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, 2012 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

anvil substitute : I caught the knife bug a couple of years ago. Thanks to MrIronman1979 I would like to make forged knives. Would a Fisher wood stove serve as a workable anvil for a beginner knife maker?
   Peter W. - Saturday, 12/31/11 23:39:25 EST

Peter, Sorry, no. While the stove is heavy and relatively solid it is mass made of distributed 1/4" plate. An anvil needs to be concentrated or compact mass. You could probably forge on one of the corners of the stove but it would be very inefficient and difficult work.

Fist, anvils are most importantly compact mass. A cube or slightly rectangular piece of 100 pounds is an excellent anvil while that 300 pounds of 1/4" plate is almost as far from compact as you can get. Second, good anvils are made with a hardened tool steel face or made of hardened steel to resist wear and tear.

All kind of heavy hunks of unhardened steel can be used for an anvil. The important thing is to have mass under the hammer, not spread out. A common mistake is using a piece of RR-rail as an anvil setting flange down. It is very springy and inefficient. But turned on end it puts all its mass under the hammer.

See our Anvil Making articles.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/01/12 01:15:36 EST

Mr. guru, Thank you for your prompt reply. I now have a much better idea of the anvil I require.Could you please recommend hammers and tongs that I could use for shaping and handling bar steel.I've seen forges labeled for knifemakers. What is the difference between those and blacksmith's? Once again, thank you.
   Peter W. - Sunday, 01/01/12 06:17:35 EST

anvil new or used? : I have a 1902 125# trenton anvil. I am finally in a position to get a bigger anvil that is in much better condition. My current anvil has had repairs done to the shoulders and has some pitting on the face. At the time it was the most anvil i could afford. i have been talking to a local smith about buying his 300# columbian but he is asking 3000 bucks. My question is would it be better to buy a new 300# TFS/delta from Kayne and son or is the quality of a used columbian in excelent condition really worth the 3000 dollar price tag?
   Thomas Van Krevelen - Sunday, 01/01/12 08:30:09 EST

Thomas : Because of galloping inflation and possibly eBay pricing, some folks are asking too much for their anvils. Regarding new anvils, if you have $1000+ to spend, the Delta looks good. I would also check out www.nimbaanvils.com and www.fontaninianvilandtool.com. There are probably others that I don't know about. Use your search engines.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 01/01/12 09:56:29 EST

Anvil Decision : Thomas, While a Colombian is a fine anvil, $10 a pound is a bit much cor a cast anvil. Have you looked at some of the fine wrought German anvils Josh Greenwood is selling OR anvils that others are selling on our Tailgate page? 500 pound (230 kg) anvils are selling for that money. Many of these have a bit of collector's value and will do nothing but appreciate over time while new anvils depreciate like a new car as soon as you take it off the lot.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/01/12 10:07:39 EST

Fisher Woodstove : He is much better off buying a Fisher ANVIL than a Fisher woodstove, lol
   stewartthesmith - Sunday, 01/01/12 10:11:49 EST

and besides........... : rather than spend 3K on a Columbian, which is an excellent anvil, I have a spare 300 pound Peter Wright I can hook you up with, for a modest 650 in cash.
   stewartthesmith - Sunday, 01/01/12 10:14:19 EST

Springs : Scott, it is no longer your fathers Oldsmobile. Steels in automobiles have evolved considerably in the last 30-50 years. Typically the carbon content has dropped while other elements have increased. The result is a tougher, stronger steel at lower hardness. Many new cars are using something called TRIP steel, which stands for transformation induced plasticity steel. The steel is a mixture of ferrite(pure iron), bainite (a phase between austenite and martensite (the hardened type of steel) and austenite (the steel that you get over 1400F). Under an impact, like a collision, the austenite transforms to martensite making the steel get stronger and more ductile as the collision deformation occurs. This acts to slow the rate of deformation down and cushion the force felt by passengers. Henry Ford would be impressed.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 01/01/12 10:22:59 EST

Knifemakers Forge and more :
In gas forges the NC Knifemakers is a longish forge with an end door or port. There is nothing really special about it. Forge most blade making any common forge will do. For sword making things get a little specialized but I would not be putting equipment for that specific purpose until you have the skills and knowledge to make your own decisions. In a solid fuel forge an Oriental Trough forge is very handy for long blade making as well as all other types of work.

Hammer shape and size is a very personal thing. Bladesmiths are like other smiths, some will use ONE hammer for almost everything and others will use a number of hammers. Some hammers such as the very economical German cross pien hammers sold by BlacksmithsDepot have rough ground faces that you make into what you want (rounding, flat, rocker. . .).

Forging hammer weight varies from about 2 pounds to 4 (900g to 1800g). If you start too heavy you will have difficulty learning hammer control AND may hurt yourself. I started with a 2.5 lb. hammer then worked up to a 3.5. I could never feel comfortable with a 4 pound hammer I bought so I gave it away.

Some tasks need lighter and heavier hammers. A set of ball piens (good ones, not the misshapened Chinese things) are good for riveting, punching chiseling and other takes. I have a set of these starting at a few ounces up to about 3 pounds). The most common seem to be around 2 pounds or a bit less. At one time they sold in one, two and six ounce increments but are difficult to find these days. Look for the old ones with crisp corners on the octagon sections. Also look for those where the ball is a BALL (sphere) not a torpedo shape. Note that ball peins have a flat face with relatively sharp corners and are not suitable for forging but a few people regrind them for that purpose.

At the other end of the scale you may need a sledge for working heavy stock. I have a 6 pound single handed sledge that is handy once in a great while ( for a dozen or less blows) and 8 pound two handed sledges are the standard for use with a helper.

Some bladesmiths like a rocker faced hammer (curved in one direction) as it moves the steel directionally with little spread to the sides. A Swedish hammer is normally of this type.

Tongs depend on the size or starting stock and finished work you are going to do. Tongs should always fit the work snugly and those that wrap around the work (V bit, channel bit, round bit) are much more safe and secure. As a piece changes shape and size you may need to change tongs several times. On the other hand if working long stock you may not need tongs at all OR be able to hold an unchanging end until time to cut off the work. But after that you will need something that fits. Flat tongs are nearly universal but the grip is not very secure until you learn to use them and strengthen the right muscles.

You can make your own tongs OR purchase them. BlacksmithsDepot and Centaur Forge have a wide variety. I like the offset Chainmakers tongs made by Grant Sarver of Offcenter tools. These are a handy universal grip tongs. Every smith needs a few good commercial tongs as a quide if they are going to make their own. DIY tongs are often heavy cludgy things that are virtually useless. You find many of these "farmer" or trade school tongs in flea markets and antique shops. Let the decorators have them. . .

You've forgotten the most used tool in the bladesmiths arsenal, the GRINDER. While forged blades do not require as much grinding as stock removal (grinding to shape from bar stock) the needs are nearly the same. Most bladesmiths end up with a row of grinders for different purposes. The most popular grinders used by bladesmiths are 2 x 72" belt grinder/sanders. These are used with special curved platens and contact wheels for hollow grinding blades as well as all other grinding of the blade and shaping parts of the furniture. Wider heavy duty industrial grinders up to 6" and 5 HP are used as well as disk grinders but the 2 x 72" belt grinder is the most common. Belts come in a wide variety of grits that take you from roughing down to nearly polished.

Besides belt grinders every shop should have one standard bench grinder with 6" or 8" wheels. These are used for tool sharpening and dressing. However, belt grinders easily do these tasks as well. AND you may also want a machine for buffing and polishing using cotton buffs. Depending on the size these run slower than a grinder. You CAN hand polish items to a perfect mirror finish using fine sand paper and rubbing compound. This is still common on the best hand made work but for many things a buffer saves a lot of time.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/01/12 11:08:53 EST

More Wood Tools :
Let us not forget about wood planes (as apposed to aeroplanes and used to build same).

And as I was following some links I was reminded of Wayne Goddard's wood frame belt sander.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/01/12 11:33:08 EST

abrasive tools : If I could afford only one abrasive removal power tool in my shop, I would go with a decent 12" disc sander. These can sharpen tools deburr and even do much of the work on blades. A decent one can be had for around $200 new, and good 12" PSA discs for $2-6 each. I have three standard bench grinders, a 6" that now has the special wheels for carbide tooling and is used little, a very nice 8" baldor that gets used even less and a cheap 6" with flap wheels that gets some use. My 12" disc sander with grits fron 40 to 100 gets use constantly, and is next to the 2" x 72" belt grinder. I use the disc sander to heavy grind and profile blade edge shape on the trowels and choppers as well as very rough, very aggressive metal removal. I have probably worn out 200+ discs on this machine, and am considering buying a second so I can have 2 grits mounted at the same time.
   ptree - Sunday, 01/01/12 12:28:26 EST

When I got my 2X72 belt grinders I wondered how I ever got along without it. But if I could have only *one* grinder, it would be a 4-1/2" angle grinder. A hand-held angle grinder isn't really suited for grinding blades, but it *can* be done. And there are things that can't really be done with another tool. For example, if you wanted to cut sections off a coil spring for knife stock and didn't have a torch, a cut-off wheel in an angle grinder (or something similar) would be about the only practical option. (And if you did have a torch, an angle grinder would be just about mandatory to clean up cuts on pieces too big for a stationary grinder.)
   Mike BR - Sunday, 01/01/12 13:11:25 EST

If your getting into knifemaking heres the people to talk to..
   Hayden - Sunday, 01/01/12 14:26:22 EST

quench/springs : Thanks Quenchcrack,, Henry Ford & Scott are impressed at the knowledge here , I'm in the ornamental iron Business www.cscwelding.com
I could setup a roller & run 100 pcs & they all matched!! today you have to tweek almost every piece!! I've noticed this change over the last 10 yrs,, THANKS TO ALL for your feedback, Scott
   scott boatright - Sunday, 01/01/12 16:34:54 EST

Anvil substitute, : For beginning knife and trinket making, one option is using a sledgehammer as an anvil. Fit it facing up into a big wooden block and do your work on the its 2-3" diameter face.
Most commonly sledgehammers are 8-10 pound range what are sort of light for a make-shift anvil, But sledgehammers are available up to 20-ish pounders and while not too common(20lb is HUGE to swing for more than a couple blows) You might get lucky and find one at a flea market for cheap because nobody in their right mind likes to swing a hammer that big ! Good luck to your beginning of smithing.
   - Sven - Sunday, 01/01/12 17:12:07 EST

I may get flamed here for saying, but..... ptree, on occasion I have been known to set the 4-1/2" angle grinder in the vise and use it as a small bench grinder. I do this sometimes for cleaning up small parts with poly vinyl alcohol foam abrasive disks. So, I know by doing so I am poking at a wasps nest so.........
   - Nippulini - Monday, 01/02/12 08:27:24 EST

Nip, As long as the grinder is secure, you are not exceeding the rpm on the abrasives with the grinder, and you have on the right eye PPE,as well as something to control dust, why would it be a problem?
I have seen little rigs at Harbor Freight to clamp a 4 1/2" grinder and make it into a mimi chop saw.

If I did much work as you describe, a 6" disc sander/ belt sander combo might be a better tool and give better performance.

And you rotten so and so.... wait no flame war right? :)
   ptree - Monday, 01/02/12 09:11:48 EST

Cool, that's pretty much what goes through my head when I do things like that. Jock likes to call it the "got away with it" factor. I do have a 6" belt/disc sander, but I removed the disc.. I felt like it got in the way too much, so I use it as belt only. The HF chop saw thing.... avoid it like the plague. Worst $15 I ever spent there.

Let's have an oxy/acetylene war! Regular flames don't cut it here!
   - Nippulini - Monday, 01/02/12 10:36:02 EST

Got away with it vs. Imaginative use :
In this case it is just imaginative use of tools. The guards on these little grinders are for sparks and the harder wheels breaking. Using soft disks and good PPE you are OK. There is a greater possibility of crushing the little grinder than hurting yourself. . . So just be your own Shop Gorilla! Numerous people have made brackets to hold Portabands (hand held band saws) in a vice to get better control of what they are cutting off. Hose clamps do the job.

We have made special fixtures for holding die grinders and Dremels on a lathe tool post to do small tool post grinding. Worked slick on my little 6" lathe for dressing all the centers and making some hardened cams. This setup should probably have a small guard rigged up.

The problem was that Dremel changed their design and the fixtures no longer worked. . . The new Dremels have a 5/8"-12 (a slightly odd thread) on the spindle nose for fitting to their attachments. Numerous aftermarket folks also make tools to fit this. We also had a nice B&D electric die grinder that had a turned section on the aluminium housing that easily clamped in an easy to make fixture. We sold it with a job and the replacement had a plastic housing that could not be clamped to easily. . .
   - guru - Monday, 01/02/12 10:54:27 EST

Grinding/Sanding accident : A friend of Jock's and mine in Costa Rica lost an eye and got a big dent in the head, just missing the brian, by using a hard, thin, cutoff type disc improperly. As I understand it, the disc was on an angle grinder and was being used at an acute angle to the work instead of edge-on, like a cutoff. The disc came apart and the pieces flew.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 01/02/12 11:38:34 EST

Imaginative Use and Repourposing. :
I once had a book about using woodworking bandsaws that had some of the most ingenious setups. One was cutting round tennons using a wood V-block and a stop on the saw table. You just made a bunch of short quick cuts to the stop and viola' you had a perfectly round, shouldered tennon. I either misplaced it or the book walked off. . lots of great ideas.

One very old book I had on lathe work showed how to support an armature in a center at the spindle end and steady rest in the other. To hold the part against the center without a second center you tie it snugly to the face or drive dog plate with raw-hide thongs. Works slick. If you can do this then you can face and center drill the end supported in the steady rest in many cases. I think the example had a slot in the end of the shaft. So, part of your lathe tool kit is several feet of raw-hide laces or thongs.

To grind some special cams in the lathe we made the Dremel fixture mentioned above and a special holder for the cam. The face plate was manually worked back and forth about 20 degrees as the grinder was fed toward the spindle. Made very precision hard little cams without a jig grinder.

As one of the first and most common machine tools there have been thousands of imaginative uses for this King of Machine Tools.

I use my portable belt sander turned upside down on metal more than the way it was designed to be used on wood.

To dress small lumber for musical instruments I used a sanding drum in the drill press and setup a guide rail on the table. To get to the edge of the wood the table had a piece of plywood over it with a hole for the 3" sanding drum. Worked better and quieter than a planer.

On one job we had a very large gear that had a bad fit (about -.008" on 44"). We installed the gear on its bearing, turned it using a rubber friction wheel on a magnetic base drill press and ground the fit using a die grinder rigged on a milling table. It was the rig of all rigs but did the job. . .

We once lifted the top of a huge T shaped piece of machinery about 10 feet higher than the hook on the crane lifting it! It took careful judging of the center of gravity, planning and careful attention (all on me). It was one of those things that looked very dangerous but in fact was a safe lift under complete control. However, these type things are often VERY dangerous and miscalculations (usually no calculation) results in disaster. . .
   - guru - Monday, 01/02/12 11:49:27 EST

Things you DO NOT RECOMMEND : As Frank mentioned our friend had a horrible accident using a cutoff wheel the way many folks do in an angle grinder. I had a fellow working under my supervision about 10 years ago that despite my telling him NOT to do what he was doing three times (grinding in slot with no guard), finally had the angle grinder he was using kick back catching him in the mouth, cutting him from mouth to ear, knocking out several teeth. . . We had to rush him to the hospital and it took numerous surgeries to repair what could be repaired. Luckily for me it was on someone else's insurance. But there was still a pile of paperwork and depositions . . . AND the guy had permanent nerve damage and will never smile straight again.

Often imaginative use also involves the Got Away With It Factor. . . I once bought a bridge crane at auction in an ancient foundry. It went for a LOT less than the value of the to hoists on it (a two ton manual, one ton electric and two trolleys). The problem was it had to be taken down and the wooden building around it appeared to be held up by the crane AND there was just me and a helper with a few tools to take it down. Here is what we did and Got Away with it. . .

First we took the hoists down while standing on top of my pickup truck cab. A ladder in the bed MAY have been involved. Then we took off the trolleys the same way.

Next we had to take down the bridge. This was 24 feet of 8" steel I beam with heavy trucks (pairs of 12" diameter cast iron wheels and heavy frames) on each end and a motor driven shaft with gear box spanning the distance as well. Everything was covered with as much black foundry sand and dirt as was possible to pile up on them.

There was only one substantial wooden beam in the building above the crane. I think it was the original monorail beam in front of the foundry copula. The bridge just barely cleared the wooden beam. We tossed some 5/16" load chain over the beam and around the bridge beam. Then we used pairs of cam lever type load binders to raise the bridge and trucks off the side rails. We left it hanging.

Next we had to take down the side rails and columns to make room to get the bridge down. We unbolted brackets attaching the columns to the building frame and them unbolted the flanges where the columns sat on concrete piles. . . then from a distance pulled it down with a rope. . . CRASH! We then had to unbolt and torch up the beams to hand carry them out and load them in the truck and then repeat on the opposite side. . . A the end of the second day we hauled these home. The rest had to wait for the next day.

LAST was taking down the bridge. Working near the top of two long extension ladders we inched the bridge down using the small load binders in pairs. One load binder put the load on the next and then we moved the first down and repeated the operation until we had about two feet clear space between the wood beam and the bridge beam. Then we put the load on two undersized cable come-a-longs and lowered the bridge down across my truck bed. We then re-rigged, moved the truck and lowered the bridge to the floor where we cut it up into manageable pieces to haul in the pickup.

The fact that we got out of there safely was amazing. . . Everything was beyond the load limits of the rigging or off purpose. All the building's wooden posts had rotted off and most of it was supported by the siding (and the crane). It was dark and dirty, hard to see what we were doing. A week later the building was gone (for good reason).

I still have much of the steel from that crane and still use the hoists. The crane bridge beam was shaped like a snake. . apparently having been dropped several times with a bull ladle full of liquid cast iron. . It was way undersized for the two ton hoist on it. It was dangerous in use and dangerous to take down.

If you do enough things like this OR are not VERY VERY careful then death and mayhem WILL catch up with you. If something is beyond your capacity or your tools, seek help. Its better to work safe and not have stories to tell about what you got away with.
   - guru - Monday, 01/02/12 12:52:32 EST

I would agree with the Guru, that most field expedient rigging jobs come from NO calculation, no understanding of the limits of the equipment and a cavalier attitude to the condition of the equipment.
I have seen far too many lifts with nicked, frayed worn nylon lift slings. Wire rope slings with broken strands and kinked ropes are the second most common. At the valve shop I learned to not condemn slings and expect them to stay that way. I learned to simply take the condemned sling to the nearest band saw and reduce it to small fractions that could not be tied back together, as I had seen that done.

