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January 2011 Archive

WHY THREE FORUMS? Well, this is YOUR blacksmithing forum to use for whatever you wish within the rules stated above. It is different than the Slack-Tub Pub because the messages are permanently posted and archived.
This page is NOT a chat - it is a "message board"

Our chat, the (Slack-Tub Pub), is immediate but the record of it is temporary. DO NOT post permanent messages there. We refresh the "log" every 24 hours now and your message will be lost.

The Guru's Den is where I and several others try to answer ALL your blacksmithing and metalworking questions to us.

Please note that this forum uses an e-mail encryption system that prevents spam harvesters from collecting your e-mail address.

J. Dempsey  <webmaster> Rev. 7/98, 3/99, 5/2k, 6/2k, Friday, 04/06/01 16:43:25 GMT

MOVIE REVIEW True Grit (the remake):
A few modern remakes of classic movies have been pretty good. They usually made their mark by being considerably different than the original, movies like Titanic and Anna and the King (from the musical The King and I). I've been pleasantly surprised by these remakes. This was not the case with True Grit.

The remake claims to more accurately follow the book which I have not read. However, this only amounted to a couple minor details of dialogue in a few scenes that did not effect the plot or character development. The greatest change being the closing scene but it is of no consequence.

To remake a hit John Wayne movie where he was coupled with Kim Darby, Glen Campbell, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Strother Martin and a number of other well known supporting actors is not something to take on lightly. In this case the remake is not nearly as entertaining as the original and brings nothing new to the story. It may be more "realistic" but it is also dark and does not flow well. In other words it was a huge waste of time effort and money.

Definitely a thumbs down.

Get the 1969 John Wayne version. The sequel "Rooster Cogburn" with Catherine Hepburn is also an entertaining romp with "The Duke".

- guru - Saturday, 01/01/11 23:29:24 EST

True Grit: Interesting review Guru.
My dad and I happen to see the previews for that movie while watching a football game and I was very surprised to hear him say with some enthusiasm that it looked like a pretty good show.
I thought it did too but, I normaly enjoy the "shoot 'em ups" were as he doesn't, usualy.
I'll have to wait untill the library has it on video befor I'll get to see it anyway.
- merl - Sunday, 01/02/11 02:45:13 EST

True Grit: I saw this new year's eve. Although I didn't grow up on Westerns I thoroughly enjoyed the new True Grit. My only critique is the cgi scene was corny, but may have been one of the most suspenseful parts for other viewers.
- Ty Murch - Sunday, 01/02/11 18:39:06 EST

Stuart Geisler
Editor of
The Burholme Stamp Club Newsletter

As a ten year old boy, I was full of intellectual curiosity. Growing up in the New York projects, reading was the only escape from the daily vicissitudes of project existence. Reading provided a portal for my imagination and my soul. Rather than deal with the daily existence of crime infested hallways which intruded upon my sleep, and therefore my dreams, I could be anything and anyone I wanted to be, in the mind of a kid. Intellectual stimulation was my magic carpet which conveyed me from the dangerous and mundane elements of my life. I could hop from being John Glenn the astronaut to Kirk Douglas the Viking in my imagination. I was a happy child indeed!

My parents, striving for a better life for us, moved to Northeast Philadelphia, where my life drastically changed. This change allowed me to manifest every aspect of my imagination in concrete terms. Living in proximity to the beautiful Pennypack Park, I could build castles, tree houses, and examine the protozoans in a puddle with a microscope, which we could now afford for me. My father, who could now afford a 1957 Chevy, conveyed me to all sorts of interesting places in Philadelphia, from the Rodin Museum to the Philadelphia Zoo.

The place that absolutely captivated me was a little known treasure in the Philadelphia area, the Bryn Athyn Cathedral. Rising out of a small parkland setting, this place put me in mind of medieval castles seen in some of my favorite movies. Carved stone gargoyles sitting on parapets put me in mind of the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This beautiful place absolutely stunned me in its beauty and magnificence. They gave us a free tour, and I was captivated by every nook and cranny. Each and every part of this edifice was hand crafted by master craftsmen, hired by the industrialist John Pitcairn from European guilds back at the turn of the 20th century. They still give free tours of this cathedral.

On our first visit, my father and I stumbled upon the craftsmen's buildings on the grounds of Bryn Athyn. This accidental discovery, little did I know at the time, would profoundly affect my life. There was an old world craftsman standing there, in the blacksmith shop, taking hot metal out of a fire and hammering it into different shapes on the anvil. His name was Al Walter. This looked like pure magic to me. This “Merlin the Magician” was altering a hot piece of metal, and forging it into the shape of an animal’s head, with sparks flying and the clang of the work he was doing on his anvil. Every aspect of his work reminded me of sorcery; he was creating something from nothing, like an alchemist. I was so excited watching this man ply his craft, I could hardly breathe. This was one of the most exciting things I had ever seen in my short life. Al Walter, taking a short break from his work, explained to my father and I that he had served an apprenticeship as a young boy my age in blacksmithing, stone carving, and wood carving. This master craftsman, and "magician", was creating works of art for use in the cathedral that were pure beauty to behold. His kind explanation of the type of work he was doing had a deep impression on me. My father, very imaginative and full of curiosity like me, took me back to see this workshop many times as I was growing up.

Years later, while I was studying astrophysics as a graduate student at Villanova University in the late seventies, I was also searching for employment in my field. At that time, due to cutbacks in NASA, jobs in my field were hard to come by. Frustrated while looking for work, and being nagged by my dad to get a job, I perused the classifieds in the Inquirer. Looking in the "A" section for an astronomer's position, my eyes floated to the next ad for an "apprentice blacksmith position". My father was hollering-angry, saying "I didn't spend all that money getting you an education to become a blacksmith!" Like any future blacksmith, I suddenly developed a deaf ear.

