Where I live propane is cheaper than Coal or Charcoal, unless they
burn for a very long time. I dunno as I have never burned them. I
would think that propane would be less messy.
I would greatly appreciate input from both sides as I don't think
I even know the questions to ask yet.
I picked up "The complete modern blacksmith" by Alexander G.
Weygers at Lee Valley and it mentions using propane but I have no
ideas yet how the forge would look.
Thanx in advance
Live forever or die trying.
Thank you very much Trevor. But please don't let this stop others
from having their say. Like I said I'm new at this and want to learn
as much as I can about all aspects.
Live forever or die trying.
On Tue, 17 Feb 2004 19:02:13 -0700, Trevor Jones
Most others will tell you the same thing! Ron's the man when it comes to gas
OTOH, I have a friend who swears by his blown forge:
http://dfoggknives.com/forge.htm for a how-to.
Bill H. [my "reply to" address is real]
For those who may not have seen the original review:
"If this is a book on smithing, why doesn't forgework appear until
1/3rd of the way through ?
This isn't a book on smithing or forgework; it's a book on "how to
make stuff" for a backwoods fettler in a modern environment. Recycling
old car parts into garden tools, with the aid of a washing machine
motor, is this book's level. It goes no further.
Welding is simply not mentioned. This is inexcusable, and to call such
a book "complete" is downright deceitful.
Heat treating of steel is trivialised. Calling hardening "tempering"
repeatedly doesn't make it right. It certainly doesn't teach the
student why these processes are different, or how to understand how to
make them work.
Some of the advice on grinding is downright dangerous (NEVER grind on
the side of a wheel that isn't designed for it).
Even the advice on scrounging old steel is uselessly trivial. No
mention is made of why galvanised steel or car coilsprings aren't
worth picking up, but torsion bars and halfshafts are prizes. Without
any understanding of _why_ things behave as they do, this
cartoon-level of teaching is no help beyond the simplest level of
If you read this book, you may learn a little, but you won't learn to
_understand_ anything. At the simplest level, this is adequate. It's
an enjoyable book, and certainly attractive. I was lucky enough to
learn most of this stuff as a child, just by watching my Dad in his
garage. If you missed out first time around, then this book may be
helpful to you. It won't make you a competent smith though. It won't
tell you the first thing about why steel behaves as it does, why there
are so many different steels, and what to choose and use them for.
Anyone with minor exposure to basic workshop practice is probably
already far in advance of this book anyway.
There's no index. Unforgiveable in anything even trying to be a
Yup, that about sums it up. Wegner's and Bealer's ("The Art of
Blacksmithing") are from the very early days of blacksmithing revival.
"The New Edge of the Anvil" by Jack Andrews is FAR superior to either
of those books.
On Wed, 25 Feb 2004 22:54:42 +0000, Andy Dingley
Thank you for the review. I was wondering why the book was no good.
I really have little knowledge about metals in general and am glad
that people here are being very helpful.
I have looked over Ron Riels website and, WOW, my brain is spinning.
The ideas for propane burners and forges are very clear and I'm
starting to collect the parts for mine. This part I'm confidant with.
I just have no experience with what metals do under high heat.
Are there metals other than iron and steel that lend themselves to
I WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING!! (eventually)
Live forever or die trying.
On Fri, 27 Feb 2004 22:51:24 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Strictly speaking, no. "Smithing" was the art of working metals by
hammering. Once ironworking began to replace the more easily smelted
bronze, then the smiths who worked "the black metal" became known as
You can smith other metals, but you can't blacksmith them.
If you're starting out, then you should look at metals that are easily
available and easily worked. This means scrapyards ! Steel is your
obvious candidate, but avoid stainless and galvanised. Cast iron is
useless, wrought iron is excellent, if only you can find some
(Anything 19th century and not cast is a good possibility).
Another metal worth looking at is copper. This is a good sheetmetal,
not so useful as bar stock. I find much of mine as scrap water heaters
- about 20 gauge and very cheap. You'll usually work it cold, but it
needs regular annealing. A nice thing with copper is that it can take
a chemical patination to colour the surface afterwards.
Brasses and bronzes (alloys of copper with tin, zinc or phosphorous)
turn up in scrapyards (look for marine fittings, bearings and
gearing). These are excellent for machining, and have some scope for
forging. A lot depends on the alloy though, so either learn what
you're after or be prepared to experiment. Avoid all beryllium
copper, as used for springs, electrical contacts and extra-hard
beryllium bronze (spark proof hand tools from petrochemical works).
Beryllium is very toxic, especially if worked hot.
Aluminium is only really workable as sheet or by machining. Handy
stuff, because there are a great many useful extrusion sections
already around in scrapyards, but you'll not get far trying to work it
hot. Like copper, annealing is crucial if you're cold working sheet.
Silver is interesting too. You're working jewellery sized pieces, so
the prices are affordable and the scrap still has some value. There
are also some good courses around on it, which are hard to find for
Tim McCreights' "The Complete Metalsmith" is a bit of a misnomer, as
it's clearly aimed at silversmithing and maybe the other non-ferrous
metals, but it's a useful and recommended book nonetheless.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
Oppi Untracht's "Metal Techniques for Craftsmen" is another classic
and fascinating read, but it's expensive and of more interest to the
historian or the really serious silversmith.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
A rarer metal worth working with is titanium
Expensive to buy new, hard to find as scrap, and difficult to work !
