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Hello,

My name is Allan Hoyle, and I'm a beginning blacksmith.

I took a beginner railroad spike knife class, and it has fueled me to learn, and start making things.

I am eager to learn, and will do my best to research before posting a new topic.

Thanks

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Welcome aboard Allan, glad to have you. How much equipment do you have or need to make? What tickles your fancy to make?

Frosty The Lucky.

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I'm mainly interested in making knives right now.  I've been experimenting with a forge that I made, but after looking at some of the forges on here, I can see that I need to make a better one.

Some of the tools I have access to are a milling machine, lathe, and welder.  I'm no master fabricator, but I've been teaching myself to weld, and my dad is a machinist.  We made a burner that works pretty well, but it is only one burner and I feel that for the size I have it at now that I need a second burner.  I'm sorry I don't have the dimensions on my forge, but I will get them.  As to the construction of the forge it's just some fire bricks that I bought from my local Tractor Supply, that I stack into a rectangle.  Originally we used this to heat treat AK receivers, and it worked well.

I started skimming through the Burners 101 Section on here, and saw that Mikey recommended Gas Burners for Forges, Furnaces, & Kilns.  Where can I find this book?

We experimented with it last week and was able to get a rail road spike cherry red, and was able to work with it, however it seems to take a lot of fiddling to get it to that sweet spot.  Oh and my anvil is a rail road track that I have secured to a stump with lag bolts.  I think I have the height right.  I don't have to stoop down to work with it.  I did read that the height should be from the height of my knuckles.

My hammer is a 3lb cross peen from Harbor Freight.  It was the only one they had at the time.  After swinging it, I can tell that it is too heavy for me.  The hammer I used in class was much lighter, but I could control it and hit hard when I needed to.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  I can include pictures of my current setup, but I want to be sure to do it correctly per the guidelines.

Thanks

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John thank you so much for letting me know about that event.  I learned a lot watching different smiths and got some ideas on how to construct my forge.  My favorite was the guy that did the decorative twisting, and the guy making nails.  I hate I didn't get to meet you in person, and thank you.

Thanks

Allan

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Hard firebrick forges are immense gas hogs and take a lot of excess BTU's to provide a good working heat.  They are easy to build, cheap, can be reconfigured easily and are tough for industrial production use.

If you want to forging for fun a kaowool lined forge is strongly suggested.  You may want to look at the plans Wayne has on his website.

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Thanks for the suggestions guys.  Yeah I have a propane tank I'm working on now.  Hard to find time to work on it now since I'm working nights.  I have one question about my forge.  Can I build it without using kaowool?  I'm concerned about using it.  Maybe I'm misinformed, but after reading some stuff about it, I'd rather build my forge without it.  Could I get to welding temps without it?

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In theory, yes. However, it's going to take a LOT of fuel. Think of your forge as your house and the kaowool as the insulation. You can get the house warmer, faster, and more efficiently if the walls and roof are properly insulated, or you can install a furnace that will have to pump out a HUGE amount of heat to keep the house warm while all the heat escapes through the walls.

What is your concern about using kaowool? Breathing the fibers can be harmful, but if you wear a dust mask while installing it and rigidize it properly before use, that's not going to be a problem.

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The most dangerous thing I do is to drive to work every day---but I'm not giving up using a car!     Follow the proper safety instructions and using kaowool will be less dangerous than driving to the store.

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That makes a lot of sense.  I was on the fence about it, but I think I'll give it a shot.  Is there a guide on here on how to use it?  Is it the Forges 101 guide?

 

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Yes, the basics are: use multiple layers of 1" 8lb. ceramic blanket. 2" total is the point of diminishing returns for thickness. Cut it a LITTLE large and compress in in position it'll hold its position better. Butter, Rigidize ad cure both layers. Butter before applying the hard inner liner and kiln wash if you choose to use one. 

Buttering is a mason's term meaning to wet the material that will have a water setting mortar or in this case refractory applied to it. It dilutes the binders so they penetrate all the nooks and crannies for a full strength bond. Buttering the ceramic blanket causes the rigidizer to flow along the fibers and concentrate at junctions, when set it encases them, making the blanket more rigid and prevents fibers from breaking loose and drifting into your breathable.

Applying a mortar, etc. to material without buttering causes it to flash dry on contact which leaves a layer of set or cured . . .stuff between mortar and . . . whatever, brick, kaowool, etc. Meaning it isn't fully bonded to the surface. 

Make sense?

Frosty The Lucky.

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