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 23 - 30, 2010 on the Guru's Den
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I am 63 years old and retired living in Alabam, usa.
I have been working wood for some time now and find my self needing more metal peaces to make some hand tools.
I have several circler saw blades that I want to use to make some them.
How can I soften the metal, to be able to cut them with a hacksaw and file them to form. I would like to finish them and later contact you about the best methard to reharden them. I hope this is enough information for you.
I would like to talk to someone with in your company about this and some other things I have on my mind.
If it is possiable please contact me at 334-791-7104.
Thanks for your time in this matter and do have a great day.
God bless.
Larry Hauss
   Larry Hauss - Tuesday, 11/23/10 00:42:05 EST

Those are some good looking coins Mike!
What, are you starting your own government? (count me in...)
I'm coming in late on your project but, have you described your die sinking process anywhere I can read it?
   - merl - Tuesday, 11/23/10 02:32:45 EST

I am trying to find information on the "Off Center Induction Forge" including where to buy and how much and I am not haveing any luck can you help me
   - Rick Steen - Tuesday, 11/23/10 02:37:12 EST

Rick: You can email me at nakedanvil AT gmail.com.
   - Grant - Tuesday, 11/23/10 03:28:12 EST

Research: Nabiul, When I punched in your Manual J I got a bunch of sources. But you must BUY it. Not everything is free and on the Internet and often the good technical info valuable enough that it is never available free. Even 50 year old used copies of the various ASM references sell for significant sums.

Manual J is complicated enough that there are courses on using it and software sold to perform many of its calculations.

One problem you are going to have is that all the old engineering references are going to be based on refrigerants that are no longer in use. Many general references such as Marks' Mechanical Engineers' Handbook have general sections on thermodynamics which will need to be fully understood as a basis. You will also need to understand vapor pressure in refrigerants.

To find old academic sources I would go to bookfinder.com and enter some key words such as Heat Transfer, HVAC Engineering, . . . and what have you. You will still have to BUY the books but they may be more reasonable OR you may find some that selling for very little due to condition.

I have spent hundreds of hours on the LOC site researching available references. While the card catalog data is sparse it is more helpful than the simple title, author and publisher that used book sales sites generally give. Armed with that you can try ILL (if you have the time) and bookfinders again.

Also consider the TYPE of library you are going to. Public libraries rarely carry highly technical specialty references, school libraries are worse. College and University libraries are better and if they have an engineering library they may have a seperate library. In some cases they may be open to the public. It is often worth a trip. Be sure to find out about their copying system and policies. I occasionally use the UVA engineering library and you need an in-house card to swipe in the copying machines. Students use their student ID cards but you can buy a prepaid temporary user card. make a phone call and know before you arrive.

If you find ANY book on the subject, check the bibliography or referenced works. These are often the basic sources you are looking for.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/23/10 09:55:30 EST

Saw Blades and Knives: Larry, I spend way too much time on the phone as is. Questions of this nature are answered here and most are covered on our FAQs page. Please start with our FAQ on junkyard steels, everything it says applies to your blades. Then see annealing on our heat treating FAQ.

The problem with circular saw blades is they are often made from air hardening steel and annealing is difficult requiring VERY slow controlled cooling. But to know you must identify the steel first. The alternative, which is MUCH simpler is to work the metal hot (forging) and with a grinder (belt grinder, bench grinder, hand held angle grinder).
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/23/10 10:05:46 EST

Merl, thanks. I have not described the process yet. So far, I'm playing wht the standard electric pencil engraver [which works like crap], and some homemade punches. These punches are scraps of 5160 ground into small shapes and hardened.

If I had better pictures of the coins, you could see that en elephant is entirely composed of 4 shapes, so only 4 punches were used: Leg, Curve [back, tusks], Round [head and other dots], and Straight [tower on its back]. Now that I'm seeing the result, which is not so clear on the die, I need to reshape those punches a bit.

I've thought about just buying bulk MS lathe bit blanks... at $1 each its cheaper/easier than the effort to harden my own blanks

The dies are 1.25 hex bar, 12L14 I believe, purchased for another purpose. I'm sure a tool sttel would last longer, but I'm not looking at 1000 coin runs here. I tried a die in O1, but had a lot of trouble carving it. I'm using hex bar so I can easily align the faces in a flat sided frame.

I start by cutting 1.5" sections of the bar, then facing off both sides in my little Taig lathe. Being hex, they're easy to chuck up in the lathe too. Once faced, I cut back to raise up the coin face of the die, and then incise the border edge. At this point I need a better process for polishing that die face, as just reaching in with a little sandpaper got my knuckle in the way of the chuck and broke it. There's a little of me in everything I do, as Grandpa said. He was a butcher.

Next I draw up the design to scale and print reverses. Glue one on the face of the die and lightly trace with a razor knife [Xacto]. Peel that off and trace with an ultra fine Sharpie.

Set it down on a comfortable height anvil and start tapping away with punches.
   - MikeM-OH - Tuesday, 11/23/10 11:32:07 EST

MikeM, what you describe is pretty much the same method I was taught during my apprenticeship.
When I started at that shop, one of the first things I did was to make up a drawing for a touch mark or,ID stamp so my work could be identified for future reference.
I was given a 5/8X5/8X 3" piece of S7 and a special set of punches and then shown how to work the material away from the lines of my design so that it stood out a good .07-.08 from the background.
Your 12L14 is a good choice for doing hand work like that. It is a good steel and tools very easy due to the lead ( that's what the "L" is for )
Admittedly it's not the best for dies but, it works for low volume proof runs.
Get your self some 1/2 or 3/4 square balsa sticks about a foot long and staple a strip of emery paper over the end for a polishing stick. Sturdy enough to do the job and lite enough it won't hurt you too much if it slips and gets thrown by the chuck.
Getting a knuckle busted or your arm drawn into the machine is a tough way to learn shop safety.
You could try the cheap HSS lathe bits for gravuors but, don't strike on them directly. Instead, make a handle that they can fit into from mild steel and strike on the end of that. Also,round the struck end of the tool bit a little bit, just so there are no sharp corners where it makes contact with the tool holder. This will reduce chipping and shattering of the HSS tool.
Keep up the good work!
   - merl - Tuesday, 11/23/10 12:24:47 EST

Merl, Thanks for the pro advice! I'm glad my semi-researched approach got me in the same general direction. I've got Oppi Untracht's book on metal decoration for reference, and there's plenty of detail on the shapes for engraving tools and punches.

I've mounted one HSS tool bit in a file handle and started shaping an engraver end on it. I definitely won't strike the ends directly, I've already shattered one bit that way years ago.

   - MikeM-OH - Tuesday, 11/23/10 13:30:23 EST

Mike, Great job so far. May I use your press photos in my Hydraulic press article I am updating?

Die Cutting. . . I don't think I could approach this job without a Dremel or a Foredom flexible shaft tool. Before these (early 1800's to early 1900's) were available they had foot treadle powered belt driven multi-joint carving tools and dentist drills. Ivory carvers used them and all that low cost carved imported wood work still use them.

Besides being able to use ball end cutters down to the size of dentist drills they also have sanding and polishing pads.

