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Gas Forge Safety

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  So I am finally going to get to a gas forge. I do use coal, but at the moment gas would be much easier so that I can forge during the weekdays. So I think I am going to make a freon bottle forge based upon the plans from Wayne Coe and on ABANA (let me know if you need links). But my main question is, well should I even build it. I hear all this dangerous stuff about using a gas forge and all the plans say build at your own risk, which kind of scares me. I know the dangers include your eyes, ventilation, and explosions. I am going to be using this outside so ventelation is no big deal. As far as eyes go, what's a good pair of ir protectant glasses for a forge this size? For the explosions, I know that they are causes by faulty welds and too much pressure in the tank. The welds I shouldn't have to worry about since I'm not going to be welding much, only the intake valve for the torch. I will be going to a welder to get this done, but I am also afraid if he does a faulty weld. Also, I know that having a psi attachment on your forge is good to have to watch the pressure. What do you guys recommend to have that goes from your propane tank to your burner as far as valves and what not? This brings me to another thing. I read that you should not keep your propane close to your forge or else you will get a explosion. So my plan of a cart that has the forge on a table and the propane under probobly won't work. How far away do you recommend the propane from the forge? Anything else I should be concerned about? Sorry for the long list of questions but I want to make sure I wont cause any damage to myself in any shape or form. Thank you so much.

Which plans do you recommend?



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13 hours ago, WayneCoeArtistBlacksmith.c said:

Let me know if I can help you,


Thanks Wayne. I think I am going to go with your plans, but am still very fearful of an explosion. I am sure I should be just as fearful using a bbq grill then too. I would continue using coal, but something about it I do not like. Something about gas seems much more appealing. Any tips on how to use the forge in the safest way would be very appreciated. Thanks

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While it's good to be aware of and take precautions about explosions being "Very Fearful" isn't productive. You have to respect it but you can't be afraid of it. It being virtually any dangerous pursuit.

Being safe is about knowing the material and the steps. Where are you going to use the forge? If it isn't enclosed an explosion is a vanishingly small possibility. Set a propane forge up in the basement on the other hand and it becomes a serious possibility.

Propane is heavier than air so it will collect in low places like the basement and even floor drains. Good ground level ventilation can take care of the problem nicely.

A broken line is always a possibility but is a fire hazard rather than an explosion hazard IF you turn the tank valve off when not in use. Don't leave the gas on when you're not using it. Explosion is no longer a problem.

Fires on the other hand are possible so precautions are called for. My first line of defense is line placement: you don't want people tripping over the gas line, you do NOT want it exposed to excessive heat. The heat issue is why my final lines to the burners are copper tubing. My second but no less important line is control, I have a 1/4 turn ball valve right after my regulator on the tank. If a fire occurs I can shut the gas OFF in a split second. I have 1/4 turn ball valves on the manifold feeding the individual burners on my forge but that isn't a safety measure though it can act as one.

That's it, each burner is supplied by copper tubing so it can get as hot as it wants with on danger of melting or burning a hose and causing a leak / fire. The copper runs to a manifold. I have a manifold because there are 4 burners on my shop forge. From the manifold to the tank is rubber hose rated for propane. Rubber here because it is flexible and a bump or something dropped on it won't damage or break it like it would copper. The order of connection, 100lb. tank - regulator - 1/4 turn ball valve - gauge - hose - manifold, etc.  using applicable fittings and adapters.

Two things about using a 100lb. tank. First it doesn't freeze up unless it's COLD in the shop or I'm running two or more burners for a long time. Second it's BIG so folk don't trip over it and it's hard to knock over. Being big and tall enough to be easily visible I can place it where people can't walk into the hose and damage the supply lines.

Okay, that's the rundown of how and why I configure my forge and fuel lines down to where I put the propane tank.

I won't forge in a basement nor would I forge on a floor over or close to a basement. The garage attached to a house with a basement would scare enough to find somewhere else if I had to put up a tent. I'm always looking around with propane's heavier than air properties in mind, call it "pooling properties" for lack of a better term.

Last but far from least is exhaust. Combustion of any kind consumes oxygen so it MUST be replaced in the air you breath it also makes CO2 and CO (Carbon Monoxide) CO is very dangerous it's odorless tasteless and replaces oxygen in your hemoglobin. It bonds much more readilly and securely to hemoglobin than oxygen so you aren't getting oxygen if it's present. It's so hard to flush from your system it's treated with transfusions and hyperbaric chambers.

All that is why you want to get the used air OUT of the shop before you breath much if any and replace it with fresh air. There have been a LOT of posts about proper ventilation so do a little searching and reading before setting up your forge in an enclosed room / building. And NO an open window isn't likely to be enough.

Frosty The Lucky.

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If you will just go by your local HVAC shop they will probably give you a truck load full.  Matter of fact if you tell them you want one they may tell you that they can't sell you one but if you will take a truck load they are free.  They can't take them to the dump, the recycling center or scrap yard.

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People who have propane "explosions" usually do something stupid. You hear about one just about every summer. They go out and decide to light the grill to burn it off so they can cook, so they turn on the cylinder, then the burners, then either get distracted or go look for something to light it with. Mean while the grill fills with gas because the lid is down and when they finally go to light it, they get a big bang. All of which could have easily been avoided. That or they store the grill in the garage and don't shut off the cylinder when done so the garage fills with gas.

I've seen it with gas forges as well at the college on occasion. There really isn't enough volume in the forge for a real "explosion" if they can't get it lit in the first 30 seconds or so. Up side of the forges is that usually they have the door open so they can light it with a piece of burning paper and they just get a big WUFF that startles a few people, though I've seen the doors get blown open a few times with a good solid bang that will have some needing to clean their shorts if they aren't expecting it.

Common sense says have everything ready when you go to light the forge. If it won't light for some reason, or if you get called away for a minute, shut it down, let it air out, then try again in a few minutes.


A 100 lb cylinder might be a bit heavy for you to work with easily. 40 lb ones might be easier to handle. You can occasionally find 2 40 lb cylinders manifolded together for RV trailers to run a fridge or hot water heater. You can also manifold 2 20lb grill cylinders together if need be. Down side of the 20 lb ones is most have the stupid OPV valves in them and won't flow at high volumes, especially if used by themselves. The bigger cylinders don't usually use an OPV valve since they are often used for high volume use like big space heaters etc. If you opt for large cylinders, think about how you plan to get them filled or move them if you need to store the gear other than where it's used.

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20 lb cylinders will work. They just can be a bit finicky at times.  Nice thing about 20lb ones is you can find them almost anywhere dirt cheap to free. In the spring I can usually spot on out on trash day when people get a new gas grill and dump the old one. My township also will take old cylinders, and there's usually one in the bin up by the public works building. Bigger ones are a bit harder to locate and aren't cheap new.

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9 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

When I lived in a city fall was the time when people would junk their grills rather than store them in their limited garage space over the winter.  In the ritzy neighborhoods you could even find brand new propane tanks out at the curb!

Thank you. It is hilarious how you used the word ritzy. My mom and dad were playing scrabble just now and my dad made the word ritzy, and my mom didn't believe it was a word. I got to show them this for evidence!

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