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May 2006 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.
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J. Dempsey  <webmaster> Rev. 7/98, 3/99, 5/2k, 6/2k, Friday, 04/06/01 16:43:25 GMT

I hate to see machinery being scraped. It is a national disaster and the iron is going overseas to be turned into lower quality junk to be sold back to us. . .

It is economicaly sucicidal.

When I launched anvilfire I had the introduction to Blacksmithing in the 21st Century written which became our 21st century page and lost focus. .

But the point was, that as blacksmiths in North America in the 21at Century we are largely dependent on the remains of our post-industrial society. Old used power hammers, punch presses, weld plattens and machine tools. . I thought it was a little to much gloom and doom 8 years ago. But a lot has changed since then. Things have gotten worse than I expected.

The one bright point is that blacksmithing has grown a LOT and new tools and machines are available that were not 20 years ago. The majority is imported. That makes the REAL bright spots in North American blacksmithing the few tools that are made HERE. BigBLU's, OffCenter Tools, MFC anvils and a few others. But the big stuff is all being imported. . .

Saddest of all is that the majority of our raw materials are imported. . .
- guru - Monday, 05/01/06 00:19:18 EDT

My school does not have shop or i would have taken it all four years. But im strong of limb and willing to work hard and im a fast learner i also help my uncle work on cars every once in a while. I can do anything sweep up the shop or be a hammer boy all i ask is to be able to watch to help where i can. my mother makes shirts for the ren fair and eversince i saw the smithy i have always just wanted to make things.
raymond - Monday, 05/01/06 07:53:41 EDT

The Flag of Freedom: The Flag of Freedom

I've had several requests, mostly not from this board, to post my Flag of Freedom" story somewhere. I finaly did. I'm not an artist and it isn't the prettiest web page, but it is up. Most of you read the story when I posted it here last fall, but I thought somew of you may have missed it, or might want to read it again.
- John Odom - Monday, 05/01/06 08:22:03 EDT

Raymond, There is a long reply to your query above. Things often move fast here. Note that this log for April will be archived in a few days.
- guru - Monday, 05/01/06 09:05:50 EDT

Pratt & Whitney: One of the machine shops here on the farm has a Pratt & Whitney Star Turn CNC lathe originally set up for tapes. By todays standards it's kind of a dinasour but it's still cranking out accurate parts using a custom software program and an old PC hooked up to the original controller.

In my shop there are four Walker Turner 20" drill presses on a production table. Two are set up with tapping heads all the time. They get a lot of use. When I first picked them up a friend asked why I would ever need that many drill presses- I didn't even try to explain; he wasn't going to get it.
SGensh - Monday, 05/01/06 09:22:30 EDT

Flags and Freedom:
Although I have sympathy for the plight of Mexican migrant laborers their protests today are largely wrong and are not going to recieve the kind of attention they want.

Invading a country illegaly and the flying of your home country's flag in our territory is the act of an invading army. Demanding rights and services under our laws when you are here illegaly is asking to be deported.

Yes, have a good LONG national strike. The American public will put up with a lot but there will come a point where violence will break out and that will be the end. The trouble will far outweigh the benifits as the general public sees it. Waffling presidents will act decisivly when forced to. Calling out the military to remove an invader from our shores will be an easy call. However, the results will be messy as is any millitary action. It will no longer be a silent war.

Yes, something needs to be done. Yes, the current status quo is wrong. Being underpaid, working in unsafe conditions and having no recourse IS a form of legal slavery. But sneaking into a country illegaly IS breaking the law. I do not expect other countries to welcome ME without a passort and not following the laws of that country. The results can be jail and forced (slave) labor.

There are some VERY simple solutions that will work and only the uneffected will like. The easiest would be to simply enforce the laws on the books. But since that is not working the next easiest will be to make it VERY expensive to employers to hire undocumented workers. Large fines that close or bankrupt businesses and a few well publicized examples will put millions out of work.

Yes, Something needs to be done. Sadly I do not think anyone will be happy with the results.
- guru - Monday, 05/01/06 09:43:36 EDT

Multiple drills tools wheels:
Back in my craftshow days I met a wood worker that made all kinds of little wooden geehaws to sell at fairs. At the time wood mushrooms were doing well.

He had a long work bench on one side of his shop littered with 1/4" hand drills. Every one had different tools, or different grits of sanding pad. The reason for so many was the most time consuming act on most machines is changing the tooling. So you need one machine for every step or tool change.

The same applies to belt sanders, buffing wheels and wire brushes. You cannot have enough turning wheels in your shop! You may use different buffing compounds, different size and hardness buffs all for one job. Four to six wheels is just enough. I have a small motor with a soft wire brush on it all the time. That is the only thing it is used for. It is always there and is very handy. The bench grinder has the original fine and coarse wheels and is used only for small tool sharpening. You will be asked to leave my shop and never return if you use it for anything else!

At one time I had 8 wheels of different types and I could have used 8 more. I want a resinoid wheel like you use on an angle grinder on a fixed shaft. I also want a disk sander with table. I also need a small tool grinder with diamond and green carbide wheels. An arbor with rubber matrix abrasive wheels would be handy and another with different size Bear-tex wheels as well. That adds eight in a hurry. . . And I left out a flap wheel.

If you visit any bladesmith they will have four or six belt grinders. If you ask them, Isn't that that a lot of grinders? They will tell you that they could use as many more. It is not just the grit of the belt, it is the speeds and the work surfaces, the rest and the guides. . .

All these tools can be substituted for or replaced by multi function tools. But the reason for the multiples is efficiency. It takes TIME to change a wheel and then change it back. Often more time than the small operation you are going to do. Then there are speeds. Every wheel in my shop turns a different speed suitable for THAT wheel. If you change to a different wheel it will probably not be the optimum speed.

To the uninformed it makes you look like a tool hog. But they do not understand. In small one man shops efficiency is the name of the game.
- guru - Monday, 05/01/06 10:16:45 EDT

Ill look around see what i find, if you guys could suggest certain schools that are good i would appreciate it.
I can only get on at certain times when im at school or at the library so if i say something twice im sorry but its just that im am realy interested in this feild and i just want to learn and any help you guys can give will be most welcome
you were talking abut ships my grandfather use to tare them appart he also welded tanks for buffalo tank befor they whent out of business
- raymond - Monday, 05/01/06 12:37:25 EDT

The Flag of Freedom : John,

I've read it several times, and I still love that story. It was great to see it with the associated pictures.

eander4 - Monday, 05/01/06 13:38:54 EDT

John it looks great my friend.
- Burnt Forge - Monday, 05/01/06 15:39:04 EDT

gloves...: hello!
I'm watching Dvd's Hofi and I have see he use special gloves
for forging.
do you know what is this gloves, where can I bought it or what gloves do you recommend to me?????
thanks a lot for your help....
- F.F. - Monday, 05/01/06 16:43:48 EDT

kevlar or Nomex Gloves:
Those gloves Uri is using are NOMEX or Kevlar. Many professionals prefer them. BlacksmithsDepot sell them and some of our other advertisers as well.

The type of gloves you wear depend on the work you are doing. For moving iron and general work needing to protect from splinters, cut and such I prefer Mule brand or that type of leather and cotton duck glove. I use the same for general to light welding.

Many smiths wear the snug fitting calf or goat skin TIG welding gloves. They are light enough to have a good feel and protect from scale and splinters.

For heavy welding and foundry work I wear heavy welding gloves with the reflective aluminium foil backs.

Then for handling chemicals you should have some type of rubber gloves for the occasion.
- guru - Monday, 05/01/06 19:03:12 EDT

Wild Prices:
Yesterday a 1st edition of Machinery's Handbook sold for $500 on ebay. If you see one for sale let me know, I have someone interested but not particularly at collectors prices.

While looking for a first edition I looked at a lot of prices. I saw a 5th edition selling for $275 and a 3rd for only $60. But the wild thing was a USED 26th edition (the current is the 27th) selling for nearly $300! New they are only $89, large print $110. A recent old copy should sell for $50 or so, no more. I also saw mid 1950's editions going for $16 all the way to $80!

If you haven't gotten around to picking up a used copy these things are appreciating! Do it soon but shop prices. Folks must think these things are Florida realestate.
- guru - Monday, 05/01/06 19:19:49 EDT

Handbook: Currious, I got my 14th edition for 5 USD plus 5 dollar shipping just 2 years back. Good timing for me. try to read it
and I am learning how much I do not know
Ralph - Monday, 05/01/06 19:26:54 EDT

What you are calling a multispindle drill press is usually refered to as a turret drill press, or mostly by the name of the company that made the most of them, BurgMaster. There were a few other companies that made these, but 9 times out of 10, its a burgmaster.
Every one I have ever seen was a six spindle.
The small ones are often available used these days for a decent price- under a grand, which, considering that a new chinese floor model drill press can run $600 to$800, is a deal.

ries - Monday, 05/01/06 19:28:22 EDT

Raymond: Best thing to do is find a local group. I am certain there will be one.
Look up to the right side of this page and use the pull down menu. Find LINKS go there and there will be a ABANA locator.
Go to the meetings. Join and learn with thier help
Ralph - Monday, 05/01/06 19:33:08 EDT

Multi spindle drill press: Ries; I ran a drill press, drilling and tapping castings for the old Toledo Scale Co. It had a work table about 5 feet wide, and it had 5 separate manually operated quills in a row for performing the various tasks required on the castings. The castings were placed in a fixture and the operator would move it from one quill (spindle) to the next, flipping the fixture over as needed. There was a constant stream of coolant on the tools. How many does everybody want? I'd bet any used machinery dealer could find a truckload of 'em for you between Detroit and Toledo.
3dogs - Monday, 05/01/06 21:33:04 EDT

Paw Paw & the Flag: Paw Paw loved the "Flag of Freedom" story and encouraged me to polish up the wording and start telling it to veterans groups etc. I have just now returned from a funeral. The desceased was the last person I showed the flag to before the trip to Oklahoma City. Her husband heard it at the VFW and asked me to go home with him so his disabled wife could hear it and see the flag. This whole thing made me think of Paw Paw. He is surely missed.
- John Odom - Monday, 05/01/06 21:57:11 EDT

3 Dogs- that is what the Guru was calling a Multiple Head Drill Press.
As you say, there are a lot of em out there.
But they take up a lot more space than a Burgmaster, and just dont have the gee-whiz rube goldberg factor of that spinning head with the 6 spindles on it, which all come down in the same spot.

In industry, of course, both of these types of drills have been replaced with cnc drills or full bore cnc vertical machining centers.
Brother, the japanese company, makes really nifty cnc drilling and tapping centers that are a measly 25 grand or so- but when you start figuring how damn fast they are, with how little labor, they pay for themselves pretty quick in most factories or cnc job shops.

Grant is a great example of how cnc allows one guy, working alone, to do seemingly impossible amounts of work. 30,000 pairs of tongs, anyone?
ries - Monday, 05/01/06 23:22:44 EDT

Ries: BurgMaster & other turret drills are a still different animal than what We have been calling a multiple spindle drillpress. The ones We have been talking about are usually 14" to 20" sensitive drill presses mounted on a common table about 2' apart. Older flatbelt units are a bit different, but same idea.
Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/01/06 23:44:32 EDT

Corection: I was describing what Guru called "Multiple Head Drill press"
Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/01/06 23:49:34 EDT

Nomex-- check out and click on PROTECTION FROM
FERROUS METAL AND WELDING EXPOSURES -- Says "Nomex fabrics are inappropriate for such exposures since ferrous metals adhere to aramid fabrics." That's why Carhartt makes its welding stuff out of Westex's Indura.

Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 05/02/06 01:06:23 EDT

Slugged welds: Hi ptree. Your story about the slugged welds in the Chinese pipe flanges was very interesting. Any idea about where to find a copy of this report?

I didn't realize this was such a no-no. When looking around at homemade anvil resources, I saw a reference to someone who pasted homemade anvils together out of junk, filling in the voids with what I now know are slugged welds. So, when I put a junk piece of steel on my makeshift anvil for a horn, I filled in the sides with slugged weld. The base piece of steel was put on correctly, however, with a full pen vee. Although I have not used it extensively, it seems solid in response to hard hammer blows. It rebounds and rings well. The weld material is softer than ordinary anvil facing, though. My boy later asked me why "it had all these spots". I took a close look, and noticed all these little pockmarked dents. Then, I realized that I left my weld chipping hammer out. Sure enough, the tip was mushroomed. Gotta love those kids. Hopefully he'll make a good blacksmith.

Are these "slugs" just substandard welds, or are they serious internal crack initiators?
EricC - Tuesday, 05/02/06 01:58:21 EDT

hofi - Tuesday, 05/02/06 05:53:10 EDT

Paw Paw: John,
Jim is missed more than you can guess.

Ralph - Tuesday, 05/02/06 10:21:16 EDT

Slugged Welds:
Eric, By putting a large piece of filler rod into the joint you leave as much as 60% unwelded. If something is engineered to be 100% solid then 40% is a serious problem. And yes the gaps are ideal crack initiation points.

On old anvils built up from scrap there was often as little a 50% weld due to the dirty rusted scrap. This can be seen on specimens of broken anvils where the body has broken. I have seen one anvil broken verticaly just behind the waist well in front of the hardy hole (what should be the weakest point). You could see the shapes of the pieces supposedly welded together like fossils in stone where there are hard and soft layers. In this case it appears that more than 50% was unwelded. Similar problems are often visible on anvils with broken horns. Of course this is a place for an obvious break since horns were put on with one big butt weld. The few with seriously flawed welds failed (probably with abuse).

On a large joint like an anvil body weld you can probably "get away with" less than a 100% weld. However, it is very bad practice and I would not want to be caught doing it in business.

One way to reduce filler welding in deep joints is to profile the sides of the weld. This is commonly done on large parts. The root is usualy 45 degrees but then the sides of the joint are much steeper being just less than vertical. As long as there is room for the weld to be properly performed then this works fine.
- guru - Tuesday, 05/02/06 13:02:43 EDT

Jim Paw-Paw Wilson:
On Saturday May 13th, 2006 the family will be spreading Paw-Paws ashes at Wiseman's view in the North Carolina mountains. Friends are invited and folks will meet at Sheri Wilson's at 9am and then caravan to the site (about 3 hours each way).

If you wish to take part and have questioins drop me a line.
Pisgah National Forest
- guru - Tuesday, 05/02/06 13:40:04 EDT

thanks.....: thanks a lot for yours answers , Mr.Guru and Mr. Hofi....
I have an other question to Mr.Hofi, do you think you'll come in France for liven up a forging course ?
F.F. - Tuesday, 05/02/06 14:12:09 EDT

courses: on june 9th I will come to germany berlin to give two air hammer and one basic hand hammer forging classes .If you want you can joine me there !
I have in france two Israeli students that opened a forging school and they are teaching in my system I can sand you their adress and phone no. hofi
hofi - Tuesday, 05/02/06 17:16:57 EDT

forging school...: I have see their web page.
I hope I can do courses with them before the end of the year....
best regards....
F.F. - Tuesday, 05/02/06 17:55:39 EDT

The report was an official report of the A.S.M.E.. Titled
- ptree - Tuesday, 05/02/06 18:04:33 EDT

Eric C
Tht post seemed to not work,
The title was : The Chinese Flanges" as I recall. An official ASME report.
Problems were;
bad forgeings
wrong alloy
Stamped as a high temp alloy
No tracability
Fake factory of origen
Slugged in the high stress point of the hub, maybe 25% good metal.
Bombs! these were to go into high temp steam service, and would not have had high temp ozidation and creep resistance.

I suspect most of the unaccounted went into rivers etc to hide them when the facts came out
- ptree - Tuesday, 05/02/06 18:09:06 EDT

Chinese Flanges:
I did some searching and found a fragmentary warning and a LONG involved arbitration proceeding. Mostly I found advertisements for Chinese flanges. . .

What the arbitration broke down to is that the buyer specified "All flanges should satisfy the US steel flange Standard ANSI-B16.5 and the US material experiment Standard ASTM-A105N" spec and the Chinese pretended that had nothing to do with the product. THEY wanted to see failed flanges as evidence that there was a problem OR for the buyers agents to have rejected the parts in China before shipping. Their idea of fufilling the contract was if the buyer looked at the flanges (did a visual inspection) that they had fulfilled the contract even though the flanges did not meet the required specification AND paperwork had be falsified to show they did. In other words BUYER BEWARE!

The buyer's stated that if the flanges had the proper inspection stamps and they had inspected them for the stamps that they had done their duty on delivery inspection. The flanges had the stamps but apparently they meant nothing.

See link below. Note that this is a CHINESE tribunal and even they saw serious problems in the case. This is a similar but not the slugged welds case (I don't think).

Many of the points came down to the exact wording in the buyers contract and how the Chinese interpreted delivery inspection, NOT the requirements of the ANSI and ASTM specs refered to.

China 30 March 1999 CIETAC Arbitration proceeding (Flanges case)
- guru - Tuesday, 05/02/06 22:13:52 EDT

Old Probverb:: "There isn't anything that somebody else can't make a little worse and sell a little cheaper"
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/02/06 22:43:05 EDT

Slugged Welds: There are 2 different problems that come into play. One is that with a large slug there likely won't be sufficient penetration to fully fuse the "slug" material to both the filler rod and the parent metal. The other is that the slug material, if it matches the parent metal [ assuming a wrout - rolled or drawn material like pipe or bar stock] will most likley not test out at as good as the mechanical properties of the parent metal after welding. The reason for this is that the melted and cooled slug material is in the cast state, with coarse microstructure. Weld filler metals overcome this problem by using alloys that meet or excede the parent metal mechanical specs as deposited - in the cast state.
Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/02/06 22:57:28 EDT

ANSI and ASTM specs:
I have one problem with these. They are required by both government and private contracts but they are not a free standard. They cost fairly significant money and they change often so you must replace your spec library fairly often.

Now the cost of many of these specs does not look bad ($25 to $XXX). But every one references other specs and THOSE specs may refer to yet other specs. Example:

Every ASTM spec points to the definitions book (a seperate publication).
Many specs are mearly testing standards and they point to testing methods specs for each type of test which in turn point to the laboratory operation spec AND the calibration specs which all point to traceability to government weight and measurment standards. An ASTM specification may point to an ANSI standard and it may point to an AWS procedure. . .

One $25 spec can cost thoudsands by the time you obtain all the referenced specs and the specs THEY IN TURN refence.

And then after all that you may know nothing. Most of the specs are for testing, not making. And many of the tests are performance based leaving it up to you as to how to meet the criteria of the test.

Back to my point. Where this bothers me is where the government (local or federal) says YOU WILL MEET XXX spec. and that spec is now LAW but you must pay for a copy of the spec to find out how to satisfy the law. . .

Somewhere along the line we have lost the fact that laws are not supposed to be secret. This was a precident set in the time of the Roman empire. In most US states there is often an out of date set of laws in the state library and many local libraries have local ordinances. But most are woefully out of date or badly maintained (it is a specialists job to maintain a law library). Few have Federal laws. If the Federal government had to put a copy of our tax laws into every public library we would see them reduced to a managable size in a hurry!

Refering to speces that refer to specs, that. . . its a complicated system that needs to be maped out so that it can be understood better. When a local government points to a building code do they know how many other codes or specs that is referencing? And how many other third generation requirements by reference? And the definitions used by each of those? When you say you meet an ASTM spec do you know if somewhere in its chain of references it requires you meet some EPA or OSHA specs?

It is so impossibly complicated that when anyone says they meet the entirety of almost any spec they are lying even if they do not know it. So whether you meet the spec or not it is just a matter of what YOU believe to be the truth and how much the other fellow believes is lies.

