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 June 8 - 15, 2010 on the Guru's Den
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Vise Parts: Warren, Replacement vise screws and boxes are only occasionally made by a machinist repairing their own vise.

The problem is that the typical price for a used vise such as you have is about $75 to $120. A new screw assembly would cost more than a replacement vise.

The other problem is sizes. Leg vises were sold by the pound in 5 and 10 pound increments (30, 35, 40. . .). Common parts only span two, possibly three sizes AND varied according to manufacturer. A manufacturer would need a half dozen sizes to cover the smaller vises and a dozen to cover the full range. So there is no money in it.
   - guru - Monday, 06/07/10 22:34:47 EDT

More about Vise Parts: Besides the size issues many of the old vises were made with hand cut threads and spiral brazed threads in the boxes (imagine a coil spring brazed in a tube). These were made as matched pairs and would not necessarily fit any other.

These old pieced together boxes started as a hand rolled and forge welded tube. The threads were made by coiling a small piece of square bar to fit the screw, then spelter brazing the coil into the tube. The flange, rear hub and key were also individual pieces brazed on. The flange usually had a notch for the key to help keep it from breaking off.

Thus the Peter Wright one piece "Solid Box" was a big improvement which many other manufactures quickly followed.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/08/10 06:25:08 EDT

Ancient History. When I began bending iron in the 1960's, there was only one mail order horseshoe and blacksmith supplier that I knew of, Kennedy-Foster out of New Jersey. In their catalog, they listed a "box and screw assembly" as a replacement item for your ole leg vise.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 06/08/10 07:25:56 EDT

Tired of cheap hardware store bandsaw blades snapping on me. Anyone have a good source for QUALITY bandsaw blades?
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 06/08/10 07:26:52 EDT


Tool Center?


They make custom length blades as well as stock standard sizes.
   - Rustyanchor - Tuesday, 06/08/10 07:32:48 EDT

Nip, Hagemeyer NA. Aske for Lennox brand Diemaster II.
502-961-5930 ask for Mike.
Good price, and that is the best general purpose small bandsaw blade on the market. I use the 10 to 14 tooth variable.
   ptree - Tuesday, 06/08/10 08:55:49 EDT

Like Jeff said, get the Lenox Diemaster blades - nothing else. I found great service and quality at http://www.woodcraftbands.com/

You need to call in your order for best service and he's not open on Fridays. Very fastidious welds on the blades, the mark of a quality operation.
   - Buford Heliotrope - Tuesday, 06/08/10 09:12:33 EDT

Nip, Lenox are the best (see above). However, the high tech blades require a high tech blade welding machine. Blades that break at the weld are an indication of a poor weld and can be the result of a machine that is out of calibration or operator error.

When I went from cheap blades to Lenox the dealer claimed the welder for the blades cost them $20,000 (in 1980) and the operator had to go to school for a week to be certified by Lenox to operate it.

True or not, the Lenox blades I bought for my 4x6 saw would last until the the HSS steel teeth were almost gone and none every broke. Previously cheap blades from another supplier would often still be like new and snap at the welds. . .

I was paying $5 each for cheap carbon steel blades that had VERY short lives. At the time the Lenox cost me $18 each BUT lasted more than 10x longer than the plain carbon steel blades.

Note that if you are free hand sawing metal on a 4x6 cutoff saw the blade life is always going to be much shorter than straight cutting. While these little saws WILL cut curves they are not properly designed for doing so.

For my large (20") woodworking saw I've bought the cheaper blades and never had any trouble. Even though the welds are probably the low quality I was originally buying the larger diameter rubber tired wheels and lack of twist in the blade is much easier on the blade. So these were OK. But I would never use them again on any size twisted blade cut off saw as they are not cost effective.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/08/10 12:08:16 EDT

I bought a batch of the Lennox last year at $19.96 each for my 4 x 6
   ptree - Tuesday, 06/08/10 12:32:07 EDT

I just recently (April 5th) bought 64-1/2" Lenox Diemaster 2 band saw blades in the 14/18 Vari-Pitch for my 5x6 cut-off saw and paid $16.50 each. The 93-1/2" blades for the vertical saw were $22.00 each. I buy more than 5 at a pop so there's a *small* price break. Never have broken one of his welds and he ALWAYS matches the teeth so carefully at the weld that there's never a gap. A missing tooth at the weld will strip subsequent teeth very quickly or even break a weld, but many places don't take the extra ten seconds to dress the ends that perfectly.
   - Buford Heliotrope - Tuesday, 06/08/10 12:44:45 EDT

My costs may have included shipping at the time. . . . Been a LONG time ago and its hard to remember. The Dimaster blades were pretty new at the time and prices may have gone down.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/08/10 13:37:05 EDT

I use the 10 to 14, the 14/18 and for really thin stock like 16 ga tube I buy the Lennox portaband in the 28 tooth. All work a treat.
   ptree - Tuesday, 06/08/10 13:51:15 EDT

Thanks for all the advice. I love this place!

I use a 4x6 as a chop saw, never tried anything other than a straight cut. It's a Chinese Grizzly knock-off I got at Re-Tool a while ago. The last blade I got popped at the weld during the first cut. Big box stores suck.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 06/08/10 13:55:46 EDT

AI, There is not really a place to join. It's like eating a big family table, you just kind of jump right in. Welcome to Anvil Fire.
   - daveb - Tuesday, 06/08/10 15:27:47 EDT

Bandsaw Blades: I ran a heat treat facility that had three big band saws and we found Lenox blades to be the best IF you broke them in properly. Light pressure for the first dozen cuts will give you much better blade life.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 06/08/10 18:19:41 EDT

I use Lennox as well, in both the big saw and hand held. I run a coarser blade in the portaband than ptree thou, if I want an accurate cut I go to the stationary saw.

Nip- if good blades don't make a difference, look to your blade guides or tension. You could also quit cutting stainless ;).

