Friday November 10, 2006. This page is part of an ongoing discussion and series of email replies. In the past I have either posted photos direct to the web and sent links to them in my replies or created temporary pages like this to show photos. Since I need to repost replies to the same subject to different people and consequently repost this material each time, I have decided to just leave it published to the webs and share the links with all. Items on this page are temporary as they are scanned from books and are copyrighted by other authors, and I did not get their permission to use them. Photos are subject to removal if the owners ask me to do so. Sources of the books are listed with each photo so you may locate and obtain these books for yourself.
Subject: Side Blast Forges
Modern blacksmithing equipment made in England by The Baker House Group. Click on the thumbnail photo at left to see the full size view. A full page advertisement appearing in the 2002 Centaur Forge catalog. Shows a fabricated sheet metal forge with cast iron tuyere. I believe this to be a water cooled tuyere because the cross-section drawings of this tuyere appearing on the Baker House Group website show the water gallery surrounding the air passageway. More pictures of these forges can be seen at the website at http://www.bakerhousegroup.com/ .
Centaur Forge distributes some of Vaughns forges and anvils and other tools.
Modern style side blast forges in England. Still pictures captured from video. Sheet metal and angle iron forges with cast iron tuyeres. Click on the thumbnail photos at left to see the full size view. These are still captures from the video Heavy Going by Stonehouse Video.
This small series shows horseshoers using the forges to shoe draft horses. Picture at far left is in a brewery in London. Right side photos are a farrier making shoes for Shire horses. The two far-right side pictures are seen close enough to note the cutouts in the side of the forge. These cutouts look to be only temporarily blocked with piece of wood to help hold fuel in the hearth and the boards can be removed to allow long bars to pass through the heart of the fire. Small forges are all that is needed to shoe drafts. These forges appear to be around 30"-32" square.
Modern style side blast forge from England scanned from The Blacksmith's Craft. Built of sheet metal and angle iron with a cast iron tuyere nozzle. Click on the thumbnail photos at left to see the full size view. Side Blast forges in the "British Alcosa" style. These scans were taken from the book The Blacksmith's Craft by The Countryside Agency. ISBN ? Book ordering info at end of this article.
In these drawings we can see the way the connections are made to mount the tuyere nozzle on the water tank and the way the electric blower is mounted to the supply inlet of the tuyere. We can also see the way the tank is mounted to the rear of the forge and we can see how the tuyere nozzle extends into the fire.
This is the modern style side blast forge that we see in most photos of British blacksmiths in the 20th century. The forges in these photos are built of thick steel sheet metal and angle iron. A deep bed for cinders and what first appears as a large tuyere in relationship (size) to the rest of the forge. The large appearance of the tuyere has much to do with its double wall construction that allows water to circulate through the nozzle portion of the tuyere to cool it. The air hole in the tuyere is possibly 3/4" diameter and about 16 inches long and placed 3 inches below the sides of the hearth. A little too deep for my impression for heating long bars that must extend across both sides of the forge hearth. I have not used one of these types of forges before but I think the air hole of the tuyere might be better set at about 2 inches below the sides of the hearth so that the sides of the hearth don't raise the level of long bars of iron too high above the heart of the fire. Earlier in the 20th century these forges were manufactured by British Alcosa hence the name of the style. They are still made today by another manufacturer listed further below in this article.
Modern style side blast forge from England scanned from Decorative Ironwork. The hood of this forge appears to be made of cast iron along with the body of the forge. Click on the thumbnail photos at left to see the full size view. These scans were taken from the book Decorative Ironwork. This is another book by The Countryside Agency described in the text above. Formerly published by CoSIRA and more recently by the RDC.
The forge in this scanned photo appears to show a cast iron side blast forge ready-made in a factory. The exhaust pipe is simply mounted to the flange given at the top of the cast iron hood. Same approximate dimensions as the forge in the first set of photos above.
This not the first time that I have run across photos of what appears at first to be, a cast iron version of this type of forge. See the latest scanned photos farther down in this article (Shoeing Clydes the Old Fashioned Way In Scotland) of another manufactured side blast forge with the large size and massive imposing construction that gives the appearance of being made from cast iron.
The Principles of horseshoeing II The scan at left is taken from the book The Principles of Horseshoeing II by Doug Butler. This page shows another British Alcosa style side blast forge. The sideblast drawing appears to be of a sheet metal and angle iron 'modern style' or British Alcosa style forge. Note the water tank on the back of the forge and method of connection of the tuyere nozzle to the tank. A series of gaskets seal the connections of the tuyere nozzle and tank to make them water tight. This picture gives us a nice cross sectional view of the positioning of the tuyere nozzle in relation to the sides and rear of the hearth.
