Making a Simple and Easy Charcoal/ Coal Forge

Picture of Making a Simple and Easy Charcoal/ Coal Forge
In this instructable you will learn how to make a charcoal / coal burning forge from firebrick, a few steel plumbing parts, a steel sheet, some cinder blocks and a blower

Unfortunately I ran out of money before i could finish the forge, in total it should cost around $ 50 USD depending how fancy you want it. The plans you will see are paint mock-ups from my actual design, i do not own a scanner so I had to make pictures.

This is what the finished forge should look like

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Step 1: Why a forge and getting started up

Picture of Why a forge and getting started up
When I first discovered wanting to take up blacksmithing as a hobby, I searched and searched for designs and a website to help me get started. Then i discovered AnvilFire, they have some F.A.Q.'s and a whole bunch of info on starting up. They also have a help section called "Guru's Den" you ask questions and they will answer them.

As a begainner at Blacksmithing they recommend to build a forge out of a Brake Drum I decided against it because I really didn't want to be using a rusty piece of junk to hold 3,000 degree charcoal and white hot iron.

So i asked the guru guy a lot of questions.

And I made plans on it

Basically its fire brick in a square pillar shape stacked like a brick wall

Step 2: What you need

Okay this forge will be light to medium duty work, you can make knifes in it but definitely not swords because its not long enough, daggers maybe.

_What you need_
1. Fire bricks (number varies by size of brick and size of forge)
2. A Steel plate larger then the forge
3. Plumbing parts
a. 3-1 1/2 x 4 in steel pipe nipples
b. 1 1/2 x 8 in steel pipe nipple
c. 1 1/2 in T fitting
d. 1 1/2 in elbow fitting
e. 1 1/2 in cap
f. 1 1/2 in flanger
4. Cinder blocks
5. A Blower

Fire Brick- Its very important you get fire brick, do not even look at cement or concrete bricks, they will explode when heated. Firebrick is a little more expensive then normal brick because its a specialty item.

Steel Plumbing- Today I went to home Depot and they didn't sell fire brick or the 1 1/2 in pieces, so I would go to Loews or a similar home improvement store. Also if the plumbing your looking at is shiny make sure it is not galvanized, I can not stress how important it is not to use it. GALVANIZED METAL GIVES OFF FATAL AND TOXIC FUMES WHEN HEATED. Stay away from it and use the black, the electrical conduit is fine to use, but they need to thread and cut it for you.

Steel Plates- Your best shot would be to go to a junkyard and ask, your going to want a 1.5 ft x 1.5 ft steel plate for a decent size forge. Also its good to have the plate big because then there is a less of chance knocking something down, I am a klutz. make sure the plate is steel and around a half inch thick. This way it wont melt or get too soft.

Blower- It doesn't really matter what it is, but go to a hardware store and tell them what your doing and looking for. I have a blower but I have no idea what its called, maybe its called a blower. It needs to put out a decent bit of air though.

Flange- This is what connects the pipe to the steel plate and supplies the air to the charcoal, you're going to need to make a grate of some sort to keep the coals from falling down air pipe. But it needs to be big enough to let ashes fall to the ash trap. Otherwise it will clog up grate, letting in less air then needed.

Cinder Block stand- Basically its just some upturned blocks holding up the whole thing, just be sure to put fire block or another insulator between the cinder block stand and the steel plate. Other wise the concrete blocks will explode, which is not good, because there is going to be 3,000 degree coals and fire block all over the place.

Fuel- I live in the middle of a desert so we don't have a great coal supply, mostly because it doesn't get cold enough in the winter. So I decided to use Charcoal, I was told via Anvil Fire's Guru not to use the kind they sell at supper markets, aka pressed brickettes. This is because they are full of crap you don't need and they don't burn hot enough. The Guru said to find a restaurant supply co. and order real charcoal, the kind that looks like real burnt wood. I really have no idea how much you need, but buy more then you think you will need for the first time.

Step 3: Building the Forge

Picture of Building the Forge
Forge 1.bmp
Okay now here is the easy part, not really.

Your going to have to drill a hole in the steel plate for the Flange to fit in, my advise would be to ask the person at the junk yard you got it from.

Oh i almost forgot, get the hole drilled about 4 inches from center, this way you can set the charcoal on the back wall.

