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This is an archive of posts from September 16 - 21, 2010 on the Guru's Den
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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

Betsy; unless you are willing to pay international shipping it would be polite to give at least what country you are in.

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

Thomas, Betsy said she is in Ohio. . . Yeah, I know there is one in Japan. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 09/16/10 17:18:45 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

I have a frend of the shop that is restoring a grand piano. he has a question he wants me to ask.

What is "bell metal"

I belive tis a type of malable cast iron. True ?

Heres another ,I have a few lumps of "FX" tool steel.
Would this be a good choice for power hammer dies?
I think they came from a forge shop.

Thanks for any help.
   Dirty Dan - Thursday, 09/16/10 21:11:20 EDT

I just did a search for Bell metal and it got my answer to the first . But not the 2nd.

   Dirty Dan - Thursday, 09/16/10 21:19:50 EDT

Thank you Rich and Thomas for the suggestion of Quad-State. That is where I got the hood I have now. As it began falling apart, I checked at the conference several years but have not been able to find anyone selling them. I may try again this year. It is a wonderful conference so I enjoy going. Betsy
   Betsy - Thursday, 09/16/10 23:10:12 EDT

uesing my furnes tonight i ran into a problem. i lit my coal and all was good. withen 10 minets the cheries ran to the top of the coal pile then went out. the bottom of the pile was cold. (what happend). this was my first time on a real furnes. its the kind witt the bucket in the middle of the table. air flow under the bucket and under that is the ash drod (what happend)
   - clayton - Thursday, 09/16/10 23:37:37 EDT

i ment forge not furnes same thing thow i think
   - clayton - Friday, 09/17/10 01:23:49 EDT

Forge/Fuel Problems: Clayton, Forges have a lot of differences. Some work well, some do not. Coal is even more variable and I suspect that may be your problem. Some coal is very low quality and does not burn well or completely. Very poor coal will flame and smoke a short time leaving behind large dense clinker.

If the problem is not your forge (its a commercial product or proven design) then get some coal of known quality. Centaur Forge and Blacksmiths Depot (advertisers) both sell high quality coal. Order a bag and try it. This will give you a point of comparison.
   - guru - Friday, 09/17/10 01:45:54 EDT

FX Steel: Dan, Any steel of unknown providence is Junkyard Steel. If it did not come up in a google search then you are on your own.

That said, IF it is in fact, TOOL steel, then it will be suitable for power hammer dies as long as it is properly heat treated. When the steel is unknown then softer is better. Soft hammer dies wear, over hard dies crack and spall.

Power hammer dies for small hammers have been made from 4140, H13 and S7. All work.
   - guru - Friday, 09/17/10 01:53:10 EDT

I've used literally tons of a forge die steel from Finkl Forge known as Finkl FX. This was pretty much the standard of the forge industry for fifty years. They bill themselves as the "world's leading supplier of forging die steels". Finkl.com. Similar to H-11, a step up from H-13.
   - Grant - Friday, 09/17/10 03:34:14 EDT

The axle forge shop used Finkl FX die steel as well, also be the ton. The Finkl and sons has a great calander each year with old forge shop photos.
   ptree - Friday, 09/17/10 06:02:25 EDT

Finkl FX Die Steel: I went brain dead on the FX steel. Finkl's steel making process is THE die steel described in all the forging literature, forged and scrupulously heat treated, marked with batch numbers.
   - guru - Friday, 09/17/10 11:44:47 EDT

how is kimmels blacksmithing coal, peremium bituminous
   - clayton - Friday, 09/17/10 12:48:25 EDT

What is the best type of hacksaw blade to use for sawing hardened steel, specifically, vintage saw plate Rc hardness 50-54? Plate thickness is anywhere from .015-.042.
   c. Pennington - Friday, 09/17/10 12:55:52 EDT

What does the
   - Travis - Friday, 09/17/10 13:54:46 EDT

What does the "40" embossed on the front leg of a Fisher Norris represent?
   Travis - Friday, 09/17/10 13:55:14 EDT

Travis, 400 pounds.
   - guru - Friday, 09/17/10 14:49:43 EDT

Mush appreciated there Guru. I just picked it up this morning and it was advertised as a 300# Fisher, but seen that and was thinking that might have to do something about the weight. Was goin to a heavy duty scale and get an accurate number. It is an 1918, and in good shape. Used but not abused by any means. What is somehting like that going for these days?
   Travis - Friday, 09/17/10 15:00:04 EDT

Hack Saw Blades: C Pennington, For hardened steel you want the best HSS edged blades you can find in the right pitch. I prefer as coarse a pitch as possible but in the thickness you are working you will need 18TPI blades. If you can get those with set teeth rather than the wavy bent edge they cut better.

