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The Forge Fire

The forge fire is the heart of the blacksmith's shop. It is where all work begins, and were a fair amount of it ends. A well built and maintained forge fire will supply all the heat you need to shape iron and steel into any shape you would like. A bad fire will give you nothing but trouble.

Building The Fire

Before you can forge iron first you need to build a fire.

Step #1: Thoroughly clean out your fire box. Removing all debris form the last fire.

Step #2: Once the firebox is clean, make a ring of fresh coal around the air grate(tuyere) of your forge. Place a few large lumps of coal on top of the grate.

Step #3: Crumple newspaper on top of the lumps in the center of the ring.

Step #4: Put some kindling wood on top of the paper and light the paper.

Step #5: Once the paper is burning, slowly turn on the air supply until the kindling lights.

Step #6: Once the wood is burning well add some additional green (unburned) coal to the fire. Slowly turn up the air until the coal ignites. You can tell when the coal has started by appearance of yellow smoke, and a sweet, pleasant smell.

Step #7: Add more green coal until the fire is big as you need it to be.

Step #8: While the fire is developing, occasionally sprinkle it with a little bit of water to help remove the impurities from the fuel. Be careful not to use to much water or the fire could go out. Once the fire is going you can dampen the coal before adding it to the fire.

Tending the fire.

You will need to break up the coal in the forge because it has a tendency to congeal into a solid mass while burning. Turn the Fire over in the forge and break it up into thumb sized pieces.

As the impurities burn out the green coal reduces down into coke. This is when the fire burns at it's best, but as the fire continues to burn it will slowly get dirtier and go out. To keep the fire burning you must add more coal and remove 'clinkers'.

Clinkers are dark, glassy lumps of residue that form it the fire while forging. They are be extremely irritating because they stick to hot metal. Clinkers can not be prevented, so they must be properly dealt with.

Clinkers form at the bottom of the fire around the air grate. If clinkers build up they can clog the air supply. The clinkers must be removed as soon as you suspect they have formed. If the air blast has been cut down or glassy globs are stuck on the metal clean the fire.

You can tell a clinker by it's glossy luster and darker color. Remove them with the poker or fire tongs. If left in clinkers will get imbedded into the surface of your work, cause welds to fail, and just make things nasty in general. With a little practice removing clinkers becomes easy.

Add wet coal around the edges of the fire away from the working area. As the coal burns clean rake it into the working area. Do not add green coal directly into the work area, this will dump all the impurities from the green coal into the fire you just burned clean.

Putting Out The Fire

WARNING:Never dump water directly into a forge fire unless there is an emergency. Doing so will cause the grate or possibly the whole fire box to crack or shatter, create lots of scalding steam, short out any electricity, and make refractory material explode.

To properly put out a forge fire, turn off the air, open the ash dump (to prevent any gas build up), and clear away any flammable items. The fire will burn down in a few minutes. It will still be hot enough to burn, so don't touch it. Leave it alone and it will extinguish itself.

After the the forge is completely shut down, Shovel the coal and ash into a water filled trash can, stir it well to be sure that all the hot material is extinguished.

Data Loom Design, Inc. Copyright© 2010 Updated: 4/10/2016