Remembering my youthful encounters at Bryn Athyn in a pleasurable light, I was determined to land that position. While all the other applicants showed up in blue jeans and sneakers, I showed up in a suit and tie. During the interview, the master blacksmith of the shop was there, a man named Fyodor Czub, who reminded me of Al Walter. Mr. Czub liked the fact that I had enough respect for his knowledge and MYSELF to dress up in a suit. They hired me immediately.

I went on to serve a five year apprenticeship in this craft under Mr. Czub. Incredibly, Mr. Czub didn't speak one word of English, and I didn't speak one word of Russian. For five years, he taught me through pantomime and through Russian translators in the shop. I wanted to learn this craft so badly, that the language impediment was never a problem. In fact it was a bonus, because I learned by following his lead, just as he did as a young boy in Russia. The language we had in common was respect for this craft, and a love of iron and steel as a medium. Believe it or not, forging hot iron and steel still feels like magic to me. I went on to start my own tool forging business, grateful for the happy coincidences that allowed me to learn this craft. It is with profound gratitude that I remember the inspiration Al Walter and Fyodor Czub provided for me. Who would have thought, that a little boy with a profound imagination, would someday become a magician in metal!

- stewartthesmith - Sunday, 01/02/11 21:17:32 EST

Stewart: Fascinating story, thanks!
- Rich - Monday, 01/03/11 07:42:38 EST

Interesting how lives turn out. Surprising how many blacksmiths have at least a college degree. Take both Jim Batson and Clay Spencer. Both were 'rocket scientists' in Huntsville, AL and, as I recall, it is Dr. Jim Batson, PhD. I have no doubt I'm the only one in my MBA class who became a blacksmith.

Update: Ted Tucker's Practical Projects for the Blacksmith is at the printers and I expect receipt within a week or so.
Ken Scharabok - Monday, 01/03/11 20:17:15 EST

interesting Ken- We have or there have been 2 baby doctors in the North Carolina ABANA group. I am sure they had more to their resume than "baby doctor" but I do not know their area of expertise.
- ptpiddler - Tuesday, 01/04/11 11:40:30 EST

Stewart, I assume you still live in Philly, Burholme park? I live in Bucks Co., my father's friend owns a rail and fence shop in Northern Liberties and lets me snag all sorts of twisted bars, out-of-whack rods, some old wrought. Been self taught smithing since 2005. I would love to see your shop and hear more of your stories. I don't like giving out my e-mail, but you can contact me through my website:

- Nippulini - Wednesday, 01/05/11 09:58:03 EST

hello: Nippulini, you can call me at 215-768-5735. Nice hearing from you
- stewartthesmith - Wednesday, 01/05/11 11:42:45 EST

Maryland "Blacksmith Days": Nipp, Stewart, et al., We're hammering out details for me to be a presenter at Carroll County Farm, Westminster, for the BGCM, May 13-15.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 01/06/11 09:21:40 EST

Do you REALLY want to be a blacksmith?: Yes you can if you really want to.

ebay # 270689017000
- Tom H - Friday, 01/07/11 07:47:07 EST


I'll be there!
- Dave Leppo - Friday, 01/07/11 11:05:45 EST

Note what they are using for an anvil!

Very much in line with the smith in "How To Train Your Dragon"---who also had a prosthetic beer much as well as smithing tools...

Thomas P - Friday, 01/07/11 12:54:12 EST

Strange photo.
- guru - Friday, 01/07/11 13:54:08 EST

Obscura: Nippulini,
I saw a little version of you on the discovery program featuring the Obscura & Oddities Shop. He is a 3'8" escape artist. He did a demo to get a discount on a coffin. You two could put on a great show!!
- Slackner - Friday, 01/07/11 17:36:35 EST

Amputee Blacksmith: If I was to guess looking at the hairstyles and the shop, I would wonder if this was some sort of re-hab training for disabled WWI vets.
Just a guess.
- Tom H - Friday, 01/07/11 18:41:19 EST

Used anvil stakes?: I am looking to try metal working and would like to start with the "Working in Metals" title on your ebooks page. I am having trouble finding some of the tools listed at a price I can manage. If you have used anvil stakes for sale or would be willing to make such for a noobie in centeral California I would like to here form you. The stakes of interest are, round stake, round anvil stake and cobination stake. Simialr stakes of any name are welcome, if you would like to see what I'm refering to follow the 'Book Page' link. Please email me if you can help me.

Thank you,
Book Page
Gabriel - Saturday, 01/08/11 17:08:54 EST

Gabriel, These tools are not very common and when found can often be quite pricey. For many of this type tool smiths on a budget make their own. See the link below for some ideas. If you use your imagination and scrounge a bit you can come up with some very interesting tools for a fraction of the cost of even good used tools.
Shop made tools
- guru - Saturday, 01/08/11 17:52:52 EST

Stakes: Gabriel,

You're not going to find those stakes used for much less than you would pay new - good used ones command a high price since Dixon and others stopped making them. Now will you be likely to find anyone to make them for you for anything less than new price or higher. Making stakes properly is a job for a pro and pros need to make their shop rate or they go broke. I sometimes make custom stakes and they're never cheaper than stock items.

However, you can make very serviceable stakes like those from pieces of scrap welded together and ground to shape. A steel ball on a square bar shank, a piece of round shafting ground to profile and welded to a piece of flat bar you can clamp in a vise. The "combination" stake could just as well be two separate stakes, one made form ground round bar and the other from flat bar. With a welder and a grinder you can certainly make something that will work fine. I know several people who use stakes made that way everyday in their shops. Even if you have to pay to have the welding done for you you'll save a lot of money.

Blacksmiths often make their own tools and this might be a good place for you to start - stakes aren't nearly as critical as a hammer, say.
- Rich - Saturday, 01/08/11 18:06:27 EST

GABRIEL: where at in central cal are you? i may be able to help or assist.
- bam-bam - Saturday, 01/08/11 18:28:42 EST

Scrounge-a-stake: Old cast iron window sash weights can be cleaned and held in a vise for work. Axle half-shafts can be cut and ground/sanded rounding on the end.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 01/09/11 08:37:05 EST

DIY Stakes:
The Mexican Coppersmiths at the 2000 ABANA conference were using a stake that was merely a torched off piece of truck axle bent into an L shape and mounted in a stump. The rough torched end was just barely dressed to smooth the corners. The top (and possibly the corners) were polished from use. Other tools included a sand bag (probably leather) and a series of hammers. They may have had better tools in their shop at home but these were the tools they brought to demonstrate their work. They did very beautiful detailed work.

