Some tools to drool over.  Image (c) 1998 Jock Dempsey.  Click for enlargement. WELCOME to the anvilfire!
Virtual Hammer-In!

This page is open to ALL for the purpose of advancing blacksmithing.

April 1 - 14, 2005 Archive

WHY THREE FORUMS? Well, this is YOUR blacksmithing forum to use for whatever you wish within the rules stated above. It is different than the Slack-Tub Pub because the messages are permanently posted and archived.
This page is NOT a chat - it is a "message board"

Our chat, the (Slack-Tub Pub), is immediate but the record of it is temporary. DO NOT post permanent messages there. We refresh the "log" every 24 hours now and your message will be lost.

The Guru's Den is where I and several others try to answer ALL your blacksmithing and metalworking questions to us.

Please note that this forum uses an e-mail encryption system that prevents spam harvesters from collecting your e-mail address.

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

Taxes and Cultures: Paying my taxes in Sacraficial Virgins has grown increasingly difficult. Makes me miss the good old days!


Taxes are the price we pay for civilization; a much undervalued commodity, until you have to live without it. Even Mountain Men had to sell their pelts to somebody. How the money gets spent is largely up to the folks we elect, so just chose wisely; and how come those other voters don't see things my way?

Still a little punchy... G'night all.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 04/01/05 00:36:00 EST

Thomas P.: What? Teenage boys drink beer? but thats illegal. Being a teenage boy I know this isnt ture :) lol
- Dan Crabtree - Friday, 04/01/05 02:48:12 EST

Taxes and Spam: There is probably quite a bit of tax avoidance on ebay. However, all paypal or other credit card transactions leave mounds of traceable tracks and you would have to be a FOOL to think the IRS doesn't have access to that data. Same with checks that must be deposited in a personal or business account.

On the other hand you see many ebayer's stating "postal money orders only" These are virtualy untraceable as there is no account information attached to the reciever. They CAN be traced if a large number are cashed at one post office but it is very difficult. They are very nearly as good as cash.

You might think the folks demanding money orders simply cannot get a Paypal account. However, under the current rules, if you can sell on ebay. you can get a PayPal account. Note that ebay owns Paypal.

If you read my Virus and Spam rant on the FAQ's page you will see there are many organizations that have been fighting SPAM to no avail. One of the best WAS the Orbitz blacklist. If you spammed or had a server that could be hijacked to spam with you got blacklisted. Servers used the blacklist to filter mail. The system worked. However, they had one of their spam test robots run amok due to a server error (on the target) and the city that owned the server sued. They won and Orbitz closed down out of fear of the stupidity of the court system.

ProjectHoneypot is like the others. They have no teeth. Many others have provided the necessary evidence to set the law dogs loose but have been ignored. Until we make our governments DO something then nothing is what we get.

Although a lot of SPAM IS sent by overseas servers the spammer king pins and businesses profiting from spam are mostly in the US (more ugly American in the eyes of the world). The world's #1 spammer lives in California and claims that it is his right under the US constitution to SPAM. . . However, he IS up to his toupe' in illegalities that if prosecuted would end his rein, forever.

ProjectHoneypot has a whole page on "munging" addresses, changing them with "NOSPAM" and using ASCII codes to confuse the harvestor bots. . . It is not very good advice. The reason is that too many people use the same tricks and they are easy to correct and make good addresses. After a spammer collects all the addresses on a site they:

1) Run a filter over the list looking for malformed addresses and seperate them. Common "munges" like "NOSPAM" and ASCII for @ and "." are fixed automaticaly.

2) The rejects are looked at by a human, corrected and put back into the list. Thousands can be done by one person in a day.

3) The whole list is sent as test mail with a legitimate return address for the bounces. It is the only time a legitimate return address is used.

4) The bounced mails are looked at for creative "munges" that got through the filters and fixed, then tested again. If they bounce this second time they are dropped as being to costly to bother with.

After these four simple steps they have 100% good addresses with less than 1% loss. All those tricks failed. Your address is added to a CD and sold.

Our forums with the encrypted addresses avoid all automated address gathering. Even if someone wrote a special anvilfire encrypted address collector (it is a custom system) then they would need to decrypt all the addresses. But even the encryption is custom. . . It COULD be done but it is not worth all the effort. But it is also a good reason to change the system now and then (I do). And the next system will be another large jump tecnologicaly.

- guru - Friday, 04/01/05 03:38:03 EST

Rugg anti-spam:
Rather than members only the next system I am working on would still be publicly accessable. However it will have the same security of a members-only DBase system.

Also note what I said about harvestor viruses. If you have an e-mail address and you USE it then it is out of your control and on other people's machines that will eventually get infected. It is just like having daily casual sex.

As I noted, my new personal address that is not used on this forum and only used in response to legitimate inquiries has already started to recieve spam. It was clean for only 3 weeks! SOMEBODY that I wrote to was infected or got infected. . . So far the address is not a hot comodity and has not been sold to a thousand spammers. I am still getting less than 1 a day since the change.

The reason spammers are going to the VERY illegal method of using harvestor viruses on personal machines is the increase of security in web forums. It is hacking on a grand scale and no new laws are required to jail the users of these robotic hackers for LIFE!
- guru - Friday, 04/01/05 03:53:53 EST

PhP 4 : Hey guru why not use PHP BB Forums and such? It uses MYSQL and you can also use SQL DB's. You could even try Envision Board Its Php in nature It has lot little neat add ons and such.
Fabian - Friday, 04/01/05 07:18:22 EST

virtual smithing: ok jock..... you seem ta know alot how bout a virtual sword---- ta do battle with the harvester bots.. will it work????---- all hail the guru he will save us from spam.........
blacklionforge - Friday, 04/01/05 08:54:54 EST

Ebay and I:
burntforge and Ken,

I do not hate ebay, I hate what it IS becoming, a theives market. One serious scandle and they COULD force congress to pass laws regulating internet sales in a way that none of use will be happy with. ebay is big enough to survive but what of the rest of us?

I have bought a number of items on ebay and have always been satisfied. Although I do not deal a LOT on ebay I have setup pages for others and may sell there in the future.

My greatest experiance is consulting on hundreds of items for folks, usualy off-board OR looking at items brought to my attention by others. Most of the folks that ask already suspect that something may be wrong. Sometimes they just want a valuation. The biggest problem is seller's misrepresenting things as old, antique, collectable or labeling as a "blacksmith" tool because they KNOW that is a hot key word. These are your typical "buyer beware" type issues that you will find everywhere. However, quite a bit of this missrepresentation is blatent and associated outright fraud (forgeries). And then there are the ASO's being sold by the tens of thousands. . . all misrepresented in one way or another.

Some of the fraudulent stories are amazingly creative and entertaining. Like the fellow that was selling his great, great grandfathers antique anvil that had been passed down generation after generation and how he hated selling it . . an early 1970's farriers anvil no more than 30 years old.

The problem with the ASO's is that in another generation there will be more of these lying about that real anvils. AND they will be old and rusted and difficult to say just HOW-OLD they are. Currently the best advice is that if an anvil looks really old it is probably a good tool. Twenty years from now that will not be true.

Recently I had a fellow send me a dozen links to anvils on ebay wanting to know if they were any good. EVERY ONE was an ASO. I was amazed to see just how many different ASO patterns are being manufactured! I was also amazed that of all the GOOD old anvils on ebay, every one he wanted to know about was the junk. I came to the conclusion that either he was testing me or was absolutely determined to buy an ASO and I gave up responding.
- guru - Friday, 04/01/05 12:09:56 EST

CSI: Hey Guru, Why have you not responded to my inquiry about CSI activation? Am I getting the bum's rush from your organization? Didn't my credit card payment clear? I tried to be supportive.
brian robertson - Friday, 04/01/05 12:18:14 EST

Forging Hammers Sale: Have Two forging Hammers for sale: 400# Beaudry: head has been rebuilt,needs some work but is a solid piece with a lot of use left in it to go. $2500.00 US firm
50# Can. Little Giant: There is some welding that I will do and one bearing will be repaired. $3000.00 US firm
Phone# is 613-537-8639 or use my e-mail
Stephen Sokoloski - Friday, 04/01/05 12:24:44 EST

Farm Show Magazine:
Our article on Brake Drum forges was featured in Farm Show Magazine (Vol 20, #2 p39).

I had a phone call from a gentleman in Calgary, Canada about the forge and the plans. The drawing was used very small as in a review (legal use) and it wasn't clear enough to understand all the parts. He has a relative that is going to print them out.

We also talked about fuel and firepots. I sent him to SAIT to track down the local smiths and John Neuman to buy a fire pot for a larger forge. If any of you have John's contact info please send it to me.

Muldoon! You out there?
- guru - Friday, 04/01/05 13:10:55 EST

CSI - Brian:
Brian, these get processed VERY quickly.

I suspect that the CC process did not go through (an error at the end). I have searched my mail and the CC records (two months) without finding your name or e-mail address.

You would have gotten an automated mail from the CC gateway and I get a copy of the same (as well as 3 other related mails per sale) IF the sale went through.

Note that we do not accept Discover Card. Our gateway lists it and I have been unsucessful getting it removed. . . banks! The exit error message is also as clear as mud and that too is out of my control.

Call me at 434-283-5671 if you cannot make the gateway work.

- guru - Friday, 04/01/05 13:24:10 EST

Dan, it was legal when I was a teenage boy!---back when the voting and the drinking age went to 18 here in the USA---not for long though, the wised up pretty fast!

I will be firing up the forge with charcoal for the NM Tech's spring fling and weiner roast this weekend. Gotta check my scrap to make sure only "clean" steel gets in the forge.

Thomas P - Friday, 04/01/05 13:25:26 EST


I am a member of a site that uses PHP-BB. It works nice, I like that you can edit you posts. However, I am not crazy about the MYSQL database. It is the old dBaseIII system that has some problems left over from ages ago. I used to program in dBaseIII on a PC-XT running win 3.1. . . It may be my lack of experiance but I have found MYSQL db's hard to backup, move, reinstall. They are notorious for getting corrupted and caput, the end! Changes in the DB structure can easily blow up the database.

You may argue the point all you want but almost every time a site moves that uses a large MYSQL DB they have to scrap the old data and start from scratch.

We use a few MYSQL DB's on anvilfire. One works, the other (the Rouges Gallery) is a disaster that needs a DB programmer to rewrite, rebuild and design a web interface for. Volunteers?

There are some changes I would like to make and I am investigating software but when a product is so complicated that it requires a PHD to work on it I back up and look at the ancient old one page scripts we are running and ask WHY?
- guru - Friday, 04/01/05 13:59:59 EST

CSI: I also had trouble trying to use a credit card to sign up a while ago. I mentioned it a couple times on the board and just haven't taken the time to go back and try again. The card was good honest. I'll give it a shot again maybe over the weekend.
Mike Ferrara - Friday, 04/01/05 15:26:30 EST

guru: Hi guru
I understand...thanks for clarifing your position concerning ebay. You have some really good valid points. I wish everyone who sold stuff on ebay was like Ken and myself. Before I purchase anything I read the persons feedback. I make sure they have done hundreds of flawless transactions. I look for certain wording to determine if people are hiding something. I look for close clear photos. I also look for a lack of photos from certain angles...that tell me alot. Anyway I love ebay and it is too bad there are a few bad fish than can spoil a bunch. If people are careful they should be fine. I have noticed since some people have been ripped off they are very upfront abusive with language while asking questions or before beginning a transaction. I pretty much tell those people not to waste their time buying from me as I give excellent service and I am not paying for others sins. I also notice many people after purchasing seem to have an issue giving up there shipping address to the seller. They are just slowing things down and hurting themselves. Anyway I enjoy most people I come in contact with on ebay and sometimes learn interesting things.
burntforge - Friday, 04/01/05 16:42:06 EST

Brian Robertson: Your payment WAS received, on March 25th. You didn't say that you paid through PayPal, so Jock was looking in the wrong place. I only use PayPal occasionally, so I just noticed it last night and sent Jock a copy of the record. He will undoubtedly take care of it immediately.

I notice that you paid it again today. So now you have paid twice. I will have to send a copy of the second payment to Jock, as he doesn't have that one yet.

If you click on my name, you can email me direct and we can get the PayPal end of it sorted out so Jock knows whether to sign you up for one year or two. :-)

vicopper - Friday, 04/01/05 16:58:16 EST

CSI: Just sign me up for two years instead of one. Didn't mean to be a pain in the...
brian robertson - Friday, 04/01/05 19:10:25 EST

Pain in the.....: Brian,

I hardly think so. ;-) Welcome to the family!

eander4 - Friday, 04/01/05 19:20:28 EST


Pain in the .....?

Hardly! Welcome to the Family, we're glad to have you with us.
Paw Paw - Friday, 04/01/05 19:26:01 EST

Welcome Brian,
Make sure you log in so you can see your name in blue when you post on the Guru's Den, and it'll let you in the members forum where we are plotting taking over the Illuminati.
And your not a pain in the..........
Unlike someone else who I used to think was a pain in the neck, but after awhile I had to lower my opinion of him.....
JimG - Friday, 04/01/05 19:33:22 EST

JimG---didn't they warn you about sitting on my hat?

Thomas P - Friday, 04/01/05 19:38:37 EST

ptree - Friday, 04/01/05 20:40:48 EST

Brian Robertson: I'll pass that along to Jock. I had a bit of trouble with emailing him, due to the email change, but I finally got it together tonight. Give Jock a day to get you signed up.

Welcome to the crew!

Rich Waugh
vicopper - Friday, 04/01/05 21:23:40 EST

Welcome aboard Brian. Thank you. Two years you say? Now there's a lad. Scoot over to the Members Forum and take a look-see.
Gronk - Saturday, 04/02/05 02:53:32 EST

PTree, those horns on on that hat for a purpose!

Thomas P - Saturday, 04/02/05 11:48:01 EST

Ebay, Web:
EBAY: All my transactions on ebay have gone nicely except for the one that I knew was a rip-off and it was for an expose' (profit was in the shipping overcharge). In fact, most of the folks I have delt with have accepted my personal/business checks and shipped immediately upon recieving them.

But as you pointed out you have to be careful. The problem is that the between ebay and spammers the general public is now exposed to an unprecedented amount of fraud and flim flamery. Rural folks that NEVER had to worry about con men have their e-mail hammered by world class cons from everywhere IN the world. Teenagers are exposed to credit card, identity theft and types of devient sexual acts that I never knew existed at my age even after having a subscription to Playboy for several decades. If the NET community in general does not push to clean things up it will just get worse and worse.

A dead SIMPLE idea that my brother had was to force all porn sites to an .XXX or .SEX web extension including all their e-mail addresses. This doesn't infringe on their "free speach" but lets the folks that don't want it, or to protect their children from it to set simple filters on their systems and that is IT. Many of the so called impossible problems on the web are this easy to fix. A requirement for all unsolicited email to have a special extension would do the same . .

- guru - Saturday, 04/02/05 12:46:51 EST

We have had a little confusion during the transition from using VIcopper's pay-pal account and setting up a CSI account. We are getting there. Sorry for the confusion.
- guru - Saturday, 04/02/05 12:53:50 EST

CSI: Yes, there has been a little glitch or two; these are just normal growing pains and are no cause for concern. Don't let them stop you or your friends from joining CSI and supporting this valuable and unique resource.

Please note that no matter whether your membership dues come to me or Jock or CSI's treasurer, they will ALL get to CSI, in the end. So keep on signing up, renewing, and encouraging your friends to do so. We're all in this together.
vicopper - Saturday, 04/02/05 13:18:36 EST

Good Afternoon All!!
I am bored and thought I would drop on buy the flaming anvil to see if anyone is banging out some iron. I am sitting here waiting for people to arrive to record commercials...boring. Would rather be wacking some iron. I was looking through my old Anvils Rings today and found a 1998 advertisement for Anvilfire. I didn't think it went back that far. Pretty nice. Keep up the good work JockyD( your new radio name...LOLOL). Maybe I am hoping to join the CSI when I get the extra green. TTYL :)
WESBNEWSRADIO - Saturday, 04/02/05 13:44:40 EST

ward montgomery: I just fornd an old looking ward montgomery arc welder. Its missing the cables, and the amperage ajustment handle is broken, and the thing is infested with wasp nests. Where can i get new cables that plug in like the one on the link. I've got pictures of the welder on the link to.
- Bjorn - Saturday, 04/02/05 17:40:25 EST

PHP-BB : To: Guru I agree with you 100% Just suggestion, Why fix it if it aint broke :) I have had Major Issues with My Sql But Ive also found pretty simplistic to use as opposed to difficult.
Fabian - Saturday, 04/02/05 19:44:42 EST

Ward's Welder: That looks exactly like the insides of my old Century welder, Bjorn. Those cable ends were a semi-proprietary tapered end that I couldn't find any readily available replacements for, when I needed to make us some longer leads for mine. The plugs were swaged onto the ends of the factory leads, so I couldn't reuse them very well.

What I did was to get some knockoffs of the Tweco 1MBP connectors and dress them to a slight taper using the belt grinder. They work just fine. You can get them cheaply enough either locally or through the link I posted. The stock cables were #4 by 12 feet, but I'm using #2 by about 40 feet on mine and it seems fine. Since I was increasing the length, I upped the gauge to the #2 to make sure I didn't have too much loss.

The current limiter (damper) plate looks okay except for the obvious where it needs to be repaired with some epoxy and fiberglass. My Century came with some foam rubber covers on the handles, but you could fake that with some small closed-cell pipe insulation - the size for 1/2" cpc hot water pipe should just about fit.

Make sure the fan works okay and youshould have a perfectly decent welder. I've used mine pretty mercilessly for over twenty years with no problems.

vicopper - Saturday, 04/02/05 22:09:25 EST

Ward's welder: Sorry, forgot to post the link:
vicopper - Saturday, 04/02/05 22:10:35 EST

by the: glow of the fire's heart.........i caress the billet with my hammer.....twisting....... folding........ feathery taps........... hardy blows.......... in the end ive turned outside and back in again...... who said a blade doesnt have a soul............................................ awesome day in the shop........
blacklionforge - Saturday, 04/02/05 22:21:53 EST

Ward's Welder: I have an old Craftsman welder, and the cable ends were missing too. I turned some new brass plugs and used some small diameter heater hose stuffed over the end of the plug. The rubber extends past the brass a couple of inches to act as a strain relief for the cable. That was 30 years ago, and it is still holding together.

The rubber will slide back a bit if I don't use a solid grip when I pull the plug out. A bit of glue would fix that, but have not got around to it. "Shoe Goo" or "Automotive Goop" is excellent for that sort of stuff.
Don Sinclaire - Saturday, 04/02/05 23:27:09 EST

Welder cable ends: Forney machines used a similar tapered brass plug. Forney sold replacement plugs and all sorts of welding suplies & grinding wheels through farm stores & hardware stores. I didn't know that when I had to replace the cables on My machine, so I used a clamp that is for ataching #4 ground wires to a rod driven in the ground. These clamps are two brass halves with paralell groves in them with a clamp bolt between the groves. I put the swaged part of the plug in one set of groves and wraped brass shim around the cable strands and clamped it in the other set of groves, then wraped the whole thing in friction tape. Using #2 cable is a good idea, as is making them longer.I think I have 15' of #2 on one & 20' of #1 on the other, that is what was at hand at the time.
Dave Boyer - Sunday, 04/03/05 00:49:34 EST

Ward: Thanks, AS i was wondering what the dc plugs on the bottom of the welder are used for and how. I also noticed in the middle of the welder the words dc carbon arc torch and some amperage requirements for different aplications. what is a carbon arc torch?
- Bjorn - Sunday, 04/03/05 11:18:10 EDT


It's a piece of carbon rod, usually with a copper jacket that is used for cutting. Does the same thing as an Oxy/Acet torch, but cuts a wider kerf, and leaves a bigger mess.
Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/03/05 11:28:55 EDT

Bjorn: A carbon arc torch is just what the name implies. A handpiece holds two carbon rods in a position that has the ends close to each other. One welder lead goes to each rod. When current is turned on, an arc is created between the two ends, allowing it to be used for heating, brazing, etc. I've only ever tried it once and was totally underwhelmed with the process. I'll take an O/A torch any day for heating.
vicopper - Sunday, 04/03/05 11:30:29 EDT

They ( yard birds) used a lot of carbon arc to cut parts out of my boat hull. Was loud and nasty but it seemed to work well.
More impressive was the robotic MIG welder they had to weld in the big holes. Like where they cut out the weapons loading hatch. Took them the better part of the day to get it set up correctly but then it worked by itself till it was finished. Kinda freaky. But also cool.
But that first dive was full of pucker power, as you never really know....
Ralph - Sunday, 04/03/05 13:07:46 EDT


You forgot to tell them that boat means submarine in your vocabulary. (grin)
Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/03/05 13:23:54 EDT

Ward's Welder:
The Different welder manufacturers all used different proprietary plugs. These look similar to my Miller which uses a striaght pin about 2" long. My Air-co HAD twist lock ends when I bought it. I converted it to Miller ends so all my cables worked everywhere.

