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Hoping to get some direction or tips for my forge build. I use a large chili pot, not sure if that's the specific name or not, as of right now it is insulated with a mixture of plaster of paris, ashes, portland cement, then topped with hard fire bricks then about a half inch of my mixture coating the fire bricks. 

Its far from perfect and though im proud of it, being my very first build and as far as i know my own design, its just not doing what i want it to do in the form of heat distribution.  

hopefully this next build will do better though only slightly different. I don't have much of a budget but i can still add a couple things so any suggestions and opinions are more then welcome. 

Using the same pot I am going to make the first layer a thick mixture of plaster of paris and ashes with the thought that it will insulate everything from the outside. Next is a thick layer of high heat furnace cement which i will place firebricks on top of while filling all cracks and gaps with more high heat cement or maybe even add my pop ash mix to it.

any tips or advise is greatly appreciated, but back it up with an explanation, your knowledge is not in question, Its moreso to add to mine. Thanks guys looking forward to some comments.

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First of all, Welcome to IFI! If you haven't yet, please read the "Read This First" tab at the top of the page. 

You don't say what fuel you plan to use in the forge, and it does make a difference whether you're going with gas or solid fuel. Post pictures; we like pictures.

Neither plaster of paris nor portland cement is recommended for use in any kind of forge. Both of them decompose at high heat, sometimes with explosive results. NOT WORTH IT.

If you want to burn solid fuel (charcoal, coal), take a look at the JABOD (Just A Box Of Dirt) threads. If you plan to use gas, your best bet is high-temperature ceramic wool for insulation and a proper hard refractory to protect the inside. For details, check out the other threads in the Forges section.


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The use of Plaster of Paris has been popularized by clueless individuals on YT; PoP starts to degrade around 450 degF,  you will be running your forge at around 1600 degF and *higher*; see an issue?  Also it's not insulative.  So what you are saying you want to build a forge and spend HUNDREDS of dollars extra on propane to run it poorly because you can't spend under US$50 for insulating refractory to run a hot efficient forge. (Think of it as being like putting an engine in your car, you have two choices: one is free but only gets 8 miles per gallon, the other will cost $200 but gets 34 miles per gallon; which one is actually cheaper in the long run?)

JHCC even  thought you were talking about a solid fuel forge from your use of non-insulating materials to line it.    So since you DON'T know anything about building gas forges I would not suggest you design your own; but rather follow a known good design as closely as possible.   (I know that when I had to have surgery, I went to a surgeon who had done my operation thousands of times and not one that was designing his own method but had never tried it out...)

My basic take on burner and gas forge design is that if you have to ask for help on the basics; you are not at the point to be designing one on your own---yet!  I've been using propane forges for over 20 years now and I still use known good plans to build them as I'm interested in *FORGING*  not tinkering with them.

The chili pot shell may be OK; what are the dimensions of it?  And what will they be with 2" of kaowool and a layer of cast-o-lite30?  Is it stainless steel?  What type of burner will you be using?

I'd also suggest finding other smiths near you that you can see what they are using and how it works; most YT videos are not worth the vice presidency!  Telling which are good and which are bogus is not something someone new to the craft can easily do; especially as some of the ones with the best production values and most "likes" are the bogus ones!  I remember one that started "I've never done this before; but this is how you do it..."  You want the ones more like "Been doing this for a couple of decades now, I make my living doing it and this is what I found works best for me."

You are welcome to stop by my Smithy Saturday afternoon---morning is *scrap yard* time!

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