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I Forge Iron

Finished my forge


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I finished my new coal forge today :D, and will burn it in during the weekend.

I do have a gas forge, but since I am trying to forge a lot more the expense of gas has made it difficult. And since I'm living close to the biggest coal fields in South Africa, coal is cheap. I can buy 350kg (770#) worth of coal for the price of one 19kg bottle of gas.

The basic design considerations were:
1. Must be mobile, since I am going to forge outside (so a chimney won't be neccesary)
2. 600mm wide, must be able to go through a single door.
3. cheap.

The firepot were welded from 12mm (1/2") square bar, that I got as off-cuts with a discount from the metal dealer. The clinker breaker were also welded from square bar. The table were an old gun safe door that had some jigs welded to it that has been lying around for ages, the wheels come from the concrete mixer that got car wheels a while ago, and the other pieces were whatever I had lying around.

I hesistated a bit about painting the contraption, since the paint will burn away, but realised that even the most beautiful woman in the world will put on make-up before going to work. And the paint will also hide my welding a bit. The primer is a fire resistant etch primer for stoves, and the black and yellow is a catalysed lacquer I had available.

I still have to make some handles for the clinker breaker and the air gate, but I ran out of ideas, time and inspiration at the same time. For a blower I have got a very old Tedelex vacuum cleaner motor until something better come up.

Making the tuyere, air gate, clinker breaker and ash dump, 15 hours
Welding up the firepot, 5 hours
Making the trolley, 15 hours
Cleaning, painting and assembly, 10 hours

Total cost were R200 ($20) for the square bar and R100 ($10) for the primer, of which I used about 1 cup.

Forge20.jpg Forge_10_.JPG Forge_6_.JPG

(I just can't manage the pictures to come up as attached thumbnails, so forgive this.)
copy the Linked Thumbnail: from the gallery and paste into the post

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Whow!! That is fantastic, especially using the rod you already had for the firepot. Looks good a solid and very mobile.

Tell us how it goes and I agree with the use of coal. Here in the mountains I can get coal by the trailer/truck load much cheaper than gas.


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A bit of all right, I especial like the wheels and the fire box is very unique. May make a few changes in my forge to copy a couple of small parts of yours but not the fire box (don't think I can).
After all being copied is the extreme of flattery LOL.
Great job
Bill P

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That's the first Art Deco forge that i've ever seen =)

So THAT is what Art Deco looks like. :)

Any specific reason why you didn't use plate steel for the base and sides?

I spend six months looking for thick steel, and couldn't find anything even remotely thick enough. The only other option was buying new steel, in full lengths, and that was very expensive. The square bar is available locally, and then I got it a bit cheap, so I went with that.

The first fire was interesting. If fire tending becomes second nature I'm afraid I'm not even at first nature. It was my first coal fire, took a while to get started, but eventually became very hot. I made a taper scroll as an exercise but managed to burn it while being distracted just when it was starting to look good:mad:. That is also a first for me, never had a forge that could get that hot.

I also understand now why people make stuff like fire pokers and coal shovels, just using pieces at hand just wasn't good enough, so coal forge equipment will be my first project.

After about two hours I stopped, pulled the fire apart and seperated the clinker, coke and coal by hand to see what it all look like.

Intersting enough, the air from the blower kept the clinker breaker cool, so the paint didn't burn off, just became dirty. The underside was still looking brand new.


DSC_8554.JPG Edited by Jacques
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Ok, just wondering, is all. Looks from the picture that it works well. Good show, carry on.

You will find that a coal fire WILL burn things up in a hurry, they do get THAT hot. It's part of the learning curve in relation to fire management! If you can't control the fire, try choking the blower down a bit. A choke setup will also let you conserve coal.

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Great first fire :) Its a real pain when something gets burnt just when you start getting excited about it. That is one reason why I use a hand cranker on the coal, when I am not paying attention the fire dies down and will not burn my project but still keeps it hot.

Keep going, its a beauty.

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One thing I'll add is that I find water very helpful in managing my coal fires. I keep a spritzer bottle handy and pile coal around my firebox squeezing in at the top a bit. I keep this coal somewhat damp and it converts to large porous chunks of coke which I pull out when I need them and add to the top of the fire. Dampening also amalgamates the dust and makes useful fuel out of it. I try to keep one or several good-sized chunks of melted together coke as a lid or roof for my fire trapping the heat around my iron. It's a wondrous thing to pull a three pound hammerhead out of the fire that is entirely aglow in a bright orange heat! Do not drop such things on your toes! I haven't done that but I have come close enough to think about it!

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The cooling of the clinker breaker by the air blast was one of the major advantages blacksmiths found with bottom blast as they developed methods of working with coal. Sidedraft forges, which were traditional, had to have water cooling or the clinker would melt on to the iron and stick in a glassy mass.

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