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Conner Michaux

I need some advice for my current forge

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My forge is very simple and should be very effective, But do to my lack of experience i need some help. I can never get the heat that i want out of it, what can i do to make this a better forge? There is plenty of air flow, but i cant seem to get much heat out of it, which results with me waiting sometimes for 20 minutes to get my steel up to temperature.

I can never find an area of heat that will heat the steel quickly. The most heat i get is a dull red, 1200 degrees(?)  Do i need a more powerful air source to get more heat?  

I dont really know how to explain what im trying to say, ill get some pictures up here in a few minutes.

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You need the proper balance of fuel and air, and then the proper quantity.  Describe how much of each you are getting.  Size of your propane orifice, pressure, etc.  Also, do you have any flame coming out the door of your forge?  If so, what does it look like?  Is the steel scaling up really fast (assuming you can get it hot enough to)?  This info will definitely help troubleshoot.  

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Sorry, didn’t specify, here are the pics, it’s a simple coal forge I got a couple years ago. 

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The steel scales up a lot more than I think is normal. But the steel doesn’t get very hot.    I’m using charcoal as the fuel, that may be why I can’t get a ton of heat.

 

I can get it got enough to heat treat simple carbon steels, but thats with a pipe, nearly half a bag of charcoal and an hour letting it come to temperature.

im thinking a solution may be to plug up half of the holes with some sort of heat resistant refractory, so I have a smaller but more concentrated area of air and heat.  

 

I don’t think it’s working as well as it should.

 

I can’t wait to finish my paint can forge, I’ve had little experience with propane but I definitely prefer it to the coal forge,

just waiting for the funds to come In so I can get the burner.

Edited by Conner Michaux

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Try more air or block off some of your air ports to focus the heat when making smaller blades.  You might also try opening up the size of the ports in your blower vent.

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Looks like charcoal............. 

I ran that blower on a great big ol' long troft forge I built for heat treating a katana once. It got it a little too hot............,,,,,,,, :huh:.....:mellow:.....:huh: :blink: :o are those kingsford briquettes??? 

Have you tried the natural oak charcoal you can get from Walmart? It might be called royal oak. I got a bag outside. It really should be hot enough. 

 

You got red clay over there? 

 

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I will assume you're using lump charcoal? Not briquettes? If not, I'll repeat the mantra; charcoal briquettes are far less than ideal for forging, they are designed to last long and not get too hot, head over to your local hardware store, or Walmart, and get lump charcoal. Burns much hotter. 

 

Big problem is that it's a coal forge. Designed to burn coal. 

 

Coal likes air pressure, charcoal likes air volume. Open up your air flow a little and I bet you will see better results. It looks a bit restricted for charcoal. 

 

Also, that steel frame is acting as a heat sink. Try to clay the inside if you can, it will help divert heat in the proper direction. 

Edited by Will W.
Typo

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And make sure you blow the ash out of the pipe. Make sure the caps on the pipe. 

 

Like he said, clay will get you some more heat, but unfortunately the angle is a little too acute for too much clay. However, if you widen the slot or drill holes to get more air you can then build the clay up. Also, you dont need that much length. Throw some clay over most of that slit. Remove clay for those longer heat treatment projects ;)

 

Get some of that ash and mix it into red clay with some silica sand. You want it still to be clay like. I would mix it course and crumbly and add more clay until its workable. 

 

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Yeah I’m using charcoal, I’ve heard great thing about royal oak lump. I have looked everywhere, Walmart, local grocery store, tractor supply, no royal oak. And I’ve looked on amazon but it’s pretty expensive.

tractor supply sells pea size bituminous coal, (or is it anthracite?)would that be okay?  I have the air full blast every minute the forge is burning. I’ll get some clay and cover the sides and patch some of the air slit. 

 

I taped up the end end of the pipe and it’s working well. 

 

And yes yes they are kings ford briquettes.... I’ve found cowboy lump  charcoal, but it sparks like crazy and it’s way to painful and hot to grab steel out of the forge. Kingsford is the best I can find right now... really hope I can get real coal soon.

Edited by Conner Michaux

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Lowes carries a brand called Cowboy charcoal. It's pretty decent. Some of it is in really big chunks, but it's easily broken up. Check there if you havent already. 

 

Open up that slit. I recommend drilling holes like Zeb said. Maybe a 1/2 inch hole every 1.5 or 2 inches. That should be priority #1 in my opinion, if you want to continue using charcoal.

 

Are you sure it's not anthracite that tractor supply has? It would be odd of them to carry bituminous, I'm not saying it's impossible, just odd. 

 

I tried anthracite coal when I first started smithing, and it was nothing but a sulfur smoke filled pain in the rear. I switched to charcoal and never looked back. 

 

Have you looked into making a charcoal retort? So you can make your own charcoal? It's actually really easy. 

