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Newbie forge, check my logic


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Hey all,

I am brand new to all of this. I'm partially writing this to introduce myself. I've been reading all that I can, and I'm feeling somewhat ready to start hitting metal. I have found a few intro blacksmithing classes in the area, however they are all about 2 months out if they don't fill up before I can get in. My budget is limited, but I'll be happy to spend a little more money once I have some idea of what I'm doing. For the time being, I just want to use what I have and start seeing what I can do.

I have a hammer, a shopvac, and a small chunk of railroad track. I don't have a forge yet, but I am looking at my best options for building one. There is a free charcoal grill on craigslist that I am planning on picking up mostly for the sake of having  a forge picked up off the ground, and some portability. I want to make my own charcoal, cut a hole in the side of the grill and mount a tuyere for the shopvac to blow into. The refractory is what keeps spinning me in circles though. Should I get cheap fire bricks from lowes, kitty litter, or actual refractory cement? It's too frozen to dig anything up right now, and I keep finding different recommendations on what I should actually use. Other than digging clay in the spring, I don't think there are any other "free" options I can look to. I'm leaning toward the bricks and deal with them if they fall apart.

So, give me your opinions. Any flaws in my thought process?

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Welcome to IFI! If you haven't yet, please READ THIS FIRST!!! 

Your basic plan is okay, but needs tweaking. A shopvac is MUCH too much air for charcoal, and you would be better served with something much more gentle. Take a look at various JABOD threads, especially the Mark III JABOD thread.

Kitty litter is probably your best choice for getting started, but this is addressed in threads linked above.

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