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THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from June 8 - 15, 2011 on the Guru's Den
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hardfacing an anvil : can anyone give me some tips on hardfacing an anvil? eg: preheating and post heating times, best method of removing existing hardface with minimal risk of cracking cast and which hardfacing electrodes are recomended for this application? i have purchased a box of boc toolcraft but have concerns that it may be too brittle.
i have extencive experience in hardfacing but this time im doing a job for myself and on something ive paid for so i would like to get it right the fist time.
   greg - Wednesday, 06/08/11 03:43:35 EDT

punch tolerance : Hi all,
I'm designing a punch and die for making 30mm (1 3/16") holes in 1.5mm (1/16") aluminum. Assuming 10% of the material thickness play between the punch and the die, what should the tolerance be?
   - matthijs - Wednesday, 06/08/11 08:33:29 EDT

Greg, There are numerous anvil types and materials that must be approached differently. Unless you are manufacturing an anvil from scratch and know the material we do not recommend hard facing. Nor do we recommend weld repairs to fix chipped corners or cosmetic face damage.

While some anvils have a hardened steel plate they are not "hard faced". No commercially made anvil has been made by "hard facing".

Old anvils were made by forge welding a steel plate to the surface of a wrought iron block. The steel was of various carbon content and otherwise unalloyed. The wrought coarse and is difficult to weld to by modern methods. The plates are 1/2" to 3/4" thick depending on the size of the anvil. This method was in use up until around 1900 and many old anvils are of this type. There were many millions of these made and they may still be the most common anvil type. The face of these anvils can be welded if absolutely necessary. It is recommended to preheat to about 350°F and hard facing rods are generally not recommended. Repairs are made with E70 series or greater rods.

A few very old anvils were made of cast iron or chilled cast iron. However, due to the poor quality material these cheap anvils rarely survive. There are also many cast iron anvils made today and foisted off as "professional quality" or even "heat treated steel". We call these ASO's for anvil shaped objects. They have very limited use, are not repairable and not recommended to invest money in trying to improve.

Another old anvil type is the Fisher-Norris Eagle made by a patent process which welded a tool steel face to a cast iron body. This was done "in the mold". This was a tricky process and is generally not repairable. Heat from welding is more likely to cause a weld failure than to fix anything. When Fisher's patent ran out a number of other manufacturers started making cheaper anvils poor quality using this method.

In the early 1900's forged anvils started to be made by welding a tool steel upper body to a wrought or mild steel lower body. The face was heat treated. Exact steel types were not published. It is possible to weld repair these anvils.

After WWII most good anvils started being made of cast steel. Manufacturers kept the alloy a proprietary or trade secret as most still do today. Faces are heat treated. These can also be weld repaired but significant repairs may require expensive heat treatment. Many of these could be over hardened and tended to chip more than earlier anvils.

Many anvils made today are heat treated high grade ductile iron. These also can be weld repaired. Many cheap anvils made today are either lower grade cast steel or un-heattreated ductile iron on no specific type.

The problem with most weld repairs made to anvils is that they are unnecessary cosmetic repairs. Attempts to square up or make rounded corners square (they should be round) can produce a brittle HAZ that will fail under the heavy use anvil corners get. Spot repairs made with hard facing rod are often too hard and can develop into high spots that may damage tools. So softer is generally better than harder.

So, you start by identifying the anvil type then work from there. If you have a new anvil with a soft face then hard facing is a considerable expense that may not produce the desired results.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/08/11 09:41:10 EDT

HF Autohammer : HF has 12v rechargable autohammers on sale $39.99. I removed the outer sleeve and tossed it. The light rapid mini blows this tool puts out is simply perfect for upsetting stock 3/16" to 3/8". When I have custom stainless nail orders, I used to use small lightweight hammers and spend a good amount time and up to 10 heats to head the stock. 3 heats and a squeeze of the trigger and voila! I will make a video and post it for your entertainment. Technically its a small handheld power hammer.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 06/08/11 10:02:13 EDT

Punch Clearance :
Matthijs, the tolerance is often determined by the guide system. If a machine has a tight guide system or a die set then the punch clearance can be lower than in a loose system where the punch may misalign enough to strike the edge of the die.

You also need to know that the the die, not the punch, determines the hole size. So if the hole is critical you start with the die and make the punch undersize.

The more clearance the punch has the more burr there is but the less pressure that is required to punch the hole or make the blank.

A total clearance of 6 to 10% of the material thickness (.03 to .05 material thickness per side) is standard for soft steel, brass and hard
aluminum but more for soft aluminium. For thin materials and burr free work half this amount is used (3 to 5% total). The thinner the material the proportionally tighter the clearance. 1/16" is more in the average range than "thin". So around 6% of the material thickness (total) may be right for your application (depending on some of the above variables).

The manufacturing tolerance must be a small fraction of the dimension and not let the finished dimension get out of range of the desired fit. It also needs to be within reasonable manufacturing capabilities, say +/-.001" (more if possible).

SO, your material is .0625. 6% is your optimum clearence but it could be as low as 5% and as high as 8%. Example:

0.0625 x .05 = .0031
0.0625 x .08 = .005

So there is a .002" range. Split the range and that is +/-.001" from the nominal. Diameter = 1.1844 +/-.001"

Because you do not want the punch too tight you might round the dimension to 1.1840 and up the tolerance to +/-.0015. This lets the maker be off .001 and still be within tolerance and easy measuring range. The looser the tolerance, the lower the part cost.

You can also use unbalanced tolerances such as +.000 / -.003 but this often confuses the machinist. If the part is to be ground on a cylindrical grinder after hardening the tolerance could be lower.

Also note if machining to size then hardening that many alloys grow in the process.

Punches also have angular clearance of 1 to 2° per side. But precision blanking dies may be straight. On heavy punches this starts right at the edge but each time the punch is sharpened the overall clearance increases. Punches for precision work have a short un-tapered area and can be resharpened many times. Dies also have a relief about 1/8 to 3/16" below the surface. This also limits the number of times a die can be sharpened.

Please note that my numbers above are for an example only based on limited information. Please double check the recommendations and do the math yourself.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/08/11 12:07:30 EDT

Greg, you preheat until it's the right temperature and let it cool down slowly afterwards---use a tempil stick or a optical pyrometer! (I don't think the preheat time using two weed burners for my 400+ pound Trenton anvil would make any sense for a 60# cast Swedish steel anvil...)

You don't mention if it's cast iron or cast steel, either way if the face is still attached leave it be! Otherwise grinding.

I'd suggest doing a search for Rob Gunter's anvil repair method. It works well (cf the aforementioned 400+ pound anvil now a 410# anvil...)

And lastly I hold that more anvils are ruined by machinists and welders with the tools of their trades than by smiths with sledges!

Most anvils actually don't need repairs they just need the understanding that they are ok to use as they stand. Some do and some are unusable without them---but the cost of doing a full face repair will often be more than buying another anvil in better shape!

