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What is your forge Shutdown Strategy

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I have been playing with some different Coal fire shutdown options. My intent is to try to get as much good coke out of the fire, leave the ash and clinker of course but also make some coke while at the same time cooling the fire with either wet or dry coal. Just some stuff I am trying.

I used to just push the top off to the side and dig out some of the hot members and just let things go out. I have a brake drum forge by the way. With the drum forge I tend to get a lot of Coke and Ash aound the outer edge and bottom. Lately I still just scrape flat across the opening and maybe dig out a bit of the hot members but try not to disturb the hot mass much. Now I dump some green coal right onto the hot glowing coke mass. I have tried wet and dry coal. Now I may just let this go for a few minutes or I have also ran the blower for a minutes or so. Running the blower for just a short time generates copious amounts of green/yellow smoke that leads me to believe I am making a lot of coke fairly quickly. After a few minutes or so I break the fire down as usual and spread the coke/coal around the outside edge of the forge and try to roll out the larger chunks of fused coke from the outer edge of the fire pot. I break the large pieces up and try to leave most of the small bits, ash and clinker in the fire pot. The fire tends to start fire better and I have gotten a head start in purging all that noxious smoke out of the coal from the left over heat of the forge. The result seems to be an easier fire to start with a bit less smoke and a nice mound of coke/coal to pile around the fire.

WHen I restart the fire I have lot of Coke and Coke coal mix. This seems to start better than just coke. I usually just hand pick through the ash, clinker and small bits of coke in the fire pot for a few minutes to preserve the most coke while getting rid of all the ash and clinker. I usually just push the ash across the 1/2" holes in the bottom and then dump that all from my home made pipe tuyere. I use a few small bits of wood from my woodshop (there is always plenty to be cut up) placed on junkmail ads with coal dust and I dowse this with charcoal starter fluid. I use a lot less paper that is usually suggested in what I have read and the starter fluid helps make stubborn Souther Louisiana humid paper burn while creating less ash in the pot. Some would say I was cheating with the starter fluid. I would say that "traditionally" I bet a smith would use whatever they have available and I have several bottles of starter fluid that I never use otherwise.

Anyone have any advice or thoughts on how to do this better or just what works for them?

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When I use Coal, I just mound it up and tamp it lightly over a good burning fire and forget about it. Next time I start a fire I have plenty of coke to get going. I just learned that a pinecone is an amazing forge fire starter. A few bits of paper, maybe some wood shavings with a pincone on top. Add coal/coke mix a little at a time. 0 to forging in just a couple minutes :D

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turn off the blower and leave it until next time. when I go to start the forge I scoop out every thing place in a bucket take it out side and sift it through deep fat fryer basket it is easy to see the clinkers in the sun light and the dust goes on the ground. I put the coke to the side and start with green coal and as I need more I add the coke and more green coal.

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There is no RIGHT way to start a forge fire but I imagine there are any number of wrong ways I'm sure most of us have discovered as we figured this out.

I've never liked the make a big ball of newspaper and cover it with coal method but I typically use a small size coal fire for localized heating. for large area heat I use my propane forge.

Pine cones work very well, especially if you point their tops at the air grate or lay them on their sides over it.

My prefered method is to roll a coil of cardboard from a box. I tear or cut it 1"-2" wide x 8"-14" long depending on the size of my startup fire needs. I roll it into a flat coil and lay it over the air grate. Then I pile coal or breeze (forge coke) around it then let it spring open a little bit making gaps between the coils of 1/8"-1/4" letting the coal hold it to shape. I've found it works best to have fairly clean but small coal/breeze next to the coil for a little ways so the air can move through more easily. Then I lay wet finer coal, not breeze around the inner fuel and finally make an air barrier around this with wet dusty fines so the air can't blow out through the mound's sides.

My next step is to pile more fuel on top of the mound without covering the cardboard coil's center coarse coal in the center grading to fine dust on the outside. The coarse coal center is to allow air to pass up through the coal to promote the fire while the wet fines close the outside and control the fire's path.

I leave the center of the mound open for the inner 2+/- coils so it's easy to light. I don't use excellerants more volatile than wax or pine pitch, either is more than plenty. The next step is to give the blower a very gentile crank and drop a couple lit wooden matches into the gaps at the center of the coil. Prop the gap open a little bit with a small piece of breeze if it snuffs the match.

