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Virtual Hammer-In!

This page is open to ALL for the purpose of advancing blacksmithing, swaping lies, selling tools.

October 2011 Archive

Blacksmithing equipment for sale: A friend of mine in North Carolina, Enrique Vega, is selling off his blacksmithing shop and equipment. Power hammer, punch press, drill press, anvils, hammers, etc. It would be worth a look if you're anywhere near Apex, NC (outside Raleigh/Durham). You can see the bigger items here:

BS Tools for Sale
Rich - Wednesday, 10/05/11 10:12:55 EDT

It's that great time of year that we love to forge, so...we are having a Hammer-in!!!!

The event will be held at the Guilford Art Center at 411 Church St. in Guilford CT. 06437 From 9-4 The school is located off of exit 58 on 95.
Cost for the hammer-in will be $25.- and will include a hot dog lunch.

Forging with Mace Vitale
Sword hilt construction and sword sharpening with Matt Parkinson
Knife handles and guards- Mace and Matt
Bronze casting with Barbara Wechter
Sword and knife cutting demonstration
...and a raffle!
(if you have something that you could donate to the raffle that would be awesome!!)
We will also set up a forge and some anvils for you to hit some hot steel!
All proceeds go to the forge shop!

Hope to see some of you there!
- Matthew Parkinson - Friday, 10/07/11 07:29:18 EDT

So I realy shouldn't post before finishing my morning cup of coffee.... date of the guilford hammer in is Oct 22
- matthew parkinson - Friday, 10/07/11 15:22:30 EDT

Camp Fenby Autumn Session, 2011: Camp Fenby Autumn Session, 2011

Barring extreme weather, our 2011 autumn session of Camp Fenby will take place on November 11 - 13, Friday (Veterans Day) through Sunday, in Oakley, Maryland.

Camp Fenby is a very laid-back arts and crafts teaching and learning event with blacksmithing, metalworking, woodworking, fiber arts, soapstone work, cooking, and whatever else our somewhat diverse group can find to teach or learn about. The primary emphasis is on the early medieval period, but we diverge as desired.

Usually, folks can camp out on site, and there are a number of rental cottages, B & B's, and motels in the area. Saturday night traditionally features a seafood feast (or other, more land-bound, fare of choice) or a restaurant raid. Alternatively, we can do a bonfire in the evenings and sing songs and gently imbibe encouraging brews. This year we also have the longship available for a possible cruise if it is not too cold and we have enough crew.

For more information, please contact me; or check-out or join our YahooGroups site, below...

Camp Fenby: good friends, good food, good work, since 1993!

Camp Fenby Bulletin Board
Bruce Blackistone - Friday, 10/07/11 22:06:03 EDT

Philly Blacksmithing: I am looking to get together with some other blacksmiths in the Philadelphia PA area. Email me, please!
- stewartthesmith - Sunday, 10/16/11 08:18:19 EDT

oops: email address
stewartthesmith - Sunday, 10/16/11 08:19:11 EDT

Stweart: Go to On their home page is a contact for each of the organizions affiliated with them. Will likely list President, VP & Newsletter Editor.
- Ken Scharabok - Monday, 10/17/11 11:32:24 EDT

I think I may be the only one, Stewart.
- Nippulini - Tuesday, 10/18/11 08:13:07 EDT

Mr.Nippulini: three people contacted me who live in or near philly, including you
- stewartthesmith - Tuesday, 10/18/11 09:27:17 EDT

gas forge info: My building has 1" industrial pressure natural gas in it now. It is reduced to 3/4 " and run to my small gas forge where a 3/8" pipe feeds fuel into the forge with a 2" grainger blower for air. The blower intake cover cannot be opened more than half way suggesting to me if I ran the full 1" gas into this forge it would be a hotter bigger fire. the fire brick forge is probably too small as it is a barrel shape 8" dia and open on both ends I am thinking of making another the size of a 5 gallon bucket, or larger, I am not interested in acheiving welding heat, just a good powerhammer forging heat any input would be appreciated. thanks
- danny arnold - Wednesday, 10/19/11 21:24:26 EDT

Danny: Close and insulate the back end, leave a pass through hole if You need one, and close and insulate the upper portion of the front. You have to leave enough open area to get the work in and out, and for the exhaust gasses to get out.

The down side of these reductions in the openings is that the "dragon's breath will be at a much greater velocity and blow a lot further out from the forge. Another blower like You are using that blows up through a slot in front of the forge opening will divert a good bit of the "dragon's breath".

You might as well run the full 1" pipe to this or any forge, and regulate it with a gate valve.

With proper insulation, the outer surface of the forge shouldn't get real hot except where the hot gasses coming out heat it, but bigger forge chambers need more heat input, and greater work throughput increase it even more. The full 1" pipe can flow a whole lot more gas than the 3/8" You are now using.

