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m31desantis

Comments and criticisms on my forge?

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Here is my forge, just finished it today,

 

My hardwoodlump charcoal burns incredibly fast and im trying to increases its lifespan in the fire untill i get my hands on real coal.

 

my tongs are half made and are shotty at best...

 

The broken tile on the top, yes it was my "brilliant" idea of a lid for the forge

post-40842-0-48509100-1370316279_thumb.j

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how are you pushing air?  Charcoal does best with a hand crank blower or bellows as you don't burn so much up compared to an electric blower.  If you gotta go electric get a foot switch so it's only on when you are standing on it.

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That'll work fine, better a little deeper with room to pass long stock through but there's nothing really wrong with what you have now. Now get your anvil off the ground on a stand so you can use it properly. Or are you going to forge sitting or squatting on the ground?

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Fuel consumption is all about dry weight, not volume. Wood charcoal is mostly air, coal is dense. Blacksmiths got by just fine on wood charcoal for 2,000+ years, and still do in most of the world. Coal is a recent alternative, and many complained bitterly when that was all that was available.

 

Heck, the first steam trains ran on wood in the firebox. But we needed the trains to haul the coal.

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how are you pushing air?  Charcoal does best with a hand crank blower or bellows as you don't burn so much up compared to an electric blower.  If you gotta go electric get a foot switch so it's only on when you are standing on it.

Im using and electric hair dryer, i wish it had more settings for air but its all i got at the moment.

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Hook the hair dryer up to a rheostat. (get a dimmer switch at hardware store). Get someone more electrically inclined than me to help. Cheap fix for now.

 

Looks nice, I'd say, deeper pot for charcoal, and if you're just starting and using mostly that 4 lb hammer, consider switching to something lighter, otherwise you'll get tired out, won't move as much iron, and get tennis elbow. (not that I did exactly the same thing or something........)

 

You could start with something like a 1.5 or 2 lb ballpein, or tractor supply has a 2 lb crosspein for around 10 bucks. If you're looking for forging equipment, send me a message, I've run into a couple of tool hoarders....I mean sellers up in Acworth or on the south side of Atlanta (I'm over in Marietta), and I'll pass you their contact info. They're not super cheap, but it beats looking on craigslist to find people selling 4 inch post vices for 200 dollars (got mine for 40).

 

There's also a farrier supply up in Jasper that's about the best deal on bitumous coal I've found for the area. Burns well, good control of the fire. Don't even bother fooling around with anthracite. You'd be better off with the charcoal. Good luck! If I can ever get off on the right weekend, hope I'll see you at one of the Alex Bealer meetings.

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See if you can find a Christmas tree switch for an off/on switch in combination with the rheostat.  That way the air volume doesn't change each time but you can turn it on or off.  This was the cheapest, viable solution that I could find w/o already having one.  And in my case instead of a rheostat I just change the angle that the fan is blowing using notches and a wire w/ knots tied in it.

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Hook the hair dryer up to a rheostat. (get a dimmer switch at hardware store). Get someone more electrically inclined than me to help. Cheap fix for now.

 

Looks nice, I'd say, deeper pot for charcoal, and if you're just starting and using mostly that 4 lb hammer, consider switching to something lighter, otherwise you'll get tired out, won't move as much iron, and get tennis elbow. (not that I did exactly the same thing or something........)

 

You could start with something like a 1.5 or 2 lb ballpein, or tractor supply has a 2 lb crosspein for around 10 bucks. If you're looking for forging equipment, send me a message, I've run into a couple of tool hoarders....I mean sellers up in Acworth or on the south side of Atlanta (I'm over in Marietta), and I'll pass you their contact info. They're not super cheap, but it beats looking on craigslist to find people selling 4 inch post vices for 200 dollars (got mine for 40).

 

There's also a farrier supply up in Jasper that's about the best deal on bitumous coal I've found for the area. Burns well, good control of the fire. Don't even bother fooling around with anthracite. You'd be better off with the charcoal. Good luck! If I can ever get off on the right weekend, hope I'll see you at one of the Alex Bealer mee

That hammer is 2.5, and i have a ball peen that is 16 oz... im a small person.

 

And i do need a vice, ill let you know. 

 

I want to hook up a dimmer switch but i have no idea how todo that,

 

And as for the pot, Im using a 4ft long peice of steel will holes drilled in at one end... so ill just put up more brick and pile the coal higher. good idea?

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See if you can find a Christmas tree switch for an off/on switch in combination with the rheostat.  That way the air volume doesn't change each time but you can turn it on or off.  This was the cheapest, viable solution that I could find w/o already having one.  And in my case instead of a rheostat I just change the angle that the fan is blowing using notches and a wire w/ knots tied in it.

Link me to a video where someone hooks that up?

 

I knew that was a thing but i just have no idea how todo it.

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That'll work fine, better a little deeper with room to pass long stock through but there's nothing really wrong with what you have now. Now get your anvil off the ground on a stand so you can use it properly. Or are you going to forge sitting or squatting on the ground?

 

Frosty The Lucky.

im squatting for right now, working on a anvil stand at the moment... 

 

What do u mean by deeper? 

 

My pot is about 2inches at the moment, I am going to make the walls higher and just pile more coal... not much i can do about that unless i go buy a metal one

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In the picture above you can see the wires coming out of the blower.  At first I just put a plug on the end of the wires and then plugged it into the extension cord w/ the big red foot switch.  Later I decided it was too messy like that and opened up the blower, but the female end off of the extension cord and reconnected existing blower wires with that of the extension cord. 

