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I Forge Iron

Garage forge?


Adam Wa

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Hello,

was really wanting to get into the hobby, been looking at anvils and forges and everything else. but before I purchase anything I am worried about my space to forge in. I rented this apartment especially becasue it had a garage. that was my only real reason for getting a garage. the space will work, but the insulation is next to none. my neighbors bedroom is directly above my garage. And the insulation in the whole complex is so terrible I can hear him clear his throat like we are in the same room. my other neighbor's are always in their kitchen and I hear everything. So I can only imagine what an anvil and grinder etc.. are going to sound like. they have rules against using your garage for anything but storing your car. but out of about 30 garages I have only seen 2 people store their vehicle in them. everyone else has a office or storage or a couch in theirs. so the main thing they care about is dont make noise that will disrupt your neighbor's. So I have to go to considerable lengths to make it as silent as I can.

I have read the threads that talk about how to silence the anvil itself. But even then hitting a hammer on it will still cause considerable noise. My idea was to build a room inside the garage. get some 2x6 and frame a room and put 6 inches of insulation in the walls and ceiling and drywall it. I say that like it would be easy, but I have never done anything like that. so I would have to learn how to do that as well. But I am paying through the nose so I could have this garage and start forging. dont want to pay through the nose for nothing. Do you guys think that would work? Or any other suggestions on how I could make it work? The space I have marked out to build in is about 10x9 with a 8.5 feet till the ceiling. only 10x9 because the garage door opener get in the way after that.

Thanks for the read and any help you can suggest.

 

from the front.jpg

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Dear SS,  welcome aboard.  We're glad to have you.  Here are some random thoughts about your situation in no particular order.

Blacksmithing can be an intrusive activity on others, noise, odors/smoke, fire, etc..  Frankly, there are some places where you cannot mitigate the problems enough so that you are not a nuisance.  Places where people are in close proximity such as apartment buildings and condominiums are tough to fit into a craft like blacksmithing.  Woodworking using power tools would be nearly as bad because of the noise.

It is often possible to work out something with your neighbors so that you and they are not competing.  For example, if the neighbor is working or not at home at certain hours when you can be smithing there is your window of when there won't be a conflict.  However, it sounds like you have several close neighbors and that may be difficult to coordinate.

I don't really like the idea of building an insulated box to work in for several reasons, 1) it may not work even with 6" of insulation (you won't know for sure until you try it out), 2) I'd worry a lot about safety, particularly ventilation, a forge can suck up a lot of air whether it is solid fuel or propane and you could easily have carbon monoxide issues.  Even if you want to use and could afford an induction forge I doubt if would work out.  Most induction forges I know of take 240v electrical supply and I really doubt that you have that service in your garage.  3) you want to stay on the right side of the terms of your lease or rental agreement.  Even though others are not sticking to their strict usage agreement  you could be making unnecessary trouble for yourself.  Using a garage in the ways that you describe others doing is not very intrusive, blacksmithing is and can easily get you unnecessary attention.

For the first 10 years or so I was blacksmithing I was living in apartments.  I rented garages or storage units to set up my shop.  There are often storage type units which cater to small businesses, small wood working shops, micro breweries, etc..  I'd check with the local Chamber of Commerce to see if there is anything like that in the Camas/Vancouver area.  

I was able to rent a couple of garages or space in a larger building.  Often seniors would rather have the income from renting their garage, particularly if they are not driving any more.  This works better if it is a detached garage from a house.

It is also possible to rent small industrial spaces or vacant shop buildings.  If you go that way be careful of undesirable neighborhoods and security issues.  You don't want to loose all the tools you have put resources and effort into acquiring.  Thomas can tell stories about security issues in Columbus, OH that he had to deal with.  There is nothing too hot or too heavy that someone won't try to steal it.

You also have to sell people that you will not be a problem.  Calling it "hobby metal working" sounds a lot better than "blacksmithing" which conjurs up images of fire, smoke, noise, and generally undesirable activities.  Be nice and explain how you will be a good neighbor or tenant.

You may also want to check on local zoning and fire codes.  Usually a hobby will not trigger zoning issues but there can be unpleasant surprises such as air quality laws prohibiting anything using solid fuel.

Frankly, the situation you describe does not sound to me like something you can make work.  You may need to look for a different living situation if the craft means that much to you or settle for having your shop geographically separate from your home.  It is not an ideal situation but sometimes we have to work with the situation we have.

