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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 8 - 15, 2010 on the Guru's Den
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I'm sure theis is really basic but I don't see how the weld was done on the chandlier by Frederick Crist on this ABANA page:
I had to shorten the link (it was huge) but the site is ABANA
I am wondering about the right angle joints under the lights. lap weld?
   - Deloid - Wednesday, 09/08/10 13:12:17 EDT

Hi, I am setting up my shop. I am trying to make an old vise work properly. I took a house jack component and I am using the screw and part of the jack I sawed off with the threads inside it and welded it to the back side of the jack. I turn the crank and it closes, but it wont open up? Is the spring bad or am I missing something else with the design? What makes it screw back out?
   Karen - Wednesday, 09/08/10 14:03:58 EDT

Deloid, Those are hollow tubes (to run the wires in) that is either gas or arc welded then finished by grinding or filing. They are also welded into the cylindrical body which is a place to make the wiring connections. In this case I think the joint and the look of the joint is bad design and the grinding/finishing is too obvious. It detracts from an otherwise beautiful piece of work. but, this is one of those things that only a smith with a sharp eye would notice. I would have gone with slight grooves that made the crossing look like a notched joint, either held together by non-visible means OR false rivets. The illusion of solid bar should have been carried through.

Such tubing can be pipe OR structural tubing. Round pipe may be left round or forged square to suit the design. Forged tube will match hand forged work better. Gas or TIG welding would result in better control of the joint and fill.

Yep, need that torch we talked about the other day.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/08/10 14:09:42 EDT

Vice action: Karen, Old blacksmith leg vises are opened by a leaf spring. See:

FAQs, V, Vises Blacksmith Leg

Replacement springs can be made from leaf springs OR even mild steel. Thickness varies from 1/4" to 5/16". They are held to the back leg at the top and push against the bottom of the front jaw. Attachment is by the bench bracket. The bracket either wraps around the spring and leg OR passes through (very old style).
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/08/10 14:16:46 EDT

Cleaning and oiling the cheeks and the pivot bolt will help a "sticky" vise work more freely as well.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 09/08/10 19:06:02 EDT

A lady of the evening gave me the same advise as above.

   Mike T. - Wednesday, 09/08/10 23:37:31 EDT

I have what I think is a railroad or perhaps a ferrier's forge...a neat antique and the blower works great. Can you give me any info? Buffalo forge went out of business aparrently and I am having a hard time finding any history about this model. Dang, I have pics, but gotta fiure out how to post them here. Model # 210.
   jk - Wednesday, 09/08/10 23:40:02 EDT

JK, The catalog I has has numbers 0, 01, 02 . . 10 . . and 13 for forge models. If the number is on a casting with the characters "No" before them then it is just a casting number. But they may have changed their numbering system later. Email me photos and I will see if I can identify it.

All the cast iron a steel forges were categorized as "portable forges" except the big shop down draft forges. Other ranges in sizes and were not specific to a craft other than jewelers and prospectors. The rest were just forges. During the horse drawn era farriers did not use portable forges as they do today. The horse wen to the shop to be shod, the farrier did not go to the horse as they do today. Small light forges are more likely a rivet forge. These were designed to be small and light for working high steel.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/09/10 00:06:12 EDT

Im just about to build my own forge. I bought the kaowool lining off the anvilfire site and i was wondering about the best way to secure it to the sides of the forge. I also got some itc 100 and read somewhere that you can use it to secure the wool to the metal sides. However your supposed to fire the itc 100 to get it to set; does the wool interfere with this process? Thank you for any advice and if possible please reply by email.
   Sean - Thursday, 09/09/10 03:25:51 EDT

The Buffalo Forges I've seen had pressed steel hearths measuring 24" x 30". The firepot had a rotating tuyere valve a little out-of-round with a small, rectangular hole through it. As for history, I ordered the firepot new in 1964. Buffalo must've still been in business.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 09/09/10 09:46:55 EDT

Sean, The ITC will dry in an hour or so without firing and just gets harder with firing. To use ITC-100 on steel you need to prime the surface with ITC-213. This gets rather expensive for a rather weak joint. While the ITC will stick well to both surfaces the blanket is very weak and the surface will shear off with very little effort.

Most small forges are tube construction and the blanket will support itself as long as it is a forge size tube and not a large furnace. Cut the kaowool a little long so it is a snug fit.

On vertical or horizontal surfaces attaching kaowool blanket requires methods other than glue.

For walls of 3" or more panels are made of folded blanket. Strips of kaowool are cut and sewn together like so
Inconell wire is used for the sewing and loops of wire that wrap around the sewing wire are placed about every 4" apart so that they protrude from the back a couple inches. These are used to tie the blanket to the forge/furnace shell or support. Often a steel frame covered with expanded metal is used. The wires tied to the expanded metal. Small panels may be made without a frame. The expanded metal can have studs welded to it OR is it has small holes then sheet metal screws can be used to anchor the panel in place.

Stainless wire can be used in low temperature furnaces but Inconell is recommended for high temperature applications and should be no closer to the interior surface of the furnace than one inch. On a 3" panel I would center the wire. Assembly of the strips is done in a simple wood fixture.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/09/10 09:48:10 EDT

If I was going to build my forge out of a brake drum... could I surround it with a concrete table, or does the table have to have refractory mix in it?

   PondRacer - Thursday, 09/09/10 12:55:37 EDT

Concrete spalls (makes steam and explodes) when exposed to high heat. Use steel plate or sheet metal. A box filled with clay or high clay soil works. This can be in a wooden box with thin sheet metal liner. Cover the wood so it is not exposed, remember that the bottom of the forge is going to be near or at a red heat and will set things on fire up to half a foot or more away.

