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

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

This is an archive of posts from May 5th to April 30th on the Guru's Den

. . . .
Test of something new!

-- guru Sunday, 05/03/98 20:57:47 GMT

It worked four times. But test it one more time just to make sure. I test new things that way and they always pass four times but not always on # five. Just thought I would take a second to give you a hard time. Love your new site. Take care, CLM

Charles Mannis -- cmannis at Sunday, 05/03/98 21:13:09 GMT

Can't find postings for 4&5 May. ????

grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 05/05/98 16:04:53 GMT

Sorry to interupt the Guru's tinkering with his hammer plans...

A friend is using his gas forge to do a lot of welding damascuss. The flux has been eating the bottom up quite badly, even with a shelf added. Is their anything else they can do for the forge to stop the flux from eating away the lining. Any ideas?

I understand from the ceramics people they use a Kiln wash every 2nd or 3rd firing to protect the bottom of the kiln's from falling glaze. Given this material is fairly cheap, do you think the idea would work in a forge.

Bob -- robert_miller at Tuesday, 05/05/98 16:40:17 GMT

Granpa! Sorry, I am in the midst of archiving the log which was getting too big. Will be straight this afternoon!


Thats a good question that I know troubles the industry in general. There are certain refractories that are chemicaly more resistant to specific things. However, borax is an even more universal solvent than glass which when liquid dissolves more things than water!
I spoke to the Guru's guru who has had more experiance in ceramics than I have and he says it should help. The "kiln-wash" is clay slip made from a refractory clay like the bricks. Being slightly denser than the porous brick the wash should help.

I can't speak from personal experiance on this one. Its a good for question for "grandpa" Meier and I'll ask if he has an answer.

-- guru Tuesday, 05/05/98 18:03:11 GMT

RE:BORAX eating bricks. My experience has been that there is no GOOD lining. Guru speaks with a straight tongue. Borax at 2500f will eat a hard fire brick into a spong in less than an afternoon. I've tried several washes,etc., they don't stop the eating, but will slow it down. Castable silicon carbide has done the best for me so far(available from Mankel in Cannonsburg,Mich.) Probably the best would be a pan made from one of the new high temp alloys such as are used for rocket nose cones. Damn the cost. One dry day in the heartland.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 05/05/98 20:51:20 GMT

That's the way mind is most times---lots of blank space.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 05/05/98 21:31:34 GMT

Kiln wash addendum: Bob: If your friend uses a wash, it's a good idea to wash the entire forge interior. 1. Liquid borax will creep up the walls and eat them as it goes. 2. At the higher temperatures encountered where beaucoup fagot welding, the borax will vaporize and recondense on the walls and ceiling. Thus causing stalagtites to form and raise more havoc. Another school of thought is to just don't worry about the destruction of the forge, but rather consider the forge as a consumable. ALL TOOLS HAVE A LIFESPAN. Still dry in the deep south of Illinois.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 05/05/98 22:43:40 GMT

RE: Borax eating bricks
My forge is lind with .050" HAI INCONEL-600. Flux dose not seam to bother it at all and it cuts down the time from cold to forging heat. If the cost is to much I think you could use 302 1/4 hard stainless for most welding operations, but I have not used it my self so I can not say for sure.

Charles -- cmannis at Tuesday, 05/05/98 23:26:12 GMT

grandpa has faced the facts of life as all foundries do. Rammable refractory is a foundry patching product! We make forges out of it, foundries use it to patch broken and erroded brick refractories until they can do a complete reline. Foundries generally keep one cuopola or furnace off line being relined at any given time. If these guys could find a "magic bullet" it would be in use!

It sounds like volume "damascus" makers should stick to stacked brick forges so they can easily replace the lining.

Charles: That Inconnel is a high nickle high temperature alloy that is way beyond 300 series stainless. I'll look it up and post the specifics.

-- guru Tuesday, 05/05/98 23:45:38 GMT

Doesn't anyone use coal anymore? I have never used my gas forge to weld. When I need to weld I just turn to the coal forge. Then again I don't do a lot of damasuss welding. It just seems easier for me to do my forge welding in a coal forge.

Bruce R. Wallace -- Walmetalwk at Tuesday, 05/05/98 23:47:53 GMT

We are all getting to busy to use coal! On the other hand some folks are also having to face up to the facts like Jim Hrisoulas has recently. Localities in many places are forcing small users of coal out. I heard of this problem 10 years ago and I'm sure its not going to get better.

-- guru Tuesday, 05/05/98 23:53:05 GMT

My favorite welding furnace is built similar to the Johnson - what we call a bathtub style. position the burner three or four inches up from the bottom. Use two layers of high alumina fire brick in the bottom. One school of thought says let the slag accumulate the other says bore a one inch hole in the bottom as the slag is liquid in a welding forge. It plugs up, but every once in a while when running long and hard it will pour out like lava! Cast iron bean pot should be in place at all times kinda like those little bags they give you on the airplanes.


GRANT -- NAKEDANVILFIRE at USA.NET Wednesday, 05/06/98 03:30:16 GMT

Hadn't thought about getting them to kiln wash the inside & upper areas. The damascus types use an NC Low Boy & I beleive have gone through 1 re-liner kit & close to going through another. Maybe the point like grandpa & Grant suggest is to go to another forge design.

Re Coal Forge....I own up to using a gas forge as well. Doesn't bother the neighbors & I admit to being a klutz when trying to weld on my coal forge.

Bob -- robert_miller at Wednesday, 05/06/98 04:17:44 GMT

Maybe I'm rude but I don't find it any trouble using coal. Well I take that back I know I'm rude, but that's another story. I was at a local shop that does tool dressing. I was surprised to see that they don't use gas. As a matter of fact they where selling two gas forges they had. It a comfort to know I'm not the only one that still uses coal. I like the hands on feel and control coal gives me. Plus I enjoy getting the neighbors a little riled up from time to time.

Bruce R. Wallace -- Walmetalwk at Wednesday, 05/06/98 05:06:02 GMT


NOTE: INCONEL and MONEL are trade names of the Inco Alloys International Inc., Huntington, WV, USA.

76.0% Nickel
15.5% Chrome
9.0% Iron
0.50% Manganese
0.25% Copper
0.08% Carbon

For Furnace muffles, heat exchanger tubing, nuclear reactors, springs, jet engine parts, good high temperature properties.

Melting point 2575°F

Melting point of INCONEL X750 is 2600°F

-- guru Wednesday, 05/06/98 14:24:10 GMT


You're not the only one that still uses coal. Although I've tried to build a gas forge. Havn't gotten it working yet, though I did figure out (with Jock & Grant's help) what I had done wrong. Just haven't had time to go back to it.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 05/06/98 23:37:53 GMT

Ah! coal the the source of the smiths wealth for decades. Couldn't do with out it, nasty smoken stuff that it is. 40,000 btu's per pound is still hard to beat in my book, for the money that is. Gas is fine too have used it a lot. I just like coal for the color and control of heat at my finger tips. Just look at the color of the fire and adjust it to the work you are doing. Enough of this I could go on forever.
Hey Jim small world huh! Best coal I have found is from Greenmount Fuel Co. In Md. Any body that wants to contact them let me know I will give you their number.

Rick -- rickyc at Thursday, 05/07/98 03:23:02 GMT

Greenmount is listed in the Coal Scuttle mirrored on this page from Fred Holder's Blacksmith's Gazette web page!

-- guru Thursday, 05/07/98 04:05:37 GMT


Great minds run in the same directions. And hang out in the same places. Course, my wife would say great minds hang out in the same gutters! (grin)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 05/07/98 04:58:59 GMT

Hi Jock,
Just read your chapter 13,very interesting and informative. Keep up the good work.
As an anecdote I am reminded of the period,back in the early seventies when I was Export Sales Director for one of the worlds largest producers of gas cylinders. (welding,medical,diving etc.)

Apart from welding "scratches" the worst enemy of steel gas cylinders is corrosion and a tremendous amount of research was done into finding the best corrosion and abuse resistant finish. (For cylinders made from 4130X heat treated to around 45 Rc)
Cutting a long story short the very best and cost effective treatment turned ou to be electrostatically applied powder epoxy. No great surprise there. The best prep treatment and primer coat...sandblast and a light coat of RUST!!..beat the pants off any other form of primer.

Best regards,
Robert Bastow

Robert Bastow -- nil_carborundum at Friday, 05/08/98 12:31:07 GMT

RUST as PRIMER: (Robert)

A little clean rust on clean metal is not a problem. However, a lot of folks don't understand the fine line between a little clean rust and rust that is going to cause problems in the future.

Cost effective was your key word. Welding cylinders get pretty nasty looking and a rough repaint or touch up goes a long way. They are also a high production commdoity that may not sell if over priced by pennies on the pound over the cost of manufacture.

Wrought ironwork should be valued much higher per pound than a production commodity that is rapidly used up and then scraped. Our decorative ironwork should be valued as artwork to be preverved for centuries. Cost effective for a welding cylinder may not be cost effective for publicly displayed art.

A local company I've done work for, sells big automated gas and oil pipeline valves for use in harsh environments such as off shore drilling platforms and nuclear power plants. They sandblast and then prime with something called "Carbo-Zinc 11". The top coat is your electrostatically applied powder epoxy. Again, I must mention this is an industrial product with a finite life measured in decades not centuries.

-- guru Friday, 05/08/98 13:48:22 GMT

Howdy, folks. Thanks for the intel on the atmospheric forge, Jock. I resized my stack, made it smaller and that seems to work better. Ron Reil said he adjusted his design to use a #57 or #58 drilled hole as the gas orifice. I still need to go back and do that. After 1 1/2 hours, the best it'll get up to is mid yellow. Yeah, atmospheric is not as easy a design as forced air gas forge, but at least I don't have to run the power line. Later.

Doug Parrish -- ParrishD at Saturday, 05/09/98 01:01:40 GMT

Stack of bricks, that is. Using heavy refractory brick I salvaged from a local crematorium. Freaked my wife out, but I'm on a tight budget.

Doug -- Parrishd at Saturday, 05/09/98 01:03:54 GMT

I can see the ghosts wasping away taking the heat with them. . .

Carburettor orifices can be used in your burner OR some type of replaceable jet. A little 1/4" SS hex bolt with a hole drilled through! Make several while you are setup. You want a heavy 60 degree center drill type chamfer on the inside and a smooth polished edge on the exit.

-- guru Saturday, 05/09/98 02:15:57 GMT

The Lady asked: What are powdered coatings? Good question!

"Powdered Coatings" are a semi industrial process, the same as electrostic coating (paint). The part is put in a booth and attached (sits) on a high voltage (static electricity) source. Paint with very little binder is sprayed into the booth. The electric charge causes all the paint to cover the part so there is no waste and the EPA is happy. A varity of processes can be used for the paint (two part epoxies, heat cureable, etc.).

Besides low waste and low immisions industry likes it because the paint is atracted to and sticks in and under hard to reach places that traditional spray would miss. Full coverage without dipping. Perfect for wrought iron.