See the picture for what i mean it says "steel sheet" on it(OMG THERE IS COLOR IN IT)

remember when i said you needed to fit it together like a wall well here is the thing in 3-D, also i have not made it yet so i can't tell you how to place the bricks, you may need to cut some

Be sure to keep one missing in the bottom front, this way you will have good access to the heart of the fire for easier heating.

Do not attempt to put anything over the forge when it is running, it would alter the amount of air flowing out the top and have it go out the access. The result would be 3,000 degree air shooting out towards you. BAD!!!

Step 4: Putting together the air supplie

Picture of Putting together the air supplie
Okay if u look at the picture is self explanatory. If your wondering how to attach your blower to the pipe, I would us duct tape. Also you can use as big of pipe as you want, the max being 2 inches wide.

I recommend to keep the Plumbing all attached together when not in use because its mostly flat, unlike the forge which you can just take apart when your not using it. It is also recommended to buy a pipe cleaner and run it though the whole thing after every use to get out all the ash and clingers especially if you are using coal as a fuel.

When running the blower make sure the ash trap cap has a good seal otherwise your going to be leaking air.


Step 5: Putting it all together

Picture of Putting it all together
Okay use common sense and look around, does anything not look right. If it doesn't fix it.

Its going to be heavy so i suggest putting the plate on the stand of cinder blocks before you put the fire brick forge on top. Then slip the flange in and attach the plumbing.

It should look some what like this

Step 6: Firing it up

Picture of Firing it up
Okay its finally done.

Do not rush especially now when its done.

Were going to fill it up with charcoal about half way to the top and about to 2/3's of the way like in my picture.

Now douse it in lighter fluid and let it get going once its flames have died down a bit turn on the blower and restock the fire and make sure u don't add to much charcoal at a time.

Now heat your metal and forge it

If you want help an how-to's on forging to go AnvilFire

A gas forge can be found Here

And several different types of tongs


For more projects and Ideas visit the The Forge Group

This is my first Instructable so give me feed back on its quality
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dnorm5 years ago
i guess it would be a pain to buy real coal, but how about making your own charcoal?   all you need is wood, and a type of furnace  (which is what a forge is)    tho im sure you dont want to use chemically treated lumber, anything that has been painted, stained or varnished, particle or flake board or plywood, panelling, or any type of 'fake or composite'...     but scrap pieces of plank or 2x4's?    why not?...   and it wouldnt have the 'extras' the 'consumer' charcoal does...

Dnorm. I am a farrier and my coal forge is no more. But you can find blacksmith grade coal at a farrier supply store. I am sure you have one close. just google it.


actually depending on where u live u can buy it in 50lb bags. to buying per 1/2 ton lots. yes its a pian to get going but it'ill heat really nice. used to heat the house with it during the late 70 to early 80s.
actually depending on where u live u can buy it in 50lb bags. to buying per 1/2 ton lots. yes its a pian to get going but it'ill heat really nice. used to heat the house with it during the late 70 to early 80s.
Dakota Joel9811 months ago

How would you recomend starting a Coal fire for a forge?

OK so i really like this instructable
the only problem I have is that it took my like four or five reads and examining of the diagram here to realize what was going on.

If you could please maybe label or color the fire bricks different from the cinder blocks used to support the forge that would be great.

And another quick question, without putting a top on the forge, wouldnt that mean that all the heat would just quickly escape?

yes but thats wat u want it to go up . not out the side that facing you.
shadus3 years ago
You actually CAN use galvanized steel pipe, however you need to remove the zinc coating on the pipe prior to heating it above a couple hundred degrees. There are two ways to do this,

1) you can throw it in another forge... make sure it goes well over the boiling point of zinc and make sure no one is close enough to breath the fumes or that you're outdoors and stay well clear. Takes about 1000 degrees to do this. Give it a while at that temp. Keep in mind overall, unless you have lung problems, even if you do breath it... you're likely not going to die, but you will wish you were dead. Zinc vapor is rough and it'll lay you low for a day or more.

2) alternately, you can submerse it in vinegar for a couple days (or boiling vinegar for say a day) until the zinc is completely removed, a faster process is giving it a muriatic acid bath until it quits fizzing, but then you have to neutralize it in a soda bath or similar. In either case you need to give it a coat in something to prevent rapid rusting.

