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This thread was just started the day before the crash, so let's just get it going again.

I have ordered a 115# Octagon Iron Kiss pneumatic hammer from John Larson; it will be here mid July, and I have already selected a rigger for moving the 3,000# of hammer into my shop.

It is coming with a set of flat dies, and a set of combo dies.

I spent a couple of hours on a Big Blue 110# air hammer yesterday, and learned a lot, mostly how many new windows a power hammer opens.

So, let's share info, tips, techniques, pictures and have fun on this wonder family site!

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Ellen,

A huge topic, to be sure...I am a student of the flat die school so have 4x7 flat dies on a 100 lb mechanical hammer with a lot of "saddle" tooling and loose set tools. Many other smiths like combo dies and I do not believe there is one "right" answer. A lot will depend on what type of work you do and what your comfort level is in running the hammer. Having said all this, I'd probably start with the combo dies for general forging until you are quite comfortable with the hammer, then try something on the flat dies with a set tool.

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I have a 75lb Common Sense #2 mechanical hammer. I call it the purple beast. It runs off a flat belt. I have created a stand that holds a 5 hp motor with a couple of jack shafts to slow things down. The dies are flat, with the bottom being about 4" x 5" and the top being about 2" x 5".

I'm not completely comfortable using it yet. There is a lot more it can do than I can. I'm sure over time I will get much more use out of it.

There are a lot of pics of me rebuilding it on my web site at http://fredlyfx.com/hammer.htm

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In the other power hammer line, I was asking if anyone had any experience with the Phoenix hammer. I've been looking over their video presentation for quite some time now, but haven't made up my mind. If I had my druthers, I'd have a stable of power hammers that would make the faint of heart fall into a swoon. LOL

Given that I don't have unlimited space or capacity to involve, who has had what experience with what????

Tell me why you employ what you do. Tooling? Function? What else.... :-)

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I am using a 50 lb LG with flat dies. One of the first things I discovered is that FLAT dies don't work so well. Stay with me. I have radiused the edges several times til now they are about an 1/8" radius all around or maybe a bit more. I used an 80 grit flap disc and beeswax which leaves a nice finish. Next I recall Rsmith observing that an Slight crown on flat dies maybe a real good idea. Since I have been able to scuff up the dies as I learn technique, and they were due for some top buffing, I went ahead and dropped about 1/8" from the middle to the front in a progressive arc. The dies I have are 2 1/2" wide by 5" long. The middle strip, which is mostly flat for 1 1/2", then drops off to the edge which has a radius on it. Easiest way to visualize the profile is to think of it as an ellipse when viewed on end, then grind a flat spot on the top. That really improved things. I am still searching for more better improvements and would really like to go learn from Steve Parker and Uri Hofi. Two different approaches that work well.

Tooling: since the hammer allows me to hit bigger things a lot harder I can now get large pieces of 4140 and jack hammer bits coil springs etc. A tapering tool is one of the more used contrivances but I am still adjusting to exactly what I like. I really appreciate seeing Steve Parkers tutorial on hammer making. I am now making my tools as his are. short and with a light weight handle wrapped and welded. previously I was making them too tall and one piece.

I also would like to have a bunch of hammers to set up for different jobs. Currently I have enough parts to put together one of those cute little helve hammers like Irnsrgn built. VERY useful configuration. I hope to get a bigger hammer as well, I have located a 300 lb Beaudry for a good price but I have to get the money together and he may lose patience. Oh well living debt free is not for the faint of heart.

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I would beg to differ with Mills. Flat dies do work they just work differently than crowned dies. I have the original flat combination die set that came with my Fairbanks hammer, it has two profiles, a small section and a large section in one piece. Radiused edges but no crown. This die set will draw and smooth with no problem. It can form balls and complex shapes and can handle all the hand held tooling like spring fullers and clapper/spring dies with no change of the main dies. I have a clamp to hold some of the tools in place while working.

I have both this Fairbanks #25 running from an over head flat belt line shaft driven by a 3/4 hp motor and my own version of a spring helve hammer at 75#with a 1hp motor hanging off its back. The 75 has a slightly crowned die set much like Mills has made his. Either one will make the same shapes with experience. And believe me I have been working these hammers almost every day for years and just getting busier here all the time. If anyone wants to see how they work, please feel free to stop by sometime.

