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August 2006 Archive

WHY THREE FORUMS? Well, this is YOUR blacksmithing forum to use for whatever you wish within the rules stated above. It is different than the Slack-Tub Pub because the messages are permanently posted and archived.
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Our chat, the (Slack-Tub Pub), is immediate but the record of it is temporary. DO NOT post permanent messages there. We refresh the "log" every 24 hours now and your message will be lost.

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

RALPH DOUGLAS 1960 - 2006:
Ralph passed away this morning June 30, about 1:30 am. Ralph was our one of our first CSI members and first CSI vice Chairman under Jim Paw-Paw Wilson, his close friend who passed away May 13, 2005.

Ralph was a long time friend to anvilfire and is survived by his wife Dawn, son Nathan and daughter Shannon. Dawn's cartoon business provided the cartoon on our story page.

Ralph's service is this coming Wed, July 5, at 11am, with a reception (luncheon) following at 12:15. There will also be a rosary for Ralph at 10:30, for anybody who would like to participate.

St. Matthew's Catholic Church
475 SE Third Avenue (that's 3rd and Oak)
Hillsboro, OR

Time to ring the anvil for Ralph would be July 5th at 11 AM pacific, 2 PM Eastern, 1 PM central, 12 mountain.

- guru - Friday, 06/30/06 21:33:17 EDT

Ralph: Ralph Douglass will be missed by many of us; he was an ardent supporter of CSI through its inception and first years, and a good friend to many. He was tireless in his willingness to help others and offer them support. His illness was a true tragedy, his passing probably a relief to him. My sympathies go out to Dawn and his children.

While I can't claim to be religious person, my thoughts are with Dawn, who has health issues of her own, and those of you who do so could offer up a prayer for her. I'm sure she would appreciate it.

Rich Waugh, Chairman
CyberSmiths International
vicopper - Saturday, 07/01/06 14:48:18 EDT

saftey question: hey guys, i am pretty new to blacksmithing(just build my first forge a few days ago) and i have a highly inportant safety tip...

i dont have the money to buy new steel so i use scrap metal. right now im using low grade steel from computer crasings. my safety question is that when i burn off the paint of the casing by putting it into my forge does it release toxic gasses? do i have any worries using scrap metal in my forge in terms of gas released by heating it?
Isaac - Saturday, 07/01/06 15:19:37 EDT

Burning off Paint:
Isaac, Yes it probebly does, but if done out doors it is probably not a problem.

The serious problem caused by burning coatings off metals is from plating. Galvanizing is a thin zinc coating. When burned off it makes a combination of copious quantities of zinc oxide and metalic zinc fumes. Both can result in serious lung problems. The most minor problem is caled zinc fume fever. This is flue like symptoms with chills and shakes that may take several days to go away. The more often you are exposed the worse it gets. The fumes can also cause a reaction like pnemonia which is letal in some people. See our iForge page and the demo at the top.

Other metals used in plating include cadnium. Cadnium fumes are just plain lethal. Small exposures build up to result in numerous internal organ failures, most often liver problems. It is a slow painful way to die. Cad is not used as much as it is used to be but it is still around.

In computer housings many small parts are made of zinc. The trim and front of the case if molded and not plastic is usualy zinc. The disk drive frames are also zinc. The danger here is that you may be burning off broken bits of these. If you see bright white flames and white smoke and white or yellow ash you are burning zinc.

If metal is "bright" blated but not shiney like the chrome on a auto bumber then it is probably zinc plating or galvanizing (same thing just different methods of application). Metal that rusts heavily or has that normal bluish greay "steel" color is usualy bare steel and no problem.

Even steel bar sold at hardware stores is often plated and not really suitable to forge. Ask them if they have unplated steel.
- guru - Saturday, 07/01/06 16:02:00 EDT

Re: Burning off Paint: i was worried about that, so anything "shiny" that doesnt rust is probally bad to use right?

my forge is highly ventilated. im still worried about fumes but i could probally work out some way to keep the gasses(and the ash) coming off the fire going away from me... well, im a amatour but maybe you guys could give me a few tips on my forge...

i use a cast iron bar-b-cue with a THICK cast iron grill holding my fuel about an inch from the bottom. the bottom of the grill has built in holes for ventilation and i just took a leaf blower, used a plastic bag as a funnel and stuck a inch thick tube in the hole, this provides ALOT of air for the flames(it also kicks up the falling ash into the air).

currently i am using charcol because i currently have no clue of any stores that would sell coal and i dont know if im willing to order coal from a company through the phone for a increese in heat wich i dont realy need(i get plenty of heat as it is). do any of you more experienced guys have suggestions for what i should do to my "portable" forge?

sorry if it seems like im asking too many questions over the next while... i am just plain exited with my new forge, and my piles of blacksmithing books. i figure i'd better get most of the major mistakes ive made pointed out by people who are more experienced than me than learning the hard way and possibly injuring myself in the process.

btw, thanks for the information on the dangers of scrap metal. im looking into other sources of scrap steel that obviously have no coating on them(like a nice rusty re-bar i just found, lol. im hoping to turn it into a nice pair of tongs)
Isaac - Saturday, 07/01/06 16:58:36 EDT

sorry: i just realised that this isnt the right forum to post all that stuff.... is there any way to move it to the guru's den?

also, sorry for the double post but there seems to be no way to edit posts on these forums.
Isaac - Saturday, 07/01/06 18:01:34 EDT

Isaac: There's no problem with asking your questions here, you just may not as quick an answer as you would on the Guru's Den. We'll be happy to answer your questions here,too.

Have you checked out all the information on the 21st Century page? If not, you can find it on the drop-down menu at the upper right of the page. There's a ton of information there, aimed mostly at beginners like yourself.

For good scrap steel to practice with, I'd suggest you check out anyplace local to you that does welding and repair work, or a metals recycler. The recyclers who only work with aluminum and copper alloys usually don't want steel at all and wil practically give it away to get rid of it.

Auto repair places toss out lots of good useable steel like axles, tie rods, torsion bars, etc. Usually they have to pay someone to haul the stuff off, so they're willing to give it away if you ask nicely. When you get a nice handout like that, be sure to pass back that way in a few days and show them what you made. Make them a simple gift, too. It pays huge dividends.

Charcoal will get just as hot as coal, and was the most commonly used forge fuel for centuries. I mean real, wood charcoal, not those nasty molded briquettes people use for stinking up their food. They are pure junk.

Your forge will work, but might actually work better with something *less* aggressive for an air source. A blow-dryer will work pretty well, just disconnect the heating element to save electricity and problems. That leaf blower puts out enough air for about seven forges twice the size of yours.

Look at the plans for the simple brake drum forge. With charcoal, you need a bit deeper fire to get a good heat, around six to eight inches deep. If you can find some lightweight insulating firebrick, you can stack them up to contain your fire and reflect some heat back, making it more efficient. Again, check out the stuff on the 21st Century link; you'll find a lot of great info.
vicopper - Saturday, 07/01/06 23:17:33 EDT

for the sake of auld lang zinc: Many smiths like to work with found materials and this often means burning off paint and zinc. Set up a big fan and LEAVE until the smoke and the stink are cleared.

This touches a nerve I am afraid. Not too long ago we lost a friend and a very good man to zinc fumes. What really killed him was extreme recklessness. I say this as someone who also suffers from testosterone poisoning. Jim's death was a textbook case of how not to do it. Anything slightly dangerous can become lethal if your balls are bigger than your brains.

The smart advice would be "dont" why risk your health just to save a few bucks. But its not just the money, there is something special and important about giving new life to old junk. I guess you have to balance the risk versus fun. I will continue to do it just as I continue to drive even though that beast too has taken several of my friends.

We have lost too many friends. Today we lost Ralph. He was nothing if not careful and meticulous. In the end it wasnt enough and the blackness claimed him at ten years younger than Jim had been. Ralph was about my age, mid 50's I think. It's not enough to be careful, you have to be lucky too - theres no getting around it.

Sorry Isaac. You had no way of knowing. But if you post your questions in Gurusden you will get less of this maudlin drivel. :)
adam - Sunday, 07/02/06 01:22:02 EDT

the reality is that i have next to no budget for blacksmithing, im putting what i can into it.

part of it is that i LOVE making new things out of the old. my neighbors think im just nuts, i'll dig up some piece of garbage and with some work make something decent out of it. you just got to have a lil imagination and you can make something fantastic out of almost anything.

well anyway, i guess the deal is that instead of me spending money on expensive steel over a long period of time im just going to buy myself a half face gasmask. i'd make my own with a charcol filter but my life is something too inportant to risk on shoddy equipment.

also, does anyone here work with charcol? could anyone give me tips to get the maximum temperature out of such a fire? ive recently discovered that i actually dont have enough heat. i wanted to attempt a welding operation today but i couldnt get the steel white hot. i could only get a nice glowing red. i am using brickets, should i start making my own charcol(i have acess to about 10 years worth of wood) or should i just find a decent supplyer of coal or non bar-b-cue charcol? maybe i could just inprove the crappy charcol's ability by chopping it up into smaller bits?

the deepest charcoal fire ive made was about 5 inches. i didnt think it would make much of a difference as long as the steel i was working on was smothered with about an inch and a half of charcol on each side. maybe i should use more...

anyway, thanks for the tips, ill definately try a blow dryer. today i took to wearing a paper construction mask because of all the ash kicked up, lol.

btw guys, im sorry about ralph. i never new the guy so i cant say much about him but i know how it can hurt... all i know is that im lucky i found this place otherwise i'd probally be laying in a hospital struggleing for life eventually...
Isaac - Sunday, 07/02/06 02:42:58 EDT

added onto the last post: sorry, i just did some simple research and i found out why the bricketts to compare. they arent even pure charcoal! lol, not to mention they dont burn as hot. well, ill just have to figure out a store that will carry natural lump stuff or im stuck with ordering online....
Isaac - Sunday, 07/02/06 02:57:26 EDT

Isaac - bravo!: Isaac, as an ex-schoolteacher, you just made me very proud of you. Your briquette remark just now showed great character:

1) you listened to the advice you were given, actually reading what was posted in reply to you;
2) you took that advice and poked around this site (and perhaps others) to learn more;
3) you actually found critical information, and recognized it as such;
4) you are putting the new critical information into practice;
5) you owned up to the earlier lapse of not poking around more completely first;
6) you gave came back to your teacher and gave the results of your research;
7) you reported that you changed your behavior based on what you found, providing encouragement to the teacher;
8) you posted it publicly so the next student (the guy who is reading this) will profit from your research, AND
9) you did it with a great attitude. YAY!

You have NO IDEA how pleased that sort of thing makes folks! Bravo!

Wishing you the best...
Paymeister - Sunday, 07/02/06 06:36:47 EDT

Isaac: Issac,
May I commend to you that if you wish to wear a half face respirator to protect yourself from metal fume,there are a few simple things to know;

1. The correct filter for metal fume is a N,R,or P rated filter listed for metal fume. The best is a P-100. this is rated as P for permissible to use when oil mist is in the air. A N is NOT rated for oil mist and the R is for occasional mist.
2. there are "95" and "100" filters. These refer to efficiency. 95 =95% and the 100=99.97%
3. A quality P-100 filter, on a well fitted half mask, will do a good job at protecting from metal fume, and dust. These are rated for asbestos and radionuclides as well.
4. Respirators do not seal well against facial hair.
5. Respirators stress the cardio-pulmonary system, and in industry, a physical is required prior to wearing. I would consult with a doctor if you suffer any condition of these systems such as asthma, heart condition etc.
6.A good choice in a half face respirator is the A.O. Safety brand "Quicklatch with the pancake style P-100 filters. Less than $50 for the respirator, and 10 filters, and it will fit under a welders hood.
7. keep any respirator in a tupperware container that seals. keeps the dirt and creepy crawlies out!

Last but not least, consider that when one burns off zinc ETC, it travels downwind. Who is downwind? You will emit toxic fume, and you do not want to be responsible for sending that the way of your neighbors.
- ptree - Sunday, 07/02/06 09:46:58 EDT

Yeah briquettes are pretty much worthless for forging but real charcoal is great - it was the traditional fuel in Europe for thousands of years until deforestation forced people to turn to coal. It not hard to make charcoal but the process tends to make a lot of smoke.

Zinc: zinc is poisonous but not horribly so (like cadmium). If you are in good health you can probably stand a whiff or two (dont! :) ). Most welders will tell you they have inhaled some zinc, experienced some nausea with headaches and then it passed. Just be sensible and careful.

I too get a real charge out of turning old junk into something useful. There is a strong tradition of scrounging in blacksmithing. You will find many kindred spirits.
- adam - Sunday, 07/02/06 10:15:29 EDT

Isaac, I agree with Paymeister, you will go a long way with your own resourcefulness and atitude. This is a primary characteristic of most blacksmiths.

You would be surprized at how many folks ask the first question out of their mouth without looking around and even AFTER being sent to the FAQs page continue asking the same questions over and over. . .

In that vien, you are off to a decent start. You can get by on very little as long as you continue to apply that Resourcefulness.

You need to work on your forge. As mentioned the air source is too much. If you are blowing ash or small bits of fuel out of the fire you have much too much air. This does two things. It cools the fire so you never get the hottest possible fire, AND it will burn the metal. Your air source is OK but you will need some kind of valve to restrict the air flow to a gentle breeze.

The second thing is that the grate supported off the bottom of the forge will burn out as soon as you get good fuel and the the proper air blast. The grate if used needs to be part of the forge floor, OR as I prefer, you have no grate or just a single bar across the air opening to reduce the amount of fuel that falls down the pipe.

Real lump charcoal can be made if you cannot buy it. However, making requires a source of wood and it makes a lot of smoke. Your shop appears to be in a suburban back yard and you may get complaints. See our Coal and Charcoal FAQ for methods of making charcoal.

Real lump charcoal is now carried by many of the large chain stores like Walmart, Lowes and Home Depot.

In your case I would tell your parents about your interest in blacksmithing and that you need the proper fuel. Although you may not have money of your own to spend you are not impoverised. Tell your parents that you have found a support group and that there are tens of thousands of hobby-smiths world wide, about half of these in North America. It is a good way to learn hands-on about metalurgy, physics, chemistry and art.

A number of our most youthful members have managed to more than pay for their hobby, including buying tools by selling simple hooks and nick-nacks they have made at local garden or craft stores. However, they did have the support of their parents. If they have questions that you cannot answer OR want to hear from other people they may post here OR write to any of us personaly. My phone number is also on the home page.

Besides us there are blacksmithing organizations world wide that are willing to help anyone interested in the craft.

The two things you will need is fuel and material. You can do a lot with scrap but you can learn faster with some 1/4" square bar and perhaps even make some money it. And a good book on the subject would not hurt. Although it is no longer the best, Alex Bealer's "The Art of Blacksmithing" is very good and sells for less than $15.

- guru - Sunday, 07/02/06 11:26:37 EDT

the forge: thanks for your information on my forge. i think at this point it would be a good idea for me to revise my forge and replace that grate. one of the problems is that i need to get oxigen into the fire and that tube doesnt go all the way through... heres a pic, thatl help me explain.

the air flows along the bottom of the grill and then slides up the back. notice how the last coals of my fire are stacked. that is exactly where all my air flows up. the piping i have is aluminum and if that heavy cast iron grill wont stand up in the fire my aluminum tubing wont. so basically i need a new way to get oxigen deep into the fire if i dont have the grill.

anyone have any suggestions? i was thinking with some gorilla glue, cut bricks and some metal i could form a new brick grill above the bottom, though i dont know if it'd work. or am i going all too far? lol, maybe its just enough to have the air going in that vent?

btw paymeister thanks for your praise :D. i found that if you want to learn something use EVERY available source to you :D.
Isaac - Sunday, 07/02/06 19:21:47 EDT

knife: it seems that im making a habbit of double posts.... im sorry for that, so far it doesnt seem to bother you guys though and im very exited with lots of questions!

now, yesterday i finished my first actual work. i had practiced just folding and all that stuff but i actually wanted to make something. i made a computer casing knife(the metal had allready been in the fire for over 2 hours the day before so i wasnt too worried). its pretty horrid in looks but im proud that i was able to thin the metal for the blade and fold a backing for it, along with cutting a niche to fit in my branch handle. the handle is just a cut section of tree limb with a thin cut down the center for the knife to fit in, the top is held tightly shut with electrical tape and the blade is held from slipping up and out with some super glue.

now the question is, is the lack of finish on the blade even after LOTS of work to polish it up with grinding and all that a sign of burning the steel? is there anyway to polish this up and make it look nice? or should i leave it as is and be proud at my first completed project?
Isaac - Sunday, 07/02/06 19:28:05 EDT

Forge from Hibachi:
Isaac, It is still not clear to me what is going on. a Hibachi is a good shape, can the grate, punch a hole in the bottom OR side close to the bottom about 2" in diameter for the air. See our brake drum forge plans.

Is that tubing flexible electrical conduit? Check it with a magnet, looks to be zinc plated.
- guru - Sunday, 07/02/06 19:34:13 EDT

Casing Knife:
Isaac, I would not put a lot of effort into it. The casing parts you are dealing with are low carbon or "mild" steel. You can sharpen it enough to be dangerous but it will not hold an edge. Knives and edge tools of all sorts are made form medium to high carbon steel.

Long soaks in the fire are bad and burn the surface of the steel as well as creating large grain growth which hurts the steel internaly. When you properly work steel, especially for blades you heat it well but no longer than necessary. You always get SOME scaling but there should not be deep pits. Remember what I said about your forge haveing too much air? That causes excessive scaling and pitting.

In a good solid fuel forge the fire is deep enough to absorb all the oxygen thus it does not burn the steel while in the forge. Blowing air from anywhere other than the bottom or near the bottom at one side creates a very oxidizing fire.

Keep your first project as-is. Try a piece of spring steel the next time you want to make a knife.
- guru - Sunday, 07/02/06 19:43:14 EDT

forge and casing knife responses: guru, my forge is operated by that leaf blower. the leaf blower end has a plastic bag taped around it for a air tight seal and that plastic bag is cut open and then taped around the metalic tube pictured for a airtight seal. this effectively allows me to make one continuious flexible pipe to my forge.

the flexible metal pipe featured in the pictue is a aluminum metal casing for electrical wire. its what people use to run wire along exterior walls or underground. through events that happened a couple years ago i wound up with a spool of about 100ft of it. well anyway, its just a piece of that piping. the hibachi grill has two 2 inch by one inch holes on the bottom with flaps to close them. i pile the charcoal on one side of the grill and i took my one inch tube, hammered it so it would fit in the hole and just stuck it in. it doesnt go any farther than the wall of the hibachi grill. the air flows through the tube along the bottom of the grill under the grating, then it rises up when it hits the wall opisate of the opening. when i pile my charcoal up there there is a tremendious ammount of airflow through it. soon im going to replace the leafblower with a hair dryer so i dont have so much air flow. also i just checked the tube with a magnet, it is aluminum.

so ya, ill ditch the grill like you guys said and punch a hole in the bottom. the question is what tool should i use? i dont exactly have a blow torch and this is a very thick grill... any suggestions? i can probally take a couple drill bits and some water(to cool the bits) and form a rather nasty hole that way...

anyway, the uglyness of my knife is a result of burning the steel? ill tone down the airflow in my forge and see about getting better fuel.

anyway, thanks for the information. its been invaluable(more than ive found in information on any website or in a book, sometimes to learn you just gotta talk to people and apreciate what they say :D). ill hunt down some car springs or something and see what i can do with that.

on a side note, someone mentioned major stores starting to sell lump charcoal, can anyone conferm this? ive seen lump charcoal online(and its CHEEP compared to the brickets....) but i havent seen any in stores yet...
Isaac - Sunday, 07/02/06 21:06:31 EDT

Isaac: Yes, you can get real lump charcoal at Wal-Mart, Menard's, and similar places. Down here in the Caribbean, there are guys that make ity and sell it by the roadside for twenty bucks a bag, about 50#. Or, you can just burn wood. It wil become charcoal in the process and work just fine. Smokes a lot though, until it burns off the volatiles.

I'll repeat what I said earlier: You need a fire that is six to eight inches deep for charcoal. The bottom layer of the fire near the air supply is too cold and too oxidizing, due to all the fresh oxygen. The upper part of the middle area is hot, all the excess oxygen has been burned by the lower area, and it is the place you want your steel. The top part of the fire is back to a lower temperature because it is not getting quite enough oxygen, but it acts as a heat shield to keep the middle area hot, and it excludes atmospheric oxygen for the middle of the fire.

That hibachi would be just fine if you set it up as a side-draft "tub" forge. Put the air in through the end, about two inches up from the bottom. Then get some clay and line the hibachi pan so yhou have a couple of inches of it on all surfaces. Now you'll have a trough forge that is just dandy for charcoal, very similar to what is used all over the world by people in technologically-challenged areas. They've been using them for thousands of years and they work.

I already know your next question: where do I get clay? Most folks just find a creek bed with some sticky clay soil and use that. No access to a creek bed? Try that Wal-Mart again; this time get a twenty pound bag of the cheapest, plain, generic clay-type kitty litter they sell. Mix it with a roughly equal amount of sand and enough water to make the kitty litter soft. If you have som ewood ashes lying around, toss in about half as much of them as the sand. You want a stiff mix, about the consistency of modeling clay or really, really stale peanut butter.

Mold the goop into the hibachi, Making sure to make a hole for the air to come in. A 1-1/2" to 2" diameter hole is about right. Now set the whole works somewhere to dry for several days. When it seems dry, it isn't...but now you can force dry it a little bit by building a small fire in it with plain wood, no forced air. Just let it wearm the clay up; when you rfire burns down, set it aside to dry some more. A couple of days later, you can build your first forging fire in it.

The first time you use it, the clay will probably crack. No problem, just patch the cracks and keep on using it. The clay is just an insulator, to give you a hotter fire and a place to contain it. It ain't rocket science, but it sure is fun!
vicopper - Sunday, 07/02/06 23:42:16 EDT

Isaac: I neglected in my last post to commend you for your efforts and your sincerity, and I meant to. "Paymeister" put it far more eloquently than I could have, so I'll just say that I second what he said. Bravo!

We don't often get young people here who have the perseverance and humility that you have shown, and I can tell you it is a breath of fresh air. There's about a thousand years of combined experience on this website, (no, I don't make up over half of that, no matter what some folks say about my age), and we do get tired of the hit-and-run kids who won't listen. The few who do listen can learn an incredible amount from the regulars here.

I'm glad to have you here, Isaac.
vicopper - Sunday, 07/02/06 23:58:16 EDT

making a better forge: thanks again for the help! i live in colorado and there are plenty of places for me to get real clay. now the question is, do i want the clay just on the bottom of the grill or should i insulate the entire inside of the grill?

also i allready got a hole in the grill about as high as you mentioned(thats what my current configureation uses to pump in air). when i next build a fire should i fill the entire grill full or should i just do a half grill ammount(wich is what i do right now) and push that half grill of coals against the opening.

maybe one thing i could rig up with the clay is make a sort of "tunnel system". i could use another section of the aluminum pipe stealed to the hole with clay and have that pipe go to the center of the grill. i could then cover that with half an inch or a whole inch of clay and make a opening in the clay right where the tube ends. this would allow air to come directly under the fire in the center of one side of the grill. think thats a good idea?

once again thanks for all your help getting my forge started and up to what it should be! and thanks for the praise, one thing is that alot of guys my age(you can call me a kid but i am 18, compared to you guys not in age but in experience i am a kid) is that they are either too inpatient or realy dont know what they are interested in.

anyway, i would find intersting to learn is when did each of you guys start smithing and how long have you smithed?
Isaac - Monday, 07/03/06 03:50:16 EDT

While I can remember what 18 felt like, it was a very long time ago, and as I have a 18 year old at home, and that is not my oldest, I pale in comparison to Vicopper, who approaches the age of dirt. :)

I started hanging out in a blacksmith shop as a preschooler. I started serious metal work as a 19 year old in the ARMY in Germany. I started forging at home at about 35. I have worked in metal working factories all my life.

Keep working on the forge and projects and soon you will be one of the "old Guys" too.
- ptree - Monday, 07/03/06 08:24:50 EDT

Pipe in forge:
Isaac, There are several designes for pipes in forges and even those made with heavy steel pipe burn out rather quickly. The aluminium will be a pool of liquid metal before the forge is upo to full heat.

One problem you have is that 1" e-flex is a little too small for the purpose. It will work for a very small forge and small work but the air velocity will be much too high for a large fire. It needs to be a stiff breeze, not a tornado. This makes a big difference in the quality of the fire. That e-flex still looks like galvanized steel. . .

To make a hole in the cast iron drill a bunch of small holes (about 1/4") then break out the hole.

My bio is on the guru page. Just click on the picture of me.
- guru - Monday, 07/03/06 08:34:21 EDT

Isaac, I would get a few fire bricks and a couple pieces of pipe ect and play around with the height of the floor of the forge and the location and size of the air inlet play around until you get the performance you want from the forge then go at it with clay and make either cover the bricks or re do it all in clay. Im only 15 but this is what I did with my rivet forge and it worked very well. Good luck and happy forging.
- Stephen - Monday, 07/03/06 11:10:10 EDT

Smiths in Colorado: Isaac.

If you can organize a trip to Los Alamos in N. New Mexico, I have enough scrap to make a dozen forges, a dozen anvils and a mountain of knives and tools. You are welcome. Bring a PU truck! If you want to cover the shipping I can send you bits and pieces but this only makes sense for the light stuff - like blowers and pieces of pipe.

But really what you need to do is to sniff out your local smithing group and attend their meets. Go to the ABANA site and find your local affiliate. IIR "Rocky Mountain Smiths". Their meets will likely be at a member smith's shop and he will demonstrate some technique. An afternoon in a real shop, seeing how things are done is worth a year of fiddling around on your own. If you show yourself to be respectful and serious, you are likely to get all sorts of help. This is really the best thing you can do for yourself right now. So much so that it would be negligent to pass it up.
- adam - Monday, 07/03/06 12:23:19 EDT

making a better forge: allright, ill listen to the guru, he definately knows alot more than me, lol. ill punch a hole in the bottom of the bar-b-cue. also ill take the idea of insulating with clay, a couple questions remain though... should i coat ALL the interior of of the bar-b-cue? also should i insulate with an inch of clay or should i use more?

once again thanks for all the help guys! i seriously apreciate it. im getting closer and closer to actually having a decent forge :D.

also adam, thanks for the idea to go to abana, i checked out rocky mountain smiths and they look like good guys but most of the meetings that i could learn soemthing cost 450 bucks or so... i dont have that kind of cash but i might join them just so i can go to the conference, learn some tricks there and get to know some of the colorado smiths.

oh ya one final question. one person suggested that i could just use plain wood and start forging when the wood burns down to coals. i have a couple of questions about that. would it be a good idea to cut the wood into smaller less than fist sized bits to inprove exposed surface area? also should i wait for my wood to pretty much burn up and i can only see black in the fire? or should i start once i start seeing alot of black burned up bits?
Isaac - Monday, 07/03/06 18:25:53 EDT

Isaac. nah! $450 - thats for a several day class. Most chapters hold informal meetings regularly and they are free or require membership dues at the most. Call the # and find out whats up. Explain what you are up to and ask for advice. At the very least find out the smiths in your area.

Wood. This makes fire management even more complicated and there is quite a bit to learn when you start with charcoal or coal or coke. Start with charcoal. When you understand how to use it, then mess with wood.
adam - Monday, 07/03/06 19:14:52 EDT

When I started: Isaac, you asked about when we started with blacksmithing.

I was 43 and began classes at the blacksmith shop that was part of a local museum. I have been collecting tools for some time, and finally put it all together a month or so ago. Hope you can get and stay involved - it is lots of fun!