As Frank noted an automobile or truck axle can make a nice mushroom stake. The flanged end can be cut and reshaped. Most need the center where they are drilled for a lathe center filled with weld. Axels are good medium carbon steel and can be used to make other tools such as hammers, fullers, punches.

Assistance from someone with a cutting torch and welder is very helpful making tools of this nature.

If you are setting up on the cheap it helps to develop sources for materials. Truck and automotive garages often scrap brake drums, axles, springs and other parts that are often hard to find or expected to pay for at a scrap yard. Shops that work on heavy equipment often scrap heavier parts. The sprocket wheels from all kinds of tracked equipment wear out and are scraped. If fork lift forks get bent they are often scraped. . .

In recent times scrap yards have become more difficult to work with unless you are spending a lot of money. They (or their insurance companies) do not like folks picking through their yards AND the occasional small sale is often a nuisance. But if you find a cooperative yard they are a treasure of a resource.
- guru - Sunday, 01/09/11 11:16:52 EST

Material Sources: are something that, when discovered, must be cultivated or they wither and die. If you get a salvage yard, scrap yard, recycler or machine/welding shop that lets you pick stuff for yourself, you must cherish and nurture that relationship like it was your love life. Make the guy(s) a trinket or two, take a six-pack of something cold and tasty, drop by with a bag of fresh donuts, etc. As Jock noted, these places are all caving in to the demands of insurance carriers, lawyers and regulators and clamping down on scavengers like us. If you have one that lets you in, be sure to repay the favor one way or another!
- Rich - Sunday, 01/09/11 19:32:56 EST


A friend had a deal with a local steel company that would let him scrounge in the scrap dumpster. Lots of good stuff such as disks cut from the center of large rings. He made the mistake of telling a friend about his deal. The "friend" went and talked himself into the deal. . . THEN he was found one day inside the dumpster wearing short and flip flops. . . That was the END of the deal.

If you are going to scrounge in a scrap yard show up wearing steel toed shoes, work clothes and gloves. IF the workers wear hard hats in the yard then bring your own. Same for safety glasses.

If you need tools for your scrounging you should bring your own. In the shop I avoid Crescent wrenches but they are indispensable in the field. Be sure they are clearly marked with your name so there is no question about ownership. Bright colored paint is a good start but you will want engraving as well.

- guru - Sunday, 01/09/11 23:07:32 EST

Marking Tools with Paint:
While this is not permanent on smooth or plated tools it holds up surprisingly well. Many years ago my brother-in-law lived in a house with a bunch of other 20 somethings and they ALL had craftsman tools and often worked on projects together such as engine or transmission overhauls. . . Confusion about who's tools were who's was solved by spraying bright colored paint on the tools. Roger's was bright orange, Eric's was blue, another fellow's was white. I remember Roger's color because I inherited some of his tools. Its still on them 35 years later. . .

When I started traveling to hammer-ins where I might do a demo I carried a few of my favorite tools. While I recognize my tools others may not. So I sprayed some white paint on the them. At one of Bill Epps hammer-ins Leah Fuller was there with all her tools marked with pink paint. We kept threatening to paint her new Peddinghaus anvil pink. . .

While single colors work in small groups you rapidly run out of distinct easily recognizable colors. Multiple colors easily solve the problem. Using any common color (primaries, secondaries, black and white) as a background and one or more stripes of another color in the same set gives you 128 (2^n-1) possibilities. Add some basic shades (pink, violet, light green, maroon) and you have 2048 two color identifiers. Use 3 colors (background and two color stripes) and you have 59,049 possibilities.

I used white, but for two colors I'll use white with a maroon or brick red stripe. anvilfire colors.

Marking by patterns of stripes like this was done centuries ago by archers to identify their arrows. Yep, those fancy strips of color (now randomly applied as decoration) used to be identification marks.
- guru - Monday, 01/10/11 10:58:09 EST

Tool marking : Electrical tape is available in quite a few different colours and is another way to mark your tools, if you don't want to paint them. While not as permanent it is a little neater looking and is easily removable. I had a bunch of my tools used by demonstrators at Caniron in Hamilton so I marked all my tools with red tape and had other coloured tape for anyone else who wanted to use it. A lot of the tools still had the tape on them a couple of years later.
- JNewman - Monday, 01/10/11 12:43:35 EST

tools: can also notch them. this can also help with hanging on to the buggers at times
- bam-bam - Monday, 01/10/11 16:07:19 EST

Stakes: may I commend to your attention a seroes of forums devoted to medieval and renaissance armour making

(and yes they use the english spelling instead of the american spelling to differentiate it from tanks and other modern armor)

There you will find a number of threads on making and using stakes and even a gentleman called Halberds who has sold a beginners armouring set before.

Thomas P - Monday, 01/10/11 16:23:31 EST

One of our local guild members runs a small construction company. He's painted all the company tools pink. He says he hasn't has one walk off since.
Mike BR - Monday, 01/10/11 19:13:32 EST

"Pink Peddinghaus": Rhymed so nicely. . .
- guru - Monday, 01/10/11 20:00:33 EST

More Colors: I have two heavy pinch bars that I bought at the flea market bent into snake shapes. They were easily straightened in the hydraulic press then points dressed with a grinder. Afterwords I cleaned and painted them bright Caterpillar yellow (over zinc primer). This was because the normal black and dark green is often hard to find when hiding in a corner. . . The yellow is easy to spot.

But the bright yellow has made them obviously mine when I've taken them to job sites. If someone else has one of these they are normally rust brown or some dark color.

