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 22 - 28, 2011 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

hello, new to this site. does anyone know where i could find corkscrew worm blanks for purchase in bulk? thank you
   - bwills - Monday, 02/21/11 22:22:18 EST

Corkscrews: Bwills, Most smiths I know make their own as part of the whole. Is suspect that most manufacturers make their own. Style, weight and termination vary. I also see where the spiral varies and newer screws are much straighter than old types. New synthetic corks have been found to need new screw designs as well. . .

I just looked at four cork screws we have here at home. Two (fairly good quality types) were made from rectangular stock and pinned to the shaft in a rectangular socket. Another similar type was machined like a big wood screw with a special cross section and the last was a "typical" wire with rolled end designed to fold out like one on a Swiss Army Knife. All were chrome plated in assembly except the fold out.

What you might consider a "standard", the wire type with loop are made in various sizes. Those on pocket knives are smaller than those on a dedicated corkscrew. I see now where the better ones are made of flat stock.

I tried Thomas Register (your best bet for actual manufacturers) and got 24 companies, mostly distributors. Those listed as manufacturers included a company listed as a "manufacture of wire products" looked like a possibility (S & S Industries, Bronx, NY).

A google search for "Wine corkscrew parts" and came up with a bunch of folks selling replacement screws for more than I'd pay for several lever type cork screws. . .

Other searches confirmed a feeling I had that many (most) are made in China.

One problem with this type device is that even IF there is a specialty manufacturer just making the screws they will be doing so as a sub contractor for only one or a few companies. IF you find one of these they will either want you to specify the details and or require you purchase thousands.

Good Luck!
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/22/11 09:20:04 EST

At a buck apiece it's hard to go wrong if you want to make a bunch of corkscrews. Even with shipping it's only $1.20/screw

   - Rich - Tuesday, 02/22/11 10:39:52 EST

I forget who recommended it, it was about ayear or so ago. But someone here (Ptree or Frank... I forget) mentioned Etsy.com for selling handmade stuff. Well, so far I have sold a bunch of S hooks, some stainless jewelry and more importantly have received a LOT of publicity surrounding a welded sculpture I made. It has received over 6,000 hits and has been published in about a half dozen websites. Check out http://www.etsy.com/listing/61796333/ for more info.

To whoever suggested it, many thanks!
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 02/22/11 11:19:12 EST

Wow, I did a bunch of searching and did not find that corkscrew link. . .

Wow. . cork catching Champagne pullers. . . I guess it had to come to that since the warning tags to wear protective eye wear when opening champagne bottles. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/22/11 12:55:29 EST

Nip, your welcome.
   ptree - Tuesday, 02/22/11 18:43:24 EST

I'm Baaaaack! Pressure Vessels, Rifling, Swords:

I had a great course in MatSci at Cornell that should have been called "Things Break". It was a study of all the ways things can go wrong in a very bad way.

One example shown was a pressure cylinder that had exploded and driven a good sized chunk through the concrete block wall next to where our Prof was standing at the time.

So of course they did a full work up on it: It had been pressurized with gas to below the max working pressure when it went boom; but it was a "used" cylinder handed down from one grad student to another; so they went through it's history: The original student had designed and made if for a certain gas pressure and had used it safely within it. later another student had over pressurized it; but used fluid to minimize the effect of a catastrophic failure.

This over pressurization had started a crack from a tooling mark inside the cylinder and this crack had slowly propagated during subsequent cycling at *below* the rated pressure. Finally resulting in a brown pants incident for a student who was following the "rules".

It was several years after that class before I could relax going over bridges, flying, riding roller coasters,....I kept wondering if the designer had taken proper account of stress corrosion cracking, hydrogen embrittlement, fatigue, etc...

How deep into the .25 wall would that rifling go and any stress concentrators formed?

As for sword balance---different swords *should* balance at different points---a chopper generally balances forward of where a thruster does. When you have cut and thrust sword the balance point is often a part of the user's preference based on their style. Anyone who tells you that all swords should balance at one point is NOT correct! I have seen swords butchered by adding quite a lot of weight into the hilt to try to bring the balance point back to the guard for a blade that should have it 3 or more inches forward!

What may be more important on a sword are blade harmonics: a sword with a node (zero point) right at the grip will often feel glued to your hand where one that has a max point at the grip will try to leap from your hand. Usually much trickier to design in than balance points!

I will of course commend to your attention "The Complete Bladesmith, The Master Bladesmith, The Pattern Welded Blade" all by James Hrisoulas.

I will also mention that learning the basics of blacksmithing *BEFORE* you go into bladesmithing will *shorten* your road considerably as well as decrease the frustration you undergo traveling it.

As for hands on learning I would commend to your attention classes given by The American Bladesmiths Society.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/22/11 19:18:45 EST

Anybody know about an anvil with markings: GEORG- .A.. OLDRID
   SPW - Tuesday, 02/22/11 20:08:17 EST

Thomas P.
I was thinking the rifling would be cut .01 of an inch. A half inch bore would be .50 I was thinking with 4 riflings, each being spaced 90 deg. apart, that should make a .52 caliber ? Knight muzzel loading rifles claims a .52 has more velocity and knockdown power than a regular .50 caliber. What are your thoughts on this ? I know I can pull a broach through at a desired twist, if I just had a broach, or just anything that would cut. I guess I could use a button ( get a machine shop to make one, or two ) and use a hydraulic press or something to pull it through.
   - Mike T. - Tuesday, 02/22/11 21:20:18 EST

A good website on muzzleloading information and they make and rifle barrels is" cabin creek muzzleloading"
   - Ray Clontz - Tuesday, 02/22/11 21:39:14 EST

Wow.... thanks Guru and Rich. all of this information really helps me out. I'm definitely glad I checked out this forum. Thanks Again

and Nippulini, that is an awesome Bender sculpture you have. Is that a water heater tank torso?
   - bwills - Tuesday, 02/22/11 22:11:07 EST

Why does some steel bend easily and other steel of the same size doesn't? Is it in the heat treating? I need to make some hooks. I want them to be as light as possible but as resistant to bending as possible as well. I have some springs which I could use. They are coil springs which is absolutely ideal since the coil will form the hook so there will be minimal forging to be done. What do I do to minimise their tendency to bend?
   Philip in China - Tuesday, 02/22/11 22:17:15 EST

Phiiip: Forge at orange/yllow heat but don't let them get hot emough to spark. Don'tueng wile working.

To heat treat, heat to above magnetic then quenc in oil or water [try both quenchants on a piece of scrap] use the one that works best. temper at 600f [316c] or dark blue. F this is two brittle, temper hotter.
   - DaveBoyer - Tuesday, 02/22/11 22:43:55 EST

Edit: Don't quench while working
   - DaveBoyer - Tuesday, 02/22/11 22:46:14 EST

Steel Softness: Phillip, Without hardening and added carbon and most alloying ingredients make steel slightly harder and much stiffer. Normalized (heated and air cooled) steel is much harder than annealed, especially steels with more carbon.

