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I Forge Iron

Show me your Forge


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  • 2 weeks later...

Your forge is coming along nicely. What is the table made from? Kinda looks like marble but probably just surface rust. Are you planning to put a border around it to keep the coal from falling off?

BTW Frosty was replying to another poster Olvin (I think). If you will put your location in your profile, you may be surprised how many of the gang are close to you and a lot of answers are location dependent.

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Finished building my solid fuel forge afew weeks ago, thought I would show a photo of it. Using coke, works just fine so far


Forgot to say, the original fire pot I built for the forge was a little shallow, you can see it down to the left of the forge. Welded up a deeper one which works better

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I'm a total newbie, haven't even put hammer to steel yet, but this is my virgin forge.  It hasn't even had a fire in it yet.  I don't have an anvil so I am going to be using the sledge hammer.  

My son and I are taking a class this weekend, then firing this thing up to turn some scrap metal into scrap metal.


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Welcome aboard Steven and son, glad to have you. It's hard to tell from the picture but is that a piece of plate steel under the hammers? If so, mounting it on end will make a serviceable anvil. It'd be better if it were wider than the hammer face but it will work well enough. The sledge hammer will work for an anvil too and be a better fit for the width of the hammer face. Mounting them is the only trick, something solid and the right height. Between knuckle and wrist height is about right, it'll be a little different for everybody and different jobs so don't worry about getting it perfect. 

Set the anvil height for you, your son can stand on something unless he's taller then set it for him. Kids these days. :rolleyes:

You have a good head for improvisation, you'll do well. I can't wait to see your forge with a fire going.

Oh, I'm a Valley boy, grew up in Sylmar and moved to Alaska in the early 70's. Live in THE Valley here, Matanuska Susitna Valley across the Inlet from Anchorage. Not that it makes a difference but Mission Viejo holds some good memories for me.

Frosty The Lucky.

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You will probably have to notch the sides of your bean pot to allow you to pass longer stock threw the center of the fire ball. 

If you burn coal, the pot shape won't mater much, charcoal you will want to use some Adobe mud to form a bowl, or you will go threw fuel like a mad man! The depth depends on how big a fire, a small fire (less air) that will heat up to 1" will only need to be 3-4" deap with coal and 5-6" for charcoal (bottom blast their isn't realy a difrence in deapth). Your mileage will vary, try diferent amounts of air untile you are happy with and you find the center of the fire (just above the white hot, hurt your eyes spot) and notch the sides accordingly. For charcoal, and even for coal you may binifit from a 30% clay/70% sand Adobe (clinker sticks bad to richer clay mixes, and tho 10% clay works it isn't as strong) a bowl about 8" across, or a trench 4"x8" will conserve fuel for charcoal.

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On 10/4/2017 at 1:51 PM, Kevin Olson said:

Whats that outcroping in the center rear of the forge. I love the block walls in your shop. What kind of building is it. Garage, warehouse etc.

Thanks, if you look below the forge you can see that blocks stick out of the wall at that point, from the ground up to the hatch, so I had to build that stainless heat shield at the back of the forge around them. Im not really sure why the wall is designed like that , its not like that on the opposide side of the building. Must be something to do with the hatch. The man that built the shed put the hatch there as he used that part of the shed for storing peat. He would back a truck up to the hatch when the shed was getting full and start filling it from there instead.

More recently my sister used it as a stable for her horse as you can see by the stable door, up until a few years ago. Now I use it as my shop

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I watched the Ironmaking in Africa video. I expected the straw they used would burn out, but my guess is that the resulting voids would provide stress relief during thermal cycling. Does that sound reasonable, or am i off the mark?

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Well, this is mine.

Side blast. Made of loosely piled fire bricks, so I can change and improve the design.

The table has fire bricks top, so in effect, it's also part of the forge.

The rear of the "trough" (covered by 2 bricks) is the coal reservoir.

Must say I"m not pleased with side blast. Bottom would have been better. I might change the arangement when I get off by butt and fabricate a propper horizonal-to-vertical tuyere and grate.


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It's not the side blast, it's the design. If you realy need a long fire ad another tuyere, other wise for general forging, either push the bricks in to form a 4" deap, 4" wide and 8" long trench with either one or two 4-6" walls to pile the fuel against. Not. Slag from coal will stick like glue to brick, classically a large box (8" deep or so) was built and filled with ash and clinker, a bowl was then dug out each morning with the aid of a sprinkle of water and a fire built with yeastedays breeze.  

