Getting Started

Joined
Dec 4, 2004
Messages
290
Hey yall, I'm just getting started in smithing and wanted to know if any of you had any ideas on how to make a forge on a $200 budget. The tools really aren't a concern, and I can make the air supply pretty easily, but the forge is presenting a problem. Everywhere I look, people are saying brake drums, but, due to certain limitations and reacurring problems that I've heard of, it sounds like a bad Idea. Should I go with the brake drum, or is there something else I could use or make.
 
Joined
Nov 24, 1999
Messages
4,981
Yep I gotta agree with IG, :eek: (don't tell him, his head might swell ;) )

Go with a gas forge. There are lots of plans and pictures on Darren Ellis's website:
http://refractory.elliscustomknifeworks.com/
He can fix you up with the lining material as well. Great quality and service, and good prices to boot.

I made my forge out of an old propane tank. Its probably not the safest project but I don't think you face any great harm if you think about what your doing and take some precautions (I'm talking about cutting up a propane tank, building the forge is pretty easy)
I never bothered to do the exact math but I'm pretty sure I came in under $200, even having to buy a propane tank (the tank I cut up had the old stly valve and wasn't legal to fill), regulator and all that.

Here is my forge:
http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=308343&highlight=compact+forge

There are some things I would change if I were doing it again, but it works very well for the most part. I have added a blower since that thread. Actually its a little craftsmen shop vac thats built so you can switch the hose and have it blow instead of suck :D I used a 90 degree elbow and 2" ball valve to hook the shop vac hose right to the back of the burner. The ball valve lets me adjust the amount of air flow so that I get a good flame that doesn't scale too badly. Forge burns a good bit hotter now, and no chugging no matter how windy it is.Before it would burn really well, but strong winds would make it less consistent.
 
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Dec 4, 2004
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290
How much does the propane cost generaly, and how long does it usually last.

Thanks for the suggestions
 
Joined
Nov 24, 1999
Messages
4,981
I don't remember what it costs to get a new propane tank. It depends on the size. I use a 20 lb tank like you'd put on a grill with an exchange program the local gas station has. I can swap an empty tank for a full one for $14.95 or something like that. Right now I'm right at 1 tank a year but thats going to increase as I wasn't really forging anything before the last couple months.

Alot of times if you can find a good supply company you can get a 100 lb tank which is a lot more economical to have filled. I don't have room for one though :grumpy:

The most expensive part of my forge was the regulator and plumbing for the propane. I went ahead and let the guy at Valley Natural Gas put it together for me, he put a gauge on, needle valve and had all the fittings I needed to hook it to my burner. Totalled $80, which is a lot more than you'd pay buying all the peices individually online, but he saved me a ton of time rounding up parts,and I knew it was put together right that way :D
 

Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

ilmarinen - MODERATOR
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Aug 20, 2004
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Having done both,I agree with the others that gas is the way to start.There are bunches of tutorials on building one.I would build a blown forge,it will be what you want soon enough.
SA
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2004
Messages
44
I built a Reil burner and a freon tank forge.

Detailed burner instructions:
http://metalcast.boorman.us/reil_1.html
Burner stuff:
http://www.reil1.net/Forge1.shtml#Propane
Forge instructions:
http://www.reil1.net/minifor1.shtml

I bought the burner parts at a local Ace Hardware (an extra big one), hoses and regulator at the same Ace (the most expensive parts), and the forge lining at a local ceramics suply store. The freon tank came from a local auto shop (used-up and free). I would also very, very much recommend Goddard's $50 Knife shop. You can get started with a one brick forge ($2 if you already have a Bernzo torch) and a piece of RR track (free find and $20 to get cut to length and drilled for mounting at a welding shop).

I never tried coal, but propane has been very easy for me to use, and I've made 3 knives and I think used about 1/2 of a 20 lb tank (about $7 worth of propane?).

-Will
 
Joined
Dec 4, 2004
Messages
290
I've heard that a blower causes the dragons breath effect, and shale, should I still go with one?
 
Joined
Nov 24, 1999
Messages
4,981
A blower can can cause really bad scaling. Thats why I put ball valve in. You want it to burn a little rich so it doesn't oxidize so bad. The thing about a blower is you get constant pressure and consistent air flow. When I just had a venturi burner, it would burn very well until you got a strong wind. Then you'd get some back pressure and it wouldn't breathe as well. Now I have it tuned for the best flame, and its consistent. You have a lot more control with a blower.
 
Joined
Dec 4, 2004
Messages
290
well, down to the last thing- did yall spend the HUGE ammounts of money on an anvil, the cheapest i have found was $400 for a 50lb.
 

Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

ilmarinen - MODERATOR
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Shop some more! That is a high price to pay.A Harbor Freight anvil can work for a starter,for 50-70 bucks..If you shop around,check old machine shops,and scrap dealers,you should be able to find a 100 Lb. reasonable quality anvil for about 100-200 dollars.
SA
 
Joined
Nov 24, 1999
Messages
4,981
I haven't done much forging, some hoofpicks, letter openers, and shaping a couple pairs of spurs, but I'm doin it on a peice of railroad track I borrowed (or stole ;) ) from my dad. Don't know who he "borrowed" it from :D
Its very far from the best but its something to pound on until I find a good deal on a good anvil.
 

Mark Williams

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Nov 28, 2000
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4,760
Nah, Those are Junk Peter. Go to a scrapyard and find yourself an A.L.O. (anvil like object). take a hammer with you and test out some big hunks of steel. I found a 4 x 24 x 8" section of steel for $23 . Sink it in a stump and go to town.
 
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