Introduction: Paint Can Forge

Picture of Paint Can Forge

For the longest time, I have wanted to try my hand at blacksmithing. However, if you have ever tried it before, you know that there is a decent amount of setup required before you can really make anything. I came across a video on youtube about making backyard scale propane forges and decided to take a crack at it and make my own. While there are some improvements to be made, I am still quite pleased at the results of making my first forge. Finishing the first basic design has got me really pumped to try forging something awesome.

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

Surprisingly, this project doesn't require much in terms of tools or materials. Depending on the size of the forge you are making, you will need to modify the amount of materials. You will need...

  • Plaster of Paris
  • Sand
  • Paint can (any other metal can) w/ lid
  • Water
  • Propane torch
  • Drill
  • Bolts
  • Washers
  • Nuts
  • Metal L bracket
  • Rubber gloves (highly recommended)

Step 2: Make the Mount

Picture of Make the Mount

Using the paint lid as a base, I drilled holes on the bottom of the paint can and lid to use use the lid and bracket to mount the body of the forge. At first, I drilled the holes in the back without thinking about the space required to bolt the lid-base on so the top hole in the back of the can ended up not being used. Once the bracket was loosely fitted to both the back of the can and the base, I tightened everything down nice and snug. Now the back bracket alone would not be enough to hold the weight of the completed forge so I decided to incorporate the attached handle into the support structure. Folding the handle down, to see where it would intersect, I drilled a hole in the lid close to the edge. My plan was to pin the handle between the bolt in the drilled hole and the lip on the can. It just missed but after I added a larger washer to the bolt it was locked in beautifully.

Step 3: Mix the Insulation

Picture of Mix the Insulation

Now that the outer structure of the forge is completed, its time to make the fillings. The most important part for this step is to get and even 50-50 mixture of sand and plaster of paris. The addition of sand adds heat resistance and prevents the plaster from cracking when at forging temperatures. Once you have both parts in a container, put your rubber gloves on and start mixing. You want to make sure that you don't leave any of the dry materials at the bottom or on the sides. Continue mixing until the ingredients are evenly distributed. At this point, add water, about 1-1 ad mix it in until the mixture is about the consistency of slightly runny mud. Once it is mixed, you will have between 10-25 minutes before it begins to set so you need to work somewhat quickly.

Step 4: Insulate the Walls of the Forge

Picture of Insulate the Walls of the Forge

Before the mixture sets, you need to start shoveling the material into the can. You want a minimum of 3/4 of an inch to protect the walls of the can. Build up the material and be sure to cover all sides of the can with at least this thickness. The more material you add, the better the insulation will be and your forge will retain more heat and therefore be able to reach higher temperatures. Once you have covered the interior of the can, moisten your hands and smooth down the interior.

Step 5: Drill Gas Port

Picture of Drill Gas Port

Now you can do this before you fill the can if you don't want your drills to get coated in sandy plaster. If you do drill at this time, be sure that the insulation has begun to set but hasn't hardened yet otherwise you can ruin your drill bit. Find a place near the back of the forge (about 1") and drill straight into the can. Be sure that the hole that you drilled is large enough to fit your torch head in snugly but not to tightly that it gets stuck.

Step 6: Add the Torch, Start the Burn, and Let It Cure

Picture of Add the Torch, Start the Burn, and Let It Cure

So there's a lot going on in that title but it really is quite easy. Once you get the end of the torch into the port that you just drilled (be sure that the torch didn't get clogged), you can light your first burn. This is very important but it can also be a bit dangerous so be sure to wear safety gear. As the forge heats throughout, any moisture left from the insulation is cooked out. If there are any large air bubbles however, there is a risk that the gasses trapped within them can expand and explode out of the can. The burn will take some time, and until the moisture is cooked out, your forge will not experience exceptionally high heat.

Step 7: Finished!

Picture of Finished!

You are now done with making your own backyard forge from a few materials from the hardware store! I have yet to try making anything yet as I want to see if I can make the forge a bit more efficient with a few modifications. I will keep you posted to them when they occur. Thanks for reading!

