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 December 16 - 23, 2011 on the Guru's Den
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I think the work hardening myth is another spread by people making knives from spikes. . . "the more we hammer on them the harder they get". . .

Its similar to the "living steel" line of BS, ". . our energy goes into the steel to make it stronger. . ".

I haven't seen their stuff around for a long time. I suspect the honest bladesmithing world has stomped on that BS pretty hard.
   - guru - Friday, 12/16/11 11:10:40 EST

Spike knives : They will harden enough to snap if quenched and not tempered but if heated to non-magnetic and just the edge quenched they will sharpen to a shaving edge. Unfortunately, they won't hold the edge well enough to butcher a deer. We experimented last week with two spike knives my friends made and they both had to be sharpened to complete the job. They do make good oyster knives but not real working knives.
   - Ron Childers - Friday, 12/16/11 12:03:17 EST

Aluminium, Brass, bronze, silver, wrought iron. . . will all sharpen to a razor edge. They just do not hold up well. Some varieties of bronze which are pretty hard will hold up quite well (Bronze tools and weapons were good enough for thousands of years. . .).

We accidentally melted a small amount of brass into some gold and the resulting 3/8" diameter pellet could be struck hard with a 4 pound hammer while on an anvil and show almost no change (a red gold alloy harder than mild steel).

Mild steel hardens quite hard but is brittle when hard (as noted above). 30 point steel can be heat treated. Folks often use Casinit and SuperQuench on mild steel to get the same results as improperly heat treating it. . . Its not a cutting tool or edge steel. Today good steels, even as scrap, are too plentiful to be fooling with mild steels for tools.
   - guru - Friday, 12/16/11 13:07:47 EST

Knifemaking BS and "sizzle" set aside, RR spike knives seem to always be popular. Maybe it's the nostalgia factor, or the appearance of the spike transmuted into a piece of art/tool. I don't think we NEED to say "high carbon" this or "work hardening" that to sell them. Just say it's made from a real RR spike and leave it at that. If anything, it will eventally make a really nice envelope slitter, maybe the worlds most macho butterknife....
   - Nippulini - Friday, 12/16/11 13:22:49 EST

Don't forget Al too! A.G.Russell got tired of everyone telling him that they could shave with their pocket knife so he once flattened an aluminum Coors can, folded it over and flattened again and then honed it till he could shave the hair on his arm with an Al can!

Didn't hold an edge long though.

The RR clips are 1040-1060;

American Railway Engineering Association's Specifications for Soft-Steel Track Spikes. Original document, 1926, revised last in 1968

Two classes of track spikes are given specifications, both low carbon and high carbon. Two sizes of track spike are identified, one of 5/8 inch square shaft and one of 9/16 inch.

Page 5-2-1. "A low carbon track spike will not contain greater than 0.12% carbon nor greater than 0.20% copper.

Page 5-2-3: Specifications for high carbon steel track spikes 1968. Carbon not greater than 0.30%

Don't know where you've read 1060 for a spike!
   Thomas P - Friday, 12/16/11 13:29:28 EST

Off to see the Grand Children. . Weekend one of two on the road for Christmas!
   - guru - Friday, 12/16/11 15:32:09 EST

Power hammer spring : Well, I found a gentleman with the book that gives the specs on the spring. The book says that it takes a 5.5 inch long, 3.5 OD, .625 wire. That is the exact same spring I have. The only thing we can't find a reference to how many coils it should have. Since the present spring had 6 coils and it is not the correct one, then the correct one will be the same except that it will have 5 coils. I have found several photos on line and in my copy of Hammerman's Emporium and some springs have 5 and some 6. I am thinking a 5 coil will be what I need. Opinion?
   Wind - Friday, 12/16/11 18:04:10 EST

Railroads *do* use work hardening manganese (hadfield) steel, just not for spikes. A quick search found references to its being used in frogs and other switch/crossing parts.
   Mike BR - Friday, 12/16/11 18:41:03 EST

Stump stake for Peter Wright Anvil : Has anyone seen what I call a stump stake that fits the square hole in the bottom of a Peter Wright anvil? Or is this someones tall tale? I have been told that they used to drive a square stake into the stump and then set the anvil on top of the stake to keep the anvil from shifting while in use. I have never seen one?
   Alan Quail - Friday, 12/16/11 20:25:13 EST

Alan : Those square holes are handling holes from when it was manufactured. I think You have been told a tale.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 12/16/11 23:08:08 EST

Hadfield Steel : Mike, it's an austenitic alloy like 304 or 316 stainless - softend by heating and rapidly cooling. When worked at Crucible steel we'd heat treat it by taking it to 1950 F and quench it in water. Came out dead soft. We were selling it as "jail bar" for use in jail windows.
   - Gavainh - Saturday, 12/17/11 00:38:37 EST

Mike Br, The Rail roads do use some hadfield alloys, inside the shot blast machines in their shops, and on the cutting edged and sides of excavating buckets on right of way equipment. but not as fasteners. A work hardening alloy like hadfield as a fastener would not be a good choice.
   ptree - Saturday, 12/17/11 08:13:53 EST

