Introduction: 2-day $20-$50 Blacksmithing Forge

Picture of 2-day $20-$50 Blacksmithing Forge

A How-To on how to make a small forge

Step 1: The Stuff

Picture of The Stuff

Clay- From a potters-shop

Fan- From one of those tacky inflatible palm trees

Metal Chair- I got one from a junkyard. Stacked bricks will also work

Safety Wire- $5-$10 at hardware shops

Big Speaker- Found an old steel one at my church as well

Quickcrete- $3 on sale

Light Fixture- Got an old one from my chicken coop ($5 new)

Steel Pipe- Easily found at a junkyard/scrapyard. Be cautious: I unwisely used galvanized steel. Though the dangers are exaggerated, if used in an enclosed space, can be pretty rough.

Tire Rim- can be found at a junkyard too.

A Hack Saw- Every man should have one of these

I think that covers it- on to Step 2

Step 2: The Quickcrete

Picture of The Quickcrete

Get a burlap sack and put about 2-3 lbs of DRIED clay and pound with a sledge-hammer until the clay is a coarse powder. Edit: An old blender (salvation army, goodwill, ect) also works really well for this.

Mix the Quickcrete according to the "instructions"
I mixed about 3/8 bag of quickcrete to 3/4 gallon of water.

Put the water, Quickcerete, and clay in a 5-gallon bucket.

Mix the mix until it is just under a tacky consistency.

Step 3: The Stand

Picture of The Stand

With the sledge break of the seat and backing of the chair.

Strip the speaker of the paper, the magnet, and copper coil until there is nothing but metal left.

Attach the speaker to the chair with the safety wire make sure it is very sturdy (you may weld if you like).

Edit: Speaker (obviously) isn't necessary. I used this to raise the forge-pot higher, to preference. In more recent builds, I've used brick--greater stability, more available, but less mobile.

Step 4: The Guts of the Heat

Picture of The Guts of the Heat

Get the lid from a Boy Scout popcorn tin and punch a hole the size of the steel pipe. This is only to fill the hole at the base of the tire rim. It works really well, but any thin sheet metal works (again, based on availability).

If holes are in the tire rim put tin foil over them (several layers thick).

Put the lid of the tin over the axle hole on the tire.

Step 5: The Heat

Picture of The Heat

The Quickcrete should be ready. In globs, put the Quickcrete/clay on the tire rim.

Be very careful to allow no air pockets under the 'crete, as they will explode, and hurt.

After the layer of Quickcrete is 3in-4in thick, smooth the surface.

Step 6: The Fan

Picture of The Fan

Cut the light fixture at the top. cram inside the "blowhole" of the fan.

Using the hack-saw, make a 1in long "V" cut in the pipe appx. 10-12in from the top.

Put the long end in the fan, and put the other end in the forge(I did this before I adhered the Quickcrete).

Step 7: The Pride

Picture of The Pride

Stand back and gawk at your new creation. Smile because it is time to test it.

Warning: Heat slowly because the fire will expand any air/water and destroy parts of your beautiful forge. I'd recommend an initial burnout--start a small wood fire in the pot, and slowly increase the intensity for about 5 hours.

You are now done.

Tell me how yours worked, but if you die, it is not my fault.

If you have any questions, ask, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Edit: Another concern. If you blacksmith out of a shelter, place something over the forge when you're done. Precipitation will do a number on the surface of the material--as you re-heat it. Also, I live in Ohio, and the weather isn't exactly consistent--freezing and thawing (with moisture in the forgepot) will lead to it breaking down after about 2 years.


Anthony JanY (author)2016-11-12

I'm not an expert, but what if we mix the clay with sand (50:50 ratio, I guess). It will greatly reduce shrinkage and water-trapping since sand doesn't shrink and doesn't hold water. I think it will also make the clay stronger and more heat-resistant. Silica sand would be better, as I've heard.

Also, pulverizing the dry clay before mixing it with sand will be better. It will allow you to accurately measure the amount of clay (it's hard to measure the clay if it is wet, since the water in it is heavy).

RyanP53 (author)2015-10-04

Would this safely melt iron for die casting?

Also, can you go into more detail for your initial burnout procedure?


