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This is an archive of posts from July 1 - 7, 2011 on the Guru's Den
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old stuff : montezuma's castle in camp verde arizona,....1000 years old, (used to live there)
   smithy - Thursday, 06/30/11 19:03:52 EDT

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico : I must mention Taos Pueblo which has been continuously inhabited for about 1000 years. My wife was born in the village, 2nd floor of their home. I believe that there are four stories in all. The resident Indians do yearly maintenance by replacing woodwork and replastering with adobe.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 06/30/11 20:35:54 EDT

Taos Pueblo : Frank, my wife and I toured the Pueblo on a trip several years ago. It was very impressive in light of the extensive history. We did a circle tour from the Albuquerque to Santa Fe to Taos to Farmingnton to Mesa Verde to Chaco Canyon and back to the Albuquerque. If we found a ruin, we stopped! Took us 5 days and we loved it. It was my wife's idea; she is from Roswell, NM. Nanu Nanu.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 07/01/11 08:19:06 EDT

Mesa Verde. On the way down I kept wondering how fast a bicycle could go on the that slope.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 07/01/11 09:47:51 EDT

Roswell : quenchcrack,
What does your wife think about the UFO crash of 1947. What do the locals say ? I have studied it extensively and believe it was an actual UFO. Mickey Rooney's wife, Jan Rooney, was on the Larry King show one night. Her dad was a general at Roswell during that time. At the dinner table one night, they ask him what really happened at Roswell ? His response was...I am not allowed to tell you, but I can say this...the government knows we are being visited by aliens from other worlds. There was another one that crashed at Aztec, N.M. but you don't hear much about that one. I think we need to keep an eye on Frank Turley, he may be from Zeta Reticuli. :-0
   Mike T. - Friday, 07/01/11 10:47:15 EDT

Old structures : In one of my favorite desert mountain ranges here in CA, at the way high country (think 11,000+ ft, like the photos of Tibet), I have found hunting blinds so old the stacked rock is covered in desert varnish, with the desert varnish formed in place. I know there is some discussion on how old that makes it, but in my book, that is way old. They were built after the large game was hunted out of the lower elevations (2500? years ago), and were abandoned when the large game was hunted out of the high country, 1500? years ago. A hard way to make a living, there were population (overpopulation?) issues in Native America even then.

David Hughes
   - David Hughes - Friday, 07/01/11 11:51:27 EDT

Roswell Aliens : My wife's father was a Police Officer in Roswell at the time of the incident. He was not aware of any big deal when it happened. It quickly became a pretty good tourist attraction so everyone bought into and supported the idea. I do not believe we are being visited by aliens; I believe we ARE the aliens!
   quenchcrack - Friday, 07/01/11 13:13:57 EDT

The Oldest Stuctures in Noth America and blacksmithing :
How do these connect? The fact that in much of the world the oldest man made things are in very dry environments is important. And even in those environments metal artifacts are very rare and mostly copper or bronze. The oldest iron artifacts from the driest and most stable of these environments are just ghosts of the original and often just a rust stain showing where they once were. Wood lasts longer than iron in these places.

We have very few iron artifacts from as recently as 1000 years ago. While there are some they do not compare in quantity or condition to bronze works from thousands of years earlier or even pottery. While they were "transitional" technologically the iron has all disappeared. We know their art better than their tools which had been switched from bronze to iron. If all their art was in iron just think how much less we would know about the the art and culture of the times.

As artist blacksmiths the life of our work should be a major concern. Our work is what we will be remembered by. It is our contribution to the social fabric. Proper finishing is important to the life of your work. If you don't finish it well it will evaporate into rust and blow away on the wind. . .
   - guru - Friday, 07/01/11 13:27:45 EDT

Population Pressures :
Little is known about specific population levels in Pre-Columbian America except the numbers were much higher than after European contact. Many places had city sized populations but none had the pressures to develop technology beyond simple farming. The Aztecs developed mathematics and some basic metallurgy of noble metals but no higher technology. Populations definitely grew large enough to deplete all the local game and natural foods. This probably happened over and over until agriculture was developed enough to feed large populations.
   - guru - Friday, 07/01/11 16:00:20 EDT

Any Space Alien discussion belongs on the Hammer-In. .
   - guru - Friday, 07/01/11 16:06:44 EDT