-- guru Saturday, 05/09/98 14:51:34 GMT

Hi Jock. The site is great, and the tong method is fantastic. I'm gonna get my hands on some heavier stock and make a fuller. As you know from my postings on the Yard, I have been forging bor about 6 months. I am interested in the hydrolic press that you recently described on Neil's page. Is an H style press the kind that you commonly see in automotive repair shops? Secondly, could you describe how you made the dies? I may build one of these presses to cut out leaves and other regular shapes from 1/16 sheet stock. I know that these are simple questions, but I apprececiate your assistance. Regards from Gravenhurst, Ontario...mark.

Mark H. -- marlin at Saturday, 05/09/98 21:11:04 GMT

Blanking dies: (Mark)

In Proffesional Smithing Donald Streeter describes some primitve relative dies for making leaves. I've posted photos and a description of my press under 21st Century. I'll have to get into diesets later because it isn't as simple a subject as you would think. Automotive presses are an H-frame press however the cheaper commom variety is too springy for punch work.

What is a die set? It is a holding device for one or more sets of punches and dies. They have precision hardened guide rods and bushings so that the alignment is down in the 10ths of 1000ths of an inch. They are relatively cheap and take care of a big part of the ultra precision stuff. Normally springs are used to pull the punch out of the work and die. These are called stripper springs. Sometimes they bear against a plate that clamps the work down called a stripper plate. Like I said, a good subject for later (with diagrams).

-- guru Saturday, 05/09/98 21:56:32 GMT

OBTW- My fuller is a 3/4" section sawed from a peice of 150# RR-rail. Forged a little and quenched in oil.

-- guru Saturday, 05/09/98 21:58:25 GMT

Thanks for the information, Jock. I look forward to an in depth discussion at a later time. The picture and write up explained a lot. I think this may be a good project for me later on. Thanks again!

Mark H. -- marlin at Sunday, 05/10/98 01:12:19 GMT


Like I said, this design has some flaws. The narrow frame is good but it could have had twice the span for the weight of the steel I used. The tight guide bushing is a big improvement over the type that float. I mentioned the stroke improvements in the article.

If I were to build another I wouldn't change anything else. The advantage to the stiff frame is that it has very little spring. When you pump up the ram it just smoothly goes "pop". On a springy cheap frame when the punch goes through the whole frame pops back and goes "Wham!"

The one thing I would do (for me) is build one using a 50 or 100 ton "pancake" cylinder. A manual press is best used for cold work and this requires more force. To calculate the tonage requirement for a job, use 30 TONS per square inch of steel. There is some safety allowance in this figure but its needed. In the case of a round blank you take the perimeter (circumference) times the thickness. Multiply that by the 30 tons and you have your tonage. Failure to run this simple calculation has resulted in the destruction of thousands of punch presses! Of course all that would happen on this hydraulic press is that the punch would stall. No big failure, but by the time you get there you have used a LOT of time and effort!

-- guru Sunday, 05/10/98 02:00:17 GMT

I got the info you were kind enough to send me earlier. Iwas wondering if these specics would add any light to your answer.
I just built a porpane forge out of an old metal melting furnace and I'm having a little problem getting it above 2000 deg.(I have a pyrometer) for forge welding.Should the flame be blue or green. I'm using an old vacume cleaner (Electrolux canister) as my air source, at full blow the flame still sticks(sort of) to the flame holder I built in the blow pipe. ??? Maybe some one could discibe what it supposed
to look like when it's producing max BTU's. I've tried adjusting the gas pressure and air pressure and can't seem to break 2 grand. Thanks Forge specs:2" thick poured refracctory App.1cubic foot of interior space feed by a 1/1/2"air flow necked down to a 3/4" T for the gas side with a 5/32" orfice and then necked up to 1 1/2" to go into the forge. All this necking is to encorgage a better gas/air mixup(Kinda like dating). I have been told by 2 people responding to a earlyer posting that I have to much air , which I tend to believe.How many CFM would be in the ballpak of right??
Thanks for all the help out there.

Ron Hardy -- rhemail Sunday, 05/10/98 03:54:07 GMT

The flame should be orange when you can see it (too rich) and clear when right. The color you are seeing is probably the "flame holder" burning up. I've never used one of these so I'm not sure how they affect burner performance.

Specific CFM of the required air can be calculated but is difficult on an "experimental" forge. My forge with about the same volume requires 90 to 140 CFM. Your vacuume cleaner probably puts out 10 to 20 times that! On the other hand, IF the air is passing through that 3/4" pipe the restriction will be reducing the amount of air considerably. Reducing the air is easy (choke the intake or make a "butterfly" valve). So even though it sounds like you have too much air it might not be the case.

When a blower type forge is running at the optimum mixture the forge makes a deep throaty roar that can rattle the windows in your shop! Once there it is best to richen the mixture just a little. This reduces the noise and the oxidation.

On small forges TOO much gas/air is generally the problem. This causes a large portion of the cumbustion to occurr out side of the forge. When the velocity of the gas/air mix is too low the flame tends to pop back into the burner. Just a little more flow than this is generally about right. The small orifice size you are using sounds like a jet for an "atomospheric" forge (one without blower). These need a high velocity jet, the blower forge does not. I run a 1/4" line directly into the burner. The orifice may be reducing the gas volume.

What is the pressure range for your regulator? For that orifice to work you may need as much as 50-60 psi.

-- guru Sunday, 05/10/98 05:29:32 GMT


One of the things I forgot to mention last night is patience. Gas forges typically take 20 minutes to an hour to come up to temperature. As the refractory absorbs heat it has more to give up and the temperature will be generaly higher.

Another thing is your pyrometer and where is it located? Generally you can not put a pyrometer in the hotest part of a forge. The junction end will burn up (reporting accurately until there is nothing left).

I have a pyrometer on my forge that I use when heat treating. When the tip is retracted into the brick just a little it reads 800 degrees F less than when it is out in the furnace atomosphere!

For tempering I shut the forge off, wait until the temperature drops to just above the desired temperature and then place the work to be tempered into the forge and shut the opening with a brick or two. The temperature will stay in the tempering "range" for about half an hour.

-- guru Sunday, 05/10/98 18:06:29 GMT

We don't burn no dirt, and we don't weld much either. Last time we did we made a pan from 300 stainless. It worked for a morning. Don Hawley, of blessed memory, said nothing last long at 2,500 degrees, consumable forges may be the answer. Put the money in the burners and controls and let the floors melt where they may.

Toby Hickman -- waylan at Monday, 05/11/98 01:50:29 GMT

Burn dirt. . . I like that! :o)

-- guru Monday, 05/11/98 02:32:33 GMT

I have heard that combination dies on a mechanical hammer are considered by some to be a bad idea given it forces the work further out to the edge, in turn causing waer on the hammer from not striking squarely. Or is this something done easier on a larger hammer....Comments??

Bob -- robert_miller at Monday, 05/11/98 03:20:05 GMT

O.K. if I throw my two cent worth in?     ANY TIME! -jd

Some people don't like combo dies and there are good argument both ways. If the dies are long enough so you can get away with only 1/3 of the length for drawing, it works pretty well because then you can still do the heavy stuff near the middle and drawing in drawing dies doesn't take a lot of force. Best if your machine has real good guides.

Hi, Jock!

grant, wet in tacoma

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Monday, 05/11/98 04:48:00 GMT

Combination forging dies make small hammers much more useful. A vast majority of the forging stresses occur at the edges of square dies when using them for drawing or cornering. The fullering or curved portion of combination dies actually do more work at the center of the die.

The only dies that I have seen that are really hard on small hammers are jackhammer bit pointing dies (Grant is VERY familiar with these). They have a flat taper of about 40 degrees extending across most of the die face, generally on the lower die only. This steep taper puts more horizontal thrust on the guides than most small machines were designed for. Especially since these are used for repeditive work on tool steel.

Most of the small new machines on the market (such as the BULL and KA-##) have what I consided a "radical" fullering die. I first saw these demonstrated in 1882 at Ripley, WV on one of the little German self contained hammers Centuar Forge was showcasing. Prior to this all the combination dies I had seen had a gentle radius on half the die and were not cut away like the new style.

These dies are more "radical" because they concentrate the force of the hammer they way you would with a fuller and are more difficult to produce long smooth tapers with. Less radicaly arced dies do a smoother job but do not move as much metal. I prefer the gently arced dies or even flat dies with a hand held fuller.

-- guru Monday, 05/11/98 12:10:25 GMT


I knew you were OLD, but 1882???????

That makes you even older than I am!!

(laughing out loud)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 05/11/98 23:20:05 GMT

22 degrees actually! Paving breaker bit that is.


GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Monday, 05/11/98 23:54:37 GMT

Is that the included angle? or just one side?

1882. . . Well I guess that's OK. Its better than the guys that think I'm 10,000 years old. A REAL OLD hippy craftsman!

-- guru Tuesday, 05/12/98 00:14:39 GMT

Hi Guys; I just found this site. If I can put in my 2 cents worth also, I have responses to some of the inquiries. I've used both Gas at Coal and like both for different purposes. Centaur Forge has ceramic welding plates to fit the floors of NC and other standard gas forges. Apparently many of the internetcrowd seem to have the free time to continue trying to reinvent the wheel. Personally, I prefer to USE forges and hammers that already work well, as to spend all my time fixing and redesigning them. Reiter/Kuhn(airhammer) combo dies come in various configurations and can be further customized. Dies used at Ripley were selected by Habermann and other demonstrators from a Kuhn die catalog. Bill Pieh wpieh at or 414-763-9175 (fax 763-8350)

Bill Pieh -- wpieh at Tuesday, 05/12/98 03:01:08 GMT

Well let's see, pi R squared X the hyperbolic cotangent of the framass. 22 degree including what? Well if you have a flat top die, this is the angle from horizontal you want in the bottom die. Yeah, that's the ticket!


GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Tuesday, 05/12/98 05:44:33 GMT

OK, So, the old micrometer eyeball is not as good a protractor!

Thanks for the input on the ceramic plates Bill!

I try not to reinvent the wheel but so many times myself, but a lot of people insist on building their own and I try to help them as much as possible.

-- guru Tuesday, 05/12/98 14:11:17 GMT

Jock; It was nice talking to you just now on the phone. I forgot; Is it appropriate to list things for sale here, or where? I have a couple of large used airhammers for sale; A 200 lb chambersburg utility hammer and a Kuhn K-3 (176 lb. ram), and a smallo Keri-hard (Red Oak Iowa) mechanical and a large 20/40 ton "C frame" hydraulic press. Thanks, Bill Pieh

Bill Pieh -- wpieh at Tuesday, 05/12/98 17:32:30 GMT

Bill: The guru page is reserved for questions and answers, technical discussion. The Hammer-In is a free for ALL were you can list things for sale, offer to buy - whatever.

For the small fee to run a classified ad on the Source Book, I'll post photos for you! Jock D.

