J-Man

complete beginner needs help

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Hello fellas,

  I am completely new, have no experience except for a metal shop class that was taken in high school over 10 years ago!  I have heard about people learning from books, I just have no clue what books to start with I don't 100% trust the things I see on you tube and some websites.  I am also going back and forth on building or buying a forge and would love some help on that! My father mentioned to me that some relatives have dabbled in the craft and I am extremely excited to get started I just need some trust worthy sources to help me in the right direction. 

I greatly appreciate any and all help!!

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Check out the jabod threads. That's the cheapest and easiest forge to build. As far as instruction. Go to the ABANA website and look at the blacksmithing basic curriculum. There's a list of good YouTube videos in the reference section here also. Good luck and remember it's supposed to be fun.

Pnut

 

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or look at the forges section, have you seen this one too

 

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Like Steve said. Go to the home page>solid fuel forges> Just a box of dirt ( jabod) forge. There's a few of them. If you take a little bit and look through all the different forums here it'll make it easier to navigate later. Don't use the search engine here. Go to Google or Bing and type in what you're looking for followed by iforgeiron.

Pnut

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sorry about that fellas, I got excited and forgot to add some info!  I have added my location and will look through the forums. 

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The side blast 55 forge is also a good forge. Don’t look at the Simple side draft forge so much as a blue print but as a design philosophy. Any kind of table that will bring the top of any kind of container to your working hight ( 30” for me) fill it with any mineral soil, heat risist rock or brick leaving a fire bowl with a 3/4” schedule 40 pipe tuyere 4-5” below the hearth (top of the box) a couple of “ of dirt or brick to protect the bottom of the box... 

simple. Box can be an old changing table, 55 drum cut either way, a pipe or bricks on a coffee table, an adobe brick pedestal, brick pedestal, cob mound, crib and ruble box etc. 

botom blasts are a bit more complicated and not as sideblasts in my opinion but they can be built with the same philosify (see the 55 botom blast)

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has anyone ever created the "coffee can forge"? I've seen it a few times and if it works it might be a good route for me. I don't want anything to big being it'll just be a hobby for now, just not sure if they actually work.  

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I have not built *the* coffee can forge"; but I have built *a* coffee can forge powered from a small propane torch.  I do not know how *the* coffee can forge is built you didn't say and of all the hundreds of variations out there I can't tell.  Some are quite good and some are completely BOGUS---anyone using plaster of paris is BOGUS! Anyone using a weed burner is bogus as well.

Also search on micro forges.

 

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I have never built a "coffee can forge" but i have however seen one. This is just my opinion but unless your plan is to make blades that are maybe 3-6" from stock removal, and you are using the forge to heat treat only, they seem kind of useless to me. But again that is my opinion, some here may say the greatest thing since sliced bread. But i think they are just to small to be practical. So it basically comes down to a question of what are your plans? What kind of things do you want to make? Then go from there as to what you will need. 

This started out as a hobby for me also. I thoght i wanted to be a blade smith, turns out there is not enough anvil time and way to much grinder time for me. I want to work hot metal. My hobby went from a simple side blast charcoal forge to a single burner propane and now what i call a hybrid JABOD-brake drum forge burning coal. My backyard hobby turned into a fully functioning shop. Takes up my entire garage (12 X 18) but will be moved to the barn once i get some electricity out to it. 

Best advice i can give is read these forums. There is a whole lot of info here. Do not be afraid to ask a question. My drill Sgt had a saying for that "the only stupid question is one not asked." While yeah some may find it a stupid question the fact is is that you do not know the answer, do not stay in the dark. The curmudgeons here may seem a little gruff at first but they are a great bunch of guys that give their knowledge freely. One more thing though before asking a question see if it may have already been asked and answered. Do not use the search on the site, use google and put in what you want to know followed by "i forge iron". For example "JABOD iforgeiron", then hit search. Oh and we love pictures, no picture did not happen. In my short time doing this, less than a year at the anvil, i have found that the blacksmith community is kind of tight knit and very supportive. 

