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Here is a question for everone. I have not delt with commercial coke. I know it burns hotter than a green coal fire. I have been told buy some it can ruin a  normal forge fire pot. Is this true? Thanks!

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The way I light my coal/coke is to wad up a piece of newspaper, place a few wood chips/slivers (kindling) on paper wad a small squirt of charcoal lighter fluid,,, Let burn a few minutes  turn on air and introduce coal/coke...

 

Dale

Is a squirt of accelerant more or less than a quart?

 

For safety, no accelerants are needed or should be used in starting a fire in the forge. 

 

There are several methods suggested in the Forges > solid fuels > Forges and fires section of the site. Starting a fire is no more complicated than taking a couple sheets of newspaper, wadding them up, setting them on fire and adding coal and air. 

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Is a squirt of accelerant more or less than a quart?

 

For safety, no accelerants are needed or should be used in starting a fire in the forge. 

 

There are several methods suggested in the Forges > solid fuels > Forges and fires section of the site. Starting a fire is no more complicated than taking a couple sheets of newspaper, wadding them up, setting them on fire and adding coal and air. 

Maybe a ounce....... Basically just enough to wet kindling for easy ignition...

 

Dale

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Here is a question for everone. I have not delt with commercial coke. I know it burns hotter than a green coal fire. I have been told buy some it can ruin a  normal forge fire pot. Is this true? Thanks!

No,  but I've also heard that if you melt copper in your fire pot you will never be able to forge weld in it again!  Or was that Aluminum?

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Is a squirt of accelerant more or less than a quart?

 

For safety, no accelerants are needed or should be used in starting a fire in the forge. 

 

There are several methods suggested in the Forges > solid fuels > Forges and fires section of the site. Starting a fire is no more complicated than taking a couple sheets of newspaper, wadding them up, setting them on fire and adding coal and air. 

 

 

In the Harold House videos, he uses a little coal oil to light his fires. What do you think about that? They used coal oil to light fires for many years in heating stoves.

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Actually I learned the "fluid" trick at second Saturday of the moth regular local hammer in... Where from 5 to 10 local smiths and learners get together and all the old experienced gentlemen use the "starting fluid" method to start coal in forges... Just so you know there at least 6 forges 8-9  anvils on premise along with one power hammer and treadle hammer.... These guys are serious....


Dale

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Certainly with coke you need more than just newspaper and air.

 

I used to use paper and split up some kindling, scoop out a nest in front of the back blast tue and as that burned and formed a heart introduce the coke gradually. I used to break up the kindling wood by holding it in the vice and using palm heel Karate blows, then splitting it further on the anvil hot set.

 

If I could light the fire with one match I reckoned I would likely have a good day, not for any superstitious reasons I hasten to add,  but because if I was concentrating enough to light the fire efficiently that degree of focus meant the work would go well!

 

After a decade or so of occasional cuts and bruises I started lighting the fire by turning on the air and playing the rose bud torch directly onto the coke...much faster!

 

Alan

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I forge with industrial coke.  The easiest method I've found for lighting is using a little homemade charcoal, turning on the air and then hitting it with a small propane torch.  That gets going fast, then I pile around the coke.  One of those chimney starters used for firing up the grill works well too, but the first method I can use less charcoal.

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No,  but I've also heard that if you melt copper in your fire pot you will never be able to forge weld in it again!  Or was that Aluminum?

Yes and No.

Forge welding requires a clean fire. No impurities, no clinkers etc. This is why you copper braze either as last thing that day or whenever not planning on welding anything. Back in the days when horseshoers had to pass tests to get racetrack licenses and/or gain admittance to the Union, a dirty trick used to be to throw a penny in somebody's fire ensuring he wouldn't be able to weld that day.

 

It does ruin that particular fire but it doesn't ruin the forge for the rest of your life. After cleaning out and building a new fire you're good to go again.

George

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Buy coal, its very easy to light and you will have a forging fire as fast in there as I can in my 2 burner propane. Frank Turley showed me how to light a coal fire by wadding up a few pieces of newspaper into a "NM mushroom cloud shape"!!! light it and put in the fire pot, add a little coal until the paper is covered and start cranking your blower. I prefer this to my gas forge a hundered to one. But thats just my beginners attitude.

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Kyotie 11,  Nice to see another metalmangler from Utah!  I learned pretty quickly that most of these guys who post of this website know ALOT about blacksmithing and are usually more than willing to share their knowledge.  Let me know if you are looking for any particular tools or equipment, as I have an extensive inventory.  Alan

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From the guy that's a tinny tiny ways south of Yosemite, we use a SMALL bit of diesel on some wood shavings to get the fires going. I won't use anything more volatile, like  gasoline due to the danger of a blowback in the blower, i.e. explosion, not good!  I was with Dale today over in Mariposa doing some hammering. I'm mostly doing instruction these days for the lead blacksmith been a bit under the weather.

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if you have an electric blower or something automatic then coke in my opinion is the way to go (for me atleast) consistant heat and the range of heat i like greatly and you dont have to really worry about airflow to an extent because the wonders of electricity and brushless motors do wonders.... some people have issues starting a coke fire but out of pure guessing and mistake i can start it and get it going real quick.

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I primarily use gas and coke but usually try to keep a couple of bags of coal around. 

 

Here are advantages of each with the coal and coke I get around here.

