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June 2006 Archive

post leg vise: hi, a guy ofered to sell me a post vise, is estamate for weight is 75+ and 5 1/2" jaws. i actually havent seen it so in clude prices for all conditions.

plus i just have to say this, i just got a 4 pound cross peen for FREE! a friend of mine came by today
with a bunch of garage sale stuff and said take your pick before i take it all to the sale and i saw it.
i suspect .45-.50 carbon content.
- Maiers - Friday, 06/01/07 21:59:03 EDT

Vise, sounds like a nice size. Prices vary more by who has it than condition. But $75 to $150 is common for a vise with all the parts and in working condition. If the screw is worn broken or missing it is not a vice but scrap iron. HOWEVER, it probably is wrought iron so don't poo-poo the scrap value.

If the spring and bench bracket are missing then the value is usually HALF of what it would be otherwise for the locale, seller and condition otherwise. But this is up to you. A simple spring can be made of mild steel and a squared U-bolt used to attach the vise to an angle iron bench bracket. Looks tacky on an old vise but is functional.
- guru - Saturday, 06/02/07 16:49:00 EDT

Hammer faces: anybody have any advice on dressing hammer faces

i got a couple of old "barn"hammers in dyer need of dressing

all info greatly appreciated.
- Maiers - Saturday, 06/02/07 18:26:14 EDT

Dressing Hammers: I put a little red hat on one and named it Thomas :) On a more serious note, Frank Turley's description in the Guru's Den today is as good as any, altho for special purposes You can alter the shape. For drawing out, more curvature in 1 plane than the other, for an example. I find a belt sander works well for this job. The idea is You want no abrupt edges that will leave marks in the work.
- Dave Boyer - Saturday, 06/02/07 22:43:48 EDT

Dressing Hammers:
This is more difficult than it may seem. First you must know what a properly dressed hammer looks like. THEN you need an eye for precision lines as you work. AND finally you need the skill with a grinder to do the job.

If the hammers are mearly marked up and rusted then try to clean them up with the same curves they have now. Most OLD hammers other than those that are worn out had well dressed shapes. Those that are worn are usually mushroomed or slump to one side or the other. So look carefully at the hammers and try to determine if they are misshapened or just have a rough surface.

If the hammer is a new undressed MOB Peddinghaus or a misshapened old hammer you have your work cut out for you. The new hammer is straight so that is easier. The used hammer must be straightened first.

IF the surface is slumped or crooked then grind the middle 75% of the face FLAT. Then chamfer the edges equally all around at 45 degrees about 1/8 to 3/16 more or less according to hammer size. This can be done with a belt or angle grinder. Whichever, it should be done with an aggressive grinder. The corners should be left crisp so you can see the accuracy of your grind.

NEVER grind a hammer on a bench grinder. Heavy objects, particularly those heavier than the grinding wheel tend to bounce and break the hard grinding wheel. This can be hazardous to your health.

Now you have a hammer almost like a new undressed hammer. Now you need to crown the center of the face. This can either be directional (a rocker face such as used on most square faced hammers) or spherical as on most round faced hammers. Square bodied hammers with heavy corner chamfers that make an octogon face are round faced hammers.

Crowning is done the easiest with a belt sander but can be done with an angle grinder or even a file.

Crown the hammer so that the center is 1/32 to 1/16" higher than the edges. Then check the edge chamfers and increase them so that only 70 to 75% of the face is unchamfered. IF the hammer is to be round faced the chamfer needs to be circular as if it was machined on the hammer head (many are). If the hammer is square faced then there needs to be four corner chamfers then break the corners about the width of the chamfer. NOW your hammer is almost the same or better than the new undressed hammers.

Now carefully radius those chamfers into the face. This is often best done by grinding flats that split the angle of the chamfer similar to forging square, octogon and round with some steps in between. This keeps your grind true.

Now is when a good belt grinder comes into its own, especially if it has an open section between platens that can conform to the shape you are grinding. Smooth and blend the face into those chamfers until you have a nice rounded edge.

If you have handleless hammers OR hammer that are going to need handles replaced I find it MUCH easier to dress hammer faces without handles. For heavy initial repair grinding you want to clamp the hammer in a vise. But when you are doing the final dress it is better to hold the hammer head in your hand and roll the edges on the stationary grinder. Round faced and ball peen hammers are best done in a lathe.
- guru - Sunday, 06/03/07 08:51:58 EDT

Hammer Dress:
For heavy forging hammers had crowns of nearly 1/8" (3.2mm) and chamfers with flats over double that. The heavier the crown the faster the steel moves but the more marked up the work. When you do not want hammer marks then you want less crown. It is a balance.

Bladesmiths like rocker faced hammers such as the Swedish hammer and Hofi hammer. These have a crown from front to back that moves the metal directionally rather than in all directions. So when forging a blade taper the metal moves out toward the edge more than side to side. This also reduces the curving of the blade.

Primarily the British but a few others have picked up the habit of using a ball peen (machinist's or engineer's hammer). These have a round face that is typically quite flat with nearly sharp corners. For forging they should have more crown and chamfered and radiused corners. The flat face is best for striking punches and chisels.

The peen of the hammer is often overlooked and is much more useful when smoothly dressed. Straight peens are often flat with just barely broken corners. These should be rounded and the corners rounded as well. However, some smiths like using the peen to make textures such as on leaves. In this case the peen may want to be narrowed (sharpened) and then radiused accordingly.

Finally when your hammers are nicely ground you want to polish them with a fine grit material and buff on a wheel using tripoli (or black emery for hard steels). Hammer that are not regularly used should be oiled to prevent rust pitting.
- guru - Sunday, 06/03/07 09:15:47 EDT

Handle and Hammer Day:
This is an idea I put forth several years ago and one we should just put on our calendar.

At least once a year you need to take a day (in the spring) and clean up all your handled tools. This includes new handles or sanding and varnishing old handles. Those that need faces dressed should be done at the same time but if you have a large collection of handled tools this could take a whole separate day.

On Handle day you need to go through ALL your wooden handled tools from hammers to shovels. Those that are loose should be re-wedged, those that are rough should be sanded. I prefer to varnish my handles other prefer oiling them with linseed oil. Which ever you prefer then do all your wood handles.

Due to missuse by others I found myself with about a dozen tightly handled hammers with nicks in the handle near the head from miss-strikes on nails. These I examine for cracks, work glue into the nick and let it dry, dress the nick if it does not look like it has weakened the handle, and then tape over the nick with electrical tape. The nicks are mostly a splinter hazard but should be evaluated and then fixed.

A couple small ball peen hammers that I had bought used had cracked handles. These are hard to find properly fitting handles for and the handles were broken from misuse (too small a hammer or missing the work striking the handle). Since these were very light use hammers (2 and 4 oz) I glued the handles with carpenters glue and tied tight with string. When the glue was dry and string removed I sanded the handles and re-varnished them. THEN I taped over the shank area where they had cracked. The result is perfectly usable little hammers with the OEM handles. I DO NOT recommend this for heavy use hammers like forging hammers.

On handle day I also buy a couple cans of spray paint and repaint low use tools and large surface tools like shovels. When the day is over your shop is full of new looking tools that will be treated better due to LOOKING better. They are also safer to use due to tightness and lack of splinters in the handles.

Don't think you have a day to waste? Hammers (and other handled tools) cost an average of $25 each and some as much as $100. Most smiths have ten or more hammers plus handled chisels, flatters and punches. Add an axe, carpenters hammer and a shovel to the list and you may have over $1000 worth of handled tools in your shop that need attention. One splinter and/or an infection and the lost productivity could more than pay for a fix-up day. One spall from a mushroomed hammer of chisel could cost an eye or serious bleeder.

Chalk it up to safety maintenance that is paid back immediately by good conditioned tools.

- guru - Sunday, 06/03/07 10:08:56 EDT

MY PROCESS - Handle and Hammer Day:
0) PREPARATION: I usually know which tools need new handles. Make a list, order handles. Pick up varnish, some cans of spray paint and sand paper if you don't have some on hand.

1) Gather up ALL the handled tools and evaluate each one.

2) Start on those that need dressing and handles repaired or replaced. I usually know which ones need new handles and have made a list and bought new handles. I also try to keep a few common sizes on hand. If you remove old handles take time to re-dress the hammer as it is easier to do so NOW. Many hammers have sharp corners on the eye holes and I chamfer these lightly with a Dremmel or die grinder. See "Fitting Handles" later.

3) While glue is drying on the first batch start cleaning and sanding or scraping all the rest. This is not a sand until perfect operation. It is sand to remove roughness and splinters or until good enough. Greasy or muddy tools need cleaning, rusty tools need wire brushing.

4) Spray paint the heads or working parts of low use tools using a fast dry lacquer. Wrap a piece of waste paper around the handle to keep paint off the wood. No tape necessary. I use black paint on common tools, metallic blue on sheet metal tools and orange or red (or what ever is handy) on garden tools.

Some folks may want to color code their tools by type OR make them more visible. I paint my pry bars caterpillar yellow so that I know they are MINE and it makes them easier to use. Some schools or shops color code for each work station so they are easy to sort out. Others color code items such as tongs by size.

Paint wears off tools used every day and these are a wasted effort to paint.

5) Hand rub varnish onto the handles. Those with any old finish or tight wood will only need one coat. Tools that have been out in the weather (shovels) or have coarse wood may need two coats. If you started early in the day you may be able to finish these on day one. Otherwise you may need to take a few minutes tomarrow. Lightly sand or use steel wool between coats.

6) Stand back and enjoy for a moment then put them all away where they belong. Those with bright bare metal should be oiled OR if very low use a thin coat of varnish or lacquer applied to the face.

IF, like many hobby smiths, your hammer collection is composed of $5 flea market specials they are now all worth three or four times that in the used market. You will also have gained in pride of ownership of tools that are better than they were the day before.

IF you have friends nearby and you each don't have huge collections of tools then have a get together and split the cost of varnish and paint. Working with others makes the day go faster. Just don't forget the goal.

- guru - Sunday, 06/03/07 10:25:54 EDT

Re-Handling Hammers:
On common (non-shock mount hammers) the handle needs to be well fitted and normally double wedged (wood and steel). I HATE newly handled flea market hammers because they are usually poorly handled using cheap handles AND the seller thinks they are worth a great deal more. I would prefer the loose (unhandled) hammer head for a lower price.

Step one is to remove the old handle. IF the handle is in mostly good but just worn at the head then plan on saving the handle for re-use on a smaller hammer OR other tool.

To remove the handle it is easiest to saw it off close to the head (to save the handle wood). Then with the hammer supported over a hardy hole, a swage block or over the gap in a vise use a flat ended punch to drive out the stub and wedges. Save the old steel wedges.

Examine the eye hole and dress any burrs or sharp edges with a Dremmel or die grinder.

Next you want to fit the handle. Most should be tight enough that you have to drive them in with considerable force. However, you need to be sure the handle passes through just a bit extra and is tight at the bottom. I use a common bastard file for fitting the wood.

Drive in the handle over a hole similar to removing the old one.

Next you want to fit and drive in a good wood wedge. Most that come with hammers are too soft so I cut mine from a piece of hard wood (such as the large end of an old handle). Look at the handle fit in the eye. You need a little more wedge than open space. Make them about 1/2" longer than needed. A hack saw works well for cutting wedges.

If the slit in the handle is closed too tight then you may need to open it to get the wedge started. I often taper and radius the slit before driving in the handle.

Put carpenters glue in the handle gap and slit and on the wedge. Drive the wedge in until it will go no farther. They usually mushroom and split when good and tight. If the wedge splits and leaves a hole or gap use a small piece of wedge to fill it. Saw the excess wood off nearly flush with the hammer.

Next comes the steel wedge. Sometimes you can recycle old ones. Sometimes they come with handles but often they are lost. For a blacksmith it is easy to forge a wedge and saw it off the bar. Steel wedges are installed at 90 degrees to the wooden wedge. One or two are needed. If you only need one then drive it into the middle of the handle. If your wood wedge was good and hard and forced the rest to fit then you should only need one steel wedge.

Now grind, sand or file the handle and wedges to be flush to the hammer surface. If you oil the end of the handle with a little raw linseed oil it will soak in and make the handle swell tighter.

OCCASIONALLY you run across really loose poorly fitted new handles that can be repaired. This is also a possibility if the hammer has come completely off the handle. If there are gaps to the sides of the eye parallel to the wooden wedge then you want to try to remove the handle and do a complete re-fit. Using a small narrow cold chisel worry out the steel wedge. Then the wooden wedge may be loose enough to remove OR the handle may pull off intact.

Once the handle is off look at where the head shouldered out on the handle. If there is a sharp shoulder where the head cut into the handle smooth it out so that the handle can be driven on farther. Often the improper fit is from too much taper and the the head stopping on the flare of the handle. Reshaping this should let the handle go on farther and fill the eye better.

Check the depth and condition of the wedge slit. If the handle has been shortened by the previous installation the slit may need to be deepened. As noted above you may want to chamfer and radius the top of the wedge slit.

Make a new larger wood wedge and refit the handle as above. The handle may also need a larger steel wedge as well.
- guru - Sunday, 06/03/07 11:28:12 EDT

Hammer Handles: Guru -- your posts look like they should go in the FAQs (unless they're already there and I missed them.
Mike BR - Sunday, 06/03/07 13:36:53 EDT

Working on it. . needs photos and illustrations
- guru - Sunday, 06/03/07 13:56:57 EDT

When I moved I counted all my "wooden handled tools"; turns out I had a few above 150 and this is not counting the ballpeins bought for under US$1 that are stock for hawk making...

I like to re-work hammers on those days when I feel the need to accomplish something but don't have enough time to fire up the forge. So I repair/rehandle a couple of handled tools.

Moving to NM *ALL* of my wooden handled tools had to be reset due to the humidity change and are now being soaked in linseed oil in batches of 4 or 5 at a time after resteeing the handles.

I make a practice of buying good handles when I find them at the fleamarket---often seconds but I look for ones that have the grain running straight from end to end that may have cosmetic issues---especially since I may be reshaping the handle anyway!

I have now started using a spade bit to drill a slight recessed hole in the butt end of the handles to hold my tool colour paint as it doesn't get worn off so fast.

I agree far better to buy less expensive loose heads than to pay for a poorly mounted handle---back in OH I was once trying to get a hammer head for a reasonable price but the guy was complaining about all the expense and work he had done to re-handle it. I pulled the handle out of it by hand and handed it to him and asked how much for just the head? As far as I was concerned his "work and expense" had *lowered* the price as I would have to just do it over anyway.

Thomas P - Sunday, 06/03/07 15:04:42 EDT

handles: thanks for all the info!

im thinking im going to make the handle out of a busted axe handle, and i crowned it yesterday on a belt sander turned out great. me and my pops were looking at it last night and its marked U.S so im pretty happy with it.

also, thomas ive seen the same thing, people just dont practice good tool maintenance anymore. i was talking with a friend about writing a book on tool maintenance, i said "the general public doesnt know how to maintain tools" he said "the general public doesnt know how to USE tools!" . yes, its a sad generation we live in.
- Maiers - Sunday, 06/03/07 16:49:28 EDT

linseed oil: whats the differencebetween raw and boiled linseed oil? i know boiled dries. and do they work for quenching oil?
- Maiers - Sunday, 06/03/07 18:50:53 EDT

Linseed oil, Boiled vs Raw:
Use neither for quenching. Too flammable, too smelly, too messy.

Boiled has solvent and driers added besides being boiled. Raw MAY be pure or not. It takes months to approach something like drying and soaks into wood better than boiled which will dry before soaking in very far.

"Flax seed oil" is generally the pure edible type with no additives. Can be used anywhere "raw" is called for but NOT the other way around. raw is sold for artist's paint and may have additives OR impurities.

- guru - Sunday, 06/03/07 21:49:55 EDT

More Handles: Bad handle jobs by flea marketeers. . . You were lucky the handle pulled off. Most are on just good enough you have to wreck the handle to get them off.

Speaking of which. If you have bought Hofi Hammers there have been times when the handles have been made of poor wood. Big BLU will rehandle them with a first class NC made hickory handle and the correct rubber compound at a reasonable price (plus shipping). If you have two done it will cost you about the same as buying the compound and doing it yourself.
- guru - Sunday, 06/03/07 21:57:48 EDT

Tool Marking Colors:
Often when we get together with others we take our own tools. Then the problem of who's is who's comes up AND finding all of yours in the pile. When I was doing demos I just sprayed a stripe of white paint on the handle. . . But I am not the only one that has picked that color. . .

The next best thing is to pick two colors for a background and a stripe OR two. As long as your friends agree not to use the same color and patterns you are OK. This goes back to the days when archery was an important hunting tool and weapon (or maybe even back to spears). A relatively complicated pattern of colored stripes would identify who's was who's.

While this is not too critical for really personal tools like one's hammer and hand made tools, any factory tools may look like someone else's tools. AND it DOES make them easier to sort.

Years ago my brother in law Roger lived in a house with several other single guys and they ALL had Craftsman mechanics tools. It was not unusual for them to drag an engine or transmission into the kitchen and everyone get out their tools to work on the same project OR have more than one project going at once. While all the tools were identical there WERE differences in wear and tear and who had how many of what. . So one day (probably after an argument about what was who's) Roger bought cans of red, white and blue paint and marked everyone's tools. End of debate.

Test your paint combinations. Lacquer will soften everything else and will react with some and cause boiled surfaces. Varnish can be put over almost anything else that is dry and its compatible to most (slow dry) enamels but not all. The general rule is slow over fast and everything over water base.

- guru - Sunday, 06/03/07 22:20:58 EDT

Tool Colours; the one I saw that was the best was *hot* *pink* the smith said that *nobody* would "accidently" steal their tools...or borrow them.

Thomas P - Monday, 06/04/07 11:57:31 EDT

maybe even make an iron with your initials on it and burn them into you handle.

linseed oil, didnt know it was flamable. i tried to light it and it just cracked and boiled away.
- maiers - Monday, 06/04/07 15:17:21 EDT

That works for some things but not all. Brands do not work on all-metal tools and on small handles you do not want to cut into them as it will weaken them. They also do not jump out from across the shop and say "HEY, DON'T FORGET ME!" And that is what color markings are for.

Eons ago I marked ALL my mechanics tools with an engraver. It works on everything from plastic and glass to hardened steel. It is positive identification but you have to have the tool in your hand and look CLOSE. It can also lead to rust or flaking chrome in a few cases.

- guru - Monday, 06/04/07 16:12:41 EDT

Quite a few of my favorite smithing tools have an inconspicuous marking on them in case I ever need to "retreive" them after a theft. If you are really paranoid engraving *inside* the hammer eye before re-hafting is one that will probably not get removed but the fence...
Thomas P - Monday, 06/04/07 17:30:51 EDT

I gave up many years ago on marking tools for anti-theft. After having a variety of things stolen that were clearly marked, unique or had serial numbers on them I gave up. The only point for most of these markings is to get borrowed tools back from friends and family OR to sort them out when a group gets together.
- guru - Tuesday, 06/05/07 08:27:08 EDT

Well I'm in a small enough area that I know where the items would probably turn up---no money in driving farther away with them these days.

I had an adjustable handle drawknife that went a-walking once that I bought back from the same fleamarket I had bought it from originally several years after it disappeared. I didn't hassle the seller as by then it had probably been through several intermediaries. After the building catty corner across the alley from my shop in OH burned I found several of my tools in one apartment that was now open to view...

Thomas P - Tuesday, 06/05/07 10:20:38 EDT

2007 calendar: OK, as I'm cornpletely cornfused about cornputers most of the time anyway, I need some help in ording one of these calendars. When I clicked on the picture at the home page (the interior of a blacksmith shop), there was a link to an order page & it shows a picture of the calendar, but all of the text for ordering only talks about the 2006 calendar. What am I missing?
- Mike Sa - Tuesday, 06/05/07 13:10:16 EDT

2007 Calendar:
Mike I must have a bad link somewhere. . . The one off our calendar of events page works (below).
2007 Calendar
- guru - Tuesday, 06/05/07 14:26:31 EDT

RATS. . . I updated the photo but not the text. Let me fix it.
- guru - Tuesday, 06/05/07 14:32:54 EDT

Done. . . I had just left the 2006 where it should have said 2007.
- guru - Tuesday, 06/05/07 14:39:19 EDT

CSI Meeting: There is a CSI Board of Directors tonight. Members are invited to sit in and observe. Those who are willing to take some responsibility and put forth some effort are particularly welcome. We can use all the help we can get!
vicopper - Tuesday, 06/05/07 15:45:10 EDT

Marking tools: For years I've marked mic cables with a blue and yellow binary code, so I can tell which is which. (And also which are mine.) I aught to stripe my hammers, wrenches, etc. too.

"There are 10 kinds of people: Those who understand binary and those who don't."
John Lowther - Tuesday, 06/05/07 19:26:21 EDT

Saw a license plate one time that said 1000101. Figured the DMV didn't know binary. At least, I don't *think* they would have issued that plate in arabic numbers. Of course, maybe it stood for a year . . .
Mike BR - Tuesday, 06/05/07 21:09:03 EDT

acorn welding table: Hey Folks
I'm looking to buy an Acorn Welding Table, 4' X 4' or larger, I am located in S.F. Bay Area, California.
- Bart Trickel - Wednesday, 06/06/07 14:17:21 EDT

One modern mathematician postulated that we would have been much better off with 4 fingers toes on our hands and feet. Thus we would be intimately familiar with octal which converts directly to binary and hexadecimal. Binary mathematics would then have been the norm.