Recently when we were cleaning a bunch of tools on a "handle day" we painted all the shovels, hoes and similar digging or garden tools bright yellow or white. The yellow ones were the keepers, the white ones went to the flea market. The yellow makes the tools easier to find in the shop and in the garden.

I've got a ton of the typical rust brown blacksmiths tools. You can go blind looking for specific tools. The exception is my sheet metal tools most of which I have cleaned and painted to photograph. These have a nice Chevy metallic sky blue paint job on all the non-working surfaces.

Paint jobs on such tools often go on over tight rust. However, the paint lasts much longer if the tool is degreased, then zinc primed before painting. I think I Ospho'ed most of the sheet metal tools prior to painting. The phosphating and little bit of zinc prevents rust spots at chips in the paint and thus looking better much longer.

While this sounds like I've got a shop full of bright shiny tools with pretty paint jobs this is far from the case. The few that are well maintained are the exception. So when I DO take time to do such things I try to do a better than average job. However, in recent years the rust is winning. . .
- guru - Tuesday, 01/11/11 09:51:20 EST

That Pink Peddinghaus" must have some elastic sewed in somewhere! It just HAS to!!
- Tom H - Tuesday, 01/11/11 16:06:13 EST

n.b. alliteration not rhyme

Thomas Tersely Tempered Tintinnabulator
Thomas P - Tuesday, 01/11/11 17:29:32 EST

Keeping time, time, time in a kind of runic rhyme?
Mike BR - Tuesday, 01/11/11 21:45:16 EST

Poetry?: The spoken English languange is essentially iambic, meaning alternating accented and unaccented syllables. This may or may not be timed with alliteration or rhyming. It depends on what the creator wants to bring to it.

"PE-ter PI-per PICKED a PECK of PICK-led PEP-ers" illustrates both alliteration and the stressed/unstressed nature of our language, but there is no rhyming of like sounding words.


Frank Turley - Wednesday, 01/12/11 10:09:17 EST

Anglo-Saxon poetry made great use of alliteration and stress but not much of rhyme.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 01/12/11 12:49:25 EST

pink: Sheriff Joe Arpaiao of Maricopa County, Az., AKA America's Most Hated Sheriff, was tired of people stealing underwear from the jail. He ordered them dyed pink. Now they are famous, and you can purchase them at fundraisers, probably online too.
- Loren T - Wednesday, 01/12/11 15:43:43 EST

blue: In the early '80s I had a friend that needed a dozen 14" open web steel joists 21'-0" long. Delivery from Vulcraft was a minimum of 6 weeks. He asked me what I could do. I was general manager of a steel company at that time, and we were swamped. I had an engineer design them using angle for the top and bottom cord, and all web members out of 1/2" round. I set up a jig in my garage and placed all members in it, tacking them. Then during the day my wife wearing matching blue leather apron, welding helmet, and gloves would weld them with a wire feed. Some time later we were at a party and she was relating how I had bought her matching helmet, gloves, and apron. The comments ran like "Is't that nice of the SOB, making you work like that" Then when she told them we were flying to San Francisco for 5 days on the money we made on the joists, they changed to,"I wonder if I can get my husband to get me some?"
Sometimes perception is everything.
- Loren T - Wednesday, 01/12/11 16:51:12 EST

UPS has done a pretty good job on Brown. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 01/12/11 18:26:31 EST

I have to say that all of my demo tools, my demo trailer, my pickup and tables etc are all my trademark color, Safety Blue. Gets some snide comments, until the actually snide remarkers figure out that my award winning demo Fold-A-Forge trailer cost me less than $50, equipped and that part of the scrounged materials was that Safety Blue paint:)

If you need cheap paint, ask the paint store for "OOPS" paint:) Mine was free.
ptree - Wednesday, 01/12/11 20:44:06 EST

My brother and I are considering a trip to England to explore around for a couple of weeks in April or May and I'm looking for suggestions of people to visit, shops to see, events or places of interest. We're thinking of England proper, not venturing as far as Scotland. Have to set some limits, after all. (grin)
- Rich - Thursday, 01/13/11 02:14:25 EST

English Blacksmiths: Rich: Contact Bob Bergman at the Postville Black- smith Shop in Wisconsin. I seem to remember that he was an aprentice blacksmith in England and was shipped from Shop to Shop depending on work. I also seem to remember he and Ron Kinyon discussing the lack of good plans for modern power hammers and they vowed to come up with ideas. Ron Kinyon's is well known, and I believe that Bob developed the Kickass brand.
- Loren T - Thursday, 01/13/11 02:55:53 EST

England: Thanks, Loren. I'll give Bob a call. While I know that Bob is the dealer for the KA air hammers, I believe it was Grant Sarver who first developed the design.
- Rich - Thursday, 01/13/11 08:08:28 EST

IronBridge Gorge---Blist Hill Museum where they are re-forging wrought iron scrap!

For arms and armour: the Wallace Collection in London and the Royal Armoury in Leeds

IIRC the Victoria and Albert has ironwork in it's collection, London as well

Thomas P - Thursday, 01/13/11 10:45:19 EST

Rich: You notice that I qualified everything by "seem" to remember. My memory is not as good as it once was.
- Loren T - Thursday, 01/13/11 20:54:33 EST


Not smithing, but the Imperial War Museum I'd visit again if I went back to London. One of the smiths in our Guild is from England and has mentioned a couple of places -- I'll try to catch up with him and get locations and descriptions.
Mike BR - Thursday, 01/13/11 20:55:11 EST

Off to Williamsburg Tomorrow: I'll be attending the MarsCon science fiction and gaming convention to display some of my work in the art show and auction. I think I completed about 2/3 of what I intended. Still, it should be fun. If anybody is in the neighborhood, feel free to drop in.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 01/13/11 22:36:50 EST

Speaking of European trips, I may be flown to Italy for a Guinness Record TV show. I was talking to a producer on the phone and got lost in translation for the word anvil. He was asking me what I lift, he didn't know what anvil meant. So I said "you know blacksmith?" and he replied "oh the thing that they beat iron on". I was like "you got it!"
- Nippulini - Friday, 01/14/11 10:39:58 EST

Technical Language:
Many people that specak more than one language can handle many different situations but when it comes to technical terms and even the words for common tools they are lost. I've had several native speakers of foreign languages that spoke English very well attempt to translate simple technical writing and fail miserably.
- guru - Friday, 01/14/11 12:49:54 EST

I had to vet some blueprints for an installation of one of our systems in Japan once. Luckily we had a native japanese speaker/reader in the company and sh showed up with a japanese to japanese technical dictionary as she *knew* she probably wouldn't know the technical japanese.