I did ensure that replacements were available, as were anti-chaff pads.
The common sling we used most was a Lift-all brand fiber sling that cost less than $10 each, and people were risking their safety on bad slings.
Next were rigged up chain slings, using non lift components, knotted to shorten legs etc.

I became very well know to the local wire rope and chain sling shop, as I would often run over and have a proper sling made and return within 30 minutes with a correct, rated, proofed lift sling right after I cut up the bad one.
If you take away the bad tool, you have to replace it with the right tool, and offer a little education about why the bad one was bad. After a couple of years the guys learned to ask for the right sling in the first place rather than jury rig.
   ptree - Monday, 01/02/12 13:04:06 EST

Oops : I have an horror story that should serve as a warning for those who laugh at safety guidelines. Many years ago, while I was serving my apprenticeship, we had guys who did all the grinding in the shop on hand-forged tools. Our grinding wheels were mounted on pedestal grinders without guards, using 3 horsepower electric motors with a shaft at both ends of the motor. The grinding wheels were 18 inches in diamter, and two inches wide. Before mounting any grinding wheel, employees were cautioned to "ring the wheel" by flicking their thumb on the side of the wheel, to see if it rang when thunked. A faulty wheel, which might have a crack in it, would not ring, but would instead betray its faultiness by not ringing clearly. Grinders were cautioned NOT to use those wheels if they didn't ring.
One guy, who also loved his liquor, disdained such advice, and mounted wheels all the time without ringing them. Lo and behold, one of the grinding wheels exploded on him, shredding him to ribbons, and what was left of him was fit to be shovelled into a wheel barrow. Word to the Wise!
   stewartthesmith - Monday, 01/02/12 15:57:56 EST

Fabric Slings :
We never had a wire rope sling in our shop and I was glad of it. Nylon or synthetic slings lift great loads for their weight and if damaged do not poke you with frayed wires.

The handiest slings in my shop are little 1" slings about 3 or 4 feet long that weigh less than a pound. These will lift 2,500 to 6,000 pounds each and are often used in pairs. The larger 2" slings will lift 8,500 to 18,000 pounds, 32,000 pounds (16 tons) with a 4 point pick. Three or four of the small slings in longer lengths replace 25 to 50 pounds of chain. They are as easy on paint and finished surfaces as they are on the hands.

For heavy loads the more durable slings are the nylon sleeved polyester round slings. Small nicks in the sleeves do not hurt and because the slipping and stretching goes on in the sling rather than against the load they rarely get torn, frayed or nicked.

The only issue with synthetic slings in the machine shop is they can become embedded with chips and pickup oil and grease. They can be laundered to remove the grease but metal chips do not remove easily. Keep them away from chips and sharp edges and they will last a very long time.
   - guru - Monday, 01/02/12 16:57:20 EST

Stewartthesmith, at a previous employer, It was common to remove the guards from the 7" hand held air side grinders to allow use in any position they wanted. A fellow placed a 9" wheel on a 7" machine, overspeeded and the wheel flew into pieces. A large piece severed the neck almost completely of his co-worker. Same shop, same case as you described, big grinder wheel on an unguarded pedestal grinder flew apart and went nearly thru the guy, pushing his brestbone ahead of it into his heart.

Above gruesome? Yes. True? Yes. How many side grinders and bench grinders have you seen unguarded? It may not be yourself you injure/kill when an unguarded tool is used, but someone some distance away. The energy in a hard wheel, spinning at high speed has to be seen to be believed.

Try and be a believer BEFORE you see the actual result.

Ptree the first aid guy, who became a safety guy to reduce the first aid he had to perform.
   ptree - Monday, 01/02/12 17:06:53 EST

Slings : Guru, lots of folks buy the wire rope slings believing them to be more damage resistant. I do not find them more damage resistant.

I prefer the web type fabric slings over the sheath and core, as overload damage is very hard to determine in the core and sheath type. I often provided hunks of cut up web slings as anti chaff pads.

The one good justification for the wire rope slings was in the forge shop, where a choker set-up could be manipulated easily onto a smooth axle shaft and the 450#+ axle grabbed and lifted even hot. A simple fork type lever, hung from a hoist was even better in most cases.
   ptree - Monday, 01/02/12 17:11:40 EST

It has been posted on Iforgeiron that Grant Sarver passed away last evening.
   ptree - Monday, 01/02/12 19:46:04 EST

Ammature : Im 19 and I am not new to metalworking, but I am definitely an ammeter. I have taken a basic metals class in school, but far exceeded the expectations of the class. I have been welding/forging off and on for five years. During this time I have built a railroad anvil, police battering ram which is still in use, and numerous other things. I have recently been reawakened to the joy that forging brings me and have decided to take it a little more serious. My most recent project is a knife. After doing some somewhat late research, I have found that I am completely out of my league and don't actually know a thing about what i'm attempting to do. Rather than get discouraged by my lack of knowledge, I am finding myself greatly intrigued by the things i don't know, which i'm hopping is a sign that blacksmithing may be a good field of work for me to go into. Since I am not a beginner, What sort of projects should I be doing instead of the advanced knife project I am currently on? What things do I need to do in order to venture a bit more into Blacksmithing to see if i may like it as a career? What do I need to do to get better at blacksmithing? How would I make Blacksmithing a career? What kind of pay do blacksmiths make, and what kind of work do they perform regularly?

I live about a half hour west of Sacramento, CA. Where do I buy blacksmithing tools and coal?

Finally, Im not the kind of person who starts a project and doesn't finish it. Even if I am too unskilled to make a knife, I want to see it through to the end before I start another project. I am using a type of spring steel for my knife, but my dad doesn't remember the hardness. I did my best the shape the blade in the forge, and it didn't turn out too bad. I started filing and grinding the blade flat but am not finished. What do I need to do to finish this knife and still have it work properly?

Any advice/criticism will be greatly appreciated. Thanks
   Kevin-W - Tuesday, 01/03/12 05:41:07 EST

kuhn oiler : inquired about kuhn oiler recently. got good advice. received it this week from germany. kuhn was very helpful. can't remember who suggested it was vacuum operated, but they were correct.

thank you
   dennis k. smith - Tuesday, 01/03/12 07:32:05 EST

recently inquired about kuhn oiler. got good advice. received it yesterday from germany. kuhn was very helpful. whoever speculated it was vacuum operated was correct.

thank you
   - dennis k. smith - Tuesday, 01/03/12 07:45:46 EST

Grant Sarver : Sad news. Any more info on what happened? I always enjoyed his posts.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 01/03/12 08:32:18 EST

Grant Sarver : Grant Sarver was one of those extremely intelligent, creative people who come along so infrequently. He was a gift to our craft and we will miss him.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 01/03/12 08:45:07 EST

Grant Sarver : Grant last posted here on the 11th. I was recommending his tongs within hours of his passing.

According to his on-line profile he was born Aug 24, 1947. So he was 64. He died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm. I did not think he was older than I am. More on the Hammer-In
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/03/12 09:50:02 EST

Amateur :
Kevin, try using Firefox, it has a built in spell check. An ammeter is a device (voltmeter with resistance shunt) used to measure Amperage in electrical circuits.

Bladesmithing and tool making both require some knowledge of metallurgy. The FIRST rule is when working with junkyard (unknown) steel that YOU are the metallurgist and must determine what the material you are working with IS and how to heat treat it. The second rule is you are MUCH better off to purchase new steel of a known pedigree.

In Bladesmithing and Toolmaking you forge similar steels. They are handled differently than common mild steel. You can do terrible things to mild steel, work it too hot, too cold, thermal shock it and not have serious problems unless you are making a critical part. Tool, spring and blade steels must be worked hot but not too hot, NEVER too cool, and care must be taken not to thermal shock them. They come in Air, Oil and Water or Brine quench so knowledge of what you are working with is as critical as what you are making.

IF you are going to work these steels a great deal it is best to work primarily with them. If you are going to do general forging or decorative work then you get it hot and work it. . . period.

If you are looking for practice in general smithing then decorative work and hardware of any kind will give you a great deal of practice. Forging tapers and making smooth scrolls takes practice, forging small hooks and leaves increases your hammer control as does forging hardware (latches, hinges and such).

While doing various projects increases your scope there is nothing that increases your skill level more than making many of one thing. That can be nails by the thousands, hooks by the hundreds, scrolls and leaves by the dozens. . . Architectural work, even a simple gate of balcony rail often contains hundreds of the same part. Depending on the design these may need to be entirely hand forged and very nearly as identical as possible.

While the mantra "Practice, practice, practice", is always good advice it must be tempered with "Do it better, better still and even BETTER!" Route practice without thought can DECREASE one's skill by learning sloppy work habits. Keep that in mind in any repetitive job. You want to get faster but ALSO better.

Out West the best place to order coal is online such as from one of our advertisers (Blacksmiths Depot, Centaur Forge. . ). Often the blacksmithing groups get together and purchase large truck loads from a known source. The last coal I bought in Sacramento was used for landscaping and that is ALL it was good for. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/03/12 12:04:49 EST

Amateur : Farriers Supply in or around Sacramento carries coal and other supplys.
   - Geezers Forge - Tuesday, 01/03/12 15:40:08 EST

Welcome Kevin---I don't think most spell checks would have picked up the ammeter/amateur issue.

