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October 2006 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

auction treasures: Went to a large estate auction today. The guy had been either a boiler maker or iron worker from the types of tools & the paint on them. Drug home a truck load of goodies including an 85lb. post vice in excellent condition for less than 20 bucks.

I cant get over what the scrap guys are paying for scrap piles these days. I pulled out some 1" black pipe from one of the piles & got it cheap. I got enough to make several legs for old forges.
- Mike Sa - Saturday, 09/30/06 23:18:39 EDT

Order from Anvilfire: Guru,
i would like to thank you for the prompt and excellent service i recieved this week in ordering my ITC-100, it arrived excellently packed 3 days after the order was processed!
thanks again
MikeKruzan - Sunday, 10/01/06 00:10:10 EDT

Questions about some brands...:

I've been looking at some tools and parts recently, and I wanted the opinions of some more experienced folks on brands. Specifically, I've been looking at some DeVilbiss compressor heads, and some Ampro air tools. I have heard mostly good things about DeVilbiss, but I haven't heard anything about Ampro despite them being priced like mid-to-upper quality tools. Thoughts?
T. Gold - Sunday, 10/01/06 05:40:32 EDT

Tool Review: Tyler,

DeVilbiss makes what I consider to be about the best siphon-feed spray gun going, and there are a lot of their old compressors out there, still giving good service after twenty or more years. That said, when I needed a new compressor, I bought an Ingersoll-Rand T-30, the workhorse of the industry. Better price on it, and top of the line I-R quality.

As for the Ampro tools, I've used one or two of them and didn't like them any more or any less than I-R, Chicago, and a few others. With the exception of spray guns, I've never had to make my living using air tools, so my opinion should be discounted a good bit. The guys who use them every day can give you better info on the Ampro. They're made in Taiwan, basically knock-offs of I-R and other American-made industrial tools. Personally, if I was going to spend mid to upper level dollars, I'd buy Ingersoll Rand. You can still get parts for almost any I-R tool ever made.
vicopper - Sunday, 10/01/06 09:53:27 EDT

Spray gun: At one point in time, at least, Binks was considered top-of-the-line.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 10/01/06 10:03:08 EDT

I-R and spray guns:
When I last saw a spray gun at an I-R booth they were selling De-Vibliss. But they had several lines at different quality levels. Most auto paint stores sell a range of lines and may be able to give you the straight dope.
- guru - Sunday, 10/01/06 10:38:10 EDT

More Spray Guns:
I do not recommend them but I have had a Sears Craftsman spray gun for many years (since about 1970). It has a cam-lock canister system and I bought an extra canister for it. I have used it to paint cars, trucks and motorcycles including fancy custom work. The last thing I used it for was lacquering musical instruments. It has performed OK but has an uneven spray pattern heavy at the bottom (always has).

Like many Craftman tools it was orphaned a few years after I bought it so there have never been parts. This is a good reason to by a reputable brand name product made by people that care.

You never want a screw on canister. The threads get gummed up with paint and they are difficult to get on and off. The cam lock type are the only way to go. I used a full quart sized can for fancy air brush type work on autos and motorcycles with good results. However you can't make fine lines with a common spray gun.

You will want extra canisters. You need at LEAST one extra just to keep thinner in to put on the gun while cleaning and mixing paint in the other canister. If you can get tops for the canisters then get them. Today if I was buying a new gun I would get at least 3 canisters. If I was planning on doing spray painting in a business setting I would get 4 or 5 AND tops for all.

Keeping a spray gun clean is almost more expensive than the gun itself. Lacquer thinner must be used for cleaning even when enamel paint has been used. It will cut dried enamel AND lacquer where mineral spirits will only soften dried enamel and won't touch lacquer. NEVER start a painting project without a gallon of thinner for cleaning on hand.

Quick disconnects are handy but they are heavy cludgy things that add weight to the spray gun and stiffness to the hose. I attach a light hose "stinger" about 5 feet long directly to the gun and put a QD on the end of that.

If you have a number of types of quick disconnects in your shop STOP and replace them all with the same type.
- guru - Sunday, 10/01/06 11:08:10 EDT

Gold: has any one ever tried to collect gold from scap computer or electronics useing aqua regia or reverse electroplating?
- Scyld - Sunday, 10/01/06 15:27:26 EDT

Auction Treasures II: On the way home from my folks today, came by a Sunday auction in a small town near us. Picked up an old tall cast base that had once been part of a tire changer from the 20's. It will make a nice base for Throated bead roller.
I also got a 45lb. leg vice, in good condition for under 20 bucks. It's been a Vice-o-Rama this weekend.

We got there in time for the "dollar-a-pile" portion of the sale, which is usually the best part!
- Mike Sa - Sunday, 10/01/06 18:37:32 EDT

Air tool quality.
When buying air tools over the years for the valve company I bought CP, IR and Soiux. All industrial quality. Each brand often had as many as ten to twenty models of 1/2" impact gun. They ran from $75 to $2500. I noticed that one company would improve for a couple of years while the others would slide. Then another would come up to best.
My millwrights would ONLY use Souix. Light and tuff and strong. These were much more intermittant duty than the assembly dept that ran them all day every day.
Avoid anything pnuematic from HF.
ptree - Sunday, 10/01/06 20:19:57 EDT

Spray guns: Yes, BInks makes a pretty good gun. I've owned a couple of their old trust #7 guns, but I still prefer the DeVilbiss. The Binks didn't have a drip-proof cap, which the DeVilbiss did, and the pattern on the DeVilbiss was far more unifor when using thinned lacquers. For enamels, the BInks was fine, but with really thin suff for painting plastic sign faces and the like, the DeVilbiss was the best, bar none. I painted sever hundred thousand square fdeet of sign faces with just one DeVilbiss gun, as well as a few dozen cars and other oddments.

Currently, I am using a knock-off of a DeVilbiss sold by Harbor Freight, I think. It isn't quite as good as the real thing, but the parts interchange and it still out-performs my Binks.

As Jock said, guns with screw-on cannisters are junk and should be outlawed.

These days, the deal is supposed to be the high-volume low-pressure units. Supposedly, the produce much less overspray and produce a very uniform spray pattern. Possible, I suppose, but I'm sticking with what I know how to use. I'd be interested to hear from someone who has experience with standard siphon-fed guns and has tried out the HVLP guns. It might be the proverbial better mousetrap.
vicopper - Sunday, 10/01/06 21:03:41 EDT

T Gold - compressor: In the '70s the DeVilbiss was the compressor of choice for auto body shops. I don't know that they were really any better than the other top of the line units, but DeVilbiss had a large market share in that industry, spray guns, compressors & spray booths.
Dave Boyer - Monday, 10/02/06 00:15:25 EDT

At Quad-State I found a copy of Southwestern Colonial Ironwork: The Spanish Blacksmithing Tradition from Texas to California by Marc Simmons and some guy named Frank Turley. It is listed as #280034322523.
Ken Scharabok - Monday, 10/02/06 07:57:11 EDT

Anchoring into Stone: I posted this elsewhere and thought I would see what you guys had to say on the subject matter.

Many a house has my railings inside, I have been doing fence and gate work for a while but never into fine stone masonry.I have just finished a two piece gate that swings open in the center, hinged from the sides approximately 48in across. It is to be set into a hard sandstone, the posts I need to set into the first step are 1"square so need 1 1/4 inch holes and the sides or tops of these posts have brackets that anchor into the vertical surface with 1/2 bolts with lead anchors that need 7/8 inch holes. I have a stone mason drilling the holes.

I want to know how others would anchor this job and what mortar or epoxy would you use to fill and seal the holes around the posts into the first step. The stone is thick sandstone slab with big stone blocks on the verticals. No problem drilling. Mortar is currently black and I would like to keep the same look if possible. Is there a black mortar that has an epoxy base?

I dont' want to make any mistakes on this one, not only is the piece a real work and top notch, its also a big show piece as it will be seen in the heart of town by thousand of passersby.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
- mark at frogvalleyforge - Monday, 10/02/06 10:03:10 EDT

Anchor: Mark. My first thought would be epoxy. My son has set a lot of industrial railings using epoxy and finally convinced me to try it. Now if I have a railing to put in on concrete I automatically go for the epoxy. Keep in mind that all epoxys (epoxies?) are not created equal. There are several differnt formulas for different applications. You want to make sure to read the package to make sure that you get the right kind. I'm sure that there will be others here that have more experience than I, at least lets hope there is, but that's my thoughts.
Doug - Monday, 10/02/06 12:18:31 EDT

more rust: I stopped at a flea market in Albuquerque this Sat and picked up a RR spike hammer - one end is pointy while the other is blunt and mushroomed as if it had been used as a set tool. Is this the proper way to use a spike hammer? I thought it wasa striking tool - "when John Henry was a little bitty boy...." ?

I also picked up a plow disk just for fun. I think this may be HC steel - perhaps I could make a knife out of it? These are the days to beat our plowshares into swords.
adam - Monday, 10/02/06 12:43:11 EDT

Plow disks are 1070 or 1080.
- Burnt Forge - Monday, 10/02/06 13:33:04 EDT

Plow discs: Plow discs do not a good knife make.
That being said, my dad and I make a bath of tomahawks outta them when i was in boy scouts. We just cut out a tomahawk shape with the torch, cleaned up the edges , and bent the backside around a mandrel to make the eye. We also made a few for ourselves, but on ours we welded the eye shut (buzzboxed it) then forge them out to look like a forge weld (this was back when my forge welding skills were even more non-existant than they are now).
They wouldn't hold a sharp edge, but they would hold a blunt edge. And even though they weren't balanced on both sides of the eye, we could get them to stick about 90 percent of the time that we actually hit the target.
thesandycreekforge - Monday, 10/02/06 14:52:36 EDT

Plow disks can be a number of alloys depending on the age and area they are from.

Sandy Creek Forge: how did you heat treat the ony you mention? I can take 1090 or O1 and make it so it won't keep an edge but they are fine knife steels when properly heat treated.

Thomas P - Monday, 10/02/06 15:40:40 EDT

plow disks: ah thanks burnt & sandy - perhaps a vegetable chopper like I saw in Weygers book
adam - Monday, 10/02/06 15:43:24 EDT

Adam: Don't think of it as a veggie chopper. Think of it more like an Ulu, a more manly bit of cutlery. Try to envision yourself gnawing on a fresh piece of muktuk. There, now, doesn't that just REEK with testosterone?
3dogs - Monday, 10/02/06 16:32:16 EDT

3dogs; *aged* muktuk; 6 months or more in a pit in the ground not only reeks it drips testosterone!

(I don't do garum, thousand year old eggs or aged muktuk!)
Thomas P - Monday, 10/02/06 16:43:47 EDT

Anchoring Epoxy:
The proper material for this is sold but industrial fastener shops and the tubes require a special gun and consumable mixer tips. The gun will run just under $100. All I have used was a grey-black.

Be prepared to move fast, set things in perfect alignment AND not make a mess. Epoxy on the stonework will not clean off. Mask off the surrounding surfaces, have temporary supports and be prepared to get rid of excess epoxy. It sets fast so you have no second chances.

I would not use ANY other epoxy. Most of the common "glues" have so much filler in them that they do not harden properly.

The classical method of anchoring in stone is with poured lead. A mold or dam is made around each picket or post so that it creates a shoulder above the stone that can be dresses. The dam is made with Damtite and a sheet metal liner or ring. After pouring the lead it often shrinks. But haveing extra it can be tightened and dressed to a nice moulded ring using a hammer, chisles and files. This is typical of exterior work. On interior work it is tightened with a caulking iron and dressed flush to the stone.

I've used concrete products like Rockite and had it fail miserably. It may work for some but not for me. In all cases if you are using a mortar/concrete type product it must be non-shrinking.
- guru - Monday, 10/02/06 16:55:13 EDT

. . sold BY industrial fasterner shops . .
- guru - Monday, 10/02/06 16:56:20 EDT

Plow Discs: Back in the late 70's we were making them from Crucible Steels Ketos grade of O1 at Crucible's Midland, PA plant on equipment that was old before my grandfather went to work for them pre-Depression. It was an oil quench line installed in the 1890's. Good, but expensive product - eventually lost out to low cost foreign producers. Ketos would make a fine knife, and is I believe still available on the market, just made by other Crucible plants.
- Gavainh - Monday, 10/02/06 23:30:13 EDT

Mark - Epoxy: Being a boat guy I tend to use West System products for most of my epoxy needs. In this case I would use #105 resin, #206[slow] hardener and #404 high density filler. You would need to add lamp black to get a black color. With this epoxy You don't have to worry about getting too much filler, it is really strong even at "peanutbutter" consistancy. If You don't use enough filler the exotherm becomes an issue. I would make it almoast too thick to pour. Personally I have had sucess with hydraulic cement, and would probably use that as it is much cheaper. There was an interesting discusion on ancoring railings on a month or two ago, You might check the archives over there.
Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 10/03/06 01:05:54 EDT

plow disc 'hawk: Thomas P.
If i remember correctly, we figured that the plow disc would logically be a tough steel, so we heated a very thin line along the edge (maybe 1/4" or so) and held just the edge in the water while the rest cooled to a semi-touchable temperature. The reasoning being that the very edge of the hawk would hold an edge and be backed up by unhardened (less brittle) steel. Come to find out the blade would not hold a fine edge, so we just filed down a somewhat blunt edge and used them for throwing.

Since them I have gained a comparably great amount of knowledge about the properties of steel and tempering (thanks to many books and great websites like this one) and if I had to try it again would probably do it a little different.

Now I'm gonna have to dig out one of those tomahawks...

-Aaron @ the SCF
thesandycreekforge - Tuesday, 10/03/06 01:10:44 EDT

Ulu's aren't manly, they are a womans knife.
JimG - Tuesday, 10/03/06 08:36:23 EDT

ULU'S (Uli?): OK, JimG, I'll compromise with ya. They're bisexual. (You wanna hear scary? Picture an Inuit Rabbi (?!) with one.
3dogs - Tuesday, 10/03/06 09:39:32 EDT

super quench: Hi All
I haven't been around much as of late, been a bit busy... got married, started a new shop and with two new partners.. moved etc...
I came back looking for the super quench formula ....and after surching through the site for the last hour or so I have now given up and am humbly begging some help..... any one got the formula handy?

My new parnerships web site
matthew Parkinson - Tuesday, 10/03/06 11:48:35 EDT

Super Quench: Three clicks, NAVIGATE, FAQ's, Quenchants,
- guru - Tuesday, 10/03/06 13:05:28 EDT

Matthew: Hi Matt
Nice website. You fellas make some nice iron work and weapons.

- Burnt Forge - Tuesday, 10/03/06 13:35:18 EDT

thank you Guru: I looked for it in all the wrong places ....I was tring to search the archives.... lots of hits and to much to read when I have work to be done.
burnt forge
thanks, we just got the web site up and are still tweeking it, in the middle of bidding on anouther largeish job and working a Renn to love working for your self....
matthew Parkinson - Tuesday, 10/03/06 15:40:58 EDT

Frank, Adam; there is a 25# powerhammer for sale in Albuquerque if you know someone hankering for one!

Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/03/06 18:34:47 EDT

SuperQuench: How well does a batch weather cold temperatures? I wouldn't think freezing would be a problem due to the salt & soap, but don't want to waste a batch if it doesn't like getting too cold. Any opinions?
- Mike Sa - Tuesday, 10/03/06 21:05:04 EDT

Check in from the road: Reporting in from fun city Detroit tonight. Flew into Flint the other night & stayed in Frankenmuth, Mi. Thought I was staying in the middle of nowhere, but turned out to be a town full of tourist stuff. I'll bet there was some ironwork there somewhere, but didn't have time to look around. Tomorrow have business in the part of Detroit that you don't want to be caught after dark, then home from there thru St.Louis. How can I get anything at home done when I'm gone so much.....if only that lucky lottery ticket would come thru.....
- Mike Sa - Tuesday, 10/03/06 21:10:03 EDT

Gardiner Anvil: Guys,I was wondering if any of you have info about this one. I picked it up used probably 15 years ago. Its a cast anvil, and in raised letters on one side it is marked:

150 LBS
25460 (stamped, and upside down)

The gentleman that I bought it from had it for at least 15 years, and he had acquired it second hand. The only reference that I can find to this manufacturer is that they made crane hooks, and mil-spec fasteners.
Thanks for any and all info,
- Marten Sitic - Tuesday, 10/03/06 21:39:26 EDT

Interesting question, that. See'in as how there is not much hand spike driving being done anymore, they probably have to use it that way. Most real spike driving was done with a 10 pound
- grant - Tuesday, 10/03/06 23:21:25 EDT

strange, most of my post was lost
- grant - Tuesday, 10/03/06 23:23:14 EDT

Bronze: i have heard that tempering bronze is the opposite of steel and a slow cooling hardens the bronze dose any one have any experience with it?
- Anthony - Wednesday, 10/04/06 00:08:51 EDT

Bronze: Anthony,

There are hundreds of bronze alloys and each has specific requirements for hot working and "heat treating." However, the general concept is that bronze, like most non-ferous alloys and metals, is annealed (softened) by heating and quenching. Most copper alloys (bronzes, brasses, etc.) harden primarily by work-hardening and cannot be hardened by heat treating. Slow cooling after heating can reduce the amount that the alloy becomes annealed, but it usually will not harden it.

If you know the exact alloy, you can find the working properties in various metals references and/or from the manufacturer.
vicopper - Wednesday, 10/04/06 08:47:13 EDT

RR Spike Maul: Although online research is not to always be trusted, I did a little bit. The spike mauls, so called, were swung and they were not "top tools". The narrow "nose" of the tool was to avoid hitting the rail by mistake. The spike drivers became highly accurate with the tool. A newspaper account from the late 1800's states that teams of men had specific duties. First, a group laid the spikes on top of the ties; the next group of men drove the spikes in two thirds of the way; it did not say what type of hammer was used to initially set the spikes. The final group drove them home with the spike mauls. Men with pinch bars held the track steady to keep it from jumping out of line, as the spikes were driven.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/04/06 08:56:19 EDT

Perfect hammer: Thanks Thomas and Miles for the heads up on this. Sigh I wish I could - but I have no place for it. I am having trouble figuring out where to put my new beverly shear never mind accommodating a hammer.

In a few years I hope to move to a place where I can set up a real shop with SPACE. Right now I am all crammed into a 2 car garage
adam - Wednesday, 10/04/06 09:39:48 EDT

Spike Hammer: Thanks Frank! I am in two minds whether to clean it up and restore it to hammerhood or to convert it into a sheet metal stake or even a bikern. I also picked up a nice little pickaxe head made by welding HC onto the eyepiece. Very neatly forged
adam - Wednesday, 10/04/06 09:42:54 EDT

Space: Adam,
What the heck? Are you trying to put the cars in the garage or something?
JohnW - Wednesday, 10/04/06 10:27:02 EDT

Cars in garages?: What a concept!
3dogs - Wednesday, 10/04/06 11:05:45 EDT

thanks Vicopper im working on finding a good suply of pure copper so i CAN know whats in it
- Anthony - Wednesday, 10/04/06 12:43:32 EDT

cars: no - that would be silly - cars can visit when they are sick but its strictly on an outpatient basis. But still its not enough space.
adam - Wednesday, 10/04/06 12:51:12 EDT

Adam, you mean you can fit the front end of a car in there? I'm lucky if a bicycle can be squeezed in one of the two big doors, although now that I think about it those big roll-up doors are about the right size to fit a car through... Nah. If cars needed to be indoors they wouldn't have tops and weather seals and such!
Alan-L - Wednesday, 10/04/06 13:14:53 EDT

Anthony most electrical copper is quite pure and can be found in amazing range of sizes though quite expensive nowdays.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/04/06 13:45:52 EDT

vulcan: any body know the date of production of vulcan anvils,i just got one with the number 59 on back of the base and a 7 on the front?
- clark-kentski - Wednesday, 10/04/06 17:07:45 EDT

Does it weigh about 70 pounds? Front number sounds like vulcan's weight indicator. I don't know of any good way to judge date---Ken you got AinA to hand to see if there has been logo changes over time?

Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/04/06 17:42:05 EDT

that what the bathroom scale says 70,im wondering about the 59, date of manufacture ? also seems to put together at the waist ala hay budden is top cast steel ? thanks
clark-kentski - Wednesday, 10/04/06 19:51:06 EDT

adam-- DP Road.
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 10/04/06 21:22:50 EDT

Harley hammerin documentary intro: Jock caught on camera too! :>)
- Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 10/04/06 23:11:50 EDT

I like your video. My favorite part is the cute doggie.
- Burnt Forge - Thursday, 10/05/06 02:38:00 EDT

'lectrical CU: Lessee, now, Thomas, that would include 1/4"x 2" buss bar, wouldn't it? (heh heh heh)
3dogs - Thursday, 10/05/06 03:41:47 EDT

Vulcan: According to my copy of AinA, Vulcan anvils were produced from about 1875 to about 1969. They are steel faced, cast iron. The logo did change 3 times. The first version had the trademark low on the base, between the feet. The trademark had the Pat date on the lower part of the logo circle. The second version, the trademark is higher on the side of the anvil, more of an oval than circule and used the word BRAND instead of the Pat. date. On the 3rd version the word BRAND is replaced with "Reg. US Pat OFF". AinA does not list dates for when these changes occured other thann to to state that the last change came in the 20th century.
- Dennis M - Thursday, 10/05/06 10:16:02 EDT

Vulcan: Just the face is steel and pretty thin at that compared to a Fisher. The waist marking is probably a mold mark as that is where you'd expect a parting line.

Thomas P - Thursday, 10/05/06 10:38:04 EDT

Cars in garage/shop:
I like to keep a clear space big enough to pull a pickup truck body in for unloading. This also assures that you have some assembly and work space. But to have space for a whole automobile!
- guru - Thursday, 10/05/06 11:34:21 EDT

John Lowther: I've heard rumors that there are some neighborhoods with uppity, deed-empowered neighborhood associations which REQUIRE that cars be kept in garages with the doors closed. What a horrifying waste of space! I'm perplexed as to why anyone would buy into such a neighborhood. . . You'd think such a bunch of busybody, interfering neighbors would make the houses a lot cheaper. . .
John Lowther - Thursday, 10/05/06 13:22:37 EDT

OOPS: Wrong box. . .
John Lowther - Thursday, 10/05/06 13:23:45 EDT

John Lowther: I suppose, if a guy lived in such a neighborhood, and he had a little money, then maybe the Indiana solution might work. Just punch out a big entry way in one or two garage walls and build a lean-to, or two. If that fills up, lean-to the lean-to.
JohnW - Thursday, 10/05/06 15:34:03 EDT

JohnW, I resemble that remark! :) Just because my 24' x 32' polebarn now has a 9' x 10 lean-to on one end, and a 22.5' x 32' lean-to on a 16' leanto on a 16' lean-to does not mean this can only happen in Indiana. I think it is allowed in KY, OK and TN. :) And i did not punc openings, they are seperate entry.

And I can get the nose of a car into the 24 x 32, barely
- ptree - Thursday, 10/05/06 18:14:26 EDT

ptree; have you tried getting a running start with that car? Might be able to nudge it in a bit further if you had some momentum working for you...

Thomas P - Thursday, 10/05/06 18:30:07 EDT

Leanto: I am considering that option - there's big tree in the way. If I can talk my nbr into helping me we might rent a cherry picker and take down a few trees on both our properties
adam - Thursday, 10/05/06 19:05:01 EDT

video: Burnt, ain't my video. I should have mentioned it was Christopher Price that made it. I believe he's going to be selling copies of the entire thing soon. There is a thread about it on Dong Fogg's forum.
- Tyler Murch - Thursday, 10/05/06 22:38:58 EDT

Another question: So before i make myself sick when zinc is melted i know the fumes are poisonous but do thay last the entire melt or just at first?
- Anthony - Thursday, 10/05/06 23:42:19 EDT

Spike mauls and spray guns: Spike mauls were known as Gandies and the men that used them were Gandy Dancers.
I've had a Binks with a syphon cup for about 25 years, and have never had a bit of trouble with it. I remember paying $107 for it.When I am finished painting, I pour the leftover paint back in the can and seal it. Then I fill the cup 1/2 way with old used thinner, slosh it around, spray some and then put my finger in frontf the nozzle to back flush it. I repeat this using the thinner I poured out of the cup just before painting. Then I fill the cup about 1/2 way with new mineral spirits,and spray some to work it up into the siphon tube. I then remove the nozzle,remove the lid and gun from the cup, being careful not to pull the tube out of the thinner in the cup, drop the nozzle into the cup, and replace the cup. Now the nozzle, cup, gun, and tube are awash in new thinner, and it will be ready to use again. In all these years, I remember only using lacquer thinner once or twice, and that was when I didn't clean the gun out after using it, and left it for several days or weeks.
- Loren T - Friday, 10/06/06 00:43:00 EDT

zinc: the zinc will burn off when the metal gets to about orange hot. There is thick white smoke and greenish flame. Lasts a few minutes and then its gone.
adam - Friday, 10/06/06 07:44:09 EDT

Leanto: Yip, ptree, we're proud to have you in our state. You know, I think I've seen the leanto system used as far east as WV and NC.
JohnW - Friday, 10/06/06 08:39:31 EDT

Melting zinc or brass and bronze with zinc:
As long as the metal is above the flaring point it will produce fumes. This temperature is slightly higher than the melting point for brass and zinc. Note that most bronzes also contain zinc. When casting brass is is usualy ready about the time zinc starts to flare off. If the furnace is shut down then the flaring should stop shortly. If held at too high a temperature (flaring) too long there can be significant zinc losses and the alloy not be what it should when poured. You are also exposing yourself to excess fumes needlessly. In large foundry operatioins the zinc is replaced as needed. In zinc casting flaring means you are way overheated. However, zinc stuck to the exposed area of the crucible will often burn off while the rest of the melt is at considerably lower temperature.

Fluxing the top of the melt or covering it with charcoal powder helps reduce flaring.

When alloying zinc and copper to make brass the copper melts at a much higher temperature alone than when mixed with zinc. You want to heat your zinc first then drop in cut up copper that can become immersed in the zinc. This prevents using excessive heat to melt the copper which greatly oxidizes it.

When heating brass below the forging temperature there are no zinc fumes. When heating brass to the heat treatment point (a very low red) there are no fumes. When brazing PROPERLY there are no or few zinc fumes but it is easy to overheat and flare the brass.
- guru - Friday, 10/06/06 09:15:00 EDT

zinc burn: I have a theory for getting rid of zinc, but before i try it I figured I'll get some feedback. my theory involves a burn barrel at least forty feet downwind of the shop, a hot wood fire in the bottom, drop in the galvanized metal and then get the heck outta the way while it burns off. Any thoughts on this??
thesandycreekforge - Friday, 10/06/06 09:17:26 EDT

I think people who keep have to keep their vehicles in a garage must be ashamed of them. Is a shame.............
JimG - Friday, 10/06/06 10:23:32 EDT

Who's down wind of the burn barrel.

Acid's work better. Or just avaoid galvanized all together.
- guru - Friday, 10/06/06 12:51:04 EDT

Thanks for the heads up on the video. Larry's golden retriever is so cute. I would like to attend next year. It looks like I could be a real contender in the big belly club...BOG. :)
- Burnt Forge - Friday, 10/06/06 13:04:28 EDT

Gosh...After I typed my above message, I thought it may be taken wrong. I meant it with a big old jolly belly being playful.
- Burnt Forge - Friday, 10/06/06 13:09:35 EDT

Neighborhood associations: Some even prohibit parking of trucks without a special permit. I wanted to visit a friend in south Florida (he was very well off.), and I had to park my pick-up at a shopping center and have him pick me up. No vehicles at all on the street, and no trucks in the driveway, except with permit for work or unloading deliveries etc. No vehicles at all in driveways overnight. Cars in driveway were OK except not overnight. I wouldn't want to live there!
- John Odom - Friday, 10/06/06 16:05:36 EDT

HOA: I'm very glad there's no homeowner's association where I live. The local government has to act in accordance with the Constitution. A HOA doesn't.

We do have a citizen's association. They put on a Independence Day parade and make recommendations the County generally ignores. The funny part was when they called my wife trying to get us to join and pay their voluntary dues. My wife wasn't naturalized yet, so she said "I'm not a citizen" and hung up the phone.
Mike B - Friday, 10/06/06 17:44:37 EDT

Doing fairly small brass melts I use the newer american pennies as a zinc refresh source.

BTW the copper content is usually much higher than the zinc content for brass so melting the zinc and adding copper would have copper sticking over the melt.

Traditionally you melt the highest melting metal first and then add the others---preheated is suggested!

Thomas P - Friday, 10/06/06 19:32:40 EDT

Not long after I put a few thousand square feet of pitched corrugated tin roofs over my house and a few outbuildings to replace the idiotic flat roofs thought to be traditional-- this at 7,000 feet in the Rockies where it has been known to snow and rain some-- and probably blinding a few neighbors who'd wrecked my viewscape by building atop escarpments to the south, a new subdivision came into being down the road. Covenants-- this is out in the boonies of New Mexico, mind you-- include: no reflective roof surface, no visible clothes lines, no visible propane tanks, etc. Life in the half-fast lane.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 10/06/06 21:04:27 EDT

Flat Roofs: I hate flat roofs, and I try to avoid them whenever we go out for a lease if I legally can. In any "build-to-suit project, I specifically put in language against flat roofs.

The leaks are hard to find and hard to fix; and all flat roofs, sooner or later, leak.

Just my own personal whipping boy, y'all understand. :-)

I first ran into the concept of covenanted communities while cruising the Severn River in Maryland, with our first Viking ship back in the early '70s. We were told that the community we were passing only allowed you to paint your house in one of six pre-selected colors. The name of the community? "Sherwood Forrest!"

What would Robin Hood do?

(Okay, pretty funny for Vikings. ;-)

Visit your National Parks!
Bruce Blackistone - Friday, 10/06/06 21:40:53 EDT

Sherwood Forest: You can't even get a pizza delivered to an adress there. You have to wait for the guy at the guard box. Those areas [Sherwood Forest & Epping Forest] had summer cottages untill the yuppies moved in and converted them to year round homes.
Dave Boyer - Friday, 10/06/06 23:45:42 EDT

What's really funny about the flat roofs of Santa Fe is, if you go up into the outpost mountain villages that the Spanish set up lonnnnnng ago to protect Santa Fe from incursions from the East, the roofs are... steeply-pitched. As they should be. This territorial style so-called flatness is an absurd affectation, a harking back to a benighted era when people either did not have a sawmill to make rafters with or a framing square to lay them out with. Or something.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 10/07/06 00:20:20 EDT

Flat Roofs:
Only the pennie pinchers like them. They are initialy cheap. I think it is great ONE government official (Bruce) disslikes them. In Virginia we have hundreds, maybe thousands of schools with flat roofs.

When I was in the 8th grade our very old three story school (maybe a WPA project), had the roof drains clog during heavy winter weather of combined rain and snow. When the weakest place gave in it was over the class rooms over the shop area. A block of four rooms was destroyed in minutes and took months to get back. The following year our NEW school had small leaks from one end to the other and the roof repair folks were there for several years. The original roofing contractor was charged with malfeasance but was rapidly banckrupt.

Currently for architectural "style" they are putting stteply pitched tin roofing on most of our new schools but not over 100%. These roofs are modern energy efficient things with the tin over thick insulating panels. The flat portions of these schools is already leaking and require annual repair.

On many buildings what LOOKS like a flat roof is a low slopping roof with a level surrounding wall. However, the use of these are generally limited to small narrow buildings. They are better than flat.

One reason I have heard that flat roofs are liked is that they DO hold water in the event of a fire. I think this is not much of an advantage IF the roof drainage system works right. . .

SHINGLES are the next most idiotic roofing material there ever was. They are slow to apply, costly to replace and have a very limited life. The new shingles are waranted for a period less than the typical mortgage and will fail 1/3 sooner as they are made on the Sear's prorated model where you pay 90% of current LIST price to get a replacement. . .

Good tin roofing will last well over 100 years if properly maintained. Usually bare galvanized requires 25 years before it will naturally accept paint and some of the prefinished modern steel roofing is good for 50 years without refinishing. Cost is only 10 or 15% greater than shingles and lasts much longer. Modern steel roofing now comes in shingle and spanish tile embossing.

Tin is also fire resistant and should be required in all densely populated areas where fires typically spread from roof top to roof top due to poorly selected roofing materials (especialy wood splits).
- guru - Saturday, 10/07/06 08:23:28 EDT

I put heavy-gauge made-in-U.S.A. "Strongbarn" brand corrugated tin on our roofs, and also used it for siding on my shop and part of the house, almost 30 years ago, still looks great, no rust. Hard to find it now. With the drought upon us as it is, and tinder-dry pinons nearby, the fire resistance is a reassuring blessing.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 10/07/06 10:06:34 EDT

Flat Roofs: In the book "Why Buildings Fall Down," Mario Salvadori points out that some cities *require* flat roofs that retain water. They're designed so the water from a heavy downpour is released over hours rather than all at once. This may be because the city has a combined sewer system, and too much runoff too fasts overwhelms the treatment plant.

As you can guess from the title of the book, problems can arise. Actually, the book's worth reading whether you're interested in flat roofs (which are only one example included) or not.
Mike B - Saturday, 10/07/06 11:52:54 EDT

Someone on the net had a pic of a jig that they used to prebend/prestress the area of the top of a stainless steel hand rail so that when it was welded to the upright baluster the jigged area would end up counter acting the pull/contraction of the welding. Anyone familiar with this?Thanks, Ben
- Ben - Saturday, 10/07/06 11:58:12 EDT

prebending jig: Someone on the net had a pic of a jig that they used to prebend/prestress the area of the top of a stainless steel hand rail so that when it was welded to the upright baluster the jigged area would end up counter acting the pull/contraction of the welding. Anyone familiar with this?Thanks, Ben
- Ben - Saturday, 10/07/06 11:59:43 EDT

Well when I moved from OH our house there which was built around 1910 had the *original* roof on it; unfortunately they had used only the medium quality slate, good for only about 110 years in the local climate. The best quality slate is good for over 250 years---they are not quite sure how much over as none of the local buildings have made it past that so far...

We looked into replacing it when it failed as were were planning to stay in it a long time: $40K for slate $15K for replacing it with asphault shingles. We opted to repair as needed till we moved. The new owner removed all the work I had done on getting the front porch back to the original configuration and replaced the roof with shingles.

Thomas P - Saturday, 10/07/06 13:15:32 EDT

Anvil: Just picked up a nice large Mouse Hole Anvil today. Nice old girl. When it is cleaned up I may post a photo across the way.
- Burnt Forge - Saturday, 10/07/06 14:00:14 EDT

Brass: The copper dissolves in the melted zinc, rather than melting. As the copper dissolves, you add more. Melting the copper first requires a higher initial temp and produces more black copper oxide slag, and more of the zinc evaporates or fumes off, but it will work.

New pennies are a good source of zincand cheaper than ingots in small lots.
- John Odom - Saturday, 10/07/06 16:14:00 EDT

New Anvil: Good one, Burnt. I want to see a pic.
- Tyler Murch - Saturday, 10/07/06 20:02:33 EDT

John, I'm glad you agree with me on the copper and zinc. I've melted a lot of zinc and it will disolve other metals fairly quickly. It helps if the copper is in small pieces like cut up wire. As it disolves into the zinc the temperature must be increased.

I think copper and tin would work the same but I am not sure. . .
- guru - Saturday, 10/07/06 22:33:46 EDT

Cu & Sn: Yep, it works just the same.
vicopper - Saturday, 10/07/06 23:04:36 EDT

Shingles & roofs: With shingles You can get whatever You are willing to pay for up to 100 year lifespan. 50 year shingles are becoming popular in the huricane belt because they are thick enough to stay on in a "normal" huricane. In those areas standing rib steel roofs still seem to stay put the best.
Dave Boyer - Saturday, 10/07/06 23:37:44 EDT

My brother had a 1832 house in Lexington,KY. Had a metal roof that was the original. May have been tern plat. Small sheets seamed and soldiered together. Been painted many times but was still leak free when he sold it inabout 1998
ptree - Sunday, 10/08/06 10:12:25 EDT

CSI Meetings: Please be advised that the next CSI meeting is scheduled for october 10th at 8:00 pm EDT and all CSI members are welcomed.
- dale - secretary - - Sunday, 10/08/06 11:10:49 EDT

Roof: Ptree,

I wonder where you can recruit a roof like that? (grin) Actually, my wife describes anything in neat rows as "standing like a soldier." And I'm giving you far too hard a time for a minor typo, but sometimes when something strikes me as funny I can't help myself.
Mike B - Sunday, 10/08/06 12:08:45 EDT

fly-press: hi guys!
I can buy a fly-press with a 2.37" screw.
Do you think I can hot punch a 2.6lbs hammer head with it?
or must I think to buy a bigger fly-press?
- Fred - Sunday, 10/08/06 16:34:15 EDT

Mike B. That roof has "soldiered on" for a great many years. Shame I can't spell :)
ptree - Sunday, 10/08/06 17:11:16 EDT

Fred, There is a lot more to a flypress than the screw. AND the screw needs to be fast enough to be a forging screw, not just a pressing screw. The difference is the number of threads on the screw, 1, 2, 3. . .

Then there is the size of the flywheel. Not just what it weighs but the compination of weight and diameter. This determines the amount of inertia in the wheel.

If the press is similar in specifications to those sold by Kayne and Son it may be a number 6. This would mean that it is about at the limit of what one person can operate. For heavy work at its full capacity you will need to be able to pull the wheel with both hands.

From what I have seen a smaller #4 do I suspect that a number #6 can hot punch a hammer eye.

Flypress Manual Sizes
- guru - Sunday, 10/08/06 19:43:35 EDT

Dissolving Alloys: Same option as for brass is used for producing aluminum alloys - the aluminum is melted and the higher melting temperature alloy addition is added to it - the aluminum dissolves the alloy addition. A typical alloy addition for aluminum is iron for the aluminum used to produce beverage cans. The most common method of adding it is as a briquette produced from iron and aluminum powders - either 75/25 oiron aluminum or 80/20 iron aluminum. The aluminum powders are a mix of reclaimed/recycled aluminum prodcued without melting and primary production which includes a melting step.

Other briquettes used for aluminum alloying are manganese/aluminum and chrome aluminum. The manganese is electrolytic manganeses milled in a vibrating ball mill (at least that's what one producer used). The chrome powder is produced by milling electrolytic chrome in a rotating ball mill inerted with nitrogen. The vibrating ball mill is inerted with nitrogen as well - those powders get to be a bit on the explosive side.
- Gavainh - Sunday, 10/08/06 23:15:46 EDT

blower belts: I have a forge like the one at that is nearly ready to use. I just need one more thing, a 1" flat belt about 54" long. What's the best place(s) to find these in this high tech century?
Elliott Olson - Sunday, 10/08/06 23:38:21 EDT

blower belts : I used a horse rein that i picked up at a local feed and tackshop. It worked fine, but i had to re-stitch it twice because it would stretch. It was made of chrome tanned tooling leather.
- habu - Monday, 10/09/06 00:06:46 EDT

Machinery Belting:
You can get belts made by many power transmission specialists or industrial belting suppliers. Most shops that have flat belt drive machines have splicing equipment due to the constant stretch and readjustment of leather belts.

You can also use heavy cotton belting OR flat rubber transmission belting. The advantage of the rubber is that it does not stretch.

Belts can be skived to a taper and glued together. Large belts were actually laced like shoe laces and then there were the patent systems.

There are many types of metal "patent" splices the best of which is the Clipper belt lacing. However, clipper lacing tools are also the most most expensive. Clipper laces are a series of wire loops with staple ends. The lenngth of the laces vary as does the direction of the staple ends. This makes a very diffuse grip into the leather or other belt material. The two sets of laces intermesh and a pin goes through the loops to hook the end of the belt together. The old factory pins were oil impregnated compressed rawhide and worked the best. Often pieces of wire like brazing wire would be used as a replacement but this wears the laces. The new pin material is teflon coated steel wire.

Aligator lacing is like a hinge with metal clips that cut into and grip the material. They do not require special machinery to install.

Old editions of Machinery's Handbook and most Machinists handbooks and text books have details of belting material and how to splice and maintain them.
- guru - Monday, 10/09/06 00:25:33 EDT

Elliott Olson-- belts: this outfit has everything you need, the belts in whatever length, the grippers, the works: Imsco Wire Rope Chain & Accsrs
Address: 5830 Midway Park Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109
Phone: (505) 344-8024
Great people to do business with.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 10/09/06 00:54:34 EDT

Lacing Belts: I used wire from large paper clips, set like staples with the sharp ends pointed up. Once the leather was stretched it has worked well for three years.
habu - Monday, 10/09/06 08:12:34 EDT

Melting: I remember reading about one of the pioneer high-altitude balloonists. The "gondola" under the balloon was a pressurized aluminum sphere. A mercury instrument broke at altitude, and they barely managed to clean up the mercury before it dissolved a hole in the aluminum. Must be the same idea as dissolving an alloy in molten zinc or aluminum -- just at a much lower temperature.
Mike B - Monday, 10/09/06 09:06:42 EDT

hammer-in: I ventured back to the fatherland saturday & took Dad to the hammer-in at Ft. Boonesborough historic site. Not a lot of activity, a father & son team were working in the forts smithy forging an axe head. A couple more gents in period clothing were using a portable forge & doing some work. Had some nice damascus blades on display.