A couple of the ABANA Affiliates I have been a member of have had "anvil repair workshops" might check if there is a group local to you that may put one on---good place to learn the skills.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/08/11 12:11:06 EDT

Couple things: Mike BR: Metabo is not an import, they are 100% Made in U.S.A. Second: Guru, you "do not recommend them"? 4-1/2" angle grinders? I couldn't do without them.
   - Grant Sarver - Wednesday, 06/08/11 14:23:15 EDT

I have bought many many worn down handled tools at the local flea market, flatters, punches, fullers, swages, etc. They are supercheap if they are severely mushroomed. This is how I fix them. I bring the mushroomed area up to an orange heat, then flux the entire struck end of the tool. Then I slowly bring them up to a welding heat where I fluxed them, then forge weld the entire mass back together again under my 150 pound williams and white triphammer. While the rear end of the tool is cooling down to an orange heat, I hammer the struck end of the tool on the edges, making a nice chamfer, and also making the
   - stuart geisler - Wednesday, 06/08/11 14:37:12 EDT

Fixing Mushroomed Handled Tools : I have bought many many worn down handled tools at the local flea market, flatters, punches, fullers, swages, etc. They are supercheap if they are severely mushroomed. This is how I fix them. I bring the mushroomed area up to an orange heat, then flux the entire struck end of the tool. Then I slowly bring them up to a welding heat where I fluxed them, then forge weld the entire mass back together again under my 150 pound williams and white triphammer. While the rear end of the tool is cooling down to an orange heat, I hammer the struck end of the tool on the edges, making a nice chamfer, and also making the "forge-weld-dressed" tool look good as new. Thus for about a dollar and some flux and coal heat in my forge, I recycle these "worn out tools" into expensive "new tools".
   Stewartthesmith - Wednesday, 06/08/11 14:37:48 EDT

Broken Bolt : We were putting new brake pads on my car and could not get the key to turn the wheel lock. We sprayed WD 40 on it and actually stood on the key trying to turn it. The darn thing finally broke off in the wheel. For a bolt broken off on the inside and wedged solid in there, how would you remove it ?
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 06/08/11 15:04:49 EDT

HF Autohammer : Nip,

Would one of these be good enough to forge knife blades ?
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 06/08/11 15:09:51 EDT

I love the little 4-1/2" grinders and have two Milwaukees (good but not the best). I don't recommend the $10-$15 imports. While many work OK, just as many don't work out of the box. Folks that use them have gone through many have have learned which ones are a little better than the other by color and other minor details. Since they are all sold under multiple brand names and multiple makes are also sold under the same brand it takes intimate knowledge of the product to know exactly which one you are buying. .

To me the frustration factor of cheap tools that fail after a few uses or fail from a reasonable expected life is not worth the little cost savings. A tool that breaks down on the job can cost hours OR lose the balance of the day PLUS the replacement cost - which will likely be higher than the mail-order import house. All much more expensive than the cost of a good tool to start with.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/08/11 15:29:09 EDT

Wheel Studs :
Mike, it depends on the hardware. Typical wheel lugs have a tapered seat that compresses a dimple on the wheel. This acts like a spring lock and the tapered seat assures the wheel and studs align properly. Properly tightened they will remove with reasonable force. However, if installed with a high speed air wrench and spun on, when they seat the inertia of the air wrench and the tapered seat combine to deform and pinch the edges of the lug nut into the stud. They will NEVER come apart without twisting the stud off.

You can watch a tire change guy wrench your studs and cost you money the next time a wheel needs to be removed. If they start the nut a few turns then use the air wrench at full speed with too much pressure until is bottoms out the damage is done in about 1/2 second. The proper method is to throttle the wrench to slowly run the lug nuts up one at a time then come back a second time at full throttle to assure the nuts are all tight. Takes about 5 seconds longer to prevent the damage.

I've complained about this to dealerships that were the ONLY people that worked on tires or brakes on one of our vans. . . We got credited for stud replacements twice (about a dozen studs).

Back when I was changing tires we had an electric impact wrench. It had a limited speed compared to the air wrenches that are often run on 150 - 180 PSI when rated at 90. Much safer tool. You could hand it to any lackey and not worry about stripped studs. The impact mechanism had as much mass as an air wrench and would remove tight fasteners as well as an air wrench.

On alloy wheels where the fastener has a flat shoulder the amount of surface area often has an effect as does the greater friction of the steel against light alloy. Bimetallic corrosion is often a factor as well.

If the broken part is a stud then they are a splined (straight knurl) press fit and tap out out easily with a pin punch and light hammer.

If the broken part is an actual bolt that threads into the hub then it is likely to be stripped. This has to be drilled out until only a thin part remains then a proper sized easy out used to extract the shell. If the hub is damaged it will need to have a tap run through it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/08/11 16:31:02 EDT

Mike T., I don't know about other forging processes. I specifically got it for upsetting. There is a guide sleeve around the hammer part. I haven't tried removing it yet. The guide sleeve (whatever it is) is quite useful for keeping the upset from folding or going off center. At $39.99 I guess I could attempt messing with one.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 06/08/11 17:11:11 EDT

I don't know what make and model you are working on but I once replaced 3 broken lug studs off in the KOA campground in Houston TX on a Labor Day weekend by picking up the replacement splined studs and a punch at the auto parts store and hammered out the old ones using the punch and my rock hammer and then used the lug nuts to pull the new ones into place.

Of course this was a 1962 Buick special so no fancy alloy wheels to worry about.

A lot easier than I had anticipated; I also bought extra studs in case I had further failures "down the road".

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/08/11 17:29:41 EDT

hardfacing an anvil : thanks for your replys fellas, im more in two minds about repairing the anvil then i was prior to the post.
The biggest problem with it is not the rounded edges or the deep chisle markings but the fact that when i purchased it (several years back, 2nd hand) some genius in his wisdom ran a couple of beads of weld down one side which had subsequently peeled, revealing a gap between the body and face.

Im not entirely sure of how much is still fused to the body but going by the amount of pinging produced when struck its not more then 10% and that is only around the section that has come away.

Im wanting to gouge the section of face that has a gap back until i can no longer see a clear seperation of the face from the parent metal, as i don't have access to a carbon arc air gouger at home i guess the only way i can do it is with an oxy gouger, my concer with this is that too much heat will be consentrated into one area of the anvil. i have a milling machine at home and grinding the face back is an option but i would have prefered to do this on the dressing of the face and not the removal as the face is still in reasonable condition but again is showing signs of years of heavy use hence the concave midsection which i was planning on building up with hardface then grinding back.

im not sure on the age of the anvil or even the weight but i can tell you its a back breaker if you have to move it, there are a couple of markings on it but there not that clear and to memory i think one is 220 (possibly indicating 220lbs?)on the side as for maker i need to take a closer look when i get home.
   greg - Wednesday, 06/08/11 17:53:52 EDT

Greg, The combination of that amount of face separation and pealed off weld sounds like a cast iron body anvil which cannot be repaired.

If any part of the logo or numbers on the anvil are raised it is cast.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/08/11 19:37:26 EDT

Thomas{. I changed 4 of 5 studs on a rear wheel on a E-150 econoline on the roadside near Gettysburg Penn. Alloy wheels, Got the studs, and new nuts and a breakerbar and deepwell and did the same you did. Hammered out, drew in the replacement studs, but since the whell was alloy, I used a stack of washers instead of the wheel. Once set installed wheel and then torqued. Alloys are sensative to torque. Then about 25 miles down the road re-torqued and found one quite under torque. I now always have that breaked bar, a handfull of studs and the torque wrench in the big van. It seems to like to loosen the nuts, I suspect from differential expansion when heat/cool cycling.
   ptree - Wednesday, 06/08/11 19:38:32 EDT

I had it in my head for some reason that Metabos were German made. (As you can probably guess, I've never owned one.)
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 06/08/11 19:39:37 EDT

I think the Chinese got all the American sounding names. It is a funny name for a U.S. company.
   - Grant Sarver - Wednesday, 06/08/11 19:49:56 EDT

Mike: I think you're right. I just remember I always thought it was a Japanese sounding name and I was surprised to find it wasn't.
   - Grant Sarver - Wednesday, 06/08/11 20:05:38 EDT

Punch & die clearance & tolerance : Matthijs - You should be OK with 5% of material thickness PER SIDE as clearance [10% total]. The punched hole will be about .0001"or less smaller than the punch in the sheared portion, and die size at the bottom of the breakage portion. If You don't understand this, look at a stamped part like a flat washer, and You will see what it means.

The tolerance of the punch is determined by the tolerance of the hole You need in the finished part. If punching a group of holes in parts that will be bolted or riveted together You will have fewer assembly problems with greater clearance on the holes. For this reason We punched holes near maximum allowable size in the auto frames.

As the material gets thicker, the percentage of material thickness used as clearance increases, and as the precision of the stamped part decreases, clearance also increases.

