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 May 8 - 15, 2010 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Guru, I am an OLD friend of Lee Pavlica, a name I am sure you know. He used to live in Woodland Park, CO. I live in Colorado Springs. I have lost touch with Lee and would appreciate either an email for him, a P.O. Box, or any way to get in touch with him. We go back to 1976 in our friendship! Any help would really be appreciated!
   John Sharketti - Saturday, 05/08/10 22:21:38 EDT

Sorry, Not someone I know.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/10 11:04:24 EDT

I personally emailed John Sharketti about Lee Pavlica, Lee being a good smith and a long ago student of mine.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 05/09/10 11:36:27 EDT

John Sharketti- Have you talked to Steve Lynch? He has a studio just off of Colorado and I-25.... He might know how to get ahold of Mr. Pavlica
   MacFly - Sunday, 05/09/10 12:34:17 EDT

Oops, didn't realize Mr. Turley had already replied...
   MacFly - Sunday, 05/09/10 12:35:35 EDT

A question....when making tools, ie..tongs to hold work in a forge, what steels have the lowest welding point ? Steels with the least amount of carbon (1018)? Low carbon stainless ? Some other alloy ? I am going to make a tool I have been thinking about for a while. Just an experiment.
   Mike T. - Sunday, 05/09/10 16:11:09 EDT

I meant highest welding point...a steel that will not stick to your work at higher ( yellow ) temps.
   Mike T. - Sunday, 05/09/10 16:15:26 EDT

Not steel but perhaps tungsten? (If you can work it.) Also, wrought iron sems to have a higher welding temp. than steels.
   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 05/09/10 17:01:02 EDT

Mike T: You might try stainless, it is pretty easy to obtain. I doubt it would stick to Your steel, as it is dificult to weld due to the chrome oxides. Remember that common materials will not have a lot of strength at elevated temperatures, and materials that do are expensive & hard to find in small pieces.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 05/09/10 19:57:07 EDT

The more carbon, the lower the melting and welding points. However, the more alloy additives (chrome, nickel. . . the more this is offset.

This is the kind of project you need the ASM Metals Reference for.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/10 20:26:36 EDT

Mike, 309 and 310 stainless are used fairly often in high temp applications such as furnace belts and support beams in walking beam reheat furnaces - you might try those grades. A lot of other high heat applications use either nickel or cobalt alloys.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 05/09/10 21:02:58 EDT

I am not very accomplished at forge welding but it seems to me that if the tongs are heavily scaled up (as mine tend to be) the iron oxide layer on the tongs will fairly well prevent them from welding to a yellow-white hot piece of steel. I have never actually had to grip the white hot end of a piece I want to forge weld; I grip the other end that remains below welding temperature.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 05/10/10 11:37:06 EDT

I have on occasion used tongs to squeeze a couple pieces at welding heat together while still in the forge. I think that as long as the tongs aren't at or near welding heat they won't stick.
   JimG - Monday, 05/10/10 11:47:20 EDT

Im sure when Ive been working billets at welding heat on a hydraulic press the billet sticks to the warm die. Dunno if its welded a smidge, but I definatly have to 'rock' the billet back and forth to release it before the next 'bite'

I wouldnt worry to much about tongs though!
   - John N - Monday, 05/10/10 15:27:08 EDT

Quenchcrack et al.,
I saw Peter Ross once demonstrate folding a sheet-iron "butterfly hinge" in half and fagot welding the leaves together WHILE THE PIN WAS IN IT! He was hitting only the sheet metal. He gave it a quench and tightened it in the vise so that he could drive the captured pin out with a pin punch. It worked. A spectator wanted to know why he wasn't afraid of welding the pin in, and he said something to this effect. "We're usually worried about not getting the weld. Now, you're worried about getting the weld, and in the wrong place, besides."
   Frank Turley - Monday, 05/10/10 16:37:59 EDT

Anybody every hear of DURIRON? I was give some couple of inch diameter rod of the stuff looks cast to shape. I first wondered if it was a cast iron but digging on the net I found a reference saying is was very resistant to sulfuric acid---80 points carbon and 14% Si ????????? Didn't throw a spark off the grinder either.

   Thomas P - Monday, 05/10/10 18:04:30 EDT

Peter Ross- Seen him demo a few times and he doesn't seem to use any flux when welding. Must be a darn good judge of fire and temperature!
   Judson Yaggy - Monday, 05/10/10 19:57:00 EDT

Thomas, I think you have a piece of a high alloy cast iron anode used for cathodic protection. A series of the anodes are connected to a rectifier to distribute current over the surface to be protected. The anodes are used to protect tanks and pipelines.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 05/11/10 07:16:35 EDT

heat treatment on 1045----

afternoon folks! i'm working on a project where i'm starting on a "billet" of 1045 in a cylinder shape. 3 inch diamiter and 4 inch length. eventually this will be a part of a machine but i need to cut INCHES of steel off it.

so i figured i'd anneal it by heating it till its white and burying it in ashes for 48 hours. however some confusion has come up with how i should harden it. essentially i need the steel to get as hard as i can get it without it being brittle, cracking or have serious warping(final finishing wil be done after its hardened, so a little warping may be tollerable). could someone help me understand what i should do in terms of hardening? thanks in advance for any info you guys can give!
   CrazyJohnson - Tuesday, 05/11/10 08:00:25 EDT


Don't get it to white heat or you'll ruin it. Just take it to a few degrees above the temperature at which a magnet will no longer stick to it. That's about an orange heat, no where near white hot. Then cool it slowly in ashes or, if you're using a gas forge, turn off the forge and close the door and let it cool with the forge. It won't take 48 hours, probably only four to six hours.

To harden 1045 you heat it again to just above non-magnetic and then quench it in oil. If it is more than a couple inches in cross section you can probably quench it in water. Whichever you use, the quench should be at about 140 degrees F to start with. After it is quenched, shine up a place on it with sandpaper and then heat it in an oven to around 450 degrees or a bit more to temper it so it is not brittle. Watch the shiny spot and when you see a straw yellow/brown color it is right.
   Buford Heliotrope - Tuesday, 05/11/10 08:28:07 EDT

Quenchcrack; I'll try to get all the markings on it; but it will be Thursday probably as I'll be in Mexico tomorrow for dental work.

I'd like to know exactly what it is so I can figure out how to abuse it in my shop.... The only thing I dug out with google was a mention of a sulfuric acid resistant alloy with the weird chemistry (.8% C, 14% Si) That I *must* play around with---more Si than real wrought iron and a hardenable amount of C (unless it is totally bound to the Si) I hope to chop a chunk off and try a basic heat and quench brittleness test this weekend; though with my eldest daughter graduating from college, *debt* *free*!, I may not get much forge time.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/11/10 10:15:58 EDT

Thomas, I will look for my old CP handbook and try to find a composition. No promises, I have aleady forgotton what I had for breakfast....
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 05/11/10 11:41:59 EDT

thanks for the response. i learned a lot :D

one question remains however, when quenching in oil what kind of oil should i use? lol, would even vegitable oil work?

thanks again guys!
   CrazyJohnson - Tuesday, 05/11/10 11:55:53 EDT

vegetable oil such as used deep fry or peanut oil is used, mineral oil is good because it is clean. Some folks use ATF. I do not recommend motor oil.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/11/10 12:25:39 EDT


According to a person of my acquaintance who works for a company that produces industrial quenching media, plain old canola oil heated to around 140 degrees F is about the best possible *cheap* quench for many simple steels.

Note that I said cheap. There are lots of VERY highly engineered and expensive quench oils out there, including one with the property of being as fast as a water quench until the steels cools to around 1100 degrees F, when it then becomes as forgiving and slow as a much thicker oil.

1045 isn't very high in carbon and it's a simple steel, but if you have any sharp corners or sudden changes in sectional area it will crack in water. For that matter, sharp corners should be avoided no matter what. Square, yes. Sharp, no. Make sure there's a slight radius at the apex, whether it's an inside corner or an outside corner. It's much less stressful on the steel that way.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 05/11/10 12:25:42 EDT

Guru et al,
I think it's time you accepted the responsibility for what you've done to me. This Saturday I'll be doing my first big demo at the Indiana Blacksmith's monthly hammer-in and it's YOUR fault. A couple of years ago I found this site, read some of the recommended books, joined 2 local clubs, built my own gas forge, collected an anvil and a few tools, started banging on metal and Now look at me. I'm a BLACKSMITH! I may not be as skilled as some of the folks who will be there, but that's not going to stop me from showing what I CAN do and that anybody else can do it to. So to everyone on this site who has offered advise, asked questions, or just kept it going: THANK-YOU!
   Mark Conrad - Tuesday, 05/11/10 15:20:13 EDT

"accepted the responsibility for what you've done to me" Oh goody he's going to send Jock *cash*!

