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I Forge Iron

First fire and difficulties


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So finally stopped messing around and got my coal forge setup. This is the basic design. I used my old brake rotors to create a dead air space between the non fire bricks. All black pipe was used in the construction, except where PVC is noted. Still working on a baffle system for the top vent hole, but figured it would work for now. 



The grate is the end of an long lost hand meat grinder. Was lost in the move but this little guy stuck around. More for the cause I suppose. I though for a little bit about sealing up the gaps, but decided to leave them for now. Would like expert advice on this if at all possible. Have a cheap mig welder, ~$90, with low and high settings. No gas, just flux core wire. Few tacs and I felt ready to go. 


For the underside I placed a number 10 can filled with ~6in on water under the open ash dump. Plan on setting up a full dump system in the future.


The coal I'm using came from a ebay purchase. 25lbs for $25, Shudder. I now can get anthracite from Tractor Supply for $0.15/ lbs. I hesitantly call this Nut sized coal? Mini candy bar for reference. 


Blower source is a leaf blower. I find out later that this may be too much for this, but I adjust the best I can. 


I start a small fire according to information found here. Get some coals, build up and pile and start the blower. 


Initially there is a lot of smoke, which I knew to expect, from the new coal. It gradually subsided, however I notice that the whole forge needed to get smoke off, took about 20 min all told. No one called the fire department so all to the good. I shortly noted a small flaw in my forge placement. The exposed beams in the background, while not getting hot, did cause me concern. I took the precaution and placed a long piece of metal on the wall. I furthermore placed a piece on the top, attempting to make a temporary hood, until a better solution could be made. 


I ran the forge for another 30 min or so. Noted good white heat in the heart, and took off the air to let the forge die down. I then, after all color had disapeared, turned the pot onto a steel bottom of a air conditioner and poured water over the coal. Just want to minimize any chance of a problem. 

Things I need to do and questions. 

1. Make an adequate vent system

2. Make pan to fit over forge for holding additional coal/ work.

3. Find more appropriate source of air to feed forge. 


1. I have a metal pan from a disassembled air conditioner. Its decent weight and I want to use as my pan, but i'm concerned about possible galvanized steel. Have not preformed a magnet test, but did take off a layer of paint and left outside to see if it would rust. If so, ill use it as my pan for the top of forge. 

I welcome any questions or comments. You guys are a font of info and I would be forever grateful.


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One concern is that stacked on bricks like that it might be prone to fall over when maintaining the fire. A second concern is that the drum sides might be too tall and you won't be able to get stock into the sweet spot. The other things you mentioned you'll be addressing like a proper hood for ventilation and making a table for extra fuel. That blower is too powerful but if you can stand the noise of it then it can be made to work. 

As far as coal size, the coal I get is in many sizes and works fine. Larger lumps can be easily broken down when cooked by the fire a bit. 


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Remove the plastic T and use a 3 inch expandable metal aluminum clothes dryer vent. Disconnect the blower from the air pipe and leave a gap between the two. For more air, aim closer, for less air, then not so close.

Build a better stand for the forge. First time it tips over, you will understand why.

24 inch wide metal can be rolled into a 8 inch diameter circle.Stick the chimney to the outside. No one ever said chimneys had to be round.

If that is painted or powder coated roofing, be cautious of any fumes from the heat.

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Thank you all for the replies. I will certainly post more when I have more progress. 

On the scent of appliance frame that may suit better for a stand. 

On 12/26/2017 at 9:02 PM, Glenn said:

24 inch wide metal can be rolled into a 8 inch diameter circle.Stick the chimney to the outside. No one ever said chimneys had to be round. If that is painted or powder coated roofing, be cautious of any fumes from the heat.

Will research this paint today and see. Have a lot left over from getting a metal roof on the house. I know it was a 40 year paint. anyone dealt with removing it by chance?

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I must say David I was REALLY taken aback that you grind Hand meat! :o We have VERY different definitions of finder food!