Note, too, that competing on the world's terms usually leaves one chewed up. In this case, you are building competence in blacksmithing - choosing the field of battle, as it were, and you will be interesting, pleasant company, and well-respected for your choices and expertise. Some folks won't respect you, of course, but they aren't much worth your time anyway (let 'em hang out at the mall while you make cool stuff).
Paymeister - Monday, 07/03/06 20:32:42 EDT

swadging copper tubing: I'm trying to fuller the ends of some thin wall soft copper tubing (3/4 in) & can't seem to manage to get a good centered point. I'm using a smithin magician with 3/16 radius ends. All of my point so far are off center (I let about one inch stick thru past the point of the fuller).

Is this just a case of practice practice practice, or is there a trick to this as well? The same would apply to making candle cups I would think.
Mike Sa
- Mike Sa - Monday, 07/03/06 21:28:32 EDT

Isaac: First, about the hibachi forge. I wouldn't make a hole in the bottom. Stick wiht the hole in the end, and clay the bottom up to the bottom of the hole, and also line the sides with clay. If you can end up with a "tub" shape about 6" wide by 6" deep by 12" long, or thereabouts, you'll have a decent sized firebox. The clay on the sides wil reflect heat back into the fire, maintaining your heat more evenly. It's not a bad idea to have a couple of "slots" on the sides about 2" deep and wide, to give you a place where yo can poke a long bar through the "sweet spot" of the fire and heat the middle of the bar. Otherwise, you have to pile up an extra tall fire when you need to heat the middle of something.

I don't know where you are in Colorado, but that's where I'm originally from. Born/raised in Boulder, where there was an old mechanic/blacksmith near our house; I spent a fair bit of time after hours watching him forge and weld. BFA in Metalsmithing from CSU in Fort Collins in 1971, primary concentration in hand-raised sterling holloware.

After college, I did a year or so as a full-time professional metalsmith in Boulder, then went to work as a cop there. Did that until 1977, then went into the sign business in Boulder, then Arvada, later Phoenix. Came down to the Virgin Islands in 1990 and have worked on the police department here since then, doing my metalsmithing and sign making as hobbies. Finally have a nice shop put together, ready for retirement from the cops at the end of this year. I can hardly wait!

I'll start back into making some money at the metal work after I retire. There's a lot of two and three-hundred year old houses down here, so there's a good market for restoration hardware. A lot of thieves too, so there's always a market for burglar bars and grilles. Tougher to get folks to pay for nice looking, custom-forged burglar bars, though. Since I'll have a meager little pension from the cop shop, I won't have to take too many of the crappy jobs...I hope.

Give my fondest regards to Colorado, I sure miss the fly fishing. Keep the snow to yourself, though. (grin)
vicopper - Monday, 07/03/06 23:35:13 EDT

swaging tubing: on thin soft stuff especially the top die will penetrate deeper than the bottom. This is always so but its more pronounced with stuff like 3/4 copper tubing. Go in small steps and keep flipping 180 so that both sides balance
adam - Monday, 07/03/06 23:44:33 EDT

Swaging tubing: Mike, I have a smithing magician that I use for sefveral things, but when I wnat to neck down pipe or tubing, I use a really simple chop-type fuller. The kind where the top blade pivots and swings down onto the bottom blade. The two blades have shallow "V" notched cut into them, with well-radiused edges. The V notches keep the necking centered on the axis of the tubing much better, I've found.

You could make a set of notched dies for the Magician, and they would work just fine, I'm sure. I just found it easier to make the swing-arm tool so I don't have to change dies in the guillotiine-type magician.

The chop-type fuller is shown in iForge Demo #41. The better job you do of making the two notches identical, the better they center the neck on the tube. Still, you have to keep rotating the tube And use fairly light blows, because the top blade does more work than the bottom, making it go off-center if you're not careful.
vicopper - Monday, 07/03/06 23:46:34 EDT

Starting out in Blacksmithing: My own story is pretty humdrum but if you want to hear about an unusual entree into smithing, ask TGN. It'd be hard to beat his story!
adam - Monday, 07/03/06 23:51:24 EDT

Vicopper's method is the best way I have found so far, although the tool I use is only a three point fullering tool. Mine is mounted in a swing press and that gives me a lot of control.
- Jeff G. - Tuesday, 07/04/06 14:01:06 EDT

Isaac, google on "washtub forge" and hunt for the pictures of how folks made them using local materials.

Every ABANA chapter that I have attended has FREE meetings and even after 26 years of smithing I learn stuff from almost all of them---though sometimes it's from the jawing that goes on outside of the demo.

I started around 1981 wanting to make knives, swords and medieval equipment. The only source I had was "The Modern Blacksmith" by Alexander Weygers---visit the local public library and ask at the desk about ILL the new version "The Complete Modern Blacksmith" Weygers has a very scrounge your own stuff viewpoint.

Made one stop on my way back from OK; the folks told me that there had been a triphammer in a building the bank took over and I will call it as soon as I can---I "felt" a lot of smithing stuff in the small towns we went through---never touched the interstate and often went half an hour or more without seeing another car!

Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/04/06 22:31:30 EDT

Thomas-- is this "feeling" you report anything like dowsing? Could you... ummm... purely hypothetically speaking, now, mind you, find an untapped aquifer, say, d'you s'pose?
- Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 07/04/06 23:41:50 EDT

scrounging: Weyger's books were an important inspiration to me too. I loved his scrounging attitude. But he would not have been a pimple on Thomas' rear end. Our Thomas seems to have clairvoyant powers when it comes to scrounging. Listening to some of his finds, I think that old tools tunnel up from deep underground to lie at his feet.
adam - Wednesday, 07/05/06 00:20:20 EDT

Introductions: Hiya folks.

I've lurked around here for a while but I suppose I might as well introduce myself. I got into metalworking through a friend back at the beginning of spring, working with a historical reinactment group that does the major southern california renaissance fair. It was a fantastic experience, one I would go so far to say as life-altering. I had two or three fantastic teachers who took me under their wing and showed me the basics (I passed the initiation test, they handed me hot metal and I didn't reach for it).

Being a historical reinactment group has benefits and drawbacks. On one hand, our shop was rather basic and easy to learn and get around in. On the other hand, we had to do most things using elbow grease and patience. Picking up two or three books on blacksmithing, including Weyger's book and the Art of Blacksmithing were eye-opening for me, especially the art of blacksmithing, as I was helping provide interpretive history to the patrons. More's the pity that we were moved from our old site two years ago or so, because I was led to understand they had a magnificent 5 foot double-pull bellows, a coke-driven foundry, and all kinds of period goodies. I was able to learn on a propane forge, which did it's job well.

Anyway, I'm in the middle of building myself a decent little forge, I have my anvil, my stump, and the tools I aquired or made during my apprenticeship. Looking forward to starting to play on my own now, and when I have the desire and the basic skills I have a couple of excellent blademasters that are happy to let me pick their brains on some of the finer points of forging pattern weld and other fun stuff.

No real question here, and I rambled a little bit, but I wanted to say hi to everyone and introduce myself. Look forward to many happy days ahead of me. Smithing satisfies something deep inside of me that I never even knew was there, and I'm thrilled to have so many other people that I can talk to about it that won't think I'm wierd.

- Sean - Wednesday, 07/05/06 03:16:16 EDT

Reenacting and more:
Sean, congratulations on a good start. Yes, reenacting does put limits on you and it is often done wrong or out of period. One thing that is often missing is all the extra labor to do things the hard way. . they are not nearly so hard when you have several strikers, someone to do nothing but pull the bellows and another to file or grind all day. . . apprentices, slaves, children and the desperate were all available to work in the smithy.

The other problem is the material. Working wrought iron is much different than mild steel. It is not just softer but must be worked hotter and many operations and designs are such to prevent problems due the grain and splitting.

On the other hand the public in general does not know the difference between a modern anvil, colonial anvil or a medieval anvil much less the techniques used or specific tools. They are also impressed by the simplest tasks.

But then there are the purists who want to do everything the "traditional" way. However, they never think about how selective their choices are. To these folks I often say to get rid of their modern high speed steel drill bits, hot work steels, alloy steel tools of all types and modern machine made files. Also get rid of their rolled and milled to perfect size barstock. Only when you get your tools and materials back to the level of your "tradition" are you pure. . . They also forget that tradition meant that a large number of metal workers were missing fingers, toes, eyes . . .

If you want eye opening get into a shop where they use a power hammer fed by a gas forge on a regular basis. Look at how much faster forging from flame (plasma or laser) cut blanks can be. See heavy (1" and up) bar twisted cold in a machine. Or just how much more like a machine shop a modern smithy is compared to the idylic smithy of old. See also the books by Dona Meilach and Giuseppe Ciscato (we have reviews on our review page).

Blacksmithing is a wonderfully varied field including simple work done in the most primitive of forges to sophisticated pattern welded alloy steels made in shops where every heat may include the use of two to four different forging machines.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/05/06 08:34:14 EDT

Finders: Miles, Thomas' dowsing skill is strictly iron based and tuned to 18th and 19th century heavy iron. While traveling down a highway at 55 miles an hour he can feel the call of anvils and power hammers. I suspect he is so finely tuned that he sensses their rust prints long after they are moved. . .

I know several other folks with this skill. I once said that they could fall in a barnyard manure pile and come out with anvils clinging to them. . .

However, most of the skill is just plain tenacity. Stop in a likely village, ask the old farts at the hardware store or filling station if they know of any blacksmithing tools or machinery, REMEMBER their tales or take notes, then follow every lead to conclusion. ASK everyone on the lead as well because they may know something that the old farts did not. . . But you also need that sixth sense that THIS old building was a shop or smithy not just another barn or road side storage shed. Note that Thomas said he is going BACK to those places along the road when he has time to investigate further. The difference between him and the rest of us is that HE goes back.

I have the same feel for old grist mills. Take me down any country road and when it crosses the right kind of bridge I can show you where the Grist Mill was. Often all that is left is a few disturbed stones in the steam where the dam was (always up stream from the bridge and within sight of it) or rude foundation covered by honeysuckle or kudzu. I'll be right 9 out 10 times times IF you get out and look. I can also tell you haw old the mill was from its location but that is a different thing. . .

If on a personal quest it also helps to tell ALL of your relatives you are interested in blacksmithing, especially those distant relatives you do not know well. There is a high probability that there was a smith in the family OR a farmer with basic equipment OR a fellow that collected tools and at least the anvil (if not a whole cache of tools) is hidden in a basement or shed just waiting for someone to ask for them and put them to use.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/05/06 08:59:49 EDT

I was only tweaking. I have had the privilege of watching Thomas in full foraging mode, at close range. Awesome, indeed. Nonetheless, I think his knack could be focussed onto subterranean water... oil... silver... gold, even, perhaps. Then... ta da!... truffles! Just think, Aristotle Onassis got his start in the junk biz!
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 07/05/06 16:38:53 EDT

Reenacting: Yes, that is always the balance, do you try to stay as strictly period as possible (purist?) or do you cheat where the public won't see the difference.

In the end, we cheat "behind the scenes". We are a theatrical group, which means so long as what the audience sees looks authentic, behind the scenes we can make exceptions. Safety is of course first, and we must make exceptions to that at the expense of accuracy. Some things are beyond the expectations of a truly period shop, such as the apprentices who merely turn a grinding wheel or pull a bellows. Everyone wants to be able to bang on the anvil, so turns are taken at the more mundane tasks.

I've been part of a strike team a few times, namely when we were helping our theatrical journeyman make several hardies for his new anvil. Watching a few pounds of steel slowly mold itself into a tool was an impressive experience to watch and take part in.

It's sad how fast knowledge can pass out of our culture though. I worked a day where school children were brought in by the busload, maybe 9000 kids in all over an 8 hour period, and the lack of basic knowledge of even the name of the task surprised them. Most children had trouble grasping the idea that every nail in the period had to be made by hand, and one even asked what I was doing to the "head hammer". After a brief exchange I realized the kid meant the anvil. He called it a head hammer because it's what they drop on people's heads on cartoons. He knew absolutly nothing else about it.

Ultimatly, I appreciate the benefits of modern advances. My back certainly appreciates not having to haul and shovel coal or charcoal for a couple forge fires, and not having to tend the fire unless I want to do things that way. I certainly appreciate being able to go to the store and purchase a good quality hammer or any other small tool I might need. I'd like to take a peek into a modern blacksmith shop, but in my area metalworking in general is not exactly prevalent outside of farriers.

It will be interesting to go back and forth from more modern methods at home to the more period methods in my theatrical group. Hopefully we find a permanent site that we can rebuild the forge and foundry and I can take part in that. I enjoy knowing, and to an extent experiencing, how things were done, as much as how they are done now.
Sean - Wednesday, 07/05/06 17:17:11 EDT

"Coke fired foundry"---late 1700's IIRC more the enlightenment than renaissance. (It was Abraham Darby's experience with coke fired foundries that lead him to the first commercial smelting of iron from ore using it as the fuel.

Jock is very right that it's a *learned* skill. Why I said I "felt" smithing stuff is probably that the small towns had clear evidence of lots of "junk" from around the right period---dying out of smithing in small towns. They had not been cleaned out to the scrap yard.

A good source of info is often the local welding shop as that craft took over from the smith many a time.

Always have a card that says blacksmith on it and *never* show up in gucci loafers driving a new SUV

Once you learn to recognize the knob on the end of a post vise leg sticking out of a mound of brambles beside a collapsing barn while doing the speed limit you'll find that stuff will jump out at you.

Learning how to talk to anyone you meet is a great gift---I used to be considered shy! And never be upset by the ones that get away, there will be others. Also *learn* the stories they tell, they are as important to the craft as teaching new smiths!
Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/05/06 21:49:13 EDT

testing steel: now, someone a while back suggested i pick up some spring steel and use that (he was refering to blades at the time). where should i look to find "spring steel" in scrap? should i see if any auto body places are throwing out old car shocks?

also i read in the 21st century page information about re-bar. it states mainly that re bar varries bar to bar, you might find a realy good piece of steel or you might find a bad one. is there any way to test it out to see if its a good piece of steel or just cruddy "mild" steel?
Isaac - Wednesday, 07/05/06 21:56:13 EDT

testing steel: If you want to be a steel scrounger get small grinder and learn how to do a spark test.

Auto springs: find a shop that specializes in spring work and ask if you can have a few pieces out of their discard pile. Spend some time chatting and explaining why. Likely they will give it for free at the worst they might charge scrap prices. Many regular mechanic shops will have a scrap piles and let you root through them. Does your local landfill have metal recycling pile? That can be a gold mine.
adam - Wednesday, 07/05/06 22:46:41 EDT

DONT PANIC!!!!!: every time I hit the POST button and see that huge banner I start to ... well panic. I think it's Jock's warped sense of humor.
adam - Wednesday, 07/05/06 22:48:23 EDT

rebar: is fine for fooling with and I have found a few pieces that are suitable for tooling. But a knife is a lot of work and it makes no sense to start with such unreliable material. Rebar is to steel as spam is to beef.

Also didja call RMS - if not why not? those guys know where the scrap piles are.
adam - Wednesday, 07/05/06 22:51:39 EDT

arrrrrgh I paniced again.: I think its time for my meds
adam - Wednesday, 07/05/06 22:52:27 EDT

Isaac:: For good spring steel try to find a shop that makes replacement springs. Most good sized towns or small cities will have one. Buy coil ends or "drops"- bits cut off in manufacturing. These will be new steel,You can ask what alloy it is. If using old springs You are hoping that there isn't a crack or many small cracks caused by fatigue while it was in use [even more likely in broken springs]. Spring steel from cars is usually limited to suspension springs and stabilizer bars, and hood and trunklid springs on some vehicles. Spark testing with a grinder compairing known steel to junkyard steel will give You some idea what You have, but there is a knack to it. Junkyard steel rules aply to the rods in shock absorbers.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 07/05/06 23:09:53 EDT

Sean, I too have done re-enacting in the So Cal area. My group didn't do southern faire because none of us could commit that many weekends in a row. We did many of the small faires that go on in the area. I live in San Jacinto, in Riverside County. If your ever near by I would love to get together on a weekend maybe. My shop is small, but fairly well equiped with a nice power hammer and belt grinder as well as all sorts of other contrivances. Fell free to email me.

FredlyFX - Thursday, 07/06/06 03:05:24 EDT

midway spiral gear blower: i bought a champion blower and forge co. lancaster, pa. usa, in some other things at an auction. patent 1901. MIDWAY SPIRAL GEAR BLOWER. CAN ANYONE GIVE ME AN IDEA AS TO WHAT I SHOULD ASK FOR IT TO SELL? THANKS---HARRYH
- HARRY EASLEY - Thursday, 07/06/06 05:53:33 EDT

Don't Panic: That is Jock's literary taste and humor at work, Adam. It's taken from the book "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams.
vicopper - Thursday, 07/06/06 08:36:04 EDT

panic: ah, I missed that. I really should read that - its become part of our culture. Thanks
- adam - Thursday, 07/06/06 08:47:57 EDT

Back when I rewrote this forum for frames many browsers had buggy refresh (a few still do). When that screen came up they would freeze at that point and you would need to manualy reload the page (try to read the fine print).

About that time I had just read "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". In it, on the black cover to "the guide" it says in plain block letters, "DON'T' PANIC". Well. . . that was because anytime you went anywhere in Douglas Adams' galaxy a normal person would panic, and desevedly so as nothing worked the way you expected it to, and when you thought things had gotten as stange as they could, it got stanger. A lot like Windows software and browsers. . .

So I thought it was quite appropriate. Much better than Microsoft's, "The end it coming. [CONTINUE?]" and no other choice. .
- guru - Thursday, 07/06/06 09:55:01 EDT

Adam's Trepidation: Fear not, Sir Adam, for all is well. Take 27 espressos and attempt to call me in the morning. Dr. Treblewoofer
- 3dogs - Thursday, 07/06/06 09:55:47 EDT

The worst case of cheating at a demo I ever experianced was in Williamsburg, VA at the old blacksmith shop. This was on my 7th grade field trip (about 1964). A fellow in a three cornered hat was making something that needed a hole in it, he stopped, sliped out the back door, then there was the obvious sound of an electric drill press and he came back a second later with the part with a nice shiney hole drilled in it. In the same shop the forge had an electric blower which you could hear if you listened closely. I was a bit surprised at the time.

They also had a fellow putting initials on little premade souvenier horseshoes that the fellow would hit twice with a ball pien hammer before stamping initials. . This circus side-show has now moved to Busch Gardens.

When Peter Ross took over and they restored and setup the new blacksmith shop it was 100% Colonial period. However, they have a shop off-premmises that has a Kuhn power hammer and various modern tools. Most of the output of the shop goes to the restoration and I am told they just keep up.

On my portable shop the fire was blown by a double chambered bellows. It worked quite well but was constant work. I was doing a demonstration at a Steam show in Maryland when a lady came by and kept leaning down looking under the trailer, then walked around and looked some more. I asked if I could help her. And she spouts, "Where is IT?, Where is the gas tank? You can't have that hot a fire without a gas tank". I tried to explain to her that it was a REAL bellows I working at and it made the fire hotter. I said just follow the pipe from the bellows to the fire. She did not believe me. . . Thought I was doing all that work for "show".

When doing demo's I never did anything that I considered cheating. However, I had much of my stock precut. Who wants to watch you hand saw hundreds of pieces of stock? I also had my shovels bent and riveted and candle cups assembled. My demo trailer DID have a hand crank drill press on it which I used quite a bit. It is not pre-civil war but I never claimed to be demonstrating any particular period. I also had an oxy-acetylene setup which I rarely used. It was there for those just in case jobs.

For the most part there is no reason to "cheat" at blacksmithing demos. If you use a bellows of either the European or Asian type, burn coal or charcoal and forge on an anvil then you are "period" for Y0K up with perhaps the the one exception being the style of your anvil or exact style of bellows. Every hand tool we use with the exception of compound leverage and geared tools (vise grips, Beverly shears) existed from the beginning of the iron age.

Having inventory pre-made to sell is also not a cheat. You cannot possibly keep up with demand OR make enough sales to make it worth while when demonstrating. However, the work should be representitive of what you make.

What distresses me the most is going to Ren Faires and most of the market being junky import stuff and odd plastic specialty catalog stuff. . . Then on the other hand the last "craft" show I did a demo at there was a booth down the line selling imported Mexican iron knick knacks for less than I could buy the steel. . . . I love doing public demonstrations but can no longer afford to.
- guru - Thursday, 07/06/06 11:07:35 EDT

Adam, take those 27 cups of expresso and pour 26 of them in the quench tank and double your prices for "caffinated steel".

We need to start working schedules twixt Miles, you and me for a visit to the Los Alamos underword and lunch...

Miles I don't know if I could find water up at your place though I have contributed my bit to the local shallow aquifers near the Wing...

Thomas P - Thursday, 07/06/06 11:47:04 EDT

Spring steel and blowers: Isaac: DO NOT mess with shock absorbers, torsion springs (those long coils for roll-up garage doors) or any coil spring with a bolt through it unless you know exactly what you are doing. A member of my local forge group, who really did know better, cut the bolt head off a semi-truck emergency brake adjuster spring two months ago, thinking that it wouldn't be under much tension. When he woke up, his glasses were gone, his nose was broken, and there was blood everywhere. He survived the glancing blow and is now much wiser. If his head had been turned just a little less, he'd have been buried with a 10-pound spring stuck through his skull. For shock absorbers, I add them as some have a "helper" coil inside where you can't see it.

Blowers: Harry, I see them for anywhere between free and $150 depending on location and condition. Does it work? is it smooth and silent? Or does it sound like there's a handfull of pea gravel in there somewhere, along with a tiny set of maracas? It isn't considered an antique to blacksmiths, regardless. If it works well, smoothly, and quietly (oil in the gearbox will help with this!) it's worth more than if it turns rough and sounds like a rock crusher. If it's frozen up, it's worth less still. If it's missing a gear, all bets are off. Open the gearbox and look, don't try to force anything, and add some clean motor oil to it. It will leak, so don't let that put you off, it's supposed to. The handle on a good blower should turn on its own for a few revolutions after you stop cranking. Most importantly, where are you? These things are worth a lot more some places than others.
Alan-L - Thursday, 07/06/06 12:00:43 EDT

Thomas-- Gasp! That... that... is sacred land to my pippul! Y'all come see us whenever. We'll go see Adam and Ed Grothus, who no doubt will tell us all about how he just sold the book he got at a garage sale for $25 for $27,000.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 07/06/06 12:49:44 EDT

Black Hole: Yes let's definitely organize something. I am busy the 2nd half of Sept - my mother will be visiting and I plan to take her to Utah to see Canyon Lands etc. She's a visual artist and she really should see those amazing landscapes. Perhaps even the N Rim of the GC. Other than that I have no commitments yet. Last time I was there Frank was telling me how Disney had ripped him off for $100million by stealing one of his mad scientist ideas. Did you know he was blacklisted at the express instructions of the Secretary of the Navy or mebbe it was the President? - wasnt really paying attention.

Oldfart glasses: euphemistically called "Executive Style" lenses with the sharp step from one prescription to the other, are getting extremely hard to find. My optomotrist has found a place in Canada that still has some stock left. I think I might buy a bunch of unsurfaced blanks just so that I can have glasses for the forseeable (haha) future. I hate those graded lenses. You get no useful field of view at any particular focal length. Its infuriating that the optics companies have abandoned this technology even though it is a superior solution (so says my optomotrist) and there is a steady demand for them - there are whole websites devoted to bitching about this problem. But they are much more complicated to make.

Hmmm spresso steel - if I add some soap i'tll froth up and make frappacino - I could even do some yuppie flavors - drowned mouse fer instance
- adam - Thursday, 07/06/06 13:18:40 EDT

Protected Metals: Who Knew?:

A short article from Federal Executive on foreign and domestically produced specialty metals and their impact on the electronics industry.

At least some forms of protectionism are alive and well. ;-)
Federal Executive
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 07/06/06 15:46:35 EDT

Adam, A Hantacino perhaps?

Bad news on the glasses I'm due to get a new pair this month and I had the largest "inset" they could get for my large lenses

I was hoping for a trip a bit sooner Early Sept is the State Fair SWABA demo's, Late Sept is Quad-State, Nov is the Festival of the Cranes and the JPH class...

Besides which I may need some distrction after serving on this jury next week
Thomas P - Thursday, 07/06/06 21:23:18 EDT

Restoring a bridge: I just wanted to let you all know about a really neat project we are getting ready to start. My buddy Doug and I will be restoring an iron bridge built shortly after the Civil War. It is believed to be the only surviving example of its kind. I am including a link to a page about the bridge. We hope to be featured on the page at some point. We will be straightening tie rods, doing some build up work, replacing about 3000 rivets and lots of other stuff. The first load of iron was delivered to the shop today. It will be interesting to say the least. Here is the link
- Jeff G. - Thursday, 07/06/06 22:52:44 EDT

Neat project.

I've seen similar construction but not with the tubular features. The forge welded tie rods were common on old bridges and are a definite feature indicating wrought iron construction.
- guru - Thursday, 07/06/06 22:59:17 EDT

Black Hole: Thomas, Miles et al I wasnt very clear I guess. My calendar is open from NOW UNTIL the 2nd half of Sept. So you guys choose what's convenient and I expect to available. Lunch & free scrap @ my place and if the buzzards are still not sated we can all descend on Miles scrap pile which is on the way back for everyone else.

Glasses I am trying to buy up as many extra blanks as I can. If you need something special I recommend Mark @ Aztec Optical in Santa Fe. Its an ole timey optician store and he will go out of his way to help. Sure put in a lot of effort for me!
adam - Thursday, 07/06/06 23:18:39 EDT

I am here for the duration after this weekend. Call or Email whenever. Re: glasses: with a prescription Sears Optical has stepped bi- and tri-focals, no problem. Get them in auto-darkening, too, if wanted. See Phil, the manager at Villa Linda Mall, or as it is now known, yuppily enough, "The Santa Fe Place." Or, you can turn anything into bi-focals if you get pasties, stick-on (they work by molecular adhesion) Optyx bifocal inserts, dirt cheap from "Safety Glasses USA Inc." Also, don't tell anybody until we all get stocked up-- Frank's Supply in Los Alamos and Albuquerque has GREAT ANSI-rated wrap-around Terminator-style safety glasses in green and grey with cheaters up to 2.5 diopters built in, for, get this, UNDER $8!!! No welding shades available, alas, for some damned reason. MSC has flip-up clip-on magnifiers in shades 3 and 5, as I recall.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 07/06/06 23:56:22 EDT

Some mystical force excised the Email address for Safety Glasses USA Inc from my last post. Here 'tis again-- maybe: "Safety Glasses USA Inc."
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 07/06/06 23:59:56 EDT

Dayyum, I worked for fast editors before, but this censor beats all. Okay, try this, and then click on Optx 20/20: If this effort gets shot down, too, google Safety Glasses USA
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/07/06 00:05:28 EDT

Miles, no mystical force, just the system filtering arrow brackets and everything between them which indicate CODE in your web browser. This stops trolls from posting links to who knows what (images, javascript) that would display in your browser.
- guru - Friday, 07/07/06 08:48:20 EDT

thanks for the tip Miles. I will check out those leads
adam - Friday, 07/07/06 10:02:30 EDT

Hanging Judge Hammerin: Thomas do you know what kind of case you are going to sit on? More power to you for doing your civic duty - a lot of people with jobs and lives try to dodge this. Do feel free to discuss the case here on Hammerin - we may be able to expidite matters and save the whole legal system a bundle.

A few years back my wife was on the jury of a criminal case. One of the jurors, an engineer, took it upon himself to visit the crime scene and take measurements which he then reported back to the jury. It was declared a mistrial of course.
adam - Friday, 07/07/06 10:41:32 EDT

Jury Duty: Try as I might, every time I've been summoned for jusry duty, they take one look at me and tell me to go back to work. I actually *want* to sit on a jury and they won't let me. I think it's one of those cases like Groucho Marx remarked about country clubs - any that would let him join, he wouldn't want to be a member of. If you want to be on a jury, they don't want you. I'm sure it has nothing to do with my job at the cop shop. (grin)
vicopper - Friday, 07/07/06 11:33:33 EDT

Jury Duty: I worked many years as a Fire and explosion Investigator, and now still do Forensic Microscopy. When I get a jury summons, I go to the court house, one of the judges sees me and says: "John Why are you up here today?" I wave the summons, and he says: "Give me that and go on back to your office!"

