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 February 16 - 21, 2011 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Hello everyone, I had some questions I'd like to ask. Lately I've been researching to forge brazing and hardening mild steel via lye quenching and the Super Quench method. First, how can mild steel be hardened with an extra aggressive(fast cooling rate) quench when mild steel with low enough carbon content dosen't have sufficent carbon content to enlongate the iron matrix and fully form martensite? Why does cooling it any faster make a difference? Also, I havn't been able to find a whole lot of information about using lye(sodium hydroxide) water as a quenching medium. Theres alot of piticulars I'm not sure about. I would be real interested in learning more about this hardening mild steel stuff.

For the forge brazing side of it - How does borax flux work with brazing using copper and brass? Do you prep. and flux similarly as if you were going to make a forge weld? I apolagize for all the loaded questions, but I have strugle to find very much info with these two sujects.
Thank you.
   RM Howell - Wednesday, 02/16/11 00:21:54 EST

I'm not expert on the subject and I'm going on materials science courses (a lot of which I've forgotten), but my understanding is that the hardness of steel is dependent on the weight percent martensite present. There is no point where the "entire" piece is martensite, but rather there is a point where the piece is as hard as it can get when 100% of the martensite that can form, has formed. This is where the fast cooling makes a difference, the alloying of iron-carbon changes how quickly it transforms into its different phases so I'd imagine that having a low carbon content makes the decomposition of austenite into perlite or bainite much more rapid.

Take a look at this example isotermal ferrite-carbon transformation diagram: http://metallurgyfordummies.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/T-T-T-Diagram2.gif

The longer the cooling takes from eutectoid temperature, the greater percent pearlite and bainite will be formed. To ensure the formation of all the martensite that is possible, the cooling line (i.e. drop in temperature vs. time) must miss the entire curved region of the graph and go straight down below the martensite line.

However you need to explain more clearly how hard is "hard" to you and what is "low carbon" to you? You would be surprised though at how hard carbon steels as low as 0.17% can become, although it will never become a cutting steel at 48HRC (untempered), it will however experience an improment in most of its engineering properties. In a lab last semester I also witnessed values of 59HRC (untempered) and 63HRC (untempered) for 0.4% and 1% carbon steels respectively. Although these values did significantly drop after a tempering procedure.
   Nabiul Haque - Wednesday, 02/16/11 01:11:49 EST

RM, ANY amount of carbon in steel makes it hardenable to a degree. The softest commercial grade of steel, SAE 1008 is about the only low carbon steel that does not harden to a great extent but there IS a recommended annealing process for it in my heat treater's guide. High quality mild steel (1018-1020) has ten to twelve points more carbon and does harden somewhat. However, it is very heat sensitive and loses much of its hardness if tempered. Standard practice is to case harden it. Today "mild steel" is commonly A36 structural steel which has up to 32 points carbon and has an as-hardened hardness of 52 HRC. So, there is mild steel and there is "mild" steel.

There is so much hardenable spring steel material available cheap of free that using mild steel for things that need to be hardened is a huge waste of time and effort.

Brazing is brazing in a forge or out. You start with clean material and flux it early to prevent oxidation. Apply your spelter or brass and when it melts and flows into the joint by capillary action its done. Borax is the coating on coated brazing rods, the powder used for torch brazing and the same when used in the forge.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/16/11 01:21:32 EST

Guru,
The above spelter reminds me of an idea I had ( most ideas are not original ) Make a damascus or pattern welded knife,
etch it deep, then apply a spelter of silver, then place it on a belt grinder, grind off the excess silver, leaving the remaining silver in the grooves of the pattern. Of course silver and brass could be used together as well.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 02/16/11 02:49:11 EST

There is a web site that has been mentioned before on this board...www.aescustomknives.com, Ariel Salaverria from Buenos Aires is the most artistic knife maker, using techniques mentioned above. He not only went to different knife schools but artistic knife schools, everyone likes a good knife, but I think we like beautiful knives even more.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 02/16/11 02:58:54 EST

This is interesting, case hardening hammers.

http://aescustomknives.com/docs/tutorial15.htm
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 02/16/11 04:18:33 EST

For a very light or low use tool that may be OK but hammers tend to deform (mushroom) if too soft and having a hard surface will just result in cracking. Case hardening is generally used for light bearing surfaces to increase life or to parts that do not need high strength but need wear resistance. The steel (1030) in the linked demonstration should harden close to the stated hardness without case hardening. The case would only be .006".
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/16/11 08:13:34 EST

I have been thinking about making a black powder rifle from scratch. McMaster Carr has military grade tubing...I would use the 4130 .5 inside diameter with .25 outside walls. I would like to put rifelings in the tube with a broach, thread the end and screw it in a block of steel that could withstand the pressure. I have thought about this for a couple of years and have made drawings. The 4130 tubing is shipped annealed. Shooting cast lead bullets. Any input appreciated.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 02/16/11 09:28:22 EST

Thanks,found a group in Newport RI
   John Thompson - Wednesday, 02/16/11 09:53:45 EST

Mike, If you keep the tube round and not convert to octagon it might be OK. I'd have to do some research otherwise. Normally the breach plug fits internal threads. I would definitely do some remote testing (remote test site, long string, sand bags. . .) before firing by hand.

The old rifling machines were pretty primitive and built from mostly wood. I've seen both antiques and modern made the same way. The best source of information I had on all this was an old Dixie Gun Works catalog. I've got a more recent one that does not have the same articles. But the information is out there. I think one or more of the Foxfire books had some articles on the subject.

   - guru - Wednesday, 02/16/11 10:06:48 EST

Last weekend I went over to Alabama and bought a post vise. The guy I bought it from used to blacksmithing and I was talking to him about anvils. Well he said I could take my anvil to a machine shop and get it resurfaced. Will this work? It will probaly cost me a pretty penny, because I got my flywheel resurfaced and it cost me $50. Has anyone ever done this before? Im not sure what type on anvil I have, I know its not cast iron, I tested it with my hammer.
   Dillon - Wednesday, 02/16/11 10:26:00 EST

Mike T.,
I think the suggestion of getting Dixie Gun Works catalog is where to begin. I believe they sell a book on how to make an old fashioned rifleing machine. The Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia used to sell a 55 minute video on the 1770's methods of making a flintlock, featuring Wallace Gusler. It is very good, even to the point of showing the barrel being forge welded, bored, polished, and rifled. A 1972 hard-to-find book contains old reprints from "The American Rifleman," titled "The Complete Rehabilitation of the Flintlock Rifle," articles by T.B.Tryon. It gives helpful insights and terminology. Hershel House has out some videos on flintlsock making.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/16/11 11:46:04 EST

Guru and Frank,
Thank you for the input. Yes, I would definitely test the rifle with a long string and put a hot powder charge in just to make sure it could withstand the pressure. I have tried and tried to get some company to sell me rifling broaches, but they will not respond to my e-mails. I think they only want large orders from barrel makers. I also thought about using small grind rocks, would have to pass them through the barrel many, many times. Yes, Guru I looked at the old time rifling machine in the Foxfire book and want to make one similar to it. I could make drawings and take them to the machine shop and have it built ( have them cut a spiral in a tube or pipe with the twist reflecting the twist I want in the barrel.) I was thinking, with a .5 diameter bore and riflings cut .01", .01 from the bottom of the rifling across the diameter to the bottom of the opposite rifling, should produce a .52 caliber ? Knight muzzle loading rifles are .52 calibers and they claim they have more velocity and knockdown power than a regular .50 caliber. You can drive a piece of soft lead into the muzzel, push it out and measure it with a micrometer and send the measurement to the RCBS reloading company and they can make molds for you to cast the bullets. Dixie Gunworks is a great company, I think it is located in Union City, Tenn. I would like go go over there and look at all of their stuff.
I would even like to make my own gunpowder. Build a hopper, line it with straw, get dung out of an old barn, put it on the straw and slowly pour water over it, leaching the potassium nitrate out of it, pour the liquid on a sheet of plastic and let the sun dry it out, leaving the potassium nitrate crystals. I even found a site that shows how to purify the nitrate. I had an official Union army formula on the ratio of sulphur, nitrate and charcoal ( willow charcoal is the best ), but can't find it or the online site anymore. The Confederates went down to Mexico and dug guano out of the bat caves to make their nitrate. In France during the Napoleonic wars, there were outhouses along the alley ways, each outhouse had a drawer that held the dung, a wagon would come along dump the dung into the wagon and then take it to a place where the nitrate was extracted. I love history and how our ancestors made things. Speaking of home made guns, my nephew ( he is in the NCIS ) made a home made cannon out of a large piece of pipe, it sits on a frame with wheels, he fills the chamber with acetylene, packs the wadding in etc. I have seen it shoot over the top of a tall oak tree and all the way across a soybean field ! He has gotten pretty accurate with it.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 02/16/11 12:53:12 EST

Helve... got a piece of 2"x2" 3/8" wall 5' long. Going to prototype with wood to work out bugs.
   - Keith - Wednesday, 02/16/11 15:09:07 EST

Rifeling: I do not know how modern gun makers do it but a friend had an old machine that came out of a WWII Army armoury that was built on a lathe bed but worked almost identical as the old wooden rifling machines. They used a single point hand ground cutter that is drawn through the barrel numerous times and indexed to make multiple grooves. There is no broach. The spirals are created on the drum by several methods I've seen. 1) Hand cutting grooves in the wood, 2) screwing on spiral metal ribs 3) Twisting a square bar to make a spiral draw bar.

Making your own powder can be very hazardous. It can explode if mixed dry and can explode from grinding pressure after mixed. Three stories:

When I was in high school

the chemistry book had us make potassium nitrate from potassium chloride and sodium nitrate. First operation was to grind the two into fine powder using a mortar and pestle. There are other processes but the two chemicals WANT to be KNO4 and NaCl so bad that they combine when in close contact. The book warned of contaminating the mortar with sulfur. However, the NEXT experiment required grinding sulfur. Knowing how sloppily maintained the public school equipment was maintained I pointed out to my chemistry teacher that this looked dangerous and irresponsible to me. . . I was terrible with the mathematical parts of chemistry but I knew my reactions and combination as well as having a spent a misspent youth trying to make gun powder. . .

Well, the next day, shortly after lunch BOOM! And several of the windows in the chemistry classroom were blown out into the court yard. . . A mortar and pestle had blown up while in use. The girl doing the grinding was not seriously hurt but we enjoyed a break while the emergency folks responded.

At the DuPont Powder Works

in Wilmington, Delaware all the powder mills were three sided buildings with 10 to 12 foot or more thick walls. The open wall faced the river and the roof was sheet metal resting loose on metal beams. When, and they did so repeatedly, the powder ignited and blew up the force of the explosion blasted the roof covering into the air and expelled the mass of flaming powder mostly out into the river. Occasionally one mill exploding would send a spark to another. . The mill operators kept an eye on things through slits in the wall but had to occasionally moisten the powder as it was ground. Injury and death were a normal part of the operation. In 1859 Five building blew up and seven workers were killed. In 1864 six buildings were lost and 10 men killed. . . In 1907 at the Fontanet Indiana works 30 were killed, 250 injured, others could not be found or identified and every building in town was leveled. The "modern" DuPont mills were considered much safer than mills in other countries.

Paw-Paw had numerous containers of blackpowder

which I inherited. . I found a good used steel ammo-box and put the powder there and put it in a "safe place" out in the shop. Sometime later I went looking for it to donate to a local reenactor group. Couldn't find it. . . Looked everywhere. . . So I started asking questions. We had some of Paw-Paw's relatives helping clean the shop and they were hauling a bunch of stuff away for us. Apparently someone took a liking to the little ammo case and had taken it without looking inside. . . My questions got back to the guilty party. The powder had been riding in the trunk of their car for several months. . . Now THAT could have been a surprise.

If you insist on making your own you can buy potassium nitrate earmarked for agricultural purposes. . . Are you going to mine your own sulfur? I recommend you buy your powder and handle it safely.

A film canister half full of powder will launch a 5 pound ball from a mortar nearly 1000 yards.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/16/11 15:11:41 EST

Anvil "Resurfacing" Dillon, you can ruin a perfectly good anvil by having a machine shop "fix" it. On old wrought anvils the face is only about 1/2" thick and may have been ground thinner when originally manufactured. On solid steel anvils the hardening is greatest on the surface and drops off rapidly as you get into the anvil.

You can easily end up with 1/4" or less plate or hard material and a ruined anvil.

I've seen many ruined anvils that were "fixed" for purely cosmetic reasons. . . Once this happens it can cost as much in materials (no labor) as a good used anvil would cost, to repair the thing. Add the labor and you could have bought a nice new anvil.

Dust it off and USE it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/16/11 15:22:26 EST

I read where the old man Dupont noticed that he was having too many explosions in the powder mills. He studied and found that the operators had a lever operated deadman clutch to the mill and would watch the mill for dryness. Those operators worked till the batch was done, often 12+ hours and so had a stool to sit on. Those experienced operators could fall asleep, and hold the lever. Dupont designed a new safety stool, having only one leg. The operator could rest, but has to stay awake to balance and if he fell asleep, he would fall over dropping the drive lever.

Dupont developed the Dupont safety system, know as one of the earlist workable safety systems in the the country. They still lead in the safety industry.
   - ptree - Wednesday, 02/16/11 15:27:50 EST

Pipe is definitely NOT the material of choice for a rifle or cannon barrel! Most readily available pipe is welded and can easily rupture at the seam after a few firings, even with acetylene as the propellant. Metals work harden when subjected to stresses from expanding gases, whether from burning gunpowder, black powder or acetylene, and ultimately the metal can get rather brittle and fracture creating flying shrapnel. Seamless tubing of suitable wall thickness and appropriate alloy has the capability of withstanding the forces involved if chosen carefully - pipe does not. Solid bar that is bored is another way to make a safe barrel.

"Overproofing" a barrel is a touchy operation. The more you over-stress a barrel by subjecting it to hot loads, the more likely it is to fail later when using a normal load. With black powder I would guess that the danger of this would be less than when using a faster burning powder but the danger will still be there. This is definitely an area where do-it-yourself can easily result in a Darwinian resolution. I'd rate it about as safe as teaching yourself skydiving. :-)
   - Rich - Wednesday, 02/16/11 16:26:44 EST

Rich, I gained a U.S. Air Force job skill to pack and maintain ejection seat systems including the parachutes that were the man saver. I gained this certification by Correspondence coursework:)

Now the pilots of the RF-4's that carried 2 of those seats came to the parachute shop to complain about this risking their safety when they found out. I asked them, ask the fellows in this shop how many parachutes they had packed that had been used, and they did. All of the school trained riggers had packed none that had been fired in anger. I then asked them if any of the riggers had ever jumped one of their own packed chutes and got a resounding no. Same answer when asked if willing to jump one of theirs. The pilots were now starting to get a clue. They asked me how many I had jumped and I was able at that time to answer something like 550, and that I had packed maybe 10,000 that had been used and 20+ used as a last resort:)

Self taught? Not quite, I had a whole 8 hours on the first jump training and perhaps 8 hours on packing.
Now to get the training to be a jumpmaster took weeks of prep, and a full weekend of workshop, same for the instructor certification.

And Yes I agree wholeheartly about seamless pipe gunpowder and Darwinian selection.
Ptree who has burst tested several hundred test sections of pipe and tube from 1/8" schedule 40 to 10" by 1.125 wall seamless. ( boy was blowing up things and getting PAID for it fun!)
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/16/11 18:46:23 EST

Mike T
For you first project I might humbly suggest buying a rifled barrel blank. I would venture that will be considerably less than what a machine shop will have to charge you to make whatever your rifling machine set-up is.

I know little to nothing about making a rifle, but I have worked in tool rooms and machine shops since 1964 and I know what they have to charge for 'tinkering around' jobs coming in the front door.

Not trying to discourage you necessarily but to prevent you from becoming discouraged.
   - Tom H - Wednesday, 02/16/11 18:55:12 EST

I live in Arundel, Maine (207)590-6170 I'm 65. I have a power hammer I'd like to sell it is a 250# bement miles circa 1830 it was originally steam powered I changed it to a Ron Coleman setup it is all together and cycles but still needs some time spent . I don't know how to sell it any ideas?
   larry matthews - Wednesday, 02/16/11 20:27:15 EST

I got to see first hand how muzzle loader barrels were "bored" and rifled at the Kempton Gunmaker's fair last summer. http://www.dixonmuzzleloading.com/ The rifling cutter is a small bit that resembles a little chunk of file, it has numerous teeth, and is about 1/2" long. The indexing spiral was made of wood, about 4" in diameter. The cutter was advanced into the work by adding a shim made of cigarett paper [Zig Zag] after all the grooves had been cut. There is a pattern used when indexing the barrel to the next cut, this averages out the wear of the parts to end up with all grooves being uniform depth. Rate of spiral was 1 turn in the length of the barrel, this places the cutter on top at each end of the stroke. The barrel rotates to index between grooves.

The barrel material was the softest, leaded free machining steel available, sufficient strength comes from wall thickness, not alloyed hard to cut material.

The boring operation was more of a scraping operation, after the initial drilling. Once again the cutter was advanced with cigarett paper shims.

A friend has been asking Me to build Him the boring and rifling jigs for years, I am reluctant to start on these projects as He is a dreamer, and needs to learn a lot before He gets to making His own barrels.

I suggested He build some rifles from available manufactured parts first, then build everything but the barrel Himself before attempting the whole thing from scratch.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 02/16/11 20:46:45 EST

hi i am very new to blacksmithing and just purchased my first anvil new (a Rigid Peddinghaus model 12) and after getting it home and unloaded thought to myself that it just looks a little too tall so i pulled up the spec sheet on my phone and measured every dimension of the anvil is just as it is listed on peddinghaus's and rigid tool's website except the height is 13.5 inches or i could believe 13.25 as my tape is old but i know it is not off by a whole inch. i don't see how this could possibly hurt the anvil but is this just a known typo on the spec sheet? has any one else noticed this little difference? or is there some rule i don't know about how to measure an anvil's height? i dont remember anything in the anvil faq on this site. anyway just wondering

btw i an very happy w my purchase this anvil rings when all i do is run my hand over the face i cant wait to use it!!
   DuEulear - Wednesday, 02/16/11 20:59:11 EST

Quick one here,,, What might be a safe max temperature to heat a galvinised pipe up to ?
I well know the hazards of zinc fumes by burning zinc, welding temperature that is. But would heating the pipe to the point of the zinc just melting be a significant health hazard?

The plan is to use 3" EMT as an exhaust from an small oil stove.

The current set up made of 12ga stainless sheetmetal gets plenty hot but does not get visibly glowing red where the exhaust pipe exits the burning chamber. I dont expect its more than 5-600 degF or so..
Anyway thanks for any advise.
Sven
   - Sven - Wednesday, 02/16/11 21:05:46 EST

Peddinghaus specs: DuEulear, A few years ago Peddinghaus retooled and the new dies may be a bit different than the old. Depending on where you saw the specs I probably set them up 13 years ago. About 6 years ago when the old hammer dies wore out they stopped producing anvils for about a year and Ridgid wanted to drop the anvil line all together. But they came back with a reduced line of anvils and new dies which might explain the height difference. I suspect that the target weight was more critical than hitting certain dimensions. I'll ask the Kaynes to measure the anvils they have on hand.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/16/11 21:41:10 EST

I have put together a forge and I'm going to start the process of learning how to blacksmith. I live in south-east KS were strip mining was big years ago, so finding coal is not going to be a problem; the problem is that the coal is not good quality. So my question is: is there a way that I can turn my coal into coke before it comes time to use it for forging? I have been told that I can get 1 ton for about $50.
   Adam G - Wednesday, 02/16/11 22:27:50 EST

Zinc Safety Limits: The boiling point of zinc is 907°C (1664°F). Once it boils it also burns in air. It oxidizes at much lower temperatures but not sufficiently to create a significant health hazard.

Visibly glowing red in moderate ambient light is well into the boiling point and burning range of zinc. Burning gases from wood, gas or oil can easily produce 2,000°F exhaust gases. You may want a couple feet of stainless pipe in advance of the sinz to cool the exhaust.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/16/11 22:36:13 EST

Adam, Poor coal does not coke well and produces a slaggy mess, not usable coke. I highly recommend that you purchase at least ONE bag of good coal and try it out so you know what good coal is. THEN, when you go to get that cheap coal do not bring home more than one bucket. I know several smiths with heaps of unusable coal in their yards that will be there forever. . . Test it before you buy.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/16/11 22:49:41 EST

I have not payed for coal yet, all of the stuff that i have tried was stuff that I got for free. I ether piked it up off the ground or I have sum that I have not tried that i got off the RR tracks that are going to the power plant near my home.
   Adam G - Wednesday, 02/16/11 23:47:36 EST

Stress and Proof Testing: My Dad and I used to have discussions on this every time we ran a proof test. Various pieces of equipment such as hoisting equipment are regularly tested at 1.5 times their rated capacity. While that doesn't sound like much its testing a 10 ton crane at 30,000 pounds. . . At those loads pins creak, cables make snapping noises. . . Beams deflect to the point where trolleys roll down the hill and won't go back up. . .

The question IS, does the testing damage the part being tested? Does it reduce the capacity to withstand future overloads?

In one of the Gunsmithing articles I read the author was making gun barrels and would test a short lenght. The test was to thread the barrel at both ends for two breach plugs. It was loaded with powder, fused and set off. It was essentially a pipe bomb that was intended NOT to explode. . . but it could have. It was buried under old tires and sand bags an set off with a LONG fuse. All the force and smoke went out the fuse vent. . . I don't recommend this kind of testing but its what the author did. These days a failed test could be classed as bomb building by the authorities. . . and get you in a LOT of trouble.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/17/11 00:06:37 EST

I found out abut the slaggy mess you mentioned last night, I had 2" of it after 2 hours of smithing.
   Adam G - Thursday, 02/17/11 00:08:34 EST

In the pressure vessel and piping trade here in the US, the ASME codes pretty much set the rules for testing. All pressure vessels and valves fittings etc are hydrostaticly tested to 1.5 times the cold working pressure. In a new boiler system the boiler itself will have been factory tested to 1.5 times CWP. The piping welded in at the powerhouse will also get that 1.5 x CWP. Now the interesting part. a Class 800# system, designed to work at 800 psi and say 850F will have a VWP of 1975 psi, so the system gets an almost 3000 psi test.
I have burst tested huge amounts of the components and since there are industry standards in design a class 800# valve will uniformly fail at about 17,000 to 19,000 psi cold by bonnet leakage, a safe failure.
   - ptree - Thursday, 02/17/11 07:22:27 EST

Guru...got a line on some old shop/ metal/ textbooks and reference books. Which is the best edition(s) of Machinerys for smithing/forging? Any other titles off the top of your head worth grabbing/
   - Keith - Thursday, 02/17/11 16:37:39 EST

Keith, On Machinery's the older the better for old shop methods and equipment, newer (up to the 1980's) are better on some things like heat treating. However, the older editions cover most common alloys.

In general Machinery's is not a blacksmithing reference, it is a technical metal working shop reference. Things like sharpening drill bits, correct cutter speeds, alloy comparisons, shop math (from amalgamation to zinc density).

Generally ALL metal shop/machinist references are valuable. Some old science and engineering references like 1940's CRC handbooks and some books of tables are a bit out dated but often still have value if the price is right.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/17/11 16:50:43 EST

Barrel testing:

Jeff (ptree) mentions something very critical when it comes to testing things for their ability to withstand pressure. Whether it is a gun barrel, a pressure vessel, a valve or your Mom's pressure cooker, the really important thing is the "failure mode." When it fails, will it do so safely or will it kill or maim someone? If a valve fails by having the seal blow out it may leak or even spray the contents into the atmosphere - a fairly, though not completely, safe failure mode. When a rifle barrel fails it may very well spray sharp shrapnel in all directions at speeds in excess of the speed of sound - a very dangerous failure mode.

Compressed gas cylinders, for example, are "hydrotested," a process where they are subjected to excess pressure while filled mostly with water and a small amount of air under pressure. A failure will not be catastrophic as the water will not suddenly expand if the container fails. mall cylinders are often tested while completely submerged in water to contain any failures. Thus they are "safe failure" modes. Cylinders can fail hydrotest without leaking or splitting, too. If a cylinder is pressurized and expands under pressure but does not return to original size when the pressure is released it may be failed since the steel has now been stressed beyond its yield point and is thus more likely to fail in use.

Pressure testing is not something to be done by the amateur hobbyist.

   - Rich - Thursday, 02/17/11 17:00:10 EST

I am so glad Rich noticed that failure mode was mentioned. He makes a very very valid point. Now something to consider. The company had almost 100 years of valve and fitting making experience. They had more like 120 years of boiler making experience. And when they made ANY change to a design, or process the change was proofed in the lab.
And even after 100+ years the high pressure proof and burst tests were conducted in a test cell that seperated the test artical from everything else inculding me.

Now Rich ALMOST has it right on hydro testing. This is a case of what I call science 101 urban myth. In school we all learned that fluids are not compressable. So as taught in school a drop or two and the pressure safely is gone and no harm to the surroundings. When "Hydraulic law" was formulated no equipment operated in the higher pressure I speak of. And no equipment existed to measure if the fluid indeed copmpressed. Real world fact is water will compress. At pressures above 10,000 psi water begins to compress to significant amounts storing very siginifacant energy. The second issue is that water always has disolved air in it and it compresses just like any air. Third, the pressure vessel as it expands also stores energy just like any other elestically deformed material. Last even a tiny amount of trapped air gets compressed and is a huge energy storage area.
At 10,000 psi, a rupture on a pipe of say 2-1/2" od with a 0.320" wall in that mentioned test cell feels and sounds like a half stick of dynamite.
A 10" boiler header of 1.125" wall at 19,900 psi had enough energy in the thrown parts to severely bend a 1/4" plate containment hood. And that was cold water, as well de-bubbled as I could manage. Drew people from several hundred feet away in a multi story factory to see what had blown up.
I have had hunks of return bends that I was bursting thrown into the test cell ceiling and spall out pretty big craters in the concrete. I am talking hand sized hunks.
My lab was only capable to 33,000 psi. With progressive burning smokless powder in a plugged barrel I have no idea what pressure could be approached. I know I once did a test in which a sealed pipe filled with water was run up to 1000F. The pipe did not rupture, but the 10,000psi gage outside the furnace did!
I spent over 20 years doing high pressure testing on a more or less daily basis, and I don't think I would do a proof test on any firearm barrel I would make unless I had a very adaquate test cell, and the equipment to non-destructively test for damage after.
Rich, above not a dig at you my good friend. (Just your high school science teacher:)

Last but not least, My lab was capable to 7500 psi on nitrogen gas. 2500 psi gas scared me far more than 30,000 hydro. Gas expands with a brutual shock wave far outside the blast radius. I believe I remember that a 7.5 psi overpressure wave is usually fatal.
   ptree - Thursday, 02/17/11 18:58:10 EST

Smokeless powder in a plugged barrel: The problem here is that as the pressure gets really high, the powder is no longer "progressive burning". It then detonates, and all hell breaks loose. Dubble base powders are particularly bad in this respect, they are a mixture of nitrocelulose and nitroglycerin. Black powder, while still nothing to be treated casually, does not generate nearly as high a pressure.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 02/17/11 21:25:03 EST

Thanks on the zinc opinion, Planned on EMT as I have access to free good lenghts of it as scrap.
As far as temperature goes, The appliance is a Sigmar model 100 heater, Just an "pot burner" type of set-up, There is no forced air and atomised combustion with these things. http://www.sigmarine.com/
The exhaust should be cool enough before the pipe extends through roof so the weather exposed section should not be damaged so the zinc can do its job against rust.
I really wanted to use a length of 3" copper pipe as it should draw alot more usuable heat out of the exhaustgasses before its wasted to the atmosphere.
Just dont want the high pricetag of Copper or Stainless.
Thanks again.
   - Sven - Thursday, 02/17/11 22:33:11 EST

Close Encounters to Oblivion OR How I avoided the Darwin Award

Or something along that line. . .

Many years ago I was trying to remove an ancient tire rusted to a 1950 two piece 15" truck rim. I had removed "safety" the rim and sledge hammered the tire repeatedly and could not get the rusted tire to move on the wheel. . .

This was one of those late night projects in a shop I rented in the bottom of a split level building. Upstairs was a laundromat and a private detective's office. The detectives were having one of their late night parties with women presumably NOT their wives. I could hear the music. giggles and clinking of glasses.

Meanwhile, I was trying to get this ancient 8 ply tire truck tire unstuck from its rust-weld. So I came up with the bright idea of using air to pop the bead off the tire. I had a lock on remote tire chuck and trigger truck filler-gauge. The "stinger" on the rig had been extended to about eight feet. So I hooked it up, stood back and started filling the tube. The whole was locked down on a small tire changer. . . I took air and took air and as it did so I crept back further and further finally hiding a steel column. As I checked the gauge I could still hear the party going on upstairs over the air compressor.

Somewhere around 15 PSI, a lot higher than I planned on going, there was a loud WHOOMP! Then ringing ears and a VERY quiet quiet. . The party upstairs stopped. Little pieces of black inner tube were stuck to the ceiling and pealing off like dripping goo. Then I heard VERY faint creaking upstairs as the detectives and their visitors tiptoed out. Apparently they didn't want to have to explain to the police what they were doing during the explosion. . . thanks guys!

I wasn't hurt. But half of the inner tube was sprinkled all over the shop. And after all that. . . the tire which had lifted up high enough to let the tube expand to many times its size had snapped back down on the wheel and would STILL not move! I ended up sawing the tire off the wheel the following day.

I was very lucky. Even at a few PSI the force of the tire was hundreds of pounds of force and at 10 PSI about 5,000 pounds. Those detectives didn't come back for over a week. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 02/17/11 23:31:54 EST

I know nothing about big truck tires but I remembered a story that was told to me. There was a tire shop down the street from me that handled big truck tires, tractor and car tires. Apparently a guy in the shop was sitting on a big truck tire while he was airing it up, the rim or whatever came off, and blew him clear to the ceiling. I know now what you were talking about. :)
   Mike T. - Friday, 02/18/11 06:06:52 EST

Guru, a quarry just south of Louisville had their 120' x 60' maintenance shop blown up when a rubber tire loader tire blew up. Killed 2 guys, and blew most of the steel siding off. It also had enough force to damage the conduit bad enough to require a total rewire in the steel structure building.
My wife, when a couple of years out of law school was on the Firestone rim team that defended against all the firestone split rim cases west of the Miss. river. When I inherited the 72 chevy it had split rims. She saw it and I had it at the tire shop getting a set of solid rims the next day:)
   ptree - Friday, 02/18/11 07:20:31 EST

Jeff, thanks for the straight skinny on hydrotesting - all my real-world experience has been with small cylinders (scuba) that were tested to expansion failure while submerged and failed if they showed a certain expansion after yield. Certainly no offense taken - as Pop said, the facts are always friendly.

When testing or designing anything that may involve living things or valuable property you must *always* consider the failure mode. Whether a thing bends or breaks can make a huge difference in someone's health. Things that fail in a catastrophic mode (explode, shatter, deflagrate, detonate, etc) can kill people and/or wreak untold damage to property.

Simple Rule of Thumb: If you can't predict the failure mode with a 99.99% probability of accuracy you have no business trying it at all.

Simpler Rule of Thumb: Whenever you hear, "Hey Vern - hold my beer and watch this!" you should run like hell in the opposite direction.
   - Rich - Friday, 02/18/11 07:26:16 EST

My 1950 Chevy (story above) had 15" split rims. When I bought the truck, a heavy duty 3/4T with 4 speed I thought they looked like 17" rims. Nobody I ever talked to had seen or heard of 15" split rims. . . The ring on these was not the typical split ring but a full circle with two shallow notches. You had to wrangle it off like a tire. Much safer than the later split types but a real pain to get off. I put 5 heavy truck tires on that truck and never changed one again.

When I bought my 3/4 Ton Dodge to replace the Chevy it ALSO had two piece wheels. These were 17" and I had a lot of difficulty finding folks to change them. I was out of the garage business and really didn't have the proper tools for it. I wore out two sets of tires on that truck and then bought replacement one piece wheels at about $125/each. . . for the last set of radial tires I put on that truck. The tires had a lot life left in them (75%) when the tuck was parked and eventually scrapped. . . I miss that truck.

The heavy Ford F-600 I have now has 22" (I think) split rim wheels. Besides folks not liking to change them they are an ODD tire size. Replacing all the wheels on a dual rear wheel truck is a lot of wheels and tires. I only put a couple hundred miles a year on it but when I need it I need it. . .

So every truck I've had came with split rims. I'd love to have tubeless radials on the big truck but that would be about a $2500 investment IF I could find wheels to fit.
   - guru - Friday, 02/18/11 09:25:02 EST

Guru, if I recall correctly, the Firestone standard was that the wheel needed to be in a safety cage or chained and inflated/deflated with a remote system if adding more than 5 psi or deflating.
My wife worked a large number of cases, most fatals.
You can probably find one piece Budd style wheels for that truck.
My 3/4T had 7.50-16s and I found a set of heavy duty one pieces used for a $100 in 1986. I kept the 8 ply bias ply tires till about 5 years ago for the weight capacity. I now have 8.75-16.5s in radial and have about the same rating. Boy what an improvement in ride when cold:)

Rich you speak volumes when you talk about failure mode. And when I see Vern holding a beer in the first place I cut to the chance and just run then:)
   ptree - Friday, 02/18/11 10:27:21 EST

"Safe Failure Modes" . . . Years ago we had a big Sears riding lawn mower with double overlapping mower blades. The blades were geared to be out of sync running 90° from each other. But as a "safety" device they had a zinc shear plate on each blade. If you struck a rock or heavy object the (expesnsive) shear plate would break and the blade free wheel. . .

VERY bad logic. In the seconds after the blade was free to turn by friction the other blade would repeatedly strike the "floater", sometimes breaking ITS shear plate and sometimes breaking the drive gears. In either case there was sparks and flying pieces of blade. It was NOT a safe failure mode for machine, operators or bystanders.

We repaired this mower several times every season including replacing gear boxes and shafts. The last time it was repaired we had to make our own parts. Dad traded it off not long after. I was glad to see it go.
   - guru - Friday, 02/18/11 14:50:25 EST

Back in the 70's I had a push mower and on the rear plate it said " Do not remove this Safety Guard ". Well, every time I pulled the mower backwards and there was a little mound of earth or ball of weeds, etc. the rear guard would catch on it and I would have to pull and jerk the mower backwards. Well, I got tired of doing that and took the rear guard off. Well, I was out mowing and something happened and I jerked the mower back and the blade landed on top of my boot, it chopped the very end of my boot off, and my toes went numb. I ran in the house and was afraid to pull my boot off because I just knew I was missing some toes, and was expecting to see blood and gore. Well, I pulled my boot off and to my surprise everything was still intact, but I learned that these safety warnings are there for a purpose. :)
   Mike T. - Friday, 02/18/11 15:25:23 EST

Guru, we had one of those Sears Yellow riding mowers with those stupid shear plates. Dad traded it for a snapper. Its only quirk was the bolts that haeld the "clutch" tire on were under sized for pre-teens who found out that a rear engine rider in 5th will do an awesome wheely if the clutch is popped. Wallowed out several before he caught on :)
   ptree - Friday, 02/18/11 18:51:24 EST

15" 2 piece rims are an oddball. Chevy used 16" 2 piece rims with the notched ring on 3/4 ton trucks for a lot of years. I remember them, but only had to change tires on them 1 time. It was a bitch.

My Dad's '67 Power Wagon came with 8 X 17.5s these were drop center rims & tubeless tires. After a year or two He went to 16" "Super Single"s a wide tubeless tire on drop center rims for the back. These had an angular contact where the bead met the rim, and they did not center up reliably. These didn't work out so well, I doubt You could get a tire to fit them today.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 02/18/11 20:50:38 EST

Both my old Chevy and the Dodge had 8 bolt wheels. For a while I had a 1950 1/2 ton GMC with 6 bolt 16" wheels. For a while it 10" wide 15" wheels with 60 series tires on it. . . The same wheels fit a 70's Datsun pickup and ended up on one through some kind of deal. . . After the 16" 6 bolt wheels on the GMC I was surprised to find the 15" 8 bolt wheels on a heavier truck from the same year. I had the same wheels on the Portable Blacksmith shop so the spare was interchangeable. But never had a flat on either. I did all the tire work.

On the Dodge I had flats twice. Both times when I had loads too heavy for the jack and both times due to pinched tubes. . . I finally got a hydraulic jack sufficient to lift a loaded truck. Of course now with the F600 there is a very low probability of getting the lugs loose with hand tools. . . The only preparedness for it is cash or a credit card. . .
   - guru - Friday, 02/18/11 23:16:25 EST

PTree,

I think a sealed pipe full of 1000 degree, 10,000 PSI water scares me more than anything else mentioned in this thread. I can't imagine what would happen if all that flashed to steam (though I haven't checked the steam tables -- maybe it was steam already).

I had a friend who worked at a suburban (almost urban) Goodyear. I was waiting for him one time and watched one of the other employees pull in a truck with split rims. I asked him if he had a cage to inflate the tires in. He just laughed, so I decided to wait on the *other* end of the shop. Luckily the supervisor came out and hit the ceiling before he did. . . . They sent the truck off to another store with three wheels on the rear axle. Turned out the kid had never heard of split rims and had no idea what I was talking about.

I have a friend who (sometimes) carries a CO2 bottle with a 100PSI regulator on it. That and an impact wrench might be good preparation for a flat on an F600. But it would probably be cheaper to call a tow truck *if* you get a flat.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 02/19/11 07:11:18 EST

Guru, F-600 lug nuts. They make 12 volt impact wrenches. Of course there is the ever simple blacksmiths solution, longer wrench. I have changed msmy 10.00-20s and bigger on military trucks, in the field and we never had power tools. Just takes a long wrench
   ptree - Saturday, 02/19/11 07:43:48 EST

Well. . . the truck also needs a big under bed tool chest to securely lock up tools and carry almost anything else you need if traveling. . . The cabs on those old trucks don't have much room for two people, much less tools or luggage. More $$$
   - guru - Saturday, 02/19/11 08:17:48 EST

10.00-20's, Dayton style rims meant a 6' pipe on a 1" drive Craftsman ratchet after a lot of road salt in the NE. When the nuts let loose with a SNAP you usually ended up on the ground. Seemed like it was always in the middle of nowhere in the northern Adirondacks at 2:00 AM at 10 below zero. Craftsman was the choice of wrench because of the life time replacement policy no questions asked. I never had one that ever got old! The early non-hubcentric Budds sucked too.
   S K Smith - Saturday, 02/19/11 08:57:54 EST

