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Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question. He or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from November 1 - 15, 1999 on the Guru's Den

New to blacksmithing? Check out our FAQ Getting Started.

The Guru has four helpers that have been given a distinct colored "voice".
  • Bruce R. Wallace of Wallace Metal Work (purple) as of 12/98.

  • "grandpa" Daryl Meier of MEIER STEEL (green).

  • Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson, of Paw Paw's Forge and official demonstrator at Bethbara Historical Park, Winston-Salem, NC (OD green).

  • Bruce "Atli" Blackistone, asylum at of the Longship Co., color "ink" to be determined.

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Your input, answers and comments on questions to the Guru are welcome.

-- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
I've been checking out the plans for piecing together an anvil from heavy steel plate. My question reguards A36 structural steel is this matierial direct hardening or does it require a hard facing operation? I have not been able to locate any data(chemestry or heat treat)on this steel. Also would 1018 cold rolled (case hardened) be a better substitute.

Chris (Toolmaker) -- qst42know at Monday, 11/01/99 02:43:34 GMT

TO ALL: ref to square headed lags.. get them from Warren Fastenings, Brooklyn, N.Y. dont have the street address here at home. they have plated and unplated[ steel, black ] and will sell as small an order as 50 each. they yhave a lot of different sizes in stock. ask for Elinor, sales lady.

Smokey -- smokey at Monday, 11/01/99 02:49:26 GMT

JUMP WELD: Jim, I guess I need to set up a glossary of odd terms. This is a less than technical term for forge welding. The pieces to weld are brought up to a yellow heat in a non-oxidizing fire then hammered together. It can be done with and without flux (borax). This is the earliest form of welding and is still practiced by blacksmiths because of the clean full joint it produces.

-- guru Monday, 11/01/99 03:10:59 GMT

A36 STEEL: Chris, This is common structual steel plate. It is equivalent to 1018-1020 but the specs are not as tight. It is hardenable but not enough for an anvil. An option is to order 4140-4150 for the top of the anvil and flame harden it. Later "wrought" anvils were made with a tool steel upper body and a cheaper mild steel lower body. The cost of the alloy steel will be less than the cost of hard facing rods and fuel (electricity) - much less your labor.

-- guru Monday, 11/01/99 03:16:24 GMT


-- guru Monday, 11/01/99 03:17:24 GMT


That source for square head lag screws should go into a source file. You probably already thought of it, but just in case.......

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 11/01/99 06:27:52 GMT


Can you find out more about a location for those folks? I've tried to find them on the net, with no luck. Would like to have their catalog, if possible.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 11/01/99 13:28:48 GMT

Dear Guru
I recently became employed at a miny mill as a mechanic I was previously at a plastics factory where I did a lot of fabricating and always used mig well at the mill the guys that are there (welders) say that mic isnt worth a s__t I have never had any of my welds with a mig give me any trouble is there any truth that stick is any better than mig?
Thanks for the info

Todd -- tmh at Monday, 11/01/99 13:52:30 GMT

MIG (Metal Inert Gas Welding): Todd, MIG is used in numerous critical production processes (all the welds in your car/truck) and in manufacturing all the structural members in steel shell buildings. If it wasn't as strong as the base metal it wouldn't be used in either application.

Where MIG welds fail it is the welder's (or his supervisor's) fault. MIG cannot be used in many places that stick welding works. MIG cannot be used on heavily rusted, scaled or dirty surfaces. Rust and scale decompose resulting in a porus weld. However, flux core wire can be used where a certain amount of rust or scale would be a problem. Light scale and running too cool can result in a bead that lays on the surface. This is just plain welder error (I've done it and learned by my mistake). MIG also requires a bigger and better machine than common stick welding. A common error is welding with too small a machine and getting bad results.

MIG wire also comes in different alloys/chemistrys like rod but it is rarely thought about or the roll changed for different jobs. For some critical applications wire is not available and rod must be used. Some of this is the nature of rod where the flux coating is part of the solution.

I have all the common welder types but use rod more than MIG. Why? Because in recent years I have built a lot of stuff from old nasty rusted metal. The advantage of MIG is labor saving in both the preprep AND post weld cleanup. If you have to grind the surfaces of every weld area there is no labor cost savings and in some cases extreme pitting prevents its use altogether. And the final dissadvantage to MIG is how close the machine must be to the weld. However, this can also be overcome with a portable MIG gun. I don't have one, therfore hard to get to jobs get done with rod.

-- guru Monday, 11/01/99 14:27:49 GMT

Dear Guru,
So another words in your opinion the quality of the weld could be the same but the versatility of the stick is what makes it better?

Todd -- tmh at Monday, 11/01/99 15:08:26 GMT

Todd, It depends on the application. You are comparing apples and oranges. MIG is far more cost effective in almost every application. Stick welding is slow AND requires expensive post weld cleanup. From an economic standpoint MIG is always better. The advantages of stick welding are versatility and it requires less sophisticated (cheaper) machinery. Correctly applied they both produce a good weld.

-- guru Monday, 11/01/99 15:23:06 GMT

For a first or only welder I'd go with stick for many of the reasons Guru mentioned. Much more versitile, you can run out of position, in the rain, over rust and crud. You can cut, gouge, or weld almost anything. With the MIG you need to buy a whole spool of wire whereas with the stick you can usually buy just a few sticks for a special job. MIG is usually the best for production while the stick welder will probably always be preferred for maintainence and repair.

grant -- nakedanvil Monday, 11/01/99 19:11:02 GMT

guru, or any one who can help. i just recently purchased a buffalo forge co. blower(hand crank) "bufco"is also written on it. my ? is what type of oil should i use for it or does it even need oil. its in pretty good shape a little rust on the surface but its solid. also i dont see any obvious way of mounting it to a stand or forge. any help given is gratly appreciated and thanks for your time.

drglnc -- drglnc at Monday, 11/01/99 19:13:46 GMT

hello to any one that can help. i am intersted in making a forge from the civil war era, i cant find plans or any info on civil war blacksmiths anywhere., it dosnt have to be war related but just in that time frame. any info or links are appreciated thanks in advance.

drglnc -- drglnc at Monday, 11/01/99 19:42:10 GMT

FORGE BLOWER: drglnc (drag link?), These devices need oil and regularly as they leak profusely. If you live in a warm climate and the gear box is worn then I reccommend 85W90 gear oil. In a cold climate the oil gets too thick so most people run SAE30.

Civil War era (1860) Forges: Most indoor forges of the time were brick (see image on iForge page) and hardly any different from those centuries before. However, this was about the time that cast iron blowers like your Buffalo and forge were coming into existance and new or big city shops would have had them. Since bellows were still common many blowers were lever operated to have that same feel. Forge design changed little until the end. The only difference between a modern forge and one of that period is that most modern forges are fabricated steel instead of cast iron and they use electric blowers.

-- guru Monday, 11/01/99 20:37:40 GMT

Civil War Era forges- Not only was the forge stand made of bricks or concrete the firepot was as well. 1860 also seems to be the turning point for things made out of cast iron (cased ern WVA), so probably a bellows would be more common for civilian forges..

John Careatti -- john.careatti at Monday, 11/01/99 22:10:09 GMT

Jump Welds- I was taught that a jump weld was done in the fire. using two hammers and no anvil. Two bars are heated from opposite sides of the forge when at heat the hot ends are brought into contact end to end in the fire and the cool ends are hit in unison. kinda like upsetting. It works best on larger x sections.

John Careatti -- john.careatti at Monday, 11/01/99 22:14:33 GMT

thanks for the info on oil and civil war forges but what about portable ones would they still be brick or maybe wood. thanks again.

o and its dragon lance

drglnc -- drglnc at Monday, 11/01/99 23:44:07 GMT

John, I suspect you have the correct technical definition of "jump weld". My understanding is from typical usage (which doesn't make it right). Thanks for the correction.

Dragon Lance, read my story on the 21st Century page, The Blacksmith of 1776.

MIG vs Stick: Grant brings up a good point about shop equipment. Anyone can afford a buz-box and specialty rods are generaly available in small quantities. You can easily purchase a pound of 304 Stainless rods but you DON'T WANT TO KNOW the price of a spool of stainless MIG wire AND you've got to change gas too!

The most cost effective way to cut heavy steel is with a cutting torch. The most cost effective way to stick it together is electric welding. In production MIG is cheapest but in the small shop where equipment costs are a big part of the picture a buz-box (transformer welder) and rods are easiest on the budget.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/02/99 00:24:15 GMT

I am trying to find some plans to build a forge. I've found some on the web but they are pretty ambiguous. Are there any books or other resources of forge plans available?

Tylere -- tylerecouture at Tuesday, 11/02/99 00:27:23 GMT

guru,i'm a longtime traditional metal worker very interested in persuing blacksmithing for trade/hobby. my first question of many is...will a bigger power hammer still do small iron jobs or does the hammer need to be sized to the material to be worked? i've never used apower hammer. thanks for any reply. and thanks also for your informative pages! i'm very new to this forum, but feel you have given me tremendous insight into smithing and agreat place to start learning. thank you! randy.

randy -- randy.flake at Tuesday, 11/02/99 00:49:00 GMT


A big hammer will do small work, but a small hammer won't do big work. (without a lot of extra effort)

Guru is going to laugh at my answer, because I've been preaching the "small hammer" sermon for years now. But for the small "hobby" shop, not a production shop.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 11/02/99 03:25:12 GMT

BIGGER HAMMER: Randy, Up to a certain size big hammers are better. It all depends on your shop and type of work you want to do. There is nothing a skilled smith can't do on a good 125 pound (56 kg) hammer that is done on a 25 (11 kg) hammer.

However, outside this range there were 15 pound (7 kg) hammers for making surgical instrument and dental tools. Hammers were made in 50 pound (22 kg) increments up to 500 pounds (225 kg). A 200 pound (90 kg) hammer is a wonderful tool for doing architectual work including chased leaves requiring hand held tooling. This size is starting to get a bit cumbersome for really small work. In commercial forges a little 500 pound (225 kg) hammer is considered a small "tool dressing" hammer (See our Power hammer Page for a picture of one in action).

To me the advantage of a bigger hammer is that they run slower. Small hammers run like a sewing machine (fast) and are hard to keep up with. Of course my opinion is colored by having run many Little Giants that were in a poor state of repair or were setup incorrectly (which is typical). Other brands of mechanical hammer were much better built (Fairbanks and Bradley) and much more controlable. They are also much rarer.

Mechanical hammers are no longer manufactured. Most of the "new" air hammers that are readily available (Big Blu, Bull, KA) are in that 100 pound range that is best for the modern one man shop doing small work.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/02/99 14:56:27 GMT

I'm seeing a several questions about oil type for old handcrank blowers. What about 'Bar and Chain Oil' used in chainsaws. It is usually cheaper than motor oil. I'm wondering if it is rerefined oil with something like STP added to it.

Nolan -- Ndorsey at Tuesday, 11/02/99 17:02:41 GMT


I use bar and chain oil in my hand crank blowers. It does supposedly "stick" to metal parts better than regular old motor oil. The synthetic oils and Marvel Mystery Oil also "stick" well.

Phil -- rosche at Tuesday, 11/02/99 17:47:58 GMT

Hi,,I'm looking for small scale metalworking equipment for wrought iron fabrication such as a twisting machine or hand twister,,,a rolling machine or hand roller and scroll formers,,,if you could point me in the direction of a Canadian sorce it would be much appreciated..thanx Mike

Mike M -- bigsteel_ca at Tuesday, 11/02/99 19:29:43 GMT

CHAIN OIL: If its cheaper than motor oil its probably because it has less additives and a wider viscosity tolerance. The important thing is to keep oil in the machinery!
CANADA: Mike, Maybe our Canadian friends have some sources they can list. Otherwise Centaur Forge has twisters and benders. I believe Kayne and Son also carry benders.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/02/99 19:59:21 GMT

Steel folding rules can be had from Service Specialty Association, the spring and truck repair trade association. The three foot folding rule is $25.00 + S&H and the six foot rule is $50.00 + S&H. They carry them for their members and sell them at cost. I know it sounds high, but this is a tool that should last your whole life. Contact them at (800) 763-5717 or TruckSVC at

grant -- nakedanvil Tuesday, 11/02/99 20:38:27 GMT

Yes, another newbie
I am interested in makeing my own sword, and daggers, possibly armor
I have strong arms and a keen mind but nothing else. I need so how to books on forge makeing and smithing for those topics and I want to do it the old fasion way (glutton for punishment I know) hammer anvil and bellows but I have no clue to what kind of hammer-anvil and so on after reading many of these posts. Thanks. Logan

Logan -- loganstrange at Tuesday, 11/02/99 20:50:13 GMT

Logan, Try the FAQ, Getting Started at the top of this page. Then see our book review page "The BookShelf" accessed from the main page (or follow the links from Getting Started. Alex Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing is a good book to start with and is in line with your goals.

