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I have been wanting to try and make my own steel for a while. I have done quite a bit of research and I have no idea what I'm doing. As it stands now, my plan is to build a big 'ol tube out of bricks (fire or otherwise) and cover it in clay-rich mud. Let it dry for a day. Burn a small fire in it for a day. Then the next day load it with coal and have a big fire.

 

Here is where my first question comes in. Would it be possible to use house coal instead of charcoal? J get it for free from a guy who converted his house over to natural gas instead of coal. Anyways it gets hot and it's free. So do you have to your charcoal or will house coal work. Next question is do you need to use iron or I know you can get on eBay but would it be easier to use dill spirals from my local machine shop? Or would it just burn and become garbage?

 

Then after loading in fuel and something ferrous into the furnace and blowing in there with a shop vac. Periodically tapping for slag and peaking in there to see if it's white hot I will bust the thing up and hopefully pull out a bloom!

 

Any answers to my questions, as well as any additional info, Is greatly appreciated. I have no idea how long to burn, how often to tap the slag, how much coal and iron to add. Every lite bit helps.

-thanks

 

(P.S. sorry for writing a novel. But it's a lot to go over)

 

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Use your favorite search engine and do this search without the brackets (bloomery site:iforgeiron.com) you will get 261 hits for you to go over and every question has been covered.

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Well, I assume you are talking about Bloom iron and not steel.   If you google “ How to make bloom iron “ you’ll find plenty of info and videos. There’s a neat DVD called “From Ore to Axe” by Lee Sauder, Steve Mankowski, and Shel Browder.  Steve and Shel are both now retired blacksmiths from Colonial Williamsburg and Lee is known worldwide for his research and production of bloom iron. In the DVD, they make an axe starting with iron ore, transitioning to bloom iron, forging the axe, inserting a steel cutting edge and Shel finally chops a tree.  

One other thing - Lee Sauder has a website that includes pages of information including how to make a bloomery.   I watched the smiths at colonial Williamsburg make bloom iron a few years ago.  Interesting process.  

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1 hour ago, Fuzzy K said:

I have done quite a bit of research and I have no idea what I'm doing.

Do you know what "Contradiction in terms" means? Were you to actually do, "quite a bit of research," we'd be asking you questions to see if you really had and how much.

From your post it's hard to imagine your research consisted of more than a Youtube video or two. However, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and ask you a question, perhaps you actually have done a little reading. 

What PPE will you need to do this safely?

Frosty The Lucky.

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Do you have any plans for removing the sulfur form the coal? Your research also seems to have missed that fact that the entire purpose of a bloomery is  for making iron from ore, and where did you get the idea you need steel swarf to make bloomery steel? (yes a bloomery can make steel if you're careful)

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Coal was used in the indirect method of making wrought iron from ore; instead of the Direct, Bloomery, method. There was great trouble with it as even when coked the sulfur content tended to degrade the iron produced.  Charcoal is the gold standard for fuel and NOT briquettes, Charcoal!

I strongly suggest you start by following the "fool proof bloomery" plans and instructions provided in Rehder's "The Mastery and Uses of Fire in Antiquity" in an appendix.

Bloomeries convert ore to iron---of various carbon contents---you need iron ore NOT STEEL or CAST IRON; ORE! I'm not familiar with the Geology in your area; but if it was glaciated there may be magnetite in stream deposits you can "mine" by dragging a magnet. (Note that the "black sand" of gold panning is generally magnetite too.)

As to how long and how much; could you give me accurate information on how long my vehicle can go between fueling and how much fuel I should put into it?  Why not?  (Or: it depends on totally on how it's built and run. If you research, several places published the ore to charcoal ratio they used and some even the air flow they used and how much wrought iron was produced.)

DO NOT EXPECT MASSIVE SUCCESS THE FIRST TIMES YOU TRY IT!

 

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Thanks guys. I have tried to put in the research and I have spent a few hours on it but most of the videos I found to talk you through it they just show the progress vaguely. As far as ppe is concerned I was going to wear a welders hat, a respirator, a welders jacket, my blacksmith's apron and welding gloves.

I suppose I need all the help I can get so I will make some charcoal(lots of charcoal) and there is a creek that runs through town so I guess I will try to run a magnet along the bottom and see what happens.

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Watching videos IS NOT RESEARCH!  I watched one by Al Pendray regarding how he makes wootz and while it goes into some detail it is far from an instructional video. A person would already have to know what they're doing to pick up something they could use.

Go to the library, the internet isn't as useful to the beginner as it is to someone who already knows enough to sift through silly opinion for the real info.

Frosty The Lucky.

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48 minutes ago, Fuzzy K said:

As far as ppe is concerned I was going to wear a welders hat, a respirator, a welders jacket, my blacksmith's apron and welding gloves.

Don't neglect your feet.

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And a Fire extinguisher is allways a great idea as well.

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I have Steel toed leather boots.

My parents are ok with it and my grandpa will help me.

And I although I have read some articles about it I am ashamed to admit that the idea of going to a library never crossed my mind.:unsure:

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Nothing to be ashamed about, it's a matter of your age and the culture that's growing with you. 

Do NOT wear any synthetics they have a nasty habit of melting and deep frying your hide when they come in contact with hot objects. A respirator will have it's moments too. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Posted (edited)

A five gallon bucket of water is handy if a piece of slag or other hot metal finds its way inside your boots.

I wear  cuffs in my jeans. I learned the hard way to unroll my pants legs when forging.

Pnut (Mike) 

Edited by pnut

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For a good bit of information, do a google search for Lee Sauder. He has been doing this a long time and his website is a wealth of info.

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