Jump to content

It has begun. Finally. (Forge build)


Recommended Posts

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.

 

10/3/2020

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.

 

10/4/2020

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.

 

 

IMG_20201004_170508.jpg

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the club brother!!! I too am a newb to all of this but I've found that the beginners place has a ton of great questions asked with all of them having great answers. the thread "psst newbie, wanna build a propane forge?" is a little gem I think you'll find particularly helpful. I started off with just a bunch of fire bricks and a tiger torch. its rough and inefficient but it affords me the opportunity to practice.

 

Cheers!!

Steve

Link to post
Share on other sites

Why are you afraid of the ceramic wool? fibers etc?  As long as you coat the blanket and seal it the wool is relatively safe to work around.

 

Making a forge of just hard refractories will make a forge that is a huge pizza stone. It will take a lot of energy to get it hot, and once it is it will stay hot for hours after the burner is off.

 

There is a ton of info on building a forge in the pinned topics section and a lot of links. I suggest before you go too far into the build read through all those threads. (learn from my mistakes in building a forge) Don't skimp on the insulation materials, trying to substitute them will make a less efficient forge.  

 

Angle grinders are nice, a stick welder will also help a lot, But you can also bolt stuff together just as well.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Did not get any work done on the forge today but I have been reading the suggested pinned post by Steve and Dan, thanks guys!

 

Daniel, I have seen a few forge builds with the wool on youtube and I've noticed some folks spray it with blue stuff and some coat it with castable refractory. All I really know about it at this point is its carcinogenic and I want to build the safest forge I can as I'm going to have my 8 year old in the shop with me some of the time. I'll keep reading up on it.

 

I'll keep an eye out for a stick welder too, it may be cheaper to build a workbench from iron than wood these days! Just kidding.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not carcinogenic at all, it's just an irritant dust after firing.  Once you coat it it's completely inert. Before it's fired it's no worse than fiberglass insulation.  It's also the best insulation available, which makes for a more efficient forge, which means both more forging time and lower propane use.

If you line the whole thing in castable with no wool, you won't be at forging heat until it's been running for half an hour.  After forging for an hour or two, once shut down it will be a fire hazard for another two hours and a burn hazard for four.

With two inches of wool and a skim coat of castable you'll be forging in five minutes and it'll be cool enough to touch half an hour after shutdown.

And I repeat: it is not a carcinogen.  We have a couple of threads about that around here somewhere. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

The blue stuff, may be an actual ridigizer that makes the wool stiff and not pliable.   If we have looked over the same videos you might have seen "water glass" or cement sealer (sodium sillicate?) used as a glue to glue the wool to the forge walls.  Not really needed. 

 

General rule of thumb for gas forges is 2" of wool (2600F rated), and then a castable refractory to give the wool more durability.  I've worked with many guys over the years that did not coat their forges, and after one day of welding it's torn to shreds.

 

A lot of the materials you will not find at a local big box store, don't fall into that like I did.  However If you have any pottery supply stores or glass blowers in the area you're on the right path.  And blacksmiths are everywhere look to see if you have a local club in your area. In fact in one of the Carolina's there's a trade school that is pumping out blacksmiths. 

Edited by Daniel W
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for clearing that up guys, I feel much better about the blanket!

 

My wife has posted on an app called Next Door (some kind of local neighborhood version of facebook) that I'm looking for a workbench. So hopefully someone has one in their garage taking up space that they don't want anymore. I'll let you guys know when progress has been made. 

 

Thanks again for all the responses! 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...

Got one of those 66lb cast steel anvils off of amazon. Should be here tomorrow. Also stopped by our local Agri Supply store and picked up a 3lb cross peen. I'll have to take an angle grinder to it to dress it. The workbench situation is semi solved, I'm using a kitchen table that will be serviceable and I'll probably pick up a cheap bench vise off of amazon or the agri supply. Pretty soon I'll be smithing!

Link to post
Share on other sites

You can build a 2x4 frame and top it with plywood (or more 2x4's) and that will serve you better than an old table.  If you have a free wall, you only need the 2 front legs, the wall side can be attached directly to the wall.  If you don't have the tools, well, that's an excuse to buy some.  A skill saw and a drill/driver are pretty much all you need.

Geoff

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure where in NC you are, but we're very fortunate to have active ABANA chapters across pretty much the whole state. The web site is not up to date but it lists some of the chapters at https://www.ibiblio.org/nc-abana/regional_groups.html There is a lot of expertise and sometimes useful stuff for sale at the meetings.

 

Michael

Link to post
Share on other sites

Congratulations on the anvil! I've been very curious about those amazon anvils since I seen some reviews on them.  

 

Beware of the 3lb hammer, that weight is a little heavy for most who start out.  See if you can find a hammer that is 2-2 1/2lbs.  The HF stores carry them if one is around you, if not, ball pen hammers come in a verity of weights and are not hard to find.  Make sure the grip is comfortable for you, over gripping causes some pain. 

 

As for a vise, get 2, get a big vise (a leg vise if you can or plan for it down the road) and one of those little vises that clamp to a 2x4.  The little 2x4 vise I have I found in a trash can and have found it to be one of the most useful things I own. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah the 3lb is a bit heavy. I'll probably get a 2lb when I can find one. Truth be told, I've never faced a hammer before so that 3lb might be 2 by the time I'm done with it! :D Got the vise mounted and I'm ready to dress that anvil and face my hammer. That little cross peen leaning on the anvil was in the box with the anvil as a freebee. The "workbench" is solid wood, seems like it will be sturdy enough for now.

IMG_20210113_224508.jpg

Edited by Michael Walker
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/11/2021 at 10:22 AM, Michael Stuart said:

I'm not sure where in NC you are, but we're very fortunate to have active ABANA chapters across pretty much the whole state. The web site is not up to date but it lists some of the chapters at https://www.ibiblio.org/nc-abana/regional_groups.html There is a lot of expertise and sometimes useful stuff for sale at the meetings.

 

Michael

Hey Michael, I did contact Steve a while back but the meetings were on hold because of some virus that was going around. Have you been to any of the Charlotte meetings recently? I'm in Indian Trail btw.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...