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Lupercal

My first forge

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Hello again everyone! I've been learning a lot from these forums and everyone has been great so far. I think I'm ready to attempt making my first forge. Its not exactly what I want but I live in city limits and hope to move in the relatively near future so u opted to build convenient over desire. I've read must be 2 dozen threads on here alone but still feel I'm just grasping at the concepts so consider this a wide open invitation for constructive criticism as I wont he starting construction until i see some green lights from you guys. So heres the plan:

I think the JABOD is the best foundation for me right now as good red clay is abundant for me to work with. I've got a 4 inch deep, 24 inch diameter galvanized steel pan I plan to line with that clay about 2 inches thick and sloping down into the tuyere. 

The tuyere will be a 1.5 inch hole drilled out of the bottom into a likewise diameter steel pipe that T sections off for the airflow to come in from the side and the debris to fall straight down. 

I've seen a lot of folks mention kitty litter instead of clay but is one better than the other or is it just availability?

I'm not 100% sure i used the correct terms anand please forgive spelling errors as this was typed on my phone. I look forward to hearing from you!

PS. I finally updated my profile to include location!

 

Link to a tub that is close to the one I'm looking at. 

16.5 x 16.5 x 7.5 inches and holds 3 gallons

image.png

 

forge 01.jpg

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Coal or charcoal? If charcoal go with a side blast tuyere. You will use 2/3s less fuel from my experience.

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Plain cheap kitty litter generally IS clay and since townies/suburbanites seem to have issues going to dig their own...(Best clay bed I've ever found was on the south side of Columbus OH inside city limits...)

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1 hour ago, Laynne said:

Coal or charcoal? If charcoal go with a side blast tuyere. You will use 2/3s less fuel from my experience.

Charcoal. I'd prefer coal but see nowhere I cacan get it for less than $1.25 lb and that's out of my budget right now. So instead im going to set up a charcoal kiln at my parents house since they live out in the country. Is this what you're suggesting?

 

forge 02 .jpg

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Yes it is. Charles Stevens has a couple of threads explaining the side blast. I started with a bottom blast fire pot that was my grandfather's. I couldn't make charcoal fast enough. My current setup is patterned after Charles jabod Mark III. I now have about 250 gallons of charcoal stored.

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Thanks! So no issues with using the galvanized pan as a base? I didnt expect there to be hence why I'd went with it but want to be certain before buying it. It's just the 4$ it costs is way less than what id spend on wood to make it

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Not if you have a couple inches of clay between it and the fire. don't mix the clay into mud and plaster it in, just add enough moisture you can ram it hard with a wooden mallet, ball bat on end, etc. 2-3 pts sand to 1 pt clay is a good mix. It'll last longer and not shrink check when it dries.

Frosty The Lucky. 

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@Charles R. Stevensevery thread I've posted (and quite a few that I've read) has pointed to you for information. I'd love some advice on measurements especially on tuyere pipe diameter, location etc. The things an amateur like me wouldn't know to maximize the use of my charcoal. 

 

@Frosty Thanks! I thought I was supposed to make it into like a putty so I'm glad you mentioned that! 

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I hate to have to be the one to let you in on this dark secret but Charles isn't reading every post on the site waiting to come answer your questions. I'm afraid you'll have to search out his threads and read them before asking him questions. He's not only very knowledgeable professional blacksmith farrier he's a great guy who loves helping folks but YOU have to show some effort. Read the threads so you have an idea of what a good question is and a chance of understanding the answers.

Frosty The Lucky. 

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Charcoal likes 3/4-1” ID tuyere angled slightly down tord the fire. 3-4” from the top of the tuyere to the top of the hearth generaly the bowl can be round, half round or trench shaped in the case of a bowl, 8” round with a 4” radius or a trench 4x8” works well. 

That’s most of what I have learned condinced into 3 articles.

 

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@Charles R. Stevens thank you! Your Jabod threads were where a lot of my info came from but i feel even after about 3 reads I'm still picking up new things out of them I missed previously, but i really appreciate the measurements because I read your brief history of sideblasts atleast 5 times and feel I'm too new to the hobby to understand that chart! That's exactly what I needed. 

Sorry if I came across as just begging for info, I'm just not certain how to articulate my questions just yet! Heck, before reading that brief history I didnt even know what a tuyere was, I just called it the airhole like uncultured swine.

Reviewing your jabod articles, brings 2 specific questions to mind though. The first is clarification in something frosty said earlier about not saturating the clay too much. The clay in your photos looks quite wet and sculpted (hence why i thought that i was supposed to essentially make putty out of it) am I thinking too far in extremes? Meaning did i go from planning to use too much water to too little in my mix.

2nd, i notice in all your build photos you have a few fire bricks stacked on one side of the fire. Is this necessary or does it serve a specific purpose?

 (bonus question) would building a "hood " into my forge over the heat source help in charcoal efficiency?

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The clay was as it came from the ground exept for a mist with a spray bottle to wet it so I could smoth it a bit. Not unlike a poster using a wet sponge. Otherwise it was all hammers in with a mallet like you tamp dirt back into a hole.

the bricks allow one to “bank” the charcoal. In a coal forge one banks unburnt fuel up around the burning coal. This dose twomthings, cokes the new fuel and mounds the burning fuel up over the hot spot. Now this works with coal because it doesn’t like to burn with out blast and the fire doesn’t spread much, but if you do this with charcoal the fire spreads and all the fuel is alight. So the brick is used to contain and shape the fuel pile so it can be mounded up over the stock with out waisting it. It helps with your fuel conservation.

now on the subject of bricks and banks, banks can be sculpted of clay/adobe mud note the mounds that look like they were cast in a mixing bowl and cut in two in the picture. Alternately the boys in the JAPOBForge threads show that if you have a bunch of bricks the whole forge can be made up of stacked bricks. Bricks being fired clay. On that note if you use clay it will vitrify around your fire. 

Now remember I used clay because that was what came out of the fence post hole I dug. 

If buy a hood you mean building an oven with mud or brick (a furnace) it can help especialy if you are struggling with welding heat due to a small air supply and a larg piece of stock. If you are talking about a hood like a chimney it can increase draught but if it dose it will increase your fuel consumption. Glenn talks about this phenomenon in his turbocharged 55 forge thread.   Now I am not saying wind guards and smoke hoods are bad, they aren’t, at all but in this particular instance you can generate enugh draft to do with out air blast. 

We all have to learn some how, I read a lot of threads, books both old and new, asked questions and experimented. So i have been where you are. I don’t mind you asking questions, one it clarifies things for you and others who read this, two it improves the answeres I give the next guy and lastly it pays forward the help I got from others (some we know and love like Glenn, Thomas, Jerry and Steve and others whose names I don’t remember off the top of my head, wile others are no longer with us).  

As to the chart, that is for coal with a strong blast, charcoal seems to get hot faster, thus closer to the blast. That means a lower bowl. Atleast in a side blast, in a bottom blast the opposite is true and a deeper bowl is needed.

A note on Jerryes adobe recipe, if you but a hand full of your dirt in a jar and add some water you can shake it up and let it sit for a day. The sand will settle to the bottom, silt tinnthe middle and clay on top. Now you can see how much clay and sand is in the mix. We need  atleast 10% to get barely moist soil to tamp and 30% to make good adobe bricks (may need straw to control cracking in some clays). 

 

 

Last I appreciate you asking questions on the open forum, not that I mind being IMd, it’s just that every one gets to benefit from my answers (even folks coming here in the future) and it opens my answers to coment. I am not perfect and my spelling often contributes to everyone’s joviality.

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I cannot say thank you enough! You cleared up a lot of things for me and answered all of my questions perfectly! I'm going to get started today and post pictures.

 the hood i referred to adding was that of a furnace style vs a chimney

Additionally, i'm aware the clay will vitrify over time but im assuming this can be remedied by cleaning and replacing the clay? 

One more question. I'm on my way to see if my local tractor supply can have rice coal shipped in for me since I'm 90% certain I saw you say that would work well and at 6$ for 40lbs would be far more readily available than making charcoal once a month at my parents place. That said, what would be best if I wanted to be able to interchange between coal and charcoal? Side or bottom blast? And is that even a good idea (provided I stored and used them separately?)

 

 

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You do know that the picture under your name has so much wrong about it it's hard to look at!

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18 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

You do know that the picture under your name has so much wrong about it it's hard to look at!

