View Full Version : "Old" Blacksmith... "New" Machinist

09-07-2004, 12:22 PM
Greetings all form NW Arkansas,

I specialize in making Armor from the Middle Ages. I use mainly 16ga mild and stainless steel. However, I do vary to other thichness' and even alloys (i.e. Titanium) when I need to.

Recently turning 40 and not wanting to hammer for the next 25 years... I have constructed a large Hydraulic Press, a Kinyon style Air Hammer, and I'm working on a couple of other machines to save me time and effort.

I wanted to give you this background so you'd know why I'm becoming a "New" Machinist. I bought an old 9" South Bend with a 4ft bed/30" or so between centers. From the serial number and a website I found... it appears to have left the factory in Jan. of 1944! The reason for the Lathe is to help me with creating dies for the hammer and press.

So, I'm learning... I have a couple of old manuals on the way via ebay purchases. However, I'd like to ask advice on textbooks with projects designed to teach the new machinist. What would you suggest?

Thanks for your consideration and time. Back out to the shop for me...


09-07-2004, 02:07 PM

I went to a mideval festival and watched the blacksmiths in awe.

I got guy lautards books when I started with my lathe, not much bad stuff in them.

I would not stop with just a lathe, you can get a milling attachment for it and make it even more versatile. A lathe is one tool that can totally build another lathe. English wheel anvils are another nice to have around item. Check out the "tips" post of a month or so back.

Share, post some pictures. We can't all be experts at everything, I like to look.

I try to hammer out metal here too. Bought a 50 ton Ibeam type press after I had built the open frame HSM press. Dies are the next hot project around here. I build custom harley parts. I have been working on "this" project now for over a year.

09-07-2004, 02:21 PM
Aye, I'm watching for a Milling attachment... but I've seen a website with plans for one for the 9" lathe. Thinking hard about that.

I also have been working on drawings for toolholders/setupd that will let me do the concave and convex surfaces of specific arcs on my 2in round stock dies.

Let me see about pictures... here's a .gif of the gauntlets I've made wayyyyy too many of. (Need to take pictures of shop equipment sometime soon.)


Thanks for the Author... will look it up.

Back to it...


09-07-2004, 03:02 PM
There are a hundred designs to cut concave or round items.

I built a tool holder to go onto a 4" rotary indexer, I removed the compound tool post slide off my lathe. I then put a small compound slide I bought off ebay on the indexer. By sliding the compound back and forward you can adjust the radius. by cranking the small (too small) handle on the indexer you can circle the cutter on the stock. creep the infeed in over and over and soon you have a round cut fully around it. I have forearms like Popeye now. (before too)

Manual cutting of arcs on a lathe suck. but is much easier than paying someone with a cnc.

I built this to make some more anvils for my english wheel.

David Cofer, Of:
Tunnel Hill, North Georgia

09-07-2004, 03:08 PM
Gee, with gauntlets like that I could be the envy of the biker bar. Maybe weld a few spikes on the knuckles.. HA..

In the 70's I kept 3/8" thick x forearm length leather arm bands on each arm. Usually under the "blousy" shirts that was in style then. I had knife cuts on both armbands when I gave them away. Sure was a lot better than stitches.

I don't live like that now. Much happier and easier to get along with. All my mean friends are dead now. Someone "scared" killed them one problem at a time. A scared person is a lot more dangerous than a mean one.

What does a pair of gauntlets likes that go for? (I got this old 5' sword hanging on the wall too..)

David Cofer, Of:
Tunnel Hill, North Georgia

09-07-2004, 03:10 PM

Maybe you can use a few ideas from the milling attachment I made for my SB9.


09-07-2004, 08:58 PM
Greetings M'Lord!
So...I not the only greying armourer learning to do things in the mundane world! HUBAH! I lived in the village for many years and found a halberd and flail to be the most effective means of protecting the keep.(Those people were quite used to guns...)My persona was a 14th century Scot and I became known as "that crazy ba$*%^d in the skirt with the big axe!
Had to forge some rings for the tractor using a wood fire and a rock for an anvil.The wife's son was interested in the fire but went inside whilst I rang steel.Poor soul...I have to keep my few remaning arms locked up.Dressing Goth and appropriate/safe display of edged weapons are two very different things.
There are many fine Masters here and the best of luck to you,Sir.
Alway in your service,
FKA Eric Breadlebane of Kearsey

09-07-2004, 10:26 PM
Nice work Andy! Keep an eye open for a high school machine shop theory textbook. Try to find an older one that doesn't have the computer machines in it. These books are more in depth on the manual operations. They sometimes contain simple projects to get warmed up on.