So first things first: what you need is two things: the first is *knowledge*. May I suggest you ILL "The Complete Bladesmith" and the $50 Knife Shop from your local public library. Look to see if any of the local smithing groups offer classes in bladesmithing too.

The second is *practice*. I often suggest a aspiring bladesmith take a good automotive coil spring and cut it down opposing sides to make 10 to 12 "( " pieces of steel that you can then practice on learning how that steel works and heat treats---you *want* to test to destruction to get an idea of how forging and heat treating affect the metal. Having so many pieces alike allows you to control *that* variable.

Once you learn that alloy you may want to add another and learn *it*. O-1 is generally easy to find and makes good knives. *start with small blades and work your way up to larger ones too)

Finding a mentor---a good bladesmith willing to evaluate your blades and processes and make suggestions is a big help too. Should be someone fairly local to yourself.

The American Bladesmiths Society offers classes that would be perfect for you; but may not be convenient (spellcheck offed me "convent" as the first choice for that one...).
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 01/03/12 17:18:52 EST

Coal/Classes : By Sacramento, John McLellan. 916-652-5790
   Carver Jake - Wednesday, 01/04/12 01:50:56 EST

Steel Types : Hello. My name is Jake. I am just starting in blacksmithing (or rather just about to start...ordering an anvil building a forge etc.) Any ways, my question is this: I have noticed some talk about different types of metal to be forged with different carbon counts and such and havent been able to find much information explaining. I'm curious, when I am purchasing metal to make, say, a candle holder do I just go to my local supply store and ask for stock (1/2 inch or something). What about if I'm trying to make a simple blade for skinning a hunting kill ....do I need a different carbon metal to hold an edge...or a stronger metal for making say a hammer? Sorry for the noobie question but we all have to start somewhere right? If I could be pointed to a source explaining what types of metal to use for different things or how they react to forming that would be helpful too. Thanks in advance! PS I am really liking this website....it looks as if it will be an invaluable resource throughout my learning process :)
   Jake Darrah - Wednesday, 01/04/12 02:19:08 EST

Thanks for all the great advice. One question that I still have is about the profession of blacksmithing itself. Is it a viable career option or just an expensive hobby? I would continue to do it regardless simply because I enjoy it, but knowing one way or another would help.
   Kevin-W - Wednesday, 01/04/12 04:17:30 EST

Blacksmithing as a Business :
There is a difference between a profession and a business. A professional can and most often does work for another business. Even trades we think of as individual professionals, doctors, lawyers, plumbers, electricians. . . almost always work most or all their life for someone else.

There are very few jobs in blacksmithing but many blacksmith shops. There are many more jobs in fabrication but few fabricators do a significant amount of forging, it is mostly cut, weld and installation. That means that to go into blacksmithing you will most likely be starting a business.

To start any business takes a significant amount of money (Capital). That is why many blacksmiths are either starving artists OR work most of their lives in other trades while collecting tools and knowledge before starting a business blacksmithing.

To start a business you need a PLACE. More often than not most localities regulate what can be done where. You cannot just go out in your back yard or garage and start a business. People DO it all the time but it is often fraught with problems. Do the zoning and legal research first.

There is an old saying in business, "Location, location, location". If you are not near your market your may fail, if you are not near your supplies you may fail, if your locations costs too much you will definitely fail. Depending on your product you may need a very public location but more often than not a smith needs an industrial location. Even if you own a place property has a significant value. Commercial rents even for small space start in the thousands of dollars today. . .

While many of us have started on a shoestring (and many have failed) the professional business advisors will stress Capitol (cash money on hand) as well as location. Most small businesses fail in the first year or two due to lack of money. The general rule is that you need enough money to cover ALL expenses AND pay yourself well for the first year or two. Otherwise you find yourself scrambling from one underbid job to another, doing things on the cheap and costing you more time and money, putting yourself under too much stress to think right. . . Without the stress you are free to be creative in your marketing and not take those underpaying jobs that do not pay enough. Many people think they must buy their way into a market but this is absolutely WRONG for a small business. Once you become known for doing work on the cheap you will always be known for doing work on the cheap. . .

Capital also includes the money necessary to buy or rent the tools and equipment necessary for that one or two years. To be competitive in today's International market you need to be very productive and that mean the right tools and machinery and the knowledge to use them. A modern blacksmith shop looks more like a machine shop than a romantic "village smithy".

Something my Dad told me years ago and it seems to be true is that you cannot make a good living in a business without employees. There are several reasons for this. First, you can only produce so much yourself AND second, people will not pay an individual but so much for their time no matter how skilled or talented they are. Depending on your field and location this may not pay all your expenses and keep you in business. Once you have employees you are no longer so much a tradesman or artist craftsman as a manager. You are also responsible for your employees as if they were your children.

So to do it RIGHT you need in advance (not borrowed) rent, wages, utilities, taxes, insurance, advertising funds . . . for a minimum of a year, better for two. Prior to this you need education and skills of various sorts.

As a Hobby blacksmithing costs as much as you want to put into it. Good usable anvils can still be had for $100 to $200 but I have also been given anvils by strangers! I built my first forge for less than $20 (today's prices) and fueled it with left over coal from a retired coal bin. I used "found" hammers that simply needed new handles and scrap for materials. Some chisels, files and a hacksaw and you are in business. Many folks world wide have no more tools than that and a few make a living with them. A good vise makes life much easier but as this Chinese Work Holding Bench and our December discussion on wooden equipment shows a LOT can be done with little money and some imagination OR knowledge.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/04/12 10:44:52 EST

Types of Steel :
Jake, This can be a very complicated subject. I highly recommend you obtain an old copy of Machinery's Handbook and study the section on steels. Another good book on the subject is the COSIRA book, Metals for Engineering Craftsman. THEN there is brass, bronze, aluminum. . .

Steels are identified by a variety of systems, each with a special area of focus and ALL with lots of overlap. The most common system that was later adopted and incorporated into their systems by others is the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) system. In this system most steels are defined by four numbers in two pairs. SAE 1020 is a common carbon steel with 20 points (0.20%) of carbon (the second pair of numbers identifying the amount of carbon). This is also known as "mild steel". SAE 4140 is a Chrome Manganese steel with 40 points of carbon. This system tells you directly the amount of carbon and thus the general hardenability. The more carbon the harder the steel. The first numbers indicate the alloy. Alloying changes hadeneability and generally increases toughness as well as a hint to cost.

Another system is the ASTM (American Society of Testing Materials) standard. ASTM numbers have nothing to do with anything other than as a reference. ASTM standards are performance and testing standards. They tell you how strong something should be and how to test it. ASTM standards are a complicated web of standards one referring to many others. Example, a steel standard will say Yield 50,000 PSI tested with X device described in another ASTM standard using methods in yet another ASTM standard all under definitions in the ASTM standard definitions book and each of them referring to other ASTM standards . . . I have a few of these but it takes a library full to be of significant use. Some University libraries carry the entire set if you are interested.

ASTM A-36 is a performance and testing standard for the structural steel grade often sold as "Mild Steel". There are many others that apply to structurals and plate but this is the commonly referred to standard. ASTM A-36 is a wider tolerance steel than the SAE grade. Steel sellers often lump the two together as if they are the same, they are NOT. The common grade of SAE steel used for general purposes is SAE 1018-20 (That means a range of carbon from 18 to 20 points). This is a "killed" silicon steel that is very ductile and fairly easily machinable. A-36 can have up to 30 points carbon and is made with a lot of scrap. It machines but is difficult to get a fine finish. It forges well but should not be quenched else it will become too hard and brittle. SAE 1018-20 hardens much less thus is not nearly so problematic if quenched. But it does harden some and should not be quenched from high heat.

Some SAE steels are tool steels such as the SAE 4140 mentioned above and SAE 1095 (also known as music wire or spring steel). There are ASTM standards covering tool steels but they are rarely mentioned except when discussing quality control at the manufacturer.

Most common tool steels go by a Letter number combination with a bit of easily understood symbolism. A2 is an Air hardening grade. O1 is a common oil hardening grade and often sold as "drill rod". W1 and W2 are water hardening steels. M (high Manganese) steels are HSS (High Speed Steel) grade. S7 is a common shock resistant steel that many blacksmiths use for making hot work tools. H13 is a hot work steel also used to make hot work tools and dies.

There are tens of thousands of steels. I've listed just a few of the most common found in the shop.

See also Where to Buy Steel and the links on that page to Steel Product Types, Junkyard Steel and Wrought Iron.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/04/12 12:06:40 EST

Williamsburg Style handrail : I need to educate myself on what the Williamsburg style iron work is. I've seen books for French wrought iron, English, etc but not sure what the Williamsburg wrought iron has as a basic element or style. I guess I don't know what makes it Williamsburg style.

Does anybody know of any good books out there I can buy to get information, ideas. Got a railing to build for a client and he's wanting to stick to traditional Williamsburg styling as that is how is office was built. I'm not looking to copy ideas or designs but want to learn the basic elementst that make it uniquely Williamsburg.
   Shawn Kelly - Wednesday, 01/04/12 11:36:06 EST

Buying steel: Most ornamental work is done with mild steel or A36. What I do is to go to my local steel dealer (which is a local windmill repair and construction business that sells steel on the side cheaper than the local lumberyard!) and ask for x number of pieces of y sized hot rolled sq stock. It generally comes in 20' lengths so be prepared to cut it out in the parking lot or pay for them to cut it down.

Hot rolled is generally the cheapest and as it's going through the forge anyway paying extra for surface finish and work hardening that will disappear as soon as it gets to red is a waste of funds.

