How To Build Your Own Forge

Jimmy Fikes shares his plans and detailed instructions for building a homemade forge.

| September/October 1975

Mention the word "blacksmithing" to most folks nowadays, and they'll probably conjure up a mental image of someone shoeing a horse. To homesteaders who master the basics of the craft, though, smithing can mean far more: the making of hinges, latches for doors and windows, shutter catches, door knockers, lightning rods, gutter hooks, beam end braces . . . kitchen utensils such as knives, meat forks, skewers, strainers, ladies, vegetable choppers, andirons, log tongs, pokers, trivets, fireplace cranes, trammels, pothooks, candleholders, chandeliers, rushlights, and batty lamps . . . tools such as axes, froes, grabhooks, peaveys, wedges, hoes, rakes, nails, chisels, adzes, chains . . . and a wide variety of other items. Those who really master the craft (and are, like me, carnivores who believe in killing the meat they eat) can even build themselves flintlock rifles. This article — then — is for those of you who need metalwork done and can't find anyone to do it, can't afford to hire a smith, or would just plain enjoy tackling such jobs yourselves.

How to Make a Forge

There are two requisites for the beginning blacksmith:

[1] A high level of interest, tempered with the patience of Job.

[2] A shop.

I can't give you the first, but I can help you set up the second. At present I'll deal mainly with how to make a forge and the fuels for its operation . . . and hope for a later opportunity to outline the arrangement of the smith's tools and some actual techniques of blacksmithing.

The Forge

A forge can be set up almost anywhere personal preference dictates: in a house, basement, tipi, barn, dome, shed . . . or out under the sky. Smoke and fumes, however, can be a problem (how serious a problem depends on what fuel you use) . . . and if no chimney is available, a completely open forge — or one protected by a shed — is probably the best choice. (Caution: Any open fire consumes large amounts of oxygen and can be a health hazard in a poorly ventilated space. Also, incomplete combustion of coal and charcoal may cause the emission of deadly, odorless carbon monoxide gas. For safety's sake, please design your work area with these facts in mind. — MOTHER.) 

John Brizzolara
5/18/2011 10:20:09 PM

looking to get into blacksmithing for Boy Sounting

4/18/2009 5:33:47 AM

my email is

4/18/2009 5:31:19 AM

i have been experimenting with making forges for a few years for smelting copper and i found there are many cheap easy and affective ways of makingn a forge not including concreat if u want to tarsde tips email me

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