Portable Wooden Forge

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Skevmeister
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Portable Wooden Forge

Post by Skevmeister »

Hello Peeps,

I need to locate bits and peices to make a portable wooden forge, mainly the fire clay, and a bit of advice on the best wood to use for this.

Skev
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Annie C
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Post by Annie C »

Apologies if I have the wrong end of the stick here, knowing nothing about forging..but potclays,( www.potclays.co.uk) if memory serves correct, do several fireclays, I think that they are workable up to cone 11...

With ref to your other post awhile ago,..Hows the potters wheel coming on, I'd be really interested in seeing the resuts, (and having a go if poss?) :)

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Dickie
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Post by Dickie »

Skev,

If you're at BII this weekend, trip on over to the Woodville encampment and ask for Michael, he may just have what you want...
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Post by Thomas Hayman »

POsted a link on the bick iron thread. You do know there is no evidence for a 'field' forge? at least, not for the 15th century.

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Post by craig1459 »

That's OK Thomas we've got our own castle :D
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Jack the dodgy builder
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Post by Jack the dodgy builder »

What about "The forge stuff" in the Burgundian Artillery train list of 1475 ?

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Post by Thomas Hayman »

I'd love to see the list. is it a small portable forge for making small itmes or a large smithy type setup for repairing large items?

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Post by Jack the dodgy builder »

The list should be here http://www.medievalproductions.nl/compa ... stics.html

with a bit of luck

I will let you draw your own conclusions but yes seems to be the answer.

They had a portable windmill! so field forges seems a easy one to me.

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Post by Gobae »

There are many possibilities some of which don't require clay at all. It all depends on what concessions you are willing to make.

Typically the wooden forge is nothing more than a sandbox on legs. The sand (or sometimes bricks) simply insulates the box from burning.

But to answer your question....

Do you plan on making it portable?
Will you be burning charcoal or soft coal?
How often will it be used?
Are you willing to do regular maintenance, or do you want to "pull it out, dust it off and use it"?
How "inaccurate" are you willing to allow it?

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Post by Skevmeister »

Dickie not going BII have work to do. :(

Thomas, as Craig says we have our own Castle to play in so I want to have it for the gigs we do there and mainly have all my set-up like a armoury. As to how big, a fair size but it needs to be portable as well. SO I dont really now yet.

Gobae,

Portable - Yes
Fuel - Probably Charcoal
Usage - In Frequently
Regular Maintenance - Accepatble
I'd like it to be a fair representation of one and this is something that I am still looking into. So any advice or guidance on periods that I would use one, would be helpful.

Skev
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Gobae
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Post by Gobae »

Here's a pic of basically what you're looking for.

Image

Image

This is a 16th century replica (Dutch IIRC) built by a gentleman name Robert deLisle.

This unit is "luggable", and Bob does bring it around from place to place. The great double lung bellows pull out from the tuyere and can be ported seperately.

The actual "fire box area" is lined with basic brick on top of (and surrounded by) a layer of sand. Neither fire brick, nor special clay is used. Yes, fire brick may be more durable, but if you don't mind changing the bricks once every 10 years they're perfectly servicable.

I personally perfer using bricks over clay for the firebox area. Both will need to be replaced after a time, but the bricks are faster and easier to deal with. If you want to use clay I can expound on working it.

I don't recall if Bob mentioned having documentation for the post vice being mounted that way or not. I'd think he basically pulled a "practical blacksmith" since detailed mobile forge info is so scant.

I have photos of a reproduction Norse box forge too, but I'd have to see if I can find them. There are many similarities, but the Norse forge is smaller (primarily because it uses twinned bellows not a double-lung) and is truely portable. But, you do need a "bellows boy" to get any work done on with it.

Anyway, let me know if you have any additional questions.

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Post by craig1459 »

That looks really good!

I can see a new LH role for Matthew and Alexander :lol:
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Post by WhiteWolf »

craig1459 wrote:That's OK Thomas we've got our own castle :D
now thats just showing off :wink:

WW 8)

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Post by Skevmeister »

Annie C wrote:
With ref to your other post awhile ago,..Hows the potters wheel coming on, I'd be really interested in seeing the resuts, (and having a go if poss?) :)
Still researching it, but hopefully should have a prototype ready for next year.

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Post by Skevmeister »

That is Definately the thing I am looking for but you say 16th Century, we do mid14th to early 15th century, do you reckon, they would have had something like this.

But I do like that very much.
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Post by craig1459 »

Skevmeister wrote:That is Definately the thing I am looking for but you say 16th Century, we do mid14th to early 15th century, do you reckon, they would have had something like this.

But I do like that very much.
It's not too dissimilar to Dave Moss's - box on stand with bellows operated with a pole by child/newbie
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Post by guthrie »

Dave Moss? Who's he?
I've seen the people, whose name I can never remember, (Though I'd recognise them easily enough) at Fed events who have a portable forge. Double action bellows as well IIRC.

