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 8 - 15, 2010 on the Guru's Den
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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

Hi Guru,

A friend of yours just put a little fear in me about my soon to arrive little giant (25). He's used his without a guard but says that the arms or spring breaking can be nasty. Do you know how rare it is to get injured by these (if well set up and tuned)? Any deaths? Basket guard available as an add on for people who have suddenly turned a little yellow (not me of course :)
   deloid - Wednesday, 07/07/10 23:18:29 EDT

Ptree: Yeah, I really like H-13 for shop heat treating, it's got good visuals for hardening and tempering. That "black red" is almost not discernible, has to be very dark to see it. Although a little hotter won't hurt too much. I usually take the risk with round punches and oil quench them, bring them out while still pretty hot to the touch, but not where they will flame the oil, then allow to cool before tempering. If you can hold it, it's ready to temper.
   - grant - Thursday, 07/08/10 02:55:12 EDT

Hey Patrick! There's some pretty impressinve machining at the end of this clip: blacksmith.org/forums/threads/346-Shank-swaging-on-the-big-press
   - grant - Thursday, 07/08/10 03:26:46 EDT

Little Giant Guards

While LG's are about as safe as any machine with open moving parts spring breakage is the most serious hazard. The coil springs are known to become embrittled, crack and explode. While I do not know of specific cases of injury there are numerous reports of close calls where springs have broken and shards have flown past the operator's head. I myself have owned a 50 pound LG that had a broken spring that some fool had brazed back together in several places! It actually RAN that way! I sold the hammer with a disclaimer and the fellow that purchased it resold it in the same condition. The fellow that ended up with it completely rebuilt the hammer and wrote an article about it. Except for the spring the hammer was in fair condition and had a single phase 120V motor on it.

People have also been known to get their head too close to the sides of an LG and get whacked by the end of the toggles.

There are three styles of 25 pound LG guide system. Old style wrap around plate, so called "transitional" which was actually a heavy duty box design which was also used on 250's at the time, and the late dovetail guide type. The "transitional" models are the best of the lot but quite rare.

Late Little Giants had a front guard option. As the hammers had no standard holes for bolting on such a system I assume they were a factory add-on with labor involved that you probably could not tell from any shop made guard. They were made from flat bar, angle and expanded metal.

How you attach a guard is determined by the style of hammer. But in all cases it requires a little hole drilling and taping and some simple fabrication. I've seen one old style hammer that had a fantastic repousse' face made in plate that was bolted to the front of the guides.

When planning guards be sure you can still properly adjust the hammer without a great effort. The vertical height adjustment is critical and should be done any time there is a significant change in work size OR if tooling us used under the hammer.

NOTE: The Dave Manzer videos we sell have examples of guards as well as add on brakes. See our review page and shopping cart. These are the BEST LG operation and how-to information published anywhere.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/08/10 06:06:25 EDT

Actually Guru, this whole web site is full of the BEST operation and how to information period. lol

Often i find myself in awe, inspired or just generally pleased reading the pages posts and information i find here.

I seem to find new and interesting ways to cause injury to myself with safety equipment. I also tend to catch on fire once a year but that's a completely separate issue. How ive lived this long i don't know.

Evidently im the fool that proves things labeled as fool proof aren't designed to protect fools. Most of my close calls in my youth came from poor prep, re purposing a tool far outside its intended use or simply wearing in appropriate clothing.

If nothing else i have learned to give all my equipment a quick pre trip inspection before firing it up.
   Kevin - Thursday, 07/08/10 12:28:48 EDT

I believe tool guards were created to improve the gene pool. If you are one of those who remove them, your future contribution of the "careless" gene will be considerably reduced.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 07/08/10 13:23:55 EDT

Repurposing tools can result in some interesting results as well as unexpected damage. The dangers are sometimes obvious, sometimes not. . .

Bruce Wallace rebuilt a Nazel 3B that had been used as a "crusher". If it had just been rock that would have been one thing, but the substance being crushed was carbide chunks in the way to being pulverized to powder. The machine had standard flat dies and a hopper system built around the lower die to feed in the chunks and collect the results. Anything the dust could get to was severely worn and the machine was operated with the treadle locked in the operating position. . .

I once needed to cut a bunch of steel tubing so I bought a cutoff wheel for my old 7.5" Craftsman wood saw. It worked pretty good but was very noisy and a very dirty operation. Afterward the guard would almost not move and even after taking it apart and cleaning everything the grit still made it stiff. The hot sparks also damaged the light return spring. . . I had never had trouble with that saw until I used it to cut metal. I could have kicked myself afterwards.

I've used my 18" belt sander for metal as much as for wood. It is the BEST tool for dressing anvil horns and faces. However, once in a while the sparks will ignite wood dust hiding in the works and you have to be very diligent in putting out the fire. Besides the wood dust being very flammable the blown air in the tool makes it burn fast and hot. Occasionally burning clumps will spit out of the tool.

I've used twist drills in a brace and bit to drill larger holes than is practical or convenient with an electric drill. Some of my reluctance to use large diameter bits stems from a boyhood incident where I was drilling a deep hole in wood with a 1.25" spade bit. It snagged and I got spun around two or three times before the drill stopped. . While I am no longer the 70 pound kid I was back then I also have much more powerful electric drills that could break your arm if you are not careful.

I once used two cam action load binders and a piece of chain to lower a heavy steel beam from a considerable height. One binder lowered and put load on the next then the first binder was repositioned and the second lowered the load onto the first. . and so on. NOT a recommended method but I had no space to use anything else. As soon as we got about 18" we put in a small chain hoist and finished the job.

Then there is the guy on YouTube selling blenders with his famous "Will It Blend?" videos. . . blending (grinding up) ipods, golf clubs, Ginsu knives. . you name it. Of course he has an unlimited supply of replacement parts.

My dad was the King of repurposing. He outfitted his boat with electric controls including everything from steering and out drive tilt to throttle and fishing out-riggers on one control (a product we manufactured). It was my luck to have to build the controls (with all the lock outs and relays) and wiring. . . To operate the throttle Dad used a little battery operated screw driver rewired for external 12V supply. It used a screw to pull the cable back and forth. I'm not sure how he kept from blowing up the engine. . . The steering was operated by a linear ball screw designed for an automobile convertible roof.

In another case Dad powered a small lathe with a variable speed electric drill because the step pulley only worked on one diameter.

Removing Guards. . I have two old flat belt drive drill presses that came with big retrofitted cages around the belts. . . The problem is that you change the speed with these belts often and need good access. Sometimes you change the belt as often as every hole you drill or as operation change. Neither guard had a door to access the belts. Off they went. I'm still using the scraps for various projects. On the other hand, the near floor level V-belt guard on one was refitted as it was in a place you could easily walk by and get caught.

Our old X model Shop smith has a small cast belt guard that goes on the drive end or top of the machine when used as a drill press. My dad left it off once and leaned into the machine. . . It grabbed a chunk of his hair and jerked him into the machine knocking his forehead into the cast iron machine and pulled out a tuft of hair. He said he was nearly knocked unconscious and it was only his familiarity with the machine that let him hit the power switch ASAP. We NEVER left the guard off after that.

Many modern punch presses come with full 100% guard system that prevents access OR use of the machine. The manufactures warn about removal or modifications to the guard putting 100% of the liability on the purchaser. . So IF you use the machine at all they can claim YOU modified it and they are not liable. The modern American legal system working for you.

Then there was the oriental import table saw that Paw-Paw had. I tried to use it once, had a piece snag and hit me in the gut (no fault of the machine). But then I went to turn it off, the heavy looking but cheap switch would not operate with a simple flick of the finger. It almost took two hands! The lower blade area was also enclosed so that you could not clean out slivers or thin pieces of wood that fell into the enclosure. This thing was an accident waiting to happen. The saw left the shop a few days later at auction day for very little money. . . I have ZERO tolerance for poorly designed or cheaply made tools. A few have run afoul of "industrial accidents" in the shape of a sledge hammer. . . Whoops we need another trouble light!
   - guru - Thursday, 07/08/10 14:42:45 EDT

Guru, at the valve shop we re-purposed over and over. When you only buy new machines when cash is on hand, in the lean times you have to still produce. We had an old building that was about an acre in size, and all equipment went there to the dead elephants graveyard to die. Building a machine or fixture, and need a hydraulic power unit of say 5 Hp? That 7.5 Hp will work, grab it and it becomes part of that new machine. Need to build a vertical press of say 50 tons, that old, made in our own foundrey vertical slotter frame looks ripe grab it. Need a 50 ton cylinder? That cylinder on that machine in the corner looks about right:) and so forth. I repurposed from that building over a 15 year span, and built perhaps a million or three in equipment from left overs. Some very old. But they worked, and one thing I insisted on was that no machine was put into production until properly guarded. We did have a boiler shop that fabb'ed a million pounds or more of steel a month so that was easy to slip in:)

Propably the best all time re-purpose at VOGT, (Not Mine) was the "Mr Henry's" pipe bender. Had a HUGE worm gear box reducer, run off a DC crane motor, that used a big(2" drill capacity) pnuematic IR drill motor to drive the clamp. It would bend .340" wall x 6" dia boiler tube. Some of the bending dies were re-worked RR wheels.
   ptree - Thursday, 07/08/10 19:46:41 EDT

.... I have a big worn gear drive that looks to be attached a net hauling rig. . Russian. 4" + output shaft! Its going to be a bar twister.

