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 16 - 22, 2012 on the Guru's Den
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Setting up shop : Thanks for the input guys I'll start out with a 16x30 mono slope for now and if I need more room I'll add on the other side when that time comes! Also where can i find a video of Jocks junk yard hammer?
   - Lee S - Saturday, 06/16/12 21:31:30 EDT

We have some video of the EC-JYH but it needs editing (had some inappropriate content) prior to posting.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/17/12 03:09:59 EDT

What do you guys use? I usually use simple nails that I hacksaw cut to length. Is there a better material? What causes excessive cauliflowering when peening? How to avoid it? thanks,
   - Eric - Sunday, 06/17/12 19:59:19 EDT

Rivet Material : What do you guys use as a rivet material? I usually use nails, but began to wonder if they are inferior to some thing else. Also- how does one avoid cauliflowering the rivet while peening? Thanks,
   - Eric - Sunday, 06/17/12 20:00:36 EDT

Rivet material :
Eric, Plain steel rivets are made from soft steel, the same as most nails. However, nails can be slightly work hardened. This might cause them to split. Trying to make too large of a flattened head cold will also cause splitting.

Generally upsets in rivets need to be made in as few of blows as possible. One heavy initial blow will make most of the upset. Then the final shaping of the head is done. This includes setting down the edges and shaping (pyramidal, round. . .). If you use too many little blows the head will split. Cold, it takes a heavy blow from a 3 pound hammer to make the initial upset on a little 3/16" rivet supported on an anvil. Hot it takes a lot less force.

Burrs or a rough edge or surface, such as from sawing to length will start the splits. An uneven end such as cutting with a chisel will cause the same. Factory rivets are sheared in a die with round holes that leaves a slightly pinched end with rounded corners.

For riveting decorative work and general purpose tongs plain mild steel works fine.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/17/12 22:00:58 EDT

Rivets : On my home made rivets, I file a chamfer all around the end to be cold-upset. This helps in preventing the thin edges from coming out like a golf tee appearance, and work hardening into cracks.

The same idea works with hot upsetting by first 'blunt tapering' or 'short tapering' with the hammer. This is the opposite of upsetting, but by doing so, you avoid the extreme golf tee or valve head appearance. An extra step sometimes saves you in the long run.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 06/17/12 22:39:36 EDT

questions from a messageboard : at the minute i'm part of a long-running argument on a popular messageboard regarding the manufacture of blades.
the argument:
will a CNC-cut blade that is then heat treated be as strong as a forged blade?

the only difference being that the CNC blade is cut, shaped and sharpened on the CNC machine before being heat treated, whereas the forged blade goes through the usual process. Any ideas on this one guys?
   - Sej - Monday, 06/18/12 07:35:51 EDT

Stock Removal vs. Forging : Sej, First, the argument is Stock Removal vs. Forging. CNC is just high tech stock removal that requires a high level of skill producing the digital model.

The end product depends on the quality of steel you start with, the design of the blade and the care in manufacture. Plate and bar that has been rolled to form it technically has the same properties as forged. A long part cut from plate must be cut in the rolling direction in order to have the proper grain orientation but is otherwise the same as bar. In a long straight or nearly straight item such as a blade forging has no advantages over a stock removal item other than less material is wasted (unless it is a laminated steel blade then in that case ALL techniques waste a huge amount of the steel).

A blade with a reduced tang SHOULD be stronger forged. However, most smiths forge them too small with too sharp a corner. On the other hand they can be cut to an equally poor shape (and often are) resulting in just as weak a tang. DESIGN is the important aspect. Blades with full tangs do not matter.

The forging process can screw up alloy steels IF they are overheated, worked too cold, not heat treated properly. . . The advantage of stock removal is NOT losing the advantages of a high quality technical steel by poor handling. Generally specialty steel manufacturers make much better steel in a much better condition than a smith can usually produce UNLESS he is highly skilled and has all the proper heat treating equipment.

SO, If the stock removal manufacturer starts with a high quality bar and gives it the same heat treatment as the smith that starts with the same or any grade of steel and gives it the same final heat treatment then there is not enough difference to detect in strength.

On the other hand a smith with less than first class skills is likely to produce a poorer quality product no matter what steel they start with. BUT the stock removal blade IS starting with a forged product. . . If they started with a cast product (that had no further processing) then the forged blade SHOULD be stronger.

