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Hey all, sorry it has been WAY too long since I have been on here, but two kids, a wife, and a "real" job make it hard enough just to get to pound iron, let alone pound on the key board!  Anyhow, i recently welded up a STEEL fire pot for a friend, and made a few bucks in the process (of course, in my infinite wisdom, I neglected to photgraph the thing!).  That, of course, got the old rusty wheels turning, what do you guys think the likelyhood is of being able to sell a few of these here and there?  My initial thought is that I should be able to sell a few, as the cost to produce a good, solid, fire pot out of steel is fairly low, seeing as I have a local shop that sells scrap cutoffs cheap.  I understand that a traditional cast pot is preferable to many, but the price point of those can keep many of the "smiths on a budget" I know from going that route.  Open to any and all opinions you guys may have.  Thanks in advance!

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another thing to consider is that few smiths can cast a proper firepot but a lot can weld which will tend to hold the price down.

 

Shoot I bought an ancient lincoln tombstone for US$40 and was given 40 pounds of 7018 rod; so the price would ned to be low and the design superior for me to think about shelling out $$ for a fabb'd firepot.

 

Might make a few on spec and put them out at a local conference and see how they do---perhaps with a sign "custom designs made"

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Thanks for the input guys.  Im not looking to retire on this, if I can sell a few, it would justify the recent purchase of a new welder to my wife, LOL!  Thomas, that is a good idea, there are a few local events upcoming, and I think I will be able to tell very quick if its going to go or not. 

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As to longevity, I always wonder just how long a steel pot will last relative to how long people need it to last.  

 

In general, the folks that are looking for a cheap option are the ones that think they might be interested in smithing as a hobby.  For them, the brake drum forge is almost unbeatable in terms of the return on investment over the duration of their interest.  

 

A new cast iron pot will run at least $120, plus shipping, and will last over 100 years considering how little it's going to be used by a hobby smith. Folks say cast iron lasts longer, but is that a real factor for the hobby smiths?  If I can get a steel pot for $50 and it lasts 5 years, that's a pretty good return on my investment.

 

If I buy a new cast-iron pot and use it for a year or two, I might be able to resell it and get some of my money back.  But then we're right back to the price point of the fabricated pot.

 

All that to say.... durability is a relative value.

 

If the price was right, and the shipping wasn't out of this world, I would certainly consider buying a fabricated pot.  

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As far as durability of a steel fire pot goes, I made mine from 3/8" plate and it has now been in service for 9 years with no sign of degradation. I'm thinking I'll never need to make another one.

How many hours?  Do you ever forge larger stock say bigger than 1-1/4"?  Forge weld often? 

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Thanks for the input.  I am currently using a steel pot (one given to me, not one that i have made or am thinking of selling).  It is made out of 1/2" steel.  I do a bit of large stock, 1" to 1 1/4", and a lot of forge welding with it.  I recently used the one I made for my friend, and it works great.  I think that, in terms of performace, it is no better and no worse, than a cast pot.  The biggest drawback, in my estimation, is longevity (as Vaughn pointed out).  That being said, I have talked to a few guys who, like PatRoy, have been using a steel pot for the better part of a decade, with no complaints or significant wear.  Now, to be fair, these are HOBBY smiths, like me, and im sure the pots are not seeing tons of use.  Being a newer hoby smith,  I know how hard it is to invest tons of cash into something one does just for fun.  I am thinking that, however small it may be, I will find at least a local market for these.  I'll let you guys know how it goes.  Thanks again guys.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, I'm not in Tim Miller's league I can tell you after visiting his web site. Initially I was a weekend blacksmith and then as I became "retired" I began to work in the shop any day I wanted, but not everyday and not necessarily all day. It isn't often that I work with 1" or 1 1/4" stock, but I have, and I do some forge welding. So I haven't kept track of the hours the fire box has seen but after 9+ years there is no sign of wear, erosion, corrosion or any form of degradation. I'm not worried about having to make another.

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made my  fire pot and table from 3/8" diamond plate, only 5 or so years now, but still like new and I do forge weld a lot,  even a few 2.5 inch sq hammer billets (ask RT, and its not advised to make this large by hand)

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I think you'll do well with them, hoss.

 

I wouldn't worry about durability or longevity in the least.  With 3/8ths or better plate for the pot, you'll have to go a whole bunch of hours before you wear through it.  90% of hobby smiths are working small stock ( I wanna make swords!!!!) for maybe a few hours a month.  That's not going to put serious wear on the pot.

 

And, if a new smith decides to really get into the business and is turning out product regularly, they should be able to afford a new cast-iron pot when and if the time comes.

 

Post some pics so we can see what you've come up with.

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  • 5 months later...

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