Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Mineral looking things in the ashes of a charcoal fire


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 63
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Ash isn’t a problem during operation, especially with pine. It just blows away, but using hard wood it really fills up when you shut down and let the coals go out on their own. 

I guess a slit down the middle with a bar on one side of a round to act as a floor would work, just make it a 8” triangle so you can clip the corner to maintain depth. But honestly you can either crank up the air and blow out the ash or just kleen it out once when you start a new fire (I sift out the charcoal) and away we go. Now coal is going to need more ash management but it still won’t be much more than once at the beginning of a session.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charcoal ash is light enough that if I want to clear it out I just turn the air up a little and blow it out. It's a delicate balance between blowing the ash out and blowing the whole fire ash charcoal and all out of the trench or firepot. If I crank the blower too fast or open the valve too much when using the electric blower it'll blow everything out of the forge hahaha. 

Pnut

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Question: why does charcoal work better in a side-blast forge? I have seen that statement several times from reliable smiths on this forum, but I can't find the reason in any of the related discussions. I've been limited in my research time lately, so apologies if I haven't dug deeply enough.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I’m guessing the reason for a side-blast Forge is so the air only contacts a small part of the bed of coals at a time. The charcoal will burn faster with direct air pressure, (and I tell you, charcoal burns FAST) but heat still rises, so in essence you’re only “eating away” (as an analogy) at the coal in the bottom, where the air pressure is, but the actual forging heat will radiate through and be insulated by the rest of the charcoal. You still get the right amount of heat, but you’re only burning stuff in the bottom. With a bottom draft forge, the air will keep pushing up,through, “eating away” at the charcoal all the way to the top. 
 

Someone else should correct this; I just wanted to make a guess. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not bad for a guess Chris. A bottom blast moves the air through the entire pile. In a side blast it blows across the pile and doesn't penetrate so deeply unless you move the fuel over the tuyere and or crank harder. 

About an ash dump on a steel side blast, I'm visualizing a gate like a Belly Dump. It'd give the bottom of the "trench" a flat bottom rather than a V. Then again you can just lift the pot out of the forge, dump it out and drop it back in. WHILE you're using it even. Hmm, a pair of lifters you could hook on and not grab the hot pot. "Side blast pot holders?" 

Frosty The Lucky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Frosty. :D 

All that I did to modify my coal forge to use charcoal was tack a plate with holes drilled into in on to the grate made for coal. I think I used a 1/4” bit. That was much too small, so I used a small punch and widened the holes a bit, cold, but that still didn’t work... perhaps Frosty’s idea of a flat bottomed pot, but with a few small holes, maybe 3/8”, on either side of the tuyere, (so the air doesn’t just blow out of the bottom.*)  Does anyone think that could work? 
I’ve included a rough sketch of my idea. 

*If the tuyere is pointed downwards, (I can’t remember to the exact degree,) and there are holes there, all of the air would blow out of the bottom, so if the holes were on the sides, perhaps the air would do its thing, while the ash fell through the holes? Other ideas?

F0330C83-A7EA-4912-877F-394B210B54D7.jpeg

2 minutes ago, Chris the Chicken Smith said:
I’ve included a rough sketch of my idea. 

I forgot to ask: what should the depth be? From my experience, I found 4-6” works well, but I had only started, and didn’t have any clue what I was doing. (Not that I do now... I’m like a chicken with his head cut off, if you will excuse the pun. ;) ) 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're welcome, it's my pleasure.

Hmmmm, I'm not visualizing what you're describing but you're changing too many things at once. How about this, it won't be ideal but build a side blast fire pot like Charles describes, he lists the general dimensions.

Where the pipe nipple exits the end of the pot adapt to a larger dia pipe, say 1 1/2" or 2" extend a way and screw on an elbow aimed down. 

You'll need to put legs on the pot or maybe some kind of clip to hand over the edge of the forge pan, that will require more elbows.  Anyway, those are just fiddly bits. 

