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Excerpt from
Issue #218 March 2009

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The Blacksmith’s Journal first published plans for an all steel side draft forge in the #25 September 1992 issue. Since then they have become fairly common and are often seen at blacksmith events. The original 1992 forge was eventually upgraded to a Centaur paddle wheel blower with electronic speed control. The problem with the electronic speed control is that the motor is slow to react to small increases in speed, making it hard to control the fire. The solution is this air inlet damper that is operated by a crank located next to the speed control. Now, small precise draft adjustments are possible without having to slow down the motor.

The key to forging this motif are the tools. Several custom made chisels and the Smithin’ Magician (which is an ideal tool for doing this kind of work, especially if you’re working without a helper) are used here. This example is made in a ¾” bar—it is practical to forge it in stock from 5/8” to 1” square. The tendency when making something like this is to take too many heats, which tends to pit and damage the surface of the steel. Avoid using a torch and work quickly, taking advantage of each heat.