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  1. Chain wrenches are also great for large diameter threaded pipe because they'll "ratchet" without taking the tool off the work. If it's a good design, some will even switch to "reverse" without taking the chain off. Long ago I was running 4" rigid conduit in a prison basement with scalding hot steam lines running all over the place. More than once, there was only one place on the length of pipe where you could swing a 50-60 degree arc to thread the pipe together. Being 10' or so away from the fitting getting threaded, it was pretty easy to cross-thread the fitting so it took quite a bit of fiddling to get them started. If the chain's tight and well made, you can often tip the tool sideways so the loose end can pass over the top of a horizontal pipe. With a quick twist of the wrist, the chain falls to where you can catch it in the prongs. I got to where I could reliably take the tool on and off one handed. It's not as fast as an adjustable pipe wrench, but it's lighter and it stores in a smaller tool kit. I wouldn't want it for high torque operations because the handles tend to be sort relative to the diameter's they'll grab. That being said, it's super handy when you need to twist conduit bodies or oddly shaped hubs in a confined space.
  2. Okie, Do yourself a favor and google the word "Forge". Most of the results will be for anything but metal working. Marketers use "forge" to convey toughness, rusticity or antiquity for whatever they're selling. It's 2017, If your name won't get to the top of a google search, you will lose business. People love nature and businesses named after a notable geographical feature not only benefit from the pleasant association, they also convey their location. However it REALLY doesn't matter if you move later on down the line. Philadelphia Cream Cheese wasn't started in Philadelphia. They chose the city name because it was famous for high-quality products. Since modern marketing pretty much refuses to name a business on what they actually produce, you'll find fewer competitors on google by naming yourself for what you make. Think about how much money was spent in marketing efforts to teach the public that "The GAP" is a clothing store. A small shop just can't afford to make things harder for themselves by following that example.
  3. Alan, I guess I'd qualify as having a foot in both fields as I'm an estimator for an electrical contractor, but I'm only a hobby blacksmith. I think there are a few misconceptions about what skilled trades can charge owing to the differences between contract work and service stuff. Contract work is competitively bid. The "better" the job is in terms of timing, minimized risk, and logistics, the more competition there will be on the bid. The hourly rate on aggressively hard-bid projects in non-union markets is very, very, low. Think Quick-lube shop rates and you're probably not too far off. It's a brutal fact that most owners of contracting firms aren't actually making any money. Some ridiculously small percentage of them will actually be wealthy, the rest will either die working or they'll end up in bankruptcy. Very nearly all perceived "wealth" in this industry relies upon riding waves of unsustainable growth and jumping out before the crash. In contrast, a service call is a fairly no-compete situation which is why rates are higher. That being said, there's a significant investment in setting up such an operation. Each vehicle in the fleet must be stocked with the parts and tools to handle a range of potential problems. Commercial wiring involves a multitude of conduit types, each of which has unique fittings for specific applications. There very literally millions of parts involved in electrical work. Additionally, the ever-moving nature of the work means that it's harder to manage employees. Good workers cost more. Adding to the problem is the unknown duration of the service call. The electricians are paid hourly and most contractors require that every minute of time be billed to a job. Idle time is billed to the "shop" which is sometimes paid at a lower rate. When I worked on a service van, it was common to have five or six stops a day, yet we'd still end up with an hour of low-pay shop time. That's 12% of a day's income at a lower rate, often because clients don't show up on time to open the door. To the contractor, that 12% idle time overhead must be recouped via the billable hourly rate. When things are booming and there's no lost time, there's an opportunity cost involved in taking on a low-paying service call which may keep you from pursuing a more profitable job. Clients with intermittent problems that will require lots of man hours but little else may find it's harder to get someone to show up as a result. Compared to a blacksmith in their shop, an electrical contractor doesn't have many tools per person. However, the electrical contractor doesn't really have the option to make their own tools either. Whereas one blacksmith shop could have several smiths using all the tools, each construction site would require several drills, ladders, saws, benders, winches, etc. Even a small electrical contractor could have multiple power tools per electrician. Owing to the ebb and flow of work, most contractors must maintain a warehouse to store tools and materials. Most electrical contractor will have a warehouse larger than a solo blacksmith's shop. Getting back to the OP, I think the tradesman and their craft today is viewed as a commodity. People will pay double for a hunk of cheese labeled "artisinal" but they insist that construction workers come in the back door. It's ridiculous that people see tradesman from their own communities as second-class citizens bent on ripping them off compared to a multi-national dairy firm slapping a pretentious sticker on the Provolone to justify doubling the price. I think these mindsets could be defined as either mindless faith or marketing where the only practical difference comes down to whether a person is buying or selling.
  4. Alan, Your experience is different than mine. My butcher block brush rips the scale and stuff off with extreme prejudice compared to what I get an ordinary wire brush. Again, I'm just a hobbyist so I have no experience with production runs of stuff. I do agree that the big blocks don't get into twisty, curved stuff very well.
  5. I agree with Frosty, there's not enough parts shown to assemble a guillotine tool. If you're already on the hook to fabricate some parts for it, I'd recommend you base the die dimensions on stock you can easily get. I went with 1-1/2" x 1/2" cold-rolled mild bar stock for my dies. I case-harden the working faces and the struck end of the top die. Be advised that the larger you make the dies, the more inertia they have to remain in place. Smaller dies transfer your hammer blow more efficiently. My top dies are around 6-7" long and I've found that it takes a decent whack with a 6lb hammer to move metal about the same amount as a free hand blow with a 2lb cross pein. It's a handy tool, but after using it, I can see why light and springy clapper dies are popular for a lot of the same functions.
