So today was slightly tragic. I started the day with my nice, annealed file that I made yesterday. Grinding (on a rotating bench grinder) went swimmingly, and after touching up the grinds with my not-annealed file, it was looking pretty sweet.
Look at that handsome devil! Certainly it could be put to use cutting up small fruits, or peeling carrots, or maybe batoning though some balsa wood. I was satisfied with the shape, reasonably happy with where I was going to mount the handles, and so I fired up the forge to normalize it. Things went south from here.
The problem with the porta-pit is that the bottom is too hot, and the top is too cold. To give you an idea of the gradient, the bottom is hot enough to slag about 3 inches of steel, but after that there is almost no color in the metal. It is only by strategically building the charcoal up and giving it a lot of air that I can get the whole 6″ hot. If I do that, I can get a large jet of VERY HOT gas to come blasting out of the forge, heating the whole thing very slowly. This is still bad, because I want to evenly heat the whole thing, and not destroy my work.
The short of the long here is that my blade got ruined, and this forge needs a redesign. I am thinking that If I turn it sideways, the charcoal will be spread out evenly along the bottom. Even if there is a “hot spot”, there will at least be more area than is accessible in this configuration, because right now only the ends of the metal can get hot.
Well, that was sad. time for more testing!