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I've been reading on techniques for using coal in forges and I read something on a beehive fire style setup. What is this? How do I do it? Do you recommend it?

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It is probably where you build a covered fire. The wet coal is packed over something like a 4x4 which is removed leaving a hollow before being lit.

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Or the 4x4 is placed over the starter fire and left to burn out after you heap the coal over it----make sure it's NOT PRESSURE TREATED if so!

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This kind of fire can be useful when you want a lot of concentrated heat, such as for forge welding. Since the fire needs to hold together, this works best with soft/bituminous/blacksmith's coal. It doesn't work as well with coal that doesn't coke up, such as anthracite. 

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I have read enough about that method that it seems somewhat popular.  And I use soft coal as opposed to hard coal or industrial coke etc.

So I tried it. Basically,  I buid the same fire but when it is underway (  the coke is burning well) I cover it with green coal and this makes the top of the said "oven". It cokes over and have this hard shell.

So all is well and good? Hardly.  When I begin to use it I have to push air into the fire pot with my crank blower.. . . . . .where does the hot blast escape?  Directly at me. And if I have to actually employ tongs to work my workpiece into/out of and rotate it (which many of us use tongs) I have to wear a Kevlar gauntlet/glove to prevent third degree burns on my arm.

So......obviously I do it wrong.  I think you are supposed to ......well honestly. ....I don't know what else you'd do in that case. Seems quite silly to me. To the point of; "I'll post this crazy insane method of a forge fire and see who I can get to actually try this out" 

So no. I don't have patience for that. 

 

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Somewhat I'd say.  That is the "normal" method.  Your coke fire would be heaped up higher. As your picture fire is only as deep as the firepot.  It would be banked higher than that. Then the work is placed horizontally into the fire. The work will not be placed "down into the fire pot" so much.  It is above it. So, the fire must be higher than fire pot. 

So your question is; what is the fire pot for? It holds the fire but you dont really want to use that part of it as it is laced full of oxygen.  

The firepot will also allow you to walk away from the fire for a time with out it going out. It holds the fire. Some will say to never walk away from the forge fire.  Ok. But what does it do when I'm not there that it won't do when I am?

I like not having the fire go out in ten-fifteen minutes when I have to walk across the street. I cover it with green coal and it keeps.  

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If I can figure out how the forum runs, I'll go out and make you a video of me making a "beehive" fire; though I've never called it that. I've (tong) lifted the coked "shell", if you will, off the fire before just to try it.

Re: your picture above , yes,  that's about what it looks like with the exception that ideally it would have more fuel. 

The "blast" can be at any point around the fire. Yep, its hot. If you decide to walk across the street and heap green coal on the roaring forge as a fire containment as mentioned above - great! That's an excellent way to get this "hive" called fire. Come back (in a reasonable amount of time ),  give the fire a steady breath of air, & poke a horizontal hole wherever you want to work from. This is hard to explain now that I'm the one explaining & I am just finishing up my first year of fire management training.

As I need fuel , I just chip away at the shell, maintaining the single opening to work in. My setup is similar to your setup in the picture. I use bituminous smithing coal & I agree with Reynolds on most points,  but I don't have to wear gloves. I also just listen to when the fire is ready; then I poke my work opening.

Brad 

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13 hours ago, Adun Clebr said:

 

The "blast" can be at any point around the fire. Yep, its hot. If you decide to walk across the street and heap green coal on the roaring forge as a fire containment as mentioned above - great! That's an excellent way to get this "hive" called fire. Come back (in a reasonable amount of time ),  give the fire a steady breath of air, & poke a horizontal hole wherever you want to work from. This is hard to explain now that I'm the one explaining & I am just finishing up my first year of fire management training.

I get what your saying on how to do it. So would the term for the hive shell be clinker? I'm not really sure what a clinker is.

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No. They (clinker/hive) are completely separate... genres(?) of the craft...

A clinker is leftover metal deposits in the forge; they make a "clink" sound and are metallic looking.

Throw all of them out of your forge.

The "hive" is just a geometrical description of the fire, in the forge.

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Clinker is much more than "metal"  it's generally composed of items in coal that do not burn---like sand or silica from other sources, also: shale, scale, flux if you are forge welding.  It's pretty much a "glass" and so clinks rather than thuds like coal/coke does.  Some coal produces it in great quantities, some very little and more ashy than clinky remains.  I've used coal that the only time I had to clean the fire was lunch and dinner and coal that every 15 minutes I had to fish clinker out---guess which one I preferred?!

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Clinker is the part of the coal that doesn't turn into either heat or ash. It tends to sink to the bottom of the firepot, where it sucks heat out of the fire and can stick to hot metal. Get rid of it.

When I'm cleaning out my fire, I'll cut off the air supply and allow the fire to cool down a bit. The clinker is fairly easy to spot: since it can't burn, it gets darker faster than the surrounding coal/coke. (If you have a clay-lined forge, the clinker can stick if it gets too cool before you try to remove it.) Hook it out with a poker and put it somewhere safe to cool, like a metal ash bucket under the forge. Rake the coal/coke back into the forge, restart the blast, and rebuild your fire.

Once it's cooled, I dump the clinker into the potholes in my driveway.

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Just now, Sander Huff said:

I just need to know how much to buy at a time.

As much as you can afford. You'll use it before it spoils.

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Well I'd strongly suggest you buy 1 50# sack before picking up 10 tons to make sure that coal is decent smithing coal and that you don't do one burn and switch to propane!

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Well, yeah. I was kind of assuming "known coal", there.

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You're going to get hammered (pun intended) for not using the search function/ reading some of the threads.

I'm just trying to help, and I would go with blacksmithing coal of the bituminous sort.

 

1 hour ago, ThomasPowers said:

Clinker is much more than "metal"

Yes sir... 'tis. I was just trying to help in as few words as possible. He ain't reading much it doesn't look like...(no offense meant, Sander)

Brad

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2 minutes ago, Sander Huff said:

Lol, I'm just too lazy to search.

Okay, you need to get over that right quick. Seriously, there are some cranky old curmudgeons on IFI who have no tolerance whatsoever for people asking the same basic questions over and over without doing their research. For the love of all that is well-forged, fine-grained, and properly tempered, please please learn how to do your research before something bad happens.

Pro tip: the search function of the forum software is lousy. If you do a google search for what you need and include "iforgeiron" or "iforgeiron.com" as one of your search terms, you'll have much better luck.

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