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New burner - development and discovery

Discussion in 'Hammer & Tongs' started by Atlas Knife Company, Sep 12, 2013.

  1. Atlas Knife Company

    Atlas Knife Company KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 16, 2010
    Let me preface this by stating that I'm not trying to sell my burners here. I just wanted to relate the experience of developing a product and the support that BFC has given me over the years to get to this point.

    As many of you know, I began manufacturing forges for sale a couple years ago. I was constantly trying to make improvements to the forge to get it up to the quality of more well-known forges. The basis of the forge was the 2BF, or two brick forge. A simple design, made more solid and reusable. After two years with the assistance of the BladeForums community, I've developed a strong forge design that exists in over 100 shops, and at least one college in Canada. My son, Graham, and I build them. He does most of the brick work and cutting, a local source does the CNC plasma cutting, and I do the welding and tapping.

    Last stack of forges that my son, Graham, helped me build

    It was still using a modified propane torch that only produced around 6000 BTU, about 1/4 of the recommended 450BTU/inch for forge welding. I was given a burner by one of the burner manufacturer to test with the Atlas Mini Forge. It worked great, but was big and complex. I've always tried to keep my forge under the $250 mark, and adding an $85 burner would move it way beyond that price. I tested a "foundry burner" on eBay that was much simpler, hoping that it's relative simplicity would be easier to reproduce. I tried and tried, but just couldn't get the burner to work. I couldn't sell them with the forge and expect people to make them work if I couldn't get them to work.

    I went over to a machinist friend's shop and was discussing it with him. He showed me the burner on his furnace and it was so much simpler than a side-arm burner. Just a gas intake tube and an orifice for the gas about ¼" away. No choke, no flare, just a very simple design. I hastily put together something from the design in my head and tried lighting it. Voila! It just worked. No tuning, other than how far to insert it in the forge. I took it to a friends house and we used it on the forge I gave him two years ago. It was the first forge I ever built. It had none of the forge improvements I've made over the last two years. We stuck the burner in and lit it and proceeded to forge weld our first piece of cable damascus. I took a box of the burners up to a hammer-in and we ran them hard for the weekend. I managed to melt my thermocouple trying to determine the temp of the Atlas using the new burner! The only problem I've had with them was a buyer from eBay who couldn't get it to light. It turned out that he had an empty propane tank.

    Sidearm on top, First prototype 30k on left, eBay foundry middle, 250k prototype on right

    I've been asked to make a bigger burner by a vendor, something around 100k BTU. I scaled up the design and tested it, and it seems to work. Sam currently has it and I'm waiting for him to give thumbs up/down, but I'm expecting him to approve it. I've also built a 250K BTU burner, but I don't have a forge big enough to even begin to test it with.

    Here's the final result, a great, cheap, efficient 30k BTU burner. Stainless steel, brass, and a bit of an old school design capable of 30,000 BTU and proven to be capable of forge welding in a simple 2BF. Competitors will hate me for this, but it sells for less than 1/3 what theirs sell for. My cost to build is less than the cheapest propane torch you can buy, and I've priced them accordingly.
  2. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    This is awesome!! Would you consider selling the plans with specs? I have the equipment to make one, but you put the time and effort into developing this, and I would want to support that. Are they for sale in the exchange? I might just buy a few of them off of you to support your work here.
  3. Atlas Knife Company

    Atlas Knife Company KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 16, 2010
    I just want to point out that Atlas Knife Company is named after my 12 year old son, Atlas. My older son, Graham, gets his name on other projects such as wine, whiskey, and beef jerky. I try real hard not to play favorites. Graham has posted a couple knives and participated in a couple KITHs here and loves to attend hammer-ins. Building the forges has become a part time job for him, and he keeps half the net profit from any forges that we sell through the exchange. Graham is also going to take over building the etchers, as soon as fall baseball season is over.

    Willie, I just posted the burners in the exchange.
  4. Marko3


    Dec 12, 2010
    I have one of you older forges. I put in a larger burner last year and I have excellent results. I did gut it and added wool and refractory and them I put a T REX burner on it. It's a nice stout forge that is compact and gets hot. I don't do my heat treating in it but I know with the adjustable burner it could easily do a pretty controlled heat treat in it due to the fact of its small size.

    Glad to see you got a new burner in it because in my opinion that was one of the only downside of it.
  5. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Zaph, I have one too, two years old come Christmas time. I have used it very hard and no complaints. I just HT ed a batch of 27 knives in it today, (long day). They are in the oven tempering right now. 1084, 52100 and damascus from those guys in Alabama. Even though I work in batches I have no plans on upgrading to a larger forge. Atlas is working well for me. Cool that you named it after your son.
  6. tmanifold


    Jul 5, 2010
    One question. Will you ship a burner to Canada?
  7. Atlas Knife Company

    Atlas Knife Company KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 16, 2010
    I have these posted in the exchange. Please ask purchasing relevant questions in that thread. That being said, Yes, I shipped a forge and burner both to Edmonton last Thursday.
  8. NickWheeler


    Dec 3, 1999
    Very cool thread... awesome story!!! :thumbup: :cool:
  9. Travis Fry

    Travis Fry

    Jun 11, 2010
    I am considering one of these as a general forging forge (and maybe some very minor welding) with the thought that it would be more efficient for every day use. I think if I did this I'd still want a larger welding forge, but I see this as both a low cost entry to forging that would meet 90% of my needs and a potential money saver even after I build something larger. Any thoughts on this plan?
  10. Jason Fry

    Jason Fry

    Jun 5, 2008
    My thoughts on Travis' plan is that I had the same thoughts. That's the same reason I keep my 7x7" heat treat kiln... no sense in heating up a big kiln if a small one will fit the folder blades and smaller knives. I've got some of the parts gathered up to make a blown forge, but maybe I'll just keep those for when I get to welding...
  11. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    Same here. I have a 2 brick forge, a 1 brick forge, and used to use a 10 brick forge, which is being replaced with a propane tank forge. I use the smaller forges for the smaller knives and minis, so I don't have as much waste. I don't just mean wasted fuel, but I'm trying to be environmentally conscious as well.
  12. coldsteelburns


    Aug 2, 2010
    Is there any chance you could make a video showing 2 of your Atlas forges running at the same time, one with the original burner and one with the new burner? That would be fun and interesting to see :) I agree, this is a great thread as well as story. I'm not very burner savvy, but I have built 2 modified side arm burners, one from parts from lowes etc, and one with parts from hightemptools.com and I'm curious to see how that new burner works. It looks sooo simple, I wonder if it get better btu's than the modified side arm burners from hightemptools as well as from zoeller forge..? Anyway thanks for sharing :)

  13. Atlas Knife Company

    Atlas Knife Company KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 16, 2010
    I could do that, if I had any of the old burners left. I'll see if I can find one. I still have a sidearm burner, I'll put it in the test also. I'll get the camera out this weekend and see what I can do.
  14. coldsteelburns


    Aug 2, 2010
  15. Atlas Knife Company

    Atlas Knife Company KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 16, 2010
    Pictures don't really show the difference very well. However, I have checked both burners with a thermocouple. The new torch melted my thermocouple, which is rated for 2350°.

    [table="width: 500, class: grid, align: left"]
    [td]MT245C Magna Torch[/td]
    [td]Atlas Mini Burner[/td]
    [td]Max Temp of forging stock[/td]
    [td]rear of chamber[/td]

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