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Dakota Artist Blacksmith's Association

January News Letter

DABA By-Laws
Photo Album
Hammerin Rules
Contact Me
January News
Membership Application




Page 1

January 2005


Calendar of Events


¨       February 12, 2005 DABA Hammer-in 306 Pine St. Piedmont, SD 9:30 AM


¨       March 12, 2005 DABA Hammer-in 306 Pine St. Piedmont, SD 9:30 AM


¨       April 9, 2005 DABA Hammer-in 306 Pine St. Piedmont, SD 9:30 AM


¨       May 14, 2005, DABA Hammer-in 306 Pine St. Piedmont, SD


¨       June 10 – 12, 2005 Cavalry Days, Fort Meade, SD


Projects for Future Hammer-ins


February 12, 2005

¨       Make Flatters or Touchmark stamps


March 12, 2005

¨       Make Smithing Magicians possibly spring loaded


April 9, 2005

¨       Make tooling for animal heads and make animal heads


From the Editor

Happy New Year, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. 


We had an interesting discussion at the November Hammer-in concerning efforts to continue educating our community about the craft of blacksmithing and the effect that imported mass produced items have on the market place.  Most of us only pursue blacksmithing as a hobby, but it is nice to sell an item from time to time to help defray our expenses.  Yet we can hardly compete with the imported items available at the local chain stores.  Most people don’t know the difference between a hand forged item and one that was cold bent in the back alleys of some city in a Third World Country.  It is only through continued public demonstrations that we can show people the time and effort that goes into producing our products so that they can make a comparison based on the quality of the item instead of price alone. 


Many of you have reservations about participating in a public demonstration. I know the first time I did a demonstration I was more than a bit apprehensive.  There are several things you have to remember.  1. You are more skilled in the craft than you think you are.  2.  The general public has absolutely no clue as to what you are doing.   3.  The general public has a very short attention span.  4.  They will be absolutely amazed at anything you produce.  Keeping this in mind, I urge you to get involved in doing demonstrations.  If you do, whatever you make should be simple and quick to make.  It will take twice as long to make anything at a demonstration because you have to explain what you are doing, and answer questions about the process.  If it takes longer than 10 minutes to make, the people lose interest in the process.  Having two people at a demonstration helps immensely because while one person answers questions and explains the process while the other works. 


At the December meeting we decided on some changes for the hammer ins.  We will now select a beginner project and an intermediate project for our hammer ins for the upcoming quarter. The projects will then be published in advance in the Newsletter so that members will know in advance what projects will be worked on at each hammer in.  This will give more time for preparation and acquiring stock and will eliminate last minute guessing.  If you have anything you would like to see demonstrated or if there is anything you would like to make, please let us know so it can be scheduled.


At the December Hammer in, we had a last minute change of plans due to the fact that mostly knife makers showed up.  We decided instead of making the selected project, we would make pattern welded billets.  Everyone pitched in to cut and clean up the springs and saw blades that went into the billets.  We started with 5 layers and worked up from there.  Not only did members get valuable experience in forge welding, we also got to use the power hammers to draw out the billets which sure beats doing it by hand.  If you have never drawn out a billet by hand, take my word for it.  What we did in two and a half hours with power hammers would take two to three days swinging the biggest hammer you have if you did it by hand. 






Dakota Artist Blacksmith Association

Bellows page 2

January 2005

January Meeting:  The following is a brief synopsis of the business conducted at the January 8, 2005 Meeting:


Election Results:  Elections were held at the January 8, 2005 meeting.  The following officers were elected:

President – Richard A. (Woody) Hanson

Vice President – Harold Fenhaus

Secretary/Treasurer – Bill Urban


Lunch at the Hammer-Ins:  There was much discussion about how and who would provide lunch at the monthly hammer-ins.  It was decided that a signup sheet would be placed at each hammer-in so members could select a meeting to bring the lunch.  Members have the option of bringing either an entrée or a dessert.  Hopefully one of each for each meeting. 


Gas Forge Workshop List:  A list of individuals desiring to build a gas forge has been established. So far there are 6 people on the list.  If you want on the list, contact Jack Parks.  Work on the new batch of forges will start soon and Jack needs to know how much material to get.


Instructional Material:  Eric Wahl has volunteered to research some blacksmithing books and tapes that would be of benefit to our members.  Eric will make his recommendations so that we can vote on what items we want to purchase.  If you have any ideas along this line, please let us know. 


Demonstrators:  I volunteered to contact some smiths from the surrounding area to determine what they would charge to come and demonstrate at some of our hammer-ins. I will have a report and recommendations ready for a vote at the February meeting.


