Introduction: Basic Brake Drum Forge for Under $40

Just a basic run through on a tried and true standard.  The small scale hobbyist smith coal forge, with upgrades soon to come.  I spent many happy hours in my youth turning out dozens of leaf blade throwers hammered out of hydraulic lifters with a forge just like this and a scrap of I beam as an anvil.  I eventually expanded my horizons and started making more useful tools and articles in steel, began experimenting with forge welding and then broke my hand.  Six weeks later, with a no longer wounded paw and an average teenager's attention span, I wandered on to other hobbies and interests.  Now, many years later I find an urge to beat things with a hammer again, and wanted to make sure that I did it properly.  

***** EDIT ***** Please use safe methods when using galvanized piping around heat sources.  At high temperatures, the zinc oxide plating can vaporize and cause metal poisoning.  If you must use galvanized, the coating can be removed by soaking in a mild acid such as vinegar for several days and then mechanically stripping the outer layer. 

Step 1:

I wanted to make another start, but did not have the money to invest in anything large scale.  This basic forge was built for under $40 with only two stops for materials and a build time of approx 10 minutes. 

Materials needed...

1.  Brake Drum (size as you feel appropriate) from local wrecking yard or neighbors unattended vehicle
2.  Floor flange (size to fit brake drum)
3.  T Connection (size to fit floor flange)
4.  Nipples (both close, and long)
5.  Nuts and Bolts (sized to fit flange)
6.  Shower Drain Strainer

I picked up the brake drum at my local wrecking yard.  $10 for self service and there was no shortage of loose ones scattered about for the choosing.  I probably spent more time eyeballing potential new projects than I did choosing a body for my forge.  I then stopped by my favorite Home Depot for the rest of the supplies.  I picked up a 1" floor flange for the underside of my forge with a standard shower drain for the inside grate.  Went with a matching 1"close nipple, 1" Tee and another 6" nipple for my air supply.  Snagged some #10 nuts and bolts for the connections and headed for the house.

Step 2:

I'm not terribly concerned about looks on this guy, so I skipped all of the normal prep work I would do on metal work.  Just didn't feel the need to address the rust or cobwebs on this.  First thing was to place the shower strainer on the inside of the brake drum with the floor flange matching up on the outside of the brake drum.  Part of my reason for choosing the 1" fittings was due to the convenient way that the pre drilled holes matched up on the flange and the shower strainer.  Make the connections with the #10 fasteners and tighten them up so that the brake drum is sandwiched between the flange and the strainer.  I went all the way up to a 2" floor flange trying to match the predrilled holes in the drum, but no love was found.  I am leaving the empty holes alone for now, I'm not worried about burning anything underneath, and they may be useful as extra airflow.  Now moving on to my tuyere for airflow.

Step 3:

Now that the main body is built, it's time to move on to the air supply and ash dump.  Use the close nipple and the tee to attach to the bottom of the forge.  I ran the 6" nipple out the side of the tee for the future blower connection, and left the bottom open to let the finer ash and dust sift down under the forge.  Not ready yet to create a permanent work area for this, so it's time to look around for something I can set this on with some clearance underneath.  Since I made a trip to a not so local farrier supply before Christmas (for my traditional gift of coal for some friends) I've been sitting on almost 50 pounds of anthracite that I finally get to do something useful with.

Step 4:

I used my charcoal grill as a temporary base until I decide exactly what my work layout needs to be.  I will most likely go with a reinforced cinder block stand for a while.  I ran a stub of old garden hose and used the blow gun on my compressor to provide air for a test run.  I will definitely need to get my air supply up and running soon.  I forgot how hard it is to start hard coal without any coke.  I definitely remember how important it is to always save some back when the forge goes cold.  Took forever and three weeks (plus a little charcoal as a cheater) to get this guy started, but at least now I have some coke for an easier start next time around.  Now I just need  to pick up another section of railroad track, unless I finally hit paydirt on one of the trips I have to make with my wife to all of those antique stores and find that elusive high quality anvil for almost nothing.  After that I plan on pulling a 12 volt squirrel cage fan from another car at the salvage yard and wiring in a rheostat for speed control as my blower.  Then on to the important work, building some good tools.  The only decent looking wolf jaws I've been able to find cost more than my forge.  My final thoughts on this are that it will be a decent setup for some initial, basic work.  I know that I will not be able to resist tweaking this thing before to long, and I will be sure to add or update if I come up with anything wonderful.

This is the first 'ible I have ever published so thank you for reading.

Happy reading.
Happy building.
Happy making.