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Julian C.





Joined: 26 Nov 2015

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2016 7:13 pm    Post subject: Building a Forge         Reply with quote

Hello, just wanted some opinions regarding making a forge from scratch. I want one to work in iron and steel, mainly for armour but also for some long weapons and miscellaneous things.
I had in mind cutting a non galvanized oil drum vertically to make the main receptacle (not unlike a barbecue grill) but I'm not sure if the metal is thick enough to withstand so much heat for long periods of time, the size seems good for heating whole breastplates and swords for quenching, but looking at other designs I'm thinking it might be overkill.
That's my main concern, but suggestions on air sources, refractory bricks, coal, or anything really are most welcome!
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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 161

PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan, 2016 2:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I built one recently for my arrowheads, and the refractory cement I made was a mixture of clay cat litter, wood ash and Portland cement. Mixed with just enough water to form a very thick paste, and used to coat the steel sink that I was using for the main forge body. Works like a charm, if you don't mind a few cracks etc.

Make sure you have the tuyere coming in from the right place depending on what fuel you're using - if you're using coal it should be coming in from the bottom of the forge, but charcoal prefers side-blast. Charcoal forges are also far easier to build as they don't burn as hot as coal.
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Daniel Wallace




Location: Pennsylvania USA
Joined: 07 Aug 2011

Posts: 580

PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan, 2016 7:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm kind of in the same boat you are, I've been aiming to build a forge for a year and just haven't gotten to it.

materials are getting easier to find. #1 koh-wool when you build a forge - you want something with a IR reflective quality. koh-wool and soft fire brick work by reflecting heat back into the body of the forge not absorbing it.

refractories (I can't say for the home made kind Will has stated) but they usually just supply a durability that the brick and wool don't have they're soft airy fragile refractory is like concrete that can withstand the temp. refractory also (I did not know this previously) is like a pizza stone - it retains heat that's why you usually see forges with only a thin layer to protect the wool or brick. if you build the entire forge from just refractory, it would be a 2000 degree stone.

personally, if you don't mind getting dirty - and you can get away with it, just make a coal forge. their set up is bigger, but its just so much more versatile. build a fire as big as you need for what your working on, coal is still cheap - it welds with just a little air. if I could burn coal in my bough I would have built my forge already. trouble with coal - its dirty to work with, you need a designated area to work with it, fire tending is a art and takes time to learn.
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Harry Marinakis




Location: Kingdom of ∆thelmearc
Joined: 30 Jul 2012
Likes: 1 page
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Posts: 656

PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan, 2016 5:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's not as complicated as it seems. Just jump in and DO IT!
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Julian C.





Joined: 26 Nov 2015

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan, 2016 7:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the info everyone. Iím still unsure about what size would be good for what I wanna use it for though.

@Will S: Thatís interesting, do you have the parts of the recipe? Sounds prone to screw ups.

@Daniel Wallace: I will have to look into koh-wool, thanks for the info. My original plan was to cover the inside of an oil barrel with refractory bricks, do you think it will be tough enough to endure repeated uses? Coal seems like a fine choice


@Harry Marinakis: Space is not much of a concern, but portability is, no need to be super light or small, but I do need to be able to move it to an inside place from time to time and maybe transport it in a van or some large vehicle. So I think based on what you say I would rather use coal. Your forge looks really nice, but while I imagine itís great for swords I donít know if it would be suitable for bigger stuff, like armour.
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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 161

PostPosted: Sat 09 Jan, 2016 3:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No recipe as such, but its hard to get wrong. It's just there to stop the steel surround melting. I've made batches that crack a bit, and some that stay wet and they all work fine. You can add straw, dirt, clay, whatever you have around.

Nice thing about doing it this way is you can easily move or add bits to shape the fire pit for different work. Once you accept and get used to the lining moving and changing then you can just get on with forging. Some people I know pull their lining out each session, resoak it and replace it every time.
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Michael B.
Industry Professional



Location: Chugiak, AK
Joined: 18 Oct 2007

Posts: 356

PostPosted: Sat 09 Jan, 2016 5:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I started forging two years ago, first forge was a hole in the ground with a pipe and a hair dryer, eventually built a tub one on a stand, built from free scrap I found. I now have a propane forge. You'll find an invaluable resource over at iforgeiron and the bladesmithforum and anvilfire. Literaly hundreds of plans and tips for building at every size and budget. You don't really need or want anything the size of an oil drum even for swords though, that'll take a lot of gas to heat. I'm working on a 28 inch blade right now in a small single burner forge built from an old tank, smaller than a standard 20 lb propane take.
www.facebook.com/bearmountainforge2
Michael Bergstrom
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Daniel Wallace




Location: Pennsylvania USA
Joined: 07 Aug 2011

Posts: 580

PostPosted: Sat 09 Jan, 2016 7:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

take a look here and read read read. this beginners section is what I tried to research with in the years I haven't forged. http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?s=d...owforum=26

fire bricks will work, but you should check the specs from the manufacture. you want to make sure you use a brick that is rated for 2200 -2400 degrees F. if you expect to do any wielding in the forge and ir reflective is important. soft fire brick is fine to use by itself many guys build that igloo styled forge. welding flux will eat the brick away, and banging steel into it will do the same. their not very durable.


I've had the privilege of working with several different professional smiths over the past 2 years - I found a school in the area - and from what I've learned from them, there's no wrong way to do anything in blacksmithing, but there are dangerous ways of doing them. but they're not as dangerous as you think. in all honesty, (I work more with wood currently) I think blacksmithing is a safer hobby than carpentry. yes, you will get burned, not a question of if - its when. mind your bench grinder. its funny to say, but this is probably the most dangerous tool in everyone's home shop.

if you get the chance to take classes, take them - they build confidence, teach you things that you may never have thought of on your own. and you'll get different perspectives on how things can be done.

dive in, blacksmithing is the simplest trade sometimes. if you make something too short, you hit it with a hammer. if you make something too long, you hit It with a hammer. see simple. Razz
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