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I Forge Iron

Need some tips and tricks on building a charcoal forge.


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I think it's pretty common to skimp out on fuel when you're first staring out. I know I did it. Usually it's to try to save some money. However, I ended up spending a lot more time trying to tend my little fire than I would have with a proper fire. Time is money too!

Pnut, I like that setup. Simple but effective. I like keeping things simple where possible.

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Frazer  I'm not too sure why I switched the Tuyere, in the last configuration that I had (coming in from the side) the entire base of the brick was glowing so I will likely go back to that design. I did have a lot of charcoal in there (nearly reaching the top the entire length of the brick. I was going crazy with the hand crank blower trying to make the fire longer so I burnt through quite a bit.

I was thinking of creating a trench by cutting the fire brick diagonally (like a miter cut). I definitely want to remove the back brick so I have more room. I was thinking of cutting the back fire brick either in half or cutting it in 3rds and using a 1/3 piece of the brick as a back wall just to hold the sand back. If I do this, I can push the two side bricks back and If I cut the side bricks diagonally, I can use the cut off pieces to extend the trench. 

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I hope what I'm saying makes sense with this horrible paint diagram. I would use the offcuts (coloured in red) from the two side bricks to extend the trench and maybe add the offcuts from the back firebrick(coloured in yellow) to prop up against the front wall to protect the wood from the heat. The Tuyere will come in from the side (haven't decided which side yet, the blower might block it on the left side and the blower will be a pain to move so the pipe will likely go over the blower kind of like in the picture and the hose will wrap back to connect or I'll place it on the other side and use a longer hose.

Glenn  The pipe is 25mm or approximately 1inch in diameter and 17cm / 6.6inches in length. I will definitely raise the Tuyere a little bit higher, having it on the bottom didn't work too well as the hottest part of the fire was located just in front of the Tuyere quite deep down. My goal is to put the Tuyere on the side and raise it slightly (and potentially angle it down a bit as was mentioned earlier).

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Try one change at a time and see what happens.   If you like it, keep it, if not, change it to something you like better.

First add more fuel to the existing set up.  If the fuel burns down below the top of the sides, add more fuel.  If you need to raise the sides, add more bricks.  Forge with the new set up for a while and see how it works.  Then change one item and forge with that for a while and see how it works.  And so on.

You seen to be trying to overcompliment simple.   No reason to try to cut and shape bricks, just use whole bricks.  No reason to angle the air pipe down because it will create a chimney when the air starts flowing back up the pipe. 

What we are trying to accomplish is to create a fireball larger than a ping pong ball with maybe 3-4 pieces of charcoal burning blazing hot.  That can only heat the end of something and only heat a distance the size of the ping pong ball.   Create a fire large enough to heat the size metal you are using and for a length that you can forge in one heat, maybe 4-6 inches.   If the firebox needs to be deeper, simply stand the bricks on their ends.  If it needs to be longer, add another brick.

Slow down. Add more fuel and see what happens when you apply a little gentle air.  Get back to us with the results.

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3 hours ago, Frazer said:

think it's pretty common to skimp out on fuel when you're first staring out. I know I did it.

So did I. It took me a couple hours of having mediocre results till I piled some charcoal on and it clicked in my thick head that I was wasting more fuel by running my forge inefficiently. 

Pnut

 

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Glenn, agreed. No need to cut the bricks.

Pnut. I was using anthracite when I first started so I ended up needing to relight the forge numerous times per session.. The small fire would die out unless I was constantly tending it. I wish I figured the problem out in just a few hours :D. The problems associated with anthracite are the opposite of charcoal so that experience isn't relevant here. However, needing a sufficient amount of fuel present is universal...

3 hours ago, NguyenHoang said:

I did have a lot of charcoal in there (nearly reaching the top the entire length of the brick.

If that's the case and you were burning lot's of fuel trying to make a bigger fire then your next project should be a long taper you can use as a poker to open up the tuyere when it gets clogged up with ash... You can crank 'til the cows come home, but if the air has nowhere to go your fire isn't going to get much bigger. I'm also not sure about the hand crank blower you have there.. Not that it won't work, it probably will, but I don't know how much air it puts out and how much of an obstruction it can overcome after traveling down your 1" pipe..

I'm guessing they provide that section of pipe because that is diameter it is supposed to be run with. Every time you reduce the diameter from there more and more air is forced out the intake rather than down the pipe..

Try Glenn's suggestions. If you're still having trouble, minimize the length of 1" pipe you have leading up to the forge. If you're still having trouble, (temporarily) switch the hand crank blower out for the blow dryer you were using before. While it's annoying to listen to -- I used to fall asleep with the sound of the motor still ringing in my ears -- and puts out much more air than you need the blow drier will be able to overcome that back pressure. If that helps then you have identified a problem and can go from there.

To reiterate, make one change at a time and note the response.

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Hey so I gave it and other crack before making any big changes. All I did was make the length of hose shorter, push the tuyere in through the firebrick by about half an inch and moved the side walls in so it was a little more narrow. It was better but still encountered the same problem from before where the fire or hot part was only confined to the front half. I stacked charcoal up to the top as well

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Unfortunately I don’t have any smaller diameter pipe on hand at the moment :(

 

I have changed the tuyere positioning to the side now and have made it more of a trench and it seems to be a lot better now, the fire spreads out much more evenly and longer than before. 

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Do not have a smaller pipe? 

If you tell us you can not do something, you are right, you have already decided that you can not do it. 

Instead, figure out a way to use what you have to make what you need.  Your a blacksmith, heat up the end of the pipe you do have and swage it down to a smaller diameter.  Calculate the internal area and make the new opening round, square, rectangular, etc with the internal area you want.

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I didn't think of that to be honest! (only a few weeks in so far so my brain doesn't think like a blacksmith.... yet)\

I'll give it a go with the spare 25mm pipe that I have and see if I can reduce the opening to 3/4inch / 19mm

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The trick to forging down pipe is to work it in from all directions as much as possible. Hit, turn, hit, turn, hit, turn. Don't try to smash it down with monster blows, as that will simply crush the pipe.

(Of course, in this application, crushing the end of the pipe will work just fine; it will just give you a flat opening rather than a round one.)

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I can't remember if I have a 3/4 or 1in. Sch.40 pipe as a tuyere. I also made it extra long because I thought it would burn away quickly. I think after a few years it's maybe two inches shorter. The clay protected it very well in the JABOD but most of the length that has burned off is from after I started using brick as a firepot. I don't drill through the bricks I just set it between two bricks with a split firebrick to fill the gap above the pipe. 

Pnut

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