I have seen pictures/drawings of old commercial forges, they added the gas BEFORE the blower, and left the blower mix it with the air. This is worth a thought.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 10/19/11 21:52:54 EDT

Gas Forge Size and Shape:
Generally round forges are a waste of fuel and refractory. As I pointed out a few hours ago on the guru's den the "pipe" forge is a modern DIY quicky design that makes easy use of refractory blanket. Otherwise it is a generally bad design. Scaling it up the problems become worse. One problem is that for heating multiple billet you what a wide flat floor. Another is the shape of the work. A forge with enough volume to accept a giant basket shape in it (a big round forge) is VERY inefficient for heating straight bars and objects bent on one axis such as scrolls. A flattened rectangular shape is MUCH more efficient. Remember that after a certain point any extra volume is a waste AND it must all be heated.

Depending on the type of steel you are forging a good welding heat (or a forge capable of it) MAY BE the right heat for power hammer. Power forging is no different than hand forging when it comes to heat. The softer the material the more you can get done.

With the amount of fuel you have available you should be able to bring a forge big enough to work anvils to a white heat. Learn to make the forge you've built work before building another.

A little NC-Tool 2 burner forge with a 4x6" x 12" interior will heat one or two 1" bars albeit slowly. Those with a door on the long side usually end up being used entirely through an end port. We operate ours with only one 1-1/2" x 3" port open. If we tried to operate with the door open it would be impossible to reach a god heat.

When you are trying to find the right operating parameters for you forge you may find that you can easily overpower the forge, all the heat being in the dragons breath, NOT in the forge.

The optimum operation point of a blown forge is when it makes the loudest reverbatory roar. In a forge of a couple cubic feet the roar will rattle windows and shelves. Generally you have to run a bit richer than this optimum point in order to reduce the tremendous and possibly destructive roar.
- guru - Wednesday, 10/19/11 23:23:19 EDT

gas forge info: Thanks folks I am pumped with FIRE thanks to your input. Nat gas is the cheapest fuel available to me, and since I have an industrial size pipe coming into my building, I will use it! the 3" high pressure main is right there, and maybe I should think about that large volume too. I have suspected that my round forge was inefficient and I will dissassemble it and make a wide flat forge copy of my whisper daddy box. the fire brick i used is the very soft white (space shuttle ) type mortared with greenpatch 421? this little forge can be max hot inside and the outside of the brick is cool enough to keep your hand on. I molded it around a pipe shape and get a lot of waste, For fuel I would mix propane in to "sweeten the fire" and heat the inside to a very high yellow white, then straight N.G. That tip about the SOUND is appreciated! Really good info thanks
- danny arnold - Thursday, 10/20/11 07:59:09 EDT

While NG is not as high calorie as Propane you should not need to mix the two to get the forge up to temperature. The first NG forge I saw was about 2 x 2 x 3 feet inside and ran a 1" or 3/4" pipe with a little blower about 6" in diameter. Due to its size and being hard refractory lined it took about 40 minutes to get up to heat. It was used with the front door cracked open about 2".
- guru - Thursday, 10/20/11 08:59:48 EDT

Letting the forge come up to heat is just one of the start up tasks like turning on the lights or opening the doors/windows.

Try to arrange it to happen while you are talking to suppliers/customers, cutting stock for the day, getting a cup of coffee, etc.

When I kill my forge for lunch/trip to town/etc I block it up to retain heat if I will be using it again when I get back.

Also look into recuperative systems if you need extra heat.

The problem with big burners and small forges is that the dwell time is low and so a lot of heat transfer doesn't take place until after the exhaust has left the forge.

Every system has it's "sweet spot" and tinkering to get it is the norm when building a new system.
Thomas P - Thursday, 10/20/11 12:47:24 EDT

gasser plan : ok 2'x 3' 12' high box. a hinge-up door on the 3' side. A 3 slot cast iron burner from a Johnson gasser on a 2' side blowing in at the bottom of the box, it is 1-1/8" female threaded for a pipe pointing down which 90's into a short nipple to a T where the gas is blowing into the airstream from the blower. I posses a very old Johnson gas forge, all rusted to pieces. The burner, piping, and the belt driven blower are salvageable, and I am sure the refractories are also. I intend to use a 1" ball valve for shut-off and control. I have no way to measure the P.S.I but this 1" pipe puts out a strong blow and loud hiss and will fill a condom to a big balloon fast!
- danny arnold - Thursday, 10/20/11 19:18:24 EDT

Forges and Doors:
Forges must have an exhaust opening that is open all the time. They must be properly sized for the burner which must be properly sized for the forge. These can be a top vent, a door vent, your pass through hole. . .

While burners with full adjustments have a wide adjustment range they DO NOT have as wide an operating range. The gas exiting the nozzle MUST exceed the flame front velocity or the fire will run up inside the burner and melt it. This limits how low you can adjust an oversize burner.

Hinged doors on little farrier forges are OK but the almost universal forge door is the vertical sliding or parallel arm door. These let you crack the door just enough to get a long bar in the door or act as exhaust.
- guru - Friday, 10/21/11 08:48:40 EDT

The pressure on a natural gas line is generally not measured in PSI but water column inches. The actual pressure on the consumer side is generally about 2 PSI which is hard to measure accurately. The normal range in water column inches is 3.5" to 5.5" WC. The distribution side or the meter is only about 2-3 times higher. The low pressure is why the pipes are so big.

