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  #1  
Old 02-24-2003, 01:31 PM
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Forge in my basement, looking for advice

Hello all,

I am posting this in the hopes that some of you may have done something similar at some point and might have some advice or tips.

What I am doing is this, in my house I have a LARGE!! chimney that runs down one side of the house. On the 1st floor of the house is an old cast iron coal fireplace (this thing was built to withstand a lot of heat) , under that fireplace is a cleanout that runs all the way to the basement, this would have provided a place to drop clinkers etc that did not burn. So, whith the flu open in the fireplace I have a straight shot from the basement cleanout (all red brick, 2 layers thick) all the way to the chimney on the roof.

Here is what I have done,

in the cleanout in the basement I have enlarged the opening a little bit, then layed a bed of firebrick, the built small walls inside the cleanout on either side with red brick so as to make a box of sorts. The box is then lined with sifted wood ash to make a nice bed.

What I want to do is use this as a small charcoal forge, my original plan was to just put in an enclosed hood of sorts to vent a gas forge up the chimney but I figured if I can use charcoal what the heck, I have tested it with wood fires and it drafts well and no smoke or smell appears in either the basement floor or the 1st floor of the house where the fireplace is. This week I plan to hook up a small blower and test it with some charcoal to see if it all drafts well enough tha way, my only concern is this, the opening in the floor of the fireplace is only about 10-11", it appears to be well enough to draft well, and the chimney itself is at least 24" wide by about 15" accross does this 10-11" opening provide me with enough space to vent a small forge. I plan to get some co detectors for both floors before using it but I am wondering if anyone here has ever tried anything like this before. Being that the entire setup was originally designed for coal I would think that it could withstand just about any amount of heat I could produce with a small (9-10" coal bed) forge. I have stuck a sloppily rendered sketch at the bottom of this post of what the set up is if it helps at all.

What say you?



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Old 02-24-2003, 01:37 PM
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Seems like it should work...

The only thing I would say is that I used to have a coal forge in my basement and even with good ventilation I got fine coal soot in the house. The carpets are a little dingier. I don't know if charcoal would do the same thing.

Cool set-up to be able to modify into a forge so readily though.


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Old 02-24-2003, 01:45 PM
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Yea the only pain in the butt was the 65 years of ash and coal that I had to dig out of the cleanout and get rid of.

By the way, dont ever try and dig ash out of the corners of a cleanout with your hand when there are razor sharp shards of coal hidden in it (band-aids).

I'm not to concerned about getting soot in the house as the fireplace is completly enclosed, the chimney is never really shut, the fireplace just has a big cast iron door that you put on and it completly seals it off from the house so I dont think too much will get out into the house.

I am just wondering if I should pull out the coal grate in the fireplace and cut the bricks in the bottom to make the opening a little bigger, it seems like it should be big enough but better safe than sorry I guess.


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Old 02-24-2003, 03:25 PM
Dana Acker Dana Acker is offline
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Old 02-24-2003, 03:32 PM
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hehe......gotcha Dana, that would be good advise.

I dont plan on using it very often, basically it is just sort of a fallback so that if I have to work on something and can not work outside I still have a way to get a little bit done.

I will be putting this whole setup through quite a bit of serious testing before actually using it to work. I figure I will brun wood fires in it for a while and then graduate and burn some coal in it to kick up the temps and so on and so on until I am confident that there is not a serious fire hazard. I think I may actually set up a temp guage at the 1st floor fireplace where it trasition to the chimney to see what temps I am getting there when using charcoal and a blower that way I have a realistic idea of any sort chimney fire threat etc.


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Old 02-24-2003, 03:39 PM
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Dana, You just had to wreck it, but darn good advice. The one draw back with the charcoal is going to be the sparks and the expence if you don't make it yourself. I'd go propane. You could make a little forge that would fit inside the clean out. I'll see if I can get a picture of one of my forges and maybe it will give you an idea. The CD detector is a really good idea...


