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

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

Blazing off: I love those old timey descriptions. They tell you just enough to get you into trouble. I had read about the process before. I had wondered about the tempering of long springs such as one finds on fine carriages, for example. I suppose that blazing off was a method that was used. I think Schwarzkopf says that the blazing off can be repeated using the reserved heat from the previous blazing. There is another brief description in Tiemann's "Iron and Steel". It seems simpler than that in the "Complete Practical Machinist". You simply coat the spring with oil and heat it over a fire until the oil flashes and blazes off. If that isn't enough temper, you quickly coat the warmed spring with oil again, and repeat the blaze off. Theoretically, this should give a higher temp than the first try.
Frank Turley - Saturday, 03/31/07 18:20:55 EST

sand casting flasks: I have some sand casting forms (flasks?) plus several bins of differant grades of sand and cassanite that I will trade (or sell) for something of use to me...I thought at one time I would try ny hand at casting...but I have way too much to do to take up a new pastime I will trade for useable metal ( I could use some h13 for hammer dies) or tools for blacksmithing use

I am located in Odessa Ontario Canada

for pics of the items
Mark P - Tuesday, 04/03/07 09:05:03 EDT

Blacksmithing's Greats: I posted acouple of months ago about pictures and names of blacksmithing greats for a report for class. Well I got my paper back and I got an "A" on it.

I want to thank all of thoughs who gave me names and links for some of my info. I really apreciate your help I know that it affected my great in a positive way.

- Tim - Tuesday, 04/03/07 17:25:11 EDT

Tim, Congratulations!: Good work on getting an "A" on your report. Hard work and perseverance does pay off, doesn't it?

And, just as importantly, congratulations on being a gentleman of the forum. That is, one who asks politely, uses the informaiton given, and then is considerate enough to take a moment to say, "Thank you." I, for one, appreciate that simple gesture more than you can know.

A number of here spend a fair amount of time and energy tyring to give thoughful, accurate answers to questions, and too often we never hear another word from the person who asked the question. That can get disheartening at times, but when someone comes back to say thanks like you did, it makes it worthwhile. So, thank you!
vicopper - Tuesday, 04/03/07 19:07:14 EDT

It's all about respect, and manners. I've been checking out the form for a couple of years and know the great amount of knowledge that is floating around this place.

Maybe I'll see some of you at Quad State

Thanks Again
Tim - Tuesday, 04/03/07 21:31:02 EDT

Camp fenby and Personal Priorities: We have scheduled Camp Fenby for the last weekend in June/start of July to have the best chance of a good date and a good event.

You may notice that I have not been very active on the list of late. I'm in an uncomfoprtable spot right now, and more than a little grouchy. I've been running up to NYC one or two days a week for almost a month, and getting up at 02:00 isn't bad, until the next day. 8-P Therefore, I have decided that I have to follow these three prioriteis:

1) I have a number of very critical projects at the National Park Service with very definite deadlines. Add to that the usual follies with the auditors and (now) the GSA Inspector General, and the lack of
staff (we now, officially, have NO clerical help; the files are sliding actross my cubicle floor in drifts), and you can see that staying employed may be attracting the greater part of my attention.

2) Getting the house built. We continue to bleed money with each change and modification; but this also entails packing for the move in May-be-June and emptying out the barn and the present forge. Chaos,
of course, ensues. If there is any money left over, we will be stabilizing the old (ca. 1830) barn and having a 24' X 26' pole barn built for the new forge. Work shops and crab feasts should then ensue. God(s) willing, all of this is to be squared away before June 29.

3) The Longship Company has voted to proceed with the Norfolk Expedition to attend Sail Virginia with the other tall ships ( ). I will be working with our officers and crew, and putting out a recruiting notice to old friends and old hands. Not only do I have to make the arrangements, but there is a good chance that I may not be available for part or all of the trip, due to the above two factors.

So, as you can see, any help with Camp Fenby would be well received. Our friends (and suvivors of Jock's "Blacksmith's Hammer Crab Opening Technique"), Lydia and Terese, are already on the case, and others may feel free to pitch-in.

My "asylum" e-mail is presently down due to a computer worm (do not open anything marked "wedding invitation" purportedly from E-Wedding unless you know it's legit. I thought it was due to a recent
announcement, but, surprise, it wasn't from the expected person. My anti-virus keeps finding it and can't delete it, so I'm playing it safe with my friends.

Well, here's hoping we can pull everything together, and I'll be able to welcome you tothe new Oakley Forge at Grey Havens on the 29th of June.



Sail Virginia Website; Tallships In Norfolk in June
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 04/03/07 22:51:18 EDT

Looking for 40-70lb anvil in MN: I am looking for a 40 to 70 pound anvil if anyone in the general Twin Cities area has one they want to sell. I am trying to set up a forge that I can bring to Fur Trade reenactments. as a way to contain costs, my concept is "Can I build a forge setup that could fit into a 15 foot bark canoe with room left over for two paddlers and the smith?"

Parcels for portage in the Fur Trade were generally limited to 90 pounds, and 70 pounds is about the most that I want to carry accross a campground, hence the weight limit. This is for a hobby, and I am not looking to forge anything bigger than an axe head at this point. I'll look for a larger anvil when time and space allow.

If anyone has an unused anvil in that range, and needs the space for something else, I would love to hear from you.
- Kjotvi - Wednesday, 04/04/07 00:51:16 EDT

My e-mail: I'm brand new to this forum, and didn't realize how the email was handled. Contact me at: kjotvi(at) (I get more than enough spam already).
- Kjotvi - Wednesday, 04/04/07 00:53:40 EDT

70 pound anvil: Nc tools sells a 70 pound farrier anvil. I would try a horseshoeing forum some guys start with a small anvil & upgrade to a larger one as time goes by. Might be a few floating around.
- ML - Wednesday, 04/04/07 09:31:30 EDT

70# anvil: Tune into headquartered in St. Paul. Click on The Exchange, and insert your quest.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 04/04/07 09:51:24 EDT

iron: could some one tell me a sorce for Pure iron i know there is some new places providing it but i cant remember there names thanks
- msc - Wednesday, 04/04/07 10:36:01 EDT

An old rancher gve me a cast steel sweedish anvil of 61#---but I gave it to the fine arts dept because they had broken their last anvil---So put up a notice at the CoOp!

Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/04/07 10:45:50 EDT

Pure Iron:
Wagner Companies is the current purveyor of Pure Iron.
Wagner Pure Iron
- guru - Wednesday, 04/04/07 12:47:44 EDT

Small Anvils:
For portability I would want one pretty small, maybe 50 pounds or less. The trick is that as anvils get into this smaller size range the price goes UP. Old small anvils sell for more than new.

