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I built a charcoal maker from a 55 gal drum and a 15 gal drum with a tabbed lid. The 55 gal had a lid as well and I installed a 4" stove pipe in it. The inside drum has a vent pipe going down its side for gasses to escape and burn. I fill the fire wood into the bottom and along the sides. I have made 3 batches so far  and it is working very well.

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They are an easy put together. The 55 gal drum was on Ebay for $39 with shipping. Food grade drum with locking lid. The 15 gal are hard to come by and actually a 10-12 gal would be better cause theres more room for fire material and 10-12 gal gives a good amount of char. The inside container has a take off lid with tabs and it 3 legs to keep it up high in the outside drum. A steel pipe comes out the top side of the inside drum and down the side to burn off gasses. There's the 4" stove pipe on top and a tin door at the bottom to feed fire wood and draft air. I have made 4 batches of ash char and it works like a charm.

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This is a very nice idea, a very good one to have in my "library of potential projects". It looks really simple both to use and make.

Good idea!

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Nice job. Look around and I bet you can find some 55 gal. drums for a LOT less. I get mine at the dump for $10 USD. Maybe there would be a market for something like that on Craigslist. Avid smokers tend to use lump charcoal as well as beginning blacksmiths. Just a thought.

Also, for personal use, you may want to look into the underground versions. You can make huge batches of charcoal that way.

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I plan on making some apple or oak char for the BBQ. It will be much better than using the brickets that are made of who knows what. I have a gas grill but that's not like the good ol wood fire. I may tinker with the inside container to improve on the design. right now it has 3 legs that it sits on and they inhibit loading the fire material.  I'm always tinkering.

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Have you reviewed all the various 55 gallon drum charcoal makers talked about on this site for over a decade?

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RNWND,

"Charcoal" briquettes are compacted charred sawdust and glue. Some have added food coloring, even occasionally, perfume. (o.k. the last two are a "lie').

They will burn and some character smiths have even forge welded with it but that was for showmanship for their demonstrations.

The B.T.U. output is unsatisfactory. Also, they are comparatively expensive.

Lump charcoal is your best bet.

Thomas Powers is correct. There are a number of charcoal retorts describe and illustrated. But, the pictures are missing from many of them. They were lost when this an improved program was foisted on the i.f.i. administrators a few years ago. But there are several, comparatively new threads that have illustrations and pictures.

SLAG.

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Tom I have looked at the different pics of what are available on this sight and all I can find on YouTube.  It's to bad the older posts were lost in the switch. My Char Maker is the same as so many I've seen and I don't claim any credit for any design. I built mine to be simple and economical to make. They all are just a container that holds the material to be charred and a container or pit to have a good fire to heat up the container.  I enjoy researching information and illustrations of everything pertaining to the forging of metal. It is so enjoyable to recreate what our forefathers did as a way of life back in the day. I'm a very newbie to this part of metal working and I look up to all of you that have been doing it and educating others about it. Thank you all. 

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How far back do you go?  (Egyptian Metalworking & Tools is probably my earliest based source...)

I consider everything past 1856 as "modern".....though I'm currently reading about the 11 Bessemer Converter plants in the USA  and how they weathered the 1870's...

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May I ask why you chose 1856? Just kinda a weird number, but I'm sure you have a good reason.

                                                            Littleblacksmith 

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Bessemer/Kelly process and the start of mild steel instead of wrought iron and a little crucible steel. Bessemer took out his patent in 1856...

(Of course Kelly had the process, Bessemer had the equipment and Mushet the spiegel eisen)

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