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 June 1, 1998 to June 30, 1998 on the Guru's Den

Guru, don't know how you have time for all the info and JYH and make a liv'n but thanks a bunch for all the info on my propane forge ect. hope to seeya in Ashville unless work rears it's ugly but nessary head.

Ron Hardy -- rhemail at Monday, 06/01/98 22:51:19 GMT


Thanks! Glad to be of help. At this time anvilfire IS my full time job (not much of a living, yet)! Yep, only 15 days to Asheville (or 16) depending on when you need to be there!

-- guru Monday, 06/01/98 23:30:44 GMT

I'm interested in building a knife grinder(contact wheel.flat platten ect.) I've seen em in the catalogs but have never seen plans for them anywhere. I hate to reinvent the wheel if there's a set of plans available to start with. Any suggestions? There was a company some time ago selling plans "Metagrinder" but I got back the inquiry
Address not forwardable. Anyone know where they've gone to.
Thanks , To darn hot in Texas to forge

Ron Hardy -- rhemail at Tuesday, 06/02/98 00:02:49 GMT

Grinder: (Ron)

I looked in all the catagories in METAL WEB NEWS and didn't find anything. Also lloked in two books on knifemaking without luck. I've used a couple of these grinders and even the comercial ones looked easy enough to build. The trick is to build in some kind of tracking adjustment (wheel tilt) so the belt stays centered.

-- guru Tuesday, 06/02/98 13:11:11 GMT


Ron, I'm in the process of grinding out a paring knife that I'm making for the wife. It's made out of a Timkin Bearing race. Know what I'm using for a grinder?

My 6" disk, 4" belt, wood sander. I put an aluminum oxide belt on
it, made a stop to mount to one of the existing bolts, and merrily grind away. The steel plate is flat, can be set up to run either horizontally, or vertically. More jigs to hold things in exact postitions would be simple to fabricate. The sander came from Harbor Freight Salvage, 15 years ago. Their current catalog shows one for $95.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 06/02/98 14:08:14 GMT

Oh wise one,I cant remember how to tighten up what we used to call a box or square braid.The kind where four strands are overlapped.Mine are way too loose.Its only been ten years.Go figure.Any suggestions? thanks jesse h.

Jesse hemphill -- jhemphill at Wednesday, 06/03/98 03:10:08 GMT

Hi, i'm still new to blacksmithing, have been subscribed to the forge for a few months. I've only been working with mild steel which cuts real easy. would like to try a bowie knife. Have a leaf spring(5160?).
took it to yellow and tried to slit lengthwise on hot cut hardy(too wide) and didn't get very far. trying to anneal tonight. took to yellow and buried in lime. any suggestion on how to split a leaf spring?
Thanx, Hank

hank wong -- hwong at Wednesday, 06/03/98 04:09:57 GMT

Hank: What cutting tools do you have available to use?

grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 06/03/98 05:07:16 GMT


I never liked the look of the square braid so I never had much practice with it. There are two types. The true braid and the twisted or trick braid. They each require different approaches.

Ture braid: The only way I know to do this one satisfactorily is with a torch. Each bend is heated and the bar kept under tension so that only the required section bends. Each layer of bends should be tight to the point they squeek as they cool. When finished the loose end must be tightly prepared for the forge weld else that will loosen the end.

Trick Braid: This is made by twisting two welded pairs, welding them together and untwisting. The initial twists must be tight and even with aproximately a 45° angle to the twist. After welding the ends the bundle is reheated for untwisting. This requires a very even heat and it helps to pull on the bundle as you "untwist" which is really a reverse twist to the two pairs.

-- guru Wednesday, 06/03/98 12:58:50 GMT

Cutting spring steel: (Hank)

grandpa has a legitimate question. I think we have all been the route of trying to split a piece lengthwise or cut a small piece of plate on a hardy. Forget it! This is (was) a two or three man job using a hot cutter from the top so the cut could be seen. Its time to look at some other tools.

Annealed, the blank could be cut on a band saw if not over 1/4" thick.
This is slow but you can profile the blade somewhat.

In the raw or "as found" state this steel can be cut with a friction cut-off wheel on a "chop saw" OR cut with a torch. If cut with a torch the burnt and heat affected area should be ground off (requiring another tool).

When I asked a friend about it he said, "get a bigger (power) hammer". He forges Bowies from 3" x 1/2" truck springs. All it takes is two to three heats under his Nazel 2B air hammer!

Your BEST option if working by hand is to find something closer to the needed stock size. I've made chisles and knives from MG and Austin-Heally springs (1/4" x 1-1/2"). Round (coil spring) stock is easier to make flat than to split a big piece of flat by a factor or ten to one. You don't need to use coil springs to get round stock, sway bars are also made of spring steel and generally have some nice straight sections.

-- guru Wednesday, 06/03/98 15:50:56 GMT

Thanx, at least now I don't feel like a wimp for not cutting it easily. I'll try to find a piece closer to size. My only cutting tools are a hotcut hardy and hammer, a hacksaw(hand) and just bought a used circular saw and an odd looking metal cutting blade.I think my leaf came off a truck. thanx for the help and suggestions.Hank

hank wong -- hwong at Wednesday, 06/03/98 20:09:17 GMT

In response to requests from my pards in reenacting, I have recently begun examining the art of 18th and 19th century button making. HELP -- I need molds, heat and forge requirements, tools, etc. I know a fellow here in our hometown went from blacksmithing to 'whitesmithing' brass and pewter circa 1840, and this will also help with our school programs. Your assistance gratefully requested, oh great guru dude.
-- Also -- any idea how we could build an authentic portable forge, circa 1860?
your obedient servant
Jefferson Weaver

Jefferson Weaver -- wrrzradio at Thursday, 06/04/98 00:15:02 GMT

Portable forge c. 1860. Probabably not much different than 1760. I know blowers came in after the American Civil War but I'm not sure about during. You probably have better sources of information than I do on this subject. However, for a portable forge that probably dates from Hannible and might have been used as late as 1860 see my article A Blacksmith of 1776 on the 21st Century page.

Making buttons is out of my area of expertise. I suspect you are looking at a small scale investment casting process. Try ArtMetal Village from our main page OR the links page. Many of the folks there are artists and jewlers and know a LOT about what you are asking. They have a Thursday night chat that is open to the public. Try it. Some nights they have a scheduled speaker and subject but sometimes they do not.

If you know the processes I can probably help you with equipment or the technical problems. I suspect you need to know if all buttons of the period were solid are if they were hollow two piece pressed metal things like they make today. As far a molds or patterns I suspect you are going to need to make your own originals OR make castings of period samples and reproduce them. In either case this is a subject for a shelf of books. Try ANY of the C.W. Ammen books on metal casting and pattern making for starters. Norm Larson (address above a post or three) can help you with these and other books on the subject. He should have his new catalog out soon but it wouldn't hurt to give him a call and see what he recomends.

-- guru Thursday, 06/04/98 03:32:28 GMT

Hank! That metal cutting blade. If it came with your curcular saw it is probably a carbide tipped wood cutting blade. At the speed the saw turns it might cut aluminium but will burn up on anything ferrous. They make abrasive cutoff wheels for circular saws but they do terrible things to the saw. A saw that will hold up against years of sawdust goes all to pieces with grinding grit (I've been there, done that, big mistake).

Hot cutting with a hardy works great for small stock and is not too bad splitting low carbon steel if you are not doing too much of it. Drawing that bar out with a fuller would be easier than splitting it. Bottom fullers look like a real dull hardy (3/8" to 5/8" radius) and make drawing out much more efficient. They are much more rounded than the pien on your straight pien hammer which is OK for small work but chops things up pretty badly on heavier work.

-- guru Thursday, 06/04/98 03:45:26 GMT

Hello, I've been a welder for about 30 years and I now would like to try some blacksmithing, I did a little back in High school. I'm just about finished building a propane fired forge, and now I'm thinking of building a drop hammer. Do you know where I might get some plans?
I'm not sure what weight would be good for me. Thank you, Ron

Ron Richardson -- rric101244 at Friday, 06/05/98 13:26:59 GMT

Hello, I've been a welder for about 30 years and I now would like to try some blacksmithing, I did a little back in High school. I'm just about finished building a propane fired forge, and now I'm thinking of building a drop hammer. Do you know where I might get some plans?
I'm not sure what weight would be good for me. Thank you, Ron

Ron Richardson -- rric101244 at Friday, 06/05/98 14:28:24 GMT


THAT little question is what sparked the Junk Yard Hammer (JYH) and the pursuant competition (See the anvilfire NEWS). ABANA has the Ron Kinyon air hammer plans but I've heard both good AND bad things about the machine (AND haven't seen the plans myself).

When I get back from the ABANA conference, the plan is to write a guide to building a JYH including plans for a less junk yardy version using less junk and more "new" materials (Which could still be scrounged). Guide should be available in August.

The East Coast JYH looks pretty much like the drawing with a few minor changes. It works fairly well but needs more testing "under fire". It is an intresting design but takes up a lot of space. The West Coast design is more compact but has its own problems too.

A good place to get started is to look for a good heavy chunk of steel to make the anvil with. A 32" long piece of 8" shafting or some real heavy plate. You need anywhere from 300 pounds to 1000+ pounds in a compact mass.

Being a welder is a good place to start! Welcome to Blacksmithing!

-- guru Friday, 06/05/98 14:35:19 GMT

MY appologies to ALL for not archiving this long session. The JYH project and preparations for the ABANA conference have stretched me to the limit. Will get done soon as well as other additions to anvilfire!

-- guru Friday, 06/05/98 14:41:35 GMT

Somebody, I can't remember who or where, was asking about plans for a Civil War Cannon. On page 173 of the 97 - 98 Centaur Forge Catalog, there is a listing as follows:


Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 06/05/98 14:44:21 GMT

Oh, and just what problems do you feel the Original Junkyard Hammer suffers from? I mean other than it only took one weekend to build and required NO machining?

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 06/06/98 04:27:15 GMT

Wood beam, Welded dies, light anvil, unknown durability. Replace the wood beam with my shocks and both hammers share the same problems.

The only parts I machined were the two I originally stated would be machined parts, the crank pin and bushing to fit. Both were done on a 6" lathe most would classify a "toy".

-- guru Saturday, 06/06/98 05:45:07 GMT

Forgot to mention we also have the problem of such a low center gravity that it can be moved around by two men or even with a hand truck. It also has the disadvantage of only weighing about 600 pounds. 'Course if there was anything that didn't work as designed we could just say that part "worked too good", huh?

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 06/06/98 05:52:48 GMT

I see what you mean. Wooden beams have only been used on power hammers for, what, 1000 years? Welded dies? I though the Bull had welded dies! Light anvil? With a 500 lb. anvil it wouldn't be considered light by the standard of just about every manufacturer of mechanical hammers in the last 100 years. Unknown durability? Well, you got me there! No way to prove that which we have no knowledge of.

Grant -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 06/06/98 06:10:06 GMT

I don't see any modern manufacturers building helve hammers (or using wood beams) and even though Bradley built some wonderful wood beam helve machines I doubt you have one in your shop and even Bradley finally converted to steel. And, except for the hammers you manufacture I don't think you USE any hammers in your shop that can be moved by anything less than a crane and tractor trailer! Although it IS nice to be able to wheel around a small machine ALL machine tools are better when they have more mass, especially forging machines!

You can't really count ALL the engine block (crank shaft, motor?) as anvil. Even Little Giant didn't count the integral "C" part of the frame as anvil and made the 15 to 1 ratio!

Tom goes to a lot of trouble welding the BULL dies, using measured preheat and very special (expensive) hi-tech welding rods. Sticking with the "junk yard" theme I just picked up the rods that were on hand (E-6013's) and welded away . . .

Durability of most machinery can be predicted with some certainty up to millions of cycles. Where WE have a durability problem is in using parts WE didn't design for purposes other than what they were designed for. WE MIGHT be able to hammer on these old engine blocks for years but they might only last a month. Even at JYH prices too short a life becomes very expensive in the long run.

AND FINALLY! My comment about problems had to do mainly with providing "plans" and we both know that you can't provide specific plans for a JYH. Change the length of your helve a few inches or the weight of your upper die a few pounds and those springs you found that are "just right" will be either too stiff or too light and the builder is back into the same R&D you had to do.

-- guru Saturday, 06/06/98 15:58:35 GMT

I don't see any modern manufacturers even MAKING mechanical hammers! Steel would probably be fine, but I have confidence in the wood. For the the intended use (hobby mostly) light weight and low center of gravity is only an advatage. Until the 1930's most hammers were built with 8:1 anvils and many of those are still around. It wasn't until they started forging a lot of alloy steel that it became an issue.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 06/06/98 16:35:00 GMT

Personally I have nothing against wood either. I think it was Bertie that was anti-wood, something about being "a metal worker not a carpenter". I thought a hammer with a oiled hardwood guide system and wood bearings would hold up well. It would reduce the reliance on welding and possibly put the making of a hammer in the realm of possibilities for more people. The problem with a wood frame hammer is that good hard wood is more expensive than steel and requires better design. Now a REAL possibility is using a minimum of expensive hardwood (rock maple) for the bearings and guides and using cheap construction grade lumber (pine, fur) for the frame.

-- guru Saturday, 06/06/98 19:01:11 GMT

I need a second or third opinion.I bought an old japanese blade today at a flea market in a box of junk.Its been treated like hell.Somebody used ahard rock grinder on it bent while using it as a corn knife,etc.It stillhad the guard handle the copper piece over the ricasso and the little piece between the guard and blade.I took the handle off to see if there were any markings there werent.So what would you do? Repolish it by hand ,grind it(its not really worth much)throw it in a drawer and foreget it.Or Work it rehaft it and save it for my little boy?Oh yeah it is laminated You can tell by the flaws in som of th layers. Thanks in advance for any feedback. respectfully, JesseH.

Jesse H. -- jhemphill at Sunday, 06/07/98 03:13:23 GMT

Old Blade (Jesse):

This sounds like a question for a museaum or collector. You might try the National Knife Museaum in Chatannoga, TN. Otherwise it sounds to me like the damage has been done. For historical purposes a collector would do nothing but preserve the blade as-is with its history of how it got that way. A professional bladesmith with experiance in laminated steel might make something really nice out of the material (or several somethings). If the blade really has no collector or historical value then I'd do whatever I wanted.

Keep asking around, maybe someone with real experiance in this area may comment on your question.

-- guru Sunday, 06/07/98 12:59:06 GMT

Just a note, My Johnson Controls gas furnace (heat treating oven) that I have pressed into forge service runs at 180,000 BTU and runs off a 100# tank with 11" regulator. It runs all day for me.

Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Sunday, 06/07/98 13:00:59 GMT

Jesse H.: The handle parts are collector items also. Someone at the Japanese Sword Society of the U.S., P.O. Box 712, Breckenridge, Tx. 76424, might be able to help about the blade.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Sunday, 06/07/98 14:10:32 GMT

Thanks, grandpa! This was really out of my area of expertise.

-- guru Monday, 06/08/98 00:29:47 GMT

Just to chime in a bit on the Japanese sword. Bob Engnath once advised me that a real knowlegable fellow to talk to was Fred Lohman in Portland. The last url I have for his sight is:

BOB -- robert_miller at Monday, 06/08/98 04:31:26 GMT

I am interested in learning the blacksmithing field and would appreciate any info you could give me. I've taken jewlery 1,2,3,4 all in one samester and the teacher was grately impressed with my skill. It usly takes two years to take all the classes. my mane intrest is in sword and weapond making, but any info will be vary helpfull.

Thomas Van Krevelen -- tomvank at Tuesday, 06/09/98 16:28:54 GMT

I am interested in learning the blacksmithing field and would appreciate any info you could give me. I've taken jewlery 1,2,3,4 all in one samester and the teacher was grately impressed with my skill. It usly takes two years to take all the classes. my mane intrest is in sword and weapond making, but any info will be vary helpfull.

Thomas Van Krevelen -- tomvank at Tuesday, 06/09/98 16:31:16 GMT

I am interested in learning the blacksmithing field and would appreciate any info you could give me. I've taken jewlery 1,2,3,4 all in one samester and the teacher was grately impressed with my skill. It usly takes two years to take all the classes. my mane intrest is in sword and weapond making, but any info will be vary helpfull.

Thomas Van Krevelen -- tomvank at Tuesday, 06/09/98 16:31:43 GMT

Does anyone have tech specs on the WC-JYH, and where is it located?
I am traveling to CA this summer and was curious.

Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Tuesday, 06/09/98 17:47:18 GMT

Thomas V.K: There are a number of good books on the subject for starters (See anvilfire bookshelf). The one by Jack Andrews, the New Edge of the Anvil is one of the best. Alex Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing is a classic on traditional technique.

I have a rough outline on getting started under 21st Century and then there ARE several blacksmithing schools. The ABANA (Artist Blacksmith Association of North America) is holding its semi annual convention NEXT week in Asheville, NC. The cost is cheap compared to what you have been paying for Jewlery classses and the amount of education value you'll recieve! TRY TO MAKE IT! See the banner above or goto our links page. There is a link for the ABANA site and the conference site. ABANA also has a list of Blacksmithing schools.

Then, there are the articles spread throughout anvilfire! and I will answer questions you may have as they come up!

-- guru Tuesday, 06/09/98 18:28:06 GMT

WC-JYH, Chris: The WC-JYH was built by Grant Sarver NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET at his shop at:

Off Center Products
2311 Ross Way
Tacoma, WA 98421-3402

There are more drawings (one mine) and photos of the WC-JYH on the Blacksmiths Virtual Junkyard (tm)(c). Other than a list of components used there are no detailed drawings that I know of at this time. See my note about JYH Plans under Plans on this site. There are also several photos in the anvilfire NEWS and may be more next week from the ABANA conference!

-- guru Tuesday, 06/09/98 18:41:37 GMT

Original Junkyard Hammer specs:

Overall weight: around 600lbs.

Ram weight: 35lbs.

Horse Power: 1

Stroke: around 10 inches

Speed: 200 r.p.m.

Cost: $144.00

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Wednesday, 06/10/98 01:35:24 GMT

Was reading past posts and noticed you missed the biggest reason to line a forge: Heat retention! Use less fuel, get hotter and stay hotter. I have 'built' forges using 55 gal drums sawn length-wise, cast-iron hibachis and Weber grills. Let me assure you that lining a forge may be for long life, but first it is for heat.

Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Wednesday, 06/10/98 12:09:24 GMT

FORGE LINING: Yes, lining a permanent shop forge helps retain some heat and insulating gas forges helps keep the shop cooler and the forge hotter. However, we were speaking of relatively light weight portable forges. Even heavier cast iron pan forges are better NOT lined if they are going to be moved around a lot.

The question of "to line, or not to line?" is partialy dependent on the size or class of work you are going to do. Full time smiths that do heavier work should line their forges (though many do not), but for those who work part time or as a hobby doing small work lining a forge is unnecessary.

If you really want to use less fuel and get a hotter fire, put an air preheater on your forge. Cold air in and hot air out is 99% of a forges heat loss. A friend of mine runs his stack through an oil drum (55 gal) and has his blower attached to the drum which has a couple baffles to force the air to take a longer path. Then a pipe runs to the forge. He says its the only way he can get a decent welding heat in the winter in his unheated shop. Foundries have been using "hot blast" since the mid 1800's to greatly reduce their fuel consumption. Gas forges get much hotter with preheat and is not an option at high altitude.

-- guru Wednesday, 06/10/98 13:12:35 GMT

I have several questions:

1) If I want to use the JYH to bevel the blades on swords, spears, etc., am I going to have a problem with the hammer, vis-a-vis the jackhammer bit problems?

2) Would an adjustable shock be useful in varying the power of the hammer (ECJYH) ?

3) If you are planning on using dies a lot, could you set the hammer for die heigth, then build a simple drawing die?

Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Wednesday, 06/10/98 14:03:54 GMT

Jock: What is "the jackhammer bit problems"?

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Wednesday, 06/10/98 15:13:10 GMT

Why isn't thermite used to connect face to anvil body?

Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Wednesday, 06/10/98 15:18:00 GMT

I thought it was you who spoke of a die with a 35 degree angle that put undo stress on the mechanical hammer, it was in a post from last month.

Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Wednesday, 06/10/98 15:21:36 GMT

Now I gotcha! Angled dies as used for jackhammer bits DO put an extra strain on the hammer guides. Actually bits are done at 22 degree, but same thing. Putting half the angle in both dies helps, but it's hard go more than 30 degrees without spitting the part back in your gut. Ther are ways around this problem if you have a special case. I have done 90 degrees with special dies.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Wednesday, 06/10/98 18:50:45 GMT

Special dies that forge BOTH edges at once have advatages for your application. Keeps the blade from curving as you forge and puts no side force on the hammer. The slight angle you are talking about (5 degree?) shouldn't be a problem in any case.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Wednesday, 06/10/98 20:39:51 GMT


I'm just starting out as a blacksmith doing ornamental work, I've done
a blacksmith course and did some work experience with a blacksmith.

my question is.... for the moment I'm using a old 44gallon drum cut out filled with mud and with a pipe 1/12 inch welded to the middle.
the problem is ....for a blower I'm using a air-pressure hose and the
nozzle for cleaning of machine parts...the forge is running quite good
but I cannot get it up to a white glow....somebody told me to use a
vaccuum cleaner as a blower because my air volume isn't enough....
would you please advice or if you have any plans for a coal forge could you please send some.

thank's in advance


robert schmidbauer -- rschmidb at Wednesday, 06/10/98 20:52:21 GMT

Robert: I don't quite understand your "nozzle for a cleaning. . ." Your friend is right you probably don't have enough air.

Compressed air can be used in a coal forge but you need 50 to 200 CFM in a gentle "blast". If you check the CFM rating for your compressor and the horsepower you will find it takes a HUGE amount of horsepower to use compressed air. A little squirl cage fan only needs about 1/10th to 1/30th HP to do the same job. Compressed air is normally expanded in a 1-1/2 or 2" pipe before getting to the forge.

Vacumme cleaners produce a LOT more air than you need and you will need to vent off some and valve the rest.

Sounds like you don't need forge plans so much as some adjustment to the one you have. When you are tired of it and know what you want THEN build another one.

-- guru Wednesday, 06/10/98 21:35:27 GMT

ANGLED DIES: Grant pretty much covered that. Dies angled above 15° (total) try to "spit out" the work and put considerable side load on the hammer guide system. The higher the angle the higher the side loading. AND he is right again that symetrical dies do not have this problem (your sword making dies should be a shallow double "V").

EC-JYH SHOCKS: I'd thought of adjustable shocks for the JYH but they are normally pretty expensive and their range of adjustment is fairly limited. This range would not have helped our problem which was the the fact that the shocks need to run slow and we were about twice as fast as needed.

One thing the shock linkage does perfectly is automatically compensate for change in height such as insertion of a clapper die or other tooling. Hammers with adjustable height should be adjusted for the working range though this is not often done on short run jobs in small shops.

Failings of the shock linkage. The shock linkage makes a good quick and dirty replacement of toggle linkage on a vertical hammer. However, it "floats" if run too fast and does not have the advantage of adding velocity to the ram which toggles and springs DO. They do not appear to absorb a lot of energy from the system but they also do not add to, or store it. At this point I am not overly enthused about the shock linkage. However, it is early (as far as R&D goes), with the correct balance between shock, mass and speed. The EC-JYH is as ready as its going to get for Asheville but it is no where near optimized. I'd like to play with it some afterwards so that I can make more specific recomendations.

-- guru Wednesday, 06/10/98 22:16:22 GMT

THERMITE and ANVIL FACES: It may have been done but the problem is that thermite works best on equal or near equal masses. It works great on RR-Rail, and casting repairs. For the thermite to bring the body of the anvil up to welding temperature it would completely melt the steel face and maybe even burn it up. You could make a waist joint with thermite or possibly weld on a horn.

-- guru Wednesday, 06/10/98 22:30:22 GMT

I understand about angled dies, so how would one forge a single edged weapon? I mean, I could make a mated die where guide bushings held the die pieces and possibly the work piece in place, but that starts to sound like engineering and I much prefer smithing! ;)

Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Thursday, 06/11/98 01:58:07 GMT


Stop and think a minute.

Where did engineering come from?

My youngest son is a Class A Machinist. Only in the last couple of years has he done anything with me vis-a-vis blacksmithing.

Couple of months ago we were talking, and he made a comment that both surprised and pleased me. He said: "I just realized that I actually work in a high-tech blacksmith shop!" He's correct, of course.

Well, an engineer is ALSO a hi-tech blacksmith. Usually, or frequently, a theoretical blacksmith, but not always.

Sometimes, he smiths to get back to his roots! (grin)

And there is nothing wrong with either approach, they're just different.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 06/11/98 02:11:08 GMT

Single edged Blades (Chris): Read Grant and my comments again closely. The low angle you are talking about is NOT a problem. Normal combination dies put more angular load on the machine than what you are talking about. All power hammers are designed for a certain amount of side load. Good heavy hammers handle the "jackhammer bit" problem easily. Even the smallest hammer (15-25 pounds) should take the kind of forces forging a blade taper requires. If you are still worried about it just be sure to lubricate the guides before every use.

-- guru Thursday, 06/11/98 03:10:01 GMT

Jock: Just a thought what about using an air shock on the EJYH. This would allow quite a bit of adjustment above the base hydraulic part of the shock if that is not to stiff. Then again air could be compressed making it spongey. Just a rambling thought.

Terry Lee -- Terry.Lee at Thursday, 06/11/98 14:30:25 GMT

JYH Air shock: First problem I ran into is that almost ALL modern shocks are gas filled (pressurized to 90PSI). This causes the shock to extend (slowly) and push the crank UP when at rest so that the shocks are fully extended when they start. This is not good but it has not been a problem yet. Non-gas-filled shocks are available but I haven't checked to see if these are available in the configuration I am using. I was told by a race car builder that straight hydraulic shocks are available for race cars. I'm not sure I would want to pay race car prices though! Air shocks such a Hi-Jackers would agravate the problem. As it is at the current ram weight the shocks are too stiff so we are adding some more weight.


My demonstrator, Josh Greenwood, finally tested the hammer last night and was impressed. I was also impressed by how the hammer performed when used by a practiced professional. Josh says,
"Well, its NOT an air hammer, but it is very controllable for a mechanical".

I'll have photos posted this afternoon or this evening.

-- guru Thursday, 06/11/98 16:13:27 GMT

I don't know about the air shocks they make today but the old ones were basically an air over hydraulic type setup. IF the shock with say
little or no air in it was not to stiff then you could add pressure to adjust the shock to your setup ( I think). If memory serves me correctly these shocks are rather soft with no air pressure. just curious.

Terry Lee -- Terry.Lee at Thursday, 06/11/98 19:19:19 GMT

The old air shocks I'm familiar with had a bladder like an air spring built into the upper portion of the shock. The shock itself was loaded against this air spring. Air was added with an air hose. Modern "gas filled" shocks have pressurized nitrogen sealed into the works in a similar fashion but it is all internal. I expect they have something to do with getting a better ride out of radial tires.

The old "adjustable" shocks that I'm familiar with had progressively stiffer valving with each setting and were designed for the after market sports car crowd.

My problem is I was a mechanic back in the early 70's. When I got out of it I even quit working on my own cars for the most part. Although I like to think of myself as a high-tech kind of guy, I really HATE seeing a carburettor with more wires than hoses AND I wasn't really too keen on all the extra vacuume hoses either! Except for what I occasionaly see in engineering magazines I haven't kept up with auto technology any more than the average consumer!

-- guru Friday, 06/12/98 00:18:56 GMT

You won't have to wait months for the Anvils Ring to find out about the ABANA conference this year! anvilfire will be reporting it daily with pictures AND text almost as it happens!


1) A gracefull fan or "fishtail" from any size bar to as wide as is practical. May be scrolled afterwards.

2) A leaf, any kind or style, made with or without hand held tooling, from any size or proportion bar.

-- guru Friday, 06/12/98 01:02:31 GMT

I'm just becoming nterested in forging and metal working. Could you
direct me to a company that sells forges and/or forging tools. Please
don't give me any do-it-yourself webpages.


Matthew Puckett -- kppuckett at Saturday, 06/13/98 01:51:14 GMT


Well, I would have prefered things that test the capability of the hammer rather than the smith, but if that's the what you want, let's have at it! As long as ALL work is performed ON A JUNKYARD HAMMER, I'm game. Hammer left here on Tuesday, Wednesday it was in Salt Lake City and as of today my hammer is in Nashville.

See you in Asheville at high noon, GRANT

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 06/13/98 02:35:28 GMT

Matthew Puckett,

Check the Centaur Forge ad on this web page, they have everything you need to get started and more besides.

For an anvil, Centaur sells some good ones, BUT so does Peddinghaus, and they also have an ad here on Anvilfire.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 06/13/98 14:37:34 GMT

JYH-CHALLANGE: The fish tail flare is a standard exercise for decorative or architectual smiths with or without a power hammer. It demonstrates controlled width drawing of the bar stock. It is a good complement to forging a point. Perhaps a "rectangle drawn width wise" would be a suitable substitute for an industrial smith. That excersize is right out of any forging manual and is almost the same as the flare.

Again, to decorative and architectual smiths, making a pair of tongs is no more a test of the hammer than making a leaf. Both require the the skill of the operator to make the machine do what the smith is practiced in doing. You are in the business of making tongs, Josh is in the business of making leaves. The capability of the machine is best shown by a professional doing what he does best.

My experiance with the majority of smiths is that they may make a dozen pairs of tongs in their lifetime, but most will forge hundreds if not thousands of leaves.

The Battle of the Junk Yard Dogs is currently scheduled for Saturday, June 20 at 1:30 PM EDT. More details to be posted in Vol.2 of the anvilfire NEWS.

-- guru Saturday, 06/13/98 16:37:20 GMT

Matthew: Jim is right. I just got my new copy of the Centaur Catalog and it has everything you need! It is also a bargain "book" for $5.00 US! A good half inch thick with photos of every available blacksmith and farrier tool. Then there are books and used equipment being sold in our Source Book as well as our other banner advertisers also listed in the Directory.

If you decide some of these items are too expensive and change your mind about do it yourself, we provide "how-to", plans AND links to other sites with plans such as

-- guru Saturday, 06/13/98 17:00:00 GMT

"Gas forges get much hotter with preheat and is not an option at high altitude."
Hi Guru,
Quote of a statement you made on this page last Wed.Not quite sure what you mean. Is preheat desirable or not at high altitude? Reason I ask is my gas furnace just about reaches welding heat, at a push, altitude 6000'. Would preheat help or not. My Freind Bertie has preheat and welds fine, but his is a monster ffurnace so there may be some other factor at play.

BTW, getting along nicely with my hammer. Got a piect of 4"round bar 12" long for the hammer, and had a leaf spring made up. I'll be building the hammer so I can experiment with a rubber linkage, but the leaf spring is a fallback position. Noted your comment on the column flexing on your JYH. I'm going for two columns 4" square (2 off 2*4 channel welded lip to lip per column) about 8" apart with bits of the same channel as cross-braces. Will also secure it to the anvil which is a piece of 6"square bar I've got my eye on at a local junkyard. I'll keep you posted on progress. Good luck at the JYH hammer-off.

Tom -- tom.nelson at Saturday, 06/13/98 18:59:40 GMT

Yes, gas forges DO need preheat at high altitude. The guys at Sandia National Labs developed an atomospheric forge with preheat and I think the ABANA plans are derived from theirs. I KNOW the guys down in the Peruvian Andes use this type forge. This may not be an absolute rule but I think otherwise your blower must slightly pressurize the forge to get the oxygen level and flame density high enough.

I've had a bunch of requests for Bertie's preheater plan but haven't gotten around to asking about it. Maybe you can provide the plan for what works on your forge!

When building a machine like a power hammer from steel you need to remember how springy steel is as apposed to the prefered material, cast iron.

Better snag that 6" square before someone else does! And Thanks!

-- guru Saturday, 06/13/98 22:13:32 GMT

Actually, the spring rate is the same for both! Just as it is for mild steel VS high carbon or alloy. Only when the yeild point is reached that it makes any difference. Cast iron APPEARS to be stiffer, but it's usually used in heavier sections.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Sunday, 06/14/98 02:01:58 GMT

As a matter of fact, I've owned a few Nazel hammers made of steel and a few made of cast iron. Actually, the one piece ones were steel and the two piece cast iron. That's what their literature says anyway.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Sunday, 06/14/98 03:18:27 GMT

Grey cast iron is rated at zero flexibility for design purposes. It does flex a very little then stops, the stress goes out of site at that point but there is no yeilding until it breaks. The difference with steel is that is just keeps flexing and storing a LOT of energy until it reaches the yield point OR it is let loose and then it acts like a pendulum. Slender sections vibrate visibly and heavy sections ring.

I did over simplify on the cast iron. It IS used in heavier sections but mostly because its strength is only 6,000 to 9,000 PSI where mild steel is 30,000 to 60,000 and high strength steel 100,000 PSI or more.

Where people get into trouble, is designing steel structures for stress rather than deflection. Crane beams are a classic case. A bridge crane should deflect about 1/4" max. under full load. If you design for some safe stress (say 10,000 PSI), the beam my deflect several inches and be like lifing with a spring or a rubber band! I've actually used a 5 ton crane designed this way. Under 70% load the beam sagged 6" or more and the electric trolley couldn't climb the hill! Some hot shot working for a power plant designed it. And I'm sure someone else reviewed and approved his numbers. Neither had a clue about designing for deflection.

If you work a lot with precision measuring tools such as dial indicators in the half or tenth of a thousandth of an inch range you quickly learn that most things made of steel sag under their own weight (even short pieces) and that the slightest push will deflect the part. My shop axiom,

"Steel is like rubber, except when opposed to flesh".

-- guru Sunday, 06/14/98 04:19:48 GMT

Are you saying that an equal size piece of cast iron will not deflect the same as a piece of steel? Will it deflect less than 36,000 psi mild steel? Less than 250,000 psi alloy steel? If grey cast iron has "zero flexibility for design purposes" how does the patented brake on a DuPont hammer work?

A piece of cast iron will flex under load and then stop even though the stress "goes out of sight"? What, It's modulus of elasticity changes? The stiffness of ANY section can only be increased by 1) increasing the cross section, 2) increasing the radius of gyration or increasing the modulus of elasticity. Cast iron is not some unique metal that does not deflect in propotion to the load applied to it.

See "Applied Strength of Materials" by Jensen

or "Modern Meallurgy for Engineers" by Sisco

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Sunday, 06/14/98 05:46:41 GMT

Modulus of elasticity - (springyness or Young's modulus): millions of PSI

Cast Iron 13.5 - 21.0
Steels 28.6 - 30.0

Modulus of Rigidity (shearing modulus) : millions of PSI

Cast Iron 5.2 - 8.2
Steels 11.0 - 11.9

Ultimate Elongation (percent), Reduction of area (percent)

Cast Iron 0, 0
Steel Low alloy 30-15, 70-40

Marks' Mechanical Engineers' Handbook, 6th Ed. pp.5-5,6.

No difference between Cast Iron and Steel? Although there are hundreds of published comparitive stress/strain curves, steel vs. cast iron is not generaly graphed because they are too different. The modulus of elasticity does not need to change when the material breaks before it can be streched (the 0,0 above).

-- guru Sunday, 06/14/98 14:31:55 GMT

Enough fun, cast iron IS the preferred material for machinery frames. I didn't say there was no difference between the two. There is a big difference between mild steel and heatreated alloy steel, but they deflect the same as you've pointed out before.

On a different subject, seems even you have trouble deciding which page to post on. You were making all your JYH posts in the Hammer-in and now you switched to the Guru Den. Not a big deal, just that the distinction is a little cloudy. I understand your original thnking, but it may not be worth having both pages, I hate checking both and trying to remember where we we had been talking on a subject.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Sunday, 06/14/98 15:07:57 GMT

OBTW- Cast iron does deflect just a little before it breaks (the 0,0 just says it is very difficult to measure). It has been used in proportionately slender sections for brakes and clutches that have very little movement. Often these applications use alloying ingrediants in the cast iron to cheat on the non-ductility of pure cast iron. ALSO, many ductile iron castings are not labled as such. Ductile has properties of both cast iron and steel. It can be welded but machines very much like CI. It is flexible but has some of the damping properties of CI.

You also cannot trust everything you read or are told about patents. Generally mechanical patents do not delve into materials science. If a specific material is needed for the device to work and release of that information is not germain to the patent then it is not included in the patent. A patent may even state "cast iron" when ductile or cast steel is required. If the mechanical configuration does not change, the patent is still good. The one dissadvantage of a patent is full disclosure of the invention. Anything that does not need to be disclosed is better protected as a "trade secret".

-- guru Sunday, 06/14/98 15:07:58 GMT

Getting rid of the dual pages thing has been discussed and I haven't figured out what to do about it. I was posting JYH stuff in the Hammer-In but people were asking questions about it here.

After the conference (I was trying for before), I'll get the Slack-Tub Pub going and either drop the Hammer-In or make it a community bullitin board. Probably the best thing would be to call this the "Guru and Virtual Hammer-In" page and drop the other.

And, I repeat, I'm sorry I haven't archived this page. It is way too long!

-- guru Sunday, 06/14/98 15:16:25 GMT

Are we having fun yet? I hope everyone understands that Jock and I are gonna be carryin on like this for years to come! Get used to it. Great site Jock!

See ya in Asheville

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Sunday, 06/14/98 15:50:13 GMT

I am looking for any info on a Torchweld acetylene generator. Any info or advice will be helpful.

Joey -- jrhodes at Sunday, 06/14/98 18:55:38 GMT


It's become obvious that I'm supporting the ECJYH. But I want you to know that I admire the WCJYH *ALMOST* as much! (grin) Both are excellent examples of the old "make do" work ethic. I'll banter with you AND Jock, as the years go by.

See ya in Asheville!

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 06/14/98 19:14:35 GMT

Nice to hear that the JYH face off is now an official event. Probably because both of you were going to steal too much of the audience away...:) Wish you both luck & maybe you can give Jim the camera to take the pictures while you are busy with your entries.

Bob -- robert_miller at Sunday, 06/14/98 22:53:29 GMT


I plan on taking my video camera and video taping the hammer off. (DON'T go any further with that, but I just could NOT resist it!)

But, I can take some digital stills at the same time!

