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 September 1 - 7, 2010 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Since then I have had time to think about my reply Mike, and I am glad now that it was not posted.
While your desire to explore new and creative ways to solve problems and get things done is great, I feel I can not advise what you are proposing (turning metal on a wood turning lathe that is unknown to me).
To help you with this in person would be one thing but, to advise you on this over the internet AND through someone elses web site just should not be done.
Too many places to for something to go wrong and you to get hurt or ruin a piece of equipment that wasn't designed to do this kind of work in the first place.
I guess I don't have to retract my earlier post as it never made it to the page but, I still won't be any help to you on this one.
   - merl - Wednesday, 09/01/10 00:20:20 EDT


Don't worry about it, I have made posts that I should never had made myself, one or two come to my mind right now. :)
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 09/01/10 02:23:39 EDT

Aahhhh, thanks for the explanation. Don't think I saw that in the book. That helps me to understand more how the metal behaves under the hammer at different times. I thought it was the way I was holding the workpiece in relation to the anvil.

The first time I did every operation on my own (starting the fire, turnign round stock into square, drawing, bending, killing the fire), it took me 3 tries to start a coke fire, but I got it. Very different than starting up my bbq grill, thats fore sure. :) Turning round stock to square, I had better results this time around than I did the first time, partly because I was using a different anvil, and partly because I knew what to look for. Drawing to a point, that's where I struggled until I reread the book and kind of figured it out.

Now, the smithy that I am going to will close for the season, and thus I will not be able to get practice there during the winter. But, during winter is a good time for me to acquire my own shop. I have a section of railroad track, but that I know will be a light duty anvil, not a good multipurpose anvil like a 110# one.

   PondRacer - Wednesday, 09/01/10 06:41:42 EDT

Another thing, I know there is a blacksmithing school out in Ephraim UT. 80 miles from where I live. However, currently, there is no way for me to get out there to attend the school. That will change, but not sure if it will be before they host the classes (in November). Hence why I am basically learning as I go.

I am starting with rebar, it seems to be an ok stock to start learning blacksmithing on. I did notice myself straightening the work more often at the end of each heat, near the end of the last session, than I did near the beginning.

I'm not quite discouraged at this time, just wondering how I could improve (and be more efficient). Guess as my experience grows, that experience will tell me how to become more efficient at doing the work.

Current project is not finished, I intend for it to become a wall hook. :)

   PondRacer - Wednesday, 09/01/10 07:08:35 EDT

Pondracer, The key is experience and practice. It takes a hundred or so hooks to get pretty good at making a hook.

Most rebar is a little large and tough for newby practice material. Obtain some 3/8" or even 1/4" round and square stock. This is a good size to practice drawing tapers as you should be able to do so in one heat and is easy to make nice little J and S hooks from. The ease of working lets you concentrate on hammer control making long fine tapers and bending graceful curves.

Working small stock lets you build up your muscles while improving control. Working too large a stock may help build up muscle but you do so at the expense of control and can actually get worse. You can also work the small stock on a smaller anvil and with a smaller forge.

80 miles. . . A two day walk if you are serious. . ;)
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/01/10 08:11:40 EDT


What do you do with the hooks you make ?
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 09/01/10 10:13:44 EDT

I think a coat tree ( I hope that is what its called ) would look good. The base, stand, round wooden hoop with the coat hooks attached to it. I think it would look good, need this forums advice on making the coat hooks. Actually, it's been a while since I've seen one, I would need agood picture.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 09/01/10 10:18:50 EDT

Might sell 'em and put money towards my own shop.
   Pondracer - Wednesday, 09/01/10 10:37:36 EDT

If you have any kind of crafty outlet good hooks sell pretty well in every size. Greenhouses use and sell long S-hooks If you have a shop in a barn or shed then drive hooks are handy for you to hang tools with. We have humming bird feeders hanging from the gutters on short chains of S-hooks.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/01/10 10:45:47 EDT

I have done business with Admiral Steel and they have excellent service, but have never done business with All Metals and Forge Group WWW.STEELFORGE.COM have any of you done business with them ? If so, what did you think of them ?
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 09/01/10 11:30:20 EDT

can I use gravel like / powdery coal to forge with. A woman want to sell me this coal for 25.oo per 55 gal drum of this. Is it worth it?
   kevin - Wednesday, 09/01/10 11:33:04 EDT

Was thinking of making keychain holders but that is for another time, when I have more skills to learn forge welding. Other ideas come to mind but at this time I will soon need to make my own tools for my shop.

The rebar I am using is I think of 3/8" stock so it kinda helps but is a little thick for working with right now. Using a 3lb cross peen sure is a good workout lol.
   Pondracer - Wednesday, 09/01/10 12:03:48 EDT

Hey Pondracer, here's a tip that will help.

First, use smaller stock. You can have lots of 1/4" round stock after election season is over. Usually the political losers leave their signs stuck in the ground all over (especially at intersections). Pulling old election signs is actually a good thing to do, otherwise it becomes a source of pollution and waste.

Now that you have smaller stock, put away that 3 pound monster hammer and use it for bigger stuff. Go with a 16 oz or so ball pein or straight peen (luck out if you find a double cross pein 1-2 pounder). A bigger hammer can lead to muscle fatigue and tendonitis. Smaller stock doesn't need heavy hammers unless you want to just smoosh the metal around. With practice and better hammer control you can use them as needed. But for now I would recommend lighter hammers, smaller stock and more practice making nails and hooks. This is an excellent way to get the basics down pat. Then you can proceed to the more advanced projects with bigger hammers, thicker stock and more tooling.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 09/01/10 12:50:44 EDT

Pea Coal and Fines: Kevin, The trick to using fines is to wet the bed of coal and pack it tight. Heat from the core of the fire will melt the coal together and produce larger lumps of coke (IF the coal cokes).

With ANY unknown coal you should bring home a 5 gallon bucket and test it. Otherwise you can end up with a big pile you cannot get rid of. .

The price is about $90/ton which is very good. If its good coal I would bring it all home.