I would love to serve, but the lawyers wouldn't want me. They all know me!
- John Odom - Friday, 07/07/06 11:42:40 EDT

Jury Duty: Served on a social security fraud case years ago - sordid dealings all the way round on that one, but we did convict. Since then I've been called to appear once or twice and usually haven't been chosen. Something about listing engineer as my occupation I suspect. I've formed the impression that many defense lawyers really don't like folks who want hard facts/information to back up the stories they spin. :)
- Gavainh - Friday, 07/07/06 12:11:15 EDT

I did jury duty last summer, and was fully prpared to serve if asked, but on the only case we got called for selection the defendant failed to show up. He was out on bond for some sort of drug case, so the judge simply said: "Bond revoked, I hereby issue a warrant for his arrest, and add two years to whatever sentence he may get for failure to appear. (bang of the gavel)" That got the attention of several of the youger members of the jury pool!

Oh, and Rich, we had one of our two motorcycle cops in the jury pool. He showed up for orientation in uniform and thought the judge would let him go. Nope! Because my fair but odd city has what it calls a "Public Safety Officer" system where the police are also the fire department (not simultaneously, the alternate every few years), they don't count as full-time cops and as such have to serve jury duty.
Alan-L - Friday, 07/07/06 12:11:50 EDT

Aw, shucks, Jock-- here, I thought sure it was voodoo. Adam-- correction on Phil at Sears Optical. He is not the manager, but probably ought to be. Philip R. Ciaffa. Call 473-7761 for hours before making the trip-- odd lunch hour time.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/07/06 13:19:33 EDT

Adam-- The Frank's in Los Alamos has them in stock, they say-- but then tell you they must order them from ABQ. That takes overnight. They had 9 pair of 2.50 on hand down there when I bought two pair last week, so.... The sales clerk in ABQ is MUCH prettier than the ones in L.A. Want your expertise on this eye protection business. Ophthalmologist tells me my new plastic peepers filter out ALL UV. Howcum, then, I wonder, but forgot to ask, arc filters get darker as the amps go up? Is that just for the increased razzle-dazzle and glare, d'you s'spose, which is somehow different from them nasty UV rays? Offline until Sunday afternoon here.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/07/06 13:26:56 EDT

UV and welding shades: Miles: This is a piece of unfinished bidniss and a subject of contention between Jock and myself. Before I sank beneath the waves, I had started on series of tech notes which I meant to post here. I hope to resurrect that but in the meantime this is my OPINION from the research I have done.

Eye damage from light comes in three flavors:

Ionization: The radiation has enough energy to break chemical bonds and you get a "sunburn". The most dangerous aspect to this is damage to the DNA which can lead to cancer. But even without that the tissue damage can be significant. Only UV photons and higher energies (xrays gamma rays) pack enough punch to do this. Gamma rays can actually crack the nucleus of an atom - this happens in the upper atmosphere where, for example, Nitrogen gets remade into Helium (sometimes). But there are subtleties in the UV range too. The lower UV called UVA which is just beyond visible can occasionally damage DNA and when it does it will very likely be a single defect which the cells repair mechanism can handle. It's a numbers game, get enough of them and the probability of overwhelming the cell becomes unpleasantly high. The surface of the sun which is the same temperature AND COLOR as an electric arc, 6000K, also emits more energetic UV, called UVB but this is mostly stopped by the atmosphere. These photons can cause a cascade of defects in the DNA, they are energetic enough that the impact will impell electrons (that belong in the DNA) with enough energy to do further damage and completely overwhelm the cell's repair mechanism. The atmosphere stops most of the UVB. So when an optometrist tells you a clear lens stops all UV he is likely right about the UV from the sun that reaches the earths surface. They may not be protecting you from the UVB that a welding arc emits.
adam - Friday, 07/07/06 14:03:34 EDT

.....: Thermal damage: Below the UV is the visible spectrum and the infrared. This kind of radiation mainly has a heating effect and if it gets focused onto the retina in a concentrated spot (remember frying ants with a magnifying glass?) it can cook the tissue. But your eyeball has defenses: First the blood vessels in the retina carry away some of the heat; second the iris contracts to restrict the light; Third is simply pain ( discomfort as its known in the medical profession). The sun is bright enough to cook your retina if you stare at it directly (thank you hippies for verifying this hypothesis) but in a normal person (and even the people in this forum) its painful and you dont do it. We walk around with this hazard hanging over our heads every day and manage to keep our sight.

The nasty here is the near infra red and even the very dull reds. Your eye doesnt see these very well if at all so the pupils dont contract and there is little or no discomfort but the lens will quite effectively focus this light onto your retina and cook it. CO2 lasers are notorious for this kind of injury but I believe it is not a serious concern with welding.

Flash/ Temporary blindness: Here the receptors in the eye get overwhelmed and depleted of the chemicals they use to manage the signal and you are temporarily blinded. This usually lasts just a short time but if you are welding ten stories up on an I beam that might be very bad.
adam - Friday, 07/07/06 14:19:35 EDT

....: With that background, I believe, and Lincoln does too, that a #3 lens will adequately protect you from all the UV from a welding arc, further more it will stop enough of the visible to prevent thermal damage. The darker shades are for "comfort" they say, well its to knock down the glare to the point where you can see well enough to weld. Just like in OA welding, the flame is perfectly safe to look at - 3000K doesnt make any UV to speak of - but if you try to run a puddle without, say, a #3 shade you will do a crummy job.

Consider and autodark helmet which when untriggered is a #3 or #4 shade. This HAS to be enough to protect you from injury. What if the circuit were to fail? Think of the liability exposure to a companay like Lincoln which probably exists in a state of permanent litigation for injuries? They wouldnt sell them if they didnt work even when broken.

The short answer: Yes. You are right Miles! :)
adam - Friday, 07/07/06 14:36:33 EDT

Coming soon:: Why is the sun yellow? The surface of the sun is the same temperature as an electric arc but it looks yellow to us. Why. I only recently figured this out from looking into this question of welding glass.

In the meantime: "The sun's not yellow it's chicken!" Bob Dylan
adam - Friday, 07/07/06 14:41:18 EDT

Anvil and HUGE Tongs For Sale: To take a look, go to:
Tyler Murch - Friday, 07/07/06 16:11:03 EDT

Adam I know the sky is blue because of molar refractivity as it was a question on one of my sister's college tests---"The sky is blue, what's Avagodro's number?"

Jury, it's a *very* serious case. I prefer not to give *any* details until it's done---probably next week. I thinik they liked me because I moved here several years after what happened and am not related to any of the people involved.

I did read that we have 18,000 people in our county while waiting to be grilled.

Thomas P - Friday, 07/07/06 18:13:52 EDT

Jury Duty: I served a few years ago on a "grand" jury. Never knew the difference till then. They just decide if there is enough evidence to try a case. Of course all you get to hear is the prosecution's side so almost all fly through.

It was one of the most enjoyable days I have spent doing something I did not chose. Most of the cases were the of the utter stupidity types like you see on television where the guy puts his face right IN the security camera as he tears it off the wall. . . The drunk that left his "best friend" trapped in a wrecked car he was driving and tried to claim he wasn't there despite the "friend" and the person he wrecked into were both witnesses. Stupid and sad, but funny at the same time. No serious cases, was done by lunch and do not have to serve again for ??? years. Of course some grand juries meet for an extended time over big cases.

My brother AND his wife were both called for jury duty at the same time after having protested at city council a number of times on some issues. Don't try to tell THEM the system is random. . . They spent weeks showing up at court and waited an hour to find out that the days proceedings were canceled. . . Then after all that the case (murder) was rescheduled for some distant future and they never got to hear any evidence.

I suspect that on any serious case they would toss me. .
- guru - Friday, 07/07/06 18:40:36 EDT

armor: im currently sitting around waiting for the clay in my forge to dry so i was trying to figure out a project. i took the mild steel that i have stacked up(the computer casings) and decided it might work as ornamental armor after some work. because of the paint and zink i cant heat it so why not do some cold work? well i got cutting and bending and folding and i have completed the basic breastplate, it needs the shouler and upper arm protection though...

the style is something that has often been nicknamed "field plate". its a system of steel plates designed to keep up with chain on foot in terms of flexibility. the arm protection needs to be done otherwise the sides of the chest are vornurable...

anyway what do you guys think? all the edges in my "suit" are folded over so they have nil chance of cutting me. i just used some heavy duty snips, a hammer and of course my anvil. later im planning to take it down to my family ranch so i can work it with an electric steel brush to remove the paint and give a nice "finish" on the steel.
Isaac - Friday, 07/07/06 21:07:59 EDT

Jury nullification: An interesting feature of the jury is that it is a check on stupid laws: if a fellow for-real broke the law, if the jury decides that the law is stupid or incorrectly applied, they can choose to return a not-guilty verdict. They can't be punished for their decision, and the fellow can't be retried. Law enforcement gets the idea that they should concentrate on other laws, and legislators get the idea they may need to rewrite the law.

Many judges, however, are quite hostile to the concept: do a Google search on "Jury Nullification" and it will shock you to see how far we've come since the days of the Constitution. I still think we're better off here than anywhere else in the world, but our judicial system certainly needs your prayers.,2933,163877,00.html
- (Declined To State) - Friday, 07/07/06 23:19:46 EDT

I got called to jury duty a couple years ago.. I'm self employed and was a couple months behind. I truly didn't want to be there. I invented a trick on the spot that worked great to get booted off the potential juror list. While the lawyer was quizzing me, I wook look him in the eyes, turn my head 90 degrees whilst still staring at him, and then move my eyes to where my head was pointing. Next I would find his eyes again, and rotate my head back in line with him. (hee hee) The first lawyer i did this to lost his train of thought and excused me that moment. The case involved two post adolescent girls that got in a drunken fight at a party. I felt they each had a choice to leave, why should I lose a day or two wages on their personal wars?
mike-hr - Saturday, 07/08/06 01:08:02 EDT

This grim passage came to mind while thinking about eyesight.

"And you will grope in the midday like the blind man gropes at midnight..." 5th Book of Moses 28:29

And what does a blind man care if it's midnight? It seems the author was not above spending an extra word for the sake of rhetoric.

Another tidbit, a few verses down, 34, the word "meshugga" meaning "crazy" is used. AFAIK this its first occurrence in a text. This word is now in the English language by way of Yiddish and New York :)

Anyways so why is the sun yellow? Blackbody theory says it should be the same color as an electric arc since it is the same temperature, 6000K, and the sun is a near perfect BB radiator. But the atmosphere scatters the blue light and some of the UV too. It as if the blue light gets passed through a thick piece of frosted glass. Now you might be thinking of the movie scene in which the starlet is seen taking a shower through a frosted glass door and you didnt fail to notice that despite the frosting you could still make out her outline - but if the glass were say a foot thick, there would be no image at all just a diffuse glow and that would be a crying shame. ummm where was I ? Oh yeah - so the blue scatters across the whole sky making it a diffuse blue and only the longer wavelengths reach us with the ability to form an image of the sun. So one way to say this is that all the blue in the sky actualy belongs in the disk of the sun. If one were to veiw the sun in outer space , and far away enough that it didnt fry your eyeballs, it would appear as an intense electric blue.

Thomas' answer goes deeper: The reason the scattering is selective and affects only the blue, unlike the shower door which scatters all the visible wavelengths, has to do with the spacing of the air molecules and there is a formula which relates this property called "molar refractivity" to a gas's temperature, pressure and index of refraction.
adam - Saturday, 07/08/06 03:21:29 EDT

Isaac, It looks like you are having fun and that is the point. The difficult pieces are those with many curved parts held together by rivets or strips of leather.

The most difficult part is cutting the plate which is normaly 14 to 16 ga. It can be done with heavy snips or a chisle but is a pain. A Beverly shear is the way to go. They are not cheap but are the most expensive tool you need for efficient working of plate. The rest is hammers and a wood stump or two. If you want a fine finish you need planishing stakes or mounted balls. For small work a trailer ball works but for large radii the tools are harder to find and get expensive even when you scrounge and make your own.
- guru - Saturday, 07/08/06 08:57:02 EDT

adam - Saturday, 07/08/06 13:16:42 EDT

Adam, there is "blind" and there is BLIND! But one of the first things I've noticed with friends who are partially blind is their complete lack of night vision. So you might be able to peer around some of that cataract but after dark you will be BLIND!

Just took my wife to see PoC Dead Man's Chest, no phoney blacksmithing scenes in this one, though the one with a flintlock being dropped from a height onto a wet deck several times and then firing was a bit much in my mind...

BTW there is an easter egg after all the credits are run...
Thomas P - Saturday, 07/08/06 17:55:06 EDT

PoC Dead Mans Chest: I just saw it too Thomas. I'm going to have to stop eating kalamari.
- Tyler Murch - Saturday, 07/08/06 23:48:49 EDT

Rays& Adam-- Many thanks! I wondered about that soft-tissue effect as I drove to and fro Taos over the weekend. The answer from your research, seems clear enough, is don't take ANY chances. Re: Jury-- yes, a grand jury, as the saying goes, will indict a ham sandwich. HOWEVER, there is an old, old provision going back to common law, I would guess, which allows for a "runaway grand jury," which can take it into its head to investigate ANYTHING IT CHOOSES, without having the D.A present charges. Such as, say, gas prices in a certain area that clearly seem the product of price-fixing but that politicians just cannot seem for some mysterious reason to get a handle on... or, I fervently hope, in the case of a Federal grand jury, elect to look into mis-and-malfeasance in high orifice. This may prove to be our only hope left, what with the pusillanimous bunch of wimps we have in Congress.
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 07/09/06 17:19:17 EDT

welding sleeves: In the 3 years since my dad had a surgery go bad & is spending most of his time in a wheelchair, he has been slowly coming to grips with the fact that he will never work in his welding shop again. He is slowly breaking up the shop & sending stuff home with me. This week it was his leather welding jacket & chaps. They are stiff & musty smelling. I started to put them with the leather welding sleeves I already had & notice they are begining to smell a little themselves.

Whats the best advise as to proper care for these things as far as keeping them supple & non stinky?
Mike Sa
- Mike Sa - Sunday, 07/09/06 21:49:46 EDT

taking chances: Well that wasnt my conclusion really. I take chances. Its my nature. Its probably what will kill me one day. A while back I published a note about the kinds of risks we Americans are exposed to and if sufficiently provoked I will repost the whole damn thing. I have it on file somewhere. If you are serious about living a long life, and IMO none of us is, you need to stop driving or at least drive as little as possible. Especially in New Mexico where our fatality rate is double the natl average.

One thing I did understand, aside from the color of the sky, is that a "sunburn" on one's skin from arcwelding is much more serious than a sunburn from the sun because of the high UVB content - together with the tissue damage ((which will repair itsef) there is a much higher chance of sustaining DNA damage and that can have nasty consequences. One's eyes may be fine but if a melanomoa starts at the base of the throat where the shirt is open ...
- adam - Sunday, 07/09/06 22:25:40 EDT

Adam: I am not crazy about wearing welding sleeves while working (or while playing) but I have used high spf sunscreen and welded all day without getting my arm cooked. I don't use it all the time but if I know I'm going to be welding alot, I'll put it on.
- Jeff G. - Sunday, 07/09/06 22:57:39 EDT

Mike Sa - leather: I think I read somewhere to soak in a bucket of fabrick softener and water to soften them up, I think a good deterrgent washing first and afterwards storing in a place where they won't get moldy will solve the other problem.
Dave Boyer - Sunday, 07/09/06 23:18:13 EDT

leather: I've used neatsfoot oil to soften stiff leather. You might try a Country Feed store where they sell horsey stuff and ask for some leather conditioner. I must try the fabric softener trick.

Sorry to hear about your dad. Thats a bad break.
adam - Sunday, 07/09/06 23:32:14 EDT

This may just be one of those topics where no articulation of the situation is going to suit the semantic requirements. I was just saying thanks for responding to my inquiry, is all. I read your response as saying wear suitably shaded welding lenses. Will do. Okay?
Miles Undercut - Monday, 07/10/06 00:13:08 EDT

And, fyi, you can get a nifty leathern bib that clips onto the bottom lip of your helmet to fend off those rays from your neck.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 07/10/06 00:15:29 EDT

lecture: Sorry Miles. I didnt mean to scold and I shouldnt have used your thankyou as a peg to hang a rant. Twas churlish. I had been mulling over this topic also for some time since it underpins the issue of welding safety.

I will close my lecture notes and revert to being just a plain wiseass. :)
adam - Monday, 07/10/06 00:38:44 EDT

HAH! I feel I must challenge you, Sirrah, on the definition of
- 3dogs - Monday, 07/10/06 03:27:26 EDT

Adam/Molar refractivity: HAH! I feel I must challenge you, Sirrah, on the definition of "molar refractivity. I happen to know first hand that molar refractivity is what causes one's back teeth to melt down after chugging a bottle of Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce. Closely followed by rectal refractivity.
- 3dogs - Monday, 07/10/06 03:28:45 EDT

ADAM: I thought I was the resident wiseass. You, however may continue on as Official Churl, if you wish, unless, of course, you are bent on the usurpation of my position .
- 3dogs - Monday, 07/10/06 03:35:20 EDT

Rectal Refractivity: I will have to try that term out on My oncologist. I think that may be what I have after 20 sessions of chemotherapy.
Dave Boyer - Monday, 07/10/06 04:42:32 EDT

Rayburn and Sunscreen:
Hmmm . . . interesting idea. Back when I learned to weld most "sun tan" lotions were just that, lotions and did nothing to protect from rays. Today that is quite different. However, I would not count on it for my only welding protection. For one thing, it wipes off and runs off with sweat. But as backup protection it is a very good idea. It funny how you can get stuck in the way you learned 30 years ago. . .

Welding ray burns are sneaky. The worst I have gotten was from the gaps in shirt sleeves where they button up. If you wear short gloves you can get a nasty burn on the wrist. And as already noted it is easy to get burned when you do not keep that top collar buttoned. But I have also gotten them from wearing old shirts or jeans with weld burn holes. Had a fairly serious burn on the top of my leg that took a while to figure out where it came from until I noticed that my pants had a hole in the same place. . .
- guru - Monday, 07/10/06 08:43:46 EDT

Fret not. No offense taken. And, in fact, some topics really are too nuanced and subtle to be handled adequately in a curt blurt such as my summary, "wear the right lenses." And this concept of the black body and its attendant emissions is indeed fraught with such intricacies. One does, however, need to get the beads laid down.... What bugs me is, there is soooo much welding going on, you'd think the ophthalmologists would know something useful about all this. But I have not run into a single one among the several I have talked with who has even heard of an auto-darkening helmet!
Miles Undercut - Monday, 07/10/06 10:53:02 EDT

Sunscreen: Yep, you're thirty years behind the times, Jjock. There are sunscreens now that don't sweat off or wash off in the ocean, either. I use them when outdoors mowing or working, and when indoors welding.

Much of the time, it is just too damn hot down here to wear leathers, and the high SPF waterproof sunscreens do avoid the welder burns. Now, if they'll just come up with a lotion that prevents burns from welderberries getting in my sandals, I'll be all set. (grin)
vicopper - Monday, 07/10/06 13:07:29 EDT

Sunscreen: I hear zinc oxide makes a good sunscreen. Maybe next time I weld I'll start by running a few beads on galvanized. Just kidding, of course.
Mike B - Monday, 07/10/06 17:48:19 EDT

Slather on aloe vera as welderberry screen? I suspect that rectal refractivity will result.
ptree - Monday, 07/10/06 21:26:15 EDT

forge questions/rants : I recently made a new gas forge to replace the old gas forge that had lasted like 6 years with intermitant use. After doing some online research and buying a certain popular forge and burner book I constructed it with a stainless steel shell, a couple inches of ceramic fiber coated with ITC-100, a kiln shelf to rest the metal on and simple stacked fire brick doors. The first thing I noticed is ITC-100 is about as durable as wet cardboard even with a fairly thick coat, after a dozen or so firings it is all crubling, allmost half of it has fallen off (and this stuff isn't exactly that cheap). My first forge welding in it today produced a hole through the kiln shelf the size of a 2x4 in under an hour.. Am I missing something? Seems like this popular design would be about as usefull to a full time blacksmith as tits to a bull. The good points are I am very happy with my atmospheric burner especialy the gas savings and the more reducing flame compared to my forced air one, also the back opening of the forge being the same size as the front is really handy... other than that it is a joke. Should I switch to an expensive silicon carbide shelf? Coat the fiber with mazzu before the ITC-100? Switch to bubble alumina or K-28 fire bricks? Were did I go wrong? What are my options now that I have coated it with crap allready?
Leaf - Tuesday, 07/11/06 00:41:03 EDT

Crumbling ITC:
Leaf, Although the ITC does not make a highly durable layer it should not crumble and the coating should be very hard. Note that if it has dried out in the container and been re-mixed it will not "set" as the binder is gone. If overly thinned it may have a problem as well but I have not had that problem.

Did you purchase the ITC-100 from us? There have been reports of people repackaging ITC products and sometimes prethinning them to do so. The result can be a defective product that may not harden. ITC refuses to sell to dealers that they have found repackaging their products. As delivered the entire line is a thick dense paste that must be thined by the user. If you recieved liquid then you were cheated. Overthining can also result in problems.

If the refractory fibre is pre fired it often results in a dusty surface that is hard to get the ITC to stick to and is already breaking down. There are other brands as well that do not hold up as well as Kaowool Cereblanket but it becomes dusty as well. The dust and heat breakdown are reasons for coating with ITC.

IF there are penetrations in the coating such as around burners, the edge of the floor and you are using flux the refractory blanket may have been attacked by evaporated flux and left nothing for the ITC to remain attached to. Once you have run flux in a lightweight refractory forge with gaps in the coating you may not be able to save the refractory.

What type flux are you using? Borax eats up the light weight refractory blanket, molded fibre refractory and some castables but usualy has little effect on good hard fired refractories. I've never used kiln shelf other than in ceramic kilns and do not know the different types. I use high grade refractory brick (from a foundry supply) for forge floors and have never had a problem. Yes, I suspect you were using the wrong type kiln shelf.

For hard duty folks recommend using ITC-100, then a thick coat of refractory cement expecially on the sides and wear areas, then ITC-100 again. We use ITC-200 that way as well. If the forge is seeing industrial duty then the entire interior should be hard refractory.

The advantages of using lightweight refractory blanket is that it IS light weight and is easy to build with. Large forges can still be moved that have been lined with it. It is also much more fuel efficient and does not require the long heat up times of hard refractory. The disadvantags are it is not very durable and you must avoid damaging it mechanicaly. It is also rapidly attacked by flux and none of it is actually rated for maximum forge temperatures. However, the ITC-100 should solve the last problem and help with the flux if properly applied and maintained.

On the refractory blanket I have some quality issues with the manufacturers. Since I sell cut lengths I handle a lot of it. In the past two years I have seen great variations in thickness, material texture and density. Some is manufactured in Mexico and China and the last batch did not say WHERE it was manufactured. My supplier had complained to the factory and stopped buying the Chinese product (for political reasons) but now there is no indication of where it was made (probably to avoid complaints such as my supplier's). I did not see a problem with the Chinese product other than the fact that the rolls were within a inch of the stated length and I was used to rolls that were all +3 to +5". This meant I could cut two 10 foot lengths giving each an extra inch or so and the last 5 foot was the same. When I did this with the Chinese product I was short on the 5' and had to sell it as shorter lengths with waste.

This all from one manufacturer. Other brands may be going through the same problems. I do not know what brand you bought or if you bought the product from us.
- guru - Tuesday, 07/11/06 08:38:36 EDT

Repackaging ITC: I bought some ITC-100 from Ellis Custom Knifeworks that was repackaged and it was just fine. They are good people to deal with.
- Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 07/11/06 12:57:56 EDT

Leaf: I'll chime in on this one, as I builid my forges with kiln shelf floors,soft firebrick doors and Kaowool or Inswool and ITC-100. I DO weld using my forges.

The ITC-100 crumbling is a bafflement to me, unless you fired it to full heat before it was sufficiently air-dried. Doing so can cause breakdown of the refractory before it properly calcines (or whatever high-temp refractories do). I usually air dry my ITC-100 overnight, then giveit a few hours with a fan blowing on it, then a short firing to about 300°F for an hour or so to drive out any remaining free water. After that, a firing to 550°F for an hour to remove all chemical water. After that, it can be fired to full heat, ad lib.

One other possible cause of your crumbling ITC-100 is that you failed to moisten the Kaowool before applying the ITC-100. If you don't moisten the Kaowool first, it sucks too much moisture out of the ITC-100 before firing, making it weak.

I use mullite kiln shelving in 3/4" thickness for my forge floors and up the wass about three inches as gouge protection. Borax flux WILL attack a mullite kiln shelf, though not as fast as it gobbles up Kaowool, Inswool and soft firebrick. My main forge has had the same floor for a few years now and is still useable. I try to remember to put down a stainless steel pan with some clay kitty litter before I use flux, but I often forget. The floor of the forge is cratered about 1/8" inch and glazed with flux.

Note that the mullite kiln shelf walls are cemented to the floor so they prevent the molten flux from dripping past the floor and attacking the Kaowool underneath the floor.

My Kaowool walls and ceiling are spritzed with a little water and then coated with ITC_100. I only thin it slightly, aiming for the consistency of really heavy cream or thicker. I apply it with a cheap paint brush, usually. After one coat has dried and been fired to 550°, I apply a second coat. If you don't fire it between coats, you risk having it spall due to absorption of moisture by the undercoat.

Silicon carbide kiln shelving should be more resistant to flux, but I haven't tried it. It just costs so much more than the mullite shelving that it isn't worth it to me. If you use a "drool tray" with clay kitty litter, you can even use soft firebrick for quite a while before the odd bit of flux finally does it in.

I can't understand regular borax flux gobblin gup a kiln shelf in one session. Are you using a fluorite-based flux? How thick is the kiln shelf, and is it mulllite or something else? Unless you have the forge burners running wide open, full heat, and blasting directly on a puddle of flux, you shouldn't see drastic degradation of mullite that quickly.

I'm also not sure how you can get a more reducing flame with an atmospheric burner than you can with a blown burner. The blown burner should be infinitely adjustable from anything to almost sooty (reducing) to rabidly oxidizing, depending on how you diddle the air and gas feeds. Atmospheric burners, even the best designs, have a range in which they work pretty efficiently, and when you get too far outside that range at either end, their performance falls off pretty drastically. Your situation is the opposite of what I usually hear. I guess you hit it just right.
vicopper - Tuesday, 07/11/06 15:42:11 EDT

my experience is pretty similar to Rich's. Except that I am less patient and I bake my castings and ITC in an oven. At about 200F to make it set up and drive off the water and then, after removing any combustible material like papier mache forms, I crank it up in steps to 500F. So far this has worked well.

I use Mizzou or Pyramid Super Airset for the floor and these are very resistant to flux. I also find kaowool with ITC too fragile, I am always snagging something. So I apply a layer 1/4 - 3/8 of mizzou or whatever is handy, bake that on and then apply ITC100

Also what Rich said about burners, a decently designed forced air burner out to be very easy to tune over a wide range of gas pressures. Atmospheric burners can work great if you find the sweet spot - we get a lot of questions about tuning them on this site - but it sounds like you found the mark.
adam - Tuesday, 07/11/06 16:33:59 EDT

ITC 100 Drying: I stick a 60 watt light bulb in a porcelain socket in the forge until it's dry.
Mike B - Tuesday, 07/11/06 19:14:35 EDT

"and up the wass about three inches as gouge protection" memo to self *never* visit the islands when a certain member of their constublary is messing with gouges!