If you make your hooks from spring steel they will be a LOT more resistant to bending than made from low carbon key stock or wire. However, you need to be much more careful about thin pieces air hardening or quenching on the anvil. A full heat treat or a careful normalizing is recommended.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/22/11 23:55:46 EST

Anvil ID: SPW, It sounds like a "G.E. Forge and Tool". If its one of those extreme looking farrier anvils that is probably an old GE.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/23/11 00:08:36 EST

Don't forget work hardening done cold after forging as a way to stiffen up mild steel too.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/23/11 14:06:12 EST

Work hardening is why cold finished (drawn or rolled) stock is so much springier than its carbon content would indicate. Work hardening is acute enough in stainless that "un hardenable" 304SS is used for making springs by cold working from the cold drawn wire.

Brass and Steel shim stock have similar work hardened characteristics in. They are both very stiff and springy. Heat and cool in air and the hardness goes away. A lot of things, especially items made of sheet stock rely on that as-delivered work hardening for stiffness. On the other hand, if you have bending jigs designed for annealed or slow cooled hot roll and you change to cold finished the jigs will not work the same due to the much greater amount of spring back.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/23/11 14:34:21 EST

what is the ezeyest way to heat treat a railroad spike and is it even posable
   - clayton - Wednesday, 02/23/11 18:01:13 EST

I've found that water quenching A-36 (at least in relatively thin sections) often hardens it enough to make it quite noticeably more resistant to bending. Of course, A-36 is consistently inconsistent, so what works for one piece of stock won't necessarily work for another. (And I know they don't have A-36 in China, but it seems a good bet that garden variety structural steel there is similar.)

Not the most reliable option, but if you have structural steel hook you're otherwise happy with, quenching it is worth a try.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 02/23/11 20:31:57 EST

After all the solid info given here about trying to convert a wood lathe to a metal lathe(thanks guru and others), I went out and bought a 7" X 11.75" used metal lathe. I was sold by Clark Tool Co. which went bankcrupt back in 2009-10. I've been told the parts and accessories are interchangable with many other brands of small lathes as they are primarily made by one manufacturer in China and painted different colors for the different company's that sell them!? Anyone know the factory or a supplier where I can cross reference this info? Guru, Phillip anyone? Also, thanks for the tip on Darryl Meier's "Flag Knife", I am without words to describe my awe!! And, thank's for posting about Dupont's one legged chair, neat little sidebar....necessity IS the mother of invention.
   Thumper - Wednesday, 02/23/11 22:12:37 EST

Thumper, I found a forum a few years ago on a site where they sold them. Had a factory tour. . . Not sure where but the 12 Chinese lathes are very popular hobby lathes today.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/23/11 23:08:03 EST

can eanyone tell me if a railroad spike can be hardend and if not what is the easeyest or most effecticed way to case harden one . it is an old spike off an old track. i am trying to put an edge on it without it gitting nicks. eany help will be greately appershied
   - clayton - Thursday, 02/24/11 00:09:28 EST

Clayton, Railroad spikes come in two varieties, standard and "high carbon" often marked with an "HC" on the head. The "high" is relative and more like medium carbon in the general vernacular. In other words, neither is very good blade material.

To harden almost any steel, you heat until non magnetic ( a medium red), then quench in brine, water, or oil. The type of steel determines the quenchant. Warm water should work with a spike.

Any time steel has been hardened it should be tempered immediately after. Tempering reduces the hardness a little and the brittleness a lot. To temper, heat to a minimum of 350°F (where clean steel turns a light yellow), up to 650°F (where clean steel turns blue). The higher the temperature the softer the part. In general you want a part the softest it can do its job, even knives.

You can make very hard parts from medium carbon steel but the temper leaves them brittle at high hardness. You can make harder parts with high carbon steel tempered to a higher temperature. Thus, high carbon steels are generally stronger than lower carbon steels. But everything about getting the best performance out of steel is a compromise.

Using RR-spikes is using Junk Yard Steel see the FAQ.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/24/11 00:45:25 EST

Make that three types of RR spikes. I have some wrought iron ones...old! The grain is very noticable after you bead blast the corrosion off. Very cool! Want a picture?
   SKSmith - Thursday, 02/24/11 08:14:56 EST

SK, Yes I would. I had (maybe still have) some old wrought RR rail. I made a couple mini-anvils from it and noticed it torched and arc welded very weird and didn't realize it was wrought until later.

Clayton, a (very rare) wrought iron spike would not respond to heat treating at all and would not even work harden appreciably.

Note that wrought has not been made in a VERY long time and blacksmiths treat their collections (hords?) of it like gold. A decade ago big hard to use scrap pieces were selling for $1/pound. Today it is probably worth three times that. But good reasonable size (up to 2" square) wrought bar stock would be worth much more to those that need it.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/24/11 08:56:14 EST

Chinese Lathes:

And other machine tools from China, made be manufactured in any of a number of factories, or even assembled from parts made in a wider range of smaller factories. Yes, there's a good chance that parts will be interchangeable, and also a chance that they'll just miss fitting by enough to be a real headache. There isn't that much standardization and when they copy machines they often make changes along the way. You pays yer money and takes yer chances, in other words.

On the whole, I've had very good luck with Chinese machinery. I have Chinese machines that are now over thirty years old and have been put to a lot of work over those years. I examine them as carefully as I can before buying and then accept that I may have to make some tweaks or changes to get them really right. I also recognize that I'm not likely to get the same precision from a machine that costs less than half of what a domestically-made machine would. But then, I'm not doing work that requires .0001" tolerances, either - I'm a blacksmith, not a machinist.

If it weren't for the availability of inexpensive Chinese knock-offs of machine tools my shop would be far less well-equipped. I'd prefer to have the better stuff but can't afford it and mostly can't even find it down here in the almost-third world. If a marching band ever passes my shop playing the Chinese national anthem half my shop would get up and march along after it. (grin)
   - Rich - Thursday, 02/24/11 09:50:19 EST

Interchangeability is a funny thing. Back in the 70's I was working on two cars, and old volvo, and a newer Datsun. I had the heads off of both. . . I noticed they were VERY similar. The head gaskets were interchangable. Then I looked closer at the castings. Except for some very minor changes, mostly in machining the Datsun head was made from the Volvo. The rest of the two engines were very similar.

Back in the 80's when my Dad was buying Taiwanese machine tools the Bridgeport mill clones were close enough copies that many parts were being purchased to repair actual Bridgeports. Lead screws, tables, head assemblies. . . It made it difficult to get replacements for the new machines because there was so much demand for those parts to fix old machines.

Where these parts fit the dimensions were often identical and had English threads. But small screws and non-critical things were often metric. Kind of a hodge-podge.

One of the machines Dad bought was a Clausing drill press "clone". Most of it was identical to the original much more expensive but reasonably priced machine that was still in production. However, the motor mount and belt enclosure was such that the motor could not be engaged or adjusted. This machine did not work on the factory floor. It took two machinists in a fairly well equipped shop a week to make and modify parts so the drill could be used. So much for being less expensive. . . Then on the first use the quill return spring broke. The guys in the shop tried to repair it but failed. The machine was out of operation for another two weeks waiting for a spring. When it came time to sell off some tools it was the first to go.