This is the only reference found in this book concerning the sideblast forge yet is shows a good cross section comparison of the position of the tuyere nozzle in relation to the sides of the hearth. We see the nozzle is only slightly below the level of the sides of the hearth. Other forge designs are also well drawn for comparison and really show off the designs of the internal sections of the brick sidedraft chimney, small enclosed hooded chimneys, a few firepot designs for fabrication, and a good side-blast style forge. The author of this book has traveled to large horseshoeing competitions in the U.K. so he has seen and possibly used them. The latest photos of side blast forges below were taken at one of these competitions.
Indoor and Outdoor side blast forges scanned from an article in The Small Farmer's Journal magazine from Fall 1985. Click on the thumbnails to see the larger photos. From the article Shoeing Clydesdales The Old Fashioned Way In Scotland. The article depicts a recent horseshoeing contest held in Closeburn Scotland in early 1985. The only methods allowed to the blacksmith for this contest, were the traditional methods available to blacksmiths in the 1930s. All the forges seen in these photos are of the sideblast variety. Most were fabricated of sheet metal and angle iron. One appears to be of a cast iron ready-made manufactured design. In the photo scans far left we see what appears to be a homemade side blast forge made of sheet metal and angle iron. The photo near left (right photo) has the appearance of a ready-made cast iron forge. However after looking more closely at this photo I think it is possible that sheet metal was stamped into these shapes and the forge is possibly made entirely of sheet metal. The forge in the right photo has a homemade brick backing on the rear wall of the hood. Look closely and note the arched corbelling at the lower brick wall where it arches over the large tuyere flange. If this works anything like my first forges, it may be that the blacksmith built this brick wall to help the smoke flow up into the chimney. Smoke has an affinity to flow towards walls and other objects and having built a brick wall closer to the fire than the original steel or cast iron rear wall offers a path help guide the smoke upward towards the inlet of the chimney flue. The cast iron forge is similar in design to the one that appears in the photo from Decorative Ironwork above.
Outdoor side blast forges scanned from the above Small Farmer's Journal magazine article describing a horseshoeing competition in Closeburn Scotland in 1985.
The forges shown in the three photos at left use no chimneys. The slanted top of the hood appears to guide the smoke away from the smith. There is a rear wall at the back of the forge that seems to extend upward about 2 feet. Above that rear wall the forge hood enclosure is open up to the rear edge of the top of the hood. The front of the forge is open from the hearth to the edge of the top of the hood. The sides are fully enclosed. In the photo on the right side of the three above, we can see a modern motor starter switch box mounted to the front of the forge on the left side. The outdoor forges all appear to be made of sheet metal and angle iron.
To Summarize this side blast forge article.
Materials of construction. The deep hearths in these photos suggests that we could build forges of this style using just about any material we like such as wood, brick, steel, or masonry. The photos from The Blacksmith's Craft and Decorative Iron and Principles of Horseshoeing II display forges build of either cast iron or sheet metal and angle iron and pipe.
There are several forges on this website showing custom built sideblast style forges, one of which is seen on my webpage Steam Show Smith. This forge built of masonry has a concrete hearth and hollowed out 'ducks nest' for the fire. The tuyere is a length of iron pipe inserted through the back of the forge from the bellows, the pipe protrudes directly into the side of the ducks nest underneath the chimney.
Another example of a sideblast forge displayed on this website is at Haverhill Blacksmith. The Edel Shop in Haverhill has a wooden forge hearth with brick chimney and is supplied by air from a bellows or blower in a remote section of the shop. I believe the air is supplied to the fire from a sideblast style tuyere which can be seen as a large piece of pipe entering the front of the lower hearth cinder box under the front of the hearth.
For reference purposes, I describe the front of the forge as being the opposite opposite from the back of the chimney. The chimney is at the back of the forge and the area of the hearth farthest away from the chimney being the front of the forge. The smith therefore works (at most forges) from the side of the forge. This applies unless describing a small enclosed forge in which the smith must access the fire through the front of the forge.
Heart of the Fire. Throughout this website my emphasis on good forge design contains one very important point; that the heart of the fire is the central theme to good forge design. So once more let's review the basics. The heart of the fire in most forges is the size of a man's fist, and it is the heart of the fire which heats the iron. To make most use of fire we must therefore place the iron through the heart of the fire to heat it efficiently and anything that would prevent us from placing the iron through the heart of the fire (example: sides or hearth edges that lift the iron above the hearth and fire) will also prevent us from heating the iron quickly and thus working quickly, and will cut into our profits.
The depth of the tuyere in relation to the sides of the forge hearth effect the length of the bars we can heat. If the tuyere nozzle is too deep in the forge below the sides of the hearth (hearth sides or edges too tall) then the iron will need to be bent to fit down into the heart of the fire or we will need to burn the fire much hotter and consume more fuel to increase the size of the heart of the fire to reach up to the iron. Bending the iron wastes time and profits in useless re-straightening of the work prior to each move to the anvil and then bending each time before placing back into the fire. Therefore depth of the tuyere nozzle is of utmost importance. The tuyere must be set to a level which will place the heart of the fire, centered, approximately level with the hearth- with half the heart of the fire above the level of the hearth and half below that level.