You can purchase refractory cement mix. It must cure then dry for weeks. Such things are also heavy which is a consideration in a small shop.
   - guru - Thursday, 09/09/10 14:20:37 EDT

I used nichrome wire out of an old hair dryer to secure the kaowool on the roof of my forge. Didn't last forever, but is probably better than stainless.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 09/09/10 18:21:54 EDT

Hello. I am making a junkyard hammer which will be driven with an electric motor with a small pulley. Do you have any advice on the size of pulleys to use, both on the motor and on the drive shaft, as a general "rule of thumb"? Also, what about motor RPM's? Thank you. RG.
   RG - Thursday, 09/09/10 21:25:28 EDT

RG, if you will click on the Navigate button at the upper right of the screen you will see the AnvilCAM-II button on the pull down menu. If you click on that you will find a couple of videoes of some home made and factory made power hammers. Some show how the hammer should run and some show how they shouldn't run.
The Blows Per Minuet operating speed of your design depends on the hammer weight among other factors and, if you watch the video of the 25lb. Novelty hammer you'll see it running at only about 230-250 bpm ( it should be at least 300 and, up to 360)
You will have to adjust the pully ratios on your machine to meet your design requirements.
There will probably be a lot of trial and error, maybe 300bpm is good for you maybe only 200, maybe 400???
That's the thing about a JYH, It's all up to the builder.
   - merl - Thursday, 09/09/10 23:41:17 EDT

Yeah, thats what I thought about the concrete mix, wanted to be sure.

Never thought about just using simple sand or dirt to make the table. That's gonna make it an even cheaper forge! :)

   PondRacer - Friday, 09/10/10 00:02:15 EDT

Here's an added bonus, you can use the sand for annealing, putting out fires, packing tubing and pipe for forging, creating a non-slip floor surface, help grip stuff in a vise (I sometimes wet the iron, dip it in sand, then clamp down). I'm sure others here have more uses for sand at the forge.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 09/10/10 08:38:16 EDT

Power Hammer Speeds: RG, The speed of the hammer is determined by the mass of the ram and the length of the stroke. In general small hammers run faster than larger hammers. But at shorter stroke all hammers can run faster than at a longer stroke.

Spring tension also makes a difference. The heavier the spring the faster the hammer can run. A loose soft spring allows more stroke or a sloppy action even a low speed.

This all may sound confusing and it is. Everything is balance.

A good place to start is the spec sheet for the Little Giant hammer on our power hammer page. As a relatively heavy commercial machine you should not expect the same performance in ah home built. So run your slower.

Generally the standard RPM of fractional HP electric motors is 1800 RPM (1750 at load). Many pump and grinder motors run 3600 RPM which is too fast to slow down (for practical purposes). Occasionally 1200 RPM motors are available but they are more expensive than 1800. On the other hand, if you live in Australia or other country where the standard power frequency is 50hz the standard motor speed will be 1200 RPM.

Pulley sizes are determined by the final speed you need and the sizes available to fit. Sizes are determined by simple ratio. 10" to 2" is 5:1. Divide 1800 by 5 and you have 360 RPM.

   - guru - Friday, 09/10/10 8:45 EDT


Our server hosting company has changed security settings on the server which is preventing the system from opperating. We are working to solve the issue.
   - guru - Friday, 09/10/10 8:45 EDT

Test without HTML
   - guru - Friday, 09/10/10 10:30:31 EDT

Hey - this is probably going to seem like an obvious question, but here-goes:

I'm collecting parts&pieces to build a mechanical powerhammer - my intention is to incorporate design aspects from several different hammers on the builders-page, but using the auto rear-end is central to the plan.

There's one thing I don't understand though - I get using the brake drum as the hammer brake (brilliant) but I don't understand referring to it as the 'clutch'. It would seem that the motor stays engaged with the whole rest of the gearing linkage the entire time. This leads me to the next part of my question: What happens while both the motor(s) and the brake are 'On' - are you just fighting the motor(s) still with the brake, or is the drive belt loose enough that the motor just spins in the stationary belt?

I'm sure this is just me missing something - like I said, it's probably an obvious question and I'll be splapping my forehead when you answer - thx - Ron
   Ron - Friday, 09/10/10 11:20:33 EDT

Rear Axel "Clutch" Ron, It works due to the planetary or "differential" (as in differential mathematics) gearing.

The planetary gearing is what allows an automobile to go around a corner without the tires slipping due to going different speeds. Since the motion can be divided into any proportion the automobile can go around corners of any radius with equal force being delivered to both tires. It also allows two inputs and one output. Mechanical adding machines used planetary gearing to add and subtract.

If you jack up the rear axle of a rear wheel drive car you can rotate on side and the the other will rotate in the opposite direction IF the drive shaft is locked (in gear or park). If the drive shaft is rotated both wheels will turn if off the ground and the brakes are off. IF one wheel is stopped the other will rotate twice as fast.

When used as a clutching mechanism the input is via the drive shaft connection (which turns the ring gear). The side with the brake drum rotates, all the input going to wasted motion. Apply the brake, stopping that side, then the other must rotate. If the brake slips, only slowing the motion then the other side only rotates at part speed.

Thus, the "brake" is a clutch.

To operate the mechanism you need a complete brake assembly on one side (cylinder, shoes, adjuster, springs and drum). It can be actuated by the parking brake cable (simplest) OR the wheel cylinder if you connect it to a brake cylinder and all that entails. Mechanical is easier and more dependable.
   - guru - Friday, 09/10/10 12:31:49 EDT

Decades ago my father designed (and patented) a reactor control rod drive that used a differential drive. The purpose was so that it could "scram" or shut down the reactor when power was lost and did not rely on gravity. It would work upside down such as in nuclear ships or submarines in trouble.

The way it worked was a motor drove a flywheel on the primary drive at a constant speed, a second motor variable input canceled the flywheel input OR added and subtracted a little to move the rod up and down. If power was lost the motors stopped and the flywheel would push in the control rods shutting down the reactor.

I've used the same system to control feeds on numerical machine tools and there are boring heads made by Criterion that work on a similar principal.

Note that on the auto axles if the reduction ratio is X, the reduction on the JYH is X/2 (half). I missed this when I built the EC-JYH.
   - guru - Friday, 09/10/10 13:06:09 EDT

There it is - I completely lost sight of the weight of the ram stopping one side from turning! Thank you!

One other question:
I'm looking @ cutting sections out of each of the axles to reduce the footprint in the shop (running out of room) - have you tried that & do you see any immediate problems resulting? Thanks again - Ron
   Ron - Friday, 09/10/10 14:46:46 EDT

p.s. - I also missed the whole 'limited-slip' thing, automatically defaulting to posi-trak in my mind :-)
   Ron - Friday, 09/10/10 14:53:53 EDT

In this application you cannot use limited slip or "Posi-Track". These have a clutch and rotation difference limiter between the two axles. They are rare so should be no problem.

Axles are cut down or extended all the time. The trick is keeping things straight and welding the axle properly as they are often heat treated alloy steel. Just take care to remove the same amounts from the axle tubes as the axels. A good way to weld the axles is to reinforce the weld with a fitted cover made from pipe or solid and machined to fit. Just be sure the OD fits through the axle bearings and any obstructions in the tube.
   - guru - Friday, 09/10/10 15:19:56 EDT

Was looking at the brake-drum forge plans... and I see quite a few drawbacks to it:

1) No place to rest the pieces that I am heating up. Easily resolved by building a table that surrounds it (sand or dirt on top of a wood table, for example).

2) Steep sides. You could make the sides slope in, however, by using refrac cement, so that is not that much of an issue, I dont think.

3) Tuyere design is not quite optimal. But for the budget, using a decnet enough blower not a cheap hairdryer, it'll be ok, I think.

4) Do you have to cover up the center hole completely? Why not use a heavy-duty grid that keeps the coal or coke from falling down the tuyere pipe?

I know the BEST way to make a forge is with a readymade tuyere and firepot design... but for those who can't yet afford one, one has to look for whatever works on the cheap or free.

Also... how good are the side-draft forges compared to the bottom-draft forges?

   PondRacer - Saturday, 09/11/10 00:36:38 EDT

Guru stated the hardness of an axel. When the World Trade Center was attacked in 1993, the whole underground parking lot was destroyed. The only piece that was found that provided clues was an axel. They got the serial number off of it and traced down the van.
   Mike T. - Saturday, 09/11/10 01:41:37 EDT

In the Azle making industry, for trucks, the hardness runs in the Rc42 to 48 range depending on where on the axle and the size of the axle. The smaller axles were industry standard as 1045H if 1 3/8" and under stock and 1541H if the billet was bigger than that 1.38" boundry. Neither of these allows are easy to weld without some special care.
   ptree - Saturday, 09/11/10 07:29:14 EDT

Pondracer, have you ever pondered the idea of making a gas forge? (sorry about the pun, I had to!) A propane or MAPP forge is a lot easier to construct, maintain and use when compared to coal. Of course this is my opinion and I really don't have much experience with coal. I do know that my wife would kill me if I put a coal forge in the basement, even WITH adequate ventilation. I'm lucky enough already that she puts up with what I have goin on down there!
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 09/11/10 08:22:22 EDT

I'm pretty sure the serial number from the WTC incident came off the cast iron axle housing (often somewhat imprecisely called the "axle"), not the rotating steel shafts inside.

On the limited slip/posi thing, I'd bet that if you're tearing the "axle" down to shorten it anyway, it wouldn't be that hard to disable the limited slip feature.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 09/11/10 10:16:39 EDT

Brake Drum Forge Plans I do not understand "cover the center hole completely". MY plans only call for a single piece of bar stock as I much prefer an opening that does not clog easily or a grate that burns out. My tuyere design made of pipe fittings is exactly the same as many commercial units except that they are made of a weld T and require welding.

The point of a brake drum forge is that it is cheap and easy to build and can be built with almost no tools. They are also a good way to TEST coal without spending a lot of money just to find out that that you don't want to spend a lot on shipping to obtain good coal. Yes, there is no coal reserve area. When you build with available junk there are trade offs. On the other hand, a standard full size auto brake drum (rapidly becoming a thing of the past) is actually a LARGE forge for for many kinds of work.

The biggest problem folks have with the brake drum forge plans is either using a heavy equipment drum (about 10" deep - 7" TOO much) OR following the instructions on YouTube where the guy calls a disk brake rotor a brake drum.

My first forge made of auto wheels (not brake drums) and worked OK for a hobby forge. It was BETTER than my second forge which I built after having arc welding and oxy-acetylene equipment. My third forge (the one on my portable forge trailer) was built with better knowledge and worked quit well. Sometimes I thought ot was too deep and other times too shallow. . . so it must have been JUST RIGHT. . .

The best DIY forge I have seen was built using material from old hot water heater tanks. This required:

2) arc welding and oxyacetylene equipment
3) commercial blowers.

