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Power Hammer : Hello, I'm an old fart in Bakersfield, CA that is getting back in to blacksmithing after a long absence. I've got a nice anvil, post vice and I am building a gas forge. I recently came into possession of a Schuyler Common Sense #2 Gunning Model power hammer. It has been sitting out side for a very long time. I would like to restore it to working condition. I have not found much information on the internet. I am looking for as much information as I can find on this hammer. Thanks in advance.
   Tor W. - Tuesday, 01/02/18 18:48:41 EST

Tor, "Pounding out the Profits" has about a page on the hammer. Have you checked the patent registry?

Atli; I was given an alligator last Saturday. Commercial version, I decided to remove the ridges and make it into a knife blade holding set to go with my snub shoeing tongs that holds tangs.

Mike S: you do know that the HC RR spikes are generally around the upper limit of Mild Steel right? Practicing on them is rather like paracting pie making using mud pies...
   ThomasP - Tuesday, 01/02/18 20:23:06 EST

RR Spike Knives : Thomas P.... It is easy to put a high carbon bit into a RR spike and make a decent knife. I don't understand why there are so many blacksmiths (or so called) that have to bash repurposing an American Icon for whatever they want to make.
   - Dave Hammer - Tuesday, 01/02/18 23:35:36 EST

Dave; unfortunately almost all the ones that get made do NOT have the needed high C piece in place and so they are making a mild steel knife. Many of them don't even know that they could make a good knife with a bit more work and mislead folks on the quality of RR spike knives.

I dislike misrepresentation; especially to one's self and even more so to one's customers!

I much prefer Ptree's RR spike trowels or coat hooks or BBQ tools, or...
   ThomasP - Wednesday, 01/03/18 14:24:04 EST

Slack-Tub : It comes from the word Slake such as to slake one's thirst.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/04/18 12:47:55 EST

Cool Forge :
Mike-S, It is quite difficult to trouble shoot forges without a full description AND knowing the quality of construction.

As noted by Dave Hammer, It could be too large. However, four 3/4NPT burners can run a fairly large forge, one is usually sufficient for a small forge. But IF you have too much burner you can end up with most of the combustion outside the forge. . . Balance is important.

Did you make of buy your burners? Many DIF burners do not work efficiently.

Dose your forge have doors? Two 10" diameter openings are HUGE for a blacksmiths forge. This size forge can have one end entirely closed and the other about a 4 x 4" (100mm x 100mm) vented door in the front.

Propane bottles are rates in pounds. A "picnic" size is 20 pounds. These are sufficient to operate 1 burner forges and VERY efficient 2 burner forges. The regulator capacity (if its adjustable) means nothing. What pressure are you operating at? Note that pressure is also a local (personal) reference point as gauges are notoriously inaccurate. But on this size forge with 4 burners I would say you need about 10 to 15 PSI for heat up and 8 for operation. A 20 pound propane bottle will only supply this pressure at volume for a few minutes (less time than it will take to heat up the forge).

Also as noted your insulation efficiency is a consideration. A forge this size should have a minimum of 2" of refractory blanket type insulation. If you have used hard cast insulation then you will need to increase your burners and need a LEAST a 100 pound propane bottle. We are currently building rectangular forges with 3" thick refractory blanket walls. . .

Lots can go wrong building a large gas forge. A single burner is sufficient for general bladesmithing (short of swords).
   - guru - Thursday, 01/04/18 13:22:45 EST

Guru arcvhive : Guys, does the Guru page have an archive any more? I can't seem to find a button or search function. Thought it used to have one.
   - Eric T - Friday, 01/05/18 15:27:02 EST

Eric, I've kept the files to setup archives but have been too harassed by life to set them up for a number of years. . .
   - guru - Friday, 01/05/18 20:59:26 EST

Job Skills :
There has recently been a push toward the trades since a college degree no longer assures one can get a job OR that everyone is suited to those types of jobs.

So what are the most important skills in the trades? 1) The ability to read manuals (research). 2) The ability to measure things. 3) The ability to draw and/or read blueprints.

Measuring accurately, recording and transferring measurements to whatever degree of accuracy is necessary and whatever units necessary are skills used in almost all trades. In most pf the mechanical trades you need to be able to use all variety of Foot/Inch and metric measuring devices including tapes, scales, verniers and micrometers. While the world is officially metric including the US. However here in the US we have billions of dollars worth of English measuring tools that are in use and will probably continue in use for all of our lifetimes or longer. If you have accepted the metric lie in school and ignored fractions as "hard to use" you will be in for a rude shock on the job site or almost any shop in the US. In many "all metric" countries they use English materials and hardware that require some knowledge of the inch fractional system.

Fractions are easy if you accept them as necessary and the base for all algebra. In mesuration it helps a great bit to know the decimal conversions of fractions. It also helps to understand the framing square (they are used in many trades, not just by carpenters). The standard framing square includes more than standard fractions. They include 1/8's, 1/10's, 1/12ths, and 1/16ths. Twelfths are handy in that they can be used to accurately measure 1/3rds and 1/6ths. They are also used in architectural work where drawings are (or were) commonly drawn 1/12th scale (1" = 1ft") and 1/12" = 1" when scaling the drawing.

Reading manuals is a constant process in practically all fields. IF you are bad at it you will not go far.

Drawing is a form of communication that is more applicable to some trades than others. However, it is often coupled with recording dimensions and thus communicates more than just shape. Back in 1860 James Naysmyth (the inventor of the Shaper and Steam Hammer) writes in his autobiography about his education in drawing and the importance of graphic language - Chapter 6 Paragraph 2. As they say, one picture is worth a thousand words.

If you work for yourself then drawing may be necessary to sell your work to your clients. In this case, the greater your artistic skills the greater the possibility of making sales (and a good income). Sketching or making diagrams can also be helpful in making quotations.

As I've said over and over, drawing CAN be learned. It just takes time and practice.

One can take classes to learn these things but one can also teach themselves. These three things can greatly increase your value it the job market. Think about it.
   - guru - Monday, 01/08/18 10:20:16 EST

Job Skills : Reading the Guru's latest post, I am reminded of a young man who came into our shop in Phoenix to apply for a job. He had brand new jeans and shirt with no burn holes, a brand new helmet,gloves, and a certificate from ABC school of welding. He was going to start at $10 /hr, which at the time was a journeyman wage. I interviewed him, and said I couldn't use him at this time. When He asked why, I took the tape off my belt, and said "Because you don't have one of these!"
"Why would I need one?"
"Thant's why I won't hire you!"
As far as drawing is concerned, Many times through the years, people would come into the shop with a third of a napkin with some chicken scratches on it supposedly of a truck bed or trailer they wanted built. I would discard it and starting with a new pad of paper ask what they wanted it to do?. Then I would make an isometric view of it. Invariably they would exclaim,"That's exactly what I wanted!".It took a long time to perfect this ability, and I never could understand the reluctance of people to use new or full size paper.
One guy did come in with sketches of a branding iron he wanted with his initials inside the outline of Arizona. I looked at them, and finally realized he had made them on a white barf bag! He had been flying and this was the only paper available.
One real problem in the Structural steel field today is Detailing. CAD programs have made drawings beautiful but the detailers have often never held a job, or worked with the product they are detailing. Years ago detailers served an apprenticeship which included actual handling of the beams, angles, etc., and understood the importance of accurate drawings. Often times now they just see numbers, kind of like an accountant, but do not realize how important it is that they accurately relate to the real world. Nothing worse the a half dozen beams hanging from a $300 per hour crane and none of them fit.
   Loren Tollefson - Monday, 01/08/18 13:19:07 EST

Carpenters Squares : I recently woke up and realized two of my older squares are tapered in thickness. One appears to have hand stamped numerals. Doing a little research the predecessor of Stanley , the Eagle Square Company forge welded two pieces of wrought until 1906 when 24" wide sheet became available. The tongue and blade thickness were tapered throughout their length for ease of use, first with hammers, power hammers, then eccentric rolls. After going to sheet with no welding squares were still tapered. Do we know when all flat squares became the norm?
   Andy Martin - Tuesday, 01/09/18 00:11:30 EST

Tapered squares :
I have seen old forge welded square but never had time to study them enough to notice that they tapered. My oldest square purchased new is a 50 year old Craftsman and its not tapered.

They square I use almost every day (for marking kaowool) is aluminum. The bright surface is much easier to read. The problem with aluminum squares is that they bend easier than steel. If you drop one you need to check it for squareness and adjust it prior to doing any critical work.

   - guru - Tuesday, 01/09/18 00:54:08 EST

Paper Napkin Drawings :
Back when I was designing and building machinery I frequented a small Italian restaurant that used disposable place mats. Many days I would spend the quiet time after lunch drawing on a place mat. I was often figuring out a detail or piece or computer logic. Once in a while I would take the drawings back to the office but most of the time I left them for the trash. Once back at the office I would commit the ideas I was working on to permanent drawings or code if not to memory.

Among some of my compatriots lunches and dinners evolve into design or idea sharing sessions so often that we never go out together without a sketchbook.

These days any of my sketches of merit get scanned and stored in project folders. I also often have CAD sketches in the same folders along with text notes and catalog PDF's. "Sketchbooks" are different than they used to be. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/09/18 00:56:31 EST

Centerline Slim :
My Dad used to talk about a fellow he had worked with that everyone called Centerline Slim. His "detail" drawings were not much more than a centerline with some dimensions.

There is an argument in engineering circles that says you only need two views to define a part. But my Dad had a simple proof that showed that every drawing SHOULD have three views. The drawing had two views, one round the other square. This should indicate a cylinder. But by adding a third round view the part is something completely different. It is cylindrical on two axiis. This is a curious little part but they can be machined - I've made them. The same can be demonstrated with two round views which would indicate a sphere. But the third square view makes it the little bi-cylindrical part.

This is a rare example but is shows how one should carefully study a drawing before jumping to conclusions. In our shop we used as many views of a part as necessary. In the case of some complex parts this could be four of five views plus cross sections. Our rule was to use as many views as necessary to clearly define the part.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/09/18 01:39:25 EST

Centerline Slim: : Have you seen the three views of a part which are a square, triangle, and circle? If you haven't, you'll figure it out, many people can't envision a part with those three views.

I worked with a Civil Engineer in the last ten years who would produce hand sketches, which only needed a number. He would give them to CAD operators to be butchered.
   Andy Martin - Tuesday, 01/09/18 09:31:43 EST

Centerline Slim : The triangle is the base view by the way, with top and side square and circle.
   Andy Martin - Tuesday, 01/09/18 09:33:33 EST

what cork do you need : My brother went to Pittsburg state teachers college in 1964, majoring in architecture. One of the first projects was to design a cork that would fit a round, square, or triangle hole. He succeeded and built a model.
   tjstrobe - Tuesday, 01/09/18 15:03:21 EST

Selection of views : A view must be drawn in each direction needed to conclusively designate every feature the object, but unnecessary views must not be drawn. Engineering Drawing Thomas E. French & Charles J. Vierck
   tjstrobe - Tuesday, 01/09/18 15:37:34 EST

Drawings to go : Andy, I was the "go-to" guy in the shop for several decades. When someone needed a special part I would draw and dimension it in a minute of so.

The last time I was in this position I designed a 10K HP motor armature stand for a Nuclear power plant who needed the fixture "today". First step was to inventory the available plate and structurals in the weld shop, the second was to measure the trailer the fixture was to be attached to. Then I made several dimensioned sketches which went to the welding shop. They had their fixture for the 100,000 pound part in the AM. Why did they use ME, a contractor without a degree? All their guys were busy (it was an outage) AND they really needed it today which would have been impossible in their system. This was a critical schedule part in an environment where they spout of various figures in the millions for every day they are down. The guys that shuffled the job to me did not want to be called out on the carpet for why their motor was not ready. . .

If I had been paid a small fraction of what I saved these guys on field expedient fixes I would be a rich man. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/09/18 16:29:23 EST

Selection of Views : Sometimes three views does not get it, however. While I understand why unnecessary views are undesirable, for complex shapes we often provided isometric and non-dimensioned shaded views for benefit of the fabricators and many time received warm thanks for the additional explanations.

Drawings to Go: Very interesting! I love shutdown work, most of mine has been in refineries. One of my tougher jobs was laying out where risers from a new internal distributor would go through the bottom cone of a 15 ft diameter vessel. Refractory inside and insulation and lagging outside. Another was laying out a 48" penetration through a 1-1/2" 16 ft diameter which was to enter the cylinder at 45 degrees down and 37 degrees from a true radius. Adding to that, you cannot assume the cylinder is truly round. I admit I miss jobs like that.

I fully understand that working for a small percentage of savings would be a boon to some guys...
   Andy Martin - Tuesday, 01/09/18 17:10:17 EST

Field Jobs :
The job I was the proudest of is the bridge I designed for the Harvel Power plant in Petersburg VA. Sadly the plant is gone and the dam removed. A VERY sad story. But my bridge is still there being used by fishermen or trespassers every day.

The bridge had to fit between 100's of years old stone work and a questionably placed siphon turbine structure. At midspan there was a ten foot tall double column structure where the two halves of the bridge met. The two ends of the bridge were not square to the turbine OR the bank end.

I rated the bridge for 10 tons so that a fork lift loaded with a turbine rotor or other heavy part could cross. It also served as conduit and piping support. Besides the standard loads it had to resist annual flooding as well as 100 year floods topping the deck.

The hard part was measuring the odd shaped three dimensional space that was often flooded. This was done with a tape measure and an assistant. We measured many triangles that all went back to a single reference point. From this the elevations and angled ends were determined. My drawing says the locations were +/- 1/2" but it was more like 1/8".

The bridge was built in our nearby shop by a single weldor. When we set the bridge the column was set on adjustable studs and the height set. Then the two halves of the bridge were set with a crane. It only took a couple hours including rigging time. A bunch of people showed up to watch what they expected to be a circus as most of the equipment setting days turned out to be under previous management. They were sorely disappointed as well as amazed.

Prior to installing this bridge workers had to climb a ladder down into the riverbed, tiptoe over slippery rocks and through the water, then climb a ladder on the turbine - EVERY DAY. This had probably cost the job some thousands of man hours over the previous couple years. Not only were these wasted manhours the job schedule was set back many months maybe even a year. . .

Harvel Power Plant Bridge by Jock Dempsey
Fitting hand railing to bridge.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/09/18 18:39:20 EST

My Father told me that the first LEM drawing was done on a napkin and that the Patent archives of Bell Labs included more than one cloth tablecloth neatly filed...

I was at Bell Labs as were were crossing into the Brave New World; getting a drawing updated through the Drafting department had a turn around time of about 6 weeks. The fellow retiring whose place I was taking used to do hand drawings and rubber cement them to the master and then photocopy them as a work around. I showed him the trick of scraping off laser printed ink and then taping with good tape the change and then photocopying. But my real job was reproducing our drawings in CAD and making changes in *minutes*. Luckily they were mostly logical drawings and didn't need 9 decimal accuracy...
   Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 01/09/18 19:51:50 EST

CAD has three key advantages, every print is an original and updates are generally seamless. Last, files do not fill rooms full of cabinets. You can put all the plans for a passenger airplane or an aircraft carrier on a CD. . .

Otherwise CAD can be incredibly slow and expensive compared to pencil drawings. All our shop drawings were on mylar and then blue printed. Drawing changes showed most of the time as the pencil compressed plastic printed light after erasure.

Drawing made on mylar with a soft pencil can look like inkings if made by a conscientious skilled draftsman. We would often have our large scale mylars copied on the big 26" wide roll paper Xerox of the time. A big roll drawing could be reduced down to 11" tall to put into a manual and still be entirely legible. One of my `4/" scale assembly drawings was 13.5 feet long and another 8 feet.

Drawing on mylar can be FAST. When we hit the detailing stage of a project my Dad could make a dozen A size drawings a day. I was not nearly as fast but my details tended to be more complex.

Early inked drawings were made on heavily starched linen. My Dad would bring home retired drawings and my Mom would wash out the heavy starch and make shirts for Dad and clothes for me.

Back in the 80's I bought an OLD (about 1920) Southbend Lathe. It had some moving damage and needed parts. I called Southbend about parts OR drawings and the fellow said. "We just got rod of all those old flat belt machine drawings." Now a big part of their business (or at least 20 years ago) was servicing their antique machines. . . I'll bet they wished they saved all those old drawings. . .

James Nasmyth kept a notebook with all his idea drawings in it. Thus the original Steam Hammer sketch was still available when he wrote his autobiography 30 years later. The dated sketch was also his basis for his patent application.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/09/18 21:00:59 EST

Field Jobs : Thanks for the bridge story!

Drawings: The best thing about CAD is every print is an original, the worst thing is every print is an original. The engineering office can overload the field with revision after revision with only the latest revision showing clouds. If there's been four revisions since you last looked at the drawing you can miss a lot.

