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 16 - 23, 2011 on the Guru's Den
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Set punches : We needed a smaller set punch in the shop, so we got an old one and dressed it down to about 3/8".

Problem, it has a tendency to bend a bit and mushroom slightly. We are always dressing it to keep it from sticking in the stock.

Is there a practical minimum size to a set punch?

   Rudy - Wednesday, 11/16/11 00:13:18 EST

Rudy, The smaller the punch the faster it heats up and the quicker you need to work. Small punches also need to be heat resistant alloys AND used with a good lube and regular cooling. Using lube and repeated cooling you can punch quite deep with a carbon steel punch. But alloy steels like H13 and H27 hold up better.

Dressing the corners to a slight radius lets the hot steel flow around the punch easier and reduces mushrooming.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/16/11 00:45:57 EST

3/8" Punch : With punches under about 1/2", they heat very quickly, particularly if you're driving them with a striker - figure on two or, at the most, three blows before you yank it out and cool/lube it. If you watch videos of Mark Aspery punching you'll see he does it this way and I rarely see him dressing punches.

I've made punches from everything from old car springs to H-13 and they all mushroom if you stay in the work too long. Also if you go more than about 2/3 of the way through the stock in the first heat - the biscuit is getting cold really quick at that point and getting harder just as the punch is getting softer. The result is shrinking of the hole at the bottom and slight swelling of the punch tip as it heats, resulting in sticking, so then it gets hard to pull and heats even more. I find it works much better to hit it a couple times, a quick quench in the lube and then back to the work if there's enough heat left. There usually is, since working this way I don't have sticking problems. Then flip the work over and punch it through when the heat is right at the low end of the working range and you get a clean cut out on the biscuit.

As Jock notes, a slight radius lets the metal flow, and the radius also means that you don't have sharp, thin corners to absorb so much heat so quickly.
   Rich - Wednesday, 11/16/11 08:01:48 EST

One thing I warn folks of when punching, even with the very best lube is that the metal in the punch heats just the same. I try to never hit more than 3 blows before pulling and cooling the punch. I like the water based punch lubes because they both cool and lube the punch. A good lube lets you get deeper quicker, but no lube prevents heat transfer, and if the punch end mushrooms sticking occurs.
The water based lubes that you dip or spray on have the additional cooling power of evaporation of the water, vs coal dust that does no cooling. Oil based and grease based systems don't cool much just a little heat transfer, by evaporation of water in the lube pulls tremendous heat from the punch.

In industrial forges, where the dies may be hitting the hot billet every 6 to 10 seconds in an auto forge setup, the heat transfer is very detrimental to die life. Going from an oil and graphite lube sprayed between every hit to a water based alkaline salt lube increased die life by up to 400% in some of the cases I know of. Mostly the dies did not heat check and erode as badly.
   ptree - Wednesday, 11/16/11 11:17:00 EST

Hot Punch Lube : What works very well for me, while punching holes in hot steel, is using a very briney mixture of NaCl and water. Table salt melts at around 1500 degrees farenheit, and works fabulously as a quench medium/punch lubricant when punching hot holes. Good Luck!
   stewartthesmith - Wednesday, 11/16/11 14:35:07 EST

Punch lube : I just had some high temp (2,000*) ACP grease given to me. Would that
work as a punch lube?
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 11/16/11 15:46:12 EST

punch lube, touchmark : I'm getting a touchmark made of H-13, assuming it is to be used on hot not cold work. Would the use of a lube prolong its life and make striking a good mark take less effort? Or would it just be overkill?
   Willy Cunningham - Wednesday, 11/16/11 16:34:55 EST

Willy, I use the alkaline salt lube on my 4140 alloy touch mark. Mine is homemade and requires reverse extrusion to fill the mark. Works much better when I use the lube.
   ptree - Wednesday, 11/16/11 16:59:29 EST

Punch (forging) Lube :
In a few weeks we are going to be carrying the P3 Forge alkaline salt lube that Ptree has been telling us about for years. It will be sold undiluted in gallon and 1/2 gallon jugs. Its clean, non-toxic and doesn't produce noxious fumes.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/16/11 17:29:21 EST

