Modern Blacksmithing Rational Horse Shoeing and Wagon Making

with rules, tables, recipes, etc., useful to manufactures, blacksmiths, machinists, well-drillers, engineers, liverymen, horse-shoers, farmers, wagon-makers, mechanics, amateurs and all others who have occasion to perform the work for which this book is primarily intended. by J.G. Homstrom 1901

Mill Picks - Harden Files - Taps and Dies - Butcher Knife


Mill picks are very easily dressed and hardened, the whole trick in this case, as in many others, lies in the right heat of the steel. Be careful not to heat to a higher than a red heat. Dress the pick and temper with a low heat, when the color is dark yellow the temper is right, if the steel is of the right kind. No other hardening compound is necessary than water. After a little experience any smith can do this work first class. A smith once wanted to buy my receipt for tempering. He believed I had a wonderful prescription, at' I could not succeed as I did. I told him I used only water, but he insisted that I was selfish and would not reveal it to him. If tools and receipts would do the work there would be no need of experienced mechanics. Tools and receipts are both necessary, but it must be a skilled hand to apply them.


The best way to harden files is to have a cast iron bucket filled with lead. Heat it until the lead is red hot, then plunge the file into this, handle up. This will give a uniform heat and the file will not warp so easy if the heat is right. In cooling the file off, use a box four or five feet long with salt water in, run the file back and forth endwise, not sideways, that will warp the file, take it out of the water while yet sizzling. Now, if warped, set it between a device so that you can bend it right. While in this position sprinkle water over where you straighten until cold and the file will be right.


Heat the tap or die to a red cherry, cool off entirely in water, brighten with an emery paper. Now, hold over a hot iron until the tap or die has a dark straw color, then cool off. If a light tap, the temper can be drawn over a gaslight, using a blowpipe.


To make a butcher knife, one smith will simply take an old file, shape it into a knife, and harden. The best way to make a knife is to first draw out a piece of iron 3/4 inch wide and 1/16 of an inch thick, twice the length of the knife. Prepare the steel the same width as the iron 1/8 of an inch thick, weld this steel in between the iron. This will make a knife that will not break. When ready to harden heat to a low red heat, cool off entirely in water. Brighten and hold over a hot iron until brown, then cool off. The steel should be good tool steel, a flat file will do, but the cuts must be ground or filed off entirely before you touch it with the hammer, for if the cuts are hammered in they will make cracks in the edge of the knife, and the same will break out.