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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 November 15 - 30, 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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    Your input, answers and comments on questions to the Guru are welcome.

    -- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
    Unanswered questions from October.
    Blacksmithing school(s) on Faro (sp) Island Denmark?
    Info on Rock Island vises and tools?

    -- guru
    Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
    Thank your for the clarification regarding mortar and refractory bricks, Jock. I got some prices this week and castable refractory is much cheaper than using brick. I think that I may try a pipe forge with a castable lining. I can easily get castable rated at 2800 degrees. What thickness do you recommend? I was considering 1-2"thick. Thanks again...

    Mark Hachmer -- marlin at Sunday, 11/15/98 01:52:13 GMT

    REFRACTORY THICKNESS: Cast forge linings should be at least 2"(50mm) thick, 3" (75mm) would be better. The bigger the forge the thicker the lining should be. Bigger forges see more total BTU and generally get run longer so the outside gets hotter.

    When I use brick I turn the floor bricks on edge to get a full 4.5" (112mm) and set them on bar grating to get air circulation. The sides are stacked normaly for the same thickness and double the top. I've got a handfull of insulating bricks (almost as light as Styrofoam!) that I use on thinner places and top. Under the bottom and on the sides where the controls are I have a sheet metal "heat shield" 1" (25mm) from the refractory and set the controls another 1" from that. The double air gap with open edges is very effective and assures that the controls do not get cooked.

    One of the reasons a brick forge needs to be so heavy is that the brick is fairly dense and conducts heat better than lighter linings. Most castable I've seen was slightly lower density than brick so you should need a little less. Kaowool is such a good insulator that an inch is all that's needed for a small occasional use forge. Idealy the interior of the forge would be thin hard refractory backed by a lighter insulating refractory.

    -- guru Sunday, 11/15/98 02:22:27 GMT

    This morning I was atempting to forge a single edge fixed-blade knife. I fist bent the blade to correct for when I was forming the bevel. This worked, but the problem I had was the edge kept growing outward prependicular to the blade. This would be okay if I was using squarel-tang construction, but I want to use full-tang and have the edge straight with the tang. If you dont have a clue what I am talking about I will try to explain it more clearly. I have only a little experience with Blacksmithing/Bladesmithing, so any info/tips you could provide me with would be extremly helpful.

    Stewart Alexander -- stewart4th at Sunday, 11/15/98 05:07:03 GMT

    BLADE GROWTH (Stewart): This is going to happen to some extent no matter what you do. This is what files, chisles, saws or grinders are for. If you start your tapering at the hilt of the blade and work toward the point (from squared stock) the growth will be forward and you will see that the classic "Bowie" knife profile is a natural result of the forging process. If you forge the tang after forging the blade then the problem doesn't exist and you strain the tang much less from all that forging. Another method is to slightly reduce the tang area to mark its position, then forge the blade and finsh the tang last.

    A note on tangs. Before forging the tang look at one on a file. Those big radiuses are for strength. A sharp cornered tang may be easier to fit the guard to but it is bad design. If you want a square corner to fit the guard to then step the knife in about 1/4 of the width on each side (saw or file) then let the tang taper from there.

    A skilled smith can forge a blade very close to finished dimensions but it requires years of forging pracice to develop the strength and accuracy required. I reccomend to most would be knife makers to spend time forging less difficult projects before attempting to forge a blade. THEN it is benificial to forge a few practice blades out of (cheep) mild steel. Blacksmithing only LOOKS easy. It takes a lot of practice to do clean accurate (unburnt) work.

    -- guru Sunday, 11/15/98 12:43:18 GMT

    Hi. I would like to know how much a wrought iron fence is worth per ft./yd. It's black and has some loops at the top of it. Thank you. DTaylor

    darlene taylor -- darlene at Sunday, 11/15/98 17:17:16 GMT

    I am a novice at blacksmithihg. I have very little experience. I operate a small forge in my backyard. My question is, how do I make coke? I have read books which say that you must pack and water your coal, and once it is heated it will become coke and stick together. I have tried to follow these instructions in every way I know how. My coal/coke does not stick together. I can't always get a very hot fire. How do I know when I've got coke?

    I greatly appreciate your help.


    Tyler Watts
    jhawk at

    To: Anvil GURU -- From: Tyler Watts jhawk at Sunday, 11/15/98 19:57:49 GMT

    COKE: Good coal cokes down as it burns. Some of your burnt coal should look foamy and be lighter than the coal. Coal that cokes well actualy has enough volitiles that it melts and becomes like sticky plastic. This is what glues the coal together. As the heat increases the volitiles that melted then evaporate or gas off and burn. The flames above the fire are the volitiles burning. The glow IN the fire is the coke burning.

    IF you have good coal the coking process is simple. In a clean forge you start a small coal fire (with wood or whatever), turn off the air and then heap on some fresh coal. Good coking coal will smother the fire if its small lump or stoker size so you should poke a hole in the middle. After smoldering for a while (it SHOULD make a viscious yellow smoke) turn the air back on and see how it burns.

    Throughout the day fresh coal is added to a forge fire and raked toward the center as the fire consumes the coke in the center. Depending on how much coal one is burning you should have to pull a clinker out of the center from one to three times a day with good coal. Fire management is one of the many skills required of a smith and it is generally learned by experiance.

    A lot of Western coal is more akin to oil shale and will not coke nor make a very hot fire unless it is quite deep.

    Look close at the remnants of your fire. You should only get about 10% clinker or less. When the fire goes out there should be some coal around the center. If not the problem is the coal not you. Order a bag of good coal from Bruce Wallace or Centaur Forge and try that (our sponsors). Having something to compare to helps a LOT!

    -- guru Sunday, 11/15/98 23:09:28 GMT

    Guru - I have seen you mention oil forges a couple of times now - Do you have any or know of any plans for one - thanks ahead of time

    doug -- rosewood at Sunday, 11/15/98 23:41:30 GMT

    OIL FORGE: A fellow sent me a drawing a while back and I did not post it because it was a little hard to see on the screen. I've intended to redo his drawing and post the information but it is filed with the 200 other little day long things to do that I haven't gotten to.

    As far as I know they are not made comercialy although big oil fueled heat treating furnaces are manufactured.

    The way it worked was simple. A home heating furnace burner was ducted into the side of a firebrick enclosure of about 2 cubic feet. The burner was placed a little higher than the opening so that oil mist that condensed in the duct would run into the forge instead of out. The forge had a door and a top vent. The burner was installed with the ignition system that it came with.

    Another method that is more primitive is to setup a drip or metering valve system in a blower outlet going into a forge enclosure as above. A burning oily rag or paper was placed inside and the blower and oil turned on. . . Not nearly as safe or elegant a solution but it works.

    In both cases the forge must be carefully vented to a chiminey. Oil forges create noxous fumes that are hazardous to your health. The advantage of an oil forge is that it can be run with a reducing flame (slightly rich), therefore is doesn't scale the steel as bad as a gas forge. I suspect an oil forge is also cheaper to run than a gas forge.

    -- guru Monday, 11/16/98 00:40:06 GMT

    WORTH or COST? (Darlene): This is very common old style fencing. If you are talking about the value of old fence then it depends a lot on its condition. A fresh coat of paint may be hiding severe corrosion. If the fence is in good condition the rails will be straight and the pickets tight. You also need to check to be sure all the spear points are there. Most of the time they are cast pieces that are welded or pinned on. If they are forged (part of the original bar) then it is not the standard production stuff.

    The only way I would have a valueing this item is to find out how much it costs to have new made. This fence (if the typical short variety - 3ft tall or less), has about $2-$3/ft in materials and would cost about $8-$15/ft in labor to put together depending on how much there was. A single short run of say 10 feet would cost a lot more than 50 or 100 feet. This puts you at $10 to $20/ft for new without installation or corner posts (if required). Please note that this is just a weekend guestimate based on another guess that this is 30-36" tall fence with 1/2" round bar and 3/8"x1 flat.

    -- guru Monday, 11/16/98 00:58:03 GMT

    Guru, what steel do you recommend for making the dies for a "blacksmiths helper". I have been advise to use H-13 or S-7. S-7 may be better, but reportedly requires professional heatreating, while H-13 can be heatreated and tempered in the forge.

    Additionally, can you recommend a source (at a reasonable price) for .75 to 1.0 thick, 2.0 to 2.5 inches wide bar. I'll need at about 6 feet to make up 10 set of dies (upper about 5 inches long, and the lower 2 inches long). First I plan to get the dies stock, then make the holder frame to fit.

    Bob Johnson -- woodewe at Monday, 11/16/98 18:25:23 GMT

    Hey Guru!
    Congrats on your many hits!. This is indeed a fine site. I was wondering what you thought the rate of a blower for a general purpose coal forge should be in cfm. Thanks.

    Dave -- dwhite at Monday, 11/16/98 18:51:43 GMT

    TOOL STEEL FOR DIES (Bob): Moderate use dies can be made of mild steel! As long as the work is plenty hot and there is no sharp detail you can makes thousands of pieces from mild steel dies.

    SAE 4140 is commonly available and is easy to heat treat. Oil quench and draw slightly immediately after the quench. As a medium carbon steel it is much tougher than mild steel and also works well un-hardened or flame (surface) hardened. For a manualy powered machine this is probably as good a steel as you need.

    H-13 can be bought as Viscount-44 from Latrobe steel. The "44" indicates the Rockwell hardness. This material is just machininable with standard tools in the supplied heat treated condition. It is relatively expensive but avoids a lot of expense and problems other wise. Check this link Latrobe Steel Tool Steel Chart

    All the tool steels are relatively expensive and much more durable than your needs indicate. Even under small power hammers 4140 is plenty good for specialty dies. For the fixed dies in the machine you may want something better but 4140 has also used for this purpose.

