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 August 22 - 31, 2010 on the Guru's Den
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Do you have any info on a "Milne" anvil?
I found one in Texas and that is imprinted on the side.
Seller did not know much else other that it was a "London style"?
I am getting dimensions so I might can calculate weight.
I did a search in the Archives and it linked to a couple of lengthy posts and I could not find the exact info.
It comes with a light angle iron stand and they are asking $650 cash. Seems a little pricey unless I can find more about it.
Thanks for any info or links, you have a great website with lots of info for "Starters"
   Don Kirksey - Saturday, 08/07/10 23:56:58 EDT

Does anybody have any advice to offer on stock racks for my new shop? It will be quite a bit smaller than the old shop so I need to be more efficient on my use of space. I thought I would start by getting my storage better organised. They would also be a good first project for my beginners.
   philip in china - Sunday, 08/08/10 07:56:54 EDT

There are a number of popular ways to store bar stock. In the US most bar stock comes in 20' lenghts, with small cold rolled in 12' lenghts. Most tube comes 20' and 24' or 40'. The lenght you wish to store has a big influence.
I pick up my steel at the warehouse, and can transport up to 24', so I bring it home full lenght, and store it that way. In my shop, I have an "Alley" that is 5' wide and 30' long that I store my bar stock in. Near one end is my saw. The saw is equipped with a 20' runout table level with the saw to allow ease of feeding. Above the table I placed 7/16" barstock pins, driven into undersize holes drilled inbto the building posts. These pins protude about 8" and are angled up. I have rows of these pins on every post down both sides of the alley. I store the stock by size, and can then easily reach a bar and lower it down to the saw table. Lets me store about 15 sizes of stock on their own location. I have an angled short bar rack for bars of 6' or less to hold drops. I also have many 5 gallon buckets along the wall across from the saw to hold even shorter drops.
   ptree - Sunday, 08/08/10 08:38:23 EDT

I need to make a gaff jaw bail for my ketch. That is a half circle with a short rt.angle bend at each of the ends.Stock will be 5/16 304 or 316. Will heating the ends to make the bends change the resistance to corrosion?
   wayne e - Sunday, 08/08/10 09:21:13 EDT

I believe a Milne anvil is cast steel Australian made.
   - Bung - Sunday, 08/08/10 11:19:44 EDT

Wayne e, Heating the 304 or 316 will indeed change the resistance to corrosion. Do your heating and shaping. Then if you decide to wire brush, use only a stainless steel wire brush, that has not been used on plain steel. You can also sand the item with clean sandpaper. Once clean, heat to a nice orange overall, and plunge into clean clear water. thise will passivate the SS somewhat. Follow with a couple of days in fresh white vinegar, and then a little sandpaper and that should do the trick.
   ptree - Sunday, 08/08/10 11:53:14 EDT

Stainless: Wayne, Heating the stainless will oxidize the surface (turn it black). This does not hurt the metal but is cosmetically a problem. This will need to be ground or sanded off.

For the best corrosion resistance the metal should be heated red, then quenched in water. In stianless this is annealing (opposite of carbon steel). Afterward the scale should be ground off then the part "passivated" by treating in a citric acid bath.

You can leave the scale on the stainless and passivate to remove the scale OR do nothing and the stainless will generally be corrosion resistant. However, the stains or oxidized surface may rust and transfer.

You can get the citric acid powder from a variety of sources including McMaster Carr.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/08/10 12:02:50 EDT

i need info on powerhammer eg:stroke length,throat depth,ratio anvil to hammer, how do i determine the force added to the hammer by pneumatic stroke
   gerhardt - Sunday, 08/08/10 12:05:43 EDT

Not trying to start an argument but which is better acetic acid or citric .I wonder about the chemistry,would any mild acid work? Certainly vinegar is more easily available to me.
   wayne e - Sunday, 08/08/10 12:57:26 EDT

Milne Anvil?
Thanks for the response!
I did notice in the pix that the surface rust was not like what I have seen on forged tool steel.
I think the pricing must be reflective of a family history more so than quality.
Google does show a lot of Milne's in Australia and a lot of mining so maybe it was a mining anvil?
Thanks again!
   Don Kirksey - Sunday, 08/08/10 13:34:17 EDT

Stock Racks: There are a variety of types and vary greatly depending on the type of work you do and type of stock to store.

In shops where you do a lot of fabrication you need mostly long stock racks but also plate racks. The design is dependent on how you handle the stock. Manually, crane or forklift.

Long stock racks can be wall mount on sufficiently strong walls, cantilevered or balanced. Common long racks are shelf type H frames with multiple cross bars and stretchers in between with diagonals at the bottom. Spans should be about five feet but the overall less than twenty to support long stock. Access is from the end only. Or over the side on the top level.

NOTE: I have my long stock cut to 12 and 8 foot lengths thus nothing is monger than 12 feet.

Plate racks need strong verticals to support sheets of plate, plywood or expanded metal on edge.

Cantilevered stock racks with an L shaped base are free standing the frames needing to be strong enough to support thousands of pounds. The bottom of the L is the first level. Frames are made from 6' and 8" I-beam or channel with shelf arms made of 4" caped on the ends to prevent round stock from rolling off. These are open on one side and can be located against a wall. The frames can either be supported by flat stretchers in the back or bolt on beams between. If the rack is to be portable consider how you would like to move it. Short racks can be on heavy wheels if you have room to roll it around.

Cantilevered stock racks can be combination racks with plate stored at the back on edge.

For shops that deal in exotic metals, tool steels and do machine work where valuable short lengths of metal are stored it helps to have at least one level on the rack spanned with shelving for the short pieces.

In our family shop the racks in the stock room were supported by a piece of channel running from one side of the room to the other, a central piece of channel and columns dropping from those. Then cross pieces bolted on. This made a fairly open free standing rack in the middle of the room that could take a heavy load. But it is not very movable.

Stock racks are like tool chests, they are expensive but necessary unless you want everything laying on the floor.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/08/10 14:38:17 EDT

Power Hammer General Specs: Gerhardt, Stroke length and throat depth are designer decisions. Some hammers have shallow throat depths and other deep. Deep throat hammers are rarely needed and require a heavier frame for stiffness. The longer the stroke the longer the guide system and heavier the mechanics need to be (crank, cylinder, clutch, valves). For generalities such as this look at various hammer designs. Note that shallow throat hammers often take a very small space which can be important in many shops.

Hammer to anvil ratios range from as little as 6:1 to 20:1. The high ratio is about the practical limit for high efficiency. The lower ratios are more economical but reduce hammer efficiency and increase transmitted vibration. 15:1 used to be the standard for small hammers, 10:1 for large hammers and 20:1 for very heavy duty hammers.

Added power depends on cylinder size, air pressure and stroke. Unpowered the ram only falls at the acceleration of gravity. In the short stroke of most hammers this is not very fast. Its been too many years since my physics classes but I THINK when you add force you increase the acceleration by the ratio of the force divided by the mass being pushed (someone please correct me). Small hammers have force ratios of 6:1 to 15:1. Most run about 100 to 120 PSI.

There are no standards for all this, design decisions within the ranges above are yours.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/08/10 15:30:52 EDT

There are so many variable that it's beyond calculation. Most air cylinders have way too small of ports to flow the amount of air required for a hammer. Small steam hammers have valves 10 times bigger. I've seen air hammers that worked faster and hit harder by changing to a smaller cylinder. The only way to do calculations would be with a recording indicator and determine the "mean effective pressure" of the down stroke.

