james austin

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About james austin

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    Outside Providence, Rhode Island
  • Interests
    Wood Carving. Tool Making. Books. Cooking. Puns. Sarcasm.

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  1. I'll have to look into a way to sieve the charcoal somehow. I had an older bag of charcoal that had gotten broken up a bit more and that worked pretty well, but it also included a huge quantity of powdery stuff. I know there are ways to use coal fines, is there anything that can be done with charcoal fines?
  2. Just a quick update. Had the forge out for a couple hours this weekend. It worked pretty well. Definitely gets steel hot; I had the bricks glowing orange by the end of the first hour. Sort of developed a rhythm somewhere of adding a handful of charcoal before pulling the bar out to hammer on. I did struggle to get longer heats on the metal, mostly working 2-4 inches at a time. This worked pretty well, but I think the narrowness may have stopped the fire spreading so much in length. I think the brick walls could be a bit stronger. they had a tendency to shift around while moving the charcoal or inserting the bar, which made keeping a good stack of coals harder. Not a lot of work accomplished over the two hours, mostly due to inconsistent heat/fire management. I'm still getting used to using a sledge rather than the London anvils we had in class. I should have a better stand for that by next weekend. I'll definitely start looking into a cover; I probably have some plastic tubs around already. Carrying this thing up from my basement is already getting old. Thanks everyone for the suggestions!
  3. I'm not sure such a narrow trench will work, but It seemed worth a try. I left most of the dirt fill pretty loose at the moment expecting to want to rearrange the fire as I learn what I'm doing, and if this is a mess it'll be pretty easy to move it again. Your use of the dry kitty litter gave me the idea. The version above the firebox was really only 4 inches long, and only really seemed to heat about 2 -3 inches of steel at a time. One of the things I promised myself with this project is that I won't try to get everything right the first time, but rather try to do something, and improve on it as I go. I'm still hoping to get this version lit on Saturday morning before we get snow. On a related note, how do these forges survive outside in the weather? at the moment i'm keeping it inside, but the weight adds up quickly, and i'm not really thrilled about carrying this around. Should I make a cover? would just a bit of tarp work to keep the worst of the rain or snow? Just stop worrying , and learn to love the bomb?
  4. I'll be curious how that goes pnut. I had an hour last night, so I dug out the bricks started over. Thomas' comment about needing a fire to support MY work was kind of a face palm moment for me. I realized that everything I want to make is long and skinny, and I had built a small square forge. I converted to more of a trench style as well, only about two inches wide but 6-7" long. I'm hoping this will keep fuel use down still, but give me a longer hot spot in the fire. No pictures at the moment as my basement is a dark hole in the ground, but I'm hoping to fire it up this weekend. So true. I always struggle with this, and steel always seems to go so slowly.
  5. Thanks! I’ll give it a try once I can get that clay softened up a bit.
  6. Well I guess I’ve just got to make some bricks now... Irondragon: when you say 2:1 is that by volume or weight? My father just reminded me this evening that I’ve got 30-40lbs of clay in their garage left over from college, and I’ve still got sand around from other projects.
  7. Thanks! I was probably just going at it too hard. I'm more used to working clay before it gets fired.
  8. Thanks Thomas and Charles. The frame is 2x6, which is probably still on the edge of too small; I did get pretty close to two inches of adobe in the bottom layer. I am still planning on building up small walls on top of the hearth with a couple of bricks. I'll try smaller bits of charcoal next time. I think my main problem may have been not enough charcoal over the hearth. I got pretty good heat if I angled the metal down a bit into the hearth, but I understand that isn't great practice. Sounds like fire tools will be a good project to practice on, and get some experience with the fire. Thanks again
  9. How did you cut the notches in your bricks? I tried just chiseling off corners, and ended up with broken bricks, but you have a nice clean hole through the two of them...
  10. Perhaps now I've got this working? It shows up as an attachment on the post which is more than before. Is there a consensus on how deep the firepot (is that the right term?) should be? It's probably a half brick deep right now, and I think I read that it should be more like the thickness of a brick. Thanks
  11. Thanks! I wouldn’t have thought that was old enough to be on archive.org. Glenn: I often forget about the Connecticut groups so thanks for the reminder. I’ve been hoping to catch up with the NEBA group, and just haven’t gotten there, yet.
  12. now that I've got pics working, here it is all full of fire too: no photo attached
  13. I think I got this working now. just paste the link into the text box, and the photo shows up? Double click on image to resize to 500? shows up in another browser, where the previous ones did not. Thanks for putting up with another newbie! no photo attached
  14. Rats. And I'm supposed to be a millennial too! Looks like they are jpg, but probably much to large, almost 3 Mb Lets see if this works... no photo attached Do you see a picture? The others I posted show up for me, so I cant quite tell. Thanks for the heads up Glenn! also is there any way to edit the first post? don't want to clutter things up with a million photo links.
  15. Thanks Thomas. I've been keeping an eye out for that one. I got a copy of "the making of tools" when my library discarded it, and he has some on gouges there, but I've seen mention of the Complete Modern Blacksmith having more/better info particularly about the carving tools. Perhaps I should just put in the order. Its pretty cheap over on Amazon. And I just found that the public library has a copy. Excuse me while I go request that