Shame about that Dave, not an easy task to undertake in the first place, been there, done that, lost a shed load of money, (but from the visiting blacksmiths comments all had a great time and so I regarded it as a great success), got a lot of hassle, and got the T shirt, more important, the memories and the experience.
Hi Tom, whereabouts in the UK are you? This is a sketch I made for students coming on the courses at Westpoint in Devon, to try to illustrate/explain the relevant theoretical workings of a side blast hearth, the proportions of the nest in front of the tuyere will depend on the size of the work being done in the fire. In practice the sand/ash tends to level out with the top of the tue, and new fuel is added from the rear to maintain the overall height of the fire, the hot spot/working area is above the air hole in the tue, you need space between the sand /ash under the front of the tue to allow for the clinker to settle and collect, but if you pack it as illustrated, the clinker should not form under the tue making it difficult to remove. Key in using these hearths is fire management, and positioning of the workpiece, far too often I see fires far in excess of what is necessary, due to too much air being used, this just wastes fuel, creates clinker, burns the outside of large section metal before it is thoroughly soaked through for forging. The other thing students tend to do is to poke the metal into the clinker area, rather than lay it at a shallow angle or horizontal into the hot spot area. When clinker becomes a problem, you can tell by the heat spread on your workpiece. This is usually identified by different heat colour bands on your workpiece IE where clinker is, the air gets deflected /dispersed and gives a fiercer fire around its periphery, so what happens is that where you are expecting to get your work hot in the what was the hot spot, but due to the air deflection the hot spot(s) have moved, and your workpiece gets hotter or burns where you don't expect it. Each hearth has its own idiosyncrasies, but the theory is the same. In the picture the tank/tuyere is tilted to allow air bubbles not to be trapped at the front of the tue . this was done because ordinary tube was used to con Have fun
The tank/tuyere shown is tilted slightly so there will be no air trapped behind the front plate allowing the front to burn through. traditionally the tuyeres were conically shaped so this problem did not arise.
Hi Joe, Welcome, wood chisels can easily be made from old files, depends on what they are intended to do, and their profiles as to how you make them, for straight forward tanged style chisels, a heat source to anneal (soften the steel) and then you can use hand tools to shape and finish them, then back to the heat source to harden and temper them for their intended use. For socketed chisels, then you will need 'smithing type resources, there should be someone near you who may be able to assist with loan of facilities or even doing the basic work for you. You are in danger of getting into an addiction should you choose to start down the forging hot metal path. Enjoy and have fun
Often smokeless coal is not smokeless, just a different colour smoke, There are many varieties of smokeless coal/fuels, what brand name is the stuff you are thinking of using sold under? The Monkton Forging coke is becoming no longer available relatively soon, and a lot of UK 'smiths are turning to a coal, semi smokeless (whatever that means) from an open cast pit in South Wales, Ffos-y-fran who supply a welsh dry steam coal, the large nut being most favoured. It is also cheaper than the Monkton forging coke http://www.coalmerchantsfederation.co.uk/products/welsh-dry-steam should give you a local supplier, or Darch Fuels (among others) will palletize and have delivered to you. If you don't want to upset the neighbours, use lumpwood charcoal. Have fun
Filing is usuallya whitesmith/fitter/engineers operation rather than blacksmithing, the vise being suitable and positioned for the job being done, as a general rule fig 4 would be best practice for a 'smithing situation, also useful when using a hacksaw. Geometry of the body parts would dictate the best height, in this instance so you can achieve a flat face square to your stance. Similar rules apply to using a scythe or other hand powered tools in other industries/situations.
We have a number of blacksmiths in the area, Axminster is about 28 miles/45 km's from our training facility, you would have been most welcome to have a visit and a chat, maybe a play time too. Maybe next time?
It is always fascinating in historic places where visitors abound, playing guess what bit fits where, and what does it do and how do you use it. Some years ago I had a similar enquiry from someone in your part of the world NZ iirc who was in a group trying to bring an old industrial unit back to life and they too were trying to figure out what a similar item was, and how it was used. Sadly, i was not kept up to date with the progress, but these things are usually a very long in coming to fruition for various reasons, usually financial and red tape. Enjoy your curator's position for future generations to benefit from.