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PH die suggestions


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Finished my power hammer last night!!! 72# ram weight and 300 BPM. With several feet of 3" X 3" tool bar, I need to make a set of dies. So which dies to make first? I'm thinking a set of combination dies but since I've never used a PH, I really could use help.....THX

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My suggestion would be to start with simple flat dies. They will work just like your regular hammer on your anvil. And are the most universal.

They can also then be used with hand-held tooling for drawing/fullering/punching etc.

The other big concern is what type of work will you primarily use it for. If you intend to use your hammer for lots of drawing/fullering out of large stock, then Drawing dies or Combination dies might be the better way to go.

I know one guy who was always working on tapering stock. So he made up a combination die to speed up making those tapers. One half made tapers away from you, and the other half made tapers towards you. And with a narrow section through the middle of flat dies for straightening things up and "flatting". But that was for his specific application, and to help out with the large amount of tapering he did. And he had both of the tapered parts ground back so that the center flats worked as "stop blocks" - so he never worked the tapers too thin. But, again, some specialty production work.

I also know several knife makers that 3-part combination dies. One section for drawing out, one section with flats, and on the side the dies are beveled out to help him draw the taper for the cutting edges on his knives. That works for his primary usage.

But the simplest/safest way to go is flat dies.

Just my humble thoughts to share. Take them as such.

Mikey - that grumpy ol' german blacksmith out in the Hinterlands

Edited by Mike Ameling
bad spellin
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I second the recommendation to start with flat dies. Those are my primary dies. I have a tool holder for the lower die which lets me use spring tools etc. I have made a pair of crown dies which I've used once. My next set will probably be a combo pair primarily to give me the flexibility to go from a 4" width down to a 2" width. My design would keep the flat configuration, but the narrow section of the dies would make some jobs a little simpler to accomplish.

Patrick

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Thx for input. Should finish flat dies tommorrow. Combo dies to follow later after I have a little experience.... Will check out Clifton Ralph's videos..shaped tools on top of flat dies sounds 'fast & cheap'. Will post photos as soon as I finish guards and rattle can some paint.............

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This is a question that will really start an argument among smiths. There is an entire group of folks who believe in the flat die approach with saddle tooling. I am one of those guys who was heavily influenced by Clifton Ralph and I agree with flat die tooling for most types of work.

The other group advocates putting in specialty dies for specific work, whether that means 50/50 dies or some other combo. They believe that dies correctly placed in a hammer will always be superior to tooling between dies.

I don't think either side is wrong but you probably will pick one philosophy and stick to it. I've been using flat dies and saddle tools for a very long time in my 100 lb hammer but I had dedicated drawing dies in my 25 lb LG (since sold) and it was very convenient to have both hammers running at the same time.

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I suggest a flat top die, and a bottom die which is flat on one half, and a large radius fuller shape on the other half. This gives much more versatility than just flat dies, and 90% of the time, will do the job without the need of other tooling. If you do need tooling, use the flat side. For inspiration, look at an anvil, flat plat, round horn.

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There is a place for crown dies and even combo dies, but I really like flat dies. I don't do a lot of free form forging, but when I do I use the edges of my flat dies or drag the material where I want it with a paddle fuller. Though I do like the way crown dies work, and will eventually get around to making a pair for my hammer. If you have the time and the money, and an extra hammer or two set up in the shop, dedicated special purpose dies can be worth the money, but for most shops you can do everything you need to do cheaper and faster with flat dies and a little tooling, and maybe one or two other sets of dies. Saddle tools, and paddle tools are fast and simple to make, and take no time to change out. Spring tools and a fixture or two to drop over your bottom die are a little harder to make, but are still easier than cutting a pair of dies to fit a sowblock. Plus they are pretty quick to use and change out, and when well made will give good consistant results, maybe not quite a good as fixed dies mounted on the hammer, but then again you might not be able to tell the difference... ?;-)

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My suggestion would be the flat dies first as many note. I hve combo dies in my junkyard hammer, and for my type of work they work well. If I was to start over from scratch, I would however build flat dies.
I would however also not make truely FLAT dies. I use a HOFI inspired flat section on my combo dies. This has an almost flat(barely radiused center) with a very gentle taper front and back away from the center radius, and a very nicely blended radius to transition from the top to the front and rear verticle part of the die. makes for nice transitions on the forging itself. Less cold shuts as well.

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