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Which forge to go with?


glador singleton

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So I have been reading books and watching many videos on all the fundamentals of bladesmithing, but I don't really know what type of forge to use. I was thinking of going with a brake drum, but after reading some people say that gas is better. I just need some opinions and some ideas to get started with the craft.

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First, where are you?  If you are in a place where solid fuel is inexpensive, you might want to start there.  OTOH, a gas forge is pretty cheap to build and run, and, once you get your fuel/air mix figured out, a gasser is fire and forget.  So if you have limited time to spend on the craft, you can spend it screwing up some steel (my favorite pass time) rather than learning fire management skills.

As an example, I can go to my forge, light the fire, find a piece of steel, and be forging in 5 minutes (which includes the fight with the blackberries to get to my propane tank,  I really need to get the weed wacker back there.)  I can also take a break for lunch and be back working in no time.

Just my .02

Geoff

Edited by Geoff Keyes

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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I have experience with coffee can forges and I'll say that a larger one is better.  You can't have much of a hole in a coffee can forge and they also tend to have a hot spot right where the gas comes in.  Also if you are going to try to use a torch to fire the thing you will find yourself being restricted by the small fuel supply and you will  quickly end up with a bunch of empties to discard.

What I'd recommend is that you use nothing smaller than a 5 gallon paint can lined with two layers of 8# ceramic fiber matting.  Use at least a 10# propane tank as a fuel supply.  For a burner you can go with a venturi or a blown burner.  A blown burner will give you more control.

Doug

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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Also, that coal at Tractor Supply is anthracite, not smithing coal.  It can work, but it's not really what you want.  I am a coal burner, but I have to agree gas is much easier and cleaner.

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I don't know who started that plaster and sand nonsense, but that's what it is.  The fiber blanket is what you want, topped with a 1/4" to 1/2" layer of real refractory like Satanite, Mizzou, etc.  For a small forge it doesn't make much difference if you use 8lb or 6lb fiber.  Wayne at hightemptools.com sells all this stuff in small quantities just for folks like us.

As for sawdust, anything flammable in a forge is just a bad idea period.

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I'll have to look, but there are probably a few local (or at least semi-local) smiths you can talk to about the pros and cons, and maybe let you try theirs. Also, look at the ABS website for their lists of smiths. You might find some in your area that way. I know there are at least a few in the Shreveport area you could reach out to who might know someone. This is a pretty close community.

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On 6/19/2017 at 2:50 PM, Mike Andriacco said:
On 6/20/2017 at 10:21 AM, Mike Andriacco said:

I'll have to look, but there are probably a few local (or at least semi-local) smiths you can talk to about the pros and cons, and maybe let you try theirs. Also, look at the ABS website for their lists of smiths. You might find some in your area that way. I know there are at least a few in the Shreveport area you could reach out to who might know someone. This is a pretty close community.

 

I found a smith in Covington and I'm going to see him next monday. We kinda have a tropical storm in Louisiana right now.

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On 6/18/2017 at 5:46 AM, Alan Longmire said:

Also, that coal at Tractor Supply is anthracite, not smithing coal.  It can work, but it's not really what you want.  I am a coal burner, but I have to agree gas is much easier and cleaner.

I ended up just going with a simple brake drum forge for now. Will charcoal be better than the coal from tractor supply?

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If by charcoal you mean briquettes, then no.  If you mean wood lump charcoal, then yes, but be prepared to burn a lot of it.  You also need to make sure it's close to uniform size chunks, or the fire will be uneven and hard to control.  You can even burn wood, but again, uniform size pieces and a lot of it.

 

Geoff 

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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