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September 2008 Archive

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

Treated Lumber: The current replacements for CCA wood are mostly boric acid based with some other odd stuff mixed in but it's supposedly not as toxic. Please note that if you read the fine print in some treated wood warranties they only cover lumber in contact with or below grade. Frequent rain washings leach out the "good" stuff eventually. By eventually I mean over the life of a well built building, not the poor nail pounder putting it up.

The newer treated lumber requires above average fasteners- double dipped hot galvi., ceramic coatings, or stainless nails and screws.

For my money I'd find a local sawmill cutting white oak, any type of cedar, or best yet black locust.
- Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 08/31/08 19:23:32 EDT

Yep, Even the 1980's stuff I put up required hot dipped galvanized nails. Regular nails just dissolve in the stuff in a short time. . I used about 100 pounds of them, all put in manually. No nail guns. . .

My siding is aging (showing color). But it is 4/4 rough cut so at the laps it is a full 2" thick. All this over 6" framing (also salt treated). A lifetime+ building. . . sadly it will be someone else's.

IF I build another "dream" building it will have sufficient overhangs to keep the siding or walls (what ever it may be) dry. Since the roof and foundation are the majority cost items in a building this significantly raises the interior cost per square. But everything is drier and cooler. Thus lasting longer and costing less in energy and maintenance.

With rapidly rising energy costs the need for efficient buildings will be MUCH more critical. The shame is that regulatory powers have been asleep since the eye opener in the 1970's. Instead of building more and more efficient buildings over the last 3.5 decades we have let low low efficiency modular homes proliferate by the millions and stick built construction has changed little as well.
- guru - Sunday, 08/31/08 19:40:31 EDT

salt treatment: Ohh, those kinds of "salts".
I thought you ment sodium or calcium chloride.
If apperance is not an issue I usualy paint over the exposed surfaces and whare water might collect with "Black Jack" It's a multi purpose tar you buy at the biulding center and hardware stores to patch the drive way with or patch around the roof ect...
It soaks in after a while and is not so noticable but as I said I don't use it for looks.
I also don't use anything other than salt (sodium chloride) for killng weeds too. I can tolorate some salt leaching into the well water but Monsanto is like the "Great Satan" to me. Any thing they claim to be safe I stay far away from. (please don't anyone preach to me about how chemicals have improved our lives either)
Unless you have a drastic spill, a little tar on the ground is easy to clean up.
I'm looking at recycling a building from a neibor down the road. It's an old farm building that was probably buit as a grainery. As they are trying to sell the property due to divorce I may be able to get it for free and pay a construction company (also a neibor) to move it to my place. I have a bare cement slab that used to have a large grain dryer on it that I think it will fit on. Otherwise it is currently of the type of building that sits on peirs that are about 18-20" off the ground.
Not a very efficient biulding but, a sturdy little structure like what I used to see alot of when I was a kid. Probably one of the worst reasons to get a building like this, for nostalgia but, what the heck, I want to be a blacksmith too...
- merl - Sunday, 08/31/08 22:07:21 EDT

Timber treatment: I am not advocating this but.......... one excellent preservative for timber is dirty sump oil. I used to have a back fence in England. I would coat it every year with a mixture of equal parts of sump oil and creosote. You remember oil and water don't mix- so the woodnever got wet. On the top part of the fence I even stopped using any creosote and put on plain black oil. This had the wonderful effect of stopping children trying to climb over as it never quite dried so if they tried they would get covered with black. I think Mother then saw to it that they never did it again!

It is probably illegal but boy didit work!
- philip in china - Monday, 09/01/08 08:45:55 EDT

Peter Herst : Please give me a call. I lost your number. Thankyou
John Christiansen - Monday, 09/01/08 09:12:49 EDT

Leaving, on a jet plane: Well, I'm almost packed-up and ready to head to the airport to go to the Atlantic Coast Blacksmith's Conference in Ashokan, NY. Should be a good one, too. Not taking the laptop this trip, so I'll be incommunicado for a week or so. Y'all have fun while I'm gone and I'll catch up when I get back.
vicopper - Monday, 09/01/08 11:09:35 EDT

A nice accomplishment: This may not be a very "Big deal" to most of you here. But last night ai learned how to make rings out of Brass without breaking them. The First ones I tried I tried cold. Those promptly broke! The second ones i tried I heated to red hot and let air cool. Those bent a little more,then broke. The third time I tried it (after checking in the FAQ section here) I found my problem,kept the heat on them longer and made two very nice Brass rings. Thanks for letting me ramble and thanks toi everyone here for sharing the knowledge that they have.
- Bennie - Monday, 09/01/08 11:14:48 EDT

I may not be telling anyone anything, but here goes: Although "sump oil" probably isn't as obscure as "squirrel cage," it isn't a common term here in the States. We'd say "motor oil" or "crankcase oil."
Mike BR - Monday, 09/01/08 15:16:19 EDT

Thanks Vicopper: Now I'll have to plant a song in your head sometime. Have a good trip.
John Christiansen - Monday, 09/01/08 16:25:47 EDT

This may be wayyyy out of date, but I recall reading somewhere that right after creosote was banned by the gummint, nurseries and greenhouses were stuck with bulk containers of the stuff that were still somehow legal to sell. Might be worth a check. I slathered used motor oil onto the RRties I used as the platform for my trip hammer, seems to hold the termites at bay. But they had been previously creosoted by the RR.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 09/01/08 18:11:50 EDT

Guru....What a great explanation that was regarding "Hammer Marks vs. Hammer Finish! Funny thing, but as a horseshoer I learned to forge horseshoes from roundstock, a practice which I am continuing over 30 years later. Of course when my forged horseshoe is complete I strive for "no" hammer marks even though it's going to be worn out in 6 weeks. However, the hammer control learned from this exercise is invaluable when it comes to exacting finish work on blacksmithing projects. I love hammer finished work, be it rough or smooth and especially when it comes from a skilled hammer hand. The thing I notice most about smiths is their hammer swing. With many novice smiths "hammer control" should be foremost on your list of things to practice. Once you obtain good control it opens up a world of possibilities for you.
- Barry Denton - Monday, 09/01/08 19:09:22 EDT

Brass Rings: Bennie, Glad to be of help. I learned about working brass hot from the late great Dona Meilach's "Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork". See our book review.
- guru - Monday, 09/01/08 19:35:26 EDT

Creosote vs. Salt Treatment:
Our local sawmill used to make ties and bridge timbers for the railroads and had a creosote plant. On the days they ran it you could smell the creosote 10 miles away if the wind was not in your favor. . .

In the 80's they shut the plant down due to the new regulations and built an expensive salt treatment plat. Even while it was on top a hill it had to have a flood basin large enough to accept all the operation's operating fluids plus several feet of flood water. . .

In the 90's they had to shut THAT plant down. . . .

The plant has reopened and I suspect they use a different process now. . . I'm sure that will change again.
- guru - Monday, 09/01/08 19:44:14 EDT

One town I lived in in England was Worksop. (Check the spelling). There there were some very old buildings and equally old beams etc. in the rooves. We could tell a fake old beam because the modern guys would put adze marks on them whereas the original beams (500 years old) were perfectly sooth. The old guys weren't asked to add faux history- just do a good job!
- philip in china - Monday, 09/01/08 19:46:56 EDT

Phillip, the story is the same in our 200 year old mill which has hand hewn timber framing. While you can see the occassional axe cut pattern the beams were hand planed smooth after hewing and any adz work. Leaving tool marks was not part of the job.
- guru - Monday, 09/01/08 20:14:59 EDT

late great dona meilach?: Are you saying that Ms.Meilach has passed away?!
That would be too bad. Her book ,as you mention ,is of great insperation to me.
- merl - Monday, 09/01/08 20:50:55 EDT

Phillip in China, on the farm when I was a kid, it was my job to paint the heavy wooden planks of the barn cleaner shute and the wood sides and floor slats of the manuer spreader with waste oil (same as your old sump oil) to preserve them. I've also heard of old timers putting a new wooden ox yoke in the manuer gutter over the winter to "season "it. It was supposed to make the wood tougher. I don't know what the exact reason for the reaction was.
- merl - Monday, 09/01/08 21:11:32 EDT

The changing styles with respect to tool marks kind of make sense to me. If you imagine a piece of, say, 1/2" square, you imagine a piece that's just that. Not one that's a little less here and a little more there. 300 years ago, if you could afford to pay someone to forge a piece that was smooth and exact, you wanted everyone to know it.

