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 1 - 7, 2011 on the Guru's Den
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Careers :
RM, These are tough decisions. While there are still good interesting machinist jobs in Job Shops most tool and die making has gone to EDM and Rapid Prototyping. Its all done from 3D computer models on high tech machines. Most of this work has gone to China and more is going every day.

Training in tool and die making is done primarily in industry. Those that have openings often have coop deals at local training schools. To find these jobs you have to travel to where the industry and schools are. Apprenticeships are business specific and not very portable. They are simply OJT (On the Job Training). Which often means being thrown to the wolves. . .

Jobs in blacksmithing are rarer than tool and die jobs. Most that hire expect a lot of skill and talent as they cannot afford to train. They expect Journeyman level employees that can handle anything thrown at them from sales and designing work to bids and completing projects.

The best thing you can do is study engineering or metallurgy somewhere that you can fill all your electives with art, welding, machine shop and perhaps some business courses. Some art departments have sculpture courses where you can practice welding but I would recommend a good commercial or trade school series of welding courses FIRST. Drawing is most important in the design trade.

I'll tell you the same thing I told my son. You have to go where the jobs in your industry are. He wanted to be a fine artist but did not want to work in New York, Atlanta, Chicago or LA. So now he has a minimum wage job that will never in his lifetime repay his student loans. This also applies to schools. You also have to know you pay a penalty going out of state in most cases. It actually pays to go live and work a year or so in the area you want to go to school. It will more than pay. The hard thing to avoid is life. Getting sucked into a job that keeps you out of school or getting married. . . Make a plan and try to stick to it. But also be flexible in the path you follow. Through engineering you may find robotics, aviation or structural design is your field. If you have the skills to be a blacksmith you can do any of these things IF you have the education.
   - guru - Monday, 08/01/11 01:54:46 EDT

RM Howell : The tool and die field has changed a whole lot since I apprenticed in '77-'81. There are still tool and die jobs, but in the US there are more tool and die makers than jobs, as Jock points out due to outsourcing, not only to China, but to Portugal and other low wage industrialised countries. Manufacturing industries that employed tool & die makers have moved to lower wage countries, those that stayed in the US have moved to lower wage, lower tax states [the South].

EDM and CNC machines have replaced some of the manual tool component manufacturing operations, but those machines do not make parts without human input, those parts don't fit and assemble themselves, and those tools don't trubbleshoot themselves.

Tool & die making is best learned through a formal apprenticeship with night school or equivilent theory traning. Then You move from job to job in different sectors of tool & die making and manufacturing. This used to be called a journymanship in Europe, We don't have a formal recognition of the process in the US.

Your problem will be finding a company that offeres an apprenticeship.

This is still a great trade to know, but employment oportunities in the US, or any high wage country are not what they used to be. Pay rates here in Pennsylvania [or anywhere in the rust belt] have not gone up a whole lot in the 20 years since I worked in industry.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 08/01/11 02:49:58 EDT

no it looks a lot like the 9 pound ones with slotted feet that are on ebay all the time its a lot larger though about a foot long with no holes or slots in feet it has the same C the sides of my triangle each have a raised letter word that borders them columbian hardware and cleveland
   vern kelderman - Monday, 08/01/11 06:54:45 EDT

Vern, Mail me a photo. It sounds like it might be a Columbian bench or "craft" anvil. These are not a forging anvil but a small light duty tool used for art and craft work, heavey jewelery, bending wire and other relatively light jobs.

There were two versions of these. A forged 10 pound anvil with made up until 1926 and a cast alloy version a were made for a good while after. The later versions were being made up into the 1990's or later. However, the company is now part of a global holding company that does much of its manufacturing overseas.
   - guru - Monday, 08/01/11 09:16:03 EDT

Career Direction Help : Well, its sort of sad to here the news on tool and die making. One thing about this world now days is that; if its hands on its usually pee on. There doesen't seem to be very much between white collar office jobs and low paying grunt work when it comes to metalworking.
Thanks for the help guys.
   RM Howell - Monday, 08/01/11 13:31:29 EDT

i can email a photo if i know where im fairly sure this is not the later version ive seen many of those the sears craft anvil is identical to them 8 pounds and red ill email you a photo thanks for the help
   vern kelderman - Monday, 08/01/11 13:44:12 EDT

Careers and more :
RM, There are many other options to tool and die maker. In fact even in the "good old days" these were the highest level positions in most shops and difficult to work up to. Tool and die guys are the most anal guys in the shop and usually had so low a scrap rate that nobody can remember when they scraped a part. You could generally tell their work from others at a distance. They were the best of the best.

As I mentioned there are still quite a few jobs for job shop machinists and are required positions before becoming a tool and die maker. Job shop machinists see a large variety of work and must learn to be both fast and accurate.

There are also a lot of welder/fabricator jobs. This is as close to a blacksmith as you can get in many shops and a FEW actually do forging. These positions usually start as welder jobs and then you work up to fitter assembler. These positions require guys who can read drawings, make stock lists, figure out orders of operations and above all measure and layout accurately without errors. The guys that work up from just schleper and welder are the guys that do good work and don't have to be told what to do next. They will find work to do even if its pushing a broom between jobs.

There are a wide range of welding jobs from nuclear pipe fitter to high steel erector. All are a good day job for anyone looking at going into blacksmithing. If you are a technical type there is a lot of semi-automatic or simple robotic welding that requires both a range of welding experience and machine/computer savy. These high tech welding jobs are ones you work your way into by being on the ball, studying manuals and being in the right place at the right time. . (the ultimate secret of life).

As we've been discussing on the Hammer-In anything mechanical applies to many of the type of jobs you are looking for. When you go to college and need part time work avoid the fast food and delivery traps and look for something in auto mechanics (lube and oil change technician) or summer jobs on an electricians crew. . These type jobs are rarely advertised. You have to go ASK for them. Experience in any trade, even as the lowest helper is more applicable to a future in a mechanical trade than flipping burgers or busing tables.

If you are white, learn to speak Spanish. The crews you will probably be working with will be largely Hispanic and a white guy with good language skills often gets put in charge even if he has less experience. YES, this is a racist statement but our world is still that way. If you are Hispanic or speak any other language other than English as a first language then learn to speak English without an accent. Go find a copy of the movie My Fair Lady (1964) with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. LEARN from it!

