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December 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

How was the first hammer eye punch made?:
Between a hard place and a rock.
- Frank Turley - Monday, 11/30/09 18:31:43 EST

Early stone hammers often had a grove in their exterior surface and flexible wood bound around that. With such a hammer you could forge an eye punch!

Just think of the fun of using wooden sticks for tongs when welding blooms into usable metal!

Thomas P - Monday, 11/30/09 19:07:41 EST

First Tools. . .: "Bootstrapping" from one level of technology to the next is an interesting progression. Odd things can happen though. The Chinese skipped past the wrought iron era immediately to cast iron. This jump in technology retarded their industrial development.

Stone age workers DID make hammers with drilled holes. A very slow process using a wood "drill" and sand to drill stone.

Stone was also sawed using rawhide and sand, then bronze wire and sand, then steel and sand. . .

The earliest super precision surfaces were made by hand, lapping three plates against each other in a series that eventually made them all "perfect".

It is pretty amazing what early machines that were mostly wood could do and what man has done by hand.

In the early electrical era there was no such thing as buying insulated wire. The metal wire could be gotten but the experimenters and inventors had to hand wrap cotton insulation on their wire. Making simple coils and motor armatures was a huge undertaking.

- guru - Monday, 11/30/09 21:24:02 EST

Thanks: Just wanted to say thanks for a great site.
- Eric W. - Tuesday, 12/01/09 08:50:04 EST

"Primitive" Technology: I am constantly amused by "Ancient Astronauts" and "Advanced Lost Civilization" programs and their basic assumptions that (1) our ancestors were idiots; and (2) the only way to get things accomplished is to use modern, superefficient methods. They tend to disregard the advantages of large labor pools and "all the time in the world" in accomplishing tasks of monumental scope. (Even with modern construction techniques and equipment, including tower cranes, it took about 75 years to finish the National Cathedral in Washington, and {as I recall} a cathedral in Milan was finished a few years back after over 300 years of start and stop construction.)

Plus there's a big difference between ignorance and stupidity. People knew a lot of practical things for staying alive. An early medieval swordsmith may not know "why" things happened when he hardened and tempered a blade, but he knew "what" was happening and how to do it.

I think my favorite is the pyramid. A cow in a field is pretty good at building pyramids. It is an inherently stable structure. In Egypt there are stepped pyramids and bent pyramids and all sort of "learning curve" examples. It's just a matter of scale (REALLY BIG AND IMPRESSIVE!) which can be a factor of time and labor force. Just because we're still arguing about exactly how all of this was done, does not require the intervention of "advanced" folks for an explanation. For some things there may have been simple, brute force methods; for others, simple elegant methods, and others may have just taken a lot of time, skill and care because "...that's the way we do it."

Now, show me an inverted pyramid, and I'll be really scratching my head. ;-)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 12/01/09 11:29:48 EST

Inverted pyramids have been built. But only by modern man using steel. . .

The other "ancient mystery" I hate related to pyramids is that the Egyptians came to the Americas and brought the idea with them. . . bull hockey.

As Bruce noted they are an inherently stable structure. To see a pyramid or cone in action dump a load of anything, sand, gravel, manure. . . and it forms a stack in a triangular section that is proportioned according to the strength of the material and its size/shape. Then there are the examples from nature, hills and volcanic cones.

Why aren't "pyramids" round like a cone? Simple. It is easier to build any structure using square cornered rectangular bricks or cut stones. It is much simpler to make nearly flat surfaces than conical ones.

Not everyone made pyramids but all made pyramidal or conical roofs. . Even ants build conical hills. These are natural shapes that one would find anywhere there is intelligent life, even other worlds.
- guru - Tuesday, 12/01/09 12:19:55 EST

My favorite "old tech" tool is shown in a French? woodcut that pictures a cannon hung muzzle down from a tree over a boring bar fixed to the ground, and the cannon is being twisted around by a team of draft animals.
Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 12/01/09 18:21:16 EST

Sounds like rotating the fire to roast the pig. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 12/02/09 09:47:37 EST

We were taught in school that that was in fact one of the first machining jobs done. I don't know how true that is though. We were also told that it was done underwater to cool the tool.
- TMurch - Wednesday, 12/02/09 09:55:09 EST

Marc: That sounds like a lathe, with a 6-HP motor. Actually it may make sense. The weight of the cannon provides the down-force.
- Marc - Wednesday, 12/02/09 13:15:48 EST

Must remember - It's the "SUBJECT:" line, not the "NAME:" line.
- Marc - Wednesday, 12/02/09 13:16:43 EST

Marc---it's always about you!

Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/02/09 20:16:44 EST

Boring cannon barels: Judson, I have seen an illistration of an enormous wooden structure that was intended to bore two very large (coastal gun size) cannon barrels at a time.
The machine worked just as you say,the barrels were susspended from above and rotated over the fixed spade drills.
The greatest advantage to this set up would be that the great quantity of chips created would fall out of the bore and not get packed up around the tool.
There was no mention of any kind of "coolant" being used.
It would indeed be very slow going, probably a week of steady work to make a bore the size shown in the artists rendering.
From what I remember the spade drills were mounted on a carrier that was advanced verticly and, I would think that the barrel casting would have been cored for the rough bore.
Frankly though, the illistration looked more like an engieering sugestion the an actual working machine, like someone trying to get around having to build an even bigger engine lathe to do the job conventionaly.
I have been on a few big lathes over the years and if I had to turn cannon barrels with cast on pinnions I would mount the outbord end in a segmented ring that would run on a set of rollers fixed to the bed like a seady rest.
The ring would have internal legs to "adjust" the work to find center and be held and driven from a fore jaw chuck at the head stock.
The only big draw back to deep boring on a horizontal set up is the need to wash the chips out of the bore.
I have bored up to 48" diameter tubing for paper making rolls just this way.
- merl - Thursday, 12/03/09 10:39:34 EST

hackers: they been caught yet jock?
- pete - Thursday, 12/03/09 16:10:21 EST

Many jobs were done the hard way in our mind only because we have 200 years of invention behind us.
- guru - Thursday, 12/03/09 19:31:20 EST

Cannon barrels: Well I think they are interesting!
philip in china - Friday, 12/04/09 09:12:22 EST

the comments in this image (if I did it right) are self explanitory
- JimG - Friday, 12/04/09 09:34:33 EST

cannon boring: obviously I didn't do it right...
JimG - Friday, 12/04/09 09:35:11 EST

Cannon Boring and Cooling: I think TMurch may be thinking about the Rodman patent to cool and strengthen cannon barrels from the inside bore. (...or not. ;-)

Richmond National Battlefield Park has its primary visitor center at Tredegar ironworks, the premier gun foundry for the Confederacy, and our rangers there are very informed about the manufacture of cannon up through "The Late Unpleasantness." After talking with them a while I learned stuff I only thought that I knew. :-D
Richmond National Battlefoield Park
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/04/09 09:53:56 EST

In the early part of the Industrial revolution there were some real cludgy machines and some real works of art. In new England there is an old linen mill that has a lathe built with a hand carved black granite base and ways. The rest was cast iron and steel. No telling how well it worked but it was intended to be an ultimate machine and no expense was spared.

In the old Appomattox Iron Works in Petersburg VA (a foundry operation from the early 1800's) they had an interesting collection of spade bits with half round wooden sides bolted on. I do not know if they were to help center the bit or stiffen it. But they were unusual and I have never seen their like anywhere else.

In the foundry they had a huge wooden jib crane a'la Diderot. It tapered toward the ends from the middle and had mortise and tennon joinery almost identical to the grist mill crane in our old mill. The jib is about 20 feet long and covered a huge circular area. This crane would have handled a large bull ladle that was swung over up to a hundred molds at a time built on the sand floor.

Their pattern collection included steam engine pulley's up to 12 feet in diameter.

- guru - Friday, 12/04/09 10:03:21 EST

Tredagar Ironworks:
The sad thing about this place is that it was ALL there in 70's and by 2000 it was nothing but lots cleared for parking. EVERYTHING there had to be recreated.