Modern steel mills, of course, spit out exact 1/2" square by the mile at not much more than the cost of raw materials. Nowadays, if you can afford to pay someone to hand forge a piece, you want everyone to know it. After all, conspicuous consumption isn't if no one can tell.
Mike BR - Monday, 09/01/08 21:39:53 EDT

Smooth broad axe finish: In 1990, I was able to spend a too-short week with the log builder, Peter Gott of North Carolina. I got to learn some of the woodwork as a trade for making the door latch and dressing his two broad axes. Peter's idea on the broad axe was to put a camber in the cutting blade length. When laid on a flat surface with the cutting bevel up, each end would rise off horizontal about 1/8". This is what I did for him.

While facing a log during the short course, one young man asked Peter whether he was "hewing to the line," meaning the chalk line. He said, "No, I'm hewing to the center of the line." During a break, we all went up to see, and sure enough, he was hewing to the center of the line. Needless to say, he left a quite smooth surface with the broad axe. In using the axe, the log was dogged to its respective horses, Peter used the broad axe in a chopping/drawing manner, but he held it obliquely on the pull stroke. It was therefore "slide-slipping" (as perhaps a canoe would drift diagonally down a current instead of directly bow-to-stern).
Frank Turley - Monday, 09/01/08 22:17:41 EDT

Mike BR: makes a good point, what the customer wants. One builder that I work for, asked for a fire screen for his own modest home(he builds mansions) and he wanted "the hammered look". I wasn't about to pein the surface of the bars, but I did break the edges with the power hammer, and pein the rivets holding the framework together.
John Christiansen - Tuesday, 09/02/08 07:28:35 EDT

Looks like's it't time for another go at this!

Much as Mike said: back when everything was hand made it was a mark of skill to hide the tool marks, everybody knew it was handmade anyway the best was done so that folks couldn't see *how* it was done.

(Unfortunately out in the Frontier of America you often got folks who were not the product of a years long old world apprenticeship and a lot of folks just making do who couldn't afford or appreciate the highest levels of work too. My great grandfather was a smith in a small town in AR and I have seen this first hand)

Then came the factory and uniformity and stamping out in dies and everything was smooth with few tool marks.

As a revolt against the uniformity, sameness and "souless" factory made items the Arts and Crafts movement was born (late 19th early 20th century). This movement gloried in the uniques and "handmade-ness" of handicraft and exalted the artisan over the factory drudge. Work was *supposed* to have tooling marks on it to show it was made by a person and not a machine (of course factory faked tooling marks started showing up about a day later...)

This was not only in metalwork, woodcarving, pottery, spinning and weaving, etc, all "suffered" from this movement---which also saved a lot of traditional rustic handicrafts BTW

And this movement has coloured our viewpoints about craftwork back long ago along with the meme that stuff had to be crude a poorly done in ancient times cause they didn't know any better back then and handmade couldn't be as well done as machine made could it?

So we get slubbly (thick and thin) yarns spun to look like "medieval yarns" that actually would have gotten a 7 year old girl beaten back then for doing such poor quality spinning and wasting the wool. Mummy wrappings done thousands of years ago still have some of the finest linen spinning and weaving *ever* done.

And we get crudely hammered ironwork; no one ever considering work done by such folk as the Negroli's whose repousee armour would rank in the higest of levels even today!

I follow Francis' advice too and as I recall Yellin also used that method to make sure that all pieces were touched by the hammer. At times I will use hammer marks as a decorative accent---like drawing out curls with a thin peened cross or straight peined hammer or dimpling the flat face of a rasptlesnake to look more like scales. But on the whole---and especially for knifemaking I try for flat and smooth. Shoot I even try to hammer out tentstakes with smooth even tapers---keeps me in practice.

So strange as it may seem, items forged 500 years ago may be forged to a higher standard than things forged 100 years ago when it was the "fashion" to do so.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 09/02/08 12:21:37 EDT

Texture: The Arts and Crafts movement quickly became a style of its own and very high quality. Nothing was poorly made. The carefully considered all over ball pien texture was popular. But the "rustic" period in the 50's was about the time that Disney made the famous Davy Crocket movies and shows. Faux rustic, the three ball pien marks on a hinge became a standard among those uneducated in blacksmithing and ironwork. Since then we have gotten more sophisticated but I have seen some pretty poor hammer marking for the sake of hammer marking textures. . .

I think popular culture such as the Hollywood view of the "cave man" or other primitive peoples has coloured people's idea of what ancient or "primitive" people could do or did. But our ancestors, going back to before the last ice age (10,000 years) were just as intelligent (maybe more so) and artistic as we are today. The biggest difference between us and them is modern technology. We have so very few examples of work from that time that it is very hard to make general statements but what DID survive is mostly very well made and quite artistic. Clothing has had style and decoration since the first skins were sewn together. If you study the ancient cave paintings of France they have a wonderful quality that captures the spirit of the animals pictured and are far from primitive artistically.

The cultural idea of what constitutes beauty has changed and will continue to do so but quality of workmanship has not. Good work has always been good work. It was the best that could be produced with whatever tools were available OR even despite the tools that were available. Bad work. . . is bad work.

- guru - Tuesday, 09/02/08 16:33:46 EDT

Well I have seen quite a bit of factory made copies of Arts and Crafts items as well as home made examples where the person was not on the level of Morris or Roycroft---there were magazines out there with "projects" for people to try at home. So I have to still say that some of it was not as good as one could want.

As for peening texture I saw a fellow one Quad-State who had embedded a number of ball bearings into a length of steel to get a paddle he could quickly use to texture steel with under his triphammer. Ingenous and his work showed care and consideration using it too!

Rustic still seems to me to often be people *trying* to do it wrong (as opposed to A&C where they are trying to get it right for the most part)

Thomas P - Tuesday, 09/02/08 18:56:54 EDT

Rustic: I would use the example of a primitive VS a Shaker chest of drawers. Both made with the same tools, both serve the function, but the shakers always used very high craftsmanship. Some primitives did as well, most showed a "Primitive" level of workmanship. May have been that they were not specialists as were the shakers.
ptree - Tuesday, 09/02/08 19:36:46 EDT

Let's not confuse "rustic","primitive",or A&C and Shaker with shoddy and poor quality.
All the certain styles that we work in are just that, a certain practiced style. They should be executed with forthought, planing and the level of precision that is required of that particular style and, I hate to say it but, what the customer is paying for.
I am making a pair of lanterns, for my mother's garden, in the A&C style. She showed me a picture in a book of what she wanted but, she wants the "hammerd look" even though it would not be correct for the piece. So I will have to run the pieces over a sand bag and a 2" radius body hammer ( or somthing like that) to give the material the texture that she wants. I think the stuff on twisted is very pleasing to the eye if not over done.
- merl - Tuesday, 09/02/08 21:31:15 EDT

Rustic vs. Royal: There is always a range of quality in historic artifacts. Some folks expect medieval items to be rude and crude, whereas some of the finest and most beautiful jewelry and metalwork seen was the creation and pride of so-called barbarians. On the other claw, we should not be mislead by what I call "the museum factor" into believing that everything was wonderful and perfect. The pretty stuff goes into the displays out front; all of the average and rough and ready work-a-day stuff is in the back with the storage and study collection. The only time this stuff goes on display is when it's the only available example or represents something unique. A person's skill level and talent (or that of the workshop) would determine if a piece went to the palace or cathedral, the castle, or the cottage.

The primary point is that, as craftsmen, we should never "ugly it up". Adding texture or reforging is one thing, smacking it around for "rusticfication" is "right out." ;-)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 09/02/08 21:31:15 EDT

Rustic, antique, fake etc.: One thing that amuses me is when some type of re-enactor wants, say, a bayonet. His re-enacting so it has to look old. If he is re-enacting shouldn't it look new?
- phiip in china - Wednesday, 09/03/08 08:31:18 EDT

Surviving examples: It has been a while since I read this article through, but the gist of it has seemed to stick with me. Something to think about.
Aunt Martha's and...
JimG - Wednesday, 09/03/08 09:28:48 EDT

Stradivarius craftsmanship: I think I posted this before, but I'll repeat. I was watching Johnny Carson's show and his guest was Pablo Casals, world renowned cellist. After Pablo's classical piece was rendered, Johnny interviewed him. Johnny asked him who made the cello. Pablo replied that it was a Stradivarius. Johnny asked the cameraman to offer a close-up of the instrument, which was done, and the camera zeroed in on the "fiddlehead." All of the original chisel marks were present on that portion of the cello; nevertheless, everything was to dimension and proportionate.

