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Gloves, coal forge, celtic sword - Doug Ayen's Blacksmithing Blog [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Doug Ayen

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Gloves, coal forge, celtic sword [May. 3rd, 2003|08:47 pm]
Doug Ayen
So, last year I bought some "hot work" gloves, supposedly foundry quality. They're felted kevlar, pretty thick, I'd guess between 1/8" and 1/4" thick. The kevlar part covers the whole hand down to but not including the wrist, and they seem to work great. Much higher insulative factor than leather gloves, and they don't catch fire or melt unless you stick them into a hot forge or grab white-hot metal -- and even thenthey give you quite a bit of time to save yourself should you do such a foolish thing.

The problem is, they have a cotton collar. I don't know why. They're not even treated cotton, so every ember, every bit of hot scale, even enough radiated heat sets them on fire. Yes, on fire -- and not just easily noticed flame, but the gloves smoulder, and it's hard to see and put out the embers once it gets going.

Now, I've ripped off the (at the time, buring) cotton collar on one pair, but even the stray threads occasionally catch fire, and without the collar embers and scale can get into the glove -- and while I'm pretty immune to heat on my hands, still-glowing molten sodium borosillicate (Borax, a flux) gets my attention. So, on the pair I with the power hammer (a great producer of flying slag, flux, scale, and what have you) I've left the collar on, and just extinguish it when it catches fire.

There's got to be a better way.

In other news, I got off my duff today and got some work done. I assembled a forge stand out of some heavy-duty metal trays welded together for the forge shelf and some angle iron from old bedframes bolted together for the framework. After cutting a hole for the firepot, dropping in an old Buffalo Forge firepot and tuyre (with a clinker breaker and dumping ash gate, no less), and hooking up a Champion 400 hand-cranked blower, I had a coal forge.

I've been wanting one of these for a while, as I have found that while the gas forge can get up to the right temperature for working wrought iron, it has to struggle to get there and it uses up a lot of fuel in the process. A coal forge, while you have to deal with blowers, cokeing your coal, removing clinker and keeping it fed and happy, does get to iron-buring temperatures in a hurry. Wrought iron need to be almost at that high a temperature to be worked properly, I've found -- at a white heat, just before sparks start flying off it (and with wrought, if sparks do start flying, no problem, just wait a second before hitting it. Carbon steel would be ruined at this point, wrought just gets a little mushy and starts to fall apart.)

The wrought iron work I'm doing goes back to an old subject, making a celtic sword as authentically as possible. While I didn't smelt my own iron and I'm not using charcoal, this is pretty damn close. I cut three pieces of wrought iron about 10" long (one longer so I'd have a bit of a tang and something to hold on to during forging), formed them into rectangular bars, and forge welded them together. No big surprise, it welded up fine first try (wrought welds like a dream.) Since it was now 7pm, and I'd been in the workshop since 9, I took just a couple more heats and did the first drawing out/squaring off of the billet. Took some pictures, too, as I'm writing up what I know of the process, and what I have found via my research on the subject, possibly for publication. Gotta have pictures to get published nowadays.

So, having worked in the workshop a good 11 hours today, I'm going to go collapse. I don't know if I'll be able to move tomorrow, but I sure got a lot done today.


[User Picture]From: perspicuity
2003-05-03 11:10 pm (UTC)
i wonder if you could aquire some nomex and make a collar up to your elbows, and have straps that tie on above it, to hold the whole deal on?

i'd imagine that kevlar would get brittle over time, and fail, so be careful!

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[User Picture]From: miss_chance
2003-05-04 06:58 pm (UTC)
Have you tried Flame-proofing the cotton? You could try Flamex C26. There are several formulations of Flamex, and C26 is the one for cotton and pourus materials. generally it adds an hour or two to the fire-rating so even if the extreem heat that your gloves are subjected to are above its capacities, it might avoid the bursting-into-flames problem. Flamex is a theatrical supply (that's why I know anything about it)so you can get it from www.rosebrand.com.
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