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I Forge Iron

Anvil Stands. Make'em nice and clean

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Yup definitely not a "one size fits all" situation; and with such a permanent stand it behooves folks to *know* the correct height for them before doing all that work. (Also, distance to the forge for the types of stuff they do.)    

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I think it's part of the learning process.. 

I didn't start with my anvil that low..  31" for me is about ideal..  I have a 34" inseam.. 

It took me about 8 years to find a hammer handle design I liked..  

My forge is typically a little higher at about waist height..  I've read articles that state the forge and anvil should be about the same height. 

I'm not a fan of people getting locked into an idea with no reason why.. 

My good friend Richard L.. Lowered his anvil after hanging with me and having a few lessons..  He commented on how much faster he forged and how much less fatigued he was after forging. 

He started in 1975..  Primarliy knives..  

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Whereas I find I bend over too much and a low anvil gives me back pain after a session.  However I have a number of anvils at different heights as some tasks go better on a higher or lower anvil.  (I have the anvils I take to teach smithing lined up by my forging area and as students differ in height I try to provide a range of heights for them to try out and use.)

One thing I have noticed is the number of beginners who demand a single answer to things with a wide range of them; also the "one book wonders" who have one source and insist that it must apply to everything/everyone.

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Lol -- The steel trap mind -- rusted shut. I'm stealing that one. :lol:

Thank you all for the encouragement -- I love this stuff.

Yeah, Jen -- it's definitely just the photo -- the whole smithy is just a little 12'x12' hobbit-sized pole barn (glorified shed.) See pic below... (That flu pipe is from the little potbelly stove I have in there for the winter. There are two more sticking up higher off the opposite side now, from the forge.) I had to back up almost to the door to get that photo where you can see the anvil, blower and forge in one shot. I've been slowly building this dream for years... collecting the tools, learning, taking my time, enjoying it. It's finally coming together -- big year. "The fires of Gondor are LIT!" 

That's my first attempt at a (built from scratch) coal forge, behind the anvil. More pics below... When I'm standing at the forge and pull hot steel out of the fire, it's one step to the right and I'm squared up at the anvil. One step to the right of that (out of frame to the left, in the photo) is the post vise, which is mounted to the corner of the workbench, just proud of the surface, so I have a full 360 swing for twists. It's almost a perfect "blacksmith's triangle"... If I ever build another shop, it'll be WAY bigger and the forge/anvil/vise area will be its own space, more fully ideal.

That's a side-draft hood, angled over the firepot. I welded that up out of an old rusty 4'x4' piece of 1/4" plate my brother had. I wanted the flu pipe to be a single 10"-12" pipe, straight up out the roof, but couldn't find any and I stupidly made the roof out of that wobbly galvanized metal roofing, which doesn't work with the typical rigid sheet metal flanges ("collars?") where the chimbly penetrates. I figured I'd be clever and got one of those orange "high heat" silicone collars with the malleable aluminum edging where it meets the roof, so I could squish it around the wobbles in the roofing to match the contours -- and that would've worked -- but then I saw a post about how they catch fire if the chimney gets too hot -- and photos of one in flames, with dire warnings -- yikes. The orange silicone boot is rated for (500F?) -- I forget -- more than you'd usually see on an 'ambient' side-draft setup, 7' above it -- but I couldn't convince myself that it would never reach those temps and the one thing I'm dead set on is ZERO (preventable) fire risk -- so I scrapped that plan. Try to find double-wall stainless flu pipe that's 12" around -- RIDICULOUS money...

I already had a bunch of 6" black woodstove pipe and you can accomplish 12" of overall volume by using two 6" pipes, so I rigged it up with dual exhaust. Not 100% ideal, as it loses some draw going up a few feet, then elbowing out a stainless plate in the wall (via proper double-wall pipe sections) and back vertical again the last six feet or so, outside, but I used curved elbows to reduce drag and tall stacks outside and it draws surprisingly well. The key is to keep the total volume of the stack(s) greater than the opening at the firepot -- as I'm sure you all know -- combined with stack height. * Side-draft suction accomplished. *

The only pics I have of the forge at the moment are from in-progress building in the garage and installation day before I added the chimney pipes, but these should give you better views of that forge. I welded up the firepot out of 1/2" plate -- 10"x12"x5"deep -- also a 100% 'from scratch' creation. It just sets down into the table and can be removed easily -- weighs a ton. I already wish I made the table bigger, but it's such a small space, I thought I had to downsize everything. It works fine -- I just have to add coal more frequently. I'll be making a bigger table, eventually.

The floor was originally all just ~6" of crushed stone on top of endless sand (we sit on 200' of sand, here) but as you can see from the outside photo, there's a long, cold soggy season in late winter when snowmelt soaks the sandy ground and it's really slow to drain because everything's frozen a few feet down. I don't get water in the shop, but the stone floor got all saturated during that 1-2 months and created a bit of a moist atmosphere in there. I don't want things rusting, so I started putting down concrete pavers and it helped tremendously. I have more installed now than the pics show -- buttoned it right up -- dry as toast. All summer and fall, the ground drains beautifully and the paver floor keeps things dry in winter/spring. The exterior is getting a paint job this summer (dark brown) and some home-forged medieval hardware on the door.

