I’ve been interested in blacksmithing for a while. Before I start hitting any metal, I decided to build a simple forge from some fire bricks and some plumbing fittings. Come see how you can make one too. I know I don’t have the right tools for blacksmithing, but this is my first step.
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I love watching blacksmiths work, and to begin a journey down the blacksmithing rabbit hole, I am building a simple propane forge. I’ll show you how to make one for yourself, but be advised, use caution around gas or fire.
To prevent the fiery flame from burning everything down, it needs to be enclosed in a forge. The forge is simply a super-hot oven. There are a few options for the forge’s structure and insulation materials. For our forge, I am using fire bricks that are 1.25″ thick. I arranged the tiles into a rectangular box with an opening at the front. To cut one of the bricks to fit into the rear box space, I used a masonry cutting disc on my angle grinder. I also cut some of the brick in half to create smaller, moveable doors for the front opening.
To give strength to the loosely stacked bricks, I decided to weld together a border of 90-degree angle iron around the brick structure. I wanted to make sure that the welded frame didn’t prevent me from being able to change out the fire bricks in the future if they begin to breakdown. The frame really helped solidify the forge and it gave some rigidity to the “front porch” area that is meant to hold the longer pieces of metal not being heated.
The burner is the real heart and soul for this project; the oven would just be a box with the heat source. There are a lot of videos on YouTube showing how to make forge burners, and I watched most of them. I made this burner in the style of all of those using readily-available plumbing components. The burner assembly is made of a high pressure regulator similar to the one you’d use on a grill, a steel pipe and a custom nozzle that blows the propane into the pipe while mixing with air.
I made the custom nozzle by drilling a tiny hole into a brass square plug fitting. I knew at the time that the hole may have been too big, 1/16″ bit was the smallest one that I had. When lit, the fire burned blue with some residual orange flames. Apparently, this indicates that there is an inefficient fuel burn. I replaced the nozzle with a MIG welder tip and adjusted the placement inside the pipe and the fire was much more consistent and the metal inside the forge got much hotter.
It was so satisfying that I had a box of super hot fire that can heat up metal! I was super impressed with the fire bricks and their ability to retain the heat inside the forge. I was told by my good friend Alec Steele that the piece of metal was ready to be worked with a hammer once it turned a bright yellow color. It took my forge a little while before the metal got to the correct temperature, so I’m sure there is more dialing in to be done.
Obviously, I’m no expert metalworker. I am super excited about learning how to blacksmith and learning what tools and equipment that I need to be successful. I love learning new skills and increasing my ability to make different kind of things. If you are interested in blacksmithing, check out the wealth of knowledge online.
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