Had a great visit with Larry F. (Blueheron) and his wife, sorry I had to be the bearer of the bad news about Bob Harasim. But it was fun catching up with each other.

That hammer-in has the potential to be a nice event, perhaps with a little promotion.

Brian C - Monday, 10/09/06 09:43:59 EDT

Aladdin's Resonator : I posted this in the Guru's room, but thought someone here might know also.
Does anybody know what a Aladdin's Resonator is used for? I bought a box of hand files at a flea market and in the fold of the box was a small round cardboard tube with a small china marker "looking" piece, wrapped in a yellowing sheet of paper, The right corner of the paper is missing, But you can still read most of it. It refers to frequency. I think part of it is broke off and missing. The center is metal and the outer shell is similar to ceramic. The typeset looks to be 1940s or 1950s. I can't really use it, But would like to know what it would have been used for. Google did not help.
daveb - Monday, 10/09/06 10:47:45 EDT

Spurs - need help with project: I am a beginning blacksmith and I am planning to make a pair of western spurs for my project. I have a basic idea of what I want to do, but I can find little information on the process used by others to hand forge spurs. Any one have any suggestions?

How are the points on the rowells made? Is the shank forge welded to the band, then split and punched for the rowell?

Any help would be great! Thanks
ernhrst - Monday, 10/09/06 11:15:10 EDT

Dave, sounds like an old radio part to me. Got a copy of Lindsay's technical books catalog? They have LOTS of books on the subject. Or just try searching old radio forums online if there is such a thing.

Mercury: kinda but not exactly the same thing as dissolving an alloy, but sorta. Mercury dissolves the other metal into itself, but stays liquid. You can heat the mercury to drive it off (and get the EPA on yer butt quick!), and the previously dissolved metal will be left behind. That's how they used to silver mirrors, gild armor, and extract gold from quartz. I didn't know it worked on aluminum, but I have heard of people losing chunks of gold rings to spilled mercury.
Alan-L - Monday, 10/09/06 12:09:15 EDT

Ernest; there are a bunch of different ways to make spurs. You just need to figure out how *you* want to make them!

1 piece vs rivited on shank vs welded on shank; all were done.

Rowels could be filed, or hot cut and filed, or cold worked and filed...or some folks use the disks from a grinding wheel truer---already rowell shaped.

You can saw and file the shank or hot cut and forge for the rowells.

As for "Fire Gilding" it's what we call "an expendable apprentice" method: Apply a mercury-gold amalgm, then heat to drive off the mercury as a vapour---no worker pension worries for their employers!

Thomas P - Monday, 10/09/06 13:12:31 EDT

Pioneer Days in Indiana: I pulled a goof this weekend. Without looking at any of the mailers or magazines, took off to Newport, In. for the antique car hill climb. It's always the 1rst full weekend of October.....until this year, when they pulled it up a week.

So, I meandered back south & took the nephew to the drag races in Terre Haute for a while & then stumbled upon the Pioneer Days festival at Fowler state part, just south of town. they have a nice 1840-ish village of cabins, including a smithy. Talked to one of the demonstrators there & found out they're building a bigger shop & have it 3/4 done. A real nice place. One fellow had his 13yr old daughter pounding steel too. You just never know where you're going to run into someone moving metal!
- Mike Sa - Monday, 10/09/06 13:19:23 EDT

Resonator: Alan, from what I can read from the instruction paper. The "pen" is use to test radio inductance fields. The instructions say to insert the polyiron end into the magnetic field of the inductance to increase the induction and insert the brass end (missing) to decrease induction. I belive it was used to feild test radios before disassmebling the whole unit.
Aladdin Radio Industries Chicago.IL.
List price $1.00 with a 40% discount for amateurs, engineers,and service men. It must be old, $1.00 will not buy much today. So once again Alan you were right.
daveb - Monday, 10/09/06 13:25:22 EDT

Lineshaft belts: LOTSA good stuff in Audel's Millwright's book about belts, and the lacing thereof. (They have a pretty good section on smiffin', too. It could be just about in its bazillionth printing by now, but the contents are still the same. There's still enough of the good old stuff in it to make today's young Millwright scratch his head (if he can get his finger out of his nose). The UAW ramrods these kids through the "apprenticeship" program, hands them a journeyman's card, and then tells ME to train them. It ain't gonna happen.
3dogs - Monday, 10/09/06 14:00:44 EDT

Belts and Millwrights:
If I didn't have a Clipper belt splicer I would go for skived and glued. This makes a clean splice and can be done with the most minimal of tools. However, you want to make the belt quite tight as they loosen with age. With 12 foot of leather belting I've found that about once every year or two I have to take the minimum 5/8" out of that the Clipper laces alow. You can take out less by making a new splice but then you have two joints.

The steady click-click, click-click of belt splices is one of those soothing old fashioned noises that I miss in modern shops.

Old timey machinists had to forge their lathe and planner cutter bits as well as heat treat them them selves. The tools were some awful looking things but did the job. Modern holders using small bits of HSS are a lot easier and something I much prefer to forging W1 to make my lather cutters. . .

Many of the skills of the old timers are good to know. Using a cold chisle and a scrapper take practice and are very handy skills, especially if doing die work. There are some things that modern technology has replaced but not at a price everyone can afford. If you only need to make one keyway in your life you do not need a milling machine.

Most blacksmithing books do not delve into the basics of metalworking that are key to its success. They focus on the forging which is only a small part of the job. Layout, filing, sawing, fitting, drilling as well as welding of all kinds apply to the blacksmith shop old or new.
- guru - Monday, 10/09/06 17:08:40 EDT

Hi Tyler
I will do so. It may be a week for I post photos. Thanks.
- Burnt Forge - Monday, 10/09/06 23:05:17 EDT

Bruce "Atli" Blackistone & Eric Thing: I have some questions for you guys if you wouldn't mind helping me out. I don't know how do contact either of you so I am here in the forum. Thanks
- Matt - Tuesday, 10/10/06 04:44:42 EDT

I saw a wonderfull Smithy in Sweden that had been bought in its entirety and moved into an old brickworks by its owner Mattias Bokelund. Every single piece of equipment was belt driven from overhead shafts including the power hammer, Pillar drill and lathe and the blower for the forge. Everything dated from the late 1800's. I have some great photographs from my visit. Guru is right, that is almost strangely hypnotic. It was great to see such an old set up lovingly restored to full working order
Ian Lowe - Tuesday, 10/10/06 06:34:38 EDT

Hello Ian, good to see you posting again. Still in Aussie land?
daveb - Tuesday, 10/10/06 09:00:03 EDT

Lineshafts: Lineshafts: The older part of the machine shop in my college had a lineshaft setup. The big planers, a big lathe or two and a big shaper all ran from it. The rest of the shop had individual motor machines.

I love that click, click!

The 1870 machine shop of the original Dupont works along the Brandywine is restored at the Hagly Museum at Wilmington DE.

There is a working water turbine and a steam engine that are interesting.
- John Odom - Tuesday, 10/10/06 10:19:57 EDT

Spurs: A book is available through "How to Make Bits and Spurs" by Robert Hall. A video is available, "Spur Makin'", by R.F. Ford, Box 126, Water Valley, Texas 76958.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 10/10/06 12:46:56 EDT

Matt:: Try my home e-mail at asylumATearthlinkDOTnet. It's been acting up of late, so be patient, it maight take me a while to answer.

On the other claw, if it's a metalworking question that might benefit from exposure to this general gathereing of very experienced folks, go ahead and post it here. The answers you get may well exceed my humble efforts in both quality and quantity.
Go viking!
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 10/10/06 14:44:16 EDT

Plistix SR90: I just got a 50# pail of this stuff. Its the same as plistix 900F except that its ready mixed. The distributore only had the ready mix in stock - @ about $70 pail + shipping.

I used the SR90 and Inswool 3000 to make the latest version of my Swirlomatic Multifuel burner. I trowled about 1/8" onto the inner wall of the cylinder - for other surfaces I thinned it out and brushed it on. After baking this to set it up, I painted ITC 100 over the SR90. The SR90 is very easy to work with. Trowels easily and really bonds to the wool. It shows little tendency to crack and spall off the wool and can even take some gentle bumping when hot but poking it with the workpiece will knock pcs off. It works much better with the wool than mizzou or satanite which I have been using. The whole burner is very light and comes up to temp in about 20 mins. So far the sr90 seems to be holding up to the hot gas with no problem - havent tried flux resistance yet. A very promising new thinset.

Plibrico also sells a fiber blanket coat called "topcoat2600" which is designed to go onto ceramic wool and not spall - its performance in oxidizing atmosphers is not that great nor is the temp rating really high enough for a burner but I thought it might be good as an underlayment. However, at $200 for a 50# pail I think I will pass.
adam - Tuesday, 10/10/06 22:25:43 EDT

Insulation: In my mad scientist experiments with burner design, I have been running the burners without any outer shell. Just 2" of 8# inswool rolled around a 5" chamber and tied up with a couple of loops of soft tie wire. When the chamber comes up to temp - aboutwhite hot, I can clearly see red glowing through 2" of wool. From my experience, 1" of wool isnt nearly enough - an efficient forge needs at least 2" with another inch of something, even just still air.
adam - Tuesday, 10/10/06 22:34:45 EDT

To Bruce:: Thanks Bruce, I emailed you from MSN
Matt - Tuesday, 10/10/06 22:53:01 EDT

nippers: Someone at Quad State told me about how to make a neat pair of tongs from an old pair of hoof nippers. I found an old pair of nippers in a dark corner of the shop, now I cant remember who it was or what they told me. Any volunteers
Brian C - Wednesday, 10/11/06 21:21:13 EDT

Brian C: Straighten out the jaws. They'll probably be too long; trim to size. Heat the entire jaws, rivet area and a portion of the reins, and squeeze the jaws in the vise around a scrap sizer piece. While in the vise, adjust the reins to fit your hand at the same time. You're probably dealing with high carbon steel, so I would just let them normalize for use as tongs.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/11/06 23:16:07 EDT

nippers: Thanks for the quick advice Frank.
Brian C - Thursday, 10/12/06 09:39:38 EDT

One of my most used set of tongs was a gosh awful nasty set of HUGE nippers made from WI---how huge? Well when I forged them out they fit a firebrick right well and having a set of hot firebrick tongs has been quite usefull for the gasser that uses stacked firebrick for the door.

Thomas P - Thursday, 10/12/06 10:11:37 EDT

Sometimes hoof nippers are mistaken for pulloff pincers. Some of the old pulloffs are pretty large, especially Hellers brand. As the name implies, they're used for prying off the horseshoe.
- Frank Turley - Thursday, 10/12/06 20:41:13 EDT

Other Things to Make from Nippers: I've also used them for special tongs to put eyes on each side of a dragon or serpent head: File down, leave eye-size part standing proud on each side, file and drill in "eye", pinch animal head in the right place, and strike with a firm hammer blow. I also have another pair filed down and with a half-circle gap on each jaw to hold a shield boss spike while I forge out the rest.

They're common, fairly cheap, and limited only by time and imagination.
Go viking!
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 10/12/06 23:14:22 EDT

Nippers again: Over the years I have gathered up several sets of nippers at auctions and sometimes even use a pair to pull out a rivet gone bad. But my everyday tongs are from a pair of nippers. Seems like a person could also weld on different size and shape jaws if there wasnt enough steel left to forge.
- Doug Thayer - Friday, 10/13/06 07:38:21 EDT

Nuevo Manual del Cerrajero Y Herrero: My copy of "Nuevo Manual del Cerrajero Y Herrero o sea Tratado Simplificado de este arte" arri9ved today. Maybe trying to translate it will help with my learning Spanish. It appears to be a good book to translate then reprint in English.

Dave, I think I paid more for shipping than you. Yours should be on the way. .

Frank, thanks for the repeat reference!
- guru - Friday, 10/13/06 13:04:54 EDT

Nuevo Manual & Nippers: Jock, Your Welcome.

Our Costa Rican friend, Johan Cubillos, said that the Spanish writing was old fashioned, but useful nevertheless. One term that I liked was "la calda sudosa", when forge welding. I translated it as a "sweating heat", where the surface of the metal looks runny because of molten scale and flux, yet no sparks are necessary to get the weld. I used the same term in English before I got the little book.

Another term, which I can't find at present, is the last (hottest) tempering color which is difficlut to discern. The authors call it "ocean green", which is a nice description. The best I've seen in English is "gray-green".

Nippers. A horseshoer sometimes uses three reined tools which are often not identified properly, especially by eBay sellers. You've got your pulloff pincers, your nail nippers, and your hoof nippers. One thing you don't want to do is reforge a quality, recently made hoof nipper, one which sells in the neighborhood of $175.00. These are tools with carefully aligned jaws and a careful riveting job. Nail nippers are also carefully made, but not with the attention to detail that hoof nippers have.
Frank Turley - Friday, 10/13/06 20:59:20 EDT

Ah, that JUST what I need to learn, archaic Spanish. . .

I called a friend with a term from Frank's book on Southwestern ironwork today. Carboneros, makers of charcoal. My friend knew the word and I had to look it up a second time today to write this. . . Maybe my memory is getting too tired to learn a new language. Having enough trouble with English words.
- guru - Friday, 10/13/06 23:30:49 EDT

500 lb L G wanted: wanted: 500 lb little giant. 307 754 4173
- Rik Mettes - Saturday, 10/14/06 00:00:13 EDT

hammer head in class: Hi. Thanks to advice from guru, John N. and Thomas P., I had a much better idea of how to make the hammer head for the metalworking class. The week before the foundry lesson, I asked the instructor what kind of pattern would be acceptable. He said it would have to be a simple flatback (probably not desirable in terms of results) or a split pattern with a core. No complicated parting or followers. Also, he warned me that if I used a molasses core binder, the hammer might only be castable in aluminum.

Fortunately, with you folks' advice, which was a little bit hard to understand, I had enough to go on to search out other stuff and make a plan. I made a split pattern out of a piece of old construction lumber, with two dowels to pin it together and screw holes in both sides so that the pattern halves could be extracted with a large sheet metal screw. In order to identify the hammer as not made in China, I carved a Chinese character in one side with a homemade HSS knife. I had it checked by a Chinese person who assured me that the "whitey" calligraphy was a dead giveaway that it was made in America. Kind of like "Chinglish" instructions accompany Chinese imports. I filed out the 4 core print halves, split them, and epoxied them to the pattern halves. Then, I sprayed the outside of the pattern with several coats of Krylon. This caused some problems, because the application raised the wood grain, and it was difficult to sand off between coats. Somehow, the sandpaper would grab the softer parts of the wood and undercut even more.

The core was pretty simple. I fetched a cup of sand from the nearby park's playground, and removed the pebbles and twigs from it. I then mixed 1 part of stale wheat flour to 20 parts by volume of sand and tempered with 1/10 water solution of molasses. For a mold, I used a small roll of aluminum roof flashing tied with old transformer wire and squashed into an oval cross-section. I then baked the core at 400F for an hour. It smelled like cookies baking, and was pretty hard when I brought it out, although the seam mark could be scratched off with a fingernail. I wrapped the core in a piece of paper towel and placed it in a plastic tube. I thought of making two so there would be a backup, but I figured that I'd probably only get one chance at a pour, so one would have to do. It turned out that a second one would have been nice.

When I arrived at the next week's class, the instructor asked me if I brought everything. I replied yes, including a core. He said I was crazy. As the lecture portion of the class went by, it appeared that he was kind of correct. Nobody else had brought anything.

Since the instructor was pouring aluminum for the demo, he said all that I would get was aluminum. I figured as much, but this was a great opportunity to try a casting, since I had not done it before. A couple of kind fellow students watched my back to help spot mistakes, and the instructor cut a huge runner and riser. Petrobond was used. The core popped right into the the print. The instructor was smooth and polished pouring the demo and my casting. He was skeptical about whether it would come out. A few minutes later, he shook out the mold and the hammer head looked great! And the Chinese character looked nice too (at least to non-natives). There was some doubt about how to get the core out of the eye, but just a little water turned it to mud and it poured right out. Very clean.

As I was admiring the casting, the instructor lined up some criticisms. No problems with the molasses core, but the wood grain showed up on the casting. I did not know beforehand that they used Petrobond. The instructor pointed out that I was sloppy in finishing the pattern, and I selected the wrong wood. Instead of using a construction site leaving, I should have made the pattern out of mahogany or yellow pine. And, sanding sealer would have helped. The Krylon is water-based, compounding the problem. The runner below the sprue had junk in it. He said I should have spent more effort tamping it down. A student asked what was wrong with a rough area at the entrance, since it was not part of the casting. The instructor said that the roughness was caused by loose sand which by now had been swept deep inside the hammer head. Not visible from the outside, but the telltale was there. The most serious deficiency, though, was that I did not make a real core box. Since I used roofing flashing, I could not make a proper hourglass shape. The instructor said that I should have made a core box out of 4-5 sections of wood, two with the core print shapes, and 2-3 with the sections of the hourglass. If I was lazy, I could get away with making only half the core box, and paste cores together along their symmetry line. He then said that if I built a satisfactory core box, and made decent cores in that box, he would pour brass the following week. Wow, that was a deal!

One of the other students came up to me later and asked me how I had all my ducks in a row for the pour. He said I must be an expert and was just showing off. I replied that this was my first cast. No candles, but I did watch someone casting soap. The instructor joked that I was experienced: I had probably cast ice in a freezer before. Then the student asked me how I figured all this stuff out. I replied, "the Internet". He said, oh, of course, anyone can learn anything over the Internet. I did not reply that I, and probably also guru, would disagree. It takes some concentration and willpower. Well, I had my shot. Next time I should be able to learn from my mistakes and do better. And I will bring more cores, since some of the other students wanted to cast a hammer head too.

Thanks for all the help, Eric
EricC - Saturday, 10/14/06 01:57:33 EDT

Materials for Patterns and Finishing wood:
Eric, Glad your project turned out. Much of it sounds like you learned a lot of what not to do by experiance, which is the best way.

For a one off, do it NOW core, you did exactly right.

Kryalon is OK for a quick and dirty finish but most of their products are not sandable. Solvent based paints also raise grain depending on the wood. Good sandable primers are all lacquer based. You can get them in spray cans where they sell touch up paints in spray cans. Be sure is says SANDABLE primer. This means it is low binder with a soft filler (clay, graphite). Prime first to fill and raise grain. Sand a reapply. Two or three coats and you will have a fine finish.

Pattern making is an art. It is also an art that you generally do not want to believe everything you are told. There are the "standard methods" and then there is the way it is really done. I've made a lot of sculpture and fine finished items from construction grade lumber. You just have to be selective, look for even or low contrast grain and lack of knots. There are many ways to finish wood. When I use sort of trashy wood for patterns I go straight to the bondo and lacquer primer. But you can also use clear lacquer, apply a couple coats and sand to kill the grain then a couple more to finish.

If you want to make drop dead gorgeous sculptural pieces from any kind of wood (including construction pine) try Behlen Nitrocellulose Stringed Instrument Lacquer, available from Stewart-MacDonald guitar supply. It is fantastic stuff.

I remember when I was about 4 years old watching my father cutting strips out of an old leather belt. He was making pieces to glue onto a wood pattern to be ribs on a pattern for a scale model of a machine to be cast in ceramic clay. The tapered pieces were flexible so that they fit the curves of the bowl shaped top of the device. After gluing them on they were puttied with automotive lacquer filler, sanded then primed with automotive lacquer primer, finished more and finally lacquered with a top coat, sanded and finely finished. The final pattern was a work of art and was in existance for over 40 years without defect.

In old timey foundries the patternmakers and sandcrabs made and used patterns based on their expected life. It was very common a century ago that if a machinist needed a chunk of metal a certain size and shape he would just ask the foundry which was part of every machine operation and they would cast it for him. For these one offs anything, everything and nothing was used. Often an impression would just be carved out of the rammed up greensand. Temporary patterns were often just a rough sawn piece of lumber with no finish. If the machinist asked for the piece today, he usualy had it by morning the next day if not sooner.

