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Question about 55 forge


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I've been bouncing back and forth between solid and gas and have decided to go with solid. Then it was between the box of dirt and 55 forge. Well I've decided on the 55 forge but had a few questions.

1. The images look like the tuyere is blowing on the fire, is this how it's supposed to work or should it be buried in the coal.

2. It also looks like before you start forging anything you need to build up a layer of ash almost to the tuyere, am I correct in this assumption?

3. Can you forge weld or make Damascus as this is what I hope to get to one day.

I had a general question about learning this trade also. I was considering taking a 2 week class at a tech school for $1000. Is that necessary or will I be able to learn just as well by hammering metal on my own? Really excited to get started, been working on my shop for over a year and almost done, hopefully I'll be hammering soon.

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This is a quick summary of the 55 Forge. More detailed design description and discussion can be found elsewhere on the site.


The original 55 Forge was bottom blast.



The  tuyere was a piece of auto exhaust pipe with 1/4 inch holes to accept 1/4 inch round bar in a X pattern to form a grate. Lots of open room for air to move up and into the bottom of the fire. The fire shown is a little shallow, so if there is a question, just add more fuel.



The next test modification was to put a brake drum into the 55 forge as a fire pot. You can see the cone shape to the ash and the rim of the fire pot. The bricks were added to give the fire more depth for the project at hand.


Ash will build up to the top of the tuyere in the bottom blast in a fire or two. There is a T configuration below the bottom of the forge that is not shown. The T section is close to the bottom of the forge and the down pipe is 12 to 18 inches long (what ever you have on hand).  Clinker is not really a problem due to the size of the tuyere. Just let the fire idle for a minute or two and the clinker will solid up and can be hooked out. Ash will at times fill the down pipe and need cleaned out.

I have run this forge using coal dust or breeze. Once the fuel starts to coke ( a couple of minutes into the fire ) there is very little fuel that falls into the down pipe.


The next modification was to make the 55 Forge a side blast forge. Just cut a slice in the side of the wall and add an air pipe. The depth of the slice was to the top of a house brick laid on its side. It was available.


I like this design as it is so simple to build and works. That is an aluminum clothes dryer vent pipe being used to transfer from the blower to the forge. With the side blast version, the ash and any clinker builds up under the fire. The fire shown is a little shallow, so if there is a question, just add more fuel.


On either 55 forge, the cut edges of the metal as they are sharp. You can roll them over, or cut a 2 inch piece of metal from the parent drum, fold it in half long ways, and place it over the cut edge of the metal pan. 


The 55 forge was developed so that any one in any third world country could have a forge with little or no cost.

The forge runs on solid fuel, coal, coke, wood, charcoal, lumbar, pallets, etc. As has been stated many times before, Fuel does not make the fire hot, Air makes the fire hot.  If there is a question about how hot, then add more fuel and more air.  It can and has reached welding heat. It has also melted the metal if you do not pay attention to what your doing. ( Do not ask how I know this as I was not paying attention.)

The 55 Forge is a great design that is simple and works. It is easily modified to adjust the size of the fire pot, the depth of the fire pot, different tuyere configurations, and the list goes on and on. Folks thought a brake drum was needed, so I tried both a brake drum and rotor. Each has advantages and disadvantages and in the end were not required. It simply adds a level of complexity to the system and overcomplicates simple. The fun part of the 55 Forge is make one, use it, modify it as you wish. When you finish there is another 55 Forge on the other end of the drum as a spare.

The label on a drum is NOT accurate, it only means that is what the drum contained just before the label was applied. I found a empty drum at a auto repair shop. The label said 5W30 motor oil with a brand I immediately recognized. Somehow the top of the drum was hooved or domed a bit. When I removed the bung plug from the bung hole there was release of pressure and an overpowering aroma of gasoline and other very volatile materials. I ask the shop manager about the drum and he said "Oh that was the one they used for racing fuel last weekend."  

ALWAYS choose a drum that you can pronounce what it contained before you brought it home. NEVER use anything that throws off heat or sparks when you open a closed container or drum. If in doubt, have someone else cut the drum in half while you go get a burger and fries for the both of you for lunch.

The 55 Forge is just a way to get you started quickly, so you can play in the fire while you research and plan on what your second forge design will look like.


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Hawgdirt, I am a hubbyist and I use you tube a lot,  and this fourm as for a class..... that's up to you... what are you going to get for your $1,000.00. That money you could put to ward other tools that you can not make. 1000 years ago there was no class... they just built a fire and got with it. Some did better than others.. same as today. Get your forge up and running heat some metal bend and make something and then think about that class..... you might find that the class is not what you need. Just my two cents. 

