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Ideas for budget-friendly smithy?


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I recently acquired an anvil at auction and am trying to figure out a good way to set up some kind of structure to sit everything under. Since I have a low budget, I was going to try putting posts in the ground with a simple frame at the top and stretching a tarp across it. Would this work, or would the heat from the furnace melt a tarp?

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When you say furnace, do you mean forge. Depending on the type of tarp the heat from running a forge will degrade it rapidly. Not knowing where in the world you are located, it's hard to give definitive answers. In my area there are many used building supply stores and a scrap yard close, where I could get corrugated sheet metal cheap.

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Andrew:  I will give a typical lawyer's answer:  It depends.  The variables are what kind of a forge you will be using, how far the tarp will be over the heat source, what material is the tarp made from. and the local weather and wind. 

Regarding the last, if you have an exposed site and it tends to be windy most heat and smoke will be carried sideways out from under the tarp.  35 years ago when I had my forge set up outside a storage unit here in windy Wyoming much of the time the heat and smoke had more of a horizontal aspect to it than vertical.  If you are in a wooded or otherwise sheltered area everything will rise straight up.

Tarps will have varying degrees of heat resistance.  A plastic sheet or drop cloth will melt very easily, a heavy cotton canvas tarp will be much more heat resistant, and a woven plastic tarp, e.g. a blue tarp, will probably fall somewhere in between.

You might want to set up your forge just outside the area under the tarp and keep yourself and the anvil and other tools under it.  This is often done at demonstrations.

Also, you may want to add a hood/chimney to your forge to carry the heat and smoke up past the tarp.

Finally, is the tarp to keep you and the work shaded or is it to keep rain and other weather off you and the work area?  Each will have somewhat different requirements.

As Irondragon suggested, add your general location, e.g. town and state if in the USA.  Your location will have an effect on the value of any answers or suggestions we give you.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

PS Lots of smiths have started out in the open air.

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When I started out, I was a fair- weather smith. I had a rivet forge mounted on a small 4 wheeled wagon dealie thing that I simply rolled out of my shed to use. I rocked out the anvil and stump to the mouth of the shed and went to work. Next phase added a hood and short stack to the forge, which then took up a semi permanent location under the shed roof overhang. It was tarped over after cool between sessions. The anvil situation remained the same.

Once I decided I was going to get serious about it, I got a larger forge and moved it inside, and built a Hofi style sidesucker and flue stack.The rest is history.

The point here is the first forge (or even the 2nd or 3rd) doesn't have to be the ultimate be-all end- all forge. Work with what you have and what you can afford right now and just get forging. Be safe and smart about it and you will start to see where you want to go from there. Opportunities and materials will come your way , often very unexpectedly. Just get forging.

Steve

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Half my forging is done out of a truck, other farriers have a trailer. The other half is done out of a 3 sided shed (12x32’) built from salvaged fence panels, power polls, mobile home floor joists and trusses. The only thing besides nailes I paid $ for was the roles roofing, tar paper and drip edge.

Some demo out of bakers tents. Tarps aren’t much effected buy forge fires if the tarp is hung high enough to allow a full over head swing. 

depending on your skills as a scrounge barn tin, old sheds, good old fashioned “tar paper” shacks, pallet sheds, etc. all can work. 

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Location makes a big difference; if you live where 40 and 50 mph gusts are common, a tarp will have problems.  If you live where it's very hot and humid then a higher roof and open sides might help. I once lived in the inner city and had to carry my anvil and tools out of the basement when I wanted to forge and carry them back down afterwards---I was decades younger back then!---to keep stuff from being stolen.

I was once given a sheet metal roofed  pipe framed "carport" that would have made an excellent starter shop.

Remember to not make something that annoys the neighbors, that is safe to work in, that is built to handle snow, rain, wind loads for your area.  I built the 20'x30', with 10' walls, forge extension for my shop on the cheap. All the siding and roofing was free as were the utility poles. I bought the metal trusses used and the purlins and pounds of SDST metal screws new.  Did most of the building myself; but with a group of friends it could have been done in a weekend!

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Currently ive got my smithy outside on a concrete pad beside my shop under some trees,

I store all my blacksmithing tools and tooling in a job box to keep them dry

but the forges, post vises, anvils an swage block all stay out in open air,

most of that stuff has probably spent more years outside than I’ve been alive,

 an it didn’t hurt the function of any of it so I figure a little rain once in awhile won’t hurt it till I get a lean to over everything, 

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Twisted, my stuff is under a shed now, but before that I had a plastic storage container covering my anvil and rwo rubber feed buckets covering my post vise and outside bench grinder.  You could cover the swage block similarly.  For your forge, a large metal wash tub would work.  That way you could cover it while still warm after forging if rain was imminent.

