A part of our routine and schedule of preparing for and running workshops is to develop and design new equipment or techniques. These are important to pass along to others who might be trying the same thing or to spawn even better ideas for the future, enjoy.
Zero Tolerance Steel
Our goal here is too make usable steel from what would otherwise be scrap dumped in the bin. As apart of the preparation of welding certification plates, bevels must be cut on the edge of a piece of plate. We do several hundred of these annually and it adds up to quite a bit of steel.
We developed the idea to pack these pieces, fitted tightly together into some scrap tube, then weld end caps on making a can. In essence doing a can weld, easy!
Once welded it is drawn out under the power hammer. Quite a large steel bar from little scraps under the saw. Upon cutting, polishing and etching an interesting pattern emerges.
Charcoal Retort - Turning Green into Black
A challenge that we face here at the school is the rising cost and difficulty in getting good forging coal. The cost has doubled in the past three years; what hasn't right? So I had the thought and have been researching and developing plans for building a charcoal retort out of recycled materials. What has developed is quite interesting. With the fabricating abilities of our school we fabricated the retort out of a 330 gallon oil tank, 2 - 100 pound propane tanks, 10 feet of old but good exhaust pipe and some scrap plate and flat stock.
Our goal is to produce charcoal out of pallets. We can fire the retort with the pallets as well as using the nail-free clear wood for making charcoal out of, kiln dried hardwood for free. We also made some contacts with the local timber framers who gifted us all of the scrap from their operations, nice solid pine and spruce.
Firing fuel Charcoal Material
The idea behind the retort is to capture the wood-gas produced when the temperature of the wood in the chamber reaches 752 degrees Fahrenheit. This wood gas is then introduced into the furnace, burning gasses to fire the retort itself. Here you can see the horizontal disturbance in the flames, actually the force is so great coming out of the burner tube that it burns over a foot away from the tube.
We are still learning the burn times for various thicknesses of wood and conditions of the day. It is typically taking one hour to bring the chamber to the right temperature and then when the smoke disappears the gassing has started. From then, the one hour mark it fires for another 3 hours eating another 4 or 5 pallets. So in the 4 hour period we can produce 40 pounds of charcoal. We are also studying the burn rates of charcoal verses coke in our forges, we'll let you know how we make out.
Sword Forging - Hardening Forge and Tempering Oven
One of the many areas we offer workshops in is bladesmithing and now we are beginning to better develop the tools and equipment need for sword forging workshops. We are very fortunate to have a legendary man of the bladesmithing world as a neighbor, Don Fogg has been extremely helpful in the design and development of this equipment. As this school processes a very well equipped fabrication shop within, the sky is the limit.
The view on the left shows the pyrometer we made as well as the single T-Rex atmospheric burner used from Rex Price at Hybrid Burners. This one burner is controlled with a precision needle valve and between the two components can hold this forge within 10 degrees, front to back. The image on the right shows the burner port in the back and the temperature probes just below the blade holding supports. Using an old propane thank as the shell, lined with 1 inch of Kaowool provides even hardening temperatures for blades up to 38 inches long.
Here is our electric Tempering oven. We used 2 rows of Ni-Chrome wire wound elements covered by a clear quartz tube. To apply the needed amount of heat for this size we are running at about 2590 watts at 220 volts, the elements came from Duralite and they were very nice to work with. The controller box(gray) energizes the elements through the digital temperature control box(silver) which is also our pyrometer. On the inside of the oven we have a sheet metal baffle to keep the direct light of the elements off the pieces being treated and the a stainless steel rack over that to hold the pieces with minimum points of contact. The oven will heat 0 to 800 degrees.
Both the Hardening Forge and Tempering Oven will be offered for sale on a build to suite arrangement, if you might be interested in such equipment please give us a call at 207-777-3375.
MINI Vertical Forge
Inspired by the many variations of vertical forges, we developed this design for small billets of pattern steel as well as blade forging. It offers a full 5 inch heat allowing small sections of blade to be forged at a time. It will weld up to a 2 inch square billet. It will achieve welding temperature in about 20 minutes and has been very successful in our Japanese Laminated Blade workshops. Lined with 1 inch of Kaowool coated with Santinite and 1 inch of Mizzou in the bottom and heated by a single T-Rex atmospheric burner used from Rex Price at Hybrid Burners. The whole forge only weighs about 20 pounds and has removable top and bottom for relining needs. Built entirely from scrap.