Refractory : Will Dukast 2500b gunmix moldable refractory bond to a Kaowool lining in my gas forge?
   Darren Robichaud - Saturday, 12/17/11 09:55:27 EST


The references I saw discussed the use of hadfield steel in frogs (the device installed where the inner rails of two converging lines cross when approaching a switch). It certainly seems reasonable that you'd want an abrasion resistant steel there, but I don't know if it's a common practice. I agree completely about (not) using the stuff in fasteners.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 12/17/11 10:00:16 EST

Mike Br. HR steel is a very specialized steel, that is very useful in the few right applications. Hard to fab, hard to weld, very expensive and just generally an oddball alloy.
In the shot blast machine liner app, great. I don't know how forgable the stuff is. Lower manganese alloys are very useful and have been used for a long time. My Trenton has a manganese alloy top hard plate and it was made in 1903, but much less manganese than hadfields.
   ptree - Saturday, 12/17/11 10:49:51 EST

The Metallography of Early Ferrous Edge Tools and Edged Weapons : I've mislaid my piece of paper. I'm sure I'll run across it again since I put it somewhere safe but one of you fine gentlemen was looking for a copy of The Metallography of Early Ferrous Edge Tools and Edged Weapons about three years ago. At any rate I've found one over here in the UK. I've ordered it so it's on it's way to me. Let me know by e-mail if you still want it.
   Robert Cutting - Saturday, 12/17/11 17:21:07 EST

Porter Holes and Anvil Stumps : Of course, since there is a porter hole in the bottom of many (if not most) forged anvils, there's no reason why it shouldn't be put to use by having a short bar of lug driven into a stump so it would fit into the bottom of the anvil and keep it from drifting in use. When I first started, with a borrowed anvil, I didn't have it tied down to the stump (since it was eventually going back to its owner) and they do tend to drift under the hammer. I was lucky that I didn't end up with a smashed foot or even a broken leg, one day, when a friend pointed out that it was teetering near the edge of the stump as I hammered.

So, the porter or handling holes may be artifacts of the manufacturing process, but that doesn't mean that people don't find a use for them. (Clever people, those blacksmiths. ;-)

Cloudy and getting colder on the banks of the Potomac. The longship is now hard by the forge on the trailer. Next we cut about six loblolly pines and tent the 38' hull over.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 12/17/11 18:29:07 EST

advice : So i have read most all of the FAQ's and some other posts, and still im going to ask this question. I am looking to get into making knives as a "hobby" i guess you would call it. I tried doing the stained glass thing and just dont have the constent finese (yes i cant spell) for it. I do know that blacksmithing also calls for a gentle touch now and then but it has more of a balance of focus, finese, and brute force. I mainly just want to make myself hunting/utility knives and if the occassion arises maybe do some custom work for people. With my current work schedule i would be able to dedicate anywhere from 48-96 hours every 2 weeks to learn the craft and sharpen my skills. Im not asking for any "free teachings" or any teaching at all just to know if it would be worth my efforts to start learning this craft? I am located in the united states in Wisconsin, any and all advice on that question is much appreciated thank you.
   richard - Saturday, 12/17/11 21:38:18 EST

Richard : If it is something You really want to do, You will find it worthwhile, even tho it may never pay for itself financially. There will always be things You wish You would have tried, but I find that trying them is easier to live with than continuallly thinking "If I would have..."
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 12/17/11 23:58:09 EST

Richard; advice : I also echo the advice to get stuck in and do it. It may or may not be an enduring passion. I had the opportunity when I was youngand did not take full advantage of it. I still regret the wasted years. Though it is never too late, it is far better to take the opportunity early on. If you work through the passion and interest and move onto something else that is okay. You continue into other fields with additional skills and knowledge.
   - Chris E. - Sunday, 12/18/11 07:52:16 EST

Richard; advice : I also echo the advice to get stuck in and do it. It may or may not be an enduring passion. I had the opportunity when I was youngand did not take full advantage of it. I still regret the wasted years. Though it is never too late, it is far better to take the opportunity early on. If you work through the passion and interest and move onto something else that is okay. You continue into other fields with additional skills and knowledge.
   Chris E. - Sunday, 12/18/11 07:53:27 EST

Richard: advice : I also echo the advice to get stuck in and do it. It may or may not be an enduring passion. I had the opportunity when I was youngand did not take full advantage of it. I still regret the wasted years. Though it is never too late, it is far better to take the opportunity early on. If you work through the passion and interest and move onto something else that is okay. You continue into other fields with additional skills and knowledge.
   Chris E. - Sunday, 12/18/11 08:02:26 EST


I doubt knife making takes any less finesse then stained glass. If you want to be taken seriously as a knife maker, your product needs to be pretty darn close to perfect. On the other hand, a knife with a few cosmetic flaws is a lot more useful than a stained glass piece that doesn't look quite right -- or even one that does. And there are many forms of blacksmithing that don't focus on perfection.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 12/18/11 09:09:57 EST

Thank you : Thank you for all the help it is greatly appreciated. Guess ill start building and tinkering, good thing i have free access to a scrap yard :)
   - richard - Sunday, 12/18/11 10:01:19 EST

Knifemaking links : Richard, there are three major paths to knifemaking, assembling and finishing parts from catalogs, grinding from scratch, and hammer forging. For basic forging information, your best bet is to search for the local ABANA affiliate at abana.org

For advanced bladesmithing, try the American Bladesmithing Society at americanbladesmith.com
   John McPherson - Sunday, 12/18/11 11:24:47 EST

Porter, handling hole : Years ago, I was in the world of horseshoeing, and an old farrier told me to melt and pour beeswax or paraffin in the porter hole under the horn. I could then have a nice place to quench the thin pritchel end as I worked a hot shoe. I did so.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/18/11 12:00:44 EST

Leaky Barrel : Real late I know, but I haven't been to the site much lately....by the way thanks for the help w/ springs, got 4 out of 5 right. Now about a leaky barrel, an old cedar hot tub maker in Tahoe showed me the easiest way to fix mine. Get some fine sawdust and put a bunch on the bottom of the barrel. As you add water the sawdust will be drawn to the cracks where it leaks and plug the gap till the wood swells. It worked on up to 1/4" cracks!!
   Thumper - Sunday, 12/18/11 16:32:59 EST

This family of steels is austenitic when annealed, but unlike the austenitc stainless grades they trasform to martensite when subjected to work hardening. Besides rail road applicatons, they are also used extensively in the mining industry. Some of them are highly alloyed with carbon. We are talking about Manganese in amounts of 10% in the Hadfeld steels. Mn is an austenite stabilizing element, which means it allows austenite to be stable at temperatures less than the austenite transformation temperature in plain carbon steels. Nickel is another element that serves the same function, but is much more expensive than Mn. Some of the work hardening alloys have been used to repair anvils but when this is done, it is advisable to cold work the repaired area before you grind it to final size. Otherwise the repair will be soft until it is deformed which could leave you will little dents that are difficult to grind out.

   - Patrick Nowak - Sunday, 12/18/11 20:49:02 EST

Power Hammer Spring Size :
Wind. I gave exact steps in determining what will work without wrecking the hammer. Without determining the minimum distance that the spring needs you are wasting your and our time. Apparent coils in photos can be deceiving unless you have micrometer measurements of the wire size and know the end shapes (should be ground tapered). Hammer needs varied with design changes and there were many.
   - guru - Monday, 12/19/11 01:25:29 EST

Handling (Porter) Holes in Anvils :
I've never seen or heard of the bottom hole being used to key an anvil to a stand but as Bruce pointed out Blacksmiths are ingenious folks and I would not discount that it had been done.

That said, there are lots of articles in old books about anchoring anvils and none mention it. The reason may be that while this is almost universal in old anvils made mostly in the 18th and 19th century English anvil it is not common in later anvils and European anvils. A center pin, even a square (unless it fit tight) would also do little to prevent rotation of the anvil.

Another argument might be made that even though Peter Wright had unique hold down flats on the feet of their anvils it was never mentioned in advertising literature. OF course this was an era where tradesmen were all expected to be mechanics of sufficient training that there was no such thing as instruction manuals for most tools and very reudimentary ones for machinery.

The bottom hole as locator is and interesting story and idea but I would not spreads it around as fact.

I asked Richard Postman, the author of Anvils in America about this and he says he had heard of it but never seen it. Apparently one reference mentioned filling the hole with lead and then forcing it down on a spike. But he thought this was also not very common or just one person's idea that got put into print.

One of the popular references from the 19th Century is Richardson's Practical Blacksmithing. It is a compilation of articles sent to a blacksmithing magazine. As such many of the ideas appear to be, and likely may have been, those of individuals and not common practice. Many of those ideas (the good useful ones) have been used by many, others not.

On the other hand the side holes being used as punch lube (wax or grease)storage places as mentioned by Frank Turley is also mentioned in old references and I've seen old anvils with the holes partially filled with something other than dirt. Old South Bend lathes had a center lube (white lead) storage well and dipper built into the tail stock. . a similar idea.
   - guru - Monday, 12/19/11 10:43:32 EST

Handling/porter hole in bottom : I brought home yesterday an new, old Hay-Budden, about 300 pounds. It was arc welded with rebar to an iron stand. When we cut it loose and could inspect the bottom, it had the handling hole. Postman thinks that after 1908, there were only two handling holes put in by H-B. This anvil had no markings except for a number 5 on the waist under the horn. In terms of anvil ID, a waist number is a sure sign that the anvil is a Hay-Budden (Postman).
   Frank Turley - Monday, 12/19/11 12:30:31 EST

Richard that was me and you have seen to have found me anyway as I'm offline on weekends currently.

   Thomas P - Monday, 12/19/11 14:35:28 EST

Fire brick, forge materials : Just wondering. What king of companies carry Thermal blankets and fire brick. I know many are gonna point me to various blacksmith supply or forge building sites. but I would assume that these materials are used for other things.
I want to track these materials down for my own use in forge building. I notice that the hoses and regulators that are on the forge that I bought are not exclusive to just forges.
Lets pretend there is no internet and I had to use the old fashion yellow pages... where do I begin? Thank you
   Mario Rodriquez - Monday, 12/19/11 15:48:23 EST

Mario, WE sell Kaowool, ITC ceramic coatings and in a few days split refractory bricks. We are one of the very few places that sell cut lengths of Kaowool and our price is generally much better than others (we sell by the RUNNING foot (12 x24") NOT square feet. Folks who look competitive are selling at twice our price. We sell various thickness and grades as well as truck load quantities.

Current shopping cart works if your browser supports Java applets and the NEW cart should be on line in a day or so.
   - guru - Monday, 12/19/11 16:16:16 EST

Well Refractories is a classic one to look under; also boiler repair. Kiln/pottery supply places may have some. I tend to stock up when I attend conferences as I'm in a rural area.

Last Quad-State I bought 5 different refractories while I was there!
   Thomas P - Monday, 12/19/11 18:54:57 EST

There's a propane dealer not far from me that sells hoses and regulators. A welding supply place should have them as well; an RV dealer might be another option.
   Mike BR - Monday, 12/19/11 19:31:36 EST

salvaging an instruction manual : dear Jock, I'm trying to take a copy of the instruction manual for a threading machine. I have managed to borrow one from a friend who has an identical machine. However, unfortunately the book has become soaked in cutting oil rendering the paper translucent. The consequence is that the print and the drawings from the opposite side are clearly visible through the paper. This makes it exceedingly difficult to read and though I haven't yet tried probably impossible to get satisfactory photocopy. The type (ink) seems resistant to methylated spirits (is that what you would call alcohol). Have you with your experience of salvaging and copying books got any suggestions as to how to either restore quality of the paper will get a satisfactory copy from it.
   Chris E. - Monday, 12/19/11 20:07:11 EST

correction of typo : restore quality of the paper or get a satisfactory copy from it.
   Chris E. - Monday, 12/19/11 20:13:08 EST

Tha''rs a bit of magic needed :
After completely copying a 400 page book with thin paper allowing the reverse to show through I found the following trick.

Back each page as you copy it with black paper. Glossy black is best if you can find it. This makes the black on the back, invisible. When you make the copy you will need to adjust the contrast to lighten background.

It may not work as well on oil soaked paper but it may make a readable copy.

I would probably try to remove as much oil as possible prior to starting. Take the pages and press them between sheets of paper towel (I like Bounty brand). Normally a book press is used. Two flat boards and a c-clamp or two will work. Do not clamp too tight. You may need to replace the paper towels a couple times. After the towels have done as much as possible then powdering the sheets with corn starch (Baby powder, starch, not talc) may help remove more oil. Fine was dust can be used to remove the starch and pick up a bit of oil.
   - guru - Monday, 12/19/11 20:43:48 EST

Fine "saw" dust (not WAS dust. . . .)
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/20/11 01:16:55 EST

Copying oil-soaked paper : Another trick that has worked for me in the past was to forget the copy machine and use my camera. If you use a fairly powerful strobe flash or floodlighting, plus a black backing like Jock spoke of, you can usually get clear enough photos to work with quite well. In fact, I greatly prefer using a camera for copying machine manuals since the old line engravings, drawings and low-contrast photos they usually use for illustrations reproduce much better that way than on most copiers. The high-end copiers and newer scanners are better than the old ones, but a good camera still gets a better result in my experience. Once photo'd the pictures can be cleaned up more in Photoshop if necessary and then printed as .pdf files for easy transfer and storage.
   Rich Waugh - Tuesday, 12/20/11 12:03:06 EST

anvil : Who made the vanadium anvils
   vern kelderman - Tuesday, 12/20/11 12:56:19 EST

Vanadium Steel Anvils

Vern, I don't think the specific company was known.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/20/11 14:15:21 EST

copying oil soaked paper : Thanks everyone for the advice. After having tested the fastness of the ink I have washed the pages of the book in thinners several times. Dabbing and drying with tissue each time. This has cleaned off a lot of the grime and congealed cutting oil and improved the whiteness and opacity of the paper considerably. Some of the most important pages have improved dramatically and several of them have photocopied quite well. I will also try the photography method and see if that further improves matters.
Again thanks for the interest and help.
   Chris E. - Tuesday, 12/20/11 14:30:06 EST

Photographing pages. IF you have a camera you can control with a flash you want force it to use a LOT of flash by setting a small aperture (about f16) and use a tripod. It should bring out the white.

