My brother (Bigdaddycole) and I have been talking about building a forge for some time. We finally found some time over the last few weekends and put this together. We used a lot of stuff we had in house, so it was a cheap build. Please comment if you have suggestions or improvements. We have also entered this in the "On a Budget" contest, so if you like it please vote. We hope you like this build!

DISCLAIMER: When using an angle grinder, make sure you use eye protection and gloves. Also make sure you are working in an area free from combustible material. It throws off a lot of sparks and hot metal. Know how to use your tools safely! Be safe, and have fun!

Step 1: Parts List and Tools


Power Drill
Angle Grinder
Socket Set w/ Ratchet
Metal Sheers
Safety Glasses

Parts List:

Queen Size Bed Frame Parts
Brake Drum
Hair Dryer
Assorted 1 1/2 in. Black Pipe
1ea 1 1/2 in. Black Pipe T Joint
1ea 1 1/2 in. Black Pipe End Cap
1ea 1 1/2 in. Black Pipe Floor Flange
4ea Stainless Steal Bolts w/ Nuts
1ea stainless Steal Kitchen Sink Drain Catch

We got the Brake Drum from a junk yard ($14) only to find out later we could have gotten it for free from the local tire repair shop. I had a bed frame in the garage saved for just this sort of project. I also had a metal frame stand left over from my table saw which I had mounted to a more stable structure.

We got the hair dryer and the kitchen sink screen from Family Dollar. The hair dryer was $10, and donated by a friend, John, so he could come over and use the forge when he wanted. As it turns out, this Conair 1875 hair dryer fits perfectly on the 1 1/2 in. black pipe. The sink screen was $1.

The black pipe was all purchased at the Menard's, and cost about $20.

Total out of pocket cost: $45.00 US (We could have saved $14 by going to the tire repair shop for the break drum. Hind sight is 20/20!)

Step 2: Build the Frame

To build the frame we started with the old saw stand I had. This just bolted together. We then cut two pieces of the bed frame with an angle grinder long enough to fit across the top of the saw stand. We measured and drilled holes to bolt these in place on top of the stand. We made them far enough apart to hold the brake drum flat across the top and be stable.

Step 3: The Forge

To build the forge, we started by placing the floor flange in the center of the brake drum and marking the holes we needed to drill. None of the holes lined up with the holes in the drum, so we had to drill all new ones. We used a little drop of oil on each mark, but really had no problem drilling the holes.

Next we cut the sink screen to fit over the hole. I removed the plastic piece from the center and used the metal sheers to make four cuts. We flattened it out and screwed it into place with the floor flange. We just widened the holes that were already on the strainer. We used four stainless steel bolts to hold it all in place. The order of the pieces is as follows: brake drum on the bottom, floor flange (threads pointing down) resting in the hole of the brake drum,and the sink screen on top of the flange.

Step 4: The Bellows

The next step is to build the bellows. The black pipe is used in houses for running natural gas I believe. It's great for all kinds of projects. Here we have three lengths of pipe. Two are long, one is short. Depending on how tall your stand is, you may need different lengths of pipe. We used one long connected to the bottom of the forge by the floor flange. Then we connected the T joint. The short pipe is used as an ash collector, and should be directly below the first long pipe. The end cap is screwed on the other end of the short pipe, and can be unscrewed to remove any ash build up. The other long pipe goes into the T joint, extending out long enough to connect the hair dryer. The hair dryer supplies oxygen to the forge, increasing the heat.

Step 5: Place the Forge on the Stand, and Light Er Up!

The forge and bellows sits on top of the stand, BUT IS NOT CONNECTED! It rests securely on the two braces we put on top of the stand. The weight of the brake drum and black pipe hold it in place. This makes it easy to move around and store. We tested it with some charcoal, and scrap pieces of wood. We started with the hair dryer on low. Once it was burning good, we put it on high, and it got real hot, real fast! Hopefully we will be using it soon to make other instructables!

