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I Forge Iron


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    Kent, England

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  1. I've been wanting to build a new forge for a long time, my current one is very substantial, too substantial really! It's built inside of a large bus brake drum, with a 1" thick steel firepot and about 6" of refractory cement. It's really cumbersome to move around and doesn't really fit the bill. I want to switch to a simple 'tray' type forge as I've crudely drawn below. Angle iron rim with a 1/4" steel plate 'table' with a heavy steel firepot dropped in. I'm quite keen on using solid fuel as I find it quite versatile and would be great for my larger, decorative projects, plus the smell just makes me happy. Convenience is a big factor with these things though, as well as cleanliness. I hate those times where you need to leave the forge for a while and have the option of letting it burn out and relighting, or trying to keep it going and wasting fuel. I'm eager to do more knifemaking and similar small items too, so a gas forge would be really handy here. What I'm thinking is of building a traditional solid fuel forge, with a removable refractory-lined 'tunnel' with a gas burner fitted. I would probably have a few locator pins in the forge table for the tunnel to drop into. I feel that this option would give me the versatility of being able to switch between solid fuel and gas, and also allows me to run on solid fuel with some added insulation, but having the ability to take it off to work with larger projects. Has anyone tried something similar? The only problem I can really see is the lack of refractory lining on the forge table itself. I've never run a gas forge so don't know what level of insulation would be required. One option would be to line the forge table with insulation underneath the steel surface, or to slip a couple of fire bricks in when using it in that configuration. Just to be crystal clear, I don't intend to use both gas and coke at the same time as I've seen discussed before, but to operate it in discrete gas or solid fuel configurations.
  2. I've been thinking about switching from solid fuel to a hybrid coke/gas system, until I acquired and old furnace burner for free. It would appear to burn diesel and will be fairly easy to mount, if a bit heavy. It was switched previously by a thermostat and has a 3-pin plug which should mean that I could wire it up to a foot pedal or simple switch to operate it which would be great. My biggest concern is the size. It's rated at 54-120KW. From what I can gather, this is significantly more power than I've seen from most forge gas burners. Has anyone tried anything similar or have any advice on using something like this/its viability? I'm thinking it might just be easier to sell and buy a gas burner!
  3. Can't say that this is going to add anything new to the discussion, but I've been doing a lot of pokers recently and thought I'd add by experience. I've been forging some pokers recently using the faggot welding technique, purely because it is the easiest way for me. I was concerned with the strength of the welds too, especially on my first one, and decided to test it out. I was only working with a roughly 1.5" overlap for a light poker for a woodburner. In the spirit of good scientific method I hooked the hook part of the poker over a solid gate frame and dangled from the poker! The hook itself bent a bit as the hook had a thinnish taper on it, but the weld wasn't going anywhere. It's my view that, for a poker, a weld that supports almost 12 stone will be more than sufficient for dragging a few logs or coals. Also, if other parts of the poker (the tapered hook) bend before the weld shows any signs of failing, then the quality of the weld is not really a concern. I don't doubt that Brian's techniques here produce a better quality weld, but for the sake of saving time, a faggot weld is more than equal to the task of your average fire poker, when done properly. EDIT: I see that Owen has given his a much more strenuous test! I think it really depends on what is meant by 'sound'. Because if you mean the weld having the strength of the original material... I'm not sure if that can be done through forge welding- as I understand it even with the most well welded pieces there is always a risk of delamination in certain circumstances.
  4. Thanks! Bikecop, the music in the video is The Butterfly performed by Celtic Woman- if you like that kind of music there's hundreds of brilliant Irish jigs around! I need another big project I can put loads of time in! It seems that when making stuff for the fun of it I don't seem to put in the extra time to make it as good as I can make it!
  5. Sometimes I wonder why I bother buying round stock, because I always taper it down to square then back to round! Unless I'm doing long untapered sections I prefer the texture of square to round anyway!
  6. Thanks Frank, hadn't considered that! I'm not sure how much hanging of pots they'll be doing as it seems like they'll mostly be using the grill, but in future I'll at least make the bottom hook from flat, they'd certainly be easier to make from flat bar!
