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This is an archive of posts from May 22 - 31, 2010 on the Guru's Den
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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

Old 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

Lack of Pritchel Holes: This was a minor inconvenience before the anvil became a multitool. There were a number of "underlays" and pierced plates used in earlier periods for these operations. The altered anvils are just folks keeping current and/or fashionable.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 05/22/10 21:19:05 EDT

Mike BR, thanks for the explanation.
I got that bit actualy and I admit I do have to make a little side shuffle to reduce the chances of an "incedent".
with the horn to the left.
I use the cutting table and the step down to it quite a bit and it just would not work trying to hammer with my left hand and have the horn on the right without haveing to reach across and hammer from the far side.
Just another case of a lefty learning to compensate for his environment I guess.
   - merl - Saturday, 05/22/10 21:42:14 EDT

I know some smiths from an industrial shop that when the one guy started his apprenticeship there over 60 years ago there were about 75 working in the shop. ALL their anvils were horn to the right of the smith. When he came into my shop the first thing he asked me was if I was left handed. When I told him no he told me my anvil was backwards. I have read that horn to the left is an ornamental smith (and perhaps farrier) thing and that industrial smiths use the horn on the right.
   - JNewman - Saturday, 05/22/10 22:56:36 EDT

Pritchel & hardy-holes.

Is there any "set-standard" to pritchel & hardy holes?

We now have a Peter-Wright 225# (250 pounds my FOOT!) that has a 3/4-inch pritchel hole and what seems to be 1-1/4 inch hardy-hole. First thing I noticed when we got home was how much larger these are than what's on the little 112# H.B.
The other anvil that my family picked up for me.....
I only have numbers from the base and that it's stamped 165 on the side, and "Hoss, it sings when it rings!".

But I'm really wondering if I'm now going to have three different sized anvils with "3" hardy-hole sizes.

WoW!!! Look at all that coal-forge INTEL. up above!
I NEED THAT now.....
YOu folks ALWAYS talk about all the really cool-stuff when I'm Gone!

It's because I'm left-handed, isn't it?

   Daniel - Sunday, 05/23/10 01:14:42 EDT

Weights and Hardy Holes: Daniel, English anvils were marked in Hundredweights (that would be 285 pounds).

The modern standard for blacksmiths anvil hardy holes is generally 1" but pritichel holes vary. On old anvils the hole sizes increased with weight about every 25 to 50 pounds. Very old anvils had very small hardy holes (1/2" and 5/8"). So you can easily have half a dozen hardy hole sizes if you have that many anvils.

There are three ways to approach this. Make most of your own hardy tools and make sets for EACH anvil. OR, make bushing sets for each anvil to fit a standard 1" shank or smaller if you have an odd collection of tools. The third option is to make a seperate stand for hardy tools to put next to your anvil (or use them in a vise).

Some tools like bottom swages do not need a tight fitting hardy hole. I have old tools with 7/8" shanks that work fine flopping around in a 1-1/4" hole. Cutters and bending forks need a fairly snug fit. I do not like fits so tight they fit only one way but some folks do. I prefer my anvil tools to fit all directions and slip in and out easily.

I also have old hardy tools with huge shanks (2" or thereabouts) that I use in a swage block OR vise rather than cutting them down.

So you have options. If you buy and make new tools they can all have 1" shanks and you can use bushings in you anvils with larger holes. Make the bushing with either a large flange almost as wide as the anvil OR let it ride on the radius of the hole and have no flange.

If you collect old hardy tools they will have a wide range of shanks. Several times I've purchased the entire set from an old shop and THEY had the same problem with all sorts of shank sizes. Most of them not fitting THEIR anvil.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/23/10 06:25:28 EDT

I know of no set standard for hardie and pritchel holes on the older, forged anvils. One idea for making a hardie hole smaller is to slip a short length of single angle iron in one corner of the hole. The top of the angle iron is thinned and bent outward.

What is a pritchel, anyway? It is a horseshoe nail punch dressed on the end to a small rectangular shape which normally matches the mid section of the nail itself. In using the pritchel during the process of horseshoe turning, one wouldn't want a too large pritchel hole or the shoe may bend into the hole. A large pritchel hole may be all right for draft shoes which used stock of 1" or 1½" width. Hay-Budden introduced the two pritchel hole farriers pattern anvil. I suppose the idea was to get the holes punched without having the shoe unbalanced where it might topple off the anvil. ¿Quien sabe?

For the kinds of work other than horseshoes and where the pritchel hole is the wrong size, one would do as Atli suggests above. Various bolsters were used for punching and hot slitting.

Re the horn on the left, that's where I keep mine as a right hander. I started out as a farrier, and we were always turning shoes or bending/unbending keg shoes. The shoe is in the left hand and the horn is on the left. It didn't make sense to move the left arm across the body to a horn on the right.

As one example, I refer all to use your search engines to find the painting, "Pat Lyon at the Forge," a painting measuring 93" x 68" and completed in 1827. Besides looking at the horn placement, there is a wonderful story to go with his life as a smith.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 05/23/10 06:59:56 EDT

Question on D-2 stel. is this correct?I have a nice digital heat treating oven. So I put my parts into the oven, then bring the parts up to 1500º, then raise the temp to 1850º and soak for 20 minutes, then remove into open air and allow to cool enought to handle with bare hands. Then immediately palce in over that has already been preheated to 400º, soak for 3-5 hours,(to obtain 60-62 Rc) and my question is after he 3-5 hours, are the parts removed from teh oven and allowed to cool normally in open air or should the oven be turned off and the parts allowed to cool slowly? Also, while in the heat treating oven, is it necessary to wrap these 24mm pins in some stainless wrap or is it ok to just put them in teh oven as is? Thanks for y'all' s help.
   Mutt - Sunday, 05/23/10 09:24:49 EDT

Hi, my 1st time on this site. I need a GOOD blacksmith to make a custom designed tomahawk. I'm in the SW part of Virginia and would like someone within 200 miles. How do I find someone? Thank you for your time.
   Steve - Sunday, 05/23/10 10:02:09 EDT

Update on the Tomahawk request: since I'm not a smith, please send responses to: slservices@juno.com Thank you.
   Steve - Sunday, 05/23/10 11:17:45 EDT

Mutt, D2 would benefit from a double temper, especially if you do not let it cool to room temperature. Just duplicate the temper but make the first one about 25 Degress LESS than the SECOND one. The second temper will temper the martensite that forms from the retained austenite formed during the first temper. It does not hurt to allow it to furnace cool but after tempering the thermal stress of air cooling should not be a problem.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/23/10 12:34:01 EDT

For D2, I reckon the temper should match the end use. My 1966 Diggs booklet* has a chart that shows tempering: 400/1,000 and the Rockwell hardness number 61/54.

*"Heat Treatment and Properties of Iron and Steel;"
National Bureau of Standards Monograph 88.

