WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and 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 December 22 - 31, 2000 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

It gets cold where I live. I tried to do a lap weld today. brought both pieces to welding heat. they were the same color as the fire, and emitting a thin stream of sparks. the minute i put them on anvil they cooled so rapidly that i couldn't get them to stick. what can i do? resort to brazing? or tig? i've got to get this project done before christmas.
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Thursday, 12/21/00 23:45:26 GMT

Cold Shop: Coondogger, The air temp has SOME effect but the anvil temperature (as well as your hammers) are the big heat sink. So do the obvious thing. HEAT it UP!

Getting a penetrating heat can be a problem too. A friend of mine put a heat exchanger on his coal forge for the winter and got a significant improvement in weld performance. In this era (again) of rising fuel costs we should ALL think recuperative forge (year round). The problem is that coal ash is real hard on sheet metal and the heatechangers should have a stainless flue liner.

Try heating the anvil. A heating pad and wool blanket work on it just like they do you. Keeping the anvil warm may be more important than getting it warm as it is a LOT of mass to heat up the first time. Toss that hammer under the blanket too.

When the weather gets a little colder I'll be putting blankets on our water pump and tank. Hey, they give off heat just like you and I before they freeze. . blankets work. Condensation is a problem the rest of the year so they don't stay on in the summer.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 00:16:08 GMT

Cold Forge..I have been learning bladesmithing for about 6 years now. I have learned a lot here and there is a lot more I have yet to learn. I also have learned much from a few inexpensive books. May I suggest "Step by Step Knifemaking" by David Boye and "Custom Knifemaking" by Tim McCreight..both are around $20. Both cover the basics of most aspects of kmifemaking...metals, forging, tooling, handle material, sheaths, etching,,etc..etc. I'm not saying these are the "best" books out there, but they would serve you well now and later as reference books. They were amoung the first books I bought. I think McCreights book is out of print but you can still find them new and used. Amazon carries several knifemaking books as well as Norm Larson. You can also find used books at www.bibliofind.com.
R. Guess  <RanDGuess at aol.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 01:27:23 GMT

I'm a novice, that is no experince, but all I'm really interested in making is Tomahawks and Knives not taking up the whole trade. Any suggestions for a starting point on my education? I could be wrong but I don't think I need to do much welding and using a torch for these projects. So with that in mind any help would be greatly appreciated.
Patrick  <winterswolf8 at hotmail.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 04:58:54 GMT

David lawrence,
You part of the Mastermyr group? If so what are you making?
I have to make 3 meters of chain and the firegrid.
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Friday, 12/22/00 06:23:16 GMT

um id be one of thows bight eyed begeners well iv dug up some old better up hammers but thanks to the mirical of the belt grinder iv gotten them all cleend up but there also now soft lol so my qwestion is what is the best way of hardning the hammer and then making the areat around the eye soft enuf to not wory about cracking ect (in the furure i plan to make a few hammers to ) well thanks for your time chris
chris anderson  <zertwiz at aol.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 07:35:17 GMT

Early Medieval Steel and Anvils:

Early medieval anvils (at least the ones that have been found so far) are remarkably small. Having used some reproductions in our reenactments and other experiments, I'm beginning to suspect that the smaller metal anvils were for the finish work, and that they used stone anvils for the rough forging. Working the metal at a yellow or range on a flat rock is not a problem, but when it comes to finishing at a lower temperature, or bending around the horn or other stake work, the rock won't do. The other advantage of a "two tier" system is that rocks are cheap. If it gets bashed up, you can find another rock more easily than reforging and dressing the anvil.

We're planning on doing further experiments, and will have both stone and steel anvils at Jamestown's Military Through the Ages in March. The Anglo-Saxon Camp will be set in England ca. 553 ("We beat Arturus and we're movin' in!") and we'll be practicing the more domestic crafts, forging swords AND plowshares (or, at least, spears and pruning hooks).

Meanwhile, one of my friends forwarded this article on high-quality Anglo-Saxon steel making at:


As the Great Guru says: What we don't know is surprising.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come have a row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Friday, 12/22/00 13:00:57 GMT

Flex and hardness, AGAIN:
Guru, I´ve been making blades for a long time now and know what usually works and what doesn´t, but I really have to get this straightened out: Hardened and nonhardened steel has the same flexibility, the difference being that the softer metal will bend, and stay that way, under a certain load, while the harder steel will spring back (if not overloaded and broken). Have I understood this correctly?

Now, and this is what I have lately become uncertain
about, does the hardness affect how much force is needed to deflect a blade, the stiffnes of the blade, or is that determined by cross-section only? In my experience a long blade cannot be very thin and very stiff at the same time, ridges and hollow-grinding may make it look thin and feel light, but the cross-section will be there.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Friday, 12/22/00 14:51:58 GMT

Good? Hammers: Chris, If they are soft they are not much good, but then you have recognized that. How do you know they are soft? Unless they have been in a fire they should be as hard now as when they were made.

Hammers rarely crack at the eye. The whole head is hardened and then the temper may be drawn back. However, because of the blockyness of most hammers the entire head is just tempered in an oven (350-400°F). Hardening is determined by the type of steel. If you have a collection of odd hammers everyone may be a different steel. If you don't know kind of steel they are you will likely lose one or more in the hardening process. Every steel has it own set of hardening and tempering parameters.

Tool steels come in Water, Oil and Air hardening varieties. If you quench an air hardening steel in water (or cold oil) it will crack. If you quench an oil hardening steel in water it will crack. Air hardening steels are expensive and relatively rare so I always quench in oil. Most water hardening steels will harden in oil. IF you have slightly overheated the steel then the oil quench is also less likely to crack the steel.

Most blacksmiths will heat the steel until just above where it becomes non-magnetic (~1450°F) and then quench it. Tool steels need to be warmed (just a little too hot to handle) slowly before putting in the forge to heat for working or hardening. Then you want to quench in warm quenchant on what's called a "rising heat". This means you don't want to overheat, then wait for the temperature to come down (falling) when you quench. When quenching in oil it takes a gallon or more for a common hammer head. The oil is relatively low density so it will heat up a lot and you will need more oil or to wait several hours before quenching another item.

The cleanest oil to use is mineral oil (like 'baby' oil). It is used commercialy by bakeries in bulk (as well as cooking oil - do not use that). Then AFT is fairly clean. I do not recommend motor oil due to the additives and the resulting noxious smoke. USED motor oil is worse. It contains everything from fuel to heavy metals from inside the engine.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 14:53:54 GMT

Springyness: Olle, Deflection and springyness in all metal components is measured by the "modulus of Elasticity" (also called Young's Modulus) or 'E' in most formulae. For all carbon steels this value is very nearly the same. In English units:

E = 29,000,000 (28.5 to 30 is the range for all steels)
G = 11,000,000 (torsion value)

It is a little different for very high alloy steels like stainlesses.

So, if you are designing a spring you disregard hardness (to start). The calculations on deflection are done using E or G. THEN you look at the stress in the part. If the part is not stressed above the yeild point (for the type/hardness) of the steel then there is no problem. Mild steel springs a long way before it bends. However, it does bend. IF you make the part from a stronger steel then you can spring or flex the part further before it bends.

The curious thing is that the mild steel spring flexes the same amount as the high carbon spring for a given amount of load. That IS, up until the softer part yeilds taking a permanent deformation.

SO. If you make a mild steel spring and it works, then there is no point making it out of "better" material. When you get into "better" material then things get more complicated as you are approaching the point where the yeild point becomes closer to the ultimate failure (breakage) point. Then the calculation include poisons ratio and other things I always have to look up and restudy to make the calculations. . .

For the most part we deal with hardened and tempered steels in the high performance range. It takes a LOT less steel to make a spring from a heat treated carbon steel than from a low carbon soft steel. The range of the spring is also much greater. But in applications where we don't need that high performance why complicate things?
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 15:30:25 GMT

I beg leave to invite one and all to hoist a glass and raise a hearty cheer for the Guruissimo, for whom no question is too arcane, too complex, nay, nor even too dumb but that he will not pause in his own mighty labours to try to help the questioner out of his or her pickle. Here, then, is to Jock Dempsey, with deep thanks, for a year's hard work, and to him and his folk and to all the smiths out there working-- and those merely lurking, too-- the merriest of Christmases and happiest of new years yet, a happy holiday and a bright and prosperous New Year!
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 16:07:09 GMT

Tomahawks: Partick, take a look on our iforge page. Reread "Getting Started".

The top bladesmiths today have Masters and Doctorates in metalurgy and engineering. Those that don't have "papers" are very well educated on their own on a wide range of topics.

The most efficient way to chop up (relatively) heavy steel is with oxy-acetylene equipment. The most efficient way to stick two pieces of steel together is with arc welding.

I think that after trying to make something in steel you will find that there are a lot of tools you never thought you needed. Order some of the knife making books mentioned above. Even the "stock removal" guys use torches and have a lot of machinery.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 16:18:43 GMT

New Scientist: Hard to get these stupid on-line periodical pages to hold still. . Hit STOP as soon as it loads. THANKS for the ref though. . .

says archaeologist Gerry McDonnell of the University of Bradford. Saxon blacksmiths in the Dark Ages developed the same sort of high-quality steel that made Sheffield famous during the Industrial Revolution. The finding "turns the conventional idea about early iron-making on its head", he says.

. . .the discovery of small steel ingots and steel-edged knives in Hamwic, a Saxon port buried under Southampton, proves that blacksmiths made "Sheffield" steel in the middle of the Dark Ages.

Some archaeologists doubt the Saxons had the technology to reach temperatures high enough to melt iron and produce high-quality steel. The blast furnace was not introduced to Europe until. . .

These guys need to work in a forge shop buring charcoal for a year or two. . .! Idiots! But that is the problem with most of our technological history. "HISTORIANS" and "archaeologists" are not technologists (much less experts on primitive technology). You can achive a high enough temperature to melt steel in a Hibachi blown by lung power! OR a hole in the ground blown with a bellows. . IDIOTS!

Even worse is that early lingusists that translated ancient documents (that no longer exist) were of the same ilk. If they personaly didn't understand some process or method they would disregard it, mistranslate it or replace it with their frame of reference. Much of this misinformation is repeated today by even more historians . . .

I'm not sure I believe this guys assumptions about the process in use. It would have to be proven experimentaly. What he describes is too close to the puddling process which produces pure iron (not steel). However, I know for a fact (I've seen it) that small bloomery operations do not always produce pure iron or cast iron but can produce a whole range of odd steels mixed with cast and wrought. This hard junky stuff can be reforeged into something quite usable. The Japanese sword smith does it in a controled logical manner and has excelent results. But there is no reason that a bloomery operation couldn't produce a consistantly "trashy" bloom that when reworked by forging and "folding" that the resulted in a consistantly good steel. When you consider the tens of thousands of small furnaces that operated over the millenia the probability of it happening over and over is very good.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 17:01:50 GMT

Jock, I posted this on the members forum - then, thought others might need the answer, also. so here it is again. Thanks, Jacque.
STEEL FOR FORGING - I've found a local company here in Dallas called King Architectural Metals (www.kingmetals.com).
Their website is pretty weak, but, you can get an idea of some of their procucts from it. Amongst all the stuff they sell, they
have solid round, square and flat steel bars in a multitude of sizes at about 35 cents/#. For the convienence of
one-stop-shopping (rather than running around junk yards) the price sounds good to me. They claim their steel is "ASTM
A5-13 pickled in oil" and suitable for forging. (I never heard of it, before.) Comments on this steel and pricing from the crowd
will be most welcome.
Jacque  <jacqueeagonsr at netscape.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 17:39:40 GMT

Where can I get a sheet of copper about 30 inches by 60 inches by 1/4 inch? and what should I pay?
Andrew Isaac  <aisaac at co.humboldt.ca.us> - Friday, 12/22/00 17:45:23 GMT

King Supply: Jacque, I've been trying to get King as an advertiser for a long time. . They are primarily a component dealer. I would have to compare their pricing to local wharehouse prices to tell if it were a good deal.

Almost all steel service centers sell square and round bar of almost all sizes. 1/4" hot square is no longer available unless you buy an entire rolling. But we all get along well with cold roll in the sizes that are not available in hot which is cheaper.

The big problem for the small smith is availablility of small quantities of stock. Most wharehouses have a minimum cash sale ($50-$100) . . however, the last time I took cash to my local supplier it was $800 and they said they didn't like to handle that kind of cash, normally they would take my check but this time they said they wouldn't. . . The steel was cut and ready to laod. I asked them if they were in business or not? I've done business elsewhere since. Some businesses don't get it.

For the most when it comes to forging mild steel is mild steel. A5, A36. . 1018. All the same. Ocassionaly there are quality problems in cheap hot roll (cold shuts, micro fractures) that result in spliting but working HOT generaly avoids these problems. Pure iron and good wrought are truely different to work. With mild steel you live with what is available.

Find a good local dealer if you can. If you can afford lage stock orders by truck then shop around. If King is local to you then GREAT.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 18:19:16 GMT

145.66# 101 Copper: Andrew, McMaster-Carr has sheets of 1/4" up to 24" x 48" (810). They have 3/16" up to 36" x 48" and 36" x 96" ($773). Note that copper is often sold like silver and gold by the current market price.

www.principalmetals.com Also lists heavy copper plate.

