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Building a forge from a car wheel and other junk

Some time ago I had decided that a forge would be a handy piece of equipment to posses. Fairly often I want to heat a section of metal for easy bending or crude blacksmithing type work. So I decided to build a simple forge to be fueled with wood scraps or charcoal. Take a look at how the project turned out. - June/11/2006

The car wheel

This is the car wheel I decided to make the forge out of. It has a fairly nice internal volume for holding the fuel and the holes in the face (which will be the forge's bottom) will work well to release spent ash.

Welding the air pipe in place

The first thing I did was weld a pipe to carry air into the forge into the center hole of the wheel. This hole went over the axle nut and is almost exactly the same size as the outside of 2" steel water pipe, so that's what I used. The pipe is just a 4" long section with threads on one end.

This photo was taken with the camera on a tripod using the automatic timer. Do not attempt to look at or photograph a welding arc without proper protection!

The air pipe welded in place

Here is the air pipe welded into place over the center hole. You may notice some yellow writing just above the square holes. It says "87 Hyundai" So I'm guessing that's what this wheel is from.

Braces for the legs

I welded three sections of rebar onto the wheel to work as legs. They are about 12" long and seem to be a good height for stability. Welding the legs at even 120° intervals was easy since there are 12 square holes in the wheel. So I welded a rod at every fourth hole (12 divided by 3). I then added three braces to the legs to secure them further and prevent shifting.

Grate for distributing air

To get nice air distribution throughout the coals I made this simple grate from a scrap of 1/8" thick plate.

Air pipe attachments

I screwed a pipe tee to the air pipe under the forge to attach the blower with. I used a "T" fitting instead of an "elbow" fitting because I can simply unscrew the cap on the bottom of the T to let the ashes fall out. I'd have to disconnect the blower to get the ashes out of an elbow connection.

The air blower

A short length of pipe connects the blower to the "T" fitting. This is the same blower I use on my waste oil burners. It's pretty grimy right now but it's given great service since I built it in 2003.

I'll eventually get a blower specifically for this forge and I'll probably weld a mount onto the forge legs to hold it.

Page contents copyright © 2006 by L. Oliver II - www.BackyardMetalcasting.com
Hot burning coals

It's simple to start the forge with crumpled newspaper, cardboard and thin sticks. Once the sticks have ignited I add slightly larger sticks and then finally split wood about the diameter of an average person's wrist. That's what's burning here. There are so many air holes in the grate, and the wheel itself that there was very little smoke during the ignition and absolutely none once combustion really got going. Tremendous heat was being put out and I think using actual coal or even barbecue charcoal would produce a positively vicious amount of heat which would radiate out in every direction.

Safety tip!! Try to avoid chromed wheels when building a forge, the chrome may burn off creating toxic fumes. Other coatings on the wheels may do this as well so use caution especially with the first few forge usages.

The leftover ashes

Here is the result after the forge has cooled down. Most of the ashes have fallen out of the forge through the holes in the bottom. This is great when using the forge for long periods of time so a bunch of ash doesn't just build up and clog the air flow.

Slots for long material

If I have to heat long pieces of material, perhaps when forging a sword (yeah, like I know how to do that...) I can lay the steel in these slots so it can lay down deeper in the coals. This modification was made after the first test run.

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Copyright © 2006 by Lionel Oliver II All Rights Reserved.
This site was created Sept. 28, 2000