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 October 8 - 15, 2010 on the Guru's Den
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Wrought iron fences- In a town in Bulgaria there is a steel fence around a park. It is made from decommissioned military weapons. The posts are gun barrels. The pickets between these are rifles with bayonets welded in place. Very interesting.

Gilders paste- I actually sent to USA (Blacksmiths Depot) to get every colour they do. I have never regretted doing that. For a really unusual effect try tempering to get a dark blue then add highlights and cover it all with a lacquer to stop the blue from rusting. I love that blue from about 250 celcius.
   philip in china - Friday, 10/22/10 21:07:21 EDT

The Long Long Long Power hammer project . . .

Finally! After many false starts and rework we RAN the anvilfire X1 hammer today. Its not quite finished and some things were jury rigged but it ran slick. Smooth, hard hitting. . We have a couple more weekends of work to do on it and we will be forging hot iron. Will have video then.

For those of you that know anything about it this was the hammer that we were supposed to debut' 2-1/2 years ago at the last CSI hammer-in. We had worked a week of all day and late nights trying to get all the parts made and just could not do it. . I really screwed up socially at the hammer-in due to being much too tired and focusing on the hammer until much to late. Since then we have only been able to work on it an average of one day a month (and many of them short days) due to various scheduling conflicts, money issues and so on.

When all is done and well tested we will offer plans. Will report on progress as it happens.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/23/10 20:45:06 EDT

If I recall correctly, a long fence around Grant's Farm in St Louis County, MO (home of the Budwieser Clydesdales) has pickets of gun barrels also (Civil War, I think).
   - Dave Hammer - Saturday, 10/23/10 22:28:18 EDT

Anybody have any experience rebuilding a 1,000+ pound Niles-Bement-Pond steam hammer? Can these run off just compressed air? Value? Assuming it needs a lot of work but the bones look good? Thanks
   dief - Sunday, 10/24/10 00:21:05 EDT

Guru, Is it possible to download your eBooks to my eBook reader?
   Carver Jake - Sunday, 10/24/10 00:49:17 EDT


I love steam contraptions. I was born just before they started scrapping the old steam locomotives. A few years later my dad took me and my sister on a ride on an old steam engine waiting to go to the scrap yard. I bet there are steam engine enthusiasts who can advise you on rebuilding the steam power of the hammer. I saw a show where Jay Leno has huge buildings filled with old industrial steam powered machines that have been restored. He also has many of the early steam cars. He has studied all of the working parts and is,it seems,an expert on these old steam engines.....Come to think of it, if you rebuild this steam hammer, I bet it would be worth plenty.
   Mike T. - Sunday, 10/24/10 05:34:32 EDT

I was watching How It's Made on TV and they were showing how reproductions of antique swords are made. I watched it carefully and when they quenched the sword, they quenches it tip first, slowly, in a boiling salt bath, then they quenched it in plain water. After sharpening it on a belt grinder, it was tested on a sheet of paper. The guy held a sheet of paper in his hand and would shear off piece after piece of paper. It looked to be as sharp as a razor.
   Mike T. - Sunday, 10/24/10 05:40:17 EDT

eBooks: Jake I know nothing about what technology your eBook reader uses so I doubt it. A quick google shows there are numerous different formats. Our system is a proprietary one that I created that was designed to work from our server and will not work on a local PC.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/24/10 09:46:38 EDT

Big Hammers: Dief, Yes, they will run off compressed air with the proper lubrication system. But what do you mean by "rebuild"? Restore a worn out machine to perfect condition? Or get an old machine to to working condition? Restoration may require machining with equipment similar to what was used to make them in the first place. There are enough of these old machines in working condition or only recently taken out of service that one should carefully select candidates for setup.

These old hammers are pretty simple devices (I have one - a 350). The major problem is rust and the degree of rust. In many cases the hammer just needs to be disassembled, cleaned and reassembled.

While these are a simple devices there is always an "I gotcha". To disassemble the hammer the ram must be disconnected from the drive rod. These are held together by a tapered fit and a locking wedge or pin. To undo the tapered fit the die is removed. The die locking wedge is often torched off flush for safety. Once the die is removed (have fun) the ram needs to be kept blocked up so it doesn't over travel. There is a hole in the ram where a heavy rod is used to push the ram off the taper. NORMALLY, this is done using the hammer itself to raise the ram slightly and drop it on the rod popping loose the taper. Once disconnected the piston and drive rod can be removed.

Prior to this point there are other things that may need to be cleaned/repaired such as the control valves and linkage. If all this is free and working and the cylinder is not locked up with rust the hammer will run. I MAY NOT run efficiently, but it will run.

The big problem with working on such machinery is the need of a facility with a sufficient crane and work space. While such things can be moved with heavy duty fork lift equipment it is not safe to try to do work with such equipment. A couple 10 ton hoists with 20 foot or more overhead lift should do it. . Then you need a crew that know how to do the rigging and safely manipulate such heavy parts. I can hook you up with such a crane. . .

Placing and setting up the hammer is a different thing. THEN there is the issue of power to run it. A thousand pound hammer will need about a 100 HP compressor.. . You can make it move with less but to do more than just raise and lower the ram a few times you need significant HP.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/24/10 10:40:36 EDT

To convert a steam hammer to air, and have any hope of usefull efficiency, the valving will need to be modified, as steam valves are made with little to no sealing internally and will howl your very expensive air right through the valve.
Steam hammers are usually set up to tup, that is reciprocate all the time in use. This keeps the steam lines valves and so forth hot. hot steam in cold lines is a recipe for diaster. Compressed air however needs to not tup, as it is a waste of air, so the tupping arangement on the valve linkage will be superflous and may be removed. Depending on the piston seals you may have to modify for elastomeric seals similar to those on a pnuematic cylinder.
Grant Sarver has madified a number of steam hammer to run on air.
   ptree - Sunday, 10/24/10 10:54:35 EDT

Congratulations on the hammer Jock- What are you going to call it-"tire hammer" name has been taken. When can we come up to watch it run?
   - Ray Clontz - Sunday, 10/24/10 16:22:08 EDT

Ray, It has become the "X1" (EX ONE, for experimental #1 like the rocket planes). It will be at least Thanksgiving before it is really finished and painted, another month before X1.b is assembled. The available time to work in the shop has made it excruciatingly slow going.