I've got two gear boxes off the machinery we used to build. 23:1 helical drives with 2.188" output 15 HP cap. Going to drive a rolling mill with one of them.

Two of my machine tools had old truck transmissions as reducers. . Works right in ONE speed only as the ranges for cars and trucks are not the same as machine tools.

My oldest or most worn drill press, the 20" Joseph T Ryerson and Sons, is now a parts machine. The thrust bearing went to my bigger 25" Champion, the lower cone pulley is now the upper cone pulley on my Sullivan Lathe, the base and table will become a nice adjustable vise stand for one of my heavy machinist vices.

And of course lets not forget the Junk Yard hammers. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 07/08/10 20:16:17 EDT

My Lodge and Shipley lathe, built with a motor/generator DC drive now has a mechanical variable speed drive, off a roll forming line. Twist that little mechanical crank and the speed infinetly varies. Even has a tach drive if I was interested in setting up a RPM gage. Cost of a great mechanical condition lathe by the maker of the best engine lathes ever made, zero. Cost of the mechanical drive to put it back in use zero. The value of the knowledge gained in 24 years of factory grunt engineering? Priceless:)
   ptree - Thursday, 07/08/10 21:19:24 EDT

Ptree, If that lathe was built in the mid 1950's of later it has design and engineering in it that my Dad did. He did a lot of work on the tapered gibs including a special leveling fixture so they could machine the castings without putting any stress or distortion in the parts.

Lima made wonderful 4 and 5 speed gear boxes that perfectly matched the stp profile of step pulleys on old machinery. They are solid gold if you come across them.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/08/10 21:47:52 EDT

We used those variable speed drives for various purposes in one of the stamping shops I worked in.

In My opinion they are better than a VFD, because torque increases as You reduce RPM, exactly what You need in most aplications.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 07/08/10 23:31:59 EDT

Yep, A lot of folks don't understand that real gearing gives you more torque and electronics reduce it in standard motors. The exception is digitally controlled DC servo and stepper motors. The slower they go the higher the torque down to the point where armature inertia comes into play. But these do not come in high horse powers. I used one other largest made in a machine tool application and it was the rough equivalent of about a 1 HP motor in size and power. Great toys to play with if you have the financial backing. . . Wish I could have been able to bill for a sample motor and controller!
   - guru - Thursday, 07/08/10 23:48:21 EDT

Jock, my Lodge and Shipley is early to mid 60's. Had a motor/generator and three gear driven ranges. In the early 70's the axle shop pulled the moto/generator and put a Reliance DC drive on when they put a hydraulic tracer on it. It was used in the lab to cut tensile coupons. In fact there were several tensile coupons in the chip pan when I got it. The magic smoke had escaped the DC drive, and the hydraulic tracer was toast as well. The base machine was nearly as new. Another cobble on the machine was the 7.4Hp dc motor, mounted outboard of the headstock end, adding 4' to the lenght and the mount for the motor was a repurposed 200Hp adjustable mount off an Ajax upsetter. After I took the motor, mount, mounting adapters, tracer, and mounts off that 7000#+ lathe snuck in the door at about 5000#.
It now has a 5Hp single speed motor, belt driving the vari-speed drive, that in turn belt drives the headstock input shaft. (and my drive weighs about 300# complete, and I built strong)
Repurposed components include:
2 each taper lock sheaves- Free
1 vari-speed drive-Free
1 mounting plate and angle iron to adapt-Free
1 Lodge & Shipley 14.5" x 56" lathe-Free
1 motor starter-Free
6 leveling pads-Free

I am a little peaved that I had to spring $200 for the 5Hp motor and another $167 for the quick change tool post:)
   ptree - Friday, 07/09/10 07:19:46 EDT

The updates my Dad worked on were a major redesign of the carriage and are probably the same in yours. This was a wonderful time in the machine tool manufacturing business. Every new generation of machine was being made tougher, more precision and heavier. The goal of every manufacturer was to make a better machine than the competition.

Now. . . quick change tool holders are something I have no use for on a lathe. Unless you have a shelf of the relatively expensive attachments they don't have nearly the flexibility of the good old fashioned tool post and a few tool holders. You can also easily make your own tool holders for plain tool posts.

While the old fashioned tool post is not nearly as rigid as the quick change or block tool posts (which are necessary if doing a lot of carbide work) they don't nearly have the capacity to get into odd places and tight places. The only drawback to the standard tool post is that many users do not understand springing into and out of the work and the resulting differences. If you spring out of the work the tool does not dig in and chatter. When springing out the cutter rides smoothly on the work and can take a very heavy chip. I take 1/8" wide chips on my primitive little 6" lathe and 1/4" wide chips on our worn out old 16" South Bend as well as my light frame 1936 13" South Bend. Both the larger lathes can use carbide tools if clamped directly in the tool post.

But I guess I am old fashioned when it comes to my lathes. . .
   - guru - Friday, 07/09/10 09:24:06 EDT

More repurposing: I've said this before but many folks don't think about having a kitchen stove in the shop. Many get thrown away every day due to cosmetic damage or needing a burner. The temperature control and timer can be handy (if it works). If you have space for it in your shop a kitchen stove in the shop can be used for:

Melting babbitt
Melting wax, tar and so on for finishes or to make pitch. A double boiler is recommended.
Remelting repousse' pitch
Dehydrating borax - in oven
Heating plastic to bend, pressure of vacuum form - in oven
Bending wood dry - in oven
Bending wood wet - in pot
Low range tempering - in oven
Higher range tempering and temper bluing on a block on a burner.
Heating pickling compounds such as Sparex.
Drying plaster molds (less than calcining).
Drying welding rods
Cook Lunch (heat tea, coffee). . .

With bare aluminium cookware on the outs I picked up an old set of heavy duty Club brand cookware for tar melting on the stove. . . Part of my pitch R&Dlab setup I'm working on.

Numerous blade smiths use toaster ovens for tempering.
   - guru - Friday, 07/09/10 10:03:52 EDT

And then there was the time when Dad re-purposed Mom's best darning needle... He's been dead for 14 years, and she still hasn't forgave him for that...
   JimG - Friday, 07/09/10 15:38:59 EDT

Hey, Those things are slick anodized high strength aluminum. . . ;)
   - guru - Friday, 07/09/10 16:55:35 EDT

Repurposing: Living in a city where the major product is hot air, the best I can do is a wood-cutting band saw slowed down for metal work by repowering with DC gearmotor sold as surplus by the Government Printing Office. (I had to buy a bridge rectifier at Radio Shack to power it.)
   Mike BR - Friday, 07/09/10 20:05:47 EDT

Hows this for a re-purpose? Take one early 70's Datsun pickup. Cut the cab off. Add 4' or so of left over box tube extension to provide a 7' frame tongue in front of the box. Add forge made from SS dust work salvaged from a fire in a factory. Take a large electrical enclosure from a Reliance Electric DC drive (See earilier post) and convert to tool box and weld on frame. Make a mount and add post drill to frame. Take existing window from side of the old fiberglas topper and make a pull down shelf. Add bar rack inside. Add forge blower inside box and run crank thru box side. Paint safety blue with salvaged out of date paint. Add brand new tires from neighbor removed from a Volvo to put on snazy tires. Add new trailer lights and a new coupler. Hand letter on side "Fold-A-Forge" and "Will forge for food". Add date of 2005. Use for a year. Note that springs are worn almost thru. Remove differential and springs, cut off end of housing, removing gears and axles. weld on mounts for mini van rear spinples and install a new set of springs from TSC. Still looks to have a diff, but the third member is gone, covered with an old cake pan.
End result? 5 years of demo trailer use, initial investment $42. Won do at home contest from IBA at Tipton 2005. Additional for the new springs another $60
And some folk acuse me of being cheap! Heck Thomas P would have figured how to have done that for only $102 paid to HIM!
   ptree - Friday, 07/09/10 21:56:51 EDT

I use a 4 sided indexing tool post on My 12" Clausing lathe. I keep a carbide facing, carbide turning and carbide boring bar in it all the time, and have a slot left for the odd stuff. This does about 80% of what I need to do. I use the old type tool post and tool holders when I need too, and hold real big boring bars in the milling attachment.