   - guru - Wednesday, 09/01/10 13:25:15 EDT

With 1/4" stock you can get away with a "one firebrick forge" made from a soft firebrick and a cheap plumber's propane torch. It's possible to have your complete set up fit in a 5 gallon *steel* bucket and take it outside and set it up as needed.

(I used such a set up to make nails and forge silver in my basement during a long cold OH winter--of course my basement was very drafty as it was in a 100 year old house and was natural stone walls and very old windows...)

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/01/10 16:06:40 EDT

Pondracer, take Nippulini's advise and put away that big hammer for bigger stock. No matter how strong you are unless you swing a hammer all day at work, such as a carpenter used to do, you will blow your arm out with that 3 pounder.
1.5-2lbs is plenty to start with.
When I first started I had a lot of trouble with holding the work too high and bending it while drawing out.
I found two things that greatly helped me.
First, don't force yourself to make everything with tongs.
Start with a piece of stock long enough so that you can hold it with a bare or gloved hand. This will allow you to "feel" when you're holding too high or too low on the anvil. You'll get shocks and a lot of bouncing when you strike the work and it is not sitting flat on the surface of the anvil. You can more easily train your eye and hand coordination if you remove some of the variables when first learning hammer control.
After you get a visual sense of whether the stock is sitting on the anvil just right then you can add another variable by holding with a pair of tongs.
The second big revelation to me was moving the work under the hammer and not the hammer over the work.
Some may scoff and argue on this but the first time I used a power hammer this became the most obvious way to do things.
The easiest thing for me to do is strike in the same place every time. So were ever I need to be on the anvil, I set the work there and strike only there, moving the work under the hammer as needed.
I know this sounds SO obvious but, a lot of guys just starting out and, those that are self taught seem to suffer with this aspect of developing their hammer control so, I think it is important to mention now and then.
   - merl - Wednesday, 09/01/10 16:15:29 EDT

Mike T, always remember, the only dumb question is the one NOT asked.
You brought to mind, for me, a situation a few years ago when someone posted on another forum about how he had to be rushed to the hospital for stitches because of something he did even though he new he it was dangerous.
It was incredibly stupid and I really laid in to him about it and made something of a public spectacle of him on the safety forum in the hopes it would make the predominately amiture machinists on the site wake up and see the danger of that type of work.
Well, what ended up happening was the safety forum turned into a "let me tell you how stupid I was today..." forum with each post trying to out do the other.

The experienced machinist and military leader in me tried to rein things back in but, you know how quickly stuff can get out of control on the Internet so, I ended up leaving that web site and, not going back. I was hoping they would realize I was gone and so, have no one to brag to, hopefully stop their foolishness.
Discretion IS much the better part of valor and we all need to be mindful of what we say both in real life as well as virtual reality...
   - merl - Wednesday, 09/01/10 16:41:17 EDT

I heat treated a test piece of A2. It went from 10 rockwell c to 58 rockwell c. I turned on the oven to 1750 F as the carpenter book said and threw the piece in and when the oven reached 1750 i let it sit for 25 minutes. When the time was up i took it out and put it under a fan and peeled the stainless foil off. I have decided to temper it back to 700 F for one hour according to dave boyer and the carpenter book. My question is do i let the oven heat to 700 then throw the part in or do i turn on to 700 and throw the part in when it's cold. Also do I have to wrap the part again. Do i have to let it cool inside the oven or do i take the part out and let it cool naturally or do i put it under a fan again.
   paul in iowa - Wednesday, 09/01/10 16:48:15 EDT

The best time to temper is after hardening before the part reaches room temperature. Cooling to room temperature is more likely to result in cracking AND by tempering while still warm you do not forget to temper. 700°F will not cause scaling but it WILL cause slight discoloration. So generally you do not wrap to temper. You can temper in a hot oven or bring the piece up with the oven.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/01/10 16:57:00 EDT

I have a commission to build some large forged lantern brackets for a house on the Florida coast, right on the water.

The lanterns that will be mounted to the brackets are built from copper on a steel frame.

Since the home is right on the water I felt that a steel bracket with a hot dip galvanized finish, topped with powder coat would still not last in the beachfront conditions.

I am now thinking on the lines of forging stainless, but I have had some problems with splitting on the long tapers. Also, I do not know how I would passify the material when I was done. I would then paint the stainless to match the patina on the lanterns.

The other option would be bronze, but I need one curved hollow section for wiring and I do not know about the availability of bronze round tubing and how it would work with heat.

As far as the lantern goes, I would recommend that the designer hot dip galvanize and powder coat the steel framework and if it does eventually rust, at least it won't ruin the siding on the house (stone).

Any ideas or insight would be most appreciated. I am leaning towards stainless, but open to suggestions.

   John Phillips - Wednesday, 09/01/10 18:07:25 EDT

we have a m&h mousehole forge anvil.It weighs 124 lbs. we are trying to get its value if you can help. thank you....all letters are legitable..
   Alesia - Wednesday, 09/01/10 19:37:23 EDT

Alesia, EVERYTHING is condition in an anvil of this sort. It is one of the most common sizes. In rough condition but not abused it will go for $150 or so. In mint condition (very unusual) maybe $400. It also makes a difference where you are. In anvil rich areas of the U.S., in good condition it may go for as little as $100. In anvil poor areas the same anvil may sell for $300.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/01/10 20:10:14 EDT

John Phillips, you did not say what alloy Stainless you are forging, but the 316L that I have experience with must be HOT to forge. Once high red is reached, it needs another heat. I try to start at lemon yellow, and take another heat when I start to see orange fading to bright red.
Passivation is not all that hard. There are many schemes on the net, just google passivation of stainless steel. Most involve heat, acid and then nuetralize. I have passivated in white vinegar, and also citric acid.
I like to heat to about 1650-1900F and quench in CLEAN water. Then I leave in the vinegar to both pickle the scale off and passify. Use onlt Stainless steel wire brushes and mark them and only use them on SS. A steel wire brush will impregnate steel into the surface and it will rust quick. Same for abrasives, don't use the same wheel or belt for both SS and carbon steel.
SS usually takes about 50% more energy to move the same amount, so plain more heats, more cost in time in the forging, and also plain for the cost to clean it up.
   ptree - Wednesday, 09/01/10 20:15:22 EDT

Lamp and Bracket: John, Your first plan is probably the best. If the hot dip galvanize is not broken by drilling, cutting or filing it will hold up very well. You would want to be sure the wiring tube was large and clean so that it gets galvanized inside.

