Arguably the best type of forge for a beginner blacksmith is a propane forge. They’re cheap, easy to use, easy to clean, and are able to keep a constant temperature with ease. While some people prefer using a more traditional type of forge, like coal or wooden forge, people just starting off in their blacksmithing careers (or hobbies) would do best to stick something that’s easier.
In my experience, gas or propane forges are perhaps the easiest type of forge to learn how to use and master.
My Top Gas Forge for $200
Most gas forges within the $100-$200 range are pretty similar. Arguably my favorite forges nowadays are made by the Simond Store, which specializes in making high-quality, but affordable forges. They’re not perfect, but for their price range, you’re getting a lot of proverbial bang for your buck.
My top recommendation is the double burner, oval knifemaking gas forge. Don’t let the name fool you; a forge dedicated for knifemaking is still perfectly appropriate for most blacksmithing projects. Unless you’re forging something that’s quite large, you’ll be able to fit whatever you want inside this particular forge.
Unlike some other knifemaking forges out there, this particular double burner from Simond is pre-rigidized as well as completely insulated from the inside. If you don’t know what that means, a rigidized coating essentially insulates you from dust particles in your forge. The last thing you want is to be breathing in these dust particles, nor do you want it messing with you project.
It also features a maximum heat range of 2,600 degrees, which is more than enough to heat up steel, iron, or any other metal you have out there. As I said, the actual forge space is small – around 4.4 inches by 6.3 inches, with the full forge itself being 18 inches from its longest angle. However, the good news is that it’s small enough and light enough to carry around wherever you want to go. Normally, I don’t look at forges for their portability, but this one certainly is an “on-the-go” forge for people that travel a lot.
Other alternative gas forges
There are a couple of others that I think are worth mentioning, once again from Simond Store. If you think the above forge is too small (or too expensive), there are other options available for you. There’s a triple burner gas forge that comes in at around $320, instead of the $200 the previous model costs. At the same time, there’s an even smaller $130 model, although that one I find is incredibly small and tricky to use at times.
Why Gas Forges?
If you’ve used a gas-powered barbecue before, you’ll already have a pretty good idea of how to use a gas forge. Now, that being said, that doesn’t make them fool-proof. You still need to know what you’re doing, as hot temperatures plus propane are a recipe for disaster if you aren’t careful. Thankfully, as long as you’re not doing something stupid, gas forges are pretty darn safe to use. Assuming you’re well ventilated, the fumes from the gas aren’t going to cause much harm.
Safety aside, gas forges shine in their simplicity. Unlike some other kinds, it’s super easy to turn on a valve and start heating up your forge for use. Unlike coal forges, where heating up takes some time and you’ll always have to be monitoring whether your heat is decreasing, a gas forge stays at a constant temperature. That’s one less thing you need to worry about while forging away at something.
Another benefit of gas forges is that they’re super cheap. You can find a good gas forge for between $100-$200. In this price range, the actual forge space is going to be small, but it should be enough for most beginner blacksmithing projects.
If there’s any serious downside, it’s that gas forges don’t feel as historical or “traditional” as other types of forges, like coal or even wood-powered forges. A lot of blacksmiths I know pursued this hobby because they want to “feel” like a traditional blacksmith, and our modern, 21st-century tools certainly takes away from that old-school feel. However, that’s a small price to pay for the ease and simplicity of a gas-powered forge. Especially if you’re just starting out and want something that’s simple to use.
Are Gas Forges Right for You?
For the vast majority of beginner blacksmiths, you can’t go wrong with a gas-powered forge. As long as you’re keeping yourself well-ventilated and safe, there’s not much you should worry about.
On the chance that you do prefer a coal-powered forge instead, I’d recommend you check out this article. I go over another coal forge I’ve found recently that’s perfect for all you gas-hating blacksmiths out there.
In the end, it’s all up to you. Whatever you find yourself enjoying or preferring more is ultimately the way to go.
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