By Leland Edward Stone
Building a forge is more than
acquiring a new hobby—it can
be an important addition to
your workshop. Its usefulness increas-
es in direct proportion to your distance
from the nearest hardware supplier.
It’s not practical to start making
nails or staples, perhaps, but what
about a new bracket for the toolroom?
A latch for the cow pen, or a special
hoe for the garden? Mending a chain,
making a special tool, or building a
gate that no mold could duplicate are a
few of the jobs best suited to the
forge. You will soon discover—or
create—many new tasks for this ver-
The requirements for the homestead
forge are simple, having changed little
since Colonial times. Some of the
tools you’ll be using are called “new”
because they were developed during
the Dark Ages; a smith returning from
the dawn of the Iron Age would
instantly recognize your forge. You’ll
be pursuing a craft that was ancient
when Alexander ruled the Earth.
One thing has changed, however,
and you’ll hear the same advice from
many other sources: wear safety
glasses. When you’re building your
forge, or later when you’re using it,
you can’t afford to injure your eyes.
Get a comfortable pair of glasses or
goggles, and use them.
The basic principle behind a forge is
simple: you need fuel, a fireproof con-
tainer to burn it in, and a way of forc-
ing air through the burning fuel.
Blowing on the coals in your fireplace
or barbecue demonstrates perfectly the
process which you will later duplicate
on a larger scale.
Forges are typically built with
masonry or steel outer shells; inner
components of either shell may be
steel. Building a forge from steel can
be done quickly (often using recycled
scrap), and its lightweight construc-
tion makes a steel forge portable. But
an electric welder or acetylene rig is
required to build one efficiently.
If you don’t have access to welding
equipment, building your forge from
masonry is a logical choice. The metal
pieces you’ll need are simpler, and
welding isn’t needed to ma