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Thread: A couple questions for those that "forge"

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    A couple questions for those that "forge"

    Years ago, I taught "shop" and had a regular commercial gas fired forge - had my kids do small projects like make scratch awls out of 1/4" cold roll - draw to a point, twist the shank and forge a round eye. Had a lot of un with it.

    So . . . I'm retired and would like to try forging some steel trigger guards out of 1/8" thick cold roll for use on muzzleloading rifles - I like plain, simple southern style rifles.

    I have looked at gas fired forges - flabbay, etc. - and don't want to tie a lot of money up for just a few triger guards or possibly a butt plate or two. I have a small anvil that will e adequate or what I'm looking at doing, a good five and future I can make some simple jigs out of flat stock and bolts, etc. for making the hands I wanto.

    My question is on a heat source for heating the metal before forfing. I recently switched from casting in an iron pot over a propane hot plate to one of the Lee electric pots. I have a new single burner propane hot plate that I hook to a 20# tank. I'm thinking that if I lay down a layer of fire brick and set the hot plate on top to protect from "down head" radiating down on the hoard I set it on stretched between two sawhorses, and then sit fire trick upright on the tow outside edits of he cast iron hotplate - then lay fire brick across the top of them to form a "heat chamber" - it will work as a small forte furnace for heating the strip of what will probably be 1/8 X 3/4 cold roll that I will he rough profile cutting to shape and then forging in to a traitor guard.

    Once I get the trigger guard rough forted, I'll cool and file to smooth out - the reheat and quench in oil which should ice it a "black" finish?

    My question is - will the propane hot plate with they fire brick set up as described to form a heat chamber work well enough to get the temperature of the cold roll to where it can be hammer forged in to shape?

    Again, I just thinking of using this set up as a "temporary" forge furnace to do a couple of trigger guards, possibly a butt plate or two and some small items such as a forged trigger, etc. - no hardening, tempering, etc. Possibly some small hammer welding on a fold in the trigger guard - not sure.

    Thanks for any help/advice - appreciate it.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    DerekP Houston's Avatar
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    I'll be the first to admit I haven't tried this yet but it has been on my wish list for awhile. This is a link I had saved for just such an occasion and was small enough that I could build it and break it without being out too much money. My buddy at work melts and pours copper with just a propane torch built from home depot pipes in a similar type furnace.

    http://tek-think.com/2015/07/28/turn...omemade-forge/


    https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl...GIBTUQ9QEILDAA


    I believe that's the burner design he used. He called it 'el torcho' and it was hot enough to make lead drip like wax off a large block.


    Link for more detail on the burner:
    http://www.popsci.com/diy/article/20...e-forge#page-2
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    Thanks Yall!

  3. #3
    im just using a oxy/propane torch with a rosebud to heat my metal with.. but getting lead hot enough is a lot easier than getting iron to the 1,400*F-1,500*F point.. while you might get the little gas hotplate thingy to make enough heat, it would most likely take forever and burn a lot of gas if you was even able to get it to turn up far enough to make the metal red, not to mention it would probably get the hotplate hot enough to burn it up over time....you also must take into account the mass of the firebrick that must be heated up to temperature b4 whatever is inside the chamber can get up to temperature as cold firebrick will suck the heat right out of the air in the forge. but for the hammer welding, you will melt the hotplate down long b4 you get the metal hot enough to furnace weld it.. that takes well over 1,800*F-2,000*F...

  4. #4
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    MaryB's Avatar
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    I know the jet burners I use for brewing turn the center of the pot supports bright orange... maybe start with that and add more air in a vertical tunnel?

  5. #5
    can't hurt to try it.. if it don't work all your out is a little time..

  6. #6
    Boolit Man
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    For a couple small items you can make a small "coal" forge. I have even used charcoal briquets, a old hibachi and a vacuum cleaner exhaust to shape a couple small parts. An old brake drum works pretty good also. Lots of plans on line.

    While in AZ check out the Arizona Artists Blacksmith Association.
    In MI, Michigan Artists Blacksmith Association. They have a 3 month tool loan program. Might be able to borrow or buy a forge cheap.

