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  1. I've long since lost track of where I read about it, but basically all materials glow the same color when they're at the same high temperature. Spark testing to semi-scientifically define metal alloy contents is another cool thing. There's more to it than just looking for bursting sparks. Higher carbon steels will ring at a higher pitch than lower carbon steels of the same cross section. Plain high carbon steel will harden using the same process that would anneal (soften) non-ferrous metals like Copper or brass. Most Coal is slightly radioactive. I've been told that charcoal doesn't decompose which is one way that archaeologists can locate forges. Coal gas is very flammable, and it's heavier than air. On bottom blast forges with a blower attached it's possible for the gas from an idle coal fire to build up and work it's way out the inlet of the stationary blower, where it can drift over the fire and detonate. I have a cast-iron forge that split in two this way!
  2. JLP Services is right about the slip fit. Every example of a functional holdfast here has a tight fit.
  3. George, you're right, Coloradoan's are spending 33% of their income on housing.
  4. Thomas, Thank you for your post. I agree with you that something has to give. In the mean time, I think it's imperative for every parent to be honest about how things have changed with their kids. Right now, debt will likely play a bigger role in defining a kids future, than their education, or work experience will.
  5. My daughter wasn't motivated to do her best on the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test). So I decided to give her an assignment which I hoped would put her choices today into a meaningful context for her future. I asked her to roughly define her dream life with everything she cared about laid out over time in the future. Now working deductively from the assumption that her dreams are achievable, I asked her to roughly define how she might overcome the obstacles that separate her from her dreams. In practical terms, that meant estimating the cost of her dream life, then figuring out what careers currently offer sufficient compensation in the place she wanted to live. This is where I learned something a bit unexpected. Working off commonly available information on median incomes, home prices, and mortgage calculators, it's pretty easy to rough-out some understanding of what's going on in a given area. Back in the dark ages when I was in school, we were taught a maxim attributed to Ben Franklin, that one shouldn't spend more than a quarter of their income on lodging. So I took the median home price for a local city and chunked it into an online mortgage calculator set to "standard" defaults, and got a monthly payment. I multiplied that by 3 (12 months times one quarter) and arrived at the post-tax annual income for the household. I multiplied that by 1.2 figuring about 20% income tax, then compared the result to what census data says on the median household income for the city. I repeated the exercise for a half dozen cities in my area. In every case, the calculated income necessary to heed "traditional advice" was about 70% higher than the actual median household income. Now I realize that older folks might read that and conclude "well duh, everybody knows that home prices went up". Sure, but just for fun, consider taking Franklin's advice and applying it to yourself in today's housing market. Based on the census numbers, most people couldn't purchase their current home without exceeding a quarter of their household income. It's a humbling exercise. While investigating the most appealing of the available options, I asked her to look into what sort of experience, education, and social connections, she would you need to arrive at such a job. This naturally led to an investigation into the time and expense of higher education relative to it's reward. As my daughter was roughing out the necessary years of education and experience to hit the wage range to facilitate her dreams, I noticed something. High risk pregnancy due to maternal age starts at 30. If her dreams include having kids, she's gotta consider how much time she'll have to make that happen. Even assuming that a person graduates with an in-demand Bachelors (4 year) degree, their starting wage won't be sufficient to break even on the combined effect of supporting themselves, and the payments on their education loan. Super-rough calculations lead me to think that most of the "successful" graduates from higher ed, will still be accruing debt for at least five years after graduation. By the averages, that means a diligent, student who landed a job right away, will be 27 years old before they can expect to make progress on education debts they took on as a teenager. From personal experience, I can tell you that having kids is an expensive undertaking. A young couple waiting until they can afford to have kids, is likely to run out the biological clock. Couples that take on the debt to have kids while they can, may well struggle to save enough to purchase a home by the time they're 50 years old. This exercise taught me how much the world has changed in the past 20 years. Growing up, I heard plenty of career stories that started with a job sweeping the floors and ended with a corner office. As a teenager, college was presented as a near-magical pathway to prosperity. There are still opportunities for people to work their way up, and college can be vital to advancement. However, the stakes are higher than they've ever been. The truth for most of us is that there's never enough money or time to follow the "traditional" route. My daughter came up with a "plan A" which involves a staged approach to her career. "On paper" it'll take about five years longer to get from here to her dream, as compared to the uninterrupted college to work path. However, her plan would reduce her debt, while also providing a viable vocation to provide the means for her to get from stage to stage. All without sacrificing her dreams to accumulated debt. Oh, and for what it's worth, she came to see the PSAT a bit differently.
