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I Forge Iron

Going both ways? Forging and casting


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So I have been lurking around this site for a while and have read tons of information.
I have also done a ton of reading at BYMC melting metal in a home foundry, backyard metalcasting, metal casting
I have done some aluminum and brass casting many years ago. I am a competent welder as I spent 14 years as a shop teacher before my current job.
I am interested in both casting and forging.
My question is this:

Can one apparatus be built that could be used as both a furnace and a forge?
It seems to me that the major difference is the placement of the burner. Could a furnace be built with kaowool and ITC100 as the refractory? Could a forge be built with cast refractory? What about one unit with 2 burner ports where the one that is not being used is "plugged" with kaowool?
This set up would be laid on the side for forging and set on end for melting.

Just thinking out loud as I am interested in both but don't have funds to build dedicated machines.

I realize that a purpose built furnace might not make a great forge, nor will a purpose built forge make a great furnace. Is there a happy medium?

Would a forge melt aluminum and brass in a small 6"diaX6" tall crucible?
Just to complicate it I would probably run it in gas and or oil
What say you?


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I got my real start in blacksmithing by beating on steel while waiting for my bronze to melt. You're right in saying that a melting furnace isn't the best forge. Well the same goes for the forge, it isn't the best melting furnace. I built my first gas forge using my melting furnace burner. WOW! What a blast! In no time at all I had it up to welding heat, nothing like a forced draft burner to get things really hot. Since aluminum melts at a somewhat lower temperature than bronze I'm sure that you can ghetto rig a way to get the crucible to sit there while you melt the metal. Is it the best way? No, but you can make it work.:cool:

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I have plugged a burner with a disk of kaowool, and it seems to work fine. No chimney effect, burner stayed cold. Deciding I want to use said burner however means that the forge has to cool all the way off so you can reach in a pull the plug. It is near impossible to grab it with tongs while hot.


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I've used my coal forge to melt brass, bronze, copper, silver (sterling and fine) mainly for casting knife fittings.

Would a forge take a 6" crucible Yes, No, Maybe depending on the forge.

Natural Gas is what they used when I took a brass casting course. Oil forges are famous for both being hot and reducing, Coal, Charcoal, fuel is not the problem generally if the forge is designed for it.

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I built a Robb Gunter, Sandia style propane forge many years ago, when the plans were first made available to the public. After only a few months, I became dissatisfied with the naturally aspirated version so I removed the orifices, attached a small blower and have been using it since for forging. It will not quite reach welding temperature but is great for general work.

About a year ago, one of my regular customers asked me to cast some bronze handles. I had never done any casting apart from a few lead fishing sinkers, but I read up on the subject and asked a lot of questions. Since I didn't want to spend a bunch on new equipment, I made several steel crucibles (which worked pretty well) and also bought a couple of ceramic crucibles - all of which I ran through the modified Sandia design. I would place the charged crucibles into a cold forge then fire it to melt temp. I also designed my tongs to hold the crucibles at waist level instead of pulling them vertically and never had any trouble handling or pouring.

I think casting and forging are probably better served by two different furnace designs but you can definitely use one unit to do both if you think thru the problems of handling hot metal in a safe manner.

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It is without a doubt better to have seperate forge and furnace, but either one can do the others job, for starting out you could use one but as you progress you will want them to be seperate.
It is not a matter of heat, it is the conveinence of the design. I did have a furnace that I could lay on it's side and use as a forge but it wasted a lot of fuel and heat as a forge.


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I will probably build a gas fired furnace. Might play around with an oil burner for it after I get it up and running. I will probably line it with castable refractory to withstand the heat of melting and casting brass. I will make to outside of it such that I can lay it on its side and maybe place a kiln shelf in it to use as a forge. I know it will be heavy and all. I feel that this will suit my needs for now.
On a positive note I requisitioned (scrounged) a nice brake disc and hunk or RR track, and about 8-10 RR spikes today. I might have a brake disc forge and makeshift anvil to play with by Thanks giving. Still got my eye out for a brake drum. I am going to check a local place that works on 18 wheelers this week. I might get my hands on a big one.
Me working with metal and tinkering around = HAPPY
Yeah Come on!!!!

Edited by Saulnier
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You can certainly use your forge for doing small pours but if you want to cast on a regular basis, build a furnace specific to the job. (I've attached a picture of a furnace I built for small melts - 20 - 30lb pours) It makes it nice not having to convert from forge to furnace then back again.

Give these folks a look - they've got great info and a good selection of the equipment needed.

BCS: BCS - Budget Casting Supply

Have fun and keep us up to date on how it goes!


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