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/11/10 15:27:31 EDT

Thomas, I have confirmed that Duriron is indeed a high chromium, high silicon cast iron material for cathodic protection systems. If you plan to forge it, I would recommend a flak vest.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 05/11/10 18:30:16 EDT

Quench, would Thomas need some of those fancy new high speed impact rated safety glasses as well to forge that stuff? :)
   ptree - Tuesday, 05/11/10 19:05:43 EDT

I'm guessing the the silicon in Duriron is in metallic form and alloyed with the iron (while in wrought it's in oxide form and mechanically mixed)?
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 05/11/10 20:47:22 EDT

I use old cooking oil from the canteen kitchens as a quench. Seems to work OK and it is free.
   PHILIP IN CHINA - Tuesday, 05/11/10 21:16:39 EDT

I'm in the process of "planning" a propane forge while I'm also working on a basic brake-drum coal forge to get me started. But something that I can't find out is if a small propane forge made from fire-bricks, does it need to be lined with KaoWool? Or should the "brick" forge be dropped for more of a container lined with KaoWool design?

A Champion post-drill was given to me today and was wondering how I can find out what model it is?
Everything works fine and in good working order BUT the lever above the crank handle is missing.
( hasn't had the new chuck added either.)

Could I be taken steps backwards by even messing with this post drill over the more common electric drill-press?

   Danial - Tuesday, 05/11/10 23:10:05 EDT

Mike, you are correct. The Silicon in the Duriron is in solution where the Silica in WI is a mechanical mixture. Ptree, if Thomas has his anvil at the same relative height as mine, I suggest perhaps a catchers cup, too.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 05/12/10 07:14:44 EDT

Post drills are fun. Are you sure there is a lever? Many of the old post drills were self-feeding having a pawl and ratchet wheel at the top. When the drill is cranked, the wheel rotates causing the self-feed. If there's enough room, you can put a Jacob's chuck into the old fashioned chuck. Many of those old chucks were designed to accommodate 1/2" D shanks only.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 05/12/10 08:28:10 EDT

Danial, Lots of questions:

Fire Brick vs Kaowool: There are advantages and disadvantqages to both. All new refractories are relatively expensive. Generally the light weight refractories are more expensive that fire brick.

Firebricks come in various densities. The durable hard ones are very heavy and even a small forge made from them weighs a lot. An average size forge made of fire brick will weigh hundreds of pounds while a similar light weight refractory (Kaowool) will weigh as little as 20% of the brick forge and be quite portable.

Hard dense refractories ARE NOT insulators. They are a high temperature resistant material. They absorb a lot of heat as well as conduct it to the outside of the forge. In a small forge it can take a lot of time to bring the forge up to temperature due to the heat absorbed by the bricks. On the other hand, the heat absorbed by the bricks is given back as stored heat when steel is put into the forge. However, this is little benefit if the forge is losing so much heat it cannot get up to a good working temperature.

Ideally the forge lining is a thin hard refractory in the contact areas (mostly the floor) surrounded by light weight refractory with the top being entirely light weight refractory.

As mentioned above refractory bricks come in various densities. Some are very dense and heavier than common brick. Others are foamed material and nearly as light as Styrofoam. The insulating properties of these bricks is inversely proportional to their density. Those used for one-brick micro-forges should be made of the relatively rare very low density insulating bricks.

Besides being more resistant to mechanical damage hard refractories are more resistant to chemical (flux) attack. The kaowool type refractories are rapidly dissolved by borax flux. Recommended coatings (ITC-100) reduce this problem.

Also note that the castable hard refractory cements are not nearly as strong or mechanialy resistant to damage as the hard fired refractory bricks.

Hand Crank Drill Press: These are great tools if setup and working with a modern chuck. Their low speed makes them much better metal drilling tools than the typical drill press with a high speed spindle designed for wood working. Model numbers mean little as there are no parts available.

The parts you are missing are pretty simple and any newby should be able to make replacements once they have a forge. These parts are the automatice down-feed. Normal operation is such.

Advance the down feed as you align dill and give a few turns.
Pre-laod the down feed, engage the auto-feed.
Holding the work with one hand, start cranking with the other.

Note that when setting up these machines they were designed for post mounting and the crank handle goes beyond the mounting surface several inches. Add several inches more for your fingers PLUS clearance for safety. I prefer mine on a free standing post.

Back when I setup my first small post drill in the 1970's I spent $135 on a Jacobs chuck. I think at the time I had an old Morse taper arbor which I machined down to 1/2". You can buy new 1/2" arbors to fit the medium size chuck that is the right size for one of these drills.

An option on these old drills was a Morse taper spindle. However, I have never seen one. If you have one it will probably be rusted and or chewed up and need to be reamed. Special reamers are available for this purpose.

While you often see little imported bench drills for less than $70 these are NOT metal working machines unless you limit yourself to 3/16 (5mm) holes or there abouts. They also come with poorly made, poor gripping chucks that often run out of true. They are no comparison to a REAL drill press.

The next step up are the floor machines you see at Sears or other big box stores. While they LOOK impressive on the outside they often have cheap mechanisms driven by little 3/16" belts at speeds that are primarily wood working. They are usually limited to drilling 3/8" (10mm) holes in steel. Less in alloy steels.

