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 November 1 - 7, 2010 on the Guru's Den
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Ribbon Burners: I've seen a pine ridge ribbon burner and visited the website. One of the benefits is a more even heat and quick heat start up. But, they must be matched with the proper sized forge and most are use with large furnaces. Any opinions on using the ribbon burners in a blacksmith forge?
   David - Monday, 11/01/10 01:04:08 EDT

I've been throwing the idea around in my head to utilize my NG line in my house to run a forge on. How difficult/dangerous is this? It would save me a LOT of money, my gas bill is about $30 per month on average (that includes winter months). I already have NG plumbing in my workshop, just need to know the best way to not conflagerate my house.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 11/01/10 08:42:54 EDT

Natural Gas: Nip, Natural gas is safer than propane because it is lighter and dissipates. Propane is heavy and pools, doesn't dissipate as well. It can be used in orifice style burners but the very low pressure requires a larger orifice. Its easier to build a blower type burner and forget the orifice sizing. . .

For practical safety you just need to be sure there are no leaks, you turn off the gas, and do not leave the forge unattended. However, all commercial gas appliances have an automatic shut off that trips when the pilot and/or the flame goes out. This is one of the important UL requirements.

There are legal and insurance issues. You building code (and the gas company) will require that ANY device connected to the gas line have a UL approval and possibly others. IF a fire occurs and starts anywhere near your forge the insurance company COULD refuse to pay because you had a non-UL appliance connected to the gas lines. . . They can also cancel your insurance if they find out you have such a device connected to your gas lines. Gee. . . did you ask that question in a public forum?

SO, while NG is safer than propane, it may not be safer for your financial future.
   - guru - Monday, 11/01/10 10:03:46 EDT

Trying to ascertain the purpose of the 'breast' on an anvil.My guesses so far are:(1)it's either for preliminary forging for a right angle forged corner or (2)fork tine drawing out.Of course I am wrong but do you know?Thanks=G
   Generik - Monday, 11/01/10 10:09:40 EDT


None of the anvil nomenclature I am familiar with includes the term "breast." Horn, heel, face, table, waist, feet, clip horn, side shelf, upsetting block, even "church windows", but no breast. Can you better describe what you are calling a breast?
   - Rich - Monday, 11/01/10 11:20:16 EDT

Generik, I've never heard of a part of the anvil described as "breast". Generally the conical part is called the "horn" (like a rhinoceroses horn)in English.

Anvil Parts in English

Above are the general parts of a Western anvil in English. In other languages the names vary. Commonly what we call the "face" is called "table" as translated in many languages.

Many anvils have slightly different parts. Most European anvils are "double horned" with one round (conical) and one square (pyramidal) horn. Some have a small side shelf or "clip" and other have a large block between the feet for upsetting. English anvils have names for the holes but in other languages they are simply the square and round holes. Traditional Chinese anvils look nothing like Western anvils and who knows what they call the parts. . .

Farrier's (horse shoer's) anvils often have many specialty features such as half round "clips" protruding from the horn and "turning cams" on the side or as part of the heel. Many had two pritchel holes and some have large round (not square) hardy holes.


Almost every surface, feature and transition between features are used by smiths in forging. The hardened steel face sees the most use for forging. The edges of the face (corners) are used for forming corners, steps and for fullering (making indentations). The horn is used for making smooth curves, bends and truing rings. It is also used for drawing (making thinner).

The "cutting table" is a feature that developed on English anvils where the hard steel face stopped and a soft wrought iron flat extened onto the horn. In modern steel anvils this area is not soft enough for cutting and should not be used for a cutting table. Soft steel or aluminium blocks are used instead.

The step at the cutting table is very handy for supporting work with a corner and offering an open space for making bends from the inside. The little transition between the table and the horn is useful for working inside reverse curves such as on a leaf that curls up on on one axis and down on the other.

