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I Forge Iron

Mini forge design help

Andrew Golabek

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Hi, I'm designing/building a miniature forge for casting as well as small blacksmithing. It will be a cylinder vertical forge, and have 2 inches of the ceramic wool insulation. So far I've purchased for the build, 2300f ceramic wool, wool rigidizer, and ultrox 500 zircon.

My questions are related to how to put the forge together and what other materials are required. Yes I have read the forges101 thread, just wanted to clear some things up

-after placing the wool, rigidizing, and drying into the forge lining, should I just paint on a mixture of the zircon with epk kaolin clay as a binder? Would that have issues cracking apart? If that's correct, is there anything specific to watch out for ? Thank you!

ill attach some pics of an experimental forge I made with plaster and methanol for entertainment, as well as a cool tube furnace I found in one of the labs at my university.





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Welcome aboard Andrew, glad to have you. If you'll put your general location in the header you might be surprised how many of the Iforge gang live within visiting distance. 

Kaolin won't "fire" in a gas forge so never makes a good binder. ITC-100 is zircoium silicate and kaolin but is a wear finish for industrial forges. Look around for bentonite clay or Veegum. Either will make a good binder and fire at reasonably low temps.

Make a sausage roaster out of that plaster of Paris pretend forge, it'll be more useful and safer.

One last real world bit of wisdom to remember. "A thing made to do everything does nothing Well." 

A vertical cylinder forge is a very effective design for making sure all the fuel and more importantly oxy is consumed before coming in contact with knife blades. It's a common configuration for metal melters for good but very different reasons.

But there's nothing wrong with a multi tasker, I melt small quantities of what I need to cast in my forge. It's just not very efficient and I don't need a melter for as little casting as I do.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Ah okay, I wasn't sure if the mixture of kaolin and zircon would work, because it was based on the itc. Thank you guys for clearing that up, reading the thread it seemed like it was a common solution.

Fortunately I can get bentonite at the pottery supply nearby. 

So just to clarify, I would mix the bentonite and zircon, in about a 30/70 mix, by weight or volume? Then I can paint it onto the rigidized insulation? 


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I did read that, 3-5%. Sorry I just got mixed up with the old ratio from the kaolin mixture. Is it by weight or by volume?

Ayup, getting recipes, ratios, etc. crossed is easy, we all do it. Slow and sure is a better road to success. You  know the whole, "measure twice cut once, discard, take your time and TRY to do it right next time," thing. 

Story of MY life. :rolleyes:

Frosty The Lucky.

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By weight, it's stated in more than one recipe on various sites. I just got off on a ramble and forgot to answer the question. Mixes like mortars are usually made in the field by the shovel full it doesn't work well by weight. Different situation than precision mixes that the densities don't change. Concretes, grouts, mortars, etc. use different types of aggregates depending on the use. For instance silica sand weighs considerably less than rhyolite sand, it'd never come out right by weight. Light weight concrete is often made with pumice and bubble silica to reduce weight and increase insulating quality. 

Good question I just got off on one of my little mind journeys and forgot the expected destination.

Frosty The Lucky.

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