Instructables
Picture of Brake drum blacksmith forge
My son caught the blacksmithing bug while he was at summer camp so we investigated building our own blacksmith forge and found that brake drum forges are a very popular way to get into the hobby.  We built our blacksmith forge out of a brake drum, 2" pipe, cinder blocks, a light dimmer switch and hair dryer.  Here is a video with all of the same pictures in this instructable plus a short video at the end of the forge in action.

 
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Step 1:

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This is the basic design.  A 2" floor flange was bolted to the underside of the brake drum to which a 2" coupler was used to attach it to a 2" T-connector.  A longer coupler was attached to the side to accept the hair dryer and a bottom pipe was attached to the bottom to collect the ash.  This is usually capped with a 2" cap so the air can't escape that direction but I didn't want to have to wait until the forge cooled to unscrew the cap and empty the ash and I was concerned the cap would become permanently attached by rust since the forge would be stored outside in the rain.  I'll show you how we handled that part.

Note: The brake drum was free but it took visits to several garages to find it because brake drums are harder to find now that disc brakes are becoming more common on the rear wheels of new cars.  A large brake rotor with a large hub will work but the hub will still not be as large as even an average-sized brake drum.

Step 2:

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The forge was designed to be very basic and modular so it could be broken down easily for storage so we just used three cinder blocks for the base.

Step 3:

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Instead of capping the bottom pipe, we used a paint can filled with water to catch the ash and keep the air from the hair dryer from escaping through the bottom.
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I'm building one of these brake drum forges and beware anyone looking to purchase the black iron pipe, I bought an actual 2 inch thread flange, they are very expensive for actual 2 inch thread flanges (47 dollars, I was discounted about 70%) keep this in mind, go a bit smaller and more common.

aenewton6 months ago

will this work with 1 3/4" diameter pipe because i cant find any 2" pipe in my area

for both pipe amd wood, the measurements are in whole inches, yet the actual dimensions of a 2" diameter pipe is 1 3/4"
aenewton4 months ago

This works great, even if you don't use coal!!! I love it excellent project.

Destroyer475 months ago

Great brake drum forge plans with the bucket of water for an airtight ash dump. Although, I am not sure about the electrical mechanics for the hair dryer since it uses an electrical transformer for the plugin voltage, but some fans require their own especially made dimmer switches for them. I know that the bathroom ventilator, being a 50~55 CFM air supply source for my forge, is more than enough air flow to get a heat of metal to over forge-welding temperatures and so I had found a dimmer switch especially made for them by Lutron for somewhat of a similar price. By any chance, would a 1" thick, 6" x 8" Steel flat-bar plate suffice for an anvil just until I can get the handle on blacksmithing without going to the 'soft as lead' Harbor Freight cast iron?

yes the plate will work until you can find a more suitable anvil I use a piece of railroad track for an anvil and it works great its just really loud

Fikjast Scott6 months ago

Great idea with the water in the bucket. Nice project

Slim497 months ago
WoW! nice job.
found a great info link on all sorts of traditional rural craft including the,
COSIRA Black Smithing course.
http://www.hct.ac.uk/Downloads/craftpublications.html
Good Luck to all.
Slim
As for an anvil anything that is big and heavy and hard will work. I try to stay away from the harbor freight stuff. I used one and not too keen on them. Unless your son finds he really needs the horn you're better off going to a scrap yard or a steel dealer and just getting a 100lb block of steel and using that. A bladesmith that i know uses a waist high 4"dia round bar cast into a 5gal bucket of concrete buried in the ground and that works as well as my 200 year old 208lb anvil for making knives. When using a block of steel "thickness" is better than the size of the surface. I hit gold when i found a block that was 2"thick and was a foot square at 50cents/lb. i used the 2" side as my working surface and it worked great until i got my current anvil.
ive got a 4 inch peice of RR track in a coffe can with concrette for an anvill it works for knives i also use a foot long i beam for big stuff its just really loud
for stuff that is really loud try sticking a few magnets to the side. Got my wife a cast steel anvil a few years back and it was painfully loud to use. Stuck one of those industrial sized magnets (think small paperback book) I got off ebay to the side and that quieted things right down. On occasion it is even useful for keeping things in place.
zacker1 year ago
Great job!!! I have a RR track anvil, unless you can find one that isnt rounded on the top its a bit hard to use. I am toying witht he idea of getting a 4" wide piece of 3/4" thick steel welded to the top of it. Buying a real anvil is almost like buying a car these days, they are so expensive its crazy, as is finding a good Blacksmiths leg vise, At least over here on the East coast. I like this idea, I have a home made Propane burned for now but the coal seems to be a better heat and less money.
my freind found a nice anvil for 20 buck at a yard sail and he doesnt smith im using rr track to
$20.00??? wow. That was a steal! Every time I see one its at least $300.00! I did see on Craigs list once, a guy was selling a steel top work table, he said it was 4 inches thick and somethinglike 2 feet wide by 4 foot long and like 1300 lbs! lol... that would have been the ultimate, a work table / Anvil all in one.you could even sit your forge right on top of it and stick a vise on the side, youd never have to move to do any work...lol
That's something I had not considered... Are there any coal mines in the US?
I suppose we just take coal for granted here in the UK.
Good 'ible - thanks.
From Wikipedia: "The United States was ranked as the 2nd coal producing country in the world in 2010, and possesses the largest coal reserves in the world."

