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This is an archive of posts from October 24 - 31, 2011 on the Guru's Den
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Shop Size : I bought a 10 X 12 building about 3 years ago, and thought at the time it would be big enough ( maybe too big ) for a knife shop. After having work benches built and all of the power tools placed on them, I found out I had under estimated the size needed. Besides the tools, you have to alot for the work space between them ( the ones bolted to the benches ).
   Mike T. - Monday, 10/24/11 00:23:22 EDT

Shop Size : I started out in a 20' ISO container, Sort of cramped for some work. (aside from a friend on occasion I worked there alone)Headroom wise OK if I did not need to really pound something. I usually make knives and trinkets so that was not much problem.
The forge, anvil & vise was closer to the doors, I could leave them open if weather is good.
I built an awning over the front doors too as added weather protection. A lean-to addition along one side carried stock racks, coal bags, and assorted gardenshed stuff.
Toward the rear along the wall was the benchgrinder & small pillardrill. the opposite wall held a bench and machinist vise where I could sit to perform the cold work, fit & finishing. It worked fine for the time. Unfortunately, he set-up was not permitted where I lived, But as the yard was not visible from the street,I think I skated by on good luck.
   - Sven - Monday, 10/24/11 00:48:24 EDT

My shop was 20'x30' with 10' tall side walls; however the hot work section was about 10' by 10 foot with a work bench, a tool rack, a row of anvils and a smaller post vise bench. All the rest of that space was storage and set ups for non-hot working of metal.

I've gone and doubled it with the new extension dedicated to "dirty deeds done dirt cheap!" so the coal forge, grinding, etc resides out there and currently I still have it so I can park my truck inside it as well so I can load/unload in the shade. (we're under 4" of rain for the year here so far!)

Look into the concept of the Work Triangle You would like your forge, anvil and postvise to be at most 1 step away from each other for small work. For large work when you need to swing a 20' length of stock look into finding a nice tree and scheduling such work for non-winter/non-rainy times
   Thomas P - Monday, 10/24/11 14:00:37 EDT

SHOP SIZE : Many people are saying this in various ways, but I want to emphasis one point. GET STARTED :-). Start with what ever you have, and can afford. I started with a poor man's charcoal forge that I moved out to the edge of the garage (outside), a couple of hammers, my grandfather's cast anvil. Next step was to put plywood around the forge to cut down on sunlight. I have slowly built up to a two car garage, better equipment and a power hammer. No iron would have ever got hot if I waited to have what I do now before I started. It also allowed me to find my own preferences.

Good luck.
Milton Rodewald
   Milton R. - Monday, 10/24/11 16:06:54 EDT

Shop size : My shop is located in the basement of a 40x60 Haybarn, forty five feet tall. When I first set up my shop, I had to remove all the horse stalls, stanstions for cows, etc. The channels in the floor on both sides, called "barn cleaners", one foot deep by one foot wide, lended themselves perfectly to pouring foundations for leg vises and such; then I filled in the rest of the barn cleaners with concrete. The one vexing thing about such an arrangement was bringing in my williams and white 200 pound triphammer. The ceilings in the basement were only seven feet high, and the hammer was nine feet high. These old barns hat a square hole where you tossed bales of hay into the basement to feed the livestock. So what I did was to lay this huge hammer down sidewayes with a rollback truck, drag it under the hay hole, then, with a towtruck upstairs with a boom cable winch, stand the hammer up in the hole. When we did this in 1977, the hammer wedged into the hole and wouldn't stand up, even though I measured the job beforehand within an inch of its life. Solution: my MOTHER was wearing steel toed boots, kicked the hammer at the base, and it stood right up in the hole!
   stewartthesmith - Monday, 10/24/11 17:00:54 EDT

Stewart : Your mothers steel toed boots reminds me of an old song..." When I dance with my baby, she gives me the blues, because she steps on my feet with her old army shoes " Brings a tear to your eye. :-)
   Mike T. - Monday, 10/24/11 18:08:31 EDT

You can forge using a hole in the ground for the forge and a rock for an anvil. Many people get hung up wanting the "BEST" set up or equipment or ... never realizing that the most important thing to be able to do good smithing is *PRACTICE*!
   Thomas P - Monday, 10/24/11 19:27:02 EDT

The Best : Thomas P. You are absolutely right. BB King said when he was a young boy, he couldn't afford a guitar so he stretched a clothes line wire between the porch posts and strummed on it. Alvin taylor couldn't afford a set of drums so he beat on cardboard boxes with broken tree limbs, he later became Little Richards drummer ( actually Little Richard payed for Alvin to finish school ).
   Mike T. - Monday, 10/24/11 21:18:06 EDT

Gunsmithing : I know this topic has been discussed here more than once, but I can't find it archived so I'm hoping someone else's memory is better than mine. I've always had the idea that when I had time and resources I'd like to build a set of two matching smoothbore flintlock dueling pistols completely from scratch (forge welding the barrel, making the lock from scratch etc.). Does anyone know any good resources (books, websites, etc.) on gunsmithing (more on the primitive side than the modern)? This will be one of those projects that will probably drag on for years but it's something that I really want to do. Any help will be appreciated!
   - Jesse F. - Monday, 10/24/11 21:47:30 EDT

Gunsmithing from scratch : Jesse, we discussed this in the last month and I have not posted the archives.

