Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tools of the Trade: Portable Rivet Forge with Side Extensions

Recently I noticed I was having a very difficult time keeping my fire lit during demos and I came to the conclusion that my coal was not deep enough to sustain a nice fire.  One time I was using some coal with smaller pieces and it seemed to require cranking all the time to keep the fire going, so I needed to find some kind of solution.

The type of portable rivet forge is typically use for public demos does not have a deep fire pot like some forges do.  Instead, it has a simple flat grate (think floor shower drain) across the tuyere opening, so the depth of the fire is limited to the 3 inches or so of the coal basin itself, which is not sufficient to keep a good fire going.

To address this, I made some modifications to my forge to bring the sides up a bit.  On the forge I leave at Claude Moore, my friend and collaborator extraordinaire Erin and I bent a hoop and we welded some 3/8" pins on the inside to keep it from moving around.  It is not permanently fixed to the fire pot, but we bent the pins so it rests rather firmly in place and does not move sideways much at all.  

In fact, as you can see in the photos, it is sturdy enough to hang my tools from so I am quite pleased with how it worked out.  It has amazed me how much better my fire burns now and how much easier it is to start now that the forge has been modified.  You can see in the photos that I have quite a nice fire going even while I am at the anvil and only a few cranks are required when I return to the fire to get it back to maximum heat.  

On the forge I use at other venues (pictured below), which is very similar to the one above, but with a different blower configuration, I took an even more simple route.  For that one, I used two pieces of sheet steel about 6 inches high and 24 inches long and bent them to the rough curve of the inside lip of the forge.

This approach has an added advantage for my traveling setup in that I can easily disassemble the two pieces and pack them away nicely in the coal buckets I use.  Had I used the ring method, I would have had to stow the hoop somewhere, which would have been a bit more cumbersome in our already crowded demo truck.

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