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 24 - 31, 2011 on the Guru's Den
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Fairbanks Spring : I finally spoke with Sid and sent photos with measurements. He said that some hammers are like that and to cut the spring. He is going to send me one cut down based on the measurements and his experience. I will go from there. Here is a photo link from another 75 pound hammer. http://s672.photobucket.com/albums/vv90/highwaterpants/?action=view¤t=IMG_0210lowresbothsidearmsandbothli.jpg
   Wind - Saturday, 12/24/11 07:13:01 EST

Fairbanks hammer : Guru,

Can you post a slightly better picture? I've never used a power hammer, etc. but there's something about that picture that bothers me. Is the top of the head brushing the coil spring? If true, this implies something wrong besides the spring length.
   Rudy - Saturday, 12/24/11 17:28:33 EST

The top of the ram has a dip in it that is difficult to see in the above. The ram can rise a good 3 to 4" higher (whean and IF the spring compresses - the one at top cannot. The parts in the front and back fit the guides and the extra length provides better support.

   - - guru On the Road - Saturday, 12/24/11 18:43:49 EST

Ring Maker : I am in need of a blacksmith to make a ring for me. Please contact me ASAP if you have the skills for it. Details about the price will be discussed through email.
   Spring - Saturday, 12/24/11 23:12:00 EST


This kind of ring: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uvOgWapG2g ?
   Mike BR - Sunday, 12/25/11 08:57:31 EST

Ring Video : Amazing, how the team worked, and how HARD they worked. Did they get breaks so they could Twitter to their buddies at the sit in?

I don't think they had any trouble sleeping at night.
   Carver Jake - Sunday, 12/25/11 12:44:33 EST

I haven't seen an anvil used with a power hammer.
   Carver Jake - Sunday, 12/25/11 14:29:48 EST

Ring Video : Most impressive! Especially swinging the sledge hammer up against the bottom.
   - Dief - Monday, 12/26/11 00:23:16 EST

Lathe bed design : Is there any reason why traditional lathe beds are only supported at two points under the head and tailstock? I mean other than cost factors, is there anything wrong with having the full length of the bed being supported?

Say I am making a tiny 2ft long bed for a Gingery style lathe by welding plate steel into a box with one face missing. Is this a bad idea?
   Nabiul Haque - Monday, 12/26/11 00:54:16 EST


I'm guessing that lathe beds don't have intermediate supports because that would increase the chance for distortion. If the bed had to rely on such supports for rigidity, it would only be as stiff as whatever it rested on, and shimming the supports before bolting it down would be critical.

A box sounds like a good idea for rigidity, but you're going to have to deal with distortion from the welds. Are you planning to machine the bed flat after welding?
   Mike BR - Monday, 12/26/11 13:05:28 EST

Lathe Bed Design :
Very long lathes often had one or more middle legs to prevent sag. However, this greatly complicates leveling and setting up the machine. Instead of a part day job it becomes a full day or more job. Many modern lathes have heavy full height "beds" but there are feet at either end.

There are other reasons as well. Lathe beds are designed so that chips and coolant fall through the center of the bed into a chip pan. Coolant is recycled and chips removed manually OR by conveyor in production situations. On early lathes, especially wood lathes the tool rest and tail stock were of a type that passed through the bed (two parallel rectangular beams) and were held in place by wedges underneath bridging the bed. Later metal lathes followed this pattern partially to save metal but also because of the way they were made (two steel bars). Often the space in the middle was also a place for a feed screw and its connection to the carriage.

Lots of reasons from both an engineering and design standpoint as well as cost.

Many modern machines have continuous beds, planners, grinders and some lathes. But as noted most have feet to support and anchor.
   - - guru - Monday, 12/26/11 13:22:26 EST

Nabiul : What is your heritage ? You have a very interesting name.
   Mike T. - Monday, 12/26/11 14:21:34 EST

Re: Mike T. : I'm Bengali, Nabiul or some variation in the spelling is a common muslim name.
   Nabiul Haque - Monday, 12/26/11 15:17:50 EST

Faux Precision :
Back when the price of good cold roll steel was not so outrageous and you could count more on the quality it was common to build reasonably precision assemblies from bar stock by bolting it together. A machine ways would be a single piece of CF steel OR several pieces bolted together for straightness and rigidity. Countersunk flathead screws would be used OR blind bolting from the back side. A standard cross section lathe bed with flat ways like the old Craftsman lathes would not be too difficult. This is the way I would make a hand made lathe bed but straightness would be far from machine tool standard. Dressing with files, scrapers and sanding blocks would help.

Dave Baker running Craftsman Lathe

My old Craftsman Lathe has two bolts holding the head stock end down and one bolt at the middle of the base holding the tail end down. This assures that the bed cannot be twisted when bolting down. These little flat bed lathes had the bed precision ground in a large surface grinder. Most of the major parts are cast iron but the belt and gear covers are heavy cast aluminium. The gears are pressed zinc, shafts and screws steel of course.