Once the coil gets burning up the crank just a bit and cover the cardboard coil with a bit of breeze and 3/4"+ green coal till the crater is filled and mounded up. You'll know when the fire gets going, you'll see smoke so it's time to cover all but a small bit of the center with wetted fines.

I typically do this with a 5+ gl bucket of 3/4" (that's sifted) coal and coke up the whole sheebang for my day's forging. I do NOT like breathing coal smoke and so have never much liked green coal fires. This fire is going to be ONE STINKY YELLOW GREEN MOTHER, but the smoky part of the day will be over in 20-40 mins. depending on how much breeze you want and your forge size.

Once the mound is coked I push it back to the back of the forge and wet it down leaving the desired fire over the air grate and get to work. When I'm done I break the fire apart, push it back from the air grate, wet it down and it's Miller time.

On the other hand My most typical shut down proceedure is to kturn off the propane at the tank and prop a couple bricks in the openings to reduce thermal shock to the refractory liner.

Frosty the Lucky.

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to light a coal fire ,a small pice of charred cotton lit with sparks of the grinder or flint if you ar a purist, a hand full of dry sawdust and shavings put on charred coal and dont blow it too hard ,if you have a large built forge that holds a lot of coal when you shut down make shure the coal in the forge is well isolated from the burning coals , if the wind gets up through the night you will have a nice warm smithy in the morning and no coal

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For lighting I use FAT WOOD I take 2 or 3 three sticks and break them in half with my hammer on the anvil step. I build a little log cabin out of them on the bottom of the fire pot. Light them up and when the are buring nicely, pile the coke and coal around them and hit the blower. Once it stats smoking, I dump more coal or coke on top and go from there.

For shut down, I hang my tools up, turn off the blower ( if its on ) and walk away. Usually I'm waxing and green coal smoking my pieces at the end of the day, so I guess I toss a bunch of green coal on first and get that smoking, then wax my pieces in the smoke of that, then walk away.

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When I'm done I sometimes pull all the hot coke away from the center and let it cool. Putting out the fire depends on whether you can safely walk away from the forge and leave it burning or not. My forge is outside so I like to make sure that when I leave it there is no fire left. My forge is a 55 forge with a brake drum. I have the other end of the 55 gal drum that fits down over the top of the bottom drum and will smother the fire if needed.

I started a fire the other day when I only wanted a fire for a couple of hours and used only the coke from the day before. I didn't add any green coal and had no problems at all.

Mark<><

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I have been playing with some different Coal fire shutdown options. My intent is to try to get as much good coke out of the fire, leave the ash and clinker of course but also make some coke while at the same time cooling the fire with either wet or dry coal. Just some stuff I am trying.

I used to just push the top off to the side and dig out some of the hot members and just let things go out. I have a brake drum forge by the way. With the drum forge I tend to get a lot of Coke and Ash aound the outer edge and bottom. Lately I still just scrape flat across the opening and maybe dig out a bit of the hot members but try not to disturb the hot mass much. Now I dump some green coal right onto the hot glowing coke mass. I have tried wet and dry coal. Now I may just let this go for a few minutes or I have also ran the blower for a minutes or so. Running the blower for just a short time generates copious amounts of green/yellow smoke that leads me to believe I am making a lot of coke fairly quickly. After a few minutes or so I break the fire down as usual and spread the coke/coal around the outside edge of the forge and try to roll out the larger chunks of fused coke from the outer edge of the fire pot. I break the large pieces up and try to leave most of the small bits, ash and clinker in the fire pot. The fire tends to start fire better and I have gotten a head start in purging all that noxious smoke out of the coal from the left over heat of the forge. The result seems to be an easier fire to start with a bit less smoke and a nice mound of coke/coal to pile around the fire.

WHen I restart the fire I have lot of Coke and Coke coal mix. This seems to start better than just coke. I usually just hand pick through the ash, clinker and small bits of coke in the fire pot for a few minutes to preserve the most coke while getting rid of all the ash and clinker. I usually just push the ash across the 1/2" holes in the bottom and then dump that all from my home made pipe tuyere. I use a few small bits of wood from my woodshop (there is always plenty to be cut up) placed on junkmail ads with coal dust and I dowse this with charcoal starter fluid. I use a lot less paper that is usually suggested in what I have read and the starter fluid helps make stubborn Souther Louisiana humid paper burn while creating less ash in the pot. Some would say I was cheating with the starter fluid. I would say that "traditionally" I bet a smith would use whatever they have available and I have several bottles of starter fluid that I never use otherwise.