Nice surface effects though. If you do try forging it, make sure it's
CP (commercially pure) alloy, not 6/4.
Actually, the CP titanium seems (on the basis of the tiniest bit of
experience) to be a doddle to work. It's very soft when hot & quite
forgiving. I was cleaning it up with a knotted wire brush in the angle
grinder, and getting a marvellous burninshed surface.
That bangle was TA11 (which I think is a 6/4), and that was hard work.
It was too hard for my puny hammer arm below a very bright orange,
even in a small section. But all that torment did give it a lovely
I'd love to find a source of scrap-priced CP barstock...
On 29 Feb 2004 12:45:30 -0800, email@example.com (Richard Sewell)
Scrap pipework ? The other alloys won't seamless draw, so most Ti
pipework is CP (and there's the chemical resistance too). My bike
frame is 3/2.5 alloy, which is about the hardest that is still
drawable and that's a frightening price for seamless tubestock. The
6/4 frames use welded tube.
That hydrazine plumbing was probably Ti. We should have got it anyway
- it had been out in the rain for _ages_ 8-)
I strongly disagree with the review. I first read Mr. Weygers' books in
the early '70's and thought they were a great resource, not only for
"how to make stuff", but more importantly, how to develop the mindset
that one can always find a way to make what one needs.
Because the book was a compilation of Mr. Weygers' three books: "The
Making of Tools", "The Modern Blacksmith", and "The Recycling, Use, and
Repair of Tools" by the current copyright holder/publisher/editor who
may or may not know anything about the subject. A quick perusal of the
table of contents would get a motivated person to the right section.
This book is not presented as a treatise on traditional blacksmithing,
but rather *modern* blacksmithing. Considering the scarcity of iron and
the general lack of availability, as well as high cost of anthracite
coal, to say nothing of the lack of demand for the products of
traditional blacksmithing, this is an extremely appropriate reference
for a *modern* smith.
The book goes a great deal further, and blacksmith frequently was in the
backwoods, being the only source of tools and implements for settlers
without the ability to craft their own. As far as it being about, "how
to make stuff", isn't that really what it's all about? A true smith can
take raw or recycled material and turn it into tools and implements that
he may then use to create other tools, implements, dwellings, vehicles,
Mr. Wegers is a smith/mechanic of such high order that he could have
been dropped into just about any primitive locale and through sheer
ingenuity and precise manual skill created first the tools and then the
implements he needed for whatever task arose. Not only that, he could
have created them with, if necessary, a degree of precision to equal
that of a machine. His early training enabled him to, literally create a
marine engine from raw material and were he to not have access to
electrical power, he would have made treadle operated machines.
While he doesn't mention welding, he does mention several other methods
of joining, which for many purposes would work for the designated purpose.
See pp. 21-26. He goes into quite adequate detail about hardening and
tempering. No amount of information is going to help someone who doesn't
have a feel for the process.
The issue isn't whether to grind on the side of the wheel or not. It is
more a matter of how. As long as one is careful and doesn't dig into the
side of the wheel, it's quite acceptable. "Machinery's Handbook, 13th
Edition" even mentions it on page 1475 as a way to restore old oilstones.
Refering again to the "Machinery's Handbook", it also neglects to
address the key issues of human existence, how to get laid, or patented
methods of hair growth, but it's still a great reference.
You'll learn to understand everything, and if you pay attention,
extrapolate and experiment, eventually become a Master of the Physical
Universe, with the ability to almost make anything out of nothing.
The average person exposed to basic workshop practice will not be able
to file to machine precision, nor generally make all the tools necessary
to create the items they are trying to make.
My first book on blacksmithing was Bealer's "The Art of Blacksmithing"
and I found it informative, but no more the definitive work then Mr.
Weygers. The first 66 pages of Raymond Lister's "Decorative Wrought
Ironwork in Great Britain" were also very informative, but far from
I've been tinkering for over 50 years and making my living as a
professional goldsmith for close to 35. In the course of my journeyman
stage in Germany, I learned to make simple and functional tools from
steel that I still use. While my experience with large pieces of ferrous
metal is fairly limited, it's really just a matter of scale. Shaping
metal with a hammer is shaping metal with a hammer.I recently set up a
shop to do ornamental ironwork and rather than merely buying everything
I need, I've called on that which I learned from Mr. Weygers so many
years ago and am improvising as much as possible. Anyone can go out and
buy a complete shop, but a true smith creates his, stamping it with his
ingenuity, personality, and creativity.
Minor nit: Nobody can buy a "complete" shop. I've seen shops literally
filled to the rafters with tools, jigs, and whatnot, but I've never seen
a "complete" shop because the next job in the door might require
something new. (g)
We are all entitled to our opinion. In mine the Weygers books are very good
in introducing the novice smith into the ways of scrounging and making do
with what is available, Guerrilla blacksmithing if you like. It is all in
the mindset in what one takes from a book.
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