Good luck and I hope that you can find something that works out.  Blacksmith has been a craft I have greatly enjoyed for the last 43 years and it has helped me through some tough times.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Welcome aboard SilverShard, glad to have you. Is there a name, nick name, handle, etc. we may address you by that is less cumbersome than your login? 

You have a situation for sure. I won't double down on George's statements they're as true as it gets. I've lived places with rules similar to the ones on your garage space and for the most part they're that draconian to allow the landlord to stop problems quickly up to and including eviction.

Building a small room in the space is just that kind of problem, it's probably a better way of getting out of your lease than a space to practice the blacksmith's craft.

No, unfortunately you can NOT silence an anvil, you can mute them considerably but even the quiet anvils are only quiet compared to loud ones. 

There are quieter alternatives than hammers though, have you considered a hydraulic forge press? There IS motor and hydraulic squeal but those can be damped considerably. Combined with an induction forge and you could have a smithy that fit in a closet. Filing hand grinding and sanding has been done for thousands of years before electricity. Bending, twisting, folding, etc. is all done in a vise with various wrenches. Bench work. 

If you have a washer dryer in your apartment you MAY be able to access 220v ac for an induction forge and hydraulic forging press. 

This IS possible but it's not cheap, not ruinous but not cheap.

Another option that is used by many here in similar situations is have a portable shop. Acquire a small covered trailer that fits in the garage and haul your smithy to a place you can use it safely and peacefully. You can build a propane forge for much less than a minimalist induction forge and an improvised anvil can be had for scrap price or less, forklift tines are top shelf improvised anvils but truck axle or shaft mounted vertically is excellent as well and let's not forget the good old RR rail anvil. Rail mounted vertically is far more effective than horizontally cut and ground to resemble a London Pattern anvil. 

You have obstacles and you'll have to alter your aim to achieve your goal but it's there for you and we'll help.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Ventilation and sound control are pretty much totally opposed. We don't want you to have a totally silent smithy because you died of CO poisoning!  (And yes this is a clear and present danger, especially as winter moves in!)

Are there any "Maker Spaces" when you might be able to have and use a forge?  Any friends that would let you park a portable shop on their place from time to time?

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I forgot another alternative, check with the local NWBA affiliate, many have members who offer open forges for members. You not only get to do some smithing, you have an experienced smith on hand to help and you get to try different pieces of equipment and tools without having to buy them first. 

Believe me, It's MUCH easier and more effective to know how to do a thing BEFORE buying the tools and building the shop.;)

Frosty The Lucky.

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I vote for the trailer forge!
you could paint (Have smithy will travel) on the side! 
plus you could still justify paying high rent for the garage so you can store it, 

Check out jlps posts on her portable trailer  shop, she’s really built an awesome setup!

ive seen a guy an his service dog from northwest Arkansas show up at the cane hill festival for several years before covid shut it down, and he has a trailer smithy that he does demos on, i don’t have any pictures but as I recall it was a fairly simple but effective setup, 

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That does sound better Thomas,

lol I really like that Frosty, I’ll have to remember that one, 

Honestly I’ve thought about building one myself, ive got several old trailers setting around here and I thought it would be a fun project,

but then… I think about building a portable bbq smoker… then I think about building a a welding trailer… then I think about making a float to go in the local parades, the list goes on ect… 

So needless to say I couldn’t make up my mind an never have got around to build anything with one yet lol 

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For the younger/uninitiated, the suggested phrase refers to the business card of Paladin, "Have gun, will travel.  Wire Paladin, San Francisco."  Paladin was the star of the western TV series, Have Gun, Will Travel, 1957-63.  He was a gun for hire played by Richard Boone.  Pretty good show, particularly for the time, good acting, better than average plots.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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You can find "Have Gun Will Travel" streaming on oldy but goody TV and Movie channels. Great show, as kids we used to argue over who got to be Paladin.

An episode of, "Have Gun Will Travel," went a long way towards sparking my interest in blacksmithing. Paladin had been robbed and stranded by bandits, he found an abandoned wagon train and after sparking a fire is able to forge a wagon tire into a blade, makes an atlatl and darts using the knife. Then sets out, hunts the bandits down, gets his stuff back and captures the bandits he doesn't kill with an atlatl dart or the knife.

I didn't want to be a fearsome warrior, I wanted to be able to make what I need from whatever was around. 

How about this one, "Have Traveler, Will Measure."

Frosty The Lucky.

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Hey guys, thanks for all the replies! As for a easier name, my real name is Adam. just used a name I use automatically whenever I create a forum account. Can't seem to change it now though?

I was afraid that you would all say what I feared...and you did lol. I always knew setting a forge up in the garage was a long shot once I heard how thin the insulation was once I moved in, but I was hoping for a miracle anyway.

