Blacksmithing is a trade that has been used for centuries. One of the most important tools necessary for blacksmithing is a forge, which is used to heat up metals so they can be molded. But before you go off and buy one, you need to consider the price.
For a forge cost, theoretically, you can pay as little or as much as you want for a blacksmithing forge. At the lowest price point of $50, you can create your own DIY forge with dirt and a pipe. The mid-range price point runs at about $400. The best quality forges can be over $1,000.
How do you decide how much to spend and which forge is the best for your needs? There are different types of forges, and they each have their pros and cons.
Continue reading to learn about how they work so you can make an informed decision.
What Does a Forge Do?
A forge creates a super hot fire that is hot enough to make metal malleable. You’ll need the fire to get up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit to weld two pieces of steel together, but a fire that’s fueled by wood can only get up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Read more here if you want to learn on what temperature different types of forges can get to.
Forges use fuel and air to create a hotter fire. Coal can burn over 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit when a constant air supply is available to it.
A forge has three basic parts:
- A place to hold the coal or propane
- A steady supply of air that can reach the fuel
- A place for coal ash to go
Every forge will have these three components. If you decide to make one yourself, be sure you have each one so it will function correctly. More about blacksmith forges here.
Types of Forges
Before you can start shopping for forges, you should know about each kind and how they function. There are two main types of forges: coal and gas.
Here is an overview of each type of forge with the pros and cons listed for each:
The coal forge, which is also known as a solid fuel forge, has been used for centuries and can burn both coal and charcoal.
Since it has been used for so long, it’s clearly a reliable method preferred by many, but there are several reasons why blacksmiths have turned to propane forges.
The Pros of Coal Forges
Coal forges can be a DIY project. They’re great for beginners because you don’t have to have a grand budget to make one.
They can easily reach high temperatures. Coal can reach over 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit if a sufficient air supply is provided, so you are guaranteed that you’ll be able to forge and weld any metal.
They can be inexpensive to operate. You can buy coal for $10, making it an affordable option.
The Cons of Coal Forges
Burning coal is messy. The smoke produced by burning coal can be hazardous if inhaled and might be an annoyance to your neighbors if you practice blacksmithing in your backyard.
The fire must be constantly maintained. You have to make sure the fire doesn’t burn out or get too hot. Many blacksmiths see this as a positive, however, because it gives them more control, but it might be a nuisance to a beginner.
They often take up a lot of space and aren’t portable. If you choose the solid fuel forge, you will need quite a bit of space for both the forge and fuel storage. If you want to pack it up with you, it will take some cleaning and dismantling before you can pack it up.
Gas or propane forges tend to be the better option for suburban blacksmiths. They burn a lot cleaner than coal forges and are easier to assemble. They do have their downsides, however.
The Pros of Gas Forges
They burn clean. You don’t have to deal with foul-smelling smoke as it burns the propane, meaning that you don’t have to annoy your neighbors with it or risk harming your lungs.
They are small and portable. You can easily take them with you from one place to another, and they don’t take up too much space. You could set it up in your garage and move it over as necessary.
The heat stays at a consistent temperature. This is a great feature for beginners because you can focus on techniques instead of the heat.
The Cons of Gas Forges
Gas forges can be noisy. You may not have the smoke to worry about, but depending on which forge you buy, you may have to deal with noise.
Some forges can’t get hot enough to weld metals. You will be able to mold metals into new shapes, but you might not be able to weld metal together.
Propane can be expensive. The price of propane varies greatly, but it’s generally more expensive than a bag of coal. Depending on how often you want to use your forge, propane might end up being quite expensive.
The base of the forge can be eroded if you use borax flux. If you want to know more about this topic I wrote an article about using borax in blacksmithing and forge welding.
Now that you have an idea of which forge will work best for you, you can consider prices. You can pay a little or a lot depending on which supplier you choose to buy from.
Generally speaking, spending more money will get you a higher quality product that will last you a long time.
If you’re a beginner trying blacksmithing for the first time, a cheaper option might be the best for you.
However, if you get a low-quality forge, you might end up with a negative experience that will turn you away from the craft.
If you gather the materials yourself, you can spend as little as $50. DIY forges have to use coal, so while the price may be appealing, remember the pros and cons of both coal and gas forges.
You can also get a DIY kit with great quality pieces at around $600. You can experience the fun of building it yourself without giving up the reliability of a ready-to-use forge.
Amazon carries a Simond Store Forge for around $210. It’s a basic model that would be great for a beginner. A stand and blower aren’t included, so you will have to factor in that price, as well.
Amazon has another model that comes with a stand and blower for around $626. Although it’s more expensive, you don’t have to buy accessories separately, making the purchasing process much simpler.
Centaur Forge has coal forges beginning at $828.
Amazon carries a Hell’s Forge Propane Forge for around $250. It’s small and portable so you can move it around as needed.
Centaur Forge carries propane forges starting at $635. It’s portable, and although it’s pricey, it’s made with premium materials so you can be sure that it will last you a long time.
Forge prices vary greatly based on the type and material qualities. Cost-effective solutions might be skimping on quality, but splurging on an expensive forge might be a mistake if you’re unsure about your dedication to the blacksmithing craft.
Coal forges can be an inexpensive DIY project. If you want to start small to save money or just to test the waters, a coal forge might be the best option for you.
Gas forges are portable but usually cost more. It’s possible to find a gas forge that’s cheaper than a coal forge, but a tank of propane is typically more expensive than a bag of coal.
Remember to weigh the pros against the cons of coal and gas forges before you make a purchase.
I hope this article has been of help to you. Thanks for reading and good luck with your future iron creations!
Cheers tools owners!