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Setting up in residential area?

Posted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:10 pm
by NMcCartney
Hello everyone. My name is Nathan and i am finally at a point that I can start learning the joys of blacksmithing. As of right now I will be doing what I can at the Hack Factory in Minneapolis, but what I want to do is get a coal forge set up in my back yard come March. My concern is that I will be living in north Minneapolis, and I'm not really sure about the legality of doing this in a residential area. Does anyone know where I can look up the laws or regulations for doing this? I am going to be letting my neighbors know what I'm doing and invite them to check it out to hopefully keep them from calling in complaints, but it would be nice to have a legal reference and so far I haven't been able to find anything. Thanks everyone!


Re: Setting up in residential area?

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:31 pm
by Martin Pansch
Hi Nathan.

This is a tough question to answer because there are so many different laws to look at. City, state, federal, zoning, environmental, etc. I worked in the Hennepin County Jail for several years and came to the opinion that it is impossible to exist within a city limits without breaking some law or another.

The other problem is that blacksmithing just isn't common anymore. So you can't just Google "Minneapolis blacksmithing laws." Instead you have to look at the component parts of what you're doing.

In general it comes down to whether someone complains about you to the authorities. In that regard you have plotted a good first step by checking with your neighbors. Once you get going you might want to make them something from time to time do keep on their good side. Also make sure your work habits take your neighbors into account. Don't be banging on an anvil too late or too early (and take good steps to quiet it down if you don't have a Fischer or other stealth anvil), keep an eye that your smoke isn't going somewhere inconvenient like towards their freshly washed laundry on the line.

As far as actual laws to look out for, the first law I would reach for if I was a cop responding to a complaint would be to look at the recreational fire laws.

On top of that is this statue 178.30 which basically says the authorities can put out any fire that is unsafe, a nuisance, etc.

After that I would go to the noise ordinances: ... /index.htm

Either of those is probably enough to shut down a shade-tree smith or at least give one enough fines and hassles to dissuade you. If I wanted to really pile on I would check out zoning laws and maybe the Minneapolis Pollution Control Agency's interpretation on the Clean Air Act (coal smoke).

I know we have members who do run a coal forge in Minneapolis so I know it can be done. One ornery neighbor can do you in though.

If the coal smoke doesn't fly you might want to look at building and using a gas forge. I have it on good authority that Jim Moenck is going to be running a gas forge building class this spring...

Good luck.

Re: Setting up in residential area?

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 4:50 pm
by NMcCartney
Thanks for the links, might print them out and keep them near my work space. I'm probably only going to forge between 10 am and 6 pm anyway unless my garage ends up being more sound proof then I think. In which case I might forge later in the evening. I'll also be using one of the 4x4 "anvils" from Old World Anvils with a tree stump for a base (until I can find an actual anvil that I can afford) so hopefully that will keep it from making to much noise.

As for the gas forge class, do you know where I can get some info on it? Or just send him a message?

Thanks for the help.

Re: Setting up in residential area?

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 9:28 pm
by Martin Pansch
Hey Nathan.

There is normally plenty of quiet, cold work that you could do after hours. If your neighbors can hear that you are filing wrong. ;)

I have no idea how much noise the 4x4 stump anvils make. I would guess they are relatively quite based on their shape but could be wrong. I'd be interested in knowing how it works out for you.

If you haven't ordered it yet and are willing to go a with a bit smaller surface area I got some 4140 drops that are about some are 3 1/2" others 4" diameter rounds that are maybe 15 inches long. Probably about 50lbs. They aren't heat treated, polished or have any square edges so there would be some work in it for you but I would pass one on to you for what I paid ($0) if you would like.

The gas forge class hasn't been advertised yet. I think it is slated for 9 May and will be at Jim Moenck's place in Dresser, Wisconsin (maybe an hour from the twin cities). Nobody can sign up for a class until it is advertised in the Forum. I would watch the Forum in March, maybe April, for the ad and when you see it send in your check fast as that one fills up fast.

Take care.

