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 1 - 7, 2012 on the Guru's Den
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power hammer : Hey guys I just finished rebuilding my power hammer. I used some design ideas from the X1 build you guys posted. Here is the you tube link http://youtu.be/SJ5RAxkzzpw I thought you all would like to check it out.
   T. Van Krevelen - Friday, 06/01/12 00:36:07 EDT

Thomas, Thanks for the mention. Seems to be hitting harder than in the past. But the heavier anvil you used will help that. Looks like you used my spring arrangement but its hard to tell from the video. Hope it works well for you.

In the future the springs will have only one hole (at the bottom) and be clamped at the top with bolts on either side. This will reduce the likelihood of the springs breaking at the top bolt hole.

Nice tong making demo.
   - guru - Friday, 06/01/12 01:23:12 EDT

Green Anvil : I've just acquired a 150 lb. anvil stanped (impressed)GREEN. Any idea where it might have come from? The family thought it might have come across from Ireland when the first family members came to Canada. DOn't know if that's possible since the anvil doesn't show much wear and since the early settlers had a blacksmith business.
Jim Anderson
   Jim Anderson - Friday, 06/01/12 08:27:33 EDT

Jim, These are a mid 19th Century anvil. Enough were sold here that Richard Postman says he has seen a number of them. Since they are fairly un-common they may have been sold in Canada more than the U.S.
   - guru - Friday, 06/01/12 17:55:10 EDT

I forgot to say "English" anvil. Green was one of over 200 makers in England.
   - guru - Friday, 06/01/12 20:27:52 EDT

Didn't get here yesterday, but another option for fixing the copper is copper phosphorus filler rod. It requires heat similar to brazing, but no flux is needed, and there should be a reasonable color match.

Either brass or copper phos brazing, however, will require heat high enough to anneal the copper. If the vessel is work hardened, and most are, it will get a *lot* softer if you anneal it. The only way to reharden would be to work it more, which likely won't be practical.

So soft solder may well be the best choice.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 06/02/12 07:48:28 EDT

Built up anvil for power hammer : I finally started construction of the anvil base for my power hammer and have succeeded in welding together 24 pieces of 3/4 rebar with six pieces of 3/8" rebar to fill the gaps on the sides so that the tension of the bands will be more evenly distributed when I apply them. I am now dressing the top and bottom using a technique I learned in apprenticeship classes. By plumbing the the sides of the anvil base I was able to use my level to mark a line completely around the assembled rebar. This line should give me a fairly level surface when I cut along it. I can then dress it with my angle grinder and a file to even things up before I weld on my top and bottom plates. Cutting along this line is what I am wondering about at the moment.

I do not have a port-a-band nor do I have access to a large band saw to make these guts. I therefore must use either my angle grinder or my sawsall. I am leaning towards using my angle grinder to complete this step but I am very open to suggestions if anyone would care to make one.

The current dimensions of the anvil base are 5.5" X 5.5" X ~36". It contains about 220 pounds of material.

Thanks for any advice on making these cuts.
   - Bill - Saturday, 06/02/12 20:48:59 EDT

Built up anvil for power hammer : Bill, You did not say how the pieces were cut in the first place OR how much material needs to be cut off. If the pieces were saw cut reasonably accurately to start then you should have been able to weld one end as flat and true as needed. The other end should only need the high spots ground off. Starting as accurate as possible and working to the best accuracy is a LOT easier than fixing it when you are done.

I doubt the method used to mark the surface is true or straight enough considering the rough re-bar surface you started with and the rough surface to mark on. I'll assume the re-bar was free scrap and not a choice. . .

I would clamp this assembalage to something vertical and just start grinding. Using a framing square from ONE reference line I would check the surface swinging the square across the surface. Mark and take off the high points as you go. When done with what should be the bottom you should have about an 80% flat surface. Flip the part and start on the other end. Try to use the same reference line. The top needs to be 90% flat or more for good contact under the anvil cap.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/02/12 21:58:27 EDT

Cannon Steel : I couldn't sleep so I might s well make a post. :-)
I remember several years ago, when the government stopped a ship headed for Iraq ( I think ). They confiscated pipe that was labeled
as " water pipes ". However, the agents said this was not pipe, but tubing to be used in a super cannon. They said it was made out of beaten, layered steel. Apparently, steel can be laminated just like combining fiberglass, wood, etc. when making a laminated bow. Is this assumption correct ? Are all cannons made in this manner ?
   Mike T. - Sunday, 06/03/12 04:07:07 EDT

Super Cannon : I believe it was said that a super cannon would be able to shoot a shell all the way from Iraq to Israel. I don't know how far that is, but sounds impressive. I think I read where the confederates could fire railroad mortar shells all the way from St. Petersburg into Richmond, about 20 miles away, which is pretty impressive to me.
   Mike T. - Sunday, 06/03/12 04:14:38 EDT

8" howitzer : In the peacetime army stationed in Germany, in the mid 1950's, we had the 8" howitzers pulled by a track. They had a max effective range of 11 miles.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 06/03/12 09:11:13 EDT

Built up anvil for power hammer : The rebar was not free but it was the best scrap I could find in quantity for this project. Everything else seems to have been run over by the yard's bulldozer or otherwise mangled.

I did one end of each bar cleanly and was able to line them up so that they only need a little dressing to make them even. I didn't cut the other ends because I wasn't thinking far enough ahead. I admit I was feeling rushed to get something completed before I got interrupted again but that really isn't an excuse. (Haste does make waste.) However, the end that needs to be cleaned up doesn't need much work. The 3/8 rods I applied to fill the gaps on the sides are a little longer than the rest but the variation in the 3/4 bars is maybe 1/8 from the shortest bar to the longest. I felt using a cutting disc on my angle grinder would be faster than grinding them down. If you think I will get a better result with a grinding wheel I am perfectly willing to do that.

My next stage will be to apply bands around the rebar to reduce the flex and spring when the hammer impacts the anvil. I was thinking it might be worth trying to make the bands fit cold and then take a sliver off the end before heating them, fitting them back on and then welding them. I don't know that I could complete their positioning before they cooled though. There is also the real risk of getting a few burns while attempting the fit. Have you any suggestions for getting the bands to fit as tightly as possible? I am planning to use one inch wide by quarter inch thick stock for the bands.
   - Bill - Sunday, 06/03/12 09:53:50 EDT

Howitzer : Mr. Turley....believe it or not, a while back, I saw on the news where the army wanted the return of the howitzer.
   Mike T. - Sunday, 06/03/12 10:21:53 EDT

The Iraqi SuperGun project was ended when the British designer of the gun, Gerald Bull, was assasinated, presumably by the Israelis. He succeeded in building the prototype, the Baby Babylon, in Iraq, which was about 150 feet long and had a 350mm bore- about 140" dia.

Parts of the bigger gun were seized by customs officers in Middlesbrough, UK, in 1990, two weeks after Bull was killed, but I am unaware of any parts of the bigger gun ever being seized at sea, or by US Navy ships. The EU did the investigation and found companies like Forgemasters of Sheffield had made the parts, under the guise of "pressure vessels". I cant find anything online that indicates it was anything but ordinary forgings, not some fancy laminate. Most of the big gun parts were either never made, or never made it to Iraq.

