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THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from January 8 - 15, 2006 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

DAVE MANZER 1949 - 2006:

A good friend to the blacksmithing community has passed away. Dave Manzer of Edmonton, Canada died Thursday night after a recurrance prostate of cancer. Dave is best known for his study of the Little Giant power hammer and his videos on the subject. He also ran a back country outfitting business in the wilds of Northern Canada and loved salt water sailing taking an Atlantic sailing trip in his boat each year.

There will be a Memorial Party held in his memory on Wednesday January 11th at 4pm MST (6pm EST). There will be a memorial program followed by a social gathering afterward. It will be held at the Queen Alexandria Community Hall, 10425 University Dr., Edmonton, CA.

For those that wish to ring the anvil for our friend and past CSI member Dave was 57 years old. The best time would be that of the memorial.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/08/06 12:28:54 EST

What speed are the large belt driven pedestal grinders designed to run? (The old heavy cast base, floor mount, dual stone models) Anyone here have any recommendations?
   Bernard Tappel - Saturday, 01/07/06 23:22:53 EST

Grinder Speeds: Bernard, Big old grinders come in many sizes from 8" up to 30" (200 - 750 mm). The speed is a function of wheel diameter. Generaly the limitation is the safe operating speed of the wheel which is usually about 1.5 times the working speed. Speeds available are determined by the AC power frequency (60Hz) and directly coupled motors.

Without polling a bunch of manufacturers or researching wheels my GUESS is:

6" (150mm) - 3600 to 4200 RPM
8" (200mm) - 2400 to 3600* RPM
10" (245mm) - 1500 - 1800* to 2400 RPM
12" (305mm) - 1200 - 1800** RPM
14" (356mm) - 1200 - 1800** RPM
16" (405mm) - 1000 - 1500 PRM
18" (460mm) - 900 - 1200 RPM
24" (610mm) - 600 - 900*** RPM

* B&D specs
** Cincinatti specs
*** Standard brand c. 1942

Well. . I DID poll some catalog data after creating this chart. I was right on or a little conservative in spots.

The above assumes properly rated good wheels (ring tested) mounted correctly with paper washers and flanges then speed tested and trued before use. See our iForge demo on grinder safety for shatter guard adjustment. Always consult the wheel manufacturer for ratings and mounting.

You must remember that these big old grinders were designed to be VERY aggressive fast grinders. The larger ones were used to clean up iron castings that were as large a a man could convieniently lift all day. The more conservative speeds are more frindly and controllable. Slow speed grinders were often made for brushing as well.

Those designed without motors for flat belt operation had no ratings that I could find. They assumed a skilled mechanic or plant engineer would install the machine based on the wheel size rating and use.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/08/06 08:29:08 EST

Blown Burners: Bob, Maybe for a mini-micro forge. For an average size blacksmithing forge minimum CFM is about 50 and 140 CFM blowers with speed controls are usually used.

Blown burners usualy have no flare. However, burner blocks (the ceramic/fire brick nozzel) used in commercial furnaces have a short heavy taper (about 60° included).

In both cases a step in the path of the gas flow creates turbulence at the same point the the velocity drops. This creates a "flame holder" just inside the nozzel or burner block. All other flame holder and grate nozzel designs on the net are DIY fix-its, not proper design.

Although I have bought and used tapered SS nozzels a simple step in diameter does the job.

See our plans page for a blown burner.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/08/06 08:41:45 EST

Propane pressure:

The National Fire Code says that you can't have any more than 5-psi into a copper or threaded black pipe system. 10-psi is allowed for welded pipe.

I ran in this problem when trying to get my attached garage hooked up to my house tanks. The first propane guy wouldn't even hook up to anything more than 2-psi unless I got an OK from the fire inspector. And the inspector wouldn't OK it unless I had a commercial burner.

And then, when I went through all those hoops, including getting some really crappy burner and the inspector's OK, the first propane guy just never got back to me and avoided me.

So I went to another company, who hooked me up in a day, put back my own, blown, burner. It took over a year, but now I'm happily working with the house gas.

Some propane companies won't go higher than 11" WC as a policy. CYA and all.

   - Marc - Sunday, 01/08/06 08:53:43 EST

I went to my first blacksmith meeting yesterday. I think I will need some hammers now, this stuff is great. Where is a good place to find real blacksmithing hammers with all the right edges and crowns?
   - Josh - Sunday, 01/08/06 10:25:27 EST

Josh - Hammers are most one of the most personal and at the same time one of the most highly mass-produced of all the tools blacksmiths use. The variety is stunning.

Try looking through the suppliers and sponsors/supporters of Anvilfire. You will find many options. I suspect many responses may result from your question.

Welcome to the fold.
   - ccharper - Sunday, 01/08/06 10:58:15 EST

Josh, there are several suppliers who advertise here, accessible by the pull down menu at the top right of the screen. I've bought hammers from Pieh Tool Co, as well as Kayne & Sons (Blacksmiths Depot)and Centaur as well as tongs, hardy tools, forge firepots, blower, books, DVDs, VHS tapes, etc.

You will find that most hammers need to have the edges and crowns finished to your pleasure. It is good to know how to do this as they all need to be recrowned and re-edged after use. Any of the smiths you met at your meeting will be glad to help you with that, or there is nothing wrong with gentle trial and error on your part. I prefer to use a power sander, like a disk sander or an angle grinder with sanding abilities....these can be had from attaching a "flap" wheel, available at Home Depot and other hardware stores. Basically you are looking at a gentle crown for most applications, and the sharp edges to be rounded a bit so no marks are left in your hot work.

Some folks are good at scrounging used hammers and tongs, but especially when getting started it's nice to have a couple of hammers that have not been battered around, have tight heads, etc. Scrounging abilities tend to improve with knowledge and experience. Opportunities increase when hanging around other smiths as we tend to like to trade small tools and bits of steel as well as knowledge.

Good luck and feel free to ask lots of questions. Folks here will try to help as much possible.
   Ellen - Sunday, 01/08/06 11:02:46 EST

Guru - Thanks for the info. The grinder in question is a flat belt model. If I ever get it set up I definitely want to err on the conservative side. There used to be on old smith in my area that had one of these set up that ran so fast it sounded ike a jet engine taking off. This was the same smith that had an EZ Little Giant that he would demo by running full speed, banging the dies together with nothing between them. The helve had been broken at one time and repaired with a really nasty looking weld. I usually exited his shop when he started the lineshaft. Still he lived to about ninety.
   Bernard Tappel - Sunday, 01/08/06 11:32:59 EST

Josh, I've had lots of luck buying things like used hammers on eBay. You have to be wiling to let things go when the price gets too high though. SOmetimes guys will bid them up to crazy levels, but if your patient you can get some very nice hammers for very reasonable prices. Also, like Ellen said, it's nice to have a nice new hammer sometimes. I bought one when I was getting started from the local ferrier supply. It is a Diamond rounding hammer, and it is my favorite hammer. I went through the entire rack testing how each hammer felt in my hand before getting the Diamond.

Stay with it.
   FredlyFX - Sunday, 01/08/06 16:55:30 EST

FredlyFX, correct me if I am wrong but it seems most farriers rounding hammers come already nicely crowned and edged. I have one as well, and it is a great hammer. I don't remember doing any finish work on it. Reasonably priced, too, even if new.

   Ellen - Sunday, 01/08/06 17:28:04 EST

Thanks for the help!!! You guys always come thru..Although my building is plumbed with 1/2 1nch pipe I was running 1/4 inch rubber hose to the forge, this was the same hose that worked great with thr barbque tank.I replaced it this morning with 1/2 inch rubber hose and it cranks!My only question now is the only 1/2"rubber hose I could find was automobile heater hose .Is this OK
Somebody asked about blowers.I have a great forge from Uncle Al of riversidemachine.net..It's the forge used at the ABS school...the blower is:Dayton mod 4c440 #7021-3466.Hope this helps
   - arthur - Sunday, 01/08/06 17:40:57 EST

I'm looking for info to forge a Timberframers Corner Chisel.
I have a good book on general procedures for wood working tools titled TOOL MAKING FOR WOODWORKERS by Ray Larsen but this does not cover Socket mounted handles.Any help leading me to some literature on this will be appreciated.
   Byron Aubrey - Sunday, 01/08/06 18:45:56 EST


Propane hose must be resistant to being attacked by aromatic solvents (light petroleum products) which propane is. Many types of rubber including common heater hose are NOT rated for propane. Use only hose rated for propane purchased from a welding supply house.

What will happen with non resistant rubber hose is one of two things. 1) it will soften bloat and burst OR start leaking from a million pinholes all at once. 2) it rappidly becomes brittle (fast aging) and will crack and break. In either case you get the same results, a REALLY big fire.

Long lengths of small hose (or pipe) ARE a problem especially at forge volume. Long hoses can have less than half the pressure on the output end as on the input when gas is flowing. You've learned this lesson, now get the right hose.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/08/06 19:30:00 EST

Shop is finished! Went inside for my first day of forging...one problem ,,,my anvil sit on a big stump,outdoors on the ground it was great,, indoors on concrete it's LOUD....any suggestions...thanks
   - arthur - Sunday, 01/08/06 19:30:48 EST

Guru.....Thanks for the warning,,will try a welding store tomorrow AM...My wife is very tolerant but she has asked me not to blow the house up!
   - arthur - Sunday, 01/08/06 19:34:53 EST

I have my Miller Thunderbolt up on a handcart for moving it. One bracket keeps coming off. Would it be safe to arc weld the bracket to the frame or would I stand a chance of shorting out the welder?

I occasionally need tire air out in the field. I have a ready supply of very good empty Freon bottles and have seen them made into portable air tanks. However, they are so thin I tend to think they would be dangerous. Has anyone had any experience with one?
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 01/08/06 19:51:36 EST

Ken, I had one of those freon tank air bottles for years before I gave it away. You may still be able to buy the screw in adapter manifold which came with a schrader valve for filling, a pressure guage, and a 1/4" fitting for the air hose. Of course now with the cheap portable tanks available from places like Harbor that fitting may be history.
   SGensh - Sunday, 01/08/06 20:22:09 EST

Socketed Corner Chisels: This is one of the most difficult of tools to make. The corner section is difficult and the socket is difficult as well.

When forging the corner it helps to use a corner die with the corner relieved so that a slight bulge is formed at the corner. This assures that there is material on that outside edge when the chisel is ground.

Sockets are best made seperately from the chisel and welded on. Sockets can be punched and drawn from the solid but it is not a job for a single smith OR one without experiance and tooling.

Make the shank of the chisel with about 1" of length of shouldered shank for each inch of width. The diameter of the shank should be about 3/8" per inch of width with a 5/8" shoulder.

Make the socket from a piece of schedule 40 or schedule 80 pipe. Start with a length at least three times longer than what you want and fuller it down the lenght of the socket from the end. This way you are making two sockets. Forging pipe down works best in low V die. It is a form of upsetting making the wall of the pipe thicker so keep an eye on the bore. Saw the socket off at the middle of the double taper.

Chamfer the inside of the end of the socket to match any radius of the shoulder of the shank. Heat the end of the shank and upset it inside the socket. You will need to use a punch the right size and heat the tool steel to a bright orange or almost yellow. When you have a fairly good fit let cool and see if you can rotate the socket. This will help break up scale in the joint. Heat until flux will melt and then flux the joint heavily, then heat to a welding heat. Close the weld by tighten the fit in the same low V shapped die you did the shrinking in. This should be a fairly easy weld to make as it is holding itself together and it is closed to oxidation.

There are a variety of ways to fit this joint and make it clean. One is to have a sloping shoulder and have the socket match. When it is welded it will create a ring shaped lap weld. Aterwards it can be filed and dressed so that the weld is nearly invisible.

The same joint can be arc welded but you will want to be sure to preheat the tool steel and then heat the whole and dress by forging. This will help break down any coarse crystaline structure in the weld zone make the whole more uniform.

With a lathe and milling machine you can almost do the same job by chip removal. . .

Another way to go is with a large heavy tang and large radiused shoulder that extends past the wood to help maintain a heavy ferrule made similar to tha above. Look at the tang and shoulder on the good Craftsman wood chisels. Once in a while these folks get things right and this is a beautiful piece of design.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/08/06 20:25:30 EST

Freon Tanks: These are like disposable propane bottles, designed to be filled and emptied ONE TIME. It seams a waste but that is how they get by with such thin steel. Each time a tank is filled and drained it expands stretching and flexing the welds. Besides the stress it will work harden the joints. . . Use one of the many defunct propane tanks. They are rated for higher pressure and refilling. . .

Ken, I would not recommend welding to the welder with itself. It might work OK IF the ground lead was absolutely tight but any loosness while welding may cause the ground to try to go through the high side of the windings and burn them out, or it might do so anyway. . . Use another (borrowed) welder or gas weld it.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/08/06 20:33:54 EST


Since you said the bracket keeps coming off, I'm going to assume it is bolted on. That being the case, can't you use some red Loctite™ or switch to Nylok™ nuts, so it stays bolted?
   vicopper - Sunday, 01/08/06 20:54:02 EST

Looking for a source for a light, probably spun disc. Say about 30 to 32" OD. I think 18GA steel or 16GA aluminum. I have a request for a "Captain America" sheild :)
   - ptree - Sunday, 01/08/06 21:57:04 EST

What's the best type of contact tip to use in a venturi burner, long MIG type or the shorter TIG tips? Would 40 thou (1mm) be about the right size for a 3/4" Reil style burner?
   Bob G - Sunday, 01/08/06 22:07:33 EST

Propane Tanks,Forges and Furnaces
The problem is they can't take a chance you will connect your furnace to the high pressure (forge 20# furnace 2#). In Illinois they run a seperate line and regulator for the forge. It has to be marked as high pressure. Several of the guys just have seperate tanks.
   Steve Paullin - Sunday, 01/08/06 22:36:15 EST

I need a little help here. Tonight I went looking on the 'net for the Mark Linn/AFC air hammer control circuit diagrams that I've seen in the past, and they weren't anywhere to be found. Does anyone know where they can be found, or if Mark's video, "Controling Your Air Hammer" is still available?
   vicopper - Sunday, 01/08/06 23:15:58 EST

Bob G,

I've had good success using the #14T-30 Tweco tapered MIG tips, with an .030" orifice. Actually, they're a bit bigger than 30 thou, more like about 33 thousandths. Works about right, and if you need to go up in size, just drill it out to .040 using a #60 drill bit.

