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This is an archive of posts from August 22 - 31, 2010 on the Guru's Den
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Following the steps outlined by Ernie Leimkuhler in http://www.metalwebnews.com/howto/anvil/anvil.html, I made a 450 pound anvil from 6 inch A 36 plate. I had a local shop that specializes in burning cut out the profile by optically following a full size pattern. The 1.0 inch square hardy hole was also flame cut through more than 5 inches from face to the anvil’s waist. It came out square and less than 1/16 inch oversize or taper top to bottom. Many passes with hard facing flux cored 0.045 wire resulted in a decent face except for porosity. Final hard facing thickness was about ¼ inch, and that seemed to be enough to get a decent hammer bounce back. I tried TIG and hand fed hard facing wire to fill each ground out pores, but decided it was not worth the work. It is not my primary anvil (a bit big in my small hot shop), but I am glad I made the effort, an effort greatly aided by the welding classes at the local community college. Their big high amperage machines were really able to lay down the wire. Each pass was flattened by a 9 inch Milwaukee grinder that took a lot of the new material off. After buying the materials (hard facing wire is not cheap and I used a lot of it), paying for the flame cutting, and with the cost of tuition, I could not say I saved any money. I did get fairly good at laying down parallel beads, row after row after row.
   Bob Johnson - Sunday, 08/22/10 01:58:15 EDT

Bob, Your's was one of those typical projects where some of the costs were hidden. In this case the electric bill which can be significant. Heavy hard facing can be expensive in time, rod, electricity and abrasives. You also did not own all the equipment and perhaps used the school's abrasives. This is a cost that as Ries noted above is also part of the expense of manufacturing. Equipment does not last forever and no matter how you expense it there is a cost per hour or item.

Welding projects like these are good practice but hard facing rod and wire are both expensive technical welding materials that take a lot of practice to become proficient with - to avoid all that porosity. So, while running a lot of parallel stringer beads is good practice doing so with expensive specialty rods is not recommended. It is one reason I tell folks that if they have to ask about repairing anvils that they should not do it. Repairing tool steel is not something you do as a first time major job.

   - guru - Sunday, 08/22/10 12:40:51 EDT

Yesterday I ran off a 30 part job and had several spells sitting and letting the billets get hot. As I sat there sipping cool water I studied the 125# Trenton I use and considered drop forging same. If the dies were set up to make the anvil in 2 pieces and weld them at the waist, I suspect that a 10,000# drop hammer could do the job. You would need 2 sets of dies to get the two parts. Say a decent $100,000 in dies. If a 25,000# were available I suspect that the anvil could be forged in one piece, but the bigger dies would still be about $100,000 due to much bigger dies. I think either process could do anvils to 250-350#.

I think if I were handed the job of making say 100 to 300 anvils a year in sizes from say 125# to 350#, I would go with casting. It would be a buisness case to see if sand cast or lost wax. The lost wax is a more expensive process but very mush more precise. To the point the pritchel and hardy holes could be cast in with only a push through broach to clean up needed at worst. The horn and face would probably only need a light grind.
Some of the big aerospace firms like Howmet can cast up to 10,000# pours, and in exotic alloys so getting the desired size and alloy would not be a challange.
Again the deciding factor would be the cost to cast and finish for each process.
Me, I like my 125# Trenton, and would love to have a 250-350# Trenton, but since I have a powerhammer, I don't HAVE to have the bigger anvil.
   ptree - Sunday, 08/22/10 13:45:44 EDT

good afternoon all-
After making knives on and off for the past 36 years, friends and customers have convinced me to try my hand at forging some blades. Some of these will be for the Bushcraft followers. Keeping mind I'm no expert, I've gone and purchased a used anvil, a few hardies, hammers and a blacksmith vise. Still need to make a forge... that's another project.
Question: this anvil is in reasonably good shape although I'm fairly certain it's an import. Weighs in at approx 100 lbs, 7/8" hardy hole, 1/2 round pintle hole- on one end of the base is marked "10"; on the other end is "41". If it does have a hard plate top, it's only 6mm thick.
I do have pics if anybody would like to see them. Any idea what I have gotten?
   Richard - Sunday, 08/22/10 15:35:12 EDT

Richard, if the "10" is on the front foot and raised, it's most likely a Fisher. Cast iron with a steel face. They are very good anvils, generally speaking, but if the steel face is only 6mm thick it's probably been milled down. Fisher faces are usually 10 to 15mm thick when un-monkeyed-with.

Not to say it's not good now, just something to be aware of. As long as the rebound is still good and the face doesn't dent when lightly whacked with a properly dressed hammer, you've got a good one, whatever it is.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 08/22/10 16:21:33 EDT

That 6mm plate is bothersome. The only cast and plated anvils I've seen with that thin a plate were old Star anvils a very cheaply made anvil.

Richard you may send me photos (click on my name) and we will see if we can help ID it.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/22/10 16:26:46 EDT

Anvil Manufacturing: Ptree, like forging there are still setup costs for castings. Each anvil would need at a minimum a boarded pattern to the specific foundry's specification. These often cost thousands of dollars (last I saw quoted were $5,000 overseas - $20,000 for four sizes). a cost that could cut a LOT of flame cut parts.

One advantage to the fabbed anvil is that die or pattern cost does not exist and fixturing (if turning the horn) is a minuscule cost and one fixture can do many sizes. Other options for making the horn include casting in ductile material or forging and welding on.

For a small manufacturer this could be a considerable cost savings and let them manufacture a broad range of sizes without needing dies or patterns for every size anvil. That is why Peddinghaus reduced their product line. It was time to replace forging dies at considerable cost so instead of making six sets of dies they only made three. They HAD dropped production and almost ended manufacturing.

I agree that casting SHOULD be the way to go but I can't even get a foundry to talk reasonable terms for casting swage blocks (they often insist that the holes that were cast for over 100 years can't be done). .
   - guru - Sunday, 08/22/10 17:02:55 EDT

Ahhh, but the lost wax method uses a almost anything pattern, build a rubber mold around it and then shoot the wax. No boarded patterns, less worries with draft, as the rubber mold can be split where needed. I would build up the wax, much like the old piled and forged wrought anvils.
Simple rubber molds, lots of wax and a casting that is very very smooth and accurate. Once the rubber molds are made, the "Set up" should be near nil.

The cost to set up the forging hammers once the dies are in hand is about 3 hours for two men. I did not figure trim dies for this as a tourch cut would be cheaper since the table and horn will need machining anyway.
There ain't no free rides.

And by the way, holes are not much challange at all for lost wax. The surface finish should greatly reduce the post casting abrasive work as well.
   ptree - Sunday, 08/22/10 18:18:05 EDT

In lost wax you have the mold material and the calcining. . . Significant costs in large parts like anvils. Lots of small steel castings made by lost wax and centrifugal castings but I do not know of large ones. Large investments in iron are done using lost foam and greensand or vacuum bonded sand.

Lost foam is used for both one offs and production casting in iron and steel but is a problem in low and medium production. One offs are individually carved in foam. We had a couple 15,000 pound and 9,000 pound castings that were pretty complicated made this way. A lot cheaper than making permanent patterns and huge core boxes. In high production the foam parts are made in expensive metal molds or dies using pellet and steam injection. Very expensive to setup. But makes very clean smooth and complicated castings. Besides one offs being relatively expensive investments, lost foam of this type does not make very smooth castings. There is no good way to fill the rough surface of the foam so there is a limit to how smooth the casting can be. It also makes repairing the hand carved investments difficult so they must be as perfect as possible without fill. This level of quality control is difficult to maintain even in low production.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/22/10 20:50:38 EDT

I made a wakizashi and carrying rig for it in a day for a Zombie Apocalypse 1 Day Junkyard Challenge Knife in the Hat over on PaleoPlanet. Besides being excited about the waki and its saya, I'm fairly thrilled to finally have some video up on Youtube. I already posted the other two with me doing some water bottle cutting tests. Here is the final video, showing up close the construction of the blade, handle, and carrying rig: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaG7fQeDQPY
   - Stormcrow - Sunday, 08/22/10 21:23:56 EDT

Keep up the forging, but it is time to let go of the weird science fiction stuff.
   - Metal Media - Sunday, 08/22/10 23:24:04 EDT

Guru, I forget, was the machined horn on your anvil design an integral piece or was it to be welded on after turning?

   - merl - Sunday, 08/22/10 23:48:55 EDT

Much Better video than the others which had too much background noise (the bane of filmmakers).
   - guru - Monday, 08/23/10 00:17:24 EDT

Turned Horn: In my two piece German anvil design the horn is machined integral with the top section. In my large "classic" block anvil both horns are welded on pieces with 100% penetration (as a result of some tricky weld preps).

To reduce the amount of chip making the horns are flame cut octagon. When laying out blanks the heal and horn on integral types are nested. This reduces the flame cutting waste by 50% and blank losses by as much.

