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I Forge Iron

Homemade forge


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so here's the deal i'm deployed to afghanistan atm and this is something i've always been pretty interested in but do not know alot about. I would like to make a forge and start messin around to pass time here when i'm not getting shot at lol. I'd like to know if there's anyway to make one with very limited tools and resources. As well I would also like some ideas on what kinda materials i can use. Off the top of my head only things i can think of that might be of use are bricks (that i dont even think are clay) tons of rocks of every shape and size and for metal really all i know of is random pieces of iron, steel fence pickets and i could prob get ahold of some steel from indirect shrapnel dk bout that one though. Any ideas or advice from anyone will be very much appreciated. thanks

ps- it also limits me cause i'm not usually where i can get mail so that makes it that much worse lol

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Not much gear, not much time and possible storage problems.

How about a hair dryer, bit of pipe and a hole in the ground for an earth forge. Sounds flippant I know but a lot of people use these for their every day forge. A search on the forum should give you lots of ideas for this type of forge but its essentially what I said. Dig a hole, run the pipe into the side of the hole with the end just exposed and hook up the hair dryer. The simplest type of side draft forge going.

Good luck

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thanks only prob dont really know how imma get ahold of a hair dryer lol or power to run it i'm usin the extra time i got up here to try and find out if anybody's come up with some kinda way to make a good way to infil air that doesnt use power or anything i know its gonna be kinda a pain but i gotta use what i got lol hole in the ground with piping is prob what i'll do though now just gotta figure that last part out lol air and what kinds of random metal i could use as well

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What branch are you in?

You may be able to scrounge alot from the motorpool. Brake drum, pipes, fan motors and batteries for power. You can even use an axel tube from a hum-v for an anvil if nothing better can be found. They are fixing and replacing items all the time.

You may be able to make a reasonable bellows out of sticks and string and old cloth.

This is tough, for me, without a bit more information. If you give us a mental picture of the surroundings, we could offer more insight.

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Well, a set of skin or bag bellows is about as simple as you can get, and they do work.

http://boingboing.net/2009/09/04/kenyan-blacksmiths-m.html

It's as simple as it looks. The bottoms of the bags are connected to the tuyere (air tube for the fire). You simply open the tops of the bags during the up stroke, and close them during the down stroke.

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The first thought that comes to mind is "what are the local smiths using?" Probably charcoal for fuel, a hole in the ground for a forge and some sort of bellows. I would try to duplicate their set up as you know that everything can be found "locally".

The United Nations put out a smithing manual that I believe is downloadable from the net. It was written WRT Africa but should be a good fit for rural Afghanistan with typical "found metals" used.

Good Luck!

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As far as a bellows system goes you can do a search here and come up with some links that will get you to things like pics and drawings of bellows using such diverse ideas as water filled drums and plans for a Japanese box bellows that supplies air on both the push and pull strokes.
If I was more tech savy I would know how to post links here but since I don`t if you strike out e-mail me and I can send you some of my bookmarked links.

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The issue is what do you have to work with.

First off what fuels do you have available. Build a forge around that fuel source, A forge is nothing more than something to contain the fire, be it a hole in the ground, or a containment on a raised platform. You will need to add air to the fuel to increase the burning temperature. As mentioned, any blower, fan etc can be used whether 12v or a higher voltage. There are many types of bellows, skins, bladders, wooden, and then you get into the creative bellows such as using pipe or boxes. There is even a bellows that can be made from inserting a 30 gallon drum into a 55 gallon drum filled with water. From there you need something with 50-100 pounds mass, the heavier the better, to serve as an anvil, a hammer (ball peen will do) and some scrap metal.

Give us more of an idea what is available and we can give you a better answer as to how it can be used to set things up so you can blacksmith.

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First, Thank you for your service. Second, I use a bellows at the historic site that I work at. It works very well and delivers a very good airflow, once you get used to it. I agree with the idea of using a fuel that the locals use. It will sure be a lot easier than trying to make charcoal where you're at. Good luck and keep your head down!! :)

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I picked up blacksmithing on my 3rd tour to Iraq so I understand your situation with some differences of circumstances. I got pretty lucky with the scrap yard on my FOB - hopefully you can find something good too. If you'd like some ideas on scrap metal Anvils and other deployment smithing things, please feel free to email me!

In my case, a propane forge was the way to go. I don't know if your unit uses any of this type of stuff in the maintenance/nbc sections, but here are some potential sources of supplies. Your maintenance folks - specifically the welding (Service & Recovery/S&R) shop may be able to give you some excess stuff that they don't use very often - perhaps they have already ordered replacements for the older stuff they brought into theater with them. They are also great place to find old tools that they don't need anymore, like files, punches, hammers, drill bits, etc...

So - a propane forge is really easy to build and use (just don't try lighting it with a lighter - use a burning piece of paper in the forge BEFORE you turn on the gas!) If you get fire bricks, 8-10 will make a nice medium-sized forge in just a few minutes. A sheet metal frame can be added later - just use a sheet of metal to bolt the burner onto on the top. My favorite material is what I started out with - Kaolin; it is used in NBC decon systems as the refractory in the water heater. It is rated at over 2700 degrees F and is pre-fabricated into a shape where 2 pieces stacked on each other makes a pretty little box - I think about 10"x10"x4". Stupid easy to make a forge out of; even without anything else but a plate for the burner to mount onto - it lasts much longer if you build an enclosure for it - check out my gallery for a picture of my first forge with that stuff. If you are interrested in trying it, I would need to dig up the NSN but I know I have it somewhere in my notebooks.