Imagine trying to have a technical discussion with someone that worked in octal. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 06/06/07 14:35:31 EDT

Well I've come close to having 9.5 a couple of times...

too close!

Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/06/07 18:23:53 EDT

ThomasP, I too have come close to haveing Octal toes and ingers. Scarry isn't it! One of the reasons I wear The most sexy shoes in the world when forgeing.
Heck even Vicopper flys up to Quad State every year just to get a gander at them. BOG
ptree - Wednesday, 06/06/07 20:09:50 EDT

ive got a 1909 sears and roebuck catalog i was looking through today and found a blacksmithing outfit,it came with a
- maiers - Wednesday, 06/06/07 21:00:22 EDT

4 fingers: I'm just a junior member of the "9 or less club". Clipped about a 3/8 inch from my left thumb a few years ago on an old industrial paper cutter....
- Mike Sa - Wednesday, 06/06/07 22:26:25 EDT

last post: sorry bout me last post somthin got screwed up.
but i found a blacksmith outfit in a 1909 catalog
with every thing you need for 52 bucks , i just thought it was kinda cool. the catalogs got some cool pics of tuyeres and stuff ill see if i cant post them
- maiers - Wednesday, 06/06/07 23:16:29 EDT

Building a Vise: I'm just getting in to forging, and I'm at the stage where a vise like device would be really handy for quite a few things. I live in a relatively remote part of Australia when it comes to blacksmithing supplies, however I have some experience with machining and simple steel fabrication, and it seems to me that it wouldn't be too difficult to piece together a leg vise. It wouldn't be ass efficient as a drop forged model but should work, after all they are quite simple machines.

Has anyone done anything like this before? Any other comments?


Leon - Thursday, 06/07/07 08:23:51 EDT

Jock, didin't you have a picture or detail of what Leon is looking for ? , useing a threaded rod and nut setup?
daveb - Thursday, 06/07/07 09:11:54 EDT

Leon: I have not, but I have cobbled the screw and nut from the bottom of office chairs into use for an already-made vise. Some of the chairs have a length of Acme threads.
- Frank Turley - Thursday, 06/07/07 09:14:59 EDT

DIY Vice advice:
Blacksmiths Journal had a plan for a fabricated vice many years ago. If was not pretty but it worked.

The important differences in a blacksmiths leg vice ARE:

1) It was made from unbreakable (compared to CI) wrought iron or steel.
2) The leg transfered the hammering force to the ground
3) The pivot pin could take heavy load in double shear and if abused did not affect the working of the vice much AND could easily be replaced.
4) They had a fair amount of mass to take hammering.
5) The screw often had a spherical washer pair to compensate for the angle change of the jaws.
6) Jaws were smooth to prevent damaging the work.

IF you have access to a lathe I would machine my own screw and nut. 1-1/8" to 1-1/4" dia. is typical of heavy vices. Vice and clamp screw threads are generally square, not Acme. The reason is that any angle to the thread face creates outward expansion of the nut which under high load can eventually hop over the screw threads (slip). Square threads put most of the force in the axial direction. But they are also harder to machine because the cutter must be specially ground for a specific diameter which changes the clearance angles. Machinery's handbook and others will have information on this.

If you look at the design of blacksmiths leg vices you will see that the vise jaws are both the same down to the pivot joint. At this point the leg was welded on and the side plates (which are flat welded) cover the leg joint. One big mass of welds, something quite common in the wrought iron days.

Some (European style) leg vices had longer side plates that were riveted on to the back jaw with 6 or more large rivets. These side plates extended up to the bench mount and hid the spring. The front jaw was supported sideways by these plates. It is a nice design that requires less welding.

European, particularly French leg vises did not use the fancy (hard to make) bench mounts made by the English. They used a simple bench bracket and a cross bar with two bolts that clamped around the back jaw and spring.

The combination of this mounting and the side plates above make these vices look quite a bit different but the operational features are all the same. It is a perfected design that should not be varied from extensively unless you have a MUCH better design.

When aligning and dressing the jaws they should be parallel at about 5/8 to 3/4" opening. Then from there in they tend to angle to the top angle out from that point out. They have ONE point that fits exactly right. For this reason the jaws also should have well rounded corners as these will grip better without marking larger or smaller work than the optimum.

You cannot beat the shape of the old vice jaws. Their lines are functional and beautiful at the same time. But they are a difficult shape to make even with heavy forging equipment. Most folks do not realize that they have hard steel faces forge welded to them.

It is an interesting project that I have thought about more than a few times. But here we have lots of old very beautiful vices that can be picked up for much less than they are worth. I've got half a dozen leg vices in my shop and another half dozen heavy bench vices. You cannot have enough.
- guru - Thursday, 06/07/07 11:12:25 EDT

Old Catalogs:
Maiers, These are great fun. The prices drive folks nuts. The good ones are the 1880's Sears catalog reprints. We used to have a couple but I think my Ex-wife has them. Entire outfits for $25. Anvils for $5, post drills for $6.50. It is hard to adjust for inflation.

Back in 1985 ABANA and the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association reprinted a 1914? Sears "Tools Machinery Blacksmiths' Supplies" catalog. It starts with lathes (many) and includes almost every craft's tools.

We sell Champion, Buffalo and Canedy Otto catalogs from the late 1800's on CD. Lots of interesting details.

When I can afford it I buy old catalogs but have not been able to afford those from the 1800's except for Carey Brothers Machinery catalog from 1899. Earlier specialty tool catalogs go for $400 and UP.

I have industrial supply catalogs from the 1950's that were my fathers. Prices then were amazingly low. They still carried full lines of blacksmith's tools in industrial catalogs then. I have also recently purchased a 1917 Belknap catalog. These guys were huge hardware and tool distributors in the first 3/4s' of the 20th century. These old catalogs are where much of our industrial history is hiding.

Reprints and CD's are making lots of the old catalogs available at affordable prices. However, you will not see copies made of big 3,000 page catalogs like the Belknap I just bought.

In the late 1960's and early 1970's a number of old Sears Roebuck general catalogs were reprinted. I found the 1897 edition on Amazon but I am pretty sure there was an 1884 reprint at one time. These were printed on cheap newsprint much like the original 2" thick catalogs and I suspect they have not held up well. These large catalogs got reprinted due to their general popularity and the upcoming bicentennial. Everyone was interested in old then. . . But do not expect to see old general hardware catalogs in reprint. Too big, too expensive and not enough general interest.

A couple Old Catalogs
- guru - Thursday, 06/07/07 11:58:18 EDT

I went chasing after a replacement acme-threaded screw for an old Chas. Parker vise recently. Acme is still available-- but not cut in the same fashion as in olden tymes, alas-- an ever so eency but totally significant bit of difference to the slope on the shoulder, don't you know, one's sharp the other rounded-- won't fit the original cast nut. So I'll make something up. There is prolly some perfectly sound reason for re-engineering the thread profile (proprietary protection, no doubt), but a royal PITA, nonetheless.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 06/07/07 17:20:38 EDT

when making a new vise screw go find an old lathe that will really large low tpi threads that vise screws need, i would use a high carbon steel also.
not sure if those have any temper to them, guru probably knows.
we took apart a vise at the shop, the threads were CHEWED UP looked like they were supposed to be like
3/16 thick but were 1/8
- maiers - Thursday, 06/07/07 18:58:24 EDT

ACME threaded rod is available in all thread bar with matching nuts for far less than one would guess for a precision item. If buying new, get the B-7 material, as it is a 4140 material basically, and a grade 8.

Miles, there are several styles of ACME thread, the General ACME, 29 degree stub, and the 60 degree stub and several others.
If rounded on the profile you may have had a Whitworth thread. A 10 degree modified square thread looks a little like a ACME.

at the valve/boiler shop, we had perhaps 800 vises of all sizes and shapes and vintages. I do not recall a single with ACME threads, but rather all were a square or modified square, or were worn to a sawtooth form. Since we made millions and millions of ACME threaded stems a year in many sizes, I suspect I could identify an ACME.
ptree - Thursday, 06/07/07 19:14:12 EDT

ptree-- Thanks. Whitworth is a Brit thread, right? Chas. Parker, if I have haha remembered the name correctly, is an old U.S. brand. There are three bolt mongers-- shops that sell nothing but-- that I know of in Albuquerque. One said she thought she had it but was temporarily out. The second said flatly it was an antique form of Acme that he'd encountered before, could not match. I haven't had a chance to try the third or go back to the first, but the simplest option seems to be to just make a new nut fixture for the vise. Searching for specific items like this in New Mexico is not often rewarding. Want real fun? Try to find a specific bearing. As for a forge blower, say. Rotsa ruck.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 06/07/07 20:08:40 EDT

Miles: I recently discovered, to my great and good fortune, that McMaster-Carr will ship stuff to me by Priority Mail. Huge savings over UPSFEDEX who seem to think I'm in a suburb of Haiphong, based on their tariffs.

McMaster carries lots of nifty threaded rod and nuts, spherical washers and other goodies that can be put to use in repairing vises. MSC Industrial Supply seems to have an even larger selection, which would be of use to you since you can have stuff shipped UPSFEDEX without undue financial hardship.

At the time that Chas. Parker vises were being made, at least the earlier ones, fasteners were just becoming standardized but things like vise screws were likely still pretty open to individual company design. Might be square, square with eased corners, slightly tapered square or darn near anything, since it was a proprietary part and not a standard fastener. That's my guess, anyhow.

I've used chair elevator screws, scaffold leveler screws and other oddments to cobble together things like old vises. One day soon, I have to cast a new nut for a nice old Prentiss vise that somebody forced and split the bronze nut on. I brazed it together, but it's still a bit out of whack and doesn't work like I would like. It will be an interesting project.
vicopper - Thursday, 06/07/07 20:57:06 EDT

VIse Threads:
As I noted in the post above, most were and are square threads which are a great deal different than Acme. Acme have 14.5 degree sloping sides and a wide flat, looking SORT of square but are far from it. True square threads are SQUARE with 90 degree surfaces OR 85 degrees in 10 degree modified square threads. As they wear they tend to look sloped but that is just on the outer edges.

Threads do odd things as they wear. I have a on old punch press taper too nut that has distorted from acme to a buttress style thread (90 degree front and long sloping back). I made an adaptor nose for it to fit my small punch 4T press. I machined a custom buttress thread to fit by eyeball.

Acmes are used for a lot of things including lead screws and most new applications but square threads still exist. My pricey copper coated welding C-clamps have square threads. Some of my other C-clamps have Acme and some standard 60 degree V threads.
- guru - Thursday, 06/07/07 21:30:07 EDT

Copper Roses: I woke up this morning to remember that I've got a family reunion this weekend. I wanted to make something for the "auction" & decided on some copper roses (from those spendy gutters I bought the other day). I already had the stems left over from an earlier project. What's a quick finish for the petals? The last ones I made were of thicker material (.080 in) & I polished & gold plated them. I don't have time for that this time.

Do I just splash some color with the torch, or is there another option (I don't have any colored metal pastes).
- Mike Sa - Thursday, 06/07/07 23:13:20 EDT

Guys, honest Injun, Iwent in asking for a square threaded rod to fit this here nut, and the nice lady who mongers these things for a living day in and day out told me at a glance it was an Acme. Square or Acme, she didn't have anything to match the nut, nor did her competitor another dedicated nut and bolt vendor, who said conventional Acme came close, but no cigar. Since I already have about a dozen or so vises pretty much like this one and another bunch that are slightly different, and then the leg vises and the little bench vises, and the hand vises, I figure I will just wait them out. My experience is EVERYTHING is still out there-- just don't knock yourself out looking for it.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 06/08/07 00:34:14 EDT

vises: I've been a member of quite a few web forums and that has to be one of the best responses I have ever got to a question. My lathe access is fairly tentative, so I will look for alternatives. I'd rather get a working but less capable vise using lesser components than wait until I can machine a square thread. A thread and nut should be easy enough to change later anyway. This project isn't my top priority at the moment, so I'm happy to piece it together from found scraps over time. That should save on cost anyway. Anyway I'll keep researching and most likely will be back with more questions.

Thanks again.
- Leon - Friday, 06/08/07 02:22:23 EDT

Leon: One other thing to consider is making a vise by fabricating it from heavy bar stock, using an over-center lever locking device. I have a friend who made one that way and it worked impressively well. You step on the foot pedal and it operates a toggle linkage that spreads the bottom of the legs, closign the jaws. With the pivot point of the jaws at about a 1:4 ratio to the lower legs, and something like 100:1 ratio on the toggle linkage, you end up able to apply somewhere around 15,000 psi (after friction losses) on a set of 1" by 4" jaw faces, assuming you weigh around 180-200 pounds.

If you build such a vise with the pivot for the legs having an adjustable separation, you can keep the jaw faces close to parallel over a wide range of jaw openings.

Another very simple vise-like arrangement that i've used at times is no more than a fixed back jaw such as a piece of heavy angle iron welded to a heavy plate, and a front stop of heavy angle iron welded to the plate about four inches in front of that.

I used a piece of 1" plate (cut the same size as the leg of the heavy angle iron) as the "moveable jaw." The clamping action was supplied by a pair of wedges cut and ground from bar stock, that went between the front stop and the moveable jaw. Mash the wedges together to exert clamping force between the moveable jaw and the fixed rear jaw. Though not nimble and quick, it worked surprisingly well. Took about an hour to build from scrap.

The key too making a wedge clamp work is a long taper on the wedges. 1/4" of taper in a foot of run will exert tremendous pressure. Odd bits of scrap can be used to "adjust" the effective jaw width.
vicopper - Friday, 06/08/07 08:52:17 EDT

As Vic mentioned leverage and wedge devices work well if you get used to them. The Japanese use a large staple in a board with wedges to hold blades for scraping. American farriers (and probably elsewhere) use portable foot powered vices to clamp shoes for filing.

I have seen blacksmith made foot operated vices that looked rather primitive but worked pretty well. Usually there is a spring involved somewhere to open the jaws AND raise the pedal.

Cam operated devices tend to be quite high friction. However, if you can get a large sealed ball bearing and use it for the eccentric you can get high force and low friction. However, there is a balance when clamping. Low friction can also result in the clamp undoing itself or requiring constant pressure.

Just some more ideas.
- guru - Friday, 06/08/07 11:11:57 EDT

Quick Finish for Copper:
In the "good old days" a drop of mercury spread over copper will stick and remain bright for years. . . have to rub it on with your fingers. We all now know this is toxic. Maybe that is why I am as "mad as a hatter".

Other than some quick oxide colors I cannot think of anything easy. I would lacquer them to keep the copper bright. Nowwww...... IF you could find some tinted clear like a candy apple color. THAT would go on great over copper.
- guru - Friday, 06/08/07 11:19:27 EDT

Vises: I've never seen a lever/cam operated vise but it sounds interesting and still reasonably simple. I have in my head a few ways these could work, but I'd like to find out the configuration others have used. Does anyone know where I can find pictures or descriptions of these? Would I be right in thinking that this style of vise is less suited to clamping things which vary in size, compared to a threaded version?
Leon - Friday, 06/08/07 19:33:09 EDT

Leon - Vise: Lever and cam operated vises have some means of coarse ajustment, the lever and cam just makes them operate quickly.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 06/08/07 22:32:03 EDT

lever cam vises: The mostcommon place to find this set up is on a carpenter vise that bolts to the bottom of the work bench. I've got one. It uses a ratchet type tooth for the gross adjustment & the cam just to cinch it up tight.
- Mike Sa - Friday, 06/08/07 22:41:10 EDT

Copper roses: Got 2 roses done with 10 inch stems. Instead of making a tenon on the end of the stem, I drill & tap the upset end so I can take them apart as needed to tweak the petals, prior to the final finish. Then I just fold the inner layer in enough to hid the screw head (a brass screw that I cross saw to break up the appearance).
- Mike Sa - Friday, 06/08/07 22:44:48 EDT

More on vises: The toggle-linkage can be seen by looking at toggle clamps for holding work for machining. The major brand name escapes me at the moment. Google "toggle clamps."

Cams work, as Jock said, when done just right. When done wrong, they are a nightmare. Some very good milling macine vises use cam locking devices, but they are high precision and not suitable for DIY construction. Toggles, on the other hand, are easy to make.

As I said earlier, if the pivot for the moving jaw can be adjusted closer or farther from the fixed leg, then the vise will hold a wide range of thicknesses with the jaws parallel. The Fisher double-screw vise was designed to keep the jaws parallel as the thickness changed while still using a screw and being a leg vise. Tough to build one of those, though.

Tony Bartol posted a picture of his lever operated vise on the old Keenjunk site about five years ago. If I can find a copy on my computer i'll emai it to you, but I doubt I have it.

On a positive note, I bought a post vise on eBay a few weeks ago for $26.00 and I picked it up at the freight forwarders today. When I saw it on eBay it had a crappy angle iron brcket welded to it and no spring, so nobody was bidding on it, but the rest looked good. I took a flier and got it cheap. Good buy!

That vise is straight, threads perfect, very decorative turned thread box, and the crappy bracket will cut off easily and witihout damaging the vise. I'llmake a new bracket and spring. The vise is only 4-1/2" jaws, but weighs over 60# without bracket and spring, so it is very stout. Well worth the shiping, which cost three times as much as the vise itself. You can get good deals on eBay if you're very observant and pretty lucky.
vicopper - Friday, 06/08/07 22:48:34 EDT

Fun with Mercury: As kids, the science teacher would pour out some mercury so we could play with it on the table. One day some upper classmen stole the whole jar (about a quart) & used it that night to spin out on with the rear tires of their cars down on main street. There was mercury everywhere (I grew up in a town of 500 people, so it didn't take long the everyone to know what happened).
- Mike Sa - Friday, 06/08/07 22:51:02 EDT

Fun with mercury.
A year or so ago, locally, a teacher spilled a small amount of mercury in a class room. I suspect that there was a no mercury rule in that school cause she attempted to clean it up herself. Word leaked out, and the room had to be stripped as the mercury vapor was about 10 times the OSHA permissible exposure level. Result? the school paid about $15,000 to clean the room and replace carpet etc, and the teacher got to find a new job.

At the old valve shop, we had several plasma transferred arc spray welders. They spray welded stellite to seat rings. The rings rotated under the torch, and the pair of rotating nests were on a rotating table to allow load unload, 8 ring nests. To ground the rotating nests, and not fry/weld the bearings, the shaft for the nests extended down into a pool of mercury. Stirred every cycle, and due to heat transfer, the mercury reached an operating temp of about 150F. Not sealed. I got to scrap those machines and do the clean up. At the time, mercury still had excellent scrap value, and the sale of the 300 # of mercury offset the clean up price so that we only had to pay about $20,000 to scrap those 2 small machines.

That mercury came back to haunt us a few years later. When we were closing down the valve shop for moving to India, a wall locker in the welding dept fell over, and mercury everywhere. At some date in the past, someone had stored mercury in the back of the locker, in a pint wiskey flask! Missed in the move from the old shop to the new, and it probably would have been shipped except it broke in the tip over. That pint cost about $10,000 to clean up. When I say everywhere, it hit a smooth concrete floor, and a fan was running. covered distance like a race horse!
ptree - Saturday, 06/09/07 07:34:23 EDT

Vicopper. I just got a nice leg vise at iron in the hat at Tipton. needs a spring and pracket. Nice small one. Some idiot had burnt the tip of the leg off. I am planning on mounting on the forld a forge demo trailer, so the no bracket is no biggie. I would have to have made a specil one anyway. bought 6 tickets and the second ticket called was mine! I finally got lucky in INTH.
ptree - Saturday, 06/09/07 07:37:05 EDT

Vice Construction:
Last night Dave-B came by with an old leg vise with parts missing. The very interesting thing about this vice was the box (nut). It explained a LOT about the Peter Wright "Solid Box" statement.

The threaded tube was forge welded. Perhaps over a threaded mandrel. You could clearly see the lap in the weld down the side of the tube. Then hand forged thrust rings were brazed to the tube. Several of them had a keyway cutout to fit over the 3/8" square anti-rotation spline that that was missing but originally brazed to the side of the tube. The keyway cutouts helped reinforce the spline attachment. The back of the tube was missing the cover and end closure but apparently this was another piece brazed over the thin threaded tube. So the whole was a complex hand forged and fire brazed assembly.

This box assembly reminded me very much of many cobbled together parts made in small shops that do not have the capacity to do the job the right way. The way many of us do in-house projects. However, this was part of a vice that was produced in the tens of thousands.

This nut was on a shorter than normal late English vise that used a wrap around bracket and heavily chamfered leg. It appeared that it might have been off an older larger vice from the diameter of the sliding handle hole. But this is speculation.

Will post photos on the vice FAQ page later.
- guru - Saturday, 06/09/07 08:18:21 EDT

Hey Jock, I'll try to get measurements and send them to you toady.
- daveb - Saturday, 06/09/07 09:19:06 EDT

More Vise Construction: My old English tenoned-plate vises all have that brazed construction of the screw box. The exterior was lathe turned after brazing to give the appearance of being solid. The screw coil was brazed inside. When Peter Wright figured out how to make a solid box without the brazing, he patented it and stamped the box on top, "P. WRIGHT PATENT SOLID BOX. No more brazing, and he was one-up on the competition. It appears that at one time, all leg vises (including my old German one) were constructed with the brazed method, so the question arises, was this "cobbling" or was it the only solution?

