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More stupid questions from a newbie


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Well first a little background on myself...51 year old machinist with a tad bit over 30 years experience, 45 years experience living on a farm fixing anything and everything that has ever broken, quite accomplished with welder, oxy acy torch and plasma cutters, fairly knowledgeable in heat treating and metrology, and a full 51 year's experience of sticking my foot into my mouth, so when a bunch of fellows and I were discussing the TV show "forged in fire" and the comment " if those jokers can do it how tough can it be?" came out of my mouth, well no one was surprised at all. So now I'm off and running building a forge, and after reading a whole lot of stuff on this site I have decided my original plans are all wrong.....But I'm going ahead with them full steam ahead so a couple questions and I already know they are quite silly but I'm asking very seriously.

My plan for my forge centers around a piece of 13" dia 3/8th wall  pipe which is 24 inches long with two inches of cerawool insulation inside it and 2 inch thick doors made out of the same pipe and capped with 3/8 steel plate on each end with 4" X 5" openings for pass though perhaps with a hinged cover that could close down to make this 2" X 5" (yes I know it is way overkill but I'm a big guy that likes big things and I already had this stuff laying in my scrap pile), after reading a lot I have decided I should make a barrier plate of insulation for the middle somewhere for when I only need the first 10 inches or so.

So first question, Can a forge have too much fire in it I am planing on Larry Zoeller's sidearm-burner and after a couple weeks of trying to get ahold of him to buy three I decided it might be faster and a whole lot cheaper just to make them myself and when I saw how cheap the supplies were, well I got a tad bit carried away and now have enough for (6) 3/4 inch burners so am kind of planning on putting them in on 4 inch centers with 3 running down the length at 2 o'clock and two  staggered between them at 10 o'clock  with shut off valves for when the extras are not needed (which I am assuming will be always) my thoughts are for very quick heatup (and just for clarification I am only planning on using 5 of them the sixth one is in case I decide to give the little lady a hot foot someday) am i just being stupid with these plans or does it make sense at all?

Second question is about ITC100 and rigidizer are these the same product? I am guessing not so does a person apply rigidizer fire it all up to cook it hard then apply ITC100? and personal opinion on ITC100 I see a lot of talk that it is the best thing since sliced bread and then just as much talk about cheaper just as good stuff any recommendations?  I'm more than willing to pony up and pay for ITC if you all think it is worth it

Thirdly does the brick floor just lie on top of the insulation or should I put some stand up legs in there for it to rest on?( keep in mind I have lots of that 3/8ths plate to use up)

My plans are to start off making a couple letter openers to get some idea what I'm doing move onto a few knives, maybe a battle axe (they don't need to be pretty) then jump in with both feet and make a sword, all done by christmas 2017 ( I work in the aerospace industry and we are accustomed to long lead times) and just to throw a wrench in it all. they must all be folded (damascus) steel with brownie points if I make a billet large enough to machine a 1911 .45 pistol frame and slide.

If this sounds like a lofty endeavour I could maybe show you the monstrosity I built after watching a few episodes of moonshiners or the 20 gallon brew kettle I built after watching some show on homebrewing on TV, and if the don't take that show Gold Rush off TV soon i'm gonna have to prove there is gold in my back 40... and lets not even think about deadliest catch or I may have to start designing a crabbing boat

Sorry for the length of this, I do welcome any and all comments on my ideas and suggestions will be greatly appreciated, heck they might even get you a crab dinner some day



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Welcome aboard Dave glad to have you. If you scroll down the Iforge opening page you'll find a section about Forges with a subsection about Gas Forges. There I don't know how many pages about building the things. Your questions about how much burner you need is covered, it's a ratio based on chamber volume. I'll save you that bit of figuring, one well tuned 3/4" propane burner will bring 300-350 cu/in to welding heat.

What you're planning for a forge is typical new guy WAY too big. For all practical purposes a person can't forge more than about 6" by hand, if you have a power hammer you can push 10"-12" but it takes some skill to work that much length without it curling into Christmas candy on you.

Everybody makes their first gasser with steel pipe, I still have my first and it's 10"dia. 5/16" wall and is major  overkill . . . I recommend using 10" stainless steel stove pipe for the shell. Two layers of 1" 8lb. 2,600f Kaowool or equivalent ceramic blanket. Coated with a rigidizer and a final coat of flux resistant, preferably IR reflective coating. Known in the kiln and furnace buildig circles as "Kiln Washes" ITC-100 is well known and high quality kiln wash containing about 70% zirconium silicate.

