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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 April 8 - 15, 2012 on the Guru's Den
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X1 Power Hammer Video

Dave and I finally got a chance to make video of the X1 hammer running today. We only took a couple minutes of video because we still have work to do on the other hammer. We got the frame cut and some of the fitting done. Also made the final treadle changes so that a foot block is not needed to operate the hammers. Will do more video when the hammers are both running and bolted down.

Today was one of those typical days in the shop. We went to the auto parts store to get some spray paint . . . Then the fork lift dumped a bunch of hydraulic fluid and started making knocking sounds. . Another trip to the auto parts store. . the Shop manual for the Komatsu doesn't say what kind. . . wasted half an hour trying to find it then made a guess at the right fluid ($50). The fork lift was still making noise so I checked the oil. . . ANOTHER trip to the auto parts store. It was after noon before we got started on WORK.

The old used fork lift I bought has been a constant maintenance item for the little use it gets. First it was a set of tires . . then we had to fix the exhaust (step one, remove counter weight). Today it was fluids and the the mast has needed new seals. Needs brake work too. Two jobs for an expert I think.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/08/12 00:05:51 EDT

Little Giant Trip Hammer : Hey, GURU I've been doing some more scrounging for my JYH. still looking at the tire style with bow spring set up. That's because I want to build my own... But I met this guy with a 25# little giant. He went up on his price too $1500. It looks like an early style. It is clean for the age, not all beat up, not to many ovious repairs. the majior one I can see is the rear saddle has been re-welded, for the ear cracked; I could send you pictures.. The serial number stamped on the left side of the frame is 2427. It comes with 2 xtra springs and two extra sets of dies,- used. The front and rear pulleys move, but the ram guide is frozen up. It is still set up for belt drive. Is this a good deal? even if I have to rebuild the bearings? Do you need pics? Any info or advice would be nice. Thank You again. Kevin.
   - Kevin S. - Sunday, 04/08/12 01:42:48 EDT

Check valves : Jeff,

In the Kinyon-style air hammer circuit, the check valve is in the main air line input, a 1/2" line in my case. I used a swing check for just the reasons you mentioned and because I couldn't find a reed valve which is what I really wanted. I had both spring poppet and swing checks in my stash and prefer the swing checks in applications where they will work. Glad to hear that my reasoning coincides with your more knowledgeable information.
   Rich Waugh - Sunday, 04/08/12 03:21:15 EDT

Little Giant : Kevin,

I think that's just too much money for what it is. After you've fixed it up you'll have at least $2500 and a lot of time in it. For that kind of money you can build a bigger, better air hammer and buy a decent used compressor to run it. Or you could build a mechanical hammer if you prefer that - I'm partial to air hammers, but mechanical hammers do have the advantage of not needing a compressor.

A 25# Little Giant is okay for drawing out stock for knife making and the like, but it isn't much as a general purpose forging hammer. Just not enough weight or headroom. A 50-75# air hammer you build can have enough headroom to handle top tooling, drop-on dies and doesn't need adjusting for different stock thicknesses like the LG does. I'd pass on it.
   Rich Waugh - Sunday, 04/08/12 03:27:17 EDT

Rich, in a 1/2" line, where full flow is needed and quick open/shut for snappy circuit performance, a swing check is my first choice. Never seen a reed valve made for inline use in 1/2" size. They make swing checks in both a straight through design, and in valves that look a little like a "Y" pattern valve. The straight a through give a little higher Cv, but not a huge difference in most cases.
   ptree - Sunday, 04/08/12 08:08:53 EDT

Little Giant in "Good Condition" :
People keep saying they have something in good condition then list all the problems that say its in fair to bad condition. . . Worn but reasonably good condition means you can put it in your shop and run it a few years as-is. You have described a fixer-upper.

Lots of folks love the little 25 LG because it IS little, less than 1000 pounds (closer to 800 without motor). But everyone tends to run them too hard and they have some weaknesses. The one piece anvil commonly has part of the dovetail broken off. This is an expensive repair. Sid Sudemier of Little Giant does this repair but you need a hammer with ZERO cost in it to come out right. The anvil is cut down, a dovetail machined in it and a late model anvil cap or "sow block" installed.

The ram being locked up could mean several things. Since they are almost always worn and loose it sounds like someone has tried to re-shim it and done a bad job. OR it is worn tapered (very common) and it wedged when re-shimed. . . OR is it very rusted. . Either way it needs work.

The ram being stuck means its difficult to check the shaft for play in the babbit bearings. Generally you put a pry bar or two by four under the ram and lift on the springs enough to put pressure on the shaft and see if it moves. You may be able to check by lifting the crank wheel by hand or with a helper.

The clutch bearings commonly wears out on these machines and is an expensive fix. On the other hand these machines will operate OK with a completely trashed clutch. They are just tricky to operate.

The spare parts are nice IF they are the right spare parts. Spare dies do you no good if the dovetails are tweeky and you are afraid to change them lest you break the hammer (I would be). Then there are dies and there are dies. . . Many dies are not very good. A motor would have been nice. . .

Currently these machines are selling for nearly $5,000 when rebuilt. This is what they were last selling for in the 1970's. . . A 100 pound LG recently sold for nearly $10,000. Folks are finally starting to appreciate a heavier hammer. . .

IF you are a better than average mechanic and have machine shop skills and access to machinery and don't mind putting in the time this could be a good machine. If you have to pay others to do all the work you could end up paying for what a rebuilt LG sells for. . .

Little Giants were not the bottom of the line in hammers but were close. They were made so farmers and rural blacksmiths could afford them. Other less common hammers such as Fairbanks, Bradley and Beaudry were intended for commercial shops.

The price is probably OK in the current market but it is not going to stop there. For a machine in that condition I would want at least a 50 pound LG for that price. Most (maybe all) 50# LG's had a sow block which could be removed and replaced or repaired. They will also do a lot more work.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/08/12 11:30:21 EDT

Hello and welded cable billet question. : Good morning Gentlemen.
Time moves way too fast and it has been a long time since I visited here. In fact, I had forgotten about all the fine folks who are here. Other web sites lured me away and too soon I was out of my daily habit of visiting.
A quick reintroduction, I am the Wayne Parris that built the Rolling mill featured on this website, I am also the same Wayne who gave a detailed description on why and how you need 3 surfaces to produce a true, flat surface (Paw Paw was very interested in this when he was alive). I used to hang out here a LOT but, time and other things drew me away.
Anyway, the short story is that I had picked up a couple of kick presses, a DiArco #15 - 3.5 T and a Roper-Whitney #58 5 T (my #7 screw press is a little large for small work and is mostly used for truing up stock or bending stock) and was looking for tooling ideas and, surprise surprise, Anvilfire came up with a link to the press section. I had also forgot that I had the Fly press video by John and all the tooling there can be applied to the kick press too.
Now to my question. I welded up a bit of cable into a billet then forged it to finish shape with only a little grinding to true up the surfaces, into a letter opener (it seems that of the many I have made for myself, I wind up giving them away to visitors to my home), anyway, back to the cable opener I am referencing. I finished it to a bright polish then it spent twenty minutes in Ferric Chloride (circuit board etch) to try to bring out the cable pattern. It was a dull, mat, grey after leaving the acid. When polished out again, the grain is nearly impossible to see. Now I did forge to shape rather than grind to shape so the strands of cable are long, rather than the short, scale effect but the acid really didn't seem to do much to cause any definition to the pattern.
It might be the cable I used, I guess, not enough difference in the strands properties, it was new cable and was degreased before welding. I have not worked much with cable and was wondering if this was a fairly common thing or if there was another process I need to do somewhere?
Thanks as always,
P.S. I do intend to be spending a lot more time back here.
   Wayne Parris - Monday, 04/09/12 12:43:53 EDT

Cable Damascus : Wayne, Cable is made from uniform steel all the same type other than the types with a rope of plastic core. From what I can determine the differences that cause a visible pattern is the decarburization that occurs when heating and welding the steel, thus having two levels of carbon (virgin and decarb steel) that should etch differently.