This is a lightly built machine, a bit heavier than an Atlas of similar size [Atlas made this machine] but a little lighter than a South Bend.

I have a 1/4" carbide tool holder for in the regular tool post. These differ in not inclining the tool bit up like one made for high speed tool bits. This works well enough, but these machines are not made for heavy cuts.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/09/10 22:49:59 EDT

Rat Hole anvil is still made by Steve Fontanini but it's name changed.
   Glenn - Friday, 07/09/10 23:02:13 EDT

sorry guru,just forged 8 hours on a very nice 250 PW. it 's nice but i can't get past that pristine face of the "new ones" . Peddinghaus or nimba(Forged vs. cast?)? i am leaning toward nimba because made in USA and cheaper but have never forged on one.the question is ...if blind folded , could i tell the difference between the nimba vs. peddinghaus? could you? thanks again for your expertise...i forged at joe harris's today , who was ABANA president years back and a great guy to hang with and beat metal.I know what he would tell me "use what you have" ... but i value your opinion. thanks.
   - chad kucherawy - Friday, 07/09/10 23:17:07 EDT

I mentioned Junk Yard Hammers but forgot brake drum forges. . . then there is a point where using scrap is not quite the same as repurposing.

One of the wizards of repurposing is Ray Clontz, inventor of the tire hammer and designer of the drive shaft u-joint belt tensioner grinder. Ray uses numerous truck brake and suspension parts in his shop for air vises and work holding clamps.

Besides the skill to repurpose stuff there is also the talent for just putting things togeher with what you have. When I was a kid I built a rope making machine out of wood and a length of 5/16" cold drawn bar. The bar was bent into hooks and cranks to twist the twine into rope. They ran in a piece of 2x4 lumber and had to be bent after threading through the wood. Thrust washers were held in place with some small scrap set collars and in other places by pinching the metal. We made hundreds of feet of rope with it hand cranking the machine. Some of the rope we made was over an inch in diameter. The hard part of making rope this big is anchoring the end (its like a tug of war against the machine) and working the puppet (rope separator AKA "needle").

The end of the rope is pulled back with a "tail hook" that spins in a wooden handle. To keep the bundles of twine from uncontrollably twisting together requires a lot of tension. Just like in tug of war the anchor man has to hold the tension. The rope maker holds the puppet back and moves it forward when the rope has sufficient tension. This is the skilled part of rope making. The most tiring job is cranking the machine. . .

After a couple summers of making rope we ran out of "volunteers" to crank the machine. So I found an old motor off an ancient adding machine and made two wooden pulleys to drive the machine. These were about as crude as you could get but the friction drive of rubber cement on wood against the larger bare wood pulley worked. . . We made enough rope that summer to build a spider web tree house. All with scraps of wood and a little steel bar all cold bent. .
   - guru - Friday, 07/09/10 23:45:55 EDT

Two anvils the same weight but one a Peddinghaus and one a Nimba or other Italianet anvil side by side? I could probably tell by sound and possibly rebound.

Where the heavier OR more compact for its weight anvil is most noticeable is how tired you feel at the end of the day. But there is less noise and vibration (depending on how the anvils are mounted).

The big difference in these two anvils is shape. The Nimbas have a very wide face which some smiths do not like but others prize. The horn is also proportionately a steeper angle which can make it more cumbersome to work scrolls on.

While I too have a lust for shiny new tools if I had a decent anvil (I do and I think you do as well) I would spend the money on other things at this point. I would buy or build tools. The money spent on an anvil could buy numerous motors to drive wire wheels, buffers, sanders or even a power hammer. Vises, shears, benders. . . all tools that increase productivity. When we got half way into our power hammer building project we wished we had build belt grinders FIRST. They greatly speed deburing and rounding edges, dressing curved surfaces and sharpening tools.

For the price of a new anvil one can find weld platens of 10 times the mass for the price. This is the ultimate work bench if you have a place for one. Or perhaps a good used pickup truck?
   - guru - Saturday, 07/10/10 00:21:31 EDT

Hey, i'm an aspiring inventor, but pretty much everything i
can ever think of requires custom metal parts, but i'm not
rich enough to go to a machine shop every time, and i'm not
about to spend 75% of my life learning how to become a master
blacksmith, so i need a budget/time friendly way to work metal. Any ideas, gurus?
   newbie100 - Saturday, 07/10/10 01:54:22 EDT

well, when i say not rich enough, i don't know how to machine
stuff, so i'd have to pay an actual machiner to do it for me.
(Which i couldn't afford to do.) The possibility of back-breaking work is a possibility as long as it's cheap enough for a budget of a salary of $00.00 (pretty hard to get a job right now)
   newbie100 - Saturday, 07/10/10 01:57:51 EDT

and easy to learn. Is there like a metal, heat resistant version of bond-o?
   newbie100 - Saturday, 07/10/10 01:59:05 EDT

To your last question. NO. While there are some good high strength plastics such as Epoxy and Lexan, they are only the fraction the strength of aluminum and even less so than steel.

Metal working CAN be done on a very small budget. If you are a good scrounger and have some imagination (which I will assume you do if you claim to be an inventor). But knowledge is your MOST IMPORTANT TOOL. See our book review page and our online books page for material to STUDY. The how-to blacksmithing and backyard foundry books are cheap compared to text books and have better information. Start with studying metalworking methods. See our Swords Resources page for the most basic (Metalwork Technology and Practice). $100 worth of books will cover the basics, blacksmithing and backyard foundry work.

Of the easiest metals to work, #1 is steel. It can be worked hot or cold. It can be welded very well using relatively inexpensive equipment. It is commonly available as scrap OR new. The soft low carbon or "mild steel" variety is several times stronger than any other non-ferrous metal (aluminium, brass, titanium, zinc).

The non-ferrous metals such as aluminium, brass and zinc are most easily worked by casting (melting and pouring in a mold). This can be done on a small scale in the back yard using home-built equipment. Be warned however that like many things this is an ART and SCIENCE. Study the books.

Forges and small foundry setups can be fired with charcoal, propane, and waste oil. In a foundry setup you can take parts that are useless for anything other than scrap value and turn them into valuable machine parts.

Any mechanism of even moderate complexity requires basic machining. While you CAN build your own machine tools small ones can also be be bought relatively inexpensively. A drill press is a minimum and a lathe is a necessity if your inventions have precision parts.

DaveB and Lathe
1950 6" Craftman Lathe

The small lathe above is one step above a toy but can machine a wide range of small parts in almost any metal.

Parts Progress
Parts made using the 6" lathe a drill press and hand tools.

The rectangular aluminium block was machined on the lathe, the large bearing block was bored to a press fit on the lathe and the acme nuts were faced square on the lathe after sawing in two.

See The Engine Lathe: king of Machine tools.

The drill press above cost $250 a decade ago and is in even less demand today due to the flat belts and open gearing. But this is a 25" drill press and will drill 2" holes (if you have the bit). In the photo David Baker is power tapping holes in the guide boxes for our power hammer project. See Drill Press Acessories and Drill Press Furniture.

Freon Tank Melter

Above is a little crucible furnace made from a scrap freon bottle, some Kaowool and some plumbing fittings. It will melt 2 pounds of brass in about 5 minutes. The large black furnace behind it is made from a propane bottle and will hold a 10 pound (aluminum rated) crucible.

See Molds I, Molds II and Lost Wax Casting

The above are a few of our casting articles. You will find many more on the backyard casting sites. Except for crucibles you can build most of your own foundry equipment from scrap wood and metal.

As to not haveing funds. See Finding an anvil The finding advice applies to almost anything and the part about having no money applies to almost anyone.

Good Luck!
   - guru - Saturday, 07/10/10 03:37:38 EDT

Jock, have you seen the new line of induction stoves? Really neat. Problem is (as you noted) aluminum cookware is OUT. One could theoretically repurpose it into an ALL-purpose forge/temper oven/everything else you said. Problem again is trying to find one in the trash.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 07/10/10 08:54:06 EDT

New technology eventually works its way down. . . Of course high tech stuff that makes it to scrap is often too expensive or complicated to repair.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/10/10 10:47:14 EDT

More about low cost machinery: Primitive machinery can be used to do a lot as well as "boot strap" up to better machinery. A wood lathe, using either a motor, hand or foot treadle driven can be used to turn handles, wooden spindles, make patterns, bore core boxes and make sprue formers. Such a lathe can be made from some wood scraps and a metal bar for the spindle and a short piece of metal (such as a large nail) for the tail stock center. If you want a motor which is all too easy to do today and MUCH more productive, then the motor and pulleys can be collected from an old washing machine (free!).

