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"Wow, what a showstopper. The lines and the color of BackFlip could not have been more perfect. You go, Kevin!"
--Karen Leff, realtor, Phoenix, Arizona

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How to Fire Up a Forge to Bend Metal for a Sculpture

The Voice: Hey, Kevin. What are you doing on a hot day in June in Phoenix?

Kevin Caron: It's not hot. We always build fires out here in the middle of June.
This is my forge. It's a coal fire forge, just like the blacksmiths still use to shoe horses.

I'm creating a metal sculpture. This will be an ocotillo - a plant native to the Arizona desert - made out of railroad spikes. Previously, I fabricated sticks like this out of railroad spikes and then I bent them with the oxygen-acetylene torch.

Well, this time I'm going to fire up the forge and see if that goes any quicker and easier than burning up $200 worth of oxygen and acetylene to try to bend these. Of course, I picked a day that was going to be 106 to come out here and light the forge. But that's OK. It's fun anyways.

This is just a little fire pot out of cast iron down here in the middle. It's got an electric blower to keep the air flowing through it. Every now and again you've got to feed a little coal to it.

You've also got to water it down a little. My coal is sitting in this bucket here with all the black water in it - I do that to soak the coal. It'll soak up a little bit of water, and that makes it burn just a little bit slower.

I also add a little water to the fire right there, pour a little on either side of it, just to help concentrate the heat inside and soak the coal a little bit; make it slow down a little. I don't want to just burn it up just as fast as it possibly can.

Then you have to just keep an eye on the spikes and when they're about ready to bend, you pull them out of the fire, come over to the anvil right here (see, I've got it bolted down to the concrete so it'll stay in one place).

This is a hardy. Don't ask me why. I have no idea why they call it hardies. It just goes in the square hole with a square peg. Then I've got this little fork on here so I can bend things in.

It's like butter. No resistance there at all. I'm sure if we were inside you would see that it is just glowing a nice, bright cherry red.

I think this method actually does work a little better, as far as getting the spikes hot enough to be able to bend them.

Now that I'm getting down towards the ends of this string, that end is probably at about eight, nine hundred degrees. These are not asbestos gloves.

Now we break out the metal tongs. These are what you use to grab that hot metal on either end. And then you can sit there and work it and bend it. You can also work in the fire with them; they keep you from burning your fingers.

If the wind would settle down, I could stay on one side of the fire. But it likes to chase me. It's just like a campfire.

Let me pay attention to what I'm doing here. See you in the next YouTube video.

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