When CAD started a lot of good draftsmen could not make the transition efficiently. We wound up with a lot of computer jockeys who knew nothing about the craft. No explanation needed.

Surely they microfiched the drawings for South Bend. It's sad when companies decide to throw away their heritage. The accountants can brag about saving several thousand dollars though.

One company I worked for got on a kick to save inventory tax by getting rid of excess materials in refineries, pump stations, and terminals. Millions and millions of dollars of pipe, fittings, and spare parts to save thousands of dollars. No longer could the site manager help you out with ratholed material, everything had to be bought new, and in many cases that meant a new pump or engine because obsolete parts had been discarded wholesale. And management would say "we probably needed a new one anyway". It's amazing companies make a profit.
   Andy Martin - Tuesday, 01/09/18 21:23:19 EST

Archives :
The fellow I spoke to in the Southbend parts department did not mention the possibility of retrieving drawings. He was pretty clear that they were "gotten rid of".

A friend of mine acquired most of the drawings and other records of a major manufacturer when its holding company was bought out by a foreign company and unwanted units "disposed of". One branch was told to clean out the offices and dump their records (and drawings). My friend got a call, "You want all our stuff? Check the dumpster outside our office as soon as you can". It took a pickup (the dumpster was full) to move the records. It was/is a treasure trove and is supporting industry today.

Another aspect of this type thing is the foundry patterns. They are generally stored at the foundry. . . When a company goes belly up someone MAY buy all the documentation but not the patterns. They generally rot until the foundry scraps them.

Another place this happens is in the publishing business. If you want to reprint a book it is reasonably inexpensive if you have the original plates. But the printer only stores the plates for 20 years then scraps them. Usually the publisher or author is offered the plates. Then caput. This happened to Dona Meilach when we convinced her to reprint Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork for the Internet generation of smiths. The plates had been scraped just the prior year. . . Plates can be made from a good copy of the book but not for color pages. So she had the expense of making new plates and finding new color photos to replace the originals (plus destruction of her original copy of the first printing).
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/10/18 01:40:35 EST

Forge build : Hey I was just looking around on the web and came across this page, the info is good but it’s not exactly what I’m looking for. My question is, will a fire pot made of mild steel withstand the hot coals from a forge… I have been working on a forge in my welding shop class at school but one of my buddies brought this up, so i just wanted to find out for myself if this is a problem and/or if i need to reinforce it with fire proof cement or something.
   Tyler S - Wednesday, 01/10/18 22:50:48 EST

Tyler, Mild Steel works fine. I've built several from 1/4" plate that lasted many years but heavier is better.

The biggest problem with steel fire pots is rust. Coal ash is full of sulfur compounds that leach into water resulting in acids that rust steel very aggressively. If store outdoors be sure to empty the ashes and clean the firepot and forge pan between uses.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/11/18 09:13:52 EST

Forge build : A refractory lining would keep the steel temperature down however it is very difficult to keep it stuck to the steel. If it is outdoors that means water will get under the lining and accelerate corrosion. Have you thought about a cast iron brake drum from a truck? Cast iron is much more resistant to corrosion than mile steel.
   Andy Martin - Thursday, 01/11/18 14:20:43 EST

Forge build :
Oriental Trough Forge Drawing by Jock Dempsey

My next solid fuel forge will be an oriental trough forge. They are all masonry and need no metal grate. Their down side is they are heavy and not portable. However, they can be built loose and taken apart to move.

Air is blown in from the side like a side blown forge but the length of the forge is perpendicular to the blast. If a deep fire is needed then loose bricks can be stacked across the trough.

Oriental Box Bellows

The mate to the long trough forge is the oriental box bellows which fit along side of each other. The advantage to this bellows is that it does not need an expensive full cow hide to make (a vegan bellows). This also makes it more durable. The rectangular shape is also very convenient. Sometimes the Chinese use theirs as an auxiliary work bench. Some have drawers, the top a filing fixture.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/11/18 16:54:41 EST

Oriental Bellows :
The traditional Oriental Bellows is round (a log) or rectangular. Unlike the modern versions that have a birdhouse on the side with two output valves the traditional design has only three valves in a bottom "valve body". Each end of the "cylinder" has an intake valve. In the bottom there is a directional flapper valve at the output.

The intakes can be on the ends, sides or bottom. They should have a mouse proof grill to prevent mice getting in, eating the valve and piston seals or building nests. The one in the photo above has two outlets so it can be used left and right handed. Each has a slide valve to open the desired side and close to keep out critters.

My design has the intakes in the bottom so that gravity closes the valves on their felt seats. This means the bellows must be on short legs to allow free flow of air.

The Oriental Bellows can be simple carpentry OR high grade cabinet work.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/11/18 23:05:20 EST

Membership : Hi, I'm interested in becoming a member and was curious just how to go about getting this done. Any help here would be much appreciated. Thank you
   Adam Webb - Saturday, 01/13/18 01:23:26 EST

Membership :
Adam, We no longer have a members system. All of anvilfire is free to access to the public. However, we still maintain our old login system so previous members can show their colors and so that I can login as sysop or superuser.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/13/18 07:19:06 EST

Bellows : Oriental bellows is interesting. I guess I find it surprising that it seems a bit inferior since so much of old oriental designs are very good. What I'm thinking is that unlike a traditional leather bellows you can't pump it up and let it feed while you mind other activities, same with a rotary bellows that you can just give a spin to. My grandfather had his father's leather bellows when I was very young but they disappeared when the old house they were in was torn down to make pasture.
   Andy Martin - Sunday, 01/14/18 16:57:39 EST

Types of bellows :
The pressurized air reserve in double chambered and accordion bellows is an over hyped feature that adds very little advantage. While using these bellows you often find yourself pumping against a full reservoir to get a little more pressure and thus a pulsation of the air OR pumping lightly against an empty reservoir with similar pulsations. Its only about half the time that you get that nice smooth as-advertised flow. Otherwise unless the Great Bellows is HUGE the reservoir air time isn't even long enough for working a small forging such as a nail. These are my experiences using a moderately large 5 foot by 3 foot double chambered bellows.

The rotary blower is a completely different device that generally needs precision steel bearings to hold up. They CAN be made of wood and other less durable materials but most are metal. I always found cranking one of these hard on my elbow. These are best motorized.

The Oriental bellows does have the same minor pulsation in air flow as the Great Bellows under the conditions I mentioned above but this has little bearing on the quality of the fire or its efficiency.

The biggest advantage of the Oriental Box Bellows is the lack of needing leather. A good blacksmiths' bellows takes at LEAST a whole cow or more worth of leather. In vegetarian societies where beef is uncommon and expensive the Oriental Bellows is perfect. AND even where leather is common it isn't cheap.

The Oriental Bellows is also more efficient in that there is no duplication of reservoir space and the rectangular shape takes less wood than an equivalent wood and leather bellows.

Yes, bellows can be covered with canvas but those that have used both types will tell you leather makes a much better bellows.

Another advantage is the durability. I managed to use my bellows regularly for about 4 years and then off and on for another decade without damage. But Pawpaw had it less than a year before he poked a hole in it with a bar of steel - a well known hazard. Later he tore another hole in the leather sufficient that they had to be retired. Canvas is also susceptible to poking damage. Leather also ages.

I love the classic looks of a Great Bellows but they are large, delicate and inefficient compared to the Oriental Bellows.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/14/18 23:23:12 EST

Bellows : The only bellows I knew growing up were from Mr. Thompson: "HEY YOU! GET OUT OF THERE OR I'M GONNA CALL THE SHERIFF!!!"
   Loren Tollefson - Monday, 01/15/18 10:23:33 EST

The Nasmyth Steam Hammer

The new paddle wheel ships of the 1830's needed larger and larger shafts. The current tilt hammers which were limited by gravity and geometry and could not do the job. The British Admiralty asked James Nasmyth to design a machine that could forge shafts larger than the current limit. He came up with a solution in short order but the navy dropped the project (possibly due to propellers replacing paddle wheels and not needed such large shafts).

It was Nasmyth's policy to leave his notebook in a prominent place in his shop for visitors to peruse as a sales tool. One day a couple French Engineers visited while Nasmyth was away. They copied his drawing. . .

Several years later Nasmyth was touring the French Navy yards and was seeing forgings of size and quality he had never seen before. When he asked his French guides how they were made they said, "Weeth YOUR hammer Monsieur Nasmyth! Come, we will show it to you."

And there is was, a huge version of his hammer. Nearby there were several broken parts where they has deviated from his drawing. . . But it was operational and making huge forgings.

Shocked, Nasmyth cut his trip short and filed for a patent as soon as he got home. He made a lot of money on that patent. Its high license cost (over 1000 British Pounds per hammer) also put pressure on inventors, particularly in the US to come up with other hammer designs and thus we have a plethora of mechanical hammers. When his patent ran out manufacturers all over the world started building Nasmyth type hammers.

Nasmyth's first hammer was a gravity drop (as was the French model). After studying it he converted the controls so that the ram was pushed down as well as up. This meant it could strike much faster (thus harder) than the gravity fall. This is the design that is still in use today.


Go into any forge shop and some old timer will tell you about watching a guy put a pocket watch on the lower die of a big steam hammer and strike it just hard enough to bounce the watch a couple times. Then with the last blow make metal foil out of it. . .

The problem with this story is that like many popular stories the person telling it probably didn't really witness the event. The person that routinely put on this demo was the inventor of the steam hammer himself, James Nasmyth (1808-1890). He put this on as an "educational ir sales demo" any time a new steam hammer was setup or someone visited his shop. The demo was popular enough that people often asked for it. Nasmyth collected cheap old pocket watches from second hand stores and carried one with him all the time.
   - guru - Monday, 01/15/18 11:51:59 EST

pwatch test of steam hammer controls : I actually got to see something similar at VOGT. The hammerman would bet $20 he could put a bad of grease on the upper die and strike a blow that would put grease on the watch crystal without hitting it enough to break the watch. I saw him do this several times till he had to quit doing this when he misjudged and crushed an expensive wrist watch.He was using a 15,000# Erie steam hammer :)
   ptree - Monday, 01/15/18 16:20:31 EST

pwatch test : I'm sure others have done it but I suspect that Nasmyth was the only one that finished with making foil out of the watch. . . A pocket watch is a pretty good test object as you can actually hit it without breaking it. The crystal and the case are both ovoid shapes that can deflect quite a bit. A "touch" will bounce it without breaking it.
   - guru - Monday, 01/15/18 16:44:28 EST

Bellows : Thanks for the update on bellows. I've always wanted a double chamber leather bellows but you have saved me some work:)

Thanks for the hammer discussion.
   Andy Martin - Monday, 01/15/18 17:59:09 EST

If I were building an historical demo shop I would probably still use a Double Chambered Bellows for the art. But then, a shop doing historical Japanese or Chinese forging would be correct with a box bellows. In many parts of Europe the standard would be the accordion reservoir bellows.

If I was building a shop/forge to make money I would use an electric motor driven blower. If a manual blower then I would require a helper.

Most blacksmith shops today use a gas forge for everything that will fit. The occasional use solid fuel forge would have that electric blower. OR a large rosebud can be used and keep the shop 100% gas fueled.

In the Prepper Forge any type of manual forge will do to burn charcoal. But it should be a forge that can be stored for a long time making leather parts (including belts) a bad idea. The same shop should have charcoal production equipment.
   - guru - Monday, 01/15/18 22:54:21 EST

Hi, I'm looking to get started in blacksmithing, specifically looking to eventually go into swordsmithing/blades nothing. I hopefully (fingers crossed) have a uni course lined up to begin next year, however, in the interim, do you have any recommendations for research books, or small projects that could be done in a flat that would give me at least some idea of the sort of skills I'll need, and the techniques that are used?
   - Amelia - Monday, 01/22/18 14:06:32 EST

Amelia, See our Sword Making Resources. It starts at the beginning with a reference that shows you how to use basic metalworking tools, how to stand, how to do layout. . It moves on to bladesmithing and blacksmithing books then gets more technical. If you obtain and STUDY all these references it is equivalent to a couple years in school. If after studying all these you setup a small shop and practice the techniques (everything from using a file, drilling holes to forging and heat treating tools this adds another year of two to your education.

There is a LOT you can do in a small apartment short of forging. Even with forged blades there is a huge amount of grinding. So you can make blades by stock removal (sawing and grinding). If you keep your work small you can also do the heat treating.

The general techniques for making blades as small as scalpels up through swords is the size. Its just a matter of scale.

The only problem with doing metalwork in your living space is the dirt and grit. To keep it from spreading you will want dust collection systems on your sander/grinders and vacuum the work area daily. Not that you do not want to use the same grinders for wood and metal (even though they will work). The problem is fire starting in the dust collection systems. Sawing, Hand filing grit and drilling chips get caught in shoes and tracked and can then end up getting embedded in your feet - a bad thing.

Besides dust collection and good housekeeping you may want a good exhaust fan in a window.
   - guru - Monday, 01/22/18 16:38:05 EST

Apartment Sword-Making Practice : Dirt is not your friend, even nice, clean metal and abrasive dirt. DOes your flat have a balcony? Does it have a room you can dedicate to your craft? A good floor covering is important, as are changing footwear so as not to track the leavings all over your premises. Even with a balcony, sweeping up the swarf is important. My wif was not impressed by rust stains on the back porch concrete.

Do you have a nearby friend (very nearby) with some spare garage space or open space or does your building have some unused storage space? You may want to investigate convenient locations, in case you expand your ambitions. Also, depending on the city, there may be some "maker space" nearby. Check out your options.

   Bruce Blackistone Atli - Monday, 01/29/18 12:15:44 EST

More small shop hints : Grinding sparks from hand held grinders will weld to glass. This can be a very expensive mistake.

The same grinding sparks will also embed in wood and in humid environments cause rust stains (black).

Grinding sparks that appear to be harmlessly bouncing off surfaces can also start fires (curtains can be very dangerous). Use fireproof OR fire resistant (not retardant) material if curtains are needed. These may be desired to reduce direct light AND protect the window glass from grinding sparks.

Other fire safety items would include a fire extinguisher dedicated to your shop area. Note that sand is great for putting out small fires and much easier to clean up after. Consider having both.
   - guru - Monday, 01/29/18 13:38:37 EST

Just to second the Guru's recommendation on the exhaust fan. I have one that draws negative pressure in my basement shop, which works very well to prevent dust/fumes/smoke from spreading to other rooms of the house. I think this works because I don't have "enough" make up air (I can only open the small window that the fan isn't in), so the fan is constantly trying to draw air from the rest of the house.
   Mike BR - Monday, 01/29/18 18:32:04 EST

Sneaky Dust :
One type of dust that spreads and is as toxic as any other is the cotton fibers from buffing wheels. It is small and light. It is the type of dust that causes "brown lung" in mill workers. However, in metal work the dust also contains buffing compound, wax and the base metal.

To collect this type of dust you need both a local system and good general ventilation. Because it is light if you blow it out one window it might come back in through another. So study your air flow.
   - guru - Monday, 01/29/18 20:57:41 EST

And, I forgot, you should wear a respirator when buffing.
   - guru - Monday, 01/29/18 20:59:22 EST

Note: you can get into blade making without using powered tools; learn to drawfile and then use abrasive paper wrapped around wood blocks for finishing. It is time consuming; but I have seen thousand dollar blades made that way! One nice thing about it is it encourages you to start small and so you can often do your own heat treating with a very small forge run from a propane plumber's torch.
   ThomasP - Friday, 02/02/18 12:22:53 EST

Blades without machinery :
Scrapers (and their variations) are also commonly used to shape blades.

SEE Chinese Workholding Bench and "Sen"

It is interesting to note that Chinese and Japanese work holding devices avoid the screw and heavy metal parts relying instead on light metal parts (usually a staple) and various wedging mechanisms. Like their box bellows it is a different mind set.
   - guru - Friday, 02/02/18 12:33:47 EST

Using abrasive cloth and paper Wet-or-Dry :
There are many ways to use abrasive cloths and papers. They can be supported on a plate glass, granite or precision metal surface. They can be wrapped around a wooden board or metal bar. They can also be glued to a board.

For a variety of heavy or gross uses I glue heavy sanding belts to a piece of board or plywood. This is good for hand squaring and flattening wood.

For work nearly as fine as lapping I use 3M Wet-or-Dry on a precision surface such as a granite surface plate.