-- guru Tuesday, 05/12/98 18:28:37 GMT

Thanks Jock; I'll look for it (hammer-in). Bill

Bill Pieh -- wpieh at Wednesday, 05/13/98 00:27:25 GMT

Grant: Re your answer to the combination dies...would that apply to 25# L Giants too, which having just aquired one my question was based on. Thanks..

Bob -- robert_miller at Wednesday, 05/13/98 05:55:45 GMT


Shouldn't be a problem, make the dies as long as seems willing to fit, or are you just grinding the existing ones? This it one hammer that can benifit from "extreme" drawing dies.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Thursday, 05/14/98 01:11:30 GMT

Great to see more like it..looking for air power hammer plans. Seen the ones at abana, know of any others? Thanks...

Jimmy -- iron at Thursday, 05/14/98 03:13:14 GMT

The existing dies are ok for a while but will need work (some chipping started). I was just thinking ahead as to what I should make for them. I suppose if you are going to make one set making a few other shouldn't be harder.

Bob -- Thursday, 05/14/98 06:08:57 GMT


If you have any chipping on your dies something is very wrong!

When operating a hammer you are not supposed to let the dies strike each other but it does happen! If things are correctly aligned and the dies are properly radiused no danage should occur unless there is considerable abuse.

It IS possible that someone used the hammer to try to work cold metal (do some straightening maybe) and damaged the dies. In this case alignment would not be the problem.

To check alignment on your Little Giant you can loosen the adjustable toggle OR lower the stroke adjustment until the faces just touch and then use a thin feeler guage around the edges. Another way is to fold a piece of carbon paper over a piece of thin cardboard or poster board and a piece of paper over that. Give the hammer one clean blow on the pile and then pull it out. The resulting pattern will indicate die wear and improper alignment. There sould be a print for both the top and bottom die. This method is not perfect but it can show up serious alignment problems.

The last problem that can cause die chipping is excessively worn or loose guides. This can cause the dies to twist out of alignment and the corners strike. Repair/adjsustment is the only solution in this case.

-- guru Thursday, 05/14/98 11:36:30 GMT


I've thought about doing something along this line in the future. I've seen the KA-## and run the BULL and they are both great machines and relatively simple.

I've heard good and bad things about the Ron Kinyon hammer but you never know if it were the plans or the execution. I personaly have not seen his plans so I really cannot comment hear. I have made a mental note to check them out put have not gotten around to it.

I recently traded for a comparitively huge air hammer. A Niles Bement "C" frame hammer with 350 pound ram! Later in the year I will be doing a series of articles on the refurbishment, setup and operation. This will be the kick off point for lots of air and power hammer articles and notes.

-- guru Thursday, 05/14/98 11:48:31 GMT

Guru: It's sure is a small world. I just found a source to advise me, later in the year when he gets his 350# Bement mounted, how to mount my 600# Bement.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Thursday, 05/14/98 11:56:16 GMT

Niles Bements: I have a 1915 Audels (set) that just happens to have instructions for setting up a Niles! There is not much details but I will get you a copy.

My 350 was part of a two hammer deal, the other being a 700/750 Niles!

I had traded my 250# Little Giant for the 350#. When the fellow went to pick up the anvils that went with the hammers they had been scraped! So I traded for TWO hammers. Josh has the big one and just happened to have an anvil for a 750# Chambersburg that fit! His part of the deal is to make/find/buy an anvil for mine!

Talk about a REALLY shrinking world!

OBTW - The capacitys of these hammers are based on my calculations which are based on rough sketches and dimensions.

-- guru Thursday, 05/14/98 12:35:58 GMT

Oh, this is just sooooo cool! Royal Purple! On your knees knaves!! As my father used to say "One a king, always a king. But once a night is enough!"

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Friday, 05/15/98 04:25:37 GMT

Give em' a purple pen and he thinks he rules the world!

-- guru Friday, 05/15/98 04:27:51 GMT

Hey Jock. I just read about the water pail forge. I'm itchin to try it. Am I likely to end up frying myself or ruining my welding machine trying this? What solution should I use for an electrolyte?
I really like your site. Between this and the junkyard I'm picking up a bit of stuff here and there. Also, I intend to eventually get a power hammer of some sort. Is an isolation block necessary? What are the foundation requirements for one. I'll have more questions for you later if I can think of any. Thanks.

Sean Chappell -- thorthor at Friday, 05/15/98 09:42:17 GMT

I haven't tried the water pail forge with my welder because I think the voltage is too low. I've found several references to it but the UNL artical says 220 VDC. Now that will fry you! I think the need for DC and the inherent danger at that voltage is the reason the technique dissapeared.

At the time DC was still in contention for general use and AC was a wild hair! UNL produced their own DC power so it was no problem. Converting AC to DC with old fashioned rectifiers was wasteful AND expesive. Prior to the availability of cheap huge diodes all DC welders were motor/generator types. Today making DC from AC is childs play.

The danger of fatality is still a serious question. High voltage DC and water with you attached to one side of the circuit. . . Suicidial!
People are occasionaly killed by the low voltage of their welders and there is no question that this wouldn't do the job.

I plan on doing some R&D on this process but with some safeguards. The work should be held by a clamping device that can be quickly opened and closed. The circuit should never be hot unless the part is in the tank and there is no possibility of human physical contact.

A hinged arm to hold the work so it smoothly flips from a "bench" position to the tank position. The arm would have an interlock switch and the main power a manual push button that does not latch (maybe two like they do on punch presses so that BOTH hands are clear)!

Nothing high tech, but properly thought out safeguards. This is definately a DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME KIDS!


A lot depends on the size of the hammer and the floor system in your shop. Even small hammers will rattle everything in your shop if sitting on a bare concrete floor. Its not good for the hammer OR the floor. Too stiff a foundation also appears to cause frame damage on some hammers.

A small hammer can be set on a wood or rubber pad to reduce the shock to the hammer and floor. Rubber isolation pads need some porosity or texture to assure compressability. Solid rubber, like water, acts as an incompressable liquid. It can be displaced but not compressed.

Shops with dirt or wood floors need a seperate foundation for a hammer. This can be made of wooden piles or concrete.

There is a school of thought that says that forging hammers work better when the foundation has some give or bounce. I think this is true but is a relative thing. The bigger the machine the more cushion it needs.

A proper hammer foundation supports the machine while letting the anvil move as it will, yet keeping everything in alignment. That is why the best hammers have a seperate anvil. The anvil is set on a seperate foundation from the hammer frame. When a huge monolithic isolation pad is used, both hammer and anvil have different type of cushioning.

This is one of those subjects that we could really write a small book on, but who would care?

-- guru Friday, 05/15/98 13:05:15 GMT

Thanks for answering my questions Jock. I'll let you do some R&D on the water pail forge and listen to what you have to say about it before I fry myself. Also someone was asking me about making cooking tripods that also converted into a straight sided pot holder, kind of like a spit. They say theyve seen them at Rev War reenactments, but I have no idea how the connecting parts go together. Do you have any idea what I'm babbling about. Could you tell me where I could find pictures of these or explain to me how they work? I'm sure someone has come up with a simpler solution than I could come up with. I always seem to do things the hard way. Thanks

Sean Chappell -- thorthor at Friday, 05/15/98 14:16:27 GMT

TRIPOD (Sean):
The standard tripod has been around since ancient times (the bronze age). These were often religious symbols and were both ridgid one piece affairs and the flexible type. I'm not into the reenatcment scene though I have done some demonstrations where they were going on. I've never seen exactly what you are talking about.

Most have a ring with the three legs attached with a loop end. For flexability sometimes chain is used for the coupling.

If two legs were coupled at the top end to the ring, and the third removable then you would have the pieces for your spit. If the third leg had a loop that turned more than 360 degrees (say 450) and was spread open like a spring, you could take it off the ring and use it as the third leg.

If the word pictures above aren't clear enough I can make a sketch and post it. I've never made one of these but I know it will work!

-- guru Friday, 05/15/98 15:53:48 GMT

Sean: I good way to test this would be to make a model with wire or pipe cleaners. You may come up with a better method.

-- guru Friday, 05/15/98 15:56:01 GMT


I make cooking tripods out of 1/2" round bar. I bend a centered ring on all three legs, and leave one ring open just a little bit. That way, by slipping the joints together, you can set up the tripod.

Taking the same three pieces of steel, if you set the two closed rings into the ground, and slide the piece with the slightly open ring through the two rings sitting inthe ground, now you have a spit.

Put the two closed rings fairly close together, make a set of graduated hooks to slide onto the spit, for temperature adjustment,
or to hang more than one thing at a time over the fire.

Tripods can also be made from 5/8" rebar, and I've seen a lot made that way. But personally, I don't care for the way they look, particularly for re-enactors.


if that's not very clear, can you sketch what I'm trying to say for the plans section?

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 05/15/98 18:29:10 GMT

Sean and Jock both,

I dunno what I'm thinking about. Stop by my web page, on the practicle side, you can see a picture of the tripod style that I'm trying to describe.

Jock has a link, or I am at:

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 05/15/98 18:32:30 GMT

Both throuhgh Centaur Forge Ltd. and personally, I have used, bought and sold new and used air and mechanical hammers for years.
Regarding forging hammer foundations, it's best to stick with the recommendations of the individual manufacturers for the particular size and model of machine. Change anything and expect strange things to happen. Yes, a book could be written on the subject. For a hammer to be made as a one piece machine, requires massive cast iron construction or underpowered design, and there are quite a few machines like that floating around the country - including the ubitiquous little giants and similar machines. Most of the more powerful and efficient machines that are designed to not weigh more than the Titanic, have separate anvils. The tradeoff here is that you have to pay more attention to installation and foundation design. Kuhn, for example has several ways of mounting machines.
Kuhn will supply plans and accessories for a "Vibration-free" foundation. This is essentially a specially engineered foundation block, sitting on special metal-rubber vibration dampers; the whole in a reenforced concrete pit in the floor - with an air gap all around. This is the most sophisticated hammer foundation anywhere and allows full power operation with virtually no concussion travelling through the ground to the surrounding area. Because of the expense and time involved, it is not too common here in the Americas. Kuhn has several alternatives that he approves of, however. My fa

Bill Pieh -- wpieh at Friday, 05/15/98 18:38:28 GMT

Both throuhgh Centaur Forge Ltd. and personally, I have used, bought and sold new and used air and mechanical hammers for years.
Regarding forging hammer foundations, it's best to stick with the recommendations of the individual manufacturers for the particular size and model of machine. Change anything and expect strange things to happen. Yes, a book could be written on the subject. For a hammer to be made as a one piece machine, requires massive cast iron construction or underpowered design, and there are quite a few machines like that floating around the country - including the ubitiquous little giants and similar machines. Most of the more powerful and efficient machines that are designed to not weigh more than the Titanic, have separate anvils. The tradeoff here is that you have to pay more attention to installation and foundation design. Kuhn, for example has several ways of mounting machines.
Kuhn will supply plans and accessories for a "Vibration-free" foundation. This is essentially a specially engineered foundation block, sitting on special metal-rubber vibration dampers; the whole in a reenforced concrete pit in the floor - with an air gap all around. This is the most sophisticated hammer foundation anywhere and allows full power operation with virtually no concussion travelling through the ground to the surrounding area. Because of the expense and time involved, it is not too common here in the Americas. Kuhn has several alternatives that he approves of, however. My favorite, on certain models, is to bolt the machine to a solid steel block which sits on special rubber extrusions on top of the floor. This is heavy enough to absorb the power of the machine and still allows portability, as it requires no digging up of the floor and the time required for the work and waiting for concrete to cure.
2 piece hammers require a rigid base, as if you think about it, all "C" frame hammers try to pound themselves apart. If the base were wood, for example, some amount of energy is wasted in moving the anvil instead of moving the metal to be forged.
Regardless of the brand, model and size of hammer, the foundation should be properly done or you will have problems. I spend a lot of time with my customers in understanding these and other factors, so that they will be able to do it right the first time.
Hope this sheds a little light on the subject. Bill Pieh

Bill Pieh -- wpieh at Friday, 05/15/98 18:38:58 GMT

Hey guys, thanks for the advice on the tripods. In my mind it seemed that with a gap in one of the eyes on one of the legs, it would slip apart in use. I really like Jocks idea, it will definitely work without slipping. I would have never have thought of something that simple.
Also, I was wondering if there was a chat room for blacksmithing.