Both can make superior blades, but both can make inferior products as well.

There ARE many shapes that are stronger if properly forged but a straight item with gentle changes in cross section (such as most knives and swords) has so little advantage that it makes no difference.

Now. . . if you are making a highly curved scimitar or a kriss with wavy blade then forging has the advantage.

THEN there are other advantages: I good smith with a good power hammer can forge a bowie type blade with distal tapers to very near the finished shape in a fraction of an hour. A friend of mine used to forge at least 4 to 5 of these radically shaped blades per hour. A CNC blade would take several hours, perhaps a full day and still need grinding and polishing. But I also think that many technically complex blade shapes cannot be held much less machined using CNC. So there is a distinct limitation to the process.

That same smith could make 4 different blades in that hour OR dozens in day. Each CNC blade may represent hundreds of hours producing the 3D model and several test runs prior to being happy with the design. Each design and even slight modifications are very expensive.

On the other hand EVERY CNC blade will be the exact same shape no matter how many are made. But it is a comparatively slow expensive process (given that a suitable CNC mill costs about the same as sufficiently heavy high quality forging hammer and supporting equipment).

Stock removal by hand with first class grinders is also faster than CNC and also has the flexibility that every blade that passes through the shop can be different AND shapes that cannot be made by CNC are possible.

The primary advantage of CNC is that the machine operator, while well trained and attentive requires NO design skills, NO artistic skills, LITTLE craftamanship. All they have to do is make sure they properly clamp the work in place and change the cutters when dull. . .

The few folks making simple shaped CNC blades are not going to replace the many who can produce more blades faster and make new designs on the fly or shapes that cannot practically be made on a single machine.
   - guru - Monday, 06/18/12 09:55:41 EDT

Message board debate : That would depend on what they define as "strong". By no means am i materials expert but when you say strong, me being an engineer i instantly think of something that is will both maintain an edge and will still be flexible as well as absorb an impact. The biggest thing that would make a difference here would be they materials that they used in construction of said CNC blade.

If they use one material, say carbon steel only, cut out the shape, heat treat it, and then sharpen it and do the same with a forged blade, this also depends on method of forging, weather layered or just shaped, should be close from a material perspective. Strength wise the CNC would have less dislocations that would need to be relaxed in the heat treatment and therefore may be a little stronger because it would have more time in the heat treat getting harder vs re leaving dislocations.

If you have a CNC blade that is same material and again just cut, heat treated and sharpened vs say a Japanese style forged blade. I would have to say that the Japanese blade would be much stronger in each of the categories stated above. Again this is based on the given examples, there are many different ways to forge a blade and to CNC a blade. It comes down to the fine details of what they mean by strong, and the amount of difference between the forged blade and the CNC blade. Those differences, not limited to, layering of the materials, heat treating process, difference of materials, difference in the layered materials, process of forging, extent to which you CNC vs Forge. ect...

All in all this is not a simple debate but one that must be looked at from many angels.
   Shane - Monday, 06/18/12 10:11:39 EDT

Sej, : I can't answer the question, but the argument is ongoing over the years. I talked to a bladesmith years ago who claimed it had to do with
'grain flow,' which is anisotropy or directionality of the fibrous structure from working the metal. This structure is not as gross as that of wrought iron, but it does exist and closed die forgings are designed to take into account grain flow. Some guys get downright spiritual about grain flow in forging the point of the blade. There might be smoke and mirrors involved.

The questin remains, "Would grain flow produce a keener, longer holding edge than a cut out blade?" If so, why so? Knife steel already has longitudinal grain flow as it comes from the maker.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 06/18/12 10:33:43 EDT

Shane, Most of the laminated steel blades are made by stock removal. Otherwise you do not get the patterns that are a desired part of the process.

Japanese style of blade manufacture is a process that takes an expensive highly variable inferior raw material and makes a suitably high strength product. But there are many modern high strength alloy steels that in the same identical shape will out perform the hand made steel on every front AND are much less costly.

The biggest difference is in the myth and mysticism - the sales hype. There are lots of myths about ancient blades and the supposedly superior craftsmanship but that is all they are is myths. Many modern makers have been making a much superior product both artistically and metallurgically for the last couple decades than anything made in the past. Modern smiths have the advantage of better materials, better tools, better education AND modern science.

