Introduction: How to Make a Forge

Picture of How to Make a Forge

not to forge a sword with, it's for small metalworking and aluminum melting.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

for this you will need;

brake drum
metal pipe 1 1/2 or 2 in
bathroom ventilation fan or other small fan (a hairdryer will work)
scrap metal
two 6 in by 5 in metal plate (1/8 in thick)
3 in by 3 in metal plate (1/8 in thick)
angle iron


plasma torch
air compressor
arc welder

Step 2: Cut

Picture of Cut

cut two pieces of pipe, one about 7 in, the other around 18 in

cut a hole slightly smaller than the pipe in the small plate and in one large plate.

cut a hole slightly smaller than the pipe in the short pipe 2 1/2 in down

cut the angle iron into 3 pieces about 33 in long

cut the end of the long pipe at a 25 degree angle

Step 3: Weld

Picture of Weld

weld the top of the short pipe to the small plate

weld the small plate to the brake drum

weld the long pipe (angled side)to the short pipe

weld the angle iron on to the short pipe like a tripod

weld the large plate on to the long pipe

weld the other large plate onto the long plate at a right angle so it can hold the fan to the pipe opening

weld scrap metal (small rods) onto the brake drum to make a grate

Step 4: Finish It

Picture of Finish It

put the fan on the big plate


Howder1951 (author)2013-07-26

Nice 'ible, this design looks similar to a rivet forge they used to use in steel work. It had a small fire pit and a hand operated blower to stoke the fire. Also it had a sheet metal cone over top to reduce windage and keep the sparks contained.
A local blacksmith was demonstrating making hooks and small objects at the local folk fest . It looks like the basis of a low priced hobby for anyone so inclined or curious enough to want to learn smithing. Hammer on!

thebeef2 (author)2010-07-12

How hot can this forge get?

nick11179 (author)2010-07-06

Guys if your worried about "blacksmith quality Charcoal" make your own! Your on the path of the smith, so why not take it all the way by doing something just slightly different that will benefit your entire process. I make my own charcoal, after having tried the store bought brickettes which didnt work so well, found that a superior and higher quality product can be produced at home. Type in charcoal making in the search bar either retort or reduction work fine.

2 stroke (author)2010-07-04

thanks i will make if my parent will let me i need to make a anvil too

m5industriesinc (author)2010-03-13

You can use BBQ coals with lighter fluid to start it out ,but if you make your own in a fire pit and then transfer the coals over into the brake drum it works better.

x z i t (author)2010-03-08


Blackavar (author)2006-07-25

That's a pretty basic forge, and burning coal is likely to cause many issues for readers in cities. If you're seriously looking at building a forge, you should look at Ron Reil's work in revolutionizing propane burner design, and the updates by Rex Price, as well as the rest of the technical improvements in small forges, such as the use of Kaowool and ITC-100 as refractory material. It's not necessary to work metal in such a primitive manner anymore, and it ends up a lot less expensive, as well as much easier, to run a modern propane forge than a coal one.
Particularly regarding that "to forge a sword with" comment at the top, I'd suggest a thorough reading of <a href="">this page</a>. (let's see if Instructables allows links in comments)

spylock (author)Blackavar2010-01-06

I built my forge from an old wheelbarrel,some clay,firebrick,a few pipe fittings and a squirrel cage type fan,works pretty well and I had most everything I needed laying around,I got the Idea watching a show called forge and anvil,at least I think it was.Burning regular coal can be o.k. for those first starting out as long as they got a good supply of air stoking it,so they can get a feel for it,but youre right if youre to do anything serious you need blacksmiths coal,which can be found or gotton through a welding supply,and if they dont have it they will point you in the right direction.I myself have only been at it for about a year,and consider myself a novice,but one things for sure,its adictive and will make a better person out of those who give it a try,I think youll agree.

Vendigroth (author)Blackavar2007-02-17

precisely what i was going to post. Furthermore, you don't need to worry about the smoke that coal forges give off

Blackavar (author)Blackavar2006-07-25

Apparently, Instructables eats links. The URL is .

M4industries (author)2009-10-25

First sentence grammar mistake

Not to forge a sword with,

Error: Dont end a sentence or clause with a preposition

Fix: Not suitable to forge a sword, but...

bounty1012 (author)M4industries2009-10-28


M4industries (author)bounty10122009-10-28

Grammar mistakes are everywhere. Newspaper, TV, ads, signs, news articles. Everywhere

Just check out the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves to find a few great examples.