Your post drill will drill holes over 1/2" with a lot of effort an 1/2" or less fairly easily and without burning up bits or breaking off edges. At 1/2" your arm WILL know it has done some work. . . These machines will teach you about horsepower in a hurry.

If I had no other drilling machinery I would gladly invest up to $200 or $300 in one of these machines. The next option UP for me is one of the old geared head flat belt drive drill presses (see iForge Drilling 102). These old low speed machines are some of the best drilling machines built in the last century. They efficiently drill holes in steel from 1/8" up to an inch in straight gear and over 2" in back gear with slightly less efficiency. While they LOOK old fashioned they have VERY good ergonomics. The long operating lever has a position adjustment so that it can be moved every 45 degrees with ease.

However, when you get into these larger machines everything costs more. They require a 1 HP to 1.5HP motor. A good (large) drill press vise is recommended as well as other furniture (see iForge Drilling 101). Large capacity chucks are expensive and so are the large drill bits. While the #4 Morse taper spindle will accept taper shanked drill bits up to 2.5" and down to 1/8" (with adaptor sleeves) These bits are much more expensive unless you are lucky and find them at a flea market where few folks want large tapered shanked bits. That expensive chuck is a good trade off for using less expensive straight shanked bits.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/12/10 10:01:02 EDT

"lever above the crank handle"
Danial, are you sure that's not an idler shaft for an extra gear to make this into a power driven machine?
My post drill has a combination bull and bevel gear configuration on the hand crank shaft.
Above that it has a shaft that an idler would mount on that would be used for the flat belt, power conversion kit.
I'm just wondering if that is what you have.
Mine is a Silver (of the later Silver & Demming Co) and many of these units were designed very similer.
As to their utiliy. Mine came with the standard 1/2" Silver and Demming drill shank chuck on it. That means it will only mount a drill with a 1/2" shank. Silver and Demming drills used to be available in every size from probably smaller than 1/8 to 2". Now you only see them in sizes from 1/2 to about 1 1/2.
Nothing wrong with these drills as long as you don't buy the cheepest ones you can find.
I have made an adaptor shank to go from the 1/2" S&D shank to a standard 1/2" Jacobes chuck with the thread mount like you find in the hardwear store.
I have a huge Heckert floor model drill press and a smaller Black & Decker out in the smithy that I hardly ever use because the post drill is right there and always ready.
I have to turn on the 440v 3ph for the Heckert and the Black&Decker has no guts when it get below 40F.
My two boys like the post drill too because then they can take turns turning the crank for dad.
Fix that post drill up and use it!
   - merl - Wednesday, 05/12/10 10:48:28 EDT

Drill Chuck Parts from McMaster Carr to fit post drill.

1/2" to #33 Jacobs taper - No. 2811A59 $14.70

Medium Duty Chuck Model 34-33 - No. 2812A16 $84.72

Note that the above chuck is a little more expensive than some of the others but it takes a standard key and accepts .040 to 1/2" drill shanks.

I would also recommend a good starter set of drill bits from 1/16" to 1/2" in 1/32" increments:

High-Speed Steel, Black-Oxide, 135 Split Point, National Aerospace Standards (NAS) No. 8907A14 $58.29 per Set.

A good set of drill bits will last for decades if used primarily in drill presses and sharpened as necessary.

NOW that you are into drilling you will need a small bench grinder or belt grinder to sharpen those bits. If you get a bench grinder you will also need a wheel dresser to clean up and straighten the wheels, especially if you use them for anything other than sharpening bits. A star wheel type is good for rough clean up and a carborundum stick or diamond for fine dressing. I prefer a diamond.

Send me a photo of your machine if you are not sure what you have.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/12/10 10:55:45 EDT

To add to Guru's post, you can also thread the chuck onto a long 1/2 inch bolt that has the proper threading, then saw off the bolt head and grind a flat onto the unthreaded part of the shank to hold the set screw. I did this and it was a pretty quick and inexpensive way to fit the chuck onto the post drill.
   mstu - Wednesday, 05/12/10 11:50:08 EDT

Post Drill mounting. Years ago, I bought a post drill that was mounted on a two inch plank. I could see where the former owner had scratch-awled a vertical central line on the board. Some of these drills have a separate table with a sort of "metal cup" at the base. Because it is separate, it is important to get it in alignment with the cranking portion of the drill.

The plank had a nice molding on it, and I could see holes where the plank itself was attached to a post.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 05/12/10 13:47:38 EDT

Most of these old machines were mounted on a board to hold the parts in place. Those without are "incomplete". The board also keeps the flywheel off flat surfaces so that the drill could be more easily stored and shipped. However, it does not produce enough mounting clearence for the crank.