I've seen semi-commercial forges (from plans) that were quite expensive. But trapped heat underneath and killed blowers on a regular basis. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 09/11/10 10:39:46 EDT

One more thought on "axles." Using a transaxle (from a FWD car) would add a lot of complications -- maybe too many to get past. But it would start out much shorter than a rear end, and give you a lot more reduction.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 09/11/10 10:45:24 EDT

I just had a thought ( that could be dangerous ) Why couldn't a rear end from an old three wheeler or one from a riding lawn mower be used ?
   Mike T. - Saturday, 09/11/10 11:43:09 EDT

I thought about using a brake drum from like a Geo Metro, but not sure if the firepot would be too small, so I will have to look around and see what I find at the local JY or brake repair place to find one that will be the right size once I slope the sides in with refrac cement. I can cut notches in the drum to pass stock through so I can heat the middle part of the stock within the forge.

As far as making the table that surrounds the forge, what material should I use for where the forge's firepot itself will be? I know I need something insulative and not combustible for near the firepot.

   PondRacer - Saturday, 09/11/10 14:16:06 EDT

Mike, Lawn mower parts are way too light duty. I suspect the same for the modern 3 wheelers. . . Unless you were building a VERY light hammer.

As to modifying a Posi-track differential, I would not recommend it. They are rare enough that if you had one CHEAP it would probably be best to sell it or trade it. There are way too many hot-rodders looking for these things to use it on a JYH.

I've never had a FWD drive on the bench so I don't know all the problems but I suspect the differential is integrated into the transmission and would add a lot of complexity. There are tons of RWD vehicle axles still being made and millions in junk yards. Light trucks still use them as do larger trucks.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/11/10 14:19:53 EDT

I forgot to add to my post: How good are the side-blast forges compared to the bottom blast forges?

   PondRacer - Saturday, 09/11/10 14:44:25 EDT

   boneman - Saturday, 09/11/10 15:16:43 EDT

I don't really have a question but rather a compliment on this website, it's great! I am not looking to make a sword, although learning the craft would be amazing, I am simply writing about it. I wanted to get an accurate account of how to make a sword for a book I am writing and this website has given me all the information I need and more in a no nonsense way. So thank you!

Trishia H.
   Trishia Haahr - Saturday, 09/11/10 15:48:09 EDT

Pondracer, you don't need the forge table to be insulating. Mine is just a 24" x 36" sheet of 3/8" steel plate with a hole cut in it for a Centaur firepot, the whole thing resting on a wooden base. Yes, wooden. Pine 2x4 bracing and 4x4 legs. Over the eleven years it's been in service some of the resin has cooked out of the 2x4s immediately in front of and behind the firepot, but otherwise there's no noticeable effect from the heat. This is using the forge an average of six hours a day once or twice a month during the summer, once a week or so in colder weather, lots of welding and heat-treating.

You're thinking too hard. A pickup brake drum would work fine, even if a little shallow for heavy welding. The steep sides are not a problem, and you wouldn't need to notch the edges. You want to keep the work at least 2" to 3" above the air blast with coal anyway.

Posi-track rear ends: For the first time I have one on my truck. I like it very much indeed!
   Alan-L - Saturday, 09/11/10 16:01:15 EDT

My thought was that the transmission part of a transaxle would give you extra reduction. But connecting it to the input pulley, the hammer crank, and even the brake/clutch would be much more complicated. So very likely not worth it.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 09/11/10 16:30:16 EDT

Boneman, You can probably google as good as anyone. Are you a beginner? If so, three weeks with me at my school will save you three years of froggin' around on your own. See the gurus near the Top Post to find more info.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 09/11/10 16:32:50 EDT

Wood Forge Parts: A surprising number of forges and various fire holders have had wood parts, frames and supports.

Mud and wattle chimneys are small logs and sticks held together by clay and a little lime sometimes. Often the wood fitted like logs or tied together with whatever was at hand and the mud lining containing stone when available. This is no-budget, no-supplies construction that worked for thousands of years. It is not pretty, nor permanent, but it works.

In the same situations a pit forge would be built in a wood frame raised to a suitable work height. If some sheet metal was available it would be used to protect the wood. If charcoal was the fuel there would often be no chimney just a hole in the roof or eves. If coal was the fuel then a mud and wattle chimney would be built.

In the Forge & Anvil series Alan Rogers shows how to build a forge using a wheelbarrow pan supported on wood. . .

   - guru - Saturday, 09/11/10 17:44:36 EDT

Side Blast vs. Bottom Blast: These has both technical difference and cultural differences. In some places such as England and the Orient side blast forges are preferred because THAT is what people are used to. In the U.S. the big manufacturers' cast iron "portable" forges dominated the market and people even used the fire pots from them to convert side blast masonry forges to hybrid bottom blast forges.

The advantage of a bottom blast is an easier to maintain small concentrated fir that is cleaned out from the bottom. The advantage of side blast is simplicity and lack of need for a grate and ash dump. HOWEVER, that simplicity was lost with cast iron side blast forges which came to need a water cooled tuyere. Older side blast forges used conical ceramic tubes for the tuyere that were available in many places because of the many forges and furnaces that used them. This is no longer a common item. In any case they also burned out and had to be replaced on a regular basis. Side blast works better using charcoal fuel because there is no clinker or heavy ash to get rid of a with coal. A side blast coal fire must be broken down more often and the fire bed cleaned out.

