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I Forge Iron

Preparing a "New" old forge

Mark G

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I got lucky today, I was able to buy an old Buffalo forge with a good blower at a farm equipment auction. I probably paid a little more than I wanted to but, with me living in San Antonio Texas, there's just not a lot of old forges for sale and the bottom line is I'm happy with it.

It's in pretty good shape, I'll probably replace the tuyere (Not a problem thanks to the WagonMan and eBay) and the wooden part of the handle is gone. Still not a problem.

My question is how do you all prepare your forges before you use them? I know there a lot of surface rust that I'd like to remove before I start using the forge. I've thought about using Naval Jelly and the maybe painting or coating it, but I'm not sure what will work best. I wasn't sure what all I needed to do to the inside beside maybe lining it with castable refractory.

Thank you,

Mark G.


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That's a beauty Mark.

If you want to paint it, wire brushing, Naval Jelly and a couple coats of Rustoleum or stove paint will make it pretty.

If the pan says "Clay before using" then you should indeed clay it. Refractory isn't really necessary but fire clay works really well. Ram it in with just enough moisture content to make it bind in your fist with a hard squeeze. If it's sticky it's too moist, if it leaves your hand clean and breaks cleanly it's perfect. Adding some silica sand won't hurt either but isn't necessary.

If it doesn't say "clay before using" you still can but it shouldn't be necessary. However if you elect to not clay it you'll need to use high temp paint. That's why I included stove paint above. You could use header paint but you probably aren't going to get the pan hot enough to cure it and it'll be chalky.

Nice score.


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Congratulations on the awesome find! I live in Corpus Christi,TX-so I feel your pain with finding any "authentic" blacksmithing tools that are still in serviceable shape. The New England states and the Upper Midwest-where a lot of these tools were originally made-seem to have an abundance of available tools. The rest of us have to rely on either getting lucky, paying the freight companies to deliver our internet finds from far away or-as in your case-spending a premium for local finds. Happy forging.:)

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