The better option of course is using "black" plumbing which doesn't have a galvanized zinc coating... but 2" "black" plumbing is getting increasingly hard to find... and 2" galvanized is still very common. YMMV.
or u can use common electic conduit an spray it using high engine temp paint let it cure complitely b4 u fire it then after the 2nd firing spray it agin.
whitlox2 years ago
You should look at the design at WhitloxHomestead.com.
Mitten8 years ago
i just use a coffee can with holes poked in the bottom and a hairdryer ...
acer73 (author)  Mitten8 years ago
the coffee can would melt after a bit
Mitten acer738 years ago
coffee cans are made from steel, and it gets hot enough to melt aluminum in a steel canned veggie can in the middle of the coals without melting.
yeh, but you're subjecting the can to intense heat for a long time, the steel turns so crusty and anaemic that you can literally poke a finger through it.
but if you poke your finger thru,u can say this: "What's in the box?Pain."
lucien237 Derin2 years ago
Dune ftw.
LOL aneamic steel, the irony.
Ha ha ha! I get it. "Iron"-y.
Derin chuckr446 years ago
hard2bme3 years ago

Hi ! I'm just getting starting on Instructable and I didn't watch this one entirely.

but, I have build 2 usable blacksmith foundry.

my advices are :

don't insuflate too much air (little embers should not jump out)
put enought charcoal to keep the heat and have a hotbed big enough,
if the hotbed is directly in contact with foundry metal, it will dissipated your heat. Ensure you have ceramic or insulating layer around charcoal firebed.

If your want to melt metal, use another technique. make a foundry like that : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEWIuyeNp2k

and yes, don't use capslock please.
First off do not use caps lock like a troll, Then i would be glad to answer your question.
bombmaker25 years ago
You may want to check out the links you provided in Step 1. I cannot connect to them for some reason.
pj63 bombmaker23 years ago
i had the same problem.... However if you Google 'Anvilfire' it shows you the web site.... pj63
Hey I would just like to point out that this is a forge and not a crucible. to all of those looking to melt various components, you need to look else where for a crucible. This forge is for forging red hot iron and steel. I'm reiterating to save you time, frustration, and false expectancy. This forge is not meant to melt objects.
hard2bme3 years ago
i just cant get it right im using a hair dryer right now but i just cant get my charcoal hot enough it takes like 20 min to melt like a pound and a half of alum how can i make it hotter
j9027715 years ago
3 or 4 sheets of old dry news paper crumpled in to a loose ball laid in a triangle on top of the forge floor, then if you have any pine cones put a pine cone on top of the paper balls, then put your charcoal chunks or coal up the sides and all over the paper and pine cones,  just cover the whole thing up. then light the paper with a match.  slowly give this some air with your blower,  then a little more air after about 30 seconds,  then a little more,  and so on for about 1 and 1/2 minutes then pore on the air.  fire should be nice and hot.  Have been doing this for about 30 years.  works great.
spylock5 years ago
You can make one fairly easy out of a wheelbarrow,a couple fire bricks,clay,a squirrel cage fan,and a few plumbing parts,Id say 100.00 cost max,cheaper with and old wheelbarrow that you dont use anymore.I saw it made on a show called Forge And Anvil,I think,but Im sure you can find the disigns on the internet.
dciocoiu6 years ago
Not bad for a beginner black smith , but i would strongly advice to use fire place ciment that witstends very hot temperatures and you should paint the inside of the forge as well as the outside with the cement.
LIGHTER FLUID to start the forge?? BAD idea, as putting ANY kind of combustible fluid in to your forge is askin for trouble. Fast, awright...but dangerous?? SURE IS. Better (& more fulfillin, for what that's worth) to start your fire with wood shavins, kindling, then the charcoal/coal , add an air flow & there y'are
acer73 (author) 8 years ago
Well this way takes longer but looks nicer and would last longer. Eventually the can would melt
folks i use a castiron cooking pot to melt stuff down. the wife may not like it but oh well.
Vendigroth8 years ago
hey, acer73, great instructable and thanks for jioning the Forge. I'm looking forward to seeing some good stuff from you in the future, hopefully made with this forge. M'self, i'm planning to do an instructable on a forge, different to this but roughly the same size When i make it, i'll have to make stuff with it....
now here I've been wondering where that pic is from for months and now I realize its the "G-man" from Half-life 2
Best. Character. EVAR.
personally I hated him for what he was doing, but I LOVED how he talked, it was awesomely creepy.
it takes a little thought to realise that Gman's on Gordon's side.
o.O how so?
heres one of my reasons, which I believe is proof. the Vortagons cannot be evil, it is grafted into their nature to be on the good side. If they fought to stop the G-man, then he must be evil.
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