Make a Small Blacksmith's Forge

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.
youbaka12 years ago
can you make a charcoal forge that uses belows instead of a hairdryer?and can you make it out of fire brick?
_soapy_ youbaka19 months ago
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 !
No - bellows are crap, you need a continuous stream of air, not a pulsed flow of air.

Double acting bellows are an improvement, - but a double acting bellows with a weighted air sack is best as far as bellows go.

Either a motor driven or hand driven fan is the go... motor is better if your working multiple pieces at the same time - if you want to heat while you forge.;

They are not crap. They work just fine. The only thing is an electric blower is easier and cheaper in many cases.
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!
What about a length of steel H-beam? Would that make a good anvil?
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.
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 :)
n0ukf jemtallon6 years ago
I went to the local railroad maintenance shop and asked about spikes in their scrap bin. They said take what I want. I got some short pices of rail (even some 1/8" to 1" slices) and a couple pieces of rail 3' long... man that's heavy to move without help. If you see numbers on the side, that's likely the weight per yard, so if you see 139 on the side, it's a 139 pound per yard rail. No telling what you might find if you ask for their junk. And there was no written permission. It's a hunk of steel, not some illegal substance.
Should all be Kg per meter by now.
thoraxe n0ukf6 years ago
Well, ask the guy from PurgatoryIronWorks on youtube. he's the one who told me.
Vendigroth (author)  thoraxe6 years ago
Maybe he meant a huge bit, rather than an offcut. 'Cos a 3-inch offcut's going to be of no use to anyone. ;]
JuCo Vendigroth2 years ago
now, this is just a guess... but it could possibly be a law that's on the books to deter people from taking lengths of rail from active lines. (for use or to sell for scrap)

this way the police just have to prove you're in possession rather than having to try to prove that you took that length of rail from that line.
I'm sure thats what it is. they don't want people taking lengths out of an active line. There's that scene in October sky where they take a section out to sell for money and the train comes along behind them. So I can see the logic there. but our country does have a large amount of not in use lines, so scrap can be found. lots of scrap yards I've visited have had sections as well
oh, absolutely... now that you reminded me of "october sky", that scene is a perfect example of an area that is littered with now-dead train lines. the mine shuts down, the line goes dead, and half the time (especially back when that movie was set) they leave the tracks.

my mom was showing me where she used to work once and right over the fence from the parking lot was about 30 yards of track and 2 train cars. just sitting there. no other track anywhere in the area. it made me wish i had the money to buy those cars. they were 2 passenger cars. i don't know too much about the different train styles, but the accents and trim suggested that they were probably built somewhere between the 60's and the 80's.
well that'd be a great place to get track from, granted I got no idea how you're going to chop off a small section. feel like it'd kill a reciprocating saw....
maybe chew on it a while? :o)
oh and i've been using it length wise, rather then vertical. its fairly flat on top, great for knifemaking
I think that the problem is that parts for the railroad are either state or government property. It's some level of illegal to take them off the track, for obvious reasons. I just wish that the scrap yard down the street would take the spikes they leave on the side of the tracks. They have to way a couple pounds apiece
I think it depends on the country, here in Mexico is illegal to have railroads tracks, without a permission. thats becouse The government own the railroad tracks, and a lot of people steals it.

It may also depend on the size of it.
make another one and reinforce it with a rebar cage. it'll reduce the interior shock stress and wont crumble as easily. this is what tim lively uses and hes had it for years now.
If you visit your local metal recyclers you can often find chunks of large steel I-Beams from road demolition and plate for scrap metal prices plus premium that makes a nice anvil surface with a little re-work.
sharlston4 years ago
could you melt sand with this?
I doubt it since sand melts at about 8000 degrees and the only thing I can think of that burns at  that temp is hydrogen.. why do you wanna make your own glass bong or something?
i would like to make a little blob of glass
First of all: Don't write in all caps, its annoying
Second of all: Sand melts at around 3000-3500 degrees fahrenhite. You could probably melt pyrex in this or you could melt sand when mixed with borax.
with the addition of soda and lime, it drops the melting temperature of the sand closer to 2k*. pyrex is the one tht melts around 3k.

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?


PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!