I prefer to use a scanner, then digitally process the result.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/20/11 15:24:26 EST

Bandsaw blade damascus : I have about 25 feet of one inch wide wood resawing bandsaw blades cut into 6 inch pieces, and about 30 feet of 1 1/2 inch ferrous metalcutting bandsawblades in the same size pieces, i was hoping to do a 24 layer damascus billet, i know that the wood cutting ones arent carbide tipped, and am not sure whether theyre stainless or not, they havent had a chance to stain since they were used constantly and i cut them after they broke, i do know that when my carpentry apprentriceship training instructor cut them he was very fast with the abrasive cut off wheel and it heated them and theyre very brittle now, the metal cuting ones are smoothly cut and im not sure if they have carbide tips but i have to grind or sand off the tips to make an even billet,i was just wondering if anyone knew the usual steel used to make bandsaw blades, and if they will work together to etch slightly different colors to get the affect i want, i have done this before but it has always been like, cutting 12 inch circle table saw blades that i was able to tell were different steels and usually could find out what steel exactly they were so i knew they would etch like, grey and blue , i am just wondering if wood cutting and metalcutting bandsaw blades are just tempered differently or if they are actually a different steel, im assuming the metal cutting ones have a higher carbon content as they seem stronger but i can't be sure, i havent done a spark test or anything yet because i don't fully understand the results of it, but i will be clamping the billet in a vice and grinding the teeth off to make a 1 inch by 1 inch by 6 inch billet and then forgewelding from the center outwards like i was taught by the local blacksmith group here in calgary, i also have about a hundred feet of non stainless 1 1/2 inch sawmill blades that have rusted but i could sand or polish with a flapper disk , which would be better, or should i clamp it all and do a test etch on some pieces with vinegar ? also, i have an outdoor shop and its getting cold and i was wondering if its like - 10 degrees celsius out am i risking shattering my anvil? i was told when forgewelding in the cold to heat up some railroad spikes or scrap metals to a bright red and lay them on the anvils face while i prep the billet, if i do that am i at risk of drawing temper out of my anvil? i have a 260 pound cast steel anvil if that makes any difference to the answer,

thanks for all the help over the years,

ps, any thoughts on that blower i sent pics of?
i have the round firepot in that forge now and the base of the forge has high density firebrick i had sitting around too, so im pretty excited to use it for the first time,

   Cameron Zuber - Wednesday, 12/21/11 04:41:37 EST

Looks nice, but can it be worked on?

   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 12/21/11 08:31:26 EST

Bandsaw Damascus :
Cameron, There are numerous issues here. One is that junkyard steel rules always apply no matter what ANYONE tells you.

The blades for my wood cutting bandsaw seem to be relatively low alloy carbon steel. The blades used in my metal cutting band saws are bi-metal. That is, they have an HSS (High Speed Steel) edge. This extends beyond the teeth just a small amount. I do not know what the back is made of but I am sure it is a much lower carbon steel. I suspect that this would NOT be useful steel for layered Damascus. Usually you can see a tell-tale weld seam in these blades but sometimes not. An etch would probably show the demarcation well.

Somewhere in all my stuff I have several saw blade catalogs and each has a dozen varieties of blade for bandsaws alone. NONE are stainless.

See our long discussion about cold weather and steels on the Hammer-In.

   - guru - Wednesday, 12/21/11 10:03:48 EST

L6 was a traditional alloy for bandsaw blades but as mentioned *anything* could be used.

Test by heating to above non-magnetic and quenching in warm oil---if brittle you are good to go. If tough repeat and quench in brine.

BSB tends to be a bit trickier to weld to itself; perhaps due to the nickel content. I suggest alternating with pallet strapping the approximate same size. Test the pallet strapping too as they higher C content stuff helps keep your entire billet higher C (I sometimes put sections of old black diamond files into a billet as they were 1.2% C and so make a nice carbon donor)

I do not cut off the teeth, they disappear during forgewelding the billet fairly fast.

No stainless BSB save for meat cutting ones as far as I know---however BSB in use will generally stay pretty polished.

I cut my BSB with shears starting from the softer *back* and letting the harder cutting edge break off. Hand shears for the small stuff and a beverly shear for larger and a large straight shear for foot wide BSB.

Heating your anvil will make things go much better! Atli uses an old iron---plug it in and set it on high and set it on the anvil face to take the chill off. I use a slab of 1/2" steel just slightly smaller than my propane forge opening. Let it heat while the forge is coming up to temp then let it heat the anvil while the piece is coming up to temp.

When I worked with a swordmaker we would hang paintcans of kindling on the horn and heel of his 400# anvil and burnt them to get the anvil warm---happiness is a warm anvil to sit on between heats!

You won't be able to draw the temper out of a cold anvil face without going quite overboard with the heating as the steel/iron dissipates the heat quite rapidly---like being able to boil water in a campfire in a paper cup.

When I etch BSB and pallet strapping the BSB is a bright silver and the PS is a dull gray. Vinegar and salt at boiling temps does a nice job of differentiation but doesn't leave any topography.
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/21/11 12:10:22 EST

"...happiness is a warm anvil to sit on between heats!"

