Tommie Hockett

Building a coal forge

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Howdy yall. So as promised in my intro here is my first question. I am just getting started and I plan to build a coal forge. I have an old number 2 wash tub and I was curious on what yall thought about maybe putting a pipe in the middle of it and sculpting a fire pot into it with clay. also I have seen forges with and without hoods do I need one and does a hood help with heat retention. my forge will be basically outside I have a back patii with 3 foot pony walls and a tin roof over it. thays where my forge will be.

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You can make a was tub work, either side or bottom blast, a hood eithe is used to connect to a chimney or in outdoor setups to shade the heating stock so you can beter judge the temp. 

 

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You mean you want to build a Tim Lively washtub forge like has been used by folks for a couple of decades all over the world now?   Search on that and look at the old neo-tribal smithing stuff from way back when.  (This question reads a lot like "I want to build a car; what do you think of me putting a gasoline engine in it would that work?")

You might even run across some of my posts---I was Bogiron on a couple of the neotribal metal smiths forums.

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Thanks for the info Charles. 

Thomas its my bad I need to be more specific... I reckon since its been done by alot of people for decades then it would be a good idea. my actual questions are should I make it side blast or bottom blast? which one would be best? And I was wondering if there is a magical measurement that everyone uses for their firepots. i.e. length depth and width. Also thanks for the tip on the neo tribal smithing I will have to look it up tonight, headed back to the hotel now. 

 

I have one more qyestion rattling around in my head.... So in some modern adobe buildings they use lime to help stabalize the structures. I am also fairly sure that lime is costic in powder form. if I added it to the clay and sand mixture would it help prevent heat checking and if so would it put off toxic fumes when heated?

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unslaked lime is caustic, slaked lime they add to fields as fertilizer and use to mark football fields.

Adding unslaked lime to the adobe would probably make it WORSE as it would tend to make it harder. (cement is a bad idea!)

It's not heat checking but drying checks.  Unslaked lime does not give off toxic fumes but the dust is caustic. If you mix it with clay sand and water it will slake itself...

Me I just used creek clay and wood ashes and would "beat the surface" as it dried to compress it and fill in cracks that formed; but cracks are no big deal.

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Right in Thomas thanks for the advice.... I almost hate to ask but do you have anything for me on the dimensions on the fire pot? Also glad yoj said that about the cement I wasnt going to use actual cement but that was my train of thought about the lime haha. So I will definetly leave that out 

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Size of firepot depends on size of items YOU plan to make.  I suggest you look at the various Tim Lively forges and what they were used for and come up with what you think will work for YOU.

The neat thing about the JBOD and washtub forges is that they are easy and cheap to redo anytime you want to try something else!

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Thomas sir so far you are a scholar and a gentleman I appreciate you sharing your knowledge with me.I am going to look up the tim lively forges right now. Thanks again.

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holy crap so I have been looking at tim lively's stuff this entire time. and I ran across several different variations and some information on how to properly use a rail road rail as an anvil... I have alot of things to think about but I already have a plan in my mind and I will share it with yall on the morrow. goodnight yall

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Coal and charcoal can behave diferently. Coal loves strong blast and with in limits, the bigger the tuyere outlet hole the bigger the fire. Charcoal likes things gentle and intament  the Lively forges ar usualy trough style and use multiple holes in the tuyere. This is good for charcoal. Coal dosnt care so much. 

we can get into that more after you show us your ideas. 

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well I saw one made using the shell of a bbq grill. So that got me to thinking I have a very old homemade gas grill that is made from 1/4 inch plate steel. we havent used it in years and I dont trust the homemade gas ports, but what I was thinking is making my own refractory cement with clay wood ash and sand. anway making a trench forge out of it amd using the existing gas pipe for the tuyere just drilling put the ports a little wider for better airflow. I would have to cut out the side to get the stock into it. should I cut out both sides of it like tim lively's forges. I have decided to use charcoal because of the advice yall have given me on trench forges and the availability. also what I have read is that bottom blast is good for forging but not great for forge welding. So what I was thinking is maybe putting a pipe in from the back and just alternating the airflow depending on what Im doing. I need some advice on that please. Also please excuse any typos I try to go back and proof read but I have big thumbs and a small phone haha.

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Been forge welding about 36 years now using a bottom blast forge and know a ton of folks who do it that way including Master Smiths that have taught at the ABS school.

My suggestion is to get pounding and stop trying to overthink stuff.  As you go along you can start planning your *next* forge to cover what you feel the problems with the current one are.

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thanks guys Thomas you are absolutly correct I overthink alot of things haha, my bad. I will be home early in the morning so after I finish my regular chores I will start on building the forge and let yall know. thanks for having patience with a newbie. 

As a side note to Charles I just drove through your town

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UWhy the heck didn't you stop in for a glass of tea? I would have stopped mowing to visit.

some have housed old push mower decks, boxes of dirt, antiques, comertial units and fabricated ones.

 

 

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Haha I would have but I didnt realize until I was through it that it was where you lived. But who knows with the way my work is going I may be in Oklahoma off and on for awhile

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allrighty then sorry I havent been on much yall they had me busy on my off week. gotta live the oilfield... I need a raise haha. Anyway I did find time to get most of my honey do list done and got the forge built. I didnt cut holes in both sides I figure if I need to I can always do that later. Im back out in West Texas for a week but when I get back the homemade refractory cement should be cured. I used clay, sand, wood ash and perlite. I also embedded some volcanic rock in the sides to help reflect the heat. I dont know how well it will work but it sounded like a good idea haha. anyway you cant see the holes in tuyere but i promise they are there about every half inch give or take. Im gonna try and rig up a homemade blower from the diagram that i posted. I will have to do some tweaking to get it to work with mine but I think it can be done. Anyway let me know what yall think!!!!

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I've built a number of forges just using the adobe  you can dig out of the yard.  Smooth sides work much better as you don't "run into problems" pushing stock into the forge; but next time you reline you can correct that---it will just be much sooner than if you hadn't made the sides rough.  The rock doesn't add anything to the efficiency of the forge.

I didn't see a blower I did see a bellows.  Box bellows  work very well if made right.

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yeah thats my bad I put blower instead of bellows. And noted when I reline it I will most definetly take the rocks out. Thanks for the awesome advice as always. I cant hardly wait to get back home and try it out!!!

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