In modern pattern making a special wax is used to create fillets. It comes molded to shape in long strips and in specific sizes. You just make the part with square corners, cut a strip of fillet material and work it into the corner. It will bend around curves and is easy to trim with a knife. This would be painted and the pattern was usualy only used once or twice to make a metal or resin pattern for production use. For a permanent pattern I use bondo for fillets and a scraper with the required radius.

Look at the way movie prop people often make things they need cheap and in a hurry. They find existing items, soap bottles, caps, toy parts and fit them together to make ray guns, armour, whatever. . Once they make one if they need more they make rubber molds and cast parts in plastic.

Learning to use plaster of Paris for core boxes, intermediate molds and followers is a fantastic advantage to doing things the hard way. It is a fairly durable material than can be machined, glued, sanded, painted as needed. To make your tapered eliptical core I would start by carving a piece of wood or a dowel to the core shape. Use modeling clay to support the piece in a mold box filling to the parting then pour a plaster half. Flip it over remove the clay, carve alignment pin holes in the plaster and pour the other half. Then you have a plaster core box that could be used to make hundreds of cores if you are carefull with it.

Alternatively you could make a two part wood core box (two blocks with alignment dowels), drill a hole on the parting and then carve it to and eleptical shape. In fact, the round ends make for a simpler core print and only the center needs to be properly shaped. You could use multiple pieces of wood as your instructor suggested but that assumes you have a wood working shop with a planer for making everything smooth and square to glue up.

For many temporary, one off, or first cast items wax is used to create the original. It carves easily and can have a very smooth finish. I have seen multiple parts cast from a complicated and detailed wax master. You can also carve OR cast wax molds. . .

I like to use bondo for quick and dirty sculpure. You can build up from nothing or start with some kind of mass like a wood block, plastic bottle. . .. Bondo hardens quickly and goes through a "leather hard" phase where it can be easily trimmed and carved like wax or leather hard clay. After it is a little harder it can be rasped then filed. Layers are added to fill in rasp and file marks. It sands well and is designed to accept sanding primers. Because many batches can be applied in a day a skilled artisan can build anything they imagine in a short period of time. The result can be rough and textured or finely finished like polished metal if need be.

It can help to learn to make rough quick and dirty sculptural "sketches" before doing final work. Many years ago I was interesting in making bows (as in bows and arrows). I had sketched a bunch of fantastic shaped bodies and grips but was not sure about them. So I sawed the shapes out of a pine 2x6 with a sabre saw in two dimensions (about 2 minutes) and then took a rough rasp and carved them to shape in a few minutes more. No knives chisles or traditional carving tools were used. Just a noisy saw and a rough rasp. I made three in about an hour and hand sanded them fairly smooth in another hour. A coat of grey spray paint was applied to make them easier to look at. They laid around for a while and were tossed out. But they should me what I wanted as well as teaching me how fast sculpture can go it you want it to.

What materials you use are not important. Knowing how to handle them and finish them is what is important. Patterns can be made out of almost any material or mixture of materials as long as they hold up to the duty required. Temporary patterns can be used to make permanent patterns or molds if need be. Use what you have.
- guru - Saturday, 10/14/06 11:48:38 EDT

Armor Maker: This is for you Bruce or anybody else who can help out. I need help on how to make Lorica Squamata Scale Mail. Have any of you guys come across this or have made any of it? I also need to know where I can come across some really thin steel sheet, like 1/8" or less. Thanks

- Matt Hunter - Saturday, 10/14/06 20:37:04 EDT

Casting: Eric C

Great Job!! You worked hard and asked great queastions. You can be proud of yourself. You have the determination, research skill, willingness to learn from and work hard to obtain your goal. With a little practice you will do well at anything you set your mind too. It is nice to see someone take the advice from the Alpha Guru's here and put it into action. Basically we are real PROUD of you and your efforts. You get an A from us. As Guru and yourself pointed out you learned from your mistakes as well. You have taken them in stride. for your first go I give you an A+.
- Burnt Forge - Saturday, 10/14/06 21:32:23 EDT

Nippers & Scale Armor: Nippers: Frank; rest assured that if I'm forging nippers or pull-offs into something else, it's because they're beyond recovery. :-)

Scale Armor:

Check out Legio XX (below) for information on Roman armor; Matthew Amt is an excellent authority on all thing Roman and he can steer you straight. My question via e-mail was going to be what period you were enquiring about; but my e-mail is highly unreliable of late. I'll still be glad to help, but it may be eratic.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 10/15/06 00:07:46 EDT

Steel Plate for Armour:
Matt, Almost ANY steel service center or wharehouse has steel plate down to 16 ga. (about 1/16") and in gage sizes UP from that untill you hit standard dimensional sizes (1/4" I think).

The problem is that they will have it in 4x8 foot and 5x10 foot sheets. Unless you have a way of handling it you will have to pay to have it sheared. I find it much more efficient to have it sheared. For armour work you will want pieces you can manage. It is also best to buy an entire sheet in these thicknesses unless the dealer gives you a VERY good deal on the drop they keep. So start with the available sheet size and ask for pieces cut into quarters or eighths. If you need specific sizes in strips and rectangles get them while you are at it. Example, if you are making small fish scale or feather armour then it may be most efficient to have some of the sheet cut into 2" wide strips or so.

GENERALY, cold rolled plate is cleaner and has a better finish then hot rolled plate. Full time armour's are specific about the alloys they work but in general when buying small quantities from the most local supplier you get what you get.

Do not have the sheet cut too small. When you lay your armour pattern pieces on the plate you can nest them and be quite efficient (up to 90%). It you cut each one from a rectangle you may be as little as 50% efficient.

Note that a Beverly #2 shear is supposed to be able to cut 10 gage but I have found that they strain at anything over 16ga. If you are going to do heavy armour work you need the number 3 shear or a plasma torch. When tools strain on the work it is a hint that they have been over rated OR you are doing too much. In any case, I like my tools too much to overstress them on a regular basis.

After looking at many shapes in early armour I believe they were forged from bar stock. When plate is not readily available it would be most efficient to start with a piece of round bar, bend it to the line of the work and then flatten it. Plate armour consists of many pieces that are often hot-dog or sausage shaped in profile that can be created from round bar stock. If you are looking to make accurate pre 15th century armour this is a method that would have been used even if it is not documented. If a low tech solution works, then it probably was used.

Note that when plate became available so did shears to cut it. Armours had huge shears (operated by several men) even in early shops. A Beverly shear is a good investment (almost absolutely necessary) as its geared leverage lets an individual do what it takes several men with common straight shears.

See our NEWs for some tools and methods of modern armourers.

NEWS 33 West Virgina Armour-In
- guru - Sunday, 10/15/06 13:54:17 EDT

NOTE on gage sizes:
Many years ago Machinery's Handbook recommended that you buy and specify plate by actual dimension, not gage or ounce as there are numerous standards for gages by dimensions have been reliable for centuries.

How big a difference can it make? 16ga can be from .050" (1.27mm) to .074" (1.88mm) depending on the standard used. This is a huge difference in weight and working effort.

In the modern shop one of the most basic apprentice's tools is a pair of 0-1" (0-25mm) micrometers. Blacksmiths can normally do without but sheetmetal workers, armourers and jewelers cannot. The same goes for checking wire sizes.

You may talk to your supplier and order in gage sizes but ALWAYS get an actual dimension and check the stock on delivery.

- guru - Sunday, 10/15/06 14:18:38 EDT

Thanks for core box advice: Hi Guru. Thanks for the advice on the core box. Unfortunately, I read it after I made the stuff in my garage. You are correct about the multi-piece patterns. I fit them with a rasp, and it was tricky. The half-box came out OK, but I finished it with the wrong stuff again. This time, I used carnauba wax. I read your note above recommending sandable lacquer. I will try this next time. The wax was OK, but after a few cores were molded, the wood seemed to get waterlogged, and it was difficult to get the cores to pop out cleanly. Ended up having to use a lot of daubing paste to make them look decent. Even with cornstarch dusted liberally, they got pretty sticky. The lacquer should help. Even Krylon would have been better than the was. The wax went on really smooth. It was beautiful, but it sure was not durable.

Anyway, I have a box of plumbing scrap, a few of the valves are chrome plated, and some misc brass like keys and threaded rod. Checked it all with a magnet and file. I bought a split leg leather apron and am scrounging around for a pair of spats. I'll also bring welding gloves and a face shield. Hope everything goes well and the molasses cores hold up for the brass as well as they did for the aluminum.

By the way, I handled the aluminum hammer with a handle made with my homemade drawknife. It worked out a lot better after a friend gave me some lessons on how to sharpen the blade, and use the drawknife with a slicing motion. The hammer looks great. I'll bring it to the next class. Thanks for the compliments, Burnt Forge. I like rising to a challenge. I am looking forward to the maching section of the class. There will be a lot to learn.

EricC - Monday, 10/16/06 01:24:20 EDT

Cheap Wood Working Tools:
Two tools that I have found useful when you don't have a planer is a board with sand paper guled to it and a drum sander on a drill press.

When I was building musical instruments I needed very flat surfaces on a few pieces. I took a sanding belt, tore it open and glued it to the flatest board I could find. It works like a very large sharpening stone. This became a work surface for flattening bone, wood, plastic. . Fabric backed sanding belt is best for this. If you use fine sandpaper it must be applied to an equally fine surface. I found coarse worked best on common lumber.

I also needed a way finish and square up straight and curved surfaces. This was done using an inexpensive 3" drum sander setup in a drill press. Using a guide I could controlably make smooth thin boards and without the quide I could smooth and square edges on curved pieces.

The results of these two tools was well fitted parts and very clean straight glue joints. For small areas I use a scraper but it is slow going work. The large sanding surfaces are fast and efficient while being quite inexpensive. However, a drill press (albiet a cheep one) is needed for the sanding drum.

I have also glued sandpaper on various small curved pieces of wood, usualy drops. A couple were spiral shapes that made interesting tools.

Since I was a kid I have used sabre saws for a little bit of everything. They are a very handy tool but for all their flexibility they have the draw back of almost never cutting square. But they are fast and can cut straights and curves in wood, plastic and metal. The only tool better for what they do is a real professional bandsaw. Lacking that, they are the next best thing.

Don't forget common bastard mill files for wood working. The large coarse ones (12" and more) work great on wood. Just be sure to use NEW files as once a file has been used on metal it does not cut wood very well. Files serve the same purposes in wood as in metal. One step in smoothing rough surfaces and making flats, dressing corners and holes. When patternmaking they follow the rasp and preceed the sandpaper or scraper.

Don't forget the scraper. This simple tool is deceptive in its sophistication and quite agressive when sharp.

- guru - Monday, 10/16/06 12:03:36 EDT

Pattern Finishes:
The standard finish for patterns is shellac.

There is something about shellac that gives it a non-sticky surface. Thus is pulls out of greensand better than other finishes.

The worst finish is common varnish. Even when it is dry and hard greensand likes to stick to it. The first iron castings I had made from my own patterns had varnish on them. The foundry had to put a coat of flat silver paint on them to get them out of the sand. . .

Good hard lacquer is the next best finish in this regard. However clear acrylic lacquer is just as sticky as varnish. You want real nitrocelulose lacquer if you are using clear.

Sanding lacquer primers are also good because of the high amount of solids in them. I like dark grey because it uses carbon black which has a high lubricity similar in feel to graphite even though it is conpletely different.

All the old core boxes I have seen were unfinished but they were also made of very fine wood. However, they could have been thinly finished and time made them appear unfinished.
- guru - Monday, 10/16/06 12:26:53 EDT

I use sandpaper glued on wood to sharpen my tools - I use 400 to refresh the edge and then polish in steps up to 2000 and then a few licks on a hone with polishing compound. I use a flat board with formica on it- also masonite works well. This is known among woodworkers as the "Scary Sharp" method. It makes a wicked edge and is very cheap
adam - Monday, 10/16/06 15:05:33 EDT

Sandpaper "boards": If you want to use sandpaper as a sharpening stone, and you want it really flat, try sticking it to a sheet of 1/4" or thicker glass. For cutting metal, you can stick the paper down very nicely with some oil. For things that can't be oily, use a light misting of spray adhesive such as 3M #77, and let it dry pretty much before you stick the paper down.

If you want a really long flat abrasive surface, a product called Coretron MDF works pretty well. It is a medium-density fibreboard with a melamine finish that is used for cabinets. The melamine finish allows you to use spray adhesive and clean up with solvents with no worries. It is much smoother than any other ready-made building product. You can buy sanding belt material in widths up to 24" by lengths up to 240' from 3M and other abrasive manufacturers; it is used for big cabinetmaking edge sanders and surfacers.
vicopper - Monday, 10/16/06 16:59:00 EDT

I like the 3M spray on - I glue a set of sheets onto one scary sharp board. I use soapy water on the paper when working the edge. kerosene is good too. Another tip for a nice flat surface (thick glass is very good) is to scrounge a small cutoff from a shop that does granite kitchen counters. These seem to be ground flat and polished to about 1 thou over 12". Not quite flat enough for a machinists surface plate but a very nice surface for most other work - especially lapping things flat. Being 1" thick you can really bear down - whereas a sheet of glass might bow slightly under pressure.
adam - Monday, 10/16/06 22:42:42 EDT

Honing and lapping: For really fine work, I like to use HEAVY plate glass with a fine grit, adhesive backed sanding disc stuck on it. 3M Wetordry sandpaper comes in some superfine grits. Glue that to the glass with their spray adhesive With a heavier grit, I have lapped the warpage out of small engine cylinder heads. Make friends with a local tombstone dealer; they're artists, too. Give him something you've made, and you'll likely be allowed to prowl his scrap pile. A nice piece of polished granite is a great lapping surface, and it won't move around on the bench much. There's nothing better for tooling leather, by the way, than 100 lbs of tombstone with someone's misspelled name on the other side.
3dogs - Tuesday, 10/17/06 03:08:09 EDT

ADAM:: Did you get my E-mail?
3dogs - Tuesday, 10/17/06 03:11:09 EDT

Then there are always actual precision flats and surface plates. . . They come up at auctions fairly cheap as they are not certified and recertifying small flats can be as costly as buying new. . . Rusty cast iron flats can be cleaned up and a very useful as long as you do not need accuracy in tenths.

I have a small 24x36" pink granite flat and my Dad has a 4x8 foot black granite flat. I bought the small one for very little. However, the big surface plate was purchased new for checking machine tools. . . A friend of mine has an old cast iron surface plate that is about 5 by 10 feet. It is used mostly as a work table. . . Our granite flats are used regularly to support wet-or-dry. I do not like gluing it because the glue adds irregularities. Prior to having the flats we had a large piece of aluminium tooling plate which was flat enough.

I've used plate glass but like anything glass in the shop it is bothersome to have it around to worry about it. The formica surface idea is good. Now I wish I had saved some of those school desk tops I had. . .

On wood I prefer permanently gluing the coarse sandpaper. A thin coat of elmers will squeeze out flat and not make lumps.

A few years ago I won some 18" wide by about 12 foot coarse sanding belts in an Iron-in-the-Hat. I think I was the only one that put tickets on them. Folks thought I was crazy. . . crazy like a fox! Big pieces of abrasive are muy expensive and as we have been discussing, very useful. It will also attach to curved surfaces which is great for sculpture, pattern making or musical instrument work.

- guru - Tuesday, 10/17/06 13:52:21 EDT

Industrial Slot Forge: Anyone need a 60" x 6" SLOT forge? Original price $50k. Unused, never installed, but selling as used. Drop me a line and I will put you in touch with the seller.
- guru - Tuesday, 10/17/06 14:30:53 EDT

I just got a quote for a piece of granite 48"sq 3cm giallo.
$616.00 , Black $575.00. Jock, I'll keep a look-out for a broken return.Most of our tops are 2cm.
daveb - Tuesday, 10/17/06 16:56:58 EDT

Surface Plates: The pink granite labratory grade stone I have is about 6" thick. . . I was wrong on the size, it is a Starrett 18 x 24". The big one in black granite is 10" I think it cost $16k in 1980.

You can get a 18 x 24 x 4" Labratory grade surface plate from McMaster Carr for 533 or 644 with ledges. Toolroom grade is only $400.
- guru - Tuesday, 10/17/06 17:30:25 EDT

Speaking of granite scraps. . there is several large pieces of granite about 1" or more thick our next to the shop. .

I'm still looking to stumble across a thick piece for an experimental primitive anvil. I wanted to see how it held up to forging bronze, then iron.

- guru - Tuesday, 10/17/06 17:34:43 EDT

big granite scraps: plenty of them up in North Georgia. Not too far from you, guru.
- Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 10/17/06 17:59:52 EDT

How do you tell the swing a brace bit drill has? Is it double the C-shape height?
- Galoot - Tuesday, 10/17/06 21:04:54 EDT

Brace swing: I think it is measured just like the swing on a lathe; the distance from center of rotation to the farthest point of rotation. The radius, not the diameter.
vicopper - Tuesday, 10/17/06 22:50:01 EDT

vicopper: Thank You for your help. I believe your are correct. I was unable to find any specifics on any woodworking tool sites.
- Galoot - Wednesday, 10/18/06 01:10:16 EDT

granite scraps: Another sorce is the sink cut-outs from counter tops used in higher-end homes. They are often left at the job site and can be had for the asking. They may not be "true", but they are close enough for most government work.;)
habu - Wednesday, 10/18/06 07:10:07 EDT

Stone Anvils: I'm still looking for a sufficient chunk of basalt. Next two NPS trips are to Cumberland, MD and maybe Kansas, so it may be a while. Also, getting it aboard the airplane may be interesting. :-)
My next project on the C & O (Note- no flat roof! ;-)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 10/18/06 08:31:49 EDT

Basalt?: Bruce, How big? We use'em for sweat rocks.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 10/18/06 10:53:49 EDT

Bruce, IIR my geology right neither area you mentioned is noted for it's basalt flows. However if you ever get out to Hawaii....or there are some rather vesicular basaltic flows in NM I'll keep my eye open for some less bubbly ones---how about an obsideon anvil???

Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/18/06 12:12:14 EDT

Scale Armor: Thanks Guru, I've been looking into making Boiled leather armor also. I've been wanting to make scale armor from thin steel sheets as well as make scale mail from rawhide, although I am having a hard time finding rolled rawhide sheets for use in armor.

However I am also thinking of making "boiled leather" armor with a cuirass and or scale mail armor from that.

Thanks for the help guys.
- Matt - Wednesday, 10/18/06 16:44:26 EDT

Surface plates: Have any of you tried the cheap lee valley surface plates? $33 for 9" x 12" x 2". Supposed to be good to a tenth. I was thinking about getting one for lapping small parts.

I've also used super 77 to stick abrasives onto old hard drive platters- the poor man's optical flat. Works well for watch parts, less well for cylinder heads. Try to find metal ones rather than the ceramic core- they're brittle.
cheap surface plate
- Dave A - Wednesday, 10/18/06 18:21:54 EDT

lapping: I used flat plate glass for years for flat lapping critical valve parts. These varied from Delrin to Stelite overlay, and exotics like Hastaloy,Monel and titanium. In most cases these parts were first production lapped on a John Crane Lappmaster. These are the industry standard for production laps. Soft cast iron table, auto feed for the compound. After much research reading and years of experimenting, I can offer the following;
1. Most lapping is done at far too heavy a down pressure.
2. Never reuse compound.
3. If hand lapping, move the part in a figure 8, and after about 4 repetitions, rotate the part 90 degrees. repeat until done.
4. plate glass is a good lap, but flip to the second side as soon as a good etch is seen for fine finish work.
5. A cast iron lap gets charged with the grit, and it is very difficult to progress down in grit size on the same lap.
6.When lapping on glass, glass is so cheap, that if doing several parts, it is wise to use a new glass for each grit to prevent contamination from the previous grit compound.