A friend of mine had a lathe made in Brazil. I noticed he had the motor mounted at a very weird angle and asked about it. He had bought the machine new but you could not make it work with the frame interfering with the belts. He managed to get it running but only in one speed. This was a fairly large machine from what he had THOUGHT was a reputable manufacturer. It was another machine, like the drill press above that never worked on the factory floor. .
   - guru - Thursday, 02/24/11 12:17:42 EST

Lathe Parts and Accessories: Thumper, it depends on what you mean by parts. Many lathe accessories are fairly standard but occasionally have to be made to fit. Spindle noses and tapers are relatively standard so you can usually purchase chucks from a variety of manufacturers. Chucks are somewhat of a specialty item that the machine manufacturers often did not make. Thus some standardization. Because spindle noses are often standard you can have face plates and collet holders that fit interchangeably as well.

Tool posts are an accessory item that are made to fit many lathes but just as often have to be modified and fitted to work. Tool holders to go into the old fashioned tool post that I much prefer are a standard off the shelf item.

Steady rests fit the bed over the V ways. Due to there being no standard for lathe beds and there being many different center distances these are a "factory" accessory. I've seen many shop made but no after-market. Parts from "clones" or like machines might fit, might not.

Change gears are mostly standard off the shelf parts but many are specially bushed for the purpose.

Anything else is pretty much factory specific.

Orphan Machines: When a machine is orphaned (old or new) then parts become a DIY affair. I've made numerous lathe parts and had others make them for me. On my old Southbend I made a replacement direction change block and studs using the lathe itself and manual feeds. The three special gears it needed were made by a local shop to my drawing. On the old Porter lathe I'm working on I had Tyler Murch make a replacement tailstock screw and nut. I am making the ram and fitting all the parts. The compound rest needs to have the locking studs torched off and new studs and nuts made. There is also something broken in the apron that makes the power cross feed work. It looks like I'll have to drill out the apron screws to get it apart and then make replacement screws as well as whatever is broken in the apron (suspect a gear).

Its the same with any orphan machine be it is lathe or a power hammer. It often does not matter if the machine was orphaned 50 years ago or last year. All that matters is that the machine is worth repairing. Often they are not but our love of old machines compels us to even when it is not economical.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/24/11 12:39:44 EST

Clayton the easiest way to heat a railroad spike is to place it in the sunlight. This will not get it up to forging temperatures but it will heat it.

The HC RR spikes are spec'd at 27 points carbon with 30 points being the bottom limit for medium carbon steel.

Yes *all* rr spikes can be hardened---you can work harden even the old wrought iron spikes. No this will NOT make a decent knife but it will be hardened.

The easiest way to case harden one is to send it out to a business that does that. It will be QUITE expensive; but it is the easiest!

Personally I have case hardened by filling a piece of black pipe (NOT GALVANIZED) with powdered charcoal and shoving the piece inside it and hammering the ends shut---folding helps and then placing it in a propane forge on the side and then just using the propane forge for forging while it cooks---I can tell you that 30 hours at temp is too much for 3/8 real wrought iron though.

May I suggest you word your questions to get the answers you want? You may know the details of what you have, what you are doing to it and what you want from it. We do not and may have very different assumptions---I use RR spikes only for making tent stakes. If I answer your questions from that viewpoint you will not get good answers WRT knifemaking.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/24/11 12:47:01 EST

In the comercial forging industry, most of the mainstay large machines are orphans. Even those that are not were usually specil orders and while similar, the bearings were fitted, and the retainers, while made from the same casting were also machined to fit.
The machines came with a set of as built drawings and without those the parts get much more expensive.
At the valve shop we had about 450 machines at the end, and of those probably 80% were orphans.
Heck when I started, we had 400 New Britian Chuckers, and by 1983 they were orphaned.
Warner and Swasey was our second most common machine with another 150 or so, and the W&S company was sold to Nippon Air Brake in about 1993, and the US machines became sort of orphans. Many of the old line US machines were closed bankrupt and several companies would buy the rights and inventory and sell parts for very high prices.

We had a full machine shop, manned by 2 to 3 full time machinests to make repair parts.
   ptree - Thursday, 02/24/11 14:09:41 EST

Even though Dad bought a lot of new equipment there were service and orphan problems. Our milling machine was delivered with an American made DRO. The wires were broken on the Y axis scale pickup. MSC did not warrant it so we called the California manufacturer. They wanted to go round and round about every possible problem other than a broken wire even when I told the fellow I'm looking right at it. . . Never got satisfaction out of the SOB.

We replaced the DRO with a Japanese unit. Hitachi I think. Whoever, they were the largest and most popular supplier in the US in the 1980's. We had power surge problems twice and sent the unit back twice for repairs. The third time it had some weird low level chip error that made the read out display at 0.017. . . . times the actual movement. The Japanese company, still in business had pulled out of the US market. No parts, no repairs. My dad used that machine with a calculator preset to the conversion factor for a decade.

As mentioned above, several of the import machines we purchased NEW were as good as orphaned the day we purchased them. The suppliers had no parts and lousy warranty service (shipping both ways on the buyer).

Then look at our industry. Trip Air, Bull Striker. . all gone. And its not just small manufacturers. Have a Saturn automobile? Gone. . .

It used to be if you purchased from a big company you could expect some future assurance of service if need be. . . No more. Sadly, that takes away a LOT of the cache' of buying new. What good is a warranty if the company is gone before it runs out. . . and good luck dealing with the factory in China. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 02/24/11 17:28:53 EST


littlemachineshop.com is a (probably the) starting point. They have parts lists for a number of brands of lathes (not including Clark), but nearly all the parts seem to be the same across the brands. The few parts I've ordered for my Harbor Freight 7X10 have fit.

If it were me, I'd check whether the few dimensions they give look right and then take the gamble of ordering the parts. (They do have a more-or-less fully dimensioned drawing of the spindle. If that matches the one on your lathe, you're probably on the right track.)
   Mike BR - Thursday, 02/24/11 18:20:27 EST

Thanks for all the lathe info. The Clarke, ( I forgot the "e" on the first post), I bought has problems engaging the forward and reverse feed. The gent I bought it from is sending me a complete internal gear setup attached to and including the bed, he bought 30 or so of these demo's, guess he's his own parts house. Anyhow, real honest ebayer and trying like the devil to make good. Looking at the exploded diagram, it doesn't look all that difficult to take apart so I should have fun piddlin' around for a day or 2. I've already used the lathe freewheeling ( no drive), and couldn't be happier with it's performance!!!
   Thumper - Thursday, 02/24/11 19:20:07 EST

MikeBr, I went to that site, and the Grizzly seems to be identicle...cept for color. Maybe mine isn't an orphan, but a shirt-tail relative instead LOL.
   Thumper - Thursday, 02/24/11 19:31:09 EST

A little expansion on the valve shop internal machine repair shop. These machinist/millwrights were pretty talented. They would be handed the burn't up, twisted of galled to heck "parts and then reverse engineer and make the replacement parts for what were then often 80+ year old orphan machines.
I saw many lead screws that had a big chunk of the middle with the threads torn off bent and cooked. These guys would weld up the torn area, straighten, pick up the lead and machine the lead screw threads back into the middle.
They made the dovetail slide inserts for the Eries on the big planer, hobbed gears, milled splines and so forth, and all of them were pretty much self taught. The ability to reverse engineer is a talent more than a taught skill.
Especially when you only have a burn't up item to reverse engineer from:)

One advantage we had over most places, was that we had virtually every type of machine know for a machine shop, a complete sheet metal and plate iron shop, every welding process that can be imagined except explosive, and when the guys needed handbook help a raft of engineers. Also having several foundrys within a few miles, and maybe 10 complete line mill supply houses and the main headquarters of bearing Inc 5 bloocks away helped too.
If we really needed a machine, we could almost always get it back in production. Maybe cost more than a new house, but it would be back to making parts and earning money.