When you add a chuck to one of these drill presses it shortens the work height between the drill and the lowest table setting. When I setup my small hand crank drill I added a longer column made of a new piece of 1.25" CF round I had on hand. I also added a support to shorten the open column which is pretty springy. The whole was mounted on the OEM board that came with the larger drill press that I put on the portable forge trailer.

I've also replaced the thrust bearings on both these drills with modern replacements. However, this took a little remachining of some of the parts. AND, I've added oil and grease cups to the small press.

See Post Drills
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/12/10 16:29:01 EDT

What I said earlier about most of these drills looking much the same as one another rings true here.
If you look at the picture of the ACME the Guru has posted it is almost identical to my Silver MFG. No.12 Advanced, right down to the crank handle, chuck syle, and configuration of the gears and ratchet advance.
It is entirerly possible that the Acme was made by Silver as well.
Don't ever sell a post drill short as primitive. You can see the other drill press has auto down feed and auto return.
Some are set up to perform internal and external thread cutting operations as well.
Their veriation and utility goes on and on...
   - merl - Wednesday, 05/12/10 20:04:49 EDT

Historically and metaphysically the anvil is representative of the female aspect, more specifically the uterus... the womb. An anvil even LOOKS like the female organs, the ovarian tubes are sometimes referred to as horns. The hammer is supposed to represent the male side. It makes sense.

Well, about 12 weeks ago I hammered my wifes anvil and now we have a little Nippulini growing.


The little thing is about 2 inches long now and we have a due date of 11/17/10. My wife made me wait until all things are clear before making a big announcement, so here it is!
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 05/13/10 08:33:01 EDT

Congrats Nipp!
   JimG - Thursday, 05/13/10 09:56:45 EDT

Congratulations Nipp! Your life will never be the same! Next thing you know it will be grand children!
   - guru - Thursday, 05/13/10 10:10:46 EDT

All this discussion on post drills seems pretty technical. I've just got mine lag bolted to a tree, but I am going out and check the name on it. Thanks
   Carver Jake - Thursday, 05/13/10 11:19:20 EDT

Hi I have a question about metal finish. I like baking on beeswax I've used it for years. But I want to experiment more. Yesterday I tried melting equal parts of beeswax, turpentine and linseed oil to make a paste. I applied it to the clean steel cold. I also added a bit of black shoe polish for color. Then I heated the steel a bit. After buffing the steel it still feels to oily. What could I do better? A different ratio perhaps?
   Dan - Thursday, 05/13/10 11:50:31 EDT

Buy varnish.
   - anon. - Thursday, 05/13/10 14:03:38 EDT

TGN; just remember that a good anvil can wear out a hammer!

Hand crank drill presses: can be lovely *but*: I once met a knifemaker at the guild show who told me about wanting to save money so he converted his old hand crank drill press to use an electric motor. One day he was doing some finicky drilling and so reached up to advance the bit while watching where the bit was going and fed a couple of fingers into the gears: many thousand dollars, months of lost time and several years later his fingers were still not 100% and he confessed to me that he could have bought the fanciest drill press on the market and *still* come out ahead on the deal!

Old tools often do not have the safety features required on new tools converting them to "modern" may increase dangers!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 05/13/10 14:11:37 EDT

Dan, That kind of finish will last for a few years on interior iron in the Southwest, but shorter periods elsewhere in the U.S. You want to get the temperature above the heat rainbow, 630ºF but not above 800ºF. You'll get some vapors, so it's good to work outdoors or with all doors and windows open. If you get a huge steam vapor and nothing much happens, you're too hot. If the wax mixture just lays there, looks waxy and nothing happens, you're too cold.

I wanted to save myself from doing all that mixing, so I use Johnson's old fashioned paste floor wax.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 05/13/10 18:17:43 EDT

I am overwhelmed by everyones responces, info & help on post-drills.
I will get this up-&-running now, and I have a new outlook to the term "chuck-hunting". And the propane forge information is a HUGE help. I have more than enough to chew-on now.

Mr. Dempsey, Pic's are on their way to you. please let me know if the photo's need to be taken again in better light.

Guru, Mr. Turley, Merl, Mstu, everyone......Thank you.
And Congratulations Nippulini & family!!!