Thomas (we start deliberations tomorrow)
Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/11/06 21:17:41 EDT

Who, Me???: Come on down, Thomas. Actually not necessary, as I can get to you at QS. (grin)
vicopper - Tuesday, 07/11/06 21:41:53 EDT

I find myself wishing i had a welder more than an anvil but I am wondering what type (mig or arc) would be more usefull and easier to use/learn. I have a $500 budget so I dont think new will be an option. My 2 questions are what type and what company would you suggest.
- Stephen - Tuesday, 07/11/06 21:55:15 EDT

welders: Stephan, If your on a budget, check out farm sales/auctions for the good ole lincoln welders. Usually 50 to 150 dollars at auction (at least here in southern IL). Practice on it then save up for a modest size wire welder w/ gas. You can handle most jobs with these 2 welders.
- Mike Sa - Tuesday, 07/11/06 22:05:41 EDT

VIcopper & others - SS Forge pan: How well does a garden variety 304 or 316 pan hold up? well enough to incorporate in the design and leave in? or not?
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 07/11/06 22:14:50 EDT

Stephen: I agre with Mike, and add that a stick welder 180 amps or above and a MIG 175 amps or above, in these ranges most any brand should be OK. AC stick welders have few parts to go wrong, age isn't much of a problem as You can replace the power cord and leads when the rubber petrifies. I have a '40s vintage Forny that I still use for most of My stick welding.
Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 07/11/06 22:23:49 EDT

Forge pan: Best if you can make it slip in and out, I think. I have some 304 SS 3/8" rods lying in the bottom of the forge for air circulation, and they degrade pretty regularly.
vicopper - Tuesday, 07/11/06 22:31:47 EDT

ITC burner etc. : I did not know anvilfire sold ITC products. It was thick when i bought it localy at pottery supply and I thinned it as per instructions, let it air dry for a day or two and then placed a small heater/fan on it for another day and ran the burner on low the first time only breifly. I don't remember wetting the ceramic fiber or if I used rigidiser, but I dont think so. It hadn't dried up in the can (this stuff is too expensive to be leaving the lid off!!)

Usualy I like to stick a few pieces of metal in there so I allways have one hot and am not waiting for anything to get up to temp, so they bang around a bit, the ITC on the sides is mostly just gone, but the whole thing has cracks all over it.
My last forge was layer of soupy refractory painted over an inch and a half of kaowool and a layer of ram-able over that "hi-low" or something I think it was. That thing was bomb proof and had a river of flux coming out of it without really touching the kaowool, the shell was just a metal 5 gallon bucket and it was finaly so rusty there wasn't really much of it left. And also the flux had coated the whole top of it and the difference in thermal expansion between the flux "glaze" and the refractory was busting big chunks of it off, So I decided a monolithic shell was not the way to go this time around. Just the mule team borax from the supermarket and the fiber hadn't been fired before, the fiber is actualy holding up much beter than the shelf did, because the ITC was mostly toast before it saw any flux.

The kiln shelf was only 1/2" and must have been light duty, i have some funky old thick ones I will try next, or maybe just fire bricks. One thing I don't like about the kiln shelf (apart from the gaping hole now) is it is impossible to pick up a piece of flat stock laying on the floor of it now without setting them on kiln furnature first. I had first planned to use insulating fire bricks for the sides and a kiln shelf for the top and botom with ceramic fiber backing it but couldn't figure out how to drill the hole for the burner without buying a rather large expensive diamond core bit.

the burner was really easy to make, two 2"-1" reducer with 10" of pipe in between. I just replaced the orifice with a smaller .031" one, before I had a larger one 1/16" and I think it was actualy too reducing with that and not as hot. the trick that actualy made it work quite well was a ceramic baffle on the hot end, a 1" hole in the center surrounded by 1/8'ish holes (made with toothpicks while the refractory set up). the large orifice actualy made a softer flame that was capable of ramping further down, very handy for forging bronze, but the smaller one seems to be hotter and more concentrated. Oh the forge has the burner pointed down so I am sure that contributed, it welded like a dream exept for the huge hole though.

If anyone is interested I have a test fire of the burner on "youtube" please excuse the messy shop, it is all clean now I swear.
Burner test video
Leaf - Tuesday, 07/11/06 22:33:23 EDT

PS : Good idea about the cat litter, i will have to try that!

I have heard bladesmiths sometimes have a drain hole in the botom of the forge for the borax to run out, but probably beter if it never touches the refractory at all.
Leaf - Tuesday, 07/11/06 22:41:15 EDT

Stephen-- MIG is probably easiest to learn. Arc takes a LOT of practice-- mainly practice in really seeing what you are looking at down there amid all the flash and smoke. My 2 cents worth: first learn to weld with oxy-acetylene, manageable on $500, I estimate, best done at a community college with an American Welding Society-certified welder for a teacher looking over your shoulder every inch of the way for safety and quality of work. This way you will get a keen understanding of how hot steel behaves that will stand you in good stead no matter what kind of welding, brazing or silver brazing you ever wind up doing. For equipment I like Miller and Harris. Both stand behind what they build and are extremely helpful on tech questions.
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 07/11/06 23:38:02 EDT

welders: A good OA setup can weld, braze, cut and heat. Probably the most useful single tool. And it should come in well under budget especially if you lease the tanks.

I have a Hobart StickMate AC/DC which is terrific IMO. It can run rod up to 3/16 and is nice for doing heavy stuff. As a smith you will be welding some thick steel. DONT start out with an AC only machine - these are quite a bit cheaper but much harder to learn on. I did this and got nowhere until I replaced my Lincoln tombstone welder with the Hobart. A good welder can do fine with AC but its hard to learn with. Stick welding is the most difficult and takes a serious investment of time and practice. Stick is not very good at thin stuff like sheet metal under `1/8".

For $500 you can get a Hobart of Miller Mig/WireFeed welder. I have one of these and I love it. Runs on regular 110v and it can weld down to 22 ga sheet. Of the three options this is the easiest to learn IMO.

Whatever option you choose, it will take some practice to be able to do a decent job. The core skill is learning to manipulate a puddle of molten steel. Like Miles said, once you learn this on one process, it transfers well to the others
adam - Wednesday, 07/12/06 08:41:51 EDT

Leaf: ITC-100 will crack when fired, due to the movement of the fiber refractory blanket behind it. A lot of what affects how much it cracks is how tightly the blanket is stuffed into the forge. I think that probably the best plan is to use the blanket, coat with Mizzou or similar, then coat with ITC-100. That seems to work well for those who have used it.

Even being only 1/2", that kiln shelf sholdn't have cratered out like that. I tmust be some really funky stuff. Try the heavier, older ones. They are more probably mullite and will do much better. The kitty litter in a removeable SS pan is a very handy thing for welding.

As I noted elsewhere, I have a few pieces of SS round stock on the bottom of my forge to keep the work both up off the now-sticky floor and to allow the heat to flow around it better. I've found that to make a significant difference in how quickly stock gets up to heat.

The next forge I build, I will make the floor serrated, like I've seen in Forgemaster forges. Their floor is a cast affair, I think, but I'm planning to use my diamond tile saw to cut a batch of strips from a piece of kiln shelf. I'll cut the strips on a bevel, so that each one is triangular in cross-section. Pave the floor with them, glued down with some ITC-200 or similar. That should allow the heat to get under the stock better, and I'll use a litter pan for welding. The SS rods I've been using erode away after about a year.
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/12/06 08:49:45 EDT

The best bang for the buck is a good old buzz box (stick welder). You can do more for less. However, as mentioned it does require lots of practice. The good 240VAC 60-90Amp units are the best range for a small shop.

MIG in your price range is limited in capacity. MIG also insists on CLEAN metal and you must change both gas and that large spool of wire to weld SS. Where you have an almost infinite selction of rods available at most suppliers there is only a couple choices in wire. Yes, the MAKE others but few places stock them. . .

MIG is fast and clean but is a production tool requiring a list of consumables whereas with stick all you have is the rods themselves. MIG is also high tech with diodes, DC controls and various bits that fail ocassionaly. Buzz boxes just about last forever if treated well.

If you don't use your equipment often or have long gaps in your work it is not unusual to to find your MIG wire rusted (Never EVER use rusty wire) or your gas has all leaked out. . .

Yes, you can just about teach a monkey to MIG weld but I have seen some REALLY bad MIG welds as well as MIG beads that were just laying on the surface scale. . .

I have all the normal welding equipment but go back to the stick welder the most often. However, I also use OA gas for picky little work.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/12/06 09:26:14 EDT

Small Oxy-Acetylene Torches:
I've used several size torches. Currently I have standard Victor torches but I also have a small air-craft torch. Most brands of torch take tips down just as small as the miniture ones in the standard torch body.

Once you are in fine tune with a torch I do not think it matters what the size is. The small torches, especially if you put small 1/8" ID hose on them, are easier to manuver and being lighter are less tiring to use. But I have done very fine work with a large torch.

The dissadvantage to a small torch is they ARE limited in how large of work the small torch can do. While the larger torch usualy has the very small tips available the small torch will not have very large tips available.

If you have multiple setups as many of us do that is fine. But if you can only afford a single torch it should be a full size.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/12/06 09:38:21 EDT

Forge stilts: -Vicopper

You can buy triangle shaped pieces of refractory at any pottery supply. They are called Stilts, but they are only as good as the refractory they are made from. You should be able to find stilts rated for cone 10 wich is about 2300F. but for a redution atmosphere potters use silicon carbide, the cheap low duty ones I have been using seem to work fine, but they have not contacted with any borax, well exept the one that was under the shelf, it doesn't seem to have disintigrated at least, mine are like $2 a piece, they come in many sizes.

I think ram-able is the way to go for my next forge, I talked with a guy that said they made crucibles for cast iron out of ram-able, used it in a green state and it worked fine. Not so fussy about drying, of course adds thermal mass, but it molds like clay, might be good for stand offs too.
Leaf - Wednesday, 07/12/06 10:04:20 EDT

Kiln furniture: The little kiln stilts that I've seen, the three-cornered affairs, wouldn't be as handy as a corrugated forge floor, at least to me.

The rammable refractories are definitely very durable if mixed/formed properly, but they are a huge heat sink, requiring pretty long warm-up times to get a forge to useable heat. Just the kiln shelf I have in my forges adds about 20 minutes to the time.

If you made an inner shell of rammable, then backed that with 2" of fiber blanket, you'd have a decently efficient forge body with adurable interior. The shell mass is still going to require heating up, but it won't lose too much heat through conduction if it is wrapped with the fiber. I'd still coat the inside with the ITC-100, as I have decided that it really does make a difference.

If making a floor from rammable refractory, it would be easy to make it corrugated, ribbed, or whatever. Anything that allows the heat to travel freely under the workpiece will cut heat times very noticeably, I've found. That means a gas savings as well, if you're doing a lot of work and can keep up with it.

They make crucibles out of graphite and silicon carbide too, which is what leads me to believe that silicon carbide wuld make a good forge floor. I just haven't tried it yet.
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/12/06 11:10:33 EDT

Looking for an even trade - I am looking for a 30 to 40 ton Mechanical Ironworker or Hyd : I have a 2 High 3"X 5" 1950 Mc williams Rolling Mill. Gear Drive 2HP ,3pHase ,220/440 Runs Very well . Push Button . Forward /Reverse / Lock Out /, ;for sale Also - $3700. firm .
- John M. Carter - Wednesday, 07/12/06 11:34:15 EDT

Looking to trade : ( One machine for another )Or for sale also ; I am looking for a HYD or Mechanical Ironworker ,30 to 40 ton in Running shape.( to Trade ) Gear Drive Mc Williams power Rolling Mill . 2 Hi, 3" x 5" ,manual wheel adjust: Push buton Forward & Reverse control stick , 3phase 220/440 lock out /GE 2 HP (Runs Very well ) also for sale asking $3600.00 Contact
- JohnM Carter - Wednesday, 07/12/06 11:53:13 EDT

My first welding teacher up at the Los Alamos branch of UNM, a guy certified to work on nucular power plants by the way, said on one of the evenings in class when he wasn't reading the Help Wanted ads, that if you see a guy with a whole lot of O/A tips in his tool box you were looking at someone who didn't know what he was doing. I think he was full of it, but that's what the man said.
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 07/12/06 11:54:46 EDT

Rolling Mill: I'm gonna wait on this one for another 12 hours, by which time I figure the price will be within my means, at the current rate it is dropping $300/hr. (grin)
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/12/06 13:06:00 EDT

videos: Leaf: Thats a cool video of the burner - looks like it runs sweetly. Could you say a bit more about the baffle?

There are also a bunch of forging videos all showing rather poor hammer technique IMO. The guy at the museum leaves his hardy in place.
adam - Wednesday, 07/12/06 13:11:13 EDT

Miles: I agree; he was full of it. May still be, for all I know. The guy who really doesn't know what he is doing is the guy who has only one O/A tip that he keeps trying to do different work with. Of course, I only have one stinger for my stick welder (if you don't count the old crusty ones I keep just in case).

Actually, the more I think about it, I'll retract what I said. He's probably right, I *don't* know what I'm doing. Fun, though.
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/12/06 13:13:14 EDT

John: its a bit cofnusing! You say $3700 FIRM but you are ASKING $3600. Sounds like one of my resolutions. :)
adam - Wednesday, 07/12/06 13:13:48 EDT

The 2 guys I know who really wanted rolling mills just each found one- for a whole lot less than 3700, too. More like $500, and one of em was a good twice as big as what you list, the other about the same.
Not to insult the quality or value of your machine in any way, but I think rolling mills are much more of a specialty item than ironworkers, and while expensive new, often go for very cheap used.
So I think, depending on where you live, $3600 or so is gonna be a tough sell on a small rolling mill like that.

Meanwhile, the only ironworkers I ever see go that cheap are either really ancient Buffalo No 1/2's, which came over on the mayflower, 35 ton mechanicals, or the very first Dvorak/Scotchmans, with the inboard punch.
Both of these machines have many compromises.

My experience is based on the pacific northwest and west coast, where industry is scarcer, and used machinery always brings top dollar.
But out here, a decent 50 ton ironworker, especially if its hydraulic, never goes below 5 grand unless you are taking advantage of a widow.
And a really high quality one, like a Mubea or a Peddinghaus, can still get closer to 10 grand used.

Good luck, though.
ries - Wednesday, 07/12/06 13:43:58 EDT

FOR SALE: 400# Beaudry Power Hammer-has all parts to get operating, Needs brass guides,motor, jack shaft assembly
and treadle to run. Head has been rebuilt. or 613-424-0189
$1500.00 or Best offer or trade for smaller hammer that needs repair. will dicker!
- Stephen Sokoloski - Wednesday, 07/12/06 14:10:14 EDT

Ironworker: John Carter, I have a big mechanical ironworker I bought from a sawmill sitting in my yard. I don't know the brand, but it's quite large, and strained a 5 ton forklift to unload it.I'm out of room in my shop to set it up, and don't have money to add on more building. I'm in south Oregon, where are you?
mike-hr - Wednesday, 07/12/06 15:07:55 EDT

Stainless trays: I tried two different scrap stainless steels for forge welding trays in my forge. I don't know the alloys, but both were probably around 20 ga. They'd last for one, or at most two, welding sessions before they scaled all the way through and fell apart.
Mike B - Wednesday, 07/12/06 18:39:20 EDT

SS Trays: Try to find a piece of 318L stainless about 14 gauge. The L suffix indicates low carbon, making it scale less. I have a piece of "idunno" stainless that has held up for several days of all-day billet welding without a whimper. My tray is about an inch deep and I put a good 1/2" to 3/4" layer of kitty litter in it. I think the kitty litter keeps a lot of the direct flame off it, helping its life.
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/12/06 20:45:04 EDT

Beaudry: That sounds like a pretty good deal. I wish it was where I could get it.
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/12/06 20:46:39 EDT

Forge Linings: I have heard of refractory products being renforced with chopped thin guage stainless wire (probably a special aloy), and since I have some carbon fiber cloth I was thinking of chopping some of THAT up and mixing it with some ITC-100 or something. Sort of like the nylon fibers they use for concrete. Isn't carbon fiber cloth just graphite? Seems like graphite would be able to take the heat, anyone have any opinions or experiance with that?


Yes, My old forge forge with the ram-able lining surounded by ceramic fiber took much longer to heat up, it was a good trade off for the durability. I think it would still be going strong if it had been made in several pieces that could move independantly instead of a single shell. Sort of like control joints in concrete, allowing it to move in one place instead of just breaking were ever it wanted.
Leaf - Wednesday, 07/12/06 21:14:11 EDT

Expansion: Leaf, That is also something to consider when using stainless steel with its high coeficient of expansion.

The stainless reinforcement is random stainless turnings (lathe chips). Paw-Paw had some and used it furnace patching cement. It did help in that case.

Because of their size I think graphite fibres degrade then burn when exposed to high heat and oxygen. Not sure though. Normally they are embedded in an air tight matrix when used as reinforcement.

Several forge designs use bolted together bodies for maintenance. If I were building another large shop forge I would stick to foundry refractory bricks for the floor. The old NC's had 1" of refractory fibre board and 1/2" of fired refractory of some sort over it. The new NC's have a 1.5" cast slab floor. If they had been designed for common bricks from the beginning it would have been better.

Bricks however, make a heavy forge and gaps open up between them. Stainless foil would be a good liner under the brick if refractory fibre board is used underneath. When I build things for myself all kinds of little details work their way in. . .

If you want an indestructable forge welding flux tray then try platinium.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/12/06 23:38:17 EDT

Forge pans: Platinium or PLATINUM!?!??

The lathe chips make sence, I had read about stainless "needles" but it didn't elaborate. I will have to expiriment with a carbon fiber sample and report back after I rebuild my forge again. Probaly I will just use fire bricks as my forge floor as it is the right hight for the fire brick stock supports outside anyways. I have K-23s and high duty hard bricks, but k-28 IFB would probably be beter.
Leaf - Thursday, 07/13/06 01:56:42 EDT

Leaf: Use the high-duty hard firebrick for the floor, if you want flux resistance. Those K-28 insulating bricks get gobbled up by flux really fast, from what I hear. High alumina content usually means quickly eaten, in my experience. After all, fluxes are intended to dissolve oxides, and alumina is just another oxide.
vicopper - Thursday, 07/13/06 10:18:37 EDT

Platinum: Definitely platinum, if you can get it. It is the standard for laboratory crucibles for high-heat applications, as it is very nearly inert (more inert than gold) and darn near indestructible. Admittedly, it is a mite expensive, but that only adds value to your forging, right?

Way back when, the peasants living in Siberia discovered a nifty soft, gray metal that, unlike tin, didn't crumble in the bitter cold or burnout when used for stovepipes. Yep, platinum.
vicopper - Thursday, 07/13/06 11:14:39 EDT

Platinum: I tried getting prices on platinum sheet a few years ago and had no luck. Even if it were quite pricey it might be worth it compared to refractory linings that are not so inexpensive themselves. A $200 - $300 pan might be cost effective compared to a $100 reline kit and a day's labor every couple years. .
- guru - Thursday, 07/13/06 11:33:01 EDT

Platinum cost: You'd want pretty pure platinum, maybe just about 5% ruthenium to harden it some, so it would get expensive. If you used 24 gauge sheet, the weight of a 5" x 8" x 1/2" pan (53 in²) would be just about one pound. At today's spot market price of $1245.00/ounce for platinum, you're talking around twenty grand. You can reline a good-sized car kiln for that, I think.

Even if you just used 28 gauge, it would still be 2/3 pound, about the same price as buying a Nazel 4b, or four of Grant's nifty induction forges that don't care about flux. On balance, I think I'd go for the induction forge. (grin)
vicopper - Thursday, 07/13/06 12:29:01 EDT

Stainless Needles: While lathe turnings will no doubt work, the big refractory supply houses sell little stainless steel needles- about 3/4" long, maybe 20 ga stainless wire, by the pound. I have used them before in cast rammable forges, and they work well.

I have been running a cast forge for 5 years or so now- Phillip Baldwin builds em for me- he uses 2 sizes of sonotube to make a mold for the cylindrical body, then a short piece of sonotube with foam inserts to make the ends.
With stainless needles and welding rod "rebar" for reinforcement, they hold up pretty well. No pipes or freon tanks, but we roll the finished tube in Kaowool on the OUTSIDE, then wrap the whole thing in light gage stainless expanded metal.
Yes, they take a bit longer to heat up, but they stay hot for a long time after shutdown- makes it practical to turn it off for lunch, and get back up to heat in a few minutes on restart. And they are tough and longlasting.
ries - Thursday, 07/13/06 13:09:10 EDT

Platinum cost: I couldn't believe your numbers so I ran them again. . .

.030" x 6 x 9 = 1.728 cuin.

1.43 lbs., 19.5 troy ounces at 21.45 sp/gr.

The killer is that platinum is twice as dense as lead! And 2.73 times as dense as steel. . . so that little piece weighs a LOT. Going to .010 thickness is still 0.576 pounds. Heavy little pan.

Yeah, I'll take two of Grant's induction forges and a roll of copper tubing. . . :)
- guru - Thursday, 07/13/06 14:00:07 EDT

lathe turnings: I picked up a pile of that stuff from a local machine shop for just this purpose Its a big tangle and they have wicked sharp edges. Havent figured out how to chop it up w/o trashing my tools. Might try a grinder with a cuttoff disk.
churl - Thursday, 07/13/06 17:33:42 EDT

lathe turnings,
We used to generate several hundred thousand pounds of birdnested SS turnings a month. Wicked sharp is almost an understatement! We ran them thru a wickedly expensive German shaving chrusher, that produced thumb nail sized chips. I suspect a grinder with a cutoff tool will be wickedly dangerous as the shavings will wrap around the wheel and start to be a high speed skin remover. And look at those julianne fries!
ptree - Thursday, 07/13/06 18:08:01 EDT

Guru, being cheap, I will have to just not use flux in my gas forge as I can't afford either the platinum pan or the two induction heaters. Now the copper tubing coil I might be able to afford.
I have a coal forge right next to the gas and use that to weld.
ptree - Thursday, 07/13/06 18:10:12 EDT

julianned churl: Good point! I will wrap them with band clamps first so that they are confined to 2" or 3" sections.

Delivery truck just dropped off 3 bags of Mizzou. That is good stuff - very flux resistant and its fine grained enough that you can do nice castings.
adam - Thursday, 07/13/06 18:52:24 EDT

Buzzboxes: I have to admit my first experience with stick welding in 9th grade shop with Lincoln tombstone buzzboxes was a bit traumatic: Stick = Stuck. I don't think I ever managed to run so much as 3/8" of bead before I stuck the rod to the work. . .

Of course I'm a bit of a klutz, but I didn't have near the problems with O/A.

Most of the time I can make a decent weld with my little Lincoln 170T mig. Indeed, somedays I can make a downright good looking bead with it.

One of these days I'm going to try out a DC stick welder to see if I can do any better. On the other hand I've heard tell of guys who could produce good looking welds with coathanger wire for electrodes on AC, but I doubt if I'll ever be one of them.

Seems like someone on here said it takes 50 pounds of rod to learn to stick weld well. . . I haven't got through the first roll of mig wire yet. . .
John Lowther - Thursday, 07/13/06 19:14:48 EDT

John Lowther,
Welding with stick is one of those use it or lose it propositions. You do have to burn a bunch of rod in a fairly short period to get good. Layoff for a month or three and the skill degrades. I notice a real change in bead quality after a layoff from stick and a gradual return. I used to blame the welder for this claiming that it had to warm up and drive out the moisture, BOG

The welder who laid the most uniform, sound and plain pretty weld bead I ever saw, was a production welder at the valve shop. Most days he burned over 50#. He stood at a WWI flat belt lathe converted to rotate valves, and laid in the seal weld on the bonnets. He had a variable speed drive, hooked to a foot pedal for the rotation, a jury rigged arm rest, and a perfectly tuned IdealArc powersupply. He typically ran about 55 hours a week, and hit piece rate about 98% of the time. He had been doing this job for 34 years. One of his other tasks was to weld Stellite into a cavity in globe valves for the seats to be machined from. Bare 1/4" rod, no flux, and a very preheated body. He could and did also do repair work, and those welds were sound and pretty too. He was our go to guy for cast machine part repairs for our antiques as well. Something about doing a skill all day, every day for three dacades will get a guy some proficiency
ptree - Thursday, 07/13/06 20:47:06 EDT

Platinum: I was pretty sure you'd see it my way, Jock. (grin)

Now is the perfect opportunity for Grant to ship one of his little induction units down here to see how it performs with outrageously high electric rates (>30¢/kwh). The benefits in a hot, tropical cllimate would be worth a small offset in fuel cost, believe me. A couple of 125K+Btu burners running wide open for welding sure do heat up a shop, I can tell you. Why, with one of those induction units, a feller might could afford to put a teeny little A/C unit in to take the sticky our of the air. Still, can't be sure until Grant sends one down to test...(grin)
vicopper - Thursday, 07/13/06 21:37:26 EDT

Stuck Welding: The electrode type has a good bit to do with success, John. The old standby 6010 rod is a nightmare for a novice on an AC machine, and not much better on DC. Get some 6013-AC rod and you'll change your tune pretty darn quick, believe me. Makes a pretty bead, and pretty darn sound one, even for a beginner. It's a slow-chill, medium penetration rod for mostly flat work. Nice stuff.
vicopper - Thursday, 07/13/06 21:40:10 EDT

Chopping SS razor wire: Wear heavy gloves, grab a big handful and feed the bundle to a jump shear an inch at a time. Repeat as necessary, or until knee gives out.
vicopper - Thursday, 07/13/06 21:42:10 EDT

stick welding: I worked on my stick welding for a while a few months back. The advice here was burn 100# of rod. Well I havent done that - mebbe 50# so far. But I notice a BIG improvement after just 10# and another significant jump after 20#. I went out to the shop and ran beads for 20 mins every morning. Like Rich says I started with 6013 which was very encouraging because it does make nice beads. The first thing I did was to practice striking an arc. People here gave me some good advice which helped.

#1 Get a really good ground - this will improve arc start and stability and the weld itself.

#2 Set up a comfortable welding position so that you can concentrate just on the bead

#3 Use two hands, the left can hold the rod if you like (you are wearing gloves) and rest one elbow on the work surface or against your body. Also drape the wire over your shoulder so that you arent struggling with 20' of heavy cable.

#4 Concentrate on the puddle not the arc - but theres more look at the far edge of the puddle - the freezing shoreline. This starts out pointy, swells to bullet nosed and finally to almost straight. Stop at bullet nosed and move on.
Itinerant Wiseass - Thursday, 07/13/06 22:12:39 EDT

6010 rods: No doubt 6010's are a nightmare on AC. They are a DC rod. I don't think anybody will get a decent bead with coathanger wire on AC. Bare electrodes on DC is the way arc welding was taught at the Hobart Trade School 50 years ago, if a guy could master that, He would be a wiz with covered electrodes. As VIcopper points out 6013 makes a nice bead, but if maximum penetration and the ability to weld through paint, rust, grease etc. is what You are after use the 6011.
Dave Boyer - Thursday, 07/13/06 22:29:57 EDT

6011 Electrodes: Actually, I don't like them a whole lot more than 6010. They *will* burn through about any crud, scale, rust, paint, or cow flop that's in your way, and penetrate very well. And weld uphill, downhill, sideways and inside-out, too. They just chill too damn fast for my liking and I make lumpy, bumpy cat turd beads with them 87.3% of the time. Pilot error, I know, but it annoys me anyhow. (grin)

When I want penetration and a nice bead, I use 7014 on DCEP. It penetrates almost as well as 6011, (but it does want a half way clean surface to start with), and it lays a bead as nice as or nicer than 6013. A truly great rod, in my totally biased opinion. I just wish I could get the local supply place to stock it.
vicopper - Thursday, 07/13/06 22:39:11 EDT

Palsied welder: A student told me this as being a true story. In the stick welding days, one of the Hobart instructors had tremulous hands. When laying a bead however, he would quit shaking. After a couple of days of observing this, my student asked himwhy he didn't shake while welding. The instructor replied, "Learned to weld 'fore I learned to shake".
Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/13/06 23:30:59 EDT

VIcopper: I guess I learned to like the 6011 because I was usually doing repair work, and HAD to be able to weld through the crap. I should be able to get 7014 around here, might even have some in the stash. Thanks for the tip.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/14/06 03:07:12 EDT

Shakey Hands: One of My really close boating friends asked Me to put some really small screws back in on something He was fixing. In His upper seventies, He was too shakey to get them started. I said "John, things like these screws may be getting more dificult due to the shakes, but some other things should be getting easier, like sanding and brushing Your teeth" I did get a grin, but He tried to act like He wasn't amused.
Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/14/06 03:13:59 EDT

thanks for the advice on cutting SS turnings

6011 ( 6010 is the DC version of this rod) is fast freeze all pos rod. Its actually not bad to learn with because there is very little slag and what you see when looking at the molten puddle is what you get. I never got anything as pretty as a 6013 bead or 7018 but a decent bead looks like a stack of dimes.