Sean Chappell -- thorthor at Friday, 05/15/98 19:34:49 GMT

Sean: Yes there is or was but it has been broken everytime I try it. I think you can find it on the ABANA or BABA page (see our links).

I have one planned for anvilfire but it is a job getting a good one setup. The one here will be called the Slack-Tub Pub. I already have a few guest speakers setup but no software yet!

BILL: Thanks for the input on hammer foundations. The one thing I didn't remember to mention (thank you) is the manufacturer's recomendations are best. In the case of grandpa's and my old Niles-Bements I just happen to be lucky to have those specs.

-- guru Friday, 05/15/98 21:12:22 GMT

There you go again with those OLD books. Since the 30's most manufacturers have recomended one piece foundations for two piece hammers. I've set up half a dozen large hammers and find this to work very well. Last one had six pile driven 30 feet and about 35 yards of concrete. Cost me $25,000.00 ten years ago.

One interesting thing I've found with two piece hammers that have no provision for bolting the anvil down, is that they GROW up out of the ground. Seemed like my anvil was a little higher than it was a couple of years ago. Finally lifted the anvil up as far as the frame would allow and guess what! SIX to EIGHT inches of scale packed under the anvil!! With these big hammers the anvil goes 3-4 feet below ground. Of course scale collects down there and every time the hammer hit the anvil would bounce UP enough to let a LITTLE scale under. After two years it added up to eight inches! Checked with a large local forge and they said they had the same problem and cleaned them out every year.On these hammers the anvil is only held in by wedges between it and the frame. Best solution I found was to fill the gap around the anvil with hot tar. A little smokey untill it gets covered over with scale!

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 05/16/98 01:04:31 GMT

I mean the gap at the base of the anvil, not in the frame.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 05/16/98 01:07:25 GMT

Guru: I have been playing around with some clear enamel and Lacquer finishes for outdoor pieces but don't know how well they will hold up. What do you recommend for an outdoor finish that will show a more natural metal look but not rust? Thanks Mike.

Mike Sherman -- mmsher at Saturday, 05/16/98 01:41:04 GMT

Lacquer is the harder of the two finishes and is fairly weather resistant if you are using the automotive variety. Being a clear finish it is sometimes difficult to tell if you have completely covered an object. If the finish is raw metal wire brushed clean then the type of fuel you are using is critical.

Coal plates or condenses on the cooler parts of your ironwork durring heating and leaves that shiney black finish. The problem is this is a mixture of coal volitiles and anhydrous compounds. The volitiles are not necessarily compatable with your paint and are likey to cause peeling or flaking problems. The anhydrous compounds are unstable and have an affinity for water. This affinity for water is so strong that they will absorb it from the air if necessary. This process causes the compounds to expand and produce boils in the painted surface. The boils then become a place for water to collect and things go down hill from there.

Arc welding and forge flux are also an anhydrous compounds and have the same problems. If you don't use anhydrous borax it becomes that way when it is melted!

Gas does not contribute to this problem.

The clear finish looks great when new but is not a permanent finish in most climates. In arid climates you can get away with a lot less protective finish.

I was recently looking at some imported lawn furniture with a clear lacquer finish. In fine print on the little 1" square price tag it said, "Clear finish is not permanent. Paint this product if used outdoors".

I always recomend sand blasting and a full industrial finish for outdoor work. NOTE: Once this finish is applied there is nothing that says you can't put a nice hand rubbed finish of some sort over that. See my article on Corosion in 21st Century.

-- guru Saturday, 05/16/98 02:39:48 GMT

The 1982 Forging Industry Association Open Die Forging Handbook Duplicates the 1915 Niles-Bement Foundation drawing. Then goes on to say that on really large hammers a single foundation is prefered because of its added mass.

The 1970 ASM Metals Handbook Vol. 5 Forging and Casting shows several types of hammers including the Niles-Bement diagram (again) however, this time the foundation is specifically described as shown in the drawing (seperate anvil foundation on wood pad).

On the other hand, James Nasmyth's original 1839 sketch from which all double frame forging hammers are derived, showed a seperate anvil and presumably foundation.

One thing different on modern double frame hammers is that the frames are bolted to an oversized anvil. However, the joint between the pieces is a very special one. It is keyed and bolted with bolts supported on huge springs. The springs allow the anvil the move down or the frame up (a relative motion) without damaging the hammer. If bolted directly the bolts or the frame would break.

When a monolithic foundation is specified for a two piece hammer the foundation must be substantial enough so that it doesn't move under the hammer and possibly damage the frame.

-- guru Saturday, 05/16/98 02:41:57 GMT

Sorry GURU! I still can't agree on this one. 1915 reproductions in a 1982 publication don't constitute current thinking. Niles-Bement hasn't been around for a long time. All of my literature from Chambersburg and Erie reccomend the one piece foundation. I can't find any reference to a double frame hammer consructed as you describe. The description you give sounds more like a drop hammer.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 05/16/98 04:05:10 GMT

Actually an A-Frame power drop hammer!

And I DO agree that no-one currently recomends the independent foundation. But it doesn't mean it's a bad way to setup a hammer. It worked quite well for over a hundred years. I'm not opposed to progress but sometimes the reasons for the recomendations are not necessarily the best way to do something but may be the most expediant.

Lets discuss something of more popular intrest!

Bertie has suggested that as a test of the Junk Yard Hammers we each come up with several tests. Then both machines will perform both sets of tests. He suggested 4 or 5 each (that sounded too much like work to me). Maybe 2 tests each? For a total of four. If we pick identical tests then we would have go to alternate tests.

Bertie's first suggestion was to do an "egg" test! Set the egg on the die and then see how close you could get without breaking the egg.


Get out the face shields and full aprons everyone! The millisecond JYH egg test is about to begin! I told Bertie these weren't AIR hammers we were building, they might just barely be described as mechanical hammers! I don't know about yours, but mine starts with the dies almost closed. A little snug for a common chicken egg!

-- guru Saturday, 05/16/98 04:54:29 GMT

How about we balance the egg on TOP of the ram and see how far we can launch it!!

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 05/16/98 05:15:27 GMT

Not a bad idea actually! My design has more in common with a catapult than with any hammer I ever saw!

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 05/16/98 05:18:29 GMT

TEST #1: Opperator must be able to jump over his machine! Failure to do so means egg on face!

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 05/16/98 05:21:27 GMT

Real test: Starting with 3/4 inch square bar, forge a point 4-5 inches long. Judging should be based on time spent executing smoothness and sharpness of point. This is mostly a test of control, especialy doing a really small sharp point.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 05/16/98 05:28:53 GMT

Fair Test. (Of course we've got pictures of you doing that one). That's one down. I guess I better get a machine running before making any wild challanges!

2nd EGG test. Forge spatula, fry egg sunny side up on top of forge and remove with spatula without breaking yoke! Best looking egg wins. . . .

-- guru Saturday, 05/16/98 14:07:50 GMT

What is the cheapest way of keeping welding rods dry besides never pening the can?

I use 6010 rod often and don't have a problem with just keeping it in tightly closed container but 7018 low hydrogen rod,now that is "a horse of a different color".

I have been reading Lincoln Electrics books I just bought to review some things I may have forgotten from my previous trade school days. They say to keep low hydrogen rod dry it has to be kept at 250 degrees. Besides going to a welding supply store and purchasing an expensive welding rod oven what else could I use? At my place of employment they use theses ovens and portable can ovens. A freind uses his kitchen oven to dry them before he uses them, I wonder what is wife thinks about him bringing in a non food item into the home!! My wife would would have me drawn and quartered.

At my buddies machine shop where I use his metal working machines and his great welding machines,he uses an old refrigerator with a light bulb in it. It seems to work ok for most rods but I think the 7018 rod should be dryer. He mostly uses his welding to put together jigs as work holders and light welding included in job orders.

THE BUB -- hagiumet at Saturday, 05/16/98 15:47:24 GMT

The refrigerator with bulb is the only "trick" I know. I live in a very damp environment (old grist mill on stream) and even less critical rods soak up so much moisture that they won't even weld! I dry mine as needed on top of the gas forge AND I have baked a few in the kitchen. I don't have a kitchen stove in my shop at this time but I have in the past (and will in the future). Old nasty looking stoves that work are often available for the hauling! Besides being handy for drying welding rods and cooking lunch, they are useful for:

Melting Babbit
Drying molds
Low end tempering (450 F)
Boiling parts to clean
Melting wax
Heating a block of steel for higher end tempering and temper bluing.
Heating plexiglass for forming

A (smaller than a refrigerator) metal "bread box" with a bulb might keep the rods drier.


-- guru Saturday, 05/16/98 15:51:38 GMT

3 Things; Most important first, the only true egg test is to crack the egg and let the chick walk away. Art jones says they did a egg cracking at Mare Island Blacksmith Shop, no chick, but they did crack an egg with one of the big hammers without smashing it.
2; My hammer was installed in '81. It sits on 28" of concrete with a channel iron frame cast in the block so that 1.125" nuts welded to the frame are 12" below the mounting holes and a tube rises to the surface. I put a sheet of 1.125" subfloor plywood between the concrete and the hammer frame. my hammer hits very hard and the nuts are still tight. Mine is a one piece. I asume both you, Jock and Grant, would build the frame so the finish hight puts the anvil-die at a comfortable hight, after all its only horseshoers who work with their heads below their butts!
3; Ive got a Job I'm looking at, out dorrs near saltwater, I'm looking into zinc metalspraying as an alternitive to hot dip galvanizing, Does any one have any experience with this technology? Jock I enjoy your site and look forward to saying howdy at Ashville.

