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April 2009 Archive

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

Etching steel: I'm making a 16/14 gauge mild steel miniature 4 inch tall shield and a toolsteel miniature 5.5 inch bastard sword for my younger brother, and I'd like to etch runes into the metal at about 1/8th inch per rune. The runes need to get a nice deep etch so I can fill in the missing material with glow in the dark nailpolish so it glows under blacklight because he's all about D&D right now. for the shield i can cut out the runes with a jewelers saw and rivet a thinner plate on the back or maybe even leather backing but I'd love to actually etch it. I've done some research and muriatic acid and ferric chloride keep popping up but no one seems to specify on how deep it actually etches. I assume the etch gets deeper the longer it stays on the metal but won't it also lose the detail of the design?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Geert - Wednesday, 04/01/09 03:34:34 EST

Etching: Geert, Deep etching usually gets pretty rough. There is a photo-etch process where light is used to cut the mask. This is great for details. Do a google search there are even some YouTube videos of the process.

Etch speed is increased by the percentage of the etching solution AND by temperature. Hot etchant works faster then cold.

I would probably use a dental drill in a Dremel type tool to make the runes. . .

The tricky part of making fine lettering by etching is removing the resist by hand. You are probably going to need to work under a magnifier. Note that if you dig around you will find the photo resist (not just pre-treated plates) so you can do it from scratch. This is one of those projects where bigger might be easier. .

Hmmm. So trolls glowed UV and that is what made "magic" Elfen swords glow?
- guru - Wednesday, 04/01/09 09:03:58 EST

maybe blades glowed like a fluorescent tube held close to a Tesla coil?
Dave Leppo - Wednesday, 04/01/09 09:36:11 EST

horseshoe sandwich: First project. I attended a farrier's school in Oregon in the early 60's, and our instructor, Charles Dickinson, had us fagot weld two horseshoes together. This was something he learned long ago at the Ft. Riley, Kansas, army horseshoeing course. We straightened two used shoes and bent one in the middle into a flat U-hairpin, leaving enough space to insert the other shoe. This was temporarily hammered together at the bend, so we got three layers and were holding the protruding piece. We forge welded from the closed bent portion toward the "open end" until we had the sandwich all welded. Meanwhile, we were attempting to forge the thing into flat horseshoe stock of about 5/16" x 3/4". Then we turned the result into a horseshoe shape. We were not allowed to use flux. It took me 1½ day and the result was pretty bad. Humility.

"The smithy's the kitchen; the smith is the cook." This is in the intro to Francis Whitaker's Cookbook. It was called the cookbook because of this saying. I got the saying from Tom Bredlow and told it to Jim Fleming, who compiled the material for the book. Jim thought it was an original from me, but I give credit to Bredlow.

S-hooks. I think it's OK to have beginners make S-hooks, and they are usually of round stock. I just wanted to insert a note here, probably being too technical, but the colonial cooking S-hooks that I have seen were of flat stock. If they were fairly long, there might be round stock connecting the two flat stock ends. I surmise that flat material was used to help prevent undue twirling of the bail when it was placed on the hook.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 04/01/09 09:45:49 EST

'Alarming' Use Of Energy In Modern Manufacturing Methods: I would have thought that efficiencies would be a high priority in today's manufacturing processes. I would, as usual, be wrong.
Science Daily
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 04/01/09 10:32:45 EST

Whenb I teach new people the first lesson is an S hook out of 1/4" sq stock. Fairly fast and easy and lets me learn if they can follow directions, have any hammer skills at all and are safe holding hot iron around other people! If they "pass" then we can go on and work on more advanced projects.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/01/09 10:53:33 EST

B.S. I'll take you up on that offer; my private SST will boom in later today and my highly trained cadre of shop looters will have your place emptied in minutes. *If* I can get that pile of gold bars in my bunker moved so the equipment will fit in it's place.

Happy April Fools Day to you too!

Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/01/09 11:00:41 EST

Efficiency: From a energy and efficiency standpoint the smith is probably one of the most efficient manufacturers. Unlike modern chip making operations very little material is wasted and in production situations you have a hard time measuring it. Most forges are sized for the work and solid fuel forges are even better because the fire size can be adjusted tot he specific work.

However, this is labor intensive. Modern drop forging (where thee is a lot of waste flash) and chip making processes are often much less labor intensive.

So it is back to the BALANCE. When fuel is cheap labor is proportionately high. But when fuel is high labor becomes less of an issue. However, with more labor intensive methods wages drop. . .

There are other ways of measuring costs and efficiencies. Most consumer products cost nothing compared to the advertising, art and label on the package. Ban advertising on breakfast cereal and instead of $4 pound it would be half. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 04/01/09 12:02:34 EST

Personal Pet peeve.: My biggest pet peeve is imported light weight "faux wrougt Iron" do dads and trinkets. Not that some other person is eating my lunch by mass producing items in light weight materials, but that the execution is so bad that it debases the expectations of general public to such an extent that it is hard to get peoples attention.
I've seen a lot of good design so poorly done that it turns my stomach.
Charlotte Simonin - Wednesday, 04/01/09 12:15:18 EST

"Smithy": Longfellow and I were up late one night and decided to collaborate on a poem about the craft. you know what he came up with. Here's my version:

I’m standing at the forge minding my beeswax. Literally.
Rubbing that sweet honey varnish
on a new pair of hinges, still feeling like the fire .

And up to my booth they walk.
You know them, they come to every show,
the kid who keeps dragging his dad back to see the blacksmith
and asking awkward questions
and dad to prove he knows more than anyone about everything
asks a really cogent question, like,

“hey, smithy, how long does it take you to make one of those horse shoes?”.

And I pause, recognizing here a teachable moment.

Oh, not because there is not a horse shoe in sight.

No, this is a real educational opportunity of limitless potential. I have a choice here,
Between ,on the one hand, a brief edifying discourse on the terminology of the craft,
peppered with erudition from Chaucer and Longfellow and the Bible

Or, on the other hand:

Don’t call me “Smithy.”
Do I look like a building to you?
Do I come down to your place of work and call you
hey Laundry! Hey Bakery! Hey there, Garage! Yo, Office, man!

You see me standing out in the sun under some extinct tree?
How much work you think I would get done out there?
Look at these hands.
You think they got that way hangin out the park, digging the fresh air?
See these arms?
You think I got these contemplating the pastoral beauty of the village scene?
I move iron with these,
like a potter moves clay, like Clay moved Liston, like Moses moved the sea.
Iron bands are mud in these hands.

The building is the smithy.

I am the smith.

The black smith.

Black for iron, the black metal, the color of the center of the earth whence it comes,
Smith from the old English smite, to hit.
And that’s what these hands do,
they heat the black metal to the temperature of the center of the earth,
and hit it.

My hair is the color of coal because it IS coal.
I breath fire and smoke and coal dust
until it climbs up through my lungs and my heart and my veins
and grows out through my head like Medusa’s snakes.

My face is the color of hot iron because it is hot iron.
I look into a fire hot enough to burn steel like a man lost in the desert stares into the sun, and with the same result,
I sweat like Mia Hamm in a Gatorade ad,
it drips in my eyes and it don’t put the fire out,
it stings like hell.
And, speaking of hell, there’s two ways a blacksmith can get there, and
the second is not charging enough
so at the end of the day I don’t owe you jack, Jack.

Listen here, its the rush of the air in the bellows.
Feel this, it’s the heat of the coal from deep in the ground,
Look here, it’s the glow of hot iron, the commonest substance on Earth .
Feel this the hiss of the steam from slack tub, quenching the iron, cooling its temper.
Air, earth, fire and water are my alchemy.
The music of my spheres is the anvil’s ring, tolling for thee and me.

Your boy there, Dad, let him speak for himself,
let him ask the questions, if you dare.
Or do you hope he can’t say just what he’s feeling
Because he sure as hell better not let his father know,
can’t let dad know
that he couldn’t give half a dead rat about the technology
no he’s being seduced by the naked beauty,
the raw magic of pounding something useful and lasting and beautiful
out of fire and wind and muscle and the guts of the planet.
You’d lock up your children if you saw how they play.
You should see them looking in my back door.
Drawn to the rush and the roar of the bellows blast

Oh, yes.
The children listen, and stare and chase the sparks
swarming from the forge like a plague of fireflies, Like mating insects of a midsummer’s night
coming to the flame,
stepping, dancing in place to the beat of the hammer,
to the subwoofer thump of the heavy hammer.
Nothing like church bells. Oh,no.
Oh, yes.
Your children love playing with fire.

As do mine.
I never have to go to church
Church comes to me.
When I sit down to break bread, or broccoli, with them.
When I read a school essay
Or hear what some jerk cop did
Or hear what some genius teacher said,
Or see a mosh pit, a traffic ticket, a girlfriend survived
A scholarship given
Or hear my daughter
Singing at this microphone
With a voice that is not her mother’s
nor sure as hell her father’s
But her own,
In an idea a passion a disappointment a secret laid naked and sacred before me
I have all of heaven I ever expect.

To answer your question, Dad, I don’t shoe horses I just shoe flies,
but if you want to know how long it took me to make these hinges, I’ll tell you.
60 years.

When I was a little baby
Sittin on my daddy’s knee
I picked up a hammer and a little piece of steel
And it took about that long
Before I figured out which end of the hammer to hold and what to do with the other.
But today, today I got up in the morning
And a man needed hinges for his barn,
And a woman needed a pair of 300 year old boot scrapers repaired
Because some ignorant someone cut them off rather than work around them
And another man wanted a railing
So he could take that one painful step up to his back door
Just a little longer before he needs a ramp,

And I said yes, I can do those things.

And tonight a man knows his horses are safe
And a woman’s family treasure is restored,
And a man can walk in his own back door a few more times
And you, sir, for listening to my story
Will please take home something useful and lasting and beautiful,
Not made by slave labor in China,
And I will sleep like the dead,
Knowing that by god by hammer and hand all arts WILL stand

And by the way

the first way a smith can get to hell
is by hammering cold iron

So tomorrow morning
I will rise from the dead
I will stand at the forge again
And I will
Heat it up and hit it
Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 04/01/09 20:56:04 EST

Blower Abuse: On my travels back and forth to my Amish friends I keep seeing a 400 Champion blower on a stand sitting outside along with a bit smaller blower laying in the mud gear box side down. They are in front of a huge Amish Blacksmith shop. It is pissing me off to no end to see them outside in the weather like that. Should I stop and ask them to drag them inside or just throw them on my truck to save them from their abusive owners? Would this be wrong? I would probably be pretty blunt to those fellas about it. Would that be wrong? I feel like Blacksmith's know better of such practices. The lay people have one sitting out in the field I understand. Chances are the field blowers are not much good anymore. The ones mentioned are too nice for such treatment.
- Rustymetal - Wednesday, 04/01/09 21:21:28 EST

Peter Hirst: Wow!
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 04/01/09 22:16:46 EST

Rustymetal: It would be piss poor of You to swipe them. Perhaps You could have them for the asking, but maybe not. These might be shot already, certainly if they are at a blacksmith shop, the owners know what they are.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 04/01/09 22:34:33 EST

Yikes!!!: Yikes!!! Dave I would never swipe anything. I didn't intend my rant to read that way. I meant ask them to just throw them on my truck if they don't want them. I would get angry at you for your comment, but I really did poorly construct my sentence where it could be interpreted either way...isn't my face red now...LOL
- Rustymetal - Wednesday, 04/01/09 23:34:44 EST

Rusty: Tell the Amish that those blowers are a 1950 model, much more up to date than the rest of their equipment. They will probably pay you to take them away.
philip in china - Thursday, 04/02/09 01:08:43 EST

That's why they call all of us "the English"
Peter Hirst - Thursday, 04/02/09 01:57:48 EST

Peter Hirst's poem: Peter, would you mind if I print the poem to use in those special cases at demo's?
Wonderful writing.
Ptree - Thursday, 04/02/09 06:40:38 EST

Peter, can we use that poem in our SWABA news letter? Sure be a good one to have out before us right before we do the state fair in September..

Rusty; *ask* the worst they can tell you is no or too much $$ and in any case the interest may make them think and take better care of them. And remember to a professional smith they are tools not some sacred trust handed down from heaven and if a bewtter tool replaces them; well I have a bunch of old wrenches that rattle around in the bed of the truck or get re-forged into other things myself...

Thomas P - Thursday, 04/02/09 10:13:30 EST

Old Tools:
While the Amish do not accept new technology in many cases they also cannot abide inefficiency in business. The blowers have probably been replaced by nice efficient electric ones if they are a busy shop.

Amish smiths replaced hundreds of "old fashioned" anvils decades ago for new modern feature rich anvils with longer horns and larger more useful hardy holes. At one time dealers in Pennsylvania were swamped with these funny looking OLD anvils. . Theysold for $5 each at the time. Now collectors are tripping all over each other trying to obtain the last of these "Colonial" anvils. .

Times change. Who would have thought old anvils were a good investment? Only blacksmiths. Perhaps that is why our industry is still healthy while the "smart money" on wall street is being crucified for their way of making money. . .
- guru - Thursday, 04/02/09 11:19:19 EST

Blower Update: Hi Friends
Good news...I made the journey today to visit those Amish Blacksmith's. It turns out they are some really nice young fellas. They sold me a big Champion blower for $30.00 and even loaded it for me. I plan on stopping next time I go by to ask for a shop tour if they are not busy. I didn't have time today or they probably would have.
- Rustymetal - Thursday, 04/02/09 14:45:19 EST

Thomas P:

Please do. Again, include the copyright notice, and if you would a plug for And send me the newsletter, by all means.

Peter Hirst - Thursday, 04/02/09 19:10:13 EST

Old Tools: Guru, I notice in your post you refer to "larger and more useful hardy holes". Could you explain please. Why is bigger more useful?
philip in china - Thursday, 04/02/09 19:50:44 EST

Heart in my throat, mist in my eye...
Thanks Peter, that was fantastic!
I wouldn't ask to reprint it but, I will be saveing it to my personal file with proper ackowlagement.
- merl - Thursday, 04/02/09 22:09:30 EST

Thanks Merl. Fair use includes recitation at demos and shows, for a cut of resulting dales ;-)
Peter Hirst - Friday, 04/03/09 09:27:17 EST

Development of the Hardie Hole: Phillip, the original hardy holes were about 1/2" (13mm) square. Some of the small early hardy holes were also in the side of the face of the anvil and had to curve out to the side for debris to fall through. These were useless for most operations that call for drifts to be pushed through or heading anything longer than a tack.