Please comment below, and let us know what you think, and if you liked it, please vote for us. We are new to this, and are willing to learn. Thanks to Bigdadycole and John for their help.
<p>brake drum, highlight &quot;brake&quot;</p>
<p>if this forge gets hot enough to melt iron/steel when using coal then how come the drum doesnt melt please help im trying to make one of my own and this is a huge concern</p>
Although this forge gets hot enough to make metal malleable, I don't think it will melt the break drum because of the size of the drum. The heat is concentrated in the center where the air flow is and I would guess that the the size of the drum acts as a heat sink to prevent it from melting. The drum is a thick piece of steel, and would need a lot of heat to melt it. If anyone has any other insight on this please let us know!<br><br> If your trying to liquefy metal, you may want to use a foundry. There are a number of instructables for building one, and I plan on making one myself for melting aluminum and silver.
<p>have you considered using lump charcoal?</p>
Yes I have. We haven't had a chance to use the forge yet, but finding the right fuel has been a concern. When we made it, we only had regular charcoal bricketts.
<p>great idea</p>
<p>time to up scale with a semi break drum!</p>
I wouldn't have thought to check my local tire repair shop. I was planning on going to a junkyard this weekend but you may have just saved me time and money. Thanks
Great! I hope it works out! Let me know how it goes.
<p>hi, how did you solve the problem with overheating of hair dryer. I made my own forge but still didnt find a good solution for that.</p>
<p>I'm not the author, but I found two solutions to the hairdryer problem. The first is if you look where the hot air comes out, you'll see a thermal switch that expands or contracts as the dryer heats up. Bypass that, and you won't have to worry about it cutting out (though there could be other problems caused by this, like it catching fire).</p><p>The second solution is that I bought a used Dirt Devil hand vac, which had a removable bag on the rear. I hooked a hose from where the air was blown into the bag and connected it up to my foundry. The outlet on the vac is almost exactly the same size as a hair dryer, so I didn't have to make too many changes. No issues with overheating, and the vacuum cleaner puts out a lot more air, so the fire is much hotter.</p>
<p>You should be able to open up the hair dryer and disconnect the heating coils. I prefer a shop vac and a valve on the connector to adjust air flow.</p>
<p>I'd love to hear exactly how to make the hot knife- we've been looking for a way to cut foam.</p>
<p>use an electric carving knife. you can probably find one at your local thrift store.</p>
<p>Removing the heating coils is also a great source for nichrome wire which can be used to make an almost free hot knife (used for cutting foam). </p>
<p>Should be obvious, but thought I'd better say, the shop vac is connected to the blower, not the vacuum.</p>
So far we haven't had a problem with this. We have been using it outside, and its been cold here in Chicago. I would think, however, that a longer pipe might help if its getting hot from being to close to the forge. If its from the hair dryer itself, from running for long periods of time, it may be time to upgrade your bellows. I have a squirrel cage fan and motor I scavenged from an exhaust vent over a kitchen stove. I plan on incorporating this eventually into the design once I find a permanent home for it. It will take a bit of fabrication to pull off, but that's what its all about! What items have you made on your forge? Good luck, let me know if you come up with another fix. B-)
I just looked up your forge and I love the simplicity of your design! Is the new hair dryer working when the hot air is turned off and it just blows cold air? Is it melting your plastic parts? Let me know and ill try to help.
I would like to see a picture of your set up if you can get one. It would be cool to see how others have set there's up.
<p>A brake drum forge is about the same size as one used by farriers for fitting horseshoes. So it's good for heating about 1-2&quot; of steel at a time, right over the hot spot. The rest of the coal/charcoal in a forge this size can be kept cool by wetting around the perimeter. Move coal into the center to burn it, and let the other coal/ash insulate the center for more concentrated heat. I use a &quot;bucket head&quot; vac for a blower on my big charcoal forge. <a href="http://www.homedepot.com/p/Bucket-Head-5-gal-Wet-Dry-Vacuum-BH0100/202017218" rel="nofollow">http://www.homedepot.com/p/Bucket-Head-5-gal-Wet-D...</a></p><p>its about $21, cheaper on sale, and I use a ball-valve (like a faucet valve) inline to control the air flow. Wide open and with a bag of hardwood lump charcoal (not briquettes!), I can make bloomery steel in the forge.</p>
You know, I have a shop vac, I just thought it might be to strong for a smaller forge, and no way to adjust the flow of air. The ball valve is a great idea for this. If the hair dryer stops working, I will set this up. Thanks!
a waffle compressor can be found on harborfreight.com for between 50-100$ that should be more than enough for this good ible
<p>Low volume, high pressure air is no good for a forge. You need high volume, low pressure, like a fan. Pancake or hotdog compressors are useful for things like nail guns where you need a little bit of air at high pressure.</p>
<p>great job and gives me motivation.</p>
Thanks! I am always amazed and inspired by the things i see on instructables! I'm glad I can contribute my ideas as well.
might want to insulate the housing... a lot of heat is being conducted away from the forge
I was planing on adding a flat surface around it to keep charcoal on so I could feed it in as needed. I am open to suggestions on what to insulate it with. What would you do?
You could also house a large Cast Iron skillet, only problem would be the rust!
The cast iron would hold the heat really well. I don't know how I would cut the whole for the bellows. Any suggestions?
<p>Great job. Wanted to make me one for sometime now. Keep up the great work.</p>
Thanks! I'm glad you like it.
I think this is pretty cool, pretty much because I like anything that involves fire! What's it used for? Annealing? Casting? I'm new to metalworking, although not new to fire :D
This is a small smithing forge. You would use it to make small tools and knives. It is possible to heat treat and harden small objects, as well, but there are other ways to do that which may be easier or more efficient. YouTube has tons of videos showing what you can do! We want to try making some small smithing tongs, and maybe modify some hammers. If we get good, we may try making some small knives, and decorative metalwork. Thanks for checking out the instructable!
Thanks. I am learning old 1700's technology clock making &amp; wanted to make my own gears. I wanted to create some copper alloy or (not sure what) something workable with home workshop tools yet reasonably durable.
You should check out the foundry instructable by The king of random - https://m.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-The-Mini-Metal-Foundry/<br><br>Not sure if you can use it for copper without modding it , but if you are going to cast parts it's a step in the right direction.
<p>I have made something like this and found that you need to cut two slots in the drum sides opposite each other to allow longer pieces to be heated easily. It works really well and great fun. I have made all sorts of stuff with mine. On another note I have connected mine to my compressor so that I can easily control the amount of air and thus the temperature.</p>
Thanks for the suggestions! A slot in the side is a great idea. We don't have an air compressor, but if we get one, we can modify it in the future. ?

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