Morke

Amount of fuel when deciding a forge?

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Hi all.
I'm yet to start in this amazing art. I'm addicted to all crafting arts and I was going to end here sooner or later.
I'm starting to think how to approach smithing and what kind of forge I would like to have, and the following question came up :
How much fuel do you usually use for every day protects like knives?
Both coal and /or gas?
Which one is more cost effective?
I ask this because I hate running out of gas when cooking and, I don't know why, gas forges give me the impression to run out of fuel very quickly.

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Not knowing where you are at makes it hard to judge Cost Efficiency, over 100 countries participate here each one (and for larger ones differing sections) will have different cost ratios.

In Southwestern USA, New Mexico, I expect to get a full 8 hours of teaching a class out of a BBQ grill sized propane bottle, I usually round it up to  about US$2 an hour for budgeting purposes.  Of course if you have a badly designed and built forge that number has NO application.  You are basically saying "How many gallons of Gasoline will it take me to drive 200 miles?  The answer is 0 for an electric car to 40 for a vehicle that gets 5 miles to the gallon.

Where I am at propane is easy to get and good smithing coal is hard to get so I don't use coal that often.

So DETAILS!!!!!!

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Go forge something and  then you will know.   We cant have any idea how efficient you work, and you wont either until you do it

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IForgeIron is visited by over 150 countries of the world each month so YOUR location is important. Find a fuel that is available in your area, cheap, and build a forge that uses that fuel.

Fuel is a consumable item. You can use only what you need or burn off your entire supply in a day or so, depending on how efficiently you use your forge. 

Gas needs a backup bottle for when you run out gas in bottle number one and do not want to run into town to have it refilled.  Solid fuel is visual and you know when you run low by looking at the fuel pile. One type forge not mentioned is induction or electrical. You have as much fuel as you need as long as the power lines are up and working. You can see exactly how much fuel you used when you get the power bill at the end of the month.

Each fuel contains just so many BTUs of heat. The metal does not care which fuel you use, just as long as it gets the metal as hot as you would like it to be when forging.

 

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How much fuel will I use in my car this week?   

You can't answer without more details. Is it a four cylinder, do I have to commute a long-distance, is my car in good running order? Same thing with how much fuel you'll use in your forge. First off location matters and the more experienced you become the quicker you can complete a given process so you use less fuel. We're not trying to be rude but details really do matter. 

Pnut

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Thank you all.

You are right, it's a very vague question. Should've known better. I do apologies. 

So, let me try to be more specific.

I'm from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I don't have issues getting neither coal nor propane tanks.

Converting to U.S. Dollars, the cost for both is as follows:

Coal - 1 KG (2.2 pounds) : 0.9 Dollars

Propane Tank - 45 KG tank (tall tank, i'm pretty sure its the 100 pounds tank (23.5 gallons) ) : 50 - 70 Dollars depending on the vendor 

Propane Tank - 10 KG tank (small tank, 20 pounds) : 10 - 15 dollars. (Yes, the small tank refill costs a lot less than the big one, don't know why)

 

What do I want to do and what do I don't want to do with smithing?

Well, let me start saying i'm a hobbyist. I love hobbies and I love crafting arts. I like woodworking and i'm starting to weld as well, and i'm pretty good at it. I've never forge anything, but I like knives and metal weapons in general, although i'm not even close to even try to forge a sword. But I do want to forge knives, both for myself and to give away as presents. I'm not planning to work as a blacksmith and I probably won't forge every day, mainly because I have to divide my time free time between other hobbies, but I'd love to be able to if I'm feeling like doing it.

What do I mean with "efficiency" ?

Well, tricky question.. Although money is very important, since i'm taking this as a possible new hobby, i'm more concerned about time and space. If forging a knife requires 40 kgs (88 pounds) of coal or 40kg of propane (20 gallons or so), propane is more practical, because 1 tank takes less space than 40 kg of coal, and this would still mean only one trip. One trip to get the coal or one trip to get the tank. Even better if a 45kg propane tank lasts more than a single knife. 

So I guess my question is, when compared in equal environments (everything else is the same, like, for example, the experience of the blacksmith or the quality of the forge), which forge would consume more when doing the same item, let's say a small simple knife?

 

I hope this clarifies my doubt. If not, please, let me know.

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16 minutes ago, Morke said:

I'm from Buenos Aires, Argentina

As far as which forge will consume more fuel when forging a knife, I use less coal than propane. However I have a hand cranked blower so when I'm at the anvil the forge is not using much fuel when the blower is not supplying air. My propane forge runs at full blast when at the anvil using more fuel than needed, unless I reduce the pressure to conserve fuel but that is an aggravation to me. When forging blades, I use coal then switch to propane for heat treating. Does that make any sense? For most general forging I use coal but my wife prefers propane so for us it's an individual choice. That's why I say you really need both.:)

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24 minutes ago, Irondragon Forge & Clay said:

 ...My propane forge runs at full blast when at the anvil using more fuel than needed...

