Forge using wood?

I'm building a brake drum forge, and coal obviously is the fuel of choice. I understand some guys use lump charcoal which they say works well, because anthracite or bituminous coal is hard to come by in some places-- like where I live. Has anyone used just plain, good old fashioned wood? Or has anyone tried wood pellets? In my area, pellets are 10% of the price of either coal or lump charcoal. I have hundreds of trees on my ranch and I use wood for heating my log cabin. With a good air supply, will Douglas fir, other conifers, or even pellets get hot enough for forging? I'm sure wood was used in bygone times in places where there was no coal, but is it a good forging fuel? Does anyone have experience (good or bad) forging with wood? THANKS!!

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Toga_Dan11 months ago

if you are just doing a small project, wood is OK. It'll take a while to build up a bed of coals. And once you start blowing air on em, they'll burn up fairly soon. But it works.

Jack A Lopez11 months ago

There are a number of instructables here on the subject of making charcoal from wood.

I thought this one was kind of pretty,

I've seen it before, but I found it just now via a let's make search for, "charcoal retort", here:

Hey checking Google or existing Instructables is against the rules! ;)
So please don't do that as otherwise too many newbies here will do the same and suddenly we have no questions to answer anymore.....

HenryFrapp (author)  Downunder35m11 months ago

Don't worry, Downunder, I have lots of questions. Like-- do you guys really drive on the wrong side of the road?? G'day!

No, of course we drive on the "right" side of the road.
It only looks wrong because we need to use a lot of suction so we won't fall of the globe ;)

HenryFrapp (author)  Downunder35m11 months ago

THAT explains it. I always wondered why you guys didn't go flying off towards the Southern Cross. Yours is one of only about 3 countries outside of the U.S. I would very much like to visit, Ireland and maybe Italy being the others. Personally, I think Aussies rock.

I don't have experience with using wood, but I have seen videos of people using wood. They had a hand operated blower attached to it so it would get hot enough. I'm not sure if it would get hot enough for forge welding, but i'm sure it would be more than good for forging. Check out wranglerstar videos on youtube. He uses a wood forge.

HenryFrapp (author)  cerberustugowar11 months ago
Cool! Thanks for the link!

best of luck and if you document it, make sure to make an instructable! always nice seeing projects or even if you showed different temperatures you could get to with different wood, amounts of air, amount burnered, etc

HenryFrapp (author)  cerberustugowar11 months ago
Thanks, 'tugowar! I watched the video, and he did indeed get his forge hot enough to bend metal. Pretty neat. I'm going to try it.
Toga_Dan11 months ago

for charcoal, I burn wood in a bbq qrill. When sufficiently burned, spray a very small amount of water on it and apply a fairly airtight lid. Steam is enough to put fire out, and it doesn't stay damp.

Check out these videos

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don't forget to put holes in the lid.

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steveastrouk11 months ago

making charcoal isn't actually that hard, having enough wood IS....

HenryFrapp (author)  steveastrouk11 months ago

I have 20 acres of tall pines, so I have plenty of wood, but maybe that's the key-- I need to learn how to make charcoal! Thanks for the response!

It is actually not that hard at all.
Comes down to making a nice and well sorted pile, covering it with some clay (or using a big clay oven to start with) and set it on fire.
Once burning the air supply is reduced so the wood can only glow with ambers but not burn.
Key is really dry wood and not using too thick materials.
From my experience anything more than 10cm in diameter as a log needs a really big "oven" and takes forever.
Last time I tried I had it hot for almost a week and it was less than a cubic meter of wood....
But produced very nice charcoal for the BBQ.

HenryFrapp (author)  Downunder35m11 months ago

So that's really all there is to it? Dang-- if I'd known it wasn't any more complicated than that I would have tried it before now. Thank you very much for the tip. I want to give that a try. I can forge metal and grill a T-bone at the same time... ha!

Just check some of videos on Youtube.
Especially in the Eastern parts of Europe it is still a common trade and often performed directly in the woods.
You won't get it right the first time and will need a few tries to get it perfect but if you check some of the info available online and start small you will have some great fun.
With evough wood to spare you might even want to consider making enough charcoal to sell it during summer - nothing beats the smell and taste of a real BBQ instead of using gas and hot plates with oil....

HenryFrapp (author)  Downunder35m11 months ago

Thanks, Downunder. Interesting info about European smithing. What better place to ply the trade than right there in the woods, huh?

You say I won't get it right the first time. Have you been watching me or something?? I seldom get ANYTHING right the first time, but what the heck, I'll try it anyway. I do love a good BBQ, and I never have liked gas grilling. I don't know if pine charcoal would be good for a BBQ, though. Might impart an unpleasant taste, but maybe it'll work great for a forge. I'll look for some of those videos. I appreciate the ideas.