Anyone have any advice or thoughts on how to do this better or just what works for them?

I do what you do to create some coke for the next day. I wet the green coal so the hot coals do not burn up what I add at the end of the day. Fire starts easily the next day on a wad of newspaper. I dont use an accelerant.

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I like to put my fires out at the end of the day. I'll separate the coal from the coke and then I'll shovel the fire pot out and put all that stuff to the side. When I start the fire I'll use

shredded paper from all the junk mail we get. First I'll sift all the stuff from the fire pot threw hardware clothe to get rid of all the clinkers and ash. A friend of mine uses Kingsford match light charcoal to get his fires going and hes been smithing for 30 years, he forgot one day and had trouble lighting his fire.LOL

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I shovel the coke pile off to the two side, take out whats inside the fire pot to about 1/2 left then go home. My shop is not at my home so I like to make sure the fire is not going to keep smoldering. When I go back I take a little more out of the pot and drop the clinkers and dust down the grate and out the bottom and start a new fire with a little paper, shavings, the coke and some new coal on the sides.

But I am with Frosty, there is no right way only the way that works for you.

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I do exactly as above. It depends upon the style of forge you have.

I **could** simply walk away from it and seperate the next day, but I prefer to take the fire apart at days end and clean out the trash in fire pot the following day prior to laying a new fire.

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Totally depends on the coal you are using! Some coal will go out on you if you take a bathroom break. Other coal will still be burning (or have burnt out) the next morning. My smithy has minimal wood in it's construction; but I still tend to rake the fire apart and then use the sprinkler can to cool off any parts that *want* to stay lit as we have strong winds out here and disastrously dry conditions.

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There are just too many variables for this question to have a simple let alone a single answer. There are two primary skills to being a blacksmith. #1 being hammer control and #2 being FIRE control. Reverse as necessary.

As so many answers have pointed out your shop, climate and such conditions are primary to how you shut a fire down. As Thomas says a windy area and easy lite coal is a recipe for disaster if you leave it going. Other places and fuel may make it hard to keep a fire lit.

The point here being you must, MUST pay attention to your own space, tools and results of your actions. This is all cause and effect, if you can't tell when a certain effect is a direct result of something YOU did, you should take up a safer hobby.

When playing with fire play safe. If you don't know if the fire will go out on it's own PUT IT OUT yourself. One sure way to put it out without putting water on a possibly sensitive forge pan is to shovel the fire into a bucket of water and sieve it out later. If you really want to know, start slowly say leave it burning during break or lunch, maybe sit there and watch it. (Don't make me say CLEAN OUT THE FLAMABLES FIRST!) Once you see a short time is safe gradually lenthen the time you leave it alone.

Personally I don't like leaving a fire burning unattended, even my propane forge, I just don't know what unbelievably unlikely event might occure. Sure, I do leave it going to step outside and water down a dry spot or grab something from the steel pile but I can hear it going.

Anywho. You MUST figure out how YOUR forge and fuel perform and adjust to the reality of the IS. These things are what they are, NOT what you THINK they should be.

Frosty the Lucky.

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My last coal fire I did the mound up and let it coke and go out on its own. I took the blower in and left the forge on the end of the drive. It snowed and eventually covered the forge. A few weeks later I get to looking at it, dump it out into a box and sort it. There was very little coke so I have to conclude that I wasted a fair bit of coal. I put on a scoop of wet coal (about a quart) and got less than half a scoop as coke from what was there and what I added.

With my setup walking away was fine, adding more coal expecting some coke wasn't. I pull the fire apart now.

Phil

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FOr me it seems that by adding fresh coal to the hot embers and running the blower a few minutes is producing a good bit of coke and not wasting coal. Once a few minutes are done I break the fire down and break up the coke and coal and seem to have twice as much stuff. I'll probably stick with this until something better comes along. THanks for the replies

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Since my coal goes out real easily I simply rake the firepot out and open my ash dump. It's out in a matter of minutes like that. I heard some where to always leave the ash dump open after your done to eliminate the chance of gasses building up in the air inlet. I don't know if that statement is true but I do it anyway.

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