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Old 02-24-2003, 03:48 PM
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Ray,

I agree that propane would be better but right now I just dont have the cash to invest in a setup, I had originally planned to use this for propane, this setup would probably just be until I can build a small propane forge to put in there. As far as the detectors go, I dont plan to do anything with it until I have a detector both downstairs and up stairs, I have no interest in turning blue...hehe

A pic of one of your forges would certainly be cool, I have a small one built of firebricks that uses mapp gas but it is too small to do anything bigger that about 5" in length and it's expensive (MAPP gas is not cheap).


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Old 02-24-2003, 04:26 PM
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These are two of my forges, I know they look alot like old propane bottles but there really forges. If you go this route make darn sure there EMPTY. I'd even go as far as taking them out some where and putting a couple shots in them before you work on them. Pretty simple to make, you can even use a saber saw with a steel blade in it to do the cutting. I may have thirty bucks in one and thats with the ventura burner. These aren't my everyday forge, the one I use most the time is out of the next size smaller bottle. Normally dealers have a number of old bottles at there business, just ask and they will normally give you as many as you want. Most the time the valve is off when you get them but if it is still on and it is turned to the one position don't assume that there is no gas in it. I think I may have used 10 bucks worth of material per forge.


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Old 02-25-2003, 07:10 AM
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You sure do got a purty anvil Ray. He he. And you do the same thing I do with the marking chalk! I've got mine measured off to 9 1/2" because that's the longest blade I'll forge.

JD, let me see if I'm getting this straight old buddy. This cleanout down in the basement is inside a small door in the wall? And it's about 10" deep from the outside of the door to the back side of the cleanout? That sounds just about perfect to me. If the chimney gets a good draft all the time you shouldn't have to worry about smoking the place up and it should be real easy to arrange a side blast blower pipe for it. Good use of existing hardware I'd say. All you can do is give it a try and see how it flies. 10" of forge width is pretty small but should be adequate for forging blades I'd think. Good luck with it.
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Old 02-25-2003, 08:27 AM
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Good in theory JD. Only drawback I see is whether the stack is lined or not.
Really wouldn't want to take the chance of any cracks, crevises leading to wood structure. Doesn't take many sparks to ignite bird nests, hornets nests, ect.
I gotta clean my house chimney every year and get a 5 gallon bucket of debris out every fall.


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Old 02-25-2003, 09:47 AM
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Max, Isn't that a nice looking anvil, That Trenton was given to me a number of years before I was even interested in knives. Only service it ever got when I first had it was when the roads were slick and I need extra weight in my P/U. The forge on the left has a back door so it will do long blades if need be. The one with the larger opening is for hawks mainly but it will also take a TV dinner......


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Old 03-18-2003, 09:57 PM
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Success!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I fired the forge in my chimney cleanout today and with a handful of the worst charcoal around (generic grocery store briquettes) and an old hairdryer I was got a railroad spike to a yellow heat in about 5 minutes. I covered the top of the bricks that make up the walls of the forge with a layer of screen and it catches most every spark the thing throws so I dont think I have to worry about anything floating up and catching and I burn the fireplace most every night so no birds are livin up there hehe. I wont use it often but it is good to know it is there when I have to have it for small jobs, used an old iron pipe for my air and lined it with sifted wood ash.


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Old 03-18-2003, 10:00 PM
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Do you have a CO detector?


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Old 03-18-2003, 10:28 PM
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Yes sir I do.


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Old 03-18-2003, 10:51 PM
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Good

Good for you, I have a CO detector in the shop, with readout, test it about every month with the built in tester. Once it went off with 14 PPM CO reading from a gas engine pressure washer exhaust that got in the shop while spraying outside the shop, apparently the CO got in under the garage door, even with a rubber gasket on the bottom of the door. every structure breathes one way or another.


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Last edited by Gene Chapman; 03-18-2003 at 10:54 PM.
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