You're dealing with flow through hoses and ports and valves. And do you have a reserve tank next to the machine or not? CFM is one part, but a hammer needs air in gulps!

John Larson's "Iron Kiss" hammers have 20:1 anvils, special large port cylinders and proper sized plumbing and they have an incredible, solid blow even running on 60 psi air.

Takes engineering and experience to get it right.
   - Grant - Sunday, 08/08/10 16:18:24 EDT

Cost of Eating Right: Not eating meat and potatoes actually costs more. We do not eat rice or processed grains and avoid low nutrient foods as much as possible. The bulk of our diet is heavy on vegetables such as broccoli, onions, Brussels sprouts, spinach greens, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and beans. Nothing cheap there. While beans are an important part of our diet they less than 1/3 of what we eat. Some meals such as lunch today are just steamed vegetables and spices, some nuts and juice.

To add high nutrition items we have almonds, walnuts, goji berries, cocao nibs, sunflower seeds, acai juice. Imagine paying $17 for a pound of beef. . . That's the cost of goji berries and cocao nibs and we don't buy organic.

But the added cost will be offset ten thousand times by avoided medical costs (much less the improved health and longer life).

   - guru - Sunday, 08/08/10 17:06:52 EDT


F=MA (or A=F/M), so acceleration does indeed increase by the ratio of the force to the mass. Of course, a free-falling ram is already accelerating due to gravity, so to double the acceleration you'd need to add force equal to its weight.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 08/08/10 17:31:06 EDT

Good information Mike. The problem with an air hammer is knowing how much force you're adding. Takes some air just to keep from retarding the ram. It's easy to apply a force to a stationary object (which is what most standard calculations presume), but with a moving object it's kinda like trying to push a car that's already going 10MPH!
   - grant - Sunday, 08/08/10 17:43:55 EDT

Grant, chill out, talk about what ever you want. I really don't care.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 08/08/10 18:12:54 EDT

"Grant, chill out, talk about what ever you want. I really don't care"?? Apparently you do. For what ever reason.

A question was asked this morning and several of us gave responses. Why does it bother you that some people want to talk about power hammers?
   - grant - Sunday, 08/08/10 18:29:17 EDT

Pressure when and how. . Yeah, the steam engine guys had the equivalent of strip recorders way back in the 1700's to measure and record pressure as the engine went through its cycle. A true Watt invention.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/08/10 20:36:43 EDT

In engineering school it used to be a standard engineering lab experiment to use a recording indicating pressure gage to chart the pressure in the cylinder and then calculate MEP.

Grant is indeed right about most pnuematic devices being undersized for air hammer use. You need real full port valves and oversized cylinder ports. Cv factors help to show the best flow rates.
   ptree - Sunday, 08/08/10 21:55:22 EDT

The Persistence and Fluidity of Topics:

Usually, if it's a topic that has little relevance to me; I skim it. You never know when a poster will switch topics in the middle of the post, or you might learn something useful that is aside of the primary topic.

Sometimes, three months or three years after the board moves on to other topics, I have a need or a point of curiosity about the topic I initially neglected; so it's back to the archive and digging through postings for what I know is there.

Anvilfire is one of the more organized and in-depth sources for a wide variety of subjects, but it also has accumulated a great deal of material on "Junkyard Hammers." (Google "Junkyard Hammer" and see what pops up at the top of the list.)

So; after doing the "baby and bathwater" dichotomy, I recommend just skimming through some topics and moving on to the next item of interest. Shocking as it may seem to me; there are some people who just have no appreciation for the construction details of Viking Age anchors. ;-)

Visit your National Parks (some of which are less interesting than others): www.nps.gov

Go viking (long hours, dangerous work, sometimes great rewards, but lousy PR): www.longshipco.org

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 08/09/10 08:47:04 EDT

Tips on stock rack:

For your thin rods (under 3/8") try putting them inside a length of pipe or large tubing. Cut the pipe on a bias to make retreival easier. This also helps prevent the resultant sag between supports when thin stock is stored in the usual manner. You could alternatively use wide C channel or box out your own on the brake.

Acids for stainless: from my understanding (which may be horrendously off) any acid will work with passivating the stainless surface. I use phosphoric acid as part of my electropolish kit. I've heard good things about muriatic acid as well.

Grant & QC: Just kiss and make up already! If you want to take it any further may I recommend the cheap motel off the interstate?
   - Nippulini - Monday, 08/09/10 08:57:12 EDT

Grant, you are free to discuss whatever you want on this forum and I am equally free to state that powerhammers have become a disporportionaly large part of the conversation on a General Blacksmithing site.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 08/09/10 09:08:36 EDT

On the contrary Bruce, I would much enjoy learning the intricacies of Viking Age anchors.
I suppose with a "by your leave" to the Guru you could post a detailed dissertation on the Hammer-In as
a kind of informal Wednesday night lecture.
   - merl - Monday, 08/09/10 10:48:08 EDT

I have it on good authority that if you store small rods inside a piece of tubing, then cut the tubing, the rods will get cut too. So if you store them that way, don't forget you did (grin).
   Mike BR - Monday, 08/09/10 18:25:45 EDT

As usual when I need to pick the brains of those with more experience, I run here first. I just pulled a royal screw-up on a commissioned copper basin that will be a baptismal font for a church. The finished basin is supposed to be about 2.5' across and around 6.75" to 7" deep. The starting thickness is (I believe) 1/16". I annealled, pickeled with muriatic acid, neautralized, ScotchBrited, and began pounding. It wasn't as easy as the small candy dish I had done as a test piece out of the same material, but I finally got the hang of it and it was moving along all right when all at once I noticed a line across the bottom of the basin's center. I was just starting a swing, and wasn't able to stop in time before hitting the copper again. The line lenghtened. I had torn the copper.

Obviously, I didn't re-anneal as soon as I should have. I think I know the point I should have done that at, but hadn't done so because the copper was still moving easily enough (I did the candy dish with only the innitial annealing).

So my questions are these: Can I reasonably be able to weld the tear back shut with my oxy/acetylene using some thick copper wire as a filler rod? Will it need flux? Having welded it (if I can), will I be able to continue hammeringin into shape, or am I just going to tear it in the same spot again?

This piece of copper was $200, so if I an avoid having to buy another one to cover my mistake, that would be very helpful. This is a bigger scale project than I've tried before on my own and while I know the theory behind shaping it, the execution has been a little harder than I had hoped.

Thanks, guys.
   - Stormcrow - Monday, 08/09/10 19:52:39 EDT


I've TIG welded copper using electrical wire for filler. Wasn't hard, but I never got a perfect color match (not sure why not) and never tried to work the material much afterwards. I don't think you'd need flux for O/A welding -- copper oxide disappears real quick in a reducing flame.

I guess it would be worth a try. If it doesn't work, I hear scrap prices are pretty high. . .
   Mike BR - Monday, 08/09/10 20:05:46 EDT

Dishing Copper: When you start dishing you work from the outside in. If you work from the center out tears are almost always going to happen. While that sounds like heavy copper the stretching it you are doing will thin it to about a third (to about .024) which is pretty thin and easy to damage. IF you have to replace the blank I would go thicker (1/8" at least).