   Frank Turley - Sunday, 05/23/10 13:27:19 EDT

I misstated earlier, the PW is stamped 2 0 1 for its weight. I did the English weight formula that I have on my home-made Anvil-guide (cheat-sheet) that really comes in handy when out looking at anvils and other needed tools.

285-pounds, that would turn a "good" deal into a "GREAT" deal!

But something odd about this PW-anvil is that it's only stamped with a single digit " 8 " up front & right side of the base if you were looking down the horn.
Other than the small torch-mark on the face, (Why would anyone torch an anvil??? ) it's in good shape.

The other anvil is making me loose sleep wondering what it could be. Like these two anvils, it's been painted as well from the single photo I had e-mailed to me.
On the backside of the base reads ( E 5 7 2 2 ) and then the 165 stamped on the side, horn pointing to the right.

I have to turn back in my checked out copy of the Machinery's Handbook now and I'm shure that I'll never see it again. It would be my best move to obtain 2 copies of this...first ed. reprint & latest copy, and sneak a hint for Richard Postmans "Anvils in America" under the wifes Need To Obtain section of the Honey-Doo List.
   spelled Danial on my paycheck. - Sunday, 05/23/10 13:54:09 EDT

....I'm "sure" that I'll never see it again.
Not "shure"
Ok, add Webster's Dictionary to the book list now.
   D. - Sunday, 05/23/10 14:07:03 EDT

I did a bad thing, and a good thing to a little anvil today! I cleaned up my 'tailed' (double horn) ?250+? year old anvil, I used paint stripper and an industrial steam cleaner to get it back to bare metal.

Its an intersting little thing (I posted an ebay link to it a few days ago) the depression on the horn is infact a tapered punched hole that goes right through. Sadly someone had used the face of the poor little thing as a chisel cutting table, and it was damaged beyond use without some work.

So I hit it gently with an angle grinder, then a flap disc. I had to take at most a small 2mm off it in places to make it servicable. I know some folks will frown on such a heavy dressing of the face, but its an anvil, and got to work as such!

It sparked as steel when I ground it, but the sparks had a touch of red in them, and diddnt 'branch' like high carbon. It does have reasonable rebound, but its not hard like my Peter Wright.

Anyhoo, The nice end to the story is I set a forge weld on it this afternoon, and I swear it looked happy!

Jock, Ill send you the photos through next week, Im toying with the idea of 'stove blacking' it, any opinions?
   - John N - Sunday, 05/23/10 14:43:08 EDT

Guro, I am new at this so I have more questions. I was told on my old Buffalo forge base I need brick or clay or some thing like that. Would it hurt if I just put coal on the base? Thanks
   Harold Gross - Sunday, 05/23/10 15:17:56 EDT

Anvil Finishes: John, Old anvils generally had some kind of paint or tar on the, to prevent rusting if they were being shipped great distances. Those sold locally to you may not have had any finish other than some oil or wax. The few original finishes I have seen were much later than your anvil but applied quite rough. I think Fisher stated a "coal tar" paint.

I just use whatever black paint is on hand (normally in a spray can). Sometimes it is high temp flat black, sometimes gloss black. . . Stove black is a graphite based finish with even less binders than high temperature paint.

Paint on anvils does not last long due to working hot metal on the edges, scale burning the paint, nicks from handling.

The best finish on very old anvils is the hundreds of years of rust (usually smooth) with some paint over it. Wrought rusts differently than carbon steel and if kept indoors takes a very graceful rust coating.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/23/10 16:05:01 EDT

Forge Bottom: Harold, it depends on the type of forge and the type of work you are going to do.

Forges with a heavy depressed fire pot (recess about a foot square tapering to 4-5" and about the same deep, casting 5/8" to 3/4" thick) are designed to be sued AS-IS.

Forges with thin flat pans and a flush or nearly flush fire grate (little holes) should have as a minimum a "ducks nest" of clay formed around the grate to form a "fire pot". This is usually only a couple inches thick. The nest can be a ring of extend to the sides of the forge.

These flat bottomed forges are light duty rivet and shoeing forges. Those with a heavy fire pot are heavy duty forges. The only difference is the size of the fire you build. If you build a huge fire in a light duty forge trying to heat a large piece of steel OR you just let the fire get away from you in a light duty forge you can easily damage it.

However, coal burns at 3,200°F which is above the melting and burning point of iron and steel forges. These forges rely on cooling from open air on the bottom and do very well UP-TO a certain point. Even the heaviest iron and steel forge can have the bottom burned out of it or overheated to the cracking point. It takes some common sense to operate.

Fires are commonly built in small bare bottomed forges with no problem. The fire just needs to be kept proportional to the forge.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/23/10 16:16:12 EDT

Spell Check: Firefox has spell check built in and works great in these input boxes. . .

Used copies of Machinerys can be purchased for as little as $15 plus shipping. We still have one slightly rough 1942 11th Edition of Machinerys from Paw-Paw's collection. Cost $15 + $5.00 Media mail postage.

While we sell AIA and recommend it as a great book there are many other books that a newby should look into first. If you are into knives and using different tool steels the ASM Metals Reference Book is priced similarly and is an essential reference in a modern metalworking shop. I still recommend Metalworking Technology and Practice to all metalworkers that did not go through formal text book training. Two more general metalworking books focusing on hand work are Metalworking by Paul N. Hasluck and Metal Techniques for Craftsmen by Oppi Untracht (see our book reviews).
   - guru - Sunday, 05/23/10 16:38:06 EDT

I have a fellow that will do the job for you, Alan L .He lurks around on this site, email me and I will give you his contact info,he is in your travel range.
   Greg S - Sunday, 05/23/10 16:51:55 EDT

Small Forges: I own a Champion Rivet Forge that I have not clayed. I move it around to club meetings and demos so the clay would make it very heavy and not too portable. I also use my watering can frequently. Keep the fire centered over the cast iron grate, don't let it spread out to heat up the pan and you will be OK.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/23/10 16:54:13 EDT

Thanks Jock,. Im a bit undecided about the finish on the lil anvil. I spent half a days hard work getting the thick black gloopy paint stripped from it. The nice thing is the paint was so badly applied the pattination underneath is still just about in tact. I might let it rust a little, then oil it back to dark brown.

