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January 2012 Archive - Grant Sarver AKA Naked Anvil Passes

Saddened Profoundly: I found out that Grant Sarver passed away today, very sad to hear.
stewartthesmith - Monday, 01/01/12 20:32:58 EST

Grant Sarver AKA Naked Anvil Passes January 1, 2012:
I met Grant in January 1998 at Josh Greenwood's in Petersburg, VA. He was touring the country setting of folks in the bit sharpening business. We built the famous 10 Minute Forge at that brief meeting. Later that year we showed off Junkyard hammers at the Asheville ABANA conference. Since then there has been frequent back and forth. . .

Grant brought modern forging techniques to the small blacksmith shop and the best line of tongs anyone have made, ever. He has been a part of the texture of the international world of blacksmithing and on the Internet for 15 years. He will be missed by many.
- guru - Tuesday, 01/03/12 00:01:15 EST

grant : I am so saddened to hear of his passing. the blacksmithing world has lost a great resource and friend.
- Matthew Parkinson - Tuesday, 01/03/12 08:03:43 EST

Grant: I met Grant briefly when I demoed at the Northwest Conference in Corvallis, 2005. He had his sales table set up, and I purchased some spring swages and some tongs from him. He gave me a little discount.
Life is fragile. We'll miss him, his humor, and his ingenuity.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 01/03/12 12:13:14 EST

Mystery Tool Steel/Spark test help?: Okay, so I have my "mystery tool steel" chunk that I was to use as an anvil. It's dimensions are 36"x6"x3". It has been suggested that I do a "spark test" and/or cut off a small piece to do some different heat treatments to test. Well, I can scratch it with a file, and cut of a bit off while burning through an 8" cutting wheel. I'm assuming that it is currently in annealed state, but don't know if it's worth the hassle to treat it. Should I just stop messing with it, and use it? My link (if it works) is to my spark test..
Hello to Judson Yaggy, by the way.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FOitgQ1KMk
Merik - Saturday, 01/07/12 20:54:57 EST

Merik: I would dig a hole where You want to forge, and set that chunk up on end, so You are working on the 3x6 area. If it gets dinged up, just true it up with a grinder, at 36" long it can spare the length of an ocasional truing. Heat treating even just the end of an unknown material that size is a chore that may gain You little. At some future point You may have better uses for that material, and it will still be machinable.
- Dave Boyer - Saturday, 01/07/12 23:13:40 EST

Spark Testing:
Spark Testing is done under controlled conditions usually using a belt or bench grinder. A coarse wheel and low light are recommended. You should have samples of known steels to compare to.

Comparisons are important because different grinding wheels and speeds produce different results. You only need a few sparks several inches long to observe closely, not a spray of flaming iron.

From what can be seen in your video the steel is probably common structural steel (no "tool" about it). Follow Daves suggestion and set vertically and work on the small surface. See our anvil making pages.
DIY Anvil Making
- guru - Sunday, 01/08/12 13:58:23 EST

I'd recommend making a solid wood base for it to stand upright. Find a piece of say 2" x 2" x 2" metal and drill a 1/2" hole in it. Weld to block and you now have a pritchel hole. Use maybe 1/4" x 1" formed into a U with legs , weld it on and you have a hardy tool hole.
- Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 01/08/12 14:31:59 EST

Apropos of hardly anything: I kept high grading my anvils over the years, and my latest is a 300 pound Hay Budden. I have a place for five students in my school, and I now have for their use:
one Hay-Budden 223 #
One Hay-Budden 225 #
one Hay-Budden 300 #
one Trenton 250 #
one Trenton 250 #
I didn't make an extreme effort to get these anvils from the gitgo. The school is 42 years old, so I just took my time, bumping into used anvil deals whenever they occurred. The students have always had good anvils to use, but now they all have good, large anvils to use.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 01/08/12 17:05:49 EST