  6. I have limited experience with stainless but there are some forgeable alloys. I tried a bit of unknown stainless from the off-cuts bin at a steel supplier to make a cheese slicer a few years back. It was hard under the hammer but I got there eventually. It didn't like high heat forging much either. Anything higher than a bright red just crumbled. Oddly enough, it really didn't want to burn. Even small sections could get very hot without throwing sparks, melting, or cracking. So long as I didn't actively hammer it above bright red, it worked pretty similar to high-carbon steel. I was happy with how well stainless retained a forged appearance even after it was cleaned up. At a glance, I think most people could tell it was hand forged stainless steel. None of which is to say that I particularly enjoyed working with it. I'm sure a better smith could have made quicker progress than I did. Forging that stainless probably took me four times as long as mild would have. That's why I suggested forging just the removable fork part out of stainless.
  7. No doubt about it, lot's of metals have been used for cookware. Since the OP is asking in reference to modern consumers, my comment was directed that way. Not having to finish the stainless bits is one solution to the OP's problem. Cooking stuff that's not dishwasher safe is a turn-off for the majority of consumers. I actually googled the beeswax thing before I made that comment. It sounds like there's some compound in beehives that absolutely can cause a person with a bee sting allergy to have serious problems. My understanding was that some processes for extracting the wax will remove it, while others may not. It didn't sound like there's an easy way for a layman to know the difference looking at a block of beeswax. I don't know any more than that, and so I try to hew away from stuff that might cause a problem. You're quite correct that people have used all of the above for generations, and most of them without incident. I do suspect that it's easier to find a lawyer now than it was in the past.
  8. Durable and food-safe metal work generally gets done in stainless steel. I would steer away from finishes with beeswax as bee allergies are fairly common, same thing with peanut oil.
  9. JLP, You're quite correct that spark, heat, hardening, fracture, and temper testing are all much better indicators than sound. By the time I commented, all of those had been mentioned already in one form or another. I also started out by writing "A very unscientific approach..." My last reply ended by qualifying that it's far from conclusive.
  10. JLP I agree about how the hardness of a carbon steel impacts it's resonance. It also stands to reason that different carbon contents, and alloy compositions would have different resonances. Even in it's softest annealed state, I have a bar of 1095 that is much harder than mild steel. With otherwise similar dimensions, the 1095 is clearly higher pitched than the mild. I've observed the same phenomenon with annealed automotive coil springs. Even when a file bites fairly easily on the high carbon, it's higher pitched than mild steel round stock. That being said, it's good to clarify that my approach relies on having some mild steel of similar section to compare the mystery metal to. Even then, it's FAR from conclusive.
  11. Thomas, Thanks for this post. I just returned from a hammer-in where I was the only one with a side-blast forge, and a steel stand for my anvil. More than one old goat came over to tell me my newfangled forge and anvil stand were only good for nothing. Some to the point of outright rudeness in front of my kids. These are people who have undeniable experience and skill to whom I've always shown due respect. I don't know how they got to be experts without encountering such common equipment, but that didn't stop them from registering their firm opinions. As an interesting corollary, two gents who were a generation or more apart in age were talking about an insufferable young smith in Germany who'd been through some kind of formal European blacksmithing program. The gist of it was the young smith's contention that only those who'd graduated from a program like his could consider themselves to be master's of the craft. I was listening when it occurred to me that these two smiths only encounter one another once every few years at the hammer-in. They live hundreds of miles apart and they have entirely different social circles. Hammer-in aside, the only event they really had in common was being harangued by the same zealot. A long time ago I read an article about how societies tend to have their most impassioned differences between groups that have the most in common. Somehow, it's more frustrating to encounter someone who's "half a bubble off" our individual's beliefs. If that's really true, it sorta explains why experienced experts tend to take such offense to enthusiastic but semi-informed neophytes. Over the weekend one of my kids was struggling with bending a nice radius. I demonstrated how to tighten and open a bend with the horn and the bick probably a dozen times. Still, it was a struggle and I didn't want frustration to mount so I kept thinking of ways to communicate the lesson. Then it occurred to me that this was her first time at the forge and anvil. When you're total life experience with a hammer is measured in minutes, the intricacies of hitting a small spot are going to be a challenge. Encouraging the correct blows when they happened went a whole lot further than repeating the bending lesson. By choosing to be positive about what works, I broke the pattern of frustrating repetition without giving up on improvement for both of us. Just as a thought experiment, I'd like everyone to consider something; What would we talk about if it were possible to remove all uniformed rookies and/or questions rooted in superficial knowledge? I think it would become little more than peer-reviewed treatises on this or that with overly cautious and intentionally vague conclusions. Nobody could forebear the risk of offending a master of the art so we'd never write anything worth reading.
  12. I promise to use only my powers for good!
  13. I've seen that video and it's everything you claim. One thing I thought of was that a lot of guillotine tools sap energy from the hammer's blow. I made one with sliding dies and a huge whack with a 6lb hammer on fullering dies moves the stock about on par with my best efforts working with only a 2lb cross pein. That being said, the guillotine tool helps me to be much more precise while working alone. Since I use the 6 lb hammer mostly with the guillotine tool for precise work, I like to think of it as "my instrument of precision".
  14. I have an anvil brand and it's held up great but I'm in the same boat as 1forgeur.
  15. A very unscientific approach that might be helpful is to tap it with something hard and listen to the ring. High carbon steel rings at a higher pitch and with longer resonance than mild steel. Think of the sound you you'd hear when a drill bit hits the shop floor compared to the clank of a similarly sized nail. I realized one day while sweeping up my shop that I rarely lose a dropped drill bit but a whole lot of nails get away from me. I think the sound helps me to track where it went.