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

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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.

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

Well I am certainly pleased that you have aquired yon pretty thing. Now perchance you will have the latest chapter posted with no delay due to your displeasure with me.
And all the Grunts said: HUA!
(snort chuckle grin and snort)
Mills - Monday, 10/01/01 00:59:38 GMT

trip hammer: can anyone stear me where I can buy a forging/trip hammer as in little giant,ect? Where do I look? I live in Michigan
thanks for all your replies
- mike - Monday, 10/01/01 01:31:41 GMT

I should make you wait for the latest chapter! (grin)

Talk to the guru, he already has the next chapter. Dunno whether it's ready to post or not, though.

Paw+Paw+Wilson - Monday, 10/01/01 03:09:31 GMT

postvise posting: 8"...250#...pant, pant,salivate!
- Pete F - Monday, 10/01/01 06:00:01 GMT

Rev. Blacksmith: Jock was punctual, as usual. Thank you kindly, Guru.

A well done chapter, Jim. I especially liked the description of the wheel work. I wasn't aware of those kinds of differences in the iron work of wagons. Care to point me to some of your reference material? I intend to begin my second wagon this winter or maybe the spring and after the struggle I had with the wheels on the first I am ready to read, a lot. I need to get down to the University and see what the western collection has in it.

Pete F :) very well spoken and Ditto.
Mills - Monday, 10/01/01 17:54:47 GMT

You had to ask that, didn't you? (grin) I forget where I found the number for the Conestoga, but I'll see if I can find them. The three band wheel is common on the Nissan Wagon made here in Winston for many years. (the Nissan was a smaller scale of the Conestoga)
Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 10/01/01 21:24:55 GMT

Wagons: Paw Paw: If the Nissan was a smaller version of the Connestoga, did they make a buckboard named Toyota? (VBG)
I am enjoying the book you are posting. Keep it coming.

I wasn't Airborne, but I was with 155 mm artillery over there. III Corps. Old Redleg, out.
- Larry - Tuesday, 10/02/01 01:52:38 GMT

Trust a redleg infantryman to ask that question! (grin)

Called on some of your guys a time or two. Lost a good buddy to a round. He was flying an O1E Birdog, spotting for my team and flew into the wrong part of the pattern. We found the wings, engine, part of the empanage. And one full boot.

Not the artillery's fault, he flew where he wasn't supposed to go.

Looking out for me.
Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 10/02/01 02:13:01 GMT

Trip Hammer: As of the end of Quad State, Mike Bendele had a 50 LG in good working order with a 2 HP, 3 phase motor and wooden base for sale. He was asking $2600 for it but he may be willing to negotiate. He really wanted to get rid of it. He lives in Delphos OH.
Patrick - Tuesday, 10/02/01 16:38:37 GMT

Auction page : check out the auction Page
Bill-E. - Wednesday, 10/03/01 03:57:19 GMT

Saltfork Craftsmen Conference: All: The Saltfork Craftsmen ABA 5th Annual Conference will be next weekend (Oct. 13/14) in Guthrie, OK. Doug Merkel and the team of Kathleen & Jim Poor are the professional smiths. Conference information and a registration form can be found at Click on FrontierShop. Thanks. Jim C.
Jim Carothers - Sunday, 10/07/01 12:44:24 GMT

Floor lamp: Way back in April I started to build a hand forged floor lamp. Three days ago, after making 2 that did'nt work out, I finished it. It is'nt perfect, but it ain't bad. Many thanks to Paw Paw Wilson for his advice and encouragement.
Brian - Tuesday, 10/09/01 01:09:14 GMT

Hastings XXXIII: Packing up and shipping out Friday for our annual reenactment. I'll have our faering boat there and the Viking period forge. Might even get it lit up this time, if I have enough folks to man the boat.

Just east of D.C. in PG County, directions are on the bottom of the link.

If you stop by, say hello.
Hastings XXXIII
Bruce Blackistone - Tuesday, 10/09/01 14:16:49 GMT

Redlegs: I'd wondered what a redlegs was ever since I did an archaeological survey just outside redleg-1 impact area at Fort Polk, LA. Four guys (and one girl) walking through the cratered piney woods digging little holes every thirty meters, with orders from Range Control to drop the shovel and run if we hit anything metallic...
Alan-L - Tuesday, 10/09/01 14:28:23 GMT

Lamps and Red Legs:
Brian, That lamp is better than you think it is. "Perfection exists only in the mind of the insane"

The army Dress uniform has been blue since the end of the Un-Civil War. The color of the stripe on the outside of the trouser leg indicated the branch of service. Yellow for Cavalry, light Blue for Infantry, Red for Artillery, and Green for Engineers.

Cannon Cockers (another name for artillery troops) who had loost their guns to the enemy were used as infantry. Hence the nick name (semi-derisive, and apt to cause a spirited discussion) red leg infantry.
Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 10/09/01 20:22:07 GMT

Battle names: Why is the artillery known as the King of Battle and the Infantry known as the Queen of Battle? since we are on the subject. >:)
Mills - Tuesday, 10/09/01 21:33:13 GMT


Jock and I are both out of town this week, so our messages may be kinda hit and miss. We should be back either tuesday or wednesday of next week.
  Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 10/09/01 23:48:32 GMT

(grin) You got them backwards. Normal for redlegs! (BIG grin)
  Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 10/09/01 23:50:42 GMT

I think not, o great one. I am straight leg Infantry 11B3X. Now I realize that things change from era to era so in all fairness:
Since the advent of ironclads and breechloaders, Why is the Artillery known as the King of Battle and the Infantry known as the Queen of Battle?

lest any others want to get flippant with PPW remember there is a half a continent with a big ol river between us.
Mills - Wednesday, 10/10/01 02:34:24 GMT

Redlegs: Looks as if my reference to Redleg Artillery has opened up a new train of thought. Paw Paw is right about the dress uniform. Even khakis and dress greens use red to denote artillery in different units. One such unit I was with in Germany issued a red cravat to be worn with khakis. Many of us wore red shoulder cords with dress greens.
But the red legs go back a little farther than the Civil War. I remember reading years ago that arty crews either in the Revolution or War of 1812 wore red cloths wrapped around their boot tops to denote their units. Esprit de corps.
As for why Arty is the King of Battle, I have no answer other than an old arty joke that might not fit into a family board. But I assume it has something to do with when the King clears his throat everyone pays attention.