My working anvils have a thin coat of black paint, but I want this one to be 'spot on'. Ive been given permission by the boss to have this one next to the open fire in the big house we have been threatening to buy for a couple of years, but never had the funds for! :) - yup, im going to have a little antique setup in the lounge!
   - John N - Sunday, 05/23/10 18:03:52 EDT

In my own defence.
I make alot of forged leaves. I use an adaptation of the style that the Guru demos in the Iforge pages.
I had the 3D ruffles and twists as he does useing the corner created where the top of the anvil steps down to meet the cutting table.
I grasp the leaf by the stem with a pair of tongs (in my right hand) and hold the leaf across the width, in the corner and, work the shape and depth into it with a straight peen hammer (in my left hand).
With the horn on my left I can acomplish this quickly from the near side without any twisting or contorting into any place I don't want to be.
If I were to have the horn on the right I would have to do this same operation and, any other like it, by hunching over the anvil to hammer "up-side-down" from the far side (not likeing that) or, using a backhanded strike to stay on the near side (likeing that even less).
My left eye dominence is very apparent when I do most things especialy anything that requires aming so I don't fight it.
If I do a better job at something one certain way and, have a easier time of it, why would I care if it is arbitrarily correct or incorrect?
   - merl - Monday, 05/24/10 00:10:01 EDT

Steve, If you want someone to make some REALLY NICE hawks for you I suggest you give "ptree" a shout and wait untill he answers back.
He is a regular here and is also in your neck of the woods (your part of the contry anyway)
   - merl - Monday, 05/24/10 00:16:41 EDT

To all American Blacksmiths,
I am writing from Italy to promote a project that I am thinking since a while and that maybe you all can affect.
My name is Francesco De Biasio, 25 years old and I am the son of a blacksmith-sculptor. The passion for the wrought iron has accompanied my father's entire life, Mauro De Biasio, which from the heart of the Dolomites till the feet of the Marmolada (Veneto, Municipality of Belluno), has always sought with passion to forge new ideas, new products and to keep alive the tradition of our family in the field of wrought iron, with particular objects and original sculptures.

The company and factory were closed some time ago and he is now retired but his dream and desire is to show, to all those interested, his work. I want to state that I haven't followed his path, my interests are focused in other fields such as music and literature but I have been able to give my little contribution by working in our family's factory and then, as often happens, Life showed me other courses. For seven years I studied accordion in the Gioacchino Rossini Academy of Belluno and I love singing accompanied by guitar.

Transmitting a sincere passion for the United States, then evolved into my personal point of view, my father made my idea simple and focused on the base of old memories.
Many years have passed by since his travels in the U.S.A. (the 70's) and unfortunately his contact have faded. Thanks to Mr. Bill Gasparrini who first hosted him in your country, my father had the possibility to know many blacksmiths including Stephen Bondi (CA), who repeatedly visited our laboratory here in Italy, while he was ending his apprenticeship in Benetton, Municipality of Treviso and the Master Francis Whitaker, who invited him to move to Colorado to teach at his school.

The idea I have in mind is to show young and non American blacksmiths, through photos and documents, a different way of working wrought iron, in order to provide inspiration to all those who, have desire and interest to see in a different way, their own work: from small souvenir items till the art of sculpture, where it will be my pleasure to explain the inner meaning of each object. Collecting photos and documents was a hard job, and I was often demoralized while researching, but thanks to some help and to a great tenacity it was satisfactory.

Unfortunately, I speak very little English and this project, first, which as first point aims at disseminating the works of my father, but secondly, also my personal determination in learning your language and it is essential that if my plan results successful, I should be approached by craftsmen and artists who speak at least some Italian so they can help me with the explanations.
Last but not least, I want to underline my availability (as far as my experiences make it possible) in helping in laboratories and forges where I'll illustrate my project.

Unfortunately, only few articles and few sculptures remained in my family because of that economic process called trade, but there is a complete photographic archive of all the works, from my grandparents factory till the recent closure of the company, ready to be shown to anyone interested.

Hoping I have been very clear and exhaustive while exposing these issues, I sincerely hope that in the not too distant future, I may get to know you personally, in order to give a small contribution to the American wrought iron craft.

Of course I'll be happy to give hospitality, by providing my apartment for one or more people so that you too can enjoy a little piece of Italy.

Awaiting your questions and willing to send you some pictures,

Best Regards

Francesco De Biasio

via Buzzatti,61
32036 Sedico (Belluno)

Here I add something about my father Mauro De Biasio:

His works have been published:

"I Maestri Italiani del Ferro Battuto - The Italian Masters of Wrought Iron -" Joseph Ciscato 1998

Page: 47,92,369,374,402,403,460.

- ABANA-The Anvil's Ring of the Artist - Blacksmith's Association of North America:

March 1976-Vol. 3 number 4. Page: to cover, 4,7.

December 1979 - Vol. 7, number 4. Page: 25.

Summer 1992 - Vol. 20, number 1. Page: 33.

Spring 1993-Vol. 20, number 4. Page: 32,35.

"Decorative and Sculptural ironwork" ,by Dona Z. Meilach 1977

Page: 17,286,287,288,289.

"Blacksmith's Association of Western Australia"

At the "Artist Blacksmith's Association of North America" meeting (Association of which he was one of the few European members), one of his creations was chosen by the Southern Illinois University of Carbondale (USA)

In 1979 coinciding with the visit of Pope John Paul II at the top of the Marmolada (m.3343) the artist forged a huge copy of the key of the ancient stone church of our country, Sottoguda, which was donated to the Pontiff. One of his most original works entitled "God's Eye", made with a technique that has been the most innovative part of the Sculptor's artistic research and that represents an interesting blend of traditional material with the working methods of the fathers and the most daring shapes of contemporary art, has welcomed Pope John Paul II in our valleys.

Some presentation:

Mauro was born in a village at the foot of the highest mountain in the Dolomite Range in Northern Italy,in 1945. He was trained in the shop of his father and uncles,all of whom were craftsman in ironwork. In the period between the two world wars,this shop had acquired a certain reputation in Italy as well as elsewhere in Europe for the excellence of its work.
The chief occupation of Mauro is producing ornamental wrought-iron in this same shop. However ,in 1968,he began to create sculpture in this same medium. How his work are in numerous private collections in Italy and elsewhere.

The Iron Sculpture of Mauro De Biasio

The first word that might be used to describe Mauro De Biasio's sculpture is atypical. There are two reason for this. The first reason is in the special training of the artist himself,which was had directly il the shop of his father,not in schools nor art academies,a rather rare occurence nowadays. The second,closely related to the first,is the material used by the artist to create his sculpture. This is a material,as can be noted in any manual of technique of art and craft,that is not particularly given to possibilities for the realization of expression,at least in its use for statues or for pure art in general.
And yet it is in this very special unusualness that the artist's path in progress can be understood. By knowing the meaning of this arduous route followed by the artist in liberating progressively his sensitivity of expression,one that is often hars and tense,and visionary,by seeing the ... of his art in the craft he acquired in the shop,a full comprehension of his srt can be realized.