Those fabricators I mentioned above are now big into CAD and 3D-CAD plus many of the tools that automatically generate stock lists and job schedules. The ability to use AutoCAD well, its programming tools and plugins is requisite to management positions in these firms. They same is true in many other construction fields.

No matter what you study in college it will never be enough. Everything you will REALLY need will be learned after school while on the job OR taking supplemental courses recommended or required by your employer. Everything changes FAST today and requires constant re-education. Get a degree in ANYTHING and then see what comes.

My father's generation (the one rapidly dying off in their 80's) often had only a couple job changes during their life. My father had four. Two early jobs that got him the job that he worked until retirement and then the business he created. My generation (most close to retirement (ha ha) age have had three to eight or more jobs in their lifetime. I've been self employed most of my life but that has included six different focuses over 40 years. Today, if you want to get ahead and work into your dream job you may end up changing jobs every two or three years. For most this means packing up and moving from job to job. My younger brother has done this. Almost every time he has thought he was going to stay where he was forever he has sold his house and moved across the country. He has lived in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Colorado, California, North Carolina and now is back in Virginia.

Moving for jobs is now pretty much part of the universal experience for anyone that wants more than a common laborer job or to be dependent on a possibly marginal local economy. In many fields you may get a few promised raises but the only way to move up significantly is to change jobs. So this is now the rule rather than the exception. The skills of relocation, dealing with landlords (getting back your deposits), opening accounts with new utilities, changing addresses, residency and drivers licenses, new checking accounts. . . are all part of being mobile today. The little "gotchas" such as new auto registrations being taxed as if you just purchased the vehicle in your new state and insurance bought for one locality not being good in another. . . Its a constant learning process.
   - guru - Monday, 08/01/11 15:45:33 EDT

Note that a degree in Metallurgy can end you up someplace that is doing *real* work. One of my friends got such a degree and is now a metallurgist for an open die forging company.

   Thomas P - Monday, 08/01/11 15:51:01 EDT

Anvilfire MATH QUIZ - Win a hat : A degree in anything is better than no degree but one related to your field of interest is best.

The thing about science and engineering degrees is that they are very math heavy. Being fluent in math is important for getting through the courses as well as keeping a job. While most of it does not apply to blacksmithing there is still a lot of math that makes things go much easier in the shop. This includes everything from simple geometry to differential equations.

So here is the contest quiz. Prize, a new anvilfire hat mailed anywhere in the world for the first correct answer. Post your answers here. Please use simple characters and or word terms (+,-,/,*, SQRT or SquareRoot, Sum, SINE, COS. . .). Please no extended keyboard characters.
Without looking it up (I'll have to trust you on that), what is the formula in most reduced form for calculating the largest dimension across a solid rectangular shape of any proportion (cube, flat, long rectangle)?
Contest closes August 2, 2011 midnight Eastern time.
   - guru - Monday, 08/01/11 16:34:35 EDT

Math quiz : a squared + b squared = C squared

(side squared = side squared = hypotenuse squared)
   Milton Rodewald - Monday, 08/01/11 18:39:54 EDT

Math Quiz : Largest Dimension = SQRT(a squared + b squared + c squared)

Where a, b, and c are the three dimensions of the solid rectangular shape.
   - Jesse F - Monday, 08/01/11 23:39:05 EDT

Quiz : I think it would be C=SQRT(A²+B²)
   Rich - Monday, 08/01/11 23:41:37 EDT

Quiz redux : I was reading it as a 2-dimensional problem. For 3 dimensions, Jese F has it right.
   Rich - Monday, 08/01/11 23:50:24 EDT

Dave Boyer : a squared + b squared = c squared

c= the square rout of the sum of the opposite sides squared

Tangent = opposite side length / ajasent side length

Sine = hypotenuse length / ajasent side length

If You set up Your triangles properly, You will seldom use cosine & cotangent.

Cosine = lenthth of hypotenuse / length of ajasent side

Cotangent = lemght of ajasent side/ length of opposite side

The simplified formula for drill & lathe cutting speed You should be promoting is:
(4 times cutting speed sfpm) divided by diameter in inches equals RPM

For mechanical shapers, 7 times cutting speed SFPM divided by length of stroke in inches equals strokes per minute

For use with a dividing head, T=40/N, where T is the number of turns and fractions of a turn, and N is the number of divisions, gear teeth etc. On those fractional turns, You have to get to a denominator from 15-49, as those are the numbers of holes in the hole plated.

This is among the stuff Vo Tek high school machine shop used to teach, along with making parts to fix anything at the school, or that the teachers owned.
It was a good education for the 2-3 students per class that bothered to learn it.

RIP Bob Lang, You did the job as well as any could have.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 08/02/11 00:29:20 EDT

school : Too bad I never learned to spell or type...
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 08/02/11 00:32:37 EDT

Proof then post: : Sine + hypotenuse length over opposite side length.

Cosine + hypotenuse side length over ajasent side length.

Not too many screw ups for the night after chemo...
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 08/02/11 00:37:51 EDT

Try again : Sine = hypotenuse/ opposite.

Cosine = hypotenuse/ajasent.

Sure wish there was an edit function...

   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 08/02/11 00:40:37 EDT

Quiz : Thanks Rich, I recall this because we referred to it as the "tri-thagorean" theorem back in school ha ha
   - Jesse F - Tuesday, 08/02/11 00:46:01 EDT

WE HAVE A WINNER! : Jesse, Send me an email with your mailing address. No point waiting until midnight.

Milton was a bit quick on the draw missing the fact that this was a SOLID not a plane surface. Rich did the same until he re-read the problem. Dave, Thanks for all the other useful reduced formulae.

I was not taught this one in school but figured it out when I was working on a program to calculate centers of gravities of multiple objects. To determine CG's in 3 dimensional space the masses are proportioned on that 2D hypotenuse. With more than two objects the books have very complicated math. For a program with any number of parts I calculated the first CG, then the next between that point and the third mass and the next and so on. You could calculate the CG of a very complicated device (such as an aircraft) using this method. Once the data is setup the computer can do all those calcs in an instant.

The amazing thing is that this simple formula can probably be applied to such esoteric fields as multidimensional space or time/space theory where the 4th dimension would be time. This is way beyond my pay grade but I have a hunch I am right. Proving it would take much more complex math. . .

