Instructables
A small forge for Blacksmiths, not a forge for small blacksmiths.
A long-term goal of mine's been to have a forge small enough and well-mannered to keep in my suburban garden, so that means no bituminous coal. I considered a Gas forge but when that turned out to be impractical for the scale of work i want to do, i looked elsewhere. Plus, with a gas forge i'd probably have ended up blowing my legs off.
So, suburban (so no smoke) and i can't use gas.... the only alternative i could see was charcoal. Finding a lost middle-american civilisation in among my socks would be considerably easier than finding the kiind of charcoal i need in the amounts i need. -everyone wanted to sell me a few tons at least-
Eventually, i found something called "smokeless fuel" seemed to be pure carbon or something, so because it was only £1.75 for 10 kilos i decided to give it a try...
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Find something to make the forge in

I WANTED to use a wheel from a car to do this but i couldn't be bothered going all the way to a place to get it only to carry it home and eventually set it on fire, so i looked closer to home. I ended up using a 12 inch stainless steel cake tin. I never once thought i'd be making a forge in something that vould have been used to hold cakes but it worked really well.
The first thing we need to consider when building a forge is the ariflow. Too much and it gets far too hot. Not enough and it doesn't burn at all. To get the air into the forge, we need a hole through which we can out a pipe. Wheels come with ready-made holes. Cake tins do not. Ergo, i had to make one. "It's only thin steel, what can possibly go wrong?"
I spent something like 40 minutes getting a hole big enough to put the pipe through. SO: this step's instructions: Through Fair means or Foul, Make a hole big enough to fit the pipe through. Make sure the pipe doesn't go too far in or not far enough in. about 1.5 inches was right for me.
1-40 of 183Next »
JohnMichael5 years ago
If you can find someone who works on the railroads, a short section of rail makes a good anvil.

the local railroad repair station is often wonderfully thrilled to have someone come and remove ties. Just rent a cutting torch and plan to spend the day there. Those 10 foot sections don't load themselves on your truck!

I have a six inch section that I work my rough forging work with jewelry on. I got it from my father in law who used it as an anvil hard duty for fifty years. I frankly can't see the wear but my wife grew up seeing him whack away on it with his 8 lb sledge as long as she can remember! For fine smooth work, go find 1" steel plate and have them cut you about 6-8" square. If you know someone with a plasma cutter (regular torch will warp your plate) have them blow a hole through it that you can the file to the size you need to insert tools.

legamin legamin2 months ago

sorry, I said ties, I meant rails! Ties are in too high demand..

juts saw off a little piece of railroad at night : )
legamin2 months ago

that's a terrific instructibles on the small scale forge..

And gee! I was right with you until the "don't be drunk or distracted" part...to which I think it's fair to say that being drunk is a nice distraction...(kidding!).

This is a cheap way for budding jewelers who want to cast, but don't have $2500 for a uber kiln or crucible, to get started..thanks for sharing.

technocrat3 months ago

It's a simple enough design but the stainless steel pot won't last long. Most coffee can forges have much thicker core material made from a mix of paster of paris and silica sand. Also pot like forges like this one are normally made form drum brake rotors which are much thicker tempered carbon steel. I made a couple like this one but with bottoms of small cold water tanks. They work but a thicker metal and more insulation is a priority.

What could be used is a lining of Kaowool, and cover that with the fire cement. Then the stainless steel can will be fine. Looks like BBQ bricks in the forge, but charcoal would be okay.

If you put coal in the "modified" design it would still be okay.

This will last as long, or even longer than a brake drum or water tank forge. This style of design does not depend upon the metal pot withstanding the heat, as in a brake drum forge. In a design such as this, the refractory material is taking the heat, not the metal. The cake tin he is using should not get over a couple of hundred degrees as long as the refractory material was applied properly. Most gas forges work the same way, using a thin steel box and either firebrick or Kaowool for the refractory, yet easily reaching welding temps inside the chamber. This unit, if the refractory is applied properly, should handle the heat from coal with no problem.

JakeThief2 years ago
If your cement is on top of your airflow pipe, then how will the pipe even do its job? Someone please respond.