When the brazing was used, the male, square screw thread was machined. It was the female portion that was braze/fabbed. My question is, when did the thread cutting boring bar come into existence? Was it as late as the Peter Wright solid box "invention", I'm guessing the mid 19th century?

Again, I refer all to "Restoration of Leg Vises" by James R. Melchor and Peter Ross; "Anvil Magazine", 2001, July, August, September, and October.
Frank Turley - Saturday, 06/09/07 10:56:15 EDT

Search on the history of the screw cutting lathe.

I'd guess that brazing was cheaper for a long while. IIRC "Practical Blacksmithing", Richardson has a piece on how to make a replacement screw box given the screw that invilves laying in a steel wire in the screw, then screwing it off the screw and brazing it in an appropriate sized tube; just like the old method of construction!

Thomas P - Saturday, 06/09/07 11:51:24 EDT

Lathe boring, chasing threads. This was done long before PW. 1770 is given as the date that an English instrument maker invented a "satisfactory" screw cutting lathe. But metal crews and nuts date from the 15th century in Europe. In 1798 Henry Maudslay invented the change gear cutting lathe but was using hand methods to make "master" screws. In 1798, American David Wilkinson invented machinery for the mass production of threaded metal screws.

So, by 1800 screw machining was pretty well known. However, one-off matched wood, wood and metal and iron and brass screw nut combinations including power press screws were made much much earlier.

Boring goes back quite a ways and all cannon were bored to make the bore straight and round.

The boring bar is not the key to internal threading, the adjustable cross slide is the trick. Of course you can also use shims such as used in rifling machines
- guru - Saturday, 06/09/07 16:40:14 EDT

I used Richardson's method to make a new box for one of my vices about 25 years ago and it is still going strong. I used keystock for the thread stock, wound it around the screw, screwed it off, slid it in a piece of tubing and brazed it with copper and borax. Hardest part was cleaning the flux out of the new threads, but it eventually worked out.
- Bernard Tappel - Saturday, 06/09/07 22:48:37 EDT

Where: where does a backyard smithy find beaudry or similiar type power hammer
- michael - Saturday, 06/09/07 23:01:57 EDT

flint strikers: hallo. i am a young smith working with Allen ortery a New Salem State Historic Site, and I've got a lot to learn. A professor of mine asked me if i could make him a few flint strikers for his graduates. He showed me the design (C-shaped grip), and I said "sure, how many?" since then it has been revealed to me that in order to throw good sparks, the metal must be very my question is: What type of steel is best for making flint strikers; is it difficult to find in the 1/4"-3/8" square neighborhood; where can i get some? any help will be much appreciated. later!
- dmax - Sunday, 06/10/07 08:58:17 EDT

Beaudry Hammer: First, a "smithy" is a place, not a person. The person is called a smith.

Look on for power hammers, look on eBay, call every ABANA chapter and attend regional meets. I have no idea what a backyard beginner would want with such a hammer, but there you are. A pneumatic hammer such as an Iron Kiss or a BigBlu would be a much better choice, in my opinion. If I was going to buy an old orphan machine that I had to invest thousands of dollars and hundreds or thousands of hours in, I'd wouldn't stop at anything less than a 3b Nazel.
vicopper - Sunday, 06/10/07 09:37:31 EDT

dmax, garage door spring is an excellent source of the stock for flint strikers. They are already about the right stock size, and free once broken. One door spring will make a boat load of strikers. There are a couple of how to's on the iforge on this site and more on other sites. remember that after forging, there will be a shallow decarb'ed surface. and that needs grinding off on the area you strike.
ptree - Sunday, 06/10/07 09:41:33 EDT

Strikers: You want a carbon steel that is around 100 points (.10) carbon. Old files work well, as will W-1 drill rod. Stay away from alloyed stuff. Don't temper much, if at all. See iForge demo #51 for some ideas and more info.
vicopper - Sunday, 06/10/07 09:43:33 EDT

Beaudry, Vic, WHY NOT? Beaudry made mechanical hammers from 30 pounds to 200 pounds. In general they are comparable to Little Giants of the same size. When new they were a MUCH better hammer. Used they are more difficult to repair than an LG. Fairbanks and Bradley were much better than Little Giants as well. Fairbanks weighed about the same and Bradleys ALL weighed more than anything else for a given size.

Yes there is a lot to consider when buying an orphan machine. However, while mechanicals are no longer made they do have one HUGE advantage over air hammers. They are 4 to 5 times as energy efficient. You can run a 50# Mechanical at the end of a long extension cord and a 100# on about 2HP. But a 100 pound air hammer needs a 6 to 10HP. This is often out of the reach of the small shop or hobbiest.

- guru - Sunday, 06/10/07 18:15:25 EDT

Why not, indeed?: I think an orphan Beaudry is a big bite to chew for a person who is a backyard hobbyist who still knows so little about this craft he refers to himself as a place, that's all. The Beaudry is agreat hammer, superior in almost every respect to an LG. The only advantage the LG has is Sid Suidmeir; as far as I know, there is no Sid for Beaudrys or Bradleys or Fairbanks or Kerrihards, so you're strictly on your own and had better be able to reverse engineer every part and make those you need. As I said, if I was going to do all that, I'd go for a Nazel and have a hammer that would do anything I wanted without having to adjust linkages or dies, or splice flat belts and goof around with balky clutches and idlers.

I've run Beaudrys and Nazels, and there's just no comparison. So I'd need a phase convertor and have to pay more for electircity. No big deal; the Nazel would be sufficiently ore effecient and effective that it would make me sufficciently more productive to more than offset those minor costs.

That's just my opinion, and yours may differ, which is fine. But if your main concern is electrical energy efficiency, then by all means use a tilt-beam helve hammer, run by the tail race of a mill stream. Now, THAT is efficiency. Only need electricity for the lights that way. You'd have to paint with a roller or brush, though, with no compressor. (grin)
vicopper - Sunday, 06/10/07 21:25:36 EDT

N.B.: The previouos post sort of implies that you can run a spray gun from a Nazel, which, while theoretically ossible I suppse, is ludicrous. The spray gun, air hammer, air tools of every sort all run off my Ingersoll-Rand T-30 compressor. But, I still want a Nazel. That's one sweet hammer!

If I can't get a Nazel, and I certainly can't down here, I'd settle for one of John Larson's new Octagon 100 utility hammers. Still the best ten thousand dollar air hammer made for six thousand bucks, and a joy to use in every way. As soon as John delivers to the VI, I'm going to get one. Maybe even sooner than that, as I'm seriously considering selling the Harley I rarely ride to fund a bigger air hammer. All God's chillun got needs...
vicopper - Sunday, 06/10/07 21:49:56 EDT

Harley or Iron Kiss: That Iron Kiss hammer can forge anything You are likely to do, what can You do with a Harley? A 7.5 HP compressor will run the Octagon 100 continuously, but the really amazing thing is that a Trailblazer 301 welder can run the 7.5 HP compressor. I saw John Saturday at Rough & Tumble with this setup.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 06/10/07 22:36:46 EDT

still more on vises: check out ebay item 280123687570 for an interesting cam action on a foot vise.
Bernard Tappel - Sunday, 06/10/07 23:25:00 EDT

Dave: Well, I can't very well ride the Octagon 100 down to the corner store, can I? On the other hand, when is the last time I rode it anywhere. I'm embarassed to answer that one. But it now has spiffy new Progressive rear shocks (purchased 4 years ago), all shined up, tuned up and ready to go, so I'll ride it tomorrow, weather permitting. After that, I'll try to decide what to do. John still hasn't offered to deliver a hammer here, either. Maybe, come winter in Balmer, he'll consider it.
vicopper - Monday, 06/11/07 00:54:02 EDT

Iron Kiss: Now I'm as green as one can be, blacksmithing, and I never touched a power hammer before in my life, but I test-drove an Iron Kiss hammer on Saturday at Rough-&-Tumble, and I thought it was great! Seems to me that with the flexibility of an air hammer, and some tooling, you can do the work of a mechanical hammer, a fly press, a horizontal vice, a hydraulic press…..

Dave B., I was wearing a straw hat and a grey shirt, and I’m not Amish. Who were you?
Dave Leppo - Monday, 06/11/07 08:26:05 EDT

Power Hammers and People: Dave Leppo, you had the opportunity to try the Iron Kiss and you did the right thing to take it. I am always surprised at Quad States when few people actually take the opportunity to try John's fine hammer. They don't know what they're missing; like I said, it's the best ten thousand dollar air hammer being sold in the U.S. for six thousand, and has truly superior control and power compared to all the others I've test driven. John has spent ten years constantly working to improve his hammers, and has gotten them to the point where they are really impressive.

You mentioned tooling for the powerhammer. I took a workshop recently with Steve Parker, an industrial blacksmith and protege' of Clifton Ralph. Before I did that workshop, I thought you needed different dies for a hammer in order to get all you could out of it, but I was quickly disabused of that notion watching what Steve can do on a pair of flat dies using hand-held tooling. It really opened my eyes to a bunch of possibilities and, in fact, a month ago I had a job that was very profitable because of one technique I learned from Steve.

Steve teaches a flat die power hammer class at the Powerhammer School run by Steve "Whitetrash" Barringer in Moorsville, NC, using the BigBlu powerhammers. I think he has one coming up in the next week or two, if you're interested. It would be well worth your time if you can attend. Parker is a great teacher, as well as an excellent blacksmith.

Dave Boyer, if he still looks the same as when I saw him at the last Quad States, is the medium-sized guy with the long beard who looks kind of like he should be riding a motorcycle, and who knows more about machine work and metal in general than most people would ever imagine. That guy is a veritable fount of valuable knowledge.
Power Hammer School
vicopper - Monday, 06/11/07 08:58:06 EDT

Points of carbon: Rich, not to be too picky, but 1 pont of carbon is .01%, 100 points is 1.00 percent. You should be able to make a decent flint striker out of steel with .60% or higher carbon content - most springs are going to be in that range.
- Gavainh - Monday, 06/11/07 12:17:50 EDT

Carbon: Thanks for correcting that, Gavainh. The typo as well as clarifying that 60 point would be sufficient for a striker. I don't actually have dyslexia, but my fingers seem to, sometimes. I sppreciate your catching that one and correcting it so someone doesn't get wrong information. (.10 carbon content would exceed even the worst cast iron, if it is even possible to get that much carbon into iron, which I doubt. Just how much carbon CAN you cram into iron before it quits happening?)

Thanks again.
vicopper - Monday, 06/11/07 12:42:16 EDT

Hammers and Dies:
The dies on a power hammer hake a huge difference in what you can do. But dies also include hand held or clamp ons. The factory standard flat dies on most power hammers are pretty much worthless except as support for other tooling or as blanks to make useful dies out of.

The Big BLU die system uses dies that you can get the most out of without changing dies our using hand held tooling. Once you learn to use their combo dies you will never want to go back. Note that these are NOT your common old fashioned combo dies that were only slightly better than flat dies. These have a very sophisticated shape that gets as much done as possible. You can draw smoothly without marking the work, you can isolate masses and create shoulders. They are narrow enough to get into tight places and have sufficient flat for using hand tools if necessary. You can draw short points, long points, longer tapers, balls and leaves complete without the use of other tools or going to the anvil.

While you CAN draw on flat dies the result is rough choppy work done in an inefficient manner. Proper elliptical corner dressing is required to produce smooth tapers. They also increase the efficiency of the process so you get more done.

The advantage to the die system on the Big BLU is that you work very efficiently without changing dies or holding tooling in one hand and work in the other. You can hold the work with both hands (or two pairs of tongs) to get very tight efficient control while working the hot steel like clay between your fingers. It is a very flexible system where you can do artistic work with the fewest possible tools.

THEN there are sophisticated hand held tools that they use in Germany and which to the only person I have seen use in the US is my friend Josh Greenwood. These are a system of special hand held fullers and groovers use to make long organic forms, particularly icanthus leaf type elements. While these tools are sophisticated in design they still require a great deal of practice. I used a special design tool of my own that replaces a set of these to forge a leaf at the CSI hammer-in. It turned out "OK" but would not win any prises. I need the opportunity to make a half dozen of these to get the technique down. The tool could probably use some R&D as well.

Then there are the dozens of clapper swages made by Off Center tools and sold by Kayne and Son. You can use one of these to make rope or several to make a complete candleopra with all machine forged decorative elements only requiring the skill to assemble them.

These are great tools for many purpose but after a while your work will look like it is made with cookie cutters if you use them too much. Many smiths make their own clapper dies and thus avoid some of the possibility of looking exactly someone elses work.

The Dave Manzer Power Hammer Techniques DVD we sell shows many of the traditional flat die desorative tooling techniques and the Uri Hofi and Big BLU forging solutions DVD's show the great flexibility of the Big BLU die system. The later are a good introduction to what you can learn at the Power Hammer School. All these techniques should be in your bag of tricks to make the most of your power hammer.
- guru - Monday, 06/11/07 12:45:50 EDT

strikers: thanks for the help. I've got a couple enormous springs from a service station now. oh the joys of straightening coils. later!
dmax - Monday, 06/11/07 12:47:23 EDT

Hammer Excess!

Found on the National Museums Scotland search website:

This is a detail of a hammer presented in 1863 to Petty Officer-Blacksmith James Sutherland of the Royal Navy by Commodore Lord John Hay. The hammer has a silver head and an ebony handle.

Sutherland had served under Hay's command for four years on board HMS Odin. The inscription on the hammer describes him as 'a first rate blacksmith, a good petty officer and in all respects a trustworthy man'."

Now for a silver anvil to use it on!

It was also interesting to see a couple of pairs of tongs dating 80-100 CE that look exactly like some on my rack dating 20th century CE

Thomas P - Monday, 06/11/07 17:26:20 EDT

Junk spring stock-- watch out for the shiny plating on some springs that come wrapped around fancy shock absorbers. Dunno if it's cadmium or what, but you'll wish you hadn't if you inhale even a little of the fumes when you cook it.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 06/11/07 18:24:07 EDT

Dave Leppo & VIcopper: Dave: I was the short,fat guy wearing glasses with the messy greying hair & beard who WASN'T wearing bib overalls.
Ritch: Thanks for the complements.
- Dave Boyer - Monday, 06/11/07 22:11:14 EDT

Power Hammer Dies: Jock, I simply cannot agree that flat dies are useless. On the contrary, I find them just the ticket. Properly dressed flat dies will do smooth drawing of tapers in competent hands. Properly dressed means having a proper elliptical easement of the corners, which flat dies are supposed to have. Just as a good smith crowns and dresses his own hand hammers, he needs to dress his power hammer dies properly.

While I agree that the BigBLU dies are pretty nifty for doing decorative work, they still require you to change from the combo dies to the crown dies, etc. With my flat dies, I can go from drawing tapers to isolating stock, to fullering, to bulldozer work, to spring die work, to cutting, chasing, flatting or creasing, with no more effort than reaching up to the rack overhead and grabbing the tooling I want. All without ever changing my dies.

I do have a few spring dies that I've made, as particular jobs demanded them, but I mostly use general purpose tooling as taught by Clifton Ralph and Steve Parker. I will agree that if a smith uses the same handful of stock spring dies all the time, his work is bound to end up looking like it was pasted together from elements from King Architectural Metals. Thats fine if you want to be a fabricator, but Im a blacksmith and blacksmiths make the tooling they need, when they need it.

Using flat dies and tooling enables me to do anything I want on the power hammer. While the amount of tooling does tend to accumulate, it definitely cant be replaced by a set of BigBLU dies, or anybody elses dies, either. Specialty dies are too limiting if you depend on them to do it all, no matter how versatile they may appear to be.

If one only looks at J.W. Lillicos book on forging, he can see some of what can be done with very simple tooling on flat dies. Lillico shows very complex forgings that could never be made on specialty dies; this sort of work requires flat dies and tooling. The ability to do this type of work translates to the ability to forge almost anything, without depending on trick dies to do the job.

Even Uri Hofi, who is the apparent designer of the BigBLU die system, doesnt use them for ALL his forging, from what I can see. It appears that he uses a hydraulic forging press for making his hammers and quite a bit of his other tooling.

Just because I favor John Larsons Iron Kiss hammer and flat dies does not mean I am disparaging the BigBLU hammer or their die system, by any means. Dean, Josh and all the guys at BigBLU are great people and they make a fine hammer. Their dies are great for doing all the Uri Hofi decorative elements and other things. And they ARE an Anvilfire advertiser, which I also appreciate. That, however, doesnt make flat dies useless by any means.

Flat die work is a learned skill like any other, and is more adaptable to a wider range of forging situations than most people would imagine.
vicopper - Monday, 06/11/07 22:29:08 EDT

Damascus: sorry to change the subject n all but, somebody told me to forge weld layers of pure nickel and high carbon steel for Damascus, now every other time ive seen damascus done its with two tool steels, is this guy right, would it make a kind of nickel steel?
- Mr. Maiers - Monday, 06/11/07 22:53:31 EDT

Damascus: You can weld pure nickel and high carbon steel for pattern-welded steel and it produces a very dramatic contrast. It is also somewhat more difficult to weld than two tool steels, requiring an aggressive flux containing fluorine.

I doesn't, however, make a nickel steel, except at the weld zone where there is probably some slight migration of nickel into the high carbon. If you cut/stack/weld it enough times, say to around several thousand layers, then it would become pretty homogenous and might be called a nickel steel, I suppose. But then you wouldn't have a discernible pattern, would you?

Read Dr. James P. Hrisoulas' books on pattern welding of steels for some really accurate information from the guy who literally wrote the book(s) on this stuff.
vicopper - Monday, 06/11/07 23:26:42 EDT

$0.02: Dave B - nice to meet you. Might see you around.

The flat dies demo'd on the Iron Kiss hammer had rounded edges, and created a smooth surface on the drawn rr spikes. I think Larson offers combo dies, too, though probably not dressed quite the same as the Hofi Big Blu.

Seems everyone in the trade has their tooling preference. You can challenge yourself to do the most with the least, or you can challenge yourself to develop specialized tools to do everything and anything.
The journey, or the end results – both are important.

...and that's part of what makes it ART.
- Dave Leppo - Tuesday, 06/12/07 10:25:16 EDT

Pattern Welding" one of the other issues with pure Ni is that it doesn't harden and acts as a carbon migration barrier so that if you use pure Ni in a billet with other steels you can end up with an edge with soft spots built in it.

Most pro's now use high Ni alloy steels that have an appreciable carbon content and/or all highcarbon steels to get a blade that hardens excellently everywhere.

I mean one of the most gaudy patterns I have seen was pure Ni and wrought iron---ended up saoft as spaghetti but the pattern differentiation was amazing...!

"The Patttern Welded Blade" by Hrisoulas should be on your reading list.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 06/12/07 11:55:29 EDT

Carbon in steel: Rich - I just went next door and looked at the big iron-carbon diagram posted on the wall in our microscopy room - it shows hypereutectoid steel up to 2% by weight carbon. I also took a quick look though our copy of worldwide guide to equivalent irons and steels. The lowest cast iron I found started at 2% and went up from there. Most had 2.2% or 2.4% start points or even higher.

My quick take on it would be less than 2% carbon, it's a steel, more than 2% carbon it's a cast iron, 2% carbon - let's arm wrestle :) (Actually it probably depends on alloy content, processing, intended end use, etc.) But the info above should get you in the ball park.
- Gavainh - Tuesday, 06/12/07 12:11:28 EDT

Hammers and DIes: Flat dies AS DELIVERED on most hammers have sharp edges with only a slight chamfer (1/32"). Many people never change them and you see the same original sharp corned flat dies on machines decades old.

The Big BLU dies were developed with the help of Uri Hofi but they were based on the German combo dies of the early 1980's that came on the Riter hammer. These in turn were small scaled down versions of earlier dies but not the common type as in Lilico with a cylindrical surface. The grinding and testing of the current versions were done in the Big BLU shop largely by Dean Curfman.

My point about the Big BLU combo dies is that you can do many tasks with the one set of dies without searching around for various tools and holding them or taking them on or off. It is a matter of both flexibility and efficiency in a production situation.

For the artist blacksmith using flat dies is like using an anvil without a horn. Sure it works, you can use hand held, second or add on tools but it is an inconvenient inefficiency.

The Big BLU dies are not perfect. Nothing is ever perfect in this business. Others such as Dan Boone use a completely different crown die that he uses for all his work. The look almost flat but have a gentle curve in all directions. He uses the middle like a flat die and the edges for drawing and pulling. The important thing it gives him is a lot of variety in his work without changing dies or using hand held tools. He does standard forging operations on them and at the same time can produce very smooth organic forms. He produces a LOT of work amazingly fast.

Hand held tooling gives you a huge amount of flexibility. However, it is slow and awkward compared to using tightly fixed specialty dies. Hand held tooling such as in Lilico was developed for open die forging on relatively small industrial hammers, specifically tooling hammers (300-500#) that were used for maintenance and support. These followed the form of heavy hammer tooling and was generally used with helpers (no just one person using the hammer) even on the "smaller" hammers. It is not unusual to see controls for a hammer driver OR NO treadle type controls for a single operator on machines as light as 300 pounds.