I did look around my area for local smiths and "makers spaces" unfortunately the only makers spaces are for sewing. The smiths offer knife making classes, but they are charging a hefty price. not that I would not pay for a class, but money is tight right now and I need it to possibly get things going first. Since money is tight I cant really afford to rent out a space for a shop either, since I dont have any tools to really put in it right now. That leaves me with the trailer forge! I must admit the more I think about it, the more fun it sounds. 

Now onto the road blocks:

1. I dont have a truck, I have a 2004 Toyota corolla that has been totaled, fixed, then rear-ended again. my trunk is being held down by a ratchet strap from the inside because it randomly stopped latching last week. so I have to figure out how to get that fixed. The good news here is that a corolla can tow 1500lbs, more than other cars apparently. and 2866lbs if the trailer has breaks. These were just quick google checks but seems to be legit. So I would need to get a tow hitch and a trailer, doable.

2. Covered trailers are crazy expensive. A lot that I am finding are going for 4-5k. I have found some basic trailers for around $750 and $800.

[commercial link removed] Like the size of this better, would fit in a garage, but not to narrow.

[commercial link removed]  much more expensive, but heavier duty.

The plan would be to get a welder and make my transform these into my own enclosed trailer. Or just order a axle and get the steel myself and weld the whole thing together from scratch. might be more expensive. but would be a really fun project and learning experience. I already looked and there is a local steel place you can get stock from. A friend of mine is a welder by profession so maybe he can teach me a thing or two. Added bonus of building it yourself is you get to design from the ground up. 

[commercial link removed] 

 

Well I had more points I wanted to make. but I have been taking 5 hours writing this post. looking at potential trailers, building my own, welders etc. Projects take on a life of their own dont they? its 1:30am and I needed to be to sleep at 10pm lol so I will call this post done for now.

Thanks again for all the replies and help so far, this forum is a gold mine of experience and people. So glad I found it!

 Adam

 

Edited by Mod34
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I’m not sure if your planning on using solid fuel but An option you may think about since your limited on space and funds is to build a portable forge that breaks down so it fits in your car

ive built several pancake forges and the materials can be found free to little cost, they’re durable, light weight and can be built with a little cheapo welder and an angle grinder, 

I built one just this last summer that weighs less than a feed sack and the legs screw off an on, everyone on here chipped in with ideas every step of the way an it turned out awesome, 8765F874-9653-4882-BB6B-A038877029C7.thumb.jpeg.9842215b1ac8b9ca2b5247069b10ac4a.jpegC5C7E011-B5D7-4311-B516-1F7F87485A2A.thumb.jpeg.ddce98131744bfa175af53f7f68f287d.jpeg044B9F08-2E6B-4CA8-A370-8492AA604D5F.thumb.jpeg.97de6f09ef3be5a52fffd799659a273f.jpeg

 

Here some tanks I salvaged that I’m gonna use to build more, and here’s one I started on awhile back that needs finished, E028D8A7-0917-4279-96B9-9AA713B680AA.thumb.jpeg.4461363aaeb21de9e7984210783e216a.jpeg9376BF4B-CE61-44D7-8604-5467428AA185.thumb.jpeg.d19f283cc0df3ba27d0435419da9f4ef.jpegB0E12D6B-7C5E-47C4-9B3D-4E0F77B0089D.thumb.jpeg.23ca6b527b7e3e89b53cd4fd9d0915f8.jpeg8EF66CCC-F293-412D-948B-4E492E1C2A44.thumb.jpeg.36a32c2cba7b575d450dfe836861a221.jpeg

Anyways just a thought, if you decide to go with solid fuel you could make a little forge that could easily break down an fit in your trunk and leave you with plenty of room for all your other portable smithy tools,

that way you could already get to forging while your hunting for a bargain on a trailer

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Considering one IFI member used to tow his equipment with his bicycle to work in a park; you may not need a very fancy trailer.  Of course being on the wet side; having one you can work *in* would be nice!

If you are any good with vehicles; I see junked trailers pretty regularly at the scrap yard.  They range from ones made from a pickup bed to "official" ones that look quite fancy.  I take my forge on the road quite a bit; but as I drive a pickup I haven't needed a trailer---yet.

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On 12/2/2021 at 4:28 AM, Adam Wa said:

The plan would be to get a welder and make my transform these into my own enclosed trailer. Or just order a axle and get the steel myself and weld the whole thing together from scratch. might be more expensive. but would be a really fun project and learning experience. I already looked and there is a local steel place you can get stock from. A friend of mine is a welder by profession so maybe he can teach me a thing or two. Added bonus of building it yourself is you get to design from the ground up. 