Another good forge to start with is a brick pile forge. It's just a refractory table split 3,000f hard fire brick makes a good deck. then you build the forge chamber the size and shape you need by stacking soft insulating fire brick leaving a gap to poke a burner in.

You might ask why the heck do you want to start out with something so little and simple when you have a nice BIG forge planned already? Simply because you don't know what you want yet, let alone what you really need. The one you have planned will burn about 5-6x the fuel you need to do the work you want. Honest, I've built at least 6 gassers and am building a new one right now.

If you run into trouble building a T burner give me a shout.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Everything Frosty said and more!  My first Gas forge was way to big and took 3 burners to get close to heat and would freeze a bottle off in no time!  The only thing it did well was hook me on forging! My current forge uses one 3/4" Frosty Tee and works great.  My advice would be to start with a smaller single burner forge and learn a bit about tuning YOUR BURNER in YOUR SHOP with YOUR WORK HABITS.  If you decide to go bigger after that you will have a lot more knowledge about what you really want and what you will need to make it.



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I guess I'm the exception to the rule... my first gasser is made from a 10" dia stainless tank from a soda fountain pump. 


To me, this post reads almost like a friendly troll... an attempt at humor along the lines of the parody movies. 


Cranky, if I'm wrong about that, sorry.


2 years from first fire to sword is NOT long lead time. That would be amazingly fast-tracked progression.



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Thanks for the replies Guys, Ken let me assure you i am dead serious about doing this, I am not sure what a Friendly Troll is but can assume it means someone with nothing more planned then wasting a bunch of nice guys time........Taint Me....altho I am quite long winded and tend to lay the humour on quite thick at times, or at least try to, so let me try to be serious. 

First the TV show Forged In Fire was my first true interest in building a forge it is really the damascus steel aspect of it that really gets my attention and one of the very first posts that I read on here had some pictures of a couple damascus 1911 .45's made by the legendary Jesse James. Now don't get me wrong the dude has skills, by good has he got skills, but even bigger then his skill level is his ego. The evening he rolled out his copper bike was the very first time I said " If that joker can do it so can I" and promptly started making my own English Wheel  and practiced with some sheet steel for a few weeks then started on my very own copper tank and oil tank for my bike....looks very cool but kind of sucks to ride on sunny days unless you have a welding helmet on.

So one of the reasons That I wanted such a large forge is that I am quite an accomplished machinist (My ego may rival Jesse's) and firearms is my true hobby. Owning a 5axis Mazak horizontal mill and a Mori Seiki lathe with live tooling as well as a complete manual machine shop in my "hobby" shop which is where I have made a couple titanium AR15's as well as the beloved 1911 .45 as well as the same made from AMS 4640 which is a Nickel Aluminum Bronze Alloy that is fully heat treatable and looks cool as Frosty's winter time temp's and the only way I see to one up myself is go damascus!

Now I freely admit I have never even attempted to fold steel like this. I am quite sure I can accomplish it. My plans are to use my 30 ton shop press fitted with a air over hydraulic jack.... I'm not sure if this will work but it is my plan A if Plan A fails I go to Plan B as soon as I figure out what that is. If it works as I think it will, I think I will want to try to forge two pieces at once.......pressing one while heating the second........

My reasoning for heavy wall pipe is simple.......I also farm and have a farm shop where I do all my dirty work which is where the forge will be located, during the busy seasons of spring summer and fall there is about 100% chance of something big being placed on top of anything not being used that day which I'm afraid would crush a paint can or stove pipe or such so big pipe I think is better.

I have conceded that maybe what I want is two forges lets call the big one "Puff" and a new planned 8" X3/8 walled pipe forge and it's name is "Baby Puff" for blade making.

so back to my questions

(1) Which type burner is better Larry Zoeller's sidearm or frosty's T burner.....as stated I already have the making's for the sidearm but am willing to change my mind if you guys think one is better then the other

(2) using the 300 too 350 cubic inches formula "puff" should do fine with 3 burners.....my question is if 3 is good is 5 better? I figure if all else fails shut two off...if needed turn them on.....I also think that with three pointing in from one side to get a swirl going adding two from the opposite angle will only compound a swirl?

(3) I have a 8" ID 3/8 wall pipe by 13 inches long what would your recommendation be for minimum and maximum length be? I'm thinking maybe 10"

(4) almost forgot soft firebrick and hard firebrick, I'm guessing the stove liner bricks sold at menards or lowes qualify as neither?

