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 July 1 - 7, 2010 on the Guru's Den
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I asked a question the other day about making charcoal. The reason for this was something I saw on TV. It was a documentary about Cuba and this Cuban lady was talking to a man living in the countryside. He said he made charcoal for a living and I perked up hoping he would demonstrate his technique. He was standing beside a small mound of dirt about 8-9 feet tall that was in the shape of a volcano. He climed to the top of it and poured a bucket full of dirt in the top opening. I know he had burned wood in it, although it was not giving off any smoke. From what I can understand there are a few openings at ground level, at some point dirt is pushed against these openings, then dirt is poured over the top opening. How would you say this is done ?
   Mike T. - Thursday, 07/01/10 01:39:03 EDT

Would anyone know anything specific about the steel in the tracks of a 50,s era oliver crawler tractor.I have a rather large supply in the form of two old tracks . Of course there are three parts ,chain,pins,and plates.I know,junk yard rules,but I thought the collective wisdom just might save me a lot of missteps.
   wayne @nb - Thursday, 07/01/10 08:08:19 EDT

Charcoal: Mike, They were using the mound method of making charcoal the same as has been done for thousands of years on every continent.

1) Make a stack of wood, with a central hole formed by a pole that is removed later. The wood stacked to form a cone or mound.

2) Cover with dirt (the hard part) leaving a vent hole at the top and a couple vents at the bottom.

3) Start a fire at the bottom of the central vent. Adjust the air so that the fire does not consume the whole.

4) Observe and adjust the fire via the vents to see that the fire has reached the outsider AND/OR judge by time. This often takes 12 to 24 hours depending on the mound size and wood type.

5) Close the remaining vents to put the fire out and wait for the whole to cool. Carefully watch that the mound does not collapse opening holes and catch fire again.

6) When cool remove dirt and seperate charcoal.

The above is described in Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing p.33-34 and in greater detail in Eric Sloane's American book, A Reverence for Wood p.56-59.

Besides the mound method there is also the pit method that requires less work (in my opinion).

See the photos of a pit charcoal making operation I took in Costa Rica. I also have photos from Hugh McDonald from his youth when they made charcoal on the farm in Australia. Most pit methods use some sort of removable cover such as corrugated steel roofing to cover the fire. It is sealed using dirt around the edges. Operation is similar.

For descriptions of a variety of methods see Coal and Charcoal FAQ
   - guru - Thursday, 07/01/10 08:30:25 EDT

Time to coal. . try 24 hr's to a week depending on the mound or pit size. Charcoal makers live with their fire night and day. Often it is a family affair with members taking over from one and other but it is just as often a one man business.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/01/10 10:03:17 EDT

Charcoal: Here is another method a good friend of mine uses to make his charcoal.

He made a "cooker" form an old electric hot water heater vessel that he cut in half and flared the edge of the top half so it would fit over the bottom half. The two halves are also secured with a couple of straps to prevent them from coming apart during firing.
He has plugged up all but one 3/4 pipe opening and to this he screws in a 12" long, straight section of black pipe.
He fills the cooker with hardwood cuts about 3-4" long and secures the top half.
He then builds a large scrap wood fire around the cooker.
When the inside gets hot enough it will start to steam from the vent. As the cooking continues the hot exhaust gases will catch fire and roar like a jet engine.
Continue cooking until the flame goes out and the steaming stops, then let the fire die out or take the cooker out of the fire and throw several chickens on for dinner...
Leave the cooker closed until it is completely cool (do not plug the vent!)
Store in a covered drum or barrel with a good lid.
His charcoal gives off very few, if any, fire fleas.
Commercial charcoal intended for the home grill is usually cooked and then cooled with water to speed up the process time but, this adds greatly to the fire fleas as well.
   - merl - Thursday, 07/01/10 11:06:58 EDT

Both the tyope of wood and how well it is coaled can make a difference in fleas.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/01/10 14:42:37 EDT

Rustproofing formulas

Hi, Guru et al! I am working on an arbor and am looking for a good rust-resistant primer coat. I found this product on the web, "Rust Bullet" at rustbullet dot com and would like to know if anyone has any experience with it. If not, are there any product you would recommend? Thanks! Matt
   Koomori - Thursday, 07/01/10 15:43:02 EDT

Rust Bullet: Well, the only active metallic ingredient is a little aluminum. This is nothing like applying a zinc base coat.

The application instructions call for applying over light rust or tight mill scale and an otherwise clean surface. If you use coal then "clean" means sand blasted (due to plating with coal). If you drill tap or saw using oils then clean means thorough degreasing. If there is other paint it means stripping the paint.

Most paints will do a good job if you follow the instructions. However, those that say they can be used over scale are fudging. "tight scale" is very hard to identify and when due to flexing it stops being tight and the paint flakes off with the scale then its NEVER the paint's fault. . In paint cleanliness IS next to Godliness. Grit blasting or chemical scale removal is best.

Almost any good paint works well over a really clean surface.

Also note that you will always get GREAT testimonials from folks that have just used a simple one coat rust proofing product. "It was EASY, just paint over the rust and dirt". But until some time passes you do not know exactly how well that coating is going to hold up when applied on marginally prepared surfaces. . . You know the saying, "If it sounds too good to be true it probably isn't.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/01/10 16:41:34 EDT

Thanks, Guru! I don't have access to a sandblaster, but have been using a wire wheel on a hand-held grinder to remove the scale. Yeah, it's time-consuming, but I want it done right. If I understand correctly what I've read on your site over the years, I apply a zinc base coat over a descaled and degreased (alcohol or acetone) surface, then apply a couple of coats of good quality gloss paint, and I'm good for a few years?

Also, would you mind recommending a couple of paint brands?

Thanks, again!
   Koomori - Thursday, 07/01/10 17:24:29 EDT

1) Clean to bare metal, etch or sandblast.

2) Zinc cold galvanizing (98% zinc) - Thin and work into crevices.

3) Use recommended primer for top coat.

4) Top coat and optional glazes

Done well and touched up if damaged this should last 20 years or more. If the zinc is left out the job will hold up fairly well but any breaks in the surface coating will rust and pit rapidly causing more rapid degradation of the paint than with it.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/01/10 17:51:03 EDT

That's what I'll do, then. Thanks again for your guidance.

   Koomori - Thursday, 07/01/10 18:40:43 EDT

The Brand of zinc cold galvanizing I use is made by CRC.

I like Dupont Automotive paints but it has been a long time since I did any serious painting. If I was going to use the rubbed finishes I would put them over some sort of hard lacquer base.

Sand blasting is most often subbed out to a specialist who has the means to legally dispose of the same.

Good paint on decorative ironwork is expensive. The job can cost as much in materials and labor as producing the ironwork itself. Most smiths do not realize this and grossly underbid jobs. Then when its time to paint they do a cheap job without proper preparation or let the customer do it.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/01/10 19:54:31 EDT

Rust should always be cleaned off for the best paint job. In some cases, just not really possible, of the item is not worth a sandblast. I use a product called XTEND on rusty items such as truck beds, junker cars that may have 3 years left in them etc. I follow the directions, removing the loose rust with a wire wheel, then apply the XTEND. The XTEND contains a phosphoric acid blend that converts the remaining rust to a rich black Iron phosphate. The product has a laxet base that makes a decent primer. I use red oxide primer and a good top coat.
An example that I have is a mail box stand to hold three of the large rural boxes at the end of my drive. It was made from used boiler tube that had lain in the dirt for a number of years and rust pitted badly. I fabbed up the stand, wire wheeled and then did the XTEND primer and two coats of gloss black Rust-oleum. That was 1999. There is now some rust from where the stand has been hit by 2 different vans, 2 school busses and a car. But the undamaged areas are still good. I intend to wire wheel it and repaet and it should be good for another 11 years or 5 vehicle strikes.
I must confess that the wife was driving on 2 of those:(
   ptree - Thursday, 07/01/10 21:10:36 EDT

I am getting a 25# Little Giant and i planned on just putting it on my garage floor. Now I find out that there are footer plans for the thing and I'm concerned about the choice. I don't think I can modify the garage floor. Little help with this? I know it's around 1000 pounds but does it really need the footre? Risk if I don't use one?
   - deloid - Friday, 07/02/10 01:28:35 EDT

Sorry, I keep on forgetting that there is no edit feature thus the sloppy errors.
   - deloid - Friday, 07/02/10 01:31:05 EDT

Hammer Foundations: Deloid, Many hammers including one piece hammers up to 500 pounds have just been run sitting on the floor. This includes new machines with much less efficient anvils than the Little Giant. A 25 pound LG is absolutely no problem.

