Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October's Open Books

The Backyard Blacksmith (Jeff) - Lorelei Sims (perpetually open!) The Blacksmith's Craft (Jeff) - Charles McRaven A Short History of the World (Jeff) - J.M. Roberts

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My First Demonstration as a Colonial Blacksmith

After being cancelled on Saturday due to rain, the Market Fair at Claude Moore Farm in McLean, Virginia opened on Sunday, giving me the chance to have my first blacksmithing demonstration as a living history reenactor. Since the year was supposed to be 1771, I got to blacksmith in appropriate attire (except for the boots that the mud made necessary).

I had a great time, and really appreciate all your encouragement. And, please save the date -- I'll be doing this again the 3rd weekend in May. It should be warmer, at least!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Vulcan Anvil

The anvil I will most likely use (unless Erin can convince me to use his because it rings more :-) ) at the Claude Moore Market Fair this October is one we dug out of the pig barn there (literally) and spiffed it up with an angle grinder and some mineral oil and it looks great.  You can see some shots of it and its little brother (also found buried and unloved on the farm) on my Market Fair post here, but I thought some of you might be interested in the history of these anvils.

I found this information posted on some public blacksmithing sites posted by some real pros and I have tried to faithfully represent their words, but please forgive me if I miscredit or misquote someone - that mistake would surely be mine and hopefully will not reflect negatively on the fine individuals I got the data from!

I found these comments on Vulcan today, which I thought some of you might find interesting:

"Production of one-piece steel anvils was pretty well limited to imports from Sweden, with Kolhswa, SISCO and Soderfors (Paragon) being the leading brands.  One American manufacturer was Columbian (indented triangle with a C logo)."

"Likely the majority of the anvils manufactured in the U.S. were constructed of a cast iron body and steel plate.  These were sometimes called 'dead' or 'city' anvils as they did not have the distinctive 'ring' of a composite bodied anvil.  Fisher & Norris and Vulcan pretty well dominated this market.  Fisher & Norris anvils were targeted to the blacksmithing market and they may have produced more anvils than U.S. composite-bodied anvils combined.  They were the first and last major U.S. anvil manufacturer being in business from about 1854 to 1970.  Vulcan anvils were often carried as the low-end anvil in national mail order catalogs and were predominately intended for places such as schools, garages and farms.  While Fisher & Norris (only FISHER is on the anvil, usually on the front foot) were of the London-pattern, Vulcans tended to be blocky.  Fisher & Norris' logo was an eagle holding an anchor while Vulcan's was a circle or oval with an arm holding a hammer)."

"Cast iron bodied, steel plate top anvils are popular for use in residential neighborhoods due to their lack of a ring.  (And a propane forge and non-ringing anvil will go a long way towards being a good neighbor.)"

"I wouldn't go over about $1.00 pound for a VULCAN. They were apparently never marketed for the blacksmithing trade, but rather to institutions, garages, farms, schools and such. Normally they were carried as the 'low end' anvils in national hardware catalogs. They tend to be short, fat and ugly versus the typical Fisher & Norris, with their much more classic London pattern look."

"Vulcan anvils are a huge step up from a Harbor Freight cast iron ASO (Anvil Shaped Object - for looks only).  They are made with a steel face and horn plate with cast iron body. As such they are a quiet anvil and so good to use when you have close neighbors.  However, the face is generally softer than many traditionaly made anvils and may also be thinner. They are also harder to repair."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Jeff's Blacksmithing Debut -- Please Come!

So, my wife says I'm "a bit nervous" , but talking about blacksmithing is going to be loads of fun for me! Plus, I get to demonstrate it!  Here's the details for those of you who live nearby:

Colonial Market Fair -- October 17th and 18th

Notice is herewith given that a Market and Fair shall be held on the third full weekend of the months May, July, October of this year instant, at the grounds so set aside and designated near the Claude Moore Colonial Farm at Turkey Run below the Little Falls of the Potowmack on the Georgetown Pike in McLean Virginia.

The Claude Moore Colonial Farm
6310 Georgetown Pike • McLean, VA 22101 -- 703-442-7557
October 17th and 18th
Saturday and Sunday 11am-4:30pm
$5 for adults; $2.50 for children (3-12 years old) and senior citizens but please note the discounted 50% off coupon for admission.

If you are available, please show up -- I'd love the support. Just don't make too much fun of my fancy colonial attire!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Anvil Hardness Testing

I found some interesting information online today about hardness testing.  I am posting this here for my own purposes, so please don't question me on the authenticity or veracity of these claims.  I have not verified the content.

Testing an anvil top for hardness - two popular methods:

1 - Drop a 1" steel ball from 10" and record rebound on several areas of the top - Measured from the bottom of the ball to the bottom of the ball at the peak of the first bounce at  center of anvil over waist
    --- Anything below 40% is generally junk and some ASO's test as low as 10%
    --- 50%  (5")  is OK but a relatively soft anvil
    --- 70%  (7")  is an average good anvil
    --- 80%  (8")  and up are top quality anvils.

2 - Hit the top plate moderately hard with the ball end of a heavy ballpeen hammer.  Dimpling indicates a top too soft to stand up to significant usage.