You're spoiling them Frank! See you Saturday, tGLWatCDR

Picked up an old mooring cleat at the local scrapyard, 30" long looks to be handy for armour making when cleaned up.
Thomas P - Monday, 01/09/12 15:24:38 EST

Thomas,: I have mentioned this before but when watching the orginal Wicker Man I was wondering why they had all those anvils on the edge of the wharf...
But, what would a mooring cleat that large be doing in your neighbourhood? You're almost as far from big water as I am!
JimG - Tuesday, 01/10/12 11:44:39 EST

Thomas is a scrap and anvil magnet. . .
- guru - Tuesday, 01/10/12 12:39:09 EST

It's a dirty job but someone has to do it!
Thomas P - Tuesday, 01/10/12 20:39:09 EST

There are literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of those cleats up and down the Deleware here in Philly. I've always looked at them with a steady eye, thinking how similar they appear to an anvil....
- Nippulini - Wednesday, 01/11/12 08:18:15 EST

I'm looking at it as a sheetmetal tool which are generally fairly soft compared to "real" anvils.
Thomas P - Wednesday, 01/11/12 13:19:41 EST

induction forges: I just viewed a video of Grant Sarver forging, using induction coils. Does anyone know where to purchase those machines? I GOTTA get one of them!
stewartthesmith - Wednesday, 01/11/12 18:29:24 EST

Induction Forge: Last I heard, Kayne and Son's was no longer carrying Grant's induction forges and he was selling them directly. The only other person I know in the US selling the (relatively) inexpensive induction forges from overseas is Paul Sperbeck in Minnesota, I believe. Paul was selling them at QuadStates this past September, at least.
Rich Waugh - Wednesday, 01/11/12 18:47:11 EST

I too saw the fellow demo'ing induction heaters at Quad State. Stewart, since you run production level quantities this should be the idea tool for you. Be aware that the heating time is so short, you will work your hammer and yourself many more minutes in the hour:)
ptree - Wednesday, 01/11/12 19:01:36 EST

I'd figure mooring cleats, at least the larger ones, would be cast iron. Been wrong before, of course . . .
Mike BR - Wednesday, 01/11/12 19:04:55 EST

Induction Heaters/Forges: We got ours from grant last year. we have the 15 K unit. I have heated up to 1 1/2"SQ in it and it works well down to about 1/4" (with the right coil) I have found it isn't a replacement for a gas forge but for a lot of things it works so much better and faster even than a coal forge.
one friend stop by and couldn't get how it worked, after five min. of explaining it he said ... so it is magic then ... yes Tom it's magic.
MP
falling hammer productions
- matthew parkinson - Thursday, 01/12/12 08:56:27 EST

Mooring Cleat: dark red sparks with bursts at the end---some sort of cast iron is my guess
Thomas P - Thursday, 01/12/12 12:35:17 EST

Mooring Cleat?: It may not actually be a mooring cleat. It is possible that it was a cleat intended for securing rigging on some large piece of mining equipment or some such. The cleat design is not exclusively for boats. Lanyard cleat for a really HUGE flagpole??? (grin)
- Rich Waugh - Saturday, 01/14/12 15:00:39 EST

Mooring Cleat:
I've seen small ones only about 10" long used for small boats and really huge ones about 3 feet and probably 1,000 pounds in weight.

Its interesting watching a couple men with huge 3" rope stop a coal barge with 100's of tons of coal in a lock. They tie off the rope and let it stretch, then loosen it before it breaks then tie it off again to slow the barge some more. After three or four of these they bring the barge to a full stop.
- guru - Monday, 01/16/12 00:56:22 EST

Hammertymephilly:Philadelphia Blacksmiths Guild: We had our second meeting of the Philadelphia Blacksmiths Guild on Sunday, at the Holcombe-Jimison Farmer's Museum in Lambertville, NJ. Despite the frigid weather, we had a good turnout. Among the attendees was The Great Nippulini, Dave Boyer, and a nice cadre of blacksmithing affectionados. For the beginners, I gave a hands-on demonstration, with audience participation, in forging square and round tapered points. After we did that, the in-house blacksmith at that musuem presented us with a project for the benefit of the museum. Someone had donated two humongous pairs of blacksmith tongs, each over seven feet long. To prevent theft of these tongs, Ben Suhaka, the resident blacksmith at that museum, asked me to teach him how to forge weld chain links into a chain to secure these tongs to vertical beams in the shop. So, without any hesitation, I taught him and everyone else at the meeting how to forge weld links into a long chain, out of 3/8 round mild steel. Everyone at the meeting was required to add two forge welded links to the chain. There is a tendency, among newbie blacksmiths, not to hit hard enough when forge welding. After watching me do it, everyone in the group participated in making this very nice chain for the museum. Finally, following my lead, the group participated in forging door latches for the farmhouse at the museum, constructed in 1710. A good time was had by all, and everyone learned something in the process. We meet monthly, at three different rotating sites, all museums in the philadelphia area. Newbies and interested parties are welcome to attend our meetings, and we mail everyone a newsletter. I would also like to thank this website owner for allowing us to promote our new guild!
stewartthesmith - Tuesday, 01/17/12 17:58:11 EST

Gone Avisitin': On Monday, I drove down to Virginia, to do a big trade with Pete Buchanan, a Virginia blacksmith. We met up at the half-way point between pennsylvania and Southern Virginia, near the Skyline Drive in Shenendoah National Park. We met at the shop owned by Eric Zieg, who is the in-house blacksmith at Mount Vernon Historical Site. What a wonderful shop he has. His generosity and good spirit is commensurate with the quality of his shop and the work he does. He had seven or eight other blacksmiths there, who were all as nice and friendly as Pete and our host ERic. In all of my life, I have seldom met an anti-social blacksmith. Most of the people I have met, fellow-practitioners of this craft, are wonderful-natured and friendly. The people attending this gathering were no exception to that rule. Nice meeting you guys!
stewartthesmith - Tuesday, 01/17/12 18:09:53 EST

draw knife plans: Looking for plans for making a draw knife.
Any help appreciated.
thomas guidry - Wednesday, 01/18/12 15:28:09 EST

draw knife plans: question what kind of knife google draw knife to review the mutable curves and stright blades used. what do want to used this knife for? debark trees, rounding or planing flat.
- tjstrobe - Wednesday, 01/18/12 20:24:01 EST

Draw Knife:
Thomas, TJ has a point. What kind of draw knife are you looking for? They vary from small chamfering blades to debarkers. Blade depth can be 3/4" to over 2".

The general "plan" for all is the same. Blade, radius to tang, tang. Many have a lightening groove, the back is rounded. The grind is like a lot of knives there are preferences and variations.

If you are going to make such a tool you should either have an idea of what you want in one OR own or have used one.
- guru - Thursday, 01/19/12 01:02:42 EST

drawknife plans: Form Charles McRaven's Country Blacksmithing published in 1981.. A drawknife is a tool with so many uses that you should have several sizes' A 12-inch cutting edge is handy, although I've made them as small as 4 inches and up to 18 inches. He goes on to describe making a drawkmife from junkyard steel.
tjstrobe - Thursday, 01/19/12 08:58:39 EST

goodtimes: stu... it was a great visit wasnt it!!!! goodtimes...we ended up making john a hotcut for his anvil after you left.... glad you had a safe trip home.... let me know when your ready for some more steel...
- peter buchanan - Thursday, 01/19/12 09:17:55 EST

drawknife plans:
Besides sizes there are also specialty blades with curves such as used by a cooper for making barrel staves
- guru - Thursday, 01/19/12 13:02:18 EST

folding drawknife handles: I have an old Palmer drawkinfe where the handles can be folded toward the blade when not in use. I've not taken them apart, but the joint is a sort of slip- lock with a wing nut for tightening.

