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May 2007 Archive

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

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

Champion 400 blower grease caps: Thanks David, I'll give the brass pipe a shot.
- Josh Crone - Tuesday, 05/01/07 08:55:02 EDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me too. I'd buy everyone I see if I had the money. Even junkers.
- guru - Tuesday, 05/01/07 13:48:12 EDT

More Ad-Vise: Frank Turley--Thanx for your note on the Columbian vise. I also have a Columbian I forgot about, will check to see if there is a date stamped on the movable jaw. When I got it, the threads were frozen. It took a pair of 3' pipe wrenches to get it moving, but after I got it apart, the threads looked great. Go figure

David Hughes
- David Hughes - Tuesday, 05/01/07 15:13:53 EDT

I drew the line at having 10 postvises on hand---then went to 11 anyway. I gave away a couple when I had to move and then bought 2 large ones soon after I arrived in NM---at half again what I had been paying in OH. I have 3 mounted on benches in my current shop, one set up as a travel vise, one that goes on my welding table and a couple of large ones waiting for the coal forge addition to get built. Probably try to put Sq receivers in the floor and mount them on heave sq wall tubing to have some re-arrangement potential.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/01/07 15:20:52 EDT

I have looked at literally hundreds of vises last few weeks, not that I need another one of any sort, just curious as to what's out there. Ebay, tool vendors, catalogues, all present a dismal picture-- decent oldies are sky high and for good reason: the new ones mostly seem to be from China or India or Czechoslovakia, including those with the fine old name of Wilton. My nominee for most baroque vise: Bridge City Tool's VB 1, currently viewable in the box as Ebay item 290110210212. To see this oddity set up go to Bridge City's website, click on Tool Showcase or whatever, go to Sneak Preview for 2001 and click on Number 58. It's not in stock at the moment.
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 05/01/07 17:20:50 EDT

Interesting fixture. I would not call it a vise. . . The fixable drill chuck base is interesting as a pin vise.

In the first half of the 20th century there was great pride in manufacturing of bench vises. While they were not works of art they were rock solid and cast of the finest ductile iron and steel with forged steel parts. The big machinists vices and chipping vises were designed to last forever under heavy use (like machine tools of the 1950's).

I was never a fan of Wilton vises but they made a great flat open center drill press vise. I bought one used that a fellow had spent a lot of time trying to repair by weld build up and surface grinding. He failed to realize that there was other machining required after thinning the rails. I did the machine work on my 6" lathe and have had a great tool ever since.

Wilton is now part of a group of old names that are being made in Asia by the same outfit. The materials are not what they were and neither are the fits. The handles have pieced ends not upset and are light duty parts on vices that were once heavy duty tools.

Even the lower quality old vises that did not have the fit and finish of the good ones are still better than the new junk. It just goes to show how little hand work is being done today compared to 50 years ago.
- guru - Tuesday, 05/01/07 17:56:17 EDT

I have a vise that saw a major machining crash of some sort and was rebuilt extensively, got it for $5 and it works great for when I need a 50# drill press vise.

I found a nice large shaper vise that a friend of mine went and picked up for free---I lusted after it but do I really need a vise that is best moved around with a forklift? Same friend I sold a heavy duty brake to for $5; what it cost me and *he* had to go pick it up.
I became very cautious about accepting food from his wife as I enabled his packrat tendencies...

Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/01/07 18:33:15 EDT

Vises: I have to agree that the current crop of bench vises are pretty much light duty junk.
I grew up at the valve shop where we had hundreds of Columbian chipping vises. Most were huge things that had 10 to 12" jaws. Most were badly worn. We also had about 50 pnuematic vises in the assembly dept for chucking valve bodies when assembling with impact guns. The Mfg went bust, and the vises that came to market under the same name about 6 months later were so brittle that the main body casting broke in a weeks use. I designed hydraulic vises to replace them.
I had a Wilton 8" machinists vise, that I think was absolutly the best. I bolted it to a table designed by one of my co-ops, who had done two semesters at the local barge yard as a draftsman. The table was bolted to the floor. We often torgued items to 3400ftlbs in that vise! Three of the biggest men on a 13' cheater on a 60" Rigid pipe wrench.! We did make serrated tool steel jaws for it.

We also had some unique vises for assembling very large valves. We took old two jaw chucks off very large turret lathes, and mounted them vertically on a heavy stand. Slow to clamp, but would hold those 1500# forged steel flanged valves while you built them up.
ptree - Tuesday, 05/01/07 19:05:21 EDT

Shaper and Milling Vises:
I have several shaper vises off scraped shapers. Both were part of the table and are not stand-alone. They are wonderful heavy duty things for their original purpose but are so specialized that they are not good for much else. The shaper tables that were also scraped with them are MUCH more useful as big welding table setup blocks.

I also picked up two Bridgport size milling vises as part of some other stuff. Both had broken feet on the base. . . reparable but expensive to do so. They had also seen a lot of tool crashes and errant milling. Pretty much junk. I MAY repair them some day if I have a specific need for them on some kind of specialized machine like maybe a bar twister.

The reason I like my old 1916 South Bend lathe is that it will chase threads down to 2 TPI. GREAT for making vise screws! Combine that with a nice little power hammer that you can forge the ball end screw blanks with and you are in business making HD vises!

Now. . . the question IS. Were old leg vise jaws forged from two pieces to make the split screw hole OR were they solid then slit and drifted? Could go either way.

- guru - Tuesday, 05/01/07 20:25:05 EDT

David Hughes: Not too many Columbian leg vises have a date stamped on the jaw. But the Columbians are easy to identify because of the stubby box projection, some open and some closed. They also have vestigial ducktail lugs at the base of the jaws. They seem to have been an afterthought, like who needs 'em? Some Columbians have chamfered legs and some don't. Was Indian Chief made by Columbian? They surely look like it.

Iron City from Pittsburgh made some healthy leg vises. They are stamped with the six pointed star on the side of the movable jaw leg. Sez "IRON CITY" inside the star.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 05/01/07 20:34:22 EDT

Milling Machine Vises: For any of You who have or sometime might get a milling machine, there is only one vise design worth bothering with, the Kurt Anglock. The real KURT brand is the best, but even a decent made [forign] copy is better than any other milling vise ever made anywhere.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/01/07 22:35:39 EDT

Portable mount for post vises: Interesting discussion on post vices. I built a heavy duty picnic style table to mount mine to for doing demos at renessaince and pirate faires. Besides giving me a solid place to work and lay tools it also gives me a nice front of my booth that keeps people at a safe distance. I usually tie a rope to each corner and take them out to form the front line of my area.
My table with vice mounted
FredlyFX - Wednesday, 05/02/07 02:42:00 EDT

Vise vices: Hmmm... My main 4.5" may well be a Columbian, then. It has a short box with open end, vestigial ducktails, chamfered legs, and the wraparound bench mount held by wedges with sort of ramshorns for the bolt-to-bench section. It looks more like someone split a horseshoe at the toe and welded the halves onto the mount so they spread in opposite directions, but it's a single forging. It'd be nice if were a Columbian, then it could go with my little Columbian anvil!
Alan-L - Wednesday, 05/02/07 09:46:41 EDT

Alan L: Yah, you may have a Columbian. They were extremely popular for their time. The manufactured mounting plate was a radius-cornered triangular shape, sometimes with a letter "C" in the center.
- Frank Turley - Wednesday, 05/02/07 10:05:57 EDT

Columbian mounting plates used the U bolt method on the ones I have seen.

Guru; I have seen vises with welds for the screw hole; but most don't look like it, more split, though the "new" ones sometimes look drop forged.

My travel vise for heavy duty long demos is bolted onto a 55 gallon drum full of water. Stable and makes the site owners feel you are cautious about fire. Takes up a lot of room in the truck though I fill the empty barrel with demo metal and does not look very medieval...

So my "new" light duty travel vise has a couple of 1/2" steel Sq Stock legs that bolt into the mounting bracket arms and angle out and down terminating with an offset step with a 4" spike to hold them in place.

Since there is airspace around the mounting bracket I also forged a tong/hammer rack that bolts to the bracket and bows out with a loop in it for a hammer.

Taking the forge on the road for a 5 day campout towards the end of this month.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/02/07 11:13:09 EDT

post vises: I have the post vise I am told was made by my grandfather as a apprentice project in about 1905. He ended up as a master molder and sometimes patternmaker in a large farm implement makers factory in Louisville. I also have a sexy shaped small post vise that I need to clean up and look for marks. All this talk has renewed my interest.
ptree - Wednesday, 05/02/07 18:32:52 EDT

Post vises: I have a 5-1/2" post vise of unknow provenance, but it works fine. It's got the diamond-shaped mounting plate and chanfered legs, but only has a ducktail on the moveable jaw. The rear jaw doesn't look like it ever had a ducktail, though I don't know why not. The box has one turned line detail. It was in pretty poor condition when I got it, but I polished it up and blued it and now it looks pretty nice...except for the missing ducktail which bothers my eye.

I have a beat up old 3-1/2" vise that has been broken and repaired at the screw eye on themoveable leg. That one looks like the eye was built up, rather than split, but that may be an artifact of the bad repair plate job. When I get around to buildign my coal forge (now that I have a ton of coal), I'll probably try to remove the repair plate and re-forge the eye with a forge-welded buildup repair. That may or may not work, as the wrought doesn't look like anything better than single-refined. I need to make a hemispherical washer for it, too. That vise a very nicely turned box with detail lines. SOmeone replaced the pivot bolt with a hex bolt, and that will have to go as it is an ugly anachronism. The vise isn't really worth all the work it wil take to restore it, but it would make an interesting project.

While wandering around the farm here one day, I found the moveable leg from a little bitty post vise. The jaw is only 2-5/8" wide, the smallest I've ever seen. The leg is about 11" long. I've never found the rest of it, though I'd like to.

SOmeday I hope to find a 3" or so post vise in good condition and really flossit up. Full polish and then do some engraving, maybe chase the pivot plates. Or make the wole thing from scratch. I've got a couple of old wagon axles about 3" square that look like triple-refined wrought which would be dandy stock to start with.
vicopper - Thursday, 05/03/07 00:20:34 EDT

Wrought Iron vises:
I've had trouble with a couple old vices that had very good wrought iron handles. . They bend TOO easily. One is so soft that I plan on replacing it with mild steel. On my oldest best mounted vice and relatively small vice I've not had this problem. The problem is on a later mid size probably American made vice. You just look at it and the handle is bent. It is possibly annealed in a fire but whatever, it is way too soft.
- guru - Thursday, 05/03/07 14:59:04 EDT

vises and vices of vises: I have two Columbians, 5 inch jaws. One with the U-bolt mount and one with the wedge mount (which IMHO is the better of the two). Unfortunately, at some point, someone had welded a piece of angle iron to the movable jaw so that it would cover the exposed screw when the jaws were opened somewhat wide. Good idea, but i find it gets in the way often (not to mention the HORRENDOUS looking arc weld between the steel angle and the wrought leg). I also have a smaller 4 or 4.5 inch Iron City that is destined to be a demo vise, as soon as I get the reproduction mount forged for it (a scale drawing of which was GRACIOUSLY provided, some time ago, by Mr. Turley). It's on the just keeps getting jostled around and hasn't reached the top yet:)
-Aaron @ the SCF
thesandycreekforge - Friday, 05/04/07 13:37:48 EDT

I have fashioned a corkscrew finial-- old shock aborber spring heated and stetched out a bit, sharpened) to the leg of one of my post vises, and find it works well in all but the hardest-surfaced parking lots. I simply drive it in a few inches with smart blows of a medium-weight sledge hammer, and then clamp a digging bar into the jaws, and turn clockwise a few spins, stopping when jaws are oriented in perfect alignment with the earth's axis, and Bob's your uncle.
- Miles Undercut - Friday, 05/04/07 15:06:40 EDT

For my light demo vise I found a piece of 3/8" plate that had a central round hole and 3 slotted holes torched in it. I heated it up and beveled all the edges including the central one and use a couple of stakes to hold it in place on dirt/grass/gravel. For pavement the 55gal drum full of water and the dirt tamper head works OK.

Thomas P - Friday, 05/04/07 15:33:07 EDT

Thomas-- pishtosh, lad, once you try the Undercut corkscrew you'll accept no substitutes. No more lugging around 55 gal. drums and endless buckets of water, no more driving multiple stakes. EZ-in & EZ-out.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 05/04/07 18:19:59 EDT

My travel vise, while not currently a post vise, is even easier than yours or ThomasP's to mount. When I back up the fold-a-forge and unhook, the vise is there ready to go. Permanently mounted on the trailer. No fiddleing, no filling, no srewing about, nothing. Just raise the fold-a-forge hood, place the stack, start the fire and bingo. And my uncles name is Robert, thank you very much :)
- ptree - Friday, 05/04/07 20:09:57 EDT

Portable vise: I have one mounted on a truck wheel and another on a car wheel.
Frank Turley - Friday, 05/04/07 20:26:01 EDT

ptree-- Used to be a farrier hereabouts had a rig such as you describe, yet even more compact-- anchored to the receiver hitch, it folded up into the bed, one unit comprising anvil and vise. I think it had a stabilizer leg that dropped down. Dunno where the fire was.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 05/05/07 00:44:02 EDT

Miles, Have a peek at the site across the street, I have photos of the demo rig, under my assumed name of Jeff Reinhardt. My travel rig has a fixed forge, with a fold down wind screen that also keeps the rain out when stored. Very recycled as it started life as a Datsun pick-up. There may be photos on this site when the guru gets to putting the CSI demo in the news.
ptree - Saturday, 05/05/07 08:33:49 EDT

ptree-- Looks great! R&D is even now working on an optional slide-in solar fruit-drier-charcoal hibachi and BBQ cum steamer, no?
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 05/05/07 09:37:57 EDT

Miles; I thought of going to the giant corkscrew method but how do you keep all the smiths with large wine bottles from "un"screwing up your set up to use it...?

Every time I think of coming up to vist y'all up there they raise the price of gas---it's getting spooky!