QC- Good advice, thanks!
   Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 06/08/10 19:55:32 EDT

Quenchcrack has it. Those M-42 toothed flexible back do have a break in and the fine folks at Lennox send a "How to" with the blades I get. On my little 4x6 H/V bandsaws, I hand feed slow on the first cuts and also use a lighter tension. Takes a couple of minutes, but does payoff.
I also try to always change to the right pitch for every job. Try to cut thin stock with a course pitch and you ruin the blade. Hence the three blade pitchs I use.
   ptree - Tuesday, 06/08/10 19:55:55 EDT

Judson, I use the Lennox porta band stock, in the 28 tooth wavy style in my 4x6 for thin stock. My porta bands are usually courser. I should be more clear. I just finished 2 hours in the shop this evening cutting 16 gage square tube. Used those 28 tooth wavys and it cut like a laser, and did not strip a single tooth.
   ptree - Tuesday, 06/08/10 19:58:41 EDT

Band Saw blades: I very rarely cut thin material in my 4x6 saw but having the right blade makes a big difference. I generally use the coarsest blades available for the saw (10-14 variable pitch) and can run it at top speed on stainless and annealed tool steel. Cutting these materials the blades only last about half as long as on mild steel. I might get a longer blade life at slower speed but you have to consider the value of your time as well.

Cheap blades may not survive cutting one piece of 2" diameter stainless and I've cut dozens with the high quality blades.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/09/10 08:16:47 EDT

The smith I share shop space with wants to build a helve hammer. Ive never used one, or a power hammer of any kind. Is anyone here have experience with one or are you using one now? Pros cons?

Im not really much of a blacksmith but a darn fine blade smith. I have been doing pattern weld Damascus by hand for about 18 years now and as much as I love it I have to come to the conclusion I cant expect to be able to swing a hammer forever.
   Kevin - Wednesday, 06/09/10 10:40:59 EDT

Hmm I picked up a horse shoe out of the rocks up here; Have to get Frank to look it over and tell me about it---the iron it calls to me!

Thomas going downhill next Monday
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/09/10 11:36:57 EDT

Kevin, tyr clicking on "ptree"'s underlined name and he may be willing to send you all you need to know about helv hammers.
Also, if you pull down the "Navigate" tab and click on the power hammer page you will find a large selection of types and designs that have been home built.
Most of us here agree that some kind of power hammer is the only way we'll be able to continue at the craft...
Keep in mind that the old time blacksmiths were'nt really tougher than we are today as much as they just wore out and died much sooner than we do. I think this is why we seem to think that most of them were strong and vital at an older age than we are.
Of course, opinions may vary...
   - merl - Wednesday, 06/09/10 11:58:31 EDT

Yes Thomas, only you would find a horse shoe on "Mars"....
   - merl - Wednesday, 06/09/10 12:00:34 EDT

No this is at the low site, 9000'; it is even possible to find vegetation if you check carefully for it---feral burros are around these parts too. Mars is up at 16568' where I haven't even seen lichen! (though if it was a tad wetter I'd probably see it up there too...)

I just picked up a couple of pieces of construction debris up at the high site---my suitcase load is getting odder by the day...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/09/10 15:24:59 EDT

Helve Hammer: Technically, a helve hammer is the old fashioned "tilt" hammer, a long arm and a ,mechanism to raise and drop it.

These are limited by the short fall and gravity. Later versions were operated by a spring and crank but the hammer was still attached to the end of the wooden (or sometimes steel) "helve".

Ptree's hammer is a "spring helve" where a guided ram is moved by a long leaf spring connected to a crank and link.

   - guru - Wednesday, 06/09/10 18:46:07 EDT

Just another idea....how about placing an old jack hammer in a frame...have top and bottom dies...run the hot metal through like a singer sewing machine...fast,hard blows...maybe good for welding damascus etc.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 06/10/10 00:54:50 EDT

Mike, Been done. A fellow in Alaska did it and called the hammer "old rattler". Works, but is very noisy and has little control.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/10/10 06:26:33 EDT

What does the 4x6 and 5x6 designation mean in reference to bandsaws mean?Also I wonder what blade speed different people are using.Cheers.
   wayne - Thursday, 06/10/10 06:43:41 EDT

Square tube steel.
Can any one give me any tips on twisting 3/4 X3/4 X 11 gauge tube?
Im only getting a OK job using heat and the twisting lathe.
Is this something that needs to be done by hand?

Im starting to think solid steel would be less work.

   - Dan - Thursday, 06/10/10 06:45:06 EDT

Have you tried packing the tube with dry sand? I've had some success with that method. You really need to ram it in tight and be sure it's DRY sand. Moist sand can cause some issues. Pack it, ram it, weld caps on, then you can treat it as solid bar.

Now for something completely different. A buddy of mine had his leg amputated a few years ago from a bad motorcycle accident. Last month he was complaining of pain at the stump. Apparently some of his internal hardware became fatigued and had to be removed. He is planning on letting me work his fixators into jewelry for him to wear. Now I don't think Junkyard Rules apply on titanium and cobalt implants. Any tips?
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 06/10/10 07:49:33 EDT


Yeah - wash your hands afterward, okay? :-)

   - Buford Heliotrope - Thursday, 06/10/10 07:56:56 EDT

Jackhammer: there used to be a website out there that had two different people doing that in slightly different ways.

As I remember one issue is that they don't have much throw---a powerhammer the dies may be a foot apart and the system works such that you can "follow a piece" down in thickness quite a lot. The Jackhammer has a limited throw and can't exceed that so you would have to build in a method of changing the spacing during operation.

Also the jackhammer is designed to have some give in it's support structure and so you can't mount it rigidly in a frame you need something like springs to take the place of the beer belly traditionally used as a backer for the beast

So yes it has been done but takes a lot of work and even then doesn't work as well as a more traditional air hammer.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 06/10/10 11:18:35 EDT

what alloy Ti?

