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I Forge Iron

New Forge, black smoke, folly and success

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I picked up my first forge, which is a lot bigger than I wanted, but the price was right.  It came with the Buffalo 201 blower and 5 tongs of

assorted types.  I even got a railroad rail anvil and a bucket of coal, I have trouble passing on good deals.

After reading two books and past comments from iforgeiron, I felt ready to get the fire lit.  The third try was a success. I think I had to break up the coal into much smaller pieces than were in the 50lb bag.   If you see the pictures I dragged the forge to the open part of the barn. That would have been okay if the wind didn't blow the smoke back into the barn...what a mess.  I'm sure glad no one was around and no one called the fire department.  I was told the coal was bituminous, but I think it was something else, something evil.... Well, after grabbing all fans that I had, I was able to get the forge going to what I thought was correct.  I had a small rod of some sort and started to get it hot,   Started to make something and it turned out to be a pot hook for the wife.  I think it took a million heats, but in the end, at least she is happy, I survived my first endeavor in blacksmithing, and I learned a lot.   I'll be moving far outside for the nest try and will pay attention to what direction the wind is blowing.  In this case, it is okay to laugh at others (mine) misfortunes.


Just a few questions that I was not sure about...I was wondering if the fire pot is too deep,  it is 5 1/2 inches deep.  If so should I use fire brick or something else, any suggestions. I was also wondering if there is a way to hot cut without a hardie.  I used an old chisel like thing I found on the farm ( which broke) for this first piece,  Anything better?  Also, anyone know anything about this cast iron forge, I can't see

any markings?









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Looks like you're off to a good start.  I work off a 100 yr old rivet forge that isn't near as nice. An open forge like ours needs to be outside.  Most coal will smoke when it's first lit.  Once you've got the fire going the smoke will diminish as the cola turns to coke.  You can keep some coke (the gray stuff that kind of clumps) to start your next fire.  When I start a fire, I like to add a small handle full of fine coal in the first ball of newpaper.  Sometimes I'll add a couple of pinecones to the mix.

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The fire ball in the forge should be about the size of a melon or about 5-6 inches in diameter. The metal should be in the top 1/4 to 1/3 of the fireball.



As to hot cutting without a hardie, any reasonably pointed object will do, including the edge of the anvil. Locate a piece of angle iron and attach a hardie post, touch the side pointing up with a grinder to sharpen the edge with either a single or double bevel, your choice.  They use the anvil tool in the hardie hold as a third hand, leaving your two hands free to work the metal.


As to the smoke, build a fire from twigs, wood scraps, etc that a boy scout would be proud of. Add a handfull of coal at a time allowing it to heat up and catch fire. KEEP a hole in the top of the fire as you

add more coal much like a volcano to burn the smoke.  


As to the forge, who cares, it is yours so use the thing and be happy (grin) You are already way ahead of many others by having the forge to work with.

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I think I smothered the first two attempts.  I didn't leave that hole in the center, and I was no way near a volcano shape or size of the fireball you suggested.  Thanks

for the advice.  I'll give it a try. 

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That's a great forge!  Having that shallow water trough right beside the work is really handy, even if you don't use it to hold water.


The firepot and piping aren't original, but they look workable.  My suggestion would be to use it for a couple months and see how you like it or don't.  New firepots are fairly easy to come by.


A hot-cut....  It doesn't need to be a carbon steel.  If you take a length of metal that's as wide as your hardy hole, bend it into a tight U that just fits into the hole.  One leg of the U gets bent 90º to lay flat on top of the anvil.  The other leg gets bent 90º to lay flat on the anvil, but then gets another 90º bend so that you have an arm sticking straight up.  The top of this arm is sharpened to become the hot cut.  All the other bends do is prevent the hot cut from falling through the anvil or wobbling around too much.  Not great for heavy work, but quick and easy to make.


If you have access to a large axle, you can make a better hot cut in the Brazeale style.  Very durable, but it can be a bear to get done by yourself.


Overall, you're doing great and I look forward to seeing more of your work.

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My forge is exactly that table. Mine also is on its second (or third or ...) firepot. It's a fairly nice table and will serve you well.


Your firepot isn't great. From what I can see in the pictures, it's too boxy. It should slope to the opening at the bottom. The corners are just wasted space (and wasted coal). And, it may be *slightly* too deep (1" ish).


Like mine, the firepot is too low for the table. This will not be a problem with small stock where you are heating the end of the stock or can lay it across the firepot down in the table. However, those side shelfs/cutouts in the table are so you can lay very long stock across it. That will currently result in the stock being so high above the fireball (described by Glenn above) that you will get almost no heat to the stock. I used my forge this way for 3 years, but recently built a collar to raise the firepot. I don't have pictures yet, but will soon.

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Welcome to the group. You'll find a wealth of information and help here.

As for your hot cut hardie, if you can find a mason's chisel at a yard sale or junk tool shop you can grind down the handle to fit your hardie hole and some have a 1" handle which will fit a 1" hole just fine with some tweeking. You can sharpen and/or dress the cutting edge straight or curved as you wish.

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Here is what I did with my firepot. Does make it a little awkward for raking coal into, but is great for working longer stock. Raises it basically 2" (as show by the square in the first image).



FYI: the firepot is almost exactly 4" deep from the cutouts in the side to the opening at the bottom and that is exactly where the sweet spot of the fire ends up being.

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