Kids at Play

This could be a warning, or an insult to the kids where slow is the adjective, not the command.

octo137 (author)2009-10-20

anything i can use as an anvil for hammering and can i use a regular hammer used for nails. and can aluminum foil be melted? i am new to forging so...

trotchell (author)2007-12-11

I am wondering if any one who has forged a sword/knife etc. has had problems with sulfur from the coal causing havoc with the steel? Or if you use a charcoal forge do you have issues with too much carbon and therefore brittleness?

dragon10106 (author)trotchell2008-03-18

I haven't actually forged a knife or anything like that, but I'm just starting to blacksmith, and I was wondering if you're using just ordinary coal that you might find in a grill. Because I read in a book that normal coal would do that, and you should get something called "blacksmith coal", it'll solve your problem

octo137 (author)dragon101062009-10-20

 yeah, i am new to forging to. if you find out can you tell me?

n0ukf (author)dragon101062008-07-15

Don't even try to use briquettes, if you want to use charcoal, use lump charcoal, made by burning wood, not by compressing charcoal dust (sawdust) with glue, clay and whatever else they put in the briquettes. You can even dig the old coals out of a campfire or fireplace. If you're getting yellow (or whatever) smoke, you haven't cooked the sulfur and other impurities out enough to turn the coal into coke (where your real heating is being done). As you heap more coal (or charcoal) on top of the fire, you get more smoke as it cooks down to coke, but you put your steel down in the middle of the coke, so those cooking off impurities aren't a problem for the steel, as they're outside the coke "fire" burning off in the outer flames.

epiphany_123 (author)trotchell2008-08-03

You need to use a thing called "Pea Coal". Pea is the size of the coal. its the type you would use to heat your house.

z-man6233 (author)epiphany_1232008-12-09

actually you are probably using store bought charcoal which has impurities like sulfur. what you have to do is make your own by blackening hardwood in a slow burning fire

Esmagamus (author)trotchell2008-06-15

So that's why I broke my axe!

manicmonday (author)2009-10-12

Once it's built, you will need coal, right? Can you tell me where to get that coal?

notjustone (author)2009-01-03

alot of people have problems when using coal forges more due to the coal they use than the design of the forge.(any forge that will hold coal and blow sufficient air into the bottom of the fire will make heat) if your using mined coal you want bitunimous coal not anthricite. anthricite coal is the kind that is used to heat houses pea coal which is commonly used in small coal stoves is an example of this and is not acceptable,it will not coke up and will not produce enough heat. bitunimous is softer coal which cokes up producing lighter chunks of coke which you drag into the fire and forge with. bitunimous is often refered to as stoker coal such as was used in old coal boilers and trains. your work size will be limited by the size of the firepot with a brake drum being about the smallest firepot due to the depth of the coal more than the diameter. however most beginner blacksmith projects can be produced in them from s hooks to fireplace tools (remember it doesnt do you much good to heat 2 foot of a bar if your hand hamering cause you cannot forge that legnth of bar before it cools) i would recomend using a small steel table with a trapezoidal shaped firepot made from 5 pieces of plate steel \___/ with some holes drilled in the bottom plate. and a lip around the top of the table to keep all your coal from being knocked off onto the ground. its also convient to be able to set tools down as well as have an area of fresh coal piled beside the forepot which you can use to drag up to the fire and allow to coke. as for air forget the hairdryers shopvacs and whatnot a small squirrel cage fan scavanged off of almost anything works best. i find coal to be alot less expensive than propane if you can live with the mess and safely ventilate the fumes. i have a homemade coal forge for outdoor demonstatations as well as forge at a few meusums with big historically correct brick or even wooden (yep you heard right wooden)coal forge.with handcrank blowers or bellows. i personally enjoy working with coal. i think every blacksmith should use coal at some point. however if your working as a buisness propane is the way to go! for more information i recomend looking up your local abana (artist blacksmith association of north america) chapter going to a meeting watching and trying hands on. john brunelle forgemaster new york state designer blacksmiths

szechuan53 (author)2008-06-14

great, but where did you find the argon? i can only find ampoules filled with it and things like that.

Derin (author)szechuan532008-12-25

it is used for MIG and TIG welding,so check welding shops.

Derin (author)2008-12-25

I love how you used a brake drum as the heat source.I like your instructable very much.

MarineChris (author)2007-04-08

Hi.i am new.i have no idea on making swords or forging but i want to learn a lot.can anyone help me please?

n0ukf (author)MarineChris2008-07-15

A very good place to find blacksmith information is the Anvilfire website.

brainspater (author)2007-12-27

Dude I have a use for that and its just for the job. Sweet.....

shortbus (author)2007-12-22

This would have been better had there been more about how to use it. Is there another intructable with the "how to make something" with this forge?

ijerry (author)2007-09-06

I built a forge once using an old metal school desk with a barbeque plate dropped in. The air was supplied by an old upright vacuum cleaner (with the bag removed) on blow via a water pipe with a tap to control the air flow - worked a treat and using coke managed to achieve welding temperature on mild steel. It was good for small items like fire pokers and toasting forks and decorative plant hangers :-)

lennyb (author)2006-07-26

i once made a forge using a steel 5 gallon can that hydraulic oil came in with a brake drum from a 70 chevy pickup pressed into the top. the air was provided by an old furnace blower. and for a grate a sheet of steel in the drum with hole punctured in it . clean out was easy and only needed occasionally. unfortunatly steel 5 gallon cans are hard to find now as they have mostly been replaced with plastic. it worked really well but rusted out after a few years. and i did get many complaints about sooty smoke from coal/coke so i used charcoal most of the time

lennyb (author)lennyb2006-07-26

btw nice instructable. please tell me your going to show the swordmaking next lol i used to do some myself and never get tired of watching it