A lot of hippie wood butchers gather wood from old pallets. These are often made from good grades of hickory, oak and other hardwoods. . . Free hardwood.

Many years ago Mother Earth News had a series of articles about using auto wheel, tire and hub assemblies (like on the Junk Yard Hammers) to make a band saw. The tires have the proper crown to keep the blade centered and will run for decades on their bearings. While their designs had welded steel frames I've seen a band saw built in the 1930's with a wood frame and using wood spoke wheels of a 1926 Chevy. . . (turquoise with red pin striping). Cotton belting was used for the tires on this saw. Scrap motor and pulleys were used but everything else was wood except the blades. The fellow that built it used it for over 50 years in a very active professional wood working business. The man was the son of slaves and sharecroppers and the poorest of the poor. But he had talent and would not be stopped. He sent his children to college using tools he built.

THEN there is primitive blacksmithing. See our video clip Zulu Blacksmiths forging an Assegai. These guys are using stone hammer and anvil, wooden tongs and goats stomachs for bellows in a pit forge.

In our highly wasteful modern society metal to make tools from is plentiful and thrown away every day. Punches, chisels and other tools can be made from scrap auto springs that can be purchased for VERY little or obtained for free. Hot water heater tanks (available by the dozens) can be converted to forges and slack tubs the outer sheet metal shell being converted to a hood. If you are stubborn and hard core this can be done with a hammer and a cold chisel but you can also do it with a $20 saber saw. . . I built my first forge using nothing but a small 1/4" electric drill, a hack saw, screw driver, hammer and a few other small tools.

The "how" of doing all this is KNOWLEDGE gained through reading, study and experience. If you have no money but a lot of time you can do amazing things with a little knowledge.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/10/10 11:42:41 EDT

Are not blacksmiths known as "The king of the craftsmen" because we make our own tools, and from those, the tools of the other craftsmen?
   ptree - Saturday, 07/10/10 11:47:33 EDT

My home made steel cutting vertical bandsaw picture and details are on forge magic under "machinery". Saw was made using 2 " found on side of road" cast iron pedal type inertia exersize bike wheels. Saw uses the popular 93 1/2 x 3/4 saw blade, but I made the top slide so adjustable that it will use a lot of different length blades that I sometimes can pick cheap.The only thing I purchased was, the motor- everything else was scrap. Works great, I have been using it for about 10 years with no problem. I have a guard for the top wheel, but it is off to better show the working parts. The drive- not shown in the pictures, is a 60 to 1 right angle gear box behind the lower wheel- also a scrapped item
   - Ray Clontz - Saturday, 07/10/10 13:22:12 EDT

Forgot to mention- Saw pictures are listed under ptpiddler, as I am known as a "part time piddler" by my blacksmith friends
   - Ray Clontz - Saturday, 07/10/10 13:24:41 EDT

I have noticed that everyone thinks that the only choices for a clutch on a junk yard mechanical power hammer are a tire or a slipping belt however my first home made junk yard hammer that I still have in service along with my tire hammer has a
" chevrolet cluch assembly" that has been in use for over 10 years with no problems and is very easy to use. Just another use for auto parts on other equipment.
   - Ray Clontz - Saturday, 07/10/10 13:35:49 EDT

King of the Craftsmen. . . supposed to be. . but a lot of modern blacksmiths have very low mechanical skills and cannot maintain their machinery much less invent new ones or make their own.

In 1982 or 84 I was shocked at an ABANA demo in West Virginia when the 50# Little Giant guide bolts came loose and the hammer would not operate properly. The demonstrator stormed off like a prima dona and did not do his demo. . . IF he were any kind of REAL blacksmith he would have turned his demo into a "how to adjust your power hammer" demo. We assumed he had ZERO mechanical skills and probably knew nothing about mechanics much less mechanical hammers. A sad example of a modern blacksmith.

After the prima dona left, Josh Greenwood and I adjusted the guides and tightened the bolts with some tongs and a pipe wrench that were on the tool bench. NOT the right tools but they worked. Josh did a short impromptu demo to test the hammer with about 20 people watching. The hammer was used the rest of the weekend for fairly continuous demos as well as open forge sessions late into the night without further attention.

At the same conference there was a now fairly famous American blacksmith that was watching the British blacksmith who was making his famous forged frogs on the end of a large square bar of steel. The American smith had feverously made notes and drawings THEN cornered the Brit monopolizing his break time and positively nagged him about the little details that had been missed in the note taking. . . All I could think is how unimaginative this guy was (as a professional 'artist' blacksmith) to have to be told EVERY minute detail of the process. This is ART and the demo should have inspired him to use the general techniques to create his OWN works rather than copying others. Its different for newbies but this guy was at the peak of his career. Lack of imagination is often related to poor mechanical skills as well.

Shortly after launching anvilfire we went to a Hammer-In in Pennsylvania. The fellow hosting the event had just installed a nice little Champion hammer in his shop and had cleaned it all up and painted it a nice machine tool gray. When we tried to run the hammer it groaned and squeeked! The control treadles squeeked, the ram squeeked in the guides and the crank shaft squeeked. It would almost not turn over. . . SO, we oiled the machine. . . The hammer then ran very smoothly but you could tell it needed some break in with more oil.

I was told some time later that the fellow was pissed off at us for oiling his hammer! He then proceeded to completely degrease the machine and leave it un-oiled. . .

Since then I've had a rather skeptical opinion of many so-called modern "blacksmiths". There are a lot of geniuses out there but far more that probably can't change the tire on their car. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 07/10/10 13:55:09 EDT

I'm always amazed by the things people won't or don't do. The last time I was at Tractor Supply, they had trailer tie-downs on clearance. They consisted of about 3" of 1/2" round with three bends in it (the bar was bent maybe 30 degrees at the center, with the two ends bent back in the same plane so they were parallel). IIRC the original price was 7 or 8 dollars.

I know everyone's not a metal worker, but the fitting was designed to be welded onto a trailer. And what welder doesn't have a vise and a hammer? But then maybe there was a reason the thing ended up on the clearance rack. . . .
   Mike BR - Saturday, 07/10/10 15:45:37 EDT

I read some posts above and the desire of newbies to build machines and tools. I found an online site that gave a few examples and actual animations showing the desired motions or movements of machines with the cams, pulleys, levers , etc. Lets say a person has an idea of a desired way of working, movement etc., but doesn't have the knowledge to build a machine to do the desired type of work, it would be nice to have a book that depicted how cams, levers, springs, pulleys, gear boxes, etc. could be incorporated together to achieve a desired movement or task. From there the newbie could use his imagination as to how to build a machine to achieve the desired task. I hope I am making sense here. I have thought about this a lot.
   Mike T. - Saturday, 07/10/10 18:52:40 EDT

"507 Mechanical Movements, Mechanisms and Devices" by Henry T. Brown. Dover Publications.
   - Buford Heliotrope - Saturday, 07/10/10 19:49:18 EDT

Mike, There are lots of engineering references related to this subject. Some are theoretical and some practical. The field is so complex you can have a whole library (such as the Patent Library) of references.

A few of the books I have on these subjects: Tool Engineers Handbook by ASTE published by McGraw-Hill, Ingenious Mechanisms for Designers and Inventors by Industrial Press, Kinematic Analysis of Mechanisms by Shigley - also McGraw-Hill, Machine Design by Hyland and Kommers - ANOTHER McGraw-Hioll, Mechanism by Keown and Faires another McGraw-Hill.

All the above are old references many out of print. Many are old engineering text books. They are just an example of what's available.

Then there are the standards such as Marks' Mechanical Engineers' Handbook from McGraw-Hill and Machinery's Handbook from Industrial Press. Even common encyclopedias contain some of this information. I must have a dozen references on the strength of materials and analysis of structures. .

The sad thing is the loss of educational opportunities in our electronic world. In my youth I disassembled and studied numerous worn out mechanical alarm clocks (the old type with the bells on top), watches, typewriters and other complex mechanical devices that today have mostly been replaced by chips and stepper motors. Hmmmm. . washing machines are still mechanical. . .

Repairing or restoring old machine tools is a great education in this regard as well. Even primitive old tools like hand crank drill presses and blowers are great mechanical inventions and were the "high tech" of their time.

The Autobiography of James Nasmyth is full of ingenious and now BASIC inventions described by the inventor himself. He invented the lathe reversing mechanism that has not changed in form or function in nearly 200 years. . . He invented the shaper and then Whitworth improved the mechanism with the quick return.