Thomas P - Saturday, 05/05/07 17:57:49 EDT

Miles, all I have to do is paint the topper black for the solar fruit dryer. I am rigging a small gasser to run off a 20# bottle. I have the spare parts from a old gas grill, and will probably build up a tiny grill and coffee warmer for the rig as I often end up camping on demos. R & D works on.
ptree - Saturday, 05/05/07 18:05:11 EDT

Thomas-- Tell me about it! It just cost me $11.22 to get 3.608 gallons in Los Alamos today. ($3.109/gal.) Maybe the time has come at last to nationalize these bloodsucking bastards. ptree-- I was thinking precisely along those lines, cogitating re: your brainchild as I drove back from the Los Alamos "crafts fair" (translation: Doodads-R-Us). The possibilities are unlimited: popcorn popper, water heater cum shower, fish steamer, cabin heater.... Snowing like mad here right now at 7,000 feet in the foothills of the Rockies, a day which has seen rain, too-- but along with it the first hummingbird of 2007! I bet he or she wishes he or she'd laid over in El Paso on the way north.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 05/05/07 19:55:50 EDT

How to bend square bar on the edge without messing up the edge: How do you bend a 1" square bar on edge into a circle without messing up the edge?
- wtr - Saturday, 05/05/07 22:00:18 EDT

wtr - bending Sq. bar on edge: Put "V" grooves in Your bending jig for the corner to lay into, spreading the load over more surface area.
- Dave Boyer - Saturday, 05/05/07 22:12:38 EDT

wtr: I built a vee-jig for such bending, and it is pictured in Schwarzkopf, "Plain and Ornamental Forging", Astragal Press. I made mine out of a car axle, and it has a crank in the body of the tool. If you want to make a circular form for maybe a door knocker, the cranked shape allows you to do so, because the vise doesn't get in the way of your work.
I'm hitting the work with a wooden or rawhide mallet.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 05/06/07 00:07:05 EDT

Dave and Frank, Thanks for your help.
wtr - Sunday, 05/06/07 06:31:18 EDT

Holsten Mt. Hammer-In : I'm Just back from From Larry Harley's Bladesmiths gathering. Second year I've attended.

Both years steel was made in the traditional method in a small furnace from high grade ore. This year Ric Furrer of Sturgeon Bay, WI was in charge of the furnace. Ric had 3 helpers (will get there names) who did much of the laborious work of sing the charcoal and feeding and patching the furnace. The furnace was fired for a day and then torn apart to remove the iron. The yield was a little disappointing this year. However the furnace had not been fired long and was a different size/shape than in the past. But a good fist size lump was welded up of the results. The second day's furnace firing was a little better. These things are a learning process.

The following day Steve Swartzer welded up the results of the furnace on a hydraulic press and processed it into usable steel. That afternoon Don Fogg forged the steel into a blade blank.

Wally Hostetter but on a fascinating demo of making a storage sheath and grip for an antique Japanese Sword. He used traditional tools and explained every detail step by step. This is a class of work that is MUCH to picky for me but I am glad others enjoy the art. Wally had some beautiful examples of furniture that were the highest art of iron carving with microscopic detail.

This Sunday morning was the first clear day so the cutting exhibition was put on then. Wally Hostetter was the cutting master and had brought tatami mats and a stand for the cutting. Many took part and it was amazing to see the swords slice through the rolled wet mats when done right. Wally managed to make a cut and then cut the piece again as it fell.

While this was a small gathering there was just enough going on that you had to pick what you wanted to watch. It is also a gathering of some of the great names of bladesmithng. If knifemaking is your thing this is an event you do not want to miss. Look for it on our Calendar page next spring.

Photos to follow in the NEWS.
- guru - Sunday, 05/06/07 19:35:24 EDT

Doug Hendrickson passes on: Sorry to report of Doug's passing, the morning of May 5. Doug, a successful, professional smith, operated Peola Valley Forge near Lesterville, Missouri, for quite a few years. Information is available at
Frank Turley - Sunday, 05/06/07 20:24:10 EDT

I knew Doug H. was ill, but I am still sorry to hear of his passing. I met him at John C. Campbell the week Francis Whitaker died.

Jock, the other two guys besides Ric who did most of the work on the smelter were Chris Price (shorter guy in leather cap) and Stephan Fowler (taller guy in straw hat with charcoal all over his face) The third guy, older fellow with beard and son in tow, is Randy Skidmore. He's done a couple of smelts on his own after watching last years' demo, with very good results.

For pictures, take a look at the photo section on Don Fogg's forum. There's 5 or 6 threads of pictures from Harley's.
Alan-L - Thursday, 05/10/07 10:33:19 EDT

P.S.: Randy, if you're reading this I meant older as in "older than Chris and Stephan!"
Alan-L - Thursday, 05/10/07 10:34:35 EDT

Miles: an idea from over at iforgeiron

"My striking partner has a good idea. He makes psuedo-traditional gates, but incorporates junk bicycles welded into them. Oddly enough, these gates are a hit."

Thomas P - Thursday, 05/10/07 12:38:18 EDT

Making Steel in a Stack Furnace: Stephen has also done some smelts on his own. Tough going it alone. You REALLY need friends as crazy as you are.

Last year Stephan did most or all of the charcoal breaking up. This year he did all the clay and mortar mixing. A hard working enthusiastic guy. I think Randy did most of the fire brick crumbling and hammering into grog to be mixed with the fireclay. Another hard job.

Making steel this way is contagious. After watching it you want to come home and try it. I would try it with a LOT of volunteers but I know better than to try to do it alone. . .
- guru - Thursday, 05/10/07 12:43:03 EDT

smelting, again: Yeah, Stephen has done one smelt solo back in December. Dr. Hernandez, the polite, soft-spoken Spanish guy who was there, has done two or three with his friend Walter Sorrels using red iron oxide pigment as ore. They have gotten surprisingly large blooms from that, although their first one was a little lower in carbon (around .5%) than the target of 1 - 1.2%.

Last year Harley and I did a crucible smelt of some of that magnetite ore I brought with less than stellar results, as we did not realize it's got just the right impurities to make it vigorously self-fluxing. We added some lime, which resulted in a huge crucible of boiling greeny-brown glass with a silver-dollar-sized chunk of ~1% carbon steel in the very bottom. This was a 2 quart crucible with one quart of ore/lime mix.

This year he made me make a list of the plumbing fittings Ric used, so I have a feeling there will be another smelt at Lonesome Pine Forge before long...
Alan-L - Thursday, 05/10/07 13:44:35 EDT

We built our short stack scandanavian bloomeries using cobb, [ 3 shovelfulls of sandy silty dirt, 2 head sized bunches of chopped straw and 1 shovelfull of powdered clay---you can get it from a feed store! with just enough water added to make mixing just barely possible]

In general we don't spend much time chopping charcoal though we do "pole the furnace" to keep bridges from forming.

Never understood why people go so crazy for eastern stuff when the western stuff works so well...

Thomas P - Thursday, 05/10/07 14:50:15 EDT

Me too. I am one of those who has not fallen prey to the "mysteries of the East," which sometimes makes me the odd man out amongst knife and sword guys. That's why when Harley does do his stack smelt, it will be more of a western-style furnace. I have an old (1850) book on smelting that shows a lovely stack furnace from Styria which was used to produce "German" steel. It's the same thing used in that area for around 2000 years to go from ore to steel without an intervening step. Why mess with a good thing, eh?
Alan-L - Thursday, 05/10/07 15:33:34 EDT

Auction: Hey east coasties i was wondering if any of yall planned on attending this auction...Its gonna be big like the Sorber auction...I doubt ill be able to afford anything cause the sharks are gonna be out.
If anyone plans on attending from anvilfire forum i think you should put your forum name on your shirt! ha
Help Pete retire he is a good shit
- coolhand - Thursday, 05/10/07 16:15:24 EDT

Alan I am always amused at how surprised a bunch of folk are to find out that the Europeans were pattern welding composite sword blades *before* the japanese were---and gave it up when better steel came along about the year 1000 CE...

It's been real en-heartening to see the rise in Historical European Martial Arts as a number of groups are now training using the manuals published in the renaissance; turns out we have a lot more info written down from the time period on how they fought than the katanaphiles do.

I'm starting to plan a smelt at my new place this summer; I moved 80-100# of magnetite not knowing that there is a goethite depost locally. OTOH Manganese was very prevelant out here (the worlds largest Mn mine was here once so perhaps it's best to use "unsullied ore" for some runs...

Thomas P - Thursday, 05/10/07 16:48:42 EDT

Pete's Auction:
Bad timing for a lot of folks. Half the smiths in the South East and a lot from the East in general will be headed toward Madison, GA for the SouthEastern Regional blacksmiths conference.

- guru - Thursday, 05/10/07 17:39:23 EDT

Thomas-- Having rescued these lovely old bikes from the electric furnace, I am now supposed to glue the beauties up as gates with my arc welder? Fie, sir! I say, Fie! I am deeply shocked.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 05/10/07 20:06:50 EDT

old Bikes: Miles, I have collected maybe 50 bikes from the roadsides on trash days over the run of my childrens needs for parts and bikes. All canabalized for parts except the old English racer with the 3 speed hub, that reminds me of my somewhat lost youth. I have found the left overs good for various thing. I have not made gates yet.
My wife wore out her first aluminum frame bike (3000 miles in a year on a cheapie) and now has a nice Scott. I have not found a use for that one yet. I don't weld aluminum, so its safe from the gate thing too. However, I now have a reason to pick up trash day bikes again:)
- ptree - Thursday, 05/10/07 20:58:12 EDT

Ptree, There are such things as screws. . . and aluminum melts down easily to turn into something else. . . ;)
- guru - Thursday, 05/10/07 21:52:56 EDT

I finely welded bike frame of aluminum, with wornout hardware is too good a
- ptree - Friday, 05/11/07 07:38:59 EDT

Boy that post blew up!
I wanted to sat that a finely welded aluminum frame is too good of a "future oppurtunity" to melt. I am thinking of using it as the basis for a homebuilt forge blower drivetrain. And GURU, what are these "screw" things you speak of? :)
ptree - Friday, 05/11/07 07:41:23 EDT

Miles if you are deeply schocked I would check that the ground clamp on your welder is making good contact and that the leads' insulation is not cracked.

If not a gate---how about a sundial? With the bike being the gnomen or the handlbars being a read out arc...

Thomas P - Friday, 05/11/07 12:22:55 EDT

ThysenKrupp & the Union: I see ThysenKrupp is building a multi-billion dollar new steel mill in Alabama.

The following quote is from the Associated Press:

"This project will only eat up U.S. tax dollars and add unneeded domestic capacity," said United Steelworkers International vice president Tom Conway in Pittsburgh. "The last thing our industry needs is another mechanism to depress steel prices."

I was not aware that there was an overcapacity problem in the domestic steel industry, if anything I've had the impression there was a shortage.
John Lowther - Friday, 05/11/07 15:49:04 EDT

Thomas-- Hmpf. Balderdash. Sheer flapdoodle. Codswallop. These are perfectly good bikes, needing only a bit of TLC, a brake pad here, a new tire there, a cable perhaps. Just because they've been waiting for it a while doesn't mean they've lost a bit of their value as bikes in the interim. Only because we live in this incredibly wasteful time and place would anyone possibly imagine turning them into (ewwwww!) gates or (ugh!) sundials. Nobody knows how to read a sundial, anyway, any more, one of my cowperson friends informs me.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 05/11/07 20:37:57 EDT

U S Steel Industry: What We have here is perspective applied to good old supply and demand. From the viewpoint of the suppliers the material isn't scarce enough to gouge Us more, so they should make less of it.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 05/11/07 21:16:46 EDT

U.S. Steal: It looks to me like what we have here is a prime exaample of the union gimme (or, let me take)mentality at work. Not what is good for the country or the industry, but what is good for one union. Shame on them, I say.
vicopper - Friday, 05/11/07 22:09:31 EDT

Currently steel supply and prices are being dictated by China. What we need is more steel mills and MORE manufacturers using steel in this country. It is a strategic necessity. Anyone writing otherwise is not a friend of the U.S.

Unions are both good and bad. When they see jobs moving to freedom to work states they get upset because THEY are losing power. If they has been doing their job WHEN they had power so many jobs would not be going to China. They were too busy demanding too much and not keeping their eye on the real prize.

- guru - Friday, 05/11/07 22:42:17 EDT

Anybody interested in steel ought to be sure to read Sparrows Point (entitled after the giant Bethlehem shipyard and steel mill near where I grew up in Dundalk, Md. and where my father and the fathers and uncles and brothers of most of my friends worked) by Mark Reutter. In it Reutter quotes a Bethlehem official: "We are not in the business of making steel, or making ships, or building buildings. We are in the business of making money." Yowsuh! Is this a great country or what? Makes a man feel mighty humble and a little proud.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 05/11/07 23:08:08 EDT

THAT quote was from a man in a business that had been largely funded by cheap government loans and garanteed sales during the WWII build up. At that time we did not have enough steel capacity to build the needed ships and had to build steel plants from the ground up in order to meet the need. The result made some people very very rich. But it also set the stage for the prosperity that we still enjoy in the US. A prosperity we are going to lose if we keep exporting our manufacturing.

Consider this. The steel used in the World Trade Center was all made in the U.S. and fabricated in dozens of plants (no one
- guru - Saturday, 05/12/07 10:00:17 EDT

Odd-ish question for TGN: As the most work-hardened piercer/piercee I know of, I thought this would be right down your alley. A female acquaintance who is heavily inked and full of holes wants a piercing that runs under her collarbone, top to bottom. Her boyfriend, a tattoo artist and piercer, won't do it, nor will anyone else around here.

She wants to know why, and if thre's anyone reputable anywhere else who may do such things.

I explained the whole subclavian artery/brachial nerve thing and the possibility of paralysis of the arm if not bleeding to death, not to mention osteomyelitis if the bone gets nicked, but she still seems to think I'm just making this stuff up.

I have no problem with folks poking holes in themselves, but I think this particular one may be too much. Any words of wisdom from a master of piercing?

thanks in advance.
Alan-L - Saturday, 05/12/07 09:52:18 EDT

Canedy-Otto Royal Western Chief : I have an old Canedy-Otto Royal Western Chief crank blower and forge, and wondering what its value would be.

The forge stands around 3-3.5' tall, with a circular fire pit that is probably a couple of feet in diameter. The blower fits into a tube and bolts into place (it doesn't have a stand of its own), and hand cranks.

Sorry for the lack of a better description, I don't know much about smithy equipment.
- Brandon Owen - Saturday, 05/12/07 10:19:08 EDT

Big steel moguls are a bunch of bloodsucking pirates who'd sell their grandmothers in a flash if it pushed their stock up a few points.
Of course, I speak as one who caught polio at age 8 swimming in a Chesapeake Bay polluted by the sewage they were using as a coolant in their mills, so I may be biased.
- Miles Undercut - Saturday, 05/12/07 10:30:22 EDT

Southern Regional Blacksmith Conference:
I am sad to say that I will NOT be attending even though I had planned to. My primary PC which had a hard drive failure a few months ago and cost me several weeks to rebuild (software instalationsa and file backups) has stopped operating and will not boot. So it is time to purchase a NEW PC. . . Someone please take lots of photos for me!

Normally PC's are not a major expense for me. However, this one was just bought off a widow friend for about half what a new one would cost. I did not plan on replacing it for a few years.

