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

This page is open to ALL for the purpose of advancing blacksmithing, swaping lies, selling tools.

July 2008 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.
This page is NOT a chat - it is a "message board"

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.

The Guru's Den is where I and several others try to answer ALL your blacksmithing and metalworking questions to us.

Please note that this forum uses an e-mail encryption system that prevents spam harvesters from collecting your e-mail address.

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

Living in rattler country I have had a bunch of people do a double take with my rasptle snakes; but your are sort of primed to react first and get a good look later...

Ric is a good one; I was his helper at one Quad-State and he never even blinked at finding an eye, (plastic) floating in the quench tank---it had high sides and so the audience couldn't see it; neither could he till he went to use it...

Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/01/08 11:43:57 EDT

Traveling: SOme of us don't get to visit other smiths at all unless we travel thousands of miles. I do it a couple times a year, so far. May soon have to be only once as fuel prices keep rising off the charts.

I'll be attending the Atalntic Coast Blacksmiths Conference in early September, and that my rule out Quad States this year, unfortunately. I can' tpass up the ACBC though, as they're having great demonstrators in a terrific venue and I already volunteered to do one of the pickup demos. I got my airline tickets early so the price was tolerable, but if I try to do QS too that will be pretty much last-minute and probably not affordable at all.

I'm with Ries and the Firesign Theater. Love those guys!
vicopper - Tuesday, 07/01/08 19:13:48 EDT

Nick Danger is an old favorite of mine as well as many other ones.

Rich could you just stay through QS or would SHMBO object? We're planning to get to OH a week early for a textile event for my wife and stay through QS visiting with our kids and grandkids. Expensive in time and money; but it gets me to Q-S!

Thomas---I may have to bring the rum if Rich can't come!
Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/02/08 11:16:34 EDT

Where would you get (good) Rum in New Mex? I would think you could find some hand-crafted Tequila!
Dave Leppo - Wednesday, 07/02/08 11:27:19 EDT

New Mexico alcohol: We start out with takillya and graduate to musskillya.
- Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/02/08 14:15:33 EDT

Frank; that's just a quantum away!

I myself was greatly surprised to find that an ABQ international supermarket carried Cruzan Blackstrap and greatly pleased too!

Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/02/08 15:07:33 EDT

"Forge Raising" at Camp Fenby, July 4, 5 & 6: Saint Mary's County, Maryland

Summer Work Session Objectives:

Primary objective will be the new forge building, with a secondary work party working with the power boat under Leonard. Anything else depends upon skill and imagination. (Please keep it creative and legal!)


Friday morning I'll be pulling supplies, so if you plan to come Friday, please come around noon.

Friday evening I will need to retreat to Grey Havens (400 feet away) to watch Amanda; drinks, snacks and light fireworks to follow.

Saturday seems to be the primary day; but there should be some work on Sunday, from about noon to 4:00.

Some sort of seafood feast, preferably with crabs (if affordable) is planned for Saturday night, we'll poll the crew.


Camping is available on site; and there are lots of motels in Lexington Park. We'll have shade, a tent fly, tables, chairs, drinking water and a porta-potty at the work site.


No power yet, although we can plug-in over at Grey Havens; or if you have 400 feet of 12 ga. electric outdoor extension cord… Bring hand tools, and battery powered drills and saws could prove very useful.

Layout of the Farm:

Everything to the right of the dirt lane has been sold out of the family. I still have access to the old forge (“the stripping house”) but please respect the new owners and stay on the left (“my side”) of the lane.


Horrible tick conditions. Tuck in your pants legs into your boots and/or pull up your socks over the cuffs, and use repellent. Mosquitoes aren't too bad however. Check yourself at least once a day (or, better yet, have a “close friend” check you ;-).

Yahoo Groups Site:

We are planning a regular Camp Fenby session of medieval arts and crafts this autumn, probably in November.

New directions to Camp Fenby, Oakley Forge and Grey Havens upon request.

Camp Fenby Yahoo Group
Bruce Blackistone - Wednesday, 07/02/08 22:37:28 EDT

September Traveling: No, Thomas, Sally has emphatically advised me that I am not allowed to spend almost an entiremonth away form the Territory during the peak of Hurricane Season. I can hardly blame her, either. So, itis either two trips or one, but not one long trip. Too bad, but there it is. I'll hate to miss QS, but it may happen. Time will tell.

In any event, schlepping a box of rum has gotten to be a huge hassle with the airlines' people having gotten so sticky-fingered lately. I lost six bottles of Cruzan's finest, including three of the Estate Single-Barrel when I last went up to Philly. American Airlines has announced that they'll be so gracious as to not charge the new $15 or $25 luggage fee for Cruzan Rum boxes, but since they "misplaced" that one, it doesn't seem like such a red hot deal to me.
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/02/08 23:52:35 EDT

I have made several swords out of single pieces of steel. However, I wish to know the hype of swords made of two metals. I hear they are better then the single pieces being harder and more flexable. And I hear various sources say that iron is better then mild steel as the core component. What is your opinion on that?
andrew - Thursday, 07/03/08 17:26:04 EDT

Swords: Personally, when it comes to great long edged weapons I'm of the Indiana Jones persuasion; why bring a knife to a gun fight? One metal, two metals, ten metals, it doesn't matter - the metal that will do the serous talking is the lead.
vicopper - Thursday, 07/03/08 18:21:54 EDT

Swords: Andrew, If you want to read hype and myths/fiction, use the NAVIGATE MENU, and go to FAQS; then to Sword Making. It's pretty involved. One could forge a bimetal sword with WI as a core, and clad with high carbon steel, but it wouldn't be better than forging one out of a proper contemporary alloy tool steel.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/03/08 19:11:27 EDT

Main problem with swords is going to the movies with one on.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 07/03/08 23:33:58 EDT

Multi-metal blades: Back when. . steel was not very good and also VERY expensive it was common to make large blades out of several pieces. It was not unusual to have a five piece blade with a soft core and the hard slabs made of laminated metals of many pieces. . . The Japanese made a sandwhich like a hot dog in a bun and forged it into a blade. Where the fold was becomes the hard edge of the blade and the hot dog the soft back. . Again, the low carbon iron (or wrought iron) while VERY soft was not nearly as strong as modern mild steel an quite unpredictable to boot. As Frank said, despite the myths and hype modern steel way out perform the old steels in almost every way.

When you say "iron" in this regard you need to be sure to quality it as wrought iron (as compared to cast).

To make the blade you want you need to learn to forge weld. Try two pieces of spring steel and a piece of mild steel and work from there. . .
- guru - Thursday, 07/03/08 23:41:55 EDT

Also difficult to access one's sword when seated in a passenger car, particularly when at the wheel.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/04/08 08:31:32 EDT

Miles, a blacksmith that I know, who shall go un-named, ALWAYS has a sword tucked right behind the drivers seat of his pickup.
His swords look nothing like the ones in the movies- you would think, at first, they are more like a machete, as the blade is wide enough (2" to 3") to avoid snapping when used "vigorously", and there is no fancy damascus or furniture in bronze and semi-precious stones. He likes to make scabbards from the corrugated plastic found on discarded campaign and real-estate signs, with a bit of duct tape for structure.
But these swords will hold their own in most any situation, from beheading chickens to clearing brush, to violent confrontations. Sharp, tough, cheap, usable, and, as mentioned, accessible from the drivers seat in 5 seconds.

I have one right here in my office, and it is one beautiful, functional piece of craft.

So dont be too sure about the current utility, or locations, of swords.
- Ries - Friday, 07/04/08 12:11:23 EDT

Ries-- I can dig it-- I, too, know a blacksmith, name withheld, who has ready access to an impressive killer-diller of a blade whilst (love them Brit words, love 'em!!) motoring. But that ain't the same as having one's trusy sword in its scabbard, on its hanger, on one's belt, now, is it? Hmmmm? In that mode, they are a bit of a drag. They get all tangled up in the gas pedal.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/04/08 21:14:45 EDT

Swords Aboard: I noticed on the AMTRAK regulations that you cannot have swords (or baseball bats, etc.) as carry-on aboard the train. Makes me wonder which one of my friends misbehaved. ;-)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 07/05/08 07:01:13 EDT

Newbies CAN make tools!: All, you've been very helpful and encouraging to me in the Guru's Den - thanks! Now I would like to pass some of that encouragement on to other newbies: it CAN be done! I needed a gear puller to pop the front axle out of a 4WD hub I was replacing, and all of the shops were closed yesterday. So I made one using half-inch stock, designing it so tightening the lug nuts would force the axle out. Here is a crude sketch and a photo for your amusement. The work is crude in the extreme, but it worked. Newbies - you, too, can make tools!
homemade gear puller
Paymeister - Saturday, 07/05/08 12:05:09 EDT

Miles I have attended the movies whilst wearing an 1860's cavalry sabre...

Andrew; if you are interested in taking up the craft of pattern welding I assume that you are already a skilled bladesmith and are up on forming and heat treating blades---with not "a couple" but hundreds in your experience.

If not; may I suggest you learn to swim before setting off to swim the english channel.

Note that the American Bladesmiths Society has a quite nice school down around Texarkana TX/AR. Taking classes from experts can substantially shorten your learning curve. Also I assume you have read the books of James Hrisoulas a dozen times or so: "The Complete Bladesmith. The Master Bladesmith, The Pattern Welded Blade"

Remember if you make any mistakes doing the highly skilled operations you will end up with a sword that is worse than a factory made one. Expect to make *many* of them before you get one good enough to be a keeper.

As I tell my students "If you want a great sword the fastest way to get one is to mow lawns and *buy* one! By the time you get good enough to make one you will have spent massives ammounts of time and capital that will be way more than a blade that costs tens of thousands of dollars!"

Thomas Powers - Saturday, 07/05/08 15:23:36 EDT

Tool making:
Paymeister, good deal. Having a few machines as well as welding equipment now I would have (and have) made a puller differently. But at one time when all I had was a forge I've done similar things.

Keep it up!
- guru - Saturday, 07/05/08 20:34:09 EDT

Thomas-- why doesn't this surprise me in the least?
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 07/05/08 22:21:06 EDT

Paymeister : Nice work on the self made puller. A great idea! Being able to make tools you need is the soul of a blacksmith.
- djhammerd - Sunday, 07/06/08 06:10:44 EDT

Tool Making: I think every blacksmith has had at one time or another the thoughts of creating all their tools starting from as little as possible.

We were discussing making a vise on the guru's den and the problem of the screw and lathe comes up. However, it is possible to build a crude hand cranked device to achieve this task. Ever see a hand crank valve facing tool where the crank clamped to the valve and the stem ran in a simple V-block for a bearing? OR a cylinder ride reamer? Both are primitive and rather ugly tools but they do the job. I can imagine an almost as primitive vise screw turning machine. It takes a couple gears but they can be cast or hand cut. A guide screw is also needed but these can be hand cut as well. Once made such a primitive hand cranked tool could cut many screws a day and probably keep up with a crew doing the forging.
- guru - Sunday, 07/06/08 11:12:18 EDT

Ahh the follies of youth; did I ever mention the time I was waved through the metal detector at Newark International Airport while wearing a chainmail shirt---and it didn't react!

Vise screws: I would be more prone for doing a double brazed system where you wind two pieces of say 1/8-1/4" square stock around a shaft, unscrew one from the other and braze one onto the rod and the other into the hollow section.