The basic idea is to place the open end of the larger elbow over the air grate in your forge, seal it with soil and now you have a side blast forge. The air blast comes up through the air grate in your forge follows the elbow to the tuyere pipe in the sideblast and Bob's your Uncle.

Make sense?

Frosty The Lucky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Frosty said:

Make sense?

It makes enough sense. I’ll send some pictures tomorrow of what I have to work with. I already have a forge stand that accepts a firepot built, and my idea was to pit flanges around the outside, then flat bar to support that. (The old firepot is 8x8”.) 

The only variables changed were the flat bottom, and holes drilled in that bottom on either side of the tuyere. I was just wondering if the holes would work or not. 
The point of using a firepot in the first place is so I can use the stand I built less than a year ago, and not just use it as scrap metal. I spent more time designing it than I’ve used it so far. The other point is that I don’t want to have a big box of dirt sitting in the corner. My eventual plan is to build a brick structure, where the firepot sits in the mouth of the chimney. If it works, I plan to use and just repair this pot for the rest of my life. 
Also, keep in mind I just turned 15 ten days ago, and I don’t really have that much money or “power,” if you will. I can’t jut hop in the car and run somewhere. 

Thanks, again, for the help. If you could do a rough sketch, Frosty, so I could better understand what you’ve thought up, it will probably still be better than anything I could think of. That whole post sounded much harsher than I meant for it to, and I apologize for it. :) 

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 6/16/2020 at 9:21 AM, tjdaggett said:

Question: why does charcoal work better in a side-blast forge?

As far as I can tell it's more efficient using sideblast. A bottom blast burns the charcoal up at a startling speed. As for the why Frosty and CCS pretty much typed close to what I've witnessed. The only thing I might add is that a side blast lets the air flow linger just enough due to having to change direction from horizontal to vertical that the oxygen is more completely consumed. 

Pnut

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So you've noticed how designing stuff that you are not real familiar with leads to multiple cycles of redesign and rebuild.  GOOD!  I know folks twice your age who haven't learned that one yet.  It's also why we suggest a cheap and easy way to get started that is easy to build and modify.  Start with something proven to work and then modify it for your specific needs.  When you "understand it" then think of doing a from the ground up redesign and build.

I would like to point out that just like you probably will not keep your first car as your only car for the rest of your life; expecting 1 forge to suit your needs as time passes is also unlikely.  I know a bunch of people who started out bladesmithing and morphed into ornamental or historical recreation smiths!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that the air actually dwells longer in the bottom of the forge, as it changes direction due to the heating of the air. 

as ash is an only once a day issue I wouldn’t bother with the clinker breaker/ash dump. 

Remember that the historical iron work clearly shows a 6” working heat, to say heat treat a sword or bend a large scroll on would build a a multi tuyere trench forge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Thomas, Charles. 
The fact that ash wouldn’t build up all that quickly completely skipped my mind, so thanks for reminding me of that, Charles. Perhaps I won’t bother with an ash dump. 
Thanks Thomas, I kind of learned the “redesigning” the hard way, far too many times. Now I’m just used to it. I’m hoping to be a Jack-of-all-trades, (I’ll need to be if I want to have a successful homestead, as Frosty will probably concur,) and that will transfer into my smithing, as well, (hopefully.) I’m hoping to make a forge that is useful for anything. I don’t plan to “specialize” in any one thing. I do plan to make tools, including blades, but I also want to make decorative things to sell, as well as other useful things, like wall hooks, fire pokers, etc. Additionally, I would like to occasionally do some copper work; making watering cans, buckets, and other things. (I suppose that would be tinsmithing, though, not coppersmithing... and it would be much cheaper to use thin steel plate... more planning needed there, too.)

