Perrin Aybarra

Building a forge out of bricks/cinderblocks

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Hey guys, just wondering, can cinderblocks be made into a suitable forge? If anyone's ever made one, I'd love to see any pictures you have of either it or the construction process. If you've done it before, was there any coating you applied to it so as to not crack the block? As always, any tips, comments, criticisms, ideas, or help are greatly appreciated

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I have seen it done. Personally I would make it so, if a cinderblock were to break it would be easy to replace. In otherwords a loose stack. If I were to coat it, bentonite clay is what I would use. You can find it in bags of unscented basic no frills kitty litter. The only ingredient on the lable will be "clay". That works rather well. The firepot section should be about 6" deep if you are using charcoal and about 3"-4" for coal. Take pictures and update us on your progress. We love pics.

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Thanks, bryan! I did the math and it should be well under $100 US to complete the forge. I'll definitely post some pictures when I'm done with it. Now, I have some other questions. Like, best way to get air to the fire. I've got a blower, just not really any good ideas on how to connect it. And I also read about a coating recipe that is 3 parts sand to 1 part Portland cement.

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Nice handle, Perrin. The last book should be out soon.

Building a forge is a lot different than building a fire pot. The big body that surrounds the fire pot can be made of anything, and I've seen a lot of non-portable forges that are build from cinder blocks and then faced with stone or brick to make them pretty. I'd love to have a shop with such a forge as the center piece!

The part of the forge that holds the fire needs to be made out of something that won't spall or crack because of the heat. Or, is easily repaired or replaced when damaged. If you're looking at making something that isn't going to be moved, and you want to use blocks for the body, investigate a side-draft forge so you don't have to worry about a fire pot.

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do u need the forge portable to move in and out of the garage or do u have a permant spot for it? next how big do u want do u want your forge?

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It's gonna be outside permanently. I want to be able to forge longer pieces eventually. and then there's the blower. I need to make it portable by itself since it'll be outside. any tips on that?

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In this part of the forge forum there are a lot of folks have posted pics of forges they have made and wot they used. It I think is one of the most common things on the site. Has any of that information helped you at all?

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Most of what I see is different than what I plan to do. that reminded me of another thing. My mom kind of wants me to make a forge/firepit combo in the backyard so it'll look nice (as opposed to a pile of cinderblocks) I'm really kind of lost. Any recommendations as to how I would go about doing that?

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I built my forge out of blocks and then "faced" it with bricks, and basically built a steel table so that I could put paver bricks for the table of the forge, but if I could do over, I would just use 1/2" steel plate for the table of the forge.

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Sounds to me like you have a good masonry project to plan out. You don't want to simply stack up a bunch of loose blocks.... so get some mortar mix ready.

The key is research, research, research followed by planning, planning, planning. A side-blast forge would be rather easy as it's mostly just a large block structure with an air supply coming in from the side through a fire-brick or two. Of course, that's just a basic description.... and that's where your research comes in. Adding a fire pit/ring to the end would be easy.

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thats what im doing , make a iron table , run a brick wall up the sides ,then cement the top all the way across the top....

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Go to this link. Instead of using wood for the substructure, use galvanized metal studs and self-tapping screws. Replace the grill with a fire pot or side-blast forge. Decorate the outside with cultured stone or adobe, whatever.

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/intro/0,,20208184,00.html

Here's a good link that shows blocks laid up properly. Not hard to imagine that barbeque being turned into a forge, or having a fire pit on the end.

http://www.yardshare.com/yard_ideas/2010/06/25/outdoor-kitchens-steel-studs-or-concrete-blocks/

IMG_0564_1.JPG

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I built a combo gasser/ coal forge two weeks ago. I use it for demonstrations at a Renaissance Faire so I had to 'hide' the gas forge. I just used abbey stone for the facing blocks. My firepot is on two steel rails in between the block. All my clinker drops through the bottom and there's a small opening where I can shovel it out. My blowers for both forges are hidden underneath, along with my gas burner which comes up from the bottom. For the gasser though there is several inches of refractory, both fibre blanket and cement. Take a look. I have a hood to finish yet to really complete the build.

http://www.iforgeiro...new-demo-forge/

J

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well, I want to connect a blower, but i don't know how I'd go about doing that without making it look a little tacky. would I have to make the blower in a permanent position? I'm thinking I'll put a hole in one of the bricks, then put a pipe in to connect the blower

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And if you spent even ten minutes searching the web, you'd see just how easy it is to connect a blower...... and then disconnect it. This isn't rocket science.

