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I Forge Iron

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The blowers often are just clogged with debris like: wasp, mouse, bird, etc. nests plus all the junk kids can fit in to hear grind when they turn the crank. A pressure washer and tilting it at different angles can do wonders. Remember, only a few drops of oil when you start a session if you try to fill it to the "level" plug it'll make exactly THAT size puddle of oil on the floor when it leaks out. Go ahead, ask me how I know. :rolleyes:

A simple bar grate works very well the original grates are okay but nothing special. 

Can we see a pic of the bottom, the tuyere may just be  mounted wrong, it's hard to tell from here.

The pan looks like sheet steel rather than cast iron. If so you can weld patches and replacement pieces on if you grind the weld points clean. Repairing their tools and equipment with the tools available to them is as traditional as it gets. 

They're nice pan forges, I like them a lot better than my rivet forge. You have room for extra fuel, stock and tools without putting them in the fire. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 2 years later...

Finally built myself what I would consider a proper coal forge. Quite the upgrade from my little sideblast that has served me well enough for over a year now. Here's a before and after.

IMG_2020-02-15_16-39-30.thumb.jpeg.6c113097d3d20ffa3bcb502c1944afc3.jpeg IMG_2020-06-09_18-14-41.thumb.jpeg.68bf9822a7f117b09a7cdd7a7514361a.jpeg

For anyone interested, here is everything I purchased for the build. Total on everything was ~$75-$80.

  • 20', 1.25" sq. tube [legs]
  • 20', 1.5" x 1.5" x 0.125" angle iron (all was not used) [chimney/table/leg crossbeams]
  • 20', 2" x 0.125" flat stock (all was not used) [chimney/table/hinge]
  • ~ 6', 0.75" square tube (not sure if it was 0.75", they were just picked from the surplus section where my steel supply sells their drops by weight) [tong rack/table cross beams]
  • 3.75": x 5" x 0.25" plate [bottom chimney cover]
  • 8" x 3/8" sq. stock [lever arm]
  • 0.75" x 1.5" x 2" bar stock [counterweight]
  • 5.5" cast iron grate

The chimney was welded with 4, 2' lengths of both the angle iron and 1/8th inch flat stock, lap welded with 0.75" of overlap for a total chimney size of 3.5" sq. 4 beads about 4" long at each seam rather than up the whole length (mainly to conserve wire). Four pieces of angle iron were cut and welded around the edges of one end of the chimney.

Then the table frame was tacked together and the crossbeams/front rack were added. Followed by the legs. With everything tacked, final welds were made so things didn't get all twisted on me. I didn't take many pictures other than milestones, so here're a few.

IMG_2020-06-05_17-31-57.thumb.jpeg.80e64e51b7d766503b1be48cd3cf214f.jpeg IMG_2020-06-08_19-04-58.thumb.jpeg.eba89f1d6e7965d91f732ae792e04d8f.jpeg

Holes were drilled in the angle iron on the chimney edges and threads for 3/8-16 cap head screws were drilled and tapped in the bottom face of the brake rotor hat (avoiding the lug holes). I used 6 cap screws. Lug holes were covered with some small scrap pieces I had laying around from previous steps, welded in place. I decided to bolt in the rotor rather than weld it so it can be replaced by either a new rotor or a different firepot in general down the line. Also, so I can take the whole thing apart if need be for transportation.


Tabletop was filled in with the flat stock, flush with rotor face. A slight inward curve was added.


One end of 18", 2.5" diameter exhaust pipe was cut at ~45 degrees and used to trace the outline for the hole to be cut in the chimney. Hole was hacked out with an angle grinder so the exhaust pipe could be welded in place with the end of the pipe flush with the inside surface of the chimney.


Made the counter-weighted lever cover for the bottom face of the chimney, then forged out the hinge (my first to date). Welded all that in place. Somewhat by accident, but in the words of Mr Ross, "We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents" the hinge is nice and smooth up until about 60 degrees, then it sticks. Which is nice because I can leave it open if I want a reduced airflow to coals, but if I tap it with my foot, it drops shut thanks to the counterweight.

