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I Forge Iron

An opinion on the best solid fuel forge

War wick

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Hi all. I would like to build a solid fuel forge for the pleasure of building the forge. I would appreciate any suggestions as to the type of forge design you recommend. I down loaded the Canedy catalog that SReynolds posted. Just reading one catalog, the range of forges choices is vast.  Once the forge is complete, I would like to use it as a hobby forge over weekends, but please don't tailor your suggestions to my needs. Living in Mozambique, I  come across so many talented people that don't have an opportunity, so I may hand the forge over to someone to use during the week. I don't have any restrictions in terms of space or mild steel materials. I don't have a design preference for the forge, but if you have a suggestion,  I would like clarification  on the relationship between the grate, the clinker breaker and the tuyere. I have not found a lot written on how the clinker breaker works and the best design for one. I have some 6mm mild steel sheets that I could use, but if they are not ideal, I would rather purchase the recommended thickness sheets, to build the forge. 
I stumbled across this inspiring forum and I  look forward to being part of this community once my forge is complete.
Regards War wick

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There is no Best Forge, you want one suitable for your needs. In your situation I would consider a bottom blast forge as they are more flexible with regards to the fuel you can use, and do not need water to keep the tuyere cool to prevent burn out.

Fuel is an important consideration in a design so please clarify that first.

Production of items being made in the hearth is also a consideration, small work, blade work, industrial etc etc.

Clinker breakers are not always essential, particularly if using charcoal, but clinker removal may be an important cosideration in the design,

Clinker breakers are what they say they are, something to disturb and break up the solid stuff that manifests itself as the forging session goes on, careful fire management can control the amounts of clinker being formed, if any is present it is best/easily removed when it solidifies.

In built clinker breakers usually rotate and are located inside the tue and may rotate or slide through to break the clinker and deposit it in the ash box, solid clinkers can be removed whole with a slice or other device from the top side of the tue without the need for a clinker breaker.

Lots of choices out there, search and find or come up with your own, if you would like some plans for a bottom blast design, pm me with your contact email and I will send you a set to download.

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Glen I have used your design and built a 55 forge, although we call them 44 gallon drums here. We are obviously more aligned to the imperial gallon. Thank you for the 55 it got me hooked on the idea of smithing, but I am a tool man. Making a well designed tool, will give me as much pleasure as the objects that the tool helps to create.

John Both charcoal and coal are available here. For the time being  good quality charcoal is available at a lot lower cost than coal. Unfortunately it is the sight of these huge trucks over loaded with charcoal going to Maputo each day, that makes me want to lean towards a coal burning forge.

As to the size of the forge, 20mm x20mm square bar would probably be the largest stock that I would attempt to smith at this stage.

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I have used a chiminea without a blower at all (which self destructed soon afterwards) a hole in the ground (it was a "try something once", and successful with a small electric blower) a small brake drum set into a steel table with a Champion Lancaster blower (my current forge) and two different commercially made forges with electric blowers (Very nice!).

The chiminea was a qualified success even though it was ultimately a failure. It was my first experience as an adult with hot forging, and I did produce the desired part, an exhaust hanger for my car hot bent out of 3/8 round rod with minimal tools (Success!).

The small brake drum has a hard time heating 1 inch stock, but is fine for 1/2x1 and smaller stock. The hole in the ground performed similarly but was underpowered with the small bathroom exhaust blower I used.

I am in the process of building a forge table to use this mild steel firepot based on commercial firepots.

Is there a "best forge?" No, there is no best forge for everything that is forged. Is there better designs for what size material I am working on? Yes, but sometimes the differences are style and not ultimate function, so many designs qualify. You also need to consider "what makes it best" because what is measured can change the "best." (ie, fuel consumption, range of sizes heated, portability, etc.)


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