Toby Hickman -- waylan at Saturday, 05/16/98 16:08:16 GMT

ZINC: I've had very good results with "cold galvanizing". That is pure zinc powder in a paint binder. See my article on corrosion on the 21st Century page.

I remember seeing a presentation at Ripley, WV in '82? on the work the Germans were doing with zinc metalizing. They were talking about how expensive the whole process was (acid etch before and after). The total cost and man hours were significant. I asked why they didn't just start with stainless? They said, "It wouldn't hold up as well". I didn't argue the point. . . (see my article on the Norfolk Latch).

It doesn't matter if the zinc is dipped or sprayed. You either need to let is age afterwards, or acid etch it so paint will stick. Ageing can take a year to 10 years depending on the finish. It took the tin roof on my shop 10 years to turn flat and start to look grey! Most hot dip isn't that pretty but spray metalizing can be pretty glossy.

Stainless is not the answer to every outdoor job. It is expensive, difficult to work and nearly impossible to forge weld. However, I would carefully look at the materials cost, vs. the class of work and the labor costs for finishing. I always pay a sandblasting contractor for his services. For the $100 miniumum on a small gate and up you can buy a lot of materials! You can also assure the customer that the work will NEVER need to be refinished

-- guru Saturday, 05/16/98 17:08:03 GMT

Jock: I'm not able to post in the virtual hammer-inn. I'll check my end, you check yours,O.K.?

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 05/16/98 20:50:14 GMT

re:welding rod storage has anyone tried storing them in an old toaster oven the one i have has temp. control and you can pick them up at a flea market

Matt Eckart -- Queaos Saturday, 05/16/98 21:43:26 GMT

All fixed now! My screw up! Left the "add data here" tag off when I din an edit!

-- guru Saturday, 05/16/98 21:43:58 GMT

I thought about a toster oven but I'm not sure they are long enough (I'll got put a rod in ours). The other problem is that like toasters they have exposed bare heating elements! It is not recomended to put any loose metalic objects in them!

Nope! The 12" long 3/32" rod I picked up wouldn't fit in our fairly standard Proctor Silex toaster oven. The 14" long 1/8" rod was almost as long as the outside of the oven! Good try!

-- guru Saturday, 05/16/98 21:54:45 GMT

About the 7018 rods. I've heard that you can burn off the first two inches on a piece of scrap and let the rod sit for a short while and the heat in the rod should drive off the moisture. Never tried this cause I mostly use 6013s at home and when I was using 7018s we had a rod oven. Hope this works. Any comments?

Sean Chappell -- thorthor at Saturday, 05/16/98 23:21:37 GMT

About the 7018 rods. I've heard that you can burn off the first two inches on a piece of scrap and let the rod sit for a short while and the heat in the rod should drive off the moisture. Never tried this cause I mostly use 6013s at home and when I was using 7018s we had a rod oven. Hope this works. Any comments?

Sean Chappell -- thorthor at Saturday, 05/16/98 23:26:59 GMT

Problem with drying the rod when you need it is once the water gets in it takes a high temperature to get it out. Just like trying to make anhydrous borax from the hydrous variety. once metallic salts combine with water it takes at least 750 F. to drive it out.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Sunday, 05/17/98 00:55:28 GMT

The whole point of the low hydrogen rods BUB was inquiring about requires no absorbed moisture which introduces hydrogen from the water into the weld. Even if the rods are dry enough to weld the chemistry will have been affected.

-- guru Sunday, 05/17/98 01:21:44 GMT

Belated comments: Sean re tripods: I also used to make them for the blackpowder trade. Used 1/2 inch square rod (thought it was more authentic for the period). Same general method as Jock and Jim Wilson suggested with minor differences. Two rods with closed centered eyes, mayby a decorative twist in the middle. Third rod about 2 inches SHORTER with open eye with reverse curve at the end. In use as a tripod, the open eye is positioned with the opening facing down, the reverse curve functions as a hook,and the other two eyes ride to the top of the open one. You might want to consider making a trammel as a companion piece. Grant and Jock re Bement: when I took my Bement out of the place of purchase I had to UNMOUNT it. Two observations: the hammer was Lag bolted to two heavy wooden beams, the non-bolted anvil sat on timbers, but was grouted in with a very hard concrete.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Sunday, 05/17/98 03:03:48 GMT

grandpa, Except for the grout, youv'e described what all the books show for a Bement. OBTW - Postman's anvil book has a beautiful photo of an 800# Niles-Bement.

-- guru Sunday, 05/17/98 03:19:01 GMT

Interesting, grandpa! When I considered what to use around the anvil I thought concrete might pulverize. I do like bolting the frame to the timbers and bolting the timbers to the foundation rather than bolting the frame through to the foundation.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Sunday, 05/17/98 05:08:55 GMT

Strange we should be talking about hammer foundations. I have spent a few days breaking up the foundation in my shop where my 50Lb. Little Giant sat. The reason I'm breaking up the old foundation is I'm setting up a 100Lb. Bradley with a bolt on anvil. This raises the question, what to consider the Bradley. The anvil is flush mounted to the bottom frame. I know it's a two piece hammer but I'm approaching the foundation as a one piece. I myself like one piece hammers because the foundtions are simpler to design.

I can tell you that it's not easy removing an old foundation. I hired a Backhoe with a boom mounter breaker. It took over 5hrs. of pounding at $70.00 an hour and the parts of the foundation where still standing tough. I have another 8hrs. of back breaking hand work. The time invested does not include designing and making the new foundation, which I haven't even started yet. This brings up another topic about setting up a shop. No mather how well you think you have planned, things change. Some may think I'm crazy for breaking it up. I could have tried to make the old foundation work for my new hammer, but I would always be questioning myself if it was good enough. I can attest that the old foundation was plenty good enough. All question I had are laied to rest about the old foundation. My theory is, if big is good, bigger is better, until the plans change, if you have to do what I did and break up an old foundtion. This theory STINKS.

Bruce R. Wallace -- Walmetalwk at Sunday, 05/17/98 12:42:26 GMT


Ever considered C-4? Mighta been easier! At least you know you did the old foundation right!

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 05/17/98 14:10:32 GMT

ANVILS IN AMERICA: The first hands on book review is now posted!

-- guru Sunday, 05/17/98 14:34:52 GMT


I did ask the contractor that I hired if he had a license to blast. He said it "MIGHT" have been easier if I did. He also said he has never "TRIED" to break apart anything so tough.


Great page! I really enjoy the open discussions. It is much friendlier, with more freedom and less sterile than "other" places. THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP!!!! Maybe our latest project could be known as the "Junkyard Forging Press"?

Bruce R. wallace -- Walmetalwk at Sunday, 05/17/98 15:42:14 GMT

Grant: I'm sure the grout was not ordinary concrete. It had no large (3/4") agregate and it was extremely hard to breakup. As best as I could determine, the freme was lag bolted to large timbers, but the timbers were not fastened to anything!!

grandpa -- darylmeier at Sunday, 05/17/98 17:10:49 GMT

The bottom of the Niles-Bements actually have ribs that are designed to got in between those timbers. Drawings show them as part of the floor sometimes (easy on the feet, not very fire resistant).

HYDRAULICS: Bruce and I are designing and building a hydraulic upsetter for a job he is doing. I've got most of the variables worked out. (Will post parameters elsewhere as a work sheet).

Does anyone know what the general capacity of a power stearing pump is? Pressure at GPM?

I think Bruce has a small pump. I have a power stearing pump and would like to collect the parts for one. Its a little different than your hydraulic forging press. Built horizontal with clamping dies instead of a platen or "anvil". Still has to be fast enough to do the job while the iron is hot!

-- guru Sunday, 05/17/98 17:29:58 GMT


Actually, it's easier to "break" it up than to "blow" it up. A series of small holes drilled into the surface, and small charges. That'll break up most anything. Charges may be set to explode sequentionally, or simultaneously, depending on conditions and desired results.

I had one team captain that used to say "When it positively MUST be blown up immediately, call Sgt. Wilson!"

On the demo range at Ft. Bragg several years ago. Assigned to destroy a concrete bunker. Decided to do it with a series of charges. First charge lifted the bunker top, four simultaneous charges collapsed the walls. Then the top came back down. I figured the charges, didn't look big enough, increased them by 10%.

Ten minutes after the blast, a jeep from HQ, XVIII Abn Corp showed up.

Yes, the bunker was destroyed. No, no one was hurt. Yes, they HAD heard the blast. (almost 7 miles away!) Team Capt. was a LITTLE irritated with me. (grin)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 05/17/98 18:41:34 GMT

Hey Sarge, I've got a wonderful foundation I put in for a 250# Little Giant. Now I need to remove it for a bigger hammer with a sub floor anvil :)

-- guru Sunday, 05/17/98 18:50:10 GMT


How much of the shop do you want left?!? (grin)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 05/17/98 18:57:21 GMT

Maybe the lesson here is: When you put in a foundation for your first hammer, make it REAL BIG. Pour it maybe one foot below the floor level and bolt tinbers to it and then bolt your hammer to the timbers. YOU WILL WANT A BIGGER HAMMER LATER ON!! The first thing anyone says when they put in a hammer is: "I'll NEVER need a bigger hammer than this."
One foot below ground will allow even a 500lb. Nazel to be installed.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Monday, 05/18/98 02:54:23 GMT

Sarge Wilson, so you like blowing things up? You going to rig a nice anvil blow for Asheville this year? I've seen it done with black powder, but I don't think anyone has done it yet with C-4........

Doug Parrish -- parrishd at Monday, 05/18/98 03:26:37 GMT

I think the ABANA rules say anvilfiring is verboten! Insurance companies taken all the fun outa' life!

Then some places have a party and really launch em'! Dang the actuaries full anvils ahead!

-- guru Monday, 05/18/98 03:36:54 GMT

Lighten up Bruce! Different sites are not in competition. It's not like you have to choose. Anyone can visit any or ALL the sites without it taking away from anyone. Just like my reference library, I don't need to throw out my other books just because I have a current favorite! Nor does having a current favorite make my other books less valuble.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Monday, 05/18/98 05:09:11 GMT

Re: Anvil Firings. New Westminster, BC has an anvil firing once a year, during their Hyack festival. It was originaly done to salute Queen Victoria but the history escapes me as to why thy didn't do it with artillery at the time. However it's been done since the 1870's.....

Bob -- robert_miller at Monday, 05/18/98 05:36:53 GMT


I've always enjoyed making things go boom. One of my first dates with my wife was to blow stumps on a buddy't homestead. Later, after I met her folks, one of the first things her dad asked me to do was to extend the hard rock tunnel he had on his property. (They owned a hotel, the tunnel was a tourist attraction "gold mine") Not enough gold to be worth mining, but enough to sucker the tourists.

But as the guru has said, ABANA has outlawed blowing anvils for insurance reasons. A few years back there was an accident at one of the shoots. Anvil came down further away than they expected. No one was hurt (so far as I know) but was too close for comfort. The insurance company said "never again".