If you are going to build a lathe I would build a wood bed wood turning lathe first. This can be used to turn patterns and give you some clue as to what you are into. I have spindle parts I had made for one that uses ball bearing pillow blocks for the bearings and has a heavy outboard end for turning bowls. The difficult part will be the cone pulley which I thought about making from aluminum but may go with laminated maple (and tuen on another lathe). The bed, tool rest and tail stock are to be wood in the traditional manner but with brass cross pins to prevent splitting out at the wedges. The bed will probably be construction grade pine with hardwood (maple) wear faces top and bottom (economical, light and durable).

Even though such a machine is mostly wood there are still some challenges building it. If its too difficult then a metal turning lathe is even more so.

Lots of wood work such as blocking and facing can be done on a simple wood lathe the same as on a metal lathe. There are lots of round patterns when doing casting. If nothing else the core prints, sprues and risers are often turned. But then there are patterns for face plates, pulleys, chucks, hand wheels, knobs. . .

I've also seen wood framed band saws. . . the KING of the wood working shop. Also the dream tool for pattern making. . . especially when combined with a lathe.
   - guru - Monday, 12/26/11 19:45:23 EST

DIY Lathe cont'd : I'm not going to attempt to cast the pulleys, my local canadian tire department store carrys an assortment of zinc pulley wheels, cone pulleys and belts. I can't imagine why, the only tool they sell that uses pulleys from what I could tell is those small table top drill presses and they come with plastic cone pulleys.

Casting parts is out of my reach right now, I can't do it indoors and the outdoors has put my forge out of comission for the season.

How expensive is cold rolled steel? The DIY lathes I've seen seem to use a 3" wide by 1/4" to 1/2" thick plate about 2ft long. Most beds are cast from aluminum and then scraped to mount the ways, but I'm thinking of welding the base from hot rolled then scraping the top for the cold rolled ways. I'm not sure if I'm upto scraping the ways, I can get a granite surface plate for not too much money as a comparison standard.

My greatest concern here is making a reliable headstock that will center properly.
   Nabiul Haque - Monday, 12/26/11 21:14:57 EST

Peddinghaus houses : Hey guys I have A quick question about the three houses of peddinghaus and of anvils In general. I'm going to send Jock a quick shot of the anvil in question. I just got a 50 k peddinghaus. It has peddinghaus stamped into it with 50 stamped in larger font about 5/8 inch tall and half an inch down from the name stamp. It apparently is relatively old the man bought it 15 years ago From a guy who had owned it for many more years and had inherited it from his grandfather. It appears that the heel broke off about an inch from the end and was sanded flat and square to the heel" horn" it has a 7/8 Pritchel and slightly over an inch hardy. A conical horn 6 inches long and a thick one inch arc weld around the waist. It rings well and the face has not been welded and is within a 16 th of being perfectly flat. It has a one inch deep by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2 inch square walled indentation on the bottom. I'm wondering if anyone has one welded at the waist like this or if this is a repair and if it's the latter would the weld have softened the face. There are very few dings in the face and it seems hard and has good hammer rebound. I don't have a ball bearing with me so I can't give an exact percentage. Any thoughts? It would be from before rigid purchased the company or something. Thanks all
   Cameron - Monday, 12/26/11 22:17:02 EST

Head stocks and Tailstocks.

A lathe head stock axis needs to be very parallel to the ways or you end up machining a taper on anything in a chuck. However, if turning between centers its only important that the tailstock align with the headstock and the ways not have any curves or dips. They tend to wear near the head stock and then nothing can be done except to file the taper out of work. . .

To align the tailstock to the headstock most tailstocks have a side to side adjustment and the height is adjusted with shims. NEW from the factory they are usually not shimmed. But when worn you need to take them apart and shim the height. I've had to do this on at two old lathes.

The rough method of aligning the headstock is to put sharp just dressed centers in both the headstock and tailstock spindles. Then slide the tail stock up to the head stock until the points almost touch. Then view from directly above and directly from the side. Adjust as necessary. The precision method is to make a test shaft at least 2/3 the machinable length on the lathe or more. This has two fairly large diameter ends made from free machining steel or alloy aluminum and is drilled for centers. You take a very light cut with a freshly sharpened tool on each end and measure carefully with micrometers. Adjust as necessary to get the same diameters.

Granite surface plates can be used for bluing but generally are not recommended for this purpose as they are a measurement reference surface. Cast iron flats are used for checking machined surfaces by bluing. These are made by bluing and dressing three surfaces using each other as references. By using three surfaces you can make an ultra precision surface by hand that can then be used for a reference flat on something else.

IF this sounds like a huge amount of work, well it is. . . But it was fairly common at one time. Not too long ago (maybe still), armature astronomers hand ground the mirrors for their telescopes. It is a similar task with hours and hours of working a grinding pad across the glass blank constantly changing directions. I knew a fellow that built a machine to do it after making two by hand. . .

   - guru - Monday, 12/26/11 22:23:32 EST

Dead Center :
The best way to be sure that the center (Morse) taper and spindle threads in a lathe is dead true is to machine and finish it IN the lathe (unless you have a good metal lathe to do it in). The taper can be honed true using fine compound and a soft metal hone held in the tailstock OR carriage. Use a new center as a gauge to fit and blue accordingly.

Centers are dressed in the lathe. IF there is any question about trueness then a mark on the center and spindle to put them together in the same place will increase accuracy.

