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Michael Stuart

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Everything posted by Michael Stuart

  1. 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.
  2. 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...
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 flea markets etc. Tailgate sales at blacksmithing meetings are probably your best bet to get started quickly for a moderate cost. It depends a lot on what you want to make, how soon you want to make it, and how much you already know how to do. The first thing I would suggest you spend money on is a good pair of tongs, because everything else can be improvised more easily. I have a pair of wolf-jaw tongs I bought new from kayne & son, that I use for almost every project.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?
  8. 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 face to a cast iron anvil once it has been made that way. A cast steel anvil could just barely be hardened at home, with a big pit fire with blower and half a day or more to heat it to cherry red, followed by a quick dump under a medium sized waterfall, fire hose, mill pond water chute, or (maybe but iffy) a 55 gallon drum of ice water. Where are you? I saw a couple good anvils, wrought body/tool steel face, about 120 lbs at a flea market near me a couple weeks back for about $200 each. Would likely have bought the nicer one if I had had the spare cash. I have also heard good things about the old world anvils folks.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 around 100 pounds counts as small in this context, and anvils in this size range will usually be very hard if they were made well.
  11. 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  ???
  12. 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.
  13. 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 mounted 2 of the lawnmower wheels to adjust up and down on the legs so the thing could be wheeled around if need be. Midas or one of the other brake repair places should have drums and disks, but they usually have someone who comes and gets all their scrap metal so it pays to ask and show up before that person does rather than after.
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