1st-Timer Forge Build Fun ( or 'Hey look, still not blowed up')

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Kiln shelves for door plates. Of course!

That would nicely fit and keep the weight down for ease of adjustment. Noted. Plate for now, more shelves added to shopping list for later.

I am still tracking kiln shelves down locally by networking with local potters and eventually with local blacksmiths once everyone returns from holidays.

The potters sourced for me some personal stashes of ITC-100 (yes!) for a good price that I am slowly re-hydrating. I am hoping I can get some used broken shelves from them as well.

There is JUST some room for a burner portal sliding choke plate. Might have to be one made of 2 washers with a diminishing window (when one is rotated).

Once I get the liner fully dried out (I am getting so impatient) and get to do some sustained burns I will play with this idea.

What I googled on 'secondary entrapment' and related combustion tech is humbling and well over my head. I will study it further, but thank you for sharing your understanding. I appreciate the leg up. Some deep waters there.

In an attempt to contribute something back, I stumbled across a reference to a 'Meker-Fisher' burner which reminded me of many of the attributes of ribbon burners discussed on this site, in that it is quieter via a mesh output producing multiple smaller flames. Granted the flame density is higher than the nicely spread out ribbons, but it made me pause.

Here is a quick video showing such a burner output.

While I have seen other burner exit modifications, I discounted their value to my project, thinking they simply aided in mixing and could interfere with flow.

I wonder if a such a mesh would be quieter and survive forge burner application?

I should go check the oven to see if the turkey, in mean forge, is done cooking yet.

Thanks again.




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The more significant feature of a Fisher burner is the full length taper of the tube rather than the screen. Remove the screen and a Fisher burner hardly burns at all, sputters, back fires and generally doesn't work worth spit. The overall design could be reworked to run without the screen or similar decelerator/diffuser. The downside being the faster the flame the shorter time it spends shedding heat in the forge.

It's been a while since I saw one but it used to be a number of guys built burners with "flame holders" and screens were always pretty temporary, sometimes a couple minutes. The most successful IIRC were bundled small dia. 1/16"-(?) tubes. There were burner plates too with various patterns of small holes.

I think not seeing even one example in the last 20+ years says enough about this type diffuser, "flame holder." Of course a new batch of eyes on the idea may come up with something that works well maybe better than anything home built so far.

Frosty The Lucky.

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"Might have to be one made of 2 washers with a diminishing window (when one is rotated).

They don't work on burners, but make a fine idea for regulating secondary air through the burner's port.

Combustion engineering doesn't need to ever be considered over anyone's head. When someone starts using highfalutin language, it's usually because they feel a need to obfuscate, on account of they think the plain facts don't do enough to make them look smart. Math is a language, which has its legitimate uses; but is more often employed for bullying, to make small minds feel big...I find it better to put the cookies on the bottom shelf:)

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re bullying: Nicely put.

re Fisher burners: Understood, moving on.

I have cleaned up the burner a bit.

  • - Added more set screws to exhaust flare to control attachment angle better.
  • - Shortened primary choke sleeve to leave room for secondary choke fittings.
  • - Smoothed out inside of exhaust flare lip to allow better flow.
  • -Slimmed main burner tube to allow better range of position of exhaust flare with intention of allowing some tweaking.

Sorry no pictures of this as a lot of this is not visually very obvious.

I DID get a real good scare when I put everything back together and it ran HORRIBLE! (what have i done?)

Happily, a small adjustment to the mig tip angle of injection brought it all back up to snuff (phew!)

Since I really need to have some sort of floor in place to establish flame angle and front and back door levels I have started building that.

Based on material on hand (I know, thats a trap...but its just an initial step to keep the build going, I will order Alumina shelves and stuff shortly) I have built up a series of refractory cement and thin layers of kaowool compressed to give some rigidity. I am trying for a slightly dished floor to capture borax...we will see.


In the meantime I have been working on the front and back enclosures.

I have established an opening profile based on a slightly smaller opening than the inside of the forge.

I thought that by doing so I could discourage flow from immediately spilling out of forge.

I also wanted straight sided openings to facilitate vertical sliding doors and for ease of welding on the metal sides extending back into the shell.

