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JeremyMcG

First Forge Build - I don't know what I'm doing.

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 Hi.  I'm new.  

47 years old.  Living in Las Vegas.  Military Vet (USAF). Driver of a 71 Corvette.  Father of a 5 year old daughter. 

 

For some unknown reason, my daughter's absolute favorite TV show isn't a cartoon or anything on Disney; it's "Forged in Fire."    Anyway, my kiddo is obsessed with this show.  She's also in Karate.  She has been training with a sword since she was 3 (so 2 years now) and she'll be competing on ESPN this October in the ATA Fall Nationals in Orlando.  Anyway, she loves swords - and I enjoy building things.  So, we started to discuss making a forge and learning how to make blades - with the end goal being that I will make her a sword when she earns her Black Belt.  

So, I began to make a home forge.  

Originally, I was going to make a box forge.  (one that's rectangular). 
However, I've never welded before in my life, and I soon found out that I sucked. 
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I decided that my welds most likely wouldn't stand up to the heat of a forge, and the last thing I needed was the forge breaking apart while the inside was 1500 deg F and burning down my house.  So, I abandoned the idea of a box forge and instead went and got a 30lb propane tank, and cut the front completely off.  


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I used the original idea of the forge for the base and continued to practice my welding.  It's still ugly as XXXX, but they hold up to a sledgehammer hit. 


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After cutting off the top of the tank, I cut a square hole for the ''entrance'' of the forge. 


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After stripping the tank down, I covered it with 2000 deg heat resistant paint and ground down the sharp edges from the top cut. 

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I marked the location for the burner holes in what is now the top of the tank. 5.25" center to center.  This will be cut out for the propane burners to be inserted into the interior of the forge. 

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Holes cut. 

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I then welded two pieces of angle iron together and welded that to the entrance.  Then covered that with a layer of 3000-degree refractor cement giving a support platform for the tools, tongs, rebar and such that will hang out of the forge. 

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Found some 2" thick 2600-degree ceramic fiber blanket and lined the interior of the forge. Added a second layer of fiber blanket to the bottom for good measure. 

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On top of the 2nd layer of fiber blanket, I applied a 1/2" thick layer of 3000-degree refractory cement for the base.  This provides a solid interior platform for the steel to lie on as it heats up. 

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On the inside of the lid, I plugged the gaps on either side of the tool platform and then filled in the concave shape of the lid with the refractory cement.  

Now, I have to let the cement cure for at least 24 hours, build and install the burners, and weld the front of the forge back together. 
It's been an entertaining project and the kiddo has enjoyed "helping."  I have absolutely no idea if I'll ever be able to create a blade, but I figure that since she is only 2 years into Karate, I have a few years to practice until I'm able to actually make a sword.

 

Now, tell me everything I did wrong... Please. 

 

 

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Looks like some nice work.  

some things that occur to me. 

are you wearing a respirator when working with that ceramic blanket.  the fibers are very bad to breath.  

Did you rigidize before coating with refractory?

when you say refractory cement, what are you using?  If it is like the furnace cement from Rutland, it will not likely hold up.  

do you have a feel for your finished volume?  rule of thumb is 350 cubic inches or less for each 3/4 inch burner.  and that is for a properly insulated forge.  a 30 pounder is pretty big. Are you using 2  one inch layers of 8 pound kaowool or similar?   2 inches of insulation is what I commonly see recommended.  using two one inch layers rather than one 2 inch layer makes it easier to work with.  

I don't like to see metal in the forge.  the channel you put in the door seems to be unnecessary to me and exposed metal will burn up in there.  I just put porches on the front and back to set hard bricks on coated with Plistix as doors.

a back door is usually a good idea for breathing and in case you need to pass something long through the forge.  

before I did anything else, I'd read both threads forges 101 and burners 101.  It will take a while but the real experts have covered it all quite well there. 

 

Good luck.

 

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MotoMike - thanks.  

Yes, I used a painting respirator when I installed the ceramic blanket. 

I did not rigidize the bottom before I applied the refractory cement.  I will be rigidizing everything else tomorrow evening after the refractory cement dries. 

The refractory cement I used is Meeco's Red Devil 610 - rated for 3,000 deg F. (I hope that's the correct type)

The ceramic fiber blanket I used was a 2" 8lb Morgan Ceramics blanket rated for 2600 deg. 

I understand your concern for the metal sticking out of the forge.  I'll run it for a bit and if its problematic, I'll re-design.  

I should have plenty of room inside without the need of a back door, until I'm good enough to work on larger pieces... is the venting I've read about that important that I NEED a back door that's open?

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20 minutes ago, JeremyMcG said:

(I hope that's the correct type)

It's not for hard facing in a forge but for sticking bricks together in a wood stove. I'm afraid you will be replacing it in short order. The other thread to read beside the Forges 101 and Burners 101 is this one.

https://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/48833-read-this-first/

 

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Are the holes big enough to pass the burner with a flare through them?  I think mine is 2 inch.  My flares are from one inch pipe flared out to 1.25.  with a piece of 2 inch pipe welded on the shell as my burner mount, , it leaves enough room to remove burners for maintenance and also to stuff ceramic wool (also rigidized) down along side the burner tube to eliminate a path for hot gas to exit the forge.  