I've included some pics of my current forge. 30” tall, and the table is 18x18”. 2” deep, 8”^2 firepot. There are plates in holes so long bars can fit through the sides. I’m planning on just using flat bar laid across the firepot hole to support the new firepot, so the size isn’t an issue. I think I even have enough 1/4” plate to make the firepot, if I do decide to build it. (Now y’all have me confused! ;) ) I might just build another wooden box, fill it with dirt, and try the measurements of Charles’ forge out first, with the modifications we’ve decided. But I’m not sure. (Like I said, I’m confused.) 

Chris

0B3158C6-48E6-4132-994F-1911CB25016B.jpeg

B4CA2D64-C2B4-43E9-9D8A-CF44D3AD1084.jpeg

85397DD1-8BFE-4FD9-AEDD-DB18BCA3F211.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chris: You've been anything but harsh, we all get frustrated and it shows. No harm no foul. I knew you were young and like most farm and home schoolers you have a better head on your shoulders than kids who don't have the number and seriousness of the responsibilities you live with every day. 

It helps to see what you have to work with. If you shorten those sides down to about 2" high you'll have a much more effective forge for general work. If you were to oh say lay them flat you could have a much wider forge table and that's a lot more useful.

I made a couple sketches but had to use a dry erase board and my pens are old so it's not as clear as I'd prefer. They are just concept sketches and only represent the idea I was describing in it's simplest form. 

Cool, I can see them better here than I can on the white(ish) board or my phone. The pen is the black one too.  The first shows a plumbing elbow standing on your current air grate. Seal up around it with damp soil so it doesn't leak air blast. There is a "Bushing" reducer in the horizontal leg with the pipe nipple tuyere iron that is in whatever you come up with for a side blast trench. Welded steel or just tamped down moist dirt and a couple bricks.

The other sketch is an end view looking inline with the trench and tuyere iron. 

Is that a little more clear? This isn't rocket surgery, it only has to hold a fire ad can be made of anything that won't burn up too quickly. One last thing that hasn't penetrated yet. Forget about making THE forge that will last you . . . very long at all. Ain't gonna happen. This'll get you going and in a while you'll know what's wrong with it and build another and . . . another and etc. etc. Honest I think all of us have old forges collecting dust and leaves. 

Frosty The Lucky.

2030190739_sideblastmod.JPG.2a9fdc09608239eac1a5f76cc928dabb.JPG  1317588523_sideblastmod02.JPG.954f2feb0e0680f5a241a1498e6ab74d.JPG

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Frosty. That doesn’t look too hard to build. Instead of the elbow, could I use some dryer duct, do you think? I just found some lying around. Not much, but enough. Then I could just duct tape it to my tuyere.

I’m planning on welding a little bracket onto the side of the stand to hold the blower, instead of attaching it to the piping. I was lazy and never attached the ash dump or a flange to bolt the blower to. From the blower, I can run the duct to the tuyere, which will probably be some 3/4” steel pipe I just found yesterday. Then I can still plug the blower into the wiring I did. (Blueprint)

Also, on a completely unrelated note, I don’t really have a homestead yet, but I do have 5 acres of forest and my imagination available. I have plans for chicken and duck coops, I might get a goose and some peafowl (just for decoration ;) ) as well.  I have a neighbour who has a small homestead, and he’s going to have pigs, goats, chickens, turkeys and ducks of his own. I might get some sheep, just to round off “the herd.” We can trade back and forth. Right now, I have six chickens, (one rooster, 5 hens;) I’ve had them for almost two years now. I have a small garden planted at my neighbour’s place, since he wasn’t using his full garden this year, and I didn’t get enough land cleared. We live near a saltwater creek, which is an invaluable resource. No one else in my family really cares about my farming “hobby,” which is a bummer, but I suppose they appreciate the fresh eggs. (Just for a bit more background.) 

Give your horse(s) a pat for me, Frosty. Also, how do you know about me? It doesn’t say anyone’s looked at my profile. Just curious. :) 

Chris

4711651A-32BF-4C4A-86A0-2DA59E5B7654.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it's aluminum dryer duct and you forget the duct tape it aught to work till you find something better. Just keep your eyes open there are many ways to make these things work.