Lubricant will also make the blades last longer on hardened steel. Wax, oil even spit is better than nothing. A heavy duty hack saw frame also increases blade life.
   - guru - Friday, 09/17/10 15:06:05 EDT

Prices: Travis, some folks prize Fisher anvils because they are quiet and other wouldn't have one if you gave it to them. Depending on where you are $1 to $2/lb. or more.

Coal: Clayton, I'm not familiar with that brand but bituminous (soft) coal is the right type.
   - guru - Friday, 09/17/10 15:26:46 EDT

Fishers usually go for a bit under what a Trenton or Peter Wright does; but that's an oddity of the market cause since I got my big one I haven't used either of the others save under unusual circumstances!

   Thomas P - Friday, 09/17/10 15:57:57 EDT

Perfect! I got it for .75/lb. I told my dad I would trade him straight across for his 424# Hay Budden, that is crisp. You know what reply I got there.
Thanks for the info, good site you folks have.
   Travis - Friday, 09/17/10 17:58:35 EDT

C Pennington: I know You specificly asked about hack saw blades, but thin hard material is better cut with an abrasive cutting wheel, mounted on an angle grinder, or in a junky tablesaw with all the saw dust removed.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 09/17/10 20:21:25 EDT

Hello. I am trying to find a spring for the junkyard hammer which I am building. Any suggestions where to get one? I could order one from the Little Giant Company in Nebraska, but they cost $67. Any help would be appreciated.
   RG - Friday, 09/17/10 23:10:31 EDT

Springs: RG, One of the largest stock spring companies is Associated Spring http://www.asraymond.com/spec/ Their web site is dismal but they have a fine catalog.

McMaster Carr has spring and CAD drawings of same. A 5/8" wire 8" long compression die spring is $98. See 9622K74. That is about the size of a 50 lb. Little Giant Spring if I remember correctly. But you are not replacing a Little Giant spring.

   - guru - Saturday, 09/18/10 00:21:32 EDT

Saw the plans for a charcoal retort, and that got me wondering:

If it is hard to find coke in a certain area, could one make a coal retort so that they could coke the coal down en masse so as to get a more consistent and hotter fire instead of having to constantly coke down the coal on the forge and use the coke from that process?

Im aware that one may not get as consistent results as if the coke was made commercially because they would have much better ways to more tightly control the process to get consistent product.

Just an exercise in academic though. :)

   PondRacer - Saturday, 09/18/10 04:46:12 EDT

Making coke in bulk creates a huge amount of air pollution. . . Smiths normally make a small batch of coke at the end of the day OR if you have a large fire at the end of the day and put it out there is significant coke for the next day.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/18/10 08:09:06 EDT

I noticed there were a couple of coke plants in Birmingham, Al. Might inquire if they would sell small amounts ie.-pickup truck load or so.
   Mike T. - Saturday, 09/18/10 21:20:38 EDT

Ive been trying to find blacksmith schools or classes or information in my area Moline, Illinois, and I havent been able to find a single thing hopefully you can help
   conjuice - Sunday, 09/19/10 00:10:15 EDT

Conjuice, The most thorough list is on the ABANA web site. But there are not schools in every state. There are many more now than a decade ago but then there was only three or four really good schools. People from all over the world have traveled all the way to New Mexico to go to Frank Turley's School. Another decade earlier folks would travel hundreds of miles just to meet with another blacksmith.

Your other option is to attend one of the many blacksmith association meetings. Your local association is the Illinois Vally Blacksmith Association. www.illinoisblacksmith.org. They and others can be looked up on ABANA-Chapter.com. Most of the chapters have monthly meetings with demos and quests are invited to attend free. But for a very small membership fee you can take part in hands on lessons at some meetings. If you are willing or able to travel a bit you can stay busy at meetings every weekend in many areas. These are the best place to meet other smiths, find equipment and where to get supplies locally.

Then there are regional meets. The BIG one coming up next weekend is SOFA Quadstate in Troy Ohio. Besides world class demos this is THE big tool flea market of the year. You can completely outfit a dozen shops with what you will find at Quadstate. See our NEWS for previous years events.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/19/10 07:54:52 EDT


I just wanted to thank you for something you posted years ago. I had a pinhole leak develop in a piece of copper pipe in my basement ceiling. I cut a hole in the drywall to gain access, and found a piece of BX cable laying across the pipe just where I wanted to splice in the new length.

I remembered you telling how you had a customer buying kaowool for temporary heat protection when field welding. I was able to lift the BX enough to slip a piece of kaowool between it and the pipe, and then sweated the joint with no problem.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 09/19/10 09:18:18 EDT

Mike, Glad it was a help! We sell a case or 10 foot roll every couple months to various plumbers OR folks selling to plumbers. Of course copper pipe is disappearing fast and except for repairs it does not get used nearly as much as it used to.

   - guru - Sunday, 09/19/10 11:06:19 EDT

RE mike BR
when you reassemble you drywall be sure to move the BXcable and pin it up so it is not touching the pipe , it is a good chance that is what caused the pin hole in the first place, copper touching steel is asking for problems even more so if the sheathing has been used as a ground and is there for "hot"
when I redid some of the plumbing in my house I found this problem in at least 3 spots all of them had been leaking.
   mpmetal - Sunday, 09/19/10 11:55:58 EDT

We've been using Finkl FX in our hammers for years because it’s much more reasonably priced then H-13. It's my understanding from talking to their Metallurgist and Salesmen FX die steel is a proprietary blend and a modified form of 4340 alloy.

What the heck I never got a calendar.
   Bruce R. Wallace - Sunday, 09/19/10 14:35:19 EDT

Me either and I arranged for them to contact Richard Postman about using the "Last Anvil Makers" image on a calendar a few years back. .
   - guru - Sunday, 09/19/10 15:45:02 EDT

Thanks, MP. I'll take your advice, though the pipe wasn't actually leaking where the BX crossed. (I'd had trouble with that run before, so replaced it nearly to the tee at the end. Probably should have changed the tee as well, but you've got to stop somewhere. . . .) Can't hurt to be safe, though.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 09/19/10 18:23:07 EDT

One reason to keep them from touching is stray ground faults that could cause accelerated corrosion, not just at the point of contact but all through the plumbing.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/19/10 20:05:45 EDT

Mike BR: If You have well water or spring water, check the PH. If it is acedic [as Mine is] You would be better off to install a neutralising system . Ours is a metering pump that runs with the well pump to inject a basic solution into the water stream.

We used to inject chlorine with this system too, but now We use UV to take care of the vitamines S,H,I & T.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 09/19/10 22:15:17 EDT

Bought a peter wright at a yard sale, i knew what i was looking at its a 1112 or 152 lbs. I'm trying to figure out if i want keep it, or keep trying to find a larger one. email me if interested in photo, I kind of curious to see what you all think.
   - Ben - Monday, 09/20/10 03:13:35 EDT

Ben, Folks can't email you without an e-mail address. . .

152 pounds is a very nice weight. Its at the top of the portability range (depending on your condition). This makes it nice to haul to jobs, move in and out of the garage if you are a "weekend warrior", take to demos. . . Its heavy enough to do most general work on the lighter side. PW's were one of the top quality anvils and most recognized brand.

It is also good trading material or a good size to resell on short notice (better than cash in the bank). I suspect you did not overpay for it so there is room to make a profit.

You may also find that larger anvil tough to find OR tough to find at an affordable price. But if you are really not happy with it and want a much larger anvil then sell it.

I worked for several years on a 100 pound anvil and then upgraded to a 128 Mouse hole (which was more effective mass than the first so it was more like going up to a 175). It was many years before I upgraded to a 200 and I have not worked full time as a smith since I got my 300. . . While bigger is better, you use what have.

I sold off all my small anvils back just before anvilfire to launch another business. . . it did not work. It was only later that I realized the two large anvil's I'd kept were not portable. I have since obtained a couple small anvils.
   - guru - Monday, 09/20/10 08:26:09 EDT

i am from Brooklyn, New York. I need to have steel and or iron bowl molds forged. The bowls need to be flat sided trapezoidal shaped and forged out of one piece of sheet steel or iron. I will supply a 3-D form and a measure drawing. Do you have any suggestions of blacksmiths in my area where can i get this done though.
That and which of the metal alloys has a higher melting temperature iron or steel because i will be using the forged molds to bend glass and glass melting temperature is roughly 2100 degrees?
   MIke P - Monday, 09/20/10 10:29:31 EDT

Glass Slumping Molds: Mike, You might try New York Designer Blacksmiths. But this may be more of a job for a steel fabricator that has rolls or a press brake. Its hard to say without specifics. But I envision a rolled shell, welded and then finished smooth.

Steel softens and become plastic around 1800°F but holds its shape unless under significant load. If actually starts losing strength at around 600°F. But most molds do not need to be the full temperature of the substance being molded in them. What is important is that the mold is heavy enough to do the job. You say "sheet metal" where I suspect what you need should be fabricated from 1/4 to 3/8" thick plate.

The thickness does two things. One, it is initially stronger, two it takes longer to get hot from the work. Thin sheet may reach the same temperature as the glass you are slumping but heavy plate would only get warm.

"Steel" is what all you common glass handling tools are made of. It they are delicate there are high temperature tool steels to make them from. But molds would be common "mild" steel.
   - guru - Monday, 09/20/10 13:55:22 EDT

commercial glass slumping molds are almost always ceramic.
However, sometimes stainless steel is used.
Solid Graphite is also used for glass blowing and slumping molds, which is usually machined to its final shape.
I have seen one very famous glassblower use one time only molds of hardwood, as well.