Clean machine cut octagon pyramids can also be hand ground round. Its actually not much more work than dressing some rough cast or poor;y shaped horns. In super low production these could be hand ground and finished.
   - guru - Monday, 08/23/10 00:44:37 EDT

I watched it & very impressed with the first hits on the coke-bottle & water-jugs too.
( I'd be a little nervous being the camera-man with the other swings on the milk jugs, though.....sorry. )

   danial - Monday, 08/23/10 01:03:21 EDT

I was wundering if it's a "stupid" question to ask if an idea was good or not through a picture drawn on my computer. I might also add that I have no expiriense in makeing swords or any other art exept for a little wood work that i started a little while ago.
   Lamonte Dole - Monday, 08/23/10 05:00:46 EDT

Lomonte, It might be or not. I've had wonderful dimensioned CAD drawings sent to me of a huge anime sword that would weight 800 pounds if made of aluminum. . . and the author still couldn't understand why it wouldn't work even after seeing the detailed math. Gee, if a cartoon character can wield it why can't an average teenager?

Just because it can be drawn doesn't mean its possible. Email the image to me as a JPEG and we can discuss it off line.

illusion illustration
   - guru - Monday, 08/23/10 05:17:12 EDT

ok will do. just to let you know though it was thought of while i was thinking of working on forging a desighn with thin mettal, hammering came to mind, and chopping wood or clearing things away.
   Lamonte Dole - Monday, 08/23/10 05:21:49 EDT

Guru, lost wax investment casting as an industrial practice has advanced greatly. In the aerospace industry, especially turbines the lost wax casting are made in production quantity. The waxes are moved throught the slurry and fluidized beds of investment by robot. large castings are being made in all sorts or alloy.
I have seen photos of the frame for large turbines that had been investment cast.
   ptree - Monday, 08/23/10 07:19:22 EDT

So this years Grange Fair was nice, got a couple blue ribbons (one for my figs, the other for welded sculpture). I've been attending these Grange fairs for about 8 years now and never saw a smith. This year there was a small smithy set up and I got to meet the smith who was setting up for demos under his EZ up hoping to have the rainclouds pass over. The first thing I noticed was his anvil, I just HAD to check the makers mark. The diamond shaped mark was a dead giveaway to a Trenton, but upon closer examination the word TRENTON was upside down! Serial number and weight was stamped in the front foot, but the upside down logo was a mystery to him as well as me. We chatted for a while about anvils, smithing, the difficulty of forge welding, etc. I wish I took a picture of his setup, really inventive method of having a post vise become potable. It was attached to a thick log on wheels. The top of the log had the vise attached with the log cut out at the bottom for the leg. I told him I frequent Anvilfire.com!, he said he knows of it. Cool guy, Ivan Raupp is his name. I like the interaction with other smiths. We speak a secret language that mystifies people.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 08/23/10 08:32:27 EDT

sorry... post vise become PORTABLE, not potable.... although I'd enjoy watching someone try to drink a post vise.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 08/23/10 08:33:50 EDT

Just sounds like you've been drinking your vices. . . ;)

Trenton had some trouble with its logos. A common error that was apparently in the large logo stanp was Trenton spelled TREXTON. It is unknown if this was on purpose for some reason such as marking seconds of just a screw up. It is hard to believe it was a mistake because thousands were made that way. Upside down is EASY to believe. Someone held the punch wrong and once struck it was too late. If you ever try using hand stamps you will find it is very easy to do even when paying close attention.
   - guru - Monday, 08/23/10 10:17:59 EDT

I have an anvil. It is a low and heavy one. Evidence suggests that it originates from Sweden. There is a marking that looks like the coat of arms of Sigtuna, a Swedish town. On the other side, it reads "1121." That number can't be a year number. It must be a serial number.
But that's not my problem. My problem is that a corner piece of the top hard work surface is missing. Someone has pounded on it so hard that it just broke.
I'd like to know if anyone has encountered this problem before and if it can be fixed, then how?
A picture: http://www.upload.ee/image/761757/katkine_pind.JPG
Raul, Estonia
   Raul - Monday, 08/23/10 12:22:17 EDT

Someone, a little while back posted wondering why Nucor or a similar steel company couldn't set up to pour anvils. For one thing - the steel mills are set up to be mills, not foundries. A fairly typical size EAF produces a 200 ton heat of steel that is continuously cast into either a slab or more than 1 billet - typical casting time for a heat is around 1 hour. To cast that 200 ton heat into 200 lb anvils would produce 2000 anvils and would require that the ladle be moved and shut-off to fill each 200 lb anvil. You won't get that done within the time needed to keep the steel molten. The other option would be a complicated cope and drag set-up with many sprues where you'd loose a lot of the metal to that rather than to producing anvils. Even when we (the US) were predominantly making ingots rather than continuous cast steel, the number of ingots per 200 to 250 ton heat was relatively small - for flat rolled, 10 to 15 ingots for billet or pipe end use maybe 25 from a 250 ton heat.
From numbers, you'd be better off dealing with a small manufacturer running an induction furnace to produce specialy heats - my current employer runs both a 4 and a 5 ton induction furnace which can be coupled with vacuum degas. We also run a baby induction furnace with direct pour that will melt 800 lbs. Production includes master alloys for the foundry industry and forging grade ingots. You could conceivably get some anvils cast without going into really high costs. Of course, you'd still need to have them machined and heat treated, which would probably double your cost from just the castings.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 08/23/10 13:23:53 EDT


You just gave me an idea. If anvils were poured, give the buyers the choice of a machined and finished anvil or a rough casting. If someone wants to save money, they can machine it and heat treat it themselves.
   Mike T. - Monday, 08/23/10 13:54:14 EDT


I wonder if an individual could purchase a baby induction furnace you mentioned ?
   Mike T. - Monday, 08/23/10 14:01:19 EDT

Thin Face---Id bet more on it's being a vulcan than a fisher!

Raul; if the body of the anvil is wrought iron or mild steel then that face could be built up by arc welding; however as we have been recently discussing it may cost more in time, electricity and consumables than buying another anvil the same size in better condition. If you try to weld it up make sure you have the right pre-heat and the correct rods as most welders guess wrong about what to use.

Casting New Anvils: Jymm Hoffman had a small run of colonial styled anvils cast recently (in the last couple of years) in H13 IIRC. You may want to ask him about the costs! They came out very nicely indeed but were quite expensive.

Buying your own induction furnace: you got 440V 3 phase (or greater!) service and can pay say $100000 a year electric bulls? Is your workshop zoned for heavy industrial? If so sure you can buy an induction furance that sized! Why I bet you could make anvils and sell them for $5000 a piece!

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/23/10 16:07:36 EDT

A "baby" induction furnace, as Thomas says, is going to run easily well over $100,0000, and then cost quite a bit to operate- and, to get usable results from it, it would help to employ somebody like Gavain to supervise the heats- Steel is not like butter, where you melt it, pour it, and get the same butter you started with, in a different shape.
Steel must be monitored, and the chemistry adjusted, during the melting and foundry process- this requires a lot of expensive equipment, and experienced professionals.

And I cant imagine you would save any money trying to machine and heat treat an anvil yourself- both processes require big expenditures on equipment, or paying for expensive shops to do it, and both categories of shops will charge significantly more to do one anvil than to do ten at a time.

We already know what it costs to make a cast steel anvil in america, of high quality, appropriate alloy steel, machine it, and heat treat it- $1650. Thats what Jim Garrett is getting now for a 260Lb Nimba Centurion.
Jim is not getting rich doing this- his profit, if there is any, beyond paying himself for his time, is small. He is already doing things as cheaply and efficiently as he can, in batch sizes that the can sell.

There is not any room for lowering that price, I would guess, if you want to keep the production in the USA.

Steve McGrew is having his Rhino Anvils cast in China- similar batch sizes, similar alloys and processes, and his equivalent sized anvil retails for $950.
So there is your offshore price differential.

None of these anvils are ductile iron- all 4 of the USA brands I am currently aware of- Nimba, Rathole, Rhino, and TFS, are all cast steel.
   - Ries - Monday, 08/23/10 16:30:40 EDT

I'm a beginning blacksmith.
I recently inherited my great-grandfather's anvil. It's been badly abused, but still has a very good rebound and a decent-enough working surface. I have a couple of questions about it.
First, I would like to identify the anvil if possible. I have no idea where or when it was purchased, or even whether my great-grandfather got it new.
Photos are at http://www.docsbox.net/Anvil

Second, I know that it has been resurfaced with 7018 rod. You can see the bead at the table's edges. Should I leave it alone, clean it up and have it hard-surfaced, or take it down to original metal and have it resurfaced from scratch?

Thanks for your attention,
Doc Shipley
   Doc Shipley - Monday, 08/23/10 16:56:55 EDT

Ries, We have letters from the manufacturers and have published the information relative to ductile iron anvils (TFS, JHM, NC. . .). All the makers of farriers anvils use a "special proprietary" grade of ductile iron and heat treat it. Nimba and Rathole are steel.
   - guru - Monday, 08/23/10 17:24:09 EDT

When it rains, it pours
   - Nippulini - Monday, 08/23/10 17:25:09 EDT

Doc, I can't tell from the photos exactly what is going on with your anvil. It does not appear to be in bad enough shape to have warranted welding. Perhaps a little grinding. E7018 is not the rod for welding anvil faces. Its too soft.

I would clean it up a little with a grinder and use it.