Lose the brake drum, serious fuel wasters unless you need a really BIG fire. Same for the leaf blower, a garage sale blow drier puts out way  more air than you need for most smithing.

Lose the plastic pipe it's probably safe enough WHEN the blower's running but shut it off and it won't take long for heat to conduct down and melt it.

Start watching ditches, roads or lots where folk dump stuff, you want an old appliance door or maybe the whole top or a side. The forge table doesn't need to be Manly MAN thick, a washing machine door is fine and flip it upside down and it has a rim. The side off one is larger and a large forge table is a good thing. WITHIN REASON!

Okay, now you have your washing machine door, lay your brake rotor on it centered +/- hub side down and mark the lid around it. Cut just outside the mark, 1/4" will probably do but it's not critical. You're just making a hole the hub can fall through and stop on the disk. Make sense? Now just ram DAMP clayey soil on to the table top almost flush with the Disk. This gives you a nice level table that won't burn and is plenty strong. You can stack bricks around the edges to hold extra coal if necessary but a bucket and scoop on the floor works just fine too.

I really like your present air grate. Not so much because I think it'll be a good one but it's a wonderful straight line. Thank you. :) There are a lot of ways to plumb in the air, I cut a disk of what ever light plate I had around and drilled a couple holes to match the holes in the forge table. Same same for a rotor, cut a round disk with a couple holes to bolt through the lug bolt holes. Drive the lugs out with a hammer, no biggy. Now cut a hole in the center of the disk a LITTLE larger than the pipe you have handy. You can weld a floor flange on if you like but it's not necessary, you can weld an ungalvanized pipe nipple on just as easy. Drop it in the hole in the rotor, no real need to put bolts in it but it's always better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. If it turns out you do need to bolt it down the holes will be there. 

Okay, screw a T to the nipple and a longer nipple to it in line with the other one. Forget a screw cap, go to the parts store and buy an exhaust flap cap for that dia pipe. They just clamp on, the counter weight keeps them closed ad you can just flip it opwn with whatever's in your hand if ash starts messing with your fire.

Screw another nipple to the T so it lays horizontally, hook your air supply to this one. Blow drier, remember? There are a lot of good ways to control the air from a blow drier, some as simple as just aiming it partly away from the pipe others as complicated as hiring  Wood Elves to order the mountain Dwarves around.

I made my air supply entirely from truck exhaust pipe, 2" for the horizontal air supply and 3" for the vertical and it just sheet metal screws to the bottom of the 14 ga. sheet steel forge table. 

The air grate is as simple as laying a few pieces of round. bar over that big old air hole. You can weld them together or to something if you wish OR you can bend them into hair pins with about 3/8" - 1/2" space between and just lay them over the hole.

The real benefit of using round stock as a bar grate for the air grate is how easy it is to keep clean, a point on your fire rake and you can slide it between the bars and knock any clinker through. Easy peasy. AND it gets better, you don't need to clean more than you need for the size fire you need. Hmmmm?

Don't make these things more complicated than you need, it's just a fire place you don't need to bend over to use.

Frosty The Lucky.


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On 12/29/2017 at 6:52 PM, Frosty said:

Start watching ditches, roads or lots where folk dump stuff, you want an old appliance door or maybe the whole top or a side.

I was recently reading the "It followed me home" page. Now I pay more attention to the bar ditch than I ever have. Being in rural Oklahoma, never know what may turn up.


Not to diminish your wonderfully written and thorough post, but I find your closing mark to be the hallmark of the post for me.

"Don't make these things more complicated than you need, it's just a fire place you don't need to bend over to use."- Frosty

This, I feel, will stick with me throughout my hopefully many years. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I use a $9.99 walmart hair drier as my air source, it even has three air speeds so that I can idle my forge while I'm working a piece or bump up the temperature. I really don't see myself investing much more into my setup as a hobby blacksmith than that. If it breaks I replace it for cheap, which has only happened once 7 years I've been hammering on stuff. It's noisy but most things that move air are going to be noisy. 

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