The cement has to be on top of the airflow pipe, otherwise the intense heat will melt the pipe. However, the front of the pipe should be open to allow airflow into the pot. Basically, you cover the outside of the pipe, but with care not to block the opening.

If you look closely at the pictures, there is a hole in the refractory cement where the airflow pipe opens into the forge.
xarlock6673 months ago

Well, I have to say, I have built one along the same lines. I had nearly zero budget, and it was uglier by far than yours, BUT I could melt 2160 aluminum in it, and nearly steel, and the side was barely hot enough to burn my hand thanks to my super-refractory. That is definitely a "Dont try this at home" maneuver. I nearly fell into it thanks to a piece of rebar on the drive way! Try mixing hardwood ash, plaster of paris, and sand. The ratio was 2/5 ash, 1/5 plaster, 2/5 sand. The refractory is prone to breaking, so dont expect it to be bullet proof, BUT it repairs easy as pie. Just get the "crumbs" get them muddy wet, squeeze out the excess water, and slap on the mud pie as a patch. It can (and should) be fired immediately.

Remember folks, hot metal and water DO NOT mix. EVER. If you have a setup like this and the fire gets away from you DUMP SAND OR DIRT ON IT. Explosions and flying metal are for wars, not hobbies. Be safe.

CORRECTION I said sand, I meant Bentonite Clay (Kitty litter). Sorry for the error.

dropkick3 months ago

I've used a small unaltered barbeque grill and a coffee can with both the top and bottom cut off and a few holes punched in it as a forge. I use a small clip on house fan in place of a bellows.

I start by filling the coffee can with charcoal in the grill (I either use purchased briquets or left over charred wood from past BBQs) spray on lighter fluid and get it burning. Once it's going good I insert the iron into the coals (still in the can) and start the fan. I arrange the fan so it's blowing where ever I believe is working best, either blowing through the holes or more often downward into the can. (I usually have the fan clipped to an old folding chair I set up beside the grill).

When I see the metal is hot enough (by the color) I pull it out and start pounding on it (I'm lucky enough to have an anvil that was passed down through my family.)

STEELBREEZE3 months ago

I recently made a nice forge from a cast brake drum. It's an age old technique and works excellent. I used a rather large brake drum for a bi dually. very deep ans VERY thick cast steel. I have reached welding temperatures with no problem. If I knew how, I would make an istructible since I did take some pix during building it. But there are many tutorials online for this. It is strong enough to use coal or charcoal.

Wooginator4 years ago
 I was wondering if you knew about how hot this actually gets, and also what metal you worked with it?  I assume iron or steel?
i was wondering that too. it seems very ineffeicent because there isnt much as far as in sulation. insulation would also save your hands from the scorching heat, i have seen forges made from propane tanks those have lids.

The "insulation" is the coal. You build a little beehive out of the crushed coals as they burn and then heat the metal inside. One gallon of anthracite runs about an hour.

I THINK IRON WILL BE TOO HARD, STEEL ESPECIALLY.
TRY SODA CANS, ONE MELTS IN ABOUT 5 SECS, AND ITS CHEAP, I MADE KNUCKLE DUSTERS WIT EM
This is a forge, meant for FORGING metal, not casting. You probably couldn't CAST iron or steel with this, but you could get it up to FORGING temperatures for steel.
What about a length of steel H-beam? Would that make a good anvil?

No on the "H" beam.

Here is why:

The "I" or "H" shape has edges that are a long way from the center web. When you start wacking the top of the anvil, the edges of the anvil will deform downward. It is surprising how easily the metal will bend.

You could reinforce the "I" (or H) shape and fillet in the web. Think of an upside-down ziggurat.

Or you can cut the overhangs off of the top and make them only an inch wider than the web.

But you can also just get some steel plates and weld an anvil from scratch and get better results. The steel doesn't have to be all that hard. just think "inverted ziggurat" and you can't go wrong.

A good anvil shape is a square top and with mildly inward tapering vertical sides. A square hole in the top for a hardy hole allows various tools to be inserted.

Another very useful anvil shape is a flat surface with a "step down" to another flat surface. That way you can drive sharp angle bends without cracking the metal.