We were able to achieve a 8 to 12 lightband flatnes in production lapping, after super finishing on a special Heald. Good hand lapping would get us down to 4 light bands.
A light band is the interference band on an optical flat under a special monocromatic light. Woe be to the fella I catch lapping with my optical flat. It is a measuring tool, and Very pricey.
ptree - Wednesday, 10/18/06 19:37:47 EDT

Stone Anvils: Atli,

How big a chunk do you need, the Valmont butte above my family home in Boulder, Colorado is a dike formed from a volcanic intrusion of basalt. It is very dense, I would estimate that it is over 100# per cubic foot. I have a chunk in the front yard that must be over 2 tons. The stones have a natural cubic structure, and almost no porosity. My brother owns a plastic injection molding plant so I could probably set you up with a reasonable shipping cost, if we can use business to business rates.
habu - Wednesday, 10/18/06 21:29:06 EDT

Stone Anvils: Atli, here is a pic of the Valmont dike.
habu - Wednesday, 10/18/06 21:59:17 EDT

Granite Plates: ENCO is a good source for cheap granite surface plates
9x12x2 $17 18x24x3 $50
- Tom H - Thursday, 10/19/06 07:07:24 EDT

grizzly anvils: I am very new to blackmithing and am looking to buy an anvil. i found these anvils at but am unsure if they are worth getting because of all the articles i have read about some of the crappy anvils people are making today. if these arnt good anvils could someone tell me where to find a good anvil?
Derrick Crew - Thursday, 10/19/06 07:50:23 EDT

Derrick, These are classic ASO's. At least Grizzly is honest and clearly states they are cast iron. These also get the award for being the world's ugliest ASO.

The price difference between a new cast iron ASO and a real anvil is 4 to 7 to one for good reason.

For nearly the same money as the large Grizzly you could buy a slightly smaller old used anvil. The old anvil may be a little beat up or damaged but it will be HARD. It will also appreciate while you own it as long as you do not do anything stupid to it. Meanwhile the cheap ASO is worse than a new car and is worth about half what it cost as soon as you drive it home. . .

With the old anvil you can always trade up without losing money where with the ASO you might have a hard time moving it at all.
- guru - Thursday, 10/19/06 08:11:14 EDT

SLACK-TUB PUB: Is temporarily offline due to a computer glitch. Will be back shortly. Same glitch is effecting the web rings.
- guru - Thursday, 10/19/06 09:47:36 EDT

ASO : Anvil Shaped Object: a derogatory term used on this forum to indicate that the object might look like an anvil but isn't one.
adam - Thursday, 10/19/06 10:21:35 EDT

lee valley plates: For the troglodytes among us: the big one sounds like it might work as a granite anvil if stood on edge. A 3" forging surface is very useful. Probably want to stay away from the edges

Also, Ed Grothus, a local scrap merchant, often has granite tool bases and big surface plates for about $100. Shipping would likely double the price.
adam - Thursday, 10/19/06 11:12:30 EDT

Pattern finishes and Patternmaking tools: The standard pattern finish nowdays is a lacquer based paint or sanding sealer. Shellac takes too long to dry and the nitrocellulose finishes are more durable. Some patternshops are now using waterbased finishes because of the toxicity of the lacquer and VOC regulations.

About 80% of the work in my shop is patternmaking. The most useful stationary tools are a disc sander and a bandsaw. When I worked in shops with multiple patternmakers the disc sander and bandsaw were only turned of at break times they were used so much. For coreboxes s spindle sander is the main tool although for the hobbiest a drums in a drillpress will work well. A very handy hand tool is a right angle die grinder with a "socatt" or "rollock" type sanding disc on it. Rather than carving intricate internal shapes a "corestick" can be made and waxed up. Bondo can then be squeezed into the corestick, once the bondo hardens up the wax allows the corestick to come out. Squeezing stuff with bondo is used all the time in patternshops. Coreboxes are usually done with castable urethanes or epoxies but they are quite expensive and bondo works well for what you are doing.
- JNewman - Thursday, 10/19/06 16:46:49 EDT

Granite scraps: Another source to check out is the local monument company. They should have some large pieces at reasonable cost (goofs, broken dies, etc.). The place I worked with on my cemetary project had lots of old stones from where a drunk had run thru a cemetary & they had to replace a lot of chipped & broken headstones.
- Mike Sa - Thursday, 10/19/06 20:34:20 EDT

Woodworking Bandsaws and Bondo:
Everyone THINKS a table saw is the #1 tool that a wood worker needs but the #1 tool is actually a good band saw. It is amazing what you can do and how fast you can do it with a band saw. Everything from resawing lumber to "turning" and making verneer.

Big disk sanders are a horse of a tool. I know folks that prefer them for metal finishing over belt grinders. The speed and lack of belt joints are advantages.

Bondo is an amazing tool in many applications. Sadly the quality is not what it used to be. The original filler was marble powder which was much less abrasive on tools than the current glass powder. The old stuff (1960's) had a little more resin in it than the new stuff which made it quite a bit stronger. The first stuff I used was called "Zit" and was dark green. It went off the market in 1963. .

Autobody filler is great stuff for building things of plastic with simple methods. However, it is prone to air bubbles and sticks to ANYTHING. It will peal off flexible teflon mixing boards we always just used a piece of board such as masonite and scraped it smooth between each batch. Eventually it would get to thick and heavy for convienience and we would just replace it.

Sadly autobody filler has become the choice "clean up" tool for decorative ironwork in many places. I first saw this in Costa Rica and I am told it is common in Mexico as well.

Ask your customers to be sure to specify "no plastic filler" when they get competitive bids. If you quote well made ironwork with good joinery or clean well dressed welds, a competitive quote using plastic filler is unfair to you and your customer.
- guru - Thursday, 10/19/06 21:48:20 EDT

Bandsaw: I completely agree with Jock on the worth of this tool. When I was seriously into WW I used my 14" Delta BS and cleaned up with handtools. It possible to do very fine work with a BS - I have cut dovetails that slid together after just a few licks with the chisel. Very versatile and also a darn sight more pleasant to work with than a screaming tablesaw. You can hurt yourself with a BS but its not nearly as easy as with a tablesaw or a radial arm. Also the kerf is smaller and if you are resawing expensive wood this makes a difference. But at least half the performance of a BS is the blade - especially if you want to resaw. I used Timberwolf blades from Suffolk Machinery - about twice the cost of regular blades and about 10x as good. The other thing is, especially if you want to resaw, the saw must be tuned and this is more fiddlly and feely than a tablesaw. With my 14" Delta in tune running a 3/4" Timberwolf blade I was able to peel off 1/16" veneers from a 6" board. Its a great tool but it takes more skill and attention to get good results than a TS. Nevetheless a 14" BS is really too wimpy for serious resawing - if I ever buy one again for WW, it will be an 18" or 20". I wouldnt mind the money at all - you get so much for it.
adam - Friday, 10/20/06 00:25:11 EDT

bondo for patterns: Hi JNewman. Thanks for the suggestion on bondo for coreboxes. The corebox I made for the hammer core was too complicated and time consuming to make for the quality of results I obtained. Yes, the instructor was impressed that I fulfilled my committment, and the correct hourglass pattern was produced, but due to wet sand sticking, the internal finish of the hemmer eye was much rougher on the brass hammer.

The brass hammer did not come out as well as the aluminum one. The instructor said that he never saw such low quality scrap as the 6 pounds of old water and gas cylinder valves, brass sprinkler heads and trashed screws. I added a tablespoon of broken clear glass, 8 zinc pennies, and a little piece of the aluminum sprue for de-oxidizing (per C.W. Ammen's book). The charge took forever to come up to pouring temperature. I don't know why. It had a huge thick dross and slag layer, and the instructor felt that he had to throw an ingot into the crucible so that there would be something to pour. The dross had entrained a lot of the good brass. The instructor said that I must have charged the crucible with 6 pounds of crap. When the temperature finally reached 1900F on the pyrometer, we decided to pour. Since I had the hastily assembled outfit, I did the pour. On the first mold (my hammer), I missed the hole because as soon as the brass broke through the dross layer, there was a huge zinc flare that had me choking on the fumes and thinking about fever. Even though there was a huge vent hood over the pouring area, I had a lot of zinc taste in my mouth. That cost me the surface finish on my hammer head on the gate end. The faces, eye and emblem came out OK, though. The second head went fine, and I went on to pour the rest to partially fill an ingot mold. So, it seems that there might have been enough in the first charging anyway.

Still, it was much harder, especially the melting and fluxing. Was the flux correct? Should it have been added nearer the end? Should copper phos shot have been used instead of the aluminum? I did not see any other reference recommending aluminum, and the slag did come out looking like carborundum. Maybe I should have just skipped it or used charcoal powder. Anyway, that was kind of hard and discouraging, but at least we got two decent hammers out of the deal. Right before the pour, we watched a movie about a gunsmith at Williamsburg. He made the melting and pouring of brass look so routine.
EricC - Friday, 10/20/06 01:24:52 EDT

Long Trip: I just got back from a great stay at the new england school of metal work. Had a great class with Chris Winterstein and am now a proud new owner of a tire hammer, which once canadian customs is done with i will be able to use.

I also would like to Thank Lee Ann Mitchell for helping me get started in this little blacksmithing world of ours. And for the hard work she has done for ABANA, she will be greatly missed.
Kim Saliba - Friday, 10/20/06 08:08:29 EDT

Melting Brass:
From my little experiance with scrap brass.

You flux from the start. All those lumps and pieces of metal are oxidizing as soon as you put them in the hot furnace. The flux (I used plain old borax) should reduce the dross both by helping remove good material and by preventing further oxidation.

The dross should be removed before pouring. This is done with a poker type tool in brass, a spoon in aluminium. Stir it around the top of the melt and the dross clings to the steel tool (will stick tightly if kept in the heat too long).

Adding aluminum, zinc pennies ect, should have been avoided. When you go through your scrap you want as much similar scrap as possible. If you have mostly red brass fittings then stick to red brass. If you have yellow brass stick to it. All these alloys were originaly well alloyed for pouring but mixed together you do not know.

I've not used a pyrometer for brass. When it starts to flare it is usualy hot enough.

A simple window fan can provide enough air movement that you should not be in the cloud of zinc fumes. Checking to be sure you are not down wind when you start helps as well.

Part roughness is caused by MANY things. The first is gas trapped in the mold. This almost always makes the cope (top) side of the part rougher than the drag (bottom). If a part has a side that is more critical than the other then it sould be DOWN not up. Trash in the mold (sand, dross, foam), usually collects near gates of sprue edges as does gas. Insufficient riser to feed the part increases roughness but most often leads to shrinks. If the sand is loose (not rammed tight) it will break loose and cause rough places AND metal can pentrate into the sand. Sand penetration is often from too hot a pour.

To reduce roughness due to gas most mold makers take a wire and poke a dozen of so holes nearly touching OR touching the part (top only, ocassionaly sides). These let steam out of the sand and often act as vents for the part. Overdone they can add to roughness by adding tits to the work but these are better than gas pocket depressions. The tits can be cut off while it is difficult to fill the depressions. The size of the wire varies with the size of the part and the mold. For small items a piece of MIG wire works and for larger work a coat hanger or bare 1/16" wire.

On plaster molds you often see a mass of vents because you cannot poke holes in plaster like you do in sand and the plaster is not as permeable to gas as is sand.

ROUTINE: Until you do it a few times pouring red hot metal is a little scary and you tend to forget what you are doing. I always recommend that folks PRACTICE with a loaded cold crucible. You need the feel for the weight, you need to have your tools at hand, places to lay hot parts, you need to be comfortable in your moves like an experianced dancer. After some practice you are less excited and can THINK about what you are doing. You also want to be sure EVERYTHING is ready and in its place.

Pouring often goes awry for the amature. Everthing from flamables in the mold, missing the mold, the mold breaking or leaking, the crucible cracking or leaking, or simply the crucible tongs not being a good fit OR you don't expect the weight.

One of the best safety ideas I have heard was to bury the mold in loose sand or to work on a sand table (vicopper's suggestion I think). That way if the mold breaks or leaks the hot metal does not run off into your shoes. Even though it is uncomfortable (for me) I prefer working with liquid metal on the ground. It has nowhere to go except where it is. . .

- guru - Friday, 10/20/06 09:33:41 EDT

Pouring Metal Continued:
I forgot to mention, you almost always need twice as much metal to pour as is the size of the part. The sprue or sprue and riser should about equal the part in weight. So this means that if all you can melt is 5 pounds you cannot make a 5 pound part. Well, you can, but it will often be a very poor part.
- guru - Friday, 10/20/06 09:38:43 EDT

Guru, when I took my brass casting class we always added zinc to the crucible to make up for what burned off while melting the metal (we used scrap too) However it was done near the very end just before the pour---less time for it to burn off! We added the zinc did a final stir to distribute it and poured.

Thomas P - Friday, 10/20/06 11:19:02 EDT

My first band saw was my little 4x6 Rigid cutoff saw. It was not much on fancy wood cutting but it made making 4" thick swage block patterns possible from solid mahogany. The other wood working job I did with it was cut angled legs for a couple work benches. Nice straight precision cuts at the exact angle I wanted.

My second bandsaw was an old 24" wood working band saw (popular brand I cannot remember). It needed work when I got it (lots of rust). In the process of going over it I learned a lot about adjusting band saws. The 24" throat is complemented by a 14" open height. The table tilts and the miter gauge from an old Delta saw fit it.

We set it up to make musical instruments and built several guitars. Using the tilting table and miter gauge we made several tapered dovetail neck joints that were absolutely perfect in almost no time. With little skill we made all kinds of joints that I had never made before and never would have attempeted without this fabulous tool. We also resawed rough lumber and made paper thin verneers. Its great for making frames, furniture, patterns, shims, wedges. . . It is fast and aggressive while leaving a smooth cut at the same time.

I thought I was pretty imaginative in the ways I had used the saw then I picked up a book on bandsaw work. . . I was amazed.

Eventually I will get a good table saw. Probably when I build my next house. . . I hope for it to be a SawStop safety stop table saw. But until then I can do everything I need with the tools I have.
- guru - Friday, 10/20/06 12:39:24 EDT

Basalt Anvils: Frank and Habu:

Thank you for your offers. I would suspect that the limit would be the convenience, weight, and expense of shipping same, so 50 pounds down to about 24 pounds would suffice for experiments. Now, if I were driving west, or you were driving east, I'd go for about 100 pounds or more. (In one of the sagas, as I remember, a stone anvil in iceland is pointed out as the biggest stone that a strong man could fetch from just off the shore.)

A flt top and botom would be useful. I always thought that a section of basalt column would lend itself to the role of anvil.

Be sure to save a sample for Jock. :-) I suspect that the fine-grain granite would be more durable in the role of anvil than the more stiking large grain stone. I do
know that the piece of granite that we've used for small work held up pretty well, even on the polished face. It also had a convenient hole for a pritchel.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 10/20/06 13:47:26 EDT

Casting brass: For flux, I prefer a 3:1 mixture of borax and boric acid. Like Jock said, flux form the beginning and keep fluxing as required. Flux again right after skimming the dross just before you pour. The flux, being much less dense than the brass, will stay behind and the brass runs out beneath it.

Practice, practice, practice. Cold first. As many times as it takes to get comfortable with all the moves and to get a bit of "muscle memory" learned. It can literally save your life.

Yes, I recommended working in a sandbox or on a sand table. It keeps your feet healthy. Be sure it is big enough to allow you the room to make all the necessary moves without tripping over it.

More sprue volume is never a problem; too little always is. Big old cut-off sprues work just as well for the next melt as ingots do, but the ingot mold will do nothing for ensuring that your current project has sufficient molten metal to fill well. Likewise, extra vents only make a bit more work when cleaning up, but may save you a partial fill problem. Which would you rather have?

As for modifying a melt chemistry, I don't recommend it. Unless you have the sophisticated measuring instruments and metallurgists of a major foundry, you're just performing a superstitious ritual. When casting plumbing scrap, the stuff was right for casting the last time, and it really won't change much this time. If it does change, how are you going to know just how much it changed? If a bit of zinc or tin burn off, you just get closer to copper; so what problem is that?

For a 10# crucible of brass or bronze, I usually did my dross skimming with a slightly rusty barbecue fork. I liked the long handle and the two times really helped pick up the dross.

Hope this helps.
vicopper - Friday, 10/20/06 16:03:51 EDT

Saws: I get a tremendous amount of use out of my cheapo 14" Rockwell knock-off. I use it for wood, plastic, metal and almost anything else that comes along.

For cabinet making and a bunch of other processes though, I will take a table saw every day of the week. They're not for re-sawing or scroll cutting, but few tools wil top them for cutting good joints, accurate rips, square edges, etc. They're quick and easy to set up and use, and really pretty safe if you're not careless or stupid. And a 14" bandsaw, or even a 20" one, won't whack a sheet of plywood in half.

As for the safety of bandsaws, never forget that they are the tool of choice for cutting up carcases in a butcher shop. They'll do the same for you just as happily.

vicopper - Friday, 10/20/06 16:10:19 EDT

Foundry: I've stayed out, because others are giving good advice. Remember that concrete is an explosive if hit with melted metal, especialy brass or iron, but to some extent with aluminum. I clear the smithy floor, and part of the adjacent vehicle bay and lay down 4" of sand, and work over that.

I second the suggestion of cold practice. Learning the moves with a hot crucible of metal is NOT GOOD.

Brass is tricky without any analytical lab backup. I add a little zinc, if I am remelting previously poured material. It is just VooDoo though, but it seems to make the melt a little more fluid.

My favorite material is Everdur Bronze. It is stable and can be remelted many times without significant change in properties. Castings can be TIG repaired without any color match problem.

SAFETY has to be the main thing. There is NO room for error in the safety.
- John Odom - Friday, 10/20/06 18:18:42 EDT

The basalt around Santa Fe is pourous and spongy looking, not ideal for an anvil.
- Frank Turley - Friday, 10/20/06 19:38:01 EDT

- Tyler Murch - Friday, 10/20/06 19:53:56 EDT

BIG tongs for sale: here's the link..
Tyler Murch - Friday, 10/20/06 19:55:26 EDT

Spalling Concrete:
This is why I like to work out in the gravel drive when doing some things. It may be one of the few good reasons for a dirt floor. If you are going to do lots of small foundry work the sand floor or a brick floor is good. Sand over brick is excellent.

When I designed my big shop I put in a sunken floor about 6" deeper lower than the surrounding floor for the forge area. This was to be filled with pea gravel and some crush run. Something softer on the feet than concrete. This had a sloped concrete bottom with drains so that the gravels could be hosed down when it got to scaley or dusty.

Alas, it will probably be filled with concrete by the next owner. . .
- guru - Friday, 10/20/06 21:10:41 EDT

Tasblesaw / Bandsaw: The comparison is like comparing an apple and an orange. My Dad was a really good table saw guy, He made the thing look pretty versatile. The saw stop may be a worthwhile feature, but if the rest of the saw isn't well made I wouldn't bother with it. There are plenty of crap tablesaws on the market, and most of the good ones even need the ripfence upgraded to be worth a hoot.
Dave Boyer - Friday, 10/20/06 22:52:22 EDT

BIG tongs: gottahavem! do I get the shiny penny too? :)
adam - Saturday, 10/21/06 02:49:59 EDT

BIG tongs: yeah, you can have the penny. I found a use for the other, smaller V-bit tongs in the pic. Was trying to make a faceted ball out of a 4 inch cube. Don't know if I'll finish it. I built a new forge, and just wanted to see if it would heat it.. Here's a link to a pic of it. Also other pictures of my work. Please don't look at the bowls made from plate. I'm ashamed of them. If anyone needs a tomahawk, let me know!
Tyler Murch - Saturday, 10/21/06 11:01:55 EDT

if that link doesn't work¤t=big003.jpg&refPage=&imgAnch=imgAnch7
Tyler Murch - Saturday, 10/21/06 11:04:03 EDT

I like the big sq bowl. Its a nice shape. The inside needs to textured evenly and the edges and corners need some kind of treatment too. Sitting on a coffee table filled with nuts - it would be quite pleasing IMO. You didn't forge that 5/8 plate by hand did you?
adam - Saturday, 10/21/06 12:03:44 EDT

I asked not to look at those, dude, but yes I did forge it by hand. That's all I got. I'm just 17. I'll have a power hammer, a press, and all that good stuff someday hopefully.
Tyler Murch - Saturday, 10/21/06 12:12:09 EDT

And what did you expect when you tell people not to look? :) You shouldnt be a bit embarrassed about your experiments - we all try ideas and usually the first attempt or so isnt satisfactory. If this was the 100th pc in a series you made that would be different - but as a test piece its pretty cool.

