Glenn Posted December 24, 2012 Share Posted December 24, 2012 There have been several questions on forges and fires. Many of the questions have been answered several times on the site already. A forge is something to hold the fire. An anvil is something to hit upon, and a hammer something to hit with. The rest are details that make life easier for the smith.>What do I need to get started in blacksmithing is a good review. How to build a fire First if you have a chimney, loosely wad up a couple sheets of newspaper, set them on fire and place them into the chimney so the heat will get a draft going. Next build a fire that would make a boy scout proud. Gather a bunch of sticks, chop up some kindling, or even break up the stalks of weeds so you have a bundle about 4 inches in diameter. If none of that is available cut some cardboard into 2 inch or 3 inch strips and roll it into a circle. Wad up a couple of sheets of newspaper and set it on fire, and put it in the fire pot of the forge. Put the sticks, kindling, or roll of cardboard on top of the burning newspaper and fill in around the sides with coal or coke to hold it in place. Add just a small bit of air to get things started. Once you have a fire started, add a double hand full of coal to the top, and a bit more air. The idea is to establish a bed of coals from the sticks, kindling, etc with enough heat being generated to set the coal on fire. When you see the coal start to catch fire, add another double hand full of coal. The amount of air needed is surprisingly small. You do not need a F5 hurricane force wind to forge with. You can not get fuel hot if the fuel is being blown out of the fire pot, or is dancing in the fire pot from the force of the air. You need only the amount of air to produce the heat you need from the fuel. Be sure to keep about a 1 inch opening in the top of the fuel forming a volcano so the fire can escape. As that fuel catches fire add more and more fuel always keeping the opening in the top clear so the fire can escape. As the fire heats up the fuel will give off volatiles (smoke) and the hole in the top will allow these volatiles to escape and burn, as well as burn the remaining volatiles coming up through the coal. If you burn the smoke, the neighbor can not see it, or at least see a lot less of it. The size of the fire is determined by the size of the stock. The shape of the forge determines the shape of the fire ball and the shape of the heat. A small round fire can be designed to heat no more than a 4 inch section of metal, where as a brake drum or pan forge full of fire can heat 12 inches or so of metal, and a slot forge can heat 2 feet or more at a time. If you can work 4 inches of metal with your hammer (during one heat) then it does you no good to heat 24 inches of the metal at a time. No matter how much metal you get hot, you can only work so much under your hammer in one heat. Build your forge and fire to match the work you are doing. The 55 Forge is a good, quick to build, low cost, starter forge. Build it first and play in the fire. It will not be perfect but you will have a working forge and time to design and build your second forge. >Reference The 55 Forge Side blast 55 Forge Bottom blast 55 Forge Forges are designed so that the work can be inserted into >the sweet spot of the fire, that is about midway to 2/3 of the way up the fire ball. This is where the oxygen has been consumed by the fire and only heat reaches the metal. Without oxygen you get little or no scale. If you have a shallow fire and lots of air, you can actually cool the metal by the air blast, and it will not get to forging temperatures. Now that you have a forge, the fire and heat is determined by the air being pushed into the fire, NOT be the amount of solid fuel in or around the forge. Most folks try to save the fuel and do not use enough fuel to have a proper size fire. Reference cross section of a forge. The amount of fuel does not make the fire hot.The amount of air going to that fuel makes the fire hot. The yellow is the burning coke, the fire ball. The red is the coal being transformed into coke and the black is the coal. Notice the size of the fire ball and where the stock is placed. You can put more coal on the top to insulate the fire and hold the heat down into the fire ball. You want to restrict the air produced but not restrict the air going to the fuel. Keep the air tube open and just enough grate to hold the fuel in the forge. For the 55 Forge I use a 2 or 2-1/4 inch auto exhaust pipe and one or two pieces of 1/4 in mild steel rods as a great. This leaves a LOT of room for air to pass into the fire. After several fires notice the cone the ash has formed. The bricks were placed in the forge to make the fire deeper and smaller for the project at hand. There are two of my forge pots, The one on the left has an air tube of 2-1/4 inches with one piece of mild steel welded in for a grate. The fire pot on the right is a 3 inch air tube with one 3/8 inch bolt welded in for a grate. No one ever said it was going to be right the first time. This was too much opening and I was loosing fuel down the air tube. So I put 2 each 3/8 inch bolts across the opening and it now works very well. I am even able to use fines or coal dust as a fuel in this fire pot. This is actually a deep brake rotor and not a brake drum. I like it better as once you cut a hole in a forge table it will just drop into the hold and hang on the rotor disk. The disk has a low profile and you can easily rake coal into the fire pot when you need to. A second 55 gallon drum with both heads removed was then placed on top of the 55 Forge and tack welded into place.The supercharger!! This creates a 24 inch diameter chimney and very good draft. The two support drums are only for the photo, as the forge will be used on a stand I will construct later. Do not feel you have to have a steel drum, a hole in the ground will work just as well. To make things easy and so the smith does not have to been over, put the mud or a stack of bricks on a table. There is no right way, and the metal does not care how it gets hot. The metal only wants to BE HOT in order to move under the hammer. And no one said you had to forge with coal, coke, or charcoal. You can use any fuel that burns with enough heat to get the metal hot. Some have used wood, and corn as a forge fuel. You may have to modify your forge a little to make these alternative fuels work best. Additional ReferencesBP0048 How to Build a Coal FireBP0046 How to Build a Coal FireBP0045 How to Build a Coal Fire BP0042 How to Build a Coal FireBP0037 How to Build a Coal FireBP0036 How to build a Coal Fire BP0137 Fire Starters BP0051 Good CoalBP0131 Coal, Coke, and Rocks I may add more information to this post. Please check back. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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