The difference in two levels of carbon etching is not much and could vary a lot depending on how long the cable heated and how it was worked. A fast clean weld may not produce the best pattern in this case. Thus protecting from oxidation other than flux may reduce contrast. After forging the decarb layer on the outside of the blade is fairly uniform and thicker than on the individual wires and must be ground off to get down to metal that has both virgin and decarb.

In The Wire Damascus Hunting Knife Wayne Goddard demonstrates the etching process in detail. He starts with a fine level finish then is careful when cleaning the etch, using fine sandpaper to dust off the highlights. The metal was quite black fresh out of the etch (time and temperature). He has diagrams in the $50 Knife Shop showing the decarburization of individual wires and the whole.

I also seem to remember comments somewhere about a fine polish not etching well OR the buffing compound leaving some wax behind making it difficult to get a good etch. . . I'm sure other may know better than I do as I'm not a knife guy.

Hope something here helps.
   - guru - Monday, 04/09/12 13:35:24 EDT

Cable Damascus : thanks, I can see how a high buff, would or could have the affect of sealing between the layers or smear the layers. I thought I had cleaned the surface well before etching but.... ?

I have nothing to loose but a little time, to try hitting it with about a 400 wet/dry and then try the etch again. The acid did work on the surface the first time as after rinsing the surface was truly a mat one. It was however a light grey, not black as you said it was.

I also did not use sandpaper to lightly clean, I did rebuff so I might have also destroyed the contrast I was looking for in the first place.

This is the fun of trying new things, the learning process.
   Wayne Parris - Monday, 04/09/12 13:52:47 EDT

Cable Damascus :
Wayne, You mention layers. Did you fold the material? Normally the cable produces the pattern and no folding is involved.
   - guru - Monday, 04/09/12 14:27:49 EDT

Cable Damascus : Jock,
No, the cable was simply wire wrapped on the open end with soft iron wire to prevent fraying while the initial weld was started and brought to a solid state about 1 inch long. I next heated about a 10" section, brushed, then I twisted the cable tightly with the unwelded and cool end of the cable held in the vise and a wrench on the welded stub. I then forge welded the now tightly twisted section to solid stock.

The letter opener was then forged to shape, about 90% with the remainder of the shaping done with the belt sander, files etc. The "grain" of the cable still ran in it's normal direction, only twisted tighter (about 3x tighter ) than it's untwisted state.

This should have resulted in long "strands" of pattern through the blade as few of the strands were ground away. I would have expected a rope like grain structure, not the more lizard or snake skin scale pattern that is normally thought of with cable damascus.

It works fine and looks very nice but I did hope to have more definition in seeing the pattern of the cable.
   Wayne Parris - Monday, 04/09/12 17:13:38 EDT


Good to see you're still around.

(I visited once MANY years ago).
   - Rudy - Monday, 04/09/12 22:31:59 EDT

Rudy, HI! : Good morning Rudy, yes I remember, good times!
I am still in CBA and teach every last Sat of the month, come on by if you get the chance, the shop is open!

   Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 04/10/12 09:16:22 EDT

Cable Damascus : Wayne,

Good to see you back! As Jock noted, the wire in the cable is all the same composition so the patterning comes from de-carburization during the heating/welding processes. It isn't real pronounced, but you can somewhat exaggerate it by taking a couple of extra heats before you weld it. That increases the de-carb on the surface of the individual strands and will then show up a bit more in the final etch.

When you etch it, use diluted FeCl and a longer etch, then dress off the surface with very fine wet-or-dry paper until you can see the pattern. Then you can go back to the etch for a short etch to dareken the color a bit and polish again with super fine paper. Use a hard backing for the paper so you don't push it down into the etched areas and soften the contrast.

This is what I recall from talking with a couple of guys at conferences who do a good bit of cable damascus. My only pattern welded experience has been one knife from O-1 and wrought iron, which shows pretty strong contrast.
   Rich Waugh - Tuesday, 04/10/12 10:24:46 EDT

Cable Damascus : Rich,
thanks, it is good to be back!
I realize that the composition of the stock is all the same and I had not thought about this before welding. I am sure you are right about the caburization/de of the strands of wires. What you say about the extra heats is good logic. At this point though, an extra heat or two won't make much difference LOL!