    J.T.Ryerson and Sons, Chicago, IL sells all type of steels all over the country. You should also check your local steel supplier. Machine shops will often sell small amounts of tool steel from their inventory. For small quantities of tool steels check your machine tool and cutter suppliers. Industrial hardware wholesalers also sell tool steel. For mail order using a credit card McMaster-Carr is the place to go (see link on Links page). They carry ferrous and non-ferrous metals and sell in small quantities. Under steel they list a variety of stainless, SAE 1018, 12L14, 1045, A-36, 8620, E52100, 4140 and 4140HT. They also carry O-1, A-2, A-6, D-2, 4142, S-7,W-1 and cast iron bar

    -- guru Monday, 11/16/98 19:26:04 GMT

    CENTAUR FORGE: The October catalog update just came in the mail. They are having a sale on Vaughn smithing hammers for $10 and $12 (good price). A bunch of new books are listed including How to Build a Full Sized Coal Forge from Commonly Available Materials, Meador, $9.95, paperback. They list Grant Sarver's spring swage clapper dies for ball ends, rope, tennons and acorn. They also have his replaceable end punches which are designed for power hammer use put I've know people to use them for hand work too. There is also a sale going on on Diamond tools (tongs, hammers). The best deal is the sale price on the Jim Hrisloulas video on two tapes Forging Damascus regularly 39.95 NOW 19.95! Send me a set Bill!

    -- guru Monday, 11/16/98 19:39:00 GMT

    BLOWER SIZE (Dave): Depends on the forge size. Small forges need 140 cfm or so (blow driers are too much), while a full size forge works well at 300 cfm. Having some overkill is helpful. You can ALWAYS vent or valve off some air but you can't get more if you don't have it. The advantage of the little 1/30th HP 140cfm blowers is that you can run them on a light dimmer! If you are building a forge and do long work, a forge with two firepots and dual blowers is a nice setup. You don't always need to have a fire in the second pot.

    -- guru Monday, 11/16/98 19:44:31 GMT

    Dear Guru, Ive been smithing as a hobby for a number of years over 10. I mainly use a home made propane forge for heat. Most aspects of smithing I can do or at least understand . My big stumbling block is forge welding. I also teach a short introductory corse on blacksmithing. Recently I acquired a 100lb Canadian Forge and Blower anvil. The top plate is almost completely broken up and missing. Can you advise me on what type of steel to replace it with? What welding rod? Do a preheat, postheat?Etc?

    Bruce Armon -- armonk at Tuesday, 11/17/98 00:30:38 GMT

    Guru..I read your post about the Centaur Catalogue. Fantastic price on Jim H's video. I bought it when it was full price and it was worth every cent. Anyone wanting to learn to forge weld with propane would do well to grab it at this price. Although the beginning is a bit elementary, it shows detail from making a stack of bars to the finished blade. Now if only you and grandpa would write a few books and make some videos..there is so much we all want to learn from you guys.

    Randall Guess -- rguess at Tuesday, 11/17/98 01:52:58 GMT

    CANADIAN ANVIL (Bruce): I'm not familiar with this anvil and I don't see it in the index of Richard Postman's Anvils in America (Which by the way are selling fast so you'd better order now).

    If the top plate is mostly missing there is a good chance that this is a cast iron anvil with steel plate top like the Fisher-Norris. These anvils had the plate welded in the mold by the hot cast iron when the casting took place (a special process). There is no other way of making this weld. If this is the case you've got a nice antique but that's about it.

    IF it has a forged wrought iron or mild steel body then the top can be repaired by welding. See the archive for the first half of this month for a posting on the same. Note that many of these anvils had a wrought horn so testing it does not tell you if the body is cast iron.

    FORGE WELDING is a kind of Zen like thing that takes practice. Even with the best it is not a guaranteed process. Errors in forge welding include:
  • Heating the metal too fast and getting a surface heat instead of a penetrating one (gas forges are bad about this)

  • Overheating the metal and burning it (if borax flux boils you have gotten too hot).

  • Not fluxing soon enough

  • Striking the joint too hard with the first blow (this sends any liquid surface flying leaving nothing to weld)

  • Not scarfing the weld so that swarf and flux is squeezed out.

  • There are other things that can go wrong but these are the major ones. That Hrisoulas video sounds like a good investment for you (and me).

    -- guru Tuesday, 11/17/98 02:45:38 GMT

    Randall, Thanks for the input on the video, a good thing to know. I have a BUNCH of book projects in the works but since they all look to be about as unprofittable as a web page :) it may be a while before they come to pass. I'll have to see how the JYH handbook turns out.

    -- guru Tuesday, 11/17/98 02:48:41 GMT

    Well I went and did it. I now have a 1.5x18x36 baseplate and a 3' section of 4" solid steel (#457 total added) to increase the mass of the MWJYH. I just can't accept the way it performed. It HAS to be better without transmitting its energy into my garage floor. Will keep y'all posted. Also I got a domain reserved No page up yet but coming soon! drizzle and cool in Rochester MN Brian Rognholt Odin Forge

    Brian Rognholt -- brognholt at Tuesday, 11/17/98 08:03:40 GMT

    Brian, more mass WILL help. If its pounding the heck out of your floor then a bigger anvil (via base plate) will help. Just be sure the connection between anvil and plate is substantial so that it doesn't spring between the two. Good energy and rebound transfer between parts takes good fits.

    On the subject of floors. I found a thing at an agricultural supply store called a "cow pad". Its a thing for cows to lay on! Looks like great material for a shock absorbant pad under machines (feet to). The ones I saw were black rubber with some kind of fill. I don't know if they are oil resistant but the price was right $40 US for about a 4 foot by 5 foot pad (I didn't write down the dimensions). I'm going to pick one up to see how it works. If you have experiance with these please let us know.

    Let me know if I can help you with the page. I've learned a LOT by my mistakes this year!

    -- guru Tuesday, 11/17/98 12:39:48 GMT

    I was looking for plans to make a air forgeing hammer. If you can help me it would be appreciated,thanks.

    Al -- Big Geroge Tuesday, 11/17/98 21:35:02 GMT

    A question I have not seen before
    How strong is a forge weld compared to a smaw W/70xx rod?

    Lon -- lhumphrey at Tuesday, 11/17/98 23:38:14 GMT

    AIR HAMMER PLANS: ABANA sells the Ron Kinyon Simple Air Hammer Plans. These are roughly what the Trip Air and "Blue" hammers are based on. Then on the Alabama Forge Council web page there is a modified control plan by Mark Linn and Jeff Sargent. You can find both sites from our links page.

    -- guru Wednesday, 11/18/98 01:34:16 GMT

    Strength of forge welds: In wrought iron the strength of a good weld is equal to the base metal. In mild steel I think the weld has somewhat less strength than the base metal. In arc welding the joint design is completely different than in forge welding so direct comparisons are hard to make. The 70xx rod you mentioned is 70,000 psi material where mild steel is rated 40,000 psi and up. If you compare weld material only, the arc weld material is stronger. I suspect a study has been done somewhere but I've never come across it.

    -- guru Wednesday, 11/18/98 01:44:40 GMT

    Addendum to Gurus answer: If you happen to weld (properly of course) for exanple, 1095 with the same rod, and the part is subquently hardened, then the weld metal would be weaker than the parent stock. Which would not be the case with a forge weld. ( the 70xx rod would not be the correct rod to use in the example given, but I wanted to show the other side of the coin)

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 11/18/98 04:45:23 GMT

    I just bought an anvil at an auction. It looks to have been used very little. The only writing on it are the words "vanadium steel" and "#70". It appears to be cast or forged with the top plate welded or cast on, can you tell me what it may be made of or what company may have made it? Thanks in advance. I'm just getting started in blacksmithing. Eddie

    Eddie -- ers at Wednesday, 11/18/98 13:39:54 GMT

    I'm fixin' to rebuild a champion 400 blower and hope you can give me some tips and maybe where to get repacement parts. Thanks a bunch

    Kevin -- KEVZB at Wednesday, 11/18/98 17:38:38 GMT

    I have students in my third grade gifted and talented class who are researching blacksmithing as we study Appalachian Culture. Do you have any great info for them.

    Sarah Haarlow -- shaarlow at Wednesday, 11/18/98 18:15:29 GMT


    I suspect that it's made of a vanadium/steel alloy! (grin) As to who made it, with nothing on the anvil, it's very hard to tell.


    Hi Madam Guru! (grin)


    The Museum of Appalachia has it's Tennessee Fall Homecoming every October. They have two blacksmiths who demonstrate using tools and processes that could/would have been used in Appalachia during the time period from 1850 - 1900. I am one of the two blacksmiths that demonstrate. You lucked out! (grin) Contact me via e-mail, and I'll try to help your kids out.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 11/18/98 21:59:25 GMT

    A friend, Mike McKee, has a blacksmithing background & is getting back
    into it. He does not have access to internet but needs addresses and/or phone numbers for 1.) Cooper Tool Company, 2.) Diamond Horseshoe and/or 3.) Nicholson. Thanks from him (& me) for any help.

    Phyllis Brown -- phyllis at Wednesday, 11/18/98 23:36:01 GMT

    SUPPLIERS (Mike c/o Phyllis): Nicholson is a member (80's merger) of the Cooper Group whom I assume is the Cooper Tool Co. you are looking for. Cooper is a wholesaler only. Centaur Forge is a dealer for both Nicholson files and numerous brands of horsehoes. Cooper tools can also be purchased through any major hardware retailer/wholesaler.

    -- guru Thursday, 11/19/98 00:09:55 GMT

    How powerful a blower should I use on a forge with a 2" tuyere?