Spindle threads are only as true as the thing that fits them. Chuck adaptor plates are generally made to fit and tighten snugly to the spindle shoulder. Then they are dressed on the face and diameter to fit the chuck. Buck brand chucks have screws to adjust perfectly to center. So a stock premachined adaptor works well. All others are made to fit one specific lathe.

You would be surprised at how accurate of work you can get out of a so-so machine by following the right steps. That is how ultra accurate machines got here in the first place. Each machinist pushing the accuracy of the machine in use to make better parts for the next. The entire history of precision tools is boot strapping one from another and the ingenuity of the machinists and engineers.
   - guru - Monday, 12/26/11 22:41:06 EST

Peddinghaus Anvils :
Cameron, All the larger Rigid/Peddinghaus and earlier Peddinghaus anvils are forged in two pieces and then welded together at the waist (just like the late Hay-Buddens). Some you can see the weld, others are dressed to where you cannot. Only the smallest anvils were one piece.

Many of the dings that look like grinder dings likely came from the factory. I had one a size larger that the horn had been torn up pretty bad by the factory, a worker using a straight grinder with a hard wheel to try to dress the horn and did nothing but make it worse. Their solution was to stop finishing the horns at all. This is a shame since the conical horn design was developed so they could be machine finished.

Shame about the broken heal. . sort of makes it look like a Russian. . .
   - guru - Monday, 12/26/11 23:18:23 EST

   Cameron - Monday, 12/26/11 23:19:50 EST

Does that mean it was welded pre hardening and tempering and is perfectly normal I hadn't realized they were arc welded together. Any idea of age and whether it's rigid or not
   Cameron - Monday, 12/26/11 23:59:38 EST

Nabiul Haque : I have posted My opinion on home made metal lathes before, but I will say it again. You are WAY ahead of the game buying an old beat up lathe and putting some work into it than building one from scratch.

You are looking for a project? OK, build something that You can not readily buy for little over scrap value.

A home made wood lathe is a reasonable project. Mt Dad built a nice one for My Uncle & Cousin, but He DID have a metal lathe to make some of the round parts with. Still again, there are plenty of factory built ones to be had cheap, but they offer little [other than convinience]that You can't achive in a home built.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 12/27/11 02:09:09 EST

Home made metal lathe : When I went home to the farm from school, my first project was a home built metal lathe built mostly from old farming machine steel. My main problem was the rack and pinion to traverse the saddle. I solved this by cutting the starter ring shrunk onto a truck flywheel and heating it in sections in the forge and straightening it on the anvil with a wooden club so as not to damage the gear teeth. The starter pinion teeth had to reshaped to fit the rack but it worked quite well. The lathe bed was six feet long and the centre height about eight inches. My lathe worked well and I learned a lot from it, mostly that I could have bought a real one had I put the time into a job that paid.

Hope you all had a good Christmas.
   - Hugh McDonald - Tuesday, 12/27/11 04:54:59 EST

Rack from Gear, Old Machines :
This is a good idea but as Hugh noted the pinion did not quite fit. The reason is that rack teeth should have flat sides (due to the gear formulas saying a rack is a gear of infinite diameter). Thus the pinion teeth were a bit crowded.

I'm replacing a number of parts on the old Porter lathe I have. Probably putting too much into it considering its condition. But building a drive for it, making a new tool post, replacing the tailstock ram and screw, and a couple gears in the carriage is a LOT less work than building a machine from scratch.

While it will never be a precision or work-horse machine it will do a LOT more than a home built. Its a great blacksmith shop machine capable of turning tennons, being used for polishing tool ends and shafts, and any other kind of work that tolerances of +/-.001 or .0015 are sufficient. The fact that it has an extra long eight foot (2.4 M) bed, and can support work 60" (152 cm) between centers and has numerous attachments makes it a little more useful than just an old junk lathe. That length is also handy for using the machine to do torch cutting up to about 4 feet.

Old machines are like anvils, they are everywhere if you look for them.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/27/11 15:11:30 EST

Ridgid Peddinghaus :
When Ridgid first took over Peddinghaus Anvils they did not have any of the dies of stamps retooled as far as I know. The fact is they bought the forging company for the solid steel vices they made, NOT the anvils. In 2004 they stopped production claiming that they needed to replace worn dies and there was a question of money. In 2006 when they went back into production they dropped three out of six sizes they were making.
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/27/11 15:48:44 EST

First Lathe : What would you guys estimate the tooling costs would be to have a small lathe fully operational? The only one within my budget right now is a 7inx8in lathe and from what I've heard the quality on these machines is not much better than a hand built one.


I've also been looking at local classifieds for old lathes, but people are asking ridiculous prices for lathes that are completely rusted over and need rebuilding/ to have the ways rescraped. Also most are simply too big for me to keep at home.

I'll keep looking, I'm not in any hurry to take on a project like this during my final semester at school.
   Nabiul Haque - Tuesday, 12/27/11 17:32:15 EST

Lathe tooling : Depending on how much tooling you want/need, the cost of the tooling will exceed the cost of the lathe. On a tiny little lathe like that, I seriously doubt it would be worth it. For a few hundred more you could get a decent used lathe of 12x36 size with most of the necessary tooling - at least you could in the States. Dunno about Canada. That would at least be a lathe you could use for a long time before you outgrew it. That little 7x8 lathe is just too small to be much use for a lot of things. I can't understand why anyone would make one with so short a bed - it doesn't cost more than a couple bucks extra to make it 24" long.