Mike BR, In our lab we did all sorts of testing, often in support of a customer, who was having failures, sometimes to develope defense data in lawsuits. The sealed pipe was a lawsuit question. I also had to look at every returned valve and fitting that was alledged to be defective.
Got 200 or so 4" flanged 1500# steam valves back once. All only a month or so old, all said to leak. Now these were costly valves say $2000 each, so I open the first crate ready to test to full extent, only to find all the valves in that crate full of what looked to be limestone! Checked and all of the return same way. Now I am talking pack so the gate could not fully close! Call the customer and found these were used in "old oil extraction" They made steam, injected it into the oil field for a couple of days to warm and thin the residue crude and then started pumping as they vented the steam. The water, untreated, used to make the steam came from an alkali lake! I sent them back thru our parkerize line which cleaned them to a tee and tested them, all good. We re-shipped them and informed the customer the valves were fine but to keep the liquid stone out of the water or no returns.
Got another fun one, a 2000psi forged steel 2" tee fitting that was repair welded in the "Crotches" where the branch joined the run. The user said "cracked, bad forging". They complained that they had several to do this. I sent the tee to the MET lab for section and metalagraphic exam. Results no laps, but yes cracked, with several cracks that did not go all the way thru. I get one from stock, same heat code no cracks. Get another and hydro to failure, and that sucker balloned like a watermellon before failure at about 20,000psi. I call our sales guy and ask him to describe the visit when he picked ou the failed tee and to tell me everything he saw. The user was a molding plant for very large plastic parts and this tee was at the end of the hydraulic supply line from a central pump unit. Fed a 48" cylinder at 1000psi. The pipe was about 300' long and he said the press traveled donw about 3' to close on the die in about 15 seconds and then sat for about 3 minutes and then opened. Now I had a clue! Water hammer. That fluid was howling along at very unreasonable velocity, and when the dies closed stopped instantly. The formula for water hammer is such that as the "closing time of the valve approachs zero, the pressure approachs infinety". And this closing time was nearly instantanous.
Set up a test where the fitting was pumped to 10,000 and dropped and this cycle repeated. Took about 6000 cycles or so and crack! Then started playing and at 4500 psi it took about 3000 cycles. And these were slow up from a little pump, not shock waves.
The salesman had mentioned that the tee was there for a gage, but he had to ask the working pressure as the gage had failed:)
I called and spoke to the maintenance mgr. I asked him to mount the pressure gage on a 2" pipe nipple about 3' long up from the floor. He said that he would and he would be sure to bleed all the air out of the verticle. I told him no please leave the air in, and to drain the verticle every week or so to keep it full of air, and I bet him a case of local beer the gage andd tee would last at least a year. I got some nice local beer a year later:)
What made this work the most sastifying and enjoyable I have ever done was the never ending challange of simulating the infa-structure of a huge plant to duplicate thier situation with out the huge infa-structure. I had a 1000 degree furnace and 34psi steam that I could run through a valve in the furnace. I had an autocyle device that could open and close from outside the furnace, and so I could sortof duplicate the feild conditions in very high pressure steam. Had a huge collection of junk from old machines to build up test rigs. But every test was a new challange and took lots of thought since I also had to not hurt myself or my engineering students while make stuff fail.
I was blessed to get a once in a long career job not once but twice! Worked R&D labs at 2 companies.
I miss that work.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/19/11 09:31:36 EST

We built a lot of testing rigs in our shop and the last were actually built for others. All our load handling devices had to be tested and the report sent along with the engineering documents. The most difficult thing I had to do was photograph the test rig so you could see the gauge at test load. . .

I built a load test rig from scrap that is still at the shop. Its about 10 feet tall, the base made from a 40" diameter 4" thick plate that was a "drop". A 50 ton Enerpak hydraulic cylinder was used to produce the tension. It turned out nice for a fixture made from scrap. At the time we had a lot of large round steel drops in the 32 to 44" diameter range and 1" to 2" thick. The base was round and the column flanges cut with curved edges to match. The cylinder tension plate was a big round with two cuts taken off the sides and a slot for the cylinder. The curves made nice strong "arches" at no cost.

The last time the fixture was used was to test a hand forged "knot" for a timber frame tension bar. We tested to full capacity times 1.5 and measured the stretch and before and after lengths.

Another test fixture had half a dozen or more dial indicators on it measuring deflection. We also built run out (TIR) fixtures with Timken bearings and leveling screws. Measured radial and axial run out at the same time. I had to design some little hemispherical buttons to fit the indicator arms so it would slide on some of the rough surfaces. Cute little stainless part.

Like you said. Fun work. Different every time.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/19/11 12:15:52 EST

Threading with a SCREW PLATE
Marc, Guru, Frank T.

I see that this episode of "The Woodwright's Shop" no. 3013 is now online.

http://www.pbs.org/woodwrightsshop/video/3000/3013.html

Peter Ross making hinges for the 'Field Gate'.
Toward the end of the episode, Peter gets into blacksmith type screw plate and tap. Interesting to me and I 'been around the world and to the county fair too!'
It has gotten me on a research kick to thread making and am finding it fascinating.

As I mentioned a while back, Ross sure can do wonders with just a hammer!

If the link is no good, just google it. It is linked now at a few places. Roy Underhill has been a friend of blacksmithing and seems to feature it regularly over the years.
   - Tom H - Saturday, 02/19/11 12:48:19 EST

Tom, Thanks for the link. I have not seen either Roy or Peter in a long time. The adjustable screw plate he was using is different than the old non-adjustable plates. I've got a couple of those long tapered taps and wondered what they were for. . learn something every day.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/19/11 13:56:24 EST

Is there a particular pattern one should use in folding the steel for the blade?? Grain structure is a difference maker in the hardening process. When hammering out and folding the steel, does it make any difference if I fold it only to the right?? Or should it be folded over both left and right??
   Tim Schafer - Saturday, 02/19/11 14:30:06 EST

SCREW PLATES
Guru
I should have differentiated between the blacksmith style adjustable type and the even older style fixed screw plate or "jam plate". In both cases, the thread is more formed than cut.

I have accumulated some old tools over the years and the earliest ones do indeed have 'rolled' or 'formed' thread rather than cut threads.

(And to think that we use a lot of the 'new' type forming taps at work along with conventional cutting taps. What did Solomon say about new things under the sun??)
   - Tom H - Saturday, 02/19/11 16:23:00 EST

Frank Turley re: SCREW PLATE
Sorry Frank. My mind tricked me into mis-remembering that you had commented on the screw plate topic.
Now I can't find what I imagined. Imagine that!
You probably know all about this stuff anyway.

One of the guys at work is writing a book "Going Thru Life As A Idiot" and he promised me my own chapter.
   - Tom H - Saturday, 02/19/11 16:28:53 EST

Pattern Welded Steel: Tim, First, "folding" is a common and fairly inaccurate term. The metal is drawn out, then cut either part way and "folded" or cut entirely and restacked. The results are the same, the difference is the partially cut stack holds itself together. IF you just "fold" the steel you create ends with curving or vertical grain. This would be waste material that you want to cut off.

When partially cut the bar is generally cut into thirds and from opposite sides so the two ends hinge back over the middle. Smiths working with power hammers tend to draw the stock out more and the secondary stacks may be 4, 5, or 6 pieces.

Pattern development is an entirely different thing. Initial lamination produce layers like alternately stacking two colors of paper. Everything is flat and relatively equal thickness. If you are making laminated steel for strength then flat is all you need. Patterns for artistic purposes are developed using many methods.

The simplest pattern is produced by making the stack square, then round and twisting, then forging square of flat again. Forging round helps prevent tears when twisting.

The next pattern is the flame or double twist. In this pattern two pieces are made with twists in opposite directions, squared and then welded back together.

More difficult patterns are created by removing metal by chiseling, sawing, grinding, milling or drilling then forging flat again. When the material is ground the layers initially created now produce a topographic map effect.

Between twisting, stock removeal, forging and rewelding an infinite variety of patterns can be created.

THEN there are the random patterns created by forging wire rope or roller chain (timing chain, motor cycle, bicycle . .).

Get the books, study.

   - guru - Saturday, 02/19/11 16:45:08 EST

Tom H.
The book I like is "Muddling toward Frugality." I know very little about screw plates.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 02/19/11 20:11:13 EST

Thanks for the help. Laminated steel strength is what I'm shooting for, I may use the double twist in a later project. If you could recommend any good books worth purchasing, I'd appreciate it. I don't want to buy something of amateur writer thinking he's a pro.

In an Ideal setting, I'd prefer to be an apprentice under a masters direction. This may still be possible as I recently found out one of my cousins, an elder chap, makes swords every fall.

The only other question I have is on "balancing". I own a few swords and have handled them briefly. Many swords today are unbalanced, and maybe intentionally. It seems that in designing a hilt, one has to take into account equal proportions of building the handle. Like I said, any books on "folding" and "balancing" would appreciated.

   Tim Schafer - Sunday, 02/20/11 20:33:07 EST

Tim, All the books on the subject that I've seen are by pros. However, the technology has been rapidly changing in just the last decade. Not long ago bladesmiths started making laminated and mosaic pattern welded steel in closed stainless tubes to protect from oxidation. Then someone realized that stainless heat treating foil was a better way. Bladesmiths went from using power hammers (as many still do) to hydraulic presses and small McDonald rolling mills. A few folks developed high art "painting" or "drawing" in steel by building shapes in long bars, then cutting slabs and producing work like the Daryl Meier American flag Presidential presentation knife. Then folks worked out using a matrix like pixels on a screen to build letters, words, shapes then draw them out to where the matrix jaggies disappeared.. . High art became a documented process. The developments go on.

For some of the standard references see our sword making and bladsmithing Resources List
   - guru - Sunday, 02/20/11 22:07:49 EST

Jock, don't forget the old "drop of kerosene" trick.

I have seen pictures of the presidential knife. My mind was staggered simply imagining how much work must have gone into making it.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 02/20/11 22:21:16 EST

When Daryl Meier took the commission to produce the American Flag Bowie nobody had done anything like it in over 200 years. There had been some work by others but nothing approaching this scale.

When the Governor of Illinois asked Daryl to make the blade he was tempted to tell him he could not afford it. But instead he said he would make it on the condition that he got to meet the President when it was presented.

When Daryl took the job he did not know how he was going to make it. But he knew the (nearly mythical) history from the French revolution so he knew it could be done. Daryl did lots of tests and samples. When he had successfully completed the USA bar he sawed off a dozen or so slabs and carried them around with him giving them to friends and acquaintances. I wish I had known Daryl then!

When he complete the first flag billets he discovered a problem when etching. One of the stars on the flag was missing. It had become too distorted and blured in the bar. He bar to rebuild the entire flag over again including the difficult star field. This was long before the modern techniques were developed.

Today dozens, maybe hundreds of bladesmiths worldwide are producing this kind of quality work and greater. The difference is that not only do they start knowing it can be done but how it is done. They can spend their time on the art and practicing technique.


The drop of kerosene is used in the stainless tube to absorb and displace any oxygen. Its put in through the vent hole that is also needed for expanding gases and the burning kerosene.

The stainless foil method has no space for air and needs no kerossene.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/20/11 23:50:17 EST

American flag slug.
I think i've told this before. I was standing around at the 1980 Santa Cruz ABANA conference, and Daryl Meier came over to say hello. We visited for a little bit, and then he produced from his pocket a roughly circular slug about the size of a half dollar. It had two American Flags pattern welded in. I was inspecting it and when I turned it over, the same two flags were evident. He then said that he wanted me to keep it. I thanked him profusely, and we parted company.

Immediately afterward, a young man approached me and said that he had been listening and had observed the slug being transferred. He offered me $200 for it, and of course, I told him politely to "twenty-three skidoo." I still have the slug.

I had asked Daryl what his approach was in making the piece. He said something like this, "Well, Frank, every night when i'm in bed and before I go to sleep, I try to construct in my mind's eye how to assemble the parts. I try to figure what size stock, how to draw it, and so forth. Finally, after three or four weeks, I know what to do." Without giving me a lengthy tutorial, that's about all he could say.

   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/21/11 00:13:55 EST

The most I could get out of Daryl is that he did it the hard way.

I believe his technique was the same way used to make inlays and musical instrument rosettes. In this process the wood worker builds up "logs" from strips of wood, sometimes special shapes fitted together, other times just wrapped around a form. The glued up log is then sawed into to thin slices. Some of this work is also done via the matrix method but most is carefully cut and fitted strips combined with laminating with veneer sheets.

The difference in pattern welded steel is that you can work large then forge the pieces down smaller. The trick is forging so as to not distort the pattern OR to carefully distort the pattern the way you want it.
   - guru - Monday, 02/21/11 00:43:38 EST

There is a DVD available from UMBA where Daryl describes how he made the flag and lettering. It looks like a seminar at an ABANA conference. If I recall correctly the stripes were built up but the stars and the letters were wire EDMed out both male and female pcs. The male pc. slid into to the female then the ends were welded almost closed, a drop of kerosene as the flux and then forge welded.
The DVD is well worth getting as there is more about how he got the flags to show on the face of the knife.
   - JNewman - Monday, 02/21/11 08:38:11 EST

Ah. . I forgot about the EDM. . . A few folks still use that process if they have access. The matrix method can replace much of that. Parts can also be made by machining and welded.

The simplest example would be to drill a hole in a block of steel to fit a cylindrical piece of contrasting metal (one with a little nickle). Make the cylinder just a bit longer than the block it fits into. Flux and bring to a welding heat, strike the cylinder to upset it in the block and make the weld, then draw out as needed. This results in a cored bar OR if you are making decorative slabs round dots or a "polka dot". You could also have a core in the core and have a target and bull's eye or a cylindrical multi-layer bar. Want ovals? Flatten the bar OR saw our slabs at an angle. Want a soft core bar with hard exterior? Same process, different metals. Start with round in round the interior bar over half the diameter of the outer. Blades would need to be forged to near net shape to avoid grinding an edge into the soft core.

Ever wonder how they made flux core welding rod or wire solder with multiple flux filled holes? They start with a big short piece, make the holes, fill with flux, cap the ends then start drawing the piece into wire. . . The end result is a little flux filled tube miles long. The same can be done with steel in steel as described above.

As I pointed out, the possibilities are infinite.
   - guru - Monday, 02/21/11 14:59:28 EST

I was under the impression that the flux cored wire I used was a simple rolled, flat into tube with flux laid in just before the C was closed. Mine had a seam.
   ptree - Monday, 02/21/11 19:08:43 EST

Ptree, welding wire may be made that way. I'm sure about the solder and other filled tubes.
   - guru - Monday, 02/21/11 19:44:52 EST

The Fire on The Mountain hammer blacksmith festival in Spruce Pine NC. will be held on April 30th 2011 from 10-4pm.
Tom Latane will be demonstrating and a pig roast at Penland School of Crafts that evening. Missed it last year,Peter Ross forging andirons.
   Greg S - Monday, 02/21/11 21:09:04 EST

[ Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2011 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC



Get anvilfire.com GEAR.















International Ceramics Products