If you understand the Pythagorean Theorem then all you do is add the third variable to the equasion. For calculating a missing the side when the 3D hypotenuse is known the formula is similar to that of a triangle but subtracting the sum of the square of the two known sides from the square of the hypotenuse to find the unknown side.

Congratulations Jesse F.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/02/11 08:10:52 EDT

weathervane parts : I recently got into the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. It has a really nice wing of just iron work. Actually some amazing balcony railings, gates, doors, and a few weathervanes from the 1700's. I took a lot of pictures of the scroll work and learned some new ways they used to join scroll work as it past each other. I gain enough motivation for at least a couple of years worth of projects. The first being an iron weathervane. As I don't have a swage block to form a few parts I think I need I am looking for a few sources. Mostly varying sizes of balls (2"-4")cones, etc.in steel not copper or brass. I can find lots of copper and brass...I want it to rust.
If you are ever in London make sure you visit the V & A and enjoy how just a few simple tools and some coal with the right craftsman can create such gracefull art work.
   S. K. Smith - Tuesday, 08/02/11 08:27:04 EDT

SINES and Shortcuts :
For those that cannot remember all the permutations of sines and lengths but are good at algebra the law of sines is a good one to know and is easy to remember. Small letters are angles, Caps are sides opposite the angle.

SIN(a)/A = SIN(b)/B = SIN(c)/C

This looks much more elegant when the division lines are horizontal. . .

I like to know HOW thing work, be it mechanical or mathematical. I also prefer doing most math the long multi step way than using shortcuts because if you need to modify a calculation and all you know is the shortened version then you can't change it. I've run into this in science and engineering references where a constant or a safety factor has been buried a shortened formula making it difficult to apply in a slightly different situation OR to adjust a safety factor. Often a needed safety factor is the opposite of that used (a - instead of a +) depending on how the problem is being approached (are you fighting friction OR using it? - Big difference.). Having all the steps is also better when writing computer programs as it is much easier to test and prove its accuracy or correctness as well as plug in different variables OR make repetitious steps a common function.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/02/11 08:27:53 EDT

SInking Steel Weathervane Parts : S.K. A wood block works well for both hot and cold work. The hot work is smokey and will need good ventilation but you can start with a flat block and make the forms in the block as you work. . . I learned that one from Frank Turley.

Would love to see your photos. If you have some good ones you would like posted on anvilfire send them to me.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/02/11 08:33:16 EDT

Uses for the Pythagorean Theorem and tri-thagorean :
For those that don't think this kind of math is important in the blacksmith shop here are a couple uses.

Assuring any frame or corner is square. You can layout perfectly even sides of a rectangle for a frame or foundation but still be out of square. A diagonal measurement calculated with the Pythagorean Theorem in one direction will assure perfectly square corners. The Egyptian builders were doing this thousands of years ago. Today anyone can do it with a pocket calculator.

Anyone building frames with diagonals (such as gates) needs to know this. Sure, you can lay it out full scale and measure it BUT is your square true? You would be surprised how far off most are. You only have to drop one once to have it off 1/8" or more in a foot. . . For truing see our iForge demo on Squares and Layout.

The tri-thagorean calculation is used for diagonals in space frames and can also be used to check their trueness. While these are rare in the blacksmith shop they come up occasionally in fabrication and steel erection shops. This is a dimension that an Engineer may leave off a frame but the guy on the shop floor may need to check his work and be sure its true before the final welds.

This can also tell you the longest part that will fit in a box.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/02/11 12:07:52 EDT

S.K. You may want to look into armouring as most of it involves making 3D out of 2D steel. If you were to peruse armourarchive.org and look at "tools" you would find an unbelievable amount of ways to go from flat to full.

For dishing I like the bottoms of gas cylinders---scrapped ones that I cut off the bottom.

In general the rule is soft over hard and hard over soft. So if you use a wooden dishing form use a steel hammer and if you use a steel dishing form use a wooden or rawhide hammer---makes for fewer dings and less thinning of the metal.

A RR bolt, (not spike!) can make a nice dishing hammer as it has a nicely shallow curved face. (If you think on it a small sphere is actually *sharp* leaving a ding) You can forge or grind hammer faces curved as well.

One old trick for turning trailer hitch balls that have a flat on top into ball stakes is to cut it off the stem leaving a bit of stem attached and turn it over and weld the flat to a rod and then grind the top to match the curve of the ball. Me I just buy the old rounded ones without the flat.

There are really tons of ways to make such tooling out there!
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/02/11 13:10:59 EDT

weathervane help : Thanks to both of you guys for the good ideas...never thought of a trailer hitch ball! I will try to get you a few pictures Guru. It's a new camera and makes everything easier...as soon as you figure it out.
   S. K. Smith - Tuesday, 08/02/11 13:58:38 EDT

Balls and forms :
Dishing (hammering downward) is much easier than raising or working over a ball. Modern steel plate can take quite a bit of stretching you just have to consider that it is going to thin as it stretches. 16 ga works fine in wood forms.

One year I went on the hunt for balls after seeing a large collection in use at the 2003 Armour In in West Virginia. Between the 2003 event and the 2004 event I collected balls and stakes ranging from 2" to 6". This was a big travel year and the buying was opportunistic. The big 6" ball was found at the Armour-In, two mushroom stakes and holder were found at the Southeast Conference, a 4" steel forging with stem was found at SOFA Quadstate and I picked up a number of other mill balls and ball bearings. Not a one is a trailer ball. However, I might have inherited on of those from Paw-Paw.

These are the kind of thing you find where you find them. . . I did not spend a lot but I did not miss an opportunity. Balls are best for plannishing, that is finishing the surface. If you are not looking for a fine finish such as on armour OR are doing heavy vessel or helm raising then sinking works best.

For smaller tools see our article on Repousse' Tools
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/02/11 14:24:00 EDT

My collection goes from 1/8" (ball bearing welded to a rod) to one that just fits nicely in a milk crate and was the headache ball off a crane.

Trailer balls are generally available but not usually the best size. However a number of them do have a stem that fits in the tool holder of my screw press and so become a handy squashing tool.