Bottom blasts are not as easy to reconfigure and the slag blocks the air supply insted if pooling below it, and they are not as easy to switch from coal to charcoal and back.


So looking at your set up, add another brick to each end and 6 bricked to each side and tighten up your set up. Pile the coal 8" above the tuyere. 

The other option is to form a 8" square, 6" deep, tuyer even with the top of the first layer of brick, this will keep the slag and most of the heat away from the brick (melt hard fire brick in my box of dirt) now mound coal up about 4" above that. So from bottom of fire bowl you are a full 12" top of the fuel, the hot spot being 6" from the bottom of the bowl. Adjust the air to get the hotspot at the rifpght spot, to little, to low, to much, to high. You should have a 6" working hot spot now. 

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The class I was planning to take was a bost...sort of, I signed up for the next available opening, it's the first weekend in March.

So, instrad of learning how to do it, my son (Nick) and I just went home and started a fire.

What I learned:

1.) Getting anthracite to start burning is harder than I had expected.

2.) Keeping anthracite burning is harder than I expected.

3.) Putting out an anthracite fire takes longer than I expected.

4.) Unless you have an actual anvil, you probably need a smaller hammer.

I probably spent about of 9 to 12 hours (over three days) working on this hobby so far, most of it was trying to start a fire.

Stuff I still have to get figured out:

I think I had too much air blowing.  I was getting a lot of scale but I don't know how much is "too much" and how much is to be expected.

I was having a hard time getting the steel hot when I was using larger stock.  I could get it good and red, but when it started turning yellow orange it burned.  The sparklers were cool, but I know they're bad.  If I left the stock higher on the fire it wouldn't get hot enough and scaled up, so I think both conditions (sparklers and scale) mean that I had too much air blowing.

I started with some welding rod, then 3/16" metal rod scrap I had.  I actually got some of the welding rod to forge together...shortly before I turned it into a sparkler.  

After I smashed the round stock flat I got a piece of bar scrap, but it was fairly large so it took a lot longer to get hot, and the scale got real thick.  I hit it a bunch but it ws still pretty hard so it didn't move much.  I stopped at that point and tried again a couple of days later with a smaller bar that I got from the big orange box store.  

Here's the forge with fire blazing, and the big orange box store rod before and after.  It really doesn't look like much, but all I was trying to do is make it square, and it's pretty square so...



Frosty - My son is 20, and he's within a quarter of an inch of my height, so once we get a fixed setup I don't have to worry about changing the height.  The piece under the sledge hammer is just stained wood.  It's part of an old TV shelf that was just about the right height to raise the sledge hammer off of the table to put it at the right working height (well, almost).  The setup is not good though, the wicker table lets the sledge bounce.  We took turns with one working the hammer and one holding down the sledge, but it still bounced all over, especially when I hit real hard on the bigger stock.  I have a tree out in front of my house that is getting too big and needs to come out, so I'll probably make an anvil stand with the trunk, and forge a bracket to bold the sledge to it until I can get a real anvil.

Charles - I was thinking about the notch, but I figured I should get a feel for how much I need to cut out before I start cutting.  I used a plant stand to hold the pieces in the fire and it seemed to work fairly well, plus I kept the pot very full of fuel, maybe wasting it, but... I'm using anthracite, but it's expensive here so I might change to charcoal, so I may get an opportunity to use some of your suggestions with clay and sand.

4elements, it's still just scrap, but it was fun to make it.

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I just finished this forge. A replica of the portable forge pvt. John Shields  used on the Lewis and Clark expedition of discovery.

So far have only fired it twice but do like the way it works.  Side blast 2 inch pipe reduced to 1.25 inches.  Body is made out of an old steel barrel.   Fire brick on bottom and sides then fire box shaped with dirt. I will be using it this weekend at the Gathering at Five Medals  pre 1816 historical reenactment.







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  • 6 months later...

Here are some pictures of my coal forge. I know it's a buffalo N.Y forge but not 100% on the age. It has an old champion 400 hand crank on it that someone else messed up, but I did find another 400 that works just fine. Just need to fab up some mounts and legs for it. 

Let me know what you think.

I'm starting off using wood coal for now. I have made up about 10 gallons of coal, not sure how much I would need to make a good pile.





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