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This is an archive of posts from January 8 - 17, 2003 on the Guru's Den
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Tool Handles:

I want to build some small screwdrivers and carving tools, but I don't know how to make the handles. I don't own a lathe, and haven't seen tool handles like this for sale.

Any advice?

   JIM - Thursday, 01/09/03 00:36:36 GMT


That's an American Star anvil, manufactured sometime around 1850 - 1860, in Trenton, New Jersey. It is a cast iron anvil, with a tool steel top welded in the form.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/09/03 01:35:27 GMT

Tool Handles: Jim, Handles can be square with rounded corners. Round areas to fit ferrules to can be make with a file. Some of the world's classiest wood working chisles such as the English Marples brand have square handles with turned ends. Handles are easy. . .

THERE is the handle maker's jig or lathe. . A simple unpowered device. It is set of centers (large nails) set in a "U" wood frame like a primitive wood lathe. The handle blank can be shaped with a draw knife, rasp, file. . . It simply makes it easy to rotate the handle by hand as you carve, file, scrape or sand. It is either dogged to a work bench or clamped in a vise. But you can also hold it between your knees. .

The same setup can be built into a draw knife bench. IF you are going to make a LOT of handles I'd put together both.

Need speed? Wrap the cord from a small bow around the handle and then it IS a powered lathe. Want fancy and two free hands? Setup a spring pole (or use a screen door spring) attached to a cord that wraps around the work then down to a board that can either be a loose foot pedle OR hinged to a frame. . . A lathe is a VERY easy to make primitive tool. If you need one there is no excuse.

More advanced . . Make a lathe "bed" from two 2x4's spaced about one 2x4 apart (1.5"). Then make a tail stock "puppet" that fits between the boards and is held in place by a wedge in the shank. The centers are still just big nails with smooth ground 60 degree points.

Then there is modern primitive. . . Cut the head off a 3/8" lag bolt and saw a screw driver slot in the shank. Drill a hole for the screw in your handle blank. Then chuck the screw in your electric drill, feed gently into the pre drilled handle and go to it. If you brace yourself properly and find a table or bench corner to support your chisle you now have a power wood lathe. . . Its noisy and not as satisfying as the simple devices above. If the hole in the end is a problem just make the handle blank a little extra long and saw off the end. . .

Ah. . you can do the same in a drill press. It is MUCH more rigid if you make a center for the far end (a board with a nail driven through clamped to the table). A drill press is quite too. . .

The last handles I made for wood chisles were hand carved using a hatchet, rasp and a file. The material was walnut and I used ferrules sawn from 1" EMT (electrical conduit) and 1-1/2" iron pipe. The diameters were made with a file. The shape was roughed close using the hatchet and a wood stump (like an anvil stump) for a work surface. The finished handles (4) were octogon in section and had a coke-a-cola bottle shape. It took about an hour to make and finish each. No special tools or fixtures.

With a wood lathe it would have only taken about 10-15 minutes but would not have been the same result. The octogon shape is VERY nice to hold. Ask "Atli" about me and wood lathes. . . I put on a little demo with his last summer. Covered a bunch of folks with wood chips. . :)

More important than making the handles is how the tang fits. Most tangs (like a file's) are a lousy design. The best tools have a large shoulder for the handle to push against. This is usualy easiest to make by starting with a larger diameter than needed and forging down the shank and tang. Leave a healthy radius on both sides of the shoulder and don't make the tang to small. Fit a square tank in a round drilled hole that will be tight but not so tight as to split the handle. A snug fitting ferrule helps. On chisles that are struck I like to put a large diameter narrow band ferrule on the end of the handle to prevent splitting when striking. Then NEVER EVER use a metal hammer on the tool. Always strike with a wood mallet.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/09/03 01:59:25 GMT

Jim, www.brownells.com is a gunsmith's supply house that carries some handles. For fine engraving, they have the small "toadstool" ones which might work for carving.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 01/09/03 02:08:04 GMT

Thanks for the handle advice gurus!

   Jim - Thursday, 01/09/03 02:14:41 GMT

I wish to build a coal forge in my garage using a side draft chimney. The local powers that be have decreed that I must use insulated chimney pipe. 12inch pipe is hard to come by and expensive. Can I use two 8 inch insulated chimneys right side by each to get the same effect as a single 12 inch insulated chimney? The area of a 12 inch is just a bit bigger than two 8 inch ones. The chimney would go straight up through the roof.
   Howard - Thursday, 01/09/03 02:40:13 GMT

Dual Stacks: Howard, 10" is usualy big enough if you have a clean straight run. But 12" generally assures a (nearly) smoke free shop. However, No forge is entirely smoke free.

Dual stacks will work. But two of a given area are not as effective as one of the same area. Pipes all have an area of loss near the surface and two pipes will have more surface area than one for the area enclosed. AND where the two tap the hood one will work better than the other due to the rotation of the smoke columm.

Since many folks get away with 8" stacks, two should work OK. Just keep an eye on the smoke and get a carbonmonoxide detector if you are going to work in the shop with the doors closed.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/09/03 03:35:22 GMT

More about handles: The world's finest screw driver and associated tool handle is the one used on Craftsman tools for the past 40 years or so. The spherical end is perfect for pushing with the palm of you hand. The side grips have just enough texture that you can get as tight a grip as flesh can stand without being painful. Then the turned nose is the perfect bearing shape for spinning between thumb and hand or forefinger.

Although I have quit buying many Craftsman tools I still buyt their screwdriver sets for myself and my family. The reason is the PERFECT handle. As a professional mechanic and having worked in many other fields and been a tool user for over 50 years now. . I have seen and used every brand handle made. The worst are those twisted yellow things with all the sharp edges. . followed by the rounded triangular design that Snap-On tried to push. . . Some other manufacturers have adopted the Craftsman handle or modifications of it.

The shoulder design I described above is used on Craftsman wood chisles that otherwise use their standard screw driver handle. The shoulder in nearly about half the diameter of the end of the handle and over twice as big as the tang. It has very large smooth fillets. This is a VERY well engineered tang and is a wonderful match for the perfect handle.

Over the years I have abused the heck out of these tools and never damaged one handle. I have also made numerous special tools out of Craftsman screw drivers, either welding on pieces or regrinding the shank into something else.

Many other handles have had thousands of years to standardize. Ax, hammer and knife handles have not changed much in a thousand years. Most "different" handles are a fad and should be avoided. Plain smooth ovoid handles seem to suit most people. Although hammer handles are often subjects of great long discussions I have always prefered the standard oval handle. Some of this is the "what you are accustomed to" effect. But when tools of long and intimate use have had the same design for millenia there must be a reason for it.

That said. . Paw-Paw says golf balls make good handles. . I've also seen a LOT of corn-cob handles on files. . cheap and it works. Generaly if you have them you have tons!
   - guru - Thursday, 01/09/03 03:42:39 GMT

Good Guru:
Thankyou for the help on the old drill press...just the information needed!
Guess I'll have a fine opportunity to count the gear teeth cause I drained a cup of very brown water from the gear case , and nothing in there wants to move .
Gotta say, I sure get my nickles worth out of my Cybersmith membership! Thanks!
   - Pete F - Thursday, 01/09/03 04:23:28 GMT

just accuired a broken anvil i usually dont buy junk but the face is in almost perfect condition and it has that beautiful slim style i always look for.anyway it weighs in at 113.5lbs and is broken across the waist it has forging marks both the heel and the horn. under the horn on the base of the anvil is marked 100 1837 62 i assume its english hundred weight could it be wrout iron and can it be welded?. another question that i have is why do alot of anvils have marks in the sides of them like a center punch mark? testing the temper on there center punch?

   - rickalo - Thursday, 01/09/03 04:34:52 GMT

I've heard varing opinions on the suitability of railroad spikes for fabricating tools. Can anyone comment on the type and consistency of the metal in spikes? Would it hold 6mm threading?

   Mike - Thursday, 01/09/03 04:35:54 GMT

Thanks for the anvil info Paw Paw. 1850-1860 works for me, as part of my interest in blacksmithing is connected to Civil War living history. take care!
   Chris - Thursday, 01/09/03 07:22:26 GMT


I just plan to buy a forge with a "foot driven" blower ( heavy wheel) and wanted to ask if I can get welding temperature (making small axes and tomahawks) with such a forge (here in Germany they are called fieldforge - size 46 cm square and 82 height) - I guess the blower has a diameter of about 25 cm. I read in the "edge of the anvil" or the "modern complete blacksmith" to use a blower with 18 inch - but I've never seen such a huge blower offered here. I' m a bit disappointed of the books because the forge topics are always pretty short. How much oxygen do i need to get welding temp. and so on. What about the size ? As beginner - this would be a great help. There are no courses in my area running on blacksmithing so I can't ask anybody for advice. If needed - I can send a photo of the forge i described above.

best wishes Stephan
   Stephan - Thursday, 01/09/03 10:35:14 GMT

Guru,PPW and Ralph, thanks for the help and advise. I am planning to join CSI and the Blacksmith Web Ring. Just a matter of money. I don't have much. I fired up my forge and pounded my first piece of iron yesterday. Really makes you feel good.
   terry - Thursday, 01/09/03 11:20:29 GMT

Coke for forging:

The coke I have came from a house where it had been used to fuel a coke fired boiler. It may be the same as foundry coke. However, it burns very well and when used in small pieces seems to be excellent for forging. I really like the fact that it burns so cleanly compared to coal. I have broken up about a bucket full by hand, but this is very tedious and I am looking for a way to do it more quickly.
   Patrick Nowak - Thursday, 01/09/03 12:15:18 GMT


Helping is why we are here. Welcome to the brotherhood of hot iron.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/09/03 13:45:31 GMT

I am just a beginner in the blacksmith world and I was going to make my first anvil from a piece of rail that I obtained from the local rail yards. Its a new piece. The question I have is that I have read different things on how to heat treat this piece. One says to use a salt water quench and the other says to use oil. Which should I use? Also I assume from reading I need to get it to red hot or non magnetic then quench is this correct. Thank you in advance for your time..
   David - Thursday, 01/09/03 13:58:58 GMT

May have given wrong address with question on making anvil out of rails
   David - Thursday, 01/09/03 14:03:40 GMT

Broken Anvil: Rikalo, This is not a common break on wrought anvils but it IS a common break on late two piece anvils that were welded at the waist. Waist welds on late anvils are not full pentration (many were originaly arc welds). Cut a weld prep about 3/4" to 1" (~20mm) on each half then align and tack together. Check the alignment. It is easy to end up with the top out of square and out of parallel to the base. Then weld it up with whatever low strength welding rod you have on hand.

Before welding test the upper body to see if it is steel (a spark test should do). If so then you will want to preheat the top near the weld joint to where it will make steam. But do not heat so much as to draw the temper from the face.

Weld in single passes then clean off the flux before the next pass (unless you are using MIG). Do not use MIG if you think the parts are wrought. The impurities do strange things to disturb the gas cover and you can get a bad weld. Stick to welding rods for wrought. If it is a later anvil made with an all tool steel upper and a mild steel base then you can weld with MIG if you have it.

Finish the top pass with a weave bead then dress smooth. You may want to mark a repair date on the base of the anvil.

I have seen the center punch marks you speak of on anvils. All the corners of the body of my Hay-Budden has chisle curls cut into them. . . Tool testing? Demonstrating the softness of the body? Who knows. . But apparently it was not uncommon.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/09/03 14:32:18 GMT

Rose Blanks:

I'm looking for a source for rose blanks, similar to the ones found at Valley Forge Welding. (http://www.saber.net/~jere/rose.html) Although I've heard good things about Jere Kirkpatrick and am sure his rose kits are top-notch, they do seem a bit pricey at $10+ each. Are there any other suppliers out there with rose kits/blanks? Should I just get out the CAD program and have some laser cut? Am I crazy? Is $10 each actually a bargain?

Thanks in advance for the help, guys.
   - Marcus - Thursday, 01/09/03 14:42:54 GMT

Rail Road Rail David, Rail varies in carbon content and must be treated as are all scrap or junkyard steels, as an unknown. It is best to test heat treat a sample. Very early rail was wrought iron. Late rail is a medium high carbon steel. Besides RR-rail there is also crane rail which comes in the the same cross sections but MAY be a different steel than that used by the rail-roads.

However, it is agreed that most late type rail is around 75 point carbon steel. IF so it will readily flame hardnen. Brine might be too severe a quenchant and so would cold water. Warm water will work but oil is safer (less likely to create cracks). Note that water only is used for flame hardening. I would not recommend heating the entire piece and hardening it. Most people use rail as-is.

See our iForge demo on making tools from rail and our 21st Century anvil articles on making anvils.

Rail is generaly too springy to make a good anvil as people normaly do (sideways). However, if set vertical (on end) you put the mass under the hammer and the sprinyness goes away. This results in a small target but forging will be MUCH easier due to the greatly increased anvil efficincy. The small work area will also help train you in better hammer control.

In very impoverised places where anvils are not available it is common to use heavy sledge hammer heads as anvils (they are made up to 25 pounds). These are set on end in a stump the rounded face used for forging everything from common hardware to knives and swords.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/09/03 14:50:24 GMT

how much does a ferrier get paid? I'm doin a report on this and would like some information.
   jersay - Thursday, 01/09/03 15:15:09 GMT

Oh yeah i need this by tonight if you please
   jersay - Thursday, 01/09/03 15:16:02 GMT

Forge Blower Size: Stephan, Any solid fuel forge will produce a welding heat provided you are using charcoal or a good quality coal.

Forge blowers vary greatly in size. The big ones mentioned in the books you quoted just happen to be the common size used on large forges. They were very efficient and are great blowers but they are NOT an absolute requirement. Most of the foot and lever operated forges with flywheels had smaller blowers. On the big handcrank blowers the fan WAS the flywheel.

Most books go into little fire management detail because it varies greatly with the type and quality of the fuel as well as the type and size of forge. It is one of those things you learn quickly by experiance.

Good quality coal requires just a gentle blast of air from the blower once the fire is going good.

When starting and building up the fire you start with just enough air to create the optimum heat for the flame condition. THIS is difficult to specifiy but we all know what it is. Generaly it is when the fire roars the loudest. Too much air and you can blow out the fire. It is a thing you FEEL or have learned from starting camp fires blowing on a small bit of dried grass and kindling. Once the fire is going good you can add more fuel and usualy apply as much air as possible to build up a good heat.

Once the coal is going good you ease off on the air. Now how much air is required varies the most. With good quality coal in well designed fire pot just the slightest flow of air creates a welding heat and anything extra will burn the steel. But if you have less than the best coal you may need a deeper fire and more air. The steel IS going to scale as it gets up to heat and is going to be more difficult to weld. You need to flux early in this type of fire.

As the day goes on a good fire reaches it peak in a few hours and then rapidly becomes less efficient. You add more coal and fiddle with the fire. Ash and clinkers force you to use more air. How fast this occurs depends on the quality of the coal. If you are using charcoal then the fire is of constant character throughout the day.

Coal comes in an infinite range of quality and usefullness. The best coal is the "perfect" fuel for blacksmiths. It produces a welding heat but does not burn a lot hotter than the melting point of steel. The worst coal is not hardly worth burning and is unsatisfactory for simple bending jobs.

So, build a fire. Be observant and LEARN. After burning up a few pieces you will know what is too much. If you pay attention you will know what you need in about a week. Be forewarned that other forges and other fuels will be different. But with experiance it should only take an hour or less to figure out what you need to do. However, even after a lifetime at the forge we are all occasionaly stumped by a new situation.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/09/03 15:20:17 GMT

Patrick, You can pour a concrete tamping floor, about 2'x2' with a little wooden or metal containment wall around it. The tamper for the coke or coal is blacksmith made [of course].
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 01/09/03 15:40:19 GMT

Farrier Pay: Jersay, it is a little late to be running a pole. Farrier's are almost all independant business people. They each charge what they want or what they can get. The amount also varies with the region and the type of horses being shod. This is not a salaried or hourly pay job. It is not a 9 to 5.

Being independent business people they can either work very long hours and make a very good living or work short hours and just get by. Skills are also a factor. Good farriers with a good reputation are in high demand while a skilled farrier with no reputation may have little demand. AND it is a field in which it is easy to get a bad reputation (deseved or not).

The best hard working farriers in the right place make a very good living but do not get rich. Being a very physical job farriers often have a short working carreer (like professional atheletes) so they have to make very good money while they are working. Many do it because they love working with horses, not for the money.

AH. . no specifics? Well, we don't do homework for students. But if you keep checking back a few farriers may give you some idea of what they charge.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/09/03 16:00:23 GMT

Patrick, Franks post reminded me that there MUST be an easier way. Build a feed trough for that power hammer, set it to run at about 1" clearance and run that coke through. . . Sound bizzar? We saw a Nazel 3B that was used for a "rock crusher" making carbide powder. . . Yes, a VERY molested machine.

Hammer mills are sometimes used for this kind of thing (like wood chippers).
   - guru - Thursday, 01/09/03 16:07:14 GMT

RR Spikes Steel: Mike, The steel in spikes varies and can be medium carbon (30 point) to medium high (75 point). They are steel and usualy a fairly good quality grade. Some were made to spec with new steel but I have SEEN spikes being made from re-rolled scrap RR-axels which are made from various steels but are generally about 40 point carbon.

To know what you have you will need to test every one.

So what do you mean "hold" threading? Yes spike steel can be drilled and taped and most is 90 to 100 PSI material if properly heat treated. But how threads hold up depends on the design and precision of the threads. In relatively weak cast iron a thread depth of of 1.5 diameters and 70% thread will usualy break the bolt before the threads fail. In stronger materials 1 diameter is sufficient and in soft aluminium 2 diameters is usualy enough.

Thread quality varies greatly depending on the condition of the tool making the thread, the lubrication and most importantly the quality of the hole OR the of the cylinder. Material rarely has little to do with the quality of the threads except in high production where you need free machining materials.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/09/03 16:24:10 GMT

hello marcus;

rose blanks.

the rose blanks/kits you mentioned are from 18 gage sheet metal.
roses made from them are heavy.
i made six roses for christmas presents out of 24 gage sheet metal. even those were considered heavy by the people
i gave them to.

an easy way to get a pattern for roses is to go to a craft
store and find a fake rose you like. take it apart at home.
use the pieces for the pattern.

i cut my rose petal discs with tin snips. cutting 18 gage
sheet metal you probably would to use bulldog tin snips.
i would suggest offset tin snips.

using tin snips or even a scrolls saw gives each rose petal
disc a uniqueness. in my opinion plasma/laser/water cutting
of rose petal discs makes the roses a commodity and not a
unique work.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Thursday, 01/09/03 16:41:07 GMT

Jersay, I started out hot-shoeing horses in 1964 for $9.00 per head, and I thought I was in hog heaven. Presently, I am way out of the loop. I would suggest asking your question on www.anvilmag.com.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 01/09/03 16:42:36 GMT

Why do alot of anvils have marks in the sides of them like a center punch mark?

Most blacksmiths sharpen paving breaker tools from time to time. To impress the customer with the temper of the tool they would jab it into the side of the anvil, then show the customer that the point was undamaged. Usually never failed to impress the customers, who have no idea that the SIDE of the anvil is usually very soft.
   - grant - Thursday, 01/09/03 17:02:45 GMT

Using propane instead of acetylene:

I keep hearing about the cost savings of using propane/oxy instead of acetylene/oxy for heating. Mostly I expect to use #2, and #4 welding nozzles and a #6 rosebud, primarily for heating...........no cutting or welding.

My victor kit says I can use propane, but no pressure data is provided.....it came with the "T" grade hose. Do the suggested operating pressures for acetylene also work for propane? If pressures are different where can I find this information?

Will the "fuel" regulator work with propane? Its victor model CSR360A, marked acetylene.........so I expect one shouldn't use it with propane. Anyway I would need some special adaptor to go between the propane tank valve and the regulator.


   Garry - Thursday, 01/09/03 17:27:23 GMT

I came across this picture of a medieval anvil.