You can do several things.

1) Remove a plug and take to a GOOD welding supplier and ask if they know what it fits or have replacements.

2) Convert all the plugs to whatever common parts your local supplier has (both in the machine and cable ends). If you need new cables they will already have the ends to fit.

3) Convert to stud and nut connections like thousands of welders use. The studs and cable ends will be available from any welding supplier.

One problem I have had with the plug in connections is that they are easy to break. People step or trip on the cables and the long plugs have a lot of leverage. The advantage of studs is the cables hang down. The dissadvantage is they require a minute with a wrench to remove or change the cables. In my later years I would now go for the more dependable easier to maintain studs.

As VIc noted the carbon arc is kind of scary and VERY VERY bright. It is what is used in search lights to produce the light. They were sold as a substitute for Oxy-acetylene equipment back when it was rare. It was a selling point, "heat, solder. braze and weld". . . but it IS a miserable process.
- guru - Sunday, 04/03/05 13:34:53 EDT

Air Arc: When I was younger, the steel company that I worked at received 11 semi loads of hoppers from an air scrubber system made out of 1/4 inch steel, about 10 feet in diameter and 12 feet long. The supplier of said hoppers hadn't full pen welded them as called for, so we received the job of air arcing them out and rewelding. Since we didn't have time with our current work load, the deal was that whoever wanted to work on them could clock in after hours and work as many hours as they wanted. I was a pretty good welder, but wasn't certified, so it was my job to air arc out the welds. If memory serves me, the air arc was a modified stinger that held the copper coated carbon, with an air supply and trigger, so that when the arc was gouging out the weld, the air would blow the molten metal away. It was in fact very loud, and also the source of a permanent scar on my left foot where a puddle of the metal burned through the stitching of my work shoe.
- Loren T - Sunday, 04/03/05 14:44:32 EDT

At the old boiler shop I used to work at, air arc was used all the time to do the same job you describe, that is gouge out bad welds. As a ASME weld for a boiler is full penetration, a 6" shell on a drum would have a weld that was 6" deep, and was angled back at 55 degrees. Once the weld was made, every bit of the weld was X-rayed. Any defects were required to be removed. As this required a tremendous amount of metal removal, air arc gouging was used. As I recall, a bunch of the old motor generator Lincohns were ganged up to deliver something like a 1000 amps, and the air line was a 3/4" pipe size. Made more noise than one would believe. I could hear it everywhere on the almost 50 acre compound. They had to put a 1/4" plate splatter shield to allow the rest of the shop to work without getting burn't. Within 50' or so it was so noisey that it was hard to concentrate!
ptree - Sunday, 04/03/05 15:19:22 EDT

boats....: PPW I figure that you have done a good job of letting everyone know about my bubbleheadedness.....(g)
Ralph - Sunday, 04/03/05 15:32:47 EDT

air arc: I just did a job this morning with one I had to cut the side out of an air scrubber without cutting the tubes inside noisy but efective
TravisC - Sunday, 04/03/05 15:34:52 EDT

ptree, try dealing with it in a submarine...... Especially when they were gouging about 10 feet away. Ear plugs and ear muffs were only minimally effective......
Ralph - Sunday, 04/03/05 15:34:57 EDT

you might enjoy this
My wife found an old labor agreement for Union Camp in Franklin, VA for 7/1/71 this is the pay rate.Blacksmith,Carpenter,Carpenter saw filer electricion basicly any type of maintenance clas A $4.830 to 5.130 at the time this was one of the highest paying jobs in the county
TravisC - Sunday, 04/03/05 15:55:08 EDT

Air Arc / Carbon Arc:
These are two significantly different things.

The carbon arc has two carbon eledtrodes and both leads go to the "torch". An arc is struck that jumps between the two carbons with very slowly burns them away. Every now and then you must readjust the gap. The heat is the radiant heat from the arc without contact to the base metal being heated.

Air arc is similar to an oxygen lance. However, the air arc uses and electric arc and a consumable air pipe using compressed air to blow out the melted metal. An oxygen lance is made of an iron pipe which is ignited with a torch with the aid of the pure oxygen supplied through the consumable pipe. An oxygen lance will cut cast iron, steel and even rock! The burning pipe provides the preheat. . .
- guru - Sunday, 04/03/05 18:27:05 EDT

Travis, In 1971 I worked in a service station for $1.25/hr. When I ran one in 1973 the minimum wage was up to $1.50/hr. which is what we paid. I made a little more as owner/manager. At that time you could pay rent and afford a used car on minimum wage. So $5/hr WAS good money in 1971. You could work, have a new truck and your wife stay home to take care of the kids. By 1975 I was earning $10-15/hr working on sports cars and I had a lawyer customer tell me I was earning more than he was. . .

On minimum wage today you are lucky to share an apartment with someone else in a slum and an automobile is out of the question. With inflation that 1971 $5/hr is like making $25-$35/hr today.

Where we have REALLY lost ground is where construction workers (welder, carpenters, fitters) were earning $20-$25/hr. by the late 1970's and do not make that much more today. When you looking at housing costs today, its not the labor but the profit on the job that has driven up prices.

Inflation and the cost of living make it very difficult to make comparisons. You hear of these terribly low wages in some countries but if you investigate, their $2-$4/hr. may provide them with a life style that costs $20/hr. in the US.

On the other hand, when the wages get down to pennies an hour ANYWHERE it really IS a slave wage.
- guru - Sunday, 04/03/05 18:49:07 EDT

Gru you're right the same jobs at Franklin people tel me are around 17 to18 per hour now .and machine opperators are around 28 whats wrong with this picture. on the lighter side I had'nt ever seen a listing for Blacksmith's wages
TravisC - Sunday, 04/03/05 19:26:14 EDT

Oink!: I saved some bacon drippings and tried that as a hand cleaner. That stuff rocks! Waaaay better than Crisco (which did a decent job).
adam - Sunday, 04/03/05 19:53:15 EDT

WAGES: WAGES in the early 70s-- Anybody making $4500. to $5000. had a decent job. It was almost unheard of for anybody to get $5.00+ dollars and hour. That equates out $10,000.+ a year with two weeks vacation.
I bought a '71'1/2 ton chev-- four/wheel drive for $3,300.00 that included tax/tag and title.
We built a 2500 square foot house in 72. Three br/2 baths/ two car garage. with a huge custom/rock fireplace, 1/4" Walnut paneling. The cost including closing, was $35,500.00. There houses like this now costing close to $300,000.00. The only thing in line with the late 60s and early 70s is the rate of interest of the banks, loaning the money for these houses.BOG

- sandpile - Sunday, 04/03/05 19:56:35 EDT

in 76 I got a job running a lathe machining parts for Franklin loggers at$4 and thought I was rich
TravisC - Sunday, 04/03/05 20:32:40 EDT

wages....: In the early 70's I was making about 10 bucks an hour bagging groceries at teh COmmisary on base. Plus I was making about 3 or so dollars an hour babysitting. Was I worht it, yes. AS I made sure that I provided the best service I could possibly do. No new customers as it was all repeat business.
Ralph - Sunday, 04/03/05 23:22:25 EDT

Wages, misc.: Average starting wage for the metallurgy class of 1974 from Carnegie Mellon University was $925 a month - that number has stuck in my mind beacause I missed it by $10, BOG - settled for $915 a month.

- Gavainh - Sunday, 04/03/05 23:28:49 EDT

Carbon Arc : would is be wize to get a carbon arc torch for an old ward welder?

and can I convert the conestions from store bought cables to plugs shown on the link? and what are Tweco 1MBP, or how could I make plugs?
- Bjorn - Sunday, 04/03/05 23:30:10 EDT

Bjorn: The receptacles on the welder will accept the Tweco™ plugs if you sand or file the plugs down a bit to taper them slightly. They are split longitudinally so they have a bit of flex to them, making them adjust to the socket. Mine have been that way for years now and work fine.

Tweco™ is a brand name. The 1MBP is the smallest plug they make for welding cable. It will comfortably fit a #3 or #4, but #2 cable is a tight fit in it. But it will fit. They use a set-screw arrangement to hold the cable in the plug.

If you look at that website, you'll find everythin gyou need to make up cables any length you want, with an assortment of electrode holders, ground clamps, etc.

I would leave the connections in the box as they are and make up the cable with the modified Tweco plugs, rather than use bolt lugs as Jock suggested. That machine has no provision for changing polarity, other than switching the plugs in the DC sockets. Having to unbolt lugs would make that a pain, so you might be discouraged from using the correct polarity. Just my opinion, others may differ.

Getting a carbon arc torch would be a waste of money, time and effort. Basically, they are a pain in the nether regions compared to a real O/A torch. Save your money to get a torch.
vicopper - Monday, 04/04/05 00:05:57 EDT

respect: someone in the gurus advise reminded me a an old southern superstition that I want to share.

Nailing a penny to the smith.

Now long ago the act of putting a penny on the floor of a blacksmiths shop was either to pay for waching the smith working or to give some money to his apprentices who worked without much pay. In my home town( Rockhill,South Carolina,deep swamp country) you can find a few smithys that have a penny nailed to either the anvil stand or the floor next to it. As a boy it was explaned to me this was for a tool that was fixed for free or if a smith had allowed another smith to borrow a tool. Since back then honor demanded payment and chiveraly refused it ,one would nail a penny or other coin to the floor by the anvil. This way it could not be spent but payment was given. How it became good luck I don't know, but it was a symbol of a good and honorable smith.
- Timex - Monday, 04/04/05 01:33:00 EDT

Wages in the 70's: Wow I surrounded by the Original Blacksmiths :) I wasent even Born yet. My Old man was my age in the 70's in a little place called Vietnam. Oddly enough at the age of 20 I was Overseas in a Combatzone. Same age he was deployed for the second time anyways :) .
Fabian - Monday, 04/04/05 01:47:42 EDT

Carbon torch-- I had one before I had an O/A torch, & I used it a lot. They are not good for welding or brazing because the arc is a big blob of awesome heat, however they work well for hot bending, & putting the carbons on each side of a rusted nut will get the nut red hot without putting a lot of heat on the surounding area [no arcing, just 90 amps going from the carbons through the nut]The cables on mine have long since petrified, & Ihave an O/A torch, so I havn't fixed it. I wouldn't spend much money for one, but if it comes Your way free or cheap, grab it.
Dave Boyer - Monday, 04/04/05 02:07:59 EDT

Wages: I have my Dad's tax papers from WW2. He was a Maintenance mechanic/set up man/foreman at Northern Engineering in Milwaukee,WI.

Year Wages Taxes
1942 3031 128
1943 2851 227
1944 3887 414
1945 5747 52

Also, according to his Selective service waiver, for working in the defense industry, he was responsible for 38 workers and worked an average of 60 hours a week.
You know, my old man was the dumbest s.o.b. I ever knew. It was absolutely how much he had learned by the time I was 21.
- Loren T - Monday, 04/04/05 03:53:12 EDT

I still use mine, mainly because I don't have O/A (or O/P) yet. One other problem I had was judging how hot something was for bending. You need a welding mask because of the intense light, but the lenses don't let you know when something is red. Sometimes (more times than I wanted :-) the heat melted the piece I was trying to bend. So I got one of those
- Marc - Monday, 04/04/05 09:42:30 EDT

Carbon Arc Torch: The above was about a carbon arc torch. Don't know why the subject didn't make it.
- Marc - Monday, 04/04/05 09:47:42 EDT

Carbon Arc Torch: And I just noticed it cut off most of what I wrote. Huh?

Anyway - So I got one of those "MIG-IT" welding shields and clamped it to the torch. That's working pretty well.

A couple other things about the torch. It totally ruins any radio reception in the shop, the house, and, for all I know, the next town over. But even if the reception were fine, the thing is loud. Real loud. It also works much better on AC. I've got a DC inverter now and it wears down one carbon faster than the other.

But I spent maybe $20 for it off of eBay and got a lifetime supply of carbons there for cheap, too. So it's hard to justify the $300 for an oxy-fuel setup right now.
- Marc - Monday, 04/04/05 09:52:52 EDT

Non-Sinful Wages (Then and Now): According to the ever useful Inflation Calculator, $4.85 in 1972 is now equivalent to $22.98, and $5.12 would now be equivalent to $24.40. Sounds pretty decent to me!

For pocket money I used to deliver a free newspaper (The Montgomery County Advertiser) back in the '60s for a penny each; a couple of miles and 214 papers earned me $2.14 each Wednesday, plus 1/2 cent for each supplement. I kept this up until I was in college, so my last summer was 1968. Hmmm, $11.84 in today's dollars- That's about $5 an hour plus exercise and meeting fascinating canines along the way!

Ah, the good old days!
The Ever Useful Inflation Calculator!
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 04/04/05 10:34:49 EDT

1080 shipping: ive posted before about shipping up to 60lbs at a time...... well thats now changed i'll only ship 50lbs in a box at a time........ seems that even with good packing the boxes wont hold up----------- thank you all...........
blacklionforge - Monday, 04/04/05 11:23:30 EDT

Took the forge over to NM Tech's "Spring Fling" yesterday and spent the afternoon getting a nice exposure to wind and sun---*I* was smart enough to wear my old denim jacket over my tshirt; lots of the techies learned about radiation burns when the wind is just cool enough that you don't notice the sun...

I was using charrcoal due to smoke reasons and burned a 10' back up in about 3 hours of light duty smithing---doing more talking than smithing...

Thomas P - Monday, 04/04/05 11:58:02 EDT

Where the problem is that Atli's official wage numbers are the same as my guess (lucky me) but the actual buying power in some areas is a lot less. Housing costs are horrible. And I remember when I go go out on a date for $5 that included a movie, meal at a pizza place AND gas for the car (at 30c/gallon). Today that same evening would cost closer to $50 and there would be less fuel available.

In 1973 gasoline cost 32 cents gallon. Its up 6 X.
In 1973 a movie cost $1: They are up 7 X at the same theaters.
In 1970 a Jaguar XKE cost $4,200.
In 1973 a Dodge 3/4 ton PU stripped cost $3,900.
Housing 10 X in 30 years.

Wages have gone up 4 to 5 X and major cost items have gone up 7 to 10 X. The heck with what the GAO and the Fed says inflation has been. . WE know the real numbers.

About the only place that inflation is not out of line with wages is food. Most food prices have not drasticaly changed in years (if you avoid certain high price items like junkfood). Of course this means that farmers are making much less than they did a generation ago.

When I tell folks they have to have a shop rate of $100/hour they think I am crazy. But when 1/4 of this is NET income and you look at todays costs. . . You have to charge that much to stay in business.

As bad as this seems it is worse in many other countries. In Central America most places will accept US dollars because their local currency is devaluing at such a rate that it is difficult to keep prices adjusted. In Costa Rica the Colone is losing value against the dollar at about 7%/year.

In my Spanish class I recently learned a math lesson from high inflation countries. Prices never use decimals because the smallest unit is ONE (Peso, Colone . . .). In Costa Rica they round to the nearest 5 Colones and that is the smallest demoniation. 5 Colones is aproximatly 1 cent. By next spring it will be exactly that when 500 Colones equal $1. The currency in Chile is roughly the same. If you travel in these places you need to learn to handle the big numbers. . 14,500 for a tank of gas. . . And the goofy US made pumps have 3 decimal places to REALLY screw with your mined so you see 14,500.000 . . unrounded.

In the 1950's 20 Colones = $1. Where we have seen 15X inflation in that time they have seen 25 X against the US dollar. That is 375X against US goods. So folks keep money in realestate and US dollar accounts. . .

However, there is now a move to Euro accounts because of its strength against the dollar.

As they say, "It is all relative".
- guru - Monday, 04/04/05 14:03:47 EDT

welding schtuff: Marc, for what it's worth catagory: the electrode that burns faster than the other should be of bigger diameter. This is supposed to balance the consumption rate to match the smaller rod.

Bjorn, a quick fix for the cable plugs; solid brass or copper that fits snuggly into the female half of plug on welding machine. Hose clamp the welding cable to the brass/copper. Insulate with rubber hose slid over splice. Tape will not be heavy enough. Solid brass/copper that is a little too large can be lightly filed till it fits.

Copper pipe that fits the female connection. Insert welding cable into one end of pipe and swage closed onto cable. Insulate!

The DC plugs are for Direct Current. Just like a car battery it has a negative and a positive. This allows the use of different welding rods. Your machine only has 140 amps at maximum. It has a higher amperage on Alternating Current (AC).
- Rutterbush - Monday, 04/04/05 14:16:27 EDT

Bjorn: Listen to what Herr Rutterbush says; he's a welding instructor during the day. And some nights, too. (grin)
vicopper - Monday, 04/04/05 14:20:41 EDT

Inflation: You cant simply compare the cost of a PU truck across 30 - 50 years. In that time vehicles have changed a LOT. There's a lot of engineering in a modern PU truck that wasnt there in '50 or '70. Similarly with movies, their *technical* standards have improved a lot.
adam - Monday, 04/04/05 15:21:13 EDT

MOD-TECH: ADAM: You are right there is a lot of diff. between then and now. In 1985, my son trashed an engine in an older pick-up. He pulled the truck up on the slab in front of the shop, proceeded R/Replace the engine. He and a friend had it the pick-up and running in less than twelve hours working time. For total outlay of cash, in the neighborhood of $1,100.00. If that had been a now-a-days engine. It would have taken a chev-mechanic to do the job and it would be $4,500.00 or more. These newer rigs are not as dependable or nearly as easy to work on. You sure as heck better not lean on a fender or hit a bird with the grill. My grand-kids playing tag,on foot, ran into one in the driveway and bent the door of the pick-up. These new trucks suck.BOG. Used to be, you had a decent chance in a hard hitting wreck. Now both rigs are totally destroyed.

- sandpile - Monday, 04/04/05 15:53:18 EDT

Well, the old engines had to be easier to work on---I remember folks bragging about getting 100,000 miles on the same engine---now sometimes I don't even buy a used car till it has over 100,000 miles and expect them to go to 200,000 miles.

Generally I buy used and don't get rid of a vehicle till the "re-sale" value can be approximated by the scrap price...

I had a '68 Ford Phone Company van in the early '80's once that was rear ended during an ice storm in OKC. The lady whose Toy pickup hit me couldn't move it cause the fender was bent onto her front tire. I looked it over and put my foot on the wheel and grabbed the fender and pulled it back a bit further than it had started at. My old van had a small scratch and a dent by the back door. I climbed in the back and poped the dent out with one kick of my steel toed boots---boy I sure miss those boots

I believe Sandpile likes the big heavy duty trucks cause he does most of his meat shopping with his front bumper...dang I was going to go to a BBQ at his place this spring---well it won't be the first time a friend offered me that I accepted...

Thomas P - Monday, 04/04/05 17:06:30 EDT

A smithing Tale: about a half a decade or so ago I was doing a smithing demo at a local college and a big tall galloot of a guy walks up and says he wants to learn to smith so's we put a hammer in his hand and he goes wild at the anvil and now has a bigger triphammer than I do. And his name was Patrick

Well I move out west and I meet a student from the local college and he says he wants to learn to smith so's I puts a hammer in his hand and *he* goes wild at the anvil and I think he will be a fine smith before he graduates and *his* name is *Patrick*....Sychronicity strikes again!

I'm just preparing for the day an old fellow comes up and says he wants to learn how to smith and I find out that my blower won't crank cause *his* name is Patrick and the worm gear has been driven out...