Where I learned My trade, We stamped thin [.005"-.025"] material most of the time, and on ocasions, .060" These were precision parts, and We used 5%/side clearance, expecting about 50% shear. At the auto frame plant We stamped material from about .085" to .375" thick, and used from 10%/side for the thinner materials to 15%/side for the heavier expecting from 33% shear to about 50%.

Commonly, ironworker punch & die sets are provided with the die 1/32" larger than the punch unless ordered diferently. These are used on a variety of material thicknesses, and as it is generally not close tolerance work it is OK, meaning that it does punch a hole.

Larger clearance gives a lower percentage of shear and more breakage with some depression around the hole and somewhat greater bur in soft materials.

The optimum clearance will give the least bur, but this varies with the material and "temper" [annealed/dead soft or work hardened to varying degrees].

Tight clearance will show multiple break/shear lines on the edge, and throw extreme burrs on the bottom edge.

When blanking parts, the die controlls the size of the part, in a solid die the part will be .001" or less larger than the die opening. If using a sectioned die that "breathes" during the cutting operation, all bets on size are off.

Fine blanking and shave tooling are entirely different, beyond the scope of this post.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 06/08/11 21:24:44 EDT

Corection: : When blanking parts, the die controlls the size of the part, in a solid die the part will be .0001" or less larger than the die opening.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 06/08/11 21:35:23 EDT

Any word on how Tim Ryan is doing? Heard he was injuried during a premature ingnition while doing an anvil shoot,I was told that he lost a thumb, was burned and was air lifted to the hospital.
   Greg S - Wednesday, 06/08/11 23:01:00 EDT

Vise oiling... : The talk earlier about vises combined with a production run I am am working on that involves opening and closing the vise 6-7 times per part got me thinking I should oil my vise again, which I did half way through the run... I'm kinda wishing I hadn't. I'm doing some cold bending using a hammer, and now have to tighten the vise a 1/4 turn
more than I did before because the hammering causes the vise to loosen.
   JimG - Thursday, 06/09/11 09:49:34 EDT

Greg, Where was Tim when he was injured? When did the accident happen? Thanks, Ron
   - Ron Childers - Thursday, 06/09/11 09:51:57 EDT

Tim Ryan : Ron, more information here: http://blacksmith.org/forums/threads/1366-Tim-Ryan-injured-in-anvil-shooting-accident?p=10589#post10589
   - Grant - Nakedanvil - Thursday, 06/09/11 11:51:36 EDT

Missouri Anvil Shooting Competition :
I was called several times as a consultant on this by the Discovery Channel. I tried to explain to them that there is a huge difference (in fact a small amount of powder difference) between a celebratory anvil shoot for noise and effect and the competitive shoots for height.

While I have supported the rights of groups to hold anvil shoots I do not agree with those that go for height. In one case the person doing the fireworks is usually the only one in danger and the other everyone attending or within several hundred feet is in danger.

The first problem, despite anyone's arguments to the contrary, is that IF something goes wrong, the anvil can go almost as far sideways as you expected it to go UP. The rigs anvil shooters use are supposed to prevent this but they are NOT a cannon guiding a shell. They are an open platform setting on earth of unknown stability. Generally if you can see what is going on, you are too close. I specifically told the Discovery channel producers to stand back as far as they expected the anvil to go UP, IF they wanted to be safe.

Anvil Shoot setup - photo by Jock Dempsey
Tim Ryan's Anvil Shooting Setup

You can see more of Tim Ryan's Anvil Shooting setup here. SRBC 2003 - anvilfire NEWS

The second problem is the amount of powder used in competitive shoots. The amount necessary to make an ear ringing boom and lift an anvil a couple feet is enough to blow your hand or at least several fingers off. Its more than an M80 fire cracker which have maimed numerous folks. The amount necessary to launch a 100 pound anvil 200 feet is enough to launch a cannon ball several thousand feet or enough to make a real mess of anyone close by.

Comparisons are made to war reanctors shooting black powder cannons and guns. But there is one huge difference, they are not using cannon balls, bullets or shot (in most cases). Just setting powder off for noise and effect.

Since there were no fatalities I think Tim and the TV folks were very lucky. They were probably not as close as I was when I took the photos of Tim's setup above. So I guess I was lucky as well.

See BGOP Anvil Shoot Video by Paw-Paw Wilson
   - guru - Thursday, 06/09/11 14:33:17 EDT

Anvil Shoot : Discovery contacted me some time ago about the anvil shoot by way of my website. I am not against anvil shooting per se, but I strongly suggested that they talk about the rediscovery and resuscitation of blacksmithing in the U.S. beginning about 1970. Perhaps they could show some current forged ironwork and sculpture. Of course, that would not pump one's adrenalin as much as an anvil shoot, especially when you're dealing with the latter-day hippie cabrónes from Mythbusters.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 06/09/11 20:08:12 EDT

Myths and Mysteries :
I wondered what "myth" they were trying to bust? There is one example of an anvil shoot in the popular movie "Sweet Home Alabama" where things go awry and the anvil crashes down in a back yard. And a story in Anvils in America where one goes awry and goes through several floors of a house. . . but what is there to bust? There are dozens of competition shoots on YouTube as well as our photos here of anvils becoming small specs in the sky (links above).

The Discovery folks were looking for history on anvil shooting but there is nothing well documented that anyone has found. It MAY be there but Richard Postman says he doesn't have it.

Prior to this story we were contacted this spring by the same producers about forging a sword. I tried to convince them that there was more to ironwork than making swords and I could hook them up with some decorative smiths. They agreed and I sent them to Josh Greenwood. I warned him about the subject of the initial contact and he had discussions with the TV folks. THEN when the director of the crew called to finalize things a few days in adance he wanted to know how long it was going to take to "make the sword" from start to finish. . . Josh bowed out.

After THAT story they called around looking for someone to forge an anvil. I told them that this is generally not done in small shops anymore and there were no factories forging anvils in the US. But they found some folks that had never forged one to take the bait. . . I don't think they did it. This was another one where I suggested some modern forging and that I could get them someone with big power hammers and some exciting things to film. . . Nope, they wanted someone to forge an anvil.

I get contacted about these things A LOT and I've tried to push these things in the right direction. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 06/09/11 20:48:34 EDT

Guru, on Friday June 3rd right before the Tipton Indiana conference Kurt Ferenbach(sp) who has a shop just up the road forged an anvil to place in the auction along with a sealed box of "good stuff for blacksmiths" The anvil was a double horn, and made fom a hunk of 4" square 4140. I did not weigh it but I would suspect 30-40#. Nice looking anvil. He has a 1500# Niles-Bemont-Pond and several 250# LG's.
Last Tipton, He and Clifton Ralph and Steve Parker forged a post vice on a steam hammer at the conference.
   ptree - Friday, 06/10/11 07:13:52 EDT

TV and Media. : Ptree, I know there are a bunch of guys out there that can do it. These folks had some idea of a hand forged anvil (*yes I KNOW open die forging under a power hammer IS "hand forging" or "blacksmith forging" in technical terms). They wanted guys with sledge hammers and actual hand work. . . I talked to them several times and tried to convince them they would have a very difficult time finding someone to do it well enough to film.

I have not heard if the guys that accepted the challenge finished the project but during their first trial run they found out they did not have enough forge for the size pieces they wanted to heat AND found that they need more than one big forge AND a jib crane AND special tongs for the work . . . It was going to take some major gearing up of the shop. All things I told them they would need before doing anything else. I also told them they were going to need a willing and ready crew in great physical condition PLUS alternates or a back up crew since almost nobody strikes all day anymore. This was proven with the anvil face welding the Williamsburg crew attempted at SOFA a couple years ago. These very experianced smiths just barely made the face weld on the second try and were too exhausted to actually finish the job they way it is supposed to be done. It was a minor part of making the anvil.

I'm sure there is a group out there that can do it but it would take a big commitment from everyone in the group AND several test runs prior to filming. In Josh's case (making the sword) they had a professional film crew arranged for one day. That is what the budget allowed. Josh also has large power hammers and the jib cranes and was willing to forge a small anvil but that is not what they wanted.