Bellows are great but a little electric blower is cheaper and more efficient - especially when you are working alone. Many of the old techniques assumed you had a cheap source of labor (child, bondsman, apprentice, slave). Its good to know the olds ways, but enough of THAT goes into pounding the steel. Remember your goal is the product. It will be an adventure no matter what path you take.

Come back when you have more questions! We are glad to help.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/02/99 21:40:33 GMT

Mike, (and guru)

Princess Auto carries some of the tools you are asking about. They carry a Taiwan copy of a Hossfield Bender that works well, they also carry a Taiwan copy of a Beverly Shear that works well. Get on their mailing list. Their phone number is:


Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 11/02/99 22:45:48 GMT

Re:treadle-hammer What is the reason for using a flat
spring as a swing arm for the hammer instead of having
a rigid arm?

johnny -- kuj67 at Wednesday, 11/03/99 01:54:49 GMT

FLAT SPRING: Johnny, It depends on the design. Been a while since I looked at one. . . Seems to me the one Jere Kirkpatrick makes is that way for durability and light weight. Seems to me he either uses or has a commercial spring maker make the spring/arm. It got rid of some troublesome welds too I believe.

-- guru Wednesday, 11/03/99 02:09:05 GMT

Jim--Jock--et all square headed lags Warren Fastenings Corp. 201 Morgan Ave. Brooklyn, N.Y. 11237 718-417-4010 Dont know if they have a catalog or not. Just ask for Elinor, she knows everything.

Smokey -- smokey at Wednesday, 11/03/99 02:25:52 GMT

A friend of mine has a welding shop and therein has a 50 lb Little Giant power Hammer in good working condition. He has asked me to help him sell it. I have a 25 lb hammer and that is enough hammer for me. My question is: What is it worth? What is a reasonable price to ask for this unit? we are located in North West Iowa. thanks for any advice. DA

Don Agostine -- agostine at Wednesday, 11/03/99 02:41:43 GMT


Danke Schoen, Amigo! :)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 11/03/99 03:04:06 GMT

I *MUST* be getting tired! (grin)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 11/03/99 03:05:55 GMT

I'm looking for a manufacturer of a manual drop hammer forge for custom coin minting (as well as a recommended coin die maker). The intention is to do .9" or so custom silver or brass/bronze coins at live demonstrations

michael culp -- mkculp at Wednesday, 11/03/99 03:28:09 GMT

VALUE OF HAMMER: Don, See the 1976 price list on the Power hammer page. . . However, in the current market where 25 pounders are in high demand 50 pounders and 100 pounders sell for about the same price as a 25 pound LG in very good condition. Personaly I'd take the bigger hammers any day. . Wish I still had my 100# LG. It would fit right in between the EC-JYH and the 350# Niles-Bement.

You are welcome to put an ad on the Hammer-In.

-- guru Wednesday, 11/03/99 03:29:53 GMT

Bar twisters: I made my 1/2" bar twister from an old pipe treaded.

Bar oil: Is the same oil that is recommend for air hammer cylinders. Air cylinder oil and bar oil have essential the same additives and can be used for both applications.

Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 11/03/99 13:19:33 GMT

I remember that someone was making touchmark stamps. The trouble is I can't remember who it was. Does anyone know who makes these stamps now?

Wayne Parris -- benthar at Wednesday, 11/03/99 14:08:41 GMT

I pretty sure Grant Sarver is making touchmark stamps.

Dave White -- dwhite at Wednesday, 11/03/99 14:51:09 GMT

TOUCHMARKS: Wayne, Centaur Forge sells MECCO Hand stamps. They make standard combination letter (initials) and custom logo stamps. Prices range from around $50 USD to $160 USD. And yes, I'd heard that Grant is making them too.

We will be running "how-to" articles on the Touchmark Registry in the near future.

-- guru Wednesday, 11/03/99 15:16:55 GMT

Ah, Since Grant hasn't included his entire e-mail address this month here it is: (I'll go back and fix the other entries)

nakedanvil at

-- guru Wednesday, 11/03/99 15:24:51 GMT

Hi, On Sept 13, 1999 Bill Epps demonstrated a braided twist in iforge. I went to the shop and tried this. The result was a braid with alot of space between the rods. I have seen items that were braided with a real tight braid with very little open space. Can someone tell me how this is accomplished? Is it a different process or does it depend on the number of twist or the number of rods in the bundle that is being twisted? Thanks.

Greg Allen -- g-allen at Wednesday, 11/03/99 18:42:05 GMT

BRAID: Greg, the first twists must be tight (about 45°), then the welds must come close to the twists using up all the untwisted material. Either too loose a twist or space at the ends will make a loose final braid. Basket twists and braids both require practice and patience. Don't give up on the first one. Sometimes you have to make dozens before they come out the way you want.

-- guru Wednesday, 11/03/99 19:10:55 GMT

I sent an earlier post asking what the pros and cons are to having fine grain, (7 or finer), in a sledge hammer face or any other striking tool face. The tools in question are forged from 1060 barstock and the faces heat treated to 48 Rc to 52Rc approx. 1/2" back. I have asked this question numerous time to many engineers in the striking tool industry. It seems that the answers I have recieved depend on what the forge shop is producing in their particular place of business.
It would be nice to have an unbiased opinion.
Also, I have ALOT of H13 dies, punches etc. that are worn beyond my use. Most are small pcs...3"x4"x6". Any need?

John -- jmartin at Wednesday, 11/03/99 21:20:34 GMT


I'll address your "grained hammer" question from two different perspectives, if I may.

1. As a carpenter, I've used both smooth and textured hammers. For rough framing, I like a textured face, since it's not as likely to slip off the nail at impact. For finish work, I like a smooth face, since it's not as lilkely to mar the surface that I'm working on.

2. For blacksmithing, ALL of my forging hammers are smooth faced. I don't want any "texture" marks on my work. I can see a place for some textured hammers, punches, etc. for special applications. But for normal forgeing, smooth faced every time.

As far the die stock, I can't think of any uses for my self, but I'd not throw them away if I were you. You can always re-work them into veining tools, etc.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 11/04/99 00:09:44 GMT

A friend just gave me a small spot welder. It needs some work. I tried to find Marquette Corporation, the welder's manufacturer, in Minneapolis. No luck. Does anyone know if this company still exists? Does anyone have an address or phone number? Thanks in advance.


paul duval -- paulduval at Thursday, 11/04/99 00:18:51 GMT

Hi, I just found this site this week. It's great! I'm a long time novice. I have a question about the mini forge in the "21st century" section. What is an insulated did the hole get the tank of gas propane? Thanks for your help and for the website. I live in North Central Massachusetts. Larry

Larry Barrieau -- mtview at Thursday, 11/04/99 01:49:31 GMT

MINI FORGE: Larry, The insulating brick is a foundry refractory that is very much like pumice rock. It is a high temperature material that is porus like sytrofoam and not much heavier. It is also very crumbly and the hole could have been dug out with a spoon or wood drill. The fire is being provided by a standard propane torch.

The "bean can" forge mentioned in the article is similar except it is made from a 10-12 oz bean can lined with Kaowool (a synthetic refractory blanket) and has a torch stuck in the side of it too.

Both these forges get quite hot but they are limited by the BTU of the propane torch.

A cool 25° in central Virginia. I'm not READY for winter!

-- guru Thursday, 11/04/99 02:03:38 GMT

FINE GRAIN STEEL: John, You will have to pardon Paw-Paws snafu. Sometimes he doesn't read as close as he should. . .

I'm not a metalurgist but here goes (grandpa PLEASE correct me!) - When high carbon steel is properly heat treated the carbon is evenly distributed throughout a fine crystal structure. As the steel is heated carbon and alloying ingrediants are disolved forming in a fine grained Austentite. Hardening freezes this structure. However, if hardening occurs at too high a temperature a coarse grain is produced that has less strength and ductility. The fine grain is a sign of things being done correctly. A coarse grain indicates that the steel was hardened at too high a temperature or on a falling heat AFTER the coarse grain had formed.

Hope I got that right. . .

-- guru Thursday, 11/04/99 02:28:09 GMT

Dear Jock: A couple of my friends had bought an antique froe (being Marklanders, for use, not for show). Some idiot during the past ~150 years had used a hammer or other metal object as a striker and badly mushroomed the spine of the blade. When I went to forge down the mushrooming a small crack in the spine opened up and now runs at a right angle accross about 1/3rd of the blade. Given that this will be a using tool, should I flux it, bring the spine area up to welding heat and try to tap it together from the end, or try brazing it at a lower temperature? The mushrooming forged down without any problem or delamination, so the metal seems sound, and may be a decent quality of wrought iron. Just dont want to slag it, being as they think I know what I'm doing.

Rather chilly bailing out the longship tonight.

Visit your National Parks:

Go viking:

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Thursday, 11/04/99 04:03:10 GMT


Some days are better than others!

Well, I *TRIED* to answer the question! (grin)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 11/04/99 12:57:04 GMT

I'm simply looking to buy a hunting knife, and I read that some Finnish-style puuko knives sold by Kellam were made using an oil-forging process. What is oil-forging and is it better than the alternatives or just different?

John Hanka
jhanka at
Minneapolis Minnesota USA

John Hanka -- jhanka at Thursday, 11/04/99 14:38:24 GMT

REPAIR: Bruce, All repairs of cracks are tricky. I've seen a lot of froes with this and various other cracking problems. I suspect many to be made on the farm and forged re-short.

Your repair suggestion might work for show that's about all. Butt welds of this type are weak at best and lousy when you can't get a decent scarf. You need those nice convex surfaces to push out the dross.

An old timer would cut the thing in two at the crack, scarf and forge weld it back together with a lap or scarf/lap joint then rework the blade back to shape (make it shorter then draw it back out). The only loss in material would be from scale.

Good forge weld design spreads the weld out across a lot of area. In this case a lap of about 1.5" (38mm) would be drawn back out to 2" (50mm) or more. The actual area of the weld would be about 4 sqin (250mm2). The weld is also supported in shear rather than being loaded in tension as would the butt weld (which would have only about 3/4 sqin of area if it were perfect.

I'd find it easier to make a reproduction from mild steel.

-- guru Thursday, 11/04/99 14:48:48 GMT

OIL FORGING: John, It sounds like sales hype along the lines of "living steel" (the energy of the smith caught in the steel). Right up there with pyramid power and other new-age faux science. Maybe a salesman has watched the Conan the Barbarian movie forging scene too many times. Great stuff but pure Holywood fiction.

In modern forging, hydraulic forging presses are often used. The slow steady squeeze of the press (it doesn't LOOK slow) makes the metal flow more uniformly than old fashioned drop hammers. In some cases there is an improvement in product. In others it can not be determined.

-- guru Thursday, 11/04/99 14:59:59 GMT

VIRUS WARNING: Yesterday I recieved mail from:

computerman1691 at

He was advertising a "super fast" internet "connection software". If you recieve this mail DO NOT OPEN IT! DO NOT RUN IT! It is a trojan horse virus that opens a backdoor into your system.

-- guru Thursday, 11/04/99 15:18:46 GMT

Currently we use a numbered aluminum plug or rivit that has a quarter inch thick head about one-half inch in diameter with a three-quarter ich long stem to mark Dalls sheep horns. This allows identification of trophy horns world wide. We are now planning to do the same with pure bread wood bison only with a slightly smaller plug. The problem is we do not have a manufacturer of these plugs. We, the govt. of the Northwest Territories Canada, are wondering if you know of a manufacturer of aluminum plugs. We could send a prototype from a previous sorce. Thanks in advance. Berny Bergman

Berny Bergman -- berny_bergman at Thursday, 11/04/99 16:17:56 GMT

Berny, Your response is comming by e-mail.

-- guru Thursday, 11/04/99 17:11:48 GMT

I am interested creating some pieces using the loss wax process. What type of wax do I need to use and where do I get it. Also, can I purchase a set of standard carving tools, or would it be best to fashion my own. Any help would be appreciated.


Chris Bernard -- c.tbernard at Thursday, 11/04/99 17:19:32 GMT

LOST WAX: Chris, traditionaly it was done with beeswax. This is very soft and can be worked like clay in one's hand in warm weather. It is also expensive and the softness can be a problem. It can be mixed with other waxes (such as parafin) to make it harder. Parafin can also be used as well as machinable wax. Machinable wax is fairly hard and good for detail or polished surfaces.

Special carving tools are unecessary for wax. A cheap wood carvers set will work ($10 a discount stores). A soldering iron with a blade end helps too. You can use the heat to weld and smooth the wax. A lot depends on if you are building up (normal process) or making chips. Jewlers use a little hot wax gun that melts a little bead of wax (sorta like a glue gun). The strings of wax can be used to build up a shape or used for texture. I do all my wax/clay carving with whatever pocket knife I am carrying.

The important thing is to experiment with the whole process. Trapped wax or molds that are not thouroughly calcined make a mess. When they say "burning out" the wax, they mean just THAT. If some doesn't flare off the mold is way short of having been heated enough.

Good luck!