Thomas P - Monday, 04/04/05 17:19:27 EDT

trucks/cars new vs old: I am thinking that I would much rather have a trashed truck over a trashed me. Vehicles are not designed like tank now days. Sometimes this is good and sometimes not.
Of course if I can ever afford and justify a new to me pickup. My requirement is either older than 1975. Or a desiel. Both for Dept of Air Qyaulity reasons. Government is a drag at times.
Secondary reason is htat while older engines and drive trains may not be as effient as newer ones, I can still work on them. sually. Of course my '74 Dodge Dart has a few issues I will not address(wiring) as it is too complex for my pea-brain.
Ralph - Monday, 04/04/05 17:26:29 EDT

My first car was a 1964 Plymouth Belvedere. Steel outside AND inside, including the dashboard. The father of a friend of my brother had been a highway patrolman in the 1950s and 60s, and said when he saw it he said "Yep, they don't make 'em like that anymore (this was 1984), back then you could just hose the blood off the dash after a wreck and sell the car again." My dad then made me put a shoulder-harness seat belt in it before I could drive it...
Alan-L - Monday, 04/04/05 19:07:33 EDT

Nostalgia for What?: I have owned a whole lotta cars in my life, going back to a 49 Reo schoolbus, a bunch of american iron from the 50's 60's and 70's, and imports from all over the world.
I spent plenty of time lying in gutters fixing those "easy to work on" american cars and trucks, and I gotta tell you, I dont miss it one bit. Yeah, the engine compartment on my 64 GMC 1 ton was big enough to sleep in- I know, because I spent days in there. Those big old american engines were easy to work on, sure, but the only reason we know is cause they broke so damn much.
I have done about everything you could do to an american car or truck- cause everything broke. I dont miss it at all- my last japanese truck went 160,000 miles before I sold it- with no engine work needed- no points, no distributor to buy new caps for, no timing needed, nothing but the occasional oil change and a couple of sets of plugs. No new starters every 40,000 miles, no generator rebuilds, no brake jobs, no new muffler, NOTHING BROKE! I drove that thing hard for 13 years, overloaded it like crazy, and it still would go 80mph and get 24 mpg when I sold it.
Nope, I dont miss anything about all those 50's and 60's trucks I used to own, except how pretty they looked.
My last few japanese vehicles, and my new Ford truck, run better, break less, and get better mileage than all 30 or so of the old american classics I have owned. Dont even get me started on that mid 60's GMC van we used to have, affectionately titled "the old mindf@#$er" because when conditions were the worst, it wouldnt start.
Cars are a lot better now than they used to be, and I, for one, aint looking back. I probably still have grease under my nails, and smell like gasoline, from that 62 falcon wagon I used to drive. Well, when it ran. Mostly, I fixed it.
ries - Monday, 04/04/05 20:19:42 EDT

I'm with you. I've onwed and worked on everything from my first a 52 plymouth. I've had front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, rear engine(3 brands!)
I like the new cars! I don't know how to work on the new ones much cause I never get the chance. I do still do brakes, and the odd small thing like wiper blades. Pretty much everything else lasts, and I too trade in to the scrap yard. I have a heavy 3/4 ton 72 chevy pick up. Its a love/hate thing, as I was given the thing by my father in law, and it still only has 82,000 miles, but it needs constant attention compared to everything else i own. But, it will pull near anything I hook to it and carry near anything i get in it. Ask Pawpaw about the platens i hauled home in it!
ptree - Monday, 04/04/05 21:33:54 EDT


PTree's truck was WAY overloaded!
Paw Paw - Monday, 04/04/05 22:46:03 EDT

When somebody tells You He can take the engine out of His old VW bug in under 45 minutes, You know He has had way too much practice. It is a good thing modern vehicles are more reliable, because they are WAY more complicated to fix. I want a car that is simple enough to fix Myself, but reliable enough that I don't have too.
Dave Boyer - Monday, 04/04/05 23:35:12 EDT

Wrenching on the car: At my age, I get disturbed if I can't see the ground when I lift the hood.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/05/05 00:18:08 EDT

John Paul II: My condolences to my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters on the loss of your Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. May you find comfort and peace in the knowledge that he has attained his final reward, and that his suffering is over. His goodness and his greatness transcended any and all denominational boundaries, and he was greatly loved by all who took the time to watch and listen to him, and that includes this old Protestant Freemason. Peace be with you. 3dogs
3dogs - Tuesday, 04/05/05 01:55:12 EDT

Frank--Better not lift the hood on anything made in the last 20 years.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 04/05/05 01:59:36 EDT

Old Trucks & Inflation: Trucks:

After a mere 20 years, my wif (and Chief Financial Officer) wouldn't let me put any more money into repairing my '84 Ford F-150. Outside of the differential, electrical system, body rust, six cracks in the windshield and the heater core’s occasional leak and the overheating problem (I did get a new thermostat, but that didn't fix it, alas), it was in excellent shape and still got 11 mpg.

Due to the wif's good experiences with her Toyotas, and some research in Consumer Reports, we went with a Toyota Tundra this time.

So one of my friends asked me: "Which do you like better, the Ford or the Toyota?"

"I'm not sure yet;" I responded, "ask me in 20 years."

Inflation Calculation:

The site I quoted above is a general, fuzzy guideline for inflationary trends. As Jock pointed out, there is wide variation when you're dealing with specific aspects of this subject; and all averages change with any new data. Still, it does give you a feel for how the values of money change, back to about 1800.

Where you really get lost is when you try to come up with modern equivalents for medieval prices, dealing with both money and commodities- how many loves of bread equals a cow equals a groat or how many fathings in the rent would buy how much bread? Plus weather, location and other external forces could cause wild swings in value, just like it does these days. "Value" is a very malleable concept.

Meanwhile, in the 21st century, I have been told by the accountants and the Office of Management and Budget that I should calculate all of my leases out at a 1.5% inflation rate to the end of the terms and options. This includes a land lease out past A.D. 2090.

I'm sure that no political considerations were involved in selecting the inflation rate; right? (…and this is a non-partisan comment, since both parties do tend to spin things; sometimes more, sometimes less.)

I love this town, there's always so much to amuse me.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 04/05/05 08:25:24 EDT
- Tuesday, 04/05/05 08:36:16 EDT

Forging Hammers 400# & 50#: These hammer are good shape but if any one is willing to make a reasonable offer I will give it some thought.
400#-$2500.00 obo or 50#-$3000.00 US funds
- Stephen Sokoloski - Tuesday, 04/05/05 08:56:29 EDT

Stephen *WHERE* and what brand(s).

Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/05/05 11:18:52 EDT

Pricing?: I have an interesting problem.. I am new to selling my products, since I have never sold any. I allways have given them away. Someone asked how much I would sell one this one for. But I am unsure what I should charge.. I am linking a picture, any help would be useful!

Also the knife is aprox 6.5 - 7 inches overall length..

7" Skinner
Ben House - Tuesday, 04/05/05 11:59:54 EDT

Pricing?: I have an interesting problem.. I am new to selling my products, since I have never sold any. I allways have given them away. Someone asked how much I would sell one this one for. But I am unsure what I should charge.. I am linking a picture, any help would be useful!

Also the knife is aprox 6.5 - 7 inches overall length..

7" Skinner
Ben House - Tuesday, 04/05/05 12:01:11 EDT

trucks/cars new vs old:
Fact ONE, If you aren't a professional mechanic with all the fancy electronic toys you can't do ANYTHING on a late model vehical other than change the tires and fill with fuel.

Fact TWO, Even the mechanics with all the toys often can't figure out what is wrong with late models and at that point you may have a $10,000 junker (been there).

So, if you work on your own then you need something no later than the 1970's which is getting pretty old. It was a SAD SAD day recently when my 1972 3/4T Dodge PU went to the Chinese melting pot. . . If I could have afforded it this truck was infinitely maintainable. . and got the 11 MPG like Atli's. Mid 70's Dodges had more steel in them and cost more than Fords or Chevy's. When my Dodge truck was new it was a striped down model (no radio, AC, PS). It cost the same as a new 4WD Ford or Chevy with the works that year. . The difference is that when you see one of those Fords or Chevys today the beds and fenders are completely rusted out. . . A few mills of steel makes a big difference.

I still have a 1979 Ford F-600 flatbed that desperately needs to get worked on. It starts and runs great and will haul 5 tons easily if need be. An exhust leak keeps it from being inspected and I think the brake booster needs replacing because every now and then the brake fluid just dissapears and there are no signs of leaks. . .

But I sure enjoy the quiet dependability of my late (only 10 year old) Dodge min-van. It is the first air-bag model I've owned and this scares me a little. . . I religiously wear my seat belts and the thought of an explosive restraint device (for all of you that don't wear seat belts) that will total the vehical if they go off bothers me no end.

And like Thomas I buy +100,000 vehicals today and expect to double that milage. When I am done with a vehical, it is DONE.

Crushability is a safety thing. . sure tears up vehicals but it is nice to walk away from crashes that 30 years ago were instant death.
- guru - Tuesday, 04/05/05 12:04:53 EDT

Pricing Blades:

In the knife trade there is a TON of competition. It includes thousands of North American bladesmiths that make beautiful blades including high are Damascus. There is also freighter loads of factory and hand made blades inported from Pakistan, China and India. Even the worse junk is fairly well finished and assembled.

This means that there is little or no market for work that doesn't meet a faily high standard of quality. Even the guys working out of primitive pit forges in open air shops with few tools produce finished blades of decent quality. They descale, grind and finish, use hardwood or bone grips with brass furniture, seal with epoxy or lacquer.

Look at what other folks are doing to get a feel for what your work will bring on the market.

When pricing work you need to first consider your costs and what you NEED. Today I tell folks in full time smithing businesses that they need to have a $100/hr shop rate or close to it or they are not earning a living. Charge half that and you make 0. Hobbiests can get away with less but still must be competetive.

How do you compete? First you must make a high quality product that demands a higher price. THEN you have to produce that quality product efficiently. This requires an investment in the right shop equipment and practicing of skills. A good bladesmith might take a day or more to make a good finished blade but he can usualy make more than one at the same time. A small batch may take no longer than a single piece.

The problem in this market today is that there are hobbiests that turn out BEAUTIFUL work and sell it for much less than it costs to make. They are not making a living. Custom blades that should sell for hundreds are selling at 1/4 cost.

SO, first you have to know what your work will bring on the market using others work as examples. THEN you need to learn to make it at that price AND return a profit. If your work is not first class and efficiently made then it may not be marketable at any price.
- guru - Tuesday, 04/05/05 12:33:05 EDT

air bags: Air bags save lives.
Seat belts save lives.
Aware and awake drivers save lives.
Crumple zones disapate energy, saves lives.

In 32 years of life I've been in 6 wrecks( Big ones ). out of all of them I was hit or was forced off the road. Only one time have I been hurt. No seat belt, cost me a broke leg and 2 surgries to repair my left knee. All this cause of a quick run for "smoke's n coke's" and a " I don't need to wear my seat belt, Cause I'm tuff" mentatlity
- Timex - Tuesday, 04/05/05 12:39:58 EDT

Knives and Values: From a reenactment viewpoint, that looks more like a "swappin' knife" than a "selling knife." I barter with other folks who have more talent in medieval clothing or leatherwork. Should be useful in a Buckskinning context as a good workaday knife; but probably won't return the hours you put into it if you just try to sell it.

Making knives is fun; developing markets and customers is work.

(Heavy sigh!)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 04/05/05 13:32:12 EDT

Seat Belts: I started wearing them when I was driving sports cars. It helps when rounding corners at hub cap popping speed on 2 wheels to stay in your seat. . I had a junky old Porche 914 for a while and it had GREAT double shoulder belts of near racing grade. You get used to that secure feeling and want them all the time.

I put seat belts in my 1950 Chevy truck. . Helped keep you from sliding on the bench seat. Added them to other old cars. .

When we had children they were in Safety Seats then belts. That is when we became religious about seat belts. You can't teach the kids to do right without doing the same.

What I DO NOT like is inertia reels. Yeah, they are convienient and one size fits all. But they DO NOT give you that sense of security the a real adjustable belt gives. And in fact the inertia reels DO fail and don't work in many roll over situations (same for air bags).

SO. . without that secure feeling you don't feel the necessity of the belt. Yeah, the logic of the automotive people was that the less intrusive they are the more people would wear them. . bad logic. When I get into a vehical like a public or school bus that does not have seat belts I feel like I am going to fall off the seat and I reach for the . . non-existent belts. . .

Even in third world countries they now require seat belts!
- guru - Tuesday, 04/05/05 14:05:16 EDT

Pricing?: Thanks ya'll! I didn't realize so many people would reply this fast..

thanks for your VERY good advice..

Ben House - Tuesday, 04/05/05 14:10:55 EDT

Ben, I think you might get better info over at one of the neo-tribal forums (I hang out at Primal Fires) where this sort of blade is the common type---very different market than the ones that go up against machine made versions.

My father was big on seat belts---had them installed on cars before they were mandatory. I don't feel "right" without wearing one so much so that I have dug out belts from cars where they have been burried for *years*.

When I was in Indonesia and had a driver for my car he found it very funny that I wanted to sit up front---I told hit was because i wanted to see more; but it was really because there were seatbelts up front! Never bothered me in Rome, Italy. When I was there in a Taxi I figured I was living on borrowed time anyway...there are no athiests in Rome's taxii!

Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/05/05 14:57:17 EDT

Not long ago in our area there was a head on collision well in excess of 100mph. The engine from one vehicle ended up in the passenger seat of the other. The airbags detonated and both drivers walked away. Two years ago I was rear ended by a small sedan. The front of the vehicle that hit me looked like it had been crushed in the scrap yard. But the airbag had detonated. The driver got out without a mark on her and screamed abuse at me until the emergency vehicles arrived.

Modern vehicles are flimsy complicated things compared to 70's models. The power train is complex that very few people understand it completely (perhaps no one person does). I hate the fact that I cant work on them anymore. Yet they are safer, use less fuel, pollute less, more comfortable and more fun to drive. Also quite a bit more expensive.
adam - Tuesday, 04/05/05 15:02:03 EDT

Adam, it seemed to me I had a lot more fun driving about 16 years ago than I do now---now it seems like work even with a gussied up vehicle...

Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/05/05 16:12:35 EDT

Kids and seat belts.: My wife once told the kids (age4 and 2) that they needed seatbelts so they would not get banged and hurt.
About 10 years later my daughter and son were visible upset as I was driving them to some event. Finally they said your belt! We do not want you to get banged..... Odd thing is I had just forgotten to buckle up as I was in a hurry.
Point is telling youngsters is important but it is a lasting lesson if they see Mom& Dad doing it as well.
Ralph - Tuesday, 04/05/05 17:06:50 EDT

Kids and seat belts: Ralph around here seat belt use is required by law. I went through the same thing the kids wouldn't let me go with out mine. One thing that statistics now show it that children until approximately age 8 should also be in an approved booster seat. Even though they are too big for car seat that you buckle in, they are too small for the adult seat belts, the booster seat lifts them up so the seat belts can better protect them.
- Daryl - Tuesday, 04/05/05 18:15:42 EDT

Seat Belts: Dring my formative years, my Dad was the Safety Officer on the Base. Like Thomas' Dad, he insisted on having safety belts in all our vehicles, long before they were required. He said he'd seen too many accidents where folks died unnecessarily. As a rule, the car would not move until everyone had "clicked". When I had kids I instituted the same rule and didn't even realize it until my wife commented on it one day. I guess most folks end up "becoming" their parents in little ways, emulating those examples of youth.
eander4 - Tuesday, 04/05/05 18:43:56 EDT

Dodge Minivan: I bought a 1992 Plymouth Voyager in 1997, with 60,000 miles on it,a 3 liter engine. It now has 257000 on it and the tranny just went out. We had talked about how well we like the vehicle as far as comfort etc. are concerned and decided that when the time came, we would put a new enging and tranny in it. I have already replaced the starter and generator in it, as well as the fuel pump, each one a costly item, but on the whole it doesn't owe me a thing.
- Loren T - Tuesday, 04/05/05 19:29:16 EDT

Loren, I just replaced by 1986 Dodge mini-van with a 1995 model. . . The 86 had many repairs but all were cost effective. However, when the head-liner fell and both engine and transmission were due to be replaced (and you can;t get replacement 86 engines) it was time to up grade. It had around 300K on it. But the nearly 20 years was the major problem. . .
- guru - Tuesday, 04/05/05 20:20:29 EDT

Seat Belts: The WORST thing Detroit did at Congress' behest was when they put interlocks on seat belts so the car wouldn't start and bells and whistles blew until you fastened them. It just made people mad and most ended up permanently fastened and sat appon. . . This was a very sad state of affairs and they eventully had to rewrite the law. I worked in a service station at the time and I KNOW I saw more defeated seat belts than in use.

Forcing people to do what is best for them does not work and is usualy counter productive.
- guru - Tuesday, 04/05/05 20:26:37 EDT

et al,
I Could pull the engine from my old VW in under 45 minutes. Way under, as in best time of 8 minutes. Of course the rear end was torched off to add in that job. It was easier to pull the engine to change plugs ETC up on the bench then to bend over.

I don't have the electronic goodies, but I do brakes, CV joints, exhaust and similar. But no engine controls.
I still have the 72 chevy!
ptree - Tuesday, 04/05/05 20:56:30 EDT

Thank you for the kind comment on the Pope.
ptree - Tuesday, 04/05/05 21:00:43 EDT

seat belts: As a child in the 50s and 60s, I hung out at the airport. I never saw a pilot fly without a seat belt. Most did not wear one in the car. Not cool. My children had to fasten the belt prior to the car moving, and this stuck well till high school, where it was not cool. Peer presure!
I have made sure to never even taste alcohol and drive. I have had a beer out for pizza, and then had the wife drive home.( She almost never drives when I am along.) The kids sure noticed, and asked why. Perfect chance to explain, and lead from the front on that issue.
ptree - Tuesday, 04/05/05 21:04:48 EDT

Pawpaw, My truck was not over loaded! It was full to the limit though! It will carry 2200# or a bit more just fine! At 45mph, for short distances.
ptree - Tuesday, 04/05/05 21:06:11 EDT

Seat Belts: I feel uncomfortable without a seatbelt. I even wear them on the farm road, 'cause you never know when a rabbit or deer or tractor is going to pop out on you and you have to slam on the brakes on a gravel road. ==~~~~~~=== (Funny how you can skid odd ways on gravel and dirt.)

My father had them installed after his '59 Nash Rambler rear-ended a tractor trailer in a no-parking zone one foggy winter night. My mother went flying out the door and was kept from being skinned alive on the pavement by a heavy wool car coat, and the (then unique) all welded construction kept dad from being beheaded. After that, he put them in and made sure we wore them. I've got our kids, including Mandy, buckling up automatically, and it's served them well (although Lisa is now missing her spleen; but outside of that, she was still intact enough to operate on; her friend was driving).

One of the women I almost married always wore a seatbelt; but she started driving a truck for Ma Bell, emptying coin 'phones, and got out of the habit from getting in and out of the truck all the time. One day the truck rolled on a soft median. She's 19 forever.

I had a fellow in the van pool who swore that he was thrown clear and would have died if belted in (of course he said a lot of other dubious things too). Still, I figure it's like Russian Roulette; you can always get unluck and lose; but if you have to play, do you want to play with six chambers loaded and one empty, or six chambers empty and one loaded? Seatbelts won't do much if a cement truck falls off the overpass on you, but for most other situations you come out ahead.

Ye gods, I hated the interlock seatbelt systems; I always buckled-up and they still malfunctioned. One morning it stopped my little Vega dead in the driveway as I was trying to leave for work. I screamed, I yelled, I pulled out my bos'n's knife and marline spike and mangled the wiring under the seat until the alarm shut up and the car started; then put on my seatbelt and calmly drove away.

So, buckle up! It's good for you!

(I'll get off my soapbox now, but I actually feel very strongly about this.)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 04/05/05 23:30:21 EDT

Correction: Ummm, five chambers empty vs. one chamber loaded, unless it's one of those little .22s that's always doing-in idiots who are dumb enough to actually play Russian Roulette and don't realize they chamber seven rounds...
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 04/05/05 23:35:19 EDT

HERO cast blower: I have access to a HERO #35 cast iron blower made by Canedy Otto Mnf Co.

Anybody want it? And of course, what's it worth?

I'm not a Smithy (hence the "What's It Worth" but do have the blower... and would like to let someone who needs one get this one and I can get myself something else I like.
- Colin Paterson - Wednesday, 04/06/05 00:29:22 EDT

Guru -- Glad to hear Your Minivan went 300,000 as My '85 has only about 225,000 on it. It takes a head gasket now & then, and I had to rebuild the carb once& replace the ignition module once.[Of course all the consumable & lesser parts go unmentioned] In '67 My Dad chose a Dodge 3/4 ton "Power Wagon" 4x4 because at that time it was the cheapest. He worked on it for 22 years & 210,000 miles.
Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 04/06/05 00:46:48 EDT

I should hope that you are not a building...... (grin)
Remember that when you are posting stuff to sell or give away or trade etc, it will help if you give a general geographic location.
This is am INternational forum. We have folks from Africa, Europe, Asia, Aust and NZ as well as Canada, USA and central and South America.
Worth all depends on shape it is in where you are and how much someone else feels they need it.
I would not mind having a 2nd blower, but I do not need one so I am only willing to pay small amounts. Also shipping is often a killer. Hence basic location will be usefull.