The things left to do are, thread the treadle link, complete the treadle and treadle guard (bend the tubing, fit it up, weld it), drill and tap the anvil and sow block, shorten the frame on X1.a then paint.

Originally I was going to weld on the "sow block" but we have some ideas we want to try so its going to be bolted on with a couple 3/4-10's. The frame height issue was the result of being in too big a hurry and not having even semi finished drawings two years ago. . . The hammer works as-is but it can't be adjusted for running at short stroke. Well. . . its only steel. Cut out the welds, clean up with the grinder and put it back together again. . . So today I am ordering some grinding disks for the big grinder. . . And I hope there is enough gas left to do the cutting.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/24/10 17:44:43 EDT

Bonjour, the plant I work at has a small welding shop for maintenance purposes. Sixteen months ago I spotted an anvil under a welding bench. A brand new anvil! It had a nice ring and a good bounce. I turned it upside down and drilled a shallow hole under the base with a 1/8 drill bit. The chips are steel chips. A good anvil I tought.The anvil stayed there for months, so I asked my boss if I could buy it.Still waiting an answer. But last night, navigating Anvilfire, I saw in News, vol.30, page 8, an anvil shoot.The anvils used were the same I spotted. It is written "These anvils were purchased new for the specific purpose of being shot". If a blacksmith association buys a new anvil to be used as a projectile,I suppose it is a cheap object. Why not an ASO? What should I think about that anvil simply marked 45kgs England ? Anyone ever used one? I offerded $100 for it. I already bought a 50 pounds nice looking ASO before I found Anvilfire, and I don't need another one!!
Thank you Donald
   donald - Sunday, 10/24/10 17:52:18 EDT

I have a need to apply a 'firescale', or more precisely, a fire pitted surface on a number of completed pieces of door hardware made for low carbon steel. Like many, I have seen pieces finished this way, but not observed the process. Can someone with experience advise me? Thanks
   walt myers - Sunday, 10/24/10 18:39:05 EDT

Holy crap, I had to see a video of what donald is talking about:


It sounds like a small howitzer going off.

And then I saw what is bound to happen with an activity like this:

   Nabiul Haque - Sunday, 10/24/10 20:06:19 EDT

BGoP Anvil Shoot

The folks I know that state "Anvils specifically purchased for anvil shooting" bought good steel anvils and had them X-rayed for cracks and defects. The anvils in use in the above video are old English wrought iron anvils.

ASO's are commonly cast iron and often very poor iron at that with significant inclusions (fist size lumps of sand). Many of the newer ones have diagonal hardy holes, a stupid practice.

Note that there is a big difference in anvil shoots. Most of the folks I know in the blacksmithing community are happy when the anvil travels 5 to 20 feet in the air. Makes plenty of noise and smoke. The majority of practitioners are competitive shooters. They launch anvils well over 100 feet in the air. I don't want to be within a mile of one of these shoots.

The anvil you've seen marked "45Kgs England" is probably a Brooks or Vaughan Brooks. As anvils go they are pretty ugly with a heel so thick that would hold up if cast iron. But they are good steel.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/24/10 20:58:14 EDT


This is just an idea I came up with for a fire pitted surface. Get some water fowl steel shot maybe no. 6 size or no. 9 if a smaller pit is desired and shoot the door hardware. I know this procedure is done on furniture in order to give it that antique worm hole look.
   Mike T. - Sunday, 10/24/10 21:17:20 EDT

Fire Scale Finish" Walt, Forged pieces naturally have a scale finish. Much stamped commercial hardware has the texture rolled or pressed into the surface. To any smith this looks totally fake.

To produce a forced scale finish requires heating the steel until it scales (nearly forging temperature) then hammering to break up the scale then reheating to produce more scale then hammering OR pressing that scale into the surface. This is done by hand or with flat dies on a power hammer, a fly press, or hydraulic press.

Reheating the work several times with broken scale causes variations in the scaling. Pressing the rough scale into the surface permanently deforms the surface so that even with the scale removed the texture remains. So the texture remains if descaled using chemicals or abrasive methods. This produces a somewhat aged looking surface like rusting.

If you are just looking for a textured surface you can use a strong acid or alkali (such as bleach) and let the parts etch for a day or so.

Note that we never recommend a scale finish as a final finish. Texture yes, finish no. Clean the textured steel and paint appropriately. We had a long discussion on the subject of paint and looking natural just a few days ago (look UP).

   - guru - Sunday, 10/24/10 21:27:58 EDT

I would never ever reccomend shooting steel hardware with steel shot. The rebound will fierce, and will be very dangerous.
   ptree - Monday, 10/25/10 07:18:51 EDT

Ever heard someone using a needle scaler on a metal container? It's like a bad trip, you just can't wait for it to be over.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 10/25/10 08:40:52 EDT

Textured Finishes: I've know a number of smiths that purchased power hammers for nothing more than texturing. . . Much texturing is done under power hammers with special dies. Big BLU sells several special dies for texturing but does most with a narrow fullering die. This produces a wavy hammered surface. Check their dies page. BlacksmithsDepot sells a number of hand held or hammer mountable texturing tools.

For a rough pebbly imprint a die has spots of arc weld put randomly on the surface. Some folks do the same with a hand hammer. Oddly, the work of smiths many people want to emulate was made with the goal of NOT showing any hammer marks or unnecessary texture.

On the other hand, I've produced work with a ball peen texture by hand that took a LOT of work. Doing this right requires 100% overlapping coverage of the surface as well as just the right amount of randomness. Remember the campy ironwork from the 1950's with one or two ball peen hammer marks on each piece. . . we have come a LONG way from that.

A needle scaler WOULD create some texture on otherwise smooth metal.

   - guru - Monday, 10/25/10 10:08:38 EDT

I was wondering, is the reason most smithys are a little on the dark side just because it makes it easier to judge heat colors?

   Pondracer - Monday, 10/25/10 11:36:31 EDT

I've got a small sledge hammer just for texturing, it works even on cold metal. One side I welded a bunch of uneven globs, other side I cut shallow random lines with a abrasive cutoff tool. Works good and it's fast.

I hate a factory finish on parts of forged work.
   Carver Jake - Monday, 10/25/10 12:07:15 EDT

Dark Shops:

Too cheap to put in good lighting. .

Too cheap to paint the walls once they get soot covered. .

Lots of smiths that work tool steel like a low lit shop to judge heat colors. I read about a magnet making shop that did heat treating in the dark. Workers would have to accumulate their eyes to the dark before starting. . .

But I prefer a well lit shop with light walls so you can SEE! If you can't see it, its hard to make it. Smiths that work outdoors in bright light will hold a piece under the forge hood or in a shaded bix to determine heat by eye.

To me lighting is as important as ventilation. I used to insist on good lighting and now that my eyesight is failing it is an absolute necessity.

Many of us don't do just forge work in the shop. We also saw and drill stock to scribed lines. Measuring, laying out and marking (punching) accurately requires good clear layout and visibility. It is also easier to do arc welding in a well lit shop. With near daylight lighting a standard arc welding shade can be seen through.
   - guru - Monday, 10/25/10 13:52:59 EDT

Im sort of new to all of this but does anyone here know what the best way to build an extra small forge that can fit in a surprisingly small backyard?
   grant B - Monday, 10/25/10 17:08:47 EDT

I have to take exception to the "caveman MIG welder" comment Nip.
I was a production welder for a year as part of my training at a large precision roll building shop.
While the rollers we made were not considered to be actual pressure vessels they were welded to pressure vessel standards.
The list of weld prep standards went on for three pages and the engineering and execution of the components left nothing to chance.
After everything was shrunk together and preheated the welding began. At the turn table I put journals and headers together that were later shrunk into the roll bodies and welded.
I never welded more then 15 degrees out of position. Root passes were laid down then ground out and laid down again with the prescribed number of filler and cover passes after that. Absolutely ANY chance of porosity was ground out and re-filled, the most common cause was from a fly or bee that was attracted to the ultraviolet arc light and would then fall into the weld.
I rarely had less than 500 amps dialed on and often ran at 800 amps at a 100% duty cycle ( yes, it was a really big power supply)
Water cooled gun with two radiators on it and 7/64 flux core wire.
I wore three layers of aluminized heat protection (the outer layer was replaced every shift)and I stood behind a 1/4" steel plate to protect any desire I might have for future procreational activities.
The 13 shade glass in my helmet and 2 shade safety glasses did not do enough to protect my eyes however so I'm glad I didn't have to do that for more than a year.
Ohh yes, hearing protection. Even my pair of military ear plugs probably were not enough, I should have tried to find some headphones that fit under my hood as well. Trying to hang on to a MIG gun feeding 7/64 flux core for ten hours a day was about all I could do.
I don't know how people can do that for a life time and have any thing left to retire with...
The only "caveman welders" I know of buy their welding supplies at home depot and don't need much to cover up from the 85amp max out put of their "welder".
   - merl - Monday, 10/25/10 17:36:09 EDT

GrantB---an extra small forge can be made from one soft firebrick and a standard propane torch---they kind a homeowner might use to solder a pipe with.

Not knowing WHAT you want to forge makes it hard to know if you want directions for a one firebrick forge, a bean can forge, a propane tank forge, (all propane, my propane forge sits on a gas grill cart where I removed the grill and bolted a steel plate where it had been so I can wheel it around to where I want ti---holds a propane tank too!

For coal forges the smallest I've seen working was made from a cast iron frying pan. For charcoal forges the smallest I've seen was about a quart of space.

For backyard use a quiet anvil and a non-coal smoke forge is generally suggested.

Cany you share with us more details of what you want to do?

   Thomas P - Monday, 10/25/10 18:26:04 EDT

Grant B - heres a link to a coffee can forge - pretty small



   David Knapp - Monday, 10/25/10 18:29:18 EDT

Micro Forges: If you want a small GAS forge look here.

If you want a small DIY coal or charcoal forge see our Brake Drum Forge Article

As Thomas points out, there is small, then there is super small. A jeweler's blowpipe is a type of forge (blown air + fuel). And long ago jewelers and other crafts folk used Hibachi size forges.

   - guru - Monday, 10/25/10 20:41:21 EDT

I am still using my little portable forge- pending making a new, big fixed one. If I want to see what colour steel is I just put it under the forge pan where it is in shade. That helps a lot. Otherwise my shop is very well lit. Of course I am not paying the power bill but even if I were I would still go for good levels of lighting.
   philip in china - Monday, 10/25/10 21:08:25 EDT

A few years ago, an Omani locksmith at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival used a charcoal forge built in a 7.62 (I think) ammo box. The box was largely filled with clay.
   Mike BR - Monday, 10/25/10 21:11:10 EDT

Second try at the knife I cracked back on 10/16....

Same 1" dia mystery coil spring off a train, but worked at a consistent bright orange this time, approximately 2000F from various online color charts. I moved the forge a bit closer to the anvil and was able to pull the steel out, hammer for a minute, then put it back before losing too much heat. Mind you, its a bit easier to move 1" dia spring steel by hand when its HOT than when a bit cooler.