Of much more concern to the Israelis, and to the Iranians, were the 150mm guns that Bull designed for Saddam, that were actually built, and used- evidently he was a very good artillery designer.
   - Ries - Sunday, 06/03/12 10:44:40 EDT

Built up anvil for power hammer :
I am not a fan of cut-off wheels on hand held grinders. They are VERY dangerous, several people I know have been maimed and blinded using these. The wheels often hang in the cut and kick back. They are also more likely to break and throw of significant chunks which can injure the user. Grinding the surface down with a heavy angle grinder is slower but much safer.

There are numerous ways to measure and square the ends but it depends on the tools and materials you have available A large piece of angle iron to use like a V-block can be very helpful. A heavy bench where you can tack weld a reference bar to square against would also work.

If the stack of re-bar was welded together in places along the bars as it was bundled then bands will not make it tighter. The external bands help to tie the outside bars together. IF you want to "shrink" the bands on, make a snug fit with a gap of about 3/16" on the ends when clamped tight. Then preheat the ends of the bands and weld them. The weld metal in the gap will shrink considerably and tighten the bands. After they have cooled weld them to the bars.

It you look at how my flat bar built up anvil anvil is made ALL the bars are joined on the outside by welds and the bands. The anvil cap also contacts all the bars even if smaller than the outside dimensions. While this is not perfect it has proven very solid. We used both of the built up anvils shown in the article on our X1 hammers.

Another good way to use slender bar stock is to put it into a tube, forcing the last pieces in. If small pieces are used for fill they should be tight fits. Then weld and grind the ends. If the tube you start with is square on the ends then the bars and welds can be trued to the tube using a straight edge. The result also looks very clean.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/03/12 11:46:14 EDT

Super Guns :
Apparently the trick to very long range guns is targeting. The basic ballistics is pretty simple physics but windage is much more critical at very long range. You need good weather data and a sophisticated computer program for accurate targeting. A decade or so prior to the Israeli-Iraqi war targeting a super gun took a super computer. But by then a good desk top computer could do the job. Technology changes are often applied to making war sooner than later.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/03/12 13:49:40 EDT

As I understand it,,
Some cannons could be made by forgewelding strips into a tube then subsequently forgewelded strips wound around the tube to produce the basic cannon. I expect some kind of lathework was performed to true up the forged assembly.
The Super Gun as I also understand it, Had multiple propellant chambers fitted into the length of the barrel. They would be ignited in sequence to maintain barrel pressure as the projectile moved along, This was done as it is easier to build the barrel to withstand multiple small charges vs- one huge propellant charge.
Speaking of gunbarrels, US. recently sold off several of their spare 16
   - Sven - Sunday, 06/03/12 14:40:15 EDT

Cannon Steel : Sorry, I tried to write... 16" tubes for their Iowa Class ships.
Stunning amount of forging and machine work to go off to become razorblades.

I say a chunk of its breech would have been a dream anvil for a JYH !!
   - Sven - Sunday, 06/03/12 14:45:15 EDT

Built up anvil for power hammer : With the rebar I first welded six bars side by side to create a "plate". These were squared before welding. I made five welds 1.5 to 2 inches long with 6013 rod evenly spaced along the length stitching each bar to the previous one. The next layer of bars was attached one at a time with one set of welds being made to the "plate" and one made to the bar previously attached. These bars were laid in the valleys of the "plate" to reduce the open space within the mass. The first bar in the new layer was welded on either side where it touched the "plate". This process was repeated until all of the bars were welded together. I then attached the 3/8 rods in the flutes that were left on the sides. Looking at it now and with the additional information I think it might have been a better option to weld each layer of bars to the top and bottom plates as I went along. Given that my hammer will only be about 20lb when completed I don't think this will prove to be a major problem but it is something I will keep in mind when building my next one.

Thanks for the information about angle grinders and the cutoff wheels. In my case the warning was unneeded. I have been through a number of safety courses and have taken them to heart. One danger rarely mentioned when discussing angle grinders in general is when a person gets too comfortable with them. This can result in a variety of injuries. In my opinion the worst is when the tool gets close enough to the user's clothing to catch hold of it. I was warned about this from a journeyman who had seen an apprentice have his belly torn open by the blade. I always wear safety glasses, face shield, earplugs and gloves when using one of these tools and I always make sure the guard is locked in place and the side handle is firmly seated before I use one. One other thing I try to do is make sure my upper body moves with the grinder if there is a kick back. Letting your arms move with it can cause the tool to hit you. Keeping your arms firmly in place and flexing your body with the jolt keeps the tool away from anything vital. It doesn't always work but it is a habit I think worth developing.

Thanks for the additional information, Guru, and I will let you know how my hammer progresses.
   - Bill - Sunday, 06/03/12 14:53:04 EDT

The welding to the end plates as you go would be an interesting way to go. However, even thick plate warps considerably when welded. They would probably need to be ground flat when finished but would be securely joined across the surface.

Good ideas often come too late. . .

Angle grinders catching in clothing is a significant hazard. Dave had it happen recently. Even small grinders can be dangerous. Luckily he was using my American made grinder which stops running when you let go of it rather than one of the cheap Chinese grinders that have locking switches. All it did was tear his shirt and bruise him a little.

The guard on all angle grinders can be adjusted angularly. This makes them easier to use if you take advantage of it. NEVER take them off! Being aware of what any tool is possibly going to do is important with hand tools.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/03/12 15:50:45 EDT

sawyers anvil : what were they for? What is tensioning a blade and how was it done thanks
   vern kelderman - Sunday, 06/03/12 17:10:24 EDT

Cannon Making :
Sven, The methods you are describing are very early wrought iron cannon forging. There was a great variety of ways to make early gun barrels including banding strips together.

Cannons were also made by casting in bronze and iron. Modern reproduction barrels are often cast then have a steel liner pressed in. Others are made from solid steel and machined in their entirety.

Modern gun barrels are both forged or DOM (drawn over mandrel) OR drilled and machined depending on the production rates and size of the barrel.

Really big barrels like those 16" cannons which were the pride of the U.S. Navy in WWII are pretty much a thing of the past. Heavy munitions are now delivered by plane or rocket. The "Super Gun" was a aberration being made for a country that could not afford a large air-force or rocket program.


The Union shelled Petersburg, VA (St. Petersburg is in Florida - or Russia) from the hill on the North Side of the Appomattox river with 10" and 13" powder filled bombs made of cast iron. The 13" "Dictator" rail mounted mortar had a range of 3600 yards (a little over 2 miles). These were pretty deadly. Wall thickness on these bombs was about 5/8".
   - guru - Sunday, 06/03/12 17:28:49 EDT

supercannons : Jerald Bull was indeed a very good designer. He tried to develop a cannon to put small satellites into orbit, and had near success working in the US. The super gun for Saddam was a muti-part flanged assembly with multiple propellent charges. The Nazi's almost got a smaller but similar gun in France aimed at London. The giant emplacement was bombed to destruction but still exists. I am pretty sure my Dad was on that raid.

