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I Forge Iron

Making a charcoal forge

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I have been lurking around here, learning and gleaning from the trove of knowledge in this forum. I have finally got all the parts I need to build a forge the way that will suit me best. I just need some professionals to bounce my ideas off of.

To begin, this whole step up will all need to be portable, as the apartment that my wife and I are renting has a small backyard, and she doesn't want all this stuff in the living room. It has to go to the basement to be hauled out every time I use it. 

As you can see in the picture, this old metal cabinet will be my forge base/table. I am thinking of laying bricks down on half of it. I would then set up brick around the edge to make my fire pot/pit. I have wondered though, will this be too shallow for a charcoal forge?

For my air source, I will use the blower I just bought today ($125, maybe a little overpriced?). My problem comes when I try to think of connecting the blower to the 3/4 in pipe that will be used for my tuyere. I would like something cheap lol, but how do I get from the opening at the blower, down to 3/4 pipe?

Hopefully this all makes sense, thank you for reading and adding your thoughts and comments to my blacksmithing endeavors! 

P.S. don't mind my pose, my wife took the picture and I was goofing off for her. I didn't realize this would be the only picture I had on hand.



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I think I may have found a better solution. There were two drawers in this cabinet. I was going to scrap them, but I might make them into a sort of WW1 style portable forge. I would again line it with firebrick or even normal brick...

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Will: If you're packing this up and down out of the basement you need it to break down completely, covering half that table in brick with a border is going to make just the cabinet a major chore. I did a quick search and without calculating it from the per cubic foot or meter weight I found a site that ships and according to them one, 9" x 2.5" x 2.5" fire brick weighs 8lbs.  A split brick which is 1.25" thick weighs 4lbs.

Even if you packed them in a box AFTER they cooled off they represent an excessive weight to pack up and down. 

How about this instead. Build a plywood JABOD. It doesn't need to be very deep, I'm thinking 6" would do and 8" will allow more depth than you're likely to need. One sheet will leave you plenty of plywood for other projects. Hmmm. A JABOD can be emptied into a plastic bucket or two so you're not carrying a couple hundred lbs in one load. You can rig a C clamp to hold the blower to your table and plumb the tuyere straight across to the forge. AH HAH! we're typing at the same time! A couple drawers eh? Cool, you don't have to make a box for the JABOD.

Why 3/4" pipe for the tuyere, is that a preferred size? Converting is no trick if you run rubber flex hose from the blower to the tuyere pipe, you can adapt with duct tape though plastic PVC bushing reducers are only a couple bucks. 

Back to fire bricks. 3-4 split fire bricks will provide plenty for a fire back and V trench sides. Why split bricks? They weigh half as much but better than that they cool off in about 1/4 the time and leaving 4-5 split bricks on the stand when you move it won't be a back breaker. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Frosty, I have loved seeing each and every one of your posts, and this one was no exception, especially the point where I posted another reply lol!

I am a little confused on how I would split the bricks in half...that requires a brick splitting saw blade, right? And wouldn't it make the bricks more fragile? I am planning on using the hard brick. I am also confused on the V trench sides. Is this so that there is less fuel used/wasted?

3/4 for tuyere pipe is what I have heard Charles, the side blast aficionado, use.  

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Use Clothes Dryer flexible metal pipe, comes 3" and 4" that I know of. 3/4" blower pipe is too small, too much restriction. 2" pipe, lying on it's side, with 5 or 6, 1'2" or slightly larger holes, pointed vertical, works well. you can plug the extra holes with a bolt, it you need.

Put wheels on your cabinet. Too soon, too heavy!!


Half width bricks are called "Split Bricks"

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Another way to hook up the blower is to go to a real plumbing store (not a big box home improvement) and pick up a rubber bushing. Here is mine connected with an old vacuum cleaner hose. If you are going to build the forge as a side blast 3/4 in tuyere is correct. If you are building a bottom blast the tuyere can be as large as the blower outlet connected with dryer vent hose.


You know you are becoming a blacksmith when your forge blower rides shot gun in your vehicle.:D

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Mr. W. B.,

cutting brick with out a masonry saw, can be accomplished with a series of drilled holes, and plug and feathers. (i.e. wedges).

there are other methods and someone,  on this site,  will follow up with one or more of them.


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A skilled mason can split a brick with the sharp end of a bricklayer's hammer.

Frosty's suggestion of JABOD is a good one, and here's a hint to make the buckets easier to carry: slip a six-inch length of garden hose over the handle and tape it shut with gaffer's tape or the like. That will make a much more comfortable handle than the hard plastic tubes that usually come on those things. Just make sure the fill is cool before you put it in the bucket.