Raises a few questions. This is a huge anvil from a period when steel was very expensive. I am guessing at least 600#. Also it looks cast. Surely a casting from the middle ages would have been just cast iron?

A lot of trouble was taken to form the anvil with special swedge shapes suggesting this was intended for a skilled (and wealthy) smith yet the wear pattern shows that that the center has been abused perhaps from misses with a sledge while the edges show no wear at all.

What's your take on this? Is just a CI fake that has been banged up to "antiquify" it?

adam >+++>
   adam - Thursday, 01/09/03 17:29:44 GMT

Acetylene becomes unstable at high pressure (over 25 psi I think). This limits the operating range of a tip since you cant just crank up the pressure to get a bigger flame - at some point you must go to a larger orifice. Propane does not have this limitation - you can use whatever the tank will give you (typically about 45 psi max from a propane bottle) and do a much wider range of work with a single tip.

I have an oxy propane torch that was designed specifically for propane so I dont know about regulators. I know that people commonly do use acetylene regulators and also R grade hose for propane. I would imagine that Victor would have warned you if it was a problem - after all they dont want a lawsuit.

A good propane torch will cut like a demon but propane is harder to mix than acetylene and without specialized equipment you probably wont get the best performance.
   adam - Thursday, 01/09/03 17:47:20 GMT

Hammer mill.
You're right, guru. That 3B was a very molested machine! The carbide powder sure did work wonders throughout. I would like to report that with Grant's and countless other machinists' help that she's at about 90%. I still think I need to flame spray the lower valve and possibly re-make a new cushion plug. Stay tuned!
   - Steve - Thursday, 01/09/03 17:50:09 GMT

Thanks Adam.

I've been looking around the net, and I'm sold on using propane for heating instead of acetylene. I dont need another bottle in my shop area, and I already have mutiple propane bottles.

The high/low pressure gage ranges of a propane regulator are identical to my acetylene regulator. Nowhere in my victor manual does it say NOT to use the regulator with propane......it does caution about the non T hose thing, but my kit CAME with a T rated hose. They reference "fuel" when multiple gases can be used, and "acetylene" when they need to be specific. I have a "oxy-fuel" kit......the Victor Range setup.

Where can I find the adaptor to go from the propane tank to the "acetylene" regulator? Its CGA300 on the acet. regulator and something else on the propane tank.

So if I understand you correctly, I can run propane at the same lower pressures as acetylene is recommended, but I can then take propane higher than acet. if needed.


   Garry - Thursday, 01/09/03 18:13:10 GMT

Adam, that is not an anvil at all. It is the block casting for Chevy 350 prior to boring.
   - Quenchcrack - Thursday, 01/09/03 18:23:27 GMT


You've GOT to be kidding!
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/09/03 18:35:30 GMT

Garry, yes thats right same pressures or higher. If you are not going to use acetylene you can just replace the tank adapter on you regulator with a propane tank fitting eg McMaster Carr item # 7976A21. These come with a 1/4" NPT thread on the regulator end which should mate to your equipment. I usually scavenge these from discarded gas bbq regulators. If you dont want to modify your regulator at all then I would try a welding store for an adaptor.

Propane will heat, cut, braze and, I hear tell weld Aluminum, but its worthless for welding steel

QC, :)
   adam - Thursday, 01/09/03 18:47:29 GMT

Jim, a few ideas:

1. Dowel rod. Get the right diameter, cut to length, file or carve to round the ends.
2. Saw a block of your chosen handle material to an octagon and round off the edges as desired. Octagonal handles feel good in my hand, personally. I think Pfeil and Lampi use them, too.
3. Whittle whatever handle you need. Not hard, really.

   Steve A - Thursday, 01/09/03 18:56:40 GMT

QC is quite right. If you look closely you can see on the feet of the anvil the oak leaves that were the insignia of Chevrolet in the 1400's and 1500's. In fact Warick castle was an early Chevy manufacturing plant (like a rock) that was abandoned owing to excessive heating costs and taken over by penurous British Royalty of which there is a never ending supply.

In fact the first small block V8 was made by the Earl of Warick in 1350. However electric starters were not available at that time and it required a team of oxen to push start the engine. Work on the V8 was discontinued after chevy failed to develop a satisfactory curburettor for feeding oats and hay into the combustion chamber. The Earl of Warick died a bitter man and his ghost is said to haunt the castle to this day. His son too came to a bad end and was convicted of treason for conspiring with the Plantaganets (later the Ford Motor Co) to develop a fuel injection system. After his execution this device was renamed, by royal edict, the "feed bag" and all mention of Warick's name expunged.

I hope this help clear things up
   adam - Thursday, 01/09/03 20:07:23 GMT

Medieval Anvil: Like the wax dummy behind it is fake. The casting pattern is of modern design. It does not have the lines of a forged anvil and the leaf or lizard appliques are definitely modern. Considering the plastic horseshoe and the wax dummy I would bet that it is a fibreglass phoney and is not metal at all. If it IS, then it is quite new.

The design is vaguely old style but maker had limited experiance with truely OLD anvils.

Here is a genuine classic antique anvil. It is definitely an OLD anvil of Eurpoean origin but was found in the central U.S. . . Now it is in a friend's collection. It is one of the few antique anvils I would really like to have.

Armourer's? Anvil
   - guru - Thursday, 01/09/03 20:16:53 GMT


You're as bad a QC! (chuckle)
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/09/03 20:19:44 GMT

Propane with Victor Kit: All the pieces work EXCEPT there is a special replacement cutting torch tip for propane. Victor propane cutting tips are two piece design. There is an outer copper shell and an inner brass colored piece with grooves cut in the surface to produce a finely broken up flame.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/09/03 20:24:59 GMT

May I respectfully point out that cast iron is *NOT* *MEDIEVAL*. The direct process produced the wrought iron used during the medieval period. Cast iron production is renaissance and effective use of it took a while to be figured out.

Now ornate armour's anvils do exist but if you look at what the armourer's were doing with chasing and repousse, again in the renaissance as plate armour comes of age with the renaissance, the the anvils look like a plain jane kiddie's jobs----the Negroli's did stuff with iron that I just find awesome! (Take a gander at "Heroic Armour of the Italian Renaissance" iirc a book published in conjunction with the Negroli exhibit at the Met.

Thomas (and yes the chinese has cast iron 1000 years earlier than everyone else and figured a way to decarb it to get some use out of it--which has nothing to do with medieval europe)
   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 01/09/03 21:56:58 GMT

Is there a way to give mild steel a greenish patena? Thank you William
   triw - Thursday, 01/09/03 23:29:58 GMT

Thanks Adam....Guru!

Part numbers and everything.

I nearly got into a lease deal with OA tanks when I reolized I couldn't run a #6 rosebud very long with typical sized acetylene tanks. Thats when I remembered folks talking about propane fuel gas.

I use a wire welder so propane should be great for heating purposes where the ol forge cant do it.

Just how hard a rule is the "never draw more than 1/7 of the acetylene tank per hour" rule? Because more than a few welding shops said I could run that #6 rosebud with tanks as small as 75 cubic feet. Yet a #6 can consume as much as 40 cubic ft per hour of acetylene. Perhaps they were putting their sales interests ahead of their customers needs.


   Garry - Friday, 01/10/03 00:14:25 GMT

Sorry if this is a duplicate posting.

I am looking for the colored waxes/paints that Dorothy Stiegler used on her flowers. They offer a way to add color to ironwork. Any suggestions on this product?

   Steven Bronstein - Friday, 01/10/03 01:09:52 GMT

hi im gabby im a blacksmith let me tell you about my trade we use hammers and stof.
   - Gabrielle - Friday, 01/10/03 01:41:10 GMT

for the anvil guru(s)...recently saw a pic of a "mankel" anvil. what "old" anvil resembles the proportions?? nice narrow waist, biggish step, long tapered heel, longish graceful horn. thanks...
   - rugg - Friday, 01/10/03 01:43:26 GMT

Rugg, Ken Mankel of Cannonsburg, Michigan, makes more farrier pattern anvils than the smithing pattern. The farriers' anvils will have a narrow face, two pritchel holes, a swell to the horn, no cutting table, and a clip horn. The clip horn is a small projection at the base of the horn to aid in the pulling of horseshoe clips. Mankel makes a 130# smith's pattern anvil, but keeps the two pritchel holes, which is unusual. HIs styles are pretty "American", meaning that they follow somewhat the London pattern, but have a narrower waist and less material in the basal portions of the horn and heel than do the English anvils {Peter Wright, Armitage, Foster, etc.). Your search engines can probably find the Mankels for you.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 01/10/03 03:58:23 GMT

Colors for metal: Steven, I’m not sure if this is what you’re after, but http://www.gilderspaste.com/ offers a variety of pastes for coloring metalwork. I’ve never tried it myself, but my more artistic buddies tell me it works well.
   eander4 - Friday, 01/10/03 04:31:28 GMT

Descaling iron /// metal oxides /// Acid Treatment.
Pickling solutions are a chemical bath used to remove metallic oxides (surface oxidation), and flux residue from metal surfaces.
The descaling can be done at room temperature, or more quickly by heating the pickling solution.
Pickling solutions are usually comprised of an acid dissolved in water. Various acids can be used. (usually one acid only and not a mixture of acids.)
The metal is immerced in the pickling bath. The container can be plastic, glass, or enamelled metal. The stronger acid pickling solutions can attack metal containers.
The simplest pickling solution is table vinegar. It is a 3% solution of acetic acid in water. (volume for volume = v/v).
Light scale should come off of the metal overnight or in a day or two.
You can get a slightly stronger vinegar solution at the supermarket, especially in the fall. That is, "pickling, vinegar"(for pickling vegetables). It is a 4% solution of acetic acid in water. (1% higher than the table vinegar).
Both vinegars need no dilution. I.e. use them straight out of the plastic jug.
Warming the pickling solution will speed up the metal descaling.
Citric acid can be used instead of vinegar. It may be bought in canning supply or confectioner supplies stores and, sometimes, even in some supermarkets.
It comes as a powder which is mixed into water. (table, distilled, or deionised water).
It is fairly safe, but should be treated with respect. For example, wash spills immediately, and neutralise the surface with a baking soda in water solution. (i.e. a mild basic solution), as it could stain a counter top. Keep the liquid out of your eyes and off your skin.
A dilute phosphoric acid solution can also be used, it is stronger than the previous two acids and should be used with even more care (eye protection, rubber gloves and in awell ventilated area. (keep all pickling baths out of reach of children and animals (i.e. local squirrels, house pets, etc., and perhaps in-laws).
In a pinch, there is enough dilute phosphoric acid in Coca and Pepsi Cola to probably work. (albeit slowly). Some old timers swear that the strength of pre 1950 cola was stronger. Uniform brass buttons used to cleaned with cola, during the war.
Please note that much stronger acetic acid solutions can be purchased at the local chemical supply outlet. (at much greater concentrations than table or pickling vinegar). These acetic acid solutions are, frequently, at dangerous concentrations. Often 60% and even higher. Such acetic acid solutions can cause serious burns and can even kill. Soooo, they require great care, and careful, knowlegable handling, and equipment. (e. g. Gloves, face shields, rubber suits and sometimes even respirators.)
Concentrated acetic acid will work much more quickly. But it is not worth the hassle.
Hydrochloric acid also can be used, for pickling metals. For example, muriatic acid can be bought at many hardware stores (iron mongers in G. B.). Muriatic acid is usually sold as an approximately 20% hydrochloric acid solution in water. (v/v).
The same safety precautions should be taken as for strong acetic acid.
Special care should be taken when diluting acid solutions. The acid must be slowly poured into the water. Never the other way. (NEVER pour acid into water). Let me explain why. Diluting acid solutions gives off a lot of heat. Pouring water into an acid solution can cause enough heat for the acid to explode (i.e. turn to steam very quickly and fly up into your face. Some people have been blinded and/or severely burned making that mistake (that is two mistakes, they were not wearing protective clothing and eye protection when improperly diluting the acid.).
Vinegar, or citric acid should be strong enough to do the descaling and are fairly safe.
All the best, to all, in 2003.
   slag - Friday, 01/10/03 04:45:27 GMT

Dear Guru,
I have been intrested in swords and other metal pieces of art for many years. Finaly i thought to myself, wouldn't be neat to work with metal to create my own art.I would really apreciate if you could give me a name of a good school for metal working. I live in the Seattle area.

Thank you very much,
Tristan Williams-Burden
   Tristan Williams-Burden - Friday, 01/10/03 06:01:03 GMT

Try your local community college. Also look into the NWBA ( they have a link on anvilfire) to find local area smiths. There are a lot in the Seattle area. Also Frank Turley has a school in Santa Fe, Campbell Folks school in the SE ( No Carolina?)
   Ralph - Friday, 01/10/03 06:22:44 GMT

Philip R;
I think Jere' carries them..
Garry; When you draw excess acetylene from a tank in a short time, the acetone in which it is dissolved begins to come with the gas through your regulator and hose. This plays hell with plastic and rubber...I went through 4 regulator rebuilds before I figured this out.
Propane is cheaper heat, even if you burn through more oxy.
But acetylene is hotter so if you need restricted spot heat or are starting cuts in thicker steel frequently or wish to weld steel, it is superior. For small work, the speed advantage negates the cost difference, i find.
Good Guru; Slag's excellent acid exposition probably belongs in the FAQ
Adam; the reason that the son of the Earl of Warick's name was expunged ,was that his attempt at a equine fuel injector involved using pressurized methane from the horse just ahead in the order of march to force oats through the feedbag into the horse at a greater feed rate. Hoping to get more efficient action, all 37 royal stallions were "daisy-chained" together for the first grand test of the rapid refueling system. Unfortunately, an errant spark from the royal forge welding farrier....
   - Pete F - Friday, 01/10/03 07:56:51 GMT

Steven Bronstein, Two women in the Bay area who were tutored by Dorothy, use water based acrylic obtained from hobby stores to paint their steel garden planters. I can't say for certain that Dorothy uses them, however. A specialty company you might check: www.vtcoatings.com/watermetal.htm.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 01/10/03 12:39:39 GMT

Drilling holes with multiple sides:

I just got a copy of Plain and Ornamental Forging by Schwarzkopf. In the appendix he gives a description of drlling square holes using a 3 sided triangular drill. I don't understand how this is possible. If you have a triangular rod and you rotate it on it's long axis, won't the three edges still travel through a circlular path? How then can you get a square hole? I believe that Weygers gives a simlar description in one of his books. Can someone please explain this to me?
   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 01/10/03 14:46:19 GMT


as with any fuel gas or liquid the first concern should be safety of
the individuals in the immediate area and for the physical plant. it
is always better to err on the side of safety.

acetylene becomes unstable at 15 psig as a free gas. acetylene is stablized
by being dissolved in acetone or dimethylformamide in an absorbent material
usually cotton. the maximum withdrawal rate for any acetylene cylinder/tank
is based on the cubic foot capacity of the cylinder/tank. exceeding the maximum
withdrawal rate will cause solvent (acetone or dimethylformamide) to be
withdrawn from the cylinder/tank. if sufficient solvent (acetone or
dimethylformamide) is withdrawn from the cylinder/tank the acetylene remaining
in the cylinder/tank will become free gaseous acetylene above 30 psia. the risk
of the acetylene cylinder/tank spontaneously exploding rises.
above 30 psia gaseous acetylene is spontaneously combustible.


Propane is low cost and has the advantage of being available in bulk supplies.
The flame temperature is lower than for acetylene (the maximum flame
temperature in oxygen is 2810°C compared with 3160°C for acetylene) which
makes piercing much slower. However, it can tolerate a greater nozzle to
workpiece distance which reduces the risk of molten metal splashing back
onto the nozzle and causing a "backfire".

For similar nozzle designs, cutting speeds for oxypropane and oxyacetylene
are similar. Advantages claimed for propane are smooth cut edge, less slag
adhesion and lower plate edge hardening because of the lower flame
temperature. The heat affected zone is much wider than for oxyacetylene.

if increasing the pressure for propane the oxygen pressure should also be
increase according. noxygen comsumption is higher with propane than with

Table : Fuel Gas Characteristics
Fuel Gas Maximum Flame Oxygen to fuel gas Heat distribution
Temperature °C Ratio (vol) kJ/m3
Primary Secondary
Acetylene 3,160 1:5 18,890 35,882
Propane 2,810 4.3:1 10,433 85,325
MAPP 2,927 3.3:1 15,445 56,431
Propylene 2,872 3.7:1 16,000 72,000
Hydrogen 2,834 0.42:1 - -
Natural Gas 2,770 1.8:1 1,490 35,770

concerning propane being unable to weld steel. i have welded steel with propane
for several years and have never had a problem. it is easier to weld thin steel
with propane than acetylene because of lower flame temperature there is less
chance of burn through.

psig = pounds per square inch gauge
psia = pounds per square inch absolute

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Friday, 01/10/03 15:15:23 GMT

I am looking for info on building tomahawks using octagon rifle barrels. I have seen instruction some where but can't turn it up. I am a knife maker and forge most of my blades check out www.cactusforge.com Also any tricks to keep hammer handles tight, I live in the Arizona desert and the only way I have found is to store them water.
Thanks Gib
   cactusforge - Friday, 01/10/03 15:21:54 GMT

Dear Cactus, Pipe-tomahawk manufacture is in Harold Peterson's book, "American Indian Tomahawks". Milford Chandler covers the gun barrel method in the appendix.

Give the handles a ½linseed-½turpentine rub and/or soak BEFORE applying the hammer head. Use appropriate wedges if needed.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 01/10/03 15:30:08 GMT

Do you have information on Albert H. Sonn's art work? I believe there is a print signed by him circa 1907 titled fatima ciggarettes. Any information would be appreciated.
thank you.
   blaise - Friday, 01/10/03 16:56:15 GMT

Square Holes Patrick, you might "worry" a squarish hole with a three sided drill, deflecting the shank and bouncing around. . Are you sure they are not broaching corners after drilling a round hole. Or using the "drill" as a chisle.

Methods of making square holes cold include:

Drill round, chisle and scrape out corners by hand.

Drill round, drill small corner holes tangent to final surface, mill out extra with a ~1/3 diameter end mill. Dress will files or scrapers.

Drill round, cut corners with a shaper or slotter (vertical shaper).

Drill round, broach each corner with a special corner broach in a round bushing.

Drill round, broach with a square broach.

EDM (hole any shape including spirals).

Square holes in thin material can be sawed after drilling starter holes.

The method described on a milling machine works very well. I've machined many square holes for special one inch wrench drives. For 1" holes the corner holes were drilled using 1/8" drills, then the 1" center hole was drilled to remove most of the material, then a 3/8" end mill was used. This leaves two small ridges at each corner that can be easily scraped flat and dressed with a file. You can use a smaller corner drill but then you need to follow with a smaller end mill (say 1/4"). The 1/16" corner fillet radius is small conpared to the rounded corners on square drives OR items like hardie shanks. If I were making hardy holes I would use a 3/16" corner hole for a 1" square and 1/4" (1/8" fillet radius) for larger ones.
   - guru - Friday, 01/10/03 17:10:04 GMT

Acetylene Draw Down Rates: Garry as Pete mentioned you can quickly get into trouble. The little small rosebuds that come with most small oxy-acetylene sets are as big as a standard (110-130 I think) acetylene cylinder can handle. For larger rosebuds you have to gang cylinders on a manifold.

YES, a big rose-bud torch will work on a small cylinder for a few minutes. VERY few minutes. Then the pressure drops off as the cylinder freezes AND you can start to draw acetone as Pete mentioned. However, in most cases you just run short on fuel and the torch starts popping out. Great LOUD cannon noises from those big tips. You can end up the police visiting you if you are in a city. . they will be looking for the source of the gun fire or fireworks.

The 1/7 volume per hour IS a hard fast rule. Just like little propane cylinders the big acetylene cylinder DO freeze up.