Broke my favorite hammer's handle right as the propane bottle went dry... and that was enough forging. I did some preliminary grinding to remove scale and get it slightly more in shape, then switched bottles and heated to non-magnetic.

At this point, I learned that those little neodywhateverium magnets don't actually survive being touched to red steel.

Held it at that temp for a min to soak through [still a thick piece] and quenched in oil this time. No terrible cracking noises, thank God. While waiting for it to fully cool, I had an odd thought:

Has anyone tried [or already knows a reason why not to try] quenching oil steels in radiator coolant?

Ground the knife down into better shape, polished, and can't see cracks. Whew!

Its still ugly, being only my second knife attempt, and may never see the light of day after Friday when I butcher a lamb with it, but it WORKED!!!!!

Now sharpening and slicing paper... it gets a good edge, but remains to be seen how long it will hold one.
   MikeM-OH - Monday, 10/25/10 22:25:10 EDT

yes Nip,for sheer noise intensity trying to veeing out fatigue cracks with an air chisel inside Artic fuel tankers. The entire village can't wait for those jobs to be over!add to that high temperatures and smoke. One hot July eight hours the first day and seven hours the second day with internal temperatures ranging from 95°F to 140°F even with forced ventilation. Heating 4x2 channel redhot with big gas torches and forming it to the internal curvature of the tank bulkheads with a 14lb sledgehammerwhilst inside the tank. The only access being the 16 inch diameter man hatch in the top. Fun jobs!! I don't think. The only advantage is that it conditions the neighbours to think that anvil work is quite tuneful and harmonious.
Noise did you say? Can you type that again but a bit louder
   - Chris E - Tuesday, 10/26/10 07:27:32 EDT

MikeM---yes but why would you want to? Just a liking for toxic steam as you quench?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 10/26/10 12:02:14 EDT


If you quench an oil-hardening steel in radiator coolant you're almost certain to crack it. Radiator coolant is, generally speaking, a mixture of water and either ethylene glycol or propylene glycol plus some other wetting agents and anti-foaming agents. In other words, radiator coolant is made to transfer heat as quick as, or even quicker than, water but not freeze or boil a too low a temperature. Think about it - you've just described a quenchant faster than plain water, right?
   - Rich - Tuesday, 10/26/10 12:59:48 EDT

I would not reccomend antifreeze as a quench. In a dilute solution, beside making vapors that you don'y want to breathe, there are the problems noted by Rich.
Use straight up, ethylene Glycol is flammable.

For steels sensitive to quench cracking sometimes a polymer additive is used to "slow" down water. But this is an engineered polymer that retards the quenching action by design. They are a sticky gooey, pain in the rear, and very expensive. And if the dilution rate gets out of line, so does the quench rate, yeilding either quench cracks or softer than desired parts.
   ptree - Tuesday, 10/26/10 13:57:55 EDT

If you want a slow quench that isn't flammable, just try air. Moving air, like from a blow gun, will quench things almost as fast as oil in some cases.
   - Rich - Tuesday, 10/26/10 18:58:23 EDT

I just picked up a Peter Wright anvil. The side looks like it says Patent SOLID ROUGH 1 0 15 Is this a USA made? It has a good ring so I thought it mite be a good one??
   - Harold G - Tuesday, 10/26/10 20:33:22 EDT

I just picked up a Peter Wright anvil. The side looks like it says Patent SOLID ROUGH 1 0 15 Is this a USA made? It has a good ring so I thought it mite be a good one??
   - Harold G - Tuesday, 10/26/10 20:34:02 EDT

I have a question, I got a Peter Wright anvil today. It looks like it says SOLID ROUGH in a circle. Is this a good one and is a USA anvil? It has a good ring, the sides are wore some. It has a 15/16 hardi hole wt. is 1 0 15

   Harold - Tuesday, 10/26/10 20:40:05 EDT

Harold this is not a chat room. Post and have a little patience and someone will answer when they see it.
The side probably reads "Solid Wrought" It should be a well made English anvil
   ptree - Tuesday, 10/26/10 20:48:37 EDT

Thanks, sorry about the extara post my computer said it didn't go through
   Harold - Tuesday, 10/26/10 21:09:19 EDT

Harold, it sounds like you have a 127 lb. English made anvil. A little bigger than the one I have. It should be a very good working tool for you. PW's are one of the best.
The Guru might like to have a picture of it for his collection.
If you can give the serial number someone here can probably figure out the date of manufacture for you.
Use it in good health and happiness.
   - merl - Tuesday, 10/26/10 21:23:03 EDT

I'm not aware of Peter Wright anvils having serial numbers.
   - Rich - Tuesday, 10/26/10 21:38:42 EDT

I have a Hay-Budden Farrier's Swelled Clip-Horn anvil serial number 186978.
It is is good condition. Can you tell me what it is worth?
Dave 949 497 1158
   Dave Russell - Tuesday, 10/26/10 22:46:58 EDT

Hi again,
My Hay-Budden weighs 138 pounds.
   Dave Russell - Tuesday, 10/26/10 22:48:48 EDT

The text is "Solid Wrought" The numbers are the weight in English hundred weight (112 + 0 + 12)
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/26/10 22:49:10 EDT

Dave, It depends on where you are, who's buying and how long you are willing to wait to get your price. In the Ohio Rust Belt it would sell from $100 to $300. In California where there is a high population and few anvils double or triple that price. But if you are in a hurry you might only get $50 for it. . .