Basics in hand punching : In hand forge work, you might not need to lube if you're punching, say, a 3/16" thick strap hinge. When the stock gets thick, the lube is then really a help. The thickest I work is 1 5/8" square medium carbon steel for hammer heads. Besides the lube, I make sure that the punch is tapered and has a flat bottom on the business end. The taper helps with punch removal as you're working. It also helps if the punch itself is down to bare metal, scale free. If you have a good striker who hits hard, it is helpful, and it aids in preventing "punch suck-in." Suck-in is the slight depression on the workpiece surrounding the punch entry. It can be minimized by using the proper heats and hard blows. In working by yourself, I suggest using a helper stand, adjusted anvil high, and hooking a weight on the workpiece between anvil and stand to hold the work steady. I use a 5 pound hammer.

Quite a few beginners use rapid, dinky blows. It becomes a habit. When you tell them to hit harder, they don't. Instead, they speed up the rhythm, and the blows are still dinky. I suggest slowing the rhythm and lifting the hammer higher. Then each blow will be more telling.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/16/11 20:12:05 EST

"In a few weeks we are going to be carrying the P3 Forge alkaline salt lube that Ptree has been telling us about for years. It will be sold undiluted in gallon and 1/2 gallon jugs. Its clean, non-toxic and doesn't produce noxious fumes."

....Jock forgot to mention the rare custom size that smells like oregano
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 11/16/11 22:01:12 EST

Punch-Drunk : When punching large, oval holes, like those for making hammer-eyes, I drill two holes first, with a 3/8 inch-1/2 inch bit on my drill press, before punching out the eye. I got this idea after reading a snippet in the book Practical Blacksmithing, by Richardson. When punching an oval eye-hole in stock larger than one inch, this helps to keep the hole aligned and straight. What I am basically doing is punching out the material between the two drill-holes while the material is hot. Much easier!
   stewartthesmith - Thursday, 11/17/11 08:00:35 EST

ranger anvil : do you know anything about a ranger AP farrier anvil who made it what is it made of thanks vern
   vern kelderman - Thursday, 11/17/11 15:56:55 EST

Hammers : Hey Guru,
What is a good hammer weight for all purpose smithing.It may be an impossible question but if you could only have one!
   Peter - Thursday, 11/17/11 20:54:21 EST

Vern, These were a farriers anvil and sold through Centaur Forge at one time. "AP" was the maker. Not sure what it stands for.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/17/11 21:59:07 EST

Tip of The Day : I don't like that one. I don't consider myself a newbie, but I use rail road spikes regularly to make punches and other odd ball things in trade to my buddies
   Hayden - Thursday, 11/17/11 22:10:57 EST

Hayden, I didn't say there was anything wrong with using scrap, only that it was very limiting. "These sources are usually quite limited and are not suitable for many jobs."

If you specialize in making RR-spike art that is another thing. But try to make a fire tool set from RR-spikes or car springs. . . Or a multiple arm candelabra. . . Or how about a run of 100 S-hooks?

You do a lot with scrap but at some point you need to buy new bar stock.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/17/11 22:31:05 EST

Peter, Hand or Power? :)

Hammer size is a personal and physical preference. If you are new to forging and haven't used a hammer for extended periods such as working as a carpenter then you need to start fairly light, about 2 to 2.2 lbs (900 to 1000 g) - 2-1/2 pounds (1134 g) if you are pretty strong. Over time if you work enough you will build up muscle and hammer control. At some point your hammer will feel a little light and then move up to a bigger hammer.

Then there are tasks such as center punching, light riveting and so on that a 1 pound or 16 oz. (~450g) ball pien is a heavy hammer. They are hard to find now but small ball pien hammers used to come in 2oz. and 1oz. increments down to about 2oz. A size for every task.