Good Luck
Ralph - Wednesday, 04/06/05 01:26:11 EDT

Seatbelts: We have always used seat belts. When my son was born the hospital would not let him go home unless there was an approved baby seat for him. When he got older and was able to do things for himslef, my wife was going someplace with him in the back seat and he decided to unbuckle the seat belt and get up. Well he was loose for only a few seconds when the wife turned a corner, not knowing he had gotten loose, well he tumbled across the seat and banged into the door! He learned a lesson that day. He is now 21 years old and he NEVER has been in a car without a seatbelt fassened since!
- Wayne Parris - Wednesday, 04/06/05 08:56:17 EDT

HERO BLOWER address: The blower and myself are in:

Sun River, MONTANA - U.S.A. 59483

Thanks for the heads up! There isn't a crack nor a chip in it. It needs a bushing but I can get one pushed on if that makes it near worthless.....
Colin - Wednesday, 04/06/05 10:08:58 EDT

We found it surprisingly easy to "seat belt train" our kids. They learned that the car didn't move if the seat belts were unfastened. Of course having both parents buckled up was a good indicator that it was a "big kid" thing to do.

My grandfather was almost killed from wearing a seat belt and refused thereafter great fun when he rode with my dad and his mandatory policy...Me I carry a knife in case it get's "jammed" in an inappropriate time...except on planes (now) of course.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/06/05 10:56:02 EDT

Almost killed from wearing his seat belt?
Realisticaly would he have survived if he wasn't wearing it?

When the manditory seatbelt law came in there was a lot of talk about the 1-500 chance that the seat belt will kill them so that was the logic for not wearing one. I would not bet on a horse with those odds. The logic escaped me.

Interesting and timely thread. Last evening I found out what it is like to have the FD use the jaws to dig me out of a wreck.

(Don't panic, was training)
JimG - Wednesday, 04/06/05 11:05:36 EDT

Seatbelts: The US pays a terrible toll in road deaths. Somewhere in excess of 40,000 per year - a casualty rate that is commensurate with fighting a major war. If you are an American, the chances are about 1:10 that you will die in an auto wreck and its nearly a sure thing that someone close to you will die that way.
adam - Wednesday, 04/06/05 11:24:28 EDT

Seat Belt Fobia:
I know several people that have a fobia against wearing seatbelts and being trapped. However there is no logic to it. The majority of fatalities in auto accidents are from ones head striking the dash or windshield OR being thrown from the vehical and then being run over by your own vehical or another.

The whole point of many safety devices is the probibility of it doing good. Those trapped by seat belts, and being injured becase of it, is such a small number that you are more likely to be hit by a meteorite. . (yes it happens and there is a reported number).

My feeling about highway deaths and seatbelts is that the more you drive the shorter your life span. I do not know if life insurance companies consider if you commute to work or not but they should (probably do). I know auto insurance companies do.

I was a daily commuter in a rural area small town environment for many years. There were few daily acidents at that time but I felt the odds creaping up on me. More recently I was working near a medium sized city where the morning radio reported the traffic accidents. EVERY morning there were three or four accidents, at least one serious causing traffic disruptions. There were probably more that did not attract attention. This was EVERY DAY, just in the morning. I do not know what the total number in the rush hour traffic were but I suspect a million or so. Divide that million by eight (AM/PM) and you have 125,000, divide that by working days of the year and your odds of being in one of those accidents in ANY given year is 500:1. Being the unlucky one hospitalized, 2000:1. Not really good odds.

It makes me very happy that I no longer commute daily or drive at peak hours except by accident. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 04/06/05 12:52:41 EDT

Adam, that's a rate for a minor war; for a Major war that can be one battle...

Jim he was trapped in a burning vehicle and was severely burned on one leg because he could not get out. I don't know if not wearing a belt would have been worse; but he was sure!

Me I go for the probabilities. I can't change *your* behavior but I sure can change mine!

The modern shoulder belts don't let you sag into them on a long drive---but you can pick up that coke can that rolled under your feet avoiding livestock on the road!

As we are trying to impress folks and get them to chip in and help pay for this site perhaps it would be nice to try to keep our focus on smithing here.

I'm going to burn a tank of gas going to the SWABA meeting Saturday, going to get high too---I think it's about 7000' IIRC and I will be going a touch further up to get some scrap after the meeting.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/06/05 15:39:46 EDT

Hah! The inertia reel belt in may van is JUST short of letting me roll the window up and down. . UH. . maybe that is because too much belt is already used up. . . rats! ;)

Major/Minor war. . . Its still 40 times our losses in Iraq and 10 times our only terrorist atack (9/11). But the problem is that it is year after year after year. . .

The only solution is public transportation. . some method to take control away from millions of individuals at high speed. Low speed. . fine, crash all you want. But at Interstate speeds if ANYTHING goes wrong you and a lot of other folks are in big trouble. I can remember when multi car pileups only occured on the race track or in fiction. But we have one reported weekly on the local Interstate near Roanoke. They have the same down hill situation approaching Cincinatti from KY and in Ashville, NC. Just the fact that I can name more than one "death alley" shows how bad the problem is. I am sure there are a dozen more.
- guru - Wednesday, 04/06/05 15:57:08 EDT

Little Giant #25 For Sale: "New Style" Little Giant, 25 lb., good condition, no repairs or modifications. Hammer is free turning, dont seem to be loose or wallowed out etc. It is the best of a whole lot that i looked at when purchased (and i looked at a BUNCH).

Comes with new Little Giant motor mount, new LG die keys, New Dayton 1hp 110v motor, and correct size drive pulley.

I can send photos if you are interested. Prefer pick up or i can deliver for a very reasonable fee pending your location.

$1,600 as described above. If it dont sell in a reasonable amount of time i will purchase/install dies and tune. The price then will be $2,000.
Lamey Custom Knives
Lamey - Wednesday, 04/06/05 16:09:41 EDT

Accidents etc.
I am starting to believe that the ablity and quality of drivers is MUCH worse than it used to be.
But perhaps it is because I am getting older....
Ralph - Wednesday, 04/06/05 16:11:37 EDT

RR Collectable N&WRY:
Before putting this item on ebay we are testing the waters here and giving our folks first crack at it.

TOUCHMARK: Large with handle. Letters about 3/8" tall, N&WRY for "Norfolk and Western Rail Yard".

This is from the N&W Roanoke, VA Shops blacksmith shop which has been scraped out. This is the REAL McCoy. It is the only one and a real collectable.

We are asking $700 US or best offer above that amount. Most of the proceeds go to support CSI/anvilfire.

Photos to be available.
- guru - Wednesday, 04/06/05 16:27:13 EDT

Lamey *WHERE* *IS* *IT* *AT*?

Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/06/05 16:33:14 EDT

Lamey hails from Biloxi, MS.
eander4 - Wednesday, 04/06/05 17:51:36 EDT

Assuming the stuff ic co-located it's too far a road trip for me.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/06/05 19:14:04 EDT

Dear All,
I wonder if anyone with an ear to the ground could tell me if there is a consensus concerning Kohlswa anvils? One of the first sites produced by a google search for
- Dan P. - Wednesday, 04/06/05 19:20:18 EDT

huh?: It seems my mesage was truncated; what I wanted to say is that a google search yields either vaguely positive reviews of Kohlswas, or reports of their having cracks, faults or casting flaws, or something. The latter coming from a farrier site (though I'm sure the two things are not related (ha-ha!)).
Any info appreciated. Thanks, Dan.
- Dan P. - Wednesday, 04/06/05 19:24:42 EDT

Rush Hour: Guru,

I've read that the most congested highways around here (the D.C. area) have the lowest injury rates on a per vehicle basis. Apparently most people are on them when you can't go fast enough to wreck too badly. So maybe driving at rush hour isn't so dangerous after all, at least if you don't die from the stress of being stuck in traffic.
- Mike B - Wednesday, 04/06/05 19:45:42 EDT

"Scrap!" SCRAP!?? Hmpf! Why, I'll have you know this stuff is nothing but highest quality materiel just waiting to be reincarnated by your imagination and skill, lots of carefully-selected heavy (and some light)- duty high carbon spring steel, clean, good-condition RR track, spiffy plate, and mucho choice drops, plus hearths, scads of old bikes, huge oak balks (from a SFe RR trestle), and many odds and ends, mostly odds, all picturesquely situated at just a bit above 7,000 feet in the foothills of the Rockies.
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 04/06/05 20:29:45 EDT

Kohlswa Anvils:
Dan, I am the webmaster for It was setup for a dealer that did not follow through. The site is just waiting for another dealer. . . that is my 300# Kohlswa that I photographed for a British music magazine article on unusual musical instruments.

The history of Kohlswa in the US is told on up to when Centaur stopped carrying them. The reason they quit had to do with production QC problems and the new worker/owner management. They had some bad anvils come through and the factory would not warrant them. So Bill Pieh said, stick it.

After that Kentucky farrier supply became the dealer. They have since changed their name and I can't find a web site. When they last had a site they did not list Kohlswa anvils and nothing comes up today. However according to the farrier sites they are being sold by SOMEONE and there are still quality problems. On that note I will tell you that Bill Pieh told me that farriers treat anvils as a consumable. Many cold forge on them all day every day and wear out anvils. . . They make plenty of money so it doen't matter.

I do not know what the current quality is like. Both I have had were old (sold by the Swedish American Co. - prior to 1965). However, they are the hardest anvils I have ever used and as such they chip when the edges are abused. My first anvil had serious chipping along the off side, probably from mis-blows by a striker. I used it heavily for about 5 years and had no problems with it. My anvil pictured on the site had a few chips on the off side but I have worked heavily on that same edge without a problem.

Most of the new manufacturers of cast anvils do not make them as hard as my old Kohlswa's. The reason is simple, they WILL chip and corners break off.

NOW, on the other hand, neither of my Kohlswa's had been dressed at all. They were left with factory sharp edges and put into use. Well. . sharp corners are bad and they are worse on a cast anvil. Radius the edges at the center of the body to about a 3/16 to 1/4" ( 5 to 6 mm) radius and the chances of a chip from a miss-blow drop dramaticaly.

Because they are so hard and have a well balanced shape they are also the LOUDEST anvil manufactured to my knowledge.

The hardness of an anvil is like any other quantity in steel. It is usualy a compromise. You can't use steel FULL-HARD because it is brittle. If you make it as tough as possible then it is too soft for an anvil face. Cast steel anvils cannot be as hard as forged and not chip so they must be made a little softer. AND both should be radiused before use.

I do not know what they are selling for but Euroanvil is a similar cast anvil and have had no verifiable problems reported.
- guru - Wednesday, 04/06/05 20:37:39 EDT

Miles Undercut,
I cal my pile of good stuff "future opportunities"
ptree - Wednesday, 04/06/05 20:56:45 EDT

Jim:: But those of us who know you, can just imagine your response! BOG. Well, we might just have to wait to hear it at Quad State this year. But really, you holding your tongue, that ain't like you at all! I better stop. I'm having too much fun.
Bob H - Wednesday, 04/06/05 21:55:18 EDT

OTHER Drivers are Idiots...:
...but every driver in North America is "above average"; at least everyone that I've ever talked to! ;-)
Bruce Blackistone - Wednesday, 04/06/05 23:47:49 EDT

Mr. Undercut: Were are you located? I'm in Longmont at the foot of the Rockies. I too have a Good Junk pile in need of weeding. what ya got to swap? I tried your e-mail but it bounced.
habu - Thursday, 04/07/05 00:05:17 EDT

Undercut: where?
habu - Thursday, 04/07/05 00:06:26 EDT

I'm near Santa Fe. No need to trade. Stuff's free. Just good generic ahrn, mostly. But thanks for the offer. "Future opportunities" is a good way to think of scrap... um... materiel. Or, an imagination kit, maybe. (Look what Picasso and David Smith did with some flotsam or maybe it was jetsam, and a torch.) Or, at the very least, how to escape going into town every time you need a hunk of whatever. The trick is to get one's better half to see it that way. Or, better yet, not to see it at all. I have not yet succeeded at that. Alas.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 04/07/05 00:38:18 EDT

Drivers -- In the words of George Carlin: Anybody driving slower than You is an IDIOT, and anybody driving faster is a MANIAC.
Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/07/05 01:37:59 EDT

kohlswa: Thanks, guru. I had in the past made inquiries about Kohlswa anvils to the kentucky farriery supply company you refer to, by e-mail, to no avail. The fact that they seem more popular with farriers was also a concern to me. I go to a school which trains both blacksmiths and farriers, and, as you say, as a whole they seem to have a rather rough and ready relationship with the world around them. Having said that, I have never seen a blacksmith forge quite so hard and fast as farriers do.
The reason I was attracted to Kohlswa anvils is that the offer a double bick which has only one pritchel hole. I don't understand the need for two (?!?). Nor do have a need for the funny little table as seen on habermann style anvils. In fact, apart from serving some small function (usually, it seems, to ammend a deficiency in the smith), a lot of the "features" of the various anvils on offer appear to be a bit of a waste of time.
Would contributors to this forum be interested in describing their ideal anvil, just for fun?
Dan P. - Thursday, 04/07/05 08:26:24 EDT

Dan P; depends on what I'm doing! Don't think the duty cycle is that much different between smiths and farriers; seen a smith re-pointing jackhammer bits that would have a dozen in the fire and be working on the anvil all day long save for lunch break. Most farriers I have seen have mandatory horse breaks in their work day...

Paw Paw, you forgot the rest of the line: "with bullets, explosives, heavy artillery or the razor strop"

Thomas P - Thursday, 04/07/05 10:59:53 EDT

Moving Metal:
Farriers get good at moving metal fast because they do almost exactly the same task every day and usualy work every day.

Smiths that work this much get equaly good at moving metal. However, some that I know that used to move metal VERY fast by hand now use power hammers for all the heavy work and they do not move metal by hand quite so fast now.

Smiths that do decorative ironwork often do such a varied work that they are constantly learning to forge new pieces. Unless the job is very large they may never hit that maximum efficeincy point except for common elements.

SO, you have a lot of variables. The repedity of the work, available machinery . . breaks.
- guru - Thursday, 04/07/05 11:39:24 EDT

Prefered anvils:
I just wrote on this subject on the Guru's page and added it to the anvil series. Prefered anvil styles are largely based on what you grew up with or learned on.

Even basic things like preferred weight differ greatly on the situation. Does it need to be portable? How heavy of work is done in the shop? Is heavy forging done on a power hammer relieving the anvil from striker duty?

And applicable to both style and weight, could the smith afford the anvil of their choice? Did they HAVE a choice in anvils?

You become accustomed to what you have. Many smiths work on anvils much too small for efficient forging but all they know is what they have.

Other tools that are available could also make a difference. Modern anvil patterns are a multi-tool combining or replacing others. Many old forging anvils were hornless. Bickerns or stake anvils were used for bending and scrolling and bolster plates used for punching. However, in modern shops where we use a multi-tool anvil we also have cone mandrels and swage blocks to extend our capability. Professional or well established shops often have more than one anvil to choose from as well.

So there are lots of variables in this question as well. However, almost all modern anvils are the result of hundreds of years of development and are good tools. I like a London or American pattern because of the step which other anvils do not have. I find the step handy for numerous things and get flustered when I use an anvil without. . . Its all what you are used to.
- guru - Thursday, 04/07/05 12:30:10 EDT

When I moved my stuff into the new shop I finally was able to set it up with my big anvil that had just been waiting for me to wise up. 515# Fisher, two 1.5" hardy holes. It took some getting used to, *quiet*, doesn't move at all under the hammer. I don't like the short squat horn or the very thick heel, but I have other anvils around when I need those features in a more elegant form!

Thomas P - Thursday, 04/07/05 13:19:40 EDT

Best Anvil: To assume there is one "best anvil", you are restricting yourself to one anvil- and no blacksmith I ever knew could do that. Fact is, like many tools, you need several of the "same" tool to cover all the situations. I currently have a measly two anvils, which cover me pretty well- a classic american pattern 125lb Arm and Hammer, and a european design double horned 250lb Nimba. For me, this is the perfect combination- one horn is round, one oval. One has a step, the other a huge flat top great for straightening big stuff. One has a more delicate horn and the classic thin tail of a London Pattern, the other has so much mass under all its surfaces it can take HARD blows. And I have two different size hardy holes and pritchel holes, handy for large and small work.
Of course, my particuluar combo is what I like, and your preferences may be totally different.
Right now there are still a fair amount of used older London Patten anvils out there, along with very good prices on new european style anvils, so there are both available to try, and buy.
ries - Thursday, 04/07/05 13:27:33 EDT

anvils: I have to say that the old london pattern is hard to beat. I too am quite reliant on the step, especially to keep things from moving about. I see the main advantages of the various european style anvils as being these; first, the tapered/pointy heel, for getting into tight spaces when you want to work on a flat surface. Second, the position of the hardy hole on the logical end of the face, ie on the left if you are a righty. Thirdly, the upsetting block, which is a great idea.
In fact, the only two things which particularly bother me about european style anvils are the lack of step, and quite often they have a very wide face, which, for some reason, I find quite silly. Oh, and of course, any extra pritchel holes would bother me, as well as that silly little plate that sticks out the side of some of them.
And a last question; on the "austrian", "south german" or "bavarian" anvils, what is the purpouse of the offset side, the part that comes out over the "church windows"? And are the church windows of any use at all? They certainly don't look like they would be. Has any one used one of them?
Dan P. - Thursday, 04/07/05 14:13:07 EDT

PS: Concerning ideal anvils (rather than best), I had meant a sort of dream team anvil, not necessarily actual anvils available.
Ries (or anyone else who owns a nimba); can you tell me about the pritchel hole on your nimba anvil; from the pictures on the nimba website, it appears to be located on the horn itself, which can't be the best place for it, by any stretch of the imagination.
Dan P. - Thursday, 04/07/05 14:24:07 EDT

Anvils: DanP... I too was looking into a Kolhswa recently. The two Kolhswas that I've tinkered on were great, but older. I had no luck with the supposed KY farriers school as a dealer, either. If you look at the last round of archived posts from the HammerIn, you'll see my inquiries on anvils from Laurel Machine and Foundry in Laurel MS. I ended up going that route and am VERY pleased. They're made in the USA, London Pattern beauties that can be had for the same price or cheaper than the euro pattern anvils out there. Just my 2 cents...
PredatorGuy - Thursday, 04/07/05 14:34:06 EDT

Driving: I got a sort of Varity Pack of driving types today. I had to be in Manhattan at 6:00 AM today to do some service work at a customer's store at 57th and Fifth Avenue. That means I got to dodge the deer out here on the back roads in our rural and suburban area until I got to Interstate 78. Then I did the run with the morning trucks routine for an hour (set the cruise on 75 and let the fast cars go by). Paid tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Lincoln Tunnel and then drove the city streets to the store. (Early morning is the best time to drive in Manhattan if you have a choice.) I left the store at about 9:30 and had to go out into the borough of Queens to a brass supplier for a pickup. Got in line and crossed over the Queensboro (59th street) Bridge then out Queens Boulevard a few miles to then wend my way back into the side streets of Middle Village for my pickup. Back out to the more major boulevards and onto the truck route through Brooklyn to the Verazanno Narrows bridge. Any body who has driven Linden Boulevard, Caton, or the Fort Hamilton Parkway knows how much fun that is! Crossed the bridge and sat in construction traffic after paying the $9 toll. I finally got through the jam up and took the Outerbridge crossing back into New Jersey for the Interstate run to within twenty miles of the shop where the roads turn back into a divided highway and then two lane county roads. I sure feel safer when I'm driving around here where the biggest danger is the deer; followed closely by distracted drivers on cell phones hauling horse trailers. It just requires so much effort to track everything going on around you in the city traffic for driving to be enjoyable. I actually had a guy stop his car in front of me on the Fort Hamilton Parkway today and pull a K turn in traffic! He didn't seem to mind the horns at all. It certainly makes it interesting!
SGensh - Thursday, 04/07/05 15:37:53 EDT

Spelling: That should be Variety- you are on your own for the rest.
SGensh - Thursday, 04/07/05 15:40:14 EDT

adam: I have a London ptn HB - if I were to replace it, that anvil would definitely have a sq horn. Several pritchels of different sizes would be nice. The littel table off the side as on the Haberman could be very handy indeed. I would try church windows if I got a chance - properly formed they might be useful swedges

adam - Thursday, 04/07/05 16:52:49 EDT

Its true, the pritchel hole in the Nimba is at the base of the horn- I am not sure why you would think this is a bad place for it? On my Arm and Hammer, the pritchel hole is way out on the heel, and this makes it kinda wobbly for heavy hammering. The Nimba Pritchel hole goes thru 7" of cast steel before exiting, so it allows punch outs to drop out to the floor, but it also supports the hole so you can really wail on it, or use it as a bending jig, without the slightest worry about snapping the anvil in two, which I have seen on some anvils like my Arm and Hammer- the pritchel hole is only going thru about an inch of steel, way out on the end of the heel, which makes it a natural breaking point. The Nimba is nigh on unbreakable anyway, but neither the pritchel nor the hardy hole are located in places that say "tear along dotted line".
Bottom line is, there are lots of different patterns of anvils available today- probably more than at any other time in history- so if you dont like one, dont buy it- you have lots of choices.
ries - Thursday, 04/07/05 17:42:26 EDT

Church Windows:
These vary greatly from the symbolic ones to the ones to those that appear to be usable for forming arms and legs of armour such as on the one at the bottom of my German anvils article. This anvil has both the sloped off side and the large radius valleys that result in church window lines but are not actual arches like others. This is one of the few hornless anvil patterns I would like to have.
German Anvils
- guru - Thursday, 04/07/05 17:44:36 EDT

Ries, note my comments on hardie hole strength on the original Austrian pattern anvils (link abov).
- guru - Thursday, 04/07/05 17:46:56 EDT

More on Anvils: After owning one, I see the advantage of european style anvils as:
The incredible mass under all the hammering surfaces means more affect from each hammer blow, so less labor for the same work. This applies to the heel and horn, especially. The horn on the Nimba is so stout you can really hit stuff hard, and get things done a lot quicker than on a London Pattern, where the horn mostly acts as a lever to tilt the whole anvil, rather than absorb the blow.
Disadvantages would include the thickness of the heel- since it is so thick, it is hard sometimes to do complicated bent shapes, so then I might use the London Pattern. But I tend to bend most complicated shapes hot on the hossfeld anyway, as it is more controllable, and leaves less marks. Other major disadvantage is the lack of a step.
For most things, I use the Nimba- but when I need to do something like tapering down pipe, the step on the London Pattern comes in mighty handy. I have both mounted a few feet from each other, and find myself sometimes going back and forth on one heat, using both anvils for their strong points.
ries - Thursday, 04/07/05 17:49:32 EDT

Multiple Tools: Ries, My friend Josh Greenwood goes from anvil to anvil, power hammer to power hammer. He has two large anvils in his work area and three power hammers (Plus, bickerns, swages and cones). This may seem to be overkill or extravagance to many but it is a highly efficient arrangement designed to get the most productivity out of one man. The power hammers each have different dies and are different sizes. There are times when you NEED that 500# air hammer but the 125's are much more controlable for doing typical size architectural open die forging.