Why so heavy?
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 18:40:32 GMT

Jacque: I missed the point that King IS local to you. Thats great. Most of us deal with steel service centers or local welders that deal with the service centers. . .

Tell them they should be advertising on anvilfire! They spend more on weekly mailings than a year of advertising here would cost!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 18:45:14 GMT

Cracked, The toast to our favorite Guru could have been frazed nobetter!! And the wishes for the future are returned to you.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS ALL!! Don't forget the reason for the season.
Jerry  <birdlegs at keynet.net> - Friday, 12/22/00 20:03:59 GMT

Springiness: If I may add to the most excellent Guru answer, Olle, the hardness does not have anything to do with how far a given steel blade (or other steel member) will deflect under a given load. For deflection, the two controlling features of the steel are the elastic modulus (E) as the Guru said, and the moment of inertia (I).

Moment of inertia is a measure of the effectiveness of the steel section to carry the load. As an example, an I- beam can carry much more load than a square bar that has the same amount of weight of steel per foot of length. So an I -beam has a much higher moment of inertia (in the usual loaded direction) and will deflect much less than a flat or rectangular bar bent the easy way. We won't discuss stability here. So, a strong, but light blade for striking would have most of it's steel along the cutting edge and the back edge for a single edged blade. Removing material where a blood groove would be, doesn't weaken the blade much, but does make it much lighter. One could also punch holes, forge grooves, etc. But a blade must also have some stiffness bending the easy way, so there must be some section efficiency that way too. A blood groove does make a blade weaker for "prying" loads.

Or, the shorter answer is: Moment of inertia and elastic modulus control deflection. This is discussed well in Machinery's handbook. Look for "stresses and deflection in beams"

"Hardness" does come into play in how far you can bend it before it won't spring back since harder materials are also "usually" stonger.

Hmmm, now I'm thinking about hollow blade sections.... Damn, this mind can be set to wandering......

Guru, thanks for the info on rising quench for tool steels. I hope to be playing with some files next week. My biggest concern is cracking and warping in heat treat.

Thanks Cracked, Happy, safe, and healthy holidays to all.
Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 20:57:26 GMT

BEAMS: Tony, Olle Etal, It would take a little fooling with the section modulus formulae to do exact sword/blade calcs but yes, they are almost exactly like an I beam. Many swords have a thinned "web" that blends into heavier diamond shaped sections that act like the flange. The flange of the beam supports and "stabilizes" the web.

Beam calculations are based on calculus but reduced to simple arithmetic functions in most engineering references. Of course there are those of us that have Timoshenko on the shelf after having been wowed by the course on structures at Auburn. .

The point is that lightened blades have the same structure as an "I" beam and can be mathematicaly analyzed to find the optimum structure. SO, What is the "optimum" structure? Well there is a point up to where you can remove a lot of material without losing much structural strength. Over that point the beam becomes too highly stressed and is likely to shatter rather than flex. Numerical models can tell you exactly where this point occurs OR provide a graph that would let you pick the characteristics of the blade.

An additive blade model would consist of a plain rectangular section (the web), two triangular sections and the four fillets that blend the pieces together. Each of these geometric shapes have a section modulus centered on their center of gravity. These are summed for both X and Y axis for analytical purposes. Then the Modulus of elasticity we spoke of is tossed in and standard beam calcs performed that return the deflection/load and the resulting stress.

For structural engineering on cranes and buildings the rule of thumb is 10,000 PSI max stress. However, steels are often good up to over 100,000 PSI. . This is what I mean when we speak of "high performance" in steels. . .

Swordsmiths 500 years ago or so knew they could lighten a blade without hurting its strength. Today we can show how and why with mathematical certainty.

Tony, "Salt Bath"
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 21:38:22 GMT

What should one look to pay for a complete set of used blacksmithing tools? There is a comp0lete set for sale here in northern CA for $2750 including, anvil, forge, tongs, hammers, etc.
Jim  <reynoso at sonic.net> - Friday, 12/22/00 22:21:57 GMT

Complete: Jim, A "complete" blacksmith shop from the late 1800's or early 1900's would include every metal working tool you could think of up to and including a lathe, drill press, power hammer, tire bender. . . and many others.


Good used anvil $350
Good used forge $250
10 hammers . . .$180
10 used tongs . $180
TOTAL $960

Throw in a load of small brick a brack and you are up to a an even $1000. The above prices are average seen at blacksmithing meets on the East Coast. Some things are more in the West but not a whole lot.

If the forge is a huge old thing weighing 500 pounds add $100. Add $75 to $150 for a good tire bender. Add $150-$200 for a good leg vise. A power hammer may not be worth scrap or up to $3,000. Don't buy it without expert advise.

For $2700 your HD pickup should be groaning as you drive away. More hammers, tongs, anvil and set tools than you can count. .

IF the tools are relatively new (same short list) and the fellow paid $4000 new. . then tough. New tools depreciate a lot. Especialy when perfectly good used tools sell for less. A 200 year old $300 anvil in good shape is just as good or better tool than a brand new $2000 anvil. . .

If there are a LOT of tools you will need to have someone look at an inventory with accurate discriptions. Let me know it I can help further.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 23:34:22 GMT

iForge: The last demos are now posted. We need a volunteer for next week!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 23:37:17 GMT

Centaur Forge, Ltd. Had a promotional drawing for a 275# Refflinghaus Anvil today. It began at our Blacksmith Open House in Nov. We sold 100 tickets for $20 each and today the winner of the $2,095 anvil is. . . . . .. . . .. . . .Druuuum Roll. . . . . . . . ..

Rick Ingraham of 1215 Hwy 93, Victor, Montanna 59875! He was ticket number 76. We would like to Congratulate him and hope he enjoys this beautiful double horn anvil.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 23:42:53 GMT

I just want to say how much I appreciate the I forge page thanks a bundle
aaron  <ironbyaaron at yahoo.com> - Friday, 12/22/00 23:54:24 GMT

Thank aaron!: The iForge page idea was Kiwi's (Andrew Hooper of NZ) and he set it up. Bill Epps did the vast majority of the demos without which there would have been no interest. It has become one of our most popular features and eventualy will be published as a book.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/23/00 00:05:32 GMT

Guillaume --
I guess you would say I am part time in the winter months suppling local stores. I go full out in the summer at demo's. I have a trailer sent up and do the local fairs. Make money and have fun also..I am retired from the Service, now I drive school bus and full/part time smith. Have own shop and toys. Also lots of time to play..
TTYL and have a Merry Xmas and Happy New year. From all of us Canadain smiths.. PS - I have lots of snow here now..
Barney  <barney at vianet.on.ca> - Saturday, 12/23/00 02:10:51 GMT

Snow: Here in Virginia USA we are having our first "White Christmas" in many years even though it looks like it will be old snow from early this week. . .

Kiwi keeps telling me how it is in the 80's F in NZ. . .

Happy Holidays ALL.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/23/00 03:01:41 GMT

I've been smithing for all of about two months,I must say your web site has been most helpfull! There is 1 question I need to ask of you,(lol only one?) when I am drawing out the steel I often end up with something like a crease on 1 side or more,I think it might be from not useing equal hammer strokes on all sides but I'm not sure.For example,I started making one of Bill Epps' small anvils,and when I started to shape the horn,I ended up with a dish on the top of the horn.Maybe this is normal but I just don't know.
Any help is greatly appreciated!!!
John Hudson  <hi.hud at juno.com> - Saturday, 12/23/00 05:31:37 GMT

To All, A Merry Christmas, and Happy Holiday's. And to the Guru, THANKS FOR THE HELP! (The check's in the mail) . TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Saturday, 12/23/00 12:44:27 GMT


Peace on Earth, to Men of Good Will!

Nannie and Paw Paw
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 12/23/00 13:24:52 GMT

Misshapened: John, This is one of those basics we should cover in iForge but haven't.

When forging a point or drawing out small stock you should rotate the piece 90° between every blow or every other blow. When, depends on the amount the stock is reduced. A max of 20% would be about right. This takes practice and its easy to end up with stock that is out of square. Diamond shaped stock is very difficult to work and to fix.

It is best to practice hit, rotate, hit rotate. . . On long work it would be one pass down the work, rotate, the next pass down the work. If this sounds difficult consider that the same technique is used under a power hammer at 200 blows per minute!

When forging a round point the same technique is used. Forge a square point first rotating between each blow. Then knock the corners off making a nice octagon section, then dress those corners and it should look round.

The other thing that causes shaping problems is working too cold OR metal with a surface heat. . Practice those alternating blows!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/23/00 13:51:16 GMT

Dear Guru,
If you had a choice between a #50 Little Giant in great working order running, or a #100 pound Fairbanks with no moter and a few small presses and a fine buffolo coal forge.
Witch would you chose. The Fairbanks looks to be compleat with dies and all except for motor and belts. This is in trade for a truck witch I no longer use. What would you do.
Dan Scott - Saturday, 12/23/00 16:34:50 GMT

Oh by the way a very safe and happy hollidays to all.
Dan Scott - Saturday, 12/23/00 16:36:30 GMT

Hello. Would somebody please tell me:

1. The temperature that wood catches fire.
2. How hot wood burns.
3. The temperature that bituminous coal catches fire.
4. How hot bituminous coal burns.
5. The temperature that anthracite coal catches fire.
6. How hot anthracite coal burns.

I know that there is no exact temperature, but I would really appreciate an estimate. I recently acquired some anthracite coal, and need to know those things so that I can see what I can use it for. I do very primitive blacksmithing as a hobby. Thank you for your help.
Robert  <Robert29b at AOL.com> - Saturday, 12/23/00 17:18:12 GMT

Guru and others: Thank you for the answers. It´s nice to have what arguments for when people guestion the disigns I do more or less by instinct. ( I´m just a primitive norse iron-basher, remember?)
And Guru, if you get so mad just reading about "IDIOT" archeologists and historians then imagine having them as collegues, or worse, one of them being your boss.(GRIN)

Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Saturday, 12/23/00 17:58:37 GMT

Fairbanks: Dan, TAKE THE FAIRBANKS! It is an infinately better machine! Little Giants are popular only because there are so many of them. In general they are cranky, poorly designed machines.

Here is what the Fairbanks has that the LG does not.
  • Adjustable stroke
  • Belt Clutch
  • Seperate anvil
  • Factory brake
  • Heavy Guide System
  • Compact well designed toggle system
  • (plus 50#)
The belt clutches used by Bradley, Beaudry, Champion and Fairbanks have the advantage that the entire belt is the friction material (a LOT of area). The flat belt clutch is also much smoother and compared to the LG virtualy maintainence free.

The adjustable stroke alows you to use under die chasing tools of various types safely at high speed. Pause and readjust the stroke and you have a wailing drawing machine.

Talk to anyone that has taken time to learn to use a 100# hammer with good control (such as a Bradley or Fairbanks) and they will tell you it is easier to forge 1/4" (6.4mm) stock to a point than with a 25# pound LG. The bigger slow running hammers have more control but also have the power to do real work. In production a 100# hammer is industrial rated at 1-7/16" square stock while a 50# hammer is only rated for 1" square.

There is nothing wrong with an LG. But a Fairbanks is a much better machine. It will be worth finding a motor for and setting it up.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/23/00 18:07:32 GMT

To all behind the answering of Q's my hats off to you ....
To all a Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New year!
From The crew here at the Hot Iron Forge......
Carl - Saturday, 12/23/00 19:59:13 GMT

IDIOTS: Olle, I knew that was coming! :) You can also see why I don't work in any kind of "organization" (unless I'M BOSS). . .

In musicology (now organographia - the study of musical intruments) there is a well know quote from the Classical Greek era that "the new use of twine makes a much improved string than gut" (refering to strings for lyre and kithara). Now this quote has been translated and thought to mean exatly what the translation says. However, some questioned the logic as twine does NOT make a better string. But the mucicologists do not know how to read this translation because they realy know very little about the design and manufacturing of musical instruments AND their strings.

Gut is very limited in the weight or diameter string that can be made from it. In simple use it is only good for small strings based on the thickness of the gut and less (about 1/2mm). On an equal length string instrument such as the lyre, kithara, viols and the modern guitar that greatly limits the range of the instrument. However, gut strings are larger than 1/2mm. We all know that. We see them on modern instruments. But the musicologists don't know of the limitation because they don't know how gut strings are made and thus also don't know how to read that VERY important phrase in Greek indicating "twine is better".

Small gut strings are made from one dried piece of gut cut and stretched roughly square (width the same as thickness). Heavy gut strings are made like rope, "twining" the strings. This is done in the common rope making process while the gut is still fresh. The gut being a soft organic merges together making an apparently "solid" string. Of course like rope, almost any size can be made this way. The dried rough twined gut string is then polished, drawn through dies to size and coated with a drying oil or lacquer. If you look at heavy clear coated harp strings you can see the interface of the "rope" as refractive surfaces.

The Greek wrote that the invention of this process made superior strings! A very important developement in stringed instruments! The gut was "twined". "Twine" made from natural fibres as we know it IS NOT a superior musical instument string. It is too low of density, too rough, and none durable. The mucicologists knew (should know) that but for hundreds of years the statement has stood that the Greeks thought twine was better. . .

