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Ridgewayforge

Wooden Forge *picture heavy*

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Today I want to share with you all the forge that I constructed from scrap lumber, steel fence-posts and wire mesh, all found around my house. The screws were mostly extras that my dad had laying around, and everything was done with minimal tools.
I want to show what CAN be done, and that you don't have to go fancy to make beautiful artwork.
 
First of all, after I first bought my Champion 400 blower and Whirlwind Firepot, I knew I needed a place to put them, so that I could forge efficiently.

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This was my original set up. I did work like this for about 6 or 7 months, which was a real drag. The fuel always fell out of the heap, as you can see from the bricks surrounding the pot.

So, with a little help from my dad, we scrounged some scrap wood and built this table: 

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As you can see, the forge is wood, with a plywood top and adobe/mud topped with firebricks. This was amazing, forging on top of this puppy. Unfortunately, the first forging only lasted a few minutes...

We have smoke! Ignition! Fire!

 

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So, this forge caught fire. The plyboard was only an inch away from a hot firepot, and so it reached critical temperatures.... Back to the drawing board! 

I knew that I was not going back to this rubble pile of a forge. It was just plain inconvenient!

 

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So, I measured, and began to cut the fence posts! 

 

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The fence posts spanned the wood, now devoid of the plywood. Note the T shape of the fence posts: I had to cut a notch to accommodate the posts in each piece of wood.

 

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A test fitting of my firepot! This is the general idea of my wooden forge. There is between 8 and 12 inches from the wood to the firepot in any direction. 

 

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The next step, accomplished many months later, when the snow was long gone:

I covered the whole thing with wire mesh, and doused it with dissolved borax in water. Its a fireproofing thing. 

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The back needed to be cut out, and so I did that and added reinforcements so it didn't cave in. I used old flex tubing for the air pipe. It works great!

 

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This is the underside. I added cut open steel food cans as deflectors to reflect the heat back from the wood. This added layer of insurance is great, it works like a charm.

 

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It is tied with wire to the mesh up top.

 

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The forge, finished for now, and with a bright fire licking coal smoke off those smooth black rocks.

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The fire bricks are movable and temporary. I am not quite done modifying the forge; I would like a steel top rather than the wire mesh, but that will come whenever I can find a filing cabinet or a washing machine shell...

 
 
Here's the whole smithy, under the sprawling elm tree or whatever the poet wrote. I'd rather have a roof.

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After the fire was all raked away. The mesh holds the coal well enough!

 

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A view of the ash dump, held there by wire. Slightly primitive, but its what I've got.

 

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A view of the underside after I raked away the coals.

 

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The blower, the thing that makes it hotttttt!!!

 

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This is how I have my blower mounted:

I have the feet cut off and the tube goes straight int the stump, which has holes drilled to accommodate the piping.

 

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There was enough airflow to keep the coals glowing hot for a little while. Amazing!

 

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Thus, I completed my forge, in all of its glory! Its not DONE, but its getting there. 

I just wanted to share this with everyone, contstructive criticism is appreciated, and I wanted to encourage those who don't have welding experience that they can build a workable forge! 

~Ridgewayforge

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No criticism here.  I applaud your ingenuity and improvising with what is available.  Agreed that a steel top would be better but it is better to be working rather than waiting. 

Forge on!

Ken

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Ridgeway,

In Maine they drained an old stone quarry and on the lowest level they found a, wooden forge. The forge was portable, with handles designed for a two man carry. The quarries used all sorts of tooling that required dressing and repair. The smiths along with their portable forges were the answer, they worked on site. The sand packed wooden framework as cheap and efficient. I don't recall the details on the fire pot. You are certainly heading in the right direction.

Peter

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A few more layers of wire mesh and you could smear clay over it to the level of your fire pot.  No steel plate needed.  That's a much better set up than my first forge!

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Ridgewayforge,

 

  Do you have more t-post? Instead of sheet metal, you could put more posts in and use the firebrick for the top. You might need to grind off the teeth on the one side depending on how you layout the brick. You know what you have on hand so good luck which ever way you go.

 

 

Brian Pierson

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Brian, 

I do have some picket fenceposts, but when I decided to go that route, I ate up a hacksaw blade trying to get through. I guess they are hardened steel, or some kind of rebar-like material. Although, it just occurred to me (I don't know why it didn't before...) that I could heat up the bars and hot cut them to the size. Now I feel foolish!

 

petere76, thanks for some history on that! I feel like wood is an under appreciated resource that we blacksmiths can use in a pinch! Obviously someone thought the same!

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The wooden framework is fantastic and I would encourage anyone needing a forge table to use it  The key is keeping the heat away from the wood, and that's not a problem as long as you don't make the thing too small.

 

Were I you, I'd use the mesh-covered top as a base to lay bricks on.  I've seen dozens of permanent shop forges that have brick tops around the cast iron fire pot.  It works like a charm and you'd still have the benefit of rain draining through because the bricks are just dry-stacked in place.  With a thicker, heavier top, the heat distribution is far better so the chances of the wood being endangered drops to zero.

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Great job, I am planning to build an outdoor forge, with primitive wood log surround, and I want to do just about what you did, I have the firepot, and blower, I plan to put in a stack as well, terra cotta flue surrounded by a wood frame, just have to draw it up and wait for good weather.

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Ridgeway,

 

 First let me thank you for documenting your adventure through pictures. Failures and all. It helps others so much.

 

Second, congratulations on your forge. Through trial and error and hard work you have a forge! Good for you!

 

My only concern would be losing valuable coal through the wire mesh. I agree that another layer or two of wire and some clay or firebricks on top as your table would solve that problem. Since I save and use coal fines they would fall through the mesh.

 

You have done a wonderful job and should be proud. I forged under an oak tree for about a year and a half before I built a smithy made from lumber and tin on the farm. Getting out of the weather allows for a lot more forge time.

 

Keep up the great work.

 

Mark <><

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Mark, 

you're right about the coal falling through. A preliminary movement of the firebricks deepened my firepot, and gave me a much better work surface. I salvaged some 1/8" springs from a couch that I dumped, and am going to try to use that to support the firebricks. I may end up using some other stock as well, and we'll see how it works! Thanks for your input, and the roof over my forge is going to come one day!!!

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