Peddinghaus used to make a cute little 45 pound anvil which would be perfect for this type thing. However, they are out of production.

MFC used to make a small hollow anvil but they have dropped the smaller one which would be just right.

Centaur Forge is selling a little Cliff Carroll 35 lb. Anvil. Kind of ugly but it is the right weight and price range.
- guru - Wednesday, 04/04/07 13:03:49 EDT

Little Peddinghaus's: Peddinghous discontinued their 45lb as of January of 2006, but they haven't released their new catalog, so its still listed to bring that headdy flush of false hope until ttey tell you it's no longer available (curse my poor timing!). I have been lusting after teir 75lb model, but the $599 price tage is a bit beyond my personal comfort zone.

Bid on a c1800 55 lb english wrought iron anvil on e-bay that had the form and credentials for me to believe it, but a furnace replacement prevented me bidding high enough. It still went for less than a comperably sized Czhech anvil (again, sigh).

I will check the St Paul link, Thanks!
Kjotvi - Wednesday, 04/04/07 14:07:55 EDT

Turkey: We just had a female wild turkey in the yard, for about 40 min. WE have turkeys in the general area, but I hadn't seen one closer than about 2 miles. She was between the house and shop. She just walked off into the woods. I hope she stays and raises a family. I think this place is good habitat, with open spaces and woods.
- John Odom - Wednesday, 04/04/07 19:34:48 EDT

COBALIDE 1: i HAVE SOME METAL RODS MARKED cobalide 1 which I got from an old blacksmiths shop You cant mark them with file or hacksaw but you can snap them in half Were they used for hard facing and could they be used in knife making
- bluey - Wednesday, 04/04/07 21:30:59 EDT

Cobalide: This was a hardfacing welding rod. It was used fro hardfacing ag. implements and earth moving surfaces.

I think it is too brittle for knives.
John Odom - Thursday, 04/05/07 07:28:58 EDT

Thanks: Thank's very much John Odom I've being trying to find out about those rods for quite a few years.We don't have any wild turkeys in Tasmania But I did have a native devil cat come and kill some of our chickens
bluey - Thursday, 04/05/07 19:46:12 EDT

Wildlife: We're in the high desert of Santa Fe at 7,000 feet. We have small open areas between our small trees, along with a sprinkling of prickly pear and cholla cactus. About once a week, we get visited by a family of Scaled quail. They are named for their feathers, each of which has a curved scaly appearance. They have a topknot kind of like a whitish cap, not like the larger topknot of the California quail. They have a "lookout", a chosen one who stands on top of the doghouse. Anything untoward occurring, and they thunder away. Fun to watch.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 04/05/07 20:54:05 EDT

That is what I miss about not living in our old Grist Mill. About this time of year the Sucker (fish) run occurs and the water in the creek is positively frothy with them. Shortly after the run there has been a family of otters that spend a day below the mill dam catching fish before they continue their migration upsteam. Not too many weeks after that the Wood ducks babies hatch and the creek is full of little baby ducks making their whistling peep peep sound. I could mimic it and have them come to me which REALLY upset their mother. Wood ducks are about 1/3 the size of a Mallard and are very shy.

I had to chase a young raccoon out of the house a couple years ago. He had found my wife's collection of stuffed animals and was dragging them around and playing with them. . . I almost had to shoot him to get him out. A few B-B's stung him enough that he got the idea he was not welcome.

All year we have squirels that would hop from the Walnut tree to the roof of my shop and run across the tin. In the same tree one year I watched 4 varieties of wood pecker in about two weeks.

The mill pond has beavers which are quite destructive but are fun to watch. One December my then 7 year old son comes running in saying "Their stealing our Christmas trees, their stealing our Christmas trees!" and sure enough, just outside his bedroom window a beaver was dragging away a young pine tree and had been busy through the night as evidenced by the dozen or so stumps where our planned Christmas trees were growing. .

You name something that lives in our Eastern forests we have them at the Mill. Turkeys, rabits, foxes (both red and grey), coyote, deer, turtles, ground hogs, beaver, otter, squirels, hawks, doves, blue birds, hummers, field mice (the cute ones like Mickey, not the same as house mice), five varieties of snakes. . all in a couple acres all at once on many days.

Although I still live out in the country the wildlife is restricted to humming birds and the Kill Deer that nest in the gravel next to the driveway. Too many farms and creeping suburbia with pets. . .
The Old Grist Mill Fauna
- guru - Thursday, 04/05/07 21:52:13 EDT

A little sauger related trivia: I didn't know the Sauger migrated with such enthusiasm!

When the US learned around 1800 about the lead deposits in what is now southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, they negotiated a treaty and bought a parcel of land to mine the metal for the obvious military as well as economic purposes. Prospectors came in droves (and canoes, keelboats, pirogues and anything else they could find), and early Illinoians came to be known as "Suckers" for their sauger-like seasonal migrations from St Louis to the lead mining district and back.

Many spilled over north into indian territory as they followed the lead veins, took to building their houses over the opening to their "diggin's" and stayed up there mining all winter. These became known as "Badgers" due to their spending most of their time burrowing after the lead, as well as their secretive and distrusting ways (living outside of the treaty area, there was no legal protection for their claims).

So that is why the University of "Wisconsin" teams are called the Badgers, but I wouldn't want to call anyone from Chicago a "Sucker" to their face!
- Kjotvi - Thursday, 04/05/07 22:50:12 EDT

FYI, herewith a sign of the decline of practically everything: in an antique shoppe in Bernalillo, NM there sits today bolted down atop a dessicated cottonwood stump an "anvil" whacked out of a hunk of good-sized RR track, looks as if it had been done by a drunk using an O/A torch for the first time. Price: $255.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 04/06/07 00:12:31 EDT

Miles, I have seen a couple of those as well. I thought that someone was trying to create instant antiques. Many would not know the difference.
I may have seen 1000 hoof nippers listed as "tongs"
The best was a "Civil War" forge. Rusted out rivit forge, with a pressed steel Buffalo Forge crank blower, $1250. The same place had "very old" RR spikes, quite rusty, some track plate wear, $5.00 each. They were head stamped HC.
ptree - Friday, 04/06/07 06:13:35 EDT

Pulloff pincers: ...and about 1,000 pulloff pincers listed as hoof nippers.
Sometimes it works in reverse. My old cast iron forge, sans firepot, was sitting on the sidewalk in front of a 2nd hand store, Kingman, Arizona. The proprietor said, "That sure is a funny looking table, and with a hole in it!" I agreed that it was indeed, funny looking. Could I take it off his hands?
$50 twenty-five years ago. Coulda' been worse.
Frank Turley - Friday, 04/06/07 07:37:35 EDT

iron : thans for the iron info. Mat
msc - Friday, 04/06/07 10:21:42 EDT

Tools: Wellll. . . I'm afraid I do not know the difference between pulloffs and nippers. Need to know.

