WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

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 1 - 7, 2011 on the Guru's Den
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   - guru - Friday, 12/31/10 22:31:40 EST

Where can I buy one pound of 1/8" studite rod to hardface an old post hole auger. I am a fairly competant amateur welder but so far have not found anywhere that will sell me less than 10 pounds of the rod at 10$ a pound. I live in the Kansas City area and our farm is 6 mi N.E. of Baldwin Ks or 9 mi N.E. of Lawrence Ks.
   - Patrick Sullivant - Saturday, 01/01/11 12:08:06 EST

Patrick, Unless you have a local welding supplier that you regularly deal with that sells rods in broken packages then you are out of luck. Rods come in packages of 5, 10 and 50 pounds, the 5 pounds often being special broken quantity boxes only available from from a dealer. I used to do business with a big dealer that would sell things like Ni-Rod by the rod. . for $1 each. . . Common rods they would sell by the pound but usually with a minimum of 5 pounds. Pricey specialty rods were never sold in broken packages.

On welding depot they have hardfacing (no type brand or details) in 5 pound boxes.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/01/11 13:41:25 EST

I would find someone that does welding on earth moving equipment. They weld hardfacing rod on the teeth and would probably sell you a few rods. Usually an independent welder with a truck with portable welder and a O/A torch on the truck- not hard to spot.
   - ptpiddler - Saturday, 01/01/11 16:15:20 EST

Any suggestions for lighting in a blacksmith shop? Incandescent or flourescent? Dimmer switches? I have a 20 x 20 shop - hope to finish it in about a month. Will be wiring it soon, thinking about the lights.
   J.D. - Saturday, 01/01/11 18:09:41 EST

Anyone know where to find 1 1/8" hardy tools? My PW anvil has a 1 1/8" hardy and I'm not having much luck finding any. Just wondering if there was any out there or if I just need to make my own.
   J.D. - Saturday, 01/01/11 18:18:53 EST

HARDY TOOLS....in my looking, what is available is VERRY used. no one will give up useable out here. i started gathering stuff to make mine. anyone have a pile in the corner???
   - bam-bam - Saturday, 01/01/11 18:50:16 EST

hi guys, please please please tell me why in the world i can,t make a tight mortise and tenon joint joining the cheeks of a horse bit with the mouth piece. i first forge my cheeks, make a 1/4 inch hole, and drift to a square 5/32 inch. i then forge my mouthpiece, and using a course file, make my tenons approx. 3/8 inches long, and 5/32 diameter.. i leave good shoulders i think, but no matter how many times i heat the tenon and hammer it, i ALWAYS have some play left in the cheeks. i don't mean that they aren't safe, they just bump a little bit. should i use a center punch to peen the mortice around the tenon before heating and striking or what. i am about ready to scream on this one. should i make a smaller tenon and mortise, say 1/4 inch? is there a good way to make an electrical weld which can be hidden by the flattening of the tenon? set me straight on this one!!!
   greg tucker - Saturday, 01/01/11 20:37:47 EST

1-1/8" and larger Hardy Tools: All the old anvil manufacturers made their anvils proportional and hardy tools varied from 3/4" (occasionally smaller) all the way up to 1-3/4". However, for the last 40 years or so the majority of makers have used 1" hardy holes. Thus toolmakers now make only 1" shank tools.

One problem with hardy holes is that most are not straight, square or on size. If you really want shanked tools to fit your anvil you will need to make your own.

I have a considerable collection of bottom swages and various shanked tools that work fine for me no matter what the hole size is as long as its larger than the shank. The only tool I need to fit right is the hardy.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/01/11 21:34:58 EST


Frank Turley is probably a better person to answer your questions about horse tackle, but I'll offer a couple of things about tenons in general.

First off, are you monkeying the tenon shoulders before you attempt to set the joint? To get a really tight joint, I dress my monkey tool so that the end of it is very slightly convex. This results in shoulders that will meet the face of the mortise piece very tightly and pull in when the tenon is riveted down tight.

When setting a tenon or rivet, I try to make the fit of the tenon to the hole as close as possible and then the first blow or two to set the tenon are straight down and hard - this swells the tenon in the mortise, locking it up so that the remaining blows to upset the tenon end don't cause shifting which will inevitably loosen things back up.

Hope this of use to you.

P.S. That key on your keyboard labeled "Shift" allows you to make upper case letters to denote the start of sentences, something that makes your posts much easier for us old goobers to read.

   - Rich - Saturday, 01/01/11 21:45:34 EST

Fab. a sleeve for your 1 1/8" hardy hole or add an 1/8" on two sides of your hardy tools by cutting some 1/8" walled 1 1/8" tubing on the diagonal or weld some material on and grind to fit.
   S K Smith - Saturday, 01/01/11 21:54:30 EST

For a fixed jaw bit, it should be a square tenon snug fit into a square hole. You can make small, angled cold chisel intentations around the exterior side of the mortise. The peened tenon can sink into the marks; however, this is usually done on round tenons to keep them from ever turning. The square tenon is supposed to prevent turning.
Do you have access to a torch? The cannon (mouthpiece bar) can be clamped vertically in the vise, making sure you wrap it with sole leather or skirting leather to protect it from vise marks. The tenon will be upwards and the cheek piece mortise laid over it. A red heat on the tenon helps ease the peening and when you're finished, you get a shrink fit. If it winds up being cattywampus, you can give it more heat and fine-tune it. We sometimes finish the tenon with a set hammer to give it a sort of flattened pyramidal appearance.

If you don't have heat to direct on the tenon for hammering, try to heat the tenon to a bright cherry red and anneal by letting it cool slowly to room temp in dry lime, wood ashes, or vermiculite. This will soften it for cold peening. For cold peening, file/chamfer the corners of the tenon top to keep them from thinning too quickly and cracking.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 01/01/11 22:24:22 EST

Shop lighting:
Well JD, there are as many different opinions about how your shop should be lit as there are smiths.
So I'll give you my set up to think about as well.
I have about a 20X20 smithy with high ceilings.
I didn't build this shop and it didn't start out life as a blacksmith shop either but, I have made it into a good, serviceable smithy.
It has very good natural lighting from four opaque skylight roofing panels and two more large, opaque ground level windows that I open in warmer weather.
It also has a 7' X 12' sliding door that I open in good weather as well.
This is usually more than enough light on a sunny day but, I also have a strong flood light that is about 10 feet off the floor and shines down on my anvil from in front of me so I don't cast a shadow over it. This light I have on all the time to relieve the eye strain I experience from working without adequate light. I have another flood light like this over my belt grinder as well, for the same reason.
I use the same kind of out door flood lights that you would use around a house for the patio or, what ever.
I like them because they make a nice tight spot of light where I need it but, don't over power the shade I get from the hood over the forge.
At 150 or 200 watts they are bright enough to work by but, not so much that I can't see any color at all on the piece being worked.
I have really learned to judge the the work by the response to the hammer rather than just the color of the glowing metal anyway. This is also a good habit to develop if you want to be able to do a demo in the open air or some place that is not well shaded.
When in the fire I judge the material temp by comparing it to the surrounding coal embers wich are usually bright yellow to white. This can only be done with a pair of sun glasses on to cut the glare of the fire though.
I also have four 100 watt incandescent fixtures from about ten feet high but that is really not enough to work by in that large of a space even though the walls are painted white from the previouse occupant. I would rather have fluorescent lights but, because the shop is unheated I need the incandescent lights in the winter.
So I would go with as much good light as you can afford, especially if you want to be more than just the occasional hobby smith. I know if I could afford it I would look for some fluorescent fixtures that would work in the extreme cold (it's a balmy 14F with out the 20+mph wind chill here now)
I recommend for anyone whose eyes are getting a little tired, that you try a spot light on your anvil or any other work station for that matter. It made ALL the difference for me.
   - merl - Sunday, 01/02/11 01:42:00 EST

Good news on the Cinci mill ptree!
Late this past summer I acquired a 1917 Osterlien horizontal mill. Nothing fancy with just the plain table but, it has power feed on the X axis and a back geared spindle that has plane bearings in it like new due to them not having been used in probably 40-50 years.
This machine came from a very old shop that was originaly set up as a line shaft shop. There where two of these mills in the shop but, when they got rid of the line shaft and converted everything to have its own motor, they put a small vertical head on my mill and never used the horizontal spindle again.
Fortunately it has bronze bearings and after a bit of some Marvel Mystery Oil in the lube holes it washed out the old cruddy grease and freed the spindle right up.
Everything cleaned up nicely and all works but, the shifting fork for the table feed is missing (probably broken at some point) so, I'll have to make a new one.
I'm going to make a counter shaft to run the horizontal spindle from an electric motor. I don't know yet if the little vertical spindle is any good. It's pretty well rusted together and, will have to wait for the time being.
I really bought the machine for the horizontal spindle and the bigger work envelope anyway. Going to be needing it soon for another project. I need to come up with #9 B&S taper tool holders and gang tool arbor (or I'll have to make my own) so keep your eyes open a little during your travels. I'll send you some pics when I get it all back together.
   - merl - Sunday, 01/02/11 02:19:26 EST

Dave, that friction drive drill press might be a good candidate for a perminate drum sander mounted in the spindle.
   - merl - Sunday, 01/02/11 02:25:21 EST

Lighting: I too am a fan of good bright lighting. While many smiths like low light for judging heats the modern blacksmiths shop is more like a modern machine shop than a smithy. Many machines are used requiring accurate layout, arc welding helmets can be clearly seen through in good lighting, plans are read. . .

