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Just a Tub of Dirt, photo heavy

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I am building a new solid fuel forge and since it is an variation of the JABOD I am posting pictures of the build. This is built in a bushel size wash tub, rather than a wooden box. The fill is mostly raw clay I dug on my property mixed with sharp silica sand. I did put some plain soil in the bottom under the fire brick so I could conserve the sand clay mix. My tuyere is 1" black pipe which I wrapped in waxed paper to keep the clay from sticking to it. This is to allow the pipe to be pushed into the firepot as the end burns off or to be pulled and trimmed as a consumable. We'll see if and how that works. I followed the suggested dimensions for a JABOD found in this section of the forum.


Here is my working sketch.


The wash tub with the firebrick for the bottom of the fire pot.


The Tuyere wrapped in waxed paper. The mark on the tub is for the hole. The galvanized fitting is to adapt to my bellows. If that end gets hot I'll remove the zinc. I don't know if that will be the case yet.



Mixing the sand and clay.


I ended up kneading the clay into the sand with my hands. That was the most time consuming part. There probably is a better way.


checking to see if I made enough (not quite).


soil to make up the difference, going in the bottom.


screening out the rocks.


soil in the bottom.


Next the fire brick.



Adding clay sand mix.


Drilled the tuyere hole.


Approximate location for the tuyere.


continuing to fill.



nearly there.




final shape.



Coming soon, a small conflagration.

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Not bad. Might want to build a tray (say, 24-30" square) around the rim with a 2" or so layer of dirt on top, to keep excess fuel from spilling over the edges (don't ask me how I know this).

Is this staying on the ground, or will you be building a frame to raise it up?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thomas, that's what I was reminded of as well. I built one of Tim's designs years ago as my solid fuel forge. I tried to use bentonite clay and silica sand as my refractory. That bentonite may be great for sealing ponds, but it didn't work for a forge (at least not for me). I ended up cleaning it all out and haven't relined the forge since. Got plenty of red clay around here though. Maybe putting it back in use is my next project after reading all these box-o-dirt/ tub-o-dirt posts.

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  • 2 months later...

So just to get started safely one could literally just fill a container with dirt...say maybe a nice wooden table with sides a good several inches high...back fill it with dirt...leave an inch rim to keep tools from rolling...and a hole for air flow and charcoal...please correct me if i over simplified that as ive only seen 1 working forge...

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

YES, you can just pile a mound of dirt on an old table and make a perfectly serviceable side blast forge. Just make sure there're at least 2"-3" of dirt between the fire and table top. No need for sides or anything complicated like that, JUST DIRT, DAMP dirt compacts though and makes a forge that doesn't want to drift off the table or down wind. Damp dirt and tamp it down some. If you're going to be laying hot steel on the table cover it with a couple inches and tamp it too for a heat shield. 

Don't worry, you haven't over simplified anything, you need to try harder. We LOVE simple solutions! ;)

Frosty The Lucky.

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Welcome aboard Scotty.

There are a number of easy methods of making a simple forge like this.  Before you even start, though, get yourself up to speed on this forum.  First, read this thread so you can avoid all the simple issues people have when they join: https://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/53873-read-this-first/


All the sticky threads in the solid fuel forge section will help: https://www.iforgeiron.com/forum/64-solid-fuel-forges/

A video showing how simply this style of forge can be created recently gained some love here on IFI.  This is one of the YouTube channels that you should watch to learn about blacksmithing.



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You have the gist of it. Even with instruction and illustrated plans most folks tend to complicate things. A forge was (and still is) a hole in the ground with an air source. As Jerry pints out 2-3” of soil or brick to protect flamamble  materials. We think in turns of a table with a box at anvil hight (30” for me) but a stack of tires (earth ship) or a wood crib ( compost bin) adobe blocks or cob works. One could dry stack cement block and then lay a top of clay brick as well. Now, again one can mold the hearth and fire bowl directly from cob, build it from adobe brick, clay brick or again, a tire with the sidewalk cut out to contain ash and cinder, meneral soil or cheep clay cat litter (dry) 

charcoal needs a gental breath of air, and seems happiest with a single 3/4-1” ID (inside diameter) tuyere. 3/4” schedual 40 pipe is pretty close to 7/8” and the hose from a cheep bed inflator pump fits in it. This is consistent with archeological evidence for Viking era forges. This makes a small fire ball about 6” across. As fire spread is an isue with charcoal one needs a fire shied to bank fuel against (Viking style) or a pair of mounds (African/Asian style). Otherwise it’s a fuel hungry hog. For those used to bottom blast coal forges, sideblast charcoal forges are shallower. One may only be 2” above the tuyere to find the hottest part of the fire. A hair dryer is way much air, a manual bed pump or a small computer fan is suffitiant


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