While I am a "tooling" guy and like big flat dies (preferably on a 200 - 300 pound hammer) if I had a choice of only one machine and die set I would go with a Big BLU and their combo dies. But what I prefer is TWO hammers, a heavy hammer with flat dies and a lighter hammer with combo dies.

At one time I had two 50# Little Giants and a #100 Mayer Bros in my shop (also a 250 but it was never setup). Dies ranged from a gentle combo pair and flats. I've run 25 pound LGs (too fast) Bradleys, Champions and Fairbanks in all kinds of states of maintenance. I've done work on Nazel 1B's (the slickest small hammer ever built) and Nazel 3B's (the scariest hammer I have ever run - a setup and maint problem). Both had factory flat dies. I've run 500 and 750# steam hammers and was impressed by how smooth and quiet they were. YOU CANNOT BEAT POWER. . . But for producing decorative work and small tools as efficiently as possible, I prefer the current model Big BLU and its combination dies.
- guru - Tuesday, 06/12/07 12:33:28 EDT

Pure Ni:
As Thomas noted you do not use it in blades UNLESS you have a separate edge. Pure nickel was experimented with by the "Damascus Steel Research Team", at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in the early 1970's. The members were Jim Wallace, Daryl Meier and Robert Griffith. They used wrought iron and nickel to produce the most extreme contrast and etch. See Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork by the the late Dona Z. Meilach. There are numerous examples as well as some details include wrought and nickel.

You need a very aggressive flux containing calcium fluoride to weld it (as with SS).
Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork
- guru - Tuesday, 06/12/07 12:51:46 EDT

Peddinghaus Anvils: The 275 lb. (125 kg) are back in stock at BlacksmithsDepot. THe way things are going with Peddinghaus you never know when that will be the last batch. . .
Peddinghaus Anvils
- guru - Tuesday, 06/12/07 14:52:31 EDT

Hammer dies: I built my little hammer with combo dies, which I designed by guess, from memory of the combo dies I had seen on a hammer Tom Clark was showing. At ABANA Richmond, when I became glued to Uri Hofi's demo, he very graciously sketched how his combo dies were profiled, including angles and demensions. I spoke to him and he even explained some more. I went home, and lacking ANY machineing capacity to cut hard dies, I used a 4.5" side grinder and much care. I stopped and measured and took tiny little steps. I now have a close to Hofi setup, except smaller and done by hand. The "Flat" dies are immensly better than before. I can get nice finish and also still do some hand held tool work with them. The fuller side also benefited from a rework to the Hofi standard. My flats are 2" x 2" so tiny compared to those I saw on the Iron Kiss at Tipton. I learned a lot about tools on flat dies, and will use tools more as I learn. But I have to say that having combo dies since 2002, I am very comfortable with them, and do a great deal of work with a pretty fluid switch from side to side. I also mostly do organic stuff such as leaves, and can make a very nice, big, no other looks exactly like it leaf on my combo dies, in one or two heats.
I would still do almost anything short of denying my kids an education for an Iron Kiss.
Their educational needs will come to an end in a few short years.
ptree - Tuesday, 06/12/07 19:47:40 EDT

Did I mention that the kids educational needs will go away in a few short years? i will keep that little hammer with combo dies and put a big flat die hammer next to it. Best of both worlds.
ptree - Tuesday, 06/12/07 19:49:15 EDT

Hammers: That's just what I'd do, Jeff. Always good to have options. As we age, a powerhammer becomes more of a necessity than just an option though, doesn't it? With every year that passes, I want a bigger hammer, too. That's just greed though. (grin)
vicopper - Tuesday, 06/12/07 20:12:59 EDT

Gavinh: Off the top of My head I D3 tool steel has 2% carbon [and 12% chrome] this is the oil hardening sister to D2. I don't recall any tool steels with more carbon than the D3. In the trade these are refered to as High carbon /High chrome, or HC/HC.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 06/12/07 22:34:42 EDT

Dave Leppo: To avoid confusion on this site I post as "Dave Boyer" Dave B is another guy, He is on the Anvilfire board.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 06/12/07 22:37:16 EDT

Combo Dies: The only reservation I have about using combo dies in old hammers (in my case an early 20's 25lb little giant), is the potential wear on the ram guides due to putting the work under one side or the other (I gotta believe the rounded side gets used more than the flat side). There has to be some stress that it wasn't really designed for going on. Maybe it's not a big deal, but it kept me from buying a set.
- Mike Sa - Tuesday, 06/12/07 22:51:51 EDT

Mike, This always SEAMS to be an issue but that is what the machine is for. Where it looks like a problem is when specialty dies such as bit taper dies are setup on one side of the ram and run forever. Yes, one side wears out. But given the same use in the middle the guides would probably wear out anyway.

When you do normal forging of tapers most of the work is done on the leading edge of the dies. This pushes back hard on the ram. If you use fullering dies the forces are more symmetrical and do not push the ram backwards OR forwards. But working on one side DOES twist the ram the other direction. In the end it all balances out.

If you look at how a Little Giant operates there are huge side to side forces at the TOP of the ram from the linkage connection. It does not pull straight up. This causes most of the side to side wear on LG's and other similar mechanical hammers.

The most damaging thing to sliding guide systems is when there is slop and the parts knock back and forth or side to side with every stroke. Keep it well adjusted and lubricated and it will last much longer no matter how the load is applied.
- guru - Wednesday, 06/13/07 00:00:17 EDT

colonial anvil: I am going to sell or trade. I am still researching its potential value and some history. I am not looking to put the kids thru college with it. I would like to see it go to a person that will respect what it is an not try and steal the deal to just make a buck. Some members have pointed out it is a colonial anvil from the 1700's and some suggested wirebrushing and coating with oil. If you are interested in sharing what you think is a fair value please let me know. I have pics available
tony - Wednesday, 06/13/07 14:35:09 EDT

SGensh: I've used the combo dies on the big blus at the powerhammer school and at Quad State as well as trying out the crown dies a little. Give me a nice decent sized set of flats any day! Hunting for tooling? I keep a simple flatter hanging at hand at all times. That's the one tool you will probably use more than anything else and you'll need that for a good finish even if you are using drawing or combo dies. Add a block on a stick (for half face blows) and a couple of fullers and you can make an incredible variety of shapes quickly and easily. Make a couple of punches and bolsters and see how quickly you can make a hole. Toss a v block up on your dies and expand your capabilities even further. A hack and a snapper on decent size flats will make quick clean work of cutoffs and trimming- much harder to do that over combos (even the flat top combos of the blus). There is another whole world of tooling posiblities once you get into the spring or clapper style tooling run over your flats.

As an example I recently made up about twenty pieces of stock for a demo on my hammer. I laid an angle block the full width of my dies on the lower die and held it in place using the clamp cage I had made for the purpose. That took about twenty or thirty seconds. I then tapered those pieces of 3/16 by 1 1/4 flat stock the hard way on the power hammer. Each taper was about four inches long and finished at the 3/16 thickness. I could very quickly drive the material into itself for a few blows on the taper block then flip the material 90 degrees and use the hand held flatter to smooth and flatten it over the same angle block just as if there were two flat dies parallel to the floor and repeat the process as many times as I needed to. Because I was feeding the material into essentially a preset angle die all of the parts came out identical, something not as easy to do over combos. It took all of about another twenty seconds to remove the angle block and clamp cage from the bottom die- guick, easy, and versatile and no messing around with die changing screws bolts or wedges to go on to the next operation.

I believe there are still a couple of openings for a flat die class to be held in a couple of weeks at the power hammer school. I took that class (the first one)last year and it was worth every penny. Steve Parker is such a good teacher that this year I made a trip to NH in February to take part in a workshop with him.

Like the other guys if I could afford it the hammer I'd buy is the Iron Kiss air hammer. (I prefer air over mechanical) It's simply the best by a long shot in my personal opinion. My own 90 pound homebuilt runs fairly well (ask vicopper about it) but I'd still like one of John's.
SGensh - Wednesday, 06/13/07 14:47:02 EDT

tony, i will email you; you can then send me some pics. please do not do anything to it!! the anvil is yours to do with what you wish, but i will be MUCH more interested if you do not touch it (no wire brush, grinding, or any cleaning) thanks. if i have trouble with you email address, i will post again.
- morph - Wednesday, 06/13/07 15:22:41 EDT

morph: tony, i cant tell if your email is qe, ae, or ge. i cant use outlook to respond, i will have to do it "manually"
- morph - Wednesday, 06/13/07 15:28:26 EDT

Sgensh's Hammer: What Steve said about the workshop in New Hampshire is true, if a bit understated. I, the devoutly tropicalized Caribbean dweller, made the trek to NH for that workshop and froze my hiney off. (Sorry, no pictures of missing hiney wil be sent, so bother asking.) It was well worth enduring the flight, the cold, the work, the fun, the humor and even Kevin's snoring. I actually recouped most of the cost of the trip in just one job I got afterwards, since I was able to do the job super easily using what I had learned from Steve Parker. Education is NEVER a waste of time or money!

Steve is also being modest when he says his 90# homebuilt hammer runs "fairly well." So modest it just has to be corrected. That hammer runs extremely well, because Steve is very knowledgeable about mechanics and fluid dynamics. He has incorporated very sensible design features into the hammer that maximize effectiveness. Since he's already shared this information on the 'net, I'll re-iterate a couple of key things for those who may have missed his post on this across the street:

Steve uses a 5-port shuttle valve with 3/4" ports, instead of 1/2" ports, although he uses 1/2" copper air piping. The bigger ports on the valve mean a higher c.v., which translates to a faster movement of air and therefore a quicker, harder-hitting hammer. Similarly, his roller valve is oversized. Again, this translates to a faster change of direction for the tup. In fact, with no regulation on the pilot circuit and nothing between the dies, the hammer is capable of around 300bpm. Under normal running conditions, the hammer will run at a very manageable 180-200 bpm or a bit higher, with great control. The control on his hammer is a funnction, I believe, of his use of a butterfly valve for the throttle instead of the commonly used ball valve, which has very non-linear flow characteristics. The butterfly valve, on the other hand, is very linear and positive over its full range.

All in all, a well-thought out hammer with very nice manners. I'll be incorporating some of Steve's design features in my own hammer in a couple of weeks when my parts arrive. But, like Steve, I'd still rather have an Iron Kiss. It's getting it here that's stopping me.
vicopper - Wednesday, 06/13/07 15:42:40 EDT

Morph: Tony's email is "ge" as in general electric. ONe way to suss out these hard to read emails is to copy it and paste it into a Word or other wrod processing document. That way, the annoying underline is gone and you can see the address. You can even change the fontto a more readable or distinctive one.
vicopper - Wednesday, 06/13/07 15:46:58 EDT

vic', thanks. you always give good advise....
- morph - Wednesday, 06/13/07 15:51:50 EDT

valve port sizing: Vicopper, your noting the oversized valves on Steve's hammer bears out what I have been telling folks. A bigger Cv used more in the middle of the flow curve gives better control. If you care to shop the catalogs, Cv is listed on almost every component available. I think most of the info from the majors is even accurate.
In the manual valve industry, such as gate and globe and checks, I found that most of the valve industry arrived at Cv's by guess or wish, rather than measurement. I ran thousands of Cv tests on these type valves, both our own and competetors, and found that testing did not support about 80% of the catalog claims! Water testing for Cv is an expensive rig, but nice and quiet. Air testing Cv was a whole different thing.
At WABCO, we often tested 2" full port 4 way valves for Cv. This was done by piping the valve into a HUGE reciever bank, and setting the pressure drop to be 100 PSI across the valve and measuring the flow on a huge rotomator. The air was allowed to flow straight to atmosphere! The noise was painfull even with plugs and muffs. One actually flet the shock waves in the body. Took about 20 seconds to get a stable reading, and it took the pair of 200Hp recips about 20 minutes to recharge the recievers. What fun.
ptree - Wednesday, 06/13/07 21:02:23 EDT

would 1095 & 4340 be a good combo?
- maiers - Wednesday, 06/13/07 22:24:11 EDT

Maiers: A good combo for what, exactly? A knife, a sword, a chisel, a punch, a hammer? Do you want ighly visible contrast, edge-holding ability, toughness, wear resistance, shock resistance, or proper alignment with magnetic lay lines?

vicopper - Wednesday, 06/13/07 23:36:25 EDT

ptree: That Cv testing procedure sounds like an acoustic enema. People must have been able to hear that miles away. Ouch!

vicopper - Wednesday, 06/13/07 23:38:57 EDT

damascus: sorry the last post was supposed to have a headline of damascus. so would 1095 4340 be a good combo?
- maiers - Thursday, 06/14/07 00:13:28 EDT

damascus: well i never took into thought for what i was making it for but most likely a knife.
i want good contrast and toughness with good edge holding capability, yes, id like fries with that.
- maiers - Thursday, 06/14/07 00:16:24 EDT

trenton anvil: what sould you pay for a trenton 100 pounder in good shape?
its got usual wear and tear but not abused
- maiers - Thursday, 06/14/07 01:04:23 EDT

Air Hammer Design: Again - green as heck here regarding power hammers, but I have some knowledge of machinery and ergonomics, and work. One feature I like about the Iron Kiss hammer which should be easy to adapt (steal) to a home built hammer is the foot pedal arrangement. There is a stationary step welded to the front of the anvil base, TOS parallel to the foot pedal bar when it’s in the “off” position. The foot pedal bar wraps around this, with about 4” clearance (from memory) between the two. This allows the operator to rest his/her toe on the step, and pivot the heal on to the control bar. Not only does this offer better balance while holding work w/ hands, standing on one foot, but it offers greater control by giving the foot a stationary reference, rather than floating in mid-air. I haven’t seen this feature on other hammers on-line.
Again, I have never operated any other power hammer, but it seems to me that this would make a difference.
Dave Leppo - Thursday, 06/14/07 07:23:17 EDT

maiers: I've done very little pattern-welded work, and none with that particular combination, so I can't say one way or the other with any authority. 1095 is a good, simple high-carbon steel and the 4340 is a medium-carbon, deep-hardening manganese tool steel, I think. At first blush, it wouldn't be my first choice for a steel to go with the 1095.

I'd go with what a number of successful makers have already done, since it works. Something like 1095 and L-6. There's apparently enough nickel in the L-6 to give good contrast, and the heat treating of the two is similar enough to work in the home shop. Again, I haven't tried this combination, but Dr. Jim Hrisoulas has, and he wrote the book on it.
vicopper - Thursday, 06/14/07 07:55:12 EDT

I'd go with 1095 and L6 as well. or 1095 and A203E.

Anvil price---where I used to live I'd try to get that anvil for US$1 a pound. Where I live now US$2 a pound would be considered a good price and if it was in great condition US$3 a pound is possible.

Where you live possession of an anvil is against the law and you should ship it to me with a hundred dollar bill and I'll never tell....

Thomas P - Thursday, 06/14/07 10:21:54 EDT

4340: Sorry the metallurgist is coming out - 4340 is a medium carbon nickel, chrome, molybdenum steel - .70 to .90 % Chrome, .60 to .80 % manganese, .20 to .30 % molybdenum, 1.65 to 2.00 % nickel, and .38 to .43 % carbon.

I agree with Thomas that L6 will give more contrast, just not enough nickel in 4340 to make a lot of difference.
- Gavainh - Thursday, 06/14/07 12:08:35 EDT

Vicopper, the only sustained noise that I have witnessed that exceeded the 2" Cv tests was when i was about 20' off to the side of a pair of F-4 Phantoms as they ran up to full afterburner for take off. And as it was at night, I could see the shock waves in the cones of flame that were about 20' long from each engine.
Short term, a tank gun, witnessed from about 45 degrees behind and to the side is probably the harshest assualt on the body. feels like a all over body slap. Especially the 152 mm in the M-551 Sheridians I worked on in the last century when once I was young.

For all the hammer builders, I am planning to gather upp all the extras I will not use when I build mine and bring them to Quad state for sale on my safety blue sales wagon.
ptree - Thursday, 06/14/07 21:02:03 EDT

jeez, they really changed up the sae system.
in my book 4340 should have 4% nickel and 40 percent carbon.

also im looking into buying an old style forge like what they had in a sears catalog, but it doesnt have as fire pot, not even a dip in the table. take alook for your self
- maiers - Thursday, 06/14/07 22:30:26 EDT

sorry that last post should say 3%
- maiers - Thursday, 06/14/07 22:41:14 EDT

What shape is the blower in? Do you live close enough to pick it up? That's a difficult shape to ship and cast iron is very fragile!

Looks like a nice forge for small stuff but the buy it now price + shipping looks to be quite a bit more than someone might dig up in that general region

Some forges are just a flat metal table with a tuyere in the middle you heap up the coal---fire bricks or large angle iron chunks can help you keep the fire localized.

Have you looked at a fore at any of the conferences?

I would sure like to see the bottom of that anvil; I'm not sure it's a PW myself---have to go out and look at mine in the daylight/

- Thomas P - Thursday, 06/14/07 22:59:46 EDT

I have an identical forge to that one sitting in the back room of my shop. I used to use it as a portable forge for demos. Not a bad forge, but it got old cranking the lever all day.
- Bernard Tappel - Thursday, 06/14/07 23:02:24 EDT

Thomas - It does appear to have the typical flats on the feet for a Peter Wright, but the heel seems a bit thinner than most Wrights.
Bernard Tappel - Thursday, 06/14/07 23:09:43 EDT

i found this little deal to, and im close enough to pick it up.but dont want both anvils, and i might pass on the forge.
- maiers - Thursday, 06/14/07 23:37:56 EDT

wow, not good on my fingers tonight.
heres the link
- maiers - Thursday, 06/14/07 23:38:49 EDT

confrences: what are confrences? are they in oregon?
- maiers - Thursday, 06/14/07 23:40:14 EDT

Conferences - CanIron: Maiers. See our NEWS page. We have coverage of dozens of Hammer-Ins and conferences over the past 10 years. They are everywhere if you LOOK. Try our Calendar of Events page for things coming up.

The next BIG conference coming up near you is CanIron. Click the link.

- guru - Friday, 06/15/07 01:12:57 EDT

Hammer Treadle:
Dave, Hammers vary greatly in this respect depending on the height of the treadle from the floor. Those with the treadle too high or needing long travel often need a foot rest. Most smiths have a block of wood near the hammer of a height to suit them.

I've needed a block or rest to get good control on a number of hammers.

You do not need one on the Big BLU. You can press the treadle with your heal on the ground without straining your foot. Both my NC-JYH and EC-JYH are the same and were designed to be that way. THAT is ergonomic design.

On the other hand, I have seen hammers with the treadle so far off the floor and needing so much travel that no block would do you any good. If you cannot stand well balanced on one foot while holding stock and tools in the famous kung-foo kid "crane" position then run the hammer you were out of luck. But these were old industrial hammers that are normally operated by a driver. SEE the image of Josh Greenwood running his "little red hammer". Look at how off the ground his foot is. . .

When you operate a great number of hammers you find that you need to learn to compensate for various control situations. Josh says that while his "little red" hammer is a bit extreme that in order to run various hammers you need to practice that balance, ESPECIALLY when using hand held tooling.

John's "rest" looks like a good place to get your foot caught under and not be able to get off the treadle. . . Not an idea I would think worth stealing.
- guru - Friday, 06/15/07 01:47:37 EDT

Dave, if you want to steal an idea, steal the treadle guard off the Big BLU. It is the only OSHA requirement that applies to these machines and Big BLU is the ONLY manufacturer to provide one. It is easy to do . . so why not?

The link below is to a power hammer anvil with treadle guard. Its for a machine I am designing and building.

Built-up anvil with guard
- guru - Friday, 06/15/07 02:15:38 EDT

Thank You: Guru, I apologize for posting the first ideas that pop into my head. I did not wish to cause a flurry of corrections, and will refrain from posting in the future, until I gain more knowledge and experience. This is a general comment on all of my postings on all three forums. I know that you are concerned with giving accurate info. I’ve gained much from reading. (Two ears and one mouth) Thank you.
Dave Leppo - Friday, 06/15/07 08:30:04 EDT

kung-foo kid crane position: ROFLMAO. That's funny
Tyler Murch - Friday, 06/15/07 10:44:39 EDT

Hammer Ergonomics, Dave: Dave, Your comment about working one footed was a valid one and one we all experience. I am sorry you took my rely the wrong way. I apologize.

Working while standing on one foot is a huge distraction when learning to use many power hammers and still a distraction when you are used to it. But it is like learning to ride a bicycle where you peddle, steer, balance and have to look up to navigate AND remember how to brake. . . much less have a goal of going somewhere. You may remember those moments of panic and sheer terror or remember seeing it in a child learning to ride. It is a lot like that. Most people have those moments of panic when first learning to use a power hammer.

The more a power hammer design forces you to raise your leg and foot the more you feel these moments of panic. The farther you lift that foot the more imbalanced you are. And the fact is, more hammers are this way than NOT.

So when you walk up to a hammer that you can operate with your toe and not be out of balance it is a joy.

When you combine this with well designed combo dies where you grip and guide the work with two hands the forging experience is much more pleasurable.