From one noob to another, welcome aboard. Remember to keep it fun but most importantly keep it safe.  

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Good for leaf key rings, bottle openers, nails, lots of small scale stuff and  propane doesn't annoy the neighbors like coal and is more "friendly" in  fire danger areas. I used to use my small 1 soft fire brick forge in my basement in Columbus Ohio, USA when it was 20 degF outside. I hot forged viking era hack silver jewelry and did the nails for my mastermyr chest in it.

They are limited in what they can do; but there is .a lot of small stuff that will fit---like making chasing and repousse tools from roll up garage door springs. 

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Welcome aboard J-man, glad to have you. We're a pretty informal bunch. I have to say though, calling it "Creating" a coffee/bean/soup/etc. can forge is a bit pretentious around here. :rolleyes:

As Thomas says do NOT use: plaster, or worse Portland cement, that ones a red flag warning the person suggesting it is dangerously clueless. 

I haven't made a large one, 2 lb. coffee can size maybe. They work well within their size limitations and if you use a mapp gas torch weld easily. The issue is handling the ceramic wool refractory used to line them, it REALLY needs to be rigidized or otherwise encapsulated to prevent fibers breaking loose and floating away. Sharp vitrified ceramic needles are a breathing hazard and can result in a mesotheleoma type lung conditions. 

Do some skimming and selective reading in the gas forge section or the more recent thread, "Forges 101" to get a handle on propane forges, construction and some pros and cons. The "Burners 101" is a good place to look if you think you'd like to build your own propane burners. 

Starting small and working your way up eh? Good plan, we'll help.;)

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thanks for the response fellas! I was going to start small learn basics, leaves, metal twisting, maybe a blade or two but don’t want to break the bank on something I’m just learning. I was thinking of constructing a micro forge and doing a one piece insulation with some rutland refractory cement rated to 2550 Fahrenheit and possibly try to construct a frosty t burner in smaller size maybe 1/2” iron instead of 3/4. Then build bigger once I gain experience worthy of bigger metal. Anyway does anyone have experience with rutland cement

 

Commercial link removed 

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Posted (edited)

Hoi

I think you can trust what people do on Youtube, just by looking at the end result. most of what I learned started on Youtube and then extended to online articles.when I started I didnt even know what questions to ask, to find the things I didnt even know yet I needed.

some of the basics:

you dont need alot of money or powertools  all you need is a way to blow air trough a pipe into a forgethat can be anything, hairdryer or a some type of bag bellow thats been nailed together(my blower is a japanese "fuigo" highly recommend it but it took me 6 months of research and planning) a forge can be made from just a few bricks or a hole in the ground(if you wanna be fancy about it slather it in clay)fuel options: charcoal, coal, coke, bone, corn, gas, wood-if youre desperate(too much smoke)  an anvil, again can be pretty much anything, anything that you can hammer on that wont break, shatter, burn, melt.a sledge hammer head, piece of railtrack, a piece of flatbar, two pieces of flatbar next to each other screwed to wood.  hammers...yea i think thats.. but if you dont have a hammer find a nice heavy smooth solid rock, from a river maybe. the main point is, if you want to forge, dont worry about "the perfect set up" youre probably not gonna get it right on your first try anyway.so just get started with whatever you got and see what you want/need from there on.

mistakes are good, as long as you dont give up.

Edited by Mod30
remove double spacing.

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Uh huh.

How do you know the results you see on Youtube were what you were watching and by what criteria do you judge the results?  Have you read the Dunning Kruger papers? 