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 06/15/98 00:11:03 GMT

A curious fellow died one day and found himself waiting in a long long line for judgement. As he stood there he noticed that some souls were allowed to march right through the gates of heaven and others, though, were led over to Satan who threw them into a burning firepit. Every so often, instead of hurling a poor soul into the fire, Satan would toss the soul to one side in a small pile. After watching Satan do this several times, the fellow's curiosity got the better of him. So he strolled over and tapped Satan on the shoulder. Excuse me, Prince of Darkness, " he said. "I'm waiting in line for judgement, but I couldn't help wondering why are you tossing those people aside instead of flinging them into the fires of hell with the others?"

Ah," Satan said with a grin. "They're from Tacoma; they're too wet to burn."

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Monday, 06/15/98 01:47:27 GMT

Asheville conference weather report:

Sunny, cloudy, hot, cold, wet, dry, but George Dixon swears there will be enough space under the tents for everyone!

-- guru Monday, 06/15/98 12:52:07 GMT


First off, superb pages. I was/am hugely impressed by the amount of information you've packed into them. Plus this board is a great source of information :)

Secondly, my question... A friend and I are starting to smith. Well, if you could call it that. Currently we are only working on copper, laughable I know, but we dont have a forge, and we dont have any of the tools needed. We are looking for information in every place possible. But due to our location {Western Australia, Perth} there just isnt much to be found, except on the net. We've begun to realise that part of been a smith is making your own tools, and most importantly, trial and error. We both accept that, and soon we should be moving into a reasonably well equiped workarea in section of a Panel beaters workshop. We will have to get a anvil, and make a forge, but otherwise most of the tools are already available. We have had one problem however that we just cant think of a way to get around. The moto is "Make your own" right? Well how the h*ll to you make your own tongs? I mean... think about it. We have been to PLENTY of stores {hardware and factorys etc} and have recived many a strange look as we ask for "smithing tongs". As we expected there are none to be found/bought. Any ideas?

Any help appreciated.


Allan Peska -- drizzt at Monday, 06/15/98 15:14:21 GMT

TONGS (Allan, down under):

Tongs are still made by many manufacturers AND there are numerous substitutes. See the Centaur Forge ad above or try GRANT SARVER (e-mail in purple above). Even if you can't afford to order from Centaur Forge their catalog is like a reference of blacksmithing tools.

Channel Lock (tm) pliers do in a pinch and Vise-Grips (tm) were invented by a Blacksmith as universal tongs. Modern Vise-Grips are a little short and you must be careful not to overheat the spring.

Under 21st Century you will find,

Tongs01 The "Dempsey Twist" easy method of making tongs.

You can also try:

-- guru Monday, 06/15/98 15:34:32 GMT

Cheers Guru, that Aussie web site has links to other smiths in WA, as soon as I get the chance I'm going to contact them and see what happens. Channel Lock pliers!! Great idea, thanks a heap for your input :)


Allan -- drizzt at Tuesday, 06/16/98 04:17:46 GMT

OTHER SMITHS are always your best source of tools, sources of tools and information in general. Joining your local or national blacksmithing organization can be very benificial too. They often publish membership directories (your neighbor might be a member!) and their puplications carry suppliers advetizing.

You might also try DES WAKEFIELD

I THINK Des is part of an Austrailian blacksmithing organization.

ON THE WAY TO ASHEVILLE!. . . . . . . . .

-- guru Tuesday, 06/16/98 11:14:54 GMT

"Guru and Virtual Hammer-In" page and drop the other.

Good idea, I think this would help you and your efforts,You will have carple tunnel if you keep jumping back and forth. Hey Jim can you run that cammera? I hope so, I don't want to miss any of the action. Wish I could be there and watch you old hippies run those home made hammers. Jim if you are going to take pictures remember the view finder goes toward your eye and the lens toward the subject "grin".
And remember not to get to close to those hammers they might throw off some srapnel. Hey you guys have fun I wish I could be there.
Rick Viagra

Rick C. -- rickyc at Tuesday, 06/16/98 17:34:45 GMT


I'm going to set the video camera up and let it run on auto, and then use my el-cheapo ($10) 35mm camera. If necessary, I'll drop my 35mm and take a few with Jock's digital.

Not to worry about Jim and shrapnel. I've got a couple of little pieces I carry around as reminders. I've had them for over 30 years now.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 06/16/98 20:44:28 GMT

Oh great guru. I have just about completed my Foundry. I had gotten so far as to borrow a propane tank from a buddy. I was very excited, to find outt that it was such a new tank, it didn't have propane. YEP.. EMPTY! I'll tell ya how it works later this week.
Jeff Spoor
North Georgia still trying to Melt down Copper and Aluminum.

jeff spoor -- sktools at Tuesday, 06/16/98 22:10:28 GMT

I'd call that a "clean" start. You'll get there! A lot of time the preparation for a job takes longer than the job.

The EC-JYH is half way to Asheville and I'm still trying to get a "field" system up and running to report on the conference with!

-- guru Wednesday, 06/17/98 01:02:31 GMT

To the fella who was using compressed gas: a cheap blower is an bathroom fan that you can buy easily and hook up to a dimmer switch. I am using a 50 cfm fan now, but would recomment the 70 cfm version. One thing to add is that I am not aspiring to welding heat yet, but it does the trick for me and it was cheap.

Have fun in Ashville, I won't be able to make it...mark.

Mark H. -- marlin at Wednesday, 06/17/98 04:10:17 GMT

On the WC-JYH, what does the railroad rail pivot on? and is the drive arm attached to a piston inside the engine block? Is the upper spring mostly to reduce rebound, or does it actually significantly affect power? Also, how do you keep the hammer and anvil aligned?

Chris K. -- kilpe4 at Wednesday, 06/17/98 10:25:56 GMT

Hello Guru,
I am Allan's friend from 'down under'. Your site has been a great help to us both. Unfortunatly, neither of us know much about metals, what type(s) of steel and/or other metals should we use? Rough cost???

Lifred -- Lifred at Thursday, 06/18/98 16:18:33 GMT

I am a goldsmith looking to hobby in the art of blacksmithing. I have been on an endless search for an affordable forge in my area and have found nothing. I would love to find some plans so I can make my own coal forge for an affordable price. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Gary -- roeg7 at Friday, 06/19/98 00:50:28 GMT


It depends on what you are making. Decorative work is made os the lowest carbon (softest) steel you can find. Tools are made of tool steels that vary in carbon content. The more carbon, the harder the tool can be made. Old springs are a good source of material for tools.

Steel types and how to identify them from scrap is a long subject and we will work through it a little at a time. Have to cut this short tonight (toll call to the net!)

-- guru Friday, 06/19/98 06:31:32 GMT

Simple coal forge. A common starter forge project is building a "brake drum" forge. This is made from a large cast iron truck or car brake drum, some pipe and a blower of various parentage (old blow drier, furnace fan. . .).

Since we have a 12" brake drum left over from the Junk Yard Hammer (Which is a BIG hit here at the conference), we will be building and posting plans for a brake drum forge after the conference. My first forge was built from two scrap wheels, and we will also be posting that.

-- guru Friday, 06/19/98 06:36:34 GMT

Hello all,

First off, Great webpage, this place is really helping my friend and I. Now for the questions. We've recsently got started in blacksmithing. Problems we are having is, that, We are trying to make Japanesse swords using carbon steel, the bad part is that we are unable to locate such steel. Also we are unable to locate a simple tool Tonges. We've found hammers and everything else. Just no tongs. So any help would be great! Thanks in advance.


Justin -- htc at Saturday, 06/20/98 00:47:07 GMT


First your question about tongs - See my reply UP a dozen or so post. If it is REALLY a problem finding them then you should be making your own. Not all smiths like making their own tongs but they ALL should or do have the capacity to do so. It is good forging practice for that much more difficult task of forging a sword. If you are not prepared to make many of your own tools blacksmithing may not be something you should persue. Blacksmithing is one continous toolmaking adventure. See my instructions for making tongs under 21st Century. You don't need tongs to make tongs!

Japanese sword steel: This is really a question grandpa Meier should field but he is here with a couple thousand of us in Asheville at the ABANA conference!

Steel: ALL "steel" is "carbon" steel. Steel is iron with less than aproximately 1% carbon. "alloy steel" is carbon steel with some other metal "alloying ingrediant" mixed in. Nickle and chrome are common additions. Technically "alloy" steel is still carbon steel.

Japanese sword steel is made by starting with wrought iron. Wrought iron is nearly pure iron with a little slag included from the process of its manufacture. It generally has some grain like wood from the slag inclusions. The Japanese smith starts with this nearly pure iron which they also manufacture themselves. The iron is placed in a forge burning charcoal. Under controlled conditions, the iron carburizes. That is, absorbs carbon from the fire. The iron melts and runs to the bottom of the forge where it collects and cools. The carburized iron is removed while still quite hot (low red) and quenched in water. Then it is broken into pieces and the grain or crystal structure of the iron/steel inspected the "good" stuff kept and the rest discarded.
These pieces are then stacked on a piece of wrought iron, fluxed with a rice hull flux, brought to a welding heat in the forge and welded together. This mass of iron and high carbon steel is then folded and welded or cut and welded in hundreds of layers. Each step mixing the iron and steel into a more uniform substance. THIS is Japanese sword steel (short version).

If you are going to use anything else it doesn't really matter. Any cutlery grade steel will make a fine sword as well as most spring steel. But it will not be Japanese sword steel nor will the sword really be a traditional Japanese sword if made from anything less than the traditional material.

-- guru Saturday, 06/20/98 02:42:17 GMT

ALL are having a GREAT time at Asheville! Too much going on for anyone to fully absorb. Had a little drizzle today but not enough to hurt. Big JYH challange tomarrow!

-- guru Saturday, 06/20/98 02:45:21 GMT

Hello again.

Does anyone know where we can get coal in Weatern Australia?


lifred -- lifred at Saturday, 06/20/98 11:08:04 GMT

Great job so far Jock. The pictures are great and the entire format seems to be working well. Can't wait for the big challange. Tell me when it will happen. Hope everybody is haveing lots of fun. Wish I could be there.

Rick -- rickyc at Sunday, 06/21/98 02:24:35 GMT

I have just finished my first (and 3 prototypes) LPG forge, It works well and uses a combination venturi/forced air burner, dont laugh but I managed to get really good results by modifying an old hair dryer motor and as the motor is actually 6volt I built a power supply that can be adjusted. If ever I need to burst fire the forge I connect my vacuum cleaner up and away it goes. (up to near welding temp within around 15 minutes). Also I manage to get about 11 hours out of a 4.5kg tank with no freezing.

Enough of what I have been up to, I was wondering if anyone had managet to build a diesel fired forge and what would te repocussions be on the steel being worked (if any). I know that diesel kilns are common.

Also If I wanted to increase the carbon content of the steel I am working with (Bright Steel (high chrome content, low carbon)) what would be the best way.

Thanks in advance

Andrew Hooper -- administrator at Sunday, 06/21/98 09:31:32 GMT

Hi , I am looking for a good blacksmithing anvil. I had to sell mine do to unfortold surcomstances. I have been to a horseshoeing and blacksmithing school a long time ago .I am allso looking for a good forge. I can afford about $ 1.50 a lbs. for a anvil.

kenneth mitchell -- mitchell at Sunday, 06/21/98 20:44:18 GMT

I was having a look at some of the powerhammers around and some of the home built versions, these all sound prety good but the functional size to power ratio seemed to be a little out of scale.

That was when i thought of the possibility of an electromagnetic powerhammer, anyone know if there is one around, or if it has been tried, I know that electromagnetic staple guns, nail guns and other things are avalible.

Also another idea sprung to mind, what about a similar system as what is commonly used on a pile driver, in my younger days I assisted in the opperation of a pile driver that was bassicly an ibeam with a cable and a hydrolic ram, (could be replaced with a canterleaver or something) this system swung a hammer (monkey) that was arround 1000 pound.

Thanks in advance

Andrew Hooper -- administrator at Sunday, 06/21/98 22:31:49 GMT



By popular vote (anvilfire crew not voting) the East Coast JYH Designed and built by Jock Dempsey, anvilfire guru, won the challange!

Votes, 15 for the West Coast, 17 for the East Coast.

Due to the West Coast team selling their machine before the working challange the big face off did not happen as planned. However, during pre face-off demontrations both hammers performed well. The West coast helve hammer having more punch but walking all over the parking lot and having one minor breakdown. The highly experimental East Coast "shock absorber" hammer performed flawlessly and with excelent control as demontrated by all who ran it.

All three hammers were tested by Dorothy Stigler (renowned metal artist and long time president of ABANA). With three irons in the fire she kept the JYH's busy shaping iron! Josh Greenwood demonstrated that work of the highest sophistication requiring delicate control could be produced under the anvilfire machine.
Photos of this and other events are being posted in the NEWS as quickly as possible. Due to the large number they will be posted in batches during the week. If you find errors in the captions please contact me. Due to my unexpectedly being called upon to demonstrate the EC-JYH most of the reporting was turned over to my most valuable assistant Stuart Smith! Thanks again Stu!

We will answer questions posted ASAP now that we are home!

-- guru Sunday, 06/21/98 22:56:51 GMT

Electromagnetic Power Hammer: I recently toyed with the idea and tried the idea on a couple of electrical engineers with no response. Its one of those ideas that modern electronics may make possible. A number of people I have discussed the plan with say they have thought about it. I suspect it may have been invented and pattented in the 1800's but needed solid-state switching to work.

First POWER pile driver was by James Naysmyth and a modification of his steam hammer design. All kinds of mechanisms can be devised to pound steel. More later.

-- guru Monday, 06/22/98 04:01:47 GMT

Oil Forge: Oil forges have been built to burn a variety of grades of oil and work quite well. Numerous home builts have been devised using oil furnace burners (pumps, jets, fans). They are reported to reach forge welding temperatures and are capable of being adjusted to different atomospheres (oxidizing, carburizing). Not quite as clean as gas but still cleaner than coal.

Adding carbon to alloy steels is difficult. Some will absorb it others will not. You may be playing alloy roulette. Trial and error is all I can suggest. Others may know more about this than I do. I can research it if you wish. I would need more specifics about the steel you are using.

-- guru Monday, 06/22/98 04:14:34 GMT

I am having trouble getting coal, does anyone know if heatbeads (the BBQ type) are any good for a forge?


Lifred -- lifred at Monday, 06/22/98 05:10:58 GMT

Lifred: If heatbeads are the same as what we call charcoal briquettes (sort of pillow shaped molded things) then NO. These are made from ground charcoal, sawdust and cornstarch binder (glue). They sort of work but produce a big mess and little heat for the expense.

Those countrymen of yours that I have spoken to made their own charcoal. (dig pit, fill with wood, fire, cover with sheet metal, seal with dirt. Remove when cool).

-- guru Monday, 06/22/98 05:49:37 GMT

Welcome back from ABANA, I'd have given my eye teeth to be there. I've sort of thought about an electromagnetic hammer a bit, dusted off some old texbooks and did a couple of calcs. there's two main parts to the design, as I see it. One is the electromagnet itself and the design thereof, and the other is the solid state switching circuits. The latter should be the easier of the two. I'm no expert, but any electronics man with up to date knowledge in power electronics should be able to come up with a design. It strikes (no pun intended) me that the electromagnet will be a lot more complicated. The coil geometry, shielding of the field, residual magnetism in the hammer, eddy current heating, etc, are just some of the challenges (never problems) that come to mind. Can you imagine a hammer that your workpiece sticks to and goes wizzing up and down at 300 strokes/min with your arm attached!! If anybody has any ideas on what such a hammer could look like, lets hear it for the all new improved CSH (computer shop hammer) with direct internet access.

tom -- tom.nelson at Monday, 06/22/98 17:47:46 GMT

I looked into the materials aspect and learned that hardenable steels make the best magnets and that pure iron or very low carbon iron does not remain magnetized. Solenoid (and transformer) cores are made of this type of iron. There may need to be some exotic non-ferrous alloy isolator (7075-T6 Aluminium) between the ram core and the tool steel die. The motion of the core is determined by the magnetic centers (similar to centers of gravity). The magnetic center of the ram wants to be at the magnetic center of the coil.

I hadn't thought of the work wizzing up and down at 300 spm. THAT is a vivid picture! I imagined a solid state switch similar to that used in heavy stepper motor controls. The power would be pulsed just long enough to accelerate the ram through the magnetic center and hit the work. Feed back would be via non-contact proximity switches.

A light (balanced) spring would return the ram OR it could be done by a second coil.

A device of this type might require a programmable controller on a experimental prototype but descrete logic circuits could replace the more expensive controller.

Tom, tell Bertie the shock absorbers work fine! Action is different than spring action hammers but that was expected.

Anyone intrested in building a shock absorber linkage JYH.

The shocks will "float" the ram if run too fast. Our final configuration with the two shocks had a 65 pound ram and operated best at 140 strokes per minute. Will experiment with added weight when the "Top Dog" machine gets home. We have video of Josh Greenwood and Dorothy Steigler running the EC-JYH. We will try to process into something viewable on the net!

-- guru Monday, 06/22/98 18:44:11 GMT

Here's a question I have not seen yet. I'm building myself a post and beam shop (I used to say "this summer" now it's this year and mabey part of next year too!) It's going to be sheathed in 1x pine. My question, is a liquid, Borax mix sprayed on the wood a fire retardent?
If so whats the ratio of water (?) to borax? If this is not the way to go any other ideas, Thanks Pete Oh, saw your hammer in N.C. hats off to both you guys, there should be a challenge like that at every conference.

Pete -- Ravnstudio at Monday, 06/22/98 22:00:41 GMT

Oh Great Guru!
I am VERY interested in building a NC-JYH (No Coast {Indiana} JYH) using shocks. I have to admit, I am a little dense concerning the brake/clutch linkage (NOT an auto mechanic) Does the brake stop the hammer, or does it disengage the clutch, letting the the axle freewheel to a stop? I have a piece of metal that UI want to make the hammer, but it only weighs 38#, will that work? Do I need to use a single shock?

Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Monday, 06/22/98 22:13:04 GMT

Pete: I know borax is used to fire retard celulous insulation (ground paper) but I do not know how it would work on wood. Fire treated wood is pressure treated similar to the salt treating process. I would think that anything short of a saturated solution would work. On the exterior side the stuff is going to weather off and be of little use.


Jack up a car with standard rear wheel drive and play with it! If you turn the drive shaft both wheels will turn if they have equal load. If you hold one the other side speeds up. If you put the car in park or hold the drive shaft still and turn one wheel the other turns the same speed in the oposite direction!

On the EC-JYH the brake rotates while friction and dead weight keeps the ram from moving. When the brake is engaged (stop the brake drum) power is transmited to the other side and the ram moves. With care, the brake/clutch can be feathered but it is an overkill design. I'm thinking we could increase the weight even more. . .

When you find the axel you want to use it must NOT be posi-trac or positive traction. These are fairly rare but they ARE around. They have a clutch between the two axels so both sides are driven. If one side slips the other side keeps driving. On your standard axel the side that slips speeds up and slips worse!

You will also need to determine the axel's ratio so you know what the reduction ratio is. Hold one side still, turn the input 10 turns and carefully count the turns of the wheel (chalk marks help). If the wheel turns 7 times the working ratio is 1.42 to 1. The axel's gear set would be 2.84 to 1 but you only get half. From there you want to determine the motor and pulley sizes.

We started with a 42# ram. This part is a little tricky to hit if you are trying to get specific. Our cyclidrical section weighed 20# and the guide flange and ears on top weighed 18-22#. Almost or more than half! Little pieces of steel add up in a hurry! A 38# ram probably needs only one shock. I think the full sized 70's car axel could handle a 100# ram and a small pickup a 150#. My demonstrator, Josh Greenwood says he'd like to see the machine with the current 65# ram weight and interchangable linkage. Slip on the "spring" type linkage for heavy drawing and put the shock back on for detailed work such as chasing.

Work on collecting your parts and pieces. I am writing/illustrating a booklet to cover all the technical stuff. Building an upright hammer takes a lot of steel. Every time I turned around I was looking for another piece to make a flange or bracket! Also note that the section for the guide is "W" type or "Wide Flange". This doesn't have any taper to the flange like old fashioned "I" beam (now called "S" scetion). You could also weld this part from plate but warpage might be a problem.

When you get it built I want photos!

-- guru Monday, 06/22/98 23:15:39 GMT

wonderful web page....I sometimes have a marble/bubble looking affect on some of the knife blades that I heat treat after forging and grinding. I heat 5160 and 10XX plowshare until a magent wont attract it..quinch in transmissiom fluid/peanust oil (70/30%). The flaw can be seen after cleaning off the scale. It is very difficult to remove...Is this Carbon migration? What can I do to improve my process?

Randall Guess -- rguess at Tuesday, 06/23/98 01:31:39 GMT

Pete: Not sure about fire retardants either for timber framing but send an email to the folks that put out one of the timber framing magazines....they have an email link. Try

Bob -- robert_miller at Tuesday, 06/23/98 03:08:28 GMT

Pete: Borax was used as a fire retardant in the past. The water of crystalization is what makes it effective. I have no idea how good it works. Was painted on as a water solution. Randall: The most likely reason for the surface problem you are having, is uneven scale formation during heating. Most knife makers grind a few thousands off the blade after heat-treating, or protect the surface during heating. Anti-scaling compound, thin coating of clay or flour paste, or wrap with stainless foil.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 06/23/98 03:34:08 GMT

For those of us that were unable to attend the ABANA conferance to those how were.
Please,Please,Please post info and pictures as soon as you are rested.
Some of us missed the party and are eager to get caught up.
Thanks Jock for your coverage please post more info as you have a chance. Maybe with address of the new stuff you guys saw??
Maybe Santa Fe???

Ron Hardy -- rhemail at Tuesday, 06/23/98 03:35:57 GMT

Dear Guru
I am haveing trouble locating a real good anvil. Do you know were I could look to find one.

mitchell -- mitchell at Tuesday, 06/23/98 04:19:00 GMT

Ron, sorry I've been slow posting images. Pulled an all-nighter the day we traveled down, unexpectedly was called into demonstration service on a daily basis and spent time until the wee hours every night getting what material we DID get posted on-line. To make matters worse I had to hand over information gathering to my assistant who knew nearly nothing about blacksmithing or who's who. I spent all day today working on it but kept falling asleep at the keyboard!

Anvils (Mitchell): Two of our sponsors carry Peddinghaus anvils. These are forged steel and induction hardened. Centaur Forge also carries Refflinghaus cast steel anvils. Prices around $5-$7/lb.

Good used anvils are where you find them. We just came from an ocean of wonderful used anvils at the ABANA conference in Asheville! Join your local chapter and go to the meetings. Other blacksmiths are your best source. I can fix you up with a 152 pound Peter Wright in perfect condition for $400 + shipping from VA. Less than perfect anvils can be had for less. If you are looking for good AND cheap, tell everyone you know you are looking for an anvil. There's a good chance an anvil will find you if you are patient.

-- guru Tuesday, 06/23/98 04:43:01 GMT


Way back in the beginning, one of Bertie's complaints about the shock linkage was durability. He pointed out that he is constantly replacing broken worn out shocks on his vehicals. Part of this is the severity of use, the African roads (or lack of) being rough and the vehical most likely fairly heavy (Land Rover or equivalent). At this point we have about 16 hours on the EC-JYH and have observed no problems. However, that is not saying much. The pin connections were taken apart one time for the weight addition modifications and there were some rubber deposits on the shoulder bolts. Parts were reassembled with a little silicone grease. Even though we are not doing a lot different to the shocks than what they see in their design service we ARE cycling the heck out of them! I doubt the manufacturers durability test is any more severe than what we are doing to them. After a couple hours of heavy use the shocks are warm to the touch. This is expected but I do not know if it is abnormal. I may contact a factory engineering department to see what they think.

One thing we ARE doing different than the normal application is rapidly stopping the shock while traveling at an angle. This causes the upper dust shell to strike the side of the shock housing and ring. It also rubs the paint. I suspect we need to be using shocks without an upper shell or remove those that come on the shocks. We currently have a bungy cord (Courtesy of Grant Sarver, et al) wrapped around the top of the shocks to prevent ringing.

If you build one of these machines, be forewarned, it IS an experimental design. The shock linkage was used as a "quick and dirty" substitute for more complex linkage and is fraught with unknowns. I would be tickled pink if the shocks had a life of a year, but not surprised if someone failed them in a month.

Functionality: This machine has a completely different character than other power hammer mechanisims. It hits hardest at slow speed and the power drops off as the speed increases above a certain point. The height compensation is almost miraculous. Forge at the dies, then forge at 3 inches, then forge at 7 inches all without adjustment! However, when droping down, the machine needs to miss a beat or be paused, otherwise it will not strike the work. This is a minor inconvience of the type that one adjusts to and then no longer notices. It is the character of the machine and you will not change it. The hammer turns out to be very good for hand held die work due to its predictability. This is part speed (140 SPM max) and consistant striking force. Normally mechanicals are very difficult to use for hand chasing type work. The EC-JYH is an excellent machine for hand held tooling work. Almost as good as an air hammer.

Because the shock linkage does not store energy like a spring type linkage the EC-JYH does not hit as hard as its ram capacity indicates. All this means is that you need a heavier ram for a given class of work.

-- guru Tuesday, 06/23/98 04:45:30 GMT

My ultimate goal with a JYH is to make damascus sword blades, will it do the job?

Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Tuesday, 06/23/98 10:48:58 GMT

Guru, After reading the post above from tom I set my mind to work and came up with the following ideas for an Electromagnetic q-switched linear accelerated hammer, firstly the electo magnet actually consists of 4 of 5 seperate coils, each coil has a feedback winding that is used to triger the next controller for the next stage, each electo magnet is feed by a large capacity/voltage capacitor this allows all power to be dumped instantly, (I have seen a circut that uses 12v dc and inverts it up to 1000v pulseed dc, with q-switching it is capable of of delivering a puls of around 50'000 jules of energy.)

