Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gas or Coal Forge - Decisions

While I am waiting on some information about the bill of materials for my smithy structure, I am contemplating a choice between a two burner gas forge or a traditional coal forge. There are good arguments for and against both.

A coal forge is certainly more traditional. I have some experience working with a coal forge, and I found I like it. The scale (oxidized flakes) that form on the working piece are easier to remove, and coal is cheap fuel. Unfortunately, a coal forge is more expensive up front, the fire takes longer to get started, and most importantly for my concerns, coal makes a lot of smoke, especially at start-up. I want to be a good neighbor and not annoy or choke everyone out. Also, a coal forge may be considered an 'open fire' legally (even though it really isn't). I don't really want to deal with that.

A gas forge is less expensive up front. It does not make stinky smoke (or so I am told). It reaches heat faster. Less floor space is used with a gas forge. Downside - the scale is tougher to remove. The gas is more expensive per hour to operate, but I can mitigate that a bit. And if there is a leak, well... boom.

I think, based on these points, that I may go with a gas forge until I can set up shop in a place that can handle the 'downsides' of a coal forge.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Blacksmiths Journal, Smithy Construction

A couple of things to comment on today.

Firstly, I have been referred to a publication called the Blacksmiths Journal. Their website is, unsurprisingly, www.blacksmithsjournal.com. I've signed up for their yearly subscription, which is $40US per year. They now distribute only via PDF* file - no paper copies anymore. This is fine with me, as I was able to score some back issues (at $4 each) instantly. I can print them out if I really feel like it. The Journal has articles on a number of various blacksmithing skills, from welding how-to-do to layout design and more. After I read a few old and current issues I will give you my impressions. *PDFs are files in Adobe Acrobat format. The official Acrobat Reader is free, and cn be downloaded from Adobe. Alternative, also-free readers can be googled.

Secondly - the Smithy. The Smithy is the shop itself, not the blacksmith, as I had thought before getting involved. I am really torn on how to proceed with building my smithy. I have seen cheap metal sheds and expensive prebuilt wood structures. On the one hand, metal is quick and easy. On the downside... snow tends to cave them in, and frankly... ugly. I need to figure out what I am going to do quickly - the snow here is melting and I am getting antsy. *sigh* Maybe I will just make my own stickbuilt, rather than a prebuilt. Decisions, decisions...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

It Begins!

Welcome to my blog! I am 'RedFoxSmith', someone who has become very interested in blacksmithing. The extent of my experience thus far is a three day seminar that I attended on 2008. That's about it. I am a complete n00b, in the parlance of internet-speak. With this blog I will relate my progress, show off some of my work, and tell you what I am thinking along the way. I may not be the best writer, or even a GOOD one, but I do hope to communicate somewhat coherently about my passion.

Now that the major holidays are over, I have begun acquiring the tools I need to start blacksmithing at home. My first big project will be construction of the smithy itself. Right now there is snow on the ground and I can't do much of anything but tell you where I am at. I am thinking about modifying one of those metal storage sheds you can buy. I'll put some foam insulation board on the walls and ceiling, pavers on the ground for a solid floor. I still need an anvil, forge and some other big parts anyway. Can't wait for the snow to leave and the ground to thaw so I can get started.

Wish me luck! I'll report back next time and let you know my progress.