    Matt Marziale -- marziale at Thursday, 11/19/98 01:53:01 GMT

    Ms. Haarlow, Jim Wilson has my portable blacksmith shop and if you are not to far away (he is in Winston-Salem, NC) he may be able to bring it to you for a demonstration. You can see pictures of it on the 21st Century page under Ultimate Portable Forge.

    Otherwise there are a great number of blacksmiths in your part of the country and many do demonstrations at schools. Although most of these demonstrators demonstrate for the love of blacksmithing it is expensive to do. A one day demonstration means taking a day to get ready, load the truck and so on, then a day to unpack, making it a three day job. If you can get the school, a sponsor or the PTA to provide a small demonstration fee the demonstrator is more likely to come back another year.

    INTRESTING INFORMATION: The best I can offer is two stories about blacksmithing I've written. One is called The Blacksmith of 1776 and the other A Day in the Life of an Apprentice. The first is on the 21st Century page and the other in last months archive of the guru page. Both were written to illustrate a blacksmithing subject and the first has a twist in the end that not many people understand. You are welcome to use them.

    -- guru Thursday, 11/19/98 01:59:17 GMT

    BLOWER SIZES (Matt): A small forge runs well with a 140-160 cfm blower. A big general shop sized forge needs a 300-500 cfm blower.

    CHAMPION BLOWER PARTS (Kevin): I don't think there is a source for original parts. All you can do is be careful and use standard bushings and gears (if they are worn out). If the gears are worn out you may find that replacement gears prohibitively expensive.

    -- guru Thursday, 11/19/98 02:38:33 GMT

    I am 48 and have been a welder for many years. I am interested in learning to make copper waterfalls (tabletop). Do you have any information where I can find instruction, materials/tools necessary, books, plans, etc. to get started. I live in Louisiana. Thanks.Larry

    Larry -- Buckonix at Thursday, 11/19/98 22:08:17 GMT

    COPPER WATER FALLS (Larry): The pieces are simply cut from copper sheet and tube and brazed together with common brazing rod. You can solder parts together but brazing is much stronger and more durable. Sweat together fittings that you may want to dissasemble. Most of the copper sheet used is copper flashing. The tubing is available at any plumbing supply and most hardware suppliers. For large tube I'd go to the scrap yard. Tools for shaping copper can be wood blocks and hammers, sand bags for repose' OR the regular tar backed repose' technique. Copper can also be forged (cold) and spun on a lathe. Don't overlook forging and working the tube. A lot can be done with pipe and tube. Cutting is done with snips, scissors work on flashing thickness material OR it can be melted to cut using a fine welding torch.

    Heavier material would need to be purchased from a metals supplier or a hardware supply such as McMaster-Carr (see link on Links page. Pumps are available from the same source or lawn and garden suppliers.

    There MAY be a craft book on this type of thing but generaly they are an artistic/sculptural creation. This means comming up with your own designs.

    -- guru Thursday, 11/19/98 22:44:56 GMT

    I am looking for a large hand held blacksmith's hammer..
    One between 8lb to 10lb.. I would make my own.. But I'm just getting
    started in the blacksmithing world.. My Teacher (Danny Parsons) says: "Everyone has their own hammer,like a toothbrush" " I want one that is custom made for me.."

    Lloyd Anderson -- Thunderbear at Thursday, 11/19/98 23:35:18 GMT


    A hammer becomes yours in any of several ways. You can make it yourself, including the handle. You can buy a hammer and re-make the handle to suit. You can buy a hammer and re-make the head to suit.
    But part of the process of "making the hammer your own" involves USING the hammer for a period of time. The length of time will vary with the hammer.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 11/19/98 23:52:38 GMT

    BIG HAMMER (Lloyd): You had better go back to your teacher and discuss hammers sizes. Eight and ten pounds are sledge hammers not smithing hammers! A five pound hammer is HUGE and four is too large for 99% of all smiths. Blacksmithing requires skill and accurate hammer handling more than brute force. Some of the worlds finest work is done with two and two and a half pound hammers.

    If you are just starting out you don't have any way to tell what you want in a "custom" hammer. Start with a common hardware store cross pien smithing hammer and wear it out. These are the standard pattern that hasn't changed in a thousand years. Yes, I said "wear it out." Hammers wear out. When you've worn out a few you might know what you really want. Today it is fashionable to buy fancy imported hammers or "star name" hammers, but these do not do a better job nor make one a better smith.

    -- guru Friday, 11/20/98 01:28:22 GMT

    I'm glad you have this site. I work at Old Washington State Park near Hope, Arkansas. We are looking for a source of smithing charcoal closer than the ones kindly listed by the Blacksmith's Gazette. Can you help?

    Jack Pratt -- keeperjack at Friday, 11/20/98 16:36:12 GMT

    Jack Pratt,

    Smithing Charcoal. There is a set of plans in the plans section for building a small charcoal retort. That might be the easiest way to get charcoal without haveing to have it shipped half way across the country.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 11/20/98 18:33:24 GMT

    hi, im doing a project for my history class, and i would like to know how the introduction of steel affected the way weapons were made in the 9th-10th century

    matt kleist -- funny_shoes at Saturday, 11/21/98 02:05:18 GMT

    CHARCOAL (Jack): An often overlooked source for charcoal is the debris from a house or forest fire. Tons could be collected in a short time. The Gazette list isn't perfect but it is the best around. Otherwise Jim's suggestion is good. Are you using charcoal instead of coal for a reason?

    -- guru Saturday, 11/21/98 02:18:35 GMT

    STEEL HISTORY (Matt): The difference iron made is first illustrated in the Bible. The Philisteins were seen as a savage warring people but in fact what made them different was they had iron weapons while the Israelites were still using bronze and copper.

    Your question assumes that steel was introduced in the 9th century while in fact it was in use much earlier. The earliest date keeps getting back further and further as our understanding of ancient technology improves (the history of technology is very poorly documented compared to other aspects of history). Steel weapons are documented from the 5th century. I believe that small quantities of steel were available from the beginning of the iron age (aprox. 1000 BC depending on where you were in the world). IF you shed our Eurocentric view of "world" history it is believed that the Chinese produced steel earlier. Much of the steel available in Europe and the Middle East was actually imported from India where the method of making "wootz" was invented OR learned from China.

    Up until Huntsman discovered the crucible method of making steel in ____(you can look it up) steel was very rare, thus very valuable and used sparingly. Steel was used for the edges of swords, axes and tools while the bulk of the item was made of wrought iron. Wrought iron is nearly pure iron without carbon. This makes it unhardenable. Steel, which is iron with less than 1.5% carbon is hardenable by heating and quenching in water. Plate, scale and mail armor were made of soft wrought iron.

    The REAL impact of steel is not seen until the 19th Century. The Bessemer "blast" conversion process made steel available by the tons. The change this produced in modern warfare is best illustrated by the U.S. Civil War where huge cannon were moved by railroad. Machine tools were used to create large and small arms (guns). Iron clad ships were tested and soon steel ships became the norm. The revolutions in Europe and the World Wars were a continuation of this new wealth of steel.

    IF you read Homer's Illiad carefully, specificaly the description of Hesphestos making Achilles armour, you will find that the Ancient Greeks knew more about metalurgy than history generally credits them. This is also typical of later periods of history.

    Matt, Look up Huntsman and Bessemer. Agricola's DeRe Metalica describes early European metal extraction and Diderots Encyclopedia of Trades and Industry illustrates the technology of 18th century Europe which was only slightly evolved from Roman times. Most other references relative to early technological history are difficult to find and would it would not help for me to list them. You may use the above in total but using it without a credit to me or anvilfire is plaigerism and your teacher WILL find out!

    -- guru Saturday, 11/21/98 03:33:57 GMT

    Hi...just found the site and love it!..I have been smithing for about 3 years and have been bitten by the bladesmith bug.I have been making knives almost exclusivly for the past year...I am interested in doing some etching but cannot find a book to show me the way...(ie.centaur forge doesn't have one)I do have a general knifemaking book that explains it,but,would love to have a dedicated text on the subject.Can you help?I have some experience with etchants as I do metalography in a gray and ductile iron foundry (mostly picral 2% and 5% nital,prefering the nital)Hope you can help!

    orie broyles -- conniejpool at Saturday, 11/21/98 03:46:02 GMT

    Dear Guru,
    I am looking for a 50/25 pound thread-hammer, it doesn't have to be working I can fix it myself. My phone number is (530) 749-0240, please call collect.

    stan jarmolowicz -- stan at Saturday, 11/21/98 04:22:03 GMT

    ETCHING: Never done much myself. Basic method is to cover the metal with a protectant. Usualy a mastic type material, then scratch off where you want it to etch. Then expose to acid. Photo etching requires a light sensitive acid. . . Jewelers and artists do etching and books on the subject would be targeted there.

    Try first. They have info on a broader range of subjects than I do at this point. Then and The big advantage of the on-line book folks is the ability to computer search their database. If you don't have any luck, ask me again. I've got some books on Gunsmithing that have directions for etching (I think).

    -- guru Saturday, 11/21/98 05:06:27 GMT

    WHAT IS A THREAD HAMMER? (Stan): That's a NEW one on me. . . OR are you talking about a treadle hammer?

    -- guru Saturday, 11/21/98 05:10:05 GMT


    I am trying to locate a wrought iron distributor (not mild steel), I live in Centralia, WA.

    Have you got any ideas for me?


    Scott Hamilton

    Scott Hamilton -- Bamamom at Saturday, 11/21/98 05:53:24 GMT

    I'm taking a class on manufacturing and design where I've built a retractable pot hanger from 2" by 1/4" hot rolled steel, with hammer finish.

    I need help deterning what finish to use. The hanger looks traditional, and would look good in gray, or black/blue as long as a metallic sheen is visible. One suggestion has been to heat the steel and quench it in old motor oil. This gives a black, somewhat metallic finish. Another option was to apply a clear polyeurethane spray over bare metal, following heating and quenching in water.

