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I Forge Iron

Building a starter forge


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So, I'm brand new to all this and I'd like to build a forge. I've been doing a lot of research into the equipment and techniques involved, and I'd like to have a go at bladesmithing once I have the basics mastered. I'd start of with some knives, and if I get good at them I'll move onto my ultimate goal- making a sword.

Anyway, I'll need a forge to do that! My current plan is to use an oil drum, like a 44 gallon one, cut it in half and put a grill in for the coal to sit on. Obviously I'd need to heat cement it, but the main concern for me is airflow. As I understand, without a lot of assistance, I'm not going to be turning steel yellow. Would you recommend piping the air underneath the coal grill, or in at the side? Would I need it coming in at either side considering the dimensions of an oil drum? Most importantly, what kind of driving force would I need to pump the air? Are we talking a good footpump or hairdryer, or proper blacksmith's bellows or even a compressor? What would you suggest?

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I think you need to read a bit more in the forge section. I think almost everything you asked is in the section already. plus it may clear up anything you haven't asked but have nagging in the back of your head.
remember you can't rush art, knife making is an art.

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Thanks for the fast replies! I'm based in Kent, England. I've been doing a lot of reading and research and I think I am ready to get started! I'm not expecting to produce blades of any quality for a good year or so, but that's the eventual aim!

I think I've got my design pretty much sorted, the main question is airflow though, basically wondering how much I need to give a forge of that size, and the options I have for blowing it. I'll give the forums a good look through to see what others have been doing!


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Since you are starting with a drum, here is some easy stuff for you. The 55 US gallon, 44 Imperial gallon, and 200 liter (or 208 L) drum are nearly identical, and perfectly interchangeable for this purpose.

Please make sure it was a food grade or machine oil drum, and not filled with something toxic. There is an explosion hazard cutting, so be careful or get assistance if you have doubts. A large pair of handheld shears will cut the sheet steel just fine on many grades of drum. Sparks from a cutting wheel can be a problem with flammable substances, reciprocating saws work pretty good too.

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