By hand - well all I can say is you are seriously something - probably crazy. I too forge without power tools and I thought I was kinda hardcore forging tongs from 1" sq bar but that chunk of 5/8" plate is out of my league. Not sure I would shake your hand - might never be able to pick my nose again! :)

Anyway its a pretty cool piece IMO partly *because* of the mass - it just needs some finishing. I wouldnt mind it on my coffee table (if I had a coffee table - mine is now in CA with my ex - lol)
adam - Saturday, 10/21/06 14:57:22 EDT

I too like the mass. Little stuff doesn't hold the heat long enough! :>)
Tyler Murch - Saturday, 10/21/06 21:03:38 EDT

Tyler: Adam is right. You have nothing to be embarrased about. The fact that you are not pleased with your piece means you will strive to improve. I make a living forging and fabricating and I am almost never satisfied with my work. I always want it to be better. I did a small handrail recently for a house built in 1832. The owners want to pay me for it but I won't let them until I redo it. They think it is great, but I can see things I don't like. The only reason I installed it was because it was one of those last minute gotta have it this week things. Never be satsfied with your work and you'll always be working to be the best.
- Jeff G - Saturday, 10/21/06 23:12:38 EDT

I have never yet finished a job or piece that I could not do better 5 minutes after I finished.

To quote my Dad, "In making things, designing machines or processes, you will always make mistakes. You will eventually make a machine that simply does not work. Do it early in your career, do it on a cheap one, and then move on. Always strive to make new and original mistakes in the work you do"
In other words, always try to learn from you past efforts.
ptree - Sunday, 10/22/06 10:41:54 EDT

Finishing a piece: On the other hand, when designing and art/craft is involved, it's good to know when to stop, or the piece may become "ro-coo-coo".
Frank Turley - Sunday, 10/22/06 11:19:31 EDT

In art, painting and sculpture there is a tendancy to "overwork" a piece. That "one more", that little bit, a line, a dab of paint that you THINK it needs. . that is too much and the difference between good and bad. Good artists learn this lesson early and some never learn. Overworked pieces lose that spontanaiety that speak of genius in work.

It is easy to know in drawing when you have overworked a line drawing because it is that ONE last line that more do not help. In painting it is much more difficult to know where you went too far. Knowing when to stop is the trick.
- guru - Sunday, 10/22/06 14:47:13 EDT


In glassblowing we have the same problem. Very often I have to yell "BOX IT!"* at students, because they think that just one more heat is going to make their piece better... when all they're doing is putting more tool marks on the piece. Knowing when to put it in the box (or whatever is appropriate) is one of the most important skills an artist in any field can have.

*Glass must go straight into an annealer after being worked in the furnace. Most annealers look like... big boxes.
- T. Gold - Sunday, 10/22/06 17:34:46 EDT

Coal: Finally tried out some of the coal they were selling at the Quad State meet in Sept. Seems a little smokey (a little oilish maybe?), but coked up well, burned clean & only found one tiny klinker when I was done.

Had thrown several small things under the forge the last few weeks until I had time to light a fire. Wound up working copper, stainless, tool steel, besides plain iron before I got pooped out. Not a bad day.
- Mike Sa - Sunday, 10/22/06 20:28:52 EDT

overworking: For us novices sometimes we quit to soon. Sometimes you need to build on what you have. A lot can be said about standing back and seeing what you have but while I agree with the guru sometimes you do need to build a bit on what you have.
- tinker - Sunday, 10/22/06 22:15:51 EDT

Knowing when to stop: One of the cutter grinders at the plant said " The whole trick to grinding is knowing when to stop" This aplies to most aspects of the machine trades.
Dave Boyer - Monday, 10/23/06 00:36:48 EDT

Frank, if it goes Rococo have you Baroque'd it?

Thomas P - Monday, 10/23/06 10:56:17 EDT

Too many notes your majesty.: As someone whose skill lies between advanced beginner and retarded intermediate, the problem is partly technique. I might have a clear idea of what the finished piece should look like and I achieve it but it looks tired and overworked because my hammering wasnt efficient and it took too many blows to get there. The remedy if find is to make the piece over and over again, trying to improve every time until it's comes out with a minimum of work and looks clean and fresh. On simple stuff this usually takes me a couple three, these days. OTH there are pieces that I have been working on for over a year without getting what I am after. Haephestus can forge a pair of tongs with one blow of the hammer! (not including the rivet of course, that would be absurd)
adam - Monday, 10/23/06 11:03:42 EDT

poetry and metal work: While in college as a writing major, one of the best pieces of advice I ever got was in poetry class. The professor said "do whatever you want to do, and then put it in a drawer. Take it out three, six, or even nine months later and do it again." Sometimes it helps to just let something sit (unless there is a deadline, of course) and come back later, instead of working it to death the first time.
-Aaron @ the SCF
thesandycreekforge - Monday, 10/23/06 13:14:44 EDT

Dancing to no music

It's odd that sometimes the first go at a thing will have a sort of primative vigor that gets lost as were try to "perfect" it.

Thomas P - Monday, 10/23/06 15:11:27 EDT

I think it was the writer Frank O'Connor who said he usually would revise a piece 18 times. Seventeen revisions did not quite do it. But 19, O'Connor (or whoever this was) said, and the resulting prose had an offensively blinding lapidary quality. Similarly, in olden tymes writers talked of a piece "smelling of the lamp"-- overwrought, too precious.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 10/23/06 16:34:18 EDT

The advantage to power hammer forging with eough power and skill is that you can do ever so much more without having it look overworked. Heavy blows leaving tell tale prints that belay their actual power. On the other hand I have seen work torn to pieces under a power hammer.

The power still gives one the capability to do things cleanly that would otherwise be a mess hand forged. It is not just the number of blows but the number of heats.

Writing is a different kind or "art". Where a drawing, painting or sculpture can be ruined by one stroke too many you can always go back with writing.

However, practice along with some spontaneity usualy produces the best work in the first instance. Newbies and amatures often do not have the skills to be spontaneous in the medium they are working in. Many claim that because forging is direct that it is spontaneous. I dissagree. The spontaneity must come in the smith's envisioning the work well before a heat is taken. After that the process must planed and the smith must have the skills to enact the plan as cleanly as possible.
- guru - Monday, 10/23/06 16:39:03 EDT

I'll take several heats trying to correct a glaring flaw, then give up and move on. When I finish the piece, I'll find that the flaw blends in with the other "features" that make the piece look hand worked. But my eyes will be irresistably drawn to a lump I could have fixed with one blow, if I'd just seen it while the piece was still hot.

I guess (hope) it's all part of learning.
Mike B - Monday, 10/23/06 17:32:53 EDT

Editing: I always like Rudyard Kipling's description of how he wrote things. He said that he would patiently write out the entire story and then put it away in a drawer and not look at it for a fortnight. Then he would take it out and read it, using a brush and India ink to paint out any words he felt were unnecessary. He would do that several times until he felt the piece was sufficiently trimmed of unnecessary "fat" and only the necessary prose remained. It seems to have worked well in his case.
vicopper - Monday, 10/23/06 20:28:57 EDT

Jack London (To Build a Fire, Call of the Wild, The Sea Wolf, etc.) said he woke up every morning and read his galley proofs. If he liked what he read, he said, he signed them and sent them back to the publisher to be printed. If he did not like them... he signed them, and sent them back to the publisher to be printed.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 10/23/06 21:06:02 EDT

cooking: I like Aron's idea of putting the project aside. I have about 50 projects that are umm "cooking". I used to feel bad but now I realize this is part of my creative genius!
adam - Monday, 10/23/06 22:20:54 EDT

Poetry: I like to read Frost's poem, "October" at this time of year. Here are my favorite lines:

Oh hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow.

Make the day seem to us less brief.

Hearts not averse to being beguiled.

Beguile us in the way you know

Release one leaf at break of day;

At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away.

Retard the sun with gentle mist;

Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!

adam - Monday, 10/23/06 22:25:48 EDT

When I was 20 I used to read A.E.Houseman's poems especially the one about "And take from 70 springs a score it leaves me but 50 more" Huh now I'm on the backwards end of that poem as I turn 50 in Dec...

"Terrance this is stupid stuff
You eat your victuals fast enough
There can't be much amiss I fear
to see the rate you drink your beer!
But oh good Lord the verse you make
it gives a chap the bellyache!"
TPowers - Monday, 10/23/06 23:44:43 EDT

Writers Methods:
Anne McAffree's advice is to write, edit, proof, edit,. . edit again. She has said that every manuscript must be fully edited at least three times.

Isaac Asimov would sit at the type writer, type the manuscript from his idea, turn it into his editor, accept the one or two minor changes the editor suggested usualy having to do with a minor aspect of flow or redundancy and that was it. Basically the story was finished AS-TYPED.

In between are those that suggest setting the work aside and looking at it later. All are different methods that suit different people. Of course Isaac Asimov was a genius but there have been a number of writers that wrote this way. In the age before white-out ribbon much less the PC people learned to get it right the first time, especially those with the mental capacity for such things.

Then there are we mere mortals that must spell check, proof, edit, rework and re-edit. Hard to believe that the typewriter dissapeared only a generation ago.

- guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 08:31:20 EDT

Minimalism is one way to go, I suppose-but me, I am a fan of the architect Morris Lapidus, who designed many of the great resort hotels in Miami.
His autobiography was entitled "Too Much is Never Enough".
Obviously, he, and I , believe that in some cases overworking things can be a good thing.
Kinda like old Joe Stalin, who once said "Quantity has a Quality all its own".

One of my favorite songs these days is called "A little bit more".

I just noticed that Anyang is advertising here.
I find that interesting- good for anvilfire, but also indicative that not all Chinese companies are content to just make low end stuff for K-mart.
When at the ABANA conference this summer, I met the head of Anyang (yep, the corporate president type guy came all the way from china to hang out at the blacksmiths convention- imagine an american corporate type doing that)
He did not speak any english, but he was there with his head engineer, who did.
They are very interested in the american market, and want to give us what we want- unlike many companies, who dont care.
Bob Graham, who imports the anyangs here, told me that if he has an idea for an improvement to the hammers, he emails china. Usually, if its practical, they will have a test mule running in China within a couple of weeks with the change, and if it works well, he might have parts fed exed to him within a month.
Contrast that with many manufacturers who are convinced their designs are immutable and perfect.
Buffalo Ironworkers, for example, has not changed their basic design since before World War 2- which explains why, even though the company is still in biz, nobody has seen a new one anywhere I know since about 1985.

The Anyang guys care about the US market, and are willing to do what it takes to please american blacksmiths and sell hammers here. I have been running an Anyang, HARD, for several years, and the basic iron is good, the details needed refining, but they are getting better every year.
Since it is impossible for a US foundry to come close to the cost of a anyang cast iron hammer- about 3$ a pound FOB northern California- if you want a cast frame, as opposed to fabricated steel, the chinese are the only choice.
So I think its great they are trying so hard.
- ries - Tuesday, 10/24/06 10:51:46 EDT

Hmpf! The typewriter did most emphatically NOT disappear. Vermont Country Store has an Olivetti portable in its catalog right this very minute for $200. I have scads of them that I rescue from flea markets and garage sales. Anybody who has a yen for one and will promise to give it a good home and not cannibalize it to use the keys for jewelry can come get it for the asking. The critical issue: ribbons. TPowers: FYI, Grandma Moses did not even start to paint until she was 71-- and then kept on going like a house afire for the next 30 years. Don't sweat it.
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 10/24/06 11:35:04 EDT

Typewriters: Guru,
The typewriter didn't disappear..entirely....I bought one during college after one of the writing professors "suggested" I buy one. Why? The college had top of the line computers, the computer labs were open 24/7, and I had a computer in my dorm room.
The professor saw that some of my drafts were not...up to par (read as: whipped out the night before) and in fact this was a problem with quite a few of us in the class. So the professor "suggested" that we all get a typewriter and turn in typewritin first and second drafts. Once I realized how much work it took to type well on a typewriter compared to a computer keyboard (the typewriter i bought didn't have a correction ribbon, lucky me), my draftwork, by some sort of magic, started getting better and better:)
When I am writing anything that requires multiple drafts, I still use the typewriter for the first few drafts. It makes me slow down and actually think about what I am gonna type before I type it.
Now there must be some way to apply this to blacksmithing....
-Aaron @ the SCF
thesandycreekforge - Tuesday, 10/24/06 12:46:51 EDT

Miles, Grandma Mosis didn't have to move anvils! As part of my teaching deal at the tech FA dept they have to supply the folks to load and unload all the equipment!

I knew Emmert Studebaker when he was in his 90's and just hope I do as well. I plan to live forever or die trying!

BTW we picked up "the best of LIFE" book at a local sale; wife had to have it for a pic of Gandi at his spinning wheel...

Have you thought of a bicycle/typewriter mobile...

Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/24/06 13:25:04 EDT

sandycreek-- Lawrence Block the mystery writer used to make himself buy the costliest rag bond paper and use it for first drafts for precisely that reason-- it forced him to bear down and THINK about what he was typing. He's switched to the pooter now, however. Editors insist on it. Thomas-- maybe no anvils (although I would not bet on that, she being a farm girl) but Grandma sure moved a lotta dollars. I knew a few people on the masthead of that volume, long time back. A whole different cell structure, it was.
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 10/24/06 15:06:13 EDT

Typewriters & Slide Rules:
The last working typewriter I had was a Brother electronic that doubled as a printer for a PC. .

My Mom had an old manual Emerson (I think) typewriter from the 1940's. I used to type on it ocassionaly but I spent more time playing with the ingenious mechanisms that made it work. What a fantastic piece of machinery!

My ex-wife earned money in school typing other people's papers on a manual machine. Imagine the process of alowing room for foot notes where they had to be on the correct page with the refered text! Underlining had to be done by hand with a pen. I thought it odd that 1 out of 10 people in school at that time could properly type their own papers as required. . .

I never typed a page until I got a PC in 1983 (I think). It had a mono screen, ran PFS Professional Write from a floppy and printed to an EPSON FX-85 dot matrix printer. . PFS had the best rated spell checker of the time (on a seperate disk) and I think its dictionary still beats anyone else's 23 years later.

I cannot imagine going back to a typewriter.

SLIDE RULES are also a thing of the past. And even though I know a few engineers from the slide rule generation that swear they would never use a computer they all have pocket calculators. . .

I was right on the cusp. In my physics class we used slide rules. I've had several but never knew enough about using logarithms to make great use of them. I have a small collection and several books on the "bones". But by the time I was out of high school the first TI calculators were coming out and in a few years they were actually affordable. My Dad had a "company issue" TI back when the little slightly too big to fit a pocket models cost over $1000. A few years later a more powerful model in the same sloped plastic box only cost $15.

I have worn out a number of the original TI-30's and when the last TI-30 SLR (solar) with the folding plastic cases went off the market I bought all I could find. The replacements had that stupid sliding cover and worst of all PI was moved to a second function. I have at least 3 floating around and 1 still in the shrink wrap.

But I still have that small collection of slide rules and books on them. The simplicity and functionality of the sliding scales is amazing. It is one of those things that the history and use of should still be taught in school. . .

I was more intersted in how you figure out how to MAKE a slide rule and their history than how to use one well.

Yeah, I also have an Abacus.

- guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 16:37:03 EDT

Typewriters: I used a 1935 Royal portable to type all my papers the first three years I was in college. The professors loved that, since by that time everyone else was using those "oh, brother" electrics or Commodore 64s, Apple IIs, or Amigas (no-one but the school could afford an IBM PC). My mother-in-law, who is a 1924 model, used that Royal until last week, when the braided linen cord that operated the slide finally broke. You'd think a piece of string wouldn't have lasted 71 years of use...

I can't figure out how to get in there to replace it without taking the whole thing apart, and I fear that's probably beyond my abilities.

Anyway, I too used that expensive paper and tried to do single-draft papers. My freshman year I did a 51-page (single side, double spaced) paper WITH footnotes and only had 6 or 7 typos. Since the paper was off-white a typo meant a new page, as correction tape or white-out was too obvious. That, and the thick paper held letter impressions like engraving.

Now I do all my writing on the computer, and if I didn't proof everything prior to posting would average maybe two typos per line on a GOOD day.

Alan-L - Tuesday, 10/24/06 16:58:42 EDT

Authors: I remeber being very impressed to read that Dick Francis (mystery writer and retired jockey) wrote his books in a spiral notebook, in ink, and sent them off to be published with no strike-throughs or corrections. When his wife died a year or two ago, he admitted that she'd been doing much of the writing. I guess he was just copying the finshed product into his own handwriting. (I don't think any less of the books, though).
Mike B - Tuesday, 10/24/06 17:17:01 EDT

My Mother, a 1928 model, went to secretary school in WWII. She graduated as a legal/exucative secretary. I know that she had to type at 100 wpm on a manual, and make a perfect letter without corrections at that speed to graduate. She also takes shorthand at blinding speed. She still has a manual and refuses to use anything else. Finding ribbons is tuff, but we found a supply a while back. Maint. is the tuffer thing.
ptree - Tuesday, 10/24/06 17:22:04 EDT

The esteemed Guruissimo writes re: typewriters: "What a fantastic piece of machinery!" -- That is what appeals to me, too, and it is why I rescue them from the unfeeling barbarians who keep them out in the garage where their delicate rubber platens embrittle and crack from freezing and baking, where their complex innards fill up with cat hair and sand. What marvelous contraptions! There are still zealots around who will work on them. Slide rules-- I have a drawer full of them too. Round ones, eency pocket jobs, hairy log-logs that the science wonks used to wear into trig class clattering in their belt sheaths, my Dad's old ivory K&E. Love 'em all. Anybody up for some extrapolation? Hmmm?
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 10/24/06 17:38:24 EDT

Past tech: I love it. I grew up to the sound of my Mom whacking away at an old Underwood typewriter as she typed theses for the grad students at CU. She wasn't still at the speed she did when she worked at the Pentagon during the war, but she could still do about 80-90 wpm (typing five carbons, all corrected).

Mom was extremely popular with the Oriental students, as she was an English major and would correct their grammar, spelling and syntax as she typed. There was such a steady stream of Oriental students inand out of the house for a year that the neighbors thought that we were probably oriental as well, since they had only (mis)heard the name as "Wong".

One neighbor was an elderly Polish/Jewish refugee who refused to even look our way, thinking that we we probably oriental former Axis sympathizers or some such, and that those students were some sort of collaborators. It was two years before he accidentally met my parents at another gathering and learned that they were, in fact, solid Caucasian Democrats. He was a great old gentleman who had been through some incredible times.

Pop was a scientific type and used a slide rule to the day he retired. Big old Keuffel and Esser Log, log, duplex decitrig thing on which he could do most anything mathematical. He would sit at his desk and peer through the bottoms of his trifocals, writing notes with his right hand while his left hand ran that old slipstick back and forth like a machine. I believe that using that slide rule, with the attendant requirement that one keep track of significant digits and logs in one's head, gave him a tremendous memory for numbers. He was an almost unbeatable Bridge player, as he could remember every card played. I'd be delighted to have half the mind that Pop has.

About all I can do on either a typewriter or slide rule is open the box. I couldn't learn to type at all until I got a computer, and all I can do an a slide rule is multiply and divide. Come to think of it, anything I can do on either of those magnificent inventions I can do just about as well with a pencil. A scathing indictment of my technical abilities, I'm afraid. It's no damn wonder I'm comfortable blacksmithing.
vicopper - Tuesday, 10/24/06 19:02:20 EDT

I remember reading a SF story where they had a motorized 300' long slide rule in an aircraft hanger to do the precise calculations for space flight... I can still mentally fill in "caculator" when I see slide rule in old science fiction.

A good friend in highschool had the first calculator there it cost several hundred dollers and did only add, subtract multiply and divide and did not have a key pad you had a metal stylus (on a wire) that you made electrical contact with metal plates for the numbers. He had already ordered an HP for $700 in the mid 1970's BTW, when TI came out with a cheaper more powerful model than what he had ordered.

Lets hear it for the difference engine and napier's bones!
Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/24/06 19:16:46 EDT

Knowing when to quit.: I was thinking today that an interesting shop exercise would be to do a run of things, nails, j hooks, or something, and limit yourself to a number of heats, or hammer blows, or time limit per peice. Think of it as practicing musical scales.

And then rough out an idea either on paper or in your mind, and again take certain number of heats, hammer blows, or time, and see how close the finished item is to what you envisioned.
JimG - Tuesday, 10/24/06 20:00:54 EDT

slide rules & typewriters..: Isn't it spooky how similar many of us are in the things we hang onto? I too have my old underwood & my K&E slide rule. When I was in junior college (as far as I ever made it....back then you could get good jobs & work your way up without a degree), there were 2 calculators. One owned by a math professor, the other by a rich kid who wore it on his belt (both the slope cased TI's). A group of friends pooled their money & bought a large calculator (the size of a computer cpu today) which only did the bare basics. I think they paid 700 bucks for it.
- Mike Sa - Tuesday, 10/24/06 21:48:06 EDT

" Big old Keuffel and Esser Log, log, duplex decitrig thing":
My dad tossed his old 20" K&E in the trash the day we were last moving. The cursor lens broke on one side in the trash. . I pulled it out of the trash. Today, in good condition is would be worth around $500 as a collectors' item. Parts are ocassionaly available so I am going to start looking.