Comments

d1yguy (author)2016-09-05

what kind of sand is needed, beach sand, or sand from the store?

HunterK11 (author)2016-04-29

but isnt there more? ive watched other videos and this is the same thing. except that there is a few missing components. if you want to melt aluminum for example you would have to add a steel cup shaped object in the center and then add charcoal all around it. then you would ignite the torch and it should work

HunterK11 (author)2016-04-29

but isnt there more? ive watched other videos and this is the same thing. except that there is a few missing components. if you want to melt aluminum for example you would have to add a steel cup shaped object in the center and then add charcoal all around it. then you would ignite the torch and it should work

slippyshoe (author)2016-03-23

Thanks so much for making this instructable. I have a question for you, or the community - if I were to put a temperature sensor, where could I get one, and how to attach?

peter---peter (author)2015-10-01

I can't seem to get much heat out of it because when I try to increase the gqs the flame dies. I tried making airholes but it won't help

Boddeeen (author)peter---peter2015-10-01

I had this problem initially as well. Make sure that the holes on the regulator/ nozzle are outside of the can. If you need to retract it out from the can a bit that is alright but will allow you yo get a consistent burn. Also be sure that the propane can is upright or you may get some sputtering or flameouts. Hope this helps!

Boddeeen (author)peter---peter2015-10-01

I had this problem initially as well. Make sure that the holes on the regulator/ nozzle are outside of the can. If you need to retract it out from the can a bit that is alright but will allow you yo get a consistent burn. Also be sure that the propane can is upright or you may get some sputtering or flameouts. Hope this helps!

Boddeeen (author)peter---peter2015-10-01

I had this problem initially as well. Make sure that the holes on the regulator/ nozzle are outside of the can. If you need to retract it out from the can a bit that is alright but will allow you yo get a consistent burn. Also be sure that the propane can is upright or you may get some sputtering or flameouts. Hope this helps!

colorfulkreations (author)2015-09-03

I've been watching the same you tube video's as you! The first was a soupcan forge,I asked if he could make a larger one & lucky for me,us,he did. You have done a great job with alot less steps,I like shortcuts!!! I plan to use my for glasswork though,In that medium these are called glory holes,no remaarks please,I didn't name it. It's used to keep re-heating the glass project you have on the blowtube. I might try your's first,less steps. Thanks for making it!

DonaldS7 (author)2015-09-02

You can use chimney mortar or furnace patch. I am just curious about the temp you can get from it. I was going to make one out of a propane wand you know the ones that hook to a gas grill tank you know those ice melters. But if your idea gets you to 2500 degrees then its much more portable. Please let me know Thanks

bd5 (author)2015-09-01

Could you use pearlite instead of sand? It seems like it would help insulating better than sand.

bjoyce9 (author)2015-08-29

if you ever build another one add vermiculite into your mix in proportion with your sand. you will get better insulation and it will last longer. it's cheep and you can get it at most any gardening suply store.

xd12c (author)bjoyce92015-09-01

You can also add crushed clay kitty litter and it isn't as harmful as vermiculite.

diykiwibloke (author)2015-08-29

Hey Boddeen,

I love small kilns and furnaces. I was a potter for some 23 years and we built many kilns. One thing I'll pass on: instead of the sand/plaster mix, get yourself some 1000degC ceramic fibre blanket, about 1" thick. Wrap that around your interior, bottom and lid and fasten it to the can with thickish pieces of nichrome wire anchors. With a propane torch and a pyrometer you'll get temperatures of 1200deegC in a few seconds! No kidding. Why this works so well is that ceramic fibre has almost no thermal mass - there's nothing to get hot first, like a firebrick or grout mixture. You'll get the heat almost instantly and save a lot of gas as well. Leave a little chimney hole in the lid to create some circulation and get some tongs or heavy wire so you can lift the lid without getting your arm roasted :)

Good luck!

Yardster (author)diykiwibloke2015-09-01

We want to do something like this for making a maple sugaring evaporator. The commercial ones use a rigid insulation board for the very same reason you mention about heat adsorption of fire brick (I'm also a former potter).

diykiwibloke (author)Yardster2015-09-01

A former potter too...cool!

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