Most of the time it is better for antique dealers NOT to know what they have. I picked up a little cobblers hammer at an antique shop with intent to buy. It was only $2 (many years ago). The lady operating the store asked me if I knew what it was and I said SURE, its a shoe makers hammer. She snatched it out of my hands so fast that I didn't notice and suddenly it wasn't for sale. . . Not a big loss, I just wanted it as a curiosity. But I'm sure it was for sale the next weekend at a much higher price.

On ebay everyone tries to identify everything as a blacksmiths tool. Every rusted pair of pliers are tongs and every heavy hunk of iron is an anvil.

The problem IS, that not every blacksmith's tool is a good tool either. For years I have seen heavy cludgy tongs that were useless for anything. Heavy bits that only fit maybe 1/8" stock and reins from 5/8" to 3/4" round! They were obviously not made by a blacksmith and I used to call them "farmer tongs". However, a few years ago I found a dealer at a flea market that had a crate full of them. Out of 50 pairs of tongs there were two or three that were useful. I asked him where he got so many farmer tongs. He said they came from an old trade school. . . Now THAT explained it! Every student in every blacksmithing class had to make a pair of tongs as a project. The instructors were themselves not necessarily blacksmiths either so the result was mountains of tongs that are only worth the metal in them if THAT. But antique dealers get the same price for them as genuinely useful tongs.

Many years ago I would buy every pair of tongs I found and most were pretty decent. Prices in the early 70's ran about $8/pair. But by the late 70's the prices had doubled and most of the tongs were trade school "farmer" tongs. Today you buy NEW tongs that are well made for about the same as what most antique shops want for useless ones. . .
- guru - Friday, 04/06/07 11:09:40 EDT

Tools: I bought a rivet forge w/buffalo blower for $175.00 last year in the high desert of los angeles county.
Maybe I should try to find some more & see if I can get $1,200.00 a piece (wink)
- ML - Friday, 04/06/07 11:17:35 EDT

Pulloff clarification.: The old manufactured pulloffs, primarily by Heller and Champion, were usually 14" long with ball-end reins or acorn-end reins, for easy identification. For a while, Heller Bros made beautiful 16½" pulloffs, probably intended for draft horse use. The large tapered jaws made an oval shape when closed.

About 30 years ago or so, GE came out with a small version, a combo pulloff and nail nipper, about 12" long. They are still being sold. At long last, a pulloff became a nipper, but not a hoof nipper! The hoof nipper is a separate entity.
Frank Turley - Friday, 04/06/07 13:57:48 EDT

ptree-- This looks like a genuine oldie, but the price is outrageous. Back maybe 30 years or so ago I bought one such stump/anvil off the front porch of a jewelry supply shop in Gallup for $25 and thought that was high then. They are too light for blacksmithing, but do work fine for smiting silver-- although they ring with a shrill piercing clang that gets to the old inner ear quickly.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 04/06/07 16:55:26 EDT

Saddest case of misidentification I have ever seen was a big, beeyoootiful old Go game board, several inches thick, nicely-turned feet, all scuffed and scarred, for sale at the Santa Fe flea by some moron who thought it was a cheese board. Brand new such a board in the Zen Book Shop in NYC was going for $300 20 years ago.
- Miles Undercut - Friday, 04/06/07 17:04:44 EDT

I bought a Fairbanks Morse 2Hp hit or miss today. In the next stall was a collection of old(WWII to late 60's) aircraft instruments and other oddball military instruments and tools etc. His were priced pretty fair.
ptree - Friday, 04/06/07 19:20:21 EDT

The proof of the pudding: I just now tuned into eBay and searched "Heller farrier" and came up with three old pulloffs labeled nippers.
Frank Turley - Friday, 04/06/07 20:41:29 EDT

Frank, large file coming your way.
- guru - Saturday, 04/07/07 06:11:49 EDT

Education: I am a retired public school teacher. All the while, I had to do chemical consulting work on the side to make ends meet. The pay of a chemistry teacher is way below that of a chemist. I also spent from $1000 to $5000 a year for supplies and equipment the school system could not furnish.

My kids did very well in college chemistry.

Money is not the answer, but it is part of the answer. The schools do need more money.

Many of my collegues in other county schools were not competent. The text books contain blatent errors. The required tests contain errors.

I miss the kids, but I'm glad I retired!

I have a lot of ideas that would help make the schools more effective. Unfortunately, here at least the burocracy is too entrenched to allow more than isolated islands of improvement. They don't want to improve, if it means changing the way they have always done it..
- John Odom - Saturday, 04/07/07 15:38:31 EDT

Instant antiques: I visited an antique store and saw a pitcher pump, listed as "very old." It was rusted on the outside. I saw some of what I thought was sandblast grit. When I went out to the car, I saw a nother building with the sound of a big compressor. I walked over and saw a palet of pitcher pumps, "Made in China" on the boxes.
The kid in the building was grinding off the "Made in China" on the castings, sandblasting the outside of them, and rusting them with bleach. He said his boss sold them to antique shops all over the south.
- John Odom - Saturday, 04/07/07 15:48:16 EDT

Hello, I would like to thanks, for all the info you have up here on the site, Im a lifelong craftsman, but a new blacksmith, so I spend a lot of time trying to educate myself on the topic, and ward off as much ignorance and avoid personal foolishness as much as possible. I really appreciate the info that is easily available here.
Heres a question I havent totally found the answer to yet, I just purchased a green river #3 vise, how were they made? It looks and sounds to be cast, although heavy and stable, Im not sure it was ment to seriously hammered on? Wich brings the other question, what purpose was it originally designed for? I can see it being very handy and versitile, but could only guess that it might have been specialized for perhaps heading bolts. Chances are, youve covered this at some point, but I havent found the info yet.
Thanks Jared
- Jared - Saturday, 04/07/07 17:45:25 EDT

Bench Vise: Jared I know Green River brand was made by Green River by the Noyes Foundry Company, Greenfield, Massachusetts. I do not have anything with their vices.

Standard bench vises are designed for sawing filing and light bending or tapping with a hammer. When they get over 50 pounds or so and do not have a swivel base they become what was known as "chipping" vises. Theses were used to carve, file and scrape parts made from cast iron and other metals. The weight and rigid base were needed for this type hammering. If it had a swivel base it is generally a machinists vice.

The only vices really designed to take hammering are blacksmiths leg vices and special forged steel
- guru - Sunday, 04/08/07 01:10:32 EDT

I should have been more complete and specific, The vise I have has the jaw actuated by the foot pedal, is built around a freestanding cylindrical pedistal, with a set of die blocks set ahead of the jaws, with what I might call an adjustable upsetting block, below the die set. Its labeled green river #3, Willy and Russell Greenfield Mass. Must be the same manufacturer with a name change at some point. This model seems to be the only "foot" vise Ive ever seen, makes me wonder if they were intended for a specialized purpose. It seems to be built and set up for smithing, everyone Ive talked to assumed they were meant for hammering on, but its very obviously not forged as a leg vise would be, and the tubular cast pedistal is not all that heavy. I have not been able to find any history on this vise or its manufacturer to help me.
To expand on that question, is there a good/easy way to identify between between a good ductile iron tool or vise, and a lower grade cast iron one, when looking at a mysterious tool? Thanks
- Jared - Sunday, 04/08/07 01:55:00 EDT

Green River Vise: These were used either for heading bolts (with jaws having heading dies incorporated in them), or for making caulks for horse shoes, as i understand. The upsetting stop is usually designed so that it is on a "rack" with teeth ot provide a positive stop. Some of these vises have the grooves for forming caulks/clips in a block just aft of the vise jaws, and others don't. They ARE designed to be pounded on, but not with a 16# sledge.

The closed dimension of the jaws can be adjusted by the toggle clamping setting. For heading a production run of bolts or big rivets, they're really very handy. With plainjaws, they are great for holding pieces for filing or bending, again best when youare doiong several pieces of stock with the same thickness. Set the jaw opening and then put pieces in and out very quickly with the foot pedal. Much faster than a screw vise, but slower than an air vise, of course.

Tony Bartol made an improved version of this concept and had a picture posted on the old Keenjunk site. If you contact him by email, he might be willing to mail you the picture if you'd like to try making your own.
vicopper - Sunday, 04/08/07 02:43:23 EDT

Caulking Heading Vice:
VIcopper cover this fairly well and I had forgotten about the Greenfield vices. The company that made these went by several names over the years but I believe it was always the same company.

These are quite valuable tools and as collectors pieces. Due to the complexity of the pivoting jaws these are expensive to make and a vise with several sets is much more valuable (and useful) than one wihout. Under normal conditions there is a return spring that opens the jaws (which is often missing).
- guru - Sunday, 04/08/07 15:33:50 EDT

I have been given a box ( about 150 ) of cutoff arrows from a fletchers shop, most are 6" to 8" long and alum. Any ideas for a use? I just couldn't say no.
daveb - Tuesday, 04/10/07 13:34:24 EDT

hola from the south: Hello from Renosa Mexico, where I'm helping out on the move of more of our assembly lines from Illinois to mexico. While at the airport in Houston, I happen to set down by a guy who's also a smith. have already forgotten his name, but a nice guy who recently had the honor of transporting a yelin chandellier in the back of his pick up to get it from one shop to another. It was nice to have someone to talk to about something fun for a change.

- Mike Sa - Tuesday, 04/10/07 16:38:48 EDT

In the Denver Airport I met a teenager who lived in Saudi Arabia in an ARAMCO compound who recognixed that I was making chainmaille and we had a great conversation during a boring wait.

It's surprising who you'll find if you start talking with folks---shoot I even talk to myself!

Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/10/07 16:59:46 EDT

I have met many interesting people in airports while traveling. I always try to strike up a conversation with my seat mates on long flights to reduce the boredom. It probably drives them nuts but so far they have always had interesting stories.

I met a lady from Florida that wrote children's books and elementary education books. We had a long conversation about how people learn and how children needed to be treated a "little people" rather than anything less. She was going on a retreat in Costa Rica and I met her again on the return flight and we compared experiences which was a lot of fun.

During a layover in Miami I met a fellow on the (long-long) people mover who had just come back from Columbia where he was visiting his wife. They had planned on her moving to the U.S. with him but had gotten caught in the post 9/11 security crack down and she could not enter the U.S. He said he was a "businessman" but I would guess DEA or CIA.

I met a youngster on a short connector flight that had been working as a disk jockey on a cruise ship. He was from Salt Lake City. I asked how the heck a kid from Utah gets a job on a cruise ship in the Bahammas. . .

I've yet to meet another smith on a flight.
- guru - Wednesday, 04/11/07 10:39:26 EDT

Thomas's pattern-welded pizza cutter: Thomas, I have seen the pics of your creation and I must say the following: Neat-o!

Thomas's pizza mutilating device
Alan-L - Wednesday, 04/11/07 10:48:52 EDT

Thanks Alan. It was kind of fun to make; unfortunately my wife wants one so I get to make a better one for her---I'm thinking of trying a radial ladder pattern for the cutting disk for hers.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/11/07 11:07:44 EDT

Pizza Killer: That looks real nice Thomas. Something for the guy that has everything:)
-Aaron @ the SCF
- thesandycreekforge - Wednesday, 04/11/07 13:12:28 EDT

This-n-that: Dave b, forgive my ignorance (and spelling)but what is a fletchers shop?

Thomas, I agree about talking with people. I've talked to strangers who know some people I know. It really is a small world. Isn't it something like three degrees of separation from someone you know, or something like that?
- Doug - Wednesday, 04/11/07 16:35:21 EDT

Green River Vise: I had a Green River foot pedal vise for some years 'till my now ex-wife (who was tired of looking at it) and the neighbor's farrier talked me into selling it. IIRC the movable jaw was shaped so that it fell away from the fixed jaw when you let off the pedal. Most ingenious. The main parts were held together entirely by gravity.

The leverage system gave it a remarkably solid grip for the amount of force on the pedal, I'd guess the pedal lever was about 6:1 and the movable jaw at least another 2:1, so for putting my 165# on the pedal, the jaws closed with a force of nearly a ton! A pretty good squish for something which engaged and disengaged immediately and hands free!

I hope the guy who invented the contraption was well paid, 'cause that was one slick design.
John Lowther - Wednesday, 04/11/07 16:46:09 EDT

My best friend in public school was named "Fletcher Smith", I've also been an avid archer at one time. . .