   Thomas P - Thursday, 06/10/10 11:19:26 EDT

One advantage of getting the new woodshop delivered this month is that it will finally free up space to accommodate and finish the "Renaissance Power Hammer" in the new forge. Things have been on hold the last few years while estates, construction, and moves were sorted out, but all of the existing parts were stowed in the barn and I think I can get it all together this autumn and winter.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 06/10/10 11:47:41 EDT

I want to start by saying thankyou for all the good advice I have recieved from this site. My question is about a rollbender I am building. It is an orbit motor driven machine with two bottom rollers and one top roller all driven by number 50 chain. The bottom rollers are 14 inches apart. I am having a hard time bending 1-1/2" .100 wall square tubing with this machine. Would it help to place the bottom rollers further apart?
   Dan - Thursday, 06/10/10 12:37:58 EDT

What diameter are your rollers Dan?

And what is the problem, slippage? stalling?
   JimG - Thursday, 06/10/10 13:28:49 EDT

What type oil should be used in a hand crank blower?
   - gary - Thursday, 06/10/10 13:29:31 EDT

Gary, Automatic Transmission Fluid is a good, works in any climate oil for hand crank blowers. Buy the cheapest, since most blowers leak badly, by design.
   ptree - Thursday, 06/10/10 13:54:50 EDT

To answer your question about the roll bender Jim. The rollers are 2.4" in Diam. They don't slip. The orbit motor just stalls. So I have a torque problem. A better gear ratio would take a lot more redesigning since I don't have enough room in the frame for bigger sprockets. It would be less work for me to move the rollers farther apart. Would the same torque bend the same steel more easily with rollers further apart?
   Dan - Thursday, 06/10/10 14:26:33 EDT

Dan: What exactly do you mean by "orbit motor"?
   - grant - Thursday, 06/10/10 15:22:35 EDT

Jim: The orbit motor is the hydralicaly driven gear motor that I power from my hydralic pump on my hydralic press. Mabey it's my Canadian slang but that's what we call them up here.
   Dan - Thursday, 06/10/10 16:09:51 EDT


If you have insufficient torque, you have to address that by multiplying it, not by changing spacing. If you take less distortion of the tubing at a pass you can get by with a bit less power, but in the end, it takes a given amount of power to deflect a given size of steel past the yield point. They're the Laws of Physics; not the Suggestions of physics.

I'd suggest trying to find a gear reducer motor for your bender. That way you could end up with the same sprocket for your final drive but have gear reduction (and corresponding force multiplication) before that sprocket. Look at Surplus Center to see what's available. Not cheap, but it will do the job. They're also available in right angle drive to solve space/mounting problems.

Note: the radius bend that you can accomplish is a factor of the roll spacing - if they get too far apart you can't deflect the tubing enough to get it to yield sufficiently.
   - Buford Heliotrope - Thursday, 06/10/10 16:26:01 EDT

2.4 dia, seems a bit small, anyway you could make them larger?
the larger a wheel is the easier it rolls. I don't know what HP he used, but I knew a guy with a homemade roller for recurving cultivator shanks and it had 6inch rollers.
   JimG - Thursday, 06/10/10 16:34:37 EDT


If you're already using a gear motor, then you should have plenty of power unless you have a hydraulic relief valve set incorrectly or something like that. Pressure reading okay at the motor?

Are all your rollers driven, or do you have one or more that are free-spooling? If all are driven that can increase the force required since the outside of the curve must stretch and contact with coupled driven rollers on both sides simultaneously will work against itself to some degree.

You should be able to roll 1-1/2" square .100" wall tubing to a minimum radius of about a foot using no more than a one horsepower electric motor with the proper gearing and drive system. How big is the motor on your hydraulic pump? You would need about 1-1/2 to 2hp to yield 1 hp at the motor, I'd think, with the losses and inefficiency.

When all else fails, try taking two of the rolls out of the chain loop so they are just idlers and see if that helps, If that isn't enough, heat the tubing to about a low red, just above black heat - that should reduce the force needed by about half.
   - Buford Heliotrope - Thursday, 06/10/10 16:36:02 EDT


I once a demonstrator (Charlie Orlando if I remember correctly) hot twist square tube by sliding a piece of solid round inside as a mandrel. A piece of 1/2 round ought to fit in your tubing.


Just to be picky, it takes a given amount of *work* to deflect steel past a certain point. The more power you have, the less time it takes to do that work. If you could eliminate friction (a big if, I admit), an ant in a wheel could power Dan's rolls. It would just take a *long* time to do it (and some ridiculous reduction gearing).
   Mike BR - Thursday, 06/10/10 17:11:24 EDT

Bending Tubing: Dan, A larger radius WOULD be slightly easier but if you are making a bend then I assume it must be some specific radius when you are done.

The necessary torque is difficult to calculate but I can tell you approximately how much torque my old Champion bender generated. First it has 3.5:1 reduction gearing, this is powered by a hand crank with an 12" long handle. The amount of push on the handle varies from an estimated 2 to 5 pounds (more could be applied but be very tiring).

12 x 2 = 24, x 3.5 = 84 inch pounds of torque.
12 x 5 = 60, x 3.5 = 210 inch pounds of torque.

Tubing will require the high end or greater. It will also probably require two of the rollers to be driven as they are in the Champion and other benders.

To determine the necessary HP and reduction combination lets start with.

1 HP @ 1800 RPM = 32 inch pounds torque.

To obtain the 210 IP, multiply by 1.11 for 90% efficient gearing ( 210 * 1.11 = 233, and divide by 32, equals 7.3 (reduction)

So you need about 7.3:1 reduction at 1 HP.

At 7.3:1 the rollers will turn 226 RPM. At 2.4" diameter they have a 7.54 circumference. This means the work will move at 142 feet per minute or about 2.4 feet per second. That is fast enough to be a little scary. Half that would be reasonable.

At half that speed you need 15:1 total reduction and 1/2HP which is also more reasonable. This produces the same approximate torque as my Champion bender.

Champion Bender

What would the champion bender bend?

3" x 3/4" flat to 36" circles (per Champion specs).
3/4" square to 18" circles (9" radius - my test)

1" schedule 40 pipe (1.315 OD) to a 7 foot circle
1.25" x 1/2" channel flanges in to a 7 foot circle.

