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 16 - 21, 2010 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Phillip: They have a "minimum wage" in China?
   - grant - Sunday, 05/16/10 13:18:38 EDT

I love good surprises!
Just found the spanner-wrench wired behind the idler-pulley of my new Champion model 93 1/2 post-drill while cleaning it all up.

" That's one small step for man, one giant cheesey-grin for Danial-kind! "

   Danial - Sunday, 05/16/10 13:49:13 EDT

How do you make the hole for the handle in a ax head? Do you use a drift punch to punch thru the hot metal or do you wrap the metal around the punch and then forge weld it?
   Rick - Sunday, 05/16/10 16:49:32 EDT

and then there were 4....... My collection is growing. I dont mean it to but what the hey, this little chap spoke to me, and seemed to be crying out to be bought to be used. Im going to clean all the orrible thick paint off it and let it pattinate back.

Then Im gonna forge weld a fat billet up on it :D

Love your thoughts on age etc, and why he has a little tail, oh, and why they have 5 feet! Im guessing its old, very very old!

ebay number.... 320528954014
   - John N - Sunday, 05/16/10 17:11:26 EDT

Hardly! We are all capitalists here. The free market rules.

The beauty of being a hobby smith is that we do it for fun and don't have to make a profit.
   philip in china - Sunday, 05/16/10 17:30:26 EDT

Rick, it depends on the the maker. I do the wrap and weld method.

   JimG - Sunday, 05/16/10 18:14:11 EDT

Philip In China
The bulldung is getting pretty deep!! More like THIEVES in the night!!
   - AMERICA - Sunday, 05/16/10 18:48:40 EDT

I recently acquired a Canedy-Otto Royal Western Chief blower and want to disassemble it to clean it before using (there is currently no oil in it, but it turns fine with no noise). Is there any special steps to be aware of when disassembling, such as a special order or orientation so the gears don't fall out, etc? Any info would be greatly appreciated for this new aspiring blacksmith.
   - John R. - Sunday, 05/16/10 20:03:27 EDT

Hi John R.
If it is quiet and works fine I would not tear it down. I would just add some oil and leaking is normal as they are not a complete sealed unit. There is fiber washers in some of those Canedy blowers and if they get damaged or the order to replace them forgotten you will have gears binding. The old addage "if it is not broken don't fix it".
   - Burnt Forge - Sunday, 05/16/10 20:23:15 EDT

John R,

I dont know if it helps but every time ive taken apart something that im not sure if i will know how to get it back together i buy a disposable camera and take pictures of it as i take it apart.
Sometimes I put a 3x5 note card with any special instructions or at least a number on it so i know what steps i went through in deconstruction.
Its not fool proof, im the fool with the squeaky dashboard to prove that.

   Kevin Costello - Sunday, 05/16/10 20:41:49 EDT

I am making a couple of flatters. Should the face be hardened?
   PHILIP IN CHINA - Sunday, 05/16/10 22:47:39 EDT

Philip; Flatters:

I had an "antique" on that I picked up with some rust pitting on the face. I spent several happy hours (made up of many spare minutes) filing it fair again. The face was definitely not hardened. This made sense to me, since I use it on work at a red heat, or hotter. Actually, I use it at anything short of an orange/yellow scaling heat, depending upon the task.

I noted on the flatter before I filed it that it had a slight crown and was not perfectly flat. However, I don't know if this was peculiar to that model, the tool, or a wear pattern. I left it slightly crowned and it seems to work fine. Other realities may vary.

Other commentators: As for conditions in China, things were simpler under Chairman Mao; they are more complex and subtle now. I have a number of friends with ties to China and I've mostly learned how much I don't know (over about 6,000 years!). Painting with a broad brush is fast and easy, but lacks the detail needed to understand a complex system that is in a period of great change.

Read and learn.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 05/17/10 07:48:56 EDT

Minimum wage in China: One extra bowl of rice at lunch break.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 05/17/10 08:00:33 EDT

i have an anvil that i would like some information on how old and where it came from. the only markings on it that i can tell is "Sanderson" and under that "Sheffield"
   stephen - Monday, 05/17/10 09:34:15 EDT

Flatters: If made of tool steel they should be heat treated (hardened and tempered). Properly tempered the struck surface will be hard but not as hard as your hammers. While this will not stop mushrooming it will reduce it greatly.

Flatters come in great variety. There are "side sets" with a rectangular face slightly sloping to one side like a repousse' tool. These are for dressing corners and usually have a radiused edge. There are "set hammers" which are square faced sharp edged flatters and then common flatters. I believe set hammers should have absolutely flat faces and flatters a very slight crown.

For handles see Rough Handles. Wrapped handles are the easiest.

I have never had much use for flatters as they require a LOT of force such as from a sledge hammer (and a helper) or power hammer.

