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Building a forge


Doug Bostic
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So I'm new here. I'm a beginner bladesmith, and I'm looking to build myself a better forge. I have built myself a small paint can forge, but it was really inefficient and poorly made. I made a couple things from mild steel in it, just to get a feel for the whole deal, but I feel the need to upgrade. So I looked around and then drew up some plans for what seemd like a good idea. I was just wondering if I could get some feedback on it. I apologise if it's too big, I tried as best I could.

 

Oh, and it's not exactly to scale, but I included measurements on most things.

 

Forge.PNG

 

Now, onto my question. I have my 'torch tube' (I didn't know if there was another name for it) set at an angle. To me, it seems like this would make sense, as it would (I think) put the majority of the heat right at where one would be working, as I tried to show in the drawing. Am I right? I hadn't seen anyone try it, so I didn't know. Is there a reason for this, or is it just a thing no one's tried? I really would like to know, as I would rather it didn't blow up in my face.

 

As I said before, feedback, questions, comments, ect. are welcome and wanted.

 

Thank you.

 

Doug Bostic

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Hi Doug,

My forge is a horizontal set up, but if you're not aware of it, consider checking out Don's forge and burner building article in his homepage under 'craft'. Should answer a lot of the basic questions, then the sky's the limit on extras.

Take care and good luck, Craig

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Craig,

 

Thank you for your response. Actually, I've checked out Mr. Fogg's page. My forge is actually based upon it for the most part. My big concern is, looking at it and all the other upright propane forges I've found images of, I haven't seen any with the angled torch opening. I figure the rest of it should be just fine, but that still concerns me.

 

Doug Bostic

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In a vertical forge swirl is not so much of an issue, but it can't hurt. You do want to have the burner below the opening. One of the advantages of the vert format is not having the work piece in the direct flame, which cuts down on scale formation. The ceramic floor may be overkill, it's a heat sink so it slows you down getting up to working temps (mine is ready to go in under 60 seconds). I don't use mine for welding, I've got a bigger horizontal forge for that, and it does have a brick floor to resist the effects of the flux, but it takes 15-20 minutes to come up to temp.

 

Other than that, your design seems much like mine, which works great.

 

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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Hey Doug, Sorry about that. I'd definitely consider an angled burner mount to set up the swirl that you show in your pic. I have the parts for a verticle forge that I'd like to put together. For mine, I'm going to try 'bubble alumina' from Darren Ellis for the floor, and I'm planning on 'L' or 'Y' supports instead of tables. I've gotten used to welding on handles instead of tongs, so I prefer a work rest thats out away from the forge for stability. Definitely just rookie comments here.

Take care, Craig

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Thank you both very much for your assistance.

 

Geoff, thanks to what you've said, I'll revise my plans and go with a horizontal burner and shuck the ceramic base. The information about scaling is just the sort of thing that I needed. Craig, speaking as one rookie to another, your encouragement has been a welcome well... welcome. Thank you as well, and I wish you both well in your forging.

 

Oh, actually one more thing.

 

Geoff, if you or anyone else could, could you send me pictures of your burner set up, in an e-mail or something? I'm still a bit lost on how to build one, and I can't afford to buy a good one(High school student).

 

Thank you all.

Edited by Doug Bostic
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As it just so happens, I posted this a while back, and I still have the pics. This is my version of Don's version of a pretty simple design. It's all off the shelf parts, except for the fan mount. Don uses a drilled and welded inlet for the gas in an elbow, I use the "T". I like the fan above the gas inlet, if you should have some kind of power failure the fan will stop, but the gas will continue to flow. If the fan is below the gas inlet, gas will pool in the fan. I had a fan explode (no real damage done, but it scared the *** out of me) under those conditions.

 

 

BrnrExp1.jpg

 

BrnrExp2.jpg

 

BrnrT1.jpg

 

The forge you have designed will also work with a venturi burner, but a blown burner is simpler, IMHO. BTW, the fan shown is WAY more than this setup needs, I've got it choked down to less than 10% of the intake. I run my forge at about 2lb of line pressure and then crack the needle valve about 25%. You can get the needle valves from a propane supplier, but they are cheaper from the folks who supply parts for the big crab boilers.

 

Remember that propane is explosive when mixed with air and is heavier than air, so a leak will cause gas to pool on the floor. These kind of forges also produce CO, good ventilation is a must. Please take care.

 

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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Less is more. A leaf blower is about right for smelting ore. Most of the first forges I saw used old hair dryers. A 100cfm bathroom vent fan works pretty well. Try these guys for bigger fans.

 

http://surpluscenter.com

 

:angry: I can't get the URL button to work, you'll have to do a cut-n-paste.

 

Geoff

 

OK, it does work, it's just automagic.

 

g

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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Doug,

 

This is what I was talking about, I know Kris Skelton uses something like it.

