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April 2004 Archive

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J. Dempsey  <webmaster> Rev. 7/98, 3/99, 5/2k, 6/2k, Friday, 04/06/01 16:43:25 GMT

New Cucrible: Hey as some of you know im gonning to give casting a try.

Well my cucible came in today and I know the dangers of dropping a curcible full of molten brass or aluminum. Now heres my question

Would it be ok to reherse my pouring with water. I know it is important to keep all moisture out of curcible. So would this be bad?
- Dan Crabtree - Wednesday, 03/31/04 19:25:31 EST


NO! If even the tinyest droplet of moisture remains in the pores of the crucible, it WILL explode!

VERY bad idea! (Sorry for the shouting, but I don't want you to get hurt. I've had a lead pot explode at me and it is NOT fun. My guardian angel was working overtime that day.)
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/31/04 19:39:36 EST

Yes I was in Bavaria a couple of weeks ago and noticed the barn with the multiplicity of hinges on it. No I don't have a good photo of it--or the ironwork on the Neues Rathaus in Munich, etc. (BTW I prefer the hinges used in Ludwig II's Neuschwanstein, and the company that made them in the 1870's is still in business in Munich according to the guide!)

Just back from Chile today.

Thomas the tired
- ThomasP - Wednesday, 03/31/04 19:57:18 EST

Paw Paw: Thanks alot! I always check with what I do before I do it. this time it turned out to be a good decision. Well Im gonna head over to the shop now that i got my awnser and bake and make some aluminum ignots.... I got an 8x6 storage area filled with my grandpas beer cans i gotta go through. Thanks again Paw Paw.
- Dan Crabtree - Wednesday, 03/31/04 20:01:32 EST


Make sure none of those cans have any liquid in them, or you can have the same Vesuvius type problems.
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/31/04 21:52:37 EST

Good point. I didnt start smelting tonight but im pretty sure i got all the moisture out from shipping. I put it in forge for about 30 mins with the blower on very low (kinda hard to get a good blast im only using a air compressor) Then I put it in furnace for about another 30 mins until the bottom got red then it was time to call it a night. I got it out of furnace and brought it inside and put it in a dry spot.

Now I got a question.

When using a curcible do you heat it up until its red hot or do you put some metal in at first. Or can someone direct me to a good instructional site on casting. Also do you think ill be able to get the furnace to a smelting heat with an air compressor? Its the built in type that auto shops use (my smithy is outside the auto shop). Also im using a type of flowerpot furnace. Its a small trashcan filled with concrete and a cavity in it with a pipe entering at the bottom for air. If your woundering what type of curcible i have its the 7 lb cucible from centaur forge.
- Dan Crabree - Wednesday, 03/31/04 23:01:49 EST

Dan, :

There are a lot of foundry sites on the internet that would be better able to answer your questions than I can. Some of them are:

More than you wanted? (grin)
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/31/04 23:49:31 EST

Thanks guys. I'll e-mail him and see what he has to say. (sorry about the double post)
Stephan P - Thursday, 04/01/04 03:28:35 EST

Dan, Casting and stuff:
Don't use cans... they don't provide hardly any metal. I refer you to, as Paw Paw has. It is arguably THE best home foundry site on the web.

Concrete is a poor insulator and tends to explode when heated. What are you going to use for fuel? The compressor will not (in all likelihood) provide enough air; you will need some sort of blower, and some real sort of insulation.

Also, there is a difference between "casting" and "smelting"; casting is the pouring of liquid metal into a mold to create an object, whereas smelting is the refining of ore into usable metal.

You'll also need an ingot mold...

Sorry to dump all this stuff on you, but I have found that in casting, even more than smithing, PREPARATION IS THE KEY! Or as the SEALs say, (the 6 Ps) Proper Previous Planning Prevents Poor Performance! I wish you nothing but the best of luck in your casting and forging endeavors, and look forward to seeing your successes :)
Backyard Metalcasting link
T. Gold - Thursday, 04/01/04 03:34:27 EST

Metal Casting: Dan Crabtree:

Let me echo a few things that T. Gold said. Concrete, as a lliner for a melt furnace, is a risk I wouldn't take. Concrete has water in its chemical makeup, and may very well explode when heated to foundry temperatures, even for aluminum. A proper castable refractory, like A.P. Green Kastolite or similar, will not explode if cured properly. The chemical water in the mixture must be fired out in successive steps of increasing heat until it is all removed and the mixture is chemically free of water.

It is possible to use concrete as a liner, IF AND ONLY IF, the mixture is modified to include appropriate refractory materials, entrained air and minimal moisture. One way is to add perlite, vermiculite or mullite frit as refractories and rock salt to bind moisture and then mix very, very dry and ram into place. A long curing process finishes it off and you have a poor, but serviceable, refractory concrete. Much less trouble to get the proper castable refractory and use it, or use one of the fiber blanket refractories such as Kaowool. The Anvilfire Store sells Kaowool and ITC-100, a reflective refractory coating to improve the durability of the Kaowool.

A foundry furnace built with Kaowool and ITC-100 will work way better than anything else, use much less fuel to get to heat, and be easier to build. Look in the iForge Demos for a demo on forge repair and on casting for some more information.

Dave Gingery has a small book on backyard casting using aluminum in a homemade furnace that is workable. C.W. Ammons has written a couple books on casting, one is The Caster's Bible. For historical perspective, read Bienvenutto Cellini's book Treatises on Goldsmithing and Sculpture, published by Dover Books.

Aluminum cans are fine for casting, but easy to burn up since they are so thin. The paint on them can be toxic to breathe, too. Old intake manifolds from cars, transmission cases, etc are made from cast aluminum, so you KNOW the metal is suitable for casting. Again, there is some noxious fumes released when melting car parts, but good safety practices will make it reasonably safe.

For firing a melt furnace, that air compressor is going to be a nuisance. It is designed to put out about 20 to 25 cubic feet a minute at HIGH pressure. For a furnace, you wan thigh volume like 85-150 cfm, at low pressure like 16-32 inches of water column pressure. Big difference in parameters, yes? Go with what works, don't frustrate yourself with what will not work well.

You didn't say what fuel you were going to use. Propane is the easiest, and safe if done right. Coal or charcoal will work, but then the furnace must be big enough to contain the solid fuel as well as the crucible. BTW, the correct spelling is crucible and it is pronounced "crew-si-bull". You said you have the #7 from Centaur, which is a fine crucible. 7 pounds of molten aluminum has a lot of BTUs of retained heat, so be very careful with it. You MUST have proper fitted lifting tongs and a pouring shank. Please read the iForge demo on casting for some safety tips on set up. It may save you some irreplaceable flesh.

A new crucible should be "conditioned" by slowly heating once or twice to near melting heat with no metal in it, and cooling slowly. This tempers the crucible and reveals any flaws before it is full of dangerous molten metal.

DO NOT preheat the crucible before introducing metal to it. This can crack the crucible and result in a dangerous metal explosion. A charge of metal should be put in the crucible before heating, and brought up to melting at a reasonable pace. Then additional metal is introduced to make up the remaing space in the crucible. It is put in a piece or two at a time, CAREFULLY, with tongs and safety gear.

When adding metal to molten metal, it is a very good idea to preheat the new metal a good bit in the exhaust flame from the furnace. This reduces the temperature differential between the two, eliminates any moisture and burns off some other contaminants before the new metal goes into the crucible. These are the things you MUST know before you start, if you are to do this without losing your flesh. Get the books, read and study them FIRST.

I will stress again the importance of safety gear and knowledge. Those are the only things that will make this a safe experience. A full face shield, flash glasses underneath that, full leather boots, leather leggings, leather or asbestos apron, asbestos gloves or mittens, leather gauntlets or welder's jacket, and a hat. Nothing less than that. You should also have a respirator rated for organic and metallic vapors, a burn kit, a sand pit, a helper and ALL the proper lifting and manipulating tools.

While casting has been done since the dark ages, it is wise to remember that folks back then didn't live too long. If you want to live to a ripe old age, then follow ALL the safety guide lines. YOu don't want to be injured or die from metal poisoning, burns, infection or anything else that can be avoided.
vicopper - Thursday, 04/01/04 09:15:25 EST

Remember my favorite quote from Uncle Atli's Very Thin Book of Wisdom: "Death, while historically accurate, is not a desirable outcome."
Alan-L - Thursday, 04/01/04 14:05:56 EST

hello everybody
John Meneses - Thursday, 04/01/04 15:46:59 EST

blade steels : I would sigest that if you want to make blades read up on what the terms are (ie 5160 or 1060) and what each alloy can and can't do well. Then find one or two alloy you like to work with and stick with them! carbon in steel is important but can be affected by other things in the alloy
(ie 4140 is some what low in carbon but gets darn hard)
see the link for more info on steels

to get them I buy all my O1 from online metals(go to the store page) and my 5160 from a local spring shop. any other steels I need (for pattern welding or blade makeing) I order from admiral steel or one of the knife makeing places (kovel, texas knikemaker, Jantz, sheffield, etc) who ever is cheepest at the time.
I would think you could get a anvil new cheeper than you could have one cast, most of the blacksmithing places have NEW anvils. if you still want have one cast ... are you going to have it cast in steel? what alloy? are you going to have it heat treated? what hardness are you going to get it at?
A good anvil is a tool and there is a lot more to it than a big hunk of metal.

I find that there are two way to do this that work well for me, I Short 5-15 min. demo makeing something like a leaf or a quick face in the end of the bar, I find these work best for demos done at a posted time, one thing is Never stop talking telling folks what you are doing cracking jokes, what ever just keep them listining. the other is a longer demo 1/2 hour -1 and 1/4 somthing like a rose, a rams head, or something like that, I find that folks stay about 10mins and leave then they come back latter to see how it turned out, this kind I find that you don't have to talk as much adn just ask for questions now and then. one thing I have not figured out is how to corect parents that are explaining things Wrong to there kids with out offending them. (look seen he is puting the metal in the anvil to heat it up so that he can bend it, look he is hammering it on the forge, see thats how they make horse shoes. beleave it or not I realy heard a parent telling a 10 year old that!)
giveing miss infomation to kids is one of my pet peevs, is it so hard to ask the guy that is doing it in front of you?
lognst post I have done it a long time
blade steels
MP - Thursday, 04/01/04 16:57:38 EST

Correcting wrong 'parents': When I hear that stuff I usually start to ask the other kids if they want to play a guessing game. Then ask what are the 5 most important tools of a smith. This way I can correct the parents with out seeming to step on toes etc and also keeps that one or two folks who have the spark interested. And I always always say the #1 Numero Uno Primo best tool is the soft tissue between the ears.......

Or if I am feeling particulary crumeodgeonly ( even tho I am still young) I just tell who ever it is that they are wrong and to stop telling lies about my work.... (grin) The looks you get are worth it.......
Ralph - Thursday, 04/01/04 18:10:00 EST

Correcting wrong parents:

Although Ralph's methods work, I use a slightly different technique. I've been known to look the parent in the eye, and say something to the effect of:

"That's close, but actually this is the forge and this is the anvil." while pointing at the correct object. If they get insulted by that, then that's just too darn bad. (grin)
Paw Paw - Thursday, 04/01/04 18:55:24 EST

Once at a historical village, while watching a smith, I asked what he was making. He replied "fuller". He then went back to work. My oldest daughter, then about 6 years old, asked me quietly, "whats a fuller?" So I knelt down on one knee and very quietly so as to not disturb others watching, told her, and showed her one that was in the tool rack.(all this time the smith had his back to me).
A few minutes later, a couple of guys wandered in, and asked the smith what he was making. Same reply "fuller". One guy says to the other, what the he..l is a fuller? At this point my bright, cheerful 6 year old pipes up in her sweet little voice, and tells them what a fuller is, and how it spreads the metal in one direction, but not the other, and then points one out in the tool rack. Very slow turn around and stare by a very surprised smith! Should have seen the look on the two guys faces! Now thats a memory!
She's now 18, got bright red streaks in her hair, can measure and cut steel to the 32nd, and knows the name of nearly every tool in the shop. May never smith, but she sure was fun in the shop at 6.
ptree - Thursday, 04/01/04 20:24:45 EST

Coal Rake: Hey. Just wanted to say thanks for the casting Info and i made a coal rake today (not by casting of course). It looks very rigged and not the best looking thing ive hever seen but it gets the job done. Its similar to a 2 prong fork but instead of the prongs going strait out they curve down and are closer together to get those enyoing coals that fall down away from the fire.
- Dan Crabtree - Thursday, 04/01/04 22:13:39 EST

Jim, see, you are too, polite and fit for the public.....(g)
I admit I usually try teh better way first but every now and then I hear a comment that sets me off.... Usually someting 'dad' tells the kid like this" My grand pa was a real smith. not one of these 'Hollywood' smiths we are watching now. He is doing it all wrong and .... " then a long explaination of what is what usually completly wrong. I am amazed at how often that occured. I figure if all these folks had a grandpa as a smith who in teh he** was doing the other biziness as there sure could not have been anyone left.
Ralph - Friday, 04/02/04 01:10:22 EST

The comment that hits my hot button is, "See how easy it is? I can do that."

Last time that happened, I handed the guy my hammer and sat down. He looked at the hammer, then handed it back saying, "I guess that'll teach me!" He even grinned as he said it.
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/02/04 02:00:16 EST

My Grandpa was a smith: The answer to that is: that is why there are so many people named smith. We are a randy bunch; Was he married to your Grandmother? This is best said with a very big grin.

I'm thinking of having Tee-shirts made: MY GRANDFATHER WAS A BLACKSMITH, and in smaller sizes: MY GRANDFATHER IS A BLACKSMITH.

when handed a lemon make lemonaid, then sell it to the masses.
habu - Friday, 04/02/04 10:12:47 EST

Blacksmithing Grandparent: Possibly apocryphal but fun:

One day a young woman walked into Francis Whitaker’s forge and announced to one of his assistants: “My grandfather was a blacksmith.”

He replied: “Lady; everybody’s grandfather was a blacksmith.”

The young lady was Claire Yellin.

Visit your National Parks!
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 04/02/04 10:35:07 EST

Curious things that push our buttons....: Once I even had a man tell the group of kids he was escorting that nothing at the Fort's blacksmith shop was real. That we were not 'allowed' by federal law to actually heat metal etc..... I just calmly took out a piece of steel I had just heated to a nice yellow and stuck it into a stump. Thru the smoke I asked if he would like to hold the 'non-hot yellow end'..... His look was great. And I am sure that his reputation with the kids was not quite so sterling after that.
But usually I have a blast with folks at demos. It always suprises Dawn when she sees me in action with a crowd, as I am actually a rather quite and reserved man normally, but get me at a smithing bunch and watch out
Ralph - Friday, 04/02/04 11:46:23 EST

Ralph....quiet and reserved? I'm just not buying it. (VBG)

eander4 - Friday, 04/02/04 13:21:06 EST

Great story, Ralph! I wish I'd seen that.

I had a guy once try to tell me that steel can't burn. I put a length of 1/4" square in the fire and slowly cranked the blower while talking to him, listening to him explain how it will melt but can't actually be consumed by heat. When the sparks started zipping out of the forge, I pulled it out and held up the "sparkler" and said "so what exactly is going on here?" as about two inches of the end of the rod slowly drooped and fell onto the ground, still sparkling... He just went elsewhere.
Alan-L - Friday, 04/02/04 13:42:24 EST


This is about Cyber Smiths International (CSI.) The members of CSI help support Anvilfire, but now CSI has gotten serious about supporting Anvilfire. We are well into the planning stages of incorporating as a nonprofit educational organization to properly support Anvilfire, so that we can preserve this site we love. Anvilfire is an important online resource for people interested in blacksmithing and all types of metalworking. Within the archives are answers to all manner of metal working questions. Within the forums questions can be asked, and a vast wealth of experience can be tapped to provide personal answers to people’s questions. We want to see that Anvilfire continues to grow and prosper. Jock has created Anvilfire, and provided it for free here on the internet for seven years. He has made it his business, but more importantly it has been his passion, and as such he has worked very long hours for very little pay. But he has seen this site grow, we all have, grow to the point that he needs help. We plan on providing that help, and more! We hope to see this site continue to grow, and become better and better.

What that boils down to is that by responding to Jock’s request, we are deciding what form Anvilfire will take in the future. So what we discuss and how we decide affects YOUR future with Anvilfire. Whether you like what we decide is not part of the picture.

There are only two ways for you to affect that future.

!. Join CSI and cast your ballot when the time comes.

2. Take a chance that we will listen to what you say and do things the way you want us to.

Personally, I like the odds better when I have the opportunity to vote.
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/02/04 13:51:56 EST

VOTING: Voting....
If you do not vote you do not really have the right to complain. And in order to vote you have to belong. CSI needs your input... and yes your money does not hurt either. But more importantly we need to have you, yes I mean YOU involved. So seriously consider joining.
Ralph - Friday, 04/02/04 14:05:09 EST

Rawhide Hammers: Does anyone know what companies (if any) still make rawhide hammers? I need to buy some replacement faces for an old rawhide and copper hammer I've had for years. The rawhide is quieter than my iron sledges
Jacob Turley - Friday, 04/02/04 15:04:29 EST


Tandy Leather at:
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/02/04 15:19:25 EST

PawPaw: Where do we sign up? Do we get a decoder ring?
- Ritch - Friday, 04/02/04 16:18:43 EST

Ritch: Click on the link in the store.
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/02/04 16:28:53 EST

Try this link.
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/02/04 16:30:53 EST

Tandy Leather: Okay, what's wrong with this picture: Click on "catalog request" - Catalog is free with an order. Otherwise pick one up at your local store. Store "local" to NJ is in Baltimore - 3 hours away. That gives me the choice of perusing the on-line "catalog" and buying something to get a print catalog or driving 3 hours for the print catalog.

I guess I don't need to buy anything from Tandy that much...
- Bruce - Friday, 04/02/04 17:08:44 EST

RE grandfather black smith: Bruce
that one had me scareing the cat I thought it so funny!

the ones that get me are the "Allmost rights" if they are wrong enough I risk insulting them and corect them, but when they just "sort of get it wrong" like " see he heats it in the charcoal (could be right but I use soft coal) and it gets hot so he can bend it (when was drawing a point bending?) then he cools it so it in the brine so it will be hard (cooling so I don't burn my hand water)
all of these statments could be true only aren't, and then the get mad at you when you begin explaining what you are doing!
folks are just dumb sometimes
MP - Friday, 04/02/04 17:35:01 EST

Rawhide hammers: Jacob, I have seen them in our local hardware stores. In fact I am almost certain I saw one in Home Depot the other day.......
Ralph - Friday, 04/02/04 17:42:28 EST

Demo Dummies: ".....look, Ashley. He's making the metal thing all red so he can temper it with his hammer." AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHH!!!!!
3dogs - Friday, 04/02/04 17:46:12 EST


Check McMaster Carr, then. They may carry one.
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/02/04 18:18:41 EST

Try have a Simplex mallet with different plastic faces.PawPaw, that was quick and relatively easy.
- Ritch - Friday, 04/02/04 21:56:09 EST

Another Project: I made a "weird" project today. Just kind of a thing to so try out certain methods of forging on. Well after thinking. I decided that it could be used as a "Are You A Blacksmith Test". Its very simple (i didnt say master blacksmith or anything) Its a rod about 1/4 of an inch in diameter and about 1 ft long. Now heres what to do. curle one end so it looks like a giant fish hook then curle it over even some more so it touches the rod. Simple enough? Ok now its time to test your drawing out capabilities. Now take the other end of the rod and begin drawing out in a square. Once you get a good distance curle it over but a very small curle now make this close to the rod then use flux or borax and forge weld it. So now you have a giant curle on one end and a forge welded loop on one end. Anyone that has been blacksmithing for a good time will find this very simple. This is a great project for newcomers. If you can do it in my eyes your a blacksmith maybe not some masterblacksmith but if you can do it i consider you a blacksmith because if contains most of the basic smithing elements.
- Dan Crabtree - Friday, 04/02/04 22:10:56 EST

Ritch: Good! Spread the word!
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/02/04 22:42:19 EST

Dan, couldn't you make a fire rake for the forge using the same techniques and end up with something useful?

Thomas P - Saturday, 04/03/04 00:56:16 EST

Yes but I already made one if you look up a few post lol.
I was bored and the vision just came to my mind so i decided i would try it.
- Dan Crabree - Saturday, 04/03/04 01:37:16 EST

One! I must have half a dozen at least and still end up making more when I'm at a demo and didn't seem to pack one in the tool bucket...

I'm just not much into taking a piece from the scrap pile, doing something to it and putting it back on the scrap pile, doesn't make me feel like I've getting something for my work though it is better than having to hide it deep in the dumpster after I have finished "messing" with it...

Thomas, off to the SWABA meeting
Thomas P - Saturday, 04/03/04 09:12:10 EST

I found a use for it. If someone attacks me I hit them with the large curled end! It would hurt really bad and probally knock them out but that aplies to almost all steel objects lol oh and i figured that this isnt a good blacksmith test because this is how EVERYONES GRANDPA WAS A BLACKSMITH..... this might cause everyone and there uncle to be a blacksmith
- Dan Crabtree - Saturday, 04/03/04 13:13:27 EST

Where to do Demos: Im not demo material yet but I figure after about a year or two I could make some pretty decent stuff. Nothing fantastic but Im at the forge everyday from the second I got a ride to the shop till the sun sets. Ive been blacksmithing for almost a month now. Ive got a few people that want to start blacksmithing. One is one of my best friends. Hes going to be my appritice until he get the basic skills down (drawing out,bending, upsetting, and welding) then he will be my partner.

Now for my question. Where do you guys set up demos? It cant be at my shop because my shop is in the middle of no where. Do you guys use a fairs like town homecomings and stuff? It sounds like fun once I get good enough.
- Dan Crabtree - Saturday, 04/03/04 13:23:01 EST

Cracked metal: Ive been hammering out a pair of tongs using half faced blows to form the jaws and joint i had just finished the jaws and was drawing out the reigns then what happens?
The jaw pops off errr!!!! Anyway before this happened i had noticed some crackng at the joint. It seemed to be there throiugh most of the procces but just got worse. Just wondering what i did wrong?
Ben_Christy - Saturday, 04/03/04 13:53:38 EST


Hard to be certain without looking directly at the fracture, but it sounds like working cold iron, or if it is a high-carbon steel, quenching too soon.
Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/03/04 14:37:16 EST

Home At Last: Hello everyone, I just got back from the great mid-eastern catbox a couple of days ago, and just wanted to say hi.
Donovan Young
65th MP Co. (ABN)
- Bond,JamesBond - Saturday, 04/03/04 18:39:05 EST


WELCOME HOME! It is good to know that you are back and in one piece.
Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/03/04 20:57:43 EST

Apprentice ships: : i am inquiring after an apprenticeship i live in minnesota nd would like something preferabley in the state although something outside of it would be considered.
- Heaphestus - Saturday, 04/03/04 21:53:07 EST

i am inquiring after a blacksmith or swordsmith apprenticeship. Preferably in the minnesota state but outside of it will be fine also.
- heaphestus - Saturday, 04/03/04 21:56:33 EST

Donovan: Welcome back and thanks for a great job. Hope you have a great homecoming.
- Larry - Saturday, 04/03/04 22:31:35 EST

Donovan: God bless you, don't you have a pretty girl to go see? Thank you for your service.Locked, cocked, and ready to rock.That's my Army.
- Ritch - Saturday, 04/03/04 22:49:23 EST

broken tongs....: Could be working too hot if it is a med ot high carbon steel.
Or as PPW said working too cold. Also you could have gotten TOO sharp of a corner which then cracked.....
Ralph - Saturday, 04/03/04 22:52:40 EST

demos: Dan, never too soon to do demos. Just let folks know you are still learning. I still do that now and I have been trying this smithing thing for going on 11 years now. Where.... ask your local fair if they will allow it. Do you have a local 'farmers market' or some such? ask them. Are there any 'historical' farms or places like this? Ask if they would like to kick it up a bit with a living history event. State parks might also work .... I volunteer at a National Historic Site Fort Vancouver NHS. SO there are locations that are endless. As for being in the middle of nowhere... host a hammer-in...... (grin)
Ralph - Saturday, 04/03/04 22:56:26 EST


I'll be off line Monday and at least part of Tuesday, I'm going to be doing some hardware upgrades to my CPU.
Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/03/04 22:58:07 EST

James, the Bond:: Welcome home, and thanks for doing the difficult and dangerous on our behalf.