A combination of fluorescent and incandescent are good. Merl referred to low temperatures and fluorescent lighting but should have emphasized the problem more. Fluorescent lights do not work well in cold weather. Indoor fixtures have trouble even at 50°F. At freezing they are slow to start and flicker for long periods damaging the ballasts and bulbs. There are special low temperature ballasts for unheated areas. Note however that the new mogul based (screw in) fluorescent bulbs do not come in low temperature versions and react much worse to low temperatures greatly reducing their life as well as amount of light they produce.

Note that low temperature ballast fluorescent fixtures generally do not cost more than others. But once normal fixtures are installed the replacement low temperature ballasts will cost as much as the original fixtures and be as much trouble to install.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/02/11 02:46:06 EST

Low-temp fluorescents:

If you really want/need god lighting in a shop and don't have a high enough ceiling (16'+) to use high-bay HID's, I suggest you look into high-output (HO) fluorescents. The HO tubes and ballasts will cost a bit more but will light dependably at much lower temperatures than regular tubes will. These are what we used in sign fixtures in Colorado and Arizona that had to light well down to 0F. YOu can get them at most well-stocked electrical supplies, but not at the big-box stores.
   - Rich - Sunday, 01/02/11 07:45:49 EST

Merl, I will watch for #9 B&S spindle tooling, would you please look for #10 B&S as that is what mine uses. Mine was a line shaft machine and the bearings are all tight including the back gears. Mine was the first model horizontal mill anywhere to use gear table feeds, right off the original ptent. Unfortunatly, mine has a pair of bevel gears that are very oddly sized and have broken teeth so no feed right now. Mine has a counter shaft and physically huge but ony 1.5 Hp Dayton motor to run.
But, it makes chips, and once I take the table off and adjust the lead screw nut, and find some sharp tooling it will be pretty handy.

I have a mixture of the 4' shop lights and the compact flourscents in my shop. The 4's have problems with the cold and don't last, so I have been replacing with the regular compact flourscents. The start a little dim and a little blue, but even at 4F that get to full output in maybe 2 minutes and don't flicker at all, unlike the 4' cheapies. I am using aluminum clamp on reflectors to for task lighting, and old white porclien metal reflectors for mre difuse lighting. I have converted almost all of my outdoor spot/floods to compact flourscent equivelents and they are all on motion detectors and work fine. Once on they come to full output in about 20 seconds.

I have a dawn to dusk lamp at the woodshed and parking area that was a 15 watt incandescent. I would get maybe 6 months from the lamp, but the regulars 11 watt CFL has been giving about 3 years plus in that application, and I get a more light. I have also been putting CFL's in my paddle fan light fixtures indoors and they outlast the incandescents about 10 to 15 to one, as they seem to be vibration resistant.
   ptree - Sunday, 01/02/11 09:28:22 EST

Thank you to both who responded, and sorry about the lower case letters!!! You'd think that as a school teacher I'd do a better job with that. I do have a torch that I use, but I believe I just haven't had the fit close enough yet between the mortise and tenon. It really takes a lot of patience to sneak up on it without removing too much material accidentally. I am also making a monkey tool presently that will work with the square tenons. I'll let you know how it goes.
Thank you again,
   greg tucker - Sunday, 01/02/11 10:51:45 EST

Re: use of the shift key

Give me a break I sat next to you in Mrs Major's remedial English Class. I know from where you came. BOG.
   habu68 - Sunday, 01/02/11 12:41:01 EST

Re: Atlas lathe
I have a 10x36 Atlas lathe that came with a lot of gears for thread cutting. But there is one gear I have no idea what it can be used for. In fact it is like 2 gears mounted back to back. The smallest is 1 3/8 inches diameter
with teeth facing outwards mounted on the back of a 4 1/2
inches with teeth on the side. The bore has no keyway.
Does anyone know the purpose of that gear?
Thank you.
   donald - Sunday, 01/02/11 14:24:23 EST

Shop Lighting.
The general lighting in my shop is rather poor so I make use of a lot of task lighting. You can find those folding desk lamps for a buck or so at garage sales that are missing the clamp on base and it`s easy to drill a hole in short chunk wood and clamp/screw it where needed. In winter I use a clear heatlamp for lighting the bench grinder.
   JimG - Sunday, 01/02/11 15:35:32 EST

Hi guys, I wanted to check in again on this mortise and tenon thing on horse bits. Is there a rule of thumb as to how long the tenon should be relative to its diameter? I am thinking that my joints might be loose because the tenon mushrooms before it upsets in the mortise. Maybe there is just too much material to compress with hammer blows. I have been looking at photos of old hand forged civil war bits, and they have very little flattened material to show. I have a good bit more left over. I wonder if less is more in this case. Please advise, greg
   greg tucker - Sunday, 01/02/11 19:59:38 EST

The new T5 (5/8" diameter) and T8 (1" diameter) flourescent lights are so much better than the old 1960's models its like night and day.
New T5's with electronic ballasts light right up in cold weather, use less energy than old ones, and last a long time. Various colors of bulb are available, depending on preference.
I have the T8's in my new fab shop, and they are so bright, and always light up right away, never flicker, and the bulbs have lasted years so far- I recommend them highly.
They are only available in 4' lengths, and usually need to be bought at real electrical supply stores, not big box stores, but are really worth using.

I also have a couple of HID high bay lights in my shop, Halide, not sodium, but just for fill light.

For task lighting, I buy the 500 watt quartz lights from the big box store- they are rectangular aluminum fixtures about 6" x 12", then I build big versions of the adjustable swing arm drafting lamp- mine are made from 1/2" conduit, and are ceiling mounted, with about 8 feet of reach, in a two piece arm.
They swivel where you want, and stay put because they have big springs on em- so you can pull em down or swing em up and out of the way. I built 4 arms all at once, cut some parts from sheet metal and the rest is conduit, and they are really great.
The 500watt quartz bulbs last about a year of every day use, and cost something like 3 bucks each- and put out a lot of light.

   - Ries - Sunday, 01/02/11 20:22:22 EST

Merl, Friction drive drill:
It would have to be a really large drum sander, as this is not a machine that can run at high speeds due to the open bevel gears at the top of the spindle, and low speed bearings on the drive shaft. It is mostly an example of a neet idea that just wasn't so good.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 01/02/11 22:23:55 EST

Compound Gear: Donald, That is one of the many change gears and is called a "compound" gear. It may replace a pair of gears that fit on a keyed bushing that rotates on a shaft. You cannot get speed reduction without a compound gear or two different size gears on a single shaft. Compound gears are used in several places in the feed system. The gears produce both thread chasing speeds (fairly fast) and feed per revolution (very slow).

Your lathe should have a gear chart in the gear cover. It is also in the lathe manual. My Sears/Atlas manual has charts for the 12" lathe and the 6" but not the 10".

If you clean the gear and look at it closely the number of teeth will be on it somewhere. SOme for the rest of the gears.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/02/11 22:48:02 EST

I know nothing about lighting, but halogen lights should solve a lighting problem. I always get mad as hades when I meet a car with those halogen lights installed, it is blinding.
   Mike T. - Monday, 01/03/11 00:48:21 EST

Hi Guru

I wonder if there is any reference that I can use to 'identify' which type of steel that I have, based on spectrometry that I have done.

So far, I can only identify 5160 and 9260 from the samples I tested. There is a sample that I cant identify.

I can send you the image file of my result if you want to have a look.

   - fatbamboo - Monday, 01/03/11 02:13:55 EST

Greg Tucker,

For tenons or rivets where I want to develop a visible head, I generally want the protruding length to be 1-1/2 times the diameter of the tenon. In cases where I only want the minimum amount necessary to keep the joint tight, I usually chamfer the opening of the mortise slightly and use just enough tenon protrusion to slightly overfill the chamfer. This is based, of course, on the tenon fitting the mortise closely - if there is any real slop in that fit then more tenon is needed to fill the gap on the first upset blows. After peening the tenon end to completely fill the chamfer and tighten the joint, any excess can be dressed off with a file or grinder, leaving an "invisible" joint. Note that this type of joint may very well NOT be sufficiently strong for something subjected to wracking stress like a horse bit. I'd want enough extra metal outside such a joint to tighten it later if it loosened.

   - Rich - Monday, 01/03/11 07:51:48 EST

Spectrometry: If you are talking about the color image I could not be of any help. You need a report with percentages of elements to determine an alloy. THEN you need a good reference such as the ASM Metals Reference Book and the patience to go through all the listings for the alloy category. Small difference in percentages make a big difference in the alloy.