Thomas Powers - Sunday, 07/06/08 16:07:22 EDT

Vise Screws: Thomas, they may have been made that way at one time but those I've examined were cut and only the nut was made by brazing. Cutting the screw is relatively easy and is a task that has been done since the bronze age and before that in wood (and continues to be done by hand). Making a matching nut is considerably trickier since much of the work is done in the blind. While you can hand follow a scribed line on a screw it is impossible to do so in a deep nut.
- guru - Sunday, 07/06/08 17:07:28 EDT

More vise screws: I will side with Guru on the vise screws, based only on what I've seen. I have a small collection of early bracket-tenoned vises. I think all of them are English, and they have machined male threads.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 07/06/08 18:58:53 EDT

If we were to attempt a vise as a demo piece I could make the screw and box at home to match the rest of the vise and claim these parts were readily avilable to shops of the time period but, if we wanted to make everything I would make a swaging tool that would guide the screw blank thru a set of thread forming dies using a hand cut thread of wood.
Unfortunatly, for what ever reason the anvil of our power hammer is not in register with the hammer close enough to use dies (some kind of adaptor plate was set up to enable the use of the striking hammer) so this would have to go into a guillotine swage in the hardy. I would also have to use the freshly cut screw as a tool to cut the internal threads in the box by vertue of a small cutting tool monted in the end of the screw that could be advanced a few thousands each pass...
Sounds like we would be making the screw and box instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.
- merl - Sunday, 07/06/08 23:35:22 EDT

Vice Boxes: Merl, the point is that traditionally the vices had a brazed (or penny welded) nut the threads made from a spiral of square bar. These were fitted to the screw and tube, the screw tested then the tube heated to braze the threads into the tube. Then the rest of the assembly was done similarly including building up the back end thrust block from forged rings and a forged end plug. Where experimentation is needed is finding out if all the parts were fire brazed at one time or in stages.

It is possible to make a forged screw similar to rolling a thread but there is no evidence of this process in vice making. Extant parts are clearly turned as Frank noted.

I HAVE seen a leg vise that had a solid bronze "box". This would have been possible to make quite easily including the threads by allowing some for shrink. . . A first class patternmaker could allow for shrink in all directions and make a very good thread. . .

Your using the screw to cut the threads in the nut won't work. Think about it. . .
- guru - Monday, 07/07/08 00:12:52 EDT

Vice Box: Why not just use babbitt to create the thread in a screw box? Pins could be used flush from the outside of the case to prevent turning.
- djhammerd - Monday, 07/07/08 02:50:31 EDT

The "composite vise box": I would recommend locating the four part series, "Restoration of Leg Vises" in Anvil Magazine when it was hard copy, July, August, September, and October, 2001. In part four, Peter Ross makes a composite (brazed) screw box, and he brazes the parts externally and internally in one operation. This means that the rings and "no turn lugs" on the
tube are brazed at the same time as the threads. The lugs (stops) are tenoned on one end so that they can be fixed into slots in the largest ring. Peter used snippets of sheet brass and flux and rotated the piece in a coke fire. When brazed, it was set aside to cool and when cool, it was cruddy. It was soaked in water for a few days which allowed the worst of the crud to get wire brushed more easily. A boring bar was place in the vise, and the box was applied and turned by hand, cleaning the internal scale and excess brass. The box was then lathe turned to give it a nice, external appearance.

The article was written by James R. Melchor and Peter Ross; photography by James R. Melchor.
- Frank Turley - Monday, 07/07/08 08:34:42 EDT

vise box: I built a new vise box and screw for one of my vises years ago. I used a screw from an old house jack and made the threads for the box from keystock. I brazed the threads in using copper wire with borax for a flux, in a coal fire. Mine too was very cruddy from the borax after it cooled. That was the hardest part of the whole project, cleaning all the borax residue out of the threads. But the vise has been is use now for 25 years or so and still working well.
- Bernie Tappel - Monday, 07/07/08 11:05:05 EDT

Composite Vice Box:
The couple I have examined were fairly primitive and not turned. On both it was obvious that the rings used to build up the body were forge welded into a ring then brazed onto the screw tube. The one I have photos of has a notch in the first ring for the anti-rotation key (which was missing).

Those of this type that I have seen were not turned. All the turned boxes I have seem to be the solid type.
- guru - Monday, 07/07/08 15:17:23 EDT

100 Pound Little Giant For Sale:
This is a late model (the last) with dovetail guides and a factory motor (3HP 3PH). It is in mint condition. Has custom dies for bit work.

Originally sold in Virginia and now in North Carolina. Seller will ship nationally or it can be picked up. This is a great hammer. You can do either large or small work with it.


Will post photos shortly.
- guru - Monday, 07/07/08 15:47:17 EDT

Camp Fenby Work Session at Oakley Forge: It's nice to have friends! All of the time that I spent to prepare the trusses and stud-up the walls, and gather the material really paid off; but having a variety of folks with various skills and talents really did the trick. The roof is on but for one last panel (short time and a thunder-storm came up, and then went away after we got everything put away) and additional bracing, straps and other projects are in line for weeknights in the late summer daylight.

We are now at the "pavilion" stage, with a roof and open sides. Following the good advice received here and from Uri and friends, I will be setting up the chimney with the duct through the back wall for the coal forge (which will be the last wall to be closed in, not to mention I ran out of money for plywood).

For Saturday, we packed off to a local waterfront restaurant, and nobody ordered crabs. (!?!)

Sunday I worked with one friend on the roof, to the penultimate panel. He was able to just drill them in, while I had to smack each screw with a hammer to get it started (sigh).

Another work session is planned for next Saturday, should anybody be in the area and want to stop by. We’ll work on the last roof panel, and start putting up the plywood siding.

Pictures posted somewhere soon. My continued thanks for all of the sage advice and observations.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 07/07/08 15:49:43 EDT

Fly presses for sale: I have 2 fly pressses 1 screw press 2 200# bradleys that need wood helves plus extra rubbers.1 air or steam hammer plus other items.I can send photos etc.
- Len Schechter - Monday, 07/07/08 17:00:36 EDT

Fly presses: Len, I am looking for a larger flypress, if you are anywhere near the east coast of the U.S.
- John Christiansen - Monday, 07/07/08 17:20:38 EDT

e-mail link: Guru, any idea why sometimes my posts here include my e-mail link, in my name, and sometimes not? Thanks.
John Christiansen - Monday, 07/07/08 17:23:30 EDT

John it should do it every time if you use the same computer and do not clear your cookies.
- guru - Monday, 07/07/08 20:26:20 EDT


On my machine, my name and email automatically populate on the form sometimes, but sometimes not. I guess it's probably a setting somewhere (I'm using IE 7.0), but it's too much trouble to try to figure out.
Mike BR - Monday, 07/07/08 21:03:04 EDT

Composite vise box: As guru noted, the screw box rings were forge welded, and this brings to mind the old time "blacksmith mentality." The vise washers were made the same way, by bending and forge welding. In the present day, many of us might be tempted to take some plate steel; then torch, plasma cut, or chisel out a circular shape and drill or punch a central hole. Then clean-up. The old guys just could not conceive of approaching the job like that. You bend and forge weld, using the pi x average diameter formula, leaving a little extra for forge welding.

I've taken apart and worked on many an old leg vise, and if you clean and carefully inspect the washers, you'll most often see shuts which are evidence of the lap weld. However, this is not necessarily true of the 20th century Columbian and Iron City vises which have some cast parts including cast boxes.
Frank Turley - Monday, 07/07/08 23:08:08 EDT

Welds and Wrought Iron:
I have some old practice pieces of 1" square wrought. It is a dozen or so scraps all welded into one bar. It is probably a job given to an apprentice to make something useful of a bunch of cut offs.

I have also seen work that had extra forge welds for similar reasons but not to use up scrap but to make do with what was on hand. But when done right you can never tell in wrought, so the technique may be more common than we think.

In the wrought era it was more common to weld a corner than to bend it because wrought didn't like to be bent at right angles. It was also more common to build up mass rather than to upset it OR draw it out. Welding was THE method of the wrought era. Modern smiths using modern steel and power hammers do jobs much differently. Where a wrought era smith might build up a part from a dozen pieces a modern smith figures out the steps of the puzzle to make the part from one piece.

In the case of the vice box the parts are all small forgings that could be done in a small shop with light tools. The assembled pieces are much more than the smith could efficiently forge in one piece much less make the thread.

As Frank notes, it is a completely different mind set and method of approaching the job.

Frank, in my shop when I need a special heavy washer I saw it off the end of a piece of round stock then drill it. If I need several I will drill the bar in the lathe, face it, cut one off, then face the bar and cut another off. . . Smaller washers are sawn in the lathe, larger ones in the cut off saw. When they are for something I want nice both sides will be faced off and chamfers machined. Torching is too wasteful and requires too much clean up!
- guru - Monday, 07/07/08 23:42:13 EDT

sterling engines: This may be a little off topic, but I am wondering if anyone here has knowledge of working sterling engines(as opposed to working models). I would like to build one somewhere in the area of 5 kilowatt, am starting my research, and thought I would ask here. Thankyou
John Christiansen - Tuesday, 07/08/08 22:22:35 EDT

Guru, you and Frank are right of course. I'm thinkng about this from the wrong perspective. In the early 1900's that the club shop reprisents we would have certainly had accsess to a lathe capable of cutting screw threads and that is the way it would have been done. I supose on the first public attempt I could turn a screw and box at home and claim they were "purchased parts" to complete the job but, I would want to attempt wraping and brazing the internal thread(the brazing without a torch would be a chalenge)at sometime.
BTW, the internal screw cutting method I refer to does work even if it is rather slow. Chuck up a shaft that is .01 smaller than the minor dia. with the required tool set to cut on center sticking out a few thousands and held in place by a set screw.
Slide the block over the bar and fasten to the tool post or a tool post vise, run the tail stock up to suport the outbord end of the bar. When reseting for each sucsesive threading pass the tool must be removed from the bar or set below the surface to prevent cross theading and set to the next depth befor starting the next cut. I would have made a simple tool to mimick these actions that used the newly made forged screw as a template. If all that sounds ridiculous you're right. I'm still in that amateur mind set that thinks the most difficult way to do something must be the way the blacksmith would do it.
- merl - Tuesday, 07/08/08 23:30:37 EDT

Air hammer needed: I am curious if the nazel is still for sale. It has been posted for years, and doesn't seem to move. If not, is there somewhere I may locate a reasonably priced hammer in the 300lb. to 1000lb range? Thank you.

- Seth - Tuesday, 07/08/08 23:45:54 EDT

Merl: By the early 1900s technology was pretty well advanced. Capable but labor intensive machine tools, Oxy Acetylene and arc welding were all available before 1910, but of course not all shops would have had them. I don't know when they stopped brazing in screw threads, but they certainly could have been machined by Your time frame.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 07/09/08 00:01:22 EDT

Lathes and Screw Turning:
Lathes capable of making an internal thread go back to the early 1800's and were fairly common in manufacturing plants by the 1830's (100 years before your time period). Primitive lathes capable of making the screw were available in the 1700's. The "solid box" came about shortly after Nasmyth's steam hammer was put into production (1850's).

In the Sears Blacksmith Tool Catalog of 1914 there were more lathes than forges. The SouthBend I have from this era has every major feature of a modern engine lathe including a quick change gear box for chasing threads from 4TPI to 224 TPI (.0015 feed). An earlier (late 1800's) no-name lathe I have uses change gears but also had a built in taper attachment.

The cross slide for moving the tool in and out goes back to the 1700's. However, to turn a screw on lathes of this period the feed remained engaged and the lathe reversed to back out the tool. Boring bars have to be much smaller than the bore to allow chips to clear.

Since vise making was a specialty the only places that made vise screws and boxes were vise makers (or the occassional repair). However, there WAS a brief period when you could purchase these as repair parts.

All the old box brazing was done in a coal or charcoal fire. No torch required.

While the primitive blacksmith shop had few machines most well established shops of the early 1900's had at least a good drill press, a lathe and a bench grinder. This includes small country shops that did everything from horse and wagon to millwright work. Those that succeeded into the automobile era had these and many more. It is only a modern romantic idea that the typical blacksmith shop only had an anvil and forge. On the other hand, there WERE the specialists of the 1700's that made everything by hand including vise boxes.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/09/08 11:14:04 EDT

Fly press screw press: I have 2 flypresses 1 screw press 2 bradley 200# hammers needing wood helves plus extra rubbers can send photos etc.
Len Schechter - Wednesday, 07/09/08 13:01:55 EDT

Anvil for sale: There is an anvil for sale on "Harrys Old Engine" pages. Looks to be around 100#, for $100. It is worn, looks like chips and/or feathering on the sides, looks like a hard face so probably is forged. Goto
that should get you there, you may have to register to access it. It is located in Classified/Miscellaneous for sale>antiques and collectables, physically located in MN.