I tried to explain this to a welding crew that was supplying us with oxy-acetylene on a nuclear site. . They couldn't believe that the large (18" diameter, 5' tall) acetylene cylinders they had were too small. . . We had to waste a shift with a crew dressed in anti-C's in the summer heat (on top of the flame thrower torch) to prove it. . (probably cost $20K to prove what I knew, but I wasn't a nuclear certified welder. . ). I ended up spending several days chasing down fittings to gang together four of those big cylinders just to run one rose bud for about 20 minutes.

Propane bulk tanks are the solution to this problem. A 150 gallon tank will provide enough fuel for several large rosebuds AND a gas forge.
   - guru - Friday, 01/10/03 17:29:34 GMT

Mankel Anvils: Rugg, as Frank notes Mankel makes mostly farrier's pattern anvils but he DOES make a large "American" pattern.

Late Peter Wrights are the closest in an English anvil to the narrow waisted American pattern. The true "London" pattern is actually the older heavy waisted English anvil as made by Mouse Hole forge. These are actually better for forging than the latter American and farrier pattern anvils.

In old forged anvils Hay-Budden is the best of the American pattern American anvils followed by the Trenton and Arm and Hammer and a few others. The Kohlswa cast steel anvil is an America pattern.

These narrow waisted anvils are pretty things that we think of a being a "classic" shape. However, the narrow waist makes only a small sweet spot over the waist really good for forging and the shape also contributes a lot to the volume of the ring. The narrow waist is part of trying to be light weight and portable (an oxymoron in anvil design). It also creates a larger horn and work surface for a given weight anvil. But as metioned, this is at the expense of solidity for forging. The short waistless European style anvils such as the Nimba are actually better design when it comes to getting the most out of your metal. But, to many of us in North America they are funny looking. . .

   - guru - Friday, 01/10/03 17:54:47 GMT

I recently aquired some remenant pieces of a material from an auction held at a Machine shop going out of business.The material has the been inscribed "VASCO Max 300". I have searched for the material characteristics online but haven't been able to find it. Do you know what this is? and can it be used for making tooling? Thanks.
   Dave - Friday, 01/10/03 17:55:13 GMT

Vasco Max 300

I have not heard of this particular grade but there is a grade called Vasco Wear that has been used to make knives. Both of these names are company trade names and not common standard names. More than likley it is a high wear resistance steel, probably highly allowed and not good for impact tooling. You really need to find out what the composition is to determine appropiate applications and heat treatment. Unfortunaly I don't know which company makes the Vasco steels, but you may be able to contact someone at Crucible Metals or Latrobe steel who can tell you which company to contact. Good luck.
   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 01/10/03 18:05:53 GMT

Propane and other regulators. I seem to recall that propane is a solvent and therefore requires a different regulator than you use for acetylene. But if acetone is the base for this gas then the acetylene regulator should work. Could someone please clarify this for me just a bit? Thanks.
   - Tony-C - Friday, 01/10/03 18:06:29 GMT

Dave, QC recently sent me a croos reference chart and they list Teledyne Vasco but not the "Max 300". Teledyne Vasco is aparently a Latrobe steel company (owned by Timken Bearings). A web search returned the same chart provided by QC.

Cross referencing tool steels based on propriatary trade names is very difficult. Unlike the UNS, SAE and tool steel designations there is no standard and the names were changed at the wims of marketing departments.

I did find this link. .


You might give them a call.

   - guru - Friday, 01/10/03 18:12:18 GMT

Drilling Square Holes:
The following is the selection from Plain and Ornamental forging I referred to before.

"To drill the hole through a soft metal, such as copper, use a three-cornered drill with the sides parellel to each other, and meeting in a point, as shown in Fig. 221. The other end of the drill should be round and centered, so that when placed in a chuck, it will not wobble. To drill a 5/8 inch quare hole in steel is more difficult, due to the hardness of that metal. In such a case it is advisable first to drill a 5/8 round hole, and then to fasten a template containing a square hole of the exact size of the required one, to the piece of steel; the square corners can them be formed by using the three cornered drill. The section around the hole in the template should be tempered so that while the drill revolves it will be kept in place and at the same time will not enlare the hole. Hexagonal or octagonal holes may be drilled in the same manner with drills having five sides and sevens sides respecivly."

As you can see, the implication is that square or other multi sides holes can be accuratly drilled in steel. Is there anything in the above description that makes the authors suggestion more clear than I did in my first post?
   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 01/10/03 18:18:37 GMT

Patrick, Guru,
Drilling square holes:

You are both right. A flat ended, equilateral triangle drill will worry a square hole when used in clnjunction with a jig. This is one of those things that sounds and works better on paper than in the shop.

   - michaelm - Friday, 01/10/03 18:54:33 GMT

Brian Cornish,

Mail to you keeps bouncing, even when I'm replying to a message from you.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/10/03 19:24:19 GMT

Keyword = "worry", as in bounce around, flex, vibrate.

Patrick, YOU said acurate, not the paragraph you quoted. It also noted in "soft" metal and needed a guide in steel. I would also bet it is limited to very shallow holes due to the need of the drill to flex and bounce around.

All the methods I listed makes precision square holes a lot faster than you would think. EDM is best, a milling machine will do it faster but requires a little more labor (not much). A drill press does a fair job in a reasonable amount of time but requires more hand work. Broaching is fast but the tooling is expensive. Over $300 for a 1" square broach.

IF you are making square or hex holes as drivers for a shaft coupling or a wrench you can mill 100% of the surfaces when you use clearance corner holes like on Snap-On wrenches. No scraping or filing required AND it fits sharp corners. This takes the driving OFF the corner and puts it on the flat. The large corner holes also relieve stress.
   - guru - Friday, 01/10/03 19:26:53 GMT

   NICK J - Friday, 01/10/03 20:30:58 GMT

Propane welding: Terry, if you can give some tips on how to do this, I sure would appreciate it. I have tried on and off for a few years. There seems to be no working region where the metal is molten but doesnt foam up. In the end I gave up and got a small acetelyene torch just for welding.

I have found that I can easily do a "forge weld" with an oxy propane torch by laying the parts on a firebrick and using the torch to heat them up to welding heat (pale lemon). This is a handy trick when working with a gas forge and you dont feel like cranking it up to welding heat just to do one weld.
   adam - Friday, 01/10/03 20:59:07 GMT

Thanks for the explanation of square holes. I have no intentions of drilling them, but was trying to understand the description in the text. Maybe this was a way to get a square hole in a pinch the past as I have seen the description in other sources.
   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 01/10/03 21:18:17 GMT

I don't know where to look for my answer,
and I am not sure who can help me. I am a horseshoer. I have heard that it is possible to dye the horseshoes. They are usually made from steel. Do you know anything, or can you point me to any one who might know about coloring steel? I heard that there is a powder dye that orange hot steel can be covered with, and it will dye that steel.

I am looking for a way to dye the metal just before I put it on the horse. In other words, if I go over to some one's house to put shoes on their horse, and their little girl says "daddy my pony needs pink horseshoes" I can just color the shoes right then, and then slap them onto the horse's foot. Is there anything that would work like that? I don't care if it is a liquid or powder, if it has to be heated or not. I just have a lot of kids ask if their shoes can be colored, and I thought I would try to find out. And if possible I don't want it to cost me more then 5 dollars to color one horseshoe.

So, can you help me? If not, can you point me in the direction of some one else who might be able to? Or is there anything that I could use at home to color the metal? It has to be something that won't wear off too easily, as it is going to be on the bottom of a horse's foot for about 6 week straight.

   Heather Grulke - Friday, 01/10/03 22:22:47 GMT

Heather.........uh.......paint? It's cheap and easily customized.......Or maybe fusion bonded epoxy powder?
   - Quenchcrack - Friday, 01/10/03 22:50:43 GMT

Thanks to all for helping me get a propane/oxy setup going.

Tried it out today. It heats very very well........and cuts great too with the propane cutting tip.

Got a 252 cubic foot oxy tank........should last a while.

I too would like to hear how one welds with propane/oxy.....no luck so far for me.

Now for a simple (stupid?)question: why does the literature say to only use the flint sparker to ignite the torch, and not say the exhaust of my propane forge?

How weather-proof are the victor reglators? My shop area is outside, out of direct sunlight, but I expect any regular condensation or rain might shorten the lifespan of the regulators considerably.

   Garry - Friday, 01/10/03 23:52:50 GMT


Set a bucket over top of each tank and regulator. 5 gallon plastic bucket will work. Take the bucket off to work, put it back on when you close the valves and bleed the hoses.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/10/03 23:56:56 GMT

Pink horseshoes: I know nothing about horses but I have picked up a lot of loose shoes and they are all severely abraded. It's hard to imagine any coating that would survive long. Just a thought but how about doing the hooves with nail varnish? You could have a mini portable nail salon for horses and do fancy designs as well as plain color. Do the manes with ribbons. Could even offer ear and body piercing -- ok I'll stop there
   adam - Friday, 01/10/03 23:57:05 GMT

   - rayfromgray - Saturday, 01/11/03 00:12:23 GMT

   - rayfromgray - Saturday, 01/11/03 00:23:18 GMT


flint stirker and oxy/fuel torches.

many a welder has lost a hand lighting a torch with a butane
lighter. the burning torch hits the butane lighter and the butane
lighter explodes. generally taking the person's hand with it.
not a pleasant sight. been there, saw it, we now call that
former welder righty, since he has no right hand nor part of his right forearm.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Saturday, 01/11/03 01:36:56 GMT

Ray, cowbells are made from copper coated or brass coated sheet steel. Feed stores should allow you to study one. Make a pattern, perhaps folded cardboard for starters. Then, cut out the sheet brass, fold to shape, solder if needed, and suspend an octagonal nut from a hay wire for a clapper.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 01/11/03 02:28:34 GMT

alpha guru and frank, thanks for the anvil replies. couldnt wait for copy of anvils in america to arrive. i saw the mankel in a centaur catalog. it was the 130# without the clip horn. i very much like the porportions of that anvil.

i am in the market for my "dream anvil"; i just dont know exactly what to look for yet. minimal use/wear, 150-220#, "old", no repairs/mods, similar porportions as the mankel. need to do some more research, AIA will help.

quick one...plain medium steel MIG weld to mild easy?? will try this w/e.(back up tool).

   rugg - Saturday, 01/11/03 02:28:43 GMT

Ray, cowbells are made from copper coated or brass coated sheet steel. Feed stores should allow you to study one. Make a pattern, perhaps folded cardboard for starters. Then, cut out the sheet brass, fold to shape, solder if needed, and suspend an octagonal nut from a hay wire for a clapper.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 01/11/03 03:00:34 GMT

Square Holes, there are special drills for drilling square holes, These are 'rullo' (thats not spelled right, its french) triangles, or curves of constant width, they got some exposure in wankle engins. They exist, trust me.
   - Tim P - Saturday, 01/11/03 03:16:02 GMT

Welding /// Butane Lighters /// Kaboom.
Butane lighters should never be anywhere near any machine that can throw a spark.
A hot spark can contact, stick to and penetrate the compressed butane gas container. (after first burning through the pocket where it resides.) The gas blevies (explodes), and the lucky weldors (usually happens while welding), will survive minus a leg. 50% of these accidents kill the weldor.(i.e. the unlucky ones).
The butane lighter is, usually, in the pants pocket when the spark hits. It is less often that the mishap happens when the oxy-acetylene torch's gas mixture is being initially lit. But it happens. (there are less sparks then, usually, then while cutting or gas welding).
The statistic is real. I recently read it in a science (or more likely a medical journal). I don't remember which one. (incipient senility, I guess).
Some jurisdictions have outlawed butane lighters at job sites. Some insurance companies have installed a disclaimer clause for this type of mishap (and will not pay up for it's consequences).
It is not a forseeable consequence and I must admit that I have lit a gas torch or two with a butane lighter, in the past, before I read about these types of accidents.
I'll never do that again and I hope none of the anvilfire gangue does it too.
Regards to all the "iron bangers" at this site. Also let me wish you all a great 2003.
   slag - Saturday, 01/11/03 05:45:33 GMT


my sister is a trauma center nurse. one person they brought
in was originally thought to be a gun shot victim from a
shootgun blast to the chest. turned out he had been grilling
in his backyard when a spark hit his shirt pocket. the butane
lighter exploded. there was melted plastic shrapnel throughout
his chest cavity. he did live minus his left lung.
best not to have any butane lighter on your person when
using a welder/torch or near any sparks. if you really need
a lighter use an old style stainless steel zippo lighter with flint and lighter fluid.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Saturday, 01/11/03 06:01:11 GMT

Terry R;
Good propane run down..thanks!
Gib; once the handles are soaked, you are pretty comitted to water...but you might get away with it if you soak them in antifreeze for a week or so before drying..that's what St Francis used on loose hammer heads. It makes the handles tighter by swelling the smith's head.
Ray; use heavy sheet brass, anneal and cut a circle out. Burn or carve a bell shaped hole in a stump. Take a small bell pein hammer and tap the soft brass circle in a spiral pattern, starting in the center. Do this over the hole in the stump using even, close spaced blows. Stop before you reach the edge, you don't want to stretch the rim of the bell. After each pass, anneal. repeat a lot. When the shape is about right, anneal one last time and drill the hole for the clapper. Hire a very small man to be the clapper.
PS Ray...USING ALL CAPS IS SHOUTING !! Doesn't go with little bells.
Slag, Terry...but i used to like butane lighters..thinking of all the hours I've welded with one in my pocket..eeek.
   - Pete F - Saturday, 01/11/03 07:13:41 GMT

I have been asked to try and straighten a badly bent spanner wrench. The wrench is used to disconnect our fire hosees and is made of cast aluminum. Do you have any advice as to how to carefully heat this and what type of quench to use? Or should it be air-cooled?
   Brian C - Saturday, 01/11/03 13:56:29 GMT

Hi all,
I will soon be joining FABA and was wondering if you knew of any local blacksmiths in the Miami, Florida area.
   cmills - Saturday, 01/11/03 15:30:15 GMT

Keeping handles tight,
the best way I've found to keep hammerhandles tight is to make sure they are properly fit, and then wedged. Carry a few wooden wedges with you and make sure the head is secure before using. Water is only a very poor temporary last resort. What happens when you soak the head in water is the wood over expands and chrushes and then when it dries out it's even worse. I have taken 1/2 an inch or more out of wagon tires that have been tightened by soaking in water. I soaked my hammer that I use daily in an antifreeze solution and the head stayed tight for 3 years or so.
   JimG - Saturday, 01/11/03 15:56:39 GMT


Aren't those octagon nuts kinda hard to find? BOG ;)
   - grant - Saturday, 01/11/03 17:36:45 GMT

I won't cast doubt on what you're saying, I've heard these things about butane lighters for years. I would like to see one reference to an unimpeachable source though. Everything I've ever seen was hearsay of one sort or another. Must be some documented cases somewhere if it's that common. I just can't see how butane can detonate without being mixed with the proper amount of oxygen.
   - grant - Saturday, 01/11/03 17:45:51 GMT

The guru, I was wondering if you had any more feedback rgarding that strange v shaped thing I sent you a couple of pics of. Also rugg you might look at a anvil that I have listed on anvil fire auction site, the weight number shown on it is 168#n I have several pics I can e-mail you, there is one on the auction site.
   olddog - Saturday, 01/11/03 17:47:29 GMT

butane explosion: Grant, I have exactly the same question. I can see severe burns but a detonation capable of amputating a limb? I dont understand how that happens when the gas is not mixed with O2
   adam - Saturday, 01/11/03 18:27:20 GMT

I just ran through my pictures of the anvil I have listed and I could really begin to make out the letterring and stuff on it. The weight is very plain at 162#, it also says solid wrought above the weight number, there is some kind of a design stamped into it, with the letters E N on the design, in the front under the horn there is the letter A stamped on it, there is a series of dots punched in the side which could be initials of the owner. olddog
   olddog - Saturday, 01/11/03 18:30:37 GMT

dog, thanks for the thought. looking for piece without clip horn. i will know exactly what i am looking for soon..
   rugg - Saturday, 01/11/03 18:35:38 GMT

What follows is a stupid and very dangerous thing I once did. I would never ever try it again, and anyone who does is as stupid and foolish as I was to do it.


In my youth, a butane lighter with defective flint striker (sparking device on top of the liquid butane pressure reservoir of the lighter) was tossed into a campfire. Of course I quickly retreated to "safe" (?) distance much as one would for fireworks.The lighter unit soon flew from the campfire emitting a trail of flaming butane as "propellant." It went about 40 feet and expired.....no explosion, no bleve, no shrapnel.

The flame-scorched butane lighter had a 1/8 inch diameter hole in the plastic body where the burning butane had exited much like rocket-exhaust for its brief two second flight.

This does not mean it can't violently explode! Just that the one time in my life when I was stupid enough to try this, the outcome was fortunately mild and non-explosive. Had this happened in my pocket as a result of errant torch ignition somehow, the burns would have been terrible.

Basically this was a bleve (boiling liquid, expanding vapor explosion), only without the final explosion. The container didn't suddenly rip wide open expelling its liquid/vapor butane contents. If it had a small fireball-type explosion would result.

Certainly everyone’s seen that TV video of the 20,000 gallon propane railcar that bleve'd in Mexico? It was beyond incredible!


p.s. can anyone explain how lighting a welding torch in the exhaust stream of a propane forge could be dangerous? I’ve seen this done countless times at demos with crowds around……..I’d hate to pick up dangerous habits from others, but I can’t build a danger sequence out of this shortcut
   Garry - Saturday, 01/11/03 19:07:01 GMT

I've always kind of wondered about the warnings not to light a torch with a lighter, but never tried it. Guess using the striker was so ingrained that I just always used it. Then, too, I don't typically carry a lighter so there wasn't much temptation.

Lit my gas forge with a piece of twisted newspaper that I lit on one end. Then used one of those long lighters that's meant for grills. Just recently found an extra striker and put it by the forge; now I use that.

Like Grant and Adam, I'd be interested in a documented case, I guess. But since I already use the striker for everything, I guess it's mostly idle curiosity.

   Steve A - Saturday, 01/11/03 19:16:05 GMT

Butane Lighters: Ten or fifteen years ago one of the television news magazines did a full show on the hazzards of butane lighters. It was repeated numerous times. The problem is that being cheap and disposable the valves ocassionaly leak. The next thing you know the carrier's shirt, blouse, pants, pocketbook. . wherever the lighter was being carried in is full of fuel (mixed with air). It is obvious what happens when you are soaked with fuel and it ignites. . .

There was LOTS of documentation and MANY lawsuits. And YES, most industries that are safety conscious do not permit butane lighters on their premisses. It is a firing offence in most of the nuclear industry.

Since that report there have been improvements made in the valves of the products of the major companies. Many of the smaller companies went of business. Bic paid many millions in damages and it almost destroyed the company. Improvements aside, do you want to trust you life on an import where quality standards may not be so good.. . OR on a 2 cent valve with a limited life?

I carried butane lighters for years as a tool. Being a non-smoker they got used very little. However, they were often out of fuel when I DID need them. . Where did it go? Leaked. . . After the television news report I stopped carrying them. I had never thought about WHERE that fuel had gone. At least one was purchased new and was empty a few days later after a camping trip where it stayed in my pocket in a sleeping bag. . . I am probably very lucky there was no sources of ignition in my tent.

As a matter of practice I always light my torch with a standard striker. But when a forge of any type is available I often wave the torch across the flame to light it. Economizer valves use a little wind proofed pilot flame to do the same.

Note that the flint is replaceable in most welding strikers and fresh flint makes a big difference. The strikers with the hollow file striking surface have a very long life and only cost a dallar more than the ones with a flat file surface made of the spring handle.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/11/03 19:53:05 GMT

I don't doubt YOU either Jock. I'm not even from the "Show Me" state, but I would still be interested in seeing documentation on a case that couldn't be told from a shotgun blast or that dismembered the unfortunate soul. I believe they probably do present a danger and should be banned from the workplace. I'm not going to take gummit rules or insurance company ideas as proof of ANYTHING though.
   - grant - Saturday, 01/11/03 20:11:10 GMT


butane accident report:


terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Saturday, 01/11/03 20:57:04 GMT


Thank you for the reference. As I would expect it was a fire NOT an explosion that killed him. This also points to the need for fire retardant clothing. For Gods sake you guys, make sure EVERYTHING you wear is 100% cotton. Not any of these synthetics!
   - grant - Saturday, 01/11/03 21:10:08 GMT

I've just recently started forging, and most of my knowledge about blacksmithing has been gained from reading as many books as possible, going to local hammer-ins, and trial-and-error on my forge.