Do you think any of those Chinese flange manufacturers that are probably "ISO 9000" certified have a complete set of the applicable ASTM, AISI, AWS and referenced documents translated to understandable Chinese?

Just some things to ponder in an ever more complicated world.
- guru - Tuesday, 05/02/06 23:25:43 EDT

ISO Cert.: Jock, You are not the first person who I have heard say the ISO 9000 Cert. is a load of crap. Apairently at it's best all it really does is leave a paper trail...pretty much to nowwhare.
Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 05/03/06 01:32:42 EDT

Slugged welds and Chinese flanges: Hi ptree, Dave and guru. Thanks for the comprehensive replies. I may be at the library for a few hours in the next couple of weeks, and will try to locate the report. They have the full set of SAE standards, which are also complicated and expensive, and not really enough of standards to build or even reverse engineer some things.

This different viewpoint of product quality is/was very common in China. I am always approached by someone who wants to do business and pay in dried fish, bribe some official, or Shanghai my shipment at a Shanghai port by declaring it to be "strategic products." It's downright scary, but there are a lot of people who are better businessmen than I making a lot of money.

I feel a little better about my slugged welds on my anvil horn. The main backbone was made out of an auto suspension member, and the weld is a fully veed, full pen weld. Only the built up sides are alugged. Maybe that's why it has held up so far. I will not be hitting it really hard. I have a Brazeal Bro's type dedicated fuller tool that can take a lot of pounding.
EricC - Wednesday, 05/03/06 02:03:31 EDT

Bureaucracy at its finest: Isnt it comforting to know that Catch 22 is still alive and well?
3dogs - Wednesday, 05/03/06 09:33:38 EDT

Looking for 25-50lb. Little Giant: I'm looking for a working or servicable power hammer (Little Giant is the only brand I'm aware of, but I know there are others). I'm in the Wisconsin area. If you've got something like this or have any suggestions, please feel free to e-mail me.

Thank you!

John Hagemann
- John Hagemann - Wednesday, 05/03/06 10:37:44 EDT

Certs : Well as far as I saw in the Navy Nuc program, certs are only a paper cover your butt trail. Did not prevent a failure. But would place fail blame at someome elses door.
Sub certs,NAVSEA certs Seaworthy certs. And these are just a tip of them. Plus all the 'normal' ones ASME yada yada.
Ralph - Wednesday, 05/03/06 10:39:25 EDT

Specs-- speaking of secrets, and Fun with Obdurate Bureaucracy, try to find out what, exactly, precisely, ANSI-rated lenses actually do at various shade levels. How much UV do they filter? Try to get the recommendations of the gas manufacturers for fuel gas hoses, oxy-acetylene and propane. No tickee, no washee.
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 05/03/06 11:19:24 EDT

Hey Now, if their documented process says "all defficient flanges will be slug welded and stamped with false inspection and manufacturing stamps" and they can *prove* that they did so for every bad flange then that process passes ISO standards with flying colours.

ISO has nothing to do with if a process is *good* or *bad* just that it is documented and followed.

I used to work for a software co that was one of the first to be ISO certified, our *Very* *Expensive* inspection team was not used to software normally checking out manufacturing plants. It was really kind of sad at how dazed they were at our "process" but how they lighted up when they got to the labs and could go wild on whether the multimeters had been calibrated regularly, (and for our multi million dollar computers multimeters were basically used to indicate "power on vs power off" no affect on our end product...)

Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/03/06 11:34:02 EDT

Little Giants:

Little Giant made an OK hammer. . It was the cheapest sold for the longest. . so there are lots of them and Sid Sudimeier has parts for them.

The BEST mechanical hammers were Bradley, Fairbanks and Champion in that order. Bradley was the heaviest and had the highest quality construction. Fairbanks had the best engineering and their last hammers were a fine example of trying to engineer the BEST machine. Champions were about the same as Little Giant but they had some better features.

If you are serious about blacksmithing a 100 pound hammer will do just as fine of work as a 25 pounder but will also do larger work. They are only a little more difficult to move than a 50 pounds hammer (once you can't move them by hand who cares. . .).

Folks can't e-mail you without an e-mail address. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 05/03/06 11:40:43 EDT

Paper trails: When paper trails were first introduced in the Nuclear industry many plants were half built which meant that most of the hardware was already made or in the pipe. Most of it didn't have certs. Many engineers had a drawer full of certs and if a piece didn't have a cert and they knew within reasonable certantity that the part was as-ordered they signed a cert and slapped it on the part. Things got done.

After Three Mile Island the mood shifted and NOBODY wanted to take responsibility for ANYTHING. Certs had to have certs. In the 1980's you could NOT finish a nuclear power plant. Inspectors would inspect and red tag thousands of items and when they were fixed they would red tag thousands more. Even plants that had been certified and were in operation were forced to come back and make detailed drawings of every field joint and hanger, have an engineering analysis and THEN have them inspected again. . .

Many plants where billions had been spent were abandoned when it became obvious that no matter what was done the inspectors would never approve the plant. The industry was crippled then killed.

So when you hear "W" say we need to focus on building new nuclera power plants you don not see ANYONE get excited, not the plant architects, manufacturers or wall street. It is dead because we have made it so that it CANNOT be done and everyone in the industry knows it.

OBTW - All the stainless for our nuclear Navy's reactor cores comes from China. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 05/03/06 11:59:52 EDT

Guru/China: Guru
I found your post interesting. Glad to know I am not the only one seeing the US fall to pieces because of bureaucracy, corporate greed and cover yourself mentallity as it all rolls to us little folks at the bottom.

The stainless coming from China is not a suprise at all. Same thing of the Nuclear industry applies to the steel industry and just about every other today.

China has been getting a bad rap in some respects. They do produce some high quality products. Everything made there is not junk. The plant where my father works is moving to China. Some of the fellas just got back from there. I got an update on what it is like to live there. I am expecting our living conditions in the US to be about the same in a few years to come.

They had to go to a city. There are no houses. All dorm style buildings. If you are single you live in a dorm and share bathrooms with everyone on your floor. You have one room like a college dorm room. If you are married you will have two to three rooms including your small bathroom. At this chemical plant the pay is rather high. They make about 100.00 a month.

Other products: I worked as a cutler. I will say some of the pocket knives made in china are made with better materials and are much nicer than Case Cutlery knives. You can buy about 10 for the price of an average one from Case. I just thought you may enjoy this.
- Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 05/03/06 13:49:45 EDT

Re: Little Giants: I guess the e-mail doesn't show up...even if you enter it the e-mail field. In any event, my e-mail address is:

Thanks again,

John Hagemann
John Hagemann - Wednesday, 05/03/06 16:21:18 EDT

Little Giant: John, there's a late model 25lb hammer on ebay right now. Looks to be in restored condition. It's in Missouri.
- Mike Sa - Thursday, 05/04/06 17:26:59 EDT

Little Giant: There's also a couple of 25 pounders for sale in this issue of the Tuyre (the IVBA newsletter. One appears to be in Chicago, IL area & the other in southern IL. If you want the phone numbers, write to me & I'll pass them along.
- Mike Sa - Thursday, 05/04/06 22:26:15 EDT

Little Giant:: Speaking of these hammers, what is a fair price for a rebuilt 50# model? I know where there is one for $3,000 asking price. Area is our sunny southwest....Arizona.
Ellen - Friday, 05/05/06 10:41:10 EDT

Gronk:: I posted a picture of my Ford tractor over on Forgemagic in the gallery for you. Enjoy!
Ellen - Friday, 05/05/06 11:06:16 EDT

LG Pricing:
Ellen, Just like anvils it depends on condition. Rebuilt does not mean much if the rebuilder is a lousy mechanic. In fact, like some anvil "repairs" it can devalue the machine. I've seen "rebuilt" lathes and milling machines that I would not give scrap price for.

3K is a pretty decent price if the machine is all there, no broken dovetails no frame welds, no hair brained user mods. A 50# LG could sell for 1K more in perfect condition.

Look at it close. It is a simple machine. It should turn over smoothly if it has been in use. The ram should not rattle around in the guides (grab it and shake it). I prefer to see LG's that look like a ball of grease than one that is clean and un lubricated. Even if it has just been painted there will be signs of proper lubrication.

- guru - Friday, 05/05/06 12:10:19 EDT

Froe usage: Just got done using the froe I forged. In all, I split about 10 feet of big leaf maple(a softwood) before the weld gave out. Likely because I was rough on it, using a ball pein instead of a wooden mallet. The weld opened up when I was torqueing the froe back and forth to open the split.

Anyway, the point is that the tool worked well. I was able to split a 5' log in about 10 minutes. On one log, the grain was straight, and the split was dead straight. The other one, the grain ended up twisting 90 during the 5', and the split was dead straigh, except for the slow 90 twist. It was a fun experience, and demonstrates how well the tools of yore could work.
- Tom T - Friday, 05/05/06 12:59:37 EDT

Tom, now come up with a project that needs a board with a 90 deg twist in it and watch people's eyes bug aout as they try to figure out how you did that without sawing across the grain somewhere..

Ball pein shouldn't have mattered as you were hitting the spine of the blade part, I would suspect either heat treat or the weld...

Thomas P - Friday, 05/05/06 13:32:48 EDT

Welders: What are you using for a MIG or Wire feed welder in your home shops? I'm in the market for a welder and in addition to some welding on the frame of a '75 Corvette, I would be using it for general purpose needs (welding handles on tongs, building a gas forge, shop tables, etc). I'd be interested in recommendations or good/bad experiences. TIA
Dennis M - Friday, 05/05/06 15:48:37 EDT

Cool book: I'd like to recommend the book, "Decorative Wrought Ironwork, projects for beginners". Even though it says 'for Beginners', it's actually got some fairly advanced projects.
- Tom T - Friday, 05/05/06 16:27:09 EDT

Welders: Dennis: I use a Lincoln Weld-Pac 100 in my shop for wire welding. It is easily convertable to MIG by purchasing a kit and bottle for it. It runs off 110V 15A so it is portable, and it is easy to pick it up and put in the bed of my pickup. If you use a heavy duty extension cord (I like 12 gauge wire myself) it works great 100' away from your wall outlet.

I put a ten pound reel adaptor on it, and run .035 Inner Shield wire, no intert gas.

I have a Lincoln AC/DC 225A stick welder for heavier work, and an Oxy-Acetylene set up for cutting and for brazing, silver soldering, spot heating, and fine welding.

Cost at Home Depot is around $350. I would avoid Harbor Freight wire welders.
Ellen - Friday, 05/05/06 19:57:04 EDT

Broken Froes:
This is a common break on antique froes. I suspect most were made by amatures or farmers as the breaks always appear to be as old as the froe.

I cheat, (see my iForge article) and use modern technique, arc welding the eye. I made many that way and never had one returned. I also used mine to split firewood for many years. It was mild steel and only seemed to get sharper with use.

People make a couple mistakes making froes. One, is that they are a wedge, not a blade. 3/8" thick material is where to start. The other is it does not need to be high carbon (I used 3/8" by 1/5 CF 1020). An eye this thick will hold without welding. If forge welding you want to be sure not to reduce any of the cross section otherwise you make a weak spot at the weld. . double trouble.

Using steel hammers (sledges) does abuse a froe but not nearly as much as using an axe as a wedge. . .
Froe demo
- guru - Friday, 05/05/06 21:51:45 EDT

Efficiency Note:
Someone asked in that demo why arc weld when already at the forge. . well, forge welds don't always take and if you don't practice every day they CAN BE problematic.

For me there was no loss in efficiency. In that forge setup my arc welding stinger always hung on the side of the forge and the ground attached to the forge (not a good idea if there is a blower motor and cord). In less time than taking a welding heat I could pop in a rod, make the welds (in the forge!) and have the piece heating to dress the welds. . .

If I would have had to walk to the end of the shop, drag out cables, setup, make the weld and walk back to the forge there would have been a loss in time, cooling of the fire. . .

Some things that seem inefficient are only that way when you let them be. I also had my Oxy-acetylene torch hanging from the stock support on the front of the forge. . . which was arms length from the vise. . .
- guru - Friday, 05/05/06 22:05:20 EDT

Froe Woes: I've had to grind down the backs of a couple of froes where they were mushroomed from hammers.

A good stout club may wear out, but you can always cut another, or look for an uprooted tree root.

Also, old bowling pins work really well. (Gave one to Paw Paw, and he was delighted with the performance. :-) )
Go viking!
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 05/05/06 22:34:42 EDT

Question about Champion 400 blower: Hello,
I have what i think is a champion 401 forge with a 400 blower mounted on it. Does anyone know what kind of lubrication goes on the gears in the gearbox? I assume regular grease goes in the bearing housings behind the grease caps. I am not sure if the bearings need adjusting, but when i crank the blower, it seems to slow down to fast. It seems i have seen other blowers coast a while before they stop. I tried adjusting the weight on the handle but had no luck. Maybe my lubrication is too thick and slowing down the gears? They are coated with SAE 30. If anyone knows where i can get a manual on how to adjust the bearings and maintain this forge, please let me know
Len - Friday, 05/05/06 22:36:04 EDT

Does anyone know the reasonable price range for old post vices. I found a place with about 20 or so, but some of the prices at that place are alot on the high side for instince $95 dollars for an anvil with the horn broken off it, they wanted something like $50-60 for fairly large vices (id say 50 + pounds0 in working order. They had some others that wouldnt open etc are these repareable or not. Most seemed to have the spring bent or could just have been frozen by rust (these are sitting outside). Can I go wrong with a #20 vice for 25 dollars in questionable condition? Any thoughts
- Stephen - Friday, 05/05/06 23:01:12 EDT

Dennis M: I use an Airco Dip Pac 200, This is basicly the same nachine as the Esab 250, which is presently available. Mine is set up with .035 E-70-6 wire and C25 gas, as well as a spoolgun with 3/64 4043 aluminun and Argon. Except for speialty electrodes I hardly ever use My stick welder.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 05/05/06 23:17:00 EDT

Stephen: An anvil would usually be a "DEAL" at $1.00/#, and a vise has a lot more work in it per pound than an anvil, so I would say 50-60$ for a decent 50# vise isn't bad, but You might find one cheaper after You own a few.
Dave Boyer - Friday, 05/05/06 23:22:02 EDT

Welders: I have the same little MIG as Ellen. I keep it set up for MIG so I can weld thin sheet. The capacity is *very* limited -- 14 ga and under. Changing back to flux core's a big pain, and even then the welder's not really suitable for anything over 1/8 or 3/16. It serves its purpose, taking care of stuff that's too thin for me to stick weld. But if I could get back what I paid, I'd buy something in the 200 amp range.

Mike B - Saturday, 05/06/06 07:00:20 EDT

Vice Prices:
Old small leg vices with any missing parts usualy sell for around $25. With most of the parts in working condition $50 has been a minimum for years. Nice leg vises in the 50 to 75 pound range have been selling for $125 to $135 for several years. Good heavy ones over 65 pounds can sell for up to $200 and are a deal.

A vise rusted shut but with all the pieces is a $50 vice. If the dealer wants a lot more tell him to get it working. Of course if most of his trade is to antique buyers that just want something that looks old and cool then he doesn't care and you should look elsewhere.

Although there is actually SOME demand for hornless anvils they have been going for under $50 for a long time. Most are small (about 100-140#) and a large one would be worth more. They are still a good anvil and MUCH better than home made or a RR-rail anvil. . .
- guru - Saturday, 05/06/06 08:05:59 EDT

John Odom: Lincoln Weld-Pak 100: I have one. they were the first of the light duty flux core/MIG machines. It has done very well and I have had no problem. I have the 10# reel adapter and the MIG set up.

Within its intended use it has been great. If I were doing it over I would probably buy something a little heavier. It has been very handy and for the light gauge stuff that i bought it for, perfect.

I have had a lot of reports from others of failure in the HF and other imported wire welders.
- John Odom - Saturday, 05/06/06 09:22:37 EDT

Thansk Guru and Dave will pick at least a vice and maybe one of thier anvils the problem now is money and getting to the shop being 15 have to get mowing lawns or something. Thanks again!
- Stephen - Saturday, 05/06/06 10:42:34 EDT

Lincoln Weld Pac 100: Without the gas, and with multiple passes, you can weld stuff 1/4" thick or maybe a tad more. Note: there is no "one" welder for a well used shop. Just like there is no "one" hammer. Different welders, different jobs, different prices. Want to weld really thin stuff without the argon or mix? Get an Oxy-Acetylene outfit. The beauty of the Lincoln is: low cost, and low power requirements, and good American quality. Sure, you can buy better wire welders, even some that will "do it all". But not for $350.
Ellen - Saturday, 05/06/06 11:58:15 EDT

Tools: Stephen,

As long as you have the desire to find the tools you need and the willingness to do some work to get them, you will do just fine as a blacksmith. If you take that same willingness and desire to a group meeting near you, yo uwill undoubtedly find more than one old guy like me who will show you techniques, sell you tools for less than they cost, and let you work off the purchase price. Most of us who have been doing this for a good while are delighted to find a younger person who really truly wants to learn and is willing to do what it takes to get that education; we'll go out of our way to help someone like that, as opposed to the "gimme" kids or the "Iknow all that" idiots. Welcome to the world of smithing!
vicopper - Saturday, 05/06/06 14:11:58 EDT

Welders: I have a Millermatic 175 MIG welder, set for MIG. It is a 220v machine, so it is big enough to do some heavier work, though anything over 1/4" is still multi-pass work. It is a very good machine with excellent fine tuning capabilities through continuously variable voltage and feed speed. I use the CO2/Ar mix, and find it pretty satisfactory. Someday, I'll get the spoolgun for it, I'm sure. Not a cheap machine at $650, but definitely a workhorse of a small machine. It does a wide range of work around the shop, but it won't replace a stick welder for really heavy stuff, or a torch for cutting/heating.

As an all-purpose welding rig, I'd probably suggest a good AC/DC stick welder first, then the MIG. If you only work indoors on relatively small stuff, then MIG is great, but gas shielding doesn't like working in a wind or out-of-position all that much. Sure, you can use the flulx-core wire, but then you have so much spatter you might as well use stick and have the greater capacity.

If you work on a lot of smaller stuff and want real flexibility, then a good Oxy/Acet rig is hard to beat. It is slower and has a steeper learning curve than the MIG, but it will also braze, cut and heat with the appropriate tips. It also works great for starting a coke forge fire. (grin)
vicopper - Saturday, 05/06/06 14:22:00 EDT

Froes: Made one from 1/4" leafspring a while back -- it's been put through its paces on a couple of projects. Eye was just rolled around, no weld -- edge was forged and ground a bit but not to a real edge, just a wedge. Allowed to air cool after a good orange heat. No signs of wear to date. Very, very handy tool.
T. Gold - Saturday, 05/06/06 18:05:50 EDT

Welders: I too have a Weld pak 100. I bought it for small and thin work. I run mig with CO2. Been using and abusing it for about 6 years now. I bought the 10# reel adapter, but in my humid enviro, I bring the wire into the house to stop rust. Like all Mig's it hates rusty wire.

I will probably aquire a heavier duty machine in the future. The little Lincohn has held up so well I will probably buy a bigger one.

I also have an ancient Dayton DC buzz box, and a lincohn SA-200 gas engine welder on a trailer.
ptree - Saturday, 05/06/06 18:08:19 EDT

Postvises: the heart of the postvise is it's screw and screwbox. *Always* check that they are in good condition and not worn almost away or the screw broken off short.

If I could not see the condition of the screw ahead of time I would not pay over $10 for a postvise---almost anything else can be repaired but replacing the screw with another and getting the same efficiency out of it is a rare thing!

