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Winter forging


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So, how about them northern New England winters?

Winter approaches! Since I started blacksmithing in April/May of this year, I'm wondering how I can continue my work with 2' of snow on the ground in 0 deg F weather. Currently, all of my equipment is outside and my hammer hand would freeze pretty quickly.

The local fire code here (and all of NH) is that open fires must be 25' from a building, so I can't stick my coal forge out the garage door. I will need to confirm local gas forge and indoor coal forge laws once I've picked my winter solution.

I've been offered to rent an old smithy with no electricity or lighting for $100/month (I'd use it probably 1-2 times per week), and there's no equipment except for a side draft hood. I doubt my rivet forge's firepot sits close enough to the hood for it to work. There's an additional line chimney line I could hook into, but I'd need to make a full hood. Or I could make a new forge. The main advantage is that it's indoors and will heat up quickly.

At that point, I figure I might just buy a propane forge and stick it out the garage door. Ebay has new gas forges for pretty reasonable prices, or I could make my own. Our garage is a 2 car garage with 2 car doors and 2 people doors, so I can get air in.

Either way, I'm buying CO detectors since I value my life more than $20.

 

So, to reiterate, the options I see are:

1) Rent a building $100/mo, no electricity, no lighting, and the sun goes down at 4. and either

    a. build a full hood for my rivet forge and hook it into the existing alternate chimney

    b. build a brand new forge to hook into the exist side draft hood

2) Buy a gas forge, stick it out the garage door, work inside the garage with all the lighting and electricity my heart desires.

 

 

Does anyone have advice/guidance on what to do?

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 i probably cant help with your decision but i can say that i forge outside as well and find that my fingers and hands dont really get cold and if they do, my forge is more than hot enough to warm them up. this is coming from someone who has to wear extra thick gloves with hand warmers to hunt because my fingers get cold so fast. heck even when forging in the cold half the time i end up taking my coat off from being to hot and this is in 0 degrees F or lower. i find that as long as im moving i stay plenty warm.

if i had to go with one your options, id obviously stay at home, only question i have is why not just leave the propane forge inside and have some ventilation going? i dont use propane nor know much about it, is it just the fumes/CO you have to worry about or something more?

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a gas forge will heat up a space real quick even with the doors open. That would be my choice. I ran my gas forge for a couple hours a few weeks ago and was easily cooked out of my shop within the first hour. with the 8'x8' door wide open and open gables on my 12'x16' shop and a good strong breeze going I was still standing outside the majority of the time. Luckily my anvils and post vice are outside. I don't get 0 degrees over here so I can't comment on that. But I know I would be more than willing to forge in the coldest day here with that forge running.

as for you getting cold, If you are, you're not working hard/fast enough.

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I've done a lot of work outdoors in the winter. A good sized torpedo heater can make bad temps reasonably bearable even outside.  Many a time I've been stuck out in the middle of nowhere  because a piece of equipment broke down and we set up a few tarps for wind breaks and a heater pointed at us to make it bearable while we pulled parts or put a track back on.

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'Course all things being relative, when I say "winter" I mean "Winter in Alabama," which means maybe freezing temp, occasionally down in the teens.  I much PREFER forging in the winter over the summer, at least its bearable.  Summers are just plain miserable.   I also don't recall my hands ever getting cold, but if they did as someone else said it's easy enough to warm them.  I work a propane forge on a back patio - it's got a roof, but no wind/element protection otherwise.  Very do-able.  I know that I usually go out there in the morning all bundled up and in VERY short order I'm discarding all the layers.  

But like I said, all that is relative - you Yanks would probably kill for our version of Winter.   

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Thanks for all the replies! Hmmm, okay so the takeaway is:

- Give forging outside a shot. We'll see. I remember my first winter here, I bought some hot fried food. I had forgotten my gloves, so I carried it bare handed to where I was staying 10 minutes away. By the time I got there, my hands literally could not move. Took me a good minute or two to fish my keys out of my pocket, and probably another 1/2 hour for the hand to feel fully normal. I'll definitely give it a shot, though.

- Use the propane forge. It should heat up the garage even with a good cross draft. I like this idea. Warm forging. Yum. I'll contact the fire department to make sure I'm not violating fire code and whatnot.

So unless forging outside doesn't work out and the FD says no to the propane forge, I'll save myself the few hundred buckaroos. The money I save will easily cover the cost of the propane forge.

 

I will do some research on propane forges and see what I can do. I'm thinking of doing a forced air propane forge and bringing in outside air to help with CO concern.

 

Individual responses:

Mark Dobson: Yeah, CO is the main concern with propane. The stuff is a gentle killer... in some cases the main sign is you're tired and want to take a nap.

ThorsHammer & Iron Poet: Haha, maybe working faster would help. I definitely get super warm skiing. I find there's a lot of time cranking the blower, though, so I'd probably cool down then. I'm working on my heat management skills and other technique. Getting there!

DSW: As ThomasPowers said, might as well just get a propane forge at that point! :P

SpankySmith: Yeah, last winter it was only in the 30s for a few days here. Last winter was one of the worst winters in a while, but still. COLD.