Anytime I can pick up a round top hitch ball for a dollar or less I tend to get it and throw it onto the pile which then get's lowered when I help new people out getting their first set up together. Noobliss Obilgetank and all that.
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/02/11 16:42:58 EDT

Careers Again : Virginia Tech has a Materials Engineering department and just opened an on campus foundry. Its not all math. . .

   - guru - Tuesday, 08/02/11 18:17:30 EDT

Metal Finishes : I have a question on finishes. I have made many varieties of metal flowers, from roses to daisies to tulips to tiger lilies. I usually finish these flowers by doing a once over with a brass brush to give them some highlights and then spraying on lacquer. I want to try something different though, a bouquet of colored daisies. Most people have seen these in the stores but I want to do them out of metal. My problem is that I don't want to use ordinary paint on them because that tends to hide the metal. I want the fact that they are made of metal to be visible when finished. The effect I want to go for is something close to painting with water colors, where the color is present but the base material shows through. I was thinking about trying guilders paste but have never used it before and I'm not sure of the effect it has. Also, are there any other coatings that will give this result? What about sealing these coatings? Thanks
   - Jesse F - Tuesday, 08/02/11 19:45:31 EDT

Metal finishing : Jessee:

The Guilder's Paste colors are opaque colors, though if you rub them on very thinly they become somewhat translucent. The final effect though, is likely to be "muddy" looking compared to the brilliance of water colors.

The way to get colors on metal that allow the metal to show through is to use automotive paints, namely the "candy apple" paints. They are transparent colors designed to go over a base coat of metalflake and have the flake pick up and reflect light. They'll do exactly what you ant, but they're going to be expensive and perhaps difficult to find in small quantities. I'd suggest you try a hobby shop - in my youth they sold candy apple colors in small rattle cans and bottles for painting model cars.

You'll get the nicest appearance and brilliance out of them if the metal underneath them is shiny and bright, but as long as the metal is light colored they'll show up well. If you put them over dark scale you'll get a dark color. I'd wire brush all the scale off and try to get a surface that looks about like fresh cold-finished steel. Of course, you could just do an undercoat wit silver or gold flake and have the full Ed Roth custom effect. :-)

   Rich - Tuesday, 08/02/11 21:46:24 EDT

Jesse, you can tint clear lacquer the way it is done for candy apple finishes. The trick is you want something bright underneath. Bright silver (has a little white) or metal-flake is used. Tinting with metallics adds some luster and depth. The tricky part is there are transparent pigments and opaque pigments. The difference is their chemical make up and molecule size. A good paint supplier should be able to tell you which ones.

The problem is that steel is not a bright colored metal like silver or aluminum. These would be bright under the translucent tint. So you can use Al, have the parts aluminumized or use paint. All you need is a coat thick enough to be opaque, no more. Now, in the case of a flower like a daisy you could use the silver paint on the flower only and just glaze translucent green over the rest of the brushed steel.

Look at the coloring on guitars. The wood under those beautiful translucent golds and reds is typical light spruce -- which you can still see in great detail. SO. . . a clue.

Look up Stewart MacDonald GUitar Makers Supply. They sell old fashioned nitrocellulose lacquer. You an purchase in much smaller quantities than auto lacquer which is selling for well over $100/gal. You can use aerosol can touch-up lacquer for the silver and the tinted clear laquer from Stew-Mac for color. They also sell some of the tints you need. I might also try Guilders Paste from Blacksmiths Depot. However, I do not know if its compatible with lacquer. But the line has some wonderful metallic tints.

I would offer some samples but the last time I did this kind of work was painting custom bikes and cars back in the late 60's and early 70's. . I used off the shelf lacquers and a low dollar Sears spray gun with extra canister (which I still have), and a little imagination.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/02/11 21:49:14 EDT

Automotive Paints and options : On large projects I much prefer automotive lacquers but they have gotten very expensive and some places will not sell them unless you have a business license in automotive work or an industrial environment. As Rich noted the small spray cans are the most economical and go a surprisingly long way. The problem is when you need to make your own colors. Then you want the automotive paint OR as I noted the Musical Instrument stuff which comes in smaller quantities AND is the old type lacquer.

The old fashioned lacquer was much harder and more durable than what came later but was a bit harder to handle. Being harder it took a polish much better. The later stuff flows better and gives a better initial finish but is not as hard. I'm not sure if its available everywhere as water based finishes are replacing the solvent based.

IF you can find the candy apple colors as Rich noted then they are the best for your purpose. But the range of color on these is often very limited. I don't think you are going to find daisy yellow or a silvery white. I may be wrong. Think of bicycle colors.

The tricky part of all the clear lacquers is knowing when to stop. Every coat has a chance of ending up frosted due to humidity producing frost in the rapidly evaporating paint and pressure drop, OR just surface texture issues from applying too dry.

If you use a spray gun, especially this time of year and anywhere with high humidity you will need a water trap/filter in the supply line just after the regulator. At each pressure drop point water comes out of the air and you need to get it out. If you are using the same compressor feeding air to high draw machines like air hammers you want a seperate line from the compressor AND probably more than one trap. This is particularly important with clear coat lacquers.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/03/11 08:00:45 EDT

I've made a dozen random flowers for my wife over the years. We keep them in the flower boxes in the front of the house. Never needs watering and stays in bloom throughout the year! I use an oil quench and simply let them age naturally. Yep, rust all over, but then I apply more oil and brushing to "lock" the oxides on place.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 08/03/11 13:01:35 EDT

Mosture traps or filters for air lines.
To capture the most oil for the least cost in equipment a regular filter with the water seperator is a good start, but vapor and micronic sizes droplets go right thru. So do particles of less than 5 micron in most cases. Follow the standard cheap filter with a coalescing filter. They use a different principle than the regular filters, that use centrifical seperation. The coalescing filters use a media that is made of densly packed fibers. The water droplets have to take an extremely complex path to miss contact with th hydrosorbic fibers that grab the droplets and once the droplets coalesce into a lrger droplet, gravity takes them to the bottom of the bowl to be drained.
Usually will pull 99.9% of all droplets from the air, and much of the vapor as well. Works on oil as well. These MUSt be prefiltered with a 5 micron normal filter trap to live.
   ptree - Wednesday, 08/03/11 15:21:16 EDT

traps and filters : I put some drip legs in a system once. They caught the heavier/larger scale and some moisture. The 'normal' filters lasted a bit longer. We had them at the source and at point of use.
   - keith - Wednesday, 08/03/11 15:27:40 EDT

20 lb anvils : i have two identical 20lb anvils both say chilled semi steel on one side and pat pending on the other one is numbered 1 and has a flat base the other is numbered 2 and has 4 grooves across the base each having a different radius it also has 4 different sized spud holes in the base apparently you turn it upsidedown to do some kind of metalwork i sure would like to find out who made them and how old they might be
   vern kelderman - Wednesday, 08/03/11 16:37:14 EDT

Rating Traps and Filters : Don't forget to have these devices rated at the proper capacity (CFM). Too much flow and the traps don't work AND they will restrict the air flow more than necessary.

