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Michael Stuart

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Everything posted by Michael Stuart

  1. The US debate between AC and DC was partly the result of a feud between Westinghouse and Edison. Apparently the electric chair was part of a scheme to convince the public that AC was unsafe. Here's a link with some history: AC/DC ::
  2. Good question. I started at about 23, and still have the first thing I made, a really ugly but more or less functional rolled-socket spear point that began as a rr spike. Of course that doesn't count the years and years of geekdom I spent in D&D, then F&SF conventions, then SCA, and all those interests led me to begin smithing. I think of it as sort of a progression, from all mental toward a more healthy balance between mental and physical activity. It's now a dozen years later and I'm still learning every day, but the pieces are beginning to fall in place. And I'm having a blast.
  3. If the 'dips' you mean are like pits that are corroded into the surface, you sometimes have to remove quite a lot of metal to get through them. Don's Japanese 'water on the anvil' technique pops off a lot of scale before it can get hammered into the surface and cuts down a lot on this kind of pitting. Not sure that's what you were asking about, but it could help. And like everyone said, draw filing is a great technique. I find it helps locate quite a few arm and back muscles you probably didn't know you had
  4. I'm still at the bottom of the learning curve on presses. What sorts of differences should I look for when considering a press for forging/welding and what I see locally, which is the 2-stage horizontal/vertical log splitter at Lowe's? The only ones that jump out at me are the need for a different shaped ram end (not a point), and for some kind of anvil block underneath it. What else?
  5. Tai, in Oaxaca you can buy dried locusts in several different size ranges at the markets. Salty, crunchy, like they should be in a bowl on a bar counter. Lots of protein too. mmmm. They are a reddish color.
  6. I don't know the metallurgy yet but I'm fairly confident that I can learn it with some help (ok, maybe a lot of help ) from everyone here. Would anyone care to elaborate on chromium carbides and their care and feeding? And some questions specifically for Howard: if I did ever attempt to pattern weld it to something lower in C like 1045 (how about 1018? or is it too different?), I would expect the carbon to migrate toward equilibrium somewhere between .45 and 1.00 (would this happen before the grain got too large?) but what would the other 52100 elements do? The pieces I have are not large, so
  7. Thanks Tom! 52100 is tricky stuff, and as I found out, it burns at just orange heat. I then made one piece that turned out ok but the second piece cracked and the tip fell off, hence my questions. The tip fell off after tempering, so I'm betting it may actually have cracked in the quench (motor oil, yuck, I'll try veggie oil next time). How hot are you going up to on the thermal cycle part? And is your quench water bath temp, boiling, or somewhere in between? I have been heating quench oil to a couple hundred degrees before quenching, but will happily try something different if anyone can sugg
  8. The L6 thread has been really interesting. Could anyone offer some similar advice on heat treating 52100? I've got a coal/charcoal forge, a propane forge, and a kitchen oven to work with, so it's not the highest of technology. I'm hoping it will be enough though.
  9. Cool! Even stuff like cant hook and plow handles that I didn't think anyone made any longer. Alas, the only things I didn't see were spear shafts or hawk handles...
  10. I got my tongs from Kayne and Son http://www.kayneandson.com/index.htm scroll down, looks like the tongs are $24 for wolf jaw or box. The box jaw seem to be best for holding a single stock size, parallel to the tongs, while the wolf jaw have a bit wider range and can hold the piece parallel or perpendendicular. Most of the books will be pretty good, the Anvilfire site has some reviews you could check out. If the library has them, start there and buy personal copies of the ones that you like best. Interlibrary loan is great for this purpose.
  11. I'd say, spend 30 bucks on a pair of tongs. I asked around when I was starting, and most everyone suggested a medium length wolf's jaw. I still use this pair more than the other 15 tongs put together. I did spend a couple years before that using vise-grips and channellock pliers, had a lot of flying hot steel that way.
  12. Depends a lot on where you are. In the US, for example, Pennsylvania and Ohio have tons of smithing stuff available (relatively speaking) in comparison to most of the rest of the country. I find stuff occasionally in the Southeastern US. I hear it's much less available in the Southwest and Northwest because they were settled by fewer blacksmiths. You can now buy most everything new, if money is no object, no matter where you live. But for me, as a hobby, I can't spend much so it's mostly either used/old or build my own. I have all the basic stuff now, but it's taken about a dozen years at the
  13. Cinnabar is an ore composed of mercury and sulfur, I'd be very cautious with it. If I recall correctly, just heating it can produce metallic mercury, and who knows if polishing might make enough heat to decompose it. It can't be good for either the steel or for your lungs.
  14. I think critical temperature is actually a ways above nonmagnetic for high alloy steels, but I don't have any numbers on hand to back this up. Maybe it wasn't actually hot enough during the thermal cycling?
  15. Hard to tell for sure when they're both so ugly, but I'm pretty sure the 55 lb one is cast iron, despite their description. The bigger one is questionable, could be either. CI anvils are usually really blocky, cast steel can and usually will be a lot thinner at the heel. A lot of the cast iron ones even have a line in the casting mimicing a steel face, but don't be fooled. One American maker did produce cast iron anvils with steel faces, which do rebound but don't ring. These were made in the mold using a patented process that is no longer in use, and there is no good way to attach a steel fac
  16. From what I've heard, HF sells both a cast iron (Chinese) and a cast steel (Russian) anvil. The Russian one is supposed to be adequate as a starter anvil, but may have an off-size hardy hole, poor surface finish (not too hard to fix), and an ugly not-very-well-shaped horn. The cast iron one, as always, is a doorstop or worse. If you can be sure which is which, the steel one might not be too bad. To me, a bigger chunk of metal is easier to work on, and the rail piece I learned on is a lot more difficult to move metal on than an anvil because it absorbs a lot more of the hammer's energy.
  17. I'd take a file to the top, if it's cast iron it will be really easy to file and if so, it's not worth much for hot work but may be good for tooling leather, setting rivets, or similar work. I have a 93 pound Peter Wright anvil, a similar size, and the top is hard as glass. Another good test is to hit it squarely (that is, not with the edge but with the flat of the hammer) and moderately hard. A good anvil will practically throw the hammer back, even into your forehead if you aren't careful. Larger anvils are usually a bit softer than smaller ones because of the physics of heat treating, but a
  18. Outstanding! The more I see by you folks with jewelry training, the more I wonder whether I might be approaching the wrong end of the animal by coming in through smithing  ???
  19. Isn't flame hardening the same process as induction hardening, but with a different source of heat? The good bandsaw blades (for wood, I haven't seen metal-cutting ones yet) have induction hardened teeth that stay sharp practically forever.
  20. Speaking as someone who just got a job after a long unemployment, it's much easier to scrounge things before you start working...for cheap forge ideas, also check out the sketchbook page at the keenjunk site, I posted a picture there a while back of a forge I made from a broken lawnmower. The deck shape is just right when you turn it upside down and add some wood ashes or kitty litter or clay to ramp up from the center hole to the edges. That one has a brake disc (not drum) sitting across the hole, and 2 inch pipe for air supply. Less than $10 in pipe pieces, the rest was scrounged; and I moun
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