See the discussion from the past few days about refacing anvils.
   - guru - Monday, 08/23/10 17:31:38 EDT

Anvil - katkine_pind: Great OLD anvil. The face this anvil is not broken so much as worn out. Then the thin part of the plate loosen at the weld and broke off. The hot iron oxide scale is very abrasive and wears down the face of an anvil. That is why a well used anvil is always bright and shiny. When steel plates wear too thin the wrought under it lets the steel plate flex too much and the weld fails.

To repair this anvil the loose parts of the face will need to be removed. Then the area over the body welded with a build up rod (as recommended by the hard facing rod manufacturer). The wrought base will be difficult to weld as the slag in the wrought melts and mixes with the flux making a very fluid flux/slag mix that often carries weld bead metal with it. There is NO equivalent to arc welding wrought iron. After the surface is covered and clean then the hard facing will need to be applied over the build up area and at least half the face from the looks of it to level it. This will need to be cleaned up and ground down until there is no porosity then another couple layers of hard facing applied over the entire face.

Even as expensive as new anvils are this repair will cost nearly as much or more than a new anvil. Note that a LOT of grinding is required to clean up between each welding pass and the abrassives (wheels, disks, burrs) will cost as much or more than the specialty welding rod.

As noted above, if you are not an experianced welder this is not a project to try to learn on.
   - guru - Monday, 08/23/10 17:45:37 EDT

It is interesting that as soon as a beginning smith gets his first anvil, they forget about casting or fabricating on and get doing what smiths do: heat it and beat it. Forget about melting your own steel and casting anvils. Unless you are a degreed metallurgist, you have no idea what it really takes to make and pour steel. OK, conceding to a few rare individuals who are not metallurgists but have read enough to know better.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 08/23/10 20:38:20 EDT

Am I tuned into "anvilmaking/repairing.com"?
   Carver Jake - Monday, 08/23/10 22:46:38 EDT


Good to see you posting again !! Well, even if no one ever pours an anvil, I think throwing ideas back and forth is good. Someone might take an idea here and another one there and put them together and perhaps create something. :)
   Mike T. - Monday, 08/23/10 22:54:02 EDT

Metal Media - What weird science fiction stuff? Zombies are mainstream social commentary, standing in for any number of problems or perceived problems. Everyone knows that!

Danial - I was fine on the swings. I have a lot of time behind bladed tools (not swords, but axes, machetes, billhooks, etc.). I wasn't about to lose control of it.

guru - These weren't bad for a little digital camera, hey? The sirens in the background didn't help, certainly. I have a few short videos of the press in action that'll be next. I'll let you know when they're up.

And eventually, video of me forging swords on a homemade power hammer. ;-)
   - Stormcrow - Monday, 08/23/10 23:03:05 EDT

Stormcrow, I don't want to argue with a guy who can make a knife and swing it like that. Must be a generational thing on zombies that I don't understand or maybe your from a geographic local where people think differently than what we consider normal...grin...all is good...
   - Metal Media - Tuesday, 08/24/10 00:30:55 EDT

stormcrow, Zombie malarkie is all new age hokis pokis voodoo occult marching around as a zombie...no thanks would I want to be in that weird stuff. Youth of today need some better ways to organize or should strap on a gun and join a war and see real dead bodies. I doubt then they would want to parade like one.
   - Metal Media - Tuesday, 08/24/10 00:40:13 EDT


Thanks for the reply. I've been doing exactly as you suggest - cleaning up the face a little here and there, mostly just using it.

More than anything else, I'm curious what brand it is and how old it is. Like I said, it's been in my family for four generations already, so I'd like to learn what I can about it.

Quenchcrack - my mother used this anvil as a garden ornament for 25 years. I've lusted after it since I made my first hammered silver bracelet, way too many years ago.
   Doc Shipley - Tuesday, 08/24/10 01:35:43 EDT

Dear Guru,
I am a medieval armor collector. I want a certain type of helmet but I cannot find it on any internet stores. Someone said I should get the helmet custom-made by a blacksmith. I have tried contacting several blacksmiths but those that have replied said that they don't work in armor and they don't know anybody that does. Do you know of any blacksmiths who have experience in making armor? If so, please forward their contact information to me. Thank you.

   Skriletz - Tuesday, 08/24/10 03:03:40 EDT

Metal Media - Nah, they think I'm weird around here too.

Actually, zombie movies as their semi-current role of social commentary began in the late '60s with Night of the Living Dead, which from what I understand was never intended to have any kind of commentary and only accidentally stumbled upon it. Both then and now have plenty of young folks strapping on guns, going to war, and seeing dead bodies.

I fail to see your point. The k.i.t.h. was an interesting mental exercise in what can be done in a short time frame with minimal resources. Does it matter whether it involved zombies pinning you down in a junkyard or the Comanches pinning you down inside a fort?

By the way, there was a grin after the "Everyone knows that!" Didn't type it in, but it was there.
   - Stormcrow - Tuesday, 08/24/10 03:11:37 EDT

Thanks for the answer, guru.
Sad to hear that the cost can be so high. But I have the necessary grinding tools to repair it so the abrasives and welding wouldn't be a problem.
I have been thinking of selling it as an antique but I don't know how much I would get for it in Estonia. A new one is over 300$ so if I got more, then I would be happy to sell it. But it is broken and that lowers it's value.
   Raul - Tuesday, 08/24/10 03:31:17 EDT

I can't stop thinking of blacksmithing lately so I came up with an idea after reading iForge's descriptions of welding. With welding there is a problem with loosing heat to the anvil. So I came up with a solution: a pre-heated anvil. It is made up from a tractor's half cylinder, a pipe, two u-bars and bolts. Here are the plans: http://www.upload.ee/image/763690/scan0001.jpg
The pipe would be leading hot air from my forge chimney through under the anvil. The cylinder is hard enough to work on and there is a hole which I can use for hardies.
Is the heat from my forge chimney enough to heat the anvil to 700 F?
   Raul - Tuesday, 08/24/10 08:18:46 EDT

Ive got a couple videos of a sword desighn that I made.
Now I dont know if ths sword was thought of and made befor i thought of it and i dont really care if im the first and someone else makes it for themself i just want to get peoples oppinions on it so here is a link to all four videos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aMSc0VkCnM -Part 1 which shows the end result also of me making it with a "computer program"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0imPYUnzz40 -part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8Fk4FjemUg -part 3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pgcc96DW7k -part 4

Also this sword is only supposed to be the length of your forarm so pretty short tool.
   Lamonte Dole - Tuesday, 08/24/10 08:26:24 EDT

Preheated Anvil: Raul, The idea has merit but there are other problems.

1) A good anvil working surface is hardened steel (and everything that entails - carbon content, heat treating. . operating temperature range). They are not made of cast iron. While warn to uncomfortably hot is good, temperatures above 350°F (177°C) may permanently soften the anvil depending on the alloy it is made of (most anvils).

2) An anvil needs significant compact mass. Generally that means very solid without thin areas where the heaviest work is done. There HAVE BEEN hollow anvils but they have not been well received because of the loss of mass where it is most important. Many bladesmiths are using tall cylindrical anvils because this puts the maximum mass under the hammer.

There is a much simpler solution. Many smith learn the technique of lifting the work slightly off the anvil's surface between blows, thus reducing the heat loss.

Also, while cooling is a bit bothersome it is often a necessary part of ironworking. Long heats are not good because the steel will act like a wet noodle AND a smith cannot expend but so much energy at one time. They are great for bending to a long form but not forging. Short heats can be worked sufficiently in the available time and then the next area worked.

There are many things in ironworking that are a balance. Too hot a fire will burn up the metal or melt it so carbon based fuels with air are nearly perfect. A human cannot expend but so much energy so heat loss it not as bad as it seems.

Anvils DO get hot with use. A few hours into a busy forging day and you do not want to lean or sit on the anvil. It will be quite uncomfortably hot. This is the time of day to do light work or make welds. Under extremely heavy use you actually need to COOL the anvil to prevent losing hardness. Balance!

To be more productive smiths put more than one piece in the fire. Two pieces will keep you very busy. Three pieces can be hard to manage, especially in a coal or charcoal forge. The odds of burning one up is VERY high and thus the old saying "Too many iron in the fire".

When more pieces are to be heated it is usually done in a gas forge or oil furnace where the temperature is less likely to burn up the work. At this point the smith also needs a power hammer to forge all that steel. Between the two the smith will have ALL he can keep up with. More irons in the fire = need power forging machine. Balance!

You guys need to get out and forge something.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/24/10 09:06:31 EDT

Armour: -Skriletz, I will send your contact information to an armourer that specializes in helms and see if he is interested.

Armorers are specialists and within armourer's there are more specialties. Some make plate armour, some swords, some guns and others SCA mock battle armour. Purists raise helms from a single piece of plate. It is very technical and labor intensive. Others shape pieces and weld them together finishing the welds so they don't show. This is fine for mock battle and wall hangers. Some make entire suits of armour and others specialize in parts.

