Before today, I’ve never forged anything (other than maybe my wife’s signature:-D). I don’t have a forge, nor an anvil. I was in the “shop” that isn’t really a shop today and had a fire going in the barrel stove when I got a crazy idea to stick an old leaf spring in it, just to see how hot it would get. Well, it got pretty hot - I’m burning mostly kiln dried oak scrap from a local flooring mill.
So like I said, I have no anvil, but I do have a chunk of steel I got from an old tool and die shop which weighs a few pounds, so I put it on a stump and took out the leaf spring and started banging on it. To my surprise, it started to change shape. I thinned out one side of it. Then I was thinking, maybe I should see if I can make a knife, because I’m sure that’s what every carver thinks when he gets a yellow-hot piece of steel in his hands... The leaf spring was too big for anything but a machete, so I had to cut it. Fortunately my angle grinder was able to split it in half and separate it from the rest of the leaf spring. But now I had two knife-size pieces and with no blacksmith tongs, how am I going to get them in and out of the coals? Ah, I’ll weld a piece of rebar to them! Well, as soon as I started hammering, the weld broke (I’m not much of a welder). I put it all aside and left for a few hours.
When I came back, I had an epiphany! I loaded up the stove with wood because I had more work to do... not the forging work, the actual work I was supposed to be doing. The stove got roaring again and when I went to close the sliding draft door at the stove bottom, I thought, man it’s really hot right inside those slots where lots of air is whooshing in. Then it occurred to me that the knife-size pieces would fit in the draft slots. Damn they get hot fast that way.
An open forge requires a bellows to blow air across the coals to increase the heat. The barrel stove has constant air flow across the coals due to the draft of the chimney.
With four slots in the draft door, I can have four pieces of metal going at the same time!
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