As Frank Turley notes the US 8" howitzer has an 11 mile range, the improved 8" (203mm) self propelled guns I was around had about 11.7 mile range, and at that range the average distance between fall of shot if no changes are made is 50 meters. The computer program to calculate the firing solution uses info such as wind speed at various heights, atmospheric pressure and humidity, the temp of the propellant, the type of projectile, the number of rounds fired from that tube total and number in the last hour, as well and elevation of the firing point and the point of impact. Swing the tube one 1/4 mil the minimum azimuth or elevation change and the impact moves 50 meters.
Now try and calculate the solution for say 120 miles.
The Navies 16" battleship guns had rocket assisted projectiles that had 70 mile range, but the accuracy was iffy. But were used in Viet Nam.
The US Army's 175 had about 20 mile range, but the accuracy was poor and the tube life about 400 rounds.
Modern tube artillery uses a barrel with a replaceable rifled tube inside.
The propellent for these big guns was an extruded material with waraous shaped and number of holes in the extruded shape to control burning rate. Modern smokeless propellents are progressive burning so as the pressure increases so the burning rate increases so the projectile accelerates all the way up the tube. To go farther one needs a longer tube and more propellant, but you have to stage that propellant, or a too big charges over-pressures the system and "Cannon Cockers" hate it when the breach fails!
   ptree - Sunday, 06/03/12 17:30:47 EDT

Sawyers Anvil :
Vern, you answered part of your own question. A sawyers anvil has a large flat face and no other features. They were used for tensioning or tuning circular saw blades. The blade is mounted on a stand so it can be rotated horizontally over the anvil. The "tensioning" is done by hammering on the blade, usually in uniform circular pattern. The hammer used is much like a heavy front Japanese bladesmiths hammer or file cutter's hammer. The result "tightens" the blade so that it does not vibrate or wobble.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/03/12 17:45:37 EDT

Howitzer Barrel : When we were at the University of Maryland, College Park, back in the late '60s and early '70s, they built a new cyclotron for the Physics Department. As part of the shielding they used surplus howitzer barrels and there was an 18" (~1 cubit) cut-off in the scrap pile.

Well, we of the old Maryland Medieval Mercenary Militia (the predecessor of Markland MMM) figured that we could use a bombard, even if we hadn’t figured out what to do about a breach block or plug, so we sent a foraging expedition to "acquire" the barrel section.

And then we tried to move it... We could barely roll that sucker, and how we would lift it into the trunk of the car we had no idea. That puppy was deceptively heavy for such a small bundle. (This was before any of us consorted with anvils and such.)

Oh well, it was back to working on our first Viking ship, a project more within our capabilities, and on the whole more successful.

Artillery; it adds a whole new level of logistics to an organization, doesn’t it? ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 06/03/12 18:14:30 EDT

Built up anvil for power hammer : Minor update, Guru. About four and a half hours of plumbing and grinding has resulted in two very satisfactorily trued ends for my anvil base. Primarily I used a standard grinding disc on my angle grinder, then followed that with a flap disc AKA buffing disc. To clean it up I tried a tool normally reserved for wood projects, a belt sander. It worked exceptionally well. Now both ends are well within your stated specs and I am ready to band the bundle. Tomorrow will be another trip to the scrap yard in hopes of finding steel of the right thickness for the base plate.

One side note: Last weekend I stopped into the local flea market on a whim. To my utter surprise there was a gentleman there with a half horsepower electric motor capable of turning 1700 RPMs. Twenty dollars later found me walking off with said motor and a big grin. As it turns out the motor had never been installed and still had the wiring diagram in it. I've put a number of these on conveyors and am quite familiar with them. I even have a friend who will be able to wire it correctly for me when the time comes.
   - Bill - Sunday, 06/03/12 20:33:21 EDT

Motors and Wiriing :
Many electric motors have the wiring diagram on the outside but most have a sticker in the cover. If a motor has neither then negotiate the price DOWN. The older the motor the more this is true. But not all is lost, many manufacturers have their motor wiring instructions on-line. As long as the motor rating plate, frame and voltage are available the wiring should be available. If all else fails, take the motor to a motor shop. Note however, that a motor shop may charge you as much as the (used) motor is worth for this service if its a small motor.

Wiring an electric motor is fairly simple.

First, you need either heavy rubber (SO) cord rated for the motor OR connect the motor to the switch box with flex conduit and pull the appropriate size stranded (for flexibility) wires.

One wire, which should be green or marked with green tape is the ground. The ground is connected to the motor frame via a screw inside the connection box. Normally this screw is also marked green. Stranded wire should have a crimp on connector on the end of the wire to go under the screw. The other end of the ground is connected to the supply cord ground AND the inside of the metal switch enclosure.

If the motor is single phase there will be two power wires. If 120V the black or "hot" wire is switched on/off. If 220V then both the wires are switched - so it takes a different kind of switch.

The only tricky part of the wiring is making the internal connections in the motor box. These determine high or low voltage and the direction of rotation. The direction of rotation is as viewed from the shaft end. IF REVERSIBLE this is changed by swapping the location of two wires, usually #5 and #8.

In small motors (those under 10HP) plastic wire nuts are usually used to make the connections in the connection box. These need to be properly sized and then taped after the motor is tested. In large motors and high voltage 3PH motors copper split bolts should be used to make the connections. Once these are connected they are covered with self vulcanizing rubber tape and then regular vinyl plastic tape. These are the "deluxe" connection and can be used on smaller motors if you like. Due to wire sizes (I use heavier than necessary wire) we used a split bolt in the X1-hammer switch box for the grounds but wire nuts in the motor box.

The most difficult thing to do in some motors is reading the wire numbers. In modern motors they are printed on the wires and can be difficult to read on old motors. Some manufacturers use just numbers but others use letters and numbers, the letters are usually irrelevant but make the marking hard to read. Old motors had metal number tags crimped on the wires in the connection box. These are great if they have not be cut off. I've had the misfortune to work on such a motor. Maintenance men have also been known to cut the ID plate off motors (and machines) when going to get parts. . . This is an evil, vile, lazy practice.

Read the numbers, make the connections and you are ready to go. Typical connections:

Low Voltage
T1-T3-T8   T2-T4-T5
|   |
L1   L2

High Voltage
T1 T2-T3-T8 T4-T5
| | |
L1 * L2

Rotation clockwise as shown. Interchange T5 with T8 for counter clockwise rotation.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/03/12 22:32:00 EDT

A tip for women forging : Hard lessons learned are ones never forgotten. I have not been forging very long, only a couple of months. but I grew up a tom boy, and I know a few things about what and what not to do when you are working around things that are very hot.Learned not to wear anything synthetic, for example when I was 10 and we were hot taring the roof... by the way ouch, and still got the scars. But for some reason this thing never even popped into my head. we were having to do with a make-shift forge today to fill an order because our smithy is not quite done, and the other was taken apart. so I was over a cast iron stove putting lots and lots of wood on it for hours to get it hot enough... everything worked out, we made a great blade for our customer, and I went in and made dinner and put the hubby, and kid to bed and started to clean up and do the cloths... then my ribs started feeling like they were hurting, and it started to get to the point were I could not take it any more. I took my bra off, then lifted up my shirt to look at where it was hurting. it was at that time I saw the red lines with nice little white centers that would soon turn into blisters. after I took my shower they bubbled up quite nicely. I just never had it accrue to me that my under wire would get that hot, and burn me. but a warning to the few f females out there that forge and smith. go with cotten, and no under wire when around that much heat!
   Suzi McQuinney - Monday, 06/04/12 00:01:44 EDT

Metal Parts in Clothes :
Suzi, Men often learn this with pants zippers and campfires. Not a problem until one stands up and the hot zipper comes in contact with flesh.

While leather aprons are considered "traditional" they wear cotton in industrial forges. Leather can get hot and hot heat long enough to burn. Cotton is low density, has low conductivity and in the worse case smoulders. However, for protection from grinders, nails in shoeing and other mechanical hazards leather is best.