In 1955, I visited Meyers Saddlery in El Paso, and there was an elderly man toward the back of the store making the bars for the saddles. He was working on the convex side of a bar with the bevel facing the wood. Smart. He could go in and come out of the wood easier than if the bevel were upward.
Frank Turley - Friday, 01/20/12 09:02:06 EST

Draw Knives and Wood Working Tools:
Using the knife upside down is a good idea for inside curves. Avoided needing a special tool.

I made a set of gouges years ago that some had bevels inside and some outside (the traditional way). The inside bevel gouge works great for general carving as does the smaller outside bevel tool. Sometimes not knowing better works. . .

I've made a number of draw knives. The first I made was from a RR-spike and was a very primitive forging (too thick and blunt). I put rough hand made walnut handles on it with copper pipe ferrules. Not a good tool but has been a nice wall hanger for 40 years. . . . as many "first" blacksmith projects should be.

The second two draw knives (curved scorps) I made from 1960's English sports car flat spring stock. Excellent steel for work working tools (not as good for springs). I know the steel was good because I made several wood carving gouges from the same steel and have used them for many years. One draw knife was for for a customer, the mate I put ball type handles on made of cherry root and gave it to a friend as a gift. He has used it a bit. I do not know about the customer who seemed happy at the time.

I've never used a draw knife enough to have preferences or specific ideas about them. I've used a spoke shave quite a bit but that is a different tool although similar. My good spoke shave was stolen decades ago and I had no need to replace it. I still use a hand plane (Craftsman Steel 16"). I use planes more for making curved surfaces than straight. But I have hung a few doors and trimmed a few that fit too tight. . . In the past few decades I've used the plane as a chamfering tool more than anything.

I watched a fellow at a Hammer-In using Japanese gouges to carve a sword sheath. The edges had a slight oval curve and the shanks tapered to produce a triangular look. He demonstrated how the slender tools would flex with finger tip gentle pressure and thus control the depth of the cut. Excellent tools, hand made by a craftsman with great skill.

And THERE is a point. Many tool patterns vary a great deal. Especially edge tools. The difference is often cultural or regional but also between makers. It takes time and experience to make good edge tools and more to develop a better than average tool. As I commented earlier you should be a user of the tool before you make one. Otherwise you don't have a clue when you are done if the tool is any good or not. Some of the best tool makers started out as users who wanted something better.
- guru - Friday, 01/20/12 13:20:44 EST

The other aspect in making tools for others is that what is *perfect* for you might be "terrible" for them.
Thomas P - Friday, 01/20/12 13:26:41 EST

Drawknife: I did a demo plan for the site across the street on how to forge and haft a drawknife. Don't know what Glen did with all those plans but they are no longer available. Maybe he is planning on putting them in a book.
quenchcrack - Friday, 01/20/12 13:32:27 EST

Drawknife Details: I've used a lot of draw knives and made a couple. The first one I made was a piece of junk only good for peeling bark - if that. Good enough steel, horrible design. The second one was much better and a friend of mine is still using it almost daily. I learned a couple of things about draw knife design from the experiences, and only have about a million more things to learn before I'm up to making a really great draw knife:

A draw knife must be rigid across the length of the blade and the handles need to be stiff enough to control the blade accurately. At the same time, a draw knife is lot of blade to sharpen, so you want the working edge to be thin enough to sharpen easily - you sharpen them a lot if you're doing good work. This is why many commercial draw knives are either hollow ground or have a pronounced fuller, I believe. Too wide a blade makes it difficult to accommodate curves, but too narrow a blade makes it more difficult to keep it tracking at the perfect angle. You really have to use a few of them to get the feel for what will be right for a given circumstance, and there is no one draw knife that will do all jobs.

I prefer the tapered handles over the ball handles for precision work, and the ball handles for heavy hogging. The tangs need to be aligned just right for the individual user, to prevent twisting of the blade in use or unnecessary wear and tear on the should joints. Its a personal thing that takes tweaking.
- Rich Waugh - Friday, 01/20/12 14:56:06 EST

Draw knife: I sure like my Grandfather's Disston factory made draw knife. Great handles well made and works a treat for the use I have which is hand making handles for tomahawks and hatchets etc.
ptree - Friday, 01/20/12 19:03:24 EST

drawknife: drawknives call for another tool: the shaving horse
tjstrobe - Sunday, 01/22/12 21:21:23 EST

Horses:
There are lots of different types of shaving or work holding horses. The Anglo American or European type has a foot operated lever clamp. The oriental types use various wedging arrangements.

The Chinese bench in the link below uses an iron loop or staple with a bar and wedge (a simple block that wedges under the sloping bar).

Japanese smiths use a similar device that is designed to be used sitting flat on the floor (no legs). It has a shorter staple and work is wedged flat onto the base (a flat board) using wood and steel wedges and spacers.

The advantage of the oriental designs is a wide range of work size and flexibility of design.

Chinese Horse
- guru - Sunday, 01/22/12 23:04:32 EST

Question probably for Frank Turley. In reading western novels they frequenty cite trade items with the Native American tribes. Included is hoop iron, which they would use to make arrow and spear points. How?
- Ken Scharabok - Monday, 01/23/12 10:11:14 EST

Hoop Iron:
This is barrel banding and quite thin. I suspect it could be bent and broken into triangles (about as low tech as you can get). A hammer and a cold chisel and you would be in business.

While the North American natives were stone age their Southern brethren were bronze or pre bronze metal workers (gold/silver). In North America iron working would have been learned very quickly by the natives once exposed to it by the Europeans even if they did not have the industry to produce iron. Stone hammers and anvils had been used successfully to work iron since the earliest times. Many Neolithic metal workers used a very minimal number of metal tools, hammers and chisels being the critical tools. Tongs have been wood. A good wood fire settling to charcoal with a natural draft gets hot enough for forging and if deep enough for welding.
- guru - Monday, 01/23/12 13:46:45 EST

I aware such tribes as the Navaho have a long history of fine metal working. However, I can't associate it with the Plains Indian tribes.
Ken Scharabok - Monday, 01/23/12 14:13:28 EST

Ahhhh, makes sense now. I was thinking of wagon wheel rims.
Ken Scharabok - Monday, 01/23/12 18:00:40 EST

Arrowheads: First, terminology. Iron tires are put on wheels, not 'rims' put on wheels.

For the Plains tribes, hoop iron would have been largely from buckets, and iron would have been more prevalent than brass, although brass was worked to some degree.

The Indians figured out the cold chisels fairly early. A rock could do as an anvil. The Plains Indians were doing German Silver work and lots of it in the last half of the 19th century into the 20th. It still goes on. They got some ideas from early German silver trade items. They made such things as pectorals, buttons, conchos, roach [headdress] spreaders, scarf slides, bracelets, arm bands, and bridles. They may have preceded the Navajo, who got started in real silver around 1880.
Frank Turley - Monday, 01/23/12 21:27:56 EST

I remember that Sequoia was a silversmith and a blacksmith too back in the early 1800's (a very distant relation but one to be proud of!)

Central states Indians knew of the use of Native Copper found in Michigan before European settlement and of course the Inuit did work meteoric iron to a very small degree.

As things tended to be shipped in barrels (both dry and wet cooperage!) by wagon and by riverboat (and later train!) hoop iron was a common item in the day
Thomas P - Tuesday, 01/24/12 12:49:34 EST

Welding: Bring the fire to your work, not your work to the fire. Build your fire up and have a good reservoir of coke behind it drying out. Have your work level or above the bed level to avoid the oxidizing, (burning) area of your hearth. You know how oxy-acetylene cutting works, don't do it in your forge. You don't need flux. The right amount of air, a well managed fire and a little bit of skill :-)
- Tony Ingarfield - Tuesday, 01/24/12 19:27:07 EST