For gravers and miniature chisels I like to use old dull or broken taps. Even the cheaper ones are VERY good steel. I also use high quality HSS lathe cutter bit. Cheaper may work but when you carefully grind a tool down to a little 0.01" chisel you don't want it to break. For your sinking punches this is a different matter and the cheaper steel may work.

For cutting, rather then punching by displacement a good annealed tool steel works fine. I like A2 hardened in stainless foil. But your non-traditional cold sinking will rapidly work harden good tool steel which is still recalcitrant at best.

For turning and polishing such small work I REALLY like my little worn out 6" Craftsman lathe. The small 4" chuck and jaws are so handy that the guys in our big shop would chuck the little chuck in the big lathe for dealing with small parts. Everything is rounded on the old three jaw chuck and you can develop the very bad habit of stopping the chuck by hand. . .

Alternately you can start with a longer piece that hangs out away from the lathe jaws. An awful lot of sawing, filing and hand polishing is done on lathes. Its a matter of finding the safest way to do them AND keeping your hands in safe work positions.

In the case of your small dies you could drill and tap a hole in the back then use a stud to chuck the piece in a Jacobs chuck on a drill press or lathe. Then you can safely use bits of sand paper to polish the surface of your dies.

Merl's suggestion of using balsa sticks or small dowel rod is good. I use wood dowels saw cut to accept a strip of sand paper (cloth backed belt is best followed by 3M wet-or-dry) to polish inside holes. Sometimes I chuck it in a hand drill, sometime the drill press and yesterday I had one in the lathe chuck. You can also glue felt to the end of the dowel for getting the bottom of holes (or wrap as with the paper). Apply various grinding and polishing compounds as needed, turn the work OR the tool. There are many applications for wood in machine work. Small round felt polishing pads are part of most Dremel kits.

Besides pieces of lathe cutter bits and taps (which fit nicely into round holes for holding), pieces of old files can be turned into gravers, chisels and punches.

Then you also find out what all those microscopic little machinist's and jeweler's riflers are for. . .

The coin like medalian I mentioned carving in wax and casting above came out fairly well. 99% of the carving was done with my single bladed pocket knife. The most difficult part was getting the ground (the reduced background) smooth. It was still fairly rough when I quit. But this is one of the most important areas of this kind of work as it makes the raised art stand out.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/23/10 13:41:37 EST

More uses for your hydraulic press.

As an armourer I am sure you have made four piece helms. Each quarter of these can be sunk in one shot on such a press. Dies are tough to shape due to size but can be built up or laminated from plate and filled in with arc welding.

You can also do heavy embossing with relatively simple dies. Experiment with rubber or polyurethane backing to replace the bottom die for such work. Saves an immense amount of time and cost.

We make primitive bending dies from round bar welded to a flat plate and recently did some press brake work on 1/4" thick steel 2-1/2" wide using a bottom die made from angle iron. .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/23/10 13:48:51 EST

Guru, I can certainly take better photos for you... at least with a clean background.

I can also provide a measured drawing. sometime after the holiday.

It seems to work well, and I cannot detect any flexing in the frame by eye of machinists straight edge. How else would I test for frame flex at full load? My wife asked about glueing a thin piece of glass to one side of the frame, thinking it would break if the frame flexed too much?

I have used flex shaft rotary tools before, but I'm not to steady with them. I picked up the dremel once in this process and proceeded to scrape straight across the face fo the die, ruining it. My hands shake a bit when doing such tiny deliberate work with a moving tool that can grab and pull. I could never have been a dentist. :) At least with punches, I can place them carefully then tap once. Next I need a small treadle hammer build into my sitting anvil so I can use both hands on the punch.

All your advice will be taken to heart... after I thaw this turkey and the family leaves friday. :) Happy food coma day to you all!
   - MikeM-OH - Tuesday, 11/23/10 13:59:43 EST

Flexing. . Mike, the glass might break, but it is more flexible than you think. In our shop I used to tell the guys that "Steel is like rubber, except when apposed to flesh". If you put a dial indicator on your frame you will be shocked at the movement under load. You would find the spindle on your little lathe flexes when you press a finder against it. .

For steady punching you might want to make a simple fixture that holds the punch, mover the work under it and tap with a hammer.

Another power approach to what you are going is to use a small hand held air hammer.

Dremels and Die Grinders getting away: I've used many of these tools. I've had a Dremel since I was 11 and I've had air and electric die grinders. My old Dremel wore out and has since been replaced. I'm pretty good with them but once in a while they will snag on an edge and take off across a surface as you have noted. I had a nice Milwaukee electric die grinder snag in a hole I was adjusting in some wood and it hoola-hooped so bad that it tore the motor screws out of the gear box. . . :(

Many years ago I had a rust spot in one eye. It was from an exhaust pipe on a car and I looked up at just the wrong time. . . I went to the eye doctor to have it removed. No problem. The put some local anesthetic in your eye, put you under a magnifier and cut out the metal chip. . WITH a miniature die grinder! Everything was fine until I saw the doctor pull his hand back holding the little tool with the little dental type drill. . . all I could think of was my experiences with a Dremel and the little cutters zipping around in a hole or across the work. . . I fainted. They had to carry me out!

I like the photo with the paper keeping the fresh paint from sticking to the jack!
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/23/10 14:43:24 EST

Fresh paint... well, yes, I was a little impatient... but flat spray paint dried fast on hot, just welded steel! :) In fact, some of my longest lasting finishes were sprayed on warm, maybe 200F steel. It certainly was not smooth surface, though, and a 25lb jack didn't slide well without some glossy coupon pages as a bearing. I'm still working towards getting it centered.

I've had many uses for dremels over the years, and worn out one or two, but I'm the limitation on small work, not the tool. :( I've upgraded to HF 1/4 inch electric die grinders for 1/2x1" sanding drums for a lot of things I used to try to do with a dremel. Now I just stay away from such precise work, as I tend to wreck things with one. Eyeball grinding? EEEEEK! No thank you.

Feel free to use the photo as is if you like. the 1.7m original is at http://www.marco-borromei.com/c/CX.jpg
   - MikeM-OH - Tuesday, 11/23/10 19:58:22 EST

Mike, check out these polishing stones:


We used these in the mold shop for polishing mold cavities. They work well.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 11/23/10 21:07:17 EST

A few years ago, I bought one of those 1/8" pencil die grinders (pneumatic). I've rarely picked up my Dremel since. It's a cheap one from Home Depot, and has a good bit less torque than the Dremel. But I can hold it like a, well, pencil, and get much better control that way.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 11/23/10 21:46:05 EST



Find it interesting you read some old literature from Sheffield with the termi Stiddy. I have many of what you refer to as a Stiddy and many of the tools that go along with them and performing the work on knives. Was very fortunate to be around many old-timers who taught me how to use them. One that I have likely came from Sheffield. Just found your mention interesting.
   - Slackner - Wednesday, 11/24/10 01:30:22 EST


Circular Saw Blades

I spoke with a Sawyer friend and he told me the modern circular saw blades used in table and hand held saws are a molybdenum steel. Still not a great deal of info, but may help you in your hardening and tempering.

