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 March 1 - 7, 2011 on the Guru's Den
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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

Eric; I do suggest you try a portable stump till you get your shop "settled down" and then decide if you want to bury one.
(there are some advantages to being able to move it---real close to the forge for welding or far away when you are working 20' lengths. there are som advantages to a buried one as well)

Then you could bury a couple of RR ties and strap them together, or the stump of a very large utility pole---ask at the local work office as sometimes such get pulled and are then discarded.

I have a large creosoted chunk that was from a train bridge or mine that I am waiting for my shop extension to "settle" and then plan to bury. I've been advised to use some boric acid in the hole to help extend the life of it against insects.

Folks: Patrick's day job is as a metallurgist for a large open die forging company and his night/weekend work is Blacksmithing so I'd give his suggestions extra weight when it comes to the intersection of them.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 03/01/11 12:48:47 EST

When I have a metalurgist question, I ask Patrick, and his answers have always been button on. Quenchcrack also has been very helpful and button on as well.
   ptree - Tuesday, 03/01/11 15:29:09 EST

More about Stakes: After looking at the dozens of stakes we have collected images of and the lack of standardization even withing ONE brand my feeling is that most were used in a wooden stump where the hole would conform to the stake. A tapered square peg (take shank) forced into a round hole is very secure.

Another route is a large hole (say 4" or 200mm) in the stump or stake bench and a set of wedges to make the hole tapered and fit. It might help to have a hole all the way through to the bottom so the stake could be driven out. Any metal wedges should have a ledge on them to help remove them.

Another suggestion is that many stake plates were used with lead poured around the stakes to make them fit. While this goes against today's sensibilities it makes absolutely perfect sense for the late 19th and early 20th century. I remember needing a small 3/16" keyway broached into a small gear that had a large hole (almost a ring gear). I thought the shop was going to need to make a special bushing. Nope. The guy just picked the largest bushing he had, melted some lead or babbit on a little gas stove, poured it, broached the keyway, and popped out the bushing. The gear was still hot when he handed it to me. . .

AND while we only know of a few manufacturers today, Andy Mason's collection from the UK clearly has stakes from three or more manufacturers none of which are Pexto, Niagara or Dixon.

Dixon, was much like other large tool houses and had their name stamped on a variety of manufacturer's products. Many were European but they also carried the best of American made tools.

One suggestion was that different types of stakes needed different tapers depending on the forces on them. I think this was bad logic. It is obvious there just were no standards and still are not. The thing we are going to do different is publish our taper specs and make tools to that spec.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/01/11 16:49:35 EST

Eric t; the anvil we had when I was growing up in the Benson area was on 2 RR ties strapped together and set in the ground. The cut ends were up, and covered with metal so hot stuff had no effect. In my Grandpas' shop, he had his portable with the same stuff but capped on the bottom also with metal. He was in the Tucson area. Hope this helps.
   - keith - Tuesday, 03/01/11 17:44:47 EST

It's amazing how far the concept of standardization has caught on in just a relatively few years.

I've had great trouble getting through to some folks that armour didn't have a standard thickness and could in fact differ quite a lot even in the same piece with areas prone to receive impact often being much heavier than areas almost never hit---one of the graces of hand hammering your sheet out into armour.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 03/01/11 18:45:45 EST

Considering sheet was very rare and the shapes of armour pieces very odd my theory is that many pieces were forged from solid stock. Forged, upset and bent then flattened out into the desired shape. This is much more efficient than making sheet then cutting wasteful shapes. It is also easier than forming sheet to shapes it does not like. Something to think about.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/01/11 19:31:29 EST

Thanks for the advice, everybody. I realize that I should experiment with shop layout awhile before fixing the anvil location, but I thought that the chief advantage with a "planted" anvil stand was efficient transfer of impact energy to the work. That is, a "loose" stand, even if very heavy, bounces and wobbles a bit and results in effort being wasted.

Maybe this effect is very small for large anvils -- mine is a 275 lb Peddinghaus, not gigantic.

Also, come to think, planting a stand in the ground would be a marked plus for a leg vise, allowing lots of bending and twisting force to be applied without tipping or walking the vise. I'll keep scrap power poles in mind.

Eric T
   - Eric T - Tuesday, 03/01/11 20:40:29 EST

Anchoring leg vises is different than anvils. The more sturdy a vise is mounted the better. The two best vise setups I've had were virtually immovable. The first was a 130 pound Prentiss chipping vise was attached to a bench with a heavy bracket under the bench that anchored it to the wall. The second was a little 30 pound post vise attached to my portable forge trailer. That was a two ton anchor point that was very immovable when blocked up for use.

A 275 Peddinghaus is a huge anvil compared to many and well within the general shop range. Anvils over 300 pounds used to be quite rare. It is only in the last decade that large cast anvils in the 400 and 500 pound range have become popular. In days past the only shops that had anvils that size or larger were rail road and large industrial shops.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/01/11 22:56:31 EST

I have a 280 pound Brooks. I think it is an absolutely ideal size. It is big enough for any work I am ever likely to do but still manageable so I can move it if I have to.
   philip in china - Tuesday, 03/01/11 23:03:56 EST

Eric: For My first anvil, 158#, I built a 3 legged "Hofi" style stand. It has a 2" thick top plate and 2 X 4 X 1/4" steel tube legs. This stand goes 145#. The anvil sits on it with no wobble, and is bolted fast. This combination does not bounce, wobble, or any of that. The anvil probably gains some efficiency from the stand, as it sits on it with fairly good bearing [for an anvil & stand] rather than having a soft material between the two.

If You mount the anvil to a wood post planted deep in the ground, I don't think You will gain anything in rebound, but You will have substantial mounting for a bending fork or anything mounted in the harde hole.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 03/02/11 00:22:22 EST

Talking about making armor. I wonder if the old Smiths had extra keys for those chastity belts. :)
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 03/02/11 03:07:02 EST

can anyone tell me where i can find titanium powder coating for a good price. and does it come in more colors other than red, black, and rainbow? I'd like to add a titanium coating to my zetsurin katana. it has blood stains (from me lopping of my fingers) on it and it wont stop rusting. i put C1 blade oil on it every month and before i oil it i strip it with manuki powder. i love this katana but i know a titanium infusion would pretty much stop all rusting
   Jeffery Ledford - Wednesday, 03/02/11 05:31:07 EST

oh forgot to mention blade spec materials. differentially hardened 1045 carbon steel blade. the edge is about Rockwell hardness of 51 and the spine has a hardness of about..45. i think, the blade wont flex back when bent but its easy to bend back, holds a great edge haven't had to sharpen it in quite some time even with repeated use. but anyway is this steel usable for a titanium coating? im pretty sure all steel is right?
   Jeffery Ledford - Wednesday, 03/02/11 05:35:05 EST

and whats the proper way to apply a titanium oxide powder coating? do you just spray it on or...rub it on and low bake? i've never worked with coatings before
   Jeffery Ledford - Wednesday, 03/02/11 06:09:06 EST

if anyone has the answers please email me at templarhound@yahoo.com no caps. thank you very much ^-^ and have an awesome morning!
   Jeffery Ledford - Wednesday, 03/02/11 06:19:54 EST

Hammering thick stock to sheet thickness.

I have a thin bladed grubbing hoe made about five years ago in Naolinco, Vera Cruz, Mexico, and it was made from a ½" thick chunk of steel. One striker was used, no power hammers. Same way with heavy chunks of copper in Santa Clara del Cobre, Mexico. The chunk is sledged to sheet before being raised into bowl, vase, and kettle forms.
Sand box.
I first read about the box of sand for mounting anvils in Schmirler's excellent book.* I have mounted my 250# anvil that way. It is sucked down with threaded rods and flat bars on the base to keep it from shifting. Our sand in New Mexico is easily gathered from our abundant arroyos. In Arizona, they call arroyos 'dry washes' and in the Northwest, 'coulees.'

Although a heavy assemblage, the anvil and stand can be easily walked and scooted on the concrete floor.

* "Werk und Werkzeug des Kunstschmieds"
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/02/11 08:50:16 EST

Titanium Coating: Jeffrey, TiN coatings are applied by rather high tech methods, sputter deposition, cathodic arc deposition or electron beam heating and chemical vapor deposition. In each the Ti is sublimated and reacted with nitrogen in a high energy environment. It is NOT a DIY process.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/02/11 09:03:08 EST

Sand Box Anvil Stand: Peddinghaus used to sell that type of stand.