    Powder coating, sandblasting and painting were considered but were thought to reduce the amount of detail provided by the hammer finish.

    Any suggestions how to finsh this project? Is bluing possible on a project of this size (46"x21"X21")? Appreciate any information you can provide.


    Mike Stevens -- michael.l.stevens at Saturday, 11/21/98 07:22:12 GMT

    WROUGHT IRON: It IS being made in small quantities but I can't remember the distributor off hand. Grandpa darylmeier at sells scrap wrought iron from an old bridge he bought. Price last quoted was $1/lb plus shipping. The sections are fairly heavy so you will need to plan on forging to a smaller size if needed. I don't know how the price compares to the imported stuff but I suspect its competiive.

    -- guru Saturday, 11/21/98 14:54:30 GMT

    I am liking for some information for my father on METAL ANTADZING. Any input on this subject will be greatly appreciated.

    TINA SHANK -- tmshank at Saturday, 11/21/98 16:44:39 GMT

    I have been chalenged to find out the name of a tool, sorry I can't send a photo. It is about 5" wide, about 24" long and stands about 7"tall Made of metal, It looks like a water trough ,that the bottom is contoured to match the bottom of a wagon wheel, rounded,it has 4 very very very small legs, nubs if you will about an inch long.If it would help I might be able to draw a picture ,on an other program and attach it to an E Mail, Maybe.Thank you for any help Chuck

    Chuck -- zebra at Saturday, 11/21/98 17:43:36 GMT

    METAL FINISHING: Hot oil finishes are the pits! Lots of people like them because they are quick and dirty for small objects. Unless you have a very even coat of scale the oil doesn't produce an even opaque surface. If oil worked then a thin coat of black lacquer would do the same and provide some rust resistance (which the oil finish only does temporarily).

    First, see my artical Corrosion and its Prevention on the 21st Century page.

    For any chemical finish (bluing) to work you must have a clean (no scale, oxide, dirt or oil) surface. Blueing is possible provided you have the proper tanks available in a large enough size. Blueing also depends on constant oiling to prevent rust. It is popular on firearms because they are frequently oiled.

    Oil and wax finishes look great when new but unless they are properly maintained by the end user then they rapidly degrade rusting unevenly. People WILL NOT maintain the finish on your work. In a few cases the very rich might PAY someone to re-oil or wax and wipe down your work several times a year. Otherwise "natural" finishes are the beginning of the end (from rust to dust).

    For interior work sandblasting is not absolutely necessary. However, absolute cleanliness is required before applying paint or chemical finishes. If you want to preserve the natural color of the steel then degrease, wire brush (possibly degrease again), then apply a coat of clear lacquer.

    This subject comes up over and over again. Everyone LOVES that fresh forged blue black finish when it is polished. The solution for quality work that will LAST which a natural finish is 304 stainless steel. It turns the same color as carbon steel when heated and forged, shows the same luster AND can have polished highlights without fear of rust. The extra cost is insignificant compared to cleaning, finishing and the life time maintenance of a "natural" finish. There is an example on the 21st Century page under Latch

    -- guru Saturday, 11/21/98 18:25:15 GMT

    ANODIZING (Tina): Anodizing is a process where acids are used to produce a porous oxide surface on aluminum. Aluminium oxide is very hard and this presents a hard wear resistant surface. The coloring is produced with lacquer based dies that fill the surface porosity produced by the etch. It requires relatively expensive equipment and is therefore generally reserved as an industrial process. The folks that do anodizing will finish small lots of parts in a variety of colors. The local companies we use are:

  • East/West Dyecom, Roanoke, VA 540-362-1489

  • Industrial Anodizing Corp., Trinity, NC 910-434-2110

  • ODD TOOL (Chuck): I sounds like either the water trough for a grind stone or quench tank for (as you suggested). Wagon wheels were often quenched in a "shoeing-hole" dug in the ground. If it were for quenching tires your tool might be a shoeing-trough.

    -- guru Saturday, 11/21/98 18:47:18 GMT

    Orie Broyles: about etching your blades, the medium that you want is called "ground" in the print making world. Print makers use hard or soft ground as their mask to protect the printing plates.The plates are put on a hot surface to warm them up and the ground is applied. I think hard ground is in stick form, you just rub it on. It's also tough and can take being handled as you turn the blade around to do your engraving.
    The best book on the subject is by John Boye who did alot of Knife engraving. In his book he covers the topic in great detail. GET THE BOOK! Its that good. Centaur forge carries it I believe. Good luck. Pete

    Pete -- Ravnstudio at Saturday, 11/21/98 22:33:38 GMT

    Pete, Thanks, I didn't think I had the Boye book but recognized it when I went to look it up in the Centaur Forge catalog. Finding it might be another matter!

    Step-by-Step Knifemaking by David Boye, 16.95 from Centaur Forge

    -- guru Saturday, 11/21/98 23:50:04 GMT

    Someone recently wrote-I believe that it was this web site-regarding the number system used to tell the weight of an anvil. Ex 2 2 25. I can't seem to find it. Can you tell me one more time how to figure the weight using these numbers?
    Cool and sunny in Alabama

    Dale -- fdhuckabee at Sunday, 11/22/98 14:56:18 GMT

    HUNDREDS WT SYSTEM: Anvils are marked in a variety of methods but most English anvils were marked using this system. However, some english anvils were marked in stones and anvils made in other places are often marked in pounds. A few are marked in kilograms and some cast anvils are marked in pounds rounded to the nearest 10 pounds (220# = 22).

    Typically the hundreds weight markings are seperated by dots but not always. The first figure to the left is hundred weights which equal 112 pounds. The next figure is quarter hundred weights which equal 28 pounds and the last numder is whole pounds. The three are added together for the total weight. Examples:

    1·0·16 = 112 + 0 + 16 = 128 pounds

    2·1·3 = (112 x 2) + 28 + 3 = 255 pounds

    2·2·25 = (112 x 2) + (28 x 2) + 25 = 305# (your example)

    Frosty in VA but looking for a warm afternoon.

    -- guru Sunday, 11/22/98 15:16:05 GMT

    Thanks guru. I'm very new to this stuff and am trying to learn all I can any way I can. This webs sight has been very helpful. To all involved, thanks for the info and keep up the good work.

    Dale -- fdhuckabee at Sunday, 11/22/98 17:39:27 GMT

    have info on coal suppliers for COAL SCUTTLE site.where does it go? great site! andy

    andy -- PACwhite at Compuserve.Com Sunday, 11/22/98 17:42:04 GMT

    Thanks Dale!

    Andy, Fred Holder, editor/publisher of the Blacksmiths Gazette maintains the COAL SCUTTLE on his site and I occasionaly copy and mirror it from anvilfire (with permission). Send your update info to:

    fholder at

    -- guru Sunday, 11/22/98 18:14:18 GMT

    I really love this page! I mean, I never knew there where so many guys out there solving problems that bores "ordinary" people out of their skulls when you try to mention them.
    My question is: What kind of stainless (Iīm told it exists) can be forgewelded i a coal forge, and is there any way high-tech stainless steel can be used and heat-treated i a low-tech environment? Itīs not that i couldnīt buy the equipment for modern heat-treating if I really had to, itīs just that I enjoy the oldfashioned way.


    Olle Andersson

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Sunday, 11/22/98 19:17:09 GMT

    STAINLESS: Under the right conditions stainless can be forge welded. A bunch of the Damascus guys do it. Grandpa could probably tell you the details. The main thing is to flux early, using some flourite in your borax will help.

    400 series stainless is hardenable, 300 series is not. 400 series is magnetic so its fairly easy to tell the difference. Stainless steels are whats known as precipitation hardening. They are heated to a certain temperature and held there for a period of time then cooled not quenched. The temperatures and the times vary with the grade. The trick when making laminated steel is that carbon steels are heat treated differently than stainless. It IS possible to do but the temperature control is critical. OBTW - 300 and 400 series stainless are slightly different color AND etch differently. It is possible to make a stainless/stainless pattern welded blade. Just remember that the 300 series reduces the yeild point.

    400 series stainless alone (405,440) can be heat treated by old fashioned methods if you are careful. I can look up the specific values/times if you know the alloy. Then YOU would need to figure out how to judge the temperatures. If you want to get into weird alloys I reccomend you purchase a copy of the ASM Metals Reference Book (see the link to ASM on the Links page).

    -- guru Sunday, 11/22/98 20:21:40 GMT

    Olle: Yes, stainless can be forge welded from a coal forge,as Guru described ,or in a closed box without flux. It is a lot more trickey to do and requires more attention to detail. Any steel can be welded to any other steel. Keeping them welded during subsequent forging may be near impossible however, due to different plasticities..

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Monday, 11/23/98 00:22:19 GMT

    HOLA !

    jaime cardenas -- jaime_cardenas at Monday, 11/23/98 01:37:05 GMT

    Jaime, I am afraid I do not speak Spanish. My Spanish translator (via telephone and my poor reading of Spanish) believes that you are the manager of a forge shop and have asked for exercises for learning the "marvelous experiance of molding iron" (I figured out the last part - our languages are not that much different!) So based on that tenuous translation. . .

    The basic forging techniques are tapering, drawing, upsetting, punching, cutting and welding.

    Tapering is done on alternate surfaces of a square section. To taper a round bar the end is forged square, then the square tapered by turning the work 90 degrees between each blow of the hammer. If the bar is to be round again then the corners are flatened to make an octagon then the corners of the octagon flatened. Short tapers are worked from the point of the bar but long tapers are worked from some distance from the point forging with the hammer held at an angle. Practice making round and square tapers in long and short lengths.

