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Started forging again yesterday, first time after moving six months ago. I've been having trouble finding coal (especially cheap coal) up here in the great Northwest, so I figured, no problem, I'll just make charcoal.

Did a couple of burns, and made around 30 gallons, lot of alder, some maple, a little fir. Then I fired it up and started making staples to hold the anvil down, and by the time I got three made and a little keychain I burned through maybe seven gallons. Yikes. I know it's not the hardest of hardwoods, but still... Using a 55/brake disc forge, blower is a hair dryer on a rheostat, not using much air. Wetting the charcoal slowed it down a bit, but not much.

Any ideas why it's going so fast or how to fix it?  I know I'm an amateur, but this made me feel like a rookie.

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Have you tried narrowing the space in the fire pot to just what you really need to heat the workpiece? Charcoal fire will spread around to surrounding fuel more than coal. 

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Also: Do you have an old sewing machine foot switch so the blower turns OFF as soon as you remove the workpiece from the fire?

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Not yet, I had been thinking of lining it a touch to make more of a duck's nest, but I always heard charcoal likes a deeper fire, and I made this one for coal. Probably pick up a deeper brake dish in the near future. Could narrow it w firebrick or some such. No foot switch yet, but I keep the rheostat switch near the forge so I can wonk it to turn it off right before pulling steel out.

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Charcoal likes a side blast configuration. A deeper fire is just a matter of a couple of bricks on their side. Build the fire to suit the project at hand, big projects take a bigger fire, small projects take a smaller fire. 

If you make the fire box deeper still, you can put raw wood on the top so it will burn down to coals, and the coals will then become embers to the fire. Small pieces of raw wood work best. And do not overlook those pallets you see when searching for scrap steel in the alleys. They are good for fuel. 

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Bottom blast seems to need deeper fires wile a side blast seems to need a shallower one. As shallow as 1” above the tuyere in my latest experiments. I forged 6 hours and burned less than 5 gallons. Look at the mark III jabod forge. 

Charcoal works more effectlynif you treat it like a gas forge, only give it enough air to bring it up to forging temp. If you are welding, bring it to forging temp and then ad more air to reach welding temp. Running at welding temp all the time just eats the fuel.

 

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On 5/11/2018 at 1:58 PM, ThomasPowers said:

Also: Do you have an old sewing machine foot switch so the blower turns OFF as soon as you remove the workpiece from the fire?

Now that's a good idea. Thanks

 

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You can also setup a toggle switch connected to a bar that goes across the front of the fire..  You put the bar on it and the fan comes on.. you remove the metal from the fire and the fire shuts off.. No feet, no hands no waiting.. :) 

 

 

Fire bricks is a great way to adjust the fire narrower or wider depending on the size of stock..  

Charcoal likes a little taller fire because it does not pack down so does not trap heat in as well.. 

the way you get the taller fire and still minimize fuel use is to make it narrower but still as tall in proportion.. 

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