Machine tools are rarely advertised in local papers. You're more likely to find them on Craig's list, Ebay, trade publications, bulletin boards at tool suppliers, or auction notices. They ARE out there, you just have to be determined in your search and not in a hurry.
   Rich Waugh - Tuesday, 12/27/11 17:43:25 EST


That looks a lot like the Harbor Freight 7X10 lathe I bought used from a friend. Indeed, it might be *exactly* like it -- the 10" rating on mine isn't exactly honest. I don't find the quality to be that bad, though. It's certainly a lot better than I'd expect to get in a machine *I* hand built.

I don't know about shipping to Canada, but Grizzly and other outlets have a (true) 7X12 version for about the same price. littlemachineshop.com has a good selection of parts and components -- if nothing else, that should give you an idea about tooling prices.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 12/27/11 19:18:37 EST

Old Lathes, New Lathes : That little lathe is probably better than my Craftsman BUT it is very short. There are web sites dedicated to nothing but the small Chinese lathes. The better ones are not sold by HF and the like. I suggest you check out those forums.

I bought another 6" Craftsman on ebay a couple years ago for a little less than that lathe. Travel to pick it up in Florida and some extras pushed the price up another $150 or so. But it came with three chucks, a full set of attachments, cutter bits and a cabinet (not heavy enough) and a Kennedy tool chest (holding the attachments).

Right now the market is loaded with machine tools and prices are very depressed. What people are asking and what they will get are two different things.

When buying a used lathe (or any machine tool), as Rich pointed out, the accessories are very important. A used lathe selling for $1500 to $2000 may have accessories worth well over $1000 or as much as the total package. When I bought my old (1920's) 13" Southbend in 1980 it had a broken reversing gear, but a lot of accessories. I paid $1,300 for it, then $300 for custom made gears to repair it. The accessories included:

3 Jaw chuck
4 Jaw chuck
(2) Jacobs drill chucks
Royal Interchangeable point live center set.
Left, Right and Center tool holders
Armstrong threading tool holder
Armstrong boring tool and holder
Cutoff tool holder
HD 6 piece drive dog set
Steady rest
Misc drill bits and lathe cutters.
Taper attachment (not fitted to machine).

The lathe also had the standard face plate plus a drive dog plate (unusual) as well as centers.

The live center set sells for $500 today and nearly as much then (Cheap imports have depressed prices of top quality tools), the chucks would sell for that much each USED (then and now). At that time machinery was in high demand. I had looked at a similar OLD lathe at a used machinery dealer and he wanted $1500 with NO attachments, not even the standard parts that came with the lathe. He would have gladly sold me the ones that came with the lathe for $3000. . .

POINT 1, do not buy from dealers. They make their money selling the attachments. . .

POINT 2, My Southbend was not that bad a deal even though it was broken. It was the first Southbend with quick change gearing and it had a long bed. I could have scrapped it and gotten my money back out of the attachments.

Similar machines are still selling for the same price when you find them. But dealers scarf them up quickly because they can ebay the pieces including every part of the machine if its a popular brand.

Look for machines that say "pick-up only" and figure out how to move them yourself. A couple day road trip will pay for itself. Look for machines that are being sold complete with attachments. Note that deals on bigger floor lathes (12" to 16") are better than small bench lathes. They will weigh in at around 1,000 to 2,000 pounds compared to the 100 pounds for the little bench lathe. You can get fifteen times the machine for two or three times the price. The old machine will probably appreciate while the new small machine will rapidly depreciate. . .

Keep hunting!
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/27/11 22:05:57 EST

Damn that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow!!! Do you know how many times I have to correct someone that calls me a smithy?
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 12/28/11 08:29:34 EST

It's like calling a mechanic a garage!
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 12/28/11 08:29:52 EST

Longfellow : Longfellow got it right. The third line begins, "The smith, a mighty man is he... I tell people, "Why would a blacksmith just stand under a tree; he'd never get any work done.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/28/11 14:21:00 EST

DIY machines : This is a woodworking machine and not especially sophisticated, but I think it's worth a look as long as we're discussing home made.

   Rudy - Wednesday, 12/28/11 17:27:07 EST

tempering coil spring steel : Hi, I am stumblin here!! I have made punch's , Chisel's & stamping tools
from coil springs all my life,, I recently had a bunch of tools that was ready to be tempered,, I normalized them, annealed them, heated to just past the magnetic point, when the magnet started to feel like it was
"drawing" I quinched them in oil,, tested with a file & they are soft?? any idea's?? I got day's tied up in these stamps,, they will mushroom for sure if i use the,,, THANKS in advance,, Scott

   scott boatright - Wednesday, 12/28/11 18:36:51 EST

Scott, NON-MAGNETIC or slightly above is the hardening point not below.

Normalize, Harden on a rising heat, Temper.