The seperate foundation has several purposes. The most important is that it separates the pounding of the machine from the rest of the floor and the building. This vibration can be an issue if machine tools are in operation on the same floor. The vibration can also be transmitted to other parts of the building such as offices. On large hammers the transmitted vibration adds to worker fatigue.

The second reason is that it increases the efficiency of the anvil mass. However, on small hammers this is unnoticeable. On larger hammers it also protects the floor from cracking.

Many forge shops had dirt, wood or brick floors that were not suitable support for a hammer and thus a foundation was absolutely necessary. When the steam hammer was invented many large hammers were in coastal areas and seaports where the soils needed very deep foundations to support the hammer as well as withstand the pounding.

You may find the anvil on the LG a little short for you. Many folks like to raise the hammer on a wood distribution pad that protects the floor. If the floor is new, thin or you are worried about it then a wood or metal distribution pad will spread the load over a larger area and thus the stress on the floor. Wood will reduce the transmission of noise and vibration.
   - guru - Friday, 07/02/10 08:29:22 EDT

More. . .

On many hammers the anvil is seperate from the frame and has a very small footprint. These almost always need a foundation or distribution pad. Sometimes the special foundation is under the anvil only.

On very short hammers like the Kuhn and the small Chinese hammers an above ground stand is needed to raise the hammer for use standing up. These can be above ground only or both above and below ground. At one time Kuhn offered an 8" (203mm) thick solid steel foundation block as long as the hammer. The cheaper alternative has been a steel box that is filled with concrete on site.

When vibration reduction is critical such as in a close urban neighborhood or where large hammers are near machine tools a large inertia block is installed on springs and shock absorbers. This requires an oversize concrete lined pit with access to maintain the springs and shock absorber. In small systems a special rubber cushion is used. The gap between the pit wall and the inertia block is covered with deck plate or flooring.
   - guru - Friday, 07/02/10 09:33:49 EDT

Your wisdom is once again...greatly appreciated. I'l build a plywood layer base to bolt to. Someone used 1/2 layers of plywood...I'll have to look for that post and see what height and footprint worked for him. By the way, you made my day. I don't think my wife would have let me cut into the garage floor! Buying this hammer took a lot of convincing as it was-
I have to start thinking about how to approach a possible 100# LG in the future :)
   - deloid - Friday, 07/02/10 12:07:21 EDT

Ive always found its easier to get forgiveness than permission but that does sound better than trying to convince your wife that she agreed to you cutting into the floor as part of buying the hammer. lol

   Kevin - Friday, 07/02/10 12:28:09 EDT

Just don't blame me when her highness' collection of blown glass vibrates off the living room fireplace mantle! :)
   - guru - Friday, 07/02/10 14:13:57 EDT

My first hammer was a 25#Little Giant that I bought of of Master Bladesmith Daniel Winkler in Blowing Rock NC. and he had ran this hammer for about 12 years on a dirt floor,
he had it raised to a comfortable level on railroad ties and bolted down with no problems. A friend David Oliver
has a very fast running 25# bolted directly to his shop floor.How many of you fellows remember Dave Oliver the tool guy?
   Greg S - Friday, 07/02/10 14:21:45 EDT

I ran a 50 pound Little Giant bare bottomed on a concrete floor and not bolted down. It was only for a short while but there were no problems.
   - guru - Friday, 07/02/10 15:47:22 EDT


I'm guessing you named the hammer David. What else could you call a bare-bottomed giant?
   Mike BR - Friday, 07/02/10 17:24:01 EDT

A belated comment about bulk propane tanks:

Around here (in Kansas) if you buy your tank outright, you can get gas from any dealer. Since I bought a 1000 gallon tank some years ago, I haven't bought bulk propane from the same supplier twice in a row.

Get a big enough tank to hold a year's supply of propane, 'cause the best price for propane is typically about now, at the time of lowest demand.

I still need portable tanks for stuff I can't hard plumb to the bulk tank, but. . .

Theoretically I could set up to fill the portable tanks from the bulk tank, 'cause I do have a liquid delivery dip tube in the tank, but I've never gotten around to setting up for it.
   John Lowther - Friday, 07/02/10 18:08:11 EDT

ptree, you have given me confidence to go on with the restoration of my '51 Chevy pick up.
I have used that XTEND on the doors and the front fenders but didn't know how well it would hold up. I've been debating weather or not to get a gallon and use it on everything else or resort to sand blasting or replacement.
I think I'll use the XTEND where I can and replace only what is missing(the holes under the floor mats in the cab are big enough for a cat to climb through)
They sell the stuff at my local farm supply store but nobody I know has ever tried it out.
Anybody have any coments on TIG or Torch welding new panels in place.
I'm not a fan of pop rivets and bondo and I'm going to replace the entire dash with a complete one cut from a doner truck so I'll need to deside on a welding technique at some point.
I have been looking into a spot welder for the job as well so put that into the mix and tell me what anyone thinks...
   - merl - Saturday, 07/03/10 01:03:40 EDT

I have never used tig for it,but have done panel replacement with torch,stick and a mig with spot weld.The torch caused a fair amount of distortion and the stick (3/32-6011)worked not bad but there was a bit of distortion with it too. The mig with spot weld was the best with no noticable distortion.I have used it to replace panels on a horse trailer(pre drill the original sheetmetal-then spot through to the new stuff). Did the same with a '79 Ford pick-up when a customer wanted new sides on the box - worked great! With all of the above always had a wet rag close by to soft cooling. I am getting a little too shakey to do it with tig these days but I bet a steady hand would do a nice job.One day soon I hope to be doing a bunch of the same on my '56 Chev wagon-right after the Honey-do list is finally done....
   Amos - Saturday, 07/03/10 01:55:30 EDT

Merl, I used XTEND on a 68 scout bed that was pitted and rusty and it worked well for that. Remember that a rusted panle need attention on both sides. If you repair and treat the outside, the inside of the panel will continue to rust until it reaches the outside.
On my 72 chevy, the rockers and cab corners failed badly, so I cleaned the inside of the holes, smeared XTEND with every technique, including dipping fingers in the liquid and reaching inside the hole to get to the inside. Then I used repair panels from JC Whitney. Those repairs maybe 12 to 15 years ago. I now park that truck under a lean to, but no failures seen. Those panels were applied with a very liberal application of fiberer glas resin (No glass) and a few pop rivits to hold in place. That is a work truck so repairs did not need to be pretty. I even dipped the rivit ends in the resin just prior to installed and pulling.
I have seen bu not used a nifty little air tool that makes a flange around a shet metal hole, so you can spot weld in and then fill to level. I don't like spot welded repairs in these cases as the joint between the panels is a trap for mosture and future rust. I might tend to bed the repair panel into the flange with epoxy.
   ptree - Saturday, 07/03/10 08:59:02 EDT

Merl- For really thin stuff get yourself a 1/16" electrode for your tig, and look into getting a short cap (back end collet cover). The small electrode lets you really focus the heat and the small cap will let you get the torch into really small places. If you find that the stuff is so thin that you are still burning thru get some tig brazing rod and try that.
   Judson Yaggy - Saturday, 07/03/10 09:08:49 EDT

Autobody Work: The spot welds also burn the paint and coatings off the back side, often where you cannot get to them. Often it must be done but it encourages future rust.