Space Aliens : Nanu Nanu, Commander Jock! Klaatu barada nikto!
   quenchcrack - Friday, 07/01/11 18:03:58 EDT

One paper I read on the subject suggested the best evidence indicated that when very large communities (in North America) reached a certain size it became impossible to collect enough firewood. Even though agriculture was developed to a high degree, without beasts of burden, tillage was very limited as was the ability to carry reasonable amounts of firewood large distances.
   - grant - Friday, 07/01/11 20:17:44 EDT

In many places (even today) beasts of burden are not always available or can not be afforded by subsistence farmers. But with the wheel on a cart a human can move a lot more than they could otherwise. Horse and pony carts are still common in Central America among other places but often the farmer ends up being the motive power. With the cart and longer distance trade comes the need for roads . . . and a stable civil society to support them.

The development of society and technology has many curious paths. One interesting fact is that technical inventions often came about before there was sufficient need. Things were invented over and over until the world had sufficient need and structure to make use of new inventions. Almost all of Leonardo DaVinci's inventions were before their time. There was neither a broad enough need nor the technology to take advantage of them. It would be 300 to 400 years before most of his mechanical inventions saw practical application.

And even though we are a nuclear age space exploring computer integrated society for the majority, there are still humans that live as hunter gatherers in stone age or near stone age conditions. They live without electricity or significant agriculture and have few metal tools.

While most of these people live in the tropics where people can survive with very rude shelter and do not need heat. But the Eskimo managed a stone age hunter gatherer life in the Arctic. So you cannot say it is climate that forces people to develop societaly and technologically.

Archeo-historians have many theories about how society and technology developed but they are just theories. I suspect that every theory is correct for some place and just as wrong for others. Things like basic metallurgy develop out of ceramics but writing and mathematics develop independently. Agriculture develops without pottery but most agricultural societies have pottery but not all. Why do hunter gatherers stop being nomadic? Why do some societies remain static technologically - forever?

The whys and hows are just as complicated and different as individual people.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/02/11 01:00:22 EDT

I've now been to Sweden several times (thanks to a dance camp my wife attends). The country has an amazing number of preserved blast furnaces and fineries that were built before the industrial revolution. I can only guess that it's because they were making steel with charcoal well into the 20th Century, and the cost of hauling fuel would have made it cost-prohibitive to switch to large, more modern furnaces. (They're all water powered, which could have been a factor as well.) That's not to take anything away from the effort that's obviously gone into preserving them after production ceased.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 07/02/11 08:34:30 EDT

tech development : The best book I've read (for a non-Phd layman like myself) on this subject is Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns,_Germs,_and_Steel Basically a geography/available resources argument, very interesting.
   Judson Yaggy - Saturday, 07/02/11 09:47:59 EDT

Human Beast & Swedish Iron : About hauling wood, I can only say what I've seen at Taos Pueblo. The men take a rope and lay it back into a U with legs of equal length. The branches and small logs are laid crossways, the free rope ends are passed through the bight, the bundle is hoisted to one's back, and "Bob's your Uncle!" Quite a bit can be hauled in that manner. The Pueblo is located near heavily wooded mountainous terrain, the southern end of the Rockies, so wood might have been available over the centuries.

Some of the Swedish charcoal iron was sitting on the docks and pretty much unwanted in the 1950's. One of my old students found out about it through the Whole Earth Catalog. He ordered some, and was able to sell me some. It is not red short as some wrought iron is. It is a pleasure to work it. I'm told that it was called Norway iron in the early days because it was delivered by Norwegian ships.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 07/02/11 10:27:28 EDT

where to get quality equipment cheap : I need to get a new anvil and i also need either a gas or coal forge but i cant find any place thats even remotely close to my price range. If anybody can point me in the right direction that would be appreciated.
   Shawn - Saturday, 07/02/11 17:16:59 EDT

Equipment and Prices : Shawn, You have two choices, Buy new and pay the price (which is going up everywhere due to escalating fuel and material costs), or buy used which requires some knowledge on your part. The best place to find reasonably priced used equipment and advice is at blacksmith meets. Look for local groups on ABANA-Chapter.com.

Read Finding Anvils. This advice applies to all used things of value.

Also see our Tailgate Sales Page. There are quite a few tools listed. Some are rare and a bit pricey for starting out but there are also some reasonably priced pieces. Note that vises are worth more than anvils per pound (new or used). Often more time is spent at the vise than the anvil when blacksmithing.

   - guru - Saturday, 07/02/11 17:59:29 EDT

Free anvil for Shawn : I have one here you can have, Shawn. Just call in next time you are passing.
   philip in china - Saturday, 07/02/11 20:08:03 EDT

anvil identification : Just acquired an anvil,100#, on the side is some lettering that is worn or rusted off. On the top line i can make out what looks like " NEVER". Second line " W____ T ", third line " PA____ T ". And towards the bottom are these marks " l l 22". Would appreciate any help in identifying and dating this anvil. THANKS. Martin Zueger
   Martin Zueger - Saturday, 07/02/11 20:18:56 EDT

Anvil ID :
Martin, Ones eyes tries to make letters of things that are not there. I would bet that if you clean it up and take a rubbing with tracing paper it says "PETER WRIGHT PATENT". The numbers should be the weight 1 + 1 + 22 in English Hundredweights (112 + 28 + 22) = 162 pounds IF you read it right. Please not that if it is a Peter Wright that the lettering is stamped IN not raised. It was common for the lettering to be faint OR to get filled with rust and dirt.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/02/11 22:22:22 EDT

Water Tower, Possible Wroght Iron : They are planning on tearing down the water tower in Leonardtown, Maryland. It dates from about 1924, so it may well be wrought iron, but it's on a scale that I doubt I can handle (especially in my current condition), even if I had the proper condition. If anybody is interested, I'll see if I can get further details.

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 07/03/11 11:36:40 EDT

Last water tower I was buying was made from Byers bidirectional rolled plate.

Of course I want to know more!

Flint is just one of a number of micro-crystalline quartzes that differ mainly by colour and so a lot of names have been given to pretty much the same thing.

I used to have quite a lot of luck with quartz geodes from Southern IN.
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/05/11 18:58:35 EDT

ThomasP, there was a trailer of geodes for sale along the road near me yesterday, Need a couple at quad State to take back?
The Native Americans apparently had a trade route to move the Wyanadott (SP)Chert from this region
   ptree - Wednesday, 07/06/11 07:30:09 EDT

ThomasP, there was a trailer of geodes for sale along the road near me yesterday, Need a couple at quad State to take back?
The Native Americans apparently had a trade route to move the Wyanadott (SP)Chert from this region
   - ptree - Wednesday, 07/06/11 07:31:36 EDT

Miller Welder feed rollers : I might suggest looking for a glass fuse in the system. My home welder has one and has blown in the past a few times when the feed pressure was too great. This is on a 172 single phase high volt welder. I'm not going to re-read the posts but the issue you are having (perhaps on a separate feeder) may also involve a fuse link. I also have had contact issues in a damp dusty shop (forge dust, plasma dust, chopsaw dust) and have successfully cleaned contacts with a free garnet( or red colored anyway) cardboard fingernail file. Those free emery boards are handy things to have for many uses. Just pulling the covers and blowing the insides of equipment with compressed air solves problems sometimes.
   - Steve O'Grady - Wednesday, 07/06/11 10:17:35 EDT

Jeff, when we moved from IN we took 400 pounds of geodes, there was this gravel road near Lake Lemon that had a creek where every rock in it was a geode...

I'm good as I just had a fresh infusion as my parents downsized.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/06/11 13:59:33 EDT

Identify an anvil : Dear Sir ;

My name is Klaus Poloni,47 mechanical technician, bicycle frame builder and Tig welder in my one man shop in Brazil.
After a lifetime looking for an anvil I found this one with 123 Kg , 1912 with around 90% rebound but with out any identification or similarity to the ones at your fantastic site .
Would you please help me to identify this anvil ? , I have some pictures to show with your permission .
Thank you very much for your attention .
Best regards .

Klaus Poloni .
   Klaus Poloni - Wednesday, 07/06/11 20:46:55 EDT

Klaus, I'll send you a mail you can respond to with images.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/06/11 22:35:57 EDT

Flint : I have read that in order to flake off flint to make an arrow head, you have a leather pad or cup on the palm of your hand, for protection from blisters etc., then you hold a deer antler and with the tip of the antler the flint is flaked off. I would have no idea about the technique. I think it would be sorta like cutting a diamond, you would have to follow the grain or layer at the weakest point ?
   Mike T. - Thursday, 07/07/11 01:54:36 EDT

Flint Knapping :
Part of what makes flint work well is that it has no direction grain or crystal structure. This is what makes pressure flaking work best. If you look at how glass and obsidian flakes, flint does the same, just at slightly different angles and requiring much more pressure. Good flint is a joy to work. But much of it has flaws that must be worked around or that fail just as a point is being finished. The lower grades of stone (including the quartz material found in Virginia) worked by the Indians was miserable stuff. I've seen hundreds of points made from it but it must have been VERY difficult.

Our late friend Bob Harisim demonstrated flint knapping at many places including SOFA Quadstate. He used a variety of methods and materials. One that I had not seen before but which Bob said there is very good historical evidence for was a copper tipped pressure tool. Copper is one of the few metals found in its native state that was worked by stone age people. The value of a small piece for the tip of a tool would be like a diamond tip dresser today. An essential and valuable tool worth its expense but no so exotic that it would not be wide spread in use.

Most flint knapping tools are bone or antler. Leg bones with their heavy ends were used as hammers for making the initial flakes that were then worked into tools and points. From these flakes most of the work was done with the tip of a narrow tool, either antler or copper tipped antler.

In pressure flaking you apply force on the opposite side near the edge where you want the flake to come off. The angle of the pressure determines the shape of the flake. Flakes can be large and shallow thinning the stone or steep when putting on the final edge. Learning the feel of the stone and the technique is an art. The best flint knappers learn from others, as it always was.

I've worked a little flint and quartzite making points when I was young so I know a little about it. I listened to Bob on several occasions and wish someone had filmed him working. In a couple hours he could show you the most important aspects of a trade that often takes decades to learn.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/07/11 03:17:55 EDT

Knapping on leather : Flint knapping leather is really to keep you from being seriously cut. Most of the knappers I have seen use their palm and thigh. Consider that a fresh unused edge is as sharp or sharper than a scapel, and you are pushing it into your palm or thigh. A good slip when knapping on the thigh could be a bleed out event.
   ptree - Thursday, 07/07/11 07:41:03 EDT

spring heat treatment : I was given a post vice whitout the spring. I want to forge one using a 1/8 thick leaf spring from an old snowmobile ski. How do I heat treat it after forging? If it was a cutting tool, it would be hardening and tempering to the appropriate color, but what about a spring? If I simply let it cool on the ground, will it still act as a spring after.
Any advice please.
   donald - Thursday, 07/07/11 08:58:22 EDT

Vise Spring : Donald,

Normalizing will be perfectly sufficient for that spring. Heat to non-magnetic and let cool in still air. There is so little deflection in a properly made leg vise spring that no special heat-treating is necessary because the spring will never be stressed past the yield point. Even mild steel will make a perfectly satisfactory vise spring, so that's what I use.
   - Rich - Thursday, 07/07/11 09:31:00 EDT

Vise Spring :
Donald, 1/8" material may be too thin. Most of these springs are 3/16" to 1/4" thick. They need to be fairly stiff due to where they apply the force down near the pivot.

The old original springs were a thing of beauty. They had a long taper with a fish tail where they pushed against the outside vise jaw. The edges were often chamfered and the fish tail wrapped around the edges a bit to keep it straight. Even without these features they had a long graceful reverse curve so they slid smoothly at the fishtail.

I used old leaf spring for the couple replacements I've made and just normalized the steel as Rich noted. But a mild steel spring will suffice and you usually have a wider range of material available.

On critical springs you would oil quench then temper to a deep blue (values depending on the specific steel). Highly stressed springs are often tempered a bit softer to avoid breaking.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/07/11 09:56:44 EDT

More Knapping :
If making stone tools is an interest there is a lot of information available. Decades ago archeologists were making stone tools using the historical types of tools. Their results were compared to archeological evidence and matched perfectly. Tools produced this way were then tested in use butchering, cleaning hides, carving and other uses to study wear and efficiency to better understand life in the stone age.

Like blacksmithing there are networks of knappers. Do a google search and there is a ton of information out there.