That I consider "an honest presence of the hand at work."
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/03/08 09:34:58 EDT

PinC; boy have I ever fought that one! People wanting to have items look just like the ones in the museum with centuries of wear and abuse rather than like an item they got just a few years ago in 998 and have been taking careful care of unto this day in 1008...

Vary rarely have I managed to talk them into 2 of them one looking like it should and one looking like a museum piece.

I once talked with Dominic Tweedle of the York Archeological Trust on the reconstruction of the Goldworker's house and making eveything listed on an original inventory of the house and making it look as if it was all made within the current timeperiod except for a chest that was listed as an inheritance and so was made to look about a generation older. I was impressed.

BTW in knives and things it's nice that when you do make a very accurate aged reproduction you do something like embed solder in the backside of grip pieces to list the date of manufacture---invisible to the eye but shows up on X-ray very nicely...

Personally I refuse to do work for people who demand that a highly accurate piece *not* be date marked somehow...

Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/03/08 10:50:59 EDT

Stradivarius, Reenactment:
Many Strads have had the necks replaced to accept heavier tension modern strings so that they play louder. So that fiddle head may or may not have been original.

The entire class of viol instruments are highly stressed. Wood and glue often fail, life happens. . . so many old instruments have been completely disassembled and repaired more than once. It is done with great care but parts ARE replaced, soundboards patched and other various changes.

So those chisel marks may have been the makers, or not.

Up until the time that Peter Ross started working in Williamsburg, VA the historic city was kept in a Disneyesque state of everything being new. But Peter and other logical minds noted that even when the city was NEW that there was decades of time differences between structures and not all would look new at the same time. So today you find bright shiny new next to pealing paint. The main street is kept up better than the side streets and maintenance is proportional to the estimated incomes of the original owners. Life it not perfect and neither should a living museum (be).
- guru - Wednesday, 09/03/08 11:57:58 EDT

whole word reading makes for some interesting ideas...I just misread solder as soldier...
I was working on a nice job of making some trade hatchets to a certain style, and when I mentioned that I put the date on all peices like that that I make I never heard from the guy again. Has made me wonder.
JimG - Wednesday, 09/03/08 12:32:34 EDT

Strad: The intent of my message still stands. The original chisel marks were still on the instrument, whether a replacement part or not. It was honest work and probably pre-sandpaper, and I posted it within the context of the previous posts.
- Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/03/08 14:41:46 EDT

Perhaps we should use something like "level of workmanship" and agree that just what that level was differed with time, fashion, location, etc and it's items that fall out of the "commonly accepted level of workmanship" for those times, items, places that are to be considered "off"

Sorry gotta go refill my pompousity tank...

Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/03/08 14:54:01 EDT

Just a thought about level of workmanship. here in the weest the first things were kinda rushed to get everybody under cover and the smith was banging out a few hinges before he really got his shop set up. Once the roof got on the sod house lots of candle holders were required. It was only after the place was established and a mayor elected that the smith got jobs that showed his skill i.e. the mayors gate.

There is a lot to be said about finish ( and I don't say quality as even hurried work has to stand up) as to where you are in a time frame.

- Bud Williams - Wednesday, 09/03/08 18:49:27 EDT

Fiddle/Violin: I prefer a Guarnerius Violin. I was very fortunate to look at a real 1700 Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu Violin. I was allowed to handle it. I enjoyed this fiddle being played for me. It belonged to 103 year old man who passed away. The violin was very plain with an original plain head. It played very loud with beautiful sound. No it was not a german replica or a violin made to the dimensions and therefore called a guarnrius. They are much more rare than the Stradivarius, not many were made. The bows used were 1800's replacements with original horse hair. Just a cool fiddle.

As for the mention by Guru of a head replacement. It greatly lowers the value of the Strativarius. The heads were plain not fancy like replacements. The bridge and strings are expected to have been replaced along with regluing. I am not an instument repair person like him though. A replaced head is certainly a thing to try to avoid unless you have no choice. Also if you mess with the finish you have vastly decreased the value.

Unlike where you clean up an old rusty anvil it raises the value. You mess with the finish of a violin and you destroy its value.

I hope this was of a little interest or helpful.

- Rustystuff - Wednesday, 09/03/08 22:59:22 EDT

Strad: Criminetly! The intent of my message still stands.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 09/04/08 05:55:09 EDT

Tools Marks, Strads: There has always been a level of workmanship as noted above that was standard for an industry (at any level of quality).

Tool marks are almost always evident on things somewhere unless the item is required to be highly polished. But tool marks from hand or machine work are almost always evident depending on how close you look. Even fine sandpaper leave scratches.

The interesting debate of the late 1800's was about the work of the impressionists. Everyone was shocked by the use of large brush strokes. However, if you look at the accepted work of the time much of it was HUGE. When looked at closely you can see individual brush strokes and patches of color. Those perfect graduations of light and color you see in books and reproductions is largely because they have been reduced in size from 20 or 100 to one. Even in life you cannot look at these works and see them in-total without standing back a considerable distance. But if you were to go the other way and and enlarge a section of one of these images they often would look like an impressionist painting.

Accepted styles change. Most good modern painting is either at the level of the impressionists work that the official Paris solon thought was shocking at the time OR just a tad better. On the other hand you have the photo-realists who actually work from a photo and try to hide all indications of brush strokes. . . So why not just USE a photo? The modern fine artist does not try to hide all the brush strokes in order to seperate themselves from a mechanical reproduction.

When I was in the Soap-Box Derby many years ago the standard first class car was made of pine shelving or plywood and painted with a brush. That was perfectly appropriate. But my cars were fiberglassed and lacquered. The finish had more effort in it than the rest of the car. It was puttied, rasped, filled sanded the patched and sanded again. Then it was primed and sanded and primed and sanded and primed and sanded. . often with different color primers so that at the mid steps the various spots of color looked like camoflage. When the sandable primer no longer showed ANY imperfection then the lacquer was applied and sanded in layers until the last coat (which often looked hideous). This was then hand polished using rubbing compound on a rag. I never used a power buffer. The result was a jewel like finish. That was my standard of the time. It was far in excess of what was needed. I still like to make polished shiny things when that finish is appropriate.

SO, getting back to ironwork. There are classes of work that are finely finished even to the point of polishing. But most of us doing forged work do not grind and polish it to remove all traces of hand work (the exception is bladesmiths). I personally like forged chamfers that show a slight or not so slight ripple effect, especially on low hinge chamfers. Yes, these are hammer marks that would have been called rough work over a century ago. I also prefer crisp flat chamfers on machined or filed work to fully rounded or radiused corners. At one time fine hand made machine parts all had relatively sharp very slightly rounded corners. Today the preference is for a less sharp edge. When the old timer was showing the preciseness of his work by leaving a corner the modern machinist has the machine to make things true and good workmanship is now when you REMOVE those corners. When a worker hands me a part to inspect it had better have had all the corners chamfered or debured or I'll hand it back and tell them its not finished.

No matter what the work there are different levels of quality. They run from acceptable to industry standard and better than normal to un-acceptable. Some levels vary with the current style and others are personal preferences. But in general good quality is recognized by most people. If you have to defend your work or convince people it is good then there may be something wrong with it. Most of us know when we produce good work but the untrained may need to be shown the difference.
- guru - Thursday, 09/04/08 07:41:03 EDT

Tool Marks: Many great replies! Thankyou. I still have the dilema of the customers who want "the hammered look". I had an architect and his wife who insisted on seeing my shop before placing an order. They wanted "wrought iron". After I explained the difference between true wrought iron, and mild steel, wrought to shape or size, they were still stuck on the look of wrought iron. I told them I could take this here steel and run it all through the power hammer, or I could search for old rusty steel, burnish it, wax it and it would have the "wrought iron look". They opted for the look, but I can't always get that definitive with clients. Thanks for all the great input gentlemen.
John Christiansen - Thursday, 09/04/08 08:00:57 EDT

The "look" of wrought iron:
The general public, and that includes many designers and architects that SHOULD know better see iron work one or more of three ways.

