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Hello everyone, this is my first post on I Forge Iron! Thank you for all the hard work you do both maintaining the site, and responding to questions. It's a relief to a newbie like me to be able to get answers from pros who've been there, rather than guesswork.

 

My question is, are there any gas forges that you would recommend?

 

I don't have any welding experience yet, so I can't make one.

 

I was looking at the Whisper Momma but before I took the plunge, I wanted your input on if there is something better out there, or more suiting, if you're willing.

 

My main focus in blacksmithing will be tool smithing, and general functional blacksmithing rather than artistry/sculpture. Also, I will probably do architectural/artistry work for practice and gifting, but not for public use.

 

What I'd like from a gas forge will probably seem like I'm asking for the moon, but here goes.

 

I'd like a forge that has a clamshell design (not necessary, but seemingly helpful for larger work), or at least a fairly spacious interior that allows for a 7+ inch width, 3+ in height, 5+ in. depth. Basically, enough for small plates (i.e. for coal shovel, smithin' magician), general tools (hammer, tongs) etc.

 

I'd like for the forge to be of a venturi type. I will be working without electricity, so a blown forge and natural gas is a no go.

 

A forge that has enough heat for forgewelding, specifically, hot enough for chain links, basket welds, etc.

 

One that is also safe, reliable, and gas efficient.

 

While not necessary, one that is easy to repair would also be helpful for me.

 

Also, while these don't have to do with picking a forge, they kind of are related safety wise. About how long does it take to cool off once it's shut down?

 

I figured checking hoses, making sure there aren't any leaks, don't tip the propane, stabilize and keep the forge on inflammable materials are all essential practices, but are there any other safety concerns for a gas forge that I should know about? 

 

Any particular size of propane tank that you would recommend, and if it isn't too invasive, the typical cost I'd be looking at?

 

I read a couple articles on iforge, about protecting the refractory with stainless steel or kiln shelving. Are there other methods of protecting the refractory from flux, but can still take the heat?

 

Thanks again for your help and your interest, I appreciate it.

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Diamondback forges will fit the checklist of items that you want, plus I happen to live in the same county as Dennis, and have visited his shop. Heckuva nice guy, and the forges are all handmade by him. He travels a bit, and has had computer problems, so if he does not get back to you by email in a week, call his cell.

 

We had been using one of his forges at school for about five years. The students were never able to do any serious damage to it in use: however, an employee with a forklift did. :o They don't roll and bounce across a concrete floor worth a hoot. So now we have a newer model with the fuel saver valve and damper options, and we love it. Another community college in NC just bought a pallet full for their blacksmith program's new shop. Two pros used one of them at the chapter meeting demo earlier this month, and had no complaints.

 

Takes about two hours to cool to the touch at room temps, the firebricks in the floor hold the heat the longest. Setting it up on a couple of firebricks (or metal legs), on top of a heavy metal table so that air can circulate helps. Danger, Will Robinson!! The floor will get hot enough in use that it will set paint or wood directly underneath on fire!!! It needs a dedicated fire safe stand.

 

Propane use is a subjective thing. You could run thru a BBQ tank in two hours forge welding damascus billets, or go all day working small stock by plugging the other openings, tuning it carefully, shutting the economizer valve every time you take something out, etc.

 

My second choice would be an NC Tool forge. They have been in business selling to the farrier trade for decades, they are reliable and you can get reline kits for them as well.

 

If you are an ABANA member, check their website for a list of vendors who offer discounts. One or two big purchases could pay for membership.

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There was a recent thread where the poster used non welding to build a forge using the Frosty T burner.  Look it up and it will help you build a forge without welding and save a lot of money.  It will also give you some experience in making your own tools.

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I wish to thank John for his recommendations for a friend of mine asked pretty much the same questions on FB yesterday regarding gas forges. I past on your info to her and we'll see which one she gets.

Now I may want one of those fuel saver valves too, I tend to burn almost 3 40lbs bottles a weekend at events.