Splitting in stainless tapers is usually working too cold. Stainless needs to be worked hotter than mild steel.

The problem is going to be the lantern. Copper on a steel frame in salt air is bi-metallic corrosion heaven. Between the two metals you can get a significant voltage and resulting corrosion. See Galvanic Series:

The iron frame would evaporate in a few years. Zinc would protect it but would be a worse bi-metalic corrosion problem and could result in holes in the copper as well as staining. Read up on all the problems the Statue of Liberty has had.

The copper lantern should be all copper (including frame) or copper over brass or stainless. Consider your joining ring or chain as well. Electrical parts should be made easy to replace due the corrosion of those parts and their attaching means.

I would go with stainless for as much of the project as possible and have it sandblasted to remove scale and provide good tooth for paint. Avoid powder coating as it is difficult to repair and maintain.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/01/10 20:27:33 EDT

John, see ptree's note about needing more labor. Expect labor for SS to be two or three times steel. Besides forging being more difficult so is sawing, drilling, cost of welding materials. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/01/10 20:30:49 EDT

I've done *very* little of it, but silicon bronze is a nice material to work. Atlas Metals stocks round tubing in what looks like a fair assortment of sizes. But it wouldn't match the patina on the copper, and using bronze seems like a real waste if you're going to paint.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 09/01/10 20:56:53 EDT

My experience, having taught hundreds of students, is not to coddle them with light hammers and gloves. Most beginners can handle a 2½ or 3 pound hammer. If a student has a slight build and is struggling, as with some women, I sometimes offer a 2 pound hammer. Most beginners develop the atrocious habits of not getting the steel hot enough and using wishy washy, dinky blows. It is so easy for them to take a red heat instead of the optimal bright lemon for M.S. Then, because it is red, to just keep beating on it just because it is red, not because you're making anything. You QUIT at a low cherry red and take another lemon heat. There are some reasons for beginners not wanting to take a lemon heat. One reason is that they are "gun shy." They're afraid of burning the iron. Another reason is that they can't see the steel as well because of the thickness of the scale and the bright incandescence. Tough toenails; get over it.

I realize that a neophyte has an aiming problem, and that is usually why they don't pick up the hammer very high. In terms of rhythm, they use many rapid, light blows. Those kind of blows can be used for finishing the work at a blood red into a gray heat. However, if you're going to move metal at a bright heat, you slow that rhythm and lift the hammer higher. If your aim is a little off, GET OVER IT! Keep trying. Even though the rhythm is slowed, each blow is more telling.

As you unlearn your bad habits, if developed, you must then learn where the metal is going to go when you hit it.

   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 09/01/10 21:02:38 EDT

Have recently come into possession of an old hand crank blacksmith forge that is marked 'American S______ Co. Inc., Bainbridge, NY, USA'. Any help you could give me with information on this piece would be appreciated. Thank you,
Jeff R.
   Jeff R. - Wednesday, 09/01/10 21:14:47 EDT

The only forge company I can find that starts with an S is the Silver Mfg Co. Salem, Ohio. Mayber they started in New York. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/01/10 22:21:33 EDT

Yeah, I start at yellow heat (or I _try_ to, I have not yet calibrated my eyes to the right heat level, I sometimes get it at just below yellow heat). Occasionally the piece comes out sparkly white, and I know thats too hot for simple forge working... but just right for forge _welding_. I have gotten lucky I think, not to burn the steel except for once when I put the end in the oxidizing part of the fire. The book I have helped me be able to place the workpiece more consistently in the neutral flame area so I do not burn the steel too much.

I also need to learn to keep the hammer striking the same spot and move the work not the hammer. Now that I have seen videos of power hammers in operation, I should in a sense emulate how a power hammer does... maybe a good place for me to start. Now the only time I would need to move the hammer is when I need to use different types of strikes (like near the edge, on the horn, etc).

Gloves... I use only one, on the hammer hand, for better grip. The hammers I am using are not mine, they belong to the smithy. There is a ball-peen hammer there but it is too light, like 1 lb or some such. 3LB I can handle, just take my time. But I am planning to buy my own hammer, at 2.5 lbs, wood handle. No fiberglass handles, thankyou. :) Because the 2.5 lb hammer I can see as not as tiring to use as the larger hammer. I did try a 4lb hammer, but couldnt use it more than 10 minutes LOL.

I'll keep an eye out for those election signs with steel posts in them... and liberate those posts. I hate those signs with a passion, anything that I can do to make them not stand on their own anymore, all the better :)


   PondRacer - Wednesday, 09/01/10 22:36:29 EDT

Man, I'm here in the boat with you.
For learning hammer-control at home, I'm given a pile of old metal tube table-legs to beat flat. (cold metal)

I'm told to get the hang of hitting my target, then move to my 3-lb hammer and count the # of strikes it takes to flatten it. NOW improve by using less strikes to do the job of beating the tube flat. Accurate strikes with more force, (but not trying to crack the anvil.)
I love my ratty little Mousehole anvil for just this!
I'm about to start working on a 2nd pile of table-legs....