I have 2 questions:

1. What type of metal(s) are railroad spikes generally made from? I have heard they are a low-carbon steel. I've seen them used often for small decorative and novelty items, but as far as what quality of steel they are, I'm not sure.

2. How/where can I learn more about steel and it's properties? Is there a certain author, group, or organization that is the best? I want to learn as much as I can about metal, specifically iron and steel. What metal is used for what, what is the difference in the types of steels, their properties, etc.?

Thank you for your time.

-Josh Paddock
   Joshua Paddock - Saturday, 01/11/03 21:25:55 GMT

Just to re-enforce Grant's comment about clothing.

If you don't KNOW that an item of clothing is 100% cotton, pull a thread loose and burn it. If it burns, the clothing is safe (?) to wear. But if it melts, DO NO WEAR IT IN THE SHOP!! many of the synthetic fibers give of toxic fumes as they burn and the fumes are as much or more of a danger than the da** fire.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/11/03 21:59:47 GMT


A beginner using his head? What's the world coming to? (grin)

Good question!

Start with Machinery's Handbook. Used ones show up on the internet all of the time for $15 - 20 Dollars. A blacksmith has more use for any edition prior to #18 than for newer editions. But ALL editions have much information about different alloys, their physical and chemical properties, and heat treating methods. The Handbook is not a substitute for an education as a metalurgist, but it's a darn big help. After that, look for the ASM series on Steel and it's alloys, but they are a LOT more expensive.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/11/03 22:03:07 GMT

Had a polyester shirt on once (what WAS I thinking!). With my back to a hot forge it caught fire. At first I was trying to undo the buttons, then I realized I could just rip it off. Later, peeling the melted fabric off my back took the skin with it! NOT FUN!
   - grant - Saturday, 01/11/03 22:52:39 GMT


That's how we learn! With me it was a pair of dress blue uniform trousers that I was using as cavalry trousers at a re-enactment where I was demonstrating.

But you only have to get burned that way once, to learn.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/11/03 23:01:21 GMT

Fire safety-
I had the opportunity to hear an audio tape that was made of a firefighter while his burns were being debrided. Horrible sound. That would make anyone pay attention to wearing proper equpment and clothing.
   Brian C - Saturday, 01/11/03 23:12:45 GMT

Any one looking for a good anvil check out ebay item #753099365 a135lb Peter Wright anditem # 753097004 a Mouse Hole . they look to be going cheep the Peter Wright is at 150.00 they go off in 2 hr
   - jojo - Sunday, 01/12/03 00:52:35 GMT


i would really question that being a peter wright anvil.
0. it looks far too new.
1. the horn would appear to have a cast line down the middle
of it.

looks more like a russian cast steel anvil.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Sunday, 01/12/03 01:10:54 GMT

Looks old English, but may not be P. Wright. The "triangular look" to each foot usually indicates early English.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 01/12/03 01:50:36 GMT

Looks more like a very early Peter Wright, shortly after he left Mouse Hole Forge, to me. I'd have to look at it "in person" to say for sure.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/12/03 02:12:17 GMT


The paint is fooling the eye. It's got a THICK coat of paint or grease on it. The "cast line" is a shadow line from the flash when they took the picture.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/12/03 02:54:27 GMT

Clothing and Fire:

For our reenactors we advocate natural fibers not just because they are historically accurate, but also because we work arond fire all the time in camp- cooking, forging, staying warm, lighting, we're always around the fire pits or forges, or candles, or cressets, or braziers.

Don't forget the virtues of wool and leather. I have a number of holes through some of my wool or linen tunics, but it tends to be self extinguishing. Leather is d@mn near fire-proof. All of the holes in the wool, or the linen undertunics, are below the line of the leather apron. There are NO holes in the leather apron, not even scorch marks! The stuff is tough! I used to use a beat up suede jackets when discharging various cannons and fireworks ('til my wife snuck in into the trash).

ANYTHING will catch fire if we try hard enough, but leather and wool are generally self-extinguishing (if you remove the heat source), and linen and cotton, while they will ignite, still tend to self-extinguish if it's a minor spark, or can be quickly doused with water or smothered with a glove or the old stop-drop-roll.

[In later historical periods, this didn't work as well and in the late 19th century we lost a female member of the family to a cookstove fire. Hoop skirts and fire were a fatal combination throughout the Victorian age- lot's of fuel mixed with air, kept spread by wire or baleen framing = walking torches!]

Good forging last night with a trainee: he planishes lamp bowls better than I do. Cold and clear on the banks of the lower Potomac. Turned on the de-icer on the pier tonight!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 01/12/03 04:47:19 GMT

Butane Explosions /// search results
Grant and Adam you are half right and I am half wrong.
Let me explain.
I did a search of the net, (some of it, the search engines are so quirky).
You are right that "bic-assisted explosions are rare and can be labelled as an urban myth. But butane lighters are hellish dangerous and I'll relate several eamples in a minute.
I should first try to explain the difference between a butane-oxygen mixture explosion, and a butane rocket which consists of butane escaping from a container and igniting before there is much escape of the butane gas from the container before ignition.
In the latter situation, the gas escapes from a point source in the container wall and is quickly ignited before the gas has a chance to escape into the air and mixing. Where the puncture is essentially at the end of the container, the burning resembles a rocket engine and the container can be propelled into the air as the gas escapes and is burned at the point of escape. If the puncture is on the belly of the contained (i.e. on it's side), the gas can escape and burn in a flaming fountain-like fashion.
If the container bursts, there will be a spectacular explosion. The gas instantly exits the container and quickly mixes with the oxygen in the air and any heat source or spark will set all the butane off, in an instant.
This mechanism is essentially the same as fuel air explosive bombs. The bomb is essentially a canister of compressed ethylene gas. One end, of the bomb, has a bursting charge and the other end has an incendiary explosive which ignites the ethylene-air explosive gas mixture.
The time for optimal ethylene-fuel and air mixing is one tenth of a second. That is the precise time difference between the bursting charge and the incendiary charge ingitions.The result is a fireball that sucks all the oxygen out of a wide area.
The same phenomenon was at work in the Pemex gas railcar explosion in Mexico that Mr. Grant alludes to (the discovery channel often replays that video footage, it's a real show).
Try www.chemaxx.com:80/aerosols.htm for a discussion of a fall of a butane propellant paint can that sheared open and was detonated by a spark severely burning a lady who was in the room at the time. They have posted a simulation video of the mishap at www.chemaxx.com:80/aerovid.html
I came across two welding-shop butane gas explosions, in my search.
They are located at www.hronline.com/forums/ohs/9903/msg00095.html
There is a graphic description of a safety instructer opening the valve of an oxygen cylidar and then "flicking his bick". (the largest sized remains of him was postage stamp size). He was posthumously awarded with the coveted Darwin Award. See, www.darwinawards.com/personal/personal2000-17.html
A Canadian welding instructer came close to repeating the experience, while conducting "experiments". He is lucky that none of his lighters burst, but just burned off their gascharges
His demonstration is described at www.frii.com/~dnorris/lighter.html
Also Bic lighters have been dramatically improved since a great number of explosions and burnings in the 1970's and early 1980's. The striker has a shield to prevent its pieces jamming the valve open and thus soaking an area, or clothing full with butane gas that is subsequently ignited.
The bottoms of the gas container no longer crak open and lose their gas content in a few seconds.
The British Columbia instructor may have been more "lucky" if he had used the common Chinese Bic knock offs. (he could have made the Darwins).
Butane lighters have detonated in cars parked in the blazing sun in the summer. A boxful of lighters blew up in a truck in Europe (Denmark).
Some people have been blown up just while lighting up a cigarette.
A collection of these tales can be read at www.snopes.com/horrors.techno/lighter.htm and a Canadian site that reports on a study of such lighters, that I have temporarily misplaced.
Most of these butane lighter tales and court cases disappear because Bic (the usual court defendant), has a policy of quickly reaching a legal settlement with the injured Plaintiff and requiring them to keep the sum of the award and other details secret.
I will stick with my original suggestion that butane lighters should be kept far away from forgeworks, smithies, fab and other machine shops.
Try www.spril.com/StealthForceBeta/GaseousResearch.asp
for the hillareous butane exploits of General Sasquatch and his gallant crew of scientific lunatics.

   slag - Sunday, 01/12/03 06:46:19 GMT

Steve a, others,

Not advocating either way. The admonitions against lighting a torch with an open flame can be traced through editions of the weldor's bible. Earlier editions talk about not lighting your torch with a lighter because of the risk of burning yourself with the torch once lit. They illustrate the use of a candle on the bench, thus avoiding same. It is pure conjecture, but with litigiousness ever rising, it is probably easier now just to warn against any open flame.
   - michaelm - Sunday, 01/12/03 18:39:29 GMT

Just wanted to add a corollary. The above statement refers to the admonitions life BEFORE the introduction and wide spread distribution of the disposable butane lighter. As such it speaks only to the admonition against lighting a torch with a hand held open flame, and has nothing to do with the very real and potent danger of butane.
   - michaelm - Sunday, 01/12/03 18:44:18 GMT

I am a contactor in seattle and I am looking for someone to site solder some 99.9% zinc sheetmetal shaped trim.
   john brown - Sunday, 01/12/03 19:29:33 GMT

Steels and Spikes: Joshua, RR-Spikes are generaly a medium or medium high carbon steel (30-40 points or 50-75 points). Supposedly the higher coarbon ones are marked HC.

Both are good for making things in their range of steels but they ARE NOT low-carbon steel. Both will harden to a brittle hardness that can be easily broken if not tempered. So be careful about water cooling things made of spikes. Air cooled it is fairly tough material and that is the condition they are made in. Hardened and tempered they are tougher and harder depending on the type.

As Paw-Paw mentioned MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK is a good starter reference AND is very good on a thousand other subjects. I recommend that EVERY metalworker no matter what the field have one. See our book review page.

Almost all books on metal work and machine shop practice have some information about heat treating. Once you get beyond the basics it gets very technical. This subject goes from the basic hands on stuff to engineering college technical in one jump. ASM is the biggest publisher of both reference and technical texts on the subject. McGraw-Hill (or whatever their nom de jour) publishes many text books on the subject of metalurgy and heat treating.

You can also see our rather disorganized Heat Treating FAQ.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/12/03 20:32:56 GMT

Thanks for doing all that research. (Terry thank you too for the ref.) I never doubted that butane lighters were dangerous in a welding area only that they were capable of explosive detonation. The incidents you refer too seem to indicate that it was a bleve type of event which makes sense to me.

I too use a striker or my gas forge if its running. But if we are going to caution people on safety then we should also mention that the biggest risk associated with butane lighters is probably smoking cigarettes which kills nearly half a million Americans every year.

Lethality usually has more to do with power than energy. It's the concentration that is destructive just like the fine edge of a blade. A pound of coal can produce more energy than a pound of dynamite but it takes much longer to do so and the effects are quite different.
   adam - Sunday, 01/12/03 20:43:23 GMT

Thanks for all the references about butane, guys. Now when someone asks, as they almost surely will eventually, I have a better story than "because this is how I was trained..."

   Steve A - Sunday, 01/12/03 21:21:10 GMT

I have been asked to try and straighten a badly bent spanner wrench. The wrench is used to disconnect our fire hosees and is made of cast aluminum. Do you have any advice as to how to carefully heat this and what type of quench to use? Or should it be air-cooled?
   Brian C - Monday, 01/13/03 01:12:38 GMT

Brian, Are you sure its not forged?

Generaly if something can be bent cold, it can be straightened cold. IF it is going to crack there is a good chance it already has and you cannot see it.

IF the aluminium seems fairly soft AND the bends are relatively sharp, I would anneal it and then straighten cold. IF it is soft and the bends are say greater than 120 degrees I would use a vise or a press and straighten cold.

AFTER straightening you should probably do a dye penetrant test for cracks. You can purchase the kits do this but they are pricey. Someone at a machine shop might help with this.

You clean the metal, then spray on the dye, then clean with solvent (per instructions). The solvent will cause any dye in cracks to leach out and leave obvious "indications". Pin holes would probably be casting imperfections but lines indicating cracks would be a bad sign. These should then be files out, TIG welded and then the area tested again.

There is a good chance that if the part is severely bent and it is going to break while straightening then the damage was already done. So straighten and have it welded to repair cracks. You COULD heat and straighten but you get very nearly the same condition by annealing since the hot aluminium will cool fairly quickly. In non-ferrous metals the forging and annealing temperatures are just a few hundred degrees (F) below the melting point. .
   - guru - Monday, 01/13/03 07:16:20 GMT

Guru & Brian C.; There is a Po' Boy alternative to buying the overpriced Magnaflux Kit or similar products. I have used it effectively many times. You simply wipe the casting down with a rag soaked and dripping with kerosene, (or maybe even dyed fuel (Diesel) oil. Dry it off with a dry rag and then rub it down real good with white chalk. I use a big ol' piece of railroad chalk. Pretty soon, if there are any cracks, they will show up as dark lines in the coating of chalk, which is basically howe the other stuff works, anyway. Best regards; Ever the cheapskate, 3dogs.
   - 3dogs - Monday, 01/13/03 07:34:20 GMT

Anybody know the capacity for a Hendley & Whittemore #03 shear?

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 01/13/03 13:30:07 GMT


We're all cheapskates in some ways, and that's a darn good alternative to the Magna Flux kits! Thank you!
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/13/03 13:43:46 GMT

Hi all! I built one of Hugh MacDonalds "Tulip Candle" holders from the I-forge page on the weekend. (The single sticks with the tripod legs). I had a devil of a time with getting any kind of decent bend in the main part of the base. I was using 1/8 x 1 flat bar, tried bending in the vise @ heat, tried hammering over the horn even drew out the opposit side of the bar from the bend. I still didn't get a decent amount of bend in the piece. Any suggestions?
   Tony-C - Monday, 01/13/03 14:03:23 GMT

Hammer handles - we live in a very dry climate here. What works for us isw to use two wedges (one wood, one steel) set in the handle just a bit off of 90 degrees from each other. Then soak the handle with head on for a few days in antifreeze. The glycol displaces all of the water in the wooden handle. Handles done this way will last as long as three years without tightening....ymmv.
   Tony-C - Monday, 01/13/03 14:06:22 GMT

Tony-C, Bending fork and wrench, cold? The distance between posts on the tools should be just slightly wider than stock thickness.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 01/13/03 14:59:08 GMT

This is a question, NOT a suggestion.

Guru and Frank, could the straightening that Brian needs to do be done on the anvil with a hammer? Don't try and do it all with one strike, but many light blows?
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/13/03 15:15:30 GMT

Here is one question for the guru that I have been thinking about for a while. I have a 250# Trenton anvil that was made in 1943. It is of solid tool steel upper half consturction. The face of it is softer than I would like. A missed hammer blow will cause a mark on the face.

My smaller Arm and Hammer anvil (not Vulcan) (1901 date) has a great face that is un-marked except for some edge chips. I would like a harder face on the Trenton. I understand that larger masses of steel are harder to harden and heat treat. I have been thinking of having the anvil re-hardened and tempered. Now for the questions.

1) If I can find it, would flame hardning be sufficent for the job or will it be nessasary to heat the face and quench in the fassion of the old time makers?

2) If I need the more radical treatment, (or even if I don't) what kind of tool steel is the upper half made from? I have Postmans book but I have been unable to figure this out.

3) and finaly, am I being too fussy about it and just get on with my life?

Thank you
   Wayne Parris - Monday, 01/13/03 15:20:56 GMT

I have a very thin - 1/4" thick, conflat type of flange, that has managed to become oversized while heat treating it on a plug, to keep it flat. I am trying to shrink it back down, with out success. The flange is made of a Nickle allow, so it is pretty expensive, and worth trying to save it Is there anything I can can do to shrink this flange down to a smaller diameter.
   Ray Morasse - Monday, 01/13/03 16:02:54 GMT

Tony-c /// Glycol-water for hammer handles /// PEG
Thank you for your glycol-water solution for swelling hammer handles to secure hammer heads. It's a great idea.
I was thinking about the concept and remembered that polyethylene glycol (PEG), is used to treat water soaked wood (e.g. the seabed recovery & restoration, Henry VIII's Mary Rose man of war) and the woodworkers use of PEG to work and to stabilise unseasoned (green) wood.
PEG is polymerised ethylene glycol.
There are at least 2 books on the woodworking of PEG treated wood that can be borrowed form the library.
The PEG process penetrates the green or dried out, and loose wood. It swells it and the PEG remains, deeply embedded, in the wood. The process usuually requires soaking the wood in several increasingly concentrated PEG in water solutions.
PEG is bought as a solid (Flacked?), and is dissolved in water. (I suggest using distilled, or deionised water, instead of tap water). Woodworkers Supply Co. and others sell the chemical.
It's worth a try and may keep the hammer head on the helve
for a long time.
   slag - Monday, 01/13/03 16:30:35 GMT

Food Grade Stainless?
My welding teacher suggested that I make sure that stainless containing selenium (sp?) was safe to eat from. Are there grades of stainless out there that are not food grade? Thanks again.
   Wendy - Monday, 01/13/03 16:36:47 GMT

Hi Guru, 3dogz Po'Boy alternative would be a great addition to the FAQS file. JWGBHF
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Monday, 01/13/03 16:39:14 GMT


Frank, This was bending the bar...?sideways?. I'm not sure how to describe this. On the 1/8"x1" flat bar I'm trying to create the bend in the 1" plane, not the 1/8" plane. (?)

Cold would cause a whole bunch of wrinkles on the inside radius of the curve I think.
   Tony-C - Monday, 01/13/03 16:47:27 GMT

Y'all should see this:
Homemade Blower and Forge
A friend of mine built this blower from an old hand crank grinder. He found it at a antique store for $12.00. The fan came out of an old air filter its 7” diam. But you could use one out of an air conditioner. The forge is built like my first one. He used a bag of $2.00 Wal-Mart generic kitty litter clay and playground sand for the adobe. I think he has less then $25.00 into this setup. A lot of the parts were free-bee’s, tube for frame, metal for forge box, 1/8” aluminum for the blower sides. The blower really puts out the air. The nice thing about the hand crank grinder is it is geared 12:1.


   Wendy - Monday, 01/13/03 17:01:37 GMT

Food Grade Stainless: Wendy, I have never heard of stainless being "food grade". 304 and 304L (low carbon) are used for almost everything in the food industry. Normally what you want to watch out for is any free machining grade of metal that has lead in it.

How something is going to be used also makes a difference. Containers used to cook food have long exposure times with substances that oily, acidic and alkaline. All are conditions that will leach soluable metals out of the container. But cooking and eating utensils like forks and knives do not come in contact long enough to leach out most metals. However, lead is highly soluable and is quickly absorbed by oily or acidic liquids. Cutlery grade stainlesses used throughout the food industry are often the fancy chrome vanadium alloys that also contain many traces of other metals.

Now if you want to worry about something, worry about the copper and brass spoons and ladles made by almost every smith. The copper is highly soluable and the brass almost always contains lead. . . But, on the other hand most of these items either get used for very brief periods OR just hang on the wall and look pretty. . never getting used.
   - guru - Monday, 01/13/03 17:04:54 GMT

Wendy, The URL's you posted have missing characters where the periods are ... You have to cut and paste from the location bar at the TOP of most browsers as the current file box at the bottom appears to be truncated.
   - guru - Monday, 01/13/03 17:10:07 GMT

OOPS! Here's the correct urls:


   Wendy - Monday, 01/13/03 17:23:41 GMT

Tony-C why not use linseed oil? Admitittedly I live in a wet climate Western Oregon. But I have not had issues with my handles in 5 years or so. Also now after 5 years of use I have real nice feel (finish) on the handles from use.
   Ralph - Monday, 01/13/03 17:40:47 GMT

Bending on Edge: Tony, This is more difficult than bending on flat but NOT that much more difficult unless the steel is high carbon. The heat should be at a good penetrating yellow-orange. Then it should easily bend. Yes there will be a little buckling which you straighten on the anvil which upsets the inner edge, the outer will have stretched on bending. If you flatten to the original thickness this stretches the outer edge even more.