I remember seeing a 15 FOOT slide rule in a classroom but it had no more resolution than a standard 10" as it was just a teaching tool. Neat piece of hardware though.

In the early 1970's my Dad had a highly mathematical pattent and the math throughout (differencial equasions) had to be carried out to at least 6 decimal places OR to the finish. My mom did most of the calulations assisted by a big old mechanical adding machine to reduce the simple errors in the long division. . . reams of paper.

EXTRAPOLATION and ITERATION. . when I learned how to do this with a simple BASIC program I gave up on using calculators. Even though the fancy ones are programmable and display graphs they have none of the ease of programming in BASIC and the abillity to store programs on common interchange media like a PC. Need portability, get a small laptop and load QuickBASIC and a couple math programs. . .

The other simple tool I like is the Vernier scale. It is amazing how accurate you can make measurements by simply dividing the same space that you normaly divide by 10 by 11 instead and compare the two to accurately measure something 1/10th division size. . It is another one of those tools with a history that once invented is simple to anyone that looks at it but required genius to create.

Without these simple mechanical methods of measuring and calculating that were so important just 30 years ago we would not have these marvelous electronic toys to play with today.
- guru - Tuesday, 10/24/06 22:38:09 EDT

Calculators, slide rules, & typewriters: My history parallels many - I still have 2 working typewriters - a manual smith & corona purchased for college in 1969, and a newer brother electronic - both still work, but the s & c does have a sticking key - haven't pulled either one out for years, but they're stored in a conditioned environment. Calculators - they started showing up sophomore year - my Thai roommate purchased a new H-P scientific one that year curtesy of his government who had sent him to the US to obtain an engineering degree - about $495 in 1971. Big bucks, considering that tuition, room and board, books, etc. for a semester at CMU was about $2000. Way more than this poor boy could afford. Of course, I was able to borrow it on occasions. I didn't buy my first calculator until after college, when I had a decent job and purchased a TI scientific one for way more than a less bulky one with more functions runs today. At that time, we used to joke that the big difference between TI and HP was that when you were totally frustrated with the problem, and picked up your calculator and threw it against a wall with a TI you went out and bought a new calculator and finished the problem. With an HP, you just picked it up and continued where you had left off.

Still have some slide rules I rescued from a 5-S cleanup at a previous employer - nice scientific K-E's. Just couldn't bear to have them thrown away. Learned to use the slide rule senior year in high school - used it some in college, along with log tables, and long hand calculation.
- Gavainh - Tuesday, 10/24/06 22:48:46 EDT

Just so you all know, I wasn't talking about overworking a piece, I was merely pointing out that there is always room to improve your work. When you think you have arrived, then you are done learning. I often tell students of mine that the more I learn about smithing, the less I know, as I see how much I have to learn yet.
- Jeff G - Tuesday, 10/24/06 23:33:45 EDT

Overworking, When to Quit:
Jeff, As you can see there are two ways you need to know when to quit. However, they are related and sometimes the same. At every skill level there is a "best you can do" and trying harder is a waste of time. But there is also NOT doing the best you can do. This is often laziness or lack of craftsmanship. Many people never have pride of craftsmannship drummed into them and do not TRY to do better.

But I do not believe the statement that there is always room to improve your work. Ocassionaly something is a close to perfect as is possible. And then in art there is the trap of overworking a piece. The piece may be far from perfect but at some point any addition or change will greatly  diminish it and there is no going back.

So the statement that there is always room for improvement is a trap. Yes, there may be room for improvement on ANOTHER work but NOT this one. It is a very difficult lesson to learn. The more prolific an artist is the faster they generaly learn that lesson. But in fields that the creation process is slower it takes much longer to learn this lesson.

But there is also the level of work where the ONLY person that can see room for improvement is the artist or craftsman that created a work.

I have built things that were finished absolutely PERFECTLY. At this point there is nothing else anyone can do. There is no room for improvement. I suspect that in some fields there is no such thing as perfection. But there IS perfection in many. Once there, then what?
- guru - Wednesday, 10/25/06 09:19:52 EDT

I bought an HP from a fellow in college. The HP had some problems, the biggest was that it's battery power wasn't working---took my finals that year with a 25' bright orange extension cord and the wall wart. Then over the summer I sent it back for repair, AIRI the only thing HP didn't replace was the case and all for a nominal fee so I had an HP55 for vey little money.

I prefer solar powered calcs for most things nowdays (still remembering that extension cord!); but my old boss in OH told me that the dinosaur HP's with RPN were great as you could leave them out on your desk for *years* and nobody would take them---he was right too and it was fun watching the young engineers fail to figure out how to use the calc beacuse of the RPN...

Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/25/06 12:34:48 EDT

Calculators:: On the subject of slide rules and calculators, for those who like mechanical stuff, check into the Curta Calculator on Ebay or Google.
A beautiful piece of machinery the size of a fishing reel, that was equivalent to a four function calculator with greater accuracy than the early 8-digit digital calculators. Used by surveyors in the 50's and 60's since they needed the portability and accuracy. Worth more than the average Little Giant these days.
- DonS - Wednesday, 10/25/06 14:19:33 EDT

Slide Rules: Slide Rules - I have a collection of about a dozen that I've wandered across at Flea Markets (nevered paid more then $5.00) A friend in Ottawa must have a collection of about 70 to 100 (it's been a while since we talked about this subject.)

Guru (and others)- Checkout 'The Slide Rule Universe' and their page on learning to use your slide rule. They also sell parts for repairs!

Don Shears
Don - Wednesday, 10/25/06 14:26:14 EDT

Calculators: Reverse Polish Notation is the greatest
- JohnW - Wednesday, 10/25/06 17:09:24 EDT

Solar Calculators: I still remember trying to assemble the apparatus in an optics lab in college physics. We worked in a darkened room and were supposed to have pen lights. They walked off pretty quickly, so my lab partner and I had to share one. He used it to power his solar calculator; I worked in the dark.
Mike B - Wednesday, 10/25/06 18:01:43 EDT

Calculators: In about 1972, my partner and I were involved as expert witnesses, in a bunch of cases where we had calculate a complex multipath trajectory. It took 4 hours with log ables. Slide rule wasn't quite goodenough because of error propagation from one stage to the next. The oposing counsel posed a hypothetical with different assumptions and asked my partner to calculate it, on the stand. The whole time he was harassing him and cracking jokes to the jury. He had the answer, calculated by his expert at liesure before the trial. My partner didn't quite hit the number under pressure, and our client lost the case. The next day we bought a 4 function portable electronic calculator, about the size of a college text-book. it would do 16 digits in double precision mode. It cost $400 and a trip to Atlanta. After a few weeks the next case in the series came up. The oposing counsel tried the same tactic. I pulled out the new calculator and started to calculate. The Judge said "what is that!, There will be a 10 minute recess!" Then he played with it a while, and called court back to order. The opposing counsel said, "Your honor we with draw the question." and then "We have no further questions of this wittness." By then it was lunch time. They setteled that case and all the others during lunch!
As far as I know that was the first portable electronic calculator in Chattanooga.
- John Odom - Wednesday, 10/25/06 18:03:41 EDT

Once a long time ago, my Dad's company made an aluminum extrusion that was part of a very eary calculator. He brought home a prototype to show us. Told us that it was going to retail for $1500. Said the guy buying the parts said that he was probably going to bankrupt, but that with-in 10 years they would be found bubble wrapped in the supermarket checkout line. We all laughed at that, but I did see that prediction come true.
ptree - Wednesday, 10/25/06 19:39:13 EDT

I have a question i have heard so much about zinc fumes and the toxicity of them now i was wondering what quality dose zinc add to the alloy? why not just leave it out is it a cheap filler? or is it a critical component to a bronze alloy? thanks for any help
Thanks for the info
- Anthony - Wednesday, 10/25/06 20:41:36 EDT

RPN & Zinc: Not certain what HP is doing with calculators now, but when I started my MBA in 1987/88 they were still selling the financial ones with RPN - still have that one, as well as a scientific with RPN that went on sale - that one's still in the wrapper. I usually use the computer now.

Anthony - zinc coatings on steel make it significantly more corrosion resistant. Zinc in copper alloys such as naval brass and cartridge is a critical component. Bronze is historically a copper tin mix, but there have been so many copper alloys developed for special applications with all sorts of alloying metal additions it's hard to keep track.
- Gavainh - Wednesday, 10/25/06 22:08:31 EDT

Box Brakes: Any advise on where a guy can find a good deal on a 48" box brake? I'd like to have one. Enco has one for 399, but I'd rather find a used american made one.
- Mike Sa - Wednesday, 10/25/06 22:26:28 EDT

Guru,: I am apparently not being clear. I know that sometimes you cannot go any farther with a certain piece. The guy that taught me to smith taught me that. The difference between a good piece and a great piece can be just a few strokes of the hammer. My point is that you can always improve your skills. Never be satisfied with your skill level. If I was satified that I could never do any better work, than I wouldn't attend Quad State. Or even visit this site.
- Jeff G - Wednesday, 10/25/06 22:36:27 EDT

Zinc: Anthony, brass without zinc is copper, very soft and much less useful. Bronze is defined as copper and tin but alloys that are primarily brass (60/40 copper/zinc) are called bronze if they have any measurable amount of tin (60/39/1 copper/zinc/tin).

The "copper" penny made prior to 1983 was a brassy bronze which made it hard enough to stand up use as a coin where pure copper coins rapidly wear out.

Brasses and bronzes are stronger and more corrosion resistant than pure copper. Brass is also a nice yellow color and when polished is very close to gold in color. Therefore brass has been used for jewelery and various trim on things (door and box hardware) for its appearance.
- guru - Wednesday, 10/25/06 22:44:01 EDT

Jeff, my point was that in some arts people have achieved perfection at one time or the other. So what do you do after that? History is full of artists and writers that did their very best work early in life then spent the rest of their life miserably trying to recreate that magic that produced perfection. Many ended up drunks or suicides.

Consider the shape of the violin which was perfected some 300 years ago. Since then no serious maker has dared to vary the shape or proportions of the instrument. Most attempts have been made to recreate the "perfection" of the Stradivarius violin, to recapture genius.

I see the blacksmith's leg vise much the same way. Perfection in mechanical design and style. Variations are ugly abominations by hacks that have no sense of what is good.
- guru - Wednesday, 10/25/06 23:05:55 EDT

Anthony - zinc in brass/bronze: Acording to "American Machinists' Handbook" 2nd edition [1914]"In most of the modern alloys tin is depended upon to give strength and zinc to cheapen the mixture." As to Gurus comment that 1% tin makes brass bronze, My references don't bear this out.
Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 10/25/06 23:38:44 EDT

SCA?: Hey are any of you guys in the SCA? I just joined last night.

Also, I've always been to Museum Replicas Limited for my arms & armor needs, has anybody else heard of them and do any of you guys like them too?
Matt Hunter - Wednesday, 10/25/06 23:59:01 EDT

Matt, A significant percentage of our folks are involved in the SCA, particularly the armourers and demonstrators. Then there is Atli who belongs to the MMM (Markland Military Militia) who's unofficial mottoe is "Not the SCA". His group is a Viking reenactment group complete with their own sailing ship. I think the primary difference is that the SCA has complicated political organization based on the medieval rules of serfs and royalty that is pretty much mythical, while Markland is a middle ages reenactment organization. However, many of their members are also involved in the SCA.

For more about Markland and the Longship Company see our various NEWS articles covering Camp Fenby.

Some of the Museum Replicas stuff is good while some is junk. Don't believe their "historicaly correct" line. A lot of it is fantasy stuff.
- guru - Thursday, 10/26/06 10:32:45 EDT

I have my old (circa 1988) HP-28c beside the computer at all times, because I can usually work out something faster with it than I can on the computer. And as Thomas said, it's a heck of a lot of fun to watch people try to make it work if they don't know RPN.

I have to teach my wife the RPN system twice a year when she averages grades. She complained at first, but after she got it down she realized how much faster it is. Now if she could just remember it for six months...

Matt, Museum Replicas is kind of the Walmart of the arms and armor business. Lots of stuff, low to medium quality, low prices. It'll generally get the job done, but won't be the flashiest, and everyone else will know where you got it. I loked into the SCA once upon a time, but I have enough trouble staying in the collective reality most of us are forced to inhabit. Saw no need to add another one to the list, especially since I like my own better! (grin!)
Alan-L - Thursday, 10/26/06 11:07:41 EDT

SCA & Zinc: Matt Hunnter - SCA - first Pennsic - #3, enough said. Thomas P is also a member. Current subgroup within the SCA is interested in historical reenactment and approaches the SCA through that lense. Primary reenactment period is the French & Indian War.

Dave Boyer - don't necessarily believe everything printed in 92 year old reference books - ASM handbooks definitely don't make the same comment regarding zinc in copper alloys.
- Gavainh - Thursday, 10/26/06 12:31:37 EDT

Brass and Bronze:
Dave, I went through a long list of "brass" and "bronze" alloys. In many cases the alloys have both tin and zinc and all with any stated amount of tin were classified as bronze.

Consider the old penny alloy that has always been called "bronze" for most of history it has been 95 Cu, 2.5 Zn, 2.5 Sn. So which is it? Brass or Bronze? Toss a coin! I suspect it is simply because "brass" is considered cheap and forign as in a British "brass farthing". In some years the tin in pennies dropped to as little as 1% but were still called bronze. I HAD a chart with all the penny alloys but have misplaced it. . .

Although we have TRIED for metallurgical purposes to define brass as a copper zinc alloy and bronze as a copper tin alloy the truth is that in many cases the alloys have been confused in terms and in actuality. Archaeologists have stopped arguing the point and now define any "bronze" alloy as a copper alloy with varying percentages of copper, zinc, tin and other metals. Over time so many have been mixed from scrap of both that there is no clear difference in many old pieces.

No, no reference states it but the common usage is that if there is any tin in it then it is bronze. Ask the US mint.


From 1837 to 1857, the cent was made of bronze (95 percent copper, and five percent tin and zinc).

From 1857, the cent was 88 percent copper and 12 percent nickel, giving the coin a whitish appearance (nickle bronze).

The cent was again bronze (95 percent copper, and five percent tin and zinc) from 1864 to 1962.

In 1944 to 1962 a modified alloy was used that only had a trace of tin.

In 1962, the cent's tin content, which was quite small, was removed. That made the metal composition of the cent 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc.

The alloy remained 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc until 1982 when it was replaced with copper clad zinc.


Those brassy pennies made with a TRACE of tin were called bronze. . .
- guru - Thursday, 10/26/06 12:39:55 EDT

Brass/ bronze: In the real world usage they are pretty much intercangeable. I think that many marketing types just use "Bronze" as a more expensive sounding word for any copper alloy. I personally use the following:

Brass: A copper alloy with zinc as the major alloying constituent.
Bronze (used alone): A copper alloy with tin as the major alloying constituent.

Bronze (with modifier): A copper alloy with the stated element as the major constituent> Examples: Silicon Bronze, aluminum bronze etc.

There are also proprietary proper names, like Everdur bronze etc.

I know there seems to be so standard terminology, but that is the way I write, and my customers understand.
- John Odom - Thursday, 10/26/06 14:14:51 EDT

John, That is the way it is supposed to be and is quite logical. But who said the world of man was logical?

Pennies will probably see another evolution soon. Aluminum pennies were tested in 1974 and there are many in government that are calling for abandoning the penny. However, inflation may have to get a lot worse before that happens.

In other countries the smallest coin is roughly worth a penny. In Costa Rica the 5 colon coin is the smallest demonination now made and worth about a penny. This may seem odd but everything is just rounded to the nearest c5. Actually we do it in THIS country where you have gas pumps. Most round to the nearest penny now but at one point the new electronic scales did not. They still display the volume in smaller units than anyone can visualize. Exactly how much is 1/1000 of a gallon? In countries like Costa Rica the stated price of the fuel per unit is just like here XX99 per unit (liters). When the pump adds up the amount it is almost always a not even so the customer or attendant does the rounding.

Anyway, at current costs a penny is a small amount but apparently more than one is worthwhile so they will stay around.
- guru - Thursday, 10/26/06 14:57:15 EDT

Brass and Bronze: According to my OED, "brass" was used for all copper alloys until the 1700s; "bronze" was then introduced to refer specifically to copper/tin alloys.

In Taiwan, the smallest denomination is an NT Dollar, worth about 3 U.S. cents. When I was in Italy just before the Euro, the smallest coin I saw was 50 Lira, also around $.03 U.S. And I think I only saw one of those the whole time I was there (100 Lira pieces were common). Of course, both countries have a form of value added tax that is already included in posted prices.
Mike B - Thursday, 10/26/06 17:07:26 EDT

Box and Pan Brakes: There are occasional deals to be had on used american made brakes- but the problem is that everybody wants one, and they werent cheap to begin with.
A new American Made box and pan from a reputable manufacturer like Chicago or Tennsmith will run you about $1200. for a 4ft 16ga brake.
They last virtually forever, so its hard to find a cheap used one.
The big boys, like my 4ft 12ga Chicago, costs over 6 grand new.

New, a good place to look is, as they carry a variety of brands.
If you get an idea of what they cost new, it helps you gage used prices as well.

There are some used brakes at and at but mostly bigger, more expensive models.

The enco brakes, along with the grizzly and jet models, are made in china. Not great quality, but cheap.
- ries - Thursday, 10/26/06 17:35:13 EDT

SCA; been in since 1978: Middle, Ansteorra, Calontir, Meridies, Outlands.

Don't trust *anything* MR says about the authenticity of their wares.

One other asoect of zinc in brass/bronze/lateen/? zinc adds to the fluidity of the pour when casting as well as reducing the melting point. It was used in Europe before they had a method of refining zinc (quite tricky as the reduction temp is below the vapourization & burning temp) they used to mix zinc ore with copper to "colour copper".

Thomas P - Thursday, 10/26/06 19:11:16 EDT

Brakes: For several years I used an Enco 48" finger brake in my sign shop. That, along with a 12" Roper Whitney finger brake, did yeoman duty for me on fairly light gauge stock. I mostly worked 20 ga steel and/or 22 ga stainless, sometimes some brass in 20 or 22 gauge. Very occasionally, I would do some 18 gauge steel or brass on the Enco, but pretty carefully, as that was really overrating the tool. Not a good idea with Taiwanese tools, and the Chinese ones these days may be even more marginal. But the things are simple enough in principle so if you don't over stress them you should be okay.

I strongly recommend a finger brake over a straight pan brake. The ability to adjust finger width is a huge timesaver when working small tight stuff, and you can even make specialty fingers easily enough that allow you to do some very different stuff.

If you need to work heavier stock that 20 gauge, I don't recommend the import stuff. Spend the bucks and get a used Pexto, or Whitney or Tennsmith, if you can find one. If not, but new. Once you've torqued the bed or platen on
an undersized brake, you can pretty much scrap it.

vicopper - Thursday, 10/26/06 19:38:39 EDT

"Copper Alloys": Modern archeological reports seldom refer to brass or bronze anymore, but to "copper alloy." One of the books on the Jorvik dig had a really nice triangle chart, with each point of the triangle designated as zinc, tin, or lead. Then they distributed the analysis of the artifacts across it according to the mixture. Very few ended up in the "points" of the triangle. This makes sense with a casting medium, where old pieces are constantly melted down and recycled. Yes, early medieval "copper alloys" were the rebar of their day!

Theophilus (ca. 1120) recommends the addition of calamine (zinc silicate or zinc carbonate) to the copper for making brass, and stirring charcoal ashes into it to get rid of the lead. Since he was working with church related ritual objects, purity was provbably more important than to the hiltsmith casting pommels and cross guards.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 10/26/06 23:13:40 EDT

.....Speaking of Machinery: I just got my "catalog" (more like the Sunday New York Times) from an outfit in Euclid, Ohio by the name of HGR Industrial Surplus. Check out their website; No smiffin' stuff, but just about everything else.
3dogs - Friday, 10/27/06 02:30:45 EDT

Copper alloys: Bruce, that triangle chart sounds very usefull. I would like to see one.