Bits and pieces, spread all over. There ARE good books on basic mechanisms and then beyond that the world of mechanics is infinite.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/10/10 20:18:13 EDT

Buford and Guru,

Thank you for listing these reference books. I am going to see if these books are listed with Amazon and Mcgraw Hill.
   Mike T. - Saturday, 07/10/10 21:47:07 EDT

I recommend you buy them cheap. The engineering references are heavy on math (trig and calculus) and thin on diagrams and images.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/10/10 22:24:44 EDT

yeah, but the problem is that everything (besides computer
programming) that i've ever learned through reading, be it from a book, the internet, or otherwise has not worked.
(Example: I just learned about making a pyrotechnics fuse out of crunched up bits of match heads, wetting them a bit to make a paste, and sticking the paste to a twisted up piece of toilet paper, and the "paste" turned out too soggy to light to begin with) so, i'd need to become an apprentice to an actual blacksmith, which could take weeks
to find someone, and years to learn enough of the trade to
be useful, so i'm looking for the simplest means to achieve the desired result. I guess it's impossible, eh?
   newbie100 - Sunday, 07/11/10 03:27:04 EDT

at the moment, i only have the means to learn how to weld.
(from my grandpa) but i don't trust myself to be able to do what i learn from a book right. not to mention that dealing with 1000+ temps for metal-working probably wouldn't be very safe without the supervision of someone who knows the trade.
   newbie100 - Sunday, 07/11/10 03:33:04 EDT


You will not really learn how to do anything without actually doing it. I began with welding school, books, and trial and error.
   - Josh S. - Sunday, 07/11/10 07:38:29 EDT

Learning From Words - Reading vs Studying: Well, apparently I am wasting my time responding to your queries and comments since you claim you cannot learn from reading. I don't see any pictographs or sign language on this page. . its mostly all words.

We get folks here all the time that say they cannot learn from reading yet they understand OUR words. . . I think this is just a cop out by the lazy that think knowledge will be bestowed on them magically. That is why our sword making article is sub titled "Poof you are a swordsmith!" See the part about Self Education and the Costs of an Education.

Yes, you need to DO as well as read. However, when you read you MUST read with the goal of learning something. Many of us are forced to read things in school we have no interest in and end up learning to read with ZERO comprehension. But if you are TRULY interested in a subject you will read, re-read and STUDY each word until you understand.

While I had little or no interest in reading the "classics" in school I found that IF the subject was something I was interested in that it was easy to read AND comprehend as well as remember. I found that later in life I became interested in history due to my interest in my genealogy. When you learn your ancestors were thrown out of Ireland by Oliver Cromwell you become interested in that part of English history.

Also note that reading for comprehension IS NOT speed reading. In speed reading you are taught to NEVER back up and to skip the glue words. . . In reading for comprehension you read each sentence until you understand it and the little glue words often determine the LOGIC of the statements. If you don't understand the words look them up in a dictionary if necessary. OR back up and study the context. Most definitions are the words in context.

Another technique is to read a technical book or manual like a novel. Start at the beginning and read to the end. . THEN come back and study the parts you are interested in.

If you have no real interest in what you are reading you will never learn.

The example you gave is an example of your problem. IF in fact the instructions were written and not some poorly made YouTube video then I am sure they used the word "DRY" the finished product. Or perhaps "THOROUGHLY DRY". In any case, anyone with any experience at all with matches knows that even slightly damp ones will not burn. Of course there is a matter of PATIENCE. Drying takes time. So when we were in our bomb making stage at age 12 we had enough sense to dry our products under a high wattage light bulb. . . Yeah, forced drying is dangerous but so is the whole process.

Mechanics is largely theoretical and mathematical. Gears, levers, pulleys and all kinds of other mechanical parts all require simple mathematics (basic algebra, fractions or proportions). While you CAN learn this by working with gears it is VERY important to understand the theory. You should have learned about levers in elementary school and later in high school physics. This is learned by reading and doing the math.

Way back in the 70's. . I studied the sparse literature on adjusting SU (Skinners Union) side draft carburettors used on British sports cars. Within a couple months I was known as THE expert on British cars simply because I had done something else that no other mechanic in the region had done. Studied the rules and then applied them.

Books are CHEAP education if you read them.

As they say on the public service announcements,
"Reading is Fundamental"
   - guru - Sunday, 07/11/10 10:06:50 EDT

When I decide to make something or do something, I look at it as a challenge. It is sort of like a general that is going to invade a city or region, he sits down and reviews his options, then when he develops a battle plan he attacks with everything he has, if he is hindered or defeated, he comes up with an alternative plan and pursues it with the same determination. When he is finally victorious, he is joyfull and has a feeling of fulfillment that his plan has come to full fruition. I look at each task I do in this same frame of mind. I look at each challenge as an obstacle that I must overcome. I plan, study and when I am comfortable with my plan, I attack with full force. If I fail, I reformulate another plan of attack, when I succeed I have such a wonderful feeling that I have overcome an obstacle through my own planning and determination. For any newbie attempting something new, don't be fearful, overcome this fear with determination, fear of trying something new or the fear of failure keeps many from achieving a goal. Several years ago I thought about selling insurance. I called a friend of mine and ask him if he could get me in the insurance business, he said yes and was glad to help me. Well, I knew nothing about insurance, I knew nothing about selling, I was intimidated by the whole thing, I was very apprehensive. I had to have faith and determination to overcome this obstacle. I studied, planned and tried selling insurance. I failed time after time, I was discouraged but instead of giving up, I kept reformulating new plans of attack. I was determined to be victorious. It was similar to David attacking the giant with a slingshot. I was completly unable to sell some insurance products but I found one product that I felt very comfortable with. I would study and try to visualize in my mind as to how to approach and execute my plan. I read a book written by Napoleon Hill, there was one thing in the book that caught my attention....In order to be helped, you have to help others. Boy, that was a revelation to me !! Instead of trying to help myself, my goal was to sell insurance with the intent of helping others. I searched for insurance products with the best benefits and the best rates, I strived to help others. To make a long story short, I sold quite a bit of insurance. When I finally left the business, I had the joy and satisfaction of knowing I overcame a giant and overcame many obstacles. I also had a sense of satisfaction that I had helped many people. When working in the blacksmithing business, the same goal applies, in order to be successful, work it with the intention of
helping others. When forging work, forge the finished product in a manner that you would not be ashamed to sell to your friends or family. Be honest with yourself and ask yourself if you would by the product you just made, if the answer is no, then do not try to sell it to the public. Now let me tell you something I learned, if you know this product is good enough to sell to friends or family, if you think it is good enough that you would buy the product yourself, it clears your conscience and you can sell with confidence. Other people can SEE this confidence and will be drawn to the product. If you have enough confidence in the product, you can set a price on it, and know in your mind that it is worth every penny, then you will not be persuaded to back down from this price.
   Mike T. - Sunday, 07/11/10 11:33:48 EDT

Actually, you need to make products better than your friends or family can afford. . . Hand forging is an expensive business. Unless your family and friends are fairly rich you really can't afford to sell to them. This is a hard lesson to learn but it is a fact of the blacksmithing business (if you are doing it as a business).
   - guru - Sunday, 07/11/10 12:57:38 EDT

If your friends can't afford your work, you need to cultivate a better class of friends!
   - Friends in low places - Sunday, 07/11/10 13:06:51 EDT

Selling. . . Yep, some folks can sell anything. I can't sell a product unless I have the fullest confidence in it.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/11/10 13:07:22 EDT

Has anyone noticed the increased presence of iron work and hot iron in television logos and commercials?

Reference "The Gates" (interesting gate art in the logo but lousy gates in the actual show. . ), "Haven" with a grapic (IE digital art) iron weather vane, others with "hot metal" effects.

The artwork (or it may be digitally enhanced ironwork) on the crest of The Gates logo has an interesting use of flame cut silhouettes where two rows one in front of the other create depth between the objects and figures. While it IS torch cut work it is nice use of design.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/11/10 14:12:49 EDT

I recently dug up a very old horseshoe item on my father-in-laws land. Whats interesting about these shoes is that they are welded together near the tops and then welded to a very heavy 21" square iron bar that bends off on the end and extends another 7.5" out. The two old horseshoes on each end of the bars (I have two bars) are different in size, one measuring 7" long and another at 5" long. Another intersting thing is I had recently found a prehistoric petrified skull on the same land last year. To which I sold on ebay for around 300.00. Also my wife (as a child) they found a civil war cannon ball on the same piece of property. I`ve had some opinions to what they might be, but was wandering if you could give me some insight before I list them for sale, and if you could possibly tell me if they were actually made during the civil war era
   Tim - Sunday, 07/11/10 17:56:57 EDT

EEEK! GROSS! Some people will do anything for money.
   - Tina - Sunday, 07/11/10 18:16:42 EDT

"As they say on the public service announcements,
"Reading is Fundamental"
Nice comment Guru but I would add that key components in addition to reading is learning how to fulfill your curiosity, starting every project with the attitude that you can achieve anything you want and learning how to learn. Knowing these and testing your limits leads to a full life and an ability to contribute to many.
   - deloid - Sunday, 07/11/10 18:23:11 EDT

Tim, I would have to see a photo of your horse shoe items. But they sound like some sort of crafty tack hanger or something of that kind.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/11/10 19:56:05 EDT


I agree with you. It's at least as important, though, to *keep* the attitude that you can do anything you want once you start running into the inevitable snags. It helps, too, to have some idea of what you really *can't* do before you start a project. . . .
   Mike BR - Sunday, 07/11/10 19:59:04 EDT

"How to Learn" is a job schools are supposed to teach but it has been lost in this era of teaching factoids on the multiple select tests.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/11/10 20:03:47 EDT

Metal signs in shows. How about the Mythbusters (a show i hate but love to watch... so called "experts"). The Mythbusters logo is (in high speed footage) cut from plate, then welded to another plate, then cleaned up with a wire wheel.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 07/12/10 07:40:03 EDT

we have stock of used bullets- 50,000 Tonnes. The percentage of Copper is 73%, Zinc-19%, Silica-3.3%.

which is least cost option, smelting or grinding and crushing?

if it is smelter, what type and specification, will be suitable for the purpose?

   Prashit.B - Monday, 07/12/10 07:47:46 EDT


I was looking at a power hammer built on the Chambersburg
design. I noticed a rod and bearing attached to what I think is a crank, like the crankshaft on a car. That gave me the idea of building a junkyard hammer using a crankshaft, attaching a heavy steel rod machined to specs for the bearings, with the hammer attached to the rod. Use a rearend turned by an electric motor, in turn rotating the crankshaft. Remove the tire and wheel, drill an old flywheel and bolt it where the wheel used to be ( maybe stack two old flywheels together ). There would have to be a bearing on each end of the crankshaft ( maybe babbit bearings. Have a u-joint welded between the rear end and the crankshaft. Ok, have a split block on each end of the crankshaft with the bearings inserted, now have coil car springs tightened down on each split block ( this would keep an oversized piece from seizing up the hammer. ) Guru, maybe you could draw up a picture with your own innovations and post it. What I presented was just a few minutes of thought.
   Mike T. - Monday, 07/12/10 08:15:14 EDT

I said..U joint in the above post, my mistake. Ball joint.
   Mike T. - Monday, 07/12/10 08:55:19 EDT

Mike T,

You *did* see the EC-JYH on the power hammer page here, didn't you?
   Mike BR - Monday, 07/12/10 09:12:24 EDT

Mike, I do not fully understand your design, you have a LOT of parts and nothing to absorb excess up thrust and compensate for work height. The spring mounted shaft assembly is mass that should not be moving. These must be some sort of flexible link between the ram and the operating mechanism.

All hammers use springs, stretchy belts, rope or air as a flexible coupling. On the EC-JYH I used shock absorbers and they did exactly as their name described. . . absorbed shock. This was very inefficient and at high speed the ram floated, not moving at all. Self contained air hammers have a crank operating a piston that compresses air and the air links to the ram thus providing a cushion between crank and ram.

The least reciprocating mass attached to the crank side of the mechanism the better. You want most of the reciprocating mass attached directly to the ram. But there must be a flexible connector between the two.
   - guru - Monday, 07/12/10 09:24:56 EDT

Bullets AKA bullet or shell "casings" Prashit.B, This sounds suspiciously like a homework question. . .

Without the end goal it is difficult to say. There are also questions of safety. In this quantity of bullets there are bound to be hundreds of "duds" (bullets that did not fire) that still have powder in them. Safety issues have a cost beyond the mechanical issues.

The goals have to do with your end customer. If they are to go to a foundry (most likely) THEY will melt the metal and your melting it may be just doubling the fuel cost in the final use. Scrap dealers have different product requirements. Then there are questions about where the customer is located and how the product is to be shipped. Container costs are PER container and with this weight the number of containers may possibly be reduced by these processes. In some countries where the safety standards are low they will not worry about a few exploding bullets in the melt but in the U.S. a foundry will want absolute assurances that there are no live rounds in the scrap.

Real world (not theoretical) costs also take into account the equipment on hand, purchase cost of equipment and if there is a future use of that equipment that is going to offset the cost. Your location makes a difference. Is another local business that has the equipment and can quote on the job?

Too many undefined variables in your question.
   - guru - Monday, 07/12/10 09:46:33 EDT


Bullets are made of antimony and lead cores encased in brass, with brass cases. I sense that you are a kid prankster.
   Mike T. - Monday, 07/12/10 15:03:46 EDT

I figured it was a language issue not having a name casings. But also possibly a homework question. The paraphrased questions without frame of reference are typical of poorly worded classroom work. . . We get a lot of those.
   - guru - Monday, 07/12/10 15:29:58 EDT

Guru, I am a beginning blacksmith. I am building a brake drum forge and I'd appretiate your opinion on whether or not I should line it with clay?
   anonymous - Monday, 07/12/10 15:32:39 EDT

An inventor who can't make what they invent is rather like a cook that can't use a stove---I personally would not trust the output of either one.

What first I would do is to take an "Out of Hours" classes at Votech; welding, machining, etc. If I had to mow lawns on weekends to pay for it I'd cheerfully do so knowing that I was learning what I needed to succeed!

Hopefully I would learn that there is often a lot of different ways of doing something and some make much better sense in the real world! Look into "Design for Manufacture", "Design for Maintenance", "DFX"...

Going forward some colleges have a manufacturing engineering program that will help small businesses with their research and development---My father was a Professor for one of these when he retired as a company president and told me many stories about taking an idea and making it a reality---and often much better! Like the problem out here removing tumble weeds from a highway: pitchforking them into a dumptruck is slow hot work and a full load is only a few pounds in weight. So they came up with a front mounted "harvester" that raked the tumbleweeds up and fed them through a hammer mill resulting in a system that could run all day without a trip to the dump and hold a ton or two of tumbleweed. Best of all it ran off the dump truck hydraulics so no secondary engine needed!

When I design things I design them for the skills and materials I have making them easy and cheap for me to build.
   Thomas P - Monday, 07/12/10 16:00:58 EDT

I have a large heavy press? stamping? machine. Can anyone tell me anything about it? ITs says Blake And Johnson Co. on the side of it also Waterbury Ct. And then No. 3 is cast into it?
   Hal Burr - Monday, 07/12/10 16:48:54 EDT

Can forge welding be done with a torch? I want to build an ornamental iron gate and I want a classic look but my forge is a typical small drum venturi forge that, for obvious reasons, I can't use.
   - deloid - Monday, 07/12/10 17:33:38 EDT

Anonymous, NO. Brake drum forges are small steel and ductile iron forges that need no lining. However, sometimes the shape can be improved with a lining, especially if the brake drum is too deep such as a heavy truck drum.
   - guru - Monday, 07/12/10 18:36:29 EDT

Exactly what is ferrite and how can I use it?
   - Nippulini - Monday, 07/12/10 18:51:57 EDT

Ferrite is the name for the stable phase of pure iron at room temperature. Most plain carbon steels are a combination of ferrite and cementite (the carbon containing part). Austenite is the high temperature phase of iron. The 300 series stainless are alloyed to make this phase stabe at room temperature. The phase or combination of phases you want depends on the appliation of your parts.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 07/12/10 19:04:01 EDT


Is also a ceramic material used as the core for transformers and chokes in electronic circuits. A wholly different material than ferrite as a metallurgical term. Not much you can do with it since its extremely brittle.
   - Buford Heliotrope - Monday, 07/12/10 19:33:20 EDT

Deloid; can you dig a simple trench forge in the dirt by your shop? It's what I do when I need more/different forge than I have on tap.

   Thomas P - Monday, 07/12/10 19:52:32 EDT

Deloid, not sure what a "drum venturi" forge is. A venturi is the device that creates a draft by a high velocity jet (usually the fuel) in a gas forge. Drum's usually refer to the brake drum in a small coal forge. Both will weld under the right conditions and size of material.

It may be possible to forge weld with a torch but the problem of surface heating and oxidation is worse with an oxyacetylene torch than a coal forge. To do so you have to create a small enclosure (like a forge) made of high temperature refractory (hard fire brick) and heat the metal primarily by reflected heat from the refractory surfaces. I build these enclosures from several loose fire bricks. You also have to keep a slightly carburizing atmosphere to prevent oxidation.