When I was a teenager we moved into a big old 10 room house with a coal furnace. It was a pain to fill the stoker hopper every day and haul the 100 pounds or so of ash out of the basement EVERY DAY. The stoker would also jam up on a regular basis and need to be cleared and a new shear pin installed (about every two weeks). . . So it was decided to put in a new gas furnace.

The gas furnace had a row of eight 24" long burners that covered about a two square foot area. A BIG furnace. The line running to it was about 1.25". The problem was the furnace was too big for the gas line supplying the house. It would work fine in mild weather but when demand went up and the main line pressure dropped a little there was not enough pressure for the furnace. The low pressure resulted in smoldering burners and a soot filled furnace. . . The contractor who installed the furnace died just as the installation was completed so there was no recourse there. We went round and round and fiddled with the furnace for a couple years replacing regulators and valves. . . My dad finally removed about half the burners. That took care of the problem. To completely solve the problem would have required a new 2" or larger line put in from the street. . .
- guru - Friday, 10/21/11 09:27:24 EDT

My shop forge is set up a bit different. Round forge with mostly square hole in the front. I wended on a platform about 6" x 6" on the front opening. Then took a piece of angle iron and bolted on a piece of kaowool to the front of it. It sits off the platform 3/4" via legs on both sides. I can move it back and forth or side to side (such as working a longer piece) as needed. When doing multiple rods, the kaowool is almost against the opening so most of the heat is coming out under it.
- Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 10/22/11 11:19:13 EDT

hello from the north: Hello from the Northern part of the world... Ontario Canada.. have not forged to much latly but still stop in... Barney the blacksmith
- Barney - Saturday, 10/22/11 18:24:27 EDT

Howdy Barney! :
Good to here you are still around.
- guru - Saturday, 10/22/11 20:38:25 EDT

A 20th Century Adventure:
I came across this where looking at old documentaries on The 1941 Richardson Pan-American Expedition was the first successful attempt to drive the Pan American Highway from Nogalas, AZ/Mexico, through Central and South American all the way to Cape Horn. A 15,000 mile drive on a proposed route that was often no more than an animal track. What started as a great adventurer became a challenge of Olympic proportions for three adventurers. A trip that was supposed to take a couple months stretched to 9 grueling months. It took six months to reach Costa Rica often traveling fractions of a mile a day! Today it is an 8 to 10 day drive. Most of that siz months was spent trying to traverse Mexico. In South America they found actual roads. Distances were covered much faster but there were other difficulties.

A documentary movie covers the first half of the trip that started in 1941. There was a second movie covering the second half of the adventure but only a few minutes are available. This is the first half.

The entire adventure is documented on (the hot link below) including the story behind the story. This is one of those true stories that is better than fiction.
- guru - Sunday, 10/23/11 11:40:43 EDT

MATERIAL FOR FABRICATED ANVIL: I am considering building a fabricated anvil similar to the ones shown elsewhere on this website. I want to use 4140 for the main body and horn of the anvil, but I was wondering about making a hardened steel cap. Does anyone have any advice as far as which material to use. It should be heat-treated to around 54-56 Rc and have the ability to be welded to the base.
- Marty Boyd - Sunday, 10/23/11 11:48:41 EDT

DIY Anvils:
Marty, If you can get the AISI/SAE 4140 it will make a fine anvil.
Heat Treating 4140
- guru - Sunday, 10/23/11 12:19:17 EDT

anvil face: years ago I faced a rail road track anvil with a piece of plow blade from a sanitation truck, it was nice, flat and hard. I was young and crazier then I heated it up in the forge and formed the horn on a 500# anvil with a sledge, was quite the workout it took maybe four hours, wish I didn't give it away
larry - Sunday, 10/23/11 15:23:17 EDT

also: oh yeah, the square hole for the bolts made a nice hardy hole
larry - Sunday, 10/23/11 15:25:06 EDT

HAalp!: I've got an old dead file. High quality, 1 lb 10 oz.


I don't want to turn it into 40 pocket knives.

WHAT can I do with such a large piece of good steel?
Rudy - Sunday, 10/23/11 18:07:02 EDT

I believe it was in 1911 Harriet Fisher (wife of then deceased Clark Fisher - Fisher Anvil Works) sort of drove around the world in a Hupmobile. She did take along a driver (probably mechanic as well) and a maid. Book was written about it. I found a copy on-line, but at $600 I passed.
Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 10/23/11 18:44:06 EDT

Anneal it, grind it smooth, take a chisel and cut new teeth, then harden it. . . Many old heavy files were designed to be refurbished several times. . .

Most file steel is non or low alloy (plain carbon) steel. It is suitable for steeling wrought tools, laminating with allow steels to make pattern welded steel, great for scrapers, wood plane irons, wood working tools of all kinds (chisels, gouges, turning tools).
- guru - Sunday, 10/23/11 18:56:54 EDT


You're right, but that isn't my question. I don't want to make a bunch of little things out of this. By my standards this is
- Rudy - Sunday, 10/23/11 19:46:26 EDT

Big File: You're right, but that isn't my question. I don't want to make a bunch of little things out of this. By my standards, this is "huge".