I still remember her pointing to the bluebrint and saying "This is like where a ship goes in the river". Me: "Aha---channel iron! Good, what are the dimensions?"

Not surprisingly the japanese had done an excellent job with earthquake bracing for the system.

Thomas P - Friday, 01/14/11 13:28:07 EST

ThomasP, At my company, I do all the safety training, and we get technicians in from the main plant in Japan every so often. They come to work for a couple of years and some just to start up a line.
When I am going over the Emergency Response plan, they have no problem understanding what to do in an earthquake, but don't really understand when I tell them that the local emergency agencies will be no help since they have no hardene buildings.
Then I go into Tornados. They don't believe me, and the translator will gently tell them it is all true. She has been here maybe 20 years.
I guess you have to live in a region to understand the natural environment threats.
ptree - Friday, 01/14/11 13:47:28 EST

Well, now I have to find an Italian smith (fabbro) who is willing to lend out an anvil (incudine) for this TV show... I wonder if they will think my stage name has Italian roots, everyone else does!
- Nippulini - Friday, 01/14/11 14:58:13 EST

Local Hazards:
There is SOMETHING almost everywhere. If its not weather its insects or local disease (often spread by insects. In Costa Rica most of the country is very nice but they have one of the worlds largest concentration of poisonous snakes. They have small scorpions but few mosquitoes. The no-see-ums were what chewed me up.

In the US many places such as Maryland and Virginia fields and woods are covered with poison ivy as dense as Kudzu. . If you get it bad enough the sores can become infected severely enough to be disfiguring or life threatening. Mosquitoes here can be as bad as any tropical country.

There are numerous places along the Appalachian mountains that have severe enough weather in mid summer that death by exposure can be an issue. Deaths occur regularly on Mt. Washington, NH when summer hikers go unprepared.

Along our creek in Virginia I've warned folks of sudden flash floods. They can happen (and have) on a beautiful clear day when a local thunderstorm passes over the upper watershed. A little calf deep wading stream can change to a 10 foot deep raging torrent in 5 minutes. It is not a place you would want to camp on a sand bar or "beach".

At the sea shore or beach the water can turn on you in an instant. Tides can leave you stranded, storms become violent very quickly. . then there are rip tides and sharks. . There is a hiking trail at an ocean front island park in Costa Rica where the trail crosses a small tidal stream that is less than waist deep much of the day. But at high tide it is too deep to wade so you must swim against the current and the distance has increased ten fold. The other way off the island is a 20 mile hike along trails that would be difficult to follow after dark. Its a popular place but you need to plan for the tides.

It is not so common today but just a few decades ago having a vehicle breakdown while crossing some of the deserts in the American South West could be a disaster. I remember reading about people drinking the water from the radiator to survive. . At the time it was just dirty water. Today all cars have antifreeze in the coolant making it toxic.

Traffic, crime and other human hazards are also significant things to keep in mind in many places.
- guru - Friday, 01/14/11 14:58:45 EST

Nip, try "Capezzoli di Venere", Nipples of Venus. These a Italian candies and pastas :0
- guru - Friday, 01/14/11 15:01:50 EST

Where in Italy? ISTR an Italian smith, Bruno, posting at an SCA site I might be able to dig up but he's in Northern Italy, near Milan as I recall.

How large and when are other questions...

Thomas P - Friday, 01/14/11 16:09:45 EST

People tend to get "accustomed" to their local hazards and grow to think that the precautions to deal with them are "normal"; but when faced with different hazards that other people find "normal" they are strange and the precautions are not something folks should have to deal with!

When younger I used to travel to and from college through an area of the Poconos that was almost "crowded" in the summer but totally empty in the winter. So I had an army surplus down sleeping bag, some C rats, some hurricane candles, matches, etc stored in the car---just in case I hit a blizzard or slid off the road in the winter.

Here in NM I'm more likely to have something to rig as a sunshade and 5 gallons of potable water to hand.

Thomas P - Friday, 01/14/11 16:38:28 EST

It's to be filmed in Rome, March 21st to th 27th is my itinerary. I was shooting for a 90 pounder or so. The original date and location was June in Milan but they bumped it up.
- Nippulini - Friday, 01/14/11 16:54:45 EST

Italy: Nip- Do you have any copies of Antonello Rizzo's books? He's an Italian producing books about Italian ironwork, I bet he could put you onto Roman shops. If you can't find him shoot me an email and I'll send you the stuff on the inner cover of some of his books.

On a related note, anyone have contacts in Greece? Looks like my family will be taking a trip there in about a year. Would love to find any sons of Hephaestus (minus cyclopes).
- Judson Yaggy - Friday, 01/14/11 19:57:10 EST


I have a copy a Weygers in Italian I bought used (and cheap) in Lucca a few years ago. No English, but lots of drawings labeled in Italian. I have no use for it, so send me your snail mail address and it's yours.
Mike BR - Friday, 01/14/11 21:08:37 EST

Anvil in Italian-
Blacksmithing- Ferro Battuto

Like in the USA, blacksmiths are seldom in the city center- the real estate is too expensive.
I have an older book that has a lot of Italian blacksmiths names and addresses, though, if you want me to send you any.

