Information on Blacksmith Forge Plans

Published: 29th December 2008
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The efficiency of a forge shop is, to a large extent, dictated by how well it is laid out. The movement of heavy metal, handling heated ingots, hammering and quenching are all heavy work, even with the latest equipment. A well laid out blacksmith's shop will keep these factors in mind when it is planned.

The heart of a blacksmith's shop is the forge itself. A coal forge is designed around the "heart" of the fire. This is the area of maximum heat whose shape can be adjusted, by shifting the burning coals, to suit the needs of the metal being heated. The first rule of forge design is that the "heart" of the fire must be at the same level as the top of the forge. If it is lower, the blacksmith will not be able to pass the metal to be heated through the center of the hottest part of the fire. If it is too high, that is above the level of the forge itself, not only will there be heat loss leading to longer heating times for the metal, but that will also be a danger of burning coals falling out of the forge. The size of the forge must be such that the largest pieces of iron to be heated can be placed directly through the fire without being bent. If the forge is too small, blacksmiths are often forced to build extra large fires to generate more radiant heat to reach the metal that cannot be placed directly in contact with the fire because of its large size. This wastes large amounts of fuel and also requires more air to be pumped into the forge to maintain the heat and blow it towards the metal. And, of course, this is much slower that direct contact heating.

A well planned forge should match the height of the blacksmith. If it is too high the blacksmith will have to keep his arms raised while working which can lead to back problems over time. Too low and the blacksmith is constantly bending over the forge which not only will also cause back problems but will allow the heat from the forge to hit him much more than it otherwise would. The ideal height should be somewhere just above the waist level, but this will vary depending on the blacksmiths personal choice. As a general rule the forge height is kept the same as that of the anvil.

The positioning of the air blower is also an important part of the forge plan. Too near and the motor could be affect by the heat. Too far and there will be a pressure loss. Always try and keep the pipe from the blower to the forge straight as bends will reduce the airflow. If the layout of the forge shop requires the blower to be placed in a position where the pipe needs a bend, this should be as gentle a curve as possible.

The forge should be located in such a position that it is easily accessible for cleaning and ash removal. The forge is a hot area to work in and the forge plan should keep in mind the need for the maximum ventilation for the blacksmith.

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