In power hammers the range runs from little 1 pound or less riveting hammers up to huge many ton forging hammers. The best size for the general blacksmith shop is from 50 to 200 pounds depending largely on what you can afford but also on the scale of work you intend to do.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/17/11 22:31:20 EST

VERN; RANGER ANVIL : That AP Ranger anvils were made in Conroe, Texas, into the 1970's. The alloy reportedly is chromium, nickel, molybdenum, and carbon and the anvils were heat treated to a Rockwell C 48. See "Anvils in America" by Richard Postman, page 231.

I haven't shod a horse since 1972, but the name Al Pinson came to mind. Al used to run a farrier's school in Grapevine, Texas, and he might have been a help on the design of these farrier's patterns. Furthermore, I'm wondering whether he sold them at his school. AP for Al Pinson.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/17/11 22:57:42 EST

I saw a picture of 2 anvils I made. If you would like more info let me know. I am brand new to this site. Hope this post is OK. Phil
   - Phil Cox - Thursday, 11/17/11 23:01:54 EST

Phil, Welcome to anvilfire.

As noted I'm not sure where that photo came from. It was taken at an event somewhere and donated to us many years ago. I found it when when I was setting up miniature anvils for the Gallery page.

There is quite a bit of interest in Miniature Anvils. We would be glad to have more information about your work. Our forums currently do not allow posting images but you can email them to me.
   - guru - Thursday, 11/17/11 23:42:33 EST

Scrap : I agree, but would like to disagree. Have I ever told you guys how much I love election season? The horrible attack ads, shady politicians, lies and false promises... no, I am talking about cheap wire election signs! The morning after election day, I scour the area for ALL ad signs, regardless of party affiliation. I NEVER run out of stock material from 3/16" to 1/4" mild steel. I can make endless hooks, nails, J hooks, handles, scrolls, basket twists, etc. from this material. No, I cannot be 100% certain of material type or exact thickness, but I enjoy it every year (sometimes twice a year!).
   - Nippulini - Friday, 11/18/11 08:37:20 EST

mini anvils : The larger anvil was made on one of Tom Clarks air hammers at his request. I gave it to him while he was in the hospital Sept 2008. I'm sure this picture had to have been taken at SOFA that same year as that was the last blacksmith event Tom attened before his passing in Nov. 08
The small one I forged on my 25# Little Giant at the 100 year birthday party for 25# Litte Giants At Sid shop. This was in Feb. of 2008. I took it home with me polished it and had it ingraved and placed in the auction at the BAM conference April 2008. Sid bought the anvil and it is in his collection at this time. As far as I know these 2 anvils have never been in the same place at the same time so the picture is surely a composite. I think Mrs. Clark still has the large one. You are pretty close on the size. I don't record the size of any of these but the face on the small ones are 1/2 inch wide, most are around 1 1/2 tall. the stock for the small ones is an 1 1/4 cube the small ones are numbered. the first one I made is not numbered Then started with 1 the latest is 21. I have only sold 2 all the rest were donated to blacksmith fund raising or given as gift to other smiths who have helped me on my way in this craft. I have tooling developed for the small ones, but the big one was forged free hand on flat dies a fuller and flatter. the hardy holes are drilled then hot drifted square some times finished with a file. Of course the face step and horn are rough forged then cleaned up with file work takes about 1 hour to forge an anothe hour to finish. I hope this has not been to boring or drawn out just thought someone would like to know.
   Phil cox - Friday, 11/18/11 09:15:05 EST

hammers : Thanks Guru.I did mean hand hammers
   Peter - Friday, 11/18/11 09:50:22 EST

Hammer weights : Peter,

Some years ago this question came up on another site and someone who made custom hammers professionally said the most common weight requested was 2.25 lb.

HOWEVER! It's awfully personal. I use a 3 lb. hammer. Because I'm strong? No, I have a bad elbow and have developed a personal hammer technique that works better w the heavier hammer. DON'T copy me.

ALSO, blacksmiths are prone to "tennis" elbow. This does NOT go away w time and better conditioning. If you start to develop pain in the tendon attachment on the outside of the elbow, get advice FAST. It can take the better part of a year to clear up.
   Rudy - Friday, 11/18/11 13:45:11 EST

Heavier Hammers :
These often work well if you use them right. A loose grip is the key to not hurting yourself. I often tell folks that your goal is to throw the hammer head at the work and not be holding it (or holding it tightly) when it strikes. This is the theory. Using a longer stroke rather than pushing the hammer is the correct technique but even those who preach the method often do not apply the method.