    You also might be able to hook up with someone local.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

    drhall762's Avatar
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    There are some very nice home built forges over on Instructables.com. Some coal, some propane fired. Might be worth a look for ideas.
    Dave

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  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I have a homemade coal/charcoal forge that I run with a cheap hairdryer. No trouble forge welding with it. I built a hillbilly style propane forge from block and a weed burner but it takes too long to heat anything. Certainly can't weld with it.
    A good coal forge can be built from scrap and the only cost is a dollar store hair dryer. Coal online is a little pricy but can usually be found cheaper somewhere.
    Some people live and learn but I mostly just live

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

    Wayne Smith's Avatar
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    Since this is about the only website I routinely visit, I think it was here that one of our members posted pics of his homemade gas forge and the heat treating of his knives. I'm terrible with computers so I won't try to find it, but if you can it had a lot of information about the type of burners as well, what worked and what didn't and why.
    Wayne the Shrink

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  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Thank you all for the great information - it is greatly appreciated! The more I read . . . the more I see that I NEED to read! LOL

    I would have no problems with using a coal fired forge but my wife and I just moved in to a condo in town and I don't think the neighbors would be too happy with coal smoke/odor . . . they can be funny in that way. I used to have one of the small portable coal forges with the hand crank blower and I did play with that for a while but it was many years ago. I ended up giving it to a young man who was learning how to be a farrier so it went to the right place.

    Years ago, when I taught shop (probably 40 years ago) I had a small gas fired forge in my metalworking area. I don't remember the make (getting old!) but it was gas fired and the fire box/chamber was lined with fire brick. A lot of the videos I have watch show using perlite, water glass and plaster to make the fire chamber but I'm thinking I might try to find a rectangular shaped metal "shell" that I could line with fire brick. I know ti would take time to come up to heat but it seems like the firebrick would hold the heat and work good with a gas fired flame. I'd like to make the chamber deep enough I could try a knife blade if I wanted to - I've always been fascinated with the knives made from railroad spikes that a number of folks make. To begin though, I just want to play with smaller items such as triggers, trigger guards, etc.

    I'll continue reading and will start looking for materials to make one up out of - doesn't look like it is that hard to put one together so we'll see.

    Thanks again for the help - really appreciate it!

  11. #11
    railroad spike knives are for aesthetic purposes only.. they will forge to make a knife but it is not a good carbon steel or alloy that will hold an edge.. people like forging them because they are easy to forge due to their malleability and they don't care about heat ranges too much. you can brute force them a lot more and being most people like to grab the biggest hammer they have and beat the **** out of the metal the railroad spike fits the bill. the railroads wanted them mild so they would actually flex a bit or bend rather than break.. high carbon steels will work harden rather quickly and will snap off, not good if a train came by after a few have broken off. but it would probably be a good metal to play with to learn to forge as it is a lot more forgiving than tool and other high carbon steels.

  12. #12
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    You may reach forging heat, but forget reaching welding heat. It takes a long time in my regular propane forge to make the heat. I was able to do it much faster in a coal forge, but getting coal became difficult in this area, without buying by the 1/2 ton.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master Any Cal.'s Avatar
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    I made a blown propane forge that worked well. The key was to use a small squirrel cage, and NOT to regulate the propane. Could melt steel down pretty quick. Took less than 5 mins for a 5/16 piece of steel to go from cold to slumping in the forge. For small stuff you could make a "two brick forge", which you can search for info on. Typically uses MAPP gas and a plumbers torch. Next step up would be a "paint can forge", which usually lines a can of sorts with woolen or cast refractory and then a propane burner.

    Mine was probably a step up from either of those, usually the simple designs omit the blower in favor of some type of a venturi. If you have the blower though, the design gets much less complicated. Just plumb 1/4" copper into the airstream inside a pipe to deliver propane, and point the whole thing in a forge. Round would probably be better though for swirl.

    I ditched the forging and went to an electric furnace for working with tool steels. Can't bang on metal but do get to use some pretty fancy alloys for knives.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master Driver man's Avatar
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    Von Gruff has a thread on his furnace build
    The Bird of Time has but a little way
    To fly-and Lo! the bird is on the wing

  15. #15
    A Harbor Freight weedburner is only about $30 and is fed by a 20# propane tank. It puts out a lot of heat. You can use some firebrick or refractory cement to build a forge chamber. Firebrick and refractory cement are easily available and do not cost much. Would be simple to cobble together something that will melt aluminum and should be more than adequate to heat small pieces of steel to working temps. Would not be a big $ investment and would get the job done. Check out http://www.backyardmetalcasting.com/ for lots of designs and tons of info.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

    Wayne Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Driver man View Post
    Von Gruff has a thread on his furnace build
    THAT's the one I was remembering.
    Wayne the Shrink

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check