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 05/18/98 12:24:23 GMT

Hey guru,
Iwas at a hammerin a few weeks ago and I thought someone there said you could clean up old files by soaking them in vinegar. I was too smart to write it down though and now I can't remember exactly what the guy said. Is there any truth to this.
thanks, David

David White -- ednet.dwhite at Monday, 05/18/98 16:09:39 GMT

Hey guru,
Iwas at a hammerin a few weeks ago and I thought someone there said you could clean up old files by soaking them in vinegar. I was too smart to write it down though and now I can't remember exactly what the guy said. Is there any truth to this.
thanks, David

David White -- ednet.dwhite at Monday, 05/18/98 16:10:48 GMT


Vinegar is actually acetic acid, so soaking a file in it will help clean it up. Might even "sharpen" it a little bit. Battery acid (most of which is sulphuric acid) would do a quicker job, but would be more hazardous. Use baking soda mixed in water as a neutralizer after the acid bath.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 05/18/98 16:50:09 GMT

SHARPENING FILES: (David) Jim is right. Vinegar may help a little but is a very weak acid. I expect it would work better on fine files than on coarse ones. There is actually a commercial outfit that "resharpens" files by acidic process. (by the pound I think).

I "recondition" my files with a soft power wire brush. (.009" x 8" diameter SS wire at 1800 RPM). Works like a "file card" but gets out the gummy stuff and stuck bits of metal that invariably clog the teeth. Hold the file so that the wires are brushing the same direction as the last cut. When done I oil the file with WD-40. The power brushing seems to help put a little edge back on the teeth if the file isn't in really bad condition. Works on everything from 14" Rasps to 8" smooth cuts.

-- guru Monday, 05/18/98 17:32:13 GMT

FILES: I read some very good advice in a gunsmithing book once. Use new files for brass and soft materials only. After cutting steel never use a file on softer material. Soft materials need a sharper edge to cut well AND broken teeth and bits of steel in the file will leave a rough surface. When a file is too dull to cut soft material cleanly then graduate it up to steel.

Don't pound or hit a file into the work. I watched a guy filing the sawed edge off some heavy steel once and every stroke it was bam, bam, bam! Short driving strokes. Afterwards you could see the broken teeth on what had been a new file! Touch the file to the work and then gently push!

A "file card" is a wooden handled "brush". The teeth of the brush are part of a fibre "carding" belt with little wire hooks on the surface. The file card is used to clean debis out of the file and prolong its life.

-- guru Monday, 05/18/98 17:49:25 GMT

Hey Jock, I use,condition and preserve my files EXACTLY as you outline in your last couple of posts. Have dozens of them I use all the time and I've probably shifted more metal with files than a lot of machinists have with milling machines.
A lot of Bulls**t is talked about keeping files oilfree, using chalk to prevent "pinning" etc. I suspect someone read it in a book back in the 9th century and it has been blindly passed along from one generation to the next.
Files are a CUTTING TOOL just like a milling cutter (actually more like a face broach) To boot they are a straight carbon steel..not highspeed. The biggest enemy of a file is other files..keep 'em apart. Next comes rust..WD 40 preserves and lubricates. Third is heat..a slow controlled push is called for not a rapid "sawing action"
Try "filing wet" with WD 40 and brush regularly..before it needs it..with the bristle side of the file card. I keep a "depinner" in my file rack...a piece of 1" x 16 ga mild steel witha flat,square file end,mounted in a file handle. Rub this a few times on the "First cut" area below the tang..pushing in the direction of the teeth and you will establish little teeth on the tool that will clean a file in a hurry.
When putting a new file in service,do as Jock suggests; Polish it on a soft wire wheel and use on nonferous first. Once used on steel it will never cut brass again. Coincidentally, WD 40 makes a heck of a coolant for aluminum..better than most, supposed to be good for rumatiz and piles too ;^)

Robert Bastow -- tubal_cain at Monday, 05/18/98 22:54:46 GMT

WD-40(tm): Man! I gotta call these guys about an ad!

I use WD-40 as a cutting fluid on my (dry) cut-off saw and for light drilling. It gets a little expensive for HD production drilling so then I use a mixture of kerosene and 30W oil.

WD-40 is a great light duty preservitive. I use it on precision tools, drills , chucks, tools that stay stored in drawers and on wood working tools where you need something easy to wipe off before use. I spray it all over my wood and metal working machinery between uses.

Warning! DO NOT use Liquid Wrench (tm) as a preservitive. It is better at breaking things loose but almost ALL of it evaporates and what's left incourages rust! BIG MISTAKE! Much of WD-40 also evaporates but what is left behind is a film of thin oil. For long term HD rust prevention on machinery CRC makes a number of excelent products. Do not use detergent motor for this purpose as the detergent is designed to absorb moisture and rust will occur under the oil! Motor oil relys on the heat of the engine to drive off this absorbed moisture.

WD-40 can also be used as a solvent based hand cleaner in a pinch! It is much easier on the skin than paint thinner!

While we are on different uses for common products, GO-JO and other waterless hand cleaners are good for cleaning paint brushes. I prefer a brand called Lan-Lin as it contains lanolin. Keeps your hands AND your brushes soft!

I still use the talc/chalk trick on files when used on gummy substances such as some plastics and fresh body filler. Afterwards clean the file and reoil before putting it away!

-- guru Tuesday, 05/19/98 00:54:23 GMT

Body filler? BODY FILLER!!
Is that what you use on your welds Jock? 8^)

WD40 is remarkable stuff..only thing is...I'd be leery of using it as a hand cleaner. The stuff is a skin penetrant (wasn't kidding about the actually penetrates and lubricates joints) Problem is that it will carry any nasty stuff on your skin right into the blood stream...lead and other heavy metals, cyanide(heat treatment salts)insecticide etc.
Just a small point Jock, but we need you around.

Robert Bastow

Jubal sang of the golden years
When wars and wounds shall cease
But Tubal fashioned the hand flung spears
And showed his neighbour's peace..

Rudyard Kipling...Jubal and Tubal Cain

speak softly and carry a big stick

Teddy Roosevelt

Robert Bastow -- tubal_cain at Tuesday, 05/19/98 02:28:55 GMT


Another thing that you should NEVER use WD 40 for is cleaning weapons.
It does a great job, but there is no way to ever get it all off of the weapon. The little bit that remains behind will migrate into the primers of any rounds left in the weapon, and cause hangfires, and mis-fires. But bulletin about it in the IACP magazine not long after it came on the market.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 05/19/98 04:23:24 GMT

Pawpaw, you are one romantic dude. I'm going to have to show my wife your post about blowing stumps as a date. You had me rollling. Hadn't heard the one about primers being affected by WD40, thanks. One of my college buds just finished Ft Bragg last year. He's a nut. Did the 82nd Airborne for 4 years, got his commission, did 4 years as a tanker, and now is doing the hu-a hu-a Green Beret thing. Way too much like working for a living. I'l have to invite you up here to help me and a neighbor clean off a ridge. He can't decide if he wants to use a big dozer or just blow all those granite boulders and stumps out and use a smaller dozer. Got any semtex handy? Thanks for sharing your gouge, Jim and Jock, I'd hate to have any legal beagles and accountants hunting for my hide.
Today was an expensive day, just picked up a banjo. I'll be able to play some mountain music if I ever back get to Blackistone's edge of the world. Any of ya'll play? What all do you make and play, Guru of the East?

Doug Parrish -- Parrishd at Tuesday, 05/19/98 05:09:08 GMT

I use body filler on all kinds of things but NEVER my welds. No matter how bad they are! We did use it once on someone elses welds. Structurally OK due to huge overdesign but looked like s***. Besides body work I've used it to repair Victorian era door frames where some idiot had inlet a huge surface mount deadbolt. My Dad used it to repair a fuel tank on his station wagon. Lasted for years! I learned to use the stuff when I was 11 years old and building Soap Box Racers. It is also great stuff for pattern making (when you screw up).

In the shop you get your hands in all kinds of nastys. WD-40 being one of the more benine. The hardner in bondo has methel-ethel-ketone peroxide as the active ingrediant. I remember THAT from my Soap Box Racer days too!

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS: I've built a guitar. My son was making expensive balsa wood toy guitars and I said, "For the cost of that wood you could build a REAL guitar".
Patrick responded, "Who would teach me?"
I open my big mouth and said, "I can." And I did. We built two to an original design of Patrick's AND all the jigs and fixtures.

I've also researched and built the Ancient Greek Kithara. Its a sophisticated 7 to 11 string lyre type instrument. There are tons of images of them from Greek pottery but very little is known about them and most of what has been written by historians who were NOT instrument builders is BUNK! What's intresting is that the Greeks understood musical theory related to strings better than ANYONE but insisted on building an unfretted equal length stringed instrument! Harps were too Egytpian! The need for different weight strings on the Kithara made it that much more mathematicaly difficult to build and I think therein lies the thing that attracted the Greeks to it. The Kithara dissapeared mainly as a result of the purge of everything non-Christian in parts of the Medaterianian.

King David's "harp" was actually a "kinor" or "box lyre" a precursor to the Kithara. When the Greeks translated the old testament their Egyptian helpers said it was like a Kithara. It was the later Europeans that didn't know what it was and changed it to "Harp".

Did you know that the musical instrument of the Centuar was the Kithara?

So much for music history 501 and the subject of another book.

-- guru Tuesday, 05/19/98 13:40:15 GMT

Test, and we take requested at this hour too. I KNOW, what the heck is he talking about and does it have the faintest thing to do with blacksmithing? It all has to do with tool making from the flint scraper to computer software they are all tools.

-- guru Wednesday, 05/20/98 16:06:35 GMT

Hey guru,
does the color at which the critical temperature in steel occurs remain constant or does it vary with carbon content and other alloys.

dave -- ednet.dwhite at Wednesday, 05/20/98 20:13:44 GMT

The visible color for a given temperature stays the same, but that is always relative to the ambient lighting. The upper transformation range starts at 1700 degrees F and drops off the 1300 degrees at 0.8 percent carbon and then spikes up to 1600 degrees F for 0.9% carbon steels. The maximum forging temperature follows roughly the same line starting 2400 degrees for the lowest carbon steels and tapering off to 2250 with no spike. - Tempil Basic Guide to Ferrous Metalurgy, wall chart

-- guru Wednesday, 05/20/98 20:31:48 GMT

The above is a generalization for all carbon bearing steels. Some specialty alloys require special handling for other reasons and the manufacturer's recomendations should be followed.

-- guru Wednesday, 05/20/98 20:35:15 GMT

Hey guru,
So, if I understand this correctly is it reasonable to assume that the only way to accurately find the critical(non-magnetic) point in unknown pieces of steel w/o a pyrometer(I hope thats right) is to use a magnet and continually check. Would that be an accurate statement?

dave -- ednet.dwhite at Wednesday, 05/20/98 20:42:08 GMT

Basicaly yes. Once you have learned to judge temperature by color in a consistant environment you may achieve a degree of reliability. However, change the envionment (lighting) and everything changes. I used to work outdoors a lot. In direct sunlight a piece of metal that looked to be a cold grey would be a good dull red in the shade of my hooded forge. In a dim shop with your eyes adjusted this dull red would appear to be a decent red heat.