Many old European anvils were designed to be set on their "back" which was flat and did not have feet protruding. Thus the features on the side of the anvil came into use. Some of these anvils also had horns and heels the same length as the feet so they could be turned on edge and the "waist" used to form large curves. There are wear indications on one of the anvils in the Greenwood Collection that it was used upside down quite a bit.

Every part of the anvil is used for many things according to the ingenuity and needs of the smith.
   - guru - Monday, 11/01/10 11:43:57 EDT

Nip, NG will need a different orifice size compared to propane. Also, your house line runs at a very low pressure, about 2-3 psi so there is not much there to control with unless you are feeding a blown forge.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 11/01/10 14:06:51 EDT

Not having transportation, etc.

That is when you carpool! We used to dump a load of folk interested in smithing into a van and take off for the 2 hour drive to SOFA meetings. Cuts down on cost and makes it a lot more fun too---we'd stop at a fleamarket on the way.

If you are interested enough you can find a way! Of course being 2 hours away from the closet meeting was why we founded a smithing group locally too.

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/01/10 14:07:10 EDT

Yep, When there is a will, there is a way. If its important to you then there are no obstacles, just problems to solve. That said, the last few years of my life it seems I am thwarted at every turn. . .

In my youth I would walk ten or fifteen miles to visit a girl. . . I was good at looking at a map, determining the mileage and figuring my travel time at 4MPH. We had local bus service but the routes were so convoluted from where we lived that a 4 hour walk across town was faster than taking the bus and a LOT more interesting.

My first cars were REAL clunkers. $50 and you could watch the road pass below your feet. Had to study manuals and become a competent mechanic to have cheap transportation. I was never ONCE broken down on the road even though we commonly drove half way across the country.

The only other smith I knew for many years was a 125 mile trip. I traveled it many times in an old 1950 Chevy tuck and a 1960 Nash Metropolitian. I spent many overnights sleeping in the very small car. . . The only reason for this was the friend did not even have a couch to crash on and had a live in girlfriend in his one room apartment. . Most smiths will invite complete strangers to stay even if its on the couch for a chance meeting.

My transportation has improved a lot and I often invite others to travel with me. In my "old age" I cannot put in but so many hours driving. Its worth a lot of extra expense to have someone help with the driving. Those that cannot drive need to be good conversationalists.

On the other hand, there are a LOT of smiths out there today. So many that there is a good chance that there is ne within a mile or so. You just have to look. Start with the yellow pages under every kind of metal work. Then try our local blacksmithing organizations. Ask those who work in welding supply shops and steel warehouses.

AND as Thomas noted, if its too far, form a local group. I tell this a lot to folks in our area who did not want to travel all the way across the state. Finally someone took me up on the challenge (I would provide the web site if they formed the group). There ended up being a surprising number of local folks interested and there is a very active group now.
   - guru - Monday, 11/01/10 15:37:28 EDT

Guru, all sounds good, but I would rather pet my dog than walk fifteen miles to see a girl...grin
   - pacopperlock - Monday, 11/01/10 16:55:54 EDT

What teenagers will do for love. . .
   - guru - Monday, 11/01/10 18:12:26 EDT

Long Drives...I've found the driving time just disappears if I'm listening to a book on a story tape or CD.
   Carver Jake - Monday, 11/01/10 19:31:09 EDT

Thanks for answering.The part I am referring to is found on old style European anvils(also on the little brass commemorative ABANA meet ASO's)It is on the side of the main body,an inclined plane that meets the working face at thirty degrees or so.Josh Greenwood's collection has a bunch of armorer Anvils showing this feature,above the 'windows'.I could draw much more easily than describe,eh?Seems to have been useful as they always show hammer marks.My query also has the component of these type Anvils seem to be designed to be used alternately on their side.I bought a one of Josh's and you can be sure I will try various things and report back.=G
   Generik - Monday, 11/01/10 22:13:42 EDT

The sloping side does several things.

1) It reduces the the angle of the corner so that it is less likely to be damaged by a striker using a sledge hammer.