Some side blast forges use a refractory wall or shield stone and build the fire against the wall. This is simpler than a refractory tuyere BUT requires higher tech materials. Japanese trough forges blow air in from the side enclosing a variable depth charcoal fire between two walls. This has a lot of advantages and simplicity but is heavy masonry construction (compared to a sheet steel forge table).
   - guru - Saturday, 09/11/10 17:58:53 EDT

Hello ferrophiles, I have a question or two concerning the use of tumblers to remove mill and fire scale. Specifically, any source of plans or advice. I have seen several, some home made from old clothes dryers, old cenent trucks ect, and some designed by engineering firms that didn't need too much tweaking to actually work.

What I am thinking is a horiz tank, about 20" dia, with a door and a very short HD stand. One end driven with chain from electric motor (with a catch to hold it door up), and
a vacum on the other end (hollow axle this end) solid on the drive end. Any red flags here? Thanks
   - Tim in Orygun - Saturday, 09/11/10 18:44:13 EDT

Tim, try a vinegar bath overnight first. On the iron, I mean. :-)
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 09/11/10 19:48:44 EDT

Finishers: Tim, Some pointers:

The better tumblers run on an angled axis so that the open side can be left open and work not fall out.

These are usually a tapered shape (like a concrete mixer). Being hexagonal or octagonal also helps tumble the work and media.

Tumblers also generally use grinding media that need water to keep the dust down.

It helps to line them with rubber for noise, wear and tear.

Tumblers are very noisy and should be away from the general shop area (preferably outdoors).

Vibratory finishers (shakers) are better for very odd shaped work. Even odd pieces like fire tools can be cleaned in a vibratory finisher. These are much like a tumbler but instead of rotating they shake. There is a rectangular tank supported on flexible means (springs, straps) and a motor with an out of balance counter weight. The motor is usually separated from the tank by a belt drive. The weight(s) are on a shaft attached to the bottom of the tank with the axis the long way. The rotational vibration causes the tank full of media to roll in the same rotational direction. You toss a piece of work in and it is sucked down on one side and comes up a minute later on the other side. . .

Vibratory finishers are no more difficult to build than a tumbler and work better. They use the same media as tumblers along with water which is fed in just fast enough to keep down dust and drains out the bottom of the tank. Lining the rectangular box with rubber (and anchoring it) is easier than a tumbler.

Just some thoughts. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 09/11/10 21:03:50 EDT

Boneman, get a copy of "The Blacksmiths Craft" by Charles McRaven. There are entire chapters describing what you are looking to make. McRaven also wrote books on building log cabins using the forged tools in the "Blacksmiths Craft". A very good read, also my first blacksmith book I ever read.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 09/12/10 10:16:02 EDT

Rumblers; a very worth while investment of time and effort! They work very well in the horizontal plane. Two large propane cylinders with one end cut off and then welded together makes a very suitable drum in which bars and palings up to 5 feet long can be tumbled. The pivots/bearings only need to be pieces of pipe running in a U-shaped support or another piece of pipe, which does not need to be rigidly attached to the supporting frame thus allowing it to wobble if the pivots are not exactly true. A greasing point is required but only needs greasing after many hours of operation. On the question of noise I would not recommend the use of rubber linings at all. Just build a plywood casing with sound insulation material inside. With the lid open the noise is horrendous but when closed normal conversation resumes and one can work adjacent to the machine without irritation or even needing to wear ear defenders. Using a quantity of small steel pieces such as the punchings out of an iron worker is very important as is the speed of rotation, which needs to be such a that all the jumbles churn in a steady motion. On mine this requires between 30 and 40 revs per minute. Attaching a vacuum device to one end of the pipe/pivot is also vital as it removes all the rust dust and 99.9 percent of the fine black dust created by the removal of mill scale. Without dust extraction the work comes out covered in a filthy fine black powder and unloading the machine is a health hazard was both you and the work required a lot of cleaning. Rather than use a vacuum cleaner, the life of which I think would be foreshortened by the very fine metallic dust, and also creates a continuous annoying noise hazard, I just use a centrifugal extractor fan and the length of plastic drainpipe to blow the dust away from the working area. If the dust output were to be a problem I would fasten a canvas bag of the type used on sawdust extractors to the end of the pipe. I would thoroughly recommend you to proceed with the project as it is one of the most efficient ways of cleaning materials prior to use or finished products.
Do not underestimate the importance of using the correct abrasive media. Punchings from an iron worker work the best as initially they come with sharp edges but they do not break down and degrade into dust. A secondary but very important consideration is the fact that they are of a fairly small and uniform size which makes it easier to locate any small components that have been put in for cleaning. The idea that you can use any old bits of scrap fragments as your tumbling media often resolves in lost items or a very long and frustrating search of the resulting in a complete emptying of the rumbler. As a result of experience I will only use steel punchings. You will probably pay the price for ignoring this advice. If you need some photographs and further advice you can e-mail me.
   - Chris - Sunday, 09/12/10 10:43:07 EDT

Rumblers; Open ended rumblers and cement mixers act like megaphones and the noise is magnified to a painful level. They also emit clouds of dust. Enclosed is better. There are designs for end loading. Circular is perfectly acceptable.you are more likely to be to find a circular vessel to utilise for the purpose Initially I put in ribs to act like paddles in a cement mixer and assist with the stirring actionbut I soon removed them.I find that 15 minutes is usually enough time to remove most rust and contamination. An added bonus is the removal of burrs and sharp edges and a generally hand friendly feel to the finished items.
   - Chris - Sunday, 09/12/10 10:57:15 EDT

does coal nead constant air flow to burn
   - clayton - Sunday, 09/12/10 12:52:55 EDT

Clayton, Generally no. But it depends on the grade of coal. Coal varies in quality from highly flammable to nonburnable carbon colored shale (red dog) that is used to pave roads. Once good coal is burning it will continue to burn without a forced draft. Foundry coke on the other hand, requires a constant forced blast of air or it will go out.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/12/10 13:12:26 EDT

Question. None of my old literature mentions the subject of "thermal cycling." Yet I see on David Robertson's youtube demo that he is thermal cycling 5160 using three different heats before hardening: one orange; one dark orange; and one red. Some time ago, I was "across the street" and these knife maker guys were thermal cycling O1 which included some air cooling from incandescent heats. I wrote in to say "No." I thought that air cooling 01 caused it to harden in an unstable manner. I got kind of poo pooed on by the good ole boys club.

