Buying a Furnace and Burner

Discussion in 'General foundry chat' started by Joe Avins, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. Joe Avins

    Joe Avins Copper

    I keep thinking about building my first setup, but only because that's what everyone does. I'm really more interested in using the equipment than making it (sacrilege?) and buying is not out of the question if 1) the quality is sufficient and B) the price is not oppressive.

    I've read some derisive reviews here of the Devil Forge. Are there decent forges to just buy and use affordably? If building is the hands-down best way to go then I'll do it (and yes, I'll have fun doing it) but that's really not the goal.
  2. Al Puddle

    Al Puddle Silver Banner Member

    I know where you're coming from. For me, C) time was real important. I went with ordering a furnace kit from Lionel Oliver over in www.backyardcasting. I had to fiddle with casting the refractory but, that was about it. Estimate $500 to include a few tools. The plus side of casting refractory is you can cast several plinths while you're at it. Those are expendable materials during the life of your furnace.

    Buying a used one might be a good idea. That way you can refine your thinking on a more expensive one while getting some practical experience.
  3. Jason

    Jason Silver Banner Member

    Build it dude. You'll get what you want and it will be MUCH better quality than the junk devil forge sells. Get a box of kaowool and a big of mizzou or kastolite. Pick your fuel source and get crackin on your burner. By building your own burner, you'll learn how to properly tune it.
    The other option is sourcing firebrick. The soft stuff cuts with a damn handsaw. Splash some refractory mud on the joints and ya done.

    If you want a high quality furnace that will last a lifetime, mail me a grand and I'll build you one. That's would be the minimum I'd take to part with mine. I didn't move too fast, but I did spend a few months from start to finish. The missing piece here is honestly the satisfaction of YOU building this contraption yourself. When I see a youtuber fire up a DF, I stop watching. I have pretty much zero respect for people that aren't willing to put in the time, heart and effort it takes to do this stuff. Remember any moron can melt shit, it takes TIME to build the knowledge and skills to make things like patterns and tools. Any shortcuts and you'll miss out on important parts of the journey and short change yourself.

    If you didn't have this AMAZING resource called thehomefoundry and the 1000+years of experience from all it's members, i'd say buy the DF. This group of people here have the resources and knowledge to help get this done. You should start your own build thread and keep updating it. You'll will find having us by your side, will help push you through to completion. I did the same thing when I built mine. In fact, here is my build thread! That was almost 5yrs ago and it's still going strong. I am just now having to think about rebuilding the steel rim under my lid, not too shabby. Since then, I have asked the dumb questions, done as much research as I can for my particular casting method and learned a ton hanging around here and over at AA. The good part about the DF setup, it's slowed down the flood of dumbasses we had showing up with questions about their KingOfbullshit plaster of paris furnaces.. :rolleyes: Remember, even if you cannot get castable refractory where you are, 2 inches of kaowool is CHEAP to buy and cheap to ship. It weighs nothing. You can get the stuff to paint over it to save your lungs. There is the box of wool. You'll be glad you bought a box. This stuff comes in handy more than you'll realize.
  4. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Silver Banner Member

    Many of us have homemade furnaces like Jason describes - a wall of dense castable refractory that's kinda thin but not that thin yet is super durable and keeps the ceramic fiber blanket (or insulating firebrick) behind it sealed up nice and safe. Furnaces like that can survive the harsh blast of a waste oil burner and ought to last years if not a lifetime. And they are heavy enough they definitely need to be built into some sort of sturdy cart if they are going to have to be moved around at all.

    Mine took me a whole summer to build in my spare time, and it's quite a heavy bit of equipment. I think it has about 150# of refractory in it. The stuff wasn't that cheap or easy to find.

    I have no regrets, but I can understand not wanting to spend that much money and a whole season and only just be ready to start melting metal by the end of it.

    I can see how a devil forge unit might look like a way around that. Yes it is sacrilege, but honestly, it's only mild sacrilege... as long as you make great castings with it. :p

    But they are still expensive, and they don't look super well built. Before you pull the trigger, do yourself a favour and check out how Fishbonz built his super lightweight ceramic fiber blanket and satanite furnace real QUICK and real CHEAP from what I can tell. Works great. It is surely much better and cheaper built than buying a devil forge:

    Up to you, but we can definitely talk you through your own build and offer lots of good advice if you decide to give it a try.

  5. Joe Avins

    Joe Avins Copper

    If you work on cars, do you respect only the people who make their own wrenches? In casting metal, do you make your own crucibles and smelt your own ore? When I go on vacation, even though there is a certain pleasure in driving to my destination, I'd usually beam there if I could, but of course I can't, so I drive and take what enjoyment there is to be had in it.

    When I wrote in the original post "I've read some derisive reviews here of the Devil Forge. Are there decent forges to just buy and use affordably?" perhaps I should have been more clear that DF is off the table and my question was whether or not there is a different and better source of good equipment that doesn't cost a fortune.

    If the answer is no then so be it, I'll build and take take what enjoyment there is to be had in it. If the answer is yes then I'll go that route and get right to learning about pattern making, mold making, pouring, and the other things that constitute my destination: the making of cast metal things.

    These are the possible answer answers to what I asked.
    • Yes, good equipment can be had and here's where/how to get it.
    • No, sorry, there's nothing better than DF out there.
    A statement of "You shouldn't even want to buy" is no answer at all. And if buying a good forge at a reasonable price means I will not gain your respect then I'm pretty sure I can live with that.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
  6. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Silver Banner Member

  7. oldironfarmer

    oldironfarmer Silver Banner Member

    Well put Joe. but around here there is no loss of respect for buying a furnace. General consensus, though, is that you can't buy as good as you can build, and it is very easy to build if you have metal working tools like a welder. And, what you can buy seems quite costly for the money. Whatever you buy or build you can count on help from here. We're all addicted and want to suck others in so we seem more normal. If you want to build I'll send you a propane burner.

    As far as prices, look for crucible tongs and you'll get sticker shock at what 5 lbs of steel will cost you.
    Petee716 likes this.
  8. PatJ

    PatJ Silver Banner Member

    Amen brother.
    I could not agree more.

    One other suggestion you may want to play around with is stacking either hard or soft fire bricks in a circle, stood up on edge, with the long dimension vertical.
    I make my first furnace this way and got my feet wet with my first aluminum melt.
    I still use one of these furnaces for aluminum melts.
    They are quick and easy to make, especially if you use soft fire brick (with hard fire brick you need a diamond hole saw to cut the tuyere hole). Soft fire bricks can be cut by hand with a hacksaw.
    I use a ceramic pottery shelf for the lid of my brick furnace, and use a half of a brick for the plinth.
    I used galvanized wire wrapped around the outside of the bricks in about four places, but have since purchased some long stainless hose clamps that will span around the bricks.

    I did purchase my first propane burner, which was a Hybrid Burners unit, and it works well, but I have transitioned to an oil burner that I built for iron melts to go with an iron-specific furnace that I made.
    I would not use a soft brick furnace for iron, but it works well for aluminum, and with hard fire brick it would work with brass/bronze and occasional iron work.

    If you go to the trouble of building a furnace and ramming the refractory, I would recommend using a minimum of a 3,000 F refractory in it like Mizzou, regardless of what type metal you will be melting. The biggest mistake I see is people starting out with low-grade refractory and then having to rebuild the furnace in a short period of time.

    Also, a furnace shell made of stainless steel is worth considering because furnace shells made from mild steel seem to rust out quickly, and if you go to all the trouble to ram a nice furnace, the last thing you want is to see the shell rust out in a year, and you have to start all over again .

    Just my 2 cents.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
  9. oldironfarmer

    oldironfarmer Silver Banner Member

    I think stainless steel is overkill if you can keep your furnace out of the weather. A well insulated furnace will not burn the paint off, and if it does not get hot enough to burn paint off it will last for many years. I feel the quest for stainless has hampered many builders. We have different ideas and that makes the aggregate that holds this place together.
  10. Jason

    Jason Silver Banner Member

    Make it a roller.. I'm still kicking myself for not making it 6 inches shorter.

  11. FishbonzWV

    FishbonzWV Copper Banner Member

    I've never seen a DF furnace but how bad can it be? It's just a steel shell lined with wool. What, $400 and you get the large one with burner and maybe even a cheap crucible? The main bitch about them was they sold them without a coating on the wool but now they come with a bag of ridgidizer thanks to Jagboy.
    If you buy it, get 10 pounds of Satanite and add a hotface.
  12. Jason

    Jason Silver Banner Member

    Thats about what I have in mine.... Wise man around here said once..

    Time, Quality, Money.... Pick 2.

    I didnt suggest there isn't good stuff available out there for sale. But you dont have a 20k budget for a turn key set up. For the same dosh as you'd piss away on a df, you can have a 1st class rig that will last you a long time and the cost to you is a small investment of your time.
  13. Petee716

    Petee716 Silver Banner Member

    Hell Joe, I've got an extra one I'm not using. Once they get that beaming thing figured out send me your address! Lol


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