To start at the edges it helps to have a hollow form or a cylinder to work in. Wood will work. You can also heat and work as you go rather than reannealing the whole. Heat a area then work a little less then heat the next.

If you repair and the crack reappears you may want to repair the finished work and leave a patch strip on the outside. It would not be perfect but it would hold up. It is not unusual to see patches on old work in sheet metal or wood. .

Hope you are getting a lot for this job.
   - guru - Monday, 08/09/10 21:19:52 EDT


I was hoping some one else would weigh in with a more informed answer, but I did have one more thought. Are you raising or sinking? A split at the center of the bottom sounds like a sinking problem. A basin that size sunk from 1/16" would probably get pretty thin at the bottom.

If you are sinking, it might be a good idea to switch to raising. That would prevent or greatly limit thinning at the bottom. If you are able to salvage this piece, going to raising would also greatly reduce the amount you need to work the repaired area. Of course, you might find you need more material since you aren't stretching it as much (or at all).
   Mike BR - Monday, 08/09/10 21:25:35 EDT

Well, someone *had* weighed in with a more informed answer. Glad we were thinking along the same lines. . .
   Mike BR - Monday, 08/09/10 21:31:09 EDT

This is not a direct blacksmithing question but kind of applies. I am planning a trip to the East Coast (from WA) and would like to meet up with some of the smiths I used to talk to on the Pub. I don't remember the password and 4 emails and a request to join again have all gone unanswered. Any suggestions on getting back on again?
   bosun1 (coalforge) - Monday, 08/09/10 21:55:36 EDT

bosun1 check mail.
   - guru - Monday, 08/09/10 22:32:27 EDT

Hey Mike BR, I have it on personal experience that if you cut a piece of tubing that someone else threw a piece of rod into, the rod will just spin around inside of the tube and strip the teeth off of the saw blade while ruining the cut in the tubing as well...(not grinning)
   - merl - Monday, 08/09/10 22:50:26 EDT

What if you wanted to do a reverse of dishing copper?

I've got a 43-in tall.....copper wall-platter, (I guess you'd call it.) that was saved from the copper-scrapping that was going a few years back.
It's been hammered/dished into a shape of a huge shallow ash-tray, is the best way to discribe it.
I've always wanted to re-flatten it.

Would you reverse what was stated for dishing copper by working the inside out, or should this process also be worked from the outside in?
   Danial - Monday, 08/09/10 23:15:24 EDT

Baptismal font - So are you talking about working the copper hot, guru, or are you talking about annealing as I go? Do I need to worry about pickling as I go, or if I wait until the end will it clean up nicely? Once the basic form is done, the whole surface inside and out will be textured with a ball pein very solidly, if that is any kind of helpful data.

I didn't realize that I hadn't said I was sinking it. Sorry 'bout that. I'm using a couple of wooden forms, including one of layered and blended MDF that is the size of the needed final dimensions.

If a repair works, it can't be visible. This is going into a chapel at the Texas Military Institute, which is apparantly a very big deal. I'm fairly sure that's where Douglas MacArthur went to school, under the name Texas Military Acadamy. So if it doesn't blend, I'll need to start fresh.

Guru, I didn't realize there was a difference in likelyhood of tearing depending on whether you started in the middle or the rim as I've seen both ways. I'll switch to the outside. Now that you mentio that, I can see how it would be so.

Any more advice on this woudl be appreciated, especially on the welding. I've oxy/acetylene welded a fair amount before, but have no (good) experience brazing. If it will act like oxy/acetylene welding steel, I should do ok. If it acts liek brazing, I'm probably screwed. ;-)
   - Stormcrow - Tuesday, 08/10/10 00:17:34 EDT

Working semi-hot is sort of annealing as you go. When I forge brass it starts in the very low red temperature and then cools as it is worked to where the last blows are in the warm-annealed condition.

The patch I was talking about would be on the bottom/back IF it did not show. .

I've never welded copper. I would practice on scraps FIRST! While others said no flux I would try borax. Hpwever, I do know that any flux used is difficult to clean off and the discolorations can be extream.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/10/10 07:49:54 EDT

On the road again. . . ta ta da ta da de da. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/10/10 07:51:55 EDT

Annealing copper, I was always told to heat it and quench it to make it soft and pliable to work.
on cleaning flux, previously on the forum they gave a commercial chemical to remove the flux after brazing.
   Carver Jake - Tuesday, 08/10/10 11:17:41 EDT

Merl--I understand they used to (still do?) put a hardened rod inside jail bars for this very reason. If you ever get busted, be sure to pack your cutting torch so you can avoid this problem.

My father was a Merl, without the e, he hated it when people put the e on the end. His father was Frank Merl, he was Merl Frank, it skipped me (my mom didn't like either name), I wanted to name one of the boys Frank but their mom kiboshed that, and as she was doing all the labor I couldn't argue.

David Hughes
   - David Hughes - Tuesday, 08/10/10 11:50:23 EDT

I have tig welded copper before- and the trick I found worked well was to actually buy de-oxidized copper tig filler rod- which is a very slightly different beast than electrical wire, or other scrap. They dont bother to de-oxidize electrical wire. It was never intended to be welded.

But with a real tig filler, I was able to do welds that polished out to invisibility.
My welding supply store stocked it. Wasnt cheap, of course.
Tig welding copper uses HUGE amperage- I was running my Syncrowave 250 at max output (around 300 amps) to do 1/8" to 1/4" welds. I dont know if it had the muscle to do 1/4" to 1/4"- kinda think you would want more like 400 amps for that. Copper conducts heat REALLY well, and so the workpiece gets very hot very fast, too. Big gloves, staggered welds, cool down breaks.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 08/10/10 11:51:45 EDT

re Copper Basin:
If you are not already at size then it's probably going to be too thin to last much in use---it will ge polished on a regular basis and that will thin it too! This is an "ouch" moment and I hope you factored in a learning curve on the quote!

If you are real friendly with your local non-ferrous scrapper you might see if you could trade for a new piece on a weight for weight basis and then kick in the extra to go thicker. Last time I saw this sort of thing demo's it was at least 1/4" thick. He had a metal frame to clamp the sides to keep them from wrinkling and he used a hand held air tool to do the "hammering" over space---heavy support frame. He also worked hot with a rosebud.

Lovely piece when he was done.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/10/10 13:04:34 EDT

Hi, I am getting ready to build a new smitty and would like to build a brick or stone forge. I am in the planning stage now and would like to include the brick forge. I have searched the internet and have found a few items but am looking for more ideas. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Reno
   Reno - Tuesday, 08/10/10 14:02:27 EDT

Hello, I'm a farrier from WV.This question is about welding in a gas forge.When I was in horseshoeing school I don't think I missed a weld on the coal forge.But I'm having problems welding in my NC Whisper Momma(2 burner).Using Borax for flux on the coal forge I could tell when I was at the right temp. to weld by looking for the little sparks.I'm using Sure Weld now and I THINK my problem is temp. but I'm not sure.Also does the residue left by the SURE WELD damage the lining of my forge and if so what should I do about it?Thank you so much this site is great. Israel Smith
   Israel Smith - Tuesday, 08/10/10 15:14:53 EDT

Question: When making a blade from cable, would it be alright to heat and flatten each piece of cable, then stack the pieces for welding. Would this affect the pattern in an adverse way ?
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 08/10/10 16:00:16 EDT

I have heard about making knife blades from ball bearings, how would yall go about doing this ?
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 08/10/10 16:03:21 EDT

Ball bearing knives: heat a good sized bearing up, hammer it into a blade, grind, heat treat, finish, hilt, sheath, sharpen.