OldOwlIronworks (author)RyanP532015-10-18

Forgot to add, about the burnout. Really, the idea is to remove all the moisture, without compromising the actual structure in the process. What I did for this project was: let it dry a few days--more is better. During that time, I filled cracks that formed with watery slip (watery-er the better, because trapped air is what causes the forge to pop and crack the first few runs), and let dry some more. The whole process was probably 4 or 5 days--longer wouldn't hurt. Then, I started a wood fire in the forge and built it up over the next 3 hours. I used wood the first few forging sessions, and had no problems. If you're brave, you could put this in an oven and slowly increase temperature (start it at 180 F for 1.5 hrs, 200F, 1 hr, 230, 1hr, 260, 1hr, ect) I'd probably start a bit below waters BP, just to prevent gas buildup, and allow any large amounts of water to diffuse out. Wear safety glasses for sure, the first few times (always, but that's not always practical), because there are little spots that can and will flake off if it gets heated to quickly.

Now. You want to cast. You could use a brake drum lined with firebrick, and grouted with the mix used in this instructable. I have a forge that I built for larger applications, and it melts copper no sweat--which is about 1000deg off where it needs to be. That forge uses a hand crank, so dry coal, electric air, and patience should melt iron in it.

OldOwlIronworks (author)RyanP532015-10-18

You'd probably need something much larger. Like much much larger. I've recently been playing around with crucible steel; and it takes a massive forge (for 5ish lbs of steel yield, I'm talking a 3x3x3 kiln. The issue is how the heat is transferred. In casting, you need some sort of vessel to hold the material, so all the energy to melt needs to migrate that barrier, then the amount of energy it requires to convert from solid to liquid comes into play. For a cleaner burning, smaller forge, look into propane crucible steel--same premise for ferrous casting.

lukekitash12 (author)2015-10-13

How much clay?

Though the clay I used was dry, it could have had a bit of water to it; making weight an unreliable measurement. I used 3 lbs, ish. Honestly, I wrote this instructable a few years ago, and it could definitely use an update. If low low low cost isn't the issue, there are furnace cements that are much more reliable than a homemade mix.

Evilblaze (author)2009-05-16

Wow, nice instructable. What do you think, can I make a foundry to melt titanium with a similar way like this? The titanium melts at 1700 Celsius, it means much more heat needed than in this case (aluminum melting).

The titanium is produced this way:

snowluck2345 (author)Evilblaze2011-09-29

no, you would have to seal the titanium in an inert environment or it would combust.

I have worked titanium several times in both coal and propane, in a non-reducing atmosphere. I have never had an issue with combustion. Many smiths can validate this statement

Hmm I don't know if my forge would be capable of producing such temps. of 1700 Celcius (3092 F) nessesary for forging Titanium. It may be able to get the metal red-hot, but probably won't melt it. I am currently working on a new instructable for a different forge that may suit your purposes. Did you actually make Titanium, I saw that article in PopSci-Gray Matter and really wished I could do that. Thanks for the comment! --KatanaKreater

_Scratch_ (author)2011-06-04

Wow, your church has a lot of junk...

jjhammerstein (author)2008-11-12

It's much easier to use a brake drum from a truck for your fire bowl. I found mine on the side of the highway somewhere. It has the same thermal mass qualities, and I'm pretty sure junk car lots are easier to find than pottery supply shops. Cheaper too.

yeah while brake drum forges are nice they have barely enough room to make a decent knife, unless your using a monster truck drum

I use a monster brake drum. :D

Demascus (author)jjhammerstein2011-04-23

me too, made 2ft by 3 ft long table out of angle iron and 1/8 inch steel plate for the table bed, cut a hole in it just big enough to allow the brake drum to sit down in it and is held by that little rim on the outside edge all brake drums have. Use a large table fitting about 2inch diam pipe drilled holes in the inside edge of the brake drum (where the tire mounting nuts go.) used clay to pack a little bit around it and then made a 1/2 inch thick plate with holes in that set on the bottom. and I use coal, once it is started I keep adding more til it makes a mole hill in the middle of the forge. You use a watering sprinkler can to wet down the coal and keeps the fire from spreading also makes it coke up in there. I punch a little hole in the side of it and creates a "little cave" that way I can see my stuff and not melt it off. (yes I have done that) with just coal and air the thing gets over 3,000 degrees inside it will burn steel.literally

seabee890 (author)jjhammerstein2010-02-24

the blacksmith that was teaching me used the top of a old water heater tank(the inside not the outside, this made a natural cleanout hole at the bottom. I miss the smell of burning coal sometimes.

That is a great idea for a forge, I plan to build a Blacksmiths shop as well as a new forge this summer. And the smell of coal will never get old(:

my goal is to find a way to create a power hammer without  the weight and space, i was going to use a cherry picker and a jack hammer  set up so that i could custom make the bits but i have not got the space for a shop yet.