My big expense for anvilfire is travel. Although I have not published the photos yet I have been to the Boone's Hammer-In, the Big BLU Hammer-In, our CSI Hammer-In and the Holsten Mt. Bladsmithing Hammer-In all since the first of the year. Total cost. . about $5,000 in motel, meals, and fuel bills. I did not used to worry about fuel but when it costs $55 to fill up a mini-van it starts to hurt.
- guru - Saturday, 05/12/07 15:34:47 EDT

Brandon, The blower was one of the best made and if kept well oiled and still runs smooth and quiet is worth $150 to $250.

The forge may or may not be a good one. Sheet metal rivet forges with a flat bottom and flush grate are only worth about $50-$75. Cast iron ones more. The good forges have a heavy sunken fire pot with ash dump. These are usualy 3 to 5" deeper than the forge floor and made of 1/2" to 3/4" cast iron. Value $150 to $300 more or less.

Location makes as much as a 50% difference in price. In the North Eastern rust belt this stuff is common. In the far West it is much rarer and commands twice the price as back East.
- guru - Saturday, 05/12/07 15:43:42 EDT

I HOPE the new mill in Alabama depresses prices! I can hardly afford new syeel fo any of my projects anymore.
- John Odom - Saturday, 05/12/07 15:56:34 EDT

Business: Every buisiness SHOULD be in the business of making money, otherwise it is a failure or a hobby. Bethlehem Steel was a big business well before WW2. Their decisions to buy/start businesses that USED steel made good economic sense at the time.
- Dave Boyer - Saturday, 05/12/07 21:43:16 EDT

The moguls' decisions to invest in foreign steelmaking while ignoring the need to modernize their plants at home might be seen as good business as well as selling their employees and the country short.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 05/12/07 23:56:10 EDT

My first real job after the ARMY and school was in a dying breed, a family owned business. Run for the long term by the first three generations, they built a small local machine shop into an internationally know Boiler, valve and fitting, and ice makeing equipment compnany. Employed 1700 when I started. The not in my backyard syndrome that has prevented any new refineries or chemical plants to be built in the US, as well as the demise of the Nuke industry starte the slide.
The third generation owner knew every piece of equipment and it capabilities, and every square foot of that 42 acre plot. The company motto was " There is a lot of family pride in what we do" Many extended families worked there, my bosses was in the newsletter wih over 250 years of service.
When times got slow, belts were tightened, machinery was not bought. Since every purchase came from available cash, not loans, hard times were survivable. One of the reasons there were so many really great millwrights was that we kept machines till the had NO further value. We rebuilt, overhauled, revised etc.
Fourth generation went to business school instead of engineering school.
ptree - Sunday, 05/13/07 07:04:13 EDT

The problem with having less and less manufacturing is that it effects a whole range of the economy. Its not just the shortage of heavy steel plate and many sections that used to be common it is the lack of pieces and parts like bearings, seals, motors, actuators. These are the things much custom machinery is made from that go into making machines to manufacture other things as well as machinery to support the maintenance of power plants, refinerys and rail roads.

You have all seen the lessening variety of certain types of tools and the replacement of durable small goods with throw aways. This is endemic throughout all of industry. It used to be you picked up a bearing catalog and every size in it was available. Starting in the 1980's with the "empty warehouses are good" economic philosophy those catalogs became wish lists of products that COULD be made if you ordered enough of them. Today there are companies using the fine art of CAD and computer graphics to produce catalogs of hundreds of items that have never existed, EVER.

A surprising amount of machinery is low production almost custom built equipment that require sources of parts and pieces that are rapidly disappearing. Farm equipment, mining equipment, food processing and packaging equipment, all types of conveyor systems and automated plant systems rely on sources of standard parts that are in INVENTORY. This segment of every large economy is greater than the so called "key" manufacturing industries like automobiles and consumer goods. THIS part of the economy is what makes the rest possible.

The "empty warehouses are good" economic philosophy comes from business majors that know nothing about what makes the physical world work. All they care about is the short term bottom line. Full warehouses are to them a static resouce that is not earning money. To them it is better to have the money in the bank earing interest. AND our tax system supports this theory by penalizing the manufacturer that has inventory on hand.

The problem is, we NEED manufacturing. If every manufacturer sold off all their assets and invested them in the money market or OTHER businesses such as in other countries they MIGHT make just as much money and it is a LOT easier. But what about jobs? What about food and shelter for the people that need those jobs? Suppose every American farmer decided it was made better business sense to sell off their land to rich foreign investors and live off the interest? Just LET everyone buy imported food. . . Suppose that every realestate investor thought it was better NOT to build houses but to invest in money markets. . . Then we have no jobs, no food, no housing, no manufacturing. . . If you listen to the economists THAT is what everyone that had assets would do. Why work when you just sit backk and live off your investments. . . But what would there be to invest in?

Right now almost everything is against manufacturers in the U.S. More rules, more taxes, greater costs. There is no incentive for many manufacturers to make things here. So they go elsewhere or cash in. When you hear of CEO's leaving behind a devastated company that is what has happened. They made money, the board made money and MAYBE a few stock holders made money. Then the end comes unannounced. Our system of economics makes its better for those who can to make a quick profit rather than staying in business for the long run.

Something has to change. Otherwise the no jobs, no food, no houses scenario will happen. It already has for many. Remember the the election campaign when "Its the economy, stupid." was what made the difference? Nothing has changed. Its STILL the economy STUPID (congress and the president).
- guru - Sunday, 05/13/07 11:28:59 EDT

One thing that needs to change as well is the liability issue. When every product you ship is a bet against the company few will want to risk their wealth against sales of a product.
One thing is to put in place a statuate of limitations that says that when a product has served without problem, for a given time it is no longer a sue the company that made it possibility.
Aircraft made 60 years ago, that have served well are involved in accidents and the manufacturer of everything in the aircraft gets sued. Thats the engine makers the radios makers etc as well as the airframe maker. This is true of nearly every durable product. Example, in both small aircraft engines and consumer ladders, hover half the cost is liabability costs.
ptree - Sunday, 05/13/07 12:49:59 EDT

Liability: I recently read a book called "The Cutter Incident," after Cutter Labs, which produced batches of the original Salk Polio vaccine that contained live (and dangerous) virus. Cutter probably deserved what it got. According to the author, though, the liability issue has kept companies from developing a number of life-saving vaccines.
Mike BR - Sunday, 05/13/07 15:31:01 EDT

Southern confrence: I just bought a rather expencive digital vidieo camra.
my plan is to interview a large number of random blacksmiths, & tape the demos. If I can figure out how to put the stuff on the computer...who knows?
- packrat - Monday, 05/14/07 08:43:31 EDT

Packrat, The trick is editing and converting to a suitable format. On the web, video is much reduced in size and that is done with your editing tools along with the rest of the edits.

One hint. Do not film short. That is, do not wait to start until the last second and do not stop at the last word. Otherwise it is very difficult to edit.
- guru - Monday, 05/14/07 15:08:46 EDT

Slow Progress:
I ordered parts to get my desktop PC going today. Cost more than going to Madison for four days and driving 1,000 miles. However, IF it all goes together right I will have a much spiffier machine. I would have preferred to just replace the mother board with a nearly identical one but it is impossible to do 4-5 years after the originals wer made. It would have cost less than $100 using the old processor and memory. . neither of which work in any available boards I could find. I also found a dead fan on the graphics card (too many little cheap fans) and had to replace the card. No, the fans are not a replacement part. . .

A day to wait for the parts and a day to put it all back together. . (hopefully all the parts work together). I hate change and hate updated machines. I was perfectly happy with my old 350MHz win98 machine. . .

Anyway, I should be back in business by the weekend.
- guru - Monday, 05/14/07 23:49:00 EDT

New PC: Jock,

With all your harddrive troubles, I hope you ordered a motherboard with RAID capability. With that and four drives,you get great speed and redundancy, too.
vicopper - Tuesday, 05/15/07 00:14:08 EDT

RAID & backups: The small PC raid system is what failed on the previous hard drive and lost most of the data. There is no redundancy in these systems. I asked the guy at the repair shop who had originally built that PC. He said they were a huge mistake and caused a lot of problems. They are still sold as a speed enhancement but are NOT the same thing as the expensive SCSI server raid systems. The new board has the RAID capability but I am not going to use it. It is just another thing to go wrong.

If you need redundancy you put in two hard drives and back one up to the other. . . and hope the backup doesn't fail. I just need to burn more CD's. I used to download my camera to the laptop. Then transfer by disk. That way I had a BU on the laptop, I had the disk and I had the working files on my primary desktop. Everything not in progress is on the web server and backed up on the laptop. . . At one time I could put anvilfire on a 100mb ZIP disk. Now it takes a DVD-ROM. Source files are about 10x that. . .

The big problem with backups is changing formats. Hopefully CD-ROM's stay the same for a while. I have hundreds of old backups on 5.25" floppies. . hundreds more on 3.5" floppies and a box full of early format DAT tapes. I also have a collection of 100Mb ZIP disks. The DAT tapes only worked in my old 386/66 but THAT is the machine that anvilfire was started on (ten years old at the time). I think there is at least one DAT tape with the early anvilfire on it. That machine is dead from a lost CMOS. It had a very complicated setup that would be difficult to restore. All these formats are quickly going by the way. . . I currently do not have a PC the reads 5.25" disks but have thought about installing one. 3.5" disks are still used but my new laptop does not have any kind of floppy drive. Even for small transfers you have to burn a CD or transfer over a network. . .

THEN we have stacks of CD's. Guess what? The life expectancy on the common RW media is only about 20 years. . . This sounds like a long time but anvilfire is almost 10 years old now.

I just recently had to search for text and CAD drawings from a project I did 15 years ago. . found (most of) them on 3.5" floppies. I've uploaded them to my backup PC and then wrote a CD-ROM so they are on new media. OF course the problem is going to be finding installable software that can read the files. . I'm using 3.5" floppies that are over 20 years old now. So I hope the life of the CD's is better than predicted.

The funny thing is that the bag of two dozen 3.5" diskettes did not make a dent (less than 10%) of a CD-ROM. One full chip from my digital camera FILLs a CD-ROM. Time to switch to permanent crystal memory units a'la Star Trek.

Of course, since we are already very near the 24th century of Star Trek in that regard they are going to need to come up with and even more unbelievable (and different to read) format. .
- guru - Tuesday, 05/15/07 11:04:58 EDT

Raids: Guru,

There are some motherboards available that have a SATA Raid 0,1,5 controls built in with 4 ports. The raid 5 should give you the redundancy you need (assuming it is a true raid 5 as advertised). I have added a link to one example of a raid 5 motherboard.
Sata Raid 5 Mobo
Juterbock - Tuesday, 05/15/07 11:43:21 EDT

That is what is on both the machines we have. Top of the line MSI mother boards. Both systems failed and neither had backups that could be restored. Now they may not have been properly setup but that is beyond my knowledge. I tried to figure out the documentation but it made no sense. Then when the local PC guru (who has a popular PC fixit radio program) tells you its a big mistake you tend to believe them.

All this stuff that is theoretically better is FINE until you find you need it and it doesn't work. It didn't work for us TWICE.

The other problem is Windirt it self. While original data is what is important to back up, the thing that takes forever is installing the dozens of programs that are used in this business. Windirt does not allow a backup of software to be restored and function. Every program must be installed from the install disks and often they require on-line connections and long serial numbers. Many products only allow a certain number of installs. Some only ONE, like the Machinery's Handbook CD. The result is that it can take weeks to get back where you were after a hard disk crash. And often you never get back to 100%. There are numerous programs I cannot find all the pieces of or reinstall. Many had on-line updates and registration. Some the companies no longer exist.... Some the software has been abandoned. I had over $1000 invested in MS professional BASIC, a GREAT development tool that MS just dropped like a hot potato. I do not mind that they do not support it any longer, I DO MIND that it cannot be installed under Win95/98 much less the later versions. ..

Imagine if every couple years the government (the only standards setting organization as big as microsoft) changed the size and shape of bolt heads and every mechanic or anyone else that used tools had to replace all their wrenches?? Imagine if there was ONE global television network with a monopoly like microsoft and they changed standards every 5 years so that everyone would have to buy a new television from THEM.

We all know that a 50 year old television will still pickup and display modern TV signals. We all know and EXPECT the VHS tapes we bought in 1978 to still work in new VCR's. In fact that supposedly "dead" format is still being sold by the millions. But if Microsnot had control of the industry we would be on our 10th new non-backward compatible format. . .

It is not PC's I hate so much as it is Microsoft. Followed by our government for not breaking their monopoly. Enough rant.
- guru - Tuesday, 05/15/07 12:46:27 EDT

Backup Options for entire hard disk: Guru, I wasn't sure what you had, and that type of mobo was what I was considering building my next system around. I'm glad I didn't build it yet. Have you ever used "Ghost" now by Norton to backup a computer. When in former life as a sysadmin I would rollout custom imaged computers this way under nt4 and it may have been XP as well. I would setup 1 computer and image the entire harddisk, OS and all installed software up to the network disk then bring down the image to each new computer only having to provide unique system name for each machine as it was installed. This was 6 years ago so the memory may be a bit foggy. Best of luck with the reinstall, something I despise on my home or work computer and can not imagine on your systems. I am anti-Microsoft as well and I've reloaded more systems for myself, friends, family and work than I care to think about.
Juterbock - Tuesday, 05/15/07 13:40:03 EDT

Ghost may work but since Norton left Norton the products have been buggy and intrusive as well as impossible to uninstall. So I avoid all their products.

I'm sure mirroring of a whole system can be done because manufacturers do it but many programs now look for motherboard ID's and other component ID's and will not operate on a rebuilt machine even if you own a legal copy. I do not have any of this high end fingerprinted software EXCEPT WinXP on this laptop. I have win98 on my old BU machine that I do bookeeping from and Win2000 pro is what came on the others. I will be avoiding WinXP and the other much too intrusize spy on the user versions of Windirt for as long as possible. Vista will probably be old and dead by the time I move up again. In fact it may be time to revert to DOS for normal tasks and Linux for the web. If I were not in the web business I would have reverted to DOS a long time ago. I have good DOS CAD and word processing software. The trick is to partition a hard drive small enough to install and use DOS. . . I think 3.3 was the last stable version. Remember when your whole OS would fit on ONE 1.4Mb diskette? The only limitations were simple memory and disk space addressing issues.

The PC based RAID systems are the hot thing among game players that access huge chunks of graphic data and overclock their systems to get the maximum speed. You know, the guys that water cool their processors and have strobe lights in their tower cases to LOOK cool. . .