You must be English, as it is normal practice here in the "colonies" to flux our welds. I guess we like it seeing how we have millions of acres of the stuff (Borax) in our backyard (California). But you are right, it can be done with a little bit of skill.
- Nippulini - Wednesday, 01/25/12 19:07:21 EST

Availability od Hoop Iron:
In the early days of European settlement it was rare enough that a lot of cooperage was done with wooden bands, especially dry casks for flour and such where the pressure was not so great.
- guru - Wednesday, 01/25/12 19:38:14 EST

question: who would most considered to be the most influential person in modern american blacksmithing im talking about the reemergence of it since the 60s or 70s. like who probably helped it the most and probably most well know and influential to the masses. i was thinking of doing a graphic design of them and there work and style. i thought about frank turley since he started first modern school and helps a lot with his information. i also thought about bob loveless and yes he was a knife maker but a very amazing one and influential also had highest selling modern knife and knife making is what started me in blacksmithing.
- brandin lemons - Thursday, 01/26/12 16:05:12 EST

Frank would be a good choice

Also: Frances Whitaker---he had an obit in the New York Times when he died in Colorado! "Francis Whitaker, Blacksmith, Dies at 92"

If you are going for knifemakers what about Bill Moran who's work is a bit more bladesmith oriented?
Thomas P - Thursday, 01/26/12 16:28:50 EST

InfluentialBlacksmith: Though not really a blacksmith himself, I'd have to nominate Alex Bealer as being most influential in the resurgence of blacksmithing. It was his writing that really brought it to the attention of the masses, so to speak. That's why the ABANA person-of-the-year award is named after him.

As far as working blacksmiths go, I'd suggest St. Francis (Whittaker) or Albert Paley.
Rich Waugh - Thursday, 01/26/12 17:23:56 EST

Influential: Before I served an apprenticeship in a tool manufacturing shop, what convinced me to apply for the job in the first place was Alexander Weygers book "the modern blacksmith", which still serves as an excellent reference, 35 years later for me. Back in the seventies, I always had the feeling that tool forgers were "looked down on" by ornamental guys and artists. In recent years, there has been a paradigm shift towards the type of work I do, which might be repetitive, but in the meantime, fairly exact. My vote for most influential, from my perspective, is Alexander Weygers. As far as knifemakers are concerned, I read an article in gun digest about William Moran of Frederick, Maryland, back in 1974. I was HOOKED. Every chance I got, after going home from work in the blacksmith shop for American Hoist and Derrick, I rushed to my forge to pattern weld damascus bowie knives and such, as a hobby. After reading that Gun Digest article, I was mesmerized for the rest of my life.
stewartthesmith - Thursday, 01/26/12 17:39:47 EST

Hammertymephilly: The Philadelphia Blacksmiths Guild: I want to personally thank the owner of this website for helping us to recruit for our new blacksmithing group. A couple of weeks ago, we had our second monthly meeting, at the Holcomb Jimison Farm Museum in Lambertville, New Jersey. Thanks to this forum, our group is expanding; we now have 26 members and growing. At our last meeting, largely comprised of neophytes, I taught everyone how to forge weld chain links, as a project for the museum. This was hands-on, and everyone participating got it right, required to forge weld two links in a long chain we made for the facillity. The museum was kind enough to allow us to meet for four months out of the year, and two other philadelphia-area museums also allow us to use their facillities. The Holcomb Jimison Farm Museum has a very well equipt blacksmith shop. and some very willing participants under our auspices, including several smiths recruited from this website. I will keep folks posted about future meetings, which are monthly. Again, Jock, thank you soooooooooo much!
stewartthesmith - Thursday, 01/26/12 17:47:11 EST

InfluentialBlacksmith Wow; I've agreed with every name mentioned so far!
Thomas P - Thursday, 01/26/12 19:38:08 EST

in some way I would go for Samuel Yellin, a bit earlier but his work (or the work that came out of his shop) still echos in all of the better iron work shops around today, his level of work and design is what we who do that kind of work are all ways hoping for in a job.
MP - Thursday, 01/26/12 21:13:51 EST