I like the tapered tips the best, as I have the superstition that they allow more air to enter the mixing stream. The "T" in the part designation indicates the tapered ones, if you're checking with a supplier.
   vicopper - Sunday, 01/08/06 23:22:47 EST

Ken S: Safety concerns aside, any freon tank made in recent history has a checkvalve built into the valve, so You can't refill it. Personally I don't think strrength is an issue if You don't put over 100 psi in it. Remember those freon horns with the disposable tank? set one of those out in the sun and You have got an easy 150 PSI. R22 tanks MAY be stronger than R12/R134A tanks due to the higher vapor pressure of R22, which can get to 250PSI on a hot day. When I have needed to use one of these tanks I have punched a dole in it and soft soldered [Staybright] a brass fitting into the hole. I am not always a cautious person, but it has worked for Me several times. YMMV.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 01/09/06 00:31:25 EST

Your correct Ellen. I haven't done anything to that hammer other than some minor adjustment on the handle. The one I bought was about $30, but he had others that felt about the same in the hand for as much as $75. Since I was new to it, I figured I didn't need the Cadilac yet, and bought the pinto, but I am still using it every time I forge, so I have really gotten my moneys worth from it. I now probably have 20 hammers of various shaps & sizes, but it is the one I always reach for first.
   FredlyFX - Monday, 01/09/06 01:33:41 EST

My heart goes out to Dave Manzer and his family. May God help them find peace and comfort. Now, I am not going to launch a tirade like I did just over a year ago, after being diagnosed with the same thing that took Mr. Manzer out. I'll say it once, but loudly..... GUYS, GET A PSA TEST, IT'S AN EASY WAY TO CATCH WHAT CAN BE A HARD WAY TO DIE!!!!!! (Now, back to our regular programming.)
   3dogs - Monday, 01/09/06 03:19:42 EST

So while the aflicted are giving warnings, I will put My $.02 in as well. Nobody likes it, but DON'T NEGLECT A COLONOSCOPY. Usually Doctors stsrt to suggest one at age 50, but Myself and several other people I know have colon cancer in our mid 40's. Polops can be removed before they become cancerous and it's no big deal. Once they become cancer it is a lot harder to get well, If it has metasticised it is really hard to get rid of. Cancer takes away a some of Your energy, chemotherapy takes away most of what is left. A day of prevention at age 40 would have been much better than 2 years of treatment and no cure at 46.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 01/09/06 05:13:39 EST

I generally pick up my hammers at fleamarkets and junk stores and don't expect to pay more than $5 per head---and that's for a several pound sledge or straight pein. A good sized ballpein is half that and as a free floating head can often be found for $1 (in NM. AR, OH, MO,... I pick them up and throw them in a bucket at that price)

As mentioned you usually consider the handles worthless---even if it's a brand new one the dealer put in it! (I was once trying to talk down the price on a hammer with a brand new worthless handle in it that the dealer kept talking about how much the handle cost---so I pulled it out and offered him the handle back if he would go my price on the head...)

The corollary is to always pick up spare handles when you find them cheap---$1-2 for a good handle---learn how to read the grain and to not be bothered by surface imperfections that you will remove anyway when you rasp it down to fit your hand...

I tend to work on handling hammers while waiting for the forge to heat.

I do *NOT* like fiberglass or steel handles as they seem to mess my elbow up bad *fast*.

When I moved I had 150 handled tools and a bucket of ones waiting. However I have found that 99% of my work is done with 10 hammers and 80% with 3---most of the others are very special use items or kept for student use as size and handle shape are very personal.

   Thomas P - Monday, 01/09/06 12:42:44 EST

Arthur: To quiet your anvil, make sure it's bolted down tight to the stump. That's all you need. No magnets, chain wrapping, lead sheet, rubber, or any of that is needed if you do this. My two anvils are a 143 lb Peter Wright that rings quite well when unfettered, and a 100 lb Columbian that will blow your eardrums out the opposite side of your head if not firmly seated. Using a pair of 2" x 4" x 1/4" steel plates drilled in the center for a 3/8" lag screw each, leaned against the front and rear feet of the anvil and screwed into the stump, I can reduce the ring to a dull thud a Fisher would envy yet retain all the liveliness the anvils possess. A little less torque and they can sing again, but not so loud as to hurt.

If the stump wants to walk across the floor like mine does, a little "Liquid Nails" or other construction adhesive will help it stay put.
   Alan-L - Monday, 01/09/06 14:13:30 EST

Dave ..I couldn't agree more. I'm almost 60,just had my first Colonoscopy , yes they found polops and eaisly removed them.......Guys,they put you out cold there is no pain or discomfort,you don't feel a thing....get one
   - arthur - Monday, 01/09/06 14:26:31 EST

For those not aware of it, a PSA is a blood test. Then there is also the finger check for prostate size. I had a colonoscopy a couple of years ago. Awoke about halfway up and watched the TV monitor for a while before drifting off again. Could feel it inside me only as a slight pressure. Certainly no pain involved. Forgot to ask for 8X10 glossies.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 01/09/06 14:32:17 EST

My condolences to Dave Manzers family and friends I didn't know him, but bought the Little Giant videos from him and they were a great help.
   blackbart - Monday, 01/09/06 14:36:04 EST

Alan L....thanks for the advice,another problem solved!
   - arthur - Monday, 01/09/06 14:51:27 EST

I want to second the motion on the PSA tests, with one additional caution: If the PSA is 4 or above, or is increasing, even sloly, get a Biopsy! My general practitioner said that my PSA of 4 was " normal for my age" finaly at PSA of 6, still "normal for my age" I insisted on a biopsy and 11 out of 12 tissue samples were cancerous. It was almost too late(!) for my agressive type of prostaste cancer. The Proton Beam treatment center at Loma Linda Medical center was able to treat it and I still seem cancer free. with a PSA of 0.4. Don't wait sometimes people have advanced prostate cancer with a PSA below 4. watch for an increase, and don't believe a doc that says 5 or 6 is "normal for your age."
   - John Odom - Monday, 01/09/06 15:21:26 EST

Hi, I was wondering where I could pick up some high carbon railroad spikes to forge a couple of knives?
   Chuck C. - Monday, 01/09/06 15:44:26 EST

Arthur: Some smiths like a ringing anvil but it can be both annoying and harmful in the long run (to your hearing). My 300 pound Hay-Budden rings like a bell, even though it is securely fastened to the stump. A large magnet under the heel helps some but the best thing to do is to wear hearing protection when working. I wear muffs (in addition to my safety glasses and steel toes boots) to protect the hearing I've got left.
   Steve Lindsey - Monday, 01/09/06 15:53:10 EST

Chuck C- sometimes they are on ebay- I bought 40 in a flat rate postal box. If you can't find any email me and I will sell you a few
   ptpiddler - Monday, 01/09/06 16:37:08 EST

Chuck-C; let me know when you will be stopping by my shop and I'll give you a handfull.

   Thomas P - Monday, 01/09/06 17:06:23 EST

just read this bit in i forge : http://www.anvilfire.com/iForge/tutor/safety3/index.htm

please tell your blokes when working with gal to drink some milk at least ,it does help.
paul :-}
   - paul moralee - Monday, 01/09/06 19:11:10 EST

just read this bit in i forge:

please tell your blokes if thetr working wth gal to at least drink some milk,it does help
paul :-}
   - paul moralee - Monday, 01/09/06 19:13:17 EST

Sorry Chuck C,There are no real high carbon RR spikes,You can make some really attractive knives but there still basicly novelty items
   - arthur - Monday, 01/09/06 20:38:12 EST

Paul: Milk helps some when zinc is ingested. It has little if any benifit when the zinc is in the form of fumes that enter the lungs. You are right that it won't hurt, but won't help much if any.
   - John Odom - Monday, 01/09/06 21:06:57 EST

I have collected 10 or so old post leg vises but I'm missing the bench brackets does anyone know where I could get them old or new ?
   john - Tuesday, 01/10/06 00:21:20 EST

john: Your problem in finding leg vise brackets used is they are rare by themselves and were tailored to a particular leg vise as far as length and width of the rear post. Blantant advertising: I make them up by welding up sections of 3/8" x 1 1/2" stock. Not original, but functional. Use the NAVIGATE anvilfire link and scroll down to advertisers. I am Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools. Once in the eBay store site do a keyword search on bracket to see an example. If you have access to welder and similar stock, you can likely make up your own. On the channels on the inside I cut grooves with bandsaw and then use a metal cutting blade in my tablesaw to plow out the ridges. Not as efficient as a milling machine, but it works.

Chuck C: High carbon is high carbon for a RR spike, not "high-carbon steel". Likely has a carbon content about .03. If I understand A-36 mild steel today, carbon content is similar. They were just better than the original wrought-iron spikes. When you look at one note point is intended to be sideways to grain of wood (somewhat cutting into grains rather than forcing them apart) for additional holding power. The basic shape of the spike hasn't changed early days of railroading.

My understanding of how they are made today is a length of 5/8" x 5/8" stock is placed in a double die machine and heads put on both ends ends in one whack. Stock then is chisel cut in the center to create the points. Suspect the process is fairly automated.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 01/10/06 04:24:46 EST

MO' HAMMER HANDLES: Regarding that cute little handleless Czech 800g crosspien that was being sold at Quad State; After chiseling out the glue from the previous handle, a rectangular shanked clawhammer handle (with a little Gorilla Glue on it) fit perfectly. Sweet little hammer
   3dogs - Tuesday, 01/10/06 10:22:10 EST

Missing Leg Vise Brackets: I HAVE found these loose at flea markets but they are very rare. And since thes tools came in about 20 sizes in 5 pound increments with ALL the parts different the likelyhood of a found bracket working on another vice is not very high. The reason you find so many vises with missing brackets and springs is that we blacksmiths as a general rule bolt things together to stay permanently, often peening over the ends of blots so they will never come apart. . . So when someone buys a vise at an auction or finds one bolted to a bench in an old barn. . the brackets WILL NOT come off. So, pop out the wedges and off it comes. Even if the wedges and spring are hauled off they get lost quickly as there is nothing to hold then to the vise. So there is you most common flea market leg vise, bracketless and springless.

One of the late model brackets used by some manufacturers was a simple angle iron bracket with some holes drilled in it and a square cornered U-blot to hold the vise and spring to the bracket. This works on both the old tennon mount and wrap around bracket type vise. It is ugly but it works. If you make a forged one with a fancy U-bolt made from square stock it could look kind of classy and match the construction of the vise. These old hand crafted tools deserve quality hand crafted replacement parts.

I have had better luck buying old vises with bad screws or missing parts as parts vises for others. If you buy enough of them you eventualy come across one with a bad frame or parts you have.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/10/06 12:15:12 EST


Going to make some dies for my press..been having fun with that..now does anyone know where I can get a decent deal on some D-2, I need 3" wide, 2" thick by 12"??

Any ideas?? I can't find any here in Las Vegas...

   GHPoMCI - Tuesday, 01/10/06 13:48:44 EST

could anyone tell me where I might find some info on riveting for knives the hinging rivet for friction folders
   freddy - Tuesday, 01/10/06 14:02:02 EST

hi people
i have purchased a 50 kg clear space pneumatic hammer
i am running it on a 15 hp motor
but there is a problem with the hammer
when i start the motor the ram should go up but it remains down only and when i press the lever a bit it starts hitting the anvil at a very high and uncontrollable speed
i am not able to control the speed and length of the stroke of the ram of the hammer
can you please help me ?
   huzefa - Tuesday, 01/10/06 14:15:26 EST

I have a leg vise and the jaws dont meet square under pressure. There is a little twist to the moveable jaw's arm probably from cranking down on stock preferentially on the left side of the jaw. Do you have a recommendation for fixing it?
   John - Tuesday, 01/10/06 14:38:59 EST

This is a great book that will tell you everything you need to know. The complete Book of pocket knife Repair. A cutler manual by Ben Kelley Jr. ISBN 0-87341-387-3 Runs typically from 10.95-12.95

Use a slackner of.013 to .020 to set the rivet properly. The book will explain it.
   - Burnt Forge - Tuesday, 01/10/06 15:42:23 EST

Trying to help a friend out. he's trying to anneal a heavy coil spring and keeps getting a less than satisfactory results. The ones I've been using came out of a 60's vintage Lincoln..I believe his may be a more recent vintage and the alloy difference, is what is getting him.
What would be the best way for him to anneal this material??

Thanks for the Help
Respect Always
   Metalshaper - Tuesday, 01/10/06 16:26:08 EST

Die Steels-

I would not recommend D2 for forge tooling. It is a cold work die steel and is somewhat more brittle than the hot work die steels. Our press tooling here at work is made from a modified 4350. If you plan to use a lot of tooling under the press, you will want the dies to be reasonably hard so that they don't dent. My person preference would be H13. Unless you are able to scrounge the steel, any die steel you buy will be costly.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 01/10/06 16:30:29 EST

I am a professional working in the computer industry. I am not by any means an ME or metalurgist for that matter. I am working on a design for personal use that implements metals. I am interested in knowing how one would go about finding out how much compression strengh a certain metal has. I am working with metal square tubing 1.5 inch 16 gauge. Are there additional details I need to give you to help with this problem? Thanks for the help.
   Tony M - Tuesday, 01/10/06 16:36:39 EST

Metalshaper; what tools does he have access to how is he trying to do it now?

Tony M; do you want the compressive strength of the metal or the strength of the form you mentioned made from that metal? If the latter how is it being loaded and along which axis?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 01/10/06 17:44:51 EST

Tubing in Compression, IE Column Loads: Tony, From and engineering standpoint this is always a difficult problem. It is not the strength of the material that is critical as much as the shape and how it is loaded. Besides the strength of the material you need to know the engineering values like section modulas, moment of inertia. . . These are usualy precalulated values found in charts but ocassionaly you must calculate them for the cross section you are dealing with. Then you need to define how the load is applied and caluculate the stresses form there. In colums you want to know the buckling point.

Standard references for this work are:

AISC Steel Construction Manual, American Institute of Steel Construction. Tables of all standard cross sections, dimensions, moments, formulae, specs.

MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK, Industrial Press (see our book review page). Contains much of what is in the AISC manual but not in detail about every standard section.

Strength of Materials, Timoshenko. The original source for most modern books on the subject and is the title of the basic and advanced courses taken by structural engineers.

"Metal Tubing" is a broad and uninformative statement. Its like saying "A computer language". In steel structurals have rounded corners and uniform wall thicknesses but also a seam weld. In aluminium the corners are square and often have a fillet internally. Both come in a limited range of alloys. Other non-ferrous alloys are generaly not available in structural shapes unless you are making your own.