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I'm aware, and I've actually spent hours looking at these things. I'm trying to ask for advice from someone who knows what they're doing as I'm building this in part for my mother. If it was just me, it'd be up and I wouldn't care what it looks like. And I'm case you're wondering, the fact that you posted such a useless response actually took away from any time I may have spent researching. So thanks for nothing.

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would I have to make the blower in a permanent position?
All that research you've done and you still ask about disconnecting and moving a blower?

Perrin, you're over-thinking this. I know it can be a bit intimidating when you don't have the prior experience to go by, but building a block structure is relatively easy. Side-blast forge designs have been around for eons and they work very well. Combining the two isn't difficult. Making the whole thing attractive so your Mom's happy adds a layer to it, but even that's not difficult. You can always give the blocks a good coat of stucco and a few decorative tiles for effect.

Have you drawn a blue-print or rough sketch for what you want? Any dimensions in mind? Dry-staked blocks, in my opinion, look ugly. Properly mortaring said blocks together isn't difficult, but it means you'll have to read up a bit on the basics of masonry. Remember, though, that Stonehenge and the like were built by people that could read and didn't have the internet. If they could do something that grand, surely you can build a forge.

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Yeah, I guess I'm confused cause I don't have the materials yet. Also, I KNOW I commented again right after and apologized for getting aggressive. It was late and I was already kind of frustrated. My bad, man.

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It's cool, Perrin.

You need to get a sheet of paper and draw out what you want the forge to look like. It doesn't have to be fancy, but you need to get your ideas out where you can see them. How tall? Long? Wide? Where's the fire going to sit on the table top?

Your mom wants a firepit, right? Well, why can't you make a simple ring of bricks mortared together (so you learn something about laying brick nice and neat) thats' about 4' in diameter, two courses tall. Then you would have a forge and a fire pit. You mom gets a nice backyard fire pit and you get a place to heat iron.

Here's a video of an African smith working at his "I do this for a living" forge. See how the air is being pumped through that short wall at the back of the pile of charcoal? All you'd have to do is leave a small gap in the lower course of bricks so the air from a blow-dryer could get through. Nothing fancy. Nothing expensive.



Here's a video of a viking style of forge. Note how complicated it is! The air is piped underground to the bottom of a small hole that's filled with coal or charcoal or peat or whatever it is they are burning. What produces the air is irrelevant. You can use a hair dryer and a length of steel pipe, or a half-dozen soup cans end-to-end. Europeans were creating great works of art with forges like this.

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I really do appreciate all of this. I've drawn out some plans and I think I'm going to make a circular pit about 2-3ft high, with a gap in one side. Lay a pipe in, connect it to the blower and run with it. Trial and error always works! well, it usually works.
Do you guys think that blocks meant for retaining walls would be suitable to use in this? My main concern at this point is the "survivability" of the forge. I don't want to finish all of the stone work and end up with a cracked, broken mess

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Two or three feet high? That's not a fire pit, that's a burn barrel!!!
How are you going to work longer stock? Even if you wanted a very large bonfire, a 2' high wall is just plain silly!

Did you even watch those videos I posted? Did you see a 2' high wall around their fire? Have you ever seen a 2' high wall around the campsite fire pits at the national parks?

2 courses of brick, about 6", is all you need. The bricks closest to the fire can be protected from the heat by a wall of dirt (just like you see in the videos!) that you knock back down when you want to have a family event!

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I'm aware, and I've actually spent hours looking at these things. I'm trying to ask for advice from someone who knows what they're doing as I'm building this in part for my mother. If it was just me, it'd be up and I wouldn't care what it looks like. And I'm case you're wondering, the fact that you posted such a useless response actually took away from any time I may have spent researching. So thanks for nothing.


I know this might be of little significance to you, but I found his posts rather informative.

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Vaughn, it'd be filled to a point with something like gravel or some such.
Pulse, perhaps you didn't see that I later apologized and thanked him for his help.

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