2-day $20-$50 Blacksmithing Forge





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

A How-To on how to make a small forge

Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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.



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    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).

    Would this safely melt iron for die casting?

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


    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.

    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.

    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.

    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