Dressed in steel

armouring projects, tools, techniques and reviews

The forge fire

In the last month I learned a lot about starting and maintaining a coal fire in a forge. So I collect here what I found out so far.

The used coals

The most part I know about the different types of forge coal I learned in “Norwegian Knife Making” by Håvard Bergland.

Charcoal: my favorite every day coal. Her foremost advantage is that running a forge with it is quite easy because it nearly produce no slag and you just have to clean the forge after the working day. In addition charcoal is cheap and you can get it everywhere. She is burning faster than other coals but also don´t smoke as much. Special for charcoal is the shower of sparks coming out of the forge everytime you put on new coal.

Forge coal: this is a type of hard coal. I use it mainly when I need higher temperatures or when I´m working on bigger pieces. She is burning hot, smokes a lot and the outer layer of the coal bake together in the fire and forms a crucible around the fire.
While forging slag will collect in the fire pot. When this slag starts to interfere with the airflow you must remove the slag with a poker.

Anthracit coal: also an hard coal. She is harder, bruning hot and nearly don´t smoke. In addition she is baking just slightly together and brake up easy. Just she is hard to ignite and the fire must be feeded continously.


Ignight the forge

The method I´m showing here is for me the easiest ans fastest. It is working for charcoal and forgecoal. For Anthracite I need to start a charcoal fire to ignite the anthracit.

First step is to lay out a bedding between the blower hole and the fire

bedding to start a forge fire


On this bedding I put a piece of newspaper and ignight it.

start the fire with journal paper


Then a hole bunch of additional coal is put on the fire and the fan is switch on the smallest adjustement so that the fire has enough air..


Forge fire starting


In the start the forge will smoke alot. Is hard coal used the first smoke will be yellow and full of sulphur. The strong smoking can be prevented by boiling the coal (described underneath).

Forge fire heating up


In use the fire shouldn´t smoke anymore and the embers should be concentrated above the airhole.


running forge fire


Boiling the coals

Boiling from my experience just make sense for hard coal. With charcoal I haven´t seen a difference between fresh and boiled coals.

Boiling is used slowly let the smoke boil out of the coal before really using in in the fire (a benefit is that the coal ignites faster and don´t cool the fire so much).
You boil the coals by putting it close to the fire and slowly boil out all impurities. You can control the process with the distance to the fire and by cooling the coals with water.

When the coals don´t smoke anymore they are ready boiled and can be used in the fire.


running the forge fire


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