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Picture of Homemade Forge
Hey guys, today I bring you my step-by-step guide to building your own forge.
A while ago, I decided that I wanted to start doing some more serious metal-working and start in the art of manliness: blacksmithing. My only trouble was that I couldnt find many easy ways of building one, so I began planning and building for myself! Hope this helps anyone with the same predicament. 
 
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Step 1: Your materials

Picture of Your materials
The size of your forge is completely up to you, however for my forge, the materials you will need are: 
58 cement or fire bricks, preferably with the dimensions along the lines of 12"x5"x5"
Steel grating that will be as wide and long as your forge
Air supply/bellows (I used a shop-vac in this case) 
Coal

Step 2: Laying your bricks

Picture of Laying your bricks
First thing you will want to do is to find a location to put your forge. Put it in an open space away from trees and cover so your smoke and carbon monoxide can escape easily.
Next, you will want to flatten the ground you wish to use for your forge. You could even get some extra bricks and use them as a foundation.
Finally, based on your plan, start laying your bricks down. For my particular forge, I wanted it to be a pretty decent size, so I laid them so that there were 2 full brick lengths on each side. 

Step 3: Incorporating your bellows

Picture of Incorporating your bellows
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Keep stacking your bricks in a staggered formation so that the forge is stronger and less likely to collapse. Depending on how high you want your forge to stand will cause a variation on where you put your bellow opening. Originally I was not going to have mine as tall as it was, but I changed that.
Once you have reached the 5th layer of bricks, slide a brick over far enough to fit the nozzle of your vacuum in. You may cut the protruding part of the brick off for aesthetics, however I did not. 

Step 4: Adding your grate

Picture of Adding your grate
This is probably the most straightforward step in this instructable. Place your steel grating on your 6th layer of bricks and continue to stack bricks on top of that, leaving the front open so you can insert your object to be forged. 

The steel grating is there so that as your coal burns down and gets smaller, the ash and useless remnants fall thru and are out of the way. The grating can be moved at a later time to clear the ash out. 

Step 5: Finishing up

Picture of Finishing up
Well, to finish up, you can trim off and protruding ends and fill any gaps in the bricks. I would advise not the use mortar to hold the bricks together as it may crack or explode from the heat if it is not perfectly dried. Your next step is to throw on some coal and fire up your new forge. 
Get yourself some hammers, tongs, punches and chisels, an anvil and get to work.
Thanks for reading!
RagnarH14 days ago

I've two questions, if anyone has time to answer. (I'm starting my own blacksmithing/bladesmithing voyage soon!):

1) Is there any way to safely hold the bricks together? I ask since you said using mortar wouldn't work.

2) Won't the steel grating melt as well? Or it doesn't melt since it's "beneath" the fire?

Thank ye kindly!

joshuajt (author)  RagnarH14 days ago

In terms of the bricks, I am not sure if there is a great way to hold everything together, but this has been around for a while and the bricks have all stayed in place and kept working well thus far!

As for the steel grate, it will warp a little bit due to heat, but it hasn't had any issues so far. Because it is below the heat, and because you are not getting the metal hot enough to melt it as is, the grate shouldn't melt as long as you are using steel grating :)

Alsey brand fire clay is my favorite,I gallon will lay 100 firebrick.You want to butter thin 1/8 inch.Use small fireplace trowel

Wow, thank you for the swift response, Joshua!

As for the grating, guess I'll just do a test run, and if it holds together fine, I'll keep an eye on it after every use. If it warps too much I'll just replace it.

And the refractory mortar makes a lot of sense. Not sure how it is where you live, but it's largely used at my location for those big, orange brick barbecue furnaces.

Many thanks, Master Joshua!

joshuajt (author)  joshuajt14 days ago

Another commenter has suggested using refractory mortar to hold the bricks together tho. I haven't done this, so I can't personally speak to it's effectiveness. But I don't see why it wouldn't work :)

Josh3238 days ago
Would pavers be able to withstand the heat instead of fire bricks?
Will not hold up long before cracking
joshuajt (author)  Josh3238 days ago
I'm not sure what you mean by "pavers".
Nevermind I found sandstone and concrete blocks and I think I'll use those instead. Thanks for the quick response though!
I'm a 30 plus year mason.Use a small fireplace trowel,Butter each firebrick with a product called fire clay,only need a thin 1/8 inch bed.We have built thousands of fireplaces with this product and method.A forge is basically a fireplace
PeterL2211 days ago

Could I use homemade bricks to make this? Plus how do you channel the air up to the fire?

joshuajt (author)  PeterL2211 days ago
I would suggest against using homemade bricks due to the possibility of them cracking and possibly exploding if they contain air bubbles. As for the air flow, I created a small opening in the lower middle of the forge by separating 2 bricks, inserted the air hose and angled it upwards. Seems to work well enough like that, but I do prefer having it blast more at the back wall so that it doesn't blow burning charcoal around.
Thanks for the quick response, but sadly I didn't read it until after I made a homemade brick forge, it hasn't exploded since 2 days ago when I made it but it has been steaming through the cracks. I will want to make either another forge with factory made stones/bricks or make a tabletop forge. As for the air, what should I do if I buy a hand-cranked bellow thingy that doesn't have a hose to channel the air.
joshuajt (author)  PeterL228 days ago

If it has some sort of nozzle on it, find something to raise the bellow up so it is level with the hole, and just put the nozzle into the hole (if it is metal, or plastic, depending on the kind). Should solve your issue :)

tyler.elias4 months ago

what about adding a tin roof on top so if it rains it won't put out your fire?

olivera24 months ago

great design but not very efficient i made mine seven sixteen inch long eight inch wide and four inch thick concrete blocks

MoMoOneTwo1 year ago

thats grate

I see what you did there

MattE46 months ago

You might want to look into a smaller overall setup to make more effecient use of the heat that your charcoal is putting out. other than that, a more directional flow of air will help it burn hotter as well.great build though!

Hey I was wondering what kind of Charcoal do you use for your forge. I also am trying the art of manliness and I have a forge similar to this but don't have fuel to make it actually "Forge".

joshuajt (author)  Dakota Joel981 year ago

When I fire it up, I just grab a bag of charcoal from walmart, usually the barbecue stuff. Works surprisingly well. Just try to avoid the briquettes and get the lump (the stuff that just looks like chunks of wood)

Thanks!

joshuajt (author) 1 year ago
I was actually planning on taking a pic of my whole work station when I got a chance. and surprisingly, no, the nozzle didn't melt after well over an hour of working with it.
Can you take some picture of the vacuum set-up? Wouldn't the nozzle start to melt if it's too close to the heat?
blkhawk1 year ago
Have you ever thought about joining the bricks with refractory mortar and thus making a permanent forge?