Section properties are different for column loading and beam loading. As the length of the column increases the buckling forces go up rapidly with the slenderness ratio. Due to the number of variables as well as libility there are no published charts (that I know of) that say XxYxTxZ steel tube can carry so much load.

There ARE engineering computer programs that let you input a few variables and get an answer. I have not been in the market for one in many years but there are many availaable. If I was doing serious engineering I would get one. They do not need to be high tech FEA analysis programs, just good sold math.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/10/06 20:28:58 EST

Missing Vise mount: I made one for an old vise I got cheap off ebay because it was missing the mount and had a broken screw box. I rebuilt the whole thing and it works great now. I have a bunch of pictures on my site at: http://fredlyfx.com/projects.htm about half way down the page. It's not real pretty, but it works.
   FredlyFX - Tuesday, 01/10/06 20:48:40 EST


I've worked on aligning leg vise jaws, and it is a cut-and-try proposition. I took off the moveable leg, heated it in the forge to a bright heat and twisted it. I trial fitted it hot by quickly inserting it between the supporting beams and popping in the pivot bolt. It goes easier if you have a helper for this. If the jaws do no align upon closing, you take another heat and try again. Meanwhile, you have retained a little heat from the previous heat. A rosebud is helpful.

Rarely, the ill fitting leg and jaw is a result of the pivot beams being torqued or bent. That is trickier, but with perspicacity, perserverence, and desire, you can do it.


We don't know what your friend is doing to the coil spring, and we're always guessing when "junkyard" steels are involved. The ol' 5160 annealing temperature was 1450ºF - 1500ºF (bright cherry red), a uniform heat necessary, and slow cooling. In a small shop situation, the cooling can be done in lime or wood ashes until ambient temperature is reached. If that doesn't work, "tough toenails". You're still guessing.

   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 01/10/06 21:31:52 EST

It took me six months but I got my forge up and running. I have a problem though. Its a 19 in. wheel and I used firebrick to focus the fire. I didn't plan for my material, and I've had a few other problems.

1.) I have a small deep forge that works very well for small articles, but not so well for larger material that is donated to me. I also deal with modifing shovels and the like. Should I make another forge or just modify the existing one.

2.) I'm reading Alex Bealers book, and had an idea to make a trip hammer, somewhat based on the drawing. The heads of two 20-50 pounds sledge hammers, one stationary, knocking against each other. How likely is a homemade one to work?

3.) I was thinking ether way of making a gas forge. They save time starting, and I can get right down to the forging part. However, I am unsure of safety. Which also brings up, should I become proficent at starting a coal fire, before becoming lazy? Also what is the best way to start a fire, it takes me about an hour each time. I just use shavings and small to medium sized chunks of wood.

4.) I made a hot cutter hardie out of a jack hammer bit, but it doesn't work very well, and dents easily. I was told I can't temper it because it could crack my hammer. So what the deal here?

5.) I would like to eventually make broad axes and other large framing chisels, what steps can I take to do this? I've told just up and try to make one, and take your time with successive approximation, and practicing techniques.

I have a lot of questions that could be answered by a non-virtual smith, but my lack of transport and the fact that the closest is 40 miles away doesn't make things easy. So I'd very much appreciate any help from you guys.
   newbie in NW ILL - Tuesday, 01/10/06 22:39:14 EST

Welcome to the dark side newbie. Where are you located? I bet there may be a smith closer you just don't know about. Also, if you can post up some kind of picture sowhere of that forge it may make it a little easier for folks to give you some advise on it. I made my first forge out of a brake drum as well. I took a skill saw with a metal cutting blade and made some notches on each side so I can get the stock down in better. It's at http://fredlyfx.com/coal.htm it's not very pretty, but very functional. I also have soem propane forges shown as well.
   FredlyFX - Tuesday, 01/10/06 23:54:11 EST

I'm in Polo IL, BFE, corntown USA. Its the version thats on the website. Almost exactly piece for piece.
   newbie in NW ILL - Tuesday, 01/10/06 23:57:48 EST


Except I have a 18 in Squirrel cage blower with a 1/2 horse electric pulley system. No speed control. and it's connect with hose you use for semi portable dust collection for wood working, about 3-3.5 in dia. The tulyere is bought off ebay and is about 1.75 at its widest divided into 3 parts, with no hole on the top. I've cut a few pieces of fire brick into an angled box at a 45º angle to te horizontal of the steel plate serving as the bottom.

Like I said it heat well, it just isn't big enough for my material.
   newbie in NW ILL - Wednesday, 01/11/06 00:05:09 EST

newbie: You may want to cut away some of the rim so You can get larger work down to the fire. If You can't get the coal to light readily, perhaps You don't have good coal. Good coal can be lit with 3 sheets of newspaper crumpled up and covered with a thin layer of coal, more coal added when the first layer is lit. I just built a gas burner based loosely on the one shown in FAQ section, but I read the RON RIEL pages first. FAQ section is a little vauge about it, but the burner needs a section of 1" pipe slid over the end of the 3/4"pipe to make a nozzle, it should extend 1 to 1 1/2" beyond the 3/4"pipe. Any tooling that has to hold an edge or a fine shape will have to be hardened and tempered, and then not hit on the working edges with a hard hammer. See heat treating section on this site.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 01/11/06 00:21:29 EST

Huzefa. What make of 50 kgs 'clear space'hammer is it? sounds like youve got approx 2x as much horse power as you need for 1 cwt hammer, original motor? motor speed correct? bit more info and I might be able to give a couple of pointers in setting her up. (put some rubber matting between the blocks, or pieces of old lifting sling if your testing, but not hot working the hammer!)
   John N - Wednesday, 01/11/06 06:18:17 EST

I am trying to make my first knife out an old file. Not looking for spectacular results: a flat back, single bevel marking knife for woodworking.

Everything up to last night was fine. Then I got to grinding off the teeth to get a flat, smooth blank. I'd appreciate tips on how to do this. A file and/or DMT black stone takes WAY too long. On the other hand, using a rotary device like the LV MKII doesn't leave a flat surface. Also, how do you grind the two faces parallel to each other?

How do you guys do this? I mean, besides just buying flat stock from Travers....
   joe G - Wednesday, 01/11/06 08:09:28 EST

i have got a 2cwt hammer
the motor is 15 hp
the rpm is 1440 rpm
it is not an original motor
can you help me?
   huzefa - Wednesday, 01/11/06 08:11:48 EST

metalshaper I cant remember precisely now but I do believe that 70s and older lincoln coil springs where made from some oddball metal that I cant remember the name of but if not has he tried burning a large brush pile and sticking it in the center this is usually my last ditch effort
   freddy - Wednesday, 01/11/06 08:16:11 EST

joe G have you annealed or normalized because your probably gonna have to
   freddy - Wednesday, 01/11/06 08:18:32 EST

joe G,

The grinding of the file will be much easier if you first anneal the file. Heat it up to about 1500ºF or a bit above non-magnetic and allow it to cool as slowly as possible. With my gas forge, I save my annealing for last thing at the end of a day so I can just leave it in the forge and shut it down for the night. When I come back th enext day, the steel is annealed nicely. If you want to avoid some of the scale formation, you can wrap it in stainless foil before annealing.

Once annealed, I grind the teeth off with my 9" angle grinder, being diligent about not digging gouges in it. I don't worry about having it perfectly parallel at this point, since I'll be forging the blade to shape before final profiling with the belt grinder.

If I were doing strictly stock-removal blade making, I would buy stock that was finished to the thickness I wanted. That way I would have a known alloy with exact heat treating requirements, rather than an unknown alloy of scrap. Even files come in different carbon contents and need different heat treating. If it is critical that the stock be perfectly parallel, then either buy precision ground flats or have your stock dressed on a surface grinder.

But if you're making a blade with a cutting edge, it is going to have to taper somewhere to get from thick at the spine to thin at the knife edge and have a distal taper as well, so why worry too much about parallel? On the better knives, the tang tapers from the ricasso to the butt as well, so the only place where most blades are truly parallel is at the ricasso. That small an area you can do with a file and some care.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 01/11/06 09:30:21 EST


I have no idea what a "clear space" hammer is. Does it have a brand name? Model number? This is the sort of information that we need to know to provide any guidance. There have been hundreds of different makes/models of power hammers built in the last 150 years.

In your first post, you said it was a 50 kg (110 lb) hammer. In your second post, it is a 2 cwt (101 kg or 224 lb) hammer. That is different by a factor of two for your earlier post. Which is it?

In either case, 50 kg or 100 kg, 15 hp is between double and quadruple what you should need, depending on the actual weight and type of hammer.

From your first post about the hammer starting out down, it almost sounds as though it is a self-contained pneumatic hammer. Is that what it is? Or is it a mechanical hammer?

You say the motor is not original. Without knowing what type and model the hammer is, we have no way of knowing what size and rpm motor it should have. Nor did you give nay information as to what the drive ratio from the motor to the hammer is. It is entirely possible that a 1440 rpm motor is being used where a 800rpm motor was originally. We need more information, and it can only come from you.

There are a number of extremely knowledgeable people here who can probably help you with your hammer, but we need information. We aren't mind readers.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 01/11/06 09:49:25 EST


I am being presumptuous here, but from your name I am guessing you may be from India. If so, and you live there, I believe there are manufacturers of pneumatic hammers in India. Perhaps one of their staff could provide some information for you. I have the feeling that there may be some language issues happening here, though that is, once again, an assumption.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 01/11/06 09:56:35 EST

huzefa'S Clear Space Hammer: huzefa, As mentioned above, something does not add up. A 50 kg mechanical hammer uses 2 to 3HP. A 50kg self contained air hammer (built in compressor) uses a 3 to 5 HP motor. A 2cwt hammer uses a 10Hp and a 3cwt uses a 15. Many of these machines use special low speed motors but others do not.

Vicopper and myself have made a guess that you are talking about a self contained hammer. There are many makes an models of these hammers and they have been made since around 1915. Many that are 75 years old are still in use. New cheap ones are made in China and Turkey and some expensive ones made in Germany. There were also some very questionable ones built in Bulgaria.

The problems you are describing are valve and seal issues. But over oiling or under oiling can cause these machines to act very strangly. Worn valves are the biggest problem. In Nazel hammers the rotary valves are a VERY snug slip fit and if worn the hammer will not perform properly. Sometimes you can remove the valve, lubricate it with grease, install and test. If the hammer works for a short time with a greased valve then it needs the valves replaced and refit. Rings and seals can also be a problem.

In recent years there have been numerous self contained air hammers manufactured by copy-cat manufacturers that know nothing of how the the valving works or the engineering of power hammers. They made manufacturing changes in the design that resulted in hammers that did not function or that overheat and fail. These machines never operated properly but were sold all over the world. If you have one of these then you are just out of luck.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/11/06 10:41:40 EST

Grinding Flat surfaces: Joe, All knife grinding is skill. With practice a skilled worker can make a flat surface with practicaly any tool. Removing teeth from a file is a job for a 7-1/2" heavy duty high speed angle grinder. These are hard to control if you have never used one but resaonably flat surfaces or straight lines can be made with one. The trick IS, DO NOT grind the low spots! That means don't let the grinder ride on the surface makeing the low spots lower. This usualy makes the the roughness worse and worse. You have to pay attention to what you are doing. THINK about the material being removed. LOOK close at the change in surface and take appropriate action. Most newbies with a grinder don't think, look or pay attention to what is happening and the result is frustration and failure. This applies to almost everything you do.

For grinding a knife to finish shape the best and most coomly used grinder is a belt sander/grinder with a slack section and a contact wheel. Any of the books on bladesmithing will point you in the right direction.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/11/06 11:47:03 EST

From the sounds of it,, Doug is heating in a forge to about a low orange-high red. Then he's placing it in a bucket of wood ashes, until its cold. Claims he is still getting a lot of hardness out of it. hard to cut/hard to file??

I'm trying to pin him down,, as to what vintage and make the springs are? On the ones I got from the 63-64 Lincoln. I've had NO trouble annealing them, by heating to non magnetic + with a bit of soak.. and then pack it in my container of lime..

I was given a compound set of coil springs, from a RR buddy of mine. from a derailed a coal car.. he salvaged a stack/nest of springs for me. Haven't had a chance to muck with them.. or the RR ball bearing he gave me..

Respect Always
   Metalshaper - Wednesday, 01/11/06 12:20:56 EST

Knife from a file: IIRC there was a piece in the last whole earth catalog on making a knife from a file where you start by drawing the temper on the file in your kitchen oven to what you want the *finished* temper to be and so not needing any other heat treat---which can be a big help for someone without the equipment or desire to take up the black art of heat treating unknown alloys.

Working hardened steel is much more difficult than working annealed steel. For an annealed file I would suggest an overnight soak in vinegar followed by a scrub under running water to remove any scale left from the annealing process and then draw filing to shape.

For a file that is still hard you will need to grind in some way and yes it is difficult to keep things flat and straight. If you are having problems leave the knife a bit thick and then work the blade against silicon carbide paper mounted on a hard flat surface with a bit of water to help float the sludge off. This will be slow so you want to get as close as possible before going to hand work.

I've roughed out blades using disk sanders, angle grinders and woodworker's belt sanders---not good for the sander; but I was *young* (and stupid) back then.

Now I forge to shape and then file or grind using a belt grinder made for knifemaking---a world of difference!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 01/11/06 12:23:28 EST

Huzefas Clear Space hammer... 'Clear Space' is the brand name of one of our Massey self contianed hammers (B & S Massey limited, Manchester UK), but we never made a 1 cwt 'clear space' (the smallest was 2 cwt) 'Clear Space' refered to the improved access to the die blocks.

Our 'self contained' pneumatic hammers generally use 5 - 7 h.p per cwt of ram weight. The motor rpm is double what I would expect for a small hammer like this (ie one with no internal gearing to the crankshaft), but without knowing if the pully dia is standard its a bit irrelevant!

Spec sheets for Massey Clear Space hammers can be found on my website if you dig hard enough! (the lovingly created flash animation on the opening page of the site is also a 'clear space' model)

   John N - Wednesday, 01/11/06 13:23:34 EST

Belt sander tip: I've gotten a lot of work done on my blades using a plain woodworking belt sander mounted upside down on a wood vise. Because it's upside down changing belts from coarser to finer is a snap. It's also nice because most belt sanders have a flat plate underneath and a slack portion between the plate and the bearing wheel, so you get the best of both worlds. The only tricky part is getting a good hold of the trigger and holding the piece at the same time. I've conjured up clamps and the like to keep the sander on while using both hands to work the knife. just recently got a mini vertical bench sander (1" x 30" belt) from Harbor Freight for only $39!