That's awesome.
   Bajajoaquin - Wednesday, 12/21/11 13:07:45 EST

sitting on an anvil : Will get you a cuff upside the head (I may or may not put my hammer down)as it shows disrespect to the anvil, and all the smiths who may have worked on it in the past. Or at least that is the tradition in my part of the world.
   JimG - Wednesday, 12/21/11 13:21:04 EST

Even though I've done, I've been told its against the shop rules in many places. Perhaps following what Jim says above, but never explained to me. Of course if you are an employee you should be WORKING NOT SITTING. . Bah HUMBUG!. . . :)
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/21/11 13:40:37 EST

face : i have an old steel anvil with some very shallow pitting on the face Its hard to feel but looks like heck Is there a way to restore the factory shine without power tools
   vern kelderman - Wednesday, 12/21/11 13:53:03 EST

Anivl Sitting : In my shop, you're welcome to sit on the anvils, provided you're not supposed to be drawing wages. If you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean, and I've got lots of brooms. There is, of course, a fair chance that if you sit on my working anvil you'll jump right back up anyway, as even a 450# anvil will absorb a goodly amount of heat after five or six hours of steady forging.

Most all the horizontal spaces in my shop are usually piled with stuff and the anvil is often the only vacant spot. So go ahead and sit if you must - as long as you're not incontinent. (grin)
   Rich Waugh - Wednesday, 12/21/11 15:01:20 EST

Vern, How much elbow grease have you got? Lots and lots of sandpaper. . . You can polish pitted surfaces but then you end up with shiny pits.

A belt sander (like for for wood work) is safest and keeps the face more or less flat. An 80 grit belt makes a very smooth surface on steel. After that is a 4-1/2" angle grinder with a flap wheel. While these soft wheels create a generally smoother surface and are easier to control than a hard wheel they can still create dips. The secret to such tools is to never stop moving or reverse direction on the work.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/21/11 15:05:54 EST

anvil sitting : My wife, Juanita, says that if you sit on the anvil too much, you get hammeroids.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/21/11 15:11:24 EST

Cracked Coil Spring : I have problem- I am new to the process of dealing with high carbon metals and decided to experiment some with making a cold chisel to start with. I have a coil spring that I originally found on the side of some train tracks that I cut a coil from to use. I hacked my way through it with a hacksaw (went through 2 blades) and straightened it out in my coal forge. After bending it straight I looked closer at the metal and saw a bunch of cracks running perpendicular to the length of the coil. The largest crack being 1/2" long and mainly just splitting the surface so not very deep). I also saw some stamped letters and numbers (H4 HM 74 or close to that) right around where the cracked formed. It looks almost as if the cracks formed along the lines of the stamped letters and numbers. Sort of out of the long parts of the 'H' and '7' if that makes sense. Although there were a few much smaller ones along the length of the piece. Another piece to note is that (being december) my anvil was very cold, about 35 degrees F outside. Could the cracks have formed due to the cold anvil? Or were they in the metal already (stress cracks maybe). The letters and all the cracks are only on one side of the metal and I think that was the inside of the coil (would have gotten stretched when I unbent it). So just wondering what you guys think? Thanks in advance,
   Eric - Wednesday, 12/21/11 15:17:18 EST

Eric, There is Junkyard Steel, then there are scrapped parts. Springs are often scrapped en-mass when they start to fail on machinery.

From the sound of the size of the spring I doubt that a cold anvil would be a problem. However, thin sections of steel can be quenched fast enough by contact with hammer and anvil to harden while forging.

Highly stressed parts should not be stamped with sharp characters. they can indeed start cracks in the part. Special punches are made with rows of little hemispheres for this purpose.

If you have visible cracks in a piece of steel it should be scrapped (perhaps for the second time).
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/21/11 15:41:24 EST

When we recently forged a split cross from 2.5" square stock, the sledging anvil had to cool for an hour or so to allow replacing the coffee can cover for the working surface. The cover is plastic and it would have melted the plastic for at least an hour. Course we hd bigger iron on a 5.5" diameter surface. Heat ran down the lenght so that you could not hold the bar for about 10" below the surface.
   ptree - Wednesday, 12/21/11 15:45:15 EST

Thanks for the quick reply 'guru'. I guess i will scrap that piece. A another quick question while I'm here-

Is it alright to use my anvil when it is really cold, about freezing temperatures or even lower? It lives in my shop with no heat so it is dry obviously, but any chance of hurting it by banging on it cold?

Thanks, this is a really neat resource for people like me with lots of questions.
   Eric - Wednesday, 12/21/11 16:17:09 EST

Etsy Anvils and Warm Anvils :
Nip: The "bits and pieces" anvil on Etsy just says that it's "heavy." Well, who knows, it might work in a Roadrunner/Coyote dichotomy.