You are also dealing with Junkyard steel. Manufacturers change grades of steel EVERY DAY. Springs do not necessarily need to harden very hard and steel suitable for a spring may not be suitable for anything else.
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/28/11 19:41:39 EST

Mortising Machine : Rudy, that home made mortising machine looks like it incorporates a slinky in the design, I don't know much about it, but I would add a Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head in the back. :-)
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 12/28/11 21:54:12 EST

Peter Wright Anvil : Just found a great PW at a very old smithy near our farm. My wife and I have done a pretty good job of researching, calculated the hundredweight (1.1.7 = 147#) but cannot find any reference to the "H" near the bottom of the anvil. Any ideas? Thx
   Chris - Wednesday, 12/28/11 22:10:20 EST

Fairbanks Spring : Looking at the picture of the 75 Fairbanks I'd say there might be other issues with that hammer other then the spring alone. It appears the toggle link arms or perhaps the toggle links are to short for the hammer. At the top of the stroke a lot of the ram is exposed out of the guides. Something just doesn’t look
right in the picture. It’s kind of hard getting an idea what might be going on from a single picture with the ram in one position. One thing for cretin is I wouldn’t use the hammer the way it is currently set up. Try backing off on the spring tension adjustment to ad some droop to the toggle links. The spring wound up tighter then a bulls butt in fly season.
   Bruce Wallace - Thursday, 12/29/11 01:30:50 EST

Exteranious Anvil marks :
Many of the large anvil manufacturers had several teams of anvil forgers since it was mostly hand work. Each team had a mark to identify them. Sometimes it was a letters, sometimes a geometric mark, a star or anchor.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/29/11 09:51:22 EST

muzzle loader barrles : I have made 3 muzzeloaders out of pre bored and rifled 4130 blanks with great success and want to make my own. I have a lathe for the boring and honing process and want to construct a turntable with guide press to rifle with a carbide cutter- but after that should I harden and temper them or just leave them as is? I will probably purchase some round stock in 4140 or 4130 chrome moly, and use the oil quench mode if necessary- muzzle loaders operate at very low pressure so I am wondering if the hardening process is really necessary- I plan to retain at least a 1/4" wall thickness if not 3/16. Some of the round stock is available already prehardened, but that might be rough on the lathe and press- Also some one gave me some drive shafts from a truck sander gearbox - they are 1 1/2 diameter - but what kind of steel do you think they might be? I thought about cutting of a 1" piece and seeing if it will harden to at least drill resistant?
   Andrew - Thursday, 12/29/11 12:46:06 EST

barrels : Andrew, DO NOT harden them! Muzzleloader barrels are best if dead soft. Hardened steel tends to fail explosively when subjected to overpressure, whereas soft steel just bulges. Think, these were originally made from soft wrought iron or even brass. Remington had several failures in the mid-1800s when they switched to crucible steel barrels because they didn't bother to anneal them after machining. These "failures" often resulted in the shooter losing a few fingers or an eye, since the breech end tended to blow out in sharp splinters.

Modern barrel makers use either 12L14 (Goetz) which is a leaded free-machining low carbon screw stock steel, or annealed 4140 (Rayl and others), which is inherently stronger but harder to machine.

Those drive shafts could be anything, but are most likely hardenable.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 12/29/11 13:13:37 EST

Student Agreement : I have been asked to offer some instruction time as a raffle item for our local art center Valentines dinner and auction, rather than donating a piece of my work as in the past. This is something I have not done for compensation in the past. I have "coached" friends, but not for compensation, rather for the love of sharing. My question; should I require a student agreement that covers assumption of risks and release of indemnity or leave it to the art center? I know asking a bunch of blacksmiths a legal question is not the end all, just wondering what you all have done.
   Willy Cunningham - Thursday, 12/29/11 13:05:30 EST

Willy C : Absolutely get your very own release of liability form from the student and/or student's parent if under the age of majority in your state. Never leave that sort of thing up to someone else who may drop the ball. The art center should probably have their own release since it is being done under their aegis, but definitely get your own. I would strongly suggest that you also specify certain clothing requirements, safety equipment that you will provide or they must bring, rules of conduct, etc. I realize this all is a bit daunting, but we live in such a litigious society these days that you need to protect yourself the best you can.

I suggest you also write out a brief course syllabus or outline beforehand so you and the student both know what will be covered and what the timetable is. I find that I do a better job of teaching if I have a plan of some sort to follow.
   Rich Waugh - Thursday, 12/29/11 14:10:57 EST

DIY mortising machine : Mike T

Yes, that wasn't meant to be a great example, but rather to show what can be done w time/effort/ingenuity. I do wonder if that machine could be a first step in a project by someone who wanted to "do it all from the ground up"?

Interesting point: I got that lead from a computer (hardware) blog where even they thought is was a kinda cool example.
   Rudy - Thursday, 12/29/11 14:13:59 EST

Student Agreement Libility :
You should also probably have a written agreement with the Art Center that since you are an unpaid volunteer that they agree to take responsibility for any liability (if on their property). The should have an insurance policy that already covers volunteers but they MIGHT try to wiggle out of it if something happens. IF its on your property and you are not being paid then homeowners will probably cover you. . . ah probably. . maybe. .
   - guru - Thursday, 12/29/11 15:25:51 EST

Barrel Hardness : Even modern barrels are soft. However, they go to some trouble to form the rifling rather than cut it on some barrels to create a work hardened surface that is more wear resistant. However, from what I've read most rifling is still cut.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/29/11 15:30:26 EST

More gun barrels :
Boring a long gun barrel is a tricky job. The old hand made barrels were forged to create a pilot hole THEN bored. Modern gun drills have a hollow shank and coolant is fed in at high pressure to both cool, lubricate and blow out the chips.