The couple times I have talked to these media folks they had some preconceived idea of what they wanted but were very inarticulate about it, which I thought was odd for "communications" experts. I understand them not knowing the technology but that is a different thing.

Where these things get very disappointing is that you put in many hours (often days or weeks) preparing, the film crew is in-and-out like a swarm of locusts and in the end all your work gets reduced to about 10 seconds and MAYBE a sound bite and that is likely to be the least important OR only inaccurate thing you said all day.

I've done these things numerous times. All together they don't total up to the "15 minutes of fame" that Andy Warhol said everyone would get "in the future" (now), OR maybe they do. I've been written up in the Newspapers 3 times and in magazines twice not including press releases for crafts shows or articles I've written. One newspaper article was a full two pages with photos by an award winning photographer. I've been on television four times that I can remember (twice on morning talk shows, twice as a featured craftsman). This was all before the explosion of cable and hundreds of channels.

In the end most of these exposures do your career or business little good. Cost in time and effort is usually huge and the returns if any are very small. Mostly they are ego boosters.

If you want to be in film or print you can do much better on your own these days.
   - guru - Friday, 06/10/11 11:05:33 EDT

I was contacted about making an item for a historical TV show. I was quite excited as it would be a hoot; Found and purchased a book on the subject and started making plans---then heard nothing from the producer for several months.

Then they got back in touch and asked if I could make a mission critical item with great safety issues in 2 weeks. I felt I could if I quit my job and did nothing else. So I passed on it and suggested they talk with a machinist as they kept changing the original replication to a modern version to a modern item to a....

(It was making a wrought iron rocket fueled by *compressed* black powder like the British used in the early to mid 19th century in warfare---as in "the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air")

   Thomas P - Friday, 06/10/11 18:31:09 EDT

ThomasP, Would that be a Hale Rocket? The show weapons Masters I believe used a recreated Hale and a modern version.
If I wanted to make rockets I would tend to something useful like a Honest or Little John:)
   ptree - Friday, 06/10/11 19:02:09 EDT

Media folks : moved to Hammer-in.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 06/10/11 19:12:07 EDT

Bombs bursting. . . yep. The original pipe bomb.
   - guru - Friday, 06/10/11 20:21:37 EDT

hardfacing and anvil : guru, thanks for your response, ive taken a closer look at the anvil and after much wire brushing ( which really didn't help) i was able to deduce its a peter wright marked wrought and 211L.

there's got to be a way to repair the lifted section, i refuse to beleive that its a total wright off, besides it's too big to make a useful door stop.
   greg - Friday, 06/10/11 21:18:30 EDT

Greg, If the face is as loose as you say it is I would try to chisel and pry it off. If its really that bad it CAN be machined off. Or you could torch and grind.

A Peter Wright will have a high grade wrought iron body. It can be welded to but can be difficult. Wrought is a mix of pure iron fibers in a silica slag matrix. When welding it the slag runs out and you have less material than you started with. Loads of fun. . . Initial weld build up should be with a plain carbon steel rod such as E7024 or a similar wire. MIG works better than coated rods because there is going to be a lot of slag from the wrought and the rod coating just adds to it. Over wrought you want to build up at least 3/8" of steel then hard face that.

One of the serious issues building up and hardfacing is inclusions and the pits that form around them. This is a critical surface so they need to be ground out with each pass and repaired. A total of 1/2" steel build up over the wrought should do pretty well. Keep the corners well rounded to avoid cracking and chipping.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/11/11 00:41:40 EDT

hardfacing an anvil : im afraid i don't have a mig at home and i agree that using a mig with flux cored wire would be ideal for this application yet i do beleive that given the correct preheaing temp and prep on the anvil it's not beyond repair.
i will take your advice and attempt to chisel off what i can, if that takes care of it i will buy you a beer.
secondly, you mention that im going to be left with less then what i stated with on the intial welds, i imagine what you mean buy this is somewhat similar to when your welding cast iron.
thirdly, would you recommend the peening of each weld to releive stress?
   greg - Saturday, 06/11/11 08:01:41 EDT

"Less" :
Greg, welding wrought by modern methods is a bit like working with a wet sponge. When the water runs out you have less material. OR like welding styrofoam. As it melts the air escapes and you have less volume. When wrought is melted in the welding process the slag runs out, often with dissolved iron reducing what WAS base metal. The amount of slag is significant. This also adds to what needs to be removed (chipped off) and the depth of the slag pool that must be welded through. When welding cast iron the volume of metal does not change and it is not self fluxing.

Once you get a uniform first pass this issue will go away.

IF you remove the entire face then there is no steel to be be effected by thermal shock. Wrought does not harden and is very soft and ductile. Preheat does no good with wrought but is suggested when there is a wrought+steel joint.

The slag in wrought helps the forge welding process because it acts like flux. As it squeezes or runs out it leaves a pure iron layer that bonds well to the second piece of iron or steel. It is a completely different metal than steel.

Try welding on the bottom of the anvil and see how it reacts.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/11/11 08:29:37 EDT

power hammers : I need to find a LG 25 or 50 or any other tire hammer.As little work as posible to fix if needed. I'm 14 and have been blacksmithing for about 1 and 1/2 years. PLEASSE get in touch with me if you have any leads. Thanks,
   Steven - Saturday, 06/11/11 09:30:45 EDT

I an looking for a smill power hammer like a LG 25 or 50. I have a small shop and would like as small and powerful as posible. Little fixing if needed. I have a limited cash flow because I'm 14. Any help would be appreated.
   - Steven - Saturday, 06/11/11 09:32:42 EDT

Power Hammer : Steven,

I know where there's a few really excellent power hammers for reasonable prices - but the shipping might be prohibitive, depending on where you are?
   - Rich - Saturday, 06/11/11 10:47:46 EDT

Small power hammer : Steven,

Contact Old Worlde Anvils in Postville, Wisconsin. Bob Bergman sells a fine little hammer called the KickAss 75. Cheaper than a really good 50# LG and far more powerful and controllable. He might even have a used one.
   - Rich - Saturday, 06/11/11 10:55:41 EDT

Small power hammer : Steven,

I neglected to mention that the KA-75 has the smallest footprint of any power hammer in that size class. About 20" x 36" by 42" high or thereabouts. Just the thing for a small shop.
   - Rich - Saturday, 06/11/11 10:57:00 EDT

Steven, Have you looked on our Tailgate page?

There is a 50# hammer listed there. A Mayer is the same as LG. These were made while the company was owned by the designer/builders the Mayer Bros who designed all the LG's.

While LG's are no longer cheap (unless you find one hiding in a barn), they have lower HP requirements than an air hammer. A 25 came with a 1HP 3PH motor and a 50 came with a 2HP 3PH motor but will run on 1.5HP. Note that those with factory motors were almost always 3PH but many have had replacement motors OR user added motors that are usually 1PH.

25's will do a lot of work but are very fast and have a steep learning curve to do delicate work. A larger hammer such as a 100 pound hammer will do a lot more but the slower speed makes them easier to learn to use. . . The biggest advantage of a 25 pound LG is they only weigh about 800 pounds or so thus are easier to move and setup. The down side of ALL the old mechanical hammers is they haven't been made for over 50 years and most are 75 to 100 years old. Many are worn out or have been worn out and repaired poorly.

   - guru - Saturday, 06/11/11 11:55:46 EDT

While taller (over 7 feet) the 100 pound hammers we've built have a 16 by 30 base plate. At top they are wider (24") due to the tire drive and the treadle increases the length a few inches. They could be narrower with a belt drive. Our frame is similar to a Fairbanks with a relatively shallow throat but with a pass through. This makes a very compact machine.