  7. You can get some pretty posh glasses from the opticians over here too! I don't know what it is, but glasses seem to give me trouble. I have a pair of distance glasses but I keep them in my pocket until I actually need them otherwise I feel uncomfortable, get headaches and they're generally distracting. I get the same issue with sunglasses and safety glasses. I will never neglect to wear them in situations that demand them, but I sometimes don't wear them when it would perhaps be a good idea.
  8. Thanks everyone! I figured the best way there would be to heat it at the two high points and use some kind of press with a large surface area to get it flat... I didn't have a press, but I had some wood and myself! I used to wear safety glasses all the time, but I couldn't get on with them. For normal forging I don't normally bother, but when I'm doing any welding or delicate work that involves a lot of scale I always wear them! I've had the old hot scale fly onto my eyelids twice now and they were both when doing work with a large surface area/mass ratio and because I was holding my face too close to see exactly what I''m doing!
  9. It's been a while since I posted here, so I thought I'd share my most recent projects! The first is a bracket to hold the sign I'm making for a local brewery, it's probably the best piece I've made so far and I'm very happy to think it will be on display! Because it was my school coursework, I had to document everything, which meant I had plenty of footage to put together to make a video! I used jigs where I needed consistency with the pieces, but I always like to do some freehand as well to make them unique! It was really awkward doing the vine wraps with a small coke forge as heating the long pieces was difficult. Here's my latest piece- a four legged tripod! It has four legs as it needs to fit around a walled firepit, so four legs was the best way to make it look nice and not have it an awkward size! The S-hooks are there to allow for adjustment. I didn't picture the grill which hangs from the a hook to allow the customer to cook some meat on it and adjust the height! The customer was very happy and may send some business my way! I'm so happy to be finally doing some big projects and making it all pay for itself. I never imagined it would develop into this when I started 18 months ago- I thought I'd be making swords! :P
  10. I've designed myself a new table forge to replace the old brake drum forge I'm currently using as the limitations are beginning to become apparant and I'm in dire need of a hood and chimney on my forge. I'm ready to order the steel, but I've just thought that I don't know what thickness to make the table- I was thinking 3mm sheet which I would support with welded bars attatched to the frame, do you think that is sufficient? I'll probably use thinner stuff for the hood, but the main table is the concern here!
  11. I may well be wrong in this, but before modern bladesmithing, the whole heat treating process was referred to as 'tempering' before the science behind it all was uncovered and was broken down into the different processes such as annealing, hardening and tempering. I don't have a source for this, mind you, I believe I heard it from someone on here!
  12. Sounds like a good plan! In my haste to arrange a client for this coursework project, I offered my services out for free! I'm quite happy to do so as it's taught me a lot, will give me something nice for a portfolio and I'll be able to see my work on display in public. He's really grateful so I'll get my payment in beer if nothing else! Any suggestions of good guides or things to read regarding forging vines and stuff, it's not something I've tried before. I like the idea of something in the centre....
  13. Thanks for the advice everyone! This is my first time doing a quarterfoil (didn't know that was their name, thanks!) and I was surprised to find out that it actually fit! Mathematics and blacksmithing have never gone well for me! I plan to collar each piece to the circle and perhaps each of them together. It's a great suggestion as I'd like to show off more skills than just scrolling as it's also a piece of school coursework. If I understand you correctly, you think I should use more scrollwork or ornamental features to 'fill' the circle tighter, or do you mean that the current scrolls are inconsistent or otherwise out. Excellent suggestion with the vines, being a brewery I could try doing some hop vines, although I've never done anything of that sort before, and perhaps incorporate it as the 'chain' to hold the sign. Perhaps have it wrapping around the metalwork and acting as the collars... I may have to do some drawings!
  14. I hadn't considered side bracing! I suppose we don't get a whole lot of wind and it shouldn't catch the air too much, but it never hurts to be too safe- I'll look for an elegant way to incorporate it! Thanks for the book suggestion, that will really help with my research!
  15. This is my current progress on my biggest project so far. I've about a year's experience working at weekends (although that's mostly bladesmithing, mind you) and this is my first serious commission. I I've got all the joinery to look forward to yet, as well as making the sign, chain and finishing, but it's coming along very nicely and the first piece I'm really proud of! Any ideas for improvements would be gratefully received!
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