    Drawing is the process of making a bar thinner and longer. The first step is to "fuller" the bar using a tool with a cylindrical (rounded) end held across the work. Fullers can be hand held or fitted to the anvil or made as power hammer dies. After the bar is fullered in even increments the high places are forged flat. Fullering is more efficient than forging (with a flat or slightly radiused hammer). Practice making rectangular bar from square bar.

    Upsetting is the process of making a bar thicker. You can upset the ends of a bar OR the middle of a bar depending on where it is heated. Upsetting is one of the more difficult hand forging tasks. Small bar is upset while laying on the anvil the heated part extending beyond the anvil. The bar is struck on the end and the smith resists the force with his grip - very difficult. Large bar is struck against the face of the anvil or against an upsetting block. The weight of the bar does the work. Practice upsetting a short length on the end of a bar. The upset can then be used to make a common thing such as a bolt head or an artistic object such as a flower.

    Punching is one of the easier tasks but it requires practice to make clean accurate holes. The punch (round or square) is driven 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the bar then the bar is turned over and the hole punched through while the bar is held over one of the hole in the anvil or a swage block if necessary. Unlike cold punching where you cannot punch a hole deeper that the diameter of the punch, in hot punching you can punch a hole severl times deeper than the diameter of the punch. When punching deep holes grease or a little lump of coal is used to help keep the punch cool. The punch is dipped in the grease while the coal is droped in a partialy punched hole. Practice punching holes 1/2 the width of a square bar.

    Cutting is done with a chisel or a hardy (a chisel fitted to the hardy hole of the anvil). How you cut is dependant on the end you want. It is possible to make a perpendicular cut on one side of a cut using a chisel. It is easiest to cut from one side of a bar rather than cutting from two sides ansd trying to meet in the middle. Practice hot cutting with a hardy form one side of a bar.

    Welding in the forge is one of the most difficult taks to learn. It is best to learn forge welding from someone where you can SEE it being done. Welding also reguires many of the other methods including upsetting and tapering to prepare the ends before welding. This is called "scarfing" the joint, making the ends larger by upsetting and tapering and radiusing so that flux and scale will squeeze out and the parts fit together. The upset is to provide extra material to replace that which will be lost in the forging. Learn and practice forge welding several type of joints.

    Hopefully I haven't made a fool of myself by offering advice to someone that may have been offering ME advise!

    -- guru Monday, 11/23/98 02:54:51 GMT

    Please note: The above is a very brief description of the forging processes and may have left out significant details due to the late hour!

    -- guru Monday, 11/23/98 02:57:38 GMT

    To Guru and all,
    Wonderfull site.
    In the archives it was discussed about why water coal.
    It was explained to me to be done for two reasons:
    First to control how big or fast your fire grew, and second it was to help coke the coal. After thinking(yeah I know it is dangerous) about this the only thing I could figure is that when water reaches the vaporazation point the steam gets hotter.(the latent vaporazation temp of steam is much higher than steam or water alone, at least that is what I was taught in thre nuclear navy) SO I would hazard a guess that the volatles are burned out of the coal with less of the coal being consumed.

    Any thoughts?

    And once again, wonderfull site and thak you all for maintaining it.

    cool and wet in the Portland, OR area

    Ralph Douglass -- ralphd at Monday, 11/23/98 20:03:50 GMT

    To Guru and all,
    Wonderfull site.
    In the archives it was discussed about why water coal.
    It was explained to me to be done for two reasons:
    First to control how big or fast your fire grew, and second it was to help coke the coal. After thinking(yeah I know it is dangerous) about this the only thing I could figure is that when water reaches the vaporazation point the steam gets hotter.(the latent vaporazation temp of steam is much higher than steam or water alone, at least that is what I was taught in thre nuclear navy) SO I would hazard a guess that the volatles are burned out of the coal with less of the coal being consumed.

    Any thoughts?

    And once again, wonderfull site and thak you all for maintaining it.

    cool and wet in the Portland, OR area

    Ralph Douglass -- ralphd at Monday, 11/23/98 20:04:09 GMT

    Guru, an easy way to translate those spanish (or french, german, portugese, or italian) posts is to go to under translate and follow the directions.

    dmb -- c.brock at Monday, 11/23/98 22:06:42 GMT

    WETTING COAL(Ralph): The steam may help heat the coal however it still takes heat from burning coal to heat the water to make steam (no net gain). I was told that if you have a lot of fines in the coal that water helps glue the fines together while the coal is melting and coking. In other words it acts as a coalesing agent. The same source said that in Britian they use fines in their forges and the water is necessary (Any comments from Great Britian?). In this country most coal is graded and the fines screened out.

    The intresting thing about this LONG running discussion on wetting coal is that it started with my recomending that you keep your coal dry because it is easier to start a fire with dry coal (my experiance).

    dmb, Thanks, I knew about that site but I couldn't find it last night!

    -- guru Monday, 11/23/98 22:28:59 GMT

    I am in the process of buiding a JYH type machine. I am now to the point where I need to go out a but some new steel (groan) This will put me over the $30.00 mark. I am to the point where I have the option of making it a power hammer or making it a treadle hammer. Have you used a treadle hammer much and what are your thoughts on a treadle hammer. I plan to use the relatively commom parallel linkage concept with a vertical post similar to several commom plans including Clay Spencer's. I could drive this with a treadle or with a power drive system.

    What are typical head weights for power hammers of this type? I have about 250-300 # of steel available for anvil in an easily configurable method and could increase to 600 # if it would benefit. What size anvils do typical treadle ahmmers use? I am familiar with the 10 to 1 rule of thumb for power hammers and I know that in the case of anvils more is better except when buying or scrouging the steel and moving the hammer after it is built.

    Thanks for the great web site !!!


    Ruben -- rfunk at Tuesday, 11/24/98 02:02:47 GMT

    I'm making a york rake, a farm implement. How do I make spring steel out of cold rolled steel?

    Steve Governo -- Governo at Tuesday, 11/24/98 03:15:04 GMT

    I've been blacksmithing for the last year and am slowly building the equipment to complete my blacksmith shop. I was looking thru the Anvil Fire News and saw the pictures of the South African power hammer, and was wondering if plans were avilable? Your website is an inspiration to us all out here in the realm of blacksmithing, thanks.

    Robin Olson -- olshmid at Tuesday, 11/24/98 05:08:30 GMT

    SOUTH AFRICAN HAMMER (Robin): I don't know if plans are available but I will ask. I know they started with basic drawings to get the geometry right but have not seen any more. Most creators of such machines need few drawings and work with what they have on hand and the machinery they have in their shop. I create fairly comprehensive drawings today, not for myself but for others.

    Equipment needed to built a SA type mechanical hammer:

  • Cutoff saw

  • Lathe

  • Drill Press

  • Welding equipment

  • Hand grinders

  • Possibly a Milling machine or Shaper

  • You might also consider looking at air hammer plans. These are actualy much easier to build than a mechanical hammer. Start looking for a BIG piece of steel for an anvil (7" or 8" diameter x 36" long at least) for whichever type of machine you decide to build.

    -- guru Tuesday, 11/24/98 22:59:40 GMT

    SPRING FROM MILD STEEL (Steve): ALL steel has the same springyness however, spring steel has a higher yield point than lower carbon mild steel when hardened. This means that a mild steel spring works but at a certain point it will bend while a piece of spring steel will spring a lot further and return before bending.

    Some mild steel is pretty springy. Heat a piece to the transformation point (where it becomes non-magnetic) and quench it in water. Then try it out. Some mild steel has a little higher carbon content than others and will harden enough to be a low performance spring.

    To make higher carbon steel out of low carbon steel is a BIG job. In some small parts you would simply case harden the steel. To case harden steel you pack a clean part in an air tight container packed with charcoal. Then you heat it to a dull red. After a period of time varying from 15 minutes to several hours you remove the part and quench it. The outer "case" of the steel will have absorbed carbon and will harden. A lot of small gun parts are done this way. In order to convert the whole piece to steel you would carburize the steel (same as above but longer time element), THEN melt the resulting crusty piece in a crucible, cast it into an ingot AND reforge the ingot into bar. This is the "crucible" steel method discovered by Huntsman in the 1700's. Today most steel is made by the blast furnace process where cast iron is decarbonized by blowing oxygen through the melt (originaly the Bessemer process but much improved today).

    -- guru Tuesday, 11/24/98 23:16:21 GMT

    POWER vs. TREADLE (Ruben): There is no substitute for power. Treadle hammers are useful for providing a third hand for chasing and detail work but do not make drawing or forging heavy stock any easier.

    Modern treadle hammers typicaly have a 60 to 80 pound head. This is in contrast to old fashioned "Oliver" type machines that basicly had a heavy hand hammer or small sledge and used velocity rather than more mass.
    DO NOT!

    Repeat, DO NOT use a lead filled ram as suggested by many of the treadle plans that are available! Everyone has this dumb idea about using lead for weight. Dumb! Use steel. It only takes a little more (volume) and does not introduce an environmental hazzard into your shop. Lead has a lot of legitimate uses but forging hammer heads is not one of them! I make the same argument with the nuclear guys. The first thing they think of for shielding is lead. DUMB! Large blocks and sheets of lead are not even self supporting. Just a little more volume in steel will produce the same result, it is self supporting, easy to fabricate (weld, machine, drill. . .) and doesn't create an enviromental hazzard. Lead is also very expensive compared to steel.

    Back to your questions. The anvil. Power hammers use 15 and 20 to one ram to anvil ratios. The industry standard is 15:1. Even the bottom of the line Little Giant (reguardless of popularity) had 15 to 1 (not including the "C" frame and drive)! Consider your shop anvil. A little 100 pound anvil being struck with a huge 3 pound hammer is a 33:1 ratio! With bigger anvils the hammer size stays the same but the ratio? 50 or 100 to one! Ten to one will work OK, 15 to one is good, more reduces the need for a special foundation.