In an old Dixie Gun Works catalog they talked about how to use drilled barrels since most had the bore off center. The off center end became the breech, the threads cut to center. Due to the bore being relatively straight at the muzzle it does not affect accuracy to have the breech off center a bit.

Shorter barrels such a pistol barrels could easily be made on a small lathe. I've drilled 3/8" holes 12" deep without too much trouble. I figured if I ever made a black powder gun from scratch I'd start with a pistol since it is not nearly as daunting as making a long rifle.

I recently posted an article about a custom rifling machine. You may find it of interest.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/29/11 16:04:15 EST

Lathes : Used machinery prices vary widely depending on where you are. Certainly there are still deals to be had in the northeast and the rust belt, but not many left in many parts of the country. Between record high scrap prices for several years, and the fact that machines just plain wear out, the stock of used machines in a lot of places are very thin on the ground.
Out here where I live, totally worn out old american lathes often go for MORE than a new taiwan or chinese import will.
And since no new american lathes to speak of have been made in almost 40 years, every year there are fewer of the old ones around.
In Canada, I woud look for Standard Modern lathes- these are made in Ontario, and have been for 60 years now. A good solid machine, and there are a fair amount of them used in Canada.
Canadian prices for most things are higher than those in the USA- and used lathes are no exception.
Most likely, in Ontario, you can expect to pay over $1000 for a decent small 9" to 12" lathe adequately tooled. Especially if its newer than 50 years or so. Every once in a while, a pre-second war behemoth comes up used cheaper, but they are heavy, hard to move, power hungry, and impossible to get parts for.
I just looked on toronto craigslist, and there was a good looking Harrison, a Standard Modern, a Clausing, and a couple of chinese/taiwan lathes for sale, price range between $1200 and $4000 or so.
Thats about what they cost, unfortunately.
Perseverance certainly helps, as does footwork- go around to machine shops, ask if they have any old machines for sale.
Besides Craftsman, Atlas, Logan, Sheldon, South Bend, Clausing, and even Montgomery Ward all sold small, home shop style metal lathes.
   - Ries - Thursday, 12/29/11 18:20:03 EST

Good Old Used Lathes :
They are out there, just like anvils. Maybe not quite as common but they are out there in basements and garages waiting for someone to come get them. They are not dirt cheap, but again like anvils, there are some out there waiting for someone to haul them away. . .

What has surprised me is that we have not gotten one query about the Kingston Lathe advertised on our Tailgate page. It has a full set of attachments many that have never been used. Its a work horse of a machine that could make someone good money.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/29/11 19:04:47 EST

Wooden Machinery :
A lot of machinery has had wooden components including frames.

Beam Drills (precursor to the drill press
Wood Lathes - small, large, great Wheel, motorized. . .
Early steam engine connecting beams.
Long Rifle boring and rifling machines.
Power Hammers (so called 'bracket' hammers)
Power Hammers such as Bradleys' with wooden helves as well as tilt hammers.
Band Saws (I saw one with all wood frame, table and wheels).
Tenoning Machine (built by the same guy that built the wooden band saw).

Of course there were wagons, mill and clock works including gears, springs, shafts. . . Cranes, jib and boom. . . And of course early autos and air planes had wood frames or hybrid wood and steel frames.

We often forget how good of a material wood is. Very strong for its weight, relatively inexpensive, easier to work than metal in most cases. . . With some skill and imagination wood puts all kinds of machinery within the DIY builder's grasp.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/29/11 19:11:49 EST

woodenpower hammers : The russian I served my apprenticeship under told me that the shop he used to be a foreman at, in moscow, where they manufactured forgings for locomotives, had power hammers constructed largely of wood. He also told me the locomotives were constructed largely of wood, lol. Hard to imagine!
   stewartthesmith - Thursday, 12/29/11 19:24:42 EST

Wood is the first composite material. Interesting engineering material in that it does not fatigue. Until the modern carbon fiber composites, the competition aerobatic aircraft were mostly wood for the wings. A wood spar and ribs wing in labor intensive to build, but is incredibly strong for the weight. My Brothers Pitts special S-1-T custom, was stressed to =+/- 12 G's and did that nearly every time he competed. Had a 225+Hp engine in an airframe that less the engine and battery weighed about 450#. These competition aircraft, unlike the military jets, go from hard positive to hard negative G loadings in fractions of a second and in a competition routine, seldom are at 1 G for more than 1/2 second. And a wood truss wing worked well. The fuselage was welded Cr-Moly tube truss. The tubing was generally 0.032" thick.
   ptree - Thursday, 12/29/11 20:45:03 EST

I've always though the de Haviland Mosquito was neat. Though according to the Wikipedia article I just scanned, a few came unglued in the PTO -- literally.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 12/29/11 21:06:00 EST

