Last updated on: 6.16.2014 - Select Items Listed Your Satisfaction And Value Guaranteed
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Copyright:  Mike Sillett


1. Intro
2. Equipment
3. Materials
4. Procedure

photo of completed lump charcoal with the use of a Weber Charcoal Grill.

1. Intro

If you are just starting out in hobby blacksmithing you will need a good fuel. A fuel that provides enough heat to really get the metal glowing.
Gas is great but expensive. Not only do you need to buy the gas but the tanks and valves, etc.
Coal of the right type is difficult to find and if you do is also expensive.
Coke is also a hard find.

Originally, the best fuel for metal casting and for forges to get metal to working condition was lump charcoal. Yup, that stuff that is left behind when a big fire is smothered out. Those large leftover black lumps are worth their weight in gold - well almost.
Lump charcoal is still a great choice.
However, have you priced good 'lump' charcoal lately? It's from $10.00 - $25.00 + depending on bag size.
Do you really want to burn $10.00 - $25.00 + to try your hand at getting a piece of red hot steel deformed?

If you have a Weber charcoal grill, or almost any charcoal grill that has a good lid, that is, a lid that has air flow restriction controls good enough to shut off the air, then charcoal making is a good alternative to buying it. It is very easy to make and takes very little time.
Lump charcoal is what you want for blacksmithing. Don't but those briquets.
Preferably lump charcoal made from hardwood.
If you do any amount of greenwood woodworking then you will have some unusable wood scraps that can be made into lump charcoal.
What's better than using your wood waste, relaxing a bit with a beer or two and getting some great lump charcoal in return?

2. Equipment

Charcoal Grill with lid

3. Materials

Wood pieces of various sizes that fit into grill.

4. Procedure

First order of business is to get a decent fire going with the smallest pieces of wood then layer on the pieces that you want to be finished lump charcoal.

photo of a stack of red oak sapwood all layered in the Weber grill.
The Weber all loaded up after the fire base has been started.

Get the pile to light up and start a good burn.

photo of the red oak layers starting to burn.
The fire has started. We want the whole pile to be burning.

Once it is burning briskly we are on the right track. Sit back and have a beer - or the second one.

photo of the red oak at the 'good burn' stage.
A beautiful fire - evenly distributed.

What we are after now is for the flames to be almost gone and the wood to have a gray ash coating.

photo of the red oak withe the flames almost died out.
Nice gray ash on the wood and the flames are just about where we want them to be.

When the flames are almost gone put on the cover and close the vents - lid and base bottom - so no air gets to the fire.

photo of the Weber grill with the cover on and the vents closed.
The Weber has vent holes on the top and on the bottom.
Both locations are now closed.

Now you just leave it alone.
Wait until tomorrow and this is what you should find.

photo of a completed batch of small sized lump charcoal.
The next day - beautiful small lump charcoal pieces.

The lumps should all be cooked all the way through.

photo of a cross-section of a lump of charcoal showing the total cook-through.
A lump showing the cook-through. Perfect. They should all be like this.

From the pile pull out all the pieces you want to save.

photo of lump charcoal pieces being held to show the size.
The sizes of the lumps are dependent on what the size of the wood pieces that you start with.
For a hotter fire smaller lump charcoal is better.

The lumps should all be cooked all the way through.

photo of a batch of small lump charcoal ready to be stashed away.
One batch of lump charcoal. It only took 2 Labatt Blues to get it to the "cover on ' stage.

Once you have the lumps saved make sure you put them in a fireproof container. A metal bucket with a lid is ideal.
Also, keep the container away from the house for a few days - just in case there is one piece that stubbornly refused to go out.

It only takes about 30 to 45 minutes to start the fire and get it to the point where the cover should be placed on top. Just enough time for a couple of beers. You can't really count the time that you wait for a day to go by.



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