I built several machines years ago that used suction to pickup pump supplied Ultrasonic Testing glycerin couplant. To extract the fluid from the air I used a little Parker cyclonic trap and replaced the drain valve with a line that went to a miniature pump. The pump continuously drained the trap. The pump was adjustable and had to be set so that it did not pump more fluid than was being separated. It worked pretty slick for a piece of off the cuff design that had to be designed and built in a couple weeks.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/03/11 17:11:40 EDT

filters and other air prep devices : The guru has it right. In the days of machined in ports the right choice for higher flow demands was to use the next size bigger device bushed down. Now they often provide 3 sizes of pipe port that quick attach. Comes down to if you really want the best choice, you need to know the demand in SCFM. Then you look up the Cv rating for the device.
Cv is a rating that equates to flow. In water Cv is number of gallons per minute per psi of pressure drop across the device. Equates in air flow to SCFM per PSID.
The makers often use one design in the die castings for a large number of sizes, and the Cv tells the tale, not the physical size.
   ptree - Wednesday, 08/03/11 20:08:43 EDT

Thanks : Just wanted to drop in a quick thank-you note to everyone that posts here. I've only posted one other time (you all ID'd my new anvil) but I visit here frequently to read up- I think I've learned more here than I did back in college (as many of my professors would agree). You guys cover a lot a topics and there is always something new for me to try and understand. Now if you could just include a topic on how to convince my girlfriend that a rusty old post vise for $145 is a wise purchase to cart with us on our 6hr drive home...

And PS to Mr. Blackistone: Cloudy and 70's on the Southwest harbor... a beautiful day to be visiting Acadia National Park.
   - NEK_Tinker - Wednesday, 08/03/11 20:27:23 EDT

Convincing Argument :
Currently blacksmith leg vises are way under priced thus a good deal. If they are in good condition (the screw not worn out or frame broken) they will appreciate in value. They are currently like anvils were 20 years ago. In the past decade anvils have out performed almost any investment doubling and tripling in value. Vises have not started that rise but they will.

While leg vises are still made they are nothing like the old ones in style and grace. Your old one for less than $200 is equal as a tool to a new $700 vise.

Great tool, great investment. How can anyone complain about that.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/03/11 21:08:46 EDT

Lacquer : This is just an idea....mix a coloring with clear epoxy. There is a web site, it may be epoxy.com I have e-mailed them for advice on their many different types of epoxies, they can advise you on a product number if you tell them what you want to use it for.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 08/04/11 02:06:46 EDT

Powdered Minerals : www.earthpigments.com offers natural earth, mineral pigments. Why cant these mineral pigments be mixed with a clear epoxy and brushed on metal work for a natural, colorful effect ? What got me interested in crushed minerals etc. was an idea I had of mixing them with clear epoxy or acrylic then molding them into blanks for knife handles.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 08/04/11 10:42:04 EDT

Pigments : Mike, Using pigments is an art and a science. Hand grinding your own colors used to be the most technical part of being an artist and some very thick books have been written on the subject. While many mineral pigments are fairly inert other are not and react chemically with the medium they are mixed with AND each other. It is the reason most artist's colors have both their common name and full chemical name.

Epoxy and its components are very chemically active and must be tested with any pigment added to them. Not only tested for immediate reactions but long term aging and slow reactions (rapid aging). So it would be best to consult with the epoxy manufacturer.

Even in a few professionally formulated artists oil colors there are a couple that when mixed either seperate or coagulate and produce a grainy dirty color instead of mixing to make the expected color. It has been almost 50 years since I first started using oil paints and had this happen so I know for a fact that it does. Seems like it was one of the reds and a white that would not make pink but a spotted granular mix. I cannot remember the specifics but I remember asking my Dad if the paint was bad and he explained it to me.

I suspect that with similar mineral pigments you would not have this problem between pigments but there is always the question of reaction with the medium.

While you are purchasing minerals that the manufacturer has designated as pigments, consider this. . . Salt is a natural mineral and mined in many places. But it is also a highly reactive chemical that is corrosive with metals. Sulfur is a wonderful yellow, mined as a "natural" mineral. But you do not find either used as a pigment.

Mineral pigments tend to be opaque and organic pigments more transparent. But these are generalizations not hard fast rules. Many synthetic pigments, particularly the "Phthalo" colors are distinctly unnatural and have no place in anything realistic. They are popular due to their brilliance and low cost but one must be careful where they are applied. Artists that do landscape and portrait work avoid them like the plague.

Acrylic as a medium is a wonderful stuff. I know that the pigments in acrylic artists colors are encapsulated by the acrylic making some very toxic pigments virtually non-toxic. Due to their lack of aging like oil colors, lack of strong odor and fast drying I was a big fan of acrylic artist colors. Their down side is the fast drying which forces you to work very fast OR with thin glazes over a previously painted base. Artist oil colors are applied one day, can be adjusted the next, built up some more and adjusted some more. . . Its a more forgiving process. I've worked a lot with both.

For the type of thing you are talking about I am a fan of marbling. Take two or more batches of media and mix just enough to create a patten. I have a small ceramic sculpture I did this way with a combination of red and white clay. It worked quite well but is not a recommended practice due to the different expansion and contraction rates in these clays during firing. It was one of those "Got away with it" moments.

The only "natural" finishes on iron is scale and rust. Rusted to dust. All others are artificial or paint. However, there are some great iron based pigments such as yellow ochre. Here is a link to a scientific treatise on the subject Clay and Iron Pigments in the History of Painting - a PDF file
   - guru - Thursday, 08/04/11 12:12:38 EDT

It is always wise to remember that "Natural", "Mineral" pigments *are* chemicals and often a mixture of chemicals where the manufactured ones may be a single chemical compound.