I still tend to work single handed at the power hammer. This is from years of doing hand work holding tongs with one hand AND using flat die tooling. But when I was watching Dean Curfman, Zeevik Gottlieb, and Uri Hofi work at the Big BLU I noticed that they used a number of two handed techniques that gave them very fine control of the work and allowed them to get MUCH MORE done per heat. Many of the beautifully detailed 3 dimensional elements produced on the Big BLU combination dies are made in ONE HEAT. Not two or four or six like on many other hammers. Starting and finishing in ONE HEAT means huge gains in productivity and fuel savings.

The two handed techniques include rotating the work smoothly as the hammer runs full speed. The tongs are locked to the work freeing both hands to hold and rotated short pieces. Thus long round tapers can be forged in less time. Smooth round shoulders can be formed in less than one heat.

The second two handed technique that I had not seen anywhere else (or remember) was Hofi's use of two pairs of tongs, one at 90 degrees to the axis of the work. This gives exceptionally fine control for working on fast aggressive dies such as working on the narrow side of the combo dies to pinch out corners and using the crown dies for detail work. The two sets of tongs gives you both angular control and resistance to the dies pushing the work around. It is not a technique that comes to you naturally. It must be practiced so you remember to use it and take advantage of it. It is a FANTASTIC technique.

There is real joy in learning to use the combo dies on a Big BLU. You can stand on both feet on the ground and work with both hands controlling the work piece.
This means you can work faster and be more productive.

If you want to try one out you can go to the Big BLU shop almost any time (with some warning) and they will let you work with one and show you how its done. If you want to do more than try one out take a class at the Power Hammer School

Dean Curfman likes to remind people that building the Big BLU is only half of his business. The other half is operating a profitable full time decorative iron shop with a half dozen employees.

They turn out truck loads of forged work every week. They have unbelievably short turn around times on high end forged all over architectural work, furniture and sculpture. All forged on Big BLU's using their off the shelf dies.

Every aspect of the BLU's is tested in this shop daily by more than one smith. Every change or new idea is tested for weeks or months before being accepted and put into production. The long hours of use also alert them to any problems that customers might have in the future. This is unique in the industry.

- guru - Friday, 06/15/07 11:13:33 EDT

I'm glad that my posts catalyze very informative responses from Guru and others. If I hadn’t broached the subject, the thread would have gone elsewhere. I appreciate the opinions of those with years of knowledge and experience, and they carry the weight of that knowledge. Finally, I appreciate the fact that even those with this knowledge and experience recognize that there is always more to learn. No apology needed..
Dave Leppo - Friday, 06/15/07 11:27:04 EDT

Colonial anvils: Has anyone else noticed the amount of colonial period anvils turning up lately? Ebay has about a half dozen or so listed at the moment, both horned and hornless. Several are the fifth foot model.
Bernard Tappel - Friday, 06/15/07 15:32:44 EDT

I think a combination of information (ie, Anvils in America) and high prices ($7500 collectors pieces) are bringing them out.

Friends who used to troll for smithing equipment in Pennsylvania years ago said they saw hundreds of them and had no interest in the "old clunkers" that were selling for pennies a pound.

- guru - Friday, 06/15/07 16:08:48 EDT

colonial anvils: there was only one or two decent colonials on ebay that i saw, the others had cracks a chips and one looked like a saw makers anvil with a horn welded on.
just make sure its a colonial anvil, not a colonial shaped anvil.

i dont know if i would buy somthing that expensive off ebay site unseen, go with the anvils you know about, trenton hay-budden peter wright etc.

somtimes you can find good deals on ebay, right now a guy is selling two trenton 100 pounders and a pw
113lb with a reserve of $200us each with free shipping.

- maiers - Friday, 06/15/07 17:05:23 EDT

Power hammer treadles: On my junk yard hammer, I have an extension that allows me to step back from the hammer for really long parts and comes off for normal use. Just lifts off. I set my treadle to allow heel on the floor and toe on the treadle or extension. much better control than with the foot in the air. Also less tiring. I have had several first timers use the hammer andput their foot on the treadle without any floor contact and have great troulbe in control. I show them the heel down on the floor and the control issue goes right away. I have used John Larson's Iron Kiss, and the toe rest is much better than foot in the air, but still prefer heel down best of all, and when I get to the hammer buying point, I will ask him for a heel down treadle. And since he is who he is, I feel certian he will be happy to make it up for me.
I have also used the Big Blu's and like the heel down on those as well.
But if some one wants to give me a 100# hammer I will take it as is:)
ptree - Friday, 06/15/07 17:05:27 EDT

I need a forge!!: i want an old table style one, but the only one i found was too expensive, can you guys help me out?

plus i just bought a 150lb anvil for 75 dollars he said it had a guys name on it so i suspect it a pw
- maiers - Friday, 06/15/07 18:29:37 EDT

Or William Foster
Thomas P - Friday, 06/15/07 19:28:51 EDT

lump charcoal: is lump charcoal real charcoal? is it good for smithing? can you weld with it?
- maiers - Friday, 06/15/07 19:33:22 EDT

Top tool hafts:
I bought a few "tomahawk" handles at the Santa Fe Trails Mountain Man Rendezvous in Raton, NM, this week. I paid $4 each, and I was thinking they would make good top tool hafts. Most of them are 19" long and made of ash or hickory. The end to enter the hatchet eye becomes gradually larger for the last 7" where it goes into an egg-like cross section. The rest of the haft is oval. I just installed one on an AT&SF* 3½" flatter that I traded for. I reversed the haft using the eye end for the handle...feels good. The other end required very little shaping to get a tight fit in the tool. The 19" length is ideal for getting your hand away from the heat. I don't wedge top tools, just hammer heads. These hafts, called "tomahawk handles" are available from

*Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe
Frank Turley - Friday, 06/15/07 19:37:48 EDT

Or Henry Wright, or Wm. Parker or Joseph Wilkinson or . . . .
Bernard Tappel - Friday, 06/15/07 19:45:04 EDT

bernard tappel: i might be interested in that forge in the back room of your shop.
- maiers - Friday, 06/15/07 19:51:43 EDT

maiers: Yes, lump charcoal is real wood charcoal, and you can forge, weld and cook with it. It was the primary fuel for forging for a thousand years or so, and is still used in many places around the world. Clean, hot and not smelly at all. Good stuff.
vicopper - Friday, 06/15/07 19:53:42 EDT

Handles: That's a nifty idea, Frank. The swelled head would make a nice grip, indeed. I'll have to remember that, though for a lot of my top tools I use broken shovel handles, etc.
vicopper - Friday, 06/15/07 19:55:08 EDT

I'm saving that one for the grandsons - sorry.
Bernard Tappel - Friday, 06/15/07 20:04:34 EDT

ah, thats alright, ill find one.
- maiers - Friday, 06/15/07 20:15:09 EDT

lump charcoal: thanks vicopper, i saw some at the market the other day and thought it might work. pretty cheep, i think it was 4 bucks for ten pounds.
- maiers - Friday, 06/15/07 20:19:47 EDT

Maiers, Building one of these is not that hard, especially if you start with a commercial fire pot, tuyeer and a good blower. You can buy the whole kit of part from BlacksmithsDepot or Centaur Forge for about what a good complete used forge with 100 years of rust on it will cost you (UNLESS YOU ARE VERY LUCKY).

Just put the parts together with the firepot setting in a big steel plate and put an edge around most of it and you are done. . . The plate and the steel for edging and legs may cost as much as the critical parts. But you can also use scrap or even wood. . . look at the "wheelbarrow" forge in the Forge and Anvil video review. Disk harrow (or disk plows) make good forge pans as well.

Using wood and those components you build the exact same thing except you make the box bigger and fill it with clay soil to insulate the wood from the heat. Cover the exposed edges with some sheet metal, seal the dirt with a clay and binder mix and you are ready to go. Some like this don't even have a firepot, they just have a depression in the dirt/clay fill.

Solid fuel forges are one of the most flexible and variable items in blacksmithing that ALL work fairly well.
- guru - Friday, 06/15/07 23:17:08 EDT

forge: well guru ive taken into thought making my own forge
(its still an option) but i dont have keys, my parents rarley drive me anywhere(it took me 2 weeks just to get them to take me to buy a handle) and buying a somewhat ready forge is much more economical for me, last time i checked centaur a firepot was $240 and a blower was $130 plus you need the steel for the table and you need a hood( its going to be inside) i would rather by an antique one for $260 built with blower and buy or make a hood.
- maiers - Saturday, 06/16/07 00:43:55 EDT

forge: not to be contraversial or anything
just would rather buy an old one
if i can
- maiers - Saturday, 06/16/07 00:45:41 EDT

Name on anvil: Hopefully, that guy's name isn't Madein China.
- Marc - Saturday, 06/16/07 07:52:48 EDT

Maiers, I understand that. But good ones are rarer than anvils and harder to move. Shipping can be significant due to the size and weight. The good deals require getting out and searching. You could be waiting a long time.

Colonial era anvils come in a variety of shapes. Many are quite ugly and probably older than the graceful ones that were probably made at Mousehole Forge on in that region.
- guru - Saturday, 06/16/07 10:41:10 EDT

Forges: Maiers....where are you located? Here in southern Illinois, there are still a few forges showing up at farm sales (althou a buddy of mine, the twisted smith, scrounged a lot of them 20 years ago & is hoarding them...). I watched a small buffalo forge (pump handle & quarter gear / flywheel to drive blower) sell for 75 dollars just 2 weeks ago. It had a crack in the pan, but with a strap patch & some clay, it will work just as good as any other.

I have 5 or 6 small forges that I'm going to fix up & tail gate at Quad state this year if I can stay focused long enough to get them done.
- Mike Sa - Saturday, 06/16/07 11:49:49 EDT

Forge & motives: Maiers....since you don't have a car, I assume your 14 or 15. Are your parent supportive of your interest in forging? What are your interestes in this trade? A lot of youngsters have grand ideas of making swords & armor....both which take quite a bit of practice & experience. Also, both are subjects which most parents don't usually support (pop will be saying "How will this help you in life...?"). If this is your situation, and you are truely interested in the craft, start with the basics first. Check out the I-forge section here & pick out simple projects with which to sell your hobby & gather support from your folks.

Another way to gain support is by "earning" it. Maybe doing more chores or being more involved in what goes around the house will help you (Actually, this helps a lot, no matter what your goals are).

- Mike Sa - Saturday, 06/16/07 12:00:05 EDT

I seem to recall you said you are in oregon.
The next NWBA conference is in Stevenson, which in the gorge, just across the bridge from Hood River. Almost Oregon.
I would suggest you go to it.
Hitchhike, take a bus, start early and ride your bike.
There will probably be forges for sale there- there usually are a couple in the tailgate section.
You will meet all kinds of blacksmiths from the northwest.
There is free instruction, hands on time with skilled teachers, as well as demos by experts.
It costs money, but its worth it.
- ries - Saturday, 06/16/07 12:24:44 EDT

Info on NWBA (NorthWest Blacksmiths Association)
- ries - Saturday, 06/16/07 12:25:42 EDT

Maiers: so get an old BBQ grill and line it with dirt and use some lump charcoal and a blowdrier and forge!

Or dig a hole in the ground and do the same---a chunk of black pipe helps get the air down to the bottom of the fire

You can get out and start forging or sit around complaining about not being able to find stuff to buy. Guess which one is more likely to impress your parents that you really do want to try this out?

Try to talk your parents into taking you to a conference or an ABANA chapter meeting; once they meet a few Dr's, Lawyers, rocket scientists all forging and notice that it's hard to tell them from the rest of us hobby smiths they may relax a bit.

I had a student in college whose parents were terrified he would drop out an become a knifemaker---if they had heard me telling him that a good job with benefits is probably the most important thing to have for someone who is just starting out as it pays for your equipment, classes, materials, "oopses" etc; they would have relaxed a bit; (BTW He's a metallurgist at a large forging company now and being a hobby smith helped him get that job!)

Get on the web and find those pics of a fellow forging kuhkri's using a hole in the ground for a forge and a sledge hammer head for an anvil and then go and do likewise!

Thomas P - Saturday, 06/16/07 12:53:48 EDT

I was talking to one of our guild members last night. He said he had to twist his daughter's arm to get her to put the smithing class she took on her college applications. Based on the interviews she had, they think it was a big factor in getting into several schools.
Mike BR - Saturday, 06/16/07 13:31:28 EDT

Picture showing essentials of modern smithing/knifemaking. See if you can spot the missing relevant safety equipment.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 06/16/07 15:28:22 EDT

Miles, I went to Youtube to see several forging vidies last night. I did see one pair of earplgs and not one set of protective eyewear, and I watched perhaps 5 new smiths as well as the several 100+ year ago scenes. Pitifull.
ptree - Saturday, 06/16/07 20:22:35 EDT

ptree-- well, they'll be damned sorry. Been meaning to report, the AO Safety Quicklatch mask you recommended is doing a fine job through a week or so of cutting, arc welding with 6011 (ewwww!) and grinding, all this through several layers of thick paint. Again, many thanks for the tip!!
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 06/16/07 20:41:21 EDT

Than Phu Village Blacksmith: Miles,

Frank Turley - Saturday, 06/16/07 21:46:46 EDT

You betcha, Frank. But there is yet more, in my opinion, anyway, the guy and his little helper ought to have. Check the next picture(s??) in the set. I forget how many. Also, dig Wendy's journal, too-- interesting stuff but not much if anything re" smiting, alas.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 06/16/07 22:42:05 EDT

I've contacted Wendy and asked permission to use the photos. We'll see. . . I have others but it is often hard to get permission to use them.
- guru - Saturday, 06/16/07 23:40:06 EDT

Jock-- It says on the Flickr site that the picture is public: "This photo is public "
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 06/17/07 00:29:21 EDT

me forging: well thank u guys for all the help.

i believe that im in the right direction. today i bought a small champion forge(20" pan) and blower for a hundred bucks, delivered free. its pretty .... hmm how would you say it, RUSTY. but 4 or five cans of wd-40 a wire wheel a motor and some new legs will make that thing burn like a champ.

yes my parents support me in smithing, ive bought all the necisary tools and i pay for cost, and they dont really care.

my interesterests in forging are mainly knife making
and anything else i can think of, like tools.
- maiers - Sunday, 06/17/07 00:34:02 EDT

Than Phu Village Blacksmith: Hey All,
Found this clip on YouTube last night
, thought I'd pass it along. Search for "Laotian Blacksmiths" if the URL pasted below doesn't work. Charlie

On a related note, I always take note and appreciate the smithing related changing photo posted in the upper left corner of Anvilfire's home page, but particularily like the photo of a portion of Jock's shop with a collection of his tools. I would love to see pictures of other peoples smithies/workspaces too, and would be happy to share some of my own. Any place here to put such a thing?
Charlie Spademan - Sunday, 06/17/07 08:35:15 EDT

Miles, do you the quick latch to go out and get a breather from time to time? From you description of past lifes activities, a few minutes of relaxed breathing every hour or so will have you less tired at the end of the day. Glad it is working out.
Got the sundials book from the library, to look through. I believe that it is a keeper, and will have to add a reference copy to my library at home. I think I will experiment with a small dial at home. Thanks for the tip.
ptree - Sunday, 06/17/07 09:03:35 EDT

Copyright: Miles, That means its available for the public to view. Above that is says (c) All Rights Reserved.

I could PROBABLY get away with using the photos like many other people do on the web but it IS copyright infringement and theft.

We have people do it to us all the time and it is a pain to track down. One "webmaster" even used our flaming anvil art in his customers LOGO! And I am sure you all remember Franki8acres stealing the Russian anvil photos and insisting they were HIS, THEN claiming they wer public, THEN saying "Who cares about a little anvil site. . " He eventually came back begging to have his name removed from the articles I wrote about him. But one creep used my entire anvil series on a freebie page hosted by Yahoo and then abandoned it. Yahoo would do nothing and profited from it for years. . .

I always ask. Folks on ebay almost always say yes. But I have yet to hear back from a single major publication.

There was a GREAT photo of a monkey in India cranking a blower for a blacksmith. The poor guy was being hounded by the Indian PETA types for "abusing" the monkey. Witnesses said the Monkey was well fed and seemed to like the work. I asked, never heard back, and have since probably lost the photo.

Some places charge fees to use their photos. I paid the Institute of Nautical Archaeology $100 to use that photo of the little Bronze Age swage block (link below). Its the only image I have paid specificaly for but I thought it was that important AND it was much cheaper than hopping a plane to Turkey to sneak a photo of the block.

Copyright and fees is why good copies of many book older than 1926 (which are out of copyright) are so high on the used book market. The contents are freely available to reprint in whole or in part.
- guru - Sunday, 06/17/07 09:33:27 EDT

Monkey Apprentice: OK, clearly I am not using my free time to best advantage, but I decided to see how difficult it was to track down the above mentioned "monkey picture". A smith with the website turned up in a Google image search, thought it might be the same one.
Charlie Spademan - Sunday, 06/17/07 10:07:55 EDT

Copyright law allows for "fair use" of copyright material any time I please in journalistic or scholarly, etc. publications. This allows the free exchange of ideas that makes our nation the free and open society it is, yakkity, etc., etc. Probably better safe than sorry, and get permission first, but it would be interesting to know whether visually quoting Wendy's snap on Anvilfire for the edification of the brethren (and any sistern, too) would not qualify as a journalistic use of the picture. Of course, the publisher, not moi, gets sued if the author thinks I am wrong. Get me Johnny Cochran, at home!
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 06/17/07 10:08:39 EDT

Johnny Cochran: Miles: better check out where Johnny resides now...
Charlie Spademan - Sunday, 06/17/07 10:12:13 EDT

ptree-- Thanks again! I am using the mask a lot but not constantly. And I take it off the instant i am done with the grinding, cutting, welding at hand. The book, by the way, for the audience at home, is Sundials by a gent name of Waugh, Dover Press. Wonderfully informative re: building all sorts of dials.
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 06/17/07 10:16:28 EDT

Southeast Asian smithing: Miles & All,

I was just hoorawin' about the "shoes" response. Of course, we would love to project our safety ideas and values upon another cultural group. Not too likely, except over a looong period of contact time.

Putting the shoe on the other foot, how many of us can hunker without rocking forward on our tiptoes? How many of us are "craftsmen of necessity" working in sweltering heat day after day? How many of us scavenge for most of our steel?

It would be quite a site to see S.E. Asian smiths hunkering in hard hats, safety goggles, gauntlets, aprons, and brogans.

Monkey cranking a blower brings to mind the organ grinder of old. That's quite a reversal. The grinder with the crank was the man, and the monkey had the tin cup.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 06/17/07 10:19:29 EDT

Declaration of intent: I merely wanted, amid all this ever-so earnest discussion of Rockwell and Brinell, etc. and ball bearing rebound qualities, and cast vs. solid steel, etc. of anvil surface, and angular momentum of hammer heads, and cross-pein vs. straight pein (less wind resistance on the latter, thunk at least one early smith), to show all that is REALLY necessary. Wendy's snap presents a working smith getting it on with literally the bare minimum. However, in this venue I didn't want to encourage corner-cutting on safety, neither. A thousand pardons. As for Johnny, his spirit will always be with us, RIP. Just ask O.J.
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 06/17/07 11:47:22 EDT

bellows: For the Y1K types. I'm thinking of making a pair of single action bellows and am wondering what sort of intake valves you would use. The trapdoor type, or a reed type (the best way I can describe it is like the ones in fireplace bellows)or something else?
JimG - Sunday, 06/17/07 12:38:54 EDT

Young folks and blacksmithing: From Thomas P post of 6/16..."I had a student in college whose parents were terrified he would drop out an become a knifemaker---if they had heard me telling him that a good job with benefits is probably the most important thing to have for someone who is just starting out as it pays for your equipment, classes, materials, "oopses" etc; they would have relaxed a bit; (BTW He's a metallurgist at a large forging company now and being a hobby smith helped him get that job!)"

The skills learned/used in smthing just have to be a lot more applicable to life and other work than video games. LOL

When I was young, I lucked into the chance to learn farriery. I was then introduced to and developed an interest in blacksmithing. My father thaught it was all sort of a waste other than as a hobby but I made a pretty good living until years later when I went back to school and became an engineer.

Fast forward another 16 years and with corporations reorganizing and moving manufacturing out of the country, I'm back to making a living as a full time farrier. I love to make blades, candle holders, fireplace sets, you name it but I get paid real money for forging shoes.

Looking back, I can say a couple of things. First, many of the skills and attitudes applied in blacksmithing are not at all different from those I applied as an engineer or in other aspects of life.

Second, in my case and even though I would only consider myself a novice/hobby blacksmith, many of those skills have directly contributed to my ability to earn a living and have more choices about how and where I do it. I've even managed to sell a few forged items other than horse shoes.

I've wasted plenty of time and resources in my life but, in one way or another, every single second that I have spent in front of a forge has been worth while. Some of the items I forge and all of the lessons learned forging them have proven to have real value.

Mike Ferrara - Sunday, 06/17/07 12:51:51 EDT

forge repair: Questions

1. when using a clinker breaker, do i need a grate?

2. the blower needs a motor, what rpm should the fan run at? i was thinkin 1725rpm
- maiers - Sunday, 06/17/07 16:02:01 EDT


With a clinker breaker typetuyere, you do not need or want a grate. The best clinker breakers, the triangular kind, allow you to change the airflow from concentrated to diffuse, depending on which wayt he triangle is oriented. If you put in a grate, you defeat that feature.