- guru - Tuesday, 05/15/07 14:32:26 EDT

I remember my father having a copy of DOS 1.0 on a 160k disk I think it was, when I was old enough to know what a computer was and all of the software I was using DOS in the low 3.XX. win9x has always been garbage, and I've come to accept XP as somewhat stable (atleast compared to running 95/98 and reloading it every 6 months because of the blue screen of death). I was looking at the raid5 mobo because I wanted to have redundancy for all of my audio and photography along with a numerous important files I would hate to lose. I may look at a independant raid controller with it's own processor. I used to be very into buying electronics, now I much prefer tools. I still haven't setup a blacksmithing area, I've moved twice since I first found this site and I may finally have an area to work with fire and metal behind the new storage shed I'm building right now. I still have to convince my wife that a lean-to type roof on the back that faces the neighbors fence will not be an eyesore :)
Juterbock - Tuesday, 05/15/07 14:45:32 EDT

RAID: Guru, The most common type of RAID on desktop PCs is RAID 0, which is just plain playing with fire. Raid 0 increases the chance of data loss in proportion to the number of drives involved: Doubled for two, tripled for three, etc. It does dramatically speed up data access, however.

Lots of motherboards now support RAID 1 as well, which requires disk drives in multiples of two and delivers half the data capacity, 'cause everything is written to both drives. If reliability is the overarching concern, this is the way to go. This is also known as mirroring. Our big multi-terabyte storage system at work is set up that way.

Some higher end motherboards support RAID 5: this is an attempt to be the best of both worlds, providing faster access speed and still providing redundancy. A minimum of three drives is required and you get 2/3 the total capacity. The data is distributed across two drives and the other drive contains computed data which allows the data to be re-constructed in case one of the data drives fails. Likewise the check drive can be rebuilt from the data drives, so any one drive can fail without data loss. I'm not entirely certain I'd trust a motherboard to do RAID 5 yet, but it's coming.

BTW: While I'm sure you'll have to keep a Windows box around, you might give Ubuntu Linux a try. I've been using it exclusively at home for a few months and haven't been inspired to boot up Windows since. The GUI controls are not yet as comprehensive as for Windows, so sometimes you still have to open a terminal window and type, but much of the time the user experience is almost Mac-like.
John Lowther - Tuesday, 05/15/07 16:17:37 EDT

johnson gas 900 console crucible: I have a used johnson gas 900's console unit. I dont have the crucible part. It is still made in cedar rapids. New they cost $2800. I'm looking for fair offer? email call 573-881-4047
park - Tuesday, 05/15/07 23:08:30 EDT

Query-- anybody out there found a GOOD respirator for grinding, cutting and welding? By good I mean one that actually works, replaceable filters, screens out fumes and gradue, AND fits under welding helmet. I am currently using a Willson or some such, from MSC, large size because I am 6'6" and have an accordingly large mug. This mask is so-so, better than the 3-M Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer jobs mit der red platic noses. But not much. If so, please post details, brand name, model number, price, vendor.Thanks.
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 05/16/07 00:10:13 EDT

RAID: I'll echo what someone said: never use a RAID 0 setup if you value your data. RAID 1 (mirroring) is for redundant safety and it works. Sure, it slows tings down a tiny fraction. If you can tell that it's slower, you're doing some realy high end number crunching, though. Up to a bunch of megaflops, who can tell the difference? The difference you CAN tell, si thatwhen your HD crashes, you just yank it out and drop a new one in and let it copy itself while you sleep.

Want to move a couple of gigs easily and cheaply? I use a 2GB thumb drive that cost a whopping $39. why mess with CDs?

My life is boring enough that I really don't care if Microsoft reads my whole damn computer every night. I'm perfectly happy with XP Pro and will continue to use it until something comes along that I like better. I'm far more concerned about the new ever-more-intrusive federal government than I am about private industry.
vicopper - Wednesday, 05/16/07 01:49:22 EDT

Thum Drives AKA Memory sticks:
I forgot about them. . just been using them a few months. Works great on my Laptop and (currently dead) desktop but my slow non-networked backup machine will not read them. I installed the proprietary factory drivers but still a no-go. Wrong flavor USB.

The RAID on the machine was supposed to be a dual disk backup system. It had the two identical disks and were setup to mirror each other. However, it did not work. So how do you KNOW something like this is going to work when you need it? You don't. So in my mind it is a worthless backup. Like my DAT tapes that cannot be read by any existing equipment and all those 5.25" floppies that I currently do not have a machine to read, and PC that I cannot just replace the mother board and keep trucking. . . It is all unpredictable.

I tried to find a motherboard that would use the standard Pentium 4 1.x Gb processor and DDR memory. . . No go. The new boards, even those that would accept a dozen different processors were all clocked too fast for the 4 year old Pentium chip. And they all required DDR"2" memory. SO. . I needed a new processor. I got the cheapest Cor-Duo Intel chip available. Its still faster than what I had. . . all the bits and pieces add up.

My "repair" is going to cost about 2/3 of a new box. However, it will save me the two weeks it took to install all the software. . . IF the hardware ever gets here.
- guru - Wednesday, 05/16/07 12:31:06 EDT

respirators: Miles, there are a number of "pancake" style HEPA rated filter elements that fit half face respirators. A standard HEPA filter is rated for Fume, and radionuclides, and is also the standard filter for dust like asbestos. You do need to note that there are special filters for use when there is oil mist present as well.
There are also disposable half face masks in both the HEPA rated as well as N95 and N100. The N95/N100 are for no oil as in Non permissible and there is also a P95/P100 rating as in Permissible for oil mist. The P rating basically doubles the price or more.

The choice is mostly personal. I prefer a good half face with replacable filters and I also like the system used by A.O. Safety in the respirator model known as the "Quicklatch" This is adjusted and when you step out of the dirty area to answer the phone, sip coffee etc, you lift a latch at the chin and the respirator drops just below the chin and rests. To reseat ,push the respirator onto the face and throw the latch down. I can do this one handed very easy.
I believe the cheaper rubber mask is about $20 and a box of the filters is about $10 for 5 pair. This style fits well under my welding hood, and is comfortable enough to wear when welding, grinding and wire wheel de-rusting.
I get mine at Hagemeyer, and if you call 502-961-5930, Mike Morrison can set you up with the right part numbers. Tell him you want the same quicklatch Jeff the blacksmith likes.

A side note or two. No respirator works well with facial hair. All respirator of the unpowered filter type put additional strain on the heart and pulmonary system. All reusable respirators need frequent cleaning, and a clean storage system. A tupperware container is just the thing.

Another great item from A.O. Safety is the low profile hearing protector muffs with the behind the neck band. Comfortable(the only ones I can stand to wear) and they fit under most weld hoods and dont interfere with face shields etc.
ptree - Wednesday, 05/16/07 20:08:13 EDT

ptree-- Many thanks! I will check it out. The Willson has a lot going for it, I just don't think it works totally. Some crud still getting into the schnozzola. Should do better than that for what it costs. A friend with a motorized ($700) rig-- he looks like a beekeeper with a scuba hose-- who uses it for woodworking says only such equipment as that can really be effective. Unsee any way that could possibly fit under a welding helmet.
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 05/16/07 21:18:32 EDT

PP Welding helmets: Jackson and others make positive pressure (also called supplied-air) welding helmets, Miles. They're in the $900 range, but boy, are they ever nice and cool when the weather is ot and you're welding all day long! The only drawback is either dragging around the air line or wearing the battery/blower pack on you belt. For some jobs though, there is really no substitute.
vicopper - Wednesday, 05/16/07 22:00:33 EDT

Miles - Respirator Helmet: Check out Jackson's "Respirator Helmet". Looks like there is enough room for a football in front of Your mouth. It is supposed to fit over dual cartrige respirators.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 05/16/07 22:00:39 EDT

vicopper & Dave Boyer-- Thanks! (Nine berries is a bit more than I have budgeted for this. I know, I know, lungs go for even more.) The Jackson sounds promising. I saw a welding rig up at Johnson Controls in Los Alamos back in 1991-- a flex hose running to a big vacuum fan system. Welder positions hose inlet as needed. I built one for my shop but never remember to use it. Royal PIA, anyway, unless you are doing multiple same-position welds.
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 05/16/07 23:59:14 EDT

Miles- welding respirators: Miles, I did not go into the welding helmets with respirators, or much more than mention the powered respirators as most people find them expensive and cumbersome. The battery pack units hang a heavy battery on your belt at the small of your back and snake a hose to the face piece. Great for a production welder sitting at a welding table and making hundreds of the same widget. If doing fabrication and crawling around they get hung up pretty easy. The airline units have a smaller hose, no battery pack, but usually have a regulator at the hip on your belt. They tether you to a hose.

PLEASE NOTE EVERYONE WHO READS THIS, an air line supplied respirator MUST be supplied with air from a special oiless compressor, or through a special filtrations system that removes the carbon monoxide that results in air from an oiled compressor. To do otherwise is to bet your life your compressor is perfect and will not combust some oil partly, and make CO! Don't do it

After reading the above caution, you can see why I did not suggest a supplied air unit.

In industry one choses the least restrictive respirator that will provide adaquate protection. You see a respirator is not perfect, the fit is never perfect etc. A half face is rated to protect in a less contaminated atmosphere than a full face. A powered unit is better than the filter units. The supplied air units are better than... with SCBA best of all.

All things considered, and note that from years in industry I have worn every type mentioned so far, in asbestos removel. I picked a half face, filtering type cause it is the least restrictive, and the most comfortable and therefore I will wear it on a regular basis. By switching filters I can protect against VOC's in paint. I also run a constant flow of air through my shop when welding etc as well.
ptree - Thursday, 05/17/07 20:49:12 EDT

Fresh air:
For welding and gas forge ventilation: Years ago I designed a jib crane supported exhaust hood. It had a rotating fitting at the jib pivots of which there were two. This gave you a range of anywhere inside the major arc or coverage. The hood was a fixed height but could have been adjustable.

A setup like this would be easy to position anywhere within a given area. There would be no hoses or cords to move or be in the way. Its not perfect but it would be very convenient.

We have discussed supplied air hoods in the past. One advantage they have over filter respirators is they do not stress your breathing. They also help keep you cool. Respirators put stress on your respiratory system AND add to heat load. The combination can be deadly. You should consult a doctor if you are going to wear a filter mask a lot.

Supplied air systems using a fan and filter can be user built and quite safe. Filters can be large automotive type and located in a fresh air zone. The hose "tether" IS an inconvenience but it beats short lived battery operated systems with small filters that must be changed as regularly as the batteries.

Both systems are something to think about fro long term use in a relatively confined (small shop) space.
- guru - Thursday, 05/17/07 22:28:27 EDT

Supplied air - DIY: I'm planning to make a DIY supplied air hood, myself. I figure one of the HEPA filters for a vacuum cleaner would be cheap enough and readily available, and do the job if working in fairly clean air, like from outside the shop. Sealed booster blowers are fairly cheap, too. I saw some hose at the hardware the other day that would be ideal, and it was about $3/foot, which is doable. I shold be able to put the rig together for under a couple hundred bucks and have a much cooler time welding, particularly doing extended TIG jobs on aluminum or copper. Years ago, I used a supplied air helmet when doing TIG work inside vacuum chambers, and it was literally a lifesaver. The heat alone would have done me in, to say nothing of the fumes and purge gas.

I did do one welding job on galvanized a couple of years ago where I wore my SCUBA regulator in my helmet. That was a really tight, uncomfortable fit, and the tank on my back did nothing for my posture, but I never got a whiff of zinc fumes. Breathing all that dry tank air for a few hours sure wreaked havoc with the throat, though. Had I thought about it in advance, I'd have borrowed a buddy's humidifier mouothpiece. Poor folks do what they have to in order to get by.
vicopper - Thursday, 05/17/07 23:27:45 EDT

ptree, Guru, vicopper-- Again, many thanks. Much info to ponder. Portable air supply is overkill for what I do. I checked the MSC catalog for price on the Quick Latch, and called Hagemeyer for cross-check, had to leave a message on their voice mail. Stay tuned.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 05/17/07 23:51:12 EDT

If you provide drop down attachment points in several places in your shop you would not have an excess of hose and half the hose weight is supported from above.

I am not sure if the quick connects would seal under pressure (very low) but a central vacuum system manifold and parts could work slick. Its all PVC and fairly inexpensive. At the least yopu could use the end connects.

One thing that is very well done in the Big BLU shop is that Dean Curfman insists that there be no cords or hoses lying on the floor to trip over. All Extension cords and air hoses are on on overhead mounted reels. The primary shop welder hangs from a jib crane and benches (even away from the wall) have outlets on them. It is not a cheap way to go but I suspect it pays for itself in work efficiency, safety, convenience and fewer cut cords.
- guru - Friday, 05/18/07 07:45:34 EDT

Most of the knifemakers I know that use a supplied air system do NOT use a compressor but rather a blower located outside the shop with filtering to prevent wasp/bee/hornet intake, the distribution hose is run from overhead and is usually located near the grinder...
Thomas P - Friday, 05/18/07 13:44:30 EDT

No progress in PC land. . . not the right number of ports on the mother board. . had to order a more expensive one. . . :(

Anyone want a good deal on a MSI P965 Neo-F Mother board? Its not even a good upgrade for my old PC as it primarily supports SATA drives. . .
- guru - Friday, 05/18/07 15:27:07 EDT

In a related safety area, a smith I know who wishes to remain nameless yesterday fitted a 20K rpm max mini-wirebrush into what he assumed was a 20K rpm die grinder but was actually a 35K rpm and proceeded to deslag some 10 or 12 feet of stainless beads, wearing jeans, a much-laundered denim shirt, ear muffs, gloves, safety glasses and full-face plastic face shield. No leathers. Some hours later he noticed a stubby splinter c. 1/8-inch long sticking out of his forearm and had spouse remove same with pliers. Out came a 1 (one)-inch piece of wire. Damned thing had speared through shirt and into muscle of forearm. No pain. After getting tetanus shot, anonymous smith now wonders how many more of the little darlings pierced their way into his bod, has resolved NEVER to use motorized wirebrush without full leathers-- and NEVER to exceed max rpms.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 05/18/07 17:45:00 EDT

Miles, good thing you had on the face shield! All of the bad accidents with grinders have involved overspeed, or the part getting caught up.

ThomasP, In industry, supplied air is in every case I know of a factory built, NIOSH approved rig and uses compressed air thru a small diameter hose, from a compressed air source. We are not allowed to innovate and home build with blowers,carbarator filters etc. A NIOSH approval is required and the brands have to match or be aproved to mix. In industry we have to hit a little higher level.

