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I Forge Iron

Steel wheel JBOD charcoal forge project

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On 7/28/2020 at 12:47 PM, wirerabbit said:

My anvil edges are still too sharp. I will need to grind them with a wider radius at least on one of the two sides.

Do not grind on an anvil until you are certain that is the way you want it to be, forever.  You will NOT be able to put what you grind off back.

Instead get a piece of plate steel and attach it to the top of the anvil, either using a hardie post or a saddle of metal that hugs against the side of the anvil.  Modify and use this plate until you find the shape or radius you like.   

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On 7/28/2020 at 12:47 PM, wirerabbit said:

 I could get a very nice bright orange which I thought was a bit too cool, but I was able to move steel.

Keep in mind that judging colors in the daylight is not always accurate. You're bright orange outside in the daylight may have been closer to a bright yellow in a dim shop. 


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Quick update:

I have received the DC motor speed controller and a quick wire up test was great. I grabbed an 18 v battery from a drill and tested things out. I'll post pictures and info soon. I seem to have run out of charcoal at the moment. I have purchased some mild steel for practice, so I should have a forge day here pretty soon. Thanks for all the help and suggestions. I'm taking them all to heart.

T, near Jeddo TX

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Finally received the parts I needed to wire up a controller for the hairdryer motor with fan. I sill need to wire something more permanent and mount the controller box to my new forge stand.


The stand is an old Harbor Freight tool stand for a long dead router table. I found some cheap bearing rollers and welded them to the feet pads. I hope they hold up. In the shot you can see how I have run the air down and under the forge to the modified hairdryer.


Here is the hairdryer next to the pvc pipe. It is just a friction fit. Next to the dryer is a 12v battery and my controller box.


This is a close up of the controller I put together from a PWM, a weather-proof receptacle cover and a 12v battery. Here it is set to 100% power. At that speed the tuyere was blowing dust and ash from the empty firepot. Note in addition to the the speed control nob, it has a handy dandy on/off switch. I can set the speed  from 0 to 100 and leave it alone. The switch will allow me to cut off the air while I'm forging. Once the iron is back in the fire, I can switch on and the fan returns to my selected speed.

I have not had a chance yet to fire up the forge. Lots of things going on around here including a new concrete slab for my kilns and now forging things. I need to get a cover over it before I move things but until then, look at what I have for me to practice my forging with?


I'll update soon as I can.

Taylor, near Jeddo TX




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The motor controller worked great. My initial setting was at 70% of maximum speed and that had very little fire fleas dancing about. This session was to see how low of an air flow I could use and still obtain forging temperatures in a reasonable time. I finally settled on a setting of 40% using an 18v battery. With that setting, I was able to easily get the 5/16ths? bar to forging temperatures. Once I found my rhythm, it was easy enough to switch off the blower, pull the stock out of the fire, forge, return the iron to the fire, grab a handful of charcoal and toss on the top while I punched the blower back on.


I still need to learn how the fire works, but to my eyes the bright hot portion of the fire is well below the level of the hearth. Not sure if that is okay or not. I do have the true iron a tad deeper that 4 inches in the pot.

When I cleaned out the fire, I raked all the coals into a bucket of water and the IFB at the blowpipe side was glowing. The opposite side was not. This may not have been the case earlier in the session, but it certainly was at the three hour mark.

My new fire rake pulled out the unconsumed charcoal and ash very easily. This morning I found very little ash in the pot.

I need to make a charcoal chopper next as my kindling hatchet crushes too much of the charcoal into dust. I want to maximize usable charcoal. A shovel of some kind is next and I may have to pull out the stick welder to finish that fire tool.

Hope to do some more forging soon. BTW, today was 103 deg F...in the shade.

Taylor, near Jeddo TX

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2 hour forge session today with some very small modifications to the forge. I had pieces of IFB at the ends of the forge level with the side bricks, but about 1/2 inches above the hearth. That makes sense as these bricks are 4.5 series. However, after cutting the end bricks down to make them level with the hearth, I saw little improvement. This session I heard the roar of the true iron less frequently and had to use the poker often to open the air back up.

The blow pipe is too low in the firebox I think. the bottom of the iron is almost at the bottom of the pot. It seemed that the heart of my fire was about an inch lower than the hearth and once I broke the rule and  placed my iron down at a very shallow angle, I was able to obtain a hot forging temperature. I was heating 3/4 inch round and trying to square it up to 1/4 inch before trying to make some s hooks. Nothing to show for all the work, alas, but I was able to bang on some hot metal nonetheless.

I put less charcoal onto the fire each heat from my previous forging days and I seemed to have cut the usage down by 50%. I was till operating at about 40 on the motor controller. Higher air didn't seem to actually help heat up the metal.

I think I will need to bring the iron up another inch, giving me about three inches to the hearth and see how that does.


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  • 1 month later...

I'm behind in documenting the forging sessions with this forge, but after my Aug 18 session, I dug out a vitrified chunk of the old earth fill from my blow pipe. At that time I still had a good amount of crumblies sitting on the top surface of the forge. Even though I replaced the earthen fire pot with an IFB fire pot, I may have inadvertently thrown in a clod of the old clay thinking it was a piece of errant charcoal. After that last forging session, I found a blob of over fired earthenware stuck to the IFB acting as the hearth stone. More must have made its way into the tuyere. That or some junk from the charcoal bag worked its way down the fire.


Anyhoo, my air was being blocked and once the offending blockage was removed, I once again heard the petite roar of a well-aired charcoal fire. Next three forge sessions (~5 total hours) produced my first set of tongs. I have since placed slices of IFB along the surface to stop any more nonsense. Next iteration of this forge will have a cast pan, cast tuyere, and replaceable brick firebox. Alas, no longer a JABOD.

I'll post pics of the emptied fire pot and subsequent wear when I reach 20 hours of forge time. This is after 15 hours total forge time.




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It is your forge and you are learning to how it wants to do things.  Take notice of the flame and coals so you can recognize when things change.  Find the cause, fix it, and get back to forging.

Consider it a challenge and you and the forge will learn to work together. (grin)

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  • 3 weeks later...


Close to 20 hours on the forge so far and small incremental changes have reduced my charcoal consumption, increased the heat to my pieces, and allowed me to learn quite a bit about forging.

Some items of note are

  • I have started cutting my charcoal larger and the fire seems to be much more lively and heats stock better
  • Though the firepot is made to JABOD specs, sweet spot seems to be a bit lower that the hearth. Adjusting amount of charcoal and how I place my pieces have kept me forging. Will have to modify soon I think, maybe in 20 more hours.
  • Electronic blower controller is a great asset. I can set air for the job and just forget it. On/off switch makes things very easy.

Scale does not seem to be a problem as i initially thought. I don't see excessive amounts. I have had great luck with obtaining high heats without burning the carbon steel I am now working on (leaf spring and sucker rod) and the heat has allowed me to really move the steel.

I obtained another milestone in my forging journey. This batch of charcoal is popping just a bit more than normal and today I started to smell burning hair. I brushed my beard and sure enough a red-hot ember dislodged and fell to the ground. Check that one off the list too.

I will post some pictures next firing for comparison.

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Worst is when you singe your mustache or nose hairs as the smell lingers...

I can tell when I haven't been forging enough---my forearms have hair on them!  (Dragon's breath from propane forge.)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another two hours of forging today. Wind was up, so I rolled the forge into the front of the garage. Got me out of the wind and allowed me to see colors much better. Here I'm preheating a tong blank while I heat up two spring steel bars for drawing out. I'm working on a nata for cutting charcoal and v-bit tongs for punches and hardy tools.


This forge likes the charcoal a bit bigger than what I starting out forging with. Now I am chopping to about 1.25" to 1" or so. Not fussing about it as much. While I started out having to send the poker down to the tuyere to open up the fire now and again during my first several forging sessions, I have not had to do that nearly as much these last two sessions with larger charcoal.


I'm getting great energetic, but not blasting flames from the pile and easily bright yellow on the metal without having to really pile on the charcoals. I have started letting the coals burn down quite a bit before adding more charcoal, and I have not seen any deleterious effects on the steel (mild) or heats. 

The IFB continues to degrade. I removed a nice glassy green blob before I lit the forge today. Might have to enlarge the firepot and try a different refractory solution earlier than anticipated. Going to be fun.

Just a little bit of singed beard today. No worries, it needed a trim.


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