Note that power hammer flatters are much different than hand work flatters. They are often half rounds or similar to (exactly the same as) a power hammer fuller. The only difference would be if the surfaces are marred from use as opposite tools. . . Even if you use flat dies on your power hammer you need a flatter to smooth tapered surfaces (thus the round back that works on a slope).
   - guru - Monday, 05/17/10 10:14:57 EDT

I have an 80lb. anvil made by William Foster in 1847. It has a side horn like the carriage anvil. The underside of the side horn doesn't have the undercut like the one shown on the carrige anvil in your site. Does this mean anything to you?
   - Paul Duffey - Monday, 05/17/10 15:38:42 EDT

Does AnvilFire have a page on forge-blowers?
   - Danial - Monday, 05/17/10 22:11:06 EDT

Paul, These anvils were made by hand and often had minor differences. Even overall style might vary from the same manufacturer unintentionally. A few anvils were also custom made AND it is not unusual to find modifications made by users.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/18/10 07:03:53 EDT

Danial, No blowers page.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/18/10 07:04:52 EDT

quick question. Next period of class or maybe now " whenever you read this" i'm going to be continuing work on my forge. my question is, am I able to make a forge that is flat with no pit or will this not work. it is a big quarter inch plate in a circle shape. my plan is to drill out holes in the middle of it for air flow and weld a pipe flange on the opposite side. then to the flange ill put the usual piping used in a normal forge. basically it will be a flat piece of plate that I will pile coal on to. mostly I will be using it for making blades.
   matt M - Tuesday, 05/18/10 08:26:52 EDT

table this is what it will look like
   matt M - Tuesday, 05/18/10 08:30:11 EDT

Matt, flat forges are fairly common but need a rim to keep fuel from falling off.

Your holes in the plate will rapidly clog and or burn out. Forge "grates" or tuyeres best have large holes that allow free flow of the air and for debris to fall through. The best "grate" in my opinion is a single 1/2" bar across a 2" or larger opening.

The reason for a "fire pot" ( a depression in the forge ) is too help control the spread of the fire and produce a concentrated heat. On a flat forge you are going to need to pile the coal up as much as a foot deep over your tuyere to get a satisfactory fire. As you use this mounded up fire it is going to break down and spread out losing usefulness. The fire is also going to spread rapidly through the pile requiring constant quenching of the fire to control it.

Get someone to torch a hole in that plate for you to fit a good commercial fire pot into it. OR put a 6" rim on the plate and fill the forge with clay leaving a 2" rim and a 4" firepot.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/18/10 09:26:33 EDT

Matt, the whole purpose of the fire pot or "duck's nest" in a typical forge design is to consentrate the heat of the fire and focus the air blast.
You will find in a solid fuel forge (mineral coal or lump charcoal) that the hottest part of the fire is obviously over the air blast. This is especialy true when you are useing coke.
Anyone that uses a coal forge will come to relize that they are not useing raw coal to do the work. Untill raw coal has been converted to coke in the fire it realy doesn't do much for the smith except keep the shop warm and cover everything with a nice fine patina of soot.
Once the coal has been coked it burnes very hot and clean but, needs a constant air blast to keep it lit, either low when the fire is idle or high when needed for work.
If the smith uses raw coal for fuel then he/she makes their own coke as they go.
I'll breifly describe how I lite and manage my coal fire.
I have a rail road style forge with a fire pot that is 8" tappering down to 3" and probably 3-4" deep, with a Champion 400 hand crank blower.
I start with a double handfull of hardwood lump charcoal in the bottom and lite that with the LP torch. When that is self supporting I start adding small pieces of coke left over from the previouse session untill I have a good bed of coke going and the "duck nest" is full a few inches over the top. When this is done and burning white hot I start adding my raw coal.
I usualy work in a hollow fire so I'll throw a couple of scoops of raw coal on top and let them become engulfed in flame befor I start to sprinkle water on to controle the burning. I want the coal to burn from the inside, not on the outside.
I find, for myself, that unless I need a bigger fire, I don't bank up the raw coal around the fire and rake it in as I need it. Instead, I keep adding it to the top and let it coke from there. I also like this because I offten need to heat one part of the work and not some other finished or nearly finished part and, need to be able to poke through to open air to keep from burning that bit.
Well, to make a long explaination even longer, I have seen flat bed brick forges in operation and they work fine but, you'll usually need a bigger pile of coal to get the same work done and, they are harder to manage for longer work sessions because you will have to tear the fire down periodicly to get rid of the ash and clinker if they can't fall through the bottom.
Something else I do for a larger fire that I'll only need for a couple of hours. I made a diffuser grate form a 1/4" thick slice of 6"round stock and drilled a rectangular hole pattern of 1/4" holes in it.
If I plan on doing some longer heated sections I'll turn it paralell to the work. If I need a short fire I'll turn the grate perpendicular to the work.
So far it has worked out good and allows me to use less coal but, it's starting to burn up after about a year so I'll have to make a new one. Also, because it covers the tuyre opening I can't dump my ashes so the fire is only good for a few hours as I said and I would probably not be able to weld in it but, it serves its purpose.
I hope you can find something usefull in all my babble, I always say, "Why settle for a sentance when a couple of paragraphs will do..."
   - merl - Tuesday, 05/18/10 10:09:58 EDT

good morning,
recently i was requested to demolish old scrap oilfield components and tanks from the 50"s or 60's. after having them tested and cleared for explosive gasses i proceeded with the plasma cutter. i stopped after an hour because this was the worst stuff that i have ever encountered. i dont know what they coat these tanks with but the end result was my respirator pads looked like someone wiped mustard on them . after consulting a few of my welding piers it was brought up that it could possibly be something in the way of a sulfur based chemical. do you have any insight on this? please advise.
   - max gremillion - Tuesday, 05/18/10 11:01:37 EDT

Oil often contains sulfur as it comes from the well. In certain locations it contains hydrogen sulfide---"sour gas" a deadly gas that has killed many an oilfield worker.

Could that "mustard" be from galvanization?