Mr. Turley, Thank you for your post.

member; UNLB (united newbies learning blacksmithing)
   danial - Thursday, 09/02/10 01:10:25 EDT

Wow, I can't believe it!!!
Between my last babbling post and now, I have aquired another anvil.
159-lb PeterWright, very good condition & very fair priced.
I was informed I had the anvil before I even had coffee this morning.
This came from the next-door-neighbor that I asked many months ago about an anvil and just now came through with it.
(left on the porch last night with a note attached, wife found it this morning.)
WARNING! If searching for an anvil and you have multiple people looking for you.....let them all know when you are NOT looking for an anvil anymore.
You may have more anvils coming to you than you can afford.
This is number-6 in the danial newbie collection now.
   danial - Thursday, 09/02/10 11:38:27 EDT

Yes, Pondracer, you have just the right idea.
If you have two arms and two hands, why not utilise them to the fullest? Why should the hand you use to hold the stock just lay there.
I find it so much easier to pick the spot on the anvil were I'll be doing my work (near edge, far edge, horn, ...ect) and keep my eyes focused right there, move the work into the "strike zone" and deliver the blows all in that same spot while repositioning and turning the work as needed with the holding hand.
Of corse you can't force yourself to just stay tightly focused on that one spot all the time because the work becomes more and more fluid as you become more adept at what you're doing and you have to follow it. But when you're starting out it really helps to limit the number of variables your brain has to deal with in the split second you have between hammer blows.
The other advantage to this is that you actually have a slightly longer amount of time to observe and consider the results of each blow on the work before you bring the hammer down for the next one.
If you have to strike and then reposition your eyes and then mentally re-align where the hammer will fall before it starts it's down hill run, you won't have any time to ponder the effect of the last blow and decide from that, how to proceed.
You will see and hear a lot of smiths making a lite "dribble" tap on the anvil as they work, you might do it yourself and not know just why.
I have had people ask me "why do blacksmiths do that?"
I do it to give my self a chance to stop and think without breaking the rhythm of hammer blows and to give my arm a quick rest. I usually make three real hits and a dribble tap over and over until it's time to go back in the fire. Sometimes it is a signal to others that I'm done swinging and I'm going back in the fire, sometimes it's just me talking to myself.

Gloves... DO NOT wear a glove on you hammer hand.
If you're having trouble hanging on to your hammers then the handle is likely not fitted correctly to your hand and, a glove only makes it worse.
Maybe the Guru can put in a link to the "Hammer Handle Holiday" page or you can search around until you find it (I can never remember where it is) and you can read a little on fitting your handles to your hand to reduce fatigue and increase safety.
The basic point is your two middle fingers should just come around and be able to comfortably touch the base of your thumb to form a good solid grip when the handle is properly fitted to you.
Yeah, a fiberglass handle with the molded rubber grip is just tendonitis and carpal tunnel waiting to happen.
The ONLY time I ever wear a glove on my hammer hand is when all else has failed and my hand is wet from sweat.
The quickest way to get a blister is a smooth wood handle and wet hands.
I'll usually rub some coal dust on my hands or dry gravel dust to keep them dry as I'm working but sometimes you forget and dip them into the slack tub while quenching a part. Then you gotta' wear a glove until they're dry but, not otherwise.
My main hammer is a 2.5 pound straight pien but I trade up to a 3-4 lb heavy mover and down to a 1.5 lb custom ground texturing hammer as needed.
Remember, it doesn't all come at once, no matter how much we want it too.
   - merl - Thursday, 09/02/10 11:39:32 EDT

danial, one of my blacksmithing mentors has 47 working anvils, and he loves them all...
   - merl - Thursday, 09/02/10 11:44:31 EDT

Danial; I have *NEVER* had a problem with finding someone who would like to take an extra anvil off my hands. I generally only charge a "carriage" fee on those transactions and as I seem to find anvils cheaper than most I generally have a waiting list...Makes it easier to get the anvils that are exactly what you want by upgrading and passing on your old ones.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 09/02/10 12:08:37 EDT

FAQ's page, H, Hammer Handle Repair Day
   - guru - Thursday, 09/02/10 12:11:50 EDT

The main reason for the glove is because a) the hammer I am using is not mine (so I can't modify the handle) and b) using that hammer makes a blister form on my hand and I have not yet callused over. On my own hammer I won't use the glove but will sand off the varnish on the handle.

   Pondracer - Thursday, 09/02/10 12:20:01 EDT

Amassing Tools: This can take a lifetime. It can be an expense but is also an investment. When you start out it may seem a daunting task. I had a fellow looking for tools come into shop once and accuse me of being "greedy" because I had several of numerous tools and a bunch of machinery and most was not being used on a regular basis. Less than a decade later he has a fully equipped shop and is looking at a second power hammer. . .

At one time I had about a dozen anvils. They had just tended to accumulate. At least two were gifts looking for a home. I sold all but four. I kept my two large "prize" or working anvils, an ancient Colonial missing the horn and a cheap thin faced cast iron junker. The junker has since gone to a friend for his kids to pound on.

Since then I have accumulated a few more. I have a second broken horn anvil and two small old English anvils of around 120 pounds. One is missing the face beyond the hardy hole. These are as much conversation pieces as well as "beaters".

But more important to me is vises. I have 4 working leg vises in weights up to 150 pounds, two heavy duty Prentice chipping vises (6" and 8"), several medium sized bench vises, a Wagon Vise and the two woodworking vises on one bench (see A HREF="/21centbs/woodworking/woodworkers_bench.php" TARGET="_top">wood working bench article). There is also one or two "parts" leg vises.

Today, all I can afford to collect is the images of fine tools. . . Tres Bigornia Catalan (Spanish Anvils)
   - guru - Thursday, 09/02/10 13:01:57 EDT

Just to stoke up the "lets make an anvil" fire again.
I could mill one of those large anvils shown on the Tres Bigornia Catalan (the two large mounted ones) on one of our horizontal cnc machines in about 1/2 an hour from a chunk of what appers to be 5" or 6" material (assuming A36)
The machine I'm thinking of gets $90./hr
I would make the tail a little different and would want to weld some heavy tabs on the base for hold downs but, that is a very easy piece to make from the photo.
Zone induction hardening on the table wouldn't get much from A36 but could you pre heat, to red hot all over, a piece of 4140(?) and arc weld it on then quench...
BTW, I'm including machining the horn to near finish (would need a little finish grinding if you wanted it better than a 125 finish) in that 1/2 hour.
50hp on a 50 tapper spindle will make a heck of a lot of chips in a short amount of time.
   - merl - Thursday, 09/02/10 14:46:06 EDT

The Three R's of why we "hammer dribble" on the anvil. Rest; rhythm; rumination.
A Turley original.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 09/02/10 16:46:29 EDT

Frank, I LIKE that.