The solinoid would consist of several pices, the ram is made up of alternate pices of steel and aluminum, this is due to the magnetic reflective properties of the aluminum (it also helps sink some of the heat) the ram is attached to a steel head (hamer) using a pice of high density synthetic material (nylon or someting) the head is also spring loaded so there is no need to use the electo magnet to return the ram before the second stroke. If cooling becomes an issue then an air compressor could be attached to the piston (this could also be used to ballance the piston and suspend it in a netural position (i saw something similar in a patent by Tesla). im sereiously considering attempting the construction of the above (just to proove it can be done 8-) ).

A question I have about your JYH, are you using standard diff oil or have you increased the viscosity?.

Also if memory serves me correctly the Ford Mk4 Zephyr has an independant rear end and has disk breaks on the inner side of the axals, this would produce a smaller unit if required.

Andrew Hooper -- administrator at Tuesday, 06/23/98 11:14:50 GMT

Dad, your web site is looking great!! I don't have time to look at it
all becuase I am at work, but I'll look again later during my lunch break!
Love ya, Molly

Molly -- mollyk at Tuesday, 06/23/98 13:39:55 GMT

Dad, your web site is looking great!! I don't have time to look at it
all becuase I am at work, but I'll look again later during my lunch break!
Love ya, Molly

Molly -- mollyk at Tuesday, 06/23/98 13:40:26 GMT

Forging laminated steel (Chris):

I've never made damascus OR forged a sword (made a small one by stock removal), but according to Jim Hrisoulas' book he has used 25# and 50# Little Giants. The EC-JYH in its current configuration is roughly equivalent. You probably want to design for replacable dies. Flat or slightly crowned dies would be best for welding as the shock linkage hits a little hard for welding. With practice you may be able to feather the hammer and not have any problem in this respect.

Like anvils, ANY power hammer is better than NO power hammer.

Electric hammer (Andrew):

I think the progressive coil is over-kill but it might let you use an ultra light ram at high velocity. I don't think the high density nylon would be suitable to hold the dies. The heavy shock loads of a hammer tend to make parts creep (even with steel dies and cast iron rams). Even with aluminium the joint design would need to be carefully looked at. If an insulator is required then one of the hard laminates would be best. Paper or cloth . . .

The capacitive dump is going the right way. Can you switch that kind of load such that the power is varied (shorter increments) so that the hammer will hit soft if you want? The treadle foot control conected to either a pot or a rotary encoder. Even a second control would probably be OK put not as convienient.

You guys work out the electrical details and we will call it the AEH (African Electric Hammer) or SAEH. (Dang! That says Society of Automotive Engineers Hammer!). I'll help with the mechanical if you need.

JYH OIL: I'm embarrased to say that I don't even know if it has ANY oil in it at this point. The vent cap was broken off and the unit may have been laying upside down! I wasn't worried about lubrication for short term use and was planning to check it once home! I'll put commonly available SAE 90 or 80w90 in it. For the loads involved this part of the machine is so overbuilt that I doubt that you could ever wear it out.

-- guru Tuesday, 06/23/98 14:11:03 GMT

Hi Molly! Just click once on post and then on "return to input form". I probably need to change this message because a lot of people have trouble with it the first time. With some versions of Microsoft IE you need to press the F5 key to refresh the post (tell Microsoft).

-- guru Tuesday, 06/23/98 14:17:11 GMT


Just where is Gladys, Virginia?
Checking out crab prices for the weekend.

Hazy, hot and humid on the right side of the Potomac (lookin' narth).


Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Tuesday, 06/23/98 19:47:51 GMT


Gladys is a little cross roads about 30 miles South of Lynchburg, VA on HWY 501. We are about 3 miles west from there.

Our plan is to be there for the Craft and Crab fest (Saturday I think, been too busy to plan details)! Won't be able to camp but will stay overnight locally. Hope to report on the doings in anvilfire! Susan has been out of town so she hasn't seen your package yet. Thanks!

Hot, humid with afternoon Tstms in Central VA and still dragin from Asheville. . .

-- guru Tuesday, 06/23/98 20:05:28 GMT

What is the actual chemical advantage in using water on your coal? I know many blacksmiths slobber water all over their coal only to inform me that it encourages the coking process. According to the man I learned from, using water will only impede the coking process (coke may only be formed once the coal has reached a high enough temperature to burn off the volatile matter), as well, water is only used to control the spreading of the fire when used on a large hearth, or to keep the finer grains of coal stiking together and prevent it from falling off the shovel too easily.

Drew Thompson -- kanehrdt at Tuesday, 06/23/98 22:21:47 GMT

Can you describe the HENROB torch unit's operation and features?

Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Tuesday, 06/23/98 23:34:17 GMT

Coal and Water (Drew):
The man you learned from is correct. Water does NOT help the coking process. It does help control the fire. Coal, being an organicly based has a wide variety of charteristics. Depending on the grade and quality of the coal you are using some coal will burn like a bonfire without an air blast. This type of coal generally needs watering to control the fire. Other types (hard coals) are hard to keep burning and require a lot of forced air.

Coal that has been wetted or been sitting out doors is hard to get started due to the higher moisture content.

The other problem with putting too much water on the fire is cracking the firepot. If you have a castiron firepot and you quench it while it is hot there is a good chance that is the end of the firepot.

-- guru Tuesday, 06/23/98 23:40:30 GMT

I only casualy looked at the HENROB torch and listened to a few minutes of the salesman's spiel. From what I understand it uses a very small highly efficient mixer and nozzle. These work at relatively low pressure (3 PSI). For cutting the oxygen jet comes from a secondary tube/nozzle so that the heating tip is the same for welding and cutting. The torched samples I saw were amazing. The torch produces a very narrow and very clean kerf. People (other than the salesman) produced very nice results. Anyone wanting to do small fancy cutting work needs this torch! I recognized its kerf in a number of works in an art/craft gallery in South Asheville (Biltmore village). I saw some examples of welded aluminum but did not actually see it welded. It looked like a pretty good product. If I'd known I was going to be asked so many questions about it I would have made a point to try it!

-- guru Tuesday, 06/23/98 23:54:13 GMT

ABANA Conference Photos Wanted

If you have some good ABANA conference photos we are looking for more to publish! We are specifically short of photos of the finished Chapter Ring Grill and Brian Russell Gate. You may e-mail scaned pics or we will scan and return originals (please send select, identified photos and return address). Photographer will be given credit and retain copyright for other use.

Mail to:
Dempsey's Forge
1684 Mitchel Mill Road
Gladys, VA 24554-9577

-- guru Wednesday, 06/24/98 00:46:21 GMT

dear Guru
Fix me up with the 152 pound Peter Wright . The $400 is not bad. but I am curious to see what the shipping cost . I live in Brownwood, Texas which is about three hours south of Dallas.

mitchell -- mitchell at Wednesday, 06/24/98 03:56:06 GMT

Done! - Checking on shipping.

-- guru Wednesday, 06/24/98 09:34:56 EDT

I have a blacksmith shop on the old farm I just bought. It appears to be complete and in good working order. I am looking for a blacksmithing school or someone I can learn with in the rhode isalnd or new england area. I have no blacksmithing experience.

Paul Darcy -- DarcyP at Wednesday, 06/24/98 14:52:13 EDT

I found the following through the ABANA links page.

Rhode Island School of Design
Continuing Education Dept
2 College St
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 454-6100 Main Number
(401) 454-6201 Continuing Education

Affectionately known as "Riz-dee" (RISD), the college offers blacksmithing classes through the Continuing Education Department. At least one blacksmithing class is held every semester. On-site lodging is available for the summer daytime classes. Call or write for a catalogue available prior to each semester.

Join ABANA (see Links page) or your local ABANA chapter. There may be a local smith that will give lessons and your best bet in finding them is through ABANA. He (or she) will also be helpful in finding fuel, supplies and such locally. There were also several other New England schools on the ABANA list. I picked the one in your state.

Finding anvilfire was a big step forward. We can help answer questions as they come up and our advertisers are the major suppliers of tools and carry many books on the subject of blacksmithing.

Let me know if you need further help.

-- guru Wednesday, 06/24/98 15:45:13 EDT

Thank you for your help.

Paul Wednesday, 06/24/98 16:15:29 EDT


Any idea when the plans for the brake drum forge are going to be posted?
The design area I am most intersted in is the blower and all the fittings, the ash trap if one is needed, and detailed info on how it should be mounted to the coal tray.
I have a friend who's a welder/fabricator, so i have already made measured drawings for the tray and hood. But, I cant move foward until I can get the blower details in order. Another option I am open to is buying the blower apparatus, but need a tip on the best place to purchase one.

Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Gary -- roeg7 at Wednesday, 06/24/98 20:21:51 EDT


Brake drum forges vary with the diameter of the brake drum. They make a pretty decent firepot but are not nearly as heavy as comercial firepots therefore will not last as long. Brake drums are typicaly a cast iron rim with a pressed or formed in steel center of 1/8" plate. A few are solid cast. Some wheels are suitable for the same purpose.

Fittings also vary acording to your budget (new or scrounged). New are not prohibitive but it all depends on your view point. Current cost runs about $18 US.

The drum I have left over from the JYH is 12" diameter (inside) and about 6" deep. It has a 3" center hole and 5" bolt circle. Fittings will be a 2" heavy steam flange (about 5/8" thick), a 2" close nipple, a 2" x 6" long nipple, a 2 x 2 x 3" reducing T, and a 3" x 6" nipple. Schedule 40 pipe is standard but 80 or 120 will last longer IF you can get them. The two long nipples have one end sawn off or may be cut from a longer piece of pipe. The 3" piece is cut about 1/2" beyond the threads and the 2"x 6" has the threads cut off OR left on depending on the blower type. A counter weighted ash dump is fabricated and hinged from the 3" pipe.

I will post a sketch tonight. Somewhere, I have photos of the last one I built and wanted to use those in an article. But since you have an immediate need we will do what we can now! The drawings will be posted under PLAN FILE, Brake drum by about midnight EDT.

For commercial items I highly recomend you order a copy of the Centaur Forge catalog. At 216 pages for $5 it is a bargain of a blacksmithing reference and an education in itself. Click on their banner and if your browser does not support Java goto the "Directory" from our main menu and that will take you to their page.

-- guru Wednesday, 06/24/98 22:47:05 EDT

Brake Drum Forge drawing posted in Plans and pictures of my first forge in 21st Century.

-- guru Thursday, 06/25/98 01:19:20 EDT

What would be the bonus of using a coal forge or a charcoal forge over a gas forge?.

Jock, do you think anyone would be interested in the plans for
constructing a gas fired charcoal retort?, primarily it consists of
a 44 galon drum, a couple of 10 galon druns (larger pipe can also be used but there is less room for error) and a bit of exhaust tubing.

It works well and makes dry clean charcoal every time.

BTW: i found a source for desil burners that would allow the construction of a desil fired forge (the running cost is about half that of LPG (in nz)) over here the price of the burner with pilot light, flameout sensor, and blower is around $800.00 NZ.

Andrew Hooper -- administrator at Thursday, 06/25/98 01:20:44 EDT

COAL vs GAS: Many users of coal claim to get a more consistant penatrating heat than with gas. With good coal it is very easy to weld but then I have had stacked pieces weld in a gas forge unintentionaly. Fuel storage is less expensive and requires no maintence. Coal forges can be very primitive compared to gas or oil and still work as well as a commercial product. Charcoal has some of the benifits of coal some of gas. It is easier to burn your steel with charcoal (my experiance) but like gas it burns much cleaner. Smiths that are used to coal ash do not like the white charcoal ash that is lighter and seems to travel further.

OIL vs OTHERS: Oil needs better venting than gas. It is generally cheaper here too. Burners are a little messier than gas (if gas doesn't light or leaks there is no mess). Many prefer oil forges over all other but I think everyone prefers what they have. I'd like to experiment with some oil forges.

Everyone is always intrested in plans! There was a fellow in the US mid west a few years back building wood fired charcoal retorts. Claimed to back feed the wood gas into the firebox and reduce fuel consumption. We tried to track him down but it was too long ago.

You can e-mail OR snail mail your plans and I will scan if necessary and post with a credit. CAD plans must be in DXF format for me to convert. I can handle most PC graphics formats. I don't use acrobat files because every version of that product that I've tried was buggy or crashed my system. . .

-- guru Thursday, 06/25/98 09:17:51 EDT


I was tired when I posted the Brake Drum Forge info here AND in plans so I overlooked some points.

The 2x2x3 reducing "T" can be a plain 2" T. I like the reducing T and put the big end down so that debris doesn't get jambed in it. The counter balanced ash dump "door" is nice too but can be replaced by a simpler rotating light metal door (some of the old commercial fire pots worked this way). The posted design doesn't include a grate or clinker breaker. I'll add a detail sketch with some options later today.