2) It puts that heavily worked edge nearer the center of the supporting feet (thus more sturdy under the hammer).

3) An the anvils with the center supporting column of the "church windows" it creates a buttress back to the working corner.

In some later German anvils they had a 90 degree corner along the heel up to the well supported part of the body, then the 110 degree across most of the body, then a side shelf with a 45 to 60 degree corner then the tapering horn. The widest usable variety of of edge angles and shapes.
   - guru - Monday, 11/01/10 23:18:51 EDT

"Ribbon" Burners: I looked into these and they appear to be a nice burner. The price is not bad until you start looking into the mixer (not part of the "burner"), fan and plumbing, much less controls. You could easily spend $500 without safety controls.

As to "careful sizing" that is true of ALL forge burners. While every burner has a range it is limited. Consider the NC-Tool approach of modular burners. They are all alike. They put 1 into a "baby" forge, 2 into a "moma", 3 into a large "moma", 4 into a "papa", up to a 12 burner forge which they only make on special order these days. Otherwise to cover that range they would need 6 or twelve specially designed burners. It was a pretty smart approach as it cuts way down on manufacturing costs.

How well the Ribbon burners will work in a forge I do not know.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/02/10 09:35:48 EDT

The CanIron conference does sound unteresting. I used to live in the Fergus area so I am quite familiar with it. Thanks for the leads on the Onatrio Association, I'll check that out.

As fort he distnaces, my apologies if I implied that travelling more that 2 hours was beyond acceptable. The comment about Saskatoon beinf a tad far was not said out of laziness but rather an undertsanding that it would be a 36hour (plus) drive or a $1200 plane ticket - thus not really an option for me.

   Matt - Tuesday, 11/02/10 09:49:01 EDT

I have inherited an anvil that has EXTER and it looks to be the Queens seal on the side. The anvil weighs @100 LBS. Do you have any info on this anvil?
Thank you for your time.
   Dwight Bruton - Tuesday, 11/02/10 09:59:34 EDT

Matt, We weren't trying to give you a hard time about it. I know the distances in Canada are huge. When I went to the 2000 CanIron in Calgary I realized it was almost as far as going to Hawaii from the Eastern U.S. where I live.

But I think you get our point. With some research you will find other smiths nearby and through them you may find even more.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/02/10 10:51:13 EDT

I got to use a large anvil with the sloping "breast" at the North Texas Ironfest a few years ago. It was one of the cast European imports. It would take getting used to after having used right angled sides all the time. I kept going there by force of habit and often was not able to use the slope for anything.
   frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/02/10 11:53:28 EDT

Turley Forge & Blacksmith School. Kind of like Dan Boone's shop but different. Ha Ha.


Thanks Frank for all you do and have done for the blacksmiths.
   Carver Jake - Tuesday, 11/02/10 12:34:17 EDT

Carver, Sigmund Freud really gets into it about "anal." Some smithies reflect retentive. Some smithies indicate "expulsive," as in scattered, disorganized. My shop is somewhat like the latter, yet I know where the tools are located.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/02/10 15:18:55 EDT

I used to know where every tool was . . . then I had help moving. . . then I acquired more tools. . .

Organization in a shop costs money. While Dan Boone's shop may be the extreme of clean (cleaner than a hospital surgery), what makes it possible is lots of storage to organize what is there. Dan also doesn't seem to have acquisititus. He doesn't bring home every piece of iron he can (as many of us do).

My shop organization goal now is a Kennedy cabinet to put my other Kennedy tool chest and riser on top of so I can safely store all my precision tools that will fit. . .

Several years ago I bought "Gorilla Rack" shelving for the shop. . I did what I had to do at the time but now the chip board shelves are melting. They WILL NOT support even a percentage of the rated load for long. Now I have to replace the shelves with something real (5/8" plywood - real plywood). I HATE do-overs. An expense of trying to organize.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/02/10 17:05:02 EDT

I had a friend who used to hassle me about how messy my shop was compared to his till I pointed out he spent more time cleaning his shop each week than I got to spend in my shop each week.