I've noticed more and more wrong with it as I learn but i still like the image haha

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New question as well, can i use galvanized pipe for the tuyere? I thought it put off fumes but I cant find anything else... if not what are my alternatives?

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 So are you talking side blast or bottom blast? ( different size pipes for each so alternatives is a little dependant on that) since you mentioned either earlier.

The galvanizing can be stripped off with either a soak in vinegar (could take longer) or muriatic acid/ water solution (! Use appropriate PPE!), then neutralized in baking soda/ water solution. Might be harder to remove if it's thicker hot dip galvanizing.  

Alternatives are to find black pipe or uncoated pipe. Black pipe should be easy to source at big box stores. Shouldnt be too hard to find scrounging as well. 

If for 2" pipe for a bottom blast, i have found blackpipe and fittings for a T that size at home depot or at local restores on occasions (usually way cheaper). Exhaust pipe could work for a bottom blast as well. 

 

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"I've noticed more and more wrong with it as I learn but i still like the image haha"

I still like the first Conan movie even though I *know* swords (and that sword) were not made that way.

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Thanks for the response about the pipe! Glad to know the zinc can be stripped off. Anyone care to tackle the question of bottom vs side blast for both coal AND charcoal? I just found I cant buy coal by the bag but rather by the pallet at 6$ per bag. I figure 1600lbs of coal would keep the forge running for quite some time but in the off chance I cant get a shipment (and to work with until the first one arives) I'd like to be able to use charcoal as well if possible.

 

Note: sorry if I come across as though I'm flip flopping. I'm just trying to weigh all options before construction and asking questions as new info becomes available or brings concerns to my attention

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The problem with coal is it makes clinker and clinker sticks to vitrified clay like glue. If your going to use coal I suggest you make an adobe mix or a ramed earth mix. Some folks mix in ash to help. If you do use rubber gloves. 

 

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Well for the Tsc anthracite coal you'll need more and continuous air ( still able to be regulated of course). With charcoal less air blast. I think that coal would work better in a bottom blast but I believe JHCC had used it for a good while in a side blast jabod forge. Charcoal works well in a side blast and using it in a bottom blast is a little more wasteful on the fuel. 

For each fuel to be efficient in use they each need different depths of fire pot. There is no "one best" forge for both fuels. 

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I definately understand there isnt a "one forge to rule them all" haha, just trying to get the most bang for my buck. Technically I think considering my location gas is the smart option but it's not what I want to do. Part of the allure to blacksmith for me is stoking the coals.

I'd seen some videos of the washtub forge where they used ash in the mix, that's explains why! 

What I'm seeing is. and please by all means correct me if I'm wrong, is to pick the design based on the fuel I'll use most often (with the exception of making my bowl using the Adobe/ash to compensate for coal one way or the other). I can use charcoal in a bottom blast and coal in a side blast just not at full efficiency respectively. So if coal is more readily available build bottom blast and if its charcoal build side.

As always im super grateful for your quick and informative replies!

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Well, side-blast has the distinct advantages of being both easier to build and easier to keep clean. In both side-blast and the bottom-blast, the clinker collects at the bottom of the fire. In a bottom-blast, that blocks off the air flow. In a side-blast, it just collects underneath, waiting to be hooked out.

I’ve used a side-blast (both JABOD and conventional) with bituminous (regular smithing coal), anthracite, and some mystery coal a neighbor gave me. (Others have had good luck with charcoal in a side-blast; I haven’t tried it myself.) If you have a strong air supply and a way to regulate it, any will work (although the bituminous is my favorite, when I can get it).

I’ve also used both anthracite and bituminous in a bottom blast. Clinker blocking the airflow was always a pain. 

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Hi Lupercal

Might I suggest you contact your local Blacksmithing group , they can point you in the right direction on constructing your " first " ( of many :) ) forge .

30 seconds down the rabbit hole of searching IFI & I found this .....

 https://www.iforgeiron.com/forum/29-philip-simmons-artist-blacksmith-guild-of-south-carolina/

Dale Russell

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Thanks again everyone, and thanks Dale, searching for a local blacksmithing guild is something that somehow completely skipped in thought. I'd like to announce side blast charcoal it is! I was just informed a friend of mine has a large amount of land, wood, scrap and metal drums for me to set up charcoal kilns and offered the use of it all so fuel problem solved! I'll be starting work on it all next week!

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