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Brake Drum Forge
 
I am relatively new to the Black Smithing community and have been looking for ways to build a simple, cheap (economically) Forge. The design I have decided to use is a Solid Fuel Charcoal Forge. I recently acquired a brake drum and am planning to either sit it or weld it into a sheet of steel, around 3/16 thick.
That is what I plan to do and I would like to know what you guys think and if you have any suggestions please don't hold back, just don't be rude. Thanks!
 
Jakob I.
 
Here is a picture of the drum and 2 RR spikes I found.

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Here's a link to my setup.  I would like to make a side draft hood for it in the future vs. always making sure I'm upwind.  It would also shield sunlight as I use it outdoors.  Other than that it works great, plenty of room to heat something long like a rockbar.  I would suggest getting the largest brake drum you can and line it which helps with fuel efficiency.

 

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I would NOT weld drum into top plate, i would bolt it in.... IF you ever have to change out drum or want to change forge design, bolts come apart easier than welds....

 

Here is how I did it.... Not saying it is a perfect design, but it works well for me and so far there is not much I would change ....

 

 

Dale

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Alright, thanks for the advice. Dale, are there other reasons you shouldn't weld the drum to the plate? I am not planning on changing anything currently and I already have another drum in the works.

Just wondering. Do you think it would work if I just sat it in there without welding or bolting it down?

And also, what's a website that sells blowers, I have been looking and can't find ANY. Apart from old Ebay ones that are going for double the price...

 

By the way, here are some pictures of what I came up with...currently legless ;) :

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As you can see, I added a small hinged flap thingy which I am still debating on whether I should or shouldn't use. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing and i think, if I add it, I will place the hinges on the other side so it doesn't open on the the fire.

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Tire rims are steel, brake drums are usually cast iron: welds to cast will typically shear or tear out if stressed. Having a suddenly two piece forge might make for a bad day. Bolt it together, the holes are already there.

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You don't really need to secure the drum to the table with bolts or welds, cut a hole in the table so the drum rests on the larger outer rim and it's not going to move under anything you're likely to do to it. Then I ram dampened clay to the table top up to the drum to make a level bed. The clay will shield the table from heat so it won't warp or burn if you use a wooden table.

 

Bolt, weld, rivet, etc. the legs on of course.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Awesome, thanks fro the advice. I was wondering though if it would be better to add refractory clay to make it level or leave it as a dip so i have hotter areas or something?

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I should have been clearer: drop the drum into the table so that it is supported by the rim, bolt the ash dump/tuyere into the bottom.

 

Clay and/or paver bricks can be used to line the rest of the pan, if you wish.  Try it without first, especially if you want it to be portable. Cut out a section on both sides of the drum and table in order to do long stock, bolt a swinging section back in for when you want to keep the fuel on the table. The sections can be stair-step notched to be tong rests.

 

Any big farrier or blacksmith supply house should have new blowers: do you want electric or manual? Manual is harder to find here these days, I think only India and China still make them commercially.

 

Blacksmiths Depot, Centaur Forge, Pieh in the US all carry blowers, but the wrong voltage for the rest of the world. In Oz? I dunno, can't find anything online, so your best bet is talking to local farriers and blacksmiths. 

 

The next best thing is a surplus or used fan from an old appliance like a window AC unit, hair dryer, or even from an old car dashboard defroster if you don't mind running off of DC.

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Thanks John for clearing that up for me, I had no Idea what you meant by bolting it in but I get it now. Any suggestions on DIY refractory or should I buy it? I am thinking about an electric blower, just because i am young and would like to figure out how to wiore it up to an OFF/On switch. That may sound lame but I want to see if I can do it...

 

Thanks again guys, Great Ideas!

 

Jakob I.

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The OFF/ON switch can be as simple as a Christmas tree switch that you step on, that's what I did for mine.  Then instead of an air gate I used a hinge to attach it to a pipe flange and change the angle that it blows.  Doing that also changes the resistance which either increases or decreases the intensity that the fan blows.  See the link above for pictures, if you still have questions on my setup PM me.

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Refractory is required in a gas forge, but wasted on a solid fuel forge. You are just trying to even out the heat to keep the table from getting too hot and warping if steel, cracking if cast iron. Do not put water directly in the hearth, sprinkle water on the coal around the edges to slow the fire, or water the coal in the bucket before you add it. Drag the fuel out of the firepot and onto the table to extinguish the coals.

 

Plain old clay, optionally mixed with portland cement, sand, and some sort of binder is all you need. Chopped up sections of natural fibers such as manila binders twine or old rope, sawdust, straw or grass clippings from a mower deck (horse dung was traditional) will all work.

 

This is blacksmithing, not a marshmallow roast. To get an even, soaking heat, the metal is totally surrounded by burning embers that are radiating heat on all sides. The fire must be deep enough to cover the work, with unburnt fuel on the top and sides of the active fire.

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Thanks again John for all the incredible advice. So what you are saying is that if I add a layer of clay to the fire pot then I should leave enough of a gap between the layer and the surface of the table so that I have heat on all sides of the work. Or just not add clay at all. Kinda off topic but will 3/16" steel sheet warp?

 

Thanks to you too Raven. I am loosely basing my design off yours and others I have seen around. I do like your idea of a hinge as an air control. I am still not sure how I will be controlling my airflow. But we will see what I come up with resource wise and what I can accomplish with that in mind.

 

Jakob

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Any steel will warp if uneven heat is applied.

 

Fill the table with brick or clay flush with the top of the firepot, so that you can sweep the fuel in with a tool. Or attach the firepot below the table, which would be more difficult with your set-up.

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Jakob: claying the fire pot isn't necessary at all, it will in fact reduce your fire pot's useful volume so your fires will be much smaller than necessary. Brake drums and rotors are easy to find so they're disposables no worry when they burn out. Just pick up a couple where you found the one you have. Most any auto shop does brake jobs and frankly tosses old drums and rotors that can't be turned true, they're not worth hauling to the scrap yard for smaller operations.

 

By bolting the air supply to the drum simply make a steel disk that covers the lug holes in the drum/rotor, 14 ga is enough but thicker is okay too. Now, drill holes that match a few of the lug holes, don't waste the time, effort and drill edge drilling all of them, a few is plenty.  there you go, that's your bolt flange. Weld the air supply to the bolt flange, hook up the air supply and that's your tuyere.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Nice! Thanks Frosty for that idea, but unfortunately I don't have a welding rig handy, so I might have to drill extra holes through the drum to fit the flange...

 BUTTTTT, we'll see what happens.

 

Jakob

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Instead of welding, cut the hole but leave tabs, bend them up and rivet it together. You can seal it with muffler tape, it's heat cured phenolic resin impregnated fiberglass cloth and will take the heat easilly. Heck, you could probably use muffler tape to stick the pieces together, or make the tuyere even, it's really tough stuff when cured. I wouldn't bet on making the whole tuyere . . . but maybe.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Jakob: claying the fire pot isn't necessary at all, it will in fact reduce your fire pot's useful volume so your fires will be much smaller than necessary. Brake drums and rotors are easy to find so they're disposables no worry when they burn out. Just pick up a couple where you found the one you have. Most any auto shop does brake jobs and frankly tosses old drums and rotors that can't be turned true, they're not worth hauling to the scrap yard for smaller operations.

Interesting! I disagree with Frosty... Now feel free to utterly ignore me cause Frosty knows his stuff, but while I haven't used a brake drum, I've tried to make forges that had flat bottom fire pots and they seem to use more charcoal (as in, less of the fuel is being actively used to heat the stock) as opposed to a tapered fire pot. I'd say to at least give it a try, that is, clay up the bottom corners of the brake drum so that it widens as it goes up...

 

Necessary? No, but I've found that shape to be helpful..

 

For the record, I'm talking only about my own experiences with charcoal, I've never used coal.

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This is what I did.  Made a 2' x 2' square frame from metal 2x4s.  Cut a hole in some floor plate, its cheap.  Used 2" black iron pipe for a tuyere.  And my blast is a cheap, Buckethead shop vac that sits on a 5 ga. bucket.  To control the blast I use a sliding dimmer switch for a lamp.  Total cost was maybe $30.  I can burn steel anytime I feel like it or get distracted for half a tick.  I use coal.

post-9027-0-54849600-1371710182_thumb.jp

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Interesting! I disagree with Frosty... Now feel free to utterly ignore me cause Frosty knows his stuff, but while I haven't used a brake drum, I've tried to make forges that had flat bottom fire pots and they seem to use more charcoal (as in, less of the fuel is being actively used to heat the stock) as opposed to a tapered fire pot. I'd say to at least give it a try, that is, clay up the bottom corners of the brake drum so that it widens as it goes up...

 

Necessary? No, but I've found that shape to be helpful..

 

For the record, I'm talking only about my own experiences with charcoal, I've never used coal.

 

Good point Harris, I WAS thinking coal and charcoal tends to burn everywhere at once. Most of my charcoal experience is in campfires, sometimes with a blast, usually not.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Hey Harris I was actually considering what you said about putting clay in the sides of the pot to taper it down last night and I thought it a stroke of genius, seems I'm not the only one around  ;) . I will also be making my own charcoal with a Charcoal Retort Kiln, any suggestions on how big the charcoal should be when broken down?. I think I might add a blueprint of the Kiln to the section for blueprints.

 

Thanks again guys!

 

Jakob

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I used refractory clay on mine to taper the edges for the fuel efficiency.

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What refractory clay did you use? Was it homemade or prefab? If it was homemade what did you make it out of?

Thanks Raven.

 

Jakob

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I got it from a place that sells bricks.  Pretty sure it was called Heat Stop, I asked them what they recommended.  I made a grog with some crushed firebrick and used it on the sides to taper the firepot.  I used less than half of it.  After reading these posts though looks like there are cheaper alternatives.  I made the forge prior to finding this forum, btw.  I'd tried the cat liter and didn't like the result, decided to bite the bullet and get the refractory as I felt it was needed at the time and just wanted to get started.

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