You can file scrape or sand to a nearly polished surface then use rubbing compound and a rag by hand to produce a fine polished surface. All without power tools. Using these techniques teaches one not to skip steps in producing a fine finish.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/03/18 00:21:34 EST

Not that long ago screw based systems were not extremely common in western use too. Look at the shave horse, or the use of a wooden bib to brace something against while working on it, The Hausbuchs show metal polishers holding the pieces without a screw based vises.
   ThomasP - Tuesday, 02/06/18 23:00:12 EST

Anvil ID : I would like help to ID an anvil please. It is well used but has a nice bounce (7-8 inches from 10). It is a standard shape (horn, step, face with Harde hole, about 90 pounds. Only markings I see are "1.01.0". I can send pics, Thank you for your help,
   CBSquidSS - Saturday, 02/10/18 10:37:29 EST

Limited use of left arm : Hello, due to a motorist I will eventually have a left replacement, elbow which will have limitations with vibration etc iam right handed ,I have been involved in blacksmithing for 15yrs and have kept the forge going in my late fathers name . Basically iam looking for any Ideas to keep blacksmithing with limited left arm use ,I have some hold downs I have made before this happened iam a bit desperate really not wanting to finish blacksmithing. I sincerely hope you can give me some advise and any ideas . Regards Barry .Jersey Channel Island s u.k
   Barry. Neill - Saturday, 02/10/18 11:31:38 EST

One Handed Blacksmithing or Limited Left Hand :
NOTE: I missed the fact that it was an elbow JOINT replacement the first time I read the question and wrote the following reply. Generally vibration should not be an issue unless tools are held incorrectly (too tight) OR if pneumatic tools are being used. However all the suggestions below apply to any weakness in the holding hand.

Barry, the first thing is to let any prosthesis makers you work with what you want to do.

The next is to learn to use tongs with clamping rings and fit them to all your tongs. These avoid the need to squeeze hard with your left hand. Then the tongs can be held loosely and prevent the transition of vibration and stress to the arm.

Then I would look into hold downs and vices that can be foot operated. Tools that are often held in tongs should be fitted with dedicated tongs clamp rings OR handles so they are ready to use without changing tooling.

Many two handed tasks can be simplified with fixturing to hold and position tools. Machines such as fly presses hold the tooling and are designed to be operated with one hand.

Stands or bench spaces convenient to putting down your hammer so that you can efficiently do operations to support your left hand as needed should be located in multiple places.

A power hammer can be a great help. The right hand alone can be used to hold and guide the work OR help support the left..

I've met a fellow locally that has a stub of one lower arm who seems to get along OK in his smithing. Not wanting to seem insensitive I'm afraid I never asked him about how he got along.

Many of these suggestions apply to two handed smiths as we all could use three or four hands!

As this subject comes up once in a while it would not hurt to do a study of what you CAN do and HOW you do it and perhaps publish it for others.

[For one arm/handed smiths] Something to think about is that many prosthesis makers used to forge many of the parts needed in aluminium and titanium. They made light slender organic shapes that replaced bone but in mechanical arrangements. I do not know if prosthesis are still made this way but you might want to look into this as a field of interest.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/10/18 15:52:42 EST

Anvil ID : Photos were sent. . Its one of many nameless Old English anvils, this one without a pritichell hole and a lot of sway.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/10/18 15:54:59 EST

Vibration and Tongs :
One thing that can transfer excessive vibration to the tongs hand is is overly heavy tongs. Good tongs are light and springy. The spring in the reins helps produce a secure grip on the work OR can be applied to using a tongs clip to mechanically hold them closed. If tongs are too stiff they transmit excessive vibration and will shake off a tongs clip OR be too stiff to apply one.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/11/18 09:21:02 EST

Elbow Replacement joint : Guru, thank you for your advice and suggestions,I will keep you posted and share any ideas that hopefully may arise, Regards Barry.
   Barry. Neill - Monday, 02/12/18 04:18:21 EST

types of metals : Is there a list of what things are made of. Such as axels springs tools and hammers, and other tools and such ?
   Kevin - Monday, 02/12/18 21:56:40 EST

Kevin, see:

Junkyard Steel Chart

This list is based largely on the list in older copies of MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK.

Another book on the subject is Metals for Engineering Craftsmen by CoSIRA.

See our article on Junkyard Steels if you are repurposing old steel.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/13/18 08:29:44 EST

Going better with coke : Guys, this post will be long, so I beg your patience.

I want to burn coke, not coal, in my neighborhood. I live in the Southwest, and many of the homes near mine use evaporative coolers during the summer, instead of air conditioners. These devices suck tons of dry, hot air into one's house, through humidifier pads, cooling the air tremendously. As a result, from the months of May to September (and often longer), any gaseous substance broadcast in the atmosphere in my neighborhood can be immediately drawn into my neighbors' homes. I can attest to the effects of this: when I used a cooler (I now have AC), if someone started a barbecue three houses away, and if the wind blew right, I could practically taste what he was cooking while sitting in my living room.

This means that in the summer, if I stoke a coal fire a bit heavily, and emit a big gout of that green smoke, a dozen families could smell sulfur and tar coming through their cooler registers. I like most of my neighbors, and don't want to antagonize them. (In the winter, it's not such a big deal: windows and doors are shut tight, and if I manage the fire carefully, I can keep smoke to a minimum.)

The problem: I have yet to find a coke-burning forge design I like.

I tried burning coke in a conventional Centaur Forge cast iron firepot (yes, I know I'm not supposed to) and its walls quickly turned cherry red. Too hot, I thought.

I tried a water-cooled side blast, the British design, and it fired well, but gulped fuel at a great rate. (I may try it again, varying the fire pit size and shape a bit, to cut down on fuel consumption. Though, I have to say, videos I've seen of Brit smiths show them largely unconcerned with fuel use. Some just seem to dump bags of coke beans in their forges, making volcanoes to weld half-inch bar stock. Coke may be very cheap in the UK!)

My current experiment is a small firepot, made from type 304 stainless. I've tried both coal and coke in this pot, and it works great. It is small and rather shallow (8 in square, 3 in deep), and it makes a neat, clean, economical coke fire. The only drawback: like the Centaur pot, it gets really hot! The walls get to a low orange over most of their surfaces; they may be getting to 1600 F or higher. (With coal, the pot shows virtually no heat color at all.)

So, my primary question: can I operate a stainless pot at such high temperatures for hundreds of hours without it deteriorating?

I've done online research, and it seems 304 can be "cycled" at 1600 F, or continuously exposed to 1700 F, for long periods without great loss through scaling, etc. Would a firepot be considered a "cycled" device, or does this mean much shorter periods than a forging session? Also, the online metallurgy folks talk about embrittlement and carbide
precipitation for stainless, at high temps. Do I need to worry about these factors? I would think they would lead to cracking, or distortion, over time.

One site even cautioned that 300 series stainless can be vigorously attacked by sulfurous gases in a reducing atmosphere. Yikes! Seems a perfect description of the environment in a firepot (although coke would have most of the sulfur cooked out of it, I hope). I wonder, though, if this may only be a severe problem in a wet environment.

I thought that a stainless pot would be a good choice for coke, but I'm afraid orange heat may be at the edge of its endurance. Commercial coke pots seem to just use super-heavy cast iron walls. (I wanted to avoid the great weight of such pots; my stainless pot has quarter-inch walls.)

So, to all the metallurgists out there: can I drive a stainless pot this hard? Or should I man up and get a 90-pound cast iron device? Or, is a refractory fire pit, like the side-blast uses, the only real solution?
Or, maybe just fab cheap heavy mild-steel pots, let them glow and scale away, and just regard them as consumables?

   Eric T - Wednesday, 02/14/18 19:31:32 EST


I'm no metallurgist, so this is pure speculation. But the higher temperature for continuous operation seems unusual -- I've often seen specs with higher temperature limits for intermittent exposure than for continuous.

The reversed numbers seem to make sense only if there's particularly rapid scaling at some point between 1600 and 1700 degrees. In that case, the "cycling" contemplated might be for shorter periods than a forging section (or might not). But if your operating temperature is say, 1650 rather than 1600 degrees, things might really go south in a hurry.

Going off topic, if you ever look for soy sauce at a place that has more than a couple of brands, you're sure to see "Wan Ja Shan." My wife tells me that means "ten-thousand houses (smell) fragrant." And she says the whole jingle is "one house barbecues, ten-thousand houses fragrant." Maybe the company was founded in Phoenix . . .
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 02/14/18 20:06:41 EST


During my cooler years, I could often detect the output from the Chinese restaurant a block or so away. On the negative side: I finally resolved to go to central AC when a Kinder-Morgan gasoline pipeline busted in the neighborhood next to mine. Gasoline odor flooded my house on a warm summer night, and I was probably 300 yards away from the event.
   Eric T - Wednesday, 02/14/18 20:43:55 EST

Coke and coolers : Sounds like a drink recipe! Having spent 40 years working on coolers, I can attest to the problems they have. If a dust storm hits, you better shut it down or spend an hour or so hosing the mud out of the pads.Verify what voltage the motor runs on before buying a replacement re-circulation pump. a 110 volt pump burns out immediately when plugging into a 220 volt system. I remember well when an ammonia tank in a cotton field near our house sprung a leak, and we had to leave for a time until the odors dissipated. As for coke fire, the main problem is keeping it going. It doesn't smolder for a time (or idle). No air supply, it goes out. I got a bag of coke from AABA and it burned out the C.I. ring around my clinker breaker almost immediately. I made a new ring out of 2 layers of 5/16 stainless I cut out with my plasma cutter, then layered together. They lasted for several years. I think a better solution is a propane fired forge. You can fire it up when you get home from work and let it pre-heat while having a cool beverage, then it's ready to go. A piece of steel forgotten in it will not look like a 4th of July sparkler, and if tuned right, you can get a welding heat easily.
   Loren Tollefson - Thursday, 02/15/18 08:23:53 EST

Coke Forges : Forget most of the metallurgical stuff as it applies to stressed stainless parts (cable, chain, hooks, eyes, load bearing devices). Josh Greenwood uses a stainless bar that sits across the opening of his forge tweer. It is a loose part and lasts many years in a forge where a LOT of forge welding goes on (coal fired). Once I had a forge design I really liked I would spend the money on stainless.

In the 1890's Buffalo Forge made coke forges. They were a lot different than their coal forges. They had both a blast and a shaker grate like a coal furnace. Above that they were refractory lined. The refractory bricks were held in a cast iron box. They also had a roof made of brick. These were held in place by iron straps and bolts. AND they had a chute for feeding the coke into the forge.

I suspect the air blast cooled the clinker grates and kept them from burning. Between the grates and the filling chute these were definitely designed for production work.

I'm mailing you catalog images. The text description does no good only talking about the sizes and variety of forge not their construction.

SOMEWHERE I could swear I've seen a cross section of one of these forges that had an arched roof. I'll keep looking.

I've used coke that while it did not smoke it had that pungent coal odor.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/15/18 09:08:57 EST

Jock: Thanks for the pictures. I have been thinking about another go at firepits made from refractory material. I would like to try the water-cooled sideblast again.

So, do you think that a stainless firepot can stand hundreds of hours of operation at orange heat? That is, without some sort of degradations, such as cracking, distortion, getting very brittle, etc?

If it can, then I may just continue to burn coke in it, and let it just glow. Might as well drive it for a year or so, see if it dies.
   Eric T - Thursday, 02/15/18 15:12:59 EST

Anvil Identification : I have had it for 2 years now and still cannot seem to identify it. There are no clear makings and I have no clue where to even start looking to identify it. I have plenty of pictures to send. I doubt this will help but I picked it up in California.
   Chris W. - Thursday, 02/15/18 17:09:09 EST

coke forge : Using Coke, I have used it for years, mainly for a cleaner burning fire and hot, you do have some smoke and odor, not as much as coal. I have used a heavy cast fire pot but it does glow hot some times when I'm burning a big fire. Not sure why coal will not glow the pot but coke will, I guess that the coke just burns hotter, almost pure fuel all the tar,gases are cooked off. So it will go out in about 15 min or so if no air blast is on.
I'm really thinking about building a water cooled side blast, so if anyone has insight on that.
Looking at a few forges in old industrial shops the forge was a refractory lined fire pot no clinker breaker, just an air hole. I think if one FABs up a fire pot make it thick if you can, SS or steel and go with it. The comment about using a gas forge may be the way to go at sometimes, I don't like
gas as well but does have its place.
   highland forge - Friday, 02/16/18 07:21:19 EST

Anvil identification : I apologise, my email was incorrectly input on my previous post so I figured I would post again in an effort to correct that.
   Chris W - Friday, 02/16/18 13:17:01 EST

Coke Forges :
Eric, Since you have it, run it and see. I know that at forging temperatures stainless scales and the scale flakes off just like carbon steel. Each layer of scale is part of the mass of the original part so. . . it will burn out eventually.
   - guru - Friday, 02/16/18 15:00:22 EST

Selling one of my anvils : Hi everybody! Haven't been here since my son was born! How y'all been?!
So, times is tough, I need some cash. Gonna sell off the American Wrought anvil that I hardly use. I have some questions, as I've never sold one of my babies before. Like, how does shipping work (I'd rather not). Crates and all, I'm sure it's expensive. Also, I'm a bit rusty on the history of this piece. American Wrought (I believe, I lost my copy of AIA) was an offshoot of PW, I may be wrong. It has a serial number 578 that is visible. It's marked as 108 lbs, but reads 106 on the scale.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. For any who don't know, I am in the Philadelphia area. Hit me up however you please:
Kik: Nippulini
FB @ Sage_Blacksmith
text 2159626446

   Nippulini - Sunday, 02/18/18 12:37:55 EST

Water Cooled Tuyeer :
I have seen these fabricated from stainless pipe but can also be made of carbon steel. An inner pipe for the blast and outer for the water. These are welded to an end cap making the nozzle end. The inner air pipe passes through the reservoir. There are flanges welded to the ends of the two pipes. The first flange on the outer shell bolts to the forge side of the reservoir closing a hole large enough for the smaller air tube flange to pass through. The air tube flange bolts to the back of the reservoir.

The reservoir has two parallel walls made of plate steel about 6" apart. The flanges on the tuyeer must fit this distance. Most of these slope down hill about 10 degrees so that the water circulates naturally.

These systems will heat up a LOT of water in a day. One article in Richardson's showed a system with a closed reservoir on the forge with pipes going to a tank upstairs to provide the shop with running hot water. Quite a luxury for the time. However, this beats an open top reservoir with steam coming off of it all day.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/21/18 03:28:10 EST

Shipping Anvils : Hi Nip.

A few years ago I bought a 200lb anvil half way across the country. Did a fair amount of research into shipping. Shipping prices for a lot of big name shipping companies ran from $550-1400. Then I found out Fastenal does less than truckload shipments between any of their stores. I got it shipped from Maine to Minnesota for $100. You do have to have it strapped down to a pallet but that was the only packaging they required. I would use them again.
   Martin - Wednesday, 02/21/18 15:31:38 EST

Shipping Anvils :
The last anvil I had shipped (in and out) came in without its pallet that I had paid extra for. Apparently it took too much room and the anvil alone was easier to move on a hand truck. When we shipped it out I crated it on a crate that could be moved with both a hand truck and fork lift.

The one thing about an anvil, if it arrives on a high bed truck it can always be unloaded by just dropping it off onto the ground.

At just over 100 pounds your anvil can go standard UPS.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/22/18 03:53:22 EST

Rivet hammer piston sticks : What remedy or series of things to try do yo recommend? It’s a Chicago Pneumatic 6A Aero riveter.
   Jim Smith - Friday, 02/23/18 22:51:57 EST

Rivet hammer piston sticks :
Have you been lubricating it (oil in the air line)?

Excess water in the air can freeze and lock up air tools.

As the piston wears it may reach a point were it can cock in the bore and lock up.