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Welcome, in the same boat when it comes to needing everything to be portable. After a lot of experimenting I finally settled on a MARKIII style jabod with a small modification. I stopped cutting a hole for the air pipe in the bricks and just put the pipe between two clay bricks and fill the gap with a split firebrick. It can't be beat for forging small things and you can set it up quickly. I first used a box without a bottom so I could put a bucket by the table and push the forge off the end to get the kitty litter back in the buckets but I'm now using a Webber kettle grill and just leave it assembled. It's a grill after all. I did notice that since I no longer have a permanent setup in the woods I forge a little less though. Anyway welcome aboard, be safe, and remember it's supposed to be fun. 


Split hard firebrick is available commercially. The TSC near me sells them for about $3.00 a piece. $2.76 iirc. 


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When i first started forging i was using a gasser that constited of 6 hard fire bricks in a metal frame. Not to heavy but i too had to tote it in and out of the basement along with propane tanks, hoses, etc. May not have been heavy but 4 or 5 trips up and down the stairs each time i wanted to fire it up became a real PITA. The wife didnot say anything about it, i was more worried somebody would want my tanks and tools more than i. So i had to do something. 

Can you put a small shed like thing in your back yard? I built one but my mom and dad bought one. A shed thing that is maybe 4' x 4' x 3'. The top is hinged and the front is 2 big doors that swing open. Fit my forge, on an old propane grill, 3 tanks 20#, 

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13 hours ago, Will Brouwers said:

am a little confused on how I would split the bricks in half.

You buy them. <sigh> If you need to cut a brick in half lengthwise, score it with something sharp, a nail will work and tap it on the other side and it'll break on the score mark. Just like cutting glass. I've heard of masons doing this to make holes through brick to pass plumbing but I've never seen it done or heard a description of how. I'll leave that to you if you think you need a hole in a split brick.

A V trench causes the fuel to settle in a more limited area for a more controlled fire and concentrates the ash and clinker making it easier to clean. 

A large area makes a large fire so rectangular trenches mean large fire whether you need one of not. To  make a larger fire in a V trench turn up the air and it'll move higher in the V. More fuel and air = bigger fire. 

The really excellent aspect of a JABOD is you can change the size and shape of the trench or heck make it round, square or triangular if you wish until you find the size and shape that suits you and the project. It's just a box of dirt. I do recommend something to cover it if you leave it unattended for any length of time they're popular with cats too. :wacko:

Using split brick to line the V trench means you don't need anything special for the dirt, you don't even need it damp enough to pack hard. A little packing is a good thing, just not necessary.  Sand works but it's a hassle, it's too loose and tends to vitrify into glass.

I recommend about 2" of dirt under the fire but you have a steel cabinet so 1" is probably enough. Watch for warping though, if the cabinet under the fire warps make the dirt thicker.

Lay a couple inches of dirt on the table make a little pile on each side of your trench (or whatever) Stand a couple split bricks on end on the side away from the tuyere pipe and pile a little dirt behind them so they stay in place. Now comes the tricky part! lean two pieces of split brick on the side with the tuyere pipe with enough gap for air to get past! Pile some dirt behind them to keep them in place.

Now place one of the pieces of split brick you made figuring out how to cut one in half, you'll have a few, it's a good thing, you'll want them. Anyway, place one on top of the tuyere pipe and oh heck put one under it too, no reason to have more dirt in the fire than necessary eh? Heck, you can use pieces of fire brick to extend the tuyere back from the fire so you're not burning the end off the pipe all the time. 

Pile and tamp dirt behind the split brick and you have a forge. Remember to cut more split brick and make sloped ends to keep the fire clean.

You can just lay the tuyere pipe on dirt and slope it as necessary. Hook the flex hose to the end of the pipe and you're in business. I like old vacuum cleaner hose, I always save it when an old one dies. If you're on good terms with the folks at the dump (transfer station here) they'll pull and hold stuff for a day or so for you. Donuts or muffins are good PR.;) 

Same for pipe, just keep your eyes open it's everywhere. Remember no plating! Galvy, chrome, nothing is good to breath. Just plain rusty pipe you saw in the ditch or somebody's can on trash day, that old piece of lawn furniture is  made from pipe! Oh DRATS it's aluminum, no good here but you wouldn't have known if you hadn't stopped and looked. Right?

When you're done for the day shovel some of the dirt from your JABOD where it's cool and lay the trench liner split bricks on the dirt and bury it with cool dirt and you won't need to wait for it to cool. Yes? Remember, the dirt right behind the brick is hot too so mix it with the cool dirt and see if it's cool enough to hold in your hand. If so good if not put it in a steel bucket and set it on the cabinet AFTER you've moved it down stairs.

The whole thing comes apart so you're not carrying more than say 50lbs. If that's too heavy get more buckets. 

Bricks are good when you need them but they're heavy, even IFBs are heavy enough I don't carry more around than I need to. I have two cases 6 bricks ea. of K26 IFBs I take to demos so folks can see you don't need something special for a propane forge. I hide a couple 3,000f. split hard firebrick in each case for what needs tough and I have more in the shop I just don't carry them if I don't have to.

Frosty The Lucky.

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