When heating this way you need to preheat the refractory to a good bright heat, especially the surface the steel is going to lay on. It helps to have some pieces of refractory to get the steel off the forge floor.

You might be able forge weld this way. . .

The alternative is to forge the parts to nice blending tapers and use gas or arc welding to assemble them. You can finish the welds by forging or grinding. On blended scroll joints I use a chisel to incise the joint to make it look forge welded. Many smiths cannot tell the difference.

I used to make pokers with an arc welded spur. The spur was cut at a 45&176; angle, edges ground to prep for high penetration arc weld and then stick welded on three sides. The result was cleaned with a power wire brush to remove any flux in weld crevices and then forged to dress smooth. It made a beautiful strong joint. The same could be done with a torch, MIG or TIG.

I do not grind such joints because grinding is ALWAYS obvious. It changes the finish as well as leaving a ground looking surface that is never quite the right shape.

Done right you cannot tell these techniques from forge welding. However, the usual welded joints, even when ground or blended in (bondo is the cheap way) look tacky. Part of this is bad art, part is bad technique.
   - guru - Monday, 07/12/10 20:19:22 EDT

Guru, I suspect that a DRUM forge is one made from a tube or pipe ala ABANA pipe forge, and venturi would be a naturaly aspirated gas burner. vs a blown gas burner.
The burners that use a gas jet to induce flow of combustion air are in effect a venturi.
   ptree - Monday, 07/12/10 20:31:30 EDT

Features of Bad Decorative Iron Welds:

1) Any obvious weld effects (visible beads, undercuts, sputter balls).

2) Welds that are ground and still visible, welds that add mass where there should not be mass. Typical are the lumpy joints with a knot made on supposedly "organic" work. In nature there are almost never lumps at the joint. Lumpy joints are bad art.

3) Joint shapes that done blend, don't look like forge welds or split and forged iron, are at odd angles.

Features of Good Decorative Iron Welds:

1) Smooth blending invisible joints.

2) A slight swelling, never reduction at the joint (requires good technique forming the scarf if forge welding).

3) Natural or artistically appropriately joints.

4) In some classes of arc welded work a perfect clean bead with no sputter balls, lumps or undercuts is acceptable. As artistic work the welds should be better, smoother and cleaner than the most demanding industrial welds. IF it has to be ground it is NOT a good weld. Grinding on welds signals that something is being covered up.

It does not matter what technique you use, a good joint looks like a good joint and that is it. Any technique works if you try.

I may catch a lot of grief about the above because a LOT of smiths make really bad joints but a bad joint is a bad joint. Bad art is bad art. Craftsmanship is just as important in art as it in craft.
   - guru - Monday, 07/12/10 20:33:16 EDT

Not blacksmithing and for sure not art, but compliance to ADA rules, I have built a bit of railing for a friends commercial property. For this, I use weld elbows & end caps, and where I can I just bend the 1 1/4" sch 40 pipe.

I flush grind but welds to remove excess reinforcement, and blend grind fillets where they need it. The customer is not paying for perfection, just a clean design that meets code.

   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 07/12/10 23:19:59 EDT

For clarification- my forge is the darren ellis 8" diameter x 13" Long Horizontal Tube Forge with Forced Air and option of Venturi Burner. I usually use the forced air for a better reducing fire.

I can't dig a pit in my area so it looks like I can't make forge welded gates as I hoped to.
   - deloid - Tuesday, 07/13/10 01:20:18 EDT

Dave, you can have perfection with that railing too! With industrial/commercial hand rails the emphasis is on safety and grinding the welds is expected in order to have a continuous smooth surface with no snags.I have built literally miles of this stuff using the 1 1/4" sched 40 pipe or 1 1/2" square tube (all depends on what they preferred)and what you have described is the norm. Although I never considered this style of railing "ART" I always take pride in doing it right and having it look good. Actually with some of the configurations I have had to put up it does kinda get "artsy" what with multi-level and split level landings,kinky little stairs going over/under conveyors and railings around machinery that has to stop employees from getting their little fingers too close to moving parts, but, at the same time allow maintenance to be performed while running. Not art but artful in the detailing.
   Amos - Tuesday, 07/13/10 01:35:43 EDT

I was talking about a different class of work other than commercial rails.

There are many types of work where welds are ground flush. But not in forged artistic work. In forged artistic work the welds need to have the same texture as the surrounding metal. Unless the work is ground 100% it will not have a uniform finish. Grinding shows up as shiny places different than the rest of the work even when painted. Grinding even shows up after forging unless the work is changed considerably in dimension.

In classes of work where welds show they should be clean smooth superior welds. But in work that welds are not part of the artistic design they should be entirely invisible. The geometric work popular in the first half of the 20th Century was welded then ground or filed and finished to completely hide the welds.

My point was that welds in forged work need not be forge or fire welds if the proper planning and technique is used.

   - guru - Tuesday, 07/13/10 03:39:28 EDT

Deloid, Unless the work you plan will not fit your forge then you should be able to weld in it. In many gas forges it is difficult to get the atmosphere right for welding due to oxidation. There are a couple ways to correct this.

One simple way is to throw some charcoal in the forge. It will use up excess oxygen and also sublimate at high temperature putting more carbon in the forge atmosphere.

The other way is put a by-pass circuit on the forge and dump extra gas into the forge in the mixing tube beyond the venturi.

If you can't dig a pit than build one made of brick above ground or on a stand. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/13/10 03:47:29 EDT

The ferrite I have is the ceramic type..... oh well.

One method I use for hiding welds on forged parts is to simply forge the weld. This only works on certain types of welds, but if you have say an edge corner weld you can just hammer it out to blend it in to the surrounding steel. This method works with the birds-beak fire poker too.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 07/13/10 09:09:03 EDT

Cool Nip, I have always wonderd if that would work, to give an arc or gas weld that "hand forged look"
One of these days I'll get my TIG welder working again and try it.
   - merl - Tuesday, 07/13/10 10:52:18 EDT

Hal Burr, your question seems to have gotten lost in the welding discussion.

I have a question for you: Is it a screw press? That is, does it have a large threaded rod in the center with either a big flywheel or a bar with weights on the ends on top of this center screw? If so, it's either a fly press or a screw press, the difference being in how fast the thread allows the ram to move downwards.

If it has a pair of side-mounted flywheels with an odd-looking contraption of short rods jointed with heavy rivets on top of the ram instead of a screw, it's a knuckle press. These were often used for coining silverware and, well, coins and medals. They're fairly rare.

If it's hydraulic, it's a hydraulic press.

They are all handy for assorted processes, and worth what someone will pay for it.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 07/13/10 11:46:42 EDT

Alan, Hal wrote directly to me and I sent him a link to Flypress.com. I haven't heard back so I think that is what it was.

Merl, see my response to Deloid about welds. .

I've dressed arc welds by forging them since the 70's. . . However, it is important to power wire brush to remove the flux. Arc welding flux is tough and will forge like the steel creating undercuts and lines when it flakes off after forging. If you MIG or TIG its no problem. Welds need to be high penetration and moderate to little crown. High crowned welds on the surface will push the work apart when forged and result in a weak joint.

On long blended pieces I incise a line where the joint opens to give it that blended forge welded look. The goal is to have that smooth two pieces blending into one look.

I've done this on complicated work where you have a number of forge welds and then the piece gets two unwieldy to handle. The forge welded and non forge welded joints need to look the same.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/13/10 12:58:59 EDT

Ptree, sorry fo any unclear description, when I refer to a brake drum forge, I think of a large, cast steel brake hub from a truck or tractor.
   anonymous - Tuesday, 07/13/10 16:02:10 EDT

Anonymous, I too think of a Brake drum forge when brake drum is used, but when venturi burner and Drum alone, I think of a cylindrical gas burning forge.
No harm, I think there is no fixed nonmenclature for these things.
   ptree - Tuesday, 07/13/10 18:48:17 EDT

Guru, when you "forge" your arc welded joints do you take them back up to a high red heat or just do it at very dull red to black heat?
I like the idea of the insized line to simulate the forge weld joint.
   - merl - Tuesday, 07/13/10 22:02:29 EDT

I forge them at forging heats for mild steel (yellow). In some cases the closed joints weld, especially if there is flux from the rods in the joint. But I do not count on it.

I do not make a thin incised line, I use the chisel at an angle to make it look like two bars coming together that have chamfered corners on them.

I could have sworn I had an I forge demo on these methods but I do not. I'll have to photograph some pieces and fill in the gaps with drawings.

   - guru - Tuesday, 07/13/10 22:44:29 EDT

Look at the link below. I can see many uses just for this one mechanical movement. I am going to order the books mentioned to me the other day on anvilfire concerning mechanical movements. The movement below might be a good one for a hammer, what do you think ?

