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Hey all! So I got some awesome advice regarding side blast forges ans have settled on a design for that (will post pics and updates later) but now I'm looking at bellows. I don't want to use a blower and would prefer a traditional bellows but havent really found any good info online about materials for making them. What are some alternatives to leather that I can use to make some large bellows for my furnace?

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I’m going to be a stinker word police, but first you speak of a side blast forge and later of a furnace. We all know what you mean, but if we don’t stick to strict word usage we all get goofed up. Forge and furnace are somewhat similar, in the sense that a punch, a drift and a splitter are similar. But yet, all very different. The above is meant as good spirited ribbing and nudging in the right direction.

Tightly woven canvas can be used, as well as oil cloth or vinyl covered material. However leather is less likely to be damaged by wayward sparks etc. Recently another smith posted about setting up even leather bellows in a way to shield it from danger.

Personally I think I’d make an Asian style box bellows that is a double acting piston. For myself it would be easier to source materials, cheaper, and easier for ME to build with my tools and skill sets. A couple folks here use the manual air pumps used to inflate the home air mattresses and rubber rafts. One Could even make one from a 5 gallon plastic bucket I’d imagine, as a matter of fact I think I might try it and document it. If it works I will share it.

Best,

Steve

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Not knowing where you are at makes it hard to make directed suggestions:

I used heavy duty tarpaulin material used to make wind wings for oil drilling rigs.  Used it for 20 years with never a patch on it and gave it away when I had to move the shop 1500 miles. One of the nice thing about a double lunged bellows is that you can pump the top section full and have a bit of time to do something else---switch hammers/tongs, swig you drink, etc; while it still feeds the fire.

The box bellows takes up much less room; but it does stop pushing air if you stop working it.

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I saw a guy on FB the other day, This Van de Manakker, make a bellows out of a trash bag. It was simple and looked like it would work fine.  I, like Thomas have used canvas, double lunged bellows, the ones I used worked great. Al

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Thanks! I'm liking the sound fo the Asian box bellows and need to look into that. In regards to my terminology, I think I'd better draw up my plans and post them here to know not only if my design will work but also what it's actually called haha.

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Yes, 

TP is correct, a proper double lung bellows has the advantage when working alone of behaving similar to a large hand cranked blower with the counter balanced handle: it will keep blowing , if wanted, when you stop manually actuating it. A box bellows, single lung bellows or even some dual single bellows require a helper to keep it going.

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Also with bellows you can over pressurize the blast air to clear dust from the tuyere pretty easily.. 

If you are making a blast furnace you for sure will need a lot more than a bellows or round the clock pumping..  Again words describe much more and allow for the same page understanding of what one is trying to make.. 

Lupercal, it's easy enough to just figure out what you are making..  Is it for making iron or is it for forging iron?   Pretty simple.. 

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