Note that old farrier anvils tend to sell for less than average.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/27/10 01:20:54 EDT

A few posts back there was some conversation on how to make iron look old. I have a friend, a fine blacksmith/sculpter that would make antique door latches and hinges on request. He would bury then in a pile of chicken crap and in no time they would look a couple of hundred years old.
   S K Smith - Wednesday, 10/27/10 07:50:27 EDT

I was very pleased on Monday. I have made a shear. It is mounted on one of my avils. I had been using it on 10mm rods which it cuts through like lightning. I had some hot 12mm x 15 mm spring steel. It went through that just as easily. I doubt if it would have done so cold though!
   philip in china - Wednesday, 10/27/10 08:59:22 EDT

Heh, chicken crap... that stuff is pretty corrosive, so hopefully it gets cleaned off real good then finished to stop any further (ie, unwanted) corrosion from happening :)

   PondRacer - Wednesday, 10/27/10 09:32:26 EDT

Small Shears I made a little shear years ago to cut 1/4" (~6mm) rod for making basket twist handles. At the time I was cutting hundreds of these 6" long pieces. The blades were two pieces of 1/4" x 2" leaf spring split to 1", with two holes drilled near each other, one for a 5/16" Grade 5 bolt and one to shear the bar. One was welded to a piece of angle iron to clamp in the vise and the other had a piece of EMT about a foot and a half long brazed to it for a handle. To support and guide long rods I added a bracket with a piece of pipe for the rod to pass through. The spring steel blades were used normalized (air cooled). A pretty ugly tool, but it worked.

As light as this little tool is, it put a surprising load on the vise it was clamped in, springing the vise and making a good "pop" when it cut. I probably cut a thousand pieces with this primitive little tool.

The trick to making one of these is to put the shearing hole(s) as close to the pivot as possible (clearing the bolt head) and for the pivot bolt to be larger then the largest shear hole AND to use a high strength pin (grade 5, 8, 9 or any hardened). The ideal off the shelf pin is a socket head shoulder bolt. These are hard, smooth and very strong.

Drilling holes in tempered spring steel MUST be done a slow speed. Electric hand drills and most small drill presses turn too fast. I used a old hand crank drill press. Lost of pressure and very low speed. They may be antiques but I find a lot of uses for them even when I have all kinds of other drilling machines in the shop.

Somewhere I picked up a nice little Diacro rod parter. It has compound leverage and holes to fit round rods from 1/8" to 1/2". Cutting 1/2" is a bit of a stretch but it pops everything else quite easily. The problem with tools like these is they need a good heavy bench to anchor them on and space to feed bar stock and space for cut pieces (at least 1.5 times the length of the bars to be cut - 10 to 20 feet).

AND while these tools are very productive you can't beat an iron worker for shearing small bar, flats and angle.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/27/10 10:37:11 EDT

I just found out that a Blacksmith can actually "ring the vesper chime" (1700s poem- The Anvil) I heard a small sample this last weekend. Where can I find Y-tube or other examples of 'playing the anvil'?
   Debby - Wednesday, 10/27/10 11:40:38 EDT

Don't know if it was ever recorded but Emmert Studebaker used to play the anvil with a light ballpein.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/27/10 12:27:26 EDT

I have LOTS of 1/4" rod from election signs (the ONLY thing I like about the season, damn the ads). I use a cold cut hardy and a 3 pound hammer. One nice whack and bend cold to break. Works pretty well for small quantities, but I'd sure like to try out a shear.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 10/27/10 12:34:10 EDT

I saw the information on the rolling mill. I can't find it to order plans. Is there more information about what all it does?
   Garry - Wednesday, 10/27/10 13:44:50 EDT

Garry, We are selling the plans but I need to get the CD's reproduced. You may contact me about an electronic download of the new production which includes the video, the reviews, the plans, images and a browser index.

The video and the reviews we have on line are about all you will find. It rolls short pieces of steel reducing them in thickness about 3/16" per pass. Hugh shows it welding Damascus (laminated steel) billets and flattening round into flat. Hugh also uses it to produce his animal head letter openers. When done forging the head he turns it around and rolls the blade in one pass.

The great advantage of these machines is they make no noise and are low horsepower for what they do.

See our AnvilCAM Rolling Mill Video
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/27/10 16:21:31 EDT

I am having a hard time getting my knives razor sharp. I am not sure if it is the bevel angle or the way I am doing it. I have a 2x72 grizzly knife belt sander. I have belts in grits of 32,60,100,120,220,30micron(400),15microns(600).
   Mike - Wednesday, 10/27/10 18:22:02 EDT

So Mike; what are you doing once you take the blades off the belt grinder?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/27/10 20:20:42 EDT

Shearing small bars in an Ironworker:

A friend of Mine was going to make a stainless grate for His gas grill. We had to shear qiite a few rods, they were about 5/32 or 3/16 diameter. I set the length stop on the ironworker, and We worked together. He held the rods 3 at a time against the stop and stacked the cut parts, and I feed the stock and operated the machine. We had them all cut in a few minutes.

He ended up scrapping the grill before He got around to making the new grate anyway.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 10/27/10 20:42:12 EDT

Mike, that machine has a buffing wheel on the other end, doesn't it? Try buffing "off the edge", being really carefull when You get to the point, rotating the knife to keep the wheel passing off the edge [At the verry point, the knife will be pointing at an angle towards the floor]. I prefer a spiral sewn muslin wheel and white "stainless" compound.

You could do as well with hand stones and a leather razor strop.

You need a small included angle for a really sharp edge, either method I mentioned will give an edge that shaves.

I have heard of using a worn out 600 grit belt charged with buffing compound followed by a razor strop, but I have not tried this Myself.