A note to FredlyFX- 5hp is so over kill for your 75# by a factor of 2 or 3. A well running 75# LG style hammer will work wonders with a 1.5 or 2 hp motor. Since I have limited power in my shop due to number of factors, plus the fact that I can run these machines off of my solar power if needed, I am much concerned with efficiency. Mechanicals are of course HUGELY more energy efficient than any air hammer, including the self contained.

I have also worked on a Bradley 300lb helve hammer with crowned dies. That was a beautiful thing. It inspired me to build my own hammer. I hope to actually end up with that machine here, or its twin, as our work is now demanding even more equipment.

A word of warning to power hammer users, there is a danger with all these hammers that is sometimes over looked. Forces that are generated by hitting the metal under the hammer dies is at least partly transferred to YOU. I don't care who says otherwise, but all the "forging industry" people and blacksmiths I know who regularly use power hammers have some damage to themselves of a sort. No matter how well aligned your hammer is, how carefull you are about working with the stock at exactly the right angle, not even taking into account the occasional really dumb manuever, some of that force is transferred. Repetative motion things and the like, carpal tunnel, tendonitis of various kinds and more are common place if you do a lot of this work. It probably ain't gonna be a problem if you are just playing around on the weekends but if you do a lot be cautious...Your mileage may vary...

I am currently on a weeks rest from heavy hammering, partly with ice packs, due to 8 weeks of almost daily pounding on these machines making stock for galleries and myself , culminating in my big spring studio tour and demonstrations for 400 people here. Much of that demo stuff on the power hammers too. Guys and gals both dig the big ka chunk of them.

http://www.frogvalleyforge.com

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Well, I have ordered 3 die sets for my Iron Kiss; flat dies, combo dies, and crown dies. I just watched Hofi's free form forging DVD, twice, need to order a copy of my own. I hope to take classes from both Hofi and Steve in the near future.

Yep, short handles are good. Big Blue sells a set of short tools, I think 12 in the set, and a set of locking tongs to use them with, all for $250. Might be a good investment.

Safety, well, safety glasses are obvious, but there is also the extra power you are dealing with. That is where I think some air hammers have an advantage, the power is more controllable, and the ram comes down absolutely straight, not off a flywheel. Based on the short time I had with the Big Blue 110# hammer yesterday, I felt very comfortable using it; it had combo dies and they were real nice.

Drew out a knife tang from O-1 in one heat from a short stubby thing to about 5" long, tapered and ready to use.

Also drew out cross piens on two hammer blanks I had ready to go out of 1 3/4" sq. 4140, now they go to the belt grinder. The hammer made short work out of these jobs, which I could not have done by hand. I know a lot of you guys could do that kind of work by hand but I am female and 60 years old, so realism has to be added to the mix of information here. Anything over 3/4" with a hand hammer is work for me.

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I have flat, combo and crown dies for my BigBlu 110. I use the flat dies with bolt on texture dies made from 2x1.2 flat stock. I do alot of texturing on cold stock. If you get the stock (especially long sections) out of allignment with the dies it will beat the poop out of you. I've got myself trained now to use on open hand grip and always be ready to quickly lift my foot of the treadle. The first time this happend I tried to to grip harder on the flopping bar. It didn't tkae me long to figure that was a bad idea. I also wear some thick padded work gloves when I use the hammer on cold stock.

A nifty add-on - I have a 1/2in bolt expoxied in the floor just inside the treadle. This bolt has a big threaded washer on it. I can spin this washer up or down to set the speed of the hammer. This is great for texturing lots of stock and you want constistant hammer hits - just stomp and go.

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Ironscot,
I looked at the Pheonix hammers also and asked the guys over on the Slacktub pub one night when the subject came up and one of the guys had one! He said they where great hammers and they where good for the money, but the companies service and tech support was almost non-existant! He ordered his and after calling constantly and threating legal action (months worth of that BS) they finally sent the hammer to him with no tooling, which he had pre paid for! He ended up making his own dies for it. For that kind of money I'd be leary of them, even though that guy was only one guy and I only got one side of the story. If you could go and directly pick the hammer up they might not try to hassle you face to face. You might call them and see what you can find out, and use your own judgment. You might post on the pub and see if anybody else has had any dealings with them.

Thanks
Richard

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"A note to FredlyFX- 5hp is so over kill for your 75# by a factor of 2 or 3."

Yes it was not my choice of motor, but I am staying with it now. I was out of money on the rebuild project, so a friend of a friend offered to buy me the motor when I was rebuilding the hammer in exchange for instruction and usage rights to make some cable damascus. I told him to get a 3hp 1750 rpm motor, and he came back with a 5hp 3450 rpm one. I had to add a second jack shaft to get the thing slowed down enough to work. Funny thing is, the guy has never called to come over and actually do any work, and it has been over a year. Good deal for me.

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Fredly:

Stay with the 5 hp motor..I have a 2.5 HP on my 25# LG...never even hiccups when I hit the clutch pedal...

I dunno about anyone else but me being the luddite that I am....my 25# LG does more than enough work/capacity than I will ever use and frankly, anything bigger scares the xxxxouttame....besides if I ever do NEED to move heavier stock I got Julius...

On the dies..I use either medium or severe drawing dies in my LG..mostly the medium..moves alot of material with very little distortion on the laminate....

JPH

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The power hammer debate will really get opinions flying in all directions. Some camps love small hammers - others want the biggest available. Some advocate only drawing dies, other folks want flat dies and still others like "half and half". Depending on who you talk to, air, steam and mechanical are each the best design. Like hand hammers, there ain't no one right answer. I once watched a guy work a piece of 3/8" square on a 4B Nazel...because he could...but Francis Whitaker owned a 25 LG (as does Dr. JPH) so the art does not stem from the size of the equipment.

My first hammer was a 25 LG and I now have a 100 lb Beaudry. I have worked on a plethora of mechanical hammers but only a few that were air powered. There are common principles among all - principally that some sort of reciprocating ram hits the hot stock between dies. After that, the descriptive field gets pretty wide open.

IMHO, the LG designs in 25 and 50 are decent hammers for the typical home shop or single professional but they take some savvy to repair and keep tuned. Ones in bad shape are at the least, a waste of heats and can be deadly at worst. With that said, the newer self contained or compressor driven air models such as Iron Kiss and Big Blu are probably a better choice for the average user. Like I said earlier, I prefer flat dies but I spent a lot of time making a bunch of tools to fit on those dies so if you want to get a power hammer to hit hot iron and make it move, a set of fullering or drawing dies will meet the need. Past that, you may need to get creative to do very much else.

A power hammer does not serve the same purpose as a treadle hammer or a fly press, although a few people can make each one perform some of the processes that may be better suited to another. Everyone has different personal tastes, levels of income, workplaces, skill sets and experience, so all I can recommend as general advice is to sit down and make a few notes before spending time and money obtaining something that may not suit your needs.

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I have a a little giant 100lb and Nazel 3B, I'm a big fan of powerhammers the bigger the better :) I work everything from 1/4" stock to 4" solid square with it. The self contained I find are much nicer for long controled tapers etc they have real nice rythmn to them.

I use my little giant more for one hit work, I have real good brake on it and it can hit nice and hard single blows. I also use it when doing work were I need to have a certian die for one procedure and jump back andf forth from one hammer to the other.

Both machines I run radius flat dies and have built some different profiled dies that drop on the bottom die, They are the same size and have a flat bar band on them with a set screws to hold them on. Either that or I have one those drop on tool holders.

For the flat dies I found that an 1/8" radius isn't quite enough for me, I have the very edge of the die about 3/16 round but crown it in just slightly, about a 1/2" or so in which helps keep the straight die marks off the work when smoothing it out. These are on dies that are about 4" wide and 8" long so the amount you'd want on smaller dies would take some experimenting.


I highly recomend the Clifton Ralph tapes and the last Dave Manzer Video had some good demo's on tooling.

Spending time with someone who knows how to run a hammer is a must,

I had a couple years experience on hammers all self taught but had only seen someone else use them on videos' and once demo'd at an NWBA conference, I was a bit cautious using the Nazel to its full potenial so I went and spent a weekend with Terry Carson (president of the NWBA) at his place and had great time, and reassured me I was going in the right directions with my techniques and gave me confidence, well worth the time and money.

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I spent an afternoon last week with my friend Dief who has a 110# Big Blue; he has 3 die sets, flat, combo, and crown. He seems to use the combo dies the most, followed by the crown. It was a real education, and I think a class on a power hammer would be a good idea. And I intend to do so in the near future. My hammer will be delivered (115# Iron Kiss) in July, and I have contracted with a local rigging company to install it.

I don't know much about moving heavy machines, and so it is worth a few dollars to me to have it done properly....and safely...by pros. After all, by the time I pay for the hammer and the shipping to AZ from the east coast, the rigging become a very small part of the cost.

I watched Hofi's video on free form forging (about 3 times so far), and it was a real eye opener. I've tried to watch Clifton Ralph's video but I rented it from ABANA and the quality was so poor, I ended up watching only bits and pieces. If he'd put it on DVD I would buy it. As it is, Hofi is my first choice to take a class from, followed by Big Blue........but I think a class is necessary to get the most out of the tool and also to be sure you've learned the safety procedures.

There are lots of power hammers out there, and to be quite honest, the Little Giants and similar mechanical designs are intimidating to me. I do not like all those moving parts near my head. They seem distracting and dangerous. This is not to run down those who have and love and use their LG's dailing with no injury; it's just me.

Another deciding factor was air....I have lots of it. A two stage DeVilbiss 80 gal tank with 6.5 HP, rated at almost 20 SCFM at 150 PSI. So not additional expense there. Noisy you say? I'm fairly deaf as it is. I'll wear ear protection to save what hearing I have left, but I spent way too many years shooting before the days of ear muffs and ear plugs.

Great discussion here guys and gals, I've learned a lot. Let's keep in info coming and lets all share, and we'll all learn something.

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Ellen, you've mentioned your air source before and it seems I recall you got a deal on it somewhere. Would you mind telling me a bit more about it as I have aspirations of getting 'air power' in my shop someday when I get a shop. (If we had some ham..... ;)_)

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Howdy Mills,

Well, I bought the DeVilbiss from Harbor Freight (not to worry, it's still made in Alabama) and it was $800 delivered (with lift gate truck), HF had a special no freight on anything over $500. I don't think they carry it now, and I don't think the free freight is in effect now either. I do see some nice two stage compressors for about that price range (cast iron cylinders and not the plast oil-less junk) at Home Depot and maybe one or two other places. Seems like you can can get a new compressor, American made, for around $800 or so; if you want a Cadillac of compressors check out Ingersoll Rand, seems like they have them on line, maybe The Tractor Store or some such. Rich W, I think, bought one that way, and when he is through with his off line sabbatical perhaps he may chime in.....I'm sure others will.

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Ya know... I was thinking of putting in a central compressed air line but really..since i do not have any air tools...what would I reaslly use it for?? I'd rather spend the $$$ on a decent vacuum system for the grinders....cut down of the grit and dust

JPH

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I have an old DIvillbiscast iron pump, but none of the internal pluming yet. one day.
ralph

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Sigh, had a "friend" call me up over lunch saying he had something he thought could be made into a blacksmith's triphammer. Sure enough it was a small punch press as I expected. He did offer to sell me something I had expressed interest on at the tech auction but had not bid on as I didn't need it and it was lumped into a group with a couple of things he did need---wanted about as much as the whole lot went for IIRC and as that was about 5 times what I paid for similiar stuff previously I was not too enthused.

Thomas

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Sigh, had a "friend" call me up over lunch saying he had something he thought could be made into a blacksmith's triphammer. Sure enough it was a small punch press as I expected. He did offer to sell me something I had expressed interest on at the tech auction but had not bid on as I didn't need it and it was lumped into a group with a couple of things he did need---wanted about as much as the whole lot went for IIRC and as that was about 5 times what I paid for similiar stuff previously I was not too enthused.

Thomas



Glad to hear I'm not the only one with those kind of "friends"

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Thomas:

Thankfully I don't have any "friends" like you describe..I like to scrounge as much as the next guy but I tell you these auctions are cutting into our ability to get decent used equipment, especially E-bay..man the things that sell for astronomical amounts is mind numbing...junked pieces..boat anchor typoe of shot, worn out and otherwise not worth more than scrap iron prices go for more than new!!

Now I like a good deal, who doesn't?? I do NOT mind paying a fair price for an item but some of the prices obtained in these auctions are rediculous!!

I dunno..guess the days of getting post vises for $25.00 to $50.00 and anvils for a dollar or so a pound are coming to an end...sigh....I bought my 25# LG for $550.00 and the guy even drove it down from Utah (well it was just over an hour trip..so...but still...) to get it to me...and that was just a few years back....sigh

JPH

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Couple pics of my hammer. Its a clone of the one the late Jim Wilson aka Paw Paw owned

59.attach

60.attach

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Howdy Dodge!
I am VERY interested in building one of these "tire hammers"!
I have attempted to find plans/details of the machine (to no avail)...
The basics of the machine are, well, pretty basic. I can figure out the anvil, motor, support, etc. pretty easily. What I don't have access to is decent information relative to the portion that attaches to the wheel and the hammer.

Did you build this machine? Would you be willing to share info?

Thanks,
Henry

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