Yates mill demo

I had a fun time this weekend attending an event at Yates Mill in Raleigh with Solvarr! There was good food, lots of corn talk and music. If you’ve never been there, the lake is beautiful and the mill is a marvel.

The highlight of my day was getting to help out around the forge. I demonstrated how I make one piece steel roses.

I wish I had a photo of me working, but sadly I forgot to ask. If Ashley was there’ she’d have taken twice as many photographs. Alas I love to swing a hammer not take pictures. She’s been busy lately and has even started he own blog!

With out further adieu Yates Mill:

I love places like this.
The first thing I wanted to do was to look at how the water wheel ran.
Water was controlled via a steel level. I’d have loved to see this part forged!

 

The water wheel.

 

Here is a better shot. You can hardly tell the hurricane nearly destroyed this area in 1996.

 

Some of the surrounding buildings were neat. I enjoy old wagon wheels.

 

I know I can’t be the only one fascinated my bits of old machinery!
Am I?.. yeah guess you’d have to be there. This stuff was neat to examine.
Solvarr had his forge set up, and that was my main reason for going. A couple of other folks helped out and it was nice talking shop and seeing how others work!

 

I didn’t bring a lot of my stuff, but I brought some stuff to sell, most of the neat stuff isn’t mine =P
These bellows are just really fun to work with.
All in all I had a ton of fun, and it was nice to sit back and enjoy some music near the end of the day.

You can see a great picture of the mill drive system here. And the inside here. It’s nice to see the past still present.
-Greg

Bamboo Charcoal Making


Some hippie stuff from a long-haired country boy and scraggly pirate:

Before I get into the pictorial I’d like to talk about the blacksmith and the environment. I’m not an environmentalist per-say, I try to be environmentally aware though. Nature and I get along; and I’d very much so like to think of her being able to take care of my great-grandchildren. Every day most everyone on the planet is burning something in some direct or indirect way. Us metal working folks probably gobble up a bit more than our fair share of the pie. Unless you can acquire an induction heating method and sustainable green energy source to power it then you’re probably destroying our ozone. Bad blacksmith, bad! Manbearpig is hiding under your bed right now waiting for you. In all seriousness though it’s something to consider. I’ve been using a lot of coal recently because of its price. Coal releases an awful lot of co2, from the massive amounts of fuel used to mine and transport it all the way to the end-user. Industrial coal use is regulated with emission standards, but I regularly send pillars of soot aloft. It isn’t a renewable resource so I’m of the opinion it should be used sparingly and in the most efficient way possible. Natural gas is more expensive but much easier to use and far better for the environment than coal, but it’s infrastructure still promotes the burning of fossil fuels and it’s expensive. Neither source of BTUs directly prevents co2 sequestering like harvesting trees solely for charcoal.
Bamboo is a very quickly maturing plant, that grows densely. I can harvest it by hand locally making it very co2 efficient for me. In the grand scheme of things it’s a drop in the bucket. But the overwhelming size of a problem shouldn’t be discouraging. It should be encouraging. At the risk of making an unfair parallel… I’d like to know how the same mentality would be applied to first aid… I’d hate to show up at the hospital with a huge open gash only to see the doctors focus on patients with small scratches because my problem was too severe.

Bamboo is a great plant to have around. I’ve made cane fishing poles, tomato plant supports, trellises and our pear tree even gets a helping hand with the weight of its yield. When I was a child bows, arrows and tents were what bamboo was made for! It’s speedy growth can be a blessing or a curse, our little bamboo forest has easily more than quadrupled in size over the past ten years and it’s encroaching on the foundation of my studio. We keep it cut back, but it’s kinda like throwing water on an oil fire. This year we cut a deep pocket into the bamboo for a garden in the rich soil cultivated from years of compost.

We gave some bamboo away and used a few pieces. But most of the downed canes were left to dry in the air and sun. Kept off the ground by their limbs it didn’t take long for them to turn from green to a tan/brownish color.


A safety note. Please read
: bamboo has many hollow pockets that allow pressure to build up and cause small explosions. I haven’t found these to be dangerous personally but I do like to at least give problem pieces a thwack with a machete length wise to reduce these pops. Once during the burn a large pop was enough to rattle the barrel a bit and under the wrong circumstances I can imagine danger occurring. It should go without saying, but fire is inherently a dangerous tool and should be used with the utmost respect.
There are better ways to do this but this is how I’ve managed so far.

Charcoal time!

The barrel has holes and slots in the sides and bottom to allow for airflow. I keep the dirt from the hole for use later.
The barrel should fit into the hole loosely and deep enough to eventually cover the air inlets with dirt.
In the past I’ve filled the barrel and then started the fire. It’s really the best way, but it can be frustrating to get lit. This time I started a small fire in the bottom of the barrel and then quickly packed as much bamboo in as we could. (Jon Mills was kind enough to help me out during the burn) Long handled shovels were very helpful for wedging the canes in.
Now if you didn’t pack the barrel with fuel before lighting a fire you may want to block off the air from the bottom of the barrel midway through the burn. allowing the top to catch up.
I use a large steel pot with 4 small holes in it to cap off the barrel.
I cap it off once the fire is really going and wait a bit till the smoke is notably lessened. Once I’ve decided all the steam and smoke has signified an apex of the burn I block off the mouth of the pot. Then I clay up the holes around the base of the pot.
I didn’t time things but the entire burn was less than an hour and a half if I had to guess. Not all of the bamboo passed the crumble test. But it’ll simply be used to start the next burn.
While we were waiting for the charcoal to cook I set up a log and passed onto Jon what I’ve learned about throwing axes, knives and toss and stick spikes. Jon picked it up quickly and he was real proud of this lucky double stick.

Some more bamboo fun with out all the carbon emissions:

Working with bamboo tips

Other bamboo crafting ideas
A bamboo bike (Really neat!)
Bamboo beer? This site also has a lot of interesting info on bamboo and even co2 but it seems a tad bias.

Charcoal links:
Charcoal chemistry
Microwave charcoal without the co2? Cool! Something tells me shouldn’t try this one at home.
A video of a large-scale home wood charcoal burn.
A video of a fairly small-scale conversion of wood to high quality charcoal.

Co2 emission info:
BTU, co2, and price information for home heating.

Info on types of household energy consumption as well as energy info for different types of wood, coal, gas and oil.
Think humans don’t cause the bulk of co2? Some folks think volcanoes are examples of nature producing co2 at a greater rate than humans, but science tells me they can’t even come close to comparing to our carbon footprint
How much more carbon does bamboo sequester than trees? 35%.

–Greg

NCABANA meeting chisel, charcoal brazier, and tongs

I had a great time hanging out with guys of NCABANA at Eric Campbells shop! He demonstrated his approach to a Mark Aspery style chisel. Anyone who wanted too could make one too! He had a couple crowbars and I had a chance to try my hand at one myself. Here is a picture of it rough forged:

He also gave us some insight to how he makes his charcoal braziers.

Some open forges were set up and I spotted some tong making and had to snap some pictures:


I look forward to next time!

–Greg

Time to make the donuts.. err cutlass

I woke up this morning and on my way to the coffee maker I could have sworn I saw a familiar face walking by me muttering about the donuts. (I’m not even old enough to remember that commercial, how did it become part of my pop-culture memory bank) Hehe burning the candle at both ends is worth it though!






I can’t wait to share the finished product!
I’ve also got another rose in the works. Wish me luck when I get back to it!

–Greg