Flush with kerosene or WD-40, lube and try again.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/24/18 04:17:02 EST

I recently bought a Wright 146lb anvil (unknown if Henry or Peter first name was demolished by punches and chisel marks). The face was mushroomed severely and I had the face resurfaced. It is now flat and true but the center of the face now has a 1-2"X1/4" "sliver" of what appears to be the wrought iron base coming through the center? Does not look to be chipped just looks like a different material0 still appears to be one (think of Damascus) The heat treater is about to heat treat it, and I was wondering if I should heat treat and use the anvil the way it is or have another plate welded to the top. The anvil face as it was- a 1" steel ball bearing would leave divets in the steel face and horn dropped from about 10" for rebound test(it is that soft). I am looking for the heat treater to obtain a 55-60 Rockwell C. let me know if there is anything else I can do to revive this old anvil. Thanks for any and all assistance in advance.
   - Jerry Pertoso - Saturday, 03/03/18 16:23:15 EST

I recently bought a Wright 146lb anvil (unknown if Henry or Peter first name was demolished by punches and chisel marks). The face was mushroomed severely and I had the face resurfaced. It is now flat and true but the center of the face now has a 1-2"X1/4" "sliver" of what appears to be the wrought iron base coming through the center? Does not look to be chipped just looks like a different material0 still appears to be one (think of Damascus) The heat treater is about to heat treat it, and I was wondering if I should heat treat and use the anvil the way it is or have another plate welded to the top. The anvil face as it was- a 1" steel ball bearing would leave divets in the steel face and horn dropped from about 10" for rebound test(it is that soft). I am looking for the heat treater to obtain a 55-60 Rockwell C. let me know if there is anything else I can do to revive this old anvil. Thanks for any and all assistance in advance.
   - Jerry Pertoso - Saturday, 03/03/18 16:23:40 EST

sorry : Sorry for the double posting, my computer gave me a "403" message, I have no idea what that is.
   Jerry Pertoso - Saturday, 03/03/18 16:26:15 EST

Jerry : You might want to slow down and don't spend any more money until you get some educated feedback here.
   - TomH - Saturday, 03/03/18 17:34:11 EST

Ouch. If you have thinned down the face so much that it's not a proper thickness to work on you pretty much have destroyed the anvil. I knew a fellow who had had his milled till the face was *perfect* but to thin to use. He carried it from place to place for about 20 years till our local Smithing club held an anvil repair day and after proper preheat it took around 6 hours of welding by a professional weldor using industrial equipment to build back the face to usability. (If you had it done commercially it would have cost several times the cost of buying an anvil in using condition)

If you are in the USA try to bring it to a local meeting of the ABANA affiliate and get someone to look at it directly and tell you what your next step should be. (You may look into the Robb Gunther and Karl Schuler's anvil repair instructions fo expert instruction)

Note you can be an expert machinist or a great weldor but still not know the details of how various anvils are made and so destry instead of helping. "Practical Blacksmithing", Richardson, from 1889,1890 and 1891 where it says

"For my own part I am satisfied not only that sharp edges are useless, but they are also destructive of good work. I cannot account for their existence except as a relic of a time when the principles of forging were but little understood." Vol 1 page 111

If you need a sharp edge for a particular process make a hardy tool with 4 of them! (I hope you didn't pay for someone to damage your anvil!)
   ThomasP - Saturday, 03/03/18 23:06:37 EST

Resurfaced Anvil . . . . :
Yep, Cheaper to buy another anvil and relegate this one to being a door stop or someone else's project.

Besides not needing sharp corners an anvil IS NOT a precision flat. They are better with a slight sway so you can straighten things.

Peter Wright made a very good anvil. However they were very proud of the fact that their anvil bodies were made from the best NEW wrought iron, not scrap like most others used. The problem is that nice fine grain wrought is VERY soft and Peter Wrights become swayed more from use than their competitors scrap iron body anvils. The scrap bodies have grain going in all directions (not just parallel to the face) as well as pieces of steel mixed in and are generally a better anvil body than pure wrought iron as long as the scrap is thoroughly welded. Occasionally a poorly welded body will break and you can see the chain, bolts and various scrap in them. Peter Wright was banking on this in their advertisements. However, only a very few anvils made from scrap broke but ALL Peter Wrights end up severely swayed (if used).

That "other" material you see where it was machined is the soft wrought iron body. This is the softest iron available and IS NOT hardenable due to lack of carbon.

Anywhere the face has been reduced to less than 1/2" thick it will break in use after hardening OR the face to body weld will fail (or both).

Any Heat Treater that agreed to heat treat an old English anvil (especially one that has been ruined by machining) does not know what he is doing (same as the machinist that "resurfaced" it).
   - guru - Sunday, 03/04/18 01:09:17 EST

Old anvil : I gave the anvil to the heat treater before the surface grind. I straightened the surface by hand and cleaned up the sides, then made the corners rounded (as to not shatter/ break during forging). The surface still stood about 3/8" ( at a minimum) from the table to top of plate.
When I authorized the machinist to surface grind/ mill the top to be straighter, it was mainly due to the area around the hardy hole being raised, rounded and chipped. I believe the anvil saw its worst days way before I came around.
I am attempting to get this anvil working again and better than before. The Machinist only took two passes at a couple thousandths a pass, then I stopped him because of the "sliver" showing through. I am confused due to the plate looking to be higher than 3/8" from the side profile, and believed the plate should be the same consistency all the way through. The idea of machining the surface was not to obtain complete straightness but clean the area of the hardy hole and to clean several gouges from the sides, where it looked like someone was cutting something and went into the face of the anvil. When I purchased the anvil and hand cleaned the surface, I thought about adding material to the surface and then having the surface ground. Now I am thinking about welding either 4140 or actual tool steel to the top of the plate I have seen the adding material method done many times to anvils, and do not see the plate added to the top of it very often. Any ideas of what to do/ (plate vs welding material)

Luckily the heat treater and the machinist are not charging me, but we trade off work for work. Is there a way to add a picture of the anvil here, or an email address I an send a picture of the anvil for a better "diagnosis?"
Due to the perceived thickness of the plate and the shape of the sliver, I am caught between thinking the sliver may be a void in the plate, or a sliver of the iron showing through.
   Jerry Pertoso - Sunday, 03/04/18 15:41:53 EST

Nippulinian Anvil : I'll run it by some of my padawans over the next month. If they're interested (and you haven't sold it) it sounds like a road trip to me!
   Bruce Blackistone Atli - Sunday, 03/04/18 15:55:00 EST

Frank Turley : Frank, for anyone who does not know has parkinson's and can't do any smithing. I found out yesterday that he's in some type of rehab and there is a GoFundMe to raise money to make his place handicap accessible when he goes home. I don't know all of the details about the situation but if anyone wishes to make a donation do a google search (gofundme for Frank Turley) and it will pop up. The Lady that is doing this lists a goal of $200,000., that's a tall order, don't know if that's possible but you never know. I will be suggesting that our guild New Mexico Artist Blacksmiths Association make a sizeable donation. Frank has given so much to the smithing community over the years, it's sad to see him in this condition. LXIV,
   Alex Ivey - Sunday, 03/04/18 16:23:43 EST

Old Anvil : I do not plan on selling it, never met a challenge I couldn't beat into submission. I live in the bay area in California. Hope the road trip isn't too far. Thanks for the assistance.
   Jerry Pertoso - Sunday, 03/04/18 16:36:45 EST

Sliver in anvil face :
Old English anvils often had pieced faces, especially around the hardy hole. This used up small scraps of valuable steel and avoided punching the hardy hole through the face plate. The weld joints were often decarburized and have a significantly different color than the shear steel face material. This steel often has a Damascine look due to being folded and rewelded numerous times to refine and equalize the carbon content. However, this may also be a gap in a weld.

DO NOT have this anvil heat treated. If the face is mostly there then be happy with what you have.

NO, you cannot add an alloy steel plate to an anvil by edge welding. Anvil faces have a continuous full face FORGE weld that efficiently transfers energy into the anvil body like it is one piece. An edge welded plate is not much different that laying a plate loose on the face of the anvil. Edge welding results in a dull dead anvil.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/04/18 19:16:27 EST

Frank Turley :
I've known about Frank's illness for several years but he seemed to want to keep it quiet so I did not spread the word.

While Frank is not actively working in his shop he has still been managing his school and sends me updates to his web page which I maintain. He also still chimes in here now and then.

All of us from the "old crew" are aging and have our problems. I've been running anvilfire for 20 years now. As a sedentary job it has been hard on my health. I hope to be here for another 20 years or more but you never know.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/04/18 19:31:08 EST

Old Anvil : I guess, I can use it the way it is until it starts coming apart? Or I can weld material to make a new top. I definitely will not place a new plate on top of the anvil and edge weld.

By using the stoody 2110 rod, do I just fill in the "sliver" and then use the stoody 1105 to build up three layers? Should the welds be ground between layers?
The horn on the anvil is also very soft. I believe that at some point, this anvil was heated to a point that it was tempered and lowered the Rockwell rating.
   Jerry Pertoso - Monday, 03/05/18 00:27:59 EST

old anvil : Also, If I go the "add material" route, is there a way to use a MIG welder instead of stick. I have both, but figure that the mig can work faster and cleaner than the stick.
   Jerry Pertoso - Monday, 03/05/18 00:40:49 EST

Old Anvil :
If the "sliver" is an actual gap then it should be welded. Such minor repairs are best done with a common high strenght rod such as a 100 series (E100-11. . .). Preheat the anvil (area) to about 350 F. Weld then peen while the weld cools.

Horns on old wrought anvils are just plain wrought iron and are not hard. A few where the horn is level with the face have the hard face extend in a triangle out the horn a short distance. Even on modern anvils the horn is generally left soft or softer than the face to prevent breakage.

You cannot apply modern hardness ratings to antiques. The steel was shop made, the heat treating not fully understood, yet they made excellent products.
   - guru - Monday, 03/05/18 12:06:09 EST

Old Anvil : Ok. So as of now I will fill in the sliver, and peen. Then grind to match the height of the existing surface. Once this is done, is there any problem heat treating?
The reason I would like to heat treat is due to the steel being very soft, I did the rebound test at 10" above the surface and the 1" ball bearing left a divet, I then cleaned the surface, and reshaped and did the ball bearing drop at less than 5" and still left another divet, I performed the test several times throughout the surface with very similar results. The rebound at 10" was about 3-4"maximum.

Or should the entire work face be built upon and then reshaped? Most of the work, I am doing myself and have the capability of welding, and shaping, the heat treat is the only thing I really need to send out, but as of now that is a trade system (no money exchanged).

   Jerry Pertoso - Monday, 03/05/18 15:43:54 EST

Anvil Hardness by Rebound :
If you look at our (the Original) rebound test article Old English anvils vary from 35% to 65% (max) rebound when properly tested.

If the ball is leaving a divot then the surface is pretty soft.

My number rule to anvil repair is don't do it unless the anvil is unusable as-is and then do as little as possible.

If you study enough old anvils the majority of damage is chipped edges from being too hard (and having sharp 90° edges). Really old soft anvils just get wavier and wavier or more and more swayed. Many living museum anvils in Europe have literal waves up to an inch tall. But no one there disrespects these classic old tools and would not dare take a grinder to one.

That's my advise. Its your anvil (now), it will be someone Else's in the future (these are multi-generational tools). But its yours, and its a tool, do as you wish.
   - guru - Monday, 03/05/18 17:37:48 EST

Old anvil. : Thank you for all your assistance, I am really pleased with finding your site. I will only fill the void, peen, and then make it one with the rest of the surface. As you said "multi generational tools". I got this and its obviously over 100yrs old (based on the markings and my little experience) I will do as little as I can and see how it holds up after time. I am hoping to use the hell out of it and then pass it down in the future. Thank you for all the knowledge and assistance. I will let you know how it ends up.
   Jerry Pertoso - Monday, 03/05/18 20:52:13 EST

Nippulini : Sage, you may be surprised at how quick it goes with not much effort. I sold a 75 lb. HB last week. I posted it on two FB pages and it was sold before I could complete my post on Craigslist. I stated that I would not ship or deliver and the young man drove two hours to pick up. Good luck.
   Brian C. - Tuesday, 03/06/18 08:42:19 EST

Jerrys anvil : I suspect someone got to it long before you did. You said the step is only about 3/8" from the table to the face? That should be more like 3/4", and the plate itself was only about 3/8" thick to begin with. Thus the sliver and pieced appearance, there's only a paper-thin slice of steel left on the poor thing. As the Guru said, heat treating is not an option any more, there's just not enough steel left to use.

That article Thomas mentioned is your only option, particularly the paragraph that says "What You'll Need
If your anvil has a wrought iron base and the damaged area goes through the tool plate so that You have to begin the repair by welding to the wrought base material, use Stoody 2110 (or equal) 3/16" rod (DC reverse works best; however, it will run AC); Unlimited passes. Expect 45 Rockwell C as welded. When you can finish building up the repair area in no more than three passes (or layers thick), use Stoody 1105 (or equal) 1/8" rod (DC reverse, or AC); expect 50 to 52 Rockwell C as welded, which should be consistent with the original hardness of the tool plate. The Stoody 1105 is a particularly good match for the W-1 tool steel tops of most anvils and is designed to be impact resistant."

I don't like to link to the article because way too many people think anvils need repair when they only need a quick hit with a file (if anything), but it's here if you want it: http://www.anvilmag.com/smith/anvilres.htm
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 03/06/18 12:42:50 EST

And another thing: : You really cannot substitute other rods for the ones Gunther and Schuler recommend. They came up with the specs working with engineers and metallurgists at Sandia National Laboratory, and those particular rods were chosen with good reason. MIG ain't gonna cut it no matter what.

Even after all the work it's going to take, you'll have a face hardness of around 45-48 on the Rockwell C scale. My old Peter Wright was more like Rc 55, and my Columbian is at least Rc58 (and as a result has no edges left, but boy, will it throw a hammer back at you!) My Refflinghaus is advertised as Rc 52, and I consider it to be way too soft. This is because it will dent with a missed blow. The other two anvils don't dent, they just throw the hammer right back at your teeth, the Columbian with surprising velocity.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 03/06/18 12:51:24 EST

Old Anvil : Thank you guys for the information, Now I have to get the expensive welding rods and begin a long process of welding, peening, and welding again, peening, welding, etc. and then grind.
   Jerry Pertoso - Tuesday, 03/06/18 15:05:51 EST

Refacing Anvil :
Its not just the rods and welding. Its the grinding out the pits and rewelding them in every pass. If you try to weld over a pit you get a bigger pit OR a semi hollow inclusion. Unless you are a professional welder you WILL get pits. Fix every one. When done you may use up several grinding disks to get the face smooth.

Welding is not just the rods and the labor, it is also the fuel (usually electricity). Those rods do not melt themselves, it takes a lot of electricity. We had one corespondent ask us to try to help defend his position in his argument with his wife that his Junkyard hammer project did not increase their electric bill by $200. He claimed there was no way that much energy went through those little rods. . .

For more about facing an anvil see Patrick Nowak's 1050 pound anvil
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/06/18 18:11:50 EST

Old Anvil- sliver : I have welding experience, I was a fabricator in an automotive shop, but this is probably the thickest thing I have welded (surface size) I have done some structural welding, most of my welding experience is with mig and tig, started out with stick and have a machine now but rarely use it.
I will check out the link you have provided. Thanks

Just brought the anvil home and the more and more I look at the "sliver" the more it actually looks like a previous weld. there is a crack in whatever material it actually is and the anvil surface. I am going to dig it out and fill it, and then grind to the surface and see what that gives me as a workable surface. I am optimistic about the sliver being a weld that was just cut through when the machinist flattened the surface.
   Jerry Pertoso - Tuesday, 03/06/18 18:58:31 EST

Remember anvils are very prone to HAZ cracking as the faces are high carbon and there is quiet enough steel to pull away heat resulting in "auto quenching" The proper preheat is MANDATORY and a post slow cool is also suggested. (Where many expert structural welders go astray)
   ThomasP - Tuesday, 03/06/18 21:23:50 EST

Old Anvil : Thanks, The thought I had was to use two propane "weed burners" to heat to 350/400 and then slowly bring back by leaving the anvil in moving blankets until cool.
   Jerry Pertoso - Wednesday, 03/07/18 00:17:21 EST

Moving Blankets are not fire proof. . . And you may want to insulate the anvil while welding (or yourself from the anvil). The anvil may not be hot enough to start a fire but the sputter balls will be.

Weld metal is often a very different color than the base metal. Folks have been known to use Ni-Rod (nickle) to weld anvils because they believed they were cast iron. There ARE junk cast iron anvils AND there are hard faced (plated) cast iron bodied anvils. . . (such as Fisher and Vulcan).
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/07/18 08:50:00 EST

Anvil logo identification : Found this anvil locally but cant make out the manufacturer. Looks like its in great. Thanks for your time. https://images.craigslist.org/01717_2aYDhG4JetB_600x450.jpgv
   Bill - Friday, 03/09/18 15:16:43 EST

Not sure how to post a picture : Not sure how to post a picture.
   Bill - Friday, 03/09/18 15:27:51 EST

Once I removed the last v I had no problem bringing the picture up in another window; wish I had a picture of the complete anvil rather than just a blurry picture of a few characters.
   - ThomasP - Friday, 03/09/18 23:21:03 EST

Anvil logo identification :
Bill, It also helps to know what country you are in or that the anvil was found in. Looks like a set of foreign characters on an ground or machined surface. What size is this anvil? We don't need every dimension as that does not help but general weight helps. AND as Thoma noted, a clear photo of the whole.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/10/18 07:47:19 EST

I have more pictures and measurements. . Was just tring to figure out how to put pics up.
   Bill - Saturday, 03/10/18 10:17:37 EST

Bill, due to having a commercial secure server we cannot allow uploads by the public. You may email them to me or host them somewhere else and post the links here.