Thomas who used to baby sit oil wells but we were NOT supposed to burp them!
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/18/10 11:31:02 EDT

Max Gremillion

Zinc galvanizing produces both yellow and white residue when burnt but primarily white. However, I do not know what it does under plasma. The "yellow" could indeed be from galvanization (zinc). WORSE it could be from cadmium plating as in cadmium yellow (The most popular yellow artists color).

If it is from cadmium you MAY need to go to a doctor immediately as poisoning from cadmium fumes can be fatal.
Chip off a piece of the tank surface and have the plating tested at a chemical laboratory. Also have some of the contents and any other coatings tested. Also have the substance on your respirator pads tested.

When you know what it is then check to be sure you are wearing the proper respirator. IF its cadmium then you will want to use local ventilation PLUS a properly certified respirator that SEALS to your face. Cadmium IS deadly toxic and there is very little that can be done medically.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/18/10 12:01:47 EDT

I'm a retired Machinist, I would like to know where I let Texas Blacksmiths know, that I have a nice 99 Lb Kohlswa Anvil for sale. I would prefer to sell to someone that is willing to pick it up in San Antonio. I have a few items I will give whoever picks it up. Is there a forum that will allow me to post it for sale? Thanks, I really don't want to deal with eBay.
   Harry Norford San Antonio, TX - Tuesday, 05/18/10 12:28:03 EDT

Harry, Our Hammer-In page is a free-for-all where you may post specifics. You might also try our ABANA-Chapter.com page and contact the various local blacksmithing groups directly.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/18/10 13:14:18 EDT

Does Anvilfire have a diagram of a coal forge ? I have been thinking of making one. Also, in my area there is not any coal, I would have to drive up into Missouri ( Piedmont ) to get a load of it. How much and how long will coal last,let's say for welding ( damascus ) knife blades. If I have to make a long drive to purchase it, I want enough to last a while.
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 05/18/10 17:24:46 EDT

Thanks for the input on flatters. I made two. One is a short offcut of railway line with a bar welded into the web and the actual line cut off the top. The other is a square of 15mm plate welded to a 3 pound hammer head. I have tempered both and dressed them flat. I used them both and they work fine but yes they do need a lot of force.
Sad day today in many ways. I have started to decommission the shop here. I had forgotten how much tooling I had bought and made over 4 short years! Even having given away 2 anvils I still have 3 to move, the Anyang and loads of other stuff. Also over half a ton of weightlifting weights! Anyway we are organising a truck with a crane on it so that will make life a good deal easier.
   PHILIP IN CHINA - Tuesday, 05/18/10 19:11:18 EDT

Can I bend and work with stainless steel in my forge and what special charisteristics of the metal shou;d I be aware of? Thanks, Mark
   Mark Krause - Tuesday, 05/18/10 19:21:51 EDT

Blowers (non)Page:

As opposed to anvils and bellows, blowers have none of the associated romance and utility. A couple of brands stick out, Buffalo and Champion come to mind, but they lack the "fan base" of a Trenton or a Hay Budden, or an Alldays and Onions. None the less, when I have come across some worn old rattling blower in an antique shop, it tends to be overpriced as if it was some great gem of a discovery. They are neither particularly graceful pieces of equipment, nor useful out of their context, leaving me puzzled with the great value some antique dealers bestow upon them.

Just another mystery; perhaps it's a Mid-Atlantic thing, or just my luck in the shops I visit.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 05/18/10 19:29:48 EDT

When I was a boy, we burned coal for heat. The coal was in huge chunks, several pounds apiece. How should it be broken up for optimal performance ? Will finer coal coke faster than bigger chunks ?
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 05/18/10 19:44:18 EDT

Stainless: You can bend & forge it, it is stronger at forging temperature than mild steel. Depending on the material & what You do to it, You may loose some of the "stainless" properties. If You are using the 3xx grades [non-magnetic] You might be better to water quench from red hot to solution anneal when You are done.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/18/10 20:04:58 EDT

Mark, As Dave noted, it is hot tough so you want to work it at its high limit and not into the low reds like mild steel. There are many types of stainless so treatment varies. But the common 300 series are fairly easy to work if you have forging experience.

Coal size: Mike, Its work to break it up. Hammer and anvil. . . Best size for forging is nut (walnut) size down to pea or stoker size. Larger pieces are hard to form a tight fire with. In Great Britain they favor fines which are then wetted so that they hold together and do not blow away until they start coking.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/18/10 21:35:23 EDT

No thoughts on my little anvil I posted a link to a couple of days ago? (ebay number 320528954014 )

Philip, you heading to Bulgaria now?
   john n - Wednesday, 05/19/10 01:17:04 EDT

Solution annealing of 300 stainless to restore corrosion resistance requires about 2000F (yellow) and a fast quench. Just as in hardening, anything less does nearly nothing.
   - grant - Wednesday, 05/19/10 01:55:55 EDT

Jack... to weigh in on what others have already said, I have forged 300 series stainless into jewelry and the like for many years now.

1. Small window for forging. Too hot, it burns... forge not hot enough and it will stress out.

2. Cold work may induce a magnetic state.

3. Annealing is as mentioned above... it's the opposite of carbon steel.

4. When finishing your piece, NEVER touch it with anything that has been used on non-stainless ferrous material. A simple wirebrushing will contaminate the piece. Also, be aware that stainless can clog up grinding stones and other abrasives.

5. It is a good idea to do a final passivation with the steel (citric acid is the easiest).

6. The BEST method for final cleanup is electropolishing. The last step in that process involves a hot bath in phosphoric acid, which in turn passivates the surface further.