Most autobody rust is a result of dirt trapped behind the panels. This holds moisture for a long time which is the perfect rusting condition. Especially if there is the slightest amount of salt. Acid rain is also a factor. On many vehicles these places are difficult to impossible to clean out. Undercoating often makes the problem MUCH worse by clogging all the drain holes at the bottom of these panels. Note that while these holes DO let water and dirt out they were primarily designed for dip painting processes at the factory.

When I wash my cars and trucks I spend as much or more time rinsing UNDER the fenders than over.

Chevy rust outs are largely due to thin steel and poor design that traps more dirt and moisture. Many of those early 70's trucks were rusted out severely by the late 70's. When they sold they were lighter and cheaper than the competition. They sold due to the price. But anyone looking at price per pound would have realized that you got more steel when you bought a Dodge back then.

When I had money to have my 1979 Ford truck which had been a beach front vehicle repaired and painted I took it to my local Mexican mechanics. I told them it did not need to be pretty, just patch it and paint it. . . They replaced all the panels that had rusted through, stripped the paint down to bare metal on the rest and then painted. I doubt if they primed. But it looked good and the price was right. It is no longer the disreputable looking truck I bought 10 years ago.

Third generation body man (who now lets others do the work).
   - guru - Saturday, 07/03/10 09:23:34 EDT

ptree: I owned a couple of IH Scout IH's and boy were they oxidized. If it weren't for the drive train I probably wouldn't have kept them for so long.

merl: An idea TIG setup for sheet metal would be a high frequency start machine with pulse control. I'd go with 2% cerium tungsten no larger than 3/32" diameter (smaller if your collet permits).

As far as technique goes remember to skip around to even out the heat. I've been told that welding 1" and moving 6"-8" for the next is good enough, but your mileage may very. Don't try to whip and weave a bead just keep the arc directed over the pool, instead of the leading edge, and travel in a straight line.

Use panel clamps whenever possible. Not only do they match the surfaces up, but they provide a very nice root gap to ensure 100% penetration.

   Slim James - Saturday, 07/03/10 12:30:25 EDT

I am looking for a 50# Little Giant Hammer. I am mostly in need of the sheel of the machine. If anyone has one laying around they want to sell at a reasonalbe price,
Let me know.

You can contact me at linjer2_2000@yahoo.com

   - Linda Iovine - Saturday, 07/03/10 13:45:10 EDT

Several friends are using a hydraulic cylinder, on compressed air, to make power hammers. This seems to work quite well but I want an engineer opinion from guru on the advisability of using a hydraulic cylindere on air, expected longevity, any safety concerns.
   Ned Digh - Saturday, 07/03/10 14:58:03 EDT

With almost non-existing wrought iron what other irons can be forged welded and any special methods?
   Don - Saturday, 07/03/10 14:58:14 EDT

Don, Virtually all steels can be forge welded, even stainless but these require extra care.

Wrought was for the most part self fluxing. The silica slag content oozing out at high temperatures. The lack of carbon made it burn less than steel.

Mild steel forges fairly well but not as perfectly as wrought. Some smiths weld it without flux, other use flux and the proprietary fluxes with iron powder weld it very easily.

Higher carbon steels weld at lower temperatures than wrought and mild steel. Care must be taken not to burn them or to heat too long resulting in a lot of decarbonization. Bladesmiths forge stacks of various carbon and alloy steels as well as pure nickle to make laminated steel AKA Damascus.

Stainlesses, high alloy and nickle bearing steels are harder to weld but can be done. Special flouride containing fluxes are used as well as sealing in containers to prevent oxidation.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/03/10 16:12:42 EDT

Isn't EXTEND one of those late night TV male enhancement products?
   - grant - Saturday, 07/03/10 16:14:29 EDT

Hydraulic Cylinders on Air: Ned, I've known several folks to do this with old worn cylinders with great success.

The experts will tell you the seals will not hold up and that MAY be true. However, a little oil should prevent immediate failure.

Hydraulic cylinder seals tend to be high friction thus taking some of your air pressure to operate them. This will also create some heat. Some folks recommend disassembly and removing secondary seals. Note that I said I've known folks using WORN cylinders. . . they moved quite freely by hand.

The advantage of hydraulic cylinders is they are built more like a power hammer cylinder should be than air cylinders normally are. They are all steel, have heavier rods, bearings and end blocks. However, manufacturers using modern air cylinders for air hammers have found that they had to special order heavier duty cylinders for durability so they are NOT using the typical off the shelf cylinders.

As they say, "Your mileage may vary".
   - guru - Saturday, 07/03/10 16:20:54 EDT

I've been out of action w/ a virus most of the week (will try to get well in time for Camp Fenby Friday).

I just have to say that, regarding the discussions here, I am always astonished by the depth of knowledge and experience displayed by the folks on this site.

It's a privelege to hang out (even on computer) with such folks.

Back to recovery.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 07/03/10 20:55:40 EDT

Reads funny- that's an old-fashioned opportunistic life form virus (sweats/chills/headache...) not somwthing cyber.

G'night folks; brain is shaky!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 07/03/10 21:14:11 EDT

Hydraulic cylinders on air. Many of the high quality hydraulic cylinders (Not the cheap ag cyclinders) have cast iron rings for piston seals. These work great on oil, but score the barrel quickly on air unless the air is greatly over oiled, making a mess at the exhaust.
Aluminum barrel air cylinders are not power hammer cylinders.
NFPA class, heavy duty air cylinders are air hammer cylinders. These are rated 250 psi air/500 hydraulic rated. These are heavy duty all steel, and have heavy wear rings on the pistons and heavy duty rod bearings.
Ptree who in the previous century worked for a couple of years in the R&D lab of the premier maker of such cylinders, and learned how to break them all:)
   ptree - Saturday, 07/03/10 22:34:09 EDT

Has anyone ever heard of "majestic forge"? They sell forges on ebay and have a web site. Im in the market to buy one. was just wondering if anyone has used one. or purchased a forge from them?
   Mario - Saturday, 07/03/10 22:49:40 EDT


I have begun making my own dies and for a while I forged the dovetail and then welded it to the die body. Recently I've begun machining the dies and today I finally got to cutting the dovetail. I am using a 1" high speed steel end mill that has been ground to a dovetail angle of 5 degrees with a 1/8" corner radius. The dovetail section of the die is 1.75" tall and about 11" long. I do not know the grade of steel or hardness, but based on the way it works and similar chunks I've gotten from the scrap tub at work I suspect it to be 4330 quenched and tempered to about 340 brinell. I've been running my cutter at 200-250 rpms with a maximum depth of cut of 0.020" and a feed rate of 1.75" per minute. I was able to complete the cutting on one side of the dovetail, but I noticed that the cutter's edges have started to break down. These are small chips and nicks in the edges that should be easily removed with a re-sharpening pass, but I was surprised to see this level of wear after what I consider to be only a small amount of use. Can anyone offer suggestions as to how I can improve the cutter life in this machining operation? Certainly cutting the die in a softer condition would help, but I can't do that with this die. I'd certainly appreciate any advice you have on this as well as alternative ways to set up the work to cut the dovetail that don't require the use of custom ground cutters. Thanks.

   Patrick Nowak - Saturday, 07/03/10 23:38:12 EDT

Making Dies: Patrick, I'm not sure of the conversion as I have seen many between Brinell and Rockwell that did not agree but using the best HSS (the good cobalt stuff) the hardest tool steel you can machine is 44-45HRc. We used to purchase a lot of preheat treated H13 at this hardness that is made to be machined with HSS. It WOULD machine but it was hard on tools. But in some instances we would end up using solid carbide tools.

First thing is to run your tool below 100 SFM (you are running about 65 so that should be OK. Second is to use coolant. Our guys used little mist coolant systems that were just a bottle, a nozzle and compressed air. Flooding systems are better as they wash away the chips. The third thing is to carefully keep chips out from under the cutter (thus the flood coolant). Chips of these steels will rub, heat and harden immediately wrecking the tool. When they come off hot the H13 chips air harden and cause a LOT of wear on the machine. On these materials we would be constantly brushing the chips off the work and cutter with a small brush.

The above also applies to annealed tool steels as well.

If you are side milling then the 1" cutter is a marginal diameter for the length of cut you are taking. Cutters on this long of a side cut flex a lot and chatter and vibrate near the end damaging the entire edge. You can take long side cuts in soft materials but in tough materials you should not use more than one diameter of depth.

To avoid the long side cut you can end mill the dovetail. This does not require a special ground cutter but does require setting the part at an angle OR tilting the head (if you have a mill that can do so). In both cases you will need to check the actual angle with a precision protractor or a sine plate.

On this steel most guys would be end milling with a carbide insert tool. I might be inclined to use a shaper. . .

I suspect others will have input that varies from mine.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/04/10 00:04:57 EDT

Patrick Nowak, Without seeing your set up I have to say you're probably running the cutter too fast (RPM) for the material.
What do the chips look like as they come off the work? They should be just the same as the steel is. If they are turning color while useing a HSS cutter then you are going too fast.
You should also be useing some kind of cutting fluid. Anything is better than nothing BUT, motor oil IS NOT a cutting fluid. You could check with a plumbing shop or hardware store for some pipe thread cutting oil and brush it on as you go. There are various kinds of stick wax cutting coumpounds available through places like MSC or Rutland Tool ect...
Your depth of cut and feed rate my be too aggresive for the material as well. If you slow your RPM's down another step you will be taking a fairly healthy cut in that 4330 and you may already be done for if your cutter is getting dull. Any chatter or "howling" of the tool will ruin it fast in this stuff.
Did you have the cutting tool profesionaly ground or did you do it by hand?
Either way if the primary and secondary cutting angles are'nt right it will cause rapid tool break down.
Finely, that material is one of those that is the very hell to work with so don't expect it to go easy.
Do you have enough stock to take off that it would justify a pass with a FINE TOOTH Roughing endmill, bearing in mind that you would have to leave enough stock on the bottom for clean up with the dove tail cutter.
Too bad I couldn't see a video of what you're doing, it would reduce the speculation by much.
   - merl - Sunday, 07/04/10 00:49:08 EDT

Re: Hydraulic cylinders on air. Thanks to Guru and ptree for helpful info. Guru, I met you some years ago at Southeastern Conference at the Big Blue site. I was fairly new to blacksmithing and in addition filling in as Blacksmith Assoc of MO (BAM) editor. We had time for an extended conversation, your encouragement and words of counsel, I still value.
   Ned Digh - Sunday, 07/04/10 01:05:44 EDT

Guru, That's the first thing I thought of was to make those dove tails on the shaper but, I figured if Patrick is already doing them on the mill he may not have the shaper capibility.
Personaly I was thinking a SFM closer to 30 if not useing M-42 cobalt HSS and flood coolant.
I was going to mention to Patrick to make sure you are conventional milling (feeding the work AGAINST the rotation of the cutter) unless the mill you're using has good ball screws in it.

I also want to thank everyone for the great input on my welding/restoration delema.
I also forgot to mention I have been thinking about just useing glue/epoxy to stick some of the patches in place.
We are currently useing some increadably strong stuff at work to put together a "weapons ring" for our armour plate kits going on a veriaty of vehicals.
It's the same stuff that Peterbuilt uses on their OTR tractors for what it's worth...
   - merl - Sunday, 07/04/10 01:15:29 EDT

On my Hay Budden I got just last week Iam sure that it is of the newer steel version because of the high pitched ring and the rebound. I havent used it much and it is still not locked down. I just dont use an anvil much but when I need it there is just no replacement. I used the chain around the base trick works for me but getting a good stump will be the best. I have some nice pieces of birch out in the fire wood pile, to bad they just happen to be on the bottom though. ;((

I like the profile of the horn on the HB. I did after looking very close find the Brooklyn in the NY it just didnt get stamped well or has been worn off. This little anvil has a nice straight face. The sweet spot is quite large to unlike my Henry Wright which is more confined. And guru, oh yes if you hit the tail on the side it is really loud and high pitched.

Now I have a question on old horse farm wagon metal parts. Are they wrought Iron or steel. I have a few pieces (heavy) I move this stuff around with a forklift, from an old wooden wheel wagon and was wondering? Of if someone could use the axle skines I have a couple of those too.

Now if this stuff is wrought iron, rather than just using as pieces for stuff, I thought maybe if there is a Smitty that would like to have it. If there is a local guy to Spokane Wa area that could use it it is free for picking up here. Should they like to bring a few pieces of steel I wouldnt turn it down but is not required.

PS: I rarely haul old metal to scrap, usually from there, so dont worry they wont go there for a while I hope for a long while;)) cause Ill be six ft under when they go there!
   tmac - Sunday, 07/04/10 01:35:18 EDT

I'm in the planning stages of build a junck yard power hammer. A few years ago there was a page on anvilfire on how to make dies. I can't seem to find it. Can someone help?
   Ben Overton - Sunday, 07/04/10 05:36:19 EDT

We never had much luck milling pre hardened tool steel dovetails with HSS cutters. Our less than perfect milling machines have to much slop in them.

The way I do it now is by tipping the head of the machine 5 deg (well, we do 8deg but its the same principle), and use a very small diameter (1.25") face mill that takes square inserts, and feeding the cut down on the quill of the machine.

The small diameter allows the cutter to work down to near the bottom of the dovetail without fowling on the die block seating face.

I leave some metal at the bottom of the dovetail to allow me to form a radius with a 10mm dia 'button tip' cutter (that we turned the shank down on to give clearance on the angle face). I set the head of the machine back square to put the rads in.

If I need to form a bigger radius I just generate it with a few well placed passes with the 10mm tip, and polish up with a die grinder to remove the steps.

Purchased new the cutters and some spare tips were about $500 from an engineers supply place (I could have saved a lot if I had a few days to shop around) The cutters paid for themselves on one modest sized pair of die blocks (10" along the dovetail)

I hope the above makes sense, let me know if you want a sketch which will make it clearer!
   - John N - Sunday, 07/04/10 05:58:18 EDT

edit to above post.

When I say 'feeding the cut down on the quill of the machine' I mean milling one pass along the length of the dovetail, then putting on another 1/8" cut for the next pass by lowering the quill 1/8"

Much easier done than described :)
   - John N - Sunday, 07/04/10 06:01:28 EDT

John, Most machining operations ARE easier said than done.

The first set of dies I machined were made for someone else. They had to have the wedge taper on one side. I used the pair of wedges from the hammer to hold the die in the shaper at the proper angle and this made a perfect fit. On the shaper the dies are held upside down and the dovetail angle machined by feeding down by hand. This is one of those shaper skills that is not for the timid and one reason shapers are probably out of favor today.

The reason I like a shaper is CHEEP tooling. All they use is common single point HSS tools like a lathe. These are blacksmith level technology and have the advantage that almost any one can grind a tool for a shaper.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/04/10 07:40:17 EDT

At the valve forge shop, the dies got their dove tails in a planer. Much like a shaper but when you need to cut prehard die steel, and the dove tails are up to a few feet long, a shaper ram if that long would deflect. Planers for those who don't know them also use single point tools, but have a gantry that carries the tool and the table recipracates under the gantry. Our big planner had perhaps a 8' stroke.
   ptree - Sunday, 07/04/10 08:12:48 EDT

Thanks for the input on the machinging. To answer few of the questions that were asked:

I did remove all the metal a could with with a 2" roughing mill before I got to the start of the angle. The chips coming off with the dovetail cutter are not changing color. I am cutting in the conventional direction since this mill is loose. It is a 1943 Kearnery and Trecker 2H vertical mill so I do not have the ability to tilt the head. My dies are designed so that the bearing surface is on the bottom of the dove tail rather than the overhang at the top of the dovetail. The cutter was custom ground for me by the shop that makes and re-grinds the HSS tooling we use at work. I do not have coolant on the mill. I did brush chips away from the cutter on occasion, but based on what you've told me, I'm sure I did not stay on top of that very well. I have used both solid and inserted carbide with good success on other parts of this project.

Since the dies to not sit on the wings at the top of the dovetail, that surface does not have to be parrellel to the die face. What to you all think of the following plan:

Use the dovetail cutter to mill a block of 1018 to the angle and use that as an insert in the vise to tilt the die block. This would allow me to mount the die block at 90 degrees to the current set up. Then I could use any diameter cutter and shallow depth of cut to cut the dovetail angle with multiple passes. I wouldn't need the custom cutter for working the die steel and could use conventional carbide tooling for the job. The only challange I see to this is clamping in the vise since the surface in contact with the back jaw of the vise would now be sittng at an angle. Any thoughts on how to properly hold the set up I'm describing? Thanks for your help.

   Patrick Nowak - Sunday, 07/04/10 09:34:58 EDT

Patrick, you plan is good. If you make two sloping pieces then your vise will clamp tight on both sides (the same way I did with wedges for a taper). The advantage of this method as you noted is that standard tooling can be used AND when making repeat parts you will have your specialized tooling.

Another way to do the same job in a similar fashion is to make a tapered spacer to go under your vice. This could be a welded fabrication with a pin spacer tacked in place. You would need a spherical washer or tapered washer under the bolt. The vise would then grip the die firmly and flipping the die to do the opposite side would be easy.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/04/10 10:13:02 EDT

Some of this kind of work is where accessories come into play. They make both milling and grinding vises on sine plates for angle work. However, they are not nearly as rigid as hard mounted vises. But such tools can be used to make the tool holding fixtures for a common vise OR a specialized fixture that clamps directly to the table.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/04/10 10:18:03 EDT

Power hammer Die Design:

Ben, Except for some specialty dies we have generally avoided this subject for a number of years since one of out advertisers, Big BLU makes the worlds finest dies (in both shape and material). There is also the question of shop capacity.

Dies for all the early fabricated hammers were bolt on and welded construction. They had a square or round flange flange about 1/2" thick made of mild steel and the tool steel die welded to it.

For the DIY builder without a milling machine or shaper this is still the best method. The disadvantage to this method is alignment is determined by the hammer construction and the accuracy of the welded die fabrication.

Depending on the steel type you use the welding can be simple or fairly technical. Using 4140 for dies is fairly easy to weld. Using H13 or S7 requires careful preheat, specialty rods and post heat treatment to prevent cracking.

The die working faces can be shaped entirely with a hand grinder or roughing with a hand saw (prior to welding and heat treating). There are numerous die types.

Flat dies are the most common and are often used with hand held or clamp on tooling. On a DIY hammer these could be mild steel and dressed occasionally when rough. On one of his hammers Bill Epps had a large plate for the lower die holder that was drilled and taped to hold various special dies. This can be used to hold common dies, clapper dies or what ever the smith needs at the time. If the dies are going to be used for direct forging they need to be better than mild steel and the edges carefully curved in a slight oval section. This prevents leaving choppy marks in the work and allows forging long smooth tapers. Remember that most of this work is done on the corners of the dies so they are very important. To hand shape these you start by making a very low slope of about 3 to 5 degrees about 1/2" to 3/4" (13 to 19 mm) wide on both long edges. Then the corner is given a radius of about 1/8" (3.2mm) and the whole blended together so there are no obvious edges (dimensions for a small hammer 100 pounds or less). About 3/4 of the width of the die face should remain flat.

Combo dies are the next and often most useful dies. Most of the industrial type combo dies are poorly designed and fairly useless. Those with a radius on one half often have far too much radius and look like a fuller. If a radius is used it should be a large one that just barely drops the edges (say about 1/8 the width of the face). They should also leave a narrow flat down the middle of the die face. These can be hand ground OR machined on a lathe. Those dies I made on the shaper were combo dies that had the curved face turned on the lathe. Doing so limits the radius to something larger than the die height which is about right for the common die proportions.

German Combo Dies are those with the fullering side machined to about 1/2 the width of the flat face. The early versions of these introduced to the U.S. in the 1980's on the Riter hammers imported by Bill Pieh for Centaur Forge had sharp corners and cut up the work fairly badly. But they had that narrow face that is handy to the decorative iron worker and increased the forging force on that side of the die. Later these dies had the edges radiused and with more development became the style dies that are sold by BigBLU. These have fairly sophisticated surfaces and are machined as I described above with the flat side having a drop off on the edges and a smooth radius. The narrow side is similar with proportionally less flat in the middle but should still have some flat. It helps when grinding these to have a belt sander to make smooth transitions. Because of the subtle curves the best of these are hand ground and finish dressed by a worker that understands the shape and has some artistic skill, not just any wage slave.

The advantage of well made combo dies is that a practiced smith can knock out a piece in one heat that takes many heats and much more time by someone using hand held tooling under flat dies. This includes both artistic and industrial work.

Crown dies vary a great deal in design. Dan boon uses a flat die that has been dressed to a smooth gentle radius with little drop in all directions. BigBLU's are very aggressive and their small non-working imperceptably flat contact area required the BEST tool steel hardened and tempered to the most perfect condition. Both types have their uses and each smith needs to develop a technique and style of work suitable for them. Again, while these can be rough machined their compound curves require hand dressing on a belt grinder.

These subtle shapes are the same as used on hammer faces, repousse' tools and anvil corners. See our FAQ's on those tools. About 20 years ago there was a research paper by a German group that published a table of ellipses for various size commercial flat hammer dies. This ellipses should have a proportion of about 3:1 (width to height).

DOVETAIL DIES have no standard. Die dovetails vary from 5 to 25 degrees and each company uses their own wedge taper. Note that wedge tapers are properly expressed in units of taper per unit of length. A 3/16" per foot taper is very common. The reason for this measurement system is that it is much more accurate than expressing the taper in degrees and a tolerance. The difference between a 3/16 and a 1/4" per foot taper is less than 1/4 degree but is more than enough that the two tapers do not work together. These low tapers are typically measured using a sine plate. Precision masters are often made and used to compare to or hold work producing exact results.

One method that simplifies die and holder making is to use double wedges, one on each side of the die. This angles the die slightly which makes no difference in the end. However, if you want the dies to be a specific angle then make the dovetail at the appropriate angle.

As noted in the discussion above there are two types of dovetail held dies, those that rest at the bottom of the dovetail and those that rest on the shoulders of the dovetail. At no time should you attempt to make parts that sit on both. Dies that sit on the shoulders should be considerably wider than the dovetail for proper support.

Overall Design starts with the ram shape and proportions. If building a junk yard hammer your materials may define the die shape and angle it can be used at. Dies can be square, perpendicular, or angled to the frame. When angled at 30 to 45 degrees to the frame work forged on either axis on the dies will clear the frame. When the dies are square to the hammer it is best that the long axis be perpendicular to the frame OR the frame have an opening for long work like the Fairbanks hammers.

When there is space the round based dies such as used on the Bull and Phoenix hammers have the advantage that they can be mounted at various angles if there are holes for the purpose. However, this requires a large round ram. The dies can be welded OR machined from round stock.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/04/10 10:26:48 EDT

tmac, A little before and after the turn of the 20th century, both wrought iron and mild steel were used for wagon parts. You might learn about the spark test for ferrous metal ID. Wrought iron should have no bursting on the fairly straiaght carrier lines. Mild steel will have some bursting.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 07/04/10 10:40:35 EDT

Hammer Considerations and Dies:

All power hammer have a lower limit of stroke. The dies determine the maximum downward travel. Leaving dies out or making overly short dies can result in damaging the hammer. On the better commercial hammers the ram is marked with the lower limit of travel. On other hammers you have to be sure to replicate the original die height.