A fletcher is and arrow maker and fletchings are the feathers or fins on the arrow. Tis and old English term and you find many with the name Fletcher.

A fletcher cut split and shaped the arrows as well as fitting point, fletchings and knock. The feathers must be carefully spaced and aligned. They can be straight (most common) or have a slight twist to cause the arrow to rotate. Flu-flu fletchings are when the feather is wrapped in a tight spiral around the arrow. These make noise, rotate rapidly and go a VERY short distance (10 to 20 feet). Supposedly they are good for close quarters small game so you do not lose your arrow. I've made a few just for fun. The knock is the split fitting for the bow string to rid in. Most modern arrows use a streamlined smooth plastic fitting.

End of arrow making lesson. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 04/11/07 23:17:43 EDT

Green River: I had a Green River vice that I bought from the infamous late Wild Bill Gishner. It had jaws he and another fellow had modified for nail making and was missing the spring and upsetting block. I paid too much and sold it for the same about 10 years later. . .

It would have been handy with the complete set of jaws but was almost useless as it was. So getting some of my investment back was something. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 04/11/07 23:21:51 EDT

Fletcher: Thanks guru, and I thought I had learned everything. Well Dave B, what could those be used for? Maybe tops for fence pickets? Maybe a sculpture? Lots of possibilities.
- Doug - Thursday, 04/12/07 08:02:26 EDT

The late, great Bill Gichner was a tool dealer who had probably forgotten more about smithing than most of us will ever know. He knew what his stuff was worth and that they weren't likely to be making any more of it any time soon, and priced it accordingly. His family's ironworks in Washington, D.C. did the fence and gates around the White House and other notable architectural ironwork. Bill was good to his friends.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 04/12/07 11:33:11 EDT

Doug, The Guru is correct, again. These are basically an aluminum tube,(the end cutoff of an arrow) extremely thin. I was going to use them for wind chimes, but they don’t ring much at all. I’ll probably bring some for the CSI hammerin iron-in-the hat table.
daveb - Thursday, 04/12/07 11:48:34 EDT

Dave B: take two cuttoffs and mount a broadhead on one and a nock and fletching on the other now stick a piece of wire in the unused holes nad bend it so it will fit over your head. Put on a hat and start complaining about a headache.

Of course you could go my way and mount them to the hat

How about fixing them up for the moving arrow on a weathervane?, Sheet metal broadhead and fletchings, bearing between the teo pieces.

Swage them till they will take a ballpoint insert and make "arrow pens"

Make a vest patterned of the plains indian's ones with the rows of bone cylinders---a sort of arrow shirt.

build a "jailhouse" cage for a pet rodent or bird from them.

Forge them down to hold a carbide scribe

forge one in to be slightly tight on a round soapstone and tap the other end for a bolt to advance it.

leave them all over the floor so burglers step on them and ballistically impact the various large rusty metal objects in the shop.

make miniature "cupids arrows" with a piece of paper tied around the shaft for hand delivered love letters

Cut them down and sharpen one end to make your own tire puncture strips for those folks who roar around your house late at night.

Thomas the caffeine is strong today!
Thomas P - Thursday, 04/12/07 12:50:32 EDT

RE: Post Vise: Looking to buy a 100+lb. post vise in good condition. Would prefer a 6+" jaw. No need for fancy paint. Just not interested in paying "antique" prices on Ebay.

If you have one or know where I can get one for a reasonable price, please contact me at:
- BGeisler - Thursday, 04/12/07 14:38:02 EDT

Ben; I assume that since you do not post a location you don't care how many hundreds of dollars you have to pay for shipping. If this is not the case; please post a zipcode at least (if you are in the USA) or other general descriptive if you are in a different country.

Thomas P - Thursday, 04/12/07 14:57:10 EDT

Sorry about that- I'm in Idaho (83221), USA. Ideally I'd be able to find one in the mid/southwest area.
BGeisler - Thursday, 04/12/07 19:50:52 EDT

Thanks, Thomas. The weathervane sounds do-able, soapstone holder too. I can't leave them on the floor, I'd forget about them and that would be ME bouncing around the shop. :)
daveb - Friday, 04/13/07 09:53:00 EDT

DaveB; I'd be happy to come over and cleanup your shop whilst you were still in the hospital....

Thomas P - Friday, 04/13/07 14:51:32 EDT

new apprentice, old anvil: is there a welding rod to build up the face of an old anvil that has seen much use/abuse? found an old peter wright but it does need a "face lift"
- nathan - Friday, 04/13/07 14:53:47 EDT

Thomas is that cleanup or cleanout? I try not to use the word clean too much around the house. It causes the wife to think the wrong way and that can cause me to lose a prefectly good day in the forge. ( She just got a new carpet cleaner ).
daveb - Friday, 04/13/07 15:37:55 EDT

Dave; lets just say you'd have a lot more room for new equipment.

Nathan; you don't need to post your questions on both forums. See answer over at the Guru's Den.

Thomas P - Friday, 04/13/07 17:01:53 EDT

Hi All: Hi all from the north country. Canada Ontario. No snow now been fishing alot. Thought I drop in and say to you all. SIte looking good as always. Be good and keep the hammers working.
- Barney - Friday, 04/13/07 20:32:56 EDT

Barney, long time no hear. . . Going to CanIron? Long ways off for me but its been a couple years since I went so thingking about it.
- guru - Saturday, 04/14/07 10:38:58 EDT

Tradgedy at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.:
Our condolences go out to friends, friends of friends instructors and family. It is a sad sad day.

My brothers and sister in law went to Tech, my brother Dan and his wife were married on the grounds of Tech, my daughter went to Tech and we have cousins that work at Tech. Virginia Tech is family in some way to most Virginians and we are all shocked and saddened by the horrible events of the day.

We are all waiting for answers but there will be no satisfactory answers. There is no satisfactory answer to the WHY did this happen and WHY did it happen to us?

Keep the faith Hokeys.
- guru - Tuesday, 04/17/07 18:59:17 EDT

building a gas forge: I'm thinking of building a propane forge. Is there anywhere where I can get cheap materials? Or does anyone have any spare parts they're willing to let go? I had a coal forge built of local stone and cement. It worked ok, but I would like to get a consistant temperature for making folded blades. I'm in Charlottesville, Virginia. E-mail is
dana - Tuesday, 04/17/07 21:53:18 EDT

Gas forge parts: Dana, cheap is relative, and low quality iffy stuff is not what you want when injecting potentially explosive pressurized gasses into 2400 degree enclosures. One of the best sources for parts is Darren Ellis of Ellis Custom Knifeworks in Knoxville, TN. The Guru here sells inswool and ITC products in the Anvilfire store as well.