As I said, measurements mean nothing, just wasted data.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/10/18 14:38:46 EST

Greetings, Steve here from Chattanooga, Tn.. I just picked up a William Foster anvil from a scrap steel yard and am trying to figure my options with it. I have been looking for a decent anvil for some time and have been told that they are usually bringing $5/lb. or more. I am not a blacksmith, nor do I plan to become one, but am a retired Ironworker and welder with several pieces of heavy equipment and a habit of building/repairing things. This anvil has the heel broken off (which I gather is not too uncommon), from what I read in the different forums. As stated, it is a William Foster, dated 1835 and is about a 150# unit. The question I have is, is it possible to replace the heel or should I just use as-is? I only gave $75 for it, so figure surely it will be worth that for what I will be doing with it. Thanks for any input/ advice. Regards, Steve
   - steve chancey - Saturday, 03/10/18 23:15:52 EST

Missing Heel on Wm. Foster :

These old anvils are made of wrought iron with a carbon steel face forge welded on. The face will vary in hardness but are often very hard. The wrought iron can be arc welded but is full of layered slag that melts out as you weld it often producing more slag then the filler you used. . . Just a warning.

Having a broken heal reduces the usability to a smith used to using nothing but complete English pattern anvils. A professional will just blow it off and keep going. . . Lack of usability depends on where the break is. If the anvil still has its hardy hole (the square hole) then there is little loss. If the hardy hole is missing (and this is where they often break) then this hamstrings someone used to using hardies and working with the hardy hole.

As a non-smith this may not be a problem for you. Just having a good hard face, a horn and the mass is all you need and you can do plenty of forging with what you have. Hardies can be supported in a vise or a seperate block, punching can be done using a swage block or bolster.

Heels are generally replaced with something like SAE 4140 and need full penetration welds. Preheating is required and a slow cool recommended. This will soften some of the anvil face but with all the different steels and iron at this point its best to leave it as is.

LAST, Do not hide the fact that you have made such a major repair. However, generally the color and texture of the repair are obvious. For what you have in it a repair will not hurt its value and may increase it (rare for anvil repairs).

Its up to you.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/11/18 12:35:26 EDT

For your usage I don't see that adding a heel will help that much. Great price, USE IT! (I have a heeless Powell that I've been using the heck out of for 15 years now even though I have complete london pattern anvils to hand.)
   - ThomasP - Sunday, 03/11/18 13:51:39 EDT

Early anvils had no heel OR horn. You could do virtually everything you could on a modern anvil. Most of the features of an English (London) pattern anvil are for farriers and horseshoe makers. This design became the Western standard in the 1800's when horse drawn transportation was King and the Farrier kept all those horses moving.

You can make scrolls over edges and flat surfaces. You can also make upsets, offsets and bends over those same (rounded) edges. So the other features are just a convenience.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/11/18 16:41:29 EDT

Anvils : Modern anvils, especially farrier's anvils with their extra pritchel holes and turning lugs and clip tables, &c., are the equivalent of Swiss Army knives. Ancient smiths might have specialized tools and bicks and hardies and such mounted in the anvil stump or on separate stumps.
   Bruce Blackistone Atli - Monday, 03/12/18 18:04:25 EDT

Brand : I'm new to andles and I'm wondering what the brand of an anvil I was given All I can make out on the anvil it's self is that it has an X on it
   Christian Page - Tuesday, 03/13/18 23:53:24 EDT

Christian, It might be a Trenton. Some of their logos were marked TREXTON in a long diamond shape the X (actually two overlapping N's one backwards) in the middle.

Click my name and send a photo and I'll see if I can help.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/14/18 05:23:09 EDT

concrete anvil : I just started to look at blacksmithing as a newly retired person that added a mill to my lathe. I am also a mechanical engineer that designed new products including aerospace devices. The use of concrete in an anvil design that you present is laughable. Concrete needs to be put under compression to have any strength, that is basics of any concrete structural product. Thus a thick piece of steel, my guess no less then 1/2 inch needs to have studs welded to the bottom and fitted through holes in the concrete. On the bottom side a thinner plate will support stacks of belleville springs that put the concrete in compression and the studs in tension. Obviously the base of the concrete will widen at a guess 10 degree taper or more and additional reinforcement will be needed.
   Tom S. - Thursday, 03/15/18 23:25:04 EDT

Tom, Nowhere do I suggest using concrete for making an anvil. In fact I have written several tirades to people that proposed it. We had ONE 16 year old that made a concrete filled anvil that that was an excellent piece of craftsmanship, aside from the concrete. I gave him a pass for hard work and creativity.

What is laughable is your 1/2 (13 mm) plate over concrete. Hand forging produces tremendous repetitive stresses that causes permanent sway in anvils up to 12" (308 cm) or more. We are talking up to 3/8" (11 mm) in hard steel faced wrought iron anvils. Modern all steel anvils are much less prone to this but it is common in old anvils. With a 1/2" hardened steel plate over concrete the concrete will crumble and the plate rapidly become distorted with very little use. By the time you get a plate that will protect the concrete you will have an actual anvil.

Another aspect of anvils is the rebound that lifts the hammer upward a significant distance on ringing blows. A plate or a stack of plates does not do this.

I'll play my decades of Nuclear Equipment Engineering (as sole designer AND builder on many projects, As well as field consultant.) on your Aerospace card.

AND I have a fairly decent collection of machine tools as well as fully equipped blacksmith shop. . .
   - guru - Friday, 03/16/18 19:13:38 EDT

Kanca Anvil : Jock I have seen references to a Kanca anvil sold by centaur forge that claims to be drop forged.
They sure look like castings.
How are they doing this?
Two piece welded construction?
   - TomH - Monday, 03/19/18 17:10:20 EDT

Kanca Anvils : Yes, They are two piece forgings and one of the ugliest anvils made.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/20/18 11:07:47 EDT

Jock I looked up the Kankas and while different I wouldn't go so far as to say uglist. the Chinese copies of the Harbor freight Russian anvil with the diagonal hardy, now those are plain ugly.
   ptree - Wednesday, 03/21/18 20:15:43 EDT

Anvil identification : Wondering if anyone can help ID this anvil. I inherited it. Has been in MN for the last 30-40 years at least. I do have a relative who was a blacksmith back in Norway. The only markings I can read are the numbers 532. I can’t seem to copy pictures into this form, is there somewhere I can e-mail pictures to?

   Dan gronseth - Monday, 03/26/18 10:22:06 EDT

Dan, You can email me and I'll try to ID your anvil. A photo of the bottom is often helpful.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/27/18 19:20:37 EDT

Dans Anvil :
This turned out to be a beautiful symmetrical narrow faced German anvil with a heavy pyramidal base. It was possibly brought from Denmark by his Grandfather.
   - guru - Friday, 03/30/18 22:04:16 EDT

Another anvil question : A friend is downsizing prior to a move. Someone offered him $75 for his anvil, which I knew to be old, but I know nada about anvils. Upon looking, and rubbing over the markings, I found inside of an indented outline that looks like a tag, square on one end, rounded on the other, S.I.S.C.O. Suppro was all that was visible, and I am not sure about the 'o', could be just SISC, and over the the right of that, what looks like Sweden double stamped next to each other "SwedenSweden", but hard to tell. It is clearly marked 88Lbs though. Should I tell him to take the 75 or it is worth more than that?
   Charlie - Thursday, 04/05/18 15:09:22 EDT

Also why? Making a forge larger than you need wastes a LOT of money in propane every time you use it.

How you need to insulate it depends on what temperatures you will be running it at and the type of work you will be doing with it---which you don't mention---much like "I am building a vehicle do I need a gas engine, a diesel engine or a rocket engine?" How do you answer?
   ThomawsP - Thursday, 04/05/18 22:47:31 EDT

SISCO in good condition and depending on location it is worth US$3-5 a pound. As an unknown it's like asking "how much is my used car worth, it's a 4 door Ford" without telling if the engine runs or if it's been totaled in a wreck

Anvils are usually not considered old till they get pre 1800, yes 1800!
   ThomawsP - Thursday, 04/05/18 22:52:39 EDT

Anvils in america book : I wanted to buy the "anvil in america" book, but the cheapest i see it for is $80. Is this the right price? Really just wanted to look up a few dates and history on my anvil. Any advice?
   Bill - Tuesday, 04/17/18 14:24:09 EDT

Anvils In America by Richard Postman : Current list price on AIA is $75. We sell it in our store. All copies we sell are signed by the author. You will find it selling for $100 to $200 on ebay. . . We used to sell it on ebay at the $65 price to keep the others honest but ebay became too difficult to deal with, especially selling books.

AIA was under priced from the start at $65 twenty years ago. Richard raised the price at the beginning of the year due to increased printing costs which had eaten into his meager profit over the years. I tried to convince him to increase the price more. . . It is still hard bound sewn construction as the best books are and has a color slip cover.

The first 1000 copies were numbered which increases their value but all of these were also personally inscribed so the value is reduced unless the person it is inscribed to is someone famous. There are one or two leather bound editions.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/17/18 16:41:38 EDT

Anvils In America :
Is printed and hard bound in the USA. The sewn binding is the most durable of book binding methods.

AIA includes virtually all the catalog and advertising information published as well as private papers supplied by anvil manufacturers or their descendants. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Much of the information was obtained from the now dispersed library of Hunter Pilkinton (dec.) at his of World of Tools Museum. Without this resource (which is now gone) AIA would not nearly be the book it is today. Richard also bought catalog and magazine collections for reference and traveled to many places including England several times researching AIA and the companion book Mousehole Forge. All of the companies Richard got information from are now gone and even the Mousehole forge site is now for sale.

AIA is a once in a century, or more publication. It is a very successful self publication now in its seventh printing for a total of about 10,000 printed. When Richard passes it is doubtful that anyone else will pickup the rights and continue selling it.

Others have published anvil picture books but there has been nothing like Anvils in America and it is doubtful there ever will be again.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/17/18 19:34:05 EDT

tailgate sales : I was browsing the tailgate sales and was just wondering about some of the listings which are several years old. Are these still considered active and/or still for sale? I have just contacted one seller, but given that email addresses do change I'm not sure whether to expect a reply...
   Anthony Weaver - Tuesday, 04/17/18 19:51:13 EDT

Tailgate : Anthony, I remove old ads on request and some according to age. The rest you just have to contact the seller. I'm working on a system that will limit the age of ads.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/18/18 14:05:35 EDT

i am starting my first power hammer build. i am considering the Dempsey quarter elyptical ram assembly. how is the rating of the leaf spring determined let's say for a 35 pound ram? thank you in advance.
   - michael - Saturday, 04/21/18 23:21:46 EDT

The springs each need to be 9 to 11 times the ram weight when preloaded.

Note that our stroke adjustment would have been better if it could have been shorter.

See X1-Power Hammer page 8 "More Changes".
   - guru - Sunday, 04/22/18 10:47:27 EDT

Spring Capacity" This results in a 5 to 7 degree "sag" in the toggles.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/22/18 10:49:06 EDT

40lb Hammer :
Here is one of my designs for a 40lb. Hammer that uses rubber die springs.

   - guru - Sunday, 04/22/18 12:55:47 EDT

Rubber-Dupont :
The only complicated part of this design is the two round disks with radiused faces where the rubbers contact each other. While I show them hemispherical they could be rectangular with simple curved rocker faces. These parts are welded onto the plunger rods that pass through the rubbers and into the guide blocks.

As the rubbers compress the plunger rods slide in the guide blocks. These can be plain steel OR have bronze bushings pressed in. I suspect that steel on steel will work just fine with a little lubrication.

Not obvious is the fact that the lower 1/4 of the arms is solid 1.25" material as is the top cross bar. Socket Head Shoulder bolts are used for pivots at the top, bottom and on the ram.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/22/18 13:22:02 EDT

Rubber-Dupont : Note that the reason the springs are much heavier that the 9 or 10 to one I mentioned for the quarter elliptic is the leverage of the lever arms.
   - guru - Monday, 04/23/18 16:03:19 EDT

1st power hammer build : i am starting my first power hammer build. i am undecided as to which toggle system to use; the Dupont or the Dempsey Quarter Elliptic. how is the spring rating calculated for a given ram weight, whether it's a leaf spring or coil spring?
   michael cassetta - Thursday, 04/26/18 19:16:00 EDT

1st power hammer build : thanks. sorry to ask theis question again. i learning my way around this ebsite
   michael cassetta - Thursday, 04/26/18 19:23:45 EDT

1st power hammer build : how much preload needs to be on the springs. is the 9-11 times the ram weight for one halve the leaf spring? so i'm guessing that a 1000 lb trailer spring cut in half would be in the ballpark?
   michael cassetta - Thursday, 04/26/18 19:29:20 EDT

Yes for 1/2
   - guru - Friday, 04/27/18 16:55:38 EDT

Note that you are better to have a heavier spring than too light. A heavier spring results in a stiff but controllable hammer. Too light makes a sloppy hard to control hammer.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/28/18 03:57:03 EDT

bow spring : ok. if one was to choose the bow spring arrangement how would you calculate the spring rating?
   michael cassetta - Saturday, 04/28/18 19:08:40 EDT

Michael, This is an iterative process. You start with some guesswork and then work from there.

Guess one, Length of toggles to spring ends.

Then using vectors you need to determine the force required to balance the ram weight with the toggles at 5 to 10 degrees from level. Work up several data points 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 degrees. Then determine the spring to fit. NOTE: The capacity needed is the outward force of the spring NOT the (published) force it would take as an axle spring.

IF a spring can be fitted to support the ram at close to 5 degrees then you are done. IF NOT, then change the toggles as necessary. As the toggles become longer the necessary spring force increases so short toggles as on our X1 and X2 hammers is beneficial.

NOTE that at 0 degrees the force necessary is INFINITY and should generate an error OR INFINITY in a computer or calculator. This is what gives the Dupont style linkages with toggle arms that hard "snap" when they strike - the ram is virtually free floating at the mid point between negative and positive toggle angle. This is why the springs must support the ram NEAR a straight line but can never achieve a true straight line.

When the the support angle is known then the normal height of the ram is determined. It should be just just high enough that the dies do not close at rest (with the crank at Bottom Dead Center). Thus there is very little extra spring compression when the hammer strikes AND a dwell period before the ram is lifted. The dwell gives the hammer time to move the hot iron.

In the upward direction the toggles should be able to rotate to 45 degrees. Somewhere before reaching the 45 degree maximum travel the springs should stop the upward motion of the ram. This is determined by the spring rate vs. the inertia at the hammer's full speed. Normally if the spring can support the ram at 5 degrees or less then the spring will be sufficient at the top end.


I'm sorry I do not have all the formulas for doing this. Its all high school math and physics but that was 50 years ago for me. I used to do this as part of my work but then I usually wrote off the cuff programs that printed out a table of results . . But that was 25 years ago. Lack of use really is hard on this kind of brain work. . .

   - guru - Sunday, 04/29/18 08:42:24 EDT

bow spring : great! thank you so much for your time.
   michael cassetta - Sunday, 04/29/18 15:24:28 EDT

slack belt clutch : How much elongation between the axles of the pulleys on a slack belt clutch is optimal when the treadle has been depressed?
   Jeremy Pugh - Wednesday, 05/02/18 12:13:36 EDT

slack belt clutch : All you need is a little more than is required to stop driving the secondary. Normally you would like the motor or driver end to lose contact with the belt so it does not burn a place in the belt.

The second criteria is the travel on the treadle and the leverage necessary to make the belt tight. Most belts have some stretch so you need to be able to tighten the belt to full contact PLUS take up stretch and tension the belt. Generally you need some adjustment on the treadle link so that it does not bottom out on the floor or the machine.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/03/18 00:53:15 EDT

anvil identification : I am trying to identify an Anvil thats around 400lbs based on castings. Where should i turn to?
   Jase - Thursday, 05/03/18 23:26:08 EDT

Anvil ID : Jase, You may send me photos and I;ll try to help. Click my name and mail photos to my address.

Note that only a general ID can be made unless the anvil is marked. Clean the sides before photographing.
   - guru - Friday, 05/04/18 02:13:16 EDT

gas line plumbing : I am plumbing the gas lines for a new shop. 40 x 60'. I am planning on bringing a 3/4" black iron pipe along the ceiling and then dropping tees where i want gas lines. I have 12 foot ceilings. I am trying to avoid gas lines on the floor but not sure if it is better to run the black iron over the forge area and then have copper line drop down to the forges. Seems like a lot of pipe to be hanging from the ceiling, otherwise it would be 10' - 20' along the floor.Any suggestions? Thanks
   Steven Bronstein - Friday, 05/04/18 12:51:51 EDT

Gas pipe drops : It is very common to have iron pipe drops that are longer then you mention. The pipe is held usually to a column or wall with one hole straps, a standard cast iron or steel part bought at any piping supply shop. If dropped away from a wall or column, then the straps are applied to the horizontal runs and need to go into structural members such as a truss or a board placed over a gaped area. If possible the bottom end is secured to a machine or sometimes a stand bolted to the floor. At the end of the pipe you need a tee so that the gas line turns 90 degrees making it parrel to the floor, with a 6 or 8" nipple below with a cap as a drip leg. the horizontal run should be valves, and may I commend to you a ball valve as they are now very reliable, cheap, and best fast closing if a leak occurs. When doing the runs in the ceiling, may I commend to you that every where a 90 is needed, instead put a Tee with a plug, as that allows future leg additions with much less fuss for a very small increase in cost. Also instead of the crappy coupling that may come with the pipe, again use tees with plugs. Use a pipe dope rated for gas not Teflon tape.
   ptree - Saturday, 05/05/18 07:16:50 EDT

Gas Line Plumbing :
Steven, This kind of work is covered by the building codes and is supposed to be performed by a licensed plumber. While you may not be covered by building codes or are in a lax area your home owners insurance or fire insurance company may have requirements covering this.

