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how can i make a homemade forge on the cheap?


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#1 new guy

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 01:08 PM

i want to make a homemade forge on the cheap so i can make tools for me and my son. obviously i cannot get a weber grill hot enough and i don't feel safe using a galvanized garbage can. so how can a start a forge with cheap materials? :confused:

#2 Finnr

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 01:39 PM

Blue Print 0133 the famous 55 forge.
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#3 David Einhorn

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 02:04 PM

Blue Prints here:

BP0133 55 Forge | Blueprints 100-200

BP0115 5th Wheel Forge | Blueprints 100-200

#4 dablacksmith

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 02:12 PM

ok.... what is a forge ? it is a place to hold fire (as far as coal ,charcoal or coke) and to be able force air to make it hotter! a hole on the ground will work! work with what you have on hand but keep in mind your goal... ive seen old forges that were wood and sand...they made a wood box with a pipe going thru leingthwise with a cap on one end (for a ash dump) . the pipe had some holes drilled into it about halfway down (middle of forge) that worked as grate air was forced down pipe and thru holes the box was filled with sand and sand was moved away from grate to leave a depression to grate.. verry simple and easy to change shape of fire just move sand ! ive seen same done with fireclay instead of sand ...or brake drum or tire rim or... i cant see your scrap pile but theyres bound to be sumthin....good luck!

#5 new guy

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 02:19 PM

thank you all for the help on this i will probably use the 55 forge or go for a sand and concrete lined hole in the ground.

#6 Glenn

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 03:10 PM

Do not use concrete as the heat can cause it to spauld throwing pieces of the concrete into your face. The sand can melt into a glass trapping some of the clinker and ash. It would better to use clay to line the hole in the ground, some use kitty litter when clay is not available. But what is wrong with just dirt?

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#7 new guy

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 05:28 PM

that is good to know that kitty litter and clay is better than my ideas and exploding concrete in my face is not on my to do list. the clay lined hole sounds like a much more doable idea then all of mine. however i think that i will be using a relatively low temp forge. at what temp does sand turn to glass?

#8 John Martin

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 06:23 PM

Seems that we are having this question come up quite a lot latley, here is a real good example, with a tutorial, you can obviosuly modify it to be larger or smaller.
Link: Charcoal Forge

Gas is always another option: several kinds can be found here: Zoeller Forge


#9 blafen

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 07:23 PM

I made my first forge from straight up red river clay inside a tire rim with a piece of threaded pipe for a tuyere, and have gotten it up to welding temp with charcoal and a shop vac hooked up to a rheostat, the forge took me about two days and 20 dollars to make (most o the two days was spent waiting on the clay to dry) I had no preblems with the clay spalling, but at very high temps it kind of glazed over in a few spots, and i read you can make a very good refractory from ash mixed with clay.
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#10 ThomasPowers

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 12:12 PM

if you are going to forge steel you will be above the melting temperature of sand.
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#11 new guy

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 02:30 PM

all of this is good to know i think i will use clay or concrete to give a good thick inside layer to an old wheelbarrow i found at my grandmothers house. all i need to do is find a good metal pipe and the related fittings. oh and thanks to all for the ideas and help. i will try to post pictures of the final forge and what i am making when it is done. also can silt be used (i live next to a tidal lagoon) the silt is very clay like and it is not sandy. i think it is mostly clay.

#12 MattBower

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 02:45 PM

Skip the concrete. Use clay.

A wheelbarrow will make an awfully large, heavy forge. Portable, yes, but unnecessarily bulky. Just a thought.

#13 Frosty

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 02:46 PM

If it's silt it won't fire, it'll remain dusty and dirty. Fire clay isn't very expensive and should be easily available at a concrete plant or fireplace suplier though the latter is always more expensive. I think the last time I bout a 50lb bag it cost me around $23.

Kitty litter is bentonite clay and though I've never used it for high temps it's been used for a long time, perhaps centuries for patching cupola melters.

Mix the clay with sand or better yet grog, crushed fire brick to help prevent shrink checking and spalling. You also want to mix it as dry as possible, just enough moisture so you can ram it in place with a mallet, hammer, etc. The less water the less shrinking as it dries and the less shrink checking. Think dried lake bottom. Once you have it rammed in, use a dull blade like a butter knife to score the liner, think expansion joints in a sidewalk, this will cause it to shrink check along the scored lines rather than randomly.

A wheel barrow makes a heck of a forge, I can't think who here on IFI built himself one a while back. And lastly you can do this exact same thing to your Weber grill, lots of guys do it with old grills.

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#14 MattBower

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 02:57 PM

I think I paid $12.50 for a 50 pound bag of kaolin at the ceramic store, last time I bought some. Kaolin will tolerate in excess of 3000 degrees F. But most of a solid fuel forge lining will never get hot enough to truly vitrify, let alone melt, so the type of clay isn't all that critical. Bentonite is actually pretty low-firing as clays go, but it's fine for this. In fact it's a good choice because it has excellent green (unfired) strength. (The green strength is why it's used as a binder in sand casting.)

Edited by MattBower, 09 March 2009 - 03:00 PM.


#15 Glenn

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 03:02 PM

Take a look at BP0133 the now famous 55 forge again. There is no clay used. The air pipe stands proud of the bottom of the forge about an inch and the first fire provides ash to insulate the bottom of the forge. There are no "fittings" required for assembly.

Any dish shaped object will work, bottom of a hot water heater, ag disk, steel automobile wheel, break drum etc., even a flat surface will work, you will just need to pile the solid fuel a little deeper. With clay you can sculpt most any size and style fire pot you want at little or no cost.

This is not to discourage you from experimentation. Please try new things and report back what works as we may be missing something here.

If someone questions your standards, they are not high enough.

Do not build a box, that way you do not have to think outside the box.


#16 new guy

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 05:19 PM

i still think that the concrete and grog will work for the liner of a wheel barrow and i cannot use the grill because my dad said no to that (i'm 15 me and my dad both use this account). i personally think that a bigger forge will work because no one wants to steal a 3 or 400 pound hunk of concrete and steel, also it is what we have lying around and it is cheap. although i might go with other ideas i like the 55 forge or a washtub forge it i can get those for free or cheap.

can i use steel rebar for tongs? i have some 1/2 in sections lying around and i want to get rid of it (or use it both work).

#17 Glenn

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 05:47 PM

i still think that the concrete and grog will work for the liner of a wheel barrow


IForgeIron promotes safety, but your personal safety is your personal responsibility.

Please invest in eye protection AND a full face shield, as well as a full set of leathers, gloves, sleeves, apron, chaps, spats, and shoes. It is no guarantee, but will be much cheaper than having concrete particles removed from tender areas of the body and/or an artificial eye installed.

If someone questions your standards, they are not high enough.

Do not build a box, that way you do not have to think outside the box.


#18 Frosty

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 05:53 PM

New guy the younger:

First off, it's good to have another kidsmith on the forum. You're in good company, we already have the pleasure of the company of a number of fine young men and are always happy to add another.

Forget the cement, it IS DANGEROUS in a fire. Use clay and grog or sharp sand, no cement. This isn't a fireplace where you can get away with a fireplace mix design, it's a forge and will get hot enough to spall concrete. You seriously do NOT want to be eating hot flying concrete chips. It hurts, I know.

One of the beauties of the 55 forge is nobody wants to steal an old cut up 55 gl drum. It's also at a good working height.

Now, repeat after me. No C-E-M-E-N-T in the forge. Or do we have to tell your Mom? :o

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#19 CRAFTBENDER

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 07:06 PM

I haven't done much hot work in the past but one day when I was piddlin, I took an old green porcelain cast iron bathroom sink and put some plain charcoal in it and stuck the exaust of a small shop vac on the bottom of the drain hole. It made a hot fire. That might work for you.

#20 MattBower

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 07:34 PM

Look, lad, dig a bunch of clay from the back yard or local creek, screen/pick out all the pebbles, mix it with enough water to make stiff mud pies, and line your forge with that. It is FREE and it won't blow up in your face. Even if it doesn't contain clay, the worst that'll happen is that it'll get dry and dusty. That's a lot better than blinding you. I'm not sure why you insist on paying for concrete that WILL NOT work (it will crumble when it gets hot, even if it somehow doesn't spall) and WILL be dangerous.




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