   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 10/27/10 21:03:26 EDT

I have an old cold steel tanto from 1989. I sharpened it with the belts down to 15microns. It cut paper ok, it did not really shave hair. The other knives are ones I made. They dont cut paper as well as the tanto so my angle may not be good. I have not buffed any knives yet although I have muslin and compounds. So how do I get the right angle?
   Mike - Thursday, 10/28/10 01:12:45 EDT

Mike, many bladesmiths simply judge the angle by eye and have done so for centuries. Others use an angle rest on their grinder table. Most of these are shop made affairs. Some are fixed angle and others adjustable. Many tool suppliers also sell fixtures to use with sharpening stones.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/10 01:21:32 EDT

I am judging by eye, if anyone has any technique tips I would be grateful to hear them.
   Mike - Thursday, 10/28/10 01:59:56 EDT

I guess everyone has their own method for sharpening a blade. I lay the knife flat on the stone. There will be a gap between the blade and the stone. Then I rotate the blade up and stop when the gap is closed. Then I sharpen the edge at the same angle on both sides. Use a coarse stone and then use a fine stone. I then get an old leather boot and strop it until it will shave.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 10/28/10 02:48:39 EDT

Guru, Thanks for the information. I live in Laguna Beach, California, am not in any hurry to sell.
   Dave Russell - Thursday, 10/28/10 12:02:40 EDT

why is the process of case hardening not used by knifemakers
   - gerhardt - Thursday, 10/28/10 14:21:51 EDT

induction furnaces how do they work and are thjey being used by Smiths for forging
   gerhardt - Thursday, 10/28/10 14:34:45 EDT

I don't remember how deep the maximum diffusion of carbon is when doing case hardening, but I'd imagine that the hard layer would be worn off after multiple sharpenings.
Also in todays world of machinery punching out knife blanks from sheets of metal, it is probably cheaper and faster to use steels that are hardenable from the beginning.

Induction furnaces heat up metal by inducing an alternating magnetic field in them, which produces electric fields in the material and causes charge carriers to flow. I think then it just heats up from resistance losses (electrons smashing into atoms as they try to move).
You can find information on them from google or wikipedia (not an academic source of anything, but it is great for curious people).
   Nabiul Haque - Thursday, 10/28/10 15:26:02 EDT

gerhardt, those questions sound like homework questions, which we do not answer. If not home work, let us know and we can help.
For the case hardening, think about the result of the case hardening, and think about the intended use and matenance of a knife.
   ptree - Thursday, 10/28/10 15:26:21 EDT

gerhardt, Case hardening only puts a very thin hard coating on steel. Maximum case depth before grinding of sharpening is usually .032" (0.8 mm). Thin blade edges also need to be strong and the added surface hardness does not help this to a great degree. It is said that during the 18th and 19th century trade with the native Indians in North America that cheap case hardened trade knives were manufactured for the trade. From this the the Indians learned to sharpen blades from one side only.

Induction heating is used throughout the blacksmithing industry from small shops to large commercial plants. It is a very useful tool but the entry point for small imported units is about $4,000 to $5,000 US. Larger Domestic units start at $10,000 for the smallest units. That is 10 to 1 compared to $500 to $1000 for a very nice commercial gas forge.

The advantages of the induction forge is fast heating, spot or zone heating, quiet operation, low waste heat. The disadvantage is high initial cost, high repair costs, limited capacity, tooling (making coils for specific jobs), and the learning curve.

They are a great tool in a production shop OR where open flame and exhaust is an issue. They have limited use in decorative work due to lack of flexibility. Many smiths still use coal forges because even gas forges limit the shapes of parts than can be heated.

   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/10 15:38:23 EDT

Painting galvanized sheet metal. I need to paint some galvanized sheet metal that I will use for a table shelf. I will clean it, primer it, paint it, and clear coat it. Do I need to do anything to the galvanized sheet metal prior to applying the primer?
   David - Thursday, 10/28/10 20:34:18 EDT


That depends on what type of galvanizing it has. If it is a product known as Galvanneal or Paint-Lok, then you don't need to do anything other than prime and paint. If, however, it is hot-dipped galvanized you will need to etch it first to make it ready to receive paint.

First wash it thoroughly with a mixture of trisodiumphosphate (TSP) in water until the water sheets off instead of beading up all over it. Then dry it and wet it with an acid solution to etch the zinc. Automotive paint stores sell various solutions ready-made for the task, under such names as MetalPrep, ZincPrep, etc. Or you can use straight white vinegar. Let it sit on the metal for an hour or so, until all the "shiny" appearance is gone and the surface looks dull. Then rinse well, dry and paint with a primer designed for galvanized steel. Let the primer dry thoroughly and apply two or more top coats of your favorite paint. There is no point to the clear coat if you use a high quality paint - pigmented paints are far more durable than any clear coat.
   - Rich - Thursday, 10/28/10 21:08:06 EDT

David, We used an acid etch caled "Galva Prep" it came from an auto body supply shop, but that was 30 years ago, and I believe the auto industry uses aluminised steel now.

Y ou should still be able to get a similar product, but I am not sure who from.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 10/28/10 21:08:49 EDT

Galvanized sheet metal also often has oil on it. This is more true of corogated or ribbed building material than flat but both are often oiled in the process of rolling after galvanizing. So degreasing may be step one. Acid prepaint preparations such as Ospho will etch galvanized prior to painting. There are also special self etching primers made specificaly for painting zinc.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/28/10 21:27:21 EDT

The wash with the TSP solution effectively handles de-greasing - there is very little out there that is more effective than TSP. Hence the recommendation.

Ospho is a phosphoric acid concoction that will etch the galvanizing. It also contains glycol esters that supposedly act as a sealant/prep coat for paint. The problem with glycol esters is that they are hygroscopic and will hold atmospheric moisture. If you're in a humid climate I recommend you use phosphoric without the glycol esters - GalvaPrep, MetalPrep, ZincEtch are all compounds that don't contain the glycol esters.