I have no connection with Harry or the seller, just looks like a good deal for a blacksmith
- David Hughes - Wednesday, 07/09/08 13:16:04 EDT

Yes, of course you're right again and, the most pitifull thing about the whole project is that the club has several nice old machine tools that just sit in storage because no one can agree on whare they should be set up and weather they will be static or working...
It seems we are always having the discusion about "would that be accurate for this shop" I guess the club smithy is a close copy of one that was near by and so the guys that pretty much run the shop want to keep it as true to the original as they can.
I keep pushing to get the machine shop set up (most of the machines are run by line shaft) but things move slowly most of the time.
- merl - Wednesday, 07/09/08 22:42:53 EDT

Big Hammers: Me, I consider any hammer over about 250lbs to be "Big".
And it seems like every year, a few more of em get scrapped, and every year for the last 30 or so, there are a couple more shops that want em, and can come up with the work for them.
So while at the nadir of american blacksmithing, in the mid 70's, they were giving em away, I have noticed fewer and fewer great deals on used Nazel 3B's these days.
If you are persistent, and can wait, cash in hand, til that perfect one comes up, be it next month or 3 years from now, there are still a few deals on 300lb Nazels and Chambersburgs- but much more often these days, the asking price is ten grand and up- and they seem to be selling at those prices.
With big hammer, the initial purchase price is just the beginning, of course. Most are at a minimum 40 to 50 years old, and lots are a lot older than that- pre second world war is not uncommon. So expect rebuilds- expensive rebuilds. Motors alone, when they are 3phase and 25 hp, can be pricy. The big self containeds have a gear train between the motor and the driving piston that often goes after a mere 75 years of hard industrial work- and there are no spares out there. New gears can run a couple grand. Foundations for a hammer like this cost thousands. Electricity is formidable. Copper aint getting any cheaper.
And still with all that, they still arent cheap. I know quite a few guys with big hammers, and most of em arent moving til after the smith dies.

Me, I have had very good luck with my Chinese Chambersburg copy- it isnt particularly big, a mere 88lbs, but I have also used some of the bigger ones, and they all seem pretty solid to me.
If I was looking for a 300lb to 1000lb hammer, I would seriously look at the Anyang and Stryker machines. I have had my Anyang, and used the heck out of it, for close to ten years now. No problems, it runs great. The folks I know with 165lb and 250lb chinese hammers love em.
And the big advantage- you can get one right now. New. With parts available. Anyang is pretty committed to the US blacksmith market- the president of the whole company flew over to Abana 2006, and I met him- he didnt speak a word of english, and he still spent a couple of days shaking hands with disreputable blacksmiths.
- Ries - Thursday, 07/10/08 00:05:43 EDT

Big Hammer Availability: Check on the Surplus Record, Agosta Machinery, Ron Erbe, etc... They usually have or know where there are some large hammers. Bruce Wallace had a larger Nazel that was posted here on this site, may still be there in the power hammer section.
- Matt Lamey - Thursday, 07/10/08 08:38:32 EDT

Big Hammers:
I have a friend that has a 2000 pound Niles Bement and a 300 Niles Bement. $10,000 and $6,000. Both were running, the small one is setup but not installed.

I have a mint late model 100 Pound Little Giant for $4500. AND The Portage Tool Company has a good running Nazel 5-I for $15,000 loaded on your truck.

There are hammers out there but the "perfect" size/types for no moeny are gone.
- guru - Thursday, 07/10/08 11:31:36 EDT

Big Hammers: There is a Nazel 6B on the surplus record that has been listed for several years. Located in Ohio I believe.
There are also several Rohr rope drop and Erie's and so forth. Look and drool.
ptree - Thursday, 07/10/08 19:47:57 EDT

Sterling engines: Well, I posted this question on the engineering forum I go to and on, and here, No responce anywhere. Is it that no one knows about these things, or no one is taking my question seriously? Desparately seeking info on heat differential engines. Been up and down the web till my eyes were bleary, twice. Anyone?
John Christiansen - Thursday, 07/10/08 22:01:42 EDT

Power hammer: Seth,

Since you're in Wisconsin, look up Bob Bergman at Postville Blacksmith Shop, aka Old World Anvils, and check with him. Bob is a sho'nuff expert on Nazels and other hammers, and often has one or more for sale. He also rebuilds them from time to time and has lines to hammers that other people have for sale.
Old World Anvils
vicopper - Thursday, 07/10/08 22:03:19 EDT

Sterling Engines: Hi John
I have a sterling engine and play with it from time to time. I also have a good book how they work and the history etc. I will try to remember to look up the information where you can get this nice book tommorrow and send it to you.
- Rustystuff - Thursday, 07/10/08 22:53:42 EDT

Sterling engines: John,

I'm familiar with the general concept of them, and have seen numerous models, but never a working-sized one. A 5kw would be a pretty good sized engine. I hope you can get it worked out and get one made, as I'd love to hear how it works out in actual practice.

Best of luck with it!

Rich Waugh
vicopper - Thursday, 07/10/08 22:58:08 EDT

John, have you tried looking using the spelling "Stirling"? From what I've found says they are used on submarines, and as auxiliary power generators on yachts, so there has to be info on them somewhere.
JimG - Thursday, 07/10/08 23:11:20 EDT

Sterling Book: John
"Stirling Cycle Engines" $12.00 128 pages By Andy Ross. This publication is the first of its kind and takes the reader on a 160 year tour through the world of Stirling engines. The hot air principles of operation are explained in this easy to read lavishly illustrated book.

My book is in my shop. I will get it tommorrow to give you the isbn number and place to purchase it.

This is a good link on engines as well:
- Rustystuff - Thursday, 07/10/08 23:18:20 EDT

Jim, thanks for the hint. I have found lots of info, but no where near what I need to start building one Thanks. Rich, Thanks for the encouragement!
John Christiansen - Thursday, 07/10/08 23:21:59 EDT

Ask and ye shall recieve, Thankyou Rustystuff, sounds perfect.
John Christiansen - Thursday, 07/10/08 23:26:30 EDT

Lindsay Books-- catalogs usually offer several volumes re: Sterling engines. Unknow if they only cover theory and the making of desktop miniatures.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/11/08 00:21:57 EDT

Stirling Heat Engines:
From the little I know about these curious little engines the problem with making them very large is heat transfer. Heat goes in waste heat goes out. Getting rid of the waste heat efficiently (which is a great inefficiency) is the problem.

Lots of folks have worked on the problem and the heat engine remains a curiosity.
- guru - Friday, 07/11/08 09:31:47 EDT

Dave Leppo - Friday, 07/11/08 10:45:08 EDT

Dave, thanks. I didn't know they built them that big!
- guru - Friday, 07/11/08 12:52:48 EDT

Stirling Heat Engines: Erickson, the guy who built the Monitor in the Civil War, produced (or tried to produce) large stirling engines. One of his early attempts powered a paddlewheel ship. On some of the initial trials, passengers would ride the slow moving piston(s?) up and down. It was swamped for some reason (shallow draft+storm?), refloated and refitted with steam engine. Erickson continued in his research, finally commercially producing a line of small engines used mostly as pumping engines, something that would power a piston well pump after being geered down enough. I also believe they were used when a silent power was required, like pumping church organs. The inability of technology to meet the requirements of the engine (heat transfer, special alloys, machining tolerances, etc), and the rise of the internal combustion engine, eased the Erickson pumping engine off the range.

Do a search on "erickson" and "rider-erickson", should find the old attempts. Several others produced a commercial hot air engine, but Rider-Erickson was the most successful. Think I have spelled these correct, if not a search on the Monitor should get you to Erickson.
- David Hughes - Friday, 07/11/08 14:43:29 EDT

Anvil Identification: Hello,
I was given an old anvil and would like to identify it. It is rusty and has a lot of rusty pit marks so I can't read the stamping but the first # looks like a one . I took some pictures and will try to post it. It is about 130 lbs. TIA
doogdoog - Friday, 07/11/08 22:09:26 EDT

Great stuff everyone, thankyou very much. Now I just have finnish building my muller, learn g-code, drag the smelter out of the shed, see ya all in a few years.
John Christiansen - Friday, 07/11/08 22:13:37 EDT

Great big hunk of ahrn: It's sold now, and for more than $500, but what is it? Anybody know-- for sure? Ebay item 120278990989
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/11/08 23:47:30 EDT

Miles, I have seen this in a book somewhere. I think it is a tamper used to firm up soil (note wear on end).
- guru - Saturday, 07/12/08 15:40:59 EDT

New Hammer Designs: Over on the forge mailing list, we were discussing different designs of power hammers, and it occured to me that all three of the main families of power hammers (mechanical linkage, utility air or steam, and self contained air) are close to a century old in basic design.
Sure there are modern iterations of them, like the mid 60's Kuhn design that takes the early 20th century cast iron self contains and makes it from fabricated steel- but basically, we have seen nothing new for a long long time.

Recently, I read about a type of stamping press, though, that could probably make a great forging hammer.
The japanese, particularly Aida, are making high horsepower, PLC controlled servo motors for stamping presses that are very high torque, low rpm, with the rpm precisely controllable- in fact they are controllable even within one revolution, so they can be made to change speed during the cycle of a single hit, going faster when they come down, then slowing down on the upstroke, for example.

They are built in sizes that have enough power to actually do some damage to hot iron.
Moving parts are at a minimum. No flywheel, no clutch, no compressor, no constantly cycling cylinders.
You dial in the speed you want, in BPM, presumably even if what you want is one hit every two minutes, and the motor does it. You can change stroke length at the press of a button, to get maximum usage out of all sorts of tooling.

Of course, they are expensive. And, right now, not made in a version set up for open die forging- but the basic principle, of a very high torque slow motor, that is precisely controllable, is kind of the holy grail for a power hammer- its what all those dupont linkages and master/slave air cylinders were trying to achieve, back when the technology couldnt deliver it directly and succinctly in a small package.

Check out these presses, oh hammer experts, and tell me why this wouldnt work?
- Ries - Saturday, 07/12/08 17:02:11 EDT

Servo Presses: It seems to me that the spring toggle in a mechanical hammer does two things: First, it stores energy at the beginning of the downstroke and releases it at the end, so that the ram velocity is greater than you'd get with just a motor and crank. That's especially important because the connecting rod velocity approaches zero as a crank approaches bottom dead center. Second, the spring lets the ram float so it doesn't descend a predetermined amount on each stroke.

Those presses still have a motor driving a crank through a reducing drive. It seems to me that the ram velocity at the bottom of the stroke would still be limited by the motor RPM and the (disadvantageous) geometry of the crank. And you'd have to somehow adjust the stroke on each hit -- let the ram go too far and you'd stall the press or ruin your work; not far enough and you're wasting time and energy.

The press would let you decrease the BPM without reducing the ram velocity at the bottom of the stroke. But I'm not sure you'd have enough velocity even running wide open.
Mike BR - Saturday, 07/12/08 20:24:53 EDT

Servo Press as Hammer: The big stumbling block I still see is that of rigid coupling between the motor/drivetrain and the tup. There is still no way for the ram to "adjust" to the thickness of the stock, as it does with an air or mechanical hammer. There's nothing there to prevent it from experiencing a catastgrophic failure as loads approach infinity when the the tup contacts the work 3" above the end of the stroke. One hit, one crash, one trashed machine, just like on a mechanical punch press when it can't get the punch through the work.

I suppose you could provide a feedback loop so that the servomotor controller could detect the initial contact, then calculate the loading/displacement and stop the stroke before it reached failure mode, but that's a lot of fancy number crunching to do what either a DuPont linkage or an air valve does automatically. If the fancy controller malfunctioned, you could have a dangerous and expensive failure in just one almost-complete stroke, it would seem to me.