Bending in a jig or using a bending fork is best. If you clamp the work in the vise it is immediately cooled by the vise. This works but you have to be very quick. It is best to use the bending fork clamped in the vise or one that fits the anvil. Very little contact cooling occurs.

In a forge you just heat to forging temp THEN:

If the bar will fit the hardy hole stick it through (diagonaly works best) and give a pull. Then flip up on the anvil and flatten and then adjust the legs of the bend.

OR put the place you want the bend over the edge of the anvil and tap down. Doing this the extra material beyond where it is struck will bend UP due to innertia. So flip the part over on the face of the anvil and straighten the unwanted bend before it cools.

Supported properly this bend can be made cold in hot rolled steel but will be more difficult in CF bar due to the work hardening that makes it nearly a spring temper.
   - guru - Monday, 01/13/03 17:42:20 GMT


The glycol isnt for finishing the handles, or sealing them. It actually replaces the water in the wood and stays in the handle. This way the handle cannot actually shrink due to dry climate...there is no water in the handle for the dry air to remove. Our guys up here have tried everything and this is the one solution that works (so far )
   Tony-C - Monday, 01/13/03 17:45:59 GMT

Tongs for bending flat on edge should be big enough to fit the flat bar on edge. Often bolt tongs work with a little adjustment. If it is a one time job where you do not want a special set of tongs OR to modify existing tongs then use a large pair with "V" or round jaws. If you don't have a range of tongs then you need to make a pair OR modify an existing pair.

Many new smiths get the idea that the original shape tongs come in are IT. Well. . . get over IT! Normal practice is to adjust the tongs every time you NEED to adjust them. They are YOUR tools, do what you need to make them useful AND safe to use. This is often necessary on tongs that ARE the "right size" and have gotten bent out of shape.

If you are working in someone else's shop ASK before modifying tongs. Most smiths will not want their best everyday tongs changed. Modifying their favorite pair may get you permanently booted from the shop! BUT, they will often have a rack full of old tongs that have never been used OR are useless shapes. THESE are the ones to modify as needed.

Modifyiing most tongs only requires heating the jaws, picking up a piece the size you want to fit and then give the jaws a few taps to fit. I often clamp the piece AND the tongs in a vise and spread (or close) the reins to a comfortable fit. Most often you need to spread the reins because you have closed the reins by gripping the piece with the hot tongs. If a vise is not handy then hold the tongs and work piece on the anvil with your hammer and then pull the reins up and down as needed.

Once the tongs are well below a red heat you can quench them. Beware of accidentaly hardening tongs. They do not need to be annealed soft but if hard they may easily break.
   - guru - Monday, 01/13/03 17:53:28 GMT

Wendy, Neat blower pics. Can we get permission to use them?

One hint for making this type blower. Make the sides from wood. Cut the scroll case using a jig or sabre saw. The straight discharge can also be wood and makes it easy to space the side boards apart. THEN use light sheet metal to cover the curved scroll.
   - guru - Monday, 01/13/03 18:05:51 GMT

Hammer handles: The big problem is humidity cycling due to seasons or heating. Makes the handle swell and shrink, alternately crushing and releasing the wood fibers. Here in NM where it is very dry all year round I have had good luck with microwaving or baking the handles before assembly. This ensures they will swell up to the ambient humidity.

Food Grade Stainless: Just a thought but this might have to do with cracks and pits which trap dirt and germs. In some places the food industry is not allowed to use plain carbon steel knives and I think its due to sanitation.
   adam - Monday, 01/13/03 18:12:19 GMT

According to the Metals Handbook, Selenium is added to stainless steel to improve machinability. Elemental selenium is virtually nontoxic. HOWEVER! The oxides and halides are slightly toxic but their vile odor gives strong warning. Hydrogen selenide is very dangerous and conditions should not be permitted that allow it to form (acid pickling?). If you do form oxides of selenium, I would expect them to be removed when you remove the forging scale and polish the piece. The percentage of Selenium in stainless is around .15-.25%, which is pretty low. However, this post does not represent an endorsement nor encouragement to use Selenium-bearing stainless (sorry, the lawyer made me do it...).
   - Quenchcrack - Monday, 01/13/03 18:14:03 GMT

Right On Grant! No synthetic kevlar or Nomex in my shop!

(well I generally wear cotton, wool or linen with a leather apron. *wool* (pure wool) is the safest as it's self extinguishing. Cotton and linen burn but don't stick and how many of us have seen the brushed denim "fuzz" poof off a sleeve or leg... When I buy fabric for historical recreating camping wear I do the burn test. The campfire loves dangling clothing. I was once at an even and a fellow was wearing something made from a piled synthetic and he brushed a cigarette against it and you could see a expanding red smoulder line start out from the touch point luckily home brewed ale doesn't burn and was available.

I do have a synthetic coverall that is rated for splashes of molten metal---course I don't like to use it at the forge as it's visible yellow with a radiation trefoil on it---amazing what you can find at thrift stores...

Thomas who wore a hand spun, hand knit scarf into work today---my wife has promised me if I wear it forging I won't need to worry about getting burn holes in it---just the immediate transition to the after life...
   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 01/13/03 18:17:48 GMT

Linseed oil on handles: Although I have not done it to my smithing hammers I have several wood mallets that shrank and cracked. One was made from cherry root and opened up rather badly. The oak handle also lossened. After rubbing on several coats of linseed oil the 1/8" wide cracks closed and the handle swelled tight. That was over 25 years ago and it is still tight.

Because of shrink cracking lignum vitae mallets are soaked with oil and then dipped in wax. THEN they are sealed in plastic bags. . . I should go check on mine. . .

The problem for most of us is that when we go to use the hammer NOW and it is loose and you NEED it NOW the quickest thing to do is soak the hammer in the slack tub for a minute or so. . . The reason this IS NOT recommended is that the wetter than normal wood swells more than it was when the handle was made and this crushes the wood. Afterwards the fit will never be right. Thus, a lot of smiths end up with hammers soaking constantly in the slack tub. . .
   - guru - Monday, 01/13/03 18:19:33 GMT

Tumbler Media?
I have been thinking about building a tumbler to clean up my work after forging. I know that iron plugs and other dry objects apparently work well but they are very noisy. I have heard that wet tumbling is much quieter and also just as effecient. My questions is: what type of wet media would work best? Should I be concerned with rusting? Is there some antirust agent that I can add to the media to prevent rusting? How long should I expect to tumble one batch before it's done?
   Louis - Monday, 01/13/03 18:38:39 GMT

Shrinking Flange: Ray, I cannot think of anything to correct the problem. It sounds like the part got stretched from differential thermal expansion of the plug and the part. Once stretched metal is difficult to put back. This requires what is known as "upsetting" of making thicker. This takes considerably more force than thinning out .

   - guru - Monday, 01/13/03 18:48:59 GMT

Tony-C, I couldn't figure the edge bend from the i-forge, at first. I suppose it's the one for the center of the T-weld. As was said before, a bright heat, and straighten the buckling on the anvil face. Try the horn first.

Paw paw. The aluminum spanner wrench is an unknown, so a guy is just going to have to experiment. If it's extruded and capable of being forged, that's one thing. If it's cast, that's another. I'd probably make a new wrench out of steel. Har de har har.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 01/13/03 20:21:15 GMT

Re-Hardening Large Anvils: Wayne, I have found that many large anvils are soft, probably because they could not be quenched well enough OR that they self tempered from core heat. Since the anvil manufacturers had a much better chance of doing it right than anyone else I do not give much hope in doing better than the pros. .

Flame hardening MIGHT do the job. The normal process is to heat the surface in a narrow band with a gang torch or special fan torch head and then water quench as the torch moves across the surface. This requires a power driven torch, LOTS of fuel and LOTS of water. The part is not normally tempered afterwards. On large masses the quench is sometimes not necessary as the steel is enough to self quench. But I would not count on it. Flame hardening is usualy used on medium carbon steels for parts like gears that need a hard surface wear resistant surface and tough core. Although it was once a common process none of my current heat treating references go into detail.

Since most anvils were made well before there were material testing methods and scientific methods of quality control the steel's used varied and are largely unknown. The literature of the time simply calls it "best crucible steel". I suspect that the anvils made in the early 1900's had a better spec but as manufacturers do today they would not advertise the exact source/type unless it was advantageous to do so. Generaly material specs are considered proprietary by manufacturers and in some cases a "trade secret".

I would guess it was somewhere near a 75 point carbon steel. But that is just a wild guess.

Fussy? No. . . It is nice to have an anvil that does not mark easily. A 250 should be pretty hard. Most of the anvils I have seen that were a little soft due to size were well over 300 pounds But, to gamble on re-hardening. . I would think long and hard on it.
   - guru - Monday, 01/13/03 20:31:03 GMT

I'm building my first forge and I want to build it 3 or 4" deep, does this sound good? Also I've got a blower from Kayne and Sons and I was wondering which would be better,a ceiling fan dimmer switch or a ckoke over the intake to control the air? thanks smitty
   smitty - Monday, 01/13/03 20:45:25 GMT


I use WD-40 in my tumbler with triangular stone media (5/16") from McMaster-Carr. Low noise, fast cutting and no rust.

Also: If you want a rougher sandblast type finish, throw some blast media/sand in the mix as well -- it's easier than standing in front of the blast cabinet for small parts!
   Zero - Monday, 01/13/03 20:48:17 GMT

Tumbler Media: Louis, Steel punch biscuits and chopped railroal rail are used as a media for cleaning castings and flash removal. It is pretty aggresive. For descaling parts you can purchase tumbling media that is made similar to vitrified grinding wheels. It is a ceramic abrasive media in pieces that vary in shape from little pyramids to cylinders. Cylinders with the ends cut at angles are common. There are various suppliers but the easiest is McMaster-Carr.

Tumbler drums should be lined with rubber and a wetting agent is used. It is often water, glycerine or glycerine and water.
   - guru - Monday, 01/13/03 21:00:43 GMT

I am new to blacksmithing, have read books, watched videos, and am taking a class. I am building a coal forge (tuyere and fan ordered commercially) welding it from steel and am curious about what height to make the floor of the forge. It seems like the Centaur model C forge is 28" (31" including a 3 inch lip) and that seems low to me, I would think about 32 to 33" would be good (I am 5'8") curious to hear what others think on this subject...thanks.
   Ellen - Monday, 01/13/03 21:06:30 GMT

Zero. . another good use for WD-40. What is the diameter and RPM of your tumbler?

Building Forge: Smitty, Depending on which blower you got from Kaynes a cieling fan dimmer may not be heavy enough. The blower motor will last longer running at line voltage using a gate valve to control the air.

For a coal forge the fire pot is normally about 4" deeper than the surrounding forge pan. This is a common design that most people are happy with.

However, you CAN build a forge on a flat surface. This requires a deep mound of coal. A short guard or "fence" on the edge of a flat forge helps keep the coal from ending up on the floor.

There are various grate and clinker breaker designs for forges but I like a simple hole, either open or with a couple bars to help keep too much coal from falling through. A friend uses a "U" shaped piece made from 5/8" square stainless. It has about 3/4" space between the bars. The ends are bent up to match the slope of the fire pot. This creates three slot openings for the air and is simple and easy to make and maintain. The bar grate has to be replaced about once a year.

IF I were building a forge I would use the plumbing diagram for the brake drum forge with 2" pipe and couple this to a steel fire pot and pan. Normally the pan has an edge about 4" deep with work notches about 2" deep so work can be put deep in the fire. Steel forges have been built from 3/8" plate down to hot-water heater tanks.
   - guru - Monday, 01/13/03 21:24:17 GMT

Frank In reguards to your reply about the spaner wrench where you said you would make a new one out of steel. I hate to correct a master but you forgot to say "Because you are a BLACKSMITH!!!" Har de har har. With deepest reguards your student William
   triw - Monday, 01/13/03 22:12:59 GMT


Might want to prepare for some extra homework! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/13/03 22:28:41 GMT

Wendy...that's a neat blower set up. I used a similar rig on my blower. I bought a Caneady-Otto blower with a fried electric motor, then came across an antique hand-crank bench grinder at a flea mkt. ($10) The "propellor shaft" matched up perfectly, 1/2 inch shaft I think, so it was just a matter of bolting the hand crank assembly to the blower housing and attaching the fan blade to the shaft. I don't know what the gear ratio is...probably a little under-powered, but definitely functional and afforable for this beginner. C.W.
   Chris - Monday, 01/13/03 22:49:51 GMT

intake chokes work poorly IMO. make a gate valve or a butterfly valve. Parts dont have to fit tight just enough to choke the airflow.

Wendy - very cool forge & blower pix
   adam - Monday, 01/13/03 22:59:56 GMT


I have several rotary tumblers, ranging from three gallons down to a quart. I'd never clocked the RPM's, so to answer your question I grabbed the stopwatch and a chunk of soapstone... They're all right around 30 RPM (+or- a few).

BTW... For the beginners out there: To get the WD-40 into the tumbler, don't just stand there with your finger on the spray nozzle (it takes too long). Instead, place the can in the tumbler, and shoot it with your pellet gun (much faster....).

Or... Buy WD-40 in liquid (bad joke, I know).

   Zero - Monday, 01/13/03 23:06:47 GMT

For cleaning small forgings, a lotta guys around here use small punchings and such. If you put a good sucker on the tumbler things come out pretty good even tumbling dry.
   - grant - Tuesday, 01/14/03 00:02:46 GMT

Ellen, Lots of old, manufactured forges were about 28". I'm about 5' 8½", and my forge hearth is about the same height as my anvil. When I stand naturally, my large knuckles are about 29½" from the floor. That gives me an anvil height and a hearth height that I like. There will no doubt be other opinions on this.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 01/14/03 00:18:01 GMT

Interesting, Frank.

I think it also accounts for power hammers having the bottom die at about that height. Especially with larger work held in a jib crane, they didn't want to be hoisting the work up and down going from forge to hammer to anvil. For small work I like a power hammer up at nearly 40 inches (I'm 5 foot 12).
   - grant - Tuesday, 01/14/03 01:03:46 GMT

Thanks a bunch for the info on the books. That's a huge help.

Another question...In Alex Bealer's "Art of Blacksmithing" I came across something called 'faggot welding'. What it looks like in the diagrams and pictures is simply getting the metal to welding heat, then bending it back onto itself and hammering it together. At least, that's my impression of it. He went into more detail about other types of welding, but this one he sort of just glanced over. Am I correct, or is faggot welding something different? Can it be done without a flux? Bealer also mentioned something about some types of welding that can be done without a flux depending on the metals used. Is that possible, to bend a bar back onto itself if the whole thing (or at least the sections being welded) are at welding temperature?

Thanks for putting up with my amateur questions! I really appreciate it.

   Joshua Paddock - Tuesday, 01/14/03 01:12:48 GMT


A faggot weld is probably the simplest forge weld of all. Basically, it's as you described it, folding the stock back and welding it to itse'f. Many fireplace pokers are done in this way. The weld is also useful when you need more mass at the end of a bar to make something, (a spoon for example) and don't want to go to the time and trouble of upsetting the bar that much.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/14/03 01:36:50 GMT

Polyethylene Glycol /// an extra note.
A polyethylene glycol (PEG)in water solution is not a surface coating, and is not used as such.
The solution would soak into the wood, causing it to swell and the water component would evaporate, in time, leaving the PEG lodging in the swelled wood.
When PEG was used in the restoration of the Mary Rose and the Royal Swedish warship Vasa, (which sank on its maiden "voyage".), the chemical was used to displace centuries of water and salt penetration in the wood. TUntreated wood would rapidly, and visibly, disintegrate when it was exposed to air.
The raised ships where housed in tanks filled with a with PEG-water solution. The bath's PEG concentration was very slowly increased. The PEG solution displaced the water and salts in the wood, and the PEG filled the pores within the wood cells and also in the spaces between the wood cells. PEG is a wax-like solid when dry.
The PEG gave the wood physical integrity.
Eventually the wood was removed from the tanks, but was still sprayed, in an environmentally controlled laboratory (converted warehouse really) for months before the restoration was complete and the ships could be exhibited out in the air in their respective museums.
I do not see why a PEG solution couldn't swell the wood handle and the PEG remain in the swelled wood, (maintaining the handle's, new, swelled dimension) after the water evaporated.
Apologies are in order for not being clear in the previous post.
Regards to all,
   slag - Tuesday, 01/14/03 01:39:21 GMT

Question. My brother-in-law just picked up a hand crank blower, and it turns just a bit stiff. It is quiet, but should turn a bit more freely. Short of taking it apart, is there something we can flush it with, like liquid WD-40 or something to clean the gunk out of it? We had tried some tranny fluid for lube, but that only helped a little. So I'm thinking it needs a good cleaning, and if there is a way to do it without complete disasembly, I'd like to know. Thanks
   Bob Harasim - Tuesday, 01/14/03 02:00:34 GMT

I found the blurb about the homemade forge and blower on the Unplugged Bladesmiths section at this discussion group: http://pub88.ezboard.com/btheneotribalmetalsmiths
Low tech and fun.
Thanks for the stainless input.
   Wendy - Tuesday, 01/14/03 02:03:04 GMT

Drat, my first post is floating around in the stratosphere somewhere.


I finished and tested my second "prototype" forge over the weekend. I placed pictures on the Yahoo fotos site under my name.

The forge is made entirly out of scrap materials(cheaky). The 4" dia. aluminum duct was purcahsed for a few dollars(it won't last). It took around 80 hours of fabricating time to make and NO I don't know what took so long. The fan is from a dryer, fan pullys(except for the ideler, which is on the wrong way) are also from the dryer, handle is from a grinder, brace/bearing are from an abrasive grinder, stand is from an old 1910's grinder table(I removed the motor and grinder assembly from the table earlier), hood is from sheet metal(who can figure out what the green sheet used to be?).

The fire pot is 10"x10"x5" made form sheet metal it will be coated in furnace cement later, directly under the fire pot is a nozzle from an oil burner(house heater) there are fins that induce a vortex spiral action just before the fire pot. The crank to fan wheel ratio is 1:32, this produces a great control and can REALY push some air. I will be doing calculations later to dertermine exactly how much at what pressure. I didn't install the spiral grate that I made yet, I will take a picture and add it to yahoo when I do.

I fired it first with wood pellets, then I used solid wood. The wood pellets(compressed sawdust, 8000 btu per pound) didn't break up as much as I suspected, but I couldn't get a good coal bed with them(mabey impatience), I was realy testing them for use in a solid fuel boiler which they will work great in! They are a very clean fuel. I will be testing bituminous coal later and may need to install a choke in the intake or exhaust from fan to make more pressure with less flow. We got an 8" section of 1/4" by 2" iron hot pretty easily.

I am going to start working on a charcoal maker tonight, I will let you all know how that goes. There will be many modifications to come on the forge, installation of the heat exchanger(I need to know how it works without it before I install it), bicycle wheels and handles to move it easier, extended chimney with baffle and some louvers to enhance flow and so much more!