Dan; demonstrations: "Where you at?" Check out our NPS page; a lot of our NPS sites have blacksmithing possibilities, and some have active volunteer programs like our friend Ralph and FOVA. I've done demos for schools (colonial days are a nice event) historic reenactments, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and whatnot. It's not a fair without a blacksmith! (I don't do renfairs, to much time tied up; but a number of my friends do.)

Is there a local ABANA org around? They usually have a batch of obligations for demonstrations that they would be glad to share. I've even done demos at church arts and crafts shows.

All sorts of possibilities!

Good luck.
Ft. Vancouver NHS, where Ralph hangs out. ;-)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 04/03/04 23:53:59 EST

Donovan, welcome home, and THANK YOU! for a difficult and dangerous job well done. I hope your homecoming is everything you have dreamed about these past months! And more.....
Ellen - Saturday, 04/03/04 23:57:11 EST

Thanks for your Help: Thank you all for replying to my topic earlier. I've talked it over with my parents and they said that if I can pay for it then its ok, so I would like to know some websites I can order some of the stuff of to get started. My friend who is also very interested in becoming a blacksmith also wants to know about aprenticeships and if there is anyone in Minnesota that wouldn't mind teaching a little. Thank you again.
- Luke - Sunday, 04/04/04 04:49:12 EDT

Welcome home and thank you for your service when your nation called.
ptree - Sunday, 04/04/04 10:44:34 EDT

I think perhaps that you misunderstand my intent about the fire potential of hydraulic in a forge shop. While a high pressure leak will NOT ignite just from the leakage, a spray of droplets, contacting a source of heat, say a bar at forgeing temp. will indeed ignite. All of my rant was based on the requirements for hydraulics in a forge shop or foundry. My rant is based on the research I performed in labs at major manufactures of hydraulic components. I spent 17 years, running the lab for the largest manufacurer of forged steel fittings in the world. ASME, API, and "N" stamped. ANSI rated. These fittings are in every refinery, chemical plant and most of the nuke plants worldwide. The fittings that I described, as failing, were of forged A-105, 2000# rating, and perfect in every sense, except that they were subjected to intense inpulse duty. These were not you standard hydraulic store fittings but were very heavy. These were tees, and they failed in the crotch, at the branch line. These fittings swelled up like a ballon prior to burst at a slow rise, but cracked in inpulse duty. The addition of a shock damping chamber cured this failure in that plant. Oddly, as they used seamless, SA-105, sch 80, the pipe did not fail. I tend to use the spec's from my exposure to steam piping, and these allow for corrosion, errosion, and shock, as well as temp. Pipe anything for 2500# steam lately? Failures are rather exciting.Do I tend to lean to the overbuild side of the equation? yes. Do I work in a forging shop now? Yes. Do I see leaks daily? yes. Have we had a catastrophic fire? No. We use Glycol-water based fluids. Same at the last shop. Granted these systems are in very high cycle rate 24/7 duty. As an aside, I have been designing hydraulic equipement for my employers since 1981. Although I did not persue certification as I do not deal with selling this equipment. My experience is in production test and assembly machines, and includes hydrostatic and hydraulic systems to 33,000 psi working pressures. I had machines that reached 10,500 psi, and dropped to zero every 20 seconds. These were piped with very expensive components, but did not fail. Ran for about ten years, then shipped to Texas. Still running. Leakage was measured with pressure decay, and any leakage of the circuit caused the machine to show fault. I do have a bit of experience, and feel that I know the science as well.
Please research the fourmula for water hammer. you will find it interesting.
I did A test run on cylinders to qualify the barrel to NFPA specs, about 1979, and induced leakage at seals, as the tie rods stretched, causing weep leakage, until the barrel cracked at the air vent screw. I did a long series of tests, running a cylinder into the cushion hard to induce spikes. Testing switchs that sensed the cushion bushing. Failed the switchs every time as the switch could not stand the spike.Impulse spike can approach infinity, but as the fluid DOES compress a bit at these pressures, the fluid itself damps the surge. also a bit of air is always entrained, and soaks up some of the spike. The trick is to design the components to have a fatique life that is longer than the service life. That is why 1/4" seamed pipe may take 17,000 to 18,000psi to burst cold, but will fail in impulse much lower. (Did the test, real numbers, for that specimen)
To tell people that hydraulics will not burn at a leak is a diservice. Perhaps I needed to clarify my remarks to more clearly state that I was speaking about a forge shop, with ignition sources. It does happen. I have been exposed to at least 3 examples in my 21 years at the largest mfg of forged steel valves and fittings in the world. Does this mean that every time a hydraulic system leaks that a death will occur? Of course not. But we should try to prepare for the events that may harm us, and plan for this.
Enough of this rant. Lets move on. OK?
ptree - Sunday, 04/04/04 11:23:42 EDT

Luke and the eager but spelling-challenged Hephaistos:: Have you guys looked at A.) "the getting started in blacksmithing" page here at anvilfire, and B.) the page also here? One of the more active guilds is in Minnesota. Go to their page and read EVERYTHING. There's bound to be a meeting or something close to you, and you can ask them if there any smiths close to you.
Guild of Metalsmiths link
Alan-L - Sunday, 04/04/04 11:25:18 EDT

Thanks Alan: I'll be sure to check those sites out when I get home or at school tomarrow
Luke - Sunday, 04/04/04 17:14:27 EDT

Champion 400 Blower: I reacently purchased the 400 blower and it will not hold oil. Does anyone know where to get or how to make parts?
- Ron - Monday, 04/05/04 21:24:05 EDT


They all leak. Just fill it up till the first drops leak out at the bottom of the main shaft.
Paw Paw - Monday, 04/05/04 22:01:04 EDT


I hit the return too quick. Fill it till the first drops leak out at the bottom of the main shaft, then keep it filled to that level.
Paw Paw - Monday, 04/05/04 22:03:11 EDT

My first run at casting was failed. Ashes got into the curcible and ruined my aluminuim. I didnt keep an eye on the coal and let it burn too low and then some hardened back up. Now here are a few questions.

How do i keep ashes from getting into curcible?

Should i use charcoal or coal?
- Dan Crabree - Tuesday, 04/06/04 02:21:24 EDT

CBA spring conference: Well, Hello all! The spring conference was a big hit! I didn’t get much of a chance to see much of it though, as the behind the scenes work took a lot of time and during the show I was only some of the fill in labor! The weekend started out WET with a good downpour on Thursday night, followed by 2 days of mud and partly sunny days. It was the kind of mud that you grow taller in as you walk and it builds up on the souls of your shoes. Sunday was clear and warm though.

The demonstrators were great and all of them worked hard to put on a great show. The food was served quickly and was hot and plentiful. We had workshops for beginners and intermediate level smiths to work on new skills, non stop smithing demos, sheet metal work, cast iron welding demos, patina demonstrations, marketing round tables, and more!

Tail gate sales were slow as too many of the sellers were influenced by Ebay and had outrageous prices. If you looked, there were a few bargains to be had though.

From the vendors, I bought 7 pairs of Off Center tongs from Kane and Sons, (thanks Grant, these are quite nice!) I also bought a ready to work, new treadle hammer from Jere Kerpatrick (I hope I spelled that right) though I nearly bought a Chinese air hammer (88kg) until my wife pointed out that there were lots of other things I need to buy for my new shop before I needed a power hammer. (After 24 years with her, I have learned to listen to her, she usually is right (don’t tell her I said so!))

The steel rolling mill I made was there and drew a lot of interest, thus Norm Larson sold lots of plans for it! As usual, the event was over it seemed before it started and we were breaking down the venues. If you missed this show, you quite possibly missed the best event this year!
Wayne P - Tuesday, 04/06/04 10:11:06 EDT

Casting: Dan,

You'll be better off using charcoal if you want clean castings. I mean REAL charcoal, from nothing but trees, and NOT the crud they sell in briquettes for your barbecue. The ash from real charcoal is just fly ash that won't hurt a thing.

To prevent ash or crud from contaminating your melt, you simply flux the molten metal and skim off the dross before you pour. All sorts of stuff can be introduced into the crucible inadvertently during the process, but as long as they are not something that will form an alloy with the metal, they should mostly float to the top of the molten metal where you skim them off.

If you check out some of the casting sites and books, you'll see what a skimmer looks like. Personally, I use a piece of steel rod with a bent point. The dross will clump around the point and I pick it off the surface and knock it off the skimmer on a brick I keep in the sand pit.

If you have problems with contaminants in your casting, you probably didn't have the metal at the right heat. Too cold and stuff gets trapped in the metal, to hot and the metal itself becomes burned and becomes its own contaminant. Aluminum, in particular, is VERY prone to oxidation so the surface is always going to be oxidized and need to be skimmed before pouring. Flux helps, but skimming is mandatory.
vicopper - Tuesday, 04/06/04 11:37:50 EDT

Champ 400: Ron, the main output shaft (to the fan blades) is not sealed, never was. As PawPaw said, just fill it until it leaks out the shaft and check the level occasionaly until you learn how often to fill'er up. If you live in a cold climate, use thin oil in the winter and something like 30wt in the summer. Enjoy your new toy!
Wayne P - Tuesday, 04/06/04 12:03:50 EDT

Tennessee: I just found out I have to be at a FBI conference in Nashville, TN on May 4, 5 and 6. Anybody in that area I should stop and see? I'll probably stick a couple days on one end or the other of that time for visiting.
vicopper - Tuesday, 04/06/04 13:11:44 EDT

Vic: That's about 436 miles from my place. No motel bills, the Wilson Hotel ain't fancy, but it's free. Jock comes down here on occasion and I'm sure he would be here to meet you. Then you could fly out of the Piedmont Triad International airport, about 25 miles from my house.
Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/06/04 15:47:51 EDT

Broken Tong Forging: Besides working too cold, the most likely culprit is a cold shut. This is when the metal gets folded on itself and is not welded. A thick bar can look solid but a cold shut can leave it only 10% of its former self. Some smiths are anal about preventing cold shuts, others just pay attention to what they are doing. One of the most common causes of cold shuts is sharp corners on anvils and hammers.
- guru - Tuesday, 04/06/04 20:16:13 EDT

Leaks (hydraulic and otherwise) and fire:
For those that don't think hydraulic oil is a fire hazard consider the Ford trucks made in the 1980's (mostly for rescue vehicals) that had a problem with the coolant hoses leaking on the exhust manifold. The temperatures were sufficient enough to cause the normaly non-flamable anti-freeze and water mix to flare up and make a mess of the vehical.

It was very embarassing for many fire departments that had to send a second truck out to put out the fire in the first truck they sent out. . .
- guru - Tuesday, 04/06/04 20:20:47 EDT

PawPaw: That's a generous offer, my friend. I'm not sure I'm up for that long a drive, though. I'll keep it in mind and let you know when things get a bit more definite. In the typical way of the government, I just found out today about the conference and my required attendance, even though the supposed deadline for application was two weeks ago. Typical of the Virgin Islands, in some ways. (grin)
vicopper - Tuesday, 04/06/04 21:04:18 EDT


Keep it in mind. You could drive to here from the conference, spend a day or two, (turn your rental in the first or second day) then I could take you to the airport. It would be a one day, one way, drive.
Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/06/04 21:35:56 EDT

I pointed out in a post that the water glycol hydraulic fluids sold as "fire resistant" will burn. Same type thing as the truck fires you noted. The water evaporates, and then the glycol will burn.Even says that in the product sheets and the MSDS sheets sent with the product.In eary WW-11 the British used pure ethylene-glycol as a coolant in the Rolls engines. Had to change to adding water, as the pure stuff was always leaking and catching fire.
The best defense against a fire from a hydraulic system in a forge is to plan ahead. Plan for the thing to leak, and plan to keep the leak seperate from the ignition sources.
A quick review of the Factory Mutual requirements for a hydraulic system in a forge will show the interest the fire insurance companies have in this. These regulations are written in ASHES.
ptree - Tuesday, 04/06/04 21:44:44 EDT

TONGS: BEN CHRISTY; For your next pair of tongs, I recommend you go to our I-Forge site (up there in the drop- downs), and feast your eyes on the tongs made by the "Dempsey Twist" method, as developed by our own Illustrious Grand Guru, Jock Dempsey. Slicker'n snot on a Teflon doorknob, they are.
3dogs - Wednesday, 04/07/04 04:17:23 EDT

FIRE!: Lemme see, now; a volatile fluid, vaporized by pushing through a pinhole orifice at high pressure, and looking for something to ignite it.....By damn, that sounds like a fuel injection system to me.
3dogs - Wednesday, 04/07/04 04:27:54 EDT

That was the gist of my point. Hydraulic are a wonderful tool, but like most tools need some thought prior to use.
I have done the first aid on the unfortunates who placed portions of their body, where hydraulic clamps(and chucks) could squeeze. The result is usually the total loss of the affected parts as crushed to juice tissue can not be reattached. I have designed machines and tooling off and on for about 25 years now, and(knock on wood)not had a person hurt on anything I designed. YET. I have seen many injuries, mostly due to either poor design,or complacency. Gurads removed or never there. I have been very lucky to never have had a fire from hydraulics spraying, in one of my shops, that injuried anyone.Had a fire two weeks ago, from a hose rupture, sprayed oil on an electric motor. Fried motor, but nobody hurt.
I have seen very large,(1300 ton) forgeing presses, with vertical action that rained fluid from the shaft seals. Course, since the hydraulic fluid was good old water, no fire.
One last time, and I promise to not open this line of rant again, hydraulics in a hot work shop MUST be thought out, care for fire prevention by seperating the ignition sources and any leakage is required, and then you have a strong tool to expand your capabilities.
Life is too short to spend any of it dead, injuried, or in jail. This quote now in Uncle Atlie's very thin book of wisdom.
ptree - Wednesday, 04/07/04 19:10:27 EDT

Atli's Very Thin Book Of Wisdom: I see it mentioned all the time, is it actually in existence? If so where can I find it?
Joe R - Wednesday, 04/07/04 22:16:30 EDT

Joe R.,:

It isn't really in existence. Bruce Blackstone is Atli.
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/07/04 22:19:25 EDT

Uncle Atli's Very Thin Book of Wisdom: Actually, as Ptree has seen, it actually exists in a fuzzy draft. It started when one of our longship captains said: "You ought to write this stuff down." Copies have circulated with family and close friends, but it's a work in progress. I doubt, also, that it will ever get "thick'. I'll run a draft copy by Joe R. and Paw Paw. The "uncle" is an honorific used by my friends to their children in the tribe, as in: "Go kick your Uncle Atli 'hello'."
Bruce Blackistone - Wednesday, 04/07/04 23:33:59 EDT

Aha! :

I sit corrected, and let my head hang a little low. (grin)
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/07/04 23:35:19 EDT

Brake Drum Forge Tip: After forging with my self built brake drum forge for a while I found that cutting large notches in both sides(just use your judgement in how far down you cut and mirror on other side, for long stock) helps out considerably that way you can retain the nice firepot it provides and still put your stock in nice and level and not be limited to just heating the tip.... I recommend a plasma cutter or a 4in angle grinder. If you use a plasma cutter be ready for some serious fireworks. Fun to watch
Joe R - Wednesday, 04/07/04 23:46:31 EDT

brake drum forge: It always seemed to me that the brake drum should just be the fire pot. not the whole forge. What I mean is this. Make a froge table ( hearth) and inset the drum ( just like if it were a store bought fire pot) That way you have more work space and room for coal, as well as not having the issues that force cutting the drum......
Ralph - Thursday, 04/08/04 02:43:23 EDT

Brake Drum:: I'm with Ralph, cause that's what I did. I also lined the inside with some high temp fire place cement stuff, so as to make a smooth funnel towards the bottom. That way your coal will move down to the fire. Tried it first without the lining, and the coal cokes up along the sides and tends to interfere with proper feeding of the fire. Also, if I need more fire, for a large piece laid on top, I just line the sides with a fire brick, add my piece in between, and cover with more coal.
works fine for me.
Bob H - Thursday, 04/08/04 09:22:10 EDT

A potential problem with cutting notches in a brake drum is that it can make the fire too shallow. In other words, there may not be enough coal between the air inlet and the steel, which causes heavy scaling and makes forge welding very difficult. You really need 3 to 4 inches minimum of coked coal between the grate and the steel to keep a neutral atmosphere on the piece.
Alan-L - Thursday, 04/08/04 09:27:24 EDT

Forge Lining: Hey Bob H, or others, what kind of high temp fire place cement stuff is available? Clay?
- JohnW - Thursday, 04/08/04 09:35:30 EDT

Rawhide Hammer: Re: Jacob Turley - another source for rawhide mallets
is: C.S. Osborne & Co. 125 Jersey St. Harrison, N.J. 07029

In their catalogue No. 59, the mallets called an "Osborne No. 196" available in weights from 2 to 20 ounces.
- Don Shears - Thursday, 04/08/04 10:52:59 EDT

Another brake drum forge tip: take a piece of sheetmetal and bend it into almost a complete circle that just fits inside the drum and projects up as much as you want the greater depth to be.

"Almost a complete circle" because you want to leave a gap for the workpiece to fit through--- and cut/drill/chisel a "mousehole" opposite the gap to slide long pieces through.

You now have a removable fence to provide depth when you want it.---I used one like this for welding up billets in a brakedrum forge.

Thomas P - Thursday, 04/08/04 11:18:53 EDT

refractories: JohnW,
there are several places to get 'official' high temp refractories. Below are two links(I hope). You could do a goolge search for others
Ralph - Thursday, 04/08/04 11:36:27 EDT

more links: OK only one came thru here is the 2nd one
Ralph - Thursday, 04/08/04 11:53:32 EDT

Brake Drum: What size brake drum are you talking about using. A car drum, a truck drum? I see all kinds at the local scrap yard and not sure what size to look at.
JW - Thursday, 04/08/04 15:01:31 EDT

Brake Drum Size: Most likely you will want a drum that will be big enough for most jobs you are gonna want to do. I recommend a 1 ton truck drum. Mine is off a 2-1/2 ton truck, it works really well for most sizes of work I do and was only 5.00$ at my local scrap yard... Previously dating the owner's daughter might have helped a bit

p.s.Remember that a Brake Drum is cast iron and welding it will be difficult. Pre-heat and post heat will keep your welds from cracking. Also, You will want to plug the bolt holes in the drum, a little MIG welding goes a long way here, and since it is not a structural weld and doesnt penetrate the drum much, you can do it without per and post heating
Joe R - Thursday, 04/08/04 15:35:54 EDT

Jr Strasil's wife passed: Jr. Strasil's (Irnsrgn) wife passed away today at around 11:00 am EST. Please let the rest of the blacksmiths know. Thank you, Cheryl McDowell [Baby-anvil]
Ntech - Thursday, 04/08/04 16:24:37 EDT

brake drum forges.....: Use a car drum. but only use the drum as the fire pot and not as the complete forge. I guaruntee that you will kick yourself once you realize that you really wanted more space for stuff on the forge.... A sheet of1/4 steel with a hole bog enough for the drum some legs.... tada... of course you can get fancy and have sides on the hearth to keep coal(fuel) from falling off and you can make all sorts of other stuff for it.
At least if I were to be using a drum that is how I would be doing it.
But my next solid fuel forge is going to be a side blast forge so I can use charcoal. Think I am going to give up on coal as the only coal I can get locally is just this side of using plain dirt.....
Ralph - Thursday, 04/08/04 16:26:55 EDT

brake drums: Folks I have a d@mn big truck brake drum forge. cost was free, I found the drum on the side of the road. The only problem I had in useing it was it was too deep at 14" deep. As per advice I found here I placed a false bottom in to cover the holes. It had a hole for a pipe to pass through for air hook up,inserted the pipe, filled drum with damp sand to a depth of 6", then set in a chunk of steel with a hole in the center to go over the pipe.
Now after all this Brutis lives. Should any one want I could draw it out for them. Keep in mind the drum came from a semi.
dragon-boy - Thursday, 04/08/04 16:54:23 EDT

Side Blast Forge: Ralph:
I'd love to see plans for that if you've got them. I am planning the same thing.
Shack - Thursday, 04/08/04 17:09:20 EDT

KOKA: Does anyone know what happened to Koka metalsmiths.The made some great hammers
- Chris Makin - Thursday, 04/08/04 17:51:29 EDT

side draft: Plans!? Who needs plans?......

Actually having seen and used a few I was just going to build one no plans. Probably use wood to make a table, line with clay and dirt. ( dirt mixed with ashes) use a 2 inch pipe for air in possibly reduced down to a one inch opening. Pipe will be about 1 inch from lined top. About 3 to 4 inches in front of nozzle the top of the table will drop down into a bowl like depression. Far side will then be about 4 to 6 inches beyond that and also the far side will be HIGHER than the nozzle.
Now this is just off the cuff, as I build I will most likely modify......
Ralph - Thursday, 04/08/04 17:58:15 EDT

Cheryl....: irnsrgn,
I am so sorry to hear this. My wife and I will be praying for you. If there is anything I can do let me know.
Ralph - Thursday, 04/08/04 17:59:36 EDT

Cards to: Jr. Strasil
211 W. 17th St.
Falls City, Nebr.

Ntech - Thursday, 04/08/04 19:04:13 EDT

iron making: Iron Symposium

Cooperstown, NY

October 9, 10, 11, 2004

This Fall will see the first ever “pre-industrial iron symposium”
Hosted by the Farmer’s Museum of Cooperstown, NY, this three day event will bring professionals and enthusiasts from across the country together to participate in
activities, demonstrations and lectures related to the production of bloomery
New York state was once a leader in the production of iron and iron
work in the United Sates and bloomery iron played an important
part in the State’s as well as the Country’s economy. Join us over Columbus
Day weekend as we explore this exciting early technology through a series of lectures
and demonstrations.
On the first day (Sat, October 9), we will light a charcoal fire, on the
second day we will fire up a smelter, and on the third we will go into the shop
to fashion an artifact from the iron we have made. Lectures and
demonstrations pertaining to the making and use of early iron will be held

We have some wonderful demonstrators lined up including:

Paul Spaulding, NY – Forge work (19th c. blacksmithing)

Lee Sauder, VA - Smelting Demo and lecture (contemporary bloomery smelting.)

Darrell Markewitz, Canada - Forge work and lecture and exhibit (Viking-age ironwork)

Daniel Kerem, Canada -Lecture, Slide show and exhibit (Iron work of the Spanish Rennaissance)

Tres Loefler, NY -Forging demo, lecture (Colonial tool

Barry Keegan, NY - Lecture, Demo (Backtracking the iron age, stone-age smithing)(Charcoal Making) (Eight ways to make fire)

Michael McCarthy - Lecture, Demo (Forging Blooms), Slide show (The blacksmith shop)

Ticket Price will $150.00 for this three day event, and will include
breakfast and lunch on each day. One day tickets are $75. Any specific lecture can be
attended for $5. Call Karen Wyckoff at 1-607-547-1410 or 1.888.547.1450 for Registration and Details.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with me! (or leave message with Karen)

See you there!
- michael - Thursday, 04/08/04 20:22:19 EDT

condolences: I posted the above before reading through,

I am sorry to hear this news, I will send prayers your way.
michael - Thursday, 04/08/04 20:37:19 EDT

bullhammer out of bussiness? : i had heard that.. i needed to do a lot of work to get mine running right. but now i need to know where to go for dies? any info from an east coaster would help
- matt - Thursday, 04/08/04 23:52:56 EDT

In Our Prayers & Iron Symposium : My deepest sympathy to the Strasil family; may peace be with them.

Alas; the Cooperstown event is right at our Hastings comemmoration. But at least you'll have Darrell Markewitz there to cover the Vikings, so I'd only be a fifth wheel anyway. Still sorry I can't make it. Anyone who goes; please take careful notes! I'll pay repro and postage.

Finally forging again on the banks of the lower Potomac; lovely cool weather.
Visit your National Parks; I worked with Fire Island from home today...
Bruce Blackistone - Friday, 04/09/04 00:26:13 EDT

Jr Strasil's wife:
The funeral time and location:
10:30 am EST Tuesday morning.

First United Methodist Chruch
17th and Harlan street
Falls City, Nebraska

Jr's 3 daughters should all be there by some time tomorrow.
Ntech - Friday, 04/09/04 00:45:04 EDT

My Deepest Condolences: to the Strasil Family and others affected.
Joe R - Friday, 04/09/04 02:08:05 EDT

I send my sympathy to the Strasil Family and the ones who cared about her. I am sure she will be deeply missed.
- Luke - Friday, 04/09/04 05:10:55 EDT

Ill start with the sad truth for reasons I dont know. Well I have my forge and anvil set up outside of an autobody shop. My forge is a 3 ft plate of steel with a brake drum as the fire pit and a shopvac as the blower (hey it gets the job done). Well anyway we had alot of visitors that day for some unknown reason. Well person # 1 comes and asks
- Dan Crabtree - Friday, 04/09/04 05:37:04 EDT

well person 1 asks what are you cookin? I smile and say im blacksmithing. A little bit later a 2nd person comes by and asks what are ya cookin? then a little bit later as im hammering a 3rd person asks what are you doing
- Dan Crabtree - Friday, 04/09/04 06:53:14 EDT

smithing in public and folks: Dan welcome to the world of the ignorant. Now it is your privlege to teach them about the time honored profession of smithing.
It has been a long time since folks have had the oportunity to see and or hear a blacksmith on a daily basis. In fact I am willing to bet most folks under the age of 25 only think of anvils in the cartoon context
Ralph - Friday, 04/09/04 11:34:14 EDT

you have a reastat(sp) on the shop vac?: You can use a cheap short extension cord, cut it open and put a dimmer switch in the extension line. works for me with my hoover:) helps save coal and reduces noise... Variable speeds are a must
Joe R - Friday, 04/09/04 14:48:46 EDT

You are right Ralph: When I talk to people my age about forging most of them think it deals with You would be suprised how many really dumb questions I get sometimes... And these are from people in my shop class. I get asked about horseshoes a lot too. Gets really annoying
Joe R - Friday, 04/09/04 14:52:51 EDT

Dan-- Tell them you're forging a huge spring to finish construction of the catapult, with the ultimate goal of launching this very anvil on that damned road runner...
mike-hr - Friday, 04/09/04 15:03:45 EDT

Pricing: The past 8 years I have been doing decorative/sculptural work that I really had no rhyme or reason as far as pricing my work. I would get done with a project and ask myself what I would pay for it and mark it up some more and sell it to individuals. Not very much of my work as been commissioned and what has been commissioned was priced off the top of my head and marked up some more. I've recently been approached by several companies about doing some utilitarian stuff like 6'x2' storm grates and very simple custom security doors. It could be a foot in the door for some lucrative work. Now, my question. What guidlines should I be following to make sure that I would be competitive? Keeping track of my expenses is easy enough. How do I know how much to charge for my labor????
Hoof - Friday, 04/09/04 17:22:44 EDT

Thoughts on Pricing: there's been a couple of articles in the Anvil's Ring on the business aspect, and I've also talked to Nol Putnam. i seem to recall that Nol suggested a shop fee of $60 and hour (...which isn't all that bad when you look at boatyard rates!)

Jock also has expounded at length along the same lines, so I'll stow it now and let others take it from here.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 04/09/04 23:31:03 EDT

Ralph----: I'm 14 and a lot of my friends know about anvils and forges and stuff, prolly cuz we're all nerds and like the medivel stuff.
- Luke - Saturday, 04/10/04 17:13:15 EDT


BUT you and your friends are the exception. MOST of the public, (including most so called adults) think an anvil is something to throw at a coyote.

I've been doing demonstrations and had an "adult" make some stupid comment, only to be corrected by a teen in the audience. The "adult" got very upset when I pointed to the teen and said, "You're right!". Actually had one "adult" complain to the park management. They told him that if I said the teen was right, then the teen was right. (grin)
Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/10/04 17:56:34 EDT

pricing: Go to the dentist and get some basic work done, a filling perhaps, or a "planing and scaling" procedure. Then try your local neurologist, neuro-surgeon, and orthopaedic surgeon. Tell them something in your bod isn't working quite right. Then take your truck into the garage for a new rear pinion seal. Buy some groceries. Figure what it takes for a year of this. Divide by 52. Divide by 40. Add 100% for slippage.
Smartleigh Smitten - Saturday, 04/10/04 21:15:16 EDT

Pricing:: Hoof, I think $60 per hour is not a bad place to start. Too low and you won't "make ends meet"; too much and you won't get much work. You can adjust as get more experience. Note that the posted shop rates for most automotive work are $60 per hour and up, plus cost of parts and shop can't much done by most mechanics for less than $200.
Ellen - Sunday, 04/11/04 00:37:52 EDT

Pricing: When I owned the sign shop, I figured that I needed to get a minimum of $45/hr for shop time. That was fifteen years ago, so adjust accordingly. That yielded a moderate income only.

The most often overlooked cost of doing business is overhead. Rent, utilities, insurance, worker's comp, unemployment, disability, depreciation on equipment, bookkeeping, janitorial, maintenance, advertising, shrinkage, etc. You need to figure that one third of your shop rate is going to offset overhead. Maybe more, depending on your particular situation. It is unlikely that it will be less, even if you are working out of your home.

Materials, consumables and supplies need to be charge at double what they cost you. If you don't double the cost, you are losing money on them. You have to order them, get them, store them, absorb damage on them, and there is the inevitable mis-cuts etc.

Your time is going to be divided about equally between production and "everything else"...if you're lucky. Often, less than a third of your time is actually productive and the rest is consumed with the details, design, sales, installation, lawyers, taxmen and helpers. Your shop rate needs to reflect a realistic appraisal of how much actual work you can get done in an eight hour day. If that is only three hours, then those three hours have to pay for the other five. Do the math and you can see why $60/hr is not going to be that lucrative.

Those are some of the factors that have to be taken into consideration for operating a commercial venture. If you are just doing a profitable hobby business, then you can make more money per hour. But you should still figure your prices based on the commercial model, since that is what the competition is working under.

If you grossly undervalue your work, you are doing both yourself and every other smith a disservice. You don;t make any friends by undercharging, all you do is get a reputation for being low priced and that will only hurt you. At first, it gets you work, true. But later on, you find that you are unable to shake that image and raise your prices to reflect fair market value. And you will rarely get the high-end jobs because people will assume that because your prices are so low your work is substandard. Personally, I would prefer to give something away for free rather than sell it for too low a price. There are a surprising number of people in this world who truly believe that "the more you pay, the more it's worth." Find them and your fortune is assured. :-)
vicopper - Sunday, 04/11/04 01:33:11 EDT

Luke I will stand by my words..... There will ALWAYS be exceptions to every rule when people are involved. That is something that you will come to see and accept and use as you get older... yeah I know that is terrible to say. I remember I hated the dreaded 'when you get older you will understand' comments about 30 years ago when I was your age. But I will be jiggered if my dad wasn't right. Fortunately he is still around for me to remind him of this fact every now and then......(smile)
Ralph - Sunday, 04/11/04 02:50:41 EDT

Happy Easter all: Brothers and sisters of the forge. I would like to take a brief moment and tell you Happy Easter. And also that I am greatful to have 'met' all of you.
God's Blessing on you and your loved ones
Ralph - Sunday, 04/11/04 02:52:18 EDT

Thank you Ralph, and the same to you. Folks seem to forget the importance of religion and it is the glue which holds life together and enables us to overcome the adversities of life.
Ellen - Sunday, 04/11/04 07:45:08 EDT


As Ellen says, our faith, EVEN THOUGH WE MAY WORSHIP DIFFERENTLY is the glue that helps us to stay civilized. And courtesy to one another is the wax the polishes the work (us).

So a Happy Easter to all and Thank You all for being a part of my life and a part of Anvilfire.
Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/11/04 11:09:23 EDT

Happy Easter to all.
I also thank God that by the luck of birth, I was born into a land where each may worship as he sees fit.
ptree - Sunday, 04/11/04 12:05:58 EDT

Pricing: Thanks all for your feed back on pricing. I kinda had my own humble theory but really needed some input from you guys. I will put some of this into practice and see what happens. I will let you know when I get you think this site will be around that long? LOL
Hoof - Sunday, 04/11/04 13:26:42 EDT

Cybersmiths International (CSI): is well on its way to officialy becoming a legal non-profit organization. As such it will be able to take over anvilfire if necessary and fund it after I am gone. It will also be able to apply for grants and funds that it could not in the past.

CSI needs more active members and YOUR input about the organization. Many folks are for making anvilfire a fee based web site with limited free access. I prefer to keep it free to the public. If you want to put your two cents worth into the discussion, vote on board members, BE a board member, you need to be a member of CSI.

JOIN CSI! We need both your financial support and voluntary input. The future of this forum and website is at stake.
Cybersmiths International
- guru - Sunday, 04/11/04 13:57:04 EDT

Easter: May your day be blessed.I want to say thank you for your wisdom and advice. Happy Easter
- Ritch - Sunday, 04/11/04 16:17:21 EDT

Brake Drum Forge: I finally got a picture of my forge on my computer... If any of you want to know what I meant by cutting a hole in the side or just want to see how I made mine drop me a line and I will e-mail a pic to you... Happy Easter
- Joe R - Sunday, 04/11/04 23:18:56 EDT

free forge: I live in Mesa Arizona and I have been crippled by osteoarthritis. Years ago I built a forge of welded diamond plate with a ˝ inch plate duck’s nest and a 3/8 inch thickness walled tweer. It is built to use an electric exhaust fan as a blower. I t has a rocking type clinker breaker built into the nest. It will go free to the first person that shows up to claim it. Contact me at for particulars.
- J D Ricks - Monday, 04/12/04 01:56:06 EDT

J. D. Ricks:

A most generous offer, sir. I hope a "newbie" is the first to contact you.
Paw Paw - Monday, 04/12/04 02:48:59 EDT

Hoof, lets look at a project or 2 that I've done. 4 years ago, I was asked if I could build an archway for a cemetery. This would be a copy of work that a welding shop has done several times in the past (my customers request). #1
I was asked if I do build one.

I was asked what the price would be.

I then asked the customer what was the past price they paid for the merchandise (this customer had purchased 3 arches from the welding shop in years past). They kinda himmed and hawed around answering me. We came to a figure that I thought I could live with. Comparitively speaking, steel was cheap then. I had to build tooling and come up with a way to roll arches in 1 1/4
- Ten Hammers - Monday, 04/12/04 08:37:28 EDT

Pricing: Well, lot got chopped off the post. Suffice to say that I have a daily rate of $200.- that I try to stay with and use as a target. Sometimes I hit it, sometimes I don't.
- Ten Hammers - Monday, 04/12/04 08:42:51 EDT

More Pricing: Hoof,

To stay in business today and make a reasonable income of around $40,000 US you need to charge $100/hr. This does not proportion down. If you bill $20/k less a year you will only make $20k.

I've run through all the numbers numerous times for folks but it works like this. IF you are VERY efficient, a REAL go-getter and work long hours you MIGHT be able to charge for 50% of a working day (on average). This means you can only bill for 1010 hours a year IF you are fully booked AND very efficient. At $100/hr that sounds like a LOT. But add up rent, utilities, insurance, truck expense, materials and equipment and over half of that can dissapear. Most self employed are not 50% efficient or fully booked. You can end up with only 500 to 700 billable hours. At that point you gross $50/$70 K and expenses can eat up 75 to 100% of that. . .

START with what you NEED to make, estimate your productive hours (gofering, paying the bills, making estimates are ALL lost hours). Calculate your expenses. If you don't rent and your shop is paid for you will have property taxes, building maintenance (plumbers bills). Don't forget machinery and tool costs. It is easy to spend several thousand dollars a year on electric drills, bits, files. . . Include fuel and steel (you may purchse them by the job but in the big picture they are a small part of things and can be averaged). Ferret it all out like doing taxes. THEN divide the annual expense by the number of productive hours (1000 max). That is your hourly overhead. YES, the expenses run 24hrs a day but you only pay them off during your billable hours. . .

THEN take your needed annual income (before taxes), divide by the same number of productive hours and add that to your hourly expense. The total will surprise you.

When self employed the killer is the non-productive hours. Setting up shop, machinery repairs, cleaning, answering the phone are ALL non-productive hours.

You will find that it IS possible to bill that $100/hour on the right type work IF you have the necessary tools and machinery to be as efficient as possible.

It can be done making big OR little things. To make small things you must be able to cut stock in bulk efficiently (shear or ironworker) forge them quickly (talent), finish them even more quickly (vibratory finisher and dipping) and pack to ship at low cost. Finishing is a BIG bug-a-boo in smithing that most smiths overlook. Many end up spending more time cleaning and waxing (bad) than forging and wonder why they don't make money charging for just the forging time. . .

Most of us find that to make enough as a self employed smith we have to work 10 to 14 hour days to get in that 1000 productive hours a year. It is TOUGH working alone.

Those that make decent money usualy have employees (another HUGE expense). Employees can get in more productive hours IF you are efficeint in setting the up. But do not expect much more than 50%. And they must be billed at the FULL shop rate because you, the owner now have more issues to deal with as well as more insurance, bookkeeping, taxes . . .

I have made all these mistakes, over estimating productive hours, not planning on finishing time, doing things on the cheap (inefficiently). The results were years where I worked VERY hard and took a loss at the end of the year.

If you don't believe me then try "NEW Edge of the Anvil". Jack uses a slightly different method than I do but the results are the same.
- guru - Monday, 04/12/04 11:54:00 EDT

Piecework pricing (Per job):
The other way to work pricing if you are not full time is by the piece. This too takes serious thought about time and where it goes. I bid jobs out by the piece on a sliding scale. You figure ALL the costs for making 1, 2, 10, 100, 1000, 10,000 and graph them. The graph is one of those square log curves that drop precitisouly and then flatten out and stay very nearly the same after about 1,000 units.

The reason for this is that many folks want you to give them a thousands price on a handfull of pieces. We had a company that always asked for prices by the 1,000 and 10,000 and then ordered 20 each. So always start with the cost for ONE.

ALL the costs. This includes the time to get stock, fuel and deliver the work. These can be large costs ESPECIALY if you live in a rural area. When applied to ONE piece you use the full minimum steel order ($50?) plus your transportation time. In the 1980's I added $100 on the front and back of the job for pickup and delivery. In reality this can amount to a full day or more front and back.

Then there is the cost to MAKE the item. Up to using all the minimum steel order the material cost is high and would go - $50 for one, $25 each for two, $5 for 10 . . . At some point on your graph the material for each piece is actual cost.

Then there is tooling. IF you are going to make 100 or more then you need to determine if you need a bending jig or JIGS. Those "quote 1,000 order 20" jobs had multiple jigs and fixtures. I guessed at the number of days to make the jigs. Lets say ONE DAY at $500 on our estimate (mine was $1,800).

So the tooling cost for ONE each is $500, 10 each $50, 1000 each 50 cents. SO, before making your first part you have $750 dollars in attributable costs (pickup, material, tooling, delivery).

THEN you determine the actual time to make the piece. I estimated EVERY step in minutes and added them all up. Just guestimating a few minutes here, a few there. . can get you darn close to reality.

You would think time should equal one = one all the way across the graph. But this is not so, you need to assume one production day minimum (4 hours). Then divide until you reach par (one = one). Multiply time by your hourly rate of $100/hr which include overhead.

SO, now your graph looks like:

1 = ($100 + $50 + $500 + $400 + $100) $1,150 each
2 = ($100 + $50 + $500 + $400 + $100)/2 $575 each
10 = $115 each
100 = $11.50 each
1000 = $1.50 each plus actual time and material costs per unit.

The actual cost point might be reached at less than 1000 units (50 to 500?). But remember that the front end, back end and setup costs are always there PER JOB.

SO, the first S-hook or widget you make may cost you $1,150 each. Until you make and sell more than 100 you have to get at least $11.5 each and somewhere around that you start charging actual costs.

This works for everything from nails to automobiles. The sliding scale keeps you out of trouble when you quote on high quantity and the customer is trying to bluff you.

The parts I was making were $18 each at 1,000. The initial order was 20. Then 100 were ordered. Since the 20 had paid the tooling costs I took that out of the second quote. But there were still front end and back end costs. At 100 the parts were selling for around $60 each. I made VERY good money. The customer ordered no more parts because of the 1984 embargo due to the invasion of Afganistan. . . I would have lost my shirt if I had quoted prices based on a thousand.

One offs and small orders can be VERY expensive. If you show your customer the cost for one verses 100 and 1000 they may better understand the reason for the high price. If they don't understand then tough. Often they do and order a quantity at a price THEY can live with.

Often we buy materials on a guess of what we will need in the future and then ignore the costs as we use it up. This is easy to do and costs you money if you do not consider the front end costs when you take material out of exising stock. Doing careful piecework quotes can avoid this.

YES, I can go out in the shop and make an S-hook in about 5 minutes assuming the forge is hot. The stock and tools are there, and after making thousands I am very efficient. In priduction I would have to do better. The FIRST one cost me years of collecting tools and many rejects before I made a decent hook. THOSE INITIAL COSTS are still there but have been greatly depreciated over the years of making thousands of hooks and other things. However, every new job presents new problems and associated costs. You need to be careful not to give your labor OR your investment in your shop away.
- guru - Monday, 04/12/04 13:18:28 EDT


Those two posts, taken together, are a FAQ. Save them as such.
Paw Paw - Monday, 04/12/04 14:22:26 EDT

I got to talk with my father over Easter and we discussed outsourcing to overseas. Turns out that one of the factories he dealt with had done so 20 years ago and he had looked into it. The interesting thing was that low overseas salaries were not that big a cost factor, out of an apx $20 "cost" each item had about 13 cents of labour in it in the States and 5 cents in Singapore!

Where they saved big was that the factory in Singapore didn't have a PR department, didn't have several layers of management between supervisor and factory maneger and had a lot less "government red tape" and so didn't require the accountants and lawyers of the US corp.

Course this is different for products that require a lot of hand work, like code...but I found it interesting that the labour costs are always what you hear about; while the "cost of doing business" was the real factor.

Thomas P - Monday, 04/12/04 16:45:07 EDT

OOPS that was *8* cents in Singapore for a 5 cent savings....

Thomas P - Monday, 04/12/04 16:46:19 EDT

sorry: Sorry to hear of Jrs. wife passing away. I should check the site more often. I will keep them in my prayers.
- Stiffy - Monday, 04/12/04 18:34:23 EDT

Pricing: Thanks Guru for the wealth of info. you provided. I appreciate the time you took to compose your posts. I'm really glad I didn't have to pay you. LOL. I kinda wish I lived back in the days when I could be paid in chickens and pigs.
- Hoof - Tuesday, 04/13/04 01:28:37 EDT

Another reminder for Australian viewers (east coast)
- Phil H - Tuesday, 04/13/04 02:25:39 EDT

Pricing: I felt bad that I didn't include the others that gave me some good advice when I thanked the Guru. So I thought I had better take care of that. Ten Hammers, Bruce Blackistone, Smartleigh Smitten, Ellen, and Vicopper, my gratitude to you. I got word back from my first bid I turned in the other day and got the job. I will make 60% more than I had originally planned to bid for that job. I can use it. I have been laid off for almost 7 months from my regular job and can use the money. Ran out of unemployment bennies and expect a call back in about two weeks.
Hoof - Tuesday, 04/13/04 14:50:27 EDT

Free Books:

Norm Larson Posted the following message across the street.

CoSIRA, RDC, Countryside blacksmithing books

Sorry if the below information has already been posted to this site. It turns out that the Countryside Agency has made several of the popular blacksmithing books from England available for free download. The URL for the books available is listed below:

The books available for download are: Blacksmith's Craft, The Blacksmith Manual Illustrated, Wrought Ironwork, Catalogue of Drawings for Wrought Ironwork (also the catalogues for Gates, and Weathervanes), Decorative Ironwork, and Metals for Engineering Craftsmen. Plus a few other titles such as Wheel Making, and Thatching.

You'll need Adobe Reader to make the downloads. The smaller books like the Blacksmith's Craft can be configured to print two pages per sheet.

While these are all great books and very popular, I've always thought they were fairly pricey--but now for FREE!

Norm Larson
Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/13/04 16:36:35 EDT

Pricing: One of the first times I ever demoed this old guy (who's Dad was a blacksmith) said that his Dad told him that there are only 2 reasons that a blacksmith will go broke. The first reason is he doesn't learn to control his fire, the second reason he doesn't charge enough. Glad you got the job!
JimG - Tuesday, 04/13/04 20:45:10 EDT

Free Forge: FREE FORGE: I live in MESA, ARIZONA. Due to crippling osteoarthritis I can no longer smith. I have a 2’x3’ coal fired forge that uses a vent fan type blower. It’s welded of 1/8th inch diamond plate with a ˝” plate steel duck’s nest and tuyere. The tuyere mouth has a rocking grate to break up clinker. It should last for years with care. Since I can no longer use it. It will go free to the first person that shows up at my front door to claim it. Contact me at for directions to my house.
- j d ricks - Wednesday, 04/14/04 03:46:38 EDT

Pricing: Hoof, good deal on the bid. Just an extra addition to the story. Steel truck came yesterday. 1 sheet 16 ga and a couple of 1/4 x 1 bars. Sheet was $52.00 (well plus a little, the file is in the shop). I looked at a January invoice for the same. Was $31.50 for same sheet.
- Ten Hammers - Wednesday, 04/14/04 07:20:18 EDT

Metal Price: whenever I start buggin' about how much it costs I just think about what the item would cost me if someone else made it... not to mention the satisfaction I get from creating my own things. Just a thought
- Joe R. - Wednesday, 04/14/04 17:54:09 EDT

Amen to that one, brother!

eander4 - Wednesday, 04/14/04 18:24:01 EDT

Facial Hair and Metalworking: I have been working on a theory that to properly work metal a good mass of facial hair helps. At least for me, whenever I shave it seems all my measurements are off, welds fail and hot slag likes to get into interesting places... Sound off all mustaches, go-tees, Chops, beards, etc. Lets see how a good old fashoined poll
Joe R - Wednesday, 04/14/04 23:23:29 EDT

Price of Metal; Free Forge Offer: Just think of the man-hours it would take if, like Thomas the Far Traveled, you started off with 50 bushels of charcoal and a dozen buckets of ore. And ours come in nice square bars, flat sheets, and round rods and has some reliable consistency. Also, we live in a world full of scrap, much of which never makes it to the junkyard. It may cost more compared to the recent pass, but historically, we live in a world of unparalleled material wealth.

