The Hatter

Building my first forge

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I'm building my first forge and I sort of want to go for something all-in-one here. The hope is to be able to have a multipurpose system that can use solid fuel or propane injection, have the ability to be both forge and foundry, and also to be utilized for my glass blowing. I think I'm on to something here but I was hoping for some feedback from those more experienced.  

Not pictured I plan to also build a door for the front of refractory brick or cast o lite (or similar material) to close the forge up for smelting.

Things I'm not sure of : 1 the shape of the mobile table in front  2 the necessity of the bottom mounted blower in the forward table 3 is this even feasible... I'm really not sure....

I really appreciate any advice you can give.

IMG_20151112_201505.jpg

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Sketch is unclear, some annotation would probably help.  Typically when you try to make a piece of equipment do everything, you end up with something that does nothing particularly well.

Not sure what you are trying to accomplish here, but the gas forge option configuration looks to be incredibly inefficient (unless you are planning on injecting your propane into a solid fuel system for some kind of extra "boost".  Probably not a good or safe idea).  Size and materials of construction aren't well spelled out, but while a hard fire brick forge will be great for a solid fuel forge, it will be pretty awful for a gas forge. I've never built a foundry, but can't imagine it would be any better for that.  Your solid fuel forge will want a chimney for smoke control at the top.  This will be deadly in terms of energy for a gas forge/glass furnace...  If you go with a side draft hood it will need to be removed and the opening plugged somewhat when converting modes.

As far as glassblowing, speaking as a former professional glass blower who built equipment for several studios, I have no idea what you expect to use this piece of equipment for.  Are you expecting to make it into a sort of combined glass furnace and glory hole?  Gas fired annealer?  Slumping oven?  Glass equipment has different constraints from metal forges/foundries.  For one thing the furnace has to run 24/7, so safety equipment is a must.  From your sketch I expect you haven't got a clue regarding this.  Materials of construction should be able to withstand more constant contact with molten glass (rather than just periodic flux spatters), one of the most corrosive materials known.  You will most likely need a larger propane tank for running glass equipment as well (a couple of 20 gal barbeque tanks won't cut it at all).

The shells for the various types of forges/furnaces are not all that expensive, and it would probably be advisable to build one for each type of usage you are contemplating.  Burner assemblies aren't that much more (unless you are contemplating getting an industrial one, which given the level of your design abilities at this point I would recommend). You certainly might be able to share the burner assembly between different equipment, but again you are looking at compromises that will likely make each system inefficient.

Suggest you do some more research into forge, furnace, and foundry design.  There is a lot of good literature out there (for glass eqt. I recommend Henry Halem's and Dudley Giberson's books), but be careful what you glean from the internet (including this, I guess...:D)

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As my old woodworking teacher liked to say, any device designed to combine multiple functions probably won't do any of them very well.

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OK that is actually helpful. The sketch is rudimentary at best yes, my sketching skills have never been spmething ive worked on. Mostly in this I was wondering at the feasibility of an all in one system. 

Apparently a no go.

I'll come back later with something specifically designed for solid fuels and see what you guys think.

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Closest your going to come to a multi purpose forge is a side blast. It is primarily to forge. Can be modified to heat long stock, modified to form a rudimentary furnace and can be modified to heat a small crucible. As noted it isn't perfect but it is adaptable.

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