Paint Can Forge




Introduction: Paint Can Forge

A forge is something i've wanted for a while but never really had a good reason to buy.  Plus i didn't want to deal with coal.

I have seen the coffee can forges but wasn't overly impressed by the ones I saw online as they used some weird overly complicated DIY burner.  Some didn't have a back on them to pass long pieces through which i thought was cool but the doors they built seemed clumsy.  

I chose to use a Paint can but I used the bottom of the can as the front.  I then created a plug for the back and attached it to what once was the lid.  This lid can be removed to allow pass through.  
I used a propane torch I already had on hand for some old plumbing jobs i did around the house.  

I purchased the following items on line for $37 including shipping
     Satanite Refractory Cement
     1" Thick Insulwool, The smallest amount i could get was 2 sq' but I only needed 1 sq'

Empty Paint can from Home Depot for ~$5.00

I had on hand
     a few metal bits from some old hanging file folders
     A propane torch

Edit:  I recently made a portable rocket stove for camping with the remaining insulwool but no Satanite as i thought it would break up and i didn't want the extra weight.  The outside of that rocket stove gets WAY hotter than this forge so the Satanite is far more important than I thought it was.

Step 1: Feet

Using a pair of pliers i bent the metal pieces from an old hanging file folder into some feet.
I drilled holes and screwed it to the Paint can.

Step 2: Insulate, Mouth & Door

I can't seem to find a picture of the insulation before I applied the first layer of Satanite Refractory Cement.
Basically I cut one piece that would fit tightly into the can all the way around.  I then cut another smaller piece and pushed that up against the top to help insulate better.
So, the top has 2 layers of insulWool and the bottom has 1 layer.You can just make out the insulation if you look into the mouth.

Since I want to use the bottom of the Paint can for the front, i had to cut the opening.

I eyeballed with the help of a ruler where the mouth needed to be.
Using a utility knife I scored along the mark 3 - 4 times.  I then put the tip on it and smacked the end of the utility knife and it went through no problem.  I continued to cut the mouth out.

The Front door
I made the front door with some remaining insulwool and two more pieces from some old hanging file folders.
I separated the sides and slid the metal feet in.  I then used some brad nails pushed through the insulwool to keep the feet from slipping out the sides.

Torch Hole
I then drilled a hole into the side of the can just a little bigger than the tip of my torch, I angled the hole so the flame would hit the top at a slight angle and swirl around.  There are MANY MANY discussions about the best location for the flame but this is what I decided on.

Step 3: Apply Cement

I then applied a layer of Satanite cement to anywhere I used Insulwool.  
     You should wear rubber gloves, i didn't and my hands STUNK for days.
It was tough getting the cement around the inside of the torch hole but it's important to keep "BAD" dust from filling your workshop.
Notice, the little plug there, you can ignore that.  You can't make a good plug until the rest is finished.

Once this is dry you will need to apply a second coat, making sure the bottom inside is extra thick.  say 1/4"

You need to be gentile with this stuff since that satanite isn't overly tough stuff.  

Oh, and i am LOVING the Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock and Black & Brew from their winter pack.  I'm hoping to find them in their own 6 pack soon.

Step 4: Back

Now that the satanite is dry in the body of the Forge it's time to make the plug for the back of the forge.

Push some aluminum foil into the forge about 1 1/2" - 2" and then spread it out over the whole back to keep the plug from sticking.

Put in an initial layer of Satanite and then put in some left over scraps of Insulwool to give it some extra stability and insulation.
Cover that up with more satanite and poke it around a few times to make sure the insulwool is fully covered.

Once dry "took 3 - 5 days" pop out the plug and slowly peel off the aluminum foil.  take it easy since it's pretty crumbly stuff.
Once it's out, break off any thin pieces and make sure it fits in there nicely.

I then laid a piece of metal across the top and made some locator marks and some additional marks where I should put screws in.  I chose to use 3 1 1/4" pocket hole screws since they were coarse thread and I had them on hand.  Drywall screws would work too.

Now, put on the lid and use those locator marks to line up the metal and mark for the screw holes.  Drill through the lid and into the satanite plug just a little.  Remove the lid and the Plug.

Now screw them together SLOWLY, don't strip the screws out of the satanite.

Make a test fit and everything should be great.

Step 5: Fire It UP!!!

I made the first test fire in my basement shop just to see how everything worked.  BIG mistake.  the first firing REALLY STINKS!

Take it outside or into the garage for the first few fires.
In my first firing I noticed that the top corners were to sharp so I applied a bit more Satanite to round it out a bit more.
I'm now getting a pretty good spiral blue flame which is a little hard to see in photos but I'm happy with it.

After having it lit for about 15 minutes I put my hand on the top of it and it was quite hot but i was able to put my hand on there.  Wasn't comfortable but not bad.

It turns out I can heat metal that is a max of 4" wide.

Step 6: First Project

My first project with this was to make an old looking hanger for my Wife's Antique lantern.

I don't have a real Anvil, just a piece of Railroad track "anvil shaped object" that I picked up at an estate sale.

The curled hook seemed to look good on my first attempt but it took a bit of work because it kept twisting to the side as i rolled it.

The flattened section against the wall took 3 tries to make.  I figured out that to make a leaf like shape you first have to point the tip of the rod before flattening it.  I don't have a closeup but I used the peening side of hammer to make leaf like marks on that.

Shown is the hook installed and hanging the Lantern.  I think it looks pretty good for my first forging attempt ever.

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    4 years ago

    MikeO, great work! I might be overthinking this but what do you think about starting the first layer with Satanite, then Insulwool, then Satanite, etc... until you've insulated down to the actual forge cavity?


    Reply 4 years ago

    Satanite is a Refractory, so it reflects heat back into the forge. putting it on the other side of the Insulwool wouldn't really do anything to keep the center cavity hotter. it may make the insulwool itself hotter though...


    6 years ago on Introduction

    so could you theoretically use coal and a air source??? need to know


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    nope, that is a totally different type of forge.


    8 years ago

    connecting multiple would only be useful if you try to heat treat. The whole point to the removable back is so you can heat long items to beat them to shape so with just one paint can you should be able to make a sword.

    Do you think its possible to connect multiple paint cans to make a forge long enough to hold a sword maybe? Like just attach 3-5 cans to each other instead of plugging the hole on the first one, and adding multiple holes for the propane torch.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    Sweet mini forge. I like that it actually works to finish a project.

    Does it get hot enough to do any annealing or tempering? (for blade work)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, but the heat is rather focused so i don't think you would get an even temper. This type of forge is best for beating/bending/shaping things.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Heya, very nice work on the forge, and with keeping its outer temp low (ish) hehe
    Can this setup, cement and Insulwool work for a glass blowing 'gloryhole' for melting glass?
    Also, where are you getting your Insulwool? I'm in Australia and really struggling to find this product where I don't need to buy 10 meters of it for a rediculous price!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I got the Insulwool and Satanite at