Maybe instead of annealing and forging material have you considered just cutting them out of the blade and using a stock removal process. Keeping them cool as you work. They are already heat-treated. Just a thought on another approach or option.
   - Slackner - Wednesday, 11/24/10 01:39:03 EST

Fordoms and pencil grinders are great I use mine alot, but for really detailed work I use a high speed hand piece called a power crafter (others go by the name turbo carver or power carver ) it uses dental bits (that are available in carbide and diamond for a $1-2 each) and spins at 300,000 RPM. the very high speed with some what low torque prevents the hula and makes for a much more forgiving tool. working under magnification will also help more than one would think with the shakes, it seems like your movements focus down to the scale of the work when working under magnification. unless you have some sort of nerve disorder as a friend of mine has. his hands shake all the time unless he is actively moving them. he can not draw ,(long even lines) but can sketch with out a problem (short hash marks that for a long line) his way around the disability.
for gravers I picked up a set from gesswin out of hispeed steel that work well (don't get the handles make your own out of steel) and they are rather cheep under $5 each. these work really well on soft hicarbon steels, the trick is to use a VERY light hammer to drive them. I made a little 1/2 OZ chaseing hammer that works well, any thing larger and the points chip, sharping the graver AS SOON as it begins to cut slowly is another thing that gos a long way to preventing the points from chipping. for working on mild steel wrought iron and non ferrous metals I made a set of gravers out of w1 these work well and seem to hold up better in these materials than the high speed steel gravers.
they work on the higher carbon steels but require sharpening a lot more.
   mpmetal - Wednesday, 11/24/10 08:23:52 EST

Hi, I have a finishing question. Has anyone tried mixing lampblack with pledge to use as a finish on iron? Also has anyone made there own lampblack?
   Dan - Wednesday, 11/24/10 16:31:36 EST

Dan, First, I generally recommend that folks always purchase professionally formulated products for finishing their work. Second, if you are using something for a different purpose than it is intended then you are generally on your own.

Pledge is a among other things a very thin clear acrylic paint. I have no idea what else is in it. It is NOT a wax.

Lamp black, is soot or fine carbon. It is made by burning many different fuels without enough oxygen and collecting the soot. Automobile tires and other rubber products are UV resistant and black in color due to large quantities of carbon black provided by the oil industry. Yes, you can make your own. Lamp black often contains oils and fuel residue. Carbon black generally is a lot purer carbon.

Black paints often contain carbon black as the primary pigment. But they also contain black iron oxide and other ingrediants to adjust the tone of the black. High temperature paints use graphite as the pigment because of its resistance to oxidation.

If you need to paint something buy paint. As soon as you start formulating your own finish you are making paint at an amateur level and without the benefit of the science and technology of the paint manufacturers. They have access to unbelievable chemical resources, testing labs, and nearly two centuries of of experience.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/24/10 18:22:41 EST

Carbon Black is a suspected carcinogen.
   ptree - Wednesday, 11/24/10 18:54:31 EST

Hey MikeM, I just saw your question about sticking a sheet of glass on your press to see if it flexes enough to break it. As the Guru points out glass is rather flexible until it gets to the breaking point. Then you take the great chance of it shattering with flying shards, especially under the tension you are looking to measure the frame flex with.
Instead look back at the way you are using your machinists straight edge.
What you need to do now is amplify the any movement of the frame by using a more precise indicator.
The simplest way although not the most accurate would be to have a 1"travle, dial indicator set up on a magnetic base. Stick the base to the vertical side of the frame so the indicator point can reach as near the middle of the upper horizontal frame cross member as possible. Now keep your eye on the indicator dial during the pressing operation.
This will not give a completely accurate picture of how much the horizontal crossmember is flexing because it will also show if the frame is flexing out of square at the same time and possably give a false higher reading.
Another quick way would need two small V blocks, one V block clamp, a length of rod to mount the same dial indicator to, that is as long as your press is wide.
Lightly clamp one end of the rod in one V block and set it at either the right or left side of the upper cross member so the point of the dial indicator can touch the opposit side. Now slide the other V block under the rod at what ever location you want to measure for flex. At this point I should mention that a short chunk of round stock that the rod can lay over and still be at the correct higth would be better but, sometimes it is harder to find the right size and V blocks are often baught in matching sets.
Now, as you perform your pressing operation, any flex in the cross member will be greatly amplified by your indicator.
I believe this is a second class lever (like a wheel barrow ) so you could look the formula up and be able to calculate how much actual movement you have and, see if you can live with it or not.
Just don't try this after too much turkey or you'll end up with your head stuck in the press...

A pleasent and safe holiday to everyone !!
   - merl - Thursday, 11/25/10 00:09:14 EST

As the guru stated above, without carbon black in them, car tires would probably be pink in color like pencil erasers. I used to work in Sterlington, La. where carbon black was made. I worked in the Railroad depot a half a mile or so from the carbon black plant. Some sort of fuel would fill a chamber, then ignited, then there would be a boom like a cannon going off, with the resulting carbon falling to the bottom. Being as I was new to the town, this constant boom, boom would get my nerves on edge.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 11/25/10 00:37:54 EST

Before Dial Indicators they used little lever multiplier indicators. Starrett made one and its still in their 1976 catalog.

At one time making simple multiplier indicators was a common apprentice task. Pointers and wobblers to use on lathes and such. Mechanics, engineers and scientists made small motion indicators using taught wires and high degrees of multiplication.

Generally with some thought you can come up with a way to measure motion such as the press frame stretching. It probably does not need to be very sensitive as I suspect you can measure it in common fractions of an inch or whole millimeters (try using a tape measure). The little Starrett indicator above would run out of travel before you hit 25% of the cylinder's capacity.

   - guru - Thursday, 11/25/10 01:46:51 EST

Hello, I'm trying to get some help with learning about British Naval Blacksmiths in the 18th Century. I'm a member of the Naval Heritage Society, an organization dedicated to preserving and teaching Americans about their Naval heritage. Part of our programming involves recreating Revolutionary War British Marines and Sailors and conducting operations with a restored 26-foot Monomoy pulling boat. I'm currently exploring metal work and blacksmithing as a possible expansion to our organization's programming. One of my goals will be to eventually produce some of our own equipment, such as boat fittings and oar locks, and we've been discussing setting up a British Navy blacksmith impression for events. To that end, I've started learning blacksmithing, myself. I enjoy the blacksmithing so far, but finding historical sources for what a Revolutionary War-era Naval blacksmith might have had are a little thin. I would be thankful for any information you might provide me. I'm specifically interested in the Naval Blacksmith's basic tools and what kind of portable forge they used for work ashore. I'm assuming they had some form of portable forge and bellows, but I don't know if it would be some form of official-issue equipment or something constructed by the smith, himself. Your website's page discussing forge construction was very interesting, however the Viking forge merely wet my appetite instead of sating it. Please email me at thenetraider@hotmail.com and please feel free to check out our organization online at http://www.navalheritage.org/index.htm. Thank you!
   Naval Heritage - Thursday, 11/25/10 03:16:10 EST

