Building a natural gas or propane forge.

An updated/revised consolidation on a number of other older post about building a natural gas or propane forge ( To be proofed again as time allows)

—-Disclaimer: I’m an idiot, putting my words into any actions is an absolute form of neglect. Any reader is responsible for their own safety and should not consider me an expert—

When building a forge: Insulation type, internal forge shape and dimensions, burner style and size are all important.

Notes on burners and forge pairings:

*Orifice* size and pressure, affect flow volume and gas velocity. Regulate the pressure and change the size of the *burner fuel vent hole* (*orifice*) to match the internal volume of the forge. Flow affects **aspiration** in this case “natural aspirated”; atmosphere is drawn into the burner body by the speed and volume of the fuel. Increasing the fuel increases the draft/suction/aspiration effect; but too much too slowly and you won’t have enough room in the path of travel for outside gasses to enter and mix effectively. You want the air and fuel to mix inside the burner and ignite inside the forge. Often forges without a well designed burner run fine when up to heat but not so well warming up due to erratic or improper gas travel inside the burner tube and during the transition from burner to forge.— Many little things happen that we can’t observe directly when tuning a forge/burner; but there are signs and symptoms. Look listen and feel. Trial and error will teach you if you’ve got the ***tools*** (***knowing how it works***).

After plumbing in some sort of regulation- then figure out how to reduce or increase the orifice size. As a start (weld/hi-temp braze/drill) or adjust the size of the forge and size of the burner tube depending on your needs and operating expense. To prevent accidents (I feel obligated to say this even if you must know I’m an idiot.): Keep a pilot light going during testing and never let flammable gases build up in a constrained or restricted area — At least these are my poorly educated guesses. I seem to be on the right path and have ****safely**** (****to a degree that my luck hasn’t run out and neither myself nor my property has been greatly damaged****) made and used a handful of forges since this publication in it’s original form. One of these opinions might be a step in the right direction for a reader. (<-again see the disclaimer)

Fabricating the shell/forge body was filled with bad ideas and potential chances at bodily harm (cutting open a container that once held flammable gasses and dealing with galvanized steel)- but with the help of a good friend we managed to both accomplish the task physically unharmed. Any psychological (pyrological?) damage is irrelevant and probably pre-existing:
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A ceramic fiber blanket was cut and fitted as insulation for the forge. Then a castable refractory was applied for health (loose ceramic fibers are not good for you) and durability.

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The refractory drying. Wax paper kept the parts from adhering.
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A bit O’ flare.
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A masonry wheel on an angle grinder was used to clean up the cured refractory.
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A clamp was used for testing (and firing the refractory coating) on the the burner made by hybridburners.com/

The final step not photo’d was brushing on a thin white high temp and UV reflective coating to improve temperatures and fuel efficiency.

Testing after the plistex900f UV coating.
The “dragons breath” is a visual cue when tuning the forge.
The forge retains heat well and even better with a bit of ceramic blanket over the mouth.

In this video you can see the forge at welding temperatures and learn a bit about pattern welding:

Thanks to:

Rex Price (no relation) of hybridburners.com, his great customer service along with his careful re-engineered (see Ron Reil below) and well fabricated burner (1″ forge and foundry burner) has been truly note worthy.– I could ramble on and on but: Again great burner- honestly it’s pricey for a poor hobbyist.
Industry, academia or busy professionals who prefer save time/money buy online: hybridburners are top choice.

NCabana (triangle chapter); specifically Eric Campbell, Randy Davis and Braden Ogle all gave me great advice and help. Eric helped tuning and aligning the burner to the forge I’d built with the help of Braden. Along with advice used on future builds. Randy helped me out with refractory materials. Through conversation with him I learned more about building my own burner and forge design. I couldn’t have fabricated the forge shell without Braden Ogle’s material, labour, advice and perspective. Much appreciated ‘gents. You’re an acceptable lot; life has been enriched knowing ya.
Ron Reil and the online community in general have published a lot of theory craft, experiments and knowledge accessible to the layman back when Ron was still active on the web his influence on today’s builders of naturally aspirated burners can not be over stated. With permission Abana has preserved his work here: http://ronreil.abana.org/

–Greg

5 thoughts on “Building a natural gas or propane forge.

    1. Thanks, it’ll always be a work in progress. Like my self and all things I do. Nothing is ever finished until completely out of my hands. Often procrastinated; but not finished- Just now I tuned it up a bit more for clarity. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

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