Tong rack 2.JPG

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28 minutes ago, Thats Hot... said:

1000 years ago there was no class... they just built a fire and got with it.

Well, not quite. 1000 years ago, there was the apprentice system and the guild system, so if you wanted to be a blacksmith, your best bet was to have a blacksmith for a father or have your parents hand you over to one when you were eight.

Hawgdirt, I'd like to modify what Thats Hot... says: you can indeed learn a lot on your own and from youtube (IFI has a page with a collection of links that we recommend), but there's no substitute for hands-on learning from someone who knows more than you do. If you're not yet ready to invest $1K in a two-week class, see if there are any local hammer-ins or open forges in your area. Get in touch with your local ABANA affiliate and try to find someone who can show you some really basic stuff for an afternoon. A two-week course is a big investment of time and money, and a weekend class or two might be a more affordable way to get started. It all depends on what resources you have and how you want to invest them.

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1. You mostly just need air to get to the bottom of the fire. The tuyere can be underneath or above as long as that applies. You don't want it to clog with ash though, or melt away. I've always found a bottom feeding tuyere to be a little easier to use than a sideblast, but the sideblast is an easy build. In a bottom blast, a cone of ash and fines on the sides can be useful for fire control and for limiting how much fuel you use.

2. You absolutely can forge weld and make damascus in these fires...when you get good enough at forge welding. Easiest way is to get someone experienced to teach you.

3. The class...as a stark beginner at a tech school? I dunno. If you have the inclination and the money, it can't hurt. But if it's just picking up the basics that you're after, I'd recommend a lot of good reading, and looking for experienced people and if at all possible, joining a group. You can learn a lot in a couple of weeks, but a lot of it takes time and practice.

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Locate a blacksmithing group in your area and go to the meetings. I do not know what is close to you but this is a start.

Go to the meetings. Meet the folks with the knowledge you seek. Take a notebook and several pencils, camera etc. You will learn more in a day than you can imagine.


 Gulf Coast Blacksmiths  GCBA holds regular meetings on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Louisiana Metalsmiths Association

2017 Banging on the Bayou XXIII A 2 day conference March 11th & 12th 2017- just go.

Alabama Forge Council Batson Blade Conference 7-9 April 2017

Southeastern Blacksmiths Association



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For the other point of view, I like classes, but for me it is my favorite form of vacation.  I'd rather spend a week in a class, sweating away and learning new smithing techniques, than the same week in Vegas, lying on a beach somewhere, or off on a cruise.  Each to their own, of course, and a lot depends on your finances. 

Joining a local group is typically a lot cheaper, and you can set yourself up to forge at home for a nominal investment.  Just remember that the experienced smiths in your local group are not being paid to instruct you, and though they are usually very generous with their time and advise, a good show of respect, enthusiasm and careful attention (not to mention a periodic box of doughnuts) will go a long way.

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Just now, Latticino said:

For the other point of view, I like classes, but for me it is my favorite form of vacation.

I once had to stay home for a week I was supposed to be away on vacation (keeping an eye on my mother-in-law, who was in the hospital). Since I already had the time off from work and nothing planned, I ended up in the forge for an average of about eight hours a day for nine days. Even without anyone there to instruct me, I learned an incredible amount. Nothing teaches like experience and sustained effort over time.

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Yes, I believe that 2 week course is put on by the abs, it's at the texarkana college.  It looks like a great class, they say at the end of it you should be able to make a blade well enough to pass the journeyman test. I found that a little strange, go from 0 to journeyman blacksmith in 2 weeks? I dunno about that. 

This question is completely off subject but how do you search the forums correctly.  For example I wanted to look up belt grinders so I searched and it gave me every post that had ever been written that had the words belt and grinder in it.  I was wondering was there a way to search a little more precise.  Like if I search for belt grinder I want the threads that have to do with belt grinder not just every post with the words belt grinder.

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Not quite. The ABS class offers the information and instruction but it's up to the student to achieve the goal. Just because you CAN advance that quickly doesn't mean you will. You can guarantee opportunity, not results. 

Regardless, it'd be a terrific opportunity I'd jump on it if I could. Even if I weren't interested in making blades, there are no useless skills sets and bladesmithing is loaded with useful skills.

Frosty The Lucky.

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2 hours ago, Hawgdirt said:

This question is completely off subject but how do you search the forums correctly.  For example I wanted to look up belt grinders so I searched and it gave me every post that had ever been written that had the words belt and grinder in it.

It's best to use your favorite web search (Google or equivalent) and add "iforgeiron" to the phrase you are looking for. So in your case you would want something like "iforgeiron belt grinder" to have a better shot at finding what you want.  The search feature on this site is not the best as you have noticed, so we find ways to work around it.

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