I must restart my welding practice.
- adam - Friday, 07/14/06 10:27:49 EDT

PS I just bought two 25' #1 welding cables for my hobart stick mate. Going to run 6' of #4 to the stinger to keep it easy to handle. The box came with 15' #leads and a really cheesy ground clamp.

IMO just the welding tips I got here were worth many times the price of CSI membership. It did more for my welding than a 3 month course at the local branch college.

I am thinking of putting some time and effort into my OA technique - especially now that I am getting a a Little Torch - its for my wife of course, but she will want me to show here how to use it! :)
adam - Friday, 07/14/06 10:34:53 EDT

erm....: "The box came with 15' #4 leads...."
adam - Friday, 07/14/06 10:35:49 EDT

Free Power Hammer: There is a posting for a free power hammer in the Guru's Den
- Paul - Friday, 07/14/06 10:51:35 EDT

Beginning welding: Thanks for the suggestions.

I'll have to remember to get some 6013 rod to try the DC welder with. I have some stuff that I'd like to weld that is out of reach of utility power, so I may try renting a generator welder, If I can't fond anyone to borrow one from.
John Lowther - Friday, 07/14/06 14:09:55 EDT

Adam and O/A welding: One thing that I fond really helpful when developing my O/A abilities was varying the ambient light and the shade of goggles I wore. Depending on the work you're doing, more or less ambient light makes it easier, as does more or less light reduction from the goggles.

And for you, who is almost as chronologically advanced as myself, be sure to wear either reading or computer glasses when practicing. Being able to actually *see* the details of the puddle make a huge difference in end quality, as you already know. In fact, I just ordered a new pair of computer-prescription glasses for the shop. That scrip allows me to do almost everything without having to waggle my head around like one of those stupid bobble-head things on a redneck's dashboard when I'm trying to do different tasks in the shop. In a couple more years, you'll really appreciate this tidbit, so write it down somewhere. (grin)
vicopper - Friday, 07/14/06 16:16:05 EDT

bobble-head: "That scrip allows me to do almost everything without having to waggle my head around like one of those stupid bobble-head things on a redneck's dashboard when I'm trying to do different tasks in the shop."

Rich- that also describes my antics at the firing range since I have been in these tri-focals.
Brian C - Friday, 07/14/06 19:39:07 EDT

Tri-focals and shooting: Last ime I went to shoot for qualification, I was going bats trying to shoot a practice string while wearing my bifocals. Pick a spot, any spot, but you can't see one or the other. Drat! I finally remembered I had my computer glasses in the car and tried them when I shot the qualifiying string. They were just right for the front sight blade, and allowed me a kinda fuzzy target picture. My score went from around 80% with the bifocals to 96% with the computer glasses.

That was shooting my department-issue Glock 19. Then I shot a third string using my brand new, previously unfired Glock 27. With a new gun, shorter sight radius, larger caliber, smaller grip, etc, I shot a 97%. The glasses made all the difference in the world.

My brother does the same thing these days, and a few other guys in the office. A couple of them were having a tough time makin gqualificatio ndue to the vision, but after they bought computer glasses, their shooting went up to passing marks.
vicopper - Friday, 07/14/06 20:29:55 EDT

addendum: Lest you think that 97% with the mini-cannon might be a fluke, I shot two more strings with it to settle that issue with one of the other rangemasters. Another 97 and a 95 (had one damn wild one in the 8 ring).

I'm thinking I should get a spare set of the glasses and velcro 'em on my holster for impromptu shootouts with bad guys. (grin)
vicopper - Friday, 07/14/06 20:34:21 EDT

vicopper-- what's the difference twixt/among computer glasses and plain old bifocals or reading glasses?
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/14/06 20:54:05 EDT

VIcopper - Glock: Does either of Your Glocks have the "New York" trigger? Do You llike or dislike it?
Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/14/06 21:23:35 EDT

Adam - Cables: Try the #1 right up to the electrode holder and see what You think, I have mine set up that way and don't mind it. You are going to like the new cables, probably be able to drop down on the amperage setting as most of it will get there now.
Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/14/06 21:48:44 EDT

Glasses and Guns: Miles -- Cheapo reading glasses from the drugstore are sold in different diopters, i.e. 1.0, 1.25, 1.5, etc. Other than the magnification (which has the effect of shortening focus distance for those of us with presbyopia (over 40 eyes, son). Enables us see close up and stop sufering the "my arms are too short to read" syndrome. The cheapos have no sphere, cylinder or axis correction, of course, since there are an unlimited number of possible permutations and Joe Layman has no idea what his prescription is, anyway. He just wants to read the funnies without asking for help.

Computer glasses are single-vision lenses with your regular distance prescription (axis, cylinder and sphere)modified by the addition of a magnifying diopter to adjust the focus distance. The same as if they were prescription reading glasses, with one difference; the diopter is changed to focus at a distance of around 24" for comfort whene sitting at a computer. So if you, like me, use a +2.25 diopter for reading, you might find a 1.0 to 1.5 comfortable for the computer. (I use +1.5 for the computer.)

I also spend the big bucks and get an anti-reflective coating sold under the brand name Crizal™, which cuts the glare for mthe CRT and seems to make them remarkably proof against scratching and pitting, even from minor grinder swarf. The stuff costs an extra $75-100 bucks per pair, but has saved me that many times over in not having to replace lenses. This is an uncompensated endorsement and I assume no liability for your own experience, real or fantasy. (grin)

Next week we'll cover hearing aids, and the following week we'll have an exciting show on adult incontinence aids. Be sure to tune in, and don't forget to support our sponsors, Fantastic™ cigarettes and Loosener's Castor Oil Flakes® -- Fantastic™ for the smile of success, and Loosener's® for glow of health!
vicopper - Friday, 07/14/06 22:08:46 EDT

...and now the guns: My Glocks have the 8# triggers. Works for me, and is what we issue as standard. The 5# is too tetchy and the New York trigger is only a sop to poor training standards. My opinion, of course. If you don't know enough to keep your finger off the damn trigger until you're ready to light one off, then you should be using a bat, not a gun.
vicopper - Friday, 07/14/06 22:14:56 EDT

ships and shoes and sealing wax: Dave: I will try that *#1 all the way* - thanks for the tip

Rich: Yes I discovered this when practicing stick welding - I now use my computer prescription at the anvil too - makes big difference especially in low light levels.

Miles a computer prescription is a near distance prescription set for about 3' out , a bit further than reading - I now have a prescription centered about where the far side of the anvil is. Someone here gave me a beautiful set of foundrymans safety glasses with cute little blue flip up half shades. I took them in to have them fitted with my anvil prescription and my optician drooled over them. Then we talked Little Torch for a while - he runs plain ole plastic tubing on his - and I thought I was a cowboy! But he did offer to sell me his spare, spare pair of small tanks for cheap. Picked up the Little Torch today and fired it up and melted a piece of steel wire. Going to try and braze some specs later - this will be a test of my new glasses and my dexterity. Couldnt find any clean sand for a soldering tray but I noticed Mark (the optician) uses salt in his so I will try that.

I will mess with the ambient light. IIRC Miles told me something similar for soldering. Again thanks.
adam - Friday, 07/14/06 22:27:30 EDT

Induction Forges : After seeing Grant Sarver demo his extremly nifty induction heater I did a little research. For anyone that missed it Grants unit will heat a 1" bar to white hot in something like 15 seconds, is much cheaper than gas to run and I think was around $3k. I read somewere that the heat from these things is more on the surface, seems like this would be bad for pattern welding. From my research it is just high frequency (quickly alternating) AC current and not very high voltage. That got me thinking, I have an old Lincoln 225 AC and a high frequency TIG attachemnt for it that I am not really using.. I am I smoking crack or do I allready have all the parts to make my own? I have seen ones online that people have made so I know that people do it, but not really the specifics. How large of a coil will one the size grant has take? Do they short out if you touch the bar to the coil? Do the "coils" have to enclose the obect or can they be open on one side somehow? I have heard auto body places heat up the frames with these and seems like they would have to be open on one side to do that, same with the induction hardened saw teeth. They would be alot more versitile this way that is for sure.
Leaf - Friday, 07/14/06 22:30:16 EDT

Crizal: hmm I should try that - I always end up with some spark damage from grinding. Might be well worth it. Those bifocals arent cheap. I am having a pair made with my anvil prescription (+1) at the bottom and a distance on top so I can look across the shop and see if my screwdriver is in the rack, read the clock etc.
adam - Friday, 07/14/06 22:33:34 EDT

VIcopper: I never got the hang of long trigger pulls, couldn't shoot doubble action to save My but. Ed McGivern I ain't. I learned on My Ruger Mk1 .22 bull barrel, and My S&W 27-2 .357. My preference in a heavy autoloader would be a single/double action with an exposed hammer. I did fire 1 shot from a Browning Highpower once, wasn't impressed with the way the thing fit My hand, but You don't get used to something in 1 shot... I worked with a guy who carried a Glock 40 with the New York trigger, but I never got a chance to fire it, or any other Glock.
Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/14/06 22:43:24 EDT

Leaf: I dont know how Grants setup works but I believe induction heating runs about 40Khz and very large currents while the HF start runs about 200khz and rather small currents and high voltage - 15kv to 20kv. The hf is just to ionized a path thru the air, once that path is established, heavy welding current rushes through and does the job. Also , the hf is generated by a spark gap which give a very "dirty" signal , basically all over the spectrum and there is a highpass filter to knock out the unpleasant low frequencies. Otherwise it would be like grabbing hold of a sparkplug lead. The welding current from the buzzbox is going to be 60hz just like the 240AC going in. I suspect a big chunk of the money in Grant's setup goes for a heavy duty inverter that converts line AC to the right frequency. I dont really know what I am talking about but I have thought along the same lines as you and decided it wasnt feasible. OTH blacksmiths are the guys who get stuff done because they are too ignorant to know it's not possible and too pig headed to listen when someone tries to educate them :)
adam - Friday, 07/14/06 22:47:57 EDT

Leaf - HF Tig welder: The HF on a tig welder is imposed over the DC or line frequency AC, the welding amperage is NOT at the high frequency, so it won't work to power the induction heater coil.
Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/14/06 22:51:03 EDT

Adam: I think You are spot on in Your HF post, it takes a high amperage inverter.
Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/14/06 22:54:17 EDT

Dave: I tried the New York trigger once and thought it sucked, to use the vernacular. About 12# of force, supposedly to emulate the longer, harder pull of a revolver, but it was a realy "guinea pig" - neither a guinea nor a pig. Well, closer to a pig, I guess. The 8# is a moderately heavy autoloader pull, longer than on a SA/only but not uncomfortably long. The 5#, as I said, was too light for the length of pull. On SA/only autos I've shot, a light pull was acceptable because it was so short. But for duty carry, I think the long-stroke 8# is a good solution.

I had a HighPower for a short time and liked the way it fit. Also liked the feel of the S&W model 39. Not so the 59. I have pretty long thin fingers, so I don't mind a fat grip, but the angle of the 59 was just wrong. The Glock is a natural for me; I can do passing well shooting almost blind with it, from all sorts of odd and uncomfortable positions. I consider it a very fine weapon, though graceless and homely. But I *do* trust it.

I spent years using wheel guns, almost exclusively S&W. Models 10, 11, 15, 19, 27, 60, etc. I had removed the single-action sear and hammer spur on several of them for snagless concealed carry. Purely combat weapons. (I was a S&W armorer, too.) Fine weapons. Given my druthers, I'd probably still carry one. Tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of rounds with never a malfunction. I can't say that for any auto I ever carried, with the sole exception of an old Colt Model 1911-A1. That old slabsides was a fine piece; John Browning was genius.
vicopper - Friday, 07/14/06 23:06:14 EDT

vicopper, adam-- Many thanks for clearing that up! You guys should do a geezereyesing column for the AARP. I emerged from the cataract surgery last winter with eyeballs that now work fine without outside lenses for looking at this instrument of the devil (although I wonder what, down the road, we will be told re: harmful rays ffom the screen). I got bifocal eyeglasses from Sears to handle a slight astigmatism in my left eye, distant vision, and for reading. I detest wearing them, too heavy, let the right eye pull sharp focus, use my dark Terminator-style safety glasses with the built-in 2.5 diopter bifocal for all situations except lengthy reading, for which I employ cheapo drugstore cheaters. For arc, I use the drugstore readers and for O/A I have my David Smith autograph model round goggles with 2.5 full lenses, screen side shields, nosebridge leather. For grinding I use a full-face plastic shield. The Matrix II is a great mask but you cannot fit earmuffs and a respirator under it. Poor near vision is a gigantic drag, and the sooner the lens-makers twig to the welder market out here, the better. So far, they don't seem to care much. MSC does have flip-up diopter lenses for O/A. And there are dirt-cheap diopter pasties that will make any pair of welding lenses into corrective glasses and that work fine.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/14/06 23:10:39 EDT

Old welders: I have an old Miller 225 AC that I snagfged out of the dumpster a while back. Just need to finish repairing the thread rod for adjusting the choke on it and it wil lbe functional if a bit mottley-looking. I have no need of it, as I have a fine AC/DC unit that I prefer, but I've been toying with the idea of scrounging up some hefty rectifiers for it and using it for the power supply for electrolytic de-rusting and electropolishing. I fI ran it on 110, it would have about 12 volts open circuit output and still have adequate amperage to handle enough square fee tof surface, I think. Maybe. This is one of those "blacksmith" notions, for sure. (grin)
vicopper - Friday, 07/14/06 23:12:38 EDT

"For arc, I use the drugstore readers" -- that's under the helmet, natch.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/14/06 23:14:12 EDT

VIcopper: That Glock felt good and pointed where I looked. I was pretty sure I could hit with it, but never got the chance to try. Harley Charlie wasn't suposed to bring it inside the plant, and probably wasn't supposed to bring it on the property, but He had a carry permit, and there wasn't a lot they could do as long as He left it in His truck, REALLY STUPID THING TO DO, the parking lot wasn't secure, and break-ins were not unheard of.
Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/14/06 23:43:46 EDT

Gun security: I find the simplest way to keep mine secure is in the holster, on my hip. Like my amex card, I pretty much never leave home without it. Of course, I'm *required* to carry the thing 24/7.

About the only time I don't carry it is when I go to the beach diving or snorkeling, because it doesn't swim well, shouldn't be fired underwater and I won't leave it vulnerable in a vehicle or elsewhere. Those times it stays at home in a hidey-hole that even a trained search team won't find without a dog. The safe is for show, and to give any burglar a hernia carrying it off. Filled with scrap iron. Important stuff belongs in safety deposit boxes in banks, or in super hidey-holes, not in false-security home safes. Another unsolicited opinion; I'm on a roll here, folks.
vicopper - Saturday, 07/15/06 00:43:45 EDT

hmmm... I wouldnt take it lightly if someone took off with some of my scrap iron. That would be a painful loss!
adam - Saturday, 07/15/06 03:16:05 EDT

ceramic kiln: I've been able to snag a large electric duncan kiln for cheap. Anyone else around here familiar with these things? My initial search on the net for stuff like manuals didn't really turn up much (maybe I didn't look long enough). I'd kinda like to know what I'm doing before I juice it up.

This is an extention of my glazing project a while back where I was having some porcelin work done on a stainless steel cross I made for a cemetary project. Seems I keep segwaying into different directions from the pounding iron hobby.
- Mike Sa - Saturday, 07/15/06 09:29:10 EDT

Voltage Changes:
VIcopper, I have done some weird things with transformers. Many industrial types are rated any way you want acording to what you hook them up to. A 240 to 120 transformer is just a 2:1 reducer. Put 120 in get 60 out. What changes drasticaly is the wattage duty.

An arc welder as plating transformer should work. There are some odd bits and pieces (capacitors) that are needed to help stabilize the arc but I don't think would be a problem.

I am temporarily OFF-LINE waiting for a new DSL modem. . .:(
- guru - Saturday, 07/15/06 11:14:01 EDT

Mike, They are just big resistance heaters - usualy 240 VAC. Soak up a lot of juice. Elements can go bad, linings get burned out or overheated and sag. Usualy take all day to heat up and all night to cool off. Watching cones is a full time job.

Kilns with temperature controls are quite valuable because the controls cost as much or more than the kiln. They are not absolutely necessary but make lif a lot easier.
- guru - Saturday, 07/15/06 11:18:23 EDT

Kilns: Usualy they have a "kiln sitter". That is a ceramic tube with two fixed prongs on the botom and a movable rod between them, you place a small square bar shaped cone spanning the lower prongs and when the cone gets hot enough to bend the movable sensor rod will come down and it will mechanicaly trip a switch that shuts off the kiln. You can get a pyrometer for fairly cheap to double check on things, but the cone bending is actualy a more acurate test for glazes as it has to do with time as well as temperature. A new kiln sitter is around $100 but all of the parts are individualy replaceable, a digital kiln control (that includes a pyrometer and relays) can run $300-$600 Or slightly cheaper if you can do some wiring and buy the components on ebay. If your not into electronics and high voltage wiring, a decent pottery supply will sell you one and install it for a price in the higher range. The digital control will give you longer soaking times (for crystaline glazes and such)and be more predictable theoreticaly. Because the sitter is just on/off, and once it is off the soak time just has to do with how large your kiln is, so the same glaze will behave very differnetly depending on the size of your kiln. You have to babysit your kiln when ramping it up to temp with a sitter by manualy switching it from low to high every few hours or you will crack your pieces. Once it is on high it should shut off on it's own at the right temp unles the sensor rod gets snagged or warped, the rods are made of Ni-chrome and you should inspect and replace them regularly, or your asking for a "melt down".

Kiln sitter
Leaf - Saturday, 07/15/06 15:40:30 EDT

Guns: I prefer my falconette with 1/3 to 1/2 cup F and a pound of ball bearings---who needs glasses!

Miles I have only 2 of those tanks left to cut up---found a friend with a good sized bandsaw that is working shares, Looks like I will have several gas forge bodies as well as the bells and dishing forms. Please scrounge more!

Thomas P - Saturday, 07/15/06 20:55:55 EDT

Still For Sale : Swedish Anvil and Big Tongs
- Tyler Murch - Saturday, 07/15/06 21:06:54 EDT

Thomas-- If I brought home any more of those I would need serious back-up from Dear Abby, Oprah and Dr. Phil combined to have the merest chance of averting a domestic explosion. I am under orders to deaccession, big time. Today I came across a beeeyoootiful old Raleigh 10 speed needing only new tires at the transfer station and had to leave it for the crusher because I had the managing director with me. I can tell you where I got them, however, but only if you don't tell another soul: Gallegos Scrap in Espanola, best junkyard in Northern New Mexico. I am glad you are putting them to use. Watch the sparks!!
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 07/15/06 22:20:11 EDT

Thomas-- p.s. Don't cut the bells TOO short-- a good-sized gong made from an oxygen bottle was going for $800 in a crystal boutique on the nouveaux chi-chi Upper West Side in Manhattan 10 years ago.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 07/15/06 22:23:28 EDT

Voltage Changes: OBTW. . . transformers can work backwards as well. However, the tendance is to fry the secondary due to arcing. A typical door bell transformer is 10:1 (120 VAC to 12 VAC). Reverse the leads and you get (120 VAC to 1200 VAC).
- guru - Sunday, 07/16/06 08:52:02 EDT

Transformers: Sure, they're nothing more than the electrical equivalent of a mechanical reduction unit, say a pair of sprockets and a chain. But, like the sprockets and chain, they work better with the load on the side it was designed for.
vicopper - Sunday, 07/16/06 09:12:53 EDT

Voltage changes. The main concern is arcing or insulation breakdown when a winding is run at too high a voltage. There are power considerations. If a coil is running at a LOWER voltage than it was designed for than it will be ables to sustain a lot less power before overheating. Doubling a voltage quadruples the amount of power one can push through a resistance.

I have used microwave transformers backwards - running 120vAC thru the high voltage side to be about 6V IIRC from the low voltage side.
adam - Sunday, 07/16/06 11:25:45 EDT

itty bitty stuff: Well I played with my er.. my wife's .. Little Torch yesterday. Was able to weld two small pieces 1/6 OA rod down their lengths. Soldering the temple bar on a pair of specs was less succesful since I couldnt get the borax to stay in place long enough to run and coat.

I got some advice before on fluxes which went over my head, but now I am ready to pay attention. I would appreciate recommendations for flux for silver soldering steel and for brass.

I tried to weld some .035 "Mild Steel" mig wire and I think the torch would have done it except that it burned up and sparked and I had noticed that its quite springy. It seems to have a lot of carbon in it. I guess they mean its FOR welding MS not that its made of MS. Why? I have no idea, just another mystery in the Black Art of Welding.
adam - Sunday, 07/16/06 14:29:10 EDT

Flux it...can I say that?: For silver soldering steel, I like Johnson's hard solder flux. HVAC places sell it, usually. Or, get some Battern's Self-pickling liquid flux from the jewelers' supply place. You can also make your own paste flux from anhydrous borax, boric acid and alcohol. The finer it is ground, the easier it wil be to deal with. Also, when making it up, add *one* drop of propylene glycol to two ounces of flux as a wetting agent. That makes it flow out on polished surfaces better. Jet-Dry dishwasher additive will work, too.

Mig wire is hard steel so it will run through the guide sleeve without bunching up in a wad. To get it hard, they add carbon, I think. During the welding process, a good bit of carbon probably burns out, leaving it "mild". Please note: this is MY personal superstition and should not be construed to have any necessary relevance to reality. (grin)
vicopper - Sunday, 07/16/06 14:48:52 EDT

Miles your secret is safe with me, I'm having a friend carve it on a bluff face by the interstate so I won't forget...

BTW wooden croquet or polo balls make imnsho the best clappers for the gongs
Thomas P - Sunday, 07/16/06 15:34:02 EDT

adam-- our tech staff here at Entropy Research has found that the work should be pickled first, the joint area emery papered clean. For silver brazing brass and silver, Handi-Flux, in the white tub with blue cap, is great stuff. Mix with water to a gooey consistency. For silver, the dread firescale can be averted to a large extent by using Prip's flux, named for a genius jewelrymaker and teacher who invented it. Go to www. and search their site for Peter Rowe's several superb explications thereof. I have the recipe otherwise. It is best applied to the metal after same is slightly heated, with a ceramist's mouth-powered glaze sprayer obtainable dirt cheap from the Web and from Artisans' Supply on Cerrillos Road. Prettier, much costlier ones available at Santa Fe Clay. The Prip's flux will form a white crust on top of the Handi-Flux. "Burn down" the flux first-- heat it until the Handi-Flux is through doing its bubbling action-- so it won't bubble and move the solder paillons. Now put the little paillons of silver solder, fluxed, on the joint or next to it. Heat carefully all over. It ain't like welding. You are not just heating along the joint with silver and brass. The whole piece has to come up to the solder flow temp, so rapidly does the heat spread. Main thing: take pains NOT to overheat the work or the flux will burn away and the solder won't flow. Pickle immediately after the metal has cooled enough not to bend when you pick it up.
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 07/16/06 15:34:53 EDT

Thomas-- Gasp! You are actually desecrating ballistically correct croquet balls by incorporating them into the body of gong, never to be seen again? For shame! I am going to tell the conductor! Remembering the name of that yard is one thing. Finding it is another.
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 07/16/06 15:41:22 EDT

Soldering: Great explanation, Miles.

I do prefer my flux recipe to the HandiFlux, though. Or the Battern's. My recipe, not having hydrated borax in it, doesn't bubble and pop near so much. I don't use the little paillons of solder very often, either. Mostly, I just use wire solder and feed the joint like sweat soldering copper pipe. It did take me a while to develop[ the skill to do it without getting too much solder, though. For really, really picky stuff, I'll still use the paillons, even beating them out thinner if need be.

Great point on the prompt pickling to remove firescale. A note on that: never, ever let any steel or iron get in a pickle pot. If you do, you will forever after have a copper flash plate on every piece of silver or gold you put in it. Copper tongs, ceramic or Pyrex™ pickle pot. I suggest the use of Sparex #2™ pickling solution, as it is somewhat more benign when it comes to spatters eating holes in your Levis. If you don't care, then 10% sulfuric acid works just fine.

Another note on pickling after soldering. With non-ferrous metals, dunking them while at or above a low red heat will anneal them. If you don't jwant them annealed, then let them cool normally and hot-pickle them. A crock pot works fairly well for keeping pickle at the preferred 165-200° temp.

Plain old boiling water will remove flux residue if you boil it long enough, BTW.
vicopper - Sunday, 07/16/06 18:06:44 EDT

Polo balls?: I didn't know there were boy polos; I always sort of though they were gender neutral. I know I've seen girls wearing them.
vicopper - Sunday, 07/16/06 18:08:28 EDT

vicopper-- Many thanks! Feeding the wire into the joint is especially effective when, as often happens here, alas, there is a not-totally-wonderful or incomplete fillet first time around.
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 07/16/06 18:48:02 EDT

I totally forgot to mention: it helps a WHOLE lot to be doing this in a dark or at least semi-dark room, so you can really watch the color of the metal, critical with silver and brass because there is nowhere near the leeway twixt good and gone that you have with steel, and to be working with no cooling breezes blowing upon the work that might cool it down. AND beware the nasty fumes!!!
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 07/16/06 18:51:28 EDT

Transformers: When I was a kid, we made a shocker out of a 12V transformer. We used a 6V lantern battery wired to the transformer's normal secondary through a doorbell switch. Whenever you make or break contact you get a big spike on the new secondary.

That's what mad scientists do when they're kids. Then my brother made a real transformer - a Tesla coil. We weren't mad enough to put both leads of the secondary to some poor, unsuspecting, , kid, but we did do some sword fighting using a pair of car radio antennas. That thing would light up a fluorescent light bulb just by putting it in the same room with the coil.

Woo Hoo!!!
- Marc - Sunday, 07/16/06 19:42:20 EDT

More soldering tips: Miles and Adam,

I have always dfone all my soldering of silver and gold on a block of refractory material to reflect some of the heat back. Most non-ferrous metals conduct heat really, really well compared to steel, and lose a lot of heat from the back and sides due to radiant loss. The old standard for jewelers was a charcoal block, but they crap out pretty quick. Soft insulating firebrick work well, but the surface is a mite porous. If you sand one down smoother and then give it a coat or three of ITC-100 it can be made really smooth. Let the ITC-100 air dry, then sand it with a block and some 220 grit aluminum oxide sandpaper. Then fire it. Gives a dandy surface for soldering.

A plain soft firebrick has one advantage; you can use little wires bent like bench dogs to hold work from wandering. Use stainless steel for the wires.

Good point on the ambient light, Miles. I like an old-fashioned incandescent gooseneck work light ove rmy bench, and I plug it into a dimmer. Gives me whatever light I need, ad lib. Then turn on the fluorescent to do the filing, engraving, etc. I need a lot of light for that stuff.

Also, if you don't like the size wire that solder is customarily available in , just anneal it and draw it finer. in phoenix sells some cheap Indian or Pakistani drawplates that work just fine. Don't use beeswax for drawing lube, though. It leaves a residue whern soldering. Use paraffin instead, and wash it off afterwards with acetone or toluene.
vicopper - Sunday, 07/16/06 21:20:33 EDT

Kiln: thanks for the advise on these things. This one has dual heat zones & the kiln sitter on it (I was trying to figure out how in the world it worked....those bendable cones make sence).
- Mike Sa - Sunday, 07/16/06 22:08:44 EDT

Please be advised that the next meeting for CSI has been rescheduled for the 25th of July at 8:00 pm EDT, all CSI members are encouraged to attend.
- dale - secretary -CSI - Sunday, 07/16/06 22:15:42 EDT

Silver Solder Advice: Great advice, My experience with it is mostly with 45 or similar for carbide tool tips, and 15 for copper to copper HVAC lines. What solder do You use for the work described?
Dave Boyer - Sunday, 07/16/06 23:05:39 EDT

vicopper-- Again, thanks! I'll try the ITC-100-coated firebrick idea.
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 07/16/06 23:05:56 EDT

Solder: Dave, I use jewelers' silver solders in the range from "extra easy" up to "hard", and karat gold solders as appropriate to the gold being soldered. I have never bothered with the industrial silver solders other than SilFos and SilFlo.
vicopper - Monday, 07/17/06 09:25:50 EDT

Miles: these croquette balls are so old that they would only be suitable for "letting the punnishment fit the crime" as the Lord High Executioner would say. Not ballistically correct at all...

Rich, next time I'll let you run out during the Polo match and abscond with the balls...Horses and Mallets what a combination...

Did about 1/2 of a boot scraper for a friend last night, having had about the first good rain in nearly a year last week they found out they needed one...

Thomas P - Monday, 07/17/06 10:32:35 EDT

soldering wisdom: Thanks Miles & Rich for all the tips. I am going to copy this to my personal notes. Guru might consider enshrining this in a FAQ.

Also what are SilFos and SilFo

Goint to try and repair my Bernzomatic Propane torch. It cracked at the thin parts where they had drilled it for the air intake. Close examination (new specs) reveals that a 1mm groove had been milled around the circumference before they drilled out the intake holes. @#$%^! WTF were they thinking putting a stress riser rigth at the thinnest part?
adam - Monday, 07/17/06 11:16:53 EDT

Adam, that little groove is there so the whole burner tip will crack right off when you knock the torch over. This is sound economic practice for the manufacturer, as it means you have to buy a new torch every time you knock the old one over. In all seriousness, I suspect it's a lawyer-mandated thing, since if you clogged some of the little holes in the tip when you knocked it over and the thing didn't break, it might create a slightly unsafe operating condition for total idjits. As if an idjit with a good torch is any less dangerous than an idjit with a slightly backpressured torch...
Alan-L - Monday, 07/17/06 12:02:34 EDT

Soldering/brazing carbide: Dave (or anyone else), mind sharing your technique/tips? Been wanting to give it a shot with some busted inserts but can't find any info on the subject.

Funny enough, guys, I fixed one of my torches that I'd done just that to, by -- ta-dah! -- soldering it back together. (BoG) I used another torch of a similar type for the purpose. Works as good as new. I reckon that's the best way to do it; feel free to prove me wrong!
T. Gold - Monday, 07/17/06 13:47:45 EDT

Carbide inserts: Tyler,

I've made a few hole saws using the carbide teeth out of circular saw blades set into worn out bimetal hole saws. These were for drilling medium large holes in stucco and concrete block, so they weren't precise at all. I just ground a rough notch to hold the insert, and brazed it in with ordinary brazing rod and flux. Nothing special at all; I didn't even bother trying to align the teeth, just let run wild. The worked just dandy for thousands of holes.
vicopper - Monday, 07/17/06 17:08:57 EDT

adam-- you're welcome. Next crisis: holding the stuff you are going to be conjoining with solder in a way that is immovable yet not a heat sink. There is a costly, clever little devil called Benchmate, not to be confused with Benchmade the knife manufacturers, available for close to $300 I think from GRS and other such suppliers. This has some articulated arms coming up out of a metal plate, with screw-down, not spring-loaded, alligator clips that can withstand heat. With it come various other goodies. BUT, if you just want a functional hoodgie for soldering purposes alone, Santa Fe Jewelers Supply has a near-dupe, just the arms and the clips, mounted on a steel plate, with a soldering board, and maybe a magnifying glass,too, I forget, for $60-something.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 07/17/06 18:35:00 EDT

Brazing / Silver soldering carbide : Brazing works, silver solder is easier as it seems to flow better. You can use rod or wire material, but the thin sheet [looks like shim stock] cut to fit between the carbide and the tool shank slathered with flux is the easiest way to get a clean job. Some sort of a simple fixture to hold the carbide in the shank while heating helps. Heat with a neutral flame untill the silver solder flows. If using wire or rod, flux the pocket in the shank before putting the insert in and flux the rod as well. This is a sweating operation just like on any other material. There are carbide braze in tips available in the common metal cutting grades, or You could use dull replacable inserts as a source of carbide. Grinding goes much better with a diamond wheel, I suggest 100 grit 100% concentration. This cuts fast and leaves a half decent finish easily corrected with a diamond hone.
Dave Boyer - Monday, 07/17/06 23:28:01 EDT

cant have too many vises - I dont care what they say in church!

Well I have a tray of sand, a piece of soft fire brick, a pc of Kaowool bd that was always too expensive to use in a forge where the flux will kill it and one of those little articulated thingies with two arms and SS ally clips. I think I will make myself a little peg vise and other small gripping tools until I can find an excuse to buy the $60 gizmo.

Yes I am going to solder the POC bernzomatic back to gether with my little bernzomatic butane torch. I am not enamored of Bernz et al. I am inclined to agree with Alan that this is an example of stupidity that can only be explained by maliciousness.

BTW it was Sir Thomas Crapper who invented the flush toilet and was knighted for it by ole Queen Vicky herself. A major contribution to assuaging the cholera epidemics that ravaged London in Victorian times. Now his name is ... well .. crap! In some circles its even considered a cuss word. Fame isnt always a blessing
adam - Monday, 07/17/06 23:32:18 EDT

Break away groove in torch: That is supposed to be a safety device so the torch breaks AFTER the orfice so You only have a small fire to deal with, rather than the entire contents of the tank burning at once if there is an accident.
Dave Boyer - Monday, 07/17/06 23:33:46 EDT

Many hands make light work: Particularly when it comes to soldering little bits that want to do the hokie pokie all over the bench when you start to heat them.

The sllick -looking gizmos wiht the two or three articulated alligator clips, etc are really not all that great, in my experience. Therre's never enough room between them, the clips can mar the work at soldering heats, and the whole thing seems to get in the way more than it helps.

For larger work, such as the little silver "scale" carriages and toys I used to make, I just tied stuff in place with soft iron binding wire, about 30 gauge. If you put a little "Z" kink in it, it accomodates thermal expansion.

For small stuff, I prefer the old-timey jeweler's "third hand" device; basically a moderately heavy base with a minimally articulated holde for a pair of cross-locking tweezers. Three or four of these will allow you to hold a number of little pieces in place at once, and can be arranged so as to cause the least interference to your big clumsy hands getting in there with the torch and solder.

If you make your own crosslock tweezers, you can have them in a number of differeing lengths and tip configurations, expanding your finesse. The smooth jaws of the tweezers don't generally mar your work, and can be diddled to a perfect fit, unlike alligator clips.
vicopper - Tuesday, 07/18/06 10:05:21 EDT

anh borax: Rich how do you suggest grinding up the anhydrous borax to a fine power?
adam - Tuesday, 07/18/06 15:33:28 EDT

Throwing Hatchet: Looking for someone to make a Throwing Hatchet from a Railroad Spike (saw the Worksheet on The Anvil Fire Website). Have the spike and will send it to you. IT is for a gift so time is a factor. Please email or call. 907-723-3776.
Stacy - Tuesday, 07/18/06 17:10:44 EDT

Looking for someone to make a Throwing Hatchet out of a Railroad Spike, I saw the worksheet for it on The Anvil Fire Website. Have the spike, will send it. For a gift and anxious to get going on it. 907-723-3776. Stacy
- Stacy - Tuesday, 07/18/06 17:44:16 EDT

Email sent, Stacy
- Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 07/18/06 18:53:21 EDT

Grinding borax: The time-honored and traditional method is to use a metaté and a manno. Should be a lot of those floating around in the Southwest, right? (grin)

Actually, I find that one of those little whirly-round coffee grinders works just dandy. Takes about two seconds to make it purty near a flour. Handy for micro-mincing other things, too. I wouldn't use it for coffe after using it for borax, though; might really flux you up.

Another good way to get it really fine is in a ball mill. Piece of pipe, some big ball bearings and a little motor to run it round and round.
Coffee/spice grinder
vicopper - Tuesday, 07/18/06 21:22:52 EDT

daily grind: It's not often I come across one word I have never even heard of never mind two together. I had to google this

Until I can organize a child bride from Central America, its going to have to be the coffee grinder

adam - Wednesday, 07/19/06 08:38:15 EDT

Words: I'm really glad I could expand your horizons a bit, Adam. Livingin the Southwest, you need to know these things. How else you gonna get the authentic tortillas?
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/19/06 14:08:49 EDT

Daily Grind: At our NPS archeological storage facilities we tend to keep metate's in a special section with heavy shelving and high floor load ratings. :-)

Since our house is littered with generations of mortars and pestles (from generations of cooks, general store owners and doctors) I seldom lack something to grind with.
Visit your National Parks, "Do the Matate' " ;-)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 07/19/06 15:14:25 EDT

Rich, you buy them from the abuelita sitting outside the store like everyone else!

You gotta remember that Adam is living in a place that was cut off from the local area for many years with an armed guard to make sure nobody escaped---I mean got in. Los Alamos is still a bit "different" than the local culture and a lot different than the culture of Santa Fe or Taos...

Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/19/06 16:42:07 EDT

Lost Alamos: Oh yes, I recall all too well going to visit our family friends there in the fifties and sixties. Being scrutinized by machine gun-toting military personnel by the two big guard towers. When we drove down there from Boulder, we usually went through Buena Vista on the way, the home of the Colorado State Reformatory. Even at a young age, the similarity between the two was not lost upon me. (grin)

Bob Mills used to say that getting in and out was much easier for us than for him. I don't doubt it. Kind of an interesting place, back then. I haven't been there in twenty years, so I have no idea what it is like now.

Is it still like a large subdivision, rigidly controlled by a committee with no sense of aesthetics? I just remember street after winding street of houses that all lookied exactly alike. How do they find their way home drunk, I wonder?
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/19/06 18:16:01 EDT

Grinding: At least get the spelling right; mano y metate. Mama uses her metate for gringing corn, and if I put borax on it, I'd have to go hide in the root cellar.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/19/06 18:20:37 EDT

Lost Alamos has had some changes since they lost the armed guards; but especially since the "controlled burn" wasn't and a lot of houses got burned down and the gov paid through the nose to rebuild them---your tax dollars at work!

Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/19/06 18:24:59 EDT

Loa Alamos
I saw a news brief today that Los Alamos lab was fined big$ for sending haz waste to the local landfill, in direct violation of a consent order filed to clean up the "Ash dump". Talk about boneheaded buracrats! They sent 20 tons of haz waste to a dump, when other Gov't buracrats had gone to court to get them to do the clean up right. You tax dollars at work.
ptree - Wednesday, 07/19/06 19:08:19 EDT

Translation: We call it "Lost Almost".
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/19/06 19:38:29 EDT

Los Alamos: They are reinstating the armed guards under the auspices of Homeland Security. Mainly to keep out the riffraff who are prone to make snotty remarks about the local architecture (which is deplorable). It still looks like a made over army camp. You wouldn't guess from driving through that it has one of the highest concentrations of millionaires in any US county. The housing control is long gone but the "traditional aesthetics" remain. Contrary to the silly propaganda that is spread by Ed Grothus and people in Santa Fe, it's a friendly and relaxed place to live. I have a trail right out my backyard that goes deep into the national forest. I dont lock my house - sometimes I dont even close the front door. One time I misplaced my wallet in a busy office. It showed up in my mail box that afternoon, intact. Even late at night you can see young women jogging alone. We never worried about our kids on the streets. This makes for a very pleasant life. I have always been an odball and a noncomformist, but here I dont even attract attention.

One of my coworkers is from a local pueblo, and speaks some Tewa and has good Spanish. She had never heard of the words "metate" & "mano". So I feel a little less guilty about my abysmal ignorance. Still after living here for so long I should know more about the indigineous culture. We are pretty much an island in the sky. 17000 white folk mostly with advanced degrees doing high tech work in the middle of nowhere. That was the point in choosing it for the Manhattan Project. Something of that mindset persists.

The contrast with Santa Fe and Taos is almost delicious. That the last unreconstructed 60's holdout should be next door to the last unreconstructed holdout of the cold war almost makes me believe in supreme deity with wicked sense of humor!

I'll put in a word with tower guards that they are not gun down the blacksmiths until they have checked with me.
adam - Wednesday, 07/19/06 20:03:42 EDT

Typos: Sorry, Frank. I seem to have gotten stuck on automatic when typing mano. It happens. Kinda like "gringing", I suppose. (grin)

I don't suppose I'd want anybody grinding roach poison on *my* metate, either. Else the offender would likely find that same white powder thickening his posolé.


One of the few things I really miss about living in Phoenix was the wonderful abuelita who came by the industrial park (where my sign shop was) every third day or so, selling the world's finest tamales. No matter how many times I try, I simply cannot learn to make them half as good as hers. She was a culinary artist.
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/19/06 21:35:36 EDT

Los Alamos:

We're really soory about burning part of the place down; we've gotten a lot batter at "controlled burns" since then. We really do try to keep a good relationship with both the Federal facility and the neighbors.

Observe the opening "Note" on the web page for Bandalier National Monument.

Bandalier National Monument , hard by Los Alamos
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 07/20/06 08:04:22 EDT

Bruce have you finally managed to teach them "Pillage *then* burn"? It's always such a waste to burn the village when all the posessions are still inside the houses...

The abuelita is down by the supermarket entrance; but the burrito lady comes to our building and even uses the lobby phone to call her regulars...

Thomas who couldn't finish the breakfast burrito (red) he had---too big!
Thomas P - Thursday, 07/20/06 10:43:33 EDT

the rape of Los Alamos: Yes it was a mistake by Bandelier in starting a controled burn just before heavy winds sprang up. While it was indeed a serious mistake, I think they deserved a bit more understanding than they got. There was a large accumulation of unburned brush and ignition material and they had been desperate for a chance to burn it out for some time. Conditions were extremely dry and they were basicaly sitting on a powder keg. If they hadnt burned, it might well have gone up anyway and they would have been damned for negligence or over cautiousness where bold, decisive action was required to disarm a ticking bomb.

Fortunately the Vikings never showed up and although the town was evacuated for a week there was almost no pillaging
adam - Thursday, 07/20/06 12:09:22 EDT

Uncontrolled Charcoal Rick:

You'll notice on the link above (singled out, below) that Bandalier National Monument now has an EXTENSIVE section on fire management.

Following the fire we had to do emergency surveys of hundreds of archeological sites that we never knew we had. From what I heard we mostly beat out the pot hunters. :-(

Fire Management Site
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 07/20/06 15:20:22 EDT

Misnake: Adam had it right; it's Bandelier, not Bandalier.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 07/20/06 15:22:04 EDT

vicopper-- yesindeedy, there are kajillions of metates and manos still lying about back in the woods around here. It's just against various antiquities laws to pick them up, is all. I've been hanging about Los Alamos man and boy since 1959. My wife grew up there, and thus has, as Adam suggests, no sense of any need to lock anything. Me, though, I grew up in company towns-- Johnstown, Pa. and Dundalk, Md., bedroom for Sparrows Point's vast yards and mills-- and Los Alamos is no different. Just a company town for the bomb biz instead of steel. There is the strict apartheid system. Instead of management vs. blue collar here it is no Ph.D. and one is a wog, plain and simple. Now they have Bechtel to further complxify the picture, tra la.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/21/06 08:04:09 EDT

Pre Columbian Antiques:
This is BIG business in Central America. Both real and fakes are sold in little shops all aver. The tricky thing about the fakes is that they are made of the same type clay, in the same exact style by the same indiginous people that often live lives little unchanged from the time of Columbus. Those selling the fakes can honsetly say "this is a real Indian artifact". The just fail to say they are not more than a couple years old. . .

Some produce actual three legged stone metate. I saw a father teaching his son to carve the volcanic pumic stone along a road side. His tools were no different that a thousand years ago, stone hammer and chisel. These stone fakes are quite rare and most do not have the grace of the old ones. And no matter how hard you try to make them look old there is something about being burried by ash in a volcanic erruption then laying in the rotting soil for hundreds of years that is hard to reproduce. The majority of the stone "relicts" are made of concrete, obvious reproductions and sold in open markets.

The pottery is more difficult to identify real from fake. It is so cheap to make that those that want to try to sell the reproductions as antique can afford to bury the pieces in a dung heap or mulch pile and wait a decade. It can be a good investment as the results are very very difficult to identify as fakes and sell for quite high prices. However, one give away is that they are almost never cleaned and still have loose dirt and tree roots attached.

We went to a great deal of trouble to visit an archelogical site in Costa Rica that was listed in a Natinonal Geographic guide. It required a local guide and many questions to locate it. The Indian city was described as having broad paved streets and the remains of many building foundations. . . . What we found was a field of tall grass surrounded by thousand hectare pineapple fields. After beating around in the field for a while all we found were the water filled remains of holes dug to extract the few remaining atrifacts. Not a stone of the paving was left. . . not a trace of what had been clearly seen 20 years before. . .
- guru - Friday, 07/21/06 09:23:43 EDT

Stone spheres: When I visited the National Museum in San José, Costa Rica, I saw some early, Indian made stone spheres, one of them about 7' in diameter. Others were smaller, and I think they made them down to about fastball size. My host told me that if I returned home and tried to get one of the small ones on the plane, it would be "curtains" for me. They are considered national treasures. The large spheres are just about perfectly round.
Frank Turley - Friday, 07/21/06 13:38:46 EDT

Stone spheres: The interesting thing about them is that they have been measured and are very near perfect, AND they have no clue what they were for or about. They are only found in Costa Rica and are one of the symbols of the country.
- guru - Friday, 07/21/06 14:54:20 EDT

Alaska: I just returned from my vacation in Alaska. I posted a couple of pix at
- John Odom - Friday, 07/21/06 15:44:12 EDT

wogs: Ive been here over 20 years. I havent noticed an apartheid system based on Phds. Of course within the ranks of the Lab employees there definitely is a hierarchy of education - which is no surprise since it's a research inst. Still just so that you guys dont feel at a disadvantage when you come to visit, I can, for a small donation to my scrap pile confer honorary Phd's and paper cone hats so that you wont stick out like sore bums.
adam - Friday, 07/21/06 18:23:19 EDT

adam-- Okay, thanks. I'll take one, the real deal, on parchment, so that all men might know by those presents that I am a doctor of philosophy in advanced bodgery.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/21/06 20:44:13 EDT

cleaning rust: my brother recently gave me a sword that i thought was either stainless or galvanized. aparently its not, today i inspected the sword closely and was annoyed to find that rust was beginning to take hold on the shining blade.

does anyone have any suggestions of how to clean off the rust to resture the absolute shine of the blade? also any suggestions on what to do to prevent rust from showing up again?

also on a side note all those tips for my forge payed off. i got it to heat up a hell of alot hotter. im still not too good though....
Isaac - Saturday, 07/22/06 05:22:57 EDT

Blade Cleaning:

I use Metal Glo polishing paste with some success, followed by Rennaissance micro-crystaline wax polish. Both are available (as I remember) from United Cutlery. Okay, UC carries a real mixed bag of products, including a number of (to my eyes) really cheesy fantasy blades; but this stuff seems to work pretty well for minor rust breakouts. I was cleaning-up my laminated Frost/Mora sheath knife from my ditty bag with it just the other night (bought back when Ted Turner was known as an America's Cup skipper, and exposed to lots of use and salt water since then).

Whatever works, works. I'm sure there are some other methods, including good ol' elbow grease and a soft, white non-abrasive mechanical pencil eraser. (I've used that too, for really fine work.)

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 07/22/06 08:17:09 EDT

Rust preventative:
Cosmoline™, that gooey, gunky compound that the military just loves to slather all over weapons and machine tools for shipment and storage, is basically a "petroleum jelly." Guess what works just as well, is easier to clean off, and is available just around the corner? Yep, you guessed it; Vaseline™ petroleum jelly. A $2.00 jar will coat every tool in your shop, keep them rust free for more than a year, and will still wipe off with a dry rag. Hard to beat that.
vicopper - Saturday, 07/22/06 10:27:43 EDT

power hammers: I have called many different places about power hammers and all the information is mind boggeling!. I am looking at purchasing a power hammer and have narrowed down my choice to two hammers, The Big Blue or a Phoenix Hammer. I am opening up a shop and will need durability, quiet operation and reliability. Can someone please tell me which hammer they recommend and help me understand the hammer to anvil ratio?
- steve chilingirian - Saturday, 07/22/06 18:57:10 EDT

anvil ratios: until you get an answer from the guys who really know, here's my 2c. Ideally the anvil should act like an immoveable object and absorb none of the hammer blow. This means that a maximum amount of energy goes into the work and nothing goes into shaking the ground and annoying your neighbors. The greater the mass ratio in favor of the anvil the closer you approach this ideal. I think the working # for power hammers is something like 10:1 or better. With anvils and hand hammers, where energy is more precious the ratio is 50:1. Also, a happy consequence of heavy anvil is that you will need a lot less foundation - by the same principle as above.
adam - Saturday, 07/22/06 20:41:20 EDT

Power Hammer: I've never used a Phoenix hammer, but I have used the BigBlu and the Iron Kiss. For my money, yoiu simply cannot beat the Iron Kiss. Powerful, super control and built like a battleship. One other plus for the Iron Kiss is the builder , John Larson, is one of the nicer guys you'll ever deal with, and his support of his hammers is legendary.

This is not to disparage the BigBlu. It is a very fine hammer and Dean Curfman and Josh and ther rest are great guys. I just think the Iron Kiss hits harder and has abit more precise control. Ric Furrer, noted bladesmith, has also given the IronKiss a pretty strong endorsement on BladeForums. Also, it uses both John's dies and the Uri Hofi-designed custom dies sold by Tom Clark of the Ozark Blacksmithing School. (The same die types used by the BigBLu.)

I have heard that the Phoenix is a bit of an air hog compared to other hammers in the same size class. Again, I have no firsthand knowledge.

Either way, I think you'd be happy. If you're going to attend the QuadState gathering, both makers will be there with plenty of opportunities to test drive them and see which one suit your particular style and taste. I haven't seen the Phoenix hammers before at QuadStates, but BigBlu and John Larson always show up with hammers to test. Even if you went for no other reason, that would be enough to go and check them out. No better way to form your own opinion, plus get some free powerhammer lessons.
vicopper - Saturday, 07/22/06 21:03:13 EDT

Hammer:anvil ratios: Adam has it right. The more anvil mass, the more effective the hammer will be, up to about a 20:1 ratio. After that, you've hit the point of diminishing returns.

Another reason to recommend the IronKiss hammer. The anvil to hammer ratio on the IronKiss is over 12:1 on the 90 pound hammer. Not sure what it is on his bigger hammers, but it will be pretty much the same, I'm sure. The ratio for the BigBlu 110# hammer is 6½:1, about half that of the Iron Kiss. That may account for why I think the IronKiss 90# hits much harder than the BigBlu 110#.
Iron Kiss
vicopper - Saturday, 07/22/06 21:12:16 EDT

Ironkiss vs. BigBLU vs. Pheonix:
John builds the Ironkiss hammers pretty much as a hobby and so far has built about two a year, all different in many details.

The Big BLU is a production machine selling hundreds per year. They almost always have a dozen in inventory as well as parts in stock. If you need two or three TODAY they are ready to ship or pickup.

Although others are making the Hofi style dies Big BLU has done the development and the very fine details that make them work the best are from their development and use. Big BLU not only manufactures these hammers and dies but has three in their busy shop operating every day.

The BIG Phoenix is a beautiful hammer but is very expensive to build and even at two to one over the Big BLU per pound is selling too cheap. As a result Tom is always behind in his orders and his production rates are very low compared to the demand. You may wait a year or more to get delivery.

Tom's design is the result of many years of trying to make an indestructable hammer. A couple of his primary users of the Bull are bit repointers in England that run multiple shifts pounding tool steel constantly. They broke every possible part that could be broke including frames. As part of that work designing an indestructable hammer Tom found that you want as few bolts as possible and if you must use bolts on a power hammer they must be engineered to stay put. Compare this design philosophy to John Larson's Iron Kiss with hundreds of small bolts.

Note that Big BLU and Phoenix are anvilfire advertisers.
- guru - Sunday, 07/23/06 11:38:17 EDT

power hammers: thank you Adam, Vicopper and Guru. I really appreciate the help.
steve chilingirian - Sunday, 07/23/06 17:21:57 EDT

Endorsements: I stand by my recommendation of John Larson's IronKiss hammer, notwithstanding Jock's (incorrect) allegations that John is a “hobbyist.” John has been building and selling powerhammers since 1996 and doing a very conscientious job of it, too. Yes, his hammers *have* evolved over the course of that time, changing as John has developed newer and better designs for some of the components. He has not been content to stop with a “decent” design; he has continually tried to improve it and make it the “best” design. I applaud that.

John's other business is welding, so I would think that if welding was so superior to bolting, he would certainly do that. Welding is certainly quicker and easier than drilling, tapping, and bolting; particularly for those “small” (~1”) bolts that he uses to hold things together. In point of fact, some parts of his hammers are welded, where that is appropriate. And at roughly a buck-seventy a pound, they're waaay under priced, if you’re buying by the pound.

PLEASE NOTE: John Larson hasn’t ever, doesn't now, and probably won't ever pay me anything; this is a gratuitous endorsement of a darn fine hammer and nothing else.
vicopper - Sunday, 07/23/06 22:33:50 EDT

Bolting VS welding.
In a high vibration environment, bolting does indeed present issues, but all are overcomable by attention to use of anti-loosening technology. Safety wire has been a main stay in the aircraft industry. Works well. Locktite, properly applied works as well. I prefer the ability to disassemble without the use of a torch if possible. Our Eries steam hammers, and all our presses and upsetters were bolted, and these are the standard of the forgeing industry. Bent washer locked and safety wired? Yes.
ptree - Monday, 07/24/06 07:23:43 EDT

Miles so would that Degree be sort of a Dodgy Bodgery Paedgogery degree?

Adam do the PhD's get sabaticals that engineers do not?

I survived another forging class for the NM tech metal arts class and we are another step closer to getting them set up with their own equipment. There is now a long term loan heavy post vise securely bolted to their building and I'm talking them into building a forge. Unfortunately the budget for the arts in this most Tech of Tech schools is low so we're trying to do it on a shoestring...

Thomas P - Monday, 07/24/06 11:12:45 EDT

hammers: I've played with both the new Big Blu and the big Phoenix at a knifemakers' hammerin over the last two years, but Ric Furrer's recommendation of the Iron Kiss pretty much seals the deal for me, even having never used one.

So: If you want it fast and good, it's Big Blu. If you want it slow (The only guy I know who owns a Phoenix waited nine months for his to arrive) and good, built by a guy who is great fun and a literal trip to hang around, it's the Phoenix. If you want the absolute best available in a small utility airhammer with external compressor, it's the Iron Kiss. I don't have a power hammer at all, just my observation from personal experience combined with a recommendation from a guy I trust implicitly.