 

To attach the fan or blower to the threaded pipe I got a 2" flange and some small hinges.  Drilled holes and bolted the two together, then cut notches in the top part of the forge tables frame in order to change the angle of the fan.  Something about the fan itself causes it to blow harder when there's more resistance so when it's flush against the flange it goes full strength which is useful when starting the forge.  That's about the only time I use it like that as it's too easy to burn up a piece of steel.

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haha, that looks like my anvil! record A55 cast iron? :) I brought it to the forge school to test how well/poorly it forged and it was terrible! put a couple of new dents in the face with some sloppy hits, pretty much only using it as a hardy hole at present.

 

I find that working from a kneeling position lets you keep your body in a much more balanced stance and provides for a better swing than squatting.  YMMV.

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Dcraven

 If you would like to reduce the overall flow of your blower you can run a strip of 100mph tape or similar around the outside of the fan itself parially blocking off some of the blade opening. By varing the amount you block off you vary the flow. Obviously this isnt easily adjustable but it can be used to get close to where you want to be.

 Hope that helps

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Originally I considered making a door of sorts out of sheet metal to block the in flow of air, or an air gate to block the output.  There are examples of both on this forum and online.  Then I thought of this which seemed simple and effective.  Thanks for the suggestion, but I like how this works.

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im squatting for right now, working on a anvil stand at the moment... 

 

What do u mean by deeper? 

 

My pot is about 2inches at the moment, I am going to make the walls higher and just pile more coal... not much i can do about that unless i go buy a metal one

 

 

Charcoal and coal operate better with a deeper fire. You want the stock buried in fuel and charcoal especially will oxidize heck out of the stock in a 2" deep pot. Somewhere around here more specific numbers have been posted and I know Glenn's posted charts about fire shape and the zones.

 

For a brief description. . .  (Go ahead laugh guys but I'm going to try!) The physical shape of the fire is contained by the pot, be it iron, clay bricks or wet fuel. At the bottom (bottom blast) the air is blown into the burning fuel and it takes contact with the fuel to consume the oxygen. this is the oxidizing zone, any iron placed here will scale up and burn if hot enough. The next zone is the heart, it's the hottest and all the oxygen has been consumed, steel paced here will take whatever heat you allow up to and including melting completely. the top zone is hot and oxy free but is well below normal forging heat and is a good pace to preheat work or temper. It's also a zone where coal is coking if you allow green coal here. Coal that has coked in the forge, often called "breeze", unlike commercial coke that is processed in iron boxes under serious pressure, breeze is sort of like grey white popcorn or packing peanuts. It's very light and makes excellent insulation so a fire under it is generally hotter than one under green coal.

 

Okay, that was a coal/breeze fire and the complete mound should be around 7-8" high with the heart probably 4-6" off the air grate. Determine the heart by opening a hole in the side and looking for the really BRIGHT area that doesn't blow spark and hot air at you.

 

Charcoal is different only in that it's been processed so you're not tending a green coal fire. However, the oxygen will travel higher in the mound than it will in breeze. You have a deeper first zone think 4-6" before it's safe to put your iron in it. Then there's the heart or second zone where you want to do the majority of your heating. The third zone is mostly available fuel reserves and insulation as no oxy should be getting to it except from the free air around the fire.

 

2" is just too shallow. I'm not a coal guy but have used it. My coal forge is a "duck's nest" forge without a dedicated fire pot, just a depression in the refractory floor to the air grate. From there I build whatever shape fire I want by stacking brick around and sometimes even enclose the fire. The rules still apply, for coal/breeze I stand fire bricks on edge so my basic fire"pot" is 4.5" deep x 9" sq. I may make it wider and longer or smaller like 3-4" sq. Whatever I need. The depth however is a constant, 4.5" or deeper.

 

No need to get fancy about an anvil stand stack 2"x6" or wider two wide and rotated 90* each layer till it's a comfortable height. One method for gauging anvil height is by where the face meets your hand. Alex Bealer in his book, "The Art of Blacksmithing" says, standing comfortably next to the anvil your knuckles in a closed fist should brush the face. this is a little low for most of us but it's a good working height. Another gauge is, standing relaxed next to it it should wrist high. I can work anywhere in this range and prefer it to be just about middle of these two

 

Gordon Williams during his recent clinic showed us another gauge technique that works very well. He says your tongs in your holding hand should lay flat comfortably across the face. OR if held between your legs.  I'd never thought of those! Guess what, turns out my most comfortable working height is crotch tong height and it turns out that's middle of my hand. I'd thought up a similar technique, hold my most used hammer comfortably with a slightly bent elbow and the face should lay flat on the anvil.

 

Regardless what you finally find best for you, nail some lumber together and mount that anvil! You'll wish you'd done it sooner.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Frosty:

 

Yes, it dawned on me just recently that my inseam is the same as my anvil height because I hold stock between my legs (duh!). So, now I just ask my boy scouts what their inseam is when I want to know what height they will need for the anvil. The only problem is that most boy scouts don't buy their own clothes, so I have to ask their moms ;-).

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oh yea, cause that's not weird :)

 

I do find myself having to get up on my tiptoes to get stock flat on the anvil face when I use the crotch tongs, sadly thats on an anvil thats otherwise at the right height for me hammerwise =/ I have a pretty long torso aparently

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