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I’m not sure how to make charcoal, if it needs a big burn area I can’t do it, I don’t have a huge backyard. My forging area is in the are of my backyard covered in gravel, but we’ve tried doing a few burn piles but it’s dangerously close to the fence, for some reason the people that designed the subdivision though it would be an excellent idea to make the fences plastic.. :huh:

 

Edit   Nor do I have a big steel drum, and I don’t have access to a large amount of hardwood. 

Edited by Conner Michaux

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As many do. Its preferable that the fence melt and not burn, I assume. 

 

It doesn't take a big area. My whole retort setup is probably 4'x4'. They are smoky and noisy and hot (depending on design) so that's a consideration. 

 

Also should have added, on top of opening that airflow being a priority, shortening the forge with clay, also like Zeb recommended, would be a big help. Why burn more fuel than you need to, ya know? No sense in your hot spot being way larger than your steel is. 

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I'm still a noob so keep that in mind but here's my two cents.

 

Stay away from the tractor supply coal. It's Anthracite and can be extremely difficult to use. Before i started forging i read everything i could on using anthracite, forums, youtube, everything google would bring up. Thinking i would have no problems i bought 8 bags. ( it's a seasonal product here so i wanted to stock up) no matter how i shaped my JABOD, how much air i gave it, or how small i broke up the "nut" sized pieces i could never get it to work.

 

I would stay away from the birquettes as well. Stick with hardwood lump charcoal. any brand. I usually get whatever is cheapest, royal oak is a real good one though. You can also make your own.

 

Right now i have three JABOD forges. two are small, but i just built a longer one for heat treating that is rather similar to yours. when i made it i thought about doing the slits in the tuyere but decided to drill holes in it instead.My thinking was that with the slits, air would too easily pour out of the beginning of the tuyere and would be too weak at the end.  I thought if i went with the holes a small amount of pressure would build in the tuyere ensuring every hole got an equal amount of airflow.  I don't know if my thinking on that is right or wrong but so far the forge has worked great. I used it just last night to anneal some old files and rasps. The steel got an equal heat throughout and it didn't take long at all to get to forging temps.

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This weekend I'll show you another charcoal forge design too. I use this type last time I refined remelted mildsteel bloom. You've got the blower for it. That's really all you need. Reaches welding heat easily. 

 

You do need to figure out a better charcoal situation. I'm gonna try to document some stuff for you this weekend. 

 

 

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I use Cowboy and Royal Oak brands in my charcoal forge to excellent effect, Welding heat no problem.  The sparks go away pretty quick after each loading, and small burns from working is just part of the gig. 

For yours, I would say close off a good portion of that pipe, since you cant really work more then 4-6 inches of hot steel per heat, there is no reason to try and heat more then that while doing the hitty smacky whacky work.   I would say a 6-8 inch length of it that is getting hot and the rest of the forge space to preload charcoal to rake in as you need it.  And at the section you want to get hot, add a few more holes to the pipe. my blower pipe ( side blown ) is a 2 inch diameter pipe. I was using a 1 inch pipe and I just wasnt getting enough airflow. 

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Alright, can I use refractory cement instead of clay to cover the sides and airflow holes? 

https://www.amazon.com/Rutland-610-Refractory-Cement-64/dp/B008BM8TUC/ref=mp_s_a_1_4?keywords=refractory+cement&qid=1571347938&sprefix=refracory+cement&sr=8-4

 

I’m just not sure where I’ll get red clay. 

Edited by Conner Michaux

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Dude.   Just get the cheapest bag of unscented kitty litter at the store and mix it with enough water to make a paste.   Note this is for solid fuel only!  Do not attempt with propane. B)

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Also note!  Don't get the clumping litter,  just plain clay.  It's bentonite clay, which is a good fireclay.

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Could I get a link to that stuff? I cant seem to find it.

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Thanks!     I have fallen down the rabbit hole of making forges, I’ve started planning to build another two after I finish modifying this one.    I must ask, what is an appropriate number of forges to have in a shop? :P

Edited by Conner Michaux

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I have 4 forges and I'm going to make a more permanent coal forge to be able to run it inside. Right now I just have a small champion "farm" forge. (if that's even the correct term)?

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So far I have 2 forges. But I'll make a ground forge now and then. For welding I go for a japanese style forge. For heat treating long stuff I've just went with a trench and a pipe just like what you have there. I'd like to build another gas for swords and a replacement for my Chile forge. I just dont like how the chile is set up. No swirl, high ceiling, hot-spots, slow to heat. 

I found a pic of the same type of coal/charcoal forge I was running before (just like what you have) I lined it with fire bricks and cut the bricks at an angle with a masonry wheel on a grinder. I think it was daylight out when I took this. My old cell phone darkened everything in the presence of really bright stuff IIRC. Screenshot_20191014-222822_Samsung Internet.jpg

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And here I was hoping I could clay my forge AND get it to smell like lemon pledge :lol:

  • Haha 3

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