 

http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=prod...&lpage=none

 

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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I have one concern with that sort of fan. It appears that it would be hooked up directly into the area power for a bathroom, meaning no outlet plug. My set up is kind of reliant on that for the moment. Your help has done much for me, and I greatly appreciate it, but I was wonderfing if I had any other options. I've noticed a lot of people have larger blowers, but then have a means to restrict the airflow somehow. Is this an effiecient method, and if so, how is it done?

 

Doug Bostic

Edited by Doug Bostic
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Hi Doug, I think most folks will set up a little larger blower than they need and then use a valve (I have a regular plumbing dept. gate valve) to decrease the air flow as needed. Probably better to turn down a little too much air than to wish or need to have more. I think many of the blower set ups are chosen for quiet continuous running. Please be careful, but instead of conecting a fan directly into wall wiring, a cord with plug can usually be hooked up safely. Don't try it if your not comfortable, but not too many of these things will be available plug and play (you can see the white and black wires in Geoff's nice clear pics). Thanks much Geoff for posting the pictures.

Good Luck, Craig

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Although I don't have a picture of the forge, what I did was weld a box to a handy spot and wire up a switch with a short length of power cord coming out of the box. That plugs into a standard outdoor extension cord. You would do the same thing with a bathroom fan. Learning a few simple wiring, welding, and simple fabrication skills are all part of the craft. Oh, you just wanted to make knives :lol: .

 

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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Learning a few simple wiring, welding, and simple fabrication skills are all part of the craft. Oh, you just wanted to make knives

 

 

Geoff, I know that, and I could do most of the wiring, but it's the welding and such that I haven't the tools to do wich is what's holding me back from learning those things. I'm just trying to work with the tools that I curently have.

 

Craig, thank you. I can easily pick up a gate valve and use that in my burner set up.

 

Doug Bostic

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Doug,

 

I wasn't trying to rude, and I surely understand working with what you have. But this is a kind of jury-rig, make-what-you-need craft and group. I'm not a welder by any means, but I do have a MIG welder which I use kinda like a hot glue gun. For real important welding I go to my Brother-in-law and beg him to do it. Does your school have a metal shop (I know a lot of places don't anymore :( )? I found, before I bought the MIG, that I could line up 3-4 projects, hump them down to a buddy, buy him lunch, and get him to do them as a bunch.

 

For some of what you are doing, bailing wire or zip ties would work. Some parts can be built of wood. Bolting stuff together works. That first forge is the hardest, once it's built, things get easier, and harder, too.

 

Good luck, and keep us posted.

 

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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Geoff, thank you, sir and not to worry, I didn't take offense to your comment. I sadly don't have a shop class at school, otherwise I would go and beg things off of them and get them to do things for me. Part of my worry actually arose from seeing your set up and blower, and then the fact that, after considering it, I felt that I'd rather like that degree of control in the end, anyways. I like the gate valve idea that Craig suggested, but I do have one worry about it on reflection. Is the blower going to have any issues with the fact that so much air is going to be withheld in a confined space? Should I drill exhaust ports in my blower connection or something? I want to get the best items possible, but I'd also like to do it as inexpensively as I can. I'm currently working off of a budget for my blower set up of about $60-70, and I've got an old leaf blower that isn't in use. So I figured if I could use that, it'd save me the 20-30 bucks to go buy something new, that's all. If the consensus is that something else would truelr in the end better provide, I'll shell out the cash. I'd just rather be stingy. :P

Edited by Doug Bostic
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The only thing I would add is that I have built four burners of different sizes using Don's great design. The two I use for general forging are hooked up to 15 cfm (Yes, 15 not 150) Dayton squirrel cage blowers that I got for around 12 dollars each from Surplus Center.

 

They provide more than enough air. In fact, I most often use a 1" pipe burner because I can't get the 1.25" one to run cool enough for general forge work. I forged out a little integral from 5/8" round W1 yesterday, and even with the gas choked way back and a flap covering 90% of the blower I could just barely keep my forge below 2,000 degrees.

 

John

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John,

Thank you. I'll check that out ASAP. Care to tell me how you attached them? I checked the site and it didn't look like there was much in the way of attachment space on them. I'm assuming I can still use a gate valve with them, too. If I'm wrong about any of this, please, anyone, feel free to correct me.

 

Doug

 

EDIT: I found out we've got a old variable speed hair dryer lying about in a box, so I'm planning on using that. Thank you all for your help.

Edited by Doug Bostic
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Doug,

For all these different odds and ends, I'd use as much materials that I had on hand as possible. Your first set up does not need to be top of the line. Just keep an eye out for safety, and as you get more experience, you'll make adjustments and modifications to all your tools and setups. I think working through some of these projects will give you valuable skills for a lifetime.

Take care, Craig

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