Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Recommended Posts

Hi, this is my first post, so I’m not quite sure if I’m doing this right...

I’ve worked in a coal fire for a little over a year, but I’ve figured out that if I buy wood, turn it into charcoal, and use that instead, I can run the forge for 10X cheaper. I just tacked a plate with holes drilled into it on top of the grate of my coal firepot, (that I welded together myself; not cast iron,) and I’m now using that. I’ll build a side draft or Whitlox design (V shaped firepot) soon, however it works for now. 

I decided to buy a bit of hardwood lump charcoal from the store just to start with, so that I know the charcoal has been made properly, to make sure my firepot works, and to tie me over until I get my charcoal retort made. I’ve been using it for about a week now, and I’ve realized that if I have the fire going for more than 4 hours, (give it take,) I’ll get these weird clumps of mineral looking things. I know that charcoal doesn’t produce clinkers, but that’s the best way to describe them. I have asked a friend of mine, and he told me he doesn’t know what they are, but suggested that they could be pieces of brick, which made sense at the time. I have since removed the bricks from around my firepot, (I had them there for extra depth when I used Anthracite,) but I still found some of the weird things when I cleaned the firepot out. I’m not concerned, I was just hoping to figure out what they are so I could use them for something rather than just throw them away. 

I did have a picture that I was going to put up, however it wouldn't upload... I'll put a YouTube link, here.

Thanks, Chris.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 63
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Welcome aboard... I always suggest reading this to get the best out of the forum.  READ THIS FIRST -    It is full of tips like editing your profile to show your location as so many answers depend upon knowing where in the world you are located. There are many other tips too, some will help in flying under the moderators radar.:) To upload pictures you need to resize them by 50% so the forum will accept them. Maybe someone who is using charcoal will have an idea about what the stuff is.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I get clinker formed from scale and dust as well as melted bricks and on one or two accessions stray hunks of limestone from the driveway (no ai have no clue) I get more when I make my own charcoal as it tends to be scrap that includes nails, and  dirt

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the tips, Irondragon. :) 

That makes sense, Charles. The grey stuff looks to me like melted and congealed iron oxide, but I still don’t know what the white could be. There weren’t any rocks around, and I had moved all of my bricks away, a while ago. I thought it could be ash, but how would it clump without moisture? The ashes were still warm when I had gone to clean the firepot out. 
Although it’s not really needed anymore, I’ll try to put a picture up, just for the practice. Haha! It worked! Thanks again, Irondragon! 

FF9EFBE3-4156-48D4-ABEB-23A012DDA0FA.jpeg

Link to post
Share on other sites

You may be looking at actual rocks that got included in the fuel.  Often, fuel material, coal, coke, lump charcoal is heaped up in a pile and then is scooped up with a front end loader to be loaded into the bagging machine.  If the operator isn't careful and if the bottom of the pile is being scooped up some dirt and rocks may be included with the fuel material.  I once had some coke that was about 5-10% limestone.  I picked it out as best I could when loading the forge.  I should have saved it and taken it back to the dealer and demanded an equivalent weight of coke since that is what I had paid for.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand." 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Everyone else summed up pretty much what it could be with the exception of silica from the charcoal itself but more than likely it's just dirt. 

Pnut

Link to post
Share on other sites

Can be hard to see any rocks as they are all covered with charcoal dust...Commercial charcoal can be pretty weird.  Home made only contains what YOU put in it.

As the Whitlox forge is a BAD design---why would you want to make a copy of it?  If you were building your own car; would you copy a Yugo or Lada?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris, I have nothing useful to add, except that I will keep an eye out for this kind of thing in my forge. I'm also making my own charcoal, so we'll have similar experiences. 

I will say that, had you not told us the story, I would have assumed those were rocks. 

Also, your name makes me smile. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, everyone. 
I've deduced that the weird things are likely either clumps of iron oxide, or rocks that were mixed in with the charcoal. 
I’ll see if I can find a topic on here about homemade charcoal, and report my findings, once I do a few runs. 
I agree with you, Thomas, I don’t personally like the Whitlox design, either, however I’m using scrap plate from a friend, and I think it would be a bit mean to argue with him. He thinks the Whitlox forge would work, and I don’t. He’s been a blacksmith for 10 years, and I’ve been a blacksmith for almost three. I’ve learned not to argue with him. I started with charcoal, and I had used a 4” deep box of dirt (can’t remember the acronym) which worked extremely well. My current firepot is 2”, so I was just going to weld together a 4” one. Then I read about side draft forges, and I personally think that’s what I should make. I’d love some advice for that, but that would be in a different thread... 