1) As a silhouette of scrolls and decorative elements without other dimension. The is often all anyone can see when iron is painted black, especially outdoors when backlighted.

2) As a surface texture produced by metal stampers and used on flat hinges and other metal products. This texture is close to a burned and forged look OR a half cleaned paint job repainted. . . .

3) As the fancy decorative cast iron popular at the turn of the 20th century that was used on railings and porch enclosures. Most people do not know the difference between this and wrought work. The texture varies from smooth to rough sand cast but it is the sculptural details that people recognize.

The surface texture (#2) can be created on purpose in the blacksmith shop and was popular with Francis Whitaker whom I though would know better. There was a great description of it in the details of the 1998 ABANA rings project. To produce this you slightly overheat the work to produce scale, forge it only to push in the scale, then reheat and forge again. After several heats the embedded scale will have left imprints from the forging and some of the scale melted back into the steel. The texture remains when mechanically cleaned to remove scale. The result is an interesting texture. If you want it all over large work then you need to look at a rolling mill and texturing dies OR a lot of minions that do nothing except produce texture. This can also be done using a power hammer on medium to large sized jobs.

Very few people see the details of ironwork like a blacksmith. Those that do may LIKE it but they will not be able to define what it is they like.
- guru - Thursday, 09/04/08 12:59:28 EDT

hammerd scale: I have to agree with you on that Guru. I somtimes produce this effect unintentionaly and it may look out of place but, if I want a more rustic or aged look then it serves well. I am in the habbit of constantly blowing off the anvil befor I lay the work on it and some people must think I'm a little obsesive. Much like constantly blowing off a milling vise or fixture befor the next part goes in. If you don't want those marks on the finished piece then don't put them there.
Someone I used to work with used to say it like this, "You call that a good finish? It looks like you put an ax up your a** and did summer-saults on top of the part!" He used it interchangably either as a compliment or as a reprimand and it was up to me to decide how it was ment.
- merl - Thursday, 09/04/08 19:11:14 EDT

Undercut's Maxims-- if the man wants a shoe box, don't build him a bird house and expect to get paid for it.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 09/04/08 20:42:20 EDT

Uncle Atli's Corralary to Undercut's Maxim: Make sure the customer actually knows what he or she wants. When folks in the Park Service have a new requirement for an office, or lab, or snowmobile shed, I tell them that we need to discuss what they have, what they want, and what they need. Their preconceived notions may not match your ability to produce (or even reality) so it's best to make sure they want a shoe box, or if they're talking about a shoe box that looks like a birdhouse, or a birdhouse that looks like a shoe box. Some folks know exactly what they want, and some folks haven't a clue about what they want. (Also, make sure if you can't meet their ideas/needs/fantasies you can either redirect them, or send them off to someone who can.)

Clear and sunny on the banks of the Potomac. Doubling the lines on the ship and battening down the farm first thing tomorrow morning for TS Hanna. Y'all be careful out there.

Visit your National Parks:

Go viking:
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 09/05/08 07:58:33 EDT

I was once talking a pot rack comission with a lady and I wasn't quite sure that we were using language the same way so I whipped out a miniature prototype very hurridly and using the worst piece of scrap I had on hand.

It was exactly what she wanted----crudely hammered and with steel that had spend most of a decade under a manure pile...sigh next time I'll sketch it out!

Thomas P - Friday, 09/05/08 12:20:44 EDT

Light Politics:
This comes from our friend Bruce Wallace
Pit Bulls Wearing Lipstick
- guru - Friday, 09/05/08 12:43:56 EDT

pitbulls....lipstick ........amazing
- blacklionforge - Friday, 09/05/08 17:07:19 EDT

Anvil for sale: Hello everyone, I inherited a Blackard power hammer but didn’t have the space to set it up, so I donated the machine to the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology but keep the anvil for upsetting. The short of the long is I have to move my shop and I do not want to move the anvil seeing as that it is not my primary anvil. I live in Wakefield, Quebec, Canada. I have pictures with dimensions that I can email to you if you are interested. I estimate that it weights’ 300 to 400 lbs. I wouls like $800 CND. Michael
- Michael - Sunday, 09/07/08 19:06:07 EDT

Forgery: I just was given a Buffalo Coal Forge model 625A don't know how old it is, but was wondering if any one has used a forge to work with colored glass. If so I would like to communicate to get some tips, dos and don'ts thank you.
- Kevin Schreier - Sunday, 09/07/08 21:39:21 EDT

Kevin-- watch out for toxic oxides. Ventilate!
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 09/07/08 23:48:18 EDT

Melting Glass:
Kevin, if you know anything about glass you are ready to go. Types of glass, annealing etc. I cannot help you there.

A coal forge gets plenty hot enough to soften and melt glass. A small number of smiths use their forge to heat and press glass shapes into their work. In fact coal/charcoal forges get hot enough to melt and burn steel as well as boil glass (over 3000 F).

The problem with forges is dirt from the ash and smoke and a difficult to control atmosphere. But the can be used for various small glass projects.
- guru - Monday, 09/08/08 08:42:58 EDT

I once tried to use my coal forge as a heat source for enamelling. First thing I learned was that a terra cotta flower pot inset into the coal pile was not rated for such temperatures it melted.

My next trial used a stainless steel creamer inset into the coke pile and that worked but the first 7 or 8 types of stained glass scraps I had podwered would spall too much on cooling as I did not have a proper tempering oven for it. Adding borax made things worse.

I finally found that an *old* (1930's?) piece of truck brake light lens would work for my enamelling.

Thomas P - Monday, 09/08/08 12:04:47 EDT

"Objects and Memory" to Air on PBS:
This program features items from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial collection, which is housed in one of the buildings under my aegis. It's a small segment, but our folks have been involved in the production starting four years ago. It sounds like something that folks here would be interested in. Information, below, is excerpted from an e-mail from our unit.

We preserve the past and speak to the future through the things we treasure and the memories they evoke. Using stories of items recovered or offered after 9/11 and other tragedies, OBJECTS AND MEMORY explores the human impulse to create community and reestablish connection in times of upheaval.

With music by Philip Glass and narration by Frank Langella, the film intersperses evocative images of meaningful objects, with dramatic accounts of people whose lives were affected, and interviews with historians. In presenting powerful physical symbols - those that speak, those that reach out, and those that heal - and their stories, in the unusually dramatic setting of their retrieval, OBJECTS AND MEMORY explores the things we most value. Without the objects, the stories would lack vibrancy; without the stories the objects would lack significance. Taken together, the images of the objects, the stories they evoke, and the stories of their collection lead the viewer on a journey where the commonplace is transformed into the remarkable and where the stuff of history is highly personalized.

OBJECTS AND MEMORY is PBS's special in commemoration of the seventh anniversary of 9/11 and will be broadcast nationally in prime time. Check local listings for dates and times in your area.

Further information at: and

"Objects and Memory" airs Thursday, Sept. 11, at 8 p.m. on PBS 26 in Washington DC., but may air earlier this week (starting Monday) in other locations. (In some cities it may not be broadcast until October or November.)
Bruce Blackistone - Monday, 09/08/08 13:52:53 EDT

Hardening Jock's favourite material: I have now finished the cover for the second anvil. I made the second pin to hold a padlock out of rebar. I forged one end a little bit flatter and am pretty sure that I had just let it air cool. Then I tried to drill it!!! It burnt out 2 HSS drills so eventually I hit it with a TC. That got through but wow what had I done? I realise I could have softened it up again but having got a padlock fastening as hard as that it really seemed a shame to denature it. Strange stuff to work with. I can see why you love it so much.

BTW folding out the web of the big channel was simpler than I could possibly have hoped. Thanks for all the advice to those who helped. I used a bit from everybody.
- philip in china - Tuesday, 09/09/08 04:27:47 EDT

The oldest stuff was wrought iron, often square twisted.