I learned alot from those guys, but what I really learned was how little I knew.
   ptree - Thursday, 02/24/11 20:02:02 EST


Two of the parts I ordered are the gears (I think 20 and 25 teeth) that engage with the big gear on the spindle and drive the change gears. Mine were worn and skipping. It sounds like you might have the same problem.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 02/24/11 20:28:56 EST

I should add that the site has steel versions of the gears for not much more than the plastic ones (part numbers 3454 and 3455). Just realized that isn't obvious from the replacement parts page, so if that's what you're after, search for those numbers before ordering.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 02/24/11 20:34:34 EST

Mike BR, It might be what you mentioned, my selector arm won't stay engaged and sometimes binds instead of engaging. Does that sound familiar?
   Thumper - Thursday, 02/24/11 21:04:50 EST

I think I had trouble with mine jumping out of engagement. It should be pretty easy to diagnose once you pull the change gear cover and watch what's going on.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 02/24/11 21:48:30 EST

Sounds like you guys have a selector detent problem. On most lathes this is very positive holding the gears in exactly the right position. If worn or made poorly the gears are not held in proper mesh and will wear out rapidly.

My Southbend had typical moving damage. It has been rolled over and several knobs and part had been broken. One part was the ear of the casting that the forward drive gear pin screwed into. Someone had brazed it back together poorly and the gear ran crooked wearing it rounded like a rubber tire looking shape and also eating up the two gears it meshed with. One was the spindle gear which was held on by a light press fit (very precise).

I made the replacement for the casting as a weldment after reverse engineering the original. I flame cut and premachined parts using manual feeds on the lathe, welded them together then finish machining them on the same broken lathe. The holes for the gear centers were very carefully laid out and drilled using an old hand crank drill press. As mentioned before, the replacement gears were made by a local shop. I had to correctly specify the bore of the spindle gear to +/-0.0001". (0.003mm). The old one came off with the tap of a wooden mallet and the replacement went on the same way. The folks that made those parts went out of business after all the businesses they used to support were killed by jobs exported to Southeast Asia.

Critical to this repair was measuring and reverse engineering the gear locations and bore sizes. If you are going to own and use machine tools the most important items are, at a minimum, a pair of 6" (150mm) dial calipers that read to .001" (.025mm) and a 0-1" (0-25mm) micrometer. It does not pay for these to be cheap tools unless you KNOW you are going to upgrade in the near future. Besides these it helps to have a gear tooth gauge set (they are like thread gauges). A change gear catalog like the old Boston Gear catalogs or small parts catalogs is helpful. The engineering data can help identify the gear tooth angle and pitch properly.

While measuring the Southbend I fould that everything possible was laid out in even tenths of an inch. There were no binary series fractions. It was pure decimal 0.1, 0.2, 0.3. . . Once I knew how the designer worked I was not second quessing where things went.

When you start down this path it helps to pickup one of the booklets on measuring (often free as part of a catalog) and a lathe operations book. "How to Run a Lathe" by Southbend is a good one to start with.

The "factory tour" of where they make those little lathes showed a big factory building, with poor lighting. It had small manual machine tools on concrete pads separated by dirt and gravel floors. The QC inspectors office was no bigger than a closet and appeared to have no light at all. It was like a Chinese version of Dickens. . . Think about those conditions when trying to figure out what may be wrong with one of those little lathes.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/24/11 22:34:58 EST

Ouch! But Thanks....I consider myself to be a modern day "Rube Goldberg". Hopefully that and a whole bunch of reading will fix the problem. Right now (being a novice lathe user), I look at the broken drive like maybe the CD changer isn't working in a car stereo, annoying, but it still works manually so I'll survive. I'm sure this will change over time, so I want to fix it while it still isn't an issue in my work/play/blacksmithing.
   Thumper - Thursday, 02/24/11 23:52:56 EST

Manual Feeds only is a pain in some cases but it doesn't stop you from using the lathe. It DOES make it hard to get a uniform finish and its a must for threading.

My little Craftsman lathe uses the lead screw to move the carriage. Its a bad design because it wears the lead screw and currently mine is worn out AGAIN. I had replaced it with a used one from ebay (it looked to be in very good shape). I can make a new lead screw. Its a pain but it can be done. However, 80% of the problem is the half nuts which are a complicated cast zinc part. If I can figure out how to machine new ones I might make them out of a hard more wear resistant bronze. I've also considered using a coarser screw which would make all screw turning non-standard setups. But the parts would last longer. . .
   - guru - Friday, 02/25/11 00:20:30 EST

Old Industry: The old industries that made America THE industrial power of the twentieth century are passing quickly. Places like were Ptree worked used to be fairly common in US industry. Factories made their own steam and electricity, processed their own water. There were good reasons they were all built on rail road sidings. Most were nearly self sufficient. I bought machinery out of a cellophane factory that had an acre sized machine shop that could make everything from the boiler presseure heads, 20 foot long cellophane rolls (and the machine to groove them) to a full capacity sheet metal and welding shop. They even had a full blacksmith shop and a wood working shop. I bought the entire blacksmith shop for $2500 and at the auction I bought a drill press and surface grinder.

Machine tool manufacturers usually had their own captive foundry that made machine tool castings of the highest quality. Good castings were aged up to a year before being machined. Bad castings went to scrap and were remelted.
Many had forge shops as well to process and make shafts and high strength parts. Their machine shops made all their own fasteners and thus all those high round headed bolts and special shoulder screws. Engineering offices were often just a minutes walk from the factory floor. Machinsts and Engineers learned from each other.

My Dad said that Cincinnati-Bickford made nearly every part of their machine on their own radial drill presses. They did turning and milling operations, normally done using other machines, on their radial drills to prove it could be done efficiently on their machines.

   - guru - Friday, 02/25/11 00:26:00 EST

Guru, when I was planning on converting the wood lathe I wondered about the 1/2 nuts also. My solution (in theory), was to get 2 nuts, cut them in half (slightly off center so that one side was bigger than the other), then clean the threads and file them till they were the size of a single nut again. Prior to fitting I was going to braze or silver solder the mounting bracket on each piece.
   Thumper - Friday, 02/25/11 11:58:59 EST

Hmmmm, A simpler solution would be to make a rubber mold of the pieces (there are cold mold products on the market), make the waxes, build up any areas that might shink too much from casting, cast both, clamp them together then re-tap the threads.
   Thumper - Friday, 02/25/11 12:05:09 EST

"even had a full blacksmith shop"---this used to be the norm for factories rather than the exception even for factories that had nothing to do with metalworking---I know of one that was in a plate glass factory and one that was in a sugar refinery!