Cable: why not weld as you flatten and then stack the welded slabs? What do you consider adverse? One person's adverse may be another person's pattern enhancement!

Masonry forges: Reno I'm going to assume you want to build a bellows powered side blown american colonial era forge cause you don't give *any* details: so I would advise looking at Moxon's "Mechanic Exercises" for an example.

If you were asking for advice on buying a car would you not give information on what you planned to use it for?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/10/10 16:36:58 EDT

Stormcrow I did a range hood a few years ago that sounds similar to what you are doing. It was an eyebrow shape about 28-30 across and 8" deep. I did a mixture of sinking in a shot bag and raising over a large stake that I built. I used a urethane hammer for most of the sinking and all the raising. I used 1/16" thickness bronze and had no problems with it getting too thin, although I did a lot of raising. Have you checked the thickness where your crack is? I had planned to mostly sink the hood I did, but I found that after doing some rough sinking the raising worked much easier. Unless you have an english wheel or plan on days of planishing I would use a urethane or rawhide hammer and stop when you get it as smooth as you can with that. I tried planishing a small section and spent quite a bit of time getting it back to the finish I had with the urethane.
   - JNewman - Tuesday, 08/10/10 18:03:43 EDT

Much as the $200 is going to hurt I would bite the bullet and start over. In a smooth surface like a font I think you are going to have a very difficult time hiding the weld. If it were a repousse surface the texture could be used to hide it. You will never be happy with it if it is not right.
   - JNewman - Tuesday, 08/10/10 18:09:28 EDT

Welding in an NC Whisper Forge: These often take some finicking with to get the atmosphere right (adding fill, adjusting pressure (makes little difference). . . They do not run nearly as hot as coal so welding is different.

Flux of all kinds eats the lining of light weight gas forge refractories. Once on the refractory it will eat its way through eventually. Not much you can do after the fact. Sometimes you can clean it all off and repair the refractories but it is tough. Before the damage is done you can coat the interior with ITC-100, triple coat the hard use areas, and if you are going to do a LOT of forge welding use a kiln shelf in the bottom of the forge or stoneware tiles to collect the flux.

   - guru - Tuesday, 08/10/10 20:15:40 EDT

Cable Damascus: To get the weld to take you start by heating, fluxing and twisting tight before forging. You must keep it tight when welding. After woelding you can do as you wish.

Cable usually makes what is known as a "random" pattern but pattern development can be controlled if you want. These are personal design decisions of an artistic nature that develop over time.

Brick Forges: This is a starting point.

   - guru - Tuesday, 08/10/10 20:59:22 EDT

I have seen copper and brass spun into bowl shapes,material is formed while spinning and being pressed against a wooden buck. I purchased last year a set of bowl making dies for my Big Blu hammer after seeing Dean Curfman hammer a large thick copper disk into a bowl in about five minutes, works on mild steel also
   Greg S - Tuesday, 08/10/10 22:05:26 EDT


Lets talk about power hammers some more !! Plus anvils and swords..... :-) Just kidding...Actually, I miss your input, you have been an asset to this site.
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 08/10/10 23:41:42 EDT

David Hughes-- Well, having never spent any time in stir, I wouldn't know just how to pack so, I'll thank you for the advice and file it away for future reference...
As far as Merl goes, it's a nick name I got back in high school when I did summer work for one of the most cantankerous old farmers in the county who, was also named Merl. It is also some what of a slur on my last name as well and has stuck with me for all these years.
In some places I'm also known as Eli, one of them being the antique tractor club I belong to. The first year I worked in the blacksmith shop, at that clubs annuale show, some old high school friends of mine saw me there and called out "Hey Merl!" to me from the window. When I dropped what I was working on to go and greet them I got some odd looks from the other guys in the shop who only knew me as Eli.
So depending on what part of the state I'm in and, who I'm talking to, I'm either Merl or Eli.
I would also point out that I use the lower case "m" to denote my lesser stature as a newbie blacksmith when on smithing web sites like this, much as an apprentice would accept rarely, if ever, being called by his first name in the old days.
I am considered to be a master machinist by those I work with and, am usually referred to as "Mr.-----" when the bosses are around.

   - merl - Wednesday, 08/11/10 00:17:18 EDT

I am taken by your word, "Woelding" in regard to Cable Damascus; seems an accuarate term for my level of forge welding ability. That is, my welds are woefully bad.
   Bob J - Wednesday, 08/11/10 01:24:03 EDT

Hmmmm. . . how did that get past the spell check? Or maybe my eyes were not seeing red last night. . . long day. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/11/10 08:41:32 EDT

Hi Isreal,
Centaur Forge carries a welding brick that fits in the bottom of your forge. Several years back it was only around 12.95. I bought one for mine, but I haven't used it yet to really give feedback. Looks like it will help a great deal.
   - Bung - Wednesday, 08/11/10 10:03:23 EDT

I got some copper to stick on the cracks. Boy, that stuff does not flow like welding steel with oxy/acetylene! I used a reducing flame, no flux, and a piece of large copper wire as filler. With some test whacking, it looks like there's a chance it might work but I'm not going to hold my breath. Sure is ugly. I'll grind it smoother before I hammer more on it.

JNewman - Yeah, I think once I smooth up the bowl a bit more I'm going to give raising it a try. Fortunately, this font isn't going to be perfectly smooth but textured all over very heavily with a ball pein.

Greg S - The guy who brought me the work had looked into spinning. Even if i do have to start over with fresh copper, it should be cheaper this way. Not quicker, probably, but cheaper.

Oh, and after welding the copper yesterday, I unwound a bit by forging a sword blade. :-D Seriously.
   - Stormcrow - Wednesday, 08/11/10 12:13:28 EDT

Stormcrow: Next time you should forge a sword on a home-built power hammer! LOL
   - Grant - Wednesday, 08/11/10 16:27:52 EDT

Mike T., I have forged knives from roller bearings with much success. The short thick rods in the bearings are much easier to handle and shape when compared to ball bearing balls. HT is a must, some of the bearing alloys can be tricky.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 08/12/10 09:08:04 EDT

New-ish to here...

Was reading all that I can on this site, and just bought the 'new edge of te anvil' book, a very good read.

I have also done a little blacksmithing, 1st time ever on sat 8/7 and enjoyed it a lot. But I know that the shop I went to and will go again will close on labor day so I'm looking for someplace else in the Provo area to learn more. The phone book doesn't outright list any.

I tried signing up on here but it didn't seem to work but am being patient because I know the admins are busy a lot. I have even checked spam folder - nothing.

I know there is an ABANA chapter in bonneville but I have no way currently to get there. I'll look for ways to get there though...

My question might take people by surprise but: are there any deaf blacksmiths out there? I mean those who are deaf from the outset, not from the anvil noise LOL

Also how would I be able to manipulate the fire to heat what I want hot? Seems I have a problem getting the right section heated up for working

Another piece of info: here you can get coke for $12/50 lb bag.