It must also come naturally. I had a student that just couldn't get it, couldn't relax or had no rhythm and I finally told him to STOP, don't do it any more! He was as bad as one of those movie blacksmiths, "tink, tap, tap, tink, tap, tap". Completely forced, no bounce . . .
   - guru - Thursday, 09/02/10 17:53:49 EDT

The dribble is sort of letting the hammer "fall" from the work a short distance, maybe like lightly placing the hammer on the anvil. Hard to explain. The multiple bounce is "the dribble," a rebounding. It is misunderstood when the student thinks that we are HITTING the anvil. We DO NOT HIT THE ANVIL.

If something straightforward is done at the anvil like drawing out a square bar to a smaller size, there is not much need for the hammer dribble. You simply use metronomic blows giving quarter turns in time. Face it; there is not a great deal of thought involved.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 09/03/10 00:09:42 EDT

I have not yet gotten to that level of proficiency yet... something akin to playing tunes on your bass guitar (keeping time), only you're keeping rhythm with your hammer blows at the same time you're turning quarter turns for the drawing process.

How would I start on that? Start on a slow timing... then work up gradually?

Already do the dribble, but to me it feels like a punctuation mark ending a 'paragraph' (a heat that I was working on, a stage within the heat, etc).
   PondRacer - Friday, 09/03/10 00:46:47 EDT

Most smiths and weldors wear only one glove on their left hand (if right handed). I ALWAYS keep a thick welders glove on my left hand when working hot (even warm) metal. A gloved hand needs extra squeezing power to keep the hammer from flying out. This extra (unnecessary) energy is wasted and can lead to problems down the road (carpal tunnel). When forging, you will work up a sweat. Your sweaty hand on a dry wood handle will work almost like velcro. Never varnish or polish a wood handle, now your sweaty hand will act like a lubricant, be assured that the hammer will fly.

I never tap the anvil. I find the practice redundant and a waste of energy. Also, you can ruin a hammer that way. My hammers only hit soft hot metal. If you want rythym while forging listen to a R&B station on the radio.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 09/03/10 09:38:35 EDT

A trick I learned a long time ago for decreasing the grip required on a hammer. Scrape all the varnish etc off. Then rub a little bees wax on the handle. The wax will warm to the hand and becomes slightly sticky, greatly reducing the grip force needed. The warm bees wax also helps increase friction on a sweaty hand. I scrape off the bees wax and accumulated crud before a buildup big enough to give blisters is accumulated. Since I have only 2 fully functional fingers on my hammer hand this has greatly helped me.
   ptree - Friday, 09/03/10 10:06:11 EDT

RIP....Bob Loveless
   - arthur - Friday, 09/03/10 18:28:21 EDT

I wonder how I could add a picture to a post here, because I want to show my finished project, and do not want to use an imagebin.org link since any photo there will stay only for 7 days or something.

Yes... I blistered my hand AGAIN using their hammer... but it didn't take near as long to finish my project. I tried someone else's 2.5 lb engineer's hammer... and it was close to the weight I need, just the handle wasn't quite for me. The owner's hands were larger than mine, so I think I know what I need to do when I get my own hammer, in terms of modifying the handle for my fit.

   PondRacer - Friday, 09/03/10 21:24:34 EDT

Yes, PondRacer that is what I'm getting at( like punctuation...)
The rhythm comes naturally and the cadence will increase with practice and as your arm stregnth and endurance grows.
As Mr. Turley states, it's just metronomic blows and turning/ positioning.
For me, if I'm roughing down a piece of stock it will be three big hits(force applied veries with size of work) and turn/re-position, with the usual "dribble tap" at the end to tell myself I'm done and go back in the fire, if needed, ect...
The dribble tap thing also comes from doing public demos. It seems to help people follow what you are doing if they get a little signal that something is going to happen befor you suddenly put the hammer down and stuff the part back in the fire.
Just one of those habbits a smith picks up and is not always sure why but it works so they keep doing it...
   - merl - Saturday, 09/04/10 01:29:46 EDT

How much draft am I losing with 2 90 degree elbows in my 10" stack. I'm think I need to redesign my shop for a straight stack. Presently it is very smokey until it gets some heat,but the draft can be overwhelmed quite easily with the blower asking for more heat. It would be a moderate amount of work to do this...would it be worth it?
   S K Smith - Saturday, 09/04/10 07:56:43 EDT

SKS, I am an accountant so forgive me but 2 x 45 = 2 x 90 but is usually a lot better! Try it!
Pondracer, DON'T use a glove on your hammer hand. Learn to do without. I sometimes use a glove on the other hand- glove is better than tongs.
   philip in china - Saturday, 09/04/10 09:32:34 EDT

Stack Draft: S.K., The type of hood you are using makes a big difference. If it is the typical overhead funnel type affair then 10" is too small much of the time. The reason is that all the cold air at the huge opening of the hood is also trying to go up the stake along with the hot. This overloads the stake as well as dilutes the hot air reducing the draft. So you have less draft trying to move more air. . .

Side draft "hoods" with their small opening avoid the excessive cold air problem and have so much draft that they work sideways and lose less smoke than overhead hoods. See our PLANS page.

In many old shops those overhead hoods were attached to a large exhaust system. Many forges were actually made with down draft exhaust systems that kept the space over forges clear of stacks. This was important in industrial shops with overhead cranes.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/04/10 12:15:14 EDT

My 25 pounder LG power hammer has two problems.
The clutch pulley is a bit loose and I can't get the key out. I was told to weld a bolt and back it out with a pipe but I don't have a welder. I think I can live with the pulley being loose for a bit but the yoke is misaligned. It rides primarily on the right yoke (facing the front of the machine) and as the treadle is depressed the right yoke turns upward. The left doesn't carry it's burden.
Is this steel soft enough to hammer back in line?
This misalignment causes a rattle when engaging the clutch (I don't think its Babbitt play)
   - deloid - Saturday, 09/04/10 13:54:26 EDT

witch burns hotter and longer.coke or coal
   - clayton - Saturday, 09/04/10 14:16:19 EDT

Thanks for the stack/draft advice and Philip I forgive you for being an accountant. I've decided to redesign the shop and go straight out the roof with 12". It's either that or an exhaust fan.
   S K Smith - Saturday, 09/04/10 16:55:03 EDT

Clayton, coke burns hotter because the volatiles have already been burned out. Coal burns longer (per volume of fuel - not weight) because it is more dense and has those volatiles to burn. Depending on your forge you may not be able to tell the difference in time.

