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March 2012 smelt at bushfire forge


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#1 basher

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 10:29 PM

well about time too! Mick Maxen Myself and Eli Sideris had a great smelt yesterday. I think the best yet . certainly joint best. we started with a hot furnace . pre burn wood and acharcoal. we ran the furnace well keeping the load intervals at 10 minute drops. (or at least the furnace ran well despite us) we were aiming for iron with a 1.2 to 1 ore to fuel ratio. there was a lot of slag. we used 50 kg magnetite ore and 60 kg fuel including pre burn (so we got one to one fuel ore in the end). the bloom ended up being a big flat concave centred dense bloom 11kg or so there was another 2 or 3 kg of good bits . I think we lost a lot of ore in the slag which was plentiful and dense . run time was just over 4 hours... here are some piccies.

150kg of charcoal before sizing
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cooking the furnace
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Eli modeling the ritual tatas! (got to keep the fire gods happy)
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Our furnace is endowed. Posted Image
Owen loading wood for the pre burn Posted Image

first slag tap
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tapping slag with the family looking on
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dragging out the bloom
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initial forging with the 28lb sledge (too big for the job realy) Posted Image

squish that bloom
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bloom to the shop
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Alldays and Onions 200 weight eats bloom while Mick fire fights
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flat bloom Posted Image

thick dense pancake of a bloom
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bloom with a master blacksmith for size reference
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our notes jusf for my reference!
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#2 dablacksmith

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 10:34 PM

quite inpressive! so what are you going to make with the finished bloom....i have to try doing this once....

#3 basher

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 04:20 AM

this is out 14th or 15th smelt.....
I have always wanted to make my own hammer from ore...
most probably this will be refined and carburised (some not) and made into seax , I have a big store of samples from past smelts to mix and match different carbon levels all the way from wrought iron to cast iron
all the best Owen
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#4 beth

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 07:55 AM

owen im fascinated but confused, as usual, what did you smelt - is this cast iron i dont quite get what youve got there - the bloom or whatever - i have done a similar iron smelt years ago, but we poured it and cast it, is this similar?? the pictures are great :) and the photo of your notes is the greatest - looks MANIC!!! i like it!!!

#5 basher

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 11:44 AM

Beth this is a" smelt" not a cast iron melt. we are taking iron ore and making sponge or bloomery iron (in this case iron as oposed to bloomery steel) It is the basic form of wrought iron as used throughout the iron age up untill the advent of industrial iron production . This smelt used magnetite ore from sweden .It is a reduction process, the carbon monoxide produced in the stack from the heated charcoal, preferentialy combines with the oxygen in the iron oxide . the product is iron mixed in with slag . If you run a higher stack or change the ore to fuel mix you can produce steel (what the japanese would call tamahagane) . I find bloomery steel to be a pain so prefer to go down the route of making iron and then carburising it to make steel. It is possable to directly produce cast iron (what the japanese tatara smelters would call zuku) but that material has little use to a bladesmith other than using it to up the carbon content of lowe carbon material. all the best Owen
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#6 beth

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 11:50 AM

thanks owen, so in this case the slag is useful? i presumed it was always unwanted... i know little about this.. it seems like a great roots activity to be attempting though! hardcore :)

#7 basher

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 12:30 PM

the slag is not particularly useful, just a byproduct of the process . better wrought iron or steel has the slag worked out of it by hammering folding and re welding.
Owen Bush bladesmith
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#8 beth

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 01:09 PM

thanks owen, i thought you had kept it in there deliberately for some reason. i got it now!
:)

#9 basher

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 01:54 PM

why is this now in foundry and casting .
smelting is neither .
it is making bloomery wrought material, no melting involved in this case.
I am very confused
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#10 beth

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 03:57 PM

i expect i queered the pitch of your post with my confusing presumptions owen :) if its any consolation i for one now know its not anything to do with casting/melting :)

#11 mick maxen

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 04:26 PM

I can't add anything by way of photos from this smelt, but it was another good time had by all at Owen's. The smelt run without any dramas and just some fine tuning to get it running how we wanted it too.
The pancake piece in the photos weighs 11kgs and is about 12" diameter by 1 1/2" thick. We did not have anytime to cut it up but it will be very solid now its had a go under the 200cwt hammer.

To give you an idea of the product, here are some photos from a smelt we did in April last year. This time we let the bloom cool down and then cut it up.

This bloom weighs 18kgs

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The bloom in two halves,

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1/4 bloom,

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Mick.

#12 Kevin W

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 06:02 PM

Wonderfully, so glad you posted this, thanks.

#13 Frosty

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 06:15 PM

Thank you Owen, this has been very informative, the pics and notes especially. I've contemplated giving it a try but I contemplate lots of stuff. <grin>

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#14 MOblacksmith0530

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 09:10 PM

Gotta say I am a bit jealous. It is on my to do list.

#15 ramsies11

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 01:24 AM

owen, this is, dare i say it, very very impressive. if any metal worker looked at this and didnt think so, hed either of had to be doing this every weekend of his life, or is no true metal worker. this is facinating. by the looks of it, the outside of where you housed your fire was broken up, correct? i saw a similar thing done in japan, when they did the melting of the of the iron ore into the steel that the master smiths used in their katanas every year. you really should message me sometime and tell me about all this bloomery work. i find it facsinating.
"dont hand me that steel just because YOU think its cold, because its not to ME"

#16 beth

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 04:05 AM

wow that stuff looks amazing - so impressed youve got a handle on doing this :0 looks like its from outer space at the moment, im totally intrigued to see what magic you weill perform on it... ;)

#17 iron woodrow

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 05:34 AM

such a great thing to follow. i tried this years ago, with other smiths, but we only got a few tiny little blooms....

when I nod my head, hit it!

 

 


#18 ThomasPowers

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 11:28 AM

I was part of a bloomery crew for about a dozen years starting around 1991 with our major smelting done during the SCA's Pennsic War---we used to dig the clay for the furnace from a local stream bed and of course our air handling was all man powered.

First several years were had very small outputs but got to getting good 15 pound blooms on a regular basis towards the end. Ore makes a big difference with magnetite being a dream to smelt compared to taconite---which is even worse than goethite!

Our rituals always included cooking steaks and sausages over the furnace as well as singing and telling tales---6+ hours feeding the furnace you need some entertainment!

I really envy you that bloom consolidator!

And slag has a very good use if you have swampy bits in your driveway or garden path...
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#19 mick maxen

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 05:08 PM

ramsies 11,

You are right we did break up the stack. This was to get the bloom out. We did try to wiggle the bloom out and keep the stack but this is about the 3rd or 4th smelt using this stack so we decided that it would be best to build another one for the next time.

Here is the stack before we started to patch it up,

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This photo shows a glass over the air pipe so we can see how hot it is running and also see when its getting blocked up or the level of the slag is up to the tuyere,

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Mick.

#20 Stefflus

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 05:21 PM

Loving the pictures, thanks!

Now, I've got access to magnetite, but not for free since I don't work at the ore refinery anymore.
I would like to try this with bog ore at some point, but in the area there's also a ready supply of pyrite from the scrap piles of various mines.
I'm thinking it would be less cost and work to try with roasted pyrite first, are there any objections?




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