Does anyone have a project that will use the whole thing? Scottish great sword, Sutton Hoo reproduction, or the like.

You know. Something w class, w style, slightly over the top and ego building.

- Rudy - Sunday, 10/23/11 19:50:47 EDT

Correction on Ms. Fisher. It was a Locomobile.

Rudy: e-mail me and I'll send you a photograph of a file made into an alligator and snake.
Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 10/23/11 21:01:47 EDT

Rudy: By the time you deal with grinding and scale loss, you won't have enough steel there to make a sword - takes roughly a kilo for that. Maybe think about an axe or adze?
- Rich - Monday, 10/24/11 09:32:44 EDT

Big File: Rich,

Yeah, but I didn't expect to make a sword only out of the file. 1090 may be great for the edge, but not so hot for the body.

Besides, doesn't 1060 (or thereabouts) make the best swords? (not knives).
- Rudy - Monday, 10/24/11 14:11:03 EDT

FILES: Guru, and anybody else,

The above thread got me wondering so I went to a book I have ("Hardening, Tempering, Annealing, and Forging of Steel", Woodworth) and checked his table giving points of carbon for various tools.

For files, he has 1.50 points. Now I have always heard a (good) file was 1080 - 1095.

Have the standards changed? Have we forgotten what steel is actually used? Or is the book wrong?
- Rudy - Monday, 10/24/11 15:53:31 EDT

Old black diamond files (pre-nicholson) were 1.2% C
Thomas P - Monday, 10/24/11 19:22:44 EDT

Files: One chart says files should be made of W2 which has a carbon content of .60 to 1.40. The wide range is balanced by the range of Manganese of .10 to .40. Another book says .90 to 1.00 steel.

Both of the above are in the range of AISI/SAE 1095.

Files, as with all junkyard steel are treated as unknown mystery metal see our FAQ on junkyard steels.

- guru - Tuesday, 10/25/11 00:16:42 EDT


You could forge it into a tightrope walker and call it an Acrobat file. Might not quite fit your 19th Century theme, though . . .
Mike BR - Tuesday, 10/25/11 19:25:32 EDT

That fell PDF---Pretty Durn Flat
Thomas P - Wednesday, 10/26/11 18:26:07 EDT

I thought it was funny. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 10/26/11 20:53:55 EDT

Uses for Large Files: They're good for taking up bandwidth and jamming my mailbox. ;-)

No; seriously, the two early medieval uses I can think of would be a medium seax knife or a whopping great spearhead. The spearhead (depending on the carbon content) would have to be tempered way back to blue, or even drawn out completely, due to the stress of impact; but it would be wicked sharp. In a 19th century context it would be good for an Arkansas Toothpick style knife.

Alas, beyond weaponry, I cannot think of a domestic use for that much high carbon steel intact. Agricultural implements such as sickles and bills were sometimes made of files, but they tended to take more abuse than weapons; thwocking into rocks and tree trunks. Maybe a tough hasp for a secure door that you don't want anybody to hacksaw through?

Cool and rainy on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks:

Go viking (bring a seax):
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 10/27/11 09:18:39 EDT

Files and Large Files:
Large to a jeweler would be an 8" warding file.

I've seen old heavy pattern files that were over 2" wide and an inch thick. These are usually 14 to 16" long. That's a 7 pound file!
- guru - Thursday, 10/27/11 16:41:07 EDT

Big files: Actually Jock, one of my favorite "jeweler's" files is a Grobet 12" #6 cut crossing file that I've had for forty years. Someday I'm going to have to replace it and I just know the cost is going to give me a serious case of sticker shock, IF I can even get one like it.

That has always been my favorite for dressing raised work - those long strokes make it much easier to get a smooth contour.
- Rich - Thursday, 10/27/11 17:10:32 EDT

test: test
- Rich - Thursday, 10/27/11 18:29:28 EDT

Broken Script?: Jock,

The script that picks up the email address doesn't seem to be working. I'm putting it in, but it isn't working.
Rich - Thursday, 10/27/11 18:31:11 EDT

Hmmmm: Okay, so that time it did, though I did nothing different as far as I know.
Rich - Thursday, 10/27/11 18:32:04 EDT

Yep, There has been a bug on the Hammer-In for a long time and I have not been able to figure it out. Emails do not pickup the first time. . . I'll look at it again.
- guru - Thursday, 10/27/11 20:02:11 EDT

Philadelphia Blacksmith's Guild: I would like to thank everyone who responded to my earlier post regarding blacksmiths getting together in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. We already have five people and counting! Apparently, cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, and anvils go together!
- Stewartthesmith - Friday, 10/28/11 07:57:21 EDT

if interested: if interested, email me at
Stewartthesmith - Friday, 10/28/11 07:59:02 EDT

I used to forge pretzels from 1/4" stock, now I 'm off to weld up a cheesesteak!
- Nippulini - Friday, 10/28/11 08:39:39 EDT

Nip, did you forge those little sea salt crystals for the pretzels? ;)
- guru - Friday, 10/28/11 11:43:31 EDT

Bad news, Rich, I can't find that Grobet makes a crossing file any bigger than 8" anymore, and the finest cut on that one is a #2...Only $35, though. Cheap for a Grobet!
Alan-L - Friday, 10/28/11 12:34:24 EDT

Files. . . .:
Most of the world's file makers have been bought up or consolidated and product lines reduced. Grobet itself was a group of file makers but was consolidated in order to provide a wider range of product rather than a narrower one. That trend is reversing. Large consolidated companies no longer look at an entire product line but at individual products in the line. If they do not sell a certain number every year the product is dropped. To me this devalues the entire line.

