So, I went to Indiana last weekend with a couple of friends. We camped out in cabins next to a lake. Some of the people that we met there had brought a forge and I spend a good part of Friday and most of Saturday with them learning how to use it.
On Friday, I made a squigly line that looked kinda like a treble clef. Basically, I was just banging Iron to see how it worked, and when I noticed it starting to look clef-ish, I decided to make it into a clef.
Saturday, I set out to make a stand for my drinking horn. The first try wasn't going great, but was brought to a premature end when I left it in the fire too long, and the middle of it melted into two pieces. The remainder of what had been the middle of the piece was oxidized and brittle. The second try saturday worked out great.
When I got back to Raleigh, I decided to try to make a forge for fun to start out.
It's kinda a funny story so far. I wanted to see if what I had though up would work without looking too much at other plans for the first iteration, so I started with a $5 charcoal grill from the local grocery store and used a nail to punch some air holes in the bottom. I put a hair dryer sticking up on the bottom as bellows. It got the fire going pretty good, but then the hair dryer died. I thought maybe it was getting clogged and couldn't get enough air through it because it was standing with it's intake against the ground, so I got a 3" ventilation pipe elbow and another hair dryer. This time I was able to get re-bar to glow orange hot.
I played with the iron for a minute using a rock as an anvil, and then I went to turn the hair dryer back on and it didn't work. When I pulled the hair dryer out of the pipe I found that the plastic on the front had melted and caught fire, so I unplugged it and threw it in the bucket of water.
Third time is the charm, as they say. I went shopping again and got a 3' section of the 3" vent pipe and another hair dryer, and that far off it's perfectly cool.
I can still only get the iron orange hot, but I could put a elbow in it. However, I did break the rock doing it :)
I think I'm going to see if I can make the fire more vertical and see if that helps. Then I think it's time to start looking at real plans or buying a already made forge. OTOH, if this works well enough, I might just buy and anvil first.
I should take pictures :)
Look into his books on how to build your own metal smithing shop from scrap.
They're little paperback books, but chock full of goodness. Plain language, but doesn't assume you're an idiot either.