Coke is generally a purer fuel and pound per pound produces more usable energy. Cost per BTU is about equal.

Coke is more difficult to light and will go out immediately after the blast is turned off. So, it burns hotter but you may consume more fuel due to not being able to let the fire rest between parts or heats.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/04/10 16:55:04 EDT

SHop Ventilation. . SK, You should have a exhaust fan in any closed shop. Not just for extraneous forge smoke but for welding fumes, grinding dust (those angle grinder wheels fill the air with fine glass fibers), buffing puts cotton fibers in the air. . . Lots of reasons for a good exhaust fan.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/04/10 17:45:15 EDT

LG Clutch Pulley: All the LG's I know of the pulley runs on a bearing. The clutch spider or hub is keyed to the shaft and so is the crank wheel. Not sure which part you are talking about. In any case a loose part should be addressed. Worn clutch bearings are an expensive repair. On rear clutch hammers the wear will cause a lot of shudder because the pulley is not centered on the spider/cone when it engages.

I've seen a lot of crooked clutch yokes on LG's. Usually the problem is a worn pivot pin or bolt. Those I have seen were cast ductile iron or steel. They might bend cold without breaking. . they might not. I would heat and bend.

Power hammer and no welder? Kind of like the cart before the horse to me. But each to his own and the opportunities that present themselves.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/04/10 18:25:17 EDT

Exhaust Fan:

August is always my slow month, usually because of the weather. This year I had the woodshop to keep me busy, too; so I didn't fire up either the coal or gas forge all of the last month. Today as I was glancing up from removing temporary hurricane bracing from the Uri Hofi style smokestack, ( http://www.forgemagic.com/bsgallery/bsphoto3726.jpg ) I glanced up and observed that some birds had built their nest between the squirrel cage blower and the rat wire I put on the outside (to keep birds and such from flying in through the blower. (They probably came in through the still unscreened eaves; still on the to-do list.) It looks like they're finished with their brood for the year, but it might have been very messy if I'd plugged in the fan earlier!

Today was my first hot-work session in over a month (not that I haven't been busy relocating our Viking longship from the marina to the local maritime museum ( http://www.calvertmarinemuseum.com/ ) and I spent some time reducing the end of a 10' locking bar for the woodshop. After bashing about with the 4# hammer and the 9# sledge and the punch and maneuvering the 10' long 3/4" square bar I decided that the one end was where I wanted it, and went to make an entry in the logbook while I took a break. Except, I couldn't stay on the page line; I could hardly write! That's when I turned off the forge and went to hitch up the ships boat for a gig tomorrow. Knowing how far to push yourself means also knowing when to quit. :-) As Dirty Harry said: "A man should know his limitations." I'll finish this one up on Monday.

On the bright side, good forging weather has definately returned with September!

My labor day wishes to all here at Anvilfire; God(s) know(s) you folks all work hard.

Clear and cool on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 09/04/10 21:02:45 EDT

Birds. . . If they can get in and established they can be a mess.

I've had them build nests on the crane rail so many times I had to put a "plow" on the trolley to dump the nests.

Occasionally they would build a nest in a bin box. . . Reach in to get a bolt and disturb a bunch of chicks. . . scare the you know what out of you!

A snake managed to climb up a board and make it to the crane rail and get to the birds. I knocked the snake off the rail, swept it out of the shop and moved the board. The next day the snake was in the doorway and didn't want to let me in the shop. Black snakes are not usually aggressive but this one had decided it was HIS building. I swept him out. . Later that day it was back and did not want to let me in the door again. That was the only time I've killed a black snake.

At Paw-Paw's the NC forge got left unattended for a week with the end port open. Birds filled it entirely with leaves. We cleaned out the nest, used the forge. A couple days later it was filled with leaves again. Now it has plugs in both the end ports.

At our family shop there have been birds in one section for years. Snakes follow the birds and once in a while a big black snake would be found on the stock racks. . . Recently the birds have made a mess in the shop. Flying rats. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 09/04/10 22:07:47 EDT

I am a beginer blacksmith. I have noticed in some cases (on Videos) that a blacksmith uses a multi - ton press to work hot forged metal into a billet. Is this a acceptable practice?? - Thank you for your response - Stan C.
   Stan C. - Saturday, 09/04/10 23:05:33 EDT

Stan C - press: As long as You understand and follow all the safety rules, there is nothing wrong with using a press, it is one of the the ways forgings are made in industry.

Note, however, that a crank & flywheel driven punch press is not a good choice for forging unless conditions are very tightly controled.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 09/05/10 00:55:18 EDT

Stan, Virtually ANY method to move metal is acceptable. Modern blacksmith shops are more machine shops than forge and in blade making the bulk of the material is moved by grinding, even on forged blades. Modern blacksmith shops include power hammers, presses of all types, welding equipment of all types including MIG and TIG, cutting equipment including shears, saws, abrasive cutoff, flame cutting, plasma and possibly even LASER. The also include specialty bending and twisting machines as well as machine tools such as drill presses, lathes and milling machines.

We are in a global economy and the only way to compete is to be more efficient than the competition.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/05/10 03:30:53 EDT

Deloid, I highly recommend you get a cheap welding machine. HF has little tombstones and squirt guns real cheap. Having a welder is essential to your shop. I guess I'm kind of throwing in a "second" to what Jock just said. An oxy/acetyl setup would be next.

Jock, you missed the angle grinder! I wouldn't have a clue as to how my shop would have evolved were it not for that handy plug in!
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 09/05/10 09:33:36 EDT

Bench Grinder, Angle grinder, belt grinder, buffing station. .