The fan from the dryer is working out GREAT, the only problem is that the blades are made from plastic. So I placed the bottem of a cut-off-barrel in between the fan and hood so it wouldn't melt from the radiant heat. I think that dryers are a substantial resource of blower asembly's. One would not need to use the pully's if one utilized the motor that is in the dryer and hooked it up direct to the fan.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 01/14/03 02:31:51 GMT

Joshua, Fagot [or faggot] means "a bundle". Two or more pieces can be put together, and no scarfs are needed. Whether or not you flux, you ordinarily weld from the one end toward the other to squeeze the soup out. If the metal is laid back on itself, you hammer weld from the closed to the open end. It's not a common weld anymore. I've made tools like wood chisels by fagot welding the bit of high carbon steel to the wrought iron or mild steel body. In the early days, it was used to gain mass. For example, I saw a sledge hammer head recovered from a old Spanish shipwreck, and you could see that it was fagot welded from three pieces of wrought iron. The guys who do pattern welded blades know quite a bit about fagot welding.

Bob Harasim, Some blowers crank with difficulty forever. There is a 20th century Buffalo blower in a pressed steel case that is just a booger-bear to use. The one I owned had the case painted a garish yellow. Conversely, the earlier Buffalo 200 or sometimes called Buffalo Silent was one of the best hand cranked blowers I have used.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 01/14/03 03:42:30 GMT

I'm a Master's student (MA Experimental Archaeology) at Exeter University (England) and I'm gathering information for my Dissertation proposal. I intend to study how different fuels behave in the forge. I want to look at charcoals (from different woods), coals, cokes and any other fuel that could have been used in the past. Would anybody know where i could look for this sort of information before my experiments start in the summer?

many thanks.
   Dave Budd - Tuesday, 01/14/03 12:24:18 GMT

Does anyone know the Date, time and location of the next WRABA meeting? Their website does not have it listed.
   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 01/14/03 13:14:27 GMT

Controlling Air Efficiently

From an electric motor-driven fan - Restricting the air flow is generally the best route. At low flows, an air blower will consume less energy, AND less electricity will be used to power the motor. Amperage goes down as horsepower requirements go down. Most dimmer switches dump extra electricity through a resister which uses about the same electricity as if the full fan speed were being used.
   Andy Martin - Tuesday, 01/14/03 13:58:58 GMT

Dave Budd, Smithing fuels could turn into a big subject. I can suggest a few sources with reference to charcoal. The colliers' work for making charcoal is discussed in American Iron 1607-1900 by Robert B. Gordon. A good description of woods used in Missouri for the Maramec Iron Furnace may be found in Frontier Iron by James D. Norris. There is a diagram of a charcoal pit. In Japan, the smiths are very particular about their charcoal quality and size. The smiths use pine charchol. We were told by Yataiki, a sawsmith, that they use the Japanese red pine. The apprentices spend large amounts of time breaking up the charcoal into specific sizes. See The Craft of the Japanese Sword by Leon and Hiroko Kapp / Yoshindo Yoshihara. The Dogon ironmasters and blacksmiths of Mali carried out an iron furnace firing in 1995, which was videoed and is for sale. "Inagina: The Last House of Iron" is the title. The Dogon used a species of tree called "prosopis africana", a hard wood tree. Dead wood only was used. The film catalog site is http://www.der.org. Perhaps others will comment on the technical material regarding mined coal. You may already know that it should be a relatively clean, soft coal that is a coking grade.

To really understand the behavior of the different fuels, you will probably need to "get in the fire". Physically, do it.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 01/14/03 14:12:12 GMT

light dimmer: I though light dimmers used a triac (a switching semiconductor device) to regulate the current and that the resistor in the circuit was just to control the firing point of the triac not to dump power.
   adam - Tuesday, 01/14/03 15:28:39 GMT

Dave Bud & All, I forgot to mention "Materials Handbook". My book is the 11th edition, 1977, but I believe a "new version" is out, the 14th edition. The surnames of the authors of the latest edition: Brady, Clauser, & Vaccari.
This amazing book is encyclopedic; it lists alphabetically beau coups animal, vegetable, and mineral materials. It contains a brief section on charcoal, and lists numerous trees found throughout the world.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 01/14/03 15:45:02 GMT

Dave Bud; may I commend to your attention "The Mastery and Uses of Fire in Antiquity" by J.E.Rehder, lots of info on "biomass fueled furnaces"

Note one thing on how they react in the forge is that each type of fuel may take a different type of forge to get the most from it. I can burn charcoal in my coal forge; but it's not as good as when I use it in a forge designed for charcoal.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 01/14/03 17:03:11 GMT

Dave Budd, two excellent sources for the technical aspects of charcoal, coal, wood along with other solid fuels and their processes are: "Kent's Mechanical Engineers Handbook, Power Volume"(there is a design and production volume also), by, J. Kenneth Salisbury, I have the twelfth edition 1950. Also "Combustion Engineering" a reference book on fuel burning and steam generation, by Otto de Lorenzi, M.E. 1957, First edition, eleventh impression, second printing. These books are great for acquiring a finite intelectual understanding of various fuels, including the production and use of charcoal.

Another great book for the history of coal is "Story of a Piece of Coal" from the Library of Valuable Knowledge, by Edward A. Martin, F.G.S. copyright 1896. This book gives one an understanding of the history of coal and it's various processes.

Even though these books will give one an intelectual understanding of solid fuels, nothing beats the physical production and use of said fuels.

These particular books may be difficult to find, but basically any technical book that deals with boilers and furnaces, yet is before the nuclear age will go into great detail of various solid fuels, their uses and processes. Although there are diferences from a furnace to a forge, they both are designed and used to acquire heat from an energy source and put it into their particular product or aparatus(water, steam, air or iron).
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 01/14/03 17:12:17 GMT

Anvil I.D. please.
I bought a 150# anvil at an auction here in southwestern Ontario. It is cast and has nice ring and bounce to it. I'm wondering about the make of it. On the front side it has two 1/2" plates rivetted to it. The top has C0487TFS- on it and the plate below has 8602105 A on it. there are no other marks accept a pattern every 2" or so of 1/2" dia slightly raise marks from the casting prossess or so they look. Any ideas on make or history. It has a Hardy and Pritchel and no step at the transition to the horn. This is my first anvil and already I am fasinated with the things,
   Howard - Tuesday, 01/14/03 18:21:39 GMT

Forge Height: Ellen, As Frank noted about anvil height is good. However, for small work I have used forges that were higher and forges that were lower. Many gas forges get set on top of benches and tables thus are higher than anvil or bench. But for general efficiency anvil (or hammer die) height is right. You do not want to be doing a lot of extra lifting. But in the end this is not one of the more critical things in a shop. The location of the forge is more critical. You want it to be convienient to anvil, vise and power hammer. I know several smiths that have their gas forges on carts so they can reposition them for the job at hand.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/14/03 18:23:27 GMT

Forge Fuels Study: David, As mentioned not only do fuels vary but the burning conditions. In almost all forge situations the compactness of the fuel or the enclosure create conditions where the operating pressures are greater than atmospheric. Very small increases in pressure increase the density of the air combining with the fuel and thus the condition of the fire.

In gas forges most manufacturers only rate their product at the temperature of the fuel burning in free air. But the conditions in the forge are such that considerably higher temperatures are achieved. The typical gas forge is enclosed enough to increase the internal pressure slightly. Then you have the effect of the significant radiant heat on the fuel before it burns completely.

In deep solid fuel fires the air is both compressed and heated before it combines with the fuel. The deeper the fire the more the air is preheated and the hotter the fire.

The fellows with the Rockbridge Bloomery (see our links page) have found that the sizing of the fuel in their furnace is critical in both the reducing of the ore but also in fuel efficiency. Charcoal that is in unsorted lumps is not as efficient as charcoal that is screened to one specific size. I suspect there is an optimum lump size for every size furnace and that it is possibly a simple proportion. But then, it may not.

Lots of variables. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/14/03 18:38:45 GMT

ID of anvil with tags: Howard, This may be difficult. Old anvils did not have such tags. Markings were stamped into the anvil or part of cast anvils. So what you have is probably a recent import. It is likely to be from Eastern Europe as there are numerous importers of cast steel anvils from Czechoslovakia, Poland and Russia.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/14/03 18:47:15 GMT

I am relatively new to blacksmithing, and would like to try to do some damascus welding(pattern welding). I have read that you need to use flourospar as a flux, and was wondering where a good place to find it would be. I use a coal forge. Any additional tips on this process would be greatly appreciated. thanks
   slaveoffate - Tuesday, 01/14/03 18:47:36 GMT

Thanks Frank & Guru: I am planning on small work and was thinking a tad higher would make it easier to watch the fire, some farriers I know who use gas forges in the back of their pickups have them at 4 feet or so...was also thinking if I make it a bit on the high side and don't like it down the road it wouldn't be difficult to cut the legs (angle iron) off 3 or 4 inches......
   Ellen - Tuesday, 01/14/03 18:54:51 GMT


It's a lot easier to cut some off than to add some on.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/14/03 19:54:15 GMT

Thanks everyone for your help, I really appreicate it.
   smitty - Tuesday, 01/14/03 19:55:32 GMT

flourspar and other evil chemicals can be found at one of the online ceramic/pottery supply houses. I was told one whiff of hot flourspar would lay me low which hasnt happened. I was also told that it would allow me to forgeweld H13 which hasnt happened either
   adam - Tuesday, 01/14/03 20:10:05 GMT

Forge Height:

Since the Baby Balrog is for small stuff, I have it mounted a tad below head level (I'll have to measure it). It's sitting on the bottom of an upended 20 gal. drum, which is atop of the wooden table with metal tool rack that I made to size. This makes it easy to break down for transport, or cut-down for Boy Scouts when they come. Works very nicely for all of the small projects that I need to keep an eye on, and I have a swing-away stock holder for the longer pieces. It can heat up to 1" bar to a good yellow, so I can't argue with performance. It's especially useful during this colder weather (still needs good ventillation, but doesn't need the exhaust fan at the window, like the coal forge).

Certainly not getting rid of the coal forge, though.

Cold day on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~ewoyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 01/14/03 20:18:31 GMT


calcium fluoride, fluorspar, acid spar

fluorspar is something to treat with great respect.
fluorspar was used to make hydrofluoric acid.
hydrofluoric acid is one of the strongest acid known and
highly corrosive.
at welding temperatures the fluorine is going to out gas.
fluorine is the reactive element known.
anyone working around fluorspar should wear a chemical
filter respirator.

Boiling Point: 2500C (4532F)
Melting Point: 1403C (2557F)

Special Information:
In the event of a fire, wear full protective clothing and
NIOSH-approved self-contained breathing apparatus with
full facepiece operated in the pressure demand or other
positive pressure mode. If in contact with strong acids or
steam under fire conditions, calcium fluoride may yield
highly irritating fumes of hydrogen fluoride.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Wednesday, 01/15/03 04:02:24 GMT

No. . We were not offline. . A major East Coast Internet hub was down and so many folks couldn't get to us.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/15/03 04:13:09 GMT

Flourspar: Yes, It can be nasty stuff. Many welding rods, especially those for stainless, contain flourspar. It is a primary flux used for steel making and for making ceramic glazes. Only top grade flourspar is used for flux. Small amounts (5 to 10%) are added to borax for doing laminated steels where there are chrome and nickle alloys.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/15/03 04:17:01 GMT

I would like to know where the foundries for bronze work are around Ft. Myers.
   Gary Bridges - Wednesday, 01/15/03 13:34:25 GMT

Size of fuel. Rehder in his book discusses that the reduction zone is a multiple of the average diameter of the fuel away from the source of air so the smaller the fuel the sooner the bloomery goes reducing. OF course the back pressure goes up to.

Bloomeries are fun in that you can't scale them down all the way. After a point the side wall losses are higher than the heat input for that size of throat can overcome and you lose your reduction.

Fluorspar---when we did the Buckeye Steel Casting Co plant tour they added fluorspar to the melt as a flux. I asked and was able to take a sample---not high grade they were using feldspar rock as mined!

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 01/15/03 13:39:22 GMT

"No. . We were not offline. . A major East Coast Internet hub was down and so many folks couldn't get to us."
- guru - Wednesday, 01/15/03 04:13:09 GMT

Oh, thank goodness! I thought it was something I'd said! ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 01/15/03 13:47:40 GMT

Light dimmer:
Adam's correct. Light dimmers vary power by controlling a triac. But for blower control, you're probably better off with a ceiling fan control. They can handle the higher inductive loads of blowers.

Forge Height:
I've got my forge on top of a rolling tool cabinet. You can see it at http://www.ironringforge.com/ForgeSaga/Forge_Building_2.html
I've since had a 100gal propane tank installed, so the BBQ tank is actually on the BBQ, now. I've also got a swing-out holder that I'm going to modify slightly to adjust the height.

There's also a pic on there showing the blower arrangement. What I'm finding is that I get best control from a choke (that's hard to see) which is just a small damper in the elbow at the top of the burner.
   - Marc - Wednesday, 01/15/03 13:51:52 GMT


feldspar and fluorspar are two very different minerals.


terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Wednesday, 01/15/03 14:02:08 GMT

Guru,I am building an art nouveau glass awning which will have some scrolls in mild steel (zinc plated then painted) and some scrolls later attached which are copper. I was going to attach with copper rivets. Do you think there is a problem here with bi-metalic corrosion. I reference your FAQ page: "Beware of bimetalic corrosion from attaching items made of these alloys to each other or to other metals. Be especially careful not to use fasteners of dissimilar metals." - guru - Saturday, 05/12/01 17:08:14 GMT

   Tim Cisneros - Wednesday, 01/15/03 14:11:45 GMT

Feldspar and Fluorspar: Yep, big difference. Flourspar is the one used for fluxing when an agressive flux is needed. Flux grade flourite (flourspar) is 98% CaF2. Much of the high grade flourspar is imported from Italy.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/15/03 15:24:34 GMT

Flourspar, is flourspar also known as silicaflour?
I was told it made a good flux and was easily availible at most potters, however when I asked my local potter if she had any she said yes, but told me it was fairly dangerous to use without a resperator because it settled in the lungs and wouldn't work it's way out.
   JimG - Wednesday, 01/15/03 16:07:57 GMT

Bi-Metalic Corrosion: Tim, Everyone wants to ignore bi-metalic corrosion but it is a physical fact of nature.

As with all rust and corrosion the local atmospheric conditions have a great deal to do how severe it is. But even in relatively dry climates metal objects tend to condense water out of the air due to the metal being slower to change temperature than the surronding air. In the dryest most stable conditions such as pyramid burrial chambers in desert locations iron objects have turned to dust.

Aluminium to steel is one of the worst combinations followed closely by copper and steel. If you want to make an electric cell you can use copper, iron and an electrolyte consisting of any acid including weak carbonic acid (pure rain water). Acid rain from poluted air is much worse as it often contains sulfur compounds.

In an electric cell one metal is disolved and trys to plate the other. But as the process is not perfect the disolved metal ions often come out of solution OR oxidize before they get to the other part thus resulting in dusty crumbly corrosion products (rust, the blue green copper sulphate on battery terminals, copper carbonate on bronze sculpture).

SEE Galvanic Series

The zinc galvanizing will help prevent rust but makes the problem with the copper worse. The electromotive potential between zinc and iron is only 0.32 the zinc going to the iron to protect it. But the difference between copper and iron is 0.78 the iron going to the copper and between zinc and copper 1.01 the zinc going to the copper. In a mixed system it is complicated but the normally the stronger potential is going to dominate. Both the zinc and iron ions are going to be attracted to the copper.

There is also some reverse exchange going on but I am not clear on all the reactions.

So you have galvanized the iron. Are you drilling holes for the rivets? Bare steel in the holes?

I usualy recommend monel rivets in these situations because the copper/nickle alloy is corrosion resistant and the nickle lowers the electromotive potential of the alloy (I think - no alloys are listed in the charts). The nickle is close to iron in potential.

The result of bi-metalic corrosion is very severe local corrosion and possible failures around fasteners.

A lot of modern artists build bimetalic structures. I have done so myself. But I do not recommend it in exterior applications. In Europe it is common to see gilding used on ironwork. But the iron is painted first and the gold leaf applied over the paint. Iron and gold is one of the WORST combinations for bi-metalic corrosion but in this case the iron is sealed and isolated from the gold. For other colors or less brilliance the gold is occasionaly lacquered.

Properly maintained in a non-salt atmosphere your awning will probably out-last you. But coming generations will deffinitly have trouble and will be cursing the smith that mixed metals in an outdoor piece. On the other hand, most materials of construction used on modern North American homes have a warrented life of 25 years or less. When all the siding, window trim, roof, HVAC and plumbing fails at the same time then the structure is pretty much shot. . (so much for investing in a home). But if your client is building with stone, brick, slate or tile, copper gutters and plumbing. . They are building for generations.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/15/03 16:45:02 GMT

anyone try the smithin' COKE from one of the AF sponsers???
   - rugg - Wednesday, 01/15/03 17:13:09 GMT

This was what I had tried to post yesterday, fortunatly I had the sense to throw it onto the notepad. I was wondering what had happened.

Furnaces VS Forges and Underfed VS Overfed

Dave, I believe the greatest variable in a solid fuel firing device is the method in which the fuel is fed into the fire. In a furnace, like the one I will be making for my boiler(eventually) the fuel is usualy underfed(pushed into the fire from the below, assuming an updraft furnace). They incorperate various types and numbers of stokers. This underfed method is very usefull in obtaining the maximum amount of heat from the fuel, while supplying around 15% to 20% excess air, because in a fuel where the volitile gases are left in(raw coal, raw wood or such), the gases are baked out of the fuel under the fire on traveling retorts and have to pass through the fire to exit the furnace. Thus increasing the fires intensity and natuarly produces a cleaner burn. These furnaces also incorperate air pre-heaters(like the one I will be installing in my forge) that take the unspent heat from the exhaust and heat the intake air(they are also used to cool the hollow walls of the furnace, they also "bleed" off some of the intake air from the main air line or use a seperate supply and feed it into the furnace above the fire to facilitate the complete burn of the fire's exhaust. Since the raw fuel is placed under the fire the unburnt gases are lessened and the amount of secondary air required is lessened. These furnaces also incorperate various archs into the inside of the furnace, to act as igniters and deflectors for the unburnt gases in overfed systems and overfed. The amount and pressure of air required for the fire is dictated by the type of fuel, it's moisture content and the fire depth along with it's feed rate, along with many other considerations, one of which is the moisture content, begining pressure and temperature of the intake air. These systems are designed with the goal of acquiring the maximum energy out of the fuel they are using and directing this energy into whatever aparatus they are conected with, ranging from a home heating system(smaller scale, usualy overfed by hand), boiler to a foundry.

The blacksmith's forge on the other head(hey a new blacksmith phrase, "On the other head(as in hammer)!", is designed to put as much CLEAN energy into the iron(work) as possible, while consuming as little fuel as possible, the total energy extracted from the fuel is neglected. The blacksmiths fire is overfed(by hand, er shovel). The gases are burnt off in what I like to call "The Ring of Progressivly Consumable Antiquity"(pretty neet huh, sure makes fire sound dull, grin, this phrase works best with coal which is very old). The reason that we "throw" the coal around the fire is so that the gases are burned off by the time the coal(now coke) reaches the fire. We wan't as clean of a fire as possible, so that we can make forge weld's easier and such. In most blacksmith forges there is no heat exchanger or secondary air feed, since the main goal is not total heat acquired from the fuel, just an intense and clean concentration of it. There are three main stages to this "Ring of Progressivly Consumable Antiquity" the first is the raw coal or wood, second the partialy coked or charcoaled, then the third fully coked or charcoaled fuel. The third stage is the fuel that we actually utalize to heat the iron. Thus on average the actual fire size is three times the size of the usable fire, more so with wood because of it's rapid consumption rate. Most of us sprinkle some water around the two outer rings to control the growth rate of the fire.

Thus, if we blacksmiths tried to use an underfed system with raw fuel we would have great dificulty in obtaining a good weld and would have a substantialy hotter fire in our face since the top of the fire would be a pile of VERY hot coke.

Well, I hope I havn't bored anyone TOO much(what are you doing with that noose? grin).

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Wednesday, 01/15/03 18:45:52 GMT

Thomas, When side wall losses become too high you need to change to modern high efficiency refractories. Although kaowool will not hold up to fluxing and the mechanical forces it can be used to insulate a thin hard refractory liner. The thermal efficenecy goes WAY up. In comercial furnaces that are lined with brick the inner lining is hard brick and then the outer is light weight insulating brick. In large furnaces there may be 4 or 5 types of refractory brick used. . .