Thomas Powers - Saturday, 05/06/06 22:58:28 EDT

make an anvil: as anyone thought of useing an engine block with a 1/2 inch steel plate on the top ? I did i used an old Mini engine Block stripped dowm then welded a 3/4 inch steel plate HEAT treated first the same size as the top of the block you can then turn it over fill it with concreat weld a thinner plate on the bottom then weld onto a frame the right high't with wheels and a draw handle wala save $900 bucks and you have a good depending on block size 150lb anvil you can email me for pics but i still have a bit to finnish hope this helps guys
- terence raw - Sunday, 05/07/06 00:21:54 EDT

Terence R: If the hommade anvil works for what You are doing and You are happy with it, that is fine. I don't think You will end up with the performance of a 150# anvil or other concentrated mass. Some powerhammers have ben built using engine blocks, and while they did work, the block was far from ideal. My suggestion is to use the anvil because it sounds like it is almoast finished, but keep looking for a suitable used anvil or a heavy chunk of steel a foot high.
Dave Boyer - Sunday, 05/07/06 01:33:26 EDT

Second Thoughts: I'm beginning to change my mind about my 100 amp MIG. I was thinking that the ideal MIG setup would be something like Dave has, plus a second spool gun with .023 wire for light sheet. But my little Lincoln didn't cost much more than a spool gun would. Maybe it's time to start thinking of it as an incremental purchase rather than a stop-gap . . . .
Mike B - Sunday, 05/07/06 10:00:45 EDT

Welders: 3 or more welders for different purposes can be quite a bit cheaper than trying to buy one that "will do it all". I've got about $800 in my 3 welders, spread out over time that is pretty minor. The really nice Millers start about $2,500 or so I am told.
Ellen - Sunday, 05/07/06 12:59:54 EDT

Broken Froe: Even with the weld broken, I still got some good use out of it due to the 3/8" thick stock. This would be important if I was working in the field... The weld itself was good, but I didn't upset the scarf, and the stock thinned out at the weld. In addition, some stress cracks formed adjacent to the weld during post-weld forging/straightening.

This sort of makes me wonder as to how blacksmiths of the past handled such 'incidents'. Say I made a froe, the farmer rode twenty miles to start on a cabin, and the froe breaks during the first day. Needless to say, he's mad. What would have been the typical recourse?

The froe at the hardware store was .25" x 1.5" x ~16" (I have no idea in what order to put dimensions), with a section of pipe butt welded to the blade. It looked sturdy enough. I wonder how the manufactured ones hold out...
- Tom T - Sunday, 05/07/06 13:31:28 EDT

Vice and broken screw: I had a 4.5" post vise that I broke the screw on(don't ask...). A friend of mine did a careful job TIG welding it back together, and it's held up to normal usage for over 5 months now. If you've got a vise with a broken screw, it might have some good use left....
- Tom T - Sunday, 05/07/06 13:40:39 EDT

Tom T:: 18th or 19th century customer complaint dept. Well, depends on the customer. There was a Lancaster long rifle maker who delivered a rifle the customer was not happy with; customer came back and hit him in the head with an axe. Joe Kindig Jr. lists his estate tool inventory. Grin!

I should imagine a decent arc weld would hold up just fine on the commercial froe. Seems like Guru has done it that way; arc it, throw it back in the forge, dress up the weld, and no one's the wiser...
Ellen - Sunday, 05/07/06 14:36:55 EDT

Welders: I bought a Miller 251 for about 1600.00 on sale. Picked up a spool gun on ebay (new) for about 700.00. I have no complaints for the welder or the spool gun. I have been using them for a wide variety of jobs and am happy with the performance.
- Jeff - Sunday, 05/07/06 14:55:09 EDT

Ellen: Which Lacaster are you talking about? I live in Lancaster Ohio and we had some pretty skilled long gun makers here in that time period.
- Jeff G. - Sunday, 05/07/06 14:57:03 EDT

Anvil for sale: For those folks looking for a decent small used anvil, thereis one on eBay right now. A 125# Arm and Hammer (wrought, not a Vulcan) at about a buck a pound so far. 90 minutes left. Those wrought A&H anvils were excellent anvils.
vicopper - Sunday, 05/07/06 15:34:06 EDT

Jeff G.: This was the Lancaster county in PA. Can't remember the gunsmith's name for sure, but it might have been Melchoir Fordney. He made some nice rifles.
Ellen - Sunday, 05/07/06 18:47:02 EDT

Welders in General:
MIG and TIG machines have a LOT of high tech picky and relatively delicate electronics. You can literaly pickup thousands of junk MIG welders as scrap. They are wonderful but expensive tools designed for making MONEY by saving time.

Plain old buzz boxes at the most have a couple capacitors and a resistor or two to help stabilize the arc. These are parts that darn near last forever and any half wit technician (or even the owner) can replace them. The parts that fail the most often on buzz boxes is fans (bearing failures) and connectors (from cable yanking incidents). Both can be replaced by any mechanic or the owner.

SO. . if you are looking for a first (and possibly last) welder to invest in a buzz box like a Miller Thunderbolt 275 is the way to go. My little Miller has seen rain, snow, floods, abuse and disuse. 30 years later it works fine. The insulation has rotted off the cables and cord and it still works. A little cleaning and new cables and it will be good for at least another 10 years or so.

If I were going to invest in small expensive high tech welding tools it would be one of those little portable plasma torches that run on compressed air (or nitrogen). These things are SOOO useful and will work anywhere you have 120 volt power including off a small generator. They do not replace a torch for heavy work or welding/brazing but they will cut all the light structurals you need to build a small building that you then weld with your buzz box.
- guru - Sunday, 05/07/06 22:15:25 EDT

Mike B: It is a lot easier to change wire type and size in a spoolgun, so You probably wouldn't want to bother with seperate spoolguns, just use quick connectors on the shielding gas regulator. If Your 100 amp MIG works OK with .023 wire, just use that for sheetmetal. By the way, My spoolgun is 1950's technology and the mig is '80s technology. I can understand the schematics for both, and prefer equiptment of an older vintage for this reason. But if somebody was giving away inverter driven plasma cutters, I WOULD STAND IN LINE TO GET ONE.
Dave Boyer - Sunday, 05/07/06 23:43:24 EDT

AC Buzbox Welders: These are definatly the most bang for the buck. Mine is a '40s vintage Forny Farm Welder. In '72 we had to replace a blown capacitor, a half hour job and We used one that was laying around from an old submursable pump. I upgraded the cables about 15 years ago, the power cord was replaced last year. Other than the On/Off switch and wheels this thing has no moving parts. It has already outlasted My Dad and the guy He got it from, it will probably outlast Me.
Dave Boyer - Sunday, 05/07/06 23:54:16 EDT

Old welders: While making a run to the dumpster last weekend, I spotted an old Miller Thunderbolt 225 AC buzz box in the heap. Half the Case missing, the other half all bent like a pretzel, rusty, filled with caked mud, etc. No problem, I dragged it home anyway.

After tearing it down, I discovered that the reason it was dumped is that the brass thred rod that moves the core in and out was broken. The core itself was broken as well. It looks llike I can fix everything with some sweat and epoxy, pretty much. I'll have to do some jiggery-pokery on the brass all-thread to get taht working again, but I think I can do it. The remaining case half is already straightened and making another piece for it is no bg deal.

I really only grabbed the thing as I thought I might use the transformer to power an electrolytic de-rusting tank. But now I thin I'll make it work as a welder and give it to my brother. One of those "because I can" projects. It would be way more economical to just buy a new welder, but where's the fun in that?
vicopper - Monday, 05/08/06 08:37:25 EDT


Could I be your adopted brother on the next old fixer- upper welder you find ;)
- Burnt Forge - Monday, 05/08/06 09:05:16 EDT

OLD Welders:
The last old welders I worked on were a couple of 3PH motor generator welders. The shop had two locations and one had 440 AC and the other did not. The welders were ancient and the diagram said AWS, SAE or other standards organization. They were not designed for 220 but the leads for all the windings were at the junction box. An hour scratching my head and testing lead combinations and I had it wired for 220. Ran great.

I traded for an old gasoline motor generator welder. It is a different story. It's been outdoors too much and the multifunction switch is corroded beyond repair. It welds at ONE power setting, AC I think. . . All the ID tags lead to a Georgia gas company that has long been out of business. Spent a couple days researching it to no good end. However, much later a fellow came by and wanted to know if I would sell it (should have THEN). He said it was identical to a Marquette welder he had. So maybe there is hope for it. . . It had 120 and 220 VAC taps as well as welding hook ups so it could be a handy machine with some work. . . But I have a feeling it is going to end up in the scrap bin. . . hate to do it.
- guru - Monday, 05/08/06 12:58:28 EDT

vicopper-- 15 years ago I made a similar find at the local scrap dealer: a genuine by-God Miller Dialarc, a plug-in 250-amp AC/DC stick welder, vintage 1972 that someone had junked. I bought it for a hundred bucks (scrap dealer said he'd take it back for that if I could not get it to weld), found it welded fine-- but only within a limited amperage range. It had a mechanical problem identical to what you described, bad brass screw, etc. Plus, somehow it had shorted against itself. The fine people at Miller were a GREAT help, lotsa patient advice by phone, sold me ancient parts they still had on the shelf, never once said to buy a new one or take it to my local dealer (which was fine by me. Their motto: "We don't care if you live or die.") It is a wonderful welder, a truly great old beast and I dread hearing someday that Miller has been bought by some Taiwan pachinko machine manufacturer.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 05/08/06 19:34:52 EDT

Old welders,
I also got an old gas engine welder. Had sat in the weather for far too many years. Tires so rotten the tread came off rolling it 10'! Carried it home in my truck. That was a very full pick up as this is a 4 cylinder water cooler Continental engined Lincohn SA-200.
I put a battery in it and it cranked. I put fresh gas in it and nothing. Put new ignition bits like plugs, points,condensor,rotor cap and wires. Cranked, and started on the third turn. No weld. Stoned the comutator, welds!

I put some used tires and a coat of paint on it as well as a much needed muffler. I did end up putting a rebuilt water pump on it. $300 later, I have a super smooth motor generator welder, that although it smokes is a wonderful tool. I have about 10 hours invested in the fixes.

My buzz box is a mid 50's vintage Dayton. Traded a wornout radial arm saw for it. Welds good with most rods, but even though it claims to be DC, it will not under any circumstances run a 7018. Not even the fancy special AC versions of 7018. Does a bang up job with the 60 series rods and 309. Go figure.
ptree - Monday, 05/08/06 19:37:38 EDT

lathe queastion: I picked up a close out lathe that had never been used at a hardware store today. It was just covered with dust. I know the company is out of business that made them. I would like to find a source on a couple of spare parts like the timng belt and cog gears etc. My typical web sources don't have parts for them . The lathe is a tiny micro lathe model CJ9513. I think they were made by Tung Wo enterprise Co. It is sure a nice sturdy little fella. I would just like a part source for it. Anyone know of one? It was a china produced micro lathe as most of them are. I already checked with the folks at little machine shop. Also if anyone knows a good lathe/mill forum that someone could give me direction that would be great.
- Burnt Forge - Monday, 05/08/06 20:07:25 EDT

Is this your lathe in the link? It looks a heck of a lot like my harbor freight 7x10 mini lathe. That's my BIG lathe- the other three are watchmakers lathes (50mm swing). I replaced the belt on my harbor freight lathe early. If you want, I'll mail you my somewhat worn but still functional old one so you can see if it fits, or we could compare measurements and you could order from little machine shop. I've gotten most of my tooling from them and always been very happy with the products and service- except that you can't submit orders with any browser but internet explorer. Anyway, email me if you want the belt or measurements.


Dave 32768 - Monday, 05/08/06 20:25:20 EDT

Dave: Hi Dave
That is exactly the lathe I got. Wow cool!!
- Burnt Forge - Monday, 05/08/06 22:54:39 EDT

Miles/Miller: Fear not Milord, for verily I say unto you, the houses of Miller and Hobart are as one now !
3dogs - Tuesday, 05/09/06 00:47:01 EDT

And blessed may be that union, and we beseech you, oh Lord, that none of their offspring may turn yellow or have slanted eyes. For thou knowest no good can come of such evil.
Ellen - Tuesday, 05/09/06 01:02:13 EDT

Yellow Ofspring: That could happen if they were taken over by ESAB, but I doubt the eyes would slant as that is a Dutch company.
Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/09/06 01:55:26 EDT

Dave, good news. I'd just hate to see Miller quality gone. They've always been a top of the line company, and Hobart has been mighty fine too!
Ellen - Tuesday, 05/09/06 10:13:31 EDT

I have an old Lincoln AS-180 with a Wisconsin Model THD engine. It is a 1948 model and at 180 Amps or less, DC it can't be beat.

A couple of weeks ago I picked up a Lincoln AC 225 buzz box. for $20. It had a great stinger and leads, which without the welder would have been worth the $20!
John Odom - Tuesday, 05/09/06 10:47:45 EDT

Old Welder: No, not me! A friend gave me a gasoline powered welder a couple of weeks ago. Haven't done anything with it yet. It's been sitting unused in a barn for about ten years. Reportedly it was working fine when my friend moved to the other end of the state (he bought a newer Bobcat (I think) for his ranch needs.

It is a Miller, Bantam, with a Kohler engine. 180(possibly 200 amps)AC/DC, 100% duty cycle (like that matters, how fast can YOU change electrodes?), 100' long leads, and 4 110V plug ins. at 30A.

It's heavy, but has a lifting eye and I have a tractor, could go on a small trailer, or up to my cabin, or ???

Haven't cleaned it up, changed the oil, cleaned the carb yet, it's on the back burner. Has the infamous rope pull recoil, just the notched wheel you manually coil the rope around.

I am suspecting late 1940's or early 1950's. Any information or tips on getting it running and using it will be greatly appreciated. It looks quite heavy duty, in it's class.

Ellen - Tuesday, 05/09/06 11:18:55 EDT

Old Welder: Ellen
You will likely need to clean up the armatuer/contacts (not sure the proper term) with fine sandpaper if you get a real week spark trying to weld with it. When they sit they rust/glaze over. I am no expert. When you get it running from sitting this will likely be the next problem you run into. Do that and it will likely welded like a charm. Just be really darn careful. Some folks put the paper on a stick while it is running to clean it up. I am not saying to do that. I am just saying what other crazy folks do.
- Burnt Forge - Tuesday, 05/09/06 12:05:30 EDT

Ellen's Welder: I always used to clean the slip rings on my Miller AEAD200LE Rectified alternator welder(circa 1980), with a light application of a gray typewriter eraser, whilst the beast was running. If it has been sitting for 10 years, and it wasn't prepped before it was stored you'll probably need to pull the carburetor and clean the varnish out of it with a spray carb cleaner. You'll need a new carb kit with gaskets and needle valves, too. If that's a big hassle, you can UPS it to my house for disposal. (heh, heh, heh.)Riiiiight.
3dogs - Tuesday, 05/09/06 14:44:09 EDT

Old welder: Ellen,

I had an old Lincoln from abut that era, with a Wisconsin engine. Also rope start like yours. In cold Colorado weather it was darn near impossible to get it to spin enough to fire the magnetos. I came up with a simple,but effective solution:

The welder was mounted to the bed of my crane truck, so it was n close proximity to 12 volt power. I scavenged an old starter motor off of some wreck and welded a V-belt pulley on the shaft. Easier to do that than to try to get the Bendix gear off, etc. I wired the starter motor to the battery in the truck with a disconnect switch by the welder. The starter motor was mounted on a pivot next to the welder so that I could take a 3/8" V-belt and fit it on the starter and the welder's rope pulley, and then hit the switch on the starter. When the welder fired, I just released the handle on the starter to give the belt some slack and it jumped off the pulleys slick as can be. Shut off the starter, pick up the belt and hang it on the welder and you're ready to weld. Wasn't much harder to operate than a starter button and about $300 cheaper than a starter kit for the welder. Something to think about.
vicopper - Tuesday, 05/09/06 15:24:38 EDT

back to the fore: Gents and Ladies,
I've one brief question about froes. Having never seen one in action, and understanding that it is hit on the spine, where do you strike once the "blade" is buried in the log? Assuming I decide to make board out of the 5 foot long by 12 in diameter logs I've got laying around.
- dragonboy - Tuesday, 05/09/06 15:41:26 EDT

sorry that should be.. back to the froe.
- dragonboy - Tuesday, 05/09/06 15:42:23 EDT

dragonboy-- you smite the upside eedge of the end of the froe that is protruding from the log or stump or plank or whatever. So you gotta have a froe somewhat longer than 12 inches. You lever the froe a bit, gently, to open the split, as you go. This is how shakes and shingles and clapboard siding and all sorts of other useful shapes were made before the advent of the circular saw and the bandsaw.
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 05/09/06 15:48:03 EDT

to and Froe: It also helps when the froe is wider than the log or board. You can continue to strike the part that sticks out while helping the other side by pressing downward (cutward).

When splitting decent hardwood, even green, very little more is needed than to start the froe. In wood like pine you can bury it in green lumber and in scyamore and a couple other interlaced grain woods you can push a wedge all the way through and not have them split. . Some woods are suitable for splitting and others are not.
- guru - Tuesday, 05/09/06 16:09:14 EDT

Vicopper, why not just put a small wheel on that starter motor and use it like the tire on a tire powerhammered---just in contact as needed---you don't have to chase the vbelt then.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/09/06 17:31:05 EDT

John Odom: Ellen: Good score on the welder. A little TLC to make up for the years of neglect and it will run fine.

Mine is pull-start and usually fires right off. Use Stabil in the Gas and give it a shot of ether if it doesn't want to take off in a couple of pulls.
John Odom - Tuesday, 05/09/06 18:04:54 EDT

Thanks for the feedback on the "new" welder; I do appreciate and it is very helpful.. Had thought of the carb, the plug, etc, but not the contact points. I do have a spray can of "Starter Fluid" in my shop, handy for diesel stuff that's ornery. It is a solid old machine in pretty good shape, appearance wise. In a day or two I'll post a couple of pictures in the gallery at Forgemagic. Thanks guys!
Ellen - Tuesday, 05/09/06 18:45:36 EDT

Thomas: On account of I didn't think of it.
vicopper - Tuesday, 05/09/06 19:18:30 EDT

Brought To My Attention: My wife brought to my attention that I tend to write arrogantly when I post on message boards. She knows I am not like this in person. She mentions when I write emails and post messages she doesn't really know who it is. It doesn't seem like me. She says I tend to be mean and short with folks. If I post that way here I am SORRY. I think being sick all the time and in pain everyday has something to do with it. Sorry anyway.
- Burnt Forge - Tuesday, 05/09/06 19:24:16 EDT

New old welder!: I picked myself up a 1992 vintage Miller Thunderbolt 225 AC/DC welder yesterday for $150. This seemed like a reasonable deal to the folks I talked to.

Is there some maintenace I should do before I fire this thing up for the first time?

From the looks of it, it's only been lightly used, and everything looks to be in good shape on the outside. The adjustment crank on top turned reasonably well, but took some effort.
- Tom T - Tuesday, 05/09/06 19:51:06 EDT

The froe; a small primer: The froe has a forge welded, tapered eye, 1¼" in diameter or larger, with the larger diameter on the cutting edge side. The wooden haft is tapered to match, and is inserted from the larger diameter to smaller, so that it chokes into the eye.

The blade cross-section is "wedge shaped" being tapered all the way from the thick back to the cutting edge. There is no final included angle as on, say, a cold chisel. Many old froes were made of wrought iron or mild steel with no regard for a high carbon edge. They were always used on the wood end grain, so it wasn't deemed necessary that they be super sharp. Hence, the old expression, "It's dull as a froe!"

The back of the blade is struck with a wooden froe club. When bowling pins were formerly made of maple, they made good froe clubs.