Note that the tubing and structurals were at the limit of the bender and we broke the cast iron tire on one roller bending the channel and had to replace it with steel. This old bender had 3" CI tires cast around a 1" diameter shaft.

The structurals took a minimum of 3 men and usually 4 to guide the tubing, crank and steady the bender. Guiding the tubing was tough and we eventually machined a large half round groove in one roller and put set collars as side guides on another. It still took a "crew" but was easier to control. We also found that while bending in stages seemed a little easier the material work hardened and it was best to use as few passes as possible.

I suspect to bend your square tubing is going to require a heavier bender (about twice as powerful) but the final radius determines the necessary torque. Calculating it is not easy that is why I give the example above. These are real world cases. We did the tubing and channel numerous times with the above bender.

The more reduction you use the less HP is necessary up to a point. As the torque increase the roller diameter also needs to increase. Since it appears you do not have a specific HP or torque on the hydraulic motor it would be tough to make specific suggestions.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/10/10 17:40:21 EDT

Does anyone know where I can get plans for a milliamp DC electolytic rust removal system? I am thinking in terms of a small DC charger for a phone or something similar. I have some delicate parts to restore.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 06/10/10 18:21:05 EDT

Dan, Any hydraulic motor will use a LOT of oil to hit rpm. If the motor start/stops and sort of stutters, you have a lack of flow. If there are flow controls in the line to the motor and they are also used on the press cylinder, they should be metering in and they will starve the motor in some cases. Last if the pressure is insufficient for the demanded torque the motor will stall. Also if the motor is badly worn, and leaking internally no torque. One way to easily check for motor internal leakage is to stall the motor first thing in the morning when the oil is cold. Lay a bare hand on the return line and feel for heat. If hydraulic oil goes from high pressure to no pressure without doing work the energy becomes heat.
   ptree - Thursday, 06/10/10 20:06:29 EDT

Thank you for all the advice for my roll bender problems. I finally have it working the way I want after increasing the gear ratio and spreading the bottom rollers from 14.5 inches to 20.5 inches.
   Dan - Thursday, 06/10/10 20:12:22 EDT

Dan, We would love to see a photo of your rolls. You can email it to me and I'll post it.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/10/10 20:40:09 EDT

Dear Guru,
I was reading your article about forging a sword lol. Never got to the sword part... Will start by forging a snake or kitchen knife ;). This weekend i am working on building my first brake drum forge. Anywho i noticed you metion kryptonite as a fictional material. And it was thought to be. It was written about for this very purpose since krypton is a nobel gas and under normal circumstances does not bind to anything. However a couple years ago a white powder was found in a mine shaft (in india i believe). Chemical analysis was done and the chemist searched the chemical formula on google. Wouldnt ya know it... It was the fictional kryptonite. The chemical is inert, doesnt glow, is white, powder, and has no use that has been found... But it is kryptonite :) wish me luck on the forge :)
   Jammin246 - Friday, 06/11/10 07:30:14 EDT

But does it stop Superman!

A couple of the so called "inert" gases have been found to have bonded with other elements. So far they are useless anomalies. But you never know.

Starting small in blade making is the best way to go. Learning to forge high carbon steels, heat treating, finishing and fitting parts. Many folks will tell you that good kitchen knives are more difficult technically than making a sword. If you can master the small blade then the larger blade is just a matter of scaling up and more work.

Pocket knives and folders are also highly technical and their methods apply to non-traditional weapons such as fantasy types with fold out spike guards or hidden "extras".
   - guru - Friday, 06/11/10 08:35:34 EDT

Have no idea what alloy this Ti stuff is. I forged a small piece today. Worked nicely actually. HT is a mystery for me though.... after forging I let normalize and tested the piece. Brittle. Although I must say that the temper colors that appear on Ti are simply brilliant!
   - Nippulini - Friday, 06/11/10 08:39:25 EDT

Hey thanks for the advice.... I think i found my new favorite forum lol.

   Jammin246 - Friday, 06/11/10 09:18:06 EDT

Nipp, Ti is bad about absorbing oxygen when heated and is often worked using vacuum furnaces. In small scale or specialty operations it can be coated with ITC-213 to prevent gas absorption. If I haven't sent you some let let me know.

Yep, the Ti temper colors are fantastic and very permanent as far as I can tell. I have a piece of Star Trek jewelery (insignia) that is Ti with a gold to blue rainbow of colors.

ITC-213 is used by a number of large steel forge and rolling mill operations to reduce furnace scaling. In one plant the scale reduction was some 25 tons a year! Just the cost savings in scale disposal was cost effective. The cleaner product and saved material were benefits as well.

While it is probably not cost effective for most hand forged work it would probably improve results for bladesmiths and others doing more technical work.
   - guru - Friday, 06/11/10 10:09:02 EDT

Guru, The Ti I tried to hot work was an alloy that picked up nitrogen from the atmosphere at temp and crumbled. Cold it worked about like Rc 32 steel:(
   ptree - Friday, 06/11/10 11:23:50 EDT

Rats. . yep its Nitrogen that Ti picks up. The ITC-213 is still the stuff for the job.
   - guru - Friday, 06/11/10 12:47:02 EDT

Hmm may need to pick up some ITC-213; as soon as my triphammer comes on line I need to forge a Ti door stop for my boss's boss he's a Ti-a_phile and got upset when I told him that Ti makes *BAD* laptop cases compared to Al due to heat dissapation issues. So I figure I will make him a Ti door stop to turn him up sweet...

   Thomas P - Friday, 06/11/10 13:14:39 EDT

I had a fancy Ti Laptop. . An "Armada". Yeah, the case was near indestructible but one of the plastic hinges broke and the monitor had anchoring problems to the case that caused loose connections. I had to occasionally massage the edge of the screen to make it work. . . It had never been dropped and was always carried in an expensive padded bag (2" of foam) that I always handled (no baggage handlers).