I spent my time where I would get the most out of it. Like making your own tools; takes me about as long to make a good set of tongs as it does to weld up a billet enough to be ready to make a blade from it. I enjoy the billet welding a lot more and as my tongs have been bought for $10 and under ($10 was that Ti set I picked up at Q-S, usually it's $7 and under!) while I could sell a billet for more than $10. What's the best use of my time?


   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/02/10 17:54:32 EDT

Tong making is something every smith should do well enough to make his own when he needs them but you CANNOT beat folks like Grant Sarver with his production process. $25-$35 for a pair of tongs made one-off is giving away your time and as Thomas says, wasting it when you want to be doing other things. Now. . . IF you are going to make tools as a business OR just want to say you made all your own tools, that is a different thing.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/02/10 20:11:48 EDT

I think tong making is a good way to develop forging and design skills. Think of them as musicians doing scales. I like to think of myself a pretty fair smith, and I learn something new with every pair of tongs I make. Yes economically it doesn't always make sense, and I never pass up a cheap pair of tongs at a sale or auction, but then I also don't think economics should be the sole factor in any decision.
   JimG - Wednesday, 11/03/10 11:33:22 EDT

Dwight, sounds like a Trenton anvil (Trexton), though I may be mistaken.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 11/03/10 11:39:27 EDT

My "scales" is forge welding; I try to work it into most of my projects---trivets, ornamental, tools, armour, etc.

I don't believe that everyone should do likewise however; they should concentrate on the areas that they are most interested in.

I'm perfectly happy to believe that some folks will be better at some things than I will---My great Grand-Father could point a plow for the soils in his local area, I can't. I can patternweld up a great knife---he couldn't. We're both blacksmiths.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/03/10 14:10:06 EDT

I have an old anvil that seems to be of the colonial era. I bought it to use but have been advised that it is better as a collectible. Can you advise me as to who would want something like this. It weighs about 200 lbs.,has a step no pritchel hole.
   Henderson Gilleland - Wednesday, 11/03/10 16:47:29 EDT

Henderson, It might be collectible or not. I have a Colonial that I paid $5 for and have been offered all of $50. Its missing its horn, the face is worn through, there are no markings and it was an ugly shape before it was wore out. . . There is collectible, and then there is old junk. I like this particular piece of old junk because it tells a story. But that in itself is a long story. . .

Send me a photo or two and I can give you an idea if it is worth more than you paid for it. To get collectible prices you have to go to an international market such as ebay, plan on listing with a reserve, and relisting again and possibly again until you get what you think it is worth. If you want to sell it now, today, with not advertising you might get $50 to $150 for it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/03/10 17:05:18 EDT

A question about (shudder) non-ferrous metals if I may.
I have a major customer who has commissioned a lot of iron work from me in the past. Now they want some copper sheathing on a fancy antique wood pedimet. I would like to use copper screws but cannot find any after a long internet search. Does anyone know of a source for copper wood screws? I hesitate to use brass or bronze due to possible interactions between the metals. Thanks for any help... :{
   - Tim in Orygun - Wednesday, 11/03/10 19:42:55 EDT

Tim - I think the reason You don't see copper screws is that copper is rather soft for making screws.
I believe silicon bronze is probably Your best choice, but will not be a color match. Brasses, containing zink will deteriate in an electrolite environment.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 11/03/10 20:04:55 EDT

Tim, I've had red bronze machine bolts that would match copper pretty well. While there is SOME metallurgical difference it is very small from a corrosion standpoint. I would worry more about the compounds in the wood, treatment, or water retention.

If corrosion is a consideration you might look into have the bronze screws or bolts copper plated. That would provide a tough screw and non-corrosive conditions.

As noted, copper is too soft alone.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/03/10 20:37:47 EDT

Guru and Dave, Thanks for the input, I am gonna go with the
silicon bronze, color match is not a problem unless someone is
up on the roof looking over the edge. The idea of plating them is a good one, I will reserve it in case I ever get in this kind of a fix again. Many thanks...pound on!
   - Tim in Orygun - Wednesday, 11/03/10 23:14:30 EDT

Tim, Continuing on the "copper plating" of the screws, It is very easy - Copper sulfate solution (Copper sulfate) from ACE , Some copper plates and a car battery or a small battery charger. Hope this helps out.
   Stan C - Thursday, 11/04/10 22:44:19 EDT

In high school chemistry class I remember using blue crystals, copper something-or-other (can't remember). We mixed it with water and placed various metal artifacts in it. Two days later everything was copper plated. No electricity was used. Dang it I can't recall what copper compound those blue crystals were.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 11/05/10 09:30:24 EDT

Nip, Copper Sulfate. It doesn't take days. Just dip a bright shiny piece of steel in it and you have instant "flash plating". The common school experiment is to dip a new nail into the solution. MIG wire is copper coated this way to reduce rusting in increase surface conductivity and lubricity. Parts to be plated with nickle are first copper flashed. The best chrome plating is a three part process, copper flash, nickle plate, chrome plate. The nickle reduces rusting because chrome is porus. "Hard Chrome" plating is chrome directly over steel and it will rust. All lesser quality hand tools are hard chrome plated rather than the three step method.

   - guru - Friday, 11/05/10 10:40:50 EDT

Yeah, that's copper(II) sulfate.


Used for printing plate etching, something I did not know about, heh...

I noticed on the wikipedia page they did use electricity in conjunction with copper sulfate solution; it may just be used to make the plating to faster than usual.

   PondRacer - Friday, 11/05/10 10:52:28 EDT

Yup! That's the stuff... gee I wonder how much other stuff from high school is gone!

Quick note: I just wrapped the exterior of my micro forge with Kaowool strips. Increases efficiency BIG TIME!
   - Nippulini - Friday, 11/05/10 11:29:51 EDT

Copper flash is very thin. Only a few atoms. Electro- plating will build up as thick as you want.
   - guru - Friday, 11/05/10 11:52:37 EDT

Tim, Which ACE company, there are a lot of them. Also, please describe where and what polarity you connect the charger leads. I would like to start using this method.
Thanks for posting.
   Carver Jake - Friday, 11/05/10 12:37:44 EDT

The dip plating of steel using copper(II) sulfate Is an electric process. It makes its own current internally and no EXTERNAL source of current is needed.

Brass or bronze screwa will work fine with copper.
   John Odom - Friday, 11/05/10 20:03:20 EDT

Brass or bronze screws will work fine with copper sheet.
   John Odom - Friday, 11/05/10 20:06:08 EDT

Copper sulfate in ACE is also known for being a drain root killer - Copper sheets you can get at a Jnuk yard very easily and affordable. As far as the way to connect - it's been such a long time since grade school that I am not sure. I am sure the Web may have that information
   Stan C - Friday, 11/05/10 23:09:20 EDT

Hey Gents, in the reversed manner, you could also use reverse plating to remove rust from a certain object by hooking up your rusted object to one pole of the battery and the other pole to a big piece of bebar, you would submerge these two objects in a brine solution (mixture of water and salt). Great way to clean rusty items without using mechanicle means.
   Stan C - Friday, 11/05/10 23:18:22 EDT

Re: Plating & Electrolysis

All you need to know for determining which way to hook things up is that DC current flows FROM NEGATIVE TO POSITIVE. The metal you're plating with follows the current, so to plate onto something the anode (source of metal for plating) is the negative lead. The target (cathode) is the positive. To strip the surface off a piece, you switch the polarity so the work becomes the anode and a piece of scrap becomes the cathode. The solution can be either a neutral electrolyte such as a salt water solution or an active part of the process that supplies the plating metal such as when you use copper sulfate to plate copper onto steel. In that case the anode is simply there to conduct current into the solution.
   - Rich - Saturday, 11/06/10 13:56:21 EDT


I don't usually doubt you, but Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia both say that the cathode is connected to the negative lead and the anode to the positive.

Just so I can probably be wrong too, I'll try to explain why. I think what happens in effect is that positively charged metal ions flow from the cathode (positive) to the anode (negative). This takes the place of negatively charged electrons flowing from the negative terminal to the positive in an ordinary circuit (because *both* the charge of particles and the flow direction is reversed -- who says two wrongs don't make a right?)

To go out even further on a limb, the convention is that electricity flows from positive to negative, because that's the way the particles flow in a plating bath. Scientists later found out electrons flow from negative to positive, but the convention never changed.

   Mike BR - Saturday, 11/06/10 19:47:08 EDT

Ions one way, electrons the other. In a copper sulfate bath using a copper electrode the copper replaces the copper in the copper sulfate. Works the same in acid baths with different ions.

I never could keep cathode and anode straight because if you switch the polarity the "part" named cathode is now anode. . .

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin experimented with the "humane" slaughtering of animals by electricity. . . Pretty gruesome experiments. He had some animals explode into flame when he hooked them up to his large bank of batteries.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/06/10 20:16:56 EDT

According to Tenacious D
Ben Franklin was a rebel indeed
He liked to get naked while he smoked on the weed
He was a genius but if he was here today
The government would f$#%! him up his righteous A!
   - Kickapoo - Saturday, 11/06/10 22:20:59 EDT

Above from the song "The Government Totally Sucks"
   - Kickapoo - Saturday, 11/06/10 22:22:35 EDT

There isn't a one standard convention for everything. Electron flow convention is used in things like chemistry and current flow is used in standard electronics, what is called the anode and cathode changes depending on which standard you're using. It's all semantics anyways, they're just metals with differing affinity for electrons.
   Nabiul Haque - Sunday, 11/07/10 03:09:47 EST

X1 Power Hammer Project: The X1.a forged 1" square last night! We did not get the treadles finished so we used the driver and smith method. Dave ran the hammer while I forged and I ran the hammer while Dave forged. No video yet.

We are building two 100 pound (45 kg) hammers and have quite a few details to finish up. When we started I had not made a full assembly drawing and we had a number of errors to fix. So rework has cost us some time and money. We learned that a number of folks with tire hammers had worn out the tires in one spot then found that replacements were impossible even if they had not welded parts to the wheels that prevented changing the tire. Ours is bolt on but to add some life we drilled a second set of holes so the tire and wheel can be rotated in 45 degree increments. That cost us a day of our precious one day weekends. . . We seemed to have very good control without excessive slipping. But we are going to plan on replacing the auto wheel and tire with a slip belt system in the future.

Three or four good days in the shop would have the project finished - but cold weather is approaching. Meanwhile I am busy designing tooling to use with our new toy!
   - guru - Sunday, 11/07/10 07:22:19 EST

   Carver Jake - Sunday, 11/07/10 14:45:33 EST

A hammer is born :) c'mmon jock, get the wind in your sails and finish them up!!!
   - John N - Sunday, 11/07/10 15:32:15 EST

Hello, my name is Christoph. I saw Mr. McDonald's invention of a steel rolling mill on this page and was amazed by the demo-video. I’ve read that he sells a CD with construction plans of it which I would like to buy. But I couldn’t find it in the anvilfire.com store although it was offered in an article. Is it out of print or can I order it anyhow?
Thanks for your help.
   Christoph - Sunday, 11/07/10 16:09:35 EST