In any event, is thermal cycling a legit treatment on high carbon steel, 5160, or any steel? Or should I stick to my tried and true normalizing before hardening and tempering? My old Bethlehem book, "Modern Steels and their Properties" says that normalizing involves heating [certain steels] 100 -150F above critical and cooling in still air. Aside from softening the metal, normalizing imparts a more uniform grain structure prior to further processing. It "facilitates austenitizing, particularly in grades containing strong carbide-forming elements.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 09/12/10 16:46:47 EDT

Frank, My old Carpenter Steel book calls for normalising some tool steels after forging and before hardening, and suggests NOT to do it on others. Unfortunately, the book I have only coveres the AISI tool steels [and not all of them at that] and not the SAE alloy steels, so I don't have any real good info on 5160.

O1 is an oil hardening steel, just like You thought. However, thin sections MAY cool fast enough in air to harden, but why not follow the manufacturer's instructions? Some of the knife guys are using unorthodox heat treat methods, and claim they work well, but I put My trust in the companies that developed these tool steels to know best how to heat treat them.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 09/12/10 21:36:49 EDT

I found an old anvil that I would like some info on.It is hard to make out the writing on it. In the middle of the one side it looks like a big C with a line through it . On top the letters look like "scuyhed and under the line it looks like gredon1. On the front is a large 10. If anyone know any thing like it let me know.

   Harold G - Sunday, 09/12/10 21:53:51 EDT

Frank I beleive the "thermal cycling" is just a number of normalizing cycles.
   - JNewman - Sunday, 09/12/10 22:05:27 EDT

Frank, are the "good ol' boys" incorrectly using that term by applying it to their heat treating process?
I always understood "thermal cycling" to mean nothing more then the continuous heating and cooling of an object for a given amount of time and, does not necessarily refer to any kind of heat treatment, just as you have stated.

I stopped going across the street. Too many "black arts" and "black hearts"
   - merl - Monday, 09/13/10 00:01:10 EDT

Harold, Send me photos and I try to help you. Nothing sounds familiar in the what you describe but the mind tries to make letters and words out of indecipherable marks.
   - guru - Monday, 09/13/10 00:01:48 EDT

Rich - Thanks for the advice on the basin. Unfortunately, I've gone way over time on this job already and underbid it by quite a bit. It's a learning experience. I'll finish it out with what I have already cobbled together, and if another big project like this comes up, I'll make use of your helpful suggestions.
   - Stormcrow - Monday, 09/13/10 01:53:40 EDT

Tire clutch ratio question - The cousin who put together the forging press for me is now working on a power hammer for me. It's a modified Appalachian (Rusty) hammer but using a tire clutch, very similar to ptree's hammer. The ram is 75-100 lbs, with a 3 hp 3 phase motor running it. I believe it's running 1750 rpm.

Our tire for the clutch is a 19.5" diameter. What should the diameter of the contact wheel on the motor be for an appropriate number of beats per minute for this size hammer? More data needed? Can we figure a ballpark size with the current data?

Much appreciated.
   - Stormcrow - Monday, 09/13/10 01:56:14 EDT

So, when you get a chance tomorrow you should get to your local bookstore and pick up the latest copy of the Guinness World Record book. In it you will find some weird guy picking up a couple ASO's by his nipples. You can see how cluttered and crazy his workshop is!
   - Nippulini - Monday, 09/13/10 07:57:13 EDT

Sounds like the daily cartoon. . . without the weight lifting!
   - guru - Monday, 09/13/10 08:37:52 EDT

I agree with dave Boyer, when heat treating steel, I look to the professionals. As a matter of fact, I have been in contact with a metalurgist who has three consulting firms. I read off to him how some pro blade makers heat treat different steels and he would tell me they were completly wrong. Just from memory, he has told me how to heat treat several blade steels, with correct temperatures. One thing I ask him was...do I need to use cryogenic treatment on knife blades, his response was this...it's not worth your time because the benefits of cryo treating thin pieces of steel such as knife blades,is very minimal. Of course for people who do not know this, they think the process makes for a superior blade, and are willing to pay more for the process. I think knife makers in general have experimented
with different methods and then go with what has worked best. As Dave said, in order to save blood, sweat and tears, I have to go with the companies that developed these steels.
   Mike T. - Monday, 09/13/10 09:27:05 EDT

as was all ready stated "thermal cycling" as used by most knifemakers means to do multiple normalizing cycles.