Hope all this helps. Once you get the basics of forging stainless down pat you'll realize it's not that tough to do.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 05/19/10 07:51:53 EDT

Odd Anvil: John N, Sorry about the lack of comment.

That little anvil is a VERY old style. Mid to late 1700's. I know that is not "ancient" in a European setting but it is here. The holes that do not pass through are unusual. I suspect they were drilled at some point. The little clip horn on the back is also different than most.

The "fith foot" supposedly has some religious or superstitious significance but it is not clear what that is. It probably has to do with the pentagram which was a special symbol of Pythagoreans, Masons, Gnostics, Cabalists, magicians AND Christians before it became associated with witchcraft in recent times. Christians once more commonly used the pentagram to represent the five wounds of Jesus OR the five senses.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/19/10 08:11:00 EDT

John, No not yet. That is longer term. Just moving up the road a few miles to a place in Chengdu. New job and I have to move to a new shop of course.
   Philip in China - Wednesday, 05/19/10 09:25:59 EDT

Mike T, speaking as a bladesmith who works in a coal forge, if I'm doing a 12" bowie-sized billet of relatively simple pattern-weld (aka damascus), I'll run through 25 to 50 pounds of coal from start to finished blade. More complex patterns take more coal, of course. I also use a power hammer, which cuts time and thus coal consumption considerably.

I use a Centaur firepot dropped into a 24" x 36" 3/8" steel tabletop on wooden legs, which has lasted me ten years so far. Mostly hand-crank on the blower, but I do have an electric blower for those times I refine wrought iron wagon tire into a more user-friendly material.

I usually buy my coal 500 pounds or so at a time, bagged, from Grace Fuels in Asheville, NC. That way I know it's good metallurgical coal. They stock Blue Gem smokeless (a misnomer, it smokes something fierce until coked!) which is a fine deep-mine coal from eastern Kentucky. Regular lump coal is usually too low quality for smithing.

Most makers of pattern welded blade steel use a blown propane forge, it's much easier and cleaner. I also strongly recommend a power hammer and/or a hydraulic forging press for the standard patterns, it really saves the ol' shoulders and vastly speeds up the process.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 05/19/10 14:06:55 EDT

Mike T, something you should also keep in mind when useing caol, you should be makeing enough extra coke each time as you work that you will have some to start up the next session with.
This is a self-perpetuating prosses but, you may have to spend the first start up session makeing a lot of extra coke so as to keep you going untill you develope a routine for getting your work done and also making coke for the next session.
   - merl - Wednesday, 05/19/10 16:18:42 EDT

...something you should keep in mind when useing COAL...
I'm not sure what caol is...
   - merl - Wednesday, 05/19/10 16:20:21 EDT

Thanks Jock, So it might be 250+ years old !! Still not collected it, but when Ive cleaned it up I will mail you through some pics if you want.

I couldnt tell looking at the pics if the pritchell hole went through and exited on the side of the anvil (there is a slight depression on the side where you would expect it to be if punched through on an angle). The horn looks very corroded so I wondered if possibly the hole was full of gunk / corrosion and had just been painted over ?

Interesting little thing anyway :)

One theory just proposed to me about the '5th foot' is that it may add stability to the anvil if striking towards oneself alot. Makes sense in a way, but you could extend the theory to say they would / should have 6 feet so they were suitable for lefties !
   john n - Wednesday, 05/19/10 16:44:15 EDT

John, Since when did the world ever care about lefties?

Its hard to tell about the hardy and pritchel holes. They look out of place on this anvil but it IS different.

Occasionally holes will get things wedged in and broken off in them. Add some rust and associated expansion and it can be pretty solid. But close inspection will tell more than the ebay photos.

Yes, I'd love to have photos of this little oddity.

Richard Postman has identified some 250 British anvil makers. So when you get into trying to identify anvils within your country it can be tough.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/19/10 18:46:15 EDT

Guru and Gang-
A few months ago I stumbled onto your site looking for some information to help me with a project. A few months later and I seem to have caught some sort of affliction, which has led to my own home-brew forge and now an honest to goodness 'real' anvil (my poor vise was unable to handle life as a stunt anvil).
Since I am holding the members of this forum responsible for my new attraction for iron, I was hoping you could help by answering my question: How to identify my anvil (of course). It has the letters "HAT_ELD AND ______", each on a separate line. It has the look of a standard London anvil, and weighs somewhere between 150lbs and one hernia.
I had assumed it would be easy to look up, since I thought it must be "Hatfeld" but darned if I can even find reference to anything like that name.
Hopefully you guys will take pity on me and help me out, or else I can see me running all over creation trying to figure out where the heck this thing came from.
Many thanks!
-NEK Tinkerer
   NEK_Tinkerer - Wednesday, 05/19/10 19:59:39 EDT


Hadfield And Sanderson Sheffield
   - Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 05/19/10 20:21:14 EDT

Burnt Forge- Thanks! I didn't even think that it could be British (I bought it from in VT from another guy in ME after all) I assumed it was just made after the London style. I'm going to have a look around to try and put a rough date with it.
Now that I know a little of it's history I can feel good about putting it back to work again.