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Post by craig1459 »

guthrie wrote:Dave Moss? Who's he?
I've seen the people, whose name I can never remember, (Though I'd recognise them easily enough) at Fed events who have a portable forge. Double action bellows as well IIRC.
He made the Savile Household forge (also makes bows and crossbows for groups like Conquest) That's possibly the one you are thinking of, if not then it'll be the Ferrers who also have a forge
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Post by guthrie »

Yes, its the ferres I'm thinking of. NOt sure I've seen the SAvilles forge though.

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Post by Skevmeister »

Gobae,

1.) What sort of bricks do you use and do they need to be sealed together in any particular way?
2.) If you could expand on what you know about using clay
3.) Any help on how to design the bellows and the tuyere?

Skev

P.S Thanks to all of you for the help so far.
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Post by guthrie »

For bellows, I understand that this chap has written a wee article about them, and knows a lot about stuff:
http://www.barometerworld.co.uk/jack/

I myself am getting them made bya jack of all trades up here in edinburgh, who apparently has made bellows before.

Failing that, there will be people at Berkeley who have bellows of some kind, I just cannot recall exactly who, but i shall be on the lookout for them, and maybe you can keep your eyes open as well.

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Post by Gobae »

I went back through a gallery of woodcuts/drawings from the early 15th Century and all of the forges shown are full brick hearths you'd expect to find in a well appointed city smithy of that era. (http://homepage.univie.ac.at/rudolf.koc ... mendel.htm) Also, interesting is (at least on quick examination) the bellows don't seem to have been double lung, just large singles; sometimes twinned, usually not. Now as with all drawings sometimes the artist just doesn't include detail that gives enough clues to draw a conclusion. So check out the above link and see what you think.

Do *I* think something like that wooden forge might have been used in the 14th. Sure. Especially in a rural area, where time or materials might not have been available to construct a brick or stone hearth. And the mere fact that the Artillery Train list shows them dragging around parts for a BRIDGE, indicates "luggable" wasn't necessarily a problem. Imagine how they'd love a modern farrier's forge. Anyway, I know there's other pictures of metalworking from that general time frame; so I'll keep poking around and see if I see any wooden forges.

Any modern solid, non-glazed brick will work fine, over here they are known as "Pavers". Or you can scavange; in our area we recently had a series of fires in some abandoned late 1800's mill factories. Once the wrecking crews knocked down what was left, I asked to have some of the brick. It's nothing special and it's working fine.

No motar is needed, instead lay out a bed of sand about 1" deep and arrange the bricks (1 layer) in any pattern you like under and in front of the tuyere. This area should be a bit larger than the size of the working fire you anticipate using. Add more sand until it's the roughly same height as the bricks and put some on top of the bricks too. Then take a small broom and sweep the sand back and forth across the brick area. The sand will fall into the gaps and fill them in. Repeat putting sand on top and sweeping in until the gaps are full. And feel free to do the same anytime in the future if gaps show up. The sand is superior to motar in this application because as the bricks expand and contract from the heat, you can simply add more sand and sweep before each use. Finally, add a layer of brick around the edge of the lower course just put in and back fill with some sand. This upper course on the perimeter creates a little "bowl" for your coals. As you use the forge you may find that some bricks from the upper section need to be moved as you work on stuff. No problem, since stuff isn't mortared in place you can change the "bowl" shape to suit your preferences.

If you are going to use clay, I'd be tempted to put down a layer of dirt, not sand. Something that will pack and give you a decently firm surface to make the clay fire bowl on. You could go all clay, but you would need a fair amount. Remember, the sand/dirt acts as an insulator for the fire pot, so you need to have enough clay so you don't burn through the wooden forge bottom. Once you've shaped the clay fire pot, let it air dry. If any cracks develop take an old paint brush "slip" the crack and stuff some soft clay in it. (BTW 'slip' is a thin clay slurry). Repeat as necessary. Once the fire pot is dry, light a small wood fire on it. If no more cracks appear, burn the wood with bellows blast. If no cracks appear, go for a real forge fire with charcoal and blast. If you get cracks at any point 'slip' and fill (once cooled).

The tuyere is nothing more than a tapering pipe running from the bellows nozzle to the fire. As long as it's reasonably thick walled it'll last for some time; say 3/16" or greater wall thickness. The tuyere can be made from clay, iron, or copper/brass. Copper and brass work because under normal forging conditions they conduct enough heat away from the fire end that they don't melt much. In fact there evidence the Norse used copper tuyeres to SMELT iron.

Here's a decent site on double lung bellows. http://www.emainc.com/radnor/bellows.htm

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Post by craig1459 »

Here's a smith at work from the Hausbuch, amongst other activities

Skev
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Post by Gobae »

As promised here are the photos of the Norse Sand Forge. The forge was reconstructed by Darrell Markewitz of Wareham Forge, using documented evidence. http://www.warehamforge.ca/

Image

Image

Image

Image

I have not had any luck finding images of a portable set (or components that might be used that way) in the time period you're talking about though.

Keep us posted with your decision and progress.

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