Mr. Ricks:

A most generous offer. I trust some of our Arizona readers will take you up, and the equipment will find a good home. Thank you for thinking of others.

Minor flooding (...the swamp has filled up!) on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Go viking:

Camp Fenby (a laid-back medieval arts and crafts camp-out) June 25-27, 2004

Visit your National Parks:
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 04/14/04 23:29:58 EDT

Beards & Facial Hair: Joe R, I haven't shaved the beard off since 1980, in 1992 - 1995 I had to drop down to a goatee from a full, but trimmed beard. The mustache hasn't been off since 1971. At most, I've taken a trimmer and dropped beard length down to a minimum - did that in 1999 for the 200th anniversary of George Washington's death. We were the only F & I unit at Mt. Vernon, dressed in the 1st uniform of the VA regiment-a solid red coat. BAR didn't really want us camping with them, so they put us in a separate location which turned out to be near the gate so the 1st thing the tourists saw was us. We spent all weekend explaining that no, we weren't British, but were Washington's first command. BAR was a little ticked at the attention we received, but they were the ones who set it up.
- Gavainh - Thursday, 04/15/04 00:20:48 EDT

Facial Hair: Joe,

Just a moustache here. I have to maintain some semblance of professionalism for my day job. (grin)
eander4 - Thursday, 04/15/04 02:16:46 EDT

Back on the Boards: First off I just wanted to say im back from spring break and happy to be back on the boards. I only got in 1 forging session this spring break where i made a BBQ fork for the BBQ that got rained out :( . I did 1 casting session also where I made an ignot... yep 1 ignot. nothing exciting.

Well I hate to bring casting questions on the blacksmithing boards but from recent experiences with my questions here it seems that most blacksmiths take up casting too. Now I was read a book "Practical Casting" by Tim McCreight and in it he talked about pouring molten metal into a 5 gallon bucket of water. Now from EVERY thing I have read and heard that is that pouring molten metal into anything with moisture will cause a sudden metal explosion. This sounds like a deathtrap but have any of you heard of it?

Now back to just some minor "Chit-Chat" im started on a new project. We are getting ready to build a smithy instead of leaving my forge outside where it rust and I can work in rain. And my goal is to make all the major hardware to build it with exceptions to screw because that would be very difficult but brackets, hinges, locks, and handles. Sound interesting? lets see if i can do it.
- Dan Crabtree - Thursday, 04/15/04 03:25:04 EDT

Joe, R.:

I've worn a full beard off and on for the last 10 - 12 years. Off at the moment.
Paw Paw - Thursday, 04/15/04 07:42:00 EDT

Casting: Dan,

Pouring molten metal into a bucket of water is no problem, as long as you have a sufficient volume of water to cool the metal to below the boiling point of the water fairly quickly. This is how shot was made in the days before they developed shot towers with water sprays and mist jets. It is still how silversmiths make round shot for granulation work.

The big hazard is pouring the water into the hot metal. That will certainly caause a steam explosion, blowing molten metal all over everywhere.

The difference is the relative thermal masses of the metal and the water. The water will vaporize to stem instantly if there is sufficient thermal mass to exceed what the water can absorb. The metal, when poured into water, gives up its heat to the water, but the water (if there is enough) can absorb a lot without vaporizing, so no steam explosion.

The same scenario occurs when mixing acid and water. If you pour acid into water, the water absorbs the generated heat pretty uniformly and everything is okay. But if you pour the water into the acid, the exothermic reaction is so quick that the water boils instantly, causing a steam explosion.

Your plans for the smithy sound like fun. That's what I am doing with the new smithy I'm building. I'll be making all the hardware, including that required for some of the tools. Actually, all I've accomplished so far is making the hardware to mount the post vice, one door pull and a pair of brackets for the bar on the big double doors. I have about twenty pairsof big pintle hinges to make for the shutters and doors, a corbel bracket for the roof beam, cane bolts, hasps, etc. It will take a while, but I really need to start spending some time on it so I can get the shutters all up before the height of hurricane season. Too many projects, as usual. (grin)
vicopper - Thursday, 04/15/04 10:05:25 EDT

facial hair: Full beard since 1990, shaved on two occasions: once to satisfy the request of a female (didn't impress anyone, grew it back ASAP), and once for medical purposes, on the theory that you can't keep wounds clean if you can't see them!

I keep it slightly longer than fashionable, but still short enough to be considered professional.
Alan-L - Thursday, 04/15/04 10:11:07 EDT

Beards: Joe R, I guess I am SoL, I'm getting close to 30 and still can only grow a Shaggy style goatee(think Scooby Doo). I went a week without shaving and my wife would just look at my chin and laugh. Her dad has worn a full beard since he was 14-15. She is praying our son does takes after him.
Shack - Thursday, 04/15/04 10:19:06 EDT

Molten metal, air and water: The historical buffs will know this,casting bulllets was a slow process, much to slow for a nation at war.
A quote from the web site below:
"In days of old, shot for rifles was made in the "Shot Tower." Molten lead was dropped from the top of the tower into a vat of water at the bottom. The lead droplets, like raindrops, would form into perfect spheres, cool and solidify as they fell into the cooling water vat below."

Baltimore shot tower
- mike - Thursday, 04/15/04 10:23:26 EDT

beards: Have one and have no plans on losing it either. SHaved it when the US Navy said to in 1985 ( or was in 1986?) Well when ever they said no more beards. Grew it back while on terminal leave in 1990. Shaved it for a job interveiw with Disney World in late 1990.( got the job) grew it back once I quit Disney in '91. have had a beard since then.
Ralph - Thursday, 04/15/04 11:31:02 EDT

Well, lets see, wore a goat from the time I was in college, waxed moustache, till the time I took up with a lady who *liked* full beards and hated moustache wax

Shaved the beard off for Job interview in 1989 and kept it shaved for that jobs 6 month probation period..

Full beard for the next 14 years tending longer over time till my wife used to braid it for me---interesting reaction you get to walking down the street with anvils hanging off your beard...(course Dep has messed with that now)

Laid off last May and shaved the monday after. Kept clean shaven till I had my job interview---4 out of the 5 men I saw working their had beards so I started mine again the moment I accepted their offer. It will be a while before I can braid it again though...

It has been forge trimmed a couple of tiems through the years though...

Thomas scrounging metal on the hoof now...sotospeak...
Thomas P - Thursday, 04/15/04 12:01:39 EDT

Beard: My beard came in merthiolate orange and red.Scary thing to see. Now it's turned white.The boss says no moustache or curls.So I'm clean-cut and hen-pecked.
- Ritch - Thursday, 04/15/04 13:56:27 EDT

Shot, etc.: The historical bufs will also point out that shot towers only work for small shot, since you can't really control the size well enough to make round ball for rifles and muskets that way. Sorry to "shoot" that one down!
Alan-L - Thursday, 04/15/04 14:45:45 EDT

Drifting Away!: It's time for me to make myself some new hole sizing drifts. I don't remember what I used for my old ones, and since they are only sizing drifts I'm probably overanalyzing here. The sizes I use are 3/8, 1/2 and 5/8 in both round and square. S7 tool steel should be ideal, A2 is easily found and W1 is dirt cheap! Any thoughts?
Roy - Thursday, 04/15/04 16:50:12 EDT

Beards: Guess I'm one of the old timers here. Grew a mustache while in the Army, started sometime in 70. Shaved until one very cold winter back in either 76 or 78. Still farming then. Haven't shaved since. Full beard. Trim it about two, three times a year.
- Larry - Thursday, 04/15/04 20:39:05 EDT

Charcoal: Does any one were to purhcase charcoal in bulk in pa
and how much is an acceptable price.
Ben Christy - Thursday, 04/15/04 21:05:11 EDT

Drifts: Roy, I've not had any trouble using plain old mild steel, but then I don't use them a lot.
Alan-L - Thursday, 04/15/04 21:23:33 EDT

Water & Molten metal: vicopper - I think you have it partly right. The biggest consideration I believe is the ratio of water to metal, and associated temperatures. Back when I worked in an steel mill making ingots, a little bit of water in the bottom of a mold was a disaster - molten steel almost immediately changed it to superheated steam with a resultant explosion. Note - one of the goals in an ingot shop was to keep the molds "warm" around 400 F, so no water + some other beneficial processing operations. On the other hand we made low carbon rimming ingots there, so a standard part of the process was to water the tops of the ingots after adding a loose fitting mechanical cap to stop the rimming action. Can't ever remember a big problem - the water just sat on top of the ingots merrily boiling away. In most instances, water is significantly lighter than the molten metal, so you've got to work to get it entrapped to cause a steam explosion.
- Gavainh - Thursday, 04/15/04 22:23:54 EDT

Charcoal: Ben, try the restaurant supply houses in either Pittsburgh or Philly.
vicopper - Thursday, 04/15/04 22:55:16 EDT

We used to buy in bulk from the Hunphry's Charcoal plant in Brookville PA (closer to Pit than Phil), for our iron smelting at Pennsic.

Don't know if they are still in business; but if you go take a good loke at the office building built in 1929 in moorish revival with a lovelyu hand forged raining inside.

- Thomas Powers - Thursday, 04/15/04 23:35:30 EDT

Beards: Thanks to all you that responded, won me $5 off my buddy. I will do the right thing a purchase coal or other forging equipment with it... or maybe spend it on prom, who knows lol
Joe R - Friday, 04/16/04 02:32:38 EDT

ROY/DRIFTS: Roy; The 3/8" could come from BIG garage door springs, the 1/2" and 5/8" from car coil springs. Tuff stuff.
3dogs - Friday, 04/16/04 03:29:30 EDT

Drifts and beards.....: I have 1/2, 3/8 and 1/4" drifts made from plain old hot rolled, and superquenched. They hold up pretty good, but if not, I just whang 'em back straight. A 3# coffee can almost full of water (on the floor, below the pritchel hole)works pretty good to cool them off. You'll be glad you made the drifts a little longer so you can fish them out of the water easier. I have had a mustache since 71 I guess. I shaved with Grandpa's straight razor for couple years before I grew the beard in '93 (after 18 years of shaving for corporate America). I run the weed eater across it a few times a year. It does become a problem when it gets in the seat belt shoulder strap, or the overall straps. You'll smell it burnin' every so often when I'm in the shop but no big problem.
- Ten Hammers - Friday, 04/16/04 08:39:49 EDT

Beards: besides, as my friend Mark says, "this is what God wanted my face to look like anyway" :)
- Ten Hammers - Friday, 04/16/04 08:41:56 EDT

Someone wants us Old Farts: Thanks to everyone who has sent us Heart stories over the last several years, but our editors say we are running low on "copy." Please search your files for some stories we may not have run and send them to Bill (CPT Otis) O'Quin at Thanks!
A Call to Arms for Old Soldiers
Author Unknown

If I could, I'd enlist today and help my country track down those responsible for killing thousands of innocent people in New York City and Washington, D.C. But, I'm over 60 now and the Armed Forces say I'm too old to track down terrorists. You can't be older than 35 to join the military.

They've got the whole thing backwards. Instead of sending 18-year-olds off to fight, they ought to take us old guys. You shouldn't be able to join until you're at least 35. For starters:

- Researchers say 18-year-olds think about sex every 10 seconds. Old guys only think about sex a couple of times a day, leaving us more that 28,000 additional seconds per day to concentrate on the enemy.

- Young guys haven't lived long enough to be cranky, and a cranky soldier is a dangerous soldier. If we can't kill the enemy we'll complain them into submission. "My back hurts!" "I'm hungry!" "Where's the remote control?"

- An 18-year-old hasn't had a legal beer yet and you shouldn't go to war until you're at least old enough to legally drink. An average old guy, on the other hand, has consumed 126,000 gallons of beer by the time he's 35 and a jaunt through the desert heat with a backpack and M-60 would do wonders for the old beer belly.

- An 18-year-old doesn't like to get up before 10 a.m. Old guys get up early (to pee).

- If old guys are captured we couldn't spill the beans because we'd probably forget where we put them. In fact, name, rank, and serial number would be a real brainteaser.

- Boot camp would actually be easier for old guys. We're used to getting screamed and yelled at and we actually like soft food. We've also developed a deep appreciation for guns and rifles. We like them almost better than naps. They could lighten up on the obstacle course, however. I've been in combat and didn't see a single 20-foot wall with rope hanging over the side, nor did I ever do any pushups after training. I can hear the Drill Sergeant now, "Get down and give"

- And the running part is kind of a waste of energy. I've never seen anyone outrun a bullet.

An 18-year-old has the whole world ahead of him. He's still learning to shave. To actually carry on a conversation. To wear pants without the top of the butt crack showing and the boxer shorts sticking out. To learn that a pierced tongue catches food particles. And that a 200-watt speaker in the back seat of a Honda Accord can rupture an eardrum. All great reasons to keep our sons at home and to learn a little more about life before sending them off to a possible death. Let us old guys track down those dirty, rotten cowards who attacked our hearts on September 11.

The last thing the enemy would want to see right now is a couple of million old toads with attitudes.
DanD Skabvenger - Friday, 04/16/04 08:49:40 EDT

I messed that up: Hope I got this right this time.
DanD Skabvenger - Friday, 04/16/04 09:55:41 EDT

America in Unform
DanD Skabvenger - Friday, 04/16/04 09:59:22 EDT

Facial fur: I grew my moustache when I was about 18, and it's been on my lip since then, with only one short period when it had to come off to satisfy the grooming regs when I first becam a cop in '71. That's 1971, before anyone says anything smart. (grin)

During my civilian hiatus from 78 to 91, I had a full beard. Not because I necessarily love beards, but because I hate shaving. Nowadays I sport only the moustache and still, after more than ten thousand shaves, I hate shaving. When I retire from the department I'll probably grow the beard again, just so I can look like a real blacksmith. (grin)
vicopper - Friday, 04/16/04 10:27:59 EDT

Old geezers: Dan,

I've said that same thing about a jillion times, only applied to police officers. It's always the young hotheads who get into trouble, while us old pharts get the job done without too much fuss.

When I went through the police academy here at age 42, the rest of the class was just half my age. They were continually amazed that I could keep up with them physically, and often very surprised at what experience will do for you. Numerous times I surprised one of the young recruits during self-defence training when I did something totally unexpected, vanquishing an opponent half again my size and half my age. Old age and treachery wins out over youth and enthusiasm, every time. (grin)

Put two rookies in a car on night shift and they spend all their time talking about their conquests, either legal or sexual. Put two old slick-sleeves in that same car and you hear an organ recital; every organ and bodily function that doesn't work like it used to. Hey, priorities change, right? (grin)
vicopper - Friday, 04/16/04 10:38:19 EDT

Thancks im only about 10miunutes away from coopers lake
so that should work great!
Ben Christy - Friday, 04/16/04 10:49:22 EDT

It always makes you feel good when you can surprise a young'n. I had to move a heavy piece of equipment earlier this year so I dragooned my Daughters highschool boyfriend into helping. So I get my end off the pickup and drag his end to the tailgate. He grabs it and goes straight to the ground---my daughter had to help him carry it while I was standing around holding up the entire other end.

He treated me with a bit more respect after that!

Thomas P - Friday, 04/16/04 11:34:10 EDT

Surprising the Youngsters.:

When I was with the local Department, I was an FTO (Field Training Officer). I had one simple routine that I used to iniate and teach the young guys about respect.

We had a guy here in town whose nickname was PorkChop. Today he'd be called a "Homeless victim", then we just called him a wino.

PC was 6'6" tall and weighed 300#. About a pound of that was fat. PC was as easy to work with as a new puppy, as long as you treated him with respect. But if you tried to come on as a "big, bad, police" you were in for a ride. I've seen it take 6 officers to put PC into the back of the car, and 4 more to get him out. He'd fight tooth and nail until he got into the Clerk of Courts office then he went back into puppy mode.

I'd tell the rookie "Go get that bum and throw him in the back of the car, he's drunk in public!" The rookie would try it just that way. "All right you, get in the car!" and the fun would begin.

I'd let it run till the rookie was almost ready to go to the holster, and then I'd get out of the car and say, "PorkChop, you know better than this! Go get in the car, please." PC would stop fighting and go get in the car with no further problem. All it took was that one "please".

The rookies tended to listen a lot better after the bruises faded.
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/16/04 12:40:53 EDT

Police: I wish you were around to teach that to the LAPD cops I dealt with at least once a weeks when I lived in Los Angeles. I didn't meet one officer down there that wouldn't play the "big badass" role when he wanted to harrass me. Granted, I was doing things that warrented the attention, but they would have found me much easier to deal with if they would have been a little more human rather than just looking for excuses to mess with myself and my friends. Now that I live in a small town I find that since the police have more respect for me, I have more respect for them. Staying out of trouble is a lot easier, at least for me, when people give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are going to do the right thing rather than the opposite.
Positive police make for a positive environment, where positive things will grow and spread.

Please excuse the
- Joe R - Friday, 04/16/04 14:58:48 EDT

Training rookies: We had a guy very much like that when I was young. Darn near every officer on the department had, at one time or another, had to take Rocky in for D&D. Almost always took three or more officers. The first time I had to deal with him, I just calmly told him that since he was so much bigger than me, and since he had such a fearsome reputation, I was NOT going to call for backup. Rocky wqas so surprised that a youngster who was half his size was willing to try him one-on-one, that he just grinned at me and climbed in the car. He even offered to put the cuffs on himself. After that, I never had a problem with him.

I try to convince our new rookies that harrassing people or bullying them only instills fear, not restpect. And a man who is afraid of you will jump you from behind, while one who respects you may still resist, but will at least not ambush you. Respect is never demanded, it is only EARNED. Unfortunately, too many officers think that they have to come off as "tough guys" to get respect. Sadly, Holllywood has only exacerbated the problem by making heroes out of tough guys.
vicopper - Friday, 04/16/04 15:20:21 EDT

Started a beard in 74 in high school, shaved it off for the Army in late 74. Moustache in 75 and ever since. Beard again in 77 for a while, till sister showed then girlfriend(now wife)picture from Army. Beard came right off! Must have worked though, as May 10th is 23 years of marriage to that same girl!LOL
ptree - Friday, 04/16/04 17:39:24 EDT

beard: Well, I get about 3 days growth out and then the dg complains and says she wants me to shave. Ya'll can say i'm whipped, but it aint good to have a pregnant woman mad at you!
- dragon-boy - Friday, 04/16/04 17:46:11 EDT

If the dragon-girl is preggers with your dragon-child,a litle respect is called for. At least shave till she can't catch you! Then you'll have may-be 3 months to grow a beard. You will pay in the long run though! LOL
ptree - Friday, 04/16/04 19:39:06 EDT

whiskers: I have had the mustache since I was old enought to grow it. About 1972 I believe. Only time I could have a beard since then has been when I have been on sick leave. My regular job requires a slick face in order to wear a repirator, and also I cant have a beard and fight fires in my off time.

Vic & Paw Paw, we had a guy like that in Chilicothe, OH. Back in the late 70's, Big Jim (real big)hated city policemen & would fight all comers. If one of our Sheriff's Deputies went to get him, he never gave us any trouble. Something in his past dealings with them made him that way.
Brian C - Friday, 04/16/04 20:55:18 EDT


proof then post!!
Brian C - Friday, 04/16/04 20:57:54 EDT

years...: Dawn has stuck by me for 23 years this July 3rd.
With and with out beard.... My choice is with...(g)
Ralph - Friday, 04/16/04 21:14:04 EDT

23 is good!
ptree - Friday, 04/16/04 22:49:23 EDT

Ralph, 23 is great! Congratulations.

I LIKE beards but have had no luck in growing one....VBG!
Ellen - Friday, 04/16/04 23:09:20 EDT

ELLEN!!!!!!!!: shame on you...... you must not try to do the beard thing.....
It would hide your lovely smile!

Oh thanks. But Dawn is really the one who deserves the credit.....
Ralph - Saturday, 04/17/04 02:18:01 EDT

File sharpening: Just a little heads up on an old time technique that I've never tried 'till yesterday. I bought an old (pretty much wore out) nail keg full of junk. Several screwdrivers. Hog ringers, couple of bit index boxes and other junk. Also 3 very rusty files and a rusty rasp. Youngest daughter was over helping Dad do some grinding. I plopped the files in a 5 gallon bucket of Muriatic (cut a third anyway) and actually forgot them for couple hours. Pulled one out and was pleasantly surprised. I grinned like a kid. Daughter picked up on the grin. When she finished grinsing, I told her the story of being aware of the rust removal technique (and alleged file sharpening) for many years. Finally took the leap to test it. Works great. :) I will say that I didn't "kill " the acid, just water rinsed. I haven't had any TSP around for a while and will get some later today. I just rinsed, wire brushed and dried the files with compressed air. I put them on the table and will inspect them shortly to see if overnight rust has developed before I store them in the file box. This chemical sharpeining is good stuff. The files have had a rough life, but they still will be useful (2 mill bastards and a 2nd cut - all Nicholsons).
- Ten Hammers - Saturday, 04/17/04 09:43:15 EDT

Anvils: Where can i get an anvil? I can't find one anywhere.
- Needanvil - Saturday, 04/17/04 18:44:51 EDT

anvil locations: New anvils can be bought from various advitisers here on anvilfire. Anvils can be found on ebay, can be found in junk yards, neighbors garages, estate sales, blacksmith events( tail gate areas)
Also anvils do not always look like anvils. Any large piece of steel will work, as long as there is at least one reasonabley flat area.
Or are you asking where to find the FREE anvil? If so there forty four of them about 3 points off the starboard bow......
Ralph - Saturday, 04/17/04 20:35:06 EDT

Needanvil, there is one for sale right over there, no a bit more thataway...

Could you at least tell us what continent you are on? This is an *international* forum.

- Thomas Powers - Sunday, 04/18/04 02:17:54 EDT

i just got one (anvil) from old world anvils and i really like it.also they have execlent customer service check out there sight just serch for it i paid about 360 including shipping for a 120 pound anvil
Ben Christy - Sunday, 04/18/04 22:52:28 EDT

Anvil Searches: Any flat, hard surface will do... I used rocks for a while(until they broke), then moved up to a railroad rail, then to an old farrier's anvil. Soon I will have to get a good smith's anvil. But like these other gentlemen have said, estate sales are really good places to look. If you live near any farming communities someone will have an anvil they are sitting on. Put up signs on community bulletin boards. "By any means necessary(within the limits of the law)" should be your motto.

Happy hunting
Joe R - Monday, 04/19/04 02:50:58 EDT

anvils part two: Not just farm areas.
Any I repeat any factory or industrial area. They all used to have the oddest assortment of tooling. anvils power hammers etc.
Places you would never think of having them. Plastic factories sugar mills and refineries, power plants, and so on. Look EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!
Ask Thomas the Orange. He has just relocated to New Mexico and has already started finding lots of stuff.
Folks just need to look, and ask around.
Ralph - Monday, 04/19/04 03:57:50 EDT

Clipart: Could anyone point me towards some ironwork and other blacksmithing clipart? I'm putting together an award certificate and would like to decorate it. Specifically, I'm looking for some scrollwork, such as a sign bracket, to put in the corners. But other tidbits would be welcome, too.


MarcG - Monday, 04/19/04 09:13:15 EDT

Beards: I've had my beard off and on for about 25 years. Mostly on, but once in a while I like to shake things up. The 'stache is always on.