I suspect there are folks out there with materials databases that can punch in the elements and get a list of close matches. But while this seems logical, and is possible, it is one of those things you see on television crime shows all the time that is probably science fiction. . .
   - guru - Monday, 01/03/11 10:49:16 EST

Less is more, but you do want a visible upset to be showing. Not to forget the chamfered ends before peening, if you're working cold.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 01/03/11 11:22:25 EST

Air compressor oil. How much damage is it going to do to use 10w-30 motor oil in a aircompressor?
The compressor is an old single head belt driven of no known name. What happened was the line from the compressor to the tank froze and the compressor ran for awhile without being able to get rid of the air anywhere except through the crank case and blew the oil out. The store is closed today (due to NYD falling on Sat) and I really don't feel like driving 45 miles (one way) to the next place that might be open.
   JimG - Monday, 01/03/11 11:39:29 EST

Jim, The oil type in piston type compressors used for non-breathing air is not critical. I've used 10W40 and some STP as well. I had a NEW Sears compressor with a knock and I replaced the oil with Phillips 10W40 and a ounce of STP and the knock went away. . . The oil was never looked at again and the compressor runs fine some 40 years later. . . It ran every couple hours due to a small leak for about 5 years. . . Now it is only run as needed.
   - guru - Monday, 01/03/11 12:24:51 EST

   JimG - Monday, 01/03/11 12:40:01 EST

Chucks: several years ago just before Father's Day I mentioned to my family that I needed a new drill as my old one was wearing the bearings out. I requested a 3/8" VSR with a keyed chuck and a power cord, not too expensive but easy to find so I thought. (I know to issue very specific request for tools bought to me by others!)

What showed up was a keyless chuck, battery powered version and my wife got upset when I told her it wouldn't work for me as I needed a keyed chuck for drilling in metal and much preferred to deal with a cord than the weight of batteries and general lack of oomph of such units.

It went back and I was told I had to buy my own; well I nursed my old drill along until I found a 1/2" Milwaukee at the fleamarket in good condition just recently and *finally* got my Father's Day gift a couple of years late!

Lighting: SKYLIGHTS! I mean old mother nature is *giving* away light for *free*!

My shop is built in two 20x30' sections with a metal roof: I had fiberglass pieces put in the "back" half of each section on both sides of the roof. With the 10'x10' roll up doors this generally provides adequate light for most daytime tasks.

I also have a portable jobsite Halogen floodlight on a telescoping stand for specific tasks that need the extra light---or I can turn them up and bounce them off the white ceiling for night time duty.

I have 8' fluorescent sections to be installed in pairs with the switching: outer near the walls and inner near the peak for the "clean" shop now that the dirty shop is almost enclosed.

   Thomas P - Monday, 01/03/11 14:42:56 EST

Thank you Guru for your answer. My Atlas lathe has his gear chart in the cover as you mentionned. I cut thread both in inches and metric. All the gears have the same form and can drive each other. They all must be mounted on paralle shafts. On the "mystery gear", the small gear is like all the others and must be mounted on a paralle shaft too, but the tall gear to his back has teeth completely different and must drive another gear monted on a shaft at an angle: probably 90 degrees. All the gears have some wear but the "mystery gear" is still brand new!!! The previous owners neer used it. I am still puzzeled. Of course, all this is simply curiosity: the lathe is working fine anyway.
   donald - Monday, 01/03/11 21:23:24 EST

Donald, That sounds like it may be a replacement gear for something in the apron if it has power cross feed. Otherwise it may just be an odd gear that the previous owner picked up.
   - guru - Monday, 01/03/11 21:58:01 EST

Donald, I have an Atlas 12x24 lathe.
How do you reverse the lead screw on your lathe?
My lathe has a set of two gears on a carrier with two separate stub shafts. These two gears are always meshed together and, depending on wich one is the input gear in contact with the rest of the train, the screw either runs forward or reverse.
Another style of direction changer is one that has two bevel gears and two pinion gears that change direction by one or the other pinion in mesh with the bevel gear on the screw.
Is it posible that you have the input side of that forward/reverse gear box?
Your lathe may not have that kind of direction changer but, maybe the previous owner orderd this part by mistake and it was never used. Then it was kept with the machine until no one rememberd what it was for?
That is just a stab in the dark.
I have a factory manual and I don't see anything like what you describe in it anywere.
As you say, if the lathe works fine with out it then, good enough.
   - merl - Monday, 01/03/11 22:42:44 EST

Lighting: I was always amused by scholars wondering how the monks could produce such intricate works of art as the Book of Kells in their “dim, smoky cells.”

Hmmm, how about sunlight?

Theophilus instructs you to build south facing windows for the scriptorium and various workshops; and at the very least, you can cart your desk out into the sunlight on good days. Having devoted themselves to God and eternity, I don’t see them working to short deadlines to accomplish their wondrous works.

In the new shop, having an abundance of quad outlets, I have a number of gooseneck lamps available near the vises, drill presses, grinders, &c. But, on a nice sunny day, there’s nothing like opening all the windows and hatches, or even taking a light bench, vise and files or chisels out into the workyard and working under God’s own good sunlight.

Mostly cloudy and cold on the banks of the Potomac. Not working on the Book of Kells today. ;-)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 01/04/11 09:43:00 EST

I was priveledged to see the Book of Kells about 10 years ago. As a typical tourist, I stood in line and finally made my way into a darkened room on the Trinity College campus, Dublin. The unprotected book, nowadays, would suffer from excess light and extreme fluctuations in moisture. The pages of vellum are exhibited under glass.

As Bruce points out, the exquisite depictions and calligraphy must have been done in good light, even though presently exhibited in semi darkness.

My shop began as pretty dark, but now I have a couple of local, movable lights. I have one permanent light at the drill press with an inline switch.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 01/04/11 11:08:57 EST

Shop lighting:

I'm a big advocate of LOTS of light in a shop. Hey, you can always turn it down or turn it off, right? But if it isn't installed you won't have it when you want/need it. For that reason my two shop rooms, each approximately 25' square, have six (6) 2-tube, 8' fluorescent fixtures and I replace the tubes yearly as they dim with age. I have them switched so that I can light various areas as needed. I also have a homemade articulated arm 300-watt halogen task light by the mill and lathe, and may add another at the main welding bench.

Good lighting promotes good vision, something increasingly important to me as I age and my eyes weaken. The brighter the light (within reason), the more the pupil constricts - and just like a camera aperture, the smaller the aperture, the greater the depth of field. Thus I can do more accurate work. Also, as Jock has pointed out numerous times, bright light at the welding bench allows you to see even with the hood down, which certainly makes welding easier and more comfortable.

I use smaller task lights on some of the individual tools like the grinders and saws, and for these I generally cobble together my own creations using small but bright fluorescent lighting from Philips.

Ideally I would have skylights and/or light pipes in the roof, but I haven't found any I can afford that will withstand a hurricane, something I have to keep in mind. I do have lots of windows that I keep open both for light and ventilation.

The newer fluorescent tubes and solid-state ballasts have dramatically improved fluorescent lighting. Virtually no flicker, less power consumption, more light and better color spectrum. Well worth looking into if you're in the market for shop lighting. For task lighting, there area now some LED lights that use almost no electricity but they're still a mite pricey. Hopefully that will change as more people adopt them.
   - Rich - Tuesday, 01/04/11 11:44:29 EST

Rich, you bring up a good point about the type of light used.
As I mentioned above, I also need lots of light in the shop mainly due to aging eyes ( geez, I can hardly wait until I actually do get old )
I find that these new LED fixtures are the wrong color for me.
Much like the blue colored head lights you now see everywhere, the LED light clusters just don't seem to work for me. When halogen headlights first came out everyone complained they were too bright. The industry countered by pointing out that it wasn't that they were too bright but, that they are a whiter light and so looked brighter.
They said the same thing when they came out with the "blue" headlights.
I have not done a comparison of the actual lumens or candle power of the different type of lights but, I know that the LED flashlights will give me a migraine headache in a hurry and, they don't seem to really give out more light so I'm guessing it's the spectrum that gets me.
I do like the Phillips mini twist fluorescent bulbs.
They can be had in several different wattages and operating spectrums. We get the ones that give a light the color of a typical 100w incandescent and they put out as much light for only 24w. I use them all over the house but, admit to still haveing incandescents in certain places that only need the light on for less than the 30-45 seconds it takes them to get to full brightness.
I have twin bulb 4' flourescents over each machine and the bench areas in my basement shop. The lights are in zones but I usualy have them all on when I'm working down there.
One other thing I due for the lights in the basement shop is to put protective covers over the tubes.
You can buy clear platic outer tubes with end caps that allow the contacts to stick out but keep the tube contained if it should break. This also keeps any flying metal chips from hiting the bulbs as well.
I'm thinking about changing the basement shop lights to the Philips mini twist instead of the tubes but, then I would have to install screw in fixtures and run more wire.
Probably as the 4' fixtures ware out I will replace them with the screw in ones.
You mention that the LED fixtures are too pricey.
At the shop where I work we make a light fixture for one of our customers for a sanitary industrial application.
It is machined from a solid piece of 317 stainless and holds 37 daylight corrected LEDs in the space of a small desk lamp.
$ 3500. each.
We should probably get more for them 'cause that 317 is hell to work with but, we usualy make two a month.