That said, Gas distribution should be the same iron pipe including drops to the nearest connection point. Be sure to use the correct gas pipe dope on all connections. Leak test every connection.

The last gas manifold I installed I used black iron pipe from a point just above the bulk gas tank to as close as possible on the wall to the forge/furnace locations. Terminations had valves and then copper lines were run to the appliance. I also installed "B" type fuel hose connectors (1/4 NPT Right-Hand Male x 9/16"-18 UNF Left-Hand Male regulator type fitting) at locations to attach oxy/fuel torches with oxygen bottle tie chains next to them. These were used for bulk heating (rosebud) torches.

Mid shop forge locations can use vertical drops to within a few feet of the forge then a flexible connection. I prefer standard welding hose connections on all my equipment but this may not be "code" where you are. Gas space heaters are also a possibility.

Advance planning is the difficult part of such an installation as it is rather permanent and shop arrangements tend to change over time. While you are planning piping you might want to run air lines.

Dean at Big BLU is insistent about having no cords and hoses on the floor for safety reasons. They have both electric and hose reels located throughout the shop. Their primary MIG welder is ceiling or jib crane mounted. I've thought about doing the same with my buzz box. It may need to be mounted upside down or sideways to make the control accessible. This could cover a large shop area with relatively short cables and a single welding outlet (or connection). As it is not very heavy the jib could be relatively light.

Permanent benches or islands (vise mountings as well) are well served by under floor electric and air - even if it must be cut into an existing floor. Then outlets are wired into the bench. Woodworkers who need saws centrally mounted with lots of floor space say the best thing they did was put an outlet in the floor (often required to have one of those brass covers).
   - guru - Saturday, 05/05/18 07:24:39 EDT

Hose and Cable Reels :
While I am not crazy about these devices they sure clear up clutter. I had a service station in the 1970's and it a grease gun and air hose on reels in the high bay and air hoses on reels at both ends of the pump islands. There was also air taps with quick disconnects in the wash bay and at both bay doors with water nearby each.

This just goes to show what experience and money can do. Phillips 66 had spent years building service stations and their architects were told to make them neat and efficient. I think they did a very good job.

After the service station I was in a garage that a friend was re-habbing from storage garage to working garage. The building had been a steam era laundry and there was miles of steam pipe throughout the building. We took down miles of piping and then I used it to run air and water to all four work bays along with electric outlets next to same (also using scrap EMT conduit and wire).

We did not have height for a lift so I designed and built a drive on ramp. We trenched through the concrete to run electric over to it for lights.

My partner liked the way I had setup the auto bays so much that when he moved the family machine shop they put in pedestals at each machine location with 3PH 240, 1PH 120, air and water. They had to put in a new concrete floor so all this was buried in the floor. This cleared up an unbelievable amount of clutter as most machine tools end up with auxiliary lights, air powered lube or cooling systems and other things needing power. A gang of four 120V outlets is just barely enough. Consider a Bridgeport type mill - a DRO, two power feeds, one aux light. . . and those are just the "standard" items. Note that the DRO should be on a UPS to prevent surge damage.

When I was wiring my "Grand Shop" that I lost in the divorce, I put outlets, triple phone, a network and a cable TV connection in at least two places in the upstairs office and store rooms as well as extra electrical outlets. I did not finish the downstairs but had put in three welding outlets with more 240 connections planned. This was just before the wireless revolution so all the telephony and data cable was necessary. The three phones were Home, Office and FAX. Today I have portable phones on the ground line and the FAX is a relic of the past as documents are converted to JPEG's or PDF's and sent by email. . . But I would welcome more hard wired phone jacks as the portable does not work without power. . . Hmmmmm it SHOULD be on the UPS. . .

Do you have a post vise on a floor pedestal? Where is the nearest outlet and air? The most common tools used at a vise are an angle grinder and a die grinder? An outlet on the vise pedestal sure would be handy. Underfloor would be the cleanest. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 05/05/18 23:02:46 EDT

Ceiling Plumbing : These are all the questions I have asking myself. We went with radiant heat in the floor so no room for other lines in the floor. In my last shop we ran black iron on the walls to manifolds with ball valves for each connection. For middle of the room forge locations I can come down from the 12' ceiling with a leg of black iron. Coiled copper tubing to the forge. Do I need to fab an extra bracket to support the iron drop downs. I have not seen a fitting for that situation. Thanks
   Steven Bronstein - Saturday, 05/05/18 23:40:00 EDT

I went to the bottom of the main page. There is a highlighted text to email the guru. I did the required test page to show i was a human then filled out the email and there is no send button! What the heck!!
   - William Ross Smith - Sunday, 05/06/18 00:34:04 EDT

William, Unless you had a page loading problem, OR you didn't scroll down far enough there are three red buttons, SUBMIT, CLEAR and PRIVACY POLICY below the comments block (which is relatively large).
   - guru - Sunday, 05/06/18 01:22:56 EDT

Ceiling Plumbing :
If you do as PTree suggested and use a T rather than an L then you can use a 6" nipple beyond the T and use two pipe hangers.

If you want something stiffer to protect the drop threads (where pipes break) then you would need to make your own support from plate with a couple U bolts to clamp the pipe a short distance below the threads.

In floor heating is pretty classy but how do you bolt down machinery? Do you have a separate power hammer foundation?
   - guru - Sunday, 05/06/18 01:34:46 EDT

Seeking an apprenticeship : Hello there. Im fresh out of frank turleys blacksmithing school and am seeking an apprenticeship. I come with mostly my own tools and im ready to learn everything you’re willing to teach me. Please give me a call at(620) 282-8358 thanks
   Paul H Main - Monday, 05/07/18 22:52:37 EDT

radiant floor and power hammer : Well....this is the scariest part of my plan. I live in Vermont and there are good reasons for a radiant floor. However, I was convinced it was ill advised to not run it everywhere on the floor because the temperature differential could cause ice problems. Regardless, I took that advice and was told my 5" thick,high strength concrete could support my 100# Fairbanks on a rubber mat and 6"timbers. I will secure around the edges with an angle iron frame screwed 2" into the concrete. The tubing runs below that, I hope. I was told that the concrete might crack but not shift and shear the tubing if we did our prep correctly......I know there are a lot of ifs and counter to the conventional wisdom. This required a huge leap of faith in people with technical skills greater than mine. I hope I am not disappointed. It main mean that I end up with a cold floor and conventional heating in the future.
   Steven Bronstein - Tuesday, 05/08/18 08:37:00 EDT

radiant floor and power hammer :
An option to the timbers might be a heavy steel plate (2 to 6") under the hammer to add to the anvil mass and distribute the load. However, I've seen a lot of hammers just sitting bare on a concrete floor with no issues after many years. Just be sure to give your pad as much time as you can afford to cure (a year is recommended but is overly optimistic).

I understand the warm feet issue. Back in the 90's when I first started gaining weight I went through a period of extreme foot pain when standing on a hard surface. My feet were so sensitive I could tell the difference between standing on a concrete floor and a frozen clay surface. The concrete hurt more. Since then the issue has gone somewhat but as soon as I have permanent work stations I will put down rubber mats to reduce fatigue.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/08/18 11:38:54 EDT

radiant floor and power hammer : I also considered making a steel tray to hold sand with a 1" plate on top of the sand. What do you think?
   Steven Bronstein - Tuesday, 05/08/18 11:50:04 EDT

Buffalo Anvil Info : I have the opportunity to purchase a couple of anvils. Both have raised lettering. One says "Buffalo" and the other "Buffalo Taiwan." Before I travel a ways to check them out, can you tell me if they are worth looking at? I have searched and search online and not found any info as to cast vs. forged, iron vs steel, quality, etc.

   Jonathan - Wednesday, 05/09/18 14:37:59 EDT


Avoid these Anvil Shaped Objects (ASO's) unless they are selling for 50 cents a pound or less. At this price you can always use them as dead weight or for abuse that you would not want to put a real anvil.

These anvils are either cast iron OR low grade unheattreated ductile iron. These are not anvil materials. Advertisements for such objects just plain LIE about the material calling it "steel". Steel is a mixture of iron and carbon plus some silicon and other alloying ingredients. But so is cast iron. Cast iron just has a LOT of carbon which makes it very brittle but easy to melt and cast. ASO makers justify their lie because the elements are the same. . . Its like saying an outhouse is the same as a piece of fine furniture because they are both made of wood.

the Taiwaneese are also great for coming up with English or North American sounding names for their products, some of which are good and others junk.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/10/18 10:05:02 EDT

Sand :
Under vibration dry sand flows like water.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/10/18 10:06:01 EDT

heat mass for gas forge : I have always used a hard brick forge for the bottom of my gas forges, soft brick sides, and blanket on top. I had always assumed that having a mass to hold onto heat would help maintain forge temperature when I had a load of cold metal. Is this correct? or would the benefit of more insulation offset the required preheat time for a forge to come up to temperature.

Definitely no sand under the power hammer. I thought I had seen that done. It may have been the hammer was floating on pillars and the sand was just to increase the mass of the supporting block.
   Steven Bronstein - Thursday, 05/10/18 18:18:38 EDT

heat mass for gas forge :
Steven, Excess mass is good if you want to use your forge for several hours after turning it off.

Yes, the extra mass helps retain heat and keep the temperature steadier when you put cold steel in the forge. But it also takes time (and money) to heat up and then takes time to cool.

First, hard refractory bricks are NOT insulating. If they are used for mass they should have insulating bricks, board or blanket OUTSIDE of them. In my small forges I use 1" of refractory board under the 1.25" split bricks. IF I was building a larger heavy duty forge I would use full thickness bricks over 1.5" of board. All the upper parts of my current forges are being built with folded blanket about 3" thick. This extends down the sides of the floor insulating the edges of the bricks.

This is very similar to current industrial practice where car bottom forges have heavy hard brick floors and blanket walls up to 12" thick.

The big advantage to lightweight well insulated construction is fast heat up times, operating efficiency and portability. The first two gas forges I built with heavy steel and brick took a fork lift to move and ganged bottles to operate. My new forges can be picked up with one hand and are plenty durable.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/10/18 20:17:31 EDT

Hammer Help : My favorite Swedish-pattern medium-weight hammer has either been put down in some completely obscure and inaccessible place by me; borrowed by the crew or a friend and put down in some obscure location in the barn or ship shelter or ship shed; or has grown legs and walked away.

Since they didn’t have the right size available at the BGOP Spring Fling, either tailgate or vendors, I have decided to make my own (or maybe a pair), and I’m looking at a square 1” X 1” jack hammer bit as possible stock. I figure this is sufficiently tough, and I plan to not harden it, but to just normalize it so it doesn’t ding up the anvil.

So, in the area of junkyard steel- too soft and the face (and peen) mushroom, too hard and the anvil dings or chips. Any experience with jackhammer bits as hammer stock?

(I’m also contemplating a wrought iron and steel model, but that another project.)
   Bruce Blackistone Atli - Thursday, 05/10/18 20:49:14 EDT

Scrap question : Been pondering a problem: Is it OK, do you folks think, to toss high-carbon and alloy steel in with mild steel scrap? I have a relatively small pile of heat-treatable scrap objects, like aborted hammer heads, busted chisels, etc, not worth working with. How should I scrap them? If I include them in regular scrap, am I not "polluting" the global recycled steel reserve with traces of alloying elements that slowly degrade mild steel quality? Or am I overthinking this? I just don't know of a way to get rid of alloy steel that would keep it separated from the main A36 herd.
   - Eric T - Thursday, 05/10/18 20:52:05 EDT

scrap question : Short answer: 'yes', but I wouldn't worry about it much, considering the thousands of tons of assorted scrap that get melted down every day. They don't separate the parts of a car before it gets shredded.
Silicon and manganese are in all steel; they and carbon get adjusted during the heat, so even spring steels like SAE 9260 don't cause any problems. Chromium, nickel, copper, molybdenum, and a few others do remain in the melt and accumulate, but a few pounds of low alloy scrap in a forty-ton heat of steel would not be noticeable. Check with your scrapyard about keeping them separate, but unless you are in a heavily-industrialized area I doubt that they do.
   Jan - Friday, 05/11/18 10:57:11 EDT

heat mass for gas forge : Thanks Guru, always so very helpful. I really appreciate it.

Is there a way to support your website, I want to make sure you keep going. Thank you.
   Steven Bronstein - Friday, 05/11/18 14:01:25 EDT

Supporting anvilfire :
Currently our only support is via our store (which has had a VERY slow month - I think due to the ABANA conference.). Besides buying things there is a cash transaction page where you could make a donation. It is set at a minimum of $3 because anything less can result in a loss due to card handling fees.

Yeah. . we need MORE things to sell. I'm working on that.


   - guru - Friday, 05/11/18 15:30:17 EDT

Pneumatic Hammer Bits as Hammer Stock :
Bruce, This is a good choice. Generally it is an oil hardening steel and can be tempered nicely by the Turley method of using a heated ring and holding it around the hammer eye until you see the colors start to run then requench to stop the tempering. This makes the eye the softest and the working surfaces the hardest.

The trick to not dinging an anvil is properly radiused face and corners on your hammers. THEN, working points and thin stock (knife edges) at the edge of the anvil.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/12/18 00:06:48 EDT

Spark test the jackhammer bit; while many junkyard steel lists show them to be S-7, (I believe due to Machinerys Handbook saying that S-7 would be a good alloy for that use, of course titanium would be great for car bodies too, seen any of them lately), Grant who had a long career of resharpening them said almost all he had worked with were 1040/1045 variants, Quite old ones were 1078 Modern ones may include boron in the alloy. Atli; I have retained a copy of Grant Sarver's original post on this subject if you would like to see it
   Thomas P - Monday, 05/14/18 12:24:29 EDT

Hammer Stock Anvilfire Store : Good advise, thank you both. I'll retest a bit; and I would like to see Grant's comments; especially since I'll still have some goodly chunks of the bit left. (Or maybe some goodly bits of the chunk. ;^)

Meanwhile, I should probably order some ITC 100 in the near future; the insulation in the "Baby Balrog" is getting a little bare in spots. The padawans try their best, but things do tend to scrape across the insulation.
   Bruce Blackistone Atli - Monday, 05/14/18 22:21:21 EDT

Atli: Sent to the asylum!
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/15/18 21:17:36 EDT

making dies for little giant 25 lbs. : I am thinking about making the top dies of the two part die system out of anealed 4140 1.5 x 2" stock. what would be the best way to harden them
   DAVID ASTAFAN - Wednesday, 05/16/18 10:05:08 EDT

making dies for little giant 25 lbs. :

See Heat Treating 4140 Dies Read all the way to the end.

Note that many (most?) Little Giants have peculiar top dies with a flat front and a compound taper on the rear. The compound taper is a combination of dovetail and wedge taper. Be sure your replacement die(s) are the correct height. Too short of dies in Little Giants result in springs bottoming out OR toggle arms binding and bending (depending on the model).
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/16/18 13:50:36 EDT

Mail : Bruce, asylum @ did not like my anvilfire address so I sent to your gmail account.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/17/18 00:16:42 EDT

Fixed broken heat treat link . .
   - guru - Thursday, 05/17/18 17:36:48 EDT

quenching brazed steel : I forge brazed a new claw onto a hammer with pure copper and I want to harden it next. The joint is approximately one square inch and the clearance is under .005. Would, or could, there be any undesirable effect on the joint by oil quenching at critical temperature (about 1600F here)?
   fox - Friday, 05/18/18 05:41:31 EDT

quenching brazed steel :
It should work. But why do you want to do so? The copper joint is already weaker than the normalized steel by about half and will be less than 20% - 25% the strength of the hardened part. That assumes a perfect joint. If the joint has any inclusions or gaps then the joint could be as low as 10% the strength of the part.
   - guru - Friday, 05/18/18 10:01:55 EDT

Maybe the face is normalized as well?
   Mike BR - Friday, 05/18/18 18:31:48 EDT

Power Hammer Foundation : I am still trying to deal with a not really flat, newly poured concrete shop floor. We got hit with a cold snap on the day we poured and just had to keep moving. So when I tried to set my power hammer it was noticably out of square. I could put it on a larger mass to help it locate but that would add some other problems. So what if laid down a rubber mat and made a 2" angle iron frame set on 3/4" plywood. The frame would be an open box that would be able to conform to the variations of the floor. I would fill the frame with staymat which is packable crushed stone with a good mix of fines. We use it on roads here and it packs hard. I could level the material put another layer of wood on top and then set my hammer on a more level surface. I know I am overthinking but I am concerned that if the hammer is not sitting plumb, I will regret it later. Thanks
   Steven Bronstein - Friday, 05/18/18 20:54:37 EDT

Truing the hammer :
First, set the machine as plumb as possible with wedges, THEN check the dies for level. In the end you want your working surface level - even though it does not make as much difference on a hammer as say a surface grinder. . . On a two piece hammer the alignment of the anvil may be an issue that needs to be addressed.