I tried letting the beard get all bushy this winter, but it kept getting caught in my zipper (not that one, it wasn't *that* long).
- MarcG - Monday, 04/19/04 09:18:21 EDT

wooden bellows: Folks, I'm hopeing to post a few pictures tomorrow of the monster, all wood bellows/dual action pump that I peiced together over the weekend. It all depends on if I can get the dang digital camera to work or not.
dragon-boy - Monday, 04/19/04 18:25:28 EDT

DB, how easily does it pump? I built a double lunged belows that I can pump with my pinkie and can weld up billets.

Hope you don't have to move yours very often, mine's enough of a pain to take to demo's and events...

- Thomas P - Monday, 04/19/04 19:08:14 EDT

NC Calvery Anvils: Anyone have one? Are they good or more of a farrier anvil. Im saving up money for a good anvil for when I get the smithy built. And by the way my family tends to work could be a year could be next week. But their anvils look nice and are fairly priced. The horns look incredibly big but maybe thats an advantage. Right now im fortunate enough to have a small aprox. 20 lbs anvil. Im not a 100% on the style the anvil is. I think its just a small multi puropose anvil. It was used alot by a person using a chisel.

Also I heard there was a decent amount of money in being a farrier. Is this ture?
- Dan Crabtree - Tuesday, 04/20/04 14:39:38 EDT


Almost all of the NC Tool anvils are Farrier pattern. They are a farrier oriented company, although much of their equipment is also usefull for a blacksmith.

Farrier anvils don't really have enough mass under the main part of the body to work very well for blacksmithing.

That said, any anvil is better than no anvil.

Farriers do make a fair living, but it's extremely hard, physical work. Imagine holding up a horse with your back. When you lift a horses hoof off the ground, he/she/it wants to lean on that foot. Farrier's backs and knees give out pretty quick. I know a bunch of blacksmiths who used to be farriers.

Note the use of the past tense in that last sentence.
Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/20/04 16:18:18 EDT

Anvils: Dan Crabtree,

I'll echo what Paw Paw said; farrier's anvils have the mass in the wrong place to be most efficient at general blacksmithing. One of the most efficient patterns is the double-horned European pattern anvil. It has heavy central mass, a round and a square horn and puts the hardie hole at the front of the face where it is stronger and doesn't get in your way.

One of Anvilfire's regular advertisers, Steve Feinstein of Euroanvils, sells Czechoslovakian anvils in the European pattern that are a great value for the money. Not only that, but Steve backs his products and his customers 100%. I have never heard anyone say anything but good things about Steve and his anvils. I've added the link so you can check them out.
vicopper - Tuesday, 04/20/04 16:37:28 EDT

Dan, check into the cost of health insurance when you look at what a farrier makes. You *HAVE* to have it, one good kick can put you away for quite a spell.

We have a professional farrier of two on forum, I'll let them expound on the glories and perils of the craft!

- Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/20/04 17:10:14 EDT

bellows: Still working on finding the right toungue crossing configure to get the camera to work. It is very much just a box with a plunger in it. does any one have a way to lubricate wood inorderto make it a little easier to pump? I'm think petroleum jelly?
dragon-boy - Tuesday, 04/20/04 17:22:29 EDT

bellows: Dragon-boy, I'd just burnish the wood and make it as smooth as possible. If you have some leather scrap, give your plunger a little clearance and use the leather on each edge as a gasket.
I am working on a double bellows myself and have learned a few things over the past few weekends.
1. A Carpenter, I am not. Although my woodworking skills are probably 10X as good as when I started the bellows.
2. The white mildew that grows between 50+ year old oak timber can give you a nasty respiratory infection.
3. 50+ year old oak timbers are very tough, and hard on a handsaw, not to mention the hand working it and arm it is attached to.
4. 50+ year old oak timbers are very hard on a circular saw.
5. What takes one (wo)man 3 hours usually takes 2 (wo)men about 20 minutes.
- shack - Tuesday, 04/20/04 18:38:41 EDT

Hi everyone.: New here, been lurking here for awhile.

My name is Chris Pook, live in Langley BC. I'm 26 years old. been working with steel since I was 10 at my dads business (park, comercial, site furnishings) I'm a ticketed industrial electrician, I have been blacksmithing for a little over 2 years. Got bored of electrical and started a business about a year and half ago doing custom/artistic furnishings. I'm slowly moving away from fab work trying to get more into the smithing. I took a 10 week beginers course with mastersmith Joe Delisimunovic of Vernon BC. in begining of 2003.
Currently I'm in the process of moving my shop, but normally I'm fairly well setup for forging, 250lb anvil coal and propane forges, 6" postvise, swage block, etc. I have 100lb little giant I've outfitted with a brake, and just aquired a 3b Nazel hammer which will be set up in the new shop.

Feel free to check out my website not much forged stuff on there right now but its coming slowly.
- Pook - Tuesday, 04/20/04 18:47:58 EDT

I want to also add its nice to see a website like this,
A little curious though as to why this type of formatis used rather than the typical bulliten board?
Takes awhile to read posts searching for info.
Pook - Tuesday, 04/20/04 18:55:50 EDT

DB if it's a chinese style box bellows, lining the edges of the plunger with carpet and placing a plate of glass on the bottom can help smooth it's use. You have to adjust the plunger size to take into account the added carpet of course...

The traditional method is to get someone *else* to do the pumping...

- Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/20/04 19:06:13 EDT

I just depends on what you are used to. The common subject tree buliten boards are no easier to use than this. Every newby that logs in starts a new thread rather than adding to the old. Unless the moderator constantly edits the threads the result is chaos. At least here our chaos has order.

Although this system is a pain to maintain it is easier to edit than the other types. We also OWN this software and have updated it numerous times. The current anti-spam system is unique and also belongs to us. Our archive search is not up to par but we are working on that. . .
- guru - Tuesday, 04/20/04 19:21:50 EDT

I'm getting used to it, been doing a lot of searching in the archives.
Pook - Tuesday, 04/20/04 19:26:53 EDT

Oak bellows:
Oak is entirely the wrong type of wood for any type of bellows. White pine and (American) poplar are best. Oak is too heavy, hard to work and has a rough porous (splintery) grain. Other fine hardwoods are also too heavy (sugar maple, cherry) even though they have a fine grain.

Many common and double chambered bellows are made with too heavy a top board. 1" nominal pine (3/4" or 19mm finished) works fine and produces plenty of pressure. Drawings of old bellows often show what appears to be very thick boards 2" or greater. But appearances are decieving, the EDGE is thick on these bellows not the entire board. When bellows were made with thick heavy tops they required a counter weight system to offset the weight of the board. This is complicated. I found it easier to ocassionaly set a heavy hammer on the top board. However, this was only required when the fire was dirty and clogged.

For box bellows pine works fine and can be waxed to bring out the natural lubricity. I would use felt bearing seals, not carpet. Oak and other open grained woods need to sealed, filled and lacquered. Otherwise you might as well have sandpaper surfaces. Cherry, walnut and maple would also work but are expensive and unnecessary. American poplar is too soft and does not wear well.

The box bellows shown in several sets of plans are poorly designed. The tall piston increases the area loading of the bottom of the piston. Square is better and more efficient use of materials. I have only seen two actual OLD box bellows in use. One was square, the other cylindrical.

To wax a pine surface requires hard waxes and time (weeks). I use bowling alley wax and or shoe polish. The shoe polish hardens AND can provide color. Start with a fine sanded surface. Apply a coat of wax and let it soak in. Apply a second coat. If the grain is raised by the wax sand lightly and apply another coat. Polish with a soft rag when dry and then apply another coat. It takes eight or ten coats to build up a hard wax surface. The solvent in bowling alley wax helps soak wax into the wood making a durable surface.

You can also lacquer the wood, finish the lacquer with rubbing compound to a fine polish and then wax.
- guru - Tuesday, 04/20/04 19:54:27 EDT

Waxing wood: For wooden moving surfaces, I've always just taken regular paraffin wax for canning and dissolved it in some naptha. Paint it onto the mating surfaces and let it dry. Two coats is usually sufficient to fill the grain and act as a lubricant. An occasional touch-up by rubbing the bar of wax on the surfaces keeps things smooth as silk for a long time. I've never done this on a box bellows, but it works wonders on drawers, tambours and other furniture uses.
vicopper - Tuesday, 04/20/04 22:25:09 EDT

Wax and Naptha,
For the younger set, naptha is a solvent that has been used for several hundred years in the printing and other trades. Naptha is also the reason that printing plants often have very elaborate high speed fire suppresion systems. Please read the MSDS that you should aquire with this and any product. Pay strict attention to the flash temp. This stuff evaporates quickly, and has a low flash. Therefore do you mixing and use outside, away from ignition sources. You also might want to pay attention to the section on the effects of inhallation.
Naptha, like many chemicals that are readily available is very useful, and will hurt you if simple precautions are not followed.
End of rant from the tired, somewhat disheartened safety officer.( bad day today)
ptree - Tuesday, 04/20/04 22:56:09 EDT

Lube: Try woodworking catalogs, product called slip-it.Burnishing is good w/ a hardwood.Or try an insert of something slipperier.Did I spell that right? I think I'll go to bed.
- Ritch - Tuesday, 04/20/04 23:38:03 EDT

3dogs - Wednesday, 04/21/04 03:24:50 EDT

Naptha: Thank you 3dogs for enlightning me as to a source. I might want to make a drawer real soon.
JohnW - Wednesday, 04/21/04 09:28:42 EDT

Oak Bellows: When I wrote double bellows it was misleading probably leading you to think they where double lung bellows. Twin bellows is what I meant, out of De Re Metallica. They will be side by side with a cantilever, so they will counter balance each other. The oak was in a shed at my house when I moved in. It was also there when the previous owner moved in. He had said it was about 50 years old. I couldn’t stand the thought of it just rotting and since the bellows are the only wood project I have planned I decided to use it.
shack - Wednesday, 04/21/04 11:10:00 EDT

naptha: isn't tht also one of the main ingredients to napalm?
Or is it too early in the day and I am dreaming again?
Ralph - Wednesday, 04/21/04 12:12:35 EDT

Naptha: I should have noted in myearlier post that "naptha" is a relatively non-specific term that includes a number of different petroleum products from coal-tar naptha to petroleum naptha to napthalene to stoddard solvent. 3dogs is correct that lighter fluid is naptha, specifically petroleum naptha. The range of flammability and flash points of varoius napthas is fairly wide. Stoddard solvent is midway between gasoline and kerosene, to give one example. Only the refinery that actually produced the particular batch would know exactly what its composition and characteristics are. In general though, naptha is a fairly standard solvent that is more volatile than mineral spirits and less so than lacquer thinner. The health risks associated with naptha will vary some with the actual composition, but are basically the same as any hydrocarbon liquid. It is certainly less hazardous than many other solvents, notably benzine and ethyl ether.

The naptha I was referring to for dissolving paraffin is the naptha you get at the paint supply or lighter fluid. Relatively benign, if you use reasonable care. Dangerous if you use it foolishly, like any other substance.
vicopper - Wednesday, 04/21/04 13:21:33 EDT

"relatively benign, if you use reasonable care. dangerous if you use it foolishly, like any other substance."
You hit it on the head, exactly.
If you have no experience with a material, the MSDS will explain how not to be foolish.
Sorry for the rant, had just dealt with a foolish use of a material, and was somewhat fired up. All I'll say is they did not read the MSDS.
ptree - Wednesday, 04/21/04 13:49:42 EDT

Napalm, was originally a mixture of naptha and palm oil.
Now made from other chemicals.
ptree - Wednesday, 04/21/04 13:51:04 EDT


Safety rants are always acceptable.
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/21/04 14:02:43 EDT

Mo' Naptha: Ahhh, yes; one of the rites of passage through a misspent youth. The very sore chemical burn on the right thigh from overfilling one's Zippo. (Used to light the requisite Luckies rolled up in the T-shirt sleeve.)
3dogs - Wednesday, 04/21/04 15:22:15 EDT


Camels (the MANS cigarette, not Luckies. (grin)
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/21/04 15:25:22 EDT

Napalm: Ptree; If one was poor, and couldn't afford the naptha and palm oil, Fels-Naptha soap dissolved in gasoline would suffice.
3dogs - Wednesday, 04/21/04 15:25:25 EDT

burning sticky stuff: 3dogs,
lets not go there..... I am lucky ( actually I think I wore out 3 guardian angels ) to have all parts of my body as I used to play with all sorts of stuff like that.....
And I had never even heard of the 'anarchist cook book' I am glad as I imagine I would have gotten hurt....(smile)
Ralph - Wednesday, 04/21/04 15:37:12 EDT

This sounds kind of like a stupid question but ive never tried it. Can you heat or brass and other metals for forging? My mother is in the hospital and will be getting out around mothersday and I would like to make her a nice brass candle holder or something similar. So is it possible to forge brass or is there some complication with forging it?
- Dan Crabtree - Wednesday, 04/21/04 16:21:52 EDT


It's possible, but a bit tricky. The forging temperature range is very small. You have to get it out of the fire as soon as the first hint of color appears, or it'll melt.
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/21/04 16:54:36 EDT

Thanks Paw Paw. Ill have to go try that as soon as this rain and wind stops.
- Dan Crabtree - Wednesday, 04/21/04 17:02:15 EDT

Forging Brass: Dan Crabtree,

Brass is very easy to forge cold, after annealing. To anneal, heat it to low red heat (just visible in a darkened room) and then quench in water. You can now forge it cold. When it begins to work harden, simply anneal it again.

Non-ferrous metals such as brass, bronze, copper, silver and gold all anneal by heating and then quenching. Just the opposite of steel,which is hardened by that same process.
vicopper - Wednesday, 04/21/04 17:11:04 EDT

Forging brass is *VERY* alloy dependent with some alloys forging very well and others not worth a durn! Lead is a pretty common alloying material and reduces forgability big time! If you don't know the alloy try getting a small piece first and seeing if it will forge before buying a lot of it and DON'T expect two sticks of brass to be the same alloy even if they nare sitting right next to each other and look the same!

- Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/21/04 18:18:04 EDT

Begginer looking for some help: Hi, I'm a new guy looking for some fun. I've been quite itnerested in steel forging for two years now, and haven't really given it a big jump until recently. However, I feel the sources I read from where tainted. I do know one peice of equipment will have to be modified/replaced, but the rest seems ok for now. I have a small set of work hammers, Thanks to Paw bringing home every type of hammer he sees, some tongs, a large chunk of railroad-track (for anvil usage), some leaf springs, and rebar for begging projects, and the good-ol-300 pound wood burning stove, made fomr cast iron. This thing is huge. However, from plans I see online, it's no good. I'll clean the garage alter, and psot pictures, but I'm not sure if it will help. Now onto why I post. I want to get started in basic sword making. I would like to start with maybe a dagger, or something of a 2-foot blade, and then go up to a large sword. I was hoping you all could help me a little bit. I don't have alot of money to spend, but I do have lots of ideas, and good 'ol strength. I like this website, and hope to stick around.

-Kyle Yankanich
KyleYankan - Wednesday, 04/21/04 18:21:21 EDT

Dan Crabtree,
A possible way to get a very nice candle stick is to forge in the iron or steel that you have, and know how to work. Once forgeing is complete, remove the scale and heat to a little too hot to touch, and then brush with a brass brush. Makes a very nice finish that may be then clear coated or waxed. In my opinion, a much more attractive peice than brass.
ptree - Wednesday, 04/21/04 18:57:16 EDT

In the Army they taught us to make Foo gas. it was a napalm substitute made from... Ok,ok pawpaw, I thought twice.
ptree - Wednesday, 04/21/04 19:00:01 EDT

For whats its worth,
In any hardware store one can buy, over the counter, chemicals that make a industrial safety guy real nervous. Many are hazardous waste as soon as they are poured from the can. Naptha, japen drier, & TSP come to mind. all are charteristic hardous chemicals/waste. We all use this stuff, and get away with it most of the time. Please try this once. Next time you purchase a can of liquid "stuff" ask for the MSDS. Read the MSDS. Then think about how you have used this "stuff" in the past. Been lucky? Think you can be lucky every time?
Another bad day in an industrial safety guys world.:(
ptree - Wednesday, 04/21/04 19:05:44 EDT

You sound exactly like I did 3 months ago. I started with a couple of hammers a piece of rail road track and cast iron stove.

Swords and knives are much more complicated than they appear (atleast for an ameture like me they are). They are thin, Very thin, And overheating can be the death of your knife or sword. Now you will need an air scorce. I suggest a shopvac with a dimmer for starters if you have one laying around. The dimmer is important but not needed but you will waste some fuel with out it. I would suggest building a better forge instead of a stove or wood burner.

Get some good crosspein hammers. The railroad track will serve you but go to auctions and such to find an anvil. Get a small one unless you find a good deal. When you go anvil shopping bring a hammer along so you can test them. You want a high pitched ring. Dont go blow all your money on a 300$ anvil because blacksmithing might not intrest you as much as it does me or other people on these boards. Get a small anvil for starters if you dont like blacksmithing then you have a basic metal working tool.. If you get a huge one you have wasted alot of money and have a gigantic metal thing you dont use in your garage. I started useing charcoal briqquets (SP) which was my biggest mistake. Get some coal if you can. If you cant find any get some
- Dan Crabtree - Wednesday, 04/21/04 19:11:04 EDT

Does this board just not like me or does it have a spam limiter.... It cut me off... again LOL
- Dan Crabtree - Wednesday, 04/21/04 19:12:51 EDT

as i was saying.. real charcoal the kind that actually looks like pieces of burnt wood. Read some books and build yourself a good forge. Those stoves dont work for anything.... well except cooking. Get a video or 2. But the number 1 thing to remember is blacksmithing isnt something that you can read about on monday and go out on tuesday and be a master smith. It takes time... Lost of time to get good at it. Im not good and I never said I was. And thats because I dont have very much experience. But I will say I have more experience with blacksmithing that your average joe walking down the street. In terms of months and weeks I doesnt sound like I have much experience but as far as hours ive spent at the forge durring those few months... Well its more than most amatures. Everyday from 4 PM-8 PM. It happens to be very windy and stormy this week so its not that great for smithing so im not out there right now... Well im talking about myself now but anyway Practice is the key to success.. in blacksmithing and just about everything else.
- Dan Crabtree - Wednesday, 04/21/04 19:23:50 EDT

Hate to make another post because its 3 in a row but its very important.

Saftey First! Get saftey glasses and good ones. Hot scale will burn your eyes very bad. And when you get them Wear them or they dont do ya much good. Good gloves are needed too. Welding gloves are great. Aprons are another saftey feature but not as important as the glasses. I dont have one and ive seen alot of smiths who dont but im getting one just because it makes you look like a smith. haha. But take your personal saftey before anything else.
- Dan Crabtree - Wednesday, 04/21/04 19:29:24 EDT

Safety: Just a reminder - cotton burns, even it's flame retardent like a green welder's jacket. Wool is more resistant to burning, tends to self extinguish as long as it's clean and the ignition source is removed. SYNTHETICS MELT AND CAN ATTACH TO SKIN. Also, any clothing saturated with grease, oil, etc. catches fire a lot easier and doesn't extinguish well. Safety glasses first, I'd vote for earplugs second if you don't want to end up with tinnitis (ringing in the ears) by the time you're in your mid 50's, then gloves - not quite as critical if you use tongs, or long pieces to forge your project.
- Gavainh - Wednesday, 04/21/04 21:57:58 EDT

Tongs: How do you tell if you have good tongs or not. I dont think my tongs are very good because metal has a bad habit of bouncing out of them. They are just flat jaw tongs but I think they should hold better still. I would modify them but they are my only pair of tongs. So if I mess them up I dont have any tongs.
- Dan Crabtree - Wednesday, 04/21/04 22:27:56 EDT

tongs: Dan,
I would HIGHLY encourage you to look in the iFOrge section fo rthe tong making demo. and then make some tongs. If I remember correctly in the demo there are words about what to look for in good tongs.
But short and sweet the tongs need to be sized for the stock being held. It should not be moving about in the tongs.
Also a smith should have more tongs than one. In fact the reason smiths used to have a zillion pairs of tongs was because they made them for specific jobs.
Ralph - Wednesday, 04/21/04 23:56:04 EDT

Dan, farriers here in the Southwest average around $60 for a shoeing, and a really good farrier can shoe a horse in about an hour. Note I am not a professional farrier and it is a chore for me to nail the occasional thrown shoe back on my horse when I am in the boonies with no professional farrier available. Note that farriers can spend a considerable portion of their time driving from one job to the next. Health insurance is A Good Thing, Worker's Comp insurance is also A Good Thing and some stables will want to see proof of Worker's Comp insurance before you can shoe any of their horses.
Ellen - Thursday, 04/22/04 02:52:56 EDT

Tongs: Dan Crabtree,

Definitely check out the iForge demo on tong making. Every different size/shape of stock needs to have the appropriate tongs to hold it securely. Flat jaw tongs are good only for holding flat stock that is the same thickness as the gap in the tongs when the jaws are exactly parallel. Any deviation from parallel and the stock will slip and turn in the tongs.

For round stock, you need tongs with either a v-groove, or better yet, v-jawed tongs. Half-round jaws will ork, but v-jaws are more adaptable to different sizes of stock. If you are forging a certain size of stock, the first thing you do is to re-shape or adjust the gap on your tong jaws so that the stockis held firmly when the reins are about 1-1/4" apart at the ends. This gives you the best leverage to get the maximum grip with the least effort. Most experienced smiths adjust their tongs as a matter of routine.

One of the better learning projects is making tongs. The techniques necessary to make tongs are fundamental, such as drawing, setting down, fullering and punching/riveting. Making your own will really stick in your head how tongs should be fitted, too.

I both make my tongs and buy them, depending on price versus time. By now, I can make a pair of standard v-bit tongs from 3/8" by 3/4" stock in about an hour, with most of that time taken up drawing out the reins. With a powerhammer, I could cut that time to about 25 minutes, I think. My first set took me a couple hours to make, and they weren't very pretty, but they worked just fine. I still have them, by the way. Re-shaping or adjusting the jaws on a pair of tong takes me only one quick heat, and saves countless problems when forging.

If I was only going to have one pair of tongs, I would probably weld some modified jaws on a pair of big Vise-Grips. Not an elegant solution, but fairly effective. Proper tongs, though, make the work go much better. The tong hand is the one that really has the control when forging, the hammer hand is mostly performing the same movement over and over again. Good tongs make all the difference in control.
vicopper - Thursday, 04/22/04 10:53:40 EDT

Has put all of their books online for freedown load. These books have been out of print for years, and they are VERY useful for blacksmiths.
Paw Paw - Thursday, 04/22/04 15:37:48 EDT

Thanks Paw Paw
Chris Makin - Thursday, 04/22/04 16:47:41 EDT

selling items as supplemental income: I am making some items for upcoming charity auctions. I am thinking of putting a few business cards near the item and selling more of them(possibly) at the same price as the item goes for in the auction. Is this a good or bad idea? will it drive the price the item gets in the action down? Would it be a better idea to pass business cards after the item is done getting auctioned? say have the auctioneer announce that more can be ordered from me? Trying any way possible to make this hobby pay for itself(coal alone in my area is 14.50$ for a 40lb bag)
- Joe R - Thursday, 04/22/04 17:00:43 EDT


I don't think it would be a good idea to put the cards with the items. If you do that, and an item goes for $10, you could wind up with an item that takes 4 hours to make, and $10 dollars is all you would be able to get for it. (I've had that happen to me.)
Paw Paw - Thursday, 04/22/04 17:06:19 EDT

Adjusting Tongs:
Rule ONE of using any tongs is to heat and forge them to FIT!