   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 01/11/06 13:35:14 EST

TGN, my first grinder was just like that. I made a stand for it, angled at about 45-deg. This was a sander I inherited from my grandfather. At some point in time he replaced the trigger with a simple, lamp-type, toggle switch, and that worked great for the new application.

   - Marc - Wednesday, 01/11/06 14:16:40 EST

I am responsible for a foundry casting wear resistant hammers for use in an automobile shredder. The hammers are made from a low alloy metal similar to a 4330. We outsource the heat treating process and are still developing our practices. It was suggested that we "full anneal" the castings prior to heat-quench-temper process. Can you provide some insight as what the anneal temperature should be and length of treatment? 24 hours was recommended but seems long. Also, is it necessary to furnace cool or would air cooling be sufficient?

   Foundry Rookie - Wednesday, 01/11/06 14:25:21 EST

OK,, Doug's Spring material is no more than 10 yrs old.. and from a Dumpster ( as he called it ) I'm thinking it may be an overload leaf??

Any guesses on how he can anneal it?

Thanks for any and all help!!
Respect Always
   Metalshaper - Wednesday, 01/11/06 15:00:03 EST

Annealing 4330: Rookie, My ASM Heat treaters guide skips from SAE 4320 to SAE 4340.

For both of these grades a fully pearlitic structure is not recommended. A spheroidal carbide structure is preferred for machinability.

Prior to heat treating it is recommended to normalize by heating to 1600°F and letting cool it air. However that is the recommendation for WROUGHT or forged stock as are those below. As a foundry you are the producer of the material and special processing may be required.

SAE 4320 Spheroidal, Normalize, heat to 1425°F, cool rapidly to 1200° and hold for 8 hours.

SAE 4340 Anneal (pearlitic) heat to 1525°F, cool rapidly to 1300°F then cool to 1050°F at a rate not exceeding 15°F/hr. OR cool and hold for 8 hours as for 4320.

SAE 4340 Sphreoidal, heat to 1380°F and cool rapidly to 1300°F then cool to 1050°F at a rate not exceeding 5°F/hr.

4330 would be about half to 2/3 way between these two steels which both have similar but very picky heat treats. Both require a temperature control furnace and considerable time to heat treat but not 24 hours. 250 degrees at 5°F/hr is only five hours. . .

If the chemistry of the steel you are casting is odd or non-standard then its time for a metallurgist, lab and some R&D to determine the best heat treat and resulatant properties. I would take the above and move about 2/3 of the way toward the higher carbon steel and do it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/11/06 17:29:27 EST

anyone interested in traditional Japanese steelmaking might engoy and learn from:


I learned a lot. I have visited one of the sites discussed in this treatise.
   - John Odom - Wednesday, 01/11/06 20:18:43 EST


There can be a big frustration factor in building a gas forge (especially if you don't at least have experience using one). A coal forge that's almost right will probably be quite usable. A gas forge that's almost right likely won't work at all.

Also, big things like garden shovels generally don't fit in gas forges, so you'll need to use the coal forge anyway.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 01/11/06 21:00:03 EST

Foundry Rookie, don't you have an SOP to tell you what to do with this material? What does the customer say? Is there no information on the PO? Can someone call them and ask what they want done? You really should not be guessing what is to be done; the customer may know exactly what he wants you to do. Personnaly, I would not anneal the castings prior to heat treating. Normalizing is better preparation for quench and tempering.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 01/11/06 21:01:27 EST

Metalshaper, I also have a few of those big RR springs. Mine did not get hard when quenched in oil; water does pretty good but watch out for cracks in thin sections.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 01/11/06 21:04:06 EST


"250 degrees at 5°F/hr is only five hours. . ."

Unless I'm missing something, 250÷5=50, or a bit over two days.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 01/11/06 21:40:38 EST

Of course it all depends on the gas forge.

Union Fork and Hoe used to be in Columbus OH and forged all their garden shovels by hand in gas forges.

   Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 01/11/06 22:27:35 EST

I was thinking of a tube 2 feet long and 8-12 i in dia. Is that just too big?
   newbie in NW ILL - Wednesday, 01/11/06 22:30:09 EST

WHOOPS. . . Well there is that LONG "anneal". .
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/11/06 23:48:45 EST


Thanks for the tip! I haven't had a chance to work with them yet. The ball bearings are another thing, I have to find a use for? I just have a small brake drum forge and my original anvil was a chunk of RR Rail.. So far I have been working with some 3/8ths spring rod I aquired and a lot of Hot rolled.( mainly camp stuff for rondezvous..
I came to Blacksmithing as an offshoot of my other Hobby, building black powder rifles. I always wanted to be able to forge my own mounts and furniture.. Eventually, I want to learn to weld good enough, to skelp weld at least one barrel. Just to say I have. I've already done some rifling and deep hole drilling,,but a true forged barrel would be a wonderful accomplishment.

Better go

Respect Always
   - metalshaper - Thursday, 01/12/06 00:18:53 EST


Thanks for the tip! I haven't had a chance to work with them yet. The ball bearings are another thing, I have to find a use for? I just have a small brake drum forge and my original anvil was a chunk of RR Rail.. So far I have been working with some 3/8ths spring rod I aquired and a lot of Hot rolled.( mainly camp stuff for rondezvous..
I came to Blacksmithing as an offshoot of my other Hobby, building black powder rifles. I always wanted to be able to forge my own mounts and furniture.. Eventually, I want to learn to weld good enough, to skelp weld at least one barrel. Just to say I have. I've already done some rifling and deep hole drilling,,but a true forged barrel would be a wonderful accomplishment.

Better go

Respect Always
   metalshaper - Thursday, 01/12/06 00:19:24 EST

Must be an Echo?? :{D

Respect Always
   metalshaper - Thursday, 01/12/06 00:21:03 EST

O' boy do i need help I have a old Buffalo Forge "Climax" Forge Blower and the gear at the bottom of the gear box is froze on the shaft i know i can fix it but i need to take the other gear's out do any of you know how this is dun ? I have an idea but it would be nice know if it's a good one or not .

I am a starving artist and I need this blower working so i can support my six children aka dog's , cat's and a horse . ;) he he
   Duss - Thursday, 01/12/06 00:23:07 EST

The forge is still incomplete, but I just picked up a TZ8000 model blowtorch, says it goes up to 8000 degrees. Put the 1/2" 316 rod to orange in less than 3 minutes. WOrks with MAPP and cost $50, but man it's worht in for the in between.

   - Nippulini - Thursday, 01/12/06 00:34:06 EST

Duss-- be wary of tapered pins that may be holding the gears to the shaft. They only come out one way.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 01/12/06 01:51:14 EST

I am trying to find the value(Or any info for that matter) of what I have always called a pin table, I didn’t measure it but the deck is about 8’x3’x6” with 1” hardy holes on about 8”centers in a 4”offset grid. it looked like a good cast, it weighs about 3 ½ tons. I have looked around and havent found anny info on it or annything like it.
   - chris - Thursday, 01/12/06 02:43:57 EST

I am trying to find the value (Or any info for that matter) of what I have always called a pin table, I didn’t measure it but the deck is about 8’x3’x6” with 1” hardy holes on about 8”centers in a 4”offset grid. it looked like a good cast, it weighs about 3 ½ tones. I have looked around and havent found anny info on it or annything like it. Or any info for that matter
   - chris - Thursday, 01/12/06 02:45:29 EST

Chris, usually they are called 'Acron' Tables due to a makers name. Or a platten table. Value is hard to say. If you want it or need it then the value is what you are willing to pay.
   Ralph - Thursday, 01/12/06 03:35:54 EST

Climax Blower. . hard to tell but you need to be darn sure the gear is not part of the shaft. Small pinion gears on short shafts are often part of the shaft.

As Miles noted it may be keyed. Gears are also pined to shafts with tapered pins in a cross drilled and reamed hole. After driving the pin in it is cut off and filed flush. Woodruff keys (little half moon pieces) are also used to keep gears from rotating. Press fits are also a common method of retention. On my South Bend lathe the feed gear at the back of the spindle is held on only by a very precision press fit.

All I can say is very carefully clean the parts and study them very close.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/12/06 06:50:59 EST

My name is SGT. Talyor, an airframe mechanic in the US army, currently deployed in support of OIF. I have been trying to find out how to ontain some good information on heat treating various steels, like sae 4130, and aluminum.
i have info on aluminum, though not very specific.I was lokking for more detailed info.But we currently have no info on case jardening an tempering steels, as it is not common for my job until recently, because we are making our own tools and bushings due to the time require to orer them.Please give me some assistance, especially with the 4130 steel, I need all we can get.thank you
   SGT Taylor Cedric D. - Thursday, 01/12/06 07:11:05 EST

SGT Taylor,

My books may be outdated, but my 1988 Jorgensen catalog says this about 4130, a "chromoly steel". Forging - Heat to 2150º-2250ºF. Normalizing - Heat to 1600º-1700ºF. Cool in air. Annealing - Heat to 1500º-1600ºF. Cool slowly in furnace. Hardening - Hardening range is 1550º-1600ºF for water quench and 1575º-1625ºF for oil quench. Tempering - A wide range of mechanical properties can be obtained by tempering between 400º and 1300ºF.

The analysis given for the Jorgensen 4130 is:
C .28/.33
Mn .40/.60
P .035 Max.
S .040 Max.
Si .15/.35
Cr .80/.1.10
Mo .15/.25

Case hardening (carburizing) is done on mild steel to give a quite thin high carbon "surface" to the steel, usually used as a metal to metal wear factor. The proprietary product commonly sold is "Kasenit Surface Hardening Compound". I get mine from Brownells in Montezuma, Iowa. E-mail BrownelUSA@aol.com

"Machinery's Handbook" from Industrial Press, Inc., N.Y., NY, is helpful.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 01/12/06 09:33:13 EST

Heavy Twisting

I was on a "lightning raid" to Manhattan yesterday on NPS business. Riding in a cab from La Guardia to the Brookluyn Bridge, I noticed that the top rail of the old elevated roadway was twisted 4" X 4" (100 mm). Most of the longer pieces (~3 or 4 yds/m) were very uniform, but shorter lengths had variations that showed that the stock had been twisted hot; tighter twists, variation on twist rate in same piece, etc. Pretty impressive examples of decorative industrial ironwork. (Either that, or they must have some hulkin' huge smiths up there in Brooklyn!)

Warm and a little sunny on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 01/12/06 09:53:45 EST

Weld Plattens: These are still manufactured new and sold dearly but used ones are very common and sell cheap (scrap prices). There are two classes, machined and unmachined. The machined ones are worth more but rust and wear makes them all look alike so it makes little difference in the price of used plattens. Heavily used ones are often not flat.

As a blacksmith shop tool you will think they are indispensible if you have ever used one.

What is more valuable and rare than the table is the funriture, especialy acorn brand. These include cutting cones, clamping blocks (blocks with C-clamp type screws), dogs and pins. The most common clamping tool is a simple bent dog. Although simple they are made from fairly heavy steel, 1" to 1-1/4" about 20" long and bent to about 85°. The clamping end is rounded and slightly bent to clamp flat. Six of these add up to a 10 foot length of steel. Mild steel works but medium carbon or an alloy steel is best. Pins need just enoug shoulder that they do not fall through the holes and can be square or round. In either case these tools are heavy to forge without power or help so are also valuable tools. I've never seen a set of these tools for sale used but a crate full would be worth more than two large used plattens. . .

   - guru - Thursday, 01/12/06 10:59:33 EST

Heat treating Aluminum: A number of aluminium alloys are what is know as age-hardening. In warm temperatures these alloys reach their maximum hardenss in a few months to a year. In hot sesert sun I would say that by the time this material had been delivered heat treating would be a waste of time. Heating to no more than about 325¯F for several hours will do the same. Most of these alloys are worked and machined in their hard state and delivered as such. New material will have the temper designation -T6 or -T7 indicating it is tempered as hard as it will get. The only time you would anneal is for heavy deformation or as the result of forging or a fire (overheating).
   - guru - Thursday, 01/12/06 11:07:01 EST

There is no "right size" for a forge without saying what it will be used for. The 8-12" dia pipe forges from 12-24" long are rather "typical" for the hobby shop these days.

If it was me I would go for the 12" and use a double layer of 1" kaowool leaving you with 8" dia usable space. With 24" long I would go with at least two aspirated burners. Do you need that long a space? Usually you only want to heat up what you can hammer before it cools to needing re-heating and you will be paying for the gas to heat that whole space every time---unless you build a movable back wall...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 01/12/06 11:20:11 EST

SAE 4130 and others: SGT Taylor, you mentioned multiple alloys. If you are dealing with more than one alloy you usualy need some kind of print reference as Frank noted. Machinery's Handbook has the basic information in a table for most common SAE steels (pages 500 to 540) and specs for said steels starting on page 440 of the New 27th Edition. Editions as early as the 20th will have all the information on modern alloys. However some details are left out. If you need to anneal many of these steels to machine them "furnace anneal" will be listed. For these details you would need the ASM Heat Treaters Guide. However, most stock for machining comes annealed as delivered (or as specified).

For 4130 the ASM Heat Treaters Guide says,
Annealing. For a predominately pearlitic structure heat to 1575°F (855°C), cool fairly rapidly to 1400°F (760°C) then at a rate not exceeding 35°F (18°C) per hour to 1230 (665°C); OR heat to 1675°F (855°C), cool rapidly to 1250°F (675°C), and hold for 4 hr. For a predominately spheroidized structure, heat to 1380°F (750°C) then cool from 1380°F (750°C) to 1230°F (655°C) at a rate not exceeding 10°F (6°C) per hour; OR cool rapidly from 1380°F (750°C) to 1250°F (675°C) and hold for 8 hour.
You can get a so-so anneal by seat of the pants or blacksmiths type annealing (heat to non-magnetic and cool as slowly as possible in wood ashes, dry quick lime or vermiculite - it helps to anneal small pieces on a large piece that will cool slower.) but you will not get a full metallurgical anneal as described above. In some cases the full anneal is more diffcult and the heat treat for high speed steels also usualy requires a temperature controled furnace.

For temper temperatures we have our on-line color chart which is as accurate as I could make it will print on some color printers with reasonable accuarcy or at least as accurate as it displays on a monitor. "print background colors" may need to be turned on.

For specifics on how hot to temper that is a matter of the parts specs. However, you should ALWAYS temper and as soon as possible after hardening (usualy before the part reaches ambient temperature). I would heat parts that need to be very hard to a deep yellow as a minimum. Tough springy parts should be tempered to a full or dark blue. High alloy steels may need higher temperatures.