At the 1982 ABANA conference at Cedar Lakes, Riply WV Alfred Habbermann made a big deal over the anvil being too noisy. In broken English he managed to get a short galvanized trash can brought in and filled with all the ashes from all the forges. Then set the anvil into it. . . He was happy but sitting about 10 to 15 feet away I could not tell the difference in the sound.

The fact that Alfred Habbermann of Czechoslovakia and Aachim Kuhn of East Germany were attending the conference was a big deal at the time. This was at the height of the cold war and these men were from behind the Iron Curtain. Both traveled with their big ominous looking "translators" which were actually their guards, lest they defect. Such were the times.

Alfred was quite the character and got away with his insistence on a change of stand with no offense. His first demonstration was to make a little leaf and then give it away to a pretty girl for a kiss.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/02/11 09:40:01 EST

One reference I have for sand box anvil mounting involves a trapezoidal box constructed from sheet (pound your own from a block of mild steel). The top of the box is open, fill with sand, mount anvil in sand. If you need the anvil lower, simply remove the amount of sand needed and replace anvil... I've never done this, just read it in a book. Personally I think it is a recipe for a sandy dirty floor, but if you saw my shop you'd say "why care?". OTOH, I believe any smithy worht its' salt should have a good supply of clean dry sand handy. Good for annealing, cleaning, scale removal, also putting out fires better than water.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 03/02/11 09:46:07 EST

Sand Box Sand. . . There is sand, then there is sand. . . "Sand box" sand, sold in bags is generally beach sand. This is fine worn smooth sand that is very fluid. Heavy objects sink into it easily. Coarse masonry sand or "sharp" sand is much better for supporting loads. This is also called river sand. But you want the coarser variety as it too comes in different types.

Common sand box sand is handy for the fire pail and filling tubes to be forged but not much else. Sand is generally not recommended for annealing as it is too dense AND there is the likelihood of it melting onto the steel. I made the mistake of sitting a hot crucible in sand and ended up with "glass" melted to the bottom of it. This acts like glue every time you use the crucible and it is difficult to remove. It requires careful grinding. . . Set hot crucibles on a fire brick surface, anneal using lime, vermiculite or kaowool.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/02/11 10:17:43 EST

Keys to the Kingdom: Josh Greenwood tells a story about visiting with a friend who did many of the hand made locks for the National Cathedral and being given an after hours tour to places rarely visited by anyone except Cathedral maintenance staff. . . . He had a big key ring full of hand made keys. .

When hand made locks are made the only way to easily replace keys is from an original copy. . . usually kept by the locksmith. OR the lock can be picked and a key fitted by impressioning.

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/02/11 11:15:19 EST

Just found a B1 Beverly Shear last weekend at a garage sale for a steal of a price, now I'm trying to learn all I can about sheet metal as it applies to blacksmithing. Are pocket sheet metal gauges worth using, or am I better off getting a micrometer and learning how to read it to determine the gauge? A quick look online for sheet metal gauge seems to combine/confuse wire and sheet metal gauges. I have a couple of wire gauges B&S and Starrett but the decimals don't match up with my little Standard Steel chart (14 gauge sheet is .0747in, 14 gauge wire is .064). I'm planning on cutting up candle cups, flower petals, etc. Also got a 330 watt soldering iron that I'm a little scared of, which seems odd since I'm OK with hot steel. Thank you
   Michael - Wednesday, 03/02/11 11:40:00 EST

Gauge or Micrometer: Michael, Long ago Machinery's handbook recommended that all gauge sizes be qualified with actual dimensions. The confusion comes from there being different gauge sizes that are not always qualified.

As to micrometers, while they are more accurate and generally good ones read to four decimal places, a vernier or dial caliper is easier to read and the small size goes to 6" or 150mm. Most read three or three and a half places. They can also be used to measure inside, outside and in deep holes. Micrometers are only good for a 1" or 25 mm range measuring outside.

Generally a 1" (25 mm) micrometer is recommended as a machinist's first precision measuring tool but for general shop use and layout we use our dial calipers almost exclusively if accuracy better than a plain scale is needed.

I prefer mechanical dial calipers over digital. While digital have advantages the cheap ones have issues. Of course any cheap tools have issues. The calipers I have been using for 40 years are Helios brand, now Mahr of Germany. I suggest purchasing a good brand. Mine cost $75 US some 40 years ago.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/02/11 12:51:03 EST

I forgot to say congratulations on the Beverly deal. I got a fairly good deal on mine even though I had to get new blades for it.

Something to keep in mind on these tools (as well as other punches and shears) is that the maximum rated capacity is hard on them. I don't like to use them for more than 75% of rated capacity.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/02/11 13:03:24 EST

Impressioning: The first method used was to make an impression of the key in wax or clay then copy the key from the impression. If there was no key a special hollowed out blank filled with wax was used to take an impression of the wards in lock. Both methods were used more by theives than by locksmiths because the keymaking could be done in privacy.

When lever tumbler locks were invented simple wax impressioning to get around wards no longer worked. However, locksmiths found a way. They would soot the key then try it in the lock. The marked places were filed away a little and the key tried again. It is an imperfect art but often results in a very key.

Later the same method was found to work on pin tumbler locks. In this case the edge of the blank would be sanded to a flat finish. Then the key tried. Slight cocking of the loaded pins would mark the blank. The marks would be filed off and the key tried again and again until the key fit and the lock opened.

Due to the time involved on modern locks impressioning is not a thief's method.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/02/11 13:06:29 EST

Thank you, for the information and the congrats. I'll go the caliper route till I get used to the thickness in sheet. 75% would be about 16 or 17 gauge, still plenty thick material.
Surprised the guy would sell the shear, the bench vise next to it was marked NFS and there were almost no decent tools left in the garage, but clearly hobby metal work had been going on there for decades.

Patch in the rain is enough to light the forge under the leaky patio roof today.
   Michael - Wednesday, 03/02/11 13:33:39 EST

About a year ago a nice lady asked me if I could possibly open an antique trunk for her. It seems that the movers had lost the key for this 200+ year-old trunk when it was shipped down here from the States several years earlier. She had tried every locksmith in the Territory and none could open it. A client of mine recommended me to her so she called.

I took my locksmithing gear and some other tools and went to her house to see this trunk - it was an impressive old beast and had an obviously hand-made inset lock of hefty proportions. After half an hour of probing, peering and cogitating, I had drawn what I felt the key had to look like, based upon the appearance of the lock and the one ward I could see through the keyhole.

I went to the truck and sawed out a rough blank from some heavy brass plate and, feeling bold, cut it to the dimensions I had worked out on the drawing. I brought it back in the house, stuck it in the lock and it turned on the first try. The original key was inside, lying on the bottom of the trunk. The lock was one of the oldest spring-catch types I've ever seen and when the movers put the key inside they had no idea the trunk would automatically latch. What amazed the client was that my drawing of the "potential" key matched the original right down to the design of the bow.

This wasn't that tough a lock, only three wards, no levers and just the tension of the spring latch to fight. The bow was a traditional sort of design so it isn't much surprise my drawing matched the original, really. Getting all the ward cuts correct on the first try, based only on "brailling" with a series of probes, was as much good luck as good technique, but the whole episode sure impressed the clients. I wish they all went that well!

They did have me make a duplicate of the key, another nice little job.
   - Rich - Wednesday, 03/02/11 13:42:24 EST

Well if you look through "The Royal Armoury at Greenwich 1515-1649: a History of Its Technology" (ISBN: 094809222X / 0-948092-22-X) Williams, Alan & De Rueck, Anthony

They have the original account books talking about sending out bar iron to a "batter mill" to have sheet made from it.

The pieces themselves often show the hammer marks on the inside from dishing and tooling marks from raising.

The various "Venus at the forge of Vulcan" pictures from the renaissance depict an arms and armour shop in the background usually including some sort of helve hammer that would have been used to produce sheet. Also a bench mount shear is common.