    Treadle hammer kits I've seen have pipe or tube for the anvil stand but all the treadles I've actually seen had pretty heavy solid anvils made from 5" and 6" dia shafting. Even though this is comparitively light for the heavy rams in use the rams are not going that fast (compared to a power hammer).

    The best method I've seen for powering a treadle type hammer is the linkage designed by Grant Sarver for his WC-JYH-II. It consisted of a piece of V-belt that was pushed into a turning motor pulley by an idler on a lever. The belt was attached to a helve arm by springs (bungy cords). This prevented the motor from stalling when a sudden load was applied. You had to let off the pedal after each blow but this is made up by the absolute simplicity. It wouldn't be too hard to modify the design to work like a board drop and automatically disengage the "clutch" at the end of each stroke.

    Collect your steel and junk, study it, THEN think about what you can build from it.

    -- guru Tuesday, 11/24/98 23:56:48 GMT

    what books or videos can I find on blacksmithing in the public library?

    d.s. raines -- draines at Wednesday, 11/25/98 00:31:59 GMT

    BOOKS, LIBRARY: I depends on your library. Most of the books I recomend are commonly found in libraries.

  • The Art of Blacksmithing, Alex Bealer

  • The Edge of the Anvil, Jack Andrews

  • Practical Blacksmithing, M.T. Richardson

  • The Making of Tools, Alexander Weygers/LI>
  • Complete Modern Blacksmith, Alexander Weygers

  • *Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork, Dona Meilach

  • Related References:
  • Diderot's Encyclopedia, Denis Diderot

  • A Museum of Early American Tools, Eric Sloane

  • Machinery's Handbook, Industrial Press

  • Modern Welding, Althouse etal.

  • Foxfire 9, Wiggington

  • *Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork by Dona Meilach has been out of print for quite a while but will be rereleased in the spring of next year. Its is still found in many libraries. Look for the anvilfire! review to be posted this weekend!

    If you are intrested in Americana ALL of Eric Sloane's books are a wonderful resource. Machinery's Handbook has much technical information that would otherwise only be available only from more specialized technical references that are not easy to find.

    For doing library research the most powerful tool on the internet is the Library of Congress. They have links to databases at every college and University library and many public libraries that are computerized. Look for a school near you. Libraries at all publicly supported coleges and universities are open to the public and you can search their card catalog from the comfort of your home!

    -- guru Wednesday, 11/25/98 03:21:51 GMT

    Today I was using my gas forge to try to make a forge weld for the first time. I could just barely get it hot enough to make 1 or 2 sparks come off the mild steel if I left it in there for a long time. It does not seem to be getting hot enough to make a weld. I tried adding more gass and air but it actually seemed to be hotter with less gass and air. I tried to make the weld anyway. I fluxed just as the steel got to a sunrise red then heated and soaked the steel as hot as I could get it, then quickly hammered. After the piece cooled I polished the edge and could not see any line where the weld was. I then tried to break open the weld. I was able to seperate the two pieces but with great difficulty, the joint was completley free from any flux or oxidation and looked like the grain structure of a piece of broken steel. Do you have any sugestions on how to increase the temp of my forge, I live in the piedmont of north carolina, so altitude is not a problem. What am I doing wrong with my weld, am I not getting it hot enough? I have limited blacksmithing experience, so any info would be greatly appreciated. GREAT SITE!!!

    Stewart Alexander -- stewart4th at Wednesday, 11/25/98 05:10:32 GMT

    Sirs; I recently aquired a 50# Little Giant and wonder if there is a way to build up the existing dies rather than turn loose of the $250ish for new ones?Any info would be appreciated. Thanx!! Dave

    Dave Neagle -- dneagle at Wednesday, 11/25/98 07:17:06 GMT

    I have recently completed the Introduction to Blacksmithing as well as
    Pre-employment welding program at S.A.I.T. Alberta. I've literally fallen in love with blacksmithing. I would love to start a small business within the next 2 years. Where do I start?

    Cherie -- ckorol at Wednesday, 11/25/98 07:53:53 GMT

    GAS FORGE (Stewart): You didn't mention the brand or type of forge so here is some general info. To weld with a gas forge the forge must be just right. The gas/air mixture must be a the optimum, which for a gas forge is slightly oxidizing and for forges with a blower it is when is makes a distinctive roar (and I do mean ROAR!). Many forges will not get up to maximum temperature without partialy blocking the door to retain the heat and to cause a slight back pressure. In some cases you need to block the opening with a few fire bricks. Patience is also required. Gas forges take a while for the lining to become thouroughly heated. This takes anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours. Daryl Meier reports that his forge gets hotter all through the day (a long 8 hour day at the forge).

    Try adjusting the mixture (low pressure or insufficient gas volume is often a problem too) and choking the opening, then have patience.

    -- guru Wednesday, 11/25/98 13:29:41 GMT


    I was told the reason for wetting coal was to form it better for making a welding oven, also that as the water converted to steam (latent heat of vaporization) the it would carry off impurities. This does not seem logical, because vaporization is used to purify water, but it is part of the logic used to justify sprinkling water every so often.

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Wednesday, 11/25/98 13:54:26 GMT

    Here's a question for you from an unusual source: the Harvard University Art Museums. We have some drawings by John Singer Sargent of oxen--probably preparatory studies for Sargent's painting, "Shoeing the Ox," ca. 1910. In the painting the ox is lifted up in a harness or halter--a thick leather strap just behind his front legs. Is there a technical term for the leather strap, or can we just call it a harness? Thanks for your help! The blacksmithing sites are great.

    Miriam Stewart -- stewart at Wednesday, 11/25/98 16:05:39 GMT

    I am looking for information for forging bronze. Can you point me in the right direction?

    Bill Gray -- wmgray at Wednesday, 11/25/98 18:30:55 GMT

    help! i have a 50# fairbanks hammer and i need the dimentions of or the location of a spring for it.

    robert abdallah -- astro at Wednesday, 11/25/98 19:30:47 GMT

    I am looking for a spring for a 50# Fairbanks(Dupont) hammer. Dimentions will also do as i can have one made. Thanks!

    Robert Abdallah -- astro at Wednesday, 11/25/98 19:49:38 GMT

    WATER AND COAL CHAPTER 999 (Chris): When you have good coal there is no need for a "beehive" fire. I've seen Steve Kayne forge weld in a clean (bare metal) firepot with a handful of coal that didn't fill the pot much less the forge. My friend Josh Greenwood welds with the steel laying practicaly on top of the fire (necessary when welding long pieces of decorative work together).

    The ONLY point I see in using water on a coal fire is to control its spread OR as mentioned above to glue fines together long enough to use them.

    -- guru Thursday, 11/26/98 00:50:17 GMT

    BLACKSMITHING BUSINESS (Cherie): Like many small businesses you need capitol (money with capitol letters). Any business consultant will tell you that the number one reason small businesses fail is lack of capitol. You either need enough money to operate your business AND pay yourself for the years it is going to take to establish your self OR have some other way to live during this time.

    When most of us first got into blacksmithing we thought we were getting into a business with little or no competition. Twenty years ago this wasn't true and it certainly is not true today. In architectual work the "doing it all by hand" blacksmith is competing with "fabricators" that buy beautifuly manufactured components and weld them together. Unless your work is REALLY outstanding and you find customers that are willing to pay a high premium for first class work then you will be in trouble. In the field of small furniture and decorator items you have long established smiths producing work with efficiences you would not believe. Dozens of high quality pieces made in the time you can make one. Simplify the design (bend, arc weld and grind) and you will be competing with imports made in slave wage countries. A lot of smiths DO compete in this environment but you must mechanize. Power hammers, presses, lathes, shears, saws. . . yeah, it sounds more like a machine shop than a blacksmith shop, IT IS. You can't just say, I'm going to be a blacksmith (or artist blacksmith) and have the puplic come running to your door because you are the only one - you aren't OR won't be for long.

    Jack Andrews' book NEW Edge of the Anvil has a great chapter on the business of a blacksmith shop. It is very sound advise.

    Have you thought about what you are going to make? Who will be your customers? Where will you get supplies? A simple thing like living hundreds of miles from the nearest steel, coal or gas supplier can really run up the cost of doing business.

    THE GOOD NEWS: When I started smithing it was extreamly difficult to get that affluent market you need in this business. It was like art, unless you were willing to move to (or near) some large metropolitian area you didn't have much of a chance. Today, through the internet you can reach a HUGE market and do OK out of a small shop. But this (the net) is a whole different business itself! You also have access to hundreds of books on the subject (and anvilfire! too).

    A book could be written on this subject, I planned to, but I'm producing anvilfire! instead. Feel free to come back and ask more questions.

    -- guru Thursday, 11/26/98 01:21:32 GMT

    HAMMER DIE REPAIR (Dave): Repairing hammer dies is a lot like repairing an anvil, it is easy to make things worse rather than better and if you need to ask how you probably don't the experiance to perform the repairs.

    For those reasons (and many others) I don't recomend anvil repair (unless it is scrap) OR hammer die repairs. On the hammer dies, if they are so beat up that they are completely unusable then the metal probably has fatigue cracks and a surface repair would be a wasted effort. However, if the dies just have a rough surface and a bunch of nicks and dings from short term abuse (cold forging hard metal, breaking rocks. . .) then grinding is the best solution.

    THE BEST method would be to regrind the dies on a surface grinder (every blacksmithshop should have one! :). However, if you need to take off more than a few thousandths of material then you need more drastic action. To remove 1/8" or so do it with a heavy duty angle grinder and carefuly dress the dies as flat as possible. If you have access to that surface grinder then use that to get the surface absolutely flat and parallel to the bottom of the die. Remember, the hand grinding will need to be accurate to within +/- .020 or so or you will be spending a day at the surface grinder ($$$$).