How's this. Pile some dirt around the fire pot. Lay the tuyere pipe across the dirt s it sticks out of the pile. Cover the pile with a piece of tin, old diner plate or even wood and bury it. Now your bottom blast is a side blast. Build a side blast forge similar to what Charles recommends in the JABOD but forget about the box. 

It doesn't matter where or what the blast comes from you just need some. The rest is just building a contained fire. 

It's too easy to overthink a forge, they're really just a fire in a hole raised to a convenient height. I've made sideblast forges on an old kitchen table by piling a couple few buckets of dirt on it and feeding it with a piece of pipe and a blower. 

I'd dearly love to give Banjo a pat, even a carrot for you but he's been dead at least 50 years now and Deb stopped raising livestock a few years ago. I can give the dogs and cats a scratch for you though, they never turn down an ear scritching or belly buffing.

How do I  now about you? I have extraordinary reading comprehension and a near eidetic memory for the written word. I've been reading nearly constantly since I was maybe 6-7 and talking to people via: email, fora and <shudder> Facebook since the internet went public. So 60+ years of practice and I can generally tell about what a person's age is and you mentioned a farm. Of course I could have you mixed up with another young man who does live on a farm who is making very similar plans for learning blacksmithing.

That part of your story is shared with many MANY young folk wanting to learn a new craft, whatever the craft is. You have a LOT of company at about your stage and a bunch of us old curmudgeons pulling for you. ;)

Frosty The Lucky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All right, I’ll try that. I have clay ground, so I should be able to plaster together a makeshift firepot until I can tack one together.

I’m sorry to hear about your horse. I have a friend who runs a farm with 22 horses, and I take care of a miniature horse there named Tucker. If I can find a picture I’ll put it up here. If my math is right, and he stops eating so many horse cookies, he should live until I’m in my fifties... he’s about to turn 20, I think. 

when u think about it most people my age that i know type like this and oh my gosh its so annoying

(It hurts considerably to type like that.) I’m very impressed with your skill. I’m specifically impressed with how you read my age from my typing, since I’ve been told I don’t type like my generation... speaking of my generation, you say there are actually other people who aren’t completely sucked into computers? I need to meet some of them! All of my friends are curmudgeons, as it turns out, and it seems as though I fit into every category except for “the age.” 
I forgot what else I was going to type... oh, well...

Thanks, Frosty.

Chris 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the nice thing about the smithing community is that we tend to not judge people by their age but by their actions.  I've seen teenagers teaching retired folks as well as vice versa.

And Peafowl??????  Unless you like their screams; and have NO neighbors; they are not suggested.  Though tasty---rather like pheasant rather than chicken.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

People get pretty ticked off with me when I try to teach them things. I just read a lot, and I am very logically driven, so I can usually cobble something together from what I know, if I know enough about something. The problem is that I love teaching, but I usually don’t know all that much about what I’m trying to teach. 
I’ve heard that peahen eggs are bigger than chicken eggs, but smaller than goose eggs. I live near a very “touristy” area, so I could probably sell them to someone for $6 or more per dozen, for people to have the novelty of eating a “peacock” egg. I’m hoping to make enough money from these tourists to be self-sufficient on my farm. But if I do that, there will be no more chocolate... I suppose self sufficient, with a little bit of sweetness from the outside world. :) 

 I have VERY kind neighbours, and sound doesn’t really travel to any of their houses, other than the fellow homesteader’s place. He has enough roosters to deafen you, so I doubt he would even notice the screams anyway. And he has a “pet” pig. (His wife wanted a more “exotic” pet... he still wants bacon.) You could hear that pig squeal from miles away, anyway. I’m also relying on the screams to hopefully ward off predators. Not that I expect it to work. Also, as blacksmiths, we’re ones to talk about noise. ;) 