One of the most compact of the small power hammers was the original Bull. The compactness was such that you could have had 4 of them in a small shop and not noticed they were there. It had some design issues but they were details that I thought could be corrected. I tried to convince Tom to build a version that fixed the original problems.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/11/11 13:31:01 EDT

Small power hammers : One of the nice things about the KA-75, for a new hammer user, is that it is a one-hit per push hammer rather than reciprocating. Like you said, a 25 LG runs like a sewing machine and that's tough to learn on. Slow them down and they have no power. After an hour or two with the KA you can easily maintain a rate of 100 bpm if you're drawing or changing sections, and you can get one hit of any force you need. They'll run on a relatively small compressor, too.

My buddy Nathan Robertson has two KAs and turns out hundreds and hundreds of very fine custom forging hammers a year with them, so they definitely have decent production potential. I think Grant did a darn good job on the design of the KA, and if I hadn't been determined to build my own air hammer I would have bought one of them.

One thing Steven might want to consider is building one of the Rusty style mechanical hammers. They're fairly cheap to build and when done right, like Jeff Reinhardt's hammer, they will do a lot of work. There's a lot to be said for building your own when you're just getting started with power hammers. It's a great learning experience.
   - Rich - Saturday, 06/11/11 13:42:51 EDT

A little known fact is that the original design of the KickAss hammer was for a guided treadle hammer. Started with rods but switched to tubes to gain more bearing with less weight. Once I had tubes it was a "light-bulb" moment of "hey, I can put air to that"!
   - Grant - Nakedanvil - Saturday, 06/11/11 16:42:22 EDT

Thanks for the kind words Rich!
   - Grant - Nakedanvil - Saturday, 06/11/11 16:43:53 EDT

Thanks also for the kind words.
I have used my Rusty style, Actually a "Powell Patent" style since about 2002. I had made some bad assumtions when I first built and have worked those out. My hammer is now a compact spare drive, uses a modified version of the tire hammer ram guide, and is at 75# on the ram.
And with upgrades and so forth, I am now probably at $300 complete.
   ptree - Saturday, 06/11/11 16:51:14 EDT

Air Hammer : Mr. Sarver,
Do you have plans available for sale ? Maybe have or will have E-book plans for sale ?
   Mike T. - Sunday, 06/12/11 04:28:34 EDT

   Steven - Sunday, 06/12/11 10:38:25 EDT

miller welder service : Anybody have experience with having a Miller mig welder serviced. Mine died. Thought the gun was bad because it wouldn't advance the wire. Replace gun and cable unit; still no go. Openned the case up, foolishly thinking there might be a simple switch gone bad but alas the wires go directly to a circuit board. Any hope or am I looking at new mig time?
   brian robertson - Sunday, 06/12/11 13:24:48 EDT

Welder Reapair : Brian, There are lots of things that can go wrong some repairable others not so much. Many welding suppliers have service techs. Some are good, some not. Being a Miller means most of the parts are probably available. So are manuals with wiring and control diagrams.

There may be a DC power supply or just a bridge rectifier that needs to be replaced. So starting with a voltmeter to see if you have power is a good start. I had to replace the bridge diode on my AirCo with one from Radio Shack. It powered the feed motor. Figuring it out took a little longer than replacing the part.

Is there a relay on the circuit board? Some of these are plug-in and replaceable. The whole circuit board is probably replaceable as well but will not be cheap. If a new board is not available there may be someone that can repair it for you but probably not the Miller service tech (unless he sidelines in electronics).

There is usually a heavy contactor that makes a good CLACK every time you pull the trigger. This turns the power on to the wire and may send a signal to the circuit board (or vise versa). The contacts and coils go bad in these and can be tested.

The circuit board may have some delay timers on it but generally most of what it does is control the speed of the feed motor.

Generally repairs are much cheaper than replacing the entire unit. A good repairman should be able to give you an estimate.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/12/11 15:59:55 EDT

Mig troubleshooting : 1. do you have power at the reseptable the gun is powered from?
2. do you have power where the connection from the receptable cord?
3. Is the wire feed rolls the right size and not worn? Adjustment right to press the wire against the powered roller?
4. If you have power, when you hit the trigger, does the feed roll turn?
5. With the clamp on the feed roller loose, can you pull wire thru the entire system? If not check wire feed liner inside tourch cable.
6.If a gas system, when you squeeze the trigger does the gas solenoid open and flow gas? If not check trigger circuit.

   ptree - Sunday, 06/12/11 16:37:34 EDT

1. yes
2. yes
3.feed rolls not worn or out of adjustment
4.feed rolls don't turn
5.yes, brand new cable and gun (originally thought this was the problem)
6. no gas flow when trigger pulled.

I'm thinking circuit board also nothing on the board looks like plug and play like on my 'putor.
   - brian robertson - Sunday, 06/12/11 17:29:13 EDT

mig : once when my mig rolls stopped rolling I was so mad at dam thing i wacked the roller in the forward direction, its worked ever since
   - larry - Sunday, 06/12/11 19:25:47 EDT

Mig troubleshooting : Brian, I would check the gun switch. If it is like my Lincohn MIG it has connections to the main machine. I would unhook and check for Continuity chenge when the trigger is pulled. If good look over the connection to board for breaks. If nothing than I suspect you do indeed have a board issue.
   ptree - Sunday, 06/12/11 19:30:00 EDT

mig : I'd like to see that technique
   brian robertson - Sunday, 06/12/11 19:30:56 EDT

If the circuit board has nothing but small components (chip size parts) then there is a low voltage DC power supply somewhere. The feed motor runs on 12 to 30 volts and the circuit board 4 to 12 volts. These can fail separately from the other parts and are prone to failure from power spikes and heat. They MAY have a fuse. Start with the voltmeter or VOM.

If there is power, and the switch is working, and nothing else, THEN the circuit board may be bad.

The solenoid valve is another part that makes a distinct click when it opens and closes.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/12/11 19:35:07 EDT

M. I. G. problems : check the ground.
   - danny arnold - Sunday, 06/12/11 22:24:42 EDT

Learning to use a VOM (Volt Ohm Meter) :
If you are going to work on the electrics of any machine it helps to have a VOM. A general purpose analog meter is relatively inexpensive, around $25, some as low as $15 and fancy ones several hundred. The $25 analog will do 99% of what you need in the general shop. Note that digital meters may be easier to read numerically but are not as easy to learn to use as the analog and are more expensive. The average VOM is the size of a small book and there are also pocket size DOM's. They all do more or less they same task and most are used the same.

VOM's measure a range of things. AC and DC voltage from millivolts to 600V and resistance (Ohms) from a few to 100K.

VOM's and DOM's have a selector switch for ranges and a choice of ports for different tasks. Read the instructions to be sure you don't short something out.

Voltage is used to check incoming lines for the proper voltage, power supplies for proper output and power at various terminals and outputs. Select the range and type of power (AC/DC). When checking DC the polarity needs to be correct or the meter moves backwards or had no reading. Trial and error is often the best way to make this determination.

Ohms: is used to measure resistance and continuity (that one end of a wire is connected to the other such as in cords, coils and windings). Measuring resistance or continuity requires a voltage so a small battery is usually required to power the meter. This battery is either in the meter or sometimes in the probe. Analog VOM's will measure voltage without an internal power source but not resistance.

If you put a voltage on the Ohm circuit it usually blows a fuse in the meter. While this saves the meter the fuse may be an odd one to replace. So be sure that power is disconnected, batteries removed and capacitors discharged prior to doing Ohm tests.

Continuity testing will tell you if a winding is bad in a motor, transformer or coil or if its shorted to the frame. Making these tests usually requires disconnecting leads going to the items to be sure you are testing the item, not the rest of the circuit.

Straight continuity testing (yes/no) will answer 90% of your failed component questions. Understanding the amount of resistance a winding should have can tell you if there is a coil to coil short from burned insulation. On transformers and other multi-tap devices you can determine long and short windings which can determine proper connections on components that you do not have the terminal diagram. If the values are unknown you can often test a good similar component and use the value for comparison. In something like a motor where each winding should have the same resistance you can compare one to another.