A good place to start is the Dixie Gun Works catalog. Lots of books, materials (plans). I have a long rifle plan from them I bought 35 years ago.

Most gunsmithing books are about modern arms but have good information. There are some on specific topics such as bluing that apply. Heat treating is important for the springs and machinist measuring and layout techniques are important as well. Often small foundry work is part of the task as well as fine wood work. Each is a specialty area with plenty of references available.

In our discussion it was recommended to try building a kit as a starter project. Kits avoid all the complicated operations BUT leave all the picky fitting and finishing. If you can't do a good job on a kit then doing it from scratch is not something you want to try. A kit also gets you familiar with ALL the bits and pieces. As an educational part of such a project I would suggest making formal detailed drawings of all the parts including tolerancing. Yes, the kit will not come with such fine detail but if you are going to make your own you need to be able to figure it out. Then the NEXT one you build you might try buying a barrel and a lock and making all the rest of the parts from scratch. . .

Most makers use factory barrels OR barrels drilled from solid. If you want to make a barrel from scratch its possible to drill your own barrel on a small lathe OR build your own boring machine. You will need to build your own rifling machine if you want a rifled barrel. The old ones were 99% wood and a modern one can be any proportion wood and metal that you want.

Doing things the hard way sounds interesting until you try to find enough time to do them. Hand filing and scraping a rough forged barrel to a perfect octagon could take a week or two of ten hours days non-stop. All of a sudden a milling machine looks like a good investment. . .
   - guru - Monday, 10/24/11 23:23:26 EDT

Flintlocks : Available from Williamsburg is a video, the gunsmith of Williamsburg - shows building a long rifle, including forging the barrel from scratch. Again, on long rifles, a good book detailing construction is The Gunsmith of Grenville Cty
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 10/25/11 00:06:22 EDT

Gunsmithing from scratch : Oh ya, I forgot that besides metalworking, woodworking, and brass casting there is flint knapping. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/25/11 00:36:16 EDT

Wire Twist Barrel : I have an old double barrel shotgun with a wire twist ( Damascus ) barrel that belonged to my great grandfather. My understanding is the gunsmith beat, wrapped and welded the flat wire around a mandrel. That might be a pretty good project for Jesse. I remember when I was a young boy, modern shells were shot in this gun with no problem.
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 10/25/11 06:53:37 EDT

Damascus Barrels : Those barrels were very popular in the 1900's but are not recommended for modern powder. For the very competitive prices they were sold at they must have been made by the millions. Of course the hard part of making a barrel is the initial hole. If you look at pipe and tubing costs you are often paying more for the hole than for solid metal.

A modern method of making the the starter hole is to drill or punch a relatively short fat billet then draw it out.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/25/11 09:41:30 EDT

Billets : Guru....the method you mention above is exactly how tubing is made. When I was just out of high school, I worked for a copper tubing company. At that time, they were getting raw copper from Arizona, and shipping it to Arkansas by rail. The copper was melted down and made into 320 lb. billets, then a ram would punch a hole through them and draw them down.
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 10/25/11 10:43:10 EDT

Shop Space and the Best of Everything : image from Locks of Iran
In many cultures the smith works sitting on the ground, his work triangle very small, just at arms length from his nearly fixed position. This usually included a small bellows as well as forge, anvil and vise (all shown). The few other tools and materials would be stored on the ground around the smith.

The smith at the left is a locksmith thus the scale of his work is quite small. His work space is about 5 x 5 feet but the room he is in is about 10 x 10. He does both forge and brass foundry work using a pit forge, his only "machines" a vise and a bow drill.

This size workspace is common in poor countries and/or where the craftsman may have to pickup everything he owns at a moments notice and move on. There is nothing wrong with this working space model but it depends on your expectations AND the expected scale of the work you want to do.

If you take a 10 x 10 foot space and put benches on one side and shelves on the other the remaining space is about 6 x 10. Just barely room to turn around with a 5 foot long piece of bar. Yes, you can maneuver it over the bench OR even vertically but in either case it must be done with care. There is also no room for another in the shop during such a maneuver. IF you are forging on the end of such a bar then the space needed is dictated by the work. Just some things to think about.