- John Odom - Friday, 10/27/06 08:26:27 EDT

3dogs and Thomas: Packages went out to you guys today, Priority Mail. Might take a week. I hope they make it there okay. Enjoy!
vicopper - Friday, 10/27/06 12:37:23 EDT

painting galvanized steel: Question for the panel:

Is it necessary to neutralize freshly hot-dipped galvanized steel before painting? I have done a little research and found a confusing array of information. Some suggest a chemical wash, some say no primer is needed, etc., etc.

My paint of choice is the water-based Sherwin Williams exterior grade all surface enamel. I have been using it on exterior work for a few years now and it sems to hold up well -- plus clean up is easy.

So, the real essence of this post is to find out from those of you who have had to galvanize and paint your work, what steps you took in the paint process, and what sort of results you got.

Any info, advice, warning, advised change of plans would be greatly appreciated.


shep - Friday, 10/27/06 12:51:29 EDT

Painting Galvanized:
First note that much information about painting galvanized comes from the sheet industry which rolls the sheep after galvanizing and there is usualy a thin layer of oil to make things worse.

Generally paint does not stick well to fresh galvanizing. You either let it age (years) or wash it with a weak acid to kill the shiney surface. They also make special etching primers to use on both aluminium and zinc (galvanize). It is common to use Ospho (a dilute phosphoric acid) to treat galvanized surfaces much like rusted surfaces.

Your best source of information is the technical department of the paint manufacturer who's top coat you are using. Be sure to tell them you are looking for a 20 year or greater life.
- guru - Friday, 10/27/06 13:44:15 EDT

Painting Galv: Thanks, Guru. Have been to the paint co's REMF website, but it is always helpful to have info from the man in the foxhole. Does the etchant make priming unnecessary then?
shep - Friday, 10/27/06 15:25:43 EDT

Mike Yazel Forge: Go check out the first firing photo of Mike Yazel's new forge accross the street. I find the photo where he is showing the first fire and the draft interesting. The fire looks like a face that is spitting fire upward. It tickled my imagination.
- Galoot - Friday, 10/27/06 17:50:11 EDT

It depends on the top coat and what the manufacturer says. Zinc is an active metal and can react with the pigments in the paint or even the base.

There are three types of primer.

1) Active ingediant to etch, prevent rust, seal, fill.
2) Neutral
3) Combnation

The neutral primer is chemicaly inactive usualy containing iron oxide, carbon or clay filler. This isolates the active primer OR bare metal from the paint. Most automotive sanding primers are this type but so are many metal primers.

Active primers include those with zinc or other compounds in them to reduce rusting. I have a serious issue with the paint industry about these because most are sales hype. Those called "zinc rich" that have something like 2% zinc are a joke. Cold galvanizing zinc paint is 98% zinc powder and about 2% pinder. So 2% zinc is advertizing hype. Then there are those with zinc compounds. . .

Other active primers are the etching type. These are designed to go over bare metal that may be too slick for paint to stick to well. You could use one of these over galvanizing if you do not etch first. These normally have enough filler to be a combined type primer so you only need the etching primer before the top coat.

Generally if you etch zinc you should still prime it with a neutral primer. When using cold galvanizing paint I recommend a neutral primer over the zinc paint as well.

However, all this is expense. If you can get good service with a single top coat than that is great.

For the past couple years I have had acquanintences that have used nothing but powder coating. It was done by an outside service so it took the painting out of the shop and made pricing finishing very straight forward. They were SOLD on it. Now jobs are starting to come back on them. . . and many of the finishes were tricky translucents and metalic flake finishes that cannot be reproduced OR repaired in the field.

Finishing RIGHT is an important part of our business if you plan to stay in it.
- guru - Friday, 10/27/06 17:54:21 EDT

Powder coating is no good for long term exterior use.
As mentioned, it is impossible to touchup on site correctly.
In fact, it is impossible to touchup at all correctly.
Sure, you can slop some nonmatching paint on it, of a totally different chemical composition. But it will look like dog barf.
If you are going to redo powdercoating correctly, it needs to be placed in a burnout oven, at 1000 to 1500 degrees, then sandblasted, then recoated.

This is usually completely impractical for something like a fence or railing, especially if its site welded. And it isnt cheap either.

The commercial fence industry is going with powdercoating because its cheap, requires little skilled labor to apply, and comes in cool colors and textures.
But the coatings on all those cheapo railings and fences is going to fail.

In sunny areas, it is not colorfast at all. I walked thru downtown Phoenix recently, looking at powdercoated exterior metalwork- some as recent as several months old- and it all looked awful, with color fading, crazing, and surface disintegration.
Its also very shortlived in salt air.

I have put several powdercoaters kids thru college- over the years, I have probably spent 20 to 40 thousand dollars on powdercoating- all of it for interior use only.

I would never use powdercoating outside- well, not never- I do have one small railing outside my back door, at my own house, that I had powdercoated as a test piece, and at about 8 years, its about ready to recoat. Not something I am looking forward to. It was in a nice sheltered location- in a high traffic, high weather location, I would expect 5 years at best.

Nick Lyle, and Jean Whitesavage, who are truly awesome large scale blacksmiths, have all their exterior stuff sandblasted, then two coats of an epoxy primer, and two finish coats, applied professionally by a shop, which bakes the finishes.
That is the best looking painted stuff I have ever seen- and it sure aint cheap to have done. But it works.
- ries - Friday, 10/27/06 18:55:59 EDT

Thomas: Hark! Sir Thomas, do my olfactory senses detect the essence of molasses wafting in on the south wind? Innumerable blessings upon the House of Waugh, I say!
3dogs - Saturday, 10/28/06 03:04:04 EDT

Museum Replicas Limited: I used to get their magazines about 10 years ago. I know that they have a lot of fantasy stuff, which I don't really care for. Although I do like the LOTR's stuff they carry. I'm not dissing India but I've noticed that all of their *items* come from India and I am guessing mass produced, which means that their arms & armor are not as durable as an armorer or bladesmith's work, right?

Do you guys know of any other companies who might be a step up from Museum Replicas? Thanks.

(I've checked out some of the armorers from Arador dot com and I like)
Matt Hunter - Saturday, 10/28/06 03:13:41 EDT

Anyone from Ohio?: Hi guys - I'm looking for an anvil for a newbie. I'd like to try and get started learning to make some of the stuff on iForge. I'm a bit leery of ebay because of the whole cast-iron-chinese bits, and the ones that look more legitimate are often already 300+.

Just looking to see if anyone knows where I could find one, or even if there's anyone here from the Cincinnati/Adam's County ohio area! Sorry to interrupt the normal conversation. :p
- solaron - Saturday, 10/28/06 09:21:25 EDT

MRL, again: The made-in-India stuff is hand made, and for the price you won't find better. That's the trick, though; price. You get what you pay for in that business.

I don't know much about the armourers, but I do know some of the arms folks. For "Companies," Albion Arms or Angus Trim are about the best, and only about 2.5 times the price of MRL. Mostly hand made and forged in the U.S.A. Get away from the concept of "Company" if you want hand-forged/made items, though. At this level you want individual smiths. You're also talking about prices over $1000 for one sword, or several hundred for smaller blades.

Have you checked out you'll probably have better luck getting answers there.
Alan-L - Saturday, 10/28/06 10:01:32 EDT

Ohio Anvils: Solaron,

You're lucky; you live in the prime anvil-finding state in the U.S. Thomas Powers, resident historian/blacksmith here on Anvilfire can probably suggest a number of places to look, and will undoubtedly offer a suggfestion beofre long.

There are a number of good blacksmithing groups in Ohio, the Mid-Ohio Blacksmiths (MOB)and the Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil (SOFA) groups, to name two. I believe both have websites where you can get in touch with them and locate a meeting near you. Then there's the Western Reserve Blacksmiths Association, who are also in Ohio, I think. If you click on the pull-down menu at the top of the screen, you'll find a link to, which lists most, if not all, of the ABANA affiliates in the country. Go attend a meeting, meet some smiths and ask around; you'll find an anvil, I'm sure.
vicopper - Saturday, 10/28/06 20:43:12 EDT

John Odom: are you making a "celebrity" that is going to be at a golfiing event in middle GA? If you have no idea what I'm talking about....nevermind
- Tyler Murch - Saturday, 10/28/06 22:07:55 EDT

typo: take out "making"
- Tyler Murch - Saturday, 10/28/06 22:08:39 EDT

Museum Replicas:
For all intents and purposes, Museum Replicas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Windlass Steelcrafts of India. In other words, whatever Windlass comes up with, they'll sell. Their sax knife with the cylindrical handle and studs and mechanistic design (possibly for ease of assembly-line manufacture) and simplistic engraving(?) is particularly egregious. :-P Utterly ahistorical.

That said, they occasionally do something of reasonable quality for a reasonable price, but you have to know what you're looking for, what you're looking at, and be aware that others do better, and sometimes superb, work at higher prices.
The "Mechanical" Seax
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 10/28/06 23:46:58 EDT

Tyler:: I have no idea either. I DON'T GOLF.
- John Odom - Sunday, 10/29/06 08:00:31 EST

India Bladesmiths:
A lot of what has happend to the Indian and Pakistani bladesmiths is international internet marketing. Those that are actually hand making a "traditional" product now have outlets other than the catalog folks like Museum Replicas.

Many of these guys still work like they always have from primitive ground forges bit they now have makers cooperatives where they have other craftsfolks involved in the manufacturing and sales process.

Think about it. These guys working from a ground forge using a scrap iron anvil and a handful of old tools are in an international market competing against the world. Not since the era of the Indo European caravan have these folks had such a market.

How fast the world changes.
- guru - Sunday, 10/29/06 09:19:40 EST

Thak you every one for the good info on the Bronze Brass mess to recap, and feel free to correct me if im wrong you can make bronze or shuld i say, a copper alloy can be made with out zink bu t its not as cheep, has a higher melting temp, and dosent flow as well. Sounds good to me if thats all zinc would effect in my opinion ill just go with a copper tin alloy and some white bronze with copper and nickle thanks for all your help
- Anthony - Sunday, 10/29/06 13:07:36 EST

John Odom: Ok, well, somebody named John Odom is. Just wondering because it's about a mile from my house..
- Tyler Murch - Sunday, 10/29/06 21:55:48 EST

Anthony : Acording to My outdated book, strictly speaking, bronze would be 90% copper & 10% tin, however it goes on to mention that zink and tin are often used in the same alloy, so there is an almost infinant variety of copper-tin-zink alloys, most of which are at least 50% copper.
- Dave Boyer - Monday, 10/30/06 00:02:35 EST

I have a wall mounted B.B. NOYES drill press called the LITTLE GIANT 14. I need a work table and an internal part which is a 7 3/4" long piece of pipe which is 3/4 I.D. and 1 1/8" O.D. The outside of the pipe is threaded with 7 T.P.I. reverse thread and has a 1/4" keyway cut down its length. This part seems to be part of the auto feed assembly which pushes down on the work as you crank the handle. Please let me know if you have any of these parts.
Thankyou, Len
- FORGEWORKS1700S - Monday, 10/30/06 01:18:32 EST

anvil: Solaron contact me at 1-614-879-7414 i have several anvils. Im located just west of columbus Ohio.Fred McDaniel
- Old Moose - Monday, 10/30/06 07:08:06 EST

need firepot: I'm trying to locate a good used firepot. I moved to NC and left my forge with my oldest son in Calif. I'm going to build a brick one this time so I need a drop in. Any ideas anyone?
Targie - Monday, 10/30/06 11:58:39 EST

Targie, let us know where you are in NC. Lots of smiths here.
- guru - Monday, 10/30/06 13:12:22 EST

Anvils in OH; there were two great anvil manufacturers in Columbus (trenton and arm & hammer) and a good one in Cleveland (Columbian) and the state is full of anvils.

In columbus I used to buy 1 good name brand anvil in great shape a year at under US$1 a pound by talking to *everyone* about my hobby and finding the ones that are just sitting around in basements, barns or garages.

Folks selling anvils on the open market usually want considerably more for them.

BTAIM there was a "beginner's" anvil for sale at the Ceaser's Creek Fleamarket for a bit over US$1 a pound when I was there in late September for Quad-State. It was a traditionally made anvil a bit worn but usable and was for sale in one of the inside tool sellers, (fairly large one selling mostly cheap inported tools but having some old stuff as well). The new fellow I was coaching bought the post vise he had US$35, complete and in good condition but passed on the anvil as he was going to Quad-State the next weekend and bought his anvil there.

Thomas P - Monday, 10/30/06 13:28:00 EST

Auction treasures: There were several auctions this weekend & I happened upon the best (for buyers) of the bunch. An old farm estate sale & things were going super cheap. Highlights include:
Heavy post vice...$15; champion wall drill...$2.50; small arbor press...$7; good chop saw $50; craftsman bandsaw w/extra blades...$50.

I got a truck load of treasures for cheap. Didn't see any smithing tools. Most tools were from the 30's thru early 80's (later stuff was taiwan, not china).

Any of you young guys who are looking for start up tools should be spending time at old farm sales. I look at tool purchases like these the same way as I do the old forges I restore....I'm just the current steward who will use & care for them until my time comes, they will be passed to the next guy who holds up a bidding card.

- Mike Sa - Monday, 10/30/06 14:38:24 EST

Auction treasures: There were several auctions this weekend & I happened upon the best (for buyers) of the bunch. An old farm estate sale & things were going super cheap. Highlights include:
Heavy post vice...$15; champion wall drill...$2.50; small arbor press...$7; good chop saw $50; craftsman bandsaw w/extra blades...$50.

I got a truck load of treasures for cheap. Didn't see any smithing tools. Most tools were from the 30's thru early 80's (later stuff was taiwan, not china).

Any of you young guys who are looking for start up tools should be spending time at old farm sales. I look at tool purchases like these the same way as I do the old forges I restore....I'm just the current steward who will use & care for them until my time comes, they will be passed to the next guy who holds up a bidding card.

- Mike Sa - Monday, 10/30/06 14:38:24 EST

Swage Block: Frank Turley

A free swage block is being shipped your way today. Also sent two emails your way today. Enjoy!!
- Burnt Forge - Monday, 10/30/06 14:59:42 EST

Anvil: Thomas I think i sold your buddy the anvil at Quad State.( the enclosed trailer next to the MOB ) Fred
- Old Moose - Monday, 10/30/06 19:12:12 EST

Well I stopped going to auctions after wasting many a weekend only to see stuff go way to high---like $2 a pound for the mexican cast anvils with the mould line straight down the face.

I sometimes will go if they have something I need but I look over the set-up pretty good: exp a plumbing and HVAC business shutting down that moved to their "new" building in the '30's held memorial day weekend: Business---no antique dealers or yuppies; HVAC/Plumbing business nobody wanted the forge and anvil, the hydraulic brake ran over 10 grand though...Holiday Weekend, cut down on the business owners who attended and who wanted to stay late for the smithing "junk". Result: Hay-Buden anvil on my stack.

Old Moose; was it a small one? He ended up paying more for a small one that for a larger one we looked at because he wanted a travel anvil...
Thomas P - Monday, 10/30/06 19:35:22 EST

Auctions: It's usually the things that aren't listed on the bill that turn out to be the true treasures at an auction. Around here, if smithing tools are listed on a bill, there are too many of us soot breathers show up for things to go too cheap.
- Mike Sa - Monday, 10/30/06 23:13:21 EST

BurntForge: could you shoot me an email please - adam AT whiteson DOT org - thx
adam - Monday, 10/30/06 23:32:18 EST

Auctions: Mike is right, if blacksmithing equipment is listed there's usually a bunch of us waiting for it. I bought my first Peter Wright anvil at an auction years ago. It ended up being the next to the last item sold and I stood in the rain all day to get it. Was at an auction a week or so ago that had anvils (thats with an "s") listed on the bill but I only found one and it appeared to be cheap cast. Auctions are fun and if they have junk wagons, well there's always something that we just can't live without on those.
- Doug Thayer - Tuesday, 10/31/06 08:28:50 EST

Auctions/Antiques: I keep going to antique malls. It's fun to browse, but beware, you might become a "COLLECTOR". This past weekend, I got a small jewelers hammer, French pattern, for $10 and a "transitional branding iron" for $14. The branding iron is Mexican made by the looks of it, but the stamp-letters are like north of the border. All forge welds.
- Frank Turley - Tuesday, 10/31/06 10:28:28 EST

Don Shears: Typewriter repair!!! - last Thursday (26 Oct 06) an interview was aired on CBC Radio One; the fellow who was the subject, owns and runs a typewriter repair shop in Calgary AB. The link is below, and hopefully this can help those needing a repair done or parts. In the interview Ozzie stated that he has even made ribbons for orphaned machines!

Good luck.

Mild temps (about 14 Cel.) with showers North of the Lake (Ontario.)

- Don Shears - Tuesday, 10/31/06 16:48:04 EST

Air Compressor Question: My old compressor took a dump last month and I havn't botherd fooling with it. According to a local repair guy it is some kind of backpressure switch is bad and so it runs all the time. It was a pretty exciting couple of days till I realized it was running all the time and shut it down.

So, yesterday I got a call from a friend who had another friend who had a nice 6HP 60 gal CH for sale at a price I could stand. Now I have a new compressor that will get hooked up tonight. My question has to do with should I hook up the old 80 gal tank to it for extra storage? Or, will that put too much strain on the good one?

Any comments or suggestions are welcome.

FredlyFX - Tuesday, 10/31/06 17:18:38 EST

The thing about auctions that I have found is that if they are anywhere near (w/in 150 miles of) an urban area, they are flooded with dealers who know what they are looking at. And they often abound in shills driving the prices up that are already sky-high because of the feeding frenzy that inevitably sets in.
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 10/31/06 17:32:21 EST

Air Compressor:
Why not put on the $20 part? Scraping a compressor because a minor external control part failed doesn't make sense to me.

I would not hook up both tanks to one compressor. All you get is a compressor that runs twice as long and a much longer delay at middling pressure before it restarts. Compressors DO have a duty cycle and most should cool for a time equal to what it takes to refill the tank from the cut in pressure to the cut off pressure.

If you are running air hammers I would run both compressors to meet the demand. However, both need to be closely matched so that one does not run a lot more than the other.
- guru - Tuesday, 10/31/06 17:56:32 EST

The two big anvils I have were purchased at auctions where they were not advertized. One from an old foundry going out of business and the other from a small machine shop. The smoke breathers at the second auction were scared off by my $100 at a shot bidding tactic in the $10 a bid era. I only paid $1.20/lb for a very nice 200# Hay-Budden and $450 for a 50# Little Giant. . in what started as heavy bidding. But I was lucky, knew when to stop, what I was willing to pay and what was fair and a good deal.

I've seen the same thing as Thomas. Just a few months before the above auction I went to a little country garage auction where they advertised and anvil. BIG UGLY maybe 400# Chinese (the first I had ever seen) sold for $2/lb. to some idiot.

I have long since quit going to auctions. I think if I had saved my gas money I could have just bought NEW tools and been done with it.

I do bid on ebay ocassionaly. Mostly I look for something *I* want that nobody else may be intersted in or for things that are badly described and not getting much traffic. The last thing I bought on ebay was a video of a classic movie and only paid $1 at the "Buy it Now" price. Deliverd it was less than $5. Tape was perfect maybe viewed once. .

Deals are sometimes what you make of them. Try too hard and you often get burned. Try often and don't get invested in the deal and you will do well once in a while. Folks that seem to get all the good deals are the folks that just don't go for bad deals!
- guru - Tuesday, 10/31/06 18:14:20 EST

My origional plan was to just fix it and keep using the old one until this much newer one came along. Then, I was thinking I will still fix the old one and sell it off. I'll prolly get close to what I paid for the 25 year newer one. Then I had the little brain storm of putting the two togetherfor extra storage, but after reading your reply and thinking on it for more that a few seconds I think I will drop that plan and go back to the fix & sell plan. I'll let someone else have a deal and recoup some of my cash.

Thanks much

FredlyFX - Tuesday, 10/31/06 18:43:34 EST

Speaking of compressors, today they unloaded two new in the crate I-R upright recips, both 25Hp. Then after getting the things being delivered to our plant, both compressors went right back on the truck, after I had begun to hope they forgot them:(
ptree - Tuesday, 10/31/06 21:15:50 EST

Champion Blower @ Forge Hammer: I have a Champion Blower @ Forge hammer and need to give it a clean up and add an electric motor. Anyone out there done the same?
Several years ago Roger Smith had one and if he is seeing this can he please reply. had this little project on hold for some time now.
smokey2 - Tuesday, 10/31/06 22:53:24 EST

Smokey2, I have a Champion Hammer a #0 and it came with a motor---original motor mount and all.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/01/06 11:36:56 EST

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