If your lining can still be moved inside the shell, you might consider rotating it 30 degrees or so which will cause the burners to exit the forge body at 2:00 oclock instead of high noon.  this makes the intakes more in the clear of the rising dragons breath, which if ingested will cause your burner to falter.  Also with the ends of the burners off to the side, it makes moving the gas line clear of the hot body easier.  Initially I had some DB getting back in the intake and caused me much head scratching till Frosty explained this issue to me.  If you can move the lining, you also want to aim the burners at the floor rather than the wall to prevent impingement of the flame on your more delicate refractory walls.  I get by with the high noon arrangement most of the time.  

could be me, but the volume seems too large.  make sure you are under 700 cu inches.  here is a calculator. 

http://www.onlineconversion.com/object_volume_cylinder_tank.htm

 

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So, after the advice, reading, advice and more reading:

I've ordered more ceramic fiber to decrease the interior volume of the forge, and I found some thin(ish) firebrick to lie on the bottom of the forge over the refractory cement. 

In theory, I should be good to go after I build and tune the burners.  

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Yep.  I'll be rigidizing the insulation; wearing a dust mask, and only forging outside.  I like my lungs the way they are...

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A dust mask and a quality respirator are worlds apart.

Get the proper protection for the job you are doing.

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NO REFRACTORY CEMENT! or  mortar or . . . They are NOT intended to live in the fire, they're for  sticking proper refractories together say brick in a furnace. Use a proper hard refractory.

Just misusing the terminology is no big deal hmmmm? Sure, UNTIL the counter person or online order gives you EXACTLY WHAT YOU TYPE rather than what you really WANT. 

There is no language that can tell us what you think, ONLY what you SAY.

There was a poster behind the counter in the parts department where I used to work that said, "Oh NO he gave me EXACTLY what I ordered!!!" There are other versions like "He DID exactly what I told him to!!"

Terminology is critical at times as is spelling and grammar. Even at a giant cocktail party like IFI resembles there will be times that precise language will be important.

Your forge. NO cements. No bricks. The why's have been covered many times already. If you use the proper refractory you don't really need anything more for the floor, just thicken it up a LITTLE say 1/2" - 5/8" is plenty. If you use refractory cement it won't matter, it won't last long.

Frosty The Lucky.

Edited by Mod34
Removal of unfortunate typo.

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To  Mod 34,

I missed the typo 

What was that typo?

( Mr. Frosty is renowned for brilliant,  ((highly creative ))  typos,  even).

Thank you sir.  (en avance)

Ever hopeful,  

SLAG.

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I had fumbled fingered a t for an r when discussing tree attacks....

Just like some of us probably need a personal guardian angel; others of us may need a personal moderator---or both!

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Language...

I'm ex-military. 

4 letter words are so much easier to pronounce.  

I'm also a fan of George Carlin - so that's what happened. 

 

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We want wives and daughters to be able to read IForgeIron.  We never know who will become the next Master Blacksmith.

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Thanks - you as well.  I did 12 years. 10 of which I lied about a broken vertebra from Desert Storm...it caught up with me though. 

Update:

My interior volume was too large.  Shrank it with another layer of blanket.  Covered the refractory cement on the ''lid'' with blanket as well.  

Heated up some 1095 stock - managed to hammer the tip of a knife shaped object out - but I have no anvil, so I'm just using my garage floor at the moment which isn't a good thing.  Just toying around and finding which color seems good for hammering and learning when it's too cold.  I have a LOT to learn about all of this.  I honestly never expected the metal to cool down that rapidly.  I get maybe 10 to 20 hits on it before it seems (IMO) to need to go back in the forge.  Possibly the cement garage floor is sucking out the heat, or maybe this is normal.  Like I said - lots to learn. 

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Jeremy - yeah a garage floor will suck the heat right out of an object and concrete is very soft when compared even to mild steel.  See if you can make it to a scrap yard and find a steel block a couple of inches thick until you can obtain an anvil.  We have a whole thread about improvised anvils:

 

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Well, here is my very first attempt at making a blade.  

I still have no anvil and everything was done on my concrete floor.  I used a chisel and hammer to shape the handle.  They say your first knife will suck... yup.  At least, it's a knife shaped object.  I have a loooooong way to go. 

 

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Starting your first forging project as a knife is a tall order for anyone.  Looks like your forge is working very well, just be careful that you are getting enough ventilation in there because of the CO that can build up.  That's pretty good for a first knife.  I've been forging for a few years now and am just thinking about attempting a knife.  I wanted to learn some skills before diving in.  My only criticism would be that it's really thin.  Many here forge their knives thick and grind or file to the blade thickness they want for the end product.  This helps keep the knife from warping as much.  Then of course there's the normalizing, quenching, and heat treating steps after it is forged - there's a lot to it besides the forging.  Wait until you get an anvil or an improvised anvil.  You'll think you  died and went to hammer heaven :lol:  Keep hammering, you are doing pretty good.  Others with more knife making experience might have more to say that would be more helpful.

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1095.  

I'm really just ''playing'' at this point.  That's the first thing I ever hammered out and I cheated as it was from flat stock, to begin with - so all the shaping was on the tip and handle.  I didn't do much of anything else.  Just trying to see how I control the hammer and judging the temp-colors of when it's too hot or too cold.  

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Hard to learn hammer control using the concrete floor as an anvil if you don't plan to keep using the floor. 

Its not cheating using stock closer to the desired shape, its smart. :)

have you looked for maybe a larger sledgehammer or checked around for any other chunks of steel to use as an anvil yet? Concrete is pretty bad to use, and you might mess up a perfectly good floor...

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Yeah - the forge is an "every other weekend hobby" - it will get there eventually.  Just dealing with work and life seems to eat about 105% of my time.  :)

 

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