I inherited two 12 by 16 foot wood utility sheds that are currently under the roof of the large building. They are no more than large storage closets. One has work benches and a tool chest on two walls (left and back) and some shelves on the right. Being short of storage space there are tools on the floor and it is almost impossible to get to anything. While it IS possible to work in this space (Paw-Paw did it), you have to be VERY organized. Generally most work with fire or sparks was done outside. He had a couple small machines in the shop but the saw was merely stored there and had to be wheeled outside to make use of it. Part of the limiting factor in these buildings is the low sloping roofs.

In contrast I had a 15 x 15 room in our old Mill with two lathes, two drill presses, benches along one wall with a vise and bench grinder, a hydraulic press and 4x6 cutoff saw. There was also some shallow shelves and pegboard above the benches and shelves below. Tools were stored in several large tool chests. It was cramped but at one time three of us worked in that space. But there was no welding and only the bench grinder (no angle grinders). The saw lined up with the door so long pieces passed outside. It was tight but we got a lot of work out of that space. Uniform ceiling height made a big difference.

For several years all my forge stuff was portable and used outdoors or on a porch. I had few tools. Moved the forge and anvil to use then put away when I was finished. The 100 pound anvil on a wood stand was easy to move and the auto-wheel forge rolled fairly easily. Not long after I added a large foot treadle grinder that was not very portable and not very useful (my curiosity than anything). The big additions came next, a buzz box and a "full size" oxyacetylene rig. These were also used outdoors for many years. With each passing year the space needs have grown. But if I had stuck to very small work a work bench plus a little work space would have been enough.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/25/11 13:11:48 EDT

Gunsmithing : You're right about finding the time to do it, I run into that problem more often than I care to admit ha ha. But with me it's more about the process than the result, I just enjoy doing the work. Also I cast brass and do some woodwork in my spare time so it'll be nice to incorporate that into the project. And I'm an engineer so I love learning about how the little pieces work together and I'm not a stranger to the formal drawings. I'm a firm believer that everyone should bite off a little more than they can chew every now and again just to see what they can really accomplish.
   - Jesse F. - Tuesday, 10/25/11 22:37:55 EDT

My shop is still all over the place. The HVAC and elec guys have pretty much taken over the basement and most of my tools are on the ground. So, having taken orders as of late I had to do some forging and finish work. Wouldn't ya know, the belt sander is on the floor unmounted. So, what did I do? I sat on the floor and did the work. I kinda felt like the fellow in the picture above. Shop floor is 25 x 13 foot, haven't come up with a good plan yet.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 10/26/11 07:47:43 EDT

Nip, Its time to move out in the sticks somewhere on high ground with a big barn. . . Lots of fresh air and woods for the little bambino to explore!
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/26/11 09:33:53 EDT

Small shops : Having started in a really small shop, I can offer a couple of space saver tricks.
1. Swing-a-ways. I mounted a number of items on light square tube frames that allow swinging out from the wall for use, stow away and they take little space. Think bench drill press and Mig welder. By mounting the 110V mig on a swing arm, the somewhat short torch could then reach a much bigger area and also still be swung out of the way. The swing arm is also a useful place to put hangers for the 4.5" grinders and wire brushes and so forth. I mounted the mig on a column and it allowed 270 degrees of swing.
I also have forge tools like small punches and eye tools all on a swing away mounted to the tong rack.

2.Wheels. I have the first welding table mounted on 2 wheels and 2 legs. I have a little set of wheels and handle that let me move the table around. I can roll it out of the shop if desired. Wheels are great things, but some items need to not move once in the desired location. I use old scissors jacks from junk cars, mounted to the bottom of these items and use a plywood "Foot" for enhanced friction.
3.Fold down tools on wheels. I have several power tools mounted to fold down enough to allow rolling under workbenches. Need them? roll out, swing up and lock set the brake against the floor and away you go.
I have my table saw, radial arm saw and sandblast cabinet on wheels, the wood planer, and jointer on a common swing down on wheels and so forth.
   ptree - Wednesday, 10/26/11 09:38:25 EDT

Storage : I am not a fan of things on wheels. Most benches and machinery you want to hold still. However, there is a fairly simple center wheel arrangement that lifts the item, lets you roll it to where you want it, then take the load off the wheel and let the thing sit steadily on its base. The first one of these I operated was on a table saw. The mechanism was wood and you stepped on a lever to raise the tool. The lever shifted to the side to lock it. Rolling with the load balanced on a single wheel is not very smooth but it works and is very simple.

In buildings with exposed beams there is lots of room to store things hanging on nails or hooks on the beams OR on bars attached under the beams. My "short" stock rack for 3 foot pieces was such a setup. In the same shop I also had everything from grinding wheels to paint brushes and C-clamps hanging from the rafters. In old shops you would see horseshoes by the hundreds hung 12 to 14 feet above the floor. We had belts and hoses hung the same way in our service station. Stock was hung using a long pole with a heavy wire hook on the end. I always thought that this was one of those interesting transitions from the farrier shop to the automobile shop.

I've also had walls covered with HD peg board. This has advantages and disadvantages. Even the large 1/4" (7mm) diameter hangers have load limitations that other hooks and anchors do not. They are also not cheap. While peg board seems to be a very flexible way to go I've found that in every application the initial arrangement is the one used for a lifetime. You may do just as well with a solid plywood covered wall using shelf brackets and hooks. In either case, its a form of organization that should be part of your shop plan.

Shelves: I made the mistake a few years ago of purchasing "Gorilla" shelving from a local big box store. It was a fast way to get tons of stuff on shelves. However, the units only came with three shelves and needed four. It was cheaper to purchase an entire new unit and discard the uprights than to purchase extra runners and shelves. Three units became the cost of four. The shelves were chipboard. . . and only supported on the long sides. They were supposed to support about 1,100 pounds (500kg) each but within a year were sagging to the point of collapse with only a hundred pounds or so on many. All the shelves need to be removed and replaced. Due to the odd size it is a wasteful (thus expensive) process. . . So much for economy and time saving.

Benches and shelving are often overlooked as a shop expense. This is probably because they are so less interesting than tools and machines. But if you have one you need the other. The same with books. I've found it a lot easier to obtain books than the shelves to store them on. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/26/11 11:22:13 EDT

Shop Layout and Storage : Floor Plans; TGN: This could be your big chance- Get some graph paper and do a sample layout, and then do another, and as many as you feel comfortable with. Then narrow it down to three, tweak each one a bit, and choose the best. Leave room for new/different/replacement equipment. Usually, we get a space, cram in everything that fits, and work around it (see below). When we get a chance to shove things around on paper, take advantage of it! (I've worked with layout and design for most of my career; a lot easier to draw things several times than to move stuff twice.)

Small Shops & Clutter; PTree: In the old shop I adapted the old submarine system- as long as you only need to move three things to get to the thing you need, you're good! If you have to move more than three things, you need to start rethinking your stowage.

I also use the rafters, as Jock suggests; long stock can lay on it, smaller items can hang on hooks, and stuff in between can lay on open wire shelves. It does work better on the cold-work end rather than the hot work end due to the dust from the coal forge.

A lovely, cool day on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 10/26/11 11:56:52 EDT

I tend to look for old military or industrial shelves usually salvaged from a scrap yard. All metal.

Having a number of extra shelves (even with setting up two frames and putting a column of shelves between the two) I recently decided to make a set of uprights from old bedframe---the ones with the springs and straps as I could reuse the holes already there. That part was free and easy. However when I went to the hardware store I got sticker shock for 1/4 x 20 x 3/4" bolts with nuts and washers. I'm going to have to scrounge a bunch!

Jock you are now officially the US Government as a poster on another site said you were infringing on their constitutional right of freedom of speech! Can I have a tax abatement?
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/26/11 13:27:38 EDT

Mill : Guru....just out of curiosity, I noticed you mentioned an old mill a few times. Is it an old grist mill where they grind corn ? When I was a teenager, my grandpa took me to an old family water powered grist mill where they ground corn into meal ( I bet they ground it for moonshiners too :-) as there were a lot of stills in that area.......my grandpa said he had ran upon 14 busted up stills while hunting.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 10/26/11 13:28:22 EDT

American Freedom of Speech :
A web site owned operated and paid for by an individual is private property. We have the right to ask anyone to leave for any reason. It has nothing to do with freedom of speech.

Even in public spaces there are limits on speech. You CANNOT say you want to "kill the President" in the US without ending up in jail (talking about blowing up schools or other public buildings will also end you up in jail). You cannot yell "fire" in a crowded theater or similar situation (you also end up in jail possibly for life if someone is killed in the resulting panic). AND you cannot use profanity in many public venues including on the radio and free broadcast television.

As owner, operator and editor of a private place of business I have the right to block anyone from posting HERE for any reason. Profanity, flaming, spamming and inarticulate drunken rants will all get you kicked off the anvilfire forums. I generally remove the offensive material and ask politely not to do that again. IF you do it again then I ASK that you not come back. IF you come back later and are polite I may ignore it. But if you come back with more foul language then that is the END on anvilfire.