The material iron was not chose by De Biasio in a kind of intellectual decision as a poor material that might be used in the search for purity or for the working with an archaic skill. Iron was,rather,the very first material handled by the artist in the initial stages of his learning,as an adolescent. He used iron not by choice,but by necessity.
Working the iron in the close quarters of the forge,he developed and matured,taking along with him just as his other contemporaries did,all his unresolved tensions,his contradictions,and his dreams to avoid harsher realities.
In this context,then,ho noted certain of the ideas and the patterns that were furnished him by the world of contemparary art. But he knew these things only unsystematically and only guided by his instinct and his feeling for the plasticity of from that his own craft provided him.
Searching in contemporary artists and their work,at the beginning,mere suggestions or ideas for the nenewal and the up-dating of his craft.
De Biasio finnaly came to discover a sort of lesson in liberty,that is, how to look for, even in his own poor material,the possibility for free expression. He was then able,using only his own means,to begin an autonomous development. He was freed both from the rules of the craft of which he was a perfect master and from the more or less istitutionalized rules of art,from which he felt for reason of environment and cultural background excluded.
From this situation there came about a very special kind of artistic production which,in the singularity of its origin,preserves a certain discontinuity as well as toughness and above all an extraordinary vitality.
One must,in fact, keep in mind that the producing of the from through the hammering of the incadescent material,more than limiting the expressive possibilities,links them closely to a series of conditionings that are accomplished by means of trying to find a delicate and precarious balance using the properties of the material and the mechanical quality of the tools that are regulated and guided by the motions of the smithy.
The specificty of the procedure consists in a unification-which,owing to the sheer physical force required for the job,has something about it of the violent and the dramatic of the moment of conception as idea and that of execution. This moment if realization,nothwithstanding chances for successive reworkings and corrections,remains always very brief,limited as it is by the duration of the material's ductibility.
Every stroke and here one might make the connection with musical arts most logically forms a moment of struggle against time and the stiffening resistance of the material as it cools. Realization necessarily becomes a kind of improvization,a search for rhythm that is the result of an encounter or meeting between the physical nature of the medium and the very physical brute force of the maker himself.
From this all is derived a from in which the creative process itself is never completely transcended. This is a from that can be considered as a tension partially unrealized:a from that is at one and the same time the limits attempted by the artist and the residue of a happening whose complete meaning is in the actual time of the making.
One would look mistakenly for a creative unity in the work of sculpture of Mauro De Biasio because the unity exists not in the choice of subjects as themes,but in a profound feeling for the expressiveness of the process,in a complete awareness of its poetic quality.
This is the first time that Mauro De Biasio -giving in to the insistence of his friends and enthusiasts who for years have know and appreciated his work has shown his sculpture outside his shop. Up until now he has always presented his work together with the craftwork from his shop,almost as though he wished to stress the strict ties between the two areas of his activity,as well as to consider them is showing them nothing more than a sort of addition,personally and privately,to his basic craft.

The choice of Feltre for this first exhibition,in the hometown of Carlo Rizzarda,is not a presumptuous act, but is hommage to a great poet in iron on the part of a young man who has been able to discover in this poetry of iron new possibilities and new meanings,seeking to pass beyond certain institutionalized limits,but yet to remain profoundly anchored in the special nature of the process ( and the artist would doubtlessly say that it was a trade not an art).

July 1974 - Antonio Costa -


The art of Mauro De Biasio begins with complete honesty of craft.
He is a master of his iron work and permits himself no false approaches. In fact,the creative act for him is a clean sense of careful craftsmanship. The artist bends himself physically into the action of the mighty drop-hammer and models the incandescent iron. The blows that come with varying intensity remain visible even when the iron cools. There they are:legs and feet,wings,sails,strange tortured faces,leaping and spreading in the space that surrounds us,yet for this homely material that void is different,vaster,infinite as art. The time is odd too.
These sculptures recall Mauro De Biasio's interest in the object cools as the iron cools.
Our interest quickens and widens.
That is the art:his craft hammering into form his idea and our wild,exciting pursuit of this form.
We sense the perfect honesty of the material iron,of the work itself,and of the artist's spirt.
We sense the energy escaping through the leaping forms.
This force carries us with it for a little way.
Mauro De Biasio is a fine smith who has gone on exploring space and form,into the mysteries of beauty,a strange and unquiet continent.

- Charles Matz, PhD., Columbia University, New York -

"When I was small and I used to sit for hours on a stool watching my father engraving plates or forging curls while it was snowing outside, I desired having his ability. He had a tobacco and charcoal smell, my old man.
A smell that I can still hear, accompanied by the noise of small fan that used to burst sparks in the black cloak of the soot. The old hammer engine used to squeak before reaching its speed and the worked polished plunger used to pant slowly an powerful.(M.De Biasio)

Translation by: Solimini Franco

   De Biasio Francesco - Monday, 05/24/10 07:05:21 EDT

Sitting here and without getting out my research books, I suggest that "hawk" is a contemporary slang term for a period hatchet. "Hawk" is so commonly used in the black powder catalogs, that one might think that it never was derived from "tomahawk." I suggest that a hawk is a period style hatchet. A real tomahawk is a pipe tomahawk, and they were very carefully forged, filed, and finished as a trade item to the Indians. They were beautifully done with a hollow in the stem/haft for smoking. I don't think that they were thrown at trees in contests. Maybe hatchets were. I wasn't around at an 1800's rendezvous; I can't say. If you look at old photos of Indians with pipe tomahawks, you get the idea that they were a prestige item, something to be carried on the arm when, say, welcoming guests to your lodge. See Peterson, "American Indian Tomahawks" reprinted in 2007.

I hope I'm not being a spoil sport. The current rendezvous and encampments should probably have "hawk throwing contests."

Something else bugs me, though. The iron tripod or cross bar sets for cooking. I just can't imagine a mountain man horseback in Indian country with a bunch of iron on his pack horse. Even a boy scout knows how to use available wood to make a "gin pole" or skewer. Geez.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 05/24/10 07:26:58 EDT

Frank Turley, I have made one and one only Tomahawk as you describe, a hollow hafted pipe tomahawk. I hamde that one, with my then 6th grade son as a class project. He got an A :)

I do make Hawks, at my interpatation or same. Mine are bigger hafted that traditional, usually made from used horse hoof rasps, and often not traditional shaped.

If someone wants a really good looking tomahawk, Alan L is the man, as well as Billy Merrit and several of the crew at the Southern Indiana Meteor Mashers club.
If you want a strong usable hawk to chop kindling or like the rasp texture, mine are acceptable.

By the way, that pipe tomahawk is now in Colorado, The son gave it to his Grandmother, who cherishs it.
It was made with a blunt edge, and the hollow haft was about an inch shy of connecting with the bowl to allow conformance with school rules for a weapon. My wife took it in and back out day of exhibition. That son is now 22.
   ptree - Monday, 05/24/10 09:02:37 EDT

One other type of forge: I have a large cast iron forge with large rectangular firepot that sits proud of the bottom of the forge to allow a layer of hard firebrick to be installed to bring the base up to the firepot.

This was an industrial heavy duty forge and was built for lots of hard continuous service.

Anvil pointing: (Don't it's rude!), I have anvils pointing in several directions around my forge and use them as needed. Shoot I have even turned on up on it's heel and back feet to use the horn. I claim that there is *no* official way to pont them; just common ways of work. (and what about double horned anvils or no horned anvils?)

Arguing over which way is "proper" is just taking time from doing some real work!

