Our hardest and least successful project. Not from lack of knowledge or effort, but lack of funds. Sadly, because it would have been awesome.
I think this was one of the first in a long series of projects, each leading into the other. Forging is something that had always had a strong appeal to the both of us. The ability to twist metal to our desires, one of the earliest forms of industry, a craft that started the western world on it's path to conquest.
We knew the first thing we needed was an anvil, and although we had never actually attempted to find one, it had always been the biggest obstacle - we assumed it would be difficult to find/buy one. It turned out they sell them on harborfreight for about a dollar a pound. So we bought the cheapest one, as best I can remember it was 55 lbs or so. Once we knew we could obtain the anvil easily, we had to build the forge proper. All we knew was it needed to be hot. So we did some research, and came up with the design below. The construction materials are listed below.
e didn't have easy access to firebrick, so we just used regular cinderblocks (CMUs if you prefer the more technical term), since we figured “ah bricks = ceramic = heat resistance, whatever”. We were wrong, quite wrong, but more on that later. The pipe used is simply a 1“ diameter, 3' long, black enameled/whatever pipe, bought at Lowes. Most of our basic supplies were bought there. Kind of expensive, but convenient.
- # cinderblocks
- 1” x ~3' pipe
- hair dryer (air supply)
The gravel we bought from a local garden supply store, I believe it was around a cubic yard for $60 or so. We dug a the (see below) hole, dumped some gravel in, laid the pipe down, put the bricks down, and voila!, a forge. This is the first version, and the most effective (heat-wise at least) that we created. The biggest problem with this design is that the heating area for the piece is very small. If we were to do this again (at least if we had more funds), the design would be very different. Again, as said above, the biggest problem with this project was the lack of money.
Now we get to the crux of the matter. Bending metal to your will. Now this is much more difficult than you would expect; for example, the best thing we managed to make were nails. We attempted some tongs, which “worked” (in that they hinged and moved), but any attempt to actually use them made them fall apart. The tools we most missed were: vices, tongs, and proper gloves and blacksmithing hammer. See blacksmithing.
For air supply, attach the hairdryer to the end of pipe that lies outside the forge. We rigged something with tape and half of a water bottle. Figure it out.
Fuel is charcoal from lowes. Not the shitty “charcoal” bricketts, but actual expensive (~$6 per bag) cooking charcoal.
Here're a few videos we took way back in the first few days of running the forge. They aren't very impressive, but they are kind of neat to look back on. This version of the forge was mostly above ground and was accelerated by none other than a leaf blower. This is the forge that, essentially, cooked itself.