Self-etching primers were developed for industry to avoid one surface preparation step. They typically contain a dilute acid that *supposedly* etches the surface and then self-neutralizes. I prefer not to trust them and simply etch the metal myself, neutralize, rinse and prime. That way I *know* there isn't any active chemical left under my expensive paint job.
   - Rich - Friday, 10/29/10 08:54:44 EDT

We used self etching primer on zinc parts, not galvanized steel, and this may make a difference. The parts were small castings with machining operations so they had to be degreased. We had good results but they WERE solid zinc alloy parts. The same paint was recommended for aluminum as well as zinc.

I agree that doing the individual steps is probably best in a small shop situation. Some of the best (i.e. durable) paint jobs I've done were washed with lots of soap and water. . Often started with manually scraping off grease, using kerosene and or gunk engine cleaner followed by car wash or laundry detergent and water, followed by more water. These were jobs with no etching required.

For applying ITC products to steel they do not recommend degreasing with solvents as they just thin the oil and grease, removing some but not all. Their recommendation is to clean with a dilute solution of Clorox bleach. This both cleans and does a very light etch in the short time it is on the steel. I am not sure how it would do on zinc. Probably not a good idea.
   - guru - Friday, 10/29/10 12:07:06 EDT

Case hardening - how deep do you want it to go, what level of carbon do you want, what temperature are you willing to carburize at, and how long do you want the process to take?

Don't forget that blister steel had significant levels of carbon in the center of the carburized bars. Also, don't forget that it was a high temperature process taking days.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 10/29/10 13:23:17 EDT

Removing grease and oil from metal. Having a few years of industrial experience in removing oils and grease from metal, including cleaning piping and valves for oxygen service, I can offer the following:

The ultimate oil remover is Vapor degreasing. A solvent is evaporated with heat, and the cool part is suspended in the vapor cloud. The vapor condenses on the part and rinses off the part, with continously distilled vapor to condense on the part. Takes a very expensive machine that uses refrigeration to contain the cloud and aid the condensing part. Also usually uses very non friendly and very expensive solvents. This is a poor way to remove dirt however.

Simple solvent dip with filtered solvent. There are machines on the market that use continous filtration of the solvent to remove the oils and greases. These actually work well to wash off dirt, grease and heavy oil. Not a paint quality prep, but great for machine parts during repairs.

Hot Caustic cleaning. This is the cats meow if you have heavy dirt, oil and grease. At about 186F, a Ph of say 13.8 and good circulation a really grimey steel part will come out spotless and completey free of oil, and if rinsed and put into a phosphate conversion coating while still hot no rust. Just clean and rinse, and you can watch it flash rust before your eyes as it cools.

We ran about 6 million pounds of grimey, oily scaley forged steel parts and assemblies a month thru a "Parkerize " line. Caustic at 186F-rinse-phosphate at 186F to pickle-rinse-phoshate bath-rinse-oil dip. Leave out the oil dip and you had a great primer.

The caustic will work at room temp, just slower.
There are 3 ways to remove oil. Solvent, Caustic, or expensive ionic cleaners.
The solvents are usually flammable, and not friendly. The caustics are cheap, but hard on the users, and the ionic cleaners are the most friendly to the environment and operators but the most expensive.
Flammable solvents and caustics are Haz-waste by characteristic, and the waste streams from all are expensive to deal with.
   ptree - Friday, 10/29/10 14:17:02 EDT

Can you let me know the best way to sell two storage sheds full of blacksmith tools that a bank has repossesed? I would appreaciate it.
   Richard Burns - Friday, 10/29/10 15:23:20 EDT

Hello all,

Im up here in Canada and have been interested in blacksmithing as a hobby for some time and am just starting to build my first forge. I have gone through the Iforge demos in their entirety and have found them to very inteteresting. With all of that said, as I have no experiance in this craft I am trying to find some sort of association or group that may offer workshops or classes for the beginner. If anyone has any ideas or able to point me in the right direction it would be appreciated.

   Matt - Friday, 10/29/10 15:37:06 EDT

Selling Blacksmith Tools: Richard, It depends on what the goal is and how much time you are willing to put into it and how much is owed. Some things to know.

1) New blacksmith tools are still made.

2) Old blacksmith tools, while rusty and dirty are still worth as much or more than NEW tools. Some were better made, some are collectors items. Everyone hope to buyt things at 10% of their value but that is no longer the reality unless you are a "finder".

3) Selling as a lot will get you about 1/4 of less of their current market value.

4) To get the highest prices each item should be cleaned, photographed, identified for the ad and listed on ebay. Expect to need to relist every item at least once. This also means shipping many individual heavy items all over the world.

Advertising in the local paper will often get a lot of response.

Blacksmithing tool prices depend a lot on the region they are being sold in. In Ohio prices are low due to be the heart of the old rust belt. In California where there was not a loe of early industry and there is now a high population prices are high. In your area, Kansas, the rural open spaces make it a place that prices are high due to rarity (good for you).

Normally I would send you to your local Blacksmithing Organization but I think Kansas is one of the few places that do not have one.

If you have an inventory of what you have I can help appraise it.
   - guru - Friday, 10/29/10 16:30:49 EDT

SMithing in the Great White North: Matt, There are quite a few Canadian smiths and there are Canadian blacksmith organizations. But Canada is a big country. They may be close OR quite far. Try our ABANA-Chapter.com page for Canadian group listings. Try the CanIron site as well. A new one should be coming up next summer.
   - guru - Friday, 10/29/10 17:06:50 EDT

Matt, the WDM in Saskatoon offers one of the best beginning blacksmith courses in the country.
   JimG - Friday, 10/29/10 19:38:32 EDT

Has anyone ever bought a new Swedish Kohlswa anvil? If so, where did you get it? I have contacted Kohlswa thru email, but I have not gotten a response.
   Jon - Friday, 10/29/10 20:43:38 EDT

Jon, There is one distributor of Kohlswa anvils in the U.S., Kentucky Farrier Supply. But they are hard to contact, their web listings are for old non-existent URL's. . .

