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55 gallon drum forge build - WIP


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As promised in this thread: http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=23241

 

Here's a little WIP build along...

 

55 gallon drum marked "Texaco" with other markings - which I looked up. It had contained hydraulic fluid, so no issues with dangerous substances. It was nearly dry, so I just washed it out with the hose and some laundry soap. It's a strong enough surfactant to clean up most oils.

 

Drum forge WIP 002-01.jpg

 

Drum forge WIP 004-01.jpg

 

I cut around the circumference with a reciprocating saw. My first cut was just above a "rib", the second was through the middle of the rib, removing an ~1" ring. The ring is garbage, but the cut allows the top section to nest in the bottom section with no wrestling or negative change in my attitude (which is important). :) I dry fit it at this point to avoid any potential grief later.

 

Drum forge WIP 005-01.jpg

 

Drum forge WIP 007-01.jpg

 

Drum forge WIP 008-01.jpg

 

I cut the Kaowool to fit and drilled holes and used stainless wire to hold it in place. The wire does the job all by itself, and so would the satanite I add later, so it's secured in place double good.

 

Drum forge WIP 011-01.jpg

 

Drum forge WIP 012-01.jpg

 

Drum forge WIP 013-01.jpg

 

Next I cut the port for the burner with an angle grinder.

 

Drum forge WIP 014-01.jpg

 

Drum forge WIP 015-01.jpg

 

Then I lined the rest of the interior with Kaowool, using the same stainless wire as support. When handling Kaowool ALWAYS wear a respirator!

 

Drum forge WIP 018-01.jpg

 

Drum forge WIP 019-01.jpg

 

Next I cut a slot with an angle grinder for the workpiece to be put in the forge.

 

Drum forge WIP 021-01.jpg

 

And then a coat of Satanite to seal the fiber.

 

Drum forge WIP 022-01.jpg

 

Drum forge WIP 023-01.jpg

 

You'll notice the fiber is cut level on the top section but is a little proud on the bottom section. After the refractory dried I coated the edges and put the top in place. The idea was for the wet Satanite to bond with the other side. I then tack welded the top to the bottom. It can be disassembled in about 2 minutes with an angle grinder but is sturdy enough to be moved around.

 

Finished and first firing pics to follow!

 

Edited to add progress and pics 9/22/2012:

 

Tack welds.

 

Drum forge WIP 001-01.jpg

 

Temporary setup and forge running.

 

Drum forge WIP 003-01.jpg

 

Drum forge WIP 006-01.jpg

 

Drum forge WIP 007-01.jpg

 

I'm using a 500,000 BTU weed burner throttled way down to run it. It's actually a tad hot at the bottom, but not bad - I should be able to adjust it for this burner.

 

Here's the first real run (I did some shorter runs to cure the Satanite).

 

Edited by Todd Gdula
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thats a lot of volume and i cant quite tell but the work hole looks a bit on the small size for escaping gasses :(

 

You're absolutely correct. For venting the 3" plug unscrews and there's no wool under it. If that's not enough vent then I'll cut the slot bigger. We'll see ow it goes when I fire it. :)

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Todd,

 

I built one of these a long while ago and a trick I got from Owen Bush was to use fired clay buttons about 2" diameter with two small holes in for holding the blanket in place. I did not use satanite on the blanket, but if you find it sagging from the weight the buttons might be a better idea than just using wire.

 

Mick.

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Todd,

 

I built one of these a long while ago and a trick I got from Owen Bush was to use fired clay buttons about 2" diameter with two small holes in for holding the blanket in place. I did not use satanite on the blanket, but if you find it sagging from the weight the buttons might be a better idea than just using wire.

 

Mick.

 

Good tip, thanks. I fired it tonight and thermal cycled a katana - HT tomorrow. So far so good - everything is working right and staying together. :)

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Are you going to use it primarily for heat-treating, or is it hot enough for general forging? I'm liking the weed-burner heat source idea, and I've been needing something to heat-treat longer blades...

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Todd, I'm glad the weed burner worked out for you. In my experience, I get a little better performance with it set 1.5 inches back from the burner port. I think it gives a bit of a better draft. I'd love to know how the satanite coating holds up. I've been tempted to do the same with my kiln.

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Are you going to use it primarily for heat-treating, or is it hot enough for general forging? I'm liking the weed-burner heat source idea, and I've been needing something to heat-treat longer blades...

 

Just for heat treating. It heats way to long a section for forging - a long blade would flop around like spaghetti. That's an ACE Red Dragon burner. They go for ~$70-80. You can get one cheaper, but they won't last as long.

 

Oh, BTW, the $100-150 cost estimate is without the burner.

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Todd, I'm glad the weed burner worked out for you. In my experience, I get a little better performance with it set 1.5 inches back from the burner port. I think it gives a bit of a better draft. I'd love to know how the satanite coating holds up. I've been tempted to do the same with my kiln.

 

Tyler, I noticed that it needs to be in the forge until it gets hot and then can be backed out. I stopped backing it out at about 1" inside the forge - but I'll try your suggestion tomorrow and see how it goes. Thanks!

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Todd, that may be a sign your vent hole is too small, as the burner port should pull a slack yellow flame into a cold forge. It could also be that a larger vent hole is undesirable, however, as it could tilt the forge atmosphere more towards oxidation than you want. If it gets things to heat, and you feel good about how it works, don't listen to a word I say. :)

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Cool! I have that same weed burner torch already. Now to get the wool and the satanite...

 

About how large a temperature differential do you think there is between top and bottom? I was gonna go horizontal just in case.

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Todd, that may be a sign your vent hole is too small, as the burner port should pull a slack yellow flame into a cold forge. It could also be that a larger vent hole is undesirable, however, as it could tilt the forge atmosphere more towards oxidation than you want. If it gets things to heat, and you feel good about how it works, don't listen to a word I say. :)

 

Tyler, it's pretty close to "right" the way it is - it will pull a slack yellow flame in, but resists a little with a blue flame till it gets warmed up. A little tuning will get it perfect.

 

 

Cool! I have that same weed burner torch already. Now to get the wool and the satanite...

 

About how large a temperature differential do you think there is between top and bottom? I was gonna go horizontal just in case.

 

Alan, the temperature differential appears to be pretty small (remember I'm going by eye) and like I said it's actually a little hotter at the bottom - probably because of the huge burner. I wanted to go vertical to avoid sag in the workpiece, but the beauty of this design is if it doesn't work out (It looks like it will) it can be made horizontal with only minor adjustments. I'm probably going to increase the size of the slot to accommodate axe heads, which may require I close the port... we'll see.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Haya Todd, nice build. Was thinking the same as dragon c' re: volume and was wondering how this set-up would go using a 100Lb gas bottle, as opposed to a 55G drum? Plenty of length/depth but not as much girth.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have a similar HT setup. I use it vertically and the heat is pretty even, but I put in some baffles to divert the burner flame in a V-shape at the bottom. Seems to work better than the vortex method. I have no idea why, maybe I just think it does. If you can see the blade as it heats up, watch to see if the lower half of the blade heats up before the upper half, or if it heats evenly all over. It really helps to have a way to look at the blade, so I have a large port in the top I can look into.

The only problem I have is keeping it below 500 degrees for tempering.

On welding the two halves together: Have you dropped a blade in it yet?? I cut mine at the top and it sits on a refractory gasket using its own weight to seal it.

I used to drop stuff in there all the time.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Guys, sorry to get back to you late - the site didn't notify me there were more replies. <_<

 

Haya Todd, nice build. Was thinking the same as dragon c' re: volume and was wondering how this set-up would go using a 100Lb gas bottle, as opposed to a 55G drum? Plenty of length/depth but not as much girth.

 

Stewart, I know of guys who have used 100# bottles but I have no personal experience. I've heard they work fine.

 

I have a similar HT setup. I use it vertically and the heat is pretty even, but I put in some baffles to divert the burner flame in a V-shape at the bottom. Seems to work better than the vortex method. I have no idea why, maybe I just think it does. If you can see the blade as it heats up, watch to see if the lower half of the blade heats up before the upper half, or if it heats evenly all over. It really helps to have a way to look at the blade, so I have a large port in the top I can look into.

The only problem I have is keeping it below 500 degrees for tempering.

On welding the two halves together: Have you dropped a blade in it yet?? I cut mine at the top and it sits on a refractory gasket using its own weight to seal it.

I used to drop stuff in there all the time.

 

Brian, I haven't dropped a blade yet but the burner port is big enough to give pretty good access to get a dropped blade out. I temper big blades in my propane grill - I have a big Weber with a thermometer and good temp control. It'll run steady at up to 600F in hot weather, 525 in cold weather.

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I'd consider Tyler's mention of using baffles if you don't get an even heat. I built a similar forge and it was NOT an even heat.. at least for something as long as a sword. It's hard to fight the physical law of 'heat rises'.

 

Just make sure you make several ports for a thermocouple so you can see what's going on....

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  • 1 year later...
  • 1 month later...

How much Kaowool did you use in making this? I'm looking into making one, but when I've tried to do the math, my numbers seem unusually large...

Logan, I apologize for answering late. This thread is not notifying me when there's a new post.

 

I used most of a full roll. Your math is probably right.

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