Yeah, the previous owner put an outy on the air outlet! It’s like a raised grate.
So the issue I had was really an operator issue I think, having only lit a coal fire three times, I was getting coal in the fire from the side and the fire was getting all mixed up. I would get it shoved off center then the air was not “in” the fire. And I couldn’t get any thickness of fire going, meaning I ended up with about two inches of fire under the work, due to the fire squishing out flat.
There may be a day where my fire tending skills will improve, but for now I feel like having a 5" deep hole that contains the fire in a given area will help me a lot, plus my stock can set on the clay like a table horizontal to the fire not nosing down into it.
The forge as it was, was just a big 3ft dish 5" deep, no refractory or “pot” of any type, like a huge upside down trash can lid! The first shots had about two and a half 5 gal buckets of coal in it to give an idea of the volume this thing has…
I lit a handful of cherry hand plane shavings in it and got a three foot flame going with the blower where before it was 18" or so, hopefully that means my air is more consentrated into the firepot area now. A few small fires to dry it out and I’ll update you!