   Thomas P - Monday, 05/24/10 15:07:08 EDT

I do indeed make fancy pipe tomahawks, and also other hafted axelike objects. People always ask me if I throw the fancy ones, and as yet I have had no takers when I tell them if they buy one they can throw it if they want to. I've never understood throwing a perfectly useful tool at someone, what if you miss?

Depending on what "custom" means, I might be up for it. I'm rather wary of that term...
Current wait is around 6+ months, got a few people in line AND a full time job.

Thanks, Greg and ptree!
   Alan-L - Monday, 05/24/10 15:25:06 EDT

Thank you Thomas, that is my point exactly.

I dunno' ptree, I like the looks of your "hoof rasp" hawk quite a bit.
Don't sell yourself short...
   - merl - Monday, 05/24/10 17:33:37 EDT

Merl, I have seen Alan L's tomahawks, and mine are no...
Mis-quoted, but.
I make a good tool, but not a traditional tool. Mine tend to have more of a working tool type finish, not polished and finely finished.
Now I am just finishing a carpenters style hatchet, and this being the third one, it is nice enough to show in public:)
The first two went to family who love me more than know fine work.
This one is being made for the auction at Tipton In, at the end of June.
It is actually a tool I would be glad to have in my kit.
   ptree - Monday, 05/24/10 18:20:43 EDT

Two of my pipe tomahawks are shown on my "flash show": http://www.turleyforge.com
   Frank Turley - Monday, 05/24/10 18:46:19 EDT

The bottom of my buffalo forge 16X24 and it is about 4" deep. The middle has a 8" circle where the air outlet is. my base is about a 1/4 to 3/8" thick. Do you think I need to put clay in the bottom for just heating up to bend steel? Do I put my coal on top of the 8" steel plate? Thanks. Harold
   Harold Gross - Monday, 05/24/10 21:38:54 EDT

Hello, gentlesmiths. Been very busy and haven't stopped in in a while. But of course, when I have a question, I know where to go. :-)

I've been playing around with my new press and am getting fairly comfortable with it. Of course, I need more tooling for it (I think that will be a never-endind state), but I have enough basic tooling to help me speed my work along.

I'm about to get into playing with some low-level production forging of hand tools with eyes (several projects to go with this, and a big reason the press was made in the first place). I have a couple of die plates set up which will hold tooling with a 1" square shank. I've built some temporary tooling for this out of some jackhammer bit (or pavement breaker) to punch eyes. It's worked well, but doesn't stand up long to the work without mushrooming, sometimes up inside the eye being punched, leading to all kinds of fun getting it back out.

So now that I've shown myself that it's do-able, I'm ready to get the real tooling made for it. I was thinking of H13 for the eye punches and drifts.

Any thoughts on this? Is it the stuff to use? If so, what's the procedure to deal with it? Forge it really hot, I figure, but am I going to need to do some kind of heat treatment on it or leave it alone after forging?

Thanks, guys.
   - Stormcrow - Monday, 05/24/10 22:07:45 EDT

I was watching a program about how circular saw blades are made. These are the blades with carbide teeth soldered on. The final procedure in making the basic blade ( before the teeth soldered on )is to heat the blade while it is being held under pressure. Do any of the guys on this board have experience with this ? What benefit does it have ?
   Mike T. - Monday, 05/24/10 23:17:49 EDT

how i can make an induction heater
   - tavakol - Tuesday, 05/25/10 07:11:34 EDT

Stormcrow, In a small shop situation, I've used H13, S1, and S7 for hot work. They all work well and have a quality called red hardness. If you can order H13 from a specialty tool & die steel distributor, it is a little easier to work with than S7. It is air hardening, so you can't normalize it. It should be forged at 1950 - 2100ºF and NOT BELOW 1650ºF. Anneal is at 1550 - 1650ºF. You may not get a perfect anneal in lime or wood ashes, but I have used it in the past. Harden at 1825 - 1900ºF. The specs tell you to pre heat to 1400 - 1500ºF before taking to hardening temp, but I think those specs are designed for industrial work where you have a separate man who is a heater and is keeping multiple pieces hot before taking them up to temp and giving them to another heat treater. I have done OK on small tooling by taking a "slow rising heat" without the pre-heat. The main thing is to get a thorough heat before air cooling. Air harden in still air on a non reactive surface. I put my pieces on a graphite block, but you can use, say, a fire brick or a pile of coke. Tempering is recommended 1000/1200ºF. However, on my small punches like pritchels, I have hardened the business end without tempering, and they seem to be tough enough to stand up to the work. I've made a number of tools out of S1, and it is oil hardening. It is fairly easy to use. When you order specialty steels, always ask for the forging and heat treatment specifications that go with the particular steel.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 05/25/10 07:24:43 EDT

Nice hawks, Frank!

You can see some of my hawks and axes at





Ptree, I just finished a carpenter's broad hatchet for myself! I'm not happy with the weld line where I laid the steel on the side of the iron (I used wrought for the body and an old Sandvik file for the edge), but it performs nicely.

Mike T., that sounds like a stress relieving step. How hot did they get the blade blank? If you bring a steel that has been stressed by cold work to its critical temperature and let it cool slowly (temperature and speed of cooling depend on alloy) it will be free of internal stresses when cool. That's a good thing, especially for a circular sawblade!
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 05/25/10 08:15:47 EDT

I've seen "quench presses" used for this sort of thing. They have water cooled platens and the hot part is placed in the press and quenched by the cold platens. Holds it perfectly flat while it cools.
   - grant - Tuesday, 05/25/10 12:25:04 EDT

Alan L, My three carpenters hatchets have all been slit and punched eye from bar. I used pavement breaker hex bit for stock.

Makes a nice hex poll.
   ptree - Tuesday, 05/25/10 12:28:22 EDT

Dearest Guru,

I have a set of windchimes. They are heavy metal, long tubes not particularly "tuned" but really loud and clangly and the DO RESONATE A LOT. They seem to be artificially weathered to look greenish like copper but must be brass or some other hard metal. ANYWAY, the clanger, which was a disk made of the same material has gone missing and I've been searching everywhere for a similar replacement. I don't care about color or decoration of any kind (I am not a metal worker myself) I just need to know WHERE I can get a disk of this metal, about 2.5" in diameter about a 1/4 - 1/3 inch thick that would do the trick. (I also have to get a small hole drilled in the middle and the edges rounded off a bit.) Anyway I need to buy or make this striker and I can't find a place that sells ONE of anything I can use.

Please advise me O Guru!

PS: the chimes also had a "wind catcher" under the clanger that is also gone, it was thin < 1/8 or 1/16 of an inch, made of the same? material (not sure, it was colored the same, but I think that was some kind of fake coating) anyway I need that as well but could replicate from something else easily.

   Amy - Tuesday, 05/25/10 14:34:10 EDT

Merl and Alan L, Either of you fine gentlemen coming to Tipton Indiana for the annual conference in June? Three experts demo'ing on a steam hammer among other highlites. And since yours truely will be there, we could share thoughts on hawks over an adult beverage, a very promising conversation.
   ptree - Tuesday, 05/25/10 17:07:46 EDT

Hey alan L
I just looked at your hawks..very nice as always..I didn't realize who you were...we communicate often on Don's Forum..

I've been making Damascus hatchets in the Tim Potier style..Three layers of steel..the middle layer two pieces to leave room for a handle.. forge it all flat that push a drift thru the hole..forge a blade on one end..spike,hammer head or whatever on the other end..Actually pretty EZ..I saw Tim do it at a hammer-in..he's quite a character..he also did a tutorial in Blade magazine..
   - arthur - Tuesday, 05/25/10 19:07:49 EDT

Presses are really great..you'll have alot of fun with it..What kind of press did you get?? I use mine solely for Damascus billet making..but I'm sure with the right tooling it can double as a punch press,press brake,etc.
I use mostly flat dies and from what I understand no matter what I use for die material the yellow billet will draw the hardness out.
Mines hydrulic and squals like a monkey on fire..
   - arthur - Tuesday, 05/25/10 19:17:37 EDT

I have plenty of 2.5 disks of 1/8 thickness and I will be
happy to mail you one, what size hole in the middle?
e-mail me your mailing address or p.o box info. 1/8 is the thickest I have in that particular size.
   Greg S - Tuesday, 05/25/10 20:13:53 EDT

Backatcha' Alan L!
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 05/25/10 20:48:00 EDT

Harold Gross, at the blacksmith shop I do my demos at, we have a stamped steel Buffalo forge like the one you describe. This is the one that our master smith uses and it only has a little bit of crumbeling fire clay left in the bottom of the fire pot.
I guess what the master (this isn't always practicle) is to keep the fire up out of the fire pot some what.
He prefers hardwood charcoal to mineral coal so when he builds his fire he throws a couple of handfulls of coke in first and then his lump charcoal in on top of that.
Then he only lites the charcoal and keeps feeding that part of the fire.
I think the idea is, because he stops to talk and explain alot, that the little bit of the coke that is alite will go out while the charcoal stays lit untill he can get back to work. This way the fire stays up higher in the fire pot and is a little easier to manage.
It would seem to me that the side walls and floor of the fire pot would stay a little cooler as well.
All of us that demo at this particular show tend to keep a smaller fire more for safety's sake. You never know when you may have to suddenly rake out and run to give aid to someone out side the building or what ever the reason so it's better to have a fire no bigger than you need in the first place.
Sorry, I tend to ramble...
We use ours "as is". A couple of years ago we did some welding in it and the bottom got dark red. Probably not good to do all the time.
We should probably re-clay it but, I don't know when that will happen.
Would you be better off useing a torch for what you want?
   - merl - Tuesday, 05/25/10 21:03:48 EDT

ptree, Sorry my friend but, I am even "broker" this year than I was last year ( didn't think it possible...)and the "big military contract" we had at the shop didn't get the extention we were hoping for so things are still very tenitive in my neck of the woods.
Keep my tab open though, one of these days we're going to get it done!
I suppose I should keep pressing you to show up at my club event in August?
I think we would have one grand good time with that and, you would have your choice of accommodations
   - merl - Tuesday, 05/25/10 21:19:22 EDT

Arthur - The press is a custom design that I was asking questions about a few months back. I came up with the basic design after looking at many home-brewed forging presses online and making a checklist of features I liked and didn't like. My cousin Ronnie Martin did the technical design aspects, and his son Travis built it. Between the three of us, we came up with a pretty darn good design, I think.

It is essentially an H-frame press with a C-frame press built on either end, allowing for three sets of tooling at once. The dies are a quick-change design, can be turned 90 degrees, and can fit in any of the six slots. Two of the cylinders come out to 42.4 tons, and the third is smaller but quicker. The controls are set up to be run either by hand or by foot.

Frank - Thanks for the data on H-13. Ready to get to low-level production punching, but I need to build a tool to strip the work piece off of the punch first!
   - Stormcrow - Wednesday, 05/26/10 01:15:48 EDT

Stormcrow, Are you using punch lube when punching on th press? It also reduces heat transfer to punch from both sides to the middle.

Many operations are set up with air cooling between parts. You can get special nozzles that "make" cool air that are a little more efficient at a cooling.

Hot work steel is important for press punching.

Why square shanks? Round stock is cheaper and easier to obtain as well as machine.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/26/10 06:44:11 EDT

Thanks, Frank and Arthur! I did know you were the same Arthur. (grin!) And yes, Tim's a good one.

Ptree, no, I don't get too far from home these days. If I still lived out in west-central KY I'd do it, but the commute from beautiful upper east TN is a long one. One of these days, though!

   Alan-L - Wednesday, 05/26/10 06:51:57 EDT

Hi i'm looking for a little info. I found an anvil i can make out Brooklyn on the side it's around 100 pounds give or take and is there any value. Thank you if you can help.
   Larry - Wednesday, 05/26/10 08:12:32 EDT

Merl, e-mail details of the event and I will consider:)

AlanL, Tipton is about 2 hours 30 minutes from Louisville.
How far are you from Louisville?
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/26/10 08:52:57 EDT

Guru, I've used what lubrication I've had on hand, recalling you saying that "any lube is better than no lube", but what I have hasn't been much better than none. :-) I'll be ordering some Puncheize before the week's out, though.

Square shank - Quick and easy way of lining up tooling, to me at least. The big job I wanted the press to do (lots of other stuff as well, of course) was allow me to consistently, quickly make tool heads with eyes. So the eye punch was what was forefront in my mind when I put the tool holder together.

It's relatively easy to forge a square shank with the press. As I get more into the process, I may fnd I need to change up how I do things.
   - Stormcrow - Wednesday, 05/26/10 09:22:02 EDT

Ptree, I'm about 6.5 hours from Louisville. I'm thinking a 9-hour drive is a bit much at the moment. When I was in Morgantown, KY, I would've done it since I could be in Louisville in two hours provided the cops didn't see me...