I've done a little wood splitting, but I don't see myself trying to rive a 5 foot log with a froe. I have split logs about that size, but I used wedges on the side.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 05/09/06 19:54:15 EDT

Ellen's old welder: Ellen, I used a stone on the comutators. A friend who had mucho experience with these welders told me that a very weak spark, and no real arc was probably dirty oxidized comutators. If you pull the sheet metal bullet off the end of the unit you will see the brushes. Note that there is both an exciter and main brushes. He loaned me a stone. This was a white, very soft, sort of grainy chalk. I gripped it with a vise grip, and with the machine turning lightly applied the stone. In maybe 5 seconds I saw sparking at the brushes. This stone is supposed to not leave a hard grit that will charge into the copper parts and eat the brushes. I also first redid the brush leads as the terninals were steel and rusted. I drilled out the terninals and replaced.

I have a Marvel updraft carb. Nothing much to rebuild. I did dumped the gas tank, and coolant and replace with new.
If you have twist on connections for the leads they may be corroded and need replaced but they are cheap.(Mine were bad) The reoststs on the back of the control panel may need the attention of that soft stone as well. Mine did.

He said the stone was a welders supply item.
If you go to Lincohn's web site, with you model and serial # they have FREE downloads of manuals and parts books.
Good luck
ptree - Tuesday, 05/09/06 20:38:49 EDT

Mauls for striking Froes: Frank Turley,
In the wetter part of the country, such as KY and IN. We have an abundance of flowering Dogwood trees. They grow as third canopy in the forrest, and the root knot from Dogwoods is the favorite for making froe mauls from. It is very dense, and harder than woodpecker lips when dried. The difficulty is digging them up, as they have roots that go to the center of the earth. I have supplied a maul or two when I have made froes. Always use a dogwood root knot. Just hatchet them a bit to shape.
ptree - Tuesday, 05/09/06 20:43:02 EDT

Maintainance on ANY old welder: One thing that should not be overlooked on an older machine is that grinding swarf or filings may have acumulated on the parts that are magnetised while in use. This is particularly a problem on machines used inside a shop. Remove the sheetmetal enough to brush / blow off any acumulated debris, as the magnetic particles move slightly from the electricity, wear through insulation and can bridge enough to short out. This can start a severe arc that can melt windings and wreck an otherwise good machine. My engine drive is a '59 Hobart with a Wisconson THD. I make it a point now to be sure I run it every year weather I need to or not, and use a fuel stabilizer. It sat for 15+ years once, I had a hard time getting it to run on the shmutz that used to be gasoline in the tank. This machine is started with a hand crank, starts right up if not left sitting for years on end.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/09/06 22:07:36 EDT

Dogwood. ptree.:
That is good to know, even though I live far from dogwoods. I have made wooden mallets of dogwood for moving hot steel. There is no flash, and the mallet head seems to last a very long time. I use wooden or rawhide mallets for delicate ironwork and for straightening twists, where I want to avoid steel hammer marks.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 05/09/06 22:08:59 EDT

Dogwood was a favorite for steam loom shuttles due to its hardness and natural lubricity. As a white wood it also did not stain.

Dogwood is also excellent for wooden spoons and will take a fine finish on its own.

Dogwood does indeed make fine mallets as it is fairly heavy and dense. It is also good for plane shoes. The trees do not grow very large so you have to usualy use whole chunks of truck split in quarters if you need a large piece.

I lucked into a piece and wish I had been more frugal with how I used it.
- guru - Tuesday, 05/09/06 22:17:53 EDT

Tom T's welder: is the same one I found in the dumpster, but AC/DC and in a lot better condition, it sounds like. A good buy!

Like Dave said, blow out all the crud, spritz it with contact cleaner and blow it out again. Then clean up any oxidized contacts and check the lead sockets. Clean them out with fine sandpaper.

That crank on top moves the choke up and down on a brass thread rod. The nut for it is captive inth etop of the choke, which is made of bakelite or similar composite material. Remove the handle, take off the sheet metal cover and lightly wire brush the brass threads a bit. Spray a tiny bit of dry lube on the threads and work it up and down gently until it loosens up a bit. It may still be stiff from the "brakes" on it. These are located at the sides of the transformer laminations and consist of plastic "shoes" that are loaded by a screw with a stop nut. Try loosening them up a bit before you do the fiddling with the crank, so lyou're not fighting the brakes. The re-set everything so it will go up and down easily, but not vibrate its way down when the machine is humming along welding.

The cooling fan is wired into the power switch and is 220 volt. It can be taken apart and cleaned up if necessary to maek it function. Mine hads a broken wire at the wiinding, but I managed to fish it out and solder it back together; works fine, now.

Yours is AC/DC, so it has a rectifier network between the transformer and the lead sockets. Again, clean all contact surfaces and snug them up. If the rectifiers are good, all is well. If not, then you either spend sme bucks or have an AC only machine.

The windings on mine are aluminum. If yours are too, be cautious bending them around too much, or they'll break. Use a dielectric contact grease when fittin gthem to any copper or brass contact points, if you don't wan tproblems later. You can get the grease at any electrical supply; it is used for aluminum wiring in breaker boxes and such.

Let us know how it comes out.
vicopper - Tuesday, 05/09/06 22:48:06 EDT

Hard wood mallets: I ahve access t lignum vitae, a really heavy hard wood. Good for mallets and wooden bearings on lineshafts. Dirveshaft bearings on old ships used it also, I'm told. Natural lubricity. Makes darn fine knife handles, I've found.
vicopper - Tuesday, 05/09/06 22:50:23 EDT

Comutator Stones: I still have a couple of stones that I used 35 years ago when I worked at a shop that rebuilt Lincoln Motor-Generator welders. There are two types of stone:
Diamond D comutator Dressing Stone (Grade F or Grade 60) which is a hard stone, almost like fine sandstone for cleaning the copper commutator strips, and
Diamon D Brush Seater (marked Grade FH Grade #6). This is a soft white stone, almost as soft as chalk. When you hold it against the running commutator, it creates a small cloud of dust that gets sucked under the newly installed brushes and wears them quickly to the shape of the commutator for a better contact for when you run the welder under load.

The stones were made by Co-operative Utilities Co in Philadelphia, but they don't appear to be around any longer.

At the time we were told never to use emery cloth since the grit could contaminate the bearings. Anyone know if that is true?
DonS - Wednesday, 05/10/06 00:09:45 EDT

Don S - Comutators: Emery use around comutators was always discouraged due to the possibility of the emery abrasive charging into the soft copper comutator and grinding the brushes away. Fine flint abrasive paper, the cheap stuff used on wood, is not suposed to charge the copper. I have used silicon carbide "wet or dry" paper folowed by crocus cloth sucessfully in spite of the above directions. This is when turing comutators on a lathe, not holding abrasives against a running piece of equiptment. For the cleaning sticks check with a motor shop, or as a flyer, somebody who services vacuum cleaners, I have heard mention of them there.
Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 05/10/06 00:36:14 EDT

lignum vitae: Does this wood have some toxicity to it? I ask as I can not remember and a'net search tells me nada. Thanks
Ralph - Wednesday, 05/10/06 00:43:59 EDT

Lignum vitae: I have seen cutting boards made of it, so I hope it isn't toxic. Shaft bearings for modern boats are normally made of rubber. One of My friends had one fail [the rubber was no longer there, just the brass shell] in the southern Bahamas. He carved some lignum vitae [it grows wild there] sections to take up the space between the shaft and shell and sucessfully got back to florida that way.
Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 05/10/06 02:37:33 EDT

Lignum Vitae: It is allergenic to some people, but not toxic to the general population.. Yes, drive shaft bearings for ships were made of it. The college I attended had some big chunks we got from the nearby shipyard. Its use in big ships in WWI supposedly severely depleated it in the West Indies, to the point that substitutes were researched. I used little pieces of it for bandsaw guides etc. That was more than 50 yrs ago. My stash is all gone now.
John Odom - Wednesday, 05/10/06 07:43:59 EDT

Lignum Vitae:
Besides ship bearings it was also used for water turbines and has largely been replaced by rubber bearings. Important to life of rubber bearings is the forced water supply that should be filtered to keep dirt out of the bearing. When the filter clogs or pump fails the bearing will keep working until some grit into the bearing or it overheats.

All the Lignum Vitae bearings I have seen were old and very worn out. Nothing magic about it.

Dust from all fruit woods and densly resinous woods should not be inhaled and very fine dust from sanding should be kept off the skin. Folks that are not alleargic can become sensitized to it from repeat exposures.

Lignum Vitae does indeed make great carvers mallets. Where steel will distroy your chisles Lignum Vitae is dense enough that it hits very hard but does not wreck your tools.

Lignum Vitae along with Ebony are in short supply. The slow growing trees under a certain size are not supposed to be cut. But they are and then delivered to the mills where they rot because the mills can be caught where the loggers cannot.

In Costa Rica certain rare trees cannot be cut up even if they fall dead on your property. They know that if trade in "old" wood like "old" Ivory is allowed then there will be poaching and the trees will never come back. So, no trade whatsoever.
- guru - Wednesday, 05/10/06 08:26:22 EDT

Lignum Vitae and Dogwood:
In North America Dogwood was used a great deal for water bearings as well and has ocassionaly been used as a replacement for Lignum Vitae. It is not quite as good but sometimes you use what you have. There are still applications for oil impregnated wood bearings as well.
- guru - Wednesday, 05/10/06 08:38:17 EDT

Lignum Vitae: Fortunately, I live where it grows. There are several large lignum vitae trees on th emuseum property and I get hurricane downfall form them, and trimmings, some as big as 10" diameter. Thee is one tree that is slated to be felled to make room for some construction but, as much as I woul dlike ot have the wood, I am fighting them on cutting it down. It seems unnecessary to me, and the tree is not easily least, not in my lifetime. It is stupidity and shortsightedness to cut down a tree that you could easily work around.

The toxicity of llignum vitae seems overblown to me. Yes, there ae people who are sensitive, but then there are people who wil ldie if they eat a teeny little piece of peanut. That does not make peanuts inherently toxic, nor does it make lignum vitae toxic.

In practice, most woods that have any oil content at all will be irritating to the lungs and mucosa if ingested or breathed. Fine sanding dust from any wood should not be breathed, and should be removed from the skin promptly. In a climate where you sweat copiously, your own sweat will leech the oils out of the wood and irritate your skin.

Take reasonable precautions if you're not normally allergic, and greater precautions is you've ever been allergic to anything. If you are sensitive, you don't want to find out by having great big pieces of your hide sluff off or suddenly go into anaphylaxic shock. As it says on the supposedly safe cleaning product label, "Test on a small area in an inconspicuous spot. If problems occur, do not use." That seems to be sound advice for woods and other substances.
vicopper - Wednesday, 05/10/06 11:34:50 EDT

Cleaning Commuters: I've been guilty more than once of cleaning commuters with emery paper. Most recently on a junked circular saw I converted to an abrasive cutoff, so a little emery grit is the least those bearings have to deal with...

Could someone outline the proper way of cleaning them? I have some very fine arkansas stone slips for polishing steel- would these be appropriate to use, or would there be the same problem with grit embedding in the copper?

Dave 32768 - Wednesday, 05/10/06 11:49:13 EDT

Wood bearings: I recall my old Radio Flyer wagon having oiled wooden wheel bearing sleeves on it. Even at 8 years old, it occurred to me that it was a pretty cheesy arrangement, especially in the sandy soil we had, and oiling them more just helped the sand do its work.
3dogs - Wednesday, 05/10/06 12:20:13 EDT

Filling up those idle hours: now that you have the forge orifices all appropriately calibrated as to latitude and longitude and the fly-press bolted down against freak winds, and the trip hammer tuned, and the leg vise aligned with your lee lines, and the drill press lubed, and the anvil situated properly to your normal working height and the tongs, screw drivers, pliers, hardies and fullers all alphabetized, get to work! Check this out:
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 05/10/06 17:09:09 EDT

old welders.: I too blew out a many year collection of dust and grit. (Mine had been stored next to a concrete ready mix plant.)
ptree - Wednesday, 05/10/06 18:16:08 EDT

But Miles---I don't wear Lee's how can I align my post vises?

Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/10/06 18:36:21 EDT

Blacksmith's Journal stuff: I just got done making the leaf/tendril drawer pull from the last blacksmith's journal. It looks pretty nice, but takes awhile to make. I think I'd have to charge $30 for each drawer pull if I were to be selling them full time. How much do you folks usually charge for somewhat exotic hand forged drawer pulls?
- Tom T - Wednesday, 05/10/06 18:47:22 EDT

Thomas-- you who generate your own karmic auras can skip all that and get right to building the missile.
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 05/10/06 18:47:27 EDT

Tom T.: If you are like a lot of us, 30 bucks might sound like a lot for one little drawer pull. But if you are making nice stuff and people want something nicely made and different from what their neighbors got at Lowes, than 30 bucks sounds pretty reasonable. There are people out there more than willing to pay good money for quality work. Sometimes finding them can be tough, but they are out there. I have been amazed at the money I have made on some of my pieces. And I have been discouraged by the people who want a custom piece at a Kmart price.
- Jeff G. - Wednesday, 05/10/06 21:18:31 EDT

Miles the flux capacitor on my Karmic Generator has gone all wonky and I keep fluttering between coming back as a snake or a Brahma bull---hmm maybe it's due to me being stuck here between Sandpile and Ellen; but I'm sure she is a whole lot nicer to snakes than Sandpile is to bulls...

Thomas off to calibrate my "Mr Forgeweld"
- Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 05/10/06 22:10:11 EDT

Thomas: My philosophy with snakes and everything else living is "to live and let live, unless they are bothering me or I am hungry". Rattlesnake out in the desert; great, have a nice day! Rattlesnake living under my cabin = pretty hat band. Besides you are already in the transmutation process of becoming a.....drumroll here.....Gila Monster, last I heard. Nice critters! I like 'em.
Ellen - Wednesday, 05/10/06 22:36:10 EDT

Cleaning Comutaters: Fine flint paper or the abrasive sticks mentioned in the other post are the recommended method. The black coating is normal, and will get there soon if cleaned off. If the comutater is scored up, out of round or has a deep worn area, it needs to be turned in a lathe and polished. If cut down to the mica, the mica needs to be undercut. Commuters however, are best cleaned with soap & water LOL.
Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 05/10/06 22:43:36 EDT

drawer pull pricing: Jeff G: I did think it sounded a bit much, but I think they are only about 2x what you pay at Lowe's for their higher end pieces, so that kind of put's it in perspective. I've also observed that if prices are too low, then they loose their perceived value. Example, I sell the drawer pulls at a $5 a piece at a craft show. People think they're cheap, and pass them by. I markup the price to $50, and all of a sudden they are neat, one of a kind pieces.

Aside from that, here's what I did. I worked the leaf design into a fireplace poker end, and will make the matching broom, and shovel. That way, I can more easily get a good price for the leaf feature by rolling it in with a more expensive product. The price differential is less noticeable that way.

For those that know the leaf/tendril I'm talking about, I took a 1/2" sq bar, made a tendril out of the last 5 inches, then made the leaf portion out of 1/2" sq as well. I scarfed the bottom of the leaf, and lap welded it to the base of the tendril. If someone's interested, I can put up some pictures.
- Tom T - Thursday, 05/11/06 13:37:19 EDT

Pricing Stuff:
This kind of thing is an expensive dod-dad. It is stuf for folks with lots of money. I found when I was blacksmithing the nobody that I knew including myself could afford the stuff I made. Don't think in terms of what YOU can afford. On the other hand, when making pricey stuff think about what the rich expect. They expect good fit and finish, consistancy and delivery on-time. They buy what they want and want it NOW.

The other thing to consider is that you just made one. How good will you be when you make a dozen? Or 50? You will get much faster. When you watch the various demonstrators making their trade mark items they are VERY fast. But that is because they have made a lot of the same thing. To be competitive (even in a high dollar market) you have to have that level of efficiency. If it is something that can be made just as well using tools and machinery that you do not have, then someone is going to beat your time by half and probably get the same price. . . Because they can deliver sooner.

Many times you hear folks talk about railings for $300 - $400 a running foot and thing WOW that is pricey, but in fact the top stuff that is all hand made should and DOES go for $1000 to ten times that per foot. A fellow I recently met said that $50/lb was a good price for all hand made work and was easier to figure. The more dense and complex a piece got or the taller it got the more it weighed and the higher the price. But these are high art prices. However, a lot of folks try to compete against fabricated rails with high art hand made stuff and you just cannot give you work away like that.
- guru - Thursday, 05/11/06 13:48:09 EDT

Pricing stuff: I had a chance to watch Wendell Broussard do some repousse work at the last NWBA conference. He said that a single repousse leaf ran around $300, which I see as a bargain after seeing him do the work. Him and Doug Wilson put together a wall sconce over the course of a couple days, and it had 3 leaves in it, plus a wall plate. We're talking $1500-2000 for a 3-armed wall sconce, without the finish.

As blacksmith's, we need to keep in mind that if a car dealer is charging $150 for installing spark plugs in my honda(at least tried to), I better be able to get at least $30 for a nice drawer pull.
- Tom T - Thursday, 05/11/06 14:40:07 EDT

snakes--bulls: THOMAS P. You think I am rough on bulls-- you should see me with the buzz tails. Admittly I have had more run-ins with bulls, than buzz-tails. I have had too many friends and dogs, horses, calves, cows get bitten. Several near misses on myself and my kids, to walk off and leave them where they could get up around the pens or house and shop.

I don't hunt them but they better keep to themselves and not shake their tails.Grin.

Did you ever see what a rattlesnake bite does to a hand or leg--The venom starts the digestion for the snake.

sandpile - Thursday, 05/11/06 22:58:03 EDT

DOGWOOD- KNOTS: PTREE-- While we were living in MO. I saw a few of the old wooden post-mauls that were shaped from the root and knot of a Dogwood. The local old timers used these in place of steel mauls to drive sharpened line posts in the fences.

Worked great, if your aim was good.grin.

sandpile - Thursday, 05/11/06 23:12:06 EDT

Here in Michigan we have a small rattles snake, the Massasauga. It is ilegal to molest or disturb this snake, no matter if it is in your yard or whatnot. Last year, a 70lb Lab was bitten and died. Now, I know many people who would put thier dogs and children ahead of a poisonous snake. That means the the three S rule. Shoot, shovel, and shut up.

About dogwoods, I have just been thinking of digging up a 12 foot dogwood from the back woods and putting it out front in the yard. That root to China has me kinda worried that it might be more work than I want to do.
Bob H - Friday, 05/12/06 02:07:52 EDT

Snakes: If anyone remembers the late Lewis Grizzard, a writer, He was afraid of the dreaded "Coppeer headded water rattler" which I suppose was any snake He ever saw. Great stories.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 05/12/06 02:23:21 EDT

Now me, I think snakes serve a good purpose, and see no need to just kill them. BUT, poisonous snakes in the yard are another thing.

We have gotten over 2 inches of rain here last day or two. Still raining, and more on the forecast. 38 degress tonight.
Bob H - Friday, 05/12/06 02:35:04 EDT

Bob H: My wife's uncle used to transplant dogwoods from the family wood lot to other yards all the time. He dug a root ball just like any other tree and didn't seem to have any problems.
- Jeff G. - Friday, 05/12/06 07:25:34 EDT

Bob H
It's good to see a man who has snake/family priority in order. I imagine you would stick to your current strategy even if you got caught, wouldn't you?

I would think that 12' might be a little past the stage where a dogwood could be safely moved. The dogwoods seem to be having a little trouble here in Southern Indiana.
- JohnW - Friday, 05/12/06 09:26:10 EDT

Pricing; Estimating: I'm not always on the money, even after lo, these many years.