If'n ya want to have an electric hammer, why notjust use a humongous solenoid? No issue when the solenoid slug meets infinite resistance; it just stops, rather than consuming the entire machine in a catastrophic failure mode.
vicopper - Saturday, 07/12/08 22:03:48 EDT

I thought I would pass this along.
There is an add in the Wisconsin state Farmer for a 150# Peter Wright, very good condition,$350.
Call and leave message at 608-929-7577.
The number is from Highland, Wis.
Also in the same paper but,different ad "blacksmith forge" (one of several items) no price, 920-743-3416. This number traces to Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
- merl - Saturday, 07/12/08 22:07:43 EDT

Jock-- well, one would have to have-- or soon develop-- one helluva set of shoulders to use that beauty as a tamper. Or to swing it. I suspect it's currency in some 8th world nation, redeemable in bullion, or better yet, gasoline.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 07/12/08 22:38:22 EDT

Maybe someone needed a new Thor's hammer for their group.
- Robert Cutting - Sunday, 07/13/08 00:12:22 EDT

OLD Inventions vs. Servo Press:
Some "old" technologies, just because they are old, cannot be beat. Gears are crude mechanical devices transmitting power with clanking rattling levers that wear and make noise. They require a high degree of precision and special machinery to make satisfactory enough to be durable AND they must be constantly lubricated. But gears will be with us for many many more years. While AIDA claims its high torque low speed motor is "directly" coupled to the press crank, it is NOT. It uses the ancient gear for the final coupling because it is the most efficient transmitter of high torque when you need reduction.

For efficiency and power a Dupont linkage geometry hammer cannot be beat. With increasing energy costs I think you will be seeing mechanical hammers make a come back as "green" machines. The reason they are not among the "new" crop of hammers is that they are more expensive to make than an air cylinder and MUCH more technical to properly engineer. However, they are three to five times as efficient than an air hammer.

I agree with Mike's comments on the AIDA press used for forging. Some crank presses are used for forging (such as upsetters) but it is always in a controlled engineered situation and a LOT of overkill is used in the machine design. The typical flywheel driven vertical crank press has 80 to 85% more power stored in the flywheel than needed and connecting parts are only engineered for partial overloads above the 20% used. Only flypresses are designed to operate at stall torque the frame or tiebars acting as a huge low travel spring to absorb the load.

Open die forging machines must have the flexibility to operate at different heights on every stroke with height determined at contact. For an electronically controlled servo press to work the feedback would have to be in torque or amps and adjusted during every stroke. This would be very tricky as the only way I see for the AIDA press to adjust stroke is to not complete a full stroke and reverse the motor. How does one compute the proper the ramp down and reverse of the servo after contacting the work? Nothing is more instantanious than a hammer ram bouncing off the work (or worse die to die) and servos do not reverse and any more instantaneously than any other motor.

The AIDA press is also very energy inefficient. Like the air hammer it must use energy to slow and stop the ram at the top of the stroke. It does it with high amp DC semi-conductor circuits. . (semi-conductor maning it gives off a lot of waste heat).

The DuPont linkage is the most perfect design for the application. It costs more to make than an air or steam cylinder but it is infinitely cheaper (and simpler) than a servo drive. In the most common machine using a derivation of the invention (The Little Giant) the DuPont geometry was used but not the way DuPont did on the much more dependable (and expensive) Fairbanks hammer. Judging the linkage based on the Little Giant is like judging all automobiles on a 1958 Volkswagen Beetle.

I think the AIDA press is a wonderful piece of technology but it would take a lot more high tech to make it an open die forging machine. AS-IS it could be used as a die forging machine like an upsetter where every job is engineered.

Using the AIDA high torque low speed variable speed motor to drive a mechanical hammer would work nicely but be a super expensive replacement for a simple slip clutch. . .
- guru - Sunday, 07/13/08 04:47:26 EDT

Mechanical presses/upsetters: The mechanical upsetters, both AJAX and Nationals use a spring loaded set of toggles to prevent massive damage when a cold billet, or a misguide, and a too long bar is hit. The first time I heard a set of toggles "break open" as they were described in the forge shop, I came about 6" off the floor. The 9" upsetter, across the aisle had broke open. Probably tokk 2000 tons to cause it, and a very large thump was felt thru the floor as well as a very ugly, "om my God, something big just broke" sound. In fact when the crank on that machine broke, I was standing in nearly the same spot and that failure was not as loud. (That was a heat treated, forged 4140 crank, and the section that snapped was about 24" OD)

All the mechanical forging presses and upsetters I have been around were closed die, and had engineered billet to die opening and so forth. They also did not truely go closed. Extra billet volume is always used with excess extruded out as flash over a flash land. The land would usually give about 1/4" to 3/8" thickness at the forgeing gutter and was hot trimmed, so those presses really only approach the closed or no daylight position.
ptree - Sunday, 07/13/08 09:16:26 EDT

Mechanical Hammers: Reis, there is an improvement available. Like Guru, I am convinced that the mechanical hammer is far more efficient than the air hammer. The One major change that I made to the design of such, is the addition of a flywheel, between the drive motor and the hammer crank. I made the flywheel in the shape of a jack-shaft, using a 16" lathe faceplate at one end and a 16" 2 groove v-belt pulley at the other end, with a 4"x4" flat belt pulley between them. When the 2 hp motor is started, the flywheel spins, storing some serious power. The venerable flat belt drive, known for slipping, finds it's home in this design. Instead of a little 2" pulley mounted on the motor, The 4" pulley, with 50% belt contact, has it's way with the hammer head, ensuring smooth powerful starts, one hit blows, awesome hammer control, and many other superlatives including very limited belt wear. Every blacksmith and bladesmith that have tried my hammer were convinced that my claims were true. You are all invited, if on the Cape, to test it yourself, and see. By the way, the addition of the flywheel, can readily be acommplished, on existing hammers, with a little bit of fab and machine work, bringing them into the 21st century in terms of performance.
- John Christiansen - Sunday, 07/13/08 12:17:10 EDT

Hello: Hey good people
ritch - Sunday, 07/13/08 16:05:15 EDT

Improved mechanical hammers:
While the DuPont linkage has proven to be the best geometry for a mechanical hammer that geometry does not have to be exactly like a Bradley, Fairbanks or Little Giant. The Champion and several others used arced leaf springs and Beaudry used cams to get the identical effect. There are still other good arrangements that have not been tried or exposed.

I have a unique arrangement we are using on the two hammers we are currently building. It solves a lot of problems and is an improvement on the usual arrangement. No coil springs, no long flailing toggles. But I want to run it and test it before we let it be shown.

I have a friend that has come up with a different and VERY unique solution that is so ingenious that it makes me VERY jealous. Less parts and fits the geometry of a modern hammer frame better than Dupont. He has built a working prototype to prove the concept (it was one of those "Its so crazy I can't believe it will work" ideas) and is now working on optimization and configuration rules. A patent is also in the works because it is so unique and has other applications. I would love to say more except I am sworn to secrecy and will most likely be listed as a co-inventor. . .

These ideas will likely show up in the coming years as a commercial hammer.

There are currently two commercial spring helve hammers on the market (Italy and India) but both are pretty much failures. The Indian hammer is one of the ugliest things I have ever seen and was obviously built without testing and proving the design. The Italian hammer is a thing of beauty but I am told it is very pricey (I haven't seen the price). But those that looked into it say its too pricey to import. I also do not know how it runs.

For a good hammer to be successful it will need to have a cost that makes it exportable as well as competitive with other hammers. The mechanics are less important in the long run. Little Giant proved that by selling a machine with lousy mechanics (T shaped toggles pivoting in cast pockets to get around a patent. . ) but at a better price. It was not until the Dupont Patent ran out that LG could use pin and bushing toggles as they did on their late models.

SO, We shall see. . .
- guru - Sunday, 07/13/08 22:47:29 EDT

I still think the servo motor, with an appropriate mechanical linkage, would be the bee's knees- but yes, expensive.

Right now, nobody can make a self contained hammer, be it mechanical or air, for much under ten grand retail- and I think with current trends in oil and commodity prices, that will be going up, not down.
The Utility hammers, which are not really industrial hammers in terms of construction or materials, come in cheaper because they rely on an outside compressor- and real production shops using them often buy rotary screw compressors, pushing the price back up over that 10K mark pretty quickly.

If you look at the world market, the few commercial models being made are either turkish Kuhn copies, or Chinese Chambersburg copies- nobody is really mass producing a mechanical hammer right now. In both cases, local market conditions (low wages, government subsidies, entrepeneaureal cultures) makes it possible for the Turks and the Chinese to beat US prices by a huge amount. Remember, the last Chambersburg price quote Mike Bondi got, in the early 80's, was over $125,000 for a 150lb self contained.

So while it may technically be possible to make a modern mechanical hammer, to actually produce one in any quantity, particularly in sizes over 150lbs, is gonna require a HUGE amount of startup capital- probably, it would have to be the pet project of a millionaire.

Add up all the new hammer sales in the USA today, and then estimate how much of other people's lunch you could steal- and it isnt much.
I would imagine a retail price of $15,000 to $25,000 for a 150lb to 300lb new hammer. If you only sold in the USA, you could maybe sell ten a year?
Worldwide, of course, the numbers would be higher, but then, you need a lot more money for marketing and sales.

Anyang can make, and sell, the chambersburg copies they do because they are a small part of a huge operation that makes air, hydraulic, and mechanical presses, balers, open and closed die hammers, and more. The basic investment in equipment, manpower, shipping and sales infrastructure is spread over the entire product line, and it sells big, relatively profitable tools to industry, along with 50lb hammers to hobby types.

- Ries - Monday, 07/14/08 11:01:48 EDT

I also noticed, looking at the Anyang site just now, that really big industrial hammers they make are hydraulic- in the 2000lb to 10,000lb range, they have pics of hydraulic open die forging hammers that are getting 50 to 60 BPM.
Now part of that may be because, just like on their large self contained air hammers, their casting costs are relatively low, enabling them to go for foundry intensive, as opposed to machining intensive, solutions.
But I would imagine the big hydraulic hammers are also simpler to build and maintain, and use off the shelf hydraulic components.
- Ries - Monday, 07/14/08 11:07:33 EDT

The Anyang hydraulic hammers look to be based on the Lasco / Beche design to me. Anyang certainly sell alot of them.

Im speculating that Anyang is now probably the biggest forging machinery manufacturer that has ever existed. They have over 1200 employees. 2 years ago my contact at the factory told me they were thinking about getting into hydraulic open die presses. Now they are selling them in a range of sizes up to 10000 tons capacity !!!

The largest 'self contained' air hammer that they made 2 years ago was 1500 kg ram. I worked with them a bit on the design of a 2000 kg hammer, next I heard they were making a batch of 10 of them!!

My thoughts on the 'small' Anyang hammers I sell regularly in the UK (up to 75 kg ram) - the prices have risen 40% in less than 12 months and I can only see them going up further. Im not saying they are an appreciating asset but your depreciation on one will be minimal, even at todays prices.