   - guru - Thursday, 07/07/11 11:00:47 EDT

Oh, THAT Jim.... : I was watching Pawn Stars yesterday when a man brought in a helmet from a suit of armor. The store owner had to call in his resident expert to detemine if it was real. The owner said "This guy has a PhD in metallurgy, of course he would know". In walks a stocky, bald guy with a thick moustache named "Jim" who is giving the helmet the once-over. Yup it was Dr. Jim Hrisoulis. BTW, he felt it was a fake.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 07/07/11 13:49:39 EDT

stolen sword : awhile back, I let you folks know about a theft. Wellll....object recovered. Seems to have been a revenge theft. A person that knew the sword, and knows me saw it in a vehicle, called me and the cops. One recovered sword, two arrested thiefs.
   - Keith@Geezers Forge - Thursday, 07/07/11 16:14:42 EDT

Broken Blower : The squirrel cage blower on my forge gave up today, wondering if i can fix it or if I need to buy a new one, and if I need to buy one where I can get one from.
   AaronR - Thursday, 07/07/11 17:08:01 EDT

AaronR; WHAT COUNTRY ARE YOU IN? It's a world wide web.

Here in the USA you can sometimes find another smith with a broken blower of the same model and cannibalize it; but in general it's cheaper and faster to buy another used one. I'd ask at the meeting of the local ABANA affiliate if you are in the USA. BABA in the UK, etc...

Finding them is the issue. craigslist, blacksmithing groups, and the trolling of junk stores, fleamarkets and yard sales is suggested. And it's hard right now; but for items that are an essential part of my smithing kit I try to have back-ups as they seem to be cheap and everywhere *until* you need one *now*!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 07/07/11 17:20:04 EDT

For an electric blower a lot of the smithing supply companies will sell replacements but a local HVAC company may have an appropriate used one a *lot* cheaper.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 07/07/11 17:21:42 EDT

Quenchcrack - do you know what the episode name was so that we can try to catch it when it reruns?
   - Bernard Tappel - Thursday, 07/07/11 17:44:26 EDT

Squirrel Cage Blower :
A more specific question would be helpful.

What type, What age? Brand? Power?

New blowers with small shaded pole electric motors are readily available and have been being put on forges for 50 years. Most of these are not repairable as the motors are specially made. Some of the old forges had heavy cast iron blowers with low speed induction motors. These could be repaired at a motor shop but at great expense. It would be cheaper to purchase new. Then there are the hand crank blowers. These can be repaired under certain circumstances but gears and most parts are not available. There are dozens of makes and models with varying durability and repairability.

Blacksmiths Depot sells a nice line of blowers specifically for forges. Centaur Forge also sells them (or did). And as noted you can get small light duty blowers from HVAC (Heating and Ventilation) suppliers or hardware suppliers like McMaster-Carr.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/07/11 19:00:50 EDT

Sword Recovery : Wow, that must have been satisfying! We've had some things stolen off the farm; and the worst part is, since we never knew who did it, we are more distrustful of everybody.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 07/07/11 20:24:03 EDT

Homemade forge : Im 15 and may be constructing a home built cement forge with my 17 year old cousin and his friend. I was wondering what material I should use. I also do not have access to metal working tools.
   Galen Lichterfeld - Thursday, 07/07/11 20:34:52 EDT

Forges :   Galen, If you are going to be blacksmithing you will need at least rudimentary tools.

Cement or concrete is not suitable for building a forge. Heat causes steam to form in it and the cement explodes or "spalls". To make a poured refractory forge you would need refractory cement or castable refractory. You have to purchase this from a foundry or ceramics supplier. Cement block also breaks down with heat.

Forges can be a pit in the ground, or a clay lined wooden box. Almost anything to hold the fuel in a concentrated pile that can have a forced draft applied to increase the heat. The most convenient forge is a steel pan or box. See our plans page for a brake drum forge on our plans page. Be sure to look at all the links.

The basic tools you will need besides a proper hammer and anvil are:
  • Hacksaw and a dozen coarse blades.
  • Cold chisel
  • Vise Grips (can double as tongs temporarily)
  • Files (8", 10" and 12" Mill Bastard Half round)
Other tools you should have that are not expensive in this age:
  • 1/4" Electric Drill
  • Sabre or reciprocal saw
  • Vise (of any type).
  • Plain punches (1/4", 3/8" 1/2")
   - guru - Thursday, 07/07/11 21:17:36 EDT

Vise Spring : Thank you for the quick answers. I am happy to learn that mild steel can do the job. Concerning thickness, the arm moves freely, so I suppose it will works. On the other hand, the wedge locking system for the mouting bracket does not work with 1/8 material.I will have to fold it back at the top to get 1/4......or use 1/4 mild steel,now that I know better!
   donald - Friday, 07/08/11 09:45:28 EDT

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