Hey, Paw Paw. You going to have any artillery in your Revolutionary Blacksmith story? Maybe fixing a cannon that turned the tide of battle? Get those writer's brain cells going. I'm a writer too. Sometimes it just takes a gentle nudge to open a story up in a new direction.
Keep on hammerin' folks.
- Larry - Friday, 10/12/01 01:38:10 GMT

new anvil's: I have just purchased a new anvil to indulge my fascination with metalwork. I am a newbie and therefore trying to miss the misconceptions in metalwork. Is it true that you need to strike the surface with a hammer for "x" amount of times before you are ready to work with it. Please advise. Thanks.
vance galland - Friday, 10/12/01 19:49:24 GMT

new anvil: Vance that don't sound reasonable to me. As a rule you are best off not striking two hardened surfaces together, ie the hammer face and the anvil face. Reserve striking the anvil only when you have hot steel or soft materials like brass. You will hear of ringing the anvil which is not the same thing. There is a LOT of good info on these pages, start with 'getting started' link and read a bunch. You have picked the premier web site to come to with your questions, so fire away.
Mills - Friday, 10/12/01 23:28:28 GMT

That's an old superstition. Three "rings" of the anvil, to invoke the Trinity and warn the Devil to stay away. Some of the folks who know me may be surprised to find that I usually do that. Not always.


I'm NOT going to tell that joke! And unless you clean it up a BUNCH, you'd better not tell it either! Short round, indeed! (grin)


He's going to work on some artillery, not sure yet, just where how.
Paw+Paw+Wilson - Saturday, 10/13/01 00:12:57 GMT

KA75: Has anyone had any experience w/ KA75 striker hammer. I need a good power hammer, but seem to be a bit pricey. Big Blue looks good, but need $1500 for the 2 stage 60 gal compressor to run it.
- muleskinner - Monday, 10/15/01 10:05:51 GMT

Power-hammer: muleskinner: I would go for the blue hammer myself. I think its the best priced. Has lots of control. (I don't work for the Kaynes by the way) Then I'd look for a used compressor or two. For real,two! You'll end up using the compressor for all kinds of other stuff. Grinding, sandblasting, fixing bike tires, etc. Most of the time you will use only one compressor.There are used compressors all across the states. Call Steve Kayne and see if he sold one some where near you that you can go and see. Same with the KA-75.
Pete-Raven - Monday, 10/15/01 12:15:18 GMT

triphammer: Ed Garrett of Pittsboro Indiana has 2 for sale, a 50# and 25#. Write back if still interested and I'll give you his ph. no. I think he is asking $1500 forvthe big one and $1800 for the small one.
Stiffy - Tuesday, 10/16/01 04:01:32 GMT

diesel: is anyone familiar with diesel fired forges. I'd never heard or read of any until recently.
- Glenn Funderburk - Tuesday, 10/16/01 20:00:34 GMT

Cracked Anvil: Here, on the westren slopes of the Blue Ridge, a small group of Cracked trackers have been monitoring the current depth of the Fractured Anvil's reclusement. We employ remarks on pages he has been active on that are rated on a 1-7 scale for elicitabily (likelihood of elicting a response). Yesterday, on the Guru page, Robert Frost was intentionally misquoted...(something there is that loves a name). Admittidly, that is only about a 4 on the elicitability scale, but we believe his lack of comment does reflect a moderate to high level of reclusivity. We would conclude that he is at the moment gainfully employed, however, this is based on too little evidence to be reliable. Confirmatory effort are forthcoming.
Of related interest: Origin of name.
It has come to our attention that as a child Cracked was a huge boy of few words who loved playing in his father's shop. One day after so doing he arrived at the kitchen door for some cookies and milk and his mother said, "what have you been up to?" his terse reply..."cracked anvil". The name stuck, the anvil was never repaired and the boy grew into an fine man with a gift gab.

L. Sundstrom - Wednesday, 10/17/01 13:02:05 GMT

Striking Anvil Faces: Vance, KOHLSWA, a Swedish anvil maker that makes cast steel anvils recommended stress relieving the hardened face of their anvils by repeatedly striking the face lightly with a ball pien hammer in the center of the face and then working outward in a spiral pattern of blows a few millimeters apart until the entire face and edges had been covered including from the sides new the face. To do this properly as described might take the better part of the day. . . No other maker that I know of recommends this treatment. However, modern stress relieving uses a shot peening method using heavy shot and compressed air. Personaly I figured that if it were needed then KOHLSWA should have done the stress relieving using an industrial method such as shot peening.

I have had several KOHLSWA anvils and still have a 300#. They are VERY hard, ring like a bell and the edges tend to chip. Although I work on the edges I have not chipped one, but the used anvils I've had both had significant chipping. It may be due the chipping problems that KOHLSWA recommended the stress relieving.
- guru - Thursday, 10/18/01 00:43:37 GMT

maundering: Larry-- Nahh, sorry, nice try but O'Morty's actually right. We just simply need every available square inch, every pixel, we can muster on this site to handle vital questions such as how to make stuff like: our own charcoal, swords, brake drum forges, wire cable Damascus, to determine which ends of the fullers and swages go up, when to use the pein, and when the face, of the hammer, and how to determine forging, normalizing, hardening temps and other stuff like that there that we would-be rough'ntough smiths are just too bleeding lazy, oops, I mean busy, to look up. No room for maundering, pondering, Robert Frost or Cracked Anvil, any of those other sissy-type guys.
Nelson Magruder - Thursday, 10/18/01 01:44:17 GMT

Hammering the anvil: Hammering the complete anvil face was also a method used to deal with a "soft" face to work harden it a bit---don't think it would work with a modern cast iron anvil but if you have a steel face that seems a bit soft you might give it a go.

Ifn you're taking ideas a couple of "spikes" for spiking cannon would be a usefull thing for a revolutionary smith to make! IIRC they were a standard part of the uniform of that era...what do you call an artilleryman with a spiked cannon? Pissed as H...!