Thank you!
   NEK_Tinkerer - Wednesday, 05/19/10 20:43:05 EDT

NEK Tinkerer
You're Welcome
I found this in a Sheffield online directory:
Hadfield & Sanderson Anvil makers Earl Street
Hadfield & Sanderson Anvil makers Wicker
I don't think anyone really knows the dates they were produced. I would guess the 1800's and a physical inspection would have to be done to determine a rough 30 to 50 year span yours was made. This could be done to see if it has a pritchel hole or not. If it has one that wasn't drilled in later, but punched when made it would be probably been produced after 1830. Then look it it to see if it is an Old English Pattern or New London Pattern. Finally look at all the other details. It could be a situation where you anvil was made sometime between 1850 and 1895 for example. This is all just a guess and direction. I don't think this anvil can be dated any closer than a few decades plus at a wild guess.
Hope this helps.
   - Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 05/19/10 21:20:00 EDT

NEK Tinkerer
This was from and 1841 directory.
Hadfield & Sanderson Anvil makers Earl Street
Hadfield & Sanderson Anvil makers Wicker
Looks like they appeared on the seen within a decade of that date: guess only. Your anvil from that date to probably 1890's without seeing it. Just a guess
   - Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 05/19/10 21:24:46 EDT

You may or may not remember my question earlier about my table forge that I am making, but if you do this is how it looks now; I drilled out a large hole in the center of the plate " big enough for a Bmw 325 brake rotor that was in my shop class", to be able to rest inside the plate with the lip overlapping the hole so it stays in. instead of welding I am going to bolt the rotor to the plate as a fire pot that can be tossed and replaced when it wears out. As you told my guru I am going to put a 1/2" bar across the hole in the rotor for ash to get by. does this sound like it would be a good plan to you or no?
   Matt m - Wednesday, 05/19/10 21:59:21 EDT

Matt, It will work but not nearly as good as a commercial fire pot. The problem I have with most modern brake rotors is they have a hollow space with vanes between the two halves. Also, the model you selected is pretty rare and a duplicate may be tough to find even though the parts are pretty common in general. . .

When all the cars are electric with regenerative braking then all these good auto parts will be rarities. What will we tell the future kids getting into smithing? back to holes in the ground. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/19/10 22:41:55 EDT

.....since when did the world ever care about lefties???

GURU!!!!! YOu said the "magic-phrase"...The signs are all there.....NO-QUESTIONS-ABOUT-IT....Yes, it is The-Time!

Tomarrow, grabbing the wife....."and" the check-book, too!
Covering three States.....
* 3ft X 5ft custom built, bouble-blower, heavy-plate steel, complete with hood, coal-forge.
* additional Champion or Buffalo forge blower with stand.
* Another leg-vise....size unknown.
* One more.....No TWO-MORE!!! Anvils...165 & 250 pounds!
* Maybe a swage-block or two as well, I dunno yet.

I "think" the 250-pounder is a Hay-Budden or Peter-Wright.
The 165-pounder is from the folks back home, P.W. Kholswa, maybe a THIRD Hay-Budden......
I don't CARE! I'll take 'em BOTH. It's just money!!!

Swage-blocks...What do I know about swage-blocks???

I mean if I'm gonna "do this" then lets get this over with and get some metal in a fire.

I'll Be Back or the wife killed me...which-ever comes first!
Oh, will someone feed our dog, please?

Thanks.... :-)

   Danial - Thursday, 05/20/10 01:16:23 EDT

Can a "Really Stupid" style blown forge work with low pressure (10 psi) propane? My limited knowledge of atmospheric burners says they need more than 10 psi. My 500 gallon tank first reduces the pressure to 10 psi at the tank. I had a tee and riser installed in the buried ¾ inch line adjacent to the barn and shop to supply propane to a back-up generator and to a future forge.
   Bob Johnson - Thursday, 05/20/10 01:20:38 EDT

Bob, Most NC-Tool forges run at 4 to 8 PSI. Blown forges can run on less as long as there are no restrictions or control orifices. They are NOT REQUIRED and have no purpose in a blown burner but many people that have no understanding of how burners work put them in.

On the other hand my big blown fore needs about 20 PSI because there is a solenoid valve with a small orifice (.050") in the line. It was my mistake. But the valve cost half as much as the "right" size. . .

NC gets away with low pressure because their burners are small and they use multiple burners. The small burners have a much smaller orifice than the common DIY "pipe" burners. The small orifice produces a very high velocity jet of fuel to make the venturi work.

As long as a blown forge has a big enough supply pipe and no orifices or undersized components it will get enough gas at much less than 10 PSI. That 3/4" lone is more than sufficient and could be reduced to 1/2 or even 3/8" going to a blacksmiths forge.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/20/10 05:49:59 EDT

Lefties: Daniel, My children are both left handed and so are some of my best friends.

Many categories of tools have NEVER been made left handed. Dangerous tools like drills and electric saws that if you picked them up left handed the switch locking button was under your palm and locked the power ON. I think this is no longer permitted but it was common for almost 100 years. . . Machine tools are all right handed and if you study the issue so are most door ways, light switch locations and on and on. . . being left handed is like a midget living in an NBA world where everything from door knobs and cabinet heights to toilets are designed for people averaging 7 feet and you are only 4 foot. . . Furniture is too high to easily sit on and you can't see into a sink. . Being left handed in our right handed world is almost that bad and it has been proven to be much more dangerous for them.

On the other hand. . . research has shown that most left handed people were born neither right or left handed and learned to be left handed. If you sit in front of your child showing them how to use kitchen utensils or how to draw they MAY become your mirror image if they are not already right or left handed.