The blower motor should be the same rpm as the original. If old, it may have been only an 800 rpm motor and running the blower at 1725 might smoke the bearings.

Please note that I, and most who post here, use proper punctuation and capitalization in our posts. This is not a chat room, and text without capitalization, or text messaging shorthand is hard for us old geezers to read.
vicopper - Sunday, 06/17/07 18:49:08 EDT

forge repair: Well, originally the forge was a pump style that was converted to electric, the old motor is dead.

Secondly I took apart the blower housing and the fan blades a rusted through and through.
I got some 24 ga. steel and am in the process of making new ones. but im open to suggestions.
- maiers - Sunday, 06/17/07 20:38:15 EDT

Now to use you math training, You know, what you thought, "I'll never use that" stuff.
If the old forge was a lever type, you will need to reverse engineer the speed it was intended to run at. Figure the rate you would pump the lever, and then figure the speed of each component to deduce the fan speed.
I know from checking that my little Buffalo Forge rivet forge has about 8 to 1 speed increase from the hand crank. Turning it as fast as I do to start the fire I make about 60 rpm, and the fan would then turn about 480 rpm. Seeing as the bearings are simple brass bushings, to overspeed is to destroy in these little mechanisms. Oil is needed and will drip out the bottom of the fan gear case if so equipped. Designed to. And if starved for oil the bearings will be toast in a couple of hours or less.
ptree - Sunday, 06/17/07 20:48:34 EDT

forge repair: well the bearings arent brass, the shafts on the fan are conical and when they installed them at the factory they poured a mystery metal into the hole a shoved the shaft in there while it was still hot.
- maiers - Sunday, 06/17/07 21:17:06 EDT

BABBITT BEARNGS: Maiers, Those are babbitt bearings. Babbitt is a tin/lead or other tin bearing alloy that is poured directly around the shaft, OR a mandrel and use as-is OR sometimes machined.

Check our collective review of Machinery's Handbook, look for when the last copy still had good babbitting information and buy a copy through

See our Getting Started article about books and references.

Part of rebuilding old machinery is KNOWING old machinery and machine shop methods and skills. Machinery's Handbook is just ONE reference to get you started along that path. Look for other Machine shop text books and manuals. The older the better for this type of maintenance and repair.

Machinery's Handbook
- guru - Sunday, 06/17/07 21:39:44 EDT

forge repair: so being that these are babbit bearings what speed could i run it at? the bearings are in good condition
and the fan turns smoothly, theres a spot for either oil or grease on the bearings. i might thread the inlets for a zerks or a grease cup i have laying around.
- maiers - Monday, 06/18/07 00:10:37 EDT

forge repair: just for further reference there are NO gears in this blower.
- maiers - Monday, 06/18/07 00:12:45 EDT

maiers: Those babbit bearings should be lubricated with a steady drip of oil from an oiler. If You were hand pumping the mechanism that originally turned that blower You would stop if the bearings started to get dry, but the motor will keep on running and ruin the bearings. Oil & plenty of it, and keep the speed low as ptree suggested, You should be OK.
- Dave Boyer - Monday, 06/18/07 04:19:08 EDT

Speed of Babbitt bearings:
That depends on the shaft smoothness, fit and lubrication. It is a little known fact that 99.9% of all automobile engines run on babbitt coated bronze backed plain bearings.

If the forge is old then the shafts are probably rusted and were worn prior to the rust. To work properly they may need to be remachined round and smooth and new bearings fitted.

These forges came with both hand operation (numerous types) and small motors. Maximum RPM of the original blower was around 800 RPM when everything was new, tight and in good condition but was operated much slower most of the time. This assumed proper lubrication which meant OIL daily at a minimum and every couple hours of use is run constantly. This is the norm for all old machinery. Never, convert an oil lubricated device to grease or vice versa. Get an oil can.

All the forges with the little built in or attached blowers with babbitt bearings were light duty forges intended for occasional farm use. It will probably hold up to hobby use but don't try to heat anvil sized pieces in it.

See all posts above including the reference to machine shop references.
- guru - Monday, 06/18/07 09:50:06 EDT

Y1K; well if you really want to do Y1k bellows may I commend to your attention: "Divers Arts" written by Theophilus around 1120 CE and containing explicit instructions on bellows building---both for metal working and for use in pipe organs. It's cheap and easy to find in a Dover reprint with C.S.Smith as one of the translators----a big name in historical metals!

Thomas P - Monday, 06/18/07 11:40:28 EDT

The Incredible Shrinking Forge Building: As the house proceeds, the scope of the new forge building diminishes. Ah well; now it looks like 12’ X 24’, with a separate shed for woodwork.

Anyway, at this point I am a little confused over the roof. The old stripping shed has the galvanized metal roofing directly attached to the purlins. So, if I substitute plywood instead of purlins, would it then be rafters, plywood, tar paper, and metal? Or, for the sake of durability, does anybody do rafters, purlins, plywood, tar paper, and metal? I definitely want the metal roof, both to fit in with existing structures and to provide some extra spark resistance for the stack area.

Your responses, as always, are much appreciated.

Still recovering from our adventures at Sail Virginia in Norfolk. Tom C. has posted a nice picture of me (with a mouth full of bourbon chicken, alas) posing in front of the faering near the U.S.S. Wisconsin in the photo album “across the street.” This was my day out of medieval clothing, so I’m wearing my Anvilfire hat.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli)li - Monday, 06/18/07 13:50:21 EDT

bellows: Well I should have said Y1Kish bellows, I don't have access to freshly killed Rams for the skin, and that valving using the boards and opening and closing them manually seems more work to use.(me being lazy and all)The bellows I was thinking of are more like the ones in the carving of Sigurd on the Ramsund rock in Sweden. Which look like the ones Theophilus has on the organs, and the copper flap valve is a good idea in that it's light. But I'm looking for some practical advice from some one who has actually made and used single action bellows.
JimG - Monday, 06/18/07 15:14:00 EDT

Roof structure:
Bruce, if you sheath it you need to use something heavier than 1/2" plywood. I did that. . . It worked. The problem is it takes some serious force to nail through the tin. The plywood flexes, the nails don't penetrate and they fly off into space! It made nailing down the tin a long painful task. But the problem might have been the same due to the type of tin.

Screws are better but may take more than 1/2" (now the under "nominal" 15/32") material to anchor to properly. So purlins are probably better. I would have used both but you are on a budget. I would spend my money on insulation instead.

- guru - Monday, 06/18/07 15:14:07 EDT

Roof: Alti, if it was me doing the roof, I would go rafters, plywood, not bother with the tarpaper, and then 1x4 strips on the plywood to screw the metal roof to. This gives an airspace between the tin and the roof sheathing. I don't know what advantage the tar paper would be.
JimG - Monday, 06/18/07 15:18:33 EDT

OK I'll dig my set out from under the bench and fight off the blackwidows and see what I used; built them for a Y1K Irish Living history group I played with but is not 1500 miles away...

Bag Bellows are a bit earlier than Y1K from my research.

Thomas P - Monday, 06/18/07 15:24:37 EDT

Bellows: Jim, I built a great double bellows and used it daily for 5 years then off and on for another 5. Thirty years later they are still in use.

Wooden valves are opened by air pressure and closed by gravity and held by air pressure.

In my bellows there were 4 intake holes 3" in diameter. The valve flaps were made of a rubberized multi-layer canvas material about 1/32" thick. It was scrap someone had given me. The alternative would be soft leather with thin wood plates just a little larger in diameter than the holes, the leather overlapping the edges of holes at least 1/2". The key is light weight and flexible.

I built my valves in a separate board that screwed to the bottom of the bellows. This was for maintenance of the valves or for reaching inside the bellows. The valves with their synthetic material are still working 30 years later. However, they have been removed twice to patch the leather in recent years.

As a double chambered bellows there were two sets of valves. The second internal set only had two holes due to the higher pressure differential. Their board would remove through the first.

An important item missing in many bellows designs is to make some kind of a cage or stop so that the valves do not get flipped over. If that happens then it is hard on the valves or they can get damaged. I have seen double chambered bellows with the middle valves flopped over, stuck and inaccessible. . . A simple heavy wire bar over the valves will do the trick.

Note that almost all single action bellows were used in pairs working at opposite times. The nozzles are not connected but are close together and blow into a larger open pipe. This does several things. The typical long narrow nozzles produce a high velocity air jet that prevents suction back into the other that is on its intake. The lack of closed connection to the tuyeer prevents sucking hot air and gases back into the bellows at low operation.

This is a detail unseen in most illustrations and not written about by the authors that never actually built and installed bellows.
- guru - Monday, 06/18/07 15:50:43 EDT

More bellows: Many are built too heavy and with too little leather. This results in too fast an air blast and short (tiring pumping). A long smooth stroke of of 30" is best. I found the weight of a top and middle board of 3/4" (1" nominal) pine shelving worked fine. When the fire was clogged a hammer could be tossed on the bellows to increase pressure but this was a rare occasion.

Note that the pump stroke can be adjusted with your lever length and pivot point. However, it is usually somewhere in the 60:40 to 50:50 range.

Those designs with the 2" thick poplar boards are easier to nail into but require a counterweight system to reduce the pressure of the air blast.
- guru - Monday, 06/18/07 16:01:34 EDT

yankee go home: Im planning a trip with the mrs. heading south...i plan on stoping in ashville N.C., lexington KT and maybe tennesee. Anyone know where i can score a iron fix in them parts? Old Estates, farm museums, old outhouse with a wrought toilet seat, anything would work. thanks!
- coolhand - Monday, 06/18/07 16:56:02 EDT

Coolhand, Ashville is the home of Phoenix Hammers and Kayne and Son are just outside Asheville in Candler. Just down the hill if you are taking I40 is Morganton and Big BLU Hammers. We are about 45 minutes North of the intersection of I40 and I77 (to Charlotte). The Power Hammer School is just a few miles off I77 at Mooresville just North of Charlotte.

I can see your wife's eyes rolling now!
- guru - Monday, 06/18/07 17:06:06 EDT

Blower: Maiers,

I assume you've looked for an RPM plate on the old motor? If it's an induction motor and the plate's missing, you should be able to figure out the RPM by examining the windings and doing a little research. Of course, there's no guarantee that the old motor was the right speed (or *necessarily* that it ever operated the blower).
Mike BR - Monday, 06/18/07 17:10:59 EDT

Atli's Roof: Bruce,

The way to go, for storm country, and which is the code-approved way for Dade county and other hurricane areas, is:

Rafters, 3/4" plywood or OSB sheathing, tarpaper, 2x4 purlins on 32" centers, then the corrugated galvanized roofing metal. The metal is affixed with screws, not nails.
vicopper - Monday, 06/18/07 17:41:58 EDT

Roofinig, n.b.: Bruce,

I neglected to add that my preference is for the purlins on 24" centers, and that I always use healthy beads of PL-500 orequivalent construction adhesive between the sheathing and the rafter before nailing. I use 2-1/2" ring-shank galvanized nails in a nail gun for the sheathing, which greatly speeds up the work. Nail @ 3"oc on the seams and 6"oc in the fields. The roofing metal is screwed on through every third corrugation, using rubber-washered roofing screws, and at the ridge and eave purlins, the screwing is on every other corrugation.

I've built or helped to build several roofs this way, and they've all withstood category 4 hurricanes just fine.
vicopper - Monday, 06/18/07 17:47:44 EDT

Guro I once corresponded with a fellow who wrote a book on ancient furnaces about that very thing. He had mentioned that some furnaces did have the offset bellows but ascribed it to wanting a venturi effect and calculated that it wouldn't do much. Having used a set of single action bellows without a check valve I *knew* that it worked very well to geep drom drawing in small bits of burning charcoal into the bellows where they would burn very well.

It did take some pumping skill to make sure that the output of one would cover for the input of the other; usually not a trouble in use but starting would sometimes require stair stepping them in increments until you got the full expansion.

Experimental archeology can sometimes give one insights on the why of pesky little details.

Thomas P - Monday, 06/18/07 18:06:18 EDT

Coolhand's trip: In Lexington, KY. Check out the old historical homes in the Gratz Park section around the old public library for possible metal work sightings. Take a ride across Iron Works Rd. off of Rt. 68 and view the gates on some of the horse farms. Make sure to see the ones at Spindletop Hall, an old farm that now belongs to U.K..
- Brian C. - Monday, 06/18/07 18:38:52 EDT

Coolhand's trip: Coolhand, About 20 minutes south of Lexington, just off I-75 id Berea, home of Berea college, and more craft shops than you can imagine. Berea has an unusual tution, that you work in the school shops or farm. Lots of high quality crafts and lots of the folks stay after school. Jeff Farmer is from Berea, and has a shop there as far as I know.

Lexington is indeed cool, especially Gratz park and the nearby John Hunt Morgan home. (My distant uncle) Paris Pike has many neat gates and miles of drylaid stone fence. If coming up I-75 take the Paris Pike exit to lexington and enjoy the ride into town. While there Joe B's Pizza is a local favorite.
ptree - Monday, 06/18/07 19:00:03 EDT

Coolhand's trip:: Jeff,

Perhaps we could do a tag team travelog (SP) on the central KY promised land. :)
- Brian C. - Monday, 06/18/07 19:13:13 EDT

Brian C,
I spent 1977 to 1981 in Lexington KY, and spent almost every weekend at the infamous Lackey International Airport half way between richmond and Berea, skydiving and jumpmastering and flying the jump plane. Great memories, and I even remember something about going to school during that time:)
Much family in Lexington and Nichlesville. Sister and Brother-in law had a house in Gratz park for awhile. I also worked on the old houses along third and fourth st near Trans'y.
And i liked Mama Mia's better, but the are defunct:(
ptree - Monday, 06/18/07 20:09:59 EDT

forge repair: the blades on the fan are rusted out, one of them was good enough to save but the others were gone,
right now im using the one good one as a template and am making new ones out of 24 ga. steel.
any suggestions?

regarding the motor onit, im going to use a 1725 i have laying around then make a pulley system for it
unless there are 800rpm motors that are cheap?
- maiers - Monday, 06/18/07 23:11:39 EDT

Maiers: Low speed motors are hard to find and seldom cheap. 1725 & 3450 RPM are common. You won't need much belt tension to drive it, so for the sake of the possibly less than perfect blower bearings, don't overdo the tension.
- Dave Boyer - Monday, 06/18/07 23:41:08 EDT

Blower Pulleys: As Dave noted, you shouldn't need much tension on the pulleys, but don't make them too small. Use at least a 2" on the motor and a 4" on the blower, so yo have sufficient belt contact area to get power transfer without much blet tension. Better still to go to 4" on the motor and 8" on the blower. Of course, that's based on yielding a 1:2 reduction ratio. If you need a lower blower speed, adjust the ratio accordingly.
vicopper - Monday, 06/18/07 23:50:45 EDT

Fan repair: If you are making new fan blades they should ALL be replaced. The reason is balance. They need to be carefully cut and trimmed to as close as identical as possible and mounted as identical as possible.

THEN the assembly needs to be checked for balance. Resting the (assumed to be smooth) shaft on level knife edges the part is rotated and let stop. It should randomly stop at any point, not always with one heavy side down. If out of balance you punch a hole and add a rivet or screw. PRIOR to doing this you can test the added weigh using tape to hold it in place.
- guru - Tuesday, 06/19/07 08:59:16 EDT

The problem on this blower is that it probably has a very small pulley that was designed to operate from a large one the speed up the blower. Now the operation needs to be reversed.

Your best bet is to make a "back shaft". This is a seperate reduction system that is then belted to the one you have. You can use common V-belts on the back shaft but will probably need a flat belt to go to the blower. Note that the back shaft must carefully be setup parallel to the blower shaft.

I love is when the the first thing out of folks mouth is "Its in great shape". Then proceed to need to rebuild everything. . .
- guru - Tuesday, 06/19/07 09:05:09 EDT

Lexington: ptree, I lived in Lexington from '55 - '78. Mamma Mia's was across the street from Dad's orthopaedic shop. We ate there often. Remember that I and my first mistake (I meant ex-wife) were at EKU some of the the same time as your bride
Brian C - Tuesday, 06/19/07 09:34:07 EDT

Coolhand's trip: Yankee go home is a very valid sentiment in these parts (upper east Tennessee) since so many of y'all come through, see how nice it is, move here, and then proceed to try to turn it into what you left up north. (grin!) Just like every other nice place place to live, eh?

Anyway, to get to the point: If you come through Knoxville, TN, be sure to stop at the Museum of Appalachia 20 miles north of Knoxville on I-75 on your way back to Kentucky. Be sure you pronounce the word correctly, "apple-atcha" as in I'll throw an apple at you if you persist in trying to make it sound like the French word "Appellation" which means "name." The mountains were named from the same Native American root as the city of Appalachicola, Florida. You wouldn't say AppaLAYchicola, so don't mispronounce us either! Dagnab Noah Webster and his highfalutin' yankee word book, anyway...

-end of rant-

Seriously, please do come down and enjoy. Just be sure to go home. ('nother big ol' grin and a tongue sticking out!)
Alan-L - Tuesday, 06/19/07 14:31:33 EDT

yankee: i cant wait to bring my northern stubborness down there. Im excited for the trip, gonna leave in three weeks. the wifes eyes wont roll to bad she is used to it, well maybe if i try to drag a power hammer home with me she might. thanks for the spots to check out.
coolhand - Tuesday, 06/19/07 16:06:23 EDT

Just remember that in the true south folks will be polite to you until they are angry enough to kill you---save perhaps for my paternal great grandmother who could cuss like a stevedore according to family oral history. IIRC her husband had fought in the Civil War as a drummerboy.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 06/19/07 20:45:27 EDT

Welding helmets: My old Sellstrom just isn't doing it's job anymore. Hornell/speedglas 9002x, Jackson NexGen are on my short list, but I'm open to suggestion. I kinda like Miller's headgear though...Anybody have any strong preferences they'd like to share, and the reason why?
Charlie Spademan - Tuesday, 06/19/07 21:49:20 EDT

Note from Norfolk Tall Ships Event: While I was off duty in Norfolk during our recent viking expedition, I passed by the Colonial Village, part of the display celebrating Virginia's 400th Anniversary. (Oddly enough, my grandparents went to the Grand Exposition in Norfolk, celebrating the 300th anniversary in 1907.) I was immediately attracted to the blacksmithing display as they labored in the 110 degree heat index. This was a presentation by the Tidewater Blacksmiths Guild. There were some "modern" hand-cranked forges, but also some really nice colonial period reproduction anvils and tools. Joel Thompson of the Virginia Medieval Arts Association (which was helping us with our faering boat display) even supplied a modified Y-1-K forge that fit in very well.

The president of the guild extended his greetings when I identified myself, and then complemented Jock (and, by extension, all the other contributors) and stated that the Anvilfire site was a major force in preserving the art of blacksmithing. He said it was both useful for general reference and the place where they sent all of the beginners and "wannabes" first to get a good grasp of what was involved in the craft.

Nice to know that this site is having an impact out there.

Hot, humid, but T-storms on the way to the banks of the lower Potomac. I think I'll sign-off and unplug the computer.

Tidewater Blacksmiths Guild
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 06/19/07 23:28:21 EDT

Helmets: I love my NexGen, except for the headgear, which constantly had to be tightened. I took the headgear out of my really old Jackson fixed lens helmet and swapped it in. All good, now.

If you do TIG welding, get a helmet with multiple sensors, for sure.
vicopper - Tuesday, 06/19/07 23:35:59 EDT

Nothing moves faster than the speed of light, right? Soooo, how can those sensors respond to the flash of a welding arc in time to darken the lens before some of those pesky photons get through, and not only through, but onto and into my sensitive, vulnerable, helpless, retinas? Hmmmmmm? Anybody seen a solid ophthalmological analysis of whether and how well these gizmos actually work in medical terms? I would like to (haha pun coming) see it. (The docs I have talked with, and I have talked with several real honest-to-God eyeball-type M.D.s, have never heard of welding helmets much less auto-darkeners.) Curious in Tesuque.
- Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 06/20/07 00:16:21 EDT

Curious in Tesuque: Photons will always get to your retinas, else you wouldn't be able to see at all. The objective is to limit the amount of them that get there for any given period of time. Good auto helmets do that.

vicopper - Wednesday, 06/20/07 01:48:38 EDT

Miles: According to My Mom blindness results form activities unrelated to welding... There have been people using these things 40+ hours a week for the last 10 years and they ain't blind yet. What does it take to make a beliver out of You?
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 06/20/07 02:22:54 EDT

Auto-lenses: It's the UV, and a long exposure to it, that hurts the retinas. Not only do the auto helmets shut down the light intensity pretty quickly, the lenses themselves block most of the UV with or without the auto-darkening. The darkening provides more comfort to let you see what you're doing.
- Marc - Wednesday, 06/20/07 07:52:15 EDT

Just thought I'd add a little to my post above asking for welding hood opinions; My sellstrom helmet still functions, though it is about 10 years old. Either it's response time has slowed, or my eyes have become more sensitive as of late. Either way, newer lenses have a much quicker response time than the one I own, and I notice that the newer lenses are a couple of shades lighter when in their on-but-inactive state. Though I used a fixed shade welding helmet for many years, I'd have a real hard time now going back to one full-time. All lit I've read seems to support what Marc posted

Oh.., Dave Boyer; using WHAT thing 40 hours a week for 10 years? ;)
Charlie Spademan - Wednesday, 06/20/07 08:13:32 EDT

Yankee go home: Alan L, funny I remember the native born sons & daughters of Mine having a similar opinion of folks from Massachusetts for pretty much the same reasons you stated - seeing how nice it was, moving there, and then proceeding to turn it into what they'd left :)

From another nataive of Appalachia - just a bit further north in Western PA.
- Gavainh - Wednesday, 06/20/07 12:12:21 EDT

Miles ammount of exposure factors a lot into damage calcs too.