Guru, you have all the nicest toys...
I wish I could have worked in the Starrett factory 30 or even 20 years ago.
Up to about ten years ago you could still find an inexpensive version of this lever indicator that sold as an "apprentice indicator" They were supposed to be good to +/- .001 with a .015 TIR range. I don't recall who made them but, I think all the major tool companies made one to go with their apprentice tool sets (they don't seem to sell those any more either)
A simple and interesting device but not nearly as nice as the one you have, to be sure.
   - merl - Thursday, 11/25/10 09:52:15 EST

Mike M,

Maybe you could rigidly mounted a cheap laser pointer about 1/4 of the way down one side of the frame, and mark a point on the ceiling where it hits. As long as the press doesn't move around as you pump it, any movement of the laser spot should tell you that the frame is twisting or bowing out.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 11/25/10 10:39:19 EST

Light and Motion: Way, way back. . in my Soap Box Derby Days one of the engineers who's son was also in the Derby cam up with an axle alignment system using a mirror and a projector. A perfectly straight test axel was set in a fixture with V blocks, the mirror which had a v-block back and all covered except for a narrow slit was placed on the test axel. The reflected light was recorded on a target on the wall next to the projector. The test axel was rotated to determine the exact center. The the race car was set in the blocks and the mirror applied. Then the axles adjusted until the light fell in the same place. The test axel was rechecked to be sure nothing had changed. .

Since this had to be done in the dark we started around 9 PM and didn't finish until after midnight. . . Just a few thousandths showed up as inches on the wall.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/25/10 11:11:11 EST

The Starrett No.64 and more. . I obtained mine with a bunch of stuff at an auction. It originally belonged to a friend's grandfather. I bought a bunch of his precision tools that day hoping to give them back to my friend who had left the area due to tax/legal issues. . . thus the auction. That was over 20 years ago. I haven't seen him since.

The little #64 is the perfect tool for use with my little 6" craftsman lathe. Its small and no more accurate than the lathe. About the same level of technology.

In one of my OLD books on machining there is a number of illustrations of lever pointer indicators. If I ever come across them again I was going to publish them. Neat stuff if you don't have money for a $75 dial indicator. . .

PI Tape: One of the more unusual measuring tools in my collection is a PI tape. These are a precision measuring tape designed to wrap around a shaft. It is marked in PI multiples of inches. Thus you measure the circumference and directly read the diameter. This is very handy for measuring large diameters where other tools would be too expensive, unwieldly or impossible to get to the work.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/25/10 12:12:10 EST

Blacksmithing on the High Seas: The only place I know that knows anything about this is the Mystic Seaport Museum. They have had demonstrating blacksmiths there off and on for decades.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/25/10 12:17:31 EST

I've been making tomahawks and other edged weapons out of old springs and ball pein hammers. What would the proper quality steel be (carbon content and flexability when tempered), to make these items out of using fresh stock? Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving All!!!
   Thumper - Thursday, 11/25/10 15:30:50 EST

The setup Guru described for measuring axle deflection is called an "optical lever" and was very common in the classical physics laboratory of pre WWII
   - John Odom - Thursday, 11/25/10 15:40:02 EST

The setup Guru described for measuring axle deflection is called an "optical lever" and was very common in the classical physics laboratory of pre WWII.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 11/25/10 15:40:42 EST

Thumper you may have been dealing with steels from 1050 to 1095. It is unlikely they are alloy steels except possibly the springs. Hammers are commonly made of 1050. For relatively heavy edged tools something from 50 points of carbon up is suitable. The higher the carbon the more careful you need to be about tempering properly but the less likely you are to overheat and lose temper when grinding. For finer edged tools it is best to have steels of 70 point carbon and higher. The higher the carbon the more care you need in forging and heating.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/25/10 20:26:29 EST

John, Thanks for the term for the device. I was only 13 or 14 at the time and didn't think to ask where the idea came from. These were some pretty sharp fellows. The one with the optical equipment built his own tracking telescopes including hand grinding the mirrors. This was the hobby of a nuclear engineer. . .

Years ago I picked up a pick about the methods of early physic experiments that looked like it should be interesting. But the information and diagrams were so watered down that there was little meat to it. What I was looking for was specifics about the hardware. Those guys were pretty darn ingenious and a lot could be learned from the way they did things.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/25/10 20:36:00 EST

Duh-Huh! I'll get a missive off to Mystic Seaport ASAP. I don't know why I didn't think of them-my dad has been a fan of them for years. Thanks to everyone for the good advice!
   Naval Heritage - Thursday, 11/25/10 21:12:26 EST

Naval Heritage - from an army viewpoint, google Hoffman's Forge. Jymm has 2 traveling forges based on British army documents and does a lot of F & I war & Rev. War historic work. He supplied all of the iron work for the cannon/mortars added to Ft. Ligonier in the last several years.

Thumper - if you want to create ones that duplicate period construction, you'd weld a high carbon bit into a wrought steel body - closest representation using all modern steel would be to weld a high carbon cutting edge into a low carbon/mild steel body, say 1090, or W1 into a 1006 body.

Hammers - I've been playing with analyzing hammers when I have a chance at work - found modern claw hammer head - 1040, or maybe 1043, old about 2 lb cross pein hammer - W1, tool from the Lynch collection - 1030, old pick from Dad's stash, 1 hammer head and 1 pick head - steeled wrought iron, with the steel section runnning about .90 carbon.

I'm pretty sure that most of Armstrong's tools were made of 4340 - at least that what they told me in the 80's when I was calling on them for Airco to discuss improved control on their hardening furnaces. Crescent/Xcelite at that time used a lot of 4140 in their tools, again from working on their furnaces in Sumter, SC while with Airco in the 1980's.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 11/25/10 21:47:05 EST

I've made a few pipe tomahawks and have tried to be true to the material. I made a couple out of contemporary, medium-carbon octagonal rifle barrels. I've made a few of wrought iron with old file steel bird-mouth welded in. I think that www.wisconsinwoodchuck.org has some wrought iron for sale. I've used it, and it is high quality. See "American Indian Tomahawks" by Peterson. There is an appendix by Milford Chandler which tells about the old methods of forging pipe tomahawks.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/26/10 00:38:57 EST

Well, I'm back at home finally and definitely on the mend. For those who have the fortitude and/or patience, the whole story is posted in the Hammer-In, since it bears no relationship to blacksmithing. Well, maybe the trocar they jammed through my chest wall could be construed as metal working...I experienced it a unmitigated agony.

Thanks to all for the good wishes and prayers - I know they made a difference.