   Mike T. - Wednesday, 07/14/10 02:21:41 EDT

Mike, The crank and slider does nothing to add the needed flexible compensation member in the linkage. It also has high non working (ram) reciprocating mass which is bad for a hammer. The complexity does nothing for a hammer application. The important part of a hammer is the connection between the crank and the ram and how it increases speed while storing and returning energy.

James Nasmyth invented the shaper about 1834. Joseph Whitworth his contemporary invented the quick return slider crank mechanism as an improvement to the shaper as shown in the diagram.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/14/10 03:07:57 EDT

I have been wondering...what determines when you put your touchmark on a piece? size?if you are selling the piece? or no common rule of thumb?
   - chad kucherawy - Wednesday, 07/14/10 06:15:59 EDT

It is an individual thing. If you are satisfied with the work you should probably mark it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/14/10 09:07:21 EDT

With touchmarks I often think of a story I once read about the greatest sword maker in Japan. He never put his mark on any of his work. When asked why not he said anyone who picks up his swords should know it was made by a master. If they don't know, why should he tell them?
   JimG - Wednesday, 07/14/10 11:24:17 EDT

Timely discussion on arc welding; RJ just retrained me (after 45 years) and ran through safety procedures for my little Sears welder at Camp Fenby this past weekend. Just the thing for light work on the farm, and jigs for the forge. I'm still in the practice stage, so there will be a number of samples where I can experiment with "forge smoothing" certain joints. Another handy arrow in the quiver.

I took it fairly slow and easy for the rest of the event; still a bit shaky from a virus, but recovering on the banks of the lower Potomac. At work, after six months, we have a new boss; but as the now-former "acting" I still need to break her in. Oh, and OMB told us last week that they want us to save $3 billion; and have the report in next Monday. Life is just so relaxing at Oakley. ;-)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 07/14/10 22:04:08 EDT

I read somewhere (I think here a few years ago) that if you want to forge a weld (smoothing) a really high heat was necessary. Something along the lines that cooler heat forging weakens the joint (enlarged crystal?). Other references say that if you forge on a weld that a welding heat is needed..... kind of redundant.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 07/15/10 09:13:19 EDT

Nip, it depends on the quality of your welds and the amount of dressing to be done. When I was making pokers the welds and the angle of the joint was pretty ugly. But when doing scrolls and such the joints were very close to the finished shape and only required minor dressing.

But forging should always be done at higher temperatures rather than lower. It is better for the metal and more efficient for the smith.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/15/10 10:44:50 EDT

But, if I hammer on an arc welded joint it is only for looks. I don't expect the hammering to improve or degrade the actual weld. If I could make a consistantly reliable forge weld I would. I'm still trying to strike a balance between building only as much fire as I need for the piece I'm doing and, a fire big and deep enough to get a good forge weld all the time.
Face it, I'M CHEAP! I can't see useing up a huge amount of coal just to practice something I don't use in my current style of work. Yes Frank, I can hear you yelling that I won't ever get any good at it if I don't practice. It'll just have to be later...
I'm very good with Mig and Tig and used to be quite good with a torch weld.
If someone asks if those are forge welds on your work then they had better be unless you say otherwise.
I see nothing wrong with telling someone they are arc or torch welds made to look like a forge weld but, I would be charging extra for a true forge weld so, the customer had better get one.
   - merl - Thursday, 07/15/10 10:56:54 EDT

I just bought a Hay Budden anvil from a guy and it's painted red. If I had it sandblasted would that harm the anvil in any way? Also would it increase or decrease the value if I had it sandblasted? Thank you for you time,
   Steve Trettin - Thursday, 07/15/10 12:38:43 EDT

Merl, I think it was Holmstrom who said "saving coal to save money is a false economy, like saving feed to a horse, or apprentice (I love that he puts the horse first...) and expecting to get a full measure of work from them." ;)
   JimG - Thursday, 07/15/10 13:14:06 EDT

The number on my anvil is 5844 if anyone can tell me when it was made. It has the steel plate welded on the face. Thanks.
   Steve Trettin - Thursday, 07/15/10 14:25:35 EDT

I hate to keep on bringing up the same subject but I do have a new angle to my question!
What books are out there (in or out of print) that discuss different setups for forge welding large ornamental iron such as gates? More of book that shows a variety of pits, raised brick etc... for those that can't have an indoor forge. Tips on forge welding would be nice as well. I can do leaves, scrolls and I have plenty of "idea" books on design.
Thanks for your patience with my questions-
   - deloid - Thursday, 07/15/10 14:39:25 EDT

Tool and Antique Values: I NEVER, recommend sandblasting tools. Sandblasting creates a toothy surface that paint will stick to better BUT on many tools like anvils there are surfaces that need to be bare and places on the sides that paint gets flaked off or has a short life. Other places where scale builds up the paint gets burned off. Bare sandblasted surfaces rust much worse due to the increased surface area.

The conventional wisdom about antiques (and not all old anvils are antiques or collectible) is that ANY destruction of the as-found surface is bad and cleaning should be taken on very carefully. I like to see old anvils with that fine tight layer of rust that often indicates its age and how it was treated. BUT, the top antique anvil dealers currently are heavily (power) wire brushing their anvils and waxing or oiling them. There are some advantages to this. First, wire brushing, while it does put tooth on a surface also polishes somewhat. The clean shiny surface is easy to see flaws, read markings and judge the condition of the anvil. People do not like rust and this removes the rust resulting in a nice metallic surface.

But if the tool really IS antique, sandblasting OR wire brushing may greatly reduce its value in the future.

I often paint my anvils to cover up the rust and make them a little prettier, especially if I am going to photograph them. But I know that paint on a working anvil has a short life and I do not expect it to look pretty for a long time.

On working anvils that are not going to be used for a year or more it is wise to paint them all over to prevent rust. However, you never want to buy a painted anvil as the paint, especially on the working surfaces may be hiding cracks or repairs. I know a fellow that bought a load of large anvils from a dealer and about half of them had serious repairs and dubious repairs that paint was hiding. One anvil had a series of 1" holes drilled in the face and then plug welded. This may have been to repair a loose face or for some other purpose but the anvil was worth less than half what was paid.

If its a working anvil, polish the rust off the face, dust it off, and use it.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/15/10 14:46:49 EDT

JimG, Yes that is the delema I am wrestling with.
Remember, I'm CHEAP.
When I say cheap I mean I don't spend money I don't have to, not that I look for the lowest price on whatever.
I usualy get the highest quality I can afford but, sometimes the "want" is not justified by the "need".

Steave Trettin, I think most anyone around here will tell you NOT to sandblast that anvil.
If you can't stand the red paint then maybe just use some stripper to get back to bare metal.
I would rather see an anvil painted (even red) than sand blasted. The blasting will also do harm to any logo's and maker's mark that might be on it.
I would not blast it, if it were mine.
   - merl - Thursday, 07/15/10 14:52:49 EDT

Thanks for the information. My Hay Budden anvil weighs 140# and has the number 5844 stamped on the front bottom as near as I can tell. Could anyone tell me when it was made?. Thanks.
   Steve Trettin - Thursday, 07/15/10 15:20:59 EDT

I remember seeing a medieval Russian helm that was on exhibit with a cultural exchange art show back in the '80s. I could swear the poor thing had been wire brushed to shine it up for the Americans. Conservation of surfaces on antiques was apparently a low priority back in the USSR.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 07/15/10 21:46:30 EDT

Steave Trettin, My H-B is number 11243 and I'm told it was made in 1894 (according to Anvils in America)
I don't know if because your number has only 4 digits that means it is older than mine or not.
They may have not been numbered continuously.
I don't have a copy of the book but several around here do. You'll have to wait until someone catches your question that has a copy.
   - merl - Thursday, 07/15/10 23:14:50 EDT

Hey all, does anyone remember the poetic masterpiece Peter Hirst did on "The Blacksmith" back in early 2009?
While I was rummageing through the stack of papers to find my H-B serial number, I cam across my copy of Peters most exallent work that he had posted here.
Wow! What a great piece that was!
   - merl - Thursday, 07/15/10 23:23:54 EDT

I remember something and I think had planned to post it on the Story Page. . I'll have to dig it out.
   - guru - Friday, 07/16/10 09:00:42 EDT

Steve, according to "Anvils in America," your H-B was most likely made in 1893. IF Mr. Postman's theory on dates and serial numbers is correct, that is. The table shows H-B making over 3000 anvils in their first year of incorporation (1892) and over 5,000 the next year. I don't doubt it, but that's a LOT of anvils!
   Alan-L - Friday, 07/16/10 16:03:03 EDT

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