Strings have advanced a long way since then. To increase mass and strength fine wire is embedded in some gut strings. Modern bass gut strings are wrapped with bronze wire. They are also made with non-twined linear strands of gut and synthetic fibres that is then wrapped with wire. But plain twined gut strings can give over a full octave range on equal length string instruments and several octaves on variable length string instruments such as harps.

I can't tell an A' from a C or fortissimo from bravissimo but this lowly blacksmith knows more about the construction of musical instruments than 99.9% of "musicologists". When I first read the "twine" statement I knew it was wrong but didn't know about gut strings. It took very little research to figure out why the translation was wrong. But I had to ask first "what does this REALLY mean".

Historians in all fields need a depth of education well beyond just history. Translators and "schollars" of ancient languages need to understand the civilizations that used those languages including the technology of those civilizations. Without that knowledge words are not found in context. It is the context of words that give them meaning.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/23/00 20:08:46 GMT

Guru, thank you for all the insight and time you put into this craft and related projects for metal happy pounders like myself. I just hope that someday I can create a piece that is worthy of sharing with all of you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Scott Vickrey
Scott vickrey  <vickrey at easilink.com> - Saturday, 12/23/00 20:48:48 GMT

Coal Temperatures: Robert, Without getting into scientific details I can tell you that anthrcite is more difficult get started and to keep burning. Actual temperatures have almost nothing to do with what you need to know.

Wood and paper char at about 350°F and ignite around 425°F (I think). Coal is much more complicated and none of my references gave specifics. When fines and dust are concerned then spontaneous combustion and explosion are a problem.

How hot things burn is determined largely by the density surrounding atmosphere and the oxygen content. Atmospheric density would seem to be a trival factor but when you blow a fire with a fan or a bellows you are increasing the atmospheric density. The second factor is the size and temperature of the surrounding fire. The more surrounding heat you have the hotter the fire in general (up to the maximum). In general, coal and other carbonaceous materials (charcoal, petroleum) burn at something over 3,000°F under the right conditions (a forge). This is hot enough to melt steel and set it on fire - how hot do you want?

Anthacite is hard to keep burning because it has very low volitiles (coal oil). The high density nearly pure carbon needs a constant blast of air and a deep fire bed. Bituminous coal has enough volitiles to smoulder and burn on its own without an air blast. Pure carbon ignites at a relatively high temperature but the volitiles ignite at temperatures in the hundreds.

The percentage of moisture in your coal also makes a big difference in the ignition point as well as the BTU produced. Just like burning wood, it takes heat to turn that moisture to steam and drive it off. This cools the fire AND makes it more difficult to maintain. I always advise those that have a hard time starting a coal fire to store their coal in a dry location. It makes a difference. Most coal fired plants have a dryer where waste heat is used to drive moisture out of coal.

To use anthracite you need and electric blower (or be willing to pump or crank constantly). Stopping long enough to forge one piece is usualy enough time fro a coke of anthracite fire to go out OR lose a significant amount of heat. Then the fire bed needs to be deepar than one for bituminous. 6" minmum but +10" is best.

For working alone using a bellows or hand crank blower you need to be using charcoal or top grade bituminous coal. Anything else can be VERY frustrating.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/23/00 21:27:11 GMT

Professional Historians:

I always joke with my friend at the National Park Service, who works as a professional historian: "Amo, amas, amat: amateur! I do it for love, whereas you do it for money, so what does that make you?"

The professional is truly under a different burden. We can dabble at what we want and accumulate knowledge in a wide variety of fields, whereas the professional must dance to whatever tune is called by whoever is paying the piper. We don't have deadlines or restrictions except those imposed upon us by our own desires or circumstances. Still while some of the professionals take the attitude that they know it all, the best ones are always happy to exchange information and learn from outside sources (even us). There is hope yet! Maybe you should hunt these folk down and illuminate them. Why let them wander in the dark?

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Saturday, 12/23/00 22:57:23 GMT

Oh, I know at least a few historians that isn´t idiots! As it happens, Guru, my "landlady", or whatever you call the woman that accepts a very small rent for the smithy I treat as my own, happens to be a very good musicologist specialised in the technology of ancient sound. She has identified and re-classified several archeological finds as musical instruments, so i did some reclassification myself and made her a set of musical viking-helmets for her last birthday.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Saturday, 12/23/00 23:32:35 GMT

The Dark: I spent over a year researching and trying to enlighten someone, ANYONE in the music info publishing industry and chairatible institutions that there is almost no record of how musical instruments are made.

There are some very good books on a FEW common instruments but no general reference. The general references that exist are worthless. There are a few single old, VERY rare books that cover a few of your orchastral instruments but many instruments have never been writen about at all. Many of these instruments are made by small manufacturers or family operations that do not see any benefit in publishing "how to" or simple dimensional drawings.

This is a field that in a virtual "Dark Ages" of information in this information age. The situation is far worse than the condition blacksmithing was in 35 years ago. What makes it even worse is that in an age of corporate acquisition and merger and breakup. . There is a distinct possibility of any one of these key small family businesses selling out this year and centuries of experiance and knowledge completely disappearing tomarrow. It is a sad situation. Those in the field are the problem because they don't have the tools to be the solution. Hopefully someone better at finding funding than I picks up the chalange.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/23/00 23:46:11 GMT

Dear Guru,
WOW! Thank You so mutch for your advice about the fairbanks.
A few weeks back you made a comment along the lines of , is a hammer compleat or isent it, this Fairbanks will cost $$ to get running but I was not shure if it was worth it, compared to getting a hammer that was compleat and running. You also said to go into these deals with your eyes open and a good grip ao your wallet. (good advice ) but it sounds to me like the extra money to fix my Fairbanks up will be well spent. Thanks again. I am shure I will have more quistions when I get the thing home.
Dan Scott - Sunday, 12/24/00 00:21:20 GMT

Is there a blacksmithe in the area of southern New Hampshire?
???  <Daneil98 at aol.com> - Sunday, 12/24/00 03:01:19 GMT

How much does it cost to have a sword made?
???  <Daneil98 at aol.com> - Sunday, 12/24/00 03:04:28 GMT

Fairbanks: Dan, Just look close. If it is as described then it is a good deal. A cracked anvil cap or broken drive pulley can be expensive to replace. Other things, pins that need bushing and refitting can just be aggrevating but not a problem. Don't be afraid to take a pry bar and try to rattle the ram. It should move up and down, not back and forth. Same for the main shaft. It should rotate but not rattle.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/24/00 03:42:19 GMT

Yes, There are blacksmiths in New Hampshire.

Swords cost a lot depending on if they are a wall hanger or a collector's item. There are makers that produce works of art from meteoric iron using rare almost mystical techniques. The question is, "How much money do you want to spend?" Let me know.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/24/00 03:46:25 GMT

I am an intermediate level smith I can fairly consistantly forge weld and have a gas forge and a home made caol forge. I am in desperate need of a 3rd hand... IE. a tredle hammer I purchased a set of plans form a fellow and since have found out that it is a rather tricky one to use. So my questiion is is there a set of plane out there for a straight line tredle hammer. One where the hammer slides up and down in a sleeve. It seems rather straight foward but I could use some pictures or preferably a set of plans with demensions.
I think there is one on the marget but being a junkyard dog I'd like to make it . I am an acomplished welder and have access to fabrication mechinery.
thanks Tom Laman (the one I have seen was in the blacksmiths journal and also I think there is one called the big lick something?
Tom Laman  <tlmn at earthlink.net> - Sunday, 12/24/00 04:26:35 GMT

Tom, I faked my treadle hammer, built from junk in the yard, has worked just fine for years, every now and then I change one thing or another. Most recently I made the anvil solid all the way to the ground and it really helped a lot.
Olivers were traditionally a very varied device. Who needs plans when you have access to a junkyard...available materials can dictate design quite nicely
Pete Fels - Sunday, 12/24/00 06:49:14 GMT

JYH Hammers: Tom, Junk Yard Hammers both of the motorized type and the manual (treadle) type are as varied as the makers. Plans for a machine made from junk can only be design and engineering suggestions. Very hard to write. I've been working on such a manual for a couple years. . .

You start with what you have or you find. Then put it together with the tools at hand. Plans for a machine that assume you have a well equiped shop are easy. I used a $2,500 magnetic based drill press and a small lathe while building the EC-JYH. There was also a small but accurate cutoff saw, arc welder, oxy-acetylene equip, HD angle grinder, overhead hoist and all manner of mechanics and machinists tools. Little things can make machine building much more pleasurable. Dial calipers for measuring and making layouts, dividers for laying out bolt circles, drills and taps of all sizes. . .

THAT, is the problem with JYH designs. My first forge was built a 1/4" electric drill, a hammer and a 5/8" handled punch and a few mechanics tools. This is not an unusual situation for a new smith without funds. However, not everyone is this limited. . .

Grasshopper Hammer

This is one of the more high-tech hammer plans. Very little junk yard content here.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/24/00 17:35:13 GMT

JYH Hammers (more): Tom, See our Power hammer Page for a catalog of various hammers.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/24/00 17:38:03 GMT

To all Merry Christmas. I hope that these days find all of you safe and Happy.
I know I thank the Lord every day for all that HE has blessed me with.
Ralph Douglass`  <ralphd at jps.net> - Sunday, 12/24/00 21:01:09 GMT

Christmas Bread: Many many years ago I used to bake bread now and then. I never used a recipe but have used the Joy of Cooking as a guide. Making bread without a recipe was sort of a self chalange. Consider how many millenia people made bread before writing and measuring cups. Of course from daily practice it is hard to forget. .

I was telling Kiwi about my bread making and that I might do it for Christmas. Then I looked for ingreadiants and backed up. . Well, tonight. . . I looked in the "Joy of Cooking" to refresh my bread making skills. . In the yeast bread section I found an old recipe card my wife had typed up some 20-25 years ago. "Jock's Christmas Bread". It lacks details. . . and flour was added later. . .

It requires cake or live yeast. What I found in the fridge was was a month older than the expiration date and a little moldy. . . You add cake yeast to sugur and it "wakes up" and immediately starts fermenting. The moldy block was a little lethargic so I added the second block to the sugar. It seemed more "alive" and now I feel better about sucess.

Had to go to the store for eggs and honey. Twas a good excuse to buy some more beer. I don't usualy drink much but its Christmas and my wife has left me. Anvilfire and other problems are the heart of our issues. So, I'm doing something I haven't done in 20 years. . . Making bread (the little Millers will last a week).

The oats are boiling . . . recipe next, but I've got ingrediants to mix first.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/24/00 22:26:07 GMT

An inauspicious start: In the time it took to type a couple sentences I burned the oats. . . non-conductive insulator does not disipate heat well. . . Will restart when the pan is decarbonized. . . One of the areas that my wife and I disagree about. I rarely burn things while cooking. She has made it a fine art. I believe that cooks that burn food to dish need to clean it up. . . and perhaps learn to stop burning things. Oatmeal is not something I normally cook. . . Never saw anything burn like that!

Well the pan is about half clean. Time to wear out another SOS pad. OBTW- I forgot to mention in my brass candle stick demo that SOS pads are one of the better pre polishing elbow grease methods of cleaning up the work. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/24/00 22:48:24 GMT

guru's Christmas Bread:
  • Mix 1 cake yeast with tablespoon sugar
  • Boil 2-1/2 cups rolled Quaker oats in 4 cups water 5 min. Caution, burns easily.
  • Mix 1 cup milk, 1 egg, 1/2cup honey, 1 tbsp salt.
  • Mix oats with milk and eggs in a large bowl and let cool
  • Add yeast and blend in flour until a until mix becomes kneadable then knead in flour until a silky consistancy (about 4-6 cups)
  • Let rise 45 min to 1 hour
  • Punch down, divide into loaves and place in loaf pans.
  • Allow to rise another half hour
  • Bake at 375°F for 40 min.

Results later. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/24/00 23:21:56 GMT

Seat of the pants Cooking: This recipe often had whole wheat flour used. However, using whole wheat is tricky and it should be mixed with white all purpose flour.

I added the boiled oatmeal too soon (too hot) and it looks like it cooked the egg. . So I'm adding another egg when I add the yeast and flour. Probably should append the recipe to let the oatmeal cool before adding to anything. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/24/00 23:46:02 GMT

Baking: The reason this is "Christmas" bread is that baking is a good thing to do in cold weather. Helps warms the house. The dough is rising on top of the oven that is preheating. Yep, its early but the kitchen needs to be warm for the dough to rise. Waiting is always the hard part. Especially when your yeast is doutfull :(

For all of you in NZ and Australia and other places South of the Equator "winter soltice" bread might be best. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 12/25/00 00:24:28 GMT

Yeasty: Well, The dough rose and has been "punched down" and divided. . . Baking to commence in about 1/2 hour. Photos at 11:00 :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 12/25/00 01:23:35 GMT

fresh Christmas Bread As promised, photos at 11:00.

