Friday, April 13, 2012


(This is a duplicate of today's post on Bloom 2 Bar)

Lee Sauder had this to say about his use of a copper tuyere:
1) The original inspiration to try the copper came from the Catalan furnace descriptions. I tried it the first time I tried the flue tile, after the first Early Iron at Cooperstown, so I guess that would have been late ‘04 or early ‘05. I have used them almost exclusively since, with the Coated Tyle furnaces, the Cadhinos, the big steel and refractory Aphrodite, and all the clay furnaces.
2) I have found that they will melt if they are much less than 14 inches long (this is with about 2.5 inches protruding into the furnace).
3) I looked back through my notes, I think I used the last tuyere for 45 smelts before I retired it, but I’m not sure. It didn’t fail, it was gradually thinning, and I didn’t trust it anymore.
I had made a first attempt to try out a copper tuyere for my own smelts # 7, #8, # 12 in 2005. My problem was at the time I did not have suitable copper material to work with. I had tried cutting and forming from 1/8 inch thick copper sheet. That thickness just was not enough to either withstand the furnace temperatures or transmit heat off fast enough to prevent erosion of the tip. Work with copper tuyeres was abandoned in favour of using a standardized ceramic tube (starting in 2006).

Last year at Quad State, I had picked up a large bar of copper, 2 x 1 1/2 x 12 inches. (Luckily, I paid less than current scrap prices = $20.) I had actually intended this material for an artistic forging project, but like many good intentions, the piece got tucked away and pretty much forgotten.

With the reminder caused by the slag rings recovered at Smeltfest this year, and wanting a break from the heavy forge work this week, I pulled that block out. The starting weight was 4358 gm.
The first step was to combine draw, widen and flatten the material to a rough flat bar. This was done under the air hammer - mainly 'pushing' the material under the dies. (Starting at the far end, and pushing the material back towards the tong end as the dies collapsed it.)
Copper is wonderful material forge! It is extremely soft at a dull red colour, and even when the temperature drops, it remains soft and workable. This softness also means less vibration shock back into your hands. The big problem is heating a large piece. Heating in the propane gas forge, I was never able to get it much more than a 'bright red'. The end of the material hanging out of the forge was radiating off heat almost as fast as the burners were applying it.

After the initial flattening
(sorry for poor image quality)

At the end of the first stage, I had a flat bar roughly 1/2 inch thick, 3 inches wide, and about 20 inches long. You can see most of the thickness had been transferred to length, working on the flat die on the air hammer. In the image you can see how I cut off the last 4 1/2 inches (955 gm) of material.

The remaining piece was forged to a taper, both in thickness and width, over its length. This was done in a number of steps. Initially the material was worked by placing it to 90 degrees to the long axis of the dies. Next the surface was worked under a Hoffi style crowning top die. This was followed by a fair amount of working the surface with the cross peen. Again the direction of the peening was done at 90 degrees to the long axis of the material. The net effect here (for the non blacksmiths) is to primarily force the material side to side - not end for end. Last, the surface was worked with the forging hammer to smooth out all the irregularities caused by using the peen on such soft material. At this point the edges were also hammered to create a more or less even and straight lines.

This all created a shape like a triangle with the tip cut off. To finish the work, the peen was again used, but now over a half cylinder shaped anvil tool. Also it proved just as easy to work into the hollow created by the step from horn to face on the right hand edge of the anvil. This series of more gentle strokes gradually formed the flat surface into a half curve. This was carefully rolled up to where the two edges met - creating a conical form.
This was then worked to ensure the shape was symmetrical, and straight.

Finished copper tuyere

The resulting tuyere is 45 cm long. Its finished weight is 3394 gm.

Furnace End
2.5 cm internal diameter
wall thickness 6 mm

Air Input End
5 cm total diameter (accepts standard 1 1/2 inch threaded pipe)
wall thickness 3 mm

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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