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Diamondback forge review


bebeaux

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I purchased a Metalsmith model from Diamondback forge last year (the one with 3 doors) and have put about 400# of propane through it. It is the first and only forge I have used, so take my beginner's opinion for what it's worth. There are some design shortcomings that render it more of a forge for the amateur /hobbyist than a forge to make money with. 

The "smooth bore burner bells" are simply pipe reducers with the threads mostly machined off. There is still some root of the thread left, not that it makes much difference, but it's hardly a well constructed venturi.

The burner performance is unreliable. About every other time I start up the forge, one burner loses it's laminar flow, and the flame gets shorter and starts burning up inside the tube a little bit, with a noticeable decrease in efficiency. I've tried starting at pressures from 5-10 psi on the regulator, but the problem remains intermittent. 

The 3 doors cannot be opened simultaneously to heat large work without tying back the doors with wire. This is apparent from looking at the photos on the website, but in practice it is awkward and frustrating. 

All three doors are insulated with ceramic wool, but there is no room left to seal the face with satanite or other refractory. At best a layer about 1/8" thick is possible before the door won't seal against the forge. If you drop the door from an open position even once, the clay cracks and soon crumbles. If the steel door shell had just another 1/4" of flange, there would be plenty of room for a proper durable layer of refractory. The use of screws to secure the wool is mostly ineffective. 

The ceramic brick on the top of the forge is held in place with a thin strip of steel which is has already scaled away to nothing in places, and of the three screws that secure the top of the shell, one sheared off when I attempted to remove them. I think some anti seize is necessary for long-term use, but even then it seems unlikely that the steel will survive several liner replacements. 

I haven't bothered with forge welding yet, but I think it would take at least 15 psi to get there. There is no provision for adjusting the ratio of air to fuel, but the scale didn't seem to be excessive. 

Overall it works okay, but the inability to put anything more than a feeble layer of refractory over the door insulation is a major bummer. 

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Thank you for that very thorough, and I believe even-handed review. I can tell you that the Diamondback model getting all the good reviews is a simple box forge with a single burner. Your forge's design has been around for a long time. Several guys on this group have picked up this forge design at garage sales, etc. and tried to rehabilitate them; it never worked. You can buy this design new from several manufacturers. Why do they keep pushing this rotten forge model? They can charge more for them.

I consider Diamondback burners as average; there are some better burners and some worse ones out there; they can adequately heat an otherwise good forge design; they aren't up to heating a poor one like yours.

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OK,I i will though in my 2 cents. I have the 2 burner blacksmith model. I am also a relative beginner, and , as far as gassers go, I have only used diamondbacks, so take this with a bottle of salt. 

If someone asked me If I liked the forge my answer would still be a yes. My forge is about 150# old or so. Everything the OP said is true of my forge to. The thing that annoys me the most is the reluctance of one of the burners to light properly/stay lit for the first couple seconds. Once the fiberboard around the burner heats up a little it is fine. Worst case scenario, I just have to hold a bit of paper at the bottom of the burner with my tongs to keep it lit for a couple seconds until it has warmed up enough to burn on it's own.  The top piece of fiberboard has cracked on both burners and is buckling down slightly. Once the forge heats up, the bit of fiberboard by one of the door openings (the one I usually use) loosens up and can easily be knocked back into the forge, as it sticks out past the opening a little.                                                                                                                                                         

       That said, It does forge weld, but you have to run it at 15 psi. the floor does fine with flux. I have heard that can be an issue with some forges. It heats the steel pretty evenly. Maybe if I used a better gasser I would realize that mine is lousy, but there is always a next level up. It has quirks, but for my (very small scale) hobby use, I think it does the trick. I put steel in cold, it comes out hot. That is really all I need.

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  • 3 years later...

I to am looking for a gas forge. All of the forges I have looked at brag on there features. My feeling is:

1. People like the brand or forge they are using. Just like people are only DeWalt or Milwaukee tool users.

2. Forges will wear out. Life span is determined by how you abuse or take care of the forge. 

3. The forge you consider should be decided on based on what you are looking to do with it. Are you a blacksmith or a knife maker. Do you forge only "S" hooks and other small items or are you wanting to forge larger items. Do you travel to demonstrations or will this be a stationary forge in a shop.

4. All forges come with drawbacks.

My feeling is to purchase the forge you like from the manufacturer you like, fire it up and forge. A DeWalt will drill a hole just like a Milwaukee. Sometimes I think we battle over brands when we should be working with each other to better our skills. 

Just my opinion.

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People who have bought a gas forge already, may be quite fond of it, or definitely not. This group likes to encourage users to speak up, pro or con, so that first timers can feel the opinions about commercial forges come from people just like them. Most of this group build their own forges, and are much more interested in forge design then in who is selling what.

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I'm happy with my Diamondback forge. I bought it knowing what compromises I was making such as losing some fuel efficiency for ease of maintenance etc. If I need another forge I'll definitely be building it though. I decided to buy a forge versus building one this time due to a few reasons.  I'd rather spend my time forging instead of building something to forge in,  I only had minimal experience with gas forges and wasn't sure how well the home built forge I did get the chance to use was constructed. Turns out it wasn't a very good forge. Now that I know how a forge should operate and have gained some hands on experience I feel comfortable enough to build one on my own. 

Pnut

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While I have never gotten to use a Diamondback, I use a Majestic 2 burner knifemakers forge. At this point, I believe I have put around 100# of propane through it and it works for what I want. Is it perfect? Not at all, but I feel like I got what I paid for which is really all that matters in the end (to me at least). The only other forge I have gotten to use is a 2 burner Chile, which was pretty darn nice and would love to have one, but it is more than double the cost of my little Majestic being around $1000.

I agree with Pnut, building one is the way to go, but only after you get to know what you want/expect from your forge and it all boils down to how much your time is worth and if building one is right for you.

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When I was shopping for a forge, I came very close to buying the same forge as you Pnut, but I then discovered that Majestic was made in the tiny little town that I grew up in so when I went to visit the parents, I just swung by their shop and picked one up lol. It has its pros and cons, but I can't complain for what I paid for it. That 2 burner Chile though, well lets put it this way, IF they happen to do another stimulus (which I personally doubt), I may just have to donate it to the guys over at Chile Forge lol.

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I've been using a propane forge I built at a SOFA workshop for close on 20 years now.  Relined it multiple times and recently replaced the burners with Frosty T's.  Wow what a difference!  Swapping out burners can be a fast easy way to get your forge running *hot*!

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