-- guru Thursday, 11/04/99 21:25:05 GMT

hi im not really a blacksmith but im doing a report on blacksmith hammers and i would like to know something about them like what they are used for what kinds there are and how big they are.. Thanks


brandon -- talon8162 Thursday, 11/04/99 22:07:55 GMT

HAMMER: Brandon, a blacksmiths hammer is sort of a plain hammer compared to a carpenters hammer. The face is square with rounded corners. The pien (the back part) is a short wedge with a rounded corner. When the pien is cross wise to the handle it is called "cross pien" hammer. When it is inline with the handle it is called a "straight pien" hammer. The cross pien blacksmith's hammer is the most common. You can buy them in most hardware stores.

Illustration by Andrew Hooper for iForge Swan demo

Blacksmiths use different size hammers. A 2-1/2 to 3 pound (1000 - 1500 gram) hammer is a good size but some smiths use a heavier hammer, some smaller. For heavy work a smith will sometimes use a sledge hammer up to 15 pounds! When you are learning to forge and need to build up your muscles it is best to start with a hammer smaller than 2 pounds (900 grams) or less.

Blacksmiths also use machines called "hammers". Look on our Power hammer Page for pictures of BIG hammers.

-- guru Thursday, 11/04/99 22:47:28 GMT

Brandon, I missed some parts of your question but I think if you look around on the iForge page you will find out how and what a blacksmith uses a hammer for. The picture in my answer above is from the Swan demo. In the article on that page about Hammer Control you can learn about how to hold the hammer from Dippy Duck.

-- guru Thursday, 11/04/99 22:56:02 GMT

Heat treating question:

Using a hot salt bath. The steel is brought to temp in the high temp bath. Then quenched in the 400F bath.

Does it then still need to be tempered?

Just courious

Nicholas -- marceljan at Thursday, 11/04/99 23:11:32 GMT

Nicholas: It depends on what the steel is. If the 400f temperature is above the martensite start temperature then you would be marquenching if you took it out after a short time and the steel would not transform into martensite until it cooled down from the 400f temp, in which case it would need to be tempered. On the other hand if you left it in at 400f for a long enough time then you would be austempering and the steel would transform into bainite while in the salt bath and would not require tempering. If the steel you are treating has a martensite start temperature above 400f and a martensite finish temperature below 400f, the you would get a mix of martensite and bainite.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Thursday, 11/04/99 23:32:54 GMT

Thanx, Guru. Yes, I do make touchmarks. Anything you can fit on 3/4 inch square, legigly, $135.00. I'm probably the only engraver who puts a handle on the stamps too. Made from heat treated S-5.

grant -- nakedanvil at Friday, 11/05/99 02:33:31 GMT

Guru: I'm 18 and have worked with metal before i had to quit because of housing problems and I was becoming somewhat backwards in my language. I looked in to the school for help but the teacher wont give me a chance to prove my skills to him. He dosen't wan a female showing his other students up. I have a brush up questionwhere would the best place for a girl to find some good plans for sword making. My uncle does this and I have help him from the time I was five. (bad hair days) The books are nice and I hve them on hand but if you could direct me to a book with some cool desins in it I would be greatful.
Thanks for the sight and I'll try the chat room and see if there's any help there.

Wolf -- WolfCutter at Friday, 11/05/99 15:53:18 GMT

I am buying my first anvil. I have come across one that is in another town in Alberta, Canada. The lady selling it says the face is smooth. I haven't seen it but the height is 11 inches, length is 25 inches, face is 4 inches wide. The brand name is "Wright". As well there is a large # 1 on the anvil (128lbs???). We are talking in the $125.00 (cdn) $85.00 (us) range for a price. Have you heard of the name "Wright". It seems like a good price. What do you think?

Tim -- blacksmith_ca at Friday, 11/05/99 16:25:52 GMT

I need to know what steps is needed to forge tool steel. The piece I HAVE is a chipper knife that is to thick to work by stock removal. Any insight would be of great help. I do not know the steel # only know what it is used for. Thanks Bobby

Bobby -- nealbrusa at Friday, 11/05/99 16:54:21 GMT

Tim, Its probably a Peter Wright. One of the best made. The dimensions you give are right for a 100-150 pound anvil. That's a good price.

Wolf, There is a growing number of women in blacksmithing and I'm sure there will be more to come. In many mechanical fields there are few women. In engineering something less than 2% are women. This mearly reflects societal expectations and has nothing to do with natural mechanical ability. In blade making attention to detail is everything. Detail in everything from design to heattreating. If your mechanical aptitude includes the patience necessary for those details then you will be a fine bladesmith.

I have few books on knife and sword making so I have little to go on. Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork by Dona Z. Meilach is one of the artisticaly most inspirational books in print. The book I have by Jim Hrsoulas (The Pattern Welded Blade is beautifuly illustrated. There are also dozens of knife makers web sites to get inspiration from. The web page of Don Fogg is one (see our links page). For design in general there are some wonderful books in print about laying out the Celtic Knot. Celtic Art, The Methods of Construction is a classic. I believe there is an update by Bain's son. Harp makers do some beautiful inlay based on the Celtic Knot.

It is often recommended that new bladesmiths start small. The parts of any knife with a guard are pretty much the same whether it is a kitchen knife or a broad sword. Work up to that big blade. The techniques are all the same too but the equipment gets larger and handling becomes an issue. With a small blade it is much easier to experiment with engraving, inlay and metal carving.

-- guru Friday, 11/05/99 17:30:55 GMT


I'll check some of my home sources tonight and tomorrow for sword designs. I do have one to avoid: The Book of the Sword by Sir Richard Burton (of Nile searching fame). 19th century fuzzy thinking, republished today.

Visit your National Parks:

Go viking: (cASE Sensitive)

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Friday, 11/05/99 19:39:41 GMT

TOOL STEEL: Bobby, There is a good chance it is an alloy steel like S-7 or there abouts. While forging it hot cut off a piece for experimentation.

When heating to forge or heattreat the piece should be warmed before putting directly in the forge to prevent thermal shock. Uncomfortable to hold is a good starting point.

Assume it has a narrow forging range. Too cool (a good red) and it may be too hard to work and you'll do bad things to it. If it IS an alloy steel like S-7 then it will crumble worked too hot. A red orange or about 2,000°F may be the upper limit. Since you already know the part is hardened you should normalize the entire piece before forging (heat to above the transformation point and allow to cool slowly). Since you don't know what kind of steel it is, and it MAY be air hardening, you may want to cool it in an annealing box.

After normalizing forge as above. You may want to start off with that sample. Cut it off, forge it, let it air harden and see how hard it gets. If its soft heat it and oil quench it (warm oil). How hard did it get? Heat it HOTTER and see what it will take. . . Do a spark test.

In this age of alloy steels, using scrap tool steel parts is a risky business. Even if you THINK you know what kind of steel a part is made of the manufacturer OR his supplier can change steels at any time. Most parts are based on a performaance spec. As long as the new steel performs as well or better than the old one then there is no problem. EXCEPT, They KNOW what steel they substituted and how to handle and heattreat it. . .

Trial and error and test test test! The most important thing that Frank Turley teaches about tool steels is that they will make a fool out you. He says, "Tool steel LAUGHS at you!"

-- guru Friday, 11/05/99 21:51:40 GMT

Hello! I am doing a piece of crewel work and I need a really detailed, tiny picture (about 1 1/4" h.) of an anvil. It is for my boyfriend who is an accomplished blacksmith so I want it to be right. Can you help me? I have looked in some of his magazines and I haven't seen the right one. Your logo looks pretty nice, though. I love anvils. My daddy had one and now it belongs to my brother. I have a very old vise and my father's workbench. I would appreciate any help you can give me. Thank you. Debra

Debra Zeller -- elfridabeetle at Friday, 11/05/99 22:54:59 GMT

Debra, Look in last months guru page archive. First half of the month I think (Oct 4). There's a picture of three Chinese anvils. . Not good subjects. . .
Then you could try the Centaur Forge page and click on "anvils" at the top of the menu. The two anvils at the top of the page are German anvils, one with double horns.

The anvilfire logo is taken from an acurate CAD drawing of a 300 pound Hay-Budden (US) anvil. I could find you a copy of the linework drawing if you need (without the fire).

-- guru Saturday, 11/06/99 00:02:56 GMT

Debra, lets try this:
Copyright (c) Jock Dempsey Copyright (c) Jock Dempsey

-- guru Saturday, 11/06/99 00:23:05 GMT


On my way home, I started thinking about edged weapons and design. Part of the question is what you want the sword for. Do you plan to do something in an historic period? Do you plan to do something in a fantasy vein to suit you own fancy? In terms of design for either, I recommend that you raid your library and pull every book available; and then see what they have available through an inter-library loan. Three books I have readily at hand are: Sword and Hilt Weapons by Michael D. Coe, et al; 1993, Barnes and Noble; ISBN 1-56619-249-8; Cut and Thrust Weapons by Eduard Wagner, 1967; Hamlyn Publishing Group; and The Sword in Anglo Saxon England (Its Archaeology and Literature) by Hilda Ellis Davidson; (c)1962; Boydell Press; ISBN 0-85115-355-0. All of these books are fair to good, all have strengths and weaknesses. Not even "experts" are right all the time. What these books (and others) will give you is a feel for proportionality. There are a LOT of really ugly swords being done. Blades from one period are combined with the wrong size hilt from another. Hilts are too big, blades aer too thin/short/thick...

If you are not making an exact replica of an historic blade, I would suggest the following, whether you are dealing with reenactment or fantasy: Look at the books. Close the books. Start sketching. keep sketching until the blade and the hilt looks right. Then look at the books and try some more. When you have a blade, whether a simple side knife or anything grander, start sketching out the hilt all over again. (For a small knife, you can start holding potential handle stock such as antlers or bone, up to it.) These things develop. First it has to look right, then it has to feel right. That's why historic examples are so valuable. The weights and proportions were worked out during a long, cruel and efficient process where the bad blades quickly made you a loser.

If you want a short cut, while your learning the basics, try re-hilting some of the wall hangers you occasionaly find in flea markets. If you plan to spend the time to forge and grind the blades, you need also to work on the hilting. They used to have "hilt smiths" who did nothing but finish the bladesmith's work. Trust me, a loose or ill designed hilt in your hand can defeat the best work of a great bladesmith.

Just a few things to chew on. Let us know as you progress.

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Saturday, 11/06/99 05:32:16 GMT

I have a friend with an anvil that needs some repair to the flat top piece,(sorry for not knowing the proper terms). I do not know what caused the dammage,but do know he does welding....Now we live in S.E. Missouri, and like to find someplace near to have this repaired if at all possible.He does not have a computer and is not available to give me any more details at this time,hope you have some help for him,thank you very much. Evelyn

EVELYN OXLEY -- MISSTEEV24 at YAHOO.COM Saturday, 11/06/99 06:44:36 GMT

I stopped by an antique arn yesterday and saw a traveler for sale. The handle looked cast and the marks on the wheel were raised. Everything fit tightly and showed some rust. The dealer had it marked as circa 1820. Does this seem accurate, what is a fair price, and are there any sources for travelers other than antique dealers? (he was asking $60)

Bob Clark Saturday, 11/06/99 13:00:11 GMT

Bob, I can't be positive but I suspect that a production traveler with cast parts (unless they are brass/bronze) is from a much later period. More like 1880-1920. Ask the dealer how he dated the item. I can not price collectors items as the prices are crazy.

Travelers were strictly a wheel wrights tool and there are not enough wheel wrights around to make it a production item any longer. All the old travelers I've seen, and the one in my collection, were hand made wrought iron tools and only had ONE incised mark. Early production travelers would have been made much the same way with a small rim and forge welded spokes. Some had pointers and a calibrated wheel. IF travelers were made today that $60 USD? would be about right.

The only time I saw a wheel wright fit a tire to wheel he avoided the traveler altogether. He just laid the steel for the tire on the floor and rooled the wheel down it and made his mark. Fast and efficient, no losing count.

-- guru Saturday, 11/06/99 15:06:45 GMT

ANVIL REPAIR: Evelyn, many do it, I always advise against it unless the anvil is useless as is. In even in THAT case the anvil may be an early collectors item that repairs would destroy its collectors value.

The probelem with repairing anvils is that there are several methods of manufacture and each must be considered before making the repair. All good anvils have a hardened tool steel face. Repairing tool steel is tricky business that shouldn't be taken on by a novice welder. There is much debate about repairs but in all cases the anvil should be preheated before welding. Hard facing rod is often used but in many cases it is harder then the anvil face AND the blacksmiths tools. Cosmetic repairs are best made with a manganese rod or just plain 7018. Then again I do not recommend cosmetic repairs.

The best edge repair is to dress it with a grinder and let it go. Blacksmiths use every surface of an anvil at one time or the other and working around flaws is part of the game. If you want a perfect anvil buy a new one. We have three anvil dealers advertising here that would ALL be glad to sell you a new anvil.