Hi, I am 19 and am interested in blacksmithing, and would like your knowledge on the basic supplies to make almost anything. Not that I am cocky thinking I can make anything, but just as I am outgoing and if I get an idea I like to go for it. I’ve seen many tools; most I don’t know the names of ( like the stand alone large cone used to make rings ), used to make certain items, but I’m hoping you could go more in depth on them or show me to a website that does( like the designs to make spoons ). Thins I’m currently thinking of making are a spoon, a hinge, a knife, other tools and such to start out. Another thing I’d like your advice on is a small forge or the idea/plan of making a fire pit hot enough to be a forge. I want to be able to travel and have a forge anywhere and have my tools in a toolbox like a civil war reenactor I saw. He had a 2x3 foot box and had all he needed to do work inside, as well as a homemade small forge. He told me the museum where he got the design but I had since forgot it.( so if you know any designs you could give me I couldn’t thank you enough). To sum it up I’m looking for a beginners list of tools and supplies , an idea on a small travel forge, and any other insight you have for me. In conclusion, if you could please help me out, I’d really appreciate it, means a lot…thank you.
   steve - Sunday, 11/07/10 21:47:47 EST

Projects John, besides the hammers (which I have spent an a LOT of money on), we are also working on belt grinders and I have a vibratory finisher on the drawing board as well as some projects I cannot disclose at this time and these are just the current major projects. Yes, I should spend more time in the shop. . . I could easily walk away from the desk and spend all day out there. I'm sure you know that feeling!
   - guru - Sunday, 11/07/10 22:14:09 EST

What a blacksmith needs to make anything. . .: Steve, a blacksmith can make almost anything relatively small that is suitable to be made form wrought iron (or mild steel) and tool steel the ram materials and the following tools:

A Forge (or oxy-fuel torch and arc welding equipment)
Anvil with hardie, bending fork, hold down.
Vise (in this case portable probably attached to the anvil or its stand).
Tongs - several sizes/types
A selection of punches and chisels (which the smith can make or modify as needed).
Files - several sizes and types
As many other hand tools as can be carried including:
    A brace and bits
    One or more sledges for heavy work (and helpers to use them).
    Measuring tools (rules, calibrated square, calipers, traveler).
    Layout tools, compass or dividers, straight edge (or rule), square, scribe, chalk.
    Hack Saw and blades
    Hand Shears for thin metal
    Sharpening Stone (Norton dual grit)
I'm sure I've left out a few things. . . simple wood working tools are also often part of the kit.

A cone is a cone, or cone mandrel.

Any forge with sufficient blown air (from a bellows or blower) and dense fuel (coal or charcoal) will get hot enough to forge. The only issue is the matter of scale. A smoking pipe (about 1" (25 mm) across) burning tobacco blown through gently will create a yellow heat that you could weld a paper clip with. A fire contained in a volume about the size of your head will produce enough BTU's to heat most anything you can fore by hand. What scale work do you want to do?

A smith working alone with limited tools is limited in the size and complexity of project that can be undertaken. In a more primitive era cheap manpower did what power tools do today. Have a big piece to forge? Call in the boys and hand out sledge hammers. Have lots of finishing and descaling to do? Dump it on the apprentice or other child labor. Today power tools replace all those low wage laborers that are no longer available.

Besides the basic tools listed above the more technical smiths used small bench lathes, gear cutting machines with dividing plates, drill presses (beam drills then hand crank patent drills). These machines had been available since the late bronze age. When wind or water power was available they took advantage of it. Same with steam, gasoline engines and electric motors. Most of these devices were created by the skill of blacksmiths and blacksmith/millwrights if not actually invented by them.

Good luck!
   - guru - Sunday, 11/07/10 23:24:37 EST

Dimensions: Steve, if you are going into a technical field (blacksmithing IS technical, in fact multi-disciplinary; math, chemistry, physics, mechanics, art.. . .) you need to be more concise about descriptions, especially dimensions. 2 by 3 defines an area, not a volume. 2 by 3 what? 2 x 3x 1? 2 x 3 x 8? 2 x 3 x infinity?

It is time to start thinking more analytical and technically correct.

Shop math does not need to be too sophisticated. However, it helps to be able to use PI to calculate circumference and area, the Pythagorean therom to calculate diagonals, and simple multiplication to calculate volumes and weights. You would be surprised at how many people cannot determine the weight of a bar of steel.
   - guru - Monday, 11/08/10 01:11:06 EST

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