How to make a Gas Forge Better
Last Revised: 7/19/09
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I have seen many emails and read many posts on various newsgroups and heard many folks discuss the subject of making a gas forge,
but wanting to change from some existing design component for some reason. Often, the person has some sort of general
improvement in mind, but may not know how to evaluate that desire against any possible side effects that might
Also, they may not have the capability to actually design and implement that improvement.
Although I'm no expert on the subject, I have worked with heat and heat treating on and off throughout my career.
I have learned that there is a lot more than meets the eye to these designs. For instance: I worked for a company
that designed and manufactured and operated Large commercial heat treating furnaces (Ipsen Industries) and when they
needed new burners designed, THEY even went to outside experts!
So, here below, I am attempting to provide Food for Thought for those interested in buying, building or
modifying gas forge designs:
First, here is a list of attributes that are more or less common to all gas forges.
Although I have done my best to cover every aspect of design, I'm sure this is not a complete list.
If you are considering buying, making, designing or modifying a gas forge, you should consider every one
of these attributes as they apply to your needs and goals. Whole books probably have been or could be
devoted to each of these attributes. This list is just intended to get you thinking.
Common Gas Forge Attributes
- -Size of overall unit,
- -Size and shape of chamber (Capacity)---(will it hold the kind of work that I do?)
- -Weight (Can I lift and carry it if need be?)
- -Fuel efficiency (Fuel usage rate)
- -Noise level
- -Electrical requirements (Does it need a blower or is it naturally aspirated). If it does need a blower, does it run on the power that I have available?)
- -Ease of operation
- -Convenience of use
- -Speed of getting to temperature
- -Maximum temperature obtainable (Can I forge weld reliably in it?)
- -Material Cost to build
- -Labor time to build
- -Complexity to build (Can I build it myself or how much of it do I have to farm out?)
- -Cost to Buy (if it is a commercially available unit)
- -Ease of Ignition
- -Type of Ignition system
- -Does it stay lit or do you have to play with it?
- -Toxicity of materials
- -Ventilation requirements
- -Fire precautions for use
- -Longevity of insulation materials
- -Cost and time to replace insulating materials
- -Atmosphere in forge (potential for scaling/a measure of burner efficiency)
- -Controls available
- -Accessories available
- -Portability, does it travel well without damage?
- -Control of exiting heat and gases (Does it have or need doors?)
Wanting to make things better immediately begs the question better than what?
So, once you have determined what you like and what you don't like, you need to determine how you will
know that you are indeed getting the desired result. This is pretty easy when you are talking about capacity,
overall size, etc.. But if you want to compare fuel usage, ultimate maximum temperature, etc., you need
Minimum Measuring Devices (instrumentation):
- -Pyrometer with appropriate probes (usually Chromal vs. Alumel thermocouple)
- -Low pressure gage on gas regulator (about 0-30 psi)
- -Accurate scale to measure propane usage ( GOOD bathroom scale)
- -Rulers to measure openings, overall dimensions (or the largest and smallest things you will want to heat in it)
- -Stop watch to measure heat-up time and fuel usage rate
- Exhaust gas analyzer
- Sound meter
Attributes that don't take to direct measurement(For these attributes you need to be able to describe what
the baseline is for that attribute, so you can detect a variance)
- -Ease of use (unless the usage process is broken down into individual parts)
- -Ease of setup (Portability)
The old saying goes "Ya pays me now or ya pays me later. I hope these thoughts make your first gas forge
"Right the First Time"!