I found a picture of my horse friend, Tucker. It’s from about a week ago, and it’s no really a great picture, but you can sort of see how big he is. Three feet; I believe that is nine hands. 
Chris

A0E177D0-09A4-4C83-AC53-2A292C912F98.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing about being a successful homesteader is not only being able to do as much as possible on your own---but to be able to do it as efficiently as possible too. Lost time has a cost too as does having to do multiple cycles to get something finished and working. You do have a major factor in your favour: health care.  Most homesteads here in the USA are one accident from bankruptcy.

I come from the Ozarks which were a big draw to the back to the land folks of the 60's and 70's and having  known a bunch of them I can say you are right that you want to have something unique that you can sell to tourists during the summer to help coast through the winters. It's also good to have a craft you can do in the winters to sell during the summers.  So what can you do that everybody else can't; (the higher barriers to entry the better!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess Canadians take that for granted, Thomas... I’ve never really thought of that. 
I plan to be a butcher by trade until I get to be as self sufficient as possible. That way I can work with my hands and still have something useful and unique that I can use. I’ve cut up a few animals, and so far I haven’t gagged once, which is apparently rare. 
My plans for income are growing the usual best-selling crops around here, (peas, potatoes, beans, carrots, pumpkins, lettuce, and lots of strawberries. Southern NB is known for their blueberries and strawberries.) Since I live on saltwater, I can boil it down and, if marketed properly, sell the salt for $4-8 per shaker. There’s a small factory about 30 minutes away from my property that sells salt for $6 per shaker, marketed as “local Bay of Fundy salt.” I guess it comes from an underground cave or something. 5 gallons of water turns into 1 shaker of salt, and I could probably boil off 25 gallons in a day, since I would have a campfire or wood stove going, anyway. I also can take some sea lettuce from the salt water and dry it, crush it, and bag it, and sell it as a spice similar to how you would sell basil or oregano, for example. (Sea lettuce is the kind of stuff sushi is made out of, in case you didn’t know.) The goal is to make at least $40 000 per year to pay for bills and things you can’t make yourself. So that’s 40 different things that make you about $1000 each per year. Blacksmithing is going to be one of my big staples in that regard.

Sorry for rambling, I do that a lot.

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We only raised a few horses over about 10+ years in a suburban setting, hardly a horse ranch. Owning a couple gentle trail horses was a good way for a fat geeky kid to get a date. Banjo was a medicine hand appaloosa, when appaloosa wasn't just a color. We bought him at auction after the mustang roundup. He was a well trained cutting and roping horse and not many  breeds have the stamina of an appaloosa, Morgans, maybe. 

A lot of the problems a youngster has "Teaching" is PR. As you yourself said you're trying to "Teach" things YOU don't know much about. You can NOT teach something you don't know, the best you can do is share what you've discovered. Ran into that fact of life at your age too.

Pea fowl eggs eh? How do they taste, have you eaten one? Even duck's eggs are a hard sell unless you have a niche market established, goose eggs more so, Ostrich and Emu are a really hard sell unless you wish to clean them out, dry and preserve them for the arts market. Duck's eggs are not only larger they are strongly flavored and take longer to cook and goose eggs  significantly harder to open, slower cooking and the flavor is quite strong. Not unpleasant but not many people eat anything but hen's eggs.

Remember you have to support fowl until you build a profitable market Pea fowl are a chore and can be dangerously aggressive. 

Your most recent post just showed up. How long does it take you to: cut, split and dry enough wood to boil 5 gal of water dry? Give it a try and see if $6 makes your wages for the labor. A much more effective method would be "evaporative pans" think large sheet pans in the sun or perhaps a low output solar collector with a steady drip of salt water on the pan. The wider the surface the faster it will evaporate and less energy you have to apply to speed it up. 

