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Hello all. I am just starting into blacksmithing and am gathering some tings together to give it a go. Yesterday I picked up an awesome Peter Wright #129 for $350. In theese parts thats a very good price. Last week at an auction I saw a 250# no markings anvil go for $1780 and a 200# no name go for $1625. I had $800 and was sure I was going to get one of them so I passed up on tons of great stuff.

Anyhow my question is that my forge will be outside and I live in South Dakota. I wanted to try hammering some steel this winter but I am now thinking that the temps will probably not allow this. It seems to me that when we have a temp of 8 or below and a wind chill on top of that by time I pull the piece from the fire and put it on the anvil it will simply be cooling too fast to work it. I do have a four car garage and will be dedicating a bay to blacksmithing with a gas forge I am not able to do that now.

I do not have the space to build another building on the property to have as a forge so the garage is it. Insurance will not let me do a coal based fire inside the building and we have numerous burining restrictions in the summer months which can last for months. However a propane forge inside the garage seems the best way to keep neighbors and council happy.

So can forging be done outside in frigid conditions and still wind up with good results? Or should I just concentrate on setting up shop indoors with the propane forge and just try to collect some more basics like a leg vise and a heaver work bench along with more reading material.



Dave

Please ignore the spelling. I have had 5 hours sleep in the last 3 days. I work overnight weekends in the largest hospitial in our area.

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It is possible to forge outside, also in winter. The workpieces will cool of faster but not extremely. You can help that by warming up your tools a little bit. Hammer, tongs and also the anvil, this way the heat is not sucked out so fast and it is better for the tools. A good thing would be to shelter the wind of with a few makeshift plywood walls or so. This way the heat of the fire would also be reflected back. But you can also use the wintertime to set your garage up properly and work with the propane forge.

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Hi Daniel,

I have a small coal forge on wheels that I just drag out onto the driveway, about four feet away from the garage. I leave the anvil and tools inside, close to the overhead door. As long as it is not windy, it is quite pleasant to work when it is around 20 or 30 degrees F. If the anvil is too cold, just heat up a large piece of scrap and place it on the anvil for a while to warm the anvil up. Also, a hood on the windward side of the forge would help if it is a bit windy out.

I also have a propane forge about the size of a Whisper Baby (about 20-30,000 BTU) which I use in the garage even when it is below zero F. Make sure that you have sufficient ventilation! I open the overhead door about 18 inches so that the bottom is open, and the top section is also rolled back to create an opening at the top to allow air circulation. Make sure that there is nothing above the propane forge that can overheat.
My old metal overhead door rolls back above the propane forge when I open it all the way, and had about 4 feet clearance from the top of the forge to the door, and it only got a bit warm. When I replaced it with an insulated overhead door, the new door got quite hot - fortunately it was not damaged, but just keep that in mind.

-Don
Edmonton, Alberta

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Keep in mind that a propane forge inside a closed room is a way to die........CO will not give you warnings at all,,you get sick and it goes depends on how much you have in your blood slream as to how bad it will be. .. CO poisoning accumulates.in youir body,,a little bit one day alittle more the next and so on,,and at some point you reach dangerous levels. actually your red blood cells would raher buddy up with CO than they would with O2....Keep that in mind if you fire a gasser and have the door closed. And on top of that if you are a smoker your blood stream already has come CO in it!

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I run my coal forge or the propane forge in the Colorado winter but I usually leave the door ajar. I do want to install a CO detector but I never remember when I am someplace that carries them. I also run a propane salamander type heater.

CO isn't like heavy metals accumulating in the body. It does metabolize out but at a fairly slow rate. IIRC if you are exposed to some CO it is gone within a few days. I once had a mild case and felt OK in a few hours. A friend who was running a propane forge in a closed garage (his wife found him face down about halfway between the forge and the door) had to spend time in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to purge it out of his blood.

The effect may be exacerbated at higher altitudes due to the fact that there is less oxygen in the atmosphere.

Carbonaceously,
George M.

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George, CO detectors cost less than an anvil, propane bottle, or even a bag of coal. If you can't get to a hardware store then buy one off Amazon now. No excuse. Don't want to see you die.

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Thanks for the replies guys. I was getting bummed thinking I would have to wait all winter before I coud try forging. My gargage is a 4 car and I have several windows that give a nice cross breeze when opened. I'm not worried about ventilation but getting a co detector is a good idea. One of my concerns was cracking the anvil from it being cold so heating up some scrap and warming it up is something I will for sure do. It will still be another month or so before I have everything ready to go but Ill post when I have my first day hammering. Till then I have a hugh reading list and I'll keep reading the fourms.

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We used to hang an empty clean paint can off the horn and heel of the 400# anvil and build a scrap wood fire in each *first* thing---no danger of the anvil overheating but it was nice and warm by the time we got the tools, metal and forge ready---used to fight over who got to sit on the warm anvil between heats.

remember to put down a sheet of plywood to stand on and a wind shield can make all the difference---even better if you can make a 3 sided one with a "roof" slanted to bounce the heat back on you.

I agree with the propane CO danger but would like to point out that coal, coke and charcoal *all* put out CO too; but at least coal *warns* *you* that it's smoke is bad to breathe; the other fuels let you mess yourself up bigtime. Pretty much the only *safe* fuel to burn in an enclosed space is electricity---use an induction forge!

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