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Downsizing, are smaller gas forges a better option.


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Hello friends, it's been a long time since I've inquired anything here on the forums.  The recent situation of real work totally killed any forge time I've had over the past year and a half. However things are finally looking better and overtime is easing up.  I've reviewed some of my home shop set up and have looked at ways to set up and work smarter if that's possible. 

 

My original forge is a 3/4 venturi burner and the chamber of the forge is about 4in in diameter by 10in long. Originally I thought this was a good size but as I worked with it over the few years I noticed its limitations.  95% of the time, I'm using about 1/10 of the forge chamber for what I do.  I don't work on anything bigger than 1in and most of my work is in the 3/8 stock size.  I do work about 6 things at one time (a batch of hooks, or a batch of this or that.) The most frustrating thing over all is not to be able to work on anything that is bigger than the 4in opening.  Not a problem if I was just making knives, but scroll work gets limited, I can't work big sheets of steel in it, hooks hook other hooks and get stuck in it.  

 

I mostly make art pieces, and I've attempted a few axes out of that forge.  I've gone through Wayne Coe's forge design, and understand it's versatility however I'm thinking about smaller than 20lb propane tank maybe even smaller than Freon tank. I'm still thinking that a 4in chamber is good, maybe a little too big for most of what I do.  I am pretty dead set that the next forge I plan on would have to have a pass though design as well as a slit up the side of about 2in and maybe 5in in length over all.  A "C" or clam shell design, I think that design would allow me much more versatility in what I can make size wise.  I've always been set on getting to the point of making furniture pieces of wood and steel.

 

I would need this forge for just that, forge work not welding.  I have a spare 3/4 venturi burner which I can switch mig tips in but would this be too big a burner?  Anyone have ideas on smaller gas forge designs that have that slit up the side?

 

Other than building another gas forge, induction was always on my mind - I see it's potential.  I don't know enough about it's running cost, durability of the electronics, or if buying into another set up is where I want to focus my funds.

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Little forges are great for small stuff, but if you need to do bigger things, you have to have the volume to do it, that's just the way gas forges work. Your 4" chamber is needed, just to allow the lining to radiate the heat back at the steel. I like the idea of the clamshell types for architectural work where you need a large bend, or for forging sheet.  I've even seen a two-piece forge for working armor in which both halves have a small ribbon burner and the top can be raised or lowered by a foot pedal.  Then there's the big hard-brick Johnson gas hog trench forges, but they aren't called gas hogs for nothing.

 

Anyway, for the size you're thinking, a 3/4" venturi with an 0.035" MIG tip should be great for general forging. 

 

From what little I know of induction, the ones they used to sell for hobby smiths are too small to do furniture-sized pieces.  The power supply limits the size of the coil, and the three I've played with, two sold by Kayne and Son (now blacksmithdepot.com) and the exact same thing our own John N. was selling in England, run off a TIG power supply and limit you to a maximum 1" round bar and about three inches of heat.  Plus if you slip and touch the coils they short and blow a fuse.  But they are pretty much magic for small stuff. You can make a flattened coil that would be fun for small sheet steel, but I don't know enough about how they work to be of any real help.

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I suggest the design on my web site rather than with a slit down the side.  With my design you can have the sides closed to conserve and contain the heat but also can open the side up if needed or even raise the top so that both sides have openings.  You can even raise the top as much as needed and block the sides with fire brick.

If the Freon tank is to large for your desires you can add an additional layer of Inswool before casting.

 

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you can go super small, one of my forges is a bean can with a squashed down layer of kaowool. i need to make little doors to keep the heat in better but it work fine for hunting knives and things that size. i can heat treat 6" of blade but more than that can be tricky. i have an atlas 30k burner that also works fine for my freon tank forge, propane seems to last forever, i dont do much forge welding so i can get 20 or more hours out of a 20lbs tank of gas with the freon tank. a smaller burner would be nice for the bean can forge.

 

its nice to have some wiggle room but you can make a few forges in different sizes for cheap, i have a separate thingie that holds the burner so the forges are just cylinders with a few holes in them.  

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14 hours ago, Wayne Coe said:

I suggest the design on my web site rather than with a slit down the side.  With my design you can have the sides closed to conserve and contain the heat but also can open the side up if needed or even raise the top so that both sides have openings.  You can even raise the top as much as needed and block the sides with fire brick.

If the Freon tank is to large for your desires you can add an additional layer of Inswool before casting.

 

 

I don't know why it hasn't occurred to me that with your design the forge I can just lift the lid as I would a grill.....    Now I also plan to have the burner come in on a tangent similar to the one I've already built. It's mounted to ride the ceiling of the forge so that it's heat is nice and even, should I consider a different mounting this time around,  Maybe horizontal?  A nice even heat is nice, but not necessary for my type of work.

 

I have enough supplies (wool and refractory) from my last forge to build a second one of the same size, but smaller is looking better to me.  Hopefully run less gas for the fun I need, maybe.  Depending on work and situations, this might be my winter time project. 

 

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