While the small square hole worked for little nail cutoff hardies it is not sufficient for torque tools such as bending forks or "horns" as the Brits call them. It is also not suitable for the myriad tools that have developed to be used in what created as a single use socket. The larger hole is also a good place for punching over directly or with a bolster (which is also useful for heading).

Today the healthy 1" and larger hardy holes are used to support a plethora of tools and the number is constantly growing (see the new OnCenter at Blacksmiths Depot). Besides the list of standard shanked tools, hot and cold hardies, forks, cones and stake type tools, there are bottom swages, hold downs, guillotine and swageing tools or machines. That ugly little square hole has made the anvil the veritable "Shopsmith" or "Swiss Army Knife" of tools. But that could not happen when it was only 1/2".
- guru - Friday, 04/03/09 10:44:02 EST

Available: Anvil Logs : There's a Chestnut Oak tree down on my property. I thought about having lumber sawed, but I think that's more trouble than it's worth for one log. So...Firewood! Except, the base of the main trunk, about 18-20" diameter, I think, would make some good anvil (or other tooling) stumps. I'm going to cut some for myself, including one about 3 feet long for sinking and punching sheet metal directly on the wood end grain. I can cut to any length, and I will remove the bark, as it tends to harbor bugs.
This tree has been dead for at least 1-1/2 years, but till recently, has been snagged in another tree. The weather has solved that for me - the other tree has also snapped off! E-mail me if interested to buy or trade. York County, PA
Dave Leppo - Friday, 04/03/09 15:15:20 EST

Technically Produceable oil: Guru, I didn't see a response to your post about oil in the Bakken Shale. Note that the article did not say "economically recoverable" oil. Yes, we can get it out, will you pay $200 a barrel for it? In case you all did not notice, the price of gas is coming down too. We have a "gas bubble" and it is not going away. We are discovering so much gas on shore, the price threatens to fall to the point it cannot be produced economically. And if we take it out of the ground, we lack pipelines to move it to where it is needed. Gas produced in the Rockies is going for $2 per MCF at the wellhead. It is $7 in your home. And if we run out of gas on shore, there exists a deposit of methyl hydrate just off the continental shelf of most continents that could dwarf anything we have seen yet. So why develop alternative energy when the hydrocarbons are still cheap and plentiful? Because we may be killing the planet.
quenchcrack - Friday, 04/03/09 20:14:39 EST

"Because we may be killing the planet. " : Or maybe not. Today I read an article that says "The earth's temperature peaked in 1998. It's been falling ever since; it dropped dramatically in 2007 and got worse in 2008, when temperatures touched 1980 levels." The article goes on to say "CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or the other ... every scientist knows this, but it doesn't pay to say so." "As for CO2 levels, core samples show conclusively they follow the earth's temperature rise, not lead it." Are We being "had"?
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 04/03/09 21:54:40 EST

The Science. . .: Many many years before "global warming" became the new environmental mantra science showed that there was once a LOT more CO2 and the temperature of the Earth was uncomfortably hot. Plants loved it and thus we have coal. . good for us blacksmiths. The "greenhouse" effect has been proven and is real as well.

Does burning all the oil and coal make a difference? It must. But are there larger factors. Did you know that a significant warming factor of the Earth is from the core? Possibly a nuclear reaction going on at the heart of the iron nickel core where it is mostly lead and heavy metals like uranium.

But measuring the Earth's general temperature is a trick since we have not been doing it very long and spot temperature measurement is completely different than general temperature. I question the reliability of the measurements.

If the climate changing? Well, I've witnessed it here in the Eastern U.S. I've seen the complete disappearance of snowy winters in 4 decades. Those that lived in the region a generation earlier report colder winters as well. So for the entire 20th century the Eastern U.S. has been having milder and milder weather.

The thing about climate change is that it does not need to be global to be disastrous and it is absolutely possible to see it happen in your life time. Studies of Great Lake sediments showed periods of rapid change during the last Ice Age where complete glaciation came and went in 200 to 250 years.

Imagine ALL of Canada and half the Northern U.S. states becoming uninhabitable in 50 to 75 years? Where will the entire population of Canada go? When a glacier takes YOUR home and country what will YOU do? Talk about a need for a government plan for a bailout.

So in the next 50 years after XCanada what will happen to the most populous Northern third of the U.S? Mexico will become the NEW South and the realestate business will be hectic. But be warned, it is MUCH harder to move permanently to Mexico than the U.S. Better practice that Espaniol.

In the past century we have seen consistent massive drought in Africa along with persistent desertification. There are climate changes elsewhere.

Even if these are local changes the results can be famine, political upsets, wars. . . The world can still be its "average" but when rain falls on the seas instead of land or the jet stream changes and we have warm winters for a century then cold for another. . .? In the Southern U.S where there has been unprecedented population growth they don't build houses that can take the winters of a mere 50 years ago. What happens if the climate "corrects" itself to what it was a few generations ago?

I think we are a long way off from understanding climatic change so we can plan for it. We are also much farther from knowing how to change it.

Weaning ourselves from gasoline is a whole different discussion.
- guru - Saturday, 04/04/09 00:32:40 EST

Hardy Tools: I take your point Jock. As you know I have been smithing seriously here for about a year and a half starting from a zero base. Around one of the anvils today I counted 15 different hardy tools almost all of them made by me although I did buy a set of 5 stake tools and my first hardy.
philip in china - Saturday, 04/04/09 03:50:33 EST

Global warming?: Global warming?

The short answer is that: Yes, we are experiencing global warming on a catastrophic scale.

I spent most of my professional life analyzing atmospheric gases and ozone precursor calibration standards of the same.. In that time I witnessed the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide in my local atmosphere. I became aware of the changes in temperature and gases concentration only because we kept casual records used for making minor process adjustments. Mathematical statistical analysis of these records indicated that there was only a 35% chance that these changes were by chance. We were, in technical terms able to reject the null hypothesis. (My corporation and its management had no interest in getting involved in the issue since our business was closely tied to the Petroleum and Electric power industries. So the information was not published. “i.e. “Shut up and row”)

For those of you that suspect a lot of snow and “Gee this winter was colder than 5 years ago. Two things that you should know that most scientifically trained people understand and accept mathematical and physically true.

1). Extreme snow events, are like to be more common rather than less common because even minor rises in regional temperatures increase the evaporation and sublimation Thus more snow falls when it snows.

2). Our planet's weather system exhibits all of the characteristics necessary not be mathematically modeled as a Chaotic this means that:
a.) We will experience wide and wild swings from year to year in temperature and precipitation. These swigs may exhibit seemingly repetitive patterns for periods of time
b.) The swings will become wider and more erratic as the Chaotic system switches from one oscillation mode to another.

Some of the “facts” and opinions cited by others on this matter in this forum are regarded by the majority of the scientific community as misguided and misinformed.

I recommend that we all read Scientific American's special issue Earth 3.0 On news stands now through June 16.

Thanks for you kind attention.
Charlotte Simonin - Saturday, 04/04/09 17:15:46 EST

correction: Our planet’s weather system exhibits all of the characteristics necessary to* be mathematically modeled as chaotic,
Charlotte Simonin - Saturday, 04/04/09 17:20:45 EST

Warming. . .: What people do not realize is that a "warmer" world does not mean warmer weather in YOUR neighbor hood. It means there is more total energy in the oceans and atmosphere and these drive the engines of weather. With more energy there will be bigger more violent storms, tornadoes in places that that never had them before, more flooding especially local spot flooding, AND you get long tern changes due to the forces that guide the jet stream. There will be colder localized cold conditions as well as warmer conditions in other places. THIS is the difficulty of measuring the Earth's average temperature.

Extremes become the rule rather than the exception. Decades of drought followed by decades of flooding, glacial retreat followed by glacial advance.

During the latter half of the Ice Age in North America the rapid advance and retreats of glaciation over the Great Lakes region occurred over and over for several millenia in 250 year cycles. All this occurred before the rise of global civilization with every square inch of the planet carefully divided politically into MINE and THEIRS. . . Imagine the strife losing significant portions of continents would bring.

I think global warming is real but that the current science is too weak and too easy for naysayers to refute. AND it is probably something we can do nothing about or too late.

One interesting thing about "environmental" discussions. They have little relevance in the long haul. If mankind destroys itself the Earth will clean itself up and start all over again. The results will be different, another intelligent dominate species may evolve, but probably not. However, life will go on for whatever life is left and it will thrive as life always has in our Garden of Eden. It will just not be "ours".

From the NEW South where any significant snows have bee replaced by damaging freezing rain and where winters have been unusually mild for over two decades.
- guru - Saturday, 04/04/09 20:06:55 EST

Dave Boyer and Philip in CHina:

Dave: You can find "an article" to support whatever you choose to believe.

Philip: Your sophistic rhetorical examples are just silly. Get with the science.

Let's hear more from the New SOuth. (DOes that mean I can finally throw away my Dixie cups?)
Peter Hirst - Sunday, 04/05/09 01:16:50 EST

Global warming: Being the questioning sort after working in R & D labs for much of my career, I would note that "SCIENCE" has a history here on earth that does not constitute a tiny bit of a blink in time. The "DATA" does not even begin to have revelance against the lenght of time. The cycles of rotational wobble, tilt wobble etc sem to be totally ignored. One good volcanic eruption spews more "anti-greenhouse" gasses than man does in a decade.
Computer models are based on the selected data, and mathmatically "Enhanced" to yeild pretty much as expected.
Is the climate changing? probably. Does the "Science" have true revelance? Does science have the true skinny? Toss a quarter and you have the same value in judgement since the data is not enough to support a hypothesis.
ptree - Sunday, 04/05/09 08:20:34 EDT

Micro Climate Change?: I read somewhere that General Sherman did less to destroy the old South than General Electric. (The point was that before air conditioning, no one would locate their corporate offices in the South, because they'd have to shut down for the summer).
Mike BR - Sunday, 04/05/09 08:51:51 EDT

CO2 ?: CO 2 is what gives beer,wine and soda pop its fizz. We are drinking more of these products than ever before. I wonder if this is adding to the global warming CO 2 emissions? Lets ban these products, NOW!!!!!!
- BBB - Sunday, 04/05/09 12:53:25 EDT

Industrial gases, CO2:
Carbon Dioxide is one of the many gases taken from the atmosphere by compression and liquification. Oxygen, nitrogen and argon are also produced in gas plants. Only hydrogen, helium and fuel gases must be obtained from others sources.

Helium is extracted from natural gas and is an important by product of that industry. Hydrogen is produced by various chemical reactions and electrolysis. Chlorine and its associated gases are produced by chemical reaction.

Except for helium all the rest are a part of the environment that are simply recycled and reused. Even the CO2 from fossil fuels was once part of the atmosphere. The problem here is that it WAS fairly permanently bound into the Earth until we dug it up and released it . . . to be recycled into your Diet Mountain Dew. From your exhaust pipe to your refrigerator door.
- guru - Sunday, 04/05/09 19:59:51 EDT

The new South:
In the 1980's the South went from winter peaking to summer. AC now takes more energy than heating. Our bills run the same summer and winter with winters being short and mild. . . so summer costs more.

Time to nail a few acres of photo cells to the roof. . . . when it takes less energy to make them than they produce. . .
- guru - Sunday, 04/05/09 20:44:38 EDT

Climate Change: It is true that one can find articles to support any side of any argument.

I can find an article by William Rusher that says 2,500 scientists agree that mankind is responsible for global warming, but 19,000 scientists believe that mankind is not responsible for global warming.

Those on the bandwagon make the most noise and get the most press coverage, even if they are not the majority.

Time will tell the whole story. Sea level may go up or down, but if We reduce greenhouse gasses and the sea level continues to rise there will be a lot of wet footed people in costal areas wondering why all the effort was spent reducing CO2 instead of figuring out what to do about the rising tide.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 04/05/09 22:51:41 EDT

Industrial CO2: I suspect that industrial CO2 is not condensed from air, as air is only 0.04% CO2 and CO2 is an inexpensive industrial gas. Argon is a much more expensive industrial gas which is condensed from air. Air contains 0.94% argon.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 04/05/09 23:03:42 EDT

Ban CO2? Well sure you can. But to do that you would also have to ban using fertilizer on food crops. The CO2 used for softdrinks comes from Nitrogen fixation done by reacting Methane and Air at high temperature to produce Ammonia (NH3)& CO2.
Incidentaly, some of the plants in Oklahoma also recover Helium, Argon, Neon & Xenon

Complex problem that, when you really examine it in detail, scares the pee out of a great many very smart people. What is really scary is that very smart people that didn't belive it 10 years ago belive it today.

If you want to limit your carbon foot print ---- Burn all wood Charcoal and plant trees
Charlotte Simonin - Sunday, 04/05/09 23:15:57 EDT

Global Warming: For a take on global warming, try the Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It - both by Bjorn Lomburg. (I hope I have the spelling of the author's name correct.) We loose more annually to cold than we would probably do to a warmer climate.

Don't forget too, we're talking about a computer model that is predicting global warming based on not a lot of hard data versus the time frames envisioned.

Lastly, CO2 is not gathered from the atmosphere - too diffuse a source. The industrial gas companies get it as a byproduct of industrial processes, and will bid for the "waste stream" CO2 from generating plants.

WRT hydrogen, a major source for the industrial gas companies is cracking natural gas - breaking the H2 away from the C in CH4, methane.
- Gavainh - Sunday, 04/05/09 23:17:32 EDT

Rising tide.: Dave,
I realize this is not a serious issue to you but for folks living in Lousiana, and Texas, and Mississippi, and Flordia, and Alabama, and where ever a coastal plain meets the sea: It is not a joke and gets a lot of serious attention.

There are a whole lot more than 2500 scientists involved in warming related research so I suspect perhaps you misread or were mislead by your source.
Charlotte Simonin - Sunday, 04/05/09 23:27:07 EDT

The plants that compress air to extract gas use all the gases that they compress. . . Some may not be an appreciable amount but it all goes out the door in tanks. . . Too much energy expended to waste.
- guru - Sunday, 04/05/09 23:40:40 EDT

A different take: I remember the same tree huggers saying that when Saddam left Kuwait and fired all the wells it would take (insert your own figure) years to cap them all, the smoke and CO2 released into the atmosphere would (insert your own scare story). It was all backed up by hard factual evidence. They were all wrong.