Right next to the park was the Hollywood power plant with three or four huge turbines. This old hydroelectric plant ran off the old navigation canal water and had been rebuilt in 1995-96. It supplied most of the power for the streetlights in downtown Richmond VA. A year or two later it was being torn down for a parking lot demanded by one of the paper companies who threatened to move their headquarters out of Richmond if they didn't get it. . . The last of the Tredegar buildings went with it.

Wrought Iron was shipped to Tredegar down the James River from dozens of little bloomeries all over central Virginia. This trade started in the 1700's along with the shipping of tobacco. The iron was unloaded directly at Tredgar from the little wooden Bateau and later iron canal boats. This was the ocen port end terminus for the James River canal system that Washington and Jefferson had planned on connecting to the Ohio via the New River. The Civil War and the coming of the railroads ended the use of this system.

Great history. But no one seems to care until the day after the wrecking ball takes down the last vestige or that interesting past.
- guru - Friday, 12/04/09 10:56:43 EST

More. . : Many of those little bloomeries all over VA either had no hammers or very small ones. Rough blooms were shipped down river and Tredagar made them into bigger pieces then rolled them into bar and plate.
- guru - Friday, 12/04/09 12:02:04 EST

Jokes: A blacksmith, a carpenter, and a potter walk into a bar; and the Blacksmith plunks down a massive metal mug and says:

"I forged this out of a solid block of stainless steel with just my five pound hammer and the strength of my arm. I've developed a mighty thirst. Fill 'er up!"

The carpenter places a beautiful, carved wooden chalice on the bar and says: I turned this on my lathe from an incredible wooden burl from a tree that was nurtured by my great-great-grandfather, and then spent weeks carefully carving each detail in a harmonious whole to bring out the beauty of the wood; and you have the honor of providing the first drink. Fill her up!"

The potter looks at his two companions, and at their work, and turns to the bartender and says: "You know; I make crap that can hold a pint of beer all day long, then work over a hot kiln all night long. Just grab a mug out of the freezer and give me a beer!"

Because, in the final analysis, that’s why you walk into a bar in the first place!

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/04/09 15:52:08 EST

A horse in the bar.: The horse walks into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender says, "Why the long face?"
- Frank Turley - Friday, 12/04/09 15:59:04 EST

Invisible Man: "Doctor, there's an invisible man in the waiting room!"
"Tell him I can't see him."
- Frank Turley - Friday, 12/04/09 16:01:25 EST

A man walked into a bar,

And said "Ouch!"
JimG - Friday, 12/04/09 16:07:14 EST

A sandwich goes into a bar and orders a beer.
The bartender says "I'm sorry, we don't serve food here"

A baby seal walks into a club.
- Nippulini - Friday, 12/04/09 16:24:33 EST

A giraffe walks into a bar and says "the highballs are on me"
- TMurch - Friday, 12/04/09 18:01:41 EST

A blind man walks in to a bar - He didn't see it coming.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 12/04/09 19:56:38 EST

"Three blacksmiths walk into a bar..."

"befor the boss comes out of the office and yells for someone to clean up the stock rack..."
- merl - Saturday, 12/05/09 05:58:19 EST

a blacksmith walked into a bar, he had at least 6 different identities, and was agressive towards all the other blacksmiths,

This blacksmith got up and left the bar as he diddnt feel very comfortable with it, and found another place to hang out.

Possibly if the barkeep could enforce just one idetity per customer others may start to hang out again..................
- john n - Saturday, 12/05/09 07:46:01 EST

Did you hear the one about the amputee blacksmith? He didn't have a leg vise to stamd on.

- Nippulini - Saturday, 12/05/09 07:58:07 EST

What does a glazier do when he's got no glass?
Mike BR - Saturday, 12/05/09 08:13:30 EST

Impartial Judge: So far, Murch's giraffe wins.
- Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/05/09 09:31:30 EST

Alright, I've been waiting for an excuse to post this joke. It involves religion, but I really think that if anyone if offended, it will be due to the length of the joke. If I'm wrong (or even if I'm right), I apologize in advance.

The walled city of Verona, C. 1000 AD. There's a problem: the city is growing, but the walls aren't. The people go to the Bishop, and the Bishop decrees a solution. The Jews have to go.

The Jews go to the rabbi, and the rabbi manages convinces the Bishop that the matter should be resolved by public debate. That raises another problem: Eeryone will attend, but only a few will be able to hear. After much discussion of who should sit in the front row, it's decided that if everyone can't hear, no one should hear. It will be a silent debate.

On the appointed day, the Biship takes the stage and swings his arm out from the shoulder. The rabbi points at the ground. The Bishop raises one finger. The rabbi rasies three. The Bishop eats a wafer. The rabbi eats an apple. The Bishop throws up his arms in surrender, hugs the rabbi, and walks off the stage.

The Christians gather in the catherdral and ask the Bishop how the rabbi won the debate. The Bishop explains that he swung his arm, signifying that he speaks for the Lord. The rabbi pointed at the ground, saying that the Lord is everywhere, and is with him as well.

The Bishop pointed out that there's only one Lord, but the rabbi responded that Christians worship a Trinity -- surely there's room for both groups to find favor. The Bishop ate the wafer, signifying that Jesus died for the Christians' sins. But the rabbi ate the apple, reminding him that we're all the children of Adam and Eve. And he's right, says the Bishop -- we can't throw our brothers from the city.

Meanwhile, the Jews gather in the synogogue to celebrate and ask the rabbi how he won. The rabbi's just as confused as they are. He explains: "The Bishop said 'You've got to go.' I said 'we're staying right here.' He said 'you've got one week to leave.' I said 'it'll take three.' And then we broke for lunch."
Mike BR - Saturday, 12/05/09 10:31:16 EST

Differences - Communication:
Mike, that is not a religious joke, it is a human communications joke. And it illustrates an important point, WORDS are much less confusing than symbols.

I absolutely HATE the windirt GUI and its reliance on hard to decipher symbols. Worse or symbolic road signs. Imagine this sign:

At the top a pair of vertical parallel lines. At the bottom random dots. In two seconds or less tell me what it means. . . . .

The top is a symbol for a paved highway with solid no-passing lines. The bottom is the symbol for rocks or gravel. The meaning in only THREE words.


So you are driving down a curvy little country road and you see this ODD sign. You look BACK trying to decipher it thinking "What the HECK does that mean?"

In the time you have thought the question you have traveled 100 feet or more. . . .

And DROPPED off the end of the pavement. . .

This is a true story about a REAL sign used in Bedford county VA. I was sideways in the gravel looking at the 10" drop that was the "End of Pavement" that the mysterious sign symbolized before I realized its meaning.

Words communicate where symbols can confuse. SO, where GUI's use mysterious symbols the good ones also use words so when you roll over the symbols with your pointer (I dislike mice as well). The word tells you what the symbol means. . . but you dare not LEARN this as the symbols are not standard and may be replaced with another. Words work.

In the good old DOS days or bw. (Before Windirt), menus used words and often a single letter short cut. SO, instead of taking your hand off the keyboard and pawing at the desk you just typed ONE letter.

Words are one of the things that seperate humans from animals.
- guru - Saturday, 12/05/09 17:50:48 EST

best joke...: Frank, I was going to give your invisible man the nod but, I must defer to Mike BR's "bishop and the rabbi" debacle... very clever Mike.
- merl - Saturday, 12/05/09 21:23:06 EST


Thanks. I wish I could take credit for thinking that up, but one of my law professors told it in class years ago.

I actually think it *is* a religious joke. If you could figure out how to tell it the other way around, a bishop treating a debate with a rabbi as a business negotiation just wouldn't be as funny. Hopefully it's mild enough not to offend anyone, though.