I started with a small hammer and worked up. But the first hammer I purchased was a 4 pound (1800g) monster because Alex Bealer said that was what smiths used. . . . Way too heavy for me at the time! I worked through a series of hammers one year when I was forging a lot and I knew I needed to go heavier. I settled on a 3 pound hammer. Once in a while I would pick up the 4 pound hammer and it was just too much for me (I have small hands and wrists). So I gave it away. Currently if I need to hit something a LOT harder for a few blows I have a 6 pound hand sledge that came in a box of mason's tools. It will make quick work out of 1" square but you don't want to swing it long. . .

Best solution for repetitive injuries is a power hammer. However, I was talking to a friend yesterday and he is having feet trouble from repetitively raising his toe while standing on his heal to work the treadle on his power hammer. . . However, this is a professional that have been running these machines for many hours a day for 20 years. Eventually SOMETHING is going so show trouble.
   - guru - Friday, 11/18/11 15:11:25 EST

Annealing color intrepretation : I see a large difference between the annealing color intrepretion described in your site (straw color = about 235DegC) and another site (http://www.bssa.org.uk/topics.php?article=140) showing straw color is 340DegC. What is behind the difference?
I am trying to intrepret the temperature acheived on a overheated polished (or nickel coated) stainless steel part. The part is air cooled and failed due to high temperature. Air cooling continued after the part failed.

Thanks for your help
   Steve Slutter - Friday, 11/18/11 12:32:09 EST

Ferrous Heat Colors :
Steve, the difference is my chart is for carbon steel, not alloy steels. Alloy steels oxidize much differently. That fine oxide coating is what makes the colors.

To determine maximum temperature achieved on a given alloy you will need to run tests on the same alloy treated the same way. "Polished or plated" are two vastly different things. So is passivated. Plated stainless items are often hard chrome plated for gall resistance. The oxidation color temperatures are going to be different for clean stainless, nickle and chrome.

I think the article you referred to is very clear on the variables as well as their warning about interpretations of the data.

You could probably determine the exact temperature the part achieved given an identical sample and similar conditions (finish, atmosphere, heating rate).

We did some testing along this line back in the 1980's using a block of stainless with a hole drilled into it, an electric heating element that fit into the block and a ring thermocouple attached to the surface with a screw. However, what we were looking for was time vs. temperature and expansion of the sample.


I see even more people have stolen my chart and distributed it on the web. . . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/18/11 14:24:35 EST

Temper Color Chart with Steel Hardness (replaced the plain temper color chart).
   - guru - Friday, 11/18/11 15:21:40 EST

GOOD NEWS : Nippulini, I have good news for you. Our new group, right now, constitutes 8 members and growing! See if you can recruit any folks you can in the PHiladelphia area.
   stewartthesmith - Friday, 11/18/11 17:45:18 EST

Guru, back in the 80's a large number of our Valves were in a warehouse that burned. The warehouse held about a million dollars of stainless finished valves for one of our big customers. As we electro-polished every stainless forging, we just took a number of finished valve bonnets and heated them in a furnace to exact temps, and air cooled and then labeled. Allowed an easy sort of those that had gotten too hot from those that had not, and the distributor was able to save about half his inventory.
   ptree - Friday, 11/18/11 19:27:52 EST

Hammers : Thanks for the great info all!
   Peter - Friday, 11/18/11 19:34:40 EST

Temperature : I know everyone has seen the laser held devices that can measure lower temperatures. My brother in law had one and I tested it, was pretty neat. My question is this...is there a reason why laser devices cannot measure the higher temperatures in the 3000-4000 degree range ? I think it would be a great addition to a blacksmith shop.
   Mike T. - Saturday, 11/19/11 06:48:51 EST

Mike T. : Most of us don't get above 2,500F when forging.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/19/11 08:52:43 EST

Laser Temperature Measurement? How would you measure temperature with a Laser??? Are you sure its not an Optical Pyrometer of some sort?

The Thermal Light Forge temperatures with white light. I've been exchanging mail with the author and he is increasing the resolution to to 50 degree increments from 100 degree increments.

Above 2700 - 3000 F you would need to use Infrared. Or judge by how fast the steel is exploding into flames. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/19/11 09:24:16 EST

Optical Pyrometers : I have one that goes from below freezing to right about 3000° Fahrenheit, and it is an *infrared* pyrometer that has a laser target sight feature. The laser does nothing more than tell you exactly where the infrared sensor is aimed, it has no temperature measuring function. This pyrometer is NOT one that is sold by Harbor Freight or Sears Roebuck; it is a precision instrument with fair resolution and is priced accordingly, not at the hobbyist level.

As for measuring above 3000°F, I've not seen one yet that does that at any price I could afford, nor do I have a need for that high a range. As a blacksmith, I work mostly around 2100-2400°F and over 3000° I'd be throwing away burned up pieces left and right. At temps in the 3K-4K range things are going to get real expensive real fast and be high precision lab equipment, not a shop tool.
   Rich - Saturday, 11/19/11 11:23:43 EST

Coal forges max out at 3,200°F at the core of the fire and will burn steel fast. Gas forges max out at around 2,500°F which is great for forging. They will burn work but rarely do so.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/19/11 11:47:19 EST

Where temperature measurement is more critical in metalworking is down around the hardening and annealing ranges 1,300 to 1,800°F, and then the tempering ranges of 400 to 700°F. The only thing you need that high temperature range above 2,500 for is judging a forge or adjusting an experimental forge.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/19/11 11:52:40 EST

Pyrometer : I don't know what the thing is called, but you point it like a laser pointer, it has the red dot that shows what it is pointed at. You can point it at an oven door, a window pane etc. and the read out will show what the temperature is. I just used 3000-4000 deg as an example. In other words, if it can show the temperature at the low range what's the problem with making the same inexpensive device to show temperatures at a higher range ?
   Mike T. - Sunday, 11/20/11 05:09:04 EST

Oprical Pyrometers and Star Trek Tricorders : Mike, These devices use an electronic optical sensor just like a digital camera. Just like a camera you can be under exposed or over exposed (too low a voltage to detect or the voltage maxed out). There is also the matter of burning an unfiltered sensor and the non-linearity of most of these types of measurements. So a very wide range device must have changeable filters for different ranges (an expense) and special programming for different ranges (with an associated switch). Accuracy also varies with the range of a device. It may be accurate to 2% in one range but only 10% in another. Thus the documentation and sales literature becomes more complicated. . .

See my comments about Infrared in the Thermal Light article.

It can be done, it is just a matter of how much you are willing to pay. These things start at about $400 and many sell for $2000. The current devices are relatively expense because they are not high production tools. They are designed for a given purpose with a commonly needed range (decisions, decisions). The more accurate and wider the range the more expensive. Over time the price may come down. Look at what can be done with an iPhone. . .

Another Nifty Hand Held Tool is the LASER or Plasma metal alloy analyzers. They vaporize a microscopic spot of metal and report the alloy content and possible alloy by number using spectroscopic analysis. Many of these are a portable hand held gun device. Price for a cheap supposedly moderately accurate device $15,000 to $40,000!!!!. Imagine accidentally dropping THAT on the concrete shop floor OR having and employee steal it! Maintenance is also very expensive. More accurate non-portable laboratory models start at $40,000 and go up.

As they become more common the cost of these devices will come down. Will they ever be affordable in the blacksmith shop??? You never know in this fast moving electronic age but it is doubtful. Perhaps if someone came up with a chip sizable detector that worked off cosmic radiation passing through the substance measuring the molecular weights. . . THEN we would have a Star Trek point at anything Tricorder that could analyze almost anything and be the size of a cell phone or pocket calculator (MUCH smaller than the fictional Tricorder).