What if you can't find H-beam? Would an I-beam work?
Yes. They're the same thing. Just turn the H on its side.
Oh, I know! I'm just teasing a little! Just bein' silly. A small section of railroad track "rail" is supposed to be a swell anvil, I've heard.
If you aren't in a position to get a real one then yes, they're an unexpectedly nice alternative as long as you strap it down tight.
Better than nothing but you really need to get some surface made from high carbon or harden steel like RR rail for repetitive or long term use.
rimar20003 months ago

Good work!

youbaka13 years ago
can you make a charcoal forge that uses belows instead of a hairdryer?and can you make it out of fire brick?
Yes, but there's no reason to, unless you like having a hard life, or need desperately to stay "off grid". In fact, even then, since bellows require two people for prolonged use, you are still better off with what I'm about to suggest.

Buy an airbed pump. 12V, 240V, or even battery powered by 4 D cells. Mate it to the steel tube by getting some PVC pipe and heating it to form a nice soft tube that you can then allow to harden, leaving you with a friction fit connector for the standard sized airbed pump.

Now you have a small but powerful pump, and if you want, you can take all 3 with you on adventures.

If using the battery one for a long time, you might want to wire it up to a proper high capacity LiPo pack, to save money and give far better lifetime.

You'll want to wire up a foot switch too - it saves loads of battery power but also it saves your fuel!
Yes and yes. Bellows were the normal blower for thousands of years and still work fine .They can be simply built from wood ,leather and some thin metal sheet ,but as has been mentioned else where ,a blacksmiths hand crank blower is better .The problem I saw with that advice is that if you knew where to get (or had) a blacksmiths hand crank blower you would be unlikely to be asking how to build a forge ! A thing I had been considering was taking a scrap turbocharger from a wrecked car and adapting that to a hand crank.....a idea for you ? Makes you independent of power supply.

Fire bricks ,I had built a firebrick forge like a brick built BBQ ,just using the fire bricks at the business end .Just remember to build your tuyere/air pipe into the structure as is a sod to put in after !
Another option is a bathroom exhaust fan, You can usually pick one up for $20-$30.
Nice effort! The blacksmith's guild I work with doesn't use bituminous coal (which is far better than anthracite) instead we use 'coke'. It is the coal with all of the impurities and gases burned out of it, and it is less smoky than any backyard charcoal grill!

I love the simplicity of your design.

Hammer hard!
jemtallon7 years ago
My grandpa used to make anvils from old railroad rails. I'm not sure how/where he got the rails cut down to size but I have one of his old anvils still and it works fine. If you can find a way to buy some old track off of someone and get it cut, it might be a cheap anvil for you too. The thing I like about it is that it's light enough to be portable but it's still pretty heavy duty. If you'd like a picture, let me know.
Vendigroth (author)  jemtallon7 years ago
sure, send it actually, i've been planning to get a bit of track, but it's tricky to find it and get it wthout the hazard of being hit by a train, so now, i'm going to weld some small steel stakes onto a sledgehammer head and try that.
I've seen lot of people use a foot long piece of hard steel sticking up a few inches out of a five gallon bucket with concrete poured around it. You could do the same thing with the sledge hammer head. Just leave a few inches sticking above the concrete.
Vendigroth (author)  kcfreeloader6 years ago
Yeah, i made one like that, it's set into a gallon of concrete. Thing is, the concrete's starting to crumble now, so ima need something more permanent.
I heard u can get arrested if u get caught with railroad track without written permission from the station or company.
Possibly. RR Rail is illegal to sell or transfer without legal permission from the rail road. Laws have been passed to protect RR property from theft. Sometimes you can find a steel recycling yard that gets it legally thought from the RR or contractors and therefore can sell it to you legally. You don't need written documentation to posses it if that is what your saying. However, if you have a gross amount of it than you may want to make sure you have sufficient documentation to answer any questions if you are asked or accused.
That may be - I'm not sure. I got mine from my grandpa who supposedly bought it from the railroad many years ago (I think in the 60s). I imagine a quick call to them would solve the issue if you're interested in making one. You'd want to contact them anyway if you wanted to buy one :)
1-40 of 183Next »