   - Rich - Friday, 11/26/10 01:35:54 EST

Hi all,
I am a 50YO jack of most trades and apprentice of one.
Most definately NOT a blacksmith but I do like pounding on things. I have a piece of junk yard steel that is 130mm X 50mm X 1500mm long, (5" x 2" x 5 '), about 80kg, (180lbs) and want to turn it into an anvil. I had ideas of cutting it into smaller pieces and welding it all into the basic, generally accepted shape of an anvil, but also thought I would check here first for other opinions?
As a lump of steel it has a nice ring to it. What I am looking to achieve is a roughly 300 mm X 100mm (12' x4")plate to hammer on, with a horn of sorts for bending stuff around. I have a good sized shed to work in and plan on setting it in place on a solid lump of hardwood.
It will be used for riveting on, flattening pipe ends prior to (electric) welding, bashing stuff, and generally abusing.
Cheers Phil
   Phil - Friday, 11/26/10 07:27:46 EST

Gavainh, The old vOGT forge shop got an order from an American brand of hammers and forged about 15 sizes. All press forgings of C1045. All were one heat, 5 strike closed die with the final strick being a combo coin and punch to remove the eye slug. I have some of the fall offs from the heat treat system. Fall offs truley as they fell off the conveyor that took them from the forge press by the water sprays on the faces and then to cool and temper as they rumbled along the conveyor to then drop in a tub. Made so fast not worth picking any up that fell off and re heating by some means. These were of course industion heated by tunnel coil and fed automatically to the hammer man.

I have a theory, no proof about the wide use of 4140 in forgings for tools etc. As a "Tool steel" and of very easy to heat treat it became popular in the automotive trade for axles and other highly stressed items, was used heavily in aviation as well, and with quantity comes economy and it mushroomed. Every tool and die shop I have ever been in had large quantities stocked as it was so cheap and usefull. Did I mention it is seen as very easy to heat treat? :) It also forges with ease and has somewhat wider tollerence to overheat and reheats, unlike many of the alloy tool steels. The 4140 used in big axle forgings for the heavy equipment trade was usually aerospace grade, and very clean steel.
That is my theory, and i am sticking to it:)
   ptree - Friday, 11/26/10 08:43:21 EST

Phil, it sounds like you already hav a plan in mind for what you want to achieve with your blacksmithing efforts and, that is probably the biggest help to yourself.
From here I would suggest you look in the "plan file" under the Navigate pull down menu.
You will find many good ideas there and most of them easily applied to your piece of stock.
   - merl - Friday, 11/26/10 11:30:58 EST

Little Anvil Block: Phil, The modern anvil shape is a cultural icon based on tradition coming out the horse drawn era. It is largely a farriers tool that others have adopted but in many other parts of the world simple blocks and other shapes are used. The shape you have is commonly used as a bench block or bench anvil by many craftsfolk.

For most use you want as much mass in line with hammer as blow as possible. That means using this piece on edge is best for heavier hammering. A stand to hold it on edge may be all you need. Anvils need to be compact mass. The more cube like the better.

I would not cut that little block up. At 14 pounds it is a rather small anvil. Even if you weld the pieces back together there will be losses. You may want to add odd bits and pieces to it rather than cutting it up. A horn can be made from a piece of round bar, the tip off a heavy machinery bucket. . many things. Since it is best used on edge you may want to add feet made of plate or angle iron.

On this small an anvil a hardy (square) hole is of small use. But drill holes through the plate may be of use for punching. If you really want a small hardy hole you could weld a flea market 3/4" drive socket to one end of the "anvil". If its chrome plated, grind the chrome off OR weld it with stainless rod.

Despite the above, the best plan is to keep it simple. As it is you can use it on edge, on the flat, clamp it in a vise and use it on corner. .
   - guru - Friday, 11/26/10 12:36:25 EST

Phil & block anvil,

Don't get too hung up on generally accepted anvil shapes. Look here at the two pieces we made from a fork lift tine. I still use the smaller piece every day, althoguh upon weighing it for the first time last month, I find its 95 lbs not the 50 stated here:

Your chunk of junk yard steel sound the same. if you HAVE to cut it, consider cutting it in half and welding it back up, offset by 1". That gives you a 4"x4" face and two small horn areas with all the mass under the face.

I work long sections of bar as well as 12x12" square sheets on that little face without any problems.
   MikeM-OH - Friday, 11/26/10 14:04:37 EST

I think it's 5 inch by 2 inch by five feet. That's why he said 180 lbs. Just bury the end in the ground, maybe sitting on a big rock so the face is around 30 inches off the floor. That 2 X 5 inch face will work for most of what you describe.
   - grant - nakedanvil - Friday, 11/26/10 14:51:11 EST

My reading glasses need replacement. . . higher power. Missed the length (easy) and weight (not so easy).

Mikes suggestion is good. I still would not cut it up a lot.

Small sturdy work areas with lots of mass under them are better than large flat areas with little mass or direct support.
   - guru - Friday, 11/26/10 15:13:55 EST

As a result of our discussions about presses I have updated the Hydraulic Press article. It now has four manual presses. Lots of construction choices.
   - guru - Friday, 11/26/10 15:39:13 EST

how do i send you pictures? or rather to what address? thanks
   brad - Friday, 11/26/10 20:14:03 EST

I emailed you some corrections to the particulars concerning one of the items in your anvil forum.

Thanks Brother :)
   - Slackner - Friday, 11/26/10 20:14:50 EST

i have three pictures of that rather unusual anvil i mentioned some time ago. these ones were much cleare and shows the part i was talking about. it is different than what it originally appeared.
   brad - Friday, 11/26/10 20:24:33 EST

I have an early single blade coke bottle hunting knife for which I need a spring--have tried the usual suppliers I have bought from in the past and have come up empty. Can you recommend as supplier who may stock this type of spring material that I can oil temper--
Gordon Rich
   Gordon Rich - Friday, 11/26/10 23:21:54 EST

Guru, Frank & Gavainh. Thanks for the input. I'm making hawks for competition throwing, my target market is re-enactors. Also camp hawks both spike and poll(pole), for the same folks. Period correct doesn't include metallurgy (thank God), so using 1040-1050 steel should work fine. By the way, Guru, I thank you again for putting up the "JYH" site!!! My "Spare Tire Hammer" makes pounding higher carbon steel do-able on a regular basis !!! Hope more folks took the bait and made one for themselves.
   Thumper - Friday, 11/26/10 23:31:04 EST

No mail about anvils has arrived.

Brad, you can e-mail them to me. We do pretty good at identifying anvils but there are many that are not identifiable. Often folks also want to know when anvils were made. Many did not change for nearly 100 years and their are VERY few that anything is known about serial numbers if they had them.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/27/10 00:35:16 EST

Hi Guru
I checked my email server and it is working fine. Somehow I wound up on your email server blocked list. Darn electric spam gismos...LOL.

I will send the info again.
   - Slackner - Saturday, 11/27/10 00:44:21 EST

Dear Guru,

I am very sorry if this question has been asked before but I have been unable to locate an answer in the archives. How would you recommend video recording a smithing demonstration (specifically a close up of the hot metal) without the picture going dark? I am asking because I would like to record some of the NJ blacksmith Association members during our open forge nights to be viewed on the web. Thank you for your help!

   John S - Saturday, 11/27/10 01:00:40 EST

John S

There is a guy over on forgemagic that has done video for hundreds of blacksmith demos and events. I don't remember his handle off hand, but someone will be able to direct you right to him. I just can't think of anyone else with more knowledge than he can offer to you.