   - merl - Tuesday, 01/04/11 13:49:32 EST

LED Lights: Except for their odd diffusion (which may make them a vision problem in some cases) their dependability is fantastic. Years ago I would carry a heavy duty flashlight in my truck. But I NEVER EVER got a chance to use them as they were always "dead" usually as a result of vibration breaking the unused bulb elements, or connection problems due to corrosion or wear on the lead center contact, also a vibration problem. Even quite expensive flashlights were worthless in a few months of riding in the truck tool chest.

In comparison I have a small LED flashlight that I have been carrying in my luggage or computer bag for eight years. It has been used a great deal and always works. The original batteries are still in it and working (I probably should replace them to avoid age/corrosion problems).

LED lights have become favorites with truckers for marker and tail lights due to their durability on truck bodies.

My experience with compact fluorescent has been miserable. Perhaps they have improved but when you pay $18 for ONE 60W bulb that is supposed to produce the same light as a 100W incandescent and only produces the same or less than its 60W rating, produces even less when below 60°F and has a dismally short life. . . you get a very bad taste the "improved" technology. . . I bought roughly a dozen in different brands and they all lasted no longer than incandescents while producing less light. Some even failed sitting on the shelf. I could have bought a 10 year supply of incandescents for what I paid for bulbs that lasted less than a year.

I might try them again But they will need a broad warranty. The fact that they are made by the same people that make short life incandescent bulbs that for less than a penny more could last years rather than months makes me suspect of any product they manufacturer.

On the other hand, LED's being a solid state device have little to go wrong other than the DC power supply or internal connections. But I am sure the big manufacturers will find ways to shorten their life. Their engineers would not be worth their space if they couldn't design a limited life span into them. But on the other hand, the technology is such that small manufacturers could compete with a better product.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/04/11 14:44:15 EST

I just purchased a 116 pound Peter Wright anvil and after cleaning it up I found two anchors stamped into the front of the base one on each side I am wondering what these stamps mean. I do know that the anvil was made between 1860 and 1910, thank you for your time. Steve
   steve orchard - Tuesday, 01/04/11 15:56:52 EST

Does anyone out there know what type of metal that railroad car coil springs are made of? The spring I have is a 10" h. x 5 1/2" dia. coil and the steel is 1" dia.

I am guessing it is tool steel like car and truck springs, but which type?
   Butch - Tuesday, 01/04/11 16:06:04 EST

I generally don't call the alloys used for automotive springs "tool steel" myself.

Unfortunately I don't have that one in my RR steel list; but would love to add it!

I have a lage coil spring from a piece of earth moving equipment, about 1.25" diameter stock, that's waiting for the powerhammer.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 01/04/11 16:18:16 EST

Would you be willing to share your "RR steel list"?

   Butch - Tuesday, 01/04/11 17:13:29 EST

Guru, I don't know what could be wrong with the mini fluorescent bulbs you're using. I don't mean to be a smart alack but, are you sure the outlets that these lights where plugged into are wired correctly?
I know we had a couple of outlets in our kitchen that had the black and white wires backwards. Even though they still worked one of them fried a new microwave oven in about a year.
I have one of the 24w lights I mentioned above in a light that stays on 24/7. It's going on 2 years of continuous service and is easily equal to the 100w incandesent it replaced.
   - merl - Tuesday, 01/04/11 17:26:18 EST

I find the newer CFs come on much faster, too. It still takes a minute or two to get full intensity, but you get about 50% instantly. I find that much more acceptable that the old 1-2 second wait while you wondered if anything was going to happen.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 01/04/11 19:50:48 EST

Guru, I have to second Merl's question. I have CFL's all through the shop and house indoors and out and have had fantastic service. I use them in the ceiling fan fixtures as they outlast the incandescent in this vibration service by a huge margin.
I have even bought some that are 200W equiv and they seem to me to be a full 200W equiv.
   ptree - Tuesday, 01/04/11 19:53:30 EST

I buy the cheapest CFL's that the supermarket sells in a pack of eight for twenty bucks or so and have them in every fixture - lamps, ceiling fans, porch fixtures, etc. All ae over three years in service and all but one floodlight come on almost instantly at 90% brilliance. I won't use anything else. We pay about 50 cents a kilowatt hour for electricity so the savings over incandescents is huge.

If you've had that bad of luck with them Jock, something must be wrong. The current crop I'm using seem to be GE brand.
   - Rich - Tuesday, 01/04/11 22:55:51 EST

Nope, all our wiring had been redone and I did it. I also lecture on the difference between neutrals and grounds as well as hot vs. neutral. We also had extra panel based GFI circuits for extra safety. Voltage had often been checked as part of the rewire. Due to the loads, distance to the transformer and the the mains we had exactly nominal voltage (115V). Many folks have too high a voltage which will destroy the common light bulb in short order.

Our main shop had 125V and would EAT standard bulbs. We bought special rough service 130V bulbs and they lasted for years as apposed to months (YES, the manufacturers CAN make bulbs that last years, they chose NOT to . . ).
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/04/11 22:57:10 EST

Do you know of "threading dies" that will cut "lag" screw type threads? I would like to make eye hooks etc. and have not seen lag type threading dies! Thank you...
   marc - Wednesday, 01/05/11 01:44:10 EST

I managed to score a sheet of free mystery stainless steel (left behind when another tenant at my shop building left), right about the time I've begun thinking about doing some cookware from stainless. I know I've heard that some stainless has to be precisely thermal cycled after forging or it's not stainless anymore. That doesn't concern me so much (I'd prefer it to remain stainless, but it's less of a concern) as just wondering if there are any stainless alloys out there that would produce anything toxic when heated that you wouldn't want on cookware. Anyone ever heard of hot forged stainless making any kind of toxic residues?
   - Stormcrow - Wednesday, 01/05/11 02:23:21 EST

Stormcrow, There are some concerns about chrome when stainless is overheated in the forge or welded but this is true of all alloys. Some old machinable grades (of any steel) may contain lead and thus lead leaching is an issue. Sheet stock is usually 304 and not leaded.

Stainless remains stainless without the heat treat but has the "maximum" corrosion resistance when annealed. For common stainless the anneal is to heat and quench.

Mill scale should be polished off the cooking surfaces and passivization with acid removes iron from the surface thus reducing tendencies to discolor or stain but this is not always done.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/05/11 08:40:04 EST

I use the CFL's all over my house in the attempt to save money on the electric bill. Works in theory, but the second I strike an arc the whole savings goes kablooey!

On light bulbs being manufactured to last short on purpose, same thing with many items we use. Check into the sheer stocking scam. They are actually designed to pull and run as easily as possible. I wonder what else we are constantly replacing for no reason (other than to line the pockets of the big wigs).
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 01/05/11 09:50:53 EST

while free machining brass and steel have lead in them, as far as I know, there are no commonly available stainless alloys with lead.
When the letter "L" is added to a steel or brass designation, it means lead.
But when it is added to a stainless designation, as in 304L, it means lower carbon, NOT lead.

If there is a stainless alloy with Lead in it, it would be a very rare and expensive special order alloy, but I dont think any even exist.

Most likely, your found stainless is 304. And as long as you dont burn it, it will be fine. And its mighty hard to burn stainless with the average forge. I sometimes leave stainless at yellow heat for long times in the forge, while running big batches, and it still polishes out just fine.
   - ries - Wednesday, 01/05/11 12:41:30 EST

I think Reis has the corret answer to the stainless question.
It is my understanding that hexavalent chrome can be generated when welding Stainless, but it takes the very temps generated in an arc weld to excite the chrome enough to cause it to change valance.

I know of no leaded alloys of SS. At the valve shop we used thousands of tons of 300 and 400 series stainless, and forged hundreds of tons in 316 and later 316L. No issues of chrome release in the forging process.
   ptree - Wednesday, 01/05/11 13:41:30 EST

CFL bulbs. Are there any made in the USA, or all of them made in China? I live in Calif. on the left coast, and the state is in the process of outlawing incandescent bulbs, starting with the 100 watts, which I have stocked up on.
   Carver Jake - Wednesday, 01/05/11 13:43:10 EST

Butch; e-mail to you.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 01/05/11 13:43:30 EST

Lag and Wood Screw Threading: Marc, The best I can determined these are both machined threads on a screw machine OR possibly rolled. Rolled threads are made between two parallel plates with threads cut into them that move in opposite directions. They only need to move a short distance.

A blacksmith made wood screw can be made from square stock and twisted OR you can get fancy and make a die with a place to forge an acute tear drop shape which when twisted will look and work just like a commercial wood screw. If you grind the point of the back side (away from the thread) to make a point you can twist it right down to the point using scroll tongs.

Another way to do it hot is with a thread forging die that you rotate and pull the work through. It can be done this way by hand but is not highly recommended. This works best with large "power" type square or acme screws.