  6. Thomas, your posts about Bach music composed for organ reminded me of this. Leo Kottke was/is a huge influence on me. While listening, please consider that the original piece was composed and played using both hands and feet. I learned to play his version of this piece as a teenager which introduced me to several ideas and concepts. For example, the guitar is tuned to an open G which means that strumming the open strings will get you a G chord. This lowers the register to bring the requisite bass notes within fretting range of treble notes. The trade off, is that the guitarist now needs to work within a framework where most of the notes are in a completely different location. The inherent complexity kept it out of mainstream music for the most part. However in the 1990's some of the simpler open tunings came into favor in grunge, nu-metal, and alternative music because it lowered the register to better accompany baritone singers like the Tibetan Throat singers above. Another critical aspect of his technique is to introduce a very slight delay to make the lead stand out from the rhythm. Both "parts" are played at the same time, and a literal reading of the sheet music calls for the notes to happen in the same instant. Without his slight delay, the dynamic quality of the two parts tends to cancel one another out. His version of Bach's Jesu Joy of Man's desiring is on "6 and 12 string guitar" album which is often called "The armadillo" record because of the jacket illustrations. That album includes several pieces where the melody is relatively slow, but the requisite tempo to sustain the multi part composition borders on what people expect in electronic dance music. If any of you are interested in this, check out "Vaseline Machine Gun" about one minute in.
  7. I think it serves to add questions to the questions... The only soft tail that comes to mind is a Harley Davidson Motorcycle which doesn't make much sense. A 48" diameter auger could be for drilling caissons or planting trees.
  8. I have an old book called "Foxfire Five" which touches on blacksmithing, logging, bear hunting, and blackpowder rifle making. Another good one is "Hunting with the Bow and Arrow" by Saxton Pope.
  9. pnut, According to the author I mentioned earlier, there are a lot more lightning strikes in nature than suburban people would expect. Many of them strike the rocky tops of mountains where there's little fuel to keep a fire going. They specifically mentioned that charcoal doesn't decompose. As a result, animals encounter the smell of smoke more often than we might think.
  10. JHCC's comment reminded me of something tangential to this discussion. I have a book on longbow archery where an archer tried to use "primitive" archery equipment in the 1940's and 1950's. He used charring and smoke to conceal human scent on his clothing and equipment. He also used a fire to heat the lignin in the wooden arrow shafts to straighten them. Once cooled, the arrows stayed straight(er).
  11. For what it's worth, I've used sand and ash in lieu of clay for a few years. Wet everything down to form it so there's a depression below the tuyere, then light the fire. Even if the clinker sticks to the ash/sand, it'll still come free very easily without caving the whole deal in. The other advantage of the ash/sand liner is that I can unload everything into a bucket for easier transport/storage. My next forge will have a knock-down box sitting on folding steel sawhorses. I plan to make a wooden frame with a steel lip so long stock doesn't burn it.
  12. Building on what JHCC posted, I've noticed that some parts of wood grain burn differently than others. On charred hickory handles, there will be slight hollows between grain lines. I found that the resulting grain lines run from end to end where they mostly increase grip to resist torsion. I've read about primitive wooden arrow and spear shafts being charred for durability. Perhaps there's a point where outer char helps to seal fibers so they're less inclined to dry out?
  13. That's an interesting approach to a punched eye. I would imagine there is less time spent drifting, but the trade off is slitting a narrower cross section.
  14. I found this article which suggests higher SFPM figures than listed above, along with some data on horsepower requirements.
  15. Supaflupa, You could also try out "wet" forging where the anvil and hammer are wet. Hot steam blows the scale off the work with the first strike. It's messy and can be extremely loud if you have the right combination of large steel, and wet surfaces. Another angle that's seldom mentioned is that you can use borax to prevent scaling. That's more helpful when you're dealing with mostly perfect work going in for the last couple of heats. Borax is easier to get out of nooks and crannies than scale is. Finally, you might want to consider using a bucket of sand to clean up your work. I've had good results swishing small stock through sand at black heats. The sand works it's way into and around the curves.