Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Help me improve my charcoal forge


Xavier F-C

Recommended Posts

I have been blacksmithing for a few months using a simple wooden table filled with clay.
I had a lot more success with my newest forge compared to the old ones I made before.

However, while I can fairly easily heat steel to an orange heat, I can difficultly reach a white heat or a welding heat.
I have observed that my charcoal can glow from time to time to a bright white heat and heat my stock quickly, but it is not consistent.
I believe my problem is that the charcoal don't fall easily into the fire pot and a lot of void is created.
To bring air to the forge, i use a shop vac and control the airflow by increasing or decreasing the distance between the tuyere and the shop vac's pipe.

Maybe I should enlarge the fire pot?

 

fire_pot_width.thumb.JPG.8451321f2eaa5096c358c238cc34456f.JPG
We can't see it clearly, but my forge is surrounded by bricks for wind protection and insulation.

fire_pot_height.thumb.JPG.d27d6c9ac6f383ce94d238f908304c11.JPG
The fire pot depth is slightly more than 4 inches.

tuyere.thumb.JPG.6b529beaa65b749176f43a4bced120c3.JPG
The tuyere diameter in the inside is around 1 and 1/4 inches.

charcoal.thumb.JPG.17a5301f425ea988f740a9e8ef569923.JPG
Here is a look of the charcoal I make.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is my set up. I use 2" pipe. You need high flow/ low pressure for air. I like my charcoal acorn size. Smaller peaces seam to burn fast but put off way more heat. 

Hope this helps. Been forging since February 

image.jpeg

image.jpeg

image.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jasent; are you getting forge welding temps in that set up?

Xavier, have you tried making your firepot taller by placing firebricks around the rim?  Also real slow air will help. You generally want up to 6 inches of charcoal under your piece and several inches over it.  More pictures of your forge would help instead of just close ups.

Have you looked at the Tim Lively's washtub forge or the asian charcoal forge that Weygers drew in in "The Complete Modern Blacksmith"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the suggestions!

I am forging today and I will try to get more pictures of the forge later in the day.
I will also try to increase the height by adding some flat bricks.

ThomasPowers,

I have seen Tim Lively's washtub forge but I don't think I have seen the other one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm having trouble locating the one I mentioned too. I hope it wasn't edited out when they combined the books!

Anyway it was a charcoal forge from southeast asia built of adobe and had tall slanted sides to funnel charcoal into the "work zone" and open ends. Definitely designed to do heavy work and the anvil was a broken piece of bulldozer IIRC.   Sort of like a Lively forge but built up much more. I apologize for the mistaken cite.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, ThomasPowers said:

I'm having trouble locating the one I mentioned too. I hope it wasn't edited out when they combined the books!

Anyway it was a charcoal forge from southeast asia built of adobe and had tall slanted sides to funnel charcoal into the "work zone" and open ends. Definitely designed to do heavy work and the anvil was a broken piece of bulldozer IIRC.   Sort of like a Lively forge but built up much more. I apologize for the mistaken cite.

The illustration of the adobe forge on p. 98 of The Complete Modern Blacksmith doesn't show the cross section you describe, and the anvil is the broken shaft of a sugar cane mill, set in a stump. The bulldozer part anvil is shown on the following page, in a different set up of his own. 

Full marks for correctly spelling "cite", though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your pot is not wide enough at only 4 inches.

Keep the bottom the same size, and widen the top out to say 6 or 7 inches.

Do you have a fire rake or poker? Keep working the pile of charcoal with it, as yes if left as it is, it will burn hollow from the inside, meaning you end up with cooler air blowing on your piece cooling it as much as feeding the fuel around it. Idea is to keep poking the fuel down with the fire rake or poker.

Given you don't have a fine air control - turn your air supply off when not actually heating steel, or you will go through an unbelievable amount of fuel with a charcoal forge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jackdawg,

I agree entirely with that my fire pot should be much wider and I should make a new one.


ThomasPowers,

This afternoon, I added one brick slab to increase the height and it did help a little bit.

 

Here are some pictures of the forge after I forged a straight pein hammer.

forge.thumb.JPG.9812be6a2ff0cea5c06dd46638b78f68.JPG

Between the two pipes, there is a connector I made of sheet metal and rivets to control the airflow by translating it.

forge_zoom.thumb.JPG.987d0a762eaec731a81ecab428eff0d6.JPG

inside.thumb.JPG.31c72341e6dd5ab74a76ccbfa7840122.JPG

top.thumb.JPG.91c3b9d89508b333c595ba6bc6b2c891.JPG

The hammer was made from 32 mm X 140 mm square stock.

 

face.JPG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks  like a crosspeen hammer, in a straight peen hammer the peen is oriented the same way as the hammer eye and in a cross peen hammer the peen is oriented crossways to the hammer eye.

One trick to save fuel in a coal or charcoal forge when you are using an electric blower is to get a floor switch for it.  Get one set up so it is only "on" when you are standing on it and so as soon as you move to the anvil or vise it will turn off automatically.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

47 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

One trick to save fuel in a coal or charcoal forge when you are using an electric blower is to get a floor switch for it.  Get one set up so it is only "on" when you are standing on it and so as soon as you move to the anvil or vise it will turn off automatically.

Although that gives you less opportunity to straighten up, get some water, etc -- all the things I tend to do while waiting for my metal to heat up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And is a major factor in new smiths burning up metal!  If a student steps away from the forge for ANY REASON I want the blower to be off until they return!  When I teach a class and we have multiple people using a single forge; folks who wander off come back to find their steel cooling off to the side---they almost all want to make knives and so I try to drum in proper technique for doing so from the start even when working mild or A36

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to admit I lost 3 inches of D2 yesterday, on the first heat the first time I used coke in my forge, to used to using wood / charcoal........not that I walked away, I was just doing the usual fiddling I do around the forge and anvil, setting out the hammer and tongs etc.

And it wasn't just that it was burnt and was no good, it was gone......

Link to comment
Share on other sites

D2; isn't that one of the alloys known to be a pain to forge as it has a tight upper and lower range?  I've cottage cheesed H13 the first time I was working some heavy stock of it.  Tough under the hammer so I increased the heat some more and crumble.....

Ah yes we were talking about that in August of 2009....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I noticed many suggested to turn off the blower while I am away or forging and that is what I have been doing for a long time. ;)
To give you an idea of much charcoal I used the day I forged the straight peen, I burned approximately 100 L of charcoal for 10-11 hours (not consecutive).  

 

The hammer I designed is a straight peen around 2,4 lbs with a very blunt peen to allow me to draw stock more easily. ( It was not clear in the other photos.)
peen.thumb.JPG.fcd4cbbed8db2ded8b4ee8a8f0b0f17a.JPG

 

I will try to post improvements to my fire pot in the near future.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My variac has an on/off switch, and my work area is about five feet square. If I step outside that area, I flip the switch. Either that, or turn the knob waaaaaay down. 

On 5/27/2017 at 3:31 PM, ThomasPowers said:

Yes I know which is why I'm wondering if the one I remembered got edited out when the books were combined.

There's a PDF of the original version online here; it doesn't have an illustration of the cross section of the Indonesian forge. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

About that whole "Stupid Simple" thing. In my book high tech is about doing a job well. The better the job get done the higher the tech. I measure "better" by some simple criteria. The general better on the list refers to quality, a better finished piece. Anyway it goes like this: Better, Cheaper, Faster, Easier, Simpler.

A simple device that does a better job than a more complicated one is higher tech in my book. If it works and it's simple it isn't stupid. If it works BETTER and it's simpler, it can't possibly be stupid! So THERE!

Frosty The Lucky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...