We recently learned that Bouton, the folks that make the wire side shield safety glasses we sell was bought and the product line reduced. We were given a 6 months delivery on their safety glasses. . . We found another maker that makes a very similar product but in Taiwan. However, they are also dropping that product when current inventory is gone. If I could afford to buy them out I would.

Some of this methodology is very short sighted. I once dealt with a power transmission (bearings and belts) supplier that did not stock set collars. I had asked about them numerous times and the response was that if they did not sell enough they do not stock them. I asked if they EVER stocked them. . . they said no. So I asked if they never stocked them how would they know how many they would sell? I got a look like I was crazy. . .

It used to be that companies carried many items that they did not make a lot on or produce in high quantity in order to provide a full line of product. In some areas such as bearings and seals, catalogs have become more of a wish-list than a list of available products. In the fastener industry manufactures no longer warehouse product, they take advance orders from sellers that are filled up to a year later.

There are many reasons for this "new" business model. High interest rates, tax laws, shipping costs. . . Fuel and shipping costs that are added at each additional step in the delivery process. .
- guru - Friday, 10/28/11 14:18:56 EDT

Big files: Drat! At #6 cut, that one is more than a little bit too fine for me to re-cut, too. (grin)
- Rich - Friday, 10/28/11 15:45:44 EDT

Salt crystals on steel pretzel: What I did was: place the forged pretzel near weld site, then FCAW welded scrap plate aiming the arc at an obtuse angle, causing tons of spatter to fly onto the pretzel. Neat effect, I'm sure could be applied to other projects.
- Nippulini - Saturday, 10/29/11 08:16:10 EDT

It is not just product line.

At one time a hardware store might buy from a couple of wholesalers, with likely a representive showing up every two-three weeks for the order. If a price comparison, probably on the whole order basis, rather than particular items.

Apparently now they buy on an item-by-item basis from whichever wholesaler is cheaper on that item.

I see Lowe's is going to close about 20 less performing stores, yet is still on a building spree.
Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 10/29/11 09:56:14 EDT

In recent years many big businesses have closed "lower performing" stores that while not doing gang-buster business were STILL profitable. . . I do not get it. Shoney's closed restaurants that filled to capacity all day every day. . . Made no sense at all.
- guru - Saturday, 10/29/11 10:14:40 EDT

RIP John Neary

AKA Cracked Anvil and Miles Undercut:

John Neary passed away Friday, Oct 21, due to complications from cancer. He was 74 years of age. He was a Harvard graduate, and worked for Time/Life as a journalist for 30 years. After writing about Turley Forge, as a human interest article in "Americana" magazine, he then took my class and became a blacksmith and fine metalsmith. Among the things he specialized in was armillary spheres and sundials often made from iron wagon tires and other found objects. John was truly a 'wordsmith' as well as a blacksmith, and we remember him from his witty postings where he was also known as 'Cracked Anvil' and 'Miles Undercut' and other aliases on
-- Frank Turley

Under the Alias Cracked Anvil, John got carried away at times. There was SOMETHING about the Cracked Anvil nom de plume that he got so carried away that we had to retire the name. Cracked was a little too racy for our family friendly forums. . .

Some quotes (relative to a question about writing an "authentic" and "detailed" but fictional book. . . (we get a lot of those).

"On the question of this hysterical novel that we are so assiduously researching: when do we get to the parts where the ore-carriers, who happen to be scantily clad nubile maidens come on stage at the smelter, their moist lips parted, their breath coming in short, heavy gasps, and all like that, hmmm? . . .

"Chapter II: Princess Desiree, who has disguised herself as a simple country bellydancer clad only in skimpy leathern jerkin and a tambourine, so as to escape the evil Org, lustful Lord High Priest of the province, gets the idea to make herself a sword, and with it lead the bellows girls to their freedom. In the next scene, after swinging down from the balcony on the chandelier and whupping the bejesus out of two or three dozen of Org's henchmen, our hero, Prince Cgnoroth the Dazed, shows Desiree how to solder, braze and do simple repousse. To show her gratitude, Princess Desiree invites Cgnoroth over to her tent for a little annealing and hardening and then.... TO BE CONTINUED"

Then after a post about the use of cementite as an adjective.

"ah, what, indeed, differentiates a spring from a bar of steel from a spring? Hmmm? A certain tensile resilience, nay, a veritable carboniferous tensility in amongst the old molecules, an innate unwillingness to remain a lumpen hunk of dead cold ahrn, but instead an implacable yearning leaping eager urgency to snap back! As the Guruissimo his very own self notes, if it ain't got that swang, it don't mean a thang. How about dropping by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and hieing thee down to the armoury gallery, wherein thous mayest dig the crossbows-- now there are some springs what are springs!-- and the horsies bedecked with plate and the helmets and the mail.

Now, back to our story: when Desiree had no sooner poured old Cgnowhatshisface a flagon of brewski and had slipped into something more comfortable-- and even more revealing-- than that sweaty leathern jerkin, she leaned toward him and murmured, "Tell me, Cgnoski, however do you get that twangy zip into your crossbow, you big handsome old blacksmith, you?" "Aw, shucks, Dee, it ain't nothin' to it, really," he stammered. You just heat it up past the transformation point and then you quickern' you can think about it, you dunk it just right so the Martensite and the Austenite...." Just then, a trumpet blared in the camp and the thunder of hoofbeats and the clatter of armour rent the quiet of dusk. The evil Org's men had found them! TO BE CONTINUE"

"Mark, I'm busy here trying to help Desiree get old Cgnothur to hurry up and figure out how to make springs and recognize body-centered structure when he sees it, poor sap, so's he can manage to handle Org's evil designs. So, just as a temporary measure, just until you find a new anvil-- you leave this one alone, now, you hear!-- what if you take the hardie tools over to the leg vise and stick 'em in there when you need to smite upon them?"

After a query about the fantasy he was writing. . .

"fantasy? what is this, how you say in your language, "fantasy?" I merely channel the muse is all, and she, beguiling creature that she is, conjures up scenes from my past life, long, long ago, when as Cgnothur, or whatever my name was then, so many centuries I no longer recall for sure, I helped the fair Princess Desiree unravel the mystery of upsetting, riveting, and patinating after which she invited me to help her to.... TO BE CONTINUED"

And then a suggestion that he had had a bit too much. . .

"Bong hits? Bong hits! Sirrah! These epic tales are distilled from the mists of nothing but the purest of oxy-acetylene fumes, beheld solely in that rare heady perfume of 6011 flux as it crackles off into the ether. Bong hits, indeed! Anyway, hardly had Desiree and Cgnothur begun to get all sociable and friendly-like, as I was saying, than out in the courtyard there arose the ominous clatter of armour. "Shucks, hon, I guess we better pass for tonight on that hot-splitting demo I was going to do," Cgnothur said, drawing his great double-edged sword. "Gollyreeny, Cgnothur," Desiree said with a delicious shiver, "that's some shank! But put it away. I have a better idea." Quickly, she slid back her pile of matched Louis Vuitton luggage, to reveal a tunnel leading down out of the yurt, and tugging at Gnothur's heavily muscled smithly arm, she led the way to escape. Reaching up to pull the luggage back over the entrance with one hand, Gnothur reached in the now stygian darkness for Desiree with the other. "My goodness, Cgnothur," Desiree exclaimed, "maybe we can do some hot-splitting tonight after all!" TO BE CONTINUED"

-- Cracked Anvil (AKA John Neary)

Hopefully John is with his friends as he put it "Chastity Dangerfield, Yummi DeLisch and henchperson Swarf, timewarped cozily back in the Dizzy Club on Holabird Avenue in the 50s, drinking Gunther, smoking unfiltered Camels, playing shuffleboard-- and not about to leave. Certainly not for any place as nutty as the America of the 21st Century."
- guru - Saturday, 10/29/11 13:34:05 EDT

More about our friend John Neary:
While very vocal, John was a very private person. He rarely posted on-line under his real name. He never posted a working e-mail address (often using tongue in cheek addresses such as However, he traded many emails with his friends using his wife's email address. . . I once threatened to register and setup that email address for him. . .

Our friendship began with a long discourse on our Guru's den about how to disassemble a nearly rusted to ruin Royersford Excelsior drill press. His last email to me just a few weeks ago was information he had found about the the same. . . His drill press is listed on our Tailgate page. I would have bought it if it was not on the other side of the country.

Many of John's responses to questions were much more serious than the above ramblings. Not only were they direct and to the point but they often included multiple references.

Having been a journalist in the 1950's John was very sensitive about censorship or even the hint of it. Cracked Anvil left on permanent vacation when I suggested that the soft-porn nature of many of the posts were not appropriate for anvilfire and asking if he could tone it down a little. I even offered a special Cracked Anvil forum but the damage was done. If he been alive he would have had something to contribute to our free speech discussion.

One serious bone of contention between John and his wife was his collection of junk. The following is a post on the subject. I hope that all his friends in New Mexico do a good job of relieving his widow of every trace of rusted iron while at the same time vindicating the value of it all.