The references listed are available on-line from Industrial Press (see our review of Machinery's Handbook) and ASM International (American Society for Metals International).
   - guru - Thursday, 01/12/06 11:50:12 EST

Vicopper, thanks. I did anneal it (I hope). I put it in the grill totally surrounded by charcoal, and lit it up. Once the metal came to a dull red, I covered the whole thing in a big pile of moist sawdust—the hope being that it would create a reducing fire and not leach out carbon. Then I closed the lid and came back to get it the next day. The file was twisted a little. I jig sawed out the blank, hammered it on the driveway to flatten it.

The fact that I was able to jigsaw the file, and the fact that the a new file will cut the metal easily, I take as a sign that it was annealed. Anyway, in the attempt to get the thing flat I ground it to almost nothing, using a ridiculous amount of time and sandpaper in the process. Side note: marking knives for woodworking need two straight edges (like a V) forming a sharp point as you look at the top of the blade. Behind the “V”, the surface must be perfectly flat. So, it’s not a like a kitchen knife with sweeping curves: it’s all straight lines and flat faces. You place a reference surface against a board. You place the flat back against the reference surface and then by dragging the blade you mark on the wood a line in the exact location as the reference surface. A regular blade doesn’t allow you to get spot on—you end up either undercutting or offsetting the line from the reference surface. Same problem with scratch awls and pencils. And pencils don’t leave a line that a saw or chisel will fall into.

Anyhoo. Having ruined that file, I bought some O1 flat stock, 5/16x1/2 w/the ½ being blade thickness and the 5/16 being the width. I successfully ground the 2 bevels, and put the back on the polish stone. Now I have this wicked pointy point. I’ve done this at this point because while it is simply enough to polish an established bevel with hard metal, it’s really touchy and prone to error to have to grind them in the hardened state: I wanted to get all the grinding done while soft.

Next it goes into the charcoal fire to get heated up for quenching. My fear, however, is that the pointy point is so pointy that the fire will burn it off, or that the shock of quenching will shatter it off. Is this a valid concern? If so, I how do I mitigate it?
   jgourlay - Thursday, 01/12/06 12:04:48 EST

EMAIL Encryption errors:. Those responding to SGT Taylor, note that he has one of those address that our system scrambles. . (my fault).

To correct his address, take the '.d.taylor' out of the domain and put it after 'cedric'. The domain should read us.army.mill.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/12/06 12:24:30 EST

molecular steel for alumminum welding
   Dolphes - Thursday, 01/12/06 12:28:30 EST

Climax Blower ..

It is pined but the pin will not move so I was think of drilling it out any problem with me doing this ? and does any one have a plan or photo of this Climax blower apart ?
   Duss - Thursday, 01/12/06 12:41:19 EST

Have a question about tool making. I was reading Bealer's book and thought about something. It says to weld a bit of carbon steel on the end of mostly steel or iron core. Well, is that needed or was it a lack of supply that caused that line of thought?
   newbie in NW ILL - Thursday, 01/12/06 13:07:24 EST

I am in the process of constructing a freon tank propane forge using a Reil ez-burner. One thing I am unsure of is the best method of controlling flow of the propane gas to the burner. Should I use an adjustable pressure regulator or a manual valve? If a pressure regulator is best, what pressure range should I look for? If a valve is best, what type? Most info I have seen suggests a variable pressure regulator, but I noted that the pictures of the Guru's burners show what appear to be valves. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.
   Frank Kloiber - Thursday, 01/12/06 13:13:22 EST

Newbie: One of the reasons that high carbon inserts were used was that high carbon steel was in short supply in the early days. So, why should a smith waste his high carbon steel stash on the part of the axe that wasn't cutting anyway? They did the same thing when they made the Indian trade knives. They would laminate a thin layer of HC on one side of the blade, so the Indian would just stone one side (the soft side). Steel plowshares were also made this way. As the plow was pulled through the earth, the soft iron wore away faster than the HC part, so one had in effect, a self-sharpening plowshare. Slick, huh?
   3dogs - Thursday, 01/12/06 13:55:48 EST


The high carbon steel was more expensive than the mild steel or wrought iron body of the tool, so you were saving money. That's one reason. The other is that the low carbon iron or steel is easier to push around under the hammer, so, in that sense, the tool is easier to forge.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 01/12/06 14:30:25 EST

Frank: I use BOTH. I had to experiment with the pressure, and I also found the needle valve useful. For a given heat output, with high pressures and the needle valve throttled I get better mixing and more efficient fuel use. At low pressure with the needle valve open I get a more reducing atmosphere.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 01/12/06 14:58:31 EST

Newbie in Il: Top quality Japanese knives and chisels are still made with laminated blades. The HC can be made harder and sharper than would be possible for a practical blade if they were not supported by the soft(er) steel.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 01/12/06 15:01:30 EST

Valves vs. Regulators: Frank, You adjust a regulator and leave it set unless you need to change the pressure, it is not a valve. The valve on the burner or forge is for turning the forge on/off and lighting. The valve on the bottle is the primary supply which is generally too far away from the forge (for safety) to be convienient for lighting the forge.

That said, In more primitive parts of the world they use the valve on the bottle to control the forge. Now, this has the benefit of being VERY cheap and dead simple. But it presents safety issues and the seat valve in the bottle is not designed for adjusting flow. The flow also varries greatly as the bottle discharges so that the valve must continualy be adjusted. When you crack a valve just barely open the gas or fluid flows in narrow paths were there are irregularities in the seat or seal. The high velocity flow at these points can cut the seal or seat. This results in a valve that is no longer useful for control and that may leak when tightened shut. Cheap, simple but unsafe and reduces the life of the cylinder valve.

For adjusting flow a needle valve is used. This has a long tapered needle that adjusts in and out of a long tapered bore. These are not suitable for on/off valves because closing them abrades the seat and needle thus making them useless for adjustment or on/off control. In general needle valves are adjusted and left alone like regulators.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/12/06 15:09:39 EST

Frank, the regulators for gas grills don't deliver enough gas so you need an adjustable one. Acording to the notoriously unreliable guage on my forge it runs about 5 psi for most work and I bump it closer to 10 for welding. I would suggest a 0-15 psi propane regulator or even a 0-30psi if you can't find the lower rated one. You usually have to find these at a propane service company though an actelyene regulator that is rated for propane use will work---new they are much more expensive than a propane regulator but seem to be easier to find at fleamarkets---of course you are rolling the dice buying used. I have had good luck and bought several for $5 rather than the $30 for the new propane regulator.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 01/12/06 16:02:33 EST


The biggest problem you will likely run into is that your finely ground and thoroughly pointy blade will warp when quenched.

When you heat the thing for hardening, give it a minute extyra to be certain that all parts of it are at the same temperature, then quench it vertically, point down, into your selected quench medium, and immediately begin swirling it around, describing a figure eight. Temper in an oven as soon as possible.

If it warps, heat it back up, straighten it, and heat treat again. There is no magic formula for absolute success, I'm afraid.
   vicopper - Thursday, 01/12/06 16:05:31 EST

Many (I think most) heat-treatable aluminum alloys require solution heat treating before artifical aging. Solution heat treating involves heating near the melting point and quenching. This process is required after welding to restore T6 material to its original hardness.
   Mike B - Thursday, 01/12/06 17:59:39 EST

Frank Kloiber-- Be sure the pressure regulator is at the tank, not the forge. You do not want full tank pressure going out into your supply line. It is not usually made to handle it.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 01/12/06 19:50:56 EST

Has anybody got any idea if the Champion Forge CD-Rom will be available again anytime soon from the Anvilfire store?


   dave - Thursday, 01/12/06 20:17:21 EST

Is O-1 tool steel easy to forge, forge weld, and heat treat? I've heard that it loses heat really fast for some reason. Is that true?
   TM - Thursday, 01/12/06 21:03:41 EST

Getting Started

I am a college student with a great intrest in the art of black smithing. Last summer I had the great honor of watching a local black smith work in his shop, and I was mystified by the way he took a piece of bar stock and with a few skillful strokes produced a leaf on one end of the bar. I've been hooked ever since. Having read the getting stared paged as well as several other articles on this site I still have a question, given that at the moment my finances are strained I doubt I will be able to put my intrest into practice anytime soon. But just out of curosity, how much money would I need to get a good start with all the proper texts and tools nesscary to enter into this most ancient and facisnating art? Any help you could offer would be greatly appreacited.
   Jason G. - Thursday, 01/12/06 21:15:55 EST

Frank: Darryl Ellis (elliscustomknifeworks.com or something like that) has the regulators at a reasonable price. Jason G. You need A hammer, a large piece of metal for an anvil. You can make a forge out of some concrete and bricks and a junked brake drum, some pipe, and a hair dryer. Most of the stuff can be picked up as junk or from a scrapyard for a hundred bucks or less. I think that you do need a book like Bielers "Art of Blacksmithing or The Complete modern Blacksmith by Weygers. In fact I would get the books first and then decide how to build your shop. I'd expect you could get to pounding steel for well under $100 if you hit the flea markets, scrapyards and dumps. Watch ebay but be careful. The people here will be happy to advise.
   JLW - Thursday, 01/12/06 21:32:55 EST

$20 for both books on amazon.
   JLW - Thursday, 01/12/06 21:35:55 EST


I have found hardly anything in blacksmithing that is easy, but O1 is forgable with a limited forging range (1950º-1800º; stop hammering at 1550ºF), it is forge weldable, and it can be heat treated in a small shop situation. It holds heat like other ferrous metals hold heat.

Jason G.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 01/12/06 21:53:39 EST

im on a low budget and i wana learn blacksmithing as a hobby not to sound to annoying but what books should i get just to learn the basics?
   kalen - Thursday, 01/12/06 22:38:51 EST

o ya and ive read the getting started guide but i dont no which book i should get ...
   kalen - Thursday, 01/12/06 22:40:33 EST

Bieler's book, The Art of Blacksmithing is my favorite and has more history but Weygand's The modern complete Blacksmith has more pictures and direct instructions for techniques.
   - JLW - Thursday, 01/12/06 22:45:17 EST

ok thank you ... now only if i could find a pen
   kalen - Thursday, 01/12/06 22:49:04 EST

Jason G. and Kalan
I'm a high school student with simlar problems. The example that Jock Dempsey made was perfect. Thats how I made mine. Your college and or highschool should have a welding shop of some sort that would do it for free. As far as getting coal, reinactment villages usually have good sources. Farmers usually have some sort of blower, and find moving them around a problem. Buy some tubing and a hammer from a store. Should be around $50 tops. As far as books, Alex Bealer's the Art of Blacksmithing is great. Also perouse the various articles here, they help.
   newbie in NW ILL - Thursday, 01/12/06 22:52:18 EST

Steel Losing Heat: The piece of steel that losses heat the fastest is the piece YOU are working. The piece the other guy is working seems to stay hot much longer. . . When an expert is working the steel it seems to stay hot forever!

As Frank noted, the working range is narrow. All steel loses heat at the same rate (except as I stated above).
   - guru - Thursday, 01/12/06 23:02:06 EST

my dad maps out land searching for land and finds lots of coal hehe i could mine it because its only a few feet below ground 5-8 i think but yah other then that i dont think i can get a welding class near were i live. i saw this really cool smith on daily planet hehe he had a stump instead of an anvil and he didnt use any fire to smith but arg! only if i could remember his name it was valentien i think
   kalen - Thursday, 01/12/06 23:08:42 EST

hi all,
I am 21 years old and I'v always wanted to do some forging. So just earlier tonight i finally got my hands on two old forges. I have no idea what kind they are and who made them, so I was wondering if I took some pictures of them, maybe some of you guru's could help me out with getting an idea of where they came from. That way I can do futher reseach and reading on them to learn how to get them working again. I haven't done a whole lot of looking because I was hoping so one could help me rather then just blindly jumping into this vast world without a clue. This has been an extremely useful site for getting started, from choosing an anvil all the way to getting my hands on a 15th edition of the Machinery's Handbook. Thank you everyone who's contributed to this site.

   Rou - Thursday, 01/12/06 23:13:38 EST

As a note, the two forges I just got are ooooold forges, other wise it would be obvious who manufatured them, just in case that wasn't clear and people were thinking I was crazy or blind or something, and the type of smithing I'm planning on do it is old smith work, like patch knives or other flint lock accenting work.

Sorry, Thanks agian
   Rou - Thursday, 01/12/06 23:23:14 EST

Chris : the industrial bone yard I use gets $600 for a welding platten pretty much regardless of condition. That is cheap for a nice one and a little dear for a beatup / cracked one IMO. Scrap Cast Iron was going for $4.50/# last year, I suspect it is a little higher now as scrap is at record prices. Acorn and Weld Sale are current manufacturers if You want to compair prices to new or reconditioned plattens, they are expensive.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 01/13/06 00:19:35 EST

Dear gurus and folks,
I have some heavy plate (9") that I may need to cut. The cuts will not be very long -- 18" mostly, with a few longer ones possible. I would really like to build a burning bar setup for this work. I don't have a large enough torch and bottle rig to cut this by a long shot, so I'd have to rent one if I wanted to use oxyfuel on it. However, I DO have a 25 liter liquefied gas dewar set up for pressurized gas feed. It seems to me that using a burning bar fed by this dewar (liquid oxygen) would be the way to go. Is anyone on here familiar with the use of burning bars?

Cloudy, windy, and cool in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Friday, 01/13/06 01:30:39 EST

Corection to above post: Cast Iron scrap was $4.50 /100#
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 01/13/06 01:48:40 EST

NOW ya tell me, Dave, after I've already ripped the radiators out of Grandma's house!!!!!!
   3dogs - Friday, 01/13/06 02:50:59 EST

For the high school/novices above: Click on the arrow in NAVIGATE anvilfire box in upper right. Scroll down to the bottom to the ABANA Chapter list link. Find the blacksmithing group for your area and then contact them to find out where and when they hold their meetings/gatherings. You will find these groups to be a wealth of knowledge and assistance, particularly someone starting out with a strong interest in the art of blacksmithing. Some hold annual conferences which draw a number of tailgate tool sellers. Some offer introduction to blacksmithing classes. They may be able to put you in touch with more or more blacksmiths in your general area.

You can also go to www.abana.org and use the RESOURCES link on the homepage, then follow it to a list of various schools and such which provide blacksmithing instruction.

Are you near a pioneer-type village or homestead which has a blacksmith shop? If so, see if one of the volunteers there will let you come in for some hands-on instruction.

Also use the NAVIGATE anvilfire list to go down to the list of forum advertisers. Both Centaur Forge and Pieh Tool Co. carry a number of books oriented towards the beginner.