Mike BR - Sunday, 12/06/09 16:16:34 EST

Can 'o worms: A blacksmith, mathematician and an engineer are asked what pi is. The blacksmith says "It's some ratio of my dividers here and the outside of a circle". The mathematician says "It' 3.141592653....." and the engineer says " It's about 3.14 but better round it up to 4 just to be safe."
- Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 12/06/09 17:42:01 EST

There is a very similar "silent debate" in a zen story told in "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones"

Thomas P - Monday, 12/07/09 15:11:33 EST

It would take some work but I can imagine a similar argument between a craftsman who works with real world materials and an philosopher who deals in nothing but logic and thought.

While the differences in religions and perceived (or actual) stereotypes make the story with religious references easy, the fact is it comes down to differences in philosophical language and misunderstood symbolism.
- guru - Monday, 12/07/09 16:41:31 EST

Differences in Pi? Mmm... pie, I love pie... ;)
Judson Yaggy - Monday, 12/07/09 18:21:33 EST

I'd have said: "Blacksmith Pi = 3"

Thomas P - Monday, 12/07/09 19:51:37 EST

No; "Blacksmith" pi = 3 + a smidge!
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 12/07/09 20:36:44 EST

What happened to fractions?: 3 1/7th.
- Frank Turley - Monday, 12/07/09 21:34:44 EST

Maybe 3 on the inside of the curve and 3-1/2 on the outside?

I've read (in a somwhat questionable source) that some ninteenth century state legislatures enacted laws setting pi at 3! I guess that's what you get for letting lawyers near a math problem.
Mike BR - Monday, 12/07/09 21:35:15 EST

PI: If you are interested in the subject read Petr Beckmann's "History of PI". This is a great book filled with mathematical history as it follows the definition of PI from ancient times to the modern PI hunters who have chased the number to thousands of places. The book includes the first 10,000 places.

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841972 . . .

The ancients knew that PI was between the limits of 3-1/7 and 3-1/8. Yet the authors of the Bible give it as exactly 3 (description of the Salton Sea, a round device not geographic feature).

In 380 AD the value 3 + (177/1250) = 3.1416 was published in India and in 264 AD a Chinese mathematician Liu Hui calculated 3.14159.

Yes, There were some laws to officially establish PI that were based on bad mathematics in order to thwart the PI hunters. The specifics are in the book. . .
- guru - Monday, 12/07/09 23:32:04 EST

PI: What is the formula for CAKE?
- Brande - Tuesday, 12/08/09 08:57:11 EST

Somewhere between pie and muffin
- TMurch - Tuesday, 12/08/09 10:08:52 EST

- Brande - Tuesday, 12/08/09 16:55:45 EST

PI: As an April Fools joke someone said that a few of the South Eastern Pa. school districts had approved the teaching of the "biblical" value of PI (3). This was shortly after they had approved the teaching of "creationism". It did cause a small ruckuss.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 12/08/09 21:02:39 EST

Copenhagen Conference 2009: Copenhagen Climate Conference 2009

Started today with all its lies and false facts. They disposed of the real scientific studies.

I hope Obama doesn't sign us away to this communist consipracy.

One of the Nations to benefit from Climate reparations is China. They have all of our money and industry now. Lets see if they get the scraps too.

I just wrote a book on another forum. I don't want to get into the details. You all should know about it.

This will compromise our constitution, further deplete the US funds, give the UN control over the presidient and much more. Obama was given a free Nobel Peace prise so he couldn't turn this down.

The EPA was given full power in the US yesterday to control all enviornmental pollution restrictions. This will cost our country trillions more and bankrupt what little industry is left.

I am barely scratching this. Maybe you good fellow Blacksmith's will do some looking of your own and get the word out.

- Brande - Wednesday, 12/09/09 00:39:06 EST

We will be moving to the NEW server. Expect delays and needing to clear your cache maybe more than once.
- guru - Wednesday, 12/09/09 01:35:08 EST

We are on the new server. It seems to be running OK. There are some minor bugs. The web-ring system is not working right but should be fixed shortly. I have other things to test. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 12/09/09 10:17:13 EST

After some tense moments, dozens of support tickets and LONG hours we are moved to our new bigger "better" server and I think everything is working now.

This is our fourth server and ninth hard drive (we wore out several). Besides anvilfire and our web-rings that includes all our affiliate sites like,, a couple dozen blacksmithing organization sites and some business sites for a total of 120 sites. Now I might be able to get to some other things. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 12/09/09 13:21:45 EST

Thanks for all your hard work Jock.
Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 12/09/09 17:41:04 EST

yes guru, thank you

p.s. donde esta el screw ?
- TMurch - Wednesday, 12/09/09 21:42:09 EST

Yep, I keep forgetting to make that drawing. . . I'm sure you could use the money. The other half of the job is to make a new ram for the tailstock (to go with the screw). The Morse taper has been worn or reamed too many times and a standard shank goes too far in. I have the expensive part, the #3 Morse taper reamer. It had a very shallow keyway groove as well. I haven't found the key (ram spun) but it needed to be slightly re-engineered to be bigger.
- guru - Wednesday, 12/09/09 23:34:54 EST

West Anvil: Open call to anyone with a copy of AIA by Postman. Can you tell me anything about 'West' anvils, apparently made by the West Steel Casting Company of Cleveland, OH? Does a serial number of 273501 help?
bassackward schmidt - Thursday, 12/10/09 01:27:46 EST

West per RP-AIA:
By observation they made anvils from 100 to 750 pounds. Cast from vanadium steel. Logo a triangle point down with a W and sometimes "West". No literature found. While they may have sold some directly such as the very large size their primary outlet was a number of hardware distributors.
- guru - Thursday, 12/10/09 08:19:59 EST

History in Iron, Underfoot: A nice article on the cast iron manhole and utility covers and grates in San Francisco. I've noted similar varities and interesting designs in a lot of cities that I've done projects in.

Carl Nolte, SF-Gate
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/10/09 10:42:13 EST

Tuyere iron styles: Reading the Guru's Den this morning about shaking down the clinker/ash grate on a coal stove reminded me that our school janitor called the stove grate a tuyere. I googled and found zilch about stove grates being called tuyeres, but under this url, there was an interesting photo of an old forge style:
That prompted me to look in my 1894 tome of a catalog, 1,070 pages, "Manning Maxwell & Moore." There are 18 styles of "Tuyer Irons" depicted, each with its own name, probably based on patents. The one in the url is termed a "nozzle tuyer." There is even shown a "water tuyer," the cast nozzle that is still common in Britain today for side blast.

That reminded me of a good video I have of iron smelting by the Dogon in Mali, Africa, "Inagina the last House of Iron." There are maybe 10 or 11 tuyere orifaces near the base of the furnace, but no bellows. Apparently, the draft is atmospherically induced because of the heat within the furnace.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/10/09 11:07:10 EST

Sp. "orifices": correction
Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/10/09 11:14:25 EST

Frank, did you read that article in "nature" about the monsoon wind driven smelters in Taprobane, (Ceylon/Sri Lanka) back over 5 years ago?

Thomas P - Thursday, 12/10/09 11:31:17 EST

Blast and Draft: Our big old coal furnace had clean out doors in the heat exchanger at the top. You could open these and watch the hot ash and flames rush toward you then turn and go to the back and up the chimney. Opening the door made little difference in the draft as the chimney was some 50 feet high from that point. The furnace had a blower but that was for control, not because it was necessary.

James Nasmyth talks about his childhood days making bronze castings in his bedroom using the draft from the coal furnace grate to make enough heat in his home made crucible furnace which sat on the hearth.

An image of Ancient Greek smiths (labeled iron furnace - probably working bronze) shows a furnace about a man's height and no indication of bellows or blower.
- guru - Thursday, 12/10/09 12:21:32 EST

Sub-contractor Wanted: To make a long story short I've stopped selling the propane forges made out of 20-lb Freon bottles. Reason: It requests making two .0330 holes in standard 1/2" copper tubing. Worked well for several years, but within the last couple of months either the drill bit slips back into the pin vise or breaks. Tried doing one today. Broke five drill bits. Throwing the drill against the shop wall probably didn't help much either.

