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I Forge Iron

Getting my lever Rivet forge lit..


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This has been 15 months coming.... I'm sad to say, i've yet to light up my rivet forge or big buffalo forge I plan on hooking up in my forge room once i get it ready. After 15 months, I've finally had a chance to light it up. I've spent practically every weekend the last 3 years working at my sisters and brothers houses....  Anyways, I have bituminous coal, and couldn't get the rivet forge going.  I never had a hard time in class with the same coal, but we used coke to start it. 

I'm thinking I need some bricks, so the fire can be deeper, and some news paper. I was using napkins and kindling all while 3 people who've never even lit a forge where trying to  tell me what to do (i wanted to use their heads as anvils)... So i only spent about 30 minutes trying to get it going.  I was wondering if lump charcoal is easier to light?  I could bring some up,  get the fire going with that and as my coal turns to coke us that.   




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I usually just use a mapp gas hand torch. :ph34r:

When I do start it using kindling, usually just use some paper balled up to about fist size, or cardboard ripped into strips and balled up and sometimes some kindling wood on top of that. Put that down in the bottom and lightly pile coal around and on it then light it and slowly bring up the air. As it gets going add more coal around and on it. 

You could use a little lump charcoal in the center with coal around it just to get it started then add coal from there. My buddy does that to start his anthracite coal. 

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I usually use Kraft paper crumpled into a nest, mostly bags from the grocery store (it burns longer than news paper) with some pellets for wood stoves. Then put coke from prior fires around the edge of the ring. Light it around the edges with a soft air blast. One mistake when lighting the fire is too much air till the coke starts to burn. Only takes me a few minutes to have the fire going hot enough to rake green coal around the edges to start coking up.

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Cut cardboard into strips about 2-3 inches wide and roll into a circle about 3-4 inches in diameter. Light a piece of paper, put the circle of cardboard on top, and then add fine coal or small lumps of coal about the size of marbles.  The paper starts the cardboard, and the cardboard starts the coal. A double hand full of coal is all you need as you want it burning before you add more. 

Method two is to gather up a bunch of sticks or kindling and build a fire a boy scout would be proud of. Then add coal to the hot fire and embers. Double hand full at a time until you get the coal going.  Always keep a small hole 1 inch diameter in the top of the coal to let fire escape and burn the smoke (think volcano).

Do not get excited, it is not a race. It is all about getting enough heat under the coal in order to get it to burning.  Once burning add more coal and more air until you have a fireball about 4-6 inches in diameter. You should have more coal on top of that so it will coke up and replace the fuel consumed by the fire.

fire drawing.jpg

Bottom blast

fire drawing sb.jpg

Side blast.

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8 hours ago, Glenn said:

Cut cardboard into strips about 2-3 inches wide and roll into a circle about 3-4 inches in diameter.

To really get fancy, secure the "barrel" end and lightly dip in wax. You can premake these and have them on hand.

Thanks Glenn. Getting me thinking about old boyscout/survival ideas. ;) Of course the scout ones were smaller. 

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This is how I light my fire...

Roll 2 sheets of newspaper into a doughnut.

Poke a hole in the middle.

Light the center and place in firepot.

Add kindling to make a nice little campfire.

Slowly add coal or coke around the edges of the paper, keeping a chimney/volcano in the center.

Only a little air is needed, too much will cool and/or blow out your fire.

When coal/coke starts burning, add more on top and add air to get your forge fire ready.


In the blacksmith circles that I move in... all types of lighter fluid and gas torches are a no no.

We take pride in starting our fire with only 1 match (or flint and steel).

Don't let anyone see it if you have to go for a second match.

They will not let you forget it and you will hear about it all day.

Here to help,


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I can and have started fires with a bow and drill,striker and steel, magnifying glasses but I prefer to use the time and energy to work steel. There's no difference to me between using a match, lighter, or torch. I agree it is a skill that should be learned, but fire is a tool,and I use it like one. It's good to know as many ways as possible to get a fire going just like draw filing a knife is a good skill to have, but I would prefer to use a belt grinder. Just my two cents worth.



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Me too. I periodically use a bow and drill just to keep in practice but not for a forge fire. If I don't use the torch I loosely wad up a piece of paper bag and light it and put a couple of small pieces of charcoal on and around it with the air barely on till the charcoal catches good and then I put a few scoops of charcoal on and turn the air up some more and get going. 


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