February 01, 2006

Looking for a Forge

I need a forge, be it coal, propane, natural gas - whatever! Since I am trying to get started "on a shoe-string," I will probably have to make a coal forge from the scrap that I am selectively gathering. As a side note, I try very hard not to take home something that I can't use. When I ran across some 3 to 4 foot long 2x4 lumber, I asked around work and gave about 18 sticks away to a friend who was renovating their house. I don't want to be wasteful, but I also don't want to fill my shop with so much stuff that I can't do any work.

Anyone who has read my earlier posts knows that I have been scrounging. That is a good thing, as alot of this stuff would be thrown away, and contributing to the landfills of our consumption-based materialistic society - don't get me started. My brother tipped me off to my latest "find" - a business had closed down, and they were renovating the insides. Actually, they were gutting the shelves and display areas. My brother received permission to take all he wanted: a wire security cage, plywood, 2x4, pressed board shelving, metal shelf arms and wall strips, wall-mounted electrical strips, 2 outlet electrical boxes and laminated shelves. We had to pull the stuff over one weekend, since the wrecking crew were coming monday, and they would be smashing instead of pulling every screw and nail. We probably pulled 40+ 2x4s, 120+ shelf brackets, 6 electrical strips, 12+ electrical boxes and a few pressed board shelves. That is cool and all, but none of this really contributed to my immediate forging goals.

I found some square tubing and angle iron (in the form of a shed door) in the brush behind my house (I haven't had time to clean up my land yet.) I'm thinking about cutting it up to make legs for a coal forge, or maybe a work bench.

I will probably not build a concrete block and brick forge - just too bulky. I might make a brake drum forge, or just use the plans from "Forge & Anvil" - a wheelbarrow pan with fire brick, fire clay and a wooden frame. I have some 2x4 wood scraps that would work fine, but no fire brick or fire clay. Lowes has a tiny plastic container of fireplace repair mortar - maybe 8 ounces. Any kind of coal forge will need a firepot, a tuyere, and a blower. The blower might end up costing me a few dollars if I have to buy it off of ebay. I am hoping to use some pipe and a home-made grate to make a poor-man's tuyere. I would love to find some 10 to 12 inch stove pipe so I could position the forge inside my shop, rather than at the door.

In other news, I have been looking for charcoal making instructions on the web. I'll share my findings with you in a future entry.

IForgeIron.com had a tip: Flexible metal dryer vent can be used for the air supply connection to the forge. We'll see.

A fellow member of SCABA is going to loan me a coal forge for a few months! Now all I have to do is go visit him.

Update: A mechanic friend mentioned that I should be VERY careful with brake drums, since brake pads may have asbestos in them, and the asbestos embeds itself into the drum. Let's hope you find a drum with Kevlar pads. I don't have specific safety recommendations for you, but use a tight-sealing air mask when handling and cleaning your brake drum!