Currently the dies sold on BigBLU hammers makes a wonderful two or three hammer setup where you move from one hammer to the other during one heat. It is amazing how much you can do in a couple heats using the common dies in this system.
- guru - Thursday, 04/07/05 18:13:36 EDT

Little Giant #25: The Little Giant #25 is in Biloxi, MS. I ordered the dies today, will be here by April 15, so it will be sold as a running and tuned hammer.

thanks for the inquiries.
Lamey Custom Knives
Lamey - Thursday, 04/07/05 18:44:41 EDT

More is Always Better: I am totally in agreement that to efficiently produce work, it sure doesnt hurt to have multiple, similar tools. Starting with things like 5 or 6 grinders, so one is always set up with the kind of abrasive or wire wheel you want.
I would love another power hammer- my 88lb is great, but I would love another, bigger hammer- the 165lb chinese air hammers are a real nice size, or maybe John Larson's 150lb'er, or a BigBlu.
My friend Phillip Baldwin has a 50lb little giant, and a 165lb Wolf, and he uses both all the time.
I have 2 bandsaws in the shop right now, and would dearly love to have 2 more- a giant swivel horizontal, and a large vertical- and that is in addition to the cold saw, the hydraulic ironworker, and the plasma cutter.
You just cant have enough tools. I have my hopes set on at least one more lathe, and another milling machine as well.
ries - Thursday, 04/07/05 19:04:21 EDT

More is never enough:: Fancy anvils, I NEED one of these:
habu - Thursday, 04/07/05 20:47:35 EDT

Dagnabit: Try again Anvils for fantasy swords:
habu - Thursday, 04/07/05 20:51:11 EDT

Anvils, tools: Yea, verily! I have three anvils and I want one more. I have a little 120# PW that is fine for taking to demos, and is a very nice anvil, though small. My old standby, an 89 kilogram London pattern of unknown make, is fine, but a bit soft and has a sway right in the sweet spot. But that sway is indispensable for straightening bars and starting gentle curves. My main anvil these days is a 250# Fisher, purchased mainly because it has both a hard face and a hard horn and is *quiet*, a big factor to a guy who is going deaf.

The anvil I still want to get will be a European style like the Euroanvil, in about a 350 to 500 pound sixe, WITH the shelf. A square horn and the handly little thin shelf are what all my other anvils are missing. Sure, I have square bick irons and bridge hardies that will do the job, but why not have them right there all the time? I also like having the hardie hole up front, so it is over more mass and isn't in the way of my hand. I could turn my London pattern anvil around and work with the horn on my right, I know, but the heel would still be too thin to take striker blows on a hardie.

Like Ries, I like having multiple angle grinders. I keep four or five of them under the fab bench all the time, each tooled differently. There are two with fast cutting grinding wheels on them, so I can switch back and forth, letting them cool. Keeping them cool saves both abrasives and grinders. Overheating is the enemy of electric motors, usually resulting is thrown armature bars when the epoxy lets go. Kept cool, they almost never throw an armature, even the cheapo Chinese ones.

As for hand hammers, I will never, ever again snicker at someone who has twenty or more. The last weekend was "clean up the hammers" day, and I made the mistake of counting how many I had wire brushed, polished, tightened, etc. After I passed the 50 mark and still hadn'tgotten to the miscellaneous hammers, I decided I better quit counting. My name is Rich, and I'm a hammer junkie...(grin)
vicopper - Thursday, 04/07/05 21:16:16 EDT

I'm leaving tomorrow morning for my first demo of the year, won't be back until late Sunday evening. Y'all play nice while I'm gone! (grin
Paw Paw - Thursday, 04/07/05 21:58:08 EDT

anvils-swedge : We dosen't someone make an anvil that has swedge block like sides and bottom? I'd buy one "if I had the money"
- Bjorn - Thursday, 04/07/05 22:38:27 EDT

PS: My fisher anvil has a hard surface. but a soft horn. I't got nicks all over it. Is is supose to be soft?
- Bjorn - Thursday, 04/07/05 22:42:15 EDT

Bjorn: Fisher anvils, at least the big ones, have a steel plate that caps the horn and step, the same way the top plate caps the body. Since the plate that caps the horn and step is one piece, it may be a milder steel than the tool steel top plate. Many old smiths used the step as a cutting plate, and a hard tool steel in that location would sure wreck hot cuts.

I'm just guessing at this, as I have not tried to see how hard the step is on my Fisher. It seems much harder than the step on the PW, and the horn is definitely much harder than the wrought iron horn on either my 89 kilo anvil or the PW. How much harder, I can't exactly say.
vicopper - Thursday, 04/07/05 23:04:43 EDT

Fancy anvils: I sorta like the Yamamoto....
Ralph - Friday, 04/08/05 00:29:51 EDT

Driving: SGensh-

Horror stories like that make me glad I live in "Hooterville". Seven traffic lights! :-)
Brian C - Friday, 04/08/05 08:49:48 EDT

I know a couple of smiths who developed exactly what you are asking for, a multi-purpose anvil/swage block. The problem they ran into was the liability laws here in Ca. would have kept them on the hook FOREVER if ANYTHING EVER happened to someone who got hurt with one of their anvils. They didn't want to take that chance.
- Wayne Parris - Friday, 04/08/05 09:07:34 EDT


I have a very nice design for one of these intended to be a so-so anvil for newbies but also a nice swage block. You can start out with this tool, then get a good anvil later and still have a good swage block. . .

The problem is that it is an odd enough tool that like the multi-function "does-it-all" tools of the past it could not be made of the finest heat treated steel for economic reasons. It would probably be ductile iron which is a tad soft for anvils.

I would give more details but I hope to find a foundry to cast them and don't want to give away the farm.
- guru - Friday, 04/08/05 11:27:44 EDT

Brian---big city time! Our "town" doesn't even have a flashing red light, the big city next door---county seat---just got their 7th traffic light, *all* on the same street btw.

Thomas P - Friday, 04/08/05 11:31:36 EDT

Wayne, I guess I also need an off-shore holding company to sell these things. . .

Wayne's comment sounds like a joke but in Pennsylvania the state destroys all used equipment is sells. Rather than selling as surplus the want it scrapped. The logic is that if someone gets hurt they are in the mine of parties to be sued. It is a sad thing when we destroy the things that equate to GNP (durable goods), which is part of out national wealth due to fear of law suits. . .
- guru - Friday, 04/08/05 11:52:19 EDT

Roads and Driving and Ruality:
I've driven a bunch of the places that Gensh mentioned such as to and from Brooklyn via the Verazanno Narrows bridge. I've also driven the DC belt-way, Chicago's North Lake expressway, rush hour in Sacremento fogs (everyone keeps going 70 MPH even though they cannot see). They are ALL heaven compared to roads in other countries and especialy in third world countries.

While driving in Costa Rica I repeatedly found my hands cramping and realized I was squeezing the life out of the stearing wheel. REAL "white knuckle" driving. This was on well paved highways. . . however, its the constant surprizes that get to you. First, there are no shoulders to the roads. In the mountains you have a ditch deep enough to swollow a tractor trailer on one side and an endless drop on the other. . . and no guard rails. Even many of the one-lane bridges (always on blind curves) do not have guard rails. You are surrounded by possible disaster everywhere.

THEN there is the habbit of the Ticos to just stop in the middle of the highway and get OUT and talk, often to someone else also stopped in the road. . . After a while you understand this because there are no shoulders to pull off onto for very long distances and no place to turn around.

Pot holes big enough to destroy the heaviest truck abound as does missing roadway from landslides. You may be happily driving along at 80kph and suddenly there is a big bight out of the road, one lane completely missing and NO warning. It seemed these were always associated with the one lane bridges and it was the traveled lane that was missing! These may remain unrepaired for months and no warning signs put in place.

Then there are the cows (often herds) and the boulders. . . All avoided at high speed with nowhere to go. Your left foot starts cramping because it never leaves the clutch as you must constantly be on the ready to accelerate up a hill after the constant stops and pauses.

In the mountains the switchbacks are as extreme as anywhere I've seen and blind curves the norm. Passing the slow moving trucks (do you want to get htere today?) is treacherous and the common method is to get in line and "follow the snake" as a fast accelerating line of cars passes following the judgment of the first in line that is only looking for room for himself.

Since drivers have nowhere to get off the highway emergency vehicals are in the same situation as everyone else. You think about the ambulance you followed for an hour making no more progress than yourself as you dodge the life threatening hazzards. You pray you will not need that same SLOW ememrgency transport.

Driving in the capital city was a little less nerve racking but you are still surrounded by very aggressive drivers everywhere and San Jose has a long series of traffic circles that form a veritable gauntlet when traveling from one end of town to the other. All I could think aobut was the $1000 deductible I opted for on the rental and the HIGH possibility I would lose it driving just a few hours in San Jose'

When I got home I came through the Washington DC Dulles International (IAD) airport. Leaving there on the connector to the DC beltway and 66 South was heaven. It was peaceful and as smooth as skating on ice. I was going nearly 100mph before I knew it I was so relaxed. . . slowing down to 70 was like holding still. Weaving in and out of the traffic without worrying about the highway suddenly ending was a joy.

America's highways are still overcrowded and not keeping up with the increasses in traffic but they are wonderful compared to many other countries. Its our most important infrastructure. One ex-patriot farmer I spoke to in Costa Rica said,

"The United States does not have good roads because it is rich, it is rich because it has good roads".

I think he is right.
- guru - Friday, 04/08/05 14:12:04 EDT

So Jock,

Are you sure Costa Rica is a place you want to move to for your health? ;-)

eander4 - Friday, 04/08/05 17:08:38 EDT

Roads: Jock is right on the money about third world roads. Pretty much the same here in America's Paradise, except that we drive in the left lane. Driving American cars with the steering wheel on the left while whipping along in the left lane makes for a real adventure when you round a curve and suddenly have to jump into the right lane to avoid the cow or the guy stopped to talk or the missing chunk of tarmac.

After a few years you develop a sort of "radar" for whether or not someone in coming at you in that lane you're hoping to occupy. (Those who don't develop the radar are called organ donors.) Ahhhhhh, life in the left lane. The tourists love it for the novelty, after they get over the white-knuckle syndrome.

I was over on St. Thomas yesterday, and happened to find myself in the unenviable position of having to actually drive myself around, instead of cadging rides with the officers over there. A couple of miles of their tiny, steep, overcrowded, ill-paved little lanes in Charlotte Amalie almost made me wish I had my Harley. Until I thought about coming down those miserable twisty little drop-offs they call streets in the hilly part of town. I'd go through a set of brakes a month if I lived there.

As for Costa Rica, I'm just hoping that Jock will hurry up and get moved down there so I'll have someone to lean on when *I* move down there. Driving in CR won't be a problem for me, I'm sure. Surviving here on my pension surely will be.
vicopper - Friday, 04/08/05 20:37:08 EDT

Just back from Mexico. Boy am I glad we had a driver! And I spent 20 months driving in Europe!
ptree - Friday, 04/08/05 20:38:42 EDT

I am interested in the Peck Stow and Wilcox No. 1 drop press as shown on page 130 of their Centennial Edition Catalogue reprinted by Astragal Press. Have any of you guys seen one or own one?
- Jeff G. - Friday, 04/08/05 22:22:10 EDT

Drop Press: Jeff- that Pexto drop press is essentially a rope operated drop hammer. They have been obsolete since about when that catalog came out in 1900, so there are not a lot of em still around. Randy Mcdaniels was trying to sell a press like this recently- he may still have it, you could check, and at least ask him about it. He is a fellow blacksmith-
There is a company in Nevada Missouri, the W.F. Norman company, that still uses these presses, to do exactly what they were designed for- they have been in business since 1898, and they still make stamped tin ornaments and tin ceiling panels using these presses. I have some of their catalogs with pics of the drop hammers- not sure if there are any on their website or not-
Again, I would email them, or call em up, and pick their brains, as they are using these tools every day. I believe you need an overhead shaft system to power them, as the rope goes thru the pulley on the top, then around the overhead shaft a few times, and works kind of like belaying a mountain climber.
While I doubt you could find an original pexto, you never know. But the concept is simple enough, and you could build one yourself. The problem is the dies- these are the labor and money intensive part of the whole deal. If you had the dies, you could press tin in a hydraulic press, a power hammer, even squeeze it in a big vise, if the parts werent too big. Or you could use a period appropriate drop press from 1898.
ries - Friday, 04/08/05 23:40:44 EDT

ries: Thanks for the info. I have a power hammer and a swing press. I just like old machinery and old pexto stuff. I'll check out what you told me
Jeff G. - Saturday, 04/09/05 00:02:57 EDT

Roads and Drivers: Often, in my travels with the NPS and the LSCo, I come across some rather difficult roads, but for the most part, they're bloody wonderful triumphs of engineering; and I can't believe how lucky we are. Even down here, where we have ditches alongside the road deep enough to canoe in (especially in the last month or so, the swamp is "full-up!").

Obituary for Southern Maryland male under the age of 50: "...left the road at a high rate of speed."
Ah, Kotzebue, Alaska; an interesting place to drive...
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 04/09/05 00:08:06 EDT

Oops!: Bad link! Take II
Kotzebue, again...
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 04/09/05 00:11:56 EDT

Third World Driving:
The first time I visted Costa Rica my friends came to pick me up and on leaving we took a Taxi (2 hr drive for $50 USD). I enjoyed the scenery both times and much more with the professional Taxi driver. Taxies tend to be family businesses and they KNOW the hazzards I spoke of above. The fellow's driving was smooth and I never felt at risk. It was more than worth the price. I may go this route more in the future.
- guru - Saturday, 04/09/05 09:44:34 EDT

Driving on the Other Side:
I have never driven where they drive on the other side of the road. I HAVE driven old British right hand drive cars. On our roads this is a double whammy. Not only are the controls backwards your body is in a different place and the mass of the car to the left feels like a growth or extra attachment to your body.

The controls are not completely backwards. The foot controls are in the same order, clutch, brake, gas. But the shift is to the left (where it normaly is in the transmission hump) and the center dash controls are the same. Now. . you EXPECT things to be mirror image when one thing is backwards. I expected the gas to be next to the transmission hump and so on. . . The controls being mirror image would have made more sense sometimes.

In any case it is a little confusing at first. The REASON drivers sit on the side they do is to better judge the distance betwen passing vehicals. Drive a left hand drive car in a right hand drive country OR vice versa and you are in for trouble.

This is also one of the many reasons in the great automobile manufacturing battle we (the US) have lost to Japan. They drive on the right. But WE dont make cars to drive there OR anywhere else in the world that uses this convention. However, the Japanese export cars to every country in the world and manufacture models in both right and left hand drive. For the US it was a huge missed oppourtunity.

FORGET converting to metric. . lets just see if we can get everyone to drive on the same side of the road!
- guru - Saturday, 04/09/05 10:02:02 EDT

When I drove in England the only problem I had was clipping a couple of curbs, until I realized the car didn't end just past my left elbow.

I've often tried to imagine the left-to-right highway interchange they'll have to use if they ever build an auto tunnel under the English Channel.
Mike B - Saturday, 04/09/05 10:31:53 EDT

More driving: Surprisingly, we don't have very many head-on accidents from people passing. Givben that we have left-hand drive cars and drive in the left lane, you would think that we would kill a few every day. Our mos frequent accidents are rear-end collisions, mostly due to someone suddenly stopping to chat with a pedestrian, Caribbean style.

I took a vacation once to Barbados, where they also drive on the left. I figured, since I drive here, it would be no problem there. Wrong-o, Einstein. They have those nifty little tiny Japanese right-drive cars as rentals. Good thing they're tiny, because the roads are even more tiny.

I was surprised how unnerving it was to drive from the right seat, even though I could actually see to pass (had the road been wide enough, at least). I found that I had NO idea where the left side of the car was and was constantly worried about dumping it into the gut at the edge of the pavement. By the time two weeks was up, I'm sure I had doubled the power of my grip and my forearms must have been a couple inches bigger. My ex-wife developed a dozen new wrinkles from squeezing her eyes closed for so long. (grin)
vicopper - Saturday, 04/09/05 12:23:26 EDT

Hofi Anvil: So, forgive me if this is going over old stuff, or if I'm out of line at all, but I've been looking at anvils recently, as I'm thinking of buying one. Anyway, I've looked at most every anvil maker and distributor that there is, and in doing so came across the "Hofi Anvil". Now, as someone who lives in a world where the only variation from the London pattern is the very occasional Portsmouth or farrier's anvil, I was rather struck to see this "hofi anvil". To be honest, it looked like a joke, as it as about five pritchel holes. An honest to God joke! Now, I know that I have mentioned this earlier, but what could possibly be the use of these various calibrations of pritchel hole???
And, I have to say it, having perused the various "inventions" of Uri Hofi, I have come away with the overwhelming impression that the man is a shyster. It may be wrong of me to say so on this forum, and I'm sorry to offend anyone. I know nothing of the man myself, other than what is very freely available on the internet, but the impression that I get is one of a person marketing various regurgitated bits of kit while trying to pass them of as innovations. And that's not such a terrible thing, it's just that I don't get why he is as prominent as he is, as the only work of his that I've ever seen pictures of looks kind of like... stuff some guy did on a power hammer.
Dan P. - Saturday, 04/09/05 13:40:40 EDT

Dan P:
I don't know about most folks, but I 've always liked the idea of multiple pritchel holes. It allows you to punch using a hole as close to the size of your punch as possible. This, in turn, helps to prevent distortion of the steel on the back side of the punch. Add to that the idea of having one piece stabilized with a hold down, while still having a pitchel available to use for punching another, and you're talking about efficiency! I'm always sold on that concept.

I think that the point of the Hofi system is getting the maximum amount of work from the minimum effort. His hammering technique is keyed towards efficiency of movement (resultng in minimal strain on the ol' bod), and his tools are designed to enforce that concept.

There are certainly a number of ways to skin a cat, some better than others, and not every method works for every person. Keep your eyes open though, and you might find something new that works better that what you were doing.