Merry Christmas all!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 12/25/00 03:26:10 GMT

Merry Christmas, everyone. And to you Jock Dempsey a special thanks for your efforts here at anvilfire.
Mills  <mills_fam2 at netzero.net> - Monday, 12/25/00 04:59:06 GMT

And the bread looks delicious. send slice or loaf and I'll do QC for you.
Mills  <ditto> - Monday, 12/25/00 05:01:25 GMT

Well Guru I must say that bread looks great! I'm a bit of a yeasty (get it?) fellow myself.
Hope thing look up for you, hang in there, we're all pulling for you.
Thanks for sharing with us over the past years, remember the good times, forget the bad, and look for the future to improve for all of us.
Have a beer for me, I say a toast for you in the morning.
Merry Christmas
Sleep well my friend, and may all your gifts bring joy.
Moldy  <later> - Monday, 12/25/00 07:41:16 GMT

Merry Christmas Jock,
Thanks for anvilfire. Without it I would never have made the great strides I have in the art of Blacksmithing.
Looking foward to another great year of this web site. And much thanks to all who contribute and share their knowledge.
Mark  <dilligaf at net1plus.com> - Monday, 12/25/00 13:47:32 GMT

Merry Christmas y'all!

I found Anvils in America by Postman under the tree courtesy of the Wif and via Anvilfire. No work at the forge today!

Jock: I can almost smell that bread cooking. Oh; the Wif is cooking breakfast right now! Well, here's to the upcoming millenium (for us pedantic sorts)! Hope this missive finds all healthy and happy and full of hope. Thank you, Jock, for the hard work and wise advice this year. It's an honor working with you and the rest of the folk here at Anvilfire.

Bright and icy cold on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come have a row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Monday, 12/25/00 15:53:42 GMT


There was a tremendious amount of work that was needed
to get Anvilfire up and running, and even more work to
keep it running. You have provided both.

You have taken time from your friends, your family,
your work, and your blacksmithing to fix, tweak, and
improve Anvilfire.

I very much appreciate all you, and those who have
assisted you, have done.

Happy Holidays to you and yours. And Thank you for
the gift of Anvilfire.

Ntech  <Blackstoneforge at yahoo.com> - Monday, 12/25/00 16:50:33 GMT

Dear Guru,
I hope this day has found every one you love warm and safe and full of good cheer. I have to say I agree with all that have found this page of great help and intrest every day of the year. Thank you. I to found a copy of Anvils in America under the tree, what a wounderful book. I will hold all my questions about my new Fairbanks until tomarow PEACE!
Dan Scott - Monday, 12/25/00 17:17:18 GMT

hope things go well for you and your wife Guru. and have a GREAT Xmas and that goes for everyone here.

Waaaay of topic. does anyone know where I can find a used working marine sextant, preferably metal and in good condition?
I have tried marine links and such but only found new ones. I could make one but as it requires a precision of less than 0.00078 of a degree it is way of the scale macine wise for me. a normal dividing head is waaaay to rough for those gears.

sorry for the of topic thing Guru. and thanks for a great forum.
OErjan  <pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Monday, 12/25/00 17:57:15 GMT


Let me add my bit of praise to Jock and the rest of the Anvilfire team. 2000 was a better year than it would have been because of all of you.

Happy Holydays!

Paw Paw
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 12/25/00 19:32:11 GMT

mr. guru,

i work on aircraft sheetmetal for a living and i was wondering if you have seen a junkyard hammer design for working sheetmetal. i am slowly building a work shop to work metal at home. my main piece of equipment (besides the standard stuff) is an old chicago pneumatic pedestal mounted planishing hammer. it's a great tool but is limited by it's 12 inch throat. i hope you can help me out.

thanks mr.guru,

mark  <snoopmarkymark at hotmail.com> - Monday, 12/25/00 19:53:51 GMT

Merry Christmas to All! And thanks for the help in the past and future. I've got a long way to go, but I know that I'd be no where near where I am without the help from this site and those on it. Jock, Thanks for the site, and the bread recipe. :) You know your efforts here are well appreciated. Even if thanks is easier not to type sometimes.

Let's make 2001 even better! I look forward to continuing the journey!

Sextant: O Erjan, you might try asking around at maritime museums. Seems like older sailors help out at the museums around here (East central WI) and they at least could keep their ears open. I'll ask for you. Do you have a dollar limit? If you don't hear from me, I struck out.
Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.com> - Monday, 12/25/00 21:44:47 GMT

Where can I get the recipe for Gunter Quench?
Gene From Mass  <sahr at shore.net> - Monday, 12/25/00 23:01:55 GMT

need to know about smith arc welder
john  <greymulerunning at aol.com> - Monday, 12/25/00 23:31:59 GMT

Sextant: Nifty item. I've seen them in seashore area antique shops and such (not near here). Lets all keep an eye open for one.

Sheet metal Hammer.Mark, we have photos of Peddingill hammers on the Power hammer Page. They are largely fabricated frames and the ones shown have needed stabilization. In our ABANA Flagstaff NEWS coverage there are photos of a deep throat air chasing and planishing hammer. Using hand held air hammers in thsese lighter duty applications is much cheaper than scrounging an air cylinder and then buying $200 worth of valves to make it reciprocate.

The Peddingell hammers use a standard power hammer mechanism scaled down to short stroke and light ram weight. A bow spring linkage is the most common for this but others will work (not the shock absorber linkage, it floats at high speed).

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 12/26/00 04:32:15 GMT

Super Quench: Gene its been posted on our V.Hammer-In several times. Check the archives.. . . yeah I need to post it.

Smith WelderJohn, I'm sure they make many types. Post a type/model and description and someone here probably can help you but not without specifics. I believe they have a web page too. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 12/26/00 04:38:02 GMT

Thanks to ALL: for the many complements. Peace and Love!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 12/26/00 04:39:22 GMT

For He is a jolly good Guru
For he's a jolly good....
oops, thats next week.
Thank you for all this Jock!
P-F - Tuesday, 12/26/00 05:22:25 GMT

Exaulted Guru..I just want to echo the thoughts and compliments written above. It is difficult to find proper words to explain how important Anvilfire has become to blacksmithing and to each of us who come here seeking knowledge...A hardy thanks for the work you do to keep everything up and running..and not to forget Kiwi and everyone who demonstrates in the i-forge..Have a healthy and prosperous new year everyone.
R. Guess  <RanDGuess at aol.com> - Tuesday, 12/26/00 16:34:20 GMT

Thanks Tony, id appreciate if you could do that. dollar limit eeeh about 250-350$i guess.
as a new cost around 450$ it better be a great one for 350$.

What I am looking for is a marine METAL sextant with micrometer drum and a 2 to 4 power scope.

Ive found two. one was ruined as the ¤%¤¤%¤& guy had polished it with an abrasive cloth, the arm made a distinct clicking sound not good in a sextant (needs less than10 seconds of arch to be reliable). The other had been left to corode solid :-(
OErjan  <pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Tuesday, 12/26/00 18:41:09 GMT


I know that this type of question is very common, but please bear with me. About 45 years ago, I learned a bit of blacksmithing one summer from my Grandfather. I was 10 years old and could swing his small hammer. Learned a little about tempering, etc. I have naturally forgotten most of it. Recently, my uncle gave me my Grandfather's old forge, tools, machinist vice and a bucket of "pea" coal. He had sold the anvil (naturally). All the equipment had been setting oustide for several years. I have gone through and gotten everything freed up so that I can start seriously cleaning and reassembling. I am confident that all the equipment will be usable. My main concern is the forge, or more precisely the blower to the forge. It is a handcranked blower that says "David Cummings, July 24, 1888, No. 1, pat reg." and a few other obscure markings. The bronze gears are all in good shape, but the cross shaft bushings are pretty well worn. All the blades on the turbine wheel are in good shape as well.

My Grandpa always said with a great deal of pride that he was a toolmaking blacksmith for the oil field boys and didn't ever have to look at the back end of a horse or mule. If I get that far, I would also like to be able to say with some conviction that I too am a toolmaking blacksmith.

Is this forge a good one for my intents? Is it worth putting bushings etc. into in order to make it top notch, or am I putting good money into a bad deal? I am in good health, but fairly overweight. Would you consider this a factor in what I intend to do. I have already lifted the 100 lb machinist vice onto the workbench and taken it apart, so I know I can heft it.

Any advice or comments would be welcome.

Dave Carriker  <spielzeug at terraworld.net> - Tuesday, 12/26/00 20:44:35 GMT

Weeell, I wouldn´t dream of giving medical advice, but I think "...good health, but fairly overweight." could describe a lot of active blacksmiths, who work hard but often stand still in one place. My own appearance would be that of a very small gorilla. Including gorilla-belly.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Tuesday, 12/26/00 21:27:11 GMT

Blower: Dave, if the gears are fairly quiet and feels smooth as you turn it then it is probably worth re-bushing. In most cases the gears wear out and there is no help for this as most are made onto the shafts and are special sizes. Hand crank blowers are no longer made but if they are the price would make the old ones all worth rebuilding except for gears.

That machinist's vise may SEEM indestructable but it is far from it. While looking for an anvil keep a lookout for a good leg vise. Blacksmiths vises are forged wrought iron and steel or all steel. They are designed specificaly for being pounded on. Machinists's vises are cast iron or ductile and will not withstand a lot of pounding. The are designed to hold work while it is being chisled or filed on.

The probelem with blacksmithing is that it is static/stress work. There is little aerobic activity to it. You work hard, sweat a lot but rarely do anything to make your heart beat faster (except occasionaly dodging some heavy object). Being capable of heavy lifting just means you haven't hurt your self yet. I've shlepted 100 - 200# anvils around but no more. I'll find a work around for anything over 30-40 pounds. If you are worried about being healthy enough to work in a forge shop then speak to your doctor.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 12/26/00 22:22:08 GMT

I am putting together a forge (coal type) to play around on and got an old Champion Hand-cranked Blower...It is/was froze up...I've managed to disasemble it.and everything is in great shape except that the drive gear(one with the handle) has a tooth missing....is there anyway to repair this gear or will it hurt anything to use as-is?...gear is made of cast iron.....only got 20bucks in it with stand and all......any info would be appreciated.....Thanks
Mikey  <pbrs at 1wv.com> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 01:06:28 GMT


Thanks for your rapid and timely response to my questions. While I was out in my shop this afternoon, a friend dropped by to look at my new/old equipment. He mentioned that a local casting company had moved to a new location and left behind a huge pile of coke. He is sure I could get as much of it as I might want. Would this be a shortcut to using coal. My understanding is that what is actually done is to convert coal to coke in the forge. Or am I full of beans? Is this a deal?

Dave Carriker  <spielzeug at terraworld.net> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 01:41:30 GMT

Broken Gear Tooth: Mikey, That missing tooth will cause the others to wear rapidly. This type of gearing can have the tooth built up brazing and then carefully filed to match the others. Its picky time consuming work but it can be done.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 02:02:09 GMT

Foundry Coke: Dave, Foundry coke is made from both coal and petroleum and is made to be much higher density than natural coke. It is also in large hard to break up lumps. Generaly it isn't considered suitable for forge work. You CAN break is up into gravel size lumps and make it semi-usable. Coke is good fuel but it takes a small coal fire to get it burning and requires a constant air blast to keep it burning (no bellows or hand crank blowers).

In the forge bituminous coal "cokes down" as the volitiles burn off. This results in a low density coke that contains some volitiles. It burns very hot and it what the core of a coal fire is made of. For some operations such as forge welding smiths collect the coke from the fire and set is aside and then build a large coke fire for that extra high temperature fire. There is a huge difference in the character and performance of natural forge coke and foundry coke.

If the coke is free for the taking I'd haul it all away. It is still good for small foundry operations and possible trade material.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 02:16:42 GMT

Answer please!

From living treasures, I seek the differentiation between Damscus - and Samuri steel? . . . . . . How many layers or additional ingots differentiate the 2 according to today's 'knowledge'?

- Richard the LionHeart vs Saladin the Kurd (why is there not a Kuridstan? Because there is Islam: I submit to One God, whoever She may be -

With best wishes, I remain

Yours truly,

Harry Hillman Chartrand
Cultural Economist & Publisher
Compiler Press

Harry Hillman Chartrand  <h-chartrand at home.com> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 03:39:27 GMT

Is passivation the correct term for describing the surface scaling that occurs on stainless after forging?
steve  <e26fish at aol.com> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 06:57:53 GMT

Where is Richard Burton when we need him?
I cant help but feel that Harry should just know the answer.
PF - Wednesday, 12/27/00 07:08:28 GMT

Usually Passivation is a process use on stainless steel parts to remove any trace of carbon steel on the surface after machining or cutting operations.

Any cutting tool will leave minute parts of itself behind on the work.

If the tool leaves carbon steel behind it will start the stainless to rusting or at the very least discolor it.

If it rusts down in a sharp corner of the part it can lead to a stress riser or weak place in the part and perhaps cause it to fail.

I think you might be referring to De-carburization?

Moldy Jim  <later> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 07:56:04 GMT

If I understand your question correctly, (It's not very clear to us uneducated blacksmiths)(snicker)You are asking for the difference between contemporary made "damascus steel" (properly termed Pattern Welded or Laminated Steel)and the Famed Wootz Damascus steel of the mid-east, and the difference between them and Japanese Mokume style damascus.

Wootz steel is completely different than pattern welded steel, it is a special process that isn't completely understood as of yet. But there are many far better references on the web than I can give you. Search for Wootz and you will find it.