Recently one aspect of my life has actually become an urban myth except it is true. If you google my name you are actually taken to a site which tells you that it isn't true. Now I happen to know that it is true. The point is (and I say this most forcibly: Don't believe all you read or hear. Also just because something could happen doesn't mean it will happen. Remember straightening truck springs cold? We all knew that that was dangerous nonsense although it is actually according to physics possible.

I have very little knowledge about anything although I have some specialised knowledge and experience in a limited field. When I hear a journalist spouting on my specialist subject and hear all the mistakes they make it makes me realise how little they know or care. Also remember they are the "finance" expert this week, then next week the expert on childrens' clothes, then the wek after the gardening correspondent.

Just think about thos epopular chestnuts:

.357 magnum will shoot through the engine block of a car (still repeated. Somebody show me an engine block that has been taken out by one)

Teflon coated "cop killer" bullets. (They think the teflon is so the bullet slips into the target easier. Again show me how many cops have been killed by them in circumstances where a non teflon coated bullet wouldn't have killed).

Do you remember the millenium bug? The cyclomate scare funded by US sugar industry?

Sorry Jock but I do feel better for that.
philip in china - Sunday, 04/05/09 23:42:50 EDT

Global Warming: Gavainh,
Actually, we are not relying on a computer model to predict global warming.
We are measuring global warming and trying to figure out if what we are measuring means what we think it means or is it better or worse.

The measurements are real. What they mean is open to debate.

So far computer analysis is telling us that it could be really bad.

Other people are using different models and saying: well with the most optimistic assumptions it will only be a little bad.

Most of the workers in the field are saying "where ever we measure it looks like things are a lot warmer than we would expect based on 10,000 years or data."
"In fact, unless the trend reverses in the next ten years we will be in a whole lot of trouble."
"We think that it is base on CO2 increases. No other change in the plant shows as strong a correlation"

"What you do with the information mister politician is your business. Our business is measuring yours is deciding what to do about it."
Charlotte Simonin - Sunday, 04/05/09 23:55:39 EDT

The Scopes Trail: Movies I watched today that applied. . .

Remember the 1925 "Monkey" trial over evolution? It was setup as a test case and decided nothing. The teacher was convicted, fined $100 and it was later overturned on a technicality. 42 years later the law was still on the books. The Jerry Falwells of the world still argue the world is only 5,000 years old and millions still believe. Many still argue "its only a theory". In fact it IS science, over 100 years old and people still do not believe it.

Everyone on BOTH sides of that issue had an agenda. Science was evil and I'm not a monkey's uncle. . .

Another movie I watched was "Continental Divide". One of the characters was an "Eagle Watcher". As recently as 1980 they were still worried about the Bald Eagle and today it is no longer on the endangered species list. DDT had almost wiped out the great birds or prey including numerous eagles and hawks. Today they are back strong. I could watch them from my office in Petersburg VA in 1999. In the middle of urban sprawl. I remember the naysayers of the 1960's claiming DDT had nothing to do with it and modern agriculture would come to an end without it. Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring was more heresy like Origin of the Species. . .

Today we have the same kind of arguments. Political rhetoric from both sides and the science getting lost in between.

What I know as tangible uncontrovertible fact is that in the central Virgina area where I have lived most of my life the climate has changed dramatically. They cut ice on our mill pond for over 100 years but there has not been enough ice on the pond to walk on much less take a sled and mules out onto it for over 40 years. If we still relied on the ice house and an ice box we would be in trouble. At home we had snow on the ground almost ALL of January and some of December and February from 1955 to about 1975 and "old folks" said it was about the same for the 50 years prior to that. We now have one snow about every two years. We haven't needed chains or snow tires for 30 years while it had been a rule since the early 1900's.

I've watched the climate change in just the last half of my life. Is this temporary? We have certainly gotten used to the milder winters and are NOT ready for what they were in the 1960's.

There HAVE been recorded short term glitches in the climate. Most tend to follow a trend for hundreds of years. The period of the "Little Ice Age" (1400 - 1850) started during a period that was warmer than today (1100 - 1300).

So it would not be unusual if the Earth continued to warm for the next one or two hundred years. The problem today is that we live in a MUCH more populous world where the agriculture that feeds the world is a delicate balance. Couple a world economic downturn or political instability with widespread crop failures and nobody will be worrying about their "carbon footprint".

I think mankind can handle anything that nature dishes out but it would help if we cooperated among each other a lot more on a global basis.
- guru - Monday, 04/06/09 01:44:22 EDT

Many of the "Researchers’" who refuted climate change were paid of by the Oil companies. This link is just one source, I think I first read it in Newsweek.
- Dave Leppo - Monday, 04/06/09 10:23:23 EDT

Yes, besides undue scares and plain old myth there has been lots of good old fashioned fraud in the "sciences". Consider all the "medical research" done by the Tobacco Companies claiming no relationship to cancer and that nicotine was not addictive. . .

Among the old advertisements used for decoration in our local Cracker Barrel restaurant is a 1920's magazine ad promoting cigarettes to young women for weight loss. Even at that early date the tobacco companies knew the effects and what they were doing.

In an amazing turn about public places including resturants are becoming smoke free in Winston-Salem home big tobacco and namesake for several brands.
- guru - Monday, 04/06/09 10:47:12 EDT

Here's a Newsweek article.

- Dave Leppo - Monday, 04/06/09 10:58:28 EDT

Smoke free Salem?: You mean they don't burn witches there any more? Or are they smokeless ones they use?
philip in china - Monday, 04/06/09 11:08:41 EDT

The can't smoke witches there any more; the rolling papers are just too expensive these days!

Thomas P - Monday, 04/06/09 11:38:34 EDT

Winston-Salem is in North Carolina. The famous witch trials were in Salem, New Hampshire.
Mike BR - Monday, 04/06/09 18:46:16 EDT

Doun hera we has whacthes, ot'erwise nown as Mutha-in-Laws and Exes.

There's a Salem in almost every state of the Union.
- guru - Monday, 04/06/09 20:14:46 EDT

Forgive my ignorance.
- philip in china - Monday, 04/06/09 20:48:29 EDT

Salem, Massachusetts: That's where the most famous witch trials were held. I recommend "the Devil in Massachusetts for anybody interested. Down in Southern Maryland we had Moll Dyer, who was essentially harassed to death as a witch. I have a whole spiel on "witchcraft accusations as a social control" that I sometimes do at reenactments.

However, enough of this, on to my more blacksmithing relevant posting...
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 04/06/09 22:06:42 EDT

How Much to Charge for Fair Gig?: I received a call this evening from the head of the farm museum for a two day gig at the County Fair this fall for a blacksmithing demonstration on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 to 5:00. I figure I can put my Viking forge on display, set up the old coal farm forge, and run the Baby Balrog (Whisper Baby) gas forge for part of the work.

Normally, if we were doing a Viking demonstration at a school, we'd charge about $100; but since this is a longer, and possibly solo, gig I figured that I'd get some comps from you good folks. Knowing that I'll get little (if any) useful work done, I figure that this could still cover my dues and finance some tools and supplies, so I'm trying to strike that balance between greed, ambition, and education of the public.

So, what's my base price? If I decide on an assistant, what would be fair for him (or her)?

Experience and opinion are always welcome
St. Mary's County Fair
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 04/06/09 22:22:02 EDT

Well, it's almost in New Hampshire . . . is my face red!
Mike BR - Monday, 04/06/09 22:40:48 EDT

Demo Fee: Hi Bruce

I have done many two day demos at a historical museum. Weather it is solo or with half a dozen other Blacksmith demonstrators we have always done it for free. We have always supplied our own coal and steel as well. A fellow Blacksmith friend has always done the same thing for a week long county fair.

Usually the little monies those museums take in is desperatly needed for building repairs and other operating costs. We always try to be giving of our time and materials. We often made things and gave them to children or people who really were excited about the demos.

I am not saying charging a fee is wrong. This is just how we did it. If you want to cover your cost I would keep it to the 100.00 as you mentioned.

I hope this helps.
- Rustymetal - Monday, 04/06/09 23:08:44 EDT

Bruce. County Fair: I didn't do well at the large county fair near Denver in 2007. My hours were about the same as your quoted hours, and I charged $500 per day plus transportation and R&B. I was outdoors in the hot sun, and had to ask for a tarp shade to be installed...which was finally furnished. I wrote my smithing school ad on my rusty forge hood with a good ol' Presto Correction Pen. I displayed some of my fire pokers, weinie forks, etc. on an large hardboard.

Hardly anybody knew what I was doing. I was whaling away, and for all that mattered, I could have been putting tar on the asphalt pathway. After sweating for an hour one morning, one person asked me when my ACT was going to begin. Some people wondered why I was standing and turning that handle (blower).

I admit I did many things incorrectly. I have given boo coo out-of-state demos for blacksmiths and farriers since 1973, but this was for walk-by folks who had no idea what hand forging was about. My setup was adequate: forge, anvil, and leg vise. To the public however, it looked like nothing with which they were familiar. Furthermore, the coal forge, anvil stand, and vise w/stand were rusty. To some, it must have looked like I was loading some junk in the pickup.

Our society has a "machine mentality" which Peter Ross talked about in his address at the Asheville ABANA conference. We are accustomed to purchasing things that are uniform in shape, chrome & nickel plated, and ready to haul away. Witness WallMart products, say, a toaster. I would even include Egg-land's Best as an example. The eggs are all the same color with the same little logo stamped in the same area of the egg. It makes you wonder whether there were any hens around for their production.

I should have known better. Were I to do this again, I would spend at least two months making a decent inventory of what I might sell. I would have a sale table with some of the material under clear plexiglass. I would include a large, vertical dispaly board. I would clean up the rusty equipment, maybe even spraying with silvery paint. I would have large signs saying who I was, and that I was demonstrating blacksmithing. I would price tag all my sale items. I would ask for a larger honorarium. I would not try to peddle fireplace sets in the blazing sun.

If I sound a little bitter, it's because I'm an alumnus of Michigan State and they're getting whupped on in basketball by North Carolina as I write this.
- Frank Turley - Monday, 04/06/09 23:35:32 EDT

Gavainh: CO2 from atmospheric separation of gases. The technology may have changed, but at least trough the late 1980's a state of the art air separation plant did not pull out the CO2 - it was discarded. Separating air into it's components was a high energy activity with lots of compressors, heat exchangers, and yes pollution control. The discharge air was cleaner than when we took it in.
Depending on needs, actual production could be swung so you'd end up with varying levels of LIN, LOX, or LAR that did not reflect actual atmospheric composition.
- Gavainh - Tuesday, 04/07/09 00:22:44 EDT

County Fairs:
I've done demos at a variety of venues. Generally the all-crafts venues are OK but I never made a profit at one even when fees were waved. If you have a boat load of premade $15 items that teeni boppers love and time to sell them you MIGHT make a profit.

Non craft focus venues are ONLY OK if you are one of less than a dozen venders. If the focus is food and fun then you might as well be invisible.

If the event advertises "come see the blacksmith" to attract visitors and they pay you a fee then you owe them an all day non-stop demo. I used to do this all the time for very little money. SO, ask yourself these questions:

How much is my time worth as a paid demonstrator?

How much time will it cost me to load, unload, prep stock, reload, and unload at home? (two half days equal a day. . .)

Am I willing to slave away in the hot sun all day without a break for people that will mostly be paying attention to the hot dogs they are stuffing in their mouth?

Add it all up. . . Is it a charity event?

Even museum or historical site sponsored events should be suspect if the general theme of the event is food, music or other popular entertainment. You can end up spending your entire day to demo for a few minutes for a couple interested children and just add to the background noise for everyone else.

I gave up doing demos for money. The last demos I took part in were because I wanted to. I'll do demos now for students that are seriously interested in blacksmithing. I would do public school demos if I still had my shop trailer and a truck suitable to pull it with. But demonstrations at public events where people haven't gone out of their way to see a blacksmith are largely a waste of time. To demo at such places I'd have to be paid full shop rates plus expenses.

- guru - Tuesday, 04/07/09 02:04:26 EDT

Atli: Email your way.
vicopper - Tuesday, 04/07/09 02:52:20 EDT

Atli's demo: Atli, I do demo's for museums etal for free if they are close,with the expectation they feed me. I charge for history and craft festivals, with the goal to pay gas and food, mostly to keep them serious.
I do demos at the nursery/gallery that sells my work year round, anytime they ask, with the expectation I will be tired, sastified, and have sold enough to break even or maybe a small profit. They however promote my work hard, and sell both my ready made products as well as pushing my custom work hard. They feed me well, guard my equipment when I have to step away from the area like US Marines. They will allow my work to be purchased thru their till, using credit cards, and the owners actually lead the money folks to my area to discuss new custom work.
My deal is they get 25% of what custom work they sell, and the typical 50% for any consignment stock. I simply make it to them at a price that gets me my price and they mark up, and do sell well.
Works for me. But then I like interacting with the public, and recruit for the IBA, having a stack of brouchures for the IBA on my display tables. Profitable? No not directly that day, but I usually get a nice bespoke piece per demo, and that is what pays the freight
Ptree - Tuesday, 04/07/09 07:59:34 EDT

Demo's: Only demo's I ever participated in were as part of a group at regional craft events. Strickly free except for food, beer, and space.
My point here is the only things that really sold were items that could be carried in one hand a most small enough to put in a womam's purse.
My personal best sellers were letter openers and cheese knives made from files with just trace of the origin showing. They were other wise highly polished.
It always seemed that sales inversely related to the amount of time and effort you put into the item.
One demonstrator made various puzzles. Sold them by the dozen.
Charlotte Simonin - Tuesday, 04/07/09 11:48:22 EDT

Atli; I know you know all this but for some of the lurkers...

Never expect to be doing production work at a demo without someone else "working the crowd". At demos where we had a lot of smiths around we would often have a forge front and center to do crowd demos and a working forge in back to get stuff done on.

Never expect to do both demos and sales with one person. The sales person needs to watch the tables answer questions and encourage sales. You try to split your attention between the forge and sales and you *WILL* get hurt. Hot steel can be a cruel mistress when she feels she doesn't have your full attention!

