2-day $20-$50 Blacksmithing Forge

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About: I'm a student at Ohio University Main campus; majoring in Chemistry and Biology, minoring in Physics and Mathematics. My blacksmithing projects and practices are generally power-free (no power-hammers, angle...

Intro: 2-day $20-$50 Blacksmithing Forge

A How-To on how to make a small forge

Step 1: The Stuff

Clay- From a potters-shop

Fan- From one of those tacky inflatible palm trees

Metal Chair- I got one from a junkyard. Stacked bricks will also work

Safety Wire- $5-$10 at hardware shops

Big Speaker- Found an old steel one at my church as well

Quickcrete- $3 on sale

Light Fixture- Got an old one from my chicken coop ($5 new)

Steel Pipe- Easily found at a junkyard/scrapyard. Be cautious: I unwisely used galvanized steel. Though the dangers are exaggerated, if used in an enclosed space, can be pretty rough.

Tire Rim- can be found at a junkyard too.

A Hack Saw- Every man should have one of these

I think that covers it- on to Step 2

Step 2: The Quickcrete

Get a burlap sack and put about 2-3 lbs of DRIED clay and pound with a sledge-hammer until the clay is a coarse powder. Edit: An old blender (salvation army, goodwill, ect) also works really well for this.

Mix the Quickcrete according to the "instructions"
I mixed about 3/8 bag of quickcrete to 3/4 gallon of water.

Put the water, Quickcerete, and clay in a 5-gallon bucket.

Mix the mix until it is just under a tacky consistency.

Step 3: The Stand

With the sledge break of the seat and backing of the chair.

Strip the speaker of the paper, the magnet, and copper coil until there is nothing but metal left.

Attach the speaker to the chair with the safety wire make sure it is very sturdy (you may weld if you like).

Edit: Speaker (obviously) isn't necessary. I used this to raise the forge-pot higher, to preference. In more recent builds, I've used brick--greater stability, more available, but less mobile.

Step 4: The Guts of the Heat

Get the lid from a Boy Scout popcorn tin and punch a hole the size of the steel pipe. This is only to fill the hole at the base of the tire rim. It works really well, but any thin sheet metal works (again, based on availability).

If holes are in the tire rim put tin foil over them (several layers thick).

Put the lid of the tin over the axle hole on the tire.

Step 5: The Heat

The Quickcrete should be ready. In globs, put the Quickcrete/clay on the tire rim.

Be very careful to allow no air pockets under the 'crete, as they will explode, and hurt.

After the layer of Quickcrete is 3in-4in thick, smooth the surface.

Step 6: The Fan

Cut the light fixture at the top. cram inside the "blowhole" of the fan.

Using the hack-saw, make a 1in long "V" cut in the pipe appx. 10-12in from the top.

Put the long end in the fan, and put the other end in the forge(I did this before I adhered the Quickcrete).

Step 7: The Pride

Stand back and gawk at your new creation. Smile because it is time to test it.

Warning: Heat slowly because the fire will expand any air/water and destroy parts of your beautiful forge. I'd recommend an initial burnout--start a small wood fire in the pot, and slowly increase the intensity for about 5 hours.

You are now done.

Tell me how yours worked, but if you die, it is not my fault.

If you have any questions, ask, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Edit: Another concern. If you blacksmith out of a shelter, place something over the forge when you're done. Precipitation will do a number on the surface of the material--as you re-heat it. Also, I live in Ohio, and the weather isn't exactly consistent--freezing and thawing (with moisture in the forgepot) will lead to it breaking down after about 2 years.

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    67 Discussions

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    Anthony JanY

    1 year ago

    I'm not an expert, but what if we mix the clay with sand (50:50 ratio, I guess). It will greatly reduce shrinkage and water-trapping since sand doesn't shrink and doesn't hold water. I think it will also make the clay stronger and more heat-resistant. Silica sand would be better, as I've heard.

    Also, pulverizing the dry clay before mixing it with sand will be better. It will allow you to accurately measure the amount of clay (it's hard to measure the clay if it is wet, since the water in it is heavy).

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    RyanP53

    2 years ago

    Would this safely melt iron for die casting?

    Also, can you go into more detail for your initial burnout procedure?

    Thanks

    2 replies
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    OldOwlIronworksRyanP53

    Reply 2 years ago

    Forgot to add, about the burnout. Really, the idea is to remove all the moisture, without compromising the actual structure in the process. What I did for this project was: let it dry a few days--more is better. During that time, I filled cracks that formed with watery slip (watery-er the better, because trapped air is what causes the forge to pop and crack the first few runs), and let dry some more. The whole process was probably 4 or 5 days--longer wouldn't hurt. Then, I started a wood fire in the forge and built it up over the next 3 hours. I used wood the first few forging sessions, and had no problems. If you're brave, you could put this in an oven and slowly increase temperature (start it at 180 F for 1.5 hrs, 200F, 1 hr, 230, 1hr, 260, 1hr, ect) I'd probably start a bit below waters BP, just to prevent gas buildup, and allow any large amounts of water to diffuse out. Wear safety glasses for sure, the first few times (always, but that's not always practical), because there are little spots that can and will flake off if it gets heated to quickly.