The lower limit on mechanical hammers is determined by any interference that restricts motion. On Fairbanks, Bradleys and early Little Giants this is the point at which the toggle arms strike the ram guides.

On air hammers the lower limit is before the cylinder bottoms out.

On either type hammer too short of dies can result in wrecking the machine.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/04/10 10:41:41 EDT

Happy 4th of July
I am getting ready to build a new shop and would like to build a stone or brick forge. Can you help with plans? Thanks for the help in advance.
   - Doug - Sunday, 07/04/10 20:29:38 EDT

Patrick: Do You have access to a surface grinder at work, or know someone there that could "slip it in" and do it for You? This is an easy job with a surface grinder and a magnasine [sign plate with a magnetic chuck attached].

If using the mill, making a makeshift setup that tilts the vise 5 deg. is the way to go. Then You can use a flycutter with a hand ground carbide tool bit for the machining.

Bolt the vise to a steel plate, and shim it to the 5 degree angle and clamp it to the machine table. It will take some messing around with the setup to get it true to both axes, but that is what dial indicators are all about.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 07/04/10 21:44:16 EDT

Machining Problem Solved:

Thanks for all the suggestions on how to cut the dovetails. My wife picked up the cutter for me on Friday while I was at work. She forgot to tell me that the shop did not have any high speed steel cutters on hand so they modified a carbide cutter instead. So when I used the cutter yesterday I ran it like a HSS cutter. On the way home from church she mentioned it was carbide. When we got home I increased the spindle speed to about 800 rpm and feed rate to around 5 inches per minute. Using a depth of cut of 0.020-0.030" I got very good performance. The chatter and howling I had yesterday were completely gone. Clearly, I was just rubbing the work yesterday and the light chip load per tooth caused some premature wear. Thanks again for the help.

   Patrick Nowak - Sunday, 07/04/10 22:12:08 EDT

Patrick, Tell Melody that might be an important little tid bit to know before you cut:) By the way, if you heft that carbide cutter, vs a similar HSS, you will instantly notice the big weight difference. I can almost always tell carbide from HSS by the seemingly twice the expected weight of a steel tool.
Melody Get her chopper?
   ptree - Sunday, 07/04/10 22:19:04 EDT

Hey Jock, ya wanna have some fun? I found this place: http://www.highqualitychems.com/servlet/StoreFront
Wow! Nitrates, chlorates, perchlorates! Just about everything you need to have a good time!
   - Grant - Monday, 07/05/10 01:24:18 EDT

KNO3 is sold as "stump remover" and ebay was loaded with it last year. THIS year they have given up the pretense of removing stumps the slow way and one outfit is selling "black powder kits" with charcoal and sulfur. I suspect YouTube is loaded with tutorials along with the guys that have bulk rust makers for Thermite.

Back in high school we did an experiment where we made KNO3 from Sodium Nitrate and Potassium Chloride (now sold as a salt substitute). The book had a warning about combining with sulfur. . . The NEXT experiment in the book involved grinding up sulfur in the same mortars. I commented to our teacher that this seemed to be a dangerous sequence and if the mortar and pestles weren't properly cleaned. . . Well, the NEXT day, some girl had hers explode and take out a couple windows. She was lucky and only had a few scratches.

The making is often more dangerous than the using. . .

While I've dealt with a lot of this in my youth I was lucky they would not sell me the potassium nitrate. We made a LOT of fuses from the sodium nitrate potassium chloride mixture. Leaves a hollow salt trail behind as it burns.

99.9% of articles about gunpowder speak of mixing the ingredients and do not tell you the secret to doing it well and safely (the secret ingredient is the last thing you would think to but into it). H2O. . . But as it dries the safety factor rapidly disappears and is why commercial powder mills were built in heavy masonry three sided buildings with blow off roofing. Regular explosions and employee deaths were an expected part of the business.
   - guru - Monday, 07/05/10 07:12:21 EDT

Guru, "The making is often more dangerous than the using" Amen. My parents both worked at the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant in WWII, in fact Dad was drafted from there. They may smokeless propellent for artillery mostly. They had many buildings with frangible roofs. The ether towers had wax paper walls and a long, perhaps 200' greased slide for the operator to dive onto to escape. Those slides got used on a number of occasions.
The plant was closed about 10 years ago or more and is being converted to civilian use. Many of the buildings were marked with huge red triple X's. Those buildings had explosive residue and were all destroyed in controlled burns since they were too contaminated and dangerous for use or normal razing.
   ptree - Monday, 07/05/10 08:20:53 EDT

On the wagon parts I have a prospective taker of them at this time.

Frank Turley: For the most part these parts are to large for me to put on a grinder. Second I just cant see well enough to identify sparks any more.

I have NO experience with wrought iron. Other than my Henry Wright anvil I dont believe that I ever have had my hands on a piece. But wouldn't if this stuff since mostly Iron be identifiable by cutting with a torch? Like cast iron it should resist burning and just melt right?
   tmac - Monday, 07/05/10 11:19:13 EDT

Wrought Iron: tmac, Wrought melts with a torch much differently than steel and iron. However, a cutting torch generally cuts the same as mild steel. When melted the flux action of the slag makes it much more fluid than steel and the metal seems to disappear due to the flux running off leaving less iron behind. This is most noticeable when trying to weld it either by torch or arc. However, not all wrought has the same slag content. The stuff with very low slag (nearly pure iron) does not display the shrinking or disappearing property as much as lower quality coarse wrought.

Wrought can also be identified by etching or rusting. A deep etch will show the layering of the slag similar to the layers in Damascus. But it is another visual test.

While wrought was favored for wagon tires for a long time after mild steel became available there are still a lot of steel tires out there. So it is not a sure thing.

Wrought in the size used for tires is in demand and often fetches prices of a dollar a pound or more in the U.S.
   - guru - Monday, 07/05/10 13:26:12 EDT

A method I've seen used to identify wrought iron is to made a saw cut about half-way through a bar, and then bend at the cut. If it frays lengthwise like a green stick, it's wrought. But I guess it's possible that better grades of wrought might not fray that way.
   Mike BR - Monday, 07/05/10 14:09:15 EDT

Wrought iron does not sing like steel does. Tap it and you'll be more likely to hear a thud sound rather than a ringing sound.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 07/05/10 16:30:12 EDT

The ring test would work if all the parts weren't still assembled and attached to some of the old wood. These are mostly are still in 2 large assembly's. Front and back. I think the large round brake bar is wrought due to texture. Some raised grainy looking. But I have a taker on them that is an accomplished Smitty. He also has a friend that is an excellent wagon restorer that he is going to offer what ever he may want to use as wagon parts. So I found a good home for them.
The Smitty seems to be a western version of the Guru he teaches and runs a shop. Has a web site selling his wares and products. I would post his address here but this is the Guru's site and I dont want to step on toes here, it just isnt being nice.
   tmac - Monday, 07/05/10 22:11:19 EDT

the spark test isn't always a good indicator for wrought products, I have a fence section made of 3/4 SQ wrought some of the pickets spark as stated above others spark like a mild or med carbon steel (say a 1050 or so) all when polished and etched show a wrought pattern, and all will break up by tearing when abused. this sort of messed with me on a recent project , a viking sword with pattern weld blade and silver inlay in the blade. I planed out the pattern in such a way (useing the wrought) the the core (were the silver inlay is) would lack enough carbon to harden (bassed on the idea that wrought Iron is efFectively no carbon and the average for the core should have been around 25-30 points .... the core hardened....checked the tag end of the bar I had used it sparked about like 1084 .in the finished blade the multiple patterns and textures from the clean steel and wrought steel give a great look. I will let you know how the inlay gos.....I ended up torch tempering that area down to the point my gravers could cut it.
   mpmetal - Monday, 07/05/10 22:49:40 EDT

Old wrought was often recycled material even way back when. . .