Rule TWO is you gotta have more than ONE pair unless you only work one size stock. Many newbies only work one size so they can get away with one size for a while . . .

Rule THREE is don't change someone elses tongs.

Rule FOUR is that most flea market tongs are what I call "farmer tongs". They were either made by farmers (the only pair they ever made) or by industrial arts students. In both cases they are TERRIBLE shapes and often cannot even be reworked to a decent shape. After using and making some tongs you will learn to tell the difference. If your only tongs are farmer tongs then buy a real professional pair from a dealer and use those as a guide. Recycle the farmer tongs into a rush lamp or something.

Tongs are a tough project for a newby but that is how you stop being a newby. We have several methods for making them on our iForge page. Make three or four pair, drawing out the reins by hand is HARD work but it is also the hammer practice you need. You don't get hammer control by doing the easy projects.

Good tongs can be sprung when you grip something. The spring in the reins prevents the work from loosening and bouncing around.

The tongs I use the most are tongs I made. One pair is a special hook makers tongs designed for holding 1/4" square and round as well as the curved hooks. They were made by the twist method and have been used to make thousands of hooks at demonstrations.

The other pair are offset jaw tongs made so that a long taper or part of the work can extend beside the tongs. These are very handy for all sorts of work and fit 3/8" through 1/2" without adjustment.

The other thing about making your own tools is you REALLY learn to appreciate good tools. Proper sizing, balance and feel as well as function are tough to achieve. It takes practice and STUDY.
- guru - Thursday, 04/22/04 20:36:10 EDT

Thanks Paw Paw: I would really appreciate any advice anyone has in getting their names out there so orders etc. can come in. I am trying to set up a demo at a local fair, and putting items in those two charity auctions. Any ideas?

p.s. I just got a whole box of used horseshoes from a friendly farrier. I printed to iforge horseshoe hoofpick instructions, I am just wondering what the consensus on pricing would be... thanks
- Joe R - Friday, 04/23/04 01:00:44 EDT

Napalm was invented at Harvard University in 1941. It was originally a mixture of naphthenic acid and palmitic acid. (palmitate), which is derived from palm oil. Orthodox aphtha is a mixture of c6 and c7 aliphatic alkane hydrocarbons. (hexane and heptane). These are petroleum fractions. The C is the number of C-H2 units strung out in a straight chain. For example C1 would is methane C-H4, c2 is ethane C2-H6, etc. Mr. Vi Copper is right, hardware stores carry
- slag - Friday, 04/23/04 01:19:16 EDT

Smithing Site: I am building a smithing site, putting up techniques, etc. that i learn as I learn how to be a better blacksmith. It is still pretty basic and is continually under construction(need more content) but since I have no money for CSI membership it is all I can do at this time to give back to the smithing community. As of now all I have is instructions on how to build a brake drum forge. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Http:// It is free hosting so it will try to load a popunder on you---Im sorry
Joe R - Friday, 04/23/04 01:48:10 EDT

Joe: The auctions I have donated ironwork to always have a place for the "retail" value of the item in the program. I leave plenty of cards and am happy to fill orders for the retail value regardless of what the item sold for in the auction.
dief - Friday, 04/23/04 01:55:08 EDT

Joe, I was at a crafts show last November where a working smith was selling his wares, and he had hoofpicks in the $10 to $20 range, depending on how decorative they were, he was putting a horsehead on the handle end of the tool.
If your friendly farrier would throw some worn out hoof rasps your way they make great hoofpicks, and forged snakes as well. The forged rattlesnakes were selling for around $25. His iron work had been either tumbled or wirebrushed to clean it up, then sprayed with a clear coating. He said as long as he was hammering out work folks would stop to watch and he would also sell some items; when he laid the hammer down the selling came almost to a halt. He was using a propane forge by the way.
Ellen - Friday, 04/23/04 02:29:54 EDT

SLAG: Welcome back. Good to hear from you. Shalom. 3dogs
3dogs - Friday, 04/23/04 03:12:30 EDT

welcome Back: nice to see you again Slag. How are you enjoying our spring that never comes :(
Mark P - Friday, 04/23/04 08:47:06 EDT

slag: Welcome back, friend! It is really good to hear from you once again. Your presence and your knowledge were sorely missed in your absence.

Rich Waugh
vicopper - Friday, 04/23/04 09:57:37 EDT


Ditto Rich's message! Welcome back!
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/23/04 11:14:45 EDT

Twist tongs: Dan Crabtree,
You and all beginners need to learn to make twist-tongs. Basically, loosely rivet two pieces of 1/2"x1/4" stock together with a 3/16" rivit (or use a small bolt and lock nut), then twist the jaw-end 90 degrees. Presto, a pair of tongs.
One version of these are demonstrated on iforge as "easy tongs".
Once you have a few of these to work with, you can learn to make forged tongs. But these will get you going.
Don't forget vise-grips and gas tongs, available at flea markets. They can work fine, though they're pretty short.
- Bruce, NJ - Friday, 04/23/04 17:30:52 EDT

bellows: Well folks, tried out the wooden box yesterday, they worked great, however 5 hours of pumping the damnable thing has left me sore, achy, and a real pain to live with. I wound up using vynal (sp) as a cover on the holes and for the gaskett, I just made it sorta poofy. It does rub on the handel for the plunger still, do ya think a little beeswax would do the trick? I think I need to make the next one taller in the chamber area so more air can be moved with less energy spent. total cost I beleve was only 6 bucks!

- dragon-boy - Friday, 04/23/04 17:44:59 EDT

lubricants/ naphtha/ and napalm?: Lubricants/ Naphtha/ and napalm(?).
My note was chopped off in mid flow. So I'll try again.
Napalm was invented at Harvard University in 1941. Classic napalm was a mixture of naphthenic acid and palmitic acid (= palmitate). Acidified palmitic (palm) oil comes form palm trees and is an acidified hydrocarbon. (more on the latter in a moment.).
Naphtha (the orthodox definition is a mixture of two chemicals hexane (C6), and heptane (C7)), that is, it is an admixture of two straight chain (aliphatic hydrocarbons with single bonds between the carbon (C), units that are attached to each other linearly.). Mr. Vi Copper is correct in saying that all manner of chemical mixtures are labelled naphtha, at the local hardware store. Some of those chemical constituents are poisonous, flammable, and a few may be explosive. (the latter less likely).
A good lubricant can be made with warm turpentine and wax. The turpentine should be heated in a water bath and wax is added into the warm turpentine until no more wax will dissolve. In other words, the solution is super-saturated. The solution, (wax in turpentine), should be stored in a glass bottle, with a metal cap, and better yet the cap bottle join can be covered with plumbers silicone tape. That will stop the turpentine from vapourising and escaping. Before use, heat the bottle in a warm water bath until the wax on the bottom inside the bottle goes back into solution. (warm turpentine holds more wax than when it is cold.) The bottle is then removed and the solution is brushed onto the surface that requires lubrication. Wait till the turpentine evaporates, then buff the warmed surface. That will remove the excess wax.
Do NOT heat the turpentine in a direct heat source. Fires start that way and can be hell on your smithy or kitchen.
There are a fair number of different improvised napalms. But I'm not going to give this out. Mr. Ridge of the Office of Homeland security would be miffed.
The Anarchists Cookbook is a fascinating textbook with recipes for all kinds of explosives, incendiaries, and other delightful chemistry. Please note that the version on the internet is a pale "copy" of the original book.
Another tip. Most of the recipes and synthesis instructions are correct but a few are not. Making any explosives (especially military style high explosives, and all detonators), is extremely dangerous. Many seasoned experienced chemists (and military bomb makers), have been blown up because of the vapours that arise from the chemical reactions. Those fellows were not amateurs. (nitration reactions are inherently dangerous).
Also, some explosives are extremely poisonous, like tri-nitro benzene. (3 I. R. A. rookie chemists came down with terminal liver failure in the 1960's after making that stuff. (there were no liver transplants in those days).
Oh, and for the record, I came by all this knowlege and experience legitimately. (the latter note is for Mr. Ridge et,. al.).
Regards to all.
- slag - Friday, 04/23/04 17:55:02 EDT

bellows: since I couldna get the camera workin i put in a sketch in the gallery
dragon-boy - Friday, 04/23/04 18:04:41 EDT

Threaders for sale: 3 Toledo Pipe Threading Machines for sale. Rock Drill Power Machines circa 1960. Self lubing, mag start, dies, etc. Located in San Francisco. $450 each. Call 415-648-4209
- Arnette Terry - Friday, 04/23/04 18:15:11 EDT

Heat Treating Furnace Available: Large Natural Gas Furnaces available in San Francisco. Call for info. 415-648-4209
- Arnette Terry - Friday, 04/23/04 18:46:40 EDT

Large Forge Blowers Available: 3 Large blowers available from industrial furnaces. Call 415-648-4209 for info.
- Arnette Terry - Friday, 04/23/04 18:58:05 EDT


Which Album did you put the sketch in?
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/23/04 19:13:54 EDT

Smithing Opportunity: Greetings All: If you are in the Perry, OK area Saturday, May 1, please feel free to join me and other members of the Saltfork Craftsmen ABA at the Cherokee Strip Museum for a day of fun. We will have an open air smithy going to demonstrate to folks how things are still made by hand and hammer. As part of the local Spring Heritage Festival, there will be an number of other things going on at the Museum also -- including lots of activities for children. Bring your portable forge and tools or just show up and use what we have on hand. Tailgate items and your iron work for sale are OK. The Museum is on the West side of town just off the North Perry I-35 Exit.
Jim Carothers
Member of the Saltfork Board
- Jim C. - Friday, 04/23/04 22:05:32 EDT

Box Bellows Sketch: Jim,

I found it. (That's why I get the big bucks as a detective.) It's in the folder for Joshua Langfitt.

I could tell you how I found it in less than 1 minute, but then I'd have to...(grin)
vicopper - Friday, 04/23/04 23:14:36 EDT

Cheesy IE: PawPaw, What do you use instead of the swiss cheesy Internet Explorer?
Frank Turley - Saturday, 04/24/04 10:03:19 EDT


Netscape 7.1

I have a hardware firewall, a Mc Affee software firewall, and McAffee Virus scan bot of which are updated on a regular basis. Knock on wood, I've never had a virus get through since I set this system up.
Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/24/04 10:44:09 EDT

IMPORTANT! CSI Members (past and present) and Gurus:
The volunteer "stearing committee" is close to finished hammering out the bylaws for the group which will then be used as part of our articles on incorporation (I THINK that is how it works). This is in preparation to incorporation and achieving non-profit status.

PLEASE take time to check into the business forum and put in your two cents. A very small group is doing this work and we would like your input. When finished (it is close) we will call for a vote (we have a system being tested - try it). Don't let 10% of the group make all the decisions for you! These folks may very likely also be our first board of directors.

How this all shakes out MAY have an effect on how anvilfire operates or if it continues at all. We want your input.

The bylaws call for a 30 day membership period before you can vote. However, all members, new, past, present and honorary are invited to comment on and vote on adoption of the bylaws.
- guru - Saturday, 04/24/04 11:54:50 EDT

Welcome back. We have mised your knowledge of chemistry and the archane.
- guru - Saturday, 04/24/04 11:57:07 EDT

EXPLOSIVES and the Internet:
I get incensed by the articles about "Bomb Making on the Internet". Most of this information including the method of formulating many military high explosives are in every encylopedia in every school that has a library and in many class rooms. The information in World Book which is found in most elementary schools is fairly rudimentary. The information in Britanica is much more detailed. A trip to the public library will provide a little more information.

But if you want DETAILS then almost every college or University library has more than you need and the engineering schools will finish off the topic.

This is a difficult subject to learn on one's own (especialy the safety and processing aspects) but the references are out there and are publicly avaiable to ANYONE of ANY age that can read.

A commited researcher can start with the above sources, go to the patent offfice and with a little wit and experimentation make a bewildering array of deadly things. The down side is blowing up yourself and possibly your neighborhood.

The knowledge is out there. The Internet is not the "bad guy", it is just another source of the same information.

I recent times we have also found that the simplest ideas are often the best. They are also hard to censor or stop. It is widely known that the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in arsenels is the gasoline "fuel-air" bomb. The 9/11 terrorists used airliners to similar effect with the full tanks of kerosene jet fuel.

To ban "weapons of mass destruction" we have to ban knowledge (whoops, its already out of the bag) and car and truck fuel. . .

I wonder if that is why Bush is the "oil president"?
- guru - Saturday, 04/24/04 12:22:44 EDT

I second our good guru's comments. Currently a maximum of 10 or less CSI members are making the decisions and writing the papers which will control how CSI and Anvilfire operate in the near future. If you would like to be a part, now is the time.

As to weapons, if you read some of Tom Clancey's books, there is a pretty accurate description of how to make a thermonuclear device, as well as various biological weapons. In fact, he came extremely close to describing the events of 9-11 in one of his books....these relevant works are "Sum of All Fears", "Debt of Honor", and "Executive Orders".

Regardless on one's political beliefs, I think it is important for **all** to understand and accept, that WE were ATTACKED. Who was "at fault" is distracting and non-productive. The terrorists involved were at fault.
Ellen - Saturday, 04/24/04 18:17:06 EDT

In Memorium: as a resident of Arizona, I should mention both of our major newspapers had large spreads this AM on the life...and death....of an American hero, Pat Tillman. Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones. Thank You and may God bless you, Pat.
Ellen - Saturday, 04/24/04 18:19:29 EDT

Pat Tillman:

You can't help but admire a man who turns down 3.6 million dollars for playing a game that he loves to join the army, complete Basic, Advanced Infantry, and Ranger training, go into combat with his brothers and fight to the death.

Airborne Pat, Airborne!
Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/24/04 19:58:47 EDT

thermobaric devices/ etc.: The standard fuel-air ordnance that the air force uses, is a pressurised ethylene container. A small charge blows the container apart the ethylene expands, gassifies and mixes with the air. A second charge ignites the ethylene/air mixture after an optimal mixture time interval after the first charge. The second charge is often a thermit mixture. That time is 1/10 second. Then boom, and devestating human carnage. There is a worse devise than then that thermobaric device. But I will not divulge same. A diligent and arduous literature search will turn it up.
Printed information, on explosives, is all over the place. But experience is absolutely essential. Even experienced explosive chemists and demolition men can make errors and
a few of them die every year.
An amateur has a much much greater chance of getting maimed or killed making the mixtures that are readily available in the Encyclopaedia Brittanica etc. Also, explosives patents are written for a "person skilled in the art". They are not simplified for amateurs and terrorists. They certainly do not mention laboratory conditions, set-up, safety measures, and even standard procedures that such a skilled person would already know. In other words,The patent need only teach the novel inventive concept to such a skilled person, in order that he/she/it can practice that invention. There are plenty of incidents where terrorist explosive and bomb makers have blown themselves up.
Mr. Guru is correct. All the technical information is available, out there, in the "public domain" (i.e. published and available information). The genie is out of the bottle and can never be put back. (Pandora's box is open, and only hope was left).
Mr. Ridge, of the Office of Homeland Security, was recently making noises about censoring printed science literature.
There was widespread derision, and more, from the scientific and technical gang. I think he has backed off that idea.
There is some truth to the old saying that patent agents/attorneys and indutrial insurance adjusters are some of the most dangerous people at large.
- slag - Saturday, 04/24/04 20:25:03 EDT

As to terrorists and other malcontents who would experiment with various explosive devices, "The tree of life is self-pruning"....Chas. Darwin. If they blow themselves up instead of innocents, then that is A Good Thing, IMHO.

Another quote which is appropriate to this discussion: "Suppose I were an idiot. Then suppose I were in Congress. But, I repeat myself."......Mark Twain. Grin!
Ellen - Saturday, 04/24/04 20:47:27 EDT

EXPLOSIVES and the Internet: :
An older copy of this book was avalable in my high school library. Even though it does not go into greate detail of how to make an a-bomb. It did give enough information that a person of relatively intelegent but lacking in common sence could make one.
RBrown - Saturday, 04/24/04 22:27:19 EDT

Specialist Tillman: Thank you son. We will always have this great country and our way of life, because of heroes like you. Our men and women have walked a twisted path, never bowing to tyrants. Sleep the sleep, restricted to the heroes.
- Ritch - Saturday, 04/24/04 22:39:21 EDT

Explosives: Thermobarics are truly simple and vastly destructive devices. There are lots of other nasty things out there, too many of which any idiot can obtain, make or almost make, but few can control. Which is why I have had three occasions in my career to scrape together the remains of would-be terrorists. And all of them were using relatively stable compounds like 40% nitro dynamite. Had they been making their own explosives, I can only imagine them there would have been far more of them who opted out of the gene pool the fast way.

vicopper - Saturday, 04/24/04 23:55:07 EDT

a-bombs....: actually making an a-bomb is rather complex, and as far as I know no books avalible to the public show how. other than basics. The key is getting teh HE of sufficenint strength AND in the proper configuration so cause the un controlled chain reaction which is the resultant a blast. Thsi little picky final detail is what has kept most folks seeking this technology from actually getting it.
Ralph - Sunday, 04/25/04 01:07:27 EDT

Pat Tillman.: In additon to what oters have said. I also find it very interesting that this man who had a college degree and could have gone in as an officer chose instead to enlist. And not only enlist but once he qualified he then volunteered to try out for one of the most elite forces and made it.

Only bad thing about all this is while his original sacrifice was perhaps more extreme than most everyone elses, his death is going to shadow and dwarf all the other 'nameless' ( only to Joe Q. Public ) soldiers who have sacraficed thier all for us here at home.
All I can say is that I am wearing out my Rosary.
Well enough rambling from an old sailor......
Ralph - Sunday, 04/25/04 01:13:57 EDT

I was read about a kid who was reading a book on the making of the A bomb in school and caught all kinds of trouble for it. It turns out that he checked it out of the school library...(of course it was more about the Manhatten Project and Oppenheimer than the details...)

Making a simple crude fission bomb is not that hard, getting the fissionable materials is *hard*! And machining them is a royal pain according to the descriptions, can you say pyrophoric?

Ralph, I agree that Tillman is an inspiration; but what about all the others who have paid the ultimate price? *Each* and every one of them deserves the same adulation!

Thomas who sometimes eats at the same cafe the Trinity site workers ate at.
- Thomas Powers - Sunday, 04/25/04 10:40:31 EDT

On the making of A-bombs,
While the apparent ease of making an A-bomb has been discussed, remember that the making of the first A-bomb was the second most expensive program in WW11. The first was the making of the delivery system, the B-29. The basic science of making an A-bomb is fairly straightforward. The technical details to actually make it work are much more difficult. In fact, makeing the fissionable material into the precise shapes, without killing the entire factory staff prior to completion of the job is one of the more complex parts of the equation, and thats assuming that the fissle material is available. Obtaining the fissle material from the ore is an hugely difficult task.
As a former Nuclear, biological, and Chemical NCO for a nuke capable artillery unit, I fear biological weapons far more than the other two. The delivery of the first two is far harder, and easier to detect with sensors etc. A single suicide nut, self inflicted, with Variola(smallpox) could start a major epidemic here, tomorrow. When were you last innoculated? You friends and children? The stupid decision to stop the vacination due to fears of side effects in a tiny population puts us all at risk. Look at the historical side of smallpox and know true fear. And this is just one virus.
ptree - Sunday, 04/25/04 10:52:25 EDT

french anvils: Hi,
I'm new here, so if this is the wrong place for such a post, let me know. The boards here seem a little bit complex.
Anyhoo, I wonder if anyone has ANY information on French anvils. I recently purchased one, marked "BOTTEAU RICAUD, BORDEAUX, 148KG" and the date, 1911. I'm simply curious, especially as the French anvil has such a unique shape, and, as far as I can tell, are no longer produced. Anyone ever work on one? Or know anything about them? At all??
- Dan - Sunday, 04/25/04 12:56:59 EDT


I'd be glad to help, but I have no information at all about French Anvils.
Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/25/04 13:24:03 EDT

oh dear!: It doesn't seem that anybody does, Dan! I just e-mailed the fellow in France with the online gallery of French anvils. Do you know it? It's quite interesting to see;
Dan - Sunday, 04/25/04 13:47:19 EDT


Yes, I've seen the site, but didn't have the URL.
Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/25/04 14:09:17 EDT

Heros: Thomas,
That is exactly my point. At least that is what I was trying in my inarticulate manner to say.....
Ralph - Sunday, 04/25/04 17:23:31 EDT

French Anvils:
The "classic" French anvil with four feet raising it from the stand is similar to other European anvils such at the Italian. Those with the ridge on the side making a "face" are of ancient design. However, there are no true standard types in most European countries. The reason is that unlike the English anvils that were exported all over the world by a very few manufacturers the European anvils were made for local distribution by many small manufacturers. There are many more styles that are more regional than national.

Nimba (a US manufacturer - see our advertisers list) makes several Italian style anvils and one has feet like the French anvil. All these anvils are very solid compared to the American pattern which has a narrow waist making it springy. The American pattern is based on the English London pattern which originaly had a thich waist which made them very solid.

Over time anvil manufacturers had put more metal into the horn and heal in order to get a larger working surface with less metal. The extreme of this is the American farrier's anvil. These are not intended for heavy forging but for light bending and shaping.

Your French anvil may look strange to eyes accustomed to English and American pattern anvils but it is a very good anvil and more solid than others.
- guru - Sunday, 04/25/04 17:32:33 EDT

French Anvils II:
Dan, If you have a photo of your anvil I would love a copy. I have been collecting photos for an article on anvils and do not have one of a French anvil.

For more about types see my article in the FAQs page, "Selecting an Anvil".

- guru - Sunday, 04/25/04 17:39:07 EDT

bellows sketch: Sorry folks I got in a hurry and simply got sloppy. vic,is correct. It is in the Joshua Langfitt folder. I did find that it helps to bore the holes that the pump handel goes through a little bigger than the dowels you use!
- dragon-boy - Sunday, 04/25/04 18:54:40 EDT

On the top right corner of my screen I used to have a spot where I could click and drag different items,, ie stories, iforge etc etc.. What happened to it ? Ot is it my side of the machine world. All I get now is Forum, Home and slack tub at top of page. Cannot navagate to the rest of the Anvilfire pages.. Any help out there...

Thakyou in advance... Barney from the North country

PS Snow gone.......
- Barney - Sunday, 04/25/04 18:55:31 EDT

french anvil II: I would be happy provide a photo of my anvil, but I'm afraid I won't be able to do so until probably mid-June, as it (he? she?) is in France, and I am not. When that time comes, and if you are still interested, I would also appreciate yours and/or others' comments on some features of my anvil, namely the really rather poor state of its edges: I cannot tell if they are from chipping or from casting faults (I suspect the latter). Also, any tips on how to fix up the edges would be handy too, as it is otherwise in good nick, with a clean face and a good spring, given its age, and a good size too.
Dan - Sunday, 04/25/04 21:45:03 EDT

differences: while I'm at it, I wonder if anybody would like to share their experiences of the differences between smiths and smithies in the US and England, or between anywhere and anywhere, actually.
Dan - Sunday, 04/25/04 21:56:05 EDT

For those who don't speek French: The links to the french anvil web site above can be translated to English via the Google language tools

The home page is
and seems to be a really nice blacksmith site.
For me the English helps a lot...girn
- Habu - Sunday, 04/25/04 22:39:14 EDT


The most obvious things that come to mind:

In England I understand that most smiths use a side draft forge with either Anthracite coal, or charcoal (rare) or coke. Your tuyere is usually water cooled.

Here in the colonies, we usually prefer a bottom draft forge, with either bituminous coal, charcoal or coke. Our Tuyere is air cooled.

