Steel Forge & Steel Side Draft Chimney

Temporary Shop Forge

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UPDATE September 16th, 2019.

Steel side draft forge in use. Summer 2001.My most recent custom forge.

A side draft coal forge built entirely of steel plate, angle iron, sheet metal, and pipe. This forge was made from materials and parts of from the forge in my old shop after I moved out. Actually made from the remnants of the forge hearth from the Steel and Brick forge seen here: .While not as comfortable as a brick side-draft chimney, this chimney draws almost as well, and this forge offers the same open atmosphere and better shop light  and visibility as a brick chimney while still being light enough to move and transport if needed. Side draft chimneys draw so well that all the soot and ash that used to fill the shop is instead, drawn into the chimney where it will soon be found piling up in the bottom of the smoke entrance. Shown here in nearly finished condition and in use, more refinements to be added later.

Page updated September 17, 2019.

The shop in November 2005.

This forge continues to be of excellent service despite its small size and unfinished hood. Whether it is for ornamental ironwork, horseshoes, light tooling, or heating heavy bars for working under the air hammer, this forge is currently doing everything in this blacksmith's shop. The shop is undergoing a major transformation into a more primitive look for use in some upcoming studio work. While we are going to be building a stone Tool boxes moved November 2005Steel Side-draft forge November 2005style forge, we still need a good working forge to make many of the iron tools and hardware for the new shop. The forge on this page has proven itself practical enough that we will likely keep it after construction of the new stone forges, and bring this steel forge  out of storage for temporary use when we again host classes for blacksmiths. Click on the thumbnailed photos at left to see the current shop setup with this forge. More photos can be found on the Blacksmith Classes page here: .

Another Hoodless Forge DesignDimitri's Hoodless Forge Design Internal dimensions of the chimney on this forge are based on Dimitri Gerakaris's hoodless forges in the Anvil's Ring Vol. 7 #1 from March 1979. These designs were chosen because they did not smoke like other chimneys of the previous era. Anyone that has seen an old brick chimney built during the 1900s is aware that the chimneys during that era were all smoky. The forges featured in the Anvil's Ring Vol. 7 #1 solved that problem and featured a smoke shelf to help chimney draft during weather turbulence.


The forge in use

Properly built chimneys draw well even during cold startup. CLICK TO ENLARGEChimney draws so well that flames literally touch bottom of chimney.This hood draws almost like a brick side-draft chimney. The flames and smoke bend literally sideways and enter at the bottom of the smoke hole in the hood, and this effect is very much evident in the thumbnailed photos at left. This hood draws so strongly that even the cold smoke from the initial startup with green coal is sucked right up the chimney. Click on the thumbnail pictures at left to see it up close. Because the hood draws so strongly, it literally pulls the flames and heat down onto the bottom of the fabricated steel hood prompting me to place firebrick on the bottom and sides of the inside of the hood to protect the steel from excessive heat. This hood is almost as nice as the brick one I built years ago. It works so well that I now wish I had built the hood for my spare cast iron forge this same style rather than the big clumsy conventional hood that my spare cast iron forge now has.

Find the dimensioned drawings and construction photos for this steel forge and hood on the Steel Hood Designs page here: .

Forge with fire out for night.One of the biggest difference seen in this forge design (compared with my first brick side draft chimney seen at ) is the position of the firepot in relationship to the smoke entrance of the chimney. In this new forge the firepot is placed closer to the smoke entrance, accomplished by the addition of two short side extensions and a small shroud above the smoke entrance. These haven't actually been added yet and we have temporarily placed firebricks and a piece of sheet metal above and around the smoke entrance until a they can be added permanently later. Photos will be updated when the new parts are completed. The shortened distance from the firepot to the smoke hole of the hood take advantage of the higher velocities of ambient air sweeping across the fire to enter the chimney. The smoke and gases from the fire are actually forced downward by ambient air flow to enter the lower part of the smoke entrance in the hood thus the need for the firebrick to protect the lower end of the hood.

Side view showing simple air ducting to tuyere.Increasing hearth height around the fire. Firebrick is used to increase the height of the coal  and coke around the fire so to use gravity to help keep fuels moving into the fire during use. The firebrick forms a trough in which the fire and work is placed and later on I plan to start adding this trough into the construction designs of my next forges. An example of this trough without fire and fuels in the way see the forge on the Dows Blacksmith page at .

Firebrick lines bottom and sides of smoke box.Firebricks line the bottom of the chimney hood. The firebricks are about 2 inches thick and are placed on the bottom surface and sides of the inside of the hood. Firebricks placed on the bottom of the inside of the hood are level with the exposed edge of the angle iron frame. The firebricks help protect the steel from the high heat shooting into the bottom of the hood in use and help reflect heat up the chimney so less heat is lost into the shop. The bottom of the hood is angled downward into the hearth bed of the forge. I anticipated that this hood would be used with just about any large home-made or factory-made cast iron forge, and the bottom of the hood angled downward in this way will easily fit over the sides of most forges and still rest level on the hearth next to the fire.

Constructing the steel chimney smoke box.Smoke shelf built into the hood during construction. The smoke shelf inside the hood is made of sheet metal and welded to the inside of hood and the shelf is 6 or 8 inches above the top of the smoke entrance. The smoke shelf allows the hood to continue drawing smoke even when gusts of wind create unfavorable conditions momentarily inside the chimney. The position of the top of the smoke shelf was found by cutting the smoke entrance out of the sheet metal face or front of the smoke box and clamping it in place to the frame. Measurements were taken from the top of the smoke entrance and marked on the inside of the smoke box. The smoke shelf was positioned so that it would be about 8 inches above the smoke entrance. The position of the smoke shelf is visible in the construction photo thumbnail at right.