As noted above, eBay can be a source of tools. However, S&H may be more than the bid price.

Many a blacksmiths today seems to have started with little more than a BBQ pan converted into a coal forge, scrounged coal, a short-length of RR track for an anvil, a large ballpien hammer and scrounged up stock.

Kalen: Removal of coal from property which isn't your without permission is known as theft. This even applies to state and federally owned land. Contact the property owner for permission. In all likelihood it is soft anthracite (stoker/boiler) coal of limited usefulness for blacksmithing.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 01/13/06 02:54:33 EST

Kalen: Even if you did own the land, removing the coal is mining, and every state has a lot of laws about mining. I know of a man that just mined enough coal from his own land to heat his home when he was out of work, and he ended up in the Kentucky State pennitentiary and lost his farm. He didn't have the permits required!
   - John Odom - Friday, 01/13/06 09:04:27 EST

Getting Started:

I believe that Thomas P has made a coal forge from scrounged parts, with a blower, for under $10. If you can't find coal, you can use real charcoal, and the grilling briquettes do work (thats what I started with) but they do give off a lot of sparks and ash. Keep in mind that most blacksmithing books can be barrowed from the LIBRARY for FREE. College libraries often have very extensive collections in the art departments. So, you can realistically get started smithing for $25-$50. This gives you a chance to try things out without spending much. Also, most of the local clubs have monthly meetings where could get some hands on experience for free. It all comes down to how bad you have been bitten by the blacksmthing bug.

   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 01/13/06 11:06:41 EST

Scrap and Plattens: Dave, I think scrap peaked last fall and has dropped considerably. The Chinese had over estimated their needs and put the world scrap market in a spin. . . But your price of about $600 is right. They have been running cheaper and once in a while a dealer has tons of them. The big shipyards and very large steel fabricators had large work areas where plattens were the floor. Structurals were heated in long furnaces and slid out onto the bending floor where a lofted curve was drawn on the platten floor. The pieces was bent by a crew using pry bars and dogs set into the floor. A bending floor may have been 100 x 100 feet and required four hundred 5 x 5 plattens. . .

That is where the low cost plattens in scrap yards are coming form. Our declining heavy industry. . . Every smiths NEEDS one and should save them from going to China as scrap.
   - guru - Friday, 01/13/06 11:50:28 EST

Patrick is right; as an experiment I once put together a "complete" beginner's set up for around $25---and didn't use a welder or anything less available than a 3/8" electric drill in it's construction. I did make good use of the local fleamarket and the anvil was a broken knuckle found in the ditch alonside a RR track. I used that forge as a billet welder for several years.

I've run across a number of folks lately that don't know about ILL Inter Library Loan where your local library can get books from bigger libraries for you. Here in NM I can go to the largest town in the county---about 9000 people and get books from university libraries in other states---costs me a dollar and I get the book for a month usually. Talk with your librarian!

Kalen you may be thinking of Valentine the armourmaker and most of what armour makers do is not what we would call smithing but rather cold working of sheet metal. armourarchive.org would be a better site to investigate that at. Note that the very best armour makers do sometimes work hot and that smithing skills are a massive help making the specialized tools that upscale armourmaking require.

Coal located close to the surface of the ground is usually severly weathered and would generally not be usable for smithing except under the "any port in a storm" condition. It is often easier to make your own chunk charcoal for smithing and as that what has been used for smithing for several times longer than coal has it will work.

   Thomas P - Friday, 01/13/06 12:31:53 EST

The blacksmithing bug? Is that anything like smithing fever? I don't know about you, but if I don't pound hot metal or strike an arc at least once, I'll have a crappy day. The little lady doesn't like me leaving her all by her lonesome during the day while I'm in the cellar making a ruckus, so I usually get an hour or so in every morning to get work done. It's like my morning ritual, make my coffee, go downstairs, make stuff, go to work. Look out for spatter and slag hopping into the coffee mug tho, gets crunchy at the bottom!
   - Nippulini - Friday, 01/13/06 13:04:01 EST

Hay Kalen:

I live on a farm in Kansas City MO , KC, MO sits on a coal pocket and there a couple of old mines i go to when i need col for my foundry and forge when ever sum one asks what I'm doing i tell them I'm digging sum good black potting soil for my flower planter and if they point out it's coal I'm digging i jest play dumb and tell them it worked grate last year . ;)
all so a person i know who i by sum of my coked coal from technically has bin digging a fishing pond for the past three years. it all so helps he lives' on 400 acre's ;)

but you can get in to sum bug trouble if you say your mining O"BOY and if you don't want OSHA and the EPA all over you never say you run a forge or a foundry ware you live if they ask jest say it's out of town :)
   Duss - Friday, 01/13/06 13:24:40 EST

My old Buffalo Forge Climax Blower :

Well I'm going to try drilling the pins out of this old Climax Blower today .. any one who thinks this is a bad idea pleas say sun-thing now.... :)
   Duss - Friday, 01/13/06 13:31:14 EST

what is the weight per foot for 1inch &one half 12 gauge steel square tubing
   dominic kozel - Friday, 01/13/06 13:35:38 EST

Dominic- My steel reference book says that carbon steel tubing 1 1/2" sq weights 1.992lb/ft thats .109 wall thickness , 1.992/12= .166 lb/inch
   daveb - Friday, 01/13/06 15:31:20 EST

Thomas P: if Valentine the armourmaker is the one im thinking of then he's in my area and thats why i was wondering about him
Duss: hehe thanks for the advice, but it would take me a long time to get alot of coal hehe the only thing i got to carry it with is my dads pick up truck and the areas are rather far away....

questions that i would like a few answers to
1. what is the diffrence between armormaking and smithing
2.what is a blacksmith's pay per hour ( <-- i just wana no this because i might be a smith as a job)
   kalen - Friday, 01/13/06 16:02:34 EST

Kalen; an armour maker is someone who makes armour. In general 90+ % of folks making armour today are working cold metal.

A smith is a person who uses heat and pressure to manipulate various types of steel: Note there are a nearly infinite number of types of smithing: tool smiths, ornamental iron smiths, bladesmiths as well as people who work with steel but may do a little bit of smithing as part of their job---machinists, weldors, fabrication folks, etc.

Pay I would say the pay ranges from negative to maybe $100 an hour for a very few incredibly talented smiths. Most professional smiths I have know are close to qualifying for food stamps.

If you don't know what a smith is/does---how would you know if you want to be one? Did you check out armourarchive.org yet? BTW they use the english spelling of armour instead of the american armor.

   Thomas P - Friday, 01/13/06 17:37:34 EST

Guru says you need to charge 100.00 an hour.
He is right. I would never be able to sell anything when I had a business at those rates in the poor area I live.
The abana "Hammer's Blow" this month vol.13, #4 fall 2005 has a great article and formula to use to calculate materials cost and what to charge taking all variables into consideration. This a more realistic approach.

I feel you should keep you day job as well. You certainly will not make enough to live on at first. You will need to be networked in large cities doing very large commisions to realistically make a living at it. I did in the past, but do not recommend being a starving artist. Unless you don't mind being poor and love it.
   burntforge - Friday, 01/13/06 17:42:55 EST

Burntforge---$100 an hour is the *SHOP* charge not the pay for the smith. It covers materials, insurance rent, electricity, consumables, tool payments and hopefully a bit left to pay the smith's wages...

   Thomas P - Friday, 01/13/06 17:45:50 EST

Pricing Your work by Don Meador in the Hammer's Blow I mentioned above. He is a member of the Blacksmith Association of Missouri

   burntforge - Friday, 01/13/06 17:46:03 EST

Howdy Thomas
I realize that I didn't explain that detail above. I owned a business/forge & foundry. Even with overhead I could not charge 100.00 an hour. No one would pay the prices in an international market with contacts. $50.00 was more realistic, but not enough to survive on. I love blacksmithing. A few make big dollars and become well known. The rest make less than minimum wage to live on.
   burntforge - Friday, 01/13/06 17:50:18 EST

Like Peter & Philip Simmons said "There will always be something for the Blacksmith to do." It does not mean it will not be a meager existence. All professional smiths I know have other jobs or sideline businesses. Only one I personally know has been sucessful full time. He works around the clock and lives with his family in his Gallery. The family shop was in business since 1850 to 1995. They had to do farming on the side. When they all passed on they were very poor. Even our friend Jock barely can survive with anvilfire and forging. I am not trying to be negatitive...just realistic. If you do it full time, you better go after it with a vengence and plan on working 18 hours a day at least 6 days a week. Advertise heavily and network every chance you can with the right folks.
   burntforge - Friday, 01/13/06 17:58:03 EST

"SUCCESS, comes to those who hustle wisely." (I forget who said that, but it's a good'un.)
   3dogs - Friday, 01/13/06 18:04:15 EST

To start out plan on already having your home p[aid for, drive an old truck paid for, no medical or shop insurance. Whatever you do don't get hurt or sick. I again don't need to be negative...just this is reality for many folks when they start out. Plan on many interruptions as you will not have anyone but yourself at first to answer the phone, do the paper work, shipping, ordering, pay the bill and do the physical labor and deliveries and installtion if you are doing that type of work. You will likely need to heat your home and shop with wood or coal. You will need to do wtih tools you have and also relie on other sources to get steel scrap free stc. I almost forgot make most of your own tools. As you grow become well known and are able to hire help you can get insurance etc. Don't forget to pay comp. and into social security so you can retiew when your 80 years old. BOG Just a realistic view. I never sleep good at night worrying about everything and the next job coming along or sale. Everyone complains about even the lowestest price. You need to set your work high or you will never make anything.
   burntforge - Friday, 01/13/06 18:06:39 EST

If your heart is in it and you have the drive you can certainly succeed. I just wanted to give you the hard reality, so nothing catches you off guard. I forgot you will need a bookkeeper at first unless you already have all that stuff down. I do not have a business anymore do to ill health. Getting hurt or sick can turn your life upside down as many of the nice folks here know too well. I wish you much success. I will apologise to everyone for all my post. I just had a passion to have a business and first hand experience. I tell all the bad stuff first and then the good will follow if one does what 3dogs states. All failures will lead to using your time wisely and perfect your skills. You will be able to gently and firmly tell some folks to not waste your time and not hang around the shop bothering you.
   burntforge - Friday, 01/13/06 18:14:32 EST

burntforge: so true so true hmm but im only in junior high so i got plenty of time (i hope...) to plan out my futre
   kalen - Friday, 01/13/06 18:21:06 EST

BOG...If you have a wife/husband or many kids you can have them work to support you, so you can start out your business..LOLOL. When they are not working they can be free labor(I recomend keeping a cat-o-nine tales handy..BOG). A significant other working can carry the insurance. If you are already retired or have investments to live on then you are ahead of the game. You may already have done many of the things mentioned above. Enjoy!!
   burntforge - Friday, 01/13/06 18:21:44 EST

You are very wise to think ahead and make proper prepartions now. I would start out as a hobby and market those items on the side here and there. Focus on school first. Do yourself a favor and get some college. The math and writing skill will help you a great deal. If you don't get the hammers blow I would be happy to photo copy the article on what to charge and mail it to you. Ask your parents if that is o.k. first. I hope all helps.
   burntforge - Friday, 01/13/06 18:28:05 EST

Being a self employed blacksmith is a pretty tough business, but a lot of people do it.
But I think Kalen was asking how much you could get paid as an employee, not as a business owner.
And around here, anyway, the answer is anywhere from 10 to 25 bucks an hour.
Here in the Northwest, I know of at least a half dozen shops that have full time employees, and another dozen that have the odd part timer. Grunt labor here is 10 bucks, with higher wages paid depending on skill.

I pay my guys around 13 to 15 an hour, but we only do forged work a quarter to a third of the time, and so I only hire guys who have extensive welding/fabrication experience- usually I require a 2 year AA degree in welding. I find that someone who has spent 2 years of their own time and money learning to weld usually has a sincere interest in metal and is worth spending my time training. They usually have a decent knowledge of the basics as well- types of materials, measuring, cutting, and layout.
It seems to me that if you want to make a living as a blacksmith, either as an employee or as a self employed blacksmith, a 2 year degree in welding is a very good place to start.
I know quite a few graduates of the college degree program in blacksmithing from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale Il. These guys and girls usually have no problem getting a job after graduation. Many grads of this school are successful self employed smiths- in fact some of the big names in the business, such as Phillip Baldwin, John Medwedeff, Daryl Meier, and James Wallace, the head of the National Metals Museum, all went there.

There are definitely a couple of thousand jobs in the USA as employees of art blacksmiths. There are several thousand more jobs in industrial forges, such as Scott Forge.
To get one of these jobs, however, you have to be pretty dedicated to it- you have to really want to be a blacksmith, and you have to study- read books, do internet research, join your local blacksmith group and go to as many demos, conferences, and meetings as you can. Then you have to practice- which means scrounging, saving, and scavenging for tools and equipment, and working at it as much as you can.
Then you have to willing to live where the jobs are- The full time jobs in art blacksmithing are in areas like Seattle and Portland, Napa Valley and the Bay area, LA, Phoenix, Chicago, and other big cities. Blacksmithing is expensive, and you need to be where rich people live.
There are a few rural opportunities, but not as many- the once upon a time largest blacksmith shop in america, for instance, is in Arkansas- Stone County Forge had over 100 employees a few years ago, although they have fewer now. But this is the rule, rather than the exception.
   - Ries - Friday, 01/13/06 19:51:44 EST

Oops- I meant the exception, rather than the rule- as in most blacksmithing jobs are NOT in the country.
   - Ries - Friday, 01/13/06 19:54:52 EST

I am 62 years old and have always been interested in Blacksmithing. Since I have retired, I joined the Houston area HABA chapter. I haven't been to any meetings or demostrations yet, but I get their newsletters which I enjoy very much.
I have a cheap 75 lb. cast anvil, but recently while takling to a friend of mine, I asked him if he knew anyone who had a good larger anvil that I might be able to get reasonablly. He said that he had an old anvil bolted to a gang disk (for a tractor) for added weight down in the pasture.
In short he gave me the anvil. It is a 155 lb. Fisher anvil. It has 1941 embossed on the foot of the anvil. Is this a pretty good anvil for a beginner?
   Glenn Tate - Friday, 01/13/06 20:09:47 EST

Glenn: Fishers are very good anvils. They tend to be quiet with less rebound. 155# is an excellent size. Everyone here is jealous
   adam - Friday, 01/13/06 20:30:18 EST

Heat Losses in steel: The Guru said all steel looses heat at the same rate and this is true if you are refering to heat conductivity: the rate heat moves through the steel is basically a constant (varies in HIGH alloys like stainless). However, a flat thin piece will loose heat faster than a heavy solid because of the ratio of the surface area to the mass. Hang your flat pieces off the edge of the anvil and work it back onto the anvil face.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 01/13/06 20:35:27 EST

just a little info incase some of you people think im a girl ... im a guy ! i no i no its shocking hehe a guy named kalen.
Ries: hmm intresting info would you clasifie shop as a good welding back round like highschool shop?
   kalen - Friday, 01/13/06 20:45:24 EST

it's that name that make's you strong " Big John C $, A Boy Named Sue "
   Duss - Friday, 01/13/06 21:31:32 EST

Don't feel bad about your name. My uncle and a man cousin have the same name. Mine is way more girly. I will give you a slight hint. My name is the same as a brand of wicked alcohol.

