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I Forge Iron


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Everything posted by MattBower

  1. Good tip on the hot cut, Rich. I never thought of that!
  2. Big forge with hard firebrick and a small burner. You need better insulation, plus a much smaller forge and/or a much bigger burner.
  3. Since the face of your largest hammer (largest one-handed hammer, anyway) probably isn't more than about 2.5" across the widest dimension, I'm not sure I see a real advantage to welding the pieces together side-by-side. A 6" wide face is mostly wasted unless you're doing a lot of work with a sledge, in which case you probably want a considerably heavier anvil, anyway. You would get more mass directly under the hammer -- and thus probably more benefit -- by stacking them on top of one another (with the 3" face as the top surface) and welding them up that way. I don't know if it's necessary to weld the slits, but it probably wouldn't hurt. I would also make sure they are oriented vertically in whatever anvil configuration you settle on.
  4. I second what Dodge said. Charcoal doesn't need much air blast. If you're wearing yourself out cranking the blower for charcoal, something's off. EIther you're cranking way too hard, or something's wrong with the blower. Try slowing waaay down. You may find that it solves several problems. It's possible to force so much air into a fire that you blow all the heat away, just like blowing out a candle.
  5. That's interesting, because I grew up in northern Indiana (Elkhart County) and I don't throw in the extra "r" in words like wash. At least if I do, I'm not aware of it. I wonder if it may vary even within the state. I grew up calling soft drinks "pop," but around Indy they tend to call them all "coke," which is a term I associate with the east coast (although it's apparently popular on the left coast, too, and in a lot of big cities in between). lupiphile, nice tie-in! :)
  6. Well, that's Wayne's definition. I don't think I agree with it. But of course I don't like to use the term damascus at all, because it's confusing; it can mean several different things. I do say cable damascus, though, because I'm too lazy to come up with a better term that's as easy to say. :)
  7. I agree that experimentation is important. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. But to borrow some terminology from my days as an artilleryman, a good reference book can save a lot of adjusting rounds. In other words, it can help you get in the right ballpark. Industry has come up with some fascinating ways to overcome the problem of getting from the furnace to the quenchant without losing heat. E.g., sometimes the quench tank is directly under the furnace. When the part is fully austenitized, the bottom of the furnace opens and dumps the charge straight into the quench bath. I'm not suggesting blacksmiths necessariy need something that fancy, but it does get you thinking. :)
  8. These are good questions. I am sure one of your professors can give you a theoretical answer to the time-to-100%-austenite question. (It's not just a function of the size of the piece. It's also a function of alloying elements. Highly alloyed steels convert to austenite slowly, which is why many of the high speed/air hardening tool steels require very long soaks at high temperatures for full hardening.) However, the practical answer to your first question is that smart metallurgists have already figured this stuff out and written it down for the rest of us. Walk over to your university library and find a good reference book on heat treating -- one that specifies soak times for different alloys. The point (or at least one of the points) of soak time is to ensure 100% austenite formation. If they don't have such a book, I'm positive they can get it for you. Generally speaking, yes, the goal is to form maximum martensite (I don't think it's ever actually 100%, but you can get very close), and then temper back from there to get the desired characteristics. This is much easier and more repeatable than trying to achieve a particular mix of structures straight out of the quench, by not fully austenitizing or by quenching in a coolant that isn't fast enough for the steel. An exception would be differential hardening of blades, in which you try to achieve for a martensite edge, a pearlite spine, and a transition zone of mixed structures.
  9. Come to think of it, I just realized we're talking about two separate things. You're talking about a design patent, Thomas. Yes, those are easy to get around -- so easy that they're hardly worth bothering with. Utility patents are a different story, and much more worthwhile. I assumed that's what he's going for. But maybe not.
  10. Eh, I don't think it really works that way as a legal matter, although it may depend how the patent application is written. The modern patents I've read have been written in extremely broad terms, probably to prevent attempts at that sort of thing. In fact, some of them have been written so broadly that, at least for me, it was hard to tell what the heck they were patenting! It was all very abstract.
  11. I look forward to reading the application. No offense intended, but I am skeptical about the usefulness part. I have yet to see any evidence that PW steel can do anything, mechanically, that monosteel can't do at least as well. As far as I'm concerned, PW is a decorative process -- which is not to say that I don't like it! But stuff happens. A guy over at Don Fogg's five or so years ago was playing around with making crucible steel using thermite, and ended up creating a new alloy with some unusual properties. With some help from a metallurgist and some other professionals, he ended up patenting it. So anything's possible. Again, though, is the pic still up? I can't see it for some reason.
  12. Here is Dr. Feuerbach's list of papers from her academic homepage. At least some of them are available for download. Her dissertation and master's thesis are not included. http://hofstra.academia.edu/AnnFeuerbach/Papers I hope that helps.
  13. For some reason I can't see the photo. Is it still there? Rich, The Patent Office explains patentability as follows: In the language of the statute, any person who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent,” subject to the conditions and requirements of the law. The word “process” is defined by law as a process, act or method, and primarily includes industrial or technical processes. The term “machine” used in the statute needs no explanation. The term “manufacture” refers to articles that are made, and includes all manufactured articles. The term “composition of matter” relates to chemical compositions and may include mixtures of ingredients as well as new chemical compounds. These classes of subject matter taken together include practically everything that is made by man and the processes for making the products. . . The patent law specifies that the subject matter must be “useful.” The term “useful” in this connection refers to the condition that the subject matter has a useful purpose and also includes operativeness, that is, a machine which will not operate to perform the intended purpose would not be called useful, and therefore would not be granted a patent. The invention also can't be obvious to a person skilled in the trade, based on "prior art" (prior publicly disclosed information in the field). So you can't (er, shouldn't be able to) patent pattern welding; that's an ancient and well-known process. And you can't patent a process based on pattern welding that'd be obvious to people familiar with pattern welding. But if there's some claim that a unique, non-obvious combination of steels in a particular pattern produces unusual and useful material properties, that certainly could be patentable. From what I can tell, the Patent & Trademark Office does not scrutinize applications very closely to see if what they assert is true; i.e., if the invention actually does what the applicant claims. (I base this on the fact that I've read the patent applications for certain processes patented by a metal worker who shall remain nameless -- I'm not referring to samcro -- and they're bunkum. Very impressive-sounding bunkum, I grant you, but still bunkum as far as I can tell.) It appears to me that the PTO basically just looks to see if the idea is prior art or would be obvious from prior art. If not, the PTO seems to err on the side of granting the patent. I suppose it's easier to grant the patent and let private parties fight it out if there's a problem, as opposed to denying the application and getting the PTO sued.