Probably going to be ON THE ROAD today.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/20/11 08:32:53 EST

Books : Does anyone know of a source for Bill Epps "Project Books"?
   - Brian C. - Monday, 11/21/11 07:15:54 EST

Soderfors Anvil 1687 : I have a 1687 Soderfors anvil. Weight 251 lbs. Well used to the point that the to is rounded. Can you give me any ideas about history ?
   Will Smith - Monday, 11/21/11 16:19:43 EST


There's some information on the Soderfors works here: hhttp://www.svetur.se/sv/roslagen/products/113220/Soderfors-bruk/

Unfortunately they've redone the site and no longer have an English version, but Google translator works reasonably well.
   Mike BR - Monday, 11/21/11 19:24:04 EST

Antique sign : One of my students wants to make an antique effect wooden sign. She will forge a hanger from which the sign will swing somewhat like an old pub sign. The easiest cross section to use would be either angle iron or T section but how long have those been in existence? How authentic would either be? I suspect the sign will hang either from some hand forged chain or, more likely, from S hooks.
   philip in china - Tuesday, 11/22/11 02:01:29 EST

Stakes : Where can I buy stakes from ??
   Ian - Tuesday, 11/22/11 05:14:27 EST

Sign : Philip,

The "old-timey" way to do it is to use flat bar for the hanger frame and punch two holes for the hangers. Upset rivet heads on one end each of two pieces of round bar of the appropriate size, put the down through the hole and then turn them into eyes. Use flat bar straps bent into a "U" to drop through the eyes and then bolt to the wood panel. Makes a very secure and durable sign hanger system.
   Rich - Tuesday, 11/22/11 09:20:43 EST

Stakes : Check out "Acme Vampire and Zombie Hunter's Supply" for the latest in stakes. Or were you looking for tinner's stakes, silversmiths stakes, or something else? Tinner's stakes are getting nearly impossible to find new, so you need to look for old used ones online. Somewhat the same applies to silversmiths stakes, though some new ones can be had from Otto Frei, Rio Grande or Santa Fe Jeweler's Supply. Then there are makers of custom stakes like Potter, USA of Tucson, AZ. You just have to do some searching.
   Rich - Tuesday, 11/22/11 09:25:32 EST

Rich, please do. "I spent decades learning most of the tricks of good painting and it has made a huge difference in the appearance and longevity of my metal work. If there is sufficient interest, I could write a fairly lengthy and detailed article on the subject."
   - Andrew T - Tuesday, 11/22/11 11:32:05 EST

Sign Brackets :
How antique? As Rich mentioned most had a flat bar frame but varied greatly in ornateness.

Lynchburg Camera Shop Sign Bracket by Jock Dempsey

Above is one I made back in the 1970's. It is in the entry alcove of Lynchburg Camera shop. The sign was from the original 1930's store.

The bracket is made from 1 x 3/8" (25 x 10mm) flat bar and riveted in four places (twice on the upper bracket and twice on the lower). The hanger hooks pivot and rotate in over size holes. The were made straight with a ball end and then shaped into hooks after passing through the holes. There was a slight dimensional error. The owner had told me how long and where to put the hoks but he had forgotten to have clearance from the wall. So the sign is not centered on the hooks.

This is a bracket I designed for Paw-Paw's book. The wood was for effect but not necessary. It includes scrolls, forge welds and riveting. It is not a great design but at the time I was turning out 4 to 8 drawings at a time for each chapter of the book.

Many such brackets are much more ornate with animals, flowers, items symbolizing the business or its owner. Styles vary according to the times and location.

   - guru - Tuesday, 11/22/11 11:59:38 EST

I may be wrong on those stock dimensions above (it was 35 years ago). It may be wider flat stock, perhaps 1-1/2" (38-40mm). The top bracket had a long taper and the end makes a slight "duck tail" upward. Both plates where it attaches to the wall had heavy hammered chamfers.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/22/11 12:04:55 EST

Signs: if you are in a windy area, it might help a lot to have some angle bracing in the horizontal plane.

For some really spiff sign hangers may I commend to your attention "Schöne alte Wirtshaus-Schilder" Leonhard, Walter (Beautiful, Old Inn Signs"
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/22/11 13:58:30 EST

Stakes : Tent stakes, metalworking stakes, plant stakes, stakes for a flat bed trunk, armour making stakes?

With so general a question all I can say is "Over there!"

Note too that if you are not willing to pay for shipping from the other side of the world it is polite to give your general location---we have folks here from all over this WORLD WIDE Web
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/22/11 14:01:51 EST

"Her teeth were like the tether stakes : Her nose like (a) club or mell (maul); and nothing less she seemd to be than a fiend that comes from hell." (Ballad of King Henry)

I rather like tether stakes, big cork-screw shaped things you scew into the ground to secure dogs or livestock. Sometimes called an ox stake.

Well, that's what this tread brough to my mind, anyway! ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 11/22/11 15:41:44 EST

Steaks or Stakes?
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/22/11 16:19:40 EST

Stakes : Next time you are in the area, Ian, call by. There is a store in town that stocks all types of stakes and I am sure I can get you what you need.
Please ignore the heavy handed sarcasm of other posters to the site. For some types (e.g. Tin workers' stakes etc) try www.anvils.co.uk but make sure you are sitting down when you look at the prices.
   Philip in china - Tuesday, 11/22/11 17:30:01 EST

Research : Doing a favor for my 13 year-old son: he has to spend 6 months researching & writing a paper for 8th grade. Among the required materials is a non-fiction book & we're hoping you can recommend the one. He wants a broad view - he does martial arts, interested in ancient and modern Japanese and European culture, always been interested in blacksmithing in general, wants to learn the craft someday. The book we found at local library is more of a modern how-to than the overview (with how-to details & good illustrations) he's looking for. Any advice?
   Karen - Tuesday, 11/22/11 18:21:01 EST

Researching Blacksmithing for School : Karen, It is hard to point to just ONE book.

The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer is a good read, non fiction, not too heavily illustrated but those it has are good. It is more 19th Century American blacksmithing than anything else - no oriental content, some historical backdrop. Its tells you HOW without being a "how-to". The language is such that a thirteen year old should have no trouble understanding it. It is an inexpensive reference new or used.

Another good book but not a how-to is Eric Sloane's Museum of Early American Tools. Many of the tools are wood but many are also iron. Sloane's books are heavily illustrated but have a good balance of text. Another book by the same author is Noah Blake, Diary of an Early American Boy. The subject is your son's age and its a great read as well as copiously illustrated. Written in the 1950's they are often in re-print. Great books for any age.

THEN On-line we have Working in Metals, a Work and Play book written in 1916 for young adults. It is a how-to book with a little back story that I find annoying but that an imaginative child might like. The boys featured in the book are about you son's age.

Last. . Look up the local blacksmithing association (see ABANA-Chapter.com). Most have monthly meetings but this time of year are a little slack. Generally they are open to EVERYONE and there is a good chance you will see actual blacksmithing OR be able to take classes IF you are a member and you under 18 year old child is accompanied by an adult. There is no perspective like hammering on REAL white hot iron on a real anvil. If you miss a chance there you MIGHT meet a smith or two willing to have your son in their shop for a day.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/22/11 18:50:02 EST

First he is in trouble as there are not any books really good on such subjects from early times. Craftsmen were trained at the Master's side.

Ancient: Egyptian Metalworking and Tools (Shire Egyptology) (ISBN: 0747800014 / 0-7478-0001-4) Bernd Scheel Modern book on ancient examples

Greek: google Berlin Foundry Cup Ancient illustrations of metalworking

Medieval: "Divers Arts", Theophilus, circa 1120 C.E. in a Dover translation and so easily found at a library by ILL Has a lot of interesting info on studio crafts and some on the working of iron at that period.

Sources for the History of the Science of Steel: 1532-1786 (ISBN: 0262190419 / 0-262-19041-9)Cyril Stanley Smith Excerpts about steel and how they finally figured out that it was adding carbon that makes iron into steel

De Re Metallica, Agricola; another great Dover book on mining and refining of metals including iron. Filled with great woodcuts!