Warm Anvils: My 100 kilo USSR anvil will sometimes reach a pleasant temperature in the winter, between the clothes iron and hot work, and it has a broad, comfortable face. I have no trouble with sitting on it, since I'm the original owner of "Kuznets". Out of respect to Jim, however, I'll avoid parking my stern quarters on my Colonial anvil. ;-)

A warm but rainy day on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 12/21/11 16:33:40 EST

Sitting on anvils : http://www.anvilfire.com/news/index.php?bodyName=/news5/NEWS4225.shtml&titleName=anvilfire%20NEWS%20Edition%2042%20September%2030%2C%202008 I just picked up that link from Google. Maybe Jock will clean it up so you can get direct to it within the site. It shows my wife actually captured in the act of anvil sitting
   philip in china - Wednesday, 12/21/11 22:21:50 EST

News 42 Page 25
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/21/11 22:31:32 EST

Anvils : I just recently made an anvil that sits on you, instead of you sitting on it. My apprentice wanted a small anvil she could use for jewelry forging on the boat she lives on, something that didn't take up much space or require a bench or stand. The answer was a lap anvil. \

A bit of scrap 3/8x3 flat bar and a piece of A2 tool steel and a bit of work and she got her anvil. It is my take on the old harness-maker's lap anvils used for riveting harnesses in the past. I emailed photos to Jock.
   Rich Waugh - Thursday, 12/22/11 08:47:27 EST

Future Headline : "Anvil Sitting Takes-Off as Greatest 21st Century Fad!"
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/22/11 08:55:52 EST

Cold Anvils : Another reason to be gentle with a cold anvil is that many steels will become brittle at low temperatures. The drop off in toughness can be sudden and occur over just a few degrees. It is unlikely that the main mass would suffer but using the hardy hole or starting off the day with a large sledge hammer might put the horn or heel at some risk. We had a member here years ago named "Snow Smith" whose forge and anvil were outside, uncovered and I believe he lived in Nebraska. He sent photos of snow piled on his anvil face. Snow Smith, if you still stop by here, I still have, and use the anvil tools you made for me: a bottom fuller, a hot cut and a cold cut. Thanks, friend!
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 12/22/11 08:56:21 EST

Anvil Sitting : Bruce, I believe one of the sages here said that if you can sit on your anvil at the end of the day, you were not working hard enough!
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 12/22/11 08:57:46 EST

Laptop Anvil :
Jewelers laptop anvil by Rich Waugh
Jewelers' laptop anvil by Rich Waugh

This is a deluxe version of the traditional Laptop Anvils. Rich did a beautiful job and I'll post the other photos in the anvil gallery as time permits.

   - guru - Thursday, 12/22/11 10:29:11 EST

Wow what a flurry of comments! All I can say was that we were working a large item in a quite cold shop and the concrete floor was uncomfortable to stand on as in Arkansas we tended not to have the specialized clothing of the regularly chilled northern states.

My "Boss" didn't want me to wander off as as soon as the piece was back to heat we would be working it. As I recall we were forging the valve lifter from a dozer into a hardy tool---tough good sized stock that we were sledging. Of course I wasn't paid during the year I was apprenticed to him; just 6 days a week in the shop and 2 meals a day with his family. Had to stop when I got married and had a family to support.

When my feet hurt in my own shop I may sit on an anvil if the size and height are appropriate. Funny that many people would consider that disrespectful but not grinding or welding on an anvil that I, in general, would consider more than disrespectful to an anvil. (Though more in the "absolutely forbidden when not mandatory" way).

Large anvils and small work---I bet you could forge 1/4" stock all day on my 515# Fisher and never get it to "uncomfortable to sit on" especially in the winter.

Vern I have a finely pitted HB anvil that I am polishing the face out by *USING* *IT*! Scale is an abrasive and regular use will polish an anvil face quite nicely.
   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/22/11 10:35:37 EST

I have never understood, nor allowed the tradiont on not sitting on an anvil in my shop. In my shop, until this year, no winter heat, so it was one of the warm things that would not burn you in the winter.

But then I do use electric welding in my shop:)
   ptree - Thursday, 12/22/11 14:02:44 EST

Jewelers' Anvil : Now; that is just plain elegant! :-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/22/11 14:36:58 EST

Henrob torches : Dear Guru& your color guard; I've heard about the Henrob torch from your hammer-in page. Doe's anyone have one, are they any good, for the price ($360.00)? Says it will cut 1" with a kerf like a plasma! Much cheaper than a plasma!! Just wondering if It's worth the money. Thanks for the help!!!
   Bob Souza - Thursday, 12/22/11 17:51:51 EST

Specialty Torches :
Bob, I haven't used one but I've seen them demonstrated. They are a pretty slick tool but I understand that a lot of the more extreme stuff requires lots of practice and technique. I don't think they are called Henrob anymore. . .

While they do some amazing stuff they don't have the range of a full sized torch setup. A Victor Journeyman outfit will cut up to 8" plate with optional tips and the rosebud tip heats things the Henrob can't touch. While cutting 8" is rare cutting up to 2" or 3" is not unusual.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/22/11 19:11:39 EST

"What's a Henrob?" : That question brings to mind a gang of renegade hens knockin' off a feed store. "Gimme all the cracked corn, and nobody gets hurt." (I'm sorry, I just couldn't help myself.)
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 12/22/11 20:26:39 EST

Anvil Sitting : If this anvil sitting thing really takes off, I'm moving MY money to Preparation H stock!!!!
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 12/22/11 20:33:07 EST

Dillon/Henrob/DHC2000 : These are nice little torches that are good for smaller work. They can and will do everything they claim, but they don't do it by themselves.

