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I Forge Iron

Where do I start...


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Hi? Yes that's a good start.

A long time ago (June 15th) I passed by a railroad track with my family on our way to dinner. There on the ground I saw a rusted bar of steel, a railroad spike. This was so cool I thought, and so after getting home I cleaned all the rust off of it over the next few days and then proudly displayed it on my bookshelf. This was not enough for me, I had to find something cool to do with this spike.

Enter the railroad-spike-knife. I could actually turn this spike into another knife for my knife collection, how exciting! Over the next few months I slowly put together information about blacksmithing and bladesmithing and smithing railroads spikes into knives. This was nothing new to me since I've had a million other hobbies in the past just as difficult and spontaneous as this one, except that one cannot even Google "blacksmithing" without it being auto-corrected to "Blacksmithing WoW". No I do not want to learn how to blacksmith in a xxxx computer game! *exhale*

To make a long story a little bit shorter, the success of my makeshift and practically free forge was as triumphant as it's monumental failure.

The impression given to me from what I had read online was that it would be very difficult and take a long time for a beginner to learn how to make a forge hot enough to get the metal to a good working heat. Well I must be a fast learner.

I had lit the charcoal, waited for the flames to die down, buried the spike a couple inches under the coals, turned on the blower, walked ten feet away from it to feed my dog, turned around and saw this....

At first I thought that this was a good fire and I would easily be able to get the spike hot enough. It didn't occur to me that it was possible for the spike to get TOO hot. Mind you, this was about 2 or 3 minutes after turning on the blower.

Then it occurred to me after looking closer that the brass pipe that I had been connecting the blower to the fire with had melted! So I took my poker and I poked around in the fire to try and fish out the foot long brass pipe or what was left of it, but I couldn't find it, nor could I find my spike at first. Finally I found my spike at the very bottom of the coals and it had melted to a heap of useless black bubblegum-like mess.

This had all occurred in about 5 minutes!

A little bit about the "forge". Its just the section of an old grill that you burn wood in to "smoke" the meat your cooking. It already has an opening in the side that I use to put a brass pipe in with a 1 inch diameter. the pipe had been hammered shut and then dremeled a bunch of holes in it. the end of the 12 inch pipe was sticking out of the grill and attached to some foil air duct hose that's something like 4 inches in diameter, so don't let the picture fool you into thinking I have some huge hose of air pumping into the fire. the electric "bellows" is just a squirrel cage fan I had laying around, it's a little smaller than a football. At first I was going to use the other fan as well thinking it might not get hot enough with that one. You can see the end of the brass pipe sticking out of the grill in the following picture. That piece is the only part of the pipe that's left. I cant even find bits of the rest of it in the charcoal.

What's left of the brass pipe...

The cool thing is that, while the pipe was burning, the fire was a vivid green.

So other than an introduction, I had a point to writing all of this. Oh yes, What do you guys use to get the air into the coal? do you just blow air onto the charcoal or do you use a different type of pipe? Maybe I should try to find some iron pipe somewhere and turn the blower off after a minute or two? Exhaust pipe from a junkyard maybe?

The main question here is "what type of pipe can I use that will not melt so easily?"

Thank you everyone!




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Hey guys thanks for responding to my post.

I was originally going to wait until after my next try with the forge to post again, but I'm having some trouble. Fe-Wood you mentioned water cooling the pipe, but I cant find any information on that in either the blueprints, the forums or anywhere else online. If your thinking of a specific place can you link me?

As for trying new pipe I'm going to hold off on it until after my next try. I've reworked the forge to not allow my pipe to come into contact with the fire, but I'm not sure how effective that will be.

Anyways I'll keep trying until it works right. Thanks again guys!

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You may need to do some extensive modifications to adapt your existing setup to a side blast watercooled forge.

Thumbnails show a typical arrangement.

I would suggest modifying your existing arrangement by converting it into a bottom blast set up, this could be done in various ways

Firstly you need something to control the air flow, be it a gate valve or speed contoller or some other method

You could use a side entry pipe if you don't want to cut a hole in the base, by closing off the end of the pipe and drilling a few holes on the side of the pipe facing upwards when it is fitted into the pot. I would use the old ash or clay to secure this pipe into the base of the fire, This will help stop the clinkers clogging up the tue holes,

Then you should be able to use it without too many problems until you decide to upgrade. Use steel or iron for the pipe for the tue

If you are going to use the forge for larger/longer items you may find your arrangement difficult to use when trying to manipulate the iron in the fire to get the heat in the right place.

Good luck with it



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Another point about charcoal forges is that the charcoal is often shaped using bricks, etc as, unlike coal, all the charcoal will burn even without the airblast. This wastes fuel and makes for a really big fire.

Try making a valley between a few bricks and putting your charcoal in there before lighting up next time as well as backing off the air.


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Hey guys.

You've given me a lot of good information to work with. I added bricks to help shape the charcoal like how rmcpb suggested, then I went out and bought a 30 inch long steel pipe that weighs about 10lbs.

So I'll probably be altering the end of the pipe to fit through a container of water like in John Bs' photographs rather than what Glenn suggested, because it looks easier than trying to fit two pipes together like that. Besides, this new pipe is roughly 4 times thicker and ten times heavier so hopefully it wont melt so easily.



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Side blast can be accomplished with just an iron pipe used to blow air into the fire. Start with a long pipe and advance it into the forge as it is consumed. Many times it is not consumed all that fast. Start with sch 40 and move up to sch 80 if needed.

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