   Danial - Thursday, 05/13/10 18:34:05 EDT

I am trying to find out more about an anvil that I just found. It is much like the William Foster,Carriage maker,Hay Budden style. It has the # 1. 2. 5 stamped into the side. The numbers are about 3/4 tall. Above the numbers are the following letters I O L E or H O L E . Under the horn, in the back of the anvil ,and in the bottom are rectangle holes about 2" deep. any info will be great. Best Regards Ross
   Ross - Thursday, 05/13/10 19:43:54 EDT

Ross: Armitage Mouse Hole Anvil made in Sheffield England
   - Burnt Forge - Thursday, 05/13/10 19:54:13 EDT

Congratulations NIP and to your good wife!!
May I ask if this is your first?
I suppose we will all be expected to make some kind of birthday trinket as well...?
   - merl - Thursday, 05/13/10 19:58:34 EDT

Hi I hope that maybe i can get help with this i am looking for a Schrade 497 with leather handle i would reproduce one but i dont have the means to do so currently my forge is halfway across the country and i dont thing my CO would take kindly to me making one on base so i was wondering if any one here had one or would be willing to reprodue a same as modle for a fair price anything helps thanks

   Dent - Friday, 05/14/10 05:49:24 EDT

Yep, this is our first. Trinkets... now is the time to flex your skills with forging stainless. Most of my co-workers have had kids in the past few years and I always wanted to make a stainless rattle or something like that.

The best birthday trinkets have the word carat in it.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 05/14/10 06:24:00 EDT


Congratulations! I will, however, refrain from explaining the deeper meaning of hammer-anvil dynamics to my wif lest she grow jealous when I slip off to the forge in the evenings. (Boy; talk about an "iron mistress"!)

We started the family about the time when they would first let fathers into delivery rooms. Folks at work were amazed at this and would ask me: "Weren't you scared?" I would reply: "No; I wasn't the one HAVING THE BABY! My wif was doing all of the hard work; I just stood there and let her crush my hand."

Hey; somebody has to pay our Social Security!

Post Drills:

I was using my big lunker of a post drill the other night and some sort of shim (very thin stock, rounded, flared at the top [bottom?], looks a bit like plastic but I have not poked at it much through the grease…) fell out of who-knows-where? It LOOKS like it fits on the main shaft, but there are three possible locations where the shaft runs through various castings, and I can't see where it popped out of. I know that this is confusing, but maybe someone here knows whether these are common parts and can say: "Oh; it goes on the middle frammis." The drill is operable, and I can't detect a wobble, but I'm a little nervous when a part falls off of something, assuming that it was there for a reason, even if I can't discern the reason.

Warm and cloudy on the banks of the Potomac. Wrapping up several projects to display in the art show at BaltiCon on Memorial Day Weekend. ( http://www.balticon.org/ ) I forged a fancy twisted thrall's collar last night to be entitled (wait for it...) "Enthralled".

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 05/14/10 07:17:25 EDT

Frank, do you apply the paste wax hot or cold? I bought a pound of bees wax last year but it does not dry hard. It always feels a bit soft and sticky even after it cools and it has been polished up. The canning wax I have used in the past is better. I have used Boiled Linseed oil too but that is a bit messy, too. Paste wax sounds very convenient.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 05/14/10 07:23:50 EDT

I dropped you a line a few weeks ago about a Hudson anvil, Buffalo blower and coal forge, well the farrier in line ahead of me didn't follow thru, so I get to go pay for my new Hudson 150! As long as the anvil rings and rebounds I will have a nice new center piece for the dining room table!The blower is a Buffalo 14 and the forge has a Buffalo logo on it. I can regale my ASO to door stop status.
   rustyanchor - Friday, 05/14/10 08:01:47 EDT


I found a referance to a mix of equal parts bees wax, turpentine and linseed oil, with a little Japan drier added, melt the wax and add the other stuff in. I put it on some warmed horseshoes and wiped the excess off after it cooled, it seems to be a nice finish, not soft or sticky. I don't know how it will hold up outside yet, but it looks good to me.


What is a reasonable price on a working post drill? I found one with a bit of surface rust, not too bad, seems to still turn freely but some TLC is in order, but not sure what a reasonable price is. Thanks
   rustyanchor - Friday, 05/14/10 08:24:11 EDT

Rusty, What you and others are describing are amateur varnish formulations. As soon as you start using cobalt driers you are into modern paint chemistry and should leave it to the experts with all the hard do find industrial materials and big testing labs. . .

As noted by Anon - Varnish
   - guru - Friday, 05/14/10 09:27:19 EDT

Loose Drill Part: Bruce, this sounds like part of the cap that goes over the thrust bearing or part of the bearing itself. Its the only place I know of on these machines that has anything like sheet metal unless some later user shimmed something. User fixes and upgrades are not unusual on these machines.

Missing Drill Part: Daniel, Got your photos. I am sending you a catalog image of your machine or one similar so you can see the parts. I'm afraid the images are a bit hard to see but should give you an idea of the parts to make. The shapes are not too critical but the feed arm relies on gravity for the counter balance.

