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So...i live in a country where getting coal or charcoal is VERY hard...and a tank of propane is very expensive...so i thought, would i be able to use just plain wood? does it get hot enough? and if you know any ideas for cheap fuel i would really like to know... since i don't live in the states i am really xxxxxx off about how short i have gotten. i can barely build a descent forge... if you can help me please do:) greetings for Iceland

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mrkiddi, Welcome to iforgeiron !!!
If you use wood for forge fuel you are going to have to wait for it to burn down sufficiently to form charcoal. Instead simply make your own charcoal from wood beforehand.
I think this is covered in the blueprints section.
Being in Iceland I am guessing there are not vast stands of trees from which to gather wood.
You will have to employ some scraphounding skill and secure sources. I suggest warehouses because there are always pallets to be had, good hardwood usually oak or ash and it is already seasoned. Locate the largest port in Iceland and you will have found the greatest source of pallets.
Break them up with a sledge hammer and run the larger pieces through a bandsaw. Pallets are the perfect choice to cut up and make charcoal from in a 55 gal drum.

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I have run the now famous 55 Forge (with the supercharger) on pallet wood, tree wood, and/or lumber scraps. I found the best size for the wood to be about the size of a 2x4 and about 4 inches long.

The fire turns raw wood into charcoal and into a bed of coals in a continuous process. A good bed of coals to forge in requires a good size fire. I will caution you that the radiant heat is a factor, but can be controlled with heat shields. The IR and brightness of the fire require eye protection.

If you use old pallets, be VERY careful how those pallets were used in a previous life. Choose clean pallets rather than pallets that have unknown chemicals spilled on them. The idea is to have fun, not kill yourself.

On a side note, I found pallets and scrap lumber produced sparks as if my stock metal was overheating and burning. Turned out that it was the nails that were burning and causing the sparks. Those nails make some strange clinker (grin).

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My only concern about wood pallets is based on a newspaper article that I read about termites being imported from overseas. If memory serves me correctly, the article said that some of the termites are much more destructive than termites we have seen here prior to their importation.

A few years ago we stored a large pile of firewood on some pallets. The firewood was very quickly consumed by termites. I was afraid to bring any of it into a building.

Also folks be real careful not to burn treated lumber. Old treated lumber contains arsenic and reportedly burning it can eventually kill you. I am not sure what they are using to treat treated lumber now-a-days. Hopefully the experts will now chime in to edubicate us-ens. :D (yes I meant to spell those words that way).

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Old treated lumber contains arsenic and reportedly burning it can eventually kill you. I am not sure what they are using to treat treated lumber now-a-days.


I just read recently that wood is now being treated with some sort of copper based compound...You can spot it because it has a greenish tint. While it's likely much less toxic than the arsenic, to be on the safe side, I still would not burn it

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I just read recently that wood is now being treated with some sort of copper based compound...You can spot it because it has a greenish tint. While it's likely much less toxic than the arsenic, to be on the safe side, I still would not burn it


Also, the new stuff with the copper requires special fasteners (for outdoor applications)- it will dissolve steel nails. I found this out AFTER building my smithy!

I still haven't had any problems, but you would think Home Depot would warn their customers. B) I used PT on the main beam and the sill - I am sure I used hot dipped galvy on the sill, but not up top.

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MRKiddi,

Forging with wood is quite difficult. First, it takes a constant effort to keep enough wood burning to generate sufficient coals that will attain forging heat. This effort makes it very difficult to work the metal while manitaing the fire. Second, it takes a whole lot of forced air to get it and keep it hot enough. Finally, like raw coal, all raw wood contains impurities that can contaminate the iron or steel you want to work.

If you can get plain wood then you are better off making charcoal. Charcoal, once burning, attains forging heat faster than raw wood and doesn't have the impurities (converting wood to charcoal burns off the impurities. It still take a fair amount of air, just not as much as raw wood.

Making charcoal is easy. Just take whatever wood you can find (untreated) and cut or break it into small pieces, about 5cm x 5cm. Find a steel container with lid (or BBG Grill) and place some kindling/paper in the bottom them fill with the wood pieces. The lid needs to have a small hole in it - 6 - 8 mm and fit on tight (I use a 5 gal steel bucket (about 20 liters). Light the wood on fire and let burn until you start to see good coals forming. Then place the lid on and wait until it stops burning and cools down. Presto, you have charcoal! To speed the process up just add air while the coals are forming. If all the wood does not convert to charcoal just repeat. One note, during this process you can create a lot of smoke, a whole lot depending on the type of wood. The same as converting coal to coke.

By the way, I have both propane forges and coal/charcoal forges. To heat a knife size blank of spring steel (5160) to forging temperature it takes 5 minutes on my propane forge (probably $1 US), using coal it takes 10 minutes and about 1 cubic foot of coal (30cm squared??) and using charcoal, it takes 12-15 minutes, and 2 - 3 times as much charcoal as coal.

Even more telling is the time to reheat. Because I have to add coal/charcoal, stack the coals on the steel and adjust the air, it takes much longer to reheat with coal/charcoal - or the order of 3-4 times as long as reheating with propane. Takes only a minute in my propane forge.

The other advantage of propane over coal/charcoal is portability. I can load my propane forge, stand and propane tank (10kg) into the trunk of my Honda with ease. I can forge all day with one tank. To load my small (relatively) coal forge and enough coal/charcoal for a day of forging I would need my fullsize Pickup! And at least 50 kg of coal.

Propane Forges (homemade)
PropaneVenturiForgeIIa.jpg
Coal Forge (also homemade)
Forge2.jpg

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Forging with wood is really forging with charcoal you are just making it in your forge as you go along. Iprefer to separate the two processes and transfer the charcoal over to the forge.

I had a student forge welding a knife billet using only charcoal Saturday. We started with charcoal I sift out of the wood stove ashes from my house and store in a trashcan. Meanwhile I started a wood fire in a raised firepit and would then transfer the embers from it to the forge as needed. Used scrap wood and so it was free and the fire was nice as it is cold outside! I also cooked lunch over it.

So: Heat, Forge Fuel, Cooking and Clean Up scrap wood around the place.

Charcoal takes a lot less air than coal even for welding

To use my regular coal forge I took some double sized firebricks and built a 3 sided box around the firepot making it about 8" deeper and used a singel sized firebrick to provide a front lip.

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I have run the now famous 55 Forge (with the supercharger) on pallet wood, tree wood, and/or lumber scraps. I found the best size for the wood to be about the size of a 2x4 and about 4 inches long.

The fire turns raw wood into charcoal and into a bed of coals in a continuous process. A good bed of coals to forge in requires a good size fire. I will caution you that the radiant heat is a factor, but can be controlled with heat shields. The IR and brightness of the fire require eye protection.

If you use old pallets, be VERY careful how those pallets were used in a previous life. Choose clean pallets rather than pallets that have unknown chemicals spilled on them. The idea is to have fun, not kill yourself.

On a side note, I found pallets and scrap lumber produced sparks as if my stock metal was overheating and burning. Turned out that it was the nails that were burning and causing the sparks. Those nails make some strange clinker (grin).

 

What kind of eye protection are you talking about in this post Glenn?  And is it only required for wood or also for charcoal?

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All smithing needs basic eye protectiong, also some fuels and temps requir IR filters as well to prevent retna burn

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So will cheap sunglasses work or do I gotta get the black safety glasses? and is this process gradual because there's never been a problem?

 

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Most cheap sunglasses are good for blocking UV, but do nothing to block IR.

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Wranglerstar on his own YouTube channel  denonstrates how to forge with wood. Wood that is. Not charcoal. The forge looks special however. Unlike what  i have seen. His is commercially available.  He bought it somewhere like amazon. But you can make one.

He isnt a blacksmith but does try it sometimes. And uses doug fir i believe.

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We know what you meant; but some new folk might not and so not realize how it *should* be designed to work right---ie the wood should be turned into coals before it hits the forging zone. Some commercially sold ones are no more properly designed than working next to a campfire in my opinion.

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On 1/1/2010 at 1:09 PM, Glenn said:

On a side note, I found pallets and scrap lumber produced sparks as if my stock metal was overheating and burning. Turned out that it was the nails that were burning and causing the sparks. Those nails make some strange clinker (grin).

I've had the same problem, from pallet scraps I used for kindling a coal fire.

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If you srarch Wranglermart.com and select blacksmith items you will see two sizes of wood fired blacksmith forges. If i knew how, I'd  post a link. It doesnt look like a forge, but it is. He has loaded a number  of videos on his channel  (YouTube) featuring  that forge. He isn't  an environmentalist. He just happens to own a forrest. Thus the wood.

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On 4/10/2017 at 6:14 PM, SReynolds said:

If you srarch Wranglermart.com and select blacksmith items you will see two sizes of wood fired blacksmith forges. If i knew how, I'd  post a link. It doesnt look like a forge, but it is. He has loaded a number  of videos on his channel  (YouTube) featuring  that forge. He isn't  an environmentalist. He just happens to own a forrest. Thus the wood.

I believe this is the forge he uses.  Lots of info and YouTube videos out there using this forge and forging with wood fire (converting to charcoal as your forge) http://whitloxhomestead.com/

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Yes. Sir. 

Try buying a coal forge for the price of the large wood forge! All you'd take home of a Champion or Candy  Otto etc for that is a rusty  old pan and forge blower in need of TLC

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I mostly forge with wood. I started turning the hardwood in to charcoal, but the wood works just as well for me and I dont have to muck about making the charcoal! Works as well as charcoal for me, dont know about coke / coal, (also have found it is not available here). All my wood comes off my property, it is heavily treed and the odd storm makes for plenty of fuel.

Rider being as I live in Australia, our hard wood is really hard, burns slow and hot and is full of flammable natural oils. What I mostly use is what we call black wattle. It has such a high eucalyptus oil level that when you throw a green branch of leaves on a fire it explodes like you have thrown a can of petrol on it. So your mileage might vary depending on what wood you feed your beast.

And it is a hungry beast when your feeding it wood, I use lengths of about 3 inches long, cut an inch or so square. When ever you pull the steel out, throw a handful of wood on top, turn your air off or right down at the same time and it all works well. (If you dont turn the air down, it just burns more wood, doesn't affect it otherwise)

I dont generally need to worry about waiting for the wood to turn to coals, at that size it is a rapid and continuous process and there is always plenty of hot coals in the bottom of the pot.

 

 

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11 hours ago, Jackdawg said:

 

And it is a hungry beast when your feeding it wood,

What very limited experience I've had with forging with wood ^^that ^^ has been my experience.  When the air is on it will eat that wood like there's no tomorrow!

Quote

 

 

 

Edited by WNC Goater
oops

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Wood ==> Charcoal  and charcoal profits greatly from a gentle blast, bellows or hand crank is much more effective than an electrically powered blower.

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