What size propane cylinder should I use?

In the summer months, the Forgemaster forging furnace will operate well on a 20# propane cylinder (the type used on most backyard barbeque grills) with a vapor valve. Propane boils at -44°. Forgemaster forging furnaces burn the vapor that is produced from that boil. Therefore, the closer the ambient temperature is to -44° the slower the vapor is created inside the cylinder. During periods of prolonged use in cold weather you will consume the propane vapor faster than the evaporation rate and you will need to employ a larger capacity cylinder (30-60 lb. cylinders).


What is the BTU of a Forgemaster?

BTU is a standard measurement of heat produced by a furnace. Each Forgemaster burner will produce about 50,000 BTU’s when operated at 8 pounds of propane pressure. Compared to a normal household furnace (100.000 BTU’s) you might think that’s not much heat produced. A two burner Forgemaster produces approximately the same heat necessary to heat a 3-bedroom house, but is confined to an area of about 2.5 cubic feet.

Blacksmiths and farriers generally think in terms of degrees for heating steel. A Forgemaster operating at welding pressure (12-14 psi) will produce in excess of 2500 degrees F.


What is the best way to mount the Forgemaster in my truck?

There are many ways to secure the Forgemaster for traveling. Some farriers bolt it to the truck bed, others mount the forge on a Swingmaster adjustable forge-mounting arm. You must consider several factors about you vehicle and your work style to determine what mounting method will work best for you. First, the Forgemaster must be convenient for you. Next consider the heat in relation to all items in your truck. After you finish forging you will want to keep the hot forge away from all combustible materials. Finally, the forge must be as secure as possible while traveling.

With nearly infinite position settings, the SWINGMASTER allows you to position your forge exactly as you wish. Our low profile, easy to adjust
swing out arm is the most versitle in the industry. Built with 11 gauge steel and secured with 7/8″ cold roll pins, this arm will stand up to even the toughest applications. The SWINGMASTER is a heavy duty, professional piece of equipment that is protected with a durable
powder coating and a worthy member of the Forgemaster TM product line.


Does the Forgemaster operate on Natural gas?

Yes, but several requirements need to be met. The normal pressure of household appliances for natural gas is much lower than what is needed to operate an atmospheric forge. Commercial gas pressure of 3-5 psi is required to operate the Forgemaster on natural gas. In addition to the higher pressure requirement a different orifice is needed. The Forgemaster staff will be happy to discuss the possibility with you. Contact us at 1-636-528-4832


Can you weld steel in a Forgemaster?

Yes. Not only steel, but aluminum as well. Visit our Tips page for step-by-step instructions on forge welding steel and aluminum in a Forgemaster.


How long does a forge liner last?

The lining is composed of two different materials. The walls and top are made of ceramic fiberboard and the hearth brick is made of high temperature fire clay. In addition to the high heat of a Forgemaster and normal wear and tear, there are two things contribute to the breakdown of the lining materials; vibration and moisture. To increase the life of your Forgemaster liner, avoid damage while traveling by securing the forge so that it cannot bounce and slide around in your vehicle. Protect the forge from the elements. Left outside, the forge will be damaged by rain and snow. The moisture will rapidly breakdown the Ceramic Board, and renders the forge useless.


Forging Tool Steel

Working with Tool Steel

When forging a high carbon or tool steel it is important to know the specific requirements of each type of steel.
Following the information supplied by the mill or steel distributor should help reduce problems.

1) Plan your forging process carefully to minimize the number of heats required. Each time that you heat the steel you lose a bit of carbon and decrease the usefulness of the steel.
2) Most tool steels must be allowed be heated slowly to the forging heat. This slow climb in temperature is generally referred to as “soaking”. In the Forgemaster TM forge soaking is easily accomplished. Bring the forge up to a strong heat (run the forge at 10-12 psi for about 5 minutes), place the tool steel into the heating chamber and heat the steel for about 30-40 seconds. Shut the forge off and leave the door closed, allowing the steel to soak up the heat of the forge without the added oxidation of the forge blast. When the steel becomes the same color as the heated forge re-ignite the forge and raise the steel to forging temperatures (usually between 1850 and 2000 degrees F).
3) Always forge the steel within the recommended heat range. Never forge tool steel at a heat below orange. Never heat tool steel above a bright lemon. Forging above or below the proper heat range may stress the steel and render it unusable.
4) Many tool steels require a “normalizing” following forging. Normalizing means that you bring the steel back to the forging temperature, and allow it to cool slowly at room temperature. NOTE:Air hardening steels cannot be normalized in this manner.

Carbon Steel Guide for Blacksmithing

AISI #Carbon contentTypical ApplicationsForging Heat RangeHeat Treating Method
O-1.90Taps, punches, dies1850-1950 F. Stop at 1500. Normalize.Oil quench
A-21.00Trimming Dies, Shear Blades, Punch Plates2000-2050 F. Stop at 1700 F. Normalize.Oil quench
D-21.55Blanking Dies, Bushings, Shear Blades, Burnishing Tools1950-2050 F. Stop at 1700 F. Do not Normalize.Oil quench
S-1.50Heading Dies, Hot forming dies, Chisels2000-2100 F. Stop at 1660 F. Normalize.Oil quench preferred, but larger sections may be water quenched
S-3.40-.50Chain link, Riveting, Caulking dies, Heading dies, Stone points, Trip Hammer Anvils1700-1900 F. Stop at 1500 F. NormalizeOil quench
S-7.45-.55Bending Dies, Hot Heading tools, Rivet Sets and Busters, PunchesPreheat 1200-1300 F. Raise to 2000-2050 F. Stop at 1700 F. Do Not Normalize.Air quench
4140.36-.50Jigs, molds, fixtures, holding blocksPreheat 1200-1300 F. Raise to 1850-2050 F. Stop at 1500 F. Normalize.Oil quench
6150.43-.48Gears, Shafts, Spindles1950-2250 F. Stop at 1800 F. Normalize.Oil quench

Forge Welding

Forge welding has often been a confidence shaker for blacksmiths. While it does take some thought and planning, it is not the mystical union of metals you may have thought. There are several key factors in forge welding in the Forgemaster TM.

Forge & Anvil Preparation
1) Pre-heat the forge by increasing the regulator pressure to 12-15 psi. Allow the forge to run at this pressure while you are forging the scarf and preparing the steel for the weld.

2) Pre-heat the anvil by forging or by heating a large piece of steel and laying it on the anvil face. A cold anvil will rapidly draw the heat away from the weld, which will result in a failure to weld.

If pre-heating the anvil is not practical, you might try placing a small amount of welding flux on the face of the anvil at the spot where you will weld. The flux will serve as a brief insulator to assist your weld.

Steel Preparation
3) Proper shaping of the areas to be welded (scarf) is an important part of proper forge welding.

A finely feathered edge will hide the weld, avoiding “cold shuts”.

Be sure to lap the weld area so that there is sufficient material to hammer together and avoid a thin weld area.

Welding Heat & Flux
4) After the scarf is prepared place the material into the Forgemaster TM forge, with the area to be welded under one of the burners. Avoid allowing the weld area to lay directly on the brick hearth, as the heat must be allowed to “wrap” around the weld area.

Avoid resting the weld area on the brick hearth.

Setting the weld area directly under the flame with space beneath the weld are and the brick will make forge welding easier.

5) Bring the material up to welding temperature. If the forge has been operating at 12-15 p.s.i. while you were preparing the scarf, you should have welding heat in about 30 seconds. When welding heat is reached remove the steel from the fire and quickly brush the weld area with a heavy steel brush to remove excess scale. Quickly apply flux and return to the fire. This sequence should be accomplished in just a few seconds to avoid losing much heat. The longer the flux is in the fire the less effective it is.

Butcher Block brushes work well for quickly removing scale build up.

There are several good forge welding fluxes. Sure Weld and Stable Weld are two that work well.

6) After the flux is applied return the steel to the forge and regain welding heat. When welding heat is reached remove the steel from the fire and hammer the two pieces together with quick hammer blows. Your finished weld should be clean and have no weld lines.

Flat view of scarf area after welding

Edge view of scarf area before welding

Edge view of scarf area after welding


Aluminum Shoes

General Information

Forging aluminum used to be a problem for even experienced blacksmiths. Forge welding aluminum was not even considered. Following these steps in a Forgemaster TM forging furnace will enable even novice blacksmiths to be quite proficient at forging aluminum.

1) Reduce the heat in the forge by lowering the regulator pressure to 6-7 psi. If your Forgemaster TM forge is equipped with a door, work with the door open. These two actions will lower the temperature inside the forge. Most aluminum and aluminum alloys used for hand forging becomes malleable at 700-900 degrees Fahrenheit, and melts at about 1400.

2) It will not take long for aluminum to reach forging heat. Several methods can be employed to determine the proper heat:

a. mark the aluminum with an 800 degree “temple stick” and watch for the mark to melt.
b. remove the aluminum from the forge and drag it across the face of your anvil. If it is at forging temperature it will seem tacky and resist dragging.
c. remove the aluminum from the forge and touch it to a piece of wood or newspaper. If it lightly scorches either of these it is ready to work.

3) As soon as the piece reaches the desired forging temperature you may begin to work. The aluminum will probably not need to be reheated, as it will remain in a soft state. Should you feel the need to reheat the piece be careful, a few seconds too long in the fire will result in an unusable piece of aluminum.

4) If the aluminum breaks and crumbles when you strike it with your hammer it indicates that it was overheated.

Forge Welding Aluminum

The technique used to forge weld aluminum is considerably different than steel or iron welding. The forge temperature should be kept at a low, soft heat (5-7 psi.). Use a flux core aluminum rod for this procedure. 1/8″ diameter Cor-Al aluminum welding rod manufactured by Welco is excellent. The following series of photographic steps will guide you through the process of forge welding an aluminum barshoe.

1) Heat the shoe (as described in the section above) to a forging heat.

2) Turn the heels as you normally do to forge a steel bar shoe. These photos shows how to forge a crisp corner on the barshoe after you turn the heel.

Side and Front View

3) After turning and forging each heel of the shoe, scarf the ends as you would for any forge weld. The overlap does not need to be as thick as for a steel bar shoe since most of the forging of an aluminum barshoe takes place before the weld is made.

4) Photos #3 & #4 show the correct taper and overlap of the scarf area to will be welded.

End and Top View

5) Now for the delicate part of the process. Photos #5 & #6 show the farrier melting a small piece of the Cor-Al welding rod onto the area of the scarf. This piece will serve as a reference point for determining when the area is hot enough to weld.

6) Watch the small piece of aluminum welding rod carefully. It will become bright and then begin to flow. As soon as it melts begin applying the welding rod, so that the entire weld area is liquid looking. Pull the shoe out of the fire as you apply the rod. When the rod stops flowing into the weld area you may return the shoe to the fire if you feel the need to add more filler rod. Be careful of too much heat. The reference is the Cor-Al rod (when it becomes liquid and flowing, remove the shoe from the fire. When it becomes solid and no longer liquid you may wish to apply a little more heat.)

7) After you have enough filler rod and the aluminum is welded, allow the material to cool. If you are making a pair of bar shoes, place the first shoe to the side while you weld the second. Here is what the weld should look like just after you finish welding.

Not a very pretty sight. However, after it cools down, brush the blackened area of the weld with a wire brush. You may then forge the weld without fear of separation. This will allow you to fashion the bar to suit your requirements. You will not need to heat the shoe again in order to forge it. Aluminum will remain malleable even after a long period of time.

The finished product will be similar to this:


Pritchel Repair

Of all the tools that a farrier uses, the pritchel probably takes the most abuse. Not because the farrier is abusive to it, but because of the work it must perform. Due to the extreme task it performs, the farrier must regularly attend to the condition of the pritchel.

The following steps will show the repair or dressing of the pritchel. REMEMBER that most pritchels are forged from tool steel (generally S-7 or H-13 see the tool steel guide for forging specifications). Forging heats are critical to the well being of the tool.

The heat of the horseshoe and the relatively small tip on the pritchel results a “mushrooming” effect at the tip shown in the photo to the left.

Severe damage can also occur by inappropriate use of the pritchel. Both of these effects require heating and reforging the tool.

There are two (2) distinct angles on a pritchel. One side is more acute than the other, in order to accommodate the shape of the horse nail shank. Working at the far edge of the anvil, angle both the pritchel and your hammer to forge each of the different angles.

Always work at the proper heat. Hammering the pritchel when it is cold will result in stress damage to the tool.

After the desired shape is forged into the pritchel, hit the tip of the pritchel with straight on hammer blows.
This will serve the double purpose of “packing” and squaring the pritchel tip.

With proper forging there should be very little need for grinding the pritchel. Heat treating will depend on the type of steel used in the pritchel. Refer to the tool steel guide for specific information.