"Nuts and Bolts of the Past: A History of American Technology : 1776-1860" (9780060916053): David Freeman Hawke
Postulates that the massive flowering of industry in America was the result of having a large pool of mechanically trained workers that would flow from one job to another as industries boomed or went bust and so acted as pollinators for ideas and methods.

I fear with the current short sightedness in industry the last few of these highly experienced people will be retired as "too expensive" only to be hired back in emergencies at greater expense. The issue is that the next generation of these folks will not be trained by them in the slack times.

   Thomas P - Friday, 02/25/11 13:02:43 EST

When VOGT was at its biggest, in WWII 4200 employees were there 24/7. Later, up to the 70's they had a comercial foundrey that made boiler parts and refrigeration valves from semi-steel. The forge shop was a city block sized building. The entire compound was about 42 acres in more or less downtown. Up to the late 60's they had a 17 to 18 man blacksmith,+ one mule blacksmith shop.
They had a full carpenter shop to both make crates and do building maintenance. They had a masonary crew to do building maintenance and rebuild forges and set brick in package boilers. They had a boiler engineering, valve and fitting engineering, refrigeration, tool engineering and die engineering dept's. They had tool and die shops for the valve and fitting, another for the boiler, and a forge tool and die shop. Had almost every craft known.
In 1981 when i started, we bought the gaskets, stem packing, screen printed nameplates and about 50% of the bolts and made evry other single part from bar that became valves and fittings. Near total intergration from bar onwards. Also near total control of the quality, and since we bet the company on every single valve, fitting and boiler we built, total control of the quality was vital.
To make an example, we used about 2 million pounds of steel a month. Every single bar that went into a valve or fitting was spectro'ed for alloy. Every SINGLE bar. Not random, not percentage, every SINGLE bar. And we found lots of one bar in a bundle that was not to alloy spec. or one bundle in a heat not to spec. Usually found after the bars had been sheared, and the mill got the heat back, in short billets, dumped in a gondola car and shipped back at their cost.
We also tested the seat and pressure vessel shell of every single valve. EVERY single one of up to 135,000 per month.
Think that level of quality control is exercised by the off shore makers of the valves and fittings that are all that is beetween you and say half a million gallons of toxic methyl ethyl death?
   ptree - Friday, 02/25/11 13:21:19 EST

Even "small" old plants of the 1800's were pretty amazing. One that was converted to a museum in Petersburg, VA was about a 2 (small) city block compound. They had a foundry and machine shop plus a small blacksmith shop and pattern shop. The pattern storage and parts warehouse were the most space consuming parts of the business. They made everything from mill gears to chain hoists. This was one of those places where if they needed a repair part it could be cast today using a quick and dirty wood pattern OR the broken part and have the part on the machine being made tomarrow and about 48 hours later fitted to the machine.

As Thomas pointed out the key to these industries was the PEOPLE. In the operation above the foundry guys processed their sand by hand, made the molds and poured the iron. If a part needed fine facing sand they did it. If they needed baked sand cores they made the mix and made those as well. Every man on the crew could do all the jobs. Sure, some were better than others but the could all step in if necessary. In the machine shop the machinists had to hand forge, temper and grind their lathe, shaper and planner bits. They made everything to the needed un-written tolerances and did not ask stupid questions. The vast majority of training was on-the-job.

The big plant where I bought their blacksmith shop made cellophane. The entire site was 50 to 100 acres. The machine shop was huge even though its primary purpose was maintenance. They had every machine tool made from large and small key seaters and a filing machine, to three #3 Cincinatti vertical mills, a half dozen lathes over 20 feet between centers and a big 7 foot Bullard vertical turret lathe. They had support equipment including numerous grinders, an optical comparator, precision tools. . .

The blacksmith shop was not much. If had a big cast iron forge, a 50# Little Giant, a cone mandrel, swage block and stand, a tool rack, slack tub and heat treat furnace. The real treasure was a bunch of anvil tools hidden in the back of a cabinet and a steel foreman's cabinet/desk that was made in house out of 16 ga steel riveted together. The anvil was long gone. . The forge had an adjustable hood that could be raised and lowered that was too big and complicated to remove. The last fire in the forge had been too big, burned up the heavy fire pot and then had water dumped on it cracking it into too many pieces to count.

The dark side of the blacksmith shop was that apparently the smith was the Union Steward. His cabinett was full of Union history and news clippings from the 1920's. Pretty horrible stuff and the reason Unions existed. Employers were just as organized as Unions and hired thugs and spies to break up the unions. It was a pretty ugly war.
   - guru - Friday, 02/25/11 14:15:57 EST

The auto & truck frame plant I worked in, Parrish Pressed Steel, a Dana plant was one of those old style nearly self sufficient plants. It was a fairly large complex with over a dozen railroad sidings. The in house tool & die shop and machine shop could build any tooling needed for truck or auto frames, but when a new model was tooled up for, only about 10% was built in house due to time limitations. The store room had most of the parts stocked for routine maintainance of the plant equipment. This plant was closed about 2000.

   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 02/25/11 17:50:42 EST

My gears were definitely worn. I seem to remember the selector jumping, but the clear image in my mind is one of the gears wobbling all over the place (the center was worn where it turned on the shaft). In any event, the detent holds fine with the new gears. (I do still sometimes need to turn the chuck a little before engaging with the lathe off, sort of like letting in the clutch once before shifting into first gear. That seems normal to me, and hopefully is, but maybe explains Thumper's "binding"?)
   Mike BR - Friday, 02/25/11 19:09:01 EST

Mike, it is normal to have to rotate the spindle a little to get the gears to mesh.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 02/25/11 19:31:36 EST

My Lodge and Shipley would not shift feeds when I brought it home. The tumbler pin had sheared because some ham fisted idiot had tryed to shovce it from gear to gear without easing the spindle a bit by hand just as Dave Boyer notes is normal. I used a drill press to spin a bolt to make another, and then used the lathe to make a permanent one.
   ptree - Friday, 02/25/11 19:45:52 EST

Shifting Gears: Mike, Needing to move things a bit to engage the gears is normal in any stationary shaft arrangement when engaging the gears. You always have about a 35% chance that the ends of the gear teeth will align and not be able to engage. The greater chance is that one tooth will be somewhere between teeth on the other gear and its engagement will force the shafts to rotate the small amount needed as the teeth engage.

Gear teeth designed to engage without hanging up this way have nearly pointed teeth but this is generally bad gear tooth design. You get the same situation in low gears in manual automotive transmissions but they are designed to be axial mesh with beveled edges that only occasionally line up so as not to engage. This does not apply to scyncro-mesh gears which are actually engaged full time and have a clutch and dog arrangement that is shifted.

NEVER, shift the gears on a lathe while anything is moving under power or inertia. Broken or damaged gears are almost always the result.
   - guru - Friday, 02/25/11 19:58:33 EST

How has the service and repair parts from Grizzly Tools been?
   Carver Jake - Friday, 02/25/11 20:37:42 EST

"Binding" Gears: If gears do not turn freely when engaged they are usually meshed to tight. That is the center distances they rotate on are too close together and the gears are wedging together rather than having a little backlash. Overmeshed gears are noisy, put a lot of strain on shafts and wear out rapidly.

There are two things that can cause overmeshing. One, the shafts are two close together. Two, the gears are not made to proper tolerances and are too large. You can also have gears that run out, that is the teeth are not cut true to the rotational center. This causes the gears to be tight on one side and loose on the other. Since nothing is perfect, run out is why gears should always have a little backlash or running clearance.

On something like a lathe reversing mechanism the only thing that can cause overmeshing is poorly made parts. Holes on the reversing block are in the wrong place, the bore it rotates on is wrong relative to the spindle of the lathe, detents are wrong, OR the gears are wrong. It is possible to fix this but you should NEVER have this situation in the first place.

The lathe reversing mechanism was invented by James Nasmyth and was considered to be so basic and important he gave away the invention.
   - guru - Friday, 02/25/11 21:13:54 EST

Hmmm, I tell the pettifogging auditors in the government that "...if you make the tolerances too tight, you don't get efficiency, you get friction. You need to have at least a little play in the system."

Trust me, these days; every penny is accounted for; at great expense! ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 02/25/11 23:11:42 EST

Bruce Blackistone,
I guess my brother in law is right. Everything he does, he says it's not perfect but at least it's good enough for government use. When something breaks, he says if this sucker wasn't made in Japan it sure missed a good chance. :)
   Mike T. - Saturday, 02/26/11 00:43:17 EST

I have an anvil marked solid steel paragon 121 lbs. 1928 on one side and on the other side has Soderfors Sweden and an image of like a crown on it can you tell me about it and what it is worth
   eric w. - Saturday, 02/26/11 15:17:43 EST

Eric W,

That anvil is, as it says, a solid steel anvil weighing 121 lbs, made by the Soderfors company in Sweden in 1928 or thereabouts. It is cast steel. They're known for having very hard faces, thus prone to chipping on the edges. If yours is not chipped up it is worth about $5/lb where I am, to as little as $1.50-2.00/lb in an area like the Midwest where anvils are still relatively plentiful. If it is all chipped up, or the face has been trashed by an idiot milling it down or has torch cuts, etc, it could be worth as little as scrap metal value. As Larry Niven said, the value of a thing is what that thing will bring.
   - Rich - Saturday, 02/26/11 15:54:46 EST

thanks Rich for the information
   eric w. - Saturday, 02/26/11 15:58:18 EST

Ok, question...why are there more anvils in the midwest ? Because this is an agricultural area ? Old cattle drive trails ?
   Mike T. - Saturday, 02/26/11 22:18:53 EST

Mike T: Not so much just the mid west, but any area that was populated and industrialised before the automobile and heavily mass produced goods had a good share of blacksmiths & all that goes with a blacksmith shop. Places populated & industrialised later did not. Add to that that many farms had at least a crude blacksmith shop as well in the old days, while later farm shops are more likely to have a torch, electric welder and perhaps some power tools.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 02/26/11 23:50:33 EST

Mike, it has largely to do with the area's peak industrial and agricultural development being at the height of the horse drawn era (Between WWI and WWII). Every farm had an anvil, many small factories produced goods by hand forging, larger factories had maintenance shops with forge and anvil.

In the East industry was less diffuse, concentrated more in cities and there were blacksmith/farrier shops in villages and towns that took care of much of the shoeing. In the West development was much later and sparser. The big population growth came after the horse drawn era.

The Great Lakes and river transportation systems in the Mid-West followed by the rail roads had a lot to do with the diffuse industry and the development of what we now refer to as the "rust belt".

25 pound Little Giant power hammers were sold by the thousands for disk plow sharpening on the huge farms in the mid-west. They were probably a factor in the causation of the dust bowl era. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 02/27/11 01:28:09 EST

Sounds like a PhD dissertation topic for someone.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 02/27/11 07:36:34 EST

Blacksmiths were common in UK factories. There was a wonderful complete, and now unused, shop in a dry cleaning plant where I worked.
   philip in china - Sunday, 02/27/11 07:57:37 EST

The first "factories" were blacksmith shops. Then for a long time they were part of the "tool and die" part of the factory or the maintenance department. Many of those factories that made their own fasteners had the blanks forged in the blacksmith shop. This need faded away as chip making became more efficient and screw machines chewing up hex stock became a simpler method of producing fasteners. The in-house manufacturing was replaced in turn by standard fasteners made by specialized industry.

The old self sufficient industries that made the U.S. an industrial giant changed into a supply chain system where specialty manufacturers provided component parts needed by industry. This was a logical and efficient change. Specialty manufacturers of fasteners, bearings, cutters and a thousand other categories of things could do a better more efficient job than a factory where making those things was only a small part of their business.

This was a great system up until the corporate raiders of the 1980's found a gold mine in all that inventory that the specialty suppliers held. The "empty warehouse" became a success story. That resulted in manufacturers catalogs becoming more "wish book" than product list. In the 1970's you could pick up a bearing or seal catalog and over 90% of what was listed was in stock. After the 1980's this became 50% or less and if you needed one of those now "non-stock" items you had to either order 1,000 and wait 16 weeks OR wait a year or more. . . The short term greed of the 1980's created inefficiencies in production and maintenance that still plagues us today. A healthy supply chain is part of a healthy economy. You cannot gut it and still have a healthy economy.

So maybe the self sufficient factory was not such a bad idea.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/27/11 11:01:42 EST

I have never been an agricultural smith, but a mild correction to the Guru's post about discs and Little Giants. Because of the cultivating discs circularity and concavity, they were sharpened cold in disc rollers. Not being a "country boy," it's difficult for me to find out about the old rollers. I have see three of them in my lifetime, all at Texas farm auctions. They are huge machines, flat belt operated, with steel rollers that compress the edge of the discs at ambient temperature. They are seldom used nowadays.

The power hammers, especially LG's, were used mostly on moldboard-type plowshare points. The points were either drawn if there was enough stock, or a flat U-shape of high carbon was 'overcoated' and forge welded on.

I had a student years ago whose father, Carl Carlson, worked as a smith at an International Harvester plant near Chicago. Carl made hoisting equipment for the assembly line, among other things. My student, Carl, Jr., said that his dad weighed 300 pounds and could wield a 16 pound hand hammer. I asked Carl, Jr., why he didn't take lessons from his dad, and he said, "Didn't wanta join the union!" To each his own.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/27/11 11:45:25 EST

Disk Sharpening. Frank, Numerous power hammer makers at the time sold attachments that supported the disk as it was rotated under the hammer to draw out the worn edge to return it to the former diameter. Sort of like a saw blade turning spindle. As noted, this was done cold and beat the snot out of the power hammer. Thus so many worn out 25 pound LG's. . . I've seen old LG's that were covered with red clay beaten off the disks and had dirt grit in every crevice. Most of the bigger hammers went to blacksmith shops and were treated much better. They actually got oiled once in a while.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/27/11 13:04:02 EST

"just in time" systems work great until something happens then you get a chain reaction failure.