That's my layman's view of Uri's technique. He drops by occasionally, so he might be able to explain it more clearly than I can. After all, he does understand it better than anyone else. :-)

eander4 - Saturday, 04/09/05 14:25:02 EDT

Hofi: There's no doubt that Uri Hofi is a good showman, a capable artist-blacksmith and more than just a little bit opinionated. Like others of us, I'm sure. Hofi DOES seem to be more than able to back up his opinions with demonstrable facts and straightforward demonstrations.

The Hofi anvil is bsically a variation on the European anvil, or the Habermann style anvil. No surprise, there. The multiple pritchel holes are simply a handy thing thing to have, in a place that is handy to have them. Sure, you could get out a bolster plate and put that over the hardie hole, then chase it around. Or you could dig out that swage block with the holes and hump it into position for use. But having a variety of holes right ther in the anvil you use all the time makes a tremendous amount of sense to me. I find myself going from one of my anvils to the next to find the right size hole for punching or bending things pretty often. And that side shelf saves one form having to make and use a bridge hardie for working items with narrow clearances. All in all, it looks like a VERY well-designed anvil to me. Perhaps that is why Euroanvil, Old World Anvils and others are making so many anvils in the same general pattern. :-)

The Hofi hammer and hammering style were developed to get the most movement of the metal with the least energy supplied and with the minimum amount of potential damage to the arm joints and tissues. Again, it sure makes sense to me. Just because smiths have used London pattern anvils and inefficient hammers for a long time doesn't mean that it is the best way. If you think the old way is the only way, then use a stone hammer on a stone anvil and only work naturally occuring copper alloys or unalloyed iron.

If I was going to recommend a type of anvil for general purpose smithing, it would be the style of the Hofi anvil, probably the Euroanvi since they seem to be well made and are very reasonably priced. The Hofi Hammer is mostly priced way out of my reach, but I have tried one and found it very effective when used the way it is intended to be used. Once I get my powerhammer finished, I'll probably try to make myself one.

NOt surprising that you think a lot of Hofi's work looks like it was made by a guy with a powerhammer. Hofi has strong opinions and ideas about powerhammer work as wells as hand work, and does a lot of work on powerhammers. He designed the die system for the latest incarnations of the BigBlu powerhammer, and they get rave reviews form most of the folks who have used them, including me. I'll try to make some similar dies for my hammer when I get to that point. They work, and they work well.

So no, I definitely don't think Hofi is a charlatan or a shyster. He's prominent because he gets out there and does things and then teaches others how to do them. Not a bad description, and one I wouldn't mind having applied to me. YMMV
vicopper - Saturday, 04/09/05 14:38:31 EDT

Hofi Comments: I have spent time with Hofi, and the way I hear it, he learned the Czech method of striking and hammer use from Alfred Habermann; Habermann is one of the world class smiths now residing in Austria (I heard). Hofi may have changed the methodology a little to suit himself. In terms of years spent as a blacksmith, Hofi has been at it about 15 years, but he has very much applied himself to the task of learning the craft.

Hofi is an intellectual and a speaker of several languages.
He is a world traveler, including the Far East. He is conversant with more than one craft. He is what we would term in the U.S., a renaissance man.

I cannot blame him for wanting to design and market an anvil, a hammer, or forging dies.

Regarding the anvil holes, the same idea is in Donald Streeter's book, "Professional Smithing", where Streeter has a series of graduated holes in his pyramidal bickern horn. If you're forge welding a drive-pintle, the exact hole of the pin size is handy when the pin is dropped in the hole to clean up the shoulder. It's like a monkey in reverse.

Another thought. An oversized pritchel hole can mar the workpiece. When possible, it is a good idea to forepunch from the back of the piece, as on a hinge, for example. Then backpunch from the front or audience side of the piece. Any defacing will wind up on the reverse.

I do not use Hofi's hammer and striker techniques, because I feel that my hand hammer use is relaxed enough. His striking method is showy, but I teach the good ol' boy way of trading blows. By trading blows, there is hardly ever any talk going on between journeyman and striker, and it is simpler to teach.

Uri Hofi is apprised of this forum, and has been on this forum, because it is international in scope. Perhaps he will respond.

Frank Turley - Saturday, 04/09/05 16:30:06 EDT

I was at ABANA Richmond, wandered about and looked a bit at all the demonstrators. Then I went back and watched Hofi for the remainder of the conference. I saw several of his demo's several times and learned something at each. Is he opininated? Yes. So am I as a matter of fact. Is he good on a power hammer? Yes. Is he a good teacher? I think so or I would not have spent all that time there. Are his tools expensive? yes. Do I own any? No. I did copy several. I saw Hofi hand a fellow his hammer to trace, after he saw him trying to sketch it. Offered some tips on making it as I remember. That sound like a rip off artist? Not in my opinion. If I had the time/$ I would love to attend his school.
Remeber, "Cheap tools are poor economy!"
ptree - Saturday, 04/09/05 19:12:07 EDT

Your school too Frank!
ptree - Saturday, 04/09/05 19:12:46 EDT

Got to meet Frank and Adam and several other folks who have visited this forum at the SWABA meeting today, then ate way to much at the potluck, struck out on Iron in the Hat and Visited Miles Undercut where my new smithing student picked up his first forge and loaded a bunch of "future oportunities" into the truck to help it stay on the road with the strong gusty winds we fought on the way home.

12 hours with the leazving at 6:30 am and getting home at 6:30 pm---the june meet may be a 2 day one; nice to mosy from the meet to the campfire, see what's cold in the cooler and hot in the stewpot and occupy a comfey camp chair---Cardinal Fang---the soft pillows! Rather than have to drive around 3 hours home.

Thomas---now to convince the wife
Thomas P - Saturday, 04/09/05 23:00:01 EDT

What Is It?: Does anybody know what this thing is?
This is the second time that I have seen one! The first one was covered with many layers of light colored paint, so I thought it might be some sort of light sconce from a trade union hall. Doean't really look like an anvil vise.
Roy - Sunday, 04/10/05 02:21:53 EDT

cleaning the shop: There was a thread over on iForgeiron about clean or sloppy shop. Yesterday I spent from 0930 to 1645 cleaning out my shop (in my own defense, this is also my garage).

Looks like a trip to the scrap buyer is on tap for monday.

Where does it all come from? :-)
Brian C - Sunday, 04/10/05 08:41:09 EDT

Ebay Item:
It looks some some kind of universal multi-tool anvil. However, the turnlock hole on one side is a curiousity that looks like almost anthing could fit it. .

Its neat but I really don't know.
- guru - Sunday, 04/10/05 11:30:35 EDT

met ThomasP: As Thomas posted above, we finally met at the Southwest Blacksmiths' meeting ( I assumed we talked to Miles Undercut, but the name sounds suspicious. It sounds like an alias. Adam was there and it turns out that 3dogs will come see us later this month. It's good to network in person.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 04/10/05 11:41:58 EDT

Driving on the other side: Guru: As far as US manufacured vehicles not being avalible for export to locations where driving on the left is the standard. The Jeep Liberty (known as a Cherokee in the rest of the world), jeep wrangler, Chrysler Neon, Chrysler PT cruiser, Chrysler town and Country, jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler sebring, are all avalible in a right hand drive version for the export market. Whether diamlerChryser counts as a US automobile manufacutrer is another thing entirely.
Bluejeep - Sunday, 04/10/05 12:09:48 EDT

Uri Hofi, Hofi Anvils: First you should be aware that Uri reads anvilfire regularly and recently posted about his hammer weights and dimensions on the guru page.

I have a drawing of the Hofi anvil as a fabricated anvil on our plans page and also a photo (link below). This is most likely also how the original wood pattern was made.

Although I am a traditionalist when it comes to tools I personaly LIKE the Hofi anvil. It is the only truely NEW modern anvil pattern that is well thought out. I would not mind having one in my shop and would be proud to own one.


Oblate sectioned horn (semi triangular)
Narrow face (preffered by many)
Fully supported face (very solid more efficient)
Slender square horn (works better than the shorter type)
Feet that act as upsetting blocks
Flat side to brace against when upsetting on floor plate.
Side shelf that can also act as corner support when upsetting on foot.
Multiple punching holes (benifits listed by Frank above)
Standard hardie hole well supported next to body.
Weight 265 pounds (120 Kilos).

This is not a cheap anvil. They are cast and finished in the US and are of very good quality. The weight puts them in the professional or general shop class.
Making anvils (Hofi style)
- guru - Sunday, 04/10/05 12:34:07 EDT

Car Makers:
Exactly who and where automobiles are made today is definitely a muddled question. The last time the right hand drive question came up someone pointed out the European Ford plants. However, these are NOT US plants. In US plants the engines are often made in Japan and the Buick I recently rented had "Made in China" stickers all over it.

However, my point is that US automakers have never been responsive to the global market and continue to do so. Outside the US you will find millions of small efficeint delivery trucks ALL made by other countries, primarily Japan. None are made here.

Now Nissan is making a big pickup truck to cater to the US market but they also make millions more small flat bed trucks for the world market. They are responsive to the market rather than trying to create a market for something that is wrong for the market the way Detriot does. You would think that after 30 years that the Detroit auto makers would have caught on.
- guru - Sunday, 04/10/05 12:55:13 EDT

Hofi Anvils: Well, if Uri Hofi does indeed read this, I hope he is not offended; As I said, I've only what is available on the internet to go on, and it is not all of it terribly flattering. I'm sure he would be pleased by the loyalty shown him here on anvilfire!
As for the multiple pritchel holes; I'm just not convinced; for big stock, you don't even really need a pritchel for punching, and for drifting, if you are drifting a hole over an inch in diameter, you're probably in position of having a big enough operation to be able to set up a special bolster for it anyway. Does it have pritchels that big anyway?
And, Mr. Turley, do you really clean up shoulders in your pritchel hole? How odd!
Dan P. - Sunday, 04/10/05 13:50:36 EDT

Sven: FWIW Jeep builds their stationwagons as RHD for the admittedly small Postal market But they also sell to the UK markets too. USPS uses them in the harsh weather areas (Alaska).Also average"Joe" can buy one, Typically the guy is a Contract Postal Carrier, But anyone can order one.
Subaru also sells RHD stationwagons, Primarily to the Postal contractor market too.
- Sven - Sunday, 04/10/05 14:52:52 EDT

Pritchel Holes: Dan, When a bolt or tennon fits the single pritchel hole in my anvils I've dressed them there. Its a rather limited function when you only have one size but it IS useful. Anyone that uses a particular anvil long enough uses every surface and knows what fits and what does not. If you are not taking advantage of every feature then you are working inefficiently.

Now, my old anvils have marvelously hand radiused pritchell holes that make a nice corner fillet. However, some anvils such as a late Kohlswa I saw yesterday have heavily chamfered pritchel holes that are not good for dressing shoulders. You take advantage of what you have.

Some late farriers anvils do not have a square hardie hole at all but have a large round heavily radiused hole that is used for bending. It requires a special round shank hardie. Farriers anvils have also had two pritchel holes for nearly century.

European anvils do not have a small pritichel hole, they have a large punching hole nearly as large as the hardie hole. It is called a pritchel hole in English catalogs but that is not its purpose (use with a pritchel punch).

Back when bickerns or stake anvils were a common augmentation to a hornless anvil they often had a row of small punching holes. This feature carried over to certain modern sheet metal stakes and is being used in modern anvils.

The Hofi anvil as well as the multi hole Euroanvil (no longer available with multiple holes) are giving the smith the choice between the large European punching hole and the small English pritchel hole as well as various sizes like the now archaic auxillary bickern. This is nothing more than increasing the range of uses for the anvil and allowing the smith to work more efficiently.

The modern anvil has long been a multi-function tool. Originaly anvils were hornless and holeless. Over time features were added, the hardie hole, then the round horn followed by the square, then the pritchel hole as the hardie hole grew too large to cleanly punch over. As long as these features do not get in the way of the primary purpose of the anvil, forging, and make the smith more efficient then it is a better tool.

If you feel that improved features are a problem then you should go back to a plain hornless anvil and a stack of other tools to support it.
- guru - Sunday, 04/10/05 14:59:15 EDT

"turnlock hole": That's the ticket, it's a turnlock hole! The thing is probably the base for some sort of ancient Shopsmith type of tool. Funny how my imagination works, I pictured it bolted to a wall with the hole facing up and a light globe on it! He, he, I know, I need to get out more!
Roy - Sunday, 04/10/05 15:42:23 EDT

Roy, I was just guessing that was what the hole if for. The thing has fairly substantial mounting flanges and the hollow casting could support a pretty good load.

The old multi-tool blacksmith setups had vises that worked in conjunction with the anvil and drills that worked with the vise screw and all kinds of odd mechanical combinations. They were popular around the turn of the 20th century and came in MANY types. It is very common for the anvil portion to have survived while the rest has been lost.

Is this your item on ebay? I'd like to use your photos if it is.
- guru - Sunday, 04/10/05 15:57:15 EDT

Opinionated and Hammer Style: Hofi has some strong opinions and doesn't give much quarter. I am much the same and do not agree with all of Hofi's opinions. We agree to dissagree and not try to change each other's opinions. We MAY push a hard sell. . .

I am not a fan of the Hofi Hammer. Many others are. I spent 50 years using other hammers and know what I like and I doubt I will change.

On the other hand the method Hofi teaches is right. On my recent trip to Costa Rica I visited a young local blacksmith with my friend Josh Greenwood. Now Josh is just as opinionated as and stuborn as myself or Mr. Hofi and has enough ego for all of us. He immediately went into his speil about holding the hammer loose and using velocity to do the work in order to save your arm. Josh has been giving this speil much longer than Hofi has been smithing. It is different than the Hofi method but the important points are the same. Then we went to visit a couple old Costa Rican smiths. They use the heaviest hand hammers I have ever seen a smith use (about 6 pounds) and have been doing so for over 60 years. After a brief demo (see our NEWS) one of the old smiths starts to show the young smith the right way to hold the hammer, very loosly guided by thumb and forefinger. . THE EXCACT same speil Josh had given that morning.

Now, the connection is probably the German Master the Costa Ricans learned under, and that the Czech learned from that the Isreali learned from, and the Germans that probably influenced Josh. Even before the Internet this was a small world and now it is even more so.
- guru - Sunday, 04/10/05 16:01:38 EDT

Get Togethers SW Virginia: Yesterday I met with a group of local folks whom Pete Buchannon (selling steel above) had invited to his place in Bedford Co. In just the last few years we have found enough interested parties to form a local group. We had a good time and plan to meet again.

The group is to be called the Blue Ridge Blacksmiths Association and will have meetings convienient to Lynchburg and Roanoke VA. If you are interesting in joining us give Pete or myself a call or drop one of us a line.
- guru - Sunday, 04/10/05 17:28:56 EDT

hey guru: thank would be buchanan............ and yes what very cool time....... a gathering of folks that love the craft..... many smiling faces laughing swapping stories and craft knowledge----- anyone in the south/west/ central va area drop us a line line if your interested in coming to the next event........ there will be plenty of 1080 and maybe some other tailgate goodies.......happy hammering
pete - Sunday, 04/10/05 19:35:19 EDT

No, it's not my auction, sorry. I just thought someone might have some input as to what it was. This was the second time I had seen one and both were orphened of whatever other parts they might have started out with. I am familiar with several anvil-vise-drill variations, but this one is new to me.
Roy - Sunday, 04/10/05 21:50:33 EDT

Frank's right, 'twas good to see old friends at the SWABA smitein on Saturday, and make new ones-- and I parted with one, too. I saw that little old riveting forge-- my first one, just as it has now become Thomas's student Patrick's first one, too-- go into the back of Thomas's truck with some fond memories. Feels like only a short while ago that I got it, spent weeks soaking the blower in my magic derustifier to bring it back to life. But our three sons, just kids when we used it to make trivets and hooks and countless other treasures, are now in their 40s, so.... Now I hope Patrick will have as much fun with it as we did then-- and I wonder how many other hands will turn that crank, how many other lives it will help forge. Makes me realize you don't really own tools, just get to work with them for a while, as they work on you.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 04/11/05 00:50:47 EDT

Car Markets....: Guru,
Detroit has caught on. If you look you will seen than many of them are partial owners of various Japanese and Korean car companys. As well as European. Ford and Mazda and Jaguar. Etc.
Unfortunately they are NOT doing much at home tho.
Ralph - Monday, 04/11/05 02:22:33 EDT

Passing on Tools:
In the blacksmithing business more than any other we are just temproary caretakers of tools. Many are now restored with loving care as Miles U. has noted and then passed on to others who will probably treasure them enough that they will not become rusting hulks again.

The heavier and more duarable the tool the more this is so. That is why I try to get people to avoid repairing anvils. Dress them lightly, use them as is, pass them on. A little wear and tear does not hurt but missmatched alloy welds show and machined plates too thin to hold up destro future value. Eventualy all the old anvils will become prized collector's items. Meanwhile we use them as they were meant to be used, try not to abuse them and keep them from the scrap heep so another generation can enjoy them.

Old used tools and machinery are often the low cost entry level equipment for the young and hobbiests. Without a stock of it we would be a poorer craft. The fact that tailgaters search out these tools and bring them into the community is an amazing service unique to our craft.
- guru - Monday, 04/11/05 03:38:24 EDT

Tools and Cultures:
My Spanish teacher Luis is from Chile. He came to the US in the early 1980's fleeing the political and economic unrest of his home country. Between Luis and my trips to Costa Rica I have learned a lot about just how RICH we are.

Luis told me a story about how when he first came to the US he was invited to a cook out at a coworker's home in Florida. They had setup a ping-pong table in the garage for the guests. Luis went to play ping-pong an noticed the wall covered with tools typical of many middle class American homes. In his new broken English he tried to ask his host what business he was in that he used all those tools. His American host could not understand the question nor could Luis express exactly what he meant. You see, in rural Chile where Luis was from you could run a significant business with several employees with all those tools. You would be a rich business owner. At best in a Chilean home you might find a small hammer and a single screw driver. Any more would be an extravagance.

Luis is a well educated man from a middle class merchant family in Chile. Yet the cultural difference was so huge that he could not even form a reasonable question about these tools or understand the answer IF his host had understood the question from his cultural standpoint.

Today Luis has a small crafts and jewelery business and makes silver jewelery as well as doing repairs. His small collection of tools (being small jewlers tools) could easily be carried away by one person. Yet Luis says that in Chile he would have half a dozen people working for him with that number of tools.

The old Costa Rican smiths I visited worked in the same small shop for 50 years or so. It was smaller than a typical American single car garage. They had a forge, two anvils (one for each brother), a bench with a couple vises and and old post drill. Their small hand tools probably numbered only 100 pieces or so not including files and bits. They were old time general smiths that did EVERYTHING from shoing horses to wagon repairs and architectural work. Their complete set of tools would easily fit into a small pickup truck with room to spare, yet they made a living and fed their families for two generations with these meager tools.

About a year ago we had a fellow from India laugh at our discussions about how to build a forge. He said the typical Indian forge was a clay lined hole in the ground with a little hand cranked blower (for efficiency). He provided a photo which showed the forge and the smith working on a piece of scrap 2" plate lying flat on the ground for an anvil. The smith appeard to have one hammer and one poorly shaped pair of tongs. Next to the anvil was a pile of several dozen freashly forged pieces. The poor smith has only one set of tongs because he cannot afford the steel for more than one and it would be an extravagance. With two pairs and another hammer TWO people would be working at the forge and anvil!

In Europe, North America and some of the other industrialy developed countries we are rich in tools and scraps to make tools from. This is the truest in North America. There is scrap everywhere if one looks for it. Used tools abound at prices we can afford and we are rich enough that every tool does not to be producing something EVERY DAY. We can collect tools and afford to have specialized tools and sets of tools. Even childred can afford to own sets of tools. Many hobby smiths even have machine tools and power hammers! To someone from another culture (the majority of the world) this is completely alien. To have the free time and money to pursue a hobby is an unbelievable extravagance much less collect tools.

I do not feel guilt over this but offer it as an observation. It is something to think about in our ever changing world.
- guru - Monday, 04/11/05 04:35:18 EDT

well said: guru---------- i'll give a hard amen on that last posting
pete - Monday, 04/11/05 04:39:50 EDT

You folks might be interested in this.:

Last Air Force blacksmith retires from RAFB

By Gene Rector

Telegraph Staff Writer

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE - The welding shop at Robins Air Force Base doesn't have an alumni association. No hall of fame. No formal list of notables and dignitaries. No fancy displays of memorabilia.

