The single biggest investment that a beginner blacksmith needs to make is in his Forge. Whereas his hammers, tongs, aprons, and other tools aren’t really that pricey, a professional forge could set someone back several hundred dollars depending on the type and model in question.
While there are plenty of forges out there to try, it really boils down to a couple of major types; gas or coal-powered. From then on, there are plenty of different models of variants to try, depending on how much money you have to spend.
If you happen to be looking for a good blacksmithing forge for beginners, I’ve compiled a list of my five favorite forges on the market right now.
The eternal question: gas or coal?
Before you can even look at buying a forge, you should have a good idea of how the two main types differ and what are their pros and cons. I’ve written in the past about what I consider to be The Best Types of Forges for Blacksmithing in an earlier article, which you should check out.
In summary, I think gas-powered forges are the way to go. They are simpler to use, less messy, and are easier to maintain a fire at a set temperature without constant attention. Best of all, they tend to be quite cheaper than your average coal forge on the market.
Of course, I’ve seen some beginner blacksmiths opt to build their own “do-it-yourself” forges at home with coal as a heat source. Since you can’t really use propane gas in such a fashion (unless you really know what you’re doing, which most amateur forge-builder probably don’t), coal’s the way to go if you want to just make your own, simple forge in a backyard.
However, you get what you pay for, and paying for even a small, basic forge can make your life a lot easier as a beginner blacksmith than trying to take the cheap way out and build your own Forge in your backyard. If you know where to look, some of the best forges on the market happen to be extraordinarily cheap.
1. Hell’s Forge Propane Burner
Speaking of cheap, high-quality, beginner-friendly gas forges, the Hell’s Forge Propane Burner (both the single or double-burner variant) is at the top of my list for forges I’d recommend to beginner blacksmiths.
The biggest selling point for me is the price. Hell’s Forge sells its double-burner variant on Amazon for just under $300, which is an excellent deal it and of itself. If you’re willing to go for a smaller version, or just don’t need the extra forge size, you can opt for the single-burner Forge. This smaller version is being sold on Etsy by the company for just around $200, which is an absolute steal of a deal.
As for technical specifications, it’s pretty much the standard story when it comes to gas forges. You can get the Hell’s Forge to heat up to a maximum temperature of 2,300 Fahrenheit in less than ten minutes, which is pretty solid. Its size is around 19 inches by 6.75 inches by 3.5 inches, which gives it a cylindrical shape that makes it a great for longer metal pieces (such as making a blade or sword). As a beginner, you won’t be needing tons of forging space, likely just a few inches at a time.
It’s also a surprisingly light forge, more so than even other, small-sized gas forges, at around 20 pounds, it’s easy to move around when you need to. As for downsides, there aren’t many to note. Typical with most gas forges, 2,300 Fahrenheit isn’t enough to weld solid iron (although its barely enough to weld some types of carbon steel). However, if you aren’t welding, which most beginner blacksmiths aren’t, then I don’t think its much of a worry.
Considering the bang you’re getting for your buck, the Hell’s Forge Propane Burner tops this list pretty handily.
2. Centaur Forge 30 Inch Coal Forge
You’ll immediately notice that if you’re looking to buy a coal forge online, it’s much harder to find sellers. While there are plenty of gas forge makers (and for a good reason, the benefits of which I’ve mentioned above), demand for coal forges tends to be much smaller.
If you are still dead set on buying a coal forge, the 30 Inch coal forge with dumping ashgate from Centaur Forge is one of the better coal forges I’ve seen. It has a convenient mechanism for dumping ash, something that otherwise can be a pain in the butt for people with homemade coal forges.
They are also pretty darn easy to assemble as well. Unlike some other coal forges on the market, which can be a hassle to build on your own (they aren’t prebuilt, like gas forges, which is another advantage for the latter), this one from Centaur Forge is pretty simple overall.
The big issue here is the price. Unlike the Hell’s Forge listed above, this coal forge will set you back around $850, if not more. I’ve also picked the cheapest variant on their website, with some models coming in at over $1,200.
Is that a little pricey? You bet it is! Do I necessarily recommend it for beginners over cheaper gas forges? Not really. However, if you really are set on buying a coal forge, then I’ve decided to include this one on the list.
3. Majestic Burner Knifemaker Delux
Don’t be put off by the name, while the company calls this forge a “knifemaker,” beginner blacksmiths will be able to work on whatever they want with this nice gas forge.
Similar to the Hell’s Forge model that’s my top pick, this particular Forge from Majestic Forges is a pretty darn good choice for beginner blacksmiths. It might not be as cheap as the Hell’s Forge double burner, around $400 in comparison to the $300 or $200 of the Hell’s Forge model, it’s still cheaper than many of the other gas forges on the market.
There are a few downsides that push it a bit down on this list. For one, it’s a pretty heavy forge, coming in at around 45 pounds. While that might not be a dealbreaker, that’s more than twice as heavy as the Hell’s Forge while being only slightly larger.
For most beginners, they aren’t going to need a massive forge, hence why I even go so far as to recommend smaller, single-burner variants of most gas forges if you can find them. However, it’s still a pretty darn good gas forge overall, just not my top pick.
4. Whitlox Wood-fired Blacksmith Forge
Although I say that gas and coal are the two big choices for beginner blacksmiths, there are some exceptions. For the most traditionally minded blacksmiths out there, I feel like I should mention that it’s possible to make a wood-fire forge as well. While I don’t think they are the most beginner-friendly (I think gas and coal forges are still better in this regard), it’s possible to do good blacksmithing work with a wood forge.
That’s why I want to mention Whitlox’s Wood-fired Blacksmith Forge. At the time of writing, you can’t buy it on amazon anymore, but they are still available on the company’s website. It includes a hand-crank blower, a fire bed that’s adjustable in size, and is pretty darn large, 38 x 18 x 37 inches.
Now, it’s a pretty heavy forge, around 110 pounds. It also needs to be assembled, so that’s something to keep in mind. However, it’s an incredibly cheap forge, costing around $170. That’s a steal of a deal, and for beginners, I definitely think you’re getting good value from this Forge.
I will admit, however, there’s definitely a sense of tradition that comes with a wooden forge. It makes you feel like a blacksmith of old in the renaissance or the medieval ages where they used wood fires like these all the time.
However, I also need to be mindful of how easy it is to use, and I frankly consider gas forges better in this regard. While I enjoy wood fires and using wood forges, I think for a complete beginner, I’d still recommend a gas forge. Once you have some experience and know what you’re doing, then feel free to transition over to a wood forge if that’s what you want.
5. Atlas Knifemaker Forge
This Forge truly deserves the “knifemaker” label in its name, because it definitely appears to have been designed for that purpose. Whether it be swords, fire pokers, blades, or any other long, metal object, this Forge is perfect for those looking to focus on those types of projects.
It also has a pretty long chamber, around 11 inches and 2.5 inches in diameter. However, that also means you can’t put anything really large into it. For most beginner blacksmiths, that’s not going to be a problem since the best projects for beginners tend to be rather small. However, I think it should be emphasized that this really is a knifemaking forge first and foremost.
Besides that, out of all the gas forges listed here, it has the highest max temperature of around 2,500 Fahrenheit. That’s still not enough to weld iron, but it could make the difference for certain types of steel, where even an extra 100 degrees could make all the difference.
It’s also a pretty light forge, around 20 pounds, which is again typical for smaller, more specialized gas forges. Coming in at around $295 for this model, it’s still pretty fairly priced overall. Is it my favorite gas forge out there? No, but it’s pretty darn good and definitely deserves mention on this list.