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Conner Michaux

How do you make coke for a coal forge?. And what is the difference between coke and coal?

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I want to learn how to make coke for a coal forge that was given to me today. But I have no idea how.

Thanks, conner

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Coke is coal with the impurities like sulphur and whatnot burned out leaving just the carbon to be burned. The thick yellow smoke when  you first add coal is all that nasty stuff and it will disappear when the clean Coke is burning. You're making Coke constantly when you add coal to a fire. 

Just make a fire like you normally would, newspaper and kindling, and once that is going slide some coal around the fire. Have your air on low now and if you have coal fines in the bottom off your bucket sprinkle some on top of the ball of flame. Wait until most of the bad stuff is burned out before heating steel.

When you add coal to the fire, add it to the sides so that the heat can start eliminating the impurities and you don't have to wait as long for it to convert. 

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Coke is to coal what charcoal is to wood, just carbon with all the other stuff burned out.  Industrial coke is made in ovens or kilns just like charcoal.  Blacksmiths make coke by just starting a coal fire and letting it turn to coke in the forge.  Once you have that, (you'll know because it stops producing thick clouds of smoke) you're ready to forge.  As you work, keep mounding up coal around the outer edges of the fire, and it will turn to coke as you go.  If you think ahead, you will then always have a supply of coke to start the next fire with.  

Good smithing coal leaves very little ash.  You will have coke and clinker at the end of your forging session.  Clinker is the stuff that was in the coal that was not carbon and not volatile, mixed with forge scale.  It is silvery and heavy.  Coke is grayish and light, and very porous.

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You're gonna need a good wood fire in that forge first. Add the coal slow and spread it out as it starts to burn. Don't choke it out by adding too much too fast or you'll smother it.

It's kind of a weird design, and has special needs but you'll get the hang of it. 

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Okay, do you think that the fire department will show up if they see thick clouds of black smoke in the air?

  • Haha 1

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It shouldnt smoke much if you keep it burning good. Start with newspaper, then twigs, then bigger twigs, sticks, then start to add coal. 

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So, you just gotta keep it burning hot. Don't choke it out and be patient. Put the air on a little once you've got sticks burning. Increase the airflow as needed. Once it's burning good it won't smoke much. 

But be careful. Its wet out and if all your kindling is wet there may be smoke. 

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And your coal smoke will be yellowish greeny white when you have the air on, black when it's off.  the smell is what freaks people out.  Don't worry about it, though!  It's fun.

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Posted (edited)

Okay, so I light some newspaper, then I put some small twigs in, then I put sticks then bigger sticks then coal right?

And how will I know that coke is being made?

Edited by Conner Michaux

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Yes. The more kindling you have, the better the coal will catch.

And you'll probably just have to play with it a little bit to get a feel for it. Is your dad home, or anyone who knows how to light a good campfire? 

It may be best to have them help you. 

Your a smart kid though. I got faith in you.

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Posted (edited)

Ohhhh I know how to light a nice fire ..;) 

(And it does not include Throwing a match on gasoline)

Edited by Conner Michaux

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Aww shoot its about to start raining again..

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Posted (edited)

Ahh, another coal/coke burner out there!  Your going to have some fun.  Learning to tend a coke fire will be a continual learning experience.  Almost every guy that likes to work in coke, likes to build their fires in different ways.  If you want to get really technical about it, different ways of building your fire can be beneficial for different processes. But in realty, almost any fire you build can do anything you want. The fire will just act differently depending on how you feed it and treat it.  Just make sure you build that fire up out of the fire pot, when you have the fire down in the pot and you put your work in there, you find all kinds of muck. 

 

 

fire department, hmm, yeah I have a town ordinance that allows no open fires, period.  My neighbor was fined for a 'camp fire' last year.  I would say to take some precautions.  Work well away from structures (I'm guessing your outdoors) probably not a bad idea to wet down the area that your working in, and keep a hose handy.  Depending on how big your fire is, it probably won't draw too much attention.  If the fire department shows up, just explain what your doing and how your going about it safely.  Ask them if there are other precautions you can take if they allow you to work.  