Larry, it's probably a Hay-Budden, and depending on condition, it's plenty valuable! One of the better anvils out there. 100 lbs is a little light for some, but as long as the face hasn't been monkeyed with it ought to be a good one for someone.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 05/26/10 10:31:19 EDT

I am working on a PH and want to build it with the re-arched leaf spring mechanism as with the CR Spare tire hammer. My question is this: when I heat and re-arc the leaf springs and if I let them air cool will they retain their spring or do I have to harden and temper them. Thanks ,
   Harley - Wednesday, 05/26/10 17:49:53 EDT

Does anyone know anything about Soderfors anvils? I just bought a 194lbs. Soderfors, 1929 anvil in great shape at a antique shop for $100. I have a 100lbs. Mousehole anvil and have been looking for a bigger anvil but they are so darn expensive.
   Rick - Wednesday, 05/26/10 17:50:02 EDT

Quenchcrack, if you're lurking around here would you meet me over at the hammer in? I have a question specifically for you that has nothing to do with blacksmithing.
   - merl - Wednesday, 05/26/10 18:04:15 EDT

Thanks merl, I made a fire in it today and the bottom cracked open. I will get it welded and try again. Do you think I should have put fire brick in the bottom<<

   Harold Gross - Wednesday, 05/26/10 21:15:08 EDT

$100 for a 194# Soderfors anvil is good deal no matter how you look at it. You're lucky.....very lucky!
I watched a 337-lb Soderfors jump from something like $700 to $1025 in a matter of 60-seconds.
   Danial - Wednesday, 05/26/10 21:27:53 EDT

I just came in possession of an Otto Bernz "Always Reliable" coil gasoline firepot . Manufactured in Rochester NY. Bernz Co. says it was probably built in the '40s sometime. Actually in pretty good shape. Can you supply me with info on how it was designed to work, as only about 25% of the original paper label is readable. I am not a smith, so can you also tell me what it was most probably used for.
   Raysville - Wednesday, 05/26/10 21:58:04 EDT

Harold Gross, It sounds like the crack was already there or very week in that spot.
My forge is a cast iron rail road style like yours with a crack that runs from near one of the legs to the opening for the fire pot.
I don't know how long ago but, my wifes grandfather put a couple of peices of 1/8 x 1/2" strap bolted across it to keep it together and kept on useing it. I use it just this way today. About a year after I got it the big ring that holds the fire pot in place fell apart fron age and rust and I replaced it with a SST ring and bolts. I'll see how long that lasts...
Some may say otherwise but it seems to me that when I had fire clay in the bottom of my fire pot, it would get just as hot or a little less than without it. The benefit was that the fire wouldn't eat away at the fire pot itself and the clay could be easily replaced.
I am currently useing a diffuser grate in my fire pot.
I usualy have no need for a large,deep fire and the grate helps me use less coal as well.
It's just a piece of 6" round by 1/4" thick with a rectangular grid of 1/4" holes drilled in it and dished to fit down into the pot.
Air blast comes in as normal from the bottom and is spread over a larger area in a very short distance alowing me a fire that is only about 5-6" deep. It is not a proper reducing fire and would be no good for welding but, it works well for most of what I do.
The other thing I have to remember is to clean out the fire and start over if I go for more than 4 hours or so as the grate does not allow me to get rid of ash and clinker through the bottom like normal.
I suppose the long answer to your question is "yes" but, you will have to figure out what will work better ridged brick or maybe fire brick chips or maybe a clay. Some others might chime in with their experience and some alternitive linings for you.
As for welding up the crack in your pan. I would be very carefull with that. Make sure it's someone you trust to do a good job and do it right or they will likely make it worse.
Good Luck!
   - merl - Thursday, 05/27/10 00:02:23 EDT

Fire pots. Strange that the discussion should have come up just now. As some of you know I shall very soon be moving schools and my shop largely will be going with me. I have got the Anyang, and base, on 3 pieces of 6 x 6 timber so that I can get it out easily once the truck arrives. Most of the rest of the stuff is now either lashed to pallets or in crates which are movable by the forklift. I also shall be leaving the main forge as it is a brick built unit with my own home made firepot. As the new school will be paying for the set up of the shop there I have decided to speculate on a commercially made firepot. I am trying to decide between a Blacksmiths Depot one from USA or a Vaughans one from UK. Strange to say the price is within $1 so that doesn't figure. It will be down to transport costs and service level. As a Briton I am sorry to say that BD are currently ahead by a country mile, but as an avid Anvilfire reader I am pleased that they are! Any thoughts on a comparison of the two??
   PHILIP IN CHINA - Thursday, 05/27/10 03:10:43 EDT

Philip In China
I ordered the one from Blacksmiths Depot and I not very fond of it,it does not have the steps on the sides of the pot,the one in the catalog and website shows a different image than what I was shipped. It is a good thick pot and I will have a buddy with a mill cut in the steps, I ordered
the Roger Lorrance pot from Phei Tool, very pleased with it
and it is used hard in a production shop.Go for the Lorrance pot.
   Greg S - Thursday, 05/27/10 06:26:21 EDT

Harley, We have been re-arcing springs for our power hammers cold under a hydraulic press.

If you heat the springs you will need to go through the entire heat treating process.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/27/10 07:04:20 EDT

Guru, I didn't know you were doing them cold.
How drasticly are you re-bending them?
Do you think I could safely make a set like the ones on the Novelty hammer from my video?
I'm also thinking of useing this methode on a carrige rebuilding project I would like to start as a demo for the annuale show at my antique power club.
   - merl - Thursday, 05/27/10 09:34:22 EDT

The image on the Blacksmith Depot website is correct, it was different in the catalog.
   Greg S - Thursday, 05/27/10 09:48:14 EDT

Guru, I have a 1900 Fisher 300lb. sawyer anvil, 5 1/2lb doghead saw hammer,8 1/2lb crossface saw hammer. Should these items sell as a group, or maybe just the anvil by itself. Thanks
   Richard Stewart - Thursday, 05/27/10 10:46:26 EDT

Greg S,

I can't email you. The link doesn't reveal your email address and I don't have outlook set up.

Can you email me by clicking on my name? I'm not familiar with this system.

I'd like to have a quick exchange about the materials and give you a link to a video of the chimes so maybe you can tell what kind of metal it is.

As for the hole, it only needs to be as big as needed to push a regular string through.

Try to email me otherwise I'll just give you my email on the forum but I'd prefer not due to spammers.

   Amy - Thursday, 05/27/10 10:52:47 EDT

Yah when the guy told $100 for the anvil I immediately said I'll take it even though I knew nothing about Soderfors anvils at the time. I have a 92# Mouse Hole and have been looking for a bigger anvil at a good price for a while. So I had some idea what 200lbs. or so anvils were going for. I've since found out that Soderfors is a Swedish company that makes quality anvils, so I'm very happy with the purchase.
   Rick - Thursday, 05/27/10 16:10:13 EDT


As far as I can tell, the major product in Soderfors these days is mosquitoes. Actually, I'm exaggerating. I was got a nice tour of the Damasteel facility last summer, and there's a modern steel plant that I couldn't get into. But I'm pretty sure anvil production is a thing of the past.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 05/27/10 17:04:27 EDT

I used Francis Whitaker's Soderfors anvil at the 2007 Rocky Mountain Smiths' Conference. If I recall, it was a little lighter in weight than Rick's. I was told that he used that anvil for just about everything that he forged. That says something good for Soderfors. See his anvil on page 5 of "A Blacksmith's Craft" by George F. Dixon.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 05/27/10 19:00:58 EDT

Well I guess I should say made good anvils. LOL The one I got was made in 1926.
   Rick - Thursday, 05/27/10 19:34:36 EDT

Thanks merl for your input :-)