Just a note to not charge by size. Either charge (largely by time) or charge by what the traffic will bear. For this latter, I'm thinking of sculpture and high end art. I just finished some acanthus leaf lever handles and I forged some trim and hinged lock covers for the dead bolts, all fit to store-bought Baldwin hardware. It was very time consuming because of the amount of measuring, layout, and fitting. Drilling and tapping was involved for the spindle fit. The final result was a few small pieces, but each involving boo coo time and energy. That kind of work what my old mentor, Victor Vera, called "[hecky darned] clockwork".

P.S. For the spring latch, one needs to order one with a stronger "lever spring", to hold up the weight of the offset handle. A regular doorknob spring will allow the lever to droop down over time. Not good.
- Frank Turley - Friday, 05/12/06 09:32:47 EDT

Pure Iron sample request:

Wagner Companies has put up a Pure Iron sample request form online. Please direct anyone requesting a sample to this page. Wagner Companies will then ship them a sample once we receive material in June.

You can also get to the link by clicking on it from the Pure Iron page within

Pure Iron Sample Request
- guru - Friday, 05/12/06 09:33:02 EDT

Pure iron...: Is it just me, or is the Wagner companies web page broke?

Frank, thanks for the advice. I make a couple different sizes of these craft show leaf hooks, a mini and a medium, and the small one actually takes longer because of the awkwardness in handling. The initial impression is that the small one should cost less, but really it needs to cost more, or at least the same. I wonder if this feeling like smaller should be cheaper is a western only notion, like quantity discounts. Somewhere travelogue covering some journer to a far eastern street vendor said when they tried to by all of an item, the seller would usually either refuse, or charge more for each one. The reasoning being that if they want all, or a good amount of the item, then it must be a 'good thing', and the price raised.
- Tom T - Friday, 05/12/06 11:21:42 EDT

Pure Iron: The live link worked for me, Tom.
vicopper - Friday, 05/12/06 12:53:12 EDT

Size.: A well made weanie fork should often be priced higher than a well made fire poker.
- Frank Turley - Friday, 05/12/06 14:42:43 EDT

Looking for two good men: Ron Hurd, plant manager of Ball & Ball of Exton, Pennsylvania, is looking to hire two blacksmiths. or ph 610-363-7330.
Frank Turley - Friday, 05/12/06 14:47:56 EDT

Wagner link worked for me.
Ellen - Friday, 05/12/06 15:23:13 EDT

What about a beanie fork- assuming its well made, of course.
Shouldnt that be even more than a weanie fork?
- Ries - Friday, 05/12/06 19:09:37 EDT

Copyright Infringers:
It is that season again. . . The other day I found an ebay book seller using most of my review of the latest Machinery's Handbook CD as their ad on ebay including original photos and images (see link to our review below).

Then today a fellow registered their site on the Blacksmiths Ring and had a page with a dozen images taken from other web sites. There was images and text from anvilfire, images from Paw-Paw's, AFC and several other's that I recognized.

If you see images or text from anvilfire on another site it is probably stolen. Please let us know.

For our book reviews we almost never use the publisher's puny images. We setup and photograph the book or video like it was a product WE were selling. Generally our images are better than the publishers. Out of over 50 reviews we have only used about 5 publisher images and those were usualy on reviews by others. At least three of the 3D perspective images were created from flat scans of books I did not have.
Machinery's CD
- guru - Friday, 05/12/06 19:36:08 EDT

Easy way to tell what kind of snake it is.: If it on land it is a rattle snake, if it is in the water it is a water mocasin[spelling]. You can go wrong with that one.
- firebug - Friday, 05/12/06 21:17:13 EDT

supposed to be 'can't go wrong': sorry
- firebug - Friday, 05/12/06 21:19:27 EDT

Infringments: Jock, do You have any recourse against that, or do you have to be satisfied wagging the shame finger at them??
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 05/12/06 22:51:15 EDT

firebug-- Not so. We have a perfectly harmless reptile here in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, big and scary, called a bull snake, which looks for all the world like a rattler, even shakes its tail in the brush to mimic that heartstopping sound a rattler makes. Won't hurt you, unless you happen to be a baby bird or a rodent. Leave the damn snakes alone.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 05/13/06 00:31:18 EDT

Infringing Snakes:
Well. .. You can take them to court that is about all and is complicated and expensive. But then a letter usually takes care of it. In the case of Frankie8acres he found that the "little anvil site" that he snubbed his nose at had a lot of traffic and anyone googling his ID found he was a snake.

When you are on the Internet you live in a glass house. If someone infringes like Frankie did again and is just as petulant then they will find themselves on the front page of anvilfire.

At least ebay has a reporting mechanism now. I doubt that they do more than they did in the past but at least they make reporting bad behaviour easier.
- guru - Saturday, 05/13/06 08:20:22 EDT

Bull Snakes: Are very good snakes, and are popular around here as pets. Captive born ones are sold in a couple of pet stores. My nephew had one, which failed the college entrance exam, and he left the little guy with me (his mother is squeamish at feeding time); in short order the little guy was 6' long, graduated from college and didn't have room for the snake. I found him (the snake, that is) a happy home as a group pet in a children's babysitting facility...a.k.a. local high school. They're quite commonly used in biology classes to show the kids that most snakes are gentle and harmless.

Copyright infringers: wet rawhide, lots of sun, red ants and honey.
Ellen - Saturday, 05/13/06 09:59:30 EDT

Spiral stairs: I am wondering if any of you have ever seen a book that covers building spiral stairs in depth. I am currently building my first one and it is working out very well, but I would like to read something by somebody who has some experience. Doing the math and all that is not a problem for me, but I think there must be tricks that would make building them a little easier. The one I am building is 6' dia and 11' tall. I have built it completly by myself and have already figured out a couple of things that would be easier (like an assistant) but would still like to get some advice. Once I get the rail on I'll try to post some pics on Iforge, as I am kinda proud as to how it is turning out. Anyhow, if you know of anything, I would be grateful.
- Jeff G. - Saturday, 05/13/06 11:17:44 EDT

Ellen: Thanks Ellen, that made me laugh! But you forgot to use toothpicks to hold the eyelids open! But I like the way you think!
Bob H. - Saturday, 05/13/06 12:04:30 EDT

Bob H.: Oh, I thought you knew the whole Apache technique; one of the things done before staking out on the anthill to slice off the eyelids; no toothpicks are then necessary.

You doing better without your gall bladder I hope?
Ellen - Saturday, 05/13/06 12:42:58 EDT

Snakes: We have two wonderful snakes around S. Indiana. Black snakes and King snakes. Both get pretty big. The king snake is very aggresive and will bite, but their favorite prey is Copperhead snakes. This makes them well appreciated. Often in times past when homes were log and on stone piers, copperheads liked to nest under the house. Many people would find a King snake and take it home to let IT live under the house. No more mice or Copperheads.
- ptree - Saturday, 05/13/06 16:43:59 EDT

Ellen, I've read enough westerns and other books to know quite a few of the old tricks like that. Pitch pines slivers and all.

Having the gall bladder out has solved some of my problems, but aparently not all. Still not back to work.

Been out in my barn sorting stuff and cleaning up. When my dad died, I got a lot of his tools and stuff. Today I am going thru gobs of taps and sorting them out, so they will be more organized. Same thing with number size drills. I've got some odd taps so far. 1/4-26 and 5/16-20. Over 20 taps of each of those sizes. But I am still just getting started. And there are more at my mom's yet to be dug out.
- Bob H. - Saturday, 05/13/06 16:48:57 EDT

Spiral Stairs:
NOMMA has a stairs and railings manual that covers spiral stairs. I do not know if you have to be a member to get it but try their site. If you cannot find it let me know as I have some contacts at NOMMA.
- guru - Saturday, 05/13/06 18:01:06 EDT

hofi - Saturday, 05/13/06 18:33:03 EDT

Hammer To Anvil Ratio: I was just reading Guru's hammer to anvil ratio post. I was sitting tonight in my friends blacksmith shop watching him work. He was using a 7 lb straight peen with just one hand. Then he was drawing out heavier work and was swinging a 12 lb straight pein with one hand. They each had normal length handles. He used them with ease and had very good hammer control. His anvil is in the 200 lbs range. When he used the 12 lb it had an entire different ring tone. I thought you all would get a kick out of someone who can swing a large hammer like we use 2 through 2 1/2 pounders. I think his hammers were a little big for the anvil. It sure drew his work out fast. I would be afraid to see what he used for a striking hammer. I think the anvil would jump of its stand and go hide...LOLOL.
- Burnt Forge - Saturday, 05/13/06 23:40:56 EDT

Rough & Tumble: Today I went to the Spring Steam Up at Rough & Tumble near Kinser, Pa.[a stone's throw East of Lancaster] Altho this is primarilary a Steam & Gas engine meet, they have a blacksmith shop. They recently aquired a rather large anvil. It is 590# with a carbon steel forged top half and a forged lower half. Looking in AIA we seemed to think it MAY be a Hay Budden. The serial # is in the right place, and would indicate it was made in the proper era for that type construction. They also recently got a small flypress and got the DuPont hammer working, but nobody was runing the DuPont today. Blacksmith Days comes up June 9&10...
Dave Boyer - Saturday, 05/13/06 23:45:52 EDT

BIG hand hammers:
I have briefly swung an 8 pound hand sledge while drawing some 1" stock. . . That is a LOT of hammer! Far too much for me. But for the dozen or so blows used it really moved some metal.

When we were doing this we were using a 200 pound anvil and just working over the center. It bounced around a bit but did not SEEM too bad. . However, I cannot swing an 8 pound hand hammer with any speed (it did not have a sledge length handle) and if I had been working on the edges or horn I know the anvil would have been too light.

If you watch a smith work and his anvil is dancing around you KNOW he is wasting a lot of effort. You rarely see it but it does happen. The worst I have seen is in the Anvil and Forge videos in the scene immediately following the one where the guy says "all you need is a little 65 pound farriers anvil". Then he proceeds to make the anvil dance several inches in different directions with every blow. . .

Bolting down the anvil helps but then the movement goes into the kind of vibration that you cannot see but is still wasted energy. You just cannot beat mass.

Many folks complain about heavy anvils just being TOO big. Some old European heavy anvils, particularly the German and Austrian patterns have heavier bodies and bases so that you have a very heavy anvil that is not much larger than a light anvil. We all have limited space in our shops and the walk around a realy large anvil can be a significant efficiency drag. But heavy anvils do not need to be huge. However, it is easier to SELL visible size.

German Anvils
- guru - Sunday, 05/14/06 09:52:23 EDT

June and July events:
Wow! a lot going on in June and July. Dave B., if that event is no on our calendar of events you might want to put it there.

Newbies that say they can't find someone to learn from have not looked at our calander!
- guru - Sunday, 05/14/06 09:58:38 EDT

Hammers: Burnt Forge,

Sometimes I go work with Loren Roper of "Simply Smithing" in Duncan Falls, OH and he routinely uses a 6 lb. hammer.

Makes me look bad, but then again, I don't do this for a living every day like he does either. (grin)
Brian C - Sunday, 05/14/06 20:00:18 EDT

IIRC Jim Hrisoulas uses an 8 or 9# hand hammer regularly---of course he is a "stout lad"---unlike myself who is more a "stout" lad---- and again makes his living hammering.

I had never fastened down my anvil till after the day I had a friend over and we were breaking down some fairly good sized coil spring material, one holding, one hammering and afterwards I noticed that the anvil had moved---it's over 500#...

Thomas Powers - Sunday, 05/14/06 21:49:51 EDT

Big hammers: A word of caution about big hammers: IF You are in the shape to use them OK, but about a year ago a guy who used to post here regularly did some serious harm to Himself forging with a 6# hammer, I don't remember the particulars, anybody who does please chime in.
Dave Boyer - Sunday, 05/14/06 21:52:20 EDT

Bigger Caution about big hammers: Very, very few people are big enough, from a musculo-skeletal standpoint, to withstand the damages of repetitive use of heavy hand hammers. Just like powerlifters who rip the muscles clean off the bones by trying too much, folks who use big hammers repetitively are slowly demolishing the attachment points. Both the tendon and the bone are damaged but repetitive stress, and it may take a few years to show up, or it may happen all at once. When it does go, it can end your career.

Look at professional pitchers; they're throwin g the same baseball you and I play with, but *they* throw it a hundred miles an hour, pitch after pitch. Until they finally rip it, then they retire. They can afford to. I don't know many hobby blacksmiths, (and few pros, either) who can really afford to take a sudden forced retirement. If you need that big a hammer that often, buy a powerhammer, for crying out loud!
vicopper - Sunday, 05/14/06 22:21:37 EDT

big hammers: I use a short handled 10 pound sledge once in awhile while working a draw on 1" plus stock. You really need a hammer that size to move the middle of the bar, then I switch to the smaller main 1kg hammer.

The thing is, I can draw about as fast with either. Given efficient technique and a long handle, the 1kg hammer can draw almost as fast as the sledge, due to the much faster swing rate, velocity, and being able to use technique, rather than raw power.

With the sledge, if you use just your elbow to lift it, you will blow it out. The sledge has to be a whole body affair, with proper muscle coordination.
- Tom T - Sunday, 05/14/06 23:36:14 EDT

Calendar of Events: Guru, when I go to the Calendar of Events, all I get is an input screen. No listing of events. What am I doing wrong, please? Thanks.
Ellen - Sunday, 05/14/06 23:49:21 EDT

"Caution about big hammers": Don't have to worry about me using a big hammer. I am already worn out. My anvils don't run and hide anymore....BOG
- Burnt Forge - Monday, 05/15/06 00:12:22 EDT

Calendar of Events: Ellen, I do not know what your problem is. The page is proportioned the same as this one and operates pretty much the same way. You MAY have had a loading problem and cached it. Clear your cache and try again. . .
- guru - Monday, 05/15/06 01:15:28 EDT

Calandar: Thanks, that did the trick. Lots going on.
Ellen - Monday, 05/15/06 10:18:11 EDT

Miller Engine Welder: I emailed Miller on Friday about the old Bantam engine welder I was given; Today I received an email with .pdf manual attached. Print copy available for $15. I opted to just print the 22 pages. It is complete with maintainence instructions, a warning against using emery cloth to clean points or commutators, and all sorts of interesting information. Conclusion: one should definitely NOT be reluctant to pick up one of these old welders if the price is right....mine was favorite word!
Ellen - Monday, 05/15/06 13:15:00 EDT

big hammers: I have a friend who has a 6 pounder with an 8 inch long handle. I tease him about the extravagant waste of all that wood. He uses it with a flatter when working down railroad spike knives by himself.
- Mike Sa - Monday, 05/15/06 13:24:00 EDT

hammers: Well,I used to use a 16# whin I was YOUNG&STUPID in the Oilfields! Good hammer for knocking the c@#p outta something, but control was an issue. Used low OK but not from the waist up. Now I let the young ones ues them. Which means I need to get stock in hammer handles,Anyway, use what's comfortable and,Like VICopper said "Get a powerhammer"
- jimmy - Monday, 05/15/06 15:01:27 EDT

Jock and Hofi: Thanks for the tips on info about spiral stairs. I found a video on NOMMA website. No literature though. I will call them and see if I missed it.

On hammers, I use a 16lb to split firewood, but I don't roundhouse it like the 12 lb. Just straight up and down.
- Jeff G. - Monday, 05/15/06 18:17:17 EDT

The Juggle Guy, AKA my 16 year old likes to strike for me. We have an antique approx. 14# and he has excellent control. I found a 20# at work, and for a few swats he is good to go with that as well. I will hold a tool in my hand for him to strike with the 14# but not the 20# yet.
I personnally like a 2.5# best, witha 2.25# angle pien next. I do have a 6# for when I am alone, but do not use it much.
- ptree - Monday, 05/15/06 18:40:21 EDT

work and travel : hi there folks my name is sam boyd im an irish smith looking to do some work and travel in the usa in 2007 i have preveousley worked for bushypark iron works in dublin and mivan marean in antrim n ireland i am looking for short term work of a few months as i travel round your cuntry i am prepard to work for minimum wage plus board but am flexibal i am also a coded welder if iney one has work or would like to see my portfolio pleas e mail me at and i will send you a copy thanks sam
- sam - Tuesday, 05/16/06 01:04:35 EDT

hammers.: I use a 2 1/2lber. I more is needed I ask for someone to strike. Or a pwr hammer
Ralph - Tuesday, 05/16/06 09:54:10 EDT

Little Giant For Sale:
50# Little Giant with factory motor setup. Fair to good condition. Extra set of dies. Near Leesburg, VA USA.

$3,200 OBO

Call Dan Gelman, 540-554-8407 (no internet, no e-mail).
- guru - Tuesday, 05/16/06 17:49:55 EDT

Fly Press on eBay: If anyone is looking for a large flypress I spotted a decent looking large on on ebay. THe seller is in Florida, but will ship. Item #7586262607

FredlyFX - Tuesday, 05/16/06 18:56:02 EDT

Fly Press: I checked that press out right quick Fred, since it is a place that favors shipping to the V.I. Unfortunately, I really wouldn't quite call it a "fly" press.

That press only has a 2-start screw at a fairly slow pitch, and it has no stop collar on the screw, either. It won't be fast enough to do things the way a fly press should and you can only control the depth with stop blocks. Not very handy. Also, notice the lack of mass weights on the screw wheel. I see what looks like it might be bosses on two of the wheel spokes for a drop handle, but no provision for weights and that wheel looks pretty light for a press of that size.

After checking it out, I'd say it is a screw press and not a fly press. Drat!
vicopper - Tuesday, 05/16/06 21:49:20 EDT

Hopkins Press: There ws one of these at SOFA two years in a row, the same one that was sold came back. . . to be sold again.

Its a decent press. Beautiful old machine with a high price tag. About double what similar models have been selling for.
- guru - Wednesday, 05/17/06 00:14:25 EDT

I have a Hopkins, it is a bit slower than some of the flypresses but the wheel had much more weight at a distance from the center than any of the new flypresses.

I've used it to punch and flatten and it seems to work for me.

of course I paid US$50 at auction for it, the sales tax, buyer's premium and loading fee was almost the same ammount...

Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/17/06 15:38:09 EDT

cats eye hammer: Can anyone tell me what a "cats eye" hammer is and what it is used for? I think they are roughly shaped like a drilling hammer with one end rounded, but have no idea what there intended use is.
Leaf - Thursday, 05/18/06 02:21:06 EDT

Paw Paw: Can anyone tell me what happened with the leaf project for Paw Paw?
- Bob H. - Thursday, 05/18/06 10:34:25 EDT

Maybe cat's head?: Leaf,

If it's what I think it is, the cat's head hammer is an ole timey farrier's turning hammer. The head is short, with a round working face and a broad cross peen. It is quite thick in the cheek to cheek measurement which makes it heavier than it looks. With judicious grinding and finishing, each cheek winds up being a flat round shape. In one of my old catalogs, it is called a Chicago Pattern horseshoer's hammer.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 05/18/06 10:52:01 EDT

Yater Blocks:
One of two mint Yater blocks is on ebay. See item # 6280515168
Yater Blocks
- guru - Thursday, 05/18/06 11:32:25 EDT

Leaf Project: Disorganization. . .

There were two projects that people sort of organized last year that were supposed to happen at SOFA. Collection of the leaves and the silent auction. . . . Well, the folks thats supposedly "organized" these things left us out of the loop and then left us holding the bag. . . We ran the silent auction, late, because the "organizers" didn't take charge and we collected some of the leaves which we still have. . . .