Ah that may work, and a good Idea, but where would you get the jackhammer? just wondering. Ive had some thoughtsabout a trip hammer and may even make it traditionally, but with a electric(possibly) motor

a possibly more complicated way to do it may be to observe some clock movements. use a pendulum and gear setup to lift and drop a hammer. need big weight on the pendulum tho.....

also, i a blacksmith book i bought, there was an 'un' powered hammer that used ur foot to hammer. maybe i draw a pic, if i can figure out how to upload one. basically, hammer is on an axle. a leaf spring (which was made of wood in the pic) was attached to a chain, rope, ect, looped over a pully and attached to the hammer.

another chain-thing was attached to the axle (or an arm attached to the axle, for more leverage....). the other end of the chain was attached to a foot pedal. hands are free to manover the metal and such, while the foot moved the hammer.

Demascus (author)badideasrus2011-04-23

you use a electric motor, and the spring for a car or truck the gears and stuff are not really needed unless you want to make it a multi speed unit.
you make a cam our of a piece of square steel tubing . can also be made out of a large square piece of wood. the spring with hammer head on the end is held down on the other end and it rests on the square tubing. AS the motor turns the tubing is acts like a cam and raises the piece and lets it fall. Germans had one that used a water wheel and large logs that Ka thunked down with steel heads to pound their steel. I can makes some drawing if anyone needs more visiable information

n0ukf (author)jjhammerstein2008-11-18

Why would you want thermal mass in your firepot? More thermal mass takes more energy (more coal) to heat. Also, while the wider pot of a truck brake drum would give you more working area for the 'fire', you don't want the pot very deep if you want to heat anything very long (like say, a larger dagger or sword for the blade makers).

I've tried to work with a deep firepot, but to heat the middle of a longer piece, I had to either build the fire way up or bend the piece to get it down into the coals (coke). That's why so many smiths will have a more table type forge with the fire built up more in a pile. There is a firepot below the surface, but it's not that deep.

You can go to Anvilfire to learn more, they're very helpful there.

I got the clay from my uncle for Christmas last year. Where I live pottery clay is about $1-$2 a pound so 3 lbs. isn't hugely expensive. But I agree that car pieces are easier to find.

Dumchicken (author)2011-04-20

you mean inflatable

jakenzi357 (author)2011-01-08

i died.

ichbinoadie (author)2008-11-17

Slow-curing something like this is VERY important. I might also suggest you put some thick perforated plate or a bar stock grid over the hole. Clinkers will clog that in minutes if you ever managed to fire coal in there. It also looks a bit deep to me. You don't need anything larger than a brake drum for a small-ish forge because without a large series of tuyeres (air holes), only a small area of fuel is getting sufficiently heated, anyway. A metal table built around the brake drum holds extra fuel to be raked in as needed. I'd be curious as to just how hot this thing actually gets. What size bar stock did you heat in that pic? I know from experience that you can get thinner stock well past cherry red in an old Weber kettle grill with commercial charcoal briquettes. Heck, you can smelt with nothing but mud, clay, and bellows. Not easy or efficient, but doable. Hope my commentary was at least mildly constructive. Great to see people actively DIYing blacksmithing/casting type projects. Finally, a disclaimer: My comments are mostly scholarly, not experiential. Hard to play with fire on almost any scale in a rented house with no yard right off a commercial street in a college town. But I've done my homework relatively thoroughly and have spoken with several people quite in the know. Take it or leave it.

thanks for commenting about dangers. I don't have a thermometer that goes over 300 degrees F. the "bar stock" I am not sure as to its size, but it was about as big around as my thumb.

what you need for a thermometer is a pyrometer... it's the same thing but a much higher temperature capacity... be careful though, they can damage your wallet . with experience you can guesstimate temp by color. that's what was used throughout history

badideasrus (author)redhand rik2010-10-19

why not get an infrared thermometer. i think i've seen a couple cheap ones somewere....

Diverguy83 (author)2008-12-31

i dont know about using concrete cause that crap explodes when heated to high temps ... i just went to the pottery shop and got some fireclay for pretty cheap plus i use a brake drum and i havent had any problems making knives with it.

Great. I couldn't find fireclay for a reasonable price or anywhere near me. How much did you pay for yours? And concrete is a little unsafe when first exposed to the heat, so if making a forge from quick-krete/clay use precaution when first using. And also, my forge isn't waterproof, so don't let it sit in the rain.

you can use kitty litter but it has to be crushed up first. It will not work whole an old blender and some window screen works well and oh yeah some time and Patience too. (maybe an hour or two to get a few LBS )

seabee890 (author)grimcat272010-09-09


no i keep mine in the garage but as far as the fireclay goes i just looked up a rinker materials plant and picked up a 50 pound bag for about 23 bucks after taxes.

skaar (author)Diverguy832009-06-20

if you look at the diy foundry sites, you'll find that a mix of cement and vermiculite works well as a refractory, so it, can't be too bad to use cement. i think maybe it's the rocks in concrete that crack, but there's no rocks in the clay/cement mix.