Folks that build these things for durability could learn a LOT from the pocket and wrist watch industry.
   - guru - Friday, 06/11/10 13:39:17 EDT

Would ITC-100 work? That's all I have on hand. I think all the hype about Ti is about the first three letters of the word.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 06/11/10 13:48:09 EDT

Nip, no it will not stick properly to the metal. The 213 is a red color (like primer) and sticks to metals. It thins much thinner than 100 and parts can be dipped or just wiped on. Mail coming your way.
   - guru - Friday, 06/11/10 14:00:48 EDT

I read an article awhile back about making stainless steel damascus. It was discovered that the welding could only take place in an oxygen free invironment. Would ITC 213 or ITC 296A accomplish this ?
   Mike T. - Friday, 06/11/10 16:24:05 EDT

Mike, the coating would prevent the weld.

The way to do high tech Damascus steel is to wrap the billet in stainless foil. The first folks doing this used stainless tubing, welded on end caps, drilled a small vent and put in a drop of kerosene. The kerosene would absorb any oxygen by burning, the excess blowing out the vent hole. Then when at welding temperature the entire billet and tube were forge welded. Due to the tubing having an oxide coating inside it generally did not stick to the billet and was pealed off after the welding.

Stainless foil is used in a similar fashion. However, it fits the billet closer and the kerosene may not need to be used. The foil also has some oxidation on the surface and does not stick. Most of it is torn off during the welding and the last pealed off.

After the billet is welded and the first heat completed a coating could be used during the drawing out steps in order to reduce decarburization. After cutting to make a new stack the surfaces need to be ground and cleaned perfectly for the next weld. This can be done without the foil in regular carbon steel but would need to be used for stainless again.

There are very high scale losses in making laminated steels and using foil or a coating like ITC-213 can save very valuable metal. Reducing decarburization will also reduce the amount of loss from the necessary grinding down to good metal.

ITC-296A is a high purity version of ITC-100 and is used to line kilns that need to be very clean and crucibles to reduce foam and slag sticking which shorten the life of the crucible and reduce efficiency. It is used a lot in precious metals industry (gold and platinum) where microscopic losses are still big bucks.

ITC-213 and 296A are used together to coat metal troughs used in foundry work to increase their life as a "non-stick" surface. 100 and 296A are used on reusable refractory parts in the same service.
   - guru - Friday, 06/11/10 16:44:30 EDT

Offline. . .

We were ofline for about 10-15 minutes this evening due to a server failure and replacement. All is well now.
   - guru - Friday, 06/11/10 21:02:20 EDT

I was looking at an American Wrought Anvil on ebay #120580962179 offered by Steve Prillwitz of matchlessantiques and hammered2bits. It refers this anvil to being made by Hay Budden for Montgomery Ward referenced from AIA by Richard Postman. I asked him these questions, but have not yet received a response. I was wondering Mr. Postman's thoughts concerning the maker of this anvil since he wrote his book? Maybe he has new information? Steve is around the corner from Postman, so I hope he can ask him to clear up the confusion about this make anvil. The geometry of the anvil appears to be different than any of the three style Hay-Budden anvils? It has a fourth handling hole in the front foot as Hay Budden anvils did not? Why would they reinvent the wheel or spend the money for just a Mongomery Ward Anvil? I wonder if this may be a case like an employee from the maker of Trenton anvil going a couple blocks away and starting a facility and producing Arm & Hammer Anvils? We know American Wrought were made in Brooklyn like Hay Budden, but I wonder if they were seperate locations and makers? Any thought from you gents? I hope Postman has new info and Steve is able to obtain it.
   - Happy Jack - Saturday, 06/12/10 12:16:05 EDT

It "does" have the rectangle handling-hole, but not so sure that it's from H.B. though.
So it's not just Peter-Wright anvils that has them......
Gotta add that INFO into the anvil hunt note-book.

It's painful to look at anvils on e-Bay!
   Danial - Saturday, 06/12/10 13:49:13 EDT

Hay Budden: Happy Jack, Hay Budden made a full line of anvil types including European export models with a double horn. The also made custom anvils to spec for individuals (special weights, proportions, features). I would not be surprised that they made a special style for a reseller.

My 200 pound Hay-Budden came with two pritchel holes, two 3/4" bolting holes in the feet under horn and heel, the shelf cut off one side of the horn and an extra thick base. In general it is an ugly anvil as Hay-Buddens go and the best I can tell these were factory mods.

Hay Budden Anvil

Steve Prillwitz is probably the most honest dealer of anvils you will find. However, he works hard to get the most money he can from what he sells. His prices are not cheap but you will not find a more reputable dealer on ebay or anywhere else.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/12/10 16:16:01 EDT

I meant no disrespect to Mr. Prillwitz.
They are some of the best-looking anvils one could see that are for sale.
It's like being a kid, looking at candy even "after" your folks said. "NO....you're not getting any."
It IS a habbit now.......to watch the last 5-minutes of the bidding on some anvils at time.
Getting a Shipping-Rate to my location lets me know that I'm "JUST-LOOKING" only.

I'm still stuck in Anvil-Hunt MODE where-ever we go, it doesn't STOP.
One could follow Anvilfires "HOW TO FIND AN ANVIL" with a helping of "just be respectful to everyone you ask" and in time anvils will come find YOU. It's true.
   Danial - Saturday, 06/12/10 17:56:34 EDT

Indeed Mr. Prillwitz is a good fella. Just always wondered about the American Wrought anvils since I read the #5 Fox fire book and Mr. Zollenger's mentioned his anvil was an American Wrought. Thanks for your opinion concerning this brand as well Guru.
   - Happy Jack - Saturday, 06/12/10 20:52:22 EDT

Happy Jack, I used to have 3-4 Foxfire books, these are wonderful books, where can I purchase the whole set ?
   Mike T. - Saturday, 06/12/10 23:24:40 EDT

Hey Nip, somewhere on youtube I saw a video from a guy that made a forged Ti knife. He had it in a vise and was trying to bend or break it with a large sledge. It didn't budge! No bending, no breaking and he is really smacking it! I was impressed.
   - merl - Saturday, 06/12/10 23:35:09 EDT

Well a search for Author: Wigginton Title: Foxfire over at abebooks.com turned up 924 or them...