I've had two Kohlswa anvils. My first anvil was a little Kohlswa I bought at auction in a little country blacksmith shop. It apparently was a replacement as the stump was for a larger anvil and the relatively new anvil was significantly chipped on the far side (probably from strikers). I used it for several years then sold it during a weak moment. My second Kohlswa was purchased at another auction. It is a 300 pound American pattern I found in the welding shop of a small foundry and ironworks. It too has slightly chipped edges.

My old Kohlswas are a bit too hard and ring very loud. They were made prior to Kohlswa becoming an employee owned company. Centaur Forge anvils were made by Kohlswa up until shortly after the reorganization. Bill Pieh of Centaur was not happy with their service and stopped having them made.

They are a lot of trouble to find and purchase at this point and there are many other suppliers with just as good of better anvils ready to ship today. So why worry with the hassle? Blacksmith Depot and Centaur Forge will load you up with as many anvils as you can truck away. . .
   - guru - Friday, 10/29/10 23:09:11 EDT

Thanks guru. I'm located in Arnprior, Ontario just outside of Ottawa (nations capital) so saskatoon may be a little far!! I will take a look at the ABANA site and CanIron. I am only about 2-3 hours from Syracuse NY so that may be antoher option.
   Matt - Saturday, 10/30/10 13:31:49 EDT

The next Caniron will be held in Fergus Ontario this summer coming up. The site has onsite camping and there is lots of other accommodation in the area. You should do your best to make it to this as it will be another 8-12 years before it's in Ontario again. That being said I have enjoyed going to them in Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Vancouver Island.

Matt you should join The Ontario Artist Blacksmith Association. We have several members in the Ottawa area. About 80% of the members are on the west side of Toronto or near Toronto so that is where most of the meetings are however we do have meetings up your way. There are some members who do have some regular smaller gettogethers just east of the Peterborough area, which while not close is not that far either.
   - JNewman - Saturday, 10/30/10 15:07:32 EDT

Close and Far. Just a few decades ago many of us would travel 100 miles or more to visit with another blacksmith. Today there are enough smiths and enough organizations that in some areas you could go to meetings every weekend of the month in that radius. There is also a glut of blacksmithing schools. Enough that many cannot fill all their classes. Others are banking on local trade but that is a limited student population.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/30/10 15:38:33 EDT

I have to laugh when I see people complaining that it is a two hour drive to get to a meeting. Takes me two hours just to get through the airport so I can then sit through anywhere from six to twelve hours of flight time to get to a meet or conference.

If you really want to pursue this art/craft/profession you have to be willing to do what it takes. Go to meetings and conferences, get the proper equipment, spend the many hours necessary to perfect techniques, etc. Like anything else in life, if it was easy everyone would do it. Blacksmithing is NOT a pursuit for the lazy.
   - Rich - Saturday, 10/30/10 16:46:25 EDT

I was able to build my first propane forge thanks to this site's excellent info and advise from the community. I recently got a new 0-60 psi propane regulator with gauge and now I'm having trouble finding just the right setting to get the most heat. I have a venturi style burner and i am aware that cranking the pressure all the way up would be dumb. It seems hottest between 15 and 25 psi but I'm having trouble narrowing that margin. Are there ways other than just color or buying a $500+ instrument? If any one has ideas they would be greatly appreciated.
   Sean - Saturday, 10/30/10 22:22:47 EDT

There is no blacksmith group in the virgin islands??
   - Barney - Sunday, 10/31/10 00:49:35 EDT

Sean, Economy says use as little gas as possible. You generally want a good forging heat but not a welding heat most of the time. If you are forging relatively heavy pieces with quick turn around such as with a power hammer then you want to run hotter.

The trouble with home built forges is they ALL have different characteristics. An obstruction or small orifice may mean that you need to run 30 PSI to get enough gas in the burner. Optimally built burners may run on 4 to 7 PSI. But at those pressures your gauge may be off by half unless it is a 25 PSI max unit.

So all you can do is tweek and pay attention. IF heats are taking too long or are not hot enough then boost the pressure. If you get a near welding heat all the time then back off unless you need to weld.. .
   - guru - Sunday, 10/31/10 04:55:41 EDT

Sean.... I suggest that you try managing your propane by volume, rather than just pressure. Put a good needle valve (like Alcon) on the top of your burner and crank your regulator all the way up. Tweak the flame by adjusting the needle valve.
   - Dave Hammer - Sunday, 10/31/10 07:10:06 EDT


If you really want to get picky about your forge's performance, check out the book "Digital Temperature Control for Gas Forges" by Whitney Potter. Available at Artisan Ideas:
   - Rich - Sunday, 10/31/10 07:36:02 EDT


You haven't mentioned this, but the hardest (and most critical) part of tuning a venturi-based gas forge is getting the mixture right. Once you do that -- it could require adding or adjusting a choke or changing the orifice size -- the rest is pretty easy.

Assuming the mixture's right, you just need to remember that propane that burns outside the forge is wasted. So if you get a significant amount of flame coming out the door, you've probably got the pressure up too high. Outside of that, just use enough pressure to get your work as hot as you want it as fast as you want it, and no more. Of course, reasonable expectations help. . .
   Mike BR - Sunday, 10/31/10 09:09:36 EDT

As one always benefits from trying to create every oppertunity to pursue a passion, we must not judge them. For example: a young person may not have transportation to go many hours or continents away to meet with blacksmithing groups. Not everyone has the same financial means, enviornment or free time as someone in another circumstance. Though, the above post makes a good point to perservere for the desires of ones heart we need to be mindful and not to be harsh in judgements of others.
   - pacopperlock - Sunday, 10/31/10 23:02:37 EDT

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