Anyway, I'm looking for someone better equipped than I am to drill these holes. I'll furnish the copper tubing. Just need the holes drilled where indicate.

If interested contact me with a price quote.
Ken Scharabok - Friday, 12/11/09 13:05:05 EST

How well did the shop wall hold up?
- Nippulini - Friday, 12/11/09 15:11:23 EST

Ken's drill job: Ken E-mail me your needs. I may also be able to offer a simple drill jig.
ptree - Friday, 12/11/09 18:25:58 EST

Ken: Hi Ken

You need a pivot drill like is used for watchmaking. They can be made without to much trouble.
- Brande - Friday, 12/11/09 19:39:35 EST

Drilling Copper:
Copper and Brass both require special bits "cleared for brass" to perform well. Copper is also gummy and tends to stick to bits. A lubricant is probably needed. Machinery's handbook probably has specifics for copper.
- guru - Saturday, 12/12/09 11:16:04 EST

.0330 is a number 66.
The best way to do this is with a small, precision drill press, and a good albrect or similar keyless chuck that goes down to zero.
Hand drilling these, as it sounds like you were doing (unless you tossed your drill press against the wall, in which case you have really been eating your Wheaties) is a recipe for frustration.

A drill press like this little Dumore, for example would do it just fine-
370303768915 (ebay item number- currently at $41)
you would need a good small drill press vise, of course, and V block jaws wouldnt hurt. Might need a new chuck, too.
But you dont need a lot of power, or a huge 1500lb machine.

Servo also makes a line of really great high speed precision drill presses. Usually more expensive- often $300 to $700 used, but deals can be found.

I have found that, in tiny holes like that, its not worth it, or really feasible without a multi thousand dollar drill grinder with built in microscope, to custom grind copper drilling bits. Instead, I use CoolTool, a relatively nontoxic lube available from places like MSC in 4OZ plastic bottles for 3 bucks or so, run my drill fast, and toss em when they get dull.
The trick is in good workholding- the vise needs to be bolted to the drill press table, the part tight in the vise.
- Ries - Saturday, 12/12/09 11:37:50 EST

OH- and buy good quality drill bits.
Hardware store number size bits run the gamut.
Order a full package, 12 at a time, of a good american brand like Cleveland Twist or Chicago Latrobe or Precision Twist.
Maybe $2 to $3 each, from someplace like MSC, and worth it.
- Ries - Saturday, 12/12/09 11:41:26 EST

man I'm having the hardest time trying to get this new fangled contraption to work, I can't seem to get my words to appear. If by some stroke of luck this makes it to you, I would like to know if I'm a registered user (no not that kind) to roam freely around this site.
- larry hagberg - Saturday, 12/12/09 12:04:54 EST

For what it's worth, I had reasonable luck drilling holes that size in steel with my cheap Delta drill press. I took apart an old cordless drill, and removed the keyless chuck complete with its shaft. This chucked into my drill press and held drill bits down below .032. I hooked one ond of a tiny bungee cord (maybe 3/16) diameter onto the feed lever of my drill press and pulled on the other end. Watching the stretch of the bungee cord helped me regulate the down force.
Mike BR - Saturday, 12/12/09 12:52:35 EST

Larry, currently we do not require registration to post in the Hammer-in or guru's den.

Unless you did something weird like cut and paste from an MS word processor that embeds codes we filter out Or try to embed HTML which we also filter out everything should work. If you enclose things in angle brackets that is an indication of HTML coding and it disappears into the either.

Then there are dozens of odd browser settings other than the default that will prevent them from working. If you have changed or raised the security settings then the results are on you. . .
- guru - Saturday, 12/12/09 13:01:56 EST

pivot drill: Ken

hole drilling

Guru hit the nail on the head.

Good info from everyone.

Ries method of making small drills would scare off anyone as he pretty much points out. A pivot drill can simply be made on a watch lathe without all the things Ries talks about. It is daily common practice. I know you experts in making normal and big things are generally at a loss in knowing methods of micro work. Although I am familar with one of those tool grinder comparator contraptions. They are not needed.

What you would have great success with is a pivot drill. Perfect for brass and copper. Easily made. Then a micro drill press as everyone mentions. I use one with my watch tools, it has an XY table.
- Brande - Saturday, 12/12/09 22:38:40 EST

Picky little holes.: In production. . . . Punching copper can be done with a soft steel lower die and a cylindrical punch. In tubing the die would be a rod that just slips into the tube and is supported as part of the punch guide. Push the tube against the stop, pull the lever (or peddle) and "plip" you have a nice smooth hole. If the part is designed properly to have the two holes the same distance from the ends. . plip, plip. . and you have both holes.

It would take better part of a day (or less depending on your shop) to make this little fixture but it would make thousands of holes a lot faster than drilling them. It could be operated under a small arbor press, in a vise or be designed to give it a whack with a hammer. I would probably set up under my little 4 ton OBI punch press.

On the other hand. . . in my Dad's shop I would setup on the Chinese Bridgeport clone, use a small milling cutter and the DRO.

The trick to making this little job worthwhile is quantity. Minimums of 20 parts but preferably 100.
- guru - Saturday, 12/12/09 23:34:57 EST

The pin vice I have been using is about 3/8" x 4" with an small chuck at one end. Drill bit about 1 1/4" long is held in it, and then pin vise held in a 1/4" drill. Problem is you extend the end of the drill bit out too far it will break. However, mostly it seems like the pin vise simply won't hold it securely to where the drill bit slides back into the check. I've had to reclamp the drill bit so often perhaps the chuck simply is worn out from clamping it to try to get it tight.

On my forges by gas delivery is 1/2" standard copper plumbing. I drill out the open ends a a 1/2" T and then pound a longer length of pipe into it to be centered. My holes then go in 1 1/8" from the edge of the T. Holes are first dimpled slightly. It is secured upright in bench vise for drilling using the pin vise in the 1/4" drill.

I tried using that size drill in one of those numbered holders (for example see Finding King item # KIT-10153) but too much of the drill bit extends out from the holder and they break.

So fustrated at this point I've stopped selling these forges.
Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/13/09 01:32:05 EST

Passing thought: To secure the length of copper pipe within the T I drop solder in the open end and allow it to melt around the inside of the T via the propane soldering torch. Just put it aside to cool. By doing so am I maybe hardening the copper to both sides of the T?
- Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/13/09 01:39:08 EST


Unless you have beryllium bronze or something almost as exotic, copper doesn't harden by heat treatment. If you get it up to a low red, you anneal it (it doesn't make any difference how fast or slow it cools from that point). Heating to soft soldering temperatures shouldn't affect the hardness.

It sounds like you're chucking the bit on the flutes. Probabaly the bit rotated inside the chuck and damaged it. Try a new chuck.

You should really go to a drill press so you can clamp the bit above the flutes and not have it break. You could also look for bits with shorter flutes.
Mike BR - Sunday, 12/13/09 08:37:29 EST


Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Since temperature is a bit warmer in the shop I decided to experiment. I had been putting in the dimple before drilling with a small nail set punch I had sharpened to a point. Couldn't find it (temporarily stored in the shop's resident black hole). Noticed a small wood handled awl with a very sharp point. Punched the dimple nicely. Hummm, two more light tapes and I had the hole. Just cleaned it up on inside of the pipe with a round file, then used the .0330 drill to clean it out again. If you hadn't mentioned punching it wouldn't have occurred to me. And, WAY quicker than dimpling and drilling.
Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/13/09 11:21:22 EST


Glad the Guru got you going again. Happy forge making!
- Brande - Sunday, 12/13/09 13:16:28 EST

Since Ken doesnt even own a drill press, much less a watch lathe, and is not a machinist or a watchmaker, I think the idea of him making his own pivot drills is a bit of a stretch.
And a no.66 pivot drill, the size he needs, is about $30 new, as opposed to $2.50 for a decent jobber bit.

I think his main problem is trying to drill tiny holes with a cheapo 1/4" electric hand drill.