Don't expect to sell high end items at a general demo; the under $20 stuff has a better chance to sell.

Have at least one "show piece" to let folks know what you can do---a good portfolio of pictures by the show piece is handy too.

Have lots of give away cards; 99% will just be money down the drain. The 1% may result in commissions or in leads to equipment.

If you can't stay "happy" with working the crowd all day make sure you have a backup so you can take a break. I sometimes have a tent inside the crowd controll area so that we can "get away from it all", put the feet up and read a bit and decompress when necessary.

Make sure any help you have doesn't spread common misconceptions about blacksmithing to the crowd.

Know the basic "stupid crowd statements" and try to have stock answers to them---I try for humourous ones

like "funny looking horseshoe your're making"----"you should see the horse!" and then go into the difference between the blacksmith and the farrier and how in the American fronteir they might be the same person but in "settled areas" they may differ. If they are of a certain age you can mention the *old* westerns where there was both a forge at the livery stables and a blacksmith shop in a town...etc

Have decent crowd control; especially for children who may not recognize the dangers and may not be supervised by their parents...

Story boards for common things you make can be a help.

Keep a sense of humour! At a historical campout last year I had my first incident of having hail bouncing off the top of my anvil while trying to work---it was coming in sideways under my tarp...

Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/07/09 12:02:41 EDT

Demos knowing your audience: Folks that was all some great info. I like that we all have different experiences in doing public demos. I learned allot of good things and bad things.

Like Tom mentions I found two folks do demos works better than one. Six or seven at once makes things very difficult. I have had many folks who asked many good questions, the typical misconceptions, some old timers that come along and are able to help add to the experience and the typical folks that just come by to give any demonstrator a hard time for kicks. I will say in the geographical region I am in most people know what a Blacksmith is and seek out the demo area to watch. Frank's experience would have been disturbing to me as well. The region has a large factor and it is important to research the deomgraphic to know your audience. When I use to do educational speaking I would do this. Frank reminded me in his post this is as important for Blacksmith demos.

The museum I demoed at for years had an actual traditional Blacksmith shop built. The play was a super mini Colonial Williamsburg style setup. I have done demos many places where I would set up outside. I learned early on to always have a tarp type tent. As the other folks mentioned the sun can be brutal.

As Tom mentions have some little one liners and being fun always draws the crown and hold their attention. When you burn something up talking you always make it funny and educational. I still have fond memories of things any of us who demoed burned up. We could demo the "what not to do's" The folks really loved that.

As many point out if you are going to sell you need a seperate person and all items under 20.00. Then take orders for big items. We really found it better not to sell things and just make it fun. We would forge quick things like hooks, bottle openers etc... Those that listen and answered a question right won the item. The child who really was googly eyed over the blacksmithing was given the item. The child who want a hook for hi mom or Dad got the item. The older ladies would go nuts over a trinket. We would give it to them. We would set things out for examples, but not stuff we were selling. There are no right or wrongs in this. Like a couple of folks above I did demos for years. I just made them free and fun. I didn't burn myself out trying to do too much. I also didn't charge, so no one could be mad at me for taking a breather. If it was slow at the end of the day and I disappeared at the end of the day for that last hour. I was off looking at other things myself. Like Guru points out if they pay you they think they own you.

I really hope any of this helps. I hope I didn't write a rant as I tend to sometimes.
- Rustymetal - Tuesday, 04/07/09 20:57:23 EDT

Cheap Leg Vice: I came across this while browsing CraigsList, Northern New Jersey; thought someone here might be interested.

Blacksmiths leg Vice
- Charlie Spademan - Tuesday, 04/07/09 22:24:42 EDT

County Fair Demonstration (What did he do with the demons?! ;-): Thank you all for your input, both here and off-board. It is certainly much appreciated.
Since the County Fair, and not the museum (just a little local thing in a metal building; some of the items that my father donated from Oakley are on display), is covering the cost, I will probably charge around $200 a day. Not as much as Frank Turley ("…you, Mr. Blackistone, are no Frank Turley!") but not so much as they "own" me. The person from the museum suggested that I not sell myself short, I’m just trying to figure out where "short" is. My primary duty, I suspect, will be to attract folks to the museum at that end of the fairway (between tractor pulls), and guide them in. You know, shill and barker work! I’m good at that! Also, they have a small blacksmith display just inside the doors, so folks can come and check out the tools and ask questions.

I may discuss "and expenses" since the little gas forge would run through about a half tank of propane in ten hours or so of working. Fuel for the truck is really not a big problem, since the fair grounds are about 15 minutes away.

Since my inventory is very low, with most of my time going to construction and finishing the new forge building this year, I do not plan to sell anything directly. Albums and business cards will be the main emphasis for future commissions. I might set up some of my medieval and colonial cooking kit and light rebated weaponry as display pieces to engender further interest and inspire folks as to what I can actually do. Some signage and explanatory posters also save a lot of "stupid" questions.* This has worked very well at our ship and camp displays; if you're tied up people like to have something to read and then can better frame their questions.

For the work, if I'm alone, I plan on doing nothing more sophisticated than tent stakes. These are nice for demonstrating drawing out, twisting, bending, flattening, scrolling; even beast heads if you want to get a little carried away. These are always of use in the medieval camps. Also, I have a commission from the "World War I Salvation Army Donut Dollies" camp from Military Through the Ages at Jamestown for next year, so I can demonstrate stamping their stakes (very plain, military style) with an "SA" so that nobody makes off with or misplaces their stakes this year.

I’ll check with some of my erstwhile assistants to see if they want to come by and "practice" during the gig. Outside of that, most of it would be similar to my Viking blacksmith demonstration, but with a smaller labor-pool needed and more efficient tools. (You never can really appreciate vises until you work in a context where they haven't been invented yet!)

So, as of now, that’s the plan. Reality may vary!

* As a matter of fact, I think I’ll do an 11" X 17" poster on Blacksmithing Demonstration FAQs. Anybody want to rip off a dozen here?

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 04/08/09 15:37:09 EDT

Bruce I got one: Bruce
How about this for #1?
If you are going to heckle the demonstrator you better know how to run my buisness and be proficient at the trade of Blacksmithing.
- Rustymetal - Thursday, 04/09/09 17:11:14 EDT

Dorky questions & comments; not FAQs: >Is that hot?
>Do you really do this for a living?
>My grandfather was a blacksmith, but he was a REAL blacksmith.
>Don't you shoe horses?
>What's that black stuff? [meaning coal]
>You're cheating!! [because you used a file]
>My grandfather invented the cold chisel.
>Ever been burnt?
>I'll bet you don't know the great secrets of tempering.
- Frank Turley - Friday, 04/10/09 15:34:03 EDT

I find the most common question to be, how hot does that fire get?
Followed by How long have you been doing this?
ptree - Friday, 04/10/09 16:49:49 EDT

There's macho guy that says, "I could do that." OR "Anyone could do that". Paw Paw suggested handing them the hammer and saying, "so, do it."

I had a woman come up to me while I was doing a demo with the portable trailer and I was vigorously pumping the bellows to build up the fire and she says, "Where are the tanks"

I say, "What tanks?"

She says, "The propane tanks for the fire, You can't get that hot a fire without gas."

Then she stomped away before I could say more.

At that point I knew there was definitely a number of people that could never be educated.
- guru - Friday, 04/10/09 17:06:17 EDT

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” It can also be what you see that just ain't there.
At a demo one time, a woman asked me what I do with all the horseshoes.
"What horseshoes?"
"All these horseshoes you're making."
Now, I looked around at all my lamps, fire tools, chandeliers, hooks, hinges, etc. and said, "Oh, all THESE horseshoes. I give em away. Take your pick. You can have any horseshoe you like."
Took her a good five minutes to realize she hadn't seen any horseshoes. ;-)
Peter Hirst - Saturday, 04/11/09 08:17:53 EDT

Another one: Peter, That was really good.

I forgot, "Whatcha' makin'?" I usually tell them, "A dollar and a quarter an hour."
- Frank Turley - Saturday, 04/11/09 11:53:05 EDT

"Whatcha' makin'?": "dirt and noise"
JimG - Saturday, 04/11/09 13:53:15 EDT

I'm always making scale. Guess I'd have to explain that one, though.
Mike BR - Saturday, 04/11/09 14:17:22 EDT

In addition to scale, I make a lot of scrap also. :)
Brian C - Saturday, 04/11/09 19:55:42 EDT

They would probably hear "a scale". And since few know the word as related to measurement, they would think you are making a weighing scale. . . maybe a bathroom scale?

Its another of those English words with lots of meanings. .

scale - hard plates found on the skin of fish and reptiles.
scale - a proportional measurement
scale - a tool for measuring length IE ruler.
scale - a weighing device
scale - the heavy black iron oxide that flakes of heated iron.

Its worse than forge. . .
- guru - Saturday, 04/11/09 20:12:30 EDT

Watcha Makin?:
One time I was making some little miniature horseshoes about 1/2" long and was holding one with a small pair of Vise-Grips when a couple and their two children came by and the younger boy of maybe 6 years age asked "What's he making?" and after a moment his older sister says, "He's making a pair of pliers."

I thought she was pretty sharp for an 8 year old.
- guru - Saturday, 04/11/09 20:23:12 EDT

If I'm just demonstrating at a fair. "Making a mess"
If I'm teaching, its "Making a difference. I hope".

Making Scale: another good one. In the only union shop I ever worked "making scale" meant the union minimum wage.
Peter Hirst - Sunday, 04/12/09 12:45:59 EDT

demos: Even as an amiture I am required to spend some time demonstrating at our annuale club show.
I see it as three days of free advertising and exposure to thousands of potential customers.
My biggest problem is I have not yet learnd how to work and talk at the same time. I like to talk to people especily if they show a little interest in what is going on in the shop but, I quickly loose track of what I am doing.
Even the master smith has this same problem or more so that he spends all of his time explaning things and then getting nothing done.
This year we are going to take turns with one smith doing the talking for awile and the rest working.
We are also going to try having a display bord with some of the standard things we make for sale at the window and have each bord read:"The Smith is making..." and see how that works.
Anyway, my answer to the "whatcha makin?" inquirey is usualy "if you'll gimme another minet we'll bothe find out"
Always said with a smile.
My pat answer to "isn't it hot in there?" is a quick explanation. I point out that when I stand up close to the fire to work the blower ect.. it's probably 120-140deg. but, as soon as I step away to the anvil or vise it is at least 20-30deg. cooler.
No matter how hot it is outside it's always cooler away from the fire.
It helps too that we have a nice shop with a high ceiling and big over hanging eves.
I was helping another local smith do a demo in the fall that is out in the open at a local art fair.
There we were glad to have the sun shining on us but the other venders complained about the smell of the charcaol so that limited what we could do.
Still he did pick up a commision and another gig from that demo so it worked out OK that time.
I was going to make one observation. If you work the same show that tends to bring the same people every year and they see the same smith making the same RR spike knives and other twisty bits, they will continue to NOT buy your wears because they already have as many of them as they need.
The public (and those comission possibilties) need to see something different.
- merl - Sunday, 04/12/09 13:14:20 EDT

If you are there to make sales and demonstrate you absolutely need a helper.

To have a narrator while you work is a different skill. The narrator needs to understand the work, be a fair public speaker and a bit of a showman. Its a skill few do well but it can come with practice.

At the Richmond KY ABANA conference the demonstrators from the Czech Republic worked for days with a meager audience. Even though they had ABANA site captains to be sure they had everything they needed what they NEEDED was a narrator/announcer to describe what they were doing. The result of the long demo with no explanation was a poorly attended demo.

I generally did my own speaking but I used a bellows and could talk while I pumped it. I could turn and face different directions as I worked and then when at the anvil I could pause to speak briefly between processes.

Its a skill and the major part of blacksmithing. The easy part is actually answering the questions. Few from the public are very technical and so the answers are not either. Remember that YOU are the expert in a field that very few in the public know anything about and most of what they know MAY be misconceptions.
- guru - Sunday, 04/12/09 15:28:33 EDT

"Blacksmiths' Air Conditioning---step away from the forge!"

I try to bring an unwelded billet and a welded up billet to show folks who want to go on and on about how great the japanese smiths are. Unfortunately our major demp site has asked us to not bring any blades---even though knives are being sold within a 100' of our set up.

Thomas P - Sunday, 04/12/09 15:32:35 EDT

Blockheaded Folks & Knives: "Unfortunately our major demo site has asked us to not bring any blades---even though knives are being sold within a 100' of our set up."

Thomas: You probably felt my eyes rolling clear out to New Mexico. Don't even get me started on the Renwick Crafts museum canceling an art knife exhibit after 9/11. Folks are just weird about knives, I guess; but when they needed a knife at church to open a package this morning during the childrens' sermon, there I was. :-)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 04/12/09 21:50:39 EDT

I was specifically invited to do a demo once then just before it they asked if I could do anything about the smell of the coal smoke. I used charcoal . . . the white ash floated up, out and settled all over the nearby art work including glass work with mirrors. If I'd had a gas forge someone would have complained about the noise.

Don't get me started on the whole panic about knives. . .
- guru - Sunday, 04/12/09 22:18:13 EDT

Goin' to the fair...: "Could you demo at our art fair?... Oh by the way, no coal or charcoal smoke please and try to keep the noise down would you...
What do you plan on making?...Oh I'm sorry but we can't have anything that is a knife or could be used in a threatening manor...
How much room do you need?...Oh, I'm afraid we only have an 8'table front avilable and that is towards the back by the knitwear and chainsaw carvings...
No, I'm sorry, we don't allow awnings in that area...
Yes, I'm afraid that is by the spectator exit driveway and will get rather dusty...
...I see, well I'm sorry you feel that way. I'm sure you'll be missing a wonderful oportunity to meet alot of nice people and generate sales and intrest in your craft...Would you know of anyone else who would be willing to come and join us?...Well, there would be the normal table charge but, we could probably waiv the parking fee if they got here befor opening time...You do?... Would you mind giving them a call for me?..."
- merl - Monday, 04/13/09 01:22:59 EDT

Demos. . . .:
ha ha ha ha hah.. .. You should have heard the DEAD silence on the other end of the phone when I told them the portable shop trailer needed a 25 x 25 foot (7.5 x 7.6 meter) area! PLUS truck access to get it there.