-- guru Saturday, 11/06/99 15:18:07 GMT


I am an MFA graduate student in sculpture at the Ohio State University.
I have much experience in metals (mostly welding). I am thinking about building a large forge to make some pieces in 2 3/4 in cold roll or larger. I plan on making these things about six feet long - much like a giant solid steel walking stick. We have a small natural gas/electric blower forge in our metals studio, but it is quite small- I have used a much larger forge in the past to make a similar sculpture: a SpeedyForge that was quite large, but I no longer have access to that piece of equipment. I am now considering building a forge to complete this work. I have been looking around the web for infomation and found quite a bit of helpful stuff, but nothing that can really help me build a forge large enough to heat about four feet of this steel at one time. I have seen some forges built from boiler tanks - horizontally, and that seems like an easy place to start. My question is pretty general, I guess... I am pretty sure that I am going to use some burners that are designed for ceramics kilns, because I should not need to get up to welding temperature. Our studio has a pretty good gas line to power our ceramics department and bronze casting equipment simultaneously so that should not be a problem. Are there any books to read on this subject that you can reccomend? I do not want to spend months constructing this thing- Do you have any plans or drawings or ideas?

Nick De Pirro -- de-pirro.1 at Saturday, 11/06/99 18:06:18 GMT

Nick, Go to Ron Reil's forge page. He has some very intresting and proven designs. For LONG work I recommend the modular forge that can be extended as needed (short tank sections with a burner in each).

The big problem with this size work is handling and forging. You are talking about a piece that will weigh 75-100 pounds. Heavy tongs will need to be swung on a jib crane convienient to forge and hammer. A power hammer will not just be "nice to have" but a necessity for this size work. Even then you rarely need to heat the whole piece. Maybe 2 feet of the 6. See our Power hammer Page for the kind of machine you need. This is work for a 300 pound and UP hammer.

-- guru Saturday, 11/06/99 19:13:33 GMT

Nick, there are a couple other options. See the "10 minute" forge on our 21st Century page. A special job can be best handled with a temporary stacked forge and a couple loose burners. The biggest expense is refractory brick. Can be setup and running in hours.

The other option is to go to a forge shop that has the big hammer and work with them. Rarely do metal artists do the actual work on big pieces unless they are into owning serious heavy iron. Besides the big hammer you probably need a big weld platen or "Acorn" plate. Need a 2,000# hammer????? :) If you don't mind traveling to Virginia I can fix you up with a guy that has the shop you NEED!

-- guru Saturday, 11/06/99 19:20:49 GMT

My brother in law is an amature woodwoking and metalworking person. I would like to by him as a gift a small to medium sized anvil for his shop. Where can I begin to look for one. I have tried flea markets and antique shops but have come up empty. Can you help.



steve zisk -- sczisk at Saturday, 11/06/99 22:45:18 GMT

Howdy. I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask such a question, but i'm sure someone out there has the knowledge i'm looking for.
I'm looking into buying some knives. Here are their different compositions. If one of you prodigies in this field can send me an E-mail and list them from strongest to weakest, i'd greatly appreciate it. Their compositions are as follows, all being Stainless steel: ATS-34, 420, 420 J2, 440, 440A, High Carbon , 1095 high carbon , S.S. with an Epoxy Coat, GIN-1, AUS-8, AUS-6, 400C, and Steel that has been "Bead blasted". As you can tell i'm quite perplexed by all the forms of steel. I just want the strongest so i dont have to worry about it. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Brad White -- Bradhexum at Sunday, 11/07/99 00:32:26 GMT

Thanks for the tips and Sword making was my favorite lesson in his class and am better suited at the blade pounding and the hilt making. I've made four swords in my short time and am good at the detaling. I love the old Viking style swords with the boat like hilts and seem to have no trouble in doing them. I've done two celtic blades that were sold and a 28lb viking battle axe which was also sold. I was surprised when my uncle signed me the check for them.
I've raided the librarys around here but they have some horrible pictures and they won't have anything new for the next seven months. It really bits. I miss my uncles library. He told me that I shoud ask others on the internet for some really cool ideas. I'm desprate about now.
The sketching thing is about to drive me mad. I know its the beast way to go and it helps when i'm not near a metalshop. I've got one of the students to help me. But I can't think of a style and It's driving me nuts because I've almost got everything save an idea.
Any one got any sugestions in a peroid style. THe middle ags perhaps or anything I'll send pictures. Help Please.

Wolf -- WolfCutter at Sunday, 11/07/99 02:11:14 GMT

What's with your clock ANd where in the time zone are you.

Wolf -- WolfCutter at Sunday, 11/07/99 02:14:55 GMT

Wolf, I'll see if I can find some pics to scan. I had a friend write a review of the Hrisoulas pattern welded blade book but I've never gotten it typed up. Making scans will be a start. I'll post a few.

The funcedelic clock. . . Its GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), Ya, know. That little town in England where all time is measured from. . . Oh' Britania'. . . Universal World Time. Hey! The Net is international. We get hits from over 100 countries EVERY month! Called Zulu Time by the military types. Drives ME nuts too! Its the time our ISP uses on their servers. Now what is really weird is that half the time my guy in New Zealand is in TOMARROW! Yep, at 6:00PM EST Saturday it was 10:00AM Sunday in NZ!

More time odities. . . The Intenational Date Line is 180° from Greenwich, England. Its out in the Pacific Ocean. When New Years comes in New York City and everybody makes a big Whoop Te Do the "new" year is about 15 hours old. . . Now try THIS! Cross the Equator AT the International Date Line. You go from today to tomarrow and from winter to summer all in one instant. Is this why Einstien called time "relative"?

Creative crisis. . . There is a little museum in Chattanoga, Tennesee called the National Knife Museum (? I think). Lots of nifty stuff, old swords and MOVIE blades. They have the prototypes of that awful knife in the original RAMBO movie. . . Its carved out of a lousy pine 2x4! Framing timber! The guy made several. Big, bigger and TOO big. I used to do the same making bows and just a couple years ago I made a musical instrument prototype in pine and cheap paneling. It worked pretty good too! If you don't work well in 2 dimensions (drawing) then saw and whittle a pattern out of wood! Some blacksmiths work out problems in soft wax. . .

Yep, I'm on the East coast EST. Our Wednesday night demo is 8:30 Central Time and the chat server there is on local Texas Time so our chat clock is different than the rest of the page. THAT is going to change in about 2 weeks. We will have our own server and we can set whatever time we want. . . Probably GMT.

-- guru Sunday, 11/07/99 03:48:57 GMT

Slack-Tub Pub: Sorry we let the log get so huge folks! We try to keep it down to 100-200K so it doesn't crash your machine (like it did my old PC this AM).

-- guru Sunday, 11/07/99 14:58:44 GMT

Are you sure that was a 28 pound, about 12-13 kilos of battle-axe? You should ofcourse make things as you like them, no question about that, but a genuine viking battle-axe was a very thin-bladed and practical, not to say scary, weapon weighing no more than ONE pound without the haft. (Iīve weighed a few of them myself.)

Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Sunday, 11/07/99 19:11:04 GMT

AARRRGGHHHH! i need coal and I need it fast! I keep running out of fuel while forging...any info will definetly be helpful..keeping in mind that i can't drive distances and am in the middle of nowhere.
of course as usual you can catch me on the pub pretty much any night (for now) most likely after 8:00 pub-time.

thanks all

scotsman -- albagobragh99 at Sunday, 11/07/99 19:14:37 GMT

STRENGTH of STEELS: Brad, This is a loaded question. How do YOU define strength? The harder a piece of steel is the longer it will stay sharp BUT the easier it is to chip and break (brittleness). The same piece of steel can be tempered to reduce the brittleness but this also makes it softer. A soft piece of wrought iron can be tied in a knot (cold). A hardened piece of tool steel that could cut almost any other steel would break several times in the process of trying to tie it into a knot. Which is strongest? The broken or the unbroken?

Leave a SS knife on the beach for 5 years next to a carbon steel blade. . which one will you want then? The carbon steel blade will have completely evaporated. The stainless will be stained and dull. But it will be there. 500 or 1000 years from now it will STILL be there!

My SS Buck knife is ALWAYS dull. Put a keen edge on it and cut a piece of cheese and its dull again. No, its not soft, its SS. SS is highly abrasion resistant but it will not hold an edge. Yep, a contradiction, don't ask me why. (But its NEVER rusted).

Stainless is difficult to work, hard to cut and finish taking more than double the horsepower to do anything with it. However,
high stress parts (rigging, fasteners) made from SS are not as strong as plain carbon steel parts and must be de-rated about one third.

Alloy steels are generally stronger than plain carbon steels but become more difficult to sharpen (abrasion resistance) and heattreatment is more complicated.

A THERE is the key word. Heattreatment. This is a major part of the quality of workmanship in any critical steel part. Many products are made of superior materials but if they are not correctly heattreated they might as well have been made from the lesser quality material. In most cases quality of workmanship is MORE important than the material.

In the world of materials engineering everything is a compromise. Correct application of the material also requires correct processing in manufacturing. There is no universal "best" material.

In the case of knives the maker cannot even tell you if you are getting the best for YOU. How are you going to use the knife? Jungle survival? Hunting/skinning? Wood carving? Scraping gaskets? Deburing pipe? Heavy chopping" Slicing vegatables? Or a collector's wallhanger? There are different "best" materials for each.

Epoxy coated SS? Why waste the epoxy? Pretty colors maybe?

Any metal can be bead blasted. It is a stress relieving technique. It is not a substitute for correct heat treatment.

Ultimate steels have been the Holy Grail of bladesmiths for millinia. The highest tech material is also one of the oldest in concept, "Damascus" or more correctly "laminated steel". These combine hard edge holding steel with layers of softer low carbon steel or wrought iron. The best blades are said to take and hold a superior edge yet be capable of being bent back on themselves without breaking. Often the art of creating artistic patterns overshadows the structural. Click on the MEIER STEEL banner for more information.

-- guru Sunday, 11/07/99 19:24:37 GMT

Who's can handle an esoteric and only nominally relevant "welding" question? When I get square tubing (16ga and thicker wall) and std. pipe from my distributors, it has a blackish mill finish on it--what is this? I do a lot of clearcoated "natural" steel finishes and it would be great to know how to recreate this...Anyone?

Carson -- carsondesign at Sunday, 11/07/99 19:48:32 GMT

MILL FINISH: Carson, Some pipe is painted black and you can usualy tell as its kind of thin drippy laquer. However, "mill finish" is just plain old scale. Anhydrous Iron oxide. Heat it to a red heat in air and you've got it. Scale is grey/black and darkens to black when oil or wax finishes are applied. Clear laquer generaly leaves that "natural" grey you speak of.

Heat with a torch or forge. A gentle propane flame with cause less loose scale than oxy-acteylene. Coal forges introduce shiney black deposits of volitiles from the coal that MUST be removed before painting (see our 21st Century page article "Corrosion and its prevention").

-- guru Sunday, 11/07/99 22:22:36 GMT

Thank you for advising me about C.W. Ammen's Book on Casting ( Smelting Furnace operations and safety) I am unable to find this book. I have checked the used book stores on the internet with no results. Is there any book suppliers that you know of (who are not on the internet) who might sell me a copy of this book? I just need the information and would consider any other book or books about the subject.

Thank you, like Anvilfire..... Jim

Jim Lininger -- imgems at Monday, 11/08/99 11:51:59 GMT

Scotsman: Where are you located? I am low on coal also and planning a run in a week or two could pick-up some extra if you are close. Im in southern Maryland.


Jeff -- jdegraff86 at Monday, 11/08/99 13:34:41 GMT

C.W. AMMEN: Jim, There were several replies on the V.Hammer-In. To be sure I double checked. The problem may be the mistaken title.

Centaur Forge carries
  • Complete Book of Sand Casting
  • 20 other casting titles/authors

Larson Books carries
  • Complete Book of Sand Casting
  • Metalcasters Bible
  • 20 other casting titles/authors listed 16 titles by Ammen.

Then there are the Metals Handbook series sold and published by ASM. The only book I have specificaly on saftey is Industrial Health and Safety by C. Ray AsFahl, Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-895350-3.

I went through all the books I had and didn't find anything specificaly on foundry safety and the titles mentioned above were all a little weak on the subject. A safety or foundry supply company may help you more. The industrial health book was more about theory and how to satisfy OSHA than it was actual safety hazards and practice.
Scotsman! Jeff is right. We can't be much help without a location! Lack of sources for coal is a good reason to convert to gas. . .

-- guru Monday, 11/08/99 15:49:58 GMT

Where are listing of blacksmiths located in new york city area?

Dianne Benjamin -- dianne.benjamin at Monday, 11/08/99 17:03:24 GMT

Dianne, Contact these folks (address from ABANA page):

President: Bill Banker
PO Box 174
Almond, NY 14804-0174
(607) 276-6956

Newsletter Editor: Bob Corneck
10930 Keller Rd,
Clarence, NY 14031
(716) 741-4311
e-mail: Roberthc at

-- guru Monday, 11/08/99 18:57:20 GMT

hello all..i'm in North Texas....I finally got the correct address to Azle where I can get i can make a trip out there now... thanks anyway,

scotsman -- albagobragh99 at Monday, 11/08/99 19:22:01 GMT

The viking battle axes were at best between 1-5lbs and mine was a different styl that lookedlike a viking one. I made a shild and sold it but I'm still having sword building troubles The sketching is driving me mad. The score was fon but i'm dying out here for lacek of idea clashes. I have one to many blade ideas and when i sketch they clash. Help.