Tools and blades are made from higher carbon steels which tend to be much more expensive to buy and harder to work as they are pickier about their forging ranges and harder under the hammer.

If you are going to *sell* a tool or blade you should be able to state *EXACTLY* what alloy it was made from so junkyard steel is a bit of a guessing game. I buy most of my higher alloy steels at Blacksmith Conferences or from machine shops with known alloy drops.
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 01/04/12 13:31:55 EST

Williamsburg Style :
Shawn, "Williamsburg Style" ironwork is actually 18th Century English and French. It varies a great deal, occasionally designed by the architect but not always. Most is relatively light as iron was mostly imported and very expensive. Top rail was often laminated (a half round on a rectangle) rather than a forged section. Being all wrought iron the designs did not have hard sharp bent corners and were frequently forge welded. Most was relatively simple but this varied according to the wealth of the establishment. But iron railings were also rare, there being more today than during the Colonial era.

Fluer-dis-lis were a common element as were pineapples in Colonial decoration. Fine spiral scrolls were common. See our Peter Ross Demo on iForge for an element of an 18th century gate.

I did a search on Bookfinder.com for books on "Colonial Williamsburg Architecture" and came up with some promising titles. But you never know. Photographs of buildings rarely focus on the ironwork.

From the booklet The Blacksmith in 18th Century Williamsburg pages 16 and 17.
However, when the "public hospital, for persons of insane and disordered minds" was built in Williamgsburg in 1171, the removable iron gratings and padlocks to be installed on all the windows were imported from England. . . Similarly, wrought-iron gates and balconies on the public buildings of Williamsburg appear to have been ordered from England. . .

Likewise the elaborate gates at Westover Plantation were made for William Byrd II in England. A "Set of Iron Palisades and Gates curiously wrought" sold as part of a prize cargo in Norfolk in 1848, probably came from France.
. . .
One reason given for importing ironwork for these large jobs may have been that local smiths were not equipped to handle them; more likely the importation was politically wise since manufacturing in the colonies was discouraged by the British government.

Under sketches of two gates, Ornamental ironwork is less charasteristic of the colonial Virgina scene than of Charleston, South Carolina, and New Orleans. Nevertheless, there are some survivals, none finer than these two gates at Westover plantation on the James River.
The gates are similar in style to those made by Josh Greenwood for a Virgina home on the James River. See Greenwood portfolio images 3 and 4, William Massey Gates.

The best way to get a feel for the style would be to make a trip to Colonial Williansburg. This is an excellent time for it as the weather is very non-turisty in January and February and there are no crowds. While a ticket is a bit pricey you don't need one to tour the outside of the buildings in the historic district as it is public space.

One thing one must remember about CW is that it is a 1930's to 1960's restoration and much of it reflects 1950's ideals rather than 1750's reality. Restorers often relied on the distorted engravings from Diderot of French works. The best way to get the "look" is to use all "traditional" joinery, forge welds, tennons, rivets and collars.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/04/12 13:36:11 EST

More Colonial. . :
I talked to Josh about what he has studied. He too says most of the old stuff is gone and what you are looking at is largely replacements. He could sight only one published photo of an original railing and it was rusted to pieces. He says the tendency on hand rails was for the top rail to be quite light and sometimes forged to a shape with a raised center but often they were flat. Tenons were forged at angles to be perpendicular to the top rail. Generally there was no bottom rail, each picket leaded into the steps. This is a problem today if you intend to meet the code on spacing.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/04/12 16:45:01 EST

ISTR a book on the ironwork of old Philadelphia. I will try to find it on my shelves.
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 01/04/12 18:52:56 EST

Thomas, I'd be interested to see that book, I'm sure Stewart as well.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 01/04/12 18:57:36 EST

I have a William Foster anvil that was made in 1817. Any idea where the anvil was made??? My grandfather used it for several years and no one in the family knows where he got it. May have been in the Buckner family even longer. Thanks. Joe Johnson, Candler, NC
   - Joe Johnson - Wednesday, 01/04/12 19:54:38 EST

I have a William Foster anvil made in 1817. Any idea where it was made? It belonged to my mom's dad and may have belonged to his dad. Thanks for any help or referencees.
   - Joe Johnson - Wednesday, 01/04/12 19:56:48 EST

William Foster Anvils :
These are an English made anvil from the era when all new anvils used in the US were imported from England. It is made the old way, built up from wrought iron, starting with a large rectangular block onto which feet are added, then horn and heel. The final step prior to hardening and grinding being to forge weld on a high carbon steel top plate. All this work was done with sledge hammers and hand hammers (the fine dressing).

While Foster's are not uncommon the major makers were Mousehole Forge and Peter Wright followed by a number of others.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/04/12 20:56:13 EST

Collecting the official steel specifications *would* be an expensive hobby, and online sources are not very consistent. But I'm pretty sure that SAE 1018/20 means that the steel meets both specs. From what I can tell, the two grades have overlapping carbon ranges -- I've seen at least one source that lists the *same* range for both. The biggest difference seems to be that 1018 has more manganese (but again the ranges overlap).

I think of the SAE grades as names that describe some characteristics of the steel, rather than as definitions. Sort of the way the number assigned to a gun tells you the diameter of the barrel -- but does very little to explain the difference between a .22 and a .223 or a .38 and a .380. (Of course, I know even less about guns than I do about steel . . .)
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 01/04/12 21:58:30 EST

Philadelphia Ironwork : Thomas, Were you perhaps thinking of a book called Ironwork, Measured Drawings by Wm. Alan Dunn? I'm afraid that I don't have a publisher handy as I only have a photocopied version. Nip, If Stewart does not have a copy of the book have him give me a call and we'll arrange something. Some of the work in that volume is cast iron or a mix of cast and wrought.
   - SGensh - Wednesday, 01/04/12 22:03:52 EST

Actually the SAE numbers DO tell you the difference. Given that 1040 is a plain carbon steel with 40 points of carbon and 4140 is a Chrome manganese steel with the same amount of carbon is similar to a .22 being a rather plain .22" caliber bullet with a straight case and a .222 being a .22 caliber rifle bullet on a necked much larger (much higher power - about 10x the powder) case. In fact the SAE numbers are more concise as gun sizes are more like trade names rather than a systematized naming convention.

Wow. . . the last time I handled a .22 was 50 years ago at summer camp. . . A single shot lever action rifle.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/04/12 22:10:54 EST

Philadelphia Iron : The book is "Colonial Ironwork in Old Philadelphia" by Philip B Wallace, in paperback, 160 pages and lots of good photos. Check your bookfinders on line.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 01/04/12 23:19:59 EST

Jock-Did you get the email I sent you last night regarding a fabricated anvil? I'm asking as I'm not sure I have the most current email address for you. If not, I will fill out the contact form and resend the information.

   - Patrick Nowak - Wednesday, 01/04/12 23:39:50 EST

Jock-Did you get the email I sent you last night regarding the fabricated anvil? I ask because I'm not sure I have your most current email address.
   Patrick Nowak - Wednesday, 01/04/12 23:42:17 EST

What do you guys think about this one:


   - Nabiul Haque - Wednesday, 01/04/12 23:52:58 EST

Is it cheeper to use coal or propane for forging? Which is more efficient?
   Kevin-W - Thursday, 01/05/12 04:25:24 EST

Kevin : coal is cheaper...and quieter
   larry H - Thursday, 01/05/12 05:03:17 EST

Coal or Propane : If you make your own charcoal it is cheaper yet. My fuel costs are only what it costs me to scavenge wood. A lot of it is picked up on my way to and from work.
   Milton - Thursday, 01/05/12 06:52:59 EST

Email address :
No-mail. Be sure to send it to my dot NET. address.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/05/12 08:42:43 EST

slack tub pub : i have tried to regester for the slack tub pub and have receved nothing back could some one check to let me know if it regestered. my email is thundermoon69@gmail.com
   thundermoon - Thursday, 01/05/12 09:51:34 EST

successful blacksmith : Behind every successful, self employed , artist-blacksmith is usually a wife with a good job.
   - danny arnold - Thursday, 01/05/12 10:07:49 EST

Old Sears Lathe : Nabuil, That is an early model with non-standard controls (feed from the end of the bed). I THINK that there a back shaft missing. There is some documentation on this lathe out on the web if you look for it. Be sure all the parts are there.

I do not see many attachments or the standard loose pieces for the lathe. The standard parts are a face plate and two 60° centers (on to fit the spindle, the other the tail stock). To go with these there is usually a drive dog or two. It DOES have two chucks which is a good start.

An commonly needed attachment that is difficult to make is a steady rest. See below:

Face plates can be found or made. I'm not sure what the spindle size is on this lathe, probably 1"-8 TPI. In that case you find a 1" nut, weld a steel disk to it, then machine true in the lathe. Sometimes you need to machine a relief in the nut to start.

Remember that this is a long abandoned machine and there are NO new parts for it. Some standard things will fit such as centers tool holders and change gears. Anything else will need to be made. Keep this in mind when considering the price.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/05/12 10:31:47 EST

Lathe : Nabiul,

That doesn't look too bad at all - far better than trying to make your own. In your area that may be about as good as you can hope for.

It's a bit small, but looks to be decently made, and parts should be available on Ebay and places like that if needed. If it all works, i'd say that's a fair deal.
   Rich Waugh - Thursday, 01/05/12 10:36:42 EST

Coal vs. Propane :
Those who have tested commercially forging with coal and propane doing similar jobs have seen no difference in cost. Lump charcoal is priced similarly.