In both the UK, and the US, smiths stand up to work, so our anvils, vises, ect. are post or bench mounted. In the Far East on the other hand, most smiths work either in a squatting position, or while sitting on the ground.
Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/25/04 22:39:39 EDT

Explosives, terroists, etc.: Haven't had any need or desire to make an explosive, but being trained and having worked as a metallurgist there are plenty of ways to accomplish that. Probably would fall on a government list as having to many guns, knives and too much black powder if they ever get around to making one. Grew up on a farm, so I've always carried a knife, until after 9-11. Carried one from about 3rd grade through high school and through college - usefull tool. From 3rd grade on, I knew if I carved my name in a school desk, the punishment I'd receive at school would be nothing to the one I'd receive at home, and the whipping at home would have been the least of it. The disappointment from Dad would have been far worse.
Had to travel to Sweden for the job shortly after 9-11.Stowed all metal in the checked luggage and no major problems going out through Dulles. Flew back out of Copenhagen - was selected to have my luggage hand searched. I guess something about my background scared them or triggered something - must be a lot of 50 year old americans of relatively ancient Irish extraction (in Pittsburgh before 1800) blowing up airplanes or making threats (sarcasm intended).
Still can't believ that we're supposed to fell safe flying with the system in place. Felt a lot more comfortable when I could carry a working pocket knife on a flight.
- Gavainh - Sunday, 04/25/04 23:48:13 EDT

French Anvils: If you raise your hammer to one, will it dive under the workbench? (SMIRK)
3dogs - Monday, 04/26/04 02:52:54 EDT

Differences: Pawpaw; yes, that is what I noticed. I was rather alarmed on experiencing my first English forge at the depth and apparent wildness of the fire, having experienced only the rather more civilized bottom draft. When the smith was preparing to weld something, the fire started to bubble and erupt (I am not sure if this is because of the fuel or the design), which I found alarming, but is apparently normal, as no one else batted an eye.
Dan - Monday, 04/26/04 07:45:28 EDT


More likely, the smith just turned up the air, and things started to bounce around.
Paw Paw - Monday, 04/26/04 09:25:47 EDT

Gavainh; Air Travel in the 21st Century: I'm a Fed, and I sometimes get the "body cavity" search. When I pack my check-through, I always make sure that I pack electronics and tools and "odd-looking-stuff" dispersed in the corners of the suitcase so that they don't see a mass of wires and interconnected mystery stuff. I still get the luggage search from time-to-time. So far, any blacksmith stuff I bring back has not caused any problems in the check-through luggage. As for the boarding searches- one trip they must have been looking for "tall, skinny white-boys" (two out, two back) and another time I was wearing a bandage on my face from recent surgery. These folks pick up on anything odd for extra attention.

Does all this do any good? Well, a certain amount of randomness is prudent, just to keep the system unpredictable.

(I do miss my pocket knife (it's in check-through, along with anything from a leatherman to my old USMC sheath knife) but if anything goes down, most folks will employ fingers and teeth to stop anyone these days.)

Enough random mumbling; before 9/11 I always wondered about our safety being in the hands of minimum wage workers. The new crew are polite but firm, and I'd rather take a few more minutes on the gorund, in stocking feet, than be surprised at 30,000 feet by something they missed. (I do tend to drive more and take trains when possible.)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 04/26/04 10:17:36 EDT

Pawpaw: You're right, of course, but the effect is still different with the side-blown. Or maybe it was just a bigger forge than I've ever seen before, which is likely too.
All of this was actually at the National School of Blacksmithing in Hereford, where I'll be going in September. It's an amazing facility, with 60, I think, forges. I've never seen anything like it! I guess most of the people who post here are Americans, but I would anyway say that it is a most impressive set-up, if you got a chance to see it. In fact, if any American could or would go there, as a student, it would be great, because, as usual, they seem to short on funding and the government here seem to want to take money away from these kinds of things. A little international twist would bolster its prestige.
And, as always, if any British smiths from the London area are reading this, would they like to give me a job? Please?Anyone?
Dan - Monday, 04/26/04 12:11:37 EDT

French: 3 dogs, that was good. Did you know the french invented the rear view mirror? It's the only way they could see the war.
- Ritch - Monday, 04/26/04 12:21:13 EDT

Atli, I've never found it possible to take trains---turn durn heavy! But I've ridden on them a bit, used to ride the Auto Train from VA to FL and back on a yearly basis...

Where do you hide the ones you take? (No wonder you get searched!)

My swiss army knife had travelled all over the world in my pocket till recently, now it gets packed and I ask my co-workers to ask me if I remembered to pack it before we check in at the airport.--I worry more about cutting a jammed seatbelt in an accident situation than overpowering a hijacker---I never felt a duty to fight such a person in a fair and gentlemanly manner and I always carry a pencil for sketching/doodling...

- Thomas P - Monday, 04/26/04 12:38:13 EDT


>I never felt a duty to fight such a person in a fair and gentlemanly manner and I always carry a pencil for sketching/doodling...

Exactly! And the bone behind the eye is thin enough to drive a sharp pencil through very easily. Amateur pre-frontal lobotomy.
Paw Paw - Monday, 04/26/04 12:57:48 EDT

Importing Old anvils: One comment about bringing home an "old" anvil from a forign country. Tools generaly have fairly high import duties in most countries. But ANTIQUES are taxed much lower. Check on the difference before shipping home that antique anvil. It might save you some money.
- guru - Monday, 04/26/04 13:01:43 EDT

Missing Menu: Barney, Etal,

Ocassionaly the drop down menu window does not properly load (if I knew why I would fix it).

If you do not have a drop down menu then exit anvilfire, clear your cache and reload. Anytime a page partialy loads and is broken the only way to fix it is to reload it. However, broken pages stay cached on your machine. So to reload a NEW copy you must get rid of the old.

- guru - Monday, 04/26/04 13:06:58 EDT

Waxing Wood: Hey viccoper, thanks for the slick idea, paraffin and naptha. I may be making this drawer even sooner than I thought. I was surprized to see that my hardware store sells naptha right along beside the turpintine, lin seed oil, etc., I hadn't ever noticed it before. At what termperature does paraffin disolve in naptha?
- JohnW - Monday, 04/26/04 13:22:23 EDT

kaboom!: JohnW: Room temperature! Don't heat naptha.
Alan-L - Monday, 04/26/04 13:43:18 EDT

Air Travel Security:
I think they have carried some of the "security" to extremes that do no good. The fact IS that as long as people REMEMBER 9/11 it should never happen again. Passengers are NOT going to let a plane hijacked over US soil stay in the air to be used as a weapon. So trying to stop a repeat of something that cannot happen again is a huge waste of time.

The danger TODAY is that some nut with no other purpose in mind may hijack a plane and the passengers will bring it down due to remembering 9/11.

The people I worry about are the airline ground employees.
- guru - Monday, 04/26/04 13:47:12 EDT

Safety, min wage workers and forges: But now that we have these high paid TSA security screeners are we any better off? I ask as I have had opporunity to be at our local airport a lot in the last several years. and it looks to me that the same low wage workers Atli was worried about are still there doing the same job but now are paid more and are now Fed employees and as such are much harder to remove....

Dan, ON side draft forges I prefer them. I find them much more versitile than bottom draft.
Ralph - Monday, 04/26/04 13:49:05 EDT

Gives a whole new meaning to "lead poisoning"...

- Thomas P - Monday, 04/26/04 14:16:31 EDT


Yep. A ball point pen works real well, too, especially a Cross. That stainless steel barrel is easy to clean.
Paw Paw - Monday, 04/26/04 15:44:54 EDT

I used to threaten to tattoo people with my fine-point fountain pen, but you guys are hard-core!
Alan-L - Monday, 04/26/04 15:50:10 EDT

'lead poisoning': well I know it it nit picking, but pencils are not lead, and I suspect you know that..... But I do have some of the pencil graphite poisoning in my arm. been there almost 43 years.....
Ralph - Monday, 04/26/04 16:18:36 EDT

Ralph I'll assume you know what "nits" are too; but I'm willing to believe you if you say you're nit picking... And it *is* lead---pencil lead and not the element lead, Pb, from the roman liking for lead pipes (saw a few in Bath England that seem to still be working after over 1000 years in service---sort of like Paw Paw, ugh-oh he's giving me that cross eye again...)

- Thomas P - Monday, 04/26/04 17:10:43 EDT

working and PPW in the same breath?: Thomas,
I am amazed. You managed to use both in the same sentance. I thought that they were mutually exclusive. As for old and PPW I thought that he was the old man who designed the Roman baths in Bath...? (grin)
Ralph - Monday, 04/26/04 17:45:06 EDT

oh yeah, nits: Yes I do know what nits are. but not from personal experience.
Ralph - Monday, 04/26/04 17:46:01 EDT

There you go Ralph using PPW and "bath" in the same sentance...BTW did I mention that I've just moved to Mexico...or would the term "fled" be more appropriate...

- Thomas P - Monday, 04/26/04 17:55:57 EDT

Softly whistling the death march under his breath, he searches his bench for the razor strop.
Paw Paw - Monday, 04/26/04 18:36:42 EDT


I'm going to be pretty blunt in this message, so if you are easily offended you might want to skip past this one.

If, on the other hand, you are interested in what folks are deciding about your future, you might want to tough it out.

Jock (the Guru) has asked the members of Cybersmith's International (CSI) to work up a set of bylaws and incorporation papers for CSI. The goal is to provide a method for to continue operation in the event that Jock is incapacitated or loses interest. has the equivalent of approximately five THOUSAND print pages of information. The iForge section alone is a treasure trove of projects for a beginning smith and a good source of both ideas and plans for a more advanced smith. The guru page archives contain the questions and answers for all of the questions that have been asked in the last SEVEN years. There are less than 30 days missing where Jock has not been able to answer questions.

How many times have you heard of the author of such a tome voluntarily GIVING this kind of treasure to a non-profit organization for nothing?

The small (less than 10 of us) steering committee is almost finished with the bylaws.

These bylaws will govern how anvilfire is operated in the future.

If you want us to make those decisions for you, fine. Roll over and go back to sleep.

If you would rather see what we are up to and take part in the process, join CSI today! Don't wait till next month, by then we will be done and the bylaws will be set in stone.

Your choice!
Paw Paw - Monday, 04/26/04 19:17:07 EDT

Blunt? I thought it was a very sharp comment on the need to join CSI.
And I'm hoping that you noted that it was NOT me that made all those comments on your reputed age etc. I know that there is no way that you could have possibly designed the lead piping system at the baths, as at that time you must have otherwise occupied with the celts in southern Gaul. Nasty litle war that.
ptree - Monday, 04/26/04 20:22:58 EDT

searching: See. Everyone See!!!? Proof! PPw is truly old. He is once again searching for something he uses every day......(g)
Ralph - Monday, 04/26/04 20:27:17 EDT

CSI and controling our destiny: PPW if they want to let us be in control of their lives I suppose we could ..... But I know I do not want to hear any thing from folks about how we should of done something differently. Since the window of opportunity is rapidly closing for having a hand in guiding these changes.
Ralph - Monday, 04/26/04 20:29:32 EDT

PawPaw: Well and succinctly put, my friend. I hope it draws them out of the woodwork like ants to a picnic.
vicopper - Monday, 04/26/04 20:38:07 EDT

"He's making a list and checking it twice!

Gonna find out who's naughty and nice!

Paw Paw Claws is coming to town!"
Paw Paw - Monday, 04/26/04 22:06:31 EDT

Repairing an old champ: I just received an old champion forge and blower. The bolt on the bottom of the fire box is rusted off on one side the other is stuck in the ear that broke of the tyre several years ago. I was wonder what type of bolt to use and how to re attach it to the fire box and how to re attach the ear to the tyre both are made from cast. I was also woundering if any one knows a web sit that will show me how the blower goes together so I can take it apart without breaking the cast. The lower rod is rusted solid thus no turn no air.
erik - Monday, 04/26/04 23:05:55 EDT

Finishes and Anvils: First off would someone mind giving me a list of finishes and how to use them. Such as beeswax or wire brush. Im not positive on how to use any of them really.

OK and now about anvils. Im looking for a decent anvil. Preferably a new one. Ive checked out euroanvils and they look nice but are too expensive for my limited budget. I want something over 100 LBs. Good material and under 300$ if possible. Anyone know where I can get this or If this anvil even exist?
- Dan Crabtree - Tuesday, 04/27/04 00:31:29 EDT

Dan,: Given the parameter, New, 100+ pounds and under $300, I don't think you're going to find a name brand.

BUT! all is not lost

Harbor Freight sells a Russian (NOT chinese) 110#, cast steel anvil that is supposed to be fairly decent. There is a product review of the piece on the 21st Century Page. Pull down menu on the upper right hand side of this page.

Most reports seem to agree that although the surface is a mite soft, it's a good starter anvil. And the price will make you smile. (grin) If they don'w show it in their on-line catalog, check the store nearest you. They may have one on the shelves.
Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/27/04 01:01:51 EDT

Anvils: Dan,

Euroanvils has a German style 120# anvil for less than $300. It will be good enough that you will use it for years happily. Or spend another hundred bucks and get a bigger one. When I finish building my powerhammer, I'm going to get one of Steve's Euroanvils in the 350# size. At just a hair over two bucks a pound, it is a great bargain.

If you want a 200# anvil for under $300, you will have to find a used one. I don't know where you are, but I'm at the very edge of the Caribbean Ocean on an island less than 7 miles wide and I found a 200# decent used anvil for $100. I just went to every welding or repair shop on the island until I got a lead, then went to that guy and found my anvil. If I can do it here, I simply cannot imagine a place where it can't be done.
vicopper - Tuesday, 04/27/04 01:27:57 EDT

anvils: Dan, across the street at you will find some anvils listed by Robert Ironworker in the scrapbin. Send him an email as I heard from him a few days ago and he had a number of used, high quality anvils at fair prices. He gave me a lead to a very good used Trenton 120# anvil which came in at less than $300, after paying shipping. The old high quality anvils, Hay Budden, Trenton, Peter Wright are mighty fine anvils if in good condition. For new, you can't beat euroanvils, I intend to buy an anvil there in the very near future for my "summer" workshop...
Ellen - Tuesday, 04/27/04 01:48:33 EDT

anvils: Dan, in the scrapbin he is listed as Robert Fitch. I see a 120 Trenton for $275. You can click on his name and get his email address, I won't post it here to spare him being harvested for spam. I don't know where you are located, but Robert is in Kansas if that helps you to determine if you can pickup or else what shipping might be, and I do know he has anvils not listed in the "Scrapbin". Good Luck!
Ellen - Tuesday, 04/27/04 02:07:43 EDT

anvils: I saw a decent looking 191 lb Peter Wright go on eBay today for $117. That doesn't happen too often, but it ended at an odd AM time. I'd have bought it myself if I could have convinced my wife I needed another anvil. (grin)

eander4 - Tuesday, 04/27/04 03:08:20 EDT

French: Can we please give up on the French-bashing? I've been reading this board for a bit, and had come to expect more from the posters here. To quote from the rules " This is also an International forum visited by folks from over 100 countries, so lets not start any wars."

Please, more hammer-talk and less trash talk?
- Zed - Tuesday, 04/27/04 07:39:42 EDT

Darwin awards: PPW...with all these smiths verbally vieing for early "natural" selection you should have a good cross selection of used tools soon, please let me know if you "inherit" a tire roller :)
Mark P - Tuesday, 04/27/04 09:01:12 EDT

CSI committee: Lest you guys think I don't care, I have been keeping up with the business forum from the beginning. I simply have nothing to add to the EXCELLENT work you guys are doing at this time. I am but a simple bear and am easily confused... Rest assured, if I see something that I can help with, or that annoys me, you'll hear about it before it gets set in stone!

Those of you who haven't joined OR who have not been keeping up with things, DO IT NOW! it's your future too, you know. At least keep an eye on what's about to happen.
Alan-L - Tuesday, 04/27/04 10:11:04 EDT

Any Good?: At you go to some grizzly industys website. Then search for anvils. They have 200 lbs anvil for 195$ I think. This is an awsome price. The anvils dont have a pictel hole but that can be drilled they have 1 2" hardy hole. Anyone tried these? just because of the price I think they are cheaply made. Anyone know?
- Dan Crabtree - Tuesday, 04/27/04 10:18:46 EDT

Bashing & Finishes: I agree with Zed; why pick on the French when we have the Irish?

("Ow! Not your family, Honey! Ouch! No, don't call Paw Paw! Hey, that hurt!...")

As for finishes, the term is just what it says- how do you truly finish a piece. A “wire brush” finish can just be running a hand brush over the work in a desultory manner to remove loose scale; or it may be using a wire wheel on a drill or on a grinder/arbor. (Please check out Paw Paw’s “special” demonstration on safety in the iForge section before using a wire wheel!) A good white vinegar soak will also remove scale, with a grey finish.

Next up is a file finish, in which all surfaces are filed smooth and al scale has been removed. This is also sometimes called a “bright” or “white” finish. A satin finish can be accomplished with sand paper up to about 60 or 80 grit, or even finer. Mirror finishes use grits up to 800 or finer and then buffing on a buffer wheel with various rouge compounds.

Of course unprotected steel or iron, no matter how finely polished, will rust with a single fingerprint (except stainless steel, which is another story regarding passivating and suchlike). The simplest and most fleeting protection is fire bluing, which is just to heat it up to the temper color(s) leaving a resistant but thin layer of oxide. Chemical bluing is much more durable but involves some usually nasty chemicals. Bluing works well in items such as guns and knives that get continuous use, maintenance, and lubrication.

Coatings include wax; oil;, wax and linseed oil; wax, linseed oil and turpentine; and suchlike in various formulations. These are indoor coatings, and work fairly well in a stable environment. Clear lacquers also, sometimes, work well indoors, but are dependant on good surface preparation.

For outdoor work, A quick zip job with a “rust resistant” paint may or may not hold up for a season or two, depending on surface preparation (coal tar does not make a stable painting base) and the local climate (cold-dry = good; hot-wet-salty = bad) BUT Jock’s formula (elucidated elsewhere in Anvilfire) of sand-blasting, zinc primer and automotive lacquer can’t be beat.

This just scratches the surface, and I think I see some rust already. I’m sure that others will add to it.

Good luck.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 04/27/04 10:27:00 EDT

Grizzly Anvils: Those anvils at Grizzly are cast iron and too soft for blacksmithing work. Harbor freight has some cast "carbon steel" anvils for a decent price. They're harder than cast iron, but still softer than a good one. They're described as "Russian anvils" on this site and other places, and people say they make a decent first anvil. If anything, they'll teach you to hit the iron while still hot.
- MarcG - Tuesday, 04/27/04 10:47:22 EDT

Mark, : Ring roller? Wilco.
Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/27/04 11:12:19 EDT

I understand your distaste for the Franco bashing. (as I speak fair conversational French, on occasion I've been asked if I am french). But I also understand the anger over the money-grubbing behavior of president chirac and his cohorts.

But Zed is right folks, we really should lay off of the French. There are some "ugly Americans" and we make excuses for them, so let's remember there are a few Lafayettes' as well as the chiracs.
Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/27/04 11:17:52 EDT

I didn't realize that you were watching and listening. Just a message, "Hi folks, I'm here! Nothing to add at the moment, but I am paying attention." would be an encouragement. We feel a little bit like we are operating in the boondocks.
Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/27/04 11:20:00 EDT

PPW, that was the intention of my post above. Sorry if you guys thought nobody was looking over your shoulder! I'd bet there are several members who are doing that also, and would chime in if need be.
Alan-L - Tuesday, 04/27/04 14:30:23 EDT

Alan L (and Others):
Just the knowledge that folks are doing that is a help. Several of us (in private messages) have expressed a concern that we might be "legislating for the masses". That is a responsibility that is just a touch daunting.

Idealy, all 80+ members of CSI should have some input into the process.
Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/27/04 15:13:39 EDT

Pawpaw Claus?
He'll probably forget where he put the list anyway.

Ralph, you figure that pawpaw will remember any of this tomorrow? VBG

I don't have a tire roller, so don't bother with any special food treats. Vbg
ptree - Tuesday, 04/27/04 18:18:35 EDT

You mis-read the spelling. That's Paw Paw CLAWS. You might want to make a note of that. the list? Oh, I put it right here in my pocket. Hmm... Maybe it was this pocket. Hmm... well, must be on my desk. (grin)
Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/27/04 18:37:42 EDT

Food treats: I'd never "doctor" a fellow blacksmiths food..... I'd go for something he's sure to consume,rum, rye ...running off to check on my warfrin supply :P :)
Mark P - Tuesday, 04/27/04 19:32:17 EDT

CSI: PPW and others... I too have been following the forum but have at this time nothing consructive to add except maybe... thank you very much for taking the time to do this... I would be glad to help but my present health makes me budget my good days to trying to catch up with a 7 or 8 month backlog ...

Mark P - Tuesday, 04/27/04 19:38:14 EDT

Pawpaw Claws,
must be in the other pocket? On the desk? Do what I do, ask your lovely young bride, she WILL know where everything is, they always do.VBG

I'm getting pretty brave huh Ellen?
ptree - Tuesday, 04/27/04 19:49:02 EDT

Statue of Liberty???: Oh, I understand now! I didn't quite understand what "If you raise your hammer to one, will it dive under the workbench?" was meant to mean. Also; "Did you know the french invented the rear view mirror? It's the only way they could see the war". What war would that be, Ritch? The Iraq war that everybody regrets? The Viet-Nam war that the French gave up on and the US later won? (oh... wait a second) Or maybe the Second World War when France was divided 50-50 between pro and anti-Nazi forces, and entire, yes, entire villages were slaughtered for their resistance to the Nazis? Or maybe it was the war that France won for the American colonists against the British?
I hope this post doesn't get me in trouble with the moderators, but it is a reaction to two different and offensive posts. Sorry.
Dan - Wednesday, 04/28/04 00:18:45 EDT

Ptree, brave is one word I suppose....another does come to mind however.....VBG. I'd be real careful just who I choose to taunt if I were you, we'd miss you...a lot. Ever seen a picture of that Fairburne Sykes?

Most folks today have no concept of the vital role the French played in helping us to gain our independence. Yorktown was only possible because Admiral de Grasse fought two extremely bloody sea battles with the Royal Navy to prevent the evacuation of Cornwallis. Also, the French armed our army no cost...with excellent Charleville muskets, and furnished several thousand professional soldiers at the Yorktown campaign to seal the deal.

Also, French casualties in the First World War were in excess of two million. WWII casualties for them in a blitzkreig which only lasted a few days were over 500,000. Their casualties in Viet Nam in the early fifties were over 600,000. I think it would be a mistake to underestimate the French people. It is a shame they are controlled by a Socialist government, and admitting something like 7 million muslims as immigrants was not the brightest thing they could have done.

So, I will bash the French leaders, but not the French people.

Sorry about this post but I'm not a big fan of condemning whole races or nations, just as I am not a fan of bashing our leaders when we are at war. In fact the only thing I really enjoy bashing is hot steel and in my opinion that is what we should focus on here.
Ellen - Wednesday, 04/28/04 01:49:49 EDT

Well and truely said.
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/28/04 02:32:00 EDT

A final note. At the battle for Verdun, in 1916, combined French and German casualties were around 1.2 million. That worked out to 1.4 dead soldiers per square foot of French soil. As to Viet Nam, relevant books would be "Street Without Joy" and "Hell in a Very Small Place (Dien Bien Phu)" both by Bernard Fall...who was killed in Viet Nam in 1954 while gathering information for a 3rd book.
Ellen - Wednesday, 04/28/04 04:13:51 EDT

Ellen:: Your history is good, but check your math. France is a small country, but: 12,000,000/43,560sq ft=275.48 acres. This would make France a very small battleground.

