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Gas forge can't get close to welding temp. Can I do anything?


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Hey folks. I have a sort of factory made gas forge that my parents got me when I was 15 (picture below, I'm 22 now so it's been sitting a while). A combination of things (just life getting in the way in general, I guess) has seen me completely neglecting it after only using it a few times, having only put one large tank of LP through it. My parents didn't want to buy more gas for me to waste with it back then, so there you go. It was also swiftly buried in the back of my dad's shop; it took me two hours to get the thing to the front when I dug it out a little while ago, and it's on wheels for God's sake.

One thing that was discouraging when I was first using it was the fact that it wouldn't get anywhere even remotely close to welding temperature, and one of the first exercises in a blacksmithing book I had was to make a tomahawk head by welding a strap. I've come to find out that forge-welding isn't as elementary as the book made it seem. 1/8" mild steel strap could get to about a lower-middling orange at most. The manual is long since gone, but I don't remember it telling me how to adjust the pressure, just that it had to be at 12PSI (how I remember that after 7 years I have no idea) and stay there in order to work correctly, which it did right out of the box. The left burner isn't working right now, but doubtless it's clogged up with a wasp nest or something, I'll just have to clean it out.

So, my main question is, can this sort of forge get to the higher temperatures for welding at all, and how might I adjust it to do so?

As an aside, you can just barely see my main anvil there. It's quite swaybacked and has pieces of the face broken off. It's incredibly old, and it came out of my great-uncle's garage, and knowing him I have a feeling it's encountered some dynamite at some point in its life. It doesn't have a 90 degree edge anywhere on it, the heel is the only 4 square inches of flat surface left on it, and the table (I think that's what it's called; at the base of the horn) is rough as a cob with chisel marks. Does anyone think it's still usable, or should I buy another anvil? I have a cheap Chinese POS cast iron anvil (also in the picture) that I bought for cheap that isn't really worth anything beyond scrap value in all honesty, but I figured it'd at least provide me a flat spot to hammer on for a while. Found a brand-new looking 70lb NC Big Face on Craigslist in my area for $175, and that's a bit pricey for my college student budget.

I also have an old pair of horse hoof clippers that I was using for tongs back when I was 15. Would it be worth it to just go ahead and re-form them into actual tongs, or should I just stop being a cheapskate and buy some?

I got off on a bit of a tangent there, but I tend to do that. Mostly I just need to know about the forge itself :)



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Did you leave the regulator with the knob screwed in? If so it may have taken a set over the years. That is a commercial brand forge and if you dig out the makers of it you can probably see if it was rated for welding "out of the box".

Your mousehole (my bet on your anvil's maker") is well worth repairing if you have to have it gussied up---why would one want a sharp 90 deg on their anvil? (and I ask this after 30+ years smithing...) and the table is designed to be used for cutting for a chisel---be thankful they used it instead of the face!

If you are going with gas you may want to build a gasser just for welding using flux resistant refractories. Or you could build a simple coal/charcoal forge and weld in that and forge in the gasser you have.

I'd say any smithing book that has welding as a beginner's project is probably NOT the book I'd suggest to a new person.

Please think about putting your general location in your profile as it makes giving suggestions for resources much better.

Two of the ABANA affiliates I have been a member of have had "Anvil Repair" workshops where damaged anvils were made "new" with the help of folks who *KNOW* what they are doing. You might check to see if the smithing group near you ever has one of those. The last one I went to I saw an anvil that someone had milled flat and clean and also too thin a face to use get built back into using condition also one of mine with a great face marred by air-arc gouging---old mine anvil---get re-done to beautiful condition. I have others that still have the sway in the face so necessary to knifemakers---makes straightening a WHOLE LOT EASIER!

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I just added my location. I'm in Central KY.

I'll have to get to the forge later tonight and look at the regulator. Do you think that's what kept the left burner from coming on, rather than a blockage?