For heavy welding they make heavy insulated leather gloves. But for flexibility I prefer the leather palmed cotton backed gloves. They are inexpensive and when overheated they are quick to throw off. The tendency with the expensive welding gloves is to keep them after they are damaged. . . . Holes allow for burns from metal, sputter balls and UV. They must be tossed if they have the slightest damage.

Wet clothes or protective gear conduct heat and make steam which can scald. The water can come from spills, quenches, sweat. . . it does not matter. If you rapidly sweat soak gloves then you need multiple pairs for the day. Oil soaked gloves should not be used for hot work. Save them for material handling but do not use them for welding or forge work.

   - guru - Monday, 06/04/12 01:37:41 EDT

Suzi McQuinney : Suzi, that story is indeed an incredible one (and must have been painful). I have carried a Zippo lighter in my overalls top watch pocket for longer than I can remember. It will get hot enough that non smiths will drop it if I hand it to them. I have had women ask me to train them. Along with the 100% cotton speech I will no doubt talk of your post here. Thank you.

Steve O'Grady
Bloomfield Iowa U.S.A.
   Ten Hammers - Sunday, 07/15/12 13:15:02 EDT

Doug Hendrickson and hot metal : In the past, Doug would begin a demo and about 5 minutes into the work, he would jump back and holler, "My nipple rings; my nipple rings!" It was a yoke son; the egg's on you.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 06/04/12 09:51:25 EDT

I was welding once and a big sputter ball bounced under my glove and stuck to my watch right at skin level . . . I still have the scar.

At an ABANA demo an industrial smith was working with some heavy steel and his cotton apron caught fire. People in the audience kept trying to get his attention. . . He finally stopped and said, ". . #^$!& don't you think *I* KNOW when I'm on fire??? Its a daily occurrence working heavy steel! A part of the job."

Small burns are part of the job. Bits of scale while forging, sputter balls when welding, unexpected spots of sunburn from arc welding, singed hair from forge exhaust. . .
   - guru - Monday, 06/04/12 10:15:27 EDT

Forges : I have made a gas forge close to that of the Zoeller has on his site. I like this and it works well, save the problem i am having with controlling the pressure of the gas for the burners. Burners are like Ron Reil's gas burner. I am looking into setting up a coal forge for sword making, are there any good designs that you guys can recommend. I have a few 50 gal drums around and was thinking that cutting one in half may be a good idea but i can't seam to find any good designs, easy to follow.
   Shane - Monday, 06/04/12 10:25:58 EDT


A gas forge's pressure is controlled by a pressure regulator. Unless you have too big a forge for the size propane bottle you just turn it on, tweek the regulator if need be and let it run all day. If you have to constantly adjust the pressure then it is not "working well".

If you want a solid fuel forge that works the first time and works well, start with a commercial fire pot, tuyeer and blower and gate such as sold by BlacksmithsDepot. Put them in a forge table about 30" square with a 2 to 3" high edge and use a side draft hood. Otherwise keep it dead simple such as like an Oriental trough forge bellow which can be loose stacked from fire brick.

Oriental Forge drawing by Jock Dempsey

IF you make this forge just a little over a brick length wide then you can use bricks to change the fire depth, block of the back and so on. These forges are excellent for long work because you can push and pull the work through the fire for a long heat. This is primarily a charcoal forge as it does not have an ash dump. But it will work with good coal and if you clean it out to the brick with every fire.

As a charcoal forge they do not usually have a forge hood and stack, they just exhaust into the well ventilated shop. With coal it will need a hood. Just a large stack directly over the top will do the job.
   - guru - Monday, 06/04/12 12:38:01 EDT

Note that the above forge is traditionally used with an Oriental Box Bellows. setting to the left (air entry on opposite side of the above forge).
   - guru - Monday, 06/04/12 12:42:55 EDT

Im looking to replace my can of Pulmore 71502 and the farm store dosent sell it any more.
Any ideas for some sticky for my flat belts?

   - Dan - Monday, 06/04/12 12:49:17 EDT

belt dressing : Im looking to replace my can of Pulmore 71502 and the farm store dosent sell it any more.
Any ideas for some sticky for my flat belts?

   Dan - Monday, 06/04/12 12:50:25 EDT

sword forges : Shane, the only time you need to heat the full length of a sword blade is for heat treating. You can only forge 4" or so at a time, no need getting the rest of it hot.

This is where your 55 gallon drums will come in handy: line one with 1" of Kaowool or Inswool, and run a small gas burner in low on one end. With good pressure regulation (a regulator at the tank and a needle valve at the burner) you can hold the temp right at the 1475 degree mark.

Note that this is a horizontal forge, running it vertically leaves you with temperature gradient issues.

I have so far done all my sword hardening in a charcoal-filled trench rather like what the Guru showed, but it takes three bags of charcoal per shot. I'm building a drum forge for future use.
   Alan-L - Monday, 06/04/12 13:08:01 EDT

a link would help... : Here's all you need to know for a drum forge:
   Alan-L - Monday, 06/04/12 13:10:51 EDT

Belt Dressing : McMaster-Carr carries it and can be ordered on-line. However, like most of what they sell they are not brand specific. This is so they can change suppliers without changing their vast catalog.
   - guru - Monday, 06/04/12 13:31:27 EDT

Heat Treating Furnace :
The furnace Alan shows above uses a burner similar to our Simple Gas Burner


Note that these DO NOT need an orifice or special nozzle. They do need a burner block for durability. In my forge shown in the article the burner "block" was the gap between two bricks with high temperature refractory mortar to produce a semi round hole. You an do the same with kaowool and some ITC-100.

I often put a short piece of 1/4" pipe inside the "T" so that the gas discharges somewhere near the center of the pipe. But this is not necessary.

The critical (and expensive item) on such a furnace is the temperature measurement equipment. See Omega.com
   - guru - Monday, 06/04/12 13:54:34 EDT

Gas Burners : To further clarify the issue i had talked about in my question about Forges, i have 2 "new" 20lb propane tanks hooked up with a "T" connection going into an adjustable regulator. The regulator does work. But the downstream pressure, where the gauge reads, is 1-2 psig when the tanks are supposed to be at 50-100 psi based on the temp of the tank. I the hose connected to most of the system is 1/4" - 3/8" because of the type of hose i could get in my area. The only place that there is any kind of restriction other then the regulator is the connection into the propane tanks, which is about a 1/8" hole (standard "new" propane connection) and the .058" (Number 55 drill bit) hole into the burner. I have yet to figure out what is causing such a low pressure that i can't use my regulator. I am thinking it is the tanks or the connection to them but i am not for sure. If you guys have any advice it would be much appreciated.
   Shane - Monday, 06/04/12 15:20:25 EDT

Regulators and gas lines : Shane there are a number of things that can go wrong at the tank with the new valves. However, the regulator is most likely the problem. If you have taken the regulator from a standard propane device it will probably not work. Standard propane regulators for grills and gas furnaces produce VERY low pressure, measured in ounce inches or water column inches, not PSI. If the regulator is adjusted with a hex key, screw driver or wrench it is probably one of these.

If the regulator is rated for the necessary pressure (should be 0 to 30 or 50 PSI) and the gauge is reading correctly then there is probably an obstruction in the lines. If Teflon tape was used it commonly extrudes to the end of fittings and then wipes across the face. Sometimes it extrudes into strings that float down stream. Insects also build nests in hoses and fittings clogging them. These are often far enough up a hose that you cannot see them. Use a welding or coat hanger wire to clear them out.