Of course for small or short bars of iron which will not be resting across the edges or ends of the hearth, the tuyere nozzle level isn't so important because the shorter bars can be slipped down into the fire. But if the smith plans to work with both long and short bars of iron, but builds a forge that can heat only short bars of iron efficiently and not long bars, then he does himself/herself a disfavor. A smith who intends to work with long bars of iron should build the forge with that design characteristic in mind.
Where to buy the books. The Blacksmith's Craft and Decorative Ironwork are both available through Centaur Forge Ltd., Norm Larson Books, and can also be purchased from The Countryside Agency through their website at http://www.countryside.gov.uk/ . If ordering directly from The Countryside Agency then use the drop down menu at top of the Home page labeled 'Information', select Publications. Then Select Training & Craft Design. Then Select Craft Skills. Then Select Ironwork.
Where to buy Side Blast forges and parts. This style of forge is now produced by Vaughans (Hopeworks), part of The Baker House Group, in England. See their website at: http://www.bakerhousegroup.com/.
About the books and periodicals I used for this page:
The Blacksmith's Craft. This is a small and expensive book but is well worth every penny paid for it. CoSIRA made use of a simple step-by-step series of photos and text in each lesson, to take the serious blacksmithing student through a series of tasks aimed at teaching all the basic blacksmith skills while at the same time, making actual useful tooling and parts for agricultural equipment. The Blacksmith's craft also contains a lesson on the making of heavy fire tongs for the blacksmith and it is this book that taught me to make my own tongs years ago. CoSIRA later changed its name to RDC and most recently was absorbed into The Countryside Agency. This book is identical under all three former and current authors.
Decorative Ironwork. This is another small and expensive little book just like The Blacksmith's Craft and again worth every penny. This book teaches the forging and construction of a complete wrought iron gate using many traditional blacksmith's techniques. And like The Blacksmith's Craft, CoSIRA continued to make use of a simple step-by-step series of photos and text to teach each lesson. Don't know where to learn gate smithing? Here is the best introduction to this craft in print today.
The Principles of Horseshoeing II. This is a large and very expensive book used as 'The' text book in many horseshoeing schools today. There is a large chapter in this book describing professional style forges for the modern horseshoe and another on using the fire. New blacksmiths take note; the horseshoer that uses hot shoeing techniques is a professional with the blacksmith's fire. You can learn a lot about efficient fire handling from these techniques. ISBN 0-916992-02-0. Available through Centaur Forge Ltd, and through Norm Larson Books.
The Small Farmer's Journal. The Small Farmer's Journal is available at: Small Farmer's Journal, PO Box 1627, Sisters, OR, 97759. See their website at: http://www.smallfarmersjournal.com/. The photos above were scanned from the Fall 1985 issue, article named Shoeing Clydesdales The Old Fashioned Way In Scotland.
The Countryside Agency. The Blacksmith's Craft and Decorative Ironwork were originally written by instructors at the Council For Small Industries in Rural Areas (CoSIRA) in Great Britain. CoSIRA was reorganized sometime around the late 1980s or early 1990s and renamed Rural Development Commission (RDC). More recently the RDC was dismantled and some offices rolled into The Countryside Agency. The Countryside Agency no longer operates workshops to train new smiths but they do continue to arrange training for smiths. See their website at http://www.countryside.gov.uk/. CoSIRA no longer exists but their legacy continues to help smiths around the world today.
Author's Note. I do not use the side blast style forge and have no plans to in the future because I have easy access to good cast iron firepots here in the US. However the photos on this page and the links posted herein should help those who want to use this type of forge, or who are able to build only this type of forge economically.
Off subject note: If you like these the two books above authored by The Countryside Agency (formerly CoSIRA or RDC) then you gotta see their larger one, -and my favorite- The Thatcher's Craft that teaches the art of thatching roofs of buildings. The Thatcher's Craft also uses the step-by-step photo and text series lessons for teaching the new craftsman to build thatched roofs.
Free download for The Blacksmith's Craft and The Thatcher's Craft! Recently a reader alerted me to news that The Countryside Agency has begun offering The Blacksmith's Craft as a free PDF download. I just checked this out and found that they are indeed offering this book for free along with a large number of other titles of interest to blacksmiths. I urge everyone to get this book and also download The Blacksmith's Manual Illistrated as a reference for using large air hammers or power hammers if the smith upgrades his shop at a later date. These books can be found by searching their website here: http://www.countryside.gov.uk Click on the Publications link in the navigation bar and then in the search window, type in Blacksmiths Craft. Note that other books of interest to blacksmiths are also available but I don't know what page to find the listing on at this time.
The Thatcher's Craft has been out of print for a couple years and this is the only way to get it currently.
Page updated November 10, 2006
Updates: Links repaired.
The author can be emailed at address in picture below:
Page created August 30th, 2002.