- mike - Wednesday, 04/28/04 08:32:38 EDT

Note to self:: check your vision

1.2 million would be 27.548 acres. Off by a factor of 10, Blush

Barbie said it best " math is hard" VBG
- mike - Wednesday, 04/28/04 09:06:27 EDT

Apology: Please people! It was said as a joke.My sincere apology to the noble and brave good people of France. If I offended any sensitive folk, I ask you forgiveness.Pawpaw, what can I do to help?
- Ritch - Wednesday, 04/28/04 09:41:49 EDT

France: OK folks, lets stop dredging up historical event to show how great or not great folks are. We can learn from history yes, but we can not live there. If you are going to talk about it at least talk about current actions as that is all that really matters. I am sick and tired of having to hear about all this. Does not matter one iota about what I think or feel about France.

Unless of course we are talking about historical facts that have a bearing on metalurgy, smithing or other crafts.
Ralph - Wednesday, 04/28/04 11:28:23 EDT

Frawnce: Fair'nuff Ralph. Sounds good to me.
3dogs - Wednesday, 04/28/04 12:51:52 EDT

Ritch: Father 3dogs has given you absolution. Go and sin no more.
3dogs - Wednesday, 04/28/04 13:00:22 EDT

I've been trying not to say anything because I am guilty, too.

Buth Ralph, and Ellen, and all of us, me included, need to stop bashing people. Not just the French, we need to stop bashing ANYONE.
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/28/04 13:05:15 EDT

Addendum: We all have opinions, and it's perfectly normall for our opinions to sometimes clash. What causes a problem is when we are not will for the other guys opinion to be placed along side of ours for comparison. Maybe it's a "turf" kind of thing, I don't know.

But it's not healthy here. We all agree that we enjoy bashing iron, or we wouldn't be here.

Opinions are like arm pits. Everybody has a couple and it you get close enough, most of them don't smell real good. Including mine. (grin)
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/28/04 13:21:35 EDT

Can we still bash the wannamekaswooooord people? (BIG grin!) Only if they truly deserve it, of course...
Alan-L - Wednesday, 04/28/04 14:03:12 EDT

Absolution: Many thanks Padre 3 dogs, I will inhale a Dos Equis as punishment.I'm off to play in the particle board. Had a leak at this old house and the floor is dissolving. Fun!PawPaw, I don't know where you get those sayings, but they are good.Cowed, slinking away, BOG
- Ritch - Wednesday, 04/28/04 14:27:41 EDT

CSI Members:

The biggest thing most folks can do at the moment is to read the archives of the business forum, and stay current with what is going on. And for God's sake, if you have a question, or an answer, or a concern of any kind, SPEAK UP. It's a very small group doing most of the work and we really need input from as many folks as possible if we are going to craft an institution that will outlive all of us.
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/28/04 14:43:25 EDT


Sayings? I'm full of them! (grin) Plus I keep a text file of the ones that I like.
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/28/04 16:36:43 EDT

Paw Paw:
I think we'd all agree that you're full of many things....sayings included. (wry grin)

Hmmm, maybe I'm too close to Winston-Salem to be saying that out loud. I'm hiding now!

eander4 - Wednesday, 04/28/04 17:53:41 EDT

Eric, and I thought I was brave! BOG.
(I was thinking along that line, you just posted quicker)
ptree - Wednesday, 04/28/04 18:23:22 EDT

Paw Paw, may not be very hard to craft an institution to outlive *some* of us...course you might not like jumping into NM as most of the plants specialize in "sharp" and most of the ground specializes in "hard"...

Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/28/04 20:12:44 EDT


That's not a problem. You are talking to the guy that found a hole in the forest just big enough to put his body into without touching the trees. Took a 3/4 ton truck to get the canopy out of the tree that it landed in, though. On another occassion I did a stand up landing in a one lane dirt road. The canopy draped over a barbed wire fence that was between the road and the large pasture. Why not land in the pasture? Well, there was a bull there with large horns who looked like he didn't approve of drop in visitors. The other side of the road? TALL trees. This is the same guy whose team commander used to swear that he could drop Wilson 5 miles out to sea at 1200 feet and he wouldn't get his feet wet! Good canopy control is a definite skill. (grin)
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/28/04 22:49:38 EDT

hi this is my first post can any one tell me what has happened to the i forge?
rowan - Thursday, 04/29/04 04:27:11 EDT


How do you mean what has happened to the iForge? It's still where it has always been. The guru has not had time to do a new demonstration for some time now, and no one else has volunteered.
Paw Paw - Thursday, 04/29/04 09:10:40 EDT

iForge Demonstrations: I'm working on one or two possible iForge demos, but with my current schedule and workload they should be ready, like, August. Maybe September... Research is a slow process, especially when you're reinventing the wheel, or the shield boss, or spearheads.

Now if any of y'all have a bird or two in the hand, start sketching. Maybe we can get it back up to a monthly event.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 04/29/04 09:37:56 EDT

Did I mention the winds?...had to run out this morning and fashion windbreaks for the new tomato plants---I guess building the stone wall around the garden patch is not such a bad idea afterall...

Thomas Fell free to drop in anytime for a visit Paw Paw
Thomas P - Thursday, 04/29/04 11:33:08 EDT

NM Wind and walls: Thomas,
Why not go adobe? In fact make Casa Thomas a compound? with adobe wall all around? (grin)
Ralph - Thursday, 04/29/04 12:10:50 EDT

We have an Adobe wall round a good portion of the place---gotta make 3 gates for it already and the plan is to gradually extend it into a compound as we put the shop and studio in.

The biggest reason I'm not going adobe is that I'm unskilled in it and it takes a lot of time and effort compared to a 2x6 stud wall and lots of insulation, (lot less foundation work too).

Another aspect is that the local area is fairly seismically active, out of the 30 4.5+ earthquakes in NM over the last 130 or so years 1/3 of them are in the Socorro Seismic Anomoly---when the rocks begin to roll adobe is not your friend!

Thomas "Stone walls do not a prison make; nor iron bars a cage"---but's it's a good starting place when you are designing one...
Thomas P - Thursday, 04/29/04 13:22:30 EDT

Walls: Thomas,
Just out of curiousity, on the older structures around your area ( any older than 100 years?) what are they made of? Wall? etc? What ever it is copy it.
Ralph - Thursday, 04/29/04 14:22:13 EDT

Making a Madrel: I am trying to make a small mandrel, probably a hand madrel for making rings and such...any suggestions?
- Joe R - Thursday, 04/29/04 14:40:26 EDT

An "alignment tool" by any other name,,, mandrel:: I'm not sure what others call them (I know they have another name) but I use alignment tools for hand mandrels.

Tey are about a foot+ long and run from about 1 1/2" down to 1/4", with a hax handle. These are the tools used to line up bolt holes on girders and such for bridge construction, substituting for severed fingers.

(A web search showed all sorts of other "alignment tools" but not what I had in mind.) So now soeone can kill two birds with one stone.


Paw Paw?

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 04/29/04 15:16:50 EDT

aligners: Check under "Bull Pin" for ironworkers. I think that's the term used by steel riggers for that tool.
Alan-L - Thursday, 04/29/04 15:32:09 EDT

Bull Pin:

That's the correct name.
Paw Paw - Thursday, 04/29/04 16:13:28 EDT

Alignment: Have heard them called spud wrenches when the other end was a 1/2" drive ratchet.
- Ritch - Thursday, 04/29/04 16:22:26 EDT

Horseshoe nail rings: Whenever I used to do demo's or shows I'd get asked for horseshoe nail rings and always put them off with "I'm a blacksmith not a farrier" but now they are offering hard cash for em.


ok I know the basics take a nail and make it round... but how? round a mandrel? hot or cold? what size nail? and just how on earth do you hold onto them weeny bits of metal?

back in the forge for a full day today after a 6 mounth lay off the heck did so many hammer handles get loose? :( spent most of the day reseting, dressing or rehandling my collection of hammers (and making wedges was the only hot work today) dang I got to find me an apprentice.
Mark P - Thursday, 04/29/04 16:27:27 EDT

nail rings: Well first you need a big enough nail.
Then if I was wanting to make some I would use two sets of scrolling pliers to hold and turn them.
But that is just me, and I will be up front and say i have not made these type of rings. But when ever I need small stuff like this heat and use tongs/pliers.... fast and easy
Ralph - Thursday, 04/29/04 16:34:09 EDT


Normally it's not worth your time to make them. I used to buy them from Centaur Forge. Amy Piegh may sell them also. I did make a little bender, occasionally I have a grand child sit down a make a couple hundred, so I no longer buy them but when the grand kids quit, I'll start buying again.

I used to throw them in the gas forge, heat them to red and let them cool off. That took the "shiny" off of them, since they come polished.
Paw Paw - Thursday, 04/29/04 17:31:27 EDT

Joe R,
Many sizes of ring mandrels are available at RIO GRANDE. They are a jewelers supply house. I like the ones that come marked in sizes, as it makes it easy to use. They also come with a groove, to allow sawing a ring to add for sizing. They also have wrist and neck mandrels for making braclets and necklaces.
ptree - Thursday, 04/29/04 23:17:41 EDT

Mandrels: Ironworkers call their big ones "Bullpins", smaller ones used by mechanics and machinists are called drift punches or pins. Jewelers ring mandrels aren't that expensive if you check out someplace like
vicopper - Thursday, 04/29/04 23:44:01 EDT

Im considering buying the German 119 LBs anvil off of Looks like a good starter anvil. Anyone heard anything good or bad? or am I going to have to be the lab mouse?
- Dan Crabtree - Friday, 04/30/04 00:19:48 EDT

Euro Anvils have a good reputation. I'd say it's probably a good buy.
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/30/04 00:22:31 EDT

Dan: Several folks have commented in the forums here that they have purchased various sized anvils from Euro Anvil and all have been quite happy with their purchases. I used a German style Euro Anvil at a local hammer in for a morning and I liked it a ....a lot! I plan on buying one for myself soon, hoping I can save enough for the 335# anvil. There are some tips in the FAQ section here on putting a radius on the edges and polishing the horn. Finally, the price is very good on all the Euro Anvils and they are designed for smithing rather than horseshoing.
Ellen - Friday, 04/30/04 01:16:59 EDT

Dan: In the Guru's Den on 4-27-04 there was a post from Don A. about his purchase of a Czech anvil. He sent queries to both of the dealers, had an email response from Euro Anvils the same day, and had the anvil by the end of the week. He didn't hear back from the other dealer till much later.....

Where (generally) are you located? Looking at a couple of your older posts it seems like England?
Ellen - Friday, 04/30/04 01:36:21 EDT

Location: Im located in Southern Illinois, US actually. I tend to be a bit english though because I come from English decent so your not too far off. And Crabtree is an English name if you where going by that.
- Dan Crabtree - Friday, 04/30/04 01:44:26 EDT

Also I have poor spelling LOL.
- Dan Crabtree - Friday, 04/30/04 01:48:07 EDT

Dan: I spent a large part of my youth in Southern Illinois. My maternal Grandparents had a farm near Pulaski, about 12 miles north of Cairo where the confluence of the Mississipi and Ohio Rivers converge. Beautiful county, many happy memories. In fact, that was where I developed my interest in welding and blacksmithing......
Ellen - Friday, 04/30/04 01:51:30 EDT


My great grandparents lived up on Wolf Creek Rd, just west of Pomeroy, OH. Just north of where the Kanawah River joins their Mississippi on their majestic road to the Gulf of Mexico. (grin) I actually started blacksmithing up that road, in the living room/bed room of my great grandparents log home, covered with clapboard siding.
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/30/04 02:00:54 EDT

RE: Ellen: Im further up North. Really inbetween southern and central IL. Anvils are scarce where I live. A few farmers have them but they need them. My uncle has an anvil but they have had it since he was a child and hes about 60 now so its become almost a peice of his life and he wont sell it to me. Ive never seen it but I wouldnt be supriced if it had 2 in. of dust on it. Im probally going to buy the german anvil on euroanvil since I havent heard anything bad.
- DanDAoC - Friday, 04/30/04 02:06:05 EDT

Wrong Name: Sorry had wrong identity on. Last post was from me Dan Crabtree
- Dan Crabtree - Friday, 04/30/04 02:07:41 EDT

Paw Paw: There was an actual working blacksmith shop in Pulaski, IL when I was growing up. Wonderful place to hang out and watch. It was a two mile walk each way from the farm, and well worth it. He had a roller for the steel for wagon wheels, a coal forge, a couple of anvils, LOTS of tongs, and he could fix anything on farm machinery almost in the blink of an eye. This was a fourth generation shop, and contrary to popular opinion he made a good living at his trade, was well respected in the community. On the 4th of July he would do an anvil shoot, fill balloons with acetylene and touch them off with a red hot piece of long steel, all the things which were fun to watch. Then there was an ice cream social to go along with the festivities, followed with a prayer meeting to give thanks for our independence......I wish more kids today could have that kind of experience. It took you back to the "roots" of our county.

That was also where I learned to operate a tractor (a 1950 Ford), drive a pick up truck sitting on the proverbial catalog to see over the dashboard (I was about 11 at the time), I could drive anywhere as long as I stayed on gravel roads where the police never came.....some nights I went frog gigging with my uncles, and if I was there in the fall we would go Goose hunting. Rest of the year was squirel and rabbit hunting. Grandma taught me to cook, can and sew, Grandpa taught me to hunt, shoot, carpentry, welding, and to ride a horse. I was truly blessed, and treasure those memories and give thanks to God I was able to know those fine people and learn as much as I did.
Ellen - Friday, 04/30/04 02:25:18 EDT

Grandfather taught me to hunt back up the hollow from the house, learned to drive a Farmall, helped make my first nails there, went on my first solo hunt pack up that hollow, (age 7, 3 years before your tractor was built, 3 shots, 3 squirrels). Learned to catch BIG snapping turtles in the creek that was on the north property line, shared with the neighbor. Learned a bit of rudimentary fireplace cooking. GGma Johnson had a wood stove, but for some things preferred the fireplace.

Yep, good memories.
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/30/04 09:14:30 EDT

pack = back:
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/30/04 09:15:49 EDT

Bull Pins, Language & MAD SCHEME: Thanks, folks. It's hard to give advice when you can't remember the name.

Nomenclature helps make the world go round. Part of the development of the sailing ship was the development of nomenclature so that the right crewmen pulled the right lines to move the right sails the right way.

I was telling a good friend of mine that I had gotten a cone mandrel as my main capital improvement for Oakley Forge this year.

She says: “Oh, I have one of those too.”

“For straightening and rounding-up rings?” sez I.

“Of course.” she said.

We finally worked it out that hers was for jewelry and mine was 31” tall and weighed 90 pounds. On the other claw, she would certainly expect a jewelry-size mandrel in my shop, based on the projects I work with (and the variety of bull pins already there).

MAD SCHEME: Paint the new 90# cone mandrel in fluorescent orange. Place in wif’s parking space at Camp Fenby to reserve her space while she goes shopping. Watch fun when she returns and goes to move “road cone”. Suffer dire, but comical, consequences.

Sunny and nice on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks:

Go viking:

Camp Fenby; a laid-back medieval arts and crafts weekend, June 25, 26 and 27.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 04/30/04 09:36:00 EDT

Bruce, we had the reverse one year at Quad-State: a fellow took traffic cones and cut them from their base and painted them black and had them for sale for some trivial ammount. A smith would see them, see the price and zoom over only to be astonished when they tried to pick one up and it "flew".

Please feel free to annoy your charming wife---but first make sure she has one of my cards: "Thomas Powers, Garages, Barns, Basements and Smithys Cleaned Out for $50, shoot if the stuff is good I'll give you $100!"

Thomas P - Friday, 04/30/04 11:08:53 EDT

humanitarian: Thomas,good to see the relocation has'nt damaged your values.BOG
- Ritch - Friday, 04/30/04 13:06:10 EDT

Americana: Man I sure wish I could have seen a working blacksmith shop as a kid...... In fact the first time I ever saw a blacksmith doing his thing was in 1994 the year I started smithing. It was at Fort Stevens ( I think it is a Oregon State park) but they had a smith there working out of a tent shop during the summers. He pointed me to Ft Vancouver.
My grand pa was a semi blacksmith. More of a mechanic in rural Arkansas but he had to make do with what he had. Unfortunately he died when I was 5 so I never had the chance to see him in action.

But I sure do miss the town events and socials form when I was younger, even tho they are not as fun as what my folks have described from their youth.... sigh
Ralph - Friday, 04/30/04 13:36:42 EDT

family history: While recently do some record searching with my pop, he says to me, " did you know your a throwback? One of your great grandfathers was a blacksmith. O'course he gaveit up to run with jesse james as a safe cracker!"
The things we find in our proverbial closets!
dragon-boy - Friday, 04/30/04 14:47:29 EDT


At least he was contributing to society! (grin)
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/30/04 16:06:06 EDT

Drill Question: Hey, I just inherited a Canady Mfg Co Improved Number 14 Drill press in fair condition. I was wondering where I could find specifications on how it originally worked, since it's obviously been modified. It still spins, but I fear it may be missing some parts...but I don't know which ones! Help!
- Fuzzy - Friday, 04/30/04 17:35:14 EDT


Forget it, what you see is what you've got. You might take some good, clear, close up pictures of it and I'll try to find some pictures in one of the catalogs I've got, but the odds are only about 50/50.
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/30/04 17:56:09 EDT

BULL PIN: A little late, but...
- CWI - Friday, 04/30/04 19:24:27 EDT

Fuzzy, our good Guru sells a CD-ROM of the Cannedy Otto catalog for a few dollars in the Anvilfire store accesible from the pull down menu top right of your computer screen. It has valuable descriptions and detailed illustrations of their produce line, as well as performance specifications. That just might be the best money you ever spent to document your tool. If you are a CSI member (hint, hint!) there is a discount on your purchases from the Anvilfire store.

Ralph, I was truly blessed to have some of the wonderful experiences I had in my youth, and in fact throughout my life. I have treasured memories of the many wonderful people I have known.

Paw Paw: re your comment on the Williamsburg Milling Machine. If you step up to a 12" or 14" file then you have an Armstrong Milling Machine which I used extensively to produce my .50 cal. flintlock long rifle. Wish I had had a 4.5" Milwaukee angle grinder then!

DB: I think Jesse James and Co., as well as Butch Cassidy and Friends made some valuable contributions to our culture. More so than some of contemporary folk. At least Jesse and Butch had to saddle up a horse, check their firearms, and ride out and, with great risk, earn a living....I've often thought that when I retire from my profession I should move to Williams, AZ and get a job with the Grand Canyon Steam Railroad Co. They rob the train daily for the entertainment of the tourists. I already have the horse, the cap and ball Remington revolver, and a large kerchief. After all my years of dealing with the IRS and various State agencies, I would like, for once, to the one with the mask and the gun.....VBG!
Ellen - Friday, 04/30/04 20:47:27 EDT

Americana:: a trivial side note. My grandparents were on a party telephone line which they shared with at least 14 other people. The phones each had their own ring. Sort of like two longs, a short, then a long, and you knew you were being called.

For entertainment, my cousin Ann and I would get on two different phones and get a conversation going, injecting some salacious gossip into our conversation. It was highly amusing when others on the line would gasp and interject comments. Much more fun that the boob tube.
Ellen - Friday, 04/30/04 21:18:41 EDT

That's why I stayed down with a 6" file. (grin)

Quick note. Harbor Freight sells a Chicago Electric 4.5" horizontal grinder for $9.99 on sale. It has the same shaft size as the DeWalt 4.5" does, and it's actually fairly well built AND it doesn't have that darned paddle switch that OSHA forced all the American Manufacturers to adopt. At that price, if it dies throw, it away and get another one out of the drawer! I've got two, and will probably order two more with my next order.

Mask and gun? May I hold your stirrup and ride beside you, Mam? I've got two reproduction 1858 Texas .44's and Sheri says I can buy the Uberti Model 1860 Henry in .44 Long Colt this month! (grin)

Paw Paw - Friday, 04/30/04 22:04:24 EDT

stuff just stuff: Paw-Paw must have been a GOOD boy last month to earn that kind of presi :)

you got me thinking in the right direction on the nail rings ... thanks ... posted pictures of the results on the yahoo page
Mark P - Friday, 04/30/04 22:21:39 EDT


She got a new, 12 needle, Industrial Model Embroidery Machine, (and the CSI patches are starting to look like something. Still got a bit of tweaking to do to them. I could buy NINE Model 1860 Henry's for what that sewing machine cost!

I had to laugh at her when she was writing the check. I wouldn't write it, made her do it. She was shaking so bad she could hardly sign her name. (evil grin)
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/30/04 22:27:14 EDT

Sewing Machines:

And I could buy a tenth Model 1860 for the amount she's spent on thread and attachments. (grin)
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/30/04 22:34:35 EDT

Paw Paw: I'd be delighted to have you ride with me anytime.

I have one of the Harbor Freight 4.5" angle grinders and it has given me good service. At that price one can buy 3 or 4, and then not have to slow down your work to change disks or flap wheels......nice.

Side note: I learned to sew on my Grandmother's Singer. It was a treadle machine and actually it produced a very nice stitch. You could sew modest leather on it. And, it was beautifully decorated with rococco paint scrolls.....
Ellen - Saturday, 05/01/04 01:03:50 EDT

Grinders: Paw Paw,

I used to buy Milwaukee and Porter-Cable grinders, after I gave up on Makitas. My employees were trashing the Makitas in a few weeks and the others would last a few months. At best.

I had one Porter Cable left working when I quit being an employer, and it lasted until I started back into smithing. After it died, I took aflyer on a cheepie from HF, for $19 on sale. I still have it. I bought a half dozen of the blue ones from them a year or so ago when they were on sale for ten bucks, and I still have three of them, my brother has one and I killed one or two. They seem just fine, but the orange one fron HF is smoother, quieter and more powerful than the blue ones. Twice the price, too.

My orange one quit running the other day, so I took it apart just to see how it was built inside. Dam well put together, actually, all ball and needle bearings. The problew with it was that one wire had come loose from the switch. Just a loose set screw on the terminal. Easy fix, works fine.

My last Porter Cable was autopsied and was not one bit better built, in fact it was not as good. And it cost just three times as much as the HF orange one would at full price. The switch in it was NOT screwed in, it was crimped and poorly so. I lost a lot of respect for Porter Cable's quality and gained a goodly bit for HF's.

The big enemy of small high-speed motors is heat. Having three or four of the things allows me to keep switching off as they warm up, so they have time to cool down without stopping the work. They last a lot longer this way, too.

The rest of the time I keep a grinding wheel in one, a wire cup wheel in one, a flap disc in one and a sanding disc in one. No changing wheels when working progressively finer finishes, jus tpick up a fres grinder. At $10 or $20 each, it is just good economics to have several. And a real joy not to have to futz around changing heads all the time.
vicopper - Saturday, 05/01/04 01:18:37 EDT

Elen & Vic:

Multiple grinders, each with a differenrt head was one of the things I was thinking about when I ordered two. But what really got me was the fact that some time ago a ham footed helper steppe on my DeWalt grinder in the truck. Broke that stupid paddle switch. I took it to the local Power tool repair facility. An authorized sevice center for DeWalt. They had to order a new switch and since the cord had been mutilated a couple of times they ordered a new cord, too. (which I agreed with)

$42 dollars! I could have bought 4 of the HF blue one and had coffee money left over!

Paw Paw - Saturday, 05/01/04 01:34:22 EDT

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