Thomas Powers - Thursday, 10/18/01 16:06:26 GMT

air hammer: howdy, A comment for muleskinner if looking for an air hammer the striker seems to be a great deal and you dont have to buy a compressor . I got to try their 50 and 88 last month and immediately fell in lust even though I use a 50 # LG daily
- aaron - Thursday, 10/18/01 17:10:16 GMT

Boy Scout merit badge: Information for the Boy Scout merit badge in blacksmithing is posted at:

This is the result of hard work by ABANA members and other blacksmiths to restore the badge after a 50 year absence.
- Conner - Friday, 10/19/01 01:31:15 GMT

New Anvil: Vance, Get ready to marry your anvil. Set it outside the door of your shop after having prepared a place for it inside. Hunker. Keep your back straight. Pick up the anvil and carry it across the threshold, a "bride", as it were. In the U.S., a smith would sometimes place a silver dollar underneanth the anvil as it was installed...for luck.
- Frank Turley - Friday, 10/19/01 02:03:32 GMT

Buffalo Forge: I have a portable buffalo forge which I purchased (in pieces) at the SOFA meet in Ohio. I met a fella there who also had one, Harry Williams, but don't remember where he was from. I'd like to contact him, or anyone else who happens to have one like mine (sorta oval shaped, the bowl is 21 inches x 27 inches) to compare notes on restoring it into working order.
Mike S - Friday, 10/19/01 02:42:46 GMT

Speaking of Kohlswa Anvils, which we weren't, except on the guru page, I saw one at a workshop in Nevada that had the small "shelves" or "steps" on the base similar to the Peter Wright. There is a little flat area under the horn & heel, on the top edges of the base. The anvil weighed about 275 pounds. I have not seen this on other Kohlswas; has anybody else? Just curious.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 10/21/01 14:49:19 GMT

KOHLSWA: Frank, That appears to be their type B27. Mine is a type A1, 305 pound (as best as I can determine). My first anvil was also this type that weighed 100 pounds. The standard A1's don't have the little flat but it looks like the B27 does. From their web site you will see that they make numerous styles including a sawmakers anvil.

At one time Centaur had farriers anvils made by KOHLSWA. I think the earlier ones had the KOHLSWA marking and the later ones Centaur. I'm sure they also cast other patterns over the years because my old 100 pound anvil was marked KOHLSWA and 100 and weighed exactly 100 pounds. They do not currently list one exactly this weight.

KOHLSWA Web page

- guru - Sunday, 10/21/01 18:45:41 GMT

Speaking of anvils:
on the cover of the book "WURK UND WURK etc" there is a picture of an Austrian anvil. A gentleman named Dan sells a line of anvils made in the Czech Republic. That part of his business is called Oldworldanvils. He has a web site by that name. Anyway, Dan sells anvils made in the Czech Republic. they make double horned anvils and also one that is very similar to the Austria pattern. Personally, I think it's the only beautiful anvil I've ever seen (the Austrian). Does anyone out there have experience with Czech Republic anvils? By the way, there is a picture of the cover of "Wurk und Wurk" on Dan's site.
- l.sundstrom - Sunday, 10/21/01 21:50:38 GMT

oldworldanvils: lsundstrom, Yes, I worked on one of the big Old World anvils, in fact, Dan Morris' personal one. He hauled it to Ironfest in Grapevine, TX, this past summer for my demo. I liked it; maybe it rang a little too much. On the far edge (with horn to left), there is an oblique falloff rather than a right angle. Be aware of that. To my eye, they are all good looking.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 10/21/01 22:57:58 GMT

"Wurk": A brief note. That spelling blew my hair back a little bit. I'm sure that l. means, "Werk und Werkzeug des Kunstschmied" by Otto Schmirler. A fair translation would be, "Work Methods and Tools of the Artsmith".
Frank Turley - Monday, 10/22/01 12:24:42 GMT

Otto Schmirler's Anvils: are a classic old European pattern. He had several in his shop that were all the same pattern. They are cast steel. At one time Dan was using the slip cover photo from 'Werk and Werkzeug des Kunstschmeids' on the home page of Old World Anvils and claimed his were the same pattern. They are not. Now the photo is hidden on the Austrian anvil page. Dan's are made from a pattern that sort of looks like the old anvils but has none of the classic character.

Schmirler's anvils have a long rectangular waist about 1/3 the anvil's height and the "church windows" extend to the base. The "drop off" on the far side is a radius that is tangent to the face and creats no angular corner. It continues into the horn. The horns are distinctly seperate from the body except on the far side where it blends into the far side radius. The heel is almost pointed on the end the underside coming up at a steeper angle and curving upward slightly. All the features are much sharper than the Old World Anvils.

The pattern of the Old World Austrian style anvil is short and has heavy fillets in all the corners. The far side slopes off and does not blend with the face. The heel is thick and heavy like the English cast anvils.

There are other classic European anvil patterns that have similar but distinct features. There are armorers anvils that the far side slopes away rather than curves. These have large gently radiused "church windows" that extend to the base. The back side of the anvil is often flat so that the church window side can be used for forming curves. Most of these patterns were developed over hundreds of years and have a classic distinctive look and sharp features.

The first time I saw the Schmirler cover photo and the comparison to his anvils I told Dan the comparison was not accurate and I questioned his use of the photo. We have been on a bad footing ever since.

From a materials and heat treatment standpoint these are probably quite good cast steel anvils. But from a style standpoint I think they are rather ugly. AND they are not the same as Otto Schmirler's Anvils.
- guru - Monday, 10/22/01 15:26:27 GMT

Old Anvil: Speaking of old anvils....I got a 132lbs. mouse hole anvil at an auction recently. I'm told they are somewhat collectable (?). This one is a little sway backed from much use & the far edge is somewhat chipped. What would be a good trade value on something like this? I'm new to this hobby & need "stuff" more than I need an extra anvil.
- Mike S - Tuesday, 10/23/01 02:24:48 GMT

Mousehole anvils: Mike, collectability of anvils is very subjective. Some clearly marked EARLY mousehole anvils have some collectors value. There was also a brief period when they were marked C&A (looks like CSA) that some folks collect. But in general Mouse Hole anvils, often labled "M&H Armitage" were the most common of the imported British anvils. They were imported to the US by the millions and millions still exist. This is also a very common weight.