Only a few people are born true left handers. Folks that are ambidextrous are most likely those with no predisposition to handedness unless they worked hard to train themselves to do everything both ways. AND a few right handers are also the same category.

I'm sure my children were in the "undecided" category and we taught them to be left handed by sitting in front of them teaching them how to do things. This is more likely with twins due to the fact that you can't have both in your lap at dinner time. . . But my son, when it came time to use a hammer, watched me and piked it up with his right hand. So he does some things left handed and some right. . .

Most of use that use tools use both hands for equally complex tasks. Using a hammer and chisel, forging with tongs. . . Turning two hand wheels at once on a machine tool.

So WHY, when the more delicate task of guiding a chisel do we do so with our LEFT hand and do the gross heavy work with our right? My theory is that the protection of the left hand (not hitting it repeatedly) is the more important task. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 05/20/10 06:17:33 EDT

Lefty tools:
There is one common tool that works best for lefties - The measuring tape. I'm a lefty and I drag the tape with my right hand, and the numbers are in perfect position to mark with my left.

But I do many things righty, mainly because I was taught that way. I hammer righty, play hockey and baseball righty, and the few times I drove golf balls into the water or sand, that was righty, too. But when putting houses together, when my right arm gets tired I can switch to left. Just the benefits of a lefty in a righty world.

I have my anvil in "lefty" mode (horn to the right) because I'm more comfortable with the hardy on my tong side. Working chisels is natural to me, since my left is better at guiding things and I hammer better with my right. Another lefty-mix advantage. I wouldn't call myself ambidextrous, since things like writing and throwing are most definitely better on one side than the other.

I had a teacher who was very ambidextrous. He liked writing his name on the board, first name with his left and last name with his right - at the same time. He also let us build Tesla coils in class and shock people. But that's a different story.
   - Marc - Thursday, 05/20/10 06:41:14 EDT

Dear Guru...... I have the 1911 first print of the
Hand Forging by Thomas F. Googerty Popular Mechanics
(not the text book)I would rather it go to the right place I am selling it so I may be listing it on ebay but, thought I might give you a fyi......... first........

God Bless
   ESTELLE - Thursday, 05/20/10 08:31:03 EDT

PS hugzzzzzzzzzzzzz and thank you........
   ESTELLE - Thursday, 05/20/10 08:33:08 EDT

Estelle, I have a rather battered copy that we put on-line under our e-books.

It is a wonderful classic that is somewhat in demand. I could not guess a price. My copy was water damaged and moldy so I paid considerably less than if it was in good condition. But its been scanned and is on-line so it has done its job for me.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/20/10 09:35:06 EDT

I've seen blown forges using house supply natural gas of almost zilch pressure! Big pipe, small blower, got hot!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 05/20/10 10:52:12 EDT

Lefties: Back when I was working in an auto garage my best friend and helper was left handed. In many tight situations we were complements to each other.

It is amazing what you can learn to do. I used to be able to balance a #12 nut, star washer and flat washer on my finger tip and flip them over onto an under-dash stud and start the nut with that one finger, all in the blind and at the limit of reach. . Sort of like a magician. Now its here, now its not.

Blacksmithing is the same way. Steel moves much better when you have plenty of practice. It also moves where you want it to better. Over time you learn to use many tools equally well with either hand.

I worked at my first anvils left handed for several years until I realized why you should work the other way AND why the far side corners were always chipped. Working to with the horn to the off hand side is safer and easier to get things off the horn. With it to the off hand side you move items off and away from your body. With the horn to the working hand side you pull work off toward yourself. This is slow and inefficient forcing you to step back. Standing behind the anvil (at the heel) is similar to working the correct handed way for both right and left handers.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/20/10 11:08:11 EDT

You know....
Ole Ehud....JUDGES 3:15-16....He was a Blacksmith
"He" was left-handed.....

I bet He had a 250# anvil.....

Almost noon, here.
I gotta go...
   - D. - Thursday, 05/20/10 11:35:40 EDT

Him. . that one is not on our bible quotes page. Will add it.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/20/10 12:14:39 EDT

Did you know that hobby blacksmiths have one of the highest divorce rates in the world?...
Actualy it would be much higher except that a large percentage of them are killed by their wives and they are buried with their anvils in a show of solidarity with all the other potential hobby smith wives and, to reduce the future number of misguided husbands...
Don't burden your ego with "Geez, I got all this stuff now I'd better make works as good or better than Yellin"
You're fixin' to spend a bucket of cash so make sure it's what you want.
I don't mean the equipment, I mean the hobby.
   - merl - Thursday, 05/20/10 12:35:09 EDT