- guru - Thursday, 05/18/06 11:53:48 EDT

Barbaric that somebody is busting/ has busted up the set of Yater blocks.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 05/18/06 12:00:21 EDT

Off for a well deserved three day week end with the wife. Celebrating our 25th! we are leaving the teen agers at the house! Are we brave or what?
ptree - Thursday, 05/18/06 13:01:31 EDT

Off for a well deserved three day week end with the wife. Celebrating our 25th! we are leaving the teenagers at the house! Are we brave or what?
ptree - Thursday, 05/18/06 13:01:34 EDT

Big Hammers: Seems like a while back a regular across the street thought he needed to learn to use a 6# hand hammer to forge efficiently. His muscles developed so quickly they collapsed some blood vessels and he came close to losing his arm. IIRC, when we last heard from him, the surgeons had saved his arm, but he was forbidden to hammer. . .
John Lowther - Thursday, 05/18/06 14:49:43 EDT

BIG hand hammers:
I guess folks get pig headed about these things and then hurt themselves. That is what Paw-Paw did 53 weeks ago. . .

When I started smithing my only guide was myself and I used what tools I found. I found burried next to a carriage house a little 2.5# cross pien that I handled and used then and later when I went into smithing as an occupation. Later when my "bible" became Bealer's "The Art of Blacksmithing" I bought a shiney NEW 4 pound cross peen hammer because he said that was the size smiths used. . . This was when I was in my mid 20's and as strong as I ever was or will be. It was just MUCH too heavy. I couldn't swing it but a short time and had little control. I went back to my 2.5 pound (1100 gram) hammer. A year or so later I tried it again. . . still TOO big. So I went and bought a 2.75, 3.0 and 3.25 pound hammers. I worked through them fairly quick and found the 3.25 (-1500g) a good size for me when I was working full time. I still use it but not for long. But it FEELS right. However, when I tire I go back to my little worn out 2.5# hammer. Somewhere along the line I gave away that oversized hammer. I should have kept it as it would come in handy once in a while.

Folks that force their bodies to do things that are "too much" generally find out the hard way. Then there are those that just won't face reality. I've had folks tell me they had a bad back then go and pickup a 200+ pound anvil and carry it 30 yards. . and other similar stupidities that they KNOW are going to hurt and possibly do permanent damage.

However, I think this kind of stupidity is the state of man. We can preach all we want and they will agree but not really listen.
- guru - Thursday, 05/18/06 15:26:03 EDT

Yater Swage Block: Pardon my lapse in education, but what would be a reasonable price for that Yater swage block and should it be used or put in a museum?
- rthibeau - Thursday, 05/18/06 21:01:11 EDT

New or Surplus Materials: I have a friend who moved to Keller, Texas [near Fort Worth]. Does anybody have a recommendation for a suplier of new or surplus steel, stainless, or aluminum in that neck of the woods?
- Dave Boyer - Thursday, 05/18/06 22:21:14 EDT

"Over-bowing": One of the concepts still stuck in my head from reading T. H. White's wonderful Arthurian fantasy, The Once and Future King, is a comment about overbowing oneself when taking up archery. We tend to go for bows that are stiffer than we really need, because they're powerful. (Face it guys, when we start out as teenagers, it's all about "power".) Of course, if you over-do it, you trade power for accuracy; and power is useless without accuracy. Seems applicable to archery, blacksmithing, and politics.

I'm also reminded of one of our medievalist groups, The Skraelings (as in the Old Norse word for "wretches", not Native Americans) who would proclaim: "WE'RE TOUGH! "'Cause when you're stupid, you gotta be tough!"

Some times we do things because you can do things, but just because you can, doesn't mean you should. :-)
NPS Geographic Search (by state or Zip Code)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 05/19/06 08:15:10 EDT

Over-bowing: Good point, Bruce. Over the years, I've watched lots of young police officers overreach themselves when purchasing handguns. In subscribing to the "more is better" testosterone-fueled school of caliber selection, they usually wind up with a hand cannon they can't control, conceal or carry. After a couple of years experience, they usually wind up going back to something a bit less intimidating, but more controllable.
vicopper - Friday, 05/19/06 08:59:10 EDT

Hand Cannons: vicopper: What is your favorite pistol cartridge? I've used the M 1911 in .45 ACP since I was a kid. In the post-war Philippines they were everywhere and the only hand gun that was cheap. I've kept with it.
- John Odom - Friday, 05/19/06 09:12:05 EDT

If you are using cartridges you are beyond the hand cannon stage...we once joked about putting a bayonette lug on my falconette though...

Thomas P - Friday, 05/19/06 15:09:59 EDT

Hand Cannons: .45 ACP in full to target sized guns. In a centerfire, I shoot the best with my big old S&W model 25-2. With .45 I start loosing accuracy rapidly when the gun gets lighter than about 2#.

For concealed carry, I drop down to .38 special with 124 gr. bullets in a steel Taurus 85.

John Lowther - Friday, 05/19/06 15:34:27 EDT

Yater Blocks:
Well, they ARE collectable since they are no longer made but they are far from museum pieces yet. Pairs have been known to sell for well over $1000.

Considering they weigh about 130 pounds each and that swage blocks cost as much or more than anvils to cast (should be cheaper) the market price on a new block this size will run $350-$450 each. So you are looking a current prices of $700 to $900 ($2.50 to $3.50/pound) for blocks that are not finished (no new blocks are being sold finished today). A set of finished blocks would sell for at least $100 more each, so you would expect prices of $800 to $1000. SO. . $1500 for a set of great blocks that will demand growing collector's prices (rather than devaluing from use) is a good deal.

Since the bidding on these has not really started (wait intil the last hour), we shall see. . .

- guru - Friday, 05/19/06 16:54:07 EDT

I prefer 2" ball for my cannon though a pound of ball bearings or horseshoe nails is good for close work...

Thomas P - Friday, 05/19/06 18:09:54 EDT

Cats head hammer?: Frank is that like the one that Andy Morris had at Rockledge Ranch, He said that you had commented on it when you were there and that you had said that it was a relitively rare hammer. I used it a lot while I was there and found it to be a nicely ballanced hammer.
habu - Friday, 05/19/06 18:13:13 EDT

Cannon: Some folks in our local group have a reproduction Civil War mortar. A 1/4 of a 35mm film canister of black powder will send a 3" ball hundreds of yards. 3/4 canister will send the ball out of sight. As scary as explosive rounds are the non-explosive ones had to be a nightmare. Just a splat, and the guy next to you is cut in several pieces. . . The travel is far enough that the time between the "wump" and the ball raining on you is disconnected. A hill or a tree line would make them hard to hear.

And we have had 150 years to "improve" weapons of warfare. . .

One of the oddest weapons I have seen were the needle tipped cast gravity "bombs" used in WWI. Shaped like little bombletts with fins they were just a heavy weight with a hard steel needle point. Pilots were supposed to dump them by the box full on troops thousands of feet below. Not a very efficient weapon and when planes did not have much lifting capacity carrying the equivalent of high tech rocks to drop did not make much sense. You would have to drop millions to do any serious damage. Of course if YOU were the one in a million hit by one of these things the damage would be pretty serious, to YOU.
- guru - Friday, 05/19/06 18:29:27 EDT

Over Bowing:: Accuracy 6' at 780' with a 12" 10# ball, draw weight up to 2000#, 10 shots an hour, hard to conceal,tough to carry intimidating to those in a fixed position.
habu - Friday, 05/19/06 18:37:02 EDT

mosaic pattern welding: Does anyone know a good book on how to get all the interesting mosaic patterns? I have "the complete bladesmith" and "the pattern welded blade" by Jim Hrisoulas and they are great books but they don't cover mosaic in much detail.

Thanks for the CATS HEAD HAMMER info BTW, I have some old sledge hammer heads and I was thinking of converting one just for fun, but I thought I should find out if it is actualy a practical tool that I would use before I go to too much trouble.
Leaf - Friday, 05/19/06 19:27:22 EDT

Mosaic "Damascus":
Leaf, This technology is fairly new and rapidly changing. I am not sure if there is a book on the subject.

The basics are simple There is no "pattern developement" like in the old laminated steels. The patterns are made to be what they are from the beginning. In "grid mosaic" the device (star, leaf, shield, letters) or pattern is laid out on a grid and the two metals to be used are obtained or created in small square bar which is then stacked in the grid pattern to make the design. The billet is then welded and drawn out to reduce the size of the device. As it is drawn out the "jaggies" like any image made of dots or pixels fade to where they cannot be easily seen. Starting bar can be 1/4" (6mm) square or so to build a 2" or more billet.

If you want to create your name in steel, make each letter, draw out each billet, weld each billet side by side. There is little "art" to this method, it is all technique and hard work. The art is in the overall design, layout and metallurgy selected. The tendancy is to get carried away and make pieces too small to see.

In "pieced mosaic" parts are made to fit together by hand or machining then forge welded together. Like the method above fairly large pieces are used then drawn down. If you want stars for a flag you make one large star billet three or four inches long then carefully draw it out to the size you want then cut and laminate into a field of stars. This is what Daryl Meier did on his famous Presidential presentation blade. It is not as easy as it sounds. In the drawing out process the different steels can behave differently and it is easy to lose definition or obliterate details. Daryl lost a star in the flag and had to build the star field over again from scratch.

In either process you can create sub-components of the final device or design, draw them out and put them together. IF the pattern is symetrical like a head on face, you could make half, then rotate one part and weld at the center line. Allowance must be made for clean up and fit as you go.

Today two new high tech methods have entered the field. EDM and Wire EDM are used to cut picture puzzel type pieces of two steels that then slip together perfectly. These are then forge welded together, then drawn out and assembled as above. Very fine detail can be produced with less effort and chance of failure than the methods above. But it is not cheap to do.

Last, there is "powder metal mosaic". For a number of years there has been a production process using powder metal to produce "laminated" steel and now the process is being applied to imagery. In the normal process two different metal powders are sifted into a stainless steel container in layers created with multiple nozzels. Then the whole is welded into a billet by "hot isostatic pressing"

"The container is subjected to elevated temperature and a very high vacuum to remove air and moisture from the powder. The container is then sealed and HIP’ed The application of high inert gas pressures and elevated temperatures results in the removal of internal voids and creates a strong metallurgical bond throughout the material. The result is a clean homogeneous material with a uniformly fine grain size and a near 100% density."

In the imagery method the powders are placed by hand or using simple folded paper forms which are pulled from the powders after they are filled. Then the container is HIP'd. Where EDM is a high tech band saw, HIPing is REAL high technology.

Bladesmiths use a similar low tech method to produce billets. They assemble their billet, insert it into a stainless steel tube, seal the tube except for a small vent hole, then put in a few drops of kereosene. The whole is heated to a welding heat. The kerosene gasses out and the remains oxidize using up the oxygen in the container. When the weld is made it is in an oxygen free environment. Afterwards the "can" is stripped off the billet. Usualy the stainless tube which has been pasivated in manufacturing does not weld to the billet as this requires an agressive flux and clean metal. This method is commonly used in mosaic Damascus.

The trick is learning to weld consistanly and to draw the billets without damaging the patterns. Hydraulic presses and rolling mills are basic equipment in this field. However, you COULD do it by hand, it will just take a long time and be very chalanging.
- guru - Friday, 05/19/06 21:33:49 EDT

Choices,, choices...: These days, I have become lazy enough that I only bother with one handgun. My Glock Mod. 27 in .40 S&W. It's a fairly small, easy to conceal piece holding more than enough rounds to suffice, considering that I can still qualilfy at "Distinguished" with it. I've pretty much lost all interest in shooting, so I just go out every so often and do my qualifying shoot, clean and reload and shove it back in the holster. If called upon to do so, I suppose I can pretty much hit what need to with any handgun you hand me. Hundreds of thousands of rounds over scores of years will do that for you. What really matters though, is whether or not you can do it when you're receiving incoming...all else is speculation and means nothing until proven, sadly. It doesn't hurt to practice, though.
vicopper - Friday, 05/19/06 22:18:44 EDT

re: mosaic : guru: you have a way with words and a knowlage of this, maybe you should write a book on the subject, I would buy it. Someone is going to do it soon and I bet it will sell like mad, might as well be you.

I don't have much fancy gear so I was kind of looking for a simple shortcut I guess, hopefully I will be getting at least a power hammer soon, the rest of that stuff will have to wait until I win the lotto. Some of the patterns are so intricate I had figured there was something else going on too. Today I am making a "jelly roll" today out of bandsaw blades, but I am not sure what I am going to do with it once I draw it out, it is 32 layers now and I am about to weld the "handle" on to the edge of the roll. It started at 1"x3/4"x12" and 16 layers. Any ideas?

Powder is pressed from the top of the tube and pieced is pressed or forged from the sides? Is the powder at normal welding heat? I was thinking of welding on a smaller tube as a handle if I make pieced billets and pressurising the thing with argon, any reason that wouldn't work, or is there no advatage?
Leaf - Friday, 05/19/06 22:40:54 EDT

Damascus cleanliness: thought of another question for everyone. How important is it that the metal be scale and rust free when you start a pattern welded billet? And what is the best thing to do if your half way through a billet and want to come back to it later? I have been soaking them in hydrochloric acid to remove the scale and wire brushing them is this necessary or am I waisting my time?
Leaf - Friday, 05/19/06 22:50:36 EDT

Trebuchets and Mosaic Pattern Welding: Habu: Given the crew present, it looks like the right size for the job. Transport, however, may be more difficult, especially in a pre-mechnaized age. It does make one appreciate the simplicity of the petard, and it's use of chemical power (~20 pounds of black powder), to defeat fortifications. ;-)

When they started doing mosaic pattern welding, I knew I'd seen the technique before. There was an article in National Geographic back inthe '50s or '60s explaining how the Romans would take thin glass rods (cames) and bundle them into a pattern or picture and then melt them into a single unit and slice off tiles for mosiac or decorative work, or jewelry. If you wanted a reflective pattern, you just flipped the tile over. I wonder if Daryl Meier was aware of the ancient technique, or if he just had to puzzle it through for himself?
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 05/19/06 23:50:51 EDT

Mosaic: I did not know about the Roman glass. Very interesting.

The build up technique is also used to make the rosettes seen on musical instuments such as lutes and guitars. In this case verneers are wrapped around a cylinder to make the circular stripes and particular patterns are made in long pieces which are sawed to the length of the rosette "log" (about 8"). After the pattern pieces are glued in they are trimed and sanded smooth and more verneer laminated over that. The "log" is usualy not 100% of the circle and the fingerboard covers the gap. After the lof is finished the end is trued, a sheet of paper glued on and a rosette verneer sawed off. Then the process is repeated. You are lucky to get 40% of the length into rosettes due to saw kerf losses.

Many luthiers have made beautiful rosettes by the piecing method. However, today stained 1/64" square strips of wood are sold for the "grid mosaic" method. The piece work method has some advantages including the ability to make the rosette look like marketry (inlay) by turning the grain perpendicular to the axis of the log. I designed a rosette with 6 nudes intetwined. It would be made from one section with a nude and two halves that was 60 degrees of the circle. It would be cut into six parts and the pieces built into a rosette log.

Daryl Meier did not invent the technique but he produced the first major work using the techniques in 200 years. Prior to that it was thought to be a myth.
- guru - Saturday, 05/20/06 01:29:03 EDT

It depends on the type of billet being forged but the cleaner the better. Some smiths grind the faces of the billet to insure a clean inclusion free weld. When doing mosaic pattern welding you need bright smooth clean steel. Hopefully when it reaches welding heat it is welded without a lot of help.

In HIP the pressure comes from the gases that presurize the entire exterior of the container so it squeezes in all directions. The heating is usually by induction.
- guru - Saturday, 05/20/06 01:45:33 EDT

Re: cleaniness: thanks for the link, I had heard powder "damascus" mentioned before, and actualy looked at that site but assumed it was some kind of flame spray technique. You would think they would come up with beter patterns if they were going to all that trouble. Looks like a HIP press or a CNC EDM are a little bit out of my price range, facinating though, thanks
Leaf - Saturday, 05/20/06 03:07:00 EDT

High Tech Bladsmithing:
The point is that this is the state of the art. If you are going to do this work commercialy or as art this is the type processes and caliber of people you are compeating against. They are very technical and driven to find new ways to pursue their art. Folks like Dama Steel are in this field as a serious high capital business. There are also small production operations that produce hand made product in quantity.

Currently there are more hand made knives being made than at any time in history. Those making them take every mechanical and technical advantage to make the best products every seen in history. Blades equal to or better than the best of the best a generation ago are now produced in quantity. On the other hand the market is also flooded with cheap junk and amature product. Its a tough business right now.
- guru - Saturday, 05/20/06 08:13:30 EDT

re: high tech bladesmithing: I just do blacksmithing to pick up women, people can make a living at this??!? Highly unlikely!

Seriusly I am just doing this for fun, blacksmithing in general is a hard field to make a living in. Even with 20+ years of experiance and a huge shop it is hard to make it feed a family, let alone what I have.
Leaf - Saturday, 05/20/06 12:51:58 EDT

Habu; Cat's head: I don't remember about Morris' hammer. If it is "fat" with a small round face, and small round cheeks, it probably is a cat's head. At my age, it's all becoming a big, gray sludge.
- Frank Turley - Saturday, 05/20/06 13:45:02 EDT

Atli, re: Petard: altho, one must make care, least one be hoist by ones own.
- habu - Saturday, 05/20/06 14:44:50 EDT

Roman Glass Terminolgy:
Actually, 3-Dogs pointed out that I might have meant "canes" of glass, since "cames" are the lead strips that form the structural elements of stained glass windows.

I tell friends that I don't work with glass; because where blacksmihting is hot, heavy, dirty, and dangerous; glass work is hot, heavy, dirty, dangerous, and FRAGILE! ;-)
Bruce Blackistone - Saturday, 05/20/06 23:23:02 EDT

powder mosaic: Another way I have seen it done is take some nickle foil and bend it into a tubular shape that you want to make. Insert that piece of foil into a steel tube, fill the space inside of the foil with one type of steel powder and fill the outside with another. Weld together. I'm not an expert on it, but I have been around it, and it will give you an idea.
- Tyler Murch - Sunday, 05/21/06 14:17:56 EDT

My Work: Here's a link to a picture of one of my tomahawks. Let me know what you think about it. I'm 16. Been smithing about 10 months.
- Tyler Murch - Sunday, 05/21/06 18:03:33 EDT

Tyler: Nice job. But if you want to throw it and have it stick, it may work better if you widen the edge a bit, and have pointy on the very edges. Think of a smile- ] , but the the top and bottom edges are at a sharp angle, and above the body of the blade. Probably got ya confused by now. I've got a picture of one of my hawks across the street. Just look under Bob H. Too bad we don't have a photo site here.
- Bob H. - Sunday, 05/21/06 22:50:02 EDT

Re: Tomahawks : I think that is great looking Tyler and that you must have a huge amount of natural talent or a really good teacher. I wish I had been that good when I was 16. What is it made out of?
Leaf - Monday, 05/22/06 00:25:18 EDT

Tall Ship available: I know there are a few people who frequent this forum who are into old ships. There is a tall ship available on ebay right now being sold by the boy scouts. They have been using it as a training vessle, but it needs a lot of repair and they decided to sell it. The item number is 4641240814 it has an opening bid of $75,000 there are currently no bids.

FredlyFX - Monday, 05/22/06 02:32:11 EDT

bladesmithing: I'm just a novice and I don't really know very much about the market but from what I gather by reading what the pros have to say, it's not an easy way to make a living. Is anything?

I see some beautiful work selling pretty inexpensively. At the same time, I see higher priced work of what appears to me to be similar quality. The work of some just seems to command higher prices. As in about everything else, there seems to be two sides. One is being able to make a blade that some one wants and another is building a name that folks are willing to pay for and finding/developing that market.

Not all successful bladesmiths use hight tech methods of course but time is money.