Generaly these are worth about $1.75 - $2.50/lb USD. But they often sell for much less.

Let folks know where you are and what you need and someone will very likely have a trade for you.
- guru - Tuesday, 10/23/01 18:07:49 GMT

MIKE: Concerning Buffalo Forge & Harry Williams in IN.address 12388 S. 300 W Russiaville IN 46979 / phone 765-453-6871
DAVE - Wednesday, 10/24/01 02:02:57 GMT

vance galland: vance galland Speaking in general you will see smiths tapping the anvil between some blows while working the metal. Uri Hoffi of Israell does this to keep his rythem going and also thinking ahead what hes gonna do next.
- DAVE - Wednesday, 10/24/01 02:20:58 GMT

Mills,: > Since the advent of ironclads and breechloaders,

Why are all Artillery known as breech loaders?

Careful how you answer, that's a loaded question! (VBG)

BTW, Meet another 11B3S
Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 10/24/01 04:22:47 GMT

Because they're too big for their britches?
- Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/24/01 12:36:08 GMT

Mr Turley,

Sorry about my spelling of book I referred to as "Wurk und Wurk...." just my way of compensation for a bad memory. I meant no desrespect for this very fine book.

Jock, I am puzzelled about the "Austrian Anvils". The add shows a picture of the cover of the book mentioned above and the add is for "Smaller Anvils in the tradition of the Great Austrian Smiths". I thought they were exact replicas of these beautiful anvils. I guess when I saw the book I felt like I had never seen an anvil like that before and how great it would be to find one. Then months later I saw the add. Your comment in this light is kind-of-a-bummer.
Thanks for your thoughts on the matter.
- l.sundstrom - Wednesday, 10/24/01 16:21:47 GMT

Infantry: Pass PPW. :)

Aside from the ribaldry, which was my intent in the first place, the original designation for us as the Queen seems to descend from the Greek goddess of war Pallas Athenas. A quick search also showed that the blacksmith played a part in her coming to be. Check out the link which is not the original ones I can't find at the moment.
Mills - Wednesday, 10/24/01 16:24:59 GMT

tapping an anvil: I was told by one of our only professional smiths(retired now, sorta)about tapping anvils. He said " Why on earth do that? I am paid to hit hot iron and not an anvil!"
Merlyn has forgotten more about smithing in the last 60 years(he is in his 80's) than I will know... I got a 25 year late start.....
Ralph - Wednesday, 10/24/01 17:25:15 GMT

Anvil Styles: I'm kind of picky on this subject for a number of reasons. I've been looking at, drawing and designing anvils for nearly 40 years. I've also collected images for articles and over the past few years have had the opportunity to see many examples of old classic anvil patterns.

Here is a sample of the images for part of an anvil atricle.
German Anvils
- guru - Wednesday, 10/24/01 19:21:57 GMT

Thanks for posting those pictures. I would love to see the rest of your article. In your opinion, from the standpoint of style alone, what is your favorite.
  l.sundstrom - Wednesday, 10/24/01 19:40:02 GMT

My favorite is the old German double horned anvil that I did the detail drawing of AND also used on the CSI logo. It is both very functional and beautifuly symetrical.

The "London" and "American" pattern anvil developed as a farrier's anvil with an enlonged horn and heel with pritchel hole. It is what we are used to as a "standard" anvil. It developed when horseshoeing was a large part of the work of a "general" smithy. The "general" smithy of romantic poetry was actualy the short lived American "frontier" smithy.

But we all become accustomed to the tools we have on hand. Currently my working anvils are American pattern anvils. They work fine. But so would a simple block and some form tools to lay on the surface. Most of us use the horn a lot but there are other ways to perform the same tasks.
- guru - Wednesday, 10/24/01 20:22:21 GMT

Chicken! (grin)

Might have known it would be a Greek Goddess! (nother grin)
After all, there are the old military legends about the Spartans and their good buddies! (biggest grin of all)
Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 10/24/01 23:56:27 GMT

anvil "tapping": You shouldn't ever really hit your anvil. Even "tapping" may connote an incorrect sense. However, I've never seen any blacksmith work by himself without resting his hammer on the anvil occasionally. Now, with a striker, that is another story. There are many signaling methods extant between smith and striker, and some of them involve touching the anvil with the hand hammer. Hofi's method allows the striker to "tap" on the horn in rhythm prior to lifting the sledge to strike iron. Uri Hofi told me that he acquired his striking system from working with Alfred Habermann, and that he (Hofi) "improved on it".

Some years ago, a student asked me why a blacksmith (working alone) would allow his hammer to touch the anvil occasionally. I thought it a good question, and I really cogitated on it for about one day. I came up with the "Three Rs": rest, rhythm, and rumination. I think the main one is rest. Why in the heck would you want to rest your hammer in mid-air? And rest is closely related to rumination (pondering), trying to figure where you're going to hit it next. Maybe you gave the work a quarter turn and you're moving it toward the horn for a bend. Your hammer might take a running bounce along behind it. And I guess rhythm plays a part, although not all of us have much of a rhythmical sense.

I think some of us are familiar with the ball bearing bounce test for anvils. Well, it is this kind of rebound that leads a non-smith or newbie to think that some "tapping" is taking place. Lots of times, it's just a rapid series of rebounds as the hammer takes a little "resting ride" on the anvil.

When I hear people intentionally tap or hit the anvil "a la Hollywood", it makes me retch, vomit, and hurl.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 10/25/01 03:08:41 GMT

Anvil tapping or ringing: I'm afraid I am one that rings the anvil a lot. Having spent most of my smithing time in public doing demonstrations the occasional ring of the anvil travels far and helps gather a crowd when needed. However, there is a big difference between ringing the anvil to keep rhythm or signal starting work and the ringing of the "Hollywood" smith that hits the anvil harder than the work and has no rhythm at all. I gag just watching the average actor pick up a hammer to do ANYTHING. . most have never driven a nail and cannot act the part.

I just happen to be watching "A Knight's Tale" and the young actress that plays a "farrieress" was obviously coached by a Hollywood director that was coached by another Hollywood director that was. . . . tap, tap, pick up the hammer and "tink" on the anvil. . . tap, tap, pause, tink. . . She seemed to be a fine actress but was coached poorly.