One of the early blade sites on the Internet sold their forged blades based on new-age personal energy BS. They claimed that the energy of smith went into the blade giving it his life force and making the steel "living steel". It was well written hype by someone who had probably been selling their mediocre blades this way for years. But it was all hype, modern myth, no truth.

Now the sales hype is that computer controlled machines do a more accurate and precise job. But to what end?

The important difference in all high quality tools is in the fine details and extra care such as localized heat treatment and careful hand finishing. The overall manufacturing process generally has less to do with the end result than these fine details.
   - guru - Monday, 06/18/12 10:55:08 EDT

CNC (Numerical Control Machines) :
The place where CNC shines is making small precision parts where the tolerances are tight but not extreme and many parts need to be made. Common machined parts that would take a machinist an hour or more can be made on a CNC machine in minutes (or seconds).

I need some fittings made that are simple lathe turned parts. I will probably need to order them by the hundred at least to get the advantage of CNC. But even with machine setup the parts will cost 1/10th or less than making them one at a time.

A lot of 3 dimensional parts are machined on CNC mills but there are significant limitations. A substantial base (preferably flat) is needed to support the part while it is machined, especially if it is a tough metal. Parts must be held very rigidly or the work deflects and the cutter chatters. Some parts are machined then cut off but this also has limitations. Long thin parts are one of those difficult (or impossible) parts to support and to hold.

Each machine and process has its best applications. Does it matter if the overall dimensions of a sword are +/-.001"? I doubt it.
   - guru - Monday, 06/18/12 11:03:27 EDT

Guru (CNC) : I was was not basing what i stated on the "life force" put into the blade, i was talking about material and the way it was forged. I guess my question would be was there a fault in what i stated and if so what would it have been? Along with that what would be a few good books on Japanese smiting that i can look at do more research, i have done a lot of reading and looking and have a few books on there way, but it seams that there is something that i am missing.
   Shane - Monday, 06/18/12 11:44:35 EDT

Strong is not an engineering unit of measure to describ parts.
Tensile strenght, yeild strenght, elastic modulas and so forth are defined, measurable and so have real meaning.
Strong does not have units, is not measurable and so is in my mind not a valid measure.
Toughness is a similar non-unit, until you add Charpy V notch and then you have defined toughness at a given temp, and in a given method.

   ptree - Monday, 06/18/12 13:56:01 EDT

forged vs. stock removal : If you start with the same steel, and the heat treatment is identical, there should be no difference at all. Many forged blades can be weaker than stock removal blades because the smith may overheat the steel and not go through the normalizing steps required to reset the grain size.

In other words, the heat treatment is the heart of the matter. No matter what the blade started as, if you screw up the heat treatment it's trash.

And yes, I'm a bladesmith. ;-) I forge them because I prefer forging to grinding. That said, you ALWAYS have to do some stock removal, even on a forged blade.

Now then: Albion swords, arguably the best mass-produced swords ever, are mostly shaped on a 5-axis CNC mill. They are then hand ground to finish. It's a matter of keeping the cost down. An Albion will perform VERY well indeed, as you can see if you watch their videos. That's because they have the heat-treatment down pat.

If someone is being pedantic and insists on maintaining the myth of the traditionally-made Japanese sword as the be-all and end-all of blade evolution, well, you really can't throw a wad of raw tamahagane steel on a CNC mill, so they must be forged. Will they outperform one I made from 9260 spring steel? In general, no. They are not flexible by design. but that's a whole 'nother can of worms. What specific blade shape and material are they talking about? That's all that matters.
   Alan-L - Monday, 06/18/12 14:29:20 EDT

edit to the above : I should add that cutting ability is also highly dependant on edge geometry as well as hardness and temper. You can shave with an aluminum can, but the edge won't last as long as a steel one.
   Alan-L - Monday, 06/18/12 14:31:54 EDT

When people want to hype the traditionally made katana as the best sword I ask them to research the role of Ashi and to contemplate if having the possibility of the entire edge falling off your sword after one impact really is tied in with being the best for a battle sword.
   Thomas P - Monday, 06/18/12 14:51:44 EDT

Forging vs. Stock removal : Time to end the forged verses machined debate - As long as the best practices are used for either option; Forging does have the strength advantage. Laying aside all possible details were this might not hold true in real life(poor forging techniques). The difference may be anywhere from significant to no noticeable affect, but general (with proper practices) forging produces a stronger product.
   - RM Howell - Monday, 06/18/12 21:23:58 EDT

"Living" steel : Guru,

That was some years ago (I believe Keenjunk was the guilty party at REALLY doing a job on the guy - I was one of them).