So best current "guess" is that armour was worked from sheet, but probably fairly heavy sheet that was then thinned on the anvil as wanted to produce the piece in question. Any scrap would of course be forged welded into new stock or resused for small piece parts.

Sheet metal Gauges: The best pocket ones I have seen in the USA usually do both wire and sheet and are marked with the gauge system they use AND are marked with decimal inch equivalents so you know what you are really getting.

Scrap often had burred edges so a small file is helpful with either such a gauge or with a caliper.

Where such gauges excell is that they are perfectly happy to be in the "mud, crud and blood" of a scrap yard. The more precise instruments do not do well in such environments and cost a lot more too. Tell a machinist that you plan to toss your micrometer loose into a dusty glovebox with other junk and let it rattle around for a year---then *DUCK* *FAST*.

NEVER EVER GO by someone's gauge spec ALWAYS demand metric or decimal inches! (Many people in the SCA grew up quoting gauge sizes never ralizing that there are a *BUNCH* of different systems out there with very different numbers for each gauge!)

Sand: my local arroyo does a quite nice job of sorting stuff so I can get small gravel, coarse sand, fine sand, silty sand, or even clay plates depending on where I load from---very handy!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 03/02/11 13:48:31 EST

Carrying Precision Tools: My (stainless) Helios calipers came in a simple holster type cover. While I don't leave them in the bottom of the car trunk or a dirty wet tool chest they have several hundred thousand miles on them riding in the glove box of different trucks and vans. They also traveled in my brief case for many years.

Good stainless or plated wire gauges may hold up in the bottom of a tool chest with other tools loaded on top of them but plain carbon steel gauges rust and become both damaged and hard to read. Yes, they are much cheaper and generally more durable than good calipers. But they are also only good for one limited purpose.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/02/11 14:47:48 EST

Mike BR, lathe repair. Turns out it WAS the plastic gears. One large one was intermittently stuck in place, eithor from debris or having the surrounding cowl tightened too much. The 2 gears that were connected and released by the operating lever were slightly mangled (hard to see till I knew what I was looking for), also the belt was worn from the gears not engaging properly. Pretty cheap and easy fix, especially considering the gent I bought it from supplied all the parts N/C!! I can send you a pic of the offending part's if you want to compare notes. I also want to say that the ebayer I bought this from is about as honest as the day is long and I'd recommend him to anyone anytime, I'll send his ebay name in a PM to anyone who wants to check his machinery auctions out. Not doing a promo here, I just respect honesty & integrity.
   - Thumper - Wednesday, 03/02/11 14:55:17 EST


I'd be pleased to have that seller's name.
   Rich - Wednesday, 03/02/11 16:01:17 EST

My Favorite Micrometers were old J.T. Slocomb mechanical digital type found in the bottom of a car trunk edge well. They were rusted and locked up. A little WD-40 and some careful working and they freed up. They were the best working most accurate micrometers I've ever used and worked well for 30 years. Then one winter I tried to use them in sub freezing weather and something broke loose in the read-out gearing.

A few years later I called J.T. Slocomb and they said they could fix them for about $80. At the time I did not have the money so I waited. . . Sadly J.T. Slocomb was put out of business due to their air craft division supplying phony X-rays of parts. . .

J.T. Slocomb micrometers are frequently listed on ebay at fairly decent prices. I've tried to replace my 1" digitals but ended up with two odd pairs with specialized anvil faces and one with screwed up dead-out crystals. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/02/11 16:19:35 EST

I picked up another old forge. Was told it's from the 1880-1890. I know it IS older than my Champion. The "blower" is wood handled connected to a "ratcheting" mechinizim(?) that turns the blower. 28-30 inch pan, 1" flat belt drive, 4 legs. very good overall shape. Need to fab a couple of the ratchet engagement teeth. Can't find a name. Anyone have any info???
   - keith - Wednesday, 03/02/11 16:49:18 EST

Keith, There were dozens of manufacturers of forges and many did not mark them permanently. Designs were often copied and many manufacturers made very nearly identical forges. Even the major manufacturers made them for others and left their marks off the castings. Often these products were marked with stencils or paint which only has a short life on such things.

Its old iron, knowing who made it will not provide parts or make it work better. Enjoy it for what it is.

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/02/11 17:25:43 EST

I am very lucky to have the 1" L. S. Starret micrometer that I used for 21 years at VOGT. It and a couple of dial calipers made by Brown and Sharpe and Starret were a gift to me when the plant shut down. My Dad gave me a set of Mauser metric vernier calipers about 30 years ago, and I also have a little pain of solid brass vernier calipers I bought in Hanau Germany at Gebruder Ott on the square.
I also have a fair collection of gauges etc. I would say that specifing ordering and checking in decimal inches is critical, since so many folks use different "Gauges" to call out materials.

Reading a good old fashioned micrometer in inches is a piece of cake once you remember that the spindle is a 40 threads per inch. So i/40th of an inch is always 0.025". One turn advances the spindle .025". then you have those handy marks on the frame to tell you haw many turns(.025"s) you have moved.
I taught about 30 engineering co-ops this sytem to remember and all got it in maybe 60 seconds, where none had retained the classromm training:)
   ptree - Wednesday, 03/02/11 19:05:17 EST

I like the Tesa Tesamaster micrometer. It's so smooth and quick to read. My favorite dial caliper is a 20+ year old Etalon that was still factory sealed. I like dial indicators. There are especially a lot of minute differences and variety when it comes to test indicators. Interapid and Compac make some great ones. Indicators are fun to me because there are so many good brands and varieties. I have a good assortment of them now.
   - Ty Murch - Wednesday, 03/02/11 20:25:47 EST

While I have a drawer full of micrometers, and a calipers as well, I dont see any reason not to use a sheet metal gage to measure sheet metal.

When you need to know the absolute measurement of something small, a micrometer is perfect.

But when working with sheet metal, you dont really need to know to the thousandth of the inch- the goal is to tell whether its 20 gage, or 16 gage.
And for that, a circular sheet metal gage is perfect.

I have two- a good one, a Starrett, that is kept, oiled and in its original paper sleeve, in the machinists chest. And then, a cheap General brand, that is on the shelf by the workbench. The General gages cost under 20 bucks, and are, unlike micrometers or calipers, completely unbreakable. Weld spatter and grinding grit wont hurt em either.

Its true that if you work with sheet metal much, you can tell, by feel, the gage most of the time, but even then, 22 gage versus 24 gage can sometimes be tricky.

I buy a lot of machinists tools in bulk- whenever I am at a garage sale or auction, I buy a whole chest if I can. Easy to find friends who need duplicates, although since I often have 3 people working in my shop, I tend to keep at least two of most things. But if you keep your eyes open, you can usually get Starrett tools for a fraction of full retail, used.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 03/02/11 20:50:50 EST

For standard 2.25" face indicators I like Starrett, but I am not keen on their little "last word" test indicators. Not enough finesse. Their full size indicators are easy to read and durable. I think they try to make the little ones equally durable which makes them cludgy to use. I have a good Teacock 0-25/.0025 indicator that is Very smooth. The face is a little difficult to read due to the too delicate lines. I've also got a 60 year old Ames test set in wooden box that came with a full size indicator. Very smooth, made a little better than Starrett.

I've got a bunch of odd ball micrometers and measuring tools. All are very good quality and I truct them. But I've seen many newer precision tools, even "top" brands that I could not trust and would have been very disappointed if I had purchased them.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/02/11 20:52:31 EST


Sure glad you got it fixed -- and that the seller turned out to be such a stand-up guy. Those are definitely the same gears I replaced.

My lathe has kind of taken over my free time lately. For example, I decided I wanted to try metal spinning on it. For the last couple days I've been working an machining a spur center with a #3 Morse taper so I can turn handles for the lathe chisels I need to turn mandrels for spinning.

I also should thank the Guru, who explained a lot of lathes when I stopped by in December, and turned me on to the South Bend "How to Run a Lathe" book.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 03/02/11 20:59:29 EST

Mike BR, thanks for the tip on the book (via guru), gonna have to get me one ASAP as the lathe is eating up my curiosity quota daily and I "NEED" to work with it LOL !!
   - Thumper - Wednesday, 03/02/11 21:46:09 EST

Hmmmmm Very nice spur centers are readily available. The Wooden Post has a 4 piece set for $40. But don't let me dissuade you from making your own tools.