The traditional, hard way to do this is fit a good layer of wood (say 2x4's) to the floor. Normally this would have been set into the concrete foundation but now you need to fit it to the floor. Get out some paint or bluing and a plane, hammer and chisel and fit to the floor. Minor issues could be taken care of with heavy caulk when you fix the wood plate to the floor.

THEN do the same with the hammer. DO NOT trust the bottom of the hammer frame OR anvil to be flat OR true. These are often as-cast and not flat or true to each other on two piece hammers.

YES, this takes a bunch of picking and setting the hammer over and over. BUT, if you use a straight edge on the bottom of the hammer and keep your wits about you the fitting should not take long.

Alternatively you could bed the wood to the floor with epoxy (use a layer of plastic to prevent permanent damage to the floor. Then bed the base of the machine to the top of the wood. You could true the hammer with some small wedges and then pour the epoxy inside a dam so it flows under the hammer. You could do the same with the wood to get it close to level to start out.

Old machine tools used to be carefully shimmed to level then "bedded in" with non-shrink or expanding cement. However, this does not work well with hammers.
   - guru - Friday, 05/18/18 22:27:44 EDT

Truing the hammer : thanks
   Steven Bronstein - Saturday, 05/19/18 11:59:20 EDT

Tire Power Hammer : Is there an article or reference to the arms length on a power hammer? I am a hands on build by sight type of person, but would like to know a little math behind figuring how long to build the arms coming down to the linkage. I usually just do trial and error but in this case it gets a little expensive when you end up with more arms than you need that are to short. I'm sure it has to do with the radius of the drive wheel pin placement and how much travel is there. I see a lot of varying lengths in pictures. And if the weight of the hammer is increased does the length of travel need to increase as well?

I am reading plan after plan and articles every day but most just give you a set length for that particular hammer but no info an how they arrived at that.

Sorry if this is a little dumb but sometimes I need to know why not just the answer.
   Zane Nail - Monday, 05/21/18 12:33:34 EDT

dry, dusty dirt floor : how can i keep the dust down and even make it "hard"?
   jim - Tuesday, 05/22/18 10:38:11 EDT

Dusty Floor :
There are two methods. One is to rake the surface then apply waste petroleum oil. There are environmental and safety issues with this but it works.

The other is to use calcium chloride. Google "dusty floor calcium chloride". You will find all kinds of advise.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/22/18 17:04:02 EDT

Dusty Floor : Calcium chloride settles dust, but remember that it doesn't play well with steel. It is notorious for causing rust, even worse than salt, since it doesn't dry out.
   Jan - Tuesday, 05/22/18 18:41:06 EDT

Power hammer Arm and Toggle Length :
Good question, no simple answer.

First, the longer the arms and toggles the greater the stroke increase and the greater the necessary spring travel. There is also the matter of the leverage applied to the spring so that it must have a greater force than needed at the toggles.

There are two basic types of hammer mechanisms relative to the arms and toggles. 1) Fixed crank stroke 2) Adjustable crank stroke.

Last, both types of hammer above need a working-height adjustment.

In most cheaper fixed stroke hammers like the Little Giant, long arms are used to give a greater increase in stroke. This has two disadvantages, 1) The danger of the thrashing arms and possibility of getting hit in the head. 2) Difficulty of control.

In most commercial grade hammers like Bradley and Fairbanks the stroke is adjustable and therefore the linkage does not need to create a lot of additional stroke. With a very short stroke setting you get gentle pats suitable for delicate forging OR planishing. At the longest setting you can wail away at a large piece of work and move a lot of metal quickly.

SO. . . it comes down to hammer features and controlability.

When I designed the X-1 the stroke adjustment was via a range of threaded holes to move the crank pin in the crank plate. The limitation was the diameter of the shaft piercing the crank plate. This put my shortest pin hole at 1.25" from center for a 2.5" stroke. The greatest stroke is 4.5". While this range of adjustment is useful it is not as good as I wanted. On the X-2 I planned two types of crank plate. One has a flange and blind hole for the shaft so that the crank pin can be closer to the center. The second is an adjustable slide on the front of the crank plate (a lot of machining). Offering such options is one reason the plansa are not finished. . . too many choices.

The advantage of the threaded pin holes is simplicity. The disadvantage is that there is not room for a lot of holes near center so fine adjustment is not possible. The movable slide can move the crank pin from dead center (no stroke) to maximum easily. Having an infinite adjustment at near center allows for finding the exact sweet spot you want. This is more advantageous at short strokes than heavy power strokes.

ONE MORE THING: The lighter the hammer relative to the size of the forging the greater the stroke increase you want. Everyone wants their 30 pound hammer to perform like a 100 or their 100 to perform like a 250. . . But remember, this increase in power comes with loss of control making delicate work difficult.

Starting Points: The static ram "hanging height" is roughly the starting thickness of your work. At this point your toggles should be at 5 to 9 degrees from level (a straight line). At the top of the stroke the toggles should move UP a maximum of 45 degrees. On lifting the ram the toggles can move down a maximum of 45 degrees.

Working out the motions is complicated and I highly recommend that you built a cardboard or tag-board model with pins and play with it. This will help you determine the spring length and if parts are going to crash.

If you really want to understand what is happening in this type linkage we sell the Little Giant Tune Up Video Dave Manzer

Politicians think compromise is a big deal but in engineering you start with compromises and end with optimized compromises. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/22/18 18:19:52 EDT

Jan I moved your post up next to mine as it is important information.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/22/18 21:01:18 EDT

NC Anvils : Beginner blacksmith, live in Ft. Stewart, Georgia, 28 y/o. I do general tool/knife/tomahawk type projects and use a vertical RR anvil (I based my design partially on your article Mr. Guru, thanks for that). I was shopping anvils online and noticed that Centaur Forge has NC brand US made fast steel anvils, #120 for about $4/pound. Problem is that these are marketed as “dual purpose” anvils suitable for both blacksmith and farrier work. They do look like they have a lot of mass under the working surface, not at all the stretched out monstrosities that I was led to believe a farrier’s anvil is. Still, I’m spooked by the weird features. Are these anvils a viable option for blacksmiths?
   - Rob - Thursday, 05/24/18 09:41:21 EDT

Anvil Types :
Rob, All anvils with a horn and a pritchel hole are "dual use" as these were features originally added for farriers. Later general purpose anvils were modified by adding a second pritichel hole and removal of part of the chisel table. This was usually on a wasp waisted anvil of 200 pounds or less. Later what is known as a clip horn was added to one or both sides of the horn. This was still on a basic London/American anvil pattern.

It was not until the modern era that really specialized farrier anvils were designed. These were the extreme feature "race track" farrier anvils with large bulbous horns, an extremely narrow waist and thin light feet.

NC Makes a variety of anvil shapes most of which I consider farrier's anvils. Which one are you looking at? I've also known a couple smiths that used them and liked them. I personally prefer something heavier with more mass under the face. I think you will find a small NC to be very bouncy compared to your vertical axis RR rail anvil. But they ARE a good buy per pound.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/24/18 16:00:46 EDT

NC Anvil Particulars : The anvil is the 112lb Cavalry Anvil
Item Number: 18NC112

   - Rob - Thursday, 05/24/18 16:20:41 EDT

NC Calvary :
Yep, That's a typical NC. Its a very "feature rich" anvil that is probably more applicable to light decorative work than to knife making.

I guess the big difference is that the features replace a lot of specialized tools so the farrier does not need to carry them. A blacksmith tends to make his own special tools and have them stacked all over the shop. Special tools also are made to fit a heavy vise. .

This is a decision you will have to make for yourself. If YOU like it, buy it. If not, keep looking.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/24/18 20:51:30 EDT

There is also a trade off between time spent looking and price. If you get off the internet and start networking you can often find a good anvil far cheaper than buying one from folks who are trying to make money selling them.
This usually involves talking with *everyone* you meet. *Everyone* Last anvil I found this way belonged to a lady in her 90's. My 468# anvil came from talking to a young guy selling greasy car parts at a fleamarket---his uncle had it and wanted to sell it. Mint condition US 75 cents a pound...
   ThomasP - Friday, 05/25/18 13:13:10 EDT

While people complain about current used anvil prices it is because they are looking a prices from people who are reselling anvils and know their top values. But there are still many (probably millions) of anvils in the hands of individuals who are happy to take 50 to 100 dollars for that old lump of iron. . . As Thomas says AND we say in our article on finding anvils, you have to ask everyone you meet everywhere. Ask the checker at the grocery store, your pharmacist, your relatives. . . This is a good reason to ask WHO are your aunts and uncles and where do they live?

Even when folks know the value you can find deals. The last time I was at Quadstate I bought a nice 120 pound Mousehole anvil for $145. I actually OFFERED the fellow more because I did not want to be seen cheating someone. But he said, no, he was selling it for a friend and the friend set the price. The anvil was a little rough around the edges but the face was good. About 6 others were standing around listening to our negotiation, perhaps waiting for a lower price while I whipped out the $145. . . You snooze you lose.

As old and rough as this anvil is, I would not trade it for 3 NC Calvary anvils. . .

I've been GIVEN anvils by relatives AND people unknown! I've had people BRING me anvils to buy (for $1 a pound).

The last leg vise I bought was a similar deal. A fellow at a flea market was holding a small 50 pound vise up on his tailgate and a crowd was looking at it commenting about the bent handle and leg. . . He had a $75 price tag on it. . . I whipped out the money, pushed through the crowd and said, SOLD. When we got it home it took less than 5 minutes to straighten the soft iron parts with a couple taps of a hammer. . . Its the vise in our leg vise article on the red stand. The vise was SO unused that it had sharp flashing burrs all over it that I had to take a file to.

Not every deal is a good one. . . I recently bought a Wilton drill press vise on ebay. I knew it had a bent handle and the jaws had been replaced with wood. But when I got it and looked at it in real life it was the screw that was bent (more than the handle) and the movable jaw retainer underneath was missing. . . It can still be fixed and I can make the missing parts but it was nearly as good a "deal" as I thought it was. . . That is the down side of buying via photos.

   - guru - Friday, 05/25/18 14:40:00 EDT

Relatives and anvils : Relatives and anvils. . . When doing blacksmithing demos I think EVERY person who stopped to talk had a grandfather who was a "blacksmith". Well. . . they probably weren't blacksmiths, they were probably farmers who had an anvil to shoe their draft animals OR make repairs to equipment. Today all those farmers have arc welders. It doesn't make them professional weldors.

Anyway. . . my point is, ALL those people had someone in the family who HAD an anvil. Its a good reason to do a little genealogy (ASK questions!).

"My Grandfather's anvil" - This may not be what it seems to be. Discount stores have been selling cast iron ASO's since the 1800's. One of these that I was asked to ID for a young woman was a recent "Made in India" anvil from someplace like HF or NT. Remember, today, someone's grandfather may have been born in the 1960's. . . and his "old" anvil from the 1980's.
   - guru - Friday, 05/25/18 15:02:14 EDT

Sears Roebuck sold complete blacksmithing kits at various quality levels. I have reprints of their 1897, 1905 and 1908 catalogs. The 1897 has the motto "Every Farmer His Own Blacksmith" (and sells Vulcan anvils)
   ThomasP - Thursday, 05/31/18 00:13:43 EDT

The 1915-17 Sears Blacksmiths Tools Catalog has most of what was in the earlier catalogs but also includes dozens of Engine Lathes. This was due to a great deal of the blacksmiths work shifting to repairing steam engines and the new automobiles that we replacing their bread and butter work of the horse and carriage.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/31/18 00:30:59 EDT

Tapering : I am a young teenage blacksmith with little experience. I have been blacksmith for a month or two. I have been doing several projects that require tapering and with out fail, I always produce cold shuts. Any tips on how to avoid this would be very helpful. Thank you.
   Eli Crosley - Thursday, 05/31/18 16:56:58 EDT

Tapering : I’m a new blacksmith working out of Dayton Ohio. I’m 19 and brand new to the craft. I’ve been doing a few projects the require tapering. I’ve gotten several cold shuts. Any tips on avoid those? Sorry if I posted twice...technology isn’t my forte.
   Eli Crosley - Thursday, 05/31/18 17:06:39 EDT

Tapering OR Pointing :
Eli, Are you making long points (tapered in all directions), or plain flat tapers (like a screw driver)?

There are two types of cold shuts when forging tapers and points.

1) Bird or Fish mouthing where the surface metal pushes out beyound the end of the work.

2) Crumpling where the work is forged too thin in on one axis before working in the opposite axis.

Working too cold can also increase the risk of cold shuts.

IF you are getting bird or fish mouth cold shuts then you are working off the end of the work at too steep an angle AND/OR with a surface heat. A hard blow just behind the point SHOULD push the middle of the work out. If not then the work is cold in the middle and hot on the surface.

When making points it is easy to get cold shuts if you work the stock too far in one direction before working the other. To avoid this you want to strike the work only once or twice before rolling it over to the next axis. Then gentler as the section becomes small.

With practice and the development of your skills you will strike the work with more control keeping the blow square to the axis of the work. This will allow forging of a slender section without crumpling or folding the work.

When there is ANY crumpling you should turn the work and straighten it (without reducing it further) before continuing. A practiced smith does this so fast that you do not usually see it as it is just one more flip of the work and a lighter than forging blow among many.

If you are making long tapers for scrolls it is beneficial to work the lesser taper away from the point then take another heat and do the end second. This seems backward but it helps isolate the end and hold the heat when forging the point. You are also not reheating a slender point that is likely to burn.
   - guru - Friday, 06/01/18 09:24:08 EDT

Eli; you do realize that one of the most renowned Blacksmithing groups in the world is just north of you at Troy Ohio: SOFA. Last time I checked they had classes and open forge nights as well as meetings and the Justly Famous Quad-State Blacksmiths Round-Up. Hie thee to a Smithery! (We used to carpool to meetings from Columbus OH)
   ThomasP - Friday, 06/01/18 15:55:25 EDT

shop ventilation : well now that the new shop is completed I have a new challenge. My old shop was fairly uninsulated and had a dirt floor. I had a trap door in the ceiling to vent the hot air from the gas forge into the attic and had an exhaust fan in the attic. Because of the air change overnight and the dirt floor, it was always cool when I returned the next day. Now I have an extremely well insulated space which seals up tightly at night so it is almost as hot in the morning as when i left. I know I can just open the windows at night but that does not address wanting to exhaust the hot air from the forge at the ceiling where it already wants to go.I want to cut into the cellulose insulated ceiling and exhaust the hot air as before. I have been cautioned against it because I will be drawing moist outside air into the building which will condense and cause problems. I think the heat of the day will dry out any attic moisture and any condensation in the shop will be worth the benefit of have a cooler space to work in. Any suggestions?
   Steven Bronstein - Monday, 06/04/18 12:10:51 EDT

Steven, If your forge is in a permanent location you could put a hood over it and vent the heat and exhaust fumes outside. If your forge moves around in a limited space a light jib crane with movable pipe that vents outdoors could suffice. This is also handy for localized venting of welding fumes.

Simpler methods. A ceiling fan with self closing louvers would work. But I would also want an exhaust fan in the attic (or a large louvered vent). A fan could be thermostatically or manually controlled. In the summer it will help cool your building but lowering the attic space temperature.

A small amount of condensation is preferable to an overheated shop. IF things are as warm as you say then there will be no condensation. Most condensation happens after the area and things in it cool overnight then the day brings warm moist air. Attic condensation is generally a winter issue.

Note that a large portion of your gas forge exhaust is water vapor. . .

My plan is to separate a suitable area for my machine tools and put in a wall heating/cooling unit (like used in motels). This will keep things cool AND dry in the summer and warm in the winter. Equipment outside this area will need to rely on oil and maintenance to protect from rust.

If fact I am planning two such areas. One for the machine shop, another smaller space for storage. There is always chemicals and supplies that shouldn't be frozen and powdered substance that need to be kept dry.
   - guru - Monday, 06/04/18 12:41:39 EDT

You Tube Reference : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ld8pzIu45F8&t=146s

Building Science Insights -- To Vent or Not to Vent
   - guru - Monday, 06/04/18 13:47:35 EDT

Quite difficult to answer such a questions not knowing the DETAILS of your local climate.