this is mostly done to repair damage done by poor forging practice or to ensure that the smallest possible grain size is present. three cycles seems to be the most that is needed any thing more is just wasting heat 99% of the time. with O1 normalizing will still reduce the grain even if some air hardening may happen, but most guys never let the knife get cool enough to harden only going to a cool black heat (500-800 deg) then reheating for the next cycle, this is not something I have read about in any heat treating or metallurgy books, I had always let the knife cool to more or less room temp until I stumbled across this method and latter spoke with other knife makers that had done the same.
I teach knife making I do a demo with a old file. I break off a chunk to see the grain, then over heat it soak it at this temp and harden it. I then break it into 3 chunks the now very large grain breaking easily. I then normalize the first 1 time and harden the second 2 times and the third 3 times and break each in half to show the students the affects of normalizing on abused steel. in doing this demo and rushing for time I found that not letting the steel cool all the way down before reheating for the next cycle shrunk the grain faster than letting it cool. most times (unless I really abused the file) by the second round the grain is down to a acceptable size, and by the third it is smaller than before I abused it.(even if I really abused it)
all that being said in my own knives I only do one normalizing cycle after grinding to remove the stresses from grinding before hardening as I know I have used good forging practice and not over heated the steel. with good forging practice the last 5-6 heats are acting as thermal cycling and any grain growth from forge welding or over heating early in the forging is nullified.
   mpmetal - Monday, 09/13/10 09:52:41 EDT

I have heard "Thermal Cycling" also called "Thermal Packing". Where the old technique of "packing" by working the metal cold is mostly lost in the heat treating process and is mostly a myth, thermal packing works as noted by MP.

If you study the grain size charts the minimum grain size is exactly at the Upper Transformation temperature (A3) which is about 90°F below the normal annealing and normalizing point. If you hit this temperature range EXACTLY then you get the best results. So if you are using the blacksmiths eyeball temperature technique you need to be darn good. This is the same temperature as the non-magnetic point for steels in the 40 to 60 point carbon range but higher for lower carbon steels and slight lower for higher carbon steels. . . So the magnet test is often perfect but often not.
   - guru - Monday, 09/13/10 11:36:49 EDT

Chris; I was just given a 14' long propane tank, is this large enough or do I need to find another to weld onto it?

Or to put it another way, One smith's "large" is another smiths "small"---one friend once sent me pics of them forging 40" diameter stock, you gotta love tongs that you *drive* from furnace to hammer!

"Packing" Back in the days of wrought iron derived steels, grain growth was a big problem---probably didn't help that smiths were used to working real wrought iron and so might work steel at very hot temps indeed! Packing the edge by hammering as it cooled would help introduce dislocations that could then nucleate finer grains during subsequent heat treat.

Unfortunately the steels we've been using for about 100+ years don't need that and can do it better using a thermal cycle approach---though it does depend on the alloy! S-1 does *NOT* improve with a normalization after forging according to the ASM handbook.

Just like we don't use leeches like they used to in medicine a couple of hundred years ago we don't need to treat our steel the same way they did back then either!

   Thomas P - Monday, 09/13/10 16:44:13 EDT

Thomas: We don't? Check this out: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2004-07-07-leeches-maggots_x.htm
   - grant - Monday, 09/13/10 20:38:16 EDT

Thanks, I'll get some pictures of the anvil to you a little latter,

Harold G
   Harold Gross - Monday, 09/13/10 22:19:29 EDT

What steel is used in circular saw blades ?
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 09/14/10 10:16:38 EDT

Mike, it depends on the manufacturer, the age, quality and size of the blade. I made some tools from some 7.5" blades and it was VERY hard, nearly impossible to drill, we ended up grinding to all the shaping. I suspect it was one of those alloy steels that are difficult to anneal.

Many people will tell you this alloy or that alloy. . . unless they are THE manufacturer referring to a specific blade then it is just hot air.

Junk Yard Steel Rules apply.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/14/10 11:07:20 EDT

Grant---I didn't say we didn't use them; but that we don't use them like they did!

The WSJ had a little blurb once about an animal rights group getting wind of a place in the UK that was breeding animals for medical experimentation and so they bussed out to protest only to find it was a leech breeding facility and suddenly their protest was muted a whole lot...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 09/14/10 13:48:25 EDT

This is not a question on blacksmithing but I am wondering if the iForge how to is still going on? The last post was Nov. 8 1008
   Scotty B - Tuesday, 09/14/10 21:31:11 EDT

1008?! Man, that's some ANCIENT posting! :D

(Just joshin with ya, we know you meant 2008 :) )

   PondRacer - Tuesday, 09/14/10 22:01:29 EDT

Sorry guys, random post here, not really a question... just stopping by, glad to see you are all still here and wrangling issues of hot iron, thanks very much for all you do. I have always gone by "vorpal" here, but would like to introduce myself: Salem Straub, at your service. Check out my bladesmithing website sometime if you like.


For the record, I'd like to see some more Iforge, no offense if it's a sore issue or a big pain in the neck. Maybe I could even contribute sometime...
   Salem Straub, alias "Vorpal" - Tuesday, 09/14/10 22:26:14 EDT

Gentleman.I live in New Zealand and was recently given an anvil.I was wondering if anyone could tell the approximate age of this particular one.It has ONIONSLD stamped on it with the numbers 3 0 0.....any info would be greatly appreciated..with thanks..FES
   FES - Tuesday, 09/14/10 23:28:04 EDT

Fes, That is probably an Alldays and Onions anvil. They were a huge British manufacturer of all things metal and made a complete line of blacksmiths tools. While they were big, we do not see their tools or equipment in the U.S. Their export business was primarily with the Colonies and British Commonwealth. Quite a bit of their stuff shows up in Australia and New Zealand.

The 3.0.0 should be the weight in hundredweight. Full, quarter and pounds. In this case 3 * 112 = 336 pounds, a sizable anvil if that is correct marking.