For reference a vacumn HEPA filter is usually not HEPA. Unless it has a NIOSH approval, I would not believe the rating, and I do know that a real HEPA filter for a shop vacumn runs about $250 wholesale.

Building a fume exhauster is pretty easy, but please don't use plastic piping or hose unless fire rated. I saw a number of smoke eaters burn up when the wrong replacement hose was used. I believe we had 6 in the die shop and I believe 6 self immolated in a 6 week period. And that was from grinding sprarks mostly, not welder berries:)
ptree - Friday, 05/18/07 18:15:15 EDT

Grinder Speeds:
Note that air motor speeds are relative to pressure and a grinder rated at 30,000 PRM @ 100 PSI may run much faster at higher pressures.

Even electric die grinders may run faster than the rating. Many of these use serial wound motors which have no theoretical top speed other than that reduced by friction. The rating is an average before the device gets well broken in.

So for many applications your wheels should be over rated to some degree ESPECIALLY on air equipment.

Wire brushes are a special case. Even when used exactly as directed they shed wires. On high speed grinders they are very dangerous and full leathers ARE recommended. Those I use on the bench I run at 1800 RPM (never on a 3600 RPM grinder) and use wheels rated at 3600 or better. They still shed wires and you will find them sticking in the darndest places.
- guru - Friday, 05/18/07 20:12:46 EDT

Ahhh, consider the poor welder who is working at a nice sized weld table, and then has to wire wheel the slag on a fairly flat part. Usually standing! That is one of the reasons I like bibs, all that extra heavy material in just the right location is handy even under leathers:)
ptree - Friday, 05/18/07 21:06:45 EDT

Wire wheels: That porcupine effect is the reason I use a lower rpm polisher motor to run wire wheels, instead of a grinder. I just dial it down to where I can manage to control it easily if it snags, and it doesn't shed many wires at all. I still catch onein the gut every now and then, but they don't go as deep, either.

On the bench wheel, I use only the very best wire wheels that I can find, regardless of cost. And the minute they begin to shed appreciably, I junk them. Those wires will find their way up under a face shield, past an apron and through the teeth in your zipper, even. Vicious little things, with malice aforethought.

vicopper - Friday, 05/18/07 22:00:18 EDT

All true, but, alas, no RPMs to speak of, no bite to speak of. Answer: full body armor for anonymous smith from then until the end of the movie.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 05/18/07 23:03:20 EDT

Vice and Vise:
I was looking at vise prices (side links) and was surprised that a cast Wilton vise is selling for considerably more than a forged Rigid (Peddinghaus). And the forged vise has a very good warrantee. Odd world. . .

Every old round arm vice I have seen (like the Wilton) has had serious issues or was broken beyond repair.
- guru - Saturday, 05/19/07 11:37:50 EDT

New pictures posted: Dear Friends,

I'm writing to you from Managua, Nicaragua. Some of you may be familiar with the blacksmiting school that I have set up here. I'd like to share some of my latest pictures with you of a recent blacksmith team from Ontario Canada that visited and taught my students for an entire week. You can see the pictures at
I hope you enjoy the pictures. Let me know what you think.
- Mike Deibert - Saturday, 05/19/07 16:17:48 EDT

Vises-- I just finished a few weeks of studying vise prices on Ebay, looking at them in hardware stores and industrial supply shops and catalogs. The new ones are almost ALL from China, one Wilton, I believe, is from Czechoslovakia the rest of the Wiltons are from China.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 05/19/07 16:44:36 EDT

New Building for Oakley Forge; "Plan E":
The house at Grey Havens is taking more time and costing more money than expected. (Now, there’s a big surprise! ;-) Therefore, the date for Camp Fenby this summer (or autumn) must be put into suspense.

Meanwhile the bids for the new forge building have been non-existent or much too elaborate and expensive. Several of our folks from the Longship Company and Camp Fenby have suggested that with a lot of help from my friends we could build the new forge building on "my side of the farm" ourselves at a fraction of the cost. Of course, it would depend on the “lot of help from my friends", who have a varying set of skills and experience, so I thought I’d run the preliminary plans by y’all to see if you think them feasible, workable, or if I’ve made any structural assumption that would not hold up in real life. The structure will use several salvaged components both to save money and on general principle.

The basic forge will be approximately 24’ X 26’ (624 sq. ft.), with double doors (6’) towards the lane on the south end of the west side, a single door (3’) on the north end of the east side, and small windows on the east, north and west walls. The east and west ends are the gable ends. I’ve done a layout, and this is big enough to fit everything in with some circulation space, an area for the Renaissance Power Hammer, and some viable working room so I don’t have to move three things to use on thing. The present forge is 11’ X 17’ (187 sq. ft.) and is too small to house the lathe and the large drill press presently in the "new west barn" which I have to vacate anyway.

The foundation will be creosoted pilings from my father’s pier, sunk about 3’ down with about 1’ exposed. One of the neighbors has a really nice post hole drill attached to his tractor that’s just right for sinking pilings.

On top of these I plan to spike or lag in 4” X 6” pressure treated timbers, slightly overlapping the pilings so that, when I install an inside edging, the pilings will not be exposed inside the building (being toxic and somewhat inflammable). The hard floor will be concrete pavers over a vapor barrier, gravel and sand. In the hot work area, it will be a “sand box” bound in by the edging and the pavers. (I can then rake Zen designs in the sand at the end of the session. :-)

The wall frames will be nailed together from standard 2” X 4” X 8’ lumber in 8’ sections that can be tilted up and bolted together, then lagged or spiked to the sills. Openings for windows and doors can be framed in while the tilt-up sections are being assembled.

Side and end plates will be 2” X 6” pressure treated due to exposure to condensation.

The tricky part is the rafters. I have claim on about 12 sets of barn trusses salvaged from one of my great great grandfather’s barns next door at Burlington. These are about 26’ wide and 13’ high and built out of hardwood. (Sample of wood from the barn range from poplar to black walnut to chestnut to who-knows-what. All are hand adzed.) Usually rafters are set every 2’, but these are heavy barn trusses, and were set at 4’ intervals so that you could lay hundreds of pound of curing tobacco on sticks between the collar beams. Since most of them are missing the bottom collars we will have to install one and fit the truss to the structure, but that’s to be expected. Laying them on the plates, tilting them up and securing them will take a lot of manpower and coordination.

The purlins connecting the rafters are 1” X 6” on 1’ centers and pressure treated due to possible leakage and condensation. Roofing will be corrugated galvanized steel. 2 ½ ‘ X 12 ‘ for the upper course over a lower course of 2 ½’ X 8’. Chimneys for the coal forge and wood stove and roof vents will be framed in with plenty of clearance. Additional vents will be on the gable ends.

Exterior sheathing would be 5/8” exterior plywood.

Materials would run about $6,000 (using the salvaged pilings and trusses).

None of this is written in stone, more like firm mud; so if there is anything I’m missing or a hole in my planning, an underdesign or overdesign, please feel free to comment. I’ve been putting a lot of thought into this, trying to strike a balance between practical and affordable, using easily obtainable materials and taking into accounts my own skills and talents as well as the capabilities of my friends. Your thoughts and suggestions will be appreciated.

Please excuse any mistakes in nomenclature; as a carpenter I’m a pretty good blacksmith.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 05/19/07 22:50:27 EDT

Bruce-- I built my shop, about the same size and in much the same way in about 1986, and wish I'd made it bigger. Things tend to accumulate and it is nowe basically just a big tool crib and I forge and weld outside. Biggest problem with the design that I have found is that mice and pinon rats think it is ideal living quarters. They have not tunneled under the concrete footings atop which I put the same wall sections you describe, but they have on the north end, where I used RR ties as temporary sills, planning on future expanion, maybe. Try to anticipate what critters in your area might do. They are a dreadful nuisance and can also be a dangerous one.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 05/19/07 23:25:30 EDT

Bruce-- p.s. I'd vote for a slab if at all possible-- much easier to roll heavy stuff around on.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 05/19/07 23:29:14 EDT

Bruce-- p.p.s-- Forgot to mention OSB (oriented strand board) is what contractors are using around here in Santa Fe instead of plywood as sheathing. When I started helping to build houses in Balmer County, Merlin in 1952 sheathing was 1x pine. Then came plywood and more recently I have used that, 3/8" exterior grade, under corrugated tin on six of the seven roofs we have put on buildings here at Entropy Research, most recent one a gable 16 x 20 feet. Now, however, a contractor who is doing a new roof convinced us that OSB is just as good and a LOT cheaper. I know, I know-- it looks like particle board and I cannot believe it will not dematerialize in short order. We shall see.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 05/19/07 23:47:07 EDT

Bruce: I've built a number of buildings, both frame and masonry. Both have their good and bad points. The common thread is always the roof. Any structure is only as good as the foundation and roof, for the same reason; water. Water damages buildings more than anything else except fire.

In my area, we worry about hurricanes. Thus, we would never use 1" lumber for purlins. 2x4s set 16" on centers make fine purlins for Galvalume roofing, and allow the use of heavy enough screws to ensure retention under severe wind loads. I sincerely recommend that you sheathe the roof before you apply the purlins and Galvalume. Without sheathing, you roof will be depending entirely on the metal for rack strength. With no interior walls, your envelope will not provide rack strength for the roof. The cost of twenty sheets of 3/4" OSB or even plywood is cheap insurance against loss due to hurricane.

When designing your wall to floor/foundation connections, take into account uplift from high wind as well as possible seismic events. You want steel strapping from the rim joists running at least 16" up the studs at corners and doorways. Check out the Simpson Strong-Tie catalogue for appropriate hardware.

Do NOT scrimp on fasteners! Spend the money for a pneumatic nail gun that will shoot from 2" t 3-1/2" nails. You'll thank me for that, believe me. I like Porter Cable nail guns, but others are good, too. Use LOTS of fasteners, and use them in appropriate ways for their design. Don;t use screws iin shear, and don't use nails in withdrawal if you can avoid it. Usually you can't, but try anyway.

If using screws, use only ceramic coated ones. Forget the galvanized ones; most of the galv is stripped off in the driving operationand they are weaker by far. In most cases, nails are really better and you just use more of them. especially when you drive them as fast as you can pull the trigger.

For applying sheathing to roof or walls, use liberal beads of PL-500 or equivalent construction adhesive, then nail it off like you didn't use the glue. More cheap insurance. I've built three frame houses that withstood category 4 hurricanes that way.

I'd pour a slab and build on that, rather than go with the pilings, sleepers and rim joists. Flat concrete is pretty cheap to do, and easier to build on. ALso easier to move equipment on. Also stronger to anchor a building to. Bettere all around, in fact. A building the size you're talking about would only take about 8 yards of mud at 4" thick slab or 12 yards at 6". Poured on compacted soil, you can get away with using 6-6-10 remesh everywhere except at the perimeter where you need anchor bolts for bottom plates. There's ou'll want to use some #5 rebar to increase the cone of expansion on the anchors. If you absolutely must, you can still dump a truckload of sand on top of the concrete to simulate a beach. (grin)

Personally, I'd use 2x6s for the framing, rather than 2x4s. Your choice, as either wil work. 2x6 allows more room for insulation, shelves between studs, etc.

If you're going to frame sections on the ground and then tilt up, go ahead and sheathe them on the ground, too. Sheathe right over any openings and then open them up afterward with a chainsaw or sawzall. Faster that way and less waste due to miscalculations.

That's what comes to mind right off. If I think ofmore, I'll post it. You're gonna be sorry you ever asked, I'll bet.

vicopper - Sunday, 05/20/07 01:25:47 EDT

New Shop:
Those are STEEP trusses (26 x 13). That makes them old classic 12/12 pitch or 45 degrees. Great height, great ventilation, great fun (HA HA) to work on.

It sounds to me and probably from the age of them that you may lose the barn not to far in the future. I would try to plan on as much new space as possible. STRETCH everything as large as you can go. The 8 foot side walls are too short to add nice high sheds to the sides. If you start at 10 foot then the outer edges of a shed roof can be 8 feet. IF you go higher you can have windows above the shed roof to let in light. Plan for expansion.

Those big roof trusses sound like they would support a lot more than just a roof. I would attach steel plates that could then be attached to a piece of steel beam for a monorail. It REALLY helps to have some way to unload heavy things. In Paw-Paw's shop the structure just barely supports itself. A hoist cannot safely be attached. So I am looking at expensive (to buy OR build) gantry cranes. I KNOW a fork lift is in my future but this will only load one end of a move. . . . I need a 4,000 pound minimum gantry (based on price) but I think my shaper weighs more than that. . . We unloaded it using two 2 ton hoists.

Lifting and hoisting is another reason to raise the roof higher. A monorail takes up 10 to 12". The trolley under it takes another 10". The hoist if directly attached takes 2 to 3 FEET. That is a total loss of overhead of almost 4 to 5 feet. Then you put what you are lifting in a pickup truck 3 feet off the ground. Hmmmmmm now you have ZERO or negative space for the load at 8 feet. I occasionally find it difficult to get short loads out of a flat bed (52" off ground) with 16 feet overhead.

The more height you have the better the ventilation and the more comfortable the shop. Think of those nice barns.. . .

OR you can put in a loading dock but I do not think your site has a sufficient natural hillside for this purpose. With a dock you can at least skid loads off a truck. .

Other planning options. . . Conduits, lots of them for power wires, phone and cable wires, water. At Paw-paws they dug deep ditches everywhere and burred conduits. . but no extras. We need to run phone lines to the shop. . . There are now graded and planted gardens, driveways. . and just as important, no money for big projects now. The lot is also criss crossed by power, phone and water lines. . not all going to the right places. Plan for change and additions. Pipe is cheap, ditches are expensive, cutting wires and pipes digging new ditches is even more expensive.

More planning ahead. . . A big roof produces a lot of water run off. Where is it going to go? I have also found that gutters are the worst invention there ever was. Plan on drainage ditches with drain tiles. This is very important on the up hill side of buildings where water is already running toward the building.

We had to put in a bunch of drain tiles on the uphill side of the house to keep water out of the crawl space. Three 20" drain tiles under a terraced garden and two area drains easily overload the fourth 4" pipe that they run into. They needed a 6" collector at least. The local supplier we got the pipe from does not stock it. . OR fittings.

Lots of details besides the shell construction.