The groove in the flywheel is probably a user modification to add a motor (so is the idler pulley). All the Champions in my catalog have flat belt pulleys. They probably removed the self feed because you do not need it when you can feed by hand and hold the work with the other. However, one of the advantages of these machines it the slow speed of the hand crank and ability to drill difficult holes.

I have seen many parts for these machines hand made by both experianced and inexperienced smiths. These ranged from crank levers and feed levers to tables and table arms. I've repaired worn ratchet paws by brazing and blanked off the broken column socket on the one I mounted on the portable blacksmith shop. It had a fixed steel table and I used a stepped block of wood for height adjustment. My small hank crank press has a user made crank arm with a primitive wood handle.
   - guru - Friday, 05/14/10 09:31:42 EDT

Wax finish. I wipe it on with a COTTON RAG, no man made fabrics, while it is hot. Some people use a brush; I don't know what kind. Sometimes you can detect a heat rainbow forming, and I go a little above that. I have a coal forge, so on long pieces, the heats overlap each other a bit. Caution; the rag, after some use, may be so loaded with wax that it can totally catch fire when applied to hot steel. If I ever use some sort of mixture, it is only soot from inside the forge hood added to the waxed rag.

I've never used beeswax; is it drippy? As regards linseed oil, if it is applied at too high a heat, you sometimes get an olive drab color. Not good.

When done, the finish should not feel gummy or sticky. The cooled piece gets a cold wax finish with a light polish, as a final touchup The finish is not matte; it will have a little sheen.

   Frank Turley - Friday, 05/14/10 09:35:00 EDT

The old USMC rule-of-thumb for oiling your rifle was that it should be "visible, but not feelable." That's what I try for on any inside wax/oil finish. (Plus I provide a card on maintenance.)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 05/14/10 10:59:09 EDT

Stopped too soon:

Part of the secret is good hand buffing with a clean cloth; which can be tricky if you apply the goop while the iron is at black heat. I use a little toaster oven for most of my smaller artwork, for bluing and prep. You can set it for a bluing temperature, then turn it down to 200 degrees, which is hot, but not HOT. An oven thermometer is a good idea too.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 05/14/10 11:03:09 EDT

Post Drill Prices: I paid $25 each for mine back in the 1970's. . . With inflation that would be $250 each. . . But they tend to sell for $50 to $125 depending on size. The really big ones that weigh a couple hundred pounds often sell for quite a bit more.

I would pay $125 for one in good condition if I had a real need then spend the $160 for the items I listed above (chuck, arbor, bits in index).

Like any used equipment the price depends a LOT on condition. A complete drill has all the feed parts, turned wooden handles and mounting board. Any missing parts should drop the price considerably.

There are also some models that are not as good as others functionally. I do not like the ones with the horizontal flywheels on top and any that have the flywheel on the spindle should be avoided as they are sure to break a lot of bits.
   - guru - Friday, 05/14/10 13:45:19 EDT

I have a cole drill for my demo set up. Less weight and space required than a post drill.

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/14/10 14:13:51 EDT

Dear Guru,

I am fascinated with the sketches from J Dempseys portable shop trailer. Its truly sight to behold. Sadly the gentleman who was last listed as the owner had passed on in 2005. So far, I haven’t found more information or pictures of the trailer.

Does anyone know if there are more pictures or if Mr Dempsey ever made plans available for purchase?


Kevin Costello
   Kevin - Friday, 05/14/10 20:55:21 EDT


Thank you for the post drill prices reply, I will keep looking for a reasonably priced one.
I got my new to me Hudson home, my wife wouldn't let me put on the kitchen table with a flower in the hardie hole as a new center piece, Women...
The S/N is A17717 would you please tell me what year was it made.

Back to varnish: my exp with varnish is strictly with wood working and I rarely used varnish, but with wood the varnish sits pretty much on the surface and seems to eventually crack. Maybe due to wood movement, how well does the varnish on metal hold up and is it the same varnish used on wood??? Sorry for the dumb questions, but I really never thought of varnishing metal, and didn't use it much on wood.

Thank you

   Rustyanchor - Friday, 05/14/10 21:27:26 EDT

Frank, you say use a cotton rag (not man made materials) for obvious reasons. Would wool be a good alternative? It's not artificial and I know that wool doens't burn too easily.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 05/15/10 06:41:50 EDT

Portable Forge Shop:

Kevin, most of my photos of my shop trailer were taken as 35mm slides nearly 35 years ago and are buried in my ancient collections. They are among thousands of slides I took at the time. . . and I still do not have a slide scanner.

Jim Wilson did not own the trailer, Bethabara Park in Winston Salem, NC bought it from me. Jim was its operator and custodian until he died. At that time the bellows needed major repairs and it has only been used a couple times in the past 6 years.

I've published all my old sketches I could find.

Detail plans would be pointless as the trailer was built around available tools and equipment. The overall design was made to protect a custom made great bellows. The post drill was missing its column and socket to it was built into the trailer with a fixed table at deck height. The vise bracket was designed for a very early type tenon mount leg vise of about 30 pounds. The wheels and axle were from a 1950's Chevy COE flat bed truck. . . The width of the trailer was narrower or no wider than my 1950 Chevy Truck for inspection purposes.

The important "invention" (may be unique) of the trailer was the diagonally opening roof. This was a major breakthrough idea and after I came up with it I HAD to build it. Originally, based on a paper model the roof parts were going to counter balance each other. This worked but was a delicate balance and a little scary. So I put props in at the deck corners. With a tie bar between the top corners of the roof this was VERY stable and never flinched in the roughest winds.

The roof sections ended up weighing too much even with only 3/8" plywood covering and the 1" square by .055 wall steel frame. Today I would use a similar frame with aluminum braces and a very thin air-craft aluminum skin. My plan was to attach the skin using raised seam roofing techniques so when open it looked like an old barn roof.

Jim and Bethabara Park had the roof replaced with a heavy aluminum frame covered with aluminum plate covered with copper. . . The combination weighed more then twice what my steel and wood roof weighed and was impossible for two men to lift for setup (I used to setup the original by myself). So they added an electric winch system to raise the roof. Due to the necessity of being located close to the hinge point and the extra weight these were very highly stessed and scared me to be near them in operation. Their mods to my design were all down hill. . .

Even when I had an indoor shop I preferred working at the shop trailer in good weather due to the superior ventilation and the convenience and anchoring of the vise.

If you would like to have one of these custom designed for you I can do it at a price. Cost depends on the level of detail needed.

The original idea was for a sheltered display with the craftsfolk or sales people sitting in the middle. I've sketched up one of these for a potter with a built in kick wheel and display area. For blacksmithing it would have been too tight a work space so I put myself outside.

One issue with this as a crafts display was that most craft show organizers panic when you tell then you need a 25 foot by 25 foot space. . . Most wanted us as demonstrators and finally got over the space requirement but it was always a surprise at first since they are doling out 8x10's. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 05/15/10 09:36:51 EDT

Has anybody ever made horseshoes for a horseshoe throwing game? Any advice?
   philip in china - Saturday, 05/15/10 10:52:47 EDT

You can buy them cheaper in China than you can make them.
   - Chinastuff - Saturday, 05/15/10 19:47:38 EDT

You can often buy things cheaper than making them even if you charge your time at minimum wage! Where is the fun in that though??
   philip in china - Saturday, 05/15/10 19:54:15 EDT

Philip, I scraped hundreds of new shoe blanks recently that would have been large enough or larger than the ones you want to make. You could go buy them for scrap price.
   - Sweetiron - Saturday, 05/15/10 20:24:34 EDT

Philip, pickup the shoes here in the USA, though once they are melted down I am sure they will make the journey to China anyway.
   - Sweetiron - Saturday, 05/15/10 20:27:47 EDT

The official stake should be cold rolled steel measuring 1 inch in diameter and should be 14 to 15 inches out of the ground with a 3 inch incline towards the other stake.The official shoe size is not allowed to be larger than 7 1/14 inches in width, 7 5/8 inches in length and must weigh between 2 lb. 4 oz and 2 lb. 10 oz. The opening of the shoe must not exceed 3 and a half inches. The shape and design has evolved from a normal horseshoe to a set a 4 shoes with various subtle grooves to help the landing while pitching
   - Sweetiron - Saturday, 05/15/10 20:31:53 EDT

   - Sweetiron - Saturday, 05/15/10 20:32:46 EDT

IS thier any advice on how to answer the GMT questions.
   body - Saturday, 05/15/10 20:33:19 EDT

The hardware company I work for requires a traditional wax finish on all of their ironwork. I do mostly door hardware alot of strap hinges, after wire brushing the iron is heated in an oven(not the one in your house)find one at the
goodwill or a remodel cast off. I melt plain beeswax in a crockpot and heat the ironwork in the oven to 250 degrees
handle iron with tongs dip small items in the melted wax
and wipe gently with a cotton towel, larger items will have the melted wax brushed on with a cheap brush. This wax
system has been used for the last 20 years they have been in buisness with no problems even with ironwork that is mounted outside.
   Greg S - Saturday, 05/15/10 21:40:24 EDT

Thank you for the info.

   Rustyanchor - Sunday, 05/16/10 05:53:49 EDT

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