Hello Adam and welcome aboard. 

A trailer is a wonderful way to go because then you can literally "nearly" forge anywhere and get paid to do it..  I get paid to demonstrate but that is another thing for another day.  My original trailers were designed to be pulled with old SAAB cars.. 60's and 70's vintage..  A light camper type trailer may go about 500lbs and then another 3 or 400lbs so the weight was not a problem at all. 

At some point I will be making version 5.0 on the trailer..  Next 1 will be all aluminum.. Or nearly, so much more expensive but also no maintenance. 

A trailer does not need to be something fancy to get started.. For the first few years I found a trailer I paid 50.00 for and the next 1 was free. 

Go on CL or FB market place.. There are trailers listed for free quite often and if you are patient there will be one that comes your way.   

The most important aspect to a trailer is making sure your vise and anvil are mounted solidly if you are looking at spending much quality time in there.. 

My knees used to kill after 8hrs in the old version:1,2,3..   

Good luck be looking forwards to the build photos.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Learn to make GOOD welds, not pretty, GOOD, BEFORE you scratch build a trailer. As the original manufacturer YOU will be liable for damages caused by any failure of a trailer you built, even if it's been sold several times and the person who broke it overloaded it 7x. 

It's not something you want to dive into and learn some stuff.

I'd recommend you buy another vehicle, your current one has been damaged right where it needs to be strong. It'll never safely tow near what the book says it's rating is. 

Don't give up the dream but please do it safely.

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 5 months later...

Well I am back. still no trailer. and after doing more research i would like to get a truck so I wont have towing problems at all down the road. But I just found a awesome anvil and had to have it. guy said he had several people willing to drive from Montana and California to get it. It cost me $3200 (yikes) which was literally all my savings. and now I will definitely need a truck to tow it around. It is a 649lb northern German anvil. 

I know I could have gotten a lighter anvil. but I could not pass up this beast. might have to get a lighter anvil to work with in short term. moving this thing around was a pain. got a moving truck and my handcart could not move it. it was rated for 800lbs. then i tried to move it down the ramp inch my inch. got to the ramp and saw that the weight limit was 500lbs. so now I had no to way to get it out of the truck. I had to go to harbor freight and get a 2 ton engine hoist and some heavy chain. finally got it out of the truck. any trailer I build will need to be heavy duty. But I am pretty happy to have this anvil. The seller even gave me a hammer to help get me started for free.

Now I just need:

1. A new to me truck that can tow heavy stuff.

2. a trailer than can handle a heavy load and I can stand up in. seller had a huge welding trailer he made and I could stand in it and have plenty of room to swing a hammer far overhead if needed. was inspiring.

3. get a tank for my welder gas, and all the tools, needed to start actually forging. 

It is a long road ahead. but i am not going to stop. little by little I will get what I need. I was just excited about my find and wanted to share and let you guys know I am still in it.

Adam

 

hanging anvil.jpg

side shot.jpg

Edge chips.jpg

Top shot.jpg

Hammer.jpg

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I'm glad you got what you wanted; but I would have suggested a lot more experience first to know what you needed!  I have a couple of anvils over 400# and they don't get as much hot steel time as my 165# ones.   Of course all my anvils put together cost less than that one you got---just consider it sour grapes as that is a lovely anvil.

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Well plans are still on hold till I can get more funds for now. i sunk my chinch of change into this. If i wanted to go trailer forge, I need a better vehicle like you said in your earlier post. especially since this anvil is heavier than I was expecting to find. i am hoping it is possible to do a forge in a storage unit. but I need to look into it more. would be easier to make one move to a storage unit instead of the much more expensive option of trailer and better vehicle. But to set up I still need to.

1. build a forge

2 get a pair of tongs

get some sort of equipment needed, sander, drill press ect.

If I can work out of a storage unit great. I could put the forge itself outside the unit when working so it would not be inside the building. It will be propane. A storage unit will be a bit further away from people's houses so hopefully the noise will be a lot less. with the chain wrapped around the anvil it killed the ring entirely. but still going to need to build a stand for the anvil. and I read silicone does the same thing for silencing an anvil.

 

Despite everything. I need to wait a bit and pay myself back a bit before I can sink more cash into equipment.

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Afraid you are going to find that most reputable storage facilities will not allow you to have any sort of open flame inside their units, so you might consider how you can creatively setup somewhere else.

Good luck.

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