On used big hammers I used to work on a selling price 'rule of thumb' of £ gbp 1000 per CWT of ram weight, now its double that. The price increases on new hammers from China is pushing up the prices of used hammers (in my opinion)
- John N - Monday, 07/14/08 17:44:03 EDT

A freind of mine keeps asking me if it would be feasible to build a steam powerd hammer that used its own self operating steam plant.
I told him the steam plant would need to be as easy to run as turning on an air compresser and twice as safe but, he keeps going on about it.
What is the huge advantage with steam over compressed air?
I have been working on plans for a very small but very high pressure(2000psi)steam plant for a while but, I don't think it would produce the quantity of steam required for a power hammer.
I have been thinking of making a drop hammer that uses a small diameter air cylinder to return the hammer to the top of its stroke instead of a large cylinder using alot of air in bothe directions.
Any input?
- merl - Monday, 07/14/08 18:36:27 EDT

Drop Hammer: I personaly would consider the steam hammer project not worth it. The problems with steam are what caused me to choose the stirling engine for my pet project, after I spent years researching steam.(not that steam doesn't have a place) There is a shop in my neck of the woods with a drop hammer. The 200# weight is lifted by an air cylynder to about twenty feet, then trips and free falls. Somehow the guy even made his own air cylynder, from d.o.m. tubing. If you are serious, I"ll try to get over there and see if I can get more construction details. He said he doen't use it much, since the tenants in the opposite end of the thousand foot long building, know all about it as soon as it starts running.
John Christiansen - Monday, 07/14/08 19:52:36 EDT

2000# steam: Merl, Having spent 21 years at a company that had a forge shop, made boilers, and another division that made high pressure valves and fittings, I would offer the following re: self designed steam plant and hammer.
1. The 2000 psi steam plant is right at state of the art in utility boilers, with quite a few operating at 2500#. This is usually with very high superheat. The velocities and errosion will amaze you.
2. Any steam plant , but especially a 2000 Psi unit will fall under the boiler code of any State I know. Do you have a ASME code stamp? The insurance needed for same?
3. Steam hammers are pretty neat to watch and run. They also are very very high maintenance, as are the boilers, piping and all associated equipment.
4. All the steam hammers I have ever seen had to tup constantly to maintain steam flow. Otherwise the pressure relief valve will open a lot. Ever hear a 2000# steam vent event? Can you say blood from the ears?
5. The steam once used in the hammer will have to be vented, and will probably have much latent heat and pressure. You will need an excellent silencer and will probably spray water and heavy steam cylinder oil all over. At 145# we had a very slick forge shop roof, and it was a city block size. We had two silencers.
6. What are you going to use for that steam cylinder oil? You will need something that will still lube at about 1800F to 1900F.
7. Galling of moving parts will be a major issue. At 2500# temp's plain steels will gall in a couple of cycles. I don't think the oil will solve this.
8. Don't forget that you will need a feed water system to maintain that critical, de-airated, chemically treated soft water at a rate to keep up with the evaporation rate of the boiler.

Not wanting to be a smarta.. but a 2000# steamplant is a critical item, requiring extremely carefull operation and maintenance. Improper maintenance or operation = time bomb. If you want to forge, in a small shop go with an air hammer or mechanical.

I probably failed to mention that ALL of the steam hammers were pulled from operation and replaved with mechanical forge presses in that closed die shop.

In the Mexican shop I worked in later, the steam hammers had been converted to air, as they had water supply issues, IE not enough. Also the boiler operation would have been quite expensive.
ptree - Monday, 07/14/08 20:42:18 EDT

Hammer Sales:
From the numbers I've seen, Big BLU is selling as many if not more hammers in the U.S. as Anyang. Striker may equal or exceed Anyang but that is also hard to tell as most folks keep their total sales figures private. While Tom Clark has pushed his Turkish hammers hard I know he doesn't sell as many in a year as Big BLU does in a good month. The other Turkish hammers are selling even slower (mostly special order). So much for low wage copies of the Kuhn. I know how many Kuhns Bill Pieh was selling when he was alive and really pushing them and it was less than a one quarter of Big BLU's current annual sales.

So a U.S. manufacturer CAN compete in the hammer market if they have a good product and have inventory. Even Tom Troszak's solid gold Phoenix hammers are selling as fast as he can make them.

With the weak dollar and transportation costs rising imports are not going to look too good in the near future. . .
- guru - Monday, 07/14/08 21:58:11 EDT

ptree, Everything you say is absolutly correct and true. You are certainly not a smarta.. but, just a smart guy.
I apologise for being so vaige and mentioning the high psi steam plant in the same posting. I would never think of hooking up somthing like that to a power hammer. However this freind of mine knows that I'm working on it and, knowing almost nothing about power hammers he thinks the two would be great together.(somtimes I despair...)
I have heard others rant about what a beutiful thing the steam hammer is and even though I'm big into steam engines I've never seen a steam hammer.
Frankly I don't think high pressure steam is the right operating medium for a power hammer. As you say the errosion ect.. and constant maint. would be daunting.
If your steam plant isn't as convienient as your air compressor then few besides the designer will care.
I am working on what I am calling an "amplified impact drop hammer" although with the sudden jump in scrap and new steel prices I have had to hold off on building for a while.
- merl - Monday, 07/14/08 22:33:25 EDT

I dont doubt that Big Blu are selling hammers. With their largest hammer at 155lbs, though, they are not in the same league as the three big chinese hammer factories, all of which make much larger machines.
When I said, "the world market" and "commercial models", to me, that means a machine that can run all day in a production environment, and be rebuilt if needed. I think of 300lb hammers as being small in this market segment. To me, a Big Blu is a more small shop machine. I am not a fan of the fabricated plate approach, as compared to a real cast machine. I feel the same way about Scotchman Ironworkers, as opposed to a real euro style engineered ironworker.
This is not to say there is anything wrong with a Big Blu- in its market niche, its fine. But I dont see industry going in that direction. Small, home based shops, sure- and in that respect, it is the Little Giant of the 21st Century- cheap, available, and adequate.
They have made a lot of compromises in design to meet a price point. I really wonder about the lifespan of the components, for example- I cannot see one living 80 years in a big industrial shop, the way many Nazels and Chambersburgs have, and, I suspect, the way many of the Chinese cast iron hammers will too.

I am not pro-chinese- in fact, the opposite is true, and the Anyang is virtually the only chinese tool in my shop, of any size.
I am, however, biased towards real industrial tools, and am usually willing to pay for them, and I know I am not alone in this.
I would love to see a new, american made hammer that was up to date in its design, efficient and flexible, controllable and powerful.
I realize this would cost real money.
I think there is a market for it.

- Ries - Monday, 07/14/08 22:56:58 EDT

John C, you know, as much as I enjoy steam traction engines and especially locomotives, I am always nervous around fire tube boilers ( usualy nearly 100 years old!) I just don't trust anything like that that I don't maintain myself or REALY know the guy that does.
I was once offerd a 40hp Case traction engine for $8000. that was licensed and operating, from a very nice old guy that just wanted me to have it. I had to walk away because I knew the boiler had not been well taken care of. Sure enough when the eventual new owner had the boiler ultrasound tested for his license it failed (less than 3/16 thick were the crown sheet met the shell) Pretty expensive lawn orniment...
- merl - Monday, 07/14/08 22:58:40 EDT

The advantage of steam is that there is a lot more energy in it than is in compressed air at the same pressure. That's the disadvantage too as it makes it much harder to deal with safely. Fortunately a steam hammer can be run on compressed air even if it's at lower power so some of the grand old ones are still in service.

Myself I would like a waterpowered tilt hammer; thought the water powered airhammers I saw in Germany were nice too. Unfortunately water power is not an option in these parts. However wind power might be. Pity that there is usually a minimum wind point about the time I get home from work weekdays.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/15/08 11:44:41 EDT

Italian Spring Helve: I'd like to see or here about this.
John Christiansen - Tuesday, 07/15/08 12:18:57 EDT

Italian Helve?: Is it this thing?
If so, its amusing, and it comes with its own cheezy soundtrack, but its hardly an industrial hammer.
- Ries - Tuesday, 07/15/08 13:29:37 EDT

Blacksmith's Gazette trouble: Can anyone tell me why the link to Blacksmith's Gazette from here gives me:
You do not have permission to access this document.
Web Server at
- Elliott Olson - Tuesday, 07/15/08 16:43:29 EDT

Ries, the Italian helve hammer (though I suspect its an indian machine) does look like a 'proper' hammer, though I cant find a link for it now, I know someone who has used one and was left quite unimpressed.

My thoughts are exactly the same as yours on definitions of an industrial hammer, ie for a small hammer ( 155lbs ish ) you should be able to run it double shift forging chisel points ( one of the hardest thing you can do to a small hammer)for years, only topping the oil up !!

There is a heck of a lot more making / engineering in a self contained type hammer than a 'blu' type machine. If I had an order for 50 off 88lb hammers and I made them in the UK they would still cost 5x the price of the chinese hammers, I suspect the same holds true for the states.

I think the global demand for industrial forging machinery is at its highest for decades with the ecconomic growth in developing countries. Im thinking of starting manufacturing industrial hammers again, but the production facility wont be in the UK !
- John N - Tuesday, 07/15/08 17:36:40 EDT

300 lb Niles: Jock- You mentioned a 300 lb Niles for sale a few days ago. Is this a one or two piece hammer? Do you know the stroke length, die size, floor space required, height, weight and compressor requirements and location for this machine? You can email me a response at if you don't want to post all that info here. Thanks.
- Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 07/15/08 17:57:25 EDT

Patrick; does your wife know you are looking at hammers again?

Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/15/08 18:24:03 EDT

Patrick, there is a Nazel 6B (1250#)on the surplus record, located in Ohio.
ptree - Tuesday, 07/15/08 18:49:45 EDT

steam power: Just as soon as most of the smaller power sources could be replaced with internal combustion or electric motors most did. Steam is not usually a part time thing. Needs critical maintenance, and lots of it. The learning curve is very steep, and a dangerous one as well.

The steam drop hammer was invented when compressed air was made by a steam driven compressor and was totally inefficient. why loose energy running a steam prime mover to compress air, loosing much more energy to the heat of compression when you can use the steam direct:) The one place to use steam to compress air is when you have waste steam. At the valve shop, our steam drop hammer shop normally used 2 850Hp steam generators. Thats about 82,000#/hr each, at 145 psi and 345F. The steam run thru the hammers in the tup and in use was down to about 40 psi. Can't watse those btus, or that good treated water, so it was piped back to the powerhouse, where it ran a 1700Hp recip steam prime mover, making about 2700CFM of compressed air. That dropped the steam to about 5 to 10 psi. Still vast amounts of btu and that precious water. From the air compressor the steam went to a feed water preheater, which took the steam down to a psi or so, and from there to a flash tank and the flash tank had a big silencer for the flash steam. We ran about 28 hammers from 1500# up to 25,000#, not all at once. In full production, in the summer we burned about half a rail gondola of coal a day. In the winter when we also heated the several million feet of space we burned an average of a car a day. Took a crew of thirty to run the power house 24/7. When the steam hammers went away, we had just installed a new state of the art boiler house across the tracks, (designed and built by our own boiler division of course). With automation and gas fuel, our crew went to 4!. With the steam hammers gone, the other needs in the summer for process heat was handled by one of the 850Hp boilers on PILOT LIGHTS:)

I loved to see those big old hammers run by experts. I did not envy the forge shop millwrights when one broke, as they were inches think in oil/grease/scale. Every part was heavy, the bolts huge and the tools needed even bigger. Lots of injuries when the tools slipped.

Ever seen a die key wedge for a 25,000# hammer set? Hang a "torpedo" from the 15 ton overhead crane. This torpedo was a bar of 8" steel turned down on one end to allow the guys to grab it. The other, striking end was 8". the guys start swinging the torpedo back and forth, and once the rythem is set the crane operator starts to trolly back and forth to really get the swing. Once up to about a 10 or 15' swing the crew leader gives the high sign and the crane is trolled into the die key, with the crew letting go and stepping back. That torpedo hits HARD! The keys were about 3' long and 4" square at the big end.

Those big Eries hammers were not a terribly precision machine, and since the dies were multi-impression the loads were off center most of the hits. Long V guides. We kept a long bed metal planner in service to reface and make new slides as long as we had the steam hammers. Nothing else was efficient in making 8' long multi V guides.

It still goes back to an industrial hammer for open die work in todays industry could still be a steam hammer in a shop with the knowledge and staff. That experienced staff in getting pretty rare on the ground. For a part time or home shop steam makes absolutly no sense. If one had the water perhaps water powered. If the wind is available then maybe a wind plant making electricity to run an air hammer.
I can't think of how one would get usefull steam flow and pressure to run a hammer without a dedicated boiler.
ptree - Tuesday, 07/15/08 20:18:52 EDT

In Lynden Washington, at the Whatcom County fairgrounds, is an old steam hammer that was donated when the Buzzard Iron Works in Bellingham went out of business.
Last year, my friend Adair Orr, and his dad Francis, who collects steam engines, actually took one of their steam engines up and fed the old hammer steam. I guess it leaked like crazy, but it did run, for a few hours.
It certainly wasnt a practical or cost effective way to forge, but it was very cool.

There are still a set of something like 5 steam hammers, in a building from 1864, at the Cambria Iron Works in Johnstown Pa.
Anyone who is interested in steam hammers should try to visit.
Like Ptree said- huge infrastructure was required. The steam plant was a mile or so away, and served the whole 3 mile long steel mill, so it is long gone.
The big hammer, a 10,000lb arch hammer from 1885, has something like an 8" steam line feeding it.
100 men worked in the blacksmith shop- my guess is that way back when, quite a few more than Ptree's 25 guys also worked in the steam plant that kept it running.
Big infrastructure requires big bucks, and lots of manpower, to keep going.
Steam is practical at that scale, but I cant see it working for one small hammer. Plus, its messy, loud, and needs a lot of maintanence.
Jim Garrett, up here, has a big Erie utility hammer that was originally steam- I think Grant might have converted it to air- and it still needs something like a 45hp compressor to run it.
Big toys= Big Bucks.
And, as Ptree also mentioned, big tools to support them.
Pics of johnstown are online at HAER-
google library of congress Haer, then type in "johnstown blacksmith" in the search window, and you get 28 pics of the big steam hammers, and the 1864 octagonal blacksmith shop.
I have visited, and it is amazing.
Well worth the trip.
- Ries - Tuesday, 07/15/08 22:39:54 EDT

300 lb Niles:
All Niles Bement hammers are two piece. Most of the diagrams for setting up a C frame hammer in old manuals are outlines of Niles hammers.

I do not have specifics on this one and the owner is out of town for a month or more. However, it is very similar to mine which is a 350. The floor space is about 40 by 55, height 9-10 feet. The hammer without anvil was scaled at 4,200 pounds, the anvil about equal. So the total will be less than 10,000 pounds.

The hammer base has ribs that go about 8-10" below the floor and the anvil another foot below that.

My hammer has 17" over the dies (max) and some more for stroke. . . I would go look but it is 3 hours away. Will get more specifics soon.

Located in Central Virginia, will load. Hammer runs well but is not installed at this time.

I do not know compressor requirements but I would expect 15 to 30 HP. I plan to run mine with a Sulair gasoline powered screw compressor. . . (about 40 HP).

Note that you can "run" these hammers on less. You just give a couple blows and wait, a couple more then wait. . .

- guru - Wednesday, 07/16/08 10:11:18 EDT

Steam Hammers at Cambria: One of the Niles Bement steam hammers at the Cambria Ironworks had been converted to air operation by Chambersburg Engineering before the shop was closed down. There is also a large Cambersburg self contained there still dripping a bit of oil at the ram. A litle bit of juice and it would probably run again. It would be interesting to hear if the shop was actually running on air at the end of its operation and the other steam hammers were sitting idle. There are a pair of the Niles in the center of the shop- one is the converted one and the other is missing its ram and cylinder; I suspect they were lost in the CECO selloff. There are some pictures of the shop, hammers, and tooling in my folder over at the Forgemagic photo gallery.
- SGensh - Wednesday, 07/16/08 13:16:40 EDT

300 LB Niles: Thanks for the info Jock
Patrick Nowak - Wednesday, 07/16/08 16:29:36 EDT

Patrick, the 2000# is a better deal ;) The cylinder/ rod and ram assembly is all my F600 flat bed can haul. . .

I will get better details in about a month.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/16/08 16:35:25 EDT

Big Hammers: Jock- the 2000 may be a better deal for the purchase price, but intallation, power requirements and the larger auxillary equipment needed to take full advantage of such a hammer really add up fast. Plus, the height of the larger hammer requires a taller building. A hammer in the 200-500 lb range is fairly similar to what I already have set up. If I were able to find a C-burg utility (single piece) hammer I could run it on the foundation I already have.

The only reason I am interested in this type of hammer at the moment is that I have found certain jobs requiring tooling to be difficult/impossible with the Brdadley because of the limited stroke. I can effectively work something 6-7" tall (work piece and tooling) under the Bradley. A steam hammer of the same ram weight will have the abiltiy to work possibly twice that height and will never jam the way a my Bradley will. I run into this problem mostly when making anvil tooling, which involes upsetting into a bolter block. For most other jobs the Bradley can't be beat. I have seen Clifton Ralph work on small steam hammers with a hammer driver very effectivley. What I don't know is how well these small steam hammers perform with a single operator.
Patrick Nowak - Thursday, 07/17/08 08:52:22 EDT

Small (200 - 500#) steam hammers:
Patrick, My friend Josh Greenwood has fitted a treadle control on a 750# Niles Bement and it works quite well. However, Josh is a wizard on a power hammer. He also has a 500 pound Cburg utility that is setup with a treadle.

To get the most out of any of these machines you need a driver who can control both both stroke/work height and power/blows. The blows can be easily controlled with the treadle but to operate both controls at the same time a driver is needed. However, you can do a lot by pausing to make an adjustment or making them between heats.

The high stroke is a great advantage. That combined with the power is why I am hanging on to my 350. But I would gladly trade it for a larger or smaller one-piece that could just be set on the floor and RUN. . .

To setup this hammer I suspect it will have to go outside and have a deck built up to the hammer's floor height and a shed put over it. However, things are changing once again in my life and plans must adapt. .
- guru - Thursday, 07/17/08 10:20:40 EDT

Patrick, All the Erie steam drop hammers at the valve shop including the 25,000# hammer had treadle controls. They all also had a lever for a driver but these were seldom used. These were all closed die machines, but the big hammers usually first drew out a tong hold to save stock and the hammers were used in an "open die" style for this. The treadle system gave good control of speed and lenght of stroke. We did not in that shop have a single hammer set up with dual lever control. In the control linkage was also a ratchet control that set the tup lenght/speed as well. I do not have a diagram, for this control system, but if you really need one I may be able to get a sketch from one of the retirees. I also will have a photo from the catalog that I will have at Quad State.
ptree - Thursday, 07/17/08 18:12:57 EDT

Die Space:
One thing about dies space on all hammers is that it is like any machine capacity, you always run out or need just a "little" more.

You can make up for this in some situations by removing the lower die and putting in a shorter one or a work plate bolted over the dovetail. The problem here is that extreme care must be taken not to over travel the machine. This can easily trash a machine. But if you are going to sit a big bolster block or plate on the machine to replace the die then you are semi-safe. . . On many hammer this can make a 4 to 5 inch difference. A better arrangement would be a lower die with punching holes like a bolster block OR a half width die with a place to support a changeable bolster block.
- guru - Thursday, 07/17/08 21:24:42 EDT

more. . .:
One idea in Lillico's Blacksmiths Manual Illustrated is the use of a dies set, such as used on a punch press on a power hammer. Doing this takes up several inches of travel (the thickness of the two plates min.). This could act as a "safety" if dies were removed to make room for it. The same system may also need travel stop blocks and those would also add to the height.

I must repeat the warning not to over travel your hammer of any type. On mechanical hammers you can bend or mangle linkage parts, on steam hammers the piston will bottom out and on self contained hammers the same will happen blowing out the bottom flange. .

I've seen Little Giants that had non-OEM dies that were just a LITTLE short and the toggle arms ended up bent. . .
- guru - Friday, 07/18/08 09:28:58 EDT

Speaking of damaging hammers, I worry about the lateral stress imposed on the wedge-- the impact on the die possibly squashing the wedge outward a bit-- causing the front of the sow block to crack or break off altogether on my 50-pound Mayer Bros. trip hammer. I've seen such cracks on other hammers and wonder if that's what might have caused them, especially on a cold morning. The hammer is getting along in years and it hasn't happened yet, but....
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/18/08 11:42:01 EDT

Sounds Dangerous Miles; I'll be right up to take that accident waiting to happen off your hands!

Thomas P - Friday, 07/18/08 15:19:17 EDT

Thomas-- right! By the way, do you ever look at your Email?
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/18/08 17:39:06 EDT

Howdy: Been gone awhile, can't get in the pub.Anyone know why?
- grunt - Friday, 07/18/08 23:43:27 EDT

Grunt, Probably a typo in the login/password. We have not removed any users in a couple years. Write me and I will look it up. You must have the registered email address or something close to the password.

- guru - Saturday, 07/19/08 13:09:57 EDT

Wedges in machines:
Those that fit correctly do not have to be very tight, just enough to spring things more than forging will do. Poorly fitting wedges end up being pounded in very hard to get them tight. This can break the sow block or ram.

The worse thing that happens is that fine scale works its way into the wedged fit around the dies. On each heavy blow the entire system springs and gaps open up momentarily. But this is all it takes and the result is a VERY tight die.

To help prevent this remove, clean and reinstall the dies. Then grease the joint area. The grease will keep the dirt/scale out of the joint.

- guru - Saturday, 07/19/08 13:18:18 EDT

Shelter for blacksmithing: A friend of mine is a blacksmith and wants to get started up again after moving. Some friends want to surprise him and help build a shelter. Any advice on the size, spacing, height, flooring, etc.?? Any advice would be appreciated.
irongirl - Sunday, 07/20/08 19:53:07 EDT

Jock-- Thanks. I think the Mayers wanted 1 (one)-degree wedges in there top and bottom. Easier said than done with hand tools.
- Miles Undercut - Sunday, 07/20/08 21:09:03 EDT

Wedges in machines:
Miles, Almost all tapers in U.S. built machines are measured in inches per foot, not degrees. 5/16, 1/4, 7/32, 3/16, 5/32" per foot +/- .005 to .0005" are common. These were often setup using a sine block and precision gage blocks. Gauge bars over a foot were often used for accuracy. Wedges and tapers were machined on planners and shapers. While the Little Giant Book says 1 degree, I do not think this is how they were measured since it was not common practice in the machine tool industry.

1 degree = 0.20943951/12", probably 7/32" (.2188) per foot.

The last hammer dies I made were cut using the wedges to hold the dies at an angle in the shaper vise. The results were as perfect as the machine could make them. If the wedges were in error the dies were still a perfect match. But if you want to be picky you should blue and hand scrape the wedges to fit.

Dovetail angles are measured in degrees (often 10 degrees) but the taper is in in/ft. I've measured LG dovetails that were closer to 11 or 12 degrees. I do not know if this was from wear or missed tolerances but we made dies that matched. I suspect that this is why many folks are leery of making dies to fit other hammers.

By the way, the idea to grease the dies fit area to keep scale our came from the guys at Big BLU.
- guru - Sunday, 07/20/08 21:52:11 EDT

Blacksmith Shelters; Irongirl: It sort of depends upon where he is, how much and what type of equipment he's using or plans to use, how much money is available and such. Anything from a lean-to to a tepee to a custom built shop has been used by various folks. Climate and prevailing winds have a lot to do with the layout, too. I'm currently building one of my own, 12' X 24', and I also have a lot of historical data. the folks here will be most helpful, but they'll need more details first.

Visit your National Parks
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 07/20/08 22:28:39 EDT

Blacksmithing Shelter:
Irongirl, This is tough as you can NEVER have enough room. Budgets are the biggest restraints followed by space.

Design concerns include climate, security, current and future uses. How many tools does your friend currently have and is this shop just for blacksmihing? Drainage can also be a concern on many lots.

Climate and security determine many aspects. I really love an open air shop, just a roof to keep the rain off and a central forge with a large hood/vent. However, in windy and cold locations this is not suitable except as a summer hobby. Security, theft concerns, are also a problem in an open air shop except in very rural secure areas or fenced in compounds. Machines are also better off in an enclosed shop. Some shops have both an enclosed area and an open area.

Ceilings should be over 8 feet. Plan on 10 feet as a minimum. There is often the need to swing a sledge hammer overhead or have room for machinery. High ceilings also make for better ventilation.

Ventilation is important. A vented ridge cap or turbine ventilators make a big difference. A big 3 foot fan in one end of the roof peak is nice on those days when there is no breeze.

A dirt floor is OK but MUST be on high ground or well drained ground. Modern shops usually have concrete pads as they are much better for setting up machinery of all types. A shop with a dirt (clay) floor in the forge and concrete in the machine area is a good combination.