    IF you are grinding the dies by hand do the top one first. Finish flattening the surface by sliding the die back and forth on a piece of sanding belt (about 120-180 grit) set on a flat surface. Put it back into the machine when it is a flat as you can get it. THEN grind the bottom die in the machine (prop up the ram with a board behind the die). Then to test the mating fit, lower the dies into contact with a piece of sanding belt between the dies, grit side down, and then pull it out in a straight motion from one side. The high spots on the lower die will be obvious. You can continue to hand grind or use the pulling the belt out trick until the entire surface is making contact.

    To test the fit, place a piece of thin poster board or and index card beteen two pieces of carbon paper faceing the board. But that between the dies and give them one sharp blow (on a Little Giant this will mean raising the ram by hand and letting it drop by gravity). The board will have a map of the die fit. It should be over 90% contact if you followed the above method.

    When finished dressing the dies flat be sure to radius the corners. If you have combination dies you can now hand grind the radiused side leaving a narrow flat at the center. The flat assures that if the dies contact that you have a continous line and not a high spot that may cause damage.

    IF you did a weld repair on the dies the above procedures would still be necessary. Hmmmm. . . that $250 might start sounding like a better deal!

    Given enough time a craftsman can produce as precision a surface by hand as the best machine.

    -- guru Thursday, 11/26/98 01:59:49 GMT


    I want to repeat what the guru said in his last sentence.

    "Given enough time a craftsman can produces as precision a surface by hand as the best machine."

    The key is the amount of time. For the job you're talking about, better figure at LEAST 8 hours. Maybe more.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 11/26/98 02:19:37 GMT

    FAIRBANKS HAMMER SPRING (Robert): I understand that Sid Suedemeier (Owner of Little Giant) now has Fairbanks parts and information.

    H "Sid" Suedemier
    420 4th Corso
    Nebraska City, NW 68410

    Tell Sid were you got his address! And if you ever want to sell that Fairbanks let me know. I know a couple people intrested in a small one.

    -- guru Thursday, 11/26/98 02:55:25 GMT

    I think I'm becoming a regular guest here. I hope I'm not pestering you to much. Thereīs been some talk obout grinding here, and my question is:Is there any way to mechanise that most tedius of jobs; getting a good finish on steel whithout getting "machine marks" on it?
    Ordinary working knives can look alright with the finish you get from a beltgrinder, but the kind of old-fashioned carbon steel damascus i make need to be polished to at least 1000 grit to develop a pattern to my liking when etched. An when etched EVERY scratch shows. It doesnīt help that I often make knives with al lot of curves an integral details on them. I think a machine with some kind of back and forth motion that imitates hand polishing would do the job, but does it exist? I would be grateful for any hints.

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet se Thursday, 11/26/98 21:54:13 GMT

    Time vs. Money:

    Several recent postings have gotten me thinking. (Which is dangerous, I know.)

    Everybody has stories similar to my $15 flatter, picked up at the flea market. I then spent four or five hours of odd time over the next two or three weeks, filing the face down to beneath the rust pits. Economically, it would make more sense to order one new. If I had heavier equipment, or a hammer man, I could have forged one in an hour or so. Lacking money, machinery or manpower, I put in my time, and actually enjoyed watching the pits diminish as I filed from different angles. Over the last 10 years of puttering I've learned that I shouldn't quit my "good gumint job" and go into full time smithing, but on a part time or amateur basis (amo, amas, amat: you do it for love, not money) this is a great way to spend at least part of the time God gives you. I never lack for Christmas gifts for friends, and, by barter, I have acquired an entire Anglo-Saxon medieval wardrobe in return for cook pots, spits, armor, knives and other gear.
    The tooling is also endlessly useful for household and farm repairs, so if there's not a lot of money to be made, there is a good deal to be saved.

    Back in the Sixties I was given a button (buttons were big in the sixties) that said: "I want to be what I was, before I became what I wanted to be." For those looking at blacksmithing as a full time endeavor, plan carefully about how you want to spend your time AND your money, and get all the education you can, from whomever you can.

    In this day and age, most people approach blacksmithing from a "romantic" viewpoint. We don't do it because our fathers apprenticed us out at the age of seven or twelve, but because we're fascinated with the creativity and the cultural history behind it. (Among my crew we differentiate between "romantics" and "flaming romantics". A romantic wants to try to do things that are wonderful and unusual, like sailing a Viking ship. A flaming romantic wants to build a 300 foot clipper ship and sail it around the world, based on the information acquired from an old issue of Argosy Magazine.) The competition, both full time and amateur, is a lot stiffer. The almost explosive growth of ABANA in the last 25 years is evidence of that. And the talent can be breathtaking. Still, there are a lot of niches to be filled, and there's always room for some more creative people, who will increase public awareness of the art, which will expand the market...

    Time to get off of my soapbox. The work of the Republic awaits.

    Sunny and getting downright pleasant on the banks of the Potomac.

    Visit your National Parks:

    Come have a row with us: (cASE sENSITIVE)

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Friday, 11/27/98 14:42:24 GMT

    Well put Bruce! You should be writing philosophy. . . I'll get back to Olles grinder problem after I run an errand.

    -- guru Friday, 11/27/98 15:01:17 GMT

    POLISHING MACHINE: I do not know of anyone building the type you are looking for. This type of machine is typical of custom designs. I knew a fellow that designed a machine for duplicating the hand grinding and polishing motion for producing telescope mirrors. It used a washing machine transmission and a bunch of cranks. The motion was both rotary and side to side. I remember the motion of the machine and the look of it but few details (It was 30 years ago!).

    The washing machine transmission or a worm gear and crank mechanisn could produce the back and forth motion. The arm would need to be counter balanced. I'd put a slow speed wheel on the end of the machine. It would be a hard cotton buffing wheel or one of those abrasive filled rubber wheels the jewlers use. The buffing wheel might want to be setup to be recharged with compound at the end of each stroke. The rubber wheel would need a water drip to cool and lubricate. A table with a cam follower to help follow the shape of the blade might be a good idea. The machine would be only semi automatic. You would have to make a cam (probably wood) for each blade shape, change wheels between grit steps and monitor the progress of the machine. There would always be some places that would still require hand polishing. The big savings here would be to have several machines to monitor. I could probably design and build this machine in about a month to six weeks. The machine would cost you about $10,000 US if I did the work and used new parts. Multiple machines would cost considerably less. I'll be free to do this type of work in February if you are intrested.

    Non-directional vibratory finishing is another method of getting a uniform finish or taking off belt and grinding marks. The problem with all type of mechanical methods is that the machine doesn't recognize that you want sharply defined corners and will attack them more aggressively than the flats. Vibratory finishing attacks these corners less than a wheel but will still do so. This may also require a specially designed machine for long blades and some R&D on the grits.

    POLISHING HINTS: (See article on 21st Century page). High quality abrasives make a big difference. 3M Wet-or-Dry carburundum grit sandpaper is the best for fine work. Cloth backed belts are the best for coarse work. Getting in a hurry and going to too fine a grit is the most common error made in polishing. Tripoli (red buffing compound) is too soft for most steel work except for brightening the polish. The black or dark grey carburundum compound comes in different grits. There is a special white compound for stainless steel and other abrasion resistant alloy steels. It has little wax binder so it is hard to keep charged on the wheel and more of it ends up in the air than other type of buffing compound.

    In the end, low wage polishers still do the majority of polishing in industry.

    -- guru Friday, 11/27/98 16:38:49 GMT

    Guru, thankīs for the tips, but it seems a liiitle costly. To clarify myself - I do handpolish everthing that needs it, itīs just that i prefer forging to polishing, and the number of promising but only half-finished edged objects lying around my shop and house seems to be increasing. Lend me a low wage polisher, anyone?

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Friday, 11/27/98 19:15:58 GMT

    Olle, I'd love to work for less but I gotta make a living! Currently I'm busy designing junk yard hammers and tooling for a booklet at a giveaway price. Can't afford but so many design and R&D projects gratis. :) When anvilfire! becomes more profitable I will be doing lots more R&D for the page and including more plans on-line. Maybe one of those will be a semiautomatic knife grinder/polisher!

    -- guru Friday, 11/27/98 19:25:05 GMT

    Bruce, Iīve visited your site. Have you ever been to Vikingeskibshallen in Roskilde, Denmark? I have. And sailed (rowed, rather) all the replicas of the ships from the Skuldelev-find. (brag, brag) Itīs one of the few advantages of living on the cold and dark shores of the Baltic :-)

    Olle Andersson -- utgardaolle at Friday, 11/27/98 19:33:22 GMT

    Dear "Guru",
    I'm fairly new to the field of blacksmithing, and metal working. I've made two knives, but niether one of them will hold an edge no matter how hard (or soft) I think I have them tempered. I get it cherry red and quench it in cold water, i even heard that you could quench it in oil, i've tried both. Could you give me some pointers on tempering?
    R Bucket at

    Billy Howell -- R BUCKET at Saturday, 11/28/98 03:15:48 GMT


    Envy is one of the seven deadly sins. Not my favorite one, but one of mine, just the same. Some of our folks have made it to Scandanavia and seen the various ships, but I'm waiting my turn, I guess.