-- guru Wednesday, 05/20/98 21:19:46 GMT

This was just posted on the Virtual Junkyard

Many thanks to so many of you who have expressed your concerns about my father, William Pieh. He indeed had a mild heart attack on Monday, but is doing very very well right now. He will most likely be released from the hospital on Friday May 22. Thanks again

Karen Pieh Urness

For those of you that may not know. Bill is the founder and owner of Centaur Forge, the biggest supplier of blacksmithing tools and equipment in the U.S (maybe the world). Without Bill, the world of blacksmithing as we know it would be a different place.

All our best hopes and wishes, Bill!

-- guru Wednesday, 05/20/98 21:30:29 GMT

The world is a better place BECAUSE of Bill.

Karen (his daughter) says he may be released from the hospital Friday, May 22. We can all hope so.

Fight on, Bill!

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 05/21/98 04:04:51 GMT

Here is a different question...
Who is the patron saint of blacksmiths?
Vulcan for the romans. Does anybody have a list of gods of smithing?

Nicholas Marcelja -- marcelja at Thursday, 05/21/98 19:27:56 GMT

To answer my own question
Blacksmith -> Dunstan
Goldsmith -> Dunstan or Anastasius
Silversmith -> Andronicus
Swordsmith -> Maurice

Nicholas Marcelja -- marcelja at Thursday, 05/21/98 19:41:31 GMT

dear guru,
i have been fasinated by blacksmithing. especially that pertaining to midevil forgery. could you give me some references in how to get started learning to forge? wierd teenager? i think not! thanks!!!

nathan simmons -- nts1701d at Friday, 05/22/98 00:25:01 GMT


Other than the style of work, blacksmithing has been esentialy the same since the beginning of the iron age some 3000 years ago. Any good book on the subject will get you started in the right direction. One of the best is the NEW Edge of the Anvil by Jack Andrews. There is a review of this and several other books in the Book Shelf section of this page.

If you are serious about blacksmithing I have a recomended course of study in 21st Century Blacksmithing. Its not the route for everyone but it may give you an idea of how to get started. (NOTE: One of the books I mention there is no longer in print. Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork. You may find a copy in your library. It is very good and worth searching for.)

Then, there are also the links to other web pages. Try Viking Sword. Then try the ABANA web site. They have a list of schools for blacksmithing and some of those also have web sites.

There is also a lot of (slightly disorganized) information about a lot of blacksmithing subjects throughout this page AND we are adding to it every day. I am currently involved in the JYH project (See the anvilfire NEWS). When I am finished with that I will be posting all kinds of plans for tools and equipment that you can make for your self.

If you need more help feel free to ask. That's what I'm here for!

-- guru Friday, 05/22/98 01:16:15 GMT

Hi Everone:
What kind of steel is used in the forks of fork lifts?

Glenn -- ridgart at Friday, 05/22/98 12:15:52 GMT

Hey guru,
I just read about packing in refererence to chisels and other cutting tools in The Art OF Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer. Have you heard of this? Can you explain it to me? Specifically how it is accomplished and why. What happens if this is not done? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks,


David -- ednet.dwhite at Friday, 05/22/98 14:37:00 GMT

When I buy (as opposed to swap, inherit, scrounge or loot) expendables such as drill bits, hacksaw blades and files, I tend to purchase them by the pair. That way, when the twist drill untwists, or the 18 tpi blade starts dropping teeth on slaggy antique wrought iron (same batch as the Titanic's rivets, I'm sure) I break out the new one, throw the packaging in the passenger seat of the truck, and pick up a backup when next I slide by the hardware store.

With files, I keep two small cans of enamel handy, one yellow and the other blue, and I dip the tangs of the two identical files, one for each color and let them dry. My children and friends have been informed: "Yellow is for brass and bronze, blue is for iron." When the brass files lose their bite, I purchase a replacement and dip the tang of the old one in the blue paint. The more worn blue tanged files are leant to fresh fish so that they may learn the virtues of patience and persistance!

Back from Tucson, this week, bound for Santa Fe next week. For some reason my wife wants me to work around the house, rather than the forge? No understanding a woman's priorities!

Visit your National Parks ('cause I run my tail off keeping them going!)

Go viking (so I won't have to row my tail off too!)

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Friday, 05/22/98 14:50:38 GMT

I didn't know so I had to ask. I was quickly warned DO NOT WELD on forks! Any kind of repair, welding, straightening, voids ALL warranties and puts ALL liability for future damages on YOU!

OK, My local Komatsu dealer called his fork supplier and they said,"MN-MOD30 Alloy". ??? So now I'll look THAT up in Woldman's. . . . .
MNMO 38???? Closest but not IT. Probably a supplier number it's not in the UNS or AISC lists either. . . More phone calls. . .

IF anyone else knows, please chime in!

-- guru Friday, 05/22/98 14:56:27 GMT

PACKING CHISLES: (Dave) In certain areas there is a lot of debate of the advantages of forging vs. non-forging or stock removal in making edged tools. When steel is heated for forging the crystal structure tends to grow which weakens the steel. Proper conditioning of the steel by forging at the correct temperatures can help rectify the problem.

Many knife makers avoid forging altogether, assuming that the as rolled condition of the bar is better than what they may produce. Some engineering specs prohibit welding, severe bending or any heating that might modify the condition of product from the mill.

Please note: Bealer's book is one of the all time classics and a very good book. However, he reported what blacksmiths he could find TOLD HIM. On more than one occasion the smith darn near pulled Bealer's leg clean off and Bealer reported it as fact (see art. on making a rose).

-- guru Friday, 05/22/98 15:21:05 GMT

Local outfit makes after market forks also forks for some manufacturers. They have a crew of 20-30 people just making forks for fork lifts, so I'd bet a lot of forks out ther are made by them. Too late to make a long story short, but anyway they made all of them from A.I.S.I. 8620 and water quenched them. I know this for certain because I used to make material handling tongs for them and the supplied the steel (rems). This steel is usually used in case hardening.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 05/23/98 00:30:26 GMT

Friend of mine used to work at a forklift manufactuer in northern cal. He would bring me rems. from the forks. Told me it was 4140.

Smokey -- smokey at Saturday, 05/23/98 02:41:39 GMT

Dear Guru

Rick from Fantasy Ford suggested I contact you. I am a "30-something adult without a clue".

I am searching for a company that will custom make a full-scale cannon (civil war era) as a decoration for a new restaurant I am building. Or, I would be happy just purchasing one if you have any suggestions where I could find such a thing. I would appreciate any assistance you could provide me.


Kris Brittain

Kris Brittain -- brittain at Monday, 05/25/98 16:15:18 GMT


I'm more or less without a clue on this one myself. Good used cannon come on the market occasionaly. The people to contact would be the Civil War reinactors. They may know someone. . . Posting your message anywhere and everywhere is a start.

Making a replica is do-able. However, the carriage work is hard to fake and will have to be built by a wheelwright. The cannon itself could be made of wood and fibreglass then painted. The rest of the hardware will also need to be fairly authentic.

Try this fellow for starters:

Ernie Leimkuhler

He makes anvils and builds stage props for Hollywood. He may know just the place to go or arrange to have it done

You will want to either provide or have produced, a scale drawing and specification before you start. Cival War cannon varied in size from little guns with 24" barrels to rail car mounted behemoths. That way both you AND who ever you contract will know exactly what to expect. I am not into this type of hardware but I do know there are books on the subject with clear details so you shouldn't need to start from scratch.

Let me know if you want me to look into this further.

-- guru Monday, 05/25/98 18:12:08 GMT

Re Cannon

While I haven't seen a cataloge of theirs in a while you may want to try Dixie Gun Works as they are big into reprductions firearms...sorry no address/phone # handy.

Bob -- robert_miller at Monday, 05/25/98 18:42:38 GMT

Surprise Bob! They are on-line now! Glad you reminded me. I couldn't find my old catalog but this is almost as good!

Dixie Gun Works Antique Arms Catalog Dixie Gun Works Antique Arms Catalog Catalog #49 now on-line - 12/20/97 The Dixie Gun Works Antique Arms Catalog contains over 150 pages.

I said "almost as good" because the Dixie Gun Works Catalog is not just a catalog but a great metal working reference!

-- guru Monday, 05/25/98 22:22:22 GMT

OK Guru, I need a history lesson.

Looking for the earliest examples of a stump vise, bellows, oxy/acet welding system, Post drill.

Collecting data for a couple of presentations. Somewhere I've seen a picture of a leg vise from the 16th Century. Italian, I think. Like to find that picture again, as well as pictures of the above "earlies".

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 05/25/98 23:55:48 GMT

The history of technology has been a passion of mine. However I've spent little time on serious research. It is painfully poorly documented and some of the simplest things to date are missrepresented in every reference (US patent dates given as date of invention when something was pattented earlier in Europe, people who popularized an invention being given credit when NOT the inventor. . . )

A fancy Italian "armorors" vise has been shown in a number of publications including the Anvils Ring I think (17th Century). It belongs to the Metropolitian Museum of Art. I have a small picture of it in a book called "Made of Iron", a museum show catalog published by University of St.Thomas Art Department, Houston, TX, USA.

I suspect leg vises date from around 13-1400 but I have no evidence.

Both oxy-actelyene and the cast iron hand crank post drill date from the last century. Post drills probably were manufactured from the 1860's up. Prior to that the beam drill was used. Buffalo Forge started making hand crank blowers in 1879 and crank operated drills in 1890 Blacksmiths and Farriers tools in the Shelburne Museum

I'd have to do some research on dating oxy-actelyene equipment, but I'd say turn of the century (guessing). However, it was not offered in the 1915 Sears Blacksmith's Catalog.

Arc Welding was invented in 1888!

-- guru Tuesday, 05/26/98 01:32:08 GMT


Any chance you can scan that picture of the vise, and send it to me?
I'd sure appreciate it. One of the presentations is at Historic Bethabara. They time frame around 1750, so I need to document as much as I can as early as I can.

Also, I'd sure like to have some solid info on the 1888 date! I could use that data up in TN.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 05/26/98 02:46:30 GMT

Dating the invention or first manufacture of tools verses when they became popular is difficult. Western history tells us Gutenberg invented movable type but it was actually invented and used to print government documents in Korea some 200 years earlier! Just enough time of the invention to travel by word of mouth in those times. Of course history is full of inventors comming up with the same invention at the same time in completely different locations. Any time more than one person is working on the same problem there is a good chance that they will arrive at the same answer.

In North America during the Early 1800's we were technologicaly way behind Britian and Europe. In 1800 Alexander Nasmyth (artist and father of James Nasmyth) had a foot treadle metal turning lathe that was no different than those sold in the US 100 years later! There is a high probability that a hand crank drill may have been available there as well.