Early in the day when working alone I rarely ring the anvil but late in the day I find myself bouncing the hammer on the anvil for a rest more often than just to think. When I notice, then it is time to quit.

During heavy gross work I rarely ring the anvil but often when turning small work when I need to think about where to hit next, a bounce keeps the rhythm. On items where I am sure of myself I rarely ring the anvil. On small light work being moved from face to horn or edge or back there is often a series of running bounces such as Frank mentioned. This is often accompanied by the use of lighter hammers.

The resting bounce is why many smiths prize the rebound in an anvil. Otherwise there is little need for rebound.

Now. . When demonstrating for the public. . I've often found myself working 9 or 10 hour days. THAT is a lot of forging. And I try to keep up a good show any time there is anyone willing to watch. Some parts of the work you want to move fast while others you want the audiance to have time to see what is happening. You are often trying to talk and think and hurt yourself at the same time. . . Many pauses, rests and restarts. . . Often accompanied by much ringing of the anvil. More than when I am working at home. But often at the same places, just more often.

I recently managed to survive 5 straight LONG days of demonstrating after not having picked up a hammer in nearly 20 years, except for the hour a every other day or so I had put in for a couple weeks preparing for this demo. This has to say something for my technique.

Some old smiths will tell you that it is the ringing of the smiths cash register. . .

I like Franks "Three R's" rest, rhythm and rumination.

- guru - Thursday, 10/25/01 06:16:36 GMT

Tapping: Tapping:
I had a forge set up at a jousting and one of the riders was also a shoer. He brought his horse up an used my stuff, shot the breeze and impressed a friend of my wife's with his anvil tapping. It was the first time she had ever watched a blacksmith and in her eyes this young buck really out shined me 'cause he had that rhythm.

About rebound: My big flattening anvil is a thirteen hundred pound peice of "I" beam. It has great rebound over the center but obviously is not very hard steel. Leads me to belive that rebound is a function of mass and square blows to the work.
- lsundstrom - Thursday, 10/25/01 15:38:55 GMT

Big post vise: Hello Smittys! I am looking for that BIG post vise out there. (7" and BIGGER). I know its out there somewhere. I havea few items for trade. NICE 254 pound Hay Budden blacksmith anvil and a HUGE 300+ pound blacksmith floor shear. Cuts big steel! I am interested in all the other tools, but really want a BIG post vise at this point. I am in Cape Girardeau, MO on the Mississippi River. Feel free to call anytime, (573)651-8963
Ryan Wasson - Thursday, 10/25/01 18:13:10 GMT

I have been lucky enough to be present several times when Emmert Studebaker
  Thomas Powers - Thursday, 10/25/01 20:44:09 GMT

Ringing the Anvil: I have been lucky enough to be present several times when Emmert Studebaker played a tune on the anvil---IIRC it was "Shave and a haircut---2 bits" with several repetitions of the first line.

He used a light ballpeen and used the re-bound of the anvil to get a fast staccato sound from it---the hammer head never got further than a couple of inches from the face. No damage.

I've tried it this way myself once in a while in memory of Emmert.

- Thomas Powers - Thursday, 10/25/01 20:48:16 GMT

Rebound: There are two kinds of rebound. Rebound from elastic deformation with response of two hard materials, and deflection and spring back (technically still elastic deformation but in a different way).

When a hard hammer (or a spherical ball bearing) hits a hard anvil the two surfaces deform localy and then spring back to their original shape. Rebound occurs as the materials return to shape. If either piece is soft and permanently deforms then the energy of the blow is not returned. The harder the material the faster the parts return to shape and the more rebound there is. The amount of deformation may be microscopic but tremondous energy is returned.

On an I-beam the entire beam deflects and springs back when hit heavy blows. The hammer slows down as the beam deflects and is then re-accelerated and rebounds after a noticable pause as the beam straightens back out. Beams are more rigid directly over the web and thus spring back faster. However it is a different response than rebound from hardness.

In both cases the resistance to the blow is also relative to the proportions of the anvil and hammer mass. The greater the difference the less the "anvil" moves from the blow of the fast moving hammer. This analysis must be imagined as happening in space where both bodies are free to move and their mass is the only thing controling motion (like billiard balls on a smooth flat table).

In this case a true anvil is a compact mass that deflects little and the physics is very simple. However, a beam is not a compact mass and the large deflection results in lag time between when the masses colide and when they react.

In the end the mass of the beam and the hammer react much the same a hammer and anvil. But the time lag and delayed response is something that creates a much different feel including work bouncing on the beam.
- guru - Thursday, 10/25/01 21:24:30 GMT

"Big Post Vise": I have a big 6" one I use, plus 5 other smaller ones.Also have 2 Champion Blowers , and more goodies. The shipping cost from here would be very costly. Unless you a truck driver coming this way...
Barney - Friday, 10/26/01 03:30:59 GMT

bounce test: I've been reading on your sight about bounce tests as an index of anvil quality. I tested my 432 pound Hoffheinz anvil by dropping it onto the driveway but it did not bounce at all, just sank right in. Does this mean it would not be suitable for making sowrds and daggurs? Thanx.
Randy Olson - Saturday, 10/27/01 03:43:13 GMT

Not sunk into the driveway. . . Unless you happen to be less than 3 feet (90cm) tall. . . :)
- guru - Saturday, 10/27/01 04:32:56 GMT

Laura Fraser: is the actress I mentioned above refering to "A Knight's Tale". She was born in Scotland and now lives in England and has had nummerous film roles. She plays Kate the "farress" (farrier) who becomes the armourer for the knight William. Fine actress, lousy blacksmith.
- guru - Saturday, 10/27/01 18:02:13 GMT

TAPING THE ANVIL: Sorry I got everybody upset about taping the anvil and mentioning Uri Hofi doing this. Watched him at SOFA two days. He usualy lightly tap three times at different times. His explanation is what I quoted before. He can move some metal for someone taping the anvil. We did get some good responses. I'm not even going to mention what he said about anvil styles, don't want to start another frenzy.
Dave - Saturday, 10/27/01 22:20:35 GMT

taping the anvil: I'm trying to do everything like you guys say, but nothing works. When I bounce-tested my anvil, the Guru just giggles, and now that I've taped my anvil, stuff just kind of oozes into it. Did I maybe I use the wrong tape? I used duck tape for the first three layers, then some electrical splicing tape in the high-impact zones. But it just burns and smells bad when I put hot work down on it. Is this right? I want to do it just right like real blacksmiths do.
Randy - Sunday, 10/28/01 00:40:42 GMT