    On the other hand, the Chesapeake remains pleasantly unfrozen, and will remain so well into December, providing increased opportunities for piratical operations. If worse comes to worse, we've got our forges to keep us warm. ;->

    Cool, clear and above freezing on the banks of the lower Potomac.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Saturday, 11/28/98 03:55:05 GMT

    DULL KNIVES (Billy): What kind of steel are you using? Not all steel hardens enough to hold an edge. Even though mild steel (SAE 1018 - 1020) will harden enough to be hard on tools such as center punches however it will be way short of hard enough for a knife. Most spring steels will make suitable knives and wood working tools. Some helpful hints:

    Hardening is the act of heating a piece of steel just above the transformation point and quenching it. Water quench is more severe than an oil quench. Some steels need to be oil quenched because they may crack under the severity of a water quench. Water for quenching should be warm unless you are trying to harden mild steel then the colder the better. There are even AIR quench steels.

    transformation point or the A2 point is the temperature above which steel becomes non-magnetic (a red heat). Many blacksmiths test with a magnet before quenching.

    Tempering is reheating the steel after hardening to reduce the hardness a little making the steel much tougher. The tempering temperature may be as low a 400 degrees F or as high as 1,400 depending on the type of steel. Tempering should be done immediately after hardening and the temperature is often judged by grinding or polishing part of the piece and watching the temper colors. These are the pretty yellow, red, purple and blue colors clean steel turns when heated. This is called running the temper colors or drawing the temper. You often see these colors when grinding a piece of steel which means you have probably overheated it.

    Overheating a piece of steel while forging can ruin the steel too. Hardening should always be done at the lowest heat possible and on whats called a rising heat. This means that you slowly heat the steel and quench it at the right temperature rather than overheating and waiting for the steel to cool before quenching (a falling heat). Both are better than quenching at too high a temperature which is likely to crack the steel.

    If you are using steel of unknown composition or scrap steel (springs), always test harden a sample before putting a lot of work into making something. Forge it, harden it, temper it. Test it with a file (A file should slide off before tempering). Hardening the steel will tell you if you are working with a oil quench or water quench steel. This simple act can save you a lot of aggevation.

    What kind of steel ARE you using? Machinery's Handbook by Industrial Press has the SAE recomended steels chart and hardening, tempering and testing information besides LOTS of other information every blacksmith should have available.

    -- guru Saturday, 11/28/98 15:46:43 GMT

    Dear guru
    I recently purchased an anvil at a flea market and after removing a layer or two of paint I found a name or more so the remains of a Name which had been cast into the side of the anvil.
    From what I can make out there is an arc above the main text which I can't make out, then the words
    Underneath I wandered if you had ever heard of this company or something familiar to it, or more so what the words mean. I thank you for your time
    Mike Custer
    MCUSTER at

    Mike Custer -- Mcuster at Sunday, 11/29/98 01:12:00 GMT

    JOSEPH WILKINSON, Queens Cross(ing), Dudley, ENGLAND: These anvils were made by the same process as Peter Wrights and supposedly the company bought out Peter Wright. (Pages, 127-129, Anvils in America, Richard Postman). These are fairly rare in the U.S and are supposedly very popular in Austrailia.

    -- guru Sunday, 11/29/98 03:45:18 GMT

    What is a fly press, and what is it used for? Sort of new.

    Steve -- G115BA at Sunday, 11/29/98 07:13:36 GMT

    FLY PRESS (Steve): See the article on the Power hammer Page. These machines are used primarily for pressing thin plate were high detail is wanted but are also suitable for closed die forging and are more popular in Europe than in the U.S.

    -- guru Sunday, 11/29/98 14:11:02 GMT

    30,000 Visits!

    to! It was just a month ago that I was announcing that we had past the 20,000 mark! This forum is still archiving over 200Kb of Questions and Answers each month and I have just added two more book reviews and an illustrated article on Getting Started.

    Thank you for your support!

    -- guru Sunday, 11/29/98 21:38:53 GMT

    Guru...congratulations on the recent landmark of 30,000. Incredible anount of hits on your web page. I visit, read and learn something everyday. Thank you for the service you are providing. Can you tell those of us who patiently await your booklet on JYH, when it will be available?

    Randall Guess -- rguess at Sunday, 11/29/98 22:36:30 GMT

    JYH Booklet: When I originaly announced it's future availability I didn't know I was going to be working a full time job out of town for six months AND trying to maintain anvilfire from the road and on VERY short weekends! Early spring 1999 is the NEW release date.

    However, the long wait is making it a MUCH better booklet. I've had time to examine the workings of the very BEST of the mechanical hammers and I've collected materials for two more machines to be built before publication. Drawings and illustrations take the most time. Building and photographing the results is actually faster!


    -- guru Monday, 11/30/98 01:01:05 GMT

    I have purchased 2 anvils this last year , the first one is a Peter Wright the one I bought yesterday is Vulcan (it has a picture of a arm &hammer on the side). The face is chipped on the sides of the Vulcan and when you tap it with a hammer it sounds dead, like maybe the face has come loose underneath, other than that it is in pretty good shape. How would I go about replacing the face plate? It is a 200 pound anvil , also what steel would you recomend for the replacement face plate? Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    Robin Olson -- olshmid at Monday, 11/30/98 01:35:58 GMT

    First off,congratulations on 30,000 visits.Goes to show that quality is never out of fashion.Thanx for a great site.
    You know that winch that you ,in your role as a swami,predicted was on my truck?
    Well in an act of remarkable stupidity,the details of which I am much too embarassed to recount,I broke off 4 teeth on the brass main gear[helical].The replacement cost of the gear takes that old adage of paying for one's mistakes to new and dizzying heights.
    Is there any way to build up those gear teeth and file them true again?

    dimag -- dimag at Monday, 11/30/98 02:43:33 GMT

    Robin; Your Vulcan anvil sounds dead because it cast iron.... More then likly the face plate has not come loose and if it did there is really no good way to replace it.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Walmetalwk at Monday, 11/30/98 04:31:03 GMT

    Congratulations on the 30,000, Jock. This is a great site, and I would like to once again say thank you for your assistance and knowledge. It is wonderful to have a forum like this to share ideas and the overall brotherhood/sisterhood of blacksmithing.

    Mark Hachmer -- marlin at Monday, 11/30/98 04:31:20 GMT

    BRONZE GEAR TEETH (Diamag:) Whoops! Buildup is possible with plain brazing rod and an oxy-acetylene torch, IF the gear is heavy enough to withstand the welding without so much distortion that is doesn't fit the shaft. The brass will not be quite as strong as the original but it will be very close. Hand filing the teeth is a bit tricky. You have to match the involute shape, clearances and helix angle perfectly. The best way to do this (by hand) is to carefully fit a metal template to a good section of the gear with enough teeth that when it is used to check the "new" teeth that it engages some good teeth on either side of the repair and slides up and down on the helix angle. A little Dremel type tool would speed up both template and gear cutting.

    The important thing to remember about gear teeth is that they need some running clearance (a little backlash). Over sized or over meshed teeth will cause huge seperation forces that may damage bearings or shafts. In this case too loose is better than too tight.

    The amount of time required to make this repair properly might be better spent at the forge making money to buy a new gear. . :)

    -- guru Monday, 11/30/98 05:49:00 GMT

    DEAD ANVIL (Robin): I'd have to look it up but if its a cast anvil as Bruce sumized then it wouldn't have rung when new in perfect condition. Steel faced cast iron anvils are welded in the mold when the iron is poured. There is no repairing them. If the face is loose it will make a hollow clacking noise when struck over that spot.

    Some people swear by their Fisher-Norris and other steel faced cast anvils. In every case they were considerably cheaper than wrought or cast steel anvils of the time. Today there are none made by that method because of quality and reliability problems.

    -- guru Monday, 11/30/98 06:00:15 GMT

    i am interested in learning blacksmithing, i want to make medival armour,and weapons can anyone point me in the right direction?

    Scott Ellis -- fyrfytr273 at Monday, 11/30/98 10:49:13 GMT


    Go to the section of this web site named "21st Century". Read (and then print out for future reference) the article called "GETTING STARTED".

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 11/30/98 13:07:35 GMT

    Scott, See this first, Getting Started. I'm working on a swords and armor specific aricle but the drift is that it is just a higher form of blacksmithing. . .

    We have several links to several medevil and sword sites on the links page. Also check the Camp Femby Edition of the anvilfire! NEWS. It has links to SCA and Markland sites and those folks have links to other relevant sites. The Centaur Forge catalog has numerous books on armor and swordsmithing as well as blacksmithing and knifemaking books (and tools!).

    -- guru Monday, 11/30/98 13:15:20 GMT

    Hmmm, I took too long to answer :)

    MORE ABOUT ARMOUR: Making plate armor requires some tooling that is different from general blacksmithing and you might want to start collecting NOW. Look for sections of hard woodlogs (stumps) like you would set an anvil on but taller. These will BE anvils for hammering sheet metal.

    A stump about 30-36" tall is taken and (shallow) depressions carved into the ends. The end grain is VERY rough and is suitable for making many suits of armor. Grooves can also be carved to form beaded edges. Take advantage of BOTH ends of the stump.

    You may also want a stump to mount stake anvils, mushroom stakes or other forming tools of your contrivance.

    Railroad rail. Although railroad rail anvils are too light and springy for most serious work it is wonderful material to make bickerns and stakes from. You can do wonders with a cutting torch and a grinder. The flange can be drilled to bolt the tool to one of your stumps or cut off and replaced with a piece of 1-1/2" bar for a stake. Much rail is equivalent to SAE 1075 ((correction) a high carbon tool steel) and can be hardened the same.

    Look for any heavy piece of cast iron or steel that has an intresting shape. Amrourers used special anvils or blocks called "maids" with body shaped curves for shaping armor. There are lots of odd industrial items that can be put to similar use.

    KNIFE and SWORD WORK: Start collecting every fractional HP motor you can find. Buffing and pollishing is done in stages and it is easiest to have different setups with various wheels. Flapwheels, wire wheels, contact wheels, buffing wheels dedicated to different compounds.

    These are areas that if you talk to the SCA or Markland folks you will find that there is a LOT of make do in the armourers tools business.

    -- guru

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