It was 91 degress at 10:15 last night, felt pretty good with a slight breeze. Gonna have to refrigerate my insulin pump though...

Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/20/07 12:41:55 EDT

Morph, You had an interest in the colonial anvil and if you still do, i have listed on ebay
- tony - Wednesday, 06/20/07 14:22:02 EDT

I had one of the early auto darkeners and did not like it. The fact that I saw enough light before it darkened to give me floating "flash bulb" type spots made it too distracting to use. I decided it was better to get flashed once in a while than every time I struck an arc.

I understand that new helmets are much faster but I would have to try one before I bought it.
- guru - Wednesday, 06/20/07 15:15:40 EDT

Helmets: Not only are the newer ones considerably faster, but the good ones like my NexGen, the Miller elite, and others at the high end of the spectrum have multiple sensors so they react to bad-angle arc flash and low-current arcs. My NexGen will sense the light from the TIG torch when operating at only 5 or 10 amps, something the cheapos just can't do.

For anyone considering a good auto-darkening helmet, I suggest going to your local welding store and trying one out. The good ones cost between two and three hundred bucks (and up), so you should really know you're going to like it and not just have an expensive shelf ornament. I don;t have that luxury here in the middle of nowhere, but I got a helmet that suits me well based on a bunch of studying. Try before you buy is still way better with something as personal as a helmet.
vicopper - Wednesday, 06/20/07 16:22:57 EDT

i like my speedglas, moocho. no complaints (though i am not a pro.)

colonial anvil, will keep an eye on it.

what is mike boone doing lately? does he have a functioning website? does anyone know what treadle hammer he used in a demo, in '97 i think, that was taped/vhs?
- morph - Wednesday, 06/20/07 17:10:06 EDT

Auto dark helments: I first tried one many years ago in the boiler shop. Thought it was very neat but the price was out of my range then , and I blinked every time I struck an arc from reflex.
About 6 years ago HF had a $39 cheapie on sale and I bought one on the spur of the moment. Used it had for about 4 years, and when it died, I moved up to a nicer Jackson. Bigger window and better speed and sensors.
When we recently equipped the entire maintenance dept, I studied the available market hard and we looked at samples. The Nexgen won out and at $253 each were a bargain. We bought 9 at once and so got a bit better price.
I have studied the available lit, and have not found any credible health issues from these helments. The test results show protection even if not dark, they do allow a light wavelenght thru that will dazzle, but not hurt.
I can't imagine being without one now.
And Miles, If you get the low profile pancake filters for that quicklatch, it will fit under most hoods. Not the really close fit new styles but most.
ptree - Wednesday, 06/20/07 18:58:56 EDT

Hurricane roof: If the purlins are on 2' centers (2x4s?), what are the rafters on and what gage of steel roofing? Seems like the heaviest they sell around here is 26ga. . . Of course I don't think a hurricane has ever made it this far inland, at least 'till you start talking on a geological time scale. . . On the other hand, buildings built to hurricane standards stand up to tornadoes much better than conventionally built ones.

Sun shine and 86 degrees in Northeast Kansas.
- John Lowther - Wednesday, 06/20/07 19:23:19 EDT

roofs: Around here, shed & barn roofs are usually 26ga on 2x4 purlins 4' on center. The purlins are nailed down with ring shank nails. The tin with rubber gasketed ring shank nails or sometimes screws. Short of a direct tornado hit they stand up well.
We do get lots of thunderstorms, and the occasional tornado, but thank God no hurricanes.
ptree - Wednesday, 06/20/07 20:42:45 EDT

Charlie Spademan: Using the auto darkening hood, of course.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 06/20/07 21:06:03 EDT

Roofing: Down here in Hurricane Alley, we require 2x4 minimum purlins, 32"o.c., and screws are required to affix the Galvalume roofing. Every third corrugation in the field, and every other on the ridges and eaves. The purlins, if you're cautious like me, are 24" o.c., glued down to the sheathing with PL-500 or equivalent, then nailed with 3 16d galvanized nails at each rafter. The nails are not ringshank, but are driven in at angles to compound the withdrawal resistance. (Ringshanks tend to shed their galvanizing when shot in, and rust out in a year, I've found.)

When I build a house, I use copious quantities of PL-500 construction adhesive. It is cheap and effective, roughly doubling the shear resistance of walls and roofs. I glue all sheathing to studs and rafters. I have a cheapie pneumatic caulking gun that will run nice beads all day long without a cramp. A good $25 investment.

With the adhesive and a rigorous nailing schedule (3" seams and 6" fields), the chord height of the structural members is increased slightly and the shear resistance goes up 200% or so over no glue and light nailing. My PE tells me that there is no advantage to screwing the sheathing, as screws are usually not nearly as strong as nails in shear, and the glue takes care of nagging little withdrawal issues. :-)

Hurricanes, particularly big ones like Hugo and Marylin, frequently spawn tornadoes. I've seen two virtually identical houses side by side where one was destroyed completely and the other nearly untouched, which certainly suggests tornadic damage rather than the wide-area, straight-line hurricane winds.

The houses I've built have withstood hurricanes (Cat 4) without damage while the neighbors were damaged heavily. Building ALL walls and roof panels as shear panels is what makes the difference. Most roofs are destroyed by wracking, which loosens fasteners and opens membranes. Prevent the wracking and the structure stays intact. A side benefit is that shear wall, properly anchored to foundation, give seismic durability, too. That counts down here, as we're a seismic zone 4, same as San Francisco. Plan ahead.
vicopper - Wednesday, 06/20/07 21:54:55 EDT

I'd like to hear or read a genuine honest-to-God long-term study by genuine honest-to-God boarded diplomates of thr Amnerican College of Ophthalmology or whatever the trade union calls itself on whether the damned things work and work safely in the long haul. I can weld just fine now with an old-fashioned helmet. Why take a chance? Mainly, why lay out all that bread? This is a murky subject with a lot of voodoo and not much solid info from what I can haha see.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 06/21/07 01:02:20 EDT

Auto-darkening hood safety: Hi Miles, After your post above, wondering if there have been any solid ophthalmological analysis, I realized that it was a question I had never considered; so, as inquiring minds want to know, I Googled the daylights out of it and came up with....nothing. I can find loads of opinions from industry people supporting their use, but no reference from ANY source that long term use has contributed to eye damage of any kind. I have to think that if it was even a minor hazard, there would be posts or rants about them somewhere, but I found none. BTW, I like to play a search engine game, of sorts, where I see how quickly I can find esoteric information on the Web. One of the first times I challenged myself to this, I decided to look for the proper filler rod or material for CorTen. Guess where it led me? Here! Thats how I discovered this site, before deciding to focus on blacksmithing.
Charlie Spademan - Thursday, 06/21/07 07:36:44 EDT

Charlie-- reminds me of the old Reader's Digest joke about the guy who realized how much time he'd wasted in the library before he learned the difference between esoteric and erotic. I have faxed specs from US Steel re: Corten here somewhere if it hasn't faded. Maybe it says something re: rods. I'll look.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 06/21/07 11:59:13 EDT

Power caulking guns: A year or so ago, I got to a point in a painting/repair project where I just couldn't manage to squeeze another shot of caulk out of the manual gun. (It took my hands MONTHS to quit twinging.) So, I went looking for a pneumatic one to buy or rent and found none. Wound up dropping a C note for an electric one. Even at 4x the price, it was still a deal. Makes a whole lot more even bead than I could ever manage by hand.
John Lowther - Thursday, 06/21/07 12:30:40 EDT

Caulking: Air or electric, power is the way to go if you have to do much at all. Repetitive motion syndrome in the making if you don't.
vicopper - Thursday, 06/21/07 16:51:02 EDT

There's a difference? What will they think of next!

Gnostic and hermetically sealed---not to mention saltillo tyled Thomas
Thomas P - Thursday, 06/21/07 17:50:48 EDT

Thens there's the old joke about the Priest and the tanslations of the bible, It said,

"celebrate" NOT celibate!

Ah, Cor-ten is welded with Cor-Ten rod, Bolted with Cor-Ten bolts. There is a heat treat requirement to maintain the corrosion/rust balance.

- guru - Thursday, 06/21/07 20:17:45 EDT

Miles: Go to and look at page 14 in the "Shop Talk" section, there is a thread there with 67 posts concerning the auto hoods. A coupple cranks say thay are worthless expensive P's of S***, but loads of long time users of good ones endorsing them.
- Dave Boyer - Thursday, 06/21/07 22:00:06 EDT

Core-ten: Over at the AWS site they are talking about welding Core-ten with E7018, E8018-W2 for color matching and allso with E8018-C3. I met a guy who built a boat with a Core-ten hull, He used E70-18.
- Dave Boyer - Thursday, 06/21/07 22:06:21 EDT

Dave-- Many thanks! I am absolutely not in the market. My post was pure devil's advocacy. I do not believe anecdotal research is going to cut it on this. And the eye docs and the manufacturers don't care enough about welders (oops, make that weldors) to spend the dough for the real deal.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 06/21/07 23:59:07 EDT

Huricane roof: One more thing: Do you put the plywood (3/4" nominal?) over the purlins or under 'em to give the steel some breathing space? Around here purlins and plywood seem to be mutually exclusive. . .

Oh, yes, what truss/rafter spacing do you use? I've seen rafters every 16" and trusses up to about about 8' apart (and even further for steel construction). . . I expect with an 8' truss spacing you would need 2x4 purlins every couple feet to just avoid excessive sag due to snow load. . . Not that you have much snow load in the VI. . .

A friend of mine is a strong advocate of "spiral shank" nails which have a lot more surface area than regular nails. The ones I've had to pull have had their galvanizing pretty intact. . .

Thanks for the replies!
John Lowther - Friday, 06/22/07 11:48:14 EDT

My Cor-ten Search: Was at least five years ago. I found a suggestion here to tig using thin strips of the base material as filler.
Thanks, All, for the humor as well!
Charlie Spademan - Friday, 06/22/07 17:55:26 EDT

Roof sheathing: The plywood sheathing goes directly on the rafters, then the purlisn go over the sheathing. There are a couple of reasons for this:

1. The sheathing, properly affixed with adhesive and sufficient fasteners, actually adds to the effective chord height of the rafters, increasing their load-bearing capacity a bit.

2. The air space created between the sheathing and the roofing metal keeps the sheating dry and provides a small amount of insulation.

Both purlins and sheathing are required by the building codes for Dade County (BOCA code) and the Virgin Islands. Sheathing is absolutely necessary to provide wrack resistance, and the 2" dimensional lumber purlins are required in order to have sufficient hold against withdrawal of the roofing screws. You don't want to try to screw the metal to the rafters because that puts the fasteners in the wrong like of force (needs to be at 90 deg to the corrugaitons), and 3/4" plywood alone doesn't provide sufficient contact area or material strength for prevention of withdrawal of fasteners.

I use 16" rafter spacing, because that keeps the plywood membrane from acting like a trompoline with high differential pressures during a storm. 24" is fine, and 32" is okay if you use 3" dimensional lumber for the rafters. Trusses are different, and must be engineered to the specific situation and circumstance. One size definitely does NOT fit all in trusses. In hurricane country, 8' truss spacing is only for steel buildings specifically engineered to use heavy purlins and incorporating a shear-resisting membrane of some sort. Again, wracking is what tears steel building apart quicker than anything else.

Spiral shanked nails work fine in regular pine or fir, and are okay in pressure-treated Southern Yellow Pine as long as they're driven straight in. Bend one and the galvanizing is cracked and the salts in the pressure treated wood will gobble it up.

Spiral and ring-shanked do have a greater resistance to withdrawal than smooth nails for sure, but the issue is not usually one of withdrawal of the shank. Particularly in the case of sheathing, but still often true for framing, the withdrawal resistance of a fully encased nail is greater than the withdrawal resistance of the head tearing through the wood. It doesn't matter how well the shank holds if the head pulls through, does it?

Hope this is some help. For more information, check the International Code Council (formerly BOCA, ICBO et al.) documents on hurricane codes:
Hurricane Codes
vicopper - Friday, 06/22/07 18:01:17 EDT

Rafter spacing note: As I said, I use 16" to keep the plywood form bouncing up and down and tearing itself loose. While the codes usually allow 24" centers or larger members on wider centers, this only provides resistance to loading in general terms, like snow loading and moderate wind load. When the wind really gets movinig, I want my roof to sit STILL and not flex up and down between the attachment points at the rafters. Thus, I use 2xX rafters on 16" centers.

Doing so provides four rafters worth of contact points on a 48" sheet, while 24" spacing provides only three. The resistance to flexing of 3/4" plywood is greater by far on the shorter distance, so I figure the 33% increase in material cost is well offset by the increase in fastening points, rigidity and load-bearing capacity. Cheap insurance, in my book.
vicopper - Friday, 06/22/07 18:08:31 EDT

Appropo Of Nothing: So, I firmly believe that there are "signs" pointing us in the right direction as we go through life, if one allows themselves to see them. I currently live in West Orange, NJ, and have my shop in nearby Belleville. 2 BIG rents and a fair amount of driving. Plus, I don't particularily like it here anymore. The Mrs and I have been looking at Frenchtown NJ, on the Delaware river, the idea being to find a place that would allow me to have my shop "out back". So, we were walking around town and found a realtor's "open house", really a very nice 150 year old house with about 1000ft/2 of 2 storey barn behind it. In a somewhat residential area, though, so I was wondering what the town would think about me and my racket back there. Anyway, we finish looking at the house and resume walking up the street, and there on the porch of the house next door is an empty box marked "NC Forge" (Looks to be MAMA sized). I have 2 questions; is there any chance that a resident of Harrison St. in Frenchtown reads this? and, Do you think this is a sign?
Charlie Spademan - Friday, 06/22/07 18:21:43 EDT

Yes and if you don't jump on it you may be doomed!

Did you stop by and knock?

Thomas P - Friday, 06/22/07 18:45:25 EDT

Doomed?: Did I mention it's $475K Doomed if I do, Doomed if I don't. THATS a sign
Charlie Spademan - Friday, 06/22/07 18:53:33 EDT

Frenchtown: Charlie, I'm very close to there and have some friends with shops in the old Pure Ceramics Factory (next to the park). I think you'd want to check zoning carefuly and particularly talk to other business owners about town politics (which can always have a big effect on what you can do in a small town). It is a lovely area but make sure that any place you look at is above the water level of the last few floods. There has been way too much building in the Lehigh Valley and in the other areas that drain into the Delaware so storm runoff has caused some pretty significant flooding over the last few years. What are you planning to do in the shop out back? Professional or Hobby work and what kind? Hunterdon would be quite a change from West Orange!
SGensh - Friday, 06/22/07 20:10:15 EDT

Miles: I am willing to bet You a BBQ sandwich that after a weekend's use I could get You hooked on not only a good auto darkening hood, but Your MIG welder as well.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 06/22/07 22:41:55 EDT

Dave-- Many thanks! I can dig it, the allure of the auto-darkener, all right I just don't trust it, is all, you haha see. And I do like my big Miller 250-amp MIG, too. Not as much as my beloved Miller 250-amp DialArc, but I like it. I just don't trust it much either. But, then, come to think of it, I don't trust much of anything any more, alas.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 06/23/07 00:47:20 EDT

helmets...: Even thou I used them while at the new england school of metalworking without issue, I was still squimish about auto darkening helmets. My dad was a welder with the iron workers union & I vividly remember those pain wracked nights he had from getting "burned" in the eyes.

3 times I bought auto darkening helmets & 3 times I chickened out & returned them to the store where I got them before finally getting the nerve up to actually own one. I've not done a lot of welding since then, but the 4th time seems to be the charm & I've had no problems.
- Mike Sa - Saturday, 06/23/07 07:25:31 EDT

SGensh: Ye, Hunterdon would be a change! After the really big flood of a couple of years ago, I took my daughter tubing on the Delaware. Somewhere downriver, there was a bridge abutment mid-river, standing about 35' proud of the river level, with a tree trunk lying sideways on top of it, as though someone had decided it was an appropriate pedestal! have been a professional "maker-of-things" all of my life but have always preferred working with metal. In recent years I have tried to focus exclusively on hand forging ironwork, though the necessities of business often force me into the role of fabricator. Less and less though! My intent is to initially keep my client base in the NYC metro area, as most of what I do is shop-work anyway, and try to eke out a living (as I get older and can not lift what I used to) making smaller objects and artwork for the tourist and weekend estate population in an area where a working blacksmith is a more expected sight. At least that's my plan...In Frenchtown I have the name of the person I need to talk to in the Zoning/planning dept. I noticed the Ceramics Factory while I was there, but did not think to check out what businesses were there. Pretty close to the river; how'd they do?
Charlie Spademan - Saturday, 06/23/07 08:12:45 EDT

I have welded for 28 yrs. I have used an Auto-darkening hood for about the last 12 yrs. The lens darkens on average about 1500 times a day. I have never burned my eyes because of the auto lens. In my opinion an auto lens is the best thing since ice cream.....Just my .02 worth
- Donnie - Saturday, 06/23/07 13:10:16 EDT

treadle hammer plans: Can any one help with some plans or idea,s on building a treadle hammer any help would be much appreciated
- bluey - Saturday, 06/23/07 20:57:17 EDT

band saws: Anyone have some good sources for finding a used band saw (for cutting metal)? I'm ready to upgrad from the small unit I've got now which only has a 4 inch throat. Seems likes there's lots of them out there rated for wood, but not many for metal.
- Mike Sa - Saturday, 06/23/07 22:08:51 EDT

Mike - bandsaw: check surplus auctions from school districts.
- Dave Boyer - Saturday, 06/23/07 23:01:29 EDT

band saws: go check Grizzly industrial, they are new taiwanese made machinery. great machines great prices.

if you buy somthing from the school dist auction it going to have the hell beat out of it.
- maiers - Saturday, 06/23/07 23:38:48 EDT

Bandsaws: Mike, check for your area, searching for Do-All, Grob, Walker-Turner, and Marvel. Those are a few of the brands that were well made. There are probably others that don't come to mind at the moment.

School equipment isn't necessarily trashed, by any means. Many, many school districts have, sadly, discontinued their industrial arts programsinrecent years and some of them are bound to have bought new equipment not long before the school district decided to "upgrade" to teaching video gaming instead of making things. There are good machines out there, if you're willing to search for them and pay what they're worth.
vicopper - Sunday, 06/24/07 08:48:37 EDT

Bandsaws: I just had three or four 16" bandsaws quoted for work, and the price new went from $1100 to $3200. Depends on feature and how well built.
Look at Surpluss record on the net as well.
ptree - Sunday, 06/24/07 09:18:22 EDT

School Equipment:
The school my wife worked at for many years was a high school back in the 30's through 50's and had a good old fashioned agriculture, shop and home making program. When the courses were abandoned the old shop building was kept as a maintenance and storage building. In it there were two pieces of machinery they had not gotten rid of (that I knew of).

1) A leg vice on a bench, 2) A small Marvel Power Hacksaw with quick action vice.

The leg vice had been abused as a welding bench vice and the jaws had over an inch of weld build up and sputter balls. However, it COULD have been restored without too much effort.

The saw was pristine. It did not have a blade and had not been used enough to wear the paint of its quick action vice jaws. I bought a blade for it and used it for a job. The saw was perfect aside from a spot of rust rust or there and some cobwebs. I lusted after that saw for years but the school was operated by a dual country board that jealously guarded anything slightly old to preserve the historical aspects of the school.

Most old school equipment I've been involved with was either perfect and used very little OR in fair condition but mostly out of wack due to amateur adustments and loss of minor parts. Moving damage which is always a problem with old machinery was more obvious because of the excellent condition of equipment that was then treated like junk. I've seen things like unused Johnson forges (which are quite expensive) just rolled of a truck into a junk heap. . .

There may be some wear and tear on old school equipment but nothing like old industrial equipment that has been operated 24/7 for years with poor maintenance and lubrication (for that service) and covered with sand from castings and treated like crap by shift workers. . .
- guru - Sunday, 06/24/07 14:50:54 EDT

Where can I get a reasonable anvil????
- Brian - Sunday, 06/24/07 15:40:31 EDT

reasonable anvil: one of the best things to do is get your name out that your looking for one. there isnt a "place" you can find anvils. look around the internet, sometimes theres good deals. look for old barns, ask if they have an anvil they would like to sell.its amazing it seems like you will never find one, then anvils seem to fall out of the sky.
- maiers - Sunday, 06/24/07 18:22:09 EDT

Anvils falling from the sky: That explanes ptree's hard hat with the styrofoam "bait" anvil on top...I guess.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 06/24/07 21:41:35 EDT

bandsaw: I have a carolina 10 inch w/ coolant pump'
that Im interested in selling. good condition, except for power cord needs replacing. I am working on that now. Where are you located? Im located in upsate NY.
- tony - Monday, 06/25/07 08:22:56 EDT

Reasonable or FREE?:
We get a lot of folks looking for anvils that say they cannot find one. . . when what they mean is a free anvil.