I actually managed to find the forge online (NC Whisper Deluxe) and it says it gets to 2350 degrees, which is about 500 degrees short of the melting point of iron, so I suppose welding just isn't within its capability. Maybe I'll have to build another gas forge for that. I don't really want to deal with coal, because we used to have coal fired stoves in the barn when I was a kid and I remember how filthy and hard to deal with it was. I got in trouble a few times for playing in the coal pile in my new clothes :D

Making knives was actually one of the things I wanted to do. I've read on here how a swaybacked anvil actually helps with the straightening process, and I'll have to bow to experience on that one. It still seems kind of counterintuitive to me, though, to use two curved objects (swaybacked anvil and beveled hammer face) to produce a straight object, but if it works, it works. I'll also have to look at the anvil later as well, I'm sure it probably has the manufacturer written somewhere on it. Are mousehole anvils good ones? I know this one rings really loud every time you hammer something on it, and if it weren't for that big chunk of face that it was missing I wouldn't even think about using another one.

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Actually you can weld at room temperature if your pieces are clean enough and the pressure is high enough. Forge welding is a solid state welding process and so doesn't depend on melting point. However 2300 is a generally good welding temp for hammer welding. So your forge is at the very edge of that and so shouldn't be expected to be much of a welder.

As for straightening with a swayed anvil face you are not taking account "bounce back" When you press a curved piece against a flat piece there will always be some bounce back---even using my massive screwpress. You need to go just a bit farther so it bounces back to dead straight.

Blockage is most likely. If you can access the nozzle check for spider webs, teflon tape bits, crud, etc. And lean to tune your forge by ear and eye as the gauges are notoriously un-reliable especially over time.

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Yes, the left one is probably clogged, clean it out, might need a tip cleaner for the jet. The opening is pretty large for the size of that forge. Get some brick or Kao-wool and stuff up two sides of opening so it's only 3-4 inches wide - it will get much hotter. Don't put your work directly under the flame for welding, keep it between the burners.

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I have the same forge... well mine is the whisper momma it has ports in the front and back for bar stock.

Anyways welding isn't a problem at 2300 degrees you just have to work fast, hammer gently(more of a pulling smoothing motion), keep the work only out of the forge for seconds at a time, and do not hit it once it starts to cool(20 seconds-ish)or you break your weld.

Clean metal and flux are necessary, preheating your anvil with hot metal till it is hot to the touch really makes it work a lot easier also.

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Thanks for the replies, folks.

The left burner just had the mother of all spiderwebs in it. It was actually a solid plug of web through most of the burner pipe...I've never seen such a thing in my life. It looked like someone had tightly packed cotton in there. At any rate, I cleaned it out, and I'll probably get some LP tomorrow to test it. I also broke the regulator loose so that the knob turns now, as it was pretty well stuck in position.

So, this forge CAN weld, you just have to take it really slow and easy, is that right?

By the way, here's the stamps on the anvil, which are mostly obliterated:


It looks like an old one in any case, and it is indeed a mousehole. It's kind of amazing that you could tell from one bad picture of it :D

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A few thoughts to add to those above: I wouild think it wise to replace that regulater, and you need one that is for a forge and is adjustable and not for a bbq. With a new regulator and the jets flowing well most experienced smiths that forge weld could forge weld in that forge. Likely even more could do it if you cut down the opening size like above. Even more could forge weld in a whisper mama or whisper daddy. Both of those have insulated doors to retain heat. Now to you being able to forge weld. You can, but a few things will speed up the learning curve alot. And the most important things is for you to see someoone do it a few times and pay real close attention to wot and how do it. Even better than that would be hands on instruction. However anything you do to learen to weld will be easier and more rewarding if you learn to forge first. When you watch someone forge and you have limited time forging it will be tough to see wot they are doing and how they are working. Find a local chapter of a smithing group or farriers group and join and attend meetings. And continue to read all you can on this site.

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