"Blacksmiths" are generally not Armourers, nor or they Farriers or Wheelwrights. The belief that "blacksmiths" did it all is from the time of frontier blacksmiths who DID try to do it all. But most stopped short of armour.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/24/10 09:42:33 EDT

All, sorry if my reply on steel casting was a bit terse; I just had gall bladder surgery. I am certainly not trying to stifle anyone from trying to make steel but making steel is quite different from making iron. There is a considerable learning curve and investment in equipment. Like they say, "if it was easy, everyone would do it".
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 08/24/10 09:51:20 EDT

Raul, the anvil isn't going to be the only thing that gets really hot. You have to work right next to it. Just get busy and keep hot iron moving across the anvil face and it will warm up nicely. If you can sit on your anvil at the end of the day, you haven't been working hard enough!
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 08/24/10 09:55:31 EDT

Stormcrow, All is good and keep forging your knives.
   - Metal Media - Tuesday, 08/24/10 09:58:56 EDT

Skriletz, try this guy: www.doorcountyforgeworks.com
His name is Rick Furrer and he is a master armourer and sword smith.
However, he is not cheap...
   - merl - Tuesday, 08/24/10 10:14:40 EDT

Metal Media - Will do. :-)
   - Stormcrow - Tuesday, 08/24/10 10:52:33 EDT

re: Quality control while making steel. We check chemistry and adjust throughout the heat with alloy additions to make certain we hit the ordered chemistry. Equipment used includes Leco Carbon/sulfur analyzers - we're purchasing a new one this year to replace a worn-out unit. The price is about $65,000. A new Leco oxygen/nitrogen analyzer runs about the same amount. We're also looking at replacing our current x-ray spectrometer with a new Panalytical x-ray. The price for that will be about $300,000. I'm not certain what the little 800 lb furnace cost, but to purchase new with required utilities would not be cheap, and yes Thomas is correct, 3 phase power supply. Heck the oscillator for the induction furnace we use to melt lab samples to analyze powder which melts 50 grams at a time costs about $1250 and is replaced every 12 to 18 months. Having worked in "big integrated steel" I'm a little biased - first company I worked at in 1974 ran 250 ton BOF's, 2 of them each producing about 1 heat an hour. Some of the steel companies ran 400 ton EAF's, so a 5 ton or 800 lb furnace though ideal for high end low volume alloys is minuscule in comparison. They're also good for someone who doen't need 200 tons of H13 tool steel for their foundry.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 08/24/10 13:31:16 EDT

To be clear: I'm not a total newbie.
I have worked steel before on that same cylinder so I know that it becomes hot.
The cylinder comes from a tractor's diesel engine so it's used to high temperatures over long periods of time. The hardness doesn't seem to be a problem.
And I plan to have only 1 use for it: welding laminated steel for small knife blades so it doesn't get a lot of heavy pounding.
These are the things I know for sure. The only thing I want to know is if the air is hot enough.
Thank you for your mind effort and sorry if I wasn't clear enough before. But if I finish this project and it is successful and useful, I will share my experience with those who are interested.
   Raul - Tuesday, 08/24/10 13:45:50 EDT

I was just given an anvil that has 1805 stamped on it (weighs 250 lbs). Appears to have the word starting with a "T" on it - could be Trenton, Triton. Any thoughts?
   - J Ford - Tuesday, 08/24/10 13:46:17 EDT

Skriletz, www.armourarchive.org is a series of forums dedicated to armour making.

Folks who participate range from new to highly trained professionals---Ugo does Negroli quality work!---and can refer you to an armourer who has experience in making pretty much anything traditional to fantasy (guinea pig armour anyone?).

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/24/10 13:55:24 EDT

Quenchcrack; I had my gallbladder taken out in emergency surgery when I was 28. Life was much better afterwards even if I had the oldschool surgery and have about a 9" scar to show for it---I tell folks it was from my seppuku training, or my cesarean....

Get better soon Quad-State is coming *fast*!

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/24/10 13:57:48 EDT

As QC pointed out melting cast iron is a completely different animal. A small cupola can be built for a few hundred dollars (if you scrounge parts and materials) and will melt 50 to 100 pounds of iron an hour once hot. You toss in fuel, iron, flux, more fuel, more iron, more flux and continue as the melt progresses to the pouring level. Then you poke a hole in the tap plug and duck as the iron pours out. . . Starting with good iron and with a little practice you can get some fairly decent grey iron.

Fuel (foundry coke) is a significant expense and you need cast iron scrap. You can use steel but the character of the resulting cast iron is different.

The hard part is as noted far above, sand molds, iron handling, safety equipment and HELPERS. Actually a place to setup, followed by helpers. But its not a task to be taken lightly. Lots can go wrong and if you think spilled water is hard to control just think about spilled white hot metal. Its not something you want to let get out of control.

   - guru - Tuesday, 08/24/10 14:03:05 EDT

Anvil ID: J. Ford, That is not much to go on. There have been hundreds, maybe a thousand anvil manufacturers world wide, not all of whom are known.

Dates are more often stamped on by owners than by manufacturers of English or American anvils. French makers often stamped names, dates and decorations into the sides of anvils but you rarely find these in the U.S. I could go out and stamp 1776 on any anvil in the shop and it would not mean a thing. Many anvils had serial numbers stamped on them and these can be confused with a date. Many with nothing else had the weight and that too can be confused with a date.

In 1805 most anvils generally did not have makers names stamped on them. Another indication is shape and style. At this time anvils had very small hardy (square) holes and no pritichel (round hole). However, you occasionally find early anvils that have had the pritchel hole added.

To identify most anvils you start with a light cleaning to remove rust, paint and detritus from the sides where the marking would be. Wire brushing by hand or with a fine power wire brush works well.

Then if the lettering is still difficult to see try taking a rubbing. This is done with heavy tissue or light tracing paper and the side of a pencil or charcoal. This will often bring things out that the eye cannot see.

It is common for the eye to try to complete partial letters. It is tough to avoid but you need to try not imagine what is not there.

To get someone to help with the ID good 3/4 view photos taken in good light that show the various shape details are necessary. A couple good overall views are more important than individual details.

Mail me the photos and/or a scan of the rubbing if something shows up and we will see what we will see.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/24/10 15:16:12 EDT

Anvil ID II: While our collection is far from complete try our Anvil Gallery.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/24/10 15:39:27 EDT

Guru - typo in your URL for the anvil gallery.
   - Buford Heliotrope - Tuesday, 08/24/10 16:08:58 EDT

Whoops. . FIXED!
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/24/10 17:12:24 EDT

Want to make iron? Go here: www.darkcompany.ca/iron/index.php

The Canadians got it down pat......
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 08/24/10 18:10:17 EDT

Thomas, they did mine laporoscopically. They put you to sleep, inflate your body like a Macy's Christmas Parade Balloon, stick a couple of tools into your stomach cavity and yank the offending organ out. Then they leave you to try to figure out why your pants don't fit. I was in the hospital from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM, then went home. With tight pants.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 08/24/10 19:52:52 EDT

Quenchcrack the folks I used to help doing scandanavian short stack bloomery runs had over 10 years of experiments in before that group even started! They actually presented at the IronMaster's conference in 2002 with "10 years of Experiments with Scandanavian short stack bloomeries."

They are still active and closing on 20 years of work with bloomeries!

Heal Fast Quad-State is coming!

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/24/10 20:24:45 EDT

Smelting and Casting are vastly different.

There are a bunch of folks doing both these days. Historical smelters are going for wrought iron or direct process steel. Backyard foundry types cast mostly aluminium but many do bronze and cast iron.

A friend of mine was involved in a WI smelt this past weekend and they produced something like a 30 pound WI "bloom". Very solid needing little compacting. While it is still VERY expensive material it shows that the once lost technology is now understood and being recorded for posterity.

Doing your own casting has some tremendous advantages for the hobby tool and machinery builder. Casting greatly reduces the necessary machining of parts and lets you make some otherwise difficult to make parts. Great if you are into bootstrapping your own machinery.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/24/10 23:42:12 EDT

Making your own iron starting with mud, straw, ore and charcoal can be a lot of fun; but was not the norm for a smith even early in the iron age---iron was traded all over from the beginning---cf iron currency bars.

And of course the obligatory exception: some norse homesteads in remote areas did smelt iron for their own use in the smithy. (covers the New Foundland case too!)

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/25/10 12:24:18 EDT

As in business everything is location, location, location. Not everyone has iron ore in their back yard.

It is like a lot of the questions we get about making your own refractories. IF you live in the right place there are natural high alumina clays that IF you can fire them hot enough will make refractory (high temperature resistant) bricks. But these places are far and few between AND you have to know what you are looking for as well as how to mix the clay with things like saw dust that burn out making the brick more porous and less likely to crack as moisture turns to steam in damp brick being heated.

Even small commercial iron making operations were carefully located where there was water power, fuel and flux as well as the ore. Water power often meant cheap transportation of materials as well.

If every natural resource was in everyone's backyard we would all be rich, or very poor. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/25/10 14:03:02 EDT

Was there a standard size/shape to the iron currency bars?
   JimG - Wednesday, 08/25/10 15:05:34 EDT

The Gingery series of books shows how to make your own machine shop. It starts with casting and the proceeds to make machines using the machine you just built. I've got a few of the books and as soon as I get a round tuit I'm going to build me a machine shop.