If it did, Bob Herndon would be a superstar. The gregarious, gray-haired, lifelong Macon resident was the last Air Force blacksmith, and he carried that title into retirement earlier this year. His job wasn't to shoe horses - although he could do that, too - but to design, fashion and turn out an array of metal products from tools, hooks, fittings and metal fixtures to more complex aircraft parts.

He was so good at it that former co-workers still speak of him in reverential tones.

Gerald Ryals, who worked side-by-side with Herndon for four years, calls his mentor a wizard with metal. "I never saw anybody do what he could do," Ryals said. "There just wasn't anything he couldn't make. I never saw anybody so talented."

Herndon also worked three years with Radford McKenzie and more than 26 with welding shop supervisor Clyde Belcher. Both say Herndon's match likely will never be seen again.

One reason is technology, Belcher stressed. Today, modern, computer-driven machines crank out precision implements in record time with minimal waste.

Another reason is that blacksmithing - except in the arts and crafts arena - is a dying art. "Bob was highly skilled," said Belcher, "and his type just doesn't come along any more."

Ryals said "Pop," the title he affectionately gave Herndon, had talent handed down from generation to generation.

"You don't go to school and learn what he could do," Ryals said. "We depended on him for all kinds of things - 'U' hooks, 'S' hooks, anything that had a hook on it, tow bar rings, special tools. Now they buy all of that off base or make it by machine."

Herndon, 76, logged more than 50 years at Robins, arriving fully qualified after serving a blacksmith apprenticeship, then working six years for the Central Georgia Railroad. His father, a master blacksmith, worked 50 years with the same railroad. Herndon's grandfather was a smithy as well.

He said his interest in the highly skilled profession disturbed his mother. "She would ask me why I wanted to be a blacksmith," he said. "I had one brother who became a doctor and another who was a diesel man. She always said blacksmithing was hard, dirty work with poor pay. And of course she was right."

But that didn't stop him, and he has no regrets after spending almost six decades heating, stretching and shaping metal. He especially enjoyed his time at Robins. "The people were great and they were dependable," Herndon said. "The Air Force has been real good to me."

He was particularly busy when he first came to the Middle Georgia industrial complex.

"When I started, the government didn't buy tools like they do today," Herndon said. "We'd make them and rework all the broken ones. We supported the tool and dye, propeller and sheet metal shops and we made aircraft parts. I used to like rolling the contours and using a lead slap hammer to beat the metal down without scoring it. Lead's soft, you know. The Air Force always wanted things exact - no scars on the metal, no threads messed up."

Herndon said blacksmithing, even in an industrial setting, is an art. "You've got to know metals - how to heat them without overheating. If you overheat, it will ruin them, burn them up," he said. "And you can only heat metal one time. Every time you heat it, you lose a certain amount of carbon and that will weaken it."

He said most people would do a double take when they heard he was an Air Force blacksmith.

"They don't expect that, particularly with all the high tech things the Air Force has," Herndon said. "The first thing they would ask is 'Where's the horses?' "

He could field that question also, since he's a master farrier. "I can make any kind of preventive or corrective shoes for horses," he said, "although I'm not doing that anymore. I'm thinking about taking all of my horseshoes and making what-nots out of them."

He ended his Air Force career in January, but it was not by choice. Heart bypass surgery and the implanting of a pacemaker took away that option.

"If I didn't have that pacemaker, I'd still be working there. I miss it," he said. Certain types of welding and heating devices interfere with his pacemaker, Herndon said.

During the past several months, he's been "piddling around the house" and regaining his strength following the surgery. "The doctor told me it would take a year or two at my age," he said.

He has no plans to end his love affair with metal. He said he might check out the arts and crafts side.

"The American Blacksmith Association of North America tried to get me to do some teaching," he said. "They go all over the country and put on demonstrations. People from all over the world come to their conventions."

He likes what he sees from today's craftsmen. "Blacksmithing was almost extinct, but the arts and crafts people are bringing it back," he said. "They're doing some beautiful work."
Paw Paw - Monday, 04/11/05 08:43:45 EDT

SWABA meet was at Helmut Hillenkamp's in Santa Fe. His stuff is all large scale. Scrolls executed in 2" round. All done with big machines. Despite it's massiveness it has light, graceful almost witty quality.

It was very nice to meet Mr Undercut for the first time and also to finally meet ThomasP and see the "disreputable red hat" in the felt. It's just that kind of thing that has given "disreputable" such a bad name. Had a pleasant time catching up with Frank Turley and Jimmy Treadwell.

Thomas, I never got the pc of cable to you, will save it for the next meet.
adam - Monday, 04/11/05 10:33:36 EDT

SNOW BRINGS GREEN MACHINING TO LABORATORY: Amazing what they can do with dry ice these days!

Science Daily Link
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 04/11/05 10:38:06 EDT

Jock, this is also a continuation of that old question "How long did it take a smith to make a sword?" We are so used to even a hobbiest having tools to do a wide range of items we don't think that in earlier times people owned *only* the tools for their particular branch of a craft and would send an item off to another shop for other work on it.

Or to put it more clearly: The smith would forge the blade but would generally send it to a grinder to be finish ground who would send it to the hilter to put the grip on it, it may then be sent to an engraver as well for ornamentation, and then to a scabbard maker for the sheath. Only now are we so rich in capital that "Sole Authorship" becomes a goal for collectors!

Adam, perhaps at the next SWABA meeting?

Thomas P - Monday, 04/11/05 11:13:34 EDT

DanP: Uri is definitely not a "rip off artist" He can back up his claims. But you are quite right to be skeptical. There are a lot of worthless, overhyped gimicks out there and "show me" is the right attitude.

I own three Hofi hammers and I use his hammering technique as best I understand it. The hammers were not cheap but they are *beatifully" forged. Using his hammers and following his technique gave me almost immediate relief from a chronic arm problems and big jump in my hammering skill. So for me they were worth every penny.

adam - Monday, 04/11/05 11:21:06 EDT

Sole Authorship:
Thomas, That is an interesting concept. As you say it falls into having "extra" tools. If one craftsperson has tools to engage in three of four crafts, then at a minimum two or three sets of tools are idle at any given time. I am an extreme case. I have tools to be an artist, auto mechanic, machine designer, electrician, woodworker, blacksmith, machinist and shop operator, small building contractor and operate a computer based business, plus many misc. tools. A LOT of idle tools as a one man operation. I also outfitted an ex-wife, son and daughter with tools.

But I also live down in the country and need to be somewhat self sufficient when it comes to many tasks. Or at least the tools give me a sense of do-it-yourself security.
- guru - Monday, 04/11/05 12:42:42 EDT

Adam's Hofi hammers:
I thought the Hofi hammers were cast 8630 or something? Are your hammers older models? Just curious. I always thought it was funny that the Hofi hammers were cast.
- T. Gold - Monday, 04/11/05 16:38:59 EDT

Well I got my Hofi hammers from Tom Clark. Definitely forged , 4140 I think. I have a tape of Uri where he forges a small Hofi hammer. Perhaps Hofi is selling cast versions - I hadnt heard that.
adam - Monday, 04/11/05 16:51:34 EDT

Hofi/Tom Clark hammers. Speaking with Tom Clark in the past thy did cast some. They changed back to forging shortly and have to my knowledge been forged ever since. I have watched Tom forge several. He also forges nail upsetters and hot cuts when demo'ing his self contained air hammers.
ptree - Monday, 04/11/05 19:33:30 EDT

Backatcha, Adam! Wow, does it ever make me feel even older than I feel (I only just turned 29 in January, and hope to yet again, next birthday, too!) to be Mr.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 04/11/05 21:45:36 EDT

Having too much: Jock's post about tools reminded me of an Eastern Indian I met once who proclaimed, "You Americans have too much, too many material goods, but you're spiritually impoverished. In India, we're spiritually rich, but we have very little in material wealth.

I think he was wishing for Balance.
Frank Turley - Monday, 04/11/05 22:16:02 EDT

Balance, cont'd.: ....."Now, if you will GIVE me half of your ill gotten material goods, I will gladly help you to assuage your guilt."
3dogs - Tuesday, 04/12/05 09:52:44 EDT

Hofi Hammers:
First, note that there are Hofi(TM) hammers and copies. A few folks have made Hofi hammers with permission and bad copies have even been made in Korea.

Hofi himself had been selling cast hammers which are very well made and he and his agents stand behind them. However, BigBLU Manufacturing Company (who has been selling the cast hammers) is setting up to manufacture forged, genuine Hofi hammers with Hofi's permission and mark. They now have two weights available.

Official Hofi Hammers
- guru - Tuesday, 04/12/05 10:58:50 EDT

Balance: 3dogs, I have no guilt to be assuaged and I am sure that giving you half of what I have would only increase the immbalance! ;)

On the other hand. When I wrote my short story "Blacksmith of 1776" many folks did not understand the ending. The carpenter carried all his tools in a small roll while the smith needed a horse and wagon to carry his. There are great advantages to being light and portable. Meanwhile WE are in a heavy business where "portability" only means that it can be moved with a fork lift!
- guru - Tuesday, 04/12/05 11:08:50 EDT

portability: That reminds me of a comment one smiths wife made while we were setting up for a spring conference. 100# little giants and the like were arriving on trucks and being moved about. Demo stations were being setup without anyone paying any particular attention to the activities that they were not involved in. Lots of people were also standing around and talking, again without a second glance at the heavy moving going on all around them. The smiths wife looked at her husband and said, "you all act like this stuff is portable!" The truth of her statement caused a little laughter to those of us within hearing distance. After all, you mean this stuff ISN"T portable?? GRIN
- Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 04/12/05 12:38:53 EDT

Mo' Portability: Thass right, Rev. Wayne, and big ol' forklifts are especially portable. That would be the ultimate in stuff accumulation; to need a BIG forklift,and to HAVE one. (cackling greedily)
3dogs - Tuesday, 04/12/05 13:31:52 EDT

Can somebody with a Nimba anvil tell me how they like it, does it have good rebound and a good ring, do you like the design?
- Trapper - Tuesday, 04/12/05 15:15:54 EDT

Mo' Mo' Portability: At my day job, the forging machines are portable, if you figure a 10 ton crane to take it down, and a 240' long special truck to move the 312,000# frame. The foundation requirements are a little big but heck, whats a little 100 cubic yard pad among friends. To change a clutch pad is a 3 shift job for three mechanics that know what they are doing, and remember that 10 ton crane?

And 3Dogs, I will remember your not so secret fantasy when we decide to scrap out the big Cat fork lift. Start drooling, its a 32,000# Cat with a propane 318 Chyrsler V-8. Sounds sweet, and moves anything one would find around the average small shop.
ptree - Tuesday, 04/12/05 17:01:25 EDT

Passing on Tools:: I have made my wishes known to my wife and famly and will put it in my will when i can get around to it. My children if they have an intrest when they get older in blacksmithing will get my tools but if not they will go to my local guild to be givin in whole or in part a deserving smith or aspiring smith as a loaner or for keeps. It just dosnt sit well with me if they were to be sold off to a dealer or colecter and eather be over priced for resale or not apreceated. As it stand my children are a little to young 5,3 and one on the way for me to know yeat if they will use or apreceate them.
RBrown - Tuesday, 04/12/05 19:15:21 EDT

RBrown; don't know that I would want to put that much temptation in front of my local group--course I don't eat the muchrooms they ladle on my grub anyway...

Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/12/05 20:13:33 EDT

tool?: Does anyone know exactly what this tool is and how it is used? I have a feeling it is a wheelwright tool, though I am not sure. Cut and paste my link in the url box to view. This is a link to my photo:
burntforge - Tuesday, 04/12/05 21:00:01 EDT

BALANCE: BALANCE is a great thing to have. I used to try to balnce out my running horses with some high-speed Greyhounds or Staghounds to just keep everything balanced.Grin Then it was enough grinders and sanders to keep every thing in BALANCE. Now if I had a a real nice pair of anvils and a good coal-forge to BALANCE out with my gasser. Then maybe a JIM KEITH hammer to balance out the other nice shaping hammer I have.BOG. You know that ole indian might have something there.BOG.

- sandpile - Tuesday, 04/12/05 22:28:19 EDT

pasword: JOCK: I seem to have forgotten my password on the slack-tub..What now??

- sandpile - Tuesday, 04/12/05 22:53:01 EDT

Burntforge: There's nothing to judge the size by. How big is it?
vicopper - Tuesday, 04/12/05 23:14:57 EDT

Sandpile, it will take a while for Jock to forge a branding iron with your password on it and arrange to make the trip to TX; but you will *never* forget it!

Thomas who doesn't quite buy into the "being poor makes one rich in spirit"
Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/12/05 23:36:56 EDT

sandpile, check your mail
- guru - Wednesday, 04/13/05 02:06:45 EDT

poor=rich in spirit?

Well then I must be leaking it from my ears!
- Timex - Wednesday, 04/13/05 03:53:22 EDT

vicopper: The tool is 6 3/4" long, approx 3 1/2" wide at the widest point, The through hole is approx 15/16"...there is no set screw hole. The through hole seems to be for a dowel or spoke, but may not be at all. The blades adjust in and out from side to side.
burntforge - Wednesday, 04/13/05 08:07:17 EDT

Burnt forge Tool: My guess is that it is a tenon cutter, but that is only a guess. If so, as a rotary tool one of the cutters would need to be turned over to have the cutting edge oriented correctly.
vicopper - Wednesday, 04/13/05 08:34:27 EDT

Burntforge tool: Whoops, cut it off.

However, if you turn over one of the cutters, it would make them all whacky, so I am a bit stumped on that.
vicopper - Wednesday, 04/13/05 08:36:11 EDT

greed: I think that something thats overlooked is that it isnt the tools that make you poor in spirit---- is the greed for them.......its one thing to be lacking tools for a job and want or need them---------- its another to have every tool known to man and still lust for more....... greed its a awful thing and i think everyone fights it to a degree--- atleast most try to fight it-------- well thats my 2cents.......happy hammering to you all..........
pete - Wednesday, 04/13/05 08:55:44 EDT

About Master Uri Hofi:
I tried to politely defend the Master, however he WAS offended by Dan P comments and he would like you to know he is NOT happy that someone who has never met him would has impugn his reputation. A rather long overseas phone call was made to express just how upset he was.

Master Hofi would like you to know that his email address is public as is his web site and if you have questions about his designs or methods that he will gladly respond to your questions.

Master Hofi IS indeed a master artist blacksmith and was awarded that high honor by the blacksmith's guild of Germany. This is the last of the true guild systems and one of the few that truly means something. German masters papers are recognized world wide. In Germany only a smith with his Masters papers is permitted to teach.

As to the style or quality of his work yes much of it is modern, we DO live in the 21st century. While many in the US are emulating the styles of the old world from the last millennia they have moved on. Hofi's work is of exquisite quality using the best joinery and forging techniques. I have not seen a piece of his work that I would not be proud to own and display prominently in my home. You would do well to visit his web site and study the sampling of his works displayed there.

Who is Uri Hofi?
- guru - Wednesday, 04/13/05 10:27:17 EDT

vicopper: I will post a second photo of the backside for you. Try this link:
vicopper I do thank you for your imput. I was thinking on the lines that you were, though I am not sure either.
burntforge - Wednesday, 04/13/05 10:30:54 EDT

many tools: I have two friends who hoard blacksmith tools. They each have enough to outfit about thirty shops. They will not part with any and let them sit and rust. I think it is a lust thing like Pete said or a feeling of security. We all fight it. I try to pass along the tools I will never use. I like a simplified shop with room to work. Interestingly enough these other two fellas only use the same few blacksmith tools and have never toched the others in years/decades. I asked one last night why he doesn't sell them for the extra money to invest in something he would use. The reply I got was because he is saving them from being purchased by a collector or dealer. I told him the end user-blacksmith will wind up purchasing them in the end who really needs them to use. The irony is someday those people they don't want to purchase them will from the estate auctions. I like to share the wealth, so others can get a nice tool to use also. I can't see having 50 anvils for example just setting there in the way. Why collect them? They are just a heavy hunk of steel or iron. It is more fun to use one...that is where the romanticism is.
burntforge - Wednesday, 04/13/05 10:39:10 EDT

I don't think that's a wheelwrights tool. You want a square shoulder on the end of the spoke. And there is no stop so that you get the tenons all the same length. (although that could be lost) How would you turn it? even if the shank that goes in a brace is lost I see no setscrew or the like to secure it. I also thought it might come from part of a larger machine for cutting tenons but the how does it attach question still applys.
JimG - Wednesday, 04/13/05 11:22:31 EDT

Our tool tropisms: the gent who gave me my big beeeyootiful Paragon anvil-- which came to his daddy's Minden, La. turpentine factory from Sweden in the late 1920s-- a writer, editor, craftsman in metal and wood, the late Dave Snell, nailed it: "Sex," he said, "is just a sublimation of man's basic urge to browse in hardware stores."
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 04/13/05 11:57:47 EDT

Investing in Tools:
At this point in history buying and holding old blacksmith tools is still a good investment (in the US) even though prices are rising (that is why its a good investment).

Many folks have realized that there will never be another Hay-Budden, Peter Wright or Mousehole anvil made and that they were better than most of what is made today. Same with Atha tools, Champion and Canedy-Otto Blowers and many no-name tools. When you can buy a 20 or 100 year old hammer for a couple dollars that is no different than a new one that sells for ten times as much that is a GOOD investment.

When I started buying used tools you could get hammers for a dollar and tongs for three. At the time this was still 1/10 or less of new. Eventualy the high class old tools will dry up and the old ones will become much more valuable.

At this time there has been a drop in anvil prices due to the Eastern European entry into the market. However, this has been a time when steel and steel products have been being dumped on the US. Like steel prices have already done anvils prices will probably jump significantly in the near future. I KNOW what it costs to manufacture an anvil and the current market prices are a very good deal.

As far as keeping tools out of the hands of collectors. . . well that is just an excuse to collect. As prices rise eventualy collectors WILL have those tools. Maybe not this generation but next.
- guru - Wednesday, 04/13/05 12:11:04 EDT

Miles Undercut: Loved Mr. Snells quotation ! So much, in fact, that I'm going to have it put on two plaques; one for the shop, and 'tother for the boudoir.
3dogs - Wednesday, 04/13/05 12:40:32 EDT

JimG: Thanks JimG. You may very well be right. I just don't know what it is either. I got it at one time with a large lot of blacksmith tools, though that doesn't mean it is a blacksmith tool. It just has me stumped. Thank You
burntforge - Wednesday, 04/13/05 12:51:35 EDT

Well due to an unfortunate incident where my *1* anvil was stolen a couple of days before a demo at a museum in OKC; I have a tendency to want to own multiplies of my favorite/most used tools. But I do try to hold a line and if I run across a great deal on something I've "maxed out" on I will sell one to buy one. I'll often sell it for just a bit over what I have in it too.

Back in tool heavy Ohio my "limit" on postvises was 10; but I gave away a couple when I moved---then bought 2 heavy duty ones in NM and sold one of them and a smaller one too so I'm still one or two "down" Each of my work benches will have a postvise, plus the demo vise that travels, plus an ugly one outside at the coal forge area---the anvil that stays outside has the heel broken off, very nice face though and it didn't wander off in OH out back of the house near the alley...

I'd rather have 1 of each than a lot of the same thing.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/13/05 13:22:23 EDT

Master Hofi: I'm sorry to hear that Mr. Hofi was offended by those comments. I'd like to add to the volume of comments in the Master's favor.

Due to some recent tendonitis, I became interested in his technique and hammer. I bought his video and found it extremely helpful. Then I asked around for details on the hammer to see if I could make my own. I didn't get much luck with that until someone suggested I write him directly. What the heck, email's free.

Well,..., he was, and still is, most gracious and helpful. He gave me all the info I need and even followed up a few days ago to see how my hammer came out. I'm still trying to get the elbows to warm up to some heavier hammering and haven't tackled the hammer yet, but we're getting close. I did get to fab the different tools, like bolsters and eye-punch, that I would need to get this done. Now I need to enlist the help of a striker to aid in this project. Since I just helped my son lay a hardwood floor, I figure he's only a phone call away :-)

Hopefully some day I'll get a chance to see Mr. Hofi in action and thank him personally.

By the way, I'm getting to the point where my hammering technique is very much improved. Every once in a while I revert to the Vulcan Death Grip, but that's in the heat of the moment (puns intended). I hammered pretty consistently for 1-1/2 hours last night, albeit with my 2-lb hammer, and came out of it pretty much the same as going in. Still got some aches and soreness. It's when I do something completely
unexpected, like pick up some stupid package one-handed, that I feel the tendonitis.