  14. Are you telling, or asking? If you want smaller quantities, several common roach poisons are 98%-99%% boric acid (and 1%-2% "inert ingredients"). Roach Prufe and Hot Shot Roach Killing Powder are two examples. You can buy them just about anywhere, and they're cheap.
  15. Thanks for all the additional ideas, folks. I haven't been around much lately, so I just discovered all the new contributions to this thread.
  16. My father-in-law says "warsh" with a very hard, distinct R, and he's lived his whole life in the D.C. area. (To be honest, that bugs me. No offense to you guys. It just sounds weird to my ear.) A lot of folks here also say "frigerator." Where I grew up it was a REfrigerator, or a fridge.
  17. AFAIK both Simonds and Nicholson files are made overseas, now. Both used to be made in the U.S.
  18. No. If you'll give me a Nazel, I'll call it anything you want. I'll call it a pink petunia if that's what floats your boat. ;)
  19. It's not an issue of talent. I don't think you believe old-time smiths were untalented. I think you believe they were uneducated -- specifically, that they were unable to read and write. I base that conclusion on your own words: "How many of the old smiths, before our time, could even read?" My answer to that is that most of them probably could, even in the colonial period. And by the mid- to late 19th century it was probably the vast majority. (My answer refers to the English speaking world, of course.) As to your question, it is eminently reasonable to think that Webster and other early dictionary writers spoke to smiths to determine the pronunciation of the word. You seem to assume that they just made it up in a vacuum, at a time when it would've been terribly easy to walk down the street and survey a half-dozen blacksmiths. I see no good reason to believe that. I agree! I don't claim that swedge is wrong. I just don't accept the assertion that swage is wrong! I write pein. Some folks write peen. I don't try to correct them; as far as I'm concerned both variants are legitimate. At least we all pronounce it the same! (We do, don't we?) Pane, though -- that's a new one to me!
  20. How does Webster know how any word is pronounced? The idea that smiths prior to our generation were a bunch of knuckle-dragging illiterates from the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder -- and you're not the first person I've known who seemed to think that -- has always struck me as, well, nonsense. Blacksmithing was a very mainstream trade for many centuries. You don't think Webster spent any time around blacksmiths? Why not? There was a smithy on practically every corner. A directory of New York City from 1839-40 lists 319 blacksmith shops for a population of a bit over 300,000. That means one blacksmith shop (not just one blacksmith -- many shops back then were far from one-man affairs) for every 1000 people. That's a lot! That'd translate to 20 blacksmith shops in the small town I grew up in. It's probably fair to say that during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, a substantial majority of Americans knew at least one blacksmith (probably several), and interacted with blacksmiths on a commercial basis at least occasionally. There's a reason that Smith is the most common surname in the U.S. and the U.K. There's also no reason to think smiths were less literate than their peers (other tradesmen) for most of that time. The literacy rate in the U.S. when the Constitution was signed was around 60%, and it climbed steeply in the 19th century. It is likely that at least a bare majority of smiths -- a probably substantially more than a bare majority -- were literate even in the 1790s. During the colonial period, Ben Franklin wrote that libraries had, "improved the general conversation of Americans, made the common tradesmen and farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from other countries, and perhaps have contributed in some degree to the stand so generally made throughout the colonies in defense of their privileges." Who do you think wrote all the articles in Practical Blacksmithing, which was first published in 1888? Blacksmiths! And who were they written for? Blacksmiths! Swedge and swage both appear multiple times in Pratical Blacksmithing, by the way, which lends credence to the suggestion that there's regional variation. You can find both spellings in other 19th century books as well, and Webster's Collegiate Dictionary from 1896 lists swayje as the pronunciation.
  21. Although I'm generally in the camp that says it's not a good idea to start with swords, it's probably possible to make a safe, reasonably functional sword with almost no experience -- with close instruction and supervision from an experienced swordsmith. If you have one of those around, and he's willing to take you under his wing, that's a special case. Otherwise, it's probably wise to start with smaller blades and work up over time.
  22. I always assumed it was NAY-zl, then I heard someone call it "nay-ZEL" and assumed I was just a dummy. I'm happy to learn that my instinct wasn't necessarily wrong. :) I could argue with you about swage block/swedge block, though, Randy.
  23. Simonds files are about the best you can buy, for my money. They cut better and last longer than Nicholsons. Don't care where they're made: they're great tools. No idea about Lennoxes. You might try a more aggressive quenchant. Goop is relatively slow, and files tend to be made from shallow-hardening steels that want a fast quenchant. (The steel Nicholson is using nowadays is basically 1095 with a dash of chromium.)
  24. Define what you mean by "carbon steel." Generally speaking, carbon steel is just steel with very few alloying elements other than carbon. What chemical composition are you looking for? It will almost certainly be cheaper to buy steel of the alloy you wish to use than to try to manufacture your own.
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