It does look like fun, but that round tuit is so evasive.
   - Marc - Wednesday, 08/25/10 16:29:14 EDT

They look like crudely forged swords: google currency iron bars; www.gallica.co.uk/celts/currency_bars.htm has a nice picture of some.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/25/10 16:53:12 EDT

Thomas, goes to show what a little publicity will do. How would our group contact the group you mentioned?
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 08/25/10 17:06:58 EDT

I have an old anvil approx. 180+lbs that I showed pictures of to a blacksmith. No name, wrought iron, a hardy hole aprox. 3/4", no pritchel, a short horn, and no cutting table. It has a 45 degree bevel down 2/3rds of one side about an inch across that he thought might be ground but I believe it was forged that way. He believes it is old enough to be colonial. If it belongs in a museum or someones collection...good. I would like a 200lb Peter Wright or Hay-Budden or something hard and flat of this quality. It still makes a good knive blade, but I don't like hitting history if that is what it is.
   S K SMITH - Wednesday, 08/25/10 20:26:58 EDT

SK Smith, email photos to me and I will try to identify it. Colonial English anvils vary a lot but all have a certain look. The sloping side may have been ground as a repair OR to make it similar to a German style anvil. But it could also be European rather than English.

See Old German Anvil
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/25/10 20:35:19 EDT

I am filling in at my job for the tool and die tech that quit. I have about 15 years experience on cnc mills. I am doing ok so far fixing things for people, but i built a die to square the corners on a coupler. It is a 3"x3.5x2" block of tool steel base and i made a piece of 1018 to bolt to the tool steel that will be doing all the work. I need to harden the 1018, but i'm not sure exactly how to go about it. I have at my disposal a small furnace i think it's called a thermodyne. I am not sure where to find info about how long to and at what degree to heat the 1018 and quenching and then can i temper it back to make it tough or not? I have some conflicting info from the internet that says 1018 doesn't have enough carbon to temper and all you can do is case harden.
I am also stumped on the procedure. When i harden do i need to wrap it in stainless steel i also have that at my disposal. When i get done hardening and quenching do i need to let cool then temper and for how long on each process. I'm ready to try it but don't wish to redo my work if at all possible and would like to do it the best the first time. I don't have a lot of knowledge about metallurgy other than what i've learned in the past two weeks from the internet. please help
   Paul in Iowa - Wednesday, 08/25/10 21:24:15 EDT

Paul, SAE 1018 is "mild steel" and generally not considered hardenable. It CAN be hardened somewhat by overheating and quenching in a severe quenchant (ice cold water or super quench). Hardening temperature for this steel is about 1500°F.

Stainless foil is to prevent oxidation BUT with mild steel you are going to need to unwrap and quench the steel VERY fast and may not make it in time. As noted, this is NOT considered a hardenable steel. Tempering is always recommended even for low hardening steels. A minimum of 350°F and probably no more on this steel. Again, there are no specs for this as it is not normally hardened.

Depending on the part the hardening should be done after machining and leaving a grinding allowance of .010 - .015 and then ground flat on a surface grinder to the final dimensions. This gets rid of heat treating scale and warp.

Normally in tool and die work if the part is to be hardened a material like A2 is used. This is an easy to heat treat air hardening steel. It would be wrapped in stainless foil, heated to about 1400°F (or per manufacturers specs), removed from the furnace and set on a rack with a fan blowing on it. I usually strip the foil with tongs as it sits on the rack. After cooling to well above room temperature the part is tempered at 400°F or more. This results in a tool hard enough for punch and die work. For less severe duty it would be tempered much hotter to increase toughness.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/25/10 21:52:13 EDT

thank you for the response. I am still confused on the amount of time to heat. I checked and the furnace has a thermolyne controller on it. Do i just let the furnace heat to 1400 then take the part out or is there a certain amount of time or colors i need to use as a guide and the same goes for tempering, for i also have A2 at my disposal and could remake the piece. Also is it right to make a block and then bolt a piece on that will be doing the work, and do both pieces need to be hardened for work being done in a break press?? or just the one piece doing the work thanks again
   Paul in Iowa - Wednesday, 08/25/10 22:50:14 EDT

Paul, The type of steel necessary is determined by the type of work, quantity of parts to make and so on. Generally 1018 is too soft for press brake work.

Heating time is largely dependent on the part size. You want an even though heat. I think one hour per inch of thickness is recommended.

A2 is expensive steel as it is normally sold annealed in a ready to machine condition. Die work surfaces are commonly made of a hardenable tool steel such as this and bolted to holders of various sorts made from cast iron and mild steel. Holders may be heat treated if under bending stress and need to be very stiff. If they are in compression then hardening is not necessary.

The color method of tempering is for when you do not have temperature measuring equipment or temperature controlled furnaces.

Be warned that parts tend to grow a little when hardened. This means that bolt holes will be farther apart and if the holes are too tight on the bolts they will not align after hardening. Changing the holes after hardening is very difficult in hardened tool steel. They would have to ground with a die grinder or jig borer with grinding head. To avoid this a dowel is often used to hold parts in alignment and the bolt holes left a little sloppy (standard clearances usually work).
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/25/10 23:08:36 EDT

Just a quick video of my hydraulic forging press that y'all helped me build: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTsotqmEE0k

This is more of a preview than anything. It was taken not long after it was installed and I had hardly used it at that point. I'm still working on taking full advantage of its capabilities.

Thanks for y'all's help!
   - Stormcrow - Thursday, 08/26/10 03:19:38 EDT

More on iron currency:


Interesting as this was a very common form of cash. How would you fit all that into a wallet?
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 08/26/10 13:18:22 EDT

Quenchcrack; can you send me an e-mail and I can forward it to their mailing list. (weird-smiths@....)

TGN I once visited the international fleamarket at Santa Fe and they had a fellow selling African WI pieces with the ends forged way down to prove it was WI and not CI---wish I could afford his prices...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/26/10 13:43:37 EDT

When making tongs, have any of you ever put heat sinks on them ? Close to the hands.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 08/26/10 14:40:55 EDT

Mike, never hear of it. Tongs get hot, you quench them. . . that is why tool steel tongs are a bad idea.

The only time tong reins get overheated is when the tongs are left clamped on a piece in the forge. This is a practice that should be avoided and in some shops is an absolute rule.

Heat sinks need surface area to get rid of heat. IF you had them on tongs and left them on the work they would work in reverse absorbing the heat from the forge and heating the reins even more.

A non-conductive coupling in the reins would do the most good. But high strength and non-heat conducting is an oxymoron in materials science.

Ah. . . water cooled tongs. . .? ;)
   - guru - Thursday, 08/26/10 15:29:43 EDT

I forged a set of Ti tongs as they were light and do not conduct heat well.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/26/10 15:58:08 EDT

That sounds like a good idea !
   Mike T. - Thursday, 08/26/10 20:01:12 EDT

Thomas, my default email system will not work with the Anvilfire method of clicking on your name. My email is quenchcrack at hot....mail.......dot.........com.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 08/26/10 20:54:33 EDT

This site has adobe plans to build an air hammer. Cost is 47.00 I believe the main part needed is a spool valve that shuttles air to one end of the cylinder while stopping air flow at the opposite end. An electric solenoid can be used
to move the spool valve or use a foot pedal. Doesn't seem complicated to me, just need to know how to do the original set up.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 08/26/10 21:11:24 EDT

I also think the air pressure acts as a natural cushion to take the place of springs and linkages.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 08/26/10 21:13:22 EDT

Paul: The 1018 press brake dies will probably make a few parts before they deform too much for accuracy, so You will get an idea if You have the right allowances for springback & other unexpected changes.

Press brake dies are usually in the 250-325 brinell hardness range, and made of cheaper material than A2, but A2 will work fine, just draw at 700f after hardening for increased toughness & greater safety from breaking.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 08/26/10 21:16:38 EDT

Mike: Most of the successfull air hammer designs use an air controled spool valve, and throttle the exhaust from the spool valve for power & speed control. Keeping the distance between the spool valve and the throttling valve to a minimum helps get crisp control.

The cylinder needs to have the cusion built in at the top of the stroke so it doesn't hammer itself apart.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 08/26/10 21:24:28 EDT

Paul in Iowa, as has been pointed out 1018 is generally too soft for press break work but if you need to make some tooling just to see if a certain design will work dimentionaly, then it will be fine but, may not hold up to even one cycle (be warned!)
If you really wanted to see if this certain design will work and cycle it once or twice before making it from the A2 you might get away with carburizing the 1018 die parts.
You would bring the finished parts (with minimum .005 per side grind stock) to a "cherry red" in the furnace and then cover it with a granulated product like Casin-it(sp?)and then back in the furnace for so many minuets (hours) per pound. If I remember it right this will get you .01 depth of 40-45Rc and can be done to a maximum of .04 but, don't quote me on that, it's been a long time since I've worked with it.
You should probably be making your tooling the other way around anyway. Make the working side from the tool steel and the part that loads into the tooling receiver slot on the press break should be 1018.
Again, as it was pointed out befor the job dictates the type of material to be used.
I'm supprised you don't have an engineer or someone like that there telling you what they want the tooling parts made from.
   - merl - Thursday, 08/26/10 23:56:45 EDT

All right, got a better video up taking a look at the 3 work station 42.4 ton hydraulic forging press that you guys helped make. No footage of it running in this one, but a good look at the details of its construction and some of the tooling for it.

   - Stormcrow - Friday, 08/27/10 00:31:42 EDT

I want to put an I beam in my shop to use as a lifting beam. Where can I get information on the safe working loads of various sizes of beams of various unsupported lengths please?
   Philip in China - Friday, 08/27/10 01:04:32 EDT


Look in Machinery's Handbook for load charts for common sections. The governing factor is the allowable deflection under load.
   - Buford Heliotrope - Friday, 08/27/10 01:31:16 EDT

Phillip, The maximum deflection of a beam under full load TIMES at least a 1.5 safety factor is about 1/4" at the center of the span or less. This in turn normally keeps the stress at or below 10,000 PSI.

I wrote a little program that runs in DOS that has the 1973 AISC steel database that will calculate simple deflection and stress. See below.
   - guru - Friday, 08/27/10 08:28:38 EDT

Mass2 2.0b Install ZIP:

Mass and volume calculator with 1000 materials database. Calulate the volume weight and properties of cylinders, cones, spheres, pyramids, polygons, rectangulars, triangulars, ovoids, barrels, tori, fillet (spandrel), asymetric fillets, billet. . . Can be setup for numerous metric and English units for input. Browsable results with materials comparison fields.

Structural deflection and stress calculator with the full 1973 AISC structurals databases and full 1993 Mass2 pipe database. Files save as Mass2 data and Lotus 123.1a WKS files.

The above is the incomplete Beta version Mass2 project from the 1990's. There are a couple incomplete sections such as polyhedra. I put 5 years of my life into it only to be thwarted by Windows 3.1 and 4.0 which were disastrous operating systems which did not support DOS programs nearly as well as the later Win98 or Windows 2000. At the time Windirt did not have the database or programming tools to convert the Professional BASIC data to work . . . Programming an application of this sort is a team effort and I did not have the capital to continue. I do not know how late of OS's it will operate under by it does fine under Win 2000 and XP. The mouse support is buggy (worked perfect in DOS. . ). Use the function and arrow key controls. Press ENTER after entering variables not TAB.

Version 1.0 without the ASCII database sold for $69. Version 2 was twice the program and much superior even in the beta version above. If you find the above program useful please send us a donation.

The install was designed for DOS and may need some manual adjusting to setup under your OS. Normally you just need to extract the files into a folder called Mass2 and create a shortcut to the EXE file. There is a Mass2 Icon that will need to be manually selected for the shortcut.

The amazing thing about this program written in "inefficient" BASIC is that the full version of the program is only 271 KB and has 50,000 pieces of data in the various databases. We have hundreds of images on anvilfire larger than this. So much for progress.
   - guru - Friday, 08/27/10 10:32:43 EDT

Beam Calculations with Mass2:

Most engineering calculations start with the load parameters and return theoretical cross section values to apply to various beams. You then search through the AISC Steel Construction Manual for beams that meet the criteria.

In Mass2 you enter the span and load, select the type of structural and then browse the list (arrow up and down) and watch the stress and deflection results change in the diagrams. When the deflection and stress are within your range then you may have a number of structurals to select from. Full dimensional and engineering parameters of each selection is shown. Its quick and easy letting you compare beams to what you may have on hand.

Step-by-step instructions:
  • Load Mass2
  • Press F3 or arrow over to the Functions menu.
  • Select 6. Structurals
  • Press F3 or arrow over to Parameters
  • Type in your length or span between supports. Press ENTER
  • Type in your load. Press ENTER, then ESC.
  • Press F2 and select the structural type (Wide Flange).
  • Arrow down through the list and watch the results for each beam selection change.
You can change structural type and browse those with the same parameters.

Note that only two cases are given. Both pin or hanger supported and distributed load and centered load. For hoists you use the centered load (Case 2). Also note that you can enter a span and no load and Case 1 will give you the deflection of the structural alone from its own weight.

As mentioned above for crane rails (and floor beams) you want to limit deflection to 1/4" and stress to 10,000 PSI at 1.5 times the rated load. If a trolley is to be used on the beam you may want to limit deflection a little more. If a beam deflects more than 1/4" in 8 to 10 feet the trolley and load will want to roll to the middle of the beam. This can be hazardous. So, defection is more important than stress BUT when deflection is limited the stress is usually at or below 10,000 PSI.
   - guru - Friday, 08/27/10 11:21:52 EDT

Monorails: When I put up my dream shop I installed a 40 foot long monorail down the middle of the shop. It was supported by a 4 foot tall wooden bridge truss spanning perpendicular to the roof trusses. There were beam hangers every 6 feet centered on a truss. The trusses at these 6 foot increments were doubled and bolted together. I had rated this at 5 tons but it would take more.

The problem with attaching any load lifting device to a building is that (at least in the U.S) it has to be approved by a Professional (licensed) Engineer or you are in violation of building codes. In most cases doing what I did above would not be allowed. At the time I had some connections in the buildings inspection office and they approved my engineering . . .

I was recently in an auto shop with a common flat roof supported by light weight steel trusses about a foot in depth. In several places they had put heavy wood beams between the braces spanning two of the trusses. These in turn had chains looped over them. A common sight. While the chains looked huge the load to be lifted (auto and truck engines) was probably no more than 1,000 pounds and most likely around 400. IT still looked tweeky. . . A big difference from lifting tools and machinery in a blacksmith shop. I have a fabricated bench that weighs 1,300 pound and a weld platen that weighs 2,500 pounds. . . Even small machines and junkyard hammers start at 500 pounds and up (rapidly). AND THEN there are the times that you miss a strap or chain or something hangs and you are lifting the truck as well as the tool. . .

A key thing to remember is that if you have a two ton hoist, then whatever you attach it to should easily handle three tons or more.
   - guru - Friday, 08/27/10 12:10:17 EDT

For loads of only a couple of hundred pounds I have seen a fellow use sliding barn door hardware.

I'd fear that I or a student would try to get away with a heavy load sometime. I try to engineer for my foibles!

QuenchCrack---mail sent.
   Thomas P - Friday, 08/27/10 13:05:32 EDT

And for lifting A.S.O.'s 100 pounds and under I use my...

..wait a minute. Wrong forum!
   - Nippulini - Friday, 08/27/10 14:46:34 EDT

I am interested in starting to forge as a hobby. I am going to build the forge out of the brake drum from your plans here. My question is I need an anvil. I don't understand the light, med, heavy duty classes and what makes them up. I also don't want to put out alot of money until i see if it's something I enjoy. So I have gotten access to three materials one is a 3"x3" Steel Bilt about 2' long, a rail road track about 8" long, and rail road track about 4' long. What would be the best uses for these and how would they be rated for type of work?

   Brian - Friday, 08/27/10 15:23:54 EDT

Brian, All of these would be rated light duty. Even by sinking the long piece of rail in the ground about 2 feet, which would give you a VERY substantial mass under the hammer the small work surface limits what you can do.

But. . the best thing to do is to try it and see. Note however that steel is stubborn to work especially if you have undersized tools. Keep the work small (3/8" bar or less) when working with these anvils.
   - guru - Friday, 08/27/10 16:52:07 EDT

3"x3"x2' mounted vertically is approaching some of the knifemaking anvils that folks are using these days!

I use: Light 90-120# Medium 121-200# Heavy 200-400 and quite heavy indeed 401#+

Most hobby smiths do very well with a medium anvil AKA "shop anvil" but then again a lot will have a light anvil too for taking to demo's. For many years my 93# anvil had a lot more hours of smithing on it than my 500# anvil as at demos it got used all day long and at home there were always other things I should be doing.

   Thomas P - Friday, 08/27/10 17:45:18 EDT

Barn Door Track:
I have a section of this track with a small chain hoist that services 2 Bridgeport mills. This is NOT for heavy loads, but the ability to lower a part slowly and be sure there are no chips & dirt under it comes in handy.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 08/27/10 21:22:30 EDT

we want to buy 20 - 40 shutter dogs. looking for curly S design. need to keep cost down -e.g. $10 per unit. what would you suggest? we are located in Toronto Canada.
   ray - Saturday, 08/28/10 09:34:47 EDT

Ray, You won't get hand forged ones for that price. They will need to be simple stampings or LASER cut. The last ones I made back in the early 1980's sold for $25 each and were under priced then.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/28/10 09:52:40 EDT


For ten bucks U.S> you get these:


   - Rich - Saturday, 08/28/10 10:04:39 EDT

I have a bunch of flat cut "S" blanks that Paw-Paw had made or picked up somewhere. They would need a spike or mounting bracket and finishing. Even making them the "cheep" way in steel would be $20 or so today.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/28/10 12:56:04 EDT


I think this site would help with pricing.
   Mike T. - Saturday, 08/28/10 17:45:19 EDT

Stormcrow- Your press looks awesome. Very Cool.

I have an old lathe with a missing tooth on the back gear. Is it feasible to braze a piece in and file it to shape? I think the gear is cast steel.
   - Josh S. - Saturday, 08/28/10 19:31:16 EDT

Josh, The back gears on most lathes are cast iron. It is possible to do what you suggest but the brazing will do nearly as much damage to other teeth and possibly the bearings as it repairs unless you are very good/careful.

Broken back gears are a common problem on old machine tools. It is most often caused by someone engaging the gears while something is rotating and the bull gear is still locked.