The smoke shelf is not a substitute for a chimney of improper height above the roofline. To learn more about smokeshelves go to and see the theory on smoke shelves half way down the page.

Hood frame materials. The hood is made of sheet metal and angle iron welded together. The frame is 2 x 2 x 3/16 inch angle iron. The bottom frame member in front of the fire is allowed to remain standing 2 inches tall next to the firepot since it offers no hindrance to fire building and since I normally place my firebrick on both sides of the fire to create a trough to help fire tending anyway.

The forge hearth

Hearth assembly. A bar placed on hearth is level through firepot. CLICK TO ENLARGEThe hearth plate from the brick forge seen on the Brick & Steel page was saved when I left my old shop, and the hearth plate for this forge was cut from that plate. Pictured here at left is my newest steel forge before I built the steel chimney and hood assembly. The hearth was built entirely of steel plate, pipe, sheet metal, angle iron, and assorted flat stock and hardware. It will also be noted (click on the thumbnail at left to enlarge it) that a bar laying level across the hearth and firepot, will lay right through the heart of the fire. The bar in the lower half of the photo at left can be clearly seen passing right through the top of the firepot. Long bars are easily heated in the forge because of this design.

This forge is much lighter than a similar size cast iron factory made forge and more easily moved and assembled or disassembled for transport. It measures 32" wide by 36 inches long, and stands 31-1/2" tall or about 1" below the knuckles of the hand when standing beside it. The firepot is a Centaur Vulcan saved out of the brick and steel forge and the blower is the same Alcosa seen in the photos of the brick and steel forge. The firepot measures roughly 13-1/2" wide by 12-1/2" long (the longer dimension being across the width of the forge or in line with the steel bar seen placed across the forge  in the photo at left). The distance between side edges of hearth and edges of firepot is 9". The rear edge of the firepot is 7-3/4" from the rear of the hearth and the front edge is 15-3/4" from the front of the hearth. Steel is much stronger and less likely to break or crack than cast iron, and more easily repaired and modified as well and, this advantage influenced my choice of construction material for adding a small light forge to my new blacksmith shop.

Firepot is level with hearth plate, shims built up on sides to support it.Firepot installed level with hearth. The firepot is mounted so that the working sides or edges of the pot are level with the hearth plate, and this placement allows the best access to the fire for heating the long bars and scrolls associated with gatesmith work. The hearth edge rail is made of 1/4th x 2 inch flat stock and its low profile helps to facilitate placement of large awkward work in the fire. The hearth plate is 5/16ths plate. The legs are 1-1/2" schedule 40 pipe. The pipe used for the leg mounts on the hearth are 2" schedule 80 pipe about inches long with 3/8ths inch tabs welded in several places and drilled and tapped for the leg mount hardware. Tabs offer more surface area for screw threads and help the mounting screws last longer. Scrap iron of various dimensions help block up the firepot to the appropriate height and help seal the area around the firepot so hot fuel doesn't fall through in use. Some 1/4 x 2" flat stock is added below the cutouts on the sides of the hearth rim to strengthen this area. A lip just barely visible in these photos offers extra area outside the hearth cutouts to support longer bars and add extra room to help catch fuel and keep it form falling off the hearth. The lip is tipped up slightly to make use of gravity to help catch fuel. The lip is exactly the same as seen on the Brick & Steel forge.

Blower mount designed with easy break-down and transport in mind.

Construction detail, rear of steel hearth and air ducting.  CLICK HERE TO ENLARGEThe blower is mounted to an arm (see photos at left) on the back of the forge so that the blower can be removed from the arm if needed. The arm is mounted to the underside of the hearth plate via a heavy slide type bracket. The blower and arm are heavy and  this sliding bracket allows the smith to pick up the blower and arm while assembled, place the arm into the sliding bracket mount and, then let go of the whole assembly to pick up hardware and tools to finish the installation at leisure.

Scrolls are welded on to the leg mount bolts presenting both a decorative touch and the practical advantage of being able to tighten the mounting bolts without needing a wrench. Seems that wrenches always end up packed at the most inconvenient spot on the truck when traveling so handles on the mounting hardware makes setup and breakdown much easier. The leg mounting bolts are 5/8th" x 2" long and this large size was chosen to help increase long life of the bolts and threads in the leg mounts.

Scroll handles on the blower mount hardware are not yet done. The hearth edge rails around the back will be increased in height so as to help contain the fuels when used without a hood, and to help support a portable hood for use in a tent or temporary setting.

The tongs racks from the brick and steel forge on the Brick & Steel page will be placed on this forge later on. They fit the rim that runs around the hearth of this forge and with slight modification for the larger one, both will be added to this forge.

More photos of this forge.

These photos show the forge and shop as it looked when first set up 2000 and 2001. The shop has changed quite a bit since then with the addition of an air hammer and other new machines, and new shop layout plan after the floor was repaired. Click on the thumbnailed photos below to enlarge them.

Fresh coal added to fire and this hood still draws strong. Summer of 2000.Forge fire lit and ready for use. Summer 2000. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Forge fire lit. July 2000.- CLICK TO ENLARGE

Old Photo - The shop July 2001.






Old Photo - The shop. July 2001.Old Photo - Forge in use. August 2001.Cold startup smoke draws well. August 2001.- CLICK TO ENLARGE




Latest update September 17, 2019.

The author can be emailed at address in picture below:


Page created July 18th, 2000.