Another interesting aspect is that some bladesmiths just seem to decide that they are going to make knives full time and find a way to live on what they can make rather than deciding how they are going to live and then trying to make enough to support that lifestyle. So...there may be more full time bladesmiths living in rural areas than in half million dollar houses in the Chicago suberbs.

While I wouldn't present my work as a model, I forge the blade and use files, paper and a few stones for the rest. Because I'm just not very good with a belt sander, I only use grinders and the belt sander for some profiling and maybe knocking off some scale. Needless to say, I'm not fast. I've sold a few knives locally but I've spent a lot more than I've made on steel alone. Of course being a novice, I've destroyed as many knives as I've completed with a few others being users that I'd rather no one see and just a handful that I think really came out nice.

Still, I think A smith who's good with hand tools could turn out blades fast enough to do ok IF he/she has also successfully marketed themselves. I think it's as much art as anything. If some one just wants a "knife", you can get some very functional cutting tools at walmart for $20 butthere are those who want a one of a kind work of art and that's where the custome makers wh only put out a couple of blades/week out come in.
- Mike Ferrara - Monday, 05/22/06 07:58:06 EDT

power hammer: Hey guys and gals,
!!!Nazel 3b for sale!!!
Early model 2 piece made in philadelphia
running condition with 2 phase motor
Asking $9k in philadelphia, can load for free.
please, i am a busy guy so, serious calls only
215 739 6090
- Warren Holzman - Monday, 05/22/06 09:41:18 EDT

High tech and high tech:
All the bladesmiths I have met that worked at it for a living had the best equipment they could afford. At least a half dozen belt grinders if not more, a power hammer or a press (if they do hot work), heat treating equipment with temperature measurement (if they do their own heat treating). Many also have a small machine shop including a drill press (at a minimum), a band saw, a lathe and sometimes a milling machine. Then there is all the little detail equipment for etching and engraving and what not. . .

This is not a "huge" investment in equipment but it is what is needed to do the job. Most professional blacksmiths need more.

Those that have their act together sub out parts of the job and let specialists do the things that they do best. But this is rare in the US. Dr. Mike Blue told me that Americans have this fixation on "sole authorship" of a product and are very inefficient compared to those that sub out parts of the job such as the polishing and hilt work. This probably extends from the idea of the frontier general blacksmith who did it all. Of course, they did everything out of necessity and only did most things adequately, not at the best.

You can buy very nice laminated steel blanks from folks that specialize in that process. There are folks that do wonderful furniture and grips and as I noted those that do polishing. You do not have to do all the job or ANY of the job and still turn out a fine art piece of work. Folks like top engravers do nothing but engrave. They do not make the guns, knives and swords they engrave. . .

Even in countries where they sit in the dirt and forge on old sledge hammers for anvils the smith only does the forging and heat treating. Others do the rest. And by the way, their products made for pennies and hour are exported all over the world as "the genuine" product. They compete in YOUR market.

My point about the super high tech is that there are those at the top of the field that are pushing the technology far beyond the common blacksmith shop. AND there are quite a number of folks that if not high tech use expensive rolling mills and production processes to make laminated steels that a generation ago were all high art hand made product.

If you are going to go into this field and compete you cannot just make common tools. There are factories and specialists that make exceptionaly fine blades in that $20 price range you spoke of. But there are also thousands of makers trying to make it in the hand made knife business that should get over $1000 for the effort they put into a blade but are only getting a few hundred. The era of when there was a half dozen makers of fine hand made blades that could ask any price they wanted is long gone. Today it is a very competitive business.

A fellow wrote to me and wanted to know how to be the "best" bladesmith. I told him to look at the work being done by the best and then figure out how to do something better. However, this is a TALL order today. There are dozens of exceptional bladesmiths turning out unbelievable work. They are highly intelegent and driven to excellence. Their work is both highly technical and fine art. It may not be possible to beat the best today.
- guru - Monday, 05/22/06 09:50:42 EDT

Tallships and True Costs: A very pretty topsail Baltic Ketch. If I were RICH and a "flaming romantic"...

However, I have my hands full with our own, much more modest talllship. Time talent and lots of money and manpower is what it takes to keep these spontaneous entropy machines operable. I hope she finds a good home with all of the above. If any of y'all buy her, I'll be glad to crew and serve as a gunner. ;-)

Sæ Hrafn: The Norseman's Burden!
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 05/22/06 10:17:51 EDT

Thanks Leaf and Bob H: Leaf, I think I have both. It's made from 1" hex that came from a 6 ft. crow bar. I think it's a 10XX steel because judging by how much it scales I don't think it has much alloy.
Tyler Murch - Monday, 05/22/06 10:44:59 EDT

Tomahawk: I like the ridge along the side, as it gives a nice depth to the object. Personally, I'd like to see the hammerhead on the back extend out farher, and sharp corners on the blade, which helps it stick better to a target when thrown. I also like more of a bearded form, but this is all stylistic.

Thanks for sharing.
- Tom T - Monday, 05/22/06 16:05:47 EDT

Tall Ships and Flaming Romantics: I met a guy who purchased an old schooner that had been a Boy Scout vessel, among other things. He was more of an Old Hippie than a flaming romantic. It was a 1925 Alden built for the Morton Salt family. Normally there is a detailed inspection called a "Survey" before purchase, but He didn't bother. He claims to have prayed about it and God said buy it. The boat nearly broke up when He sailed it from Charlston to New York, and for about 20 years it consumed all the money He and his company could earn to try to restore it. I lost contact with Him 10 years ago, but it is probably not done yet.
Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/22/06 23:40:15 EDT

across the street: Now I am curious were "across the street" is! It is all just a matter of perception. The way I see it, my question what is the next level of mosaic beyond "the complete bladesmith" and Mr. guru informed my that the "next level" is highly technical and the place of world class bladesmiths that rely n this information for there livelihood. And also very politely refrained from reminding me directly that I should probably master the techniques presented in that book before I move on to the ones that are of a more proprietary nature. Anyone who is discouraged by someones "doom and gloom" on some forum has no business starting in the blade forging field. Because if they can't take a few "discouraging" words they are never going to be able to handle the various frustrations of working hot metal anyways. I get plenty of financial advice from professionals blacksmiths I know off line and it is the same story IT IS A TOUGH BUSINESS TO MAKE A LIVING IN, it is a simple fact, not doom and gloom. If you don't love the work don't get into the field because there are plenty of professions that pay allot better for allot less blood, sweat and tears. luckily I don't do it for the money so I don't really care if it pays or not, I made that decision long ago. Maybe I am reading between the wrong lines as usual, but that is my take.
Leaf - Tuesday, 05/23/06 00:37:21 EDT

Leaf: Across the street is if You see that phrase on Anvilfire, or Anvilfire if You see it over there. Many of the regulars read and some post both places. As to making a living at smithing, We hashed out pricing work a few weeks ago, but really didn't delve into the topic "Can You afford to smith for a living?" Many things work out better as a hobby than a livelyhood. My shop is well equipped for machining, fabricating and mechanical repair work [I am a beginner smith]and I do some work for money, but I would really have to hustle to make a megar living at it.
Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/23/06 01:58:40 EDT

Leaf - Corection: is across thwe street.
Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/23/06 02:01:38 EDT

Leaf: Your comments are very aptly expressed, and quite correct. I didn't read what the Guru said as "doom and gloom" so much as a healthy reality check for those who harbor romantic notions of suddenly makeing a good living by whacking on the odd piece of steel or two.

We get so many wannabes in here that have no grounding in either technique or reality, that those cautions have to be voiced in fairness to others, if not to them. I see you took it the way it was intended, and that is reassuring.

I do this smithing stuff for fun myself, even to the point of generally turning away paying work right now. I have a full time job and want this to be fun. When I retire from the cops, I'll probably start doing some smithing for pay, to supplement my retirement pittance. Hopefully, I will be able to keep it fun, still. If not, I'll quit charging for it and get a part-time job at K-Mart to supplement the income instead. This is too much fun to ruin it by trying to make a living from it, at least for me.

Someone once said that the way to retire with a small fortune by being a blacksmith was to start with a *large* fortune. I do think there's some truth in that, though a few do make a good living at it. They are the ones at the very top of the field however, and I started too late and too lightly to ever become the top man in this field. I'm pretty darn content doing it the way I do, though.
vicopper - Tuesday, 05/23/06 08:31:06 EDT

Across the Street, and Around the Block:

Thanks to Anvilfire, Forgemagic, and a number of other even more specialized sites, we live in what amounts to a mult-newspaper town. Like the Washington Post and (the much missed and lamented) Washington Star, we can pull information from various sources, which need not agree with each other. Both reported the same events and provided similar information, but both had their own viewpoint and flavor.

Personnally, I like that sort of situation; but some folks can take things too seriously, and it's also so easy to mis-post or mis-read things on the internet since it's such a fast medium.

All right-thinking folks will, of course, agree. ;-)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 05/23/06 08:38:22 EDT

Earning a living: I've been a welder all my working life. I weld to pay the bills. I am a blacksmith because I love it. I try to be the best blacksmith I can be. I wish it were possible to earn my living as a blacksmith. But, I know I must weld to eat. Again I say I am a blacksmith because I love it. I think it important to know the difference!
- Donnie - Tuesday, 05/23/06 12:34:18 EDT

I teach entry level blacksmithing to just about anyone who will show up at the shop. Over the years I've learned that 90% will drop out of the craft very quickly--this does not discourage me as at least those people now have an appreciation of the craft and can help correct other people's misconceptions, (like that the fire danger is so extreme with smithing while having rickety tables with lots of candles and folks wearing long flowing sleeves is ok...)

Every once in a long while I get a student that just takes off and many will outpace me in their work as they have got a good start at a much younger age than I did. Those do me proud.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/23/06 14:57:18 EDT

Gloom and Doom:
I thought it was more like the Facts of Life. You fall in love, the young lady is pregnant, LIFE. . and you have to go to work doing anything to survive, not what you want or planned. . . Life, its not gloom and doom, its just the facts.

The fact is we are in a global market. There is no longer any such thing as a "local market". Today a knife maker in Kazakstan, India or Australia has nearly the same access to the US market as domestic makers.

The blacksmihing market is changing rapidly. A few years ago the components available to fabricators were few and not well made. It used to be easy for the artist blacksmith to point to the flats on scrolls and no terminal endings at all. Today there are German blacksmiths making hand forged fish tail and snub end scrolls by the thousands for the component market. There are now dozens of component makers in countries all over the world sneding product to th US and Europe. The machines for making basket twists and scrolls are being found in more and more shops and there are more makers building less expensive machines. A fellow in India said they were no longer going to buy the German machines because they could make them in India for much much less. . . That means more machines in India and probably the rest of the world because they will surely export them. . .

At the NOMMA show I saw little D rolls that would make a hot fish tail flare then scroll it in seconds. . . One worker can make thousands a day. They are not works of art, but they are passable ironwork.

The market is moving this way because the fabricators see big money in high end jobs. They also know that just like a common commercial rail job that they MUST deliver on time and within budget. So the component market is booming. Compontent makers are producing a large variety of scrolls and bits and pieces that can be put together to look like original hand made work. They supply their parts as CAD files so the fabricator can pick the components and place them on a drawing arranging them to suit THEN putting the image of the gate or rail into a photo of the client's house. . . The fabricator also has a bill of materials and a price list and knows exactly what the job is going to cost and how long it will take to deliver.

Yep, the work is still "hack and tack" but it looks good to even the trained eye and to the customer, well. . .

The industry is changing. It is going to be much harder for the artist blacksmith to compete against fabricators. Those that do now are doing so by using the same basic techniques. However, instead of buying components they make their own and assemble them by welding. They have an advantage making their own components because they can be truely original. However, they must productionize the process, be at least as efficient as those making the same thing over and over AND deliver on time and within budget. . .

On the fabricator side of the street they are buying power hammers and machines for tooling up to make their own components. They know that there is a cost to import and inventory components and they think they can beat the price as well as produce a product of their own. . .

So what has changed? Who are the artist blacksmiths and who are the fabricators? The big difference is who is getting the big jobs and who is making a good living. . .

Nothing stays the same. Soon there will be little difference between artist blacksmith and fabricator. The only difference will be between who is a sucessful professional and who is a hobby blacksmith or starving artist. . .

You can make little odds and ends by hand and make a profit as a part time business but to compete on large jobs is different. For the knife maker even the top professionals are turning out product at fairly high rates.
- guru - Wednesday, 05/24/06 10:42:43 EDT

Ellen-- I want to apologize for the absurd bullying you encountered on Anvilfire.
It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind-- but if you don't feel like it, I can well understand why you wouldn't want to.
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 05/24/06 11:52:55 EDT

Well, yesterday I went down to the aircargo area of SeaTac airport and picked up the scrolling head for my German bending machine- it just flew in from Germany.
Now the challenge is to use it to produce scrolls that dont look like the ones in the catalogs.
A tool is just a tool- give a hundred blacksmiths the exact same anvil, hammer, and forge, and your will get 100 different results.
The same applies, as far as I am concerned, to some of the production german ornamental iron machinery- it makes things faster, and has capabilities that allow you to focus your creative energies on the creative side, rather than the production side.
I can hand bend a scroll just fine, hot or cold. But if I need 600 of em, like I do for an upcoming job, I can either spend a half hour on each one, or 30 seconds.
- Ries - Wednesday, 05/24/06 12:05:37 EDT

Machine scrolls - modernizing:
One of the new machines I saw at the NOMMA conference had D rolls to make various ends and then scrolling fixtures to match. Made pretty decent parts.

The same machine made large bends and scrolls in heavy stock. However, I was not impressed with the shape of the scrolls. They did not follow a good true spiral.

Some of the machines had room to use hand forged (or die formed) terminators. I suspect that a near perfect half penny snub end could be made in a progressive die then scrolled on one of these machines.

Much of this is not new. Years ago I saw a sets of clapper dies to use under a big hammer that would product dragon heads, leaves, beaded floral elements, rosettes. The trick is to not rely on standard dies too long, using them until they are washed out and the results look like coarse castings. Well designed staged dies can produce crisp work that looks close to hand forged. The art is to learn to make your own eficiently so that you can produce unique work at production rates.

I think in the coming years more blacksmiths will be looking at 200 pound hammers rather than the common machines of today. It was only a short time ago that the "traditionalists" insisted that power hammers were not used by REAL blacksmiths. Then every used hammer that could be found was put into service and makers came out with new small hammers. Now amatures and professionals alike have power hammers. But only a few have hammers in the 200 to 300 pound class. But this to is going to change. I suspect we will also see new machines that have not been invented yet OR the prices on the fancy machines to come down a lot with competition.
- guru - Wednesday, 05/24/06 17:24:51 EDT

Garage forge: Hello all, this is my first post, but I've read anvilfire up and down and love the site!
I've got a question that is probably been asked a million times, so I have to apologize for that!

I am working on putting together a little hobby forge in my garage. I've been working on my driveway up until now, but I don't like working in the rain or cold or having to move all my equipment out and then back again afterwards, so I'd like to move my forge inside my garage. I'm wondering if anyone can give me some advice on how to do this safely. How should I build a forge and smokestack that won't burn down my house? I'm thinking an insulated chimney for a fireplace, but it seems they tend to come in 7" max and from what I've been reading online, I need at least 10" - where would I get something like this? Also, should I construct a side-draft hood or an overhead hood? Any tips on properly constructing my hood?

I appreciate any advice you can give me! If there is an answer to this somewhere already, could you point me to it?

- Condredge - Wednesday, 05/24/06 18:52:26 EDT

I have to totally agree with everything you said Guru, I hear the exact same thing off line. Profitability seems to be the topic of interest for the pros, (which I am not). I was going to post yesterday that interpersonal skills were as important to success as anything, but that theory seemed to be shot all to hell before I could post it.

Being in the home building trade myself I can say that getting a project done on schedule may be the single most important thing to the contractor, when doing architectural ironwork, as you touched on. That is about retaining clients, since if you delay the project they will most likely go with another metalworker next time. Does anyone have any advice on ATTRACTING new clients? That is a burning question some pros I know would like the answer to.

Leaf - Wednesday, 05/24/06 19:29:04 EDT

Re: Garage forge... oops, wrong forum: Turns out I've posted this in the wrong forum... I've put the garage forge question in the Guru's forum now. Sorry about that!
Condredge - Wednesday, 05/24/06 20:24:55 EDT

You attract new clients by showing them your work.
For architectural work, this means taking good pictures of your work, printing up the photos, and showing them to potential clients.
Depending on where you live and what you do, you might make appointments and go see architects and interior designers- these are always going to bring you much better jobs than contractors will. Contractors are interested in the lowest cost. Designers want what they want, and will convince the client to pay for it.
I like to take actual (small) samples of real forged metal, if possible that you can give to them. A real piece of metal makes a big difference over a picture.
I have found advertising is usually a waste of time and money- editiorial coverage is much better, and every single newspaper and magazine is always looking for things to write about. If your area has a "home" section or magazine in the paper, call up the editors of it, and send them pictures of some of your work.
Learn to write press releases, and do so if you do anything that is of a public nature. Like a fence for a day care center, or a sign for a store.
Work with kids. I have done several projects with elementary school and middle school kids- metal artwork for their schools. This is great for press attention, fun to do, and exposes you to a lot of people, all potential clients.

Get your stuff out where people can see it- I have found that even though I didnt make a lot of money the first time around, making lighting, seating, and signage for stores and restaurants ALWAYS leads to referrals. I often trade for food- I just finished up a $500 trade with a groovy wine and cheese shop for his sign, and not only did I eat well for months, but he has gotten my sign published in a couple of magazines now. Next, we do a sign for the local bakery.
Benches outside popular bakeries and restaurants are also a great attention getter.
ries - Wednesday, 05/24/06 22:50:18 EDT

New Clients, Tough . .:
This from a very sucesssful blacksmith doing high end work. In the decorative iron field the majority of the clients you want are rich or are architects. It is not easy to get "in". Once "in" the way to stay in is to NEVER not meet a deadline. If you have to hire people, rent equipment. . do it! The folks that are your clients are a very small group and they ALL know each other. Do a good job and word spreads. Do a bad job and word spreads faster.

Second, never underprice your work. There are a lot of very smart people that are completely wrong headed on this one. They THINK that you have to pay your dues and do jobs at cost to get "in". The problem is that once you do a job on a cutthroat budget THAT is the price people will expect. If you are new and have no name but you put in the hours to do the job right then you deserve to make a profit.

What happens when you price a job to "get in the door" you usually do not have the funds to do the job right and the job suffers and typically you deliver late by taking on other work to help pay for the job that you underbid.

No matter HOW DESPERATE you are do not undervalue your work. You absolutely MUST make minimum wage for EVERY HOUR at least and much more if you have a lot invested in tools and machinery.

If you bid a high end job and you do not get it, ask why. Often the other guy did not bid on doing the same work you did. Or WORSE, the client took your design to your competition so HE did not have to do the design work. . .

Ries suggestions to submit things to the local news is right on. These folks WANT article they do not have to write. If you provide a professional photo and a good readable text it will probably get printed.