On a final note, don't use the term "folded." It brands you as a newbie. "Pattern welded" is the preferred term, "Damascus" works in a pinch.

Good luck on your forgebuilding, and if you're free May 4th-6th come down to Bristol, TN for a knifemakers' hammerin. Darren will be there selling stuff or will deliver if you don't want to pay shipping, and some world experts of gas forges and pattern-welded steels will be there too. We're even gonna make our own steel from iron ore, then forge it into a blade. is the link you need to get there.
Ellis Custom Knifeworks
Alan-L - Wednesday, 04/18/07 10:16:41 EDT

Dana, I work for NRAO in Socorro NM, (headquarters in CV VA); places to look for materials are kiln/pottery supply for refractories; or boiler repair places - sometimes they will give you "scrap" that is bigger than what is needed for a forge!

For a regulator I have used acetylene regulators from the fleamarket---make sure it's marked for use with all fuel gasses. Or sometimes you can buy a high pressure propane regulator---often attached to a weed burner or deep fryer, if you can find one where the "tool" is damaged but the regulator is fine you can often pick them up for a dollar or two.

The shell should be free and scrounged. Blackpipe fittings are often fleamarket finds as well as pipedope.

Propane tanks with new valves are running $15 at the fleamarket here; but if you live in an upscale area they are sometimes thrown out at the end of the BBQ season, often along with the grill often still with propane in them! For welding you will probably want to either manifold the smaller tanks or go with a larger tank. My 100# tank was $25 at a farm auction.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/18/07 10:28:55 EDT

Fire Pokers: I am looking for a book on fire pokers.
- GAntley - Thursday, 04/19/07 20:57:48 EDT

Making, Collecting, what?
Thomas P - Friday, 04/20/07 11:33:50 EDT

dvd...: hello guys!
I have see in bookshelf 2 news videos made by Amit Har-lev.
could youd said me what is the difference between those video and Uri Hofi's videos???
thanks for your help!
- Ff - Friday, 04/20/07 12:43:24 EDT

Poker book: I never heard-tell of a book full of pokers. I have a large ironwork library, and there are just a few photos of pokers in a very few books.
Frank Turley - Friday, 04/20/07 18:48:40 EDT

Metallurgy: I don't know if this is the right place, but can anyone suggest a good book on general metallurgy?

I'm looking for something practical, that reads like more than a reference book for a Metallurgical PhD candidate. Preferably a "metallurgy for dummies" type of book, something that a layman could read and learn from. Granted, an intelligent layman, but a layman nonetheless.

Considering purchasing "Practical Metallurgy and Materials of Industry", by John E. Neely and Tom Bartone. Can anyone tell me if this will be right for me, or perhaps guide me to another book?

Also, if there is some sort of book seller affiliated to anvilfire or metalwork in general that sells the book I'm looking for, feel free to link me. I'm more than happy to support in-trade rather than B&N or amazon or another wholesaler.
Tony - Monday, 04/23/07 03:38:00 EDT

Metallurgy books: I have Neely's 1979 book before he co-authored with Bertone. It's reasonably priced on Abebooks, and is fairly good. I didn't quite understand the prices on the updated, co-authored version. One was $9.95, and the rest were over $100.
I like "Metallurgy Fundamentals" by Brandt and Warner, 1999, Goodheart-Willcox; ISBN 1-56637-543-6. It's understandable, readable, and loaded with photos and drawings. You're going to get charts and graphs no matter which book you purchase.
Frank Turley - Monday, 04/23/07 08:32:36 EDT

Tony do you need a general metallurgy book or just one on ferrous metallurgy? If you don't need to know particularities of tin, copper, gold, etc a ferrous metallurgy book might be better for you.

(I ask cause a lot of us are really only interested in the iron/steel area and don't need to know the "other" stuff)

Thomas P - Monday, 04/23/07 10:16:18 EDT

Metallurgy, by Johnson and Weeks, American Technical Society. I have the 1957 (4th) and the 1977 (5th) editions. A truly superb book. As much depth as you want, but readable, with the crucial stuff readily accessible -- to this English major anyway-- and eminently useful-- for years now, to this iron bodger. Especially good on quenching, hardening and tempering.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 04/23/07 11:09:45 EDT

I'm interested in everything, Thomas. While I doubt I'll ever work with tin, I do plan to eventually work with things like copper, gold/silver, titanium, chromium, various alloys. I'm also interested in learning how to smelt. Not something I'd do at every turn, but I want to try it at least once for a big project.

Thanks guys, I'll look up those books.
Tony - Monday, 04/23/07 15:17:38 EDT

Way back when I was in College the first time Ruoff had a programed book on Materials Science that covered a lot of ground

May be this one "Introduction to Materials Science" (ISBN: 0134873556) A.L. Ruoff I'll have to check my copy at home...
Thomas P - Monday, 04/23/07 16:42:38 EDT

Metallurgy References:
Machinery's Handbook discusses ferrous metallurgy a bit. But they also have metal properties and constituants. This is the cheapest (used reasonably current editions available) reference you will find that has both.

Metals for Engineering Craftsmen by CoSIRA is low tech written for the metal user, not metallurgist. It is sold by an advertiser, Artisan Ideas.

Both the above are on our book review page.

For references to specific alloys and the facts of heat treating, extended properties and such the references get expensive and in the U.S. come from one place, ASM (the American Society for Metals International). The two books you need on your self if you are going to work with a variety of metals ARE. "Heat Treater's Guide, Standard Practices and Procedures for Steel" AND "ASM Metals Reference Book". the first lists every AISI, ASTM and SAE steel by common number or name and its properties with suggested heat treatment and graphs of results. The second book covers all metals but not in as much detail as above, and has an extensive glossary. These are working books, the type you pull out when you are specifying a certain steel or need to heat treat something new or just need the FACTS.
- guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 12:23:31 EDT

Forging Solutions Videos:
Ff, First, in structure these have a video index which makes them easier to use. Amit does a few things differently than Hofi so there is always something to learn. These two are very basic as they are the beginning of a series. So the one on power hammer use starts with some basics processes and expands on them. The hand hammer video covers the basics of stance, holding the hammer and so on but then gets into processes.
- guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 12:30:59 EDT

Pokers and Firetools:
For types you would want catalogs of current maker's work unless you were looking for antique types. Fire tool handles come in almost infinite variety from simple rings and twists to geometric forms and then animal heads.