Anvils are tools, made of tool steel. If not (like many of the ones sold new on ebay, Harbor Freight and Grizly) then they are ASO's (anvil shaped objects).

They are tool steel and a lot of it. This makes them a relatively expensive tool, not just another piece of iron.

I doubt you will find a good deal on the Internet. If you tell everyone you know including long lost relatives that you are interested in blacksmithing and need an anvil you MIGHT be surprised. Free anvils DO occasionally exist. However, any anvil from any Widow lady is worth AT LEAST a dollar a pound if not two.

If you are in a hurry then go to, look for the nearest local blacksmithing group(s), go to a few meetings and buy an anvil from one of the tailgaters. The price will not be low but it will be fair. There will also be folks there that can advise you on your purchase.
- guru - Monday, 06/25/07 09:40:07 EDT

Brian; I have always had good luck talking to *everyone* I meet about needing an anvil; and by good luck I mean a name brand anvil in good condition for under US$1 a pound: exp (are y'all tired of this one yet?) I was at a fleamarket and a fellow selling greasy old car parts that I would not have fished out of the dumpster for free "howdy'd" me. So I talk with him and say I'm looking for an anvil---turned out his uncle wanted to sell one. That evening I had a 500# Fisher in mint condition for US$350

That's another secret---have the money to hand; good deal evaporate if you have to wait to raise the money!

Thomas P - Monday, 06/25/07 11:30:30 EDT

Anvils: One my father picked up at a flea market and gave me, the 2nd I got when he passed away (would sooner still have Dad around) the 3rd - I got at a flea market we got there early in the day (wet & cold) a smaller foged anvil about 125 lbs and paid $125 - had the cash with me and didn't even try to quibble on the price. By the time I got back to pick it up, the vendor said he could have sold it 3 times - ll at more than I'd paid for it.

I've seen some advertised locally in the weekly bargain paper around Johnstown, Pa - when I checked the phone number they were usually farther than I wanted to drive due to other committments.
- Gavainh - Monday, 06/25/07 12:25:00 EDT

Hurricane Roof.: Thanks for the info, Rich.

A while back I read a report by some structural engineers who examined the damage after a tornado.

Their conclusion was that the vast majority of the damage would have been avoided if the buildings had been built to hurricane code.

While wind speeds in major tornadoes (IIRC the recent Greensburg, KS tornado had wind speeds over 200 mph) significantly exceed the sustained winds of most hurricanes, a structure is typically exposed to them for a matter of seconds, where a structure may have to hold up to 100+ mph winds for hours in a hurricane.

The only undamaged structures in Greensburg were the reinforced concrete grain elevators at he co-op. There was a news story about them starting to receive the wheat harvest today. They are running on a trailer mounted generator 'cause the power lines STILL haven't been restored over six weeks after the tornado. I suppose that is nothing compared to Katrina, but. . .

As bad as what that storm did to Greensburg, I'd hate to think what would have happened if it had hit a major city. That storm's track was almost two miles wide and was on the ground for 20 miles. The damage could have been in the billions, and fatalities in the hundreds, maybe thousands.
- John Lowther - Monday, 06/25/07 12:50:35 EDT

Tornadoes: Scare me a lot more than hurricanes do. With a hurricane, you get a day or so warning, whereas with a tornado you get a minute or two, sometimes none at all.

After Hurricane Marylin in '95, I was without electricity at the house for three months. I had a generator (you have to be nuts to llive here without one), but it had to go to my business each day and back home at night. JWouldn't have been so bad, but I had a casto n my leg form knee surgery and wasn't allowed to bear weight on it. Made humping that 300# generator a real nuisance. You do what you gotta do, in situations like that.

Building for hurricanes and earthquakes is almost always a good idea. Almost everywhere in the world, there is some form of dangerous weather or natural phenomena and preparedness is the only hope for coming through it in decent shape. Like wiht the hurricane - I may not have had electricity, but the neighbors had no house.
vicopper - Monday, 06/25/07 19:22:49 EDT

Anvil on CraigsList: Hoboken, NJ;
Ran across it by accident, thought I'd pass it along
- Charlie Spademan - Monday, 06/25/07 20:51:24 EDT

Band Saw: Tony, I'm in southern Illinois. Shipping costs might spoil the deal.

I have a bid in on a Grob vertical saw which is being auctioned by a bankruptcy company. Their liquidating a factory that went belly up. We'll see how that goes.
- Mike Sa - Monday, 06/25/07 21:20:51 EDT

Smithing supplies: While on my way back from the Studebaker convention in South Bend (in the museum, they have a recorded track of hammering sounds playing in the background of the display of Henry's first blacksmith shop), I stopped by the junk shop at the intersection of highway 6 & 31. He always has some neat stuff stashed around. He has 3 or for small forges with good blowers (one 400 blower is attached to a small forge too). He also has a few anvils & a bucket full of hardy tools (the anvils & hardy tools & tongs are kept inside). He's asking $100 to $150 for the forges. More for the anvils.

So, if any of you that need tools are not too far from north central Indiana, here's some stuff for you.
- Mike Sa - Monday, 06/25/07 21:26:35 EDT

Grob saw: One shop I worked for had a Grob, it was an OK saw. The blade guides were small bronze blocks with a slot milled for the blade. The idea was that You replaced these blocks when the slot was worn sloppy. That was quick and easy - IF YOU HAD MORE OF THEM.
- Dave Boyer - Monday, 06/25/07 22:39:03 EDT

Grob Bandsaws: One good thing about Grob- they are still in business, and stock parts for at least some of their older machines. And they are made in the USA, a rarity these days.
They make several variations on those guide blocks, Dave- including carbide. My guess is that it would take a while fro Mike to wear out the carbide ones.

- ries - Tuesday, 06/26/07 11:30:03 EDT

Grob saws: I've used a couple of them, and they work a dream. Very nice saws. Like any bandsaw, their working characteristics correlate directly with how well they're set up and used.
vicopper - Tuesday, 06/26/07 20:31:03 EDT

Grob saws: We have a Grob in our model shop at work & it's seen it's fair share of different materials run thru it without issue. I can only remember the guides being replaced once (althou I'm not in the lab every day, so might have missed some maintenance over the last 19 years).

A couple more bidders have found my auction, so it looks like I won't steal it if I'm successfull. Time will tell.
- Mike Sa - Tuesday, 06/26/07 21:50:37 EDT

Grob saw: For sure the carbide guides would last a while. The bronze ones don't last real long under constant use, but they do change out quickly.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 06/26/07 22:14:11 EDT

Clarification: The Grob was in the same class as the DoAll and Powermatic, but in a shop that didn't always keep the new guides on hand, the ability to re dress the old ones and keep going was a benifit on the DoAll and Powermatic. From a cost standpoint in a commercial shop, dressing the other's guides probably costs more than replacing the Grob bronze guides, but only if You HAVE them. Those little things tend to get overlooked. If It was My choice to make with a verticle saw, I would set up for 1/4" blades and not bother with all the rest.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 06/26/07 22:24:19 EDT

its alive!!!: hooked the blower up to a motor after rebuild and it rumbled, huffed and puffed and blew air!
yep the bearings are pretty much shot, but ill figure somthing out.
- maiers - Tuesday, 06/26/07 23:08:14 EDT

Band Saw guides:
Depending on the type of band saw they make replacement guides out of graphite filled cotton micarta (Garolite actually). Trade mark guides called "cool guides" are made from it. It is pricey stuff and my saw needed 5/8" square while the stuff skips that size. . . and comes in sheets.

My wood working saw has steel guides which seem to work fine but you do have to have some clearance which allows a little blade wobble. The Garolite allows tighter adjustment.

My saw will take up to 1" blades but I have used 3/8" for heavy resawing and 1/4" (both skip tooth) for fine work. The fact that you can cut thick thin straight and curved with the small blade makes them very handy. I suspect the same is true in a metalworking band saw as Dave points out.
- guru - Wednesday, 06/27/07 09:44:32 EDT

Grob: I've had a 24" Grob for several years which I like very much. It's a solid well designed machine. I was lucky and got a bunch of guides with it. Of course I had to empty all the worn out ones from the drawer (they provide a storage drawer in the side of the saw). Why would you put the junk back in with the new ones? A friend of mine just picked up a slightly older 18" Grob with the welder for $600 when we were buying some used machinery locally.
SGensh - Wednesday, 06/27/07 09:52:39 EDT

Blowers: Maiers....depending on what type of bearings your talking about, they should be replaceable or refurbishable. If they're single roll regular bearings, any parts store or farm store will have them (the farm store will be cheaper). If it's got babbit bearings, they can be re-poured & re drilled.
- Mike Sa - Wednesday, 06/27/07 21:55:07 EDT

Seaking Suppliers: I'm attempting to open a retail store selling Handmade/forged Metal items. I'm fairly close to seeing it become reality. Now I'm seeking wholesale suppliers. Now I'd like to see if anyone is intersted. What I'm looking for, everything from the small stuff, keychains and less expensive items, up to higher end Candleabras and Fireplace sets. I'm not looking for forge tools. Garden tools, maybe. Barbeque tools probably. Mostly Looking for home decor items. If you have any questions feel free to ask, if your interested send me an email and I'll do my best to answer any questions.

I'm still in the semi-speculation mode, attempting to get my ducks in a row before I figure out the rest of my finacnces. I'm not buying today, just looking for contacts.

Thank you!
Frostfly - Friday, 06/29/07 15:58:20 EDT

Frostfly when you say "higher end" do you mean US$500 or US$5000 or US$50,000? Also where are you at?

Thomas P - Friday, 06/29/07 17:06:44 EDT

A swift kick in the teeth: Earlier today, I placed an order with McMaster_Carr, as they will ship by USPS. I've used them in the past with good results. Tonight, however, I received this email from McMaster:

From: []
Sent: Friday, June 29, 2007 3:14 PM
Subject: Your purchases with McMaster-Carr

Due to the ever-increasing complexity of U. S. Export regulations, McMaster-Carr has decided to continue to accept orders only from a few, long-established export customers. Your company is not in this category and we are unable to process your orders.

Joshua Clark

I replied:

Joshua Clark,

As a customer of McMaster-Carr since my first business venture in 1971, I am astonished to receive such a callous and unfriendly response to my recent order.

Im astounded that McMaster no longer wishes to acknowledge that the United States Virgin Islands is part of the United States. After all, the United States Postal Service delivers here at domestic rates. That alone should give you a clue as to our status with the Federal government. Further, we pay income taxes on the good old Form 1040, same as everybody else. We get drafted, shot at and killed in wars, carry U.S. passports, etc. And yet, McMaster-Carr suddenly and arbitrarily decides were no longer citizens. Frankly, I find that distressing to the point of outright anger.

Please be advised that I am forwarding your email to all my mainland friends and will be encouraging them to take their future business to MSC Industrial Supply, instead of your narrow-minded and undemocratic company. Further, I will be posting your email to every metalworking forum of which I am a member, with the same suggestion that readers cease doing business with your company. Lastly, I will forward your email to my Delegate to Congress, The Honorable Donna Christiansen. This practice of treating certain United States residents as second-class citizens has to be stopped, and I will suggest to Delegate Christiansen that she begin drafting legislation that penalizes corporations that have policies demonstrating a bias against citizens of United States Territories.

So what is your next ignorant move? Is McMaster planning to refuse to do business with residents of Hawaii? What about the military personnel stationed overseas? Are you planning to cut them off, too? Oh, hey the Florida Keys are all islands, too. Better cut them off as well. Then cut off Long Island, Manhattan, Rhode Island, and any other islands you can think of. There are lots of islands around Alaska, you know. Not to mention the barrier islands of the Carolinas, Texas and anyplace else. Oops, I almost forgot Catalina Island, California. Why, just think; if you work this right, your company can restrict itself to dealing only with a handful of landlocked people in the Midwest. That should certainly decrease the workload of your sales and shipping staff. With luck, when your MBAs finally realize that revenues are shrinking, theyll have the good sense to eliminate your position and outsource customer service to a boiler-room in Bhopal.


Richard Waugh,
U.S. citizen, businessman and now, outraged former McMaster customer.
vicopper - Friday, 06/29/07 20:53:40 EDT

vicopper-- Hear, hear!! Bravo! Only problem is, any company stupid enough to enact such a policy is most likely too stupid to read your letter or understand it. But I for one join your boycott. And I have forwarded your letter to the paramilitary group Consumers Rallying Against Predation (our motto: scroom!) for appropriate forceful action.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 06/29/07 22:37:58 EDT

Miles: My cup, as it were, runneth over.
vicopper - Friday, 06/29/07 22:59:12 EDT

Simple Ignorance:
Rich, I'm sure you have run into this before. . . blame the U.S. Educational system. We called the phone company twice to be sure that our cell phones would work in Costa Rica. . . The phone companies representitives said yes, Costa Rica's government communications monopoly says NO. Both the people at Verizon did not know the difference between Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. . . another U.S. territory even though the primary language is Spanish. BUT, which has U.S. phone companies as does Mexico. . .

There is lots of ignorance in our world and it is not surprising when the ignorant reach positions of authority and power. . . gee, just look at our President, "Mr. I think teaching to the test is right".

. . . Military personnel. . . Ah, the major credit card handling companies do not accept perfectly good USPO APO zip codes and thus in order to run a credit card transaction for those in the service you have to lie. . .
- guru - Friday, 06/29/07 23:58:52 EDT

when I say Higher end I'm thinkin in the 1000 doller range. Just a couple things that should tip you off to this. It's a new buisness. Its a retail buisness. 50,000 doller forged items are invariblely custom pieces. I very seriously doubt many 5000 doller items aren't custom. While I'm fairly certain that there are people in the area I'm going to be in that would be willing to spend this kinda of cash and I know of one house that is stone and custom iron work top to bottom that was just built so I know there is a market for it. At this point I'm not in that market, I'm just starting a small store(23 sq ft space to be exact) and hoping to both make a profit and help make people more aware that there still are blacksmiths in the world.

My store will be located in the Pacific Northwest.
- Frostfly - Saturday, 06/30/07 00:16:03 EDT

blowers: yep the bearings are babbitt and the shaft is the conical style and they are quite pitted.
eventually when i have access to a lathe ill turn the shafts smooth again and repour the babbitt.
- maiers - Saturday, 06/30/07 00:44:21 EDT

Hand Forged Store:
Frostfly, Often furniture and sculptural items are high dollar pieces and do well in gallery type stores. Even good fireplace sets should sell for several thousand dollars or more today depending on the quality and complexity. Only very simple sets would retail for less than a grand.

Even small items are pricey in properly placed craft stores. In some metropolitan areas they have been getting $25 for a simple hook for years.

The problem I ran into with my work was that the folks I KNEW could not afford it. Good ironwork, even simple stuff is work for the rich or those willing to spend money like they are rich. Unless you are taping this market you have no market.

23 square feet? 4-3/4 feet by 4-3/4 feet? Is this a window display?

- guru - Saturday, 06/30/07 07:42:29 EDT

Selling to shops: Many craft shops try to fill their shelves with items on consignment. I do not recommend it to artists and craftsfolk. The owners who have nothing invested often do not try very hard to properly display or sell the artists work. And unless the maker is close by and inventories their work at LEAST once a month, pieces tend to go missing and they do not get paid.

For the artist/craftsperson I recommend a declining percentage system where the longer the store has your work the less of a cut they get until they buy or return the work. Many consignment shops want 30 to 40% with the maker setting the full price. Set your prices so that they are LIST and that you can accept 50% of list OR less. Normal retail shops must double their inventory cost and those in high rent places like malls must make much more. Clothing often starts at 800% markup (they still make money on a 75% off sale). Places that accept credit cards have that added cost as well. I cannot afford to sell something that retails for less than $10 on-line and still make enough to make it worth handling the sale. . .

The high markups in the high rent stores are part of the reason for the need for cheap imports. When your markup is 800% rather than just 100% you need to have a much lower cost to start.

Business is tough . . .
- guru - Saturday, 06/30/07 07:49:17 EDT


Obviously the problem is that the Virgin Islands don't have full voting representation in Congress. I understand McMaster is planning to stop exporting to the District of Columbia as well. Good thing I only work there. (grin)
Mike BR - Saturday, 06/30/07 07:50:52 EDT

McMaster: They probably do not sell in New Mexico either. That is the only state in the Union that has USA on the license plates. Too many questions about passports and US currency from potential visitors. I hope some weenie gets his but in a vise over his reply. Probably too much to hope for.
Jim Curtis - Saturday, 06/30/07 08:48:43 EDT

sales: I avoid consignment like the plague, with two exceptions. A nursery/garden/gallery and The KY Museum of Art and Craft. Both are proffesional, have gallery insurance and bend over backyards to do the right thing by the artists. My other consignment forays have been diasters.
The nursery in the first transaction bought outright a large amount of odds and ends, and a couple of nice pieces. I OFFERED to make a larger piece to place on consignment to show the customers I can do bigger, custom work. I expected that arbor to sit unsold for years as an ad. Unexpectedly, it sold the first season. I have had 4 to 6 larger pieces on consignment with them since, with about an 80% turnover. I also have gotten about 3 custom referals a year as well. They get 25% commision on custom referals, which of course I program in at quote. I also do the right thing and give them the same 25% when I get a custom referal that results from someone calling me direct when they saw my work there. One has to be fair in both directions. They are super to work with.

The Museum is a non profit and also treats the artists well. Same deal.

Everbody else gets to buy, and if they prove themselves I will do consignment on a few pieces to see if they do the right thing. They get one chance only. I am however not a full time smith, and can afford to be carefull and pass up some oppurtunities.
ptree - Saturday, 06/30/07 08:48:56 EDT

Forign Virgin Islands: I suspect is is an IT problem: Since there is no VI state code in their order system, the idiot thinks it MUST be a foreign address.

Something bit herders need to allow for. Seems like some of our systems have only 51 state codes, others 54, which would have you covered and include PR, VI and GU, as well as DC and the states.

I just looked at the USPS official state abreviation list and there are 58 of 'em not counting the military ones. At least one of which I'd never heard of and the name sure doesn't sound like a terrtitory, FM: "Federated States of Micronesia." I guess I aught to look into fixing all the lists, at least on my systems.

Of course years ago, when the IRS started requiring withholding on interest income on bank accounts held by foreigners a Congressman from New Mexico found a bank was withholding on his CD 'cause some idiot did not recognise New Mexico as one of the United States!
John Lowther - Saturday, 06/30/07 09:11:39 EDT

An office I once worked in ordered 200 PCs. About half for a number of locations around the world, and the rest for our headquarters in Virginia. The HQ PCs got FedEx'd to Andorra (actually the shipment didn't get past France before they caught the error). I figure someone must have pulled up the international screen by mistake, and since FedEx didn't ship much to Afghanistan or Algeria, Andorra was first on the list.
Mike BR - Saturday, 06/30/07 10:00:58 EDT

Blowers: Maiers, I've repaired a lot of these blowers & sometimes it requires a new shaft. I've had luck with using both tapered shaft ends and straight shaft ends. I know the taper has it's purpose, but for a little use as a blower sees, I've not had any trouble using straight shafts (we're talking small blowers here, not big ones, and the ends of the shaft are turned to a smaller diameter than the center section to allow them to still work within the cast housing). Just thought I'd mention this, as it's easier to make a straight shaft than a tapered one.
- Mike Sa - Saturday, 06/30/07 10:33:10 EDT

Foreign intelligence: And there's the guy I knew who spent the night in the Los Angeles jail on a charge of using a fake I.D., as the arresting officer said "Everybody knows there's not a state in the USA called Wyoming..."
Alan-L - Saturday, 06/30/07 20:32:09 EDT

The official state magazine of The Land of Enchantment has a standing last page feature, "One of our 50 is missing," in which my fellow citizens recount their woeful tales of encountering problems with sales clerks, bureaucrats, etc. elsewhere who refuse to believe we New Mexicans are actually in the union. And I once had the USPS deliver a large and urgently needed check to old Mexico and thence to California before it got right here to where it had been addressed.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 06/30/07 20:44:36 EDT

Mis-Deliveries: I can't count the number of times that items I've ordered have been shipped to the British Virgin Islands instead of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Always when coming via AIrborne Express. For some reason, Airborne managed to get my name in their computer system as being on a teeny weeny little islet in the BVI, and no amount of calls and letters to them could get it corrected. I finally had to cease doing business with any outfit that used Airborne, as every shipment went first to the BVI, then back to Florida, then finally to St. Croix, where they would call me and have me come pick it up since their drivers couldn't find my house. It just wasn't even close to worth the aggravation.

These days, I deal only with businesses that will ship by U.S. Postal Service. They won't deliver to the BVI, so no problems...other than the ponderously long delivery times, of course. Life in Paradise!
vicopper - Saturday, 06/30/07 21:07:50 EDT

First light up!: lit the new forge up today for the first time.
i lit it to bend the legs for it so it was set on some aluminum rims. kinda redneck but it was real fun! i used western family charcoal, acctually worked pretty well.
- maiers - Saturday, 06/30/07 21:24:37 EDT

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