In 1770 A Catalogue of tool for the Watch and Clock Makers, by John Wyke of Liverpool describes a wide variety of gear cutting and threading "engines". The gear cutting equipment was technology of the times reflecting some understanding of the newly advanced theory of involute gears. The rest of the tools have a century or more of tradition behind them. The most amazing tools are the pliers and wire cutters that are absolutely identical to todays in every detail. As a collection, these tools represent the most advanced of the time yet reflect the tradition of hundreds of years of development and invention that is mostly undocumented. - Published for the Henry Franicis du Pont Winterthur Museum (VA), by the University Press of Virginia Charlottesville.

ARC WELDING: American Machinist October 1988, 100 years ago in American Machinist (Oct 27, 1888), "The smith is the highest type of handicraftsman;. . . Since the first of the year there has been a commercial applidcaation of electric welding the invention of by Prof. Eihu Thomson, which has already reached a degree of importance sufficient to render it a live issue in every branch of manufacture to which it is applicable. . ."

Jim, on that vise, I'll send the picture, but something more standard say from Diderots would be more appropriate. Most post vises made up into the early part of this century are identical to those standard vises. I've got a great photo of the one on my trailer. . . (In the AM!)

-- guru Tuesday, 05/26/98 03:29:39 GMT


Another page to print out!

I need a picture of a vise OTHER than the one on the trailer. With a date that pre-dates 1750. To justify the use of the vise. See the reasoning?

Later, I'm going to bed too! (grin)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 05/26/98 03:40:52 GMT

I need to find instructions for lining the inside of a light forge I recently got with clay... cast into the metal are the words "clay before firing". I went to a ceramicist's supply and picked up some refractory clay. it's a powder. all of the instructions for mixing the stuff that I could find talked about other ingredients to be mixed in with it. some of them seemed to be pretty arcane, and the proportions varied quite a bit from formula to formula.
does anyone use this type of forge anymore?

bridger -- bridger at Wednesday, 05/27/98 01:00:08 GMT


I use a cast iron forge with the same statement cast into the bottom.
I use it almost daily, missing a day occasionally. I line it with a boiler cement that I buy locally. It comes already mixed, so all I have to do is trowell it into place and smooth it out.

On the other hand, several of the guys will tell you that you really don't NEED to line it. They say that a layer of sand, or even ash will do quite well. I've never had nerve enough to do it that way, but several guys that I respect have told me the same thing.


Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 05/27/98 01:27:59 GMT

My home-created forge has no liner but the bottom is half inch plate. My latest silly question: what benefit is the liner? Thanks from Gravenhurst.

Mark H. -- marlin at Wednesday, 05/27/98 02:15:23 GMT


That's not a silly question, it's a good one.

First of all, the liner will protect the bottom of the forge from the heat of the fire. Which ususally isn't that much of a problem.

Secondly, coal ash, clinkers etc, are hydroscopic. ie they absorb moisture out of the air. They'll rust the bottom out of a forge in a heartbeat. A liner protects the bottom from this. The best answer to this problem (if your forge is out side) is to clean your forge carefully each time it is used.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 05/27/98 10:58:20 GMT

Lining Forges with clay:

There are arguments for and against. I have seen cast iron forges with the bottom burned out. But this takes a tremoudous fire! The kind of fire neccessary to heat an anvil or some heavy object. In railroad shops they forge welded hugh pieces of steel using relatively small forges. For this type of work a clay lining would be benificial.

My personal experiance is that even when doing fairly heavy architectural work (heating 1-1/2" square) that a lining is NOT neccessary. For the type of small work small work most of us do a lining is overkill. The only time a fire could get big enough to dammage the forge is if a huge mound of coal is shoveled on the fire, the blower turned up and you walk away!

Jim brings up another problem (corrosion) but I differ with his opinion that a lining might help. In a forge stored out doors or in a damp environment a clay lining is only going to mask the problem, thereby possibly contributing to the distruction of the forge.
Coal ash is highly corrosive and combined with a little moisture will disolve a forge in no time (Jim knows I speak from experiance here!).

A BIGGER PROBLEM: More cast iron forges and fire pots are wrecked by quenching with water! Sprinkle your fire with water to control it but DO NOT QUENCH THE FIRE! Cast iron is very brittle and cannot withstand being quenched with water when hot.

What type clay and what to mix it with:

Refractory clay is not required. The purpose of the clay is to insulate the cast iron from an open fire above the forge. The temperatures here are nothing like what you see in a gas forge, furnace or foundry operation. Any good clean clay suitable for ceramics will do (red or white). It should have some fine saw dust or "wood flour" mixed with it (Maybe 15-20% by volume). This makes the clay porous and less likly to crack from the release of steam when heated. It also increases the insulating value. Another 5-10% can be portland cement. If you use cement the mixture will need to be used immediately (as soon as mixed).

Start with a CLEAN forge (I'd prime with cold galvanizing zinc paint). The first layer should be straight clay cement mix and applied like a thin primer coat. This should be allowed to dry completely. Any of this that does not stick should be scraped off and a new coat applied. The second layer should be 3/8" (1cm) to 1/2" (1.3cm) thick. After this dries you can apply a third layer if you expect to be doing really huge work.

NOTE: Light portable forges with sheet metal bottoms are not lined for three reasons. 1) Weight. 2) The forge is too flexable and the clay will not stay put. 3) They are designed for light work and do not expect to be overheated. - Throw in a layer of dirt, ashes or sand for a lining if you must. - Sand is not highly recomended as it contaminates the coal and increases the rate of clinker formation and may make forge welding difficult or impossible.

-- guru Wednesday, 05/27/98 13:03:11 GMT

Great answers!!! I have a much clearer picture now. My forge is outside most of the time, and I have been cleaning is out after each use since Jock made me aware of the corrosion porblem a couple of months back. Thanks again...mark.

Mark H. -- marlin at Wednesday, 05/27/98 17:43:24 GMT


Well, I can see a lining as both a help, and as a problem.

Keeping the coal ash somewhat isolated from the cast iron might slow the process of corrosion. OTOH, the lining might also trap moisture.
Kind of a toss up, I guess.

But, the ash plate in the center of my small forge is made from 1/4" mild steel. (I had to replace it, the original was rusted out.) When I pulled the forge apart a couple weeks ago to clean it up and reline it before a demo, I had to use a sledge to flatten the ash plate out again. I get the fire hot enough sometimes that the plate was domed almost 1/2".

So the lining does have some value.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 05/27/98 20:02:35 GMT

My plan for my outdoor forge that I've had so much trouble with, was to spend the bucks on some plasma cut stainless, stainless pipe and fittings and avoid the problem altogether. . .

-- guru Wednesday, 05/27/98 21:16:20 GMT

Why plasma cut, oh venerable guru?

What's wrong with cutting it with a saw? (grin)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 05/27/98 23:29:36 GMT

The last forge I saw that a guy had built of stainless steel warped so bad it was nearly useless! It's low conductivity and high thermal expansion can cause big problems when heated non-uniformly. Seems like one of the refractory alloy might be the best choise for a high tech coal forge.

Haven't heard anything about your Junkyard Hammer lately. How about an update?

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Thursday, 05/28/98 04:54:38 GMT

I was going to make the fire pot out of 3/8 SS and line the pan with something thinner (bolted). Yep, you gotta be real careful when you design with stainless.

JYH Hammer on a JIT schedule for a Saturday demo/training session. All I have to do is put in two more 16+hr days. It would be finished but I insisted on bolting a lot of it together instead of going the fast easy JUST WELD INTO ONE HEAP route. Drilled and tapped a couple dozen 1/2-13 x 1-1/2 holes and I've got 12+ 17/32 holes to drill and a couple more 1/2" hole to tap. Will be mostly together this afternoon.
It may be built from junk but it's put together like real machinery!
If it works half as hard as I have it will be a great machine!

-- guru Thursday, 05/28/98 13:29:00 GMT

What is the best method for attaching a screen to a "fire place screen"? Build a seprate frame? Attach to rear of the work itself?

Bryan Scott Absher -- babsher at Friday, 05/29/98 10:38:10 GMT

What is the best method for attaching a screen to a "fire place screen"? Build a seprate frame? Attach to rear of the work itself?

Bryan Scott Absher -- babsher at Friday, 05/29/98 10:38:42 GMT


A lot would depend on how the screen is made, but in general, I'd say attach it to the back of the work itself.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 05/29/98 10:55:12 GMT

The few fireplace screens I've made used 5/16" expanded metal for the screen which was rivited on with small rivits. There was a raised inner edge that fit into the firplace to make a "seal" forming a "T" section of the frame. This also provided a place for the screen to stop and protected the edges.

If you are using a woven screen that might fray it would be best to make a crimped sheet metal edge about 1/2" (13 mm) wide and rivit to that.

NOTE: All the fireplaces I've measured to fit screens, doors, and hoods, were out of square AND had unequal sides even though they were made of brick. Use a framing square and take careful measurments if the fit is critical. Check the hearth in front for squareness to the fireplace front also.

-- guru Friday, 05/29/98 11:36:24 GMT

Brian, get a copy of the Blacksmiths Cookbook by Francis Whittaker , there is a section in there about how to-- using woven wire and even a pair of tongs to stretch the wire while riveting.Use a two piece frame--and sandwich the wire inbetween and rivet. The book is available from Norm Larson Books. Dont have his address here at home but Jock knows what it is. Smokey

Smokey -- smokey at Saturday, 05/30/98 02:23:19 GMT

Norman A. Larson
Norm Larson Books
5426 E. Hwy 246
Lompoc, CA 93436
larbooks at

Tell Norm I said hi!

-- guru Saturday, 05/30/98 03:15:51 GMT

On attaching firescreen to a frame: A method I finally settled on is to use screws usually 10/24 but 8/32 would also work. Often I will use the mig to fill the slot of a round head machine screws and then go back over it with a rivet set to clean it up. Drill a pattern of holes in the wrought frame, the one the customer sees, usually on centerline. Then bend a piece of 1/8x1/2 so that its centerline matches the holes, I often piece this together using small pieces formed to fit the curves welded to straight for the long runs. Lay the screen over the back of the forged frame, which is cut big enough to be 3 or 4 inches bigger than the frame. Using an awl, I spread a hole in the mesh of the screen for each hole in my frame on one side of the fire screen. Put a machine screw in each hole, put the backing frame (1/8x1/2) over the screws, and nut them down just snug not tight. Pull firmly on the screen from the opposite side, to get the screen flat but not stretched out of square. Use the awl to make holes on that side. I take care that as I stretch the screen the mesh remains square to the frame. When I am happy with the appearance of the screen in the frame I tighten the nuts all around using ther same logic you would to tighten a head in a motor block. Then I use a cutoff wheel on a small grinder and trim the screen to the outside of the small frame taking care to get all the lose wires. Nest I cut and sand all the screw shanks that protrude beyond the nut on the backside. This method allows the screen to be replaced without having to drill out rivets.

Toby Hickman -- waylan at Saturday, 05/30/98 17:59:25 GMT

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