After choosing the steel, I
light the coal in the fire pot (J) and by turning the crank of the blower
(F), move air through the pipe to the bottom vent of the fire pot. The
faster I turn the crank, the more air moves through the coal.
Coal is kept in the bin (E) until needed for the fire. After the coal
tar and other volatiles burn off and go up the flue (J) as smoke, clean
Coke remains, and this burns much hotter than the coal did, and so
increases the temperature of the steel, which can get to over 2100F
degrees. I usually work the billet at much lower temperatures.
Located at the bottom of the fire pot, is a 2 inch pluming " T".
Air goes into the side opening, and out the top that is connected to the
bottom of the fire pot. The third opening is at the lowest position,
and has a hinged flap. When this flap is open, any slag and ash
drop out. thereby clearing the air path. That is why I have a
metal bucket (I) below to catch the hot slag. The hinged flap is weighted
to force the flap closed, unless I manually open it. Otherwise air would not
be forced through the bed of the fire pot.
Using tongs to grab the steel, I take it to the Anvil (C) to begin hammering
to shape. Note the various hammers next to (D) I use different
shapes and weights for various operations. As the tongs get hot
from prolonged contact with the hot metal. I cool them by immersing in
the water bucket (G). To keep things straight I lay the item on the leveling
anvil (D) which I made from a 34" section of rail road track. If you
enlarge the top photo, you will see where I marked the edge in one inch
increments, So I have a non flammable ruler within easy access.
View from other end of work
area showing the McDonald Rolling Mill (H) along with the coal bin
and anvils. Some times I have material that is much larger than I need.
This had previously taken a long time to hammer to size. Now that I
have built this mill, it is much faster getting stock to the proper
My gas forge (K) that is still under
construction. For more information see my custom blacksmithing tools page.