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If I were to buy a ready made forge, I would get a Chile forge http://www.chileforge.com/.  I have seen several of these in action and they are very impressive.  Everyone that I know that has one is pleased with its performance.  Jerry

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You can buy all the stuff you need to make a forge for cheaper than you can buy a forge.  That opens up the door to modular designs and the like.  As a relatively new smith, I would caution you against trying to come up with a forge that does everything.  Rather, build a paint-can forge for pennies (relatively) and get your hammer time in on smaller projects that will teach you the necessary skills while adding tools to your kit.  Making your own chisels, punches, drifts and the like..... practical practice!

 

I was just given a 3-burner Majestic forge with the side door.  Couldn't recommend it less!  Like most commercially available forges, the burners shoot straight down on the work. the thing is way overbuilt, and it relies on a cast refractory stuff for the insulation.  The result is a sub-optimal design that's heavy, too.

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Forgemaster Blacksmith model is excellent. A new one out there now called the Hypona is good as well. In fact I think if I were in the market for a new gas forge I'd go with the Hypona. It's exactly what you're looking for.

 

One comment I'll make about fuel efficiency. Years ago when I was hanging around diesel trucks a bunch of drivers were talking about fuel economy. I remember one guy saying "You don't send a boy to do a man's job" "When you send a man to do a man's job you have to feed him like a man". "Fuel economy is not an issue when it's necessary to move 40 tons over hill and highway so if you want good mileage go drive a Toyota."

 

I really feel the same way about gas forges. The best ones aren't fuel efficient. Get something that will get your metal hot. Something you can weld in. Propane is cheap and plentiful so fuel use or lack thereof should be pretty low on the priority list.

Best of luck to you.

George

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John, you might want to go check on Dennis. I have been researching propane forges for quite a while, and for my needs, I decided that the Diamondback 2 burner blacksmith model would work best for me. I ordered it over a week ago, and I understand about the Thanksgiving holiday week and such, but an email confirming receipt of the order and maybe a projected ship date would be nice.... Not a peep so far. I hope I made the right choice. Bill

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I use a Diamond back 3 burner.  Have had it for 5 years now and works great.  I would recommend them to anyone looking for a nice gas forge.

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Wow! Thank you very much everyone! I really appreciate the quick response, wasn't expecting it!

 

@John McPherson: Thank you very much for the recommendation, I checked out Diamondback and it was more than what I was looking for. And thank you also for the safety tip, I wouldn't have known that they got that hot. Not that I'd put wood next to red hot metal. :D I appreciate it! Thanks for your help John and the link to diamondback, I overlooked it and would have regretted doing so.

 

@WayneCoe: I don't have any power tools yet, like a drill press. However, when I get the tools, the T burner sounds interesting. A possible replacement for a torch, and a good tool to have around for tempering and riveting, i'm sure. Probably even maintaining heat in a piece.

 

@Jerry: Thank you for the recommendation, it sounds like an excellent quality forge. I don't know if it's wide or open enough to suit my needs though. I'd like to practice scroll work and because I'm pretty new, I'd imagine i'd be lugging the thing back and forth to the forge a few times to get the spirals right. I don't know if I could heat up a WIP spiral without banging the mouth of the forge up. That burner sounds interesting, and that TC-100 seems pretty cool.

 

@Vaughn: Wow! I didn't know you could make a forge out of a paint can. I appreciate your insight on not getting more forge than needed, for now I need something that's good all around until I start getting the tools and equipment needed. I think the 1-2 burner DB forge fits that. However, I'd eventually like to make a small forge for general, rectangular work eventually. I've seen the book by Michael Porter, is it a good resource or would you recommend something else? Thank you for bringing up Majestic forge, I saw it on ebay and was one of my potential choices.

 

@George: That's an interesting looking forge, the Hypona. Is it really as efficient as they say when compared to others, or are they just blowing smoke? I see what you mean as to efficiency though, George. Get something that does the job quickly, and efficiently. The reason why i bring up fuel efficiency, is I'm very new to blacksmithing, and I want to get as much practice in forging as possible. For pros that are on this forum generally wouldn't have that problem (i'd imagine), where they've ironed out the kinks and can do it on the fly, i'm just learning how to. Though gas does seem to have the added benefit of more work, and less fire-play...I guess I'll find out soon enough!

 

@Crashreq: I saw another person on this forum I believe, wait about eight days since he posted. Seems like he had a similar problem, but he got it within a week or two. '?do=embed' frameborder='0' data-embedContent>>

 

@postleg: You've solidified Diamond Back as well. I think that's where i'm headed now, thanks for all the help everyone! Also, I apologize for not finding other gas forge recommendations. I looked at the titles, and did a search but didn't find much. Flipping through the gas forge page and clicking pages at random however, i found many asking for input on gas forges. : Sorry about the repetitive question.

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If you go on ebay, you can buy a quality burner for either $60 or $135, and that includes the hose and regulator - a plug-n-play operation.  Then you pop on over to Wayne Coe's website and order some insulation and refractory.  So far, you're looking at less than $200, not including shipping.

 

The outer shell of the forge can be a soup can, paint can, cookie tin or some chicken wire.  Anything to hold the shape and make it easier to move the forge.  No welding or drilling needed.  Self-tapping screws might come in handy, and sheet metal is easy enough to bend by hand.  

 

The key to remember is that even the biggest and baddest smith has a practical use for a small forge.  Small work, like drawing a taper to make a punch, doesn't need a lot of room and a small forge is quick and easy to light and get to forging.  The only drawback comes when you're wanting to do a scroll, for example, where the width might become an issue. 

 

The Diamondback 1-burner "economy" forge looks like a very good piece of kit for a starting smith.  The single burner is more than enough to heat the entire chamber (and, thus, any metal in the chamber), and the openings are wide enough to get a decent size scroll in and out.  Were it my call (this is the one I almost bought), it's definitely the one I would recommend over any others.  By the time you buy all the parts and assemble a custom model, you'll be right at their asking price.

 

Is one burner enough?  Oh, yea!  Yesterday, I was drawing out the reins on a pair of tongs and used only two of my three burners.  This heated over 8" of 5/8" bar stock, far more than I could possible pound on before it cooled off.  The rest of the forge (one burner's worth) acted like a heat sink.  Since one burner is good for about 350 cubic inches, the real dilemma is in shaping the chamber for a maximum benefit.

 

That's why I recommend building your own and using a kaowool insulating blanket instead of a hard refractory.  Then, you can shape the chamber for your benefit without going all wonky like some of these commercial forges do.

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The engineer who developed these forges tells me that the Swiss Army bought a load of them to use for their Cavalry.

http://www.hypona.com/forgeeng.html

One significant improvement among many is that on this forge there is no electronic igniter. Just a hole for a match. He thought and rightfully so that all those things do is break, their unnecessary and an all around PITA so he dispensed with them.

 

I think this forge will be #1 eventually.

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The hypona forge appears to be just about everything I could ask for in a forge, but I would have to see try one before shelling out that kind of asking price.  Definitely a unique design, though I wish it had more swirl to the flame than it does.

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Megiddoblades - wanted to hop back on and let you know I received my Diamondback 2 burner blacksmith forge today... some observations: packaging = awesome, fit and finish = awesome, simplicity = awesome, ease of setup = awesome. To wrap up my initial impressions - Awesome. I unpacked the forge, bolted on the burners, connected all the fittings and pressure gauge, followed included instructions for lighting and had a beautiful blue flame roaring in approximately fifteen minutes from unboxing to flame. It heated up in just a few minutes and I was getting 3/8 round stock to orange/yellow heat in just a couple minutes... Lit at 5lbs pressure and dropped to a hair over 3lbs while heating 3/8 stock

I have to finish my stand and rearrange a little to set up for gas forge work, but should be beating on glowing steel tomorrow sometime.

John McPherson - I am going to send Dennis another email to let him know I'm happy, but should you see him, please let him know that I'm very pleased and impressed with his craftsmanship (and that I apologize for being a "little" impatient).

Happy Diamondback Forge Owner
Bill

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