I really got into this show called Forged in Fire. It's a reality show centered on blacksmithing and blade making. Something I've always wanted to get into. My amazing wife gave the green light to go ahead and spend some cash getting my well equipped little woodworking shop, set up to do some smithing.
Being a novice knife maker, I really didn't know much about what it takes to make a knife from scratch and make the metal hard and straight. I started with purchasing a piece of Damascus steel and using a grinding wheel to cut out a chef knife. This was about the time I learned (from YouTube) that there is an entire process involved in shaping a knife and hardening the steel to ensure keeps an edge.
Basically, I needed a kiln or forge to heat the knife up after shaping. Once heated I needed to quench it in oil so the molecules line up and harden the blade. Then 4 hours in the oven at 400 degrees to finish it off. If I didn't do that, the blade wouldn't hold an edge and no matter how well it looks, it wouldn't be much use in the kitchen.
Being somewhat cheap and not wanting to spend a lot on a new hobby I might not like, I decided to make my own forge.
So here's how I did it.
Step 1: The Jet Torch
There is a guy on YouTube called the King of Random. I find his videos very interesting and love his experiments. I remembered one of his videos on how to make a propane jet torch using simple and inexpensive plumbing parts. I watched his video a few times and made a parts list and went to building. It's really as simple as the picture I have here. The only tricky part is the carburetor or, the tin can lid you'll use to restrict the air flow into the torch. This creates a balance to the flame. The proper air to fuel mix. It works great and his plans make one hell of a flame.
My advice here is to watch his video and do what he did. He even has a printout for cutting the tin can carb.
Step 2: The Jet Cone.
Just like a rocket, the jet torch will need a cone to direct the flame and allow the fuel and oxygen to mix correctly. The torch plans I got off of YouTube uses a 1" to 1/2" adapter to function as a cone. That's not going to work for a forge. It would melt.
My solution given the fact that this was going to be inside a forge and exposed to very high temperatures was to make one out of the refractory (kiln) bricks. Using forstner drill bits, I stepped down every 1/4 inch or so until the final hole matched the 1/2 pipe. That way when the torch is screwed into the top of the forge, the pipe will seat into the kiln brick cone and therefore create the proper flame needed to get some good heat and quickly.
Step 3: The Forge Box.
Like I said in the beginning, I'm not much of a metal worker. I can sort of weld, it's not my strength for sure. So to keep things simple, I bought 6, 12"x12" steel plates at the hardware store and welded a simple 12x12 steel box together. I made cutouts on the front and back just in case I ever wanted to heat something longer than 12".
I went to my local pottery supply store and purchased a case of refractory bricks to line the inside of the forge with. You'll need to understand, the steel box does nothing to hold the heat in or make this a forge. I made the steel box to protect the kiln bricks and have a place to mount the torch. You can simply stack these bricks in a square and probably get the same effect.
I suggest you research refractory bricks if you're going to build this. There are different types for different applications. These bricks have amazing heat absorption qualities. They're similar to the tiles used on the space shuttle. They are also very fragile. Like chalk, they would break if you drop them. You can cut them with a simple handsaw. I found the best prices at the pottery supply store near me. Online prices were crazy and difficult to understand. Even if you have to drive a bit, go there. I think I paid $75 for the case.
You'll also need refractory cement. Some people call it chimney cement. I got it at my local Ace. As you can see from the photos, there are some voids. To overcome these, I cut some of the bricks to fit. The refractory cement filled in the remaining void and locked all these very fragile bricks together nicely.
SAFETY NOTE: When cutting or drilling into the bricks use respiratory protection. Serious protection too. A good N95 mask or respirator in a well ventilated area. These bricks contain silica, which once it gets into your lungs, it's there to stay. Not to freak you out, just be smart.
Step 4: Forge Cart.
I picked up this small metal cart at goodwill. Figured it would work great for moving the forge around as this isn't something I need out all the time. It worked well too for hanging the propane cylinder and ensuring the gas hose was up and away from the forge. You can probably find these carts anywhere. I know harbor freight has them.
Step 5: In Action.
Here's a couple of pics of the forge in action. It only takes a few minutes to pull out and fire her up. The railroad spike you see in this pic was only in the forge for 5mins. The refractory brick you see in the front with the "V" shape cut into it was an afterthought. When you make yours, make the forge entry smaller than I did. It works just fine with the large hole I cut into it. It just works faster with that brick in place. I'm going to make a proper door for the front at some point.
Step 6: The Anvil Stand.
Once I finally had a forge, I figured pounding away on my anvil as it sat on the driveway was a little bush league. I made this anvil stand out of some dimensional lumber I had picked and it has been sitting in my garage for years.
I cut it into four equal sections.
Welded some metal strapping together to make three bands I could use to hold the wood together. Lag bolts just weren't cutting it.
I drilled and countersunk holes in two 12x12 metal plates. Welded them together and added some tubular steel around the edge to give it some strength.
I built a base for it out of 2x4's (the wood was old) to give me a solid base to mount some wheels to. Like the forge, I'm not going to use this all the time so I wanted a way to wheel it in and out.
I also mounted a bench vice to it and man, that was a good idea. It gets a lot of use.
I used a large railroad bolt and welded the nut to the side of the anvil. The head of the bolt works like a ball peen hammer when shaping metal.
I also hammered in two railroad spikes to act as a hammer rack. Those work great.
I've started making knives out of the railroad spikes I have. I'd love to show you what I've made but I'm not there yet. I'm very new at this and I'm self taught. As I progress, I'll do another instructable on the railroad knives. I'll make sure to show how crude my first ones were and what I've learned along the way.
I should note, I actually getting pretty good. So good, the Mrs said I could go buy one of those large belt grinders. I'm going to get a mid-range one. Ultimately though, I want to build my own.
aisaacs3 made it!