AlexTheGreat (author)lennyb2006-07-26

could you do an instructable on forging swords? i've never done it before, although i do know some people who have.

lennyb (author)AlexTheGreat2006-07-27

i will see about it. i only did one sword in a forge though. the rest were all stock removal . i know stock removal makes for inferior swords but they were realy only done for decoration. of the six or so i made only two were really good(for use) and they were made from a car sprng and a slice of armour from a dump truck.

Scurl! (author)lennyb2006-07-27

i'm going to ask my blacksmith friend if i can do an instructable of him making one, he's good and does it alot. plus i need him to make me some engagement rings anyways...

Vendigroth (author)Scurl!2007-02-19

I'm looking to make a charcoal forge, so i'll post an instructable of that and the stuff I make in it

i would start with basic tools such as tongs and such first, and it depends on what type of sword, 99% of people i know who have no idea what their doing are looking to make a katana, and besides alot of experience you also need a specially shaped anvil to do it properly, and they are not cheap.

ironsmiter (author)2007-02-14

This forge will SUCK for working on swords. It's WAY too small, needs design improvements, and is too small. For working on Knives, Spoons, Jewelry, Horseshoes, or anything else of that smallish nature, this'll be GReAT with only minor modifications, as posted below. It'll even work ok as a aluminium melting "furnace" using heavy tin cans, or capped pipe(one end only, silly) Just plop your Charcoal in, get a good steady fire going, plop your work in there, and watch it glow! Remember to use the speed control on your blower, or you'll burn up the "Crucible" right along with your coals. For evenly heating blades, make your own version of a heat gun air spreader, and put it in the forges air hole. Pile the coals nice and high, and enjoy your elongated hotspot. this will require more fire maitenence, and probably burnout within a few hours but YMMVG. If you've gone to the trouble of making a nice, perment versin of this, take some heavy angle iron, weld triangles on the end, and then grind off the center bend till the gap looks about right to you. You can set this right over the air inlet, on the forge, and it should work just dandy.

AlexTheGreat (author)ironsmiter2007-02-15

Yeah, that's what i used it for, I made some amall metal things in it and melted aluminum. I tried to forge a small blade in it, but that didn't work out too well.

speeddemon (author)2007-01-05

This looks great! though I have a couple of questions about it -- where is the ash grate and why don't you cover those bolt holes up? also, another way to do this if you don't have access to a welder is to bolt a 2" flange onto the bottom of the drum and then use nipples and a T-joint to make the rest of it. another good idea is to take a piece of sheet steel, cut it to size to fit it the bottom of the drum, and drill holes in the center to make a grate(this will need to be replaced from time to time

ironsmiter (author)speeddemon2007-02-14

If you read his/her instructable on making forging tongs, you'll find that this forge didn't work too well for him/her.
and your first sentence pretty well sums up 75% of the problem.
Adding an ashgate is a fairly simple matter of drilling a hole through one of the legs. Add a length of pipe, with an appropriatly spaced hole to match our first, with a flat plate on one end, and a weight at the other. now, just loosely bolt the gate in place. It should block the hole just fine, too keep the air blast from blowing out the bottom.

To really Ghetto Rig this job, I'd start with your flange idea.
Ignore the bit about welding legs. Instead, get some more of that bedframe V channel, split the end with a hacksaw, fold them over, and drill a hole through the new flat. Now bol tthat through three of the origional bolt holes. you could use bolts and washers to cover the two remaining holes, though they're probably small enough to not let charcole fall through.

As to your plate-grate idea, The forging heat will be going UP. Betwen your bolted flange, and the drum itself, it should be able to handle most of the heat that will seep down into the forge. remember, there's tons of cold(ok, room temp) air, blowing up through that pipe, to help cool the metal. Add a small grate, above your flange, if your charcole pieces are close to, or smaller than the inlet hole.(1 inch hole, with 2 inch charcole = 0 worries).

Keep a metal bucket under your ash trap, as some of the ash will be still-glowing coals.

Lord Sword Crusader (author)2006-12-10

i have made a swordand have always wanted to have a forge to do it with

Scurl! (author)2006-07-25

i've seen similar to this, but using an axle with a rim welded to the bottom as the base instead of the tripod. it's a good idea, but i really have to agree with blackavar, we have progressed in the art of forge making. plus propane is a much better/cheaper/healtier fuel.

AlexTheGreat (author)Scurl!2006-07-26

hey, even i agree with him. I'm thinking about making a propane forge since I don't have any coal or charcoal.

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