I have drilled a thousands of holes under a no. 20 or so over the last 30 years, and never had a problem drilling copper, or stainless, or brass, or other metals with a regular off the shelf two dollar drill bit, as long as the bit was sharp, I used a lube, and the workpiece was firmly clamped down.
Which I think are basic rules for drilling most anything.

Before learning how to make a pivot drill, I think one should learn to freehand sharpen drill bits on a grinder or disc sander- which will probably get used about 1000 times more often, save money, and result in better holes.
I hand sharpen bits down to maybe a no. 30 or so- but a no. 66 is pretty ridiculous.
Now maybe real watchmakers can do it without a microscope, but my 54 year old eyes sure cant, even with my bifocals on.

I still say the way to get accurate holes is just to hold the work firmly, and use a drill press....
- Ries - Sunday, 12/13/09 18:17:42 EST

Drill press forKen: I am with Reis on the hold it tight and use a drill press.
For Ken, Harbor freight has little bench top drill presses on sale all the time for $39.99. Got one a couple of years ago, mounted to a swing arm from the wall. It will run those little bitty bits and actually has a nicely tight spindle. Used it today to drill 2 split crosses for the hangers. I hve run a 3/8" bit but that is about the limit on these.

And Ken, there is a HF in Louisville, right off I-65, if you are heading thru.
ptree - Sunday, 12/13/09 18:58:11 EST

Ken has a drill press. And I think a vise. But his style of working is the crash and bash school of metallurgy. . .
- guru - Sunday, 12/13/09 20:39:20 EST

Hi Ries
Good points. I was just thinking in terms of making him pivot drills if he had continued trouble. Looks like he has it all straightened out now without any real cost. I can sure appreciate his frustrations. I am glad he is going to continue making his forges for people. I like his minimalist methods of making do with what he has. I bet this helps him keeps his cost down on his tools.
- Brande - Sunday, 12/13/09 21:16:19 EST

"But his style of working is the crash and bash school of metallurgy." That is both funny and accurate.

Actually I now have two drill presses. One is an Asian import (Northern Tools as I recall). Other is a Rockwell. Just happened to luck up on that one. On Sunday the last Quad-State someone had it with a make offer sign. Told me I couldn't embarrass him with an offer. I said $60 and he quickly accepted. Nice piece of equipment and its shorter height works better for my occasional shop helper (a 60+ year old rather petite woman). She comes in about once a month to do production runs of parts, such as cutting, deburring and drilling. Perfect for my situation. She shows up on time and cleans up the shop afterwards. $8 an hour and I'm not complaining.

Recall reading on forum someone mentioned someone they knew would buy drill presses when they were cheap enough and then set them up to do one job.

A blacksmith can't have too many vises (or vices for that matter). Two leg vises, one elcheapo import I use to hold welding jobs and a heavy-duty older one. On the latter there is something to be said for mass.

And, yes, my production philosophy is KISS. Modify jobs to the tooling you have. Works reasonably well for my talents.

Among my most used tools is a Hossfeld #2 bender. I simply wouldn't be doing some of the items I offer without the ability to mostly form eyes. Paid $200 for it and it came with a plastic milk carton of dies.

And I believe in sub-contracting. I need to fit 3/4" black iron water pipe into 1" black iron water pipe. Won't quite go in due to welding seam. A local machine shop will lathe down the 3/4" for $1 per item for cash. I use to make up my forge front and back plates. Now use a place in Nashville to cut them out for me. I figure by the time I would buy stock, cut to length, champher corners, weld together, grind welds down and then drill mounting holes it is pretty well break even, although a whole lot less effort on my part. One of the guys in SOF&A has two small lathes. I've mailed him pipe sections which needed internal lathing for delivery at Quad-State. Again low cost as for him it is an occasional fun job.

I know someone who is a retired machinist in Delaware and still has access to equipment. He has done some jobs for me.

Known as 'networking'.
Ken Scharabok - Monday, 12/14/09 02:37:58 EST

Ken, I was speaking of drill press vises. Good ones are hard to come by. The typical tilting ones are useless for most drilling. I've got a great one made by Wilton (their 1460, Drill Press Vise - I think, but mine might be larger. . ). I'd like two more.

If you don't have good work holding tools for a drill press you are losing 90% of its value. Fixtures can be made or standard furniture used to great advantage. But a vise is fastest for most jobs.

Subcontracting to those who are more efficient is THE way to do business when you can find the people. Today many complex metal cutting jobs can be done very efficiently using LASER, plasma and waterjet. In many cases this includes holes that might otherwise be drilled.

There are quite a few shops around with CNC machinery that can make machined parts very reliably and often much cheaper than you can do so yourself. However, there are minimum quantities that are efficient for the shop and consistency in ordering keeps both you and them in business.

On the other hand. . . the general decline in the manufacturing segment of our economy has greatly reduced the number of small shops that can subcontract parts. At home we had two relatively large shops and several small shops that we could have make everything from multi-ton weldments down to miniature turned parts and now all but one of them is gone and that is a small shop that mostly produces its own product line. . . The machinery we built in the 1980's using mostly local subcontractors would have to be spread across several states today.

Those shops employed a couple dozen skilled people. . . and they bought steel and supplies locally. Lost jobs, most business, more lost jobs. . . It is a terrible downward spiral.

There is a minimum of a shop that a small manufacturer should maintain. While a lathe or a milling machine might not be profitable on a daily basis there are often jobs that are too small to send out but are necessary to stay in business. AND in this economic climate you might have to do it yourself, AND used machinery is cheap today.
- guru - Monday, 12/14/09 09:40:06 EST

Don't forget the hobby folks; Many of them are happy to pick up a paying job every now and then; *BUT* you need to make sure it is within their skillset *AND* they can deliver to a timetable.

I have a friend who is a hobby machinist, large lathe; bridgeport, shaper, horizontal mill, etc---I will cheerfully hunt scrap for him and do the odd smithing job to trade for the odd machine job I need done. We both profit from the relationship!

Thomas P - Monday, 12/14/09 10:58:09 EST

I thought buying more tools was the whole point!

Sure, I can make more with less- if I have to. But its no fun at all, compared to having an entire shop full of tools.

I had a buddy once, who built crane booms when the Northwest Logging industry went to hell in a handbasket in the late 70's. His boss would buy up $200,000 tracked cranes for $25,000, from bankrupt loggers, which had 20 foot articulated claws on them, and pay my buddy Ely to make 150 foot lattice booms for em. They then sold for $100K and up.
A company in Alaska bought one, and tried to use it to raise a 100 foot barge that had sunk in a river, and filled with gravel. A 100 ton crane is no match for closer to a thousand tons of water, gravel, and steel. The nice new boom bent, before the operator backed off.
So, in the middle of winter, they flew Ely up there, telling him they had all the tools he would need, to rebuild the boom.
He did it in an open shed, in 20 below temps, with a stick welder, a gas torch for preheat (all hi carbon steel tubing) and, as he told me, "a framing hammer that had had its handle run over by a D9, and a tape measure missing the first 37 inches".

Kind of the ultimate example of making do with less tools.

Me, I can never have too many tools. And I never have much trouble finding an excuse to buy a new one.
- Ries - Monday, 12/14/09 12:56:13 EST

hey tools are great, but making do with what you have (in my mind) is the soul of being a blacksmith. but, tools are great, but not all of us have the room. :D
bigfoot - Monday, 12/14/09 18:13:20 EST

Room, what's that? Just set the plasma table on top the platten and the vibratory finisher on the wood working bench. . . If it doesn't have electrics you can store it outside. . .

The problem I have now is a dang crane I can't get off my truck so I can bring some more stuff home. . .
- guru - Monday, 12/14/09 21:48:48 EST

yeah, but outside storage is an eysore to the land lord (mom) ;)
bigfoot - Tuesday, 12/15/09 06:37:50 EST

The guy I know with all the machine tools takes longer to clean off the machine he wants to use, and create space around it to effectively use it (moving other machines sometimes); than the time it takes to do the work, including setup!
Dave Leppo - Tuesday, 12/15/09 08:53:09 EST

Sounds like my workshop. You;d be lucky to find a horizontal surface with more than 1 square inch of cleat space.
- Nippulini - Tuesday, 12/15/09 08:59:45 EST

Outdoor Storage:
In arid parts of the country outdoor storage is often used. The problem comes when the weather turns bad. Everything is hunky-dory most of the year. . . when the wet season hits room must be found for anything important. . But the windy (blowing sand) season is often overlooked.