   Thomas P - Sunday, 06/13/10 11:31:46 EDT

Mike (stainless damascus)

funny you should ask about stainless damascus... yesterday i was prepping just such a beast for a couple swords.

I dont find any trouble forge welding stainless damascus, but mostly because i use a lower grade stainless than i would if i where just making a stainless blade.

All i want out of my stainless damascus is the strong contrast in color. Say im working on a knife, if im useing a low grade stainless and heat treating by hand, the stainless will not harden. So if im a little sloppy when i draw the temper the stainless also gives a little bit of flex and shock absorption.

I do nothing special except a liberal application of excessive heat when i forge weld my billets. Its worked with great success for many years. Ive often been told that i cant possibly be doing what im doing, how im doing it but then again i may be the idiot savant of damascus.

I generally just use stainless steel roof flashing and cut it with a scissors

then i build up 21 layers, 10 stainless sandwiched between 11 high carbon and run a dirty weld over it to keep it closed when i stick it in the forge.

I just get it hot, flux the snot out of it and dead blow the first weld. After that i can go to town.

With a rough grind you can see just from the heat how the stainless will stand out from the blade when its complete.

   Kevin - Sunday, 06/13/10 15:27:16 EDT

oops im sorry my links suck.

if you go here you can see them Sorry about that

   Kevin - Sunday, 06/13/10 15:43:01 EDT

Keven but that's not stainless damascus; that's stainless and regular high carbon steel. Welding stainless to stainless seems to be the big issue; I know lots of folks who do stainless to WI or plain steel.

Unless the HC is also stainless then "Nevermind"!

   Thomas P - Sunday, 06/13/10 17:05:02 EDT

no just high carbon. I think im confused because welding stainless to stainless how would you see the difference in the layers?

or maybe im not getting it. I've found that when I use nice stainless sheet or something that has too much chromium in it I work twice as hard to get a weld to take. Still welding it to the high carbon steel.
   Kevin - Sunday, 06/13/10 17:19:04 EDT

It looks like you made some pretty damascus....have you tried dipping it in an acid bath for contrast ? I saw beautiful damascus rings on the internet, you might try making them.
Can W1 and high carbon steel be welded together ?
   Mike T. - Monday, 06/14/10 02:18:36 EDT

Kevin, Thanks for the pics.

Different grades of stainless have different corrosion resistance. If you weld a billet of say, 304 & 316 then etch in sulphuric acid its a similar effect to using 2 different carbon steels.
   - John N - Monday, 06/14/10 03:53:14 EDT

Something I have been thinking about trying is to drill holes in a bar of steel,then driving pins in the holes. Then forge welding. Something a little harder. Drill a 1/16" hole in a 1/4" pin, then drive a 1/16" pin through the 1/4" pin, then drive these pins in a steel bar with 1/4" holes drilled in it. This should make a target effect or birds eye effect. Just a thought. Kevin, I think this cold be done by alternating stainless and regular H/C steel. What thinkest thou ?
   Mike T. - Monday, 06/14/10 07:05:23 EDT

Wrap a 1/16" pin with WI, then weld it together. Use the layered WI/HC pin (now about 1/4") pushed into the drilled holes, weld. Just another way of acheiving the same outcome.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 06/14/10 07:52:03 EDT

Stainless to stainless and bulls eyes

While there is not a lot of color difference you can see the difference between a piece of 304 and 440C stainless when next to each other. Its not much but there IS a color difference. And as noted, the hardenable version will etch more than the non.

There are other reasons for making laminated steel other than color and pattern. Alternating soft ductile layers with highly hardenable layers results in a blade steel that both holds a hard edge and is still strong enough to be bent at a relatively tight radius. This type of laminated steel is often used for edges and more decorative patterned steels for the body of the blade.

Mike, if a proper press fit and with both pieces very clean the pins should weld together without forging. Otherwise the pins need to be a little longer than the holes so they upset in the holes. I THINK I've seen this in some article on laminated steels but cannot remember where. Bulls eyes are also made by drilling into a laminated billed then forging flat again.

The real trick to stainless and carbon steel combination's is if both are hardenable. Then you need to carefully determine how to use overlapping methods of heat treatment for both metals. This is where heat treating reference books such as ASM's come in handy.
   - guru - Monday, 06/14/10 08:00:43 EDT

Nip and Guru,

Thanks for your input.
   Mike T. - Monday, 06/14/10 08:52:05 EDT


I can see where drilling into laminated billets can produce bulls eyes. Mr. Hrisulas (sp.) uses a cutoff saw and makes 1/4" cuts down the side of the billet, then turns it over and makes the same cuts, but alternates them with those made on the other side, then forge flattens it to produce a ladder effect.
   Mike T. - Monday, 06/14/10 09:01:35 EDT

There are many methods of producing patterns in laminated steel. The CD/DVD set produced by J.D. Smith and now sold by Artisan Ideas includes some very sophisticated techniques.

While I found a lot of faults with the production of this CD set the information there is is well worth the price.

Controlled patterning of laminated steels is an art with infinite possibilities. Just the combination of twisting and relaminating can create hundreds of patterns. Removing material by machining, while wasteful, can produce as many patterns as your imagination can think up. Hot punching then stock removal to flat can also create a great variety of patterns. Then there is the mosaic method which allows one to create virtual paintings in steel.
   - guru - Monday, 06/14/10 10:44:43 EDT

There's a great many ways to produce specific patterns in laminated metals. If you have a hydraulic forging press you don't need to do the drilling or cutting, you can just press the pattern in with properly shaped dies and then grind off the surface differences. You end up with the same result, but the pattern goes much deeper into the billet, thus removing the potential problem of gruinding too deep and losing your pattern.