I have a piece of 1" square an old country gent gave me from his farm scrap pile. I thought nothing of it. He gave me several pieces of similar looking old rusted bar. Later when I needed a piece to test my Junkyard Hammer I picked up one of the old pieces of 1" square. We pointed it and cut it off. The small part that didn't cut pulled apart like wrought. THEN I looked at it closer. . It was made of a dozen or more short pieces of bar forge welded together. Apparently it was an old apprentice practice piece.

An apprentice would be given the scraps from the shop and told to weld them all together and dress the bar. This one appeared to be pieces of 1" square welded into a finished 1" bar. This required careful upsets for the scarfs so that the bar was not reduced in size and the welds dressed to the original size.

Anvils have been made of scrap for centuries including bits and pieces of steel. I can imagine old anvils being recycled into new or parts from their manufacture into other things. . . You never know in the recycling business.

The process of making wrought iron can inadvertantly make blooms of steel, pure iron, and cast iron all mixed. These would all be worked into bar of various content. The cast iron will act like high carbon steel and its carbon migrate out into the lower carbon iron. The end result is malleable but not the pure iron and slag you expect in wrought iron. This kind of thing was probably quite common in the era before bulk iron making and scientific analysis.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/06/10 00:48:45 EDT

Gettin into wheelwrighting and looking for a tire roller/bender (machine used to roll the metal band on a wheel). Anyone know where I might find one? Please email me directly. dethomas2507@windstream.net
   Derek Thomas - Tuesday, 07/06/10 09:32:16 EDT

I have a very old forging manual (late 1800's) that tells how wrought, when properly heated and worked, became stronger up to around the twelvth heat. After that, as it says, each heat causes the iron to become weaker. After about six more (after the twelvth) and it becomes unusable.

So, if this is true, and given how we really have no real way to tell how many heats and forging has been done to old wrought iron, what is a modern smith to do?
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 07/06/10 11:29:47 EDT

Hey Nip! Must be what they mean by "over wrought", huh?)
   - Grant - Tuesday, 07/06/10 11:42:39 EDT

Nip, You really don't know. I've never heard of this but the number of workings they are talking about is a LOT of heats. I also don't believe it would apply to many recycling operations that are fluxed and the entire mass forge welded under a large hammer.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/06/10 12:45:37 EDT

Hi, I am having some trouble finding a simple and efficient forge design, I am looking for something practical and efficient, and the ones I find are dangerous and I would like to know a simple and easy brick forge design. Thank You
   Jeffrey - Tuesday, 07/06/10 13:32:57 EDT

I have a 100lb anvil with a forged emblem on the side of an eagle with wings begining to open and head turned to the side. How do I find the manufacturer of this anvil?
   Laurence Mullinax - Tuesday, 07/06/10 14:54:54 EDT

I've been preaching for years about the myth of zero-carbon wrought iron, especially the old stuff. As MP notes, it can really mess with you when you want absolutely no hardening in a piece. And then when bladesmithing there's always carbon migration to be considered...it will migrate from areas of high carbon to areas of low carbon, effectively giving you a uniform carbon content if you do enough welding heats on it.

Jeffry, dangerous is in the eye of the beholder (and his/her insurance company). Kaowool in a steel shell with a blown gas burner is about as simple and efficient as you can get with gas, and a cast iron firepot set in a stand of some sort (mine is wood, yes wood) is it for coal or charcoal. What do you want to use it for?

Finally, Lawrence, it's most likely a CAST eagle, that being the emblem of the Fisher-Norris company which made a very good anvil having a forged steel face on a cast iron body. They do not ring, they go "thunk." The 100lb size usually has kind of chunky feet, and there should be a raised "10" on the left front foot with the horn pointing left. There may or may not be serial numbers on the foot under the horn, and usually lugs for bolting it down under horn and heel. They're very good anvils!
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 07/06/10 16:10:51 EDT

Guru, Is there a substantial difference in "feel" between a Peddinghaus and Refflinghaus anvil (165lb)? Is one more durable? thanks.
   kuch - Tuesday, 07/06/10 18:35:40 EDT

Guru, Is there a substantial difference in "feel" between a Peddinghaus and Refflinghaus anvil (165lb)? Is one more durable? thanks.
kuch - Tuesday, 07/06/10 18:35:40 EDT
   - chad kucherawy - Tuesday, 07/06/10 18:41:06 EDT

Chad, Not that anyone would notice. Both are about the same hardness and if both are the same weight even a life long smith could probably not tell the difference.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/06/10 18:45:05 EDT

Lawence, Allan is right. See our Anvil Gallery. Toward the bottom there is a link to photos of Fisher-Norris Eagle anvils.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/06/10 18:46:40 EDT

Thanks, If you had an "extra"$1500 lying around,which double horn would you get?
   kuch - Tuesday, 07/06/10 19:39:16 EDT

I'll scan the page in the book and send it to you Jock. Actually, if you don't have a copy of this particular book I'd be happy to send it to you to go over. Make sure you send it back (wrapped in Kaowool)
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 07/06/10 20:04:57 EDT

Nip, that sounds a deal! I have a book scanner that does less damage, especially to old books.

Kuch, I have a thing about the forged steel anvils and would go with the Peddinghaus even though it may be rougher than the Refflinghaus. However, I've had two NEW Peddinghaus anvils in my shop that were mine for a brief while and both had to go for the cash. . .

In reality, I'd be hunting for a good old used anvil since I am a bit cheap when it comes to things that I can wait for AND at this time I have a 200 pound Hay-Budden, a 300 pound Kohlswa, and several small old English anvils of various pedigree and condition. So I REALLY don't need an anvil at this point (unless its a REAL deal).
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/06/10 20:37:23 EDT

thanks ,guru,also looking at the nimba. am I splitting hairs?
   kuch - Tuesday, 07/06/10 20:45:42 EDT

Kuch, The Nimba is one of the world's best AND made in the USA. Many folks swear by them. If you can get used to the Italian style anvil they are VERY solid and more effective mass per pound than the taller English and German pattern anvils.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/06/10 22:42:44 EDT

Guru I have a question for you?
Now you seem to be here a lot, you are running a business you must also make products in your shop. I know just how much work any small business is, I done it. One is when do you sleep? the Second is just how do you find the time to do all this? I can hardly stay ahead of the weeds! ;(( Just staying up on every day chores and maintenance on equipment is a big deal for me these days!! You got to be nearing the big 6 0 to. I guarantee you being 60 is not like being even 55 ;(( Been there done that!
   tmac - Tuesday, 07/06/10 23:22:25 EDT

Can you recommend some books that discuss various techniques for building ornamental fences and gates? I really like Josh Greenwoods work and (closer to me) Sergey Sakirkin's work.
Boise Idaho
   deloid - Wednesday, 07/07/10 04:02:37 EDT

Anvils. When we're young, we're in the acquistion phase. When we're old, we reach the relinquishing phase.

www.rathole.com is another place to look for anvils made in the U.S.

Deloid, Gate construction is shown and discussed in the British book, "Wrought Ironwork" originally published by the Rural Industries Bureau in London. There is good gate making information in the out-of-print 1932 book, "The Din of a Smithy" by Stevenson. I don't know of a book about fencing. The latest "Anvil Ring" magazine has an pretty good article on Jim Pigott's fence for the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson, Mississippi. Lots of fences had anchored braces which are diagonal struts every 8 to 12 feet or so.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/07/10 09:11:48 EDT

gate and fencing info...
check out NOMMA they are the main groop for ornamental work in the US. the mag fabricator is full of useful info and the top job competition is always good for inspiration. (we took a bronze last year for one of our tables Sergey Sakirkin took the gold for a fire place screen in that category)
there is also a book by peter Parkinson that is very good I forget the name of it , but remember it as being full of color photos of a lot of very good ironwork.
   mpmetal - Wednesday, 07/07/10 09:31:53 EDT

The guru's Life: tmac, anvilfire IS my business. We earn income from the banner ads and google click through ads and we sell a few products from our store. I also do some web work and hosting for other folks. My shop is maintained for R&D and demos. And in the near future it will soon become our video studio for video demos. We have plans for a few products to be made in the shop.