Coal should be cheaper but it is not. The fuel guys have everything rigged today so that every BTU of every fuel is based on oil.

Each fuel has its advantages. Coal is hotter and more flexible but dirty. Propane is clean, convienient and difficult to burn work with. Most smiths find that they need both in their shop if they do a wide variety of work.

Charcoal has the advantage that you can make it yourself almost anywhere in the world that there are trees. It also burns nearly as clean as gas and nearly as hot as coal. Due to its light weight it takes a large volume of fuel. It also produces a lot of light ash and some varieties clouds of fire fleas that are as bad as arc welding sputter balls.

Everything has pros and cons. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 01/05/12 10:40:50 EST

Here we go.... thanks Frank!

   - Nippulini - Thursday, 01/05/12 10:55:18 EST

Small Lathe :
If it works it could be a good learning experience. Putting these things on a good solid bench makes a HUGE difference. Get it setup right, use it. Then trade up. If you invest in attachments many will work on another machine OR increase the value of the one you are selling.

I tend to get too attached to my machinery. . many folks buy, sell and trade up constantly. You go from a beat up 25 pound little giant to a Nazel 3B in steps. . . Get some use out of a machine, make a little money with it, then move on.

While these small lathes are not particularly money makers they can make a lot of parts for other machines and are great for model work as well as craft work such as jewelery or shiny decorative bits for ironwork. .
   - guru - Thursday, 01/05/12 11:03:22 EST

Small lathes : Will do everything Jock said, and more. They can be a great way to make rather exact mandrels for making clapper dies, for instance. In fact, almost the first use I put my 12" Craftsman lathe to was making a mandrel to sink into a clapper die to forge some shutter dogs - I had to make 140 of them and the clapper dies saved me enough time on that job to more than pay for the lathe. I've also used it to make mandrels for other dies, hundreds of tenons for a cabinet pull job, various prototype pieces, etc. Not to mention all the other machinery I own that I have made replacement parts for using that lathe, at least in part. When you own as much orphaned equipment as I do, often the only option is to make parts yourself.
   Rich Waugh - Thursday, 01/05/12 17:06:53 EST

Bench Lathe Benches :
You would not think so but much work done on a lathe is out of balance. Lots of holes are bored off center in rectangular or round pieces. Blocks that cannot be easily centered are faced and other off center out of balance work. These jobs are often capable of lifting a bench lathe off the bench.

The bench is also the mounting place for motor and back shaft if you have one. These need to be sturdily fixed relative to the lathe.

I've seen small 6" bench lathes bolted to a heavy chest of drawers and shake the piece of furniture apart after a few hours use. I've seen them on steel work cabinets topped with a piece of 1/4" plate and still shake and vibrate. I've also seen them mounted on picnic tables. .

The two best stands for small lathes that I've seen were in our shop and made of steel. One my Dad designed from materials on hand was made of 6" standard channel. It had three legs and a top cross bar made of channel and a spreader shelf made of angle iron with a piece of plywood fill. 1/4" Steel plates were welded to the top for the lathe to bolt to and plate for the feet. The third leg was under the plate supporting the motor and back shaft.

The one I built has been featured here numerous times but not in its entirety. . .

6" Craftsman 180 Series Lathe on HD stand.
Normally there is a 2 drawer tool chest full of tools on the shelf.

This stand is made from misc scrap structurals plus plate bought specifically for the stand. The top is made of a piece of H-beam on its side with plates welded to it. It was notched on the top for a built in chip pan and torched on the bottom to add some decoration. The legs are 4" x 3/8" angle. More angle made a support for a semi triangular shelf. The head plate has slots milled in it for adjusting the motor and back shaft. The lathe bolts down at three points and the base has three legs spread well apart.

The stand weighs an estimated 300+ pounds and the lathe only 100. . . Add the tools an bits on the shelf and you have nearly 500 pounds! This is probably the ultimate in bench lathe stands. The only thing better would be for the base to be filled with various sized drawers for holding tools, materials and attachments. Hmmmm. . maybe add a coolant tank and pump.

A heavy wooden bench would also be satisfactory. I would build it using bolted legs and diagonals to resist twisting and vibration the way I did my Woodworkers' Work Bench. Finish well so the wood does not become oil soaked and stained. A chip pan could be made of wood but should be lined with sheet metal as lathe chips will remove the best finish in no time.

   - guru - Thursday, 01/05/12 18:36:00 EST

Lathe Stands : The stand for my 12" Atlas/Craftsman is made form 3"x3/8" angle for the legs and top frame and a piece of 1/2" plate for the top/ There's a lower shelf of 1/4" plate supported on 1-1/2" x 1/4" angle iron. The two spare chucks, face late and various wrenches live there, adding a hundred pounds or so to the 200-300# of stand. The only thing mine has to recommend it over any other design is that it has industrial-duty precision leveling feet - a lathe will only be accurate if it is reasonably level, say within a minute of angle or less. My shop floor is so cockeyed that the leveling feet were an absolute necessity, though even with a perfectly flat floor you need some way to level a lathe. Possibly overkill in the case of my old Craftsman, but a good lathe demands being leveled precisely.
   Rich - Thursday, 01/05/12 22:22:12 EST

Leveling Machinery : The primary reason for leveling a lathe is to prevent distorting the frame. When bolting a machine down, or even under its own weight the frame will distort. I've seen machines twisted out of straight 3/8" (10mm) when bolting down due to someone misreading turns on a dial indicator! Its easy to do the same with a lathe with four feet. The little 6" Atlas/Craftsman lathes had three point bolting to avoid twisting the ways. The reason for the high accuracy level is so that twist can be detected across the short direction of the ways which even on a large lathe is not a great distance and only a few inches on a small lathe.

Other reasons for leveling machinery is so that parts are not moving up and down hill and coolant flows to the drains. The precision machinery level I have is marked in .0005 increments per foot and can be read to about half of that. . Ridiculous accuracy.

On the Kingston Lathe we put in the shop I had them add heavy 3/4" x 3 base plates to level against. The lathe came with leveling screws but they dug into the concrete and were impossible to control the adjustment. So we added the plates. Took 1/4 the time to make the plates and level the lathe as had been wasted up to that point. . . Its a good piece of machinery that needs a home.

On one of our early machine tests (with customers watching) we took a rough cut on a 40" diameter surface and came back to take a fine half thousandth finishing cut after lunch. . . The machine took the right cut where setup but was taking off over ten times the half thou (.005" (.13mm)) on the far side of the work! This was a huge difference and a heavy cut on a part that was just supposed to be refinished by taking the absolute minimum off! VERY embarrassing.

After a bunch of study, head scratching and checking for loose parts and anything we could think of my brother went to climb up on the machine and noticed a distinctly warm spot on the side of the machine. In fact the whole side of the machine was fairly warm. . . The problem was right above his head, a forced air heating duct discharging on the machine in the cold of winter where the average shop temperature was probably 50°F (10°C)! The heat had been running full blast while we were at lunch and distorted the machine between the two cuts! We taped a cardboard deflector on the heating duct and after a couple hours the problem went away.

Think about that when working on machinery where sun may shine on part of it or heat or AC blow on it. . . Working with a space heater? You can also distort work the same way or by having coolant run on a warm stationary part that normally rotates. You can rest your hand on a cool shaft for a few minutes and distort it an easily measurable amount. Leveling is NOTHING compared to uneven temperatures on a machine tool.
   - guru - Friday, 01/06/12 01:08:44 EST

Things you can do with a Lathe : For many years we lived in an old 10 bedroom mansion. All the hardware from locks and lighting fixtures to plumbing was pretty much first class. Solid brass, silver plated. . . My Dad said we could not afford to keep the plumbing maintained without that little Craftsman lathe. Hundred year old valve seats were remachined, corroded screws drilled out and holes retaped, bushings and adaptors made. . .

Tasks most folks don't realize can be done with a Lathe is free form turning similar to wood. Pointed lathe tools are manually manipulated on two axiis then files used to smooth the shapes and then sand paper to polish. Curves and tapers such as on machine handles can be free hand turned. Decorative spindle turnings such as on candlesticks can be made directly in metal. And shapes such as Rich mentioned for making dies. Besides free hand turning the same techniques can be used to finish decorative spindle castings.

On the other hand materials you think of as being turned free hand such as wood can be precision turned and bored using the same techniques as metals. Then there is stone and fireable ceramics called lava-stone.

Punches and dies for presses and hand tools can be machined from tool steel and finish ground after hardening. However, if you are careful grinding can be avoided.

Besides cylindrical, conical and spherical shapes, rectangles and cubes can be machined and trued. With the right attachments light milling of slots can be performed but milling is very limited and not a good reason to purchase a lathe (nor a mill-drill OR a lathe/mill). IF you want to do milling, look for a milling machine not a composite or half way machine.

When restoring old lathes I've made numerous parts using the same lathe the parts were for!
   - guru - Friday, 01/06/12 01:15:47 EST

More. . . : Spinning, friction cutting (disks held against a faceplate), winding coils. . I've turned candle cup dies and tenons on bar for candle pans to rivet to. . .

One popular use of these little lathes at one time was turning DC generator and motor armatures. DC auto generators often needed the armature coppers turned smooth and then the mica relieved. Both were done on little 6" and up lathes. Special Jacobs armature chucks were sold to support the outboard end.