If making your own you might consider the way the old wood working drive centers were constructed, they had a small arm with a single point. They look sort of like a fly cutter.

If fast tracking some wood work I would skip the spur center and just chuck the wood to drive it. Cut off the chucked end as part of the turning.

If you do not have a suitable chuck then a wooden one attached to a face plate will do. A chuck to drive square stock can be pretty simple. It could have a tapered square hole OR a round hole and four set screws threaded into the wood. It would act like a 4-jaw chuck.

Bruce Blackistone was asking about wood turning speeds. Generally wood lathes turn very fast but I reminded him of the early spring pole type lathes that turned relatively slow as well as in two directions. . . Beautiful work was turned on them. Fast is nice because the faster it turns the more like a piece of round a square billet feels and turns like.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/02/11 22:16:26 EST

How to Run a Lathe - Published by South Bend Lathe:

Originally published in 1914 and updated more than annually (mine is a 56th edition published in 1966 so probably the last edition). It was written for South Bend Lathes but applies to virtually all engine lathes and even modern lathes share most of the same features and use the same tooling.

Millions of machinists world wide have learned to operate an engine lathe and most of the related tasks from this little booklet. It was the manual that came with South Bend lathes for decades and it was used as a text book in trade schools for an equally long time. It is simple and complete and will soon be 100 years old and still as applicable as when the first edition was written.

It includes such esoteric operations as spring and coil winding to cutting keyways and using a tool post grinder.

The only thing in the book that may not apply exactly to a new bench lathe is the change gear diagrams.

We bought several copies directly from South Bend years ago. There are many reprint copies currently available as well as CD and download versions.

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/02/11 23:17:41 EST

Like all books the South Bend book is not the be-all end-all book to lathe operation. But I think it is THE best starting place. Most general machining text books are not as complete as the South Bend book. However, there are many books of shop kinks (old and new) and some very old machinists manuals that include some very interesting setups devised prior to lathe chucks becoming the norm for every lathe.

The only standard work holding tooling that came with a lathe was a face plate and centers. The vast majority of cylindrical work was turned between centers. Short cylindrical and rectangular work was held on the face plate by a variety of methods. There were a lot of tricks to using this simple working holding system to machine virtually anything that had a cylindrical or flat surface. A lathe is almost as good a machine for squaring stock as a shaper of milling machine.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/03/11 00:01:06 EST

I found a 1942 reprint on ebay, only $12.00 including shipping. Can't wait to immerse myself !!
   - Thumper - Thursday, 03/03/11 02:23:41 EST

Good price considering today's shipping costs. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 03/03/11 02:54:02 EST

Must be nostalgia week! I have one of those forges with a wooden pump handle and ratchet mechanism. Belonged to my Dad. I use it for school demonstrations where the kids find it as interesting as the blacksmithing specially when they invariably ask how old it is and I tell them it is almost exactly twice as old as I am.
Then I saw the post about the South Bend book, "How To Run a Lathe." My copy, which I treasure, has an "i" added after the "u" in run on the cover title and some wag has done the same to every copy I have ever seen.
   Hugh McDonald - Thursday, 03/03/11 08:25:13 EST

Jock, what is your experience with variable frequency drives. I am thinking about changing some of my belt grinders to use the VFD for variable speeds. Lots of models available-wide price range- any help appreciated.
   - Ray Clontz - Thursday, 03/03/11 10:21:20 EST

Ray, I have never used electronic VFD's. I think low speed torque is a problem but grinders never go but so slow. Some folks were putting them on power hammers but I question driving an air compressor with electronic components. . .

I do know that all variable speed drives, both mechanical and electric have problems of complexity. While some of the belt type drives work well we had three Taiwanese Bridgport clones that all developed terrible noise in their drives which we could not fix. We rebuilt one with new parts and it lasted a few months. We rebuilt another (new bushings and keys) with our own parts and there was no change in the rattle. I came to the conclusion that I would MUCH prefer changing belts on a quiet drive than cranking a knob on a noisy one. . .

On the other hand our ORIGINAL Shop Smith (the inventor's model) has a variable speed belt drive that is relatively quiet after decades of use and wearing out several sets of belts. . .

I suspect there are similar difference in electronic drives. I have heard electronic drives that were noisy, varying from annoying high pitch whines to 60hz growls. . . I suspect you get what you pay for if everything else is equal.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/03/11 11:10:38 EST

Electronic drives. . . Well, I DO have a little experience with the little light dimmer style fan controls. Those have a bad habit of creeping, the speed changing one way or the other, usually slower. I've used them on small gas forge blowers and the speed change is enough to make a BIG difference in the forge operation. We also had a little pump that had an internal speed control. It was an expensive piece of hardware and it had creep as well. Same with the after market power feeds on our milling machines (creep, especially at low speeds).

I built ONE large industrial stepper control drive. It worked great and would match the speed of an induction motor under varying loads perfectly. It was part of a planetary dive system where increasing the speed would feed a cutting tool and reducing speed would return the tool but no-feed required an exact rotational match. The control was accurate enough to set tool feed in fractions of a thousandths of an inch (0.0002") per rotation from 0 to +/- .200" per rotation. But I think there was something in the neighborhood of $10,000 worth of parts in 1990 dollars for a drive equivalent to 1HP (motor, translator, power supply, sensors and processor). The feedback loop could detect an RPM change within 15 degrees of rotation and compensate exactly. No creep in this one. However, the large stepper motor running at high frequency was a bit noisy.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/03/11 11:50:32 EST

Ray Clontz,

I've used two different variable speed drive setups that worked well. One is a DC motor with electronic variable speed on a Delta scroll saw I own. It will hold the preset rpm within a couple rpm anywhere from 12 stroke per minute up to 2000 spm, all with full torque and it is load compensating.

The other drive that worked well was a 3-phase VFD on a friend's band saw. Again, it would hold any preset rpm from very low to very high and was dead stable with full torque throughout the range. The VFD ran on single-phase and converted it to 3ph for the motor.

Neither of these drive systems is cheap, by any means. The cheap ones, like on DC treadmill motors and low-end variable speed machine tools, generally creep badly as Jock noted. They also rarely supply full torque throughout their range. I think that the latest generation of 1ph to 3ph VFD's are pretty good, when purchased as a complete unit with motor.
   - Rich - Thursday, 03/03/11 12:53:24 EST

Lindsay books re-printed it; there was a copy listed at abebooks.com for about US$12 including shipping when last I checked.

The hardback version is a bit more pricey

   Thomas P - Thursday, 03/03/11 13:08:08 EST

Rich- can't believe you have a scroll saw- most people don't even know what a scroll saw is. I bought a delta scroll saw when I was about 12- 13 years old- still have it in my shop- still use it. I have been researching the 220V single phase to 3 phase VFD- as you said, is the way to go. Not too costly if you shop around. Surplus center has a 3Ph that will put out over 6 hp when mated to the correct VFD unit at 2340 rpm for $129.00. A VFD unit will cost an additional $200- not bad considering what the variable speed 2x72 belt grinders sell for. Thanks for your input.
   - Ray Clontz - Thursday, 03/03/11 13:33:09 EST

Ray Clontz, I have lots of experience around VFDs on industrial equipment. Things like feed scrolls on shotblast machines, forge shop conveyors and the like, and at least the industrial units were tuff, and held speed button on. If you use a regular ac motor instead of the motors rated for a VFD, it may be buzzy and may not last as long, but they work.
   ptree - Thursday, 03/03/11 14:03:15 EST

Hugh M Donald....I know I need to fix and fire it up, and I expect a finer slow air supply without constant arm motion as with my Champion, but what kind of heat can I expect? Thinking of using it to introduce the grandkids.
Took ownership of a "new" book..."General-Industrial Machine Shop" by Harold V. Johnson. I've only thumbed thru it,though. Printed 1963, first used apparently in 1965. The author is from the Industrial Education Dept. Canton Community College, Canton,Illinois. Was used by the Boulder Valley School Dist.
   - keith - Thursday, 03/03/11 17:44:41 EST

Keith, the air supply does not make much difference in heat. Its either enough for a small fire or a large fire. Fuel makes the biggest difference given the same forge but forge firepot types vary. Those with deep bowl shaped pots make a more concentrated fire than flat bottomed forges. Lots of variables.

There are lots of old machine shop text books. Most are pretty much the same however the newer ones are full of color photos and priced like all college text books (too high). The newer books also cover a lot more (since technology moves on) but do a generally poorer job I think.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/03/11 18:11:18 EST

Yeah Ray, I've this old Delta for twenty-five years or so now. It made me a lot of money when I had the sign shop, cutting out letters for trade show displays and stuff. I don't use it much anymore, but it has been too good a tool to get rid of, if you know what I mean. I just know that if I get rid of it I'll have a need for it two weeks after I let it go - never fails.
   - Rich - Thursday, 03/03/11 20:29:04 EST

I'm sure making the spur center (which I've finished except for turning the separate center pin) makes no economic sense. But I'm still in the kid-in-a-candy-shop stage with my lathe -- whenever I hear of an operation that can possible be performed on, it want to try. On the other hand, I don't really know how I'll use it long term.

If I pull out my credit card every time I come with a new use that requires a new accessory, I'm afraid I'll end up with a shelf full of unused stuff. If I make everything I can, I'll probably end up with a shelf full of lower-quality unused stuff. But at least I'll have learned something along the way.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 03/03/11 21:13:11 EST

There is nothing wrong with making your own tools. Depending on your skills they can often be better tools than those you purchase. They are certainly more satisfying to own.

I've made friction drive face plates with sacrificial surfaces (you don't like to machine into your good tools). I've converted small live centers to large bull centers. I've made both carriage and cross slide stops. I've made boring bars and tool holders for both my small and larger lathes.

One handy tool post device I've made was an electric die grinder holder gor tool post grinding. On the 6" lathe the holder was for a Dremel. Sadly the Dremel quit and the replacement was different. The new ones have a 3/4"-12 UN thread, the old ones had a straight cylindrical spindle.

The little grinding setup was made to grind arcs on small cams. It also worked great to dress all my used lathe centers.

What I like about my old American Iron with threaded spindle noses is that I can purchase common nuts to fit the spindles and weld them onto plates or fixtures.
   - guru - Friday, 03/04/11 01:04:21 EST

i recently broke my buck special in half using it as a crow bar at work. i work for a security company that guards and assists coal mines. I've used this knife for a lot of hard work and was kinda surprised. but thankfully there happened to be a furnace that the mine welder built inside the shop building. so i took a bunch of coal and started a fire in the furnace. after re-forging the part that broke i sanded down the blade to give it a nice finish. after letting it air cool i checked the blade. the part that broke discolored and is now a golden/bronze color. what the hell did i do? this is my first attempt at forging/ reforging anything. the only reason i did this was because the knife was cheap, and has a lifetime guarantee. the knife seems fine but i cant trust it until i know for sure what happened. is the blade still okay to use? I've used it for simple work but nothing that would put real stress on the blade. is the blade still okay?
   Jeff - Friday, 03/04/11 03:13:54 EST

you can email me at templarhound@yahoo.com thank you =)
   Jeff - Friday, 03/04/11 03:14:29 EST

Jeff, If its an actual "Buck" brand knife it was not that cheap (compared to a lot of the juck that is around). Its not a high price knife either but my little 505 folders that I've been carrying for 40 years sell for $30 to $45.

TO the best of my knowledge all Buck knives are 440C stainless or some other alloy steel. IT is a difficult steel to work with. In Buck knives it tends to be brittle and I have broken tips off doing things you shouldn't. I also find it hard to sharpen and to not hold an edge long. . . But the stainless never rusts and thus is low maintenance.

The yellow is from heating the steel. Stainless discolors from high temperature oxidation and will scale (turn black) just like carbon steel.

As to the warranty. . . Once you try to fix anything on your own, especially using the wrong methods, you can say goodbye to a factory repair or replacement.
   - guru - Friday, 03/04/11 11:33:30 EST

Lathes and tapers again if I may. I am a self taught blacksmith (thor help me) and a rehabilited software guy, so please bear with me. I recently bought an old lathe newly deposited in the local scrap yard. The tail stock has what appears to be a #6 Jarno taper (what a cool guy Jarno must of been). Does any one have a source for live centers in jarno tapers. Most of the suppliers either go "huh?" or "sorry". Does using a MT sleve and cutting my own Taper make any sense? Thanks in advance

   - Tim in Orygun - Friday, 03/04/11 11:48:06 EST

Tim, You have several options.

1) as you suggested, obtain a Morse sleeve and Machine it to fit the Jarno taper. Research required.

2) Remachine the tailstock ram to a Morse taper. This requires a reamer to do the job right.

3) Modify or make a bunch of tools to fit. Requires a taper attachment and very careful measuring. Tapers must be perfect to work. It helps to relieve about 1/3 of the middle so that imperfections are less of an issue.

The two most used tools in the tailstock are a drill chuck and centers (plain, live, wood). One chuck covers a lot of territory. But I also use MT shank bits in the lathe.

To make a taper that fits right you are probably going to need to do some blueing in, using fine sand paper to make slight adjustments in the taper. It is picky work.

Stark industrial sells Jarno centers. . but that is only part of the issue.

   - guru - Friday, 03/04/11 13:51:14 EST

Lathe Tapers: The Jarno and B&S tapers are pretty rare but I've known a bunch of folks with machinery with those tapers. On our 16" South Bend the spindle requires a special heavy bushing to fill the large bore and accept a center. I believe the outside is a Jarno taper, the inside is a #3 MT. When we bought this lathe the bushing was missing, we obtained one from South Bend.
   - guru - Friday, 03/04/11 14:40:43 EST

to guru. yeah about your 505 folder and my buck special. they cost about the same about 45$ i've noticed that mine wont hold an edge long either...or a good one...but that aside these knives are work horses. thanks for telling me what the discoloration was from i appreciate it. and i did some stress tests....it held up fine XD i even tapped it with a hammer and then gave it a medium hit. didn't bend break or chip. so aside from the discoloration i suppose its fine...i have a tip for you for your 505 folder. I've had my buck for i guess 3 years. and I've never gotten this thing RAZOR sharp. but i noticed that if you make micro serrations along the blade with a diamond sharpener that the cutting ability greatly increases and it retains an edge far far longer. and if you ever get tired of the micro serrations you can strop the edge smooth ^-^ i always appreciate your help!
   jeff - Friday, 03/04/11 17:44:28 EST

Buck Knives: My first 505 was bought in 1976 when some friends who had a Buck dealership was selling off their inventory at cost. I bought a bunch of knives from them. They were getting out because they had been promised a specific territory and a local discount store started carrying them. . .

My first had linen micarta scales. I also bought a limited edition bicentennial knife which I gave to my wife and several 101 "hunter" folders and a small "prince" folder with linen micarta slabs. The knife my wife had was stolen less than a year later by one of here school students. I misplaced my 505 with the linen micarta scales in 1998. It may still be somewhere in my old shop or down in some machine. . but it is just as likely that it got swept up with a bunch of trash and went out. . . I replaced it shortly after with a rosewood slab knife. The wood slabs do not hold up in the pocket as coins and such wear the thin edges. I lost it somewhere and bought two more replacements because that model is getting hard to find. I still have all the rest in the OEM boxes except for one hunter I carry in the car.
   - guru - Friday, 03/04/11 20:22:38 EST

Buck Knives: For myself i don't really like folders not sure why. but i've always been a fixed blade man. the buck special is pretty much a small bowie knife i carry with me everywhere. i owned one buck knife in particular that i loved it had about a 3 inch blade, really wide. really awesome for digging some ginseng or blood root. gave it to my mom and picked up a 2006 limited edition smith and Wesson used it for about a year and the handle, although aesthetically gorgeous to look at, broke. i picked up the buck special at walmart for about 50$ after tax. its a real workhorse...when it holds an edge lol. love that knife even with its problems. i know i could have sent it in for the lifetime warranty and had it replaced. but i had THAT knife for so long that a replacement wouldn't feel the same to me. its handle is a tiny bit warped from use its pommel is scarred from use as a hammer, the edge shows sharpening and use scuffs. all that minor aesthetic damage is now what makes that knife beautiful to me. but im just weird like that i guess lol. but i think the Buck brand is a great brand. other than buck i turn to Cold Steel for my knife needs. i love there 1055 carbon series knives like the true flight thrower. and they make a pretty wicked karambit as well.
   jeff - Friday, 03/04/11 20:44:52 EST

whats your favorite knife brands?
   jeff - Friday, 03/04/11 20:46:23 EST

the buck skinner is the one i gave to my mother. it is by far my favorite buck knife.
   jeff - Friday, 03/04/11 21:04:28 EST