Later it was made from any scrap that mills could roll, billet ends with pipe (hollow from shrinkage), scrap RR-rail. . you name it.

Now the chemistry is better controlled but only to meet certain minimums for the specified type of bar. But it can still be mystery metal. Except for its design purpose it is a use at your own risk material. In China there is no telling what domestic re-bar is made of. However they are one of the world's largest suppliers of the stuff.

I've had 1/2" (13mm) rebar that you could not bend with a 10 foot long lever. . . That was made in USA and it was MEAN stuff.
- guru - Tuesday, 09/09/08 05:45:24 EDT

ABANA Election Deadline :
The ABANA Election Deadline has been extended to September 25th.

Like any election, don't complain if you don't register and don't vote.
- guru - Tuesday, 09/09/08 05:47:12 EDT

Rebar: There is a piece of square twisted rebar acting as a tieback for a retaining wall at the house my grandfather built in the 1930s. He didn't put any steel in the concrete walls in the basement and used tailings from the local marble quarry as aggregate. Basement floor is panels, now heaving in all sorts of different directions. A challenge to keep together. So the square stuff should be wrought iron?

In Woodland, CA, I found some hexagonal steel in the concrete acting as rebar. I always thought it was tool steel that they just used. I made a dinner triangle out of a piece, it sounds OK
- David Hughes - Tuesday, 09/09/08 13:06:38 EDT

Rebar: David, The twisted stuff I've seen was wrought but that doesn't mean they didn't make steel that way as well. Pretty archane industrial info.

Hex used to be more common as mild steel and free machining steel for feeding screw machines both manual and automatic. Today most bolts are made by heading and few companies make turned bolts. But it is still done. Just not as common as back when a machine company made all their own bolts with pretty high rounded heads. .
- guru - Tuesday, 09/09/08 16:13:46 EDT

I've seen sq rebar of mild steel that was pretty old---old enough that it had been torn apart and dumped as rubble along the riverbank with good sized trees growing through it in Columbus OH.

So test it! Saw most of the way through and then break it. If it has a fiberous "green stick" break it is wrought iron and if it doesn't it's steel---most likely mild.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 09/09/08 19:24:37 EDT

Blower: Hello,
I am new to the site, Iblacksmithed about 13 yrs. ago and I am getting back into it, I am looking for a blower for a small to medium size forge I am building,don't need anything fancy just one that will work and for a reasonable price.
Kenn Anthony
Kenn Anthony - Tuesday, 09/09/08 19:31:11 EDT

Blowers: Kenn, Kayne and Son (now Blacksmiths Depot) carries several sizes of imported blowers designed for forges. They are reasonably priced. Centaur also carries blowers that work but they are not quite the same.

- guru - Tuesday, 09/09/08 20:49:41 EDT

Hex bar: The guru is right, in years back screw machine ate the majority of hex bar and it was for wrench flats on turned parts and bolt heads.

We made many millions of parts on screw machines at the valve shop every year. Many needed hex flats for a wrench fit. We also made"double square" now called octagon, and also made two flat wrench fits, and four flats for hand wheels to fit. Most all of these on screw machines form some mild but most from stainless.
Did we buy hex etc? NO. We invented an attachment for the screw machines that cut the flats into hot rolled bar. The hot rolled was about 10 to 15% cheaper than cold finished hex bar. Did I mention that the flat cutting attachment worked on the bar as it rotated at full speed ina screw machine, and held wrench fit tolerance? Neat bit of arcane technology.
ptree - Tuesday, 09/09/08 20:52:54 EDT

VICE...: Recently bought a very small forged bench vice not about same size as my hand. Basically it looks like a leg vice, only without the leg. On the side it has a stamp... It's a rectangle, with what appears... could be PISCH, RISCH, FISCH, or possibly P.SCH, R.SCH, F.SCH inside the small rectangle. I have searched all over the web can't find a dang thing about it. If any of y'all could give me any information, or point me in the right direction sure would be appreciated. Thanks...
Pablo - Tuesday, 09/09/08 21:13:44 EDT

Small Vise:
Pablo, These small vices were made for jewelers, watchmakers and other bench workers for many years. There were also hand or lapidary vices that did not attach to a bench. Hand vices are still made in a similar but not so elegant style. While large numbers of them were made they are fairly rare and bring a good price.

Sizes of these small vices ran from miniature with about 1" (25 mm) jaws up to wagon vices which weighed about 15 to 20 pounds and had special brackets to attach to the frame or lounge of a wagon.

Unlike larger vices which required a large shop and specialists to make these little vices were often made in small shops or as cottage industry. Some have the actual makers name, many have the reseller's name. While most leg vices and bench vices of this type found in North America came from England the little ones may have come from anywhere in Europe.

I have one book on the subject of watch and clock makers tools. It is about the catalog of John Wyke of Liverpool, England. It has reproduction plates of a very rare copy of a catalog printed in the late 1700's. A rare stamped tool has J WYKE with PRESCOT under it in a recessed rectangle. Prescot was the town where he worked.

The problem reading any of these markings if they are partially obliterated or faint is that the eye tries to put together the expected and while some or what you see may be correct much of it can be in error.

If it is a Wyke it would be a real treasure as he was one of the few well known makers. But it could be any one of dozens of unknowns as well. Identifying this type of thing is largely a tool collectors area of expertise.

- guru - Wednesday, 09/10/08 08:05:26 EDT


Location makes a difference when you are looking for blacksmithing tools; Unless you are willing to pay several times the cost of the tool in shipping.

Of course if you could list your general location someone local to you might have one or could suggest a place to find one.

If you are in the midwest USA I would suggest Quad-State as the best place to find a blower for a forge. Especially a hand crank blower for a solid fuel forge.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/10/08 12:29:19 EDT

Gasifier/retort: OK, I know eficiency is generaly not served by multipurpose devices, but... How about a charcoal retort, doubling as a gas producer to run a gas forge? I decide I need the forge running, so I light the retort, and go about my business. when it starts outgasing, I fire up my gas forge. When I am done, I shut down the retort. Practical or not?
John Christiansen - Wednesday, 09/10/08 20:52:47 EDT

retort: You could do it that way, but most folks use the wood gas to help fire the retort. There's a kid over on Don Fogg's forum who made a gasifier forge and ran it on chicken poop. It worked, but he has since moved on to waste veggie oil in an oil-fired forge.
Alan-L - Thursday, 09/11/08 08:32:42 EDT

Charcoal Retort:
The problem with this plan is that a charcoal retort is not a gas producer. The rough fuel put into it generates a ton of steam, then a steam and turpentine mix (if coaling pine), then evaporated tars, before it makes gas. . .

When you stuff a hose spewing out this mess into a wood burning fire box it acts like blown air then poor added fuel and finally good fuel. The wood fire dies really care but trying to run a forge off it would be a three ring circus. . .

Wood gas works but making it is different than just making charcoal.
- guru - Thursday, 09/11/08 09:09:25 EDT

Retort: Thank you for your replies.
John Christiansen - Thursday, 09/11/08 12:21:27 EDT

Thomas--I would love to cut and test the square rebar, but it is holding up the top of a concrete retaining wall. Although it wouldn't fall at once, it would start falling, at a velocity probably greater than continental drift and as unstoppable.

My grandfather built this house in the middle of the Great Depression, in a (placer) mining hole (=cheap land). Lots of salvaged stuff in the framing. Square cut nails in some of the timbers, and around here, that was usually before the 1880s. No insulation, 2x3 studs on 24
- David Hughes - Thursday, 09/11/08 12:33:07 EDT

. . . continued . . .: . . . 24" centers, no steel in the concrete, concrete mixed and poured in batches using marble quarry tailings as aggregate. Funky but still standing. Neighbors are a batch of jerks (State Park system of California). They want us to give them the development rights on the property. Say what???
- David Hughes - Thursday, 09/11/08 12:38:00 EDT

Forge fuel: I guess I am just used to my gasser, but maybe I should pull out my kitchen sink forge and have a big old fire with all that free charcoal instead of building some morphadite configuration. I thought I could kill two birds with one stone, burn the gas, then use the charcoal.
John Christiansen - Friday, 09/12/08 15:59:22 EDT

Weather Watchers:
Those of you looking for up to the minute weather in distant places should try Google Earth. Its weather feature shows cloud cover for the entire planet and radar cloud density for the U.S. as well as temperatures and ground conditions. Everything is updated at about 20 minute intervals.

"The Weather Channel" is often loaded with "edutainment" stories and the overriding disaster so you cannot get your local conditions or see what is going to impact you in a few days. Just being able to see the global cloud cover tells me more than the sensationalists. . . Our local TV channel is too focused on minutia with street by street reporting that overlooks the regional aspect of the weather that is more important ion many cases.
- guru - Saturday, 09/13/08 10:47:29 EDT

Thanks for the Google Earth info, Jock-- beware, though, Google records every query. For domestic weather, NOAA does a terrific job. F'rinstance, Albuquerque is to be found at: They have a search box for other locales. Newspapers usually carry local weather ears on opening page-- NY Times, London Independent, etc.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 09/13/08 11:39:03 EDT

Tracking and Queries:
Almost any server has the tools to track queries. The standard Webalizer stats package on ours tells us what search queries (key words or phrases) were used to find our sites on various search engines. Users can also be tracked by their IP address and every page they look at noted. Exit pages or links can also be tracked.

While all of this data is there to be mined it is a HUGE amount of data. Our access files will overrun their allotted space in days and would fill up the server in a couple weeks. Even the condensed reports start to be a problem. So our server logs are erased daily.

Webalizer stats tell us all kinds of things about the traffic on our servers. It is mostly the oddities that catch our attention. We have an historical article on Kurdistan that comes up often in searches and is sometimes found more often than "how to make a sword". Of pages recently hit hard was one of our archives that had the words "bulldog" and "Republican convention" in it. Last month while we were setting up form spam filters we had a ton of traffic from Russia. Our forms no longer accept HTML or links. But the Russians hammered away at the form until they found they could embed links without html. . so we did further blocking that stopped them dead in their tracks. The log shows they spent a lot of time trying to get their message to someone (me) who has no interest in it.

Our local server stats are pretty primitive. We have off site tracking on some of our other sites and among the things they tell us is the monitor size and color depth used to view the pages. This is handy because we have been looking at redesign as well as adding new pages. On the site I am tracking 45% use a 1024x768 monitor. Many use more (30% use wider than 1024) but 8.5% use an 800x600 and one visitor was still using a 640x480. . . This on a small site.

The design size issue is critical to me because most of anvilfire still works at 640x480. . . Anyone using a higher resolution monitor doesn't notice to much because most of our pages dynamically change size. However, there are some things that I'd like to make larger like our forum input boxes. The problem is that they are fixed in size by columns and rows. It can be done but takes some tricky programming. Most sites use flash to do this which I am trying to avoid.

Server stats get used for all kinds of things.
- guru - Monday, 09/15/08 11:50:30 EDT

ANVIL NEEDED: Dose any one have a good anvil, not damaged or anything that would be good for medium blacksmith work. for 400 - 500 doloars.
sam - Monday, 09/15/08 17:12:33 EDT

I'm new!: hey i have been blacksmithing for about 4 years now and just got turned onto your site!! I am starting to teach some new people how to blacksmith! any suggetions or help! Both people i am helping are very good and very motivated! 1 even wants to make stuff like swords and axes etc.etc.etc.....
Any help on that to? my email is!! Thanx!!
Peter S. - Tuesday, 09/16/08 15:26:57 EDT

Howdy, Peter!

Whereabouts are you, that will help greatly in figuring out what we can do for you.
Alan-L - Tuesday, 09/16/08 16:29:46 EDT

1) Don't over do. Its easy to hurt your arm working too heavy, too long, too fast. Have students time to build up muscles while learning control making simple forgings at first.

2) Emphasize safety, both equipment and attitude.

3) Cover the rudiments before jumping to advanced work.

4) Not everything in blacksmithing is forging. Basic metal working including sawing, filing and drilling are part of the process. Identifying metals only comes from experience. Brass, copper and stainless are also in the blacksmiths repertoire.

Have students complete assigned projects, be sure you have the materials. Basics should be learned with the basic tools, not jumping to the power hammer, presses or such before learning to do the hand work.

General metalworking books start with sawing, filing, drilling, then bending cold and with heat. Forging a chisel then heat treating it is a common student project.

Making tongs is good forging practice and gives the students their first hand made blacksmiths tools.

Making twist samplers (a ring with bars showing the various twists) is a good learning project and also give the student a thing to show others or possible customers.
- guru - Wednesday, 09/17/08 10:31:40 EDT

fly press tools making of?

- frank duffin - Thursday, 09/18/08 08:54:47 EDT

Fly Press Tools: Frank, See our iForge page series on presses and press tooling. Flypress tooling varies from rough and tumble blacksmith tooling to engineered die sets. We cover both.
anvilfire iforge step by step demos
- guru - Thursday, 09/18/08 10:05:16 EDT

Or was that flypress tools making *out*? (grin). I'm not sure how else to explain the way they multiply to fill all available space.
Mike BR - Thursday, 09/18/08 21:25:48 EDT

What do you do. . :
What do you do? This morning I was woken up by a client that had gotten 5,000 spam emails over night and was still getting about 500 every hour. He had several addresses and only one was getting hit. It sounded like a spam program was broken. . .

On the other hand, my spam is now under control and I ONLY get maybe 100 a fay. To achieve this took all summer. I hardened our contact forms and everyone else's we host. . . I closed old email accounts and the big one. . I had to pay for ID protection on my URL registrations. Over half my spam was coming from that address. So now that my URL ID is hidden I've changed that address and clised the old account.

I still get spammed on my .NET account but not too bad. I don't think I'll ever get to use my old .COM address again. I did a dumb thing and put it on hundreds of pages of anvilfire with our copyright. . . At the time spam was a minor nuisance and it took a years before is was an issue. My new address was getting spam within days. But I'll have to abandon it in a year or so. . . There is nothing you can do.

SO. . This morning I get the call from my client and then I check my mail. No problem but one mail is curious. An anvil question through our contact form. It was brief but sounded like it might have been lifted from our forums. The trouble was the return address. It is a joke address with the name. "I.T. Wontfloat". It won't float. . with an anvil question.

I get a lot of weird questions on our contact forms and I have always answered them. Lately they have gotten pretty weird and I know some of these are spammers fishing for addresses. So I ignore these.

While writing this I took a chance and did a google search for I.T. Wontfloat and it seems he's an ironmonger of sorts, buys and sell on the Internet, posts on a few sites. So I will answer. But joke names may not get you far in the near future. .

We also get a lot of pub registrations with mail names or passwords that are in very poor taste. blatantly sexual, criminal or obsessed. I've left it up to our PubMaster (a woman) to reject the ones that go too far. You will not be informed, just rejected. You should know why without asking and if you don't. . well that is REALLY why.

Life was SO much simpler just a short decade ago. . .
- guru - Friday, 09/19/08 10:28:20 EDT

Tools on aircraft: I saw the chat on GD. It reminded me of what I believe to ba an apochryphal story of a woman smelling gasoline on a plane. It was traced to a guy's hand baggage which contained a chain saw. He had been allowed to carry it on because it wasn't on the list of dangerous items such as nail files etc.
- philip in china - Friday, 09/19/08 18:00:24 EDT

Tool auction: for those of you within reasonable distance of Marshall Saskatchewan Bill Plant is selling up. Lots of anvils to be found!
JimG - Friday, 09/19/08 19:43:31 EDT

Sad to here that. Bill was a real go getter at one time. Did a great job fabricating anvils. .
- guru - Friday, 09/19/08 19:52:36 EDT

pictures: And some pictures of some of the items.
JimG - Friday, 09/19/08 20:09:54 EDT

Blacksmith Traveling in Europe:
A travel blog sent to me by a friend. From the Czeck Republic to Australia by foot, car, plan. . . Through the Middle East to India and home. . . in progress.
- guru - Saturday, 09/20/08 14:13:47 EDT

fire fire fire: friday night i had a rather large shop destroyed ALL of my electric toools....welder, kidder hydraulic metal worker,hydraulic 2x72'belt grinder...air compressor chop saw..both band saws drill press...all my electric hand tools(grinders porta band..nibblers..drills)the list goes on(esp my stash of fine woods/antlers).....i'm at a real insurance...if you guys could send me some prayers and postive energy i would be in you debt....thanks
peter buchanan - Sunday, 09/21/08 08:46:53 EDT

Fire: Peter, sorry to hear that. . I'll look to see what I have duplicates of in small tools. Your heavier pieces will be a real challenge. I know how you have been hustling and wheeling and dealing to accumulate them the past few years.