In mineralogy class we had to memorize the chemical formula for a mineral and the ranges it could have of various components in it.
   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/04/11 12:21:18 EDT

Metallurgy Degree : I started college to be a geologist, then went to geophysics, mining and finally graduated in physical metallurgy. It took 4 years for me to find a real engineering job but I found one in Texas in the oil industry. I've been out of work a total of 5 weeks in over 30 years. Right now, there is a huge demand for metallurgists in the Oil Field manufacturing industry. Right out of school you can get $60-70K. With experience, you can expect well over $100K. Don't expect to sit on your butt in college and go for the big bucks after graduation, though. Engineering is a tough degree and takes 6-8 hours per night of homework. If you want it, you gotta earn it.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 08/04/11 13:24:56 EDT

Tip of the Day :
I don't know how many of you have noticed our new tip of the day feature on the home page. Its only a few days old. There are well over 100 tips most of which are things our regulars know. We have a general list and two sub lists. One for the Health and Safety page and one for the Tailgate page. Each of these have a few that are not in the general list.

Each page will run one tip a day until the list runs out than repeat. The math to do this automatically with different and varying list lengths was a bit of a trick. As I have been setting them up and adding to the lists the numbers have changed and so there have been some change during the day and some back and forth possibly creating some duplication at first.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/04/11 14:59:31 EDT

Metallurgy Engineer : What school did you go to? I'm looking into going for metallurgy for college, but I don't know what schools offer a course in it
   Hayden - Thursday, 08/04/11 15:23:34 EDT

Hayden; I'm sitting a couple hundred yards from the Materials Science department at NM Tech a well respected university in engineering.

If you get a chance to tour colleges or want to talk to some professors I can introduce you to them! Note that this is a small school but a tough one. Many students go on to get a Math degree as it's often just another semester after doing all the math for engineering! Small also means that you will be taught by Professors and often be helping them with their research---while still an undergraduate!

If you visit look me up and I'll take you for a tour of my smithy as well as the U...
   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/04/11 16:13:33 EDT

Schools : As I noted the other day Virginia Tech has a Metals Department and I suspect that the University of Virgina does as well. They have a fine Engineering library seperate from the main library that is much easier to use. Years ago the University had a research Nuclear Reactor . . currently being decommisioned. The Lynchburg/Charlottesville area of Virgina is thick with colleges and Universities. All within a 1 Hour drive of Lynchburg:

University of Virginia
Lynchburg College
Randolf Macon College (Was a Woman's College, Then CoEd University, now College)
Sweet Briar (Ahmerst VA)
Longwood University, Farmville
Hampden-Sydney College, Farmville
Liberty University (AKA Jerry Falwell U)
Central Virginia Community College (Lynchburg)
Piedmont Virginia Community College (Charlottesville)
Phillips Business College
National College, (business and Trade) Cville
Averett College, Danville, VA (business and trade)

Lynchburg used to be the home of Babcock and Wilcox who built nuclear reactors and still makes Nuclear Fuel and reactors for the US. Navy (different divisions the main one sold off to the French).

Virginia Tech is 2 hours Southwest. Just down the road is Radford and Ferrum. There are two community colleges in the same area.

Most of the Eastern states are thick with schools like this.

I found a good list on www.colleges.(state name).cc. Yes, searching through them all is a chore. But there are a lot of places you can get an engineering degree.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/04/11 18:23:38 EDT

One of my friends graduated as a metallurgist from Ohio State University. He's currently working for an open die forging company where his blacksmithing as a hobby was appreciated!

OSU is a very large school about 5 times the population of Socorro as students and is located in Columbus OH.

Can you give us more details on your preferences?

Note that metallurgy is often subsumed into the materials science department these days so check for Mat Sci and then see if they offer a metallurgy track.
   Thomas P - Thursday, 08/04/11 19:26:46 EDT

Metallurgy School : Hayden, I graduated from the Colorado School of Mines but there are a lot of colleges that offer degrees in Materials Science / Metallurgy.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 08/04/11 20:36:19 EDT

Colorado School of Mines : I forgot to mention CSM is a SMALL college too: 2500 students including Grad School. When I attended there were 1600 men and 7 women. 3 of the women were there on football scholarships.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 08/04/11 20:38:11 EDT

Flower Finishes : I was experimenting on colored finishes for my flowers and came across something that gives a neat effect, clear lacquer over colored pencil. I rubbed over forged metal scraps with colored pencil, then gave it a coat of lacquer. Interesting effect that I've never seen before, thinking about trying charcoals or the like.
   - Jesse F - Thursday, 08/04/11 21:25:30 EDT

Mike T - Epoxy : Epoxy does not stand up to UV worh a hoot. Even the UV resistant epoxy resins need to be protected with a good UV resistant varnish to hold up in the sun. While there are epoxy paints, they are quite a bit different than epoxy resin. Resin stays runny 'till just before it cures, and will run like crazy if You use it for paint. Been there, done that. After the pigmented epoxy weathered away, I used an epoxy paint, went on much better, but did not take the UV well, chalked badly as it weathered away. These paints are tough, but should have a finish coat of LPU, Imron, Amerflint, Awlgrip, etc. or at least an acrilic or alkyd enamel.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 08/04/11 21:39:09 EDT

Epoxy : Mr. Boyer, Guru, Thomas, thank you for your input. There is no better knowledge than actual hands on experience.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 08/04/11 23:40:32 EDT

Colored Pencils : Jesse, Colored pencils have a wax base. They are like hard crayons (perhaps why pencil translates to crayon in several other languages).

Anyway, the wax under the lacquer could be a problem. However, lacquer dissolves many things thus they become part of the paint. The one thing lacquer has a significant problem with is silicon waxes and lubricants. Any hint of them and it makes a real mess.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/04/11 23:53:41 EDT

Colored Pencils : That's why we test things on scrap metal ha ha. I was worried that the wax in the pencil would keep the lacquer from flowing out evenly but it actually gave a nice looking coat. I don't think I would have to worry about it for an interior finish. Anyway, using the colored pencils was really more of a proof of concept because that's what I had around when I got the idea. As I said, I'd like to try charcoals or something similar. I'll have to wait till the next time I get to the art store though.
   - Jesse F - Friday, 08/05/11 11:52:10 EDT

anvil holes : where did the word HARDY Hole and Pritchel hole come from, do you have any history as to why these holes have these names
   Jim LaQuay - Friday, 08/05/11 21:17:34 EDT

Jim, There is nothing except speculation on the hardy hole. Someone called it that hundreds of years ago and it has stuck. The pritchel hole is named for the farrier's punch called a pritchel punch. Its more recent and there may be a source for it but I've not heard of it.
   - guru - Friday, 08/05/11 22:37:59 EDT

pritchel : My thick old dictionary says that "pritchel" is related to the word "prickle," as a sharp pointed instrument. "Hardie or hardy" seems to be spelled both ways. I've seen lots of conjecture on that name, and nobody seems to really know about its derivation.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 08/06/11 00:29:01 EDT

Pritchel Holes and Anvil Styles :
The small pritchel hole for farriers is a standard on English and American pattern anvils but most traditional European anvils either lack a round hole or have a large round punching hole about the same size or just a bit smaller than the hardie hole. Some recent patterns such as the Hofi and early Euro anvils had a graduated series of round punching holes. The best I can determine is that they simply call the holes square and round (in what ever language) although some use the English terms.

The entire English/American pattern derived from the London pattern anvil takes most of its features from the needs of farriers. The shape of the horn, the thin heel, location of both hardie and pritchel holes. This is a result of having developed at a time when horse drawn transportation was the primary means of moving both people and goods in greatly expanding populations in the Western hemisphere and European colonies world wide. The short horned heavier waisted European anvils and those without a waist at all remained better anvils from a forging standpoint as the mass was more compact.

Most of these differences are a matter of local style and personal preference (you usually prefer what you learn on) as they all work as anvils.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/06/11 07:40:45 EDT

I've often wondered if perhaps the term hardie comes from the word "hard" or "hard edge", or the diminutive of something small and hard (as early hardie holes were very small, often only 1/2" (13mm) square
   - guru - Saturday, 08/06/11 08:04:46 EDT

Assistance Needed : Hey kids, I need some help here!

I have a probable commission coming up where I'm going to need some custom glass enclosures made for exterior lighting. At present it looks like I'll need twenty or thirty glass cylinders about 4" diameter by 16" tall, with one closed end. They'll probably be clear glass, or cloudy/streaky - I don't think we're looking at colors at this point, anyway.

My problem is that I don't have a glass blower in my area and I'm out of touch with the people in the States I used to know who might have been able to do this. Anybody got a good glass person they can turn me onto?

Thanks for the assistance!

   Rich - Saturday, 08/06/11 11:05:16 EDT

Hardy : In one Russian source, (translated to English in Israel in 1967 during the Cold War) the hardy is refered to as a "Huck-under chisel." or "...bottom chisel..." Further research is in order, but "hardy" meaning tough and durable, seems an on-target description of an chisel bearing up to blows from above as it sits below. A "hardy chisel" could easily loose the "chisel" part over the years.

Reality may vary.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 08/06/11 18:22:41 EDT

Rich : When you gave the dimensions of the glass globes, it instantly reminded me of the glass globes on railroad dispatcher boxes. If you know a signalman who works for a railroad, ask him if he can locate some, maybe work out a little deal with him. Riverboats might use something similar as well. Come to think of it, what about the globes etc. that line an airport runway.
   Mike T. - Saturday, 08/06/11 19:40:21 EDT

Guru-Thanks! : Wanted to say that your comment about old leg vises being as good as any new one (coinciding with a 500 point drop in the Dow) means that I am now the proud owner of a Columbian 5 1/2" leg vise ... with the girlfriend's blessing no less!

I am thinking the first thing I want to do is break it down, give it a good dose of WD40 or similar and put either some rubber or leather washers on the handle to prevent pinched fingers. Threads looked good so I think it's fine there, just needing some good lubrication.

Next is the spring. The spring is there but doesn't seem to provide any tension. My first thought is that it's just slipped down too far, that will be my first thing to look at. I've read the FAQ on vises but didn't see anything about spring life, so maybe it's just been used past it's best by date... However it turns out I'm still happy to have it, no matter what.
   - NEK_Tinker - Saturday, 08/06/11 20:21:59 EDT

Borders-Book Sale : I also wanted to mention to everyone that since Borders Books is closing they are having some good sales on all books (including Reference).
I picked up a Machinery's Handbook 28th Edition for 25% off. Not setting any savings records but not bad if you have the need or want for some more books.
   - NEK_Tinker - Saturday, 08/06/11 20:27:35 EDT

Vise Spring, It may just need to be rearced a little (use a press or a vise - the same one is appropriate). Some original late types are pretty ugly. The classic English springs have a beautiful S curve and fishtail where they push. Note that if the hinge joint is stiff most do not work. Your plan to oil and work it may fix.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/06/11 20:44:16 EDT

Spring Steel : I assume the steel limbs on some crossbows is spring steel. Could leaf springs off of old cars be used to make a crossbow, cutting to proper shape, heat treating etc. ? What method would you use ?
   Mike T. - Sunday, 08/07/11 02:39:03 EDT

Springs for Crossbows : Mike, yes and no. The spring steel is fine. Note however that old leaf springs (with lots of mileage) often have micro cracks and may fail on you. The thickness of the steel will need to be reworked due to the amount of motion needed for a bow spring. Most auto springs will be too thick for this purpose.
Bow design by Jock Dempsey
Spring design starts with a bunch of calculations then prototyping. The calculations are not difficult but I would start with a spring design manual. I would also do some research on plans for cross bows, look at commercial cross bows and possibly do some reverse engineering (measure their parts), and see if I could find a crossbow builders forum (google had a bunch).

As a blacksmith you may have a lot of advantage over the average cross bow builder. However, I would probably shape (tiller in bow parlance) the spring cold by grinding and filing.

Note that mild steel has the same modulus of elasticity as spring steel (29.9 million PSI) and a mild steel will perform the same as a spring steel up to the yield point (where the steel bends).

Many general engineering manuals have spring calculations and there are spring specific manuals as well. Machinery's Handbook and Marks' both have spring calculations. Most have life cycles in millions of deflections which can be ignored in some cases but are good to know.