- guru - Sunday, 05/20/07 10:02:02 EDT

Bruce's building: Bruce, I don't know you local soil type, but a poured slab as Vicopper suggested would be my choice if feasable. As Rich notes rolling stuff is super easy compared to pavers, easier to anchor to, and an easy weekend job with the right help. And you can use the form boards for framing lumber after they are stripped. If you have somewhat spongy soil, I would go for the 6" slab, and use the mesh and rebar as Rich suggests. If really spongy, get the crete with fibers. I would use a double layer of the mesh where ever I suspected extra load.
I do not face hurricanes or even himicanes, but tornados are a reality here. I have built several pole barn shops, and even with high winds from near misses of tornados, they did not suffer. I do use diagonal braces on the corners, and in the truces. I use comercial truces, of the 24' span type as three men can place them on the beams and swing them upright. A trick that helps a small crew with trusses and strenghtens the building is to put the gable end poles in tall enought to reach above the peak. Then place the outside gable trusses outside of the poles and spike in.Trim to lenght, leavin pole as high as possible. Then the next truss has a good anchor point, and the truss system has a better resistance to racking or laying over. Use pole barn spikes to nail the beams etc to the treated wood. These are heattreated so safety glasses are a must. The unique annualar ring grooving really grips in the wood and is basically impossible to pull out. Devil to drive but secure. Takes a 20 to 22oz hammer.
I use 2x4 purlins on 4' centers, pole barn spiked to the trusses. I use trusses on 4' centers, but I don't face them 'cane storms that last for days. We get sudden sharp, fierce storms.
To tie to the pilings if you go that way, I would gut a notch in the top of the piling,and through bolt the post on. But then I would not use the pilings and instead use treated 4x6 posts in a single uncut lenght. I do use 6x6 for the corners and the big door openings as they resist the wind better and seem to warp less. And no joint is a good deal more secure. Dig the post holes, pour in dry concrete about 6" deep, set the pole in the hole and then pour in more dry crete, filling the hole. You already have strings set to lay out the shop, and you get the poles square, plumb and to the string line and then put a cap of clay on top and tamp to hold the pole. Next day the crete is stiff from ground water. After the crete is stiff enough, place the bottom nailer as below, after scrapping off the clay.
My method is to set all the posts. I then use a teated 2x8 for the bottom nailer for the siding, but first nail on with double headed nails and use that for the concrete forms. Once the concrete is poured, I strip, and raise the bottom nailer to have about 2" overlap on the floor and then use 2x4 for nailers up to the beams. The beams are 2x10s one on the inside and 1 on the outside of the post. The trusses are set upon the beams. Here we go for 8' on center for the posts, with every other truss sitting next to and spiked to a post. In a 'cane area I would go for posts on 4' centers and the trusses spiked to the posts and the beams. I would use lots of corner bracing of 2x4s. I would screw the tin down.
In a humid environment, plastic under the slab is a Godsend, and a couple of small oscillating fans running 24-7 stops almost all the condensation.
If money allows, a good sized vent in a gable, to allow a fan to exhaust smoke is always good. In the 'cane environment I would have a good storm shutter system for the vent as well as the windows as well. All the latest stuff I have seen on surviving 'canes says basically if the building is built well, strapped together, then keeping the wind out by haveing the windows and doors stay intact is the second best defense.
Good luck
ptree - Sunday, 05/20/07 10:19:24 EDT

Cheap construction:
Befor he died Paw-Paw built as big a shop as he could afford using the cheapest possible construction. It was light steel carport framing and thin steel and plastic sheathing. On the surface it looks good. But only 2 years later it has some significant problems. In the wind the building pops and creaks. One end wall is buckling in the wind and the light steel framing has fatigued where the screw joints are all in one line. The whole wall is going to need to be framed over top of the existing framing using joints that alternate with the current line of joints that is buckling.

The concrete floor was poured by amatures and was over wet when a broom finish was applied. The result is a very dusty floor that is going to require expensive remediation to fix. Simple sealing will not fix this. It will require a heavy repair topping (epoxy or other synthetic type).

And even though the building has fairly high ceilings and is completely open at one end there is not enough ventilation. Heat from the tin roof radiates down like a giant torch. Alternately the steel roof and framing attract a lot of condensation and it rains in long srtipes in the building at the joints of the longitudinally corrugated tin. Gutters added on as an after thought (because the water runs toward the door) do not work.

This construction method works for small open car ports but is a waste of money in a larger building. Tin roofed buildings without sheathing need very good ventilation. This one needs at least 6 large turbine ventilators.

Some planning and thought would have helped this structure. But it would still be a uncomfortable and of limited use. This will be the first building to go in high winds or a heavy snow. . .
- guru - Sunday, 05/20/07 11:16:19 EDT

More Construction advice: Everything that Jock and Jeff said, I agree with. LOTS of conduuit, never ever smaller than 3/4". PVC is cheap compared to the apin in the butt of ree-doing it later. I double all conduit runs, and I leave stout nylon pulling cord in all of them, even when I think I'm finished with all the wires I'll ever need. Later on, when you need just one more home run,it's a godsend to open the box and find that piece of string already there waiting to be used. My rule of thumb is to add 150% extra electrical conduit runs and double the water runs as well. I have never been sorry that I did. Particularly with runs under or through concrete or closed walls. Easy to do now, a real fourteen-karat six-ply bitch to do later on.

RULE: Triangles are strong, rectangles are weak. Use lots of diagonal bracing, in other words. Racking destroys buildings very quickly, and makes setting doors and windows a nightmare.

If you're set on using spiked timber construction, go out and buy a Vaughan 26 or 32 ounce rigging axe. You're a blacksmith; you can handle a hammer that heavy, and those things are the way to fly when doing timber framing. You don't pull nails, you chop them off. You don't finesse laps, you saw and then split with the axe. You'll be surprised how quickly you get good with it.

If you pour a slab, put some floor sockets in it at reasonnable locations that you might want later for post vises, towers, etc. make them so they'll accept a 4" square tube. If you set 6" tube sockets, you can drop 4" tube in them and firm it up with dry sand in the void. No wiggles that way, but you can remove the sand with a vacuum and get the post back out later if you want. Same with electrical conduit. Drop some in the floor to be used later. You'll thank me for that in a couple of years. (grin)

When you sheathe the outer walls, bring the sheathing down far enough to fasten securely to your rim joist and up high enough to cover your double top plate. If you have no rafter tails overhanging, thensheathe right up to the bottom purlin. OSB sheathing or plywood makes a damn effective hurricane tie if you nail it off at 6" on centers on all seams and it runs from the bottom to the top. You should still use the full complement of hurricane clips and tie straps, of course.

REMEMBER: In a few years you're going to retire from the feds and spend a lot more time in that shop. Plan for that. Suffer now, eat red beans and rice, so you can build beter for that retirement. Guess how I know that?

N.B.: When it comes time to get down to the actual work, give me a couple or three weeks notice and I might posssibly fly up and help out for a week or two, if you feed me well.
vicopper - Sunday, 05/20/07 11:17:26 EDT

Making rings: Is there a relationship to material dia to a finished ring diameter? 1" dia material forged into a ring 4" in diameter. 1" dia. into a ring 3" in diameter.
I would agree that the larger the finished diameter of the ring the easier it would be done. Does it ever reach a point where the material diameter effects the finished size of the ring?
Thank you, Ben
Ben - Sunday, 05/20/07 13:14:18 EDT

Bruce, Barn raising? The Amish still do it around here. They have all the big posts and beams cut and mottised and tenoned and then all that is required is a crew to assemble and tilt up.
Another advantage of the concrete floor is that you can build your walls if doing tilt up on a flat surface. Of course if post and beam, no biggie.
A neighbor and I singlehandly built a 24' x 48' shop with 12 foot eaves in a summer. We did have help with the contrete floor. The rest we did including the forest that happened to be in the way.
I built my 24 by 32 pole barn nearly singlehanded. Help of 2 for the floor, and 2 for the trusses. I set 24' long 6x6s but i was in better shape then.
Build with some decent eave height. I built at 10' and would like 12". I have a lean to on a lean to on a lean to. Luck for me I built at the top of the hill and keep going down hill. That one gable is now about at 70'. You ought to see the water off it in a heavy rain.
In my bottom lean to, now enclosed i have my dirt floor blacksmith shop. I cured 90% of my condensation problem with a small 14" fan insiode to stir the air. I do not get the indoor rain, and everything is showing less condensation, and considering that we are often at 90% relative humidity that ain't bad.
They have a 5' wide roll insulation, vinyl backed that many roll out over the roof purlins before affixing the tin, and that is worth it's weight in gold at preventing condensation, holding in the heat in the winteretc. Another benefit is that it deadens the noise in a rain or hail storm. I have ended up with hearing protection to deaden the noise in a heavy rain:)
ptree - Sunday, 05/20/07 13:27:33 EDT

Rings: Ben,

A 1-1/2" OD ring in 1" stock would be a little tough (grin). I've made rings with the ID equal to the stock diameter without too much trouble. I'd think you could get down pretty close to a zero ID, if you didn't mind a fair amount of distortion in the ring cross-section.
Mike BR - Sunday, 05/20/07 14:22:58 EDT

Rings. . more . . . :
When calculating the needed material for the ring you add 1.66 to 2x the diameter to the length at the centerline of the theoretical circle of the desired length. SO the larger the stock diameter the longer the starting piece.

The "closed torus" Mike describes is tough to bend but can be pulled in a longer than needed bar or by coiling and closing the coils, the ends cut off and the part closed. It would be easier to forge this shape from a biscuit using special pointed punches to make the non-hole.
- guru - Sunday, 05/20/07 17:37:01 EDT

Barn ans Shop raising: If you have a lot of friends. . .

I built much of the framing of my shop (you've seen it Bruce) alone. It is 28 x 44. I had the poles set, the second floor deck framed and the high side scaffolding in place when I hired a teen age helper. Of course I was much younger then, 25.

I built heavy duty attached scaffolding along the sides for installing the trusses. These were lifted by hand and with ropes form the ground below the eves some 24 feet. A second floor mezzanine helped reduce the total open lift. THIS required a lot of man power and I had help from all my friends, a brother and the employee.

Like many group projects not everything went smoothly. At the floor level the buildings concrete pad is square to within 1/32". But at the 16 foot eves one side i9nched in with every truss that was set until at the front the building was 2" narrower than it was supposed to be. I was on the ground at the front, and sides supervising, running nails and such and measuring the overhang got lost in all the excitement.

You cannot see this small error from inside or outside the shop but it is there. It could have been much worse.

This shop was built on a heavy concrete pad. I formed it up and set the rebar and wire. I paid a professional crew to pour and finish the floor to a smooth finish. It was money well spent. I poured and finished some smaller parts and they are typical amateur concrete.

This was a modified post building construction with 6x6 columns. They were all bolted to the floor with heavy welded steel brackets made from a piece of 3/8" plate and a piece of 4" heavy angle iron a foot long. This building was designed to take floods as well as tornadic winds. It was built MY way and much too expensive and slow.

You want a fast efficient building, use concrete block walls. While the block is expensive the labor is cheap since the raising usually only takes a day or two. Set your trusses and you are ready to go.
- guru - Sunday, 05/20/07 18:05:09 EDT

Concrete block: Boy, do I ever wish I could find just one real, honest to God block layer around here. I'd havemky shop extension done in record time. In the States, a decent mason willlay 300+ block in a day, with a helper and a hoddie. Down here, the so-called masons can manage a hundred block with three helpers. I could do that. Instead, I do it all myself and I manage about fifty block a day, but they are plumb, planar and all the head joints are properly buttered. You wouldn't want to see the crap they do, figuring that it will be parged later. I lay mine nicely,because I will not do parging for any amount of money.

Down here, block is about $1.40 ea for 8x8x16's. That's pretty cheap, considering when it's set you've got a real wall, assuming you used some steel and dura-wall along the way. Pour a bond beam, set your plates and you're ready to roof. In non-hurricane/tornado country, you can leave out the bond beam, even. I wouldn't, though.

I prefer to do my own concrete flat work, with a helper or two for the heavy work of mucking and screeding. After that, it's just an hour or two with the bull float and then fire up the power float and rock and roll for a couple hours until that thing is shiny enough to eat off of. Well, that's if it doesn't have a heap of conduit sticking up all over, and drains, and anchors, and other impediments to fun. Still, flat work isn't that tricky, just sweaty.
vicopper - Sunday, 05/20/07 20:52:18 EDT

Block Work:
In Costa Rica they work pretty fast due to needing to finish many jobs in the dry season. However, they do parge most block work and do an excellent job.

The problems I see that often slow things down is that everything is done by hand and scaffolding is rare. On many job sites all the concrete and mortar is mixed by hand, block is unloaded and stacked by hand and hauled to the mason entirely by hand. Even though labor is relatively cheap the masons are usually sub contractors (as they are here in the states) and helpers cost proportionaly as much to him as they do here. But handy dandy labor saving machinery such as we have here is much rarer.

In the US there is at a minimum a Bobcat and a small mortar mixer to support a couple masons. On large jobs they have an all terain lift truck and place brick and block as near to where it is going to be used as possible including on the scaffolding. Here we call almost any construction supply and the blcok are delivered on a special truck that carried the block AND a specialized lift truck that can place your block almost anywhere. For those that don't have the machinery it gets them CLOSE to big contractor efficiency.

Even though they use a LOT of concrete in Costa Rica in most of the country there is no such thing as ordering a mixer truck load. . . In the central valley where most of the population is they have them but elsewhere in the country they are unheard of. When you see a small portable mixer at a job site in the rural areas you know it is a big well financed job. . . Its a different world.
- guru - Monday, 05/21/07 07:40:13 EDT

Further Considerations: First I want to thank y’all for your continued help and advice. I knew this would be the place to learn the ins-and-outs before embarking upon a “learning experience.” I have already decided to expand to 24’ X 28’ just so everything comes out even on 4’ intervals.

The “Old Barn”

We have applied to the state of Maryland Historic Preservation Commission for a matching grant; this may provide a total (with our money) of $4,000 to stabilize the barn. Of course, if this fails to come through, there’s another consideration which is to try to use what we have on hand to keep it from falling down. Putting the forge in the barn is the last consideration for a number of reasons, not the least being that the barn would have fire safety problems, smokestack problems, layout problems, historic preservation problems (if we miss the grant this year, we may go for it next year, so we don’t want to badly alter the barn, or burn it down). The best thing about the barn, in relation to the forge, is that it will give me a temporary, not very secure, area to store all of my gear should the new owners terminate my “tenancy at sufferance” after we move out of Oakley House to Grey Havens. Once the new forge building is in place it will make a great area for boat work, storage, carpentry, Camp Fenby events, and History Channel filmings (which don’t pay that much, that often, but anything helps with the taxes).


Whatever rolled off the Appalachians or was kicked up from the South Chesapeake Meteor Crater*, that’s our soil. Mostly loam, sand, and some lenses of clay, with layers of cobbles and gravel from about 18,000 years ago when the streams ran a lot faster. Slab foundations are not unknown here but basements, between the swamp and the river, are right out.