Here in the desert southwest of the USA condensation is something I seldom see---single digit relative humidities are common and make even dew rare. When I lived in Ohio condensation was a large problem and "raining" in the shop was not unknown...

You know the details of your area; we don't.
   ThomasP - Monday, 06/04/18 20:59:22 EDT

tempering an anvil : Guru,

I have been reading a lot lately about anvils and one thing I have noticed is that there has been discussion about tempering an anvil.

Last year, I bought a NC Tool Company anvil and I am not sure its tempered like it should be as I have never had any experience with this nor have ever heard of tempering an anvil ever so often to keep the anvil ringing. I am not sure if the anvil needs to be tempered by me or if it was done at the factory. I am very puzzled. I guess it needs to ring or something.

I have read some about tempering an anvil and I do realize and can see where an anvil would be at different tempers at different places on the anvil.

So, if you could give me a little information on tempering an anvil, I would be much obliged. I reckon I need to give NC Tool Company a call also.

Al Gilchrist
   Al Gilchrist - Wednesday, 06/06/18 00:01:58 EDT

Tempering :
Al, tempering is just one step in heat treating steel (annealing (or thermal processing), hardening, tempering). In the case of large objects like anvils this is the factory's job. Generally from what is known about anvil manufacturing old anvils were not specifically tempered, they were hardened and the residual heat MAY have tempered them.

Modern cast anvils are of two types, cast steel and cast ductile iron. I know that TFS anvils are a heat treatable ductile iron and I believe NC anvils are the same. Others like Nimba and Rat-Hole are cast steel and heat treated by the usual processes.

The problem with the ductile iron anvils is that it is a very specific type. Overseas (China, India) makers assume any ductile iron will do. . . this results in inferior anvils that the makers claim are "steel".

Accept your anvil as it is.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/06/18 10:36:26 EDT

Anvil Identity : I am looking for help identifying an anvil I recently bought. I haven’t been able to find any casting marks to identify the manufacture or age…I did find a few letters marked on the side with what seem to be a punch. (C. K. R. T. 76) I thought maybe that was the original owner marking his tool. Can anyone point me in the direction of someone who is good at identifying anvils with pictures?

I do not have an exact weight on the anvil yet, my guess is around 300lbs as my 170lb Vulcan looks like its child sitting on top of it. I was also looking for tips as far as cleaning it up. I guess bees wax is one treatment to keep it from flash rusting…There is no paint on it. Is it detrimental to the value if I cleaned it with scotch bright and paint the majority of the anvil other than the working surface to prevent flash rust?
   Brent P - Friday, 06/08/18 13:14:35 EDT

Anvil ID :
Brent, You can send photos to me and I'll see what I can do. The series of letters do not seem familiar. It is common to misread faintly stamped lettering. . .

Clean it before photographing to send photos to me. It helps a lot to see it well.

Wax or oil is fine. A thin coat of spray paint will hold up for a few years. Paint everything except the working surfaces and then oil them.

To remove or not remove the rust from an anvil. . . If it is REALLY old you shouldn't remove the tight protective rust - just the loose stuff. Then oil or wax the dense rust. Many dealers wire brush all the rust off down to the bare metal but I believe this is the wrong thing to do to an antique anvil. Note however that a 100 year old anvil is a recent anvil. When they are over 200 then they are approaching antique.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/09/18 00:09:12 EDT

Anvil manufacture : I have an anvil that i removed from my parents home after their death and i can identify who the manufacturer or how old it is .
   Tom Klein - Saturday, 06/16/18 13:55:28 EDT

I did not see any FAQ's or posts, so here goes. I have a lot of 16 gauge sheet. I know the plans for the hood are 10 to 14 gauge, but I am miserly. Will this be acceptable or will it warp? Thanks for your time Guru and company.

   - Chuck Squire - Sunday, 06/17/18 01:04:40 EDT

Wull 16 gauge metal warp with side draft hoods? Can I use it?
   - Chuck Squire - Sunday, 06/17/18 01:05:36 EDT

Chuck, The primary problem is overheating of the front edges and rust. Any place that gets burnt also rusts very fast. The 16ga will be fine but I would use something to make the edges near the fire a little heavier. Some bar stock or angle.

Keep it clean and painted with high temperature paint and it should last for years. Note that coal ash and smoke is fairly acidic and that is what accelerates rust on forge parts.
   - guru - Monday, 06/18/18 10:10:31 EDT

Cutting saws : Basic/Novice blacksmith in Georgia: wondering about making saws/sawteeth. Wikipedia claims (without reference) that teeth were filed. Read your excellent article about cutting fileteeth, wondered if you knew anything about making saws.
   Rob - Tuesday, 06/19/18 21:12:21 EDT

Cutting Saw Teeth. : Rob, it depends on the blade type and size AND how many you are going to make.

If the teeth are small and you are using minimum tooling then filing is how its done. But if you are serious then a notching shear is used. This has a V shaped punch and a die to match. Often these type punches have a round back. The shear also has a tab to fit in the first notch made to line up the next. Then with a pull of the handle you go snip, snip, snip making teeth profiles. After that they are filed OR ground and then set. A single punch and die set can make a range of tooth sizes depending on the placement of the guides (which should be adjustable). Little 1/16" tall to 1/4" or more sized teeth could be cut with the same tooling.

Large saw teeth such as in a felling saw or any coarse blade are made by hand are cut with a cold chisel then filed. Then if you want to tool up a shear/punch is used.

The shearing can be done with a small manual punch or a large compound leverage punch like a Whitney punch. But you could also use an arbor press and if you are looking at relatively high production a punch press can be used. Note that arbor presses are surprisingly LOW force for their size, look for larger presses.

See our iForge articles on Presses. Also see Donald Streeter's Professional Smithing. This has a chapter on using an arbor press for notching.

While tooling up sounds expensive or time consuming it beats hand filing hundreds of teeth. You can probably do it in the time it takes to hand file one 30" saw. Punches and dies are often hand shaped and old relatively primitive presses are available used if you look. You could even build a simple leverage device to do the punching. Note that it REALLY helps to have some types of machine tools, such as a small lathe for making this type tooling.

Once tooled up you can make different shaped punches such as with rounded gullets for large teeth.

I would also look for for old or new, Foley Belsaw sharpening equipment. They make several levels of tooling and have lots of instructional and educational literature. Even if you are not going to use their machinery the how-to is very valuable. I was on their mailing list for their news letter (decades ago) and it was always very informative.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/20/18 09:50:05 EDT

Cutting Teeth with a chisel :
If you do this correctly the cut has an angle from the taper of the cold chisel. I've made flat wood boring bits using a cold chisel. You cut one half, then flip it over and cut the other half and the results have a sharp relieved edge without filing.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/24/18 21:20:25 EDT

Mobile farrier/repair : Ok, first off, in my defense, I am NOT a lunatic--call this a bit of research on the Historical side. If a person had a 300lb limit (not counting coke or unmodified iron/steel for the parts to be made) and needed all of the bits and pieces transported by a decent size mule, what would a source be (or guide) of a portable setup capable of making/repairing horseshoes, repair/making small gun parts (18th century and before), possibly light sheetmetal repair and harness riveting. I am thinking different style tongs with a removable handle set, quick assembly blower/grinder on a universal gearbox, and some variety of shallow coke basin?
   Mark Eskra - Monday, 06/25/18 16:43:05 EDT

Itinerant Blacksmiths : First, wooden handled tongs are a bad idea with no benefits. Good tongs have long tapered reins that are not much larger than the tang necessary to add wood handles that would weigh as much or more AND be loose pieces susceptible to loss and breakage.

Historically their are several examples of Itinerant Blacksmith. The Mastermyer smith who traveled by dog sled, Chinese pot repairmen and the American prospector who carried a small forge and tools with him on a burro or mule.

The Chinese pot repairman carried all his tools on his shoulders using a yoke to carry two balanced loads. One piece was his box bellows which doubled as a filing bench and sometimes had a couple drawers built into it. On the other was a tool chest with tools and spare bits and pieces. The Chinese smith did not carry a forge, just the bellows. Anywhere he setup he used local materials, a hole in the ground, some dirt or rocks. He would use locally sourced charcoal.

The American prospector carried a tool kit that included a small cast iron specialty forge with hand crank blower that all came in a carefully fitted wooden box. His forge was primarily for assaying but he also had tools to sharpen picks and he could shoe his mule if need be. His anvil would have been under 50 pounds. He would have burned wood and charcoal (if he had time or chose to make it).

The type of bellows used by the Swedish Mastermeyer smith is unknown but was probably a small set of paired leather bellows typical at the time (1000 AD). He carried various sized tongs, files, a small anvil and numerous wood working tools as well. His forge would have been locally sourced like the Chinese smith, a hole in the ground burning locally sourced charcoal. He also had a hanging scale to weigh iron he used or traded for.

The Chinese smith used his box bellows as a bench to hold parts. Neither of the others had vise equivalents. The Chinese smith probably also carried a balance scale like the Swedish smith as he traded in old iron and brass as well.

The kits of all these smiths weighed considerably less than 300 pounds.

The portable rigs used by various armies in the horse drawn era were very heavy. Much heavier than they needed to be. These included wagons with built in bellows and full sized (around 100 to 130 pound) anvils. These wagons probably had a vise attached. The majority of their load would have been scrap and bar iron (and the wagon itself).
   - guru - Monday, 06/25/18 18:39:56 EDT

Wooden Tongs : In very primitive situations wooden tongs, shaped like modern salad tongs with a spring hinge, were used. They can be seen in our AmvilCAM-II video of Zulu Blacksmiths Forging Iron. Note that the VERY similar illustration below the video shows the smiths using iron tongs even though it predates the video by about 60 years.

In the video, a clip from King Solomon's Mines, a stone anvil, a stone "sledge" and wooden tongs are in use with a pit forge blown with "wineskins" Made from hide or animal stomachs. This is about as low of level of technology as you can get yet it remained in use for thousands of years. When these nomadic smiths moved they carried nothing but their wineskin bellows and some scraps of iron and maybe a few small tools. They would find their stone anvil and hammers at the next location and build their forge from local materials. OR they might possibly use the stones and fire pit from a previous season. In any case, their "kit" may have only weighed 10 pounds or less and the big part, the wineskins, could be replaced as long as the smith or someone in his party could hunt.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/27/18 12:13:47 EDT

Adobe Bricks substitute for fire brick : Hi, I am 21 and just getting into blacksmithing as a hobby. I have a large free supply of adobe bricks at my disposal and I was wondering if they would be a decent substitute for fire bricks or red bricks. I plan on building a charcoal forge and want to make sure that they will not be a hazard if I construct my forge out of them. Thanks in advance!
   - Ryne Little - Sunday, 07/01/18 10:01:11 EDT

Ryne, Here is a complete forge built from adobe, Historic Adobe Forge Reconstruction.

Note that as with any natural material the properties vary according to the location. Most clays are sufficiently refractory for use in simple solid fuel forges. Soils high in organic material are OK for fill and insulation but not forge linings.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/01/18 16:06:52 EDT

Another simple mud brick forge is the Oriental Trough Forge. This is a simple floor with two parallel walls and an opening along one side at the bottom to let air in from a bellows. A good distance between walls is just a little more than a standard firebricks length (9"+) so you can use them to make deeper fires if necessary.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/01/18 16:31:27 EDT

Anvil ID : I have an anvil looking chunk of iron. Not simply an ASO. It's manufactured and has a serial number on it. I've been told it's an antique anvil, but also that it's an old windmill counterweight. It weighs ~92 lbs. How do I send you pictures of it?
   Darrin - Sunday, 07/01/18 20:06:31 EDT

Darrin, You can click on my name and send them to me.

Windmill counterweight? What country are you in?

The rules for tools that last for hundreds of years and are used for many generations are different than common antiques. "Antique" anvils start at about 200 years and do not have serial numbers. Serial numbers start in the late 1800's on "modern" anvils.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/01/18 21:16:40 EDT

Anvil ID : Sorry, but clicking on your name didn't do anything. Do you have an e-mail address? I sent you mine on the original note.


   Darrin - Sunday, 07/01/18 21:33:42 EDT

Darrin try guru2@anvilfire.net

NOTE that I've been having email issues so my response may not be immediate.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/01/18 21:58:16 EDT

anvils : 2 Questions,i have a 120# fulton that the edges are very badly rollrd over .is there any thing i can do to help this? 2nd i have a awsome anvil that i had built for me from a piece nof new train track ,Hense my delema its perfest except for the fact that its not heat treated,so now i have a 100#pqaper weight . any suggestions
   texas tool hand - Sunday, 07/01/18 22:33:23 EDT

Darin's "anvil" is some kind of machine part. The number a foundry inventory ID number. Its a nifty 4 legged thing but not an anvil.

Rounded corners are generally good up to a point. Sharp corners are NOT a good thing. Welding on it is not recommended but you can grind from the side to remove some of the mushrooming and make the radius a little smaller. Don't weld on it unless the anvil is unusable as is.

RR-rail anvils are generally plenty hard as-is, especially since they are a light duty anvil. The steel varies from 60 to 85 point carbon and generally should be oil quenched. To oil harden a piece of steel this big would take several hundred gallons of oil to quench. Not worth it. It would also be possible to flame harden but this takes specialized equipment.
   - guru - Monday, 07/02/18 01:51:35 EDT

anvils : im not going to weld on the fulton but i was thinking of weling a hardened 1/2 inch plate across the top of the rr anvil. i hit it ounce and dented it . i appreciate your input, thank you.
   texas hand - Monday, 07/02/18 02:42:18 EDT

A hardened plate will not be in the same hardened condition after welding it. The plate will either be soft or have brittle places along the weld that may break unless the whole is heat treated which is the problem in the first place. Arc welding hardenable steel usually results in both soft and hard brittle places.
   - guru - Monday, 07/02/18 08:18:48 EDT

Complete instructions for heat treating a RR rail anvil are provided in "The Complete Modern Blacksmith" Alexander Weygers

You should be able to ILL it at your local public library or if you are in the El Paso area; let me know and I'll let you read that section in my copy!
   Thomasp - Tuesday, 07/03/18 17:39:16 EDT

Antique Anvile : Recently attended an Anvil Firing in the CA Mother Load. Remembered that we had wife's grandfathers[came to CA right after the Civil War] anvil
Would like to identify same. The following is all we could decipher.
Any help would be appreciated. Thank You
Chuck Pilgrim
   Chuck Pilgrim - Wednesday, 07/04/18 22:26:44 EDT

Chuck, That is a HAY BUDDEN made in Brooklyn New York a very sought after high quality American made anvil.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/05/18 08:05:45 EDT

OBTW The middle word is WARRENTED
   - guru - Thursday, 07/05/18 10:35:35 EDT

Check along the front foot of the anvil for a serial number and we can give you a date on when it was made.
   ThomasP - Thursday, 07/05/18 20:55:20 EDT

Old cutlers anvil : I have an old anvil that has a dovetail in the face. It is on great shape with no majpramaga and i would like to donate pictures.
   Jeremy blohm - Friday, 07/06/18 01:01:49 EDT

Trenton age : I just bought a 118# Trenton anvil. The serial number is A16986. Can anyone give me the manufacture date for the anvil?
   Hawk - Saturday, 07/07/18 15:30:49 EDT

Hawk, Sorry about the delay. Your anvil was made in 1900. Trentons were made from 1898 to 1952-53.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/10/18 22:16:38 EDT

Trenton : Not to worry about the delay. I don't recall being charged for speedy answers. It's kinda interesting though. The anvil weighs 118# and is 118 years old. I measured the rebound at a little better than 80% and the face and edges are in pretty good shape. That makes it older and better shape than I.
   Hawk - Wednesday, 07/11/18 12:21:44 EDT

solid wrought anvil : I have a solid wrought anvil that weighs approximately 200 pounds. does anyone know the age? or have an opinion of value?
   Ron Parkinson - Wednesday, 07/11/18 18:37:13 EDT

solid wrought : is not an anvil brand, it is a statement of the manufacturing method. Several companies used this statement on their anvils. We would need a good photo or two of the anvil to tell.

You might clean the side that says solid wrought and see if there is more markings to indicate the brand.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/12/18 11:26:59 EDT

Identifying an Anvil Maker : Hi I have purchased an old anvil, some of the text is worn on the side and while I can identify some letters, not all. It has “M USA” so I would say Mede in USA. Is there anyone I can send the picture to who can help identify?
   - Chris Abbott - Thursday, 07/12/18 14:12:45 EDT

Try me, guru2 at anvilfire.net
   - guru - Thursday, 07/12/18 17:27:31 EDT

old friend : Just checking in..
   - forgelady - Saturday, 07/14/18 14:51:15 EDT

We are still here, a little slower but still answering questions every day.

This is anvilfire's 20th year! Our counters show over 27 million visits!
   - guru - Saturday, 07/14/18 15:16:44 EDT

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