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Ed Caffrey's Workshop Talk to Ed Caffrey ... The Montana Bladesmith! Tips, tricks and more from an ABS Mastersmith.

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Old 06-01-2005, 01:40 PM
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Castable VS Kao Wool

I know this is a Chevy / Ford argument, but Im just wondering what everyones thoughts are.

Im wanting to build a forge with a 6"-8" x 20" interior forge, mainly for welding. I have only used a castable forge once. It was a litle slower to heat up, but once at heat, it was HOT, and seemed to have a much more even heat. Im wanting to use this forge mainly for welding. My thoughts are that a castable forge would be much more flux resistant. But I dont know to what degree. I have the Mizzou 3000 from Daren Ellis that Im planning on using if I go that route.

Will a castable forge once at heat, keep a more even heat, and thus allow a better transfer to a billet? I would think that once a castable interior was at its hottest, it would maintain better. Aganin, this is all speculation on my part.

Also, what seemes to be the optimum thickness for a castable forge?

Thanks in advance!

God Bless
Mike


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Old 06-01-2005, 06:06 PM
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You are right Mike it is a Chevy versus Ford type of thing. I prefer a Kaowool forge myself, I can be at a welding heat in just a few minutes from a cold start and the forging temperatures are even quicker. I do not tend to run a forge for really long periods of time and in a case like that a castable would likely be better.


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Old 06-01-2005, 10:07 PM
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As Bill eluded to, it really depends on the individual who will be using the forge. Take into consideration the following questions....
1. Do I need a forge that heats up quickly? (if so, Ka-wool)

2. Will I be using the forge for long durations at each session? (if so, castable)

3. Am I concerned about how much propane I used? (it's a split here. Ka-wool will heat up quicker, but will consume more propane to maintain the temps. Castable will require more propane to heat up to temp, but once there it will maintain the temp with less propane.)

4. Does the forge need to be portable/movable? (ka-wool forges are light, and easy to move. Castable forges a VERY heavy, and not too portable.)

5. Will I be using the forge to heat large or small billets? (Large billets will cause a ka-wool type forge to cool down rapidly, and thus will take much more time and propane to reach welding heat. Castable forges "hold" thier heat better due to the sheer thermal mass involved.)

6. How durable must the forge lining be? (castable wins hands down here, but the initial cost is higher than Ka-wool. With Ka-wool forges that are used for a lot of welding like occurs in my shop, you can expect to replace the lining once every two-three months, whereas my last Castable forge lasted 5 years with only minor patching required over that period)

7. How important is ease of construction? (It is a LOT easier to build a Ka-Wool type forge. At most it will take a couple of days if you use some type of coating on the inside, and allow it to dry. A castable forge will take time to set up the mold, mix the castable, pour it, and then require 7-10 days to cure.)

8. What type of burner system will I use? (I consider castable forges to be only suitable for blower type set ups. I also recommend a blower with a ka-wool forge that will be used for welding, but have seen several set up with venturi burners that weld nicely.)

There are lots of things to consider, with those being unique from individual to individual. Consider what you'll be doing with the forge, how much of it you'll be doing, and how often you'll be doing it. Look at the ease of construction, the durability, and the cost of materials for each variety. Now, mix all those things in the proportions that fit your needs, and you'll have a good idea of what you need.


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