I am also sure, I was my own worst enemy in the post etch treatment. I went back to the buffer and proceeded to remove any contrast that had developed. The hard backed abrasive is where I am going to go next. I will start by scuffing the surface with 800 wet/dry then try to re-etch with a post treatment of fine, hard paper backed abrasive, I have too many contours to use a hard backing like a file behind the abrasive.

   Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 04/10/12 12:40:12 EDT

A little personal history from the last several years. : Just a little note as to what happened and why I drifted away.
It was not due to anything or anyone here. I had gastric bypass surgery about 5 years ago (has it really been that long?) This has resulted in the loss of 1/2 of the person I used to be. I went from 368 to 179 in a little over a year. It is normal to regain a little up to about 15% of the loss and I have climbed to but am holding VERY steady at 194 +,- about 3 pounds. The surgery (any surgery has the same possible side effects) gave me blood clots that went to my lungs about 3 weeks after the surgery. This resulted in about a 3 week stay in the hospital to thin the blood and make sure I would not have any more clots. I had a SHOWER of clots in the lungs and the ER docs were pretty worried, when I was called ahead of a good 30 other people waiting in the ER for treatment, I knew I was in trouble.
Long story short, the surgery was the best thing I had ever done for myself, it is a whole different life now.
I do get some dizzy spells if I stand too quickly even now but that is a small price to pay for the benefits of being half the man I used to be. I used to ride a street bike for relaxiation but those days are over due to the dizzy spells. They can come on all of a sudden and it is best to not be on 2 wheels when it happens. OH WELL, small price to pay.

The shop is in great shape and I am still collecting toys to use, latest items were the kick presses but about 4 years ago, I picked up a 6 x 6 Acorn table, that was a darn nice addition.

OH, BTW, the man who sold me the acorn table has a 100# little giant to sell, his main business was finish grade work for house construction and in the last several years, work has been slim so anyone in SoCal, I know of a hammer for sale if you want one.

There was much more but that was the highlights, enough band width with this stuff, back to smithing!
   Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 04/10/12 12:53:58 EDT

Wayne, I had some serious health issues that peaked in 2010 and have addressed by making a lot of changes in my diet. I now mostly eat vegan. I lost a lot of weight but have gained much of it back. . . mostly due to lack of exercise. However, the vegan diet has helped a lot. I avoided the hospital, doctors and expense treatments that do not cure the problem (diet).

You can see much of my story on our updated Health and Safety Page.

For those of you interested in fighting heart and arterial disease, cancer and other diseases due to the American Diet, see the movie currently running on Hulu Forks over Knives If you want to apply these techniques see the ads for the books by Joel Fuhrman Md. on our Health and Safety Page.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/10/12 13:42:10 EDT

I was going to ask how much you diluted the Ferric Chloride. The problem with strong etchants is that they eat *everything*. For patternwelding we are often working with small differences in alloy content so to get an etchant that will eat part and leave the rest alone it may need to be fairly weak.
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/10/12 17:56:06 EDT

Then there is the direction you hold it. . . North/South East/West. . . Have you checked the local magnetic deviation? On the shaky side it may change now and then. . :)

Seriously, I would think magnetism would effect the iron ions as they move in the etchant. . . or not.

Just perpetuating a modern myth. . .

Dilution and temperature do have great effects on etchants.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/10/12 18:21:53 EDT

Casting Brass : Anybody have any experience in using bullet shell bras as melt-down stock? My children had their annual Easter Saturday shoot-out and don't reload, so I have a bunch of brass for some of my projects. (I use mostly muzzle loaders myself.) After seeing all of the nice work at the Anglo-Saxon Hoard exhibit at National Geographic last month, I'm hoping to cast some shiny brass sword pommels this year. ;-)

My key question is what to do about the primers? Do I punch them out, or just mash the whole shell flat and put them in the crucible?

Cold and clear on the banks of the lower Potomac, frost warnings north of Baltimore.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 04/12/12 20:35:14 EDT

Bruce, The casting done at the 2003 Armour-In was done using used "brass". Everything was just melted as-is. He said that every once in a while if there was some unburned primer you might want to get a little "pap" from the melt. Made a pretty yellow brass and cast very well.