I've made pokers with initials sort of like a brand but turned the wrong way to use. I've made pokers with forged bronze ram's heads fused to a steel shank. I've also made them with rings and twists. One of the most popular is the old blacksmiths "basket" twist. My most distinctive handle was a large leaf that made a thumb grip.

In the power hammer school we forged a one piece poker with a heavy 3/4" steel handle.

See our iForge demos, #85 Bpoker, 89 "3 in 1", #150 Braided handles.

3 in 1 handles
- guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 13:05:37 EDT

Leg Vise Collection: Never thought I would be a collector of leg vises, but I got interested in the quite early ones with the tenoned mounting plate. They probably date from about 1800 plus or minus 30 years. Until recently, the ones I have collected were all small jawed, from about 3 5/8" to 4 1/2". My recent acquisition has a [surprise] 5 1/8" jaw! It has some of the old timey forged features. The handle has forge welded collars either end, which are rounded. The shut shows on the bottom leg collar/stop. The threads are good, considering the age; no breaks. It has the original washer and original bolt through the pivot beam. The bolt is wedged, not threaded. It is missing the mounting plate. The plate was broken at its necked juncture with the tenon. The tenon with its rectangular wedge-hole is still stuck in the upper portion of the fixed leg. I'll probably make a wrought iron plate and stamp it underneath "TURLEY 2007 AD". I want to be true to the piece.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 04/25/07 16:42:41 EDT

Champion 400 Blower: I just came across a Champion 400 blower that's in great shape, with one exception, it's missing the cap that covers up the bearing on the end of the worm gear at the bottom.. I'd like to find one before I put the blower to use, but I'm having a heck of a time finding something to cap it off with... Does anyone out there know where I could get an original cap, or has anyone had the same problem and "made something work" Thanks!
- Josh Crone - Wednesday, 04/25/07 21:22:17 EDT

Josh, These are no longer manufactured and parts have not been available for 50 years or so. I'm not sure what the cap looks like but have you tried automotive core (commonly known as "freeze") plugs.

Like all orphaned equipment it takes a small machine shop to maintain them. But the stubborn can get by with files and perseverance.

Note that these are very good (valuable) tools but they leak oil and wear out rapidly if not lubricated.
- guru - Thursday, 04/26/07 08:39:09 EDT

Frank, I have a small collection of same. Sadly the best of the collectible ones I have is the one I modified to stump mount. When I got it the bench bracket was missing and so were the pin wedges. The spring was broken. I made a small decorative tenon plug to hold the new spring in place with a pin and sawed about 6" off the leg and added a mounting bracket just below the hinge. The stub of the leg went into a drilled hole in the stump. I also had to make a replacement screw handle.

This vice is one of few that I have seen markings on. Very faintly on the nut one can see "Brooks & Cooper".

So this brings up a quandry. Brooks & Cooper were not a partnership until 1875 (according to Postman). Yet the cut off date for tenon style vices is said to be the early 1800's (about 1834). So either the nut is later or the tenon mount was made later. The nut fits VERY well and is a match to the surface it presses against. Illustrations from M.&H. Armitage who preceded Brooks & Cooper show wrap around brackets.

Sadly this era is poorly illustrated. While Diderot's (1775-1780) engravings tell us a lot, many common items are overlooked or poorly detailed. Many of the vices shown have no visible attachment to the bench and there is little detail. But those that do show brakets are a wrap around type.

My other old catalog of the era is a Watch and Clock makers catalog. However, it only shows small bench vices and they are quite fancy little things that have screw clamp attachments, not bench brackets.
- guru - Thursday, 04/26/07 09:54:42 EDT

My only tennon mount vise is not a post vise but a bench vise and so small I can put it in my pocket. I currently have it mounted to my travel forge using a U bolt so I have somesort of vise available when doing under equipped demos.

Of course I have now forged a set of "Legs" that bolt onto the bench mount for a travel post vise. They arch down and have offset spikes on the ends to help hold it in place. I also forged a tool/hammer rack that bolts onto the bench mount arms and curves out over the legs. Very handy and doesn't take up much space or weight on trips.

Thomas P - Thursday, 04/26/07 10:21:11 EDT

Demo Vise:
Back when I was traveling with the forge trailer I did a demo in a new asphalt driveway. The leg vise was hinged to the trailer at two points and the leg rested on the ground. It was a rush setup in a fancy ski resort so I did not pay as close attention as I should have. . . by the end of the day the vise leg was buried about 6" into the pavement and there was a mound of broken pavement around the leg. . . I did not remember doing any heavy work at the vise but apparently I did.

That vise was also a tenon mount vise. I did not like the looks of the small tenon so I made a U bracket that fit around the vise and was welded to the bench frame. The tenon pulled the vise up into the U shape and held it tight. I also welded a tab to the back back of the leg at about the hinge position of the vise for diagonals going back to the bench. It was very sturdy for a little 30 pound vise.

- guru - Thursday, 04/26/07 11:27:47 EDT

ok Guru !: thanks for your answer on videos Guru !
- Ff - Thursday, 04/26/07 13:14:05 EDT

For "soft" surfaces I have the head from a hand powered ground tampered that the vise foot fits into about 8" on a side. A coup-e of drawn out rr spikes can hold it in place if you want to hunker down on it some.

Thomas P - Thursday, 04/26/07 16:27:44 EDT

Vise Quandary: It's seems to be more difficult to date the old vises than anvils. Very few early ones were signed. I have one signed, and it was stamped "Sheffield." It has a small stamped frog for a logo, but no date.

There is a beautiful locksmith's leg vise pictured on plate 379, in "Decorative Antique Ironwork" by René d'Allemagne. It is engraved, chased, and has openwork on the fleur-de-lis mounting plate. A colored photo of the upper portion of the same vise, about full scale, is in the excellent, 2003 AD book, "Le Livre de L'Outil" [The Book of the Tool], pp. 272-3. The only date we have in both books is 18th century. This vise, without a doubt, has the tenon. The guru is correct about Diderot showing the U-shackle wraparound style. In the L'Outil book, yet another book is mentioned, one unfamiliar to me, "l'Art du Surrerier" (The Art of the Locksmith), by Duhamel du Monceau, 1767 AD. Monceau has engravings of two vises, one, sans leg, with a tenoned plate and an attached vertical screw for clamping the vise to a workbench. The other, with leg, has the wraparound U-shackle. It appears that in France during this period, the late 1700's, both methods of attachment were being forged.

