I began to clean and build the fire the way that I would any other fire, but noticed that a beginner who had been shown by Corrie how to build a fire in the worst forge had a roaring fire. I decided to ask Corrie to show me her fire building technique. It was well worth it. She put a can upside down in the hole to keep the airway clean and I packed coke dust into the surrounding area. (Lucky there is an excess of coke dust.) I then poured water onto the dust until it was saturated and left it to soak in. When it looked like wet black cement I pulled the can out.
What happened next was a mistake that is embarrassing to admit and one that I won't forget. I tried to light the fire in this hole! Of course it didn't work. Palm on forehead. ‘Corrie, what have I done wrong?’ The walls of the hole were the shape of the can - straight up and down. The fire would not light in that. Corrie patted down the wall of the hole until the sides had sloped. I have always dug my fire hole with sloped sides before, what made me think that this one should be any different? Maybe I thought that this was a fancy way to build a hole for a deep forge, who knows?
Anyway, I lit the fire again and it worked. It was a good robust fire, and by four it was still as intense as it had been when I lit it. I believe that if I had wanted to I could have fire welded just before knock off. Also, I didn’t have to dig out clinkers. That forge is now my absolute favourite.
The other thing that Corrie told me about this forge was to pile the coke high on top. The theory is that the heart of the fire, the hottest part which supposedly is around the centre, will rise if there is a mound over the fire. This will assure that whatever is put into the forge is heated properly, which can be hard to do in a deep forge.