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forge help needed


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Hi all, I'm in need of a bit of help and advice, I've recently setup a small forge in the garden to start learning a bit of smithing and generally to get a bit creative with lumps of metal. It is made up from 2 scrappy old farriers (?) forges I got off of ebay. My problem is that I've had to use a bit of guesswork when reconstructing it, and after the initial success of a trial run with some charcoal, now I've got some Coke, I cannot get it to light properly or hold a decent fire. I am wondering if I need to build a fire pot in front of the tuyere, or raise the base of the forge up (It is 3" from the air hole at the moment)?
I've read about lining the bottom of the forge with sand, is this right?
Any advise would be greatfully accepted, as finding pictures of the bases of forges is seeming hard.post-23091-0-10422800-1342625186_thumb.jpost-23091-0-37769100-1342625264_thumb.jpost-23091-0-17233500-1342625327_thumb.j

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Wow you are so lucky a side daft forge. I start my forge off with a little Charcoal, or dry wood start a small fire crank and introduce the coal, coke slowly it will start . After you have fun the dry coal,coke will start easier. Have fun. These forges will require more air than bottom draft forges but you will save so much more coal.

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I think he is in the UK where side draft forges are much more the norm. As is using commercial coke.

Coke takes a good fire to get started and then much more constant airflow---I've seen a coke fire die in the time it took the smith to turn to the anvil, hammer on his piece, and turn back to the fire of course he was using a hand crank blower that stopped as soon as he let go of the crank....there's a reason that blowers that coast for an appreciable amount of time are considered *good*.

Most likely you need to build a good fire to start and then get the coke started and then mound it up quite high to get a good working fire.

If lining the base I would go with a fireclay mixture rather than straight sand which just is raw clinkers after all.

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I used a similar small hearth for a few years so am very familiar with your problem, in fact will be selling mine soon...

First, you don't need to raise the bed of the hearth; a layer of old coke will form under it and your clinker will be easier to remove from this. A sheet of cast iron or silica fire retardant under the area around the tue will extend the life of the hearth.

You need to fill the whole hearth with coke, if it has been out of the sack for a while it will be have dried a bit and be a little easier to light. Bank up the coke in an arc around the tue's hole, put some of your charcoal in this and get it burning. Once the charcoal is going well put some coke on it and keep going with the crank at a steady pace; when the first coke is alight put some more on top and keep going until you have a dense ball of fire of maybe five or six inches in diameter.

As the others have written, a coke fire can go out pretty quickly if there is no air going into it. That said, if it is at a good heat you have plenty of time to forge and brush off your work before going back and cranking. Nonetheless, your anvil should be no more than a step away.

Many of these hearths are pretty low, so I advise putting it on blocks / bricks to make it comfortable to crank; otherwise you are going to have an aching back by the end of the day.

Where are you in the UK, I'm in Hertfordshire, if you want help or advice there are probably members of the Blacksmiths' Guild near by.



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Many thanks for all your advice and quick responses, I am based in Shropshire, which seems to be quite a haven for blacksmiths. I guess I just need a bit more patience with the coke, the coalyard nearby was recomended by a smith at a local show and I grabbed a few bags the next day, but never having lit a forge with it I didn't know what to expect. Hopefully the weather will hold out tomorrow and I can have another crack at it.
G Thanks for the advise about lifting the forge, I've got it up on a flagstone, and seems quite comfortable at the minute, but I can see many hours of cranking ahead.

I'll keep you all posted as to how I get on.


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