PCornett

My Cheapskate brake drum forge (less than 15$)

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Those of you that I have talked with know that I am whining about being on a TIGHT budget. So I have scrounged and rescued and garage saled, (is that a verb?) and now have my own forge to work with. I will be lighting it up on Friday morning with regular charcoal (yes I know its not ideal but I have a bag and a half already) and very likely again on Saturday while my wife is at her baby shower.
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The BBQ is rusted out and so was free from a couple of friends of mine who were moving. Wanted a kettle style but hey....
The brake drum was free from the mechanics shop, the disk underneath it was free in some scrap metal I was given...
The pipe and cap that are the air flow added up to like 13 bucks if I remember right...
The inner tube was free from the local bike shop (had a hole in it )
and the air source is the blower from an Inflatable Christmas lawn ornament Free also for me.

A local smith who has been very helpful and accomodating let me weld the pipe at his shop.
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The vice I bought at a garage sale for 5$ along with a Railroad spike hammer also for 5$ in another post.
The anvil was the most expensive part, its a Fisher 58 lb.er that I got for about a buck a lb.
So we will see what it can do tomorrow. I am hoping to make a horseshoe heart for my wife to justify my time involved in this...
Thanks for your time...

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Glad to see you are off to a good start. The more time you get on the forge the more you will tweek your setup. I get a lot of satisfaction re-arranging my shop area. Look at all the posts here at IFI and you will find plenty of inspiration on how to make improvements to your shop and your skills.

Mark <><

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First tweek will be to buy land where I can build a shop. :) I am renting a house in town right now, till the wife and I can find a house with land included. I dont intend for this to be my permanent forge. Just the forge for right now....

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Got to start a fire today but found out I am not going to be doing any forge welding with this setup any time soon. I was using charcoal but even so I dont know that coal would give me much more in this setup. Dont know, will have to try soon.

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llmarinen (thats a bad name to try to spell...! ) garage saled is def a verb, we probably call it car booted here - and i love your style - You have tangible scrounging skills :)!! also worthy of mention, apart from the marvellous starting set up - is your more than correct instinct to make your wife a present - sounds like you have babby on the way too - the potential for pleasing your loved ones is huge :) best of luck :)

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Problems with the charcoal? Coal is way better than kingsford, but if it want you have.... You could try breaking up the briquettes in to smaller chunks. Some people have had luck with that.

Whats the problem? No heat?

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Beth, yes on the baby and making the wife happy. I tried making a horseshoe heart but ended up cutting the middle to much and then tried to work too cold. Then tried to correct yesterday by forge welding, it didnt work. (BTW, Ilmarinen is a Danish Legendary smith of old who forged the Sampo. A statue similar to a horn of plenty)

Drewed, Just not enough heat. Fine for some small working but not for large pieces or welding. Coal might improve the situation but the drum is so deep I dont know. Thanks for the words of encouragment from you all.

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I love your little Fisher. I would love to have one about that size. It will serve you well as long as your are working with small stock. You'll need something bigger as you progress, of course.

I used BBQ briquettes the first few times with my forge (mine was made from car wheel instead of a brake drum). It worked OK as long as I was using VERY small stock. Down here you can buy real hardwood charcoal at Lowes, Wal-mart, and even some grocery stores...I assume you also can where you are? You will be MUCH happier using REAL charcoal instead of the briquettes. If you can't find hardwood charcoal or coal, a lot of folks burn corn. I haven't tried it myself but I understand that it works great!

You're off to a good start...keep it up!

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Walmart does NOT carry it. I was surprised and a little tickled considering my feelings about that establishment. Were you able to get welding temps with traditonal charcoal?
Thank you all for the encouragement.

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I found out this last weekend the importance of humidity or lack of. I used my forge and where this winter with water everywhere I was only getting workable temps, with dry fuel and air lines, I burned the edge off a tool I was making. Maybe I should start collecting silica packets from vitamin bottles.
Also, my dad just traded a tiny little bench vice for a neighbor's post vice, keeping my investment in heavy equipment to $75. When you figure tongs, hammers and fuel it becomes more but not by a whole lot. Probably about $200 for whole setup so far.

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I would think almost anything would give more heat than charcoal briquettes. They add green sawdust to the briquettes to make them burn slower.

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There is very little charcoal in charcoal briquettes. In bloomery work Rehder states in "The Mastery and Uses of Fire in Antiquity" that the reducing zone is around 12 times the mean fuel diameter above the tuyere. Think what that means using briquettes!

As all the early pattern welded swords were made in real charcoal fueled forges (and japanese swords are welded up in charcoal fueled forges to this day!) if you are having trouble reaching welding temps it's a forge design or user error.

If you are just starting trying to forge weld to fix a mistake is rather a big stretch.

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Lump charcoal will definatly help. I make my own. Are you a BAM member? They have coal locations through out the state, around $15 for 50lb, you do not have to be a member to buy coal. The closest to you is probably Ken Jansen in Moscow Mill. Look up BAM on the net for more info and locations.

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Are you keeping the clinkers cleaned out? I don't know how long you've been blacksmithing but, I know that was a problem I had when I first started.

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If I go longer than a 4 hr session I do have to worry about those. So far, I have just realized I am starting to lose efficiency about the time I am ready to (or my wife is ready for me to) start wrapping it up. Strange thing though, is that when using the lump charcoal, the clinkers come out more the consistency and look of melted glass. It shocked me the first time I cleaned it up and realized that. Anyone know the reason for that? I am not using fabricated charcoal so it isnt the impurities in briquets.

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I also get the "clinker". More so from my homemade charcoal than bought lump charcoal. I figured it was from sand too.

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A great source for hardwoods to make charcoal is to find a place nearby that makes/sells hardwood floors. Sometimes they'll give you the cut off scraps. Good, dry wood.

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That forge looks like a great start!

I used to spend a lot of time in Joplin before I moved back up to Kansas.

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