Box and Screw Assemblies were sold separately and as replacements by the Kennedy-Foster Company in the U.S. during the 1950's and 1960's. I suppose such assemblies could have been made to order and sold at an earlier date.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 04/26/07 22:25:03 EDT

Vises: In the 1912 century Louis Reijners, Amsterdam, tool catalog, the vices are more European in style. They show the tall side plates that cover the spring. This has a fancy forged bracket that makes a U around the vise and has a cross bar and two nuts holding the vice to the bracket.

The more interesting thing is the list of model types. Sadly there are no illustrations showing the differences. But they list as model types (not including such things as double screws or parallel jaws).


Some are countries and others are cites I think, if not then makers names. Europe has a much more diverse line of tools as each country and region had preferences. We in the US are used to English export tools and their American made look alikes in many cases.

This catalog also has numerous modern bench vises as well as old style box bench vises and hand vises. More than I have seen in any one catalog.

I spent half a day at Hunter Pilkinton's World of Tools Museum looking for swage block information in his catalog collection. Some date from the mid 1800's. I did not think to look at leg vices in the earliest catalogs. I intend to go back this summer and spend a few days. Sadly his swage blocks were buried under a mountain of about a ton of anvils. . .
- guru - Friday, 04/27/07 10:21:56 EDT

I've only had one dated postvise: 1899 and I believe that is the one that Sandpile got off me when he visited...

Thomas P - Friday, 04/27/07 10:47:23 EDT

New Tools:
For all you tool hounds that "just got to have it", Big BLU has just released a bunch of new (for them) hammer types. Diagonal Peen, Straight Peen and Rounding.

BLU Hammers
- guru - Friday, 04/27/07 18:13:39 EDT

Little Giant Trip hammer: I have a 25 pound trip hammer that has been completely refurbished and ready to go. It has a electric motor and bracketing to mount same. this hammer has never been used since being refurbished.
I am unable to continue blacksmithing due to joint problems.
- Barton French - Saturday, 04/28/07 23:08:29 EDT

Where are you located?
- Frank Turley - Saturday, 04/28/07 23:41:25 EDT

demo of damascus: A.B.S. Mastersmith Hank Knickmeyer will be demonstrating mosaic and powdered metal damascus steel in Salt Lake City on Sept 14-16 2007
Daniel Piotte - Sunday, 04/29/07 21:16:55 EDT

Makers and dates of post vise: I have two post vises that can be identified or dated. One came out of an original blacksmith shop in Columbia, CA. The owner, retired by then, gave his tools to my grandfather around 1910. The post vise, when I cleaned it up, is marked on the box "Peter Wright". This appears to go along with the ~200 lb Peter Wright anvil (the larger of the two anvils that came out of the shop. The other was a smaller Fisher). The English smithing tools were loaded as ballast in the sailing ships, offloaded in San Francisco and distributed from there. The return trip used ore from the mines as ballast, to be smelted and refined in England. So say, after 1850 but well before 1910. It was missing the bench mount and spring. A junker (dead) vise supplied the missing parts.

Another post vise has "1901" stamped below the movable jaw. It was complete, with the 3-holed mounting plate and U bracket holding the spring in, held in place by a wedge and (other piece that goes with the wedge).

David Hughes
- David Hughes - Monday, 04/30/07 15:14:22 EDT

Champion 400 blower grease caps: Hello Josh, I am also working on a Champion 400 blower. It is missing the crank gear grease cap. I found I could fit a piece of 1 1/2" brass sink drain pipe (tailpiece) into the hole and thread it in, after a fashion. Works, but ugly. I think the male part of actual two-piece grease caps may fit the threads. Haven't tried it yet, don't quite feel like spending $10 plus shipping for something that may not work. Hoping one falls out of the sky
- David Hughes - Monday, 04/30/07 15:30:49 EDT

Vises: David Hughes,

The Peter Wright vises are fairly easy to identify, because of their beauty. The screw box looks like an old fashioned mortar. Lots of times, the P. Wright on top of the box is obliterated, because the letters were so small. I have a vise with 1917 stamped on the movable jaw. It is a Columbian.
Frank Turley - Monday, 04/30/07 22:54:50 EDT

Post Vise...: Just to keep the post vise discussion going... I have a post vise with what looks like "Herrell" stamped in it. There's more to the mark, but it's too tough to read... I was just curious if anyone might know where it came from...
Josh Crone - Tuesday, 05/01/07 08:58:39 EDT

Vices and Vises: Josh, Not familiar. I've seen a lot of things like this missread. 99% of imported leg vices in the US were imported from England and made by a few companies over there.

The interesting thing about American and English blacksmiths vises is there was very little innovation or change among the two. With very minor exceptions they were almost exactly the same for hundreds of years. I compare their perfection in design to the the design of the Violin. Once it was perfected in between 1550 and 1650 almost no one has dared make significant changes. The necks were made a LITTLE heavier to take heavier strings so that they could take heavier strings and stand up in modern orchestras but that is it.

Interestingly the beautiful design of the leg vice was perfected about the same time.

The big differences in leg vices are that the British brought them to a fine art form. They had lathe turned boxes (nuts) with fine turned details done by hand. They had those heavy chamfers on the upper legs that became a diagonal square with flats on some makes. The spring was a beautiful sweeping reverse curve and bench brackets were a classic of the decorative art of forging. And THIS was in production vices made in the millions.

Supposedly the American version were much plainer but I think some of the late English vices were also quite plain. Drop forged or cast bench brackets replaced those with beautiful rams head scrolls and the chamfers disappeared from the legs. However, the shape and little decorative touches on the jaws remained the same. In fact, this was considered so perfect of design by many that modern bench vises kept those perfect lines on the jaws while the rest was strictly industrial design. Those that have not have no art in them nor any appreciation of the past in my opinion.

Since I have a better camera and have gotten more feedback on details I think I need to revist the vices I have and start looking more closely at others. The usual problem though is that those at tailgate events are piled in with a bunch of junk in the back of a pick up truck and often grossly painted.
- guru - Tuesday, 05/01/07 10:10:51 EDT

It seem strange that the blacksmith's vise has so little respect. When an old smith shuts down he often keeps his anvil and hammer but much more rarely his post vise. Yet for many projects I spend more time at the vise than I do at the anvil! Figuring a good way to mount a vise for demo's is a lot more important than figuring a way to mount the anvil. You can improvise a decent anvil fairly easily but there is *no* substitute for a good postvise!

Thomas who's liking for vises is a vice
Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/01/07 11:02:46 EDT

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