Ries gave you some great information. I never considered the combination of modern means in fabrication into my above senario. That changes a great deal of things. I myself like the old ways or traditional means such as collars, rivets and forge welds. Electric welder was not a consideration in my the above posts. I only used one of those for jigs, making small machines for use or making some tooling. It is a very lucrative business in fabrication. Alot broader market with the combo of the smith work. I just never thought to consider the combo as that is just not my style, though nothing wrong with welding together forged items and doing general and industrial fab.

One consideration is the reprocutions of many years welding even with a respirator. It is still hard on the lungs and eyes. I know many fabricators who are only in their 40s and 50s who have used safety equiptment properly and have health issues from welding all the time. They don't smoke either. You can't always control the environment you work in in someones shop. Some folks make sure there is equast fans and good ventilation and eye protection all around. Some folks don't care if you are in a dark little airtight room.

Also foundry work is very bad for your health too. That doesn't mean if you love it not to do it. Just things to consider before you get totally set on a career.
   burntforge - Friday, 01/13/06 22:20:17 EST

Scrap prices: I don't presently know about iron, but I know that copper,brass/bronze & copper/aluminum are at record prices,or were a couple weeks ago.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 01/13/06 23:07:41 EST

Ries: Do You have to take the bull work to keep up cash flow or have You gotten beyond that point. I have seen Your website, pretty impressive.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 01/13/06 23:12:55 EST

I don't know how blakcsmithing as a profession works, but I'm in a circle of craftsmen. 1 Black smith, bunch of designers, cabinetry, sculpturists, barn raisers, restoration carpenters. Most of them are ether semi-retired or do this as a fun job. The blacksmith is an international accountant for his German agency (he is german). The restoration carpenter does work for rich foggies on the north shore and is helped by his wifes medical profession (Her father is Stan Jorstad is anybods read his books about nature). My father was a custom cabinetry guy, he might be working for Burger boat company in Northern Wisconsin before the year is out. I'm in the Navy ROTC right now and going to get a degree in supply managment and take the smithing courses at Southern Illinois. Hopefully I'll be able to work at a shipyard using the broad knowledges I hope to have to tie it all together. You have to have a plan. Being a craftsmen is and never has been a profitable job but to a select few, so you need something to support these rather expensive hobbys.
   newbie in NW ILL - Saturday, 01/14/06 00:19:07 EST

Sorry forgot, I'm also qualify for jounrymanship for carpentry in a union, so I have a little room to talk, but most of these guys know a lot more than I ever will.
   newbie in NW ILL - Saturday, 01/14/06 00:20:16 EST

hehe i just figured out something i should do . when im old like out of high school i guess and after ive tooken some welding courses i should go on some smithing tour in my dads old truck(thats if he still has it its oooo 6-15 years old but still in mint). hehe i could go all across canada and usa .... i doubt i could stay in hotels though ggas would cost alot but ya i could do that.
   kalen - Saturday, 01/14/06 00:55:59 EST

hmmmm are there blacksmithing schools or do i have to find a blacksmith and get lessons? and if there are schools can you post some links? thanks
   kalen - Saturday, 01/14/06 02:43:06 EST

kalen: Go to www.abana.org. On their homepage click on the link for RESOURCES. Then follow it to their list of schools and such which offer blacksmithing lessons.

The value of talking welding shop in high school depends largely on the school. I've heard of some where attendance is what is required, not to actually develop a skill. Shop teacher may be one of the sports coaches with other things on their mind.

As noted earlier, one of the best things you do go in high school is to get a good, solid background in English language usage and math. To that I would add, don't communicate in cellphone text message format and slang on the Internet or in your writing. If your spelling isn't what it should be, first do your comments in a document program with spell check and then cut and paste. However, a spell check is not a substitute for good proof reading. For example, unless it also includes context, it may not differient between the proper usage of their versus there. If you do this, don't just accept the program's change. Understand why it is offering the suggested change.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 01/14/06 03:12:11 EST

ken: hmm good site but all the schools are over 500 miles away from me acept for one that is already full but ya ... im tired going 2 bed gnight
   kalen - Saturday, 01/14/06 04:01:29 EST

   3dogs - Saturday, 01/14/06 09:03:55 EST

First I would like to thank you for such a great blacksmithing
site.I have used some of your easy projects for our 4h kids.
They are always amazed and proud of the art they created.My question has to do with Sweet Iron Bits.What is different about this steel for a bit?How do I make or find this metal?How forgeable is it?
Thanks Rich D.
   Rich D. - Saturday, 01/14/06 09:18:18 EST

Schools and Learning Blacksmithing: Kalen, Not everything in life is easy. Not too many years ago there was only one blacksmithing school in the US and that was Frank Turley's School in New Mexico. This was nearly a continent away from most of us. There was also no Internet with easy answers and only a couple books on the subject that were hard to find. Today there are almost TOO MANY schools in North America as they often have a hard time filling classes.

If you had read my Getting Started article (linked at the top and bottom of this page, the home page and the FAQ's page) it suggests that every would be smith take welding courses which are available almost anywhere in the world. It also answers almost every other question you have asked here and in the mail.

Books: Today there dozens of books on the subject that are easily available. See our Bookshelf If you cannot afford to buy them they are available via Inter Library Loan. In most cases this service is free and in some you are asked to pay the postage on the books. If your library is part of this system (ASK THEM) then almost any book in any library is available to you including those of the US Library of Congress and almost every University in North America.

Tools: I have already answered your poorly considered question ". .i wana get started in black smithing and i was wondering what i should i buy to get started." in the mail and in the Getting Started article. Asking what you should buy without including a budget or goals is too open ended and the wrong question.

Learning to pose the proper question so that the scope of the answer is reasonable is very important. Asking unconsidered questions that are equivalent to "what is the meaning of life" or "what is the history of the world" will not help in your quest for knowledge. Commenting that you do not like the answer when it is given honestly and with thought is disrespectful. People treated disrespectfuly will not continue to answer questions for you (see Ken's post about spelling and punctuation).

If you spend all day, every day studying the pages of anvilfire there is enough to keep you busy for a month or two as well as entertained. If you actually try to LEARN what is here then that could take years.

We take the art of blacksmithing seriously and enjoy helping those that show true interest. But an important part of the art as in many things is the ability to study and learn on one's own. Slow down, open your eyes and study what is in front of you. THEN think before you ask a question that is clearly answered right in front of you.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/14/06 09:26:38 EST

Sweet Iron:
. . .a few years ago I was in Texas and a guy that was in camp told me that sweet iron bits were made by either brushing the steel with a soft copper brush or by hammering thin, soft copper on the steel while the steel was hot. Over the years I took some flak for using a rusty bit but my horse never seemed to mind the taste and even would suck on the bit at times like a kid with a jaw breaker. With all of the abuse I put the bit through it never lost its browning and it never pited.
- Bill Stone

We've gotten several opinions. I see copper on NEW bits and hear of OLD bits that have a wonderful permanent brown color. Rust is not going to last long in the horses mouth but copper oxide is very tough.
Bill Epps opinion was that "sweet iron" was unplated wrought OR mild steel but not plated nickle or stainless. He says the part in the horses mouth stays bright in use. I suspect the old "brown" bits have been copper clad or plated.
- guru
One of the Spanish words for the old low carbon wrought iron [the material] is "hierro dulce", translating literally as "iron sweet". Presently, mild steel [low carbon] is termed "acero dulce", or "steel sweet". The early-day Hispanic bitsmiths apparently passed this definition on to their Anglo apprentices and counterparts, and it stuck.

I have given this a little thought, wondering why in Spanish, wrought iron would be called sweet. I can't come up with anything really concrete. On the other hand, why do we call low carbon steel "mild"? They all seem to be culinary terms, but they are as good as any, and we have inherited them.

In terms of advertising, the bits are not really made of wrought iron anymore, but "sweet iron" sounds good to a lot of old buckaroos, the prospective buyers. I don't think the advertisers are fudging too much. After all, mild steel is technically an iron with only about 0.20% carbon. It gets semantic.
- Frank Turley
   - guru - Saturday, 01/14/06 09:38:19 EST

So, would high carbon steel be considered "spicy" steel? Get it? Mild/Spicy! Heh heh..... okay, I hear crickets.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 01/14/06 11:33:57 EST

Speaking of crickets, the small rollers inserted into the curb of a bit are called crickets, because the horse would roll them with his tongue. The hole in the cricket was irregularly shaped, so you get a burr-like noise.

Sometimes the cannons (mouthpiece bars) of the bridle bit were "slugged" with copper. Slugging was an inlay process where channels were hacksawed and/or chiseled in the cannon at right angles to the cannon length. Small lengths of copper were hammered into the channels, and all was filed and smoothed.

The old horsemen, especially the New World Hispanics, claimed that the copper caused more salivation in the mouth. This lubrication of the bit was desirable. If a horse has a dry mouth, "it is a hurting mouth".
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 01/14/06 11:49:50 EST

Preach it Ken!! I second the Amen, 3dogs gave you!! My grammer is usually bad when I type a post, though I can't stomach the cellphone text slang language either. They should call it cellcenomics.
   burntforge - Saturday, 01/14/06 12:22:01 EST


- If your first name bothers you (i.e., people thinking it is feminine) consider changing it. Start asking everyone to refer to you as perhaps Cale. If you want you can legally change it when you are either 18 or 21, perhaps earlier with your parent's permission.

- Opportunities are not necessarily going to come to you. You will have to go to them. I am reminded of a TV news report which interviewed a man in AR or MO. He bemoaned there were no jobs in the area, his unemployment was about to run out and his family would likely lose their residence. Only one or two states away is Nashville, TN, which is crying for workers. Essentially it has a negative true unemployment rate in that they have pretty well exhausted the pool of locally available talent. If someone were to move to the Nashville, TN area and couldn't get a couple of job offers within a couple days I would suspect they, and not the job market, are the problem. In the local area the official unemployment rate is about 6% and the actual rate probably 10-12%. However, there is a local saying everyone who really wants a job has one.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 01/14/06 13:23:44 EST

ken: meh no it don its my second name =P but i use it because my first one is stephen and my grampa name is stephen and he is an #%$@ most of the time
= ( when i was five he locked me out side because i was wearing stupid tronto maple leaf shoes and my grampa hates them....
guru: true but i live in canada and there and 2-3 schools in ontario 1 in the meritines and 1 in saskachewa and 1 in vancover ( i think it is just a giuld) and only 2 of those are close to me the saskachewa and vancover one and then i dont no any of the state name so i didnt look for any ones close to the canadian/american border (its fun standing on the border i was standing on it and my brother said "your so fat your in two contruys at once" i dont think that was a good burn but any way).
   kalen - Saturday, 01/14/06 13:59:11 EST

While there are a few, wonderful purists who hand forge every part of everything they do, the vast majority of working blacksmiths today- the guys who make a living at it- also cheat now and then. The bigger commercial art blacksmith shops I have been in always have a range of welding equipment, often alongside machine tools such as lathes and mills, and also big fab shop stuff like ironworkers, power rolls, press brakes, and angle rolls.
Being in business usually involves some degree of compromise.
Some of the best blacksmiths I know can also tig weld with the best of them, or run a milling machine, or program a cnc machine.
These skills are complementary, not meant to replace a knowledge of forging.

I am refering mostly to shops that do large scale ornamental work- shops like these-

These kinds of shops are the places where you could get a job as a blacksmith- and while they all want the most gee-whiz flash bang hand forging skills, they also appreciate someone who has an all around metal fabricating background.
High school shop is a good place to start, and then community college or trade school classes in welding and machining are both very good background skills for a modern blacksmith.
In a production environment, you need to work with a powerhammer as well- so classses are a good way to go for this- schools have lots of expensive tools that you dont get to play with any other way.

I am pretty sure there is a college in Ontario that has a blacksmithing degree program. But as I mentioned before, if you are serious about this, you will need to travel, both for schooling, and for work.
   - Ries - Saturday, 01/14/06 15:03:57 EST

Kalen: You are in luck as the 2006 ABANA International Conference will be in Seattle - just down I-5 from you. While you may not be able to attend the event as a participant, see if your parents will take you down for the day to at least see the exibition area. You will see the work of some of the finest artist-blacksmith in the world today. For conference information just go to www.abana.org and then click on the link at the top of the homepage.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 01/14/06 16:08:15 EST

hi everyone
i have found a farriers forge but everyone says they're horrible is this true or can i get by with one for hobby stuff also for the same price i can get a forge blower but i was wondering if anyone had ballpark figures for the cost of a smallish forge and any good places to find detailed plans thanks alot
   stephen - Saturday, 01/14/06 16:40:53 EST

Ries and Ken have gave you some great direction. I would heed what they say. I myself am also a trained machinist which has helped tremendously in blacksmithing. A background in Fabrication, Machining and blacksmithing would make you very well rounded. I like most of these folks also have an academic degree. That will only make you more confident and a better communicator. Not only is the about mentioned math and English important, but public speaking, business classes, social scienc classes and art classes will be of great value. I have found most folks respect an artist more if they not only have a degree or training in a skill, but an academic background. It makes you very well rounded and adaptable to many enviornmaents and employment oppertunities.
   burntforge - Saturday, 01/14/06 16:42:57 EST

corrected post
Ries and Ken have given you great direction. I would heed what they say. I myself am also a trained machinist which has helped tremendously in blacksmithing. A background in fabrication, machining and blacksmithing would make you very well rounded. I like most of these folks also have an academic degree. That will only make you more confident and a better communicator. Not only is the above mentioned math and English skills valuable, but public speaking, business, social science and art classes will be of great value. I have found most folks respect an artist more if they not only have a skilled labor training, but an academic degree. It makes you very well rounded and adaptable to many enviornments and employment opportunities. Very important-never become self important as an artist. It will stifle creativity.
   burntforge - Saturday, 01/14/06 16:49:38 EST

Now Ken has me checking my grammer...BOG
   burntforge - Saturday, 01/14/06 16:50:18 EST

Single horn Peddinghaus anvil on ebay. Item # 7211682022. It appears to be in excellent condition. Keep in mind they are not producing these anvils anymore in Germany due to difficulty getting steel billets and replacement dies made for the forging hammers. I thought it may be interesting to someone.
   burntforge - Saturday, 01/14/06 16:59:52 EST

Kalen-- I suggest that at this stage of the game you get yourself a set of the late, great Alexander Weygers's fine books on smithing. Three of them are available as one volume from various sources such as Centaur. Weygers believed in doing more with less, making tools from scrap steel with equipment he put together from old stuff he found alongside the road, and with it made beautiful sculptures and a fine life for himself. After that get Schwarzkopf on forging, and download the blacksmithing info from http://www.countryside.gov.uk/NewEnterprise/Economies/craftpublications.asp That's enough to keep you going for a good, long while. If you cannot manage this, forget about smithing.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 01/14/06 18:38:13 EST

Thanks! I didn't even know about these books.
   newbie in NW ILL - Saturday, 01/14/06 19:11:52 EST

CSI Hammer-In at Scarabok Ranch in April: I contacted the Loretta Lynn Dude Ranch about reserving a spot to park my camper for the Hammer in. They said there is some kind of motorcycle event that same weekend and they would not accept any reservations; first come first serve only. There is a Songbird Marina and Resort, 20 miles to the west that does accept reservations if you have a camper. I would check the hotels now if you plan to attend the Hammer In.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 01/14/06 19:15:52 EST

quenchcrack: It would be the Birdsong Marina and RV Campgrounds, 731-584-7880. It is in Perry County (across KY Lake).

