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C.D. Mitchell

Building forges for students

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As I mentioned in my introduction, I'm a high school industrial arts teacher in Dayton, OH. In January I'll be teaching an introductory welding and blacksmithing course. I'm currently in the process of building forges for the students to use and would love some input.

So far I've built a single burner square body forge with a 6x6x12" chamber insulated with two inches of duraboard all around. It runs off either a 3/4" or 1" mongo style burner depending on how hot I want to get. I've never welded in it...the 3/4 gets pretty hot, the 1" will probably bring it to welding temps but I've never tried it.

The second forge I have built is of my own design. It's a 7" diameter round body insulate with 2" of kaowool and a stainless steel liner. The stainless liner is 1/8" by 3.25" D and creates an indestructable forge liner. The main purpose for building the forge with a liner like this is because it will be used by students who have never forged before. Needless to say, I don't think an unarmored forge liner would stand up to student use. I love the stainless liner and so far it has held up great. I designed the forge to allow the stainless liner to expand and contract as needed, sort of a free floating design. This forge also runs off of a 3/4" mongo burner and gets very hot very quick without much gas at all. The chamber is 3.25" D and 9" long, which is very small but perfect for making chisels, tongs, tools, and just about anything else that will fit. I hope to forge a hammer head soon, so we'll see how it handles 2" round and square stock.

With all that being said, I'm looking to build atleast one or two more forges. I've only had experience with atmospheric burners, but I want to build forges that will be best for student use. Each forge will have 3 students working out of it in a rotation.

So what are your thoughts? Should I go for blown burners? Stick to atmospheric? What do you think would be the ideal size and configuration for a big class of beginners?

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Here's a couple of photos of my carts I built for teaching a special class for at risk kids. We could handle 6 kids at a time, 3 carts two forges each. Originally I set them up to work on opposite corners as I had a vise mounted on one corner. I use these in my shop as well, without the vises mounted to the carts and working from the same side of the cart. Roll them out when necessary, put against the wall when not in use.
2 of the carts get used a benches, normally removing the forge. A bit more involved. I will send you my forge building article.

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Sofa, less than an hour away from you, has had *several* gas forge building workshops, including one where we built Peot Forges bossed by Hans Peot himself! I strongly suggest you get in touch with them and try out the various ones they have built to see which suits you the best.

With students I would probably go with a blown burner forge.

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