Wolf -- WolfCutter at Monday, 11/08/99 19:35:03 GMT

hello all, im in need of more advise, im planing on making a somewhat temporary forge. i plane to make a wooden frame and then line it with brick. should i first lay a metel liner and how thick. also are reguler bricks ok or do i need fire brick. do i need to set them with morter, do fire bricks come in differtnt thicknisis and how thick do i need. i realy appreciated all the help u have given so far and i appoligize for asking ?s im sure you have answerd dozens of times. thanks again

drglnc -- drglnc at Monday, 11/08/99 21:44:25 GMT

also is $5.00 for 50#s of coal a good price or should i look elsewhere. thanks again

drglnc -- drglnc at Monday, 11/08/99 22:04:54 GMT

Dragon Lance: Wood framed forges need to be well insulated (the wood from the fire). Old ones had sand, loose clay or sandy soil linings with a covering of dense clay. Bricks are relatively good conductors of heat and you can end up with smouldering wood! Metal is even a better conductor. It may stop the flames but heat makes the fire.

Hard fired red brick will work everywhere except the firepot (if its a bottom blown forge). Most old brick or mud and wattle forges were side blown and the ceramic or iron twyere was a couple inches off the bottom. Fuel and ashes acted as insulation between the heart of the fire and the brick.

Firebrick (technicaly refractory brick) come in various sizes, shapes and temperature ratings. But unless you get a load from a foundry the only ones you will find will be common brick sized.

Regular mortar will do except around the firepot or anywhere firebrick is absolutely required. Then, a mixture of fireclay and cement is used. In a primitive forge I would leave things loose or mortar with common clay.

You might want to read my story Blacksmith of 1776. Its about the type forge you are building.

-- guru Monday, 11/08/99 23:41:08 GMT

I am the chairman of the buildings and ground committee of an Episcopal church in downstate New York. We have a set of bells which were cast in 1929 by Johnston & Gillette in England. One of the clappers in that set has broken near the neck of the clapper. I believe that this is a wrought iron clapper and would be most appreciative if you could point me in the right direction to have this clapper repaired. Thank you in advance for your help.

Mark Burgeson -- maburgeson at Tuesday, 11/09/99 02:36:04 GMT

I am building a coal forge from a tractor brake drum 13 " across 9" deep ,is thier something to line bottom 4" with to protect from heat of fire to get it to last longer? thank you

Jeff Hester -- J&J Welding at Tuesday, 11/09/99 02:41:53 GMT

CLAPPER: Mark, A few posts above yours is the contact names for the NY STATE DESIGNER BLACKSMITHS. Give them a call and find one near you that does restoration work (most blacksmiths do). The contact person should be able to direct you to someone that can be trusted.
It is a good chance that it IS wrought iron and can be repaired or replaced.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/09/99 03:54:17 GMT

FORGE: Jeff, Extend the twyeer (air pipe) about 1-1/2" above the bottom of the drum (it is deeper than it needs to be). Fuel and ash will insulate the bottom. You can put in some clay if it really worries you. The extended pipe may burn some after long use but it should not be too hard to replace. I expect by then you will be ready for your next forge in any case. . :)

The advantage of iron/steel forges is the conductivity of the metal. When is gets hot on the inside the heat conducts to the outside and is disapated. Brake drums with cooling fins make good forges.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/09/99 04:01:47 GMT

Dragon Lance:
I've been using wood, sand and firebrick forges for over 12 years, in one form or another. You can take a look at the current one at the NEWS, Volume 3, page 3 (W/ picture of Dave Spies). The metal sheathing is just to keep stray coals from settling on some of the outer frame. I have a comercial cast iron firepot from Centaur Forge set in the middle in a hole cut through the 3/4 inch plywood, flashed around the edges with aluminum to reflect the heat from the botom of the firepot (I'd wrap some mineral wool over the plywood edge under the aluminum, if I had to do it again, just to play safe.) The plywood is covered with about 1/2 inch of sand and then fire bricks atop that, with the outer ones turned edge up, and gaps for stock. The firepot sits on the bricks and there is a wide air gap between the metal firepot and the covered wood edges. If you make a wood, sand & brick forge, get the bricks first and cut the wood to fit. Much easier than the other way around, in my estimation.

"There are many ways to skin a cat, but one seldom bothers to consult the cat first."

Visit your National Parks:

Go viking: (cASE sENSITIVE)

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Tuesday, 11/09/99 04:16:30 GMT

Good description (and advice) Bruce! . . . now where can I find a cat?

-- guru Tuesday, 11/09/99 04:27:35 GMT

How do you take a Buffalo 700 blower apart to lube/clean? I separated the 2 halves ok. Then I took the only screw out of the crank cover side that I could find, liquid wrenched the cover, pushed in a copper ball bearing fitting at end of cover, still no luck. I was a little concerned about buggering it by prying with a screw driver.


Steve -- smkoch at Tuesday, 11/09/99 06:09:22 GMT

How do you take a Buffalo 700 blower apart to lube/clean? I separated the 2 halves ok. Then I took the only screw out of the crank cover side that I could find, liquid wrenched the cover, pushed in a copper ball bearing fitting at end of cover, still no luck. I was a little concerned about buggering it by prying with a screw driver.


Steve -- smkoch at Tuesday, 11/09/99 06:09:56 GMT

Dragonlance: $5.00 for 50lb bag of coal is a good price around here it runs from $5.25 to $6.50 bag for bagged coal. I can get good loose shovel your own coal and bring your own container for $7.75 a hundred pounds, but best price for bagged is $5.25. Of course you have to consider quality too I would rather pay $8.00 a bag for good coking clean burning coal than $3.00 a bag for poor stuff. Try a few bags and see how it burns.


Jeff -- jdegraff86 at Tuesday, 11/09/99 13:16:37 GMT


Good answer. One way to check quality is to ask the supplier for the analysis. Not all suppliers have it, but if they do, I have an analysis of some very good coal that can be used for comparison.


So many cats, so few recipies. Actually, I like cats, they taste a lot like chicken! :)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 11/09/99 13:53:57 GMT

BUFFALO BLOWER: Steve, I've never had one apart. When you find the answer we would like to know. Anyone out there disassemble one?

General - Covers on devices of this type are often aligned by blind dowels. Seperation requires prying carefully and keeping the covers parallel while doing it. If ball bearings are involved the cases may have been pressed on over the bearings or shafts. Bearings must be tight in both the case and on the shaft. This results in disassembly problems. Especialy when the parts may have rusted or corroded in position.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/09/99 14:16:53 GMT

Dear Guru, I am having trouble correcting a curve in a katana. The sword was forged from new leaf-spring steel and took a good hamon line at quench, but also curved to the left 1/3 of the way down from the tip. The blade has a very determined "spring" quality to it, and attempts to straighten it have only resulted in a very slight improvement over several weeks (this is a pains-taking process with an oxy-acetlyene torch and water). How can I correct the curve, maintain the edge hardness and hamon line, and also avoid putting a twist into the blade? Any miracles you could help facilitate would be warmly received.

David -- dave at Tuesday, 11/09/99 15:31:11 GMT

Just for your information the aluminum plug information I was looking for I finally found. The manufacturer/supplier for theseplugs is
Roberts Automatic
880 lakesdrive
Chanshafsen, Mn

Thought you might want to know for future reference.

Thanks for your help bb

Berny Bergman -- berny_bergman at Tuesday, 11/09/99 16:38:49 GMT

Hello Friends,
My sons have been pulling railroad spikes out of some old ties I have purchased. They are looking for some High Carbon spikes that they could make a knife. They have only found one marked HCS (they think it means High Carbon Steel) on the head but they have several marked RCS. They want to know what this means and is it usable for knives?
Thank you.

Bob Conner -- bob.conner at Tuesday, 11/09/99 19:52:37 GMT

RR SPIKES: Bob, the ones marked HC are aproximately 40 point carbon. High enough to get darn hard but a little low for knives. Spikes are made from a variety of steels to meet a performance spec. A local manufacturer made spikes out of old RR-Axles. Claimed the steel was 4140 but it may have also been 1040. Spikes are good to play with. See the Bill Epps "Troll" on the iForge page.
CURVED BLADE: David, I'll have to defer to grandpa on this one but I expect that you ARE looking for a miracle. The problem with steel hardened to spring temper (or better) is that it will deflect a long way but the ultimate failure point is very close to the yeild.

-- guru Tuesday, 11/09/99 20:36:10 GMT

I donīt know if you want to read this,as I sure donīt know any miracle cure for katanas, but do read Kappīs "The art of the japanese sword". It was a revelation as well as a shock to see how a true master went about it: Give it a god whack with the big hammer, if that doesnīt help re-quench, if that doesnīt help scrap it. No exotic stuff, just blacksmithing.

Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Tuesday, 11/09/99 20:44:32 GMT

not an expert on knives but might it work to bend in the opposite direction before quenching, might even it out some also a question of my own, what kind of iron or steel should a good swage black be made out of and how can i tell, i have seen a cast iron one on ebay for 100 thats cast here in PA {where i live} and also have seen ones cast of ductile iron for 150, is either a deal?

alex bender -- klownsrbad at Tuesday, 11/09/99 21:23:40 GMT

SWAGE BLOCKS: Alex, Swage blocks were traditionaly cast from plain old grey iron and held up fine. Ductile is an improvement. What is most important about a block is the usefulness of the shapes. One of the most popular patterns around is one a friend of mine made. It is a little rectangular block with a number of deep bowls. The bowls are too deep to be useful (shallow work best) and it has way too much draft (taper) but people keep casting it and others keep buying it.

The usefulness of the shapes is highly dependant on the use you will put it to or the nature of your work. A huge number of old blocks are one-off personal patterns. These are the ones you find with unusual asymetric shapes, bowl and spoon depressions and few holes. Most commercial blocks are all holes and standard bar shapes on the sides.

In years past I made my own patterns and had them cast. They are what is know as a "loose" pattern (meaning it looks like the finished part) and are hard to get cast. Eventualy I will remake the patterns for more modern production. - Just another one of those "other" projets I'll get to one day!

-- guru Wednesday, 11/10/99 02:23:44 GMT

David at exotic : Your best bet is to anneal the blade, straighten it, then normalize it three times, then re harden. The only way to make it straight as is, is to put a strain on the outside of the curve that counteracts the strain that exists now on the inside of the curve. Whether this can be done without breaking or cracking the blade is a risk.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 11/10/99 04:18:24 GMT

Thanks grandpa, I didn't have the heart to tell him I thought he was going to have to re-heattreat.

-- guru Wednesday, 11/10/99 15:19:18 GMT

Guru: I need a simple formula that will allow me to quickly give tin that "rust" look. Someone told me to mix cidar vinagar with clorox, that didn't work. Help- thanks

jeff -- nuttennew at Wednesday, 11/10/99 15:34:57 GMT

Explain the orgin of the word "blacksmith".

m. kirkbride -- molly7600 at Wednesday, 11/10/99 16:32:26 GMT

I am setting up a forge and at the moment I am trying to figure out
the cheapest way of making the flue. Since genuine stainless flues
are gbp50/m or so I am looking at alternatives. I am guessing that
the flue will not get very hot and so I might get away with concrete
or fibre-cement pipes - some of which I have. Comments? What size
would you suggest? I would guess that something in the 6 to 8in
diameter range would be about right.

btw. thanks for the ball-bearing anvil testing trick. It showed
that the anvil I already have is probably OK but the one I could
have replaced it with was completely useless!

David Round -- round at Wednesday, 11/10/99 16:37:05 GMT

If the Guru doesnīt mind me butting in - "blacksmith" - a smith who under medieval guild-rules was not allowed to grind or polish his products. The iron was left as forged - black.

BTW - Those who study the subject says that the germanic root for the word "smith" means anyone who is shaping or altering a material, originally you could be a "wood-smith" or "bone-smith" as well as "iron-smith".

Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Wednesday, 11/10/99 17:25:55 GMT

RUST: Jeff, Mixing chemicals is dangerous business! The bleach is an alkali and the vinegar an acid. Mixing them neutralized each (or some of each).

If your tin is plated that has to be removed. Most tin is "galvanized" with zinc. An acid like vinegar or hyrochloric acid will remove the zinc but then you have some rather nasty metal/salt/acid waste.

Once the zinc is removed the bleach will do a fine job. If you are in a big hurry use vinegar to put some "tooth" on the zinc and then paint it.

-- guru Wednesday, 11/10/99 17:59:57 GMT

BLACKSMITH: Olle, that's one I didn't know. Smith comes from the word "smite" or "to hit" and from that is derived the meaning "to shape" as most smiths hit things to shape them. Black from the black metal. As mentioned its naturaly worked state is black (when oiled or wet).