Yeah, Buzz boxes can be cheap or a significant investment but they are also dead simple and last forever. All the other welders are fraught with technical things that go wrong and can be expensive to maintain. But buzz boxes are just big transformers with a couple capacitors for arc stabilization.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/05/10 10:14:38 EDT

Ah. . I left out surface grinder. Not too many folks have them. I've got an old Brown and Sharpe. Great for absolute flatness and precision thickness. Mostly a die work machine. I use it mostly for sharpening sheet metal punches, shear blades and other small precision jobs.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/05/10 12:40:54 EDT

Hi All,
I'm interested in building some oil fired forges and possibly a melting furnace which run on filtered, preheated used vegetable oil, as from a fryolator. I saw an article about someone doing this in a newsletter publication, but can't find it now. Any advice or info in oil burners?
Free recycled fuel for blacksmiths!
   - Josh S. - Sunday, 09/05/10 13:27:14 EDT

Waste Oil Forge: Josh, I've been doing some investigating into this for a project of my own. First, there are a LOT of articles with complicated burners. Those who follow up often change from their original and more popular articles with complicated (often hair-brained) designs to a simplified version that works better. Here is what I have learned.

1) Preheating the oil is not necessary and if done must use a holding tank and thermostatic controls. A moderate preheat MIGHT be good but as the oil viscosity changes so does the burner operation. Thus the temperature control.

2) Preheating at the nozzle using a coil or heater block often cokes the fuel in the tube and fails (clogged).

For the reasons above preheat is a complicated expensive idea that is not necessary.

3) Preburn chambers are not necessary. There are a bunch of articles on these and the one fellow that built dozens ended up with a simple burner without the external chamber.

4) Propane preheat may be necessary in some designs but should be avoided as an unneeded added complication.

5) Electric spark ignition is a good idea and very convenient but unnecessary. However, I REALLY like a forge you can just TURN-ON.

6) Direct drip into a hot burner chamber works but is difficult to control and requires a significant preheat using another fuel.

7) Burner tubes or ducts should slope into the furnace so that condensed oil mist will drain into the furnace and burn rather than leak out.

In other words, K.I.S.S!

The best burners, including the best commercial burners use a venturi siphon injector. These use a small amount of compressed air to pump and atomize the oil. The siphon injectors can be purchased off the shelf for $15 to $50. These in turn are used in a blower burner tube with a fan air supply.

The simplest method I have seen is to drip the oil from a gravity fed tank directly into the air flow from the blower. Others have used complete domestic furnace burners attached to the side of a forge. The problem here is the burners are not designed for the built up heat in a forge and the IR heat from the incandescent forge walls can overheat parts as well as coke the fuel in the spray nozzle.

While the fuel MAY be free it is a bit more complicated (and expensive) to build a forge or furnace to use it rather than gas.

The books by Chastain (see our book review page) are designed for the small foundry but have a lot of information on using waste oil.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/05/10 14:38:03 EDT

I dunno...

After only the 2nd time of starting a coal forge, I find it very easy to start one, and I think I'll stick to coke for the fuel of choice.

Some people have more difficulty starting a coke/coal forge for a while, I guess... I think my experience with starting a wood charcoal bbq grill helped, plus the fact that I am a very visual learner (being deaf, you HAVE to be visual to begin with) helped greatly. I can start a coal forge and go from cold forge to working temperatures within 5-10 minutes now.

The simpler the better, I would say, even coming from a newbie like me.

Now if only I could show off my first project that I completed...

   PondRacer - Sunday, 09/05/10 16:31:42 EDT

Gentlemen, I want to thank you for the encouragement in the forging process. Now by the looks of it, I have a lot of back reading to do. I have read some of your conversations and one can really learn by other's questions and mistakes. Thank you again and you will be hearing from me. Stan C
   Stan C. - Sunday, 09/05/10 22:59:52 EDT

I have a small pick head, 16" point to point, It has been forged from two pieces of metal. It has "Washoe" stamped on the left side, and the number "2" and the letter "H" in a square on the opposite side. Any idea of the age? Value? I appreciate any help you can offer.
   Bill V - Monday, 09/06/10 12:31:33 EDT

Bill, Not a clue if this is a collectible. A forge weld on such a thing may be a repair. There are many other indications that something like this is hand made or not that have to be looked at. I doubt that a factory pick has much value except to a very narrow focus museum such as a mining museum.
   - guru - Monday, 09/06/10 12:34:53 EDT

Check Yesteryear Tools: www.yesteryearstools.com/Yesteryears%20Tools/Washoe%20Mfg.%20Co..html
They have a page on Washoe Tools.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 09/06/10 20:48:49 EDT

"Having a welder is essential to your shop I guess I'm kind of throwing in a "second" to what Jock just said. An oxy/acetyl setup would be next."

That's what I've been telling my wife!
I was thinking of getting one of the oxy/acetylene caddy like the one on the bottom of this web page. I make jewelry so i could use the set as is but get larger hoses and torch tips for limited welding use...I think?

The large tanks worry my wife since we have a packed garage.
   - Deloid - Tuesday, 09/07/10 01:18:32 EDT

Post Vise:

I picked up a smaller post vise not long ago and noticed that it has a small rectangular hole in the long leg below the screw box hole. I've been told that on older vise styles the mounting hardware had a tang that passed through this hole. The tang had a slot for wedges much like those on the more familiar mounting brackets. What is most unusual about this vise is the screw box. It is cast, but instead of the graceful lines flowing out to a ball on the end, this one is a cylinder whith a little ball on on the end and it has two keys. I've never seen a two key screw box before. The other thing is that the screw box itself has two bolt holes which are vertical an appear to be for achoring the box to a work bench. That seems very odd as I would expect that you'd want the screw box free to pivot as the vise opens and closes. Has anyone seen anything like this before and are there any estimates of its age?

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 09/07/10 09:24:40 EDT

The little Oxy-Acetylene sets are handy but very limited. For jewelery and very light sculptural work they are very handy. But for blacksmithing and welding (such as cutting plate for building equipment) they are too small and can be very frustrating.

If your garage is attached to your house it IS a safety concern to store even propane bottles for a gas grill. In fact, because propane is heavy and collects, it is considered more dangerous than acetylene which is light and tends to disperse.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/07/10 09:26:53 EDT

Another vote for stick welders...No gas..no hassels ..just buy electrodes...People sell them short...but skyscrapers were made with them..there little workhorses,but do require some skill
   - arthur - Tuesday, 09/07/10 10:21:56 EDT

All welding takes skill. Arc welding with a buzz box takes quite a bit of practice to make pretty welds. MIG makes pretty welds with less practice but I have seen pretty beads that could be pealed off the base metal due to dirt or rust and bad technique.

My old Miller buzz box is almost 40 years old and still welds as good as ever. I've had to replace cable ends once due to wear and breakage and the entire cables recently due to the insulation falling off the original cables. It has been stored and used in dirty locations, been in a flood and could use cleaning and painting. Its original cost was $140 including a helmet and has done thousands of dollars worth of work. A similar welder from Miller now lists for about $600. You can get cheaper welders but I have never had a complaint about this one.

If not used often the MIG wire can rust and rust or dirt can create problems in the stinger lead. I had to replace switches, diodes, relays and lead liners (besides consumables) in the four years I was actively using the AirCo MIG/stick machine I had.

Stick welders also have the advantage of a very wide range of rod types many of which have no comparable wire for MIG machines. You can also purchase rod in small quantities in many places including many big box and hardware supplies many of whom are open on weekends and late night.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/07/10 11:39:07 EDT


That is a most peculiar screw box if it is not forge welded. The old ones were a forge welded tube to dimension, so that the square thread coil could be brazed inside. You can often see the lengthwise shut. I have three period vises that have the bracket tenon, and they all have two keys, top and bottom on each box, so that might be fairly typical. The English vises all had the split and splayed bracket design, but apparently yours is missing the bracket and spring. The German vises of that period had a solid triangular bracket; no split. Some of the old French vises had a fleur de lis bracket design.

Dating the vises is difficult, but my educated guess is that many of these are from around 1800 +- 30 years. Most of them were small with jaws from 3.75" to 4.5".
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 09/07/10 12:42:07 EDT

Well, I wasn't able to save the copper basin for the baptismal font, but I'm working on the second try. Check it out:


This only shows me sinking, but I'm about to start raising for the majority of the rest of the process.
   - Stormcrow - Tuesday, 09/07/10 12:46:19 EDT

Welding Tanks. Either have them chained on a sturdy cart or to the wall. I'm speaking from personal experience.
   Carver Jake - Tuesday, 09/07/10 13:07:11 EDT

Odd Vise: Patrick, I'd like to see photos of that one. Sounds very odd indeed.

One thing I have noticed on a lot of old vises is that folks often interchange parts from newer vises to older ones and often the screw and box is not the the one that came with the vise. I've seen many with replacement DIY bench brackets as well since these are often very securly attached to the bench and folks would remove them by popping out the wedges or pins.

The tennon bracket vises use a small pin, not a wedge, to hold the vise together. Those I've had used a round pin and the spring was arced slightly outward to tension the pin and prevent its falling out. These most often had what I call "fish tail" springs that flared at the end and wrapped around the outer leg a bit. A very graceful piece of work.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/07/10 13:23:33 EDT


I watched your U-Tube video and I'd like to offer you a couple of suggestions based upon a few decades of experience.

You could save a lot of gas on the annealing operations if you made an annealing pan filled with pumice or perlite. Just use a big, shallow pan of any sort that will hold about three inches of pumice rocks or vermiculite or agricultural perlite - any of the will work fine, though I prefer the pumice rocks like some people use in gas grilles. The vermiculite or perlite will probably be the cheapest, however. Set your copper on that and, if possible have a sheet metal windscreen around about 3/4 of the perimeter to contain some of the heat. Should cut your heating time by about half or better.

Secondly, (for the pickling), a simple way to make a large pickling vat is to throw together a simple framework of 1x6 boards and drop a piece of polyethylene sheet in it as a liquid-proof liner. Basically a mini above-ground swimming pool. Then make up a pickling solution of water and swimming pool dry acid (pH reducer), which is pretty much the same thing as Sparex #2.

Thirdly, for that sinking you're doing, a sandbag would probably be handier than that stump. You an make one easily using heavy canvas and coarse blasting sand or "black beauty" media. Just fold it over and double fold the edges and sew it up with a sailmaker's needle and dental floss. For that font, make the bag about two feet square so you don't have to move the piece so often.

Lastly, when yo get to the raising work, you can do all but the final planishing using wooden hammers and stakes. Copper is very soft when annealed and wood works fine. You can often get really good hard wood free by tearing apart old shipping pallets - the ones that come in from South America are usually made from wood that other people would pay good money for. A wood mallet made from soft wood such as sugar pine or basswood makes a serviceable substitute for a big rawhide mallet for the bougeing process, too.

Have fun with it!

   - Rich - Tuesday, 09/07/10 13:41:07 EDT

PondRacer *industrial* coke does not light like the breeze you make in the forge and can go out in the time you take to hammer iron if there is not an electric blower.

Some folks I know that use it typically light it with an oxy-actelyene torch---not like just building a small wood fire (or even a couple of sheets of crumpled newspaper) to light a coal fire.

When you buy coke for forging you get industrial coke---hopefully sized for the forge.

Try some of that and report back!

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 09/07/10 17:58:20 EDT

Yes, that IS the coke that I was using (industrial coke). Since I had no oxyacetylene torch in the smithy (this smithy is part of a pioneer village museum), I started with a wood fire (paper, kindling, larger wood pieces) and a very gentle air blast from the fan. Once I had a pretty good hot fire going, then I started heaping on the coke little by little so that I did not crowd the fire. Time to start the fire: 5-10min total (after preparation for starting the fire).

I know some people have a bit more difficult time starting this kind of coke because by itself, it doesnt support combustion easily (by 'by itself' I mean with no air blast to raise the temperature of the fire), and they start out with the expectation that it would behave like wood fires would.

I could ask for coal instead and use that instead of the industrial coke... IF I could find the actual location of the coal/coke distributor in my area that the blacksmith that came out to demonstrate at this smithy alluded to. But why? I think I prefer getting coke because then I don't have to worry about coking down the coal to begin with.

   PondRacer - Tuesday, 09/07/10 19:44:40 EDT

Pond Racer, Or keep a bit of coal on hand- light a coal fire which will then light your coke.
   philip in china - Tuesday, 09/07/10 20:37:40 EDT

[ CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2010 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC

Get anvilfire.com GEAR.

International Ceramics Products