- Marc - Wednesday, 04/13/05 15:03:53 EDT

Guilds: Dear Guru - Some years back there was an extensive article in Smithsonian magazine about the surviving French guilds.

IIRC the surviving guilds included the Blacksmiths, Carpenters, Carriage Makers and Locksmiths.

The survival of the German guilds may be better known because the French guilds apparently would not accept foreign apprentices 'till shortly before the time of the Smithsonian article. (10 years ago?)
John Lowther - Wednesday, 04/13/05 16:20:16 EDT

Tendonitis: Marc what tape? Was that from UMBA?

The other thing that helped me with my hand problems was an intensive regimen of grip exercises. Wrist curls, roller bar, pinch plates, squeeze putty (stay away from the spring grip exercisers - worthless). IMO hand strength is much underrated in hammer control. Firstly one is much less likely to hurt a muscle when its working at 50% of its capacity than when its at 90%. Secondly to be able to grip the hammer lightly with one's fingers and control it requires *strong* fingers. Anyway it worked for me :)

Too bad Master Hofi was offended. I have great respect for him and I am deeply grateful that he helped me with my problems, but I thought DanP's questions were just innocent skepticism. After all, there really are a lot of charlatans out there. If you are going to be a "public personality" then you have to be a bit thick skinned.
adam - Wednesday, 04/13/05 16:49:28 EDT

French Guilds:
My appologies to the French. At one time they were considered the best in the world in all forms of metalwork. Perhaps the closed system is why I hear of many people going to Italy or Germany to study blacksmithing.
- guru - Wednesday, 04/13/05 16:52:38 EDT

Guru: Hi Jock
Would you email me the video info about Uri Hofi's hammer techniques. I have many health problems and could benefit from them. Would you also email me his email as I did not find it because i would like to ask him a couple of questions. Thank You very much. I am sorry to here people slammed him on this forum and he read the posts. I heard from a gentleman he helped with health issues with his stance at the anvil. I use sticks and a wheelchair and live in high levels of pain. I could use some good direction. Thanks
burntforge - Wednesday, 04/13/05 16:59:02 EDT

Uri Hofi video: There's a copy of the DVD available on eBay, Item # 6170041430. Alternately, if you go to and scroll down to the very bottom, there's a link for the PDF order form to get the video entitled "The Hofi Hammer and the Hofi Ergonomic Technique for Moving Metal".

Iceforge link
eander4 - Wednesday, 04/13/05 17:31:16 EDT

Hofi video: Well, the link is a little off. Go to, click on Skills Training and then scroll down. That'll get you to the order form.

eander4 - Wednesday, 04/13/05 17:37:13 EDT

Refrigerator blues: The cheapy guard for the refrigerator shelf came unglued, so I forged a new one. My QA officer(the wife) thought it looked respectable, so it must be alright. Anyway, it's something to look at, and keeps the bottles on the shelf.

- Tom T - Wednesday, 04/13/05 17:55:20 EDT

- sandpile - Wednesday, 04/13/05 18:07:11 EDT

Hofi video: UMBA's library is down for a while, and their librarian is not sure it will come back. I found the video on eBay. I was concerned that it was bootleg, but the guy said he was contracted by Uri not to sell it for less than a certain price, so I felt it was above-board. I know, you can't believe everything you read, but it just felt right.
- Marc - Wednesday, 04/13/05 19:53:57 EDT

3dogs-- You are not the only one nor the first to want to capture that observation in some permanent medium. I mentioned it to a friend who does calligraphy years back-- and saw her at the state crafts fair selling it on cards handsomely glyphed in flowing script. I think he was and would be secretly delighted. I hope there is room on the plaque to credit the quote-- David Snell. The calligrapher did not. Interestingly, it actually sort of embarrassed Dave, who was a proper sort of old-fashioned gent, for all his hard-won cosmopolitan urbanity-- he'd been in a war as a soldier, covered them, too, been all over the world, had some fellow point a rifle at his head in Africa and pull the trigger (it misfired), etc. etc., to have said it. Another fact I love: when LIFE transferred him from London to NYC, he naturally had that Paragon anvil shipped with the rest of his belongings-- and insisted that it be padded and crated.
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 04/13/05 20:06:50 EDT

Bandsaw blades: Gentlemen, I had reason to purchase blades for my Jet saw. I bought the Lennox bi-metal blades. These are the "Die-master II that I mentioned. The price was quite good at $16.62 each plus UPS. I also bought Norton, Norzon psa 12" discs for my disc sander. $5.54 each. If interested, the contact is Hagenmeyer, at 502-961-5930, ask for Mike Morrison. He said he would honor these prices for Anvilfire readers, so tell him you saw it here, and maybe they will call Jock for an ad.
ptree - Wednesday, 04/13/05 20:21:07 EDT

Miles & 3Dogs:

I read Mr. Snell's saying to Sheri and she laughed hard. Then she added "But I don't believe it, men do not BROWSE in hardware stores, they BUY!" Guess she's been married to me for too many years? (grin)
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/13/05 20:23:08 EDT

Tom -- My refrigerator door shelf's got the stock plastic bracket at one end and one forged from 1/2" stainless at the other.
- Mike B - Wednesday, 04/13/05 20:27:41 EDT

ptree: Thanks for that tip, ptree! I'll probably order acouple blades tomorrow and I'll be sure to tell him I saw it here, of course. Heck, I'll probably advise him to buy some space here; I've never been shy about that sort of thing.
vicopper - Wednesday, 04/13/05 22:02:28 EDT


Looks like I won't be at Madison this year after all. Just got a call this evening for a paid appearance in Central, SC as Sgt. George W. Tucker, Aide and Courier to Gen. Robert E. Lee, for that weekend.
Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/13/05 23:34:20 EDT

Anvil Magazine: Is there any way to gain access to the full text content of Anvil Magazine on line? It appears they are no longer in business?
- John Hardessen - Thursday, 04/14/05 00:48:30 EDT

Miles: Mr. David Snell shall be duly and truly credited. Thank YOU for sharing it with us.
3dogs - Thursday, 04/14/05 01:43:55 EDT

A sincere apology, but not a retraction: Dear all,
I was a little alarmed by Guru's last post concerning my comments about Uri Hofi, etc. I had not expected that those comments would elicit as strong a reaction as they have. I was momentarily heartened by adam's defense of my comments when he said hat they appeared, to him at least, to be healthy skepticism. However, on review of my posts, I saw that I had in fact been rude. It was, in particular, my choice of language that I regret, and I am rather ashamed to say that if I had known that Uri Hofi read these pages, I would not have used certain words (namely in describing his anvil as a "joke", and in saying that he appeared to be a "shyster"). In light of this, I would like to apologize to Uri Hofi, and to his many supporters here at anvilfire, for making comments about someone that were ad hominem, hurtful, and, more importantly, that I would not make to Uri Hofi's face.My apology, above, is unconditional. However, I do stand by the views expressed concerning the style of marketing of certain items (as well as concerning the utility of pritchel holes). And, as adam pointed out in my defence, I would hope that a producer of tools (that are being advertised directly to the users of this site) might perhaps be better equiped to deal with criticism. Or at least understand that my comments should not be taken entirely seriously; as I pointed out, all I am going on is the advertising and hype etc..
Dan P. - Thursday, 04/14/05 08:30:07 EDT

hofi video: Eric thanks for the link.
adam - Thursday, 04/14/05 10:05:11 EDT

Paw Paw; don't take your pay in script!

Thomas P - Thursday, 04/14/05 10:25:02 EDT

Hello, I am a highschool senior that is focusing his final project on blacksmithing. I know a bit about Blacksmithing and am taking lessons from Klaus Duebbert, but I would like to get some questions answered by other smiths that may have a different opinion. The question that is driving my research is "Where is blacksmithing headed in a world where almost everthing is mass produced?"
Now I have answered it myself with "Blacksmithing has become more of an art and less of a professional trade."
What do all of you think about this, both the question and the answer? Also, if possible can you tell me number of years you have practiced and your full names so that I can cite you as sources for my project?

-Matthew Mortimer
Matt - Thursday, 04/14/05 12:09:38 EDT

Matthew: The question is a good one. Your answer shows some insight, and I would be happy to offer a bit more. No surprise there, as those who know me will tell you. (grin)

Yes, blacksmithing has become generally more oriented toward that which is loosely called artistic, rather than purely functional and utilitarian. This however, is not entirely in response to mass production. Nor has that been the case in the past, either.

In the Renaissance, art became highly popular and well suported by patronage from the Church, the monarchies and wealthy patrons. In response to this demand for and support of Art, much that was previously made in a purely utilitarian fashion found itself embellished and decorated when it served no functional purpose. Somewhere on this site is a photo of a magnificent old post vise with elaborate chasing and engraving. Craftsmen of that era took great pride in their tools. The other functional ironwork often received the same attention to detail and design as well.

Look at many of the early metal items that were mass produced and you will see a high level of detail, embellishment, and general artistic involvement. I don't think it was so much mass production itself that diminished the artistic level as it was inexpensive raw materials due to the evolution in mining and steel production. With that change came the shift to cheaper goods in general, and the art was sacrificed in the name of low cost. When low cost became the benchmark of business, the craftsman was shoved aside as unprofitable.

The resurgence of blacksmithing brought back the craft. The most available niche today is that of artist/blacksmith because of modern production methods and super alloys used in mass production don't lend themselves to individual efforts as well as wrought iron did in the past and mild steel does today. The ethos of the current population has a decided effect on what is marketable as well. Perhaps later I will go into this more, but I have to run to a meeting right now.

Richard Waugh, BFA
Metalsmith since 1971
vicopper - Thursday, 04/14/05 13:20:18 EDT

You might want to look into the Arts and Crafts Movement of the beginning of the last century when handicraft was elevated against the "souless products of the factory". Blacksmithing was one of the crafts exalted and many amatuer smiths were encouraged. (Interesting to note that factories began copying the "handcrafted" look ASAP! It is also this movement that popularised the "hammered" look to things as they wanted the final piece to show it was handmade rather than the precision of factory made stuff)

Reading the discussions of handmade vs factory might provide a lot of information for your paper.

Another facet to consider is the technological state of things: in early state of a technology every thing is custom made, expensive, specific. In the middle state things are mass produced cheap and general. In the late stage you can get specialized custom items for not much more than the general ones as the distribution and manufacturing systems become automated enough to allow this to happen---what will change in smithing?

Thomas P - Thursday, 04/14/05 13:31:10 EDT

Dan P, Etal,

It is very easy to forget that this is a public forum and you do not know WHO may be reading. Say anything you want about "things" but avoid attacking people personaly or their work.

Hype and costs of goods.

I suspect some of your ire was at the price of certain hammers. Well, these are low production, hand dressed tools and nobody is making a lot of money on them. The cast hammers are investment castings like the majority of gun parts are these days. This is an expensive process that produces steel parts equal to forgings. The forged hammers are open die forgings made by a number of people. As a hand made product the price IS going to be higher than a production drop forged tool. It is also not an easy forging to make.

In the farrier world there has been "name" hammers for years. In the 1980's these were selling for $80-$90. Today they could easily be double that. At one time Bill Epps was making and selling his diagonal pien hammers and selling them direct for $80. If resold by a retailer they would have to sell for $110 to $130. Its not a rip-off. Its the cost of hand made tools.

As to the value of specialty hammers I have spoken on that many times. I personaly use a standard American blacksmiths pattern hammer for forging. That is my choice and I am happy with it. Many smiths like a square faced hammer and make use of the straight front edge. It takes practice and is a different technique. I LIKE the diagonal pien hammer but would want one with a face similar to what I use now. If someone made one I might buy it at low production prices.

If I were selling something with my name on it would I hype it up. You better believe it! I would not put my name on a product that was not high quality and that I did not believe in. There is a difference in hype and lies.

- guru - Thursday, 04/14/05 13:31:30 EDT

Past and Future of Blacksmithing: Matt,

First many artist-craftfolks ARE professionals. They do what they do in a business like manner as full time occupations. However, you are right in that in most cases the business of being an artist of any kind is not straight forward like being a carpenter or plumber.

Your theme question has been answered by historical events. Blacksmithing is currently thriving as art and a trade.

Thomas mentions the "Arts and Crafts Movement". However, most blacksmiths of the period were not part of this movement, most were makers and repairers of things. Many were the old time general blacksmith and farrier which the automobile put out of business. A few were artist-blacksmiths doing archetictural work. The general blacksmith as well as most doing archetictural work faded from the scene about until about 1960 when you could have almost announced that blacksmithing was dead in the US. Europe has a different history.

Then in the late 1960's and 1970's crafts became big again with the Hippie movement in the US. The modern renaissance in blackmsithing started in the 1970's with the publication of "The Art of Blacksmithing" by Alex Bealer in 1969. Frank Turley opened his school in New Mexico in 1970. ABANA (the Artist Blacksmiths Association of North America) was established by Bealer and a small group of blacksmiths in 1973. Then "Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork" by Dona Meilach and "Edge of the Anvil" by Jack Andrews, were both published in 1977. These books inspired the resurgence of blacksmithing in North America while ABANA provided support to upcoming smiths and Frank Turley gave them a place to learn if they were really serious. Blacksmithing as an art and trade slowly progressed for the next 25 years. Today there are dozens of books on the subject (see our book review page). A list of blacksmithing books and how many were published when will track the resurgence in blacksmiting.

Then in the late 1990's the Internet brought blacksmithing to everyone that had an internet connection. Sites like KeenJunk, and others provided support for new smiths and showed them there was an exciting world of other people with the same desire to shape metal as themselves.

On anvilfire we have not only provided forums to answer questions but we have book reviews and articles on many subjects. We have plans and step by step projects. Our sponsors are the major suppliers of blacksmithing tools whom if you did not know where to look for them might be difficult to find. We help create an International community of blacksmiths that help and support each other.

Today there are an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 professional and hobby smiths in the United States. Globaly that number may be triple that or more. Those on the Internet are aproximately 20,000.

Besides artistic forging there is still a demand for small industrial smithys. Here many many low production tools and parts are produced. Many tools for other blacksmiths and craftsfolks are still made by hand. Jackhammer bits by the millions are sharpened every year by blacksmiths in small shops.

Then there are the architectural smiths that produce railings and other parts for buildings. Some of these are 100% hand forged, some assembled from parts made by others and some have no forgings in them at all. Between those few that produce 100% hand made product and those that produce none there is infinite variations.

Today the modern blacksmith often makes use of modern technologies. Computer guided plasma torch cutting tables are fairly common. Laser cut blanks are purchased but eventualy there will be laser systems in blacksmith shops. As the number of small shops have expanded the demand for small forging machines has created a market and now almost any blacksmith can afford a power hammer.

I suspect blacksmithing to wax and wane in the future but it will never again be as nearly dead as it was in 1960.

Jock Dempsey
- guru - Thursday, 04/14/05 14:26:49 EDT

I was just up in Santa Fe for the Swaba meeting last Saturday, now Santa Fe is not a large city by any account; but the meeting was held in *two* professional shops about 3 blocks apart and a previous meeting had been held at a third professional shop elsewhere in the city---and there may be more that I haven't heard about! Most impressive for a town a fraction of the size of my previous abodse that hand *no* professional smiths in it that I could find in the 15 years I lived there and was active in smithing.

So smithing also has a "location" factor. Santa Fe has a tradition of artists and a tradition of architecture that includes ironwork. Funny one of the Santa Fe smiths was doing a large gate for a customer several hours away---about 10 miles from my place...he also does production work table legs drawn down from thick stock for a designer firm in Chicago.

Thomas P - Thursday, 04/14/05 15:25:42 EDT

Farriers must be more willing to spend their hard earned money than blacksmiths. I've sold turning hammers and nailing hammers for more than $100 for the last 20 years. "It's not what the tool costs but how much money it will make for you". I just recently spent about 6 shop hours making a Hofi style hammer and alot of scrap in the process. $100 would be cheap.
brian robertson - Thursday, 04/14/05 18:16:22 EDT

hammers: When I still worked in the old factory, we made hammers for a major brand. We are talking a complete line of 1# to 18# sledges. Made from plain 1050. Made in a 1500 ton press in 4 hits in a closed die. Last hit was a trim. The "normalize was letting them sit in the hot box with all the other forgings. The heat treat was rather simple, get it hot, put them on a conveyor and squirt water on the faces as they went by. The press was on about a 30 stroke/ minute. Made by the truck full. These sell for about $30.oo for a 2 1/2# blacksmith style. Now compare this to an open die, hand finished, well heat treated hammer, made in the several hundred a year. $100 is about right. If you want a excellent hammer you can buy a hand made, hand finished hammer for $80 to $100. Or if you are very lucky as I was and raid the scrap box for the hammers that missed heat treat, you can spend hours of your time and still make an excellent hammer. I suppose that one can buy a hammer at the hardware, and use it, cause I did. Then after reading alot and going to demos, I finally learned what a hammer finish looks like. Still don't have a Hofi, cause I now have useable hammers and four kids to school.(two in college next year!) But I wish I could afford one!
ptree - Thursday, 04/14/05 18:55:02 EDT

Paw Paw-- Your Mrs. is right! Natch! And buy it pronto, too, if you can, or it won't be there when you go back! I mean, hell's bells, that's only foresight, against the day you need that tool, right? 3dogs-- Many thanks, and you're welcome! On this old old craft vs. art question, look, it just reassures some people to buy stuff in a gallery with stark white walls and gorgeous hardwood floors, and pay a lot of money. It ratifies their judgment. Gee whiz, if it's in a flea market, how could it possibly be ART? And besides, as a Native American silversmith tells John Adair in Adair's classic book, Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths, charging a lot gives the customer something to brag about! Santa Fe-- all these smiths are here mainly 'cause apples fall close to the tree: Turley's smiting academy is here, where a lot of them learned. And, so are the high-end customers who need quality gates and stuff for their savings-and-loan sized casas.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 04/14/05 19:44:05 EDT

Santa Fe and Arts and Crafts: Santa Fe is definitely a good location for arts and craftwork; you can hardly spit without hitting a gallery or an antique store or a museum. Ironically, (especially if you read Frank Turley's and Marc Simmons book on Southwestern Colonial Ironwork), Santa Fe was at the end of a long supply chain from Spain through Mexico, with few local resources for smelting iron (they were more interested in more valuable metals anyway). Therefore, during the early settlement period ironwork was used sparingly and when nothing else would do.

Still, a cool burgh; I'm waiting for my work to take me back there again. (Instead, I get to Omaha in June...) Ah well.

"Santa Fe is a very colorful town... if you like six shades of mud!" (Uncle Atli's Very Thin Book of Wisdom)
Do Yu Know the Way to Santa Fe?
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 04/14/05 22:01:28 EDT

Santa Fe: Santa Fe Conventional wisdom says that there is SUPPOSED to be mucho ornamental iron in Santa Fe, but almost all the finely done work and large scale ironwork was done below the Rio Grande. The few small pieces of iron that found their way to Santa Fe on the Chuhuahua Trail were made into objects like spurs, bridle bits, locks, and gun parts. Many window grilles are still made of wood in the Santa Fe area, because the early ones were made of wood, and it became a matter of style.

I've been "blamed" for the large number of smiths per capita in the Santa Fe area, but I don't think it's my fault. And it seems as though each smithy has its own specialty, so the guys and gals are not always stepping on each other's toes.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 04/14/05 23:22:16 EDT

Hammers: I agree with ptree. I got a combo cross/straight pein for $60.00 from Jackpine Forge at Quad last year. My shop rate is 50.00/hr. I couldn't make this quality of hammer in an hour. It would take me several hours. That is time I could be earning money. If he had said the hammer was 100 bucks it still would have been worth the money. Don't think I spend that much on all my hammers, most are flea market finds. But you cant always find what you need at flea markets
- Jeff G - Thursday, 04/14/05 23:51:34 EDT

Make vs Buy: The nice thing about being a hobbiest is that I never have to think in terms of how much money will the tool earn me. When someone asks how much my time is worth, the dollar value is pretty much 0. The fun value is close to infinite. So if it's snowing out, I have to choose between paying someone to plow, leaving me free to play in the shop, or spending a couple hours shoveling by myself. Since fun value is infinite, the $35 plowing fee pales in comparison.

I'm looking forward to making the hammer, just for the experience. And the $100 I don't use to buy the hammer will pay for hours in the shop next winter.

But I have no doubt the hammer is worth every one of those 10,000 pennies. My mentor, Ken, was a farrier. When I first started learning, I saw a Champion rounding hammer on eBay going for $90. I was scoffing at the ridiculous price, but Ken just looked at me and said, "Yeah, that's what they go for."
- Marc - Friday, 04/15/05 08:26:24 EDT

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