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About rdennett

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    Junior Member

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  • Gender
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  • Location
    Austin, TX


  • Location
    Austin, TX
  • Biography
    Occasional amateur blacksmith
  • Interests
  • Occupation
    Computer Programmer

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  1. I discovered that Tractor Supply only stocks it seasonally and the local Centaur has closed down. Is there a more consistent source of coal or coke around here? I currently have some bituminous coal and some coke (~25 lbs. each), but I am trying to set up a forge at a Makerspace and don't want to tap into my own supplies if I don't have to. I used to see this stuff advertised on Craigslist a lot, but not lately. I will go to charcoal if I have to, but I would rather use coal. Propane isn't in the budget (not the fuel, but the forge). Thanks, Rob
  2. For solid fuel forge, either coal, charcoal or wood, how do you tell where the boundaries are for the oxidizing, neutral and reducing layers? I assume that they move around as you work or add fuel or adjust the air blast, but is there a test to check at any given time? Thanks, Rob
  3. I got a hair drier (one where I could turn the coils off) for $4 at Goodwill and a lamp dimmer from Lowes (like This) for about $12 and it works great. My tuyere fits the dryer nozzle and I use duct tape to seal it. Rob
  4. I forged a small striker steel for a friend and I had a great deal of trouble getting it to make any sort of sparks. It was forged from an old file I bought at a flea market, then quenched in water and tempered to dark blue. The flint certainly made marks on the striking face, but I only got a spark twice out of about a hundred tries. I tried striking a spark both before and after tempering it. I had made one for my self a long time ago and it works fine but this was pretty much a bust. Thanks for any help, Rob
  5. My shop is located about 100 feet behind my house. If I wanted to run an extension cord out there to power a Lincoln Weldpak 140HD, what kind would I need? Also, am I likely to blow my breakers? I would hope not since these welders are meant for the home shop. Thanks, Rob
  6. I am in Austin, TX. I have no specific use for such metal at this time. I asked about car parts because they are the easiest for me to acquire. I will see about companies making fences and so forth. One problem with drops is that scrap prices are high enough that people are poaching it to sell to scrapyards. The problem that I have with new steel is transporting it back to my shop. I don't do this professionally so I am not going to pay to have a bunch of stuff delivered if I don't have to. Thanks, Rob
  7. I have a decent supply of high carbon steel, but I am running low on the low carbon stuff. My favorite recycler stopped selling to the public a few years back and while I have found another scrapyard willing to sell to me, but most of what they have is car parts and structural steel. I understand that the structural stuff is probably A36 which is low carbon, but the size of most of the pieces doesn't lend itself to me transporting them. I also have a friend who is a mechanic and is willing to set aside broken parts for me. Are there any useful mild steel parts I should have him look out for? Thanks, Rob
  8. I made a pair of bolt head tongs yesterday and I notice that the curved section between the bit and the hinge is a bit large. Are there some ratios that smiths use when making tongs to avoid wasting material and still get the sizes they want? Thanks, Rob
  9. Turns out I just needed more of the same. I used more wood and that gave me enough heat to get the coke going. Thanks, Rob
  10. I recently purchased 50lbs. of metallurgical coke from Centaur Forge. I am just about out of the blacksmithing coal I used to use, and so today I tried to light the coke the way I used to do it with coal. I had heard that coke is hard to light and now I believe it. I normally collect some yard waste and light that, put the air on medium and push a little coal around it and it goes up in about 5 minutes. This time the yard waste burned out before any of the coke lit. Should I use a piece of lump charcoal or something? Thanks, Rob
  11. Does anyone have a better description of the boring bits and reamer? Thanks, Rob
  12. I don't have power in my shop, but I decided to run a couple of extension cords to it. I picked up a hair dryer from Goodwill for $5 and a dimmer control for $12 and rigged up the dryer to the tuyere pipe. Now it runs very well. If only I could hook up a chimney. Is there a design for a stealth chimney? Thanks, Rob
  13. I can't put as much heat as I want where I want it when working. My forge pot is an old honda break rotor about an inch and a half to two inches deep and about six inches in diameter and I am using coal for fuel. When I place a piece of stock so that it rests on both sides of the rotor, the heat doesn't seem to get above cherry red. If I dip the tip of the stock into the firepot like you aren't supposed to, I can bring the piece up to welding heat. Do I not have enough coal on top of the work? Nothing sucks like pumping the bellows for 5 minutes and pulling out the steel only to find that the metal isn't even red. My tuyere isn't clogged. Thanks, Rob
  14. I am not quite sure how to do the bicycle thing without cutting off one side of the frame and rig up some kind of bracket to support the now-unsupported side. Is there another way you had in mind? When I see images of third world smiths using bicycles to power their forges, they are using the rear wheel as a large-diameter pulley to drive the small pulley on a blower spindle. The idea of ganging together several short pieces of PVC sound interesting, but I am not quite sure how to rig up the valves (unless you are not talking about double action bellows). Still, I will pass this along. I think my friend may have lost his fire for the project. To be fair, not too many hobby smiths forge in Texas in August. Rob
  15. I thought about that, but the trouble is that the drive sprocket is on the inside of the frame. When I have seen people use bicycles for this, I believe they typically remove the back tire and rig up some kind of belt to go around the hub and a pulley on the axle of the blower. I am not quite sure what I have to work with there. Thanks, Rob