OF course the loss of the building is as serious as the tools.. . .
- guru - Sunday, 09/21/08 09:47:27 EDT

Hate to hear it, Peter. I'll pass it along.
Alan-L - Sunday, 09/21/08 16:00:22 EDT

fire: Pete: Very sorry to hear of your great loss. Keep your chin up. Great things will come from your trial. Will also pass it along and keep you in prayers.
- Rustystuff - Sunday, 09/21/08 18:34:58 EDT

Fire: Very sorry to hear that news. Obviously I am not local to you but does anybody have a drill press ar something you never use?? Come on guys don't be shy.

On a wider point it is interesting that if a smith has a disaster like that he has to take it on the chin. A bank or insurance company that loses pretty well everything gets bailed out by federal tax dollars.
- philip in china - Sunday, 09/21/08 19:46:45 EDT

Fire/Tool: Pete

I am committing to buying Pete a new 4 1/2" makita angle grinder on Tuesday and mailing it to him. Pete check your email and please email me your mailing address.

I am very Sorry that this small thing is all I can afford to do. I feel I really want to do something for you and your family. My shop is so old fashioned I don't use hardly any of the electrical modern tools. I couldn't pull any duplicates out of that to send.

Make a list of tools you need and post them here. Scratch the angle grinder off the list. I am sure everyone who can will help in any way they can.

- Rustystuff - Sunday, 09/21/08 20:32:52 EDT

Peter Buchanan:
Black Lion Forge
3310 Sweet Hollow Rd.
Big Island, VA 24526

Folks, This is not a hoax. I know Pete fairly well. He spent a ton of time building up the Blue Ridge Blacksmiths Association only to have others take the membership and run. He spent years wheeling and dealing to amass the tools he had and was always generous and honest in his trades. He thought of other smiths first when making trades. He is also a typical starving artist type that managed to do enough to get along but that was it. Fire, health, life insurance. . whats that?

Anything you send to him will be put to good use and well appreciated.
- guru - Sunday, 09/21/08 21:47:38 EDT

Pete/Fire: Thanks for putting his address up Guru. Grinder will be on its way.
- Rustystuff - Sunday, 09/21/08 22:15:13 EDT

Blacksmithing/ Farriering: For an insight into blacksmithing and farrier work this link is well worth following to youtube. (I hope I have got it right).
philip in china - Sunday, 09/21/08 22:24:00 EDT

That was one sickly looking China horse. Fun song!
- Rustystuff - Sunday, 09/21/08 22:51:28 EDT

trial by fire: ......i can truely say this event was a blessing in disguise..its really made me revaulate,my craft/art...i think everything happens for a purpose...thank you all for your concern heres a small listing of what ive lost
5hp air compressor
all the air tools and hoses total loss
all my gas welding torches gauges and hoses
my tombstone /speed shade /and all welding rods
my hvy duty 2hp drill press/all bits total loss
my wood cutting bandsaw/and my horz/vert metal bandsaw
2x72 belt grinder buffer( and the huge stash of belts/buffing wheels and rouge)
12 and half ton h frame hydraulic press
kidder metalworker...with full compliment of dies(shear/brake /punches)
2 4 inch grinders..
1 9 inch grinder(hand)
18v cordless drill
3/4 inch corded drill
10 gauge nibbler
2 sawzalls
also lost was my kickbutt homade wirebrush station(4 different sized wire wheels on arbors)
a 3/4 by 6 stone wheel bench grinder
beverly b2 shear
my motor and flexshaft... as well as a huge assortment ofburrs and bits)
3 machine vices
2 burner gas forge( in my mind one of my biggest losses)
both sets of propane gauges
3 homade stake tools
my stash of hondruan mahagony/english walnut /ash and antlers
all of my sheet /repo hammers
bear in mind this is just what i know for fact ive lost...i havent really been able to go through everything at this point.....i just would like to thank everyone for the good energy and prayers that have been sent my way....i truely feel that its that good energy that was help me maintain such a postive attitude...thank you all.....
peter buchanan - Monday, 09/22/08 11:31:25 EDT

the call: jock thank you so much for the phone call brother..... it meant more to me than you know....
peter buchanan - Monday, 09/22/08 12:48:04 EDT

Pete, some of that stuff like the vices sounds recoverable unless the fire got AWFUL hot. . Hardened tools DO get annealed but hammer handles can be replaced. . .

Talked to Pete. Much of the fire WAS that hot. Ironworker reservoir burned and melted. . . Lots of metal items actually melted. Many more probably have temper issues. The recoverable items will be a LOT of work for one guy out in the country. . .
- guru - Monday, 09/22/08 13:04:42 EDT

Pete, If it is not too heartbreaking, could you share the cause of the fire in the hope that one of us might prevent the same thing happening to us?
ptree - Monday, 09/22/08 18:14:13 EDT

ashamed to say: but here goes....earlier in the day i had been running my belt grinder...which i use for both wood and metal..the metal sculpture i had driven into the wooden base stuck out a lil to far past the i back ground it in...after cutting off the grinder i checked the lil pile of saw heat ....i went about finishing out the piece i was working on...30 mins later i come back into the shut everything down.....checking the grinder area a second time ...actually touching heat no smoke.....i leave the farm to go into hour and 15 mins later i get the call.... shops on fire.... lesson learned...dust handler will be the 1st thing put in my shop..... i feel like such a damn dummy...hard lesson to learn...
peter buchanan - Monday, 09/22/08 19:31:38 EDT

oh: 2 thinks to be very thankful of....6 months ago i moved ALL my thinners spirits paints oil to the far side of the building... that and i had moved most of my ammo out as coulda been real ugly .....very grateful not to lose the whole structure
peter buchanan - Monday, 09/22/08 19:34:41 EDT

The gasoline store I was going to make outside my shop has just moved up in priorities....
philip in china - Monday, 09/22/08 19:51:16 EDT

Don't feel bad. You were just working hard to earn a living. We all have things we didn't get to that we should have. Hind Site.
- Rustystuff - Monday, 09/22/08 19:53:24 EDT

Pete, Hindsight is always 20/20. That is why I asked, so perhaps I and others can do things to prevent the same from happening to us.

In industry, one of the programs that many ignore is called a hotwork permit system. Many insurance companies require them. Osha requires it. Basically requires a permit to be filled out for ANY hot work, that is welding, grinding or use of a flame, that is done outside a designated hot work area. Requires looking for and removing combustable materials, a fire watch while the work is done and for at least one after, with many having a once an hour check for three hours after.
Many ignore this and many have fires. Most have maintenance shops much like our shops, full of stuff that is combustable, yet because it is a "designated" hot work area, the permit does not apply.
My shop, and I am an industrial safety/enviro guy for a living is not perfect by any stretch in this reguard. Like Phillip-in-China, I will attack the storage problem with a renewed vigor.
So sorry for you troubles Pete.
Thank you for a lesson learned.
ptree - Tuesday, 09/23/08 06:06:43 EDT

from the ashes: i WILL rebuild my shop..... better...stronger....faster... (6million dollar man theme music panning in) yup yup chin is up....i want to thank you all for the postive energy....
peter buchanan - Tuesday, 09/23/08 07:52:32 EDT

Help!: Hi i am in bismarck north dakota I know afew blacksmiths but need more help
- Peter S - Tuesday, 09/23/08 08:51:03 EDT

Peter, if you need more help then raise your pay rate.

See and try the organizations in the region as well as in Canada.

In the worse case you could start your own organization. Ask the folks you know who they know then who they know. . .

- guru - Tuesday, 09/23/08 10:17:47 EDT

Pete's Fire. . .:
We have discussed wood dust in the past particularly in regards to dust collection systems and the high likelyhood of fire in the sander/grinder, pipeing or collector. Working wood and steel on the same machine can be a real hazard but just about every knifemaker in the world does it.

But you don't have to work mixed materials. Just working wood on my band saw I have had sparks from minerals or hard spots in wood or from the blade touching a guide. I've only had one minor machine fire and I was lucky that I was right there working.