I inherited a shop that was already built in my current location. It was built by the folks that make cheep steel framed tin covered carports. It is a miserable building. Even though it has a fairly high ceiling the uninsulated tin roof radiates heat down like a broiler oven. AND with a huge garage door opening and no back wall it is too hot to work in during the summer. Tin roofs MUST be insulated.

This current shop is also so lightly constructed that there is no place suitable to hang a come-a-long or small chain hoist to unload machines or equipment that are too heavy to handle by hand. IF building with roof trusses use an extra one to pair with another in a likely location. A doubled wood truss will pickup tons without stressing the building.

Ventilation in the form of windows or shuttered openings is good. They let in light and air. A door large enough to get a good sized truck into is also good to have. Preferably this is where there is some framing heavy enough to hang a hoist. I've had to purchase a forklift to put machinery in my current shop.

Even if the building is just an open air pavilion it needs a good 240VAC electric service. 100 Amps is a good minimum. This is needed to run an arc welder and any machinery that comes later. You can get away with 60A for the arc welder but that is REALLY the lowest limit.

Running water, a freeze proof spigot, is handy for filling the slack-tub, hosing off the floor, cleaning equipment and work. If you are digging a trench for an electrical service run a water line as well.

Open air shelters can often do without a chimney. Closed building need a chimney. A small shop can use a large central hood that any type of forge could be put under (coal, gas, oil). Otherwise you need a good chimney against one wall.

So, plan as big as you can afford and be sure the roof is at least 10 feet or more at the lowest places. An electrical service of 100A is a wonderful gift and will be greatly appreciated.
- guru - Sunday, 07/20/08 22:38:30 EDT

Jock-- Thanks again. Will ponder. I still fret re: the possibility that the wedge will exert enough lateral force to pop the sow block, respectful acknowledgement of brother Thomas's skepticism notwithstanding. I would dearly hate to attempt orthodonture on that old beauty. (The trip hammer, not Thomas.)
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 07/20/08 23:42:22 EDT

Wedge tightness: Sow blocks and anvils DO get broken from overtightened wedges. It is a common failure on Little Giants. The suggestion to clean, reassemble and keep scale out with heavy grease is a good preventative I think.

Many smiths have been shocked to find wedges that were installed reasonably tight to be almost impossible to remove. On big industrial hammers they use a huge swinging bar of steel (a battering ram) to remove wedges and at one time Chambersburg made a big mobile impact hammer machine to do the job. . .

- guru - Monday, 07/21/08 11:00:51 EDT

Not to mention that with wedges with very small tapers it can be hard sometimes to determine which way it *out*!

A friend who I shall not name once spent considerable time trying to remove such a wedge until I stopped by and noticed that it should go the *other* way...He's younger than I and so can hope that someday my memory will fail and I will forget that episode.

Thomas P - Monday, 07/21/08 13:03:50 EDT

Thomas. . I've seen the same. Large end mushroomed from trying to take it OUT. . . We have had to weld attachments to wedges so they could be pulled with a slide hammer.
- guru - Monday, 07/21/08 13:46:15 EDT

The war against SPAM: In the past months our email SPAM load had gotten overwhelming. While a great deal of mine was coming from the multiple addresses I must maintain, the vast majority was coming from contact forms on this and a dozen plus other sites I maintain. Our clients were also being bombarded on their contact forms.

Spammers in various low wage countries have boiler rooms of people with lists of sites with contact forms that hammer away at the forms every day. While fixing our forms I shut down all but one. From it I received over 30 spams in 5 hours. Not all from one source but from several doing the same thing. Yes, that would be 150+/day from ONE form on one minor site. ALL targeted to a person (webmaster) that knows better than to click on much less reply to anything that comes in as SPAM. Multiply that 150 by 12 and add the normal load of spam and you see what I have been dealing with.

To stop the form spam we found code and instituted new filters that dumped the mail rather rudely with a form spam error screen. We now filter all HTML, code and links as well as a series of spam keywords (via g ra etc).

Within a week the Russian spammers had hammered away at our forms and found that they could take the http out of links and get their spam through. . . so we increased the filter level. It is a constant battle.

Much of the SPAM I now get is in Russian which is totally unintelligible to me. Much of this is illegal activities (child pron, phishing, drugs).

Not only are spammers using boiler rooms many use robotic systems (a computer program) to fill in forms. So on some sites we are instituting a type of Turing test asking "Are you Human?" and robot traps. More layers of security to take care of a problem that the government should be handling since almost all spam involves some sort of criminal activity.

Please remember that a large amount of spam is sent from virus infected computers and e-mail addresses are compromised by the same viruses. Having an up to date anti-virus system helps everyone.
- guru - Monday, 07/21/08 15:45:28 EDT

Die Keys,

Massey have woked on 1/8" per foot (1:96), 8 degree angle since time began, works good, always has!

The Chinese hammers are 1:100, 7 degree

Put the taper on the tool and the key, parallel on the tup / anvil.

It is very easy to get exact taper by 'kicking' the key up in the machine vice and running a clock along it (work the taper out as tho per inch of key length),

I always machine the key parallel to its thick end size, clock the taper in, then run a cut over it 0.020" at a time untill the cut just touches the thick end of the key, voila! perfect taper :)

the beches / cecos / Hutas / lascos / beches etc ive worked on have all been pretty close to the 1:96 taper.
- John N - Monday, 07/21/08 18:12:45 EDT

Clock the key? : Translation please?
- John Christiansen - Monday, 07/21/08 18:58:02 EDT

sorry, In the UK a dial indicator mounted on a magnetic stand (base) is ofter refered to as a "clock"
- John N - Monday, 07/21/08 19:04:20 EDT

as here...... (im glad its not just me that calls it a clock!!! :)
- John N - Monday, 07/21/08 19:09:48 EDT

John N,

Degrees must be different over there too. At least my calculator gives 0.60 degrees for a 1:96 taper and 0.57 for 1:100. Maybe it has something to do with fahrenheit and celsius? (BOG)
Mike BR - Monday, 07/21/08 20:29:59 EDT

Dovetails: Ah. . I think he is talking about the dovetail angle. You have TWO dimensions, the wedge taper and the dovetail angle.

The point is that tapers are measured in distance per span. Inches per foot, mm/decameter or cm/meter.

Dial indicators and sine blocks are used to measure angles and tapers. For measuring dovetails I use precision pins and micrometers or dial calipers. Measure at the bottom, then insert a precision flat of a known thickness and measure over the pins again. Then do the calculations.

I never heard of a dial indicator called a clock before but I understood what he was talking about. . A tool very few smiths have but machinists may have several. I have a number of them and various attachments and bases. Most measure down to .001" but one is good to .0001". I even have an antique one made by Starrett that is all levers and no "clock". It is very difficult to work in a machine (engineering) shop without one or more. I even had one in my service station (auto garage) days that measured tires in 64's of an inch. A big gross measurement clock.
- guru - Monday, 07/21/08 21:24:02 EDT

Civilization vs. Spam: My thanks to the Master Guru for the time and trouble he takes on this site. There are some sites that I can no longer look at when at work due to the insidious invasion of "sell-you-my-seester" spam, and thus we are deprived of another resource when recommending blacksmithing sites or researching same.

I know digging through my own e-mail at home is a chore, and, despite some dynamite official government filters at work, occasional Afro-spam still gets through. (I have a HUGE bequest waiting for me from the Masons, for instance! ;-)

Usually, systems grow more efficient with time; it seems to me that the only thing growing more efficient are the spammers. Next thing you know the Huns and the Vandals will be knocking at our electronic doors and taking over the cyber-city Oops, too late!

"I warned people about the 21st century, but nobody would listen to me!" (UAVTBoW)

Go viking! (...a better class of barbarian!)
Bruce Blackistone - Monday, 07/21/08 21:37:33 EDT

clock,: Yes, I figured that was what you meant, but I never heard that before. Have a fair collection of clocks myself, including a "last word" that measures in tenths.
John Christiansen - Monday, 07/21/08 22:48:34 EDT

Indicators/Clocks: My indicator isn't called a clock. It is called "Close Enough" and is a Last Word.
I plucked the hand off the dial. I get everything dialed in dead nuts now within seconds.

I have a mint 23 jewel Hamilton Rail Road Indicator that runs within a few second in all six positions for months at a time. Just give it a wind every two days.

The Seth Thomas Regulator Indicator keeps perfect time as well as long as it is perfectly level while hanging on the wall and not in the path of a lay line on the 80th parallel. Only wind it on every 9th day.
- Rustystuff - Tuesday, 07/22/08 00:12:36 EDT

John David Dempsey 1925 - 2008:
Passed away last night after a short battle with numerous cancers. Husband of Clara Lea, father of Jock, Paul, Shawn (dec.), Daniel, Moria, Steven, Ross and Jenifer. Grandfather to Skylar, Jacob, Noah, Helen, Andrew, Molly, Patrick, Jaclyn, Kimberly and Katherine. Grandfather to Ava Lilly and others.

John David served in the Navy in WWII and survived the sinking of every ship he was assigned. After the Navy he married Clara Lea Benedict and graduated from Eastern Kentucky College (now university). He worked for nearly every machine tool firm in Cincinnati, OH before going to work for Babcock and Wilcox Nuclear division and moved to Lynchburg, VA. There he amassed numerous patents in the nuclear field second only to Fermi. These included the one piece fuel grid, differential control rod drive and the balanced moment seal which is used in almost every nuclear plant in the free world. He was instrumental in the safe shut down of the infamous Three Mile Island Nuclear plant.

On retirement from B&W in 1978 John launched a new business, Mechanical Equipment Company of Lynchburg VA, building flow meters and servicing nuclear reactor pumps in the field. There, his son Jock a blacksmith and mechanic went to work designing machinery. Later his son Daniel and Jock's brother-in-law Paul Hayden joined the firm. During that time John invented a stepless wrench and an infinitely variable speed transmission. The pumps repaired by M.E.C. have not needed similar repairs in over a two decades.

My father John D. was the only person I knew that was more stubborn than myself and was one of the most mechanically astute engineers of our time. He loved telling fishing stories and frog jokes. He taught me much of what I know. The world will be a much poorer place without him.

- guru - Tuesday, 07/22/08 09:29:37 EDT

Jock: My condolences. Your father sounds like quite an interesting man. I know you will miss him.
- Bernard Tappel - Tuesday, 07/22/08 09:54:02 EDT

My condolences Jock.
JimG - Tuesday, 07/22/08 09:57:35 EDT

John David Dempsey: "A long life, well lived, makes the best funeral feast"

It sounds like he lived his life well, and leaves a proud family.

My deepest sympathy, Jock.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 07/22/08 10:16:04 EDT

- John Christiansen - Tuesday, 07/22/08 10:27:45 EDT

Jock: Sorry, Your father clearly made the world a better place.
John Christiansen - Tuesday, 07/22/08 10:29:39 EDT

Jock-- Joan and I are sorry for your loss.
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 07/22/08 11:24:49 EDT

Sorry to hear it, Jock.
Alan-L - Tuesday, 07/22/08 12:01:59 EDT

Jock; please be extra careful with yourself over the next several months; such a large loss impacts people more than they can believe and the load of grief can distract us and make us prone for accidents.

When we lose our parents; we lose our roots and it takes time to recover from that.

My condolences for the loss of a great man; the world is a poorer place with him gone.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/22/08 12:03:28 EDT

My condolences, Jock.
Mike BR - Tuesday, 07/22/08 17:43:38 EDT

My condolences, Jock. when I lost my Dad, who was also my best friend, and who always had a good answer for any question i was lost. I started to ask myself if I asked my question what his answer would have been. I have found the solution to many problems this way, and I like to think he has a hand in it.
ptree - Tuesday, 07/22/08 18:20:00 EDT

Sorry to hear Jock.
Ptree has it right.
Your dad will still answer your questions the rest of your life.
- Tom H - Tuesday, 07/22/08 19:10:39 EDT

Your loss: Holding strong and comforting thoughts for you at this time, Jock.
- Frank Turley - Tuesday, 07/22/08 19:22:15 EDT

Sorry for your loss Jock. He sounds like he was quite a man.
Brian C - Tuesday, 07/22/08 19:54:09 EDT

Jock, I'm sorry to hear of your loss. It sounds like he lived a full and usefull life and you have every reason to be proud of him. I'm sure he's earned his rest. Steve G
- SGensh - Tuesday, 07/22/08 20:21:30 EDT

Jock - Condolences to you and your extended family.