In industrial plants where we have had machinery, if the "reponsible person" is not around to find that space or to plead his case for indoor storage the machinery, no matter how valuable, may set outdoors all winter. We had equipment with a glove-box arrangement stored outside. . . Mice decided the rubber gloves tasted good. Between rebuilding the bearings and replacing the gloves under field conditions we made more money on the repairs than on selling the equipment in the first place. . .
- guru - Tuesday, 12/15/09 13:30:13 EST

Storage: Being blessed with nothing near level ground, I built my shop at the top of the hill. Every so often I add another leanto going down hill. Started with a 24' x 32' shop. Added a 16'x32 leanto, then a 16'x32 then a 22.5 by 35' leanto then a 12x16' leanto. all on roof pitch. You DON'T want to be standing downhill of the roof edge in a rain storm:)
Lots of storage:)
ptree - Thursday, 12/17/09 18:51:57 EST

Temporary Structures:
Most building codes have exceptions for "temporary structures". If they have no foundation they do not need to meet codes. Foundationless buildings include pole barns and skid based utility structures. In some places there is a limitation on size and number. It's worth while to look up the rules for your area. Note that subdivisions or "developments" may have have different rules than the locality.
- guru - Thursday, 12/17/09 21:40:43 EST

the soul of blacksmithing...: I believe the "soul of blacksmithing " as it was put,
is not making do with what you have as much as it is making the best use of any and every means available to do the job and, there by, make a living.
This is what being a "traditional blacksmith" is all about. Making a living by his or her own whits and whatever means can be had.
While I don't think anyone can have "too much" shop and storage space, available open space can come with the curse of clutter.
I am blessed with a great deal of high quality shop and storage space, as much as I need anyway.
I also find myself in the same boat as Nippulini, most of the time I can't find any open space on the benches or shelves to set another thing down.
Once or twice a year I'll have to do a complete swamping out just to make the space usable again. As soon as I'm done, I decide that now that I have some clean bench and shelf space I can add another project...
Restraint and moderation in everything I supose...
- merl - Thursday, 12/17/09 22:51:56 EST

weekly cartoon: I like the weekly instalment of "The Old Welder" but,
I would dearly like to se a run of the entire "Bull of the Woods" series. A real classic in my opinion.
- merl - Friday, 12/18/09 00:15:26 EST

Bull of the Woods is available in books and the copyright is well defended. Even reviewers have been prevented from using a single sample on-line.

Our goal is to have enough cartoons to have a daily. Besides the 32 Old Welder Cartoons, we have the two from Full Tilt and one Rich Tennent (The Fifth Wave). Then we have over a dozen of our own in progress. Dave Baker keeps coming up with gags and we have several artists drawing them including myself. We have three completed and more in progress. We have asked for more Old Welder but do not know how that is going to work out. I'm looking into some other sources.

These all have considerable cost. Some are licensed for a limited period, some bought, some drawn on contract. Most have to be scanned, processed and setup. This is turning out to be the most expensive part.

Just something else we have had in the works for a while. . .
- guru - Friday, 12/18/09 02:11:55 EST

Bull of the Woods, Cowboys, and Mothers getting Gray Hair: J.R. Williams' humor was subtle and gentle. As a kid reading the papers, it was not always my favorite cartoon, but as an adult I very much appreciate his work. A little off topic perhaps, unless you've shod horses and live in the West. I have Williams' book, "Classic Cowboy Cartoons." The man was gifted with so dang much insight; he had the cowboy subculture nailed just as much as he had the machinists' "number." His "Why Mothers get Gray" was very close to home. His kitchen scenes looked just like the 1930's - 1940's kitchen in our house. Ah, nostalgia!
Frank Turley - Friday, 12/18/09 09:56:47 EST

Temporary Structures: There is an ongoing debate as to what is ""real property" in the NPS and what is "personal property." Very important for accounting purposes. So the subject of temporary and permanent structures comes up from time-to-time regarding house trailers, modular buildings, storage structures, radio antennas, ad infinitum. My rule of thumb that I've promulgated is that "If you can steal it, even if it means bolting the wheels back on, it's personal property; if you have to demolish it, or use heavy machinery to haul it all away in pieces, it's real property." The more in terms of foundation and plumbing and other permanent attachments to the ground, the less a structure is likely to be considered "temporary" or "personal property." Mobility is the key. If it's really important, talk to a good real estate lawyer; otherwise, discretion or good planning is key.

Just my tuppence, based on years of experience. ;-)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 12/18/09 10:19:23 EST

Temporary Needing a Permit: A local saw mill built a large shop building as a "pole-barn" because they could avoid a building permit and it showed off their new line of salt treated lumber. Then they poured a concrete floor around the poles and still met the description of pole-barn because this is common in some barns. But THEN they wired the building and called the local electric company to hook them up. . .

"Has it passed inspection?" Well, ah, no, we didn't have it inspected. . "Get it inspected THEN we will hook up the power". .

The building inspections department knew what was going on and had a field day with it. Do you have an electric permit? No. . . Is it new construction? Yes. . . Do you have a building permit?. . . No. . . They let the saw mill guy think about it over night and had a great laugh at his expense.

The inspections guys were "good ol' boys" and inspected the wiring AFTER letting the mill guys file the paperwork and pay the fees.

When in these situations think about the fun the other guy might be having at your expense. And when trying to get around the rules, be sure you look at the WHOLE and how others may view it.
- guru - Friday, 12/18/09 15:54:20 EST

Bruce; just attended a talk about the large number of poorly maintained structures that NPS has out at Chaco Canyon; y'all ought to jump on that! Some of them haven't been painted for over 500 years! *none* of them are up to current code.

Thomas P - Friday, 12/18/09 16:09:55 EST

I knew a guy who the city would not let him add a shed on the side of his industrial building in an industrial neighbourhood. I think it had something to do with minimum parking for the size of the building or setbacks. So he asked could he could build a fence? no problem. He ased if there were any restrictions on materials and could it be 10' tall. That was fine. So he built a 10' heavy duty fence out of I beams and steel siding. A few months later he started worrying about the rain on that fence how it might rust it. So he ran a little roof from his building to the fence to protect the fence. So his outdoor yard just happens to no longer get rained on. The crazy thing is he got away with it.
- JNewman - Saturday, 12/19/09 00:06:02 EST

Maintenance Backlog in NPS; Bending the Rules: Ah; but that's NPS-owned property, not my department! ;-)

JNewman: Sometimes even bureaucrats admire inventiveness. As long as the structure is drive-through, my guess is that it can be viewed as part of the parking area. Sometimes you have to bend and stretch, but not break the rules.

Now, if I can wade through the 12"-24" snow and fight the gale-force winds in the whiteout conditions today, I'll check out my less-than-300-square-foot-workshop-that-has-some-hot-working-capabilities-for-metal and make sure it hasn't fallen down.

Y'all be careful out there! :-D
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 12/19/09 09:43:30 EST


Maybe you could give classes over at DoD. See PDF page 22: (Not exactly the same issue, but close).
Mike BR - Saturday, 12/19/09 11:02:54 EST

Snow: Had a foot of snow here last night. First serious local snow in more than a decade. At mom's place in Virginia they had 14-16". Also the only serious snow in a couple decades. Ours will mostly melt today but North of us its going to be on the ground a good while.

The news and weather folks are calling this a blizard or major storm. . . But this is a minor bit of snow compared to when I was growing up in the 60's. Every year we had snows like this a couple times a winter and smaller almost weekly snows starting at the beginning of December until mid February. Some years more, some less. The snows faded in the 70's and we had more ice storms than snow and in the 80's we still had snow but only a couple times a winter. Since the 90's we have had many snowless winters.