Glad you like my name, TJ. ;) I took my two favourite things, (chickens and smithing,) and smushed them together. 
Chris

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh it will work; just not nearly as well as a better design.  With charcoal; a U shaped trench forge works a lot better than a flattened \/. *Especially* when you are making your charcoal as you go along! 

(You might also wonder if making it as you go along is a good way to go when you notice that all the indigenous cultures around the world that I have seen forging don't do it that way....)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I find these stones in my cooking charcoal all the time. I just figured it was part of the lining from the retort the charcoal was made in.

If you're serious about making your own charcoal, look into making it from pine. That's the best charcoal I've used to date.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, again, everyone. 

JABOD. Thanks, Charles. 


I’m not quite sure what you mean about indigenous cultures, Thomas. Are you referring to making charcoal in a kiln instead of a retort, or using wood instead, or something else entirely? I’ve not done much research about charcoal, other than a couple of posts Frosty has put on here. And the experience I had of using charcoal in my first year of smithing. (Although I did suck then. Not that I don’t suck now.) 

 

[To Randy:] I have a friend who runs a sawmill, and he cuts mostly pine, (but sometimes he gets spruce.) Anyway, the next time I visit I’ll ask if I can buy some off cuts and other bits for charcoal. I also might occasionally buy some hardwood to make charcoal to sell, if I get a surplus of my own. 

 

(Yet again, I know this is the wrong thread, however,) does anyone have a good design for a charcoal retort? This is one I came up with myself, inspired by a few I’ve saw on YouTube. (Picture.) It uses two oil barrels, a little bit of 6” pipe, and hopefully might work. I’m planning on building it in the next couple of days. 

Thanks, again, Chris0CA3866B-87C8-4476-8E99-BC2A3AB0A2D5.thumb.jpeg.761a65a57ff409687680daa33216d1aa.jpeg

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you weld plate into the dimensions of a trench style jabod I think you'd have a top of the line charcoal firepot. I believe Charles has a thread of the side blast firepot he made somewhere. Iirc it's a flat bottomed slope sided configuration. Exactly what you want for charcoal.   I've been using a jabod or MarkIII jabod for the last year and a half or so and they've done everything I've asked of them. I've been sick for the last month  and haven't gotten a chance to really do much but I think I might try to light it up today if it doesn't rain. Good luck and welcome aboard. 

Pnut

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Charles R. Stevens said:

have built a side blast fire pot. But the photons won’t load and ai can’t find my original post 

I can't find it either. It's the firepot that you diagonally cut a square piece of plate to make the ends. If I find it I'll link it here. 

Pnut

Link to post
Share on other sites

Your design looks like it's throwing away energy.  Most of the better retort designs cycle the pyrolized gases back to burn and heat the retort.

Indigenous Cultures:  look how peoples used charcoal forges without input from European Cultures. (Africa, India, Indonesia, etc and so on.) 

As shown here; we tend to try to build a forge based on designs for coal and then wonder why it's not efficient using charcoal.  Like designing a gas engine and complaining that it doesn't work right using diesel!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it’s under something like new forge cart or some such but yes it is a hunk of 1/4” cut square and split down the middle. Let me go and look. If I can’t get pictures to load I will beg John to post them for me

So the square is 6-1/2” on a side, cut diagonally. I made the slopes sides 5-1/2” wide but should have made them 4” I think .

the pot comes out to be 4-1/2” deep with the bottom of the tuyere ID an inch of the bottom.  

The pot comes out to be 10” d5-1/2” at the top 

tilt the tuyere about 5deg down, this moves the hot spot tord the middle and away from the tuyere.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well you found it, or part of it anyway

And yes the measurements in the old post are correct, as I just measured the inside of the pot, so plus 2x1/4 would be 7” and 7”x 6-1/2” is correct. Tho one might try 7”x  4-1/2”.

Just sent pictures to Glenn, sorry boss. 

charles 01.jpg

charles 02.jpg

charles 03.jpg

charles 04.jpg

charles 05.jpg

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the firepot. It doesn’t look too hard to build. Do you think there could be a way to build an ash dump into the bottom? Perhaps drilling 1/4-3/8” holes along the bottom? The only problem I had with my original forge was it filling with ash. I think I’ll try building a firepot like Charles’, with some way to remove ash. 

A note on my retort design: I was going to drill small (<1/4”) holes) near the bottom of a 6” pipe that was going to be used as a chimney for the bottom where heat could travel through and more evenly bake the charcoal. The holes would let wood gas escape, and that would hopefully provide the last 1/4 of the heat needed, saving wood.

Sorry about any grammar/spelling errors; my auto correct has been screwy lately...

I think this thread should be re-named to “A kid asking questions about whatever he thinks of at the moment to people who actually know what they’re doing, while he sits back in amazement.” You guys here, rock! 
Thanks, Chris

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...