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ThorsHammer82

couple questions on solid fuels

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I've gotten about 90% done on my brake drum forge. All that's left to do is trim some sheet metal and build a frame out of angle to keep the fuel from falling off the table. I'm using an old small propane BBQ frame as the base to give you an idea of the size of the table. I'm going to end up at $0 cost for both my forge and anvil build. I plan on finishing up the forge this week, and starting on the anvil next week.

 

But my question has more to do with fuels than it does with the forge build. 

 

I found a score at a garage sale this weekend. A bucket of Coal. Lumps the size of soda cans. What size is best for forging so that I'm getting a decent fire but not wasting a lot of fuel?

 

also, I plan on using briquets for the most part as thats whats available in my area (that I've been able to locate in my limited searching) do I need to do anything to the briquets before I use them? of just start a fire and throw them on?

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briquets are not a good fuel as the adhesive that holds it together causes it not to burn hot enough. you want a natural hardwood lump charcoal, or actual coal. hardwood charcoal is'nt hard to make either build a fire let the wood burn off into a good coal bed then put it out. i've also heard of people burning corn or plain old pallet wood cut into small pieces ( 1 inch square)read through the solid fuel forges section of the site and i bet you could answer allot of questions about fuel and forges, plus im sure a few more will chime in here.

 

Riley

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Riley is correct.

 

Your coal will give you the best performance when it is pea sized. Wear gloves and safety goggles (always) and break up your coal into smaller usable pea sized pieces. 

 

As for store bought briquets, they are not good for forging. If you have a Lowes or similar store in your area, see if they have lump hardwood charcoal. There is a brand out there called "Cowboy". It works really well. 

 

I make my own charcoal with a home made charcoal retort. There are many ways to make charcoal. Like Riley said, or you can burn scraps in a 55 gal drum with the top cut off and when it gets burning really well, cover the top. Check out youtube, they have a zillion ways to make your own charcoal.

 

If you can post some pictures of your progression with the forge, people will be able to steer you in the right direction. 

 

Keep on asking questions.

 

Mark <><

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I'll buy the lump charcoal if thats what I need. Same size requirements as the coal? I was thinking maybe 1" chunks and smaller, but if I've gotta go to 1/2" or 1/4" I will on the coal. I'll take some pictures when I get a chance to work on it again. it's definitely not pretty, but it will get the job done.

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OK, here are the requested pictures.

First the full picture. built off an old BBQ grill frame. Approxmate size is 48"x18" for the table top

The under side
The weighted ash dump
The ash dump was cobbled together from scrap form this and other welding projects The ash lid is just a section of 3"x1.5" channel iron.
I made a lid/damper for the fire pot out of a brake rotor i had around. puts the fire out quick.
THe inside of the fire pot with the drop in grate removed.
The first fire was started with briquets, but I eventually added coal. Started with large chucks around the outside and let them coke up and than moved into the fire more. I plan on buying coal from a local supplier soon as it's cheaper than buying lump charcoal.
Turned on the blower (shop-vac) and flame one... on a side note, I need to add a dimmer switch to the shop vac so I can control the air speed. right now it's blasting some of the finer fuel bits right out of the firepot.
and finally, the first heat. This was done with just the briquets. I was able to draw this 1/2" round bar down to about a 3/16" "square" (not a perfect square) on a section of track placed on my soon to be anvil stand. I'm in dire need of decent tongs. Channel lock plyers just aren't cutting it.
next I'll start on the finalized anvil. But that may be a few weeks out. I've got quads to fix for a camping trip in a couple weeks.

 

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Nice man! I did something real similar with a 55 gallon drum and a brake drum. Looks real nice. :)

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Google anvilfire tongs and dempsey twist for a page on making tongs, it's the method I'm using now.  I like what you've done with the brake rotor as a cover, great idea!  Couldn't tell what you're using for a blower, but I posted pictures & information of my setup in this thread.  I use a Christmas tree foot switch for turning it on & off so the amount of air stays consistent until you want to change it.

 

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right now it's an old small shop vac. and let me tell you it moves some air. eventually I'll add a dimmer to it, but for now I'm going to try the open ash dump method. The switch is on the front and right now the piece of bent rebar I'm using as a fire poker works real well for flipping the switch.

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Farrier's supply'll have bitumous coal. Sometimes find it at a welding supply. Nice, easy to light, easy to control. More expensive, but ya use less of it.

 

Anthracite heating coal works in a pinch and is cheap, but takes a lot of air and burns very hot and fast, so less control and easier to burn the metal. Used to get mine at a feed store.

 

Making lump charcoal in a 55 gal drum is a fun project, I use lump charcoal a lot of the time to cheat when I first light my forge.

 

All of it seems best to do best for me at around .5 to 1 inch.

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forgot to mention on this thread. I found a supplier "locally" (1.5 hr drive 1 way) that has Utah Bitinimous blacksmithing coal for $0.12 per lbs bulk. or 60-65 lbs bags for $13 I'll be taking a 35 gal garbage can down and fill it up. Should be able to get 100-200 lbs of coal which should last me a good long time based on the amount of time I'll actually have to forge.

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And the first projects to come off the forge. a couple of bottle openers. I think I did ok for only having the internet to teach me. The scroll is far from perfect, and I don't have the right punches and drifts. but I'm happy with it. the second one is made from a large bolt I got from the scrap pile at the local rock quarry that I got to raid. and will be going to the quarry owner as a thank you. It's nothing pretty, but he's not really a "pretty" type of guy.

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