Silica Flour No, Flourspar is NOT the same. In flourite and flourspar the "flour" is for flourine (the elemental gas). In silica flour the "flour" means fine milled powder (like cooking flour or wheat flour).

Most industry has stopped using powdered silicates as much as possible. Foundry sand tends to break down and become a source of silica dust and result in silicosis. However the main source was silica flour used as a parting agent in sand casting. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/15/03 18:58:14 GMT

I have some questions concearning the creation of weapons and armour in medieval times that I was hoping someone could answer. How long it would take to make each of these items in medieval times. (on the average)
Chain Mail Shirt
Chain Mail Suit
Banded or scale type of armour (torso only)
Breast Plate (torso only)
Full Suit of Plate Mail Armour
Simple small helm
Larger detailed helm
Small round metal shield
Large Kite Shield
arrow head
short sword
long sword
battle axe
   - Dan - Wednesday, 01/15/03 19:50:26 GMT

You might post this over at the Armour Archive, where they specialize in this sort of thing ( http://www.armourarchive.org/ ).

In the 20th and 21st century, using modern materials but medieval techniques, I've done the following work (this is just the work where I keep track of time):

Mid thigh chainmail byrnie: 130 man hours (or three months working part-time on a commuter bus) Expect riveted mail to take 5 to 10 times longer.

Simple small helm: 40 man hours, but I could probably do the next one quicker. (See Anvilfire armoury page for more information.)

Arrow head: I've seen them done in 5 minutes, maybe less, by Badger.

Spearhead: Takes me about two hours, plus another hour for finish and a half hour to mount on an exisitng shaft.

Throwing axe/tomahawk: Takes me about four hours, but I've seen it done in less than two.

Shield bosses: Viking takes me about two hours, carinated Anglo-Saxon take maybe six and mine still look lopsided. This is starting out with heavy guage sheet steel; they may have started out with billets.

Flail: Threshing (two sticks) takes about 45 minutes, studded wooden ball (used in Renaissance) 2 hours, cast metal ball would take several days for a one-off until you can get the casting works in progress.

Mace: Simple-hours, complex- days.

Of course you also have to realize that the medieval concept of time was a touch more flexible than ours. Things were measured in days, clocks were uncommon, and mostly used by churchmen, and people worked according to the sun and the season.

Good luck.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 01/15/03 20:52:30 GMT

"Mid thigh chainmail byrnie: 130 man hours (or three months working part-time on a commuter bus) Expect riveted mail to take 5 to 10 times longer"

I've seen some wierd people on public transportation. But never a Viking armourer.
   adam - Wednesday, 01/15/03 21:32:28 GMT

Ahhh coal aint that old for smithing, dating back to the high middle ages only in europe. ("Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel" Geis&Geis)

Time: how big a shop, water power? apprentices/journeymen?

Note some of these items---like swords were *not* generally made by 1 shop: the swordsmith did the forging then he might hand it off to a grinder/polisher and he to a hilter and then to a scabbard maker, etc. "how long" gets a bit nebulous under those conditions.

BTW "plate armour" is getting close to the Renaissance with full maille worn in 1300 and full plate in 1400 A.D.

This sounds like one of the common questions for either homework or gaming and it's really quite complex---do you count in the time of the charcoal burner? Do you have access to a batter mill? Does the local wrought iron carburize well?

(BTW do you have evidence of "small round metal shields" in medieval times? Sounds like a renaissance buckler...

   - Thomas Powersa - Wednesday, 01/15/03 21:50:02 GMT

my studies on medieval (and even roman) maille production have turned up that it wasnt (normally) just one shop making a suit or shirt of maille, the romans employed entire villages to make maille "byrnies" for the legions if you can imagine an assembly line of sorts..this group drawing wire one group winding the wire into coils one group cutting the coils (if they were making riveted there would be a couple more steps involved here but for the most part from the documentation i have come accrossed most for the legionairs was butted for cost and speed) and another group assembling the sheets and sheets of armor, and yet another group turning these sheets into shirts, aventails, etc..

some maille even used half "punched" rings or washers cutting down assembly time and adding prep time...

for the most part surviving maille has been mostly riveted (not from roman times per say) but this could be due to only the wealthy and royal being able to afford to have it made for them, and since they were able to afford them, keep them in good condition,

your average foot soldier was usually furnished with run of the mill semi close fitting shirts and such becasue of the ease of mass production,

this is what i have gathered
i can throw together a combat grade galvanized steel shirt in about 25-40 hours depending on how much time i get to spend in a sitting working on it,

hope this helps
   Mike Kruzan - Wednesday, 01/15/03 22:45:16 GMT

Thomas, The substantial age of the coal to which I eluded was it's origin. Which were gargantuan forests, these were VERY old. Compared to the charcoal which was actualy utilized much earlier, although in specific regions, there has been speculation to a much earlier use of coal from exposed seams. I would assume the age of charcoal to be around 20 years and that of coal to be in the 100,000's to 1,000,000's and up range. The common belief is that each coal seam is the remains of an individual forest. If that is not antiquity than I don't know what is! Although, the origin of the substance that makes up everything that has ever been in existance has the greatest of ages. Thus one could put the age of all things into one group. Ones view of this subject is influenced greatly by ones belief in how our world and us came into existance.

The internet has a natural ability to un-naturaly subdue and/or intensify the meaning and detail of the various post's and messages. I have a firm belief that when one is in direct contact with another than there are a multitude of forces that directly and indirectly give forth the attitude and meaning of ones words and opinion. This is one of the reasons that a majority of my posts are of substantial length and to a lesser extent, detail. For this I have no regret and never shall. For I believe it to be a nescessity to put forth as much ability as one can in every situation one involves oneself into.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Wednesday, 01/15/03 22:54:07 GMT

Hi I'm gilberto I am doing a report for school tomarrow and I wanted to know,what is a forge and what does a blacksmith does with it. I'll be happy if you answer this question thank you!!!!
   Gilberto - Thursday, 01/16/03 00:19:57 GMT

Thank you for all the responses. They has been extremely helpfull.
   - Dan - Thursday, 01/16/03 00:20:44 GMT


A forge is a device for consuming fuel at a high enough temperature to heat iron. A blacksmith heats the metal that he works in the forge.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/16/03 00:27:15 GMT

Hi Guru,

I am spanning a 60 foot building, and I am going to be supporting around 2000 lbs. of piping. My question is what size of I-Beam should be used to span this distance with the minimum amount of sagging? I was wanting to use a 8-10 inch I-Beam, if possible, but I could use larger if needed. I would also like to know if there is any type of chart that gives free span ratings? I have over 10 years of metal working skills, and would consider myself a better than average metal worker.
   Matthew Moore - Thursday, 01/16/03 01:04:55 GMT

Galvanic Corrosion: All that the Guru said is quite true which makes the following application curious. Many automotive exhaust systems are made from aluminized carbon steel or aluminized stainless steel. The steel strip is coated with metallic aluminum. It is then electric resistance welded into a tube. The welding of course, burns off the aluminum in the weld area. Some companies re-apply the Al coating on the outside but not the inside. So now we have a steel substrate and an aluminum coating with a big naked zipper running full length that galvanically couples the unprotected steel with the highly anodic aluminum. Additionally, the difference in the grain structure between the weld heat-affected zone and the parent material makes yet another galvanic couple. And somehow, it lasts longer than either plain carbon steel or plain 409 stainless. Alchemy is not dead, only practiced in secret.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 01/16/03 01:15:30 GMT

I am looking to build a propane forge. It will be my first and am looking for a little technical advice. I have looked at the various plans on the web for such a device and would like to know the pros and cons of a vertical design as apposed to the horizontal designs. Next, the liner. Kaowool seems to outperform Inswool, but both seem very prone to damage from flux. The ITC-100 and the other coating (from the manufacturer of Inswool, I can't remember the name) seem to help prevent such damage and ITC even recommends the use of their repair cement on the heavy use areas of the forge to help stop this. The question is, wouldn't high quality firebrick outlast both of the blanket type refractories? Is it less efficient?

You guys know a good deal more about this and I would very much value your opinion.
   Heath - Thursday, 01/16/03 01:22:14 GMT


Could the physical coupling, and the crystaline coupling have opposite or similar polarities? That migh account for the longer life of the "wierdo" tubing.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/16/03 01:32:08 GMT

Refractories: Heath, This is a much repeated debate and you will find it over and over in our archives.

Refractory brick IS more durable and makes good forges. But it is dense thus heavy. The density also makes it an inefficient insulator. It DOES make a good forge lining but it eats up energy (BTU's) as it heats up. AND it conducts away a lot of heat while the forge is running. Most dense refractory linings need a low density light weight regractory outer insulation to keep the exterior of the forge from getting unbearably hot. In the past it was made of asbestoes or asbestoes bearing rook wool. There are also lightweight insulating bricks but they are very expensive and hard to obtain in small quantities.

Kaowool is lightweight and a very efficient insulator. A melting furnace with a 2" layer can run for several hours and the exterior surface remain cool enough to touch. I have built two little melting furnaces from old freon canisters and both can be easily held in one hand. The slightly larger one I built from a small propane cylinder but used castable refractory takes two people to move. . .

An THAT is the second big advantage of kaowool lined forges. They are very portable unless you get carried away and use needlessly heavy material for the shell. Even the commercial forges that use kaowool board are fairly portable.

Kaowool is also easy to work with. It cuts with scissors and can be easily pushed into place to fit odd shaped shells. Cylindrical forges can be built in a few hours. I spent over a week building the one with the castable refractory.

So. . pros and cons.

The ridgidizer sold with Inswool does not do what ITC-100 does. . . A completely different product.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/16/03 02:30:34 GMT

What is the difference between medium carbon steel and "welding steel" they sell in hardware stores?
   - Pat W. - Thursday, 01/16/03 02:31:48 GMT

Paw-Paw...I'm not sure...it sounds like it violates all the rules for corrosion prevention by avoiding galvanic coupling...but it works. I will have to do some research on that....
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 01/16/03 02:37:01 GMT

Ok, had some time to think about the aluminized carbon steel. The aluminum acts as a "sacrificial" anode. It corrodes because it is more active galvanically than iron. As it corrodes, it forces the iron to become cathodic, thus protecting it from corrosion. They protect buried pipelines by connecting sacrificial anodes to them.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 01/16/03 02:42:25 GMT

Could that have anything to do with when it sparks when I heat it?
   - Pat W. - Thursday, 01/16/03 02:53:06 GMT

Vertical vs. Horizontal Forge: Almost all forges are horizonal. The rare exception is a few home built knife maker's forges. I believe these are vertical so that the blade does not have to be handled horizontaly just before quenching. .

Vertical gas furnaces are used for heating crucibles and thus are "melting" furnaces. Some bladesmiths use pipe crucibles for salt baths and that may be another reason for the vertical forges (they double as a salt bath heater).

But in general forges are horizontal. Now. . that said, I recently built a melting furnace that can be rolled over and used horizontaly as a forge. But I did not pay enough attention to the design for use as a forge and there are problems with the door and floor. . SO. . Version two will need to be built before I do the article on it. Probably going to build it for Paw-Paw.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/16/03 03:13:20 GMT

Aluminized Exhusts: Our 1972 Pinto had a one piece aluminized exhust system. It appeared to have been plasma spray aluminized as an assembly (no uncoated welds). It lasted 13 or 14 years. . The replacement muffler was made from galvanized that was welded on assembly. . bad engineering. .
   - guru - Thursday, 01/16/03 03:17:23 GMT

Hardware Store Steel Pat, I have never heard of steel labled "welding steel". But hardware stores are not in the steel supply business except to do-it-yourselfers that know less about the product than the guy that labeled the steel in a manner not used by anyone in industry.

All steel is weldable. All steel will make sparks when over heated. . (even stainless) it is burning.

Plated (galvanized) steel may be considered "non-weldable" but the guy in the hardware store but it can be welded too. But the zinc plating should be removed from where it is to be welded.

Pure iron, wrought iron and low carbon steel are easiest to forge weld because they can be heated hotter than steels with higher carbon. Pure and wrought iron can be nearly melted and have a liquid surface when forge welded. The higher the carbon the lower the forge welding point. But the higher the carbon the lower the melting point too. . so they kind of match.

In North America most steel is designated by either SAE or ASTM number systems. Mild steel is SAE 1018 or 1020, sometimes called 1018-1020 because the carbon varies from .18 to .20%. This is what most small cold drawn square "key" stock and round shafting is.

Structural steel that is roughly equivalent to SAE 1020 is called A-36 (an ASTM number). Most common hot rolled steel is A-36. This is cheaper than the cleaner more precision cold drawn bar (CF bar) and is what most decorative work is made of.

ASTM A and M steels should not be confused with the tool steel designations. A2 is an air hardening tool steel with over 1% carbon (very high). M# steels are high speed steels (HSS) like used for drills, milling and lathe cutters.

If you want to learn about steels, their designation, welding and heat treatment the best place to start is to get a copy of MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK (new or used). See our book review for details.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/16/03 03:38:36 GMT

Height of Gas Forge; Ellen:

Went down to the forge to do some cold work tonight. (Real cold, it only got up to 36 f. with the space heater cranking.) My rig is 57" to the forge floor form the gas forge floor. Since I stand at 6'1", this comes to shoulder height. I was inspired both by Pat Fulcher's wheeled forge stand and the height of my rear window. (I have it rigged so I can set up the forge outside the window for warm summer nights.) One advantage of a high mount, besides visibility, is that the plume is up and away from most of the body parts. I have yet to singe any hairs, either.

Cold and clear under a waxing moon on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 01/16/03 04:14:37 GMT

Steel Beam Problem: Matthew, No, there are no span/load charts for beams. You have not defined this problem sufficiently to even venture a guess. But I CAN tell you that a 12" beam will not even properly support itself over a 60 foot span. There are few standard rolled beams that will span 60 feet and carry a load unsupported. The super long span beams you see in steel buildings are usualy specialy fabrications.

First, the normal design limit for fully loaded beams (including live loads) in most applications is 1/4" deflection. But this can be higher in some applications.

A 10" 100# Wide Flange (VERY HEAVY SECTION) 60 feet long will deflect 1.6" under its own weight. A W10x25 (a common section) will deflect 1.89". With a 2,000 pound load it will deflect 4.4 to 5.9" and be stressed over the common limit (besides looking like a rubber band supporting that pipe).

A W33x200 60 feet long will deflect .1812" under its own weight (12,000 pounds). With a 2,000 pound load at the center the deflection is another .23" for a total of .411". But with an equaly distributed load the deflection the total is only .211". A suitable candidate IF the load is distributed.

SO. . . is your 2,000# pipe load the total per beam or is it divided over several? Are the pipes distributed equaly or concentrated at the center? Does the weight include contents (oil water?). Does the beam support anything else such as part of the building? Is it exposed to weather with wind snow and ice loads? Is the area under the beam a work or habitation area? If so does the build code require seismic load calculations?

It may seem like a simple problem to you but it is a job for an engineer. If the space below the beam is occupied then the building code probably requires a Professional Engineer's OR a Civil Engineer's approval (PE or CE stamp).

If you want to calculate it yourself then MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK has the formulaes as well as the section modulas for a selection of beams. IF you need a wider range of beams then you want the AISC Handbook of Steel Construction. It has all the specs on all available beam sections as well as formulas. There are also engnineering programs that will do common beam calculations. But they will cost about the same as the services of a PE and don't meet code requirements for that PS stamp.

   - guru - Thursday, 01/16/03 04:31:02 GMT

When I was a child, it was my job to start and tend the fire(s) in the fireplace. We had a cast iron brickholder that held a lightweight & porous & light colored "brick" of normal brick proportions...it also had a decorative cutout design cast iorn grill on the top of the brickholder that was bolted on. You could see the "brick" through the cutout pattern of the grill/cover. I recall pouring liquid fuel into(i.e., absorbed by)the "brick" and pushing it under the log "rack", lighting it and never having to use fat lighter again. Is there still such an item being made or fabricated anywhere? Where? How do I get one? Thanks, Lisa
   Lisa - Thursday, 01/16/03 05:01:48 GMT

Lisa; I recall seeing the fire lighter you're talking about at a wood stove/fireplace supply dealer in my area (Toledo, Ohio). You'll probably get lucky in the Yellow Pages. Best regards, 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 01/16/03 06:57:05 GMT

Guru, good advice on the beam design. Might consider a box beam for that span. We used a 4 foot square box beam to span 60+ feet in a plant once but it was also supporting the roof and a section of overhead crane rail. Never had a problem with it but it was designed by a PE.
Muffler and exhaust assemblies. Most exhaust systems are made to last the lifetime of the car now days. I have been in a muffler plant that was making several thousand units PER HOUR, most of which were headed for the aftermarket outlets or into Mexico. These were not aluminized nor stainless steel. It is also my experience that galvanizing does lot live long in a high-heat environment.
   - Quenchcrack - Thursday, 01/16/03 13:08:37 GMT

Viking Blacksmithing Pages Moved

Kevin Hall has carried a consolidation of my Viking Blacksmithing pages for several years. Due to a change in ISP the pages may now be found here:


His home smithing page and a link to Thunderhammer Forge may be found here:


I hope this is useful for you.

Clear and cold on the banks of the Potomac. Fixin’ to snow according to NOAA.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 01/16/03 13:53:44 GMT

Pipe support: Matthew, I am a PE and I have done much work designing and installing piping systems in industrial facilities. Supporting long pipe runs overhead is usually done by conecting to the building roof structure. If the building engineers knew what the building was to be used for process work, industrial buildings are usually designed to support "normal" process loads like pipe, electrical and ductwork. I assume you have already determined that the building cannot support the pipe load. If the building cannot support the load, a "pipe bridge" is usually fabricated. This is a three dimensional truss. Usually box form. Frequently the sides are typical steel building trusses and the top and bottom are channel or angle iron. A truss manufacturer would need to know the span (60'), the load weight per foot, and any space limitations.

If the pipe is strong enough to support the compressive load, you can get creative and use spacers and cable to make the pipe self supporting. The pipe is the compressive member at the top center of a network of tension members under and to the sides of the pipe. But watch for vibration loads and pipe thrust loads. And if this is a high pressure pipe, self supporting is not a good idea.

Pipe 60 feet long with a total weight of 2000 pounds would be 6" schedule 40 pipe full of water. 6" pipe cannot be self supported with cable over a 60 foot span. Too whippy. Whippy being a technical term. Grin.

In addition to what the guru said, if this doesn't get you where you need to go, you will probably have to hire an engineer. The engineer has to be licensed in the state the project is in.

   - Tony - Thursday, 01/16/03 14:21:50 GMT

More Beam Design: Modern steel buildings, even when "custom designed" for a specific size (special span, height) are normally just barely suitable to meet MINIMUM building codes.

Unless the process loads are specified as Tony mentioned hanging anything else off the structure is not in the design. This would include Matthew's beam. He did not mention supports.

Most people would look at a steel building and say. . Just hang it from the existing column. WELL. . . you MIGHT get away with it. But you have voided the original code stamp by attaching any major structural to the frame of the building. It no longer meets code AND in the event of a disaster you insurance co may use that as an excuse to deni all claims.

Modern steel buildings are built with very specialized fabricated beams that are designed to use as little steel as possible. Any major atachment to these beams produces an unexpected localized stress that could cause columns or beams to buckle.

We had a "custom designed" industrial steel building put up in the late 1980's. It was special in that it was very tall for its width. A 28 foot wide building about 36 feet at the peak. We asked about supporting a rectilinier crane off the building and having it designed for such. It seems the most efficient thing to do. The building engineer said that they get this request often and the answer is always the same. I paraphrase:
Steel structures are so standardized that any deviation from the norm requires a complete engineering study from scratch. The cost of adding a crane to the structure is so high that it has been proven over and over that it is cheaper to build the crane inside the building as a seperate free standing structure.
When you see old industrial buildings with attached cranes LOOK closely. These were very heavy structures designed using standard beams and usualy standard truss designs (no long open spans). These buildings were custom engineered as a CRANE that also just happened to get covered from the weather. But in doing so the engineers looked at the crane and its live loading conditions (shock loads, swaying) AND they had to consider wind and snow loads. However, in this era industrial buildings were so over built that snow and wind loads were usualy inconsequential.