Added an elbow to gain easier access to the hairdryer, some coal and we were good to go!


After getting to use it for a few hours yesterday there are a few adjustments I'd like to make, mostly firepot geometry/volume and possibly the addition of another tong rack that drops down in a long U below the edge of the table (so everything stored there is further from the heat), so it will be an ongoing project. However, I am very happy with how it turned out. It took 4-5 days, a bunch of cutoff wheels and some thinking, but considering what I spent and how much better this forge is than my last ones, it's not even in the same ballpark. Almost feels like the real deal.

I'm interested to hear your thoughts/suggestions/critiques on the design. I know the (rear) brake rotor has some downsides, and I may have gone a little steep with the angle on the air inlet, but so far (one day haha) so good.

P.S. Sorry about the messy shop, in my excitement to get it going i didn't really clean up behind me. We've all been there. 

P.P.S. If you're a new guy or looking to get started and all this seems overkill, my previous forge was an upside down Weber grill lid, with a slot cut out for 1" black steel pipe, a couple valves to regulate the air, some fittings, and some firebrick. All that stuff is either free or pretty cheap (except the pipe and fittings, but ask around. Some people have those sitting somewhere in a dusty box, I got mine for free). I got this far with just that and decided it was time or an upgrade. Remember, a forge is just a thing that holds fuel and blows air (and preferably doesn't burn itself up in the process). A pretty forge wont make you a better smith, but time at the anvil, improvised or otherwise, problem solving along the way certainly will.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading haha 

Edited by Frazer
Fixed the random triple post that happened. Resized a photo
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  • 2 months later...


How are you liking your newly made coal forge these days? BTW, it looks great to me. Once I put a roof over my slab, I might try my hand at a proper forge as well.

I must say though, I'm enjoying my small charcoal forge with controlled dc motor blower.




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Taylor, definitely worth the time and small investment. I find I can do much more than I could before and have been working much more efficiently now that I am able to heat larger stock much faster. Plus I spend less time maintaining the fire and fighting to hit welding temperatures. 

I have made a few incremental improvements over time. First, I reduced the tuyere by dropping a 2" black iron flange at the bottom of the rotor. I reshaped the fire pot using a mixture of clay, crushed firebrick, ash, and a bit of sand to reduce the diameter and depth and eliminate the 90 degree shoulder at the bottom of the (rotor) hat. It now has more of a bowl shape rather than being cylindrical. I welded on a rack made of 3/4" black iron pipes & fittings for my tongs below the surface of the table (a long U spanning the full length). Now I use the upper rack for tongs I'm using (the hot ones) and use the lower one for the rest. I also added a piece of 2"x1/8" plate behind the fire pot, long enough to reduce "spillage' of the coal off the back of the table, but not so long that I can't put long pieces in at a diagonal.

Overall I'd give it two thumbs up.

My old forge (the weber grill lid) now serves as a cover for the new forge

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  • 1 month later...

Nothing fancy but it's my first forge. Brake drum design I found on the Tube of You. Plan on buying a steel cart from Harbor Freight to turn into a table around the fire pot. I am very new to smithing but I really enjoy it. I started off with anthracite pea coal, but that burned too quickly and didn't allow good air flow. Switched to anthracite nut coal and it works much better with less clinker.

My anvil is from Amazon, it's the 66lb. one from Happy Buy or something. It was discounted at the time and I had a giftcard so I went ahead and took a chance. For me as a beginner it works fine, though I noticed that it has some rough edges both figuratively and literally. Nothing a little elbow grease won't fix. I plan to eventually buy a larger "real" anvil when the price is right and my wallet isn't so thin. I would love to find a used one for a good price but so far in my area they are rare and tend to sell for as much as or more than a new one. If anyone has any suggestions as to what's best I am all ears.

I will probably update this post as I upgrade. Thanks for any input!




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