The two best ways to make hooks with screws is to either buy extra long bolts and rework them or to weld the hook to a bolt. I've arc welded and forge welded lag bolts to various hooks including some that blended right into the shank and looked to be one piece. Its not much more time consuming than it would be to thread the part.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/05/11 14:12:22 EST

Lag screw threads.
Rolled these can also be done with a complex thread rolling head in a screw machine,(These Fette type heads ran $2500 +1500 for the rolls about 20 years ago) cut they can be done in an expanding thread chaser, think pipe threader style like on the regular type head used to thread pipe that can be swung open when the thread is complete.
I suspect that they could also be "whriled" and profiled in a screw machine as well.
All of the above would be far too costly for the average smith with the possible exception of the pipe threader with special chasers.
   ptree - Wednesday, 01/05/11 15:09:59 EST

Lag screw threads:

I've seen some old ones that I would swear were closed die forgings, though they may well have been cast. I think with care you could make a clapper die that would do the job. I may have to try it just for fun.
   - Rich - Wednesday, 01/05/11 16:53:35 EST

Dear Guru,

Tell me, how can I forge a small (finger-nail size) steel skull from square or round barstock.

Is there a good way to do that?

I need to make a pin for a fibula (omega shaped ancient brooche) with the skull on the end of the pin.

   Duco - Wednesday, 01/05/11 17:22:31 EST

Duco, Elves ? . . . .

Making such sculpture very small is the same as making it on a moderately larger scale (say up to 1" (25mm)). To make the eye sockets and holes, nasal passages and other features it helps to make punches the correct shape. These in themselves are small pieces of sculpture. These are made by working hot and cold. The size is generally forged to size, then ground and filed to shape. Then the punch is carefully hardened. I've made eye punches with ends no bigger than about 1/8" for larger work, thin prick punches for nostrils and ears. Special very small chisels like gravers would be used for the mouth, teeth and other little details. Material varies from old punches to pieces of HSS and coil spring.

The general scull shape would be hand forged and hot rasped (using an old coarse file). Then using a very small controlled forge fire or torch the part would be heated and punched while cradled in a small groove in a swage block or purpose made tool. If you have made good punches they may work in cold annealed steel. Then lots of little files. . .

You could also use a Dremel tool for some of the work.

If you want to make more than one of these then you carefully carve the scull in the end of a piece of tool steel, polish and harden it. THEN you sink that into another piece of hot tool steel to make a negative punch or die. That in turn is used to make multiple parts.


A little story.

Many years ago I was asked to make a set of andirons for a doll house. The lady that wanted them said she knew they would cost as much as the full size thing. . . They had to be about 1-1/4" (32mm) tall. I started with a little short piece of 1/4" (6.4mm) bar stock and made the tiniest little goose neck andiron you ever saw. Then I measured it. . . . it was 2" tall. . . WAY too big. SO, I started with a shorter piece of 3/16" (5 mm) bar stock. . . Second time was a charm. They weren't part of the order but I made a pair of tools to go with them. Forges the poker and shovel handle from 1/16" welding rod. Squared it, twisted it. . . Welding a the little handle onto a piece of bean can shovel bucket was the real trick.

Small can be very challenging.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/05/11 18:42:36 EST

A quick search through Machinery's calls them a " Type AB Self Threading Screw" with a sub reference of "Spaced Thread Screw"
An example would be a 5/16 lag screw would have a 12 pitch thread turned on it but, a single point tool to produce this thread form would not come to a point.
It would have to have a "wiper" ground on the end and a tool width of a little less than the finished thread width to clean out the "space" in between the threads.
It would be interesting to know just how lag screws are made because most of them look like they are roll formed (and not a very good job of it either)
Some look like they have been turned or cut with a die but, I wonder how the point of the screw would be made with a threading die with out twisting the body in half as the die bottoms out on the point.
I suppose a break away tool holder or some thing on that order.
If the threads are cut by a single point tool (ooy! hundreds of thousands of single point threads per year...)
you would have the problem of extreme tool push off at the point. Even with a follow rest this would be tough.
I can see when looking at the typical lag screw, that the shank is forged to size and the threads are cut on after.
If someone wanted me to cut threads on 100K+ lag bolts per year I would build a machine that chucked on the head ( and shank if possible) and the spindle headstock was guided by a lead screw with the required pitch.
The tool holder would be on a cam to move in the X axis but not the Z. It would only have to move enough to make the point conture.
The shank of the screw would be held against tool push off by a fixed rest that made contact with it befor the thread.
Obviously it could be set up either as a mechanical or cnc automatic machine to cut the tread in one pass.
   - merl - Wednesday, 01/05/11 19:04:05 EST

Merl, I suspect they are roll formed on special dies that curve up to the point. maybe. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/05/11 20:09:47 EST

A light bulb might cost $ .25 and use $5 or $10 in electricity over its life. 130V bulbs make something like 25% less light for a give wattage. If you can live with the lower light level, you're probably save more by dropping to a lower wattage standard bulb and just replacing it more often. Of course, it's different if the bulb's operating above 120V, in rough service, or inaccessible to change.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 01/05/11 20:14:11 EST

SAYMAK Power Hammers:

I read that someone took over the power hammer portion of Tom Clark's business. If this is true could someone please help me out with the contact information. I would like to get another set of hammer dies.

Thank you

   ChrisB - Wednesday, 01/05/11 20:21:02 EST

found it
   ChrisB - Wednesday, 01/05/11 20:40:37 EST

CFL bulbs:
I tried dirt cheap ones from a flea market, they were unuseable. Tried a $17/each one, better, but did not produce the usefull light of a regular filament bulb.

Rough service bulbs:
They last longer in part because the support the filament better, so thay can take the bumps better. They also burn cooler, and don't put out as bright a lite. I have a mix of houshold 100 watt cool white & 100 watt rough service bulbs in the shop fixtures, and You can easily tell which are which.

Lag bolt threads:
I looked at a bunch of screw eyes [lag bolts are in the other shop] and I believe the threads were rolled on all of them.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 01/05/11 20:43:56 EST

In larger sizes, lags generally don't even have threads on the point. On custom lags we would just single point them and grind the end to a point. They usually drill a 1/2" hole for a 3/4" lag, so the point doesn't do much anyway. Start them with a hammer and screw them in.

If you're going to make millions of them, gear up. Otherwise do what works.
   - grant - nakedanvil - Wednesday, 01/05/11 20:44:19 EST

Also wouldn't be hard to do pointed lags on a CNC either.
   - grant - nakedanvil - Wednesday, 01/05/11 20:46:00 EST

I have always wondered what the initials....ACME stand for.
Of course Wiley coyote used these products, but I know it really stands for something.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 01/05/11 22:27:52 EST

Think it was greek or latin for the highest point. Some people say "A Company Manufacturing Everything".
   - Grant - Wednesday, 01/05/11 22:41:40 EST

Acme is an old word for "the top" or the highest level or degree attainable, OR "the best".
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/05/11 22:44:16 EST

i was wonderin where the best/cheapest coal could be ordered in maybe 2 50/40 pound bags

   - purv - Wednesday, 01/05/11 22:52:26 EST

   - purv - Wednesday, 01/05/11 22:56:43 EST

just built a brake drum force w/an old champion 400 hand blower. im not areal smith but ive been a welder for a long time . dont know much yet.
   - purv - Wednesday, 01/05/11 23:02:38 EST

Yes, a quick look through the bolt bin came up with a handful of different lag bolts, eye bolts and a screw in gate hinge. All of them except for one are clearly a roll form thread. The one odd lag bolt shows that it was cut with a solid die (not a Geometric type die head) it's 1/2" by 2" of thread and if I look carefully I can see it is an old style Type "A" thread that is no longer used. (pg. 1456 Machinery's 24th edition)
I have a newer lag the same size that is the Type "AB" thread (same page) and is clearly a rolled thread.
Both are threaded right to the point.
It also looks like the point was formed before the thread was rolled on it.
I guess if I wanted to make some custom lag screws I would turn the point and single point a fast thread on them. Then the hook or eye on the other end.
As Grant points out you would drill a pilot hole about the size of the minor diameter and wrench it in from there.
If you're thinking about modifying an existing off the shelf screw keep in mind that breathing the zinc plating fumes will not be good for you and the cadmium fumes will kill you.
   - merl - Wednesday, 01/05/11 23:29:07 EST

purv, this is not an online chat room. You gotta give who ever might be hangin around a chance to answer back to you.
   - merl - Wednesday, 01/05/11 23:32:16 EST

Costs of Bulbs and Power use: IF you have any significant sized facility with bulbs that are hard to get to the loss in productivity and labor to replace bulbs is far in excess of any savings in short life bulbs. Even 10 or 15 minutes time to find the bulb, drag out a ladder, make room for the ladder, climb the ladder, replace the bulb and put the ladder away. . . then go back to your interrupted work can pay for a lot of electricity.

Our shop had dozens of incandescent bulbs. They were always bulbs out and dark places in the shop (an inconvenience) and replacing bulbs was a weekly task (due to the high voltage) was a constant task. A case of 130V bulbs increased the time between failures to a year instead of weeks. The bulbs cost only about 50% more than regular bulbs so if they only lasted twice as long they would have been cheaper. Lasting six to a dozen times longer pays for a lot of electricity, cutting the labor that much pays for decades of power. . .

