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TurkeyNeckForge

My First Forge - JABOD

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I’ve been interested in blacksmithing for a number of years. But having no welding experience I figured a forge was out of the question unless I shelled out some serious coin. 

Happily, I found this forum and the JABOD forge. Heck, even I can slap some boards together and shovel up some dirt. So I did. 

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This is just some scrap plywood and leftovers I had around the farm. The dimensions are:

24”x24” box, 9” tall

The hole for the tuyere is at 4 1/2 inches on the side. Leaving 4 inches above and below for dirt and/or brick.

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I made the trench 4 inches wide and 9 inches long with sloped edges. 

I used and old air mattress pump for the air source.  It has a 3/4” ball valve to control the air flow which works very well.

I was able to heat up some rebar and some 3/8” mild steel just fine. I even overcooked the rebar and got a few sparklers before it crumbled apart. I was glad to see that I could get it so hot with such a simple forge. Luckily I figured out the correct forging heat before I started playing with the mild steel that I actually paid $ for. 

The 9” sides are too high I think. I needed to push the stock in at an angle to hit the hot part of the fire. It would be hard to heat the middle of a bar with this setup right now. I think I’m going to cut down one of the sides so it’s easier to work with. Either that or I’ll need to raise the bowl up higher somehow. I’m sure there will be a version 2 in the near future. 

Thank you all for sharing your ideas and knowledge. I never thought I would be able to do this in my own back yard. I know I’m just recreating a tried and true design here, but I wanted to share my experience with you all as a thanks.

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First of all, welcome to IFI! If you haven't yet, please READ THIS FIRST!!!

Excellent first build; well done. 

12 minutes ago, TurkeyNeckForge said:

The 9” sides are too high I think. [...] I think I’m going to cut down one of the sides so it’s easier to work with. Either that or I’ll need to raise the bowl up higher somehow.

I would suggest tamping down the dirt that's already there (perhaps adding a bit more here and there to make it flat and level), and then cutting a notch in the front edge. That will give you a nice lip to keep things from dribbling over the edge. A deep bowl is good for charcoal as well (which you seem to be using); I wouldn't do anything to make it more shallow.

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John beat me to it but yeah,cut a notch on either end of the wood where you lay the stock in the fire, v out the filler and you'll have a nice pass through to heat the longer pieces.

 

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Thanks guys I’ll give that a shot instead of cutting the whole side down. A slot should do the trick just fine.

Ya know, I underestimated just how much dirt I would need to fill up the box. I was so excited to start forging I just piled the bricks and started a fire.  Once I get a chance I’m going to fill it up more and tamp it down better. 

I’m just tickled pink that I was able to hammer on some hot iron.

I’ve read the rules thread and have been using the google search method a lot to get ideas. I’m also planning on attempting the abana controlled hand forging lessons they have on the website. There are so many great resources out there to learn blacksmithing. 

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It’s great to see you benefiting from our crazy ideas. A notch on each side will work well. The mark I I notched and dug down until I got a working profile

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Two more fires later and I have 3 fire rake things to show for it. Two made from 3/8 round stock and one from some rebar.

Each fire I changed the forge around and I’m sure the 4th and 5th and Nth one I’ll change it around too.

Today I had a brick on the bottom of the trench with a brick on one side and a split brick on either side of the tuyere. I cut a slot where the stock rests off the edge and it was able to heat what I wanted pretty well. It’s certainly not perfect but it’s something. 

I found that I kept digging into the ends of the trench too much and ended up with a bowl of dirt a few hours in. There was also a buildup of clay/clinker above the tuyere which I think was starting to mess up the airflow. A solid brick sitting above the tuyere seemed to have worked better than the dirt in between a split in half brick. 

I can tell that I’m going to want to keep going with blacksmithing as a hobby or even a side gig if I get good enough. I guess the question is:  where do I go from here?

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Thanks Daswulf!  I took me a few tries to get the circle to actually look like a circle, but I'm happy with them.

It is hard to decide when to stop fiddling with it.

I think I've seen that people do use coal with these jabod forges.  Would making a bowl out of fire brick work well enough?  Or would it stick like it does to clay/dirt?  There is a coal yard, and a tractor supply real close by that I could grab some coal for cheaper than charcoal.  Charcoal has been pretty easy to work with so far, but I'm a cheapskate at heart so less $$ for more lbs of fuel really gets me interested.

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TSC coal is anthracite, not suggested for folks getting started as it's harder to manage.  Does the coal yard stock a good bituminous coal?

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3 hours ago, TurkeyNeckForge said:

Would making a bowl out of fire brick work well enough? 

Kinda. See the thread on the Mark III JABOD.

2 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

TSC coal is anthracite, not suggested for folks getting started as it's harder to manage.  Does the coal yard stock a good bituminous coal?

I've used TSC anthracite in both rice and nut versions: rice is easier to light; nut makes a better fire. Bituminous is better than both, and if the coal yard stocks it, go for that.

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Yes it looks like I've got a good lead on bituminous coal pretty close by.  Going to make a trip out there in the near future.

The Mark III JABOD with the bricks looks like it has a more stable fire pot.  I'm going to try and shape mine like that next time I get to fire things up.  I need to take some time and get another mount for my anvil first.  The stump I was using was a little rotty in the middle, and when I picked it up to move it back in the barn the whole inside of the stump fell out onto the ground!  Serves me right, I was using the stump the anvil came with, which was sitting in the bottom of someone else's barn for who knows how long...

I've also stumbled onto a local blacksmithing group in Williams Grove, PA that I am going to try and meet up with.  

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Remember to test the coal before buying a ton of it---a smith I know out here once was offered tons of coal free; he picked it up and it was so bad he's using it for driveway pothole fill and path gravel...

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Well, I found out about the place from the PA Artist Blacksmith Association facebook page today.  I'm hoping they're a valid resource for such things :)

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