Cube Steak (author)2010-05-27

Ouch.... not nice.... And Isaac, your such a freak Haha....

OldOwlIronworks (author)2010-02-10

In the Instructable, I did not mean a bike tire rim, but rather a common vehicle wheel. I got mine from a locale vehicle dealership for free but one may be able to find one for a small fee.

Roger4Wheel (author)2009-09-29

He didn't use concrete (sand cement and gravel). He used mortar mix (sand cement and lime). quick-crete, kwick-crete, and others are just BRANDS of concrete type products. If you have a bunch of fire brick (broken or not) from an old chimney or fireplace, you can break then grind it up into a course powder and when mixed with fireplace mortar will make a nice mix to use for forges (not for iron or steel melting)

petzlglyph (author)2009-07-24

Fire clay is available from most masonry suppliers it is used for building fireplaces. I should be fired before it dry's out. I just used it to build a melting furnace and had no problems with exploding, just a few small cracks into which I placed more fire clay before the next firing. I used a mixture of two parts 60 grit silica sand and one part fire clay. The first firing needs to be a long one to cure the fire clay. I filled it with charcoal ( Bar-B-Que type ), light the charcoal and let burn till all of it is ignited ( lots of steam will form ). Then turn on the blower ( low if possible ) until all of the charcoal is consumed. then cover the top with a ( dry ) stepping stone or something non combustable to hold in the heat until it cools on it's own. The charcoal produces nasty fumes do this outside. Great Instructable, I like your use of available resources!

Thundertydus (author)2009-04-04

Damn, I Died.. If i could sue you... Hmmm..

trf (author)2009-03-24

i used refractory cement...proably the most durable thing there is for a forge. Put some in a wheelbarrow and add water till u get the consistency you want. I kept mine stiff. I just globbed it in there and smoothed it out. If youd like to see my forge, visit .
I will be adding more pictures of usage and such in the coming days on my next project.

ebothwell1 (author)2008-12-03

This will work, but I would add a few more safety and performance caveats.

1. Concrete is not refractory. It will fail eventually; quite possibly not at a good time. Be certain to allow a bunch of old coal to be between the fire and the concrete to try and keep it from over heating.

2. The rocks in the concrete may not be the right type; this is especially a risk with quickcrete. Some rocks explode when heated. Not usual, but possible. Best to use a cement which is heavy on sand rather than rocks

3. Yes, as ichbinoadie notes, the concrete must be completely cured before using the forge. Otherwise it will steam, and possibly pop or explode.

4. jjhammerstein et al note a break drum forge is an good option for a home made forge. It is designed for a higher temp tolerance than concrete.

Remember, things that unexpectedly go boom are bad...

Yes, very unsafe but don't be stupid.

n0ukf (author)ebothwell12008-12-07

One reason rocks explode in fire is because of trapped moisture becoming steam. I've seen rocks from the lake shore explode when used to ring a fire due to the steam pressure. Before you start forging with a lined firepot, you'll want to make sure the lining is fully dry. The thicker it is, the longer it needs to dry. Just because concrete or furnace cement is hard, doesn't mean it's dry yet.

ebothwell1 (author)n0ukf2008-12-09

Exactly! I would encourage anyone, man or woman, with a real interest in the craft to find a teacher and take up hammering; but you have to be smart about it. The safety factor has to out weigh the cool factor, our it won't just be minor burns and injuries you'll collect along the way.

The work is fun; but, it is work. However, there is no better reward than making something that didn't exist before you put your sweat and your energy into it.

canida (author)2008-11-12

Nice! Any pictures of your forge in use?

OldOwlIronworks (author)canida2008-11-13

Yes sorry I meant to include these with my Instructable, but I forgot so... (also this is the wood when I was first testing it.)

An add-on to the previous comment; I couldn't take a picture of the metal red-hot because need 2 hands to handle the metal and a hand to take a picture. Since I don't have 3 hands, I can't take the picture...yet.

handidad (author)OldOwlIronworks2008-12-05

Doesn't your camera have a timer?

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a student at Ohio University Main campus; majoring in Chemistry and Biology, minoring in Physics and Mathematics. My blacksmithing projects and practices are ... More »
More by OldOwlIronworks:2-day $20-$50 Blacksmithing Forge
Add instructable to: