Among many jobs and duties, I have neglected to write. Having recently been reminded of it, I am endeavoring to correct this. In the smithy I am building a new hearth. I took pictures of the process so far as it has gone. There will be a sequel to this with the finished product. In previous articles I have taken pictures and then written down how I arrived there. Now we will try something different. I will take pictures and write down how things are progressing. In fact this may be the last article with such concise title.
Onward to the subject of today: building a new hearth. To do this I examined how my needs have changed. Yes, that is an important part of all that we do. With this in mind, I set about designing the box of dirt. That may sound strange, how complex can a box of dirt be? The answer varies, yet there are certainly some details I wanted more correct in this iteration of the tool.
The oldest forge hearth of this design in the shop had turned into a scrap table and occasional cook hearth. All of the “junk”, tools, pieces of work, scrap, had to be sorted and cleared away. Then I took the useable coal from the ash and sand and returned it to the bin. I cleared the bulk of ash and sand away with a shovel, into a bucket. I got about one bucket of it. Then I began to pick out the trash and get up the lumps of clay that made the original bed.
I put them into a different bucket. Then in true dwarven fashion, I pounded them up with a thumping pole.
This process was repeated until I had most of the large pieces out, and the bucket mostly full.
Going back in time, I will show you the process of building the box. Below are pictures of the pieces and the fitting of them together. They were glued with Titebond II and nailed with 6d finish nails. The entirety is old scrap wood from the shop.
After the box was built I drilled a snug fitting hole at a 10° angle upward, cleaned it with a rasp and inserted the tue iron. You can see that it rests upon a small block which holds the angle and keeps the iron wedged in place. With a shallow spacer the iron will still clear the floor when put into a vehicle. For a bit of extra fill and insulation, additional brick was laid in place. These are just normal paving brick. They are not sold for fire or anything special. Use what you have, see how it works. I know from experience, these will last for about a year. They are remnants from the old hearth as a matter of fact.
Making sure the bowl will be in the center of the box, I can start filling with dirt. This particular dirt was dug from our back yard, it has significant clay content. We are reusing it from the old forge because it really never goes bad. It was processed as you have read above and then added to the box. This is done slowly and carefully, a layer at a time and packed tightly. This is what will insulate the wood from the heat and concentrate that heat into the center of the fire.
The little yellow bucket is borrowed from the children’s sand pit. It is simply a form to give me that shape as I layer in the dirt. It will not be consumed in the construction of the forge. I will remove it and form the bowl for the fire wet, with my hands. You will get to see this in a later article.
That is all there is to see of the project for now. I will leave you with a final picture from me, by the fire after I finished this particular workday.
My children came out for a bit and sat with me. Each new year we light a new fire. We light new fires a good bit here at the homestead, this one is special however. We begin our new year today, and what an inspiring moment it is. My wife and I have come a long way in our journey together. Each day that I rise from bed and greet the sun, I am reminded what a blessing it is to see it. I hope you feel that way also, where you are.
I have taken a rest to day, to write to you dear reader. A good and needed rest it was too. As I finish my last cup of coffee and sign off today, I would like to thank you for being here. It is a joy to write to you.
With that dear reader, I say to you:
Fare well, wherever you fare,