Re: Setting up in residential area?

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 10:08 am
by NMcCartney
Thanks a lot! Just sent you a message. =)

Re: Setting up in residential area?

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:23 pm
by KNelson
Another option for the gas forge (iffor any reason the Guild of Metalsmiths class doesn't workout for you) is the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis.,where my sons bought the gas forge class for me.

Re: Setting up in residential area?

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 10:10 pm
by Martin Pansch
Susan Wood gave this reply on the Bellows. Figured I would post it here for the continuity of the discussion and in case some folks are here but not on the Bellows.

Nathan, I am in South Minneapolis, residential as well. I don't use the coal forge everyday for 8 hours but when I do it's during lawn mowing hours, not early morning and not after dark. It's mostly that first green coal smoke when I start up that may raise eyebrows but that doesn't last very long and I check that no neighbor is entertaining in their back yard. I made sure my neighbors knew what I was up to rather than checking laws first. No one has sent the police or fire department, not like when I dug up my boulevard 20 years ago (yes a neighbor sent the police).

That's my advice.


Re: Setting up in residential area?

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 11:58 pm
by NMcCartney
KNelson, thats not a bad idea either. Going to keep them both in mind. Just to bad the winter basics classes are full already. Maybe they have a waiting list though in case someone drops out, lol.

Martin/susan, I am looking into getting some 55 galon drums and making my forge out of one and using a few others to possibly turn into a chimney that will be afixed to my work area. That way it could help keep smoke from blowing right into anyone's yard and hopefully keep from being as noticable.

While I really would prefer using coal, if need be I will go with gas so I can work at least. Better to do something than nothing.

Re: Setting up in residential area?

Posted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 6:09 pm
by Martin Pansch
And even more Bellow's input grafted here. This time from Herb:

My answer to the local building inspector who seemed to be a bit uptight about my pile of treasure alongside the driveway was pretty simple.

I just fix stuff for the near neighbors and they don’t complain.

That does mean I have very nice neighbors and I’ve had them for a long time.



Oh, there is a waiting list for the beginner class. Problem is it is probably so long at this point that there would need to be a plague epidemic to get in this year. If you are chomping at the bit for a beginner class I know Ken Zitur has a two day beginner class coming up in March I think. There should be an ad for it on the web forum here as well as monthly Forum that just came out.

You mention making a coal forge from a 55 gallon drum. I could see that. Might not be my first impulse unless I had a surplus of drums around. If that were the case I would make EVERYTHING out of drums! As an FYI though, I am again host a Poor Man's coal forge building workshop out at my place this April 25th. $40 class fee and everyone should walk out of there with a working forge including an electric blower (yeah, hand crank is better for beginners but I haven't completed the R&D on the Poor Man's manual blower yet). The ad just hit the Forum: ... 5forum.pdf

I've put a few of these together now so I almost know what I am doing. ;) If you do go forward with the drum forge though let us know how it goes and give a shout out here if you would like advice.

I am all for big diameter smoke stacks but stacking 55-gallon drums up might be overkill. Much heavier than needed too especially when you have stacked enough to get the height you need. Again, for me it would boil down to if I had a bunch for free. If not there are likely cheaper and easier ways to set up a stack for your forge.

Take care

Re: Setting up in residential area?

Posted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 2:18 pm
by NMcCartney
I might be getting the drums for free from a coworker, which is part of the reason we’re going to use them. The other big reason is because I don’t know how to weld and using a drum I should be able to put it together by just cutting and bolting it where needed. If the drums don’t work out we are going to buy a big bowl grill and make a larger, coal version of the “soup can forge”. This is on the condition I don’t make it to Martin’s forge making class of. Speaking of which how many spots are still open for it? Going to try signing up either Friday or the 20th.

The smoke stacks will also be conditional on getting the drums for free. My plan is to cut them length wise, cold hammer them into smaller cylinders, and bolt them into a stud when I decide where I want to put the forge itself. That way I won’t have to worry about the weight to much or set the chimney up every time, just roll the forge up under it.