However, much simpler- type "ferro battuto roma" into google- and you get a half dozen blacksmith shops right in rome.
If it was me, I would email a few in advance, and visit em, even if the producer finds you an anvil- what could be more fun than visiting Roman blacksmiths?
I bet they know where the good pizza is, too.
- ries - Saturday, 01/15/11 13:05:08 EST

San Servolo, Italia F.Y.I.: I was able to spend three weeks in Venice 10 years ago with my wife, Juanita, and our daughter & family. While there, I found out about an "international school of heritage conservation" on a nearby island of San Servolo (isola di San Servolo). There was supposedly a smithy there, among other teaching shops. Daughter, Patricia, and I took a vaporetto (water taxi) to the island where the school office secretary allowed that we could walk around as visitors and check out the various disciplines. At that time, I remember visiting specific areas that were set aside for stone cutting, plaster work, masonry, woodworking, and blacksmithing.

There were no smithing classes going on at the time, but an Italian senior student was our host at the smithy. As I recall, there were three coal forges with their anvils, a couple of leg vises, and on one wall, a long tool rack. The student and I were struggling to understand each other. I wondered whether they had a drill press. He shook his head "no," and pointed to a pistol drill. There was no power hammer. Our host told us that the renowned Alfred Habermann would fly in occasionally from Austria and give short courses. Because of the way the shop was set up, most everything had to be done by hand forging.

As I understood it, this school was set up in 1977 primarily for students from Europe who desired to be trained in traditional architectural crafts in order to preserve and restore structures that were in danger of being lost by way of age and decay. I am now having a difficult time finding out about the school. I see on the net that there may be August residencies there for emergining artists: I'm not sure whether the international school that I witnessed, is still in operation.

I was interested in all of the ironwork I saw in Venice. I had read that Venice gets flooded twice a year because of the behavior of the ocean. Some of the ironwork was therefore rusty on the bottom and in good shape on the top. Venice had a number of churches and convents with huge doors, maybe 30' tall, with their corresponding wickets. I was quite interested in the hinges and latches, and if the big doors opened inward to the wall, the hardware was mostly hidden from view. I was "caught" on a few occasions moving the doors a bit so that I could take a gander. Either a church official or custodian would holler "Prego!" Prego means a number of things in Italian but in that sense, it means "You there, what in the hell do you think you're doing?" I learned to say in Italian, that I was a fabbro ferraio from the U.S., and I was doing ironwork research. This seemed to satisfy the officials.

All in all, a great trip.

Frank Turley - Sunday, 01/16/11 10:11:13 EST

Inquiring Minds:
I think blacksmiths often have more curiosity about how things are made and work than the average person, even technical types such as engineers or artists.

Many years ago the person in charge of a windmill at an historic site handed Josh Greenwood and I the keys to the thing. We were supposed to take some measurements and he had to go close up the park. . . Blacksmiths, unsupervised, with keys to a windmill. .

So of course we went inside. This was a "post" mill much like the one at Colonial Williamsburg where the entire mill rids atop a heavy post so that it can rotated to face the wind. We were traveling with our families. Our twins were about 2 years old at the time. . . My wife had the kids up in the wheel room atop the mill when we started the machine!

Josh was outside asking what kept it from turning and I looked around, followed the various linkage and said, "This brake handle", which I proceeded to disengage. . . There was insufficient wind to make it turn so Josh gave the sails a push. The initial friction overcome the sails took over and everything inside the mill started turning including the 8 foot wooden bull gear and the shafts it drove. . . Luckily the wind immediately settled down as I am sure we did not know how to safely stop the machine!

Blacksmiths, machinery, levers, switches, fuses. . or anything you take apart all dangerous mixes.
- guru - Sunday, 01/16/11 13:59:05 EST

Odd Ball Swage/Anvil:
I had someone submit this unusual swage block. They were told it was very old but everything about it says it is a recent casting.

If you have seen this before or know who made it I'd like to know.
Torpedo Swage
- guru - Sunday, 01/16/11 14:51:41 EST

Torpedo Swage, MarsCon, etc.: I thought I saw something like that at the science fiction convention this weekend, "Quadra-hulled Space Fighter" or some such. ;-)

I covered table and membership costs at MarsCon this year. I've done better, but at least we didn't get skunked. The iron torc I sent to the charity auction went for $35 (donation to the local animal rescue organization). Some beautiful artwork at the show, but our space was very, very small. Our table was the only free-standing table there, with only one other table (with steampunk jewelry) tucked-up under the hangings panels.

Next event is Balticon at the end of May; I have a few new ideas, and Terese and Lydia of the Oakley Forge Collective* will set-up and take care of the paperwork.

* The "Oakley Forge Collective" is our informal partnership arrangement. Lydia and Terese do jewelry, Drey and Devon do occasional woodwork, and I do the ironwork, medieval caskets &c. We try to match the theme of the various conventions (steampunk, hard SF, vampires, magic...) with appropriate items (non-functioning (but close…) "steam" pistols; flying saucers; turned anti-vampire stakes; wrought candlesticks...). Whoever is going handles the paperwork and gets to play "artist." Whatever sells, sells, and the money goes to the artist with no common funding or expenses. Since we would be going to these events anyway, just for the fun of it, it works very well; on a good year you can cover expenses AND pick up enough to cover your blacksmiths guild dues.

Balticon SF Convention
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 01/18/11 11:03:55 EST

Rich going to England: Rich, check out Bushfire Forge, located in the eastern suburbs of London. Tell Owen I (Alan Longmire) sent you. In addition to being a fantastically talented smith he knows a LOT of the museum folks.
Bushfire Forge
Alan-L - Tuesday, 01/18/11 12:24:19 EST

"Collective" Sounds like a good way to go IF you have friends that all agree on how business is done and are honest about sharing.

