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Charcoal vs coal forge

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#1 Tim McCoy

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 01:30 AM

Cannot find any coal for sale within 150 miles ... starting my forge in Las Vegas, NV ... for the time being I would like any info on charcoal used in forges ... what's the upper limit on temps? Will be using a wheel drum-air fed forge ... about 13" across and 3" deep. Have plans for wood to charcoal converting system ... mainly interested in something to get started with until I can make a trip to Sedona or Flagstaff (nicer trip than going to Pheonix) for some pea coal. Will check with local ferriers this week-end.



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Posted 09 October 2009 - 07:12 AM

Hey Tim,
nice to see someone else local. I haven't called them yet, but there is a supplier in StGeorge, and there are coal mines in Utah. I will get the info when I get home from work, as I am headed out the door as I type.

#3 civilwarblacksmith


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Posted 09 October 2009 - 07:42 AM

You will be able to use a charcoal forge the same as using coal. Do not use the brequette charcoal as that is sawdust and tars and oils. Use only the hardwood charcoal. Some of it may need to be broken up a bit.

you will use more of the charcoal than you will coal and so will be more expensive to run unless you make your own.

You will also be able to attain welding temperatures with the chatcoal as well. You will get a good amount of fireflies (sparks) from the charcoal. So make sure you are in a safe place to use it.



#4 Oak Hill Forge

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 08:39 AM

I'm not sure about Las Vegas, but here in Va. you can purchase real wood charcoal at Lowes and Home Depot. It forges fine , but it burns really fast. I would guess fuel costs would equal propane gas forging. I'm shocked that people in Las Vegas don't heat their homes with coal ? Just kidding......:) We enjoy NV and AZ. have inlaws in Bullhead City

#5 Leo33


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Posted 09 October 2009 - 10:22 AM

Hi Tim,

I do a lot of forging with hardwood charcoal and to support the other replys, you can do just about anything with it and it's clean, clean, clean. Forge Welding temperature can be obtained fairly easily with the right fire. I'm not that concerned with the speed at which I use up my fuel, because I have a lot of access to hardwood and I make a lot of my own charcoal. I have also bought bags of it at Lowes, and my local grocery store which carries a lot of hardwood charcoal, especially in the summer months. The charcoal does release a lot of sparks, (fireflies) as mentioned above. I've never come close to starting an unwanted fire from this stuff, although it is better to be safe than sorry. However, I always catch a couple of sparks on the hands and in the face, and they do leave little burns, so protect yourself. Happy Forging!!


#6 Francis Trez Cole

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 10:24 AM

Pieh tools in Az has coal for sale. when I did a Job a few years ago i needed charcoal I went to the resturant supply or food distributer they carred 40# bags of mesquire at that time it was very inexpencive. But you will use twice as much wood charcoal as coal.
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He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

#7 ThomasPowers


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Posted 09 October 2009 - 10:34 AM

Charcoal was the fuel used for about the first 1000 years of iron working including smelting it from ore, forge welding and even melting iron/steel in certain areas.

It will get how enough to burn your work up. How much hotter do you need it?

It helps to modify your forge for charcoal---you want a deep fire but not a broad one as all charcoal on the forge will burn even the stuff on the sides you are not using. I usually put a firebrick or two next to the forge pot to contain the charcoal pile into the "using" area.

Charcoal also needs less air than coal does so throttle your blower *way* down. Handcrank or bellows works much better than powered blowers for using charcoal.

As mention you want to use real chunk charcoal NOT briquettes. You may also want to reduce the size of the chunks if they are large. appx 1" cubes is one suggestion---some folks drive the chunks through a grating to get fast and dirty sizing. The dust and any partially uncharred pieces help increase the forge flea problem as does dampness (that you can "cook out" by letting new fuel roast on top the fire a bit.)

Charcoal has been used for forging from the very beginning through NOW! (coal started in the high to late middle ages) as you can make it almost anywhere while good coal is *HARD* to find.

BTW the local grocery store had their charcoal on 1/2 price sale lately as it's the "end of the season"...
Thomas Psychotic Psychobabblonian Powers



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Posted 09 October 2009 - 04:27 PM

Morwood coal, and supply

856 N Valley View Drive, St George 435 673 6282

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