So, yes, lots of them. It is mainly used by industry here (power production). It and isn't something you can run down to the local corner store and buy.
I'm guessing BBQ coal wont work?
bbq coal works ive also used pallet wood
BBQ charcoal is just charred wood pressed into briquettes, not nearly enough heat is produced.
I thought that BBQ charcoal / briquettes, were brown coal (lignite)...

I suppose that comes as a way of reigonal variations, expectations, availability and manufacturers resource materials.

I use BBQ coal to melt aluminum in a small blast furnace I built. It is just fine for providing enough heat. I have to make sure I don't get it too hot as a matter of fact.
why briquettes are a bad idea is due to the clay binders used to hold them into shape. it heats up unevenly as well as sticks to your work which causes excessive pitting. natural hickory charcoal lump is much better.
So.. do you know who is the biggest coal producer in the world?
I believe the Wikipedia article said China.
I don't know about the area you live in but I know that a lot of the landscape supply businesses around here that sell bulk mulch also sell bagged and bulk quantities of coal.
Somewhere in E/Mt. You should be able to Yahoo some up.
I live in west virginia u.s.a. and all of our electric power comes from burning coal along with most of the entire east coast.
If you run out of coal, you can use lump charcoal.It burns VERY hot.
It's usually pretty cheap and you can normally find it at Walmart or other places that sell grilling stuff.
To start it, just soak it in lighter fluid and light it.EASY!!!
But don't use briquette charcoal, it won't burn hot enough.
Coal is hard to find these days, and is usually expensive, so for most people lump charcoal is the best alternative.
railroad tracks have it free
I don't have experience using charcoal, but it if works, it should burn a lot cleaner. The smoke from bituminous coal can be nasty.
That's the truth. I have had to leave the forge, gasping, more than once!
Not wrong, but you can degass the coal to remove the more volatile constituents.

It's a simple process to cook the coal, same as making charcoal.

Only you can put a drum above your fire, with some oily coal in it, and run a pipe into the base of the forge, and left the fuel gasses be consumed like that, while the coal in the drum above, turns to coke.

FWIW, I've had pretty good luck using briquettes. They do, however, burn up quickly.
replayreb (author)  letstormdufield2 years ago
Thank you for the tip!
cody.lomas1 year ago
like the forge ive been smithing for awhile if you live near railroad tracks you can find really good coal for free it burns way hotter and alot longer than charcoal but it smells funny and its hard to light so its better to ad to a lit forge instead of starting with also rr spikes make cool looking knives they dont hold an edge but are good for pratice
The best thing I've found to get your fire started is a propane torch.
there's a cheaper method for getting coal to start, try putting some sawdust at the bottom first light it then put your coal in, a little lighter fluid and/or white gas will make it faster doesn't take much iv'e found 4 oz of white gas will get me the same result as 5 minutes of propane. also try using smaller pieces of coal to start it and if you want to get crazy try coal dust- that makes it light really fast.
my wookie1 year ago
sweet ive wanted to do something like this for a long time now with any luck at all my parents might let me
Bizwenth1 year ago
How well do the blocks take the heat? Do last long.
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