Hammers, Fire, and the Best Forged Handles Ever

At Sommi Wine Cellars, we live for the details, and one of our favorites is our cellar's hand-forged handles and latches made by Orion Forge in Bend, Oregon. 

Orion Forge is one of a dwindling number of true blacksmiths remaining in the U.S., and it’s a distinction they're passionate about. 

“What we do is pretty unusual these days. There are lots of welding shops around that do wrought iron work. They’re not blacksmiths. They’re using tools from a catalog to make wrought iron — you can buy any number of cool scrolls that were forged somewhere (probably in China) and weld them all together.” says Hunter Dahlberg, owner and blacksmith.

Hunter buys the the steel for each Sommi Wine Cellar, scaling it for the project and specific dimensions, and then they heat it up, give it a texture using heat and pressure — which might mean hammering by hand or using their mechanical shop hammer that bangs up and down 150 times a minute — and punch the holes for the rivets.

"We’ve joked that the pieces we’re forging have a seven-generation lifetime — as long as they’re protected, they’re going to last a long-time, and there’s a tactility you just don’t get with wrought iron. When you see a real forged metal handle, people definitely respond to it.” 

We know we do, and we love helping clients customize their cellars with a different finish on their handles to make each one really fit with their space and style.

We recently had a chance to visit Hunter at his forge in Bend, where he was working on handles for an upcoming Sommi cellar project, in addition to forged bike racks for the Deschutes Brewery (which we can’t wait to see in action next time we’re in town!). 

Standing in the studio, warmed by the flames radiating from the forge and watching Hunter at work surrounded by tools that range in age from a hundred years old to brand new, you get a sense of the time and craft that goes into each piece and how unique each one is — a lot like the wines we and our clients are so passionate about. And that’s something we’ll definitely raise a glass to.