Well, after literally years of saying I was going to do this whole smithing thing, I've done my first thing. I am starting from the very beginning, with pretty much no budget. Here's the breakdown. Be kind if you comment as I don't really know what I'm doing. I also realize that some of the things I'm doing may not be quite safe, but balancing risk is part of life. Lastly, please don't hesitate to comment and share your knowledge, experience and criticism; I have thick skin.
The plan: My father in law donated an old propane tank that I'll be using as the body for a gas forge. I was going to go with atmospheric venturi type burner but yesterday I heard about these ribbon burners and so I'm researching that now. What I've taken away so far is that they are more expensive to build but more efficient, which appeals to me. I also want to see if I can get away with NOT using a ceramic wool blanket and go 100% poured refractory. That wool stuff scares me.
What I've done so far: I don't have any tools to speak of starting out.
The tank my father in law donated was empty and I did my best to make sure of that by opening it up and using a screwdriver to open the valve, but I didn't want to start cutting on it until I had gotten that valve unscrewed from the tank. I had a 9" prybar, hammer and cheapo Kobalt vice grips. No way to secure the tank, and nothing to secure it to anyway. After trying to get the valve off for an hour or so I decided to add more risk to the equation and broke out my drill. I very slowly drilled a hole in the top of the tank near the bottle neck and filled the tank with water. Next I cut the collar around the valve (handle?) off with a 20 year old dremel I bought while I was still in high school. This took quite a while and I broke a few cutting wheels. At this point I called it a night, drained the tank and let it sit overnight upside down.
After spending so much time with the dremel the previous night, today I broke down and bought an angle grinder. After getting permission from my wife, we all went over to Lowes and I picked up a DeWalt DWE 4011 for 59 bucks. Also got a 4 1/2" cutting wheel and 80 grit flappy sandy disc. There was also a grindstone that came with the DeWalt in the box. That pretty much blew my monthly budget for this venture but Holy Hand Grenades an angle grinder made things so much easier! First thing I did was cut the valve out. then I finished breaking the base down and ground the welds down smooth where the base and collar were attached. By then my back was starting to really protest so I tested out the flappy sandy disc and quite for the night.
That's it so far. I plan on saving up a little cash for some wood to build a workbench, as right now I'm basically sitting on my driveway with this thing between my knees. I'm at a point now where I have to figure out what I'm doing with the tank before I cut any further. I don't have any welding skills or a welder, so I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to anchor the refractory to the wall of the forge. How big of an opening do I need? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?
All in all, it feels great to have started. I'm not far but I'm miles ahead of not started at all.