    Now. You want to cast. You could use a brake drum lined with firebrick, and grouted with the mix used in this instructable. I have a forge that I built for larger applications, and it melts copper no sweat--which is about 1000deg off where it needs to be. That forge uses a hand crank, so dry coal, electric air, and patience should melt iron in it.

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    OldOwlIronworksRyanP53

    Reply 2 years ago

    You'd probably need something much larger. Like much much larger. I've recently been playing around with crucible steel; and it takes a massive forge (for 5ish lbs of steel yield, I'm talking a 3x3x3 kiln. The issue is how the heat is transferred. In casting, you need some sort of vessel to hold the material, so all the energy to melt needs to migrate that barrier, then the amount of energy it requires to convert from solid to liquid comes into play. For a cleaner burning, smaller forge, look into propane crucible steel--same premise for ferrous casting.

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    OldOwlIronworkslukekitash12

    Reply 2 years ago

    Though the clay I used was dry, it could have had a bit of water to it; making weight an unreliable measurement. I used 3 lbs, ish. Honestly, I wrote this instructable a few years ago, and it could definitely use an update. If low low low cost isn't the issue, there are furnace cements that are much more reliable than a homemade mix.

    I have worked titanium several times in both coal and propane, in a non-reducing atmosphere. I have never had an issue with combustion. Many smiths can validate this statement

    Hmm I don't know if my forge would be capable of producing such temps. of 1700 Celcius (3092 F) nessesary for forging Titanium. It may be able to get the metal red-hot, but probably won't melt it. I am currently working on a new instructable for a different forge that may suit your purposes. Did you actually make Titanium, I saw that article in PopSci-Gray Matter and really wished I could do that. Thanks for the comment! --KatanaKreater

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    jjhammerstein

    9 years ago on Step 7

    It's much easier to use a brake drum from a truck for your fire bowl. I found mine on the side of the highway somewhere. It has the same thermal mass qualities, and I'm pretty sure junk car lots are easier to find than pottery supply shops. Cheaper too.

    8 replies
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    Starshock01jjhammerstein

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 7

    yeah while brake drum forges are nice they have barely enough room to make a decent knife, unless your using a monster truck drum

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    Demascusjjhammerstein

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 7

    me too, made 2ft by 3 ft long table out of angle iron and 1/8 inch steel plate for the table bed, cut a hole in it just big enough to allow the brake drum to sit down in it and is held by that little rim on the outside edge all brake drums have. Use a large table fitting about 2inch diam pipe drilled holes in the inside edge of the brake drum (where the tire mounting nuts go.) used clay to pack a little bit around it and then made a 1/2 inch thick plate with holes in that set on the bottom. and I use coal, once it is started I keep adding more til it makes a mole hill in the middle of the forge. You use a watering sprinkler can to wet down the coal and keeps the fire from spreading also makes it coke up in there. I punch a little hole in the side of it and creates a "little cave" that way I can see my stuff and not melt it off. (yes I have done that) with just coal and air the thing gets over 3,000 degrees inside it will burn steel.literally

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    seabee890jjhammerstein

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 7

    the blacksmith that was teaching me used the top of a old water heater tank(the inside not the outside, this made a natural cleanout hole at the bottom. I miss the smell of burning coal sometimes.

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    OldOwlIronworksseabee890

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 7

    That is a great idea for a forge, I plan to build a Blacksmiths shop as well as a new forge this summer. And the smell of coal will never get old(:

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    seabee890OldOwlIronworks

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 7

    my goal is to find a way to create a power hammer without  the weight and space, i was going to use a cherry picker and a jack hammer  set up so that i could custom make the bits but i have not got the space for a shop yet.

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    OldOwlIronworksseabee890

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 7

    Ah that may work, and a good Idea, but where would you get the jackhammer? just wondering. Ive had some thoughtsabout a trip hammer and may even make it traditionally, but with a electric(possibly) motor

    a possibly more complicated way to do it may be to observe some clock movements. use a pendulum and gear setup to lift and drop a hammer. need big weight on the pendulum tho.....

    also, i a blacksmith book i bought, there was an 'un' powered hammer that used ur foot to hammer. maybe i draw a pic, if i can figure out how to upload one. basically, hammer is on an axle. a leaf spring (which was made of wood in the pic) was attached to a chain, rope, ect, looped over a pully and attached to the hammer.

    another chain-thing was attached to the axle (or an arm attached to the axle, for more leverage....). the other end of the chain was attached to a foot pedal. hands are free to manover the metal and such, while the foot moved the hammer.