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I found a listing on Craig's List for 300# of coal free for the taking not too far from where I live. About an hour away actually. If it is typical furnace coal is it worth picking up to use in a forge? My second question is about a small forge that I can purchase with some tools. It is exactly like the one pictured except the fan handle is broken. Is this forge worth anything, even as a portable forge?

Thanks.

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the forge will probably work but you will need to look it over there are a couple of areas that can be a problem . one is the ratcheting system the other is the belt between flywheel and blower .eather can give problems run the handle and make sure everything works .as far as free fuel well...depends on where you live.if you are in kentucky it might be good coal if your in utah it is likely to be crap . might still pick it up to start with .until you have tried various coals its not easy to tell the difference till you burn it. good luck!

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Hello Guns,

My two cents:
I would say anything free is worth giving a try, I forge successfully with Anthracite coal (which I also use to heat my house). Anthracite has it challenges but it works.

The forge looks good depending on the price and if the blower functions or you can make it function. Same as with the coal, anything you can get a deal on can be handy never know what you might need.


Steven

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The handle is wood and can easily be replaced. Looks like a wheel borrow handle would work.

The coal may or may no be useful in a forge. You will just have to try it and see.
Usually blacksmithing coal should be in the 14,000 BTU range. Some people can get 13,000 BTU to work but when buying coal you are buying heat not rocks, ash, clinker, or whatever else is not producing heat. If you ever get any of the 15,000 BTU coal you can tell the difference in the first fire, usually by melting the end off your project.

If you find coal that looks like layers (see attached photos) it may not be the best for blacksmithing. Look at the photos carefully and you can see the rock, ash, silt, ets. I have also included a photo of good coal so you can see a difference. This is not the only kind of good coal, I have seen some that is like little cubes, and some that is in large lumps that must be split on the fracture lines in order to be used. Attached are photo of coal (in the hand) from Coal from Craig County Oklahoma, and in the barrel from WV.

400 pounds of coal will fit in a 55 gallon drum. Your only investment will be the gas if you enjoy the ride. I have forged using wood from pallets (raw not charcoaled) so do not get hung up on only being able to use coal. I have also forged with coal dust, so the coal does not have to be a certain size.

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You may want to raise you anvil up to knuckle high or to the break of the wrist. It makes forging a lot easier than on your knees and on the ground. (grin)

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Thank you for the information. Can anyone tell me what a decent price on that forge would be? The coal was already gone unfortunately.

Glenn said "400 pounds of coal will fit in a 55 gallon drum. Your only investment will be the gas if you enjoy the ride. I have forged using wood from pallets (raw not charcoaled) so do not get hung up on only being able to use coal. I have also forged with coal dust, so the coal does not have to be a certain size."

I can get loads of pallet wood for nothing from a local business so maybe that is the best choice to start with. How do you prepare to use it? Do you cut it to a certain size, or just break it up for sharper edges? Of course I need a forge to begin with. I have the metal parts to make a couple sizes of propane forge, but nothing completed yet. That's why I'd really like a small open coal forge to begin making something. I just don't want to waste what little money I have. Once I can produce something and get paid for it I can upgrade.

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any coal will work just not brown coal. i use anthracite some smiths say that it does not work that is total BS. if any one says that anthracite coal does not work do not listen. anthracite coal burns the hottest of any coal. the reason why i say brown coal does not work is it burn with the least heat. in my experiences brown coal is worse than charcoal. most of the coal in the us is not brown coal so you should be fine. some people say that anthracite needs a contunious air supply to burn. i can prove them wrong first of all my experience with coal, and 2nd of all there are anthracite coal mines that have been burning for years no one is putting forced air in them. if they mean it needs air to burn so does everything else including bituminous coal that has been blown up by way too many blacksmiths. that is not my o pinon that is a fact. I am i die hard anthracite coal fan. i think that we should have i whole new section the anthracite coal form. that is my opinion though not a fact. how many of you are die hard anthracite fans ?

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Pallet wood, the best size I have found is about 4 inches long or 2 x 4 x 4 inches. Just build a fire and add air.
Wood will require a lot more depth than coal, and I must caution you that the radiant heat from the fire is a factor.

This was done in a 55 forge. To find the depth, build a fire and get about 6-8 inches of orange coals. Add wood as needed to keep that depth or more depending on the size of your forge and your work. The fire will not need as much air as you think as you are making charcoal on top, and forging on the bottom, not setting the whole thing ablaze. If you find your short on coals, add more wood.

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I use Anthracite. It is what I can get easily in my area and it works great. It does have its quirks but every thing burns in its own way and you have to learn how best to use it.

Did you end up picking up the coal?

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Well I finally have something to say about the coal situation. I didn't get the 300#, it was already gone. I found probably the only coal dealer in the State of Vermont today. They're 35-40 miles away, but they have bituminous coal for $.25/lb at any amount you want with a price break for larger amounts.

Can anyone tell me how many pounds you could get in a 55 gal steel barrel?

I don't have a pickup at the current time, so I can get the barrels into my mini van.

I'll certainly keep my eyes open for any more coal being given away though.

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Can anyone tell me how many pounds you could get in a 55 gal steel barrel?


I want to say
380# for bituminous
506# for anthracite

http://www.simetric....i_materials.htm

833 kg/m^3 per google is 6.9 pound/gallon
6.9pound/gallon*55gallon=379.5pound

1105 kg/m^3 per google is 9.2 pound/gallon
9.2 pound/gallon*55gallon=506 pound

Phil

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Depending on how big the lumps are and how many fines, how full you fill it and all of that, a 55 gallon drum of bituminous coal will weight somewhere between 350 and 400 pounds, give or take a bit. Unless you have some way to unload that amount in a drum, you may want to get 8 or 10 5 gallon buckets to fill at the coal yard then dump those into the larger drum (more compact storage that way). Or if you don't want that much, figure between 30 and 40 pounds for a 5 gallon bucket, depending again on the above factors.

ron

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Ron,

I do have a way to get it down or out of a vehicle with my tractor, but you do have a better idea about buying it in several smaller batches that are easier to handle. Not to mention it might be easier to pay for a little at a time right now as well.
I guess I should figure out how much I'll need to learn the skills I need and then double it. :lol:

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As an idea about how much you'll use, I take 3 to 5 days to go through a 5 gallon bucket. That is estimated from when I get a chance to light a fire. On those days I have time and the weather cooperates, I generally forge for 5 or 6 hours. The variation in how long a bucket lasts is largely based on what I'm doing as I burn more when I'm practicing welding. Depending on the size of your fire pot, how well you manage your fire and the specifics of your coal you may burn through it faster or slower than that.

A couple of buckets (50 or 60 pounds) will be enough for you to get started and learn fire management without a large outlay of cash. If you decide you're going to spend a lot of time in your smithy you can then get a barrel.

Just my thoughts.

ron

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Well, after a short talk with a blacksmith in the area I found out that I can order Bituminous coal right from my local Aubuchon Hardware store which happens to be about 3/4 of a mile from my door. Here's the description: Blacksmith Coal

So, I decided to order some, even though I don't have a forge yet, and see what I can find out about it. The price is kinda friendly, but not the best at $.30/lb so I may still drive the 30+ miles to pick up the loose coal to compare them before I settle on one just because it's in my back yard.

If you look around the website a little you will see they sell two other kinds of coal as well. Both cheaper.

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Well, after a short talk with a blacksmith in the area I found out that I can order Bituminous coal right from my local Aubuchon Hardware store which happens to be about 3/4 of a mile from my door. Here's the description: Blacksmith Coal

So, I decided to order some, even though I don't have a forge yet, and see what I can find out about it. The price is kinda friendly, but not the best at $.30/lb so I may still drive the 30+ miles to pick up the loose coal to compare them before I settle on one just because it's in my back yard.

If you look around the website a little you will see they sell two other kinds of coal as well. Both cheaper.


Alrighty then....... I'm updating my own post with a picture. I got the 50# bag of Smithing Coal just a few minutes ago that I had ordered Sunday. If you have seen this type of coal let me know what you think of it.

I now have the anvil, hammers, and some coal. I need the forge and tongs. (Did I post about finding an axel that was left in my backyard by the former owner that has one brake drum left on it?) Oh well, something will come along soon.

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The coal company in my town doesn't sell smith coal so I use what they sell and it works maybe not the best but it works. If I could get some for free I would surely give it a try. Worst case you can give it to someone to heat there house. TC

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I now have the anvil, hammers, and some coal. I need the forge and tongs.


For tongs, all you need is something you can hold hot work without yourself getting too hot. I've used pliers (a bit short for some stuff), channel-lock pliers or if the stock is long enough, my hand (hold the cold end, hit the hot end :) ).
A forge isn't difficult to make. The basics are just a hole in the ground with an air source. You can line any fire-proof container with a bit of dirt, ashes, kitty litter (the cheapest all clay type) and have a pipe come in the side (or up from the bottom, side is easier to cobble together I think) connected to an old hair dryer (don't use the heat, just the fan ) for an air source. If your lining is thick enough the container doesn't have to be fire-proof (I've seen wooden boxes lined with dirt).

ron

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