In the 40's and 50's various machinery model kits were popular and most could be completed with a 6" Atlas/Craftsman lathe and milling attachment. These included operating steam engines AND a steam power hammer kit. The little lathes were also popular with professional model makers, especially when working patent models were still required.

Besides a few attachments you need some precision measuring tools to get good use out of any machine tool. The minimum is a pair of 0-1" (0-25mm) micrometers OR a top quality 0-6" Dial Caliper (my preferred measuring tool). If doing repairs or rework on a lathe a dial indicator may be a necessity. It is also helpful to have a thread gauge. Most shop manuals show the tools necessary and how to use them. Like other tools these come with time, as you find them OR as you can afford them.
   - guru - Friday, 01/06/12 10:17:59 EST

Danny Arnold : My wife says I'm self-unemployed.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 01/06/12 10:39:46 EST

The Blacksmith and His Supporting Wife :
I've heard this many times and it is often true BUT in the economy of the last 30 years or so very few could afford to be single income families. This is combined with the starving artist factor (a category many smiths have fit into).

Mistakes Starving Artists make:

1) Insisting on living far from a market for their work.
2) Insisting on doing the work they want, not what sells in their market.
3) Undercharging for their work. You CANNOT low-ball yourself into a market. Once you are labeled cheap it sticks. Rich customers like to brag about TWO things. How much more they paid for something and how little they paid for something. You want to be the on the high side of this bragadario.
4) Late delivery. The rich (the only clients an artist craftsperson can afford) are a small tight nit group. Screw up with one (because you underbid the job) and all will know.

The above does not include being under capitalized which is another issue. But it pressures one to underbid AND contributes to late delivery. I've seen artist craftsfolk take on other jobs to finance finishing another. . . If you cannot afford to finish a job there is something wrong in your business model. Simply not being able to wait to get paid is a capital issue.

The above applies to fine artists doing commissioned work and to craftsfolk making production products. A blacksmith doing custom work or work for a gallery or craft shop is an "Artist Blacksmith" and falls right into this category.

   - guru - Friday, 01/06/12 13:14:39 EST

Anvil : Saw this on the internet today and wondering if anyone has any experience with this anvil.
300 lb from Grizzly
   gvmnt45 - Friday, 01/06/12 13:42:27 EST

Machine leveling : My lathe at home, a roughly 5000# lodge and Shipley sits on 2" thick leveling plates the leveling screws rest one. it also is bolted with decent sized anchors through the very same plates.
At VOGT were used plates under every lveling screw of every machine, simply because as The Guru notes concrete does not resist the screw for long. We had 80,000# machines sitting on concrete, and these all had plates under the screws, most oftem 3" thick boiler plate drops from our boiler shop. They got a shallow center for the screw.
When we moved the shops, i scrapped a couple of machines, and one thing I harvested was the level plates 16" square from 3" thick plate. That was 12 years ago, and I still have some :)

Speaking of machine moving, In that same old shop we had a seven story city block sized machine shop. The tool and die shop was on the 7th floor. This shop was next to a city block sized forge shop, with drop hammers to 25,000# On the 7th floor, we had a lovely 1940's vintage 24" Monarch engine lathe. Probably 50,000# or so. LOTS of cast steel in all the right places. The toolmakers took get fun in showing me how, when the big hammer next door hit, the coffee would jump straight up out of a vending machine cup about 3", hang and then fall back in the cup, and never spill a drop. They laughed that that was a good test, as the "Cheap Japanese" machine that had recently bought would spill coffee since they were not rigid!
They knew the rythem of the hammer, and pulled out of the cut, let the monster hit its pattern, then they would lay back into the cut. The pull out in a few minutes when it was time for the next billet. Made high precision tools like that for about 70 years.
   ptree - Friday, 01/06/12 14:25:42 EST

Anvil : gvmnt45,

I've never used one, but just looking at the ad I notice good and bad.

The price is good.

The shape of the horn???????????

Nowhere is there any technical info on what/how it is made or heat treated. It's all puff. It MAY be excellent, but I wouldn't touch it without actually touching and testing the thing in person.

You have been warned.

   Rudy - Friday, 01/06/12 14:30:59 EST

Anvil correction : Dang, Read then post, read then post, read then post.

Correction: The ad does say machined cast iron. In my opinion, still not enough info to justify a blind buy.
   Rudy - Friday, 01/06/12 14:36:12 EST

"these brawny cast iron anvils" all you need to know. Not an Anvil but an ASO!

Colonial Ironwork in Old Philadelphia---that's the one; but ISTR my copy as being a hardback (ahh the Dover reprint is in paper and is listed for under US$10 at abebooks.com---including shipping.)

Sorry I'm late on it; spent yesterday flat on my back in bed and not by choice.
   Thomas P - Friday, 01/06/12 14:46:01 EST

Grizzly and Cast Iron ASO's The only thing good to say about Grizzly anvils is they honestly say what they are. Many others DO NOT.

Cast iron anvils have been sold for hundreds of years. For every old cast iron anvil you see there are hundreds of old wrought anvils. Why? In general people knew better than to buy the cheap cast iron anvils AND they do not hold up long enough to become a good OLD anvil. . .

One major difference between THEN and NOW is that the old cast iron anvils were sold next to wrought anvils and steel faced cast iron anvils. The first was the most expensive and almost always fully warranted. The steel faced cast iron anvils were sold as "economy anvils" for about 30% less than wrought anvils and often had a warranty. The cast iron anvils were sold as "farm" anvils (an insult to farmers) and priced at half or less than wrought anvils. They had no warranty. Given a choice people bought the better anvils.

Today the cast iron and low grade steel anvils are sold as "professional quality" and often misrepresented as heat treated steel anvils. The people that sell them carry nothing else so there is no side by side comparison OR choice. You have to look elsewhere for a choice.

If you want a decent anvil buy one from one of the blacksmith tool dealers that advertise here OR look for a good OLD anvil. The worst, broken beat up old wrought anvil is a infinitely better tool than a shiny new cast iron ASO. Many can still be had for $100 to $200 if you search. Many now sell for more than NEW anvils because of their quality as tools and investments. Don't be scared by these prices there are still good deals out there.
   - guru - Friday, 01/06/12 15:44:07 EST

Grizzly Anvil : The thing is a joke, right? I mean, a cast iron anvil-shaped anchor that is almost guaranteed to break off at the hardy hole the first time someone hits the tail with a sledge, a horn shaped like a disfigured ducks bill, no pritchel hole and, worst of all, it's painted green. To top it all off, the thing is selling for as much as some decent used anvils of a quality several orders of magnitude higher. Honestly, I wouldn't have it in my shop even if it was given to me - too heavy to move around and worthless as anything but dead weight.
   Rich Waugh - Friday, 01/06/12 16:36:53 EST

Sadly, They are not a joke and in a couple more decades these and many others like them will be a large portion of the used anvil market. . .

The problem is that many sellers know they can sell ANYTHING to gullible gringos and not get enough complaint or returns to effect their bottom line.

WORSE, I would LOVE to be able to get castings made and delivered for $1/pound but I refuse to go to China or India to have products made. At the $1/pound retail these have to cost Grizzly less than $0.50/pound including the $0.10 to $0.15/lb. shipping from China. In the 1980's I was quoted well over a dollar a pound for ductile iron castings made in the US. Gray cast iron is higher than that now and ductile even more.
   - guru - Friday, 01/06/12 16:57:57 EST

People often say that things were better made in the "old days" which is not necessarily true as it's the better made items that have *survived* and not been tossed in a junkpile or in a scrap drive. As Jock mentions the 1900's Sears catalog sold everything from top of the line to ASO's and it's the survival of the good that colours our impression of the old stuff.

Bought a couple of old spud wrenches today at the fleamarket---2 for $5 dealer told me they were for Model Ts. Turns out his uncle had used one working on his Model T and so it must be a Model T wrench...
   Thomas P - Friday, 01/06/12 17:21:58 EST

I would say that some things were made better in the "Olden" days. I would offer that the very best engine lathes were in the 1950-1960s. While some lower cost lathes were made the cheapies were even pretty darn good. The best were the best ever seen or likely to be seen. The same stands true in all of the hand controlled machine tools.

When NC and then CNC controls came out the machine tool makers quickly changed from making machines designed to last a century in hard use to amaking machines that would last as long as the controls were current and supported. That would be a 5 to 10 year life. Machines moved from cast, milled and scraped ways with massive cast and seasoned frames to fabricated frames, filled with polymer concrete and linear bearing ways.
One minor wreck and the accuracy is gone. A major wreck and the machine is done till sent back to the factory, and in most cases cheaper to scrap.

In the 90's at VOGT, we started taking fine old machines, massively built manual machines capable of taking a good heavy repeatable cut all day long, and adding CNC controls. Then we had 100 year life machines with 5 year controls. When the controls went to la-la land we just replaced them with a new processor. We had vertical turning lathes that were 20 foot beds that would hog off huge big blue chips, all day and night, repeatably, and do it on CNC control, so one operator could run 2 machines.
We were starting to retrofit Warner Swasey cam/switch feed turning centers to CNC when we were sold out.
   ptree - Friday, 01/06/12 20:50:19 EST

The Peak of the Machine Toll Era :
That Lodge and Shipley you have very likely has parts may father designed as well as being made on tooling he designed. They were one of the great old makers who constantly redesigned their machines to be better and more durable than the competition year after year. My father was just one of a long line of designers and engineers that constantly improved these machines.

In the power hammer field the last Fairbanks hammers had heavier frames and precision tapered gib ram guide adjustments. They were fantastic machines built to last many lifetimes of round the clock service. Sadly I had to pass on one at a time when I was too broke to do anything. . .

Simply retrofitting digital readouts greatly increases the productivity of a job shop machine and reduces scrap. This is especially true on milling machines.
   - guru - Friday, 01/06/12 21:16:32 EST

Plates and Leveling :
There are a number of ways to level a machine. At one time must machines were set on studs anchored in concrete with shims to level. Then the machine was grouted in with non-shrinking grout. It works fairly well but the shimming is tedious. When you install shims you need to tighten the bolts/nuts down against them to compress the stack, then check the level and reshim. This is done over and over until the tightened down machine is level. Usually the shims are a minimum of 3x3" with a slot for the stud. Some are 1/4" plate and the thin ones 0.005" (.13mm). You need to make up quite a selection to start.

In other cases levelers are made into the machine. For relatively light machines a nut above and below a flange alows adjustment up and down as well as locking. Some of this type have ball and socket feet. For heavy machines wedge type levelers are used. The good ones also have round backs on the wedges to be self truing. I've also designed flanges with set screws on two sides of a central hold down. These must bear on a steel plate.

Today many machines are mounted on rubber anti-vibration pads. These assume the machine is rigid enough an by putting it on a flexible base it will not be warped. this is more suitable for single base machines than for double base and legged machines.

There are lots of ways to level machines but all usually require some preparation or involve some expense as well as time.
   - guru - Friday, 01/06/12 22:15:49 EST

Changing Times : Why is it when products were made in the old days, they were generally very well made and pride was taken in quality craftsmanship ? Now that it is possible to replace manually made goods with CNC mass produced products, the quality declines ? For example, a friend of mine has an old ocillating fan that was made in the 1930's, and still works good. When I was a little boy, my parents bought a refrigerator ( Wizard ), which still worked very good when I became a grown man. We still have a Wizard fan that was purchased when I was a little boy, still works good. Some friends of mine have antique ceiling fans that were taken out
of old office buildings, these fans were probably made in the 40's, possibly even the 30's ( just guessing ) still work good. I know many of you have machines and tools that were made years ago and handed down to you, still high quality.
   Mike T. - Saturday, 01/07/12 06:28:12 EST

Overseas perspective : Please help me. I don't have the background most of you have in USA. I read:
From the booklet The Blacksmith in 18th Century Williamsburg pages 16 and 17.
However, when the "public hospital, for persons of insane and disordered minds" was built in Williamgsburg in 1171,

So, when was it moved to DC?
   philip in china - Saturday, 01/07/12 07:00:30 EST

Good idea? : I was making some anvil tooling today. My usual method is to make the tool and then weld a stake on the base to fit the hardie hole. This time I used the hub from a scrap axle as the tool base and forged a fe winches of the axle down to the hardie size. This obviates the weld holding the shank. My welding isn't good so I thought it was pretty neat.
   philip in china - Saturday, 01/07/12 07:03:58 EST

Grizzly anvil : Look at the dimensions of that anvil in the advert. If those are accurate there is no way it weighs 300 pounds.
   philip in china - Saturday, 01/07/12 07:50:05 EST

Welded Shanks :
When this works its a good idea when not its not a good idea. Depending on the steel welds to tool steel can be weak and break.

Generally hardie tools are one piece. If you have a power hammer making them from larger stock is easy (thought you had one . . ). Forging down is generally always easier than upsetting. If you use a stop block clamped to your lower die you can make very accurate shanks over and over.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/07/12 08:59:12 EST

Hot Punching and Chiseling : I was wondering what the best method of punching a hole through a fairly large piece of metal (for a hammer) without losing the temper on the punch. My tool just gets too hot and I immediately lose my temper. Eventually I ended up using some scrap and just pounding it through, but how do you all do it? Thanks,
   - Eric - Saturday, 01/07/12 09:36:28 EST

also- I have tried dipping the tools constantly in water, am I just using too small of a tool for the job?
   - Eric - Saturday, 01/07/12 09:38:12 EST

Eric, A tool encased in forging temp metal will always quickly become very hot. For punching something like a hammer, the tool needs to be quenched every 2 or three blows max. Maybe 4 blows but not more. There are fantastic industrial forge lubes that allow much greater penetration per each blow, and reduce tool wear. BUT, and this is a fixed, can't get around the physics, if you hammer a punch into hot steel, the punch is in almost perfect contact with the hot mass and becomes hot itself. The better alloy hot work tool steels retain strength to higher temp's but also become hot. When the punch reaches a limit temp, it will mushroom on the next blow and stick,or bend, period.

So the answer is to avoid finding the limit temp for the punch you are using. Water is one of the very best materials to remove heat as it flashes to steam and that pulls huge amounts of energy from the quenched item. A water based forge lube that has the water flash to steam cooling the tool and that leaves a solid film lubricant is the current optimum for punching. In industry where tool changes on a upsetter or press can cost many thousands of dollars, the the tooling rework cost can be a thousand dollars EACH, is where you will find the best lubricants in use. You will NOT find coal dust, never-seize, axle grease etc. You will find graphite in water(Older tech) and alkaline salt based solid films borne in water as the carrier and quenchant.

Good luck
   ptree - Saturday, 01/07/12 10:20:18 EST

Guru, I knew your Dad had worked for L&S. Mine is vintage about 1967, and is a massive, tool makers engine lathe,(14.5" X 56") that is perhaps the very zenith of engine lathe design-quality-construction. I was proud to save this machine from the scrapper. It took several years to replace the vari-speed DC drive with a retro-fit, since all of the old drive was past its 10 year supported life:(. Never fear, it has a vari-speed MECHANICAL drive to the spindle now, and with any care will be someones pride and joy for maybe another century.
   ptree - Saturday, 01/07/12 10:24:29 EST

1. The public hospital, for persons of insane and disordered minds, was a general relocation, it was dispersed to all of the capitals of the world in pretty uniform fashion, about 1172.

2. I often make anvil tools from axle and usually forge mine solid since the US standard for axle steels for the last 60 years or so is a very hard to weld well. These modern steels in the US and Europe, and also spec'ed by the Japanese makers are 1040H and 1541H depending on size. These steels are optimized to allow "Scanning induction heat treat",and be quenched with polymer modified water. They will quench crack in a blink if mishandled. they usually require temper not more then 45 minutes after heat treat and quench. If you have sudden cross section size change, and water quench to dead cold, you can often hear the quench cracking :)
I always oil quench mine. I have made hot cut hardies, oil quenched and drawn to a light straw color. This gives a nice STUDENT grade hardy, as it will be just softer than a decent hammer. and a sharp file will return the edge in a few strokes:)
   ptree - Saturday, 01/07/12 10:31:57 EST

I've got a few peices of steel laying around and am thinking about making knives with drawn-out handles.(Draw it out till its 1/4 inch then bend to suit somfortable grip)I've got plow-disc, (which I'll plasma cut into strips), lawn mower blades, plow sweep edges, and 3 different grades of tool steel shaft. What's be the weak point of the knife? The taper to 1/4 or the handle in general? I don't want to hadndraw a peice of 2 inch round to 1/4 inch thickness
   - Hayden H - Saturday, 01/07/12 19:57:51 EST

Steel Grades : I usually think of grades such as 1020 or 4140 as AISI, rather than SAE. (AISI = American Iron and Steel Institute, while SAE = Society of Automotive Engineers. But, I'm viewing them from having been a metallurgist in major steel mills. I remember at least one time looking at some grade of steel and seeing that the SAE ranges for chemistry did not match the AISI ranges - it's been quite some time, so I do not remember the grade, and that may no longer be true.
If you came to me looking for a heat of 1018/1020 steel, I'd assume that you wanted a restricted chemistry that would meet the requirements of both grades - I'd charge accordingly (more, since I have to control the chemistry more tightly), but you would only have to stock 1 heat and could sell it to meet either grade. It's fairly common for 316 and 304 stainless to be produced so that it meets both the open specification and the requirements for the low carbon variations, known as 316L and304L.
In addition to AISI, SAE, and ASTM specifications for steel there are still US government specifications - usually starting with MIL, AMS (aerospace material specifications), JAS - from Japan, DIN - from Germany, etc. There is a nice very large book with a title along the lines of worldwide equivalent grades of iron and steel (it's at work and I'm at home) - it includes Japanese, Chinese, Russian, various European, Brazilian, as well as American from various sources. I'm sure I've missed nationalities as well. It's a good 4 or 5 inches thick.

For a quick intro to some metallurgy, go to www dot paaba dot net, click on the projects selection and go to the Weekend Metallurgist by Don Klesser, a metallurgist. It's good basic information. There are also a lot of other good projects on the project page. I'm not Don, but am a memeber of PAABA - Pittsburgh Area Artists Blacksmith's Association.
   - Gavainh - Saturday, 01/07/12 21:56:12 EST

anvil : Thanks for all the input. As the saying goes.. If seams too good to be true.....
Just getting started in all this. Just build my 1st forge. Just got 6.5 feet of railroad track and am starting to build an anvil with it. Not just carve one but sections welded together to make something custom. Going to be designing and building some bigger tools too. (Day job is mechanical engineer/designer). Need something to get away from the computer and get a bit dirty!!! BTW Name is Peter and I am in the Chicago area.
   gvmnt45 - Sunday, 01/08/12 01:32:54 EST

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