B.F. : I was at a loss in trying to find blacksmiths in the late 1960's. There was no organization. Information was by word of mouth and US. mail. Tom Bredlow popped into my shop one day, and he was a defnite influence. Tom has done some amazing gate work for the National Cathedral, among other things. I found a hardware catalog of Donald Streeter's work, and I studied it. Donald worked out of Franklinville, NJ, and later authored
- Frank Turley - Friday, 01/27/12 11:01:05 EST

B. F. "Before Frank" continued: "Professional Smithing". I saw some photos of work done by Francis Whitaker and Carl Jennings. Carl attended the California College of Arts and Crafts as a young man, but they didn't have an ironworking program. He did it on his own and breaking the mold, so to speak, he created quite contemporary designs for his time. I then found out about Philip Simmons of Charleston. I believe that William Moran revived pattern welding in the U.S., and he influenced the team of three at Southern Illinois University, among whom was Daryl Meier.

I see these men as rugged individuals, maintaing a craft when it was moribund. They must have been obstinate and even bull headed. There was no organization nor fellow smiths for feedback. I imagine there were few pats on the back, yet they persevered. I was happy to have met some of them, though briefly.
- Frank Turley - Friday, 01/27/12 11:19:21 EST

Let us not forget some second-tier folks such as Emmert Studebaker. He was a very important push behind ABANA (often hosting their annual meetings at his manufacturing site) and well as hosting the first dozen or so Quad-State Roundups there.

SOF&A today owes much of its continuing existance to what was started by Emmert, Larry Wood and Bob Zeller.
- Ken Scharabok - Friday, 01/27/12 17:30:44 EST

TIP of the DAY: Marking odd bits of steel.
Can't agree more strongly.
I have gathered all sorts of odds and ends, assuming that my memory would hold true.
Now lots of them have to fall under "junkyard steel" rules. Is O-1 or A-2 or S-7???
I have been using a paint pen for the last decade or so. Big letters on two faces.
- Tom H - Friday, 01/27/12 20:58:50 EST

Marking Materials: Yep, I used to be religious about it. . . But in recent years I've bought S7, 4140 and ???. . . While it was sitting on the bench with the paperwork it seemed safe. . . but then time passes and steel rusts. .

The problem gets worse. . I will be bringing home the materials from our family shop since my Dad past away a few years ago. We did not use too much odd stuff but I KNOW there is a lot of Viscount 44 (pre heat treated H13) among the mild steel. . and continuous cast cast iron, stainless and various types of aluminum alloys. Lots of this is
- - guru - Saturday, 01/28/12 01:04:47 EST

Lots of this is as valuable as gold in the small shop IF you know what you have. . .
- guru - Saturday, 01/28/12 13:14:28 EST

I recognize what I do is different than anyone else. That's why I do it. I have a lot of new metal come in the shop door. Very little escapes. Maybe, over a year or so, one 5-gallon bucket worth, and then mostly drill press shavings.

Metal bandsaw residue - I resell them.
Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 01/28/12 22:09:47 EST

Stock Identification: One of the tool & die shops I worked in had steel stamps for the grades of tool steel We used. Both ends of the bar were supposed to be stamped, cut a piece then re-stamp. That was how it was SUPPOSED to be. Often the bars were not stamped, and We relied on the manufacturers identification.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 01/29/12 01:10:59 EST

Steel ID: With over a hundred years of experience and learning the hard way VOGT had their own color coding system, and supervision was ruthless in it application. In the tool and die shops every bar, block slab and plate was color coded upon arrival. EACH bar was coded from end to end, IE yellow and red stripes were painted diagonally from one end to the other. In that way every cut left a hunk and a remnant that were identifiable.
The forge stock had a metal tag powder nailed to the bar end of a bar in each bundle, and since we only sheared bundle quantities in the forge that worked well for the smaller bars. Once we got into the bigger stock say 8" round corner square the tag went on every bar. The tags had heat code and traceability info as well.
Machining stock for the machine shop was also painted, with a strip down the length of every bar, as the machine shop codes were all single color, IE Green for 416SS Red for 316SS and purple for Monel. Worked well for these materials. Tube in the boiler shop would occasionally sit outside long enough for the tags to get rashed off. And that is the reason my blacksmith shop has rafters made from 4" x 0.085 drawn over mandrel Cr-Moly tube:)
ptree - Sunday, 01/29/12 08:56:12 EST

Other Materials:
The same problem exits with many other materials.