Harold Gross
   Harold Gross - Thursday, 05/27/10 20:35:50 EDT

Was taking a closer look at an anvil I just bought and noticed what looks like a crack near the edge. It's about a 1/4 inch from the edge and runs about 4 inches. Can anyone tell me if it will effect the usefullness of the anvil?
   Rick - Friday, 05/28/10 08:35:49 EDT

I should have mentioned the crack runs along the edge.
   Rick - Friday, 05/28/10 08:54:44 EDT

Take a brick and place it under your anvil.
( can be done by rocking the anvil back onto the horn or the heel, then place the brick under the base. Then CAREFULLY rock the anvil back down, helping it center on top of the brick. ) This will take away any deadening effects of concrete. Now hit the anvil with a hammer.
You don't have to wale on it, just give it a good "tap".
What you're "looking" for is a good ring that will carry a tone. Being a Soderfors.....you "know" its not a junky anvil already....but a cracked anvil won't ring.
This is what you are checking for.
Is it Ringing or is it "klinking" with no resounding ring after hitting it.
"IF" your Soderfors isn't ringing........It's cracked.
   Danial - Friday, 05/28/10 10:15:32 EDT

Forge bottoms: I have been using a forge design Mitch Fitzgibbon published many years ago in the anvil's ring, set up to be able to change the fire shape easily. I use pounded wood ashes to form the fire pot.
I moisten the ashes enough that they stick together when squeezed in the hand, a little like foundry sand, and then pound it into place with a wooden paddle. Quite durable, stable, easy to alter, and very insulative. And cheap.
   Lee Sauder - Friday, 05/28/10 12:04:14 EDT


When I put the anvil on the brick and hit it, it rang like a bell. Even when I tap it when it's on the concrete it has a ring to it.
   Rick - Friday, 05/28/10 13:44:52 EDT

Tell you what....to make you feel better & for your peace-of-mind.....I'll give you your $100 back for this defective-anvil.
But don't worry....DON'T WORRY!!! I'm a nurse.
I'm sure that I can bring it back to life & good health.
   Danial - Friday, 05/28/10 15:22:26 EDT

What brand is the other anvil Whitaker had? It looks like an Arm & Hammer or a Trenton in the picture.

No doubt a very talented man with a legacy. He sure was tough to be around and that greatly took away from the attraction of his skills.
   - Justatinker - Friday, 05/28/10 16:10:01 EDT

Trying to do a little research on a Kohlswa anvil. I looked at thier website and what I have does not match any they show listed. It looks like I have a D/5 stamped on the foot. It is more of the shape of their A's but what I have also is the ferrier I guess-having the round short rods coming out the back. Weights about 95 pounds. Only has Kohlswa Sweden on it and no logo inbetween the words. Any info or price range appreciated. No nicks or bad spots-all looks great with nice sharp edges not rounded over.
   - derek thomas - Friday, 05/28/10 16:47:39 EDT

Hawley talks about the wet wood ashes in his book, "The Blacksmith and his Art." Hawley encountered the sideblast forge on a trip to Spain and when he returned to Arizona, he built one using a bed of wet wood ashes. A diagram of his forge is in the book.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 05/28/10 17:32:14 EDT

Whitaaker moved his shop from Aspen to the Rocky Mountain Prep School campus in Carbondale a number of years ago. He and the school drew up a special contract to keep the shop as a school there "in perpetuity." I think they have about 6 forge stations with 6 anvils.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 05/28/10 17:53:09 EDT

LOL! Think I will keep the Patient.
I cleaned and oiled the anvil and looked at what appears to be the crack. I think it's just a 1/4 inch of the edge starting to crack off. The rest of the top and edges are in real good shape. It's straight, flat and only has minor nicks. Is it worth trying to fix the cracking edge? My thoughts are I will just work around it and if by chance it cracks off I'll worry about it then.
   Rick - Friday, 05/28/10 18:30:05 EDT

A pleasant surprise- After many years of not getting around to it, I finally ordered a used copy of "Blacksmiths' and Farriers' Tools at the Shelburne Museum" from some random Amazon seller. Printed on the inside of the back cover it states "From the library of Bill Gichner" Nice to have even a tenuous connection to good old Bill. However, he's probably rolling over in his grave at the low price I paid for it...;)
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 05/28/10 18:30:59 EDT

I just picked up my first anvil it reads (first line) peter (second line) wright (in a circle)solid wrought and 1 1 22. and under the horn there is a stamp of an anchor? any one know what the anchor would be for?
   Bob Cameron - Friday, 05/28/10 19:56:23 EDT

"Pounded wood ashes"
Lee Sauder, I like that idea! I'm going to try that one.
How long does that last? Do you have to re-line befor every fire,or just re-wet the ashes, or what?
   - merl - Friday, 05/28/10 23:37:53 EDT

Hey thanks Frank,
A quick Google for that book (The Blacksmith and His Art) led me to some very nice smithing sites.
   - merl - Saturday, 05/29/10 00:21:07 EDT


Since no one else has answered, here's my two cents. Swedish anvils have a reputation for being hard, and for chipping at the edges. So it is quite possible that the crack is indeed the beginning of a chipped edge. You might want to tap on it and see if it will chip off the rest of the way, so it doesn't happen unexpectedly later -- especially if you do demos. Otherwise, I'd just radius over the sharp edge once it chips off.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 05/29/10 06:08:37 EDT

Thx for the info Mike. Think I'll give that a try.
   Rick - Saturday, 05/29/10 08:54:14 EDT

Wood Ashes:
I'm sure it varies hugely with what you do and how you run a fire. But i guess I find myself redoing it about once a week. I just scratch down to raw ashes, wet the surface, and put new ashes on to bring me to where I want it to be. Takes 15 minutes max. You'll be amazed what a solid and resilient surface this makes. No need to rewet if you're not reshaping.
   Lee Sauder - Saturday, 05/29/10 09:43:25 EDT

Wood ashes:
Again, a great idea Lee, Frank.
Now I need a sorce of ashes. I suppose that would be a good excuse to start making my own charcoal too.
   - merl - Saturday, 05/29/10 19:22:38 EDT

Rick, I agree with Mike, My Swedish anvil has the "far" edge chipped away, I just smoothed it out somewhat with a flap disk on a 4 1/2" angle grinder. If working alone, I would want that cracked edge away from Myself until the chunks fly off, as they will probably fly fast. I doubt I would use it in a demo before the cracked edge is dealt with.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 05/29/10 22:26:15 EDT

Hello? Is this thing on???
   - visitor - Monday, 05/31/10 18:16:25 EDT

Just seems to be a slow weekend, visitor.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 05/31/10 18:38:33 EDT

Visitor, this is not a real time chat line. You have to wait and check back periodicly to see if you get an answer to your question.
Usualy there is some one around most any time of the day and in to the night to help out so, "fire away" (no pun intended"

QC, I'm still on the oil spill rant over at the hammer in.
I think maybe my "BOP" is stuck can you help me get it shut off?...(grin)
   - merl - Monday, 05/31/10 21:17:49 EDT

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