Please remember Henry Fords words “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” I can do this but wisdom is just as important as the will

Thanks for your time once again 



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And not to minimize the amount of work and knowledge that I will need to learn to make a sword.......I feel my truly lofty dream would be to go to the iron ore range of minnesota, pickup a couple pails of taconite ore bring it home and MAKE STEEL.....making my own steel for my very own gun would be beyond cool....so cool in fact It would make frosty shiver!

has anyone ever forg welded different types of steel? I would also like to make some damascus consisting of layers of 4140,4640 and titanium I'm thinking it is not possible but I think I might try anyway

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One of the banes of pattern welded steel, especially for a new maker, is inclusions.  Even experts can get these at times.  Needless to say it is a shame to have an inclusion in a knife or sword, but to have one in a gun barrel...  That sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Smelting steel from ore can have similar issues.  As a machinist you have been spoiled by modern steels and large equipment.  With your skills a more approachable goal might be to look into stock removal for your weapon making.  I think one of the experienced knife makers on that Forged in Fire show resorted to stock removal to make his weapon when faced with a sword configuration he was not used to. 

Sword making is significantly more difficult than knife making.  I applaud your enthusiasm, but your timeline is pretty ambitious.  In addition to the perils of forging up a pattern welded blank the size you need for a sword, you need to deal with forging long tapers, accurate bevels, a fuller or two (not required, but I'm sure with your aspirations you will want them as well), grinding or draw filing the bevels and then properly heat treating without warp, corkscrew or sabering.  That doesn't even include all the design work that is required to have a sword (with reasonable weight, tapers, weight distribution, pommel size, center of percussion...) instead of a sword like object as your goal.  Your press will certainly help, but until you learn how to use it effectively it will just be a tool for screwing things up faster.  Pressing one billet while heating the other sure is an efficient way to make pattern welded billets, but I didn't get the idea you were going into production...

That being said, I don't see anything wrong with a forge interior that is 10" long by 8" diameter.  As long as you are willing to "waste" a certain amount of fuel while you attack the learning curve, and put in enough burner to get it to welding heat (that you will need for pattern welded blades) you should be fine.  Strongly recommend you get Jim Hirusiclas (sp?) books and study them.

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, I still have my first and it's 10"dia. 5/16" wall and is major  overkill . . . I recommend using 10" stainless steel stove pipe for the shell.  

Frosty The Lucky.

Okay, Frosty, I"ll bite,


Where do you find a 10" diameter stainless stove pipe?  I can't find one online anywhere. Is this an Alaska thing?

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Cranky, by 'friendly troll', I meant that maybe the post was made in jest by someone just for fun, like a satyrical story rather than in a disruptive intent. 

Wish you luck with this and hope to see pictures, most of the folks on here love pics... even of things that aren't masterpieces. I myself am too much of a beginner to offer expert advice but might chime in with what experience I have garnered. I haven't built or used a sidearm burner, but have built a t-bburner and found it to be super easy to build and tune.

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Probably major overkill, but you can source single wall SS kitchen exhaust duct from numerous manufacturers.  Here is one at $42 (US) for a flanged 2' section:


I used a, safely, cut up helium tank from a balloon animal kit for one of my gas forges and a Harbor Freight compressed air tank (I think it was the 11 gal model, and I got it very cheap because the gage was broken off...) for another.  IMHO, unless you plan on leaving your forge outdoors in the weather (and then you will have plenty of other issues to deal with regarding the insulation), there is no real need to go with a stainless liner.  In fact if you are willing to coat the outside of the unit with furnace cement, and live with a little cracking, you could probably get by with a forge made of chicken wire around the 2" of frax insulation.  The shell is really just there to support the insulation and burner head, and there are a lot of ways to skin that cat.

On the other hand a stainless flare for your burner is a very good idea, unless you are casting the burner flare out of refractory (Mizzo works great for these).  With the chamber length you are looking at a ribbon burner might be a good option, but then a more advanced burner design might be in order.  No detraction on the Zoeller or T-burner designs, but they may not be optimized for the backpressure from the small ports required for the ribbon burner.


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What I like about SS is it's IR reflectivity, it reflects more heat back into the forge than it allows to conduct out. I paid for the fuel, that's MY heat I want it where I put it! :angry:

For most uses though anything that supports the work and won't burn is fine. I've used hardware cloth and Kaowool to demonstrate how unspecial a forge shell has to be. It's been a long time since I used a cylindrical forge though.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Okay now maybe this is something I can sink my teeth into.....12Ga stainless steel sheet 9" wide 36" long rolled into a cylinder would give me a 9 X 11.5" dia if I'm not mistaken (funny math isn't one of my strong points and yet I use trig weekly and don't have a clue how to do it) add in 2 inches of kaowool and a brick on the floor we have 7.5" dia X 9" long minus the brick and space underneath it giving me a volume way under the magic 300 to 350 figure. Feel free to correct my math if you care too. One burner..... a few fire bricks for the ends and we are off and running?

One of the banes of pattern welded steel, especially for a new maker, is inclusions.  Even experts can get these at times.  Needless to say it is a shame to have an inclusion in a knife or sword, but to have one in a gun barrel...  That sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Smelting steel from ore can have similar issues.  As a machinist you have been spoiled by modern steels and large equipment.  With your skills a more approachable goal might be to look into stock removal for your weapon making.  I think one of the experienced knife makers on that Forged in Fire show resorted to stock removal to make his weapon when faced with a sword configuration he was not used to. 

  Pressing one billet while heating the other sure is an efficient way to make pattern welded billets, but I didn't get the idea you were going into production...


I buy all my barrels, at least until such time as I feel I can make one as good and as safe as the pro's.... I maybe ambitious but I ain't overly stupid

Prepare to meet my ego.... with my skills I could make a sword, knife, hatchet along with a letter opener and still not be late for breakfast. I made a knife out of an old file way back when I was still in school and still use it.......why would anyone want to learn a new skill he already knows......if it ain't hard to do is it really worth doing? Everyday should be a learning experience.

I am not going into production.......unless I get good enough at pattern welding in which case who knows the future? 

My enjoyment in these types of things comes from doing what very few other people can do..... I live on a farm started by my Great Grandfather, I lived here with my grandfather until he passed away in 1987 (still convinced that the tractor was a fad I might add)  Both of these men were Farmers, Veterinarians and also did quite a lot of Ferrier work, they came from a time when broken things were not replaced, they were rebuilt and made better and stronger.... I was majorly amazed while at an auction nearby when the auctioneer was stopped while selling some horse tack, saddles, bridles, yokes and such  and the owner of the stuff announced that it was all created by my grandfather and he thought instead of selling it he wanted to give it back to me... seems that frail little old man that I lived with was quite respected and trusted throughout our area.

The last generation of farmers before myself......My uncle belonged to this group....Made most of their own equipment fixed anything they could and even quite a bit of stuff that should have not been able too...every last one of them was blacksmith, vet, mechanic, you name it they did it...... ever hear of Steiger Tractors? the steiger farm is 6 miles from my house and is the very first job I ever had in a machine shop.  the present generation of farmers(mine) don't know how to weld, if the air conditioner in a combine quits working they shut it off till someone can fix it. they grew up with some money and they spend it like it is just paper or something......not me i'm old school , and my kids are as old school as I can make them, they both can drive a team of horses as well as a semi truck..... my daughter and her husband even live in the very same house her great great grandfather built.

If any of you have plans to attend the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in Rolag MN. labor day weekend I will be the guy standing at the blacksmith area asking a ton and a half of questions

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First off, I would like to say sorry for my previous posting. I feel as if I may of come across as thinking I know more then all of you. In no way do I feel this way.... I would not be here if I did not think this was a great source of infomation.

My new plans are centered around a sheet of 36" by 9" stainless steel rolled into a 11" circle..... my main question here would be, is there any advantage to rolling a circle or would an eclipse or oval be more advantageous? If my math skills are correct this would equate to 3.5×3.5×3.1416×9=346cubic feet after adding in 2" of insulation. So according to frosty`s formula I am at the upper zone of the 3/4" burner.

I have researched the frosty T burner on this site quite extensively and what i have not found is instructions on how to build them...what I have found is "those are instructions for the old style" bits and pieces here and there. What I would like to do with Frosty's permission and help is start a new reply to this post with my interperation of what i think his new style will be.... or if my thoughts will work or are any good.....

Thanks for your time.

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Naw, no need to appolizize. (sorry I love a good straight line even if it is a typo)

You're going to fit right in here, you're a strong personality and your first couple posts had some of us thinking you might be a Troll. In the jargon of fora, lists, etc. a "Troll" is someone who thrives on dissent and we've had a couple experiences being sucked in by them. The general wisdom is, "Don't feed the Troll."

For a couple few posts there we weren't sure about you and you picked up on it. It's like getting to know a new person who is loud, full of wild ideas and or such. sometimes the person is just a big personality, sometimes they're jerks. I'm getting the big personality vibe. You may get a lot of, "There the crankster goes again, watch this!" reactions or lack of reaction but it's no thing. Believe me, it's hard to beat the wild and lofty thinkers. So you aim way too high, it's easier to turn an idea down that boost it up sometimes. What the hey we may be WAY to conservative, I'm wrong often enough I'm used to it.

I've been working through editing a new set of directions for my version of the T burner. It turned out my ideas for a redesign didn't work out as any improvement but I have a new build that makes the precision much easier without needing more than moderate shop skills and tools. I'll be getting them up before long now.

I'll reply to your recent post in a quote.

Frosty The Lucky.

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How I want to build my frosty T....

(1) 1×1×3/4 inch T fitting

(2) 3/4 inch by 7 inch pipe fitting

Alrighty then. The T = 1" x 3/4" The first number is the "run" the second is the "chase." In plumbing the run is the main line along the wall and a chase is a drop say for a sink or hose bib. Run = top of the letter T, Chase = shaft. I know, that sounds pendatic but I'm trying to get guys used to the correct terms so they don't have to describe everything at the plumbing supply.

Okay, a 1" x 3/4" T. The tube will be 3/4" and the ratio is 8x the tube dia. or 6" 7" will work but the 8x dia. is the most reliable ratio.

one, 1"x3/4" T

one, 3/4"x6" nipple.

one, 3/4" thread protector. Thread protectors are used to protect the threads on length of plumbing during shipping. They resemble couplers but are much thinner and generally throw away items at plumbing supplies though you may need to convince them you aren't going to use them as couplers. I use them for flares.

The jet for a 3/4" burner I find works best is a 0.035" mig contact tip.

to mount the jet I tap a brass 1/8"MPT x 1/4" flare fitting. The ID is very close to the exact size to tap 1/4"x28. Tweco mig contact tips have a 1/4"x28 male thread to connect to the welding gun. I use a #3 drill bit as a gauge to check the fittings when I buy them.

Be aware though some mig tips are metric thread pitch and others may have a thread I'm not aware of. That's why I just tell people get Tweco mig tips. double check though Tweco may sell other pitches elsewhere.

The trickiest part of building T burners is drilling the T dead center and straight down the tube. the straighter the jet is aligned with the tube the better it works. If I screw the T to the pipe nipple and chuck it up in my lathe I can have it ready to tune in about 10 minutes.

However a drill press will serve nicely with the jig system I came up with in one of those head slapping  why didn't I think of THAT moments.

A 3/4" Floor Flange and a 3/4" close nipple is the jig. Screw the nipple into the Floor Flange and the T onto the nipple. Now you can stand the unit on the drill press table and it's straight and square. Mark and center punch the center of the T. Dead center!

Align the drill 5/16" is the pilot to tap 1/8" FPT. Align it to the center punch mark and clamp the flange to the table. double and triple check to make sure it hasn't shifted. Drill the pilot hole. Loosen the chuck and remove the drill bit without moving the table or T!

Chuck up the 1/8" pipe tap in the drill press. UNPLUG the drill press! You need the grip the chuck key provides so against the prime drill press safety rule you leave the key in the chuck and that's why it's unplugged. Put a drop of oil on the tap lower it against the pilot hole and with GENTLE pressure hand turn the drill and tap the hole.

That is the touchiest process making these things and the best method I know outside of chucking it up in a lathe.

Now carefully tap the brass fitting in the 1/8" MPT end. Screw the mig tip in finger tight, do NOT bent it.

Now screw the brass jet mount into the top of the T. Attach flared 1/4" copper tubing to the fitting and again to the 1/4 turn ball valve coming off your adapter to 1/4" MPT that fits the hose from the pressure gauge and regulator on the propane tank.

That's it, mount the burner in the forge and light it up. It should be burning rich, lots of orange dragon's breath and a long light blue opaque flame. To lean it up, trim the mig tip back about 1/8" at a time and make sure you clean the burr out of the orifice. I like using a torch tip file set. Slowly trim the tip back till you get the mixture you like.

The mig tip will end up well above the center of the air inlets in the T.

And that's the basics of the things. If you have a problem just ask and attach a pic of what the flame looks like. One in the door one from the side so I can see the air fuel ratio.

Frosty The Lucky.

Yeah, the forbidden excrement is one of the joys of doing business with the SOT ware baffoons who aren't trouble shooting the new platform.

We all get forbidden messages, usually after investing time and thought in a carefully crafted reply. One trick is to copy your post before submitting. If it's forbidden, try posting a short one liner message. If that uploads click edit and paste your first post and save. Sometimes that works.

Another work around trick that's been working pretty well if you aren't "Quoting" someone is to write your message then exit the thread. When you return click in the text window and your message will appear, submit it quick. Sometimes that works.

Cursing IPS hasn't helped.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Nice Frosty. Do you have a pict to go with this? I understand 90% of what you typed, but I tend to be visual, and long texts with no visual references don't often equate well for me. I get the T part, it's the tip/ threaded hookup I'm not 100% sure of.

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