His gabble was about a "living Steel" with crystal structure so small it emulated a singel crystal. He had learned the technique from an old man in the Mexican tules).

Why? Is it never a young chick in a Bronxe brownstone?

A whole bunch of us (including me) found the material for various inciteful expansions on the subject - including waste disposal and its effect on the grip, and the best way to catch the sword if it makes a break for it.

Good times.

PS I notice he changed his spiel soon after.
   Rudy - Monday, 06/18/12 21:24:51 EDT

Modern CNC machines are often used for onsies and twosies, and are almost always CHEAPER than manual machining even for one offs if you take all costs honestly into account. Many machinists I know are faster to make a single part on a CNC machine, especially with modern conversational programming, than they can do the same job on a manual machine. I know guys who use CNC to make all kinds of very low volume parts.
For instance, the knifemaker Kevin Wilkins, who is an american living in Berlin, makes small quantities of custom knives on his Haas CNC mill daily. (wilkins-knives.com)
The CNC is actually quite quick to do the milling of knife blanks, allowing him to make a very wide range of types and styles of knives in small quantities- once a program is written, it can be recallled, or slightly modified, very quickly and easily.
CNC has come a long way in the last few years, and machine speeds, tooling materials and design, and software and hardware improvements mean that in a small shop, a CNC machine can be a very flexible and efficient time saving and money saving tool.
The late Grant Sarver would routinely go from an idea to a prototype tool in a couple of hours, using his Haas VMC. Once you acheive a certain familiarity with the machine and the software, the artistic possibilities are unlimited.
   - Ries - Monday, 06/18/12 21:31:56 EDT

CNC and Blades :
The problem is there is only so much shaping you can do on a slender 3 dimensional piece in any mill. You have to be able to hold the work and support is well enough for the machine to do its job. Forging OR hand grinding both allow for thin sections and tapers in all directions that would require very costly custom fixturing to do in a mill.

As processes and how they effect the final product CNC milling a blank in profile is no different than sawing, water jet or LASER cutting. In the end all are part of stock removal. Except for hand sawing all these processes can follow a simple CAD drawn outline. But even hand sawing can be done using a print of a CAD outline glued to the steel. I've made CAD accurate wood and metal parts including in 2 axiis this way. Its fast and low tech except for the CAD and the printer.

What is expensive in CAD is full 3D contours. Accurately modeling contours is still time consuming and expensive. Many types of machines can use 3D data to make parts in metal, plastic, wood, foam. . . But the technical labor is in the art.

   - guru - Monday, 06/18/12 23:39:50 EDT

cnc milling : I do not think there is any limit to the amount of shaping you can do on a slender 3d piece in a CNC mill. Ive watched mills with spindle speeds that make your eyes water carve all kinds of compressor blades, medical implants etc from tough materials in very low cycle times. (TBH, you dont see much actual milling going on, just a wall of high pressure coolant in a full enclosure!) This on very affordable machines, not the price of a house ones from a decade or so ago.

Im not to up on it, but from what ive seen generating the g code for full 3d contouring is pie nowdays aswell.

Most of the 'fixturing' (non)issues are solved by leaving the component attached to the parent metal(held 'conventionally' with a series of tags which can be cut through once the part is removed from the mill.

Ive seen some snazzy CNC belt grinders doing turbine blades aswell, not just a robot arm using a grinder!
   - John N - Tuesday, 06/19/12 12:15:02 EDT

It is widely accepted that the direction of the grainflow in a forging is vital for its strength.

I would deduce from that (although I have not tested it) that a 4" long blade you forged and ensured the grainflow ran along the length would be superior in its mechanical properties than a 4" long blade made from a piece of 4" wide rolled stock x 1/8" thick, with the blank cut 'vertically' from the stock (ie grainflow from cutting edge to spine of blade) , all other things being equal (matl spec, grain size, heat treatment etc).

