Picking exactly what kind of forge you want is always a big deal for most beginner blacksmiths I talk to. There are generally two different types, coal-powered and gas-powered. Both have their pros and cons. To be perfectly honest, coal-powered forges aren’t as commonly recommended for beginner blacksmiths compared to their gas-powered counterparts. However, some people just prefer the “old-fashioned” feel of using a coal blacksmithing forge.
It’s that you – no problem. There’s no shortage of coal forges that are worth checking out. Here are a few that might be worth your time. In particular, one forge I believe to be the best coal forge for any beginner blacksmithing looking to get started.
The Single Best Coal Forge for Beginner Blacksmiths
If you’re looking for something simple, cheap, affordable, and traditional, then this specific forge from Simond might interest you.
It’s a small coal-powered furnace with a hand blower that you can turn yourself. From my experience, this little forge is super easy to operate and won’t take you long to figure out how to use. It’s also pretty easy to assemble as well. Despite being made out of high-quality steel, it’s surprisingly lightweight as well, around 15 pounds, give or take.
It’s a pretty cost-effective furnace as well, coming in at just $150 – give or take. Good deal, huh?
The only downside is that this forge isn’t that big as you would expect. Dimensions come in at around 12 by 15 inches, so you don’t have much room to work with. The actual flame is around an inch or two in length, so again, that’s small enough to work for most basic metalworking projects. However, if you’re trying to heat up something that’s wider than a couple of inches, you’re going to find this forge a bit inconvenient to work with.
Besides that, whether you’re forging a knife or making a basic home project for yourself, this Simond coal furnace is one of the best I’ve found out there, given its price point.
Now, if you want to spend more money, there are better options out there. Generally, I don’t recommend beginner blacksmiths spend more than a couple of hundred bucks on a forge, as I don’t think it makes much sense at your skill level. However, there are some alternatives that are fantastic, albeit pricier.
A company called Centaur Forge offers some of the better coal forges I’ve seen out there on the market. Mind you, these are some really expensive forges, but they are designed for professional blacksmiths that are willing to pay top dollar for all the bells and whistles.
You’re welcome to browse their website, as they have a variety of different forges available for sale. The only caveat is that most of these sell for $400 to over $1,500. So be warned.
Why Coal Forges?
That might be an odd decision, but a lot of people prefer working with coal rather than gas. It’s not the decision I would make for a beginner, but it’s still perfectly fine.
For most of blacksmithing history, coal and wood have been our go-to fuels for our forges. You can almost say that it’s in our blood and that we’re connecting with our ancestors who used to blacksmith using the very same techniques. There’s definitely a sense of carrying on the tradition, of going back to a simpler time when coal was used instead of propane.
Unfortunately, coal has a few disadvantages compared to modern gas-powered forges. For one, coal can get really messy. It might be that big of a deal but prepared to get dirty when handling coal on a forge. Coal forges also require you to manually keep an eye on the heat of your forge. Whereas gas forges can automatically keep your heat at a constant level, coal will gradually die down in time, so you’re going to constantly make sure your temperature is staying around an even level. Even if its not that big of a deal, it is a bit of a nuisance for beginner blacksmiths looking to get started.
On the flip side, that also means that coal forges are safer to use. Instead of playing around with propane, you don’t need to worry about potential gas leaks – as unlikely as they are – if you opt for a coal forge. It’s also worth mentioning that coal forges are quieter than gas forges.
Are Coal Forges Right For You?
In the end, it’s your decision as to what type of forge you want. For beginner blacksmiths, I still think gas forges are better for starting out. However, simple coal forges, like the Simond forge mentioned above, are still an excellent investment. Once you master using one type, the other will become pretty easy for you to use as well.
You can find more information about forges over here, where I talk about the best forges for beginner blacksmiths.
The 7 Best Blacksmithing Projects for Beginners
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