-- guru Thursday, 06/25/98 10:30:55 EDT

THURSDAY - Going visiting this afternoon and then again this weekend (Bruce's SCA Craft & Crab fest up in Maryland, officialy Camp Fenby). Will post pics and articals in the NEWS (Scoop the Washington Post :). THEN, I'll work on more ABANA pics!

Just a warning, don't expect instant responses for a few days!

ABANA Conference Photos Wanted

If you have some good ABANA conference photos we are looking for more to publish! We are specifically short of photos of the finished Chapter Ring Grill and Brian Russell Gate. You may e-mail scaned pics or we will scan and return originals (please send select, identified photos and return address). Photographer will be given credit and retain copyright for other use.

Mail to:
Dempsey's Forge
1684 Mitchel Mill Road
Gladys, VA 24554-9577

-- guru Thursday, 06/25/98 12:57:30 EDT

I recently received a small old post vise from a friend. The problem with it is that one of the plates that are halfway down the legs (which hold the lower end of the front jaw in place) is broken. It appears as though the vise is made from wrought iron and not mild steel. Can I stick weld mild steel to wrought iron in order to repair this old vise? Also, the outer jaw seems to have been cut partially off. If I can weld mild steel to wrought iron, I thought I would get some square bar stock to rebuild the jaw. Any suggestions ??


Paul Bilodeau -- pbilodeau at Thursday, 06/25/98 20:31:09 EDT

Thank you for the quick response to my questions regarding the brake drum forge. I seem to have caught the blacksmith bug.(hobby only for now).Im sure I will be posting many more questions on the guru"s den. So, If you ever have any questions on goldsmithing, gem stones, or jewelry making, please feel free to ask.

Gary -- roeg7 at Thursday, 06/25/98 20:55:44 EDT

Gary: Thanks for the offer, I'll put you in my list of sources for odd (for me) questions.

Post vise repair(Paul):

Most old post vises were made by anvil manufacturers using the same techniques as anvils. Forged wrought iron bodies with some steel. The jaws have a piece of steel forge welded to the face and then hardened. The body of the vise is usually wrought iron and it can be arc welded. Wrought iron torches and welds a little odd due to the layers of slag inculsion. It arc welds but is hard to prevent undercutting. On heavily rusted wrought the slag layers can be a real problem. Items with just a little surface rust aren't too bad. Every piece of wrought acts a little different to another in this reguard. Be prepared to grind out bad welds and try again.

OBTW - Mild steel and higher carbon steel (replacement parts) can be forge welded to the wrought iron.

-- guru Friday, 06/26/98 12:15:27 EDT

Thanks for the information in such a short time. I've just started learning the blacksmithing trade and have never tried forge welding. It sounds like a great idea, but probably WAY over my head as a first forge welding project. By the way, the vise has only very minor surface rust with no pitting. The surfaces are very clean and smooth so, I'll try to stick weld it and hope for the best. THANKS AGAIN !!

Paul Bilodeau -- pbilodeau at Friday, 06/26/98 13:22:45 EDT

I'm thinking of making a small power-hammer. I need to know if I can
stack 10 pieces of 8" round X 4" thick on top of each other,welding
around each joint,and get the same anvil effect as one solid piece of
8" round X 40" long? Thanks in advance.

Mark Damman -- ddamman at Friday, 06/26/98 17:42:52 EDT

Stacked anvils have the mass but little rebound. Rebound is much less important in a power hammer and the effect is a lot like a cast iron anvil which is also common in power hammers. For a low budget hammer this is a great way to get that big chunk of iron/steel. The better to fit between the pieces the better the anvil will be. If you dress the pieces so there are no rough edges it will help.

The anvil on the EC-JYH was two 12" diameter pieces of 4" plate. I found them already lightly welded in the shop's scrap pile and used them as is. Since I upped the ram weight it is a little light but seems to work OK.

Thanks for the complement. We are working every day to make it the BEST blacksmiths web site on the planet!

-- guru Friday, 06/26/98 19:14:49 EDT

My revised standard JYH is going to have a 91# hammer. I was considering using four pieces of rail welded to form a 1" hole in the center, with schedule 80 square pipe heat shrunk around the mass and tack welded to keep it all secure. Am I loopy or can this work?

Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Friday, 06/26/98 23:54:34 EDT

Could somebody help? I am trying to do a little research on the blacksmithing process of the middle ages. I am having a bit of trouble though and am posing this question to the experts I am guessing are logged on to this site. My question is this; What exactly did the smith do to transform his molten iron into actual steel used for sword blades ect. Any reading I have done on this only confuses me further, I sure would appreciate any help anyone could send.
Thanks, Scott.

scott -- scotty at Saturday, 06/27/98 00:55:44 EDT

I'm a 35 yr. old male. Not a bright eyed teenager. I live in S.E. Okla. Krebs, Ok. 74554. I've got blacksmithing tools from an elderly relative and no blacksmithing experience. I'm interested in training in my area. Also information on some basic blacksmithing tools that might help me identify what tools I have. Any information would be appreciated.
Dewey M. Wills

Dewey M. Wills -- dwills at Saturday, 06/27/98 01:24:18 EDT

That is about like asking "what do people eat for breakfast?", but here goes:
In the Norse countries, meteoric iron was prized because it had a decent carbon content and nickle added, it also was about the most homogenous steel available at that point.
In most other cases, the molten metal was steel, not iron. The smelting process allows for some carbon control, even in crude situations. The norse, again, would combine low and high carbon steel and twist and weld them into a sword body, then weld a steel edge to the "damascus".
But the major point in this is that they started with steel, not iron.

Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Saturday, 06/27/98 04:09:10 EDT

Chris, RE: Welded rail for JYH:

Are you speaking of the anvil or ram? Parallel vertical pieces of rail should make a pretty good anvil but you are going to need a heavy distribution plate on top or heavy welds on the rail. Remember when welding rail that it is a high alloy medium carbon steel. Do not quench it!

Sounds like you are making an anvil with a deep hardy hole. Most power hammer anvils have a center hole for special tooling that rarely gets installed. I'd recomend making the hole bigger than 1" and putting that hole in your distribution plate. That way anything thats gets in won't get stuck.

I'm not sure about making the ram this way. Sounds like messy design if you know what I mean.

-- guru Saturday, 06/27/98 06:23:38 EDT


I hate to contradict Chris but in medieval times wrought iron (no carbon) was the most common starting material. Once the iron become liquid in a Catalan style furnace it has absorbed too much carbon and is only good for casting as brittle cast iron. Methods of reducing the carbon (the puddling process, then Bessemer) only came much later.

Steel of the period came from three sources. Meteroic iron, which though an alloy iron has little carbon and does not harden well. Imported "Damascus" steel which actually originated in India as "wootz", was traded through out Europe and Asia from late Roman times. And "Blister" steel which is wrought iron converted to steel by heavily case hardening and then refining by forging and folding and welding. Metoric iron could also be converted to steel this way.

Blister steel was in common use until the 1700's when ???? discovered the crucible steel process. He melted blister steel in a crucible producing an homogenous product.

I'd get into more details but I'm late leaving for Bruce Blackistones!

-- guru Saturday, 06/27/98 06:38:32 EDT

Dewey: Go to the LINKS page, go to ABANA, then their LINKS page and in the paragraph at the top there is a link to SCHOOLS. This list will have the closest school.

Under 21st Century I have a brief artical on "How-to" learn blacksmithing.

Join ABANA or your local Chapter, find other smiths. They will be most helpful!

Gotta run!

-- guru Saturday, 06/27/98 06:41:40 EDT

Dear Guru-wisest of most knowledgeable Gurus,kind and dear man, Is there a simple test one can do to validate whether or not a piece of wrought is indeed wrought!! I was told at the conference,by one fellow smith, one way was to put the piece in a vise and bend it.The person claimed if it were wrought iron it should brake.Another clained if you looked at the surface one could see layering and distortion. Then again the same person clained if it were high quality wrought iron both tests would fail one at identifing the real wrought iron.(Could the real Wrought Iron please stand up)!Also another elderly gentleman Smith clained there three grades of the stuff;single fine,double fine and triple fine. You see I did my homework but unfortunately I copied my my fellow buddies papers!!!

BUB -- hagiumet at Saturday, 06/27/98 08:44:11 EDT

First off, I want to congratulate Jock for building something REALLY new. I didn't think the shock absorbers would work at all. (I'll take my crow well done, thank you! I hate eating crow!) His hammer turned out to be a fine machine.

I think Jock and I are in agreement on just about everything about both hammers. Here are my observations: The EC-JYH was a friendly, well-mannered machine. Had a very easy motion and worked smoothly. Without whip it would probably be better to raise the weight to 100 lbs. or so. The ability adjust to the work height was fantastic for tool work. Speed control was very good, but force control not. Had the strangest characteristic of hitting lighter the faster it ran. Also had a "pushy" kind of blow that didn't bounce the tool out of position. Might be worthy of further development. If you have the resources, it would be a fine addition to any shop.

The WC-JYH (beam hammer) hit harder (even with a 35 lb. ram) and faster. This hammer would be much better for drawing work out. It could also be feathered down to such a light blow that you could draw out a fine needle point. Not a lot of room for tall tools without making adjustments in the linkage. Would only handle a total height (work and tool) of about five inches. This hammer probably requires more operator skill to get the most out of. WC hammer was much easier to construct, I still think guides and the machine work are beyond a lot of smiths. No one would be disappointed with one of these in their shop.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Saturday, 06/27/98 12:34:04 EDT

how can i build a forge

jim -- jsbarra at Saturday, 06/27/98 18:27:22 EDT

A clock maker in england discovered the crucible method and was very succesful at keeping it a secret, til a drunk got the foreman to let him in on a rainy night, presumably to weather the storm and sleep off the liquor, but the "drunk" was an industrial spy, who carried the secret to the rest of the world.
And I do humbly stand corrected, I should have explained the blister method and then said they started with steel.

Chris Kilpatrick -- kilpe4 at Sunday, 06/28/98 01:31:38 EDT

I found a piece of scrap at the local junk emporium that was about 4" wide by 3.5" deep by 6.5" tall with a 2.5" "rail" depending from the bottom and a 1" by 2" by 12" bar sticking up from the top. Was looking to weld the 1x2 to a 12" piece of rail and use the rail flange to keep the alignment through the stroke, also considered cutting a 12"x2.5"x1.5" piece and welding it to the front of the 12"x1"x2" to add weight and adjust the center of gravity forwardfor the hammer.

Chris -- kilpe4 at Sunday, 06/28/98 01:37:15 EDT

Guru, Just a quick thought. How do you think the average diff-head cast steel housing would hold up if stripped down and used as a coal forge?.

Andrew Hooper -- administrator at Sunday, 06/28/98 02:03:43 EDT

Hey where are you? Guess you haven't recovered from the party yet. Tell me, were the crabs good? I want to complement you and Jim on your great job in Ashville. I wouldn't have believed the old hippy could take such nice pictures. How many were upside down? Hey Jim do you know why you should ring your anvil while working? If not let me know. There is a great story about keeping the devil away.
Take care and keep up the good work.
Rick http://www.

Rick -- rickyc at Sunday, 06/28/98 13:47:49 EDT

Jock: Looking for a set of working drawings of a forging die to make a fish tail scroll. I have machine shop capabilites and a 25 lb. Little Gaint Hammer.

Dennis -- deriley at Sunday, 06/28/98 20:40:09 EDT

Wrought iron:

There were indeed different grades, including crude muck bar nearly straight from the puddling furnace. Best quality of all was known as Norway iron and was made by the Landcashire process and contained almost no slag. There was also welded scrap, which might include some steel or even cast iron depending on what the grader did the night before. Bending test: GOOD wrought iron should be able to be bent back on itself cold without breaking. Best way to test a piece is to forge it. With a nice buttery yellow heat it should move easier than anything you've ever forged. Most wrought iron will show a distinct grain.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Sunday, 06/28/98 22:29:11 EDT


Why we should ring our anvils while we work? So the customer knows we're working! (grin) Only reason I ever heard.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 06/29/98 06:53:08 EDT

Oh enlightened ones, I'm back again with another question. I do appreciate the feedback I received on my last question reguarding Smithing in the middle ages.
Here goes.
I read an article in Muse magazine about a sword smith by the name of Alfred Pendray and his work with Damascus steel while keeping with the limited resources available to Smiths in the late middle ages. I'm still doing my work here and am still trying to get a handle on this process so of course this leads me to another question. Ini the article Mr. Pendray (Pendragon) stated that iron ore had impurities needed to form the Damascus pattern and that green leaves were useful (the Hydrogen contained within the water content) to help the carbon from the charcoal mix with the iron.
Now my question is this:
What exactly are these impurities within the iron he is speaking of that makes this process of Damascus all the easier. Are we talking Nickel? Dirt? Goats Milk? I sure don't know.
Also, if someone has the time could you please explain briefly the method one would use to control the content of carbon in your steel. I'm not too sure about slagging off the impurties and yes, I am still a little confused.
Once again, I appreciate anyone able to offer enlightenment and doubly thank those who helped out already.

