The extremely poor man's forge(pics)

Aug 12, 2000
Here is a quick picture guide to making a dirt-cheap/free forge that works fairly well.

Basically I have longed to get back into blacksmithing, but I needed something the city can't force me to take down. I needed supplies so I went down to the local creek and scavenged bricks that wash downstream from landfills upstream, and I got one small bucket of clay too. Then I also gathered some gravel dust from the street at the end of my alley. Then I looked for a spot and found one, took the materials over there and made a plan. So then I built this adjacent to my fire pit:


Then I got it going with some old pieces of pine and whatnot.


Then I got the blower going


Soon after I worked a piece of rebar on my anvil(hahaha) to test it out.


Well, burning pine I got a consistent cherry heat to my 1/2" steel rebar, but when I threw some hard maple in there I got a bright red, though if I had kept using more of that as the forge heated up I think I could have gotten forge weld temps with it, you shoulda seen the fire and heat this thing was giving off. The forge has roughly the same footprint as a brick mailbox, and the firepit itself is about 12 inches long by 6-8 inches wide. The blower blows in from one side of the firepit and the whole thing is lined with hi-silica clay. As I fired the whole thing carefully at first(the first 500 degrees after it dries MUST go slow, use charcoal briquets and no blower!), and then fired it very hot after it passed the critical point. The clay lining the top fell apart in a few places, but that doesn't matter cause there is still brick above it. Overall it is pretty good for a free forge :)
Looks like a winner to me. Just goes to prove you don't have to be fancy to get hot. I saw a picture once of a fellow in India making Kurkas. He was sitting on the ground, if front of a hole in the ground full of burning charcoal with a hair dryer in his hand.

If it gets works.
It's good to know that with a little determination and some ingenuity a set up like this can be made almost anywhere. Looks like it will work for you!
Danger Will Robinson Danger!

Man if any you guys are thinking about buying a forge, don't let your wife see this.:eek:

Dangus, it is cool, make a bit of charcoal to go with it, it willl work a bit better:)
You are too cool!! I love the blower (old vacuum?) it looks like something from "Dune". OK, next installment we want to see product! Make a knife outa this rig and post a pic!!


Thanks guys.

I wanna run some charcoal out of there, but right now my blower is way too psyco for that. It blows uber hard lol. Maybe I will make a relief valve to cut down the pressure or something. I think I'll throw a piece of 5160 in there and see what I can make :)
Notice the design though....

See as I figure it's built roughly like a brick mailbox right? So the potential of this design to look pretty good is there, but you have to use new bricks and real mortar to make that happen. I think though that this could become a very snazzy setup with a bit of money :) For me right now it works though :e
If you want a cheap and good damper for the old vacume, cut the hose back from the forge, get a PVC ball valve the size as the hose and glue it to the hose. Works like a charm. I use a Brass ball valve on one of the propane burners I made and it works like that's what it was made for.