   Pondracer - Thursday, 08/12/10 10:53:48 EDT

Pondracer, My pub-admin helper works in batches and often gets behind. It is a thankless job as we get a huge amount of spam. We will see what we can do.

A am sure there may be some deaf smiths out there. I would have a hard time working in the shop without hearing but it is like trying to imagine being blind. You cope in different ways.

Many blacksmiths are listed in the yellow pages under ironworks. Most directories lump farriers under smiths IF they have a "blacksmith" category, but few if any do.

Getting heat where you want it depends on the type of forge. In a coal forge the ends of the bar are easy to heat but to heat the middles you need to have a deeper fire often broken open in a trench to make a "raised" fire. For small focused heats some smiths use a "fire tube". This is a piece of cast iron or steel tube about 4" diameter and the same height that is placed over the hot spot of the fire and filled with fuel. This makes a raised hot spot almost like a torch. Sometimes it is used for welding or brazing.

In most shops smiths have oxy-fuel torches and use them when they need a focused localized heat in an odd place or when they cannot put an unwieldy piece in the forge.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/12/10 11:22:40 EDT

Thanks for the quick reply.

I can ask a friend in IT how he deals with spam, I know he said he uses spamassassin with something else and it kills 90+% of spam right there.

   Pondracer - Thursday, 08/12/10 11:36:53 EDT

so I've been interested in metal work for as far back as I can remember. And i'm going to be attending the Turley forge school in the fall, but when I finish I'd like to start a business. How much capital would you think I'd need to start with and after that how much profit could I expect to make?
sorry for being so direct, i hope you can help me out. Thanks for your time
   aaron - Thursday, 08/12/10 12:09:44 EDT


That is a good idea, I just thought about old roller bearings from railroad cars, I bet they would be plenty big.


If someone scratches their arse on the bottom of that font and says a dirty word, will their baptism count ? :-)
   Mike T. - Thursday, 08/12/10 12:14:25 EDT


If Mr. Frank teaches you how to forge and make horse shoes etc., I have an idea, I bet race tracks would be a good place to get a business going. Blacksmiths who shoe horses for the Kentucky derby should make good money. Right here in NE Arkansas they raise Tennesee Walking horses, I bet if you advertised in their literature, you could drum up business.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 08/12/10 12:49:14 EDT

Aaron; what type of business, what location, what product line? In general you should have enough capital to be able to set up the business and run it with no profit for a considerable amount of time, say 1-2 years.

If you have not taken any of the small business administration classes they will end up being more important than the blacksmithing classes!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/12/10 12:52:27 EDT

Blacksmithing, Capital, Education: While Frank is a great teacher and I highly recommend him there is a lot more to starting a manufacturing business than just making the product. There is DESIGN, tooling up, marketing, working capital, book keeping (taxes rent. . . .).

How much can one make? Working alone, with a fully equipped shop, a LOT of energy and hustle about $50k/yr IF you can charge $100/hr. for your time AND you have no debt (all equipment paid for). If you are paying for tools and machinery then you need to charge $150 to $200/month and probably need employees to make enough money. Charge less, or not produce efficiently and you can easily be a starving artist or run up a mountain of debt.

As Thomas asked, What type of business? Shoeing horses, making wood working tools, specialized tools, doing architectural work, crafty arts? Do you have the design skills, contacts to sell your goods? And also as Thomas noted. . location, location, location. . .

Many folks go into the "craft" of blacksmithing without thinking about needing the necessary artistic skills. You would be surprised at how many folks I speak to that say they have no drawing skills but want to be "artist blacksmiths". They do not call themselves that, but that is what they want to be. That is what a "decorative" blacksmith is. So, can you draw?

   - guru - Thursday, 08/12/10 14:38:46 EDT

A follow-up question about blacksmith "studio" floors. I have decided to go with concrete and wanted to know how much extra thickness and/or reinforcement should be in the floor where I put a power hammer? Thanks.
   Jon D. - Thursday, 08/12/10 15:42:10 EDT

Yes, I can draw. I've been wanting to combine woodcarving with blacksmithing to create possibly surreal pieces of artwork, possibly pieces of 3d artwork. I've always been inspired by Dali and have wanted to do that type artwork in 3d.

   Pondracer - Thursday, 08/12/10 15:54:39 EDT

We here all love blacksmthing and wish you well...just Don't expect to get rich....
   - arthur - Thursday, 08/12/10 18:08:17 EDT

Jon D; nothing beyond a standard floor to 80 feet deep array of oak and massive inertial block of concrete DEPENDING ON WHAT THE HAMMER SIZE IS!

I want to buy a car; how much will it cost me? $60---$1.5 million! *depending*

   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/12/10 18:10:12 EDT

Pondracer, now. . what scale? Desktop? Outdoor public spaces? Small art works can be done entirely by hand. Large artworks either require a large facility with flame cutting tables, power hammers and cranes OR to be subbed out to fabricators who duplicate small models to full scale.

Modern blacksmith shops are more welding or machine shop than romantic smithy. Basic tools include grinders and polishing equipment. Saws and presses. Many smiths have lathes and milling machines as well as a full range of welding and flame, plasma or LASER cutting equipment. For art work you may also be looking at plating and etching tanks. As a manufacturer you may want a sandblasting booth and a paint booth. Most artists mix forging with casting thus have small foundries as well as forges. When you mix wood working (even carving) with other crafts it pays to have a large band saw. You would be amazed at how close a finished piece you can get sawing three dimensionally.

Most of us spend a lifetime collecting tools and machinery. It CAN be purchased all at once but even used it can be a significant cost. Then there is installation and learning to use it all. How much you want is determined by whether you expect to be the sole author of all your work or if its all to be done in your own shop.

Its a lot to think about. And shops are never large enough. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 08/12/10 18:11:57 EDT

Floors and power hammers. . . Little hammers with good high ratio anvils work OK on standard 4" concrete floors but will transmit a lot of vibration. Ideally where the hammer sits is a seperate piece of floor or foundation. Depending on the hammer this can be flush, raised or lowered.

The last hammer foundations I put in were raised about 4" in a recessed area of the floor. They were supported by an angle iron flange 4" tall around the edge of the hole in the floor. The hole was about 16" lower than the floor dug down to hard compact clay. This was then lined with a dozen layers of roofing felt, rebar set in place and then the concrete poured. That was for small hammers.

Little Giant called for foundations a little deeper than the bases were wide. This ranged from 16" to four feet depending on the hammer size. Many modern small hammer makers call for no special foundations but this is an economic ploy the same as claiming small portable air compressors were big enough to operate the hammer. But you get better performance and less vibration with some extra mass isolated from the rest of the floor.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/12/10 18:40:55 EDT

Criminetly Mike T. I suggest you go to www.turleyforge.com where you will find not one horseshoe pictured.

We don't have much time to talk about the business aspects of smithery in our classes. We do talk a bit about cost estimating. The class is a forging techniques class, but we do explain that when in business, you'll be lucky to be in the fire 15% of the time. You'll be meeting clients, making presentation drawings, traveling to and from the site, traveling to gather materials, laying out, cutting and cropping, forging, assembling, cleaning, painting, and sometimes installing. You are supposed to keep your cool throughout all of this.

Most of my students nowadays are into "hobby smithing." They do not intend to run a business.

   Frank Turley - Thursday, 08/12/10 21:24:58 EDT

So the area under the hammer needs to be separated, not attached, to the rest of the foundation slab? Say a 4'x4' area lined with angle iron (is that what you would use?) to keep it separate from the surrounding pad. This 4x4 could be made an extra 12,18, 24" etc thicker than the rest of the pad - depending on the hammer size. I wasn't thinking of a huge hammer - maybe 25 or 35lb, 50 at the most. I saw plans for "Rusty" and "Dusty" on the APA which were 25 and 35lbs. Thanks.
   Jon D. - Thursday, 08/12/10 21:56:57 EDT

Jon, I used angle iron because the areas were raised (then the surrounding area filled with gravel). In most cases you want a flush foundation pad. You form up the hole for your foundation and pour the surrounding floor. Then you line the hole with layers of roofing felt and pour the foundation block.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/12/10 22:09:10 EDT

Making money- Frank said it all. 15% time forging would be great. I've spent the last 9 MONTHS installing my metalwork into a very large house. Mostly six zillion little pieces of stainless steel accent trim. I've got a small shop in the basement of the place (fab shop not forge) and every time the architect or int. designer changes something significant I smile and say "Sure, I can do that." Having a job during this Great Recession is great no matter how much crummy business stuff I have to do. I'd be home watching The Price Is Right if not for all that crummy biz stuff, so bring it on.

Contemplate the word "professional" and understand that it must touch every facet of the glittering jewel Master Frank outlined above. Be competent in each area or hire folks that are and you'll be ok.
   Judson Yaggy - Thursday, 08/12/10 22:27:00 EDT

I estimate a maximum of 50% shop time so 15% forge time may be generous. Even folks that do production work such as making laminated steel billets only get in a few forging hours compared to the rest.

One general rule of business is that you customers will only pay a certain amount for one person's labor for particular skills. It does not matter HOW good you are or how productive you can only make so much. To make more you need employees. THEN your primary responsibility is to be sure your employees are not distracted AND get in more hours than you would working alone. . . You no longer get to do the "fun" stuff. . .

   - guru - Thursday, 08/12/10 22:58:33 EDT

Mr. Turley,

Sorry about the horse shoe thing. Maybe place a horse shoe above the door ? :)
   Mike T. - Friday, 08/13/10 00:28:41 EDT

i bought an anvil on ebay (then i found your site, big mistake)it was sold to me as a 112 lb vulcan. it has no ring to it but its not a dull thud either, it has cast lines running along the ends vertical and has a "12" cast on the side on the foot/base. it looks to be older and used some chisle marks on the face and horn. i paid right around $200.00 for it including shipping. i am just curious if this sounds like i got ripped or could this be just and older abused anvil. thanks my name is chris im 27 and just getting into smithing.
   Chris Bell - Friday, 08/13/10 03:23:29 EDT

Right... I was wanting to start small, like maybe no bigger than a doorway, then as my skill level gets better I can go a little bigger. But I'm thinking that the size of my work will pretty much be strictly in the realm of what can be done by one person, maybe occasionally 2 people (one helping hold another piece while i forge weld). Power woodcarving, I can make a statue, table, box, or relief carving, then add the 'wrought iron' pieces (I know the term is more a misnomer these days as I am not using true wrought, but rather scrap iron/steel pieces).

Of course, I know I will very likely be asked to make utilitarian items, and so I will make them :)

   PondRacer - Friday, 08/13/10 06:41:50 EDT

Chris Bell,

We have a couple Vulcan anvils in our anvil gallery.

I would not pay that much for a Vulcan but many others would, so the price is not out of line. New these were a cheaper anvil but they are now also a "classic" and somewhat of a collector's item as are all the old well known brand anvils (depending on the condition).
   - guru - Friday, 08/13/10 09:28:53 EDT


I sometimes have a table in the art room at science fiction and gaming conventions. At one con I decided that I would exclusively do "Objects of Unearthly Beauty." Unfortunately, all of the buyers were from earth that year, and I had no sales or items going to auction.

Art, being highly subjective, needs a lot of research to find potential markets; or you have to trim your vision to meet the market’s expectations.

These days I do some steampunk, some medieval, some practical, some whimsy, and occasional abstract. My friends from Camp Fenby (we have an unincorporated artist cooperative of nebulous form for these events) do jewelry of similar inspiration. Usually, we sell a little of both, sometimes everybody likes the jewelry, and sometimes just the blacksmithing sells.

It's dissapointing when my fabulous artistic vision doesn't find a buyer, or it can hang around for years (I only do one or two cons a year, mostly for the fun of it and to cover my costs). Still, it's a learning experience, and you can learn a lot by observing what sells, what doesn’t, and where the trends are going.

Research your market; and good luck.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 08/13/10 10:59:50 EDT

Selling Art: Pondracer, I was once a fairly good (maybe even VERY good) fine artist in my youth and I gave it up due to how the most successful artists market their work. I had found that the majority of the artists sold their work with a line of BS which was designed to make the customer (or public) believe they were ignorant rubes if they did not understand the art AND that the work was also of great value. . . It did not matter if you were good or bad, what mattered most was your line of BS. I was not a BS artist and this was one of several reasons I decided to drop out of art.

Years later when I got into blacksmithing (which I looked upon at the time as "craft" not "art"), I ran into the same snobbery and lines of BS. It is why many do not like ABANA because it seems they have been dominated by the BS artists almost from the beginning.

Yes, it is a rather cynical attitude but I am from a family of fine artists and have watched as their work went under appreciated and they starved for their work. My Dad had an art degree but segued into machine design (if you can imagine it, and draw it so that others can build it, you can be a designer - I did the same). I have a brother who has a Master's in oil painting that does fantastic work yet had to give it up, became a computer programmer and now works deep in the "military industrial complex" (A term coined by President Eisenhower - another cynic). I have another brother that is a fine restorer of artistic things who works as a television art director. He is perhaps the closest to using his skills but to get paid more he would have to be willing to move from larger market to larger market. At this point in his career he would be out of larger markets and due to his age probably out of a job. . (ageism is rampant in the American job market). His twin sister teaches art. . . My son who I advised NOT to become a fine artist every time the subject came up changed his computer graphics degree to oil painting and now works as a laborer after years of failure and refusal to move to the big markets. His twin sister studied to become a landscape designer but underestimated the amount of fine art AND BS required. She is now a happy homemaker taking care of my grand children.

To be a successful artist/craftsperson you must:
  • Be able to SELL like a Used Car Salesman crossed with a demon Phycologist. Your agents should be able to do the same.
  • Be prolific and highly productive cranking out large volumes of work. (the pay per hour is low no matter what the price so you have to produce a LOT - or have others produce it for you).
  • Must produce quality work (materials and technique matter). No rust, no pealing paint, no splitting wood, no yellowing canvas. . . These things can come back to bite you about the time your carreer takes off.
  • Location, location, location - if you are not willing to work in the big markets (NY, LA, Paris, London, Tokyo) where there is more money than good taste then failure is assured.
  • Must have a head for business. I've spoken about this with my brother the fine artist. He was NEVER in all his years in different schools taught the BUSINESS of art. Like Frank's comment above I often recommend business courses as part of a comprehensive education for the artist blacksmith. A few rules
    • Your hourly rate must be in the hundreds (or possibly thousands) of dollars to make up for all the unproductive time - such as selling the job, picking up material, overhead. .
    • You NEVER "buy in". Once you have sold yourself cheap you have set your lifetime value (in your city, state or region), getting more is VERY difficult.
    • Only the rich can really afford your work and the rich ALL know each other. Set that low value and they all know. Deliver late and they ALL know. Deliver poor quality that ages or falls apart and they ALL know. . The rich do not respect those that undervalue themselves and they do not do business with those that cannot deliver or deliver poor quality.