As Jock mentioned, it takes a whole lot of practice to get the results that the guy who does the demos gets.

If You only have one torch and want to do a wide variety of work, get a mid capacity unit that will cut to 5". These have enough gas flow capacity to run any tips that can be used on normal home shop size tanks, and by that I mean a 75 CuFt acetylene.

   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 12/22/11 22:34:43 EST

Henrob : Is that like a Henway?? How much is a Henway??
Answer---About 2 1/2 pounds.
   Carver Jake - Friday, 12/23/11 02:12:59 EST

Oxy-Acetylene Factors :
The two stage regulators that come with medium and heavy duty sets will work with smaller aircraft and specialty torches. But the small light duty regulators do not work well with larger torches. Larger cylinders will also work with small torches, but small cylinders do not work well with large torches.

For general shop work 75 to 150 cuft cylinders are common. A 145 acetylene and 250 oxygen are a common heavy duty pair. This pair will operate a standard 1/2" rose bud heating tip without freezing up and one size up for a short time. But larger rose buds require ganged acetylene cylinders to run for just a few minutes. For large heating bulk propane is much better.

The decision of what size set to get is often economical. But it should also be based on the scale of the work you intend to do much like your other equipment. If you are going to do small work then a small outfit may be just fine. But if you are going to build machinery, cut plate. . . then a large outfit may be more suitable.
   - guru - Friday, 12/23/11 02:28:19 EST

New anvilfire Store :
After a couple years of trying to get it launched the New anvilfire store went live this evening. There is not much new except for some different grades of Kaowool but the store is more compatible with more browsers and easier to navigate. We will slowly be adding new products.
   - guru - Friday, 12/23/11 02:28:42 EST

75 lb Fairbanks : I finally ran down a few more owners of the 75 lb hammer. For some, the original spring works well, for some, the 5.5 inch long spring is too long and must be cut a bit. I have no idea why this is. There may have been a patent change in 1900. At any rate, the spring I have is the exact spring that it should have, but it is obviously too long. The only trouble is that I can't get a response of anyone who has cut down a spring. As far as i know, the spring jumped and took their heads clean off.
   Wind Chapman - Friday, 12/23/11 16:13:35 EST

Fairbanks Spring : Wind,

You don't want to even consider cutting down that spring. A spring used in such a configuration needs to have tapered and layed ends and if you cut it you'll have a blunt-cut open coil end, a prescription for trouble.

Getting a custom spring wound is not that expensive, why not just get it done? Jock already gave you good advice on what the configuration should generally be, all you need to do is get with a spring company and work out the specifics and write the check.
   Rich Waugh - Friday, 12/23/11 16:30:54 EST

Fairbanks : Can't help you with the spring as the Fairbanks I've had the most time under is a 150#, but IIRC sometime between 1900 and 1910 is when the ownership/brand name changed from DuPont (original inventor) to Fairbanks (the shop they were being produced in). I think towards the end they were produced by the Barbour-Stockwell folks. Perhaps there were minor design changes at each ownership change that account for some stock springs working and some not.
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 12/23/11 19:29:57 EST

Fairbanks Spring Fits :
I cannot believe a company that made such exceptional hammers used the wrong springs. I CAN imagine users, who usually work on power hammer with a BIGGER hammer and a welder, to use improper fitting parts, (longer springs, shorter toggle arms). Fairbanks made a range of similar sized hammers 75, 100, 125, 150. . . that LOOKED nearly the same but all took different parts.

Machine Changes. . . The last Fairbanks' made had heavy duty tapered gibs (the ultimate in slide adjustment). So changes WERE made. These hammers were heavier than the early hammers but the linkage was identical in proportions. There were NO changes in the linkage patent. Even if there were it would not effect spring length. This is a design, not patent, criteria.

Fairbanks Hammer linkage
Winds' 75 lb. Fairbanks / solid spring

All my Fairbanks photos photos are low res and at bad angles. But this much enlarged image of a 100 pound hammer clearly shows a shorter spring with more space between coils. This hammer runs very well but in this photo the spring is adjusted loose. Other photos show space of about 3/8" between 5/8" coils (proportionately).

If you use an abrasive chop saw to shorten the spring you can get a flat end. The sharp end will need to trimmed off.

However, the problem is still the math. If you don't take the measurements and do the math you are wasting your time, money and parts. Cut the spring too short and you can throw it away.
   - guru - Friday, 12/23/11 20:43:06 EST

Cutting springs : If you do end up cutting the spring with a cutoff saw, I suggest placing the spring inside a pipe then cut throgh the entire thing.
   - Sven - Friday, 12/23/11 22:52:35 EST

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