THANK YOU!!! : I have used the same method for years,, I'm 52 & been smithing since childhood,, I was told many years ago to quinch spring steel just as the magnet started to have draw just a little, but,, I been workin in the same pile of spring steel for 20 years???? THANK YOU for the time & effort to reply, Scott
   scott boatright - Thursday, 12/29/11 21:55:28 EST

High Performance Wood : Laminated wood and directional fibreglass is still one of the best bow materials. Stringed musical instruments support loads in the thousands of PSI in instruments built to be as light as possible. The higher the stress the more sensitive the instrument and the more volume it produces. Harps with sound boards stressed in the TONS regularly blow up. . . much as race cars do because they are being pushed to the limit of the materials. It is expected to need to have a concert harp rebuilt every so often. . . But no other material has replaced wood for this purpose.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/29/11 23:22:28 EST

Mike BR, a few of the mosiquitos did indeed come unglued after tropical exposure, but then DeHavilands have a long history of coming unglued. Sad but rue.
The Russians and the Germans also made bonded wood structure aircraft in WWII and also had adhesive failure. The US wood structure aircraft that was closest was the Hughs HK-1, sometimes called the "Spruce Goose". Not correct as the wood used was not spruce.

In almost all of these aircraft the manufacture was to layup plys with the fibers oriented in each ply for strenght just as in fiberglass. Most used heat and pressure in a mold to accomplish the bond. Sound familiar:)
The molds were often concrete. The Lockheed Vega, one of the cleanest and fastest aircraft of the Golden age was a built up wood ply structure. So was the WWI Albatross.
The biggest drawback to wood structures in aircraft is that weather attacks the wood. But then the modern composites have issues with sunlight attacking the resin and the heat of sunlight can lower the strenght. That is why most resin/fiber aircraft structures are painted white or yellow.
   ptree - Friday, 12/30/11 07:31:34 EST

Wood Glue : After many centuries hide glue (actually made from hoofs) is still one of the best wood glues there is. It has a strength, density and moves like the wood itself. Laminates do not show expansion or contraction lines due to grain direction like with other glues.

However, it can coma apart AND can be purposely disassembled by the use of heat. There are other modern glues that are stronger and easier to use but none meet the high standards set by hide glue. For this reason it is still used extensively by fine wood workers, especially musical instrument makers. The ability to disassemble a wooden musical instrument to make repairs without destroying it is why there are instruments that are hundreds of years old that are played professionally every day.
   - guru - Friday, 12/30/11 10:47:30 EST

Wood is like steel in that there are a lot of different "alloys" and one might be *perfect* for a certain use while another might be terrible. Part of the learning curve is to learn which woods are good for what and then things like grain orientation, split vs sawn, air dried vs kiln dried, the brashness of a piece, etc

Except for high end items most wooden stuff tends to be made from "A-36 quality wood" these days
   Thomas P - Friday, 12/30/11 12:56:21 EST

Heat Treating Spring Steel : Scott Boatwright; In addition to what has been said, let me suggest you move the annealing cycle. Annealing causes the carbon to diffuse together into large carbides. The surrounding metal is then low in carbon and is quite soft making it easy to form. Do the anneal BEFORE you form it. Normalizing causes the carbon to spread out (due to the higher temperature of normalizing compared to annealing) and this makes the metal uniform in carbon content and will harden evenly. Re-normalize your stamps at about 1600F, then reharden them from about 1400F. Use the Guru's temperature color chart to get an idea of what these temperatures look like. The use of a magnet is good for steels between about .60% Carbon and about .80% carbon. Either side of those carbon contents and you need to heat hotter.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 12/30/11 13:42:23 EST

Wooden Planes : My understanding of why wood is not used to make airplanes is this, two sections with the same exact dimensions will vary in weight ( to some degree ). With aluminum for instance, two sections with the exact same dimensions will weigh exactly the same......they say scientists can cut a tree, measure the distance between rings and tell pretty well what the weather was like for that particular year, rings closer together would make the wood denser etc. My understanding of what made the Stradivarius so valuable is the fact that weather conditions were just right for a particular period of time and it created just the right density of wood.
   Mike T. - Friday, 12/30/11 13:56:36 EST

Mike T, wood fell into disfavor when aluminum stressed skin made for aircraft that stood weather better, and were able to be made for less cost. The need for skilled woodworkers for most of the truss type structures from wood and the high manhours made the material not as popular. In the experimental aircraft, wood pretty much ruled until the resin fiber structures became popular after Burt Rutan led the way.

The difference in weight for a wood truss wing structure will probably be less than the difference in the weight of the applied paint. Don't forget, wood truss structures are mostly air in the volume they occupy.
Also old growth stika spruce is usually the prefered wood, with ash used for longerons and in some cases fir for spars since the spars tend to be the biggets cross section of wood in the structure, and most wings have at least 2.
In Europe in WWI, good spruce was hard to come by and many of the fighters had spars spliced together with scarf joints glued and wrapped in linen.
In the 40s and 50's many light planes had spruce spares with stamped aluminum ribs, since the ribs are where most of the time intensive work is.
   ptree - Friday, 12/30/11 14:06:04 EST

Stradivarius and Wood, Bill Moll Guitars :
There are a ton of misconceptions and just plain made up information about Stradivarius and wood.