Due to the ONE person whom I have had to block at DNS level I spent several weeks developing a system to block a range of IP's on a public site AND offered the system to others. Then I spent a couple more weeks developing a system to block certain language and spam terms. THEN I added block list checking. . . . All this at great cost due to the custom nature of our forum software. Its not perfect but it stops a lot of slime, none of which is a free speech issue (even if we were a public operated site). The only thing I have not done is block browsing access (which can also be done).

IF we were a registered members only site it would have been easy. Block the member for breaking the rules. . . over and done. But as long as I can keep the site open to the general public I will do so.
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/26/11 15:08:27 EDT

Pretty much the arguments I mentioned then I basically told him to read the constitution. It's *short* and quite readable.
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/26/11 18:25:30 EDT

The Old Grist Mill
   - guru - Wednesday, 10/26/11 20:52:20 EDT

Mill : Guru....that scene is beautiful !
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 10/26/11 21:34:50 EDT

History : Just thought of something.

I've always heard that the ancient egyptians had trouble working stone because they only had copper tools.

Even if you accept a lot of trouble, how do you work stone w copper tools in the first place?
   Rudy - Thursday, 10/27/11 01:49:11 EDT

Ancient know-how : Actually the ancient people were smarter than we give them credit for. For example, the ancient Romans knew how to remove cataracts ( they made a small incision, stuck a small tube in the eye and sucked the cataract out ) they also had aspirin which we tend to think of as a modern treatment. Stonehenge was built over 4000 years before Christ, the people had no known language or writing, each stone weighs as much as a 747 jet, the nearest quarry to get the stones was 200-300 miles away. It baffles the mind.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 10/27/11 02:33:47 EDT

People, Ancient and Modern :
People 10,000 years ago were no less intelligent, no less artistic and no less creative than people today. In fact, most who survived were more intelligent than the average person today. The big difference was their situation and surroundings. While most may not have been what we now consider highly educated they knew details of their world that few today even consider. Most knew their environment in fine detail. They knew the geography and geology of where they lived. They knew how to harvest and hunt for their own food and how to make the absolute most of every bit. They decorated themselves and their clothes with fine stitching, beads, dyes. Dress for special occasions was just as important for impressing others as it is today.

What people of that time did not have was thousands of years of history, science and technology to help understand their world from a scientific standpoint. They did not have the support of infrastructure and global trade to feed them and provide shelter. But not having these things meant they as a group and as individuals had to be more self sufficient.

For thousands of years stone was carved with stone tools. It has also been sawed with rope, sand and water as it is today with wire, sand and water.

While there is no evidence for some of Wallace Wallington's ideas there are for others and he shows how a single man with the right primitive tools can raise and move stones weighing many tons. See our review of his interesting Forgotten Technology Video.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/27/11 12:06:22 EDT

Stone varies in hardness, some stone I have "worked" with a fingernail---soapstones and massive talc.

I would assume that they were working types of stone softer than the arsenic alloyed work hardened chisels. I would also assume they went through a bunch of chisels and had them re-cast on a regular basis.
   Thomas P - Thursday, 10/27/11 12:36:38 EDT

Stone work : Don't forget that softer stone can be worked with harder stone.
   ptree - Thursday, 10/27/11 12:54:06 EDT

test : test
   Rich - Thursday, 10/27/11 18:28:42 EDT

I'm a day late and a dollar short on this, but I guess I should point out that the First Amendment applies to the states as well. And I know it doesn't say so in the Constitution. One of many examples of why reading the text is a good place to start, but a potentially dangerous place to stop. Of course some folks believe you *should* stop with the text, but that's not the way the courts currently operate.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 10/27/11 19:34:03 EDT

The courts have both extended free speech and limited it.

The framers of the constitution considered free speech to INCLUDE being able to say the king or president should be shot or to burn him/her in effigy. They wanted the people to be able to complain about tyrants and remove them from office by force IF necessary. That included themselves.

Freedom of speech meant saying what you wish on a public street corner, on a podium OR in print without being arrested. But it did not include someone else paying to broadcast your message OR to print it. Freedom of speech does not mean FREE speech. Otherwise we could ALL demand time on radio, television or space in every newspaper without charge.

Interpreting the Constitution and Bill of Rights has been just as problematic as interpreting the Bible (which was written to be as obtuse as possible rather than as clear as possible). Interpreting the Bible has led to people condoling animal cruelty, wife beating, murder, slavery and other evils.

But even the authors of the U.S Constitution and Bill of Rights were conflicted. On one hand they said that "Every MAN was created equal" but did not extend those rights to men of other colors OR women. Patrick Henry lost many friends over the issue of slavery which he said would result in a great war if not settled with the founding of the county. He knew that slavery could not be ended instantly and wanted there to be a phase out of slavery including no NEW slaves. If others had shared his wisdom the lives of millions may have been saved.