So step one is to determine if you have the proper regulator.

Step two is to disassemble all the lines and fittings, inspect them, clear them, blow them out and reassemble. It does not hurt to test the gauges. If you have a high enough PSI gauge or can purchase one I would put one on the input side of the regulator (use a T fitting). On the other hand, you can always crack fittings loose and judge pressure by the sound of the leak. Test EVERYTHING. DIY orifices are particularly bad for picking up debris (such as Teflon tape) and clogging.

Low pressure gauges are notoriously inaccurate. Do not trust them. When folks say they are running 4 to 5 PSI they might be running double or half that. All my DIY forge burners have run 10 to 15 PSI and my big forge nearly 25 PSI.
   - guru - Monday, 06/04/12 16:03:13 EDT

according to my gauges. . . for whatever they are worth. . .
   - guru - Monday, 06/04/12 16:09:33 EDT

Gas Burners : The regulator i have is a 67CH-743-FS, from Fisher where i work, and what was recommended by Zoeller. The gauge works as i was able to connect directly to the tank and plug the outlet and i could vary the ammount of pressure read by the gauge up to 30 psig. I will disassemble everything and check it, it is all new so i am fairly sure that it is clean though. I will also check the DIY orifices and see what they look like. Is there a way to check the tanks themselves to make sure they have decent pressure? I am asking all this because i was able to hook the tank directly to my burner, from tank outlet to hose to burner (no regulator or obstruction) and the flame was the same as when i had the regulator hooked up.
   Shane - Monday, 06/04/12 16:40:06 EDT


Many of the new (ACME and maybe some other) propane fittings are designed to shut down if they experience excessive flow. And when you open the tank valve and there's empty hose downstream, the flow will be excessive. These safety valves don't close completely, but allow propane to flow through at a slow rate.

Make sure the valve at your burner is closed (you may need to install one if you don't have it). Then open the tank valve. If the pressure slowly increases, the safety valve is probably the issue. Wait until the pressure reaches the full regulator setting, then slowly open the burner valve. With any luck, things will work at that point. (With the fitting I have, I hear a click when the pressure equalizes and the safety valve opens.)

Of course lots of other things could be wrong, but I'd try what I describe first.
   Mike BR - Monday, 06/04/12 20:38:20 EDT

Shane : Following Mike BR's suggestions, open the propane tank valve really slowly, as this is when the flow can be great enough to close the safety valve built into the tank valve.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 06/04/12 21:30:29 EDT

Bad Propane Bottles : NEW does not mean clean. If assembled with Teflon tape it can be blocked new out of the box. I had a new Victor two stage regulator that one of the gauges did not work. The service guy pulled the valve, unclogged the small orifice and put it back on. Viola! I felt stupid.

The way to check propane bottles first is by weight. 20 pound cylinders have a tare weight of 18.5 pounds. Full they weigh 38.5 pounds. Anywhere between 25 and 30 pounds they should have good pressure unless frozen.

Then crack the valve of the cylinder for just a moment. There should be a good loud shhhush. . . If you have any experience with air or gas you should have an idea of the pressure. Two to 5 PSI just barely makes a hiss. 50 PSI is a good steady flow and 100 PSI is sounds like a lot of pressure.

If you are not sure then make up a fitting with a gauge for the tank.

I've had clogged equipment failures and its very frustrating. You have to test EVERYTHING old of new and no matter how simple. If you cannot see through it
   - guru - Monday, 06/04/12 23:36:00 EDT

. . . if you cannot see through it then it is not necessarily clear until you prove it.
   - guru - Monday, 06/04/12 23:51:53 EDT

Burns : I am responding to the previous posts on safety and burns. I was soldering something one time and a drop of solder popped up on my arm above my elbow. I remember it didn't hurt at all and I wouldn't have known it except I saw it visually. It did not get sore one bit, but there is a scar where the solder landed. All I can figure out is the solder was so hot, it deadend the nerves upon impact. I have also been cut very bad without knowing it. When I worked at a copper tubing plant,
I backed against a tube with a sharp, spear point on it. The foreman saw the blood dripping down my arm and ran over to see about me. He wanted me to go to the hospital and get it sewed up, but I was too stubborn. All I can figure out is that some cuts and burns happen in just the right way to either cut or deaden the nerves. Has anyone else had that experience ? Actually, it wouldn't hurt to check yourself over after working around hot or sharp things.
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 06/05/12 01:51:13 EDT

Burns & etc. : My cousin froze a small amount of tissue on His fingers where He stupidly held a plastic funnel while pouring liquid helium [-452f].
He said He never felt it, and it thawed out without causing any damage.

He thinks it froze to a rather shallow depth but quickly enough that there wasn't tissue damage from ice cristal growth.

Most likely He just got luckey.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 06/05/12 02:32:45 EDT

Cryogenic Burns :
A good friend had a small forest fire near his home and tried to stop it with a CO2 fire extinguisher (he was young and scared). He held onto part of the nozzle while directing the blast and froze his entire palm. Within a few minutes it blistered identical to a heat burn. It was pretty nasty and took a while to heal. There may have been warnings on the extinguisher. . but I do not remember.

Propane is also a cryogenic and can "burn" you with cold in certain situations.

Something to think about. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/05/12 09:10:22 EDT

Bints and forging : Another thing to think about is the effect of the glare from the forge on your skin. After prolonged exposure the skin starts to look like a boot. Probably not too much of a problem with a man but with....... the rest of this posting has been censored by Dempsey's equal opportunities filter
   philip in china - Tuesday, 06/05/12 09:14:56 EDT

cryo burns : At a previous employment where we refilled our own forklift propane tanks from a bulk tank I sent 2 employees to the ER when the experienced a leaking twist connect and tried to tighten barehanded.
   ptree - Tuesday, 06/05/12 10:07:58 EDT

water jet : hey Jock I've been paging through the advertisers and am searching for a reasonable water jet guy for sort of small jobs on a semi regular basis. Do you or someone else have a source
   tinker - Tuesday, 06/05/12 10:32:41 EDT

Waterjet cutting : Tinker, the knife guys have good luck with Great Lakes Waterjet. http://www.greatlakeswaterjetinc.com/
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 06/05/12 11:55:49 EDT

Water Jet : You might try Waterjet Cutting Services, Inc. - 129 Bradley Drive Lynchburg, VA. I have not tried them but they do a wide range of work in different materials including heavy steel.

Do you need water jet cutting in particular? It is relatively slow and expensive compared to other methods unless you absolutely need them. Plasma is faster and cuts a range of materials. LASER is more precise but limited in thickness. Good old fashioned flame cutting is the best for steel unless you cannot have the HAZ (Heat Affected Zone).

All these processes generally accept CAD drawings generally converted to DXF.

I've also been looking for small operations that are willing to do work in the 20's and 100's. . . .

   - guru - Tuesday, 06/05/12 12:24:44 EDT

Tinker are you willing to pay international shipping and customs or will you share with us what country you are in?

What might be a great deal in South Africa may not look so great if you are in Australia!

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 06/05/12 12:58:09 EDT

Nerves: being on an insulin pump O get to shove a cannula in my belly fat several times a week. I have noticed a great variety in sensitivity over that region with some places I really can't feel much and others so painful that they get skipped from the rotation.

Also when testing our blood sugar I was trained that the *sides* of the fingers have many fewer nerves than the pads and so preferentially stick the sides for a blood drop.
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 06/05/12 13:01:16 EDT

Word Filters : Phillip, not funny. Our word filter has only 25 forbidden words and most of those are spam specific drug names. The others are terms like the F word which have no place in a public forum. I recently had to remove one of the spammed drug names due to it being part of the word "specialist". Its a short list.

While our spam error messages are short and terse the system records the error and who made it. This is for tuning such as above OR blocking IP's of obvious repeat offenders. So far the bad guys try a few times and then go away.

Since setting up our forum spam filters we have had nearly ZERO problems. They work on many levels which I cannot discuss or I would be giving the spammers and trolls ways to get around them.

These filters are in place so that we can remain an open forum where the public can ask questions and volunteers can answer as always.

So far we have only had ONE innocent user get repeatedly caught in the
filters. I'm not sure "innocent" is a word to describe TGN :), but this has been because he has a neighbor on one of his automatically assigned IP's that is a high ranking commercial forum spammer that has been reported hundreds of times. If this becomes more of a problem I'll setup some kind of user bypass list. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/05/12 13:02:54 EDT

Memo to self: Do *not* take a sip of tea when reading Guru's posts---"I'm not sure "innocent" is a word to describe TGN" nearly caused a very embarrassing incident with my computer.....
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 06/05/12 16:19:38 EDT

Ha ha ha he he he. . . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/05/12 16:30:11 EDT

Innocent? Meeeee? Thomas may need paper towels hnady for the tea spew. Jock, you may already know, I post from home AND work, work being at 2 or 3 different locations. Whichever IP I am using, I would like to make sure it's not a bad one. I think it's the "free" wi-fi we use at the South St shop.

I'm pretty sure I am not innocent of anything.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 06/05/12 19:23:52 EDT

waterjet cutting : Wel to clarify some I'm in the upper penninsula of Michigan and perhaps the closest "metropolis" is the Green Bay area. I have been reasonably successful making a magnetic chess set with the table having alternate squares and pierced metal all in the 14 guage range. Originally I with my small plasma cutter cut the tops but severe warpage was and esthetic problem. I make as the mood strikes 4 or 5 a year and as I do this I get new ideas and eembellishments.

I'm looking for someone who I could send a drawing to and they could for a reasonable price make me a years worth. And the next year assuming I sell some make me a few more.

I hand forge the pieces except have madea dye to keep the pawns pretty much the same. The set is sort of designed to be on a patio or perhaps a beach cottage. I have a lot of fun with them.

   tinker - Tuesday, 06/05/12 19:37:19 EDT

two fingered typing : Sorry guys

wel should be well
and(line 4) should be an
madea should be made a

I try to keep my fingers and brain close to the same plane but once in a while in the presence of you experts I get excited
   tinker - Tuesday, 06/05/12 19:42:55 EDT

Chess Pieces and Boards : Chess boards. . . . a pain to make. We made ceramic chess sets back in the late 60's with wood boards. My dad made the boards using lumber core birch cutting grooves between the squares, then stained the squares and then grouted the grooves. Then molding was used to box it in and create legs. The chess pieces made from Dad's original patterns were relatively fast to mold and finish. . . Even hand finished sets went faster than the boards.

I've designed several chess sets and only got half way through making one. It was hand carved in clay. All the pawns had different details (faces with scars, patches, beards. . .) A couple of my "best" pieces got broken before firing and I threw in the towel . .

I've thought that a metallic board would be nice made from brass and steel or brass and stainless tiles. These could be pressed from finished sheet to give them a slopped tile edge and then glued to a piece of plywood with tile mastic. I've seen these somewhere so they may be available commercially. Another route to go is hot embossed tiles with some sort of decorative pattern. . . OR you could get real fancy and put a textured map spanning across tiles. . . Like they do the bas relief bricks at some McDonalds. . .

Lots of interesting ways to make chess sets and boards.

LASER cutting would probably be as warp free on this project as waterjet and probably cheaper.

   - guru - Tuesday, 06/05/12 21:45:25 EDT

Cutting Service : If what You need can be done by laser, contact Randy McDaniel http://www.drgnfly4g.com/ Water jet may ba available also, I don't know.

Randy is an acomplished artist blacksmith who has used laser cutting in some of His ornamental work, He understnds what needs to be done.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 06/05/12 21:46:01 EDT

More. . . : They make prefinished steel sheet in brass, chrome, brushed, polished, flat. . . and other finishes. The sheet would still be magnetic but could have a brass finish. . . Just an idea.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/05/12 21:47:55 EDT

A heat treating idea : Many times I’ve thought about the danger of warping a long blade such as a sword when lifting it out of the forge after heat soaking it. Now since casting is part of what I want to broaden out into in my metal working experience, I was going to build a large furnace out of a 50 gallon drum with say a 12” bore, very hypothetical measurements there, but this idea is still in the planning stages. So an idea I had I wanted to know what the merits or flaws in it were: I was planning on punching a hole at the end of the tang of my sword, suspending it in this furnace with a little pulley in a sliding rig, holding it at heat for the necessary space of time and when finished hoisting it out, pulling the work down the slide and dropping it into the quenchant in another 50 gallon drum a space down and insulated from the heat. Any thoughts or ideas on this plan? Thanks for your help and love your website.
   Wulf Martens - Tuesday, 06/05/12 23:44:56 EDT

Vertical Long Furnace :
Wulf, The dimensions you give mean a very thick wall in your furnace. In hard refractory it would weigh a ton and in refractory blanket the thickness would be overkill by about 4 times. It would be more practical to use almost anything else for a shell. If using a light weight material such as Kaowool refractory blanket the support can be made of expaned metal, sheet metal or air duct. Also note that many oils come in 30 gallon drums that are considerably smaller in diameter than 55 gallon drums but the same height. They are comparatively rare but a company that distributes lubricating oil may be able to help find one.

However, the problem with a vertical gas fired heat treating furnace is the temperature differential between the top and bottom, the top tending to be much hotter by several hundred degrees F. To determine how much difference or if positioning the burners at the bottom helps would require temperature measurements at several locations.

For long vertical heats it is common to use a molten salt bath. The convection currents in the salt keep a much more uniform heat. However this is a much more technical furnace to build and operate.

An option might be to build a tilting heat treat furnace. This is where that light weight refractory really come in handy. The furnace could be built on a pivot at the balancing point and the part to be heat treated supported on a relatively close spaced rack or long support inside the furnace. When its time to remove the part, tilt the furnace vertical and remove the item as you described, with a pole and hook. Metal rack parts (preferably stainless) could be coated with ITC-213 to reduce oxidation and scaling.

Lots of folks have had the same ideas. I've seen video of someone using a vertical furnace to heat treat swords but it was difficult to tell what type of furnace AND there was no indication that temperature differential had been addressed. Just because someone has a video of their process on YouTube does not mean it is a good process. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/06/12 08:53:43 EDT

vertical HT furnace : I do know of a couple of folks who have gotten them to work via clever use of two burners, baffles, muffles, solenoids, and dual-input pyrometers to keep the differential within about 25 degrees F from top to bottom, which is pretty darned good. Oh, and Tim Zowada can set you up with vertical electric kiln segments which can be stacked and run off a PID controller to vary the heat from section to section, keeping it within 10-20 degrees F, which is really the best you can hope for, but they are not cheap.

