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My First Forge Build and Some Questions

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Alright, I'm starting my first forge build and need some pointers. I have done some research on the forum so far and have a few ideas, but I'm not 100% sure on some parts. I am using an old welding table as the base for my forge, picture below.


It has some pretty thick steel as the top and should work nicely. Plus, was gonna use a brake drum at first but have some scrap lying around I can use to create a large coal forge, (Although I won't be making many large items at first, figured it wouldn't be a super bad idea.). It is 29" wide and 19.5" deep. 

I'm aiming for a coal forge so I obviously need a firebox. I've heard that it should be about 4 inches deep, but haven't gotten a direct answer of how wide it should be. Also, should it be centered or offset to the left/right? I have seen some forges that have centered fireboxes and have seen some that sit off to the side. Not sure if that affects anything so figured I would ask.

Another thing, how high should the walls be on the main body? I've seen many use angle iron which seems about right, but I have some scrap C-channel that I think would work well.

I'm most likely going to go with an electric blower, but have thought of going with a hand crank. To start off however, I think the easiest would be electric. 

Thanks y'all!

If I haven't been that clear, I'm sorry, kinda new to forging so I haven't 100% grasped all the terminology.


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  • Wyatt Flora changed the title to My First Forge Build and Some Questions

A couple things Wyatt, bearing in mind I'm mostly a propane forge guy. Heavier isn't necessarily better, I'd certainly not turn that beautiful welding table into a forge, there are way too many other good uses for it. My large coal forge has a 14ga. sheet table with a couple pieces of 1" angle iron under it to help keep it flat - ish. 

I also don't use a fire pot, I much prefer a "Duck's Nest" forge. The basic duck's nest forge is a couple inches of packed sandy clay with a depression down to the air grate, the duck's nest. I can shape the fire as needed for the job with fire brick. It lets me make a fire as small as a coffee mug or a couple feet across. Not that I've ever need a fire that large but it'd be doable.

A side blast forge is an excellent forge and as ancient as human's have been heating metal to hammer it into submission. Side blasts are about as good as I know of for burning charcoal but also work very well burning coal or dung. 

An electric blower may be easy to find and cheaper than hand cranked or a mattress pump but it's a LOT more difficult to learn to control the fire. A blow drier makes WAY too much air for most forge fires and making a waste gate in the tuyere can be a hassle for a newby. Do you have: good fabrication skills, a drill press and wire feed welder? If so you're home free. 

The sides on my large forge are 2" angle iron, flange up with the 14ga. sheet steel table laying in it. So, the rim around my table is just under 2" high.

Currently I believe the more preferred vehicle scrounge fire pot is a disk brake hub. A brake drum tends to be way large and you end up filling the partially with clay brick, etc. If you drop a brake disk in a table the disk itself will be above the table in general but can be leveled up easily with packed soil. They make a fine bottom blast forge.

Another outstanding forge is the JABOD (Just A Box Of Dirt). It is literally dirt in a box you can empty to move, reshape as you learn what you need and like for the project you're working on at the time. A quick search of the site will pull up the JABOD thread.

How much have you read in the solid fuel forge section of Iforge? There are lots of discussions about different shapes, sizes, fuel options, on and on. 

One final tip and probably my best one regards searching Iforge. The search engine on the site sucks. Use the search engine you prefer and add, "Iforge" to the search terms. For example: "JABOD forge, Iforge".


First hit, dating 2017. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Build the JABOD forge.  Cheap, easy and works.  It will answer most of your questions while teaching you how to get metal hot.  Besides no one said you could have only one forge.  The next forge will usually be better anyway.

You will need a fireball about the size of a melon, so anything to hold a 4-6 inch or so ball will work. The sweet spot of the fire is about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up the fireball. This is where the metal goes to get hot.  I prefer something to lay the metal on that is at that height so there is no guessing where the sweet spot is located.  

Fuel does not make the fire hot, air makes the fire hot.  You only need as much air as you need heat from the fuel.  Gentle air works best. 

The forge should have an inch or more of ash under the fire ball for insulation.


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Thank you very much Glenn and Frosty.

I will look more into the JABOD forge. As you said, Glenn, it won't be my only forge, so that would make sense.

Also, thank you for the tip on blowers, Frosty.


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Learn what YOU want to use before making a forge to do it.  Would you buy a dump truck as your daily commuter car because you *might* want to get a load of gravel sometime in the future? Get in touch with a local ABANA affiliate and see/test out some forges till you find a design that works for you and then reproduced it!

I'm dogpiling on the JABOD group.

My primary coal forge was a sheet metal door from a WWII jig borer with the axle cover from a Banjo rear end for the fire pot.  My huge cast iron "RR Forge" is mainly used as a shop table nowadays.

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  • 2 weeks later...

 My forge table is made from an old water heater tank, cut , split, and flattened. The edges turned up about an inch and a half, and the front left open.  The firepot I welded up from 3/16" sheet steel, It has served me well for a few years now.   No need for a mig welder, An Oxy/Acetelyne rig will do just fine with the proper welding tip.  And is more versatile. I can weld from razorblades, to 3/8" material with mine it just takes a minute to get the thicker stuff hot.

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On 4/5/2021 at 12:46 PM, ThomasPowers said:

I'm dogpiling on the JABOD group.

I'm with you. I'm a JABOD convert and recommend them to anyone wanting to build their first solid fuel forge. I even recommend them to people building gas forges so they can get started sooner.  They're so simple that they almost seem too good to be true.  I say all the time, "I wish I would have found the JABOD design a couple years earlier."


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