There is also the KOA Buffalo River Campgrounds near the I-40 and Highway 13 exit - 931-296-1306. Would be about 14 miles to the south. However, with the Grand Nationals at Loretta Lynn's they may be booked up also.

Two others in the general area are the Buffalo River Camping & Canoeing (931-296-5964) and Tennessee River Camp Resort (931-296-7963). Both are on Cuba Landing Road. First at 650 and second at 6390. If coming from the west on I-40, it is the first exit after you cross over KY Lake into Humphreys County. If coming from the east on I-40 you go past the Buffalo exit and it is the last one before you cross over the lake. Both are goodly sized marinas on the lake.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 01/14/06 21:43:09 EST

there is a degree program for blacksmithing in Ontario try this web site for more info
for more on Ontario Blacksmiths try this site
if you need more links for Ontario contact me by e-mail
   Mark P - Saturday, 01/14/06 21:44:31 EST

I have a question about Vulcan anvils. I have a chance to buy one, but was wondering if they are a good brand. It is in the 110 pound range, it has a very flat face, a few minor chips on one side (a 1/4 radius should take them out) but the rest of the edges are sharp. It hardly looks used. The body is cast iron with a 1" steel plate welded on. The asking price is $190. I would appreciate any input. Thanks
   - rich33 - Saturday, 01/14/06 21:47:51 EST

Hey Stepen,
I assume you mean a farriers forge as basically like an inverted trashcan lid on legs with a blower off the side? If so, They are fine, Of course depends what work you are expecting of it. As you mention a hobby and I suspect you are a beginner, It will be fine for the smaller things everybody starts out with. But Forget it if you expect to create Gladiator swords or other daft crap.
I started with one, And would still use it If I had not happened upon a big railroad forge for cheap. That small forge is also alot easier to take somewhere too.
   - Mike - Saturday, 01/14/06 22:09:23 EST

rich33: I suspect the steel plate on the Vulcan only looks 1" thick. More likely 1/2" x 5/8". According to Richard Postman in Anvils in America Vulcans were never advertised as blacksmithing anvils, per se, but rather to the farmer, institution (e.g., schools) and garage trade. They were often carried as the low-end anvil in national catalogs, such as Sears. They tend to be somewhat bulky. One advantage is they don't ring, which makes them more suitable for a suburban neighborhood. 110-pounds is light for general blacksmithing. You would likely be happier with something in the 150-170-pound range. When I upgraded from a 100-lb to 160-lb Fisher I was surprised at the difference it made in forging. IMHO, $1.73 pound isn't a bad price, but not a great one either.

Stepen: The pan forge may also be a rivet forge. At one time much of steel construction, such as buildings, ships and bridges, was connected via hot riveting. An apprentice would keep rivets hot, tossing them to a catcher with a cone, who then inserted them in the hole and acted as a backer for the one putting on a rivet head on the other side. I suspect many an apprentice never mastered the art of tossing a hot rivet accurately.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 01/14/06 23:59:08 EST

Newbie & Kalen : The ship yard sounds like an excelent job to learn a lot of usefull skills. Another job that offers many related usefull skills is Millwright, altho it may be hard to find an apprenticeship for that trade today. I served a Tool&Die apprenticeship and worked as a journyman for 10 more years, learned an awefull lot in the process. Kalen, in Your case, I asume You are still in High School, get into a VoTec program if You can and take welding but see if You can get some basic training in the machine shop allso. If the classes are full of goofoffs and the teacher doesn't care, learn the esentials and get to a different class in a related trade with a conciencous teacher and apply yourself. A good teacher goes the extra mile to help a student who wants to learn.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 01/15/06 00:44:21 EST

Vulcan Anvil: Last week I went to an auction where most things went pretty high. There was a Vulcan 100# anvil with a great face but chips around most of the edges that would all but disapear with 1/4"radius. It sold for 90 or 95$ which with the buyers premium and tax worked out to a little bit over $1/#. I thought it was one of the few items that sold for a fair price at that auction. I think the top plate on this particular one was not much over 1/4" thick by closely looking at the edge chips. It may have been re-machined or ground, but I doubt it.I have allso seen a 400# castiron anvil with a top plate not much over 3/8 thick, it may vary depending on how much had to come off to get a flat surface when it was made.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 01/15/06 01:01:46 EST

No one has anything to offer about burning bars? Surely someone in here has had experience with one... I'd be quite surprised if that wasn't the case.
   T. Gold - Sunday, 01/15/06 07:02:27 EST

There is also some evidence Illinois Iron and Bolt produced some Vulcans out of semi-steel. The ones which have been tentitively identified as such do have what appears to be a thick top plate, but it is only part of the mold. These may have been produced at the old American Skein and Foundry in Racine, WI after II&B bought them out. If so, it may have allowed II&B to continue to produce anvils at a lower cost of production.

On eBay I found a listing for one which looks very much like the Badgers in Anvils in America, but had II&B Co. on the front foot.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 01/15/06 08:05:43 EST

T. Gold,

I came close to having some experience with burning bars when I was scrounging supplies for my powerhammer. There was a hulking big turbine shaft from the local power generating station that I could have had, if I could have cut it up. I lookend into making an oxygen lance burning bar for cutting it, but I pretty much chickened out when I foundout that they will cut *anything* from steel to stone and aren't easy to shut off. In retrospect, I should have gone ahead and tried it, probably.

I would have had to get a second oxy cylinder and ganged the two together to get enough for the job, as I recall, but that can be done easily enough. As for trying to do it with the O2 boiling off a dewar full of LOX, I have no idea how you go about getting a regulated pressure out of that in a portable situation, but I'm quite sure it can be done.

The basic materials for an oxygen lance aren't anything exotic really, but it *is* a really energetic exothermic reaction and will consume some pretty outlandish amounts of oxygen, compared to a cutting torch. I suspect the oxy has to be at a pretty significant pressure to keep a really deep kerf burning, too. Sounds exciting, to say the least.
   vicopper - Sunday, 01/15/06 09:39:22 EST

Oxygen lance: When a kid, and I didn't know better I read about them, and tried it. It was just post war in the Philippines and I found a book in a box of donated library books that was called:"Modern Methods of Bank Burglary" and marked for restricted circulation" etc etc. The Librarian told me to "safely dispose" of it. I read it and kept it until I left the Philippines. This book said there was no defense against an oxygen lance, as it would burn through anything. There were a bunch of ex US army Oxygen bottles on the near abandoned base nearby and I brought them home (by dragging) one at a time. I set up next to a burned-out tank. I heated the end of the 20 ft piece of 1/2" pipe red hot in a firepit forge, then turned on the oxygen. It burned through the tank hull is nothing flat. The 20' of pipe was gone in no time and the fire was well up the hose by the time I got the oxygen shut off. I took the other tanks to the college shop and decided not to try that again!

   - John Odom - Sunday, 01/15/06 10:00:56 EST

I was wondering what happened to the Sorber Collection after the auction? I have not read anything concerning it after the auction. Was the metal museum able to purchase any of it? Did anyone here purchase any of it? Any other blacksmith organization buy any? There was alot of hype before the auction and nothing after it.
   burntforge - Sunday, 01/15/06 11:35:32 EST

The only thing I know is is the Sorber sold for 711,000 with all combined 694 lots. It appears mostly dang antique dealer bought it! I think if I would have had such a collection I would have donated it to the metal museum with the idea it always belongs to the Sorber family, so it could never be split up or sold off. I think Mr. Sober collection was to important to sell for money. I am still curious if any blacksmith organization got any? It was certainly Sorber's right to sell for cash. At 88 plus years old who needs the money...it was historically significant.
   burntforge - Sunday, 01/15/06 11:50:28 EST

A Wrought iron door escutcheon
Sold January 6-7, 2006 - $42,120

We need to raise our prices!! BOG

   burntforge - Sunday, 01/15/06 11:55:35 EST

Just did my first job, one of necessity. I gave 20 thin bars of steel little 7/8 in hooks. I heated the end to a cherry red to orange, then did the basic bend over the horn. Finished up over a 7/8in rod of steel. Hooks all did what htey intened to do, but they aren't that pretty, and aren't all the same. I won't do this everytime I finish some little project, I'm just getting my bearrings. So did I do all right? Keep in mind I'm not getting paid for this.
   newbie in NW ILL - Sunday, 01/15/06 15:34:27 EST

Check out these few items on ebay if you have not seen them.

10 lb Hay Budden #6244100651
25 lb Kohlswa #6243287553 end today 1/15/06

Iron City Leg Vise in excellent condition only up to 25.00 #6245098494
   burntforge - Sunday, 01/15/06 16:08:51 EST

I would like some help with the date of manufacture of what appears to be a old hudson hawk.I have pictures if anyone is interested.
   Kevin - Sunday, 01/15/06 16:30:28 EST

need tips on fabrication of a conveyor screw, small 4 to 6 inch dia. approx, 8 ft. long. thanks
   Doug - Sunday, 01/15/06 18:01:22 EST

need tips on fabrication of a conveyor screw, small 4 to 6 inch dia. approx, 8 ft. long. thanks
   Doug - Sunday, 01/15/06 18:15:29 EST

Oxygen lance: Most of what I know about these I have read. However, while excavating in a river a friend of mine used them to cut through several feet of granite bed-rock, some under water. They WILL cut through anything.

Primitive ones are simple black iron pipe, usualy 1/8 or 1/4". Comercial ones have a coating on the pipe like flux on a welding rod.

All the jobs I have seen them used for were unbelievably rough. You would not want to have to clean up after one with a grinder.

With a large tip a full size (Victor Journeyman) torch will cut up to 6" plate. It will use 1/10th the oxygen of a small lance. However, it requires a LOT of skill. There is a photo of a fellow in my welding book who is cutting 1" slabs off a 6" x 6" bar. . . Fairly smoothly. I have cut 2" with reasonable results by hand and 4" that was so-so. If it needs to be smooth I will setup a machine torch cutting operation on a lathe.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/15/06 20:11:50 EST

Conveyor Screw: These are loads of fun. They are normaly made in sections each one part of a circle split half way on one axis. Cut circles with slightly oversize center hole, then split. Heat and pull out into a helix. This is very tricky and I have only seen it done the hard way. They can be bent on a form so that they are all uniform. The form is made by cutting a series of triangles with the pitch angle and as long as the circumference of the diameter it fits. A series of these are welded to a plate creating a spiral ramp. There also needs to be a center pipe or bar for alignment. Heat the disks in a furnace or forge, drop them on the form and beat, twist, clamp, cuss and cajole until they fit.

After these are formed they are strung onto the conveyor shaft and welded into place then there is a lot of grinding. If the fit is critical then the whole is made slightly oversize and then machined in a lathe.

In the old grist mills they used wooden shafts with little rectangular paddles every so often along a screw spiral. This did the same job as a conveyor screw put was much easier to construct. However, there was some loss in eficiency and it was a design for light dry substances.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/15/06 20:23:03 EST

What is an oxygen lance?

   newbie in NW ILL - Sunday, 01/15/06 20:59:58 EST

Another exception commercial smithing density is Santa Fe NM and environs---there are more commercial smiths there than in Columbus OH which has about 10 times the population!

Kalen; I don't understand why it should matter what gender you are---there are a bunch of very talented smiths who happen to be women out there.

Being a certified weldor means that you have a better chance of keeping food on the table whild developing your smithing skills---also being hired into a smithy as it's a handy skill to have even if all you are using it for is tool and fixture construction.

I've always considered Vulcans to be a full step under Fishers as far as quality and usability but *much* better than a totally cast iron anvil shaped object!

Neither I or my wife use our first names; so we loaded up the kids to give them more choice; or last child got 4 names in front of the last name...

   Thomas Powers - Sunday, 01/15/06 21:41:15 EST

Doug: Can You scrounge the screw from something that is already built? I have a handfull of coal stoker screws, the ones I have are only about 2" diameter. They are stainless, I supose for wear resistance as well as corosion resistance in coal.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 01/15/06 22:52:01 EST

T. Gold-Ox Lance: Didn't someone on one of these blacksmithing sites say He used one to remove a stuck wedge in a powerhammer sometime in the past year ? Maybee it was across the street, but it has come up. I think He said He used 1/8 pipe and an arc welder [many lengths of pipe] You may check the archives.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 01/15/06 22:59:37 EST

ive just started to get interested in smithing and was wondering how a medevil sheild was made and what type of metals and markings were used on them
   Jesse Fulgium - Monday, 01/16/06 01:19:46 EST

AWS certification just means you passed a test administered by an American Welding Society certified welder. who himself may have passed his test years ago. It is not like getting your board certification in neurosurgery or your pilot's license. Go to another job and you'll have to pass another test, their test this time. But it does mean you passed somebody's test, which tells a prospective employer something.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 01/16/06 01:26:55 EST

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