Another way to repair the back gear is to obtain a change gear the same size and machine it into a ring or ring and flange gear then machine the old back gear to match. The parts should be carefully trued prior to machining and snug fits used to keep the parts concentric. Then the two parts are drilled and taped in assembly and bolted together. This is easier done on the large end than the small. The small end would need a steel spur gear press fit and pinned in place. This job can be done on the lathe that needs the repair. . .

Most of these gears are available as change gears as they are straight 14.5° spur gears.

I've got a box of gears I bought 20 years ago to repair one of my drill press's back gears. . . It'll get done one day.

When my Dad gave me our then 30 year old Craftsman lathe it had broken back gears from someone abusing the lathe. Luckily they were still available new at the time. I think the complete gear set cost $150 at the time. Of course that was a third more than the entire lathe cost new in 1950.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/28/10 20:20:45 EDT

Another gear tooth repair is to mill out a slot and fit a replacement tooth that is held in place by small socket head cap screws. The deeper the slot, providing there is enough material, the better. A slot at least 1/2 the tooth height would be sufficient.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/28/10 20:26:21 EDT

I've used keystock stick welded with special cast iron electrodes. No preheat or post heat necessary, but I do it anyway. Of course this applies to medium/large square tooth.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 08/28/10 21:02:58 EDT

AND works if you are lucky, or the gear is ductile iron. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 08/28/10 21:23:37 EDT

Gear Tooth Repair:
Another method is to drill & tap a row of holes where the tooth belongs and run bolts in that bind up in the bottom of the holes. Drill the first hole, tap & insert bolt then cut off to proper hight. Drill the next hole so the edge nearly intersects the first bolt, file a little to get the tap started. The row of bolts is then filed to the gear tooth shape. Red Locktight would be a good idea, but it wasn't around when the repairs I have seen were made.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 08/28/10 21:35:40 EDT

Three Flute Drills:

I was at an auction this week and bought quite a few taper shank drills. Most were standard two flute types but there were a couple of 3 and 4 flute drills as well. I am pretty sure the four flute models are core drills for drill holes which have been created by a core in a casting. They look much like reamers, but with spiral flutes. Does anyone know what the application of the 3 flute drills would be?

   Patrick Nowak - Sunday, 08/29/10 01:18:26 EDT

the 3 flute as I understand it is a compromise between a 2 flute and a 4 flute. in the case of a core drill where smaller amounts of material are being removed the more flutes excel in less grabbing, smoother finish and faster feeds.
   - Ty Murch - Sunday, 08/29/10 13:33:32 EDT

Three flute drills are very useful for opening out holes to a larger size. They do not chatter and grab in this application, unlike a two flute drill. We used to use them extensively in hand held drills to open out half inch holes that we had drilled to 5/8
   - Chris - Sunday, 08/29/10 17:00:55 EDT

Three flute drills are very useful for opening out holes to a larger size. They do not chatter and grab in this application, unlike a two flute drill. We used to use them extensively in hand held drills to open out half inch holes that we had drilled to 5/8" on a regular basis and even to 7/8" and larger occasionly. For this purpose we used to put them in the lathe and turn the taper down to half an inch parallel so they fit in a standard Jacobs Chuck. That is an immensely useful purchase that you have made.They are a bit tricky to resharpen by hand but you can do it.
   - Chris - Sunday, 08/29/10 17:01:33 EDT

I think I have asked this question before. What bits can you use in a table router and on a lathe to work brass and silver-nickle ? To make ferules, guards, spacers etc. for knives.
   Mike T. - Monday, 08/30/10 00:16:33 EDT

Mike, not the same tools. Routers are designed for wood and turn 30 to 40,000 RPM and can only cut metal with the smallest cutters and they must be the proper grade of carbide and ground for the purpose. Tools for the lathe which commonly run at a top speed of a couple thousand RPM and usually much slower are generally the same as working steel except that for best performance the clearance angle for brass is greater than that for steel. Same for drill presses. See a machinists' handbook such as Machinery's Handbook for details.

Always remember that the required cutting speed is in Surface Speed per Time Unit such as Feet per Minute. The larger the tool, the faster the surface speed for a given RPM. Small tools can turn fast and large tools very slow. Same for lathe turning speeds. The larger the diameter of the work the slower it must turn.
   - guru - Monday, 08/30/10 01:31:49 EDT

Well, I had e-mailed a company and asked them if end mills would work in my router...they said they would, but the end mills had to be aligned properly and the table bolted down tight to prevent vibrations. If there were any vibrations, the carbide end mills would break. I think everything is bolted down tight enough, and would wear safety goggles before trying. I would also not try it free handed, would press tight against the fence.
   Mike T. - Monday, 08/30/10 06:40:22 EDT

Mike-T, I would suggest a face shield over the goggles, since exploding carbide tools send out shards that are glass sharp and they fly high great energy. The goggles will cover the eyes but what will cover your face/neck?
   ptree - Monday, 08/30/10 07:22:42 EDT

How about getting a router speed controller? They're only about $20. It would reduce the torque, but you would at least have less energy in the event bits broke off.
   - Marc - Monday, 08/30/10 08:32:22 EDT

Another kind of bit would be carbide burrs. They're made for high-speed devices and do a great job chewing up steel, so brass would be no problem. I would still slow it down as much as I could and still get results, though. Burrs throw out lots of small chips.
   - Marc - Monday, 08/30/10 08:36:00 EDT

Ptree and Marc,
Thank you for the great ideas. I was thinking about a speed controller for the router. My lathe has a speed control on it, I guess most of them do. I do have some carbide burrs, I will try them,
   Mike T. - Monday, 08/30/10 09:09:23 EDT

Always check the recommended speed rating for the tool as well as material to be cut. The carbide burrs or "rotary files" are great for high speed spindles but are not designed for heavy cuts.

The "rigidity" question was discussed previously. On the table router it is a big IF. The rigidity that the milling cut people expect is a machine that weighs a ton with a spindle that weighs more than the entire router assembly. Machines (other than old heavy duty commercial machines) designed for wood are generally to flimsy for metal work.
   - guru - Monday, 08/30/10 10:11:43 EDT

"What router bits can be used in a lathe" ?????
I just got up and I'm a little blurry yet but, what are you going to do with router bits that can't be done with conventional lathe tooling?
All I can think of is that your doing "C" axis work with them.
Router bits made from HSS (high speed steal) will not hold up to contact with metallic surfaces.
If you consider that the surface speed of a .5 diameter tool at 20,000 rpm is 2616 SFM, far beyond the recommended 120 SFM max.
HSS will not work on brass, bronze or nickle silver at that SFM either.

The key thing to remember with metal removal tools is they cause a great deal of heat at the point of the cut.
If the majority of that heat is not taken away with the chips the tool produces the tool will break down very rapidly.
If your tool does alot of turning on the work without making any chips you will just have a mess.
Carbide tooling has a much higher heat threshold but is still damaged by it like any other cutting tool would be.
You would have to slow your router down to about 800 rpm to get about 100 SFM on a .5" tool. You would have no torque left on that router at that speed.
As I said I'm still a little blurry but, I don't see any advantage in using a router in place of your conventional lathe tooling.

   - merl - Monday, 08/30/10 10:12:48 EDT

Merl, His original question was a little too generalized asking about cutters in a variety of machines including milling cutters in a wood working router. . . (bad idea in my opinion). He mentioned speed control on the lathe. . .

Mike T. Is this a wood turning lathe or metal turning (engine lathe)?

A wood turning lathe at the slowest speed that has any torque will probably be too fast and again, not rigid enough unless its a very heavy commercial wood working machine (lots of cast iron). A few old wood turning lathes were heavy enough and came with a compound rest for light metal turning. But they are pretty rare.

Generally trying to work metal with wood working tools is throwing money away on cutters and wrecks the wood working equipment. . .
   - guru - Monday, 08/30/10 10:47:46 EDT

I have been looking at Patrick Pelgroms self contained power hammer. I happened across a pair of hydraulic rams the guy said was from the railroad. The collapsed length of each ram is about 5 feet. I estimate they weigh about 175 lbs each and the cylinder inner diameter I estimate at 4 inches. The shaft I estimate at 2 inches. Now my 4 questions:
1. Are these cylinders good candidates for a self contained jyh?
2. If so, how does one keep the hammer ram from rotating?
3. Why did he have a piston machined for the compressor side? (are the seals the issue?)
4. I think this project is doable but should I just KISS and make a mechanical hammer?

thank you for your time and expertise!
   Speedy - Monday, 08/30/10 12:46:08 EDT

Speedy, First, There is nothing simple about self contained hammers, a lot to keep up with.

Patrick built both his cylinders. I just looked at all his letters and I can't find anything about anti-rotation. . . Most hammers use a flat on the rod that has a mating part in the guide bearing.

Anything is possible "Junk Yard Hammer" material. If you are REALLY building using the Junkyard philosophy of using whatever you find as cheaply as possible. If you have little in it, then you have lost little if it does not work as well as you expected. If it works at ALL you are way ahead.

One idea I had a long time ago was a "walking" cylinder for the compressor. This is anchored to a bearing at the top and the rod connects directly to the crank. Air connections must be flexible hoses but the general design is simplified. If the hoses leave the cylinder near the top rotation point there is very little flex on them. The cylinder only moves back and forth about 20 degrees (or less) and a counter weight on the crank will keep it running vibration free.

   - guru - Monday, 08/30/10 14:24:20 EDT

OK, lets try this, then.

Mike T, as you likely already know, in turning, stock is removed by rotating the work against a stationary (that is to say a non-rotating) tool.
In milling, stock is removed by forcing a rotating tool to follow a certain path while in contact with the work.
We can and, often do, use milling/rotating cutters in a lathe BUT, that is a special set up for an engine lathe and a different machine all together for a CNC 4 or 5 axis turning center.
If you want to see a good example of how rotating cutters are used in a special lathe, google " Holtzapffel ornamental turning lathe" or look on youtube and I'm sure you will find many examples of ornamental turning and 4 axis turning.
My point is, what you won't see is someone trying to hold a router against a turning piece of stock chucked up in a lathe. I sincerely hope you aren't thinking of that.
Always remember that if you don't approach a machine like a lathe with a high level of logic, common sense and respect for its power, it may very well kill you or seriously injure you.
Please be very careful when trying to "find a way" to get something done using only what you have on hand.
   - merl - Monday, 08/30/10 15:54:14 EDT

Theoretically, would it be feasible to utilize a jack hammer into a frame and using that with a foot pedal control as an auto hammer?
   - Nippulini - Monday, 08/30/10 16:25:06 EDT

Also, my electrician buddy tells me that the phillips screwdriver was invented in the 1980's by Cadillac. What should I tell him?
   - Nippulini - Monday, 08/30/10 16:25:55 EDT

TGN; how interesting as I was using a phillips head screwdriver in the 1960's! Perhaps he ment Torx or one of the other odd ones?

"auto hammer" you mean for bodywork? You would see some of the same issues you would have with using it as a power hammer for blacksmithing as it's not made to be in a rigid system and the adjustability would have to be designed in.

Now in armourmaking pneumatic impact guns have been used as plannishers and built into frames.

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/30/10 18:13:06 EDT

Nippulini tell him who cares Philips screws are CRAP!!!! When I get them with hardware I throw them in the garbage. I cannot understand why they are still made. Robertson screws (square drive) were invented in 1908 and are so much easier to use.
   - JNewman - Monday, 08/30/10 18:17:38 EDT

Hes off by 50 years and a company does not invent ANYTHING, only people do, with their attendant names (thus Phillips rather than Cacillac screw).

Ah, tell him he needs glasses so he can tell a three from an eight.

Jack hammers and their smaller cousins the hand held air hammers are and have all been used to work hot and cold metal.
   - guru - Monday, 08/30/10 18:21:22 EDT

I just had to purchase $150 worth of turn signal lights for my F-600 Ford truck because the Phillips screws which hold the lenses in stripped out their slots rather than backing out of plastic. . . I also hate them . .
   - guru - Monday, 08/30/10 18:33:28 EDT

The only type of screw I hate more than phillips is torx, and maybe Bristal, or Parker kaylon's, or plain slotted. Give me a socket head cap screw with a hex socket, or a good hex head cap screw. The Odd Ferry 12 point male cap head screw was not bad.
But then I was spoiled by 21 years at the valve company that had cap screw made for us with an extra heavy, one size bigger cap. Except for the ones we made our selves, that had that extra tall one size bigger head.
But then they started making their own in the 1860 to 1880 time frame, and the standard was what you made them:)
Our drawings were letter sized. Just not the ANSI standard letter sizes since our system pre-dated ANSI.
   ptree - Monday, 08/30/10 19:04:39 EDT

Thank you for the concern. I have been thinking of inventive ways people can use tools that will accomplish the same job without purchasing a lot of expensive equipment. I know a lot of you make your living with expensive tools and you need these tools. For the hobbyist, who just wants to make a part a certain way, purchasing expensive equipment is not feasible unless you are wealthy. I had thought about using end mills in my router and may try it to see how it does. I had also thought about turning brass etc. on my lathe, but wouldn't know exactly how to go about it. I have worked metal using a lot of elbow grease, but would like to find some short cuts. For example, for those who can't afford a Burr King belt grinder, I saw a drawing a guy made explaining how he could hollow grind a knife blade using a hand held 4 inch disk grinder. He made a jig and locked the grinder in it and the blades he produced looked good. However, it has limitations.
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 08/31/10 00:36:15 EDT

hi dear
what is the heat treatment process for extention springs after forming? My spring is UNS S30400 (stanless steel).
   reza - Tuesday, 08/31/10 07:35:15 EDT

Reza, 304 Stainless spring material is work hardened from drawing the wire and is used to make cold formed, non-heat treated springs. Heat treatment would only soften the wire.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/31/10 08:43:06 EDT

Mike, we are not trying to stifle your imagination, just prevent you from burning up or breaking a lot of expensive cutters. We have all learned these lessons the hard way.

Your example of using an angle grinder to grind a blade was conversion of a metal cutting tool to more controlled metal cutting. Converting power wood cutting machines to metal cutting is a lot different. Lowering the speed (with torque) is the first issue, then rigidity is the second. Even with old manually powered lathes they figured out hundreds of years ago that a clamped down tool holder was necessary for metal cutting. This was not just to make more accurate cuts but to hold the tool at the proper angle and without vibration.

For the things you are wanting to do I think you should be searching for a good cheap small metal turning lathe. I purchased a second (back up) 6" Craftsman lathe not too long ago for $350. That was fully equipped with chucks and tool holders. All it needed was a better 1/3 HP motor and a more rigid bench (It was mounted on a cheap tool cabinet that could barely hold the load much less not vibrate).

Granted, this was a "deal" because the guy didn't want to deal with shipping or parting it out.

A small engine lathe is great for knife work. The last furnished blades I made (two toy swords) had turned pommels on both. It only took a few minutes each to make beautifully decorated parts. The lathe could be used to make special pins and rivets. It would also be useful for pulleys and shafts for that grinder you want. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/31/10 09:21:44 EDT

Guru, I second that using a wood lathe for metal work is a really bad idea. Too much danger for the return.
I believe I quote you in saying "The lathe is the queen of the shop"
I see small metal working lathes on Craig's list for $250 to $500 pretty regularly
   ptree - Tuesday, 08/31/10 10:33:20 EDT

At metal turning speeds you can actually use hand held tooling much like a wood lathe if all you are doing is some decorative or sculptural work. But you can also free-form using the two axiis of the carriage. Followed by filing you can get some pretty interesting shapes.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/31/10 14:01:44 EDT

Ahh how much money do you save abusing equipment not engineered to do what you want it to and then spending a couple thousand dollars at the ER?

I hope at least you spring for GOOD Personal Protective Equipment.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/31/10 14:04:24 EDT

Off-Line: We were off-line for a couple hours today. The longest we have ever been and it wasn't us or our server, it was a DOS (Denial of Service) attack on the server farm we are hosted on.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/31/10 14:33:27 EDT

Hay I live in north ca near reno nv and I cant find coal fore my forge does eanyone no where I can get some or is their something elce i can ues
   clayton g - Tuesday, 08/31/10 19:27:24 EDT

I was wondering if there was any tips or hints that I could use to help keep my work straight and not have to keep taking heats just to hammer it straight?

I've been reading the New Edge of the Anvil book, and it helps some, but it seems like no matter how much an effort i make to keep the work level with the anvil, it always wants to get out of straightness.

   PondRacer - Tuesday, 08/31/10 21:05:57 EDT

Coal: Clayton, Ask folks with the CBA where they get coal. Folks all over the country have the same problem and just pay the shipping for good coal from the East.

Your best alternative is charcoal. Real wood "lump" charcoal. It is the next best thing to coal and available almost everywhere world wide. It takes different fire management techniques and time to get used to it.

Lump charcoal is sold by restaurant supplies for steak houses and the big box stores in some places. . . unless its been outlawed in California.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/31/10 21:03:33 EDT


You haven't told us what you're forging, but perhaps you're being too picky about keeping the work straight. It's a good idea to do a quick straightening before you put the piece back in the fire, but some curves are often irrelevant until you're ready to finish it up. Also, straightening requires a lower heat than most other forging operations, so you can often do it after the piece cools too much to do anything else.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 08/31/10 21:17:28 EDT

Pondracer, Paying attention to what is causing the bends helps. Holding the work flatter on the anvil, straightening as you go. Straightening at the end of each heat save taking extra heats. Most straightening should be able to be done cold unless you have some sever kinks.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/31/10 21:23:25 EDT


When you hit the work with the hammer, the metal is displaced. If you hit one side more than the other, that side will be displaced more. If, for example, you are chamfering the edges of a piece of flat bar and hit one side twenty times and the other forty times, the pieceis going to curve with the side being hit more times getting longer than the other one. The same thing applies dring tapering and bending operations. Consistency in your hammer blows (developed only with lots of practice) makes it so you can even out the discrepancies as you work and keep things straighter. Keep in mind too, hammer blows done when the piece is fresh out of the fire will have more effect than those done when it has cooled some, again introducing curvature. Practice, practice, practice.
   - Rich - Tuesday, 08/31/10 21:31:40 EDT

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