When I was a young teen (13-16) we built wood, fiber glass and aluminium recurve bows as well as fletching our own arrows. All the bows worked but none were as good as commercial wood fiberglass laminate bows. While my functional design was weak it was top notch artistically. I could hit anything I could see up to about 100 yards and 3" bull's eyes up to 50. I was ready to go to competitions until I broke my elbow in a school gym class. I was out of shooting long enough that I never went back. . .

I prototyped bow stocks in cheap pine lumber before making them in hardwood. A piece of pine can be carved in minutes and save a lot of effort and expense later.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/07/11 09:37:30 EDT

The Great Ballista Misadventure : A medieval ballista being just an oversize crossbow, I figured that the following story would be relevant:
So, somewhere back in the early 70s, my friend, Butch, and I decided that we would create a truck spring ballista. much like you outlined in the first posting. It was big, it was crude, it had wheels and a primitive release, it took two of us to draw it! Given that, we decided to take it to the farm, about 60 miles south of DC, so that we could safely discharge it. God(s) knew what it would do, given the draw on that sucker, and the 'burbs were no place to find out!

Several hours later we had it set up, with lots of clear field for several hundred yards. We cocked it, loaded in a light but sound broomstick bolt, and pulled the release...

That bolt must have flown all of 20 yards. It flew slowly, almost lazily.

We tried tennis balls with sabots, smaller bolts, all sorts of stuff, both heavier and lighter, more and less aerodynamic. Same result! Really a crushing disappointment. All of this; despite the fact that it had a heck of a draw.

Okay, based on subsequent research, here is the problem:

Notice how on normal bows the limbs taper towards the ends? That's so that they can continue to accelerate as they snap back from the tension you put on them when you pull the bow string. Various designs effect this, recurves and such. However the truck spring has exactly the wrong configuration! It has the same size and mass out the entire length, plus those big, lumpy, heavy eyes at the ends of the limbs. It is heaviest where it should be lightest, and when the string (or, in our case, aircraft cable) is released, it recoils slowly, speeds up a bit, and then slows down some more.

This is, of course, a gross simplification, and others can probably add to the explanation; but I would seriously consider somehow tapering the limbs starting where the backing spring behind the main spring ends, out towards the ends. What you want is a nice distal taper, like you would forge into a niuce knife blade.

Ironically, I have a nice set of truck springs, a forge and a woodshop; but I also have too many projects and a curious lack of desire to create another ballista. Also, for light crossbows, I had made one back in High School in the ‘60s, using an old flat coiled hood spring as the bow and backing spring. It was only about 30 pounds draw, but that was fine for Marklandic combat archery where we were actually shooting blunted bolts at each other. You may be able to find some at junk yards with an extensive inventory of OLD cars (if there are any left that haven’t been crushed up and shipped to the Orient or southern hemisphere).

Visit you National Parks (I was working with Weir Farm the other day; very "artistic."): www.nps.gov/wefa/

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 08/07/11 13:21:49 EDT

Bow Springs : Yes, Draw weight is not everything, it is also the total deflection distance. The bolt or arrow will not accelerate instantly.

Column loading on a bolt is a critical factor and is why cross bow bolts are steel. Even in a hand drawn bow the sudden application of force on the arrow can cause it to split and disintegrate into many long splintery pieces. I've had this happen a number of times with cheap arrows and was very lucky a piece was not driven into my hand or arm. It is something to think about when making your own arrows and bolts. My last set of arrows were lightweight aluminum tube. Very flat trajectory compared to wood or fiberglass.

I've had blunt flat point arrows shot from a 60 lb pull bow go through a hay bale and 1/2" plywood back stop and keep going. . I would be REAL REAL careful shooting arrows of any kind at one and other.
   - guru - Sunday, 08/07/11 13:59:37 EDT

Combat Archery : Combat Archery

Rules and specifications can be found at:


SECTION XIV. WEAPONRY (Items 12 and 13)

As Jock points out, extreme care must be taken. You could put your eye out! (Remember King Harold Godwinson? That didn't work out so well!)

Similar rules (partly inspired by Markland's) have been written for Scadian events.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 08/07/11 15:44:47 EDT

Hey Vern Watch This : You do things in life that you get away with and wonder how you survived childhood. . . The dumbest one I can think of was shooting an arrow straight up into the air. . . DO NOT DO THIS AT HOME! The arrow comes back down at nearly the same velocity as it left the bow. . . and within a few feet of where you shot it from depending on how straight up you shot and the wind (which might cancel your error in direction). Which means exactly where you shot it from. . .

You realize how dumb this was about the time you look to see the arrow turn around or come back in view. . . if you see it all. RUN!!!
   - guru - Sunday, 08/07/11 17:29:39 EDT

Tig welding on anvils : I am resurfacing a 125 lb Peter Wright that needed 3/4 of an inch of build up to bring it back to flat. I have been dutifully preheating it to 400 deg before doing any of the arc or mig welding. I am now at the point of filling the last of the small holes and marks and I am going to TIG weld them. Do I need to pre heat?
   Tim Mann - Sunday, 08/07/11 19:28:54 EDT

Tim Mann : If You have been pre heating all this time, why would You stop now?

Of course one must ask if You should have welded it at all, but that is already done.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 08/07/11 21:01:28 EDT

Archery : Dangerous stuff, gravity! After shooting arrows straight up I bet someone thinks of launching anvils in the same direction.
   Hugh McDonald - Sunday, 08/07/11 21:16:37 EDT

Tim, It depends on what rod or wire you used. Common rod is soft material and touch ups do not need preheat. But anvil faces are hardened medium to high carbon steel. That is one reason for the preheat.

If the fill is soft material then the anvil was a better tool with the dip.

Anvil faces are NOT a precision reference surface. They vary from crowned the narrow direction or both directions to swayed in the middle to having worn places (small dips). As long as they are fairly smooth without sharp edges from chipping they good to use. Radiusing the edges is better for forging and will avoid most chipping.

While 3/4" sway is a lot, a high degree of sway is not unusual in old Peter Wrights. They advertised using the best virgin wrought iron for the body rather than scrap iron as other anvil manufactures used. It turns out the scrap, which probably contained some steel and did not have unidirectional grain was a better material as long as it was properly welded. . who would have thought scrap was better than new?
   - guru - Sunday, 08/07/11 22:30:36 EDT

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