Seems logical to me?
   - John N - Tuesday, 06/19/12 12:26:40 EDT

Grain flow : In closed die forging for items that are highly stressed grain flow is very important if you are going for min weight VS max strenght. In valves and fittings that are for the high pressure arena, like we made at VOGT, the grain flow was designed in and followed carefully in the process. When you have a 2" pipe size valve operating at 2500 psi steam at 1200F you had better have the grain flow right or have a lot of extra thickness. One of the reasons for forged steel in those valves. When casting and alloys became better there were some companies that did cast those types, but they were pretty huge.
In an aircraft fitting, grain flow is pretty critical as most only have a 2:1 safety factor.

In a firearm, I much prefer wrought recievers over precision investment cast.

In a sword, I prefer a firearm:)
   ptree - Tuesday, 06/19/12 13:45:22 EDT

Engineering drawings often call out rolling direction when parts are cut from plate. Bar that is slit from plate or coils naturally has the correct grain direction. Among other things hidden faults tend to run lengthwise in rolled materials. If a piece has faults across the short direction it most likely completely catastrophically fails. But if the faults are lengthwise it is less likely to fail and if it fails it may "hang on" until being replaced.

   - guru - Tuesday, 06/19/12 13:52:02 EDT

Whenever we order steel for die blocks (some of them many tons) we specify the GF direction. Walter Somers ( a big UK supplier of die steels for over a century ) stamp their logo on the forged blocks in the direction of the grainflow.

Ive seen closed die forgings cut in half and etched in nital or similar and the GF is as clear as eddies in a brook.

So, would it be fair to draw a conclusion that a correctly forged blade will have superior mechanical properties than a 'stock removed' blade if the stock removed blade has the GF in the 'wrong' direction ?
   - John N - Tuesday, 06/19/12 15:54:55 EDT

grain flow : John N, we had many cross sectioned, polished and etched models to show visiting customers, and I like you comparison to eddies in a brook, as that is indeed what they look like.
We also had sections of our Items that were Normalized, and had examples that we bought from competitors of forgings they stamped and claimed as Normalized. The grain structure told the tale. The method we heard many of the Europeans used was to drop the as forged parts into an insulated tote and the combined heat was supposed to normalize. Didn't work as the grain size was 2 sizes too big by ASTM method:)

I have burst tested almost every fitting and valve in the VOGT then extensive catalog, as well as the items from the competition. I have seen a class 2000, A-105 2" Tee swell like a watermellon, getting at least twice as big at the center of the fitting before it burst. Never saw a cast fitting of the same class and rating swell any, and nowhere near the ultimate burst pressure. Class 2000 means 2000 psi at room temp. Failed at something like 20,000PSI. Cast fitting failed at something like 12,000psi.
I would choose forged over cast from equally reputable makers in almost any item, be it a valve, a landing gear fitting, or a machine part. BUT you have to be willing to pay the premium. In a chemical service valve or landing gear fitting forged cost is a pittance VS failure, and you tend to have large reputable companies.
Not the same in a wall hanger sword, and as far as I know not many calls for service issue swords for use other then ceremonial.

Heck in 1974 in US ARMY BCT when a trainee asked the DI when we would learn bayonet fighting, The DI used a long string of expletives and then told the trainee, that you are equipped with a fine rifle,, if you let them get close enough to need a bayonet you failed and deserve to die. I happened to witness that very discussion.

   ptree - Tuesday, 06/19/12 18:29:25 EDT

For decades now bayonet training has not been about the space between the soldier and the enemy so much as the space between the trainee's ears. Breaking down the barriers needed to kill a fellow human in 8 weeks is a tough job, for various reasons bayonet training helped that. We still did bayonet training in 1991 when I went to basic though I am told it has since been phased out.

I do agree with the overall point though. If you are in a unit that even get issued bayonets anymore no one really expects you to do more than open MREs with them. Any breakage is MUCH more likely due to being used as a pry bar to open crates than because it was used in combat.
   - Martin - Wednesday, 06/20/12 13:53:02 EDT

Not a recent phenomen

From WW*I* Robert W Service's "My Bay'nit"

"At toasting a biscuit me bay'nit's a dandy;
I've used it to open a bully beef can;
For pokin' the fire it comes in werry 'andy;
For any old thing but for stickin' a man.
'Ow often I've said: "'Ere, I'm goin' to press you
Into a 'Un till you're seasoned for prime,"
And fiercely I rushes to do it, but bless you!
Part of me outfit every time."
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/20/12 18:27:29 EDT

