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Questions and Answers from 
Blacksmith's Gazette

If you have a question on blacksmithing, you can: Send Us Your Question. We'll attempt to answer your question promptly or will post it to the alt.crafts.blacksmithing newsgroup and see if someone somewhere in the world can answer the question. If the question is of broad enough interest, it will also be published in Blacksmith's Gazette.

Champion Forge and Blower

Question: I have been trying to find information on a company formerly known as  Champion Blower & Forge, I cannot seem to find this company. Can you please tell me if this company is any longer in business.  Thanks.
— Mark Sweeney

Answer: The last address that I have on them is:

Champion Forge & Blower
P. O. Box 4098
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

I don’t have a zip code or telephone number. You might try a search on that address on the Internet.
I whould also like ask our readers if they have any information on the company. How about it readers?
—Fred Holder

Newsgroup alt.crafts.blacksmithing

Question: I am new to the internet and want to get involved with the newgroup  alt.crafts.blacksmithing. What do I need to do?  I enjoy the Blacksmith’s Gazette. Keep up the good work.   I demo Blacksmithing every Saturday at a Living History Farm. I hope to do something with a web page etc. soon.
—Anton Holstrom

Answer: Sounds like you are in about the same boat that I was 3 or 4 years ago. There are several ways to go. I subscribe to news service for about $35.00 a year to get the full news group service. You then subscribe to the ones that you want to read. There are also a couple of free methods:
Go to <> and do a power search on blacksmithing with the forum being “alt.crafts.blacksmithing”. That should give you all of the postings to date. Or you can do your search on a particular topic and get a much shorter list to read. I think you can sign up with them for newsgroup reading capability, there may be a charge.
Second option, go to <> and do a search on “blacksmithing” with the “discussion groups” selected. This should lead you to alt.crafts.blacksmithing and give you the listings of the newsgroup. You have to sign up in order to post to the group. I don’t know if there is a charge for this or not.
If your ISP offers newsgroups, you can use the newsreader that comes with your e-mail or with your browser depending upon what you have. I use Netscape and it has browser, e-mail, and newsgroups all together. I don’t like the format of the newsgroup presentations; hence, I like the presentations much better.

—Fred Holder

Swedish Anvil

Question: I have an anvil that I got from my aunt. The only markings on it are  a single star,  below that it has “made in sweden” and below that in about 1  inch letters it has the weight, 109 lbs. I don’t have a picture of it that I can get on the net as the markings except for the weight are quite faint. It seems to be one piece with an attached face and rather long  horn. Any idea what it might be besides heavy?
—Ed Dunn

Answer: What you have is an anvil made in Sweden, possibly in the 1930’s.  Their weight was in pounds, they had a single star with “Made in Sweden” below it.  They were advertised as being made from one solid block of Swedish Charcoal Steel, with no face plate to come loose. Don’t have any information as to who manufactured them. There was an ad in the Janney, Sensple, Hill and Company catalog, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1930 that lists an anvil like yours.
—Fred Holder

Chimney Design

Question: I have enjoyed the B.G. for a couple of years but this is the first time that I have written. I have finally moved to the country and have a shop to use. I want to build a forge and have been collecting the components needed.  I anticipate no trouble in building the forge table, but the venting is causing me some concern. I have installed a 10 in. diameter steel pipe that I found here as a  chimney and would like to build a side draft into it. My questions concern the dimensions required to ensure a good draw.
1.  Do I need to have a smoke chamber before narrowing to the 10 in. flue  pipe or can I simply vent into the flue through an opening in a flat plate?
2.  How large and what size does the opening into the flue need to be? Any information that you have or can refer me to would be appreciated.
—Rob Ahrens

Answer: I can’t answer your question because I’m not knowledgeable in chimney design to make any reasonable comments. However, Aldren A Watson in “The Village Blacksmith” addresses the subject while describing how to build a permanent forge. You’ll also find some good advice on building your forge. This book has been our for a number of years, mine is copyright 1977. With some luck, the book will be available in the library. I’ll publish your letter in Blacksmith’s Gazette to see if we can turn up some expert opinions.
Incidentally, have you tried posting on alt.crafts.blacksmithing. There are some pretty knowledgeable smiths reading and posting to that newsgroup. You can access it easily through your aol conntection.

—Fred Holder

Anvil History

Question: I like your web site. My question is where can I find the history  on an anvil. It is labeled top line to bottom on side 10 total , M??, > ?ta?e, house, hole, forge, Sheffield, England, warranted(picture of mouse) house, patent, 1018. The base under pointy part is numbered 24997. There are two hardy holes 1/2" round and 1" square. There are two 1” square holes in the curved area at each end, another hole up thru the  bottom center and 1/2 square in the base under the pointy end.
—David Durham

Answer: What you have is a Mousehole Anvil made in Sheffield, England. You can find out a lot about the anvil in Richard Postman’s book, “Anvils in America.” This is a self published book that is available from Postma Publishing, 10 Fisher Ct, Berrien Springs, MI 49103. You may find it in a library, but I doubt it. Excellent book on anvils.
The pointy part of the anvil is the “horn”  the round hole is the Pritchel hole and the square one is the Hardy. The square holes in the curved area were used to handle the anvil during manufacture. They were forged of wrought iron with a steel plate forge welded to the face. Excellent anvil.
—Fred Holder

Foster Anvil

Question: I was wondering if you could shed some light on an anvil I got for my 13 yr. son for XMAS. It’s a William Foster dated 1845. The initials “J.H.” apear below the date(perhaps the smith that > forged the anvil?). Also there appears to be a heart or crown above the name. Any info would be appreciated!
—Phil Stanley

Answer: I can’t offhand shed in light on your anvil. I checked in Richard Postman’s “Anvils in America” with no luck. If you would like to mail me a photo of the anvil, put something light colored behind it before taking the picture and send some dimensions and descriptive material, I’ll be happy to publish it in Blacksmith’s Gazette and try to turn up something on the anvil. With the crown, it sounds like it was made in some country with royalty. There were also a lot of anvils made with the distributor’s name on them. Sorry, I can’t be of more help.
—Fred Holder

Follow-up: Per your request, attached are some photos of the Foster anvil.The anvil was a XMAS present to my 13 yr. son, Nick. He is VERY  interested in blacksmithing(and he has gotten his Dad into the hobby/craft, as well). Perhaps you could help us get some info/history as to where it was manfactured and is this a fairly common or hard-to-find anvil?

Foster Anvil photo

Foster Anvil photo

Old Leg Vice

Question: Yesterday I bought an old leg vice at an antique store. When I got it home I was surprised to find what appears to be the owner’s name and the date 1823 punched into it with a series of what looks like prick punch marks. I didn’t think leg vices dated back this far. The vice does not appear to be a factory model apart from the screw, which is in very good condition and possibly a replacement. Everything else, including the triangular shaped plate to bolt it to the bench, appears to be hand forged. Good solid workmanship but nothing fancy, with some of the forge welds not quite totally successful but holding together well. Could the vice be this old or is someone having some fun at my expense? If it is that old it would be one of the earliest examples in this part of Australia, because the first settlers were only just making their way across our Great Dividing Range at that time. I would be very interested to hear from anyone who may be able to throw some light on this.
—Terry Miller

Answer: I’m not sure exactly when the leg vice was invented, but they have been around almost as long as blacksmiths. Yes, they would have existed in 1823. A lot of early leg vices would have been made by the smith himself, because there was no central manifactory for them in the early days. I’m not real sure where you would go to look for information on the origin of the leg vice, perhaps some of the better encylcopeidas would provide that information. However, to give you some idea,  Joseph Moxon in his “Mechanick Exercises or the Doctrine of Handy-Works” circa 1703 illustrates and describes the leg vise, so they are hardly a recent invention.
—Fred Holder

Identifying a Forge and Anvil

Question: Altough I am not new to metal work, I am new to blacksmithing. I grew up working with my father in his home machine shop on the Texas coast. Mostly shrimp boat, and sail boat work. I have recently accuired an anvil and a forge. I found some information about my anvil in one of your articals and was wondering if you could tell me more about it. It has stamped on its side SWEDEN PARAGON 103#. This anvil came out of the  Missouri KansasTexas rail road round house (locomotive servicing facility). A fine old retired R.R. gentleman sold-handed it down to me for $20.00. Every body tells me what a steal but it was really more a gift. So what more can you tell me about it? I also got a forge from another fella that I know nothig about. It stands on four legs, the fire pot is about 20" dia., the blower is mounted under the forge, it has written on it’s side NO.150 REG.U.S. PAT. OFF. it has a handle attached to a 8" gear attached to a shaft that turns a wooden pulley that runs a leather strap that turns the blower. The blower has a clinker breaker coming off of it. It has some mounting holes that may have been for a hood of some sort. Also brakets with hole and set screws on two of the legs. The guy that gave it to me got it off a working ranch 20 to 30 yrs. ago. If you can come up with any thing on these two please let me know.

 —Mike Menard

Answer: Finally, got around to looking in my book, Anvils in America by Richard Postman. Richard devotes almost three pages to the Paragon anvil, which was made by a Swedish company names Soderfors. The advertisements claim that they are solid forged steel, but Postman feels they are cast steel. He says that it really doesn’t make any difference, because they are excellent anvils. Soderfors has supposedly been making anvils since about 1200 AD; however, he could only find records of the Paragon anvil dating from around 1902 as the oldest and about 1934 as the newest. Soderfors Bruks Akkticbolag was located in Falun, Sweden and exported blacksmith’s , farrier’s, and sawmaker’s anvils to the United States. The number stamped on the anvil would be its actual weight, they didn’t use codes. Paragon Solid Steel Anvils were made in weights from 50 pounds to 450 pounds. They were marked in different ways, come having a crown, some having the image of a raxor, some having the name cast in and some having it stamped on. My copy of the January 1, 1909 Champion blower and Forge co. Catalog lists a No. 150 as an Agricultural Lever and Crank forge. It is pictured on page 13 of the catalog. Says the hearth is 18 inches , fan is 8 inches, weight is 75 pounds. and it sold new for $14.00. The forge was equipped with a small shield to protect the fire from the wind. It is quite possible that a company like Sears was selling Champion Forges under their own name.

This is the best that I can come up with at this time. I’ll publish your letter in Blacksmith’s Gazette and see if anyone else can come up with more information.

 —Fred Holder


Gas Forge Question

 Question: I am looking to by a propane forge and wondered if you had a recommendation for me.  I am willing to spend up to $500 for such an item. Thanks for your help.

—Tim Mariott, Raymond, MS

Answer: I’m a coal forge smith myself and have never used a gas forge, so can’t be of much help. If you have newsgroup access on  the Internet (which you can get through,  you can post your question on alt.crafts.blacksmihting and probably get more information than you every really wanted. Lots of gas forge smiths reading and posting to that newsgroup. You might just try going to: <> and selecting “Power Search” then enter “alt.crafts.blacksmithing” in the proper place and put “gas forge” in the subject or topic area. Should turn up a great deal of posts related to  gas forge. Or you can just go to DejaNews and type in blacksmithing in the subject area and probably get most of the alt.crafts.blacksmithing postings with reading material for a week. Sorry I can’t be more helpful directly, but I’ve never even used a gas forge. Perhaps some of oour readers can help you.

 —Fred Holder

 History Question - Taps & Dies

Question: My uncle, who is a retired smithy has been trying to find out how taps and dies were made and used long ago when the only materials available to a blacksmith were wrought iron or mild steel, probably too soft for a durable tool.   He thinks that such items were used by small local smiths using their own particular thread sizes for making nuts & bolts before any standardization came along. I don’t know just what period he’s referring to and I should imagine that most blacksmiths would  prefer to employ rivets, but thought I’d ask anyway.

—Tony Collins

Answer: It is pretty likely that the earliest screws in history were made in wood and were hand carved by the maker using a knife or chisel or perhaps only a broken rock with a sharp edge. The earliest form may have been done for decoration and may have been cut between the strips of raw hide used to wrap around a tool or weapon handle for added strength. By accident, someone may have learned that by mounting the cylinder with the spiraling groove between two mounting locations that a follower could be added to move something along the spiral. This may have been the first use of the screw. Unfortunately, this is all speculation, because the actual invention of the screw thread seems to have been lost before history was ever recorded. The earliest record that I’ve been able to find that might pinpoint a beginning of the use of screw threads dates to about 200 B.C., when Greek mathematician, Apollonius, described the geometry of the spiral helix, which is the
basis for a screw thread. Also, Greeks and Romans both used screw presses to squeeze grapes and crush olives. A Pompeiian mural shows a screw press being used to make linen, according to one source. On a more modern reference, in the 1703  edition of Mechanick Exercises or the Doctrine of Handy-Works, Joseph Moxon refers to the screw-plate and its taps as a standard piece of equipment in the blacksmith shop. He describes the screw plate as having several holes in it, each less than the others. He says that these holes are threads grooved inwards, into which grooves fit the respective taps that belong to them. Sounds like the tap was made and then a hole was punched or drilled and a threaded hole was made in the screw plate with the tap. The screw plate was used to make the external thread and the tap to make the internal thread. A screw plate with several taps would be similar to a set of taps and dies today. I had recently researched this subject trying to determine exactly when screw threads were invented and the methods for making them in those early beginnings. If someone comes up with something better, I would be most pleased.

—Fred Holder

 Access to Blacksmithing Newsgroup

Question: I don’t have AOL, how can I access the newsgroup?

Answer: There are at least three options that I know of to access newsgroups such as alt.crafts.blacksmithing:

1. Most browsers have the ability to read the newsgroups. You simply have to set it up to access them through your ISP. I personally didn’t care for the formatting of the stuff coming in through my newsgroup reader.

2. DejaNews offers newsgroup access free, you simply have to join their My Deja News. They have a lot of newsgroups available, in fact, most if not all of them. I really don’t care much for their format and they keep changing it on a pretty regular basis. You don’t need a news group reader to use DejaNews.

3. For the last two or three years, I’ve been using ExtraNewsGuy news service (it used to be Zippo News Service). I think it costs somewhere around $35.00 a year and I like the format of their newsgroup listings. No news group reader is needed  you use your browser directly. I like their format of presentation. Unfortunately, they do not carry every newsgroup, especially in the alt.* area, but most of them aren’t that spectacular anyway. They do carry alt.crafts.blacksmithing, however. To access them, go to their web site: sp; and sign up with a credit card. Then you have to subscribe to the newsgroups that you want to view on a regular basis.

These are all alternates that I know of to using a service like AOL, which is not handy for me because they do not have a local, non-toll, number for me to use. Their service may not be too expensive, but the local long distance bill would break my back.

—Fred Holder

Peavy Stick Inventor

Question: My great grandfather was Joseph George Peavy, a French-Canadian who settled on the Coeur d’Alene Indian reservation in the 1890’s. He also opened the first blacksmith shop in Spokane, WA in the early 1900’s. Our family stories give him credit for inventing the Peavy stick used by loggers to roll logs. Recently, it has been brought to my attention that the inventor was indeed George Peavy, but this Peavy lived in Maine and invented the device in 1865. Any blacksmith historians out there to confirm who really invented the Peavy stick? E-Mail responses to:
—Tom Deno

Answer: I’ll publish your letter in the November issue of Blacksmith’s Gazette and post your message on alt.crafts.blacksmithing.
—Fred Holder

Looking for Hammer

Question: Do you know of a good power hammer for sale, 150 lb. or less.
—Matt Lamey

Answer: I don’t know of any specific hammers available at this time. Have you checked with the following places:
G. V. Eads and Co. , Inc. TEL: 203-927-3553. They are in Kent, CT
Automotive Inc./Little giant, TEL: 402-873-6603. They are in Nebraska city, NE
Iron Age Antiques, TEL: 302-539-5344, They are inOcean View, Deleware
—Fred Holder
Subsquent to my answer to Matt, I sat down to read the current Anvil’s Ring that had just came in that day. There were several classified ads listing anvils for sale. I subsquently e-mailed him the telephone numbers from the ads, the following question followed:
Question: How do I get a subscription for Anvils Ring or any other magazine that has classifieds?
—Matt Lamey
Answer: Go to my Blacksmith’s Gazette web site: <>
Then go to the bottom of the page. About the last of the bulleted places is the links page. Right at the top of the links page is the ABANA link. Go to their web site and join ABANA, you’ll then get the Anvil's Ring.
—Fred Holder

This Page Last Updated on November 234, 2002.