Pattern welded steel is made of as many or as few laminations as the maker wishes to use to produce his pattern and qualities for the piece.

Japanese steel (Mokume or wood grain steel) is made up of steel usually refined from black sand in a special foundry.
It creates a raw steel mixed in carbon content and needs further refinement thru forge welding to produce the proper carbon content and alloy properties. Again the number of lamination depend on the needs of the smith and the finished product type.

Your best bet would be to research each type of steel yourself, it's all there on the web.

Moldy (I hear you PF)
Moldy James Esq.  <still later> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 08:14:21 GMT

Damascus vs. Samuri Steel: Harry, Today's 'knowlege' of these materials is far beyond that of the ancients that created them and is based on scientific fact rather than myths and old wives tales. Although in the case of Wootz we know little about its history and have a few gaps in the technique of manufacture we understand several process and can probably reproduce it given enough resources. Although there has been a great deal of research on the subject of Wootz and a few have tried to reproduce the process they have not been funded to the extent necessary to produce both material and clear answers. The answers are ready for anyone willing to pay for a year or so of R&D.

Most of Moldy's response is correct.

First, you will find a great deal of confusion in the modern use of the term "Damascus". Today there has been a tremondous rebirth in the process of producing laminated and pattern welded steels. These are erouneously called "Damascus" by almost everyone. Pattern welded steels had their beginnings in multi steel swords of medieval Europe and most likely much earlier. In the 1700's there was a great deal of work done in an attempt to reproduce the mythical "Damascus" steels. Today's smiths produce a laminated product that is sophisticated in the extreme and is of the highest art. Blends of alloy steels are used that require intimate scientific knowledge of metals and their heat treatment. See the web page of our grandpa Daryl Meier MEIER STEEL for examples.

True Damascus or Wootz is a crucible product. The metal was produced by a complicated decarburazation and crystalization process from cast iron in small sealed crucibles. In 1982-84 Wallace M. Yeater published the first definitive article about the Indian process in the Anvils Ring the Journal of the Artist Blacksmith Accociation of North America. The product was still being made in India when the British arrived. Yeater's article includes metalurgical studies of billets brought from India that were in the posession of the British Museum. It is thought that Damascus, Syria was mearly a trade center where Wootz from India was sold. However, last year, new evidence from Turkey indicates that the process may have been used there aprox 1,000 years ago. In any case it is a very old process. The material itself is actualy a very poor product compared to modern steels but being one of the first steels many myths grew up around it that are in fact just that, myths.

The fact that Wootz is a crucible product is often confused with the later invention of "Crucible Steel" that is atributed to Huntsman. The processes and resulting product are not related in way metalluricaly.

There are several methods of making Japanese sword steel and the "one true method" is actualy defined in Japanese law. Much of the method is based on culture and religion and true Japanese swords cannot be made by anyone not of the proper family, trained in the traditions AND using specific local materials. However, the techniques are well known and can be accurately reproduced.

Japanese sword steel is a product of the forge and starts with small lots of wrought iron made using charcoal and a "special" iron sand ore. Some of the iron is carburized in a charcoal fire then melted. The solidified lump is removed from the forge and quenched to freeze the crystal structure. This is then broken up and the crystal structure of the pieces studied by the smith. Good steel and bad are seperated. The good pieces are then piled on a slab of wrought iron and fluxed with clay and rice hull ashes. This is then heated in the forge to a welding heat and forged into a solid mass. This bar is then drawn out, cut into pieces and welded into a billet again. This is continued until the bar is of near uniform consistancy, the hard steel mixed with the soft.

"Folding" is often used to describe this process by the ignorant. Counting the number of "folds" is also misunderstood by the those that assume high numbers of layers is better. Popular literature, televison, dealers and others continue to tell the gullible what amounts to myth misrepresented as metalurgy. Today we are overun with pseudo science and this field one of the worst.

So, There are three steels to differentiate, Damascus Wootz, Laminated Damascus and Japanese sword steel. To complicate matters both Wootz and Japanse sword steels are used in pieced and laminated steels. High art Medieval swords were made using imported Damascus and local Wrought iron as well as local steels. The three were laminated by forge welding to take advantage of the characteristics of each and to produce a work of art. The Japanese go even further producing Mokume Gane' (sp) a non-ferrous metal (brass/copper/silver) that has has the appearance of the wrought and laminated steels.

The modern bladesmith produces products ranging from simple laminated wrought iron and carbon steels to high alloy and pure nickle. A few actualy produce high art swords using metoric iron and laminated steels to produce blades of a mythical style never before produced in history.

NOTE: H.H.C., I've removed your 'signiture' lines as blatent advertising to unrelated sites.

We take these subjects seriously and don't need to confuse a question or answer with pseudo intelectual quotations unrelated to the topic. However, those that deal in myths and pseudo science love that sort thing.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 16:05:20 GMT


Personal opinion, I think you gave HHC far mor of an answer than his arrogance (that is NOT mis-spelling) deserved. Your patience with fools is extraordinary!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 16:33:28 GMT

Nic W  <ruth.westermann at theseed.net> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 17:13:39 GMT

I have a few years experience but not much with blade making, my question is to do with quenching mediums, as i understand it the higher the boiling point of the medium the slower or softer the quenching action is, some of my books rate brine solutions as having a higher boiling point and therefore a softer quench (at least in the core of the steel ) others say brine is the hardest quench? if the latter is true i can understand why salt is an essential ingredient of the super or soap quench, if not why is it in there?
Nic W  <Ruth.westermann at theseed.net> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 17:20:27 GMT

Mystical Steels:

A few years back at one of the museums here in Washington, DC, they displayed, among other artifacts, the sword of a moorish leader from Spain before the Reconquista. I was expecting to find the "watered" pattern of wootz steel. Instead, I found the running wolf of Solingen, Germany. The wootz may have been wonderful stuff, but the output of European armsmakers before 1492 must not have been too shoddy, either.

The January Scientific American has a short (and to me somewhat disapointing) article on "Damascus" steel. Worth the $5 price, I guess, but a little cursory for my tastes. No link from their web site, at present.

Cold and overcast on the banks of the Potomac. Yesterday the office didn't even get to 60 degrees f. before noon (w/ two space heaters) and I worked in my hat and coat. Much better today for the work of the Republic.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Row (and maybe sail) with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 17:28:45 GMT

Quenchants: Nic, There are several variables in quenchants. Density and conductivity are the two most imporatant. Then boiling point but that has little to do with practical use.

Water has a high rate of energy transfer and is of higher density than oils. Adding salt increases the density and the boiling point of water making it a more severe quench in several respects. Brine is a more severe quench than plain water.

Oils have a lower density and because of their viscosity transfer heat at a lower rate than just their slightly lower density would indicate. Oils like other quenchants should be used warm but oils have the added problem of a flash point. Oils must be warm but used in quantity OR cooled to prevent over heating. Large oil quenching tanks have water filled heat exchangers and radiators to get rid of excess heat.

The most severe quenchants are liquid metals and "super quench". These have little practical use except for hardening "mild" or low carbon steels that are normaly not considered hardenable. Super quench should never be used on medium or high carbon steels. My personal experiance is that the same results can be achieved with ice water or cooled brine.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 19:10:16 GMT

Guru, For my information, what part did I get wrong?
I tried to keep it short, did I leave out too much?

I refered to Wootz as being less than completely understood, because I feel if it takes high tech furnaces and computer controls to make it, it can't be the same material as the original stuff.
To my knoweledge no one has been able to replicate Wootz in a traditional way.

I did simplify the Japanese technique somewhat also.

(I mean no disrespect or disagreement, I'm just courious)
Moldy  <yet later still> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 22:03:19 GMT

Wootz: Moldy, You didn't get anything wrong except we know a lot more about Wootz than you indicated. I'm not sure of the specific techiques used but several folks have been reported to have attempted to have made Wootz by the traditional process as described in Yeater's article and some others. I'm not sure how afar from "traditional" methods they used.

My feeling is if you use the same type crucibles everything outside of that is more or less fair. Modern temperature controls would mearly replace a generations of learning packed into the lifetime of the Ironmaster that ran the furnaces and judged the temperatures by eye. The advantage of modern temperature controls is that you are not guessing at critical temperatures and actual scientific research can be done (and results accurately reported). Unless you have a liftime to reproduce the original conditions by trial and error this is the only sensible method.

Unless you are using fuels that produce temperatures higher than a charcoal or wood fired kiln then the type of furnace is irrelevant. Ancients built their furnaces using refractory clays just as we do today. Permanent kilns and ancient furnaces had air preheat passages, combustion chambres seperate from the work area and diffusers to produce an even heat. So who's furnace is the most sophisticated? The ruins found in Turkey suggest that a huge part of the operation was manufacturing crucibles. The processes used in India also suggested this would be so. This means that not only does the operation require iron and steel making skills but pottery and knowledge of refractory clays.

Modern furnaces use ramping controls to replace what would have been the huge mass of the ancient earth insulated furnace which would have provided very controlable cooling rates spread over days if necessary.

IF, the point of producing the material is to reproduce every part of the method then that is different. There is a place for that too. But there would be much less chance of failure if there was a complete understanding of the process before trying to reproduce it using "primitive" methods.

I have helped compact a wrought iron bloom by hand. We did not finish forging it by hand but we could have done so using a team of strikers. Before water powered tilt hammers (which probably date much earlier than anyone thinks) this is how it was done. Lots of manpower. Today an air or motor driven hammer would do the same job. So is the product any different? Does doing it the hard way make it any more of a traditional product? For what a used forging machine costs I could hire a team of laborers for a week. Would the product produced in that time be any better or different?

As far as my answer being more verbose than perhaps was deserved, as you hinted we humble "blacksmiths" had been insulted by a rather snobish statement that as "modern's" we did not understand the methods of the past. I also didn't want to turn this over to other Internet sources because many of those repeat the old myths as fact. I like to think that we report factual methods, debunking many myths.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 12/27/00 23:48:26 GMT

I am about finished building my side draft hood that this page helped me design. You recently recommended I spray the inside with a cold galvanizing coating. You said CRC makes it. I searched the internet and only found ZRC that indicates such a product. However, I cannot find a distributer in Phx area. A week ago I sent them an Email to ask for distributers and no response. Do you know where this cold galvanizing is available from?
doug  <dendrud at earthlink.net> - Thursday, 12/28/00 04:27:26 GMT

As always, The guru is right.
What I should have said is the processes used by the ancients aren't completely understood by the majority of metalurgists.
I guess what I was trying to say is to recreate the material with modern equipment is one thing.
But that does not truly explain how the old masters did it. So there is still some information missing or being held back.
If the product is truly the same it then works for me, but some of the information I have seen says it's not all true Wootz that is being manufactured today. Even some of the older swords aren't true Wootz type steel. So there is some variation in the compositions and qualities.

I should say even if H.H.C. was talking tongue in cheek, I at least, do think of the Guru as a living treasure.

So Thanks to the Guru I have learned another tidbit to add to my arsenal.

Moldy Jim  <Ok,> - Thursday, 12/28/00 04:29:01 GMT

Hi Guru!
I am from Western Australia and I am new to metal working. I am in the process of designing a vertical drop-hammer in order to apply force at up to 90mph to baseballs to test their mechanical resistance properties. The base of my hammer will be formed by a massive steel block (1x1.5x1.5m) instrumented with strain gages. I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of any resources on the web which have pictures or designs of vertical hammers which might help me in my design.
Thanx, and love your site, it's wicked.
- Rochelle
Rochelle  <saintjoe33 at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 12/28/00 04:55:05 GMT

watchout guru...she has all the signs of being a real ball-breaker.
PF - Thursday, 12/28/00 08:02:28 GMT

Pete! Baaaaaaad pun. . .

Hammers Rochelle, Our Power hammer Page has images of dozens of types of hammers. I'm not sure your design model is right for testing basballs. That anvil block is designed to hold still. A very high percentage of the energy goes into whatever is caught between the anvil and the ram. The saying "caught between a rock and a hard place" kind of sums it up.

If you are accelerating the ball toward the anvil and only the mass of the ball is involved then that is something different.

Power hammer mechanisims are designed to cycle the hammer mass repeatedly at fairly high frequency. The earliest is still one of the most common. Steam was used to lift and drop the ram. Later steam was applied to the top of the cylinder to increase the ram velocity to greater than falling via gravity and increase the efficiency of the machine.

For your application I would use an air cylinder to push the ball. To get the high velocity at low force you may want to use a lever arm to get more velocity than the cylinder alone can provide. The simplest method would be to use an air cannon and fire the balls at the anvil. . .

Sounds like fun. Photo cells to time the velocity. High speed cameras to observe the test. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 12/28/00 15:00:00 GMT

Guru: please help... I'm in need of a supplier. What I'm looking for is someone who carries annealed strip metal approx.3/8 X 1/16 and 1/2 x 3/32. I can order 36" strips from a company in MN. but they order from over seas and that is as long as they get. If you know of any outlets please let me know. I am using it to make small light scroll work as well as twisting it and I would prefer not using the coated mat.

Thanks for your help.
Michael  <mcruder at aol.com> - Thursday, 12/28/00 15:33:04 GMT

Modern Wootz: Moldy, I don't keep up with the knife and sword publications, but yes, I would be doutful of anyone selling a material under the name "Wootz". Its a complex expensive process. After the material is processed in crucibles it is removed, split to the center and unrolled. Then it must be carefully forged to retain pattern and property. The true Wootz was a difficult material to work.

The range of techniques among modern "Damascus" manufacturers is huge. Many bladsmiths purchase billets processed by others and have nothing to do with manufacturing the material. Laminated steels are produced in everything from one-off lots to large billets that are rolled to final shape. One manufacturer, Damasteel AB of Sweden, uses powder metalurgy to create the "laminations" then forges and manipulates the patterns. The results look very much like laminated steels but are not. Metalurgicaly the grain structure is much different. Others laminate shim stock thick layers that require nothing but drawing out after the initial weld. I have seen experimental billets made using shim stock and cast iron to produce a billet that is very much like what early metalurgists THOUGHT was the method used to make Wootz. Others have made "Japanese" blade steel by forge welding pieces of cast iron into a wrought billet and laminating until they get that characteristic product (it works. . ).

There is a LOT of variety in the field and there are also a lot of dealers AND makers that represent their products in mythical terms adding further confusion. Combine this with the fiction of television shows like Highlander and a guilible public that believes pseudo science and you have a REAL MESS.

The situation is so bad that we have nitely television hucksters selling cartoonish "fantasy" blades as reproductions of historic swords and "collector's" items. "A really exceptional item at only $69.95. . ."
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 12/28/00 16:42:17 GMT

Small Rectangular Stock: Michael, McMaster-Carr lists those sizes as "Cold Rolled Round Edge Flat Wire" in six foot lengths. It is listed as "half hard temper" and is kind of pricey at $14 a stick.

This material is made by shearing plate or slitting a coil to width then running is through edge rolls that radius the edges. It is unplated. Finding annealed may be near impossible.

RyersonTull (J.T. Ryerson and Tull metals) www.ryersontull.com lists hot roll strip in 1/16" x 1/2" and .083 x 3/4" in 16 and 20 foot lengths. It would pay to look up these folks closest service center and tell them what you need. If you need sufficient quantities they may surprize you.

If I needed a LOT of this size material I would seriously look at setting up a small rolling mill and flattening round stock. Starting with cheap hot rolled round stock (1/4" or 5/16" hot round) you could either cold or hot roll this stock. Hot rolled would come off the rolls soft, cold would come off work hardened. Flattened round stock will have those nice round edges you want. It would also be possible to produce this stock cold under a small hammer like a 25# Little Giant.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 12/28/00 17:52:00 GMT

Isn't there less here than meets the eye? Aren't getting mired in semantics?
Mokume-- just a fancy name for silver-soldering, then etching, working, layers of iron or steel, right?
Baseball testing-- wouldn't any trip hammer or even a plain old Oliver work just fine to deliver the 90 mph blow to the old horsehide?
Onward into the miasma, lads, less blather and more hammering!
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 12/28/00 18:06:03 GMT

Cracked, Semantics, shlamantics. Yeah, maybem but ain't that half the fun?

Actualy there are 3 primary kinds of mokume, 2 Nonferrous and 1 ferrous. As you say silver soldering is one option for nonferrous metals, the other option is fusion mokume.

The different layers of metal are placed in a clamp system and put in a furnace slightly below the melting temperature of the stack. The metals fuse together and can be forged, twisted etc. as if they were a single piece of metal.

Mokume steel is what the japanese swords are made from.
As the guru said it is forged from various parts of the steel bloom with differing carbon contents, this is part of what gives japanese swords thier special qualities.

As has been said there is a whole lot of mumbo jumbo being passed around, kind of reminds me of the mystic pyramid and crystal crap thay used to push a while back.

As for the trip hammer versus baseball, to create the same condition as the ball would experience in play, I can't see how squeesing it between the ram and the anvil would have anything to do with real life, no matter how fast you dropped the ram.
I think the guru has it right, hit the ball with the bat, if that is what you want to test. (if the ball is going 90 mph, ant the bat is moving at speed of X the bat hitting the ball the bat must move at 90mph + X if the ball is stationary.
Make sense.
Moldy Jim  <?????> - Thursday, 12/28/00 19:50:19 GMT

Michael if you don't care how long the strips are call up a local sheet metal, fabration, or welding shop they can sell you any sise you want by shearing it off plate. if the owner is like most of the owners I have had experance with then he'll shear you off strips of his scrap and charge you next to nothing for it (good deal all around)I have been buying 1/8"/ 1/2" strips for around 6cents a pound and the only down side of the stuff is theat you have to debur it and that it gets a half twist from the shear a few secands with a wrench and a file and all is right in the world
MP  <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 12/28/00 20:01:45 GMT

i've looked through a few text books and can't seem to find any detailed information on riveting. any advice?
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Thursday, 12/28/00 23:04:27 GMT

Guru: First of all, thanks for the help on the flat rolled stock. And thanks to MD whomever you are. Next question, the wife wants to incorperate some decoritive wrought iron pieces int some furniture. She found a web sight that sells some cast alum.items but the price for them would make you think they were made out of gold... the $1,000,000 question is this... could I by just one, make an impression of it and then melt down some alum. of my own and pour a couple more by myself??? If you answered yes to this question, I would need to know what to use as a mold, what to melt the alum in, basically how to do the hole job. If you can help it would be great, or if you could direct me some place else that would help also. i just don't want to rush out and melt down some alum. cans and die of "ass"fixeation.

thanks for your help

Michael  <mcruder at aol.com> - Friday, 12/29/00 00:21:46 GMT

I have some questions about tempering metal. I know virtually nothing about metal working, but a project I have started on may require I learn something.

I know that, in general, tempering is a process whereby a piece of metal, such as steel, is made harder than it is without tempering. How is it done? It occurs to me that, although steel can be tempered, I've never heard of other, softer metals, such as lead, gold & copper, being tempered to increase their hardness. Why is that?

Finally, if I buy a standard 1/8" steel rod at a hardware store, is it tempered already or should it be if I want it to be harder than it is.

What I am doing is trying to make crutch tips (I use crutches) that I can use to walk on ice. I tried tungsten carbide chips but they are prohibitively expensive. I thought steel rod segments might work, but the ones I've been using are showing signs of wear after only a few uses, so I thought if I tempered them (or had them tempered), I might get more use out of them.

Any suggestions & ideas you have would be most appreciated. Thanks.

Larry Herman
Larry Herman  <larrryh at aol.com> - Friday, 12/29/00 00:23:42 GMT

I would like to aquire a 2x72" belt sander or a conelock sander used. I don't have much money so it needs to be inexpensive if possible. I would also like to get some plans for constructing a coal forge. I do have access to a welding outfit (and an experienced friend). Plans for constructing a belt sander might also help. I have been blacksmithing for about seven years and have done basic knifemaking as well. Thanks for your time and trouble.
Chuck Wood  <Swords109 at Juno.com> - Friday, 12/29/00 03:33:00 GMT

Can I weld black iron? I have a 40-300 amp AC electric arc stick-welder and have successfully welded several projects around the house. Now I am making a lever arm to adjust the angle of my snow plow from the driver's seat. I want to weld up some lengths of black iron plumbing from the hardware store. Any tips? Do you recommend a special electrode?
Ralph  <manhattan at mediaone.net> - Friday, 12/29/00 03:33:05 GMT

Larry, I think a little clarification is in order. What you are talking about is hardening, not tempering. Tempering is a modification of hardness of the steel done AFTER hardening. Tempering steel removes the brittleness caused by hardening and makes it more durable.
Steel is hardened by heating it to what is called the critical temperature, the steel becomes non-magnetic at this point. The hot steel is then cooled rapidly with diferent techniques depending on the alloy. This in a way "freezes" the steel crystals in the proper relationship to make the steel harder. At this point the steel is as hard as it can be made, unfortunatly, it is also very brittle, and full of stresses from the rapid cooling. If this stress isn't relieved, the part could crack or break.
By heating the part to a lower temperature say, 400 deg. you will relieve the stress and slightly soften the steel.

The reason steel will harden is that it is really an alloy of Iron and carbon, for without carbon, Iron will not harden. The carbon allow the iron crystals to form differently than pure iron will. This difference allows the crystals to "interlock" and makes the steel stronger. This is a very simplified version of a very complex subject, if you want more detail you should look for some information on metalurgy, there are numerous textbooks and complete libraries on the subject. If you want more, go ahead and email me, just remove the extra .nospam from my address.

The rod at the hardware store probably has about .18 percent carbon content, you need at least .50 percent carbon to get steel to harden to a reasonable amount.

As for as your project, what about buying some cheap twist drills, they are a high speed type steel, already hard, and made from a material that is designed to be wear resistant.
The shank ends of the drills in quality sets will probably be a little softer than the cutting ends, cheap sets may be hard all the way through.

Masonry drills have carbide tips on them and they aren't very expensive.

Another idea would be to go to a tire store and ask if you could buy some tire studs, they have to be pretty cheap, heck if you go in with your crutches and explain they may just give them to you.

How about carbide scriber tips?

Iron bearing alloys are called ferrous alloys all other metals are called non-ferrous metals. Nonferrous alloy like lead, gold and copper will not harden from heat treating. They will work harden to some extent, but if they are heated they will return to a soft state.

Let us know how it works out.
Moldy  <njordan at epud.net.nospam> - Friday, 12/29/00 03:40:29 GMT

Baseballs: Ummm, as I read it, the query as posted neglects to mention anything about replicating the condition the ball would experience in play, or real life or the roar of the greasepaint or the smell of the crowd or the infield fly rule. All the lady wants to know is: "I am in the process of designing a vertical
drop-hammer in order to apply force at up to 90mph to baseballs to test their mechanical resistance properties."
A trip hammer or an Oliver, last time I looked, are vertical hammers, plans for which abound.
Sander belts: beware. Six foot belts are custom items. They can be special ordered, and the price is not exorbitant, but other sizes are much more readily available.

Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/29/00 04:09:27 GMT

Don't have everthing working yet, folks (new computer) but I'm slowly making progress.

Moldy your suggestion for tires studs is a good one. There are two different types, one with threads, and one without.

Larry, Have you thought about using golf spikes? Any store that sells golfing equipment will carry them, along with the wrench to put them into golf shoes. They probably have an old pair of shoes that they'd give you, just to get rid of them, you could salvage the femail thread from one shoe and have enough for several pair of crutches. Then when the tips wear out, just un-screw the worn out tip and screw in a new one.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 12/29/00 15:03:17 GMT

Technical Difficulties: Local Telco was broken since yesterday afternoon. . Catch up time. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/29/00 15:03:51 GMT

Black Iron: Ralph, Bad definition. Both wrought and cast iron pipe are black. Wrought pipe and ductile iron fittings can be welded. In general cast iron cannot. If welding pipe just for the heck of it (not a code application) then use an easy to use rod like E6013.

Sander Chuck, Check our links pages. Somewhere I remember setting up links to a page of belt sander plans. For free belt sanding all you need is two crowned pullies and a motor. Check with MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK on cutting speeds before building machinery. The right speed for the abrasive and the material being cut makes a juge difference in performance.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/29/00 15:13:35 GMT

Hard Tips: Larry, Moldy pretty much covered it. However, DO NOT try to harden and temper high speed steels like drill bits. HSS requires a careful temperature control, special atmosphere and quenching. Each stage must be carefully timed. Old broken taps may be better than drill bits. Drills have soft shanks and taps do not. The automotive tire ice studs are the best bet.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/29/00 15:31:24 GMT

Riveting: Coondogger, I'm going to have to call you on this one. What textbooks?

The only basic metal working texts I know of cover the subject well. Metalwork Technology and Practice published as an introduction to metalwork since 1943 (originaly by Ludwig now by McGraw-Hill) and used in thousands of schools, colleges and universities covers it including tools. So does Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing. . . its only $11 + S&H! I'm sure The New Edge of the Anvil does too. MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK covers it including half a dozen commercial head shapes and gives numbers of rivets per pound. Most structural steel books still cover riveted joints even though they are rarely used in structurals anymore.

Perhaps I should cover it as an iForge demo, but don't tell me its not in the books. . .

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/29/00 16:10:31 GMT

Guru, how long has the "english wheel" been in use, and can it be of any use in armour production?
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Friday, 12/29/00 16:39:49 GMT

thanks guru. i'll check those texts out. and if you don't mind me saying, i think that'd be a great demo. i can't speak for others, but i get a tremendous amount out of the demos covering basics, like the punch technique demo. just a suggestion (or hint). again, thanks for all your help guru.
i'm not saying i couldn't have started smithing without this site, but it definitely would have taken a lot longer and have been a lot more dangerous.
coondogger  <onehorse at mediaone.net> - Friday, 12/29/00 17:37:27 GMT

English Wheel: Olle, I don't have a clue on the history. They are used a great deal in aircraft and automotive work and I believe were invented for same. If they work on automtive panels they should work on armor. Here is a page showing a heavy duty model being used to shape 6mm (1/4") aluminium plate for a yacht. .


A search on English Wheel on Lycos come up with several good references.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/29/00 18:11:41 GMT

I was wondering if there are goodtives to coal, perhaps like charcoal or wood? If i were to use one of these alternates, would fire maintenance be different? Also are the any bulk charcoal distributers?
mike   <thexnihil at aol.com> - Friday, 12/29/00 18:32:37 GMT

Alternatives to Coal: Mike, Wood is the same as charcoal but wood smokes a LOT and if not dry does not get hot enough. Charcoal has the volitiles and water cooked out of the wood. This makes it a much better fuel. Charcoal briquetts are not the same thing. They are a product made of sawdust, charcoal, bituminous coal and a starch glue. There are bulk suppliers of real charcoal in a few locations but not many.

Other alternatives are gas and oil. Both require special forges and burners. Propane is very popular due to its availablity and cleanliness. Forges are relatively inexpensive.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/29/00 19:06:09 GMT

Chuck Wood~~beltsander plans

jerry  <birdlegs at keynet.net> - Friday, 12/29/00 19:55:48 GMT

Guru, thanks for your answer on the relative speeds of different quenchants. I have been trying to make a bill hook (am in UK) this knife has a blade about 14" by 3 1/2" it curves over to make a slight hook ( they are used for hedging) the bend at the tip being opposite to a bowie knife i have made two so far out of two different anonymous leaf springs. when i harden them they have both cracked about 1/2 to 3/4" in from the blade edge both knive had a single bevel and the blade bent in towards the beveled edge (particulary at the crack) the first quench was in cold water the second knife was in hot/warm water as you suggested this would be less severe. both knives were at a dull cheery at the bck of the blade and a carrot red at the bevel. my questions are: should i use oil for leaf spring steel as amatter of course? is the single bevel and or hook shape making the knife more likely to fracture would a double bevel allow a more even quench? in what direction should i quench the steel into the chosen liquid? many thanks again for your last reply, Nic
Nic W  <Ruth.Westermann at theseed.net> - Friday, 12/29/00 21:31:56 GMT

reading over I see I forgot to say that the cracks in both knives were roughly half way up the blade.
Nic W  <Ruth.Westermann at the seed.net> - Friday, 12/29/00 21:37:14 GMT

Cracks in Steel: Nic, This is a common problem. Thermal shock when heating, forging or quenching can cause cracking. Most common is quenching overheated steels and unevenly heated steels OR quenching in the wrong medium. Although many spring steels are rated as water quench steels I oil quench them. IF you get the desired hardness from a less severe quench then that is the right quench to use.

Direction of quench is important in odd shaped pieces such a bill hook blade. It should probably be quenched edge first with the tang or socket parallel to the quench. Quenching the curve first with its taper(s) is bound to cause unusual stresses. A quick initial quench reduces stress.

Uneven heating is also a problem and it sounds like you knew it was unevenly heated. Find a way to heat more evenly and expecialy to not overheat.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 12/29/00 22:35:14 GMT

Hi thanks for the info on the champion blower with the missing tooth......tried arc welding it,,no go.....so i took your advice and brazed it.........only problem is the gear is so small that i filled in completely between the other teeth......I'll just have to file out the tooth ( is there an easier way?) maybe a dremel tool?.....the main problem is that I still haven't got the gear out of the case.....I thought that it had a taper pin holding the shaft in...but while trying to work out with visegrips--it broke off...of course it is rusty and I'm not 100% sure that its a taper pin holding it....I can't get the gearbox from the rear fan housing and it is going to be hard to file out the tooth unless i can remove the gear...any suggestions or pointers?. thanks....
Mikey  <pbrs at 1wv.com> - Friday, 12/29/00 22:44:29 GMT

Gears: Mikey, you are going to have to get that shaft apart. Lots of WD-40 helps. If everything is rusted then degrease with carb cleaner, derust with Naval Jelly, THEN attack with WD-40 or B'laster. When the parts are really clean then see if you can figure out how they come apart.

You will need to make a template that fits over at least 3 teeth perfectly. Use it, and a file or yeah, a Dremel tool. . whatever. A scraper that fits between the teeth works too. The new tooth needs to be as perfect as possible. However, too big causes stess on the gear train and can cause wear or breakage. Too loose makes noisy gears but is better than too tight. The difference is only a few thousandths of an inch either way.

If the gear is a plain hub single spur gear (straight teeth) then you MAY be able to buy a universal gear. A machine shop will make a small gear of that type for $200-$300. Sounds pricey but that is a low dollar small shop price. Its also why no one makes those blowers anymore. They would be $1200-$1800 new. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 01:59:49 GMT

Ollie: I read a story somewhere or otherthat had the grace to answer both questions.
It went to the effect that, during the crusades most of the armorers and metalworkers went off to bother the Arabs, leaving few skilled folk to make armor for the succeeding waves of crazed believers...
The article said that the english wheel was invented to fill in the gap caused by the lack of remaining armorers...that it took less time to learn the skill of shaping curves with the wheel, thus freeing more skilled fools.
Pete F - Saturday, 12/30/00 02:08:57 GMT

I would like to know how to estimate temperatures of steel according to colors. Example: What is the temp when it is cherry red to bright red, orange, yellow and on toward white. I am using 1144 steel 1 1/4 in diameter and trying to heat treat this with an acetylene torch.
Carl Collins  <lccollins610 at cs.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 03:19:30 GMT


The problem is that there is really no objective answer to your question. We all see color's differently. What is cherry red to me might be orange red to you, or the other way around. Tempil sticks are used to test colors, and they may be the best way to teach yourself what color/temperature YOU are seeing.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 03:55:56 GMT

Temperatures: Carl, There are many charts published with the colors. I try very hard NOT to use word colors because in different parts of the world they have different values. However, the charts do little good until you find the correct ambient light to compare with the chart. In general that light is so low that you will not be able to see the chart. . . In bright sunlight a good orange heat looks like a low red to a black. . . I used to work in direct sun a LOT. Went by feel more than sight. Then there are the colors see in the dark. Is that bar I am holding in the image to the left a white heat or a yellow??? Between the banners you can see a closeup. The Kodachrome reflects the colors accurately but there is a little loss in the scan.

Light color also has a lot to do with what you see. A friend of mine has sodium lights in his shop. Yeah, those awful orange things they use in parking lots. . Everything in the shop including hot iron look black and white. . . Its worse than direct sunlight even though the light level is miserable.

Due to the brilliance of the oxy-acetylene torch you can't judge temps while being heated OR while the torch light is on the metal. Small bar needs to be heated on a preheated block or firebrick that will help stabilize the temperature while you look. Then it is not recommended to look directly at bright orange, yellow and white heats. You should wear welding goggles or flash shieleds. The intense infrared is suspected of causing cataracts. The blue of the oxy-acetylene is in the UV range too. . . I can't judge color temperature at all through those things but I always wear them using a torch. You can see the white heat and that is all that matters.

Check your welding manual or ask Tempil (Big Three Industries) for one of their charts. We have an on-line chart in progress however, it will be subject to the quality of the color reproduction of your monitor. Some although brilliant have really bad color balance. .

If you are looking for the transformation (A3) point, most smiths use a magnet. For most steels the transformation point for hardening is just above or at the non-magnetic point (about 1350°F I think). The A3 point is lower for high carbon steels and higher for lower carbon steels, the non-mag point does not vary.

Sorry I cannot be more helpful.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 04:34:01 GMT

English Wheel: Dang Pete! That pushes it WAY back. . . I wonder what kind of bearings they used? Now to find that somewhere otherthat. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 04:37:36 GMT

English Wheel: Pete, Now that I think about it the need for good bearings and other precision turned parts bothers me in regards to your story. . . We are talking WAY before the machine tool era. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 04:43:21 GMT

an armorer friend of mine was reproducing a tool he found in a old carving(dated around 1400 I think) the tool was very close to an english wheel but had 3 peice bushings (iner outer and a cover of some sort most likely rawhide) this was to be used to roll the corners and produce the basic shape
MP  <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 05:03:04 GMT

I was going through the touch mark registery, and was wondering? On your touch marks were the top two negatives and the last one positive? just a simple question.
What kind of steel did you use for your pattern? Is 4140 a good choice for touch marks and other tools such as hot cutters and punches?
I would also like to thank you and all the others for all the work you put into anvilfire. It just seems ironic that my best resource for blacksmithing information comes from a late 20th century medium(the internet).
Thanks again,
John Hudson
jph  <hi.hud at juno.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 05:41:42 GMT

I am fairly new to blacksmithing and would like to find a supplier that makes metal stamps for marking your work. I would like to mark my work with a cloverleaf and was wondering if there are companies out there that can make a metal stamp such as this. I would like to keep the size about 1/8" square. Also, what did blacksmiths typically mark their work with in the 18th century?
MZ  <mzagursky at hersheys.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 05:49:24 GMT

Good guru:
Just to hold up my end of the discussion ( not at all sure i am right).
I dont think you need precision bearings at all.. brass or even lignum vitae bushing blocks would carry the load and deal with the friction. Only the wheel crowns and shafts themselves would have to be accurate..really, the rest could be hardwood and pressure could be had by leverage .
Given a rude treadle lathe the wheels could be turned well enough to finish by hand...lapping the shafts in, then rotating the wheels and abraiding the high spots....they had the time...Many nearsighted folks like myself must have been unemployed..and disinclined to go crusading besides
Pete F - Saturday, 12/30/00 07:06:55 GMT

English Wheel: Pete, You may be right but I'm just playing the skeptic here. The actual skills and technology were available millenia earlier than the industrial revolution to make machine tools but a combination of need and invention were not quite there. DaVinci invented machines that were too advanced to be made using the tools of his time (but didn't see or understand that need). His machines were full of feed and power screws turned by gears. People have built his machines using the technology of the time but they would not have had the durability to be practical. It would be hundreds of years before they were practical. On the other hand, too much inventivness could result in charges of witchcraft or devilry and gotten one stoned. . .

The fact is the first machine tools were all built using cold chisles on cast iron and files on hand finished wrought iron shafts to produce screws. The first involute gears were cut by hand. Some machines had granite beds because stone cutters knew more about carving and finishing hard substances than metal workers. . . Strange times. The key inventions using simple methods were:
  • The precision flat
  • Involute gear
  • Precision lead screws
  • Automatic feeds.

Maudsalay invented a simple method of producing precision screws and applied them to the screw turning lathe (one screw replicated itself). Nasmyth invented automatic feeds for every type of machine tool. Both used the knowledge of the involute gear and how to make precison flats.

DaVinci and surely others before him had the inventiveness and the ideas to do these things but the world was not ready for them. There is an ancient piece of bronze clockwork that dates from the Classical Greek Era. It includes planetary (differential) gearing and is believed to be an astronomical or navigational device. It include ideas that would't be reinvented for nearly 2,000 years. We do not know who made it or what for. The history of technology is very strange and not necessarily a nice progression. . .

Mathew says you may be right. . So many tools. So much knowledge lost over the centuries. . . I'd sure like to see that engraving. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 17:24:17 GMT

Touchmarks: JPH, Like many impressions the shadows do funny things. 4140 is a bit low carbon for hot work tools. Commercial stamps are made from S-7 I believe. Mine were made from old cold chisles which were probably 1095 or something similar. See my iForge demo for details about how they were made.

For short term duty hot work tools can be made of mild steel. Many dies are done that way and my power hammer hot cut (1/4" wide square edge) is mild steel. However for most uses if you want durability one of the air hardening steels is best. S-7 is an air hardening shock resistance steel. H-13 and H-27 is used for many hot work dies but is said not to have the abrasion resistance needed for long production life in drop hammer operations where scale collects in the dies.

4140 is used by some for power hammer dies. Heavy industry uses 4150. In hot work the grade of steel has more to do with durability than the capability to do the job.

I used to be heavy into computer programming. When folks asked how you get from here to there I would tell them blacksmithing and computer disks are both about iron oxide. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 17:41:39 GMT

English wheel: Thank you all for taking an interest in my question. The arguments, for and against the contraption being pre-industrial, are much the same as the ones I thought of myself. The "wheel" isn´t mentioned in any texts I have on armour-making, but those are seldom written by people actually MAKING armour, so, who knows?
I seriously doubt the crusader-story, though. There wasn´t much plate in armour then.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Saturday, 12/30/00 19:04:53 GMT

Hi Just a word to say thanks for the info on the Champion Blower.......filed the tooth back the put the blower together....smooth as silk....thanks again......
Mikey  <pbrs at 1wv.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 19:57:43 GMT

Black Pipe -- Just wanted to point out, in case Ralph's still confused, that the "black pipe" sold for use with threaded fittings in natural gas and sprinkler systems is wrought and can be welded. It comes in sizes from 1/2" (sometimes smaller) up.
Mike  <mbriskin at erolsnospam.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 21:01:48 GMT

I just had a thought I think some one was confusing the english wheel and the ring roller for making chain mail (there is a simple exsample in The Art Of Blacksmithing I think)that would fit more with the storie ands at the time would have been a vast inprovment alowing for unskilled labor to have a larger part in the makeing of armour.
just a thought I don't have much in the way of history to back this up.
MP  <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 21:08:50 GMT

sextants-- caveat emptor: examine carefully any brass flea market or antique shoppe sextants or surveyor's compasses you might come across in your quest for such instruments. greed and avarice have in just the recent past brought forth, apparently from those clever fellows in Third World machine shops and foundries, a multitude of really nifty fakes, at first glance quite well machined and wrought-- except for those teency details that make the difference in whether they actually work or not. I've found phoney Brunton surveyor compasses in shops in Lewes, Delaware and in London, and whole tablesful of fake sextants, too. They'll look great on your mantelpiece, maybe, but they certainly will not help you navigate or help you survey. Some of the dealers themselves have been fooled and are surprised to learn the goods are shoddy, while others, if questioned, readily 'fess up that they are selling "replicas," pronounced caca.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 22:12:01 GMT

English Wheel:

My problem with its age is the number of references it is NOT in.