Don't mash them flat, you may trap air. Just start the melt and add as needed. Flux the melt OR cover with charcoal dust to prevent oxidation.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/12/12 21:43:05 EDT

Campfire Grill : Hi, This is more of a welding question, but I figured you guru(s) would have some good advice!

The just of my question is how do you design a campfire grill so that it won't warp?

I made a campfire grill out of expanded wire mesh, ontop of 3/4" square tubing, surrounded by an angle iron frame. The first version was welded in many spots to try to tie it all together and it warped pretty badly - the mesh developed humps between the support grid. The second attempt, I took it apart and flattened it a bit, then set it up so the mesh was free to "float" in two directions on top of the supports, with the theory that it could expand without creating humps. This seemed to be even worse than before! We need to be able to put heavy water pots on it over a large fire to boil our dish water, but it would be nice if it was light enough that it can be removed by one person (the grill is approx 5' by 3').

Thanks for your help
   Hayes - Thursday, 04/12/12 22:13:48 EDT

Hayes - Grill : You could make it from Invar, but it would be rather expensive.

The problem is that the mesh is attached to itself at every junction, so it still is not free to expand as it wants to.

You might try running rods through an angle iron frame, but only welding them at one end. A grill that size may need some aditional support under the rods, but don't weld the rods to the supports.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/12/12 22:24:16 EDT

Grill : Hayes,

Dave has got the right concept. The most warp-free grills I've seen have been made with square tube for the perimeter and one or two additional support bars every foot of width. The flat support bars are laid up on edge and the round rods passed through holes in them close to the top edge. the perimeter tube is drilled on the inside face only so the bars float freely but are trapped in place. Leave 1/4" or so freeplay on the ends for expansion.
   Rich Waugh - Thursday, 04/12/12 23:38:25 EDT

CHURCH WINDOWS SOLUTION : Revisiting the topic of the mystery shape known as "Church Windows"I know what this is for!Not decoration nor religious this has practical and important function.Ha Ha! I figured it out just yesterday after years of pondering and examining many old euro Anvils including more than a few of my own now.Before I just 'spill the beans' I wanna be sure this is an original thought.I have already asked of the Guru and remember thy answer,mostly referencing Postman's (incorrect)assertion.Got anything new to add?Anyone?
   Generik Broderick - Friday, 04/13/12 09:28:00 EDT

Campfire Grill : The temperature reached and the weight of the material make a difference. Expanded metal is used in smokers and grills where the grate is a good distance from the fire and the temperature reached is no higher than needed to cook the food. But on a campfire expanded metal is a disaster. The metal reaches temperatures where it becomes plastic as well as expanded due to heat. Warping is guaranteed.

Constricted straight bars can also be a problem. However, flat bars on edge often warp sideways and the humps are not noticed. Grills with a light flexible frame can expand and flex the frame then shrink back without warping. However, high heats such as sitting in a bed of coal or near them is still a problem.

ALSO, at high heats such as in or near the bed of coals the temperatures are high enough to soften the steel parts and for load to cause them to sag.

A grill this size cannot be but so light. The description Rich gave sounds like a good design. Note that all the bars except the tubular frame members and cross supports float. A perfect design would have the cross braces also floating such as on pins inside the ends of the braces. Then everything including the frame can expand and contract with constricting the movement of any other part.

Note that stainless is a great material for this purpose but expands more than carbon steel so the the parts must have room to float or expand.
   - guru - Friday, 04/13/12 09:55:30 EDT

Stainless would also have to be TIG welded or sticked with a good 300 grade welding rod. I like Dave Boyers idea about running lengths of rod into holes drilled into angle or bar stock for expansion.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 04/13/12 10:07:59 EDT

Anvil "Church Windows" :
They have a number of purposes and others have been postulated. There are both engineering and functional reasons for the feature.

First and foremost they reduce the mass needed to make the anvil but provide a center column for support. In the "Old Berlin" or Austrian pattern the mass is moved out into the feet to provide greater stability for the same mass.