Wouldn't it make sense to work multiple pieces at the same time? Grab one, hammer until too cold, put it back in the forge, grab the next one from the forge, and keep going through them in order?

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Hi Morke, welcome.

When choosing a type of fuel, there are other considerations besides cost. 

Coal (carbon de piedra) smokes ... and from what I remember the times I worked in Bs As that was a real issue. Much more for a hobby.

Coke is a pain to use on and off for small projects. 

Gas will cost more, yet will be quicker and cleaner to get started.

Quicker is relative to how the forges are built, a good commercial coal forge will be ready in 5 to 10 minutes. An amateur build gas forge may need more time to get up to temperature and be a pain to operate.

 You say you want to make a knife. When I never ever made a blade and never will, it is a small piece of steel that can get hot relatively quickly. If you want to forge a gate with scrolls and twists, you will need a large gas forge or stay with coal. Not to mention that if knifes is your thing, you will need a lot of grinding equipment besides the forge. 

If you intend to build your coal forge, avoid the brake drum forge. You will outgrow it far too quickly. 

Do you have neighbours that may complain about the smoke and noise? 

Where about in BsAs are you located?

Regards

Marc

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59 minutes ago, Marc1 said:

Hi Morke, welcome.

 

Marc, thank you for all the info.

I'm in South Buenos Aires city, in a low house neighborhood, with backyards, dogs, cats and so on. We have the usual angle grinder and other tools sounds from a car mechanic two houses behind ours, so noises are not uncommon, although I would only forge during weekends, so I don't think noise will be a problem here.

About the smoke, I have a backyard and everyone here makes argentinian BBQ in backyard grills. I know smoke smell is not the same at all, but i'm guessing it shouldn't be too much of a problem unless I start smoking everyone every day.

Regarding the DIY, if I was going for a coal forge, I would do it myself. For a propane forge...i'm not so sure. Gas scares me a bit and I prefer to buy gas related things so I know security won't be on me.
 

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So when their BBQ starts tasting like SULFUR SMOKE they won't be upset?   Coal smoke is not like charcoal smoke or wood smoke!

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Have you looked into a charcoal forge? Charcoal is relatively cleaner and easier to get. The forge will need some modifications but is as good as any other fuel. 

Looked up your "mercado libre" and there is heaps of stuff for sale. 

 

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Charcoal has been used for forging since the beginning. I'm not sure if lump charcoal is available or if you have put any thought into using charcoal as a primary fuel source but it's an option.  Since you live in a neighborhood making charcoal using a retort or kiln is probably out of the question.  Coals from a wood fire are the same as charcoal and you may be able to find a free source of wood from pallets or construction scraps. 

The way you describe efficiency charcoal is much less dense than coal but has about the same amount of BTUs per kilo so will take up much more room for the same amount of energy. That's the only drawback in using charcoal that I've found. It burns quickly and takes up more room to store than either coal or propane.

I try to use different fuels just in case I have trouble finding the fuel I prefer and also you may need to try them all to figure out which is the best for you.   

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.

Pnut

 

 

 

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Thank you.

Regarding noise, I've asked around neighbors and they are ok with it, or at least they will let me try. I've asked them to let me know as soon as they find it unsettling.

And regarding smoke, well, I can get charcoal or coke or even hard wood. Charcoal is around 0.3 $ dollars the kilo (2.2 pounds). That's 3 dollars for the 22 pound bag. Hardwood is a bit more. Coke is 0.9 dollars the 2.2 pounds.

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Are you talking about the little square briquettes for .3 dollars a kilo? Briquettes aren't very good for fuel. Hardwood lump charcoal is much better. You can make your own charcoal or build a fire and scoop coals out as needed. Can you get scrap wood like shipping pallets or construction scraps? If so you can make charcoal at home. I sometimes just scoop hot embers out of the burn barrel and dump them into the forge. 

Until you figure out what solid fuel works best for you I would suggest you build a jabod forge. You can find numerous threads in the solid fuel forge section. They are easy to build and easy to modify while you figure out what works best for you.

Pnut

 

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No, no, proper charcoal. In Argentina charcoal is cheap, more than hardwood for fuel. Thank you for the advice!

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Coal smoke is not going to be confused with barbecue smoke from coke by your neighbors.

It is difficult for gas to compete with coal on large projects. Gas and small go together nicely. If you want to make knives and swords, buying or building a gas forge probably works out better than for any other purpose, and there are lots of these forges discussed on this forum. If you want to bang out armor, go with coal.

Although ribbon burners may change that too :)

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As a point of reference; with a 250 cu inch forge (about 6" diameter, 8" deep), using a single Reil type burner (which has a .041 jet size), my forge would run for a weekend of demos on a 20 lb propane tank (small bbq tank).  I would guess about 8-12 hours (as someone up there already said).  

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