IF they want to interview you I strongly advise that you have something in writing to give the interviewer. Small town or local reporters are notorious for getting the facts wrong. If you want your name spelled right be sure they have it on a personal card or letter head.
- guru - Thursday, 05/25/06 01:53:52 EDT

contractors: Ries: Allmost every high end house is built by a contractor on a time and materials job they actualy make more money the more you make, if you can convince the client to pay it and get the job done WHEN YOU SAY YOU WILL and keep the client happy they are your best friend. If they are figuring iron work into a hard bid that is a differnt story, they are probably going to want some cheap crap. Often they will just let you make your own deal with the client, then they don't care, as long as you don't screw up the schedule. There isn't allways a designer or an architect especialy on smaller jobs but there is usualy a contractor. They allways have the clients ear, and they may have hundreds if not thousands of clients over there career that they can refer to you.
Leaf - Thursday, 05/25/06 02:37:18 EDT

Leaf- it sounds like you are a contractor.
Nothing wrong with that.
But I have been doing architectural metalwork since 1976 or so, and I have to say that I have gotten exactly zero jobs from contractors.
I have worked with some great guys who were contractors. Nothing against them personally.
But when a contractor is quoted $200 a square foot for a railing, certain portions of his anatomy tighten up, and he doesnt call you back.
The GOOD jobs, the ones I want to do, come from architects, designers, and the clients themselves.
If you can get time and materials where you live, more power to you.
Around here, very expensive houses still get bid.
Sure, there are plenty of change orders, but time and materials is not very common where I live.
What I find happens is the contractor puts a figure in the budget for a handrail, say, and figures on mig welded square tubing.
$20 a linear foot or so.
Then, the client gets an overall price in their head- say, $350,000 for the whole job.
Now inevitably, the client is willing to spend more for the subzero, or the hardwood floor- but when the contractor says the railing is gonna cost 3 grand, and I say its gonna cost 20 grand, it makes a big bump in the overall budget.

Thats why I feel I have to be a direct choice of the architect or the client- otherwise, I find the jobs just never pan out, and I waste a lot of time on proposals and meetings.

So I feel, for me anyway, that direct marketing to contractors would be a waste of time. This varies wildly, depending on what you do, and where you live. But around here, the good jobs dont come from contractors.
ries - Thursday, 05/25/06 13:11:26 EDT

clients contractors etc.: No I am not a contractor, for some of the same reasons I am not a blacksmith. I like to do the work and collect a steady paycheck, not deal will all the BS. I am sure that is your experience with contractors Ries and your probably right they are not the ones to focus marketing on. My experience is working %80 on T&M jobs and that you want to make the contractor happy by not delaying him because he has a say in who gets the jobs, it is all about word of mouth and some contractors have a big mouth ;-)

Even on million dollar houses people seem to balk at the price of ironwork, what does everyone think the solution is? Do it for cheaper? Seems like there must be some way to inspire interest in quality hand forged ironwork on a general scale instead of each smith having to do it individually with each client, because if they pass on the job you have spent all that time "educating" them for nothing. Any ideas?

guru: minimum wage?? A guy would have to keep your overhead costs pretty low to break even I would think. Am I missing something?
Leaf - Thursday, 05/25/06 20:56:56 EDT

Contractors etc.: My Dad was the senior lead man for a small custom home builder who does only time & material jobs. The boss has a lot of connections with people who HAVE THIER OWN MONEY AND ARE WILLING TO SPEND IT FOR WHAT THEY WANT. They have built a few multi million dollar homes, and have some repeat customers that have a severall hundred thousand $ addition added every 20 years or so. The most extravagant home they built was My Dad's project. As Ries said the railings were the arcitect's design and built by somebody they found. The railings were phosphor bronze, the guy lost His ass on them. He had planned to weld them together, but He couldn't get a color match on the welds. Everything had to be blind mechanically fastened increasing His time drasticly. NOTHING on this home went smoothly,actual cost was about doubble the estimated cost,the granite suplier abscounded with 50% the money for the stone and disapeared, the customers Wife hired a decorater who didn' see things the same way as the arcitect's decorator etc.
Dave Boyer - Thursday, 05/25/06 23:43:57 EDT

customers: I'm a general contractor, specializing in ironwork. Folks know I'm a slow, one-man operation. I don't do much new construction anymore. It's too stressful dealing with deadlines and trying to stay creative at the same time. I get a lot of work from remodeling contractors. Folks that are remodeling already have a kitchen and bathroom to live comfortably, so I have time, and they have money, to do fun stuff. We put a 2x4 safety railing in the living room stairway, I make samples to size, get paid for the sample, they stare at it for a week, we evolve it from there. One thing that's been helping, is I show them a piece of 1 inch sq stock, tapering into the stuff I hammer into my final grab bar shape, tell them about my 1909 power hammer, talk about how the light plays different with the hammer marks as the day goes along. Generally promote the hand worked idea, and how home depot and componet fabbed stuff is in most of the homes in town. Show them a componet catalog, tell them it's nifty, but mass produced, and I can make pickets, scrolls, leaves etc, fit your house and blend with the trees outside your window.. People want something unique! Show them how you can do it for them...
mike-hr - Friday, 05/26/06 02:00:31 EDT

Bending Jigs: Hi guys , first post here.

Just a random blacksmith question of preference really. When bending a peice of steel for a job do u prefer to make/use a jig for that job or use other bending apperatus such as a fly press?


Berty Stubbs
Berty Stubbs - Friday, 05/26/06 08:52:21 EDT

Minimum Wage: I was speaking of "take home pay" after expenses. Many just break even or just pay for the new machinery they needed to do the job. . . Even after the tools you need to make a living!
- guru - Friday, 05/26/06 08:52:28 EDT

Berty, It depends on the quantity. For a couple scrolls or curved pieces I will hand bend them on the anvil, vice, press. . . however.

But if I need a dozen or more exactly alike I will make a jig. If the work needs the use of more than hand pressure then the tooling will be made for the press.

The point at which you make a jig is a personal descision. If you are good at making jigs then do it at a low quantity of parts. If you take hours to make on simple scroll jig and it is not very good then you may want to have a higher part number threshhold.

Now. . I HAVE spent all day making several jigs. But this was in situations where MY parts had to fit someone elses. So not only did I have a bending jig I had a test gage to fit the parts into. In this case I would have done it for 4 pieces or four hundred. It was actually for a couple dozen and I factored in the price. I spent a relaxed day making the jigs and a day making the parts.

- guru - Friday, 05/26/06 09:01:08 EDT

Berty / Bending: My personal rule for the shop is that if I dont have at least 3 different ways to do any job, something is wrong.
I can, and do, hand bend stuff hot on the anvil. And sometimes this is the only way to do it, or the quickest way, or the most convenient.
I also have a hossfeld bender, which, once you get to know it, is basically an erector set (meccano set to you in the UK) of jigs- it is capable of being assembled, in 30 seconds, into any of several hundred different jigs, with built in length and degree of bend stops.
No welding, no cutting, no trial and error.
And sometimes I build dedicated tooling for my hydraulic press.
One of these days I will get a flypress, and build standardised, and dedicated tooling for it.
I also use a finger brake for certain bends. And a powered plate roll. And a powered angle roll. And a big vise, with a 24" crescent wrench.
I have a german cnc ornamental iron machine- and am slowly building unusual fixtures for it, as it is capable of doing stuff, quickly and easily, that no other tool in the shop can do.

So, the real answer to your question is "it depends".
But if you want to pose a real world question about a real piece of metal that needs to be bent, maybe we can throw some ideas at it.
ries - Friday, 05/26/06 11:31:54 EDT

Railroad spikes wanted!: Hi,
I´m Al from Austria and I´m looking for Railroadspikes to forge knives and some other stuff out of them.
Does anyone out there have a few for sale?
- Al - Friday, 05/26/06 12:33:41 EDT

my email
Al - Friday, 05/26/06 12:34:42 EDT

Al,: I've got a bunch of RR spikes, but I don't think they'd make good knives...maybe letter openers. If you're interested, I,ll count them and give you a quotation. Do they go to Austria?
Frank Turley - Friday, 05/26/06 14:58:30 EDT

RR spikes: Just sent you an Email!
Al - Friday, 05/26/06 15:59:46 EDT

Yippee!: Got my new (OK, 100 year old) anvil installed in the smithy, and beat up some iron this afternoon. I've got to say, though, that a big anvil doth not a blacksmith make. At a burly 6'3" with 15" around the forearm, I find that I can't hammer with anything but the lightest hammer, and not for very long at that. Sigh. My hat is off to you guys who do this all the time!

I'm new at this, and the I'll wear today's blister as a badge of honor... and read up on proper hammer technique, lower my anvil a bit, and beat up some more steel. I sure appreciate the encouragement from you all.

Here's how I got the blister -
Tim S. - Sunday, 05/28/06 22:05:57 EDT

Tim S.: Most guys are using 2 to 2 1/2# hammers, with 3# being a big one. How heavy is Your lightest hammer? There are some cautions starting 5/14/06 [on this page] concerning the damage a fellow did to Himself last year working up to a 6# hammer too quickly. Don't over doo it. There is a page on I Forge Iron explaning the Hofi method, You might find it interesting.
Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/29/06 00:28:17 EDT

Light Hammer: I am not sure how heavy my light one is - my tools were obtained in a hurry at a garage sale in the dark, and the marks would probably be in Chinese, anyway. I'm saving for a Hofi...

And I'm old enough not to worry about using a 2 lb hammer (I'll let the huge new pickup boys use the heavy ones). Thanks for the advice!
Tim S. - Monday, 05/29/06 00:46:07 EDT

Hammer weights & rhythm: 3.5 to 5# hand hammers can be used on occasion. The smith must consider his or her personal anatomy and physiology. A heavy hammer will slow down one's rhythm, but even so, I believe that each blow will be more telling when compared to the lighter hammer. In other words, there will be fewer blows when compared, but more work done in the same amount of time. I do not advise using dinky blows with a heavy hammer. Lift it overhead; get some work done.

While on the subject, I think that the most prevalent and worst of hand hammer habits, at least in the U.S., is the constant use of dinky, "wrist blows" when moderate or heavy blows are called for.
Frank Turley - Monday, 05/29/06 08:44:19 EDT

Wrist blows: Hm. I have large arms and shoulders (and gut), and my anvil is pretty high (I just installed it and haven't 'tuned' it yet). My forearm was quite fatigued after merely pointing a 1/2" rod. Was this likely to just my be "out of shape", or is it likely that I was doing the wrist blows? I'll have to watch what I'm doing - historicaly, my 'bad' way of muscling something has been sufficient, while the mechanics have been all wrong.

OK, so how do I know when I'm doing wrist blows? I would assume that my elbow and arms would be fixed, and all of the force would be supplied by the wrist.
Tim S. - Monday, 05/29/06 09:18:40 EDT

Wrist: The elbow and shoulder cannot be totally immobile while using wrist blows. There will be slight flexion and extension, but most of the work will be in the wrist and some in the elbow. There will not be the big arm abduction using the shoulder joint, as when the hammer is lifted overhead for a heavy blow.

In pointing a 1/2" rod, the tip of the rod is in line vertically with the far edge of the anvil. Lift the rod a bit with the holding hand and use angle blows, so that the anvil will be giving the same angle from the bottom as the hammer is from the top. By using angle blows at the far edge, your hammer face will have clearance in midair, so that it doesn't hit the anvil face.

Sign up. Take my class. See Gurus by clicking Top Post, Gurus.
Frank Turley - Monday, 05/29/06 10:20:47 EDT

Hammer Size:
Tim, it is not just a matter of being in shape, it is a matter of practice making the hammer do what you want.

It helps to start with a fairly light hammer around 2 to 2.5 pounds (900 - 1100g) and forge small work (1/4" and 3/8") until you learn some control. Do not try to use too small of hammer on heavy work or you will hurt yourself just as much.

The biggest problem I see with newbies is not standing close enough to the anvil. You want to stand right next to it. Those that stand perpendicular to the anvil facing the horn from behind should have their hip only an inch or two off the anvil. I tell folks they must "take possesion" of the anvil. You work over the anvil, not at arms length beside it. Working posture is critical.

Then as Frank noted, making little pecking blows using your wrist is bad. You need to raise your hammer high using both elbow and shoulder and HIT the metal with everything you've got. Just watch out if you miss as the hammer will biunce back and try to hit you square in the mouth. You need to practice your aim and control. You want to be able to raise the hammer high and hit the steel hard.

Although pointing a 1/2" bar is not easy for a newbie you should be able to do it in one heat. Hold the bar up at an angle as Frank noted and strike your blows at the angle of the point. Work at the corner of the anvil so that the far hammer edge does not strike the anvil.

The way to develop control is to forge hard (not pecking) and keep at it until you are starting to tire. Do not work until exhustion or pain stops you. Point a half dozen bars (if you can) then quit, then do the same the next day. After a week you will be more confident and have developed some strength. Take a few days off and then start again forging a few more pieces.

What to do with all these points? They are the first step in making a leaf. Second step is to make a similar taper in the bar about 4 to 5 diameters from the end of the point. I call the resulting lump on the end of the bar the "bud". Flatten this and you have a leaf. It is all heavy forging and good practice.
Turley Forge
- guru - Monday, 05/29/06 11:13:18 EDT

Hammer practice: Shoot. And I was going to take today off... Thanks for the advice, guys!

Guru, please check out the link. Is this what you mean with respect to positioning? Apologies for the artwork.
Position next to anvil?
Tim S. - Monday, 05/29/06 12:26:53 EDT

Tim S.-- whatever it is you are doing, stop the instant you start to feel your arm objecting. Continuing past the fatigue point-- "no pain no gain," as the sado-sicko fitness nuts like to tell you-- is a great way to get yourself a debilitating case of bursitis. And hammering on something that is up too high, such as a piece in the leg vise, can tear the hell out of your brachio-radialis muscle. No brachio-radialis, no workee.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 05/29/06 12:54:33 EDT

Work Position: Tim, That is it. Not bad artwork. This is the position Hofi and others teach. You can also work facing the anvil as well as almost any other position around the anvil. However, there are two good positions for general work and the others are used as needed. Never get stuck on something being the "only" way if another works better. But it helps to start right.
- guru - Monday, 05/29/06 14:38:38 EDT

A member of the smithing congregation who wishes to be anonymous is about to have exploratory surgery to see what that oddment is inside their kidney on the MRI and the CT scan. Leave us therefore send prayers, good thoughts, positive vibes, whatever the energy form of your choice, onward for them.
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 05/30/06 00:31:05 EDT

Hammer Blows:
When I'm forging I try to start my blows with the hammer head next to my ear. It sort of serves like the "anchor point" in archery, consistence on where it's starting from adds to the consistency of where it will land.

Wrist blows are for small stuff (~ 1/4") and light hammers; and for plannishing.

You really do have to match the hammer both to yourself, and to the task.

Go viking!
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 05/30/06 11:02:33 EDT

Visit to a smithy...: I needed a wrench. What I really needed was a 36mm socket welded to 4 feet of pipe to use as a wrench bypassing that whole cheater pipe process. Looked in the phone book, found a welder who would do it, but also found in the welding section a listing for Klocker's Blacksmith and Welding. printed it out, stuck it to the wall, and forgot about it, then, a couple months later, looking for something interesting to do at lunch, hopped a Muni streetcar and hiked a few blocks to Klocker's, at Folsom and First in San Francisco.

What a place, big old building I can only describe as a shed full of metal. Been there since 1912, currently owned by a guy named Tony who does odd welding jobs, makes tongs for can factories with a power hammer and reads the paper in an office the size of a closet. He was kind enough to let me take some photos of the place *you taking pictures of junk* and here's a few.

This huge drill press is maybe 10 feet tall, the countershaft up on the wall used to run off an old diesel motor out back, but was supposed to be steam back in the day. The counter shaft ran at least one metal lathe. Moving to the back of the shop, the floor is dirt, two huge anvils and at least 3 ancient power hammers, the smallest of which is a 100 lb ram Little Giant. The big Bradlee hammer was driven by another line shaft overhead. There were swage blocks stacked around the base of a big Di Acro Bender, a whole wall full of spring swages (I think they were swages) and everywhere you could look piles of smithing tongs, stacks of bar stock and shelves full of heavy metal parts to go with the power hammers. The forge was a gas forge, little more than a stack of fire bricks, a blower and a gas line.

I spent over an hour wandering around, drooling over the anvils and the swage blocks, and wondering how to ingratiate myself to the owner, who thought I was a little nuts, but conceded that *anyone works in the metal trades, likes this place, my wife thinks its all junk*. The day I was there was quite a windy one in SF, and Tony had the front garage door open, the wind was howling thru the place, nothing moved. And Tony in his little 4x4 office, out of the line of the wind, was reading the paper.

Michael-San Francisco
- Michael - Wednesday, 05/31/06 13:33:46 EDT

Michael, Great tour. You never know what you will find in the middle of a city.
- guru - Wednesday, 05/31/06 16:32:43 EDT

Guru Klocker's Blacksmith Shop: Hi Jock
The tour of the Klocker's Blacksmith Shop sure is great!! The power hammer looks like an old punch press converted to a power hammer. Is it an old punch press? It looks just like the ones I ran for years that were a bit smaller to about 100 ton. It gives me an idea how to make an afordable power hammer or basically trip hammer. Those old punch press are 5.00 to 50.00 dollars around here at auction. Would like your opinion. Thanks :)
- Tumbleweed - Wednesday, 05/31/06 18:12:16 EDT

Punch presses are designed to complete a full cycle to a set depth, stick something larger in then and they have a tendency to catastrophically fail as in "duck 300# of shattered cast iron is coming your way!"

Triphammers are designed to make whatever cycle they can---lots of play in the system with springs and toggles or air/steam cylinders. Put something too large in them and you basically get a weak blow.

Not the same kind of thing and NOT a good idea to try to convert---If you were given a press what I would suggest is to mount an air cylinder on it.

I don't know what they were trying to do with it at the smithy---perhaps they has a specific job that could be done with the specific stroke it gave.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/31/06 18:26:19 EDT

This is in no way intended to disparage Michael's enterprising and excellent picture report. The signmaker could have achieved a typo. Lord knows I do it a lot with this instrument of the devil. But if he did not, then judging solely on the basis of the sign over the door, Mr. Klockars seems to feel his name looks best spelt with an A, not an E. Now the question is, doubts having thus been raised, is that actually his name, or is it intended to be a possessive, but with the apostrophe omitted? Let's vote on it. I suggest he change it to Smithly.
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 05/31/06 20:35:57 EDT

Thanks for the info Tom P. The punch press sounds like a good way to get seriously hurt at the very least.
- Tumbleweed - Wednesday, 05/31/06 20:57:07 EDT

Punchpresses: These machines can be tooled up for an amazing array of jobs, but as noted by Thomas need to be able to complete the cycle, and not suited for freehand forging. The second to the worst thing that happens when the cycle cannot be completed is getting stuck on bottom dead center. Sometimes the use of dry ice on the pitman and ram combined with heating the frame of the press will free it up, otherwise the tooling gets sacrificed with a cutting torch.
Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 05/31/06 22:58:07 EDT

Punchpresses and Forging:
As noted they are not a power hammer. However, I've known a few people to use them for such. It works as long the work is good and hot and you ALWAYS overpower it. All it takes is one small mistake to wreck the press. You might note that this one under discussion had a brand new clutch bushing. . . I commented about a punch press someone I know was using for a specific job. they said "Oh, yeah, works great". A month later the machine was gone. . broken frame.

I NEVER recommend using them for a power hammer. However, they are great tools for other things. Most jobs require some engineering know how.

The reason they are being junked is that most are impossible to make OSHA safe and insurance companies are demanding they be replaced. If you have no employees you can get away with using them. The old ones are particularly bad because the clutches tend to engage on their own just any old time. . . lots of fingers and hands have been lost under these machines. Never hand feed one where you can get caught in the machine.
- guru - Thursday, 06/01/06 07:54:21 EDT

More on Punch presses:
Another reason they are being junked is tooling costs. Unless your die is fairly simple tooling can be very expensive. Modern plasma, laser and water jet cutting have replaced them for a lot of blanking work. Most of the time all these processes need is a CAD drawing and you are ready to go.
- guru - Thursday, 06/01/06 08:14:01 EDT

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