Using a VOM, a wiring diagram, and a little logic you can do most of the testing that you would pay a technician $100/hr to do. This type of work is not for everyone but if you have a logical mind and are good at solving problems you can sort out a lot of electrical problems with this one little tool.
   - guru - Monday, 06/13/11 01:28:13 EDT

More Circuit Testing :
You don't have to have a commercially made meter to do simple circuit tests. A small light bulb and a dry cell battery can be used to test continuity in low resistance circuits. You can build this yourself with those parts, some wire and a couple nails for probes.

The same parts without the battery can be used to check voltages with the correctly rated light bulb.

Both these little testers are also available commercially in various forms, often as pencil or pocket testers. The voltage testers often have little inert gas bulbs so that they work on a range of voltages.
   - guru - Monday, 06/13/11 02:39:45 EDT

I've got a collection of various types of VOM and DOM's. The expensive Fluke DOM has been the least used and may no longer be functional (setting on shelf with old battery & probably corroded). While Fluke meters look well designed and for their cost SHOULD be exceptional I've found the selector switch functions poorly and the leads don't connect well in their receptacles. All style and poorly executed design details.

My little pocket DOM the size of a small calculator or ultra slim cell phone has gotten quite a bit of use because I could get it into facilities where I was not supposed to do electrical testing. . . but did anyway. It has hard wired leads which always work and a large display for its size. Being very small it is also good for travel. I keep it in my computer bag.

Another pricey meter is an AmProbe industrial electrician's model with clamp around amperage tester and rotating head. It is one of the few meters that measure amperage. Designed to be a portable belt utility belt unit I've found it to be one of the least friendly meters I have. Its advantages outside the amperage unit are that it's analog and has a variety of probes that work well. I also have spare alligator end leads which are very handy. It is clumsy but it gets used a lot.

Another DOM I picked up ("free gift" with zillion dollar order) is an Omegaette HHM93. List $29.00. It's a little armored unit sort of like the Fluke but smaller. Its designed for bench and field work. Being newer it does more than many older DOM's. The selector and leads works better than the Fluke for a lot less money.

The most used meter in our shops is a common cheap little yellow plastic analog unit that cost about $15 new (many years ago). The second most used meter was an old Sears automotive test meter. It had the most sensitive low voltage DC range of the analog meters and has handy alligator clips.

The most unusual meter in the collection is a phase voltage meter. This tests for 3PH A-B-C for rotation direction. Most of the time this is not a critical meter but there can be times when the rotation must be right without trial and error hook up. I've only used it once.

These are all simple meters that do not get into digital signal testing or oscilloscope functions. Those are for serious electronics far beyond simple shop maintenance and repair.
   - guru - Monday, 06/13/11 03:52:36 EDT

Anvil Fabrication : Hi, After reading many websites and opinions I have decided that it might be best to build my own anvil, I have built my own forge and to add power to the coal/coke forge I have also added a wood gasifier to the airflow fan to give it extra kick to be able to weld, although I have not run the forge with the gasifier as yet. The main reason is cost and secondly I dont want to buy a pile of junk from ebay. I have been mig welding for some time, fabricating gates and railings as well as woodburners etc.
As cost is a major issue this is my idea. I know it is not recomended to hollow fill an anvil with concrete so how about with epoxy resin, still using gravel/old steel or a simmilar filler and with welded bars inside the anvil to add strength and hold the resin firm. I plan to use hollow rectangular section of around 10mm 3/8" the body size would be around 250mm 10" high by 150mm 6" wide and around 450mm 18" long with a horn around 200mm 8" long and a heel around the same as the horn, the hardy hole would be made using smaller hollow square section, to make the horn I plan on using similar thickness round tube to cut and weld to fabricate the horn and to cut some of the hollow rectangle to form the heel of the anvil, I would weld in bars to the heel and horn that pass into the main body so when filled with the resin this would add strength to all parts.
I thought epoxy resin is a very hard strong material and would give far better results than conrete. I would like to add this is a "to get me started" plan, I would eventually buy a good quality steel anvil once funds are available. I can make this anvil for around £75 to be able to get my forging as soon as possible so do you think this would be a useable anvil ??
Many thanks for your time.
Steve Hewer
   steve. - Monday, 06/13/11 03:38:04 EDT

DIY Epoxy-Steel Anvil :
Steve, Epoxy is fairly expensive for the little mass it provides. The primary goal of anvil making is compact solid mass. The secondary goal is features (horns, hardy hole. . .). The money spent on epoxy would be best spent on steel (or a used anvil). Your budget is sufficient to purchase a very nice used anvil.

The 10mm steel plate has insufficient mass and strength. Backing it with epoxy will do no good. Repeat hammer blows are going to dish the steel and break the epoxy. You need something as heavy as possible for the working face (18 to 25mm or more). You would be better off spending your money on a small compact mass of steel rather then larger distributed mass.

Currently good used anvils are selling cheap in the UK. While those on ebay are going high, many good usable anvils are not. I also have prices from various correspondents who bought at boot sales for much less than ebay prices. Shop around for the real thing OR heavier steel.
   - guru - Monday, 06/13/11 04:10:46 EDT

Anvil fabrication : Well, you could do all that, and still not have an anvil worth shooting, or working on. I suggest you phone all the forklift rental and servise places nearby and ask for a piece of a broken forklift tine I could sell you a nice piece but it would cost too much to ship it to UK good luck. oh, see Godfrey South www Darenth Valley Forge UK he is selling a real anvil when he emmigrates to Canada in Sept.
   - danny arnold - Monday, 06/13/11 07:54:47 EDT

Railway line : What carbon content would you expect in railway line? For a physics demonstration I have hardened some by quenching from cherry red in cold water. The file just skates over it!
   - philip in china - Monday, 06/13/11 07:59:24 EDT

Made up anvil : Steve, If you look in the Gurus Den on 31 March 2008 at 18.04 EST (which is 1 April in much of the world) you will find an account of making an anvil. Why would you use epoxy?? Almost no mass in it! Just get a big lump of steel if you can't afford a conventional anvil.
   - philip in china - Monday, 06/13/11 08:15:25 EDT

Anvil Fabrication : Steve, Phillip Etal, We have a whole series of anvil making articles that can be found from our FAQ's or Anvil Gallery. However, Steve's description of fill sounds like he read those articles. The only filled anvils we show are those of Daniel Boettger. However, his have a 1" top plate and are ribbed underneath. Solid steel fill would be much better and I show ways of doing that.

   - guru - Monday, 06/13/11 09:27:14 EDT

RR-Rail Steel : Phillip, It varies from 40 to 82 point carbon steel depending on the manufacturing method and size. Generally the larger the rail the higher the carbon content. See our Junkyard Steel FAQ.

I've had RR-rail steel crack when water quenched from too high a temperature.
   - guru - Monday, 06/13/11 09:34:02 EDT

I am citing the Arema (The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association) 2007 document, Part 2 "manufacture of Rail"

Standard rail steel:
.74 to.86% Carbon,
.75 to 1.25% Manganese,
.10 to .60% Silicon
Minimum Brinell (of unhardened surface) 310 or 370 dependant of grade ordered.