For example, the last few blades of raindrop/birdseye/bullseye I made ( a pair of Scottish Dirks with matching sgian dubh and a big two-handed sword)were done by first making up a 180-layer billet of straight laminations, forging that to the rough shape of the blade(s) I wanted, but left about 1/2 " thick, then pressing it between a pair of dies drilled in a honeycomb pattern. This raised little bumps about 1/8" tall. When ground smooth, I had a nice 1/4" thick blade blank. When forged and ground to final dimensions, the pattern remained uniform and undistorted throughout the blade.

I got both dirk and sgain dubh blades from one billet that measured about 2" x 1/4" x 18", and the sword got its own billet that started at 1.5" x 1/4" x 32" and finished as 1.5" wide x 48" long, 3/16" thick at the grips tapering to 1/8" at the point.

   Alan-L - Monday, 06/14/10 11:08:16 EDT

John - I think im going to play around with stainless/stainless some time and see what kind of contrast i get. I mostly stay away from full stainless unless im going to send them out for heat treating. Honestly a lot of my reluctance to play with it is that I just really like the look I get the minimal effort it takes to make it. 99% of what I do is for the pattern and contrast so im out of my element here. Same with cable Damascus.

Mike - Yes i love to acid etch, in fact im actually a fan of slightly over etching the steel a little for fitting pieces, gives it a nice texture that just feels interesting. The one I took a quick picture of is only rough ground with a 60 grit belt. After I finish grind and polish it I will etch and take another picture. With a little luck that little test piece will make a nice trade knife.

The coolest thing about Damascus to me is the amazing diversity you can get when working in the medium. Drilling or drifting for a pin or just forging it back flat is also the basics for doing mosaic Damascus. If your really patient with a file or know someone with a flow jet or laser cutter you can do some neat pictures. I stick mostly with cutting, grinding or filing into the billet then forging back flat. If you like bulls eyes you don’t have to punch all the way through either. You can punch or chisel into the steal and grind it back flat. I tried this with writing my name in a blade once but didn’t like the results enough to keep playing with it personally. One of my shop partners used to use a meat tenderizer as die and put little pyramid dings down the billet and grind it back for kind of a checker board look.
Like Nip and Guru said, you can get similar effects multiple ways. With a little persistence and some imagination you can do anything.
   Kevin - Monday, 06/14/10 11:36:24 EDT

I'm not sure if this was said,but..If you grind or cut a design in you forge it flat..If you forge a design ,you grind it flat
   - Arthur - Monday, 06/14/10 13:21:21 EDT

Also, on the damascus I was thinking of using brass to (spalt ?) the blade. Maybe brass chips or powder. I did find a site for ordering brass powder. How would Yall go about this, if you even would ? Sprinkle the powder on stainless foil, lay the blade on it, sprinkle the other side, then wrap it up. Heat and hammer ?
   Mike T. - Monday, 06/14/10 16:49:13 EDT

Im just going over to the dark side of patternwelding stainless, not tried it yet though!. Ive done a fair bit of mosaic (not can welding), and have succesfully welded a 4 bar core sword, fully edge wrapped. Im ready for the challenge!

Ive started a website for my damascus ( www.shadowforge.co.uk ) Its still under construction but has 1 of my blades on there! I hope to have quite a range of my work on there soon. My reason for stainless welding is primarily jewellery, but will san-mai for blades aswell.
   - John N - Monday, 06/14/10 16:51:20 EDT

Kevin and all,

Check out Ariel Salaverria knives, daggers etc.
His personal web site......WWW.AESCUSTOMKNIVES.COM
He experiments every day...makes unusual and one of a kind blades etc.
   Mike T. - Monday, 06/14/10 17:01:04 EDT

Brass on Steel: Mike, I would make impressions (cut or punch and then torch braze the brass on rough finished work.
   - guru - Monday, 06/14/10 17:10:02 EDT


You definitely make pretty damascus !!!! I will look forward to viewing your site from time to time. Is wootz steel made by melting iron and hammering out the bloom, then layering-laminating ?
   Mike T. - Monday, 06/14/10 17:11:24 EDT

Guru and all,

Thanks for all of your information, this site is definitely a tutoring and learning site. I learn more from this site than you will ever know. Gathering and combining knowledge is wonderful !
   Mike T. - Monday, 06/14/10 17:14:50 EDT

Hi Mike, Im far from knowledgable on wootz, though I have worked a little of it (not cooked my own cakes though).

A guy from the states (Ric Furrer) who is very knowledgable was over in the UK last year teaching, and I think I got the jist.....

Basically 'wootz' is just a very high carbon, low alloy crucible steel (with a little vanadium). Its the large dendrites that form that create the classic 'snowflake' patternation on the blade. The challenge seems to be in the working of the 'cake' from the crucible to get 'working' blade steel. In a nutshell it needs to be thermally cycled (sub critical) many many times, and only worked very gently for the first few dozen heats.

After a certain point the cake will start to behave more like a modern steel and can be forged into a bar / blade.

(please correct me if any of the information above is inaccurate)

Ive been stalling trying to make my own crucible steels as it becomes all encompassing (ive seen it happen to others!), I got a bit addicted to basic patternwelding, and dont need a major drain on my time at the moment! :)

oh, and I went on a week long sword forging course with Howard Clarke so am dreaming beautiful hamon, and that itch is going to need scratching!
   - John N - Monday, 06/14/10 18:45:03 EDT

True Wootz is made in a crucible. Cast iron is decarburized in a slow process and then the iron cooled slowly which creates a unique crystalline pattern. The "button" from the crucible is then carefully split, rolled out and then forged to draw it out. It is tricky stuff to work. Atli's article on swords on our Armoury page covers the process better than my description.

Many blades were 100% Wootz but it was also incorporated with wrought in Europe.

   - guru - Monday, 06/14/10 18:49:16 EDT

This may be of interest to some of you,. at a recent 'forge in' someone had a top grade thermocouple, and we measured the temp in my home made single venturi burner, vertical forge. Just above what I consider to be the hot spot it was reading a steady 1470C !!!