 

Edited by falsevacuum
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Also, as with any strenuous outdoor activity, two critical things:

1) Keep your core warm. Long underwear, especially. The more your core stays warm, the less your body will pull blood flow from the extremities and the less your hands will get cold.

2) Keep your skin dry. The more you sweat, the more the cold air will chill you. Wear a runner's base layer that wicks the moisture away from your skin, and then layer on top with wool for both warmth and fire/spark protection. Cotton holds moisture and is NOT your friend in the cold.

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stupid forbidden again...

Keep in mind there may be no regulation that prevent you doing what you want, but bureaucrats almost always say "no" when they are unfamiliar with something. It's usually easier for them to tell you that you can't do something than it is for them to look up and research something they are unfamiliar with.

I had the local fire marshal try and tell me I couldn't keep my scuba cylinders at the house because they were " dangerous" in a fire. This when his guys go running into burning buildings with higher pressure cylinders on their backs. I also supposedly can't have any "industrial" gases at my house. That would include say Oxy acetylene / oxy propane for a torch. However I can have as much propane for my grill as I like and medical oxygen in any size cylinder including the big 282cf cylinders of medical O2 I use for mixing dive gas. When I asked what the differences are between O2 for welding/heating and O2 for medical use, or what made propane for h my Oxy propane torch more dangerous than the propane for the grill or the big cylinder the neighbor has for the gas log, he waffled and tried to BS to get out of being caught in an obvious contradiction.

Edited by DSW
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Keep in mind there may be no regulation that prevent you doing what you want, but bureaucrats almost always say "no" when they are unfamiliar with something.

Yeah, definitely a "Better to apologize than to ask permission" situation.

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Also, as with any strenuous outdoor activity, two critical things:

1) Keep your core warm. Long underwear, especially. The more your core stays warm, the less your body will pull blood flow from the extremities and the less your hands will get cold.

2) Keep your skin dry. The more you sweat, the more the cold air will chill you. Wear a runner's base layer that wicks the moisture away from your skin, and then layer on top with wool for both warmth and fire/spark protection. Cotton holds moisture and is NOT your friend in the cold.

Thanks. Hmmm... I definitely would try to avoid anything synthetic directly on my skin, since most synthetics become napalm if they catch on fire. Then again, odds are I won't be catching on fire.

stupid forbidden again...

Keep in mind there may be no regulation that prevent you doing what you want, but bureaucrats almost always say "no" when they are unfamiliar with something. It's usually easier for them to tell you that you can't do something than it is for them to look up and research something they are unfamiliar with.

I had the local fire marshal try and tell me I couldn't keep my scuba cylinders at the house because they were " dangerous" in a fire. This when his guys go running into burning buildings with higher pressure cylinders on their backs. I also supposedly can't have any "industrial" gases at my house. That would include say Oxy acetylene / oxy propane for a torch. However I can have as much propane for my grill as I like and medical oxygen in any size cylinder including the big 282cf cylinders of medical O2 I use for mixing dive gas. When I asked what the differences are between O2 for welding/heating and O2 for medical use, or what made propane for h my Oxy propane torch more dangerous than the propane for the grill or the big cylinder the neighbor has for the gas log, he waffled and tried to BS to get out of being caught in an obvious contradiction.

Yeah, definitely a "Better to apologize than to ask permission" situation.

Hmmm... alright. I already shot them an email asking who to talk to. The guy I talked to last time knew something about forges, so they're not completely unknowledgable. That said, if they don't respond to me, so be it.

I would take care that there are no flammables in the garage that might cause problems with the vapors.  I like standing on a piece of plywood as that makes my feet a lot warmer ---even wearing socks and boots.  Wind makes all the difference! 

Good point. I'll be sure to clear the nearby area and move things like paint thinner, acetone, etc. to the other side of the garage.

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This is my strong opinion:  things like acetone, gasoline, anything with flammable vapors should not be in the same space!  I am willing to allow exceptions for workspaces not associated with living spaces; but even a small risk takes on different look when associated with one's home.

I have been very lucky the last 34 years to be forging in structures not attached to my house!  (you already know not to have a car nearby in case something travels---grinding with an angle grinder is notorious for messing up windshields and paint jobs...)

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Thanks. Hmmm... I definitely would try to avoid anything synthetic directly on my skin, since most synthetics become napalm if they catch on fire. Then again, odds are I won't be catching on fire.

You can get wool or silk base layers; "Smartwool" is one brand, but there are others. 

Edited by JHCC
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This is my strong opinion:  things like acetone, gasoline, anything with flammable vapors should not be in the same space!  I am willing to allow exceptions for workspaces not associated with living spaces; but even a small risk takes on different look when associated with one's home.

I have been very lucky the last 34 years to be forging in structures not attached to my house!  (you already know not to have a car nearby in case something travels---grinding with an angle grinder is notorious for messing up windshields and paint jobs...)

Hmmm... good point. The garage shares a wall (but not a door) with the house, so I think I should keep them, at the very least, around the corner with no line of sight to them. Also, I'll have to make sure all the cars are out the garage!

You can get soft wool base layers; "Smartwool" is one brand. 

I thought Smartwool was synthetic, but on further research, it's not! I've got some Smartwool long underwear I can wear.

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