Blacksmith - A worker of the black metal.

Whitesmith - One who filed and polished the work of the Blacksmith turning it "white". Produced decorative patterns in the process.

-- guru Wednesday, 11/10/99 18:11:13 GMT

FORGE FLUE: David, Your are right that the temperatures are not very high in the flue but the size must be bigger! Temperatures at the bottom will still be hot enough that refractory materials should be used. I had a 23' (3m) tall 8" (200mm) flue that was worthless! 10" is better but 12" and up is really what you need.

Flue size depends a lot on how it is applied. If you use a hood over your forge 10 to 20 times the forge exhaust in fresh air is also sucked up and the flue must handle ALL of it (the entire open end of the hood is what is sucked up). If you use a side draft flue only about 2 to 3 times the hot forge gas goes up the flue. These are much more efficient but a 10" ID flue is the absolute minimum.

Where the flue is used also makes a big difference. If you have a large well ventilated shop a little escaped smoke is not a problem. But if you have a basement shop under a dwelling then any escaping smoke is going to get you in trouble!

Old culvert pipe can be used but it is hard to get a long length. All steel pipe has a sever rusting problem when exposed to coal smoth. If your flue is part of or attached to a building that comes under the local building code then you may have to work to "code" on top of everything else.

-- guru Wednesday, 11/10/99 18:26:52 GMT

Guru, if I may. In my shop I used 12" airconditoning duct. It is made of aluminum and it didn't cost much. I work in a 16' x16' steel shed. With the forge near the doors and facing toward the center of the shop. I installed an atic power vent near the top of the roofline to catch anything that misses the hood and vent. This works very well.

Wayne Parris -- bentahr at Wednesday, 11/10/99 19:18:50 GMT

Wolf try to scetch in modeling clay.
I find that wery helpful at times of "brainblock", I can change what looks bad and still keep what's good.
hope I helped some.

OErjan -- pokerbacken at Wednesday, 11/10/99 19:56:25 GMT

I'm planning on building a melting furnace soon and was wondering if it could be solid cast from refractory cement or if refractory bricks should be used to prevent cracking, it will be used for melting aluminum, copper and no more than 3 1/2 lbs. of iron also what about rocks like field stones used in fireplaces, how would they work for a forge or a funace. One more, I already know how to set up a furnace using propane but how would one go about setting up the more traditional method of an anthracite buring funnace and could either be used to melt small quantities of glass.thanks for your time.
heard in german smith would be schnieder or snyder

Alex Bender -- Klownsrbad at Wednesday, 11/10/99 22:19:05 GMT

FURNACE: Alex, NO ROCKS! Many explode when exposed to high heat. Others melt. Unless you are a cracker jack geologist and KNOW what works, DON'T. No refractory cement either. What you want is "moldable" or "castable" refractory. Works like concrete but it is not refractory cement. If is also one of the cheapest refractories around. Refractory bricks work good too. I've built a melting furnace using them.

-- guru Wednesday, 11/10/99 23:21:28 GMT

its me again with yet another question. when i start becoming a bother please let me know. well here it goes. is selling a 55# and a 70# anvil cast iron 70 = $89 55 was something like$69. does anyone know if this is a decent anvil and i have heard that an anvil should have a steel work surface these dont, any and all info is greatly appreciated.

drglnc -- drglnc at Thursday, 11/11/99 00:06:34 GMT

Babelfish translates Blacksmith to Schmied.

Kuntstschmied (ArtSmith) is preferred by decorative smiths.

Kuntstschmied meister (Master ArtSmith) is even better, but in Germany you must have papers to be a Master.

In German most of you guys are Hobbyschmiedes.
Do I need to translate that one?

Eisen is Iron but you are not an Eisenschmied. However Eisenhower (like the president) means IronChisler or huer of iron.

-- guru Thursday, 11/11/99 00:11:11 GMT

Dragon Lance, These are door stops. Hit that horn twice hard with a 2 pound hammer and it will be pieces on the floor. I posted a picture of the same Chinese made cast iron anvils here last month. Here they are again:
Cast Iron anvils
All three of these anvils tested with less rebound than the concrete floor they were siting on!

LOTS of these cast iron monstrosities were sold years ago too. You will never find one. There is a reason. They broke and were junked.

Most OLD anvils are good anvils. They have survived because they were good. Keep looking, you will find one. Go to your local ABANA chapter meet and you will probably have CHOICES to make (Which one? Which one?). If you want new, the three bigest dealers in the country advertise here. They sell REAL anvils and wouldn't even have one of those door stops for a door stop!

-- guru Thursday, 11/11/99 00:29:37 GMT

hello all its me again, i know im a pain but you have been so helpful i have to keep comeing back. here goes anther question. is selling a 70# cast iron anvil for $89. my first ? is cast iron going to hold up as an anvil. second ? are these good anvils because i get the felling there cheap for a reason. thanks again

drglnc -- drglnc at Thursday, 11/11/99 00:32:02 GMT

thanks for the tip and sorry for the double posting i didnt think the first one posted. you guys are a savior to someone starting out.

drglnc -- drglnc at Thursday, 11/11/99 00:36:32 GMT

Dragon Lance, I didn't mean to sound so harsh. Sorry.

There are tons of big ugly iron things at scrap yards that can be used for an anvil. SOME of them are hardened steel, like crawler loader wheels (Whoo! look at all those funny shapes)! Big chunks of shafting. . . If you find the place that is buying the scrap from the nearest steel service center they will have some WONDERFUL pieces of 4" steel plate or short sections of 8" 58# wideflange beam. . . Old pickaxes are GOOD steel and can be made into a bickern (light duty anvil).

Don't get stuck on an anvil LOOKING like an anvil. 400 years ago they were big square lumps. Today you can buy a solid tool steel block (4150) for what used anvils were selling for 40 years ago! Use your imagination!

I get guys all the time that think the forging scene from Conan the Barbarian is real! However, they never notice that the anvil is a BIG ugly piece of (badly) flame cut plate that has had one surface ground flat. Great fiction. Anvil works though.

-- guru Thursday, 11/11/99 00:54:22 GMT

I am planning on starting blacksmithing, how could I make my own fernice cheply, space is an issue. Is there any way I can do this?

Nathan Davis -- Nathan at Thursday, 11/11/99 05:23:10 GMT

what is the best furnes fuel

Nathan Davis -- Nathan at Thursday, 11/11/99 05:37:26 GMT

I'm not a smithy but ancestors were. How can I date ironwork we came across? We're trying to establish its date. We're told bolts and welds were not used in the 1800s. Is that true?

maresan -- maresan at Thursday, 11/11/99 06:14:10 GMT

Do you have any blueprints for making forges, or know where I can get some?

Saltblock6 -- saltblock at ao;.com Thursday, 11/11/99 08:16:35 GMT

Guru That is great anvil advice. I would add "get a good hammer, one that you can use to hit accurately and hard." The hammer probably wont look like the one on Conan either. A good hammer is an important part of the forging system.

John Careatti -- john.careatti at Thursday, 11/11/99 12:52:02 GMT

CHEAP FORGE: Nathan, See the plans for a "brake drum forge" on our plans page. It can be built for almost nothing if you are a good scrounger. Then read my article "Blacksmith of 1776" on our 21st Century page. You can substitute a cheap blower (hair dryer type. .) for the bellows. A forge is nothing more than a place to hold the fire and blow air at the bottom of it. Use your imagination.

BEST SOLID FUEL: Is "Blacksmith" grade bituminous (soft) coal. Chemical anaylisis is used to determine whats "good". After that is real charcoal (not the briquettes).

BEST GAS: Propane. You can build your own forge but it has some serious safety risks. A small one can be purchased for $400 or less. I have one heating up now.

FUEL OIL: Also works. Forges less common.

-- guru Thursday, 11/11/99 14:36:02 GMT

In response to your reply to Dragon Lance about anvils. I am also a part time farrier. My anvil has a new face welded on made of a blade from a ditchwitch (trencher)No idea what the steel is BUT it is HARD stuff. I have also built a stall jack (that I do most of my cold shoe shaping on) out of the lift type drawbar for a farm tractor. Squared up one side by welding a plate to it with 6011 overlaid with 7018. Junk yards are spectacular for good used steel.

Nolan -- Ndorsey at Thursday, 11/11/99 15:28:40 GMT

DATING IRONWORK: Maresen, It is not an exact science and there are a lot of reproductions and fakes in antique iron. Most blacksmithing technique today is no different than 3,000 years ago.

Iron bolts (handmade) have been used since. . . . well probably the dark ages (not many). In the 1700's screws, nuts and bolts were used to build all types of things. Most were handmade but the tools for making them were a commercial product. Remember, the early steam era dates from the late 1700's! By the early 1800's you could buy matching nuts and bolts, by the middle of the century they were almost as common as they are today. You could buy them by the box, there just was not as much choice. Screws as well as gears were known to the Ancient Greeks (800 BC) and probably other Bronze age civilizations.

Welding is how iron is made. Blacksmiths have forge welded since the begining. Two pieces are heated in the forge until the surface is hot enough and then they are hammered together. A forge weld is either invisible or has distinctive tell tale "scarf" lines where the edges of the weld are not quite perfect. Most forge welds look like the original material was split, not put together. However, some "T" type joints were also made. If you study a book like Alex Bealers "The Art of Blacksmithing" you may gain SOME understanding of the joinery. Then is you study samples of old iron you will learn to see how it was done. The best way is to DO it.

Arc welding was invented in 1888. By the early 1900's it was quite common. I have not found the earliest date for gas welding but it dates from the same era.

Material can help date pieces made prior to 1870 but it only excludes those made of the "new" mild steel made by the Bessemer process. The old wrought iron was used well into the 1900's by blacksmiths and would still be used today if it were available. Old material is still being recycled and fake early pieces have been made from it. Wrought iron can be identified if it has rusted or been damaged. The metal has numerous slag inclusions that give it a coarse linear grain just like wood. It also splits like wood when broken.

Most antique iron is dated by style. As long as fakery is not involved this wroks fairly well. However, there are small shops turing out reproduction 1700's hardware by the truckload. Most is made of new material and some is signed. The surface rust often is a clue to age if its a gentle patinia but this too can be reproduced and comes about in a relativly short time (10 years or so). But how will it be dated 100 years from now?

Finally, many old pieces dating from the 1700-1800 era were often in use for a very long time. Before they were revered antiques they may have been repaired more than once. Old hand made screws that were worn or lost were replaced, broken places welded or brazed. Even today it is common for antique dealers to have pieces repaired rather than take less for a broken original condition piece.

The best way to date early iron is to know where it came from and how it got there.

-- guru Thursday, 11/11/99 15:33:34 GMT

John C. and Noland, Thanks! So many of us starting out today get a preconcieved romantic idea of what blacksmith equipment should be and look like. We lose site of our goal - to pound and shape iron!
Outside of that goal most also forget that their quest for tools should include machine tools, lathes, drill presses and shapers. It amazes me how many blacksmiths have an old Little Giant or a NEW Bull but don't have a good drill press much less a lathe. Before and after the invention of the steam hammer the lathe was the "King of machine tools". It still is.

If I were told, "You can keep the lathe OR the power hammer but not both." I would keep the lathe. I can build a power hammer using the lathe, but I can NOT build a lathe with a power hammer. . .

Old affordable lathes in good condition and convienient size are just as rare as old power hammers. Look for them!

COAL FORGE PLANS: Saltblock, Centaur Forge has several books with plans and The Blacksmith's Journal has a nice set (see our links page)

-- guru Thursday, 11/11/99 15:56:27 GMT

To Everyone who Helped
Thanks so very much for the information on the orgin of the word blacksmith. The students here at school will appreciate your help. Again much appreciated.

M. Kirkbride -- molly7600 at Thursday, 11/11/99 17:45:56 GMT

Hi. A few friends and I want to learn how to make swords. We are freshmen at the University of Central Florida. The problem is, we don't know where to go. Can you help us? Please get back to me ASAP. Thanks!

Ian Nathaniel Cohen -- ic97675 at Thursday, 11/11/99 18:09:41 GMT


Dating antique ironwork- Try the library antique section. Early American Wrought Iron by Albert H. Sonn (ISBN 0-517-27793-X) is very useful. Furniture Treasury by Wallace Nutting has a batch of ironwork at the back, but his datings (as well as his opinions) teneded to be a little eccentric. If you don't find what you need, ask the librarians about an inter-library loan. Good luck.

Rust Removal:
Before I mess things up... My friend has a small pen knife from his Grandfather, who raced cars around the turn of the LAST century. (Odd to think that I could also have friends whos grandfathers race cars at the end of THIS century.) Anyway, the knife is a trade knife with ivory-micarta scales and everything in mint condition ("Robert Bosch Magneto Company Inc. New York" proudly imprinted on one side with "The Origional Bosch, Robert Bosch A;G." on the other.) except for several patches of scaley rust on boh blades. The biggest is about 3mm by 2mm, and various bits and flecks here and there. The rest of each blade, and the corkscrew, are at a mirror polish. So, he wants to know, how do I remove the rust patches without destroying the finish or destroying the value? As you know, I come from the "crude but effective" school of blacksmithing. I'm open to suggestions.

