• Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About IronAlchemy

  • Rank
    Junior Member

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Not Telling
  • Location
    Pittsboro, NC
  • Interests
    photography, Art Deco, stainless steel


  • Location
    Pittsboro, NC
  • Interests
  • Occupation

Recent Profile Visitors

4,970 profile views
  1. For the kind of items you are making, no additional treatment is typically needed to maintain corrosion resistance. The main issue you may have is if you use a non-stainless wire brush on your items that can transfer iron onto the surface. This can lead to more surface rust though much less than on a mild steel item. It is true that if you passivate with (preferably) citric acid or nitric acid, you will change the as-forged look. I have items forged without further treatment and used outside for 15 years that are rust free or with only a few specks of rust on them. They still look pretty much the same as when I first finished them.
  2. Sad to see a good tool crack. I have had a lengthwise quench failure in a hammer exactly like this when I quenched 4140 in water. It may well be that the quench was too aggressive. When you heat a quench oil, it reduces the viscosity and greatly accelerates the convective stage of the quench. Contrary to intuition, hot oil typically quenches more aggressively than cold oil.
  3. Speaking as a chemist and not someone who has actually tested this, ferric chloride should freeze and thaw without damage. That said, you need to have it in a container that will not break when the liquid expands on freezing. The active etching from ferric chloride comes from hydrochloric acid released in the solution. It just does not maintain as high a concentration of acid as you can get with pure HCl.
  4. Brian's anvil design is for use with a striker. They are intentionally made from mild steel so that they are soft when struck by missed blows and can easily be dressed when abused. They are mounted lower than a conventional anvil to allow for the height of top tooling over a hardie tool. They are not really for general use.
  5. Usually I use the forge (gas or coal) to heat the struck end but it makes no difference how you do it. Torch does work fine.
  6. Like Thomas says, S7 works great for hot working tools especially for something like slitting where the tool can get very hot. It is also really good for tools used cold when the edge is left at a hard temper. All my chasing tools are S7 for example. S7 generally heat treats easily because of the air hardening. As mentioned, it does not normalize. It needs to be heated to 1750F (typically described as cherry). When heating from cold for forging or heat treatment, don't heat it too fast. Heat it gradually or it can develop cracks from that. Folks preferences vary but I like to harden the whole tool as you did since the struck end will mushroom if left fully annealed. I think it most likely that the problem you had was that you only tempered the cutting edge whereas you hardened the whole tool. This left everything but the edge fully hardened and brittle. Also when you temper S7, it takes a quite high temperature to reduce the hardness. I temper the struck end to at least 1000F which is about where you just see color in the metal which would leave it near Rc 50 which is still pretty hard. Straw color is typically about 450F in carbon steels which would leave your edge at ~Rc 55. That said, alloy steels do not exhibit the same temper colors as carbon steel. I have dozens of S7 tools forged without heat treating in an oven and have yet to have a failure so it is generally pretty forgiving.
  7. I have a #58 with the side shelf and I use the shelf frequently. I kept the edges on the shelf a bit sharper than the anvil edges so they are useful for forging a sharp inside corner. Also it is useful for straightening with the piece bridging between the anvil surface and the shelf much as you might do across the hardie hole. I really like the gradual curved transition from the anvil face to the horn on the #58. It gives me a whole new set of curves readily at hand. I moved from a London pattern anvil and the only thing that I occasionally miss is the step. I make up for that with a hardie tool that gives close to the same functionality.
  8. There is an article where Peter Ross shows how to hand forge this part out of iron if you would rather go that way. Bronze I am sure would work but I have never seen one out of bronze. Regs, Doug
  9. It takes less force to bend square stock on the diagonal than on the flat. Clay Spencer kindly showed me a quick moment of inertia calculation for the two orientations to make the point. I place one face on the curve of the horn to provide some support and forge curves freehand. As already noted, special tooling is needed to do a upset corner on the diagonal.