Here is the only photos I currently have posted of Alldays tools.

Alldays and Onions Swage Blocks
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/15/10 00:45:25 EDT

Thank you for the speedy reply GURU...IT definitely only says ONIONSLD and the D is lower case.And the 300 marking is very clear (and yeah its damn heavy!)Were Alldays and Onion always in a partnership? or were they also seperate entities??...with thanks...FES
   - FES - Wednesday, 09/15/10 01:24:57 EDT

The iForge articles created a grueling work load with Wednesday and Thursday deadlines EVERY week. Every week there was image preparation, demo setup, monitoring the live demo, retrieving, editing and posting. . . It sucked up 3-4 days of every week. This also made it very difficult to keep up with work I do for a few other clients.

While I do not work less hours I do not have that deadline OR dealing with images that were often horrible and had to be individually worked on for a much as an hour.

I spend my time editing articles and setting them up every day. I recently revamped our Health and Safety page adding articles about health and diet, and one or rigging. I have spent the past couple weeks editing and setting up more anvils in our anvil gallery. I've recently added a dozen anvils to the donated image gallery and setup over a dozen more in the new Greenwood Collection.

All the images in these galleries have been very carefully adjusted, cleaned up, backgrounds removed, straightened and prepared to be the best they possibly can be. While many look like professional studio photos they are mostly from amateur photographers and usually taken in the worst circumstances (blacksmith shops, flea markets. . ).

Our future how-to efforts will focus on video. We have the new AnvilCAM-II page setup and once we get some shop projects out of the way we will start producing short video demos. However, we currently have a back log of old videos taken by Paw-Paw that have been converted to digital but are yet to be edited.

Editing video has a been a big bug-a-boo for me. On several occasions I have spent hundreds of dollars on hardware and software all for naught. The current problem is not much different than the past. I need a dedicated machine to do editing as my regular desk-top PC (now 5 years old) is loaded with software that is often incompatible with video and lacks the capacity for it. Anyone like to donate a new workstation and 24" monitor?

We've had folks volunteer to do this work but editing film is very very time consuming and requires special creative skill on top of technical skill. We've got 12 to 18 hours worth of video to pare down to about 1/3 of that or less. . Removing lead and dead time between takes is just as time consuming as editing actual scenes. Someone is going to have sit and watch that 12 to 18 hours of video several times to get the job done. . .

So, I try to avoid anything with a weekly deadline anymore. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/15/10 01:59:55 EDT

Fes, I have no Idea about the details of the company. You may be able to google it. While Onions will get you vegatables Alldays and Onions in quotes may find something.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/15/10 02:02:09 EDT

Volunteers: Besides the video editing we have ideas for a dozen blacksmith cartoons that have yet to be drawn for our cartoon page. While I can draw most things I lack the style for cartoons. You don't have to be a gag writer, just have a good cartoon style. We have the gags and rough sketches. . . IF I can find them. . .

Then there is book scanning. . . The last book we scanned had thin pages and the type on the back of the pages showed through. . . It CAN be scanned but to do so requires slipping a sheet of black paper behind each page as it is scanned - WITHOUT losing ones place. . I have several books to scan and setup. Every one of these images go through several stages of processing as well.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/15/10 02:17:45 EDT

I just had an idea. Guru, why don't you and others who have expertise in various metal working techniques make DVD's that myself and others can order. It might take several DVD's to show step by step to make a junkyard hammer, a McDonald rolling mill etc. Make it sort of like a library where DVD's can be ordered, I think paying money for information is worth it, as a matter of fact, paying for information in most cases saves money plus blood sweat and tears. Have copyrights where they cannot be reproduced.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 09/15/10 05:11:19 EDT

I have a sword with initials J.D.L. on blade. i was told this is a german sword maker. can you confirm this or tell where i might find out. sword is from arround 1820's
   robert kleinhans - Wednesday, 09/15/10 17:30:20 EDT

Robert, This is the wrong place to ask such an esoteric sword collector's question. Try SwordForums.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/15/10 20:16:18 EDT

I would like to purchase a side draft forge hood. I do not want to make one. Do you know of anyone that sells them. I live in Ohio so it would be nice to have a source near by but I can travel. Thanks, Betsy
   Betsy - Wednesday, 09/15/10 22:05:44 EDT

Betsy, I don't know anyone in particular but here are the best plans:

Super Sucker Hood:
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/15/10 23:20:23 EDT


If you're anywhere near Troy, OH (just north of Dayton), you may find one at the SOFA QuadState Roundup the weekend of the 24-26 September. There will be hundreds of people there selling blacksmithing equipment, both new and used. If you can't find one already made for sale you'll easily find someone from your area there who will make you one, I'm sure. Attendance usually runs over 800-900 registered attendees from the surrounding four states plus as far away as New Zealand. Conference info is available at www.sofasounds.com.
   - Rich - Thursday, 09/16/10 14:00:49 EDT

Try Don Stanley at dstanley@northmo.net. He had several nice stainless ones at one time and the price was reasinable but shipping was a surprise
   - Tinker - Thursday, 09/16/10 14:06:06 EDT

I'll second Quad-State and note that there is generally several of the blacksmithing supply companies selling on-site.

Otherwise taking a set of plans to the local sheetmetal company might be best.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 09/16/10 16:37:56 EDT

Betsy- I have a complete forge with a side draft hood and a hand crank blower for sale. If interested email me at bcornishATroadrunnerDOTcom. I am in Waverly, OH
   - Brian C. - Thursday, 09/16/10 18:30:12 EDT

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