I'm still waiting for a mint-condition old mechanical to be dropped off at my shop by the hammer fairy...
Alan-L - Monday, 07/24/06 12:40:55 EDT

Alan-L, unfortunately you're *way* down on the hammer fairy's list...I snuck a glance at it while they were trying to drop a hammer on me...or was that Sandpile...

Thomas P - Monday, 07/24/06 14:46:12 EDT

Safety Wire on Big Hammers: Part of Chambersburg's retrofit for OSHA compliance was to safety wire the fasteners TO the frame of the hammer to prevent them from falling on the operator. The safety wire was not just to help prevent the huge cylinder bolts from loosening but to prevent them from fallin off. . . However, I can not really imagine both bolts coming loose and the problems being MUCH greater than falling nuts and bolts!
- guru - Monday, 07/24/06 15:31:34 EDT

Thomas P-- That degree sounds about right. From my observations at close range over almost 50 years now, the Ph.D.s at Los Alamos get just about whatever they want. And, they get some stuff they probably don't know about, such as hoots and guffaws from the peons for what are seen as their conehead ways. N.B.: Be SURE you get a receipt for that "long term loan" post vise. You'll never see it again, betcha dime.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 07/24/06 17:18:42 EDT

As I talk daily with the hammer fairy (One way conversation) I can attest that you are indeed much higher than ThomasP on the fairies list for a unexpected hammer. The hammer fairy only delivers to non-PRO scroungers.
ptree - Monday, 07/24/06 18:41:55 EDT

The forge shop was the only shop we required a hard hat in, as the nuts and bolts did indeed fail. The safty wire sometimes would not restrain the parts if the studs were too hard, and a snap under strain occurred. After we started hardness testing and material testing the store bought threaded rod, this issue went away. We simply started making all our own studs from the bar we spectro'ed.

On a side note, we bought ONLY US made steel, and we spectro'ed the crop end of EVERY single bar we forged. Seems that when we started, we often found a bad bundle or two in a car load. Then it filtered down to a bad bar or so, then zero. We wrote the purchase order to allow sending a heat back freight collect when we hit a certain % of bad bars. Of course at that point they were already cut to billets, and I suspect that made a point with the mill. To quote the fine Gentleman that owned the place, sometimes you get what you inspect, not what you expect.
ptree - Monday, 07/24/06 18:48:33 EDT

Iron Kiss Hammers: Thanks, vicopper. Yes, Jock is in error, when he knows better, but he did spell my name right. :-)
- John Larson - Monday, 07/24/06 19:24:05 EDT

divided by a common language: So in my quest for torch stuff, I end up getting connected to a salesman on a cellphone. The connection is poor and he has such a strong Southern accent I cant pick out the words. I recognize the phrase ".. kinah hep yoo?" I explain I am after some light whippy hose for my OA. After a few more exchanges I start to parse the words and I realize he has just asked me what country this will be shipped to? "What country? New Mexico! We ARE part of the US you know? " I answer with open sarcasm. The reply comes back, quite clearly now. "Well sir, it's just that you have an accent and our fittings dont work over there"

I am not often lost for a reply but this exchange did it!
adam - Monday, 07/24/06 19:55:46 EDT

Phds: No sabbaticals but regular black sabbaths. Many of the engineers are also Phds. Its true, the Phds get all the babes and action whenever they want it. Dont worry Miles, the tower guards are crack shots and they will shoot that chip right off your shoulder.
adam - Monday, 07/24/06 20:00:31 EDT

I married the daughter of a Phd. When he introduced himself to me, as Dr. so and so, I asked him to examine my knee as it was aching.(I knew he was a chemistry Phd) He sorta carefully explained to me that while he had once been a Navy corpman, he was not an MD. We started talking military, and first thing you know it turned out he was an OK kinda guy. I may have to tell him about knowing he was'nt a MD someday.
ptree - Monday, 07/24/06 20:19:27 EDT

Phd: ptree, I have passed your name to the tower guards along with Miles.
adam - Monday, 07/24/06 23:21:14 EDT

PHD: One of My uncles is a Phisics PHD, was a Prof at a nearby university. His 2 sons both got their PHD's allso. The older one was describing the names of the degrees: BS = BULLSHIT, MS = MORE SHIT, PHD = PILED HIGHER & DEEPER. If anybody doesn't think there are PHD's with a sense of humor they should read "Surley You must be joking, Dr. Fineman" He is a recognized theoretical phisics GURU, spent the war years at Los Almos. I may have misspelled His name, by the way.
Dave Boyer - Monday, 07/24/06 23:43:12 EDT

Miles Undercut - Monday, 07/24/06 23:54:29 EDT

I do think introducing yourself as " I am Dr so and so" is more than a little pompous. It's appropriate for an MD meeting a patient otherwise its just attitude.

BTW, lest I mislead anyone here. I am not a Phd. I am ABD in Applied Math. The project that was to be my dissertation got cut during the first Clinton administration and then other things got in the way. I am thinking of finishing up in ABQ when I quit being a wage slave in a few more years - mebbe - mebbe not. It would be worth it just to be able to introduce myself to Miles as "Dr Soandso" (amateur gynecologist par exellence!)
adam - Monday, 07/24/06 23:54:40 EDT


Miles you crack me up lad.
- Burnt Forge - Tuesday, 07/25/06 00:14:16 EDT

I don't know about a Phd, but I have a MFOS...hehehe
All in good fun
- Burnt Forge - Tuesday, 07/25/06 00:28:16 EDT

no phd or mfos.... but i do have crs
- blacklion - Tuesday, 07/25/06 05:41:41 EDT

My son, the doctor: He's working on his PhD in Math. I'm looking forward to him getting his degree. I told him as soon as he got it, I'd have him clean up the dog droppings in the yard - just to make sure all those letters don't get stuck in his head. He's a good kid, though, so I don't expect him to get snooty.

- Marc - Tuesday, 07/25/06 08:04:52 EDT

Language: We're starting to slip again, here. Remember that we have an audience of passersby who don't know us and may find some of the language gratuitously offensive.
vicopper - Tuesday, 07/25/06 08:47:48 EDT

If I'm gonna be offended, it had better be gratuitous as I sure don't want to pay for it!

I was talking to a medical doctor who is also a bladesmith/blacksmith/smelter a while back. As a thoughtless courtesy, I said "After you, doctor ..." at which point he fixed me with a look and said "I'm Mike. If you call me Doctor, be prepared to drop trou and bend over."

That's my kind of attitude. I've also been known to introduce myself to folks who say "I'm Dr. So-and-so" as "Pleased to meet you, I'm Master Longmire."
Alan-L - Tuesday, 07/25/06 10:53:44 EDT

Degrees. . .:
Although I do not have one, I have more than the life experiance for several. I've had security badges at several nuclear plants that had the title "Senior Engineer". While on job sites I was usualy the one folks came to when they needed something designed in a hurry that had to WORK. I would ask what they had on hand and if that would do they had a detailed drawing in an hour or so. . . if there was a doctorate in emergency engineering I would be the one.

Waayy back in the early days of our doing nuclear work we were at a dinner the boys from Duke Power and the Senior Engineer from Bingham-Willamett, one of the folks that had designed the pumps we were repairing. The repairs were primarily remachining the 32" diameter gasket surfaces to within +/-.001 at 64 RMS. The Bingham engineer was sitting across the table from me.

Somehow the discussion got to schools and folks were asking who went where. The Bingham engineer looked across the table at me and asked where I got my engineering degree. . . there was a long silence . . and then one of the boys from Duke Power that knew my background slapped the engineer on the back and said "well he's a graduate of the school of hard knocks like yourself. . ." and then there was general laughter. Both the engineer and a couple others had bruised heads from a "low bridge" in the pit where they were inspecting some of our machinery that day. The subject didn't come back up.

The only other time it was a problem was the last time I got a security clearance. The investigators kept wanting to know what other schools I had been to since high school. . . my mail order locksmithing course did not count. .

Some folks wilt in the face of the paper snobbery. I never have. I know I am generally better educated in the subjects I am interested than most folks that have stacks of papers saying they went to schools X, Y and Z simply to get a job or higher pay. I can play chess and hold up my end with all but the most competetive (its a GAME not life) and discuss almost any subject. And when I want to really amaze someone that thinks they are well educated I ask them if they know why there is 360 degrees in a circle. This is one of those key facts not taught in school and is one of the questions *I* asked of teachers . . . and learned that paper educations were often not worth much.
- guru - Tuesday, 07/25/06 11:00:14 EDT

I have been in the public education business for 32 years. During this time, I have figured out that it takes roughly six years to get a Phd, and then a lifetime to get over it.
- R Dark - Tuesday, 07/25/06 11:46:08 EDT

Sorry vicopper..if I was one of those you are referring too. I was just trying to be funny, but will be more careful
- Burnt Forge - Tuesday, 07/25/06 12:11:00 EDT

Neuvo Mejico: When we moved there in 66 we had some friends come down to visit. "HI, How are you? Can I get you anything?" "Oh yes we are so thirsty we haven't had anything to drink since crossing the border." :) even years later when My BiL and Sis went to La. they were asked a lot about Indian troubles! Course when we went to visit on the bayous, they (Cajuns) got some back.
- Mills - Tuesday, 07/25/06 12:16:36 EDT

GURU, why are there 360 degrees in a circle? I appreciate the education I get from reading on this site. Thank you much.
- claypipe - Tuesday, 07/25/06 13:01:45 EDT

360 degrees: Guru,
Thanks for inspiring me to use wikipedia to find something that I never even wondered about. I never have been very good about trying to understand geometry by reading about it, but the article kinda made sense. Thanks for the inspiration!
Aaron@ the SCF
- sandycreekforge - Tuesday, 07/25/06 13:14:20 EDT

Claypipe, if you go to the Nav. Drop-down, top right of this screen , pick FAQ, then mathematics, The Guru has a very fine dissertation as to why math is the way it is. Including the 360 degree secret.

This and other great information is brought to you by CSI. The support group of Anvilfire. Consider joining.
daveb - Tuesday, 07/25/06 13:14:27 EDT

Maxim & the guru's quotes: Maxim is available at most newsstands, including most of the ones in supermarkets & wally world (around here at least.)

Content warning: Maxim usually features some photos of very pretty girls wearing fewer clothes than you'd see on the street. Not many folks would object, but the most straight-laced might.
- John Lowther - Tuesday, 07/25/06 15:40:15 EDT

Miles the lady who runs the Metal Arts class is an ex-marine IIRC and a friend. I'm sure that if the school tried to pull a fast one she would return it with the building's corner I beam still attached. I will OK her engraving "property of" on it just in case.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/25/06 16:16:01 EDT

thanks for the reference daveb, I had not looked that far down the faq page previously. I was already considering joining CSI and I will join soon.
- claypipe - Tuesday, 07/25/06 16:46:23 EDT

Degrees: I want to second what the Guru said about degrees. I get a lot of mail addressed to "Dr." I have a masters in Chemistry so I'm not uneducated but most of the useful stuff I have learned, even in Chemistry has not been learned from school. I tell "my kids" (my students): "You need the paper to get the chance to demonstrate what you have learned since school." I have made my living as a physicist too, without a degree in that, and held my own very well.

I've beaten, in the courtroom as an expert witness, a lot of PhDs. I once helped win, for the defense, an electrocoution case where the opposing PhD expert was the head of the EE department of a nationaly famous Technical University. He had calculated. I exactly mocked up the system and measured voltage and current, then after measuring and assuring myself it was safe as I expected, I actualy held the conductor in question in my hand, while grounded, with no ill effect. He had said under oath that it would be lethal!

Few PhDs have the practical experience they need.
- John Odom - Tuesday, 07/25/06 17:38:50 EDT

Long term loans to schools: Ive done that a lot. They have a way of sending people through with property stickers to put on anything that does not have one. I Have had some fun getting some of my stuff back!
- John Odom - Tuesday, 07/25/06 19:28:00 EDT

Claypipe glad to help, that’s what we are here for.

The solicitation was not directed solely at you, but to all who read and benefit from the site. :)
daveb - Tuesday, 07/25/06 19:51:18 EDT

You're right and this was the property department that said a beat up old bridge anvil was worth US$30K! Perhaps I had better mock up a stencil with "*NOT* property of NM tech" on it.

BTW Miles gave me an old large peanut tin that fits perfectly under the middle of the arch of the bridge anvil and us quite handy for cooling drifts, punches, chisels, ets in.

No Miles I *still* do not want a bunch of old bicycles.

Got hassled today for parking legally on the street in front of someone's house as I helped a neighbor of theirs load for a move. They blocked me in, no sweat of my nose I just called the cops; I would have liked for one of their mega trucks to get towed but I was happy just to be able to get out to drive home. Townies, sigh.

Of course where I live I do own the street---it's on the northern edge of my property with a right of passage in the land deed. My corner stakes are on the berm across the road.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/25/06 19:57:44 EDT

PhD's: I was raised by a couple of them. Both refused to answer if you called them by the honorific. My Pop did the shortest doctoral thesis ever accepted at the university, all of seventeen pages, including notes, on a totally new process in organic chemistry. For some years, the Chairman of the Chem department used it as an example of how it *should* be done. Nobody paid any attention, though. (grin) At the time, Pop had been a working chemist for a decade or more and was building what later became a rather envious custom analytical/pharmaceutical house and didn't believe in wasting words or anything else. That was the only time I ever knew him to be frugal with words, though. 'Spose I inherited his verbosity? (grin)
vicopper - Tuesday, 07/25/06 22:11:30 EDT

And smithing: Pop always was envious of those who had the skill and the training to do real mechanical work. He was a fine carpenter, but mechanics and metal was not his mien at all. But he talked many, many times about the course he took in forge and foundry at the University of Arkansas. I think he really enjoyed it, though he had no talent for it. He would often stop on trips to examine and point out details of nice ironwork.
vicopper - Tuesday, 07/25/06 22:14:48 EDT

Highly educated people: My cousin Whoom I mentioned yesterday is in His early 50's. He has been working on magnetic thin films pretty much all His adult life, mostly in university and government labs. As well as the Bs, MS &PHD in physics He has a MS in electrical engineering, because at some point in His studies that area is where the funding had to come from in His field. The problem is that one becomes so specialized that one only really knows a particular corner of the field. Presently He is an asistant professor at Cardif, Wales. Now He knows about as much about magnetic thin films as anybody, but He really doesn't know much else. His entire education and most of His life experience are all on this one specialty. His father, a physics prof, was teaching mostly undergraduate classes, and has a pretty thorough understanding of the entire field and it's aplications, as oposed to an extremely focused understanding on a pinpoint of the field. My uncle is a more rounded person.
Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 07/25/06 23:11:13 EDT

Educated people: There are a lot of good people who are PhDs. My father-in-law was a PhD physical organic chemist/chemical engineer. He had the abillity to scrounge and build stuff from junk. he was a master scientific glassblower. When I worked for him, I learned more in two years than in my four in college. But he was an exception. there were only three or four in a faculty of hundreds, that knew anything beyond their tiny area of specialization.

Once during the depression he was out of work. He concealed his PhD and got a job in a chemical plant as a maintaince welder. They liked his ideas and suggestions, investigated him a little more and gave him the ChEs job he realy wanted, that they had decided not to fill.
- John Odom - Wednesday, 07/26/06 07:38:51 EDT

Phds: A Phd is not the same thing as a college professor. Most Phds are not employed by universities and a few professors do not have Phds. If you are going to do practical work there is no substitute for experience. Nevertheless an education is a very valuable thing and a deep education, like a Phd in the field where you want to do practical work is extremely valuable. Industry is demanding more and more engineers, with not just Batchelors but Masters and Phds. They will pay a premium because they recognize the value of the education. People delight in telling stories about "dumb Phds" but I would wager that most of the patents being generated today come from people with Phds. If you have that kind of education you will get more out your practical experience than someone who doesnt. Furthermore, a deep understanding of the abstract principles that underpin your work will make it easier adapt to new technologies as they come over the horizon - and they are coming at an ever increasing pace. A generation ago you could start with a company out of high school and, if you had the metal, progress to the level of an engineer. Today it is very difficult to do this. In fact if you want to be given interesting technical work, not just humdrum stuff, your chances are much better with an advanced degree. This trend will continue as the technology gets ever more complicated and changes at an ever increasing pace.

It is entirely possible to develop this kind of background on one's own without a formal education and some do ( I think Jock is one such) - but its not easy. Going to school one is forced to learn things that one might avoid if left to oneself and skimp on a lot of background that may not be of immediate practical use but is very important all the same. One such is math.

I work with a lot of Phds and also a number of people who do not have degrees but hold positions that normally require them. Some of these guys are very very good and can hold their own anywhere. Over the years they have educated themselves to a level that is comparable or better than their formally educated colleagues. But mostly what I find is such people have rather narrow practical skills and when things change they have to scramble harder, much harder to keep their noses above the waves. Together with this comes a lot of resentment and also a tendency to bluster when they find themselves outside of their comfort zone.

One such guy that I worked with shortly after I got my Masters was very bright and very clever. He had a real chip on his shoulder about people with degrees. I learned a great deal from him. But, forinstance he didnt properly understand frequency analysis. He knew something about it - he worked as an elec engineer - but didnt really understand it and would sometimes say things that were just plain silly. Well I didnt know much Fourier analysis either when I started. My background being in control theory I had worked mostly with Laplace Transforms. But because of my education, and especially because of my math, I was able to read up on it and acquire a sound basic understanding. This IMO is the main advantage of an education - being able to read.

Yes there are pitfalls to a deep education. Some people are only suited to the education and not the work that follows. And some highly educated people act like asses. But some individuals who dont have this kind of background seize on these examples and crow about them as if they were the rule. They are not. It's a bit like hearing poor people tell you how miserable the rich are - they are not.
4d4m - Wednesday, 07/26/06 09:07:22 EDT

Rich, when was he at the U of AR? My Father and I both graduated from there, I remember seeing my Dad's name on the walk on the way to class each day. My father talks about having to forge a screwdriver in an engineering course back in the '50's there.

I was a second generation Bell Labs guy and there were lots of stories about some brash new PhD trying to impress people at a social gathering of Labs folk only to find out they people he had been talking to had invented the field he had got his degree in. I remember talking with a Prof when I was getting my computer science degree at OSU; it was a unix class and I asked if it was OK with him if when I had a question and couldn't get in touch with him if I asked one of the co-inventors of the languauge instead---he was still at the Labs and in the phone book...

Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/26/06 10:40:32 EDT

VIKING LONG BOAT: I seem to recall someone here had (has) an interest in viking long boats / re-inactment etc (sure someone had a viking related link above their name but cant find it now!)

anyway, the following link should be of interest .....

- John N - Wednesday, 07/26/06 11:15:06 EDT

Razorbacks: I think Pop attended UofA from about age sixteen to twenty, or about 1932 to about 1936. My grandmother was an instructor at UofA sometime prior to that, I believe. I can't recall for sure where Pop got his Master's, but I think it was at CalTech; I know he worked there with Llinus Pauling during the war. I'll try to remember to ask him when I speak with him next.

Yep, it was forge a screwdriver and a cold chisel in the F&F class. Pop said they had a deuce of a time getting the coke lit, and keeping it going. Took most of each class just to get the fire together.
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/26/06 17:13:21 EDT

forge: does anyone know where to buy a used coal forge in the houston area
- andrew - Wednesday, 07/26/06 17:23:40 EDT


I friend of mine once told that when he was in college, he was aquainted with a well-known modern poet. He was assigned to review one of the poet's works, and he had the poet write the review. His professor decided that the review demonstrated a lack of understanding of the work, and gave him a C.
Mike B - Wednesday, 07/26/06 17:50:17 EDT

I thought it was pretty common for the Ivory Tower folks to tell writers that they don't know the depths of their own work---like J.R.R Tolkien telling people that LOTR was not a WWII allegory.

I remember how impressed my EngLit Prof was with papers on "Prechristian Memes in the Works of Dylan Thomas" or comparing one of the works of Ibanez (sp) to norse cultural aspects of death---they were fun to write too.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/26/06 19:23:54 EDT

4d4m: That was a very reasoned and rational discourse on the values of degrees, and of education in general. Thanks!
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/26/06 20:17:26 EDT

John N: I suspect you were thinking of Bruce "Atli" Blackistone, guardian of our country's national parks and skipper of the Viking vessel Sae Hraevn (?sp?). Bruce is privy to all things Nordic, and when he isn't too busy saving the parks or redesigning them, he stops in here from time to time.
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/26/06 20:21:08 EDT

Crucible: Hey,

I decided to try casting some silver in the forge I use at Fort Edmonton. I'm going to cast into cuttlebone, but I can't find a suitable crucible, any tips on what I can use? I thought of ceramics, but I'm not 100% sure if it'll work, If nothing else I guess I'll have to forge a crucible first!
- FreeKnight - Wednesday, 07/26/06 21:12:37 EDT

360 degrees:
Well, in fact it is a mistake. The ancient Summerians had one of the first mathematical systems. It used base 60. When they got to counting the days in the year they came up with 360. It fit their mathematical system perfectly. Since this was VERY early and they did not yet have astronomy to correct the days in the year. . . At that time those that were educated in math were also the religious leaders (priests) and they declared that since God made the year 360 days their mathematics of base 60 was perfect and everything was good. . . Their mathematics grew to geometry faster than they found that the year was not a perfect 360 days. So they tossed in a holy day or five (they didn't "count") and kept the charade going as long as they could. Eventually truth wins.

Not only did they give us the 360 degree circle they also gave us the the two part 24 hour day. Since 12 was a subset of 60 everything was still "perfect". Dividing the hour into 60 minutes with a half at 30 and quarter at 15 minutes also worked into base 60. Since dividing the day into equal parts is arbitrary it IS mathematicaly perfect.

So, despite the theory of the metric system that says everything fractional and not divided by ten is wrong. . . We still use base 60 and its subset of base 12 to tell time and measure angles.

To those that swear allegiance to the metric system I say then DO IT! Those designing the system wanted a 20 hour (10/10) day with 100 minute hours and to divide circles by 400 (100 degree quadrants). THEN had an about face and kept the 24 hour day but divided the circle by 2PI and conceeded to 360 degrees as an "alternate" official method of measurment. They chickened out. They could not convince themselves to change every aspect of our numerical and measurement systems. But if you REALLY believe the metric system is better then repaint your clock faces and divide by ten and get out your magnifying glass to read the divisions of your 2PI protractor. . .

But OH, OH, OH. . . when you USE that 2PI protractor, you DON'T read it directly! You use. . . . FRACTIONS!!! Then convert.

PI is a straight line or the opposite direction
PI/2 is a right angle.
PI/3 is the angle of an equalateral triangle (60 degrees)
PI/4 is a half a right angle (45 degrees)
PI/6 is 30 degrees, another useful angle.
PI/8 is just one more fractional split in half (common).
PI/20 is 1/40th of a circle (9 degrees) and a magic number in rotary dividing heads and stepper motors. Thus the gaps above of PI/5, PI/10 are multiples of the magic value.

SO. . We are back to fractions, no moving decimal points, no metric theory, real fractions or REALLY bizarr numbers in ANY system when you convert from fractions of PI to your system.

But there are some very good reasons for using radians. The even fractions of PI then equate with values like the COS of 45 degrees which is the reciprocal of the square root of two. Or the SINE of 30 which equals 1/2 so that asin(.5) = PI/6 . . . But it is very difficult to use in practice and they don't teach my fractional method that I know of.

The natural world is fractional and algebraic and forcing the mteric system on it does not work. . . AND instead of teaching us algebraic logic it keeps us counting on fingers and toes.

NOW. . what does the 360 degree circle have to do with the temperature conversion between Fahrenhiet and Celsius? Another tid bit they don't teach in school.

What does this have to do with blacksmithing? Well, you need to know how to measure angles and it REALLY helps to know their relationships. When doing any kind of calculations it helps to be able to recognize that .7071068. . . is the reciprocal of the square root of two OR the square root of .5 and that PI/8 or 45 degrees is the answer. In our work understanding fractions is more important than knowing the exact conversions between metric and English units. Understanding the power of 9 degrees (PI/20) is also necessary to use a dividing head in a machine shop to make gears, knobs, graduated wheels. . . Its in Machinery's Handbook.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/26/06 21:59:39 EDT

Education: 4d4m, You are quite right. Today more than ever you need those papers to get in the door and you need to be able to continue educating yourself to keep up.

When it comes to higher education I do not think it the system's fault that people have too narrow a focus, that is the individual's fault. However, I DO put a lot of fault on elementry education. When the most basic facts like why there are 360 degrees in a circle and what the Fahrenheit scale has to do with it are missing from all the text books (at all levels) you wonder what else is missing.

Many of us need to know WHY things are or why they work. It is much easier to have a grasp of that knowledge if you can see it in your mind. But to be simply told THIS is the rule and that is IT, is not condusive to true understanding.

Years ago I read a book on how digital math worked in chips. I have forgotten most of it but I do remember that there was a very good logical reason that when you combine binary math with a system of shifting bits that a divide by zero error is fatal.

It is easy to have a program stumble into it and it always upset me when the computer just STOPS and that is the end. . . But knowing that the error absolutely MUST be handled before it happens makes one a better programmer. AND teaches you to SAVE, SAVE, SAVE. . . . because if a divide by zero occurs there is no recovery AND there is a reason for it.

I like to know WHY. It is much easier to remember.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/26/06 22:27:41 EDT

Fractions of Pi: That is how trigenometry was taught in high school when I went [mid 70's]but only in math class. In machine shop We used the trig tables published by Car Lane, a vendor of jig and fixture parts. Electronic calculators were just comong out, and only the geeks in electronics shop had them. When I started My tool & die apprenticeship in '77 simple scintific calculators were down to about $50 and the night school teachers suggested We each get one, but still taught how to use the trig tables. The last tool & die job I held was from '84 to '91, by the end of that CAD drawings were becoming common, and instead of designating angles by degrees they would just use the tangent of the angle. This ends the problem of dealing with degrees, minutes, seconds, & fractions[decimals]of a second.
Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 07/26/06 22:58:37 EDT

Trig Tables:
I asked the editor of Machinery's Handbook why they waste all that space to trig and log tables. He said they took them out of one edition and recieved so many complaints that they put them back in. . .

Although calculators and computers have replaced these bulky table there is one good reason for their existance, error checking. Ocassionaly you get a calculator with a buggy chip or error in a ROM table. While these devices are generaly perfect, nothing made by man is truely 100% perfect. While trig tables are just as error prone they have been proofed by hundreds of years of use.

Trig tables are also historical documents of some note. Without them our technoloigical rise would have been much slower or delayed. And the fact of their existance is somewhat of a miracle.

Calculating logarithms by hand is a long and daunting task even when done by an expert mathematician. Early in the history of producing these tables an "idiot savant" was discovered that could do in minutes what took experts days to do. He was hired by a mathematician that realized the value of this gift and the large part of what is in modern logarithm tables was created in a few years.

Without this very rare event technology as we know it may have been delayed 100 years as hundreds of mathematicians worked on this problem. There are few key events in history that effected everything that followed and this was one.

For details on this and more mathematical history see Petr Beckman's "A History of PI".
- guru - Thursday, 07/27/06 08:15:26 EDT

Trig tables and calculators
When I got out of the ARMY, i started engineering school. The first sesmester having a calculator at a test was considered cheating by official policy. The next sesmester, a calculator use class was added and required, and was a no credit class. Big change!

