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I am a bladesmith and I do a lot of forge weling billets and drawing out. Working on my own I find tha I spend most of my time preparing a piece of steel rather than shaping it, I've been using a 7lb sledge one-handed to try and get the steel moving easier but it just takes too long, and being 16 I don't exactly have the muscles for anything heavier than a seven pounder!

What I am looking for is a bit of extra power to help me draw out billets and flatten out bar so I can spend more time on the blade itself! A power hammer is way out of my league, but I could afford a fly press or make a treadle hammer. I've done a bit of research, and have found that an Oliver hammer wouldn't really have enough power to be worth it for what I want, but a swing arm or inline treadle would. I've got some good pieces of steel to use as the 'hammer and anvil' each between 30-50lbs, although I'm not sure what I should be aiming for in terms of ram weight for what I want.

Here is an everyday example of what I would use it for. I've got 2 lengths of ring gear, each 0.5" square minus the notches. I need to forge well them together and flatten it right through to 3-16" thick, the section is 15" long.

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Well, I can tell you from my experience my treadle hammer doesn't draw metal out too well. I've never used a fly press so I'll leave that to those who have. I'll tell you one thing you might try is making a hold down hardy and using a two handed sledge. It's still a lot of work but works better than the treadle. I've modified a shop built hammer with a convex head to spread the metal apart. I works pretty good.

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That's a shame to hear. I have never heard of a hold-down hardy before. Saw a design that uses mole grips that should be easy enough to make as I have a spare pair. Being able to use two hands would give me so much more force and I may be able to go with a bigger hammer! What size sledge can you safely go to on a 1cwt anvil?

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As far as what hammer, it will depend on how you have your anvil mounted. My anvil set up is a lot redneck and wieghs around 150lbs. The hammer wieghs around 13lbs at the head. It doesn't move around at all, but if I put it on a hard floor I can't keep up with it. :o If your anvil jumps around you know your too light for the hammer. The hold down hardy is basically a L shaped bar that slides down in the hardy hole. It has a flat end to hold down the work. Put your hot metal on the anvil and use the hold down hardy to wedge the work down. hammer away!

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I'm getting some free 30mm square stock on Saturday which will make hardy tools so much easier, I spent hours squaring off a kingpin to fit! I was thinking more about the anvil getting damaged, I've yet to see it move around but after hearing stories of cracking, breaking the heel etc. I'm a bit tentative when it comes to bashing something with a sledge on the anvil and I normally use an old post anvil I have which isn't too effective, but I don't have to worry about damaging it.

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Funny I have now owned *4* powerhammers each cheaper than the cheapest new flypress---including the one I bought last year.

What you need is a powerhammer; neither a treadle hammer or a flypress is appropriate for what you want to do. Instead of wasting time, effort and money on something that is not suited for your needs; start working to get something that is!

Anvils are usually fairly stout if you only work in the sweet spot but large hammers and getting tired and accidental misses on the heels and horns is not suggested!

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Now that is interesting. They're really hard to find round my way, but looking at it they don't seem impossible to build, may be a good summer project! Any suggestions or advice on where to look for good designs? Seems everyone is trying to sell designs which make me a little sceptical.

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It's not as efficient as a power hammer but a treadle will draw out steel with the proper dies in place. In addition, a treadle is useful for lots of other work (same for the flypress). However, I tend to agree with the other comments about buying/building a power hammer - especially for repetitive drawing like billets.

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For drawing and welding of knife billets I use my spare tire hammer. I have both a fly press (love it) and a treadle hammer (love it), but they are not the right tool for drawing. Look up 'spare tire hammer you can get the plans cheap, and they can be built for a reasonable amount of money. There are many other plans out there and you can make up your own design. Do some research on the hammer section here and make up your own mind.

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A rolling mill will do well if you're just drawing out. A power hammer will also work for other forging. A flypress works well with tooling and jigs using arm power. A treadle hammer does well with freehand tooling using leg power. People will argue the details and you will find other ways to use the tools you have. I built a treadle hammer first for use with punches, chisels and sheet metal work. I'd like to get a power hammer next, but I wouldn't turn down a good deal on a flypress for being able to set up guides to make straight chisel lines easily.

It sounds like you know what you want to do. Put your energy into getting or making a tool that does that well. You can waste a lot of time and resources on some other tool and it still wont be what you want.

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Thanks for your input all! I've done a lot of research and have decided to go ahead and build a power hammer, much to the delight of my neighbours! It's going to be a bit big for my shop which is just a garage with a 55 forge which I bring outside and operate on my front drive! But I'll fit it, just means I've got to go with a space efficient design. Tyre hammers definitely look the best, