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Planning to use ceramic fibre wool (biodegradable, withstands up to 1200C) and dense commercial castable (1600C) to hold temperatures up to 1500C.

How thick should I make each layer? Would a 20-gal drum with 11-inch diameter be too small to hold these kinds of temperatures, assuming I want a decent crucible of at least 1 litre capacity? I was thinking I could engineer a design that allows the crucible to peak over the top when the lid opens, so less space is required around either side of the crucible when picking it up.

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What and what size material do you plan on forging?

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Cast iron, possibly stainless steel (although I would do neither as of this moment with so little experience, and plan to work my way up to them eventually).

A reasonable size, about a litre. Any more cast iron and I would make a cupola.

Would creating custom, long, thin crucibles help? (From the leftover dense refractory). These would better occupy the elongated shape of the 20-gal barrel.

If this is too little space, could anyone recommend any better containers to use, and where to get them? I've heard of beer kegs, 50-gals, vacuum cleaner basins, etc.

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one does not make home made crucibles for iron work, never out of refractory

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