I've got a Buck 110 that I bought 30 years ago as a Boy Scout. Still bring it camping or to buy anything that'll have to be tied down. I snapped the tip off once and Buck dutifully replaced just the blade and shipped it back to me. Day to day I carry a little Schrade 1040T, I think the smallest still useful knife.
   Michael - Friday, 03/04/11 23:02:37 EST

I had carried Sears pocket knives for a number of years. They were simple inexpensive knives with a black nylon slabs. I think they were made by one of the major makers. . . But like 90% of the pocket knives at the time you could break a fingernail trying to get the blades open and some were so tight you never used them. What impressed me about the Bucks at the time was the fact that I could take every knife on the display, large or small and they all opened with ease. The fact that even the slim 501's and 505's were locking blades was a nice. Someone gave me a gift of a beautiful little switch blade because they thought I needed a knife I could open with one hand. But I can open the the little 505's single handedly or even IN my pocket. While the switch blade was short enough to be legal in Virginia as long as it was not concealed (like where you would automatically put it in your pocket), it was illegal in the surrounding states. So I have stuck with my Buck which opens just as easily.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/05/11 08:59:54 EST

I don't have a taper attachment, so have been turning tapers by offsetting the tailstock. (Before I visited Guru I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what would happen to the chuck when I offset the tailstock. The answer, of course, is that it sits on the shelf beneath the lathe.)
   Mike BR - Saturday, 03/05/11 09:18:06 EST

Tailstock offset was a common method of making low tapers. Its a tad tricky. Once setup it is not the same taper on the next workpiece unless that piece is exactly the same length and the centers drilled to exactly the same depth. . .

Short tapers can be machined with the compound rest. Longer tapers can be made by moving the carriage and match finishing. However, this is a very imperfect method where locking tapers need to be as close to perfect as possible.

So, we have two methods available to us without a taper attachment.

Note that many folks make their own taper attachments. The advantage of user built taper attachments is that they can be longer than commercial attachments and make steeper tapers if the user wishes. For temporary use a taper "attachment" does not need to have all the bells and whistles. A couple brackets to hold the guide bar at the right angle and a slide that attaches to the cross slide is all it takes. You could make your own slide or use a ball slide. Those out of old printers may be applicable to a small lathe.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/05/11 11:57:13 EST

Bench Lathes - Stands:

The majority of small hobbiest lathes are bench lathes. The "bench" part of the lathe is often overlooked when it comes to the utility of the lathe. Years ago my Dad had our 6" Craftsman mounted on an old chest of drawers. It worked pretty good for light work and the drawers provided storage. But then he did a job machining a bunch of aluminum blocks that were out of balance. . . All the joints in the chest of drawers loosened then the piece of furniture collapsed!

The next stand for our little lathe was made in the "Company" shop from 6" channel and some plate. The shop needed a small lathe for a time so Dad loaned the lathe to the shop in exchange for the stand. This stand was two verticals and two horizontals made of the same channel. The middle cross piece made a small shelf. An old cookie sheet was used for a chip pan. It was an OK stand.

When Dad replaced the old worn out Craftsman with a new Atlas he kept the stand and I inherited the Craftsman. I built a heavy three legged stand using heavy 4" angle, a piece of 8" H-beam, several pieces of plate and angle iron. All this was old rusted used stock I had on hand except for the plate which I bought new. The piece of 1/4" plate had slots milled in it for the motor and backshaft stand. A piece of 1/8" plate was bent to make a chip pan. The triangular space between the legs was framed with angle iron and filled with wood to make a large shelf.

This "stand" weighs about three times more than the little Craftsman lathe which weighs less than 100 pounds. Having three legs spaced a good distance apart makes the stand rock steady. The extra mass resists out of balance loads so there is no vibration. It made the little lathe a much better machine. Later I added a two drawer tool chest unit on the shelf to organize all the tools and attachments.

I bought a second 6" craftsman as a "spare". The fellow that had it mounted it on a light sheet metal Sears "work bench". Even with the heavy added plywood top and steel cover plate I could tell the bench was not a sufficient. The weight of the lathe was twisting and distorting the light duty cabinet. . .

So think about it when you bring home that new machine. Its like setting up any machine. Some thought and sometimes some investment is required.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/05/11 13:58:15 EST

I got in the habit of not removing my chuck when turning between centers. I just had straight shank center I made of mild steel and every time I used it I'd chuck it up and dress it true. Usually easy to arrange things so a chuck jaw could engage the dog.

For tapers by off-setting the tailstock, I turn the part cylindrical between centers and then use an indicator to check the taper as I adjust the tailstock. Easy to hit "nuts on" that way.
   - grant - nakedanvil - Saturday, 03/05/11 18:36:00 EST

We use little straight shanked centers in a chuck for all kind of things. They are handy in the drill press or mill if hand taping to line up and hold the tap wrench straight. They are also better than a drill for lining up the chuck.

The only problem with these little tools is I think I've had to make a new one every time I need one. Good temporary ones are made out of whatever steel is handy. But occasionally I make them out of an old tap shank if I need a good hard point. If I remember, I have one or two points out of live centers that I converted to special centers. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 03/05/11 18:55:47 EST

If you dress it every time you use it, it doesn't even matter if the chuck isn't true. Unlike the tailstock center which needs to be a bushing, the headstock center is just a locator.
   - grant - nakedanvil - Saturday, 03/05/11 19:07:30 EST

I'd thought about putting a spur center in the chuck for wood turning. The problem is that my 7 X 10 mini lathe is barely 10" between centers on a hot day. Subtract a couple of inches for the chuck (and 1" for a live center in the tail stock) and there isn't really that much left.

On the other hand, 7" or so seems to be enough for much of the metal turning I want to do. Any neat ideas on using a lathe dog with the chuck? (Can't be that hard, but I don't have a good thought picture of how it would work.)
   Mike BR - Saturday, 03/05/11 19:28:18 EST

Well Mike, I usually end up welding something onto the dog so it can be driven by the chuck. Or heating and re-shaping the dogs tail. They're usually steel.
   - grant - nakedanvil - Saturday, 03/05/11 19:32:45 EST

Not as big of a deal on a small lathe anyway. I had to deal with a chuck that weighed more than your lathe (maybe)!
   - grant - nakedanvil - Saturday, 03/05/11 19:35:14 EST

I need the top gear for a champion 200 blower. The blower that I found was frozen and someone tried to break it free with a chisel. any help would thankful.
   kenneth - Saturday, 03/05/11 20:13:30 EST

Blower Gears: Kenneth, On all orphaned machinery you have to research and spec out the parts yourself or have someone that understands the mechanics to do it for you. The parts then have to be special made or modified to fit.

Plain spur gears (straight gears) can be purchased and machined to fit. The helical or spiral gears are special and irreplaceable. The only source is another old blower. Many of the bearings are also specials. The few folks that rebuild these old blowers re-machine shafts and housings to fit modern bearings or make bushings to fit.

Determining a gear size starts with counting the number of teeth, then the pitch diameter (about half way down the teeth). From this you should be able to determine the Diametral Pitch (teeth per inch of diameter). Gear teeth also come in two pitch angles, 14.5° and 20°. Gear pitch profile gauges help make these determinations. This is a tool that most job shops and a few Master Machinists have in their tool kits.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/05/11 23:37:24 EST

Long Work, Short Lathe For wood turning the tailstock does not need to be aligned all that perfect. Many folks have made lathe bed extensions that the tailstock slides off onto lengthening the distance between centers. I've seen this on large metal turning lathes (A 20 foot bed extended to 24 foot to handle 20 foot work. The extension fabricated and bolted directly to the lathe. . . and a 10" bench lathe extended with an extra bed from a similar lathe.). For wood turning the bed extension could be hardwood. . .

Chuck Safety: The handy thing about the little lathes is handling the accessories in one hand. As soon as you have a 13" (330mm) or up floor lathe you need both hands to handle a chuck. The first time I removed a chuck from my 13" South Bend I did it the same way I always had on the 6", with my left hand supporting the chuck as I unthreaded it with the right. . . No matter how strong you are or how ready you think you are, you cannot compensate for that sudden application of 20 to 30 pounds to your hand. The short 2" drop smashes your fingers against the lathe bed. I was lucky I only had bruised bones, not broken or crushed.

The safe way to handle such chucks is to make a wooden V block that is fitted to the lathe and just clears the chuck. You usually need one for each chuck. Then when the chuck is removed from the spindle it gently drops onto the wood support. The same chuck support makes it easy to install chucks as well.

When chucks get to be over 40-50 lbs (20-25 kg) its time to rig up a jib crane next to the lathe unless you have an overhead crane. At this size lathe the work often needs to be loaded with a crane (or fork lift) as well.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/05/11 23:40:52 EST

i am wanting to make a gas forge but am leaning away form Kaowool because of the reaction that it has with borax is there any alternatives that will work?
   alan - Sunday, 03/06/11 00:31:40 EST

How would a person go about making a template and then getting the bit to run true to the template when using a lathe ?
   Mike T. - Sunday, 03/06/11 01:11:15 EST

I read an article where a guy said he crushed soft firebrick ( not into a powder, but into little pieces ) he then lined the clay all over with these pieces. He said he then adjusted the flame to swirl around ( in a circular motion ) the inside of the pipe forge, he said using this process he was able to weld steel. I have not tried this method myself.
   Mike T. - Sunday, 03/06/11 01:19:59 EST

Alan, There are no direct alternatives to Kaowool blanket other than the same product in other brands. There is nothing as light weight and as highly efficient as Kaowool. Other refractories are not as low density or flexible. Some are higher temperature, many are lower.

In rigid refractories the best are commercially fired hard fire brick, followed by insulating brick. The more insulating, the lower the density and more fragile the brick. After fired refractories come the water activated mixes (pourable or ramable types). These are not nearly as strong or chemical resistant as the hard fired refractories. Far below these are home brew refractories.

If you make a gas forge from firebrick it will work. It will be very heavy, take longer to heat up and the exterior will get very hot. Once hot it will give some of that stored heat back into the work. But you also lose heat through the outside. Without exterior insulation a brick gas forge can be very uncomfortable to be near.

The difference in weight is very significant. A small brick gas forge is almost too heavy to pickup and a medium sized one takes two people to move. One person can easily move a medium sized kaowool blanket lined forge. While the outside of a kaowool forge does get hot it may be nearly 1000 F cooler on the exterior.

Each material has its pros and cons.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/06/11 03:43:40 EST

Lathe Templates: Mike, this is fairly simple. You make a template and attach it to the bed of the lathe. Then you attach an arm with a cam roller on to the tool post. Then you manually follow the template by turning both the carriage and cross slide wheels at the same time. Using feel, backing off if there is excessive resistance, feeding when there is no resistance, you can smoothly follow a template by hand. Just be sure it is sturdy and well attached.

You can turn tapers, spindles and bowls using this method. For bowls the template goes across the bed and the roller should contact the back of the template preventing the tool from cutting more than it should.

The limitation is the diameter of the follower. For complex shapes the cutter and follower should be the same diameter. But for things with corners larger than the radius of the follower the cutter and follower almost act as points following a line. If you are not sure, lay it out and graph the tool path made by the follower. The follower does not need to be a roller but it will work smoother.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/06/11 03:58:58 EST


Line your forge with Kaowool, then lay a thin hard fire brick (or a piece of refractory) on the floor.
   - Dave Hammer - Sunday, 03/06/11 08:44:56 EST

Yeah -- hefting that 4# chuck gets old after a while (grin). A bed extension is on my future projects list, along with a taper attachment (and about 3 lifetimes' worth of other stuff. . . ).
   Mike BR - Sunday, 03/06/11 08:58:55 EST

Hey, now! I thought the wooden bed extension was a Quick and Dirty solution to making long wood turnings on a short lathe! :)

The template method I described above with a straight bar would work for those Jarno tapers Tim needs to make. In this case following the bar with a "feeler" is a matter of applying gentle feed pressure toward the head stock and slowly backing off the cross feed. The advantage to this over tailstock setover is that it will produce the same results over and over on various length pieces. You also do not have to disconnect the cross feed not OR put the tailstock out of adjustment. The disadvantage is that it requires making brackets to attach to the bed and making the follower and attaching it to the cross slide.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/06/11 09:27:49 EST

someone who has a yoga studio wants a bell/gong in the shape of the om symbol (I had to wiki it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aum )At first I thought of cutting it out of 1/8 or 3/16 sheet steel and hanging the pieces in the right positions .But I don't think that would necessarily have a very nice tone when struck.Anyone tried anything like that?
Another possibility would be to use a conventional round gong shape in copper or possibly steel about 1 foot diam and apply the om to it by hammering as in reppousee or some sort of etching or patinising.What weight of copper sheet would be needed? Would it have to be hammered all over to work harden it? I have made 4" copper ladles by hammmering into depression in a wood block.Any help getting started in the right direction greatly appreciated.
   wayne @nb - Sunday, 03/06/11 15:45:21 EST

Wayne the proportions of the piece determine the tone. My gut feeling is that 1/8" may be too light for a flat gong with arms but that depends on big you plan to make it. Generally the heavier the gong the more sustain it will have.

Other considerations are hanging points. If you look at tubular chimes the better ones are hung at about 1/4 way down the tube. However, the proportions, length, diameter and wall thickness have more effect on the sound.

A primary consideration if mechanically joining pieces of a gong is preventing buzzes. Connections need to be tight. Brazed or welded is best. If applying appliques, sweating them on would be best.

Have you considered cutting the Aum out. Making it Negative space in the side of the gong? Perhaps in two places on opposite sides? A good design might be to make a gong about twice as long as the space where the cut outs are to there is a good mass at the rim to vibrate.. . . Or maybe the opposite. . Lots of experimentation in these things.

While bronze makes good bells copper when dead soft kills sound.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/06/11 16:42:50 EST

I wasn't being sarcastic, it's just that I've got more plans than time. I've actually been pondering fabricating a steel bed extension (for wood turning only, of course) that might be a little more versatile. First on the list, though is finishing my lathe chisels . . .
   Mike BR - Sunday, 03/06/11 16:55:23 EST

Gee WHO could have too many unfinished projects? :)
   - guru - Sunday, 03/06/11 17:55:12 EST

Wood Turning Gouges: A decade or so ago one of the popular "name" wood turning tools was a gouge made from round stock. The exterior was round and a groove was milled in the tool about 1/2 its diameter then the cutting edge ground from the outside. It was a very simple tool, strong and popular among turners. The same could be forged or small ones be grooved with an angle grinder.

The originals were milled from W1 or O1 with no tang. A full diameter section was fitted into the handle. Strong and simple.

The wood turning tool I've used the most was the "skew" or angled chisel. It is beveled from both sides so that it can be used in all directions. Turned on edge it is used for making narrow V-bottomed grooves and cutting off. Due to its versatility I almost never use a straight chisel unless the skew is dull or missing.

I think all the Shopsmith turning tools were made of 3/16" x 3/4" steel except the gouge which was made from wider stock. We also had a bunch of Craftsman carbide wood turning tools. These were miserable things. Carbide does not sharpen like steel and the mild steel shanks were too light and would bend under load. They were like trying to turn wood with a hard rubber stick. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 03/06/11 20:19:55 EST

A good coat of ITC-100 helps prevent kaowool from being dissolved with molten flux.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 03/06/11 21:57:39 EST

We had a set or 2 of the Craftsman tool steel wood turning tools. In addition We has made some special tools from old files, several bead tools and a few other shapes.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/06/11 21:59:37 EST

Old 10 inch and 8 inch (250 and 200 mm) flat files make good wood turning tools. Half rounds can also be made into gouges. To reduce the chance of breaking they should have all the teeth ground off and most of the length tempered to a spring temper.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/06/11 23:09:50 EST

Some of the vises I have look like the ball at both ends of the handle was forged to shape and size after installation. Was that the usual way they were made?