But mild steel is not a very common material for this.
The major glass supply companies all sell ceramic molds, and would be the first place I would ask for custom molds- places like Bullseye, Blue Fire, and Slumpys come up in a quick google.
   - ries - Tuesday, 09/21/10 13:38:36 EDT

All of the production slump and blow molds I've worked on with Jack Slack were machined from cast iron.
   - grant - Tuesday, 09/21/10 15:18:06 EDT


Sword enthusiasts.
I don't want to mess up this forum with a long url but google "sword from meteorite". This guy is apparently doing it.
   - Tom H - Tuesday, 09/21/10 17:19:29 EDT

Well shucks.
And it was write hear that i herd to "Poof then prost".
   - Tom H - Tuesday, 09/21/10 17:21:13 EDT

Glass blowing molds were also made of wood, primarily Dogwood. The materials used are a matter of production rates (or durability) and required finish.

Cast iron was used for many things that needed a large metal piece that needed limited strength. One off castings could be obtained on short notice at low cost almost anywhere there was industry. Today that is no longer true. Today when large pieces of cast iron are needed you can purchase continuous cast bar stock. But it must be machined to shape. If the damping is not needed or other specific properties of cast iron then a fabricated form may be more economical
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/21/10 18:44:25 EDT

Grant et al., Jack Slack! He was an old Turley grad! Also, Roy Bellows and Karl Hammer. Frank Farrier almost signed up, but I couldn't talk him into it.

I visited Jack years ago when he had a small retail store at a Pike's Market mall in Seattle. He had made an electric forge, so that he could heat many small pieces at once.

   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 09/21/10 19:11:20 EDT

I don't know a slump mold from beans, but the glass envelope factory I toured years ago had a ribbon cast machine that made the glass envelopes for incandescent lamps. The two part molds that the glass ribon slumped down into, and were then gently inflated while the mold spun very fast. The molds were water cooled and good old cast iron. Had the gear teeth built in to allow the spin. This GE factory, in downtown Lexington KY had 2 of the machines and made something like 6000 envelopes an hour.
That tour would have been about 1978. Part of a manufacturing Processes class at UK.
   ptree - Tuesday, 09/21/10 19:45:32 EDT

Tom H, I happen to be a member of the Indiana Blacksmithing Association, and my local sattellite group is called "The Southern Indiana Meteor Mashers", since our ForgeMaster, Billy Merrit of English Indiana often forges swords using iron/nickle meteorite in combination with other metals.
Billy is known as "The King of Junkyard Damascus" and can weld almost anything to anything in the forge. His favorite demo is to weld at temp's experienced smiths say is too cool, using a hammerhandle to strike the steel. That is right, the handle is used, and it has no head.
He makes wonderful pattern welded knives and is an excellent teacher. He is very willing to share of his knoiowledge. I am proud to share a forge with him from time to time.
   ptree - Tuesday, 09/21/10 19:53:27 EDT

Diamond Glass a jar & bottle manufacturer in my area [now closed] used cast iron of some sort for production glass molds. These were machined to finish size. I never worked there, so I don't know any details.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 09/21/10 21:51:46 EDT

The very well known glass blower I know, uses multi-sectional bronze molds held in a hinged steel frame (made by me) for his molded work. His work can be seen at www.hotglow.com
He does some truly stunning work but, I just can't abide his obsession with corn...
   - merl - Wednesday, 09/22/10 01:18:32 EDT

Glass slumping:

There are a few different ways to slump glass, depending on what you're working with and what you're trying to achieve. The glass can be put in the furnace on top of the mold and then both are brought up to heat and then allowed to cool slowly for annealing of the glass. Alternately, the glass can be heated to just barely plastic and then placed on a *pre-heated* form and pressed to conform to it, then the glass is annealed in the usual fashion. This method is commonly used when you want to impress a texture from the form into the glass or when many pieces are run in a series. Of course, glass can also be slumped free-form without a specific mold/form, though the results aren't perfectly replicable that way.

In the little bit of slumping I've done, I mostly used forms made of refractory plaster or welded steel plate. The forms had to be pre-heated to prevent shocking the glass since I was dealing with relatively thin (1/8") stained glass or float glass. Perhaps much heavier glass could be slumped against a cool form, but I'd be very leery of it.
   - Rich - Wednesday, 09/22/10 09:25:53 EDT

The steel and ceramics industry use ITC-213 to coat steel and prevent oxidation in high temperature environments and to reduce slag from sticking. In crucibles they use a top coat of ITC-296-A to reduce sticking or metal and slag. Sounds like glass molds might be a good application.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/22/10 10:55:06 EDT

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