Plastics are full too. . .

Wood can be difficult to ID as well. In Costa Rica there are so many species of tree that there is only one or two experts that can identify them all. There are a hundred or so in the rosewood family including Coco Bolo.

In the U.S. the difference between Rock Maple and common maple is where it grows. There is a lot of difference in hardness and strength.

Aluminium manufacturers print the alloy and temper repeatedly along the bar or plate in most cases but not all. Sheet material can be a guessing game.

While metal markers have been mentioned they are a problem on finished steel that may be used as-is. These markers have an etching compound in them that even after the paint is cleaned off you can still read the markings. It is strong enough to mark through grease and paint. Junk Yards love them.

Those nifty hand held plasma/laser (spectrometer?) are great but can you afford the $30,000 for an "inexpensive" one? Imagine accidentally dropping one of those?
- guru - Sunday, 01/29/12 19:03:44 EST

Filled Flux Tip: I wonder if using cast iron chips (from a brake lathe, for example) may be an advantage due to the lower melting point?
Mike BR - Monday, 01/30/12 21:03:30 EST

Mike, Being on the surface in the flux it does melt faster but it also acts as an oxygen getter. Much of it fly off as the weld is made.

Back in the early 1900's steel turning chips were used. I know this because many chips in the flux used by Little Giant stuck to areas around the joints.

- guru - Tuesday, 01/31/12 00:21:02 EST

Cast iron in flux: Mike,

Smiths have been adding various tings, including cast iron filings, to their forge welding flux since Hector was a pup. In my experience, welding flux with additions isn't noticeably better than a mix of borax and boric acid. Note that I do almost all my welding in a gas forge and things may work differently in a solid fuel forge - my limited experience with solid fuel indicates that flux isn't all that necessary with a proper fire.

The main reason I don't much care for the iron filings is that when I flux I generally just sprinkle a bit on the joint and don't get too fancy about it. Any excess that gets on the steel outside the weld sometimes has left bits of the iron filings fused to the surface,something I just have to clean off afterwards.

When it comes to welding fluxes you'll get just about 50% more different opinions than the number of smiths you ask. (grin)
Rich - Tuesday, 01/31/12 01:13:51 EST

The only advantage I have seen to iron powder in flux is that it makes GREAT photographs when all that iron sprays out of the weld in a shower of sparks. But some folks swear by it.

On the other hand. . . In solder I have some rosin flux I bought at Sears decades ago that has tin powder in it. When you see the tin flash on the surface of the joint you add a touch of solder and get a perfect joint with little skill.

This is similar to Spelter brazing where coarsely powdered brass, bronze or copper is sprinkled on a fluxed surface then melts and flows into a tight joint. This can be done without flux but is much easier with it. This is the technique used to make the early built up vise boxes and internal thread, large rim locks, pad locks and other things that normal welding would not work on.

I'm sure there are examples in other metalworking fields of using various powdered metal in joining.
- guru - Tuesday, 01/31/12 10:11:15 EST

Powdered metals: Way back when, when I was doing silversmithing, I did a batch of exercises on texturing of surfaces using powdered metals fused in place. Various alloys, sizes, shapes, etc. Similar to granulation but somewhat less controlled. I've tried one or two pieces of steel this way too, with mixed results.

These days, a lot of stuff is made from powdered metals technologies. I'm sure we'll see even more of it as time passes and methods expand.
Rich Waugh - Tuesday, 01/31/12 10:51:57 EST

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