 

Edited by Daniel W

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A coal fire in a forge is bit different than a "camp fire" on the ground.  I would contact the fire department and explain what you have in mind.  Around where I live I think that I might have a problem burning coal within the city limits so I would definitely check before heading in the direction of a coal/coak forge.

Doug

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Here's a photo of what he's working with fellas. Now, I wasnt a coal user for long at all and I quit using it about 2 years ago. I've only been at this for 4or 5 years so I'm no expert. One thing I noted was that the whole forge needs coal in it to work. Now you can confine the fire to one end or the other but if coal isn't over the whole air inlet, it won't have enough air pressure at the fire. 

It's something you've just gotta figure out. It does work really good for everything from heat treatment to forging long objects (like knives). It gets hot enough to weld as well but I only ever welded in it once. 

20180731_202332.jpg

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That's a beast!

Sorry I was trained by a guy that had a nick name of 'Big Chief Little Fire.' I've found that, you don't need a very big fire to do almost anything you want with coal.  You can make a very nice compact blow torch of a fire, or you can make a massive pool of heat.  

Coal forges also have the greatest advantage in that, they make anything.  You can make the biggest thing you want in a coal forge, from knife to sword to elaborate elements of architectural stuff.  It's disadvantage is how fast it can burn steel. 

 

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Yep, that's gonna be a coal hog and a producer of copious heat!  You might want to block off all of those slots, then in the very center make four new slots 1/2" wide and 1" apart.  That's what I'd do to it, anyway.  

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If you have any problems with it, bring it back and we can modify it. 

I actually built this forge recently. but modeled it after my old forge that I gave to another beginner. So, when I say "I used it" I'm talking about the old one that this one was recreated from. It always worked fine for me. This design was originally based off of one my best freind built years ago out of an oval pail from tractor supply that he ran a pipe through and filled with clay.

But if you come across any issues just let me know. We can easily modify it as needed :)

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It's a good design for charcoal, which is what the Tim Lively washtub forge it is based on was meant for.  It's just not ideal for coal.  It will indeed work, though!

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I wish I had pics of my second forge. I had an old steel hot water tank that had been split lengthwise and turned into a big bbq. On one end were the holes for the plumbing. I used hard fire brick to block that end and blew air in the plumbing holes with a small squirrel cage fan. I only used charcoal since we still used it as a bbq. I told the wife that it was a "charcoal starter" design. "Oh I didn't think about it, but I think I could use it as a forge" 

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On 8/3/2018 at 1:49 PM, Conner Michaux said:

Okay, do you think that the fire department will show up if they see thick clouds of black smoke in the air?

As long as there isn't a Burn Ban in your area it should be good.  How ever if there is a Burn Ban in effect you wont be able to burn wood.  That is something I had to consider when I tried a coal forge.  That didn't work out to well for me lol so I switched up to propane.  So just check the weather reports and what not.  But other than that one stipulation you should be good.

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1 hour ago, Vern Wimmer said:

...I told the wife that it was a "charcoal starter" design. "Oh I didn't think about it, but I think I could use it as a forge" 

You and I should never let our wives meet...

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Hahaha. That was one "wifetime" ago. The later model thinks things like that are "cool"

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6 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

It's a good design for charcoal, which is what the Tim Lively washtub forge it is based on was meant for.  It's just not ideal for coal.  It will indeed work, though!

I thought he said he got the idea off somebody else, but didn't recall who!

Oh well, use it and abuse it with whatever you can burn in it. Its not like you can hurt it! Its enough forge to be dangerous with whatever you put in it, and you can't beat the price! :lol:

I would be curiouse to see it burn charcoal now... I may have to build another :ph34r:

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