Sorry Randy...wrong meaning of the word tap.
You see the blacksmith's anvil is actually a hollow vessel full of fine brandy.
The blacksmith pulls the plug and screws in a small tap, that he opens to fortify his coffee..frequently, while forging.
So just toss all that burned tape away and forge yourself a modest shotglass.
If you never knew about the brandy in your anvil all these years, then it should be nicely aged by now
  Pete - Sunday, 10/28/01 08:15:06 GMT

i saw uri at the FABA conference recently and he not only tapped the anvil but also taped the anvil. he was forging matching tapers. when the first one was finished he stuck a wide strip of masking tape on the anvil and "branded" ir with the first taper. he then used the resulting "template" to compare the second tapet as he forged it. i thought it was simple and precise. i suspect he did not need the visual aid but i appreciate him including it in the demo for us less adept.
  dennis k. smith - Sunday, 10/28/01 13:59:12 GMT

Demo methods: Dennis, you are probably right that Uri didn't need the tape guide. Most smiths do not need fancy templates, patterns or guides to make identical parts. In most cases a craftsperson can gauge parts by eye to tolerances too small to mention. Most smiths cut a piece of steel to length and the resulting parts will all be the same. Potters weigh their lumps of clay and produce identical pots by eye. There are many other crafts that similar methods are used.

However, lots of newbies repeatedly ask "how do you make identical parts" and most demonstrators have given in to making a large part of their demonstration over to measurment and layout skills that they would never use in their own shops or teach their apprentices.

I'm not saying that layout is not a necesary skill. Precision layout is often just as important to the smith as to the machinist. But demands by the unskilled have distorted what is taught at many blacksmithing demonstrations.
- guru - Sunday, 10/28/01 19:45:41 GMT

Anvil Tape: For cold weather protection - Heat tape goes around the waist of the anvil in a non-overlaping wrap. That is followed by a layer of Kaowool blanket covered by non-adhesive fiberglass tape held in place by a couple of hog rings (or safety pins if you are a yuppy that doesn't know what hog rings are).

At night lay your hammer on the anvil and cover hammer and anvil with a heavy insulating blanket or fur (those in artic countries will know what type is best). In the morning your anvil and hammer will be warm and not subseptable to cold weather brittle fracture.

This will also keep the brandy at room temperature as is best. But I prefer a dry slightly fruity white or blush wine like a California mountain white Zinfendel and let my anvil chill it since it rarely gets cold enough here to need to tape my anvil.
- guru - Sunday, 10/28/01 19:59:57 GMT

Fur: Wolverine, or Wolf
Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 10/29/01 00:12:53 GMT

Tapping the Anvil: I also watched Uri Hofi and Tom Clark at Madison and recently at FABA in Barberville at the Pioneer Settelment. The anvil tapping I saw was a communication between smith and striker. It was a beautiful thing, a "dance" to use Mr. Hofi's term. These two venerable smiths work two hammers as one. When Mr. Hofi finished hammering he gently tapped the anvil signaling to the striker, Mr. Clark, that they were done with that heat. Upon another heat he tapped again to start the cycle again. Their hammers were in perfect rhythm, flawless as a metronome. Their experience makes it look isnt.
R. Guess - Tuesday, 10/30/01 00:02:39 GMT

Tape Worms: We're all gonna get 'em, if we stay on this subject. One of Uri's early strikers that he brought to the U.S. was named Tsur Sadan. The translation from Hebrew is, "Rock Anvil". I was jealous; why was I not given a name like that? I asked Tsur how long it took him to learn the striking system, and he said, "One year".

Anyway, regarding all methods of striker signaling, beware of medicine shows and parlor tricks.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 10/30/01 13:31:52 GMT

Names: After several years of traveling and demonstrating blacksmithing in Virginia I had influenced numerous folks to get into the business. Much to my chagrin the first two I heard of were in Vesuvius and Damascus Virginia. What GREAT addresses for blacksmiths! Bruce Wallace's shop is in an ancient Pennsylvania blacksmith shop that is the second on the same site. His mailing address is Blacksmith Lane. Now if that was in a town named Vesuvius or Damascus. . . .

Hmmmm. . . Rock Anvil's Forge, Blacksmith Lane, Vesuvius. .
- guru - Tuesday, 10/30/01 17:28:21 GMT

Strikers : Teams of strikers are great to watch but power hammers are cheaper and more dependable. But if you want the same force per blow (as the over head technique used by Hoffi) then think about 300 and 500 pound hammers. . . (power hammers don't have nearly the velocity [thus force] of hand hammers).

Years ago I gave away my 4 pound hammer because it hurt to use it for any time. But recently I bought a box of tools that had an 8 pound (3630g) sledge with the handle cut short for hand use. I wouldn't want to try to use it for more than a few blows but combined with a heavy anvil (200# up) it realy moves some metal. Worked great flattening 1" (25mm) square stock.
- guru - Tuesday, 10/30/01 17:47:06 GMT

Jock, you da man!
Is there anyway short of heat taping the whole shop to prevent the kind of rust that forms on sensitive items due to dew (condesation) in unheated but protected space. I am referring to an unheated shop but of course you can't really call the space it encloses dry without quantifiing the moisture content of the air the walls and roof define. Let's just call it protected space to prevent the word-jocks
from slicing and dicing. The guy I bought my lathe from said to cover it with a wool blanket. Other thoughts were to put a light under it or use a fan. I've noticed moisture forming selectively on random items. I'm sure Cracked could explain why and develope an antimoisture magnet to attract non-aqueous molecules to designated surfaces but alas he is in hiding (or on a job). Thanks for your thoughts, kind and gernerous sirs.
P.S. Jock, I met a man who loaned me a copy of
  l.sundstrom - Wednesday, 10/31/01 00:51:38 GMT

how to run an lathe: Hey I got cut off .. "how to Run a Lathe". It's a beautiful book. Any suggestions on how to find a copy to buy.
- l.sundstrom - Wednesday, 10/31/01 00:54:25 GMT

Condensation X: Larry.....One word....