On the older anvils with wide depressions in the side and a flat back the anvil could be turned on its side and curved surfaces used for bending and for shaping sheet metal such as in armor work. In fact, many of these anvils had a base the same width as the horn and heel so they could also be turned on edge and the large curves of the side used in the same way. The beat polished side surfaced of many of these anvils indicate such use. See Armourer's Flat Backed Anvil for an example.

A recent suggestion has been that they were used for ingot molds. However, the only anvils with a closed side depression are some bad modern patterns copying the style of the old anvils without understanding anvil design. This is common of a variety of anvils coming out of the same foundries and pattern shops. They have a complete lack of understanding anvil design much less the history behind it.

On old English anvils there have been attempts at giving religious significance to the "Fifth Foot" or to relate it to European "church windows" with no basis in fact. However our investigations into the fifth foot indicate it served a structural purpose as a center brace on some anvils. Later it became a vestigial remnant (just a bump) and then disappeared altogether.
   - guru - Friday, 04/13/12 10:36:14 EDT

Anvil Features :
There are other anvil features that have nothing to do with design but became standard working features. The most common such feature is the "step" in English and then American anvils. The step was a manufacturing simplification. The English maker that first used it was reducing the amount of steel needed to face an anvil and the work necessary to blend it into the horn as they did on European anvils. The step was simply where the plate ended. The flat beyond this point was sold as a feature. A soft place for chiseling. Over the years many smiths found uses for the inside corner the step provides and those learning to work on an anvil with a step sorely miss it working on other anvils.

When solid cast steel anvils came about the step remained even though it was a result of the wrought build up process. It was even included on the Fisher-Norris Eagle anvils which could have really benefited from a plate that continued straight out onto the horn.

Handling holes, which are found on English anvils but not on most European anvils also became a used feature. Smiths found the holes a good place to store a bit of beeswax for punch lube. While not needed to manufacture a cast anvil a number of makers went to the trouble to core "handling" holes. I suppose these could be used to handle the anvil during heat treatment but its not a very good reason. They were made because smiths expected them. . .

The disappointment in modern cast anvils is the lack of designs taking advantage of the casting process. With the exception of the rather extreme farriers anvils (I think they are grotesque) very few anvil designers take advantage of casting. They just copy the standard patterns developed during the built-up anvil manufacturing period. Some even do worse and do a poor job of making copies. . .
   - guru - Friday, 04/13/12 12:08:59 EDT

Anvil and Swage Blocks : I have a Hays/Budden anvil and a pair of Wally Yater swage blocks in great condition and would like to know the value, I'd like to sell them.
Any help would be appreciated. I live in NM. greyhawk83@hotmail.com
I can't get to the bottom of your submission form ??
   Terry Stone - Friday, 04/13/12 12:32:44 EDT

The problem of them being used by armourers is that every period picture I have seen of armourers working at anvils *none* of them have this feature which seems to date later than the era of armour.

Terry are you going to advertise them on the SWABA page? Knowing how big an anvil would be necessary to make a guess as the cost per pound has peaks in certain places depending on size.
   Thomas P - Friday, 04/13/12 13:45:17 EDT

Anvil Features : Jock,

My 1921 Fisher 250# anvil *does* have a steel cap on the horn and step, though it is separate from the face plate. It is a single piece that covers both the step and horn, but it is separate from the face plate. I don't know if all the Fisher anvils feature this steel step/horn cap, but this one does and I remember having seen photos somewhere of the horn/step piece prior to it being placed in the casting flask.

My cast steel Nimba Gladiator has those gratuitous handling holes and I'm delighted it does because the one under the heel is where I anchor my cam-lock hold down tool.
   Rich Waugh - Friday, 04/13/12 14:22:43 EDT

And now I eat my words: looking for a medieval nail header for a someone I have found an anvil with curves on the sides:


However definitely not an armourmaker!
   Thomas P - Friday, 04/13/12 16:30:41 EDT

I realize the fishers have steel on the horn but my point is they would have had an easier time with one continuous piece rather than two or a step.