Pirotechnia, Biringuccio, slightly earlier than De Re Metallica; few pictures.

Look at the various "hausbuchs" published as an overview of trades with a picture and a description. Note that blacksmithing will be part of cutlery, locksmithing, bit and spurmaking, etc.

Then lets jump to more modern times

Mechanics Exercises, Moxon, published 1703, the first section is on blacksmithing and is more a short overview manual (watch out many sold are just the section on printing, you want the entire thing!)

Diderot's Encyclopedia, late 18th century, a massive overview of how things were made at that time. Again some excerpts do not cover the areas you are interested in and there are many different areas that used smithing as part of them.

Practical Blacksmithing, Richardson, a collection of articles from a blacksmithing journal published in 1889, 1890, and 1891. Easily found.

This is off the top of my head at work; if you can narrow down the topic it would help!
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/22/11 19:49:11 EST

Oh yes feel free to contact me by e-mail if you wish. This is an area I take some interest in. (Most of those examples sit on my bookshelves back home...)

I would also advise you to take him to a smith and have him *make* something to gain a better understanding of the craft.

If you are near Central New Mexico you could bring him by my smithy some weekend; I'll even provide a chair for you to sit in while he forges (or run you through a project too!)

Thomas Powers
Ex President of Southwest Artist Blacksmiths Association.
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/22/11 19:53:58 EST

Books: U.S. history iron making and smithing : A book for juniors is Pioneer Ironworks which is about the Saugus Ironworks of Massachusetts where iron was extracted from ore in the early colonial days. The author is Mary Stetson Clarke. Aldren Watson wrote, "The Blacksmith: Ironworker and Farrier" ISBN 0-393-30683-6. This book, likewise, is for juniors and is very well illustrated with Watson's drawings.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/22/11 19:59:04 EST

Then there is Historical Fiction. . Paw-Paw's "The Revolutionary Blacksmith" which we still have a few thousand to sell. See story and review pages.
   - guru - Tuesday, 11/22/11 21:44:54 EST

Heavy Handed Sarcasm : ...and light-hearted humor are sometimes hard to tell apart, especially on the web. There are places and web sites where a take-no-prisoners-and-step-on-his-throat-on-the-way-by attitude prevails; but when in doubt, at least around here, think the best.

On the other claw, ambiguous questions from unknown locations can be a little frustrating, too. Given that tent stakes are bread-and-butter products, and forming stakes are common tools, I'm still not sure exactly what the inquiry was about. (However, I do like the image that it reminded me of, of a monster with teeth like ox stakes.)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 11/23/11 16:02:11 EST

Stakes, Stakes, Steaks : The English language is what the sarcasm was largely pointed at. . . as in my steak or stake cartoon.

A few months ago we had a row about stake tools and stake tools. In much of industry a "stake tool" is a device that forces a bit of metal tightly around a part. You can do it manually with a hand punch with either a pointed end or a small rectangular staking end. Other stakes make a circular impression. . . To complicate matters these tools sometimes come in pairs one being the "stake anvil". A sheet metal stake is what we commonly think of in heavier metalworking but then there are "stake anvils" which are a tall slender T shaped blacksmiths anvil.

While there are a lot homonyms (sound alike words) in the English language (bare - bear, here - hear, heal, heel, vise - vice, stake - steak). We still have more words descriptive words in the English language (or have adopted them from others) than any other language. In Spanish the word for vise is basically "a screw" and there are mechanic's screws, and so on but the qualifier is rarely used. But another Spanish word for Vise is prensa which literally means press. I don't even want to get into screw presses. . .

Since we have one of the largest collections of sheet metal stake images and names anywhere (in print or on the web) we should lean toward a stake being one of those.

But even as a blacksmith I've probably made and used more tent stakes than any other kind, but DO have a collection of sheet metal working stakes, have eaten my share of those with the other spelling, AND staked a few shafts and pins to keep them from coming out of their holes BUT I've never been in a high stakes card game.
   - guru - Wednesday, 11/23/11 16:56:00 EST

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