Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Forge update

I've had a few more chances to use and refine my forge. There have been two major changes since the last time I blogged about it:

1. I shortened the air inlet pipe. It turns out that the pipe a few inches below the fire pot never gets warm even with extended use. There's no risk of melting the hair dryer where it's located now. The shorter pipe gets in the way less and makes the overall stability better.

2. I added a shield around the fire pot. It's just a piece of sheet metal attached with rods that I pounded into the brake rotor cooling fins. I attached it in two pieces and left some of it unattached at the back joint so that I can bend open the back part of it in case I need to heat the middle of something longer. If you look carefully in the picture you can see the opening.

Here is a picture of the Anvil I've pulled together. It took me a few weeks of searching before I found a good log to mount it on. This anvil will be left outside most of the time so I cut the angles on the log with a chain saw and put a coat of boiled linseed oil on it for longevity. Occasional boiled linseed oil on the anvil has kept the rust away as well. Note: if you use rags to apply linseed oil, be careful how you dispose of them. This is the stuff that creates heat as it dries and has been known to cause fires if the rags are left in piles or thrown in the trash.

The forge lives outside as well. One concern I have is that the oxidation seems to be accelerated at the points where the most heat is concentrated. I suspect this is because the heat burns off any protective oils that may have been on the metal. I've taken care to try to clean it up better when I stop using it. Whereas I used to just leave the coals and coke in the forge when I was done, caring for it properly means waiting for the fire pit to cool down, cleaning out the coke and dust and then wiping it with an oily rag.

The first thing I attempted to create with the forge was a pair of tongs from some rebar I had been using in my garden. They aren't pretty, but they were made completely on the new forge and work great. I drifted the holes for the rivet and locking bar. Now I won't have to use my good pliers in the fire. If these burn up I can always fix them or make a new (better) set.

One of my future projects will probably be a propane forge. It was fun to learn how to use coal, but the logistics of getting it are too difficult. I've had to import what little I have from Pennsylvania. Charcoal is an option but the briquettes don't work well. They seem to burn fine but when you disturb them the air from the forge causes them to explode into a shower of glowing hot sparks. I ruined a shirt and had tiny burn marks on my face and arms for a while. Safety glasses and gloves are a must when getting anywhere near this project. It will be easier to use common grill propane once I figure out how to do that.