“Disclaimer: I am no expert, nor do I claim to be an expert on this subject matter. It is something I have always wanted to do. Being the nature of this post, I do NOT recommend building a forge if you are not ready to deal with temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees F. If you follow this guide, do so at your OWN RISK and please take all precautions to prevent injury. I am NOT responsible for any injury or damage done by following this. This is NOT my own forge, but one found by youtuber SwallowForge. I don’t take any credit for his work, and definitely recommend consulting his video guides for further instruction!”
Building a forge is something I have wanted to do for quite a while now. When I was just a young boy, reading fantasy novels and studying history in school, the blacksmith always caught my attention. Never being a man of much money, working hard and crafting fine weapons and armor for many different customers, the honest hard work was always intriguing. As I grew older I started to study the art in a little more detail, but never took it farther than that.
Kick back to about two years ago, my brother-in-law had brought the subject up. He had gotten in to the show Forged in Fire. Of course a show like that caught his interest in it, and being the builder kind of guy he is, he started talking about blacksmithing a LOT! But…it stayed at just that. Talking about it and no action.
Fast forward to a week ago. I was just hanging around, relaxing and being a bum, when all of a sudden some little spark in my brain went off. Right there in my head I just felt a giant urge to take a leap and build my first forge. I started doing a lot of research and came across this video. It’s a very cheap and simple forge, not meant to last long, but decent enough to get you started in the process and help you learn how a coal forge works. Needless to say, modifications can be done to it to improve and make it last longer, but that’s for another post.
For now, to keep things simple and finally start on a life long dream, I stuck to just the basics in the video. All in all, if you shop right and already have the majority of the tools, or someone you can borrow them from, you can build this forge for roughly 30$-40$ at max. It is SUPER cheap, not very safe, but highly effective. It took me a few days to complete for a couple reasons, though reality is it should take no more than an hour or two of hard, focused work.
A List of Supplies:
- About 10ft of wood, cut to 4 sets of 1 foot and 2 sets of 3 feet.
- 1 8 inch x 1 inch diameter non-galvanized steel pipe
- 1 6 inch x 1 inch diameter non-galvanized steel pipe
- 1 shut off valve at 1 inch diamater
- 1 Electric Air Mattress Pump (Battery or Wired, I went with Wired.)
- 2 10mm steel rods (I used rebar, don’t recommend it!)
- 1 steel baking pan 14inx10inx2in (this will fit the frame best)
- Lumpwood charcoal (highly important that you use charcoal and NOT coal.)
- Wood chips/shavings
- A bowl of any sort and a cotton rag
- Screws/Nails/Hammers/Drill Bits for holes.
- Coffee. Lots and lots of Death Wish Coffee!!!!!!!!!!!!
That’s a bit better detailed of a list than the video gives you! It seems like a lot, but as soon as you start piecing it all together it really isn’t too bad. In fact, the most expensive part in the list was, to my surprise, the charcoal. So, let’s go over the process!
First things first, PLEASE make sure to do this step. MEASURE EVERYTHING!! I started this project while my brain was over stimulated by a fat burner pill and coffee and decided to forgo the measuring. Not recommended at all! Fit one of your pipes against the short side of the steel pan, mark it. This will be where you cut a hole in the pan to fit the pipe through. Make sure to have a GOOD DRILL or this part will be long and painful. Get the best and largest drill bit you have and cut in to it. My drill died on me mid-way, so I improvised and used vise grips to pry it open. It didn’t come out pretty, but it functions and that’s all that matters!
Your finished product will look like this:
Ignore the sweat drops, it was very humid, and I was on a strong fat burner! Also worth noting, please wear gloves, unless you literally want a lot of blood and sweat to go in to this project, we can just put a lot of sweat in to it by wearing gloves. I learned this the hard way when my drill died and I had to cut holes in the wood frame by hand.
Next, sorry, I didn’t get a chance to take pictures here (but if you follow the video shared, you will see exactly what I mean) you want to start making your measurements in the wood. Take the pipe out of the pan and line it up with one of the long pieces of wood. Mark the edges where the bars will hold the pan up. Make sure to keep it no more than 1 inch deep. I learned this the hard way, putting it too deep in the frame creates a large risk for the frame itself catching fire.
After you’ve made your measurements of where the holes for the steel rods will be, get a 10mm drill bit and drill the holes. Do this on BOTH pieces of the 3 feet wood! Then you can fit one of the 1 foot pieces to the end of it and use screws to put it in place. The end product will look something like this:
Notice the other two pieces of 1 foot already in there. The back one is very important, as it will serve as the stand for your air supply. The middle is important IF your measurements are correct and your bars aren’t too low. It will be holding a cooling system soon enough. If you mess up measurements the way I did, you will see my workaround for that!
Alright, that is the most important part of the frame. Next, you’ll want to fit some legs. You can get that from scrap pallet wood. I used 2×4’s for my legs. I went with the same system as the video, 2 legs in the back, braced, and 1 leg in the front. It works out very well.
Do NOT over-complicate this. The idea is to get a cheap, quick forge put together to start using and learning how they work. I almost didn’t have this project finished because I started thinking too much. “Well, maybe if I use this instead of that. I’m just gonna look online real quick to see what they about…” and so on! Don’t! Just get this all together, I promise it will be worth it!
You want to be sure to wet the rag AND fill the bowl with water. This is to keep the pipe from becoming too hot and melting/burning other equipment. It seems silly, but it works. As you can also see, because of the pan I got (not paying attention and just wanting to put it together) I had to drill extra holes in it and put the bars through the pan rather than outside of it. This is also NOT recommended! The front bar near the air supply got red hot and is now bent downward. I will need to get another rebar, some extra pipe to extend the air flow more to the center and readjust so the heat is not as near to the bars. As you can also see in the last picture, the wood frame burned. It had actually caught fire once the temperature got really high! This is due to the bars being placed TOO LOW! So I can not stress enough how important it is to MEASURE EVERYTHING. Learn from my mistakes people! My next steps to make this forge last longer are to:
- Add a steel plate to the bottom of the pan to reinforce it.
- Line the inside of the pan with firebrick.
- Put some firebrick along the sides of the frame to prevent burning more.
And that’s about it. All issues aside, it is a FULLY FUNCTIONAL forge, cheap, quick and easy to make! We had thrown a chunk of metal in to test it out and play with it. Needless to say we didn’t quite get it hot enough to reshape it completely, other than create a slight bend. That will be a project for another post soon enough though!
Well, that’s it. That’s the forge. It’s very simple, very cheap and quite effective as a learning tool. Please be careful if you decide to make one yourself. I’m not responsible for your decision to do so!
Until next time…