 

Advantages of soft coal

 

Less air needed

Less clinker

Ability to build a "cave"

 

Advantages of Metallurgical coke

 

MUCH less smoke and emissions

Less fire management needed, you just dump more coke on the fire you don't have to coke it first.

Around here much cheaper.

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I have worked with propane, coke and coal.  Of the three I think I actually like coal the best.  Lately I use only coal.  Coke, as as been suggested, takes more air to keep it going and is much more difficult to get lit in the first place.  It works fine but I like the way coal sticks together  a bit making it possible to form a sort of cave in the burning pile into which you can put your work.  I find it easier to keep the oxygen limited in that little cave and that means less scale and less cleaning of the finished piece.

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So I recently acquired a centaur coke forge with a hand crank blower, and have about 200 dollars to spend on a solid fuel. Should I buy coal, coke, or a mixture? I want to mainly work on small to medium sized pieces (axes, large knives, some artistic stuff), and I'll be forge welding. I know that coal is better at creating a "cave" as it turns into coke, but the coke will burn cleaner and I feel like it would be more efficient to go ahead and buy what I'm trying to turn the coal into, especially since they're the same price. Any suggestions? 

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Thanks for the quick reply, didn't think it would be that fast!

So do yall think I should just spend the little extra to get an electric blower, or stick with the hand crank and get coal. Is pure coke ok to forge weld with since you generally don't build as deep of a fire with it?

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Hand crank is morre versital, one, no electric needed (demoes, job site, un powers sheds) two, when you stop cranking, the blower will give you a second or two of air then it shuts down, saving fuel, and the fire isn't growing at your back. As a hobiest/beginer its a beter option., 

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This is probably a total noob question, but I searched around for an answer and didn't really find it. So, please forgive if this has been discussed a 1000 times.

Until now I used charcoal (been forging 3 days now, in 3 weeks), I like how it burns but I run through the home depot sacs at astonishing speed. So I looked where to get coal, and it seems that an online webshop sells this stuff overhere especially for smithing purposes. But they also sell coke. The price is only marginally higher and they say that it cuts down a lot on the smoke produced. Because I work in a very urban environment, that would be a major plus. I know that you can make your own coke on the edge of your fire, but if it is availbale ready made, why  not?  

Is this coke stuff really good?

 

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Coke certainly produces less disagreeable smoke than green coal, good management and low sulfur content help a lot with that tho. If you are "eating up" charcoal I suspect forge design/ management issues. Charcoal fires ar small, you do not keep extra fuel on the table, and you do not bank it like you do coal.

Bottom blast and charcoal is notoriously fuel hungry, but generally you can "coke" raw wood on top. Assuming one was not using bricketts, instead of lump of course. 

Lets see your setup and i will see if i can help. I'm sure Frosty and Tomas powers will chime in and either help, call me a fool or both. They have charcoal experience as well. 

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Naw, I'm not calling you any names Charles, especially not when you're spelling is better than mine usually is. ATTABOY!! That and what's the fun if I agree with everything you said? I'd have to have dents in my head or something.

Well, there IS the charcoal briquette thing, I don't like them and some brands can be a problem but they CAN be made to work in a forge. Far from ideal but they CAN be MADE to work. I really like a couple broken up briquettes for lighting harder to light fuels such as commercial coke.

Breeze (forge coke) is a snap to light, a hand full of wood chips or shavings and a gentle blast and it's off and burning. Commercial coke is pyrolized in a closed container under pressure so it's hard and heavy making it harder to light and keep burning. Breeze is light from expanding as it cokes (pyrolizes) making it much easier to light and providing insulation for the center of the fire. You can really go through breeze if you're not careful with the blast and it tends to keep burning sometimes till it's ash.

Side blast forges are good for most any solid fuel and bottom blasts can be MADE to work but can be real fuel hogs with charcoal and breeze so management is different and really important.

I suggest you get a bag of both fuels and see which you like. Coal will smoke but there are ways to deal with it. I lit the starter fire with rolled cardboard, a strip around 18" long x 2" wide, rolled it tight and let is spring open a little. I'd pin it in position over the air blast by piling coarse coal around it say 1" or so. Too large to be good forge fire size but good for getting the fire going. I'd pile it in a crater around the coil and pack the outside with wet powder and dust. With a steep crater formed I'd drop a lit wooden match in the center of the coil prying the gap open a little more till the cardboard got burning. Then I give it a very gentle blast till the cardboard is going and cover it with a layer of coarse coal.

The trick is to keep flames on the pile so it burns the smoke and slowly add nut size coal to the crater. Cut is the size I used for the most part with powder and dust on the outside of the pile to control where the air went.

The cardboard coil burns like a torch, air and flame passing strait up into and through the coal. Cardboard also burns hotter than paper, approx. 750f+ so it gets coal going faster. Gently keep the crater collapsing into the center without destroying it as a crater. Once it stops smoking prodigiously pack it into a dome and she's ready to work.

Anything that isn't char is going to smoke as it pyrolizes but some smells good enough the neighbors don't complain. A propane forge doesn't smell at all with the rare exception of burning finger. Yeah, I've smelled my smoking flesh more than once. Aloe for 2nd. and less and Silvadine for 2nd. and worse. Cool it first, then apply other treatments including a ride to the ER or ambulance call!

Frosty The Lucky.

 

 

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