Modern steel buildings fail much too often because they are designed to the minimum specs. The causes are usualy predictable. In most locations the building code allows lower standards for uninhabited buildings such as barns and farm sheds. Localy this means they can use 20 pound per square foot for snow loads. It is rare that we get this kind of snow, but a few years ago we had a very heavy snow followed by rain that produced snow loads over 30 pounds (which is what most buildings are designed for). Barns and farm sheds were flattened to conform over the contents. They looked like the buildings had melted to fit the objects under them. The shapes of trucks, tractors and harvestors was obvious.

It is something to seriously think about before hanging something on a modern steel building.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/16/03 16:39:48 GMT

More about Refractories and Forge Design: I forgot to mention that most Kaowool lined forges have hard refractory floors. For efficiency many have a full lining of Kaowool and then a half thickness refractory brick floor. In my small melting furnaces I used half a regular firebrick for the floor (1/2 thickness brick is dear).

NC-Tool forges have a Kaowool board or formed Kaowool liner. The floor had 1" Kaowool board with 1/2" of hard refractory over the board. I'm not sure if they still do this as the last reline kit we installed had a solid piece of castable refractory to replace the entire floor. The original was a good design but the 1/2" refractory was a little thin and prone to failure.

The first gas forge I built had a hard refractory brick lining. There were two places at the ends of the forge that I turned the bricks flat so there was 2-1/4" of brick instead of 4-1/2". These two ends got so hot on the exterior of the forge that you were uncomfortable getting closer than 2 or 3 feet from the ends. There is a REASON bricks are the size they are.

For a forge I want a hard brick floor. But for the walls and roof lightweight refractories are much better.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/16/03 17:12:07 GMT


The item you are describing is sometimes called a Cape Cod Lighter. They usually consist of a kettle-like pot with a lid. The lid has a slot in it so that it can close around the handle of the lighter. The lighter is a chunk of refractory on the end of a steel rod handle. The pot is filled with kerosene or fuel oil and the lighter sits in it. When you want to light a fire, you take the lighter out, light it and shove it under the firewood on the grate. My grandmother used to have one sitting on the hearth. I've never seen one of the type you described, but they no doubt do exist.

You can see one pictured at: http://www.plowhearth.com/product.asp?pcode=5040

Hope this helps.
   vicopper - Thursday, 01/16/03 17:49:25 GMT

Jim, BTW you had better finish that blasted story!!!!! you got me hooked you rascal!
   Ralph - Thursday, 01/16/03 20:51:23 GMT

Hey Guru! I live in the "Great Black North" of Rochester, N.Y.Gets mighty cold up here and my slack tub(2'X 2', circular, stainless steel, cook pot) freezes solid in my unheated forge building. A 6"X 6"X 1' piece of wood just freezes in place. Can I use some of that animal friendly,
vehicle anti-freeze in the water? (propylene glycol?) Will it affect the metal I quench or more importantly, will the steam vapor when quenching affect me?
   Don Kieffer - Thursday, 01/16/03 20:58:29 GMT

For Tool handles... I would think a quick and dirty method for tool handles without much tooling would be your basic dowel rod. Buy it in the diameter you want and cut off the length you want. You could pretty it up some by sanding, or for that matter put your drill in your vise and make your own quick lathe. Might be nice to try and stabilize the far end of the dowel, but for short lengths you might could get by without it.
   Bryan - Thursday, 01/16/03 22:11:45 GMT

Tool /// Another Wheeze
Laziness runs in our family. Fortunately, we regard it as an asset rather than a character defect.
One great source of turned tool hadles are old chairs. that have open back rests with turned "struts". Buy an old chair at a flea market, yard sale (car boot sales for all our G. B. members), etc..
Cut the turned "struts" to size and voila we have six or more handles (or double that if the tool is small).
These handle are already nicely turned, smoothed, and finished.
Not too much exhausting labour involved.
   slag - Thursday, 01/16/03 22:49:44 GMT

Jock, good caution and clarification. Don't hang stuff in a building unless it was designed for it. I should have made that clearer.

It is fairly easy to see if the building was designed as a shell only, or for light loading. Commonly called a Pre-Engineered Building. All outside columns and roof main beams will be tapered in web depth and welded from light plate. Seeing a building like this go through a building fab shop is very interesting. No paper on the shop floor. No drawings. Cutting tables are computerized. Welding is done by taking the next three pieces on the pile of cut plate and welding them together with track welders, etc. Robots for end plate welding. Automated blasting and cleaning and painting too. 10 by 40 foot plate goes in one end and a stack of welded and painted steel beams and parts comes out the other. Even in China, this is how it’s done.

It is true that the Pre Engineered metal building sellers do not want crane loads on the buildings, and they are correct that it is not cost effective. I’ve been involved with trying to make it work. It is impractical to make a crane structure rigid. Therefore, there are sway loads from cranes. Those sway loads cannot practically/cost effectively be taken up in a welded building structure. But piping(including fire protection), lighting, electrical and ductwork is generally allowed for with a “live load” allowance. 6" pipe is on the big side of usual. You must check. Few modern steel buildings would accept an additional 12 inch I beam with 33 pound per foot pipe as the guru said. For most process related industrial buildings, (foundries, liquid or solid processing, etc.) a 15 pound per square foot live load allowance is frequently adequate. The loads must be spread out over many beams or purlins. Not concentrated on one main beam or purlin line. Light industrial or commercial buildings might only have a 5 pound per square foot live load allowance.

My wife is an Architectural Engineer and Project Manager working for a Engineering firm, and designs, engineers and oversees construction of retail, commercial and industrial buildings. Most are not Pre-Engineered, but custom steel design. That has been my experience also. I've been involved in industrial process building design and construction in many places around the world. Foundries to dumb warehouses. If there is any processing going on in the building, with processing equipment, Pre-Engineered buildings are not cost effective. Most industrial buildings are custom designed by engineers. Retail or light commercial buildings would not generally accept an additional 6" water pipe. But most custom designed steel process buildings will be able to accept an additional 6" water pipe. It is still up to you to check the design and existing loading conditions.

Pre-Engineered buildings are put up by developers who do not know who the tennant may be, warehouses, basically non process type construction where it doesn’t matter if it looks like a dumb box. Not that there is anything wrong with dumb boxes. These buildings are as the guru said, just barely adequate for the code. That is the customers choice.
   - Tony - Thursday, 01/16/03 22:53:00 GMT

I just erected, (well had erected) an 18' X 21', two car, steel "car port". Came to the house in a pile on a trailer, took the two man crew all of an hour and a half to assemble it.

I talked to the crew about what I can "hang on it" without voiding the warranty. I explained that I wanted to mount 2" X 4" (wood) two purlins between each section, one for twin tube flourescent lights and one for a strip of wiremold plug strip. They agreed that that should be OK, but cautioned me not to put any more than that on it. This thing is only made from pieces of 2 1/4" thin wall square tubing, held together with # 10, 3/4" self drilling, self tapping screws.

I guess this weekends snow will tell me how it's going to hold up.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/16/03 23:23:08 GMT

uhmmmmm Don,

If it's just a cook pot, couldn't you carry it in at night?
   - michaelm - Thursday, 01/16/03 23:46:34 GMT

I just received my jar of ITC-100 HT and now want to line my Whisper Momma. According to the instructions it says to apply thin coats with firing in between. How thick should the coats be? How many coats? Should the firings be high heat or low? How long?
Thank you for your time,guru sir.
   clinker - Friday, 01/17/03 00:35:38 GMT

Antifreeze in the slack tub:

Strange as it may seem, I have antifreeze (safe kind) in my slack tub. I know, it ain't gonna freeze here, never ever! But my slack tub is a chopped-off 100# propane tank, and I wanted to try it out to see if it would retard rust formation in the tank. Doesn't seem to, all that much. Doesn't seem to give off much worse than a funky smell when quenching hot iron, either. But the fumes ain't all that nice, either. And it does promote the growth of really interesting scum on top if it sits idle for a few days. And I only have it at a concentration of about one gallon of A/F in about fifteen gallons of water. No strong enough to prevent freezing in Rochester, for sure!

Bottom line, don't do it. Get a stock tank heater instead.
   vicopper - Friday, 01/17/03 01:42:39 GMT


i painted the inside of my slack tub, a propane cylinder,
with marine grade white epoxy paint with anti-fouling.
keeps algae from sticking to the sides. no rust.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Friday, 01/17/03 04:09:17 GMT

Mo' Tool Handles: Alexander Weygers wrote a chapter on tool handles in his great book "The Making of Tools." I also recall reading something a long time ago about saving some of the larger fruit tree prunings for handle stock. That might have been written by the late Eric Sloane. (A brilliant writer and a friend of the craft of blacksmithing.) Orange you glad you read this? Now go make yourself a pear of handles. I should be ashamed of myself. Naaaaahhh. Best regards, 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Friday, 01/17/03 08:42:15 GMT

Don Kieffer,
I too live in the North East where it gets mighty cold I am in N. Central Mass. I use a stock tank de-icer that I bought from Northern Tool. I think you can also get them from any farm supply. They cost about $30 and only kick on when the water temp drops below 30ºf and there is no noticable increase in my electric bill.
   Harley - Friday, 01/17/03 09:44:12 GMT

Slack-tub antifreeze.

I may be using different stuff. I put 3 gallons in a 16-gallon tub. This is the pink, RV anti-freeze. The smell is a wintergreeny smell, actually fairly pleasant. And no scum on top that I noticed. I've also got absolutely no rust forming. But since my tub is a plastic shop-vac thing, that may explain that :-)

It's been working pretty well lately, and we've been having a cold spell up in NH. Some icy slush up on top that's real easy to break up.

   - Marc - Friday, 01/17/03 13:00:16 GMT

Slacktub freezing is not much of a problem here in Texas. However, when I lived in Colorado, we would insulate our waterlines with electric tape bought at an RV store or hardware store. As I recall, it was quite inexpensive. The tape is always on but draws so little current that it is negligible. Seems like a few wraps of this tape could prevent freeze ups on metal slacktubs.
   - Quenchcrack - Friday, 01/17/03 13:14:02 GMT

As a newcomer to the frozen North the slack tub icing thing is a new deal to me. So far the stock tank heater seems to work great, unless the little woman decides to pirate the extension cord for the horse tank, electric fence,Christmas lights, Ect. For times like these, this morning in fact, I keep pieces of 1" round stock by the gasser. I put them in the forge while 'm using it to warm up the shop, then when hot, use them to melt a hole in the ice. Not a great solution to the problem, but it works
   - Txfarrier - Friday, 01/17/03 14:01:35 GMT

Applying ITC-100: Clinker, A lot depends on how old the forge lining is and how much you are covering.

On new linings you can apply thin coats but I have found that on used linings where the surface is breaking down and is getting dusty that one coat goes on fairly heavy and a pint will just barely do the job. It is difficult to apply a thin coat on the crumbly surface.

1) Thin per instructions (1/2 pint water to 1 pint ITC).

Do this first to allow the ITC to soak and break up in the water.

2) Vacuume all the loose debris from the forge. Then using a soft paint brush scrub off loose surface material and vacumme again.

3) Spritz the surfaces with water. I use a window cleaner bottle refilled with water.

4) Shake or mix the ITC again and apply with about a 3/4" to 1" (19 to 25mm) brush.

5) Allow to air dry overnight.

6) If a second coating it to be applied fire just long enough to get the surface hot. A few minutes will do. The ITC will change color to a tan when fully fired but a low firing will set the binder so that water will not soften it. If you have done a lot or repairs and coated the floor you should fire (after air drying) several times for a few minutes and then give the water time to steam off. When you think it is dry fire it to a full heat to be sure all the water is driven off. This applies to almost any kind of refractory repairs and recoating.

On new linings (board and blanket) you can thin the ITC that is applied a little extra by dipping the brush in water (do not over-thin in the jar). Over thinning with extra water will produce a very thin surface. After it is fired the surface is sealed so that it is easier to apply another coat and it takes less ITC.

On large applications and in production situations it is recommended to spray on the ITC coating. Normally one coat is applied on new material unless several different materials are being applied such as to metal parts.

On used refractory blanket where the surface has become crumbly you may want to give the ITC better anchorage by cutting short shallow slits about 3/8" (~10mm) deep in the blanket with a knife. then force a little ITC into the slits before coating the surface. This may be a good idea on all blanket lined doors.

   - guru - Friday, 01/17/03 14:53:33 GMT

Does anyone know of a source for plastic tiffany style lamp shades? Plenty of places to buy the lamps with shade, but no luck on buying the shades separate.
   Brian C - Friday, 01/17/03 15:13:23 GMT

De-iceing the slack-tub: If I had water in mine today it would be frozen. . Although a single stock tank deicer or a few feet of heat tape are hard to detect on your electric bill they DO use current. Look at the wattage ratings. The are often well over 100W. I have about 50 feet of heat tape keeping my pipes from freezing in an unheated (drafty) basement. The electric bill jumps about $25/US a month when I turn them on. BUT the localized heating is cheaper than trying to heat an unheatable space.

Common auto anti-freeze is poisionous AND attractive to pets and small animals. It is a good choice if there are NO children or pets around AND you remember what is in the slack-tub.

Potable water system anti-freeze (RV) usualy has some type of alcohol in it. I do not recommend it. But if they have a non-alcohol type then it would be better than auto antifreze. Potable water system antifreezes ARE NOT non-poisionous. But they are less poisionous than other types and they rinse out of the system easily.

Anti-fouling paint uses poisions that leach into the water to keep things from growing on the surface. It has been an identified environmental problem in the Chesapeake Bay where the Navy has many ships as well as mothballed ones parked there for a long time.

Many folks use brine for quenching and the salt will lower the freezing point considerably. But you do not always want brine and it WILL increase corrosion of the container. DO NOT use a stock tank deicer in salt water.

Since in emergencies I have been known to stick my head or a burnt hand in the slack-tub I like to keep fresh water in it. . . But mosquitoes are a problem in the summer time. . . Keeping the slack-tub covered when not in use will prevent most mosquitoe infestations. But you have to remember to keep that cover on!

SO if you are like me and you like fresh water in the slack-tub then stock tank deicer is a good choice. Just be careful not to drop a heavy piece of steel on it while it is hidden in the tank. Also be sure they are on a properly grounded and properly wired circuit. My inlaws could not figure out why the cows were not drinking from the tank in the barn. . . No ground and a neutral swaped for the hot! Cows were getting zapped when they tried to drink! Took a while to figure out because someone wearing dry insulated boots could touch the water and didn't notice.

Cold Ice Water Quench is not recommended unless you want the effect of "super-quench". Ice cold water will make mild steel brittle hard if quenched. That barely thawed quench tank is OK for cooling steel but don't quench from a red heat. For normal water quenching of steels that water needs to be 70°F (21°C) or better.

Plastic Stack-Tubs are convienient but you have to be careful using them. Red hot steel dropped in the tub can still melt a hole in the bottom even though it is covered with water. Long hot pieces that lean against the edge often melt the edge of the tub. Normaly the owner of the plastic tub knows better but shop guests often do not think about these things until it is too late.
   - guru - Friday, 01/17/03 15:41:22 GMT

Thanks to all who responded. As good a thought is about moving the tub in and out(daily) I think a heater is the only option at this point. I just don't want to take a chance with "chemicals" without some justification. 80" of snow and still climbing, 0 degrees expected tonight. Hammer on, Amigos
   Don Kieffer - Friday, 01/17/03 16:07:45 GMT

I have an old Rock Island ILL vise. The mainscrew appears to be acme 1-5/16 in. dia, 4 TPI. The vise is missing the "nut" part for the mainscrew. Any ideas where I might find a replacement? (What's this assembly called, the threaded bit through which the screw goes?) Thanks.
   Mark Weeks - Friday, 01/17/03 16:29:36 GMT

Rock Island Vise: Mark, Rock Island has been out of business quite a while as have been most of the major American Vise manufacturers. McMaster-Carr used to have a vise repair parts deparetment so you might check with them. Call as email will probably not be responded to.

Your best bet is to have the nut custom made. Although these vises sell for scrap when broken and only a hundred or two used and working the big ones are VERY expensive new (thousands in US dollars).

The nut is cylindrical shaped with a rectangular stand off that usualy fits in a slot or pocket in the base of the vise. It is usualy held in by a single bolt.

The critical measurement will be from the base of the nut standoff to the centerline of the screw. 4TPI is very coarse and many modern lathes do not go that low. But I am sure you will be able to find a machinist to make the nut. Cost will likely be what the vise is worth in working condition. . . but without it is worthless. .
   - guru - Friday, 01/17/03 17:11:22 GMT

The Great Guru posted:

"Keeping the slack-tub covered when not in use will prevent most mosquitoe infestations."

Not only is keeping tht slack tub covered a good idea for keeping mosquitoes out during the summer, but it's good all year long for preventing depressed mice (and other unwanted creatures) from taking their last swims in your tub. Nothing worse than having to tote endless gallons of water from the house to refill the tub after finding something decomposing in it! Even though you don't drink the water, it does serve for emergency burn care, so why have a built-in infection source?

Another advantage of a lid is that any insulation placed atop it will slow down heat loss from its thermal mass. It certainly does no harm. I presently have a "heat wand" salvaged from an old electric organ under my 44 gallon stainless steel crab cooker and so far it's kept the temperature up enough to prevent freezing in our relatively mild tidewater area.

The BIG SNOWSTORM was a bust last night. I looked out the window about 22:30 and started laying my things out for work today.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 01/17/03 19:33:04 GMT

Thanks so much for responding and giving such a clear description. If I may try and push you a bit further...the mainscrew has one flat side, and there's a cam that floats along the screw, but is always rotated because of the flat spot. The bit where the "nut" assembly would go (behind the fixed plate) is a sort of cage about 4 inches long in the direction of the screw with two round indents at either end. Any more ideas? A diagram somewhere on the web perhaps? Or should I (dare I say it) junk it, and buy a new one?
   Mark Weeks - Friday, 01/17/03 19:55:00 GMT

Mark, It sounds like you have one of those quick acting vises. . 1/4 turn., slide, then rotate to lock. . Very nice but complicated mechanisims that are different on every vise. Only old patent drawings would have details and they are not usualy to scale. . . Details of this type device are far a few between even if the manufacturer advertised how it worked (and most did not).

I would study the thing and see if I could convert it to a plain screw vise. . .
   - guru - Friday, 01/17/03 20:23:29 GMT


Not long ago, maybe 20 yrs (so I'm showing my age), aluminizing was Aluminizing, trade name of a company whose name I can not now recall. Very similar to carburizing, steel objects were placed in a box full of powdered aluminum and heated to the right temperature for several hours. The aluminum would adhere to the steel and provide superior corrosion resistance under a variety of conditions. Higher temperature capability than galvanizing.

Pipe, plate, and fabrications were all done in this batch method.

Since aluminum is more active than steel, it will cathodically protect the steel, like galvanizing. It will also, like galvanizing, protect adjacent bare areas depending on the electrolyte (environment).

Wrought iron bar on e-bay has a bid.
   Andy Martin - Friday, 01/17/03 23:40:56 GMT

Re Antifreeze: I use methel hydrate in my slake tub at the rate of3 gals. to 17 water. The shop is heated 6 days a weekin the daytime but there is slushy ice in the morning after -15 degree F. nights but it melts by mid morning. I use it to wet down my coal and it doesn't interfere with welding. While it is poisonous it has the advantage in that the dogs do not seem interested in it, whereas Prestone is both attractive and deadly to animals.
   Tony Walsh - Saturday, 01/18/03 00:05:45 GMT

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