I haven't shopped for the new bulbs since my disastrous experience with them. But when one bulb costs 15 times more than another it had better have a VERY VERY long life. Those I purchased did not out perform standard bulbs in any way. If the bulb does not have a true long life then there is no cost savings.

If you look at the reviews of the compact fluorescents AND the manufacturers performance graphs you will find that many of the top rated bulbs do not meet their "lighting equivalent" and drop off to about 85% one third into their life then to 80% for the second half of their life. High AND low temperatures drop their light output to as little as 30% of their rated output. Installation direction (up or down) which are not a choice in most applications can also reduce their output. Cost savings are based on equivalent ratings under the best conditions which are not met when new and rapidly drop off. The sum of the issues when everything is as expected can result in getting less than half the claimed light (which was MY experience).

SO, you have a bulb that is supposed to save you 50% in energy costs but eats half that savings in the purchase price, THEN doesn't perform. . SO if you have to install TWO of these high priced bulbs in order to SEE then there is no cost savings. . .

So we have laws forcing the use of a product that has been and is still being sold based on a lot of lies and sales hype.

When the overblown claims go away and the price drops to a point where there might be real cost savings I might try them again.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/06/11 00:47:55 EST

A friend is giving me an axle from his dwarf car. They are about 1"1/2 thick. I was wonder what type of steel these would be and what they might be use for?Could they be used for punches, drifts, chisels, etc.
   Dave - Thursday, 01/06/11 02:22:03 EST

Thanks Guru,

I will try several techniques and report back.

Elves??? none whatsoever...
I was inspired by the skull motives used in the "Warhammer 40k" games.

Thanks for the tips and great dollhouse story.
   Duco - Thursday, 01/06/11 03:46:06 EST

CFL's -

Look around Jock, the cost has already dropped and the bulbs outlast incandescents about five or ten to one. They're pretty much all imported so shopping by price has worked well for me the past five years. I looked around the house and shop both and noted that I have a mix of GE and Sylvania CFL's and they're all meeting my standards for light output - I like LOTS of light and they're delivering.

   - Rich - Thursday, 01/06/11 08:45:24 EST

CFLs (not the football league) vs incandescent.
I haven't heard anything on it recently, but a couple years ago there was something on the news that in places like Newfoundland and Labrador, where most of the heating is done with oil that the cost of the extra oil used heating homes that used CFLs was considerable more than the savings in electricity.
   JimG - Thursday, 01/06/11 09:02:42 EST

How to make an incandescent bulb last forever. They make a small wafer you can put in the socket before screwing in the bulb, but these are pretty pricey and only work for a single bulb.
Other than a vibration prone area, just put in a rheostat switch, use a higher watt bulb than required, and drop the voltage a touch.
   Carver Jake - Thursday, 01/06/11 10:54:46 EST

My Dad put dimmers in all the boxes in their old house that had 12 foot ceilings and was a royal pain to change bulbs in. Increased the life tremendously. The CFL's on the other hand should NOT be run on dimmers.

When we first started using the higher voltage bulbs in the shop the "standard" bulbs were still being sold at 110V ratings. Over time that has creeped up but the standard bulb is still under rated for the voltage in most homes. That is part of the engineered short life. They test under one voltage and publish a life then sell them to the public where the voltage is higher and life much shorter. The same BS is going on with the CFL's where if you look closely at their data a bulb installed base down in a cool location (50°F) and several months old will only produce 64% of the "rated" light. That is based on current Phillips literature. So the rating is a bunch of BS. Those ratings (the 60w CFL = 100w I) are what all the savings are based on. . . The math using the manufacturer literature says 60w CFL = 64w I. . NOT a big savings.

We have one fixture in the house that is used a lot (15 hrs/day) and we are constantly replacing the bulbs. I'll try some in it but it requires 3 bulbs. . . It is over my desk and my old eyes have gotten very sensitive to low light conditions. So, should I get bulbs based on the advertised rating OR the fine print?
   - guru - Thursday, 01/06/11 11:46:35 EST

Purv, unless you are willing to pay for international shipping it would help if you would tell us at least on what continent you are! We got smiths here from all over the world!

CFLs: I find that I rather like the slow ramp up of light in the CFL's in our bedroom light; seems easier on the eyes/system on cold dark mornings.

I replaced the incandescents in the ceiling fan fixtures in the vaulted ceiling of out house several years ago, still going strong and like the old light fixtures back when bulbs were only 25 watt they have enough of them to provide enough light to read/work by 10 or so feet below.

As heat is more of an issue than heating out here we have not noticed an increase in utility usage---and wood usage is mostly a factor of wind speed in these parts.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 01/06/11 12:18:17 EST

I have seen dimmable CFL's. I have cfl's in an auto electric eye fixture outdoors and the early CFL's said not rated but the ones I have now are rated and last a very long time. I don't look at any of the fine print, I buy on price, and they work. I can't tell a difference in lumens.
   ptree - Thursday, 01/06/11 13:48:01 EST

Like Jeff, I buy on price - I go to the supermarket and get whatever they have in a 6- or 8-bulb pack and buy the higher wattage ones for most uses. The last batch were Sylvania and the previous were GE. I've also got a dozen no-name ones in a homemade floodlight fixture I use in the shop. Can't tell they're any different from the brand name ones. In the three porch fixtures I use the 13-watt ones in deference to my wife who like less (read, as little as possible) light. I've been getting a minimum of 3 years service out of the CFLs regardless of what fixture they're in - base up, base down, fans, enclosed fixtures, etc. Some are switched many times a day and others are left on for ten hours at a time - they all seem to last just fine and the light is good.
   - Rich - Thursday, 01/06/11 15:26:17 EST

I've found the newest generation of CFLs is far better than the first generation, but they still don't last as long as they claim for me. I seem to get about one to three years out of them. I also like the full-spectrum or "daylight" types over the cool white.

Carver Jake, odd but true story: Germany recently outlawed incandescent bulbs over 60 watts. An entrepreneur there has started selling 100w bulbs as "compact resistance electric heaters for small spaces" and is doing a booming business. Not his fault they also happen to emit a bright light!
   Alan-L - Thursday, 01/06/11 16:44:39 EST

A guy on a black powder shooting forum, new to black powder shooting, used his stove instead of his compressor to dry a gun after cleaning. He ran it at 500 degrees (ya really can't fix stupid) then air cooled it. Did that ruin any temper in the gun parts or would air cooling have brought them back to their original temper?
   Thumper - Thursday, 01/06/11 17:52:45 EST

I've been replacing incandescents as they burn out. I had one CFL fail prematurely when I mixed in with an incandescent in a two-lamp fixture with a glass dome. Due to heat, I assume. (I've stopped mixing lamps in those fixtures).


I've started hoarding incandescents (which will be phased out here as well). Mostly because I sometimes use them as heaters . . .
   Mike BR - Thursday, 01/06/11 18:08:42 EST

Thumper, It MIGHT have over tempered some of the springs, but maybe not. As long as parts are not heated over their original temper temperature it does not hurt them. Springs are often tempered at between 500 and 600°F. I would be more concerned about the wood shrinking and metal expanding possibly loosening fits and bending the barrel.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/06/11 19:57:48 EST

Thanks guru, that's pretty much what I wrote on the BP forum. Never hurts to check with a pro, especially after voicing an opinion LOL. He said one of the internals had broken after his drying episode so I figured it was just a badly manufactured part, nothing he'd done at 500 degrees.
   Thumper - Thursday, 01/06/11 20:07:26 EST

Wow...I knew the blacksmith world had a lot of good people who are willing to share both firsthand kowledge and speculation on how something works. Thanks to everyone for their "lag screw" help! I will attempt something I don't exactly what yet 'cuz I'm cheap! This world moves so fast and our lives can spiral furiously but it's nice to know their are others like myself that don't mind just figuring out things even if it takes longer than hitting a button on a keyboard! I will have to make this forum a frequent read as here in Alaska a smith is as commonplace as a palm tree! Thanks for your help smiths!
   marc - Thursday, 01/06/11 23:56:48 EST

Broken Parts in Cooked gun. . lubrication was likely an issue after the cooking. If the thin lubricating oils did not burn off, they thinned out and ran off. Many things that work with microscopic amounts of lubricant will bind and fail when all the oil is cooked off. Many parts on something like a black powder rifle can only be lubricated when disassembled.
   - guru - Friday, 01/07/11 00:50:50 EST

He didn't say what broke, I'm betting it was the spring in the hand, it's usually the weakest link in the pistol chain.
   Thumper - Friday, 01/07/11 01:07:30 EST

I want to start making metal wall art. This would be small scale with metal rods shaped to make a picture. could anyone tell me what tools I would need and what kind of rods would be good for bending?
Thanks Will
   Will - Friday, 01/07/11 05:37:01 EST

hi i need plans on how to make a fordge to make swords so i can make a few and to make hidden blades for pimp canes
   pik - Friday, 01/07/11 06:29:41 EST