As artists we all grow and get better with time. You are better off to give away your early work rather than have it in places of prominence unless you are VERY good from the start. If you start as a hobbiest you should still not undersell your work. This makes it difficult on professionals in the same field AND will make it difficult for you to get the proper compensation if you later become a professional.

Part of the business of being a BS artist is to talk someone into being your patron. Few artists find a full time Patron but those that do have a great advantage over others. Often they do not need to set prices or produce in quantity. This is the idyllic life for the fine artist. But you do not just fall into such a position and are not "discovered". You sell and wheedle their way into such positions artfully.
   - guru - Friday, 08/13/10 11:12:37 EDT

LOVE steampunk, but it has to be done tastefully and just right. I think it would be neat to combine woodcarving, blacksmithing, maybe some glassworking, and electronics all into one thing of art. My friend said steampunk smoking devices, I just about died laughing.

Steampunk lamps and light fixtures I would love to make, as well as other items like in the kitchen (steampunk kitchenaid mixer, anyone?)

   Pondracer - Friday, 08/13/10 12:43:09 EDT

Classic art is about beauty; modern art is about cleverness. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 08/13/10 15:22:28 EDT

I am not a blacksmith, but have a question about blacksmith history. I am a surveyor involved with a boundary issue in the deep south. The problem hinges on the location of a ferry in 1822. One party has found iron objects fixed to bed rock at one river bank and claims it as evidence of the ferry's location. The other side is uncertain. There are a variety of objects mostly heavily coroded iron in a 20' area.. Several are short rods with nuts attached. At least two of them have hex type nuts on them. I thought that if I knew when hex rather than square nuts or bolt heads came in to use, it would add weight to one of the sides. Looking in the 1905 "History of the Nut and Bolt Industry in American" , I was able to learn that prior to 1838 all nuts and bolts were produced by blacksmiths. This is why I am asking the question here. I hope you can direct me to a source of info that would know if hex bolts came into use at a specific time. It might be useful to know that the area was on the frontier at this time. The east side of the river was purchased from the Indians in 1805, and the west side in 1821. Any information or direction is appreciated.
Thank You,
Paul Hoinowski
   Paul Hoinowski - Friday, 08/13/10 17:55:56 EDT

I found out what my friend in IT uses to kill spam: amavis, spamassassin, and rbl. BUT you have to kill spam on the server side. High levels of spam tells you that you are on a not so good server.

He also made mention of spamhaus.org and said it kills about 99% of the spam right there.

Just something to look into.

   PondRacer - Friday, 08/13/10 19:39:47 EDT

Dating Hex Nuts: Paul, This is a difficult question. While blacksmiths made most nuts and bolts up until the early late 1800's they can and do make hex fasteners. Machining hexes was known early in the 1800's.

While square nuts would have been more common for this type of thing hex nuts are possible. The other problem is that the studs probably held some kind of wood parts that may have been replaced at a later date and the nuts replaced at that time. You could have 1700's studs or bolts and 1900's nuts. So the evidence is completely inconclusive.

Good luck with your research! Perhaps there were mills or mill dams nearby. The records for these often go into detail about right along the rivers.

   - guru - Friday, 08/13/10 19:47:10 EDT

Checking to see if the material is real wrought iron can help too though only in that: if it's mild steel it's after 1856 and probably by a decade or two. However WI continued to be used especially in poor areas like post ACW south for quite a while through the recycling of scrap.

Any idea as to how long the ferry existed?

Ferries often had inns associate with them, though often above typical flood levels.

Any pictures of the side during record dry spells to determine if there is any typical mill cast offs in the water or traces of a millrace?

   Thomas P - Friday, 08/13/10 20:02:27 EDT

Mike T., Not a prob. I can make horseshoes; I can even nail 'em on. In the English book, "The Village Blacksmith" by Webber, he states that the smithy owner should place the horseshoe over the door heels down. The lore behind this is "so the good luck will constantly pour forth upon the forge." In the U.S., we're often told to have the heels up to hold the luck. At my smithy and at my house, the heels are down, following Webber's lead.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 08/13/10 22:51:05 EDT

SPAM, PondRacer, we have a number of anti-spam systems on our server including spam assassin and black lists. Most of my "good" mail comes in marked SPAM. . . How much spam you get is related to how many domains you host, how long they have been in existence and the popularity of the domains. We are hosting a hundred domains or so, some domains that are 15 years old (ancient by internet standards) and some that are quite popular. There is also the question of how long individual email addresses have been in use. Many people change theirs regularly but in business you cannot do that as often as is necessary to dodge the spam.

We have replaced most email addresses with contact forms that are carefully filtered and are robot proof but spammers
have boiler rooms full of virtual human slaves that sit and stuff forms. . . Our forms stop 99% of that as well but there are thousands of these world wide that are constantly hitting list of URL's.

Most of this behavior is stupid because ANY webmaster that responds to ANY spam in any manner is a moron. . . The fact that a form exists in the first place is saying WE DON"T WANT WHAT YOU ARE SELLING. . . But they keep hammering at them.

THEN there are the hackers. We have error handlers that send me messages reporting the hack attempts. . . I need to turn this off because the robot attacks are coming by the hundreds at a time and are all totally stupid. They also come from zombie computers so reporting them or filtering them does no good. . .

If you want to know the REAL terrorists that the government could go after and CATCH its these guys. . . They do as much damage and cost the economy as much as 911 and could be stopped for a very small amount. End political comment.
   - guru - Friday, 08/13/10 22:51:17 EDT

Paul H.,

A friend used to walk the railroad tracks near Vinegaroon, Texas, and pick up odd pieces left from the 1880's. He gave me a large threaded bolt for my collection. It has a forge welded square head in which all the seams (shuts) show from the weld. It appears to me that a square head would be much easier to hand forge, weld, and finish than a hex head.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 08/13/10 23:13:03 EDT

I have an old handmade axe that was used for building log buildings. I would like to find a blacksmith in the USA that loves working on axes. The one I have needs to be reworked. Can you point me in the right direction?
Bob Genaze
   Bob Genaze - Friday, 08/13/10 23:53:32 EDT


AMEN to that! I agree that the government are looking at the wrong kind of terrists (yes, on IRC people do spell them that way as an epithet rather than noronic misspelling)... sometimes I wish that the government would issue orders to block ALL traffic to/from: Nigeria, Bulgaria, North Korea, China, the Middle Eastern states like Yemen, Somalia, etc), and those other rogue nations... I bet the spam traffic would drop INSTANTLY.

Oh, and those bots you are talking about? Botnets. They have one purpose and one only: DDOS. (distributed denial of service) attacks.