Scholarships:  The club voted to make Scholarships available to members to attend various blacksmithing events and functions.  The person receiving a scholarship would have to do a demo at a future hammer-in to share what they have learned with other members of the group.  To be considered for a Scholarship, you must apply to the group listing the event you plan to attend and the amount of money necessary for the event.  It is thought that in addition to the cost of Tuition, some additional funds would be granted to help defray the cost of transportation, lodging and meals.  This is your chance to go out and learn some new stuff and bring it back to the association.


Projects for Future Hammer-ins:  As you probably aware, on page one there is a list of projects for future hammer-ins.  Our plan is to have a beginner project and an intermediate project for each hammer-in.  We will select these projects based on the desires of our members.  Projects will be selected far enough in advance to allow for their publication in the Newsletter.  If you have a project in mind that you would like to make, there will be a sheet to list your pet project available at each hammer-in.  This will not only allow members to know well in advance what will be going on at each hammer-in, it will also make procurement of materials easier.


More on Finishes and Patinas:  I am told that Watco® Dark Wood Finish produces an excellent dark brown finish on steel.  Just paint it or wipe it on and let it dry.  I am also told that adding bronze powder to it gives an antique bronze finish.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I will and then give you all a full report.  I also plan to experiment with mixing Watco® Dark Wood Oil Finish with some gold paint to see what kind of finish it will produce. 


Don’t be Afraid to Experiment a Bit:  The monthly meetings are a never ending source of interesting discussions.  One of the topics we kicked around in December was the fact that many are reluctant to attempt something new or different for fear of failure.  Some are very comfortable when following a detailed diagram or making an exact copy of some existing piece, but become very uneasy at the thought of grabbing a hunk of steel and just making something from scratch inspired only by their imagination. What are you afraid of?  It is only a piece of steel for goodness sake.  If you completely mess it up, you have wasted a couple bucks at the most and if you learned something in the process it was very cheap education and you had some fun doing it. If it turns out great, you have something original to brag about. Besides that piece that you called junk and threw in the scrap pile today may be just the piece you need to finish your masterpiece next week.   Don’t worry if what you decide to make don’t turn out exactly as you planned.  If you started out to make a fork and break off one of the tines, a “technical adjustment”, will allow you to convert the piece into a steak turner.  Don’t hide your mistakes; share what you have learned with the rest of us so that we don’t have to make the same mistake.  Remember that a positive attitude and a vivid imagination are two of the best tool you have the more you use them, the better they work for you.  Whenever I hear the words “I can’t”, I am reminded of the quote by Bill Epps, a very well known blacksmith from Texas who said:  “I remember old I Can’t, the dumb son of a gun died in the poor house.” 





Dakota Artist Blacksmith Association

Bellows page 3

January 2005

Touchmarks:  What is a Touchmark?  It is a unique mark that an individual puts on a product to signify that he or she made it.  It is the individual’s brand so to speak.  It is stamped into the hot metal to permanently identify the piece.  Touchmarks can be as simple as a few cuts with a chisel or as elaborate as a company logo. At the February Hammer-in you will have the opportunity to make your own Touchmark.  Think about a design for your own personal brand.  Remember that if it is worth making, it is worth marking.  Some day when you are rich and famous, your early works will bring high dollars if they can be identified. 


Demonstrations:  June 10 – 12 is Cavalry Days at Fort Meade.  I plan to go and demonstrate.  Anyone who is interested in participating please let me know.  I would really appreciate the help.  In addition I have had some discussion with a person involved at Tahoka at Spearfish.  He is of the opinion that they would welcome anyone who would like to come up and put on a demonstration there.  This would be a great opportunity for you to get your wares out in front of the public and make a few bucks.  The fact that you can have a great time and meet some interesting people is an additional bonus.


Understanding Steel Types:  Often we hear that a particular piece of steel is 1095, 4340, 5160 or 52100, but what does that all mean?  The SAE Numbering System consists of usually 4 numbers the first two are the type of steel or alloy and the second two or three are the points of carbon contained in the steel.  A point of carbon is 1 one hundredth of one percent.  In the case of 52100, it has one hundred points of carbon or 1%.  The amount of carbon is the primary consideration in the hardenability of the steel.  In addition to the carbon content, other alloy materials introduced into the steel affect its ability to be hardened.  The table below lists the SAE Numbering System for some of the more common alloy steels.  Much of this information was taken from the Fall 2002 Edition of ABANA Hammer Blows:

SAE Series

Type of Steel


Plain Carbon Steel


Some Manganese is present




Nickel steel with 0.5% Nickel


3.5% Nickel


5.0% Nickel


Nickel Chromium steel.  33XX has somewhat higher amounts of both.