I don't want to get into the global warming or not debate BUT I do wonder what the heck we would do if the Eastern weather patterns returned to the way they were in the 50's and 60's. If one snow is a disaster what would a real winter be called? Today we have ONE snow and the highway departments announce they are out of salt and over budget. . . ONE snow, when it could be a dozen.
- guru - Saturday, 12/19/09 12:34:43 EST

Buildings and codes:
Some of what you can get away with has to do with your neighbors. But the locality makes a big difference. Some localities use aerial photos to spot new construction that did not have a permit. Now they use satellite photos. If you notice a nice bright NEW photo of your area in Google Earth there is a good chance its your local building inspections or property tax department's money at work. Today, a good satellite photo taken in winter on a clear day can spot a new dog house.

It used to be that you could get away with more out in the country than in the city. Today that is reversed. Map overlays make it easy to see changes in the country. In the city one building merges with another and the difference between a paved lot one year and a shed roof the next is hard to tell.

The best plan is to know the rules and only bend them to your needs, not break them. But it also helps to stay below the radar and not antagonize your neighbors.
- guru - Saturday, 12/19/09 15:13:16 EST

smelt pics: is there a place on here i can post pics of our solstice smelt ?
- pete - Monday, 12/21/09 18:54:13 EST

Pete, see mail
- guru - Tuesday, 12/22/09 01:38:23 EST

Calendar of Events:
The Calendar of events is now open for 2010 entries. Let your organization editors know.
- guru - Tuesday, 12/22/09 11:58:12 EST

Merl, I too, when on active duty carried a Remington rand 1911A1, and the 203. Except when I carried a pig:)
I am of the stout persuasion and as a youth, I was mostly upper body.. so...
That old Remington was loose as a goose, but shot fine. Rattled pretty bad when shook:)
My first Remington Ball and cap was a brass frame, built from a kit. Sadly stolen when the wife left a window open at the house. Now have a store bought steel frame.
ptree - Thursday, 12/24/09 08:27:20 EST

ptree,"Except when I carried a pig"???
Carried a pig!? didn't you have a mess hall?
Yeah, my service sidearm was pretty loose too but, that just means it doesn't need to be cleaned as often right?
Hey while I got you on the line, I have a question.
You said you make gardening tools, specificly trowels from RR spikes.
My mother has a digging tool made in Korea that looks very much like a small plow blade on a short handle.
It looks like it was hand forged from one piece of stock and I can see no forge welds on the tang either.
Are you able to draw and spread the entire trowel out from one single RR spike?
- merl - Thursday, 12/24/09 13:16:47 EST

Merl, the PIG I refer to is the M-60. I had a love hate relationship with the pig. Loved shooting it, hated carring 23# for days on end in the field onlt to have to clean it prior to turn in.

I get the entire trowel out of one RR spike. The spikes have about a 5/8" square cross section, and since I have a powerhammer, I made an agressive top fuller tool that I run down the blade section to start the spread. Then I have a much milder fuller top tool, and then the edge of the die. I get 3 or 4" blade width pretty easily, yet have enough thickness to have them not bend. The center of the blade I always leave thicker like a spine.
Helps to have that steel good and hot, use lube on the tools, and if possible finish with a flatter struck by a sledge.
After the first 100 they get easy:)
ptree - Thursday, 12/24/09 13:56:39 EST

Merl, I did a "Blueprint for across the street, now in the un-accesible high numbers, but I think I still have all the photo's. E-mail me if you like and I will forward some in process photos.
ptree - Thursday, 12/24/09 13:58:28 EST

PTree; Heavy PIG: Hey, my mail byrnie only weighs 22.25#! And the weight is nicely distributed. Nothing ever gets better for the Poor Bloody Infantry!
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 12/26/09 21:26:32 EST

Naional Park Service: Hi Bruce...My son finally has his first full time appointment with the NPS..He's at Mohave desert and loving it...He's been at the Grand Canyon,Lake Powell,Jersey Shore and I think a few other places..he's both Law Enforcement and a Paramedic...Great job and great life for a single guy...I don't know if he'll be doing this forever but hiking the most beautiful country for a living isn't bad..Happy and Healthy New Year...Arthur
- arthur - Saturday, 12/26/09 23:39:14 EST

In the Market for a Simple Metal Lathe: OK, has come to the point I see a metal lathe would perhaps pay for itself over time. My dominant requirements are to either bore or drill out the inside of 1" x 3 1/2" black iron pipe sections so they fit over standard 3/4" black iron pipe or to take off no more than 1/32" on the outside of 3/4" black iron pipe. Essentially just looking for something which will do the job. Don't need bells and whistles. Anyone within a reasonable driving distance of West-central TN with one for sale, including hands-on instruction on usage?
Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/27/09 02:31:58 EST


I've had good luck using a die grinder to remove the seam from the inside of 1" pipe so it fits over 3/4". A reamer in a drill press might work as well. And it wouldn't take long to remove 1/32" from the outside of the 1" on a belt grinder.

Of course, a lathe would have many other uses as well.
Mike BR - Sunday, 12/27/09 08:38:48 EST

Ken, I will keep an eye on Craig's list locally. There was a nice small Southbend a week or so ago, complete for $250
- ptree - Sunday, 12/27/09 09:21:17 EST

Ken: How long would one length of DOM tubing last you? Also on your holes, you can get screw machine drills that only have about 3/8 inch flute length from places like J&L/MSCDirect. I'd also use a little Dremel tool to get the requisite speed. You'll need the drill chuck accessory.
- grant - Sunday, 12/27/09 13:23:47 EST

ptree: Thank you. I hadn't thought about checking on Craigslist.

grant: What is DOM tubing?
Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/27/09 14:21:02 EST

Small Lathes: Prices are all over the map. A lot depends on the available accessories but sometimes not.

Recently a local state trade school dumped 3 nice almost new European made lathes for $1500 each. The only accessory item they came with was the chuck that was in them. While a good deal for the lathe it would cost another $1500 to set them up.

I bought a small 6" Craftsman Lathe on ebay complete with a full set of accessories for $350 but I had to pick it up. Most of these machines are being parted out. . . To be of any use it needs a good stand.

Bench lathes are commonly available and the prices are fairly good. However, the better the bench the better the machine. Many folks mount these on old tool cabinets or chests of drawers. Neither is sturdy enough and will shake and vibrate, often coming apart. I put my little 6" lathe on a heavy 3 legged bench built from 4x4x3/8" angle, a piece of 6" H-bean and some 1/4" steel plate. The result weighs three times as much as the lathe before putting the tool chest with parts and accessories on the shelf.

A heavy wooden bench will work as well but needs to be very solid.

If a used lathe is offered without chucks and accessories then it should be very cheap OR you should hold out for another. A bench lathe on a bench should be examined closely to see if the bench is worth anything.
- guru - Sunday, 12/27/09 15:12:23 EST

This outfit has 6 foot length of 1" OD X .760 ID for $25.00. DOM is "drawn over mandrel" Has a pretty smooth bore.
- grant - Sunday, 12/27/09 16:01:00 EST

I am with Grant- Ken should just buy tubing the size and wall thickness he needs, have his local steel supply shop order it in.
I do this for things like candlesticks- I prefer 7/8" ID 1/16" wall tubing for standard tapers, and a 3/8" ID 1/16" wall for Menorahs- each is available from my local yard, usually no more than a week wait, and do the job perfectly.
To remanufacture pipe or tubing, that was originally made on a multimillion dollar line, is kinda silly- you cant compete with their economies of scale.

Dont get me wrong- I love lathes- I own a honking 8000lb 18" x 60" machine that has chucks that weigh almost what I do- but I dont think that the learning curve is worth it for what Ken wants- I spent 2 years in night school at machine shop classes, and would still consider myself barely above hobby level. Real machining is an art, a science, and a lifelong study.
Too many cheap used lathes are worn out, missing essential parts, and orphaned by companies that have been out of business a half century or more.
IF you know what you are doing, there are deals out there- but Ken wants a working tool, not a second career...
- Ries - Sunday, 12/27/09 18:45:08 EST

Arthur & NPS: I worked on the current HQ for Mojave National Preserve; although I never got a chance to visit the new digs. They're now under our Western Division space managment folks in Denver- a good crew!

LE & paramedic; he has his work cut out for him, and I imagine he keeps pretty busy. I tell folks that our rangers do it for love; rather than money. They are a very dedicated crew. MOJA is a pretty big park with a surprisingly large variety of natural and cultural resources. A desert isn't all about hot sand! I hope he enjoys it.
Mojave National Preserve
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 12/27/09 21:03:11 EST

BTW, Ken asked about DOM tubing... DOM means Drawn-Over-Mandrel, as opposed to seam welded.
- Nippulini - Monday, 12/28/09 08:27:42 EST

20 Mule Team Wagons: The mention of the Mojave Preserve reminded me of the the town of Mojave and Death Valley NP. I visited the eastern side of Death Valley in the long ago, pre-internet days and saw the 20 mule team borax wagons on display. I remember measuring the iron tires on the rear wheels; they were 1 inch by eight inches! The rear wheels were seven feet tall. By hearsay, I understood that the wainwright shop for the wagons' manufacture was in Mojave. When I was in Mojave, I went to the local library and could find out zip about such a shop. By googling, I found a good site, The Borax Museum. A brief mention is made about the man who constructed the wagons, William Delameter...nothing more. Perhaps the curatorial staff knows more about the manufacturing aspect of the wagons.

I was curious, because the scale of the work would require quite an enterprise. I also wondered whether any of the shop or its equipment might have remained.
Frank Turley - Monday, 12/28/09 10:57:59 EST

Nip, actually most DOM is seam welded then drawn over mandrel.
- grant - Monday, 12/28/09 11:03:21 EST

Frank; if you ever get the chance check out the circus museum at the John & Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota Florida. They have a a selection of circus wagons including the work of one smith who would beef up everything on a wagon till it weighed 4 times as much as a regular wagon; but wouldn't break down!

Thomas P - Monday, 12/28/09 11:18:05 EST

Frank, just take Thomas to death valley with you some time (bring him back too please) that scrounger's nose of his will find one of those tyres lying less than a rod from the road :)
JimG - Monday, 12/28/09 12:03:27 EST

RE: Borax wagons--I believe the wagons were retired to static display or storage in the desert when subsurface deposits of borax were discovered near Mojave (the 20-mule team wagons were almost driving over the subsurface deposits at the end of their trip). They were refurbished in 1949 (?), the centennial of the white man discovery and naming of Death Valley, and used in parades and such for publicity, for a while. 1949 might have had some of the old equipment and wheelwrights around.

David Hughes
- David Hughes - Monday, 12/28/09 12:34:17 EST

Borax Wagons: Here's oem information for the Borax Wagons...
Twenty Mule Teams
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 12/29/09 09:28:05 EST

More Borax! We're making a BIG weld!: "oem"? Should be "some". Poof, then prost!

Here's an additional link on the subject from the NPS, all of which may be found wandering around in our Death Valley site at:

I love the picture of the fellows by the wheel at the previous site; just what Frank was talking about!

One of the things most people don't realize about early exploration is that a lot of the goods lumped under "spices" were actually chemicals such as borax and calomine and alum, used in processing metal and cloth and other useful things.
Harmony Borax Works
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 12/29/09 09:38:52 EST

Death Valley deaths: Veering a little off topic. My student, Barry Berman, from the early 1980's came to mind. Barry and his wife were camping at Death Valley in January, 1986, and both quite disappeared. Barry's father was the "Kaluha king," a man of wealth, and he hired private detectives, dowsers, and a psychic to help in the search. Late in the year 1988, a human skull was found by a hiker who reported the find to the rangers. A search in the area, seven miles from the campsite, showed two skeletons in a shallow grave. They were ID'd by dental records as the Bermans. Because they were buried, foul play was suspected, although no material goods appeared to have been taken from their vehicle or campsite. What happened is still open to question.

I remember Barry as a gentle sort who was a seeker of a way of life and also a philosophy and/or spiritual way. Before he came to me, he somehow got the notion to go to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA, and to study animal husbandry and range science, even though he was new to the subjects. Barry suffered mild culture shock when meeting all the cowboy types at school, and he decided that ranch life was not the route to go. He did, however, check out the large Cal Poly horseshoeing school which was on campus. As I recall, he took that class but did not want to become a farrier. Soon afterward, he found out about Turley Forge, and he found here, that blacksmithing was what he was seeking.

Barry did set up a smithy in Goleta, CA, and found a nearby ashram, the latter convincing him to follow an Eastern Indian spiritual path. I continue to think fondly of Barry, and if there is an upside to this tale, it is that he realized some of his dream.

Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/29/09 10:41:20 EST

Spell Checker: The subject comes up from time to time, hear is a little humor:

Eye halve a spelling checker
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marks four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My checker tolled me sew.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 12/29/09 18:48:33 EST


I like the poem. I don't know if it was in response to Bruce's typo, but it would have taken a heck of a spell checker to catch that one. We're *looking* for OEM information on the borax wagons (grin).
Mike BR - Tuesday, 12/29/09 21:44:52 EST

Mike BR: This has nothing to do with Bruce. From time to time it is mentioned that a spell checker would be handy on the forum, and the limitations are always mentioned, particularly with regard to technical terms seldom used by the general public.

The last time it came up, I had this poem but couldn't find it.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 12/30/09 20:13:28 EST

I should have known the poem wasn't in response to Bruce's post. I guess I was looking for an excuse to point out that Bruce's typo actualy made sense.

I used to hate the Microsoft grammar checker, but it does catch a lot of typos the spell checker misses. It doesn't help, though, if the misspelled word is the same part of speech as the one you meant to type. I'm still trying to live down the time the nice older lady in the front office noticed that I'd left the "l" out of "public"!

The other thing is that the grammar checker routinely used to find fault with my sentences even though there was nothing wrong with them. That almost never happens anymore. I hope the explanation's that the grammar checker got better. I'm afraid the explanation's that I've been bludgeoned into typing in Microsoft-speak.
Mike BR - Wednesday, 12/30/09 20:48:06 EST

Spell Checkers and Misnakes: Well, not even a spell checker can save me from bad proofing; I just discovered that we recently extended a lease to February 28, 2009. (Think about it... oh, yeah!)

Both I and the landlord had signed the amendment before she noticed the 1-year error.

Floggings shall be self-inflicted until we get it right. ;-)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 12/30/09 21:47:41 EST

Forum Spell Check:
Its EASY and works on virtually ALL Internet forms. Use FireFox. It has spell check and you can personalize it when techno speak doesn't pass. Its hint selection is not very strong but it works.
- guru - Thursday, 12/31/09 08:05:37 EST

Mike BR, I noted the bit about "during my last year of law school" in your post on the GURU'S Den. Note that I made no Lawyer jokes:) I can only tell them when in the right company as my wife got her JD in 1981 and my brother his in 1973. Oddly, when I was fresh from the ARMY, and running a dropzone on the weekends while in school, we had a large population of lawyers and law students from UK at the DZ. In fact I married one of those students the day after she and I graduated.
ptree - Thursday, 12/31/09 09:23:36 EST

poem: eye like the poem, did ewe rite it? kin eye steel it?
Knot reel steel, joust burrow it, aisle give ewe credit
- nysmithy - Thursday, 12/31/09 09:38:40 EST


Everyone expects me to know lawyer jokes, but the fact is it's been a long time since I heard a good one. So if you'd like to share. . .
Mike BR - Thursday, 12/31/09 15:57:39 EST

Poem: I just cut & pasted it, so if You don't mind stealing stollen goods, go ahead.
- Dave Boyer - Thursday, 12/31/09 19:34:50 EST

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