Operating anvilfire requires constant maintenance. These forums are manually archived (supposedly weekly and monthly but I get behind). And I could work every hour of the day compiling FAQs, setting up articles, comics and videos (on TOP of answering questions).

Making images suitable for posting here and on other sites I maintain takes at least half my time or more. You don't really think all those beautiful anvil photos on our anvil gallery looked like that (perfect lighting, no background, drop shadows) when I received them do you? Every one of those images has been carefully resized, reworked, cleaned up and often repaired. Many come to me with corners cut off or the tip of the horn missing, junk blocking the view. . . They all get reworked to as close to perfection as possible within the original resolution and focus (focus is nearly impossible to fix). Even product photos come to me that way. I do the same image processing for SwageBlocks.com and clients such as the Kaynes and BigBLU. I also take all the book cover photos for our reviews that you may also see on other web sites (some without permission) that sell those books. Publishers do a terrible job so we do our own!

Group photos such as on SwageBlocks.com and the group at the top of the Old Millstone Forge gallery that LOOK real are fabrications from individual photos. Don't trust anything you see in the digital world!

This group and the cones group on SwageBlocks.com were taken in different places, with different cameras, years apart and under vastly different lighting conditions. The big stepped cone in the middle of the cones group had a hold down fixture and chains on it plus chalked markings and a corner missing. . .

My shop had a major setback when I had to move a few years ago. My old shop was built to purpose, it had 16 foot ceilings and had a heavy duty mono-rail with two two ton hoists (thus a 4 ton capacity). While a monorail is not perfect it takes no floor space and covered the length of the shop. The new shop I am in was cheaply built and the structure cannot support any kind of hoisting. So I had to purchase a soft tired lift truck (fork lift). While this has SOME advantages it can also be tricky getting heavy loads of the truck and is not nearly as safe as a stationary hoist. It is also ANOTHER thing to maintain and needs brake work now. I am also still moving. . . About 1/2 of my machinery is still in the old shop. I've moved most of small tools but still have several truck loads to go.

Grass? Who cuts grass? In my old place I paid someone to do it about 2 to 3 times a years because I was not physically able to do it AND I had gotten to the point where I needed new lawn equipment and figured I could pay someone for about 5 years for what the equipment would cost. IF I was lucky and the equipment lasted longer than that without a high level of repairs I MIGHT get ahead. . . In the new place we (generally helpers) cut the weeds out of the immediate area of the house once or twice a year and the rest of the lot is in wildflowers and gets mowed with a tractor by someone else once a year.

Yep, I'm getting close to the big 60 (that might surprise folks who thought I was about 100 a decade ago. . ). But on my new health regimen (the Dr. Joel Fuhrman Live for Life plan) I am losing weight (40 pounds so far) and feeling much better every day. By the time I hit 60 I expect to be in better shape and feel better than when I was 50 and in another year be in the shape I was in at 25. Fuhrman is THE health guru. If you want to be healthy and active to the end of your days READ his books to learn how. His is not just another FAD, it is based on the best honest scientific evidence and most recent health and longevity research.

This is not a hobby site as many are. It is a full time business. I expect to be here another decade from now adding to articles, fine tuning the site, adding more and more information.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/07/10 10:08:51 EDT

Architectural Work: There is no one authoritative book on this subject that covers everything from design to joinery. The work Josh Greenwood does is the result of over 40 years of studying art and ironwork plus his own experience. He spent several years developing the tools and techniques you see in those items on his home page. He is also a stickler for "traditional" joinery techniques. He uses a lot of forge welding, riveting and collaring. You will not find a single arc weld in any of his forged work. Much of the forging is serious work. See the videos of Josh upsetting a 2" bar to 3" on the AnvilCAM page.

Josh's library includes dozens of books on architectural work and dozens more on art and architecture. This is typical of most professional smiths. Most of these books are of the "coffee table" inspirational types.

For inspiration and details of wide variety see the books we have reviewed on our Book Shelf page, particularly the Italian books sold by Artisan Ideas. Besides those reviewed we have more in the works which I can highly recommend, These are Cancelio D'Italia and Ferri Mastri. Besides a lot of traditional work they also include some wonderful work Europeans are doing using negative space in plate rather than the kitschy silhouette work a lot of Americans are doing.

Note that many of the photos on Josh'e site are more of my photo magic. . The "hands" photo was taken by Sandra Wilson (Paw-Paw's granddaughter) on the day we dropped in and she helped with the upsetting in the videos. I removed the background (an awful T-shirt Josh was wearing) and added the glow effects. The National Cathedral montage had each photo carefully adjusted, depth of field shortened, color adjusted, composition considered (cropping). This was changed numerous times until both Josh and I were satisfied.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/07/10 11:20:09 EDT

Well, I was about to weld up an eye punching setup with the H-13 steel when I remembered that someone had just talked about welding H-13 on Anvilfire and that it needed to be pre-heated and then heat treated afterwards.

Could I get the specific details on that or be directed to where to find that information?
   - Stormcrow - Wednesday, 07/07/10 11:45:01 EDT

I just mentioned it above on the discussion about hammer dies. Tom Troszak used to make his dies this way. The dies and base plate were preheated to 350-400 F and then welded with a high manganese rod called "Super Missile Rod". I'm not sure if this is still available but there are others that are the same for welding tool steels (ask your welding supplier). They were pricey rods, about $1.30 each (Tom complained. . ). After the welding I THINK there was a post heat treat to around 600F.

I'm not sure where you would find the details other than from welding supply manufactures or dealers.

These are the reason for having a lathe in the shop. I would bore a 1" socket with a set screw, weld it to a plate and then turn punches to fit the socket OR weld proper sized shanks to the punches. . . Saves money in the long run.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/07/10 12:50:59 EDT

Guru, You forgot to tell Tmac that in your spare time you are trying to keep your old shop from falling into the river.
   Carver Jake - Wednesday, 07/07/10 13:19:06 EDT

Don't remind me. . . Yeah, haul steel, weld big structurals, make BIG screw jacks (to replace the temp hyrdaulic ones), make anchor system, dig several cubic yard holes by hand (need cheap hard woring laborers), fill with concrete where a truck cannot access. . . (more cheap? laborers. . ) Place steel (the really hard part under a building about to tip over into a river, place new sill beam, then raise building about 16-18". . . All with NO money. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/07/10 13:34:53 EDT

Ah. . Did I mention. . . use up all the 20" x 75 pound I-beam I had been saving to build machinery with. . . and a bunch of other steel. . ;(
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/07/10 14:31:58 EDT

Hey Stormcrow! How ya been? I've had really good success welding H-13 and other high alloy steels with 7018. The key is in the process. You can heat treat before or after. I'd heat treat first for many things. Nice thing is the draw temp for H-13 is a dark red. That's what I preheat to and weld. Then let it cool to room temperature. Some parts will have exceeded hardening temperature so you need to reheat to dark red to draw those parts.

Heat treating H-13 is pretty simple; heat to orange/yellow and let cool in front of a fan, quench in oil at your own risk. Oil give more hardness but you risk cracking. You can usually get away with it on uniform parts. After it is cool draw at a dark red (held in a dark shade).

Works for me!
   - grant - nakedanvil - Wednesday, 07/07/10 17:12:17 EDT

Grant, thanks for that technique for H-13. I have some drops and intend to try.
   ptree - Wednesday, 07/07/10 19:31:23 EDT

I was going by the heat colors on Tom's finished dies. . But Grant's method makes sense. The hotter the tool steel the less likely it is to crack OR self quench at the weld. The post tempering at high temp should take care of the hard bits in the weld zone.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/07/10 21:06:06 EDT

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