Scott Fieldhouse -- scotty at Monday, 06/29/98 09:36:43 EDT

Once upon a time a long time ago. A village smith was shoeing a horse at his open air shop. His large anvil ringing with each
blow to the shoes.
Standing quietly in the shade of the large oak tree, the horse waited patiently. The devil , passing by, heard the ringing of the
anvil and decided to see what was going on.
He stood watching as the blacksmith made this wonderful set of new shoes for the horse.
The smith then proceeded to nail the shoes onto the hooves of the horse. The horse stood quietly as this was done, and
when the smith finished his job, the owner of the horse mounted the steed and took him for a jog down the road.
The horse was noticeably happy with his new shoes, and pranced and became very playful.
Taking note of this, the devil being a hooved creature decided that he should have a set of these wonderful shoes for himself.
He approached the smith and told him to prepare a set of shoes for him.
The smith realizing that this was the devil himself, made a set of shoes to small, trimmed the hooves to short and drove several
close nails in each of the devils hooves.
He also clinched them quite heavily so they would not come off easily. The devil in terrible pain, lame and very sore footed
went running away and suffered for many days.
So to this day when ever the devil hears an anvil ringing he makes a point to stay as far away as possible.
So remember my smithing friends, when ever you are in the shop, even if it is just to plan your day or sweep the floor,
and by all means before you light the fire. Be sure to ring your anvil at least one time before you start to work.
You will have better luck , cleaner fire and most of all you will burn fewer of your pieces.
I read this some where many years ago. It is ,I'm sure not word for word correct, but solely my version of
the story. May your luck be good and your profits fair.
Rick http://www.

Rick -- rickyc at Monday, 06/29/98 12:49:22 EDT

Whew! Where to start? Go away for two days and look what happens! Thanks for the help Grant! Bottom up looks good from here!

THE MARCKLAND VIKINGS: Fun folks! No combat to photograph (typical snafu) but lots of fun and blacksmithing! Lots of odd forges (both coal and gas). Will post a page in the NEWs later this week!

LEAVES IN MAKING STEEL (Scott): Sounds like the author was talking about REAL Damascus (Wootz made in India, traded in Middle East and sold to Europeans who called it Damascus). The modern product invented by by the Europeans trying to reproduce true Damasus is laminated steel a distinction I always try to make but almost no one else does. . . Wootz is made in a muti-step crucible process and was decribed correctly for the FIRST time in an artical by Wallace M. Yater in the Anvil's Ring (Spring 82, Summer 83, Winter 83/84).

NOTE: I spoke to a fellow this weekend that had the Japanese swordsmith's technique of making steel explained to him in detail and was told THAT was how Damascus was made! Another product altogether that looks sort of like Damascus but is NOT!

Ancient Damascus (Wootz) was made in a crucible by a process of decarburazation of white cast iron and careful heating and cooling cycles.

Modern Laminated Damascus is made by forge welding alternating layers of Iron/Steel and Nickel then maniplutating them to produce specific patterns.

Japanese Sword Steel is made by carburizing wrought iron in a forge, letting it melt, quenching, breaking up and selecting the best lumps and them forge welding them onto a bar of wrought iron. This is furture refined by "folding" and welding hundreds of times.

-- guru Monday, 06/29/98 14:28:54 EDT

Wrought iron: As Grant mentioned there is no really good single test. The spark test will tell you the fastest but will not tell you the quality (Sparks from a grinder will have almost NO branches and heavy ends).

Knowing how the product was created is the best start and this takes some study. Many blacksmithing books describe the processes in detail.

Old heavily rusted wrought is easy to ID. It will have grain like wood and look a lot like rotted wood! When it has gotten in this condition it is practically worthless.

Softness is one test but wrought DOES work harden so you can't be sure just because it isn't dead soft. Low carbon steel that is super annealed can be folded back on itself and cold forged almost as easily as some alloy steels when hot!

Identifying metals in the shop takes practice and experiance. Playing with some samples hands on is the only way to get a feel for the look and difference.

-- guru Monday, 06/29/98 14:54:22 EDT

FORGE HOW-TO (Jim): It depends on what you want to forge, what your fuel of choice is and what resources and capabilities you have.

IF you want to go primitive, read my historical fiction piece A Blacksmith of 1776 in 21st Century. I also have a photo of the parts of a bellows I built that should be sufficient "plans" for anyone capable of the job. A little less primitive is the "brake drum" forge I just posted in plans. If you want to build a semi-professional coal forge and have welding equipment then there are plans on the Blacksmith's Journal page (I should have a link but haven't gotten to it) and I think, METAL WEB NEWS.

If gas (propane) is your fuel of choice then goto our links page and look at the plans posted on Ron Reil's page. I have a crude gas burner posted in plans and will have real plans in the near future.

There are almost as many different kinds of forges as there are smiths as almost everyone has built his own at one time or the other. Basically all you need is a place to hold the fire and a source of air to increase the temperature. Primitive forges were no-more than a hole int the ground and some guys blowing through pipes! Did the job!

-- guru Monday, 06/29/98 15:10:44 EDT

Dennis -- deriley at

If you're talking about what I think you're talking about then all you want is a basicly flat bottom die with a portion ground to about a 5 degree taper. If you put the taper at the end of the die (so you look at the end when you're working) and give it some fullness you can spread almost any bar to almost any width.

GRANT -- NAKEDANVIL at USA.NET Monday, 06/29/98 22:18:21 EDT

Grandpa...thanks for the info on the bubble effect I have been getting on some blades after heat treating. It seems to show up more on the ones that were forged and ground too thin along the packed cutting edge. I will try using the materials you suggested to protect the metal. Again thanks for the info and a special thanks to the Guru for providing a place such as this for the exchange of ideas and information. R. Guess, Fernandina Beach, Fla.

Randall Guess -- rguess at Monday, 06/29/98 22:37:30 EDT

I've been welding for about one year, I use a miller mig 130. For the life of me I can't seem to stop warpage. My partner, an accomplished woodworker and myself are constantly banging our heads. Are those large platen tables with holdowns the key??? I will be talking to you again soon because we just purchased our first forge(gas) used. We haven't hooked it up-- is firebrick covered with steel a suitable base?? thank you

joe colosi -- milkdsgn at Monday, 06/29/98 22:56:05 EDT

WARPAGE and WELDING: Yep! Does happen. Several things help.

1) I like big fillets but small ones warp less. Proper welding technique including rod/wire selection, amperage and polarity can produce deep penetrating welds with small joints and fillets that warp less. Good welding references OR your welding supplier will point you in the right direction.

2) Balanced welding. Weld joint filler metal shrinks a lot when it cools and pulls the work. A weld on the opposite side of the joint can balance this stress and produce a straight piece. When tacking work, watch the movement of free parts. The final weld is going to try to do the same thing. Every job is a little different so you have to study each case. Eventually you learn what works best and just do it but starting out it takes some study. Slow down and observe your work. Speed and efficiency while producing good work come from LOTS of practice.

3) Continous seams are bad and should only be used on small joints or where sealing is required. "Stitch" welding is specified by weldment designers and should be applied by as neede by the welder too! One inch beads with a one inch (or more) gap are common. If applied to both sides of a joint they should alternate so that they do not coincide. Although this produces a little ripple in the plate being welded it distributes the load more evenly.

Weld plattens are a wonderful and often neccessary tool. A weldment tied to one will only be flat until it is unclamped! You COULD heat the part to a low red heat to releive the stresses while it is held straight on the platten but this is often impractical. Parts can also be straightened ont the weld platten AFTER welding and cooling. . .

GAS FORGE: Depending on the forge's insulation you could use it on a picnic table! Some get rather hot and any heat resistant surface will do (metal work bench). Firebrick should be unneccessary.

-- guru Tuesday, 06/30/98 00:53:02 EDT

FISH TAIL FLAIR: Grant covered this pretty well. However, if you are looking at doing work such as was demonstrated on the EC-JYH by Josh Greenwood all you need is flat dies (the bigger the better) AND an air hammer or machine of similar control. NOTE: Your 25# LG is much too fast (and often unpredictable) for this type of hand held die work.

This work was done mostly with hand held tools. Special hand held fullering tools were used. These were made in a variety of widths and lenghts. They have the cross section of a parabloic fuller with the ends rounded in the same cross section. These round ends produce smooth work as they are moved under the hammer.

-- guru Tuesday, 06/30/98 01:06:33 EDT

Speaking of congradulations on an original design (thanks Grant!), the West Coast (less than) $50 hammer (Grant or Jack's idea), uses a mechanism that could be applied to EVERY treadle hammer ever designed and convert them to POWER!

A belt (or straight piece of) is attached to the helve (or arm of a treadle) and passes in front of a small motorized pulley. A tensioner forces the belt into the pulley to pull down on the helve and then is released (manually but could be automatic). DEAD SIMPLE! But then most great ideas are!

To make this idea work there must be a spring between the belt and the helve to accelerate the helve slowly eles the motor will stall with the sudden application of load. The West Coast team used bungy cords but a spring (similar to the one already ON most treadle machines) would work also. It could be coil OR leaf spring.

I'll post a sketch. You guys can figure out how to apply it!


-- guru Tuesday, 06/30/98 01:18:51 EDT

Guru, Have you seen the bull hammer in action?, I guess it uses compressed air?, do you know if the ram drives the hammer down or if the hammer is driven up by the ram then allowed to freefall ?, i also guess it is possible to controll the fall rate with the foot controll.

Regards, Andrew.. PS I hope you received the drawings of the forged gas burner.

Andrew Hooper -- administrator at Tuesday, 06/30/98 04:11:01 EDT

BULL HAMMER: Yes, I've seen and run the Bull Hammer. The cylinder is double acting. The ram is lifted by air and then pulled down by air. Hits very hard for the ram size but is also very controllable. They have a demo trick where they stick a match out of the edge of its box about an inch and then drive it back into the box a little at a time with the hammer!

The KA-##'s designed by Grant Sarver are also pull down hammers and they have dual cylinders. The Big Blue has the cylinder above the ram and is also double acting.

Each hammer has its good points and its bad points. The Bull folks are an advertiser so my opinion might be colored in that reguard, but the other hammers are made by old friends. Hard to be objective OR critical. All these hammers require an external air compressor (the bigger the better but they WILL run intermitantly on a small (2Hp) portable air compressor).

The KA-##'s are built the heaviest and have dovetailed dies (the others have bolt on dies). They (currently) have a simple control system where the ram follows the motion of your foot. This "non-repeating" system seems to be percieved as a problem for some people but if you have used hammers for detailed work you know that you are constantly working the foot control.

The BULL has a feature rich control system that not only repeats but has a "memory" and will hit the same preset height height if you want it to. Like the KA=##'s it is a pull down machine with the ram close to the guides. The BULL and the KA's also share a small foot print taking up no more room than an anvil on a stand! They both brag that one man can move and setup their hammers.

The Big Blue has a repeating control system that makes it operate more like a self contained air hammer than the other two. It has a deep "C" frame therefore is a larger machine. For certain types of work (forging plate) the deep throat depth is essential.

All three of these hammers work well but they are not built like the heavy duty industrial machines which in turn are very expensive. However, they are also all priced right and very competitive when looked at on a cost/unit weight basis. They are all machines designed for the times.

Andrew, yes I got your drawings and will post them shortly.

-- guru Tuesday, 06/30/98 11:02:07 EDT

Thenks Jock,
Im in the process of trying to figure out the mechanics of the potential electromagnetic hammer, I had a look at the images of the bull and wondered if it would be possible to fire the piston up the controll its decent with a valve arrangement and a ram. This may give better results than firing the ram downwards, (no to mention the fact that it
would be possible to build the one base and power it with, electricity, air, steam or manually 8-).

Andrew Hooper -- administrator at Tuesday, 06/30/98 19:00:35 EDT

Hammers that rely on gravity only, work, but are not as efficient users of materials as other designs AND they require considerable drop distance. My idea of a prototype electric hammer had a simple coil spring to raise or return the ram. Later, a more complex control system could raise, hold the ram, drive it, return it and stop its upward motion. Although the electro magnetics are not my field I think I could figure out a simple system with the few old books I've got. My problem is lack of experiance in this area. When I first thought of a magnetic hammer I was just trying to simplify the motor/motion arrangement as much as possible. Why have bearings, pulleys, clutches and such when you don't need them?

To me the big problem is the isolation of the die from the ram so that it doesn't become magnetized. Having the die either temporarily OR permanently magnetized is a big problem. Scale still sticks to magnetized parts and as you mentioned having your work wizzing up and down at 300+ strokes per minute could get rather exciting.

Universal design is good but it almost always fails as it is never the best for any given arrangement.

Lets keep kicking the idea around. Maybe I need to post drawings of my idea with the problems I've identified listed. Then others could add their possible problem list. Identifying the problem(s) is half the task.

-- guru Tuesday, 06/30/98 20:02:52 EDT

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