Dip everything in Cosmoline.

Just kidding!

Have you tried covering the stuff with a plastic sheet? Sometimes the condensation will collect on top of the sheet. Someone mentioned that a while back. Unfortunately, there are some conditions where it will collect on the underside of the sheet instead and drip on the equipment.

A drop sheet that goes all the way to the floor to seal out most of the air flow and a small heat source usually works. Gotta stop the air flow though. Heat only raises the ability for the air to hold water molecules. If you keep adding water molecules, it may eventually still condense. Is this a closed enough space that you can dehumidify?

Or are we talking small stuff that can be put in containers or drawers with silica gel packs or treated paper or tablets?
Tony - Wednesday, 10/31/01 02:46:32 GMT

Leg Vise: I purchased an 85 lbs. vise with 5 1/2 inch jaws in excellent condition at an auction this weekend. The name/logo stamped onto the side was "Iron City" & the words were within a 6 pointed star.

Is this a common, or known name for iron working tools?
- Mike S - Wednesday, 10/31/01 03:57:30 GMT

Condensation: I too am anxious to learn how to cope with a wet building. The building I'd like to set up my forge in is an old concrete block garage built around 1917. It has a tin roof & the floor is very thick concrete. When ever there's a change in the weather (especially in the late winter/early spring) it will sweat so much, it looks like a water pipe broke.

Any advise is appreciated.
Mike S - Wednesday, 10/31/01 04:03:27 GMT

Cracked got told to put a sock in it by the humphy-grumphies amongst the brethren and so, alas, went off with Chastity Dangerfield, Yummi DeLisch and Swarf, in a sniffy huff to the forge to work on, he grumbled, a riveting machine. Haha, riveting machine indeed! I'll just bet I know what kind of riveting's going on in there. That's a 1937 Huff, by the way, the hard-to-find one with the wooden brakes. How to Run a Lathe and tons of other groovy lathe and machine shop books in general are available from Lindsay Books. They're on the net. If you don't know about them, put your plastic out of reach before looking-- and certainly before calling. Rust from ambient H2O: Cosmoline or lotsa WD-40 is a good answer. Yrs. in safe smiting, Miles Undercut, acting provost, Cracked Anvil Center for Analysis
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 10/31/01 04:48:51 GMT

Condensation: One key item. DO NOT USE DETERGENT MOTOR OIL! The detergent is designed to absorb moisture. In the automobile engine the water is evaporated out of the oil every time the engine is run. Typical engine oil temperatures being about 325-350 F. On machinery the oil absorbs moisture and you get rust UNDER oil. . . places where the oil is wiped thin rust worse than claen metal.

Oiling every surface is important (please don't come look at the rust in my shop. . ). But use non-detergent oil. Plain mineral oil or any non-additive lubricating oil.

I spray the ways and bare working parts of my lathe with WD-40 after every use. The 6" Craftsman is then covered with a soft cotten mechanics fender cover. This is mostly to keep dirt out of the oil. This machine is 20 feet from the mill pond and in front of several broken windows and a hole in the wall. . Rust has not been a problem.

Note that WD-40 is OK. Liquid Wrench is NOT. It and other rust breaking "lubricants" contain chemicals that eventualy promote more rust.

The problem is that I have too much non-operating machinery that does not get such good treatment. Wood working machinery is the biggest problem. My band saw has a big porus grey iron table. I oil it occasionaly. But oil and wood don't mix so it must be wiped down before use and sawdust does a GREAT job of removing the remainder. . so it often rusts.

But, oil and care help a LOT. Keep a can of WD-40 setting on every machine (and USE it).

In a closed building you can run a dehumidifier. It will dry the moisture in the blocks, bricks and even wood making the environment generaly drier all the time. However, a dehumidifier can cost as much to run as a window air conditioner. Run it in the fall and spring when the temperatures have those up and downs that promote condensation. In the summer run a window air conditioner. This both dries and cools the shop. The dehumidifier will slightly warm the shop. In real winter weather condensation is not a problem.

Condensation on heavy metal is worse than rain or a broken water pipe. It adheres to surfaces where other water would not. I've seen every surface of my anvils, swage blocks and weld platten covered with water that looks 3/16" deep EVEN on the underside of the anvil's horns! WD-40 works on anvils too.
- guru - Wednesday, 10/31/01 05:51:38 GMT

hammer inna basket: Ran across an old steam hammer in a basket ( read pile) in!....see
- Pete F - Wednesday, 10/31/01 07:15:23 GMT

Cracked: Let me weigh in a large vote against the humpy-grumpy faction and for Cracked and his sordid if ephemeral crew!
Condensation?? Take it easy, go greasy.
- Pete F - Wednesday, 10/31/01 07:28:38 GMT

WD40, condensation ruminations: What makes WD40 work is wax. WD stands for water displacing and 40 is the number of trial formulae before success (or saying good enough). Wax in a solvent or solvent mixture. The solvents evaporate and leave a wax film. This is one reason you don't want to use WD 40 on stuff like gun trigger mechanisms. You eventually get a waxy buildup that gums up the works. Good to use on outside surfaces though.

There are other wax/solvent formulae out there. I'm testing a pump for a customer with a relatively thick wax mixture now.

Hmmm... what about car wax on stuff like lathe ways and cast tables? Wax does not stop the diffusion of water and oxygen molecules. Just like most coatings including paint, you can't stop the water. Just slow it down. But I think car wax is better than the film that WD40 leaves. Obviously more work than squirting with the WD40 spray bottle though. I do use NON SILICONE car wax on my woodworking equipment tables. Works good. No silicone because silicone screws up many wood finishes.

There is a product that Boeing developed. Called Boeshield. Available in spray can. Many of the woodworking places have it. It is supposed to stop the surface rust on equipment and cast tables, etc. I've never tried it, nor do I know what it is. Has anyone else?

I use WD40 on my outside anvil and then cover it with a section of big old inner tube to keep driving rain off. But the WD40 only lasts about 2 weeks in that environment. If it's humid and the anvil is colder than the air, I get all kinds of condensation under the inner tube and the WD40 can't cope.