I remember reading that even in WW I less than 1% of the wounds were from bayonets. Of course the author did speculate that not many who were stuck with bayonets would have made it to the dressing station to be counted!
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 06/20/12 18:28:29 EDT

I was active duty ARMY 1974-1977, Guard 1977-79 Air guard 84-86 and Army reserve 1986-1988. Never once trained on the little pig sticker that fits on the lug of the M-16A1 I carried. Trained on the M-16A1 the M-16 in the Air Guard, the M-60 the .45 ACP, The M-3 grease gun, the M-203 and others. I often carried the Bayonet, but I think I only once affixed it to the lug, and that was on Riot duty in 1976 in Germany.
   ptree - Wednesday, 06/20/12 18:37:49 EDT

Erie lackawanna RR anvil : A friend of mine has a beautiful HUGE Erie Lackawanna RR anvil, and i was figuring you gurus would know who made it and the quality/rebound
   - Lee S - Thursday, 06/21/12 12:38:06 EDT

Railroad or Bridge Anvil :
Lee, these were made in very low numbers as castings. They vary from ductile iron to cast iron and were primarily used for bending and supporting heavy work. The value in this one is that it sounds like it was made by or for the railroad.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/21/12 14:52:34 EDT

leg vise : hello ,i talked about my leg vise before but didnot have all the info before ,,i found markings on the vise jaw ( its on the back of the jaw) stamped 6 5 and 1896 the legs are chamfered like the english vise and is in remarkable condition ,all original parts ,none bent ,diamond braket ,the foot is all there to,& leg ,what is this worth?
   curt - Thursday, 06/21/12 18:53:29 EDT

this is the purtyiest vise i have ever seen in my life in the shop !!!its eye candy for sure ,and i can see marks where it looks like a horse shoe was fitted a few times
   curt - Thursday, 06/21/12 18:57:52 EDT

anyone around ?
   curt - Thursday, 06/21/12 19:00:19 EDT

guru can you give me a ballpark ? on the leg vise
   curt - Thursday, 06/21/12 19:02:08 EDT

i have a 3/8 thick steel bench its bolted to with a chunck of railroad track for a anvil and i love this lil welding bench too heavy heavy duty that i made in the shop,now just need some fire !!! take care i will look later to see if you found this post ,maybe you want to see ths vise ,it had to of been somebodys pride and joy many years ago too
   curt - Thursday, 06/21/12 19:07:58 EDT

Vise Value : Leg vises sold by the pound and some folks like to size them by the jaw sizes but that results in heavy and light models of the same size.

Small leg vises (30 to 50 pounds) sell for about $75 to $125.
Medium leg vises (55 to 125 pounds) sell for about $100 to $200.
Larger leg vises sell for $150 to $350 or more.

Vise screws tend to wear and this reduces the price. Missing parts (typically the bench bracket and spring) reduce the price. Pretty better than average vises (typically English vises with turned decoration on the box and screw, exceptional forgings) sell for more.

Then like anvils, the location, which determines rarity effects the price. In central OH prices will be low and in California high.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/21/12 19:18:05 EDT

Leg Vise - Curt : This is a forum Curt, not a chat room. We answer questions in a timely and thorough manner, but not instantly. If you need instant, try Google. Blacksmithing is a craft and a skill that takes years to master and patience to practice well. Cultivate that air of patience by waiting a reasonable period of time for an answer to your questions, eh? You'll benefit from it, believe me.
   Rich Waugh - Friday, 06/22/12 01:44:16 EDT

Patience : ...and yet as smiths we strive to work as quickly and efficiently as possible, working with the heat as long as you can. That is until you lose heat.... then it's back to the fire and practice that patience thing again..... helps you think before you act as you mentally practice your moves before the iron is pulled.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 06/22/12 08:32:36 EDT

Patience : Is also important in learning physical skills. While your mind may think it knows what you want to do it takes time to train and build up the muscles necessary to do even small light work. Its like walking or riding a bike. Frustrating and sometimes scary, but once learned and the muscles trained its hard to remember what the problem was.
   - guru - Friday, 06/22/12 08:46:16 EDT

Patience : I will say that there is something about the rhythm of blacksmithing that appeals to me, and also allows me to keep working in my somewhat diminished physical condition. It's sort of like exercising in sets: you rest while the work is in the fire, then exercise when hammering, then rest again. Of course, you can have several (even too many ;-) irons in the fire, but that is a choice you can make according to your physical capacity and skill. When my blows fail to tell, it's time to take a break, or switch to cold work.