It might be possible to have a local contractor pour the footings, at which point I could take it from there, IF I had any experience with masonry besides laying sidewalks back in college (“…in the ‘60s, man!”) I’m always wary when I think to myself: “How hard can it be?” Having observed the time and care that the masonry people put into the new house, I am somewhat reluctant to proceed beyond my personal skill set.

One of our crew at the ship work-session Saturday mentioned a method in which the blocks were piled dry and a fibrous coating or cement was used on both sides to bind it all together from the outside. To me this sounds like a method that would only be practical for small structures in geologically stable, low-wind-load areas. Anybody familiar with it?


Unless I win the Powerball (2 tickets a week, the $2 being designated my “Alternative Federal Retirement Plan” ;-), $6,000 is about it for the budget, not including running in the electricity. Considering that the purchase cost of my tools and equipment is about $2,000, I actually have trouble justifying more, and the budget just isn’t there. (That is, of course, not the replacement value, which is probably around $6,000+. I may not be as good at bargains as Master Thomas; but I’ve kept my eye out over the years, plus folks in the blacksmithing community have also always been both helpful and generous.)

Estimates from the builders who bid on the barn restoration have either been “in the mail”, non-existent (not even “in the mail”), suspended due to major health issues, or $~16,000 for the deluxe version.

Wind Loads:

I was planning a number of angle braces for the walls, corners and rafters, based on medieval and local practice. Tornadoes and microbursts are occasional visitors, 60-90 knot squalls are a summertime event (equally amusing ashore or on the water!), and from time to time hurricanes will wander up the East Coast and usually brush by. On a 10 to 20 year basis, they will smash there way up the bay; and even though they are somewhat moderated by the topography both Hazel (1954) and Isabel (2003) did a lot of damage locally.


Okay guys; I’m pretty much a duffer. I have a lot of experience, book learning and research applicable to an early medieval infrastructure on the micro scale, and on the macro scale I tell contractors what the government wants, and use a team of architects and the expertise of some very talented individuals to make sure that the government gets what it needs at a fair price while I make occasional visits with the team to keep them worried. (I play “the suit from Washington” and exercise the creative scowl, the skeptical eyebrow, and the “stupid question” that needs to be asked because we have found that we cannot make assumptions when dealing with Government contracts.) As Dirty Harry Callahan said: “A man should know his limitations.” All of your suggestions are valued, but I really have to trim my sails by what my capabilities (and those of my friends) and budget can sustain. Still, if I come into extra funding or the closing on the new house goes more gently than we fear, I can then trim my sails according to the current wind.

Thank you all, once again, for you continued help and suggestions.

* The Chesapeake Bay Crater is buried 300–500 meters beneath the lower part of the Chesapeake Bay and its surrounding peninsulas. This impact crater was formed by a bolide that impacted the eastern shore of North America about 35.5 million years ago. Chesapeake Bay Crater is one of the best-preserved marine impact craters, and the second largest impact crater in the U.S. The entire circular crater is about 85 km in diameter and 1.3 km deep, an area twice the size of Rhode Island, and nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 05/21/07 11:00:16 EDT

Block Bond:
This is a system used to dry lay blocks and parge the surfaces with a hard fiberglass reinforced parge.
- guru - Monday, 05/21/07 18:05:13 EDT

Dry stack block: I read a series of tests done on block walls stacked dry then parged with reinforced plaster. The studies showed the wallls to have the same inpact resistance as regular mortared block, without the cells filled or reinforcing bar or wire added.

The parging was done in two llifts of 1/2" each, using normal sand/cement plaster with polyester fiber (shredded plastic Coke bottles) added at a rate of about one pound of fiber for every 1/4 yard of mud.

In an area without seismic or wind considerations, it could work. Would I do it, even in such an area? No way. Do it the right way, and THEN use the reinforced parging. I like a belt and suspenders when it concerns the roof over my head.

vicopper - Monday, 05/21/07 20:34:01 EDT

peter renzetti auction(arden forge): Did anyone here make it to the arden forge/peter renzetti auction?
- Sean - Monday, 05/21/07 20:58:35 EDT

Renzetti Auction: Dave Hammer from "across the street" went, came home with a pretty old anvil, pics posted. Another friend of Mine went, I heard He spent pretty much for not a lot of stuff,havn't spoken to Him Myself yet.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/22/07 00:00:59 EDT

Slab & Block: Finishing a slab isn't rocket science, but You don't have much time to learn before the stuff gets hard. If You don't have friends with the tools & skills You should probably hire that out. When My dad did the woodshop floor [22'x42'] He hired some of the guys He worked with, and used the company vibrator and bull float [if that float was ours, I havn't found it yet] It kept 4 or 5 of them buisy. I might add this wasn't just a slab on the ground, it was over an old in ground pool and the slab had beams formed and poured integral with it, complicating things some.
I have seen low grade "West Indian Quality" block work as described by VIcopper, in the Bahamas, it is really poor. Code there requires the bond beam, but reinforced pillars at corners, doorways and periodically along the wall to tie the bond beam and slab together. Block made of crushed coral as it is in the Bahamas is not as strong as what We are used to here.
Having experienced a microburst first hand out on the bay, laying My 25000# 43' sailboat over on it's beam end with just the main sail up I would surely use sufficient means to tie everything together. Conventional garage doors are a weak link, in huricane areas the pressure wave from a stove in garage door often blows the building apart. USE HURICANE RATED DOORS.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/22/07 00:50:08 EDT

Stacked Block:
All the articles I have seen using it wer using block much heavier than normal. Where 6" or 8" block would be used they use 10" and 12". This in itself does a lot as the mortar joints in block walls do not do a lot. I have also seen a lot of conventional walls built without the reinforced bonding courses every so often as required. . bad practice but one way that many jobs get done in a day rather than three.

While looking for the mortarless bonding system I came across several other "alternative" construction methods. One was the ancient rammed earth. However, it seems the secret to these systems is the wall thickness. Properly parged straw bale houses are supposed to be better than common wood framing.

I have applied the Quickbond parge as water proofing and it goes on very smooth and I thought easily since I had little experience. It made a very hard smooth and indeed, water proof surface.

I build everything much better than the "code" requires. We see buildings on the news every day that have failed when they should not have. The church that collapsed this spring with 1" of ice on the roof. . . That is only 5.2 pounds per square foot (of a rigid substance no less). Minimum roof loads are supposed to be 20 PSF for non-dwelling structures. . . The cheapest garage structures 10 PCF. So when a commercial building that is used to house hundreds of people collapses at half the load design of a garden shed. . . someone should go to jail. I suspect there would have been a big inquiry if people had been in the building and killed. But there should have been an inquiry none the less. Hopefully there was. . the News rarely follows up on such things.

- guru - Tuesday, 05/22/07 08:02:27 EDT

Building Code: I am building a 16X24 2-story storage shed with permits and inspections. This includes a monolithic footer/slab, hurricane strapping, sheathing and all. I took whatever the inspector said I needed for a particular item and went up atleast 1 size. Probably cost me less than 5% but I suspect I have a much better building. The inspector told me I only needed 4 inches of footer thickness, 16" wide under my 4" slab. I have 13-15" of footer thickness which here in NC is by code good for atleast a 2 maybe 3 story home. Of course we have no real freeze-thaw by Raleigh.
juterbock - Tuesday, 05/22/07 11:32:17 EDT

I've always wanted a stone shop; when my wife asked me how large the stones would be I said "what stones?"---I wanted just 1 stone and carve the shop from that...

My current shop was built by a local builder whose claim to fame was that all his structures were still standing and we often get high winds out here "You can tell when it's spring in NM by when the neighbor's congrete blocks start blowing into your yard".

My shop has 4 steel trusses instead of 3 that would be "standard" for the area and the roll up doors are heavier guage than "normal" as well. However it still won't do any good when the Socorro magma bubble decides to come up and play---anybody looked into volcano insurance for your shop?

Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/22/07 12:21:27 EDT

Appreciate the info.
I had been trying to hammer the 1
- Ben - Tuesday, 05/22/07 20:22:25 EDT

Ring, Thank you: Appreciate the info.
I had been trying to hammer the 1" diameter stock over the horn to get a 4" od, was getting there but it was slow. Took the advice and twisted the material around a 2" stub with a cheater bar so it looked like a coil spring and then cut the needed # of pcs off and closed them up. Took longer to type this than to get it done.
Again Thank You for your help.
Kindest regards,
- Ben - Tuesday, 05/22/07 20:23:26 EDT

ReNzetti Auction: I scored two nail headers for 50 bucks price was a little high but i put them to imediate use and am happy with them.....i only stayed for a few hours on the first day and i thought everything was a little high priced... renzetti kept all the good stuff for his home forge!
- coolhand - Wednesday, 05/23/07 17:50:46 EDT

Hot Stock Classifieds: I just received some spam(419 fraud) as a reply to something I posted in the Hot Stock Classifieds.

If you receive any e-mails offering money,or asking to store money,etc,ignore them,or forward them to: or
- Chris - Wednesday, 05/23/07 22:17:44 EDT

Thomas P Shop: Hey Thomas, you should think of moving to Bedrock. Maybe Fred or Barny's house would be for sale.
JohnW - Thursday, 05/24/07 09:23:58 EDT

renzetti auction: Dave and cool,
thanks. At least I wasnt the only one who thought the stuff was going a bit high. Lucked out the second day picking up a toolbox with a large hot cut hardy, 2 tiny stake anvils , and a small pair of tongs for $2. Picked up a bunch of rivets, a nice old steel 3x5 card cabinet with about 24 drawers( works great in the shop), and a homemade foot vise , and some steel amongst other small stuff. If you saw a guy with a flag bandana on his head, that was me.

- Sean - Thursday, 05/24/07 12:10:48 EDT

Post vise mount: Yeah We do the Renn faire circuit too... What we did was take an old RR tie plate turn it over and put legs on it like a portable pipe vise. Works a treat! the legs are spread enough to give it stability when twisting. packs up pretty small too...and the Plate was big enough to mount our small handcranked grinder and drill press to it also.
- Trahern - Thursday, 05/24/07 19:12:34 EDT

What is a fair price for a post leg vise? Are the new European models any good?
- Copper - Thursday, 05/24/07 20:25:02 EDT

Copper, In the US used leg vises sell from $50 to $250 depending on size, condition and location. $135 has been a common price for a number of years at tailgate sales, less at flea markets. Ebay prices have been nuts lately and I think only the inexperienced buyers are paying $5/lb for them.

Note that despite common usage these old vices were sold by the WEIGHT not jaw size. They were available in 5 and 10 pound increments. The jaw sizes did not always change with the weight and varied from manufacturer to manufacturer. They were a common commodity item thus weight was the critical point.

The most common leg vices are from 30 to 45 pound. If in good condition they are a very good vice for any shop. Over 65 pounds the price starts to climb and the really heavy vices are rare and often sell quite high. Every part on the old vices were scaled up with the size.

The NEW vices are well made but some do not follow the old patterns and have much wider jaws for their weight than I think they should. But the amazing thing is that they ARE available new and this takes a lot of the gamble out of buying a vice.

I once bought an old vice that was chewed up but the crew appeared to be good. You could tighten it up (leaning on it) and it worked fine. later I put that screw and nut into another vise body that was in good condition and had all the parts. The vise worked fine UNTIL I tried to tighten the screw on a piece of 1/2" stock. The screw slipped! At 1/2" to 1" the nut and screw were work to where they slipped. Everywhere else they SEEMED to work but were probably close to failure. SO. . just because it all looks to be there, it CAN be screwed up.
- guru - Friday, 05/25/07 10:38:48 EDT

More. .
Vice FAQ
- guru - Friday, 05/25/07 10:40:03 EDT

Post vises: Generally ive seen post vises at flea markets for $90(small lightweight ones) on up. If it has a large jaw width and is heavy the price skyrockets. The best place to get them is at auctions(not ebay). I got lucky with my 7" wide 150+ lb one and got it $35. True it has some saddle wear but i love it. Considering the only new leg vise ive seen is $500 its worth picking up an old one(or two or three, its good to have several).

- Sean - Friday, 05/25/07 12:10:32 EDT

Post vise prices:
In general they are selling for less than what any good new vice of any kind (bench, machinists OR leg) sell for. They still seem top be plentiful but it cannot last and prices will eventually sky rocket like it has on anvils.
- guru - Friday, 05/25/07 14:19:10 EDT

shop building: Just a note for shop building. I had a local builder build mine 3 years ago out of metal trusses and coragated steel siding it has a 8 inch thick concrete floor full insulation with overhead door and sky lights at the top of 11 ft walls. I have my business in there here on the farm which is a metal fab and blacksmith shop. the only thing I wish I had done was lined the inside walls with the metal I used on the outside. But its not been a big problem as far as burning up the insulation but I have tore some holes in it from not being careful swinging steel around. I run a 3000lb forktruck around it all the time with one ton coils of steel and have not broke the floor yet. With me doing the wireing and plumbing I have less than the cost of a new pickup truck in the building I have 22 grand in it just thought you might want to know this by the way it has survived 2 tornados and a very bad ice storm and a bad hail storm and no leaks nor creaks so far
- kelly - Saturday, 05/26/07 05:22:40 EDT

Steelwork and Hard Work on CalTran Overpass: A really good story on the restoration of the overpass at Oakland's McArthur Maze. A triumph of organization and logistics and plain hard work (the incentives didn't hurt either :-). However, it shows just how interdependent and tenuous the material support for the infrastructure is in the "post industrial" age.

"We are the infrastructure; all that other stuff is just entropy in action." (Uncle Atli's very Thin Book of Wisdom)
SF Gate Story
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 05/26/07 08:42:28 EDT

CalTrans/C.C. Meyers Job: Thanks for sending that, Bruce! Excellent example of government and business actually working together to solve a problem. Helps to restore some faith.
vicopper - Saturday, 05/26/07 12:07:15 EDT

The telling tale is the way steel had to be scrounged from all over the country. In the 1980's there were dozens of plants in the U.S. that had the steel and the capacity to make the beams. One such place was in Lynchburg, Virgina where there was ALSO a steel service center where you could get plate up to 6" without advance notice. These folks had been suppliers that made a high percentage of the World Trade Center structure. The beam fabricator is gone and the service center a shadow of its former self.

Our loss of industrial capacity reduces our ability to respond to major disasters. In small countries bridges are often out for YEARS due to lack of materials and talent. We are not nearly in that bad of condition yet but it is a slippery slope we are headed down.