Don Shears
Don - Tuesday, 07/22/08 20:51:54 EDT

Jock, sorry to hear of Your Dad's passing.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 07/22/08 22:45:30 EDT

My very deepest condolences to you and your family.
- merl - Wednesday, 07/23/08 00:16:24 EDT

Jock: My sincerest condolences on your father's passing. No man is truly gone who is remembered well by those who knew him.

vicopper - Wednesday, 07/23/08 01:11:57 EDT

John Dempsey more. . :
Thank you all. Some more about my father . .

A family member reminded me that he designed the first Piggly Wiggly grocery store logo with the Pig in the grocers hat. The company still uses that logo. Dad graduated from college with an art and history degree. Engineering was self taught as he took jobs doing drafting in engineering firms rather than commercial art.

One of Dad's early engineering jobs was designing the machines that stuffed prizes in cereal boxes. If you ever pulled a toy out of a box of cereal in the 50's and 60's you were probably touching some of Dad's work. A long humorous story is related to this machine that I will tell another time. . .

Dad was involved in X-15 engine bearing research and helped design an engine test stand for the same. He also designed an engine block catching fixture for one of the big three that he called the "ball'em, roll'em keep'em form hoppin'" It kept engine blocks from bouncing back into the broach that created most of the machined surfaces. He also did design work on one of the biggest upgrades of the Lodge and Shiply lathes in the mid 1950's and also did work for Cincinnati Bickford.

Dad was building robots back in the 1950's before anyone else. It was research for the NRC. His team built industrial robots that WORKED before there was the micro chip or PLC's. Their demonstration robot could disassemble a pipe flange with multiple nuts and bolts, replace a gasket and reassemble it. It was both remote control (training mode) and fully automatic. Built on an electric forklift chassis it had full freedom of movement. When the contract ran out B&W dumped the project to go onto other things. They were 20 years ahead of the entire world in robotics and they dropped the ball. . .

Dad also worked on refueling parts for the NS (Nuclear Ship) Savannah. Most of you probably never heard of it. It was supposed to be a non-military nuclear ship for commercial use. It was a great experiment and toured the world, the first and last of its kind.

His patent on the differential fuel rod control was a safety design that would "scram" (shut down) a nuclear reactor automatically no matter what the position (upside down or sideways). This was for use in nuclear powered aircraft and ships. If power was lost a flywheel pushed the rods into the shutdown position. The design belonged to the government and is probably in use in places we will never know.

Dad taught me how to use various tools so I could build soapbox racers. When I was 13 I knew how to use an electric hand drill, drill press, metal lathe, sabre saw, hand and electric planes, ShopSmith (in all its modes), mix epoxy and polyester resins, apply lacquer paint and finish it to a perfect mirror finish by hand. My cars were the most beautiful and I was proud of the fact that I actually built them when my competition was adults building them for their sons, not with them.

Dad loved to fish, especially for striped bass and spent all his free time on his boat on Buggs Island Lake OR working on his boat. . . His CB handle, "Snagbagger" was known far and wide. His boat became an experimental platform for a multifunction (joystick type) control and for the "Wing Ding" fishing plane.

Sadly Dad's last personal project, an ultralight aircraft was never completed. His Hummel Ultra Cruiser was probably 90% complete before his health slowed him down too much to work on it.

I often asked Dad about things mechanical when I was stumped. Ptree, Thank you, I will try to remember that and listen for the answers in his voice.

While this is hard it was not unexpected. Dad had been aging rapidly for several years. He perked up a bit this January when we built one last tool for the nuclear industry. But since then his health had been rapidly falling off. He will be missed.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/23/08 12:31:41 EDT

Jock: Thanks for posting more info about your wonderful father.
John Christiansen - Wednesday, 07/23/08 12:53:16 EDT

Missing Dads,: Just a heads up Jock, waves of grief will come at the silliest most unexpected times when something will trigger a memory. My Dad has been gone since 1996 and I think of him daily. And listening to his voice still gets me out of jams.
JimG - Wednesday, 07/23/08 13:11:26 EDT

Grief, emotions : Jim, I was never much of a crier, and even though it was a huge loss I never showed it after the accidental death of my brother-in-law Roger Hayden at age 22(?). Besides being related by marriage we were also best friends.

After I had children that all changed. I get weepy any time there is something sad involving children in the news or a film. I finally had a good cry over Roger 35 years later in Costa Rica while commenting on how dangerous a path near a waterfall was and that he had died from such an accident (broke his neck under water after the fall). There I was standing in the middle of the road crying like a baby. The VERY strange thing about this incident was that my friend Ingrid whom I was with had been at the falls when Roger fell and they had pulled him from the water an given him CPR until the rescue squad arrived. This has happened years before I met Ingrid. . . So there we were both crying the middle of the road, 35 years later and half a world away.

I know it will happen as I think of them. . AND our lost friend Paw-Paw. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 07/23/08 13:49:43 EDT

The Moon Men Riot - A true story:
Some of you between the ages of 50 and 60 may remember the Moon-Men toys that came in packages of Nabisco Shredded Wheat cereal. These were a little springy plastic toy in the shape of a cute little space alien with ovoid helmet that clipped onto your spoon. These were part of a big Nabisco advertising campaign showing kids happily eating cereal with their Moon-Men clipped to the shank of their spoons.

Now, the problem was that we were a big family (I am one of eight children) and a single prize in a box of cereal was cause for a brawl over who would get it. So my mother carefully emptied each box and put away the toys until there was enough for everyone. We all dutifully ate our shredded wheat!

Now came the day to open the last box and get the last toy from the box. . . As the box was opened we all anctiously waited. . . NO, Moon-Man! A riot ensued!

Now, my mother, who is the sweetest lady you will ever meet and who has never been a complainer or activist was MAD. So she got out the type writer and wrote a long nasty letter to Nabisco and mailed it off.

Time passes.

Then one day a large manila envelope arrives from the Cincinnati, OH engineering company that Dad had worked for years ago. Inside was a letter from their legal department also signed by Dad's old boss asking him to take care of this matter. There was also a letter from Nabisco AND copies of my Mother's letter! It was a machine Dad had designed for the Nabisco packaging line that occasionally hung up . . . and led to the now famous Moon-Man riot!

- guru - Wednesday, 07/23/08 13:50:29 EDT

Moon Men!: Yes, but did they include a Moon Man?
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 07/23/08 14:12:02 EDT

Jock, I understand the emotions at odd times. Since I have had kids I am in the same boat. When writing of my Dad, I chocked up and he passed in 1986. And believe me, he does still help me with issues.
- ptree - Wednesday, 07/23/08 16:09:04 EDT

Sorry for your loss Jock.
- John N - Wednesday, 07/23/08 16:51:18 EDT

I've heard a rumor that you may be bringing more of that famous lube to Quad States. Please bring a gallon for me... Dave Hammer.
- Dave Hammer - Thursday, 07/24/08 06:06:39 EDT

Try again... Ptree, please bring a gallon of the lube to Quad States for me. Thanks... Dave Hammer
- Dave Hammer - Thursday, 07/24/08 14:56:16 EDT

Dave Hammer, will do
ptree - Thursday, 07/24/08 18:15:45 EDT

My condolences on your loss Jock.
- Ben - Friday, 07/25/08 16:45:25 EDT

Swage blocks: At last I seem to have found a reliable caster here. Does anybody have a pattern for a good, general purpose swage block that they would be willing to share?
- philip in china - Saturday, 07/26/08 10:39:52 EDT

Whisper baby: Good deal for $250 or not?
John Christiansen - Sunday, 07/27/08 17:29:32 EDT

Whisper Baby: The folks I know who have used them refer to them as "Whimper Baby", if that tells you anything. I'd either spend much less for one of Ken Scharabok's freon can forges or a bit more and get a Forgemaster, if I was going to buy a forge. Since I make my own, the issue is moot for me,
vicopper - Monday, 07/28/08 02:43:22 EDT

Whisper Baby Gas Forge: I use mine as a backup forge for small/simple/quick stuff when I don't need or want to fire up the primary coal forge. As such, it's fast and clean and not very much trouble and HIGHLY economical; but as it's configured it will not reach welding heat.

As a primary forge, however, I think it would mostly be of use if you worked in small scale or jewelry scale blacksmithing. I really enjoy using mine, (known as the "Baby Balrog") but it really does have its limitations.

Cool and wet from last nights thunderstorms on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks:

Go viking:
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 07/28/08 08:24:12 EDT

ABANA will sell you the plans to make a terrific recuperative gas forge for a pittance, or, as Vicopper suggests, you can readily make your own, and in my experience it will cost vastly less than $250. You simply need firebrick for a forge-sized box (needn't be large), the steel shelf on which to set them, a couple of Venturis (see your local HVAC shop scrap pile after asking permission), two jets (see local propane dealer) and the makings of the manifold, various shut-offs and pressure gauges, LP hose. A mere batatelle.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 07/28/08 11:12:59 EDT

Imper Baby:
Well, it IS titled a "Baby" forge. While I have forged a lot of 1/2" and 5/8" in one it is slow to heat that size stock.

Its advantages are that it uses a minuscule amount of fuel AND it has the nifty piezoelectric igniter that home builts and many others do not. It is one of the few forges that will run all day without freezing up a small exchange size propane bottle.

If the forge is NEW the 1/3rd off price is good. If used then it is probably overpriced.
- guru - Monday, 07/28/08 12:43:13 EDT

Whisper Baby: I also own a whisper Baby. I adapted it to fit a compressed air/propane mix torch instead of the bent ventury pipe.
And it runs after very short time so hot that the cast iron backdoor frame begins tu blubber.

My experiances from Switzerland Daniel Vogel
Feuerdesigner - Monday, 07/28/08 13:36:51 EDT

Whisper baby: Thanks for the replys, gentlemen. I have a big gas pig already, hence my interest. I was mostly curious as to whether it was a good price or not. My present forge consumes almost a gallon of propane just to get up to temp. I guess I will look into building a modern one. Anyone hear how Frosty's variable volume design is working out?
John Christiansen - Monday, 07/28/08 13:55:02 EDT

Whisper Baby Fuel Usage: I get about 20+ hours out of each tank!
Go viking:
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 07/29/08 10:01:02 EDT

anvil: anyone within like a 100 miles of waco texas got an steel anvil theyll sell or know here i can get one
- jacob - Tuesday, 07/29/08 10:26:37 EDT

Whisper Baby: I carry a Whisper Baby with me to horse shows in case 1 of our horses or a fellow competitor loses a shoe.As a result I end up replacing a number of "bar shoes" which I've welded with ease in the Whisper Baby. It's cheap to buy,cheap to run, and easy to weld in. How can you beat it for small items? Cheers!
Barry Denton - Wednesday, 07/30/08 00:00:52 EDT

Whisper Baby:
They are probably the MOST portable of small forges second only to a well made micro-forge. The burner makes a great handle to carry it one handed.

They are also a great student forge when you need more than one forge OR don't want to waste gas. The simplicity of operation is picked up by a ten year old. . .

While I too like to build my own I will admit that most home builts do not reach the level of convenience.

The problem I find with almost all small commercial forges is the need to "accesorize". Adding adjustable stock racks are generally the rule rather than the exception. Doors need to be counter balanced to stay open or partially open when needed. Forges with ports need port closing bricks (if for nothing else to keep out birds and mice when not in use).

Such additions would cost the manufacturers VERY little and add little to the total cost. YES, we are blacksmiths and can do these things ourselves. . . But it is MUCH better when things are 100% usable right out of the box.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/30/08 09:59:09 EDT

Counter    Copyright © 2008 Jock Dempsey, Cummulative_Arc GSC




On-line Metals Sales