This is the opening profile I settled on (at least for the back). It is 4 5/8" high by 5" wide.


Pandering to my diminishing patience I built some doors to allow use of the kao-wool for insulation, side lip for sliding in track, and handle area above.

I will play with this design a bit more when I get some kiln shelf material in. I just have to decide how much and how thick before I can order.

Here is what the doors looks like so far.


After doing a quick fitting of the back (which fits relatively snug) and thinking more about the front...maybe I will try for a hinged front door, and just have the back bolt down.

The reason is, I can see needing more frequent front openings for activities like straightening coil spring for cheap spring stock and therefore needing fast access to the full inside diameter.

Right now the front is a much looser fit, so a sliding pivoting action should be workable. I just have to figure out the hinge placement and pivot points.

The challenge is the the door slips over the forge body by 1" leaving 2" left for insulation. This means the pivot point has to be out from the end of the forge body by a fair amount. Hmmmm.

Here is a picture of the back of the forge. You can see the spacers establishing the generous gap all the way around.


Lots to think about while this stupid knee heals.

Stupid post surgery infection.

Stupid antibiotics that disallow yuletide beverages.


Merry Christmas everyone!

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And here is your Xmas Eve update...a quick walk-around video with front and back in place.

Posting this quietly...kids are really trying to get to sleep before Santa gets here...1 hour to go!

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I got a bit more done during the last couple of days.

I have the ends openings framed in, and even added a bit of reinforcement to attempt to minimize warping.

I know, it will happen anyways, but its easy to do while I have it open so why not.

After insulation is added the bracing rods will be covered over and never seen again.



Sliding verticals for the back have been installed and slide on a VERY loose rail but can be fixed with a locking bolt.

I also added four bolts to tighten the rear on, and one thru bolt to lock it on to the body. (see last pic)



It is loose enough that if the tension bolt is released it slams down shut.



With the back end metalwork basically done, I move on to the front hinged door.

These doors are getting heavy and I do not want this torquing the body where the hinges attach so I need to beef up that area a bit.

Here is what I have come up with.



The body post will be welded to the base frame that the forge bottom (and gas manifold) will be attached to.

The second beam is welded to the door and 2 heavy welding hinge bullets are welded to the beams.

This should reinforce the relatively delicate forge body and transfer the hinged doors weight to the base AND help offset/balance weight of the burner sticking out on the right. The base is going to need to be strong and bolted down.

And ...... just ran out of gas despite the efforts of a lovely fortified yule time coffee.

So CLOSE! Arrrrg.

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Hmmmm. Try stepping back and looking at it like someone else was building it. . . Bit over thought don't you think?

The reinforcing gussets in the door are NOT going to reduce warpage, they will increase forces against the face of the ends at 90* to the faces while increasing surface area on the hot side. With the degree of warping I expect I don't think you can make door slides work for long.

Now consider the hoops you're having to negotiate to get hinges to work with the way you've made the ends telescope over the forge body and don't forget how jammed the caps will get when it warps.

I'll reiterate one more time. Forget building the perfect forge, it doesn't exist. the best we can do is make one that works best for what we do the way we do it and it takes years of experience to figure that out. I'll let you know if I come up with something close. I THINK I have a burner I like except when I want localized heat. Oh well that's what a torch is for. Honestly, I've never built a forge I didn't want to improve sometimes before I lit it the first time even.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I hear you Frosty.

The best IS the enemy of the good!

Believe me, there is several points I left alone, until I can get some real use experience on it. (Already know what I would do different for the 2nd one)

I know it will not be perfect, just know its easier to fix while its getting built, if that makes any sense.

Knowing it will not be perfect, I AM hoping to have a very contained propane forge. And I WILL miss some issues, but I can still give it a go.

When I was younger and stupider, I remember staring up into a spotless blue sky with a friend, despondently trying to spot the crossbow bolt we had just fired straight up, because...stupid. Talk about instant hindsight.

Failing that, AND knowing that the winds that high up could push it anywhere before it fell back to earth, I decided that running was a good idea.

Mostly thinking ... 'now I am going to die running feeling stupid and tired, but it was still better than standing still, dying twice as stupidly.'

Hopefully both of these stories provide some entertainment.

ps. One last evening go and....door hinge success!

Just required cutting off spot welds twice til the thing hung straight..sigh.



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I grew up in S. Cal. where cross bows were illegal without special permits, etc. when I was a kid o we all shot bows. We used to go to a large sandy spot in the May Canyon wash. I SWEAR we called it Mac Clay Canyon but Google Earth has to have a better memory than I do.

Anyway, we'd scratch a circle in the sand, stand in the center and fire an arrow as straight up as possible. When we first started doing it we'd all take off running like crazy in loose sand. :wacko: Then someone noticed if you stand there and watch the arrow you can see where it's going to hit and dodge if it gets close. We started out pacing off how far from the shooter's foot prints the arrow landed, as we got better we started drawing circles to make a point and finally the circles were down to 4'-5' dia. and we were shooting for between our foot prints.

So, yeah I can imagine doing that. In our neighborhood the best time was early morning before the wind picked up. I don't know how you'd do it with a cross bow but a recurve is easy. Balance the arrow so it stands straight up on it's own and align the bow with it and lit the string slip gently.

As a late night stunt do NOT try shooting a fire arrow straight up, they drip hot flaming bits!

Okay, I just Googled Das Bunker and frankly I'm glad I don't get out that much, then again I'm old enough to remember when The Twist was shocking. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Pretty odd place that one ... well .. its LA after all :)

I suggested the name due to the solidity of the forge in question that seems to be inspired by a bomb shelter.

PS .. the Twist? Oh my! :blink:

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Forge metalwork is mostly done, all elements have been insulated.

Both ends, doors and sacrificial insulation coatings are still baking hard, in the oven as I type this.

So pics of the forge just before insulating will have to do.



Side and Gas Manifold:



Rear with door in place:


Firing it up revealed a few things.


1. Temperature ramped up good and fast with very little pressure.

2. Gas manifold did not heat up, so is far enough away from heat.

3. Bullet hinges works very smoothly with the heavy door.

4. Simple handle near 3:00 position of front door should stay nice and cool. (first forge project?)

5. 1 inch overlap of front and back stops 90% of hot gases at that joint. Small amount of heat emerges directed back along body of forge maybe an inch.


1. A good amount of heat escapes up behind sliding doors, so handle will have to be redirected forward of the door, out of the path of the 'chimney' like heat exhaust.

2. Rear door now fits VERY tight on forge. Gently tapping it on and off seems to work.

3. Burner quick release needs to be upgraded to heavier duty version like the bottom one, as it proved intermittent.

4. A fine adjust (not the idle adjust) at base of manifold would be much handier than using the tank adjust. This would allow me to keep eyes on forge while adjusting temperature.

5. A fair amount of cement debris is being produced. I wonder if the ITC-100 I am still re-hydrating will eliminate this.

Things to do:

1. Thicken coatings and bake on longer (in progress)

2. Fabricate long stock support surfaces for extensions.

3. Modify top of door slides moving handle forward of chimney effect.

4. Make a simple handle for front door.

5. Apply ITC 100 once cement coating stabilizes.

6. Build proper floor once kiln supplies gets here.

Here is a quick video of forge so far (sans some of the insulation).

As always, I remain thankful of all the help so far, and very interested in feedback.

Happy New Year everyone!


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In your post of Dec 24, first picture, can you explain why the refractory for the floor has plastic wrap under it?

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I was forming the soft removable floor to the bottom of the forge. The plastic wrap was to allow a close fit, that would not stick to the inside of forge surface while it hardened.

After the floor piece stiffened up sufficiently, the plastic wrap was peeled off, as it was preventing the bottom from hardening as fast as the rest of the floor.

Does that make sense?

Once I get access to some alumina kiln shelves I will be redoing the floor, and tossing this one.

It is just a temporary measure.


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In the interests of sharing the bad as well as the good, I present my failed forge door souffle.


And the more I added refractory to seal in the edge, the more it would curl up and pull away.

This effect was less pronounced on the oval shaped ends of the forge, suggesting shape is a factor.

In response the lining was broken to allow it to sit as flat as possible, and a metal lip is welded into place.


This was then sealed in with more refractory. (Partially shown on later picture)

The forge ends vertical plates are trimmed nearly flush to the forge top and extended over the top, to seal better when fully down.

Lifting handles are added to each door, and finally a larger handle to open the front end.






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I'm curious how your sliding door is going to work out.  If I was going to make a sliding door, I would probably try one similar to Penland's.  If you FF to 8:20 in the video, you can see they've rigged up a counterweight balance where one steps on a pedal to lift the loose fitting door up.  I agree with Frosty on this one that your door will succumb to warpage. 


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2 hours ago, Hoenirson said:

I present my failed forge door souffle.




Hey, look it finally "blowed up" :rolleyes:




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Understood. If the doors get stuck I will report it. They are on VERY loosely. I will share that welding the lips on the doors did warp the rear sliding edge a bit and that bound the door up a bit tighter when closing but nothing a couple of wee taps with hammer corrected quick enough. The back door (the first one I built) has tighter tolerances than the quite floppy front slide.

In the meantime this gives me something to do while:

a ) some kiln shelves and supplies come in,

b ) knee gets all healed up. Still hobbling about, but even that amount of activity helps rebuild strength. Plus limping in public is kept to minimum.

Based on what this has taught me so far, I would be tempted to incorporate some holding edges into the oval forge ends as well. First though I want to see it after some actual forging use. That will be a while though. I have been rushing the cement to set and paid a price each time. I am thinking a week to air dry should be better, then oven bake, then some brief firings.

Thanks for the feedback and patience folks. This has been a lot of fun so far, and beats surfing the couch while I heal up.

p.s. When sourcing the hardware for all this, the clerk who was very helpful had a lot of doubts, and assured me he would watch for the newsreport of the nearby explosion, to see when my build was done. That gave me a laugh, thus the title.:D

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Very glad you got rid of the quick release fitting on the gas train.  You would be much better served with use of a true piping union fitting if you need to be able to take a joint apart for service.  I don't believe that typical compressed air quick releases are rated for gas service.

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Good point. Thankfully I found a propane parts supplier in Halifax, that can provide gas rated stuff. I am also hoping to replace the rubber hose with a stainless one.

I have one propane rated one still on the rig for the feed from the tank, and the one that got removed LOOKED the same (doesn't fit any other male connector in my air parts pile) but was not.


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Supplies have arrived!


I received a large Alumina 5/8" kiln shelf sufficient to line a goodly portion of the forge floor, seal off the door ends, and have a wee bit left over.

It was more economical to order a large shelf and cut down, then to order thinner smaller pieces.

Also received was some Alumina Hydrate and some Sodium Silicate. I hope to use this for a couple of things.

-1: stick the floor bits in place

- 2: mix a refractory that doesn't continue to shed ceramic dust. Alternatively a wash that seals the ceramics down better. With the ITC100 coating applied, the dust is still pretty heavy, which makes me think my zirconia coating is at risk as well.

I am thinking, that with these 2 ingredients and perhaps something to minimize shrinking, I can build a better refractory coating than what I have now.

Reviewing iforge refractory discussions again, and keeping in mind that I have restricted refractory purchasing options here in Nova Scotia, here is what I am wondering about.

For point one I found a reference to something potters call 'wadding' and 'kiln wash'.


alumina hydrate - Al(OH)3—... Used primarily for shelf wash and wadding—better adhesion and suspension than aluminum oxide (Al2O3)...

Wadding = Alumina Hydrate (3 parts) + EDK / Kaolin  ( 2 parts)

Kaolin = 46% alumina, 54% silica

Kiln wash = Kaolin + water

The above reference then discusses methods to raise the melting temperature of the wadding


" How much alumina would you need to add to raise the melting point of epk?
According to the diagram, kaolin (46% alumina, 54% silica) melts at 1800 C
(3272 F). For some reason, at this level the curve stalls: You need to raise
the % of alumina above 55% to raise the melting point. "

I found what I believe is the source graph mentioned:


This sure seems like a fine argument to mix up the thickest Alumina Hydrate recipe possible.

Melting temperatures do seem high though, based on anecdotal evidence.



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