Saturday, 2 January 2010

Over to World-of-Graham


I've merged all my creativity into one blog so updates to this blog will now be on



Monday, 26 October 2009

My charcoal worked!

Well I'm chuffed. Home-made charcoal burns nice and hot. I took it all apart this morning and found big globs of melted aluminium and lots of cans with the paint burnt off.

More importantly, I've sold some unwanted stuff on ebay so I now have a nice large pay-pal balance to spend on modeling clay. The next few weeks will see me working on the mold side of the process and then building the furnace.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Making slow progress


I almost can't believe it's been a whole month since I did anything. Except I only like setting fire to things at the weekend as then my wife's around to watch the children, so really it's only four weekends.

Anyway, a neighbour told me of a recently dismantled wooden greenhouse that was fit for fire-wood, so I popped over and rescued a barrow load. Yesterday I stacked it up in the fire pit and this time I checked it cold for the fit of the barrow and re-adjusted it. I also drilled 6 x 10mm holes in the bottom of the barrow, in the hope that air would come in around the bottom and out through the top. It all lit fine and I let it burn for quite a while before it was all really raging, then I barrowed it! I also left a lot more air gaps around the sides. When the smoke had subsided to blue haze, I totally buried it.

In the morning (this morning) I went back and found lots of charcoal. In fact the charcoal had worked so well that it had already started melting some of the aluminium window fittings from the greenhouse. This evening I started off a burn to purify some cans with my own, home-made charcoal.

It appeared to be burning really well until I foolishly decided to adjust the lid to keep more of the heat in and dropped a brick right into the middle of the furnace... I put a lid on with a brick to reflect some of the heat back in and when I moved it, it flipped over and dropped the brick... hopefully it hasn't dampened the flames too much.

I'll have a look tomorrow when it's cooled down a bit and see how much melting has gone on.


Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Charcoal III

Progress is being made. Now the thin bits that I thought of as kindling are turning to charcoal and the big lumps are becoming brown ends. So I think the next stage will be to do a proper charcoal stack with a hole in the middle made out of the thinner bits of wood. Then I'll chuck a newspaper/firelighter combo down the middle and cover it with the wheelbarrow and treat it as before.



Charcoal II

Right so. That didn't work then! I got maybe a handful of charcoal from the bottom and a lot of charred wood.

So, I listened to what I'd been advised on Creative Living forum and made a nice neat stack of fresh wood on top of kindling...

... waited til it was all nicely alight and blazing...

... then tipped over the barrow again.

But, this time I'm leaving some air gaps around the edge.

Now we really are into trial and error. I'll just leave it for a bit. At least I know it's still burning under there with restricted oxygen. If this doesn't work I'll bash some holes in the wheelbarrow with a chisel and bury it totally around the edges so I have more control over the amount of air by covering holes. I might also go look for pictures of oil-drum burns and the like to get a rough idea of how much air hole is needed for what size of burn.

Still, as they say, you learn more from things that don't work!


Making Charcoal I

Right so. The reason I've stopped melting things is that I couldn't afford my charcoal habit! So after some very diligent months of reading Freeglecycle every day I have accumulated everything I need to make my own. Hopefully.

Here's a big pile of wood, chopped to size, with fire-lighting things and gloves.

Here's the fire all laid and just getting going.

Nice blaze now. Time to put on gloves and take courage in both hands!

Action shot of me wielding spade to start sealing it off.

Finished article - one slightly smoking wheelbarrow!

I can't seem to link back to the pictures so here's the link to my photostream - - if you want to see big shots or indeed any of the other random stuff I take photos of.

In a couple of days I'll see if it feels cool and whether I feel like digging it up... and then I'll know if it worked or not.


Friday, 28 August 2009

It's been a while

I've been a victim of low resources - money, time and health. On the money front I've been scanning Freecycle pretty much every day I've been around to collect stuff and that's starting to pay off. I now have an old metal wheelbarrow and a load of wood, mostly an old bed and shelving unit.

While this might sound like junk, I have a plan! Dig a hole about the size and shape of the wheelbarrow, stack the wood in it and set fire to the lot. When it's blazing away nicely, upend the wheelbarrow over the fire and bury it with the spoil from the pit. After two to three days it should have gone cold and when you dig it out, it'll be full of charcoal.

The only trouble is that I've put my back out and we're getting to the end of school holidays. So I haven't had either the time or the energy to dig a big hole and light a fire. But at least I feel like some progress is being made. And once I start digging holes, I might carry on and actually make a furnace too...