Mike S, that's what's happening on your concrete floor most of the time too. Humid air above the colder concrete floor. The concrete cools the air directly above it to below the dew point and voila! The water drops out of the air as condensation. Yes, there is some moisture coming up from the soil under the slab too, but in most shop cases, it's condensed air moisture. Always use 2 layers of 6 mil plastic sheeting under concrete floors to reduce the movement of soil moisture. Kinda hard to add it after the fact.

When the entire air mass is cooled to below the dew point, the condensation will drop out onto plastic covers on equipment or the equipment itself if uncovered. And if the underside of the roof is cooler than the hot moist air in the building, you can get condensation on the underside of the roof and rain IN a building. Cool, huh? That's why steam room ceilings need to be sloped. So the condensation runs over to a wall instead of dripping annoyingly on the people inside.

Yeah, like the Guru said, dehumidifiers cost a bunch to run. A dehumidifier is very much like a refrigerator or air conditioner, but it is cooling a coil and blowing the air across the cold coil gently. The coil cools the air below the dew point and the moisture collects on the coil and drops down into the pan or down the drain. Trying to dehumidify an open space is futile. Air movement brings more water molecules with it.

Just moving the air around with a fan will work to a degree, but moving the air doesn't give it much more ability to hold the water molecules. If you are just on the ragged edge, a fan would be an economical way to solve the problem, though.

The bottom line is that if you want to reduce condensation, you either have to reduce the number of water molecules in the air through dehumidification or raise the ability of the air to hold the water molecules by adding energy (heat) to the air.

If anyone wants more info on relative humidity, dew point, etc, let me know. Like most things, I find it interesting! But I don't want to bore you to tears.
Tony - Wednesday, 10/31/01 13:32:39 GMT

Star of David: Mike S., I've also wondered about the IRON CITY tools. I can only guess that they were made in either Pittsburgh or Gary, IN, by a Jewish entrepreneur. They are fairly common. My 7 1/4" leg vise is Iron City, very well made, and I have a couple of top tools so stamped. Anyone else have any info?
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/31/01 13:56:04 GMT

rust: Problems due to dew do require special care. I appreciate the research Jock has done on this problem going to the trouble of breaking windows in his shop and placing it in a very damp location in order to provide sage advice and prove his recommendations. I belong to the dew rises school of thought. I think it comes up out of the ground, goes through the concrete floor, mixes with drier air, and then when the temp drops in the air bearing it, it forms on cool ferrous surfaces. Therefore, covering something with plastic traps moisture and can lead to rain out. The shop where I live is on high ground, has a good roof and unbroken windows. Not every thing rusts that could rust. Anvils seem to be very water loving, but my drill presses not so much. My concern is to keep rust off my lathe.
A soft cover to allow water vapor to escape and WD-40 to make it smell nice seems to be the way to go since the electric bill figures in to the formula and therefore rules out a dehumidifier.

Tectual analysis, along with color trending have led this investigator to suspect that Cracked has not totally abandoned us but rather, has assumed a new handle. Similarities in Undercuts syntax and a careful consideration of his name link the two as perhaps the same source. Cracked may have thought that the image he was generating was a "cut" above his truer self and therefore, lowering expectation by miles undercut his persona.
- l.sundstrom - Wednesday, 10/31/01 14:39:16 GMT

Thanks Tony, we must have been writting at the same time.
Drill presses don't seem to be things that bore with tears.
they seem to stay dry.
- l.sundstrom - Wednesday, 10/31/01 14:45:48 GMT

The Committee for Image, Manners and Morals-- IMAM (think of us as the Taliban of blacksmithing)-- wants you all to know that this is a Serious Business. Cracked forgot that and got what he deserved. And the same can happen to you if you don't shape up. We're watching you. You know who you are. No more joking, now, you hear? And we've noticed that some of you have been carrying no pocket rules, or rules calibrated only in 8ths and 16ths. Get 32nds and 64ths, pronto! Notice: we'll be wearing red suspenders next week. The topic: a new look at austenite for tomorrow's blacksmiths!
IMAM - Wednesday, 10/31/01 15:14:53 GMT

Morals: Morals Alert! I'm not gonna say who, but one of the smiths here abouts has some nudity on his site. IMAM, you'd better get on this right away. We don't want to be enjoying the sublime proportions of the human body. In fact, there was some contact between these nude female bodies and likenesses of animals! Beastiality, no less, and/or animal idolatry. I won't say who because that could lead some impressionables to the site. Some investigative work is required here.

Cripes, where is the ABANA board? They trashed that anvil shooting thing but let this kind of infarction stand?? Hipocrisy!

Thank heavens there's a comittee to help save us from ourselves!

On your knees are pray for forgiveness o unclean brothers!

And please make those contribution checks out to.....

maybe caffeine should be illegal?
Tony - Wednesday, 10/31/01 16:20:21 GMT

gas forge: Its one thing to wear bibs every day and every where I go ,but I draw the line at RED suspenders. Now on a seiours note I am the proud owner of a homemade 3 burner gas forge. At 15 lbs. pressure for an hour on lp it won't get to welding heat. Should I add air in thru the gas orifaces to increase temp, also would reducining the fire box size with more firebrick help? Thanks Stiffy
Stiffy - Wednesday, 10/31/01 19:23:15 GMT

Not Hot Enough: Stiffy, I could be either you don't have enough gas or you got too much. . . A properly adjusted gas forge has a roar. Blower types reverberate enough to shake your anvil off its stand if you don't adjust it off that lion like bass note.

Firebox size must be carefully balanced to the capacity of the burners. Too big and you don't have enough back pressure. Too little and the gas burns outide the forge in the exhuast. . .

Having no door or reduced opening can create the same problem as being too big. You gotta have some back pressure to get a good heat. The back pressure forces the gas to burn IN the forge AND increases the temperature by increasing the density of the available oxygen. .

balsnce, balance, balance. . . That's why I recommend blower burners. Most have more capacity than needed and can be adjusted back to "just right". Atmospheric burners must be matched to the forge volume. And if they don't have an adjustable air inlet they must be designed perfectly. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 10/31/01 21:03:25 GMT

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