But what always gets overlooked is that with most sword blade types drooping at hardening temperatures is not an issue. Yes, you do have to be careful with it, but they generally do not bend under their own weight until you get much hotter. Many people do put hangers made from heavy stainless inside for insurance, but it's not really necessary.

The whole idea of the drum forge being a 55-gallon drum is the interior volume. A small burner (Don Fogg's uses a mostly choked 10cfm blower and a barely open needle valve on the gas) provides heat, which then diffuses evenly in the huge open space. Folks have tried building them with big burners from a normal forge, and the result is almost always an uneven heat front-to-back that requires a kiln shelf baffle above the burner to even out. Even a 3/4" T-rex venturi is too much burner for one of these if not carefully adjusted to the minimum flame it will produce.

   Alan-L - Wednesday, 06/06/12 10:44:44 EDT

Vertical HT Furnace : Alan-L/anyone: So from what i am reading there is a difference of opinion on HT furnaces. Which option when set up works better a vertical or horizontal one, and what are some of the pros and cons of each. Also Alan-L do you happen to have plans for a vertical furnace? I have not gotten to the point of needing one but the more information i can get on them the better off i will be when i get to that stage.
   Shane - Wednesday, 06/06/12 11:17:07 EDT

The professional swordmaker I worked with had a vertical furnace, inert gas filled and electrically heated with ramping controls.

As *real* swords are very thin they will sag under their own weight! Remember that for nearly 1000 years in Europe the weight of a using sword was about 2.5 pounds *finished* with guard, handle and pommel!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/06/12 12:34:27 EDT

Vertical Long Furnace :
If I was building one I would put the burner at the bottom near the floor tangent to the interior surface so the flame spirals around the surface and does not impinge on the work. Then I would vent the furnace at about 2/3's of the way up so that the atmosphere is mostly static in the top. You would still need to do the temperature measurements.

Measuring temperature and using temperature controls is the difference between seat of the pants heat treating and doing a professional job. It is also not cheap, especially when you need multiple meters.

Some commercial furnaces use fans to reduce the temperature gradient. Typically a long shaft is used with the motor outside the furnace at some distance. Parts are usually stainless steel and coated with ceramic protectants.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/06/12 14:28:25 EDT

Forging : I am starting out blacksmithing and have done little more than read and research. 2 questions i had were what is a good size blank to start forging say a 4lb bearded axe and a good size blank for a trade style tommahawk?
   Lee S. - Wednesday, 06/06/12 17:34:54 EDT

Ahh Lee if you are just getting started you won't be doing a decent job on either of those items until AFTER you have some experience.

It's sort of like asking "Hi; I just got my driver's license, what engine should I get to win formula one races?"

For example a new student will often loose twice as much material to scaling as I would for the exact same piece---or end up burning up part of it. I start students off bladesmithing with about twice as much material as I think is needed to allow for mistakes.

Note that a 4 pound bearded axe would be most likely for wood chopping as fighting ones tend to be lighter---is this what you intend?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/06/12 17:47:26 EDT

Lee, Before such ambitious projects you will want to forge lots of little things out of 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" (8, 10 and 12mm) bar stock. Then try to make a spike axe from a RR-spike (about 3/4" square). When you are good at making these then practice forge welding. When you can repeatedly make a clean lap weld you are ready to try making an axe by the folding method.

Your question about a 4 lb bearded axe answers itself, a 4 lb piece of steel. In blacksmithing almost nothing is lost so if you need something X weight, then the blank should weigh about that much. Steel weighs .2835 lbs/cuin. So 4 pounds is a piece 14 cubic inches. A 1" square bar 14" long would work. This is a little simplistic but would work.

There are optimum shapes to start from. But then there is the reality of what is available and what tools you have to get to the starting shape. That 14 cubic inches could be cut from a piece of 1/2" (13mm) plate. How much? Simple math. At 1/2" thick you need 28 square inches. So take the square root of 28, which is 5.29. So a square piece of plate would be 5-5/16" per side. OR 3 x 9-7/16" which could come from plate OR flat bar and is closer to what you want as a starting point. Juggle the numbers to 3/8" thick by 4, which has the same cross section as 1/2 x 3 and you are closer (and the length is the same). If you can flame cut a blank from plate then the shape does not need to be rectangular.

One way some smiths use to get a feel for shaping steel is to use plasticine modeling clay. Start with a bar shaped lump and make the shape you want. Use the same tools you have for forging and press them into the clay (gently for the right effect).
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/06/12 18:32:12 EDT

I made a (multi-piece) chess board by cutting 16" lengths of 1/4" X 2", setting down 2" squares using a dies I made for my flypress, and soft soldering copper squares into the recesses. I did find that the assembly made a very nice bimetallic thermometer, calibrated to soldering temperature. After managing to straighten the first strip I soldered, I started pre-curving them.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 06/06/12 19:08:45 EDT

We had similar trouble with the plywood boards. Cutting through the veneer on the top changed the tension in the board and they warped terribly. The frame for the base held it flat.

Bimetalic joints can be loads of fun OR trouble
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/06/12 19:55:35 EDT

Four Pound Bearded Axe : Lee; are you sure you want a 4# bearded axe? Is this an axe for battle, of for chopping wood? Usually, for a felling axe, a little extra heft is a good thing, but for fighting, it's a matter of keeping it light. It's sort of a "quick and the dead" thing. (My favorites are intermediate; good for both light hewing and fighting, and holding onto docks and pilings). You may want to see what the various weights of historic examples were. Four pounds is trending to the high side and just seems a little hefty to me.

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 06/06/12 21:17:01 EDT

Axes as Weapons :
At one of the Armour-ins one of the fellows had made pole axe from a masons stone hammer which weighs about 28 oz to 2 pounds. On a 5 foot pole it would easily pierce a heavy steel drum with about 6" of the spike embedded into the drum - Enough to penetrate the wearer of similar plate armour.

   - guru - Thursday, 06/07/12 00:38:47 EDT

Trade tomahawk misunderstood : Lee and All,
There is a common misconception that the tomahawk was somehow a hatchet shaped object, maybe on the crude side, and something like that which is thrown at trees at a modern day, reenactors' rendezview. I suggest that most tomahawks were pipe tomahawks that were carefully made and carried by the owner as a status item, especially when the owner was all dressed up and welcoming people to his lodge. I think they were used more for prestige than for tunking enemy tribesmen in the head.
If you google and click on IMAGES, I think you'll see what I mean.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 06/07/12 10:20:05 EDT

Forging : Wow 1st time in gurus den..... Good replies and tips! Yes the 4lb bearded axe is for chopping/felling. Im building a coal forge with a Vienna forge styled hood with 12in sq chimney, coal fired of course and a champion 400 blower. Im staying with hand cranked blower untill i get experience in NOT overheating. My first projects will be tongs and fullers and other tools following all my printouts from Anvil Fire i should do ok. THANKS FOR THE HELP!
   - Lee S. - Thursday, 06/07/12 12:37:01 EDT

Forge Blowers : There have been questions regarding lubrication for hand cranked blowers for forges made by Buffalo Forge among others. As used equipment, they don’t come with manuals so everybody has used a lost lubrication method with their own favorite combination of oils. I think the following experience might be of interest to the group.