The "Torpedo Swage" or something very close was seen at a California Ironworks. So there is more than one. No details.
- guru - Tuesday, 01/18/11 13:37:30 EST

Might ask over at the (and yes it's the pretentious english spelling)

- Thomas P - Tuesday, 01/18/11 17:11:34 EST

Good Luck Jock.
- Tom H - Wednesday, 01/19/11 05:56:56 EST

SPAM: Hey folks, If you see something that looks like spam or that obviously IS. Please drop me a line. I often check these forums hourly but if I am working on a job I can go all day and miss something. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 01/19/11 09:35:57 EST

I saw some Hormel Chicken Spread at the market. I was all like "ew!".
- Nippulini - Wednesday, 01/19/11 16:02:06 EST

Spam: Boxed Spam Gift sets are particularly desirable gifts in Korea.

they sell a million a year.
- Ries - Thursday, 01/20/11 12:56:54 EST

One of Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods program was done in Hawaii. He said the Hawaii population simply loved Spam. He went to one restaurant which served nothing by variations of it.

Like liver & onions, something to be tried about once a year.
- Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 01/20/11 13:28:44 EST

Spam is supposed to go very well with Poi.

I had Poi latkes once, I keep hoping if I kill enough braincells the memory will dim...

Thomas P - Thursday, 01/20/11 13:58:11 EST

my website: posted below is a link to my website...I hope you all like it
- stewartthesmith - Thursday, 01/20/11 21:14:46 EST

question : question for the site I allowed to post a link to a real nice hay budden I am currently vending on ebay?
- stewartthesmith - Thursday, 01/20/11 21:18:01 EST

oops: I just read the rules, so I now understand that I can post the anvil I am selling on ebay, a real nice hay budden.....thanks
- stewartthesmith - Thursday, 01/20/11 21:25:08 EST

oops, still trying to figure stuff out
- stewartthesmith - Thursday, 01/20/11 21:26:19 EST

Please just post the item number. Everyone using ebay knows how to plug the number into the search box and go straight to it.
- guru - Friday, 01/21/11 08:23:35 EST

See my FAQ about web sites for craftsfolk.

The #1 thing to know about the web is that if you are going to have a long term presence on the web you should register your own URL and then keep it maintained (IE pay the registration fees so you do not lose it). A URL only cost $10/year and you can get hosting for $10/month or less (depending on your needs).

Using facebook, google sites and the plethora of other free hosting sites is a waste of your time if you are advertising yourself, services or anything else (or plan to in the future). The reason is that these services come and go and you do not own the rights to your site name OR the materials you post there (read the TOS carefully). You can spend years developing a following or links from various sources and then have it all disappear because of someone elses business failure, corporate merger or a completely arbitrary change. . .

Web sites for Craft Folk.
- guru - Friday, 01/21/11 09:03:02 EST

MOVIE REVIEW The King's Speach:
This is one of those sleepers that doesn't seem like it would be all that great. But it is a surprising piece of historical drama that is also a great character story. We liked it a lot.

Its the true story of King George VI at the beginning of WWII and how he handled his stuttering problem during the transition from Prince to King. A real life personal drama behind historical events.

- guru - Saturday, 01/22/11 17:40:50 EST

Anvilfire Calendar:

Sorry about the delays folks. The calendar now is ready to accept new postings. If you don't get 2011 dates in the form refresh the frame or clear your cache.
- guru - Saturday, 01/22/11 19:05:53 EST

I really enjoyed that movie too.
Mike BR - Saturday, 01/22/11 19:40:27 EST

Armor: Those of you that make and/or wear armor, check out today's "The Wizard of Id". It's kind of an eye opener!
- Loren T - Monday, 01/24/11 12:40:53 EST

That's funny. . Not if it's your or your client's head, but its funny. Dents are no nearly as much of an issue as suspension that bottoms out.
- guru - Monday, 01/24/11 20:12:25 EST

Head Protection: It took many years and then the death of Pete Snell [a racer] before anybody established standards for head protection.
- Dave Boyer - Monday, 01/24/11 20:25:54 EST

My Dad used to point out that most early plane crashes could be walked away from due to the crushability of the light weight air frames. This was not applied to automobiles for over 50 years. . .

In the 1960's automobile races were blood baths. Cars that barely touched each other that they didn't explode into flames. Very few drivers walked away from more than one crash. When they started requiring baffled fuel cells the devastating fires ended overnight. Today race cars going roughly twice as fast and crashes are REALLY spectacular but fatalities are very few. Race cars use a lot of techniques that are not practical in passenger cars but they prove that cars can always be safer.

Fasten those seat belts.

- guru - Monday, 01/24/11 21:55:19 EST

I would argue that the principal reason so many early Airplane crashs were not fatal was more a function of speed than "crushable" airframes. The early planes, the biplanes mostly cruised at about 70 to 90 mph and could be flown down to about 40mph. Landing, the most likely crash oppurtunity would have seen th airplane faced into any wind further dropping speed. Very feasable to have only had 20 to 30 mph at impact. I believe that I have seen figures that say something like the "The energy in a crash doubles for every 10 mph increase in impact"

The early wood airframes had a bad habit of splintering and driving wood splinters thru pilots. Fire was also the main hazard in a crash then and now.

Always struck me as ironic that people would never have thought to not wear seatbelts in airplanes but the same folks would never wear them in a car. the likely hood of a crash was hugely higher in a car, and the likely hood of surviving if wearing the belt also hugely higher in a car.
ptree - Tuesday, 01/25/11 07:26:08 EST

Seat Blets and Public Transportation:
The problem in commercial airliners is that your REALLY need more than just a belt for anything more than some rough air.

What is surprising to me is that buses including school buses in most states do not have seat belts. The last time I rode in a charter bus I was very uncomfortable not having a seat belt. The ride was also on mountain roads and the bus provided spectacular views straight down hundreds of feet. . .

The business with school buses is worse. We try to teach our children to wear seat belts all the time THEN put them in transportation that does not have seat belts. . . While bus crashes are relatively rare compared to automobile crashes there are always a significant number of injuries in bus crashes due to the lack of seat belts.
- guru - Tuesday, 01/25/11 09:19:55 EST

I understand that the belts in airliners are mostly to keep you constrained in rough air - in a crash you'll most likely be done for even if you had a 5-point harness. The pilots do and few of them survive. But rough air is a real likelihood and plenty of people have been badly injured by flopping around and whacking into stuff because they weren't wearing their seat belts.