It's still hazy, hot and humid (but not as bad as DC) on the banks of the lower Potomac. Thunderstorms are due this afternoon, so some of my projects getting ready for Camp Fenby, next weekend, are back on the morning schedule. I'm watching Mr. Groundhog furtively scurry about the side yard from his burrow under the garden shed. The beggar seems to have taken a liking to our soy beans! 8-0
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 06/22/12 09:17:52 EDT

Bayonet(s) : I was issued a bayonet prior to deploying to Afghanistan, I didn't even use it as a utility tool, I'd been issued a well known knife manufacturers multi-tool for that purpose. General opinion was if you needed to use the bayonet the fight had gotten up-close and too personal, or put on your rifle afterwards to help (psychologically) control prisoners. Nowadays bayonets are mostly used for ceremonial or riot control purposes.

Do have to admit it is an ecologically friendly 'Green' weapon, very reusable and recyclable.
   - Don Shears - Friday, 06/22/12 10:26:43 EDT

As I age I take great comfort in having met many a smith still working in their 80's and even one in his 90's! I've been smithing for a bit over 30 years and am only at the 1/2 way mark!---if I'm lucky...

As for vise prices: not only do they range over America, they are different all over. This is an international forum; prices in England, South America and Australia, Europe, etc can be supplied so better state your location in any query like that!
   Thomas P - Friday, 06/22/12 14:07:56 EDT

In this age of relatively inexpensive machines you should be able to work in the shop until you become too senile to keep up with it.
   - guru - Friday, 06/22/12 16:47:55 EDT

Patience : Doug Wilson told me one time that he thought of our work in this attitudinal manner. Take a heat, an in-breath. Go to the anvil, an active out-breath. We also say that 90% of your work is done while taking a heat; you're trying to figure out where you're going to hold it and hit it.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 06/22/12 17:46:46 EDT

forge : How do you make a good forge?
   Tyler Juneau - Friday, 06/22/12 23:23:00 EDT

Forge :
Tyler, First you need to know what kind of fuel you have available and how big of work you intend to make. Forges burn charcoal, coal, propane or butane, natural gas, diesel fuel or heating oil and waste oil.

Coal: Most blacksmiths will agree that a coal forge is best. Coal is flexible (large and small fires) and burns very hot (up to 3,200°F). It is the easiest forge weld with. But good coal is no longer distributed in most places so you must order it and have it shipped in 50 pound bags by UPS. Depending on where you are this more than doubles the cost of the fuel with $15 to $30 shipping.

If you have a local coal supply you should always test it unless you know a local smith that can vouch for its quality. Coal comes in infinite variety. In some places low grade coal is sold for landscaping color. . . in others it is for stoves and furnaces that do not need to burn as hot or clean as a forge.

A good place to start is with a cheap forge built from junk, a brake drum forge. This will also teach the basics of coal forge construction. To build a first class coal forge it is best to start with commercial components (firepot, blower, control gate).

Charcoal (the real stuff, not pressed briquettes) is the next best forge fuel and has been used for millennia to fire ceramics, smelt metal and other high temperature uses as well as forges. Real charcoal is often available in big box stores and restaurant supplies. If not if can be made if you have a supply of wood and live in a rural area.

Making charcoal takes room and makes a lot of smoke but it is a very clean burning in the forge. Charcoal forges are very similar to coal forges but need to be a little deeper.

Gas: If coal and charcoal are not suitable then most smiths are using gas forges. Propane is readily available almost everywhere worldwide. Many smiths build their own gas forges including burners. Others buy burners and build the enclosure. The disadvantage of gas is that it does not get as hot as coal and you need different size forges for different size work.

Oil: Forges using oil are more common in industry than in small shops but some blacksmiths use oil forges. These are similar to gas but do not burn as clean. They are also more difficult to start and maintain but they burn hotter than gas.

All these choices depend on what you want to do, what your budget is, where you are located. Solid fuel forges can be a hole in the ground, a large steel device, masonry (brick - stone) large or small. But all do the same thing, they hold the fuel so air can be blown into the fire to make it hotter.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/23/12 23:46:40 EDT

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