- guru - Saturday, 05/26/07 14:02:32 EDT

PC Woes. . I finally got my main PC running. Not perfect but it is running. The DVD doesn't work properly. . . sound is delayed, echoes and pops, video jumps and is slow. Very strange. Some kind of DMA error I think or else the DVD is failing (one of the few parts not replaced). I also found that new mother boards do not support 2 floppies and that there are no add-in cards for same that I could find.
- guru - Saturday, 05/26/07 15:02:30 EDT

respirator: Miles- Sorry if this is a little late, but I use a 1/2 face mask made by 3M that is made out of a silicone based rubber that is much more supple and easier to wear for hours on end than the black rubber types. It also is slightly lower profile and flexes enough to fit under my helmet even with weld fume filters on it. I got it at my local industrial supply house and they can order me whatever filters I want. The filters are a twist lock type and are really easy to swap around for whatever I'm doing. Hope this helps.
- Judson Yaggy - Saturday, 05/26/07 16:21:55 EDT

Steel: The beginning of the end of steel production in this country was in the mid 50's. The steel companies in this country were using outdated production equipment,and we had paid to restore the rest of the world's production capacity, Via the Marshall plan. They wanted a tax credit to replace aging equipment, and a bill to do so was vetoed by President Eisenhower. At that, they stated their intentions to use the equipment until it was no longer profitable, and then put their money into other areas of investment. Looks like they weren't kidding.
Loren T. - Saturday, 05/26/07 18:01:37 EDT

Judson-- Many thanks! I just got back from a week-long trip and am still looking for the right respirator.
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 05/27/07 00:28:09 EDT

Respirators: Miles, almost every respirator facepiece is available from the maker in a silicon material. The silicon is more comfortable, and lasts a bit longer. The upcharge is perhaps 50%. In industry, where the move is to disposable or semi-disposable respirators most buy the less expensive. To get the utility and life and value from a respirator, one needs to buy the silicon, but to also do maintenance. The respirator should be cleaned after every use. There are some very handy wipes in packets for this use. Do not use alcohol wipes for this purpose on the plain masks as they degrade the rubber. The respirator should be disassembled and cleaned and sanatized on a regular basis. There are solutions sold for this, but I use antibacterial soft soap, diluted well for this purpose. I disassemble, soak for a bit and use a bit of terry cloth to scrub out the mask interior. Turn the face piece inside out, to get all the nooks and crannies. Rinse well, and let dry inside out. Be careful on dis and reassembly as the check valves are very thin and delicate rubber.
I think keeping the respirator in a tupperware container is the best storage system I have found in the shop. Keeps out the dust and creepy crawlies. Had a spider in my mask once. Learned from that.
ptree - Sunday, 05/27/07 10:41:36 EDT

HIAB: Has eney one split a hiab apart.Mine has siezed and its not the rack and pinion its in the bearings and bushing in the turret.Done evey thing by the book but can,t get the mast to seperate from the base.All good imput would greatly appreciated .Thanks jmac
- jmac - Sunday, 05/27/07 17:44:45 EDT

It,s the swing has siezed
jmac - Sunday, 05/27/07 17:57:35 EDT

ptree-- Many thanks for the rundown. (I keep my respirator in a big coffee can, as I do gloves, muffs, etc. and have for years. I check the helmet before I put it on ever since I found a hatch of baby black widows in it one day. Cute li'l devils.) I called Hagemeyer, left a message, and also Emailed A.O. Safety, have not heard from either. The Willson mask, cartridges and filters I am using were made for welding, grinding, problem is with fit. Test it and it feels tight, but the evidence after working is otherwise. Maybe epoxy, pop rivets are the answer.
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 05/27/07 19:07:36 EDT

respirators: Miles, respirator face pieces come in different sizes, to fit different face sizes. As I remember that you wear large shoes, you may also need a large or x-large face piece. Some folks have great difficulty getting a half face to seal around the nose at all. Full face masks seal on almost everyone, but then if you wear prescription glasses you need the inserts, and that starts to get pretty expensive. If you would give me a e-mail with the size you need I can get a quote for you and e-mail it back. I buy enough stuff that I am getting quotes from them almost daily.
ptree - Sunday, 05/27/07 19:46:41 EDT

Miles, I also saw the harbor freight had the AO Safety Quicklatch on sale at $39.95 with a pair of the big filters. I suspect that you will do better at Hagemeyer.
ptree - Sunday, 05/27/07 19:48:18 EDT

ptree-- thanks again, and for the kind offer and info re: HF. I have the large Willson (half-mask), and would order a large if I get another type. I'll try sticking some silicon caulk around the edges of the mask and see if I get a tighter seal-- I have a LOT of costly cartridges and filters yet unused for this one.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 05/28/07 11:15:19 EDT

Miles, did the current mask use to seal better? The rubber in the face pieces has a definete life.
ptree - Monday, 05/28/07 17:32:37 EDT

ptree-- No, it did not seal noticeably better. When first donned and tested, it always seems fine. And while I can smell the ambient odors of whatever-- burning paint, rod flux, etc. (which detection of said odor I am told means the mask is NOT doing its job)-- I don't notice any crapola getting into the old upper respiratory tract. But by day's end, I would have a sooty smudge on each side of my face just at the edge of the mask. And a chronic cough. Which, of course, could be from all those Luckies, Camels, Philip Morris, Chesterfields, Gitane, Gauloises, Delicados, Tip-Top, Bull Durham, Balkan Sobranie, and other goodies I inhaled from age 9 on. Plus the paint and galvanized breathed in before I got the mask. What happens to the rubber, I find, is it gets all funky from the condensation. Maybe pop rivets or epoxy, macrame or decouppage is the way to go.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 05/28/07 22:00:47 EDT

I somehow blocked out: Sweet Caporal, Picayune the Pride of New Orleans, Home Run, Fatima, Herbert Tareyton, Black Cat, Players, Bugler, duMaurier, Pall Mall, Marlboro, and along with these hundreds and hundreds of sacks and packs, lotsa other carcinogenic and utterly delightful ciggies.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 05/28/07 22:31:35 EDT

Miles: That is a real Duke's Mixture.
- Frank Turley - Monday, 05/28/07 22:43:22 EDT

The guru's one floppy motherboard: Maybe you could use the Floppy connector for the 5 1/4" floppy and use a lap-top style USB floppy drive for 3 1/2" floppies.

Or consolidate your archives of floppies onto hard disk and backup onto CDs or DVDs. Make multiple copies on Memorex media, just to be sure. For reasons unknown, I have had no problems with data loss on Memorex CD-Rs, where I have lost a fair bit of data on other brands.
John Lowther. - Monday, 05/28/07 23:13:08 EDT

Single Floppy and Backups: John, I am looking into that option. The first I looked at were the 7 in 1 USB Floppy/Memory Card readers. . . but those use a USB AND the Floppy controller cable. IOmega makes one but it is not bootable while some USB drives are bootable (my board supports it). However, this is kind of a throw back and only gives you the most limited access on a late PC. . So I could just swap the cable and use the drive where it is and swap it back when I am done.

All my floppies are Memorex (both sizes). I tried buying cheap media (those 39 cent diskettes) and had far too many not format 100%. So I kept to Memorex. However, on CD's I have drawers full of blank non-name disks that I was given. . . and had not thought about their quality.

My goal is to go through all my old 5.25 diskettes, copy any that have the slightest possibility of having useful info into a HD folder and then write backup CD's. THEN dump them. I have also gotten REAL tired of going through the couple dozen 100Mb Zip disks I have. . They would all fit on one CD.

I recently went through a box full of 3.5" disks and copied them all to a folder and copied them to a CD. Took about 5% or less of the CD. .

The good thing that came out of all my rummaging was I found my copy of DesignCAD 2000 Pro (on CD). AND I tested it with Adobe Acrobat and it makes perfect Adobe vector files through the Adobe "printer" that are smaller than the CAD data file. DesignCAD also worked on Win2000 Pro and Windows XP (as well as my original Win 98 machine). So, I am good for making plans and manuals with what I have on hand. Which was my goal for getting back into CAD.
- guru - Monday, 05/28/07 23:43:01 EDT

Its funny how genetics lets one man live and another die an early and painful death. My father smoked filterless Pall-Malls from age 11 until a few years ago. I think he is smoking something filtered now that he is in his eighties. . . He also painted cars in his youth using who knows what solvent and I inherited his penchant for REAL lacquer which we have used for various things for decades. He was also known to use gasoline and carbon tetrachloride to clean parts in the shop and has been exposed to his share of radiation and radioactive isotopes. About the only thing he did not do to his lungs is weld.

Most others are not so lucky. I find it ironic that there are those among us that smoke, drink and don't wear seat belts but worry about a little coal smoke. . . On the other hand, I know several smiths that are real health nuts but the coal smoke in their shops is horrible and they think paper medical masks are good for smoke and grinding dust.
- guru - Tuesday, 05/29/07 00:16:48 EDT

Diss? Approval?: Never heard anyone referred to as "one floppy motherboard".
I like it
- Charlie - Tuesday, 05/29/07 09:04:02 EDT

Yeah, well that's what *I* think. . . hahahahaha

After looking for TOO MANY hours I've decided there is no such thing as a PCI floppy controller. They are mentioned by various authors as possibly being available but never have been as far as I can tell.

I DID find that there are new Pentium boards that have ISA slots. . very expensive industrial PC boards. They have single floppy on-board support. . But old PC-AT ISA cards are available. . .

- guru - Tuesday, 05/29/07 10:02:47 EDT

Frank-- That's one I don't think I ever tried. Oh, well. Next time around.
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 05/29/07 20:39:15 EDT

Recouperative Forge: I am interested in building a recoupertave forge but can not find much literature. Anyone have experiance they would like to share?
- Larry House - Wednesday, 05/30/07 22:56:55 EDT

Check the ABANA plans for the Sandia Labs Recuperative forge designed by Rob Gunter. A lot of work, a lot of expense, for little gain, in my opinion and from what i've heard from users.
vicopper - Wednesday, 05/30/07 23:07:21 EDT

Longship Company Expedition to Norfolk: If any of y'all are in the Norfolk area next week, please feel free to swing on by and say hello. We’re arriving next Thursday afternoon (June 7th) in Norfolk with the Gyrfalcon to participate in Sail Virginia, the tall ships event celebrating Jamestown’s 400th anniversary.

If you plan to come, please contact me and let me know what days and times you intend to be there so that I can keep an eye out for you. NO anvils will be allowed in the faering boat! (However, my eldest daughter is looking for a 70# mankel, so if you just happen to have on laying about...)

So, if you have a desire to visit a world class event with square riggers from all over the world; and if you’re looking for a good time, sailor… Let us know ;-)

Longship Company:

Virginia Medieval Arts Association:

American Sail Training Association:

Longship Company Manual:

Sail Virginia Website
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 05/31/07 08:59:07 EDT

Rich I have heard that the Sandia Forge comes into it's own at high altitudes and is not needed so much at low altitudes---BTW what's the highest natural point where you are at? I don't recal the VI as being very topographically gifted...

Here I had to get the swamp cooler working for my wife before I went on last week's campout where I had a sheet, light wool blanket, 2 heavy wool blankets, a flokati and another medium wool blanket on *top* of me when sleeping and had to get up and put on sweatpants the first night. Amazing what a couple thousand *more* feet of altitude will do!

Thomas P - Thursday, 05/31/07 11:17:04 EDT

ABANA Recuperative Forge Plans:
Note that these are a fairly complicated set of plans and many have complained that they are not very clear. To follow them requires some skill at sheet metal work and obtaining some hard to get expensive materials (when purchased in the necessary minimum quantities). The end result can be a rather expensive forge.

While I think it is a good idea Michael Porter the author of Gas Burners For Forges, Furnaces & Kilns claims they are not needed. He claims that for forge work you do not want too high of temperature and that with the proper burners you can get a high efficiency.

During the ABANA convention at Flagstaff AZ, elevation 7000 feet, normal gas forges performed fine for the demonstrators.

Besides at high altitude I know that in cold weather that the cold incoming air reduces forge temperatures considerably.

Gas Burners for Forges. .
- guru - Thursday, 05/31/07 11:58:21 EDT

Yikes, the cost of scrap!: Stopped by the scrap yard yesterday so the wife could sell some of her aluminum cans (puts the money in the grandkid's savings account), & a few other aluminum parts I'd given her. I was shocked that the small amount of material was fetched 34 dollars. I was even more shocked when I bought some copper guttering someone had sold them.....$2.50/lb! This is sure putting a kink in my "making stuff out of nothing" game plan!
- Mike Sa - Thursday, 05/31/07 13:32:20 EDT

Re-Coup Forge: What I am really hoping for is to draw off some of the dragons breath from the front of the forge. High alt is now an issue here in South Miss, but excess heat in your face is. Figured if I could feed it back into the forge it was better than just blowing it away. I tried to find the Sandia forge on the ABANA site, but could not find even a picture.
Larry - Thursday, 05/31/07 14:22:10 EDT

re-Re-Coup Forge: I don't think feeding the dragons breath back into the forge is going to help. All of(or most of it should be) the oxygen and fuel will be consummed so if you feed that back in it'll be choking the fire. What the recup forges do I think is use the waste heat to preheat the incoming air. But then what do I know? the only gasser in my shop is me...
JimG - Thursday, 05/31/07 14:44:08 EDT

Mike's scrap: IIRC the commodity contract price on aluminum was about $1.25/lb, and copper was well over $3/lb.

I don't know how that translates into reclamation prices, but they are high.

IIRC the beverage industry subsidizes the recycling of aluminum cans, so used Al cans may go for close to the commodity price.

I wonder if the commodity market isn't figuring out that the dollar is really just another fiat currency, and bidding up prices to get rid of 'em.
John Lowther - Thursday, 05/31/07 15:06:45 EDT

Recuperative :
Yep, a recuperative forge or furnace uses a heat exchanger to heat the incoming cold air with the outgoing exhaust. A thin sheet metal (SS) tube passes through the exhaust to heat the air going to the burner. You DO NOT mix the two. If you do you get an excess of carbon monoxide.

The cure for dragon's breath is an air curtain. Just outside the door of the forge you have a slot in the hearth with air provided by a blower. This blows upward and takes the dragon's breath with it. You then need a hood over the forge for the exhaust.

Many folks do not use a hood or stack with gas forges in open air or large shops. However, they are required in some locations and help vent away all that excess heat as well as exhaust.
- guru - Thursday, 05/31/07 15:35:13 EDT

Gettin' high in the VI: Thomas,

If I stand on my ladder, I can get to at least sixty feet above sea level. we have a mountain that reaches over a thousand, but I don't go there. Why risk a nosebleed? (grin)
vicopper - Thursday, 05/31/07 16:15:10 EDT

respirators: Miles, see below



if interested, email me and I will forward the e-mail contact etc.
ptree - Thursday, 05/31/07 21:47:29 EDT

ptree-- Again, many thanks! I appreciate the help.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 06/01/07 10:58:16 EDT

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