It would actually FIT in a 10 x 14 feet opened up but the demo area was about 15 feet at the fence and then you needed room for people to get around that.

After the initial GULP from the other end I pointed out it WAS a portable building with shop sized forge, bellows, vise, bench space and hand crank drill press plus hundreds of pounds of antique tools. . .

The only place I had trouble with was Wolftrap Park. They wanted to know about the fire hazard and how many fire extinguishers I carried and how much fire insurance. . . They called me every year and I politely told them I was already booked.

For most shows a blacksmith is a PRIME act and will waive fees and percentages of sales or even PAY to get you there.
- guru - Monday, 04/13/09 01:52:26 EDT

I'm glad you got a chuckle out of that one Guru.
I have to ask though, what the heck are you doing still up at this hour?
At least I have the excuse of a screaming sinus head ache...
- merl - Monday, 04/13/09 02:15:35 EDT

We have it pretty good at the Barnstable County Fair, Cape Cod, because we have Jim Ellis, 3d generation smith from Barnstable village. Permanent demo smithy with 2 huge railroad forges, 2 175lb PWs and heavy vises. Plenty of bench space, display and sales space, open on three sides, lit at night, overnight locked storage. Jim runs the week-long program and does an incredible job, provides coal and iron, gets 10 or more smiths doing multiple shifts. Location is a separate building around the corner from refreshments (we get vouchers) across from the lamb barn, smack in front of the (only) visitors entrance. They have to walk around us to get to everything else. VIP parking. And they pay us.
Peter Hirst - Monday, 04/13/09 09:26:39 EDT

SWABA does the NM State Fair and gets a lovely site for the large demo trailer, (two forges and all the fixings seperated by a sales area with a low wooden "fence" around the front to keep young'uns safe).

It's on their "street of yesteryear", tree shaded and on the way to the show barns and far away from the midway! We do pay a nominal fee and get to sell as much as we can. In return we do continuous demos during the Fair---one of our rules is that to have something for sale means you have to demo at least one day. It's pretty nice I always enjoy spending time there.

Thomas Powers
Thomas P - Monday, 04/13/09 12:04:16 EDT

Late night. . .: Just couldn't sleep. Had one of those nights with too many things buzzing around in my head. . when I went to sleep the dreams were not much better.
- guru - Monday, 04/13/09 13:42:42 EDT

I acquired some tongs and I'm wondering what they were/are for. the jaws are round like two dinner plates,5
- Willy Cunningham - Monday, 04/13/09 15:29:19 EDT

If the surfaces are patterned they are probably waffle irons. If flat, I do not know. . .
- guru - Monday, 04/13/09 16:18:42 EDT

Demos: The last time I was asked to do a general blacksmithing demo for the public, it was for a small arts & crafts fair. I asked "How much are we talking?" They said $50. I said "I usually ask for $100 plus sales." They said "Oh, no, you pay US $50 and we get 60% of sales." Click.
Alan-L - Monday, 04/13/09 17:25:42 EDT

Thomas, I hope that that tree is a spreading chestnut. Otherwise it is not authentic. (Bamboo is a poor substitute believe me).
philip in china - Monday, 04/13/09 21:08:48 EDT

Demos...: My knew weekend work scheduale keeps me from doing any weekend demos of corse but, with four days off every week I'm not complaining. Te only demo time I have planned for this year will be the clubs August show so I'm really working up my chops for it and plan to have several sets of finished flatware ready for sale while I make them for demo.
I also have to thank the Guru personaly for his Iforge demo on leaf making. I have a differant methode for veining/texturing but it started with his methode of forming the stem and "bud" befor flatening and spreading. I also add some 3D to it by laying the finished leaf across the step on the cutting table and give a few taps into the corner for some wrinkles and waves. I think I got that from the Guru too. I always tell people I got the idea, and, the how to from anvilfire. Thanks again Guru.
I did a couple leavs at the demo I did last fall and a couple of cat tails from 3/4" black pipe. I had more than a few people looking wich made me think I might be on to something. My problem for the club show is we don't alow electric power tools in the smithy and I need my pedistal grinder with the fine wire wheel on it to finish my peices. We have a line shaft running all the time but, I'm not sure I could set up something to run fast enough to a good job from it.
Ah, well...
- merl - Monday, 04/13/09 23:12:01 EDT

Line shaft to wire wheel:
No sweat. Most line shafts run 500 to 800 RPM. A wire brush works well at 1800 PRM and to get 3600 PRM (I don't like wire brushes running that fast) it would only take 4 to 7 to one. If your grinder is an old large on it may only turn 1200 PRM. While these are large step ups it can be done on line shafting with a big 18" V-belt or flat belt pulley and a 3" to 4" pulley on your buffing grinding spindle.

On small light belts the best clutching is to simply flip the belt off onto some support bars that keep it from riding on the shaft. To reengage you use a stick to start it onto the large rotating pulley and it will hop right on.
- guru - Tuesday, 04/14/09 10:26:49 EDT

line shaft and wire wheel: Yeah, as I was wrighting that I was wondering if I could find a 12 or 14" fine wire wheel as that would probably have the surface footage needed if I mounted it on our exsisting 12" line shaft pedistal grinder.
I think the biggest problem with that would be finding a wheel with a fine enough wire. When you get into the heavier wire you loose flexibility and the wheel likes to try and climb up your arm rather than follow the piece. I would never use a knotted brush on a pedistal grinder for this reason. (I'll bet PawPaw would agree...)
There was some talk about making another grinding station when we added on to the line shaft so I'll have to see what goes on with that.
We actualy have electricity in the shop but, it's hidden from public veiw and, there is no "back room" I could step into to give a piece a quick going over.
Now, I wonder if I could find an electric motor that looked old enough and still had some life in it, if we might get away with that... Didn't alot of the older motors run at lower RPM's? (800-1200) that would cause a problem with surface speed again.
- merl - Tuesday, 04/14/09 11:28:01 EDT

I have a slow speed wire wheel in my shop and have learned to love it. Not as fast but way safer and more enjoyable to use *and* a totally enclosed motor.

Generally at demo's "finishing" takes place over night---when you are dog tired and ready to make painful mistakes!

Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/14/09 11:29:37 EDT

anvil: hello i am 12 yrs. and starting to blacksmith and i have everything i need 4 now. (coal forge. tools and hand crank blower)and my anvil but it doesnt have the tool holes in it what can i do if i need one

plz help
eregon - Tuesday, 04/14/09 12:41:58 EDT


Since all blacksmiths anvils have had a hardy hole from the 1700's up and a pritichel hole since the mid 1800's you have either a very old antique, or a junk cast iron ASO (anvil shaped object), or possibly a sheet metal stake. In time you will want to upgrade.

There are alternatives to both type holes. One is a heavy steel plate with a hole in it mounted on a post. See link below.

Another is a swage block with holes. These are as heavy as an anvil and those with holes often have one a hardy will fit and others for other purposes. See

Many smiths clamp a hardy in their leg vise. A vise is often used more than an anvil in a blacksmith shop. It is used for holding work to saw, file, chisel, hammer, bend. It can support tools and is used for both hot and cold work.

To replace the pritchel (round hole) for punching you can use any heavy plate or block with holes in it. You can also use short lengths of pipe.
- guru - Tuesday, 04/14/09 16:05:05 EDT

Lack of Hardy Hole: Medieval illustrations often show bottom tools that now go in the hardy hole mounted directly in the stump next to the anvil, or on their own wooden stump.

Let's see if this link works...
Stump w/ Anvil and Hardy
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 04/14/09 21:14:24 EDT

low speed wire wheels: The reason I like a 1725 rpm(motor speed) is that I can get as much or more work done on it without pushing into it so hard to get it to cut.
Like the differance between trying to do some hand grinding with a disk mounted in a hand drill vs. using an actual right angle grinder.
Maybe that's not the best analogy but, I gess I prefer the higher surface footage and lower torque of a smaller wheel going at a higher rpm.
I'm not sure just how I'm going to get around this problem.
- merl - Tuesday, 04/14/09 22:17:19 EDT

Willy: Some of the tong with large round jaws were used for making Eucharist wafers; they were called wafer irons. I never saw one with jaws as big as dinner plates, though. Usually, they are the size of perhaps, a cup saucer.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/14/09 23:30:38 EDT

Good suggestion Frank.

Bruce, you had sent me that image years ago and I had not noticed that detail. I was going to list a stump mounted hardy and missed it. Hard wood should be used and an washer that spreads the load would help. This kind of thing is a forced fit into a tight hole and the tool needs a good shoulder.

Wire wheel speeds. . . well, a 6 or 8" wheel at 1800 RPM is fairly soft and on the slow side. It does good work without being too aggressive. Many folks run them at 3600 on small bench grinders. I find this much too fast and too aggressive. Wire flying off at this speed will embed in flesh. At the slower speed I've found them in my hair and cloths but never embed in ME.

The heavy 7" angle grinders I have run about 6,000 RPM and really EAT steel. I specifically bought the higher speed grinders because they cut faster. But you have to watch what kind of wheels you put on them. On the other hand, the Milwaukee Hole-Shooter drills I purchased are the lower speed (450 max I think) and are much better hand tools for steel than those that go faster.

My buffing setups run 3600 and 5400. The higher speed setup is for 4" wheels for getting into candle cups. The surface speed is about the same as the slower machine with 8" wheels on it.

Different speeds for different needs.
- guru - Tuesday, 04/14/09 23:56:20 EDT

I once worked with a professional swordmaker and he set up his buffer to be underpowered. Yes it took longer to use; but if there was a problem he could stall out the motor rather than having it yank a 30+ inch blade out of his hands to have it's fun with. I thought it made a lot of sense. I had friends who were professional armourers and they had a 5 hp massive industrial buffer set up that realley scared the snot out of me as I know that it could grab a piece of armour and the fellow holding it was SOL!

Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/15/09 11:35:41 EDT

saftey: Both with the public and at home safety always trumps production. I think there is only so much that can be done at a demo.
I am going to ask this at the Guru's den as well but, I'll ask here too.
I had an idea for a dinner fork pattern that would involve brazing some peices together and then polishing to end up with an inlay pattern effect.
Is there a food safe braze that I can use?
- merl - Wednesday, 04/15/09 12:53:12 EDT

Open Wheel Safety: I do not think there really is a safe open wheel (wire or buff). The accident that PPW had was with a little 1/3 or 1/4 HP motor setup and a wire wheel. It grabbed a hook that weighed a few ounces and whacked him in the head. The problem is the long length of a foot or less had the end of the hook traveling at maybe 3,000 to 4,000 feet per minute or 66 FPS. Considerably slower than a bullet (1/10 to 1/20th) but with significantly higher mass. It hit him very hard, cracked his scull, gave him a concussion. . and a very long recovery if at all.

I think the solution we came up with was that all wheels should have some type of guard bar or plate that prevented work from slinging off the wheel at the used.

I've had small pieces get ripped from my hands and ricochet all over the shop. I usually go into duck and cover mode but I doubt it would help if the work was flying toward me. You cannot guard these type wheels as much as a grinder (75%) so it is very poosible to have something like a knife ripped from your hands and driven into your feet. .

So I guess the point is, they should not be OPEN wheels but should be guarded as much as possible. Adjustable plates like the shatter guards on a grinder would be sufficient. 120 degrees between the two would give plenty of work space as well as protection.

I think its time I look at all my buffers.
- guru - Wednesday, 04/15/09 18:02:54 EDT

Food Safe Braze:
The Silver Braze is used extensively in the food industry.
It need to be cadnium free.
- Charlotte - Wednesday, 04/15/09 22:37:57 EDT

Open Wire Wheels: This one is a toss up in My opinion. If You bump into an open wire wheel You only loose a little skin, but it can throw Your work further/faster. Guarded wire wheels are less likely throw the work, but if You get Your hands or fingers sucked in between the guards and the wire brush You are going to loose a lot of skin.

Carefull orientation of the work while wire brushing & buffing to prevent the wheel snagging it goes a long way toward keeping the surprises to a minumum.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 04/15/09 22:53:48 EDT

WIre wheels, etc.: It is easy to set up your wheels on the arbors with a couple of extra washers so that they have some "slip" available in the event of a snag. I do this on my big 10" by 2" wire wheels on the 3hp motor and it has paid off a couple of times. Both wheels are usually wearing guards and rests, but not always. With the guards and rests in place, work can become lodged between the wheel and rest and be thrown if the wheel cannot slip to relieve pressure. The friction washers handle this with on ly a minimal amount of fiddling with adjustments and the necessity of a jamb nut, of course.
vicopper - Wednesday, 04/15/09 23:37:41 EDT

silver braze and wire wheels: Thankyou Charlotte but, as I mentioned in the Guru's Den I'm looking for the black and gold color combination. A silversmith freind of mine suggested either alloying some gold and silver to obtain the color or useing 14K gold wire for the braze filler.
I guess I would have to get some second and third opinions befor trying those methods. I'll likely have to alter the design so that the braze does not extend down to the business end.

I have to agree with Mr. Boyer on the wheels.
Carefull orientation of the work so the forces tend to throw the work down. Too much inward pressure will cause the wheel to climb over the top of the part or take it from your hand.
Again, wire that is too thick and stiff will not conform to the part and, I usualy find the wheel will shed faster.
I spent a short time as a mill wright in a company that made high end marine exhaust systems. The guys in the finishing shop made a VERY good living putting a mirror finish on every peice of 316 SST that came through the door. There was not an enclosed buffer in the whole shop because of need to approch the wheel from all sides to get the job done. Infeed pressure is not what does the work, it's the constant rechargeing of the buff that does it.
Light touch, high surface speed and, lots of fresh abrasive. Helps to have the machine bolted to the floor or wall too.
- merl - Thursday, 04/16/09 01:16:31 EDT

Buffers : and wire wheel machines need to be solidly anchored as you note, Merl. I'd say that 90% of the times I've seen a piece grabbed and flung was largely due to the machine not being not rigidly anchored. Just a little bit of wiggle and the angles and pressures change, resulting in a grab and throw situation.
vicopper - Thursday, 04/16/09 01:44:16 EDT

Solid mounts for brushes: I actually cast a concrete slab on top of my bench with threaded bar set in it to form the anchoring for my wheels. It also makes them run quieter.
- philip in china - Thursday, 04/16/09 04:28:17 EDT

buffers: it helps to have a piece of canvas or old carpet hung off the wall behind your buffer if space allows....hang it 3 ot 6 inches off the wall.... it will slow down pieces flung from your buffer...
- peter - Thursday, 04/16/09 07:18:56 EDT

Buffing/wire wheel "fixtures"; some things are just safer to buff/wire wheel when they are backed with a board or mounted on a dowell---keeps the buff/wheel from being able to curl in behind the piece.

My grandfather taught me that one.

Thomas P - Thursday, 04/16/09 11:17:36 EDT

Wire Wheels: After Paw Paw's accident I stopped putting wire wheels on my grinder. I have a 1/2" low rpm electric drill, with a side handle, that I use for all of my wire brush work. I clamp the piece firmly into a post vise and go at it there. The mass of the drill changes the entire equation; if something gets caught-up the drill bumps up (or down) and at a low rate of acceleration. The extra handle adds additional control; plus I’m wearing a pair of good leather gloves and my apron (and safety glasses, of course). It may take longer, but it sure is safer and relatively simple.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 04/16/09 14:41:00 EDT

BGOP Spring Fling this Weekend: I'm getting ready for the Blacksmiths' Guild of the Potomac's Spring Fling at the Ruritan Fairgrounds in Berryville, Virginia this weekend ( ) It's been at least two years since I've been to one. I've been a little busy, of late; what with having the wif's house built, building the forge, commissioning the new longship...

I don't have a lot to display or donate, so I plan on taking mostly pictures and notes. I'm also looking for a post vise and miscellaneous tools for the eldest daughter (presently the Master Carpenter at Signature Theater- ).

I plan to be there early Saturday morning (due to the wif's Friday Bingo night). So, are any of the Anvilfire crew or lurkers planning on attending?
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 04/16/09 16:16:45 EDT

Spring Fling: Bruce,

I'll probably hand you your name tag Saturday morning.
Mike BR - Thursday, 04/16/09 20:29:38 EDT

Mike and Bruce: Have a good one and give my best to the old gang. Is Brad Silverberg still around? Tom Coker? ANd whoever is in charge of membership, can you ask if they ever heard of me? I Applied to re-up recently, and can't seem to get a reply from the website contact info.

Peter Hirst - Friday, 04/17/09 17:41:16 EDT

250 lb Columbian: 200332160345 on eBay. Looks to be in excellent condition. In TX.
- Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 04/18/09 04:55:39 EDT

25 # Trip Hammer.: Due to my loss of function on my left arm I am unable to continue Blacksmithing. I wish to sell my 25 # Trip Hammer. It has never been used. It was completely refurbished and has a motor, mounting hardware for the motor and a belt.
I am asking $900.00 for the hammer, to be picked up at my facility.
915 Buchanan St., Wapello, Iowa 52653
319-523-8411 - 319-572-2065

NOTE: The above came to me with a bad e-mail address. Do not write me to respond to this. I was not given more information.
- guru - Saturday, 04/18/09 18:01:11 EDT

Whoops, It was from Barton French
- guru - Saturday, 04/18/09 18:44:32 EDT


Email your way.
Mike BR - Sunday, 04/19/09 20:44:23 EDT

controversial subjects : Can I raise legitimate metalurgical questions here, if those questions may have political ramifications?
Gordie - Monday, 04/20/09 21:44:35 EDT

Here and There: Back from the BGOP Spring Fling; presently in Talahassee! It was good to see so many old friends. Good food, good company and excellent demonstrations. Picked up a few ideas for Camp Fenby, and maybe a few folks, too. Also picked up a nice, complete and reasonably priced post vice for the eldest daughter, and a small cone mandrel to replace the one that I already gave her (and immediatly missed). Ah; what we do for love, eh?

Altogether a very nice weekend.

Warm and breezy near the banks of Munson Slough.

Southeast Archeology Center, Talahassee
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 04/20/09 22:07:02 EDT

Gordie, see post on guru's den. The only thing controversial is the logic.
- guru - Monday, 04/20/09 23:51:12 EDT

viking swords: hello, I'm looking for someone in the states that is known for making viking swords, axes etc.
- ken kristiansen - Tuesday, 04/21/09 07:14:21 EDT

Swords: Ken, we had quite a lot of stuff posted from the best swordsmith on the planet a couple of months ago. HE said so himself. Don't know if he did Viking swords but they couldn't be a problem to him I am sure. Don't recollect his name though.
philip in china - Tuesday, 04/21/09 07:23:14 EDT

viking swords: Ken, Mr Billy Merrit of English Indiana, the forgemaster of the IBA sattalite group "The Southern Indiana Meteor Mashers makes viking swords and axes. I have seen his work and it is very nice. He is currently doing swords with iron nickel meteor slices forge welded into the billit.
If you are interested, I can look up his contact info. I know that he is doing a demo this weekend on a replica viking boat, making a meteor billit sword.
ptree - Tuesday, 04/21/09 07:24:31 EDT

Viking Swords: Ken, do you want someone close to you, or just in-country so shipping won't be a problem?

The best I know are somewhat spatially diverse: New Brunswick, Canada, Vermont, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, and California, and Alaska all are home to at least one excellent swordsmith working in the Viking style.

You may want to go lurk at Don Fogg's bladesmiths forum to see some of their work, is the address.

Now then, are you looking for true pattern-welded reproductions that can cost as much as a decent used car, or just cheap sword-shaped objects? If the latter, don't go to a bladesmith.

Tell me what you want and I'll give you a list of folks to contact.

Alan-L - Tuesday, 04/21/09 09:49:30 EDT

Scott Langton did the copy of the Sutton Hoo sword that is in the British Museum with the Original.

James Hrisoulas did his thesis on swords from around that time period and make a living as a bladesmith.

Kim Thomas did one that I recall

How much higher than a couple of thousand dollers do you want to go? How authentic?

Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/21/09 10:35:22 EDT

John Christiansen: Has anybody seen or heard from John Christiansen recently? He hasn't posted here in a while.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 04/21/09 13:21:01 EDT

Norse swords: Alan- Since I'm located in Vermont when I saw your post the first two outstanding "Dark Ages" bladesmiths I thought of were Horace Squire and Jon Loose. Who were you thinking of? I'd hate to think that I'd not met someone in my own backyard.
Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 04/21/09 19:54:37 EDT

Its kind of amazing how little we know about the rest of the world.
Most american smiths dont even know about Beche hammers, which Nazels are based on.
When the Indian gentleman asked about his Huta Zygmunt power hammers, I have to admit I had never heard of em- and yet, they made hundreds of huge hammers that are in use around the world, and are still in business, while Erie, and Chambersburg, and Nazel all fell by the wayside.
I suppose that during the cold war, Polish equipment went to countries that sympathised with the soviets- I wouldnt be surprised if there are huge Zygunt hammers all over eastern europe, and even in places like Africa and Cuba.
If you look on their website, under Gallery, you can see some big boys, still made today.

Besides the chinese, I wonder who else is still standing that makes large forging hammers. Maybe a german or french or italian company.
- Ries - Wednesday, 04/22/09 15:46:24 EDT

Norse swordsmiths: Judson, I was thinking of J. Loose in Vermont. He's one of the best I know of. I didn't know about Horace Squire, but then we're everywhere and tend to maintain a low profile!

Alan-L - Wednesday, 04/22/09 16:14:47 EDT

Ries, I think that there is one German company still making large hammers.
Pretty much if you want a Chambersburg, or Erie, in a drop hammer there are many on the market that have been rebuilt to as new. The market for large hammers is however small , and shrinking.
In Upsetters, National and Acme both made good ones, as well as verticle presses. You could I guess commision National to make an upsetter of useful size say 6' or 9", but they would have to have the frame and tool slides cast off shore as no one pours cast steel in that size in the US anymore.
The market for upsetters is also small. National can take frame halves from two machines and then make you a like new machine, we had them to build up a "Neww" 9" at the axle shop. economics dictate that when large machines like this are available at near scrap prices, it is far cheaper to put 1/3 the cost of new into a major rebuild.
ptree - Wednesday, 04/22/09 18:22:04 EDT

Tools Explained:
This came in today's mail. I DO NOT send forwards but I thought our group would enjoy this one. PLEASE DO NOT send forwards to me. . .

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers.

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.

SKILL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.

BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub out of which you want to remove a bearing.

TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity. Also the most efficient finger removal tool invented by man.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

BAND SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads. Related to the Reed Prince screw driver a tool no REAL man admits to owning.

STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer today is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit.

UTILITY KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles,
collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.
- guru - Thursday, 04/23/09 11:30:17 EDT

Whoever wrote that has obviously been watching me use my drill press and bandsaw...
Alan-L - Thursday, 04/23/09 15:12:06 EDT

Alan L- J. Loose is a great guy, he lives over the mountain (road closed in the winter) from me. Some day we are going to do a smelting project together. Horace is an original hippie/mountain man hermit that lives way up in the hills about 30 miles north of here. He's Jon's SCA friend and "Master" thou the student is now perhaps ahead of him. I'm not surprised that you haven't heard of him but he's a great bladesmith.
Judson Yaggy - Thursday, 04/23/09 18:54:30 EDT

ABC's of Hand Tools: For all who remember Primitive Pete & The ABC's of Hand Tools and those who have yet to experience it, here is a link.
Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/23/09 22:03:28 EDT

RE: John Christiensen: Talked to John a few weeks ago: he took a job with a fabricator in Falmouth: high end railings etc. Must be flat out, becaue he hasn't been around my shop since then. I'll let him know peop;le are asking
- PEter Hirst - Friday, 04/24/09 12:34:31 EDT

The german company manufacturing hydraulic drop forging hammers is called Lasco.
- John N - Saturday, 04/25/09 15:04:36 EDT

German Hammers.: John N, I could not place the name for the life of me, thanks for the name.
ptree - Saturday, 04/25/09 16:36:32 EDT

CanIRON VII: If any of you need information on CanIRON VII there is a bit on the registration form and a blacksmith camp form for a workshop following CanIRON VII. So far there is more work to be done on the website but an information packet is available if you send an email on the contact page. The Dates are August 7,8 & 9th of August location is the Ness Creek Festival site near Big River SK, in the beautiful Boreal Forest of North-Central Saskatchewan.
- Daryl - Saturday, 04/25/09 18:47:16 EDT

Help identify metal: I have made a set of dies for my powerhammer and I'm going to heat treat them soon, however I'm having trouble identifing the metal. The dies are made out of some pieces of a Forklift fork. Any clue what forks are made of would be helpful.
Josh - Saturday, 04/25/09 21:26:17 EDT

Josh, From its application, a medium to low carbon possibly alloy steel for toughness not hardness. Not a tool steel.

Before heat treating, test a piece.
- guru - Saturday, 04/25/09 23:21:14 EDT

The World at Large:
Once in a while you come across something you have never heard of before. Today I watched a documentary called "Kicking It" on Hulu. Its about the Homeless World Cup of football (soccer). It is a project that was organized and held in South Africa to help the homeless by giving them a sense of purpose and self worth.

There are many ways to make the world a better place and I found this one to be most interesting.

One of the things that was pointed out was that in Russia many homeless have the problem of not having "registration". This is like an ID and social security number for a given locality. Those without cannot get a legal job, rent an apartment or even BE without. Police can harass you, arrest you, tell you to leave. While this sounds Draconian it is no different HERE in the land of "freedom". It is very easy in the U.S. to become a non-person without a way to get an ID or simply have a social security number re-issued. My son went through this a few years ago. His wallet had been stolen with his drivers license and original SS card. He let the license that he did not have run out while living with friends where he did not have rent or utility receipts. . .

When he came to the point that he HAD to get a photo ID (you can't even ride a bus without one), we took him to the Social Security office to get a replacement card. We had his birth certificate, he was there, I was there (with my ID) AND he had an expired drivers' license with his photo which he still looked like. Nope, not enough. He did not have enough "proof of existence". Standing there, alive and well, with old but clearly HIS ID, a good birth certificate AND a parent was not enough. He needed some other "proof", a rent recipt, utility bill, school transcripts. After much arguing the girl at the counter asked to see his pile of paper work. After shuffling through it a while she came across a flimsy dot-matrix carbon copy receipt for a storage unit with his name on it (and no company address or phone number). THIS was acceptable "proof". A stupid slip of paper ANYONE could have forged! This got us a note that his SS card was being re-issued and in the mail.

With THAT we went to the DMV and got a photo ID and then we went to the Post Office and got a passport using the Photo ID, birth certificate and note from the social security office. . .

My son had been a flimsy faded dot matrix receipt away from becoming a non-person in the United States. He HAD a social security number and just needed the card re-issued, he HAD a physical drivers license but it had expired, he HAD voted in elections and gone to college. But while standing in front of another live person he had to PROVE his EXISTENCE! Its harder to open a checking account and many imployeers no longer write checks, its all direct deposit (like social security).

Imagine not being able to work, rent an apartment, drive or travel because there was no record YOU could provide of having done so in the recent past. All it takes is a fire, natural disaster, short term lack of job and living with family, friends OR being homeless for a short while. At a time when our society is becoming more intolerant of those without papers we have record setting unemployment and people losing their homes. . .
- guru - Sunday, 04/26/09 16:19:44 EDT

non-identity: Homeland Security - the people who bring you fear and loathing while providing absolutely nothing in the way of *real* security.
vicopper - Sunday, 04/26/09 21:14:10 EDT

Identity: I returned for a short spell in UK after leaving Kuwait. I needed a bank account so went to Nat West Bank where I used to work. Hello Philip it's been a long time etc. etc. but............ you've guessed it... I didn't have enough ID to open a bank account because I hadn't been in UK for so many years! YET illegal immigrants go to UK and get everything. I just don't understand it all.

BTW am I the only person who thinks "Homeland Security" sounds like some sort of savings and loans club run in a town in the mid west?
- philip in china - Sunday, 04/26/09 22:22:35 EDT

THEN there is the misuse of the "Patriot Act" (which needs repealing as bad law), for throwing nursing mothers and girls with short skirts off airplanes. Crying children are a normal part of humanity no matter how much those of us without don't like it. AND complaining about a girl's dress (or lack of it) on an airplane is saying WE want to put them in a Burka the same as the Arabs do. . . THINK about that one.

The Social Security law said that the number could not be used as a national identity number OR used to track criminals. . The reason was the Nazi's abuse of identity papers and tattooing serial numbers on political prisoners. This was the act of the people we had just fought a war against and the American people, many who had just lost sons and daughters in that war said, "NO!"