Children were also not included in those great documents. It took the application of animal rights laws to stop child labor (children could be worked longer than a horse).
   - guru - Thursday, 10/27/11 20:49:33 EDT

Thomas : While they no doubt recast them at some point, I would assume they were probably annealed and then cold forged to harden and reshape them.
   - grant - Thursday, 10/27/11 22:04:26 EDT

America is a Wonderful Place : While I don't agree with everything that is said by the owner of this site and others, I do find that within the constraints of good form and decency, they generally allow dissent, just as long as it isn't ignorant or rude. If someone doesn't like how a website is run, they are perfectly able to formulate their own website, and run it as they see fit. I wonder if the "firebrand" on the other site would be as openminded and democratic as the owners of the current sites. I'm jes sayin'!!!!!
   Stewartthesmith - Friday, 10/28/11 08:12:28 EDT

french tool makers anvil : what is the average weight of that style of anvil. and what metal was it made from
   kermit - Friday, 10/28/11 13:35:05 EDT

French Anvils :
Kermit, most I have seen appeared to be about 200 pounds or greater but that is based on a small sample. I suspect they were made from 100 to 400 pounds (45 to 180 kg). This anvil in the Troyes collection calculates to be about 350 pounds (~160 kg).

Anvil manufacturing methods have changed over the years but most old anvils were wrought iron with tool steel faces. The anvil in the link above is wrought with a steel face.
   - guru - Friday, 10/28/11 15:25:08 EDT

Note that if you are thinking of trying to reproduce them a more modern method like casting them from good steel which we are pretty good at nowadays is suggested. Rather than trying to re-create processes that are basically unknown anymore---when SOFA demo'd welding a face on an anvil it took them 4 attempts to get a good weld.

   Thomas P - Friday, 10/28/11 16:27:01 EDT

Modern Cast Tool Steels : Today You can get large steel castings made in many high performance and/or tool steel alloys. You do have to go to a foundry that does this sort of work, and pay the going rate. These foundrys often offer machining and heat treating services as well. We used this outfit at the auto frame plant: www.delraysteelcasting.com
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 10/28/11 20:53:18 EDT

Small foundrys : Ten years or so ago, Bethlehem steel went bankrupt ( I know because I was holding some worthless stocks after it took a dive ). Well, they were a big outdated company that refused to adapt to modern methods. Some guys went to Japan to try to find out how they were making their steel, they bought the rights to produce these same type steel mills in the U.S., thus Nucor Steel was born. Nucor makes small batches of steel at a time. I wonder if they would pour a small batch for a smaller projects ?
   Mike T. - Saturday, 10/29/11 01:57:40 EDT

Small Melts : Sure, Nucor or most any other steel mill will run you a custom melt - they consider a small melt to be on the order of 5,000 pounds, so the cost will be pretty high. With custom chemistry and any special finishing or heat treating, figure a minimum order of around fifty grand, I would think.
   Rich - Saturday, 10/29/11 07:15:41 EDT

That is ten 500 pound anvils. . . or twenty 250's. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 10/29/11 10:11:21 EDT

Sword maintenance. : I've got two Spanish swords, one is similar to a Colada with engraving head of some Spniard, the other has an engraving name"Toledo" both are in a very good conditions, however the rust action is taking place in spite that I shallowy painted them with spray paint. I'd like to know how can I keep them clean and safe from rost, and how to pulish them. Is there any available catalog so that I can identify my swords?
   LEONARDO J GONZALEZ - Saturday, 10/29/11 13:25:07 EDT

Leonardo, Thin paint is probably the worst you can do. Bright polished steel tends to not rust if kept oiled. However, the thin oil must be wiped off and replaced often. Use lacquer thinner to remove the paint.

Polishing should be approached with caution. Antiques and collectibles are often ruined by refinishing. Never use power or motorized devices on finely finished items.

Light surface rust can be removed with a little vinegar and very fine sand paper (320 to 500 grit wet-or-dry - automotive finishing paper) and then polished using a soft rag and some rubbing compound (also an automotive paint finishing product). Never try to remove rust pits as this will require removing too much material ruining the original shape of the item as well as finish.

To use rubbing compound a bit of the rag is dipped into the fine abrasive compound and then the wet compound is used to polish the steel. The compound dries from the heat of friction and absorbency of the rag. As it is worked and dries the compound breaks down into finer abrasive and the soft dry rag with just a hint of the fine compound is used to brighten the polish.

Small areas are worked this way until the whole is finished. Handle the blade only with the polishing rag, a second rag or cotton gloves avoiding getting finger prints on the bare steel. Fingerprints contain both oil and salt which will etch the steel leaving rust finger prints.

After cleaning the blade oil it with a fine oil such as gun oil, sewing machine oil or clock oil. Cleaning and oiling a couple times a year should prevent rust on items stored indoors.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/29/11 14:04:25 EDT

Mike, Nucor built its first EAF (electric arc furnace) mill in 1969, not ten years ago, and its first continuous casting mill was built in 1989 , using equipment from Germany, not Japan.

But a steel mill and a foundry are two very different things. Certainly there are many steel mills in the USA that will roll custom alloys for you, assuming you meet their minimums.

Casting Anvils from tool steels, however, is done by a foundry, not a steel mill. And there are, again, several US foundries that are currently casting steel anvils- again, as long as you are willing to pay the price. My Nimba is 100% made in America, from 8640. The Rathole, Ketchum Blackjack, and a few other small run anvils are all cast in the US from good steels, too.
   - Ries - Saturday, 10/29/11 15:59:27 EDT

doubt : Did you want to know if they know the quality and origin of an anvil with a logo deposee Aubry? on one side is the year 1905 and a number q not mean one is 152 the other is 719 and the other side 85 BR BR. Can you help me with this?
   paulo tedeschi - Saturday, 10/29/11 18:41:16 EDT

It has been my experience that hea5ts run more in the 100,000# range for anything special, even from the mini-mills.
At the upsetter shop we ran some special re-sulfurized 4140 and each size bar was a heat in the 100,000# range. Did not work out and I had the fun of scrapping 240,000# of oddball 4140 in 2.5" od.
We also ran a single batch of very large piston engine barrels for Pratt and Whitney, took an odd alloy AN8650 if I recall. Needed about 40K# of the 110K heat, I had to scrap the remainder and it was something like 6" round in 23' lengths.
   - ptree - Saturday, 10/29/11 19:25:28 EDT

Logo deposee Aubry? :
Paulo, I think something has been lost in the translation.

From your email address I see you are from Argentina. Most anvils I've seen in Central and South America originate in France and Germany. Very little is known about specific anvil manufacturers in Europe.

Some of the numbers may be the weight of the anvil. However, the weight could be in English, metric or some traditional unit. It helps to have an idea of what the anvil actually weighs.

We can probably tell more from a photograph than from the markings on the anvil. If you send me a couple clear photos of the anvil I may be able to tell you more.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/30/11 09:31:39 EDT

From what I can gather online, Aubry was indeed an early French anvil (enclume) manufacturer.
And, most likely, it is marked in Kilos.
There is some mention of Aubry on this french antique tool collectors forum-

I spend a lot of time in Argentina, and most anvils there are actually Italian, although some are French and a few even German or English.
They seem to have bought most of their machinery at the turn of the century from Belgium, France, and Italy- lots of the power hammers I have seen there are Belgian made DeMoors.
There are some English built tools associated with railroad shops- the British built the railroads in Argentina.

   - Ries - Sunday, 10/30/11 16:55:35 EDT

on this page there is actually a picture of the markings of an 82 kilogram Aubry.
its quite a beautiful anvil.
my guess is that Paulo has an 85 kilogram anvil.

   - Ries - Sunday, 10/30/11 16:58:24 EDT

Steel Mills - Size : Most mini-mills now a days are operating EAF's in the 50 ton and up range. In fact 50 ton is a small one. Larger mills like AK Steel in Butler run 200 ton furnaces, and pump out slightly better than 1 heat an hour going to the continuous slab caster. We run a 50 ton EAF to produce iron powder (I personaly, based on work history, consider it to be a small furnace). We also operate 2 small induction furnaces couplled with a ladle furnace and a vacuum degasser. Melt size for those is 4 tons for C furnace and 5 tons for H? furnace. We sell a lot of the product from those furnaces to the foundry industry as master alloys - we provide the certified chemistry for the product. A lot of what we do also is reprocessing in house scrap from a foundry making certain that it's in usable in grade shape for them. Foundry product is usually 20 lb pigs. We do alloy steels, stainless steels, monels, nickel alloys and cobalt alloys.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 10/30/11 18:31:35 EDT

Mini Mills : http://www.innosight.com/innovation_resources/article.html?id=304
This is a long read, but interesting. It explains a lot about the steel making industry from the 50,s until now.
   Mike T. - Sunday, 10/30/11 23:30:40 EDT

A school to learn to smith : My father and I have talked for a while about looking into doing a 2 week course in blacksmithing. I have a desire to learn to Sword smith and have found some Japanese style sword smith schools (DragonFly Forge) but am interestead if there are any European schools. I want to do as much as I can in those 2 weeks and would hope to be able to bring home a sword I crafted myself. My dad and I are planning on doing this 2 or 3 years in the future but we are trying to research what it would cost for the school and materials and the locations where this would be viable. Any information on this kind of thing would be greatly appreciated. We live in Texas and traveling is not an issue if withing the US.
   James Wyman - Monday, 10/31/11 11:36:12 EDT

James Wyman : You're being way too optimistic if you think you can learn to make a sword in two weeks, James. Think more like two years. In two weeks at a good school like Frank Turley's you can probably learn basic forging and begin to develop a bit of competence int he fundamentals. Even if you were working one-on-one with Frank (or an other master smith), you simply cannot get much further than that in two weeks. This craft takes a LOT of skills that are only mastered by repeated practice - you can't get it from a book or video, you have to put in the hundreds of hours of actual forging time - would you expect to go to a football camp and come out two weeks later being able to play in the Superbowl? Expecting to make a sword, the pinnacle of skilled forging, with less than a few years of practice is unrealistic.

I don't think any legitimate master swordsmith or bladesmith would even take on teaching someone who hasn't already mastered the fundamentals of blacksmithing, any more than they'd take you into a surgical residency fresh out of high school. Ya gotta crawl before you can run.
   Rich Waugh - Monday, 10/31/11 13:54:02 EDT

James: Look into the American Bladesmiths School in Texarkana AR. Think about taking a number of their courses prepping you to take a sword making class. Why wait, start today and be that much closer to your goal!

That school has a great reputation and will speed up your learning curve immensely!

   Thomas P - Monday, 10/31/11 14:57:23 EDT

AND. .. for general Smithing our Frank Turley has week and three week long blacksmithing classes including introductory, advanced and tool making. It is also possible to have him special tailor classes for you (for the right price). You just missed his last classes for this year. Sign up early as they fill up.

Turley Forge Blacksmithing School The Granddaddy of Blacksmithing Schools
   - guru - Monday, 10/31/11 16:24:38 EDT

Schools and crafts :
Most crafts schools are a little like a trade school but much more narrowly focused. For crafts that include a broad range of skills, such as swordsmithing you might want to look into more than one type of school or classes. OR teaching yourself. All require practice.

Jewelery courses including engraving, lost was casting, silver soldering and working non-ferrous metals. Needed for sword furniture, scabbard decoration.

Woodworking/carving. Fine carving and patternmaking. For grip and scabbard making.

Iron/steel making. If you are REALLY interested in traditional Japanese sword making they made and processed their own steel and still do. You can skip this if you just want to make a blade that looks like a Japanese blade (but is not).

Advanced blacksmithing with a focus on forge welding and making laminated steels. Throw in a few machine shop courses as well. . .

Traditional sword making was not a process of sole authorship. Many specialists made each piece and the armourer was often the contractor and assembler. Today many smiths do it all but only after a lifetime of learning all the associated trades.
   - guru - Monday, 10/31/11 18:48:00 EDT

Technically if you forge a Japanese style sword in Texas, you have just made an American sword. Many of my tools are made in Cheena, but EVERYTHING that comes OUT of the shop is American made (man I feel so much pride when I say that!).
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 11/01/11 08:34:18 EDT

In Europe it was the Cutler that often sub-contracted out the blade forging, blade polishing, the hilting and the scabbard making. Note that any fine engraving, enameling, inlay, etc work done on the hilt or blade might be another shop too!

This is actually very much like how the japanese blades are done traditionally as well where each step is done by a different master craftsman that focuses only on that step and only has to own the tools for that step.

In earlier times the tools could be quite a capital expense and having a bunch of them just sitting around while you are doing something else was a waste!
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/01/11 11:20:58 EDT

It only took me about seven years from the time I started to turn out my first sword, but then again it was a four-foot pattern-welded two-handed kriegsmesser...

I second (or third or fourth) the advice to take a few introductory classes before you commit to the investment required to produce your own sword at home. A good grounding in general smithing will serve you well before you start bladesmithing. That said, the ABS school in Texarkana will serve you very well indeed with all aspects of bladesmithing. They don't do swords as far as I know, but they'll get you started on the basics of high carbon steel, which is significantly different than low carbon.

There are several folks doing European-style swords, as many of us have come to realize the hype around all things Japanese just doesn't do it for us. The trouble is that many of us do not teach formally. I can recommend Ric Furrer of door County forgeworks in Wisconsin as one of the best in this country who does teach, http://doorcountyforgeworks.com/Welcome.html

If travel is truly no object, one of the best European-style swordsmithing teachers I know once you've got the basics in hand is my friend Owen Bush in England. http://owenbush.co.uk/school-of-smithing/ will take you there.

I invite you to come over to the Bladesmith's Forum, http://forums.dfoggknives.com , to get a better idea of what you will need to get into the long and terrible addiction that is swordsmithing...

Again, take a class in the basics first, it will serve you well in all forms of metalwork.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 11/01/11 11:23:01 EDT

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