If you keep your eyes open you can find stainless steel sheet from commercial kitchen remodels, an upside down old stainless counter top would be perfect. 

Lots of decent ideas but ideas are a LONG way from a plan and almost nothing works without a plan. Sure I can play with ideas all I want in the shop, everything is paid for but fuel and electricity so I only have to budget for overhead. Don't forget taxes, insurance, etc. in your overhead, insurance ESPECIALLY if you're selling products meant for human consumption. You'll need to budget health inspections, certifications, etc. too. 

The better you learn to plan the higher the odds of making a success of your ideas. Nothing is simple, especially if you have to deal with local or national officials.

Frosty The Lucky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, pea fowl are LOUD!!!  You might get used to the noise yourself but if you have any neighbors within half a mile you may get nuisance complaints.

Frosty is correct about the market for eggs from fowl other than chickens.  It can also depend on the breed within a particular species.  One breed of duck may produce eggs very different from another breed.  That said, you can develop a niche market but you have to have some business sense/education to develop a viable business model.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Are you telling me I won’t be alone forever?! Wow, that’s better than I thought!

I haven’t eaten a peahen egg, no. But there are two towns, each about 45 minutes from here, and they are the definition of niche. And they have WAY too much money that they feel they need to get rid of. And buying random things is better than feeding starving children in Africa, isn’t it? >:( 

Anyway... Duck eggs are best used in baking, due to their high protein content. You *can* eat them, but my neighbour, when he had his ducks, (a raccoon came and ate them all,) would market them as eggs for baking. There are so many people who sell chicken eggs, even duck eggs, that there really isn’t a market. Peafowl eggs, however, are unique and “rare,” so people will be more likely to go “ooh, shiny!” and buy some. Then, they will take their prejudice of them being special, and they will psych themselves up for a great flavour, which they will mentally taste, and, ideally, decide they love. Marketing is mostly psychology, which is one of my talents. 

Peafowl are “dangerously aggressive? Have you ever seen a goose? (I know you have. Are they really worse than geese?) 


The idea with boiling the water is that I would already have a fire going. I’ll be cooking outside when it’s hot, and inside when the weather is bad. Over a wood fire, not an electric range top. I’m just like that. Another note: local law states that (basically) as long as you aren’t selling your [food] product to stores, you don’t have to have a licensed kitchen. You can sell to a farmers’ market all you want with no permits or restrictions, as long as it’s not moonshine or weed, (which is now legal to buy now,) or I suppose any other drugs. There might be other restrictions, like illegal guns and things, but as far as I can tell I can sell my pickles, sweets, salt, ironwork. And besides, my neighbour is working on saving up for a licensed kitchen, anyway. I’m going to pitch in, so I’ll be able to use it. (Sidetracked again,) yes, those evaporating pans sound like a good idea, too. 

Those “ideas” all have plans. I just get sore fingers from typing too much. If you would like me to go over every detailed plan, I could, however we both have better things to do. (Sorry, I’m a bit cranky.) Also, most of my ideas aren’t actually mine. They come from that same homesteading neighbour. We have discussed the logistics in length many times over, picking apart each other’s ideas until we got to something workable. Then we assessed the difficulty and reward, and decided what would be worthwhile. Blacksmithing was one we didn’t agree on. He doesn’t think there will be anyone who will spend $15 on a fire poker, or $10 on a lopsided key ring with a leaf on it. I digress.

Yes, Frosty, nothing is easy. It had only clicked a month or so ago, though, when I tried to turn the soil in my neighbour’s garden that’s been fallowing for five years. “Oh, that should only take a couple of days,” I told myself. Two weeks later, I was FINALLY tilling up rows to plant in. 
We also already went over the peacocks’ “screaming,” George. But thanks for the warning.

Chris

6 hours ago, Chris the Chicken Smith said:

 I have VERY kind neighbours, and sound doesn’t really travel to any of their houses, other than the fellow homesteader’s place.

Link to comment
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...