My wife-- literally-- bursts into tears when she even comes within eyeshot of my stuff. The other day, when I picked up a hundred or so perfectly gorgeous sheets of rusted corrugated roofing over at the landfill, you'da thought I shot her puppy. She absolutely, positively, categorically, despises junk. Can't stand it. (And to her, and to most women, it's ALL junk. Why, I even built a perfectly lovely fence around it out of really handsome cargo pallets to spare her the indignity of having to see it, and guess what...? Right, she hated that, too. Other day the propane engineer comes to see about this new gas line, and he loves the place, calls my scrap pile a candy store, etc. Does this and other similar reactions sway her? Not a bit. Do her feelings prevent her from coming over to ask if I might have a thing, you know, that would work to, um.... Ha!
-- Cracked Anvil
Royersford Parts Diagram
- guru - Saturday, 10/29/11 15:47:52 EDT

RIP, indeed...: We'll miss you, John! If I ever get my time machine working properly I'll visit you in Baltimore.
Alan-L - Saturday, 10/29/11 16:05:27 EDT

RIP John Neary : Damn! I lose another. A good friend I've never met face to face, but John and I exchanged many dozens of emails over the past several years and I always was trying to find the resources to make the trek to visit him on his mountain top, but somehow never quite could. I regret that, but I truly cherish the exchanges we had, the humor we shared, the rants we so often found ourselves diverted to and our congenial conspiracies to solve the world's problems.

John was one of a kind; a master wordsmith, a keen observer of the human condition and possessed of a marvelously perverse sense of humor. My world is a somewhat grayer environ when I realize that I'll never again get one of John's quirky missives late some night, serving up tasty morsels of wit and wisdom in his inimitable style.

If Elysium has even one lamppost, John will probably be found leaning against it, a cigarette hanging from his lip and one eye squinted as he passes wry comment on the progress of the hereafter.

Requiescat in pace, old friend. We'll meet one day, I feel certain.
Rich Waugh - Saturday, 10/29/11 16:24:12 EDT

John Neary and I shared e-mails, and I consider him a friend. We discussed many things, and he turned me on to some great books.
Rest in Peace my friend
- ptree - Saturday, 10/29/11 19:35:43 EDT

Miles Undercut: I didn't know him at all other than his posts here, but they were, every single one, a 'keeper'.
I used to look forward to whatever he had to say.
RIP Miles.
- Tom H - Saturday, 10/29/11 22:22:14 EDT

John Neary AKA Miles Undercut: Sorry to say my earlier brief "obit" for John was fairly cold and straightforward. I suppose that is the nature of such writings. Perhaps I can make up for it.

I was fortunate to know John in person as well as through e-mailing. I would like the readership to know that he was in every sense a big man, as in "Big Bad John" and John Henry. I did not ask, but I believe he was about 6' 8" or so. He had to special order his shoes which size was in the late teens. Besides physique, he was big intellectually, as his writings show. He told me that he wrote a novel or two, but I never ordered them, so I can't comment. John worked his way through Harvard; he averred that it was aa struggle. I believe that he was a third (?) generation Irish American. He said that his grandfather, on his death bed, was hollering "Don't take me back!" ref the Potato Famine. John was brought up a Catholic, but whether he stuck with it, I can't say. He had "last rites" as a kid, I think because of rheumatic fever. He also had a touch of polio as a boy, just before the Salk vaccine became available. He was proud of surviving the last rites, something he loved to relate. Besides being a writer, John was a talker. He would regale us with nearly constant chatter, sometimes allowing us to get in a word or two. He would tell stories, sometimes repeating himself, but no matter. John would sometimes get upset if someone disagreed with one of his core ideas. He would write or say, "Scroom!" [Screw them!]. At one time, John was studying up on entropy. I don't know whether he got deeply into the math of it, but the upshot was that he made a sign for his place: "Watch Entropy Happen." John, with his wife, Joan and their boys, lived on the lower part of some high country about 15 miles north of Santa Fe. That area was heavily wooded with Ponderosa, Juniper, and Piñon trees making John deathly afraid of using a coal forge because of sparks. He therefore used his gas forge for most of his work.

I teased John once about his ability to use his hands for manual work after being so long a writer. He said that during and after his college years, he worked as a carpenter's helper, and that he knew "stick framing" inside out. So the use of the hammer was not foreign to him.

A brief example of John's sense of humor. In the 70's, he made a sign and put it next to the family's dirty clothes basket. It was in the form of a 180º gauge. It said, "Test Your Strength." On the left hand dial, Zero, "Clothes on the Floor." In the middle, fifty, "Clothes Hanging off the Edge of the Basket"; and to the right, 100, "Clothes in Basket."

John and I were nearly age mates. He always said that we were "29 and holding."

I can tell you that they broke the mold when John came on the scene. He will be sorely missed by my wife and me.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 10/30/11 09:20:18 EDT

John Neary AKA Cracked Anvil and Miles Undercut: It is always difficult to sum up one's friends in words and especially when that friend was a writer of John's caliber.

John could have continued to work as a writer in many genre's ranging from the metaphysical to romance novels. A quick bookfinder search lists numerous books in his name (or another John Neary??) as well as co-authored books when at Time-Life. But I have a feeling that he gave editors a fit and that tension is probably why he retired from writing other than his anonymous posts here and many letters to friends.

I have collected a handful of John's posts and added them to our Tips of the Day.

Of the books listed an interesting title was "Whom the Gods Destroy", Macmillan Pub Co; 1St Edition edition (October 1975). Called A brilliant evocation of paranoid psychosis. This book eloquently describes one man's experience with descending into paranoid psychosis, and does so in such a well-written, gripping, subtle way. . .