1751 Diderot's Encyclopedia of Trades and Industries
Oxford English Distionary
1916 Webster's New International Dictionary
1942 Audels Sheet Metal Workers Handybook
1942 Sheet Metal Workers Manual - Broemel
1949 Tool Engineers Handbook ASTE
1950-1999 Metalwork Technology and Practice
1977 Encyclopedia Britanica

Several folks mention its use in production of early automobile panels and in aircraft. The following demo from ArtMetal has some intresting points.

ArtMetal English Wheel Chat

The question of armor came up and there was some disagrement but I think the demonstrator (Wray Schelin) is right, the English Wheel would be a great tool for armor work but might need some specialization.

Metalcraft Tools has a little bench top wheel. It is not designed for hollow work such as armor but shows the simplicity of the machine. They claim the machine originated in the early automotive industry. The more I search the more I find custom auto body folks using English Wheels.

Now THIS page has some interesting old tools.


The hand held plannishing hammers and "fender rollers" have the frame shape necessary for armor work. Strange tools! I spent years in the automotive field and never saw these before! I suspect they are from the days before plastic body putty.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 12/30/00 22:13:53 GMT

If the person looking for the sextant is looking for one to use. My dad uses a plastic one he says that the better ones are as accurate as the brass ones and way cheaper. Also much lighter when used on a tossing deck. YES YES YES !!! I know they are not the same aesthetically but if you are USING it the plastic has a lot of advantages.
JNewman  <newmanj at attglobal.net > - Sunday, 12/31/00 00:28:24 GMT

Guru here is a book for those that are starting out.

Bobby Neal  <nealb30 at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 12/31/00 00:42:10 GMT

Does anyone know of literature on the leg vise? I now have four of these things and not one of them is totally complete. They are all useable, but I would like to see at least one of them complete. Does anyone know where to find replacement parts? I know of only one popular catalog that has a few parts, but I really don't want to pay $75 for a washer. I need to see an exploded view or pictures. Info on what to use for a replacement screw mechanizm would be nice.
Thanks for any help.
Steve at Hammerdown Forge
Steve  <psrrfr at bellsouth.net> - Sunday, 12/31/00 02:57:32 GMT

Good Guru.
I need a sorce for sheet pewter... I would like to make chess boards with it to match my cast pieces ..... any body have any ideas ..... I have tried making my own but working pewter flat to 12"x12" is for somebody with a LOT more patience than me.... a sorce in Canada would be great but I'll order from anywhere that will ship it ..... Thankyou Mark
Mark Parkinson  <mparkinson2 at home.com> - Sunday, 12/31/00 03:43:07 GMT

Leg Vise: Steve, There are not many parts. I use several common heavy flat washers as a bearing. Its not hard to machine one from solid or even to forge one from a big steel cookie. In either case $75 is about the right price if one inventories them. Replacement screws are a problem. They were available in a different age but no longer. Most of these vises were manufactured by the old anvil manufacturers. They are forged and have steel inlays in the jaws. The screws and nuts were both forged and the threads cut by various methods. To replicate them is not easy to do. If you provided the forgings a machinist would cut the threads for $200-$300. . Then you would have to fit the handle and upset the ends. In a production situation is would cost less but this mearly alows for retail markup. Would you buy screw and nut sets for $450? Its not a bad price when new leg vises sell for $1400 and up.

The biggest problem with spares for these tools is that of the dozens I've had no two were alike. The same design was manufactured for hundreds of years by dozens of manufacturers. They all LOOK approximately alike but they are all different in details that make it almost imposible to make replacement parts. That $450 replacement screw and nut set would have to come with a notice that "some machining and fitting may be necessary". Are you ready to buy?

We get used to purchasing these wounderful old tools for pocket change while cast iron bench vises sell for up to $1400. This is for an imported 8" (200mm) vise that doesn't open half the distance my old vises and doen't have the nice big upset balls on the handles. . . I couldn't find a price on current "brand name" vises but they are higher. However, you will find the parts problem the same. They are very expensive and hard to get.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/31/00 04:54:23 GMT

Hi, I am one of those "bright-eyed" teenagers you spoke about. I am a steam locomotive engineer/fireman, I am trained at our saw mill, but my next possible move is to the small smithy shop located on our grounds. I know they are training someone there already, but he is also, much like many of our other volunteers, getting up in years. Do you feel that I should try my hand at it? I should mention that I volunteer at Rough and Tumble Historical Engineering AS. www.roughandtumble.org, in Kinzer, PA, that is where we play with our big toys.

Chris  <draider02 at yahoo.com> - Sunday, 12/31/00 05:02:28 GMT

Leg Vise
Steve, I don't know if it will help, but Woodcrafters stores sell wood-vise screws/nut sets for making up woodworking benches. I'm not sure how robust they are but you might be able to adapt one of the bigger ones to a leg vise. I know it wouldn't be the same as the original, but hey, if it works?
Moldy  <later> - Sunday, 12/31/00 06:18:26 GMT

For the crutch tips, farrier supplies sell tungsten carbide in a brass matrix. Comes in sticks 12" by 1/4. Just break off what you need and braze on. Runs about $20 Cdn a stick (what's that ....$1.25 US ;-)

My question, is there a model for developing scrolls aka spirals. I would like a better way to develop scrolls for my sketches and drawings other than freehand thanks
Roger  <tandaear at dowco.com> - Sunday, 12/31/00 06:54:25 GMT

Scrolls: Roger, See my iForge demo on same. It is NOT the bs that is in many books.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/31/00 16:09:17 GMT

Smithy: Chris, I think you would find the experiance very enjoyable. Get copies of the books I mention in "Getting Started" At least Andrews and Bealer. Study them. Then remember there is a LOT of BS and old wives tales in our field. Come to us if someone tells you something that doesn't seem credible. You will also find that we have many here and on the Slack-Tub Pub (as well as myself) that have spent YEARS doing public demonstrations and can be of great help.

Good Luck and Happy New Year!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/31/00 16:14:47 GMT

Vise Screws: Sorry about all the gloom and doom. . . But the fact is we ARE spoiled when it comes to tool and equipment prices. My generation was spoiled with $100 anvils and $25 vises. Today used tool dealers get $300 and $150 and people gripe but these are still fantastic prices compared to new or NOT MADE ANYMORE!

There are no forged wrought body steel faced anvils made nor are there all forged and forge welded blacksmiths vises made anymore. There are also no mechanical power hammers made. Even the cheapest, the Little Giant, is too expensive to make NEW in today's market.

The heaviest woodworking screws and nuts work in small leg vises. However, the nuts are short and do not protect the screw. I've seen them used as-is but they need some type of "carrier, screw cover" fabricated for them.

I compare the design of the leg vise to the violin. Once perfected it did not change and those making changes in the smallest detail have been doomed to failure. This includes everything from style to means of manufacturer.

One would think the anvil would be that "perfect" tool but the many variations of anvil work as well as any other. But the leg vise is the nearest thing to mechanical perfection that any tool has ever achieved.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/31/00 16:40:22 GMT

Thanks Moldy, I'll check the Woodcrafter store. Guru, I actually enjoy collecting and repairing these things. I want to do the best repairs that I can. But still, If I can avoid paying $75.00 for a washer I will. If it's the ONLY way to get it---pay it.
I still would appreciate pictures or drawings of a leg vise parts (exploded view ?). I haven't been able to find pictures or drawings that show all parts. If I have something to show what part belongs where I may be able to duplicate it. So far I've replaced handles, springs and wedges.I'm going on guesswork. I actually need to see how the spring is attached to one of these vises. This vise has a slot through the section where it mounts to the bench. Another vise is missing the part that covers the screw. Any help is appreciated. I like the thought that it is possible to restore and use this old equipment.BTW, I paid $17.00 for a 3", $85.00 for the most recent 4.5", $35.00 for another 4.5", and inherited a 5.75".These prices are unusal.
Some people think they're going to get rich by selling grandpa's "antique" vise. Needless t say, I didn't buy grandapa's vise.
Again, thanks for any help.
Steve at Hammerdown Forge
Steve  <psrrfr at bellsouth.net> - Sunday, 12/31/00 19:05:16 GMT

I would like to know if there is a way to get the green patina on copper quickly. I am making a fountain and if possible I want to use some copper tubing.
Jean  <jeanlee at truevine.net> - Sunday, 12/31/00 20:27:07 GMT

Thanks for the cautioning Cracked.
I am well aware of the difference. ALL the sextants I’ve seen that where NOT for navigation where very BADLY made compared a working one.
Just to point some things out we are talking something that needs to keep within at least 1/20 of an arch M I N U T E. this means NO play ANYWHERE, and no badly cut verniere scale, nothing out of alignment...

Prizes are from 450$ for the ones with just the basics to about 3 500-4000$ for the top of the line ones from Germany and Switzerland.
And yes the 450$ one is within the 1/20 arch min and has the other characteristics. Just has a so so scope (scope is not strictly necessary to make a good sight it just helps gather the light of a faint horizon) and lacks some on the accessories part (no extra mirrors, no special oil, replacement screws, extra LED’s for the arch...) and yes a
“C. PLATH “ HAS much better precision factory wont let it under ± 4", throughout the arc (about 0,00125 degrees).
I have been around enough of them that I would almost instantly recognise them from any replica.

The silvering (on the mirrors) is WAY better.
The coating of the optics, need I say...
The engraving of the scales, just compare a couple of callipers a 2$ one and a 30$one (both of course vernier type).
The adjustment abilities...

And just in the general craftsmanship required. Machine marks ANYWHERE is a NONO, So are rough treads...
That is why most that are serious about second hand sextants have them tested (for accuracy) and certified before sale.
And yes I have several leads to good used sextants sadly in the antique stores around here. One is all of 12 years ols (the company switched frame design then) and it is mine for 5000$??? One is without its scope. One is polished. One is coroded solid.... none are any good to me. And yes several of those replicas.
. btw the replicas are mostly SCREW adjusted not wormgear (yes some have wormgear but waaaay bad workmanship there).
sorry again for the of topic posting, and a looong one at that.
OErjan  <Pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Sunday, 12/31/00 20:56:22 GMT

Leg Vise: Steve, There are two types of bench mounts.
New(er) type. A wrap around bar with wedges and a bench plate. The wrap around bar goes over the spring. This mount can be adjusted up and down for minor variations in the bench.

Old Type. This consisted of a bench plate with a rectangular tennon that protruded through the vise. This was forged into a double scroll with bolt holes. The spring had a matching rectangular hole for the tennon. A round pin held the vise and spring to the tennon. It passed through the tennon cross wise and the spring held it tight. It is rare to find all the pieces of one of these earlier types which are said to date before 1840 or so. These are also most likely to be missing springs as the tennon and pin held the spring in place. I figure that folks without the proper tools removed the vise and lost the pieces. . .

The spring on the early type had a slight bow outwards where the pin goes to keep it tight even when the vise was fully opened.

The prices you paid are typical for vises missing parts. Generally I won't give over $10 for one missing parts and $5 for one missing a spring. The used market prices of $150-$175 are still a bargain. I just sold a broken 8" that weighed in at several hundred pounds for $500. I would have never sold it if it didn't need a bunch of work to the Jaws. Some SOB had torched off the OEM jaws and tried to weld on modern replacements with coarse teeth! A blacksmith's vise should have smooth jaws so they don't mar the work.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/31/00 21:06:01 GMT

Jean, you should check out a staind glass supply. They carry different solutions for putting patina's on the leaded glass frames. I beleive there is one that will give you the green patina you are looking for, just paint it on and let it go to work.
Moldy Jim  <really?> - Sunday, 12/31/00 21:16:28 GMT

thanks JNewman I have two plastic ones (one each Davis MK15 and MK 25 plastic sextants). both are worn out after only a few years of use (yes i know how to handle/service them corectly).
A a metal one is what I need, and one good for navigation. thanks for the tip though. oh i allmost forgot the Davis Mk3 i got when i took the course on astro nav several years ago. btw the ".. leads to good used ..." in the posting i made earlyer should have been "no good" sorry.
OErjan  <same> - Sunday, 12/31/00 21:17:29 GMT

guru are you out. are you going to the pub?
happy new year to all btw.
OE  <same> - Sunday, 12/31/00 21:26:49 GMT

Patina: Jean, I'm told "Miracal Grow" made into a paste does a pretty quick job.

Its 6-1/2 hours to new years here. . A lot different than last year when we "netcast" the new year from NZ. . and nobody came to the party (or very few. . ) New Years is long past in NZ and just past in Europe I think. .

Yep, I'll be in the pub later.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 12/31/00 22:38:52 GMT

[ anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter   Copyright © 2001 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC