art that requires practice and patience.

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/30/98 00:15:48 GMT

    Trelam, You ask a lot of questions. Perhaps more than you know!

    First, the blade. When you forge the edge of a blade making it thinner it also lenghtens causing the blade to curve (a lot). Single edged blades are bent in a curve THEN forged on the inside of the curve until the blade is straight. How much to bend? Experiance is the only answer. When a DOUBLE edged blade is forged each side is worked a little at a time and the blade stays straight. Modifying the one you have may be a problem.

    Indoor forge. When a coal forge is setup indoors you need a GOOD chimney AND adequate ventilation. OR you need a gas forge, high ceilings or a good exhaust hood AND adequate ventilation. Unvented gas forges need a high ceiling due to the high temperature of the exhaust. This statement depends somewhat on the size of the forge. A little single burner atomospheric (no blower) gas forge, can be setup almost anywhere.

    For examples of a good side draft chimney forge see the current anvilfire NEWS (AFC edition) and the Centaur Forge page. These are not cheap but you should be able to build one from the pictures if you have a welder and cutting torch. Masonry chimneys and forges can also be built to the same pattern if you are handy with bricks and mortar. Side draft forge chimneys rely on their small opening to create a high velocity draft across the fire and suck up all the smoke. Big forge hoods are actually bad design because of the large opening requiring a LOT more exhaust. These require a big tall stack OR an exhaust blower.

    When all the costs are considered a gas forge is generally the best option. A lot of folks build their own but this is not a task for everyone. Building your own gas appliance can be dangerous if you are not technically up to the task.

    A last warning. I like gas forges HOWEVER, the clear almost oderless exhaust can be decieving. It is mostly carbon dioxide and if you recirculate that you also get a lot of carbon monoxide. High levels of either can kill you.

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/30/98 00:42:04 GMT

    I'm looking for a metal stamp manufacturer that makes custom stamps (touchmark type thing). I know there are several but I am not where I can research it.

    Thanks for the copper coloring info guys! I'd overlooked the simplest, just a little heat and then oil will give you that not-as bright as a penny look. . .

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/30/98 01:41:21 GMT

    Mark Doyle:

    There are Japanese swords, and there are japanese-type swords. If this is a new made reproduction, or one of the "military issue" types (usually very plain and accompanied by a metal scabard), then go ahead. However, if there is any chance that this is an old origional (and there are still some out there, brought back by "Uncle Billie" during the occupation after WW2) then don't even touch it. It's far more valuable unground, and would have to be sharpened by an expert to retain its value. I have a wootze steel Persian dagger that someone decided to "touch up" on a coarse grinding wheel!

    So if it's modern made, I hope you get a nice shaving edge, but if it looks to be an antique, you may want to contact some of the collectors out there first to verify. When it comes to these, the best policy is: "When in doubt, don't."

    Starry and cool breezes on the banks of the lower Potomac.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Wednesday, 09/30/98 03:50:11 GMT

    Bruce, Thanks again for much needed advice. In the blacksmithing profession we have gotten used to using "antique" tools without regard for keeping them pristine because no one cares. Our tools still have more value as tools rather than colector items. However, it IS different with most other antiquities.

    -- guru Wednesday, 09/30/98 04:44:19 GMT

    Jock, I've been looking for the pics I sent you both in the Junkyard and here on your page. I was just wondering if I'm missing them somewhere or if perhaps you're busier than expected. Thanks! Brian Rognholt Odin Forge warmer in Rochester MN

    BROGNHOLT -- BROGNHOLT at AOL.COM Wednesday, 09/30/98 05:21:12 GMT

    Dear old knowledgeable one and fellow Smiths, If my smithing area,will be when completed,outside the back of my existing shop.What would you suggest I do to prepare the ground in the smithing area?There will not be a roof over it any time soon. I remembering from a past Guru page you have suggested to use pea gravel in the smithing area.Would this be ok to use for this application?I would imagine the grass would have to be dugged out first too? So many questions so little time!!!What would you say would be the best way to support a 12" metal stack that is attacted to a rivet forge if the only things that it can be anchored to is a masonry chimney or manybe the roof?The 12" metal stack will be,when assembled,will stand 15 ft. high.Please give me some ideas? THE BUB

    BUB/The Flatlander -- hagiumet at Wednesday, 09/30/98 09:20:52 GMT

    Jock, I bought a custom stamp through Centaur Forge. I have only used it twice, so I don't have any opinion on longevity.

    Ron -- hmmerhead at Wednesday, 09/30/98 12:45:59 GMT

    Speaking of valuable tools, I just picked up a 144# Wright with a toe clip on the step. Now I know He made some farrier's, but I've never even herd of one over 100#. Could someone please tell me how many of these were made, and when? It's in near perfict state, and I'd hate to ruin a piece of history, but it keeps calling to me!


    Guy Sabrei -- sabrie at Wednesday, 09/30/98 17:10:39 GMT

    One more word about Vulcan/Arm & Hammer: Further research reveals that the logo was first used by a spice mill in the 1860s and it was the spice mill that turned to producing baking soda. Any use of the logo by anvil makers appears to have occurred later, though I'm not sure how they got around the trademark laws. Thanks for you input.

    Daniel Hillyard -- hillyard at Wednesday, 09/30/98 17:38:23 GMT


    Centaur Forge! (grin) I don't think they manufacture themselves, but I've ordered two from them just in the last five years (different sizxes) and been very satisfied.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 09/30/98 17:41:07 GMT


    After you dig out most of the surface grass (you don't have to get it all!) put down a layer of landscaping fabric. It's hydropermeable, so rain will still drain off. And it'll keep the grass from coming up through your "floor". Then put your pea gravel down on top of that. Set your stumps for your anvil and vise BEFORE you put down the gravel, or whatever you decide to use.

    Anchor your stack to the masonry chimney, with metal straps and TAPCON screws. They screw directly into the mortar joints, blocks or bricks, after drilling the correct size pilot hole. Buy a box of a hundred screws, and the right size drill bit is included.

    Personally, I'd put down paver bricks over a thin layer of granit dust or river sand. Directly under the forge, I'd make the layer of sand deeper. That makes a good area to allow hot stuff to cool off.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 09/30/98 17:58:46 GMT

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