As an interesting side note, in 1969 the Original Star Trek had an episode titled "Whom Gods Destroy" about underground asylum for the criminally insane. The title is supposedly based on a quote often misattributed to Euripides: "Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad." But I wonder if it wasn't inspired by John's book?

A classic Neary one-liner,

"Anybody uses, makes, sells a leghold trap ought in all good conscience try it out on some protuberant part of his/her own bod first to see if it works humanely." - John Neary June 1999, Hammer-In.

- guru - Sunday, 10/30/11 12:43:27 EDT

Correction: John posted in his real name in the early days (60 times or so from 1998-2000). Then 250 times as Cracked Anvil in 2001-2002, and too many times to count as Miles Undercut.
- guru - Sunday, 10/30/11 13:36:34 EDT

Another correction: Hyperbole. Neary was 6' 4", not 6' 8" as I previously guessed...this according to local journalist, Frank Clifford. But Geez, Neary seemed that big to me, especially since I'm 5' 7½" in my sock feet.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 10/30/11 15:56:23 EDT

Hmm I do not know it that was my type on the book copyright date or differences on book finder. . .
- guru - Sunday, 10/30/11 18:45:40 EDT

On quotes, one I really like, but have not found the source of: "An upset [in an athletic event] is merely the failure of reality to live up to expectations".
Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 10/29/11 19:13:54 EDT

I had no idea...... Jock, those quotes are something out of Heavy Metal or Conan. The graphic vocabulary he used took me there. He will be missed. His notes about his scrap pile made me smile and remember mine before it had to go bye bye. I remember how happy my wife was as the scrappers drove away.... and how sad I was.
- Nippulini - Monday, 10/31/11 09:26:29 EDT

Wives and Scrap Piles: My goodwif is happier now that most of my scrap is out of sight on another part(s) of the farm. Also since the rise in scrap prices, I can tell her that it's "worth hundreds of dollars" in scrap value which somewhat soothes her. Also, it's not "scrap" or "junk," it's "stock."

It may be ugly, but it's out of sight and actually can be converted into cold, hard cash! That's enough to win any woman's heart! ;-)
Go viking!
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 10/31/11 12:07:12 EDT

Scrap Collecton: I call mine the "collection of future oppurtunities". Luckily for me, it is mostly out of site in "the field of future oppurtunities" well screened from view by trees:)
ptree - Monday, 10/31/11 13:48:39 EDT

I too knew John as a friend in person as well as on-line. I have watered the trees up at 7000' off the "Neary Wing" at his place and turned down his pile of old bike frames multiple times.

I do have several pieces of RR rail from a cattle guard he had scrounged and was gifting to me as I visited him. The old mine or bridge timber he gave me is slated to be buried in my shop extension as my main anvil stump.

I'm sorry that the price of gas had stopped my recent visits; I had just been thinking about how to work one in recently and now read this.

He was quite a raconteur with a wide range of interests and a limitless capacity for coffee. He had built a lot of the hardware for his place up in the woods and I remember how upset he was when they county paved the road past his place without even asking him!

He was an artist; I cannot call him a throwback to more bohemian times as much as a survivor of them, bearing their marks into the present age for the edification of us younger people. He was generous,

He is and will be missed!

Thomas Powers
Thomas P - Monday, 10/31/11 14:49:08 EDT

scrap pile : I just took a pretty good load of used horseshoes to billings montana and got $180 a ton for it ... paid for a new drill press and belt sander . . . . just my little way of helpn out the economy
nj pawley - Monday, 10/31/11 15:45:51 EDT

website: If anyone out there has pictures of their work on Facebook I'm trying to put together a cool place for that kind of stuff I've got pictures of some of my shop tools and stuff on there...thanks.....oh I love my ka 75 air hammer !
nj pawley - Monday, 10/31/11 15:54:20 EDT

Scrap and More Scrap:
We have named my friend Josh Greenwood's collection the "Petersburg magnetic anomaly." When he moved to his current location several decades ago he took over 50 tons to the scrap yard (when scrap was MUCH MUCH lower price than today) and recently cashed in with a couple significant loads. Some of that included a 13 foot diameter table vertical turret lathe (a very sad day) and the frame for a 750 pound Chambersburg self contained hammer. Looking around his place you could hardly tell. . .

I have had very little I was willing to scrap. Most of my "stock" is in structurals (I-beams, H-beams, heavy angle and plate). I still have an estimated 5 to 10 tons to move. . .
- guru - Monday, 10/31/11 16:38:45 EDT

John Neary: I was blessed to have had several good jawbone sessions with John. We would sit over coffee in his kitchen and just talk about anything and everything. I mentioned to him that I had read something about his "Whom the Gods Would Destroy", and inquired as to whether it was still available. He told me that he wished he had not written it, and admonished me to forget about it. It was, in his estimation, the most depressing thing he had ever done. I took him at his word. I shall remember him as a valued friend, and cherish the memory of him.
- 3dogs - Tuesday, 11/01/11 01:03:59 EDT

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