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I Forge Iron

The three-hour forge: (lots o' pics)


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Last February, I lucked into an anvil and other tools, pretty much lacking only a forge to start playing around with hot steel.

I'd built my own version of an atmospheric burner a few months later, but only had a few firebricks to stack up as a "forge". I eventually bought some Kao-Wool, and finally- only eight months later- sat down and put together a quick, simple and ratty- but entirely functional- propane forge.

I started by making this base "tray" of 1" angle iron, expanded metal mesh, and a few bits of scrap:
Photo 1


The tabs hold a firebrick (as a more-durable "floor") and the space allows two layers of Kao-Wool to be wrapped around.

A scrap sheetmetal cover to protect the wool, snips to nibble a hole, and an X-acto to cut out the wool for the burner.
Photo 2

The burner is my version of the usual atmospheric, with a tapered sheetmetal bell, stainless steel nozzle, and an adjustable orifice. The orifice is a chunk of stainless steel instrument tubing, appropriately bent, and threaded on the end for a MIG tip. The usual tip thread is too large for the tubing, so both were threaded to 10-32. Hey, I am a machinist.

It makes for a fairly elegant and streamlined gas jet.
Photo 3

Here it is assembled and running. As you can see, I had to throttle down the intake bell a bit- I'll make some adjustable shutters, but the tape was an expedient solution. Takes about 5 psi with an .024" MIG nozzle. It'll get to yellow, but can't yet get to welding/sparking heat. I may fiddle with it, but for the moment it still produces plenty of heat.

Just fiddling around with a few pieces, I whanged up these. (What's the present-tense of "wrought", anyway? "Wringing" iron?)
Photo 4

The first one, on the right, didn't cooperate, and was too small to go over the horn to straighten out a bit. The second, on the left, was a bit better- that's 3/8" round I first squared, then turned the ring.

My anvil has no sharp corners left, so that was about the tightest I could get the neck.

It's not the prettiest forge, but it works, and I'm happy with it.

Doc.

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The gas jet, as I said, is a chink of 1/4" stainless instrument tubing, threaded to 10-32 machine screw size, and fitted with a stainless quarter-turn ball valve.
Photo 5


The orifice is the usual .024" MIG tip, but mounted this way makes for a very streamlined jet.
Photo 6


I'd made my own intake bell out of old exhaust tubing, as I thought the old "pipe reducer bell" was kind of hokey- and the local plumbing shops didn't have any, anyway.
Photo 7


The bell has a central collar that holds the gas jet, and through the miracle of a small hose clamp, is actually adjustable. The mount for the whole works is a little jury-rigged, but again, this unit was put together in a hurry, to use, not to look good. :D

But now that I know my burner design works- albeit I made the intake bell over twice as large as it probably should be- I'll eventually build a slightly larger and somewhat fancier two-burner unit that's a little more refined. Though for the moment, I'm just glad I have a workable forge now.

Doc.

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And I thought my grandfather's quonset hut was HOT!!!

Very cool design Doc.

PS: been a fan of the Whiteboard for years. I have a printout of Doc chasing Rodger with the anvil hanging in my shop.



The gas jet, as I said, is a chink of 1/4" stainless instrument tubing, threaded to 10-32 machine screw size, and fitted with a stainless quarter-turn ball valve.
Photo 5


The orifice is the usual .024" MIG tip, but mounted this way makes for a very streamlined jet.
Photo 6


I'd made my own intake bell out of old exhaust tubing, as I thought the old "pipe reducer bell" was kind of hokey- and the local plumbing shops didn't have any, anyway.
Photo 7


The bell has a central collar that holds the gas jet, and through the miracle of a small hose clamp, is actually adjustable. The mount for the whole works is a little jury-rigged, but again, this unit was put together in a hurry, to use, not to look good. :D

But now that I know my burner design works- albeit I made the intake bell over twice as large as it probably should be- I'll eventually build a slightly larger and somewhat fancier two-burner unit that's a little more refined. Though for the moment, I'm just glad I have a workable forge now.

Doc.
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Roughly centered. As this was kind of an 'experimental' setup, I didn't try anything fancy other than setting the burner to maybe try and "swirl" a bit.

Heat seems pretty even, though. I could get six inches of those 3/8" rods to a pretty uniform yellow with no trouble. It's a big burner though, and I kept the inside volume pretty small- it only uses one firebrick.

Doc.

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Doc:

Up yonder and to the left? Mark maybe knows you too?

Are we by chance neighbors?

Okay, scratch that question I looked at your web site. So where are you in AK? Want to join the Association?

I've been building efficient propane burners for quite a while and having a lathe makes it a 20 minute exercise.

Frosty. From Meadow Lakes, a bit west of Wasilla.

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I'd say we're only "neighbors" in the same way Washington is a neighbor to Oregon. :D

I stopped and talked to Mark at his booth at the State Fair in '06, as I was passing through from shooting (photographing) the Labor Day races at the Palmer Dragstrip. Mark's booth was, point in fact, about the only thing at the entire fair that even remotely held my interest.

Speaking of; I still have a Champion 400 blower I got with this collection of tools, that I'd like to see go to a good home. I don't need it- I don't forsee using coal/charcoal any time soon- and it's in pretty good condition. (No stand, though.)

If anyone needs it or wants it, I'll be in Anchorage roughly sometime between now and Thanksgiving, and I'd be happy to meet up. It'll be a weekday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, around business hours.

I could use the cash, but if anyone has an interesting tool to trade, I'm all ears.

Doc.

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I'd say we're only "neighbors" in the same way Washington is a neighbor to Oregon. :D


Doc.


Well, that description covers about half my friends here. You have a home town or is it a secret? I certainly understand if it is. ;) I mention Meadow Lakes because I figure virtually nobody has a clue where it is. Google pins it in the lake itself so we're still in cognito.

I'll mention the blower on the Association list.

Frosty
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Still playing about. One of these days I'm going to have to try to remember what projects I had in mind, lo those many years past, that led me to wanting an anvil and forge.

I know these look like they're heating unevenly, but I'd just stuck 'em back in for a moment to get a photo before I shut the thing down for the night.

I have about a quarter-ton of 20' sticks of semi-rusty 3/8" rod. Any suggestions of what I should make with it? :D

Doc.

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Oh, that's Kenai, by the way. A not-too-distant neighbor knows Mark, who I think taught him some farrier techniques?

Don't know of any other blacksmiths- hobbyist or otherwise- in my area. There's one I've heard of but haven't met, but supposedly has access to a large quantity of train rail, and there's a metla-fab shop that's supposed to be adding some blacksmithing (ornamental) to their shop. I know he's got a 200 or even 300-pound bridge anvil in his office (beat pretty badly though) and a cone mandrel that's at least five feet tall and over a foot in diameter at the base.

Doc.

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