Say a massive snow storm interrupts truck deliveries of steel to a plan that makes therbligs, so therblig production is stopped as there is little or no invetory of either raw materials or finished items; so the machinengewerter works that use therbligs stop and then the Hochcorrelator works and then the airplane production works, etc and so all that money "saved" is suddenly being eaten up by factories standing idle and people gettng sent home.

In a country as big as the USA there is almost always "weather" issues somewhere.

   Thomas Powers - Sunday, 02/27/11 15:11:10 EST

Yes, the whole "zero inventory" and "just-in-time" manufacturing notion was the downfall of modern manufacturing in the United States. Prior to that time, changes in manufacturing practices were originated by visionary manufacturers, their engineers and workers and in some cases by their consumers. When the MBA's became the controlling factor in business, everything was done solely for the benefit of the short-term investors (read, arbitragers, speculators, takeover specialists, et al.) and the road to hell was littered with the corpses of once-great companies.

I see two big factors operating in all of this. First, the greed of the money men, and secondly the non-engagement of the MBAs. For the money men it is all about power as measured by dollars. For the MBAs it is nothing much more than an abstract exercise in investing economics and accounting. Neither of the two groups have any *connection* to the companies they have plundered; it is all abstract for them. Unfortunately, for the workers, the builders, the small shareholders and all those who derive a living from the manufacturing process either directly or indirectly, it is a disaster of unparalleled proportions. The whole syndrome may well result in the death of the middle class in America.
   - Rich - Sunday, 02/27/11 16:31:39 EST

One year in the 1970's they had horrendous snow in Buffalo NY. My steel supplier in Virginia got most of their steel from mills and warehouses in Buffalo. Both shipping and production were interrupted for a month and the supply chain for about two months. There were numerous sizes of steel I could not get during that time. SO. . my production (and income) was also delayed. All due to one snow storm over 1000 miles away.

We have not had a truly disruptive general transportation strike in the U.S. that I can remember. But they happen often in other countries frequently. Truck and Farmer strikes are common in many places.

Several years ago they had a truck strike in Costa Rica that kept everything from moving including shipments through the ports. Josh had a container setting in port that he had spent 90 days getting through customs. . . THEN it could not be moved. Ports everywhere charge storage fees for anything not moved immediately no matter what the reason. Josh had to pay the storage fees due to the strike, then for a new airplane ticket AND fines for remaining in the country over 90 days on a visitor's visa. All beyond his control.

Our business building special machines relied on a good supply chain of stock parts. Toward the end it became very difficult and we had to double delivery times. Items that had been common off the shelf parts, seals and bearings for 40 years became special order. Even relatively standard motors became hard to get if you needed them in 90 days. . .

Our nut and bolt supplier told me that they went from ordering through warehouses to direct orders from the manufacturer paid for 16 months or more in advance. Not only did they have to prepay for the inventory they had to guess what they were going to need over a year later and for another year's business. This was our local hardware store planning two years in advance. He must have been pretty good at predictions because he's still in business.

Things coming through the U.S. ports are very unpredictable these days. Shipments targeted for spot customs inspections can be delayed weeks and the entire inspection and storage cost is on the importer. The delay may effect many others.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/27/11 17:08:45 EST

Relating to a post above, the Union Pacific Railroad would pick their CEO's from Ivy league colleges, or from other corporations, I think it took years for them to realize just because someone has a sheepskin doesn't mean they know beans about railroading. The current CEO, Dick Davidson, started out as a brakeman on the Missouri Pacific railroad in Pine Bluff, Ark. and worked his way up.
We may be entering an era where other corporations will be doing the same thing.
   Mike T. - Monday, 02/28/11 02:14:15 EST

In my opinion a large factor in the zero inventory attitude by manufactures began from the high interest rates being offered in the late 70's and 80's. The company accountant discovered that if he pulled all of the working capital out on friday, deposited in the bank over the weekend and got it back on monday...bingo...free money! Next step ...let the suppliers hold the inventory. As soon as he found a supplier to go along with this all the rest had to fall in line or no sales. More free money! As a small hardwood wholesaler during this time when the local furniture factory bounces a check for $60,000.00 on monday because of poor timing by the accountant it gets your attention! Next move...ship the lumber to a third world country for assemble. More free money...except this time he also put himself out of work, no more company. Now I build one-off electric cars for a client and the only source for lithium ion batteries is China at the moment. The time lag is so long after ordering (6 months +) that we have always ordered more then we need. By the time we may find a bad cell it might have been replaced by the next generation. A 52 cell matched set won't get along with the latest and greatest new guy. I complain but it still is fun to learn new stuff!
   SKSmith - Monday, 02/28/11 10:48:03 EST

When most of the Nuclear plants in the U.S. were built the head construction engineer usually became the plant manager when the operations started. These guys had been in almost every part of the plant and had been involved with every critical problem getting the plant operational.

Most of these men were kept on until they demanded retirement or died. Their replacements had neither the history or the kind of experience. They were often "managing engineers" or accountants. The bottom line became more important than good engineering solutions. But the government did not help. Paper solutions to problems became more important than real solutions. . .

Back in the 1940's Issac Asimov described this problem in his Foundation books. The technology of the great Galactic Empire was no longer understood and maintenance was done by route or became a "religion" where things were done without knowledge of why or ability to solve new problems.

When my Dad retired from B&W he had another 20 plus good years in him. But he saw the writing in the wall as the older experianced engineers were being replaced by new kids right out of engineering school. He took early retirement. His friends who had been with him since the 1950's that stayed were pushed out a few years later. For the company it was simple economics. Replace $90k/year people with $20k/year people. . . .

Companies constantly advertise they want experianced people. But they don't want to pay for them.
   - guru - Monday, 02/28/11 12:09:58 EST

Pexto taper

The discussion on stake tapers hasn't hit the archives, yet. I am working on building a few, so I took some measurements this weekend. I used a digital level to measure the combined angle directly. I measured both sides, so two measurements per stake, 20 stakes. Throwing out the badly fitting outliers, the average was 9.5. These are mostly Pexto, and not modified to fit the bench plate (yet).

Then I measured the 2 Bally bench plates I have. The average was 10.9, explaining why the fit isn't great in general. I'm thinking of building a milling fixture and aiming for around 10.5 degrees. I'd like for stakes to sit down into the taper, but not break out the bottom in heavy use.

Does this match the other data you collected? The difference in brands may be related, but stakes almost never seem to fit well unmodified in my limited experience.
   - Jacob - Monday, 02/28/11 13:43:24 EST

Stake Tapers: Jacob, I have not published the raw data as I was hoping we get some more submitted. Note that measuring angles with levels or protractors is usually not very accurate. Taking dimensions and calculating the angle as we suggested is much more accurate. Since most tapers are actually defined in proportional ratios this is the correct method of getting the original intent. See title link.

We found the average to be about 12 degrees or actually 2.5"/foot (5/24) included angle. But there were quite a few that came in at close to 10 degrees or 2"/foot. The largest tapers we found were 14 the lowest 7 to 8. Only one came in less at 2 degrees and I think this one was a mistake. None came in at 5 degrees.

Many of our calculated angles which I rounded were closer to 11.81 to 11.9 degrees. The 5/24 taper is exactly 11.894 degrees.