As Bugs Bunny once said, "And who so art thou, in thy cast i-ron tuxedo?"


[This message has been edited by PolskiFran (edited 09-07-2004).]

09-07-2004, 11:02 PM
I am a blacksmith and over 50. I have a simple air hammer styled after the ABANA plans.

In the last few weeks I have made dies to hammer curves for my hammer. I used my mill to create these dies, but the hammer makes the curves and such in the sheet metal.

Both of my elbows have been redone, because of repetitive motion damage. One elbow is still healing, but for all of the machinery and tools that my shop, I still end up hammering the steel to make something my machines can't do.

Other things, I send out.


09-08-2004, 12:11 AM
Glad to see more metalshapers here. Makes me feel not so alone when trying to explain making planishing hammer or Pullmax dies. I thought my 1 1/2 dies were big. Good gosh man, 2" dies and 16ga! That's gotta be one big honking hammer! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Most of my stuff is automotive stock. 18ga. is about as thick I work in panels. Some 14 or 10ga. brackets on the press. More than that and I'm rolling out the "MIG Former".

I think there's a couple of us E-Wheelers here too. Eh Dave?

09-08-2004, 12:18 AM
As my original training was in sheet metal I have done my share of hand beating. Especially when making parts for aircraft usin heat treated aluminum alloy. You only have one go at it as it can't be heat treated to soften it again and only a few hours to do the job. Made a number of stiffener rings for the fuel bladder insertion and inspection holes for a ferry fuel tank on a helicopter. Also made some mounting rings for the areial cameras for the BC goverment Cessna Citation jets used for mapping the province. Built a Can-Am race car chassis with quite a bit of hand forming. I like hand metal forming but my hands are no longer up to the task. Sigh...

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 09-08-2004).]

09-08-2004, 06:52 AM

Don't feel like the lone ranger. My body keeps telling me I ain't no youngin.

I was working on a compressed air/propane cylinder and hammer setup.. Proximity fired w limit switch and coil.. The noise was deafening.. it sure hammered..

It'd be simple to replicate, just take a dirt bike cylinder and piston / head.. Could be a new fad among the "jessie who" crowd..

David Cofer, Of:
Tunnel Hill, North Georgia

09-08-2004, 11:14 AM
Thanks a lot for the responses all.

Aye, I'm feeling a bit of my age now at 40. I looke back at what I could once do without pain... and don't see a long future as a blacksmith if I continue doing everything by hand. Yes, those 16ga SS gauntlets have all been done by hand... cold... (takes less time to hammer them out could than to polish the discoloration off.)

Anyway, My goal is to make the shop to the point I can continue when I'm 65. But... wanting a decent quality of life between here and there... I want to do the majority of that changeover ~before~ the end of this year.

For those SCA (Society for Creative Anachronsims, Inc.) people out there... I'm known as Sir Andrew Ward from Calontir. Feel free to drop me a line at any point.

Gauntlet prices... 16ga mild steel $80 a pair. 16ga Stainless Steel are $110 a pr. And 16 Titanium (yes I heat it a lot) start at $250 a pair. None of the gauntlets are padded or strapped for use. Everyone's hands are different and people like different methods of doing it. (I use hot glue and rubberized foam padding and leather straps... no gloves.)

On books... I've found a couple on ebay... and ordered the cheap CD compilations of books in PDF format. I'm also currently making the rounds of the local used bookstores. On yet another subject... the personal library is growing. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

I've also got a line on stuff from Kennametal. My oldest brother is an Industrial Electrical Engineer... and I did the One-Line drawings for his company on the Rogers, AR Kennametal buildings. Seems as they make a few things I will want a supply of. Hopefully the "good ole' boy" network will be able to get me a few bucks off on the cost.

On the milling attachment... very cool... ya, I think i will be building one. Any plans out there for one on a 9" lathe? (South Bend... seems it came off the line back in Jan of 1944.)

And... at the risk of sounding like Tim Allen once again... Dang! I'm having fun!


09-08-2004, 11:26 AM
Andy, that one I gave you the link to is on a nine inch South bend. Plans? It's too simple to need plans, it only has about 6 parts not including fasteners. Just have a close look at how the compound is held in the cross slide and duplicate the method. You need to give some thought to where the compound will be located in relation to the spindle to make best use of the limited travel. Also, the underside of the flat stock that mounts on the cross slide needs a small area relieved to clear the slightly protruding brass cross slide nut attachment. The attachment holes are already provided by the factory in the top of the cross slide hidden under the compound. No reason it couldn't be made from steel but aluminum is easier to machine.

09-09-2004, 02:16 PM
My 10K SBL came with a Palmgren milling attachment. If I had not since bought a mill (Clausing vertical), I would make a copy of Evan's design to use instead. It looks to be a **lot** more rigid & therefore useful than the Palmgren.

Having acquired a bunch of new, old, and reprint machining books, I have to agree with Frank. The best intro book of the lot is an old HS text. If you can find one, it'll be cheap, too....

You might want to try a Scotch-Brite wheel for cleanup instead of, or prior to polishing. 6" or greater diameter, EXL-2S-FN. The smaller ones are only good for brush finish, not power sanding, and the more commonly available harder Scotch-Brites (higher #s than the 2) I've used are too much like a grinding wheel -- won't conform well to curved surfaces. Haven't used emery on a hammer face since I've discovered these things, and hardly ever use sanding sticks on silver or gold anymore, either.

Liked the animated GIF, good idea.


09-09-2004, 03:34 PM
You know you are not getting older, your are getting wiser. Now is the time to start teaching everything you know to apprentices and start writing a book on your processes.

Much knowledge is lost when we done share things with others.


Michael Moore
09-09-2004, 04:38 PM
I look forward to someday having the space (and noiseproofing) to add a pneumatic hammer to my English wheel.

But I'll probably stick with aluminum sheet for my projects.


09-09-2004, 10:22 PM
Ouch... 16ga Stainless has went up again. The sheet I bought today was $204... the one I bought 4 weeks ago... was $150.

On the aluminum front... I used to make a lot of stuff out of aluminum. Did it for probably 10 yrs. Then, during a stupid period of my life... I became and RN (longgg story.) After reading the ongoing medical research and the correlative data involving elevated aluminum in the bloodstream of Alzheimers, dementia, and other mental related problems... I stopped using aluminum unless it's absolutely necessary. I'm also the cook in our house. I clensed 'my' kitchen of aluminum pans, plates, utensils, you name it. I drink plenty of Diet DrPepper... but it comes out of the 2liter bottle... no cans.

Paranoia since it is just "correlative" data and not a "proof"... maybe. But one I can live with.

Up... boss is here... gotta go! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif


09-10-2004, 02:19 AM
Geez Andy, you gotta stop believing everything you read http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif I know quite a bit about medicine from years of self study to try and diagnose my own medical problems (turned out to be gluten intolerance which was missed by the doctors for a decade). I received one piece of advice from a very experienced doctor which turned out to be very valuable. He related as how first and second year medical students would often get in a panic about their own possible medical conditions and the supposed "problems" were directly correlated with whatever they had been studying recently. I did the same thing at first when studying the subject and the doctor was right (although he never did diagnose my actual problem).

There is just about as much correlation between aluminum and alzheimers as there is between eating and dying. Everyone eats and everyone dies. More to the point, everyone eats food grown with aluminum phosphate and aluminum sulphate fertilizer but not everyone has alzheimers. Maybe I shouldn't have told you that.

You imply that you no longer work with aluminum in metal work to avoid exposure. I have been working with aluminum for 40 years and still don't feel inclined to nibble on it while machining. Other sources are so much more important if there actually is a connection that metal working has to be at the bottom of the list.

There is so much smoke on this issue that it is impossible to tell where the fire is or even if it went out a long time ago. I don't worry about it.

09-10-2004, 11:33 AM
Finally one other thing to think about is that in machining there are really only two routes that could get alluminum into your body, your skin, and breathing in alluminum dust. The first route isn't going to get much of anything at all into you. Skin absorption is practically negligiable for solids because they can only touch the very outer layers of skin, which are dead anyway. If you were working with some sort of solvant or acid, then you *could* have a problem, but chances are the solvant or acid would do you more damage than any alluminum! As for breathing it in you must remember that your lungs are extremely effective at dealing with dust particles over a certain size. Even the finest "take a ten-thou off" turning operation will leave you with relatively large particles. When you breath that in it gets caught in the upper layers of your lungs and coughed back out again fairly quickly. Mind you, it does end up in your stomach, but overall the quantities are fairly small. The reason people figure stuff like cola's could be harmfull because most cola's are acidic and concevably are directly leaching the alluminum out directly. It's the same for cooking.

What can I say, I'm just starting arts school and was at the hour and a half long "Heath and Safety" lecture that they give to everyone. I actually asked the guy about dangers of machining and that's pretty much what he said, easy to get a nasty cut or worse, but insidious long term problems are less common. And in case your wondering, much to my surprise they've got a very well equipped machine shop on campus. A number of full sized Bridgeport style milling machines and a big pile of lathes. Pretty good for a arts school with 2000 students I think.

09-10-2004, 11:46 AM

I too cleaned out the aluminum from my kitchen. Iron skillets are my favorite.

I purchased about 60 sheets of mirror polished stainless 2x4' 16 ga at $2.00 a sheet. Some of the corners are bent.

Source? Motel room mirrors. I got them from the supplier. I like it, it cuts like butter with a shear or nibbler. We are down to about 40 sheets I think. It looks really good under a show car too.. shiny..

David Cofer, Of:
Tunnel Hill, North Georgia

09-10-2004, 12:16 PM
Correlation does not prove causality. It's the logical fallacy that if something follows something else, then whatever follows was caused by the preceding. George Carlin's line reduces it to absurdity: "Mother's milk is the cause of EVERYTHING!"

09-10-2004, 04:46 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Evan:
Everyone eats and everyone dies. More to the point, everyone eats food grown with aluminum phosphate and aluminum sulphate fertilizer but not everyone has alzheimers. </font>

Man, and I always thought it was Ammonium Sulfate and Ammonium Phosphate that was used as fertilizer. Damm Government holdin out again. JRouche.

09-10-2004, 05:30 PM
Aluminum sulphate and phosphate are used to control soil ph.

09-10-2004, 06:11 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Evan:
Aluminum sulphate and phosphate are used to control soil ph.</font>

And all the while the "experts" are gonna blame our fryin pans and beer cans. I'm off the bottle and back to cans! JR

09-10-2004, 06:21 PM

09-10-2004, 11:04 PM
1) I made sure I listed my concerns and the journals I read as "Correlative" and not "Proof" data. I do a bit of self-diagnosis... I.E. the dislocated hip I had recently did not necessitate a trip to the hospital. (Required a lot of Ibuprofen, doubling my Glucosamine intack, lost of hot tub time, a cane, and being have myself for several weeks.) On the Aluminum front... yes, it was journals from Doctors. Granted I don't take everything they say nor what is in print as "The Gospel"... but enough that I paid attention and made some changes.

2) I don't machine much. I honestly can't imagine a reason for me to ever machine aluminum. I bought the lathe and am learning to use it to make dies for the forming of sheet metal that I do. (Medieval Armor.) There is a LOT of sanding of edges and polishing in this. I do wear a serious mask when doing any sanding/polishing anymore (a "pesticide mask" from the Tractor Supply near me.) For years... I did not. I breathed the dust and wore the powder till the end of the day.

3) The statement of "everone injests X but not everyone gets Y" misses a lot. Not everyone that drinks gets drunk. Not everyone that gets infected with the flu actually gets sick. Not everyone that goes to war gets shot. I'm just saying that some of these increase the probability of the 'bad' effect happening. Nothing I said was in absolutes. Also... certain people's genetics alone make the more likely to get a condition/disease if another catalyst style factor is added. And... some peoples genetics will make it less likely even with the supposed catalyst.

Again, I'm not advocating people not machine aluminum. I just have my concerns and evidently inadequately stated them. I do have serious concerns about sanding and polishing aluminum without adequate protective gear. And... the "possible" ramifications.

Oh well... off to bed for now.


09-10-2004, 11:06 PM
ALSO, as I'm sure you've all noticed... I'm not the best "speller" in the world. Please forgive the typos and backwoods grammer.


09-10-2004, 11:19 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by andyward:
ALSO, as I'm sure you've all noticed... I'm not the best "speller" in the world. Please forgive the typos and backwoods grammer.

Made perfect sense to me... http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif