Rocket Mass Forge

I think I came up with a novel idea, the rocket mass forge. It is a combination of a side blast, side draft forge and a rocket mass heater. I can do my smithing and heat the garage at the same time!

I built a side blast forge – one who puts air in from the side instead of from underneath in the hopes that it will direct the smoke towards the hood. This is the older style, it’s simpler, and works better for charcoal.

It’s a side draft forge, meaning that the chimney sits beside the forge fire and not over it. It draws the smoke in sideways.

It’s going to be a rocket mass heater, with the insulated inner burn chamber, the outer barrel chamber, and the horizontal ‘chimney’ that dumps heat into the room.

Rocket Mass Forge Concept Drawing
Rocket Mass Forge Concept Drawing

So far, I have… ~ $20 invested in the forge, discounting gasoline used to pick free stuff up. The block is retaining wall block and the fire brick is recycled red clay brick. Most of the ductwork was free, but I bought a few pieces of it. My dad gave me the blower, it was brand new – about 25 years ago. The barrels will be free. Oh, I did buy the perlite.

2 weekends ago I visited a local blacksmith for a few hours, and that really got a fire under my butt. When I got home, I built the base of the forge. I used probably 2/3rds of roughly 160 retaining wall blocks that will be used for a pond next year.

One of two trailer loads of free retraining wall blocks found on freecycle
One of two trailer loads of free retraining wall blocks found on freecycle

They are stacked in a circle with room for a 6 inch stove pipe to do down the back and out the bottom. It is infilled with a mix of block and brick to support the brick top. The brick top is layered in 2 different patterns and 90 degrees offset so I don’t have any seams that overlap. Less likely for hot coals to fall through down to the floor this way.

Start of base of forge
Start of base of forge
Finished forge bed
Finished forge bed
I will be staring at this for hours, just as well make it look nice, right?
I will be staring at this for hours, just as well make it look nice, right?
Initial brick burn chamber on top of the forge bed
Initial brick burn chamber on top of the forge bed

The brick burn chamber did not work at all. Too ‘open’, the smoke poured right out of it. It felt good to get a fire lit there though. The next thing I did was hook up my old pocket rocket to vent out the new rocket mass heater chimney system. This worked a little better. I was able to get it to burn in the right direction.

So I grabbed an old 5 gallon metal bucket of killz paint that had dried up – or so I thought, under about 2 inches of crust was white goo,  not quite paint – that was in the weeds in the back yard when I bought the house. I cleaned that out, burned out the goo, it burned OK once lit with a torch.

The First Iteration of the Rocket Mass Forge
The First Iteration of the Rocket Mass Forge

 

I made a hat hook on the first fireing of the Rocket Mass Forge
I made a hat hook on the first fireing of the Rocket Mass Forge

The forge didn’t really get hot enough for me, and the rocket mass heater didn’t want to draft for crap.

I need a 55 gallon drum so I have room inside to make a proper insulated heat riser. This should help it draft better. I need a different hose for the forge blower, as what I am using now whistles something obnoxious. I need to make a cold air intake for the forge blower and a mixing box so I can pull some smokey air as well if needed. I need to make a heat exchanger to pull more heat from the system before it leaves the building. I need to make the thermal mass yet too.

Lots of things to do for the next iteration. The important thing is that I got it working, if poorly..

Bella’s play barn phase one.

A trailerload of pallets & shipping crate, half tore down and ready to re-use.
A trailerload of pallets & shipping crate, half tore down and ready to re-use.

I was offered a bunch of wood at work, pallets and a shipping crate. Once I got them home, I got to looking at that shipping crate and thought that I should make something useful out of it.

Like a play house for Bella.

So I started planning one. Rolling the idea around in my head. I came up with a really fancy idea of a little house, porch, shed, etc. Then I decided I wanted to make all the hardware with my blacksmithing skills. It kinda went overkill in my head. Then I decided that a barn would look really cool with hand made hardware. So, a barn shaped object is now the plan. Water and Ice for the roof, maybe a few shingles from the bundle I found in the garage. A sky-light so I can see in and check on the trouble brewing in the play barn.

Well, not really the plan, as there are no plans. Just cut wood until the pieces fit together nicely. I picked the nicest pallet – a solid red oak one it turns out – and tossed it on the ground. That’s how big my barn will be.

I measured the pallet, and the broken down bits of shipping crate. I grabbed a piece of soap stone and drew out a ‘barn’ shape on a sheet of wood. Katie liked it except it was too tall. So, adjusting it down, I laid two pieces down on a saw horse and measured out my barn sides.

A pallet as the base of the play house
A pallet as the base of the play house

A few minutes with a circular saw and I had my two ends! I screwed them to the pallet. I scrounged a few 1-bys to hold the two end walls apart. I cut another sheet down to the side walls. I screwed them on, and it’s looking pretty good, if I say so myself.

I screwed the two pieces together so I could cut them both at the same time
I screwed the two pieces together so I could cut them both at the same time

 

I got to looking at the roof, and I think I am going to make the whole roof out of some dark smoke colored Plexiglas I have. Water proof & easy to see inside.

The front and back scewed to the pallet & two pieces for the sides
The front and back scewed to the pallet & two pieces for the sides

So, the front end is to come off, and the door cut. Some small windows cut into the sides. The floor needs to be put in and maybe a small sit/work bench along the back wall.

Just needs a roof & doors & windows!
Just needs a roof & doors & windows!

I am contemplating a working hay-mound door with a pulley to a pull cord across the top of the inside of the barn. Hinged door main door? Maybe a slider? 1 piece or two? All good questions. The answers will likely come after I cut out pieces and seeing how they fit together.

That’s just how I roll..

Bedroom Red Oak Floating Bookshelf with Curved Front

I need to make some book shelves to put all of my books.

I think the best place to put some shelves would be along this wall here, in my bedroom. it is otherwise unusable space. Some shelving would be perfect here.

I came up with an interesting idea for the shelves. They will be attached directly to the wall, no sides or back to the shelves. I will also curve the corner pointed out into the room so I don’t jam my leg or stomach in the middle of the night walking past them to go to the bathroom. I also thought it would be neat to ‘step’ the top several shelves back. I am hoping this turns out to be as neat in real life as it is in my head. We shall see, right?

Here you can see the step idea, I have 3 more shelves, the same size as the bottom shelf.

Here are the shelves after I have added a coat of Minwax Red Oak stain. The shelves are themselves made out of 1×8 Red Oak, so the stain really looks good. I am letting them dry on my clothes dryer rack. This seemed to work pretty well.

Visiting Lakeland Florida.

Katie and her Niece ArinI went to up to Lakeland Florida this weekend. I met most of Katie’s Family. Lets see, Dad Mike, Mom Ellen, I stayed with Brother Todd and wife Sarah, brother Andy and Wife Cara with child Arin stoped to visit along with Brother Matt, Brother Pat and best friend Amy also stopped in. I didn’t get to meet brother Mike and Sister Angela. Fwew. I think I got all of them. Oh, wait, Kitty Buster and dogs Bear and Shelby. I think I got them all. One, two three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Oh oh, who did I miss? Oh, last but not least, Katie nine! YAY, I passed the test! Just don’t ask me to put them in order of age!

Katie and IWe didn’t really do all that much, met family, talked to family, ate with family. I am not used to that much family! We went to 2 different chinese buffets, Pizza, Dennys for breakfast thursday night, icecream, Wendys, and where else…

Katie and IWe played a cutthroat game of Cranium. That was a lot of fun! Andy and ‘Dad’ won. Oh, I was shown some pretty neat magic tricks. I am going to have to go out and get some new cards to practice with.

Katie and BusterI got a tour Lakeland. Katie drove me around and showed me town. Oh, I also got a free 23 minute tour of Bartow. Katie had said ‘keep left on 60’, business 60 takes a left turn into downtown Bartow. Great fun! Not Really, driving around after dark somewhere you have never been before. Not my idea of a good time. Well, actually, I thought it was kinda funny. I get to tease Katie about her directions. Hopefully she doesn’t get the idea to tease me about my driving.