The Knife Network Forums : Knife Making Discussions

The Knife Network Forums : Knife Making Discussions (
-   The Newbies Arena (
-   -   Ribbon burner in a vertical forge? (

squigly1965 04-28-2021 08:50 PM

Ribbon burner in a vertical forge?
My google-fu hasn't turned up much more than subjects of either or. Nothing utilizing a ribbon burner in a vertical forge. Does anyone have any experience with or knowledge of why it is/isn't a good idea.

I getting a couple empty refrigerant tanks and thought I'd make 1 into a vertical forge

Thank in advance for any help or insight

Ed Caffrey 04-29-2021 08:38 AM

Likely the reason you don't find much via internet searching, is because a ribbon burner in a vertical forge is WAY overkill in terms of time/materials/complexity, and cost to operate.

Not saying it not doable/useful, its just that most prefer/do go the route of a single, correctly sized blown burner. It's just all round simpler/easier to build, takes less time to assemble install, and uses far less fuel in a vertical forge application.

squigly1965 04-29-2021 02:12 PM

I see. I was under the impression the ribbon burner was a more efficient burner design. And that was the only reason for my contemplating using one. I guess proper application is key in this situation.
I may still toy with a ribbon in a horizontal forge build. But one project at a time fore or o just make a mess 😆

squigly1965 04-29-2021 02:32 PM

Hadn't realized the pic was a link to the pictures for your build. Thank for that.
The one ill be building will be much smaller. Is that 100% castable. I'm thinking of going kastolite 30. I don't have any experience with insulating castables as of yet. But it seems to be the one people are using.
My current forge is an 8x24 stove pipe with 2" of kaowool covered in satanite with hard bricks In the bottom. Only has a single blown burner. It works. But it's alot to heat up when I'm just making smaller knives. So I thought a small vertical would be the way to go.
Anywhere. Thank you again for your help and the pics. Gives me a better idea on the necessities I'll be needing

Ed Caffrey 04-30-2021 07:24 AM

Compared to a venturi, a ribbon burner is far more efficient... which is often the comparison folks tend to make. Don't take me wrong! A ribbon burner is hard to beat for the amount of heat it can produce, but as with everything we use/do in Bladesmithing....there's a "give-n-take". In order for a ribbon burner to produce the amount of heat it requires a huge VOLUME of fuel. I capitalize that word, because I suspect someone will jump in and say how they run a ribbon burner at a low PSI.... which is a very different thing.;)

I've built forges that are completely castable refractory, and those that are "hybrids", using both ceramic fiber blanket, and castable. The forge in the images is that.... 1 layer of 1" thick X #8 density ceramic fiber blanket next to the exterior wall, and 2 1/2" thick Kastolite 3000F refractory.
Keep in mind that if you choose to build a full castable forge, the refractory needs to be AT LEAST 3" thick. That's the general requirement to achieve the products full insulation value. Let's say you use a "pipe" that is 10" in diameter, and line it with 3" of castable..... that only leaves you an interior space of 4". When I built the forge in the pics.... I cut the pipe lengthwise, and added in enough so that when the castable was installed, I have 16" of interior space to work with. It just all depends on what each individual needs/wants. For me, I want to produce as large a billet of Damascus as possible. Right now I'm only limited by what my old, broken down body will let me lift/carry/forge/handle. It's not uncommon for me to forge Damascus billets for "cans" that weight 30-40 lbs. :)

Remember is talked about "give-n-take"? In the case of castable forges, the take a LONG time to heat up. The completed forge in those pics take at least 1 full hour to reach 2350F. But because of the thermal mass, once there, I can dial back the fuel PSI and it will hold/run at that heat all day long. The other thing you need to be aware of with castable forges is cool down.... you don't want to just shut everything off and walk away! You might get lucky for a while and have not issues.... but because these type of forges hold heat so well, they can destroy blowers is the heat gets to them (that's why the blower should always be hanging down as in the pics), of cause anything nearby to combust. I shut the gas off, and leave the blower running until my pyrometer reads less then 900F...... then it's usually safe to shut the blower off.

One last thing.... as a full time Bladesmith, I've always found it best to have two (or more) different forges in the shop. A small, kawool forge with a venturi burner, that can be used for quick or small jobs (non-welding), and then the castable/welding forge. Used when I plan a full day of making Damascus.

Best of luck with it! Don't hesitate to jump on my forum with any questions!

Doug Lester 04-30-2021 03:28 PM

Ed, not to highjack the tread but I'm glad to see that there are days that you can spend a day in the forge. I remember when you were complaining that there were days that you were stuck on the couch.


Ed Caffrey 04-30-2021 04:57 PM

Hi Doug!

I still have those days, but thanks to good Docs, and monthly infusions of the Lupus drug Benlysta, I can function most of the time.....just generally slower than I used to. :)

jimmontg 05-02-2021 08:43 PM

Glad for you Mr. Caffrey. May God Bless you.
My brother built a forge using propane and compressed air with a regulator and even Oxygen. It became a foundry and scared us. We learned a couple of things including how to control the heat.

Ed Caffrey 05-03-2021 07:06 AM

Whew! the words "compressed air" and "oxygen" in the same sentence with "forge" can be very scary. I've personally seen shops and homes destroyed when those got away from people.

jimmontg 05-04-2021 11:43 AM

It was built inside his old coke forge with a giant hood and plenty of fire extinguishers. We did not run O2 the same time as compressed air, but my brother wanted to be able to melt a high titanium aluminum bronze for sand casting. It was scary how hot it became and it melted the Al-bronze, but the castings were never very good.

Doug Lester 05-04-2021 10:00 PM

Every time I read of O2 and open flame I think of a patient in the hospital I worked in who decided he had to have a cigarette while is was wearing an oxygen mask. Some things just don't go together well.


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:05 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
The Knife Network : All Rights Reserved