Just a FYI from a curmudgeon. You don't have to take advice but I don't argue with beginners. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Posted (edited)

dunning krueger: "how to evaluate ones own incompetence"?

that is a good point but most artisans who I've learned from(over the internet+youtube) didn't seem to have ever fallen into that trap at all, their message was always "its a journey of many steps" "mastery over a life time" "the further you go, the farther it becomes"and they seem honest enough to do some research on the topic they discuss or to tell you when they're uncertain. 

but I do know of people who "got their papers" and decided they had achieved "mastery" in their field, which led them to become close minded to new or different methods and confined their skills in their "own space" which is frustrating. maybe another good tip for a beginner, "never assume youve "mastered" anything"  I believe a "master" is judged after they've finished the work. in the case of artisans that means "death." sorry if that ends this on a grim note but I mean this in the most positive way possible. 

"always keep improving/learning" :P

Edited by Mod30
double spacing

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A Master is a man that has failed more times than the beginner has tried, we are all students

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Hi J Leon, welcome to IFI... I noticed your posts have been edited by a Mod for double spacing, which is discouraged here. I suggest you read this and the TOS. READ THIS FIRST

There are some very good You Tube videos out there but suggesting that all are worthy of following is poor advice. There are quite a few that are down right dangerous and one thing we stress is safety.

BTW Where in the world are you located?

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So after reading a few threads I’m finding out it’s better to use wool then refractory correct? Which leads to my next question. I will be making a micro forge out of a 1 gallon paint can with a 2” chamber. Have decided to start this will work best for me, unless I come across something else.  Which leads me to ask which wool and coating is best also what temp rating am I looking for 2700+ Fahrenheit?

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Depends, ceramic wool insulates better but is delicat and requires digitizer for safety. Insulative castable refractories are ok. Typical recommendation is to provide a 1/4” thick hard face with castable for wool. Then it’s still recommended to use an IR reflective coating. Propain torches are not the most effecent burners. Read forges 101 and burners 101 for your grduate degree in gas forges.

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Modern gas forges?
welp im out...any traditional Japanese toolsmiths?
we use clay mixed with charcoal dust for refractory, it works pretty good, tho after a few forge weld runs the tuyere starts getting a little...melted.
hm i hope i fixed my keyboards double spacing issue..

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1 hour ago, J-Man said:

I’m finding out it’s better to use wool then refractory correct?

No. Ceramic wool IS a refractory but is delicate especially at forging temperatures. What is being called "refractory" incorrectly in the usage. Is castable hard refractory used for a relatively inert, strong inner liner or flame face. It's armor to protect the insulating ceramic wool outer liner. Both are refractories but have different characteristics. 

Do NOT use refractory "cement or mortar" regardless of the temp rating. They are NOT intended for direct contact with the fire, they're used to stick bricks or to a substrate or each other. They do NOT last long in a propane forge. It's not a good deal, no matter what it costs. Unless you're laying an incinerator or something, of course. 

Rigidizer is a treatment used on ceramic blanket to stiffen it and make it more structural and as or more significantly encapsulate the ceramic fibers so they don't break loose and drift around your breathing air. 

Working from the outside in is the: Shell, typically a steel skin to hold the refractory liners and support the burners and work. Next is the ceramic wool, typically two layers of 1" 8lb. ceramic blanket. this is usually rated around 2,600 f. During installation you want to apply a rigidizer. We've been mixing fumed silica and clean water with a couple drops of food coloring and spritzing the wool. Butter it first by spritzing it with plain water. Once the rigidizer has dried and you've played the torch over it a little to set it you want to apply a layer of water setting cast hard refractory. It can be troweled on, 1/2" is plenty, more than some of the gang use.

That's a PITA on a gas forge as small as bean can forge though. I"m not sure how I'd approach doing one now but I have stopped using untreated Kaowool blanket since learning the danger. 

You might consider making a small Insulating Fire Brick (IFB) forge. Two or three, Morgan K 26 IFBs while not cheap are darned durable and not a health hazard so long as you wear a dust mask when shaping them: sawing, drilling, rasping, etc. It's plenty make nice Bernomatic torch sized forges plenty for bean can sized projects.

Frosty The Lucky.

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