5 Gas Forges Under $500

Five Gas Forges Under $500 - Brown County Forge

So you’ve already decided that you prefer gas forges over coal. You like how easy they are to light, keep lit, and manage the temperature with.

But maybe you’re not sure how far your money can go.

Let’s break down five gas forges you can buy for under $500.

We’ll talk about pros and cons of each and where to buy them starting with the most expensive first.

1. Whisper Deluxe Gas Forge – NC Tool Co. – $498.00

NC Tool Co Whisper Deluxe Gas Forge Review - Brown County Forge

This is a double-burner gas forge with a stainless steel door.

Firebox dimensions are 3″ x 12″ x 6″.

The hose, regulator, and gauge are included.

What I Like About This Forge

This forge is very similar to the first gas forge I ever owned.

I bought it from the resident blacksmith at the John C. Campbell Folk School way back in 2011.

Being a used forge, it cost me around $225. I used it for about three years and it survived multiple moves across the country and around the Northwest.

Never had a single issue with it. Easy to light, it got hot, and it stayed hot. A great way to start off blacksmithing on your own.

I made my first few hundred hooks with it.

Sold it to a guy in Corvallis, OR for close to my purchase price to free up space for my next move.

Possible Drawbacks

This is right at the threshold of $500. If you include shipping costs from NC Tool Company in Pleasant Garden, North Carolina you’re a little above the mark.

I’ll use a Southern Indiana zip code to get a shipping estimate:

From 27313 to 47404, I’m looking at $23.65 for shipping. My total would be $521.65. That’s for 2-Day UPS Ground.

Let’s see if we can get the price a little lower, though.

2. Whisper Baby Gas Forge – NC Tool Co. – $465.00

Whisper Baby Gas Forge - NC Tool Company Review - Brown County Forge

Also from NC Tool Company, the Whisper Baby is a good portable forge with a single burner.

The new design has a port on each end to allow longer pieces to pass through end-to-end.

Firebox size is 3″ x 7″ x 6.5″ making it just over half as wide and half an inch deeper. More of a square firebox shape.

Hose, regulator, and gauge all included.

It should be noted that NC Tool Company makes most of their forges to suit farriers. Many of the forges are built to be mobile, easy to lift, just big enough to do the job.

However, a farrier’s forge can easily be a knife maker’s forge or a traditional blacksmith’s forge. If it gets it hot, it will work.

What I Like About This Forge

  1. It’s small so it will get up to heat quickly.
  2. It’s lightweight so it’s easy to move if you need to store it.
  3. NC Tool Company has a long history of making quality forges and anvils.

Possible Drawbacks

Depending on what you’re forging, this may be too small. Most knives will fit great. Hooks are no problem.

But if you’re trying to do something large and/or ornamental, you’ll have some trouble.

Next, let’s see if we can find a less expensive forge with more burners and a little more room.

3. Three Burner Knifemaker Deluxe – Majestic Forge – $450.00

Majestic Forge Three Burner Knifemaker Deluxe Review - Brown County Forge

I prefer two burners for what I do, but I thought I’d throw in a three burner for comparison.

The forge box is 18.25″ long by 9″ wide and 7.5″ high.

The firebox (interior) is 18.25″ x 6″ x 4.5″.

Full pass-through for long pieces (swords, fence pickets, etc.).

Control valves on each burner so you can keep your heat localized.

I currently use a Two Burner Knifemaker Economy Forge from Majestic (see below). It’s a great forge so I’m confident that this bigger one is too.

To set this forge up, all you will need is a propane tank. The regulator, hose, and gauge are included.

Majestic says “Setup usually takes less than 10 minutes and is very simple. Full setup instructions are included.” – MajesticForge.com

What I Like About This Forge

Majestic forges get hot! The one I have in the shop can get up to forge-welding temperature if needed. Great on conservation for production work.

I generally can get a single 20 lb. propane tank to last 6-10 hours depending on what I’m doing. At $12ish per fill, that’s $1.20 – $2.00 per hour. Excellent.

Possible Drawbacks

Three burner forges will go through gas pretty fast. Keep that in mind when considering what to buy.

Let’s get a little more economical and see what else Majestic has.

4. Two Burner Knifemaker Economy – Majestic Forge – $325.00

Two Burner Knifemaker Economy Gas Forge Review - Majestic Forge - Brown County Forge

This is the forge I currently own. I bought it in March of 2019 for $325 plus around $50 shipping.

Two burners with a factory rigidized vacuum-formed ceramic liner. High siliconized ladle brick on the bottom. Very durable interior.

Overall dimensions (without top burners): 13.75″ x 9″ x 7.5″

Firebox (interior): 13.5″ x 6″ x 4.5″

Full pass-through for longer pieces. I’ve only run into issues with pieces longer than 20 inches. They don’t balance well if you have the tip of the piece inside the forge.

The solution is to have a forge rest to prop up the end that’s outside the forge.

What I Like About This Forge

I like the price, the durability, and the fuel conservation. Solid forge all-around and durable enough for a full-time blacksmith’s shop.

I use this forge to teach 100 – 200 students each year and it holds up under their use.

Possible Drawbacks

A little on the short side for very long pieces as I mentioned above.

No control valves for the individual burners. You’ll have to control both with the main regulator.

Running it at 4-5 psi will do great for upwards of 6 hours depending on atmospheric conditions in your shop.

*This would be my choice for a beginner’s forge. I talk about it in the Blacksmith Starter Kit article.

Now let’s look at an unknown (to me) forge that’s just under $300 and has a great deal on shipping.

5. Atlas Single Burner Knifemakers Forge – $295.00

Atlas Single Burner Knifemaker Forge Review - Brown County Forge

This one is a gem of a forge and it’s reasonably priced.

From their description:

“The best forge for bladesmithing! Compared to the forges on eBay/Amazon, it gets hotter, the insulation will last longer, it won’t rust, and it only uses $1 propane per hour!”

Overall Dimensions: 12″ x 12″ x 6″

Firebox Dimensions: 2.5″ diameter x 11″ long (cylindrical chamber)

Stainless steel. Comes with a regulator and hose.

Purchase from Centaur Forge.

What I Like About This Forge

I’m a sucker for stainless steel and compact forges. The Atlas Single Burner weighs 19.8 pounds total.

It also has a sliding tool rest. That’s tricky to do on a compact forge.

The price is impressive as well. Shipping from Centaur Forge is only an additional $14.95 Flat Rate (Flat Rate shipping is one of the reasons I love Centaur Forge).

Possible Drawbacks

It’s very small. The chamber is just 2.5 inches across so you’re probably making one thing at a time.

That said, you’re going to save a lot of fuel in such a small firebox.

That nice stainless steel will likely get a tempering rainbow fairly quickly as it heats up.

Nothing too major here. Heck, and at that price I might buy one just to see how it does.

The Verdict

You can get a durable, high quality gas forge for less than $500. If you take good care of it, you’ll be able to pass it down to your great-grandkids.

For my money, I would go with either the NC Tool Co. Whisper Deluxe or the Majestic Forge Two Burner Knifemaker Economy.

I’ve owned both of them and they’ve kept my business running for years.

Have you found a good deal on a gas forge (used or new)?

Leave the story in the comments below. Your experience can help others.

Cheers,

Terran the Blacksmith - Brown County Forge
Terran the Blacksmith

 

Blacksmithing Plans for 2021

Blacksmithing in 2021 - Brown County Forge

After taking a few weeks off for the holidays, I’m starting to put together 2021 plans for Brown County Forge.

I’m using 2020’s successes and struggles as something to build on. So to start off, let’s talk about what worked and what didn’t in 2020.

Looking Back at Blacksmithing in 2020

A Good Start

January and February of 2020 were off to a great start.  I was getting steady orders at least every other day.

As news of the coronavirus starting coming in, I have to admit I panicked a bit.

Working for yourself in a non-essential industry can be tense at the best of times.

Add in an unexpected pandemic and you could be in real trouble.

Watching, Waiting, and Adjusting

As March started to unfold, I had blacksmithing classes to teach.

I started suggesting that we not shake hands and try to maintain a little distance.

By March 15th it was becoming clear that I should start rescheduling to be on the safe side.

This is a big deal in a business that relies on having people in the shop to teach.

If I have to cancel/postpone a class, it’s not that I’ve forfeited that revenue. However, it does mean that the number of days I can book has been reduced.

This does affect revenue. And that can affect keeping the lights on and continuing to offer classes.

Etsy Sales Pick Up

While we were all staying at home in April and May, I saw an increase in hook sales on Etsy.

My best guess at the time (and now) is that folks were stuck looking at their walls and started thinking about what they could put on them.

Home improvement and decorating were two industries that fared very well.

I didn’t know that would be the case at the time, but I tripled down on offering discounts to home hardware customers.

Most of the time this was a discount of 20% off on top of already Free shipping.

Seeing Some Light in May and June

May and June brought people back to the shop for classes while observing updated safety measures.

Masks were required and I painted white lines on the floor marking off 6-foot sections.

Being able to have people safely in the shop was a relief as well as a stressor.

I’m committed to teaching people how to forge, but I don’t want to be a reason anyone gets sick.

I had to balance these two things for the remainder of the year.

Summer into Fall

Etsy sales continued to surprise me as we all learned how to deal with social restrictions.

Classes also continued every weekend and often during the week.

However, in August I started thinking about the cold weather and normal flu season and what effect these could have on in-person classes and sales.

I made a plan to have all classes wrapped up by the first week of November, expecting there to be an increase in Covid-19 cases.

Better to remove a reason to be out and about than risk more people getting sick.

I still had hook orders coming in, but I was beginning to see some shipping issues. Overseas shipments either weren’t arriving on time or at all.

It would be early December before these delays really started hitting home in the U.S.

What I’m Changing in 2021

There are a few takeaways from 2020 that helped in planning 2021:

  1. More hook orders is great, but a body can only hammer so much.
  2. Scheduling classes could use a better system to avoid burnout.
  3. Whether it’s essential or not, people still love blacksmithing.

Coping With Making More Hooks

I make a lot of hooks in any given year. It’s what my business is built on.

2020 blew my past production out of the water. And my shoulders and elbows can tell the tale.

I’ve had more muscle and joint pain in the past year than ever before. Part of this is normal aging (at age 35 and 10 years into blacksmithing, this is still true).

But the majority of it is the repetitive hammerwork.

I know this to be true after taking three weeks off in December for the holidays. My shoulders returned to normal. I could lift again without pain.

And as soon as I went back to the shop to hammer out orders for this year, my old pains flared back up.

So, what’s the action to take?

I think the goal for this year will be to moderate how long I swing a hammer in a sitting. Shorter bursts, but more of them.

So instead of working in the shop for 6 hours at a time, I’ll be breaking that up into three 2-hour sessions.

I’ll also be switching up my tasks more often. To give you some background into what it takes to make a set of hooks, this is the handful of tasks:

  • Cutting steel
  • Grinding and smoothing sharp corners
  • Forging
  • Wire brushing
  • Drilling holes
  • Finishing with beeswax

Each task doesn’t seem like much, but add them all together and you can get sore.

The main one for me is holding my arms in tight positions while I’m grinding. This creates tension in the shoulder blades and fascia that leads to inflammation.

The remedy is to do all of my cutting on one day, break up my grinding, and break up the forging.

The remaining tasks are pretty light-duty and can be added to some of the others.

Scheduling Classes to Avoid Burnout

I’ll say at the top that I enjoy meeting and working with people.

The opportunity to take someone new to blacksmithing and show them how is rewarding.

That said, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool introvert. I lose energy in social settings very quickly.

What students don’t see is the extensive downtime it takes outside of class for me to put my maximum energy into teaching.

I’m not complaining. I set it up this way on purpose knowing my strengths.

So, what happens when you prep classes and teach 2-4 times per week for 45+ weeks of the year?

You can get burnt out.

What’s the action to take?

To keep my energy up throughout the teaching year in 2021, I started booking in a different way.

Instead of teaching every Saturday and Sunday (excluding holidays, Father’s Day, and Mother’s Day), I changed the dates to Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

This still provides three days a week for blacksmith classes, but it allows me to have a partial weekend (like a normal person =]). Sundays should be for resting, anyway.

It also ensures that each student gets the best of me when they’re in class.

The other scheduling change is doing classes in seasonal sprints. Rather than booking classes almost every week of the year, I’ll be teaching March-May and September-November.

Similar number of classes available, just condensed into three month periods.

The other added benefit is that we (students and instructor) avoid the most brutal temperatures of peak summer and the dead of winter.

Give the People What They Want

In 2021 I’ll be working on some new blacksmithing focused projects. These could include:

  • More in-depth how-to articles: knife making, how to set up a home shop, etc.
  • A podcast all about do-it-yourself blacksmithing. I started this a few years ago, but set it aside as business took over.
  • Some kind of kits for blacksmithing and knife making. I’ve seen a huge increase in interest in my Blacksmith Starter Kit article in the past year. While I don’t have the infrastructure to offer complete kits to ship, I’m thinking about ways to make it easier for people to get started.

What Sparks Your Interest?

After reading through this 2021 blacksmithing update (thanks!), what are you interested in for the new year?

More how-to’s? A podcast? Knife making kits?

Leave a comment below.

Cheers,

Terran the Blacksmith - Brown County Forge
Terran the Blacksmith