How to Make a Steel Forge

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The hammer of your imagination is in your hand, as you shape reality through brute force and acquired skill. To build a steel forge, you must first seek out your local institute of arcane knowledge: the community college. Community colleges offer courses in basic metalworking and black-smithing techniques.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal table or stand, 2 feet by 2 feet minimum
  • Cast iron or sheet metal hibachi, no aluminum
  • 1 bag of 100% clay kitty litter or refractory cement
  • 1 foot long piece of 2 inch diameter black steel gas pipe
  • 1 variable speed blow dryer
  • Jig saw with 1/4 inch metal cutting blade
  • Power drill and 1/4 inch drill bit
  • Large quantity (more than ten pounds) of green coal
  • Newspaper
  • Charcoal grill lighter
  • Charcoal lighter fluid
  • 1 pound kindling wood
  • Two 6 inch by 2 inch by 4 inch blocks of wood
  • Two galvanized steel plumbing straps
  • 2 inch sheetrock screws
  • Duct tape

Scribe a 2 inch diameter circle on the long side of the hibachi, one inch from the bottom. Drill a 1/4 inch hole inside the circle. Insert jig saw blade and cut out the hole so that the 2 inch diameter black steel gas pipe will slide into it. Stick gas pipe at least one inch through the hole. Measure your 2 inch by 4 inch by 6 inch wood block so that it will fit between the pipe and the table to support it square to the hibachi. Use the galvanized steel plumbing strap and sheetrock screws to secure the pipe to the block.

Mix 100% clay kitty litter or refractory cement with water to a thick, clay-like paste. Coat the inside of the hibachi one inch thick with your refractory cement or kitty litter clay paste. Keep the opening of the gas pipe clear but be sure to cement all around the pipe. Allow clay to dry for 2 days in a warm dry climate or 4 days in a damp climate. It is very important for the clay to be completely dry before you fire your forge for the first time, or the refractory layer will crack, spit, pop, and explode due to steam pockets within the clay.

Attach blow dryer to the end of the gas pipe using duct tape. Use the second wood block and plumbing strap to support and stabilize the blow dryer.

Crumple two sheets of newspaper in the bottom of your turbo-hibachi. Place 1 pound of kindling wood on top of the crumpled newspaper. Fill turbo-hibachi with green coal. Green coal does not refer to the color but to the fact that it has not been fired into coke. Soak coal with lighter fluid. Ignite hibachi with barbecue grill lighter. After coal has burned for 1 to 2 minutes, turn blow dryer on low setting for three minutes, while the coal is burned into coke. Adjust blow dryer speed and build your fire as needed to forge your steel.

Tips & Warnings

  • Congratulate yourself on building your first steel forge, a turbo-hibachi. 20 years ago, veteran industrial and artisan blacksmith, sword and knife maker Gypsy Wilburn, made his first steel forge, which he dubbed the turbo-hibachi. Countless railroad spikes, broken leaf springs and other pieces of high carbon steel found in the scrap yards of Pennsylvania were transmuted into knives, daggers, swords, and tools. "It was my first forge, and it worked."
  • Do not attempt this project with the cheap aluminum hibachis. They will melt shortly after the first firing of your forge.

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