The problem with early anvils is most of what we know is from illustrations where accuracy of the illustrations is questionable. Illustrations from Praetorius (1619) and Agricola (1556) show very similar primitive pentagonal anvils. But the painting by Velazquez (1630) has a very detailed anvil that you would think was a much later type compared to the former. Rendering an anvil is much like drawing a human face. Neither Praetorius or Agricola rendered human faces or figures well. You can expect similar inaccuracy in their depictions of an anvil. Moxon working nearly a century later than Praetorius draws anvils much different than we know they were at the time. His drawings look more like a poorly made RR-rail anvil than any of the British anvils of the time. But Velazquez was a top artist of the time who's work could be trusted to represent its subjects as accurately as a photograph. A brief survey of logos and personal cards used by modern smiths will show a wide variety of renderings of anvils based on a nearly identical subject. Almost none accurately represent the shape of a modern anvil.

On the other hand, in Diderots works, albiet from a slightly later period, there are dozens of obviously different styles of anvils fairly accurately depicted. There were many that there are no known examples of while there are others that are. AND, I would not want to make a bet on the age of the anvils in Diderots. I would venture to say that there is as much probability of some of those anvils dating from a period 200 years earlier as their is today in many modern blacksmith shops.

The historical record is full of holes and when it comes to details of technology the holes are gigantic.
   - guru - Friday, 04/13/12 17:31:07 EDT

CHURCH WINDOWS SOLUTION : well that IS NOT IT!This is something new.Hint:ALWAYS on striker side of Anvil.Also,these are made with great care,usually straighter lines than the working surfaces and hardie holes.Was very important item for ANVIL MAKERS,judging by the seeming emphasis on perfection of form,not to mention investment in scarce iron and increased risk of burning thin section.Anvil manufacture is always described as dangerous,moreso than regular Smithing,thass th' final hint.Hard to believe I am the only one to have figured it out,HeeHee
   Generik Broderick - Sunday, 04/15/12 10:51:32 EDT

Anvil "Church Windows" : The problem is there are different types. T here are those that have rectangular edges from built up slabs making the body, there are fullered grooves or depressions, both of these on a vertical side, then there are the anvils with the sloping far side (striker side), AND those with a raised center ridge rather than a distinct column. Those with the slopping top edge puts the heavy working edge of the anvil near the center line of the base thus much sturdier for striking AND the angled edge greater than 90 degrees is less likely to spall off and strike someone, especially the striker. The English fifth foot anvil had the support on the far side but not the chip resistant sloping edge.

Many anvils had this angled far edge that is much stronger than the square side (facing the smith). WWI era German anvils had a narrow shelf with acute edge (about 60°) at the front of the sloped edge (120°) and then had a 90° heel. This provided acute, right and obtuse angled corners to work on as well as the reinforced striking edge. This design did not have a center column resulting in a "church window" feature. It combined old and new design elements making a very nice new design. The only bad thing about this pattern is the decidedly right hand design.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/15/12 11:43:19 EDT

Church Windows on Anvils : Correct or not, without documentation it's just guess work. Just cause something could have been done with the tools of the time doesn't mean it was.
   JimG - Sunday, 04/15/12 12:25:21 EDT

OK the solution : So here is my hypothesis and a way for you to tell for yourselves. I have been obsessing on this problem since reading in Postman's book hisopinion and hearing from others the swage use theory. I also started coming across examples to closely examine. Anvil makers used huge roundhouse swings with what look like ten or more pound hammers. They weren't always at the taken (Anvil maker's Anvil type floor plate), but doing other stuff as the Anvil was being heated.They were called to their places with their hammer in hand ready to swing.The hammer had to be placed,and is always shown right near the anvil,my conjecture isthat theonly near an anvil safe place was tucked in under the breast plate over the Church Windows.The most famous Deiderot picture shows a hammer in exactly that position,along with an Anvil that I am certain has the CW drawn up side down.This is my case.The Anvil makers consider this feature so important they make it fine.Always on striker side.And finally if you have one look for tiny glancing blow type marks near the bottoms of the brows/arches over the CW.Does not answer the question of the name,my feeling on that is a jokeallowing a working-on-Sunday smith emergency repairman to be able to say to the Vicar,"Nowe're not working,your Excellency[sic]We're pounding out prayers on our anvil chorus.See the Church Winders?"Generik
   Generik Broderick - Sunday, 04/15/12 18:16:05 EDT

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