Hearth Vader

Last year, I started turning a dilapidated shed into a workshop as part of setting up working from home as a blacksmith. The forge has been here since 1840-something, but I needed somewhere to put all the more modern machinery.

Fire burning in old blacksmith's forge
It lives!

The work started early in January and being environmentally aware, the first thing I noticed was it wasn’t very warm. Some sort of heating would be required if this workshop was going to be year round.

The work started with tip runs and bonfires because all good sheds eventually become dumping grounds for things that may come in handy. And once they are log-jammed with paraffin heaters and enamel vases for showing flowers (that is, for putting flowers in to show them, with judges and such, not to say “Oi, Dahlia, look at these vases!”) and bits of wood too long to throw out and old rope too short to use, they become rat-infested hell holes.

It is the way of things.

The tin roof leaked, the walls had worrying cracks in them, the back had fallen out and the front was about to go.

By the time the weather got better, the shed was sound, dry, secure and looking a lot better, but I hadn’t done anything about heating it. “Wood burner?” you say…

Well yes, in an ideal world, that would be ideal, but have you see the price of wood burners?

“You’re a blacksmith, why don’t you make one, then?”

Now we are getting somewhere. I’m not one for plans, so looking around the interweb, asking silly questions and being nosey went on for a while. There are some really nice homemade wood burners about out there, so if they can make one, so can I.

So I did.

While all this was going on, I kept seeing burners that passed a reasonable resemblance to certain film characters, but they weren’t very good. I don’t like things that aren’t very good. Something had to be done about this..

Pictures were printed out, and entire episodes of Blue Peter’s worth of card, tape, marker pens and a grown up with a sharp knife were assembled.

Several prototypes later, I had a set of templates. In the fullness of time, these proved to be miles off, but you have to start somewhere.

The next step is the big one. In order to make a gas bottle stove, you need to make a hole in a gas bottle. Gulp.

This is not for the faint-hearted.

The bottle was vented, flushed, flushed again, left, come back to, flushed again, and eyed suspiciously. A small hole was slowly drilled. Tea was drunk.

It was left to once side again for a bit.

But there comes a point when you just have to do it so… I cut a large hole  with a plasma cutter. This basically creates an electrical arc, and then blows it out at some speed through “anything that conducts electricity”. I’ve not tested that aspect, but it keeps you on your toes…

The actual temperature and speed involves lots of zeroes, so if it hasn’t gone bang by the time you have cut through, it never will. That’s a relief…

The card templates were also cut this way, but without the elevated blood pressure.

Darth Vader wood burner
The Forge is strong in this one

There was grinding, shaping, swearing, a number of parts were remade, some more than once. Slowly, a familiar face appeared.

At times other faces appeared, and I may come back to them later.

Eventually I had a garden burner. In the meantime I made an enclosed wood burner for the shed, in case you thought I’d forgot about winter coming back…

Would you like one of these? I make them for others, too, you see. Otherwise I’d have a garden filled with heavy-breathing wood burners…

Get in touch here. I’m not actually that grumpy.

Edit. I feel I must now confess I have installed a wood oven that I didnt even make in place of my little bottle burner.  There may be workshop recipes along at some point