Low Chromium


Corrosion and heat resistant steel (stainless)


Medium Chromium


High Chromium


Chromium/Vanadium Steel


Tungsten Steel


Nickel/Chromium/Molybdenum Steel


Manganese/Silicon Steel

In addition to the above, the ASI had a letter code to identify various properties of steels.  Some of the more common ASI Codes that define certain traits of various tool steels are listed below.  This system gives very little information as to the properties of the alloy and in some cases does not identify all of the characteristics of the steel.  For instance the D Series and M Series are both Air Hardening Steels but that is nowhere identified in the ASI Code for these steels.

ASI Code

Type of Steel

ASI Code

Type of Steel

ASI Code

Type of Steel


Air hardening


Low alloy


Shock resistant


Die Steel








Oil hardening


Water hardening


Hot work alloys


Casting Steel





Dakota Artist Blacksmith Association

Bellows page 4

January 2005

Alloy Material



The addition of up to 1.8% carbon turns iron into steel.  Maximum hardness can be achieved at 0.65% or 65 points of carbon.  More that that helps to improve abrasion resistance bout does not increase the hardness appreciably.  Bellow 0.65% hardening becomes increasingly more difficult without resorting to fast quenches.  This comment applies to plain carbon steel only. The addition of other alloy materials can change the characteristics of the steel.


Increased hardness and strength over what can be obtained with Nickel but with the loss of some ductility.


Makes steel red hard so it is suitable for use in machine tools and will keep an edge at high cutting temperatures


Delivers a high yield strength in austenitic alloys and improves resistance to corrosion


Is found in all steel.  It scavengers sulfur to form manganese sulfide.  It lowers the arrest point.  Quenching speed is slower and quench penetration is improved so it can be used to improve the hardenability of medium to low carbon steels.  It combines with carbon to from carbides


Raises the arrest point, improves impact resistance, tensile strength and elastic limits.  Easily machined.


Lowers the arrest point, increases hardness and tensile strength, toughness and elastic limits.


Phosphorus is found in trace amounts in all steel but it should be minimized as it reduces impact resistance considerable at normal temperatures.  In other words it is “cold short” and tends to crack.  It is considered an impurity


Silicon is found in all steels and raises the arrest point.


Sulfur will combine with manganese if the alloy has ha high enough manganese content to form manganese sulfide.  Sulfur without sufficient Manganese combines with the iron to form iron sulfide.  Sulfur improves the machinability of steel and reduces impact resistance at forging temperatures so therefore is said to be “hot short” and has a tendency to crack.


Vanadium steels are resistant to alternating mechanical stress.  It reduces grain growth and refines the structure of the alloy.  Such steels have a high tensile strength and elastic limit while at the same time retaining a measure of ductility.  It combines with carbon to form carbides.  It is difficult to machine

Recycling Metals:  A great deal of energy and effort goes into the production of steel and other metals.  In the process, even with strict Environmental Regulations, a certain amount of pollution is inevitable. By recycling steel and the use of Junkyard Steel in some of our applications, we can help reduce the amount of pollution.  An additional advantage is that Junkyard Steel is considerably less expensive than virgin material and usually a lot more accessible. The big problem is how to know what you got and what can it be used for.  Below is a list of some of the common steel parts found in our scrap bins and Junkyards:

Junk Yard Steels




Agricultural Steel



Air hammer bits






Axles, truck, rear shaft



Axles, truck, rear hub stud



Axle, truck, rear wheel  stud



Ball bearings



Ball bearing races,  many ball bearing races are case hardened 8620




Band saw blades



Bits, Router



Bolts, Anchor



Bolts, heat treated



Bolts, heavy duty



Brake lever









Clutch Disk





Dakota Artist Blacksmith Association

Bellows page 5

January 2005




Clutch Spring



Coil Spring, auto



Coil Spring, truck



Cold rolled steel (Cold Finished)



Connecting Rod, Car



Connecting Rod, Truck






Cutter, Bolt



Cylinder head studs









Drill rod



Drill rod, high speed



End mills



Fan blades






Front Axle Center, Truck



Gear shift lever



Gears, transmission



Gun barrel



Harrow Disk



Hay rake teeth



Jackhammer bits



Knives, machine



Knives, woodworking



Leaf spring, car



Leaf spring, Truck



Lock washer



Lawnmower Blades






Mower knives



Music wire



Nail sets



Plainer blades



Plow beams



Plow disk



Plow shares



Pneumatic tools



Punches, Cold



Railroad Spikes



Railroad Spikes HC  (higher carbon)






Roller bearings



Saw Blades, many are high carbon






Snap rings



Spindle, wheel, truck



Spring clips



Spring Steel, clock



Steering Arms, Car



Steering Arms, Truck



Steering Arm Bolts





Dakota Artist Blacksmith Association

Bellows page 6

January 2005







Transmission Shaft



Transmission shifter rod, truck






Universal joints



Valve springs



Wire cable, plow steel



Wire cable, improved plow steel



Wire cable, extra improved plow steel






The Dilemma:  Now that you know all this information, what can you do with it?  How can you turn your new found treasures into usable items?  Here are a few suggestions:


Knives axes and cutting tools – Any of the plain Carbon steels 65 points carbon or above.  L-6, D-1, D-2, M-1, M-2, 5160 52100, O-1, and W-1 are a few of the more common knife steels.  As a caveat tool steels should be fully annealed before forging.  While this is not possible with the air hardening steels, it should be done with all others to avoid having the material shatter from the impact of forging and showering the area with red hot shrapnel.  


Hot cuts, drifts and hot punches – Wouldn’t it be nice to have hot work tools that don’t loose temper because of contact with red hot steel.  Consider some of the air hardening steels like D-1, D-2, M-1, and M-2.  They are built for high temperature use. 


Cold Chisels, punches and cold work tools – once again the air hardening tool steels are a good choice as are the S series of shock resistant tool steels. 


Hammers and Flatters and Fullers– 4140 and 4340 are popular choices. 


Spring Fullers – These need not be spring steel.  All steels have the same springiness, but each has a different yield point.  That is the amount of flexing it will take before it breaks.  A good choice here might be a mild steel tool with air hardening steel pieces welded on the working edges. 


Information on proper forging, heat treating and tempering can be found on the internet at, click on Property Data, select and the type of steel from the pull down menu which will bring up a second pull down menu of individual steels.  Click on the steel of your choice to display a page of information about the steel.


Hardening Steel – The amount of hardness that you can impart to a particular piece of steel depends on two things.  First the composition of the steel and second, the speed of the quench.  Steel must have certain properties before it can be fully hardened like a sufficient amount of carbon after that, the speed at which the steel can be cooled determines the hardness.   There are three commonly used quenches; brine, water and oil. Brine is the most severe of the quenches, followed by water and the oil.  An extra bit of hardness can be coaxed out of low carbon steels by the use of some quenching agents like “Super Quench” which is basically a brine solution with some surfactants added.  There are those who believe that an iced brine quench will produce as much hardness as can be obtained with “Super Quench”.  I have obtained good results using and iced brine solution on mild steel to make dies for my guillotine tool.  It is cheaper and easier to make than “Super Quench” and it doesn’t go “bad” on you after a while.  Simply add as much salt to a given quantity of water as it will take, then a while before you are ready to quench the metal, dump in a bunch of ice.  The addition of ice to a salt solution can lower the temperature of the solution to well below the freezing point of water depending on the concentration of salt in the solution and the amount of ice added.  In addition, the salt water boils at a much higher temperature than plain water.  This inhibits boiling of the liquid at the point where the quench solution contacts the metal which speeds the quenching.  Moving the metal in circles or figure eights in the quench solution also speeds the quenching because it keeps the metal in contact with cold solution.  Be sure to check the hardening properties of the particular steel before selecting a quenching agent.  High carbon steels and most tool steels will crack when quenched in “Super Quench” brine or water. 


Membership:  The more members we have, the stronger our organization gets.  Do you know anyone who is interested in blacksmithing, knifemaking or metal work?  If you do, sign them up and bring them to a meeting.




Dakota Artist-Blacksmiths’ Association

Membership Application

Mail to Jack Parks, P.O. Box 394 Piedmont, SD 57769



I, _________________________________________hereby apply for membership in the Dakota Artist-Blacksmiths’ Association


______________  $20.00 Regular Annual Membership


______________  $50.00 or more Annual Contributory Membership


______________  $10.00 Newsletter only



DATE  __________________   ABANA Member  ______ Yes        ______  No


Mailing Address____________________________________________________________________________




Phone (           ) __________ - ___________________    E-mail Address ______________________________








Dakota Artist-Blacksmith Association                                                                                                                                            

P.O. Box 394

Piedmont, SD 57769

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