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I Forge Iron

Side-draft forge info

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Hello eveyone. I need some help. I have made a side draft forge, it works well and gets hot fast. But someone said I have to have a good amount burning charcoal to get a good weld. Thing is that the forge eats up my fuel like paper. And being that there is lots of air, welding is tough, if not impossible. Getting up to welding heat is not a problem though. I chose the side draft design due to the lack of air to run through a long tuyere. My blower is rubbish, but I do what I can. Any help,tips or advice are more than welcome. Thanks guys!!

P.S- I have been having trouble with my welds and came to the conclusion (with help from you guys)that it was too much air,causing oxidation. Right? Is a side draft forge not suitable for welding?

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Side blast forges with charcoal were what was used to forge weld for over 1000 years, all the viking swords were forge welded in a side blast forge and traditional japanese swords are still made in a type of side blast forge using charcoal.

If you are having trouble it is probably with your forge design and blower.

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you need a deeper fire for charcoal than for coal or coke, about 7 inches from bottom of fire to top of fire.
the bottom third of the fire is oxidizing as that is where the air comes in and placing your iron in this area will usually burn it(oxidize it).
the middle third of the fire is neutral as most of the oxygen is used up by the time it gets there and this is where your iron should be for heating purposes.
the top third is carbuerizing and your iron will not get as hot but will carbeurize imparting extra carbon into the iron making it brittle.

charcoal does burn up fast in a forge, and puts many fleas (little bits of hot charcoal embers) into the air that find their way down your neck and on your clothes and skin.

Have you tried banking (surrounding) your central fire with wet charcoal (charcoal soaked in water) to control the size of your fire, this will also make the center fire much hotter and you will need less air.
Banking a fire with wet coal, helps turn the coal into coke that is what really does the actual heating in a coal fire and also conserves coal as it narrows the fire to a more managable and conserving fire.

Side Blown is when the air enters the fire from the side.
Side Draft is when the fumes, smoke and heat is drawn off the fire by a flue placed at the side of the actual fire.

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