A little bit of rain on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks:

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Thursday, 11/11/99 18:51:52 GMT

Bruce, Clean with fine steel wool then apply a little vinegar. It may have to soak a while. Neutralize afterwards with baking soda then oil thouroughly. If the knife is plated the rust is due to porosity in the plating. Keeping it lightly oiled will prevent further rust. If it is not plated the acid (vinegar) may turn the surface white. All you can do at that point is carefully repolish. If there are holes in the plating then there will likely be a black spot where the rust was. There are methods of spot electro plating but I doubt that you want to get into that.

-- guru Thursday, 11/11/99 20:21:39 GMT

SWORDS: Nathan, have you tried the library? A sword is nothing more than a BIG knife and there will be plenty of books on knife making. You could also check our links and the web ring nexus. We have a bunch of knife and sword and rings sites listed.

So my question is, "Why do you want to make swords?"

Serious sword making requires years of study in metalurgy, blacksmithing, heattreatment, art and history. It also requires a major investment in tools and equipment. Join the ABA and ABANA to learn more.

If its for fun and games (SCA war games) the Society has a ton of resources (see the anvilfire NEWS Camp Fenby editon). Most SCA swords are relatively soft steel with dull edges (You don't REALLY want blood all over you and your sword do you?). For this you need:

(1) length 3/16" x 1-1/4" cold finished steel. It comes in 12 foot lengths so you will be able to make 3-4 swords.

(1) piece (each) 1/4" x 1 or 1-1/4" x 5" long aluminium or brass.

(1) piece (each) 1/4" x 1 or 1-1/4" x 1-1/2" long aluminium or brass.

The last two items can be replaced by some of the blade material but its not as pretty.

TOOLS: A heavy duty angle grinder or metal cutting belt sander, a hack saw, a drill, some files and a shop full of misc tools. A bench mounted vise is necessary if using a hand held angle grinder.

Saw the tang slightly smaller than the blade (7/8" wide about 5" long). Saw a butt cap tang smaller than that about 5/8" wide and 3/8" long. Saw a point on the business end (choose your angle). Then take the grinder and start carving. When you've reduced the blade to about half its original weight you are done. Leave a 1/16" wide flat on the edges. Cut a hole in the long piece of aluminum or brass to fit over the tang (drill several holes and file to fit). Cut a similar hole in the smaller piece to fit over the butt cap tang. Rivit the butt cap (plate) to the end. OBTW- These two items can be sawed, carved and decorated too. Aluminum buffs up to look like silver, brass to gold.

Now, wrap the handle with padding, leather wrap and wire braid (or you can just use a couple rolls of duct tape and electrical tape). Engrave runes on the blade with your Dremel Moto-Tool and you are finished!

An even prettier wall hanger sword can be made from 1/4" aluminium. All the work can be done with a hack saw, files and sandpaper. It helps to band saw out the blank.

How to make a sword in 4 paragraphs. . . .

-- guru Thursday, 11/11/99 21:00:50 GMT

I would appreciate any help you might be able to give me regarding the repair of a wrought iron bell clapper which has broken near its neck. I am on the historical restoration board of our local church and the bell clapper in question was forged in 1929 by the firm of Gillett & Johnston of Croydon, England. Although the firm is still in existence, they do not cast nor repair bells any longer. I was advised to seek out a blacksmith here in our country who might specialize in the repair of wrought iron and specifically, wrought iron clappers. I am located in northern Westchester county New York. So, here I am. Do you know of any blacksmiths who might be able to help me and how I can contact them. I thank you in advance for your help.

Mark Burgeson
maburgeson at

Mark Burgeson -- maburgeson at Thursday, 11/11/99 23:26:48 GMT

Mark, your question was answered almost immediately after it was posted the first time (See 11/09/99).

-- guru Thursday, 11/11/99 23:32:18 GMT

I just posted a message on this board, not realizing that it was a bulletin board post, rather than a message to guru. Anyone seeing that message who could help me: could they also send message in e-mail just in case I miss it on the bulletin board. Thanks.

Mark Burgeson -- maburgeson at Thursday, 11/11/99 23:32:26 GMT

Jock I got to watch the "demonstration" last night and enjoyed it. Hope to be online on most Wednesday nights in the future.

I went back and looked at some of the old issues and found them really good. On the one that Paw Paw did on TWISTS I saw that he used a brickset with a blade width of 3 1/2 inches that he had resharpened. I had done the same thing and got away from the one flat side and ground mine to about 60 degrees also. My problem is that I am not able to put the edge on a hot narrow piece of bar and get it to be centered parallel with the edges when I hit it. Jim at least had that hold down that he showed and I need one, but even so I think I need to "Walk" down the center of a bar with a short hot cutter to score a grove for the brickset to fall into, and I assume that the brickset is to give a more even grove than I can get with the short tool. Even then would it be wise to round up the ends of the brickset a little? I haven't done that yet.

I have fiddled around the edges of blacksmithing for a long time and am retired now. I spent 2 1/2 hours at my gas forge and anvil today, making lots of mistakes, but recording them and writing out what I think would remedy the mistakes. I just found this site and will be visitying. Thanks for an obvious lot of effort on your part.

John L. Myers

John L. -- lecount at Friday, 11/12/99 00:53:18 GMT

Guru: Saw the "user built power hammers" and would like to know if construction details, or plans are available for the "Kiwi Hammer" Thanks, Dean

Dean -- dpwhatever at Friday, 11/12/99 02:12:51 GMT

trying to find out why a sword blade chips when it contacts another blade the blades are forged?

Rusty Kemp -- gkempjr at Friday, 11/12/99 02:40:08 GMT

INCISING BAR: John L., When I was doing something similar I made a holder for the bar out of a piece of plate with two pieces of square stock welded to it to fit around the piece to be incised. It needs to be a loose fit so it doesn't suck the heat out too fast and the expanded work doesn't get stuck. There are several folks selling little tools with a guided ram in a frame for doing similar work. I also thought of making a bolt together die with a narrow piece of hot work steel in the center. It would be sharpened and stick up in the groove. Just drop the steel in and give it a few wacks. . . I thought a LOT about this tool the past few days as I incised 3 lines in 1/2" round. . . (the hard way).

Yes, I round my hot work chisle corners AND the cold work ones that get used for hot work. :) Besides not leaving corner marks they last longer too.
KIWI AIR HAMMER: Dean, I'm told there will be plans one day. . . Another one of those unfinished projects.
CHIPING BLADES: Rusty, That is what real blades do in real life. Hardened steel under high stress breaks. Only in the movies can you get away with chopping chains and rocks a'la Conan. Now imagine being the first bronze age guy to meet up with an iron age guy with a steel sword!

To reduce chipping make the edge a steeper slope (30°) and round the edge(.040"R or more). It will make your aponent mad a heck when he chips and dings his blade (on yours) and all yours show is fine scratches (until you come up against someone with a heavier blunter blade).

-- guru Friday, 11/12/99 05:14:26 GMT

I am 30 years old. I have done some work with steel. I have no training in this whatever. Mostly cold hammering (railroad spike wrapped in an old pair of jeans for an anvil, small ballpeen hammer, frquently steel coat hangers or Stainless silverware) I have turned out some (not just my oppinion) very fine peices (mostly knives for Questionable uses) I would like to learn more and eventually maybe market my work. can you tell me where in central colorado, that I might find a Mentor or some kind of apprinticeship. Thank you for your time LMH.

Leslie Humble -- DexterTheFist at Friday, 11/12/99 06:19:39 GMT

Anyone know where I can get some flint? I can't find any around here and I need several pieces to include with flint and steel sets.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 11/12/99 15:11:13 GMT


Are you really set on flint? If so try the local mineral and gem shows.
But if you just need a good rock for the strikers, use agate. O got some a few years ago at one of the mineral and gem shows. It was about 6"X9" and about 1/4" thick. Whack it with hammer and voila lots of nice pieces. I think it cost me about 30 cents.

OR just tilt head to the side and shake it. Catch rocks as the come out your ears! VBG!!!!

Ralph -- ralphd at Friday, 11/12/99 16:05:49 GMT

Dear Gurus,
I'm pondering the construction of an air hammer. I've got Kinyon's publication and a good batch of stuff from the web. Do you have any words of advice on control? I know a bit about the subject, but I'm no expert. I will obviously be doing some experimentation, but I want to start in the right direction.

The Kinyon hammer uses a spring return pilot valve and a single limit switch to control the cylinder. This appears to work because the valve doesn't reset until the pressure in the system goes up at the end of the stroke. The problem I foresee is that if you slow down the cycle enough that the system pressure remains high, the ram will return before it hits your metal. I don’t know if this would really happen, but I'm guessing it wouldn't be very useful if it did. A limit switch on the bottom of the stroke would be a nuisance, because you'd have to move it to forge a thicker piece.

The design I'm thinking about would use a dual-solenoid valve with the bottom limit controlled either by a shock-actuated switch on the ram, or by closing a low voltage circuit between the anvil and the ram. Isolating them would be the clever part. The use of solenoid control would also make it easier to throw some logic into the operation of the machine, and might make it a little more responsive than air switches.

Also, would it be really stupid to use a hydraulic cylinder instead of an air cylinder? I already have one, and the shaft is a bit heavier, so the pull stroke is a little weaker. I don't know if there's any difference in the seals.

Thanks for your insights.

Hal Eckhart -- hal at Friday, 11/12/99 16:14:36 GMT

Good one Ralph! :)
Leslie, Try the knife links on our links page. Bladeforums may be the place to go. You also might try joining the American Bladesmiths Association (ABA) and contacting local members. The ABANA web site has chapter contacts listed that you could call and ask if there are any local knifemakers. Membership in an ABANA chapter is a good way to meet local craftsmen of all sorts.

-- guru Friday, 11/12/99 16:23:32 GMT

I'm doing a school project on blacksmithing in colonial times. Can you send me some info on what a typical day is like?

Dan -- DZDan123 at Friday, 11/12/99 16:44:22 GMT

AIR HAMMER: Hal, I haven't built one of these yet but upper and lower switching makes sense to me. The AFC page has an alternative control system to the Kinyon design. Your description of the ram returning before it hits is exactly what gives air hammers their controlability. You can sneak up on the target.

I don't know anything about the seals in hydraulic cylinders but have been told they do not work well with air or at air speeds (second hand knowledge) The cylinders however are MUCH more robust and make a lot of sense for a hammer. Both Kayne & Son and Firedesign have changed from the cheap aluminium cylinders to steel cylinders because of wear and durability problems. I have several used air cylinders. The steel ones seem to be much better for the purpose.

Solenoid control could work but rapid cycling of coils is problematic. Every time they discharge they but a high voltage surge on the circuit that must be absorbed by an R/C circuit. R/C circuits also have a time to discharge factor and do not work above a certian CPS. When they fail any IC's in your circuit will be cooked including power supply diode bridges. If you don't understand the above then you are over your head. I only understand it enough to know the problems but not the answers and KNOW I'm over my head.

Air circuitry is used in industry to avoid some of the electronic problems mentioned. The logic is the same a limit switches and relays. It just takes some getting used to.

I think there is a lot room for inovation in this field. However, the air hammer has been around since 1840 and there have been very few important changes. Probably the most important "invention" was the Safety Cap. Chambersburg patented the air pressurized cap that works similar to modern "snubbers" in cylinders. Because of their patent other makers had to rely on spring safety caps which are nearly as good a solution. Today you can purchase any type of cylinder with or without snubbers and on one or both ends. I highly recommend upper snubbers on air hammers.

-- guru Friday, 11/12/99 16:51:27 GMT

COLONIAL BLACKSMITH: Dan, I wrote a story titled A Day in the Life of an Aprentice just to answer that qwestion. It is posted on our 21st Century page.

-- guru Friday, 11/12/99 16:56:08 GMT

Help, looking for Christmas Present for hubby. He wants a forge but the only source I have found is through EBay and I don't know what I am doing. We live in Las Vegas, Nv. so shipping costs can be a factor.
He does alot of metal work with welding, bending, etc. But he is dying for a forge. Can you help. Thanks!

Jan -- dsrtgoddes at Friday, 11/12/99 19:36:47 GMT

Hey everyone!

I just started watching this forum, but I must say I really like it already! Here's my question: I've seen a page or two (including one here, I think) describing how to ring an anvil and otherwise tell if it's in good condition. How about forges? Say I have a line on a used coal forge, how do I tell it's in good condition? Is there anything in particular to look for?


Maunikar -- jdub at Friday, 11/12/99 19:38:35 GMT

I will be at an Iron pour next week. Our poured iron is from broken radiators. Is this iron ok to cast anvil swages in?
I would like to have for instance a 'T' stake and 'U' bottom swage for forming mostly 12 gague sheet steel. How would the iron stand up against hammer blows? Would ductile or grey iron be better?
Bye now. . . . -crand

chris rand -- christopher_rand at Friday, 11/12/99 20:07:20 GMT

I have a pair of straight pane hammers that have a very prominent touch mark , an A inside a horse shoe. I would like to find out who the company was that made them. Someone told me is was the company that became "Stanley Tools". I would just like to know for sure.