Today we won't let a baby out of a hospital without a social security number or go to our schools. We are just ONE step down the slippery slope to tattooing a social security bar code on every child born in a U.S. hospital. Retinal scans will follow shortly.

Loss of rights and freedom is a slow insidious process. Government, like corporations, can live forever so the passing of time means little.

It was only yesterday IN OUR LIVES, that we could travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and most of Central America with just a photo ID. Today you MUST have a passport. It was only a short time ago that WE could get on an airplane with no identification at all and carry a small pocket knife with no question. Today we have whole body searches at airports and recently there was an uproar about public schools strip searching teenage girls suspected of carrying drugs.

The first time I had experience with not being able to get a bank account was when my apprentice started earning a little money and wanted a checking account so he could pay bills (across country). He had been living with me for a year and had nothing physical to show he lived in Virginia other than mail addressed to him.

Today you cannot rent an apartment without a credit check which requires giving the potential landlord your social security number. Both should be illegal.

I have friends living in Costa Rica and I have seriously thought about moving there. One important item is to keep and maintain banking accounts in the U.S. This means having a U.S. mailing address as well. It sounds simple but it is not. You have to pay for a commercial mailing address and forwarding AND manage to maintain some sort of physical address. One simple reason is to be able to maintain a U.S. drivers' license AND your passport. While the U.S. government is adamant about your paying taxes no matter where you live in the world they will easily let your ID expire so that you cannot come home OR open a bank account . . . OR simply get a copy of your Social Security card.
- guru - Monday, 04/27/09 10:31:13 EDT

CanIron VII: The 7th biennial Canadian Blacksmith conference.

The Canadians put on a nice relaxed and enjoyable conference. Put it on your calendar, get a passport, go North to beat the August heat. .
CanIron VII
- guru - Monday, 04/27/09 13:59:18 EDT

Passports Will Be Required:
As of June 1, 2009 you will need your passport OR passport card to reenter the U.S. from Canada. Those planning on attending CanIron should apply for thier passports ASAP as there will probably be delays this summer.
- guru - Monday, 04/27/09 16:12:50 EDT

I kind of like that you have to prove *where* you live. In some countries, in fact probably a lot of countries, it's illegal to live somewhere unless you register with the Government.

On the other hand, I don't resent giving out my social security number as much as I resent the need to keep it secret. Seems to me that the real answer to identify theft is to require banks (and credit card companies) to really verify identity before they lend money. They sure seem to make it hard enough to deposit it . . .

Maybe it really is time for retinal scans, or something else that will actualy stop identity theft. I think that between ID requirements, computer databases and modern forensics, the days of being able to hide from the Government are pretty much over anyway.
Mike BR - Monday, 04/27/09 19:48:27 EDT

Guru: Those nuts from the Microsoft development team were on Cspan with youtube and facebook...etc. They want to put wireless chips in our brains to interface with our personal computers. All the bobble heads were bouncing back and forth in the audience to do it. Two words...end times. Think computer chip bar code.

- Rustymetal - Monday, 04/27/09 20:45:40 EDT

The Slipery Slope: A Discussion on Colectivism & Individualism - Ed Griffin.

- Dave Boyer - Monday, 04/27/09 21:44:08 EDT

the world as we know it : ....has been ending sense the 50s...the deep cuts into our nations hamstrings was the gutting of our heavy the 70(steel) and really hasnt slowed down sense.... i think i hear the fat lady singing the hymn of the new order
- pete - Tuesday, 04/28/09 06:31:39 EDT

Rusty Metal: Have you ever seen "The President's Analyst" Movie from the 1960's where the plot hinged on a plan by The Phone Company to inject a chip into everyone that would lodge in the brain and act as a telephone and then everyone's formal identifier would be their phone number...

It's a bit dated; but as my Father worked for Bell Labs back then we still watch it every now and then..

Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/28/09 10:45:02 EDT

Universal ID:
There was a group that was working on a plan to launch a system where one's phone number was also their e-mail address or vice versa. The one ID would be permanent and used for communication of all sorts including web ID's for system's like facebook. It was an idea of grand proportions that might have had some success if there had not been the dot-com crash and the money for big unproven ideas dried up. Since then phone numbers have become transferable and cell numbers permanent and as portable as the phones (as long as you pay for them).
- guru - Tuesday, 04/28/09 12:45:03 EDT

New Group Haul: i got all these at once for $200.

-starrett mics 4-5, 5-6, 6-7, 7-8 (the two largest are practically new unused)

-v blocks and 45 angle plate hardened and precision ground

-two starrett depth mics, the larger has a 6" anvil and up to 12" depth

-starrett parallel set

is that a cool set of v blocks or what ??

- Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 04/28/09 15:44:21 EDT

Big Brother is Watching YOU: When I was still working in the POlice Commissioner's office, we were offered a few different systems for creating drivers' licenses (and other IDs) with embedded RFID chips. With those in use and monitor sensors in every traffic signal we could have tracked everyone's movements. This wasn't science fiction, this was accomplished fact. Our Commissioner at that time was a gentleman who believed in the Constitution above all else and refused the offers.

The Metropolitan Police (London) and some others have cameras in public places that are coupled to computer systems with very sophisticated biometric recognition programs. A number of Interpol's "Most Wanted" have been apprehended through this system. It is only a matter of money and personnel before police departments everywhere have similar systems in place.

The line between individual freedoms and the necessity of protecting the society as a whole is a fuzzy, wavering thing that is very ephemeral. If the previous administration had gotten their way, the line would have been erased completely, I think. As a person who grew up in the West and was raised on old cowboy stories and Heinlein's writings, that sort of thing really sticks in my craw.
vicopper - Tuesday, 04/28/09 18:50:14 EDT

opinion good or bad...: I wonder if I can get some honest opinions, either good or bad, about the Boy Scouts?
My oldest boy (6) is really excited about joining with a bunch of his class mates but, I have no previous Scouting experiance and I'm wondering what to expect.
We went to our first informational/sign-up meeting tonight and I have to admit it was not as organized as I expected. Maybe I am expecting too much? This was an entire Pack meeting not just the 6 year olds and it seemed more like a two hour free-for-all than a structured gathering.
- merl - Tuesday, 04/28/09 21:48:37 EDT

Safety, Security:
In the U.S. we have managed a fairly high level of security with a relatively high level of freedom. While there are pockets of high crime in densely populated areas most of the U.S. is fairly crime free. I've lived in several places where we could leave our doors unlocked and the keys in the cars and never worried about locks. We know we have been lucky and others do not have such security but it is not unusual in many places.

We also have fire and emergency services in all but the most rural places.

While our systems are not perfect they are very good. In many other countries a call to the police may not be answered until tomorrow if at all.

But all is a careful balance. It is easy to panic when under stress. Bad laws are passed, rights trampled, security imagined or the public placated.

We are at a point where we have enemies that would love to make us panic and let us make OUR life unbearable on ourselves. And there are always those that crave more power and do not understand the evil they do.
- guru - Tuesday, 04/28/09 22:24:55 EDT

Scouting: I'm not current on what the state of Scouting is in the Statesw at this time, but I can say that when I went through the Scouting program fifty years ago, it was excellent. I managed to go all the way form Cub Scouts to Eagle Scout over several years and learned a tremendous amount about responsibility, teamwork, sharing and had my eyes opened to many interesting things. I highly recommend it.

There aren't a lot of non-denominational programs for kids that stress honest old-fashioned values the way that Scouting does. No, it isn't always highly organized and structured, especially at the younger age levels like 6. Dealing with a batch of 6 year-olds is pretty much like herding cats, after all.

When I was in Scouting, the Boy Scouts started at age 12. Cub Scouts started at age 8, I think. That was an unfortunately long time ago, and memory may not serve perfectly. Still it was, and is, a fine program. I know I certainly benefitted from it.
vicopper - Tuesday, 04/28/09 23:55:24 EDT

Scouting: Like a lot of things in my experience a lot depends on the people running it! When I was a scout in UK frankly, at first, it wasn't very good. Then we got a new scoutmaster who knew his job and planned activities. It improved hugely and I got a lot from it (and put more into it as well). Then eventually he moved away from the area and we were back to how it had been before. I am sure, though, that there is a lot to be gained from it. Certainly the map reading and other skills I learnt were helpful later in the military as I was ahead of the guys who had not done any. In USA is there a blacksmithing badge or another badge that could include some smithing?

When my younger son joined scouts he told them that I had a long wheelbase landrover with a tow bar. I never had a quiet weekend after that! I was always towing something somewhere but that is good. You as a parent should be prepared to contribute something in terms of time or money or experience. That way it runs well.

The sons were both sworn never to reveal that Dad was an accountant. I HATE being treasurer of anything!
- philip in china - Wednesday, 04/29/09 01:48:20 EDT

paramiltary: yes one must admit the scouts do some good stuff...but i guess in some folks eyes so did the hitler youth...
- pete - Wednesday, 04/29/09 05:57:14 EDT

Scouting: I am an Assistant Scoutmaster with my nephews troop. The idea is great, the execution is on the parents who make up the Troop support. In our troop the lack of discipline stemmed from the Scoutmaster who's stated objective was only "have fun". We are correcting that with insistence on decorum, proper posture, correct uniform etc. I have lent my talents as a former Drill SGT to hurry the lads along in an efficient manner.

After 6 months we are starting and stopping on time and merit badges are being EARNED once again. We now have patrol leader who are being just that, now that they see they are supported by the adults. My patrol is the new guys, The Trolls, and they are setting the standard for the rest of the troop. Espirit de corps is returning.

Cmon pete hitler youth? The parents are the leaders at Cub level and the Boys are the leaders at Troop Level. Curriculum is not mandated, and no one is paid by the govt to ensure anything is done. And even using my skills learned in the Army I am not training soldiers I am developing leaders, especially with hammer and tongs.
- Mills - Wednesday, 04/29/09 08:06:09 EDT

Scouts: The Boy Scouts of America are NOTHING like the Hitler jurgend and that was a plainly uncalled for comparison.

Both my sons did the cub Scouts and the younger went through Scouts and earned his Eagle.

The Scouts are as good as the leadership, which plainly is the parents, both mothers and Dads. It will be as good as your and other parents contributions. My sons learned a lot, received good socialization, learned team work and responsibility.
I was in the real military, and the Scouts is far from a regimented, paramilitary organization. There is more quasi Native American stuff than paramilitary.

I reccomend the Scouts to all. I also reccommend the Girl Scouts for those with Daughters. My Daughters both did that program to their betterment.

And Phillip-in-China, yes the BSA has a blacksmithing merit badge
ptree - Wednesday, 04/29/09 08:07:41 EDT

The BSA:
I was in Scouting in the 1960's and my son in the 1990's. The primary difference I saw was in personalities. However, there has been a lot of noise in recent years about anti-gay policies that I think should have been handled differently. On the other hand the codling PC attitude that "everybody wins" has permeated the Scouts as much as our schools. If you don't earn it, I don't think you should be awarded it.

I'm afraid I was not much of a Scout as rank and badges go. I was in it for the camping, nature craft and to get away from my 7 brothers and sisters one night a week. I was promoted from Tenderfoot to Second class by the Scoutmaster so he would not be embarrassed about having the oldest living Tenderfoot. That, and my group wanted me to be patrol leader and you must be higher rank than Tenderfoot to be a patrol leader.

To me Scouting was pretty much doing more "boy stuff" as I always had. Camping, hiking, fort building. . . After using one of those much too heavy WWII Army surplus tents ONE TIME my buddy and I stopped using tents and just carried a large folded up sheet of plastic. Shelter was something you made from what existed, that plastic and a little string. It was different every time we went out.

THE GAY ISSUE: My best friend when I was in Scouts was a homosexual. I didn't know it, and he didn't understand it or know it himself at the time. But I think some of the adults around us knew it but kept quiet. Remember, this was the early 1960's and you would have had to REALLY search to find information on the subject and most people were pretty ignorant about it. When Bill started to confront his difference he just faded away from our friendship. He was not interested in chasing or talking about girls which is what the rest of us had on our mind about half the time. . . I didn't know Bill was gay until I was over 40 and someone mentioned his involvement in a local gay rights group.

Today we have "don't ask don't tell" in the military and regular witch hunts for gays in the Scouts (they won that right in the Supreme Court). I think both are wrong. In today's climate my good friend would be identified as undesirable and forced to leave the Scouts. Our official government/military policy of "don't tell" translates that it is OK to lie as long as you do not get caught. About as low a moral ground as you can take and typical of politicians.

Over the years I have had a number of openly gay friends (and relatives) just as I have friends of different races and religions. We are all humans with the same right to be treated equally.

RELIGION and SCOUTS: This is the primary reason I did not go far in Scouting. I am not a church goer and was not going to lie to advance myself in the Scouts. Scouting is very church focused and many rank and merit badge requirements require taking part in recognized religious activities. While there are Scouts of every religion you will not find mixed troops with Catholics, Jews and Muslims. You also find few mixed race troops since most are church sponsored and we tend to segregate in churches.

I knew this was going to be a problem for me after studying the Scout manual and just accepted it. As a private organization they have the right to set the rules as they wish.

SO, If you are a fairly typical Church oriented family, do not mind hypocrisy in "Christian values" and can overlook a little bigotry then the Scouts are great. As mentioned above they need support from the parents including leaders, assistant leaders and volunteers.
- guru - Wednesday, 04/29/09 10:10:05 EDT

BSA. . .:
Note that your kids may enjoy the Scouts even if you do not agree with the politics. They will tell you when they are ready to quit.

Also note that the Cub Scout Pinewood derby is probably the worst thing the Scouts is involved with. In most places it ends up being a Dad's competition and is not really fair to the kids that actually build their own (with or without the allowed help). Cheating is rampant and not well regulated. Simple dimensions and wheel requirements are often overlooked or not inspected by those running the events.

The age of the kids in the Pinewood Derby is young enough that you can pretty much tell who built their own, which ones were built entirely by a parent and which ones were built by PROS. And there ARE professional Pinewood Derby builders out there that win year after year often using the same cars.

Kids don't learn anything if you don't let them touch the tools. .
- guru - Wednesday, 04/29/09 10:35:02 EDT

I moved several times during my scouting years and the troups varried wildly based on leadership. One troup went from a "spit and polish" group that frankly wasn't much fun to participate in; to the "rough troop" in town when leadership changed to a young fellow who was mainly interested in camping and first aid (being an EMT)

We camped every month year round, often in rough "hike in" locations and I enjoyed and learned a lot even if I was the "token intellectual".

My younger brother was in more advancement oriented troops and was the first member of our family to make eagle scout. Yet I am still much more "woodwise" than he is.

So ask around about your *local* group! And think about if your kids need the structure or if they would do better unstructured and look for the group that suits their needs.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/29/09 11:07:06 EDT

One thing about the Scouts is that by the time I had kids I was no longer into camping. I had played at Davy Crocket when I was a kid and when I got older I'd had some bad experiences and spent a few too many nights "car camping" sleeping in the back of a damp truck or station wagon. Today, if I can't afford a motel I don't travel.

So Scouts can be an opportunity for the kids to go camping even if you are no longer interested. But if this is what the kids want then as Thomas noted you may want to research the local troops. The activities are often dictated by the leadership.
- guru - Wednesday, 04/29/09 11:48:15 EDT

Rough Camping:
As Thomas noted the character of the group and experiences vary greatly. When I was camping we preferred not to camp at organized camp grounds and often camped in the National Forests or on private land. A couple of us would often camp on our own without the troop and I occasionally camped out alone.

When we camped outside of Scouts we often took food or snacks that did not need cooking as many of the places we went were too dangerous to build a fire OR may have been places a fire would give away the fact that we were there. When we did build fires we were super extra careful.

We did not use a tent or even a tarp, just a large piece of plastic sheeting. I think they made it heavier in the 1960's because we used the same piece for about three years. When building shelters or lean-to's we never cut wood other than a few stakes from dead wood on occasion. Scraps of rope and twine were used and reused. On several cold weather camp outs we piled leaves on the plastic sheeting to help hold in warmth.

Occasionally we would go into the woods near where we lived and practice making various one and two man shelters with our collection of plastic, rope and string. Sometimes we used deadfall pine poles, other times just the odd pieces of rope. A good site with a pair of trees about 6 to 8 feet apart was best but we often used a single tree. We also built against rock cliffs weighting our lines with rocks.

We practiced and put our knot tying skills to use!

My last back-pack was made from a well-worn Levi jeans jacket with the arms cut off, parts of other blue jeans and the D rings and straps from an old (worthless) Sears pack pack. It was full of pockets and zippers from the jeans and was water proofed with paraffin rubbed and ironed into it. It was low-tech but very comfortable.

Toward the end of my Scouting days I was into miniature survival kits. I think I had seen them in "Boy's Life". These were made using a small match box (the little ones that fit in the palm of your hand and are hard to find these days). Into this little box we packed a few water proofed matches, small band aids, fish hooks, a few feet of fishing line, single edge razor blades, needle and thread, aluminum foil and Saran wrap (to make a solar still, cook or wrap food), and a dozen aspirin. Sometimes the contents were wrapped with the Saran wrap or sometimes the whole.

The idea was that you could carry the kit in a pocket and forget it. It did not attach to a utility belt or need any special consideration. With it you could catch fish or small game, clean and cook it. The single edge razor blades replaced a small knife or scalpel.

On one Scout camping camping trip I "proved" the little kit by catching several fish using the string, hooks and chewing gum wrapper for bait, using the razor to cut/clean them, matches to build the fire and the foil to make cooking a little cleaner and more efficient.

But sometimes our best "camp outs" were to just roll our sleeping bags out on the roof of the shop (a converted chicken house with a shed roof), and spend the night looking at the sky, telling stories or talking about kid stuff. . (the meaning of life, girls, infinity, girls . . .).

Wow. . now I wonder if I ever went to school. .
- guru - Wednesday, 04/29/09 12:55:00 EDT

BSA in General, and Blacksmithing:
I belonged to the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts many moons ago, although I had to leave the later when my academics did not come up to may parent’s expectations (which really weren’t all that high). When my sons were of age they went as Cob Scouts and Boy Scouts; one dropped out because he didn’t like taking orders from his fellow scouts (he later joined the Navy, and learned the method behind the madness) and the other went on to a Life Scout and Order of the Arrow.

I served as “Third Assistant Scoutmaster” for their troop for several years. There were no 1st or 2nd assistant scoutmasters, but I figured that I should keep the opportunities open for folks more talented than I.

Metalworking Merit Badge

I also served as councilor for the Metalworking Merit Badge for the area; an activity that Jock and Paw Paw Wilson also pitched in on. Due to my contacts through the NPS (my former boss was the official NPS/BSA liaison for several years) I even volunteered to re-write the Metalworking Merit Badge book. Alas, my time budget was soon further constrained, and they passed it on to another knowledgeable fellow, who did a very nice job of the revision. I would have done it a bit different; but you ask six blacksmiths and you get 24 answers; so I can’t complain. ;-)

Paramilitary Scouting

The Scouts were actually meant by Baden-Powell to be a paramilitary organization, a pool of strong, healthy, knowledgeable, creative, disciplined (sort of) people who could be relied upon to fight for King and Country and become outstanding citizens in times of peace. More tyrannical regimes, throughout most of the 20th century, would promptly forbid or terminated the scouts to reinvent their youth in their own image; usually with more discipline and less creativity. Bending twigs is a very old political and social sport.

Religion and Politics

Most of the troops that I have been involved with, over the years and however lightly, were supported by schools, or social organizations such as the Optimist Club. I do think that some of the upper level politics in the BSA (it doesn’t come from the boys) is short-sighted foot-shooting and overly reactionary. Some would contend that Baden-Powell probably would agree with the more conservative folks, but we’re a long way in time and society from Mafeking, and he was known as something of a free thinker. Troops, as has been pointed out above, are very individual, and the leadership is key to what skills the children learn and take to heart. If there are policies that are objectionable, object and let your children know why; but I find it is more fruitful to work slowly within the system rather than toss it all overboard.

On the whole I feel that the BSA is mostly positive; but flawed like many other organizations.

Since I brought politics into this, I can only leave you with the byline of one of our Captains on the longship:

In the words of scholar Larry Hardiman: :"Politics: from the word 'poly,' meaning 'many,' and the word 'ticks,' meaning 'bloodsucking parasites.'"

To which my friend, Ceecy, adds: “In Greek, "idiot" was the term for non-politicians, or more precisely, those not active in public life.”

More on Baden-Powell
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 04/29/09 14:43:07 EDT

My backpack was one of the old canvas rucksacks; by the time I finally got a pack frame I was mainly using it to carry firewood from where I was cutting it to the woodpile at the house. (cutting seasoned locust with a bowsaw!)

Once when we were camping out one of the "new" kids got sick and I offered to carry his pack out for him---real fancy with padded frame and all the bells and whistles---so I tied my pack on top of his and used his frame to carry them both out.

In one troop we did a lot of canoeing using the old grumann Al canoes. The old ones had a gap in the sides of the seat where you could stick paddles in and prop up one end and throw the proverbial sheet of plastic over it and rock down the edges for a tent.

Did a 50 miler on the white water river once as bowman with my stern "captain" reciting the soundtrack from "Dr Strangelove" which he had memorized..."Survival kit contents, in it you'l find..."

Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/29/09 15:19:17 EDT

Blacksmith Equipment for Sale: I haven't been in the shop for 18 months and its time to retire. I have a fairly full set of equipment to sell.

15 ANVILS 200# DOWN,

Every thing except a swage block.

Mental health issues don't allow making this transaction a head butting ordeal. Reasonable people make reasonable offers. If Interested please reply.

I'M in Townsend, Mass, USA.
Tom Burnham - Wednesday, 04/29/09 17:45:27 EDT

RealEstate with House and Blacksmith Shop: My stepfather was a blacksmith and owned a forge on Cape Cod. He and my mother passed away, and I'm selling the property, which consists of a house, a large barn, and a shop and forge with a business license.

Serious inquiries only.
Siobhan Stackpole - Wednesday, 04/29/09 17:50:47 EDT

More on Scouting: As a couple of others have said, the comparison of the BSA to the Hitler Youth is demeaning, absurd and totally out of place. The Scouts, like any organization, have their small flaws, but they're a worthwhile and growth-producing organization focused on youth. How many of those are there these days?

When I was a Scout, our troop was not affiliated with, nor sponsored by any religious or political organization. It was strictly a community-oriented group and meetings were held at the local elementary school. We said the Pledge of Allegiance but did no praying or other sectarian activities whatsoever.

Our scoutmaster was a guy who truly liked kids and gave freely of his time and energies to foster our growth and development as well as promoting good clean fun and some few civic activities. We did a lot of camping, cooking, crafts and sports activities year-around. Some years after I finished with scouting I learned that our scoutmaster was gay, though there were never any allegations of any improprieties at any time he was a Scoutmaster, and he may very well have not even determined his orientation until later. None of my business. Like most gay people, he was perfectly capable of keeping his private life private and not bringing it into a place it didn't belong. He had long since retired from Scouting when his orientation became public knowledge and ther was some hue and cry from a few reactionaries in town, but no one ever accused him of anything improper.

There were a number of the scouts' parents who were quite active in the group and that contributed to making it a much more rewarding experience for all involved. My father was the fishing merit badge counselor and took dozens of us little hellions fishing many times. Though I was a fairly accomplished fisherman and fly tyer (for a young man) in those days, that was one merit badge I never did get. Didn't seem proper for my own Dad to be my judge so it never happened. No big deal, I had lots of others. :-)

Here on St. Croix there is a fairly active Scout troop, thoroughly mixed as to race, nationality and religion. I don't know who sponsors the troop, but I have known a couple of the scoutmasters and they were/are fine people who really care about kids. With all the wrong paths available to kids here, Scouting and the Boys and Girls Club are two of the very few opportunities for kids to get positive guidance. I support their efforts wholeheartedly!

vicopper - Wednesday, 04/29/09 22:08:36 EDT

Shars tool ??: These are interesting. I found a set at a much better price. Anyone know of the general quality of these tools?
Shars 81 pc Gage Block Set
- Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 04/29/09 23:31:02 EDT

Thanks for all the great responses guys!
I don't want this to turn into a squable over weather the BSA is or is not a prepitory for military service. It clearly is not. Like any other orginization that is run by volunteers, it is going to reflect the personality of those volunteers trying to interprit and carry out the directives and guidelines of the parent orginization.
Some may think the BSA and some other political/paramilitary groups have the same goals or use similar means to achieve their purpose and that is their right to that opinion but, anyone comparing the intents and purposes of the BSA and those of the Hitler Youth and, then calling them one in the same, is just delusional.
I spent twelve years in the U.S Army Infantry, I know what the military looks like.
The BSA that I see is nothing like the military.
It looks for all the world like a bunch of CHILDREN trying to have some fun and maybe the parents at the meetings need to take a little firmer hand when controling thier kids. Perhaps when the leaders have their planing meetings they could emphisize the need of the parents to instill a little more restraint in the kids so things can get done in a timely manor and still leave time for goofing around.
If I feel my children need some military instruction I am more than capible of doing it. That is not what they need. What they do need is the opportunity to socialize and interact with kids their own age and that is all I expect out of the BSA.
Just because you teach a kid to use a compass and read a map or learn camping and survival skills and maybe marksmanship and archery skills does that prep them for military service some how?
We did those same things in grade school, as I recall it was called GYM CLASS!
Any gathering of people needs some purpose. From there you need some kind of structure and orginization. From there you should have some goals.
Then the group needs the means to get those things done. A church group, the BSA or West Point they all work like this.
As a boy my family did a lot of tent camping. We could not afford to go on "family vacations" but, we camped at my mothers family farm at least twice a month or more when we could.
During and after my time in the service I was not a "fun camper". I didn't go camping any more I went on "field operations" and didn't feel comfortable in the woods without a sidearm and still don't.
I just want my kids to be able to enjoy the woods like I did when I was their age and the camaraderie of their freinds without bringing my "baggage" along.
Maybe I can get a little help too.
Thanks again for the great response.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go make some cat tails from some 3/4" black pipe for my mother in laws birthday...
- merl - Thursday, 04/30/09 12:33:04 EDT

Gaga Blocks: Tyler - I'm not familiar with the manufacturer you linked to. I'm much more familiar with Starrett (Weber), Mitutoyo, etc. General comments - Carbide is better than hardened steel, and which grade you choose should depend on how accurate you need to set your micrometers. Also, depending on frequency of usage, gage blocks should be checked and recertified for accuracy on some frequency. AT AK Steel, with hardened steel blocks we sent them back to Weber (Starrett) for recertification annually.
- Gavainh - Thursday, 04/30/09 13:36:37 EDT

Thank you Gavainh. I have ordered them at about 1/8 the price in that link. They are made in China however they are supposedly carbide and ground to standards. I've got them in mind for using as "shop blocks" and should be fine. I may check some on the optical comparator and perhaps even hardness test one to satisfy my curiosity.
- Tyler Murch - Thursday, 04/30/09 17:43:07 EDT

Tyler: The grade "B" blocks in the link You posted are "shop blocks", suposed to be within .00005" of size. These are good enough for the intended purpose. I have worked in tool & die shops where We measured the stacked up blocks with a mic and substituted blocks to get the desired size. In many shops "shop blocks" as You called them are worn out blocks, with a good certified better grade set used as masters.
- Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/30/09 20:48:24 EDT

Personal Precision Tools:
Precision tools used in industry are almost always under control of a tool quality control, inspection and calibration system. Each tool has a control number and is inspected and calibrated if needed on a regular schedule OR if there is a possibility of damage (dropped, parts in error). Gauge blocks in such a system must have current traceable calibration certs to a recognized authority.

Occasionally a few personal tools are put into the system but generally not.

For personal use most machinists know their tools and when they are in good calibration. Micrometers and verniers that zero are considered good and gauge blocks and standards accepted as accurate. In general they are more accurate than any of your tools can measure. . .

- guru - Thursday, 04/30/09 21:13:58 EDT


As usual, this struck me a week too late, but I've always thought "Home Office" sounds like the spare bedroom where you stick your old computer and a swivel chair.

Not that I disagree with you about "Homeland Security." On the other hand, I can only think of one other thing to call it, and the current name *is* catchier than "a mistake."
Mike BR - Saturday, 05/02/09 20:34:32 EDT

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