The bad thing about wood dust is that a spark is well insulated and can "hide" in the dust and smoulder for a very long time. The best practice is to force yourself to clean the machine after EVERY use getting into those hard to get to spots where dust accumulates. THEN take the dust bin or trash can OUT of the shop.

If all we did was work metal in our metal working shops it would be less of a fire hazard but we also do other things in them.

Sprinkler systems are worth considering. Water damage is a lot less painful than fire. .
- guru - Tuesday, 09/23/08 13:03:54 EDT

Peter B.: Howdy Pete
Package sent your way. Check email for details and tracking info.
- Rustystuff - Tuesday, 09/23/08 17:53:27 EDT

rusty: thank you brother....
peter buchanan - Wednesday, 09/24/08 00:56:48 EDT

Peter B. : This may not help, but I have a flat belt drill press, #3 morse taper, and an old buffaloe iron worker. If you can transport them from Mass. they are yours. Also a rockwell 6x48 beltsander.
John Christiansen - Wednesday, 09/24/08 12:49:30 EDT

Now all we need is something I need REALLY bad so there is a reason to drive a flat bed truck that gets 7MPG up to N.E. and back
- guru - Wednesday, 09/24/08 22:41:28 EDT

john: that sounds great... i cant seem to access link to email addy is
- pete - Thursday, 09/25/08 01:28:29 EDT

Well. . we are off! See y'all there.
- guru - Thursday, 09/25/08 08:12:51 EDT

E-mail: (my son made it for me)
John Christiansen - Thursday, 09/25/08 13:22:46 EDT

Underpinning: Jock I know it has got little (or nothing) to do with blacksmithing but you guys are so practical somebody might be able to help me.

The shop building in Bulgaria hasn't got an real foundations under the walls. In UK they would "underpin" it. I don't know the American term but you get the idea. Does anybody know how it is done? How do I improve the oundations of a building that is already standing?
philip in china - Friday, 09/26/08 21:05:09 EDT

Foundations: Phillip- It sort of depends on site conditions. Soil type, amount of water both surface and underground, and how deep the ground frost gets in the winter. Looser uncompacted soil will require a wider foundation to cary the load without settling, water needs drainage and frost means you need to go deeper with your foundation than the frost depth.

I've jacked up and replaced the foundation on a number of buildings including the one I'm sitting in now. Around here the frost gets from 3 to 6 feet down depending on winter severity and snow cover, so standard practice is to have fairly deep foundations. To replace you have to lift the building up off the foundation enough to work under, anywhere from 10" to several feet. This is done by building a series of stacks of cribbing, or criss crossed timber balks, under major structural parts of the building. Put a hydraulic jack on top of each and slowly, evenly, lift. Along the sidewalls a stack is build both inside and outside the structure and an I beam is passed thru the wall and the jack placed on the beam so the point load on the foundation is lifted without touching the soon to be removed and replaced foundation. A ledger beam or plate can also be bolted to the side of the building an jacked against, again to move the jack point a little away from where the repair work needs to be done. Once the building is in the air you get out the shovel, skidsteer or excavator.

Around here the foundation material of choice is poured concrete, first a wider footing then the wall itself. An alternative is Builder's Tubes, or Sonotubes, google as needed. You can use laid block, brick or stone also, not as fast or strong but cheaper if you are DIY. Reattatchment of the building is done using embedded threaded rod or galvi. steel strips to tie the 2 parts together. Older buildings around here have no ties, they just sit there thanks to gravity, but I am in an area of VERY low seismic activity. I would imagine you have a different perspective on this.

Depending on the scope of the project it can be a full time job costing many tens of thousands of $ or it could be done in a week or two with some friends, some car jacks and a shovel (and perhaps some beer). A basic set of carpentry tools and skills would be very helpful as well.

Be aware that no matter the project there is always some danger of jacks tipping over or building failure (even collapse). Have wide, FLAT bases for the jacks, keep them perfectly plumb, and lift slowly and evenly. Don't dig holes too close to the jack or cribbing piles, certainly never undermine them.

Wow, sorry for the long post. Guess I got nostalgic for the bad old days of crawling around in the dirt under rotten old barns and farm houses.
Judson Yaggy - Saturday, 09/27/08 08:25:53 EDT

Foundation-- in addition to frost heaving, be sure to consider problems protecting from termites, vermin, cold floor, difficulty in getting heavy stuff in and out if building is simply raised and then set atop piers, pilings, etc.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 09/27/08 12:38:10 EDT

Well I think that that answers my question very clearly and comprehensively. The building I would have used becomes the storage place as it is and I just build a new building for the shop!! It will be less work and I can get exactly what I want. Very many thanks.
- philip in china - Saturday, 09/27/08 19:42:00 EDT

Need Champion tuyere: Moving Keziah's Forge to a new locationthat has a semi-brick forge. Its actually a steel forge with a firepot but no tuyere set into a brick structure with chimney and side draft. Nice set up, but I need a tuyere to hook up my Champion 400. I am in eastern Massachusetts, but will travel or pay reasonable freight for the right item. Please do not refer me to secondary sources, such as ABANA classifieds , "resources" pages or dealers who "might" have what I am looking for unkless you have seen a specific listing I may have missed. I am trying them all. thanks.
Peter Hirst - Sunday, 09/28/08 12:30:21 EDT

Peter, replacement fire pots have been available but the tuyere is a tricky casting that nobody makes replacements for. Its DIY time.
- guru - Sunday, 09/28/08 18:14:05 EDT

Peter,: I don't know whether Champion ever made a side blast tuyere. The old, cast Champion firepot had three slots in the botton, and a handle which actuated what they advertised as a pick. When rotated, one of two lugs would enter the side slots and loosen the ash, the ash supposedly exiting the center slot.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/28/08 21:49:08 EDT

Not looking for a side blast tuyere. Its a side draft chimney. The firepot is as you describe. No handle, though:I assumed it was mounted on the tuyere, like the Vulcan. If I cant find the Champion, I'll look at adapting a Vulcan or fabricate somethng based on a 3x4 weld tee. Sure would like a Champion or used Vulcan, though. BTW, Frank: would you be teaching in January or Feb? I may close up for a coupla weeks about then. Have family in Albuquerque to visit and sure could use a little continuing education along with the R&R.
Peter Hirst - Monday, 09/29/08 23:42:48 EDT

A tuyere is not a tricky casting. A Train coupler head, a double suction pump casing, a gearbox for a tank those are tricky castings.
But then I guess everything is relative.
- JNewman - Tuesday, 09/30/08 15:35:31 EDT

Tricky is Relative: At my level of technology, anything beyond a fire back is tricky, and Hopewell Furnace represents advanced technology. ;-)
Hopewell furnace National Historic Site
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 09/30/08 21:23:56 EDT

Craftsman Oxyacetelyne Rig: Picked up a Craftsman OA rig superhcheap, and of course the one piece that's missin is the one that Sears apparently does not sell separately from its kits: the cutting torch. SO I'm looking for one, or any other that may fit the craftsman blowpipe (my local Victor dealer says no go, but he is a dealer)Any idears?
Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 09/30/08 21:35:31 EDT

Peter-- try the nice people at Harris. They make/made a lot of Sears stuff (as they did Wards) and much-- not all-- of their name brand equipment is compatible with Sears. Their tech support people are terrific, and would know which of their torches will mate up with what you have. Sears, on the other hand, does not know nothin'. I mean zilch. There is one (1) Sears person who does liasion with Harris. Nobody else in the entire company even knows what an oxy-acetylene torch is, despite the fact that they have them in their catalog. Do not bother trying to deal with them. They are just a ghost of the company they once were.
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 09/30/08 23:06:29 EDT

Craftsman Torches. . : It depends on how old. Sears entirely speced out the one I bought in 1972. No part fits any other make or brand other than the standard pipe threads and gas fittings. . . I couldn't even get tips from Sears 3 years after I bought it. . .

I DID find a Victor torch adaptor that would accept the gooseneck from the Craftsman torch. The gooseneck takes seperate tips and had a neck on it the was handy to hang the torch from. So I put them together and call it my "VicMan" torch. The rest has all been scrapped. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 10/01/08 00:23:59 EDT

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