First, His family business was merchants, buying selling and trading all over Europe and the Mediterranean. Stradivarius collected and stored wood from all over for his entire lifetime as most musical instrument makers do. This included old and new lumber. He had vast selections of lumber to chose from. Second, It has recently been discovered that he used borax to help preserve wood while in storage and that effected the density and strength of the wood (of course others did the same at this time - it is just ONE noted difference). Third and LAST, He was a consummate craftsman, the best of the best. I KNOW luthiers and the best know how to hand select woods for their specific purpose. A board from one side of a log is different than on from the other and different as you move up and down the tree. There was no "accident" of nature or mysterious secret varnish formula that made his work better than others. HE was the best. A first class luthier can make a better instrument from a pile of construction grade pine than an amateur can from the most expensive hand selected woods. The man had skills that we mere mortals do not.

For several centuries there has been a myth (perhaps started by Stradivarius himself in response to truly stupid questions) that the "secret" to his instruments was the varnish. And ever since then mediocre and amature makers have been claiming they have discovered the "secret" varnish that made Strads so good. . . More bull hocky.

No secrets, no accidents of nature, no mysteries. . . just plain skill the same as in many other arts and crafts.

A relative has done some work in trade for guitars made by one of the best luthiers of our time, Bill Moll. I've had a chance to hold and strum (I cannot honestly say "play") several of those instruments. The difference between a "good" instrument and the "best" is unbelievable. Smoother, clearer, lighter, more volume. . . AND works of art. I've made musical instruments. They have been heavy, dull awful things compared to even "adequate" instruments. . . The difference is a lifetime of dedication to being the best. No secrets.

I've been close enough to a Strad violin to smell it and see into the f-holes, but I am honored to say I've held a Bill Moll Guitar. See legendary Bill Moll Guitars.
   - guru - Friday, 12/30/11 15:21:23 EST

Horse Glue : I still use that glue today in my blacksmith shop. Mixed with water, I heat up the glue crystals in a pot on a stove in my shop, then paint it onto the business end of a cloth wheel, then roll the outside of that wheel, covered in hot glue, in abrasive sand used to polish metal to a high shine. Of course, I do this with my shop doors wide open, rather than inhale those glue fumes, which can cause brain damage. Using such a system enables me to polish caulking irons for ships to a very high lustre.
   stewartthesmith - Friday, 12/30/11 20:38:24 EST

Thomas P / Spring steel : Thomas, Thank You,, I may not have used a good use of words,, I annealed before forming,, I had been using springs my grandad got some 20 + yrs ago,It would harden best just as the magnet started to have the slightest draw.. if you quinched it hotter than this it would be so brittle it would shatter if dropped on the concrete?? I got a coil spring from a local junkyard & it is not anything like the old springs
it is

mind boggling to me, what those old springs were made from, I would be thankful for any knowledge you would share, Thanks in advance, Scott
   scott boatright - Friday, 12/30/11 20:57:17 EST

Hide Glue Toxicity : Stuart,

Can you cite an authoritative source for your claim of hide glue fumes leading to brain damage?

I have always understood that hide glue was non-toxic; that it is, fundamentally, very little different than Jell-O. I did some searching on the 'net and could find nothing about hide glues being toxic, either.

While I suppose that there is a rather remote possibility that one could contract bovine spongiform encephalitis (mad cow disease) from eating hide glue made from cows with BSE, I don't think it likely at all. If it were that easy to get a prion disease from hide glue, I would think that sales of Jell-O would have been stopped during the whole BSE scare a few years ago. If it were that virulent, then you would have the same level of risk just using those abrasive belts prepared with hide glue, as the particulates would get airborne during use to a higher degree even than from the steam off the glue pot. Or am I missing something here?

Please cite a source for danger of hide glue use so we can clear this up.

   Rich Waugh - Saturday, 12/31/11 12:42:26 EST

u r right : I just looked it up, hide glue is not dangerous, you were right! I have been taking precautions for no reason for 34 years!
   stewartthesmith - Saturday, 12/31/11 14:19:23 EST

Stuart : Okay, good! Too often we either take, or fail to take, precautions based hearsay, anecdotal "evidence", rumor or other dubious sources. I've been just as guilty of that as anyone else, I'm sure, though my Pop was a scientist and did his best to instill in me a skepticism and determination to find demonstrable proof of such claims. I'm glad we got that cleared up and now you have one less thing to be concerned about. :-)
   Rich Waugh - Saturday, 12/31/11 15:09:14 EST

larry : wel eye ben uzin hyde gloo n eetin jelo aul mi lyef an deres been know chainge in mi celf ore mi spelin. Sew keap uzin ett n yulebee oh-kaye... taek itt frum mee
   - larry h - Saturday, 12/31/11 17:25:14 EST

anvil substitute : I caught the knife bug a couple of years ago.Thanks to MrIronman1979 I would like to make forged knives.Would a Fisher wood stove serve as a workable anvil for a beginner knife maker?
   Peter W. - Saturday, 12/31/11 23:39:25 EST

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