I hope it was ok to mention across the way, only trying to be helpful.
   - Slackner - Saturday, 11/27/10 01:31:27 EST

The "going dark" issue depends on the camera (or settings) and ambient lighting. I would start with the manual for the camera. Of course those are getting pretty worthless these days. . appearing to be full of information when in fact they are just the same basics translated in 20 languages. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/27/10 08:45:32 EST

On the "going dark" issue, the problem is auto exposure. Your camera is trying to make the entire image average out to what a normal frame would look like, which means that a very bright portion of the image will throw off the average, making everything else dark. Check to see if you can set the exposure value manually, then experiment until the video looks right.

In the old days (like 15 years ago) you could go into any camera store and purchase something called an "18% grey card" which was nothing more than a piece of cardboard that was printed with enough black ink that it came out to 18% black, 82% white. If you meter off of one of these cards and set your exposure accordingly, your photo would be exposed at the theoretical optimum.

In the current age of digital photography such things have fallen out of use, much to the detriment of beginning photographers. Those of us who learned on film have a better grasp of the craft than the current "click and hope" crowd, but since you can now take hundreds of photos and delete all but the absolute best, it all comes out in the wash, I guess.

Your video camera may not have a manual exposure option, but it might have the option to lock the exposure. If that's the case, compose your shot without the bright item in the frame, lock the exposure, then move forward.

Do be careful, however... CCD sensors can be damaged by ultra-bright light sources like the sun. For normal forging videos that *shouldn't* be an issue, but don't leave the camera pointed at the same bright object for long periods of time. Again, let the manual be your guide.
   Tanix - Saturday, 11/27/10 10:31:46 EST

I once saw a camera where someone had locked the mirror up to steady the camera for photographing and eclipse. Had nice moon shaped holes burned in the curtain shutter. . .

My first digital camera was automatic only and often would not focus in low light. No focus lock, no photo, even if the focus was good. I started carrying around a gray card with a narrow stripe of black tape on it to set the exposure and focus. Was not perfect but worked until I replaced the camera.

While I much preferred my old manual OM-1's with built in meter and rarely took bad photos with it, I'm afraid I've gotten spoiled by the automatic everything on my Nikon digital - the manual modes being much too complicated compared to my old film cameras. However, it often fails to perform well even in fail lighting situations. Then the digital factor and easy image editing come into play. But such editing of video is much more difficult and blanket modifications do not work in widely varying light conditions.

While my Nikon is relatively new it is already "old" technology and much less expensive cameras often do a better job. . . I haven't even gotten into video. But I understand the new version of my Nikon also takes video. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/27/10 11:11:30 EST


I see some typos under the double horn homemade anvil that could use correction. Would you like the corrections emailed to you?

I also found photos of the little swage block pattern, core box and master mold last night. I didn't know I still had those. Would you be interested in adding those to the swage block photos? Let me know if you would like them emailed to you.

   - Burnt Forge - Saturday, 11/27/10 13:30:44 EST

John S, one thing that I found helps when taking videos of hot metal, is to have as much background light as you can.
Even if you have to resort to a clamp on light with an outdoor flood light bulb in it (or a couple of them for that matter)
If your staging the event for the videos sake then you need to do everything you can to improve your chances of getting a good shot the first time. As most of us know, it is offten times difficult to get a "do over" to come out the same for the purpose of getting a better shot.
Another thing that I do is to take a lenz from a pair of broken sun glasses and tape it on to my camera so it hangs in front of the lenz. I have a couple of videos that I'll get around to posting on Anvilfire (one of these days...) that have the cover lenz on and you can't tell it's there.
I happen to have a pair of the clip on sun glasses, that I need when working with the fire, that got broke on the way home from the store. Because they were brand new and completly scratch free they don't interfear with what the lenz sees and, they are not too dark but, cut the glare nicely.
Don't forget also that no matter how good the camera, it doesn't see what your eye sees. You are going to have to adjust your light levels to meet the needs of the camera to help it see what your eyes see.
I have also found that the "going dark" (on my camera anyway)can offten be fixed by widening out the shot.
This must be because of the auto averaging the light sensor does.
I guess the only way to get a good close up would be strong ambient light to offset the glare of the hot metal and the demonstrator will have to get used to working in the bright light.
Good luck !
   - merl - Saturday, 11/27/10 15:05:53 EST

Knife Question?? What was the name of the Blacksmith from back in the 20s that made knives and would demonstrate how tough they were by cutting up buggy axles?
   - Slackner - Saturday, 11/27/10 15:59:24 EST

Just a quick note: I throw 'hawks in competition and we only use mild steel. As we throw two hawks per round they often hit together and hardened hawks can chip or break. Just carry a file to dress them occasionally.
   - grant - nakedanvil - Saturday, 11/27/10 17:51:37 EST

Grant, thanks for the input. The guy's I make em for use them as camp axes also so they need to hold an edge, they do a lot of rendezvous and their throwing contests are usually one hawk and one knife. I guess a different type of reenactors than you folks.
   Thumper - Saturday, 11/27/10 20:58:30 EST

Friend has an 18 hole course setup in the 40-acre woods, great way to spend an afternoon.
   - grant - nakedanvil - Saturday, 11/27/10 21:14:10 EST

Thanks for all the info guys, I will be sure to let you know how the videos turn out!
   John S - Saturday, 11/27/10 23:18:07 EST

Thanks for all the info guys, I will be sure to let you know how the videos turn out!
   John S - Saturday, 11/27/10 23:18:59 EST

I have two large peter wright anvils.one with numbers 4 2 3,meaning 507lb,the other larger one6 0 17 689lb.The larger one has two hardie holes.It also is slightly different in that you go straight to the horn from the face.There is no step.Have i got a very unusual piece.I woud have posted pics but can't see that option.Thanks in advance
   richy - Sunday, 11/28/10 20:24:41 EST

Richy, The one without a step may be a European style anvil. Many manufacturers made them including U.S. makers but VERY VERY few ended up in the U.S. If you need help with the ID email the photos to me (click on my name).
   - guru - Sunday, 11/28/10 21:06:45 EST

Thanks all for the input to my idea of making an anvil.
And surprisingly enough, the day after posting I came across a piece of 2" plate about 12" wide and 30" long, and for the guru.... TWO INCHES THICK BY 12 INCHES WIDE BY 30 INCHES LONG ;) Not really shouting, just larger font :)
So now my plan is to torch a working surface out of the new plate about 15" long by 6" wide, and then cut the previous mentioned 5 foot long bar into 4 pieces, weld them flat to flat into a block so I finish with a 5" wide by 8" long body about 14" high. Weld the larger plate onto this and end up with a block anvil, with most of the mass under the plate
-->MikeM-OH I like your idea of for the double horned anvil but the working square in the middle is a little small for my liking.
Anyway I hope I have explained the method clearly enough for you to visualize the finished product.
What does everyone think of the idea of radiusing one 6" end of the top plate to give a curved surface to work against, albeit you would be hammering sideways to make use of it, unless it was tipped on its opposite end?
Still open to suggestions.
Perhaps I should add that I am a machinist by trade and do backyard jobs, mainly for farmers and fishermen. I have been doing most of my anvil work on a 12' x 12" timber block that I generally only use for punching, and cover with a small steel plate for forging work. Finding that it is not standing up to the flogging it is receiving is the reason behind the homebuilt anvil.
Cheers Phil
   Phil - Monday, 11/29/10 01:03:26 EST