Allen Hamm -- hammar at Friday, 11/12/99 21:26:47 GMT

Please help me with a hobby/craft project. I need a small sheet of copy 2 sq feet or so as a roof on a birdhouse. Where can I buy sheets of copper?
Thank you.

Steve -- srco at Friday, 11/12/99 21:55:35 GMT


Your navy background is showing again. I'm not the one with rocks for ballast. (grin)

The agate idea is good, wonder when the next show is? I'll have to do some checking.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 11/12/99 22:42:53 GMT


Go did around in your yard to find a rock. Bust it open and if it has sharp edges give it a try. That is all you really need, is a sharp edge on the rock. I tried some obsidian once. It worked OK, except that it flaked off every time I used it.

Anyway, it was the 'target' fleet who used rocks! Us real sailors(SS) used water for ballast!(grin)

ralph -- ralphd at Friday, 11/12/99 23:37:24 GMT


According to that definition, your group would have been called sinkers, not sailors! (grin)

Iron Pyrites work but they're expensive! I think I've found a source of the good stuff, though.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 11/12/99 23:58:31 GMT

steve, go to a good roofing and guttering business, they will have the copper.

kid -- n/a Saturday, 11/13/99 00:22:04 GMT

I'm a newbie, dear guru. I've made a better hood for a borrowed forge and it works okay. Are there hood designs out there that I could study so I can make a better one? Also, can I make it with galvinized sheet metal or will the fumes when it heats up kill me?

Nancy Fredrickson -- nancylf at Saturday, 11/13/99 01:05:12 GMT

FORGE HOOD: Nancy, Hoods are only as good as the flue they are attached to. Look at the last pages of the ABANA edition of the anvilfire NEWS and the AFC edition. Both have pictures of side draft flues. These are much more efficient than hoods. A hood must accept all the air at its opening and that is normaly a lot due to the area. A side draft flue sucks up a higher proportion of hot smoke and flame which in turn improves the "draw".

Modern galvanizing is 100% zinc. You CAN get sick from burning zinc but it takes a lot of exposure. Very little is going to burn off a hood (only where it gets near a red heat). Old fashioned galvanizing had cadnium, lead and bismuth in it. All deadly, especialy the cadnium.

Consider stove pipe used on a wood stove. Most is zinc galvanized and gets a lot hotter than a forge hood.

-- guru Saturday, 11/13/99 02:46:17 GMT

FORGE GIFT: Jan the Desert Goddess, Our advertisers all sell forges. You have a choice of coal or gas. Considering your local I'd recommend gas (propane). They are clean and quiet. Good coal is hard to get where you are. I'm currently testing an NC-TOOL Whisper Baby. Its a little small but it is very efficient. We are also testing a Whisper Momma. Its a nice 2 burner model and a good size for general "foolin' around" :). They come with everything you need except the gas bottle and will run on the same one as your gas grill. Takes about 20-30 minutes from the time you open the box until you've got hot metal.

Here's the link to Jim Wilson's review. We have another comming up of the Whisper Baby and then a comparison review which will take more time. Whisper Momma - Product Review. This forge was ordered from Bruce Wallace and the "Baby" from Kayne and Son. They both arrived at Jim's on the same day! He thought Christmas had come early!

-- guru Saturday, 11/13/99 03:08:52 GMT

Jan, The Dessert Goddess! Or did I spell that incorrectly? (grin)

Jock is right. Christmas is TWO gas forges sitting on the breezeway! Ask him how it happened!

I've been running the NC Whisper Momma off of a 20 # picnic bottle for a week now. Has at least 8 hours of forging time on it and the bottle isn't empty yet. Is a nice effecient little forge.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 11/13/99 03:18:50 GMT

TRADE MARK: Allen, That is the mark of Atha tools and their plant was indeed bought out by Stanley. Tool dealers pay more for Atha tools. For details about the history find a copy of Blacksmiths' and Farriers' Tools at Shelburne Museum : A History of Their Development from Forge to Factory (Museum Pamphlet Series, Number 7) by H.R. Bradley Smith. sorry this book is out of print...

-- guru Saturday, 11/13/99 03:19:39 GMT

CAST IRON: Chris, Cast iron is very brittle. It is good for making swage blocks and would probably do for your bottom swage for sheet metal. Blacksmiths bottom anvil set tools are made from tool steel. The T stake cast in iron would break with little use. These are normaly forged steel or mild and tool steel. Stakes for sheet metal work are forged and fabricated (forgings welded together). You can make a nice stake by reworking an old pick axe. . .

-- guru Saturday, 11/13/99 03:30:17 GMT

OLD FORGES: Maunikar, If it looks like all the pieces are there and its not rusted or burned out then it is OK. If is has a hand crank blower try it out. If its locked up OR makes a lot of noise then it is tweeky. However, a lot of old locked up blowers are reserected with a lot of penetrating oil and loving care.
I think you folks have set a record for questions in one evening! Thanks for visiting anvilfire! Lots more exciting things comming soon!

-- guru Saturday, 11/13/99 03:36:37 GMT

COPPER: Steve, If you can't find what you are looking for localy try McMaster-Carr (listed in our links). They take credit cards.
Jan, I appologize for Jim. . . He gets that way in the presense (or imagined presense) of any female.

If you are looking for a used coal forge you might want to look up Jim Hrisoulas. He is a famous knife maker and author of several books. He is local to you and may know where some used equipment could be found and other smiths in the area. If he's not in the book try Jhrisoulas at

-- guru Saturday, 11/13/99 04:11:31 GMT


Looks like we both need a spell checker! (grin)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 11/13/99 04:36:34 GMT

What would be a likely source for scrap nickel and nickel steel?

Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Saturday, 11/13/99 17:17:46 GMT


I'm working on a lab assignment for a Mfg. Proceess class. I've made a Charpy and Izod impact test specimen out of 1045 steel. These blocks are 0.394" square and 3.00" long. I need to heat treat these blocks to get the highest HRC reading, but also the best impact test reading. I think that fully annealing the blocks, then induction hardening them would give me the best results for this lab, however I have no induction hardening equipment at my disposal to do this. The next best solution, I feel, would to be to harden each block by Austentizing at 1550 degees F. and quenching in water, followed by Tempering one block at 800 degrees F. for 1 hour to obtain approx. an HRC of 41 and tempering one block at 1000 degrees F. for 1 hour to obtain approx. an HRC of 30. Hopefully there would be enough ductility in one of these blocks to give a high impact test reading. What are your thoughts on this. Thanks in advance.

Chuck -- ccoufal at Saturday, 11/13/99 17:39:15 GMT


Interesting ideas. I've thought along the same lines before, mostly with regards to an inertia switch. Trouble with this and some of the ones you mentioned is that by the time the hammer actually contacts the work it's already too late to reverse the valve! Due to the normal lag in the valves and cylinder (time it takes to fill one side and empty the other) the valve actually must shift just prior to striking the work. A good hammer blow bounces right off of the work with no perceptble dwell. A bottom of stroke switch in a slide controlled by the foot treadle has merit. Course with that you could step the switch down too far for the thickness of the work under the hammer, you'd just have to avoid doing that.

The rod and piston seals in a hydraulic cylinder are generally too robust and tight for use with air. If you extend and retract a hydraulic and an air cylinder by hand you'll feel the difference in "sticksion".

Interesting thinking about "logic". ARO makes "and" "or" and "nor" air valves. Friend of mine and I realized we could make a small steam powered "computer" using these components! For a few hundred dollars worth of components we could build a machine capable of adding and subtracting four digit binary numbers! Not very useful, but would sure be fun!

grant -- nakedanvil at Saturday, 11/13/99 18:13:59 GMT


Your evaluation of the control problems with air hammers is quite perceptive.

I like your idea of using a sensor to signal the instant of contact with the work, but as Grant has pointed out, the control system should have bled off the air pressure to the air cylinder on the down stroke by the time the hammer hits the work so that the hammer can rebound naturally with out fighting the air cylinder on the way back up.

Also Grant pointed out, ARO does provide a variety of logic controls for air control systems, one of which is a delay timer. By inserting a delay in the return circuit, between the trigger valve and the shuttle valve, one could tune the delay time for the reversal of the air control shuttle valve to more closely match the speed/stroke of the machine. In many cases you the builder must buy more tubing to plumb your control system than is actually needed, maybe forty feet or more. And so if you were to insert a long length of said tubing into the control circuit between the trigger valve and the shuttle(control)valve you would have a delay line of sorts. To tune the timming, if the hammer lingered before starting on the return stroke you could cut five feet or so out of the delay line and try again until the timming became acceptable. You would then be able to fine tune the hammer for optimum control at slow speeds where you need it most.

Dan Dreyer -- Dand at Saturday, 11/13/99 23:19:35 GMT

AIR HAMMER CIRCUITS I: The Steam Computer from an Alternate Universe. . . Fluid logic is one of those more than slightly sophisticated subjects that I've always tried to avoid. Ever look at the control body of a GM automatic transmission? Now there are some folks that should have been told the KISS theory of design! We tend to think of hydraulics and pneumatics as simple on-off circuits like digital electronics but in reality they are a lot trickier. Switching can occur with completely static parts as well as Boolean logic. If you want to get high tech in hydraulic circuitry this is the nitty grity

-- guru Sunday, 11/14/99 03:35:51 GMT

I built up and sharpened V-blade saws back in the 60's and now have some owner-operators that are using my skills in this field again.Iwas told a month or so ago that there used to be a Carbide paste they used to harden rock bits on a water well rig but cant find anything on them. I need something that the Arkansas rocks wont wear or break off so fast on the V-blade saws and shears on doziers. The first saw I sharpened was worn but not a tooth was broke when I sharpened it again last Tuesday. The top teeth were worn very little but the bottom teeth were wore out back about half way of the blade so I need something harder than the McKay 58 the owner furnished. Seems like anything with Carbide particles would work for a hard coating. Thanks for the help. Ken Burke

Kenneth Burke -- HAWK1139 at Sunday, 11/14/99 04:28:53 GMT

hello all, i just wanted to say thank you and that you all have been a great help. I am hoping to have the forge compleated this week and have a friend picking up a large block of tool steel to use as an anvil until i can find one. again thanks alot and keep up the great work.

drglnc -- drglnc at Sunday, 11/14/99 04:46:52 GMT

AIR HAMMER CIRCUITS II: The Steam Hammer was invented by James Nasmyth in 1839. This was by a man with a lifetime of study and experiance in steam engines and who had expanded on the experiance of James Watt and others in the field. Watt not only invented the true steam engine in the 1740's he had to invent the pressure guage AND THEN the strip recorder in order to study the pressure/power relationships in steam engines. Steam engine valve timing which is controled by linkages is critical to the efficiency of the engine and determines both power and speed. In dynamic machines of this type valves open and close well before or after mechanical events because gases do not react instantly. They also change timing and dwell with changes in speed. The study of these dynamics was recognized as being of critical importance by Watt and still is an important part of steam engine design, maintence and repair. The principles also apply to pneumatics in slightly modified form and also apply to air hammers. My point is, these are decievingly simple machines with some sophisticated underlying dynamics.

-- guru Sunday, 11/14/99 05:12:18 GMT

CARBIDE PASTE: Ken, I've never heard of it but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. There is a carbuizing (case hardening) paste called Casinite. But case hardening only works on certain steels and probably wouldn't do anything for hard facing rod. Give me a chance to get to my references and I'll see what I can find.

Sometimes abrasion resistance is not the same as hardness. Plain 304 stainless steel is not very hard and scratches easily but it is generaly abrasion resistant making it hard to buff and polish. I'm not suggesting SS but just want to make the point.

-- guru Sunday, 11/14/99 13:07:09 GMT

We always found that the most powerful blow you could strike with a steam hammer was by "bouncing" it off a cushion of top air. You send the hammer up smartly and before it hits the top, you give it full steam and down motion, literally bouncing it off the top. Most mechanical hammers compress a spring at the top of the stroke, giving the initial acceleration for the next stroke.

On that note I'd like to mention that mechanical hammers should not be judged by running them "dry". When the dies are hit together, they act as a spring, rebounding the hammer back up and throwing the timing off so that the hammer may appear to run erratic whaen in fact it might work fine with hot iron in between to soak up that energy.

grant -- nakedanvil at Sunday, 11/14/99 16:48:10 GMT

Dear Guru:

I am looking for instructions on how to make a claydon knot. Can you point me in the right direction? Thanks.

Hans Wiza -- hmcwiza at Sunday, 11/14/99 18:08:14 GMT

I've seen welding rods that deposit a matrix of tungsten carbide. I'd check around with some of specialty welding rod folks like Certainium and Cronatron. Never heard of a paste though.

grant -- nakedanvil at Sunday, 11/14/99 23:05:17 GMT

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