This is my main welding forge (loosly based on Don Foggs design) and I knew it was a hot one, but I diddnt realise it was running hot enough in the base for crucible smelts!
   - John N - Monday, 06/14/10 18:56:23 EDT

Mike T- I've done what the Guru describes for brass inlay i.e. punching in a design then torch brazing into the depression. It works well but watch out for two things. First don't over heat the steel when brazing or you will get some porosity in the brass, and second don't over grind and eat thru the design. It also looks really good if you temper color the steel to purple or treat with a bluing patina. Quite a striking color contrast.
   Judson Yaggy - Monday, 06/14/10 19:39:57 EDT

There is a bunch of things you can do with torch brazing. I once saw an artist making welded steel boxes and then he covered them with a sort of lumpy textured braze coating. When cleaned they looked like large rough cast brass cubes.

A jeweler I knew made all sorts of brass jewelery from brazing rod. One popular motif was butterflies. He made a hemispherical butterfly shape to put on hair tied in a bun. Very beautiful. He made the body by just building up big droplets. The rest was an open frame, the joints flattened with a hammer and then ground to blend in. This was the fellow that taught me about in line flux feed for brazing. Very little flux on the work and what was there disappeared in a pan of Sparex.
   - guru - Monday, 06/14/10 21:50:56 EDT

we have an info page up on our web site for wootz if any one in interested
   - mpmetal - Tuesday, 06/15/10 07:16:49 EDT

Not to leave out forge brazing for effect. Alfred Habermann used to make sizable wall hangings which were covered with braze material. One can use copper, brass, silver, and silver solder for coating a piece. I've made trophy-style buckles with copper pieces placed randomly on the face of the buckle. I take a slow rising heat in a high coke fire, and I use borax for flux. When the copper melts, you can sometimes get a relief, free form, topographic map appearance. Coke should be on top of the workpiece to refract the heat, because there exists the possibility of burning the steel bottom before the copper melts. Not good.

In the 1950's and 60's, there was lots of steel sculpture done with textured brass done with a torch. Tom Bredlow called it the school of "drip and drool."
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 06/15/10 09:40:47 EDT

Drip and drool. . . I like that. The guy I saw in the 70's must have been a hold out. .

We called the guys demoing the early Riter air hammer with the narrow sharp edged fullering dies the school of "crash and bash". No art or technique, just bashing the heck out of the bar. This gradually developed into "free hand forging" which uses much subtler dies and more artistic techniques.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/15/10 10:44:06 EDT

Mike T
- Thanks for the link he (Ariel Salaverria) has some really cool stuff. Its always a pleasure to look at what everyoene else is doing.

If you look at his page on making a spoon he does a really good step by step pictured process of how he starts his billet and drills in to get the bullseye pattern as nice as he does. He ends up with a really good looking piece of steel


John - very pretty blade cant wait till your site is up and running!

Guru - great idea about the arits who covered his boxes with brazing, ive always wanted to experiment with that sort of thing but havent had a good aplication. I cant wait to get into the shop and play again.

Im always impressed with the great work and helpful resourses this place show cases from its members.
   Kevin - Tuesday, 06/15/10 11:01:09 EDT

Besides torch brazing and as Frank noted forge brazing which gives and entirely different result, you can also mix brass and steel. I used to make bronze rams heads from 1/4" brazing rod and a building up process, then braze then onto an iron handle with a tapered and barbed point to be sure it stayed on permanently. The process resulted in a strong bright brass handle on a steel fireplace tool. Brass and iron are often mixed using brass collars on iron and seperate brass pieces such as scrolls or leaves riveted or collared to the iron.

Similar bright metal highlights could be done in stainless.

On some really expensive work the highlighted areas are created by using gold leaf. While this sounds pricey it is probably cheaper initially than brass parts. The brass which starts bright may need polishing on a regular basis. The gold leaf will remain bright until it is damaged or comes off. Replacing the gold leaf every so often may be comparable or less expensive than repeatedly polishing the brass.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/15/10 13:51:45 EDT

Thanks for the info on wootz mp I found the historical page a fun (and informative) read.
   JimG - Tuesday, 06/15/10 14:36:33 EDT

directions to the link on abana web site for "how to makeyour own smithin magician
   smily - Tuesday, 06/15/10 19:07:40 EDT

I have a question about the saftey of my shop...My shop is 20'x20' wth 12' ceilings of T&G pine..I have a powered vent in the roof..one of those mushroom shaped units like they use in resturant kitchens..plus big doors & windows
I was forging today ,about 100F. in the shop and I suddenly thought about the ceiling....I got up there with a thermometor and it was 160F.
Am I Looking for trouble?? I've been there for several years...Thank-you.
   - Arthur - Tuesday, 06/15/10 22:36:04 EDT

Too Hot? Arthur, The char point (just before wood catches fire) is 325°F. So you are well below that and probably quite safe.

You might want to do your measurement on a similar hot summer day when you are not forging to see how much of that heat is contributed by the forge. In hot weather the conditions that increase heat as you approach the ceiling and roof are significant. You also might want to check at a foot or so above the floor to give a general comparison.

In a blacksmith shop the powered vent should vent the shop, not the attic. Attic venting does help cool the building but not exhaust smoke and fumes well. I would want that big powered vent in the wall over the forge if its a gas forge.

The 12 foot ceilings are much better than lesser heights. For good ventilation in a forging and welding shop you cannot have high enough ceilings.

Something to think about is that building codes call for most walls to be covered in plaster or sheet rock for its fire resistance. This is particularly true if you have walls covered with paper backed insulation. Exposed insulation is common in unfinished areas of older buildings and garages. It should be covered to prevent the paper (even the foil covered stuff) from catching fire.

Sheetrock, even unpainted is light in color and brightens a shop as well as increasing fire resistance. I also like bright tin roofs for reducing shop temperature.

I think your shop is OK but might benefit from more ventilation (for you and the shop). Also note that many smiths that use gas forges indoors also have carbon monoxide detectors. This should be about head height as air tends to stagnate in layers even in fairly open buildings.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/16/10 07:22:03 EDT

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