I didnt know the scope of your server setup... can't even begin to imagine how much WORK it is trying to keep up with all those servers... and I have enough trouble keeping up with two :D (my wife's and mine). My hat goes off to you and the hard-working individuals running the show.

   PondRacer - Saturday, 08/14/10 00:02:12 EDT

I receive spam from these jokers, Nigeria etc. Their scams are laughable and it amazes me that people are actually taken in by them. I wish I was smart enough to turn their scams around and take them for a few million.....but I guess our government would come after me then.
   Mike T. - Saturday, 08/14/10 06:34:54 EDT

Anyone remember the screen shot from the world cup when Nigeria was up against Germany? They use the first three letters of each country for the scoreboard.

Pondracer, I spend countless hours making stuff. More so lately as I am preparing (financially) for my first son due in November. You can easily lose track of your costs vs revenue. Too much spending and you gain nothing. Keep it up for a few years as a business and the IRS considers it a "hobby" (tax breaks). I am currently in the process of putting together a gallery at one of my piercing shops. You can see my "online" gallery here:


Just keep cranking out stuff, if nothing sells you will at least have accumulated both experience and a house full of your work.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 08/14/10 08:45:08 EDT

Anyone remember the screen shot from the world cup when Nigeria was up against Germany? They use the first three letters of each country for the scoreboard.

Pondracer, I spend countless hours making stuff. More so lately as I am preparing (financially) for my first son due in November. You can easily lose track of your costs vs revenue. Too much spending and you gain nothing. Keep it up for a few years as a business and the IRS considers it a "hobby" (tax breaks). I am currently in the process of putting together a gallery at one of my piercing shops. You can see my "online" gallery here:


Just keep cranking out stuff, if nothing sells you will at least have accumulated both experience and a house full of your work.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 08/14/10 08:45:17 EDT

Oops, sorry Jock
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 08/14/10 08:45:34 EDT

The problem with Nigeria is we buy OIL from them AND a couple of those other countries supply oil to other parts of the world.

Several years ago I was following some articles about hackers and their message boards and one fellow that had been tossed out of one country after another. His move at the time was to Iran. These folks invite hackers because they see anything that will hurt our system of commerce as a good thing. It IS CYBER WAR. See my now rather dated article on SPAM and VIRUSES
   - guru - Saturday, 08/14/10 11:33:50 EDT

Bob Genaze, I like working on old axes. Just curious; is it a broad axe? I'm in New Mexico. See top post under "Gurus."
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 08/14/10 14:27:58 EDT

Hello, I wanna know if there are some manufacturer how build a autocompressor pneumatic hammer similar to Bêchè model LG.Thanks
   Christian Hänchen - Saturday, 08/14/10 19:39:06 EDT

I dont know if any of the european hammer builders are still in business- John would know, at Massey Hammers in the UK.

but there are NO manufacturers left in North America making what we call "self contained" pneumatic hammers like the Beche.

There are at least three companies in China that make machines that are designs descended from the Beche, the largest being Anyang, which is the largest hammer and forging press manufacturer in the world right now.
   - Ries - Saturday, 08/14/10 19:53:11 EDT

Christian, See Patrick Pelgrom's SC-JYH

I had forgotten there was video linked on the page. I will set it up for streaming this evening.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/14/10 19:56:11 EDT

Streaming Video of Patrick Pelgrom's Self Contained Junk Yard Hammer.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/14/10 20:52:13 EDT

I have reciently moved into a new shop space. I am have some concerns that the noise from my power hammer and anvil will be too much for the neighbors. I need to figure out a way to quiet down especially my power hammer. It is a home made air hammer. It currently sits on 1/2 plywood on a concrete floor. I am considering putting a rubber horse mat under it as the the floor acts like a drum and the sound echos of the walls. Do you know of anything I can do to quiet it down, or to keep sound from going out the walls. any thoughts or help would be greatly appreciated

   Erik Newquist - Sunday, 08/15/10 19:08:31 EDT

Thanks for your responces. I was hoping someone would know of a book or museum or such which might have a definitive answer. Knowing that the nuts are likely not the "silver bullet" I was hoping, I can look at other things.

There were two ferries in the area. This one folded in the early 1820's. We wonder if the metal objects are from nearby railroad (but can't guess their purpose) or for fish traps. Almost every rocky shoals in this river has metal rods accepted as being for fish traps and weirs. These are hard, tarnished and uncorroded. They are straight, a foot or more tall and unthreaded. The items at the possible ferry site are varied, close to the rock and heavily corroded. Just don't know for sure what they are.

Thanks again. This was the only Blacksmith site that seemed like it would answer questions and you did.

Paul Hoinowski

   Paul Hoinowski - Sunday, 08/15/10 20:47:16 EDT

I am helping the ely nv rail road musem,reset the base on their chambersburg air hammer,dont know exacally how big,what do i need to know befor i attemp this,any help greatly apreatcaited
   bob Parker - Sunday, 08/15/10 22:06:06 EDT

Hammer Noise: Erik, Excessive hammer noise has all kinds of sources. Hollow anvils, hollow rams, hollow frames. Any of these will cause excessive noise. So will undampened steel frames (they will ring like a bell).

In some machines the hollow spaces are filled with sand, shot or lead. All these will add mass and reduce ring.

Mounting the hammer on an isolation pad will help reduce transmitted noise but not a lot of the hammer noise.

General shop noise can be reduced with typical sound transmission abatement methods. This includes insulating walls, covering walls and flat surfaces with carpet, padding and so on. In castles the tapestry wall hangings were not so much for warmth as reducing noise. Pads for cushioning the feet will also reduce sound reflection. I do not like them in the forge area due to hot items making smelly rubber smoke. But they will help cut down on the noise.

The noisiest machines in shops are skill saws, table saws and chop saws, hand air hammers used on sheet metal and air wrenches. Noise from these carry far and are obnoxious.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/15/10 22:29:28 EDT

Chambersburg Hammers Bob, Chambersburg made hammers from 100 pounds to 25 tons or more. They also made different types of hammers.

Hammer foundations vary a lot but can be huge engineered structures for large hammers. Shop type makes a difference. If machine tools are near by OR inhabited buildings some hammers are installed on large inertia block foundations with snubbers (shock absorbers).

If the machine is a museum piece it may never be operated, operated on special occasions or operated on a regular schedule. These make a difference as well.

Tell us more and we may be able to help.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/15/10 22:45:21 EDT

Hammer Foundations: There are three types of hammer bases. Flush with the floor, sub floor and above the floor. Chambersburg made flush and sub floor types. The sub floor types are most common.

Both types usually require a special foundation. This varies according to the soil type and hammer location. In soft soils deep wooden pile foundations were common. In compact clay concrete foundations are common.

One important thing to know about two piece hammers (those with a seperate anvil that usually require a sub floor foundation) is that the anvil level is critical and determined by marks on the ram which indicate the maximum downward travel. If the anvil is set too low or the hammer operated without one of the dies the ram can travel too far and wreck the piston or bottom of the cylinder. This only takes ONE stroke of the hammer and the result can be tens of thousands of dollars of damage.

The first step in installing a hammer is to find the maximum travel mark, measure its location relative to the base of the frame then determine the height of the anvil and dies. For safety this height should be an inch or more higher than the minimum. Make a drawing to record the dimensions on, double check it.
   - guru - Monday, 08/16/10 01:45:10 EDT

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