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arkie, the wash tub idea is pretty good,

Yesterday evening I was hurrying up shutting down the forge before the rain hit an it seemed like the coal took over an hour to finally stop burning so I could clean the forge out before the rain, 

A wash tub could work great to cover my little portable pancake forges,

 but I’m in the process of building a big table forge so when its done I’ll probably start using it primarily an it’s gonna be hard to cover, 

I’m not overly worried about all the other big tools because I wipe it all down with oil every now an then, an keep my vises and blowers well lubricated, 

An all my power equipment is located inside the shop building so there’s no worries there, 

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Thomas, yes I raked it apart, 

Irondragon, I didn’t use my sprinkler because I put all my coke in a sealed bucket to use next time an I don’t want want to add any wet coke, 

so I normally just take it apart an wait for it all to cool down, 

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Breeze (AKA forge coke) dries out quickly, I used to just shovel the fire into a bucket of water and strain it. It was dry enough to burn the next day. Breeze is MUCH easier to light than commercial coke.

Frosty The Lucky.

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19 hours ago, TWISTEDWILLOW said:

A wash tub could work great to cover my little portable pancake forges,

 but I’m in the process of building a big table forge so when its done I’ll probably start using it primarily an it’s gonna be hard to cover, 

for covering a full sized table forge, I use those sheet metal "driveway saver" drip pans sold at the auto parts store, though I've always found them at garage sales. usually 3x 4 foot or bigger, they cover the whole forge and overhang the edges quite a bit.

I'm currently rebuilding the patio space my smithy has been on for years. The 60 year old corrugated metal roof has rusted through, but the sides are still good. New space on the other side of the yard. 4x4 posts, decomposed granite "floor" goes in today!

Michael

 

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I forged in the open air for my first year or so and used a washtub to cover my rivet forge and a soft rubber one stretched over my anvil. big ammo cans for tools. 

Like others, I got serious and built a 12 x 12 cover but I used corrugated steel for the roof which was by far the biggest expense. This was 4 years ago but the steel was around $120 and i used 4x4 posts and 2x8 rafters (7) 8 sacks of concrete and 4 anchors. The whole thing was around $300. That was then probably 4-5 hundred today - dont get me started-

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I used 55 gallon drums for my smithy walls. They are horizontal with the heads cut out so they double as storage. Self standing, portable, and have held up to 50+ mph winds. They are approximately 8' tall, 10' wide , and 3' thick. The drums were free from a shop I worked at.

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That's a great idea for smithy walls.  One can cram all kinds of stuff in the drums for storage as you said, and, they are fireproof too!!  I would like to make a short stand and use one or two drums for short length stock storage.  Mine are all crammed in a corner of the shop and I have to use a flashlight to sort through them.

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A 55 gallon drum weighs 33# so my walls (18 drums) weigh almost 600# each empty.  I have the tongs separated by type, hammers, extra blowers, vises, metals by type, etc..  One wall I had some pipe pushed through the triangular openings created from offsetting the drums - mine are stacked 5 drums on the bottom, then 4, then 5, then 4. The pipe extends out the back and I used it to rack longer pieces horizontally. To weld them together I used my 8x18 deck over trailer as a welding bench as it was the only flat surface I have - no concrete driveway, just sand and gravel.  Made the first row of 5 and used a metal channel to make them straight. MIG welded where they touched top and bottom. The next course was 4 set into the valleys of the first. I did these one at a time so I could get the welds in the bottom done without moving the wall. Repeat as necessary.  Once done, I used my forklift to stand them up and move them into place.

I believe there may still be some pictures on the show me your shop thread, if they were after the "update" that wiped out the pictures.

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2 hours ago, BIGGUNDOCTOR said:

I believe there may still be some pictures on the show me your shop thread, if they were after the "update" that wiped out the pictures.

I checked that post and the pictures were obliterated in the "update".  Would you mind posting one or two again?  I'd love to see them.

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Arkie, I would have to dig to see if I can find them. I think they are on an old tablet I have that needs a new charging cord. Right now they are stored away in back of the house. I'll pop a couple of pictures if I can get a good view of them. 

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