There was a four part article on vise restoration in some journal some years back. One of the segments was available online. I lost my link to that. Would someone please post that link again?

And, is there anyway to make all four parts available to the general public?

   - Tom H - Monday, 03/07/11 19:56:18 EST

Tom H.
The link to part 1 is http://www.anvilmag.com/smith/107f2.htm. You could contact the editor of Anvil Magazine, Rob Edwards, about acquiring the other three articles.

One time, I upset the end of a handle and forged it into a decent ball. On the other end, I threaded a portion and drilled, tapped a blind hole in a ball. After the handle was inserted, I screwed on the ball.

Both ends could be upset and shaped, but one would be done while the handle shank is through the screw head, a little awkward.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/07/11 20:26:17 EST

Tom on all good vises the ball ends are upset on the bar. Occasionally you can see the marks from the gripper dies from the upsetting machine. On very old vises with wrought handles the ball ends may have been forge welded on as a ring then shaped in dies. I have made replacement handles this way.

I've never used a vise with screw on vise handle knobs that stayed put. I've had them with plastic handles and brass inserts, screw on balls and the current Chinese cap with socket head cap screw. These last ones work loose even when the vise is not in use. . .
   - guru - Monday, 03/07/11 20:56:40 EST

Tom H. I have an old vise that came without a handle. I found the appropriate sized bar and sized the ends to fit snuggly in large nuts, I then welded them in place both top and bottom. You could grind them to round, but I didn't spend the time (I needed the vise ASAP), and now I don't much care...they can raise a blood blister as well as a round end can LOL. I can send you pic's and spec's if you'd like. They've held for over 5 years w/ no problem.
   Thumper - Monday, 03/07/11 23:48:06 EST

Thanks Thumper. I may end up doing about what you did.

Thanks Guru. I have worked with machinist or bench vises that the threaded on end cap would not stay tight. Pretty aggravating. I will look for the tell-tale gripper marks.

Thanks Frank for the link. Whenever I follow up the grandkids and straighten out the computer, I tend to lose things. I had thought of the threaded ball approach but wondered about the original method. Thanks.

Thanks all. It looks like the older and/or better vises had the ball end formed in place somehow. Kind of a challenge for the home shop but a neat challenge just the same. (If I try it there just might be a little filing involved as well.)
   - Tom H - Tuesday, 03/08/11 05:48:16 EST

Vise Handles:

I've had to do extensive repairs and/or refinishing on a few old post vises and part of that has included remaking or replacing the handles. I found the easiest way was to cut the handle shaft approximately at center, making the cut at a steep angle if I plan to re-weld with a torch. If I plan to forge weld it, I cut it square and later upset and form scarfs for welding. Once cut and removed from the screw ball, both ends can be cleaned up, the hole in the screw ball bushed down (if needed) and the handle replaced and welded, either by forge welding or gas welding. Electric welding doesn't work all that handily for wrought iron, due to the silicious inclusions.

I use the same method when I need to make a replacement handle - make tow halves and weld in the center. Since 99% of the time you use the handle the thing is stressed at or near one end, the weld in the center is not a problem and is easy to dress to invisibility.

Many old vises have the hole in the screw ball so wallowed out that it is sloppy and greatly increases the chance of pinching hell out of your hand, so I bush that down with a piece of appropriately-sized pipe or roll a strip of sheet and swage it into the hole. No need to weld it, the natural double-taper of the wallowed hole will hold it fine. I prefer to bush the hole to under-sized and then ream out to just the right size with a bridge reamer. When I put the handle back in, I add an O-ring at each end of the handle next to the knob so the falling handle doesn't continue to mash up the hole in the screw ball. That also cuts down on the hand pinching effect.
   - Rich - Tuesday, 03/08/11 07:53:38 EST

Come to think of it, I just finished making a small "gripper die" setup, because I needed some 5/16" rivets. It is a vise accessory forged from a railroad switch track, not the regular balloon track. It consists of a single piece, two "blocks" (jaws) above with vertical drilled holes...and connected by a thinned loop spring below. It fits into the large leg vise, so the shouldered blocks can be opened and closed. The shoulders rest on leg vise jaws to keep the tool in place. In making it, I annealed and drilled the closed, clamped "blocks" with a matchbook cardboard in between, in an attempt to keep the drill from wandering. This assembly was clamped in my cross vise, and I drilled for 3/16", 1/4", and 5/16". On each jaw, you wind up with a scant half-round. I hardened the jaws and tempered to a blue.

This style of rivet maker is not new; it is shown in Diderot and other books of antique tools. In using it, I was able to make 5/16" shank rivets out of 5/16" stock. The hot stock is notched for length, placed in between the dies and wrung off leaving enough above the block-like jaws for an upset head. Sometimes the shoulder may be a little sloppy, In that case, with another heat, I dropped the hot shank into a heading tool for clean-up.

Post script. Before plastic market baskets, many of them were made of 3/16" round. I would scour the alleys looking for discarded market baskets. Hey! Any port in a storm.

   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/08/11 08:33:04 EST

Vise Handle Bushings:

Steve Kayne showed me the rubber bushing trick many years ago and gave me a handful of electrical panel grommets for the purpose. They fit my large Prentiss vise which has a handle that weighs over 5 pounds and can do serious damage. It also makes a lot of noise which the bushings dampen. At the time Steve and I both had shops attached to the house and vise noise was a consideration.

The small 50 pound American made vise I have is all wrought and the handle much too soft. The vise itself, and especially the handle was bent up pretty bad. It did not take much to straighten it, but the handle is far too soft. It has been bent several times with only putting what I consider normal force on it. Mild steel would be much better. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/08/11 09:04:16 EST

Even more Vise Handles: I'm sure the first vise makers making vises mostly by hand figured out some sort of upsetting gripper system for handle knobs. It was their business. It was very likely something like Frank described. ALL good vises of every size from little jeweler vises with 1/8" diameter handles to big chipping vises 1-1/4" (32mm) handles had upset ends. Only low production machine shop made vises had threaded handles.

C-clamp screw handles also have upset ends. Can you imagine the short life of a C-clamp with a threaded knob that fell off on the first use? Sadly, this is what we have been reduced to with the majority of vises coming from China. The otherwise nicely made Fox vises that were Record copies that I put on my wood working bench both have cheap bolted on knobs that work loose on EVERY use. When I have time I will make some kind of repair. Either Loc-tite the threads or ding them and strip them in. . .

On my biggest Prentiss vise, an 8" monster weighing in over 200 pounds, some idiot welded the handle in the middle position. Did a good job. . . high amps deep penetration. I looked at a variety of ways to cut out the weld and decided my best choice will be to saw off the handles, then drill out the remainder, followed by judicious grinding to remove the weld. Then I'll have to repair the handle. . .

We have a big (the biggest they made) old Champion bench vise with adjustable base had locking screws with sliding handles. Its difficult to lock the base tight enough to keep from rotating so someone cut the handles off and went to using a pipe wrench on the cylindrical surfaces. Needless to say the surfaces are all cut up and rather ugly. Since it still works I doubt it will get repaired. However, a good fix would be lathe turned bolts with a tall oversize hex. Something a wrench would work on easily and provide ample clamping surface. Plain hex head bolts would probably also work. . .

On my old Sulivan lathe the compound rest locking nuts are very thin special size (some odd 1/32" size) that require a special wrench as well. They had rusted and locked up so someone took a center punch to them to try to rotate them without success. Repairs will require cutting the nuts off/out and making new ones and possibly new studs to match. None of this is "rocket science", its just part of maintaining old machinery and tools (like vises). Grab the bull by the horns and toss it. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/08/11 10:13:00 EST

I just stumbled on SPHERICAL WASHERS on McMaster-Carr online catalogue. When I re-built my vice, I had a set made, but if I did it now, I think one of these may work (not sure)

The spherical washer set-up goes between the handle and the outside jaw, and helps distribute the linear force of the screw to the angular force of the jaw. Most vices I’ve seen have the shoulder in the screw formed to a male hemisphere, and should have a cupped-shaped washer to match.

No guarantee that ANY of these McMaster items will work. Just pointing it out.
   - Dave Leppo - Tuesday, 03/08/11 10:48:31 EST

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