The burner - I recommend a Ron Reil style burner - stupid easy to make but you will be better off ordering the stuff you need than finding it... Basic list of ingredients: 3/4" x 6" black iron/steel pipe, threaded on both ends, 3/4" floor flange, 1 1/2"-->3/4" bell reducer, 1/4" x 4" brass tube threaded on both ends, 1/4" brass cap, 1/4" --> whatever size your hose fitting is adapter. You wil need a #58 #59 or #60 drill bit for the burner orifice - try to find a drill press around your maintenance folks before you trust yourself with free-hand drilling. Your maintenance folks may have all sorts of brass fittings and tubes in their bolt bins - anything bigger than a humvee pretty much has air brakes and that's what the Army uses brass pipe/fittings for.

http://www.anvilfire.com/FAQs/gas_forges.htm
(This is the Ron Reil Burner - instead of the flare opening, I just used a floor flange and haven't had any problems but got a really simple and easy-to-attach burner!)
http://www.forgemonkeys.com/
http://www.zoellerforge.com/flare.html (Zoeller Forge sells everything to make gas forges if you want to just buy it instead of trying to scrounge the stuff to get a forge).

NSNs if you have a source of supply:
Duplex Hose: 4720-01-043-4099
Adapter for Duplex (red) accetalyne hose to 1/8" NPT : 4730-01-224-7308
Fire Bricks: 9350-00-299-4217, 9350-00-240-6794, 9350-00-599-9464
KaoLin: I'm looking for that one.... let me know if you want it....
Accetalyne Regulator: 4820-00-344-0807, 4820-00-551-1094
Propane 8120-01-399-5107
(FEDLOG search should give you about 2 dozen results - here is one. Check the descriptions of these in FEDLOG to make sure you aren't ordering a bunch of little camp-stove size bottles)

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I saw the pic of your propane forge with the kaolin liner in the gallery, Eric. That was quite a beast!



For another smith to call something a beast is a huge complement to me! She is great at reshaping facory hammers into diagonal peens and such - 15 minutes and she'll have 4 2.5 lb heads bright cherry!

For any military folks out there, the NSN for kaolin is 3040-00-057-0225. If you can't find someone who has some and need to order it, just remember that a "commemorative" knife, trophy, or set of spurs (if you ain't Cav, you ain't sh*t!) For your Sergeant Major, commander, or maintenance sergeant and costs of supplies and materials have a way of getting justified.
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I don't quite understand this whats kaolin


For another smith to call something a beast is a huge complement to me! She is great at reshaping facory hammers into diagonal peens and such - 15 minutes and she'll have 4 2.5 lb heads bright cherry!

For any military folks out there, the NSN for kaolin is 3040-00-057-0225. If you can't find someone who has some and need to order it, just remember that a "commemorative" knife, trophy, or set of spurs (if you ain't Cav, you ain't sh*t!) For your Sergeant Major, commander, or maintenance sergeant and costs of supplies and materials have a way of getting justified.
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ok so here's about as much info as i can give about this place as i can think of and can actually tell you guys......
we have mraps here that are pos's and are always getting fixed so i should be able to get ahold of some of those parts
there's very limited electricity thats source is generators
we have afghan national army guys on the compound with us so i may be able to talk to one of them about getting somethin from the locals for fuel
there's alot of scrap metal laying around but the only thing i can think of thats big enough to use off the top of my head are fence pickets (the big steel green ones)
there are also scrap pieces of tin roofing layin around idk if those can be used
we have a fire pit made out of cinder blocks
i can prob get ahold of or at least borrow quite a bit of tools from our civilian maintenance contractor
i can probably get ahold a TON of brass casings so if those can be used for anything let me know please
ordering anything isnt really an option considering mail if we ever get it takes way way way too long lol
and lastly that i can think of there is a TON of rocks and dirt everywhere so a hole in the ground might not be a bad idea

thats bout as much as i can give atm hopefully this helps and thank you all for your responses

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I don't quite understand this whats kaolin



Kaolin is like Kaowool - it is a refractory lining (pre shaped and hardened in this case).

A refractory lining reflects back the heat generated by the flame of a gas forge, helping in heating metal placed in the forge.


I hope this picture attaches - if not I will put it in my gallery. Note the size of this solid piece of pre-formed refractory - the chamber made by two whole pieces would be about 12" x 18" x 5" - a rather large chamber for most forgings. This material is easy to cut with a knife or razor blade or hack saw to make whatever shape you need. And the dust/scrap fibers is great for packing around the forge's burner and doors.


Kaolin is non-recoverable and is class IX as a part so would get ordered through the motor pool.

Feel free to email me directly at ericjfarrar@yahoo.com or eric.farrar@us.army.mil - if I understand your location a little better, I could point you in an appropriate direction for wherever you are. COB? FOB? Fire base? Patrol base? Outpost?

post-5889-033230800 1274844299_thumb.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chris. Take Eric up on his offer for help and shoot him an email. I didn't pic up this hobby until after my last deployment. He did it in theater so has an understanding of what you need to do. Send me an email also if I can come up with any ideas I will send them to you. jeremy.reed@marines.usmc.mil

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  • 2 months later...

always plywood from inbark boxes I would make a japaneese box blower. I am sure there are plenty of spare parts at the motor pool and trun pallets into charcoal. keep the shop small so you can pack it up and take it where ever you need to go. for a forge a tuna can from the messhall lined with concret and a piece of pile with a 90 degree 3/4" should be big enough. Keep it all in proper proprotions.

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