Low Alloy Rail Steel
.72 to .82% Carbon,
.80 to 1.10% Manganese,
.25 to .40& Chromium,
.10 to .50% Silicon
Minimum Brinell (of unhardened surface) 310, 325, or 370 dependant of grade ordered.
My document shows the following breakdown for grades:
SS = standard strength (brinell 310)
HH = Head Hardened (brinell 370)
LA = Low Alloy Standard Strength (brinell 310)
IH = Low Alloy Intermediate (brinell 325)
LH = Low Alloy Head Hardened (brinell 370)
   Thomas P - Monday, 06/13/11 16:27:20 EDT

Steve, you mention cost as a driving factor and then say you want to spend more money than one would expect to to make a very inferior anvil. This perplexes me. Get a large chunk of steel in compact format (not channel or I beam). You now have an anvil and should have spent only "scrap rate". Start hammering!
   Thomas P - Monday, 06/13/11 16:30:25 EDT

welding over Rust Kutter : I'm using some rusted steel for an exhaust hood over my forge. I treated the metal with Rust Kutter which is a phosphoric acid based rust converter. Subsequent welds on the treated metal had significant porosity. I didn't thing about it before but I understand that the acid reacts with the iron oxide to form a black coating (ferric phosphate?). Is it the remaining phosphorus that vaporizes in the molten steel to form these gas pockets? Any thoughts or experiences with this? Are the fumes particularly dangerous like welding galvanized metal?
   Gil - Monday, 06/13/11 16:41:03 EDT

Gil, The coating is pretty nasty to weld through and should be ground off. I do not know of specific hazards but I know the fumes are rather noxious. Between the bad welds and the fumes why not grind?

You did not say what welding process you are using. MIG is very sensitive to paint and coatings and can result in downright foamy looking welds. In dirty conditions coated rods do a better job.
   - guru - Monday, 06/13/11 18:54:08 EDT

I can offer that most valves and fittings in the high pressure arena are either painted or Posphate conversion coated. My experience is with the phosphate conversion coated materials.
We stick welded huge amounts of the phosphate conversion coated parts, with little to no prep. These were over the years, Iron phosphate, magnesium phosphate and micro iron phosphate coated and all were air dry oil dipped. The coatings in no way affested stick weld using E-7018, or the chrome moly alloy sticks for the chrome moly parts.
TIG was a very different case. The tig tungstons were very short lived if the coatings were not removed. We never much MIG'ed these so I can't offer much help.

On a different note, many of these coating sold to the public have other chemicals such as a latex binder to provide an air seal and make a primer for later paint. Don't know the Rust Kutter, but the Henkel Loctite brand XTEND, and the Permatex Rust Treatment are both excellent, make the nice black coating and have a latex base.
   ptree - Monday, 06/13/11 18:54:15 EDT

For welding through nasty surfaces I find E6011's to be the best. They do not make the smoothest weld but they stick through anything.
   - guru - Monday, 06/13/11 20:00:53 EDT

For cutting through oil, grease, rust paint and farmyard crud, E60XX series are good. I prefer where possible to gain a clean bright metal surface with a bevel and run E7018 on plain carbon steels. Makes a good penetrating, low porisity, smooth bead weld and has excellent strenght.
We welded boilers with E7018 for all the plain steels as well as high pressure seal welds on valves. At VOGT the quality came first, and since I learned E7018 practice, I have stayed with those. They do run much better on a good welding machine. Since I have a very decent DC machine in the shop and a motor-generator Lincohn SA-200 outside E-7018s run well in all position and make a very nice appearance weld as well.
In welding class we ran E6010 and E6013, with the thought that if you could make a decent looking weld with those anything else was easy.
   ptree - Tuesday, 06/14/11 07:09:53 EDT

Welding thru paint, rust, etc. : Thanks for the info regarding welding thru phosphate conversion coats. I was using a MIG to weld thru the Rust Kutter mainly because they were small welds on relatively thin material and I had small wire in the welder. Since I normally use that machine for thiner, clean material, I was not aware of its sensitivity to coated steel. Bottom line is to weld before treating the rust. For heaver material I use one of my AC stick welders. I'm not blessed to have a DC machine but the AC units have served me well. I agree that when welding thru crud, it's hard to beat the old work horse E6011. I like E7014 also because it runs easy and gives a pretty weld but does not penetrate as deep. Thanks again.
   Gil - Tuesday, 06/14/11 11:08:24 EDT

welding rust with MIG : Really doesn't work too well, generally speaking, whether you d it before treating with phosphatizing agents or after. MIG doesn't like much of anything other than fresh clean metal free of any contaminants including rust. Light atmospheric rust will be okay, but anything much heavier than what you can easily wipe off with a Scotchbrite pad will leave porous welds. The smaller the wire you're using the worse the porosity will be, too.

The only way I've had any real success using MIG over rust is to use DualShield wire and up the argon/CO2 flow about 20%. The flux in the DualShield makes it handle much rust better. The downside is that the stuff is pretty expensive. Grinding or sanding the rust off is still the best way to go.
   - Rich - Tuesday, 06/14/11 15:15:37 EDT

Clean : Is the right way and the best way to go any time it is possible and no matter what the weld process. Occasionally it is not possible and then MIG should be avoided. Even light scale can make bad MIG welds in many cases. I used to weld repair a lot of auto exhaust systems and there was often more rust than solid metal. . . E6011 was the was to go.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/14/11 15:42:53 EDT

black oil finishes : Hi Guru,
I am have a job making a lot forged iron beer tap handles. They would ideally be black. What I do now is to heat up the tap handle in a gas forge and when it is almost starting to glow i take it out and dunk it in linseed oil. I take it out and burn off and excess and hand wire brush off all the charred stuff. After it cools i put another coat of linseed oil on when it is warm and wipe it dry. This process isn't so bad if i am doing a few but for a lot it is quite time consuming. Do you know if there is any quicker way to make the iron black and give it some rust preventing? I am wondering if there is a wax with a pigment or something like that i could use.

Thanks for any advise
   Erik Newquist - Tuesday, 06/14/11 19:26:37 EDT

Black Oil Finish :
Yep, There is a wonderful highly scientific durable easy to apply product. Its called PAINT.

Paint is made out of oils (or other medium), waxes, driers, pigment and a solvent or thinner to make it the proper consistency to apply. If you search around the web you will find blacksmith's formulas for oil finishes modified with wax, Japan dryer (a cobalt compound) and solvent (or various combinations of the same). Some even have graphite for pigment. This is DIY, backyard, untested, amateur PAINT.

So why not purchase a durable tested product made by people with degrees in chemistry, access to compounds you can only imagine, laboratories to test the results and centuries of experience????? A $5 can of industrial enamel is 10 times better than any DIY concoction.

Your burnt oil finish is NOT going to hold up under the typical duty of a beer tap handle that may get pulled a thousand times a day. For this application I would want the strongest most durable finish possible. That would either be a two part epoxy OR baked on powder coat. I personally would go with epoxy over a clean descaled and primed surface.

Since you are going for straight black this is easy. But if you want classy work with some shading and highlights then apply the initial finish first then use a hand rubbed finish such as Baroque Art Gilders Paste from Blacksmiths Depot. Colors applied this way are not very durable BUT if the added color is in depressions, along chamfers and anywhere that does not stick out then wear is unlikely.

Sounds like an interesting project.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/14/11 20:47:52 EDT

black oil : I've been spraying sculptures with semi gloss polyurethane, it blackens the steel somewhat and a few coats wear well and is easy to redo
   - larry - Wednesday, 06/15/11 04:18:12 EDT

My favorite paint for iron products where black is called out is a Krylon product, "Tough Coat" Acrylic enamel in the Max Flat Black color. Applied over the same brand and line's Red Oxide primer I find fast build, excellent drying time in off perfect temp's and since it comes in a spray can easy to deal with. The spray nozzle is much higher quality than most spray cans and gives a very nice rich finish. The Max Flat Black is the closest to a oiled finish I have found, and properly applied gives very good service outdoors and truely excellent service indoors.
   ptree - Wednesday, 06/15/11 07:15:27 EDT

There are quite a few cold galvanizing paints available on the market, sometimes relatively cheap. They are all basic primer gray with a rough flat finish. For outdoor stuff, I put a coat or two, then top it with whatever color finish (usually black high gloss). Airgas sells it, I got an aerosol can of it at an electrician supply shop for $3.49.

I did, however make my own wax by melting some old candles, a chunk of beeswax and used motor oil. Mixed it all up and poured into plastic tubes. When solidified, I cut them free and use them as finishing sticks. Apply at a low black heat and rub into with a cloth. Sometimes I use a wire brush. For folks who like the blackened forged look with stainless, I highly recommend it as opposed to paint.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 06/15/11 12:12:28 EDT

Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die..
As the old song implies, we all want the look of raw steel, while hoping to avoid the inevitable fact that steel rusts.

I actually love raw steel as much as the next guy, and, for indoor only stuff, often will wire brush, then spray with clear acrylic krylon, either matter or semigloss, from the can. This is a finish that looks great, and has a limited lifespan, but indoors, it can go for years.

For production work, I have had a LOT of stuff commercially painted. And commercial paint, quality and lifetime wise, is far far superior to any mix of wax and oil and pigment you can come up with.

I was particularly happy with a place that used to spray a textured black poly paint for me, that was baked after spraying. It was a low gloss, and they would spray once, then adjust the nozzle for a spatter, and spray again, before baking. This resulted in a thin, textured, low gloss black that was very tough- I still have a lamp by my bedside from about 88 that is finished this way, and it still looks great. And does not look like rattlecan gloss paint.

I also have had literally thousands of pieces powdercoated, and found that for indoor use, powdercoat is great- and it is available in hundreds of textures and colors that, again, dont look like paint. Many of these leather looks, veins, and wrinkles actually work very well with forged iron work, and are well worth the slight upcharge from straight black gloss powder.

I find that on ironwork, gloss paint, especially black gloss, is the worst looking stuff you can put on- it shows every imperfection, it scratches easily, and it doesnt age well at all.

But I am 100% behind the Guru in agreeing that commercial paint is worth paying for, and is always much better than garage recipes.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 06/15/11 13:48:14 EDT

Finishes :
It is easy to get locked into a favorite finish and forget that each application may need something different. There is a big difference in the needs for indoor and outdoor work. Handles can be light duty such as on cabinets, medium duty such as on entry doors or heavy duty such as on commercial/public entry doors and in this case, a beer tap handle.

In a heavy use food service application I would want the hardest most wear resistant finish I could find. That is why I suggested epoxy. I would probably use an industrial resin, not paint, and dip the handles. The trick here is that the resin can setup very fast and the larger the container the faster it sets due to generating more heat. I would not mix a bucket full but maybe enough in tray to roll the parts in OR to pour it over the parts.

Mixing up too much resin or more than you can use in about 5 to 15 minutes can be a big expensive mistake. Epoxies are notorious for setting up much faster than you expected. When dealing with these resins you want everything to be disposable since it is nearly impossible to remove or clean out hardened resin. Parts to be coated should be prepared to be hung in some way that drips or runs are not too apparent. Note however that due to the hardness of the plastic it can have drips filed off and polished to where you would never know they existed.

For light duty indoor finishing a lot of smiths use clear Krylon. Daniel Boone buys the stuff by the case. But he also has a vibratory finisher to clean off most of the scale and provide a uniform clean finish.

For outdoor work the only thing I have had luck with is a three step process of cold galvanizing, primer and top coat. This can be a good 20 year finish. If you think that is forever, it is not. The last thing I painted that way for a customer was over 20 years ago. THAT paint job was a repaint after 8 years. It may be due again but I doubt that I will be the one to do it IF it gets painted again by the family that purchased the work. Time flies. . .

The cleaning prior to finishing is a big part of the job that many smiths leave out of their estimates then get in with trouble later. Big pieces often need to be commercially grit blasted if not at least gone over every square inch with a power wire brush. While nothing is perfect grit blasting and chemical cleaning get into more places than a wire brush or manual cleaning.

Big architectural jobs are best cleaned by commercial folks that specialize in it. These are often the same folks that may apply the paint. Unless you are a big shop with lots of helpers it is best to contract this work out. Get a quote and include it in your bid.

While black is easy like Henry Ford said "Any color you want as long as its black", it is very boring. But it is what many folks think iron work should look like and they can't imagine anything else. I have a project I need to do that I am going to paint "Kelly" green with dark green to nearly black shadows. I know it will look great but Sheri wants it black. . . She cannot imagine ironwork any other way.

Many smiths don't think about it but the finish is half the job and MAY be half the cost.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/15/11 14:41:39 EDT

And here is when I'd recommend hand forged stainless and chose an alloy that will stand up to food service usage and cleaning!

As another way to go: hand forged silicon bronze! but be sure they will be happy with the patination/wear look.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/15/11 18:14:32 EDT

Actually in this case hand forged aluminum might even be better. You would get the hammered look, scrolls or what not AND light weight. The AL can then be anodized to prevent corrosion and give it a wear resistant surface and THEN you can apply a hand applied finish if you like.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/15/11 18:52:46 EDT

Heretic! (was that my outside voice?) You make some good points about Al.

I think that the base issue is that a lot of us smiths will *make* an item *before* figuring out the finishing of it---when it's a major part of the planning process and as mentioned can shift the material choice *severely* to get the best mix of forging and finishing for the intended use.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/15/11 20:27:39 EDT

Being a beer tap handle, in a bar environment AL would not be my choice. Think acidic beer, washed by alkaline cleaner. I would guess that the stem it will be screwed on will be steel or brass.
Can you spell galvanic corrosion?

I have seen the threads eaten off operating stems in valves used in tomato paste cooking operations that were 410 SS and 316L SS. NOT worn off EATEN off. The tomato paste is very acidic, and after cook cycle the splatered tomato juice and paste was cleaned with an alkaline wash down, and this was repeated every 20 to 30 minutes. The acid to alkaline swings would never let the proper oxide film protect the metal.

I am trying to think when I have ever seen aluminum fixtures in food service. Pots and pans yes, fixtures no.
   ptree - Wednesday, 06/15/11 21:08:50 EDT

Finish and Maintenance : Paint, oil, wax? What you really need is diligent servants! Someone to clean, polish and maintain the metalwork every doo-daa day! All of those bronze cannon barrels weren't green in the old days; that's what Privates were for. Spit and polish! Now, put someone to work!

;-) (Just kidding, but half serious; one could get used to a large labor pool.)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 06/15/11 21:21:46 EDT

Black Finish : Would a good commercial hot Black Oxide hold up on a beer tap stem?
Is the actual handle steel or is there some sort of plastic or wooden knob?
   - Tom H - Wednesday, 06/15/11 21:37:00 EDT

Aluminum barware : Doesn't work. Ptree is correct, the constant pH shifts of cleaning and use will destroy aluminum rather quickly. One reason that commercial bar equipment is so much more expensive than residential is that it is all made with stainless where otherwise aluminum would be used - condenser/evaporator coils, basins, bins, tubs, utensils - all are stainless or bronze. A number of beer distributors have even gone to stainless steel kegs because of corrosion problems with the aluminum ones.

Having owned and operated a bar and restaurant, my first choice for forged tap handles would be silicon bronze. Easy enough to forge, no maintenance to speak of, and no corrosion problems, plus it is as strong as steel in that application.
   - Rich - Wednesday, 06/15/11 21:53:48 EDT

Epoxy resin & paint: : Epoxy resin does not work well as a paint. It tens to runn drip & sag a lot before it cures. I used it with a pigment, it was a fight all the way.

Epoxy paint is formulated to be used as a paint, and is a whole lot easier to use, but usually comes as a 2 gallon package.

No epoxy, resin or paint takes UV well, and they will chalk excesively if not protected with a UV resistant paint. LPU like Imron over epoxy works well.
   - DaveBoyer - Wednesday, 06/15/11 22:58:22 EDT

Epoxy Resin & Paint : I've had good and bad experiences with both. I've used up a few gallons of Devcon steel filled industrial resin as molding material and a few gallons of resin for fiberglass. All of it set rock hard, some a little faster than expected. . The last epoxy paint I dealt with was applied by others in cold damp weather. It was applied to a special wood deck that part of a machine that we had to stand on a few days later. . . It never set right. Pulled the heals off one guys shoes and ripped the surface of the plywood up on another's. We had to have the deck replaced on the job. . . . I've not been a fan of epoxy paint since even though it was probably user error.

   - guru - Wednesday, 06/15/11 23:59:14 EDT

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