Home made anvil

Not sure if I would ever make use of a hardy hole, (having no hardy tools,.....yet).
Looking at the plans of anvils on here, there does not seem to be any real standard placement for location. Or even minimum distance from the edge to prevent hole deformation.
But if I were to put one in....?
   Phil - Monday, 11/29/10 01:08:43 EST

Phil, Sometimes we put a blocky sort of tool in the hardy hole, like say, a 4"x4" bottom swage. The top edges of the hole can have a small radius, so that when you're through-punching, you don't get such definitive marks on the workpiece.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 11/29/10 09:52:00 EST

Take a large cold chisel, cut about 2 or 3 inches from cutting edge, weld to square stock that fits the hardie hole. Heat treat, now you have a nice cut off hardie.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 11/29/10 10:08:44 EST

Hardy Holes and Locations A hardy hole is not an absolute necessity and many anvils did not have one. But they are so handy for so many things that they are found on virtually all anvils made sine the mid 1800's. Pritchel (round) punching holes are found on the smallest jeweler's anvils and in multiple sizes on some blacksmiths anvils. These can be punched or drilled and are located on the center line of the anvil in most cases and near one corner of the heel on English/American pattern anvils.

Their location varies according to the style of anvil, regional preferences and manufacturing method. Most are centered on the face but many early anvils had them near the side with a curved exit out the side of the anvil.

Generally the best location is centered on the face as near the body as possible so that anything that falls through the hole can escape. The nearer the body the sturdier the support for tools. The nearer the end of the heel (as on English and American pattern anvils) the bouncier and noisier the location. The hole should be less than 1/3 the width of the face with sides parallel to the edges (NEVER turned diagonally). The modern standard is now 1" square.

On double horned anvils the square hole is sometimes at the round horn end, sometimes at the square but most often at the round horn end.

On cast anvils the hole can be in any location and very deep often needing some bottom relief. On forged anvils the tendency is to push it out on the heal where the depth of the hole is not so great. But some of the best designed forged anvil makers did it right and put the hole immediately adjacent to the body in the sturdiest location despite the difficulty making the hole. On modern anvils with broached holes the depth is limited and there must be tool clearance, so they are out away from the body and/or counter bored from the bottom so the broach does not need to cut an extremely deep hole.

DIY Hardy holes are made various ways.
  • Drill or torch an oversize hole then insert a piece of square tubing and fill in with weld around it. I do not like this method because of the resulting voids and porosity.
  • Machine a square hole by drilling and milling or filing (see our iForge square hole article)
  • Add one to the side of the anvil as shown in our anvil making articles. This is not the sturdiest but is the simplest method.
  • Cut square notches in two pieces of the top plate then weld them together.
  • Machine a square slot in one horn or the other with full penetration weld preps and wed it to the side of the anvil body.
All these methods work and have their advantages and disadvantages.
   - guru - Monday, 11/29/10 11:26:48 EST

Stacked Plates: When making an anvil, be it a shop anvil or power hammer anvil stacking plates is very inefficient use of the mass. With every joint there is a loss in support. While the mass is there, it is doing less for you. Each joint represents an air space or discontinuity in the metal. The inefficiency rapidly declines to the point where the added mass is doing very little at the working surface.

SO, stack your plates on edge EXCEPT the top plate. I show several methods in my anvil making articles for welding multiple plates to the face and getting much better use of the material.

If you do not believe me about the mass being in-line with the hammer blows take a long slender rod (say 1/2" by 36"), hold it horizontally and strike it on the end with a hammer. Feel the rebound from this small mass that is entirely in line with the hammer. Then stack a bunch of thin parts such as large washers and strike them. Feel the mushiness and lake of rebound.
   - guru - Monday, 11/29/10 11:45:00 EST

Rounded Edges, Features and Working Positions:

First, while it is a VERY common tradition to work standing behind the anvil with the face perpendicular to your position and the horn to your off hand side, this is not the only way to work at the anvil. Many people will argue that there was no traditional position and no left verses right hand but the evidence is on the battered away-side edges of MILLIONS of anvils.

There is also a safety aspect of working this position if you form curves, scrolls or shoes over the horn. While holding the work in your off hand (most commonly the left) and bending over the horn, when the work which wraps around the horn is taken off the end of the horn it is moved AWAY from your body. If you work with the horn to your working hand side then you pull the hot work INTO your body.

Today many smiths now practice standing behind the heel or square horn end of the anvil. It is somewhat easier to hold work over the edge of the anvil and see clearly what you are doing, and strike the work from this position. Anvils with the hardy hole at the round horn end of the anvil also work better this way because the hardy is out of the way. Work wrapped around the horn is still moved away from your body.

However, the BEST working position is to have NO favorite position and practice working from any direction that suits the work at hand. Experienced smiths take advantage of every feature of the anvil working the steps and inside corners, using the hardy hole for light dishing, using the horn for fullering (do not do this on welded on horns).

However, we tend to position the anvil one way relative to the forge and work the closest position. Try to practice flexible work positions. Remember also that many European anvil were once made to lay on their sides and backs to present more work surfaces and some smiths occasionally used them upside down!

Newbies tend to stand too far away from the anvil, as if they are scared of it. Stand close to it as if protecting it from others. Practice standing straight up, not hunching over the anvil. Good work posture comes from practice and paying attention to not developing bad working habits.

My friend Josh Greenwood occasionally does demos using hornless (broken) anvils and large blocks of mild steel. The point is that an anvil does not need a horn for much of the work that people think you must have a horn for. In both cases he has ground a nice rounded section on one edge of the anvil. On the broken hornless anvil he radiused the edge where the horn had broken off. This was a heavier radius than what is normal for anvil edges but not a great deal more so. He demos making leaves, scrolls and other shapes that are normally considered needing a horn. However, he prefers an anvil with a full complement of features and takes advantage of them all.

   - guru - Monday, 11/29/10 12:49:26 EST

RE: no step on anvils--Once I purchased an anvil for a friend of mine who wanted one. It was a Henry Wright (not Peter Wright), and it didn't have a cutting shelf between the face and horn. Looked like a well-made (forged) English anvil from anytime after the mid 1800's. The guy I bought it from said it was out of a shipping container of blacksmith tools assembled out of the midwest. Since this was north CA, there was some value-added pricing, I am sure, but it was a typical price for an anvil in CA, and my friend was happy with it. It is now in Ohio, so I guess it has gone in a circle, back, more or less, to it's working roots
   - David Hughes - Monday, 11/29/10 12:56:21 EST

Hi,I'm making my first knife, and I was wondering about hardening and tempering. It's made of spring steel from an old hay rake.
I've got a rough idea of how to harden it, I tried twice and got it significantly harder the second time, but not as hard as it could be, I think. I don't know much about the specifics of tempering beyond having seen it done once or twice at a bit of a distance.
   Samuel - Monday, 11/29/10 15:42:50 EST

Once you get used to having that (or any other) feature you miss it. While they are not used a lot for cutting the step is handy for bending over an air gap, for working into a corner and so on. Some English and American made double horned anvils for export had steps on both ends, where European anvils had neither.
   - guru - Monday, 11/29/10 15:47:37 EST

Samuel, First, see our FAQ page and under J, Junkyard Steels, Then see the Heat Treating article for the basics. Should answer most of your questions.
   - guru - Monday, 11/29/10 15:50:14 EST

Slackner---what country? Australia, England, Hong Kong, South Africa---*world* wide web!

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/29/10 17:14:40 EST

Hi Thomas P
In the USA.
   - Slackner - Monday, 11/29/10 19:03:53 EST

IIRC Buck Knives has fairly recently used nail cutting in their ads---in my lifetime at least.

Unfortunately I'm not old enough for the time you mentioned. Have you inquired on one of the knife forums? That might be more profitable than on a blacksmithing site...

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/29/10 20:29:49 EST

Guru, The information on the use of the anvil was great. This is why I look forward to comming on line every day and reading what's happening on Anvil.com. Great Job
Stan C
   - Stan C - Monday, 11/29/10 21:09:02 EST

Yeah, I only thought of Buck. Their logo is a knife being hammered through a steel bolt. . . They still use it on some of their knives. They also use a really BAD anvil with a B. But I've never heard of cutting axles.

Interesting. . the first "Buck" knives were hand ground from files. . .
   - guru - Monday, 11/29/10 21:42:34 EST

just as interesting, my first knife was made from a file but, nobody ever called me "Buck".
I find it hard to believe now but, when I was a freshman in high school, my shop teacher supplied the worn out 14" mill file and a brand new single cut mill file for me to draw file the larger one into the SCUBA diving knife I wanted to make.
I used the heat treat furnace at school to anneal the file but, I had to take it home to work on it.
Geez, now days my shop teacher would probably get arrested for helping to "contribute to the delinquency of a minor" and, I would surely be expeled from school for my interests.
   - merl - Monday, 11/29/10 23:45:23 EST

I have been looking for a recipe for browning metal. Look at this site and see what you think. Also, it advises using boiling copal varnish for preserving iron pieces.

   Mike T. - Tuesday, 11/30/10 00:42:52 EST

Mike, The varnish as used in this case does not color the metal, it assumes a previous finish (blueing, browning, Parkerizing) to be further rust proofed.

There are hundreds of browning formulas. If you insist on doing it the hard way look for the book Firearm Bluing and Browning by Angier.

   - guru - Tuesday, 11/30/10 03:31:32 EST

More bluing, browning. There are commercial products that are much simpler and more fool proof than many other methods. There were ads for the folks that sell such products on that page.

Also note, that the site in question is a link trap. It is designed primarily to generate income from google ads. There is nothing wrong with that, however, the vast majority of these sites have information gathered from other sources by people who know nothing about the subjects. It is selected for key words not accuracy or usefulness of information.

Browning: One of the most common browning methods is just plain rust done in a controlled manner. Like all such finishes it starts with clean uniformly finished metal. Then the parts are put into a "damp box" and allowed to rust. To prevent marks and staining parts are carefully supported on wood pegs or non-metallic knife edges. Gun barrels have their ends plugged and supported by the plugs. Some folks use hydrogen-peroxide to create the damp as it gives off oxygen thus creating an oxygen rich environment for the rust.

The part is allowed to rust until it has a fine even coat of rust then it is removed, cleaned and "carded" with a piece of soft wood to remove any loose rust. It is then cleaned again, the final handling always with cotton gloves and placed back in the damp box. This is repeated over and over until a dense smooth coat of rust is created.

The browning is then oiled or processed further by boiling in mild chemical solutions to darken the color.

All such oxide finishes are primarily a surface resist the rust that occurs on bright metal and to hold oil. Without the oil corrosion can continue on oxide finishes. This is the reason that even though most guns are thoroughly finished the owners clean and oil them regularly. I do not recommend such finishes for anything that is expected to be low maintenance. That is what paint is for.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/30/10 11:47:36 EST

Thanks for the information guru. In the past, I have found many old time formulas for different things, but it seems a lot of that stuff can't be found anymore. I wish I had made copies and kept a folder.
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 11/30/10 17:59:24 EST

Mike T,

A ot of times those old timey chemicals are still quite available but you have to know the modern name for them. The old guys may have said "cream of tartar" but you can just ask for potassium bitartrate. Oil of vitriol is what today we call sulfuric acid. Blue vitriol is copper sulfate. The list goes on and on. A bit of patient research online may very well get you what you need.

   - Rich - Tuesday, 11/30/10 18:40:17 EST

Merl...The world has sure changed...In rural arears, kids use to bring their rifles to shop class after hunting season and get credit for refinishing the stocks.. Now the SWAT team would be called !!
   - arthur - Tuesday, 11/30/10 19:09:31 EST

Yup I was reading a list of rules for an early 19th century schoolroom and was greatly amused that you would receive demerits for *not* bringing a knife to school---why they are still called "pen knives" BTW.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/30/10 19:24:50 EST

Even though it was against the rules to carry a knife when I went through school I did so from about the 6th grade until I graduated. I never flaunted it. But I used it in shop class, drafting and art. I did a bunch of detail carving in leather hard clay one semester. Also used it to cut mats, sharpen specialty pencils. Used it every day. The teachers never said a thing. In Boy Scouts I (and most of the other scouts) carried 6" long hunting knives on our belt. Worthless tool for out needs, but it was "standard equipment". Got thrown at trees more than anything else. . . My pocket knife was the useful tool and a hand axe second.

A that time, the worst thing that would happen at school, unless I was threatening someone with it or damaging school property was the knife would be confiscated. Today, students are expelled and must go through counseling IF they are allowed to return to school. I suspect the unneeded counseling REALLY screws them up. . . and those that are not allowed to graduate DEFINITELY screws them up. Which shows just how screwed up our society has become.

And the first thing every kid wants to make when faced with metalworking equipment is a knife or sword. .
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/30/10 23:26:21 EST

Update on modified Appalachian style helve hammer - I got my springs sorted out. I took off the top and bottom helper springs, which were about as long as the main spring and shackled to it at the ends, and replaced them with some of the medium-short leaves out of the stack, which still had their arch. These were approximately 1/3 the length of the main leaf.

What a difference! We had essentially converted the springs into a solid beam. With the main leaf free to flex and do its thing, the hammer hits nice and hard. It contacts the helper springs right at about the extreme of its flex, not putting undue stress on the main leaf (I believe). Turns 1" square into very thin flat with alacrity and ease. In fact, I may move the pivot point of the eccentric back down a notch or two to shorten the stroke and take the power down a bit for general forging. I'll have to play with it more and see.

I'm working on changing from bolted-on dies to a quick-change system. After I'm done with that, I'll shoot a new video documenting the changes and showing how hard the hammer hits.

I do have to say, I think that this is probably about as much weight on which a person would want to use a tire clutch setup (it has an 80 pound ram, plus the weight of the die). It's eating rubber a bit. I'm thinking about putting a layer of sacrificial rubber, perhaps inner tube or round hay baler belt, around the tire.

Would a slack belt clutch with a flat belt be the next step up on a machine like this?
   - Stormcrow - Tuesday, 11/30/10 23:53:13 EST

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