  10. Passivation leaves the surface looking pretty much like it did when you started. Dull surfaces remain dull and polished surfaces remain polished. The most obvious change would be that, if you had any rust stains, they would be removed. If the item was forged in a coal forge, some black marks from the fire may be cleaned off as well. Therefore, if I want the piece to look hand forged, I often do not passivate it. In my climate in central NC, forged items left outdoors continue to looked fresh forged long term even without passivation and (my favorite part) no finish.
  11. Passivating removes any free iron on the surface of the stainless increasing the concentration of nickel and chromium. As you note, it is a very shallow surface effect, and grinding and heavy buffing will require you to redo the passivation. I also have not seen aluminum sulphate used for this but it may well work. In water, it hydrolyzes producing a mild sulphuric acid solution. I prefer to use 10% citric acid in water solution (ASTM A967). I use it heated to 140 F (60C). It should take about 10 minutes. The citric acid waste is biodegradable and the solution will in fact grow mold which is a down side if you are not replacing it regularly. This solution also works well for copper pickling although it is slightly slower than hot bisulfite or sulfuric acid pickles. Citric acid is way safer to use than traditional nitric acid which is a very strong acid. I passivate to prevent any rust spots that might appear from iron that is picked up during forging using steel tools. If I grind or buff a piece, I don't bother passivating it. If an item will be near salt water, passivation helps a lot to prevent rust.
  12. Glenn has it spot on that product photography is all about using the light to tell the story about your subject. There is a lot to be said for controlling your light with light tents or other diffusers. The cheap alternative is to photograph outdoors on a cloudy day. You don't have as much control but it can get you started quickly and cheaply. For the "egghead" discussion on product photography, I recommend "Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting". I have done product photography for many years and still refer to this. A more accessible discussion on lighting with a series of exercises you can work through to get you thinking about how lights and cameras interact is at; click on the "Lighting 101" link. Don't hesitate to sent me personal email if you want additional help or critique. Enjoy!
  13. You are in a great area for 18th century iron in NC. Take a look at Jerry Darnell's collection of class notes on 18th century iron from all the years that he has taught at John C Campbell Folkschool. You can buy it direct from Jerry. Check out his website at I think he is still teaching. If you are a member of NC ABANA, you could apply for a scholarship to take one of his classes. Good luck, Doug Wilson
  14. My daughter forged in Spain as part of a college exchange. She told me that the term "acero dulce" was used for what we call "pure iron". As Thomas suggests, it is ultra low carbon and indeed very easy to forge. It was used for all the restoration jobs that she saw. Doug
  15. Here is what I have found about the basic chemistry and pharmacology of borax. I am a chemist with some background in toxicology. I can read and understand this stuff but am not a scientific expert in the chemistry and toxicology of boron. The links are updated from a post that I made around 2000 on theForge mailing list.Borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) - Na2B4O7.10H2O decomposes losing 8 H2O at 167 F boils losing 10 H2O at 608 F sodium tetraborate (anhydrous) melts at 1366 F This means that if you want to create anhydrous borax so that it does not bubble when you use it, you only have to get it over 608 F. You do not have to melt this into a glass that needs to be reground for use which many folks report doing. Personally, I find that the partially dehydrated compound that I get decomposing it over 167 F, works well for me. It is lots easier to produce as well.Borax can poison you but it takes quite a bit; ~5-10 g in children and ~15-20 g in adults. Poisoning is most common in children from ingestion of borax used as a laundry agent. Boron has a half-life of about 24 hours in humans; i.e., half of the compound in your body will be excreted every 24 hours. It has been noted that boron can cause lowered sperm count in lab animals. OSHA recommends < 30 ppm inhaled for an 8 hour exposure for borax. This is the general limit set for "nuisance" dusts that have no known inhaled toxicity. Borax is not readily absorbed through the skin. Because of its low skin absorption, boric acid has been used to powder latex gloves. Boric acid solutions have also been widely used to irrigate wounds since it is bacteriostatic (keeps bacteria from growing). Neither boron nor borax are a known carcinogen or mutagen.Recent evidence suggests that boron (at very element low levels) is an essential to support human life.Best Regards,Doug WilsonReferences:The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, Goodman and GillmanCRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics CDC statement on boron: decahydrate as a pesticide/fungicide: MSDS for 20 Mule Team Borax: Borax Decahydrate (Technical Grade)