The blower is a Champion 400 I got from a nice old gentleman blacksmith from MA I 'met' in here. He had an injury and couldn't smith anymore and saw I was looking for a blower, so he messaged me. It had all its parts and turned nicely -- rusty, but functional. I did a full restoration on it over this past winter and now she's a thing of beauty. Stripped down to bare metal, cleaned out, acetone wipe-down, new paint, re-lubed, made a new handle from hickory and 'gilded' the lettering with a gold Sharpie paint pen for some pop. The fan is painted gold too -- hard to see in the pics. Check out the before-and-after shots... B)

I'm FINALLY up and running -- now just making hammer and tong racks, setting up the bench and finishing touches. Time to make the hammers RING!




2022_Coal forge-Installation.jpg

2022_Coal forge-Installation-side.jpg




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Even in a much bigger shop the "forging area" tends to be about 10' x 10'; the rest is storage, work benches, etc.  Currently my forging area is bimodal with a coal forge and a gas forge that have a shop anvil between them. and a post vise associated with each one.

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That's a good setup. Yeah, I built a gas forge too -- gotta have one. It sits on top of the coal forge when that's not in use, so the fire's in the same spot. I'm super fire-paranoid, being next to woods, so I have loads of fire suppression gear and only run solid fuels that send hot stuff up chimneys when it's either rainy/wet out or snowy/wet/frozen -- which is half the year, here. I also don't want to smoke out the neighbors when they're outside in the summer, even though they're a good acre away, so the gas forge gets used in fair weather, the coal forge in foul. It's clutch to have both!


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4 hours ago, Yanni Rockitz said:

you can accomplish 12" of overall volume by using two 6" pipes,

Sorry to nitpick here, but this is a world wide forum.  Two 6 inch pipes gives you 1/2 the area of a single 12 inch pipe.  I know it sounds counterintuitive, but each 6 inch pipe would provide 28.269 square inches of area for a total of 56.538 square inches when combined.  A single 12 inch diameter pipe provides an area of 113.076 square inches - double the combined 6 inch pipes.

Regardless, it's still an interesting work-around, and if it draws the smoke out like you want it to then it's a good idea.

Looks like a great work space, but it's far too clean at the moment. :)


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6 hours ago, Yanni Rockitz said:

The blower is a Champion 400 I got from a nice old gentleman blacksmith from MA I 'met' in here.

Ok, you got me a little freaked out.. LOL..   I never even thought about putting adjustable feet in the leg holes.. 


As for the pipe you can join the to sections of pipe and create a large oval.  This will increase your CFM drawn up the chimney. 

I designed a forge back in 89 that used an 8" pipe and it worked very well..  Well enough in fact that the smith whom I gave the forge to kept the 8" size until the hood finally rusted out.. 

He moved the forge into his demo trailer and went up to 10" pipe not because it needed to be larger but because he wanted the pipes to lock together and since he owned an old farm had 10" silage tubes.. They had locking collars. 


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Nice design. Lots of thought went into it. I too set my anvil top at 31" and this is knuckle height for me. I also set my anvil stump well into the ground. It never goes anywhere. And, I set my anvil into the stump about as deep as you and the fit is close and tight. I've found that by doing this there is no need for silicone or chains. Even in dry Colorado, the wood swells and its a chore to remove the anvil. I actually chisel out a deeper recess in my stump for my anvil so I can put an inch or so of fine sand in the bottom. This makes leveling my anvil a snap and deadens the sound a bit.

I set my forge so that the top edge is the same height as my anvil. This gives me a "free" stand to support my long pieces when at the anvil and they are above all other irons still in the fire and supported by their own stand. 

I set my triangle up so I am a step and a half from forge to anvil, forge to post vice, and anvil to post vice. The half step is my turn twards the anvil, then a full step to be ready to work. I place my anvil "hammer to the heel". This means when I face my anvil, the hammer hand is on the heel side of my anvil. This gives me a nice flat out of the way area to leave my hammer, and my hand tools that I'm using live on the step by the horn. It also means that when bending iron over the horn, I'm hammering into the mass of the horn and I don't have to waste steps walking around the horn to get into this position. 

I too have always been a small shop guy. 16'x20'. I place my forge in the corner and have a pass thru so longer pieces can be in the fire and the other end is outside, where I have a permanent stand at the same working level as my forge. 

I have a 5'x10' layout table and it is set up the same height as the top edge of my forge as well. If I have irons in the fire and I'm   leveling a long piece on the table, they pass over the hot work and can also use the anvil and forge as a stand under certain circumstances. 

I also join two pieces of 6" pipe to get the flue size I want.

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I like the Buffalo silent 200's the best.. But with that said.. The Champion 400's are extremely nicely made with a great amount of machine work to make them..   

Buffalo on the other hand went simple..   If I had my choice it would be a well tuned Buffalo 200 is a 16" series.. :) 

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Both are great forges. I use my champion 400 for my permanent setup and the Buffalo for my portable rig because it is lighter and easier to move. For what its worth, Frank Turley indicated to me once upon a time that he prefer'd the Buffalo over the Champion.

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