Why would your anvil be in "lefty" mode because the horn is on the right?
I am left handed and left eye dominant, I swing a hammer with my left and tongs with the right.
If I use the horn or cutting table, I want the horn on my left and the hardy on my right.
Granted, I did start learning smithing with guys that were all right handed but, to have the anvil set up with the horn on my right would just not work for me.
When I got my first anvil (110# Russian )I set it up horn to the left and radiused the near edge and left the far edge sharp. This works very naturaly for me.
When I got my second anvil (134# Hay-Bud) it had been dressed on one side only and, because I also use it horn to left, the dressed edge is on the far side. This is anoying because I then have to jump around the horn to use the radiused side.
So it would seem that my H-B was used by a left handed smith or maybe one that wanted the sharp corner on the near side?
Is there realy a left or right "mode" for an anvil?
Obviously most tools re made for right hand use and the left hander must learn to compensate. Fortunately, it's not hard...
Who else knows that files are cut for the right handed user?
When I do my demo weekend at the blacksmith club I have to bring my own forge just to make it through with out blowing my arm out.
All the forges at the show grounds are set up with the blower on the left to be worked by the left arm.
If I hammer with my left and have to work the blower with my left too then my arm never gets a break.
My forge is an old rail road style that I salvaged from my inlaws farm.
I never met him but, my wifes paternal grandfather was left handed as were most of the ten kids in the family.
So he set this forge up with a Champ. 400 blower monted on the right end of the pan to be turned with his right arm...
He was not really a blacksmith by trade but, just did things the way he felt was best. I don't know what side of the anvil he worked on, as I say, I never met him.
I take this set up to demos just to save my arm.
What my two boys are going to do if they want to blacksmith I don't know, they're both right handed.
I think they must be the milk man's...
   - merl - Thursday, 05/20/10 13:27:19 EDT

. . the milk mans. . . Sounds like divorce talk to me. . . :)

Yes, there really IS a left and right handed mode to using a London pattern anvil. In North America most old anvils are worn or chipped from strikers working on the far side when the horn is to the smith's left hand. Study a few hundred anvils and you will find this universally true. The reason for using the anvil in this position is as I noted, getting work off the horn by moving it away from your body rather than toward your crotch.

Most smiths doing pointing, necking, drawing on the corner and scrolling do so on the far side of the anvil. While this area should be rounded it is has often been chipped then dressed on old anvils more than many smiths like. So, they get used left handed. . . This is fairly common with newbies using old anvils (unless taught otherwise).

When used from the heel position anvils are generally not "handed". However, if they have one of those thin shelves flush with the face then it wants to be on the working hand side so that work held with the tongs can hang over the shelf and be worked around its thin edge. A left hander that works from the back of the anvil needs the shelf on what is normally the near side instead of the far side (due to his far side being opposite). So in fact, there are also left and right handed anvils (without wear and tear). At one time Euroanvils offered anvils with the shelf on either side but it got too complicated to keep up with.

However, in the end, it is all what you are used to or what you have learned to use.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/20/10 14:19:50 EDT

I've got my doubts about the world being a more dangerous place for lefties. The author of the one study I read about speculated that lefties had more traffic accidents because they had to work the gearshift with their off hand. It didn't seem to occur to him that meant they could keep their better hand on the wheel -- and how many accidents are caused by missed shifts? (some, perhaps, but not many) Plus that would mean all the cars in the U.K. are left-handed (and most of the cars there actually have gear shifts).

My own theory is that folks who have the gumption to keep using their left hand when everyone else uses their right are more likely to get out in the world and *do* things. And that has its risks. (I'm a rightie, by the way.)

Of course, I guess I'm concluding a lot from the fact that one author of one study was an idiot.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 05/20/10 16:49:40 EDT

I don't know; if they can control the urge to buy stuff I'd consider blacksmiths very stable marriage partners and easy to buy presents for too!

At least my wife has commented on how I look at the anvil and not at zaftig students as they work. More interested in that the leather apron covers cleavage than that it is uncovered.

Only married 25 5/6 years so far. Of course I looked for a partner who had an obsessive hobby too; so she would understand my "needs".

   Thomas P - Thursday, 05/20/10 17:22:42 EDT

ThomasP, Ohhh to have a zaftig student:)
I too consider blacksmiths to be stable marriage partners. Face it, blacksmithing is still way cheaper than a boat:)

On handedness. As usual I am one of the odd balls. Born left handed, went to parocial school where I was "corrected to use the right hand" It has been speculated that part of my learning disability is from that issue. Until I damaged my left wrist I was fully ambidextrous. Or in other words my cursive was horrible with either hand. I can write with either hand, and can write in mirror image with either. I can also start in the middle of the page and write with both hands in opposite directions, one correct and one mirror image.
From drafting my printing is better with my right, but I can draft quality print with either hand.
Now that the right shoulder Rotator cuff is more torn than the left, I find I am using the left for more stuff. I just wish I still had the fine motor control in the left I had before the wrist break and gunshot to the left hand.

AND I have the horn of my old Trenton to the right, as I too don't like the hardy near the hammer hand. And I see no advantage re: removal of iron from the horn. I don't ever get close to my body in that way.
Odd that my 1903 Trenton was equally worn along both edges when I got it.
   ptree - Thursday, 05/20/10 18:05:22 EDT

"Face it, blacksmithing is still way cheaper than a boat. :)" {PTree}

Arrgh! One ship, three boats, a canoe AND a blacksmith shop, not to mention a wide variety friends who lure me away or drop by and hang out. It's amazing that my wif has put up with me for 36 years! (At least she expresses amazement often enough...) ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 05/20/10 20:26:17 EDT

   MIKE - Thursday, 05/20/10 20:46:33 EDT

Of coure my lack of experiance shows with this question but, I don't get the horn issue.
Wouldn't you take the work from the horn opposite the way it was braught to it?
I mean, if I want to use the horn to form a circle in a piece of stock, I approche it with the work perpendicular to the horn and start hammering with the circle forming over the back side.
I guess if I want to form a coil I would have to work from either the near side or go around to the far side depending on wich direction the coil was forming in ( to the right or to the left )so it would always be working its way off the front of the horn as I feed the stock under the hammer.
I'm just visulizing and guessing on the coil as I have not made one that way as yet.
If I need a coil of some kind I have used the hardy tool I described over at the hammer-in (I think)
A plate with two chunks of 1" round stock welded on about 3-4" apart, set stock over the space in between and hammer to create the desired radius.
Guru what you describe needs a how to video to go with it because I feel like I'm missing a valuable point.
   - merl - Thursday, 05/20/10 22:40:42 EDT

I was watching Modern Marvels about the steel making industry. It said that coal was heated to make coke. I then thought about the process of making charcoal from wood. I wonder if coal could be put in a barrel and made into coke in a similar manner ?
   Mike T. - Friday, 05/21/10 00:20:11 EDT

Mike, Yes and no. Coke is made that way in huge machines. When coked the coal becomes a single large mass and must be pushed out while still hot and broken up into pieces. In fact it is compressed (making it denser) THEN pushed out by the same hydraulic ram on the way to break it up. It is also quenched with water to prevent catching fire. Part of what makes coking en-mass efficient is that the light products that are gassed off are collected and used as raw materials for large chemical industries.

In the blacksmiths forge these lighter parts are mostly burned producing heat AND not just dumping all those compounds into the air (very high pollution).

Making charcoal is similar but quite different. A lot of what is being cooked out is water, then a few light fuel compounds and hydrogen that can be burned to continue the process. The finished product does not melt together and is much easier to break up into smaller pieces than coke.
   - guru - Friday, 05/21/10 09:26:01 EDT

Parting Lines: Mike, It depends on the size of the anvil. Some small anvils are forged in one piece and will have a parting line down the center of the face, around the horn and across the bottom just the same as a cast anvil. These are usually anvils of less than 50 pounds and are fairly rare.

Larger anvils are forged in multiple parts then welded together. Large cast anvils have the same parting as small cast or forged anvils.

The important thing is what material is the anvil made from. Cast anvils can be good anvils IF made from the right steel and heat treated.

One sign of a cheap cast iron anvil is lack of finishing. Generally these sell too cheap for any effort to go into finishing. Some will have a machined top and base to remove the draft (slope of the mold) so they will sit flat and have a flat surface. But many of these do not have a finished horn.

Another is the diagonal hardy hole.
No reputable anvil manufacturer would use a diagonal hardy hole due to the fact that it greatly weakens the anvil at a critical point. It is also non-standard and many tools will not work properly on a diagonal axis. The diagonal hardy hole is a bad decision made by the pattern maker, NOT a tool maker.

Another way is to just recognize some of the common ASO patterns and styles.

One test to tell if an anvil is cheap cast iron is the steel ball test.

   - guru - Friday, 05/21/10 09:48:51 EDT

We see a lot of cast anvils from Mexico in NM with parting lines down the face and horn.

Often cast using a "real" anvil as the positive. Their quality depends on *what* was being cast that day; but none of them are then cleaned up and heat treated.

I have seen several where someone has tried to clean them up and then sell them as "originals" but they still are not up to the finer details---handling holes, base depressions, etc.

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/21/10 12:54:19 EDT

I just a Buffalo forge #651 at an auction can anyone tell me how the blower hooks on to the base. It looks like something is missing. thanks
   Harold Gross - Friday, 05/21/10 20:15:41 EDT

Burnt Forge-
I found similar info on my Hadfield and Anderson, and guestimated 1830 +/-30 years (last entry I saw for H&A was 1857). I haven't had any time away from work (the lousy kind that pays for things like anvils) so I haven't taken a good look at the pritchel hole yet. What should I look for to tell me if it's drilled or punched?

Thanks again!
   NEK_Tinkerer - Friday, 05/21/10 20:50:27 EDT

Uld anvils were all punched. Handling holes were almost always square. It is said that anvils prior to 1844-48 did not have pritichel (round) holes. However, I have seen very old anvils that had them added by drilling as well as hardy holes increased in size.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/22/10 06:50:10 EDT

Harold, Our early Buffalo catalog use number like 0a1, 2, 3, but no large three digit numbers. That is most likely a casting number. Also note that it is very common for folks to mismatch forges and blowers and they may not have been designed to go together.

Blowers attached to forges dozens of ways. Many were on their own stand and simply connected by the tuyere pipe. Some had fancy bar and clamp systems. Others hung off the pipe and had a simple bolt or bracket supporting them.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/22/10 07:00:40 EDT


You're probably over thinking the horn thing. Imagine you're right handed and have the horn to the left. You hold the stock in your left hand. When you finish working the stock and slip it back off the end of the horn, you move your left hand to your left and away from your body.

Now if the horn's to the right, you have to move your left hand to the right to slip the stock off. That brings your hand across your body, and could bring the stock too close for comfort.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 05/22/10 09:41:39 EDT

Hi NEK Tinkerer
Pritchel Hole
A standard punched hole will most often have a spreading and protrusion on the underside of the heel. It usually has a location on the heel similar to most other anvils and not to close to an edge. Sometimes drilled holes that were added can be very close to the heel edges. There will be no evidence of punching on the underside of heel where the drift came threw. You may see a deep rough spiral in the hole from a drill bit. They may be significantly oversized as compare to prichel holes that are mostly 9/16" and smaller in 200 lb anvils down. I can't really explain this well. I just know when looking and you will quickly be able to do the same. Hope this helps.
   - Burnt Forge - Saturday, 05/22/10 10:19:14 EDT

Thank you guru, I got it. The blower hooks on the leg and one bolt to the base.
   Harold Gross - Saturday, 05/22/10 21:16:53 EDT

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