Stove-drying pistol, Thumper: I wouldn't advocate stove drying, but the puzzling part was cranking it up to 500 degrees. Why not 212 degrees since that's boiling point (at least at sea level)? I agree with the Jock; as for the broken part he should take it to the gunsmith, and also re-lubricate everything. My, what an expensive shortcut! (I spent part of New Years at my friends place firing his trapdoor Springfield and his Sharps’ carbine; shoot for a day, clean for three. ;-)

Swords and Sword Canes; Pik: Check out the Anvilfire "Gen X Sword Making page at: http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/armor/swords/sword_making.htm

Please note, however, that sword canes are by their nature, concealed weapons, and just carrying one in public can get you in a lot of trouble. Yes, I know Bud K and other catalogs for losers sell them; but folks sell all sorts of stupid stuff that lead to Darwinian selection among the purchasers. Like many combination weapons, they are not very good swords, and they are not very good canes. Folks are better off with a stout walking stick; and it looks better to the jury if the bearer is involved in an unpleasant, and defensive, confrontation.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 01/07/11 08:20:12 EST

I don't know where I saw it, but some guy was showing how to temper a spring. He dipped it in oil, lit it and let the oil burn off.....this was the temper.
   Mike T. - Friday, 01/07/11 09:42:30 EST

Metal Wire Art: Will, Virtually all common and some not so uncommon metals are suitable for art. What you use depends on what results you want. The most common used are mild steel, brass and copper. Aluminium is used in larger sizes. Aluminium requires expensive industrial tools to weld so is not commonly used in welded work by wire artists.

The form or product type depends on the scale of your work. Wire sculpture starts at jewelery scale using bare 24ga (about 1/2 mm) electrical wire, MIG wire and various specialty wires. To work with these all you need is a pair or two of needle nosed pliers and you imagination. Jewelers often make their own wire from gold and silver alloys. This requires among other tools a wire rolling machine, many of which are hand crank.

MIG wire is popular in .030" to .040" (~1mm) size because it is inexpensive steel wire with copper flashing which reduces rusting. Bare steel welding rod is the same and starts at 1/16" (1.6mm) in size. This heavier wire requires slightly heavier pliers to work it. A small bench vice is also helpful.

Bare welding rod and bare brass brazing rod are popular in wire are and are sometimes used together. Common sizes are 1/16" to 3/16". Both can be welded with a small oxy-fuel torch. Note however that when the copper flashed steel rod is heated to welding temperatures the copper burns off and the steel darkens to black. Some artists use the discoloration as part of their art. This will rust rapidly and must be sealed with clear lacquer. I would clean the work in a mild acid bath and then paint it the desired color. When welding comes into play sheet metal is often added to the mix.

The next size up, 1/4" (6mm) or more requires significantly more and heavier tools. This size product is bought at hardware stores and steel suppliers. If you are going to heat steel rod avoid galvanized (bright plated) rod. Zinc fumes are hazardous and if you are going to weld the steel it makes welding difficult. Tools for this size rod in steel or brass are considerably heavier. For this scale work you will want a good set of tools as follows.

Small forge or commercial size oxy-fuel torch.
Hack saw
OPTIONAL : Rod Parter (a small shear for round stock)
Bench Vise with 4" or larger jaws anchored on a stout bench.
Small anvil (50 to 100 pounds - 20 to 45 kg)
Hammers of various sorts averaging 2 lbs. (1kg).

An arc welder becomes useful at this scale but is not necessary. However, one is indispensable for making tools such as bending jigs.

When you consider purchasing any type of welding equipment you should take courses in welding at a technical school prior to purchase. Besides learning all the safety rules (and there are a lot of them) you will also have the opportunity to use many kinds of equipment. This gives you some of the knowledge you need prior to making a purchase.

Jewelery and blacksmithing courses are also available and a good place to start. Both are metal working but with different approaches and different types of tools.
   - guru - Friday, 01/07/11 09:45:34 EST

Mike, Tempering is just one part of the heat treating process which includes a number of steps. Normalizing, Annealing, Hardening, Tempering and sometimes cryogenic treatment or double tempering. Some tempering procedures call for holding the metal at one temperature for a specific time then another. It is never as simple as it seems.
   - guru - Friday, 01/07/11 09:55:11 EST

Hello everyone my name is Anthony and i have been very interested in getting started in blacksmithing and metalworking. I just got a book at my library about it and i am reading through it now. i am excited to get into this as a hobby i was just wondering if you had any advice for a begginer and i was also wondering how you guys got into this amazing tradition. thank you for your responces.
P.S. I am still very uneducated in this subject but i am working on remeding that by reading some books on the topic.
   Anthony - Friday, 01/07/11 10:40:38 EST



the first piece of advice I can give is, try to build your powers of observation; they will serve you well thru all aspects of life: At the top of THIS PAGE you will see a link :Getting Started in Blacksmithing"
Click it!
   - Dave Leppo - Friday, 01/07/11 11:02:28 EST

Thank you and yes I noticed that right after i pushed the submit button haha. Dave, thank you for the response and thank you for welcoming me. I will read over that and continue my research I really just wanted to introduce myself to everyone.
   Anthony - Friday, 01/07/11 11:09:39 EST

Anthony, Besides the book you have see our book review page. There are a lot of books on the subject. Most are references you would study for years so you may want to purchase some of them. We also have several books on line. Then thee is the bibliography (resources) on our swords article.

Our FAQs page is a good place to find information and links to other articles.

Almost everyone gets into this business differently but the reasons are generally the same. We all want to make things. Some folks make tools, some knives, some art. . .
   - guru - Friday, 01/07/11 13:20:47 EST

Pik; get a copy of "The Complete Bladesmith" James Hrisoulas it will have the info you need. Note that selling such canes in some states on the USA can get you time in the slammer!

Mike T; that was a *traditional* method that worked for certain alloys. For other alloys it'll result in a broken spring in short order.

Cue mini-rant: I never understood why folks think that there would be only *1* way to do things, alloy used, design, etc; and why what worked 200 years ago should work today---you ever tried to apply spurs to your car to get it to go faster?


   Thomas P - Friday, 01/07/11 14:05:18 EST

Bruce, I couldn't tell you why he went to 500 degrees, on my stove that means you're cleaning it!! Sounds like you had a nice New Years outing. The nice part about all the cleaning time, is that beer & good company makes it go faster LOL.

Guru, it was the hand spring he broke, but it was out of the gun and he over bent it, a fledgling kitchen table gunsmith for sure, more power to him.
Also, are we ever going to have an "Ugly JYH Contest". I'm the guy you mentioned who attacked the project with O/A. It still runs fine, but hasn't gotten any prettier!!
   Thumper - Friday, 01/07/11 14:51:43 EST

Thumper- I would really like to see a picture of your Tire hammer- when people ask me- how hard are they to build- I always tell them about you and your hammer
   Ray Clontz - Friday, 01/07/11 15:44:15 EST

Ray, Email w/ pic's is on it's way......couldn't have done it without your inspiration. COOL TOOL!!
   Thumper - Friday, 01/07/11 16:31:41 EST

Here is a virtual piece of hard candy to get you back on track.LOL
   - Slackner - Friday, 01/07/11 17:10:32 EST

Roland- that is a GOOD looking hammer- I have seen a lot worse- can't believe you did it with only a O/A welder- I used to do a lot of torch welding on hot rod exhaust and body work, but never tried it on heavy cross section such as angle and steel tubing- used a lot of coat hangers for fill rod. Again- neat hammer- now I have pictures to show the guys in my ABANA group that want to build a hammer, but can't seem to get started- SCARED to jump in, even with help from Stuart Willis and Butch Silver- builders of the very first tire hammers from my crude sketches Everybody now days seem to need a detailed drawing to build anything- not many that can build from a concept. Can't
believe the want-a-be builders that don't understand the Dupont linkage and think that the hammers have to be TIMED.Have to ask- what is the purpose of the horseshoe on the hammer head- thanks for the pictures Ray
   Ray Clontz - Friday, 01/07/11 17:16:37 EST

Didn't mean to rant- just concerned about the youngsters of today not being able to do the simplest mechanical things. Had 2 of my wife's grandsons living with us for a while. they were 12 and 10 years old- couldn't nail 2 board together- I did get one to spend some time with me in the shop- taught him some basics- hammers, handsaws, wrenches etc. The other one could only play video games and ball- hope he can make a living at it.
   Ray Clontz - Friday, 01/07/11 18:05:49 EST

Ray, the horseshoe is mostly detail, but if I need to lift the hammer to change the die (which I don't cause I only have the one) it becomes a hand grab and a tie-off. The thing about using O/A....nobody told me I couldn't and I didn't bother to ask. In 4 (I think) years, I've only had 2 welds come loose, and they weren't structural. About detail...I figure 1/8+ inch tolerance is acceptable for this thing. Finally, parts: car, train, horse fencing and shoe, jacuzzi motor, dog collar, wheel weights and tv antenna conduit. I always looked up to Rube Golberg as a child LOL.
   Thumper - Friday, 01/07/11 18:21:09 EST

Hey Thumper,mine won't win any beauty contests either but it has made me a few bucks..been using it for 7-8 yrs now. Yep old Ray is my go-to man when I need an idea,I have a few of his concept tools.This is a hammer that anyone can build if they have any fab. skills at all,so keep on hammerin----Regards Butch
   - rsilver - Friday, 01/07/11 18:21:35 EST

Butch are you "ButchesForge" on ebay?
   Thumper - Friday, 01/07/11 18:32:22 EST

I've got a grandson going on 2 that is currently growing up in a city apartment without a father about an hour away. I'm already planning to let him have his own corner of the shop with his own tools and a a bunch of junk he can take apart, destroy, build. AND PPE for his very own!