Before Dad passed away, he gave me a surplus WWII forge – I’d guess it as an Army forge as it was (and is) painted olive drab. I’m dating it as WWII because when I removed the bands and assembled it the very yellow and deteriorating newspapers surrounding some of the components as packing were from the 1940’s. I clayed it using bentonite, and then set it aside because it was on short legs and I had other options I could use. Recently I hauled it out and used it at an SCA event because of its easy portability. Before doing so, I popped the cover on the blower because there was some gear noise when cranking the blower. When I took the blower cover off I was not inundated with oil or rather sludge from the case, but rather saw that the gears had been coated with grease rather than being set up for an oil bath lubrication. I pumped some more grease over them and we used the blower without issue. For long term, I think I may try packing the entire case with grease – there really is no good way as it currently sets to add any other lubricant and the cover is loose enough I’m certain that a more liquid lubricant would disappear almost as quickly as it was added.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 06/07/12 13:01:23 EDT

Vertical Furnace : Thanks to all for the great information and advice. I'm still in the process of constructing my shop, so I've got plenty of time to ponder and plan how to set up what is going to give me the most use without going overboard(money doesn't grow on trees after all). It'll be nice to stop trying to work in a woodstove to get the things I need done though.
   Wulf Martens - Thursday, 06/07/12 16:34:02 EDT

more sword HT stuff : Shane, I don't have plans for a verical one, but search for Ben Potter and Graham Fredeen, they have both made good ones, gas fired. Most people and places that go vertical use them for salt pots, as the Guru stated earlier. They are the best, but are high maintenence and somewhat dangerous, not recommended for the casual user. As with many things in this business, the right setup is the one that works for *you*.

Thomas: so the 46" overall ( 37" blade)longsword I made that weighed a grand total of 1.9 lb when completely finished, hilt, pommel, guard, and all, warped under its own weight? Funny, I didn't notice that. ;-)

It was 9260 steel, which is somewhat tougher than some, of course. A little practice at keeping it rotating while hot also helps, as does a second set of tongs when pulling it out of the fire and into the vertical quench tank. There are tricks to everything.

Yes, real European swords were VERY thin, especially when compared to Japanese swords. I recently got to handle an original ca. 800 AD Anglo-Saxon sword (minus grip and pommel) that even accounting for losses to rust only weighed about 1.5 pounds, about 34" long and maybe a fat 1/8" thick for a 2" wide blade. I won't even mention the pattern-welding...
   Alan-L - Thursday, 06/07/12 16:34:04 EDT

Grease or OIl :
This is a tricky decision in machinery. To start with, many blowers such as the Champion 400's had ball bearings and came with a brass oil cap. Then you have the issue of the item described above being Army Surplus. As an item that was designed to possibly be in storage for a long time the initial grease may have been in lieu of the usual cosmolene since it was closed inside. It may have been designed for oil but as pointed out there is little or not information on many of these devices.

Many devices are designed for grease OR for oil OR may work with both.

Lots of early machinery was designed to be oiled that had open and semi-open gear boxes. Shafts where there was a snug fit were almost always oiled as well as gears. Oil dripped running down the machine or onto the floor. In the era before there was a wide range of seals this was normal. However, lots of machinery still has lubricated unsealed shafts such as on hand wheels and cranks. Sliding ways often have seals to keep out dirt but are still and exposed oiled surface. Wiping off dripping oil and reoiling exposed bare surfaces all were part of maintaining the machine.

Most hand crank blowers have an enclosed gear box that could run with grease but may also have plain bearings which need to be oiled. Some operated on gear oil have been too stiff and needed thinner oil.

There are specialty greases and oils for open gearing. Both are very thick and sticky. Gear grease often has molybdenum disulphide in it which makes it very dirty. Some people have run chain saw bar oil in these boxes due to the stickyness.

I've run gear grease on lathe change gears and was not happy with the noise and mess. I changed to Never-Seize and oil. That is a bit cleaner and quieter. In the original Never-Seize literature they give the example of a race car being run with a mix of gear oil and Never-Seize with excellent results. The problem with this mix is it is impossible to see wear metal in the oil.

Many old machines with oil holess often get greased thus blocking the oil holes. I've seen these painted over on Little Giants and old lathes. A problem with greasing this type of device is that oil holes often lead to places where the oil drops through an air gap onto the part to be lubricated. Grease may clog the port or stick to the end of the hole not getting where lubricant is supposed to go.

Decisions, decisions. . .

   - guru - Thursday, 06/07/12 16:46:51 EDT

Alan, yes they can bend especially if they are an alloy requiring long soaking times at elevated temperatures to solution carbides. Just because you had a success does not mean all will.

eg: I have walked across the Garden State Parkway with my eyes closed with no incident (special circumstances); therefore you should do the same (generalization). One can run into problems (or they can run into *you*).

If someone is doing only a few long blades I would advise a trench forge in the back yard (if allowed) or find a swordmaker and pay to use their specialized skills and equipment (better for higher alloy attempts!)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 06/07/12 17:19:52 EDT

Grease often makes certain blowers a pain to turn---especially in the winter. If the blower won't coast any I'd think about switching to a lighter lubrication.
   Thomas P - Thursday, 06/07/12 17:23:04 EDT

Looks like vaseline would be a good, light lubricant ?
   Mike T. - Thursday, 06/07/12 20:05:49 EDT

Gear shaft & fan shaft bearings : I admit to being mechanically declined, and I have not had a Champion blower apart in a long while. I just now took a peek at a couple of my blowers and each has a finely threaded flat cap, about 1 3/4"D covering the bearing area. There is a central part with a screw slot and surrounded by a nut. These were grease packed. If memory serves, I used to adjust these with a go/no go attitude (if such a thing exists)! I would tighten until the crank and fan were frozen; then I would back off until they turned freely. I think there are ball bearings in their race behind the nut, also grease packed. Y'all can correct me if I'm all wet, but I'm not about to run to the shop and dismantle a bearing to take a look. There are five such caps on each Champion gear box.

The Buffalo blowers have a similar setup, but not always screw-cap covered.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 06/07/12 20:11:20 EDT

Blower Bearings : Frank, Yes, those are bearing backlash adjustments and you are adjusting them correctly (more or less). They are required to keep the gears properly aligned. If the ball bearings, particularly the thrust bearings on the worm gear, are loose, then the gears will not be properly meshed and will be noisy and wear excessively.

This was a feature found in the best blowers, not all.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/07/12 20:44:48 EDT

blower lube : I have a Buffalo Froge rivet forge blower, and it had an oil point. Since these little sheet metal blowers and forges were expendable, not much provision for lube. Since mine is mounted in my demo trailer, and is not expendable, I removed the oil can port, and added a drip oiler, and a few little sheet metal troughs to make the oil drip onto the shaft bearings, all plain steel in brass bearings. I now have the smoothest of these little blowers I have experienced. I simply have a coffee can under to catch the oil as it drips from the sheet metal case.

The Cannady Otto blowers I have are well designed from oil lube with an oil tight case. They have a fill point and a try cock. If you get the oil level above the try cock, it will leak through the shaft bearing into the fan case and make for a smokey fire:) These are usually full of crud when found. I clean them out and these are very smooth. I have three and they are all nice little machines.
I use, and recommend ATF as the oil of choice. It has about the lowest pour point of any common oil, has excellent viscosity index and the viscosity closely matches the plain oils made when these machines were made. Last but not least, the ATF oils are excellent extreme pressure lubes and available everywhere cheap and in small quantity.
   ptree - Thursday, 06/07/12 20:47:35 EDT

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