At the valve shop, the tool and die guys were masters of the trig tables, and did indeed ckeck their work with the tables after calculators came out. They in fact hated CAD drawings because our designers usually used a " Datum ball reference out in space to demension from. Easy to desigh, very difficult to check any machining without a CMM.
I listened to the complaints and NEVER used a out in spave datum. I did occasionally use a datum ball with a seat in a pilot hole that allowed easy measurement.
ptree - Thursday, 07/27/06 09:30:20 EDT

crucible: Free Knight, try Bedrock Supply, 434-2040, 9435 63 Avenue NW
JimG - Thursday, 07/27/06 10:11:18 EDT

Hi there: : My son really wants to do metal working/blacksmithing. Ideas for how he could find something in the Midwest? Anything, as per your suggestions previously. Need any helpful and constructive suggestions. Thank you.
Doralyn - Thursday, 07/27/06 10:24:02 EDT

Back in the days of the slip stick a fellow that later worked for my Father was required to memorize the log tables as a frat initiation hazing. Later he had returned to China where one of the first things done during the Japanese occupation was to confiscate all the log books and other math tables---as they could be used back in Japan. He ended up being one of the few engineers still able to work during the occupation.

Thomas P - Thursday, 07/27/06 11:19:56 EDT

Doralyn, I hope you mean Midwest America and not England or Australia...if you do go to the "Navigate anvilfire" dropdown menu near the bottom is a link to This is a listing of many of the local chapters for the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America. Find one near to you. Meetings are free and you can find the best *local* places for materials and supplies; many chapters will also have a library of books and videotapes you can borrow.

If you are fairly near western OH, think about going to Quad-State Blacksmith's Round-Up in Troy OH just north of Dayton in late September---I'm going to it from New Mexico---it's that good! Tons of tools, books, materials for sale new and used, great demo's by world class blacksmiths and a great atmosphere for the beginning smith.

Thomas P - Thursday, 07/27/06 11:39:47 EDT

Log Tables: I was required on one job to do all calculations with log tables and to write all the calculations in the notebook so they could be checked. I didn't try, but by using them I learned the tables to about 4 places. I later amazed people by doing some fairly complex calculations mentally. I lost all that after a head injury. I had to relearn a lot of very basic stuff, and the log tables were not on my priority list.
- John Odom - Thursday, 07/27/06 12:41:23 EDT

Midwest blacksmith: Doralyn,
I am not sure where you are located in the midwest... but I am in central illinois. Around here there is the Illinois Valley Blacksmith association ( and the Upper Midwest Blacksmith Association ( Both of these are excellent organizations full of lots of experienced blacksmiths as well as beginners.
Aaron @ the SCF
- sandycreekforge - Thursday, 07/27/06 13:12:15 EDT

Tables and Calculators; Metal Longships: Sounds like when the Navy recently tried to ditch sextants and celestial navigation, since everythig is GPS. Well, when the batteries die in the life boat... They've reversed course on that one.

I just read a US Coast Guard account of a major cruiseship grounding that occured a few years back, in their safety publication. Primary cause was reliance on one electronic aid to navigation without cross-checking other aids, including electronic, visual, and hard-copy.

Speaking of hard-aground... John N's stainless steel longship site is pretty neat. Check out the details of the gun'l, with various gripping beasts incorporated in the ornamentation. (And I though it was non-Norse acanthus leaves at first {distant} glance. ;-)

Voyage this Saturday if any of you are in striking distance of Solomons Island, Maryland.

Go viking!
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 07/27/06 13:15:04 EDT

Crucible: JimG,
last time I went there they didn't have any in, thanks anyway though, I think I'll try to forge one or try out some ceramics
FreeKnight - Thursday, 07/27/06 15:33:29 EDT

Burnt Forge-- ¡muchas gracias! Thomas-- Do not forget common law dictates you close off your road once a year to maintain ownership lest it become a permanent public right of way. If Rockefeller Center finds it prudent, methinks I should, too.
- Miles Undercut - Thursday, 07/27/06 16:16:51 EDT

Looking for ideas: A friend on vacation in Northern Cali just called me to tell me had had picked up about 5 feet of an old cable that went up the side of a mountain to a gold mine back in the rush days. He said it about an inch in diameter. I was very excited at first, thinking of the many knives I could make from it, but then I realized that cable from the 1850's would be wrought iron most likely. Any ideas on what I can make out of it? Could I forge weld a high carbon edge into a wrought knife? Any ideas greatly appreciated.

FredlyFX - Thursday, 07/27/06 16:20:33 EDT

Old Cable: It might be steel. Cable was an early application of steel.
- John Odom - Thursday, 07/27/06 17:22:54 EDT

GRATES!!!!!!: I'm building myself a massive stone forge. But I'm having trouble on what size and material the grate must be. PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!! Email me a picture of a grate or some words of advice at
- Stephen - Thursday, 07/27/06 17:41:38 EDT

Forge welding a high C edge to a WI body was one of the most common ways to do it for close to 2000 years, another being to weld the high C layer between two WI layers. My question is how rusty is the piece...

It could also be made from Crucible Steel a method used before the Bessemer process came about.

Mile there is already a public right away over it---it's the county road and closing it off would probably get my neighbors to stampede a herd of goats across my property.

Thomas P - Thursday, 07/27/06 17:45:03 EDT

According to my friend it is very rusty. It had been left attached to the mountain until it finally rusted through at some point and fell. He said there was a huge pile of it at the bottom of the mountain and he picked up the only magable piece he could find. So far, I'm thinking I will cut it into managable pieces, then use electrolosys to remove the rust. I'm thinking that even if I don't end up with real high quality knives, they should look pretty cool, and it will give me a chance to play with something other than the usual mild steel I normally use.

FredlyFX - Thursday, 07/27/06 18:02:07 EDT

Fredly, you could always use it for guards and pommels!
Thomas P - Thursday, 07/27/06 19:40:55 EDT

Iron/Steel Cable: Fredly/Thomas - I doubt that it's from the 1850's - steel cable was invented by John Roebling here in western PA - originally in the town of Saxonburg if memory serves correctly. The first major application was for suspension bridges - time frame is the 18880's/1890's - based on the original invention time, the material used originally to produce cable was probably Bessemer steel.

I suppose you could also call it Kelly steel, as I believe the US gent who developed a similar process had that last name. But Bessemer, is the name that's generally stuck to it.
- Gavainh - Thursday, 07/27/06 22:26:27 EDT

Rusty cable: If that cable is as badly rusted as it sonds, you may find after you get it to welding heat that there isn't much of it left at all. If you check with heavy equipment operators (big cranes, dredges, etc) they may have used cable for free. It will be less rusty, for sure.

Conscientious operators of cable equipment replace calbe at the first sign of fraying, as cable is less expensive than lawsuits for negligence. Even if you can't get a piece of 1" cable, you can heat and twist three or four pieces of 5/8" cable and get a nice result. Big cable is mostly just smaller cable layed up together, after all.

With used cable, you're going to find that it is pretty much impregnated with grease and oil. Soak it clean in some kerosene and then a wash with lacquer thinner. Then give it a thorough cleaning with TSP in boiling water and it should be fine. If the lady of the house is away, the electric dishwasher will do a dandy job. I'd pass on that concept if she's home, though. (grin)
vicopper - Thursday, 07/27/06 22:58:22 EDT

Cable: Roebling built a suspension bridge at Niagra Falls in 1855 with wrought iron cable. The Brooklyn Bridge, completed in 1883, used steel cable. But the main cables in both bridges were made up of individual parallel strands, wrapped on the outside with more wire.

According to my unimpeachable source (the Encyclopedia Britannica), the first wire-rope making machine was patented in England in 1840. However, wire rope wasn't practical until both the Bessemer and open hearth processes and the rod mill became available around 1880.
Mike B - Friday, 07/28/06 06:42:15 EDT

wire rope sources
Look in the yellow pages for a shop that makes wire rope and chain slings. Go to shop with forged trinkets, patch knives are usually best, especially a wire rope knife with a forged handle that shows the rope morphing into the blade, and talk to the guys in back. Spread the trinkets amongst the hands. Be prepared to cart a large load of brand new cable drops off. Works for me everytime. No rust, less lube to remove, and new friends to the trade.
ptree - Friday, 07/28/06 08:40:33 EDT

Don't forget elevator maintenance co's and your friendly local oil drilling rig. I once picked up 400# of wire line survey wire from the trash pit of a rig I was babysitting (as geologist), pretty nice stuff as they *DON'T* want to loose any of that expensive equipment down hole.

Thomas P - Friday, 07/28/06 11:13:41 EDT

Thanks much for all the suggestions guys. I was kind of hoping it would be wrought. I was thinking that it would give a very good pattern if it was. So far, it's all just speculation until it arrives here next week when he gets home. I'll give an update once I see what he got.

FredlyFX - Friday, 07/28/06 11:46:50 EDT

Heat Colors: Hi. I have a question about the origin of heat colors for those highly educated physicists out there. To summarize: why does the Stefan-Boltzman blackbody curve composite seem not to correlate with my blacksmith's eye? I have been told that it doesn't matter what temperature the metal is, it is how it is worked that matters. Full red, bend; orange, punch, yellow, forge or upset; light yellow, weld (and tool steel shows the cottage cheese effect); white, sparkles.

So, I noticed the following charts:

The first one looks more accurate to me, in my blacksmithing experience. For example, 1100C would be light yellow. The second one shows 1093C to be a definite orange. The melting point of copper is a high orange, and would seem to be between both charts. Anyway, it is clear that these charts do not agree.

There is a nifty blackbody applet at:
and a static chart at:

Both of these seem to agree with the blksmth chart more.

Is the difference one of steel not being a good blackbody? I thought that the emissivity was pretty high, on the order of 0.95. White hot is very obvious in a coal forge, but shows up as a blackbody temperature of about 3700C, which is not reasonable. Maybe, as some put it, when the metal is sparkling and your work is going down the drain, the light and emotions are so intense that you think you are seeing white, but you are really only seeing yellow. Somebody pointed out to me that temperatures above about 1000-1100C are difficult to discern primarily due to the intensity of the light.

Any insights?

EricC - Friday, 07/28/06 12:48:41 EDT

Heat Colors: I think a lot of it has to do with ambient light in the shop & where the pictures were taken, as well as the type of photography used. Another thing is how the computer is set up as far as brightness and contrast etc of the person creating the image. I also found the one from blksmth better, but any of these types of charts are really just a rought guide to get you going down the path. You then have to find your own way with experience. I used to think forge welding was some kind of impossible magic trick whose secret I had not been let in on until I finally got it through practice. Now it is no big deal. I looked at all of the color charts etc, but doing it is what made it happen for me.

FredlyFX - Friday, 07/28/06 13:36:56 EDT

What about the effect of ambient light on how the eye sees the temp of the metal?

The day before yesterday I was warning a student that as the sun went down things would start looking hotter. Also that he would suffer decreased nigh vision on his way home...

Thomas P - Friday, 07/28/06 13:37:19 EDT

Colors: I recently read an article about vision (in July's Scientific American -- I think it was primarily about birds' vision). The article pointed out that the "color sensors" in our eyes are very non-linear; the colors we perceive have much more to do with the way the brain interprets the signals than the precise spectrum that enters our eyes.

This goes beyond the article, but I think we perceive something as white so long as it reflects pretty much all of the ambient light. A piece of paper looks equally white in incandescent light or daylight. But use daylight slide film indoors and you'll get some *really* yellow images.

So I think Thomas is right about the ambient light. Even aside from that, though, I'm not sure that a theoretical color derived from spectrum analysys will accurately predict what we actually perceive.

Mike B - Friday, 07/28/06 14:39:13 EDT

Heat Colors:
The chart at is a bad reproduction of a section of the Tempil chart. Years ago Kiwi made us a beautiful Flash chart but we did not finish it as copying the Tempil chart is copyright infringement and digging up all the original data is a serious piece of work. . .

One problem on the net is that computer monitors display any given color in a wide range. Old monitors tend to get dim and you brighten up the image to make it look right, to YOU. Then when someone else looks at it the color will be washed out. I had this problem on my old PC and had started over lightening images I adjusted. . The monitor's brightness had been pushed as far as it would go by hardware and software. . no more graphics on that monitor. You can also go into almost any computer store where they have a row of monitors and see a wide range between brands while NEW. Some have very washed out color new and cannot be improved. Many cheap moitors have this problem.

To have a fairly accurate chart on-line you need a white reference and a black reference. When both are what the used percieves as black and white then the colors on a matching chart would be fairly correct. You would select the brightest chart with a black black and a white white that is identifyable by the grey next to it.

THEN there is the ambient light problem as noted. What you SEE is dependent on the surrounding light and how your eyes have adjusted. In bright sunlight you do not see any of the low reds and when steel is hot all you see is yellow/white then as it cools a medium red briefly.

I have been amazed when working in the dark at long steel stays a red and how many shades you can discern. In the bright sun it is very few. In the dark it seems almost infinite but I think our discernable capacity is something like 64 shades.

AND we all have slightly different color perception and it changes over time as our eyes age.

What helps a lot is to have some visual or test references in your shop. Tempil sticks go up to the low red range and will tell you within +/- about 40 degrees of what the temperature is. The non-magnetic point is either just barely a glow or a nice bright red depending on the ambient light. But it is always 1420 F (771 C). You can work UP and DOWN from there.

The Melting point of other metals is a possible reference but only if they are in a steel crucible. . different metals floures differently.

The ideal is a thermocouple and meter. With a high temp thermocouple they are good up to about 2200-2400. Above that things are getting pretty bright and fairly obvious.
- guru - Friday, 07/28/06 18:35:28 EDT

Temp: You can now buy a non-contact IR thermometer that reads to 1832 F (1000 C) for $200 - $250. It'd be an expensive toy for me. But if you're doing critical heat treating, for example, it might be worth looking into. The way things have been going, I wouldn't be suprised to see higher ranges and lower prices in the near future.
Mike B - Friday, 07/28/06 19:45:51 EDT

Heat Colors: During my classes, I heat the end of a large piece of steel to a light sparking heat, and call off the heat colors (as I interpret them) as it cools, wire brushing scale as I go. Scale can obscure the true color. I try to do this in "ordinary shop light" with no direct sunlight. I call off about 14 incandescent colors, realizing that there is constant change, and realizing the the names are arbitrary. Of course, there are many variables, but the student needs points of reference, especially when heat treating.

I give each student the Tempil chart, but I advise them that pigment on paper will never look like hot steel giving off light. The latest printing of the Tempil chart has a typo: In the carburizing range, about 1900ºF, it reads "below A1", and it should read "Above A3". I learned this by letter directly from the Tempil company.
Frank Turley - Friday, 07/28/06 22:06:12 EDT

I just got a small mig welder and it can only weld 1/8 of an inch in a single pass but i got to thinking that i could get more penetration by heating in the forge before welding. Will this work?
- Stephen - Friday, 07/28/06 23:28:45 EDT

Stephen: Yes. You can preheat for greater penetration, but if you heat too high, you'll see problems with the weld puddle running or burning. Up to a about a black heat you should be okay, though.

Post-heating with the forge also works for stress relieving.
vicopper - Saturday, 07/29/06 00:50:33 EDT

Possible Cable Sources: Just remembered the chair lift I was on last week looked to have 1"+ cable. No, there was no snow (even though I *was* is Sweden) -- I was just sightseeing.
Mike B - Saturday, 07/29/06 06:03:55 EDT

Heat colors: I have an Optical Pyrometer. It works. The variations are primarily due to ambient light, the observer's eye and variabilities in scaling of the surfaces.

I have checked it against thermocouples in a furnace and get excellent agreement. We have one furnace with Pt-Pt/Ir thermocouples that goes to very high temps, and is precision traceably calibrated. The Optical tracks well against that.
- John Odom - Saturday, 07/29/06 08:14:06 EDT

John Odom,
We used optical pyrometers against tracable furnaces as well and they do indeed work well. Good way to get temps against the electronics if in doubt.
We also used them to check the Land Camera pryo's when setting up induction heaters.
ptree - Saturday, 07/29/06 08:40:01 EDT

Heat Colors: thanks: Hi fellas. Thanks for the tips. Especially interesting is the one about the effect of ambient light and reflection. The example of the piece of paper looking white in yellow tungsten ambient light is pretty instructive. Maybe that is why I have bad luck looking for that "lemon disappearing yellow" in the coals. I had better luck with the touch rod, feeling for the stick. It is unmistakable. Women tell me I have terrible color perception. A sly devil in school told me that I could use this to my advantage (my construction skill in exchange for color perception skill). But these color charts sure do look different. I have done melting point tests to check my perception. It has been poor. The optical pyrometer idea is interesting. Some bladesmiths report success with them. Another toy. I like the idea.
EricC - Saturday, 07/29/06 12:18:29 EDT

Degree in a circle and degrees temperature:
Nobody took me up on the, "How are temperature and angular degree related?" question. Well here it is. .

When Fahrenhiet was designing his scale he was looking for familiar references to make it easy to understand. It is a HUMAN scale and is MUCH better for discussing the weather then the Celsius scale where decimals of a degree are the difference between hot and cold. . .

Originally he started measuring human body temperature. This he set at 100 degrees. Some people claim he was off a little but HE was defining the scale! So when he set human body temperature at 100 it was PERFECT for the moment.

But he was looking for better standards and you cannot have a scale without TWO points as a reference. The trouble is he tried to find three. He concieved of using the ice point and boiling points of water. These "opposites" he set at opposite sides of a circle (180 degrees). Yep. . 32 + 180 = 212. Angles and temperatures have no common ground but this. The opposites are 180 "degrees" apart.

When he divided this range by 180 he found his human body temperature to be VERY close to 100 degrees using 32 and 212 for the opposites of the temperature range. And all was GOOD. 100 was a nice round easy to remember figure and 180 degrees was already known among the educated as oposites.

NOW. . . way back when they taught you the conversion routine between Fahrenhiet and Celsius did ANYONE tell you where the 5/9th comes from??? Nope. . .

Well when you take 100 Celcius degrees and divide it by 180 Fahrenhiet degrees (100/180) the ratio reduces to 5/9. Gee. . back to hated fractions. Then the +/- 32 is for the difference in starting points 0 for one and 32 for the other.

SO. . if you remember the Fahrenhiet range is 180 degrees for the range between ice point and boiling point and its 100 in Celsius then everything makes sense. Knowing WHY makes it a lot easier to remember. . at least for me.

A universal temperature measurement system based on the ice point could be absolute zero to the ice point. Call this "1" or 10 or 100 or 1000. . . Then the range between the ice point and the "100 F" is 0 to .2175 and the boiling point on Earth 0 to .4611 (depending on the weather). Using divisions by whatever mathematical units you use would put thin into more convienient whole numbers. This is an absolute scale that is accurate anywhere in the known Universe.

Now. . if every unit of the metric system was based on universal constants (not calibratable by some odd contorsionist value) AND it did not give into using ancient units. THEN I would support a change to another system of standards.
- guru - Saturday, 07/29/06 12:22:30 EDT

Wire Rope: MCMASTER CARR sells plain steel wire rope in many configurations for 3-5 dollars a foot, no coating but did not say if it was prelubed there is a link to it on the main page of thier website part ## is 3688T16 i think its 5/8"
hope this helps
Mike Kruzan - Saturday, 07/29/06 13:17:17 EDT

Welding cables: I spent the morning rewiring my Hobart 220A stick welder with #1 cable. I got these from an outfit that regularly sells precut lengths on ebay - 50' & 100'. But when I called them they were happy to send me two 25' lengths, one red one black - for under $100 inc shipping. Looks like nice stuff. It has a neoprene inner jacket. I did leave an 18" whip of #4 on the stinger just for ease of control. On the ground lead I attached a Jackson quickConnect - I scrounged a number of these from a dumpster - this way I can have several ground attachments, clamp, weldon, welding table itself etc. I am making up the short ground leads out of the #4 cable that came with the welder, doubled up - which is almost the same as #1. I didnt have all the right lugs so I made some up out of scrap copper pipe. Also, in the same dumpster I found a 20' length of really nice heavy #10 ext. cord which I used to replace the cheesy little 3' power cord that comes the box. Barely enough to reach up to the power outlet. So I now have a 40' welding radius! I also replaced the stinger and the worthless ground clamp with hd ones that I *bought* (sob!). Just ran a couple of test beads to check for hot connections. Arc start is noticebly easier and like Dave B commented, it wants to run on a lot less current.

Also in the very same dumpster I scavenged a 50' run of #6 ext cord. I will put plug & socket on that and make a drum for it so I can weld all the way up to the fence posts at the back of my property!

I always underestimate the amount of time electrical work takes. But glad to have done this. Now I have to build a cart with some decent cable storage. With all that extra copper, this outfit is definitely north of 100# and there is no tote handle.

4d4m - Saturday, 07/29/06 15:00:22 EDT

PS: With this setup I calculate a 0.85 V drop @125 Amps - 1.7V @250Amps. I might be able to run 1/4" rod now - the welder is rate 235A. I think I would add a second fan if I planned to do that more than occasionally.

- 4d4m - Saturday, 07/29/06 15:40:41 EDT

Free Project Boat: I put this up on Forgemagic this morning and thought I'd stick it over here too. Maybe someone of you guys or someone you know might be interested. I have a project boat I'd like to give away if anyone here is interested. This is NOT the aluminum boat that I built. I've got an older Formula 23-3 cuddy which was originally set up for two Volvo 4 cylinder outdrives. It's a very sturdy deep vee from the early seventies before fiberglass got paper thin but it needs a repower and complete rebuild. The hull is sound and was plastic media stripped a few years ago. You'll need a new fuel tank as the old alu one had been foamed in place and corroded. You can have the two volvos and outdrives which came with it but one is in pieces and needs rebuilding. Both outdrives show corrosion and would need a little TLC if you wanted to use them. There is no trailer with it but I have one available to move it. The boat is located here in Rosemont, New Jersey. If any body is interested you can email me at sgenshatvoicenetdotcom be sure to put formula in the subject line so it doesn't get deleted.

Hardly blacksmithing related but I've certainly learned that there is a wide range of interests in this group.
SGensh - Saturday, 07/29/06 16:16:02 EDT

Temp: Guru,

You may have a better source, but my (35 year old) encyclopedia says Farenheit originally made salted ice zero and body temperature 12. He then divided each unit by 8 to get more precision, so body temperature became 96 degrees. Using that scale, he then established fixed points at the freezing and boiling points of water, which apparently just happened to be 180 degrees apart.

Then there's the friend of mine who learned in thermodynamics class that 100 degrees was set at the body temperature of a cow.
Mike B - Saturday, 07/29/06 16:17:41 EDT

plams for hme built power hammer: Where can I find plans for a home built poer hammer
Stan Kirtley - Saturday, 07/29/06 16:25:59 EDT

"....who learned in thermodynamics class that 100 degrees was set at the body temperature of a cow"

Is that while its on the grill?
4d4m - Saturday, 07/29/06 16:41:31 EDT

I've seen several different stories on how Fahrenhiet set the points on his scale. One story has it that he traveled around Europe measuring temperatures and set ZERO at the coldest temperature he found and 100 at the highest. . .

So. . . there are numerous stories depending on who's account you believe. I do know that all the stories say he was concerned with a standard body temperature. Those who say he set it at 100 may have been converting and rounding to simplify the story.

I am not sure where I read that he set the two oposites 180 degrees apart. Probably when I was researching information for my VB Visual Temperature program. . . . about 10 years ago. It displays the four "standard" scales side by side in different increments (.1, 1, 10, and 100) and accepts input in any of the four units then displaying the conversions and the scale graphic. Its the only VB program I wrote that included an installer AND Win-Help. However, I've misplaced the installer. . . ;(

It seems unlikely that it would "just happen" and be exact even degrees unless those two points were specificaly put on the scale 180 degrees apart.
- guru - Saturday, 07/29/06 20:15:22 EDT

While researching Mass2 and Visual Temperature I colected many scientific references. My collection of CRC handbooks is similar to my Machinery's Handbook collection. I found that almost all of these references do not give specific sources and when they do there are many very curious circular references, particularly in the CRC handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Among them they refer to the "Royal Society or the Periodic Table". This is different than the defunct French "Society Periodic'". CRC refers to the "royal" society which has its offices in the same suite in Boco Raton, FL as CRC. . . When I looked for references in other publications they often refered BACK to CRC. . .

In order to find the original source of much of this data you need to find the first publication. In later publications in the same reference they drop the full credits. . .

What I thought was so odd about all this was these were "scientific" references where I expected the same level of citations we were taught in school when we wrote reports. . . I suspect that with the Internet pinpointing sources is a million times worse.
- guru - Saturday, 07/29/06 20:27:13 EDT

degrees and gloves: while we are on the subject of degrees, academic, Fahrenheitic, trigonometric etc, its a theorem in advanced math (well trig actually) that while two wrongs do not make a right, three lefts do! Strangely, this result seems to hold for welding gloves also - I burn up three lefts in about the time it takes me to ruin one right. Any one know of a supplier who sells just lefts?
4d4m - Saturday, 07/29/06 20:45:17 EDT

4d4m - McMaster Carr will sell them to you, We supply our welder with a left glove every couple of weeks and a right about once a month. Just tell them right, left or sets. Check their web site.
daveb - Saturday, 07/29/06 23:07:23 EDT

s/b welders , We have 15 or 16 of them.
daveb - Saturday, 07/29/06 23:08:25 EDT

Left and Rights: I think all our general smithing supply dealers sell gloves seperately. It is a common practice in our industry as many people only wear one glove.
- guru - Sunday, 07/30/06 08:00:28 EDT

The right to buy lefts: Thanks, Jock & Dave. I checked the McMaster online cat. they dont seem to say anything about just lefts which is why I assumed I had to buy pairs. I will call them Mon. The left hand is always closer to the work and for cutting I use just a left glove. The small sizes make a nice pair of oven mitts for the lady of the house - big improvement over those silly quilted things that are generally sold.
adam - Sunday, 07/30/06 09:48:40 EDT

metal grading: i am having trouble reconising the difference in these metals, i dont know what all the grades and so on mean. could someone provide me with the names of a few books or something..

right now my brother needs aluminum for a custom computor casing and i was looking. we wanted about .025 of an inch thick aluminum sheeting. the 2024-T3 BARE ALUMINUM SHEET/PLATE costs dramatically more than the 5052-H32 ALUMINUM SHEET. what is the difference betwean the two sheets? why is one so much cheeper than the other?

thanks for any help you give guys!
- Isaac - Sunday, 07/30/06 17:33:49 EDT

Alluminium Alloys:
Isaac, Availability, the amount bought and sold is often the price determinator, not actual cost of production or "value". However, there are som processing differences that effect cost.

2024-T3 is a very common (thus less expensive) aluminium alloy used in the aircraft industry for structural members. 6061-T6 is cheaper and stronger and used for skins. 5052 is used where welding is going to be used.

The "T" numbers are for "temper". The higher the number the harder the alloy. Some aluminums are heat treated or artificialy aged to make them hard, others are stretched or rolled to work harden.

For forming you want fairly soft aluminum. Many of the high strength aluminums cannot be bent and are stiffer than steel. They will break before bending.

There are many books on this subject. Start with Machinery's Handbook. It may cover most of your questions. Manufacturers catalogs often give general applications. There are also books from ASM (the American Society for Metals International) that get into more detail than Machinery's.
- guru - Sunday, 07/30/06 19:36:38 EDT

CSI members: CSI Members! If you are reading this then you already know how valuable a resource Anvilfire is. How would you like to help guide its developement and focus over the comming years? How would you like to have a say in how it works, future enhancements, and even help develope needed features? As a Board of Directors member you will vote to make decisions that will make Anvilfire one of the best Blacksmith sites on the internet, But only if you come to the meeting and let yourself be heard. CSI Board meetings are open to all CSI members and we need additional Board Members so login and make your feelings known and if you want to make a difference become a board member and vote
- dale - secretary- - Monday, 07/31/06 20:27:03 EDT

Computer case: For a computer case, you want an alloy that is rigid and can be formed to simple bends, I would think. I'd recommend looking for some 6061-T6, as it will resist denting. It can be formed, though you should avoid really tight corner breaks. It welds just fine with TIG.

You don't need the expense of age-hardening alloys, high-machinability alloys or any of the special alloys for deep drawing. Plain 6061-T6 will do the job and not dent. 3003 is usually cheap, and easy to form, but also dents easily.
vicopper - Monday, 07/31/06 20:31:05 EDT

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