It's taken me a long time but I now wear seat belts in cars all the time. I don't feel comfortable or secure without it any more. Used to be I only felt I needed one when I was racing, but I'm older and a tiny bit smarter now. I do wish that they would go to separate seat and shoulder belts, though. There's no way to really cinch down the seat belt now.

I know a number of school bus drivers and if they had their way all the children would be belted in with belts only the driver could release! Kids moving about while under way drives the operators nuts and poses a real hazard, too.

Personally, I'd rather be a skin diver for Roto-Rooter than drive a school bus.
- Rich - Tuesday, 01/25/11 09:55:50 EST

Having grown up spending lots of time in small aircraft, I can observe that is almost evry case ANY landing off runway is a diaster in any jet. Speeds too high, landing gear too heavily loaded. The ditching of the airliner in the Hudson was a true example of piloting skill.
In small aircraft, I have helped recover aircraft from cornfields and pastures that simply needed gas and were flown out, some were precautionary due to weather, once weather past flown out and so forth.
Most were in aircraft designed to fly on either grass or runways and had landing speeds of 60kts or less.
Even the faster twin engined 10 passenger aircraft were surviable most of the time when forced down off runway, just usually not flyable after.
Any landing you can walk away from is good, but when the aircraft is still usable even better:)
ptree - Tuesday, 01/25/11 12:05:42 EST

When I spent a month in Indonesia, I found out that when you rented a car you also got a driver for it.

My driver never understood why I wanted to ride in the front seat instead of the back seats of a tincan SUV type vehicle. I never insulted him by explaining that the front seats had seatbelts and the back seats didn't. Instead I told him I preferred the view out the front windows.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 01/25/11 12:42:37 EST

The first couple cars we rented in Costa Rica had seat belts but no air bags. They might not have had belts in the rear. Lack of air bags does not bother me as I always wear the seat belt but what DOES bother me the one point seat belts with inertial reels. The inertia reels fail in numerous situations. I'd much rather have both belts adjustable like they were on a couple sports cars I had.

There are airplane crashes and there are crashes. The high speed plowing into the ground or a mountain where you almost cannot identify aircraft parts much less passengers cannot be made survivable. But if the shell of the air craft is recognizable most of the passengers should survive.
- guru - Tuesday, 01/25/11 17:22:06 EST

Jock, when the shell is recognizable, often if there deaths it is from post crash smoke inhallation.
ptree - Tuesday, 01/25/11 19:39:21 EST

Plane crashes: Ptree, the formula You were looking for is: energy = mass X velocity squared, just like a hammer blow or anything else.

A guy I grew up with and His wife both survived on a DC-10 that had an engine fall off. The fuseloge broke in half at some point as it was hiting/sliding on the ground. He got a broken leg, but other than that they were just beat up a little.

The Bahamas Islands are littered with the ramains of light plane crashes. Survivability there depends in part on how long it takes for You to be taken some place that can offer medical care. Most happen shortly after take off or while trying to land. Cross wind runways are commonplace.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 01/25/11 20:12:31 EST

Don't catch Dave out very often, but it's actually 1/2 M*V^2. Not that the 1/2 makes any difference when you're just making relative comparisons.
Mike BR - Tuesday, 01/25/11 20:55:57 EST

Considering the airframe weight of an airplane it is astonishing that people survive crashes.
Example: Piper J-3 cub. 2 seat aircraft, wood wing structure and welded steel tube fueslage all covered with doped fabric.
Now the empty weight of a standard Cub is 757#. That includes the 170# engine, wheels and tire etc. The actual structure weight of the fueslage is probably in the 150-175#. Each wing can be carried by 2 men.
Now it it really goes stinko, you coul have an impact at 80-90 miles an hour in a dive. But most crash on landing, and with care 45MPH Airspeed is easy, and if you have 10 mph wind on the nose your impact velocity would be 35mph

Most airliners will NOT fly much below 100-120mph under any considerations. So run that fourmula
1/2*250,000* Say 200mph. then compare to my example cub.
I would rather be in the cub, thanks.
ptree - Wednesday, 01/26/11 09:20:32 EST

Energy Equasion: Yes, I screwed that up, but it is seldom that simple anyway, as most crashes take place over some distance, not into the probverbial immovable object.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 01/26/11 20:13:20 EST

Bloomery Smelting Opportunities: Howdy folks- I have posted a 2011 schedule of smelting classes and open smelts at my shop-see my website below. I'm also doing a class at Peter's Valley June 10-14 if you want to go whole-hog.

And congratulations to you Jock.
Lee Sauder - Thursday, 01/27/11 17:21:14 EST

That's true Dave. And I'm not sure the M has much to do with it either, at least if you're *in* the airplane.

If you're a bridge abutment, you'd rather be hit by a Mini Cooper than a H1 Hummer. But if you're a passenger, you're probably better off in the Hummer. And if you hit something less substantial than a bridge abutment, you're almost certainly better off in Hummer. Exactly because the crash will be spread out over a longer distance than it would in a Mini Cooper.

I bet hitting a 4" tree in a Piper Cub would be little better than hitting a granite cliff. A 747 might well shear it off and keep flying. I'd still rather pay to fix the Piper Cub, though. . .
Mike BR - Thursday, 01/27/11 20:55:21 EST

Mike BR, at the min speed for a 747, damage fatal to the airframe would most likely occur from a 4" tree.
The whole point is that in an airframe, the structure is designed to carry air loads, and solid loads tend to ruin everybody day.
The last important bit, at 30 to 40 mph, you may have the time and control to avoid the tree, and take it on a wing, shedding energy. Try that at 200mph in a 747. :)
ptree - Saturday, 01/29/11 07:14:51 EST

Torpedo swage: I agree 100% with your comments. I wonder if it is one that was made to do a particular job. The legs are so close to gether that it must have been a fairly tiny job whatever it was! Possibly it was a mistake in design which escaped being remelted and recast.
- philip in china - Sunday, 01/30/11 20:51:04 EST

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