9.5 (9.527) degrees is 2" per foot included or a 1/6 taper was also common and seems to be what you found.

SO, as we stated at the beginning of this project there is NO standard. I believe the 5/24 and 1/6 tapers to be the most standard. We are going to make our stakes and stake holders the 5/24 (nearly 12 degree) taper. But I also hope to make a core box for the 1/6 taper and sell an alternate holder.

I have a couple new mushroom stakes and a stake holder that I bought as the Southeastern Conference in 2003 (I think). They fit the 5/24 (~12 degree) taper as well as a cast fit is going to fit. But all the rest of my odd collection of "antique" stakes also fit. None have a makers mark but I am pretty sure a couple are old Pexto.
   - guru - Monday, 02/28/11 20:14:43 EST

Andy Mason Tool Collection (stakes):

Andy sent me a bunch of stake photos but no dimensions. However, his collection has ranges of tapers that pretty much match what I have collected. The title group I made up has tapers of approximately 14, 12, 10 and 0 degrees.
   - guru - Monday, 02/28/11 20:40:46 EST

The 5 degree may be from people measuring one side, I would guess. Same as I measure a dovetail as 5 or 7 degree not the included angle of both sides.
   - grant - nakedanvil - Monday, 02/28/11 21:16:30 EST

I've just built (really, paid someone to build) a big ramada for an outdoor forge area in my backyard. I would like to try the old "timber buried in the ground" anvil stand concept some time, but I've been wondering: must I use treated lumber? I have a great old log section that would work fine, but it's well-seasoned pine, not very resistant to rot or insects (I live in Arizona, and we do have termites out here).

What do you folks use for timber anvil mounts on or in soil? Anybody in the Southwest who has tried a pine log section and can report experience with it?

   - Eric T - Monday, 02/28/11 21:16:52 EST

I was thinking about making some chisels, punches and drifts. I've make some poor quality tools of this type in the past, and now I could certainly use some well made ones.
I have heard of H13 hot work tool steel being use. What would be your suggestions of good steels to use? I'm not sure how expensive H13 is, but I now that from what I have read about its heat treatment - it sounds like a pain in the rear end. If I did use H13 would I have to go through all the special techniques for forging it? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
   RM Howell - Monday, 02/28/11 21:29:11 EST


These days most smiths do not mount anvils on buried stumps. Its too permanent and does not allow for flexibility of moving the anvil to the best location for the job.

See our iForge article on Anvil Stands

Pine is prime termite bait as well as attacked by other insects and bacterial rot. Even when treated (creosoted or salt treated) does not have a long life in the ground. Power poles are both treated, then tar covered below ground.

The trick to setting a permanent stump is where and how high.

About the only advantage permanent stumps had in old shops is that they were often used for the anchor for big shears.
   - guru - Monday, 02/28/11 21:38:18 EST

H-13 SPECIAL TECHNIQUE: Get it real hot and hit it real hard. And you might make a small dent in it. Hand hammering H-13 is like beating on cold mild steel. You're better off with a low-alloy or carbon steel and keeping the tool cooled. That's better than most blacksmiths had for thousands of years. And what most blacksmiths in the world have today.
   - grant - nakedanvil - Monday, 02/28/11 21:40:05 EST

Tool Steel: RM, Most tool steels are fairly expensive unless you can find "mill run". Most tool steels are provided annealed and this adds to the cost.

Forging virtually all tool steel requires the same care. You need to warm it prior to putting in the forge, do not over heat it, work it hot and quit as soon as it cools. Heat treat per manufacturers instructions.

Depending on the tool various smiths use different steels. S7 is preferred by many, 5160 is used for tough tools that don't have edges for hot work. There are many others. Lots of folks use W1 because its the cheapest of the tool steels. I use A2 for dies and tools that are machined.
   - guru - Monday, 02/28/11 21:52:12 EST

RM I have made the first few of what I hope will be a series of similar tools. I am currently making some tongs specifically to hold these having put a fuller in each one to accept the jaws of the tongs. Next project is to be a star shaped punch but I am not sure how to approach that one yet.
   philip in china - Monday, 02/28/11 22:07:17 EST

Just in time can be- and often is- a mistake. Just in case is better. Just in case is better. In an ideal world JIT would work but we live in a less than ideal world.
   philip in china - Monday, 02/28/11 22:08:51 EST

A star shaped punch is mostly a grind and file job. But in a nice piece of annealed steel you could hand saw much of the shape with a hack saw.
   - guru - Monday, 02/28/11 22:34:01 EST

Thanks for the imput, does anyone know how H13 compares to HHS? I tried forging some of that by hand and it was terribly hard to move under the hammer. I'm willing to put up with some stuggle if it will be worth it in the performance of the tool. Also, to you guys know of any junk yard sources for hot work steel?
   - RM Howell - Tuesday, 03/01/11 00:11:47 EST

RM, HSS is a little more difficult to forge than H13 but its a LOT more difficult to heat treat properly. It is designed to remain hard at a red heat. It is generally not a blacksmith friendly steel.

There are no junk yard sources of hot work steel that I can think of other than scrap from machine shops, forges or tool makers.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/01/11 02:36:21 EST

Re the post about star shaped punches. Old VW or Chrysler torsion bars cut in lengths with a cutoff wheel make wonderful punches and need no heat treating. Use an angle grinder with a cutting wheel to cut the patterns in the business end. They work for years punching designs in hot steel.
   Hugh McDonald - Tuesday, 03/01/11 06:49:37 EST

I have hand forged both H13 and M2 high speed steel. The M2 is much more difficult to move, but if you get it in a section that is close to your final tool size it can be done and it makes excellent hot work tooling. I rarely heat treat my tool steel tools, I just use them in the as-forged condition. This includes my H13 power hammer tooling. When forging H13 or HSS, it is best that you heat and work only the working end of the tool. If you heat the striking end, it will end up pretty hard since both alloys are air hardening. H13 will not get as hard as HSS so you have a little bit less risk with a striking surface spalling if it gets too hard, but it is still something to keep in mind. Depending on the equipment you have available and starting stock shape one thing you can do is to make the tool and the fit a sleeve of lower hardness steel over the striking end. This will protect you from spalls. I rarely work with HSS since I don't have a ready supply, but it is a great hot work steel for punches and chisels. You do have to think about how you are going to use it safely and if you have access to a heat treating oven you will get the best performance from the tool if you heat treat it appropriately.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 03/01/11 09:49:00 EST

Thanks for the link to the stake page. I hadn't seen that. I only remembered the discussion from earlier. There is a lot of great information and pictures collecting there.

The two measurements I took out of my average were a pexto mushroom stake clearly made to a different standard of nearly 15 degrees, and another stake at nearly 12 degrees. I did not measure any of the Dixon type stakes, as they are clearly different and I have no holder.

I can take some more accurate measurements if it would be helpful. The digital level is fairly accurate considering the wild variance and was enough to show the differences. Measuring the bench plates more accurately will be more useful to me than knowing exactly how far off the stakes are. Most of the larger holes are fairly close at around 10.5 degrees.

I am currently making some heavy stakes for forming historic armor.
   - Jacob - Tuesday, 03/01/11 11:45:17 EST

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