quick question on burning wood in a forge

Discussion in 'New to Knifemaking' started by soundmind, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. soundmind

    soundmind Well-Known Member

    Propane is expensive right now so I've been throwing around the idea of building a wood fired forge. I've been keeping all my small birch cut-offs (2x2x2) and drying them for when I make one.
    My question is: Does burning green wood in a forge create problems like oxygen and scale build up? I know people who burn green alder and green birch in their stoves but should I go with only seasoned wood for a forge? Just for the fact it produces more heat anyway?
     
  2. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    I can only offer insight based on my own experiences... I had the same idea when I started out, and it didn't matter whether the wood was "wet" or "dry".....nor did it make any significant difference by using "hard" or "soft" woods. There just isn't enough heat to do much. That beings said, rather then trying to burn wood....turn the wood into charcoal. Then you've got something!

    Way back when I first began this journey, I was living in Arkansas..... I would go to the local Piggly Wiggly grocery store, and they would give me all their old pallets (the majority were oak or ash, and hardwood charcoal work WAY better then charcoal made from "soft" woods). I'd saw the pallets into pieces that would fit into a steel 55 gal drum, and light it on fire, and let it burn everything to "charcoal"..... Once it was ready, I'd drop the lid on the drum, turn it over, and shovel some dirt around it to smother everything, and leave it overnight. Next day I'd dump it out on a sheet of plywood, use a magnet to pick up all the nails, and I had about a days worth of charcoal for the forge. Very clean, high heat forge fuel. The big drawback with charcoal in a forge is that you use A LOT of it.

    You're the only one who can say whether making charcoal is worth your time/effort, but I can tell you that trying to forge with straight "wood", no matter what type, is a loosing proposition. At least when compared to charcoal, coal, or propane.
     
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  3. soundmind

    soundmind Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the answer and the help Ed. I was hoping to hear from someone with experience experimenting with wood.

    I have Goddard's two books and he mentioned turning coal to coke before trying to use it. I was going to try the same with the wood I've put up. Thanks for confirming that. What I have is chunks of dry birch. But I could see how it generally wouldn't matter what kind of wood you were using as long as you turned it into charcoal first. Probably starts easier, too. When I do it I'll probably follow something similar to your process. But I'm glad I asked about it first because I would have put it out with water instead of just smothering it. Smothering it out sounds better.

    It also helps to know that it's going to take more wood than I expected. Seems like it's worth it, though. The forge will be a good learning-to-weld project and if it works well, then I might be able to at least forge knives. I don't expect it to be hot enough to weld with? and possibly save my propane for welding. We'll see. Thanks again for the advice.
     
  4. WY_Not

    WY_Not Well-Known Member

    Any chance there is a Tractor Supply (TSC) near you? They should be getting in their bags of coal, rice and nut size, for the winter heating season. From what I've read a number of other places, that stuff actually works pretty well in a coal forge and the price is good. 40lb bags for about $6 or so.
     
  5. soundmind

    soundmind Well-Known Member

    I'm off the road system but we have a post office and I can order from anywhere that ships. I searched tractor supply and found one in Seattle area. It's probably $35-40/ bag by the time it's landed here. I'll keep it in mind and look into it some more. $6.00 a bag sounds good as a base price; I didn't know coal was inexpensive.
     

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