The twin grandkids are growing up in rural AR; they'll do fine. Shoot might even learn to play the banjo.

The last two are in OH and all I can do for them is to give them tools for their birthdays and books to fire up their imaginations!

The children's museum in Columbus Ohio used to have a place where kids could disassemble household/office appliances for the fun of it. Thought that was a great thing!

   Thomas P - Friday, 01/07/11 19:31:54 EST

I picked up 4 bicycles for the grandsons to take apart and learn about mechanical things-no interest- finally got one to learn how to pump up the tires with a hand pump- the only kind available when I was a kid- later found the pump left out in the yard. These 2 would not take care of any item- did not appreciate- things come too easy- I carried a paper route to earn money to buy my first bike.
   Ray Clontz - Friday, 01/07/11 19:42:39 EST

I used to cook my replica 1851 Colt navy at 250 F after cleaning it with hot water, no better way to prevent leftover moisture, but I DID remove the grips first... The hand spring will be a readily available part for any Colt or Remington clone. Just be sure to know what model you're trying to replace. I redid a BP revolver kit for Paw-Paw before his untimely demise that purported to be an 1860 Colt Army, but the grips and frame were actually 1851s...

On sword canes: To the best of my knowledge there are illegal for carry anywhere in the U.S.A.

Far better is a stout stick with a lightly pointy metal or hardwood "T"-handle. Thus may you crack the bad guy about the head and shoulders while maintaining your image as a gimp. Provided, of course, you have a legitimate medical reason to carry a cane. My own right acetabulum (hip socket to those who don't speak medical) is deteriorating rapidly, so I have been known to use a cane from time to time as the situation warrants. I have never hit anyone with it, but there are self-defense classes for cane-users called "cane fu" that would be worth looking in to if you are that way inclined.
   Alan-L - Friday, 01/07/11 19:52:03 EST

Yes, in the 50's and 60's just about every boy mowed yards, delivered papers, worked as a soda jerk etc.
When I was 13 years old or so I had a mowing list of 28 yards. Plus we had ball practice in between. We didn't think anything about it, it was just a way of life. I often think about how our military is affected by the fact that the most strenuous things they are used to is moving joy sticks around. Besides that, most of us boys could shoot well enough to kill game, which comes in handy on the battle field.
   Mike T. - Friday, 01/07/11 20:05:57 EST

[Crotchety old guy's voice] "I warned people about the 21st century, but nobody would listen to me!" (Uncle Atli's Very Thin Book of Wisdom)

Current Army recruits, according to what I heard on NPR, or so divorced from physical activity that they don't even know how to skip to change step if they are out of step while marching.

Walking sticks: I fell off a barn roof aver 20 years ago, and the foot and ankle still act up from time to time, so it's back on the stick for a week or so and light duty until the pain gets better. Well, what the heck, balcksmiths are tradionally lame anyway. (Either because it was a job where you could stay put, without a premium on running; or they hamstrung the smith to keep him from slipping away to the competing tribe.)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 01/07/11 20:22:37 EST

Alan, my acetabulum was busted into a few pieces along with the rest of my left pelvic bone about three years ago. Things knit back pretty well, but I have a sneaking suspicion I will be feeling what you are going through in years to come. Then I will have a reason (once again) to carry a stick (I'll be sure to speak softly).
   - Nippulini - Friday, 01/07/11 20:32:14 EST

hi im new to blacksmithing and set my own shop up recently. i have a 2.5 pound hammer a 125 # anvil a propain 3 burner forge ana vice. I know very little and would like to know what should i start with for learning? i would like to make a pair of tongs out of 3/8 round bar but every walk thru or video is hard to see the way they are making them. do you have a step by step or good video that explains everything? i looked at i forge and bill epps has one but its still kind of hard to understand. Also do you guys have any good beginer tips? i messed around with a few things making round bar square and hooks and stuff but only for a few hours. Thank you very much sorry for my lack of knowledge
   Randy - Friday, 01/07/11 20:41:07 EST

OK, you guy's talkin' about aches and pains. The other night I was awakened by a dull throbbing pain in my foot. It took almost 2 hours to figure out why it hurt and I refused to go back to sleep till I did. Finally it came to me, I was kicked in the foot by a horse trying to kick my horse on a trail ride about 16yrs ago. It took 6 months to heal completely, the doc said I'd have been much better off if it had been broken. It was good for predicting weather for a couple of years then faded away. Now, I bring this tale of woe to light because there is a bright side to aches and pains. As we age, our memory peter's out, so, when we have an unidentifyable pain we must use our depleted memories to try and remember why we hurt. This I think, provides the solution to alzheimer's disease. Here's the theory, as a youth you must live an active and sometimes painful life, later these old injuries will come back to haunt you and provide a mental exercise that will keep your mind sharp and memories clear !!! Woe to today's youth.
   Thumper - Friday, 01/07/11 21:19:19 EST


3/8" round is a little small for tongs. It is about the size of the reins so you need something a bit larger. 1/2" square is a common size for tongs. Flat stock is a bit better.

The common production tong joint it a bit tricky to forge. Goose Jaw tongs are mearly bent to align the bits and the reins. Consider the following.

Gurus Goose Neck Tongs

The outline (second down above) can be forged from 1/4 x 3/4 or 1/4 x 1 for light tongs, 3/8 x 1 for medium weight tongs. While drawing out the entire reins is a lot of work it makes stronger tongs than welding the reins on.

   - guru - Friday, 01/07/11 21:27:04 EST

More Tongs: These are quite easy

twist tongs

Starting with flat bar you fuller two grooves about half way through the bar as shown. Its easy to go too far, try to hold back. Fuller the reigns and draw out as shown.

Note that both jaws of tongs are the same "hand". There is not right and left. I've made these using 1/4" x 1 and 3/8" x 1" stock. Using a chisel point punch as in the goose neck tongs drawing saves a small amount of material.
   - guru - Friday, 01/07/11 22:42:34 EST

Thumper-yep that's me,a fixture on Ebay-Regards
   - rsilver - Friday, 01/07/11 23:00:51 EST

Randy- if you are looking for more tong videos this is about as simple as it gets- http://picasaweb.google.com/brianbrazealblacksmith/TongBlank#5444538182975584098

All- not all kids are hopeless when it comes to making things with their hands. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81uiM4EObEE
Of course not all kids have a blacksmith for a dad. Santa brought him a hand cranked drill press for Christmas, it's been a big hit!
   Judson Yaggy - Saturday, 01/08/11 09:08:14 EST

Re: Lack of skills.
A young tech installing my daughter's TV dish had forgotten his butane torch to shrink some tubing on connections. He asked her if she had one he could borrow. She said NO but handed him a candle and a box of kitchen matches. He looked at her blankly and said "How do you use these?" WOW!!
   Jim Curtis - Saturday, 01/08/11 13:39:56 EST

Lack of skills in today's youth...
I'm not referring to anyone in particular in this rant against saying that the young people don't know things.
The only reason they don't know is because they haven't been taught. I know lots of people in their 50's or older who wouldn't know which end of a screwdriver to hold either. Yes there are a few self starters out there, but most of us need to be exposed to something over and over and over for it to stick. When my Dad was fixing something he made me help him, (although I'm sure that he could have fixed it faster with out my help) So if we want a world when we're in the old blacksmith's home with people who can fix stuff it is up to us to make sure we've passed on what we know to everyone we can. I was a lazy kid, (and still am a lazy adult)I would have rather read or done something that I would rather have done than help Dad, but he never gave me a choice. And I am grateful to him now for it. So before we say "the youth of today know nothing" We need to ask ourselves "what have we done to teach?"
   JimG - Saturday, 01/08/11 13:59:26 EST

Aches and pains are a part of life. blown disc, tore up nerve in hip, crushed foot,and i still suffer from CRS. good news, after a med change i am getting back to having a bit of a brain. so all of you out there are the first to hear this. i am trying to move from hobby smithing to a lot more serious smithing. gotten jealous of others having a forge name (i know it's a business) but since i am going in that direction, i thought to start there would be best. Geezers' Forge was born on 8 Jan 2011. located in the mountains of central Cal.
FRANK; sorry about the e-mail, ment to post. optimum fillet blade angle is 12 to 15 degrees, correct?
   - geezers' forge - Saturday, 01/08/11 19:19:58 EST

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