BrotnarOx

Grill n' Sand charcoal forge

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Hi all,

 

This is my first attempt at a charcoal forge and regardless of how much I have read on various website, I still feel completely clueless as to whether I am doing things right. I am living in Milwaukee for the summer so I wanted something relatively small so I could keep it on my porch. My solution is a grill that I cut a hole into and used a 1" black iron pipe as the tuyere. The grill is filled with sand and the fire pot is carved in that. I put some refractory cement on the bottom of the grill to try and protect it a bit. I think the fire pot may need to be made a bit wider? 

The air is supplied by a shop vac which is too much at full blast so I still need to make a way to control the air flow. Probably just a valve for now but I might open it up and try to make it adjustable on the electronics. 

Let me know what you guys think!

 

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Set the top of the dirt about 4" from the top of the tuyere pipe. The idea is to run the stock level threw the heart of the fire. For now you can simply leave a gap between the blower and the tuyere to control the fire. If you are getting more than a few fire fleas you probably have to much air. 

The nice thing about sand and dirt is it's easy to reshape and adjust the fire bowl

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Let's see, you've made a relatively inexpensive charcoal forge, you are using wood charcoal (not briquettes), you've successfully heated the steel and formed it into a passable rake, and you listed your location with your first post. Congratulations, you're off to a great start. Now it's time to start refining the process. As Charles said above, a deeper firepot will serve you better and reducing the pressure of the airflow will also help. Think volume more than pressure. Maybe a bathroom exhaust fan or hair dryer set on low.

Looking forward to seeing your progress.

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Break up your charcoal in to walnut size chunks. Deeper fire as stated above. I would add an ash trap when you build the air gate. 

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Two good options for a low-cost valve are:

@Jasent's clever re-purposing of a conduit fitting:

and the pallet-wood gate valve on my own JABOD:

 

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if possible I would change out your pipe to as large as you can. With charcoal you want low pressure and high flow. I used 2" with mine and a hair dryer on low with the above mentioned air gate from an electrical JB junction box. I cut a little over half the lip off the lid to allow it to swing open hinging on one screw. 

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I love it. Can you improve it? Sure thing but don't let that stop you from using it as much as you can. 

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I don't know if you've read it but Charles Stevens has an excellent, EXCELLENT thread, heck a tutorial, on this very thing at the top of this particular forum.

I bet I've read it through 6-8 times as I plan my own box of dirt...with a few modifications.  Even doing a Google search will lead to this thread & I have yet to find anything on an internet search or YouTube that will have more information on the very thing you are making, than that thread mentioned. 

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I'd mix the sand with cheap all clay kitty litter and a little water to get a more stable material to form the firepot from.  Tip: use unused kitty litter!

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Welcome aboard, glad to have you. While you're hitting yard, garage, etc. sales looking for useful tools like smooth faced hammers around 2lbs. to get started pick up one of those old blow driers you see most everywhere. They may WANT $5.00 but the'll take a buck or two or include it with something else you buy. 

Other things to keep an eye open for are punches, chisels, Allen wrenches, etc., they're excellent stock for making tools. I don't HAVE to tell you to watch for blacksmithing tools do I? :ph34r:

Frosty The Lucky.

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3/4"-1" tuyere pipes are clasic for charcoal, this gets you a 6" hot spot. This is also historic. A larger hot spot requires multiple tuyere. 

as this is a side blast forg an ash dump is not a thing. They are used in bottom blast forges. The first box of dirt works at 3" but it has a 1/2 black pipe tuyere. My new one works at about 4" with a 3/4" black pipe tuyere. 

The addition of clay will form a more stable bowl but our English members clasicly just use ash and clinker, reforming the bowl every morning with a new fire. This said charcoal benefits from the adittinal structure as the fire tends to grow as the bowl widens, this the hot spot dosnt. Coal dosnt do so. 

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Hey everyone, Thanks for all of the suggestions!

Looks like I got a lot of things to try out! I really like @Jasent's air gate so I think I will try to do something similar. I'll also look into getting some clay to use for the bowl and get the shape right.

I'll post some more pictures as I get everything together!

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Slowly but surely, I am making progress. Made a bit of a valve control with PVC, still too much air but it was better than before. Unfortunately couldn't find anything like what Jasent had. Any recommendations for lubricating the PVC Valve? I was told to not use oils such as WD-40. Still need to add clay to the fire bowl to make it more rigid. Also need to make a bit more of a cut in the body to get the tuyere deeper. Overall I feel like I am making progress. Thanks for all of your help everyone!

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Take a look at the "Tim Lively Washtub Forge" for some ideas about mounding up the sides and leaving a trough in the middle

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11 hours ago, BrotnarOx said:

Slowly but surely, I am making progress. Made a bit of a valve control with PVC, still too much air but it was better than before. Unfortunately couldn't find anything like what Jasent had. Any recommendations for lubricating the PVC Valve? I was told to not use oils such as WD-40. Still need to add clay to the fire bowl to make it more rigid. Also need to make a bit more of a cut in the body to get the tuyere deeper. Overall I feel like I am making progress. Thanks for all of your help everyone!

 

Walmart has an inflatable pool/air mattress pump.  They are about $12 and come with little nozzles with different size holes which can regulate airflow.  Those little nozzles plug nicely into a vacuum hose.  The pump has an on-off switch. If you look at one of the first pictures in Charles Stephens' JABOD thread you can see one of those little pumps I'm talking about on the back of his forge. He regulates it with a ball valve.  You could probably rig it up with your pvc/valve.

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