I am working on getting the parts together to make a cheap forge using a push mower deck and brake drum from a car, complete with a hair dryer for the blower. Has anyone here tried making one of these and if so how did it go? Any advise would be appreciated. I am new to blacksmithing and funds are very limited, but I really want to get started. Thanks.
Hey Valnut! Welcome!
I haven’t tried a brake drum forge - I started out with using gas and 1 brick forge (found in the $50 Knife Shop book by Wayne Goddard.
However, I’ve seen quite a few of these done before.
Have you gotten any of the materials yet?
I took the motor and handle off an old push mower I have. The deck is used as the forge and the handle comes into two even pieces for the legs. That’s all I have right now. I’m thinking a brake drum shouldn’t be very hard to find, but not sure about the T pipe. A friend stopped by Saturday and said he knows a guy he could possibly get an anvil from cheap, that would be really nice. Once I get the parts together and get them wielded up I may post a pic on here to let everyone have a look at the forge.
I also heard you can use regular charcoal, is this true? I hear that it takes about 4 times the amount, but will work…I also heard that it may not burn hot enough, so not sure which way to go there. Thanks for the reply and the welcome.
Charcoal will work but it’s output isn’t as great as coal. Years ago I had a forge made from scrap metal powered with a hair drier that worked great. I used charcoal mixed with bits of coal that I found while walking along the rail lines. Lots of work looking for bits of coal but hey… it was free!
Thanks for the info. When I get all the parts together I guess I’ll check out coal prices around here and look into my options. May use charcoal for a while. At the moment just getting the parts to build the forge is moving slowly.
I have built a brake drum forge for my father it worked exceptionally well for us.
I would recommend ditching the hair dryer idea as they typically don’t have enough force i.e… pressure.
locate an old stove hood from someone’s kitchen remodel and repurpose the squirrel cage fan for your blower (craigslist/scrapyard).
Fasten a piece of sheet metal over the blowers opening to slide open and closed to regulate air flow and a switch to turn it on and off.
If you aren’t able to locate a blower a large shop vacuum exhaust will work equally well, purchase a sheet metal dampener or PVC valve from your home center to control vacuum’s air flow.
I used 1-1/2" threaded fittings to assemble a tuyere, weld or bolt a floor flange to the brake drum fabricate a 1/4" thick plate with 3/8" dia. holes for air to feed the fire or weld two pieces of 1/2" rebar over the opening in the brake drum leaving equal spaces for air to feed fire.
Next thread a close nipple into bottom of brake drum then thread on a tee.
Determine if you are going to fab a dump gate or not, if not put a long nipple on with a threaded plug on the end to collect ash and clinker.
Use a nipple of suitable length and adapt to your blower/vacuum hose the longer the better if you intend to connect vacuum hose to it for obvious reasons.
This should get you a reasonable forge to start making projects.
Check your phone book for a coal stove/heater distributer near you and see if they have or will get you blacksmithing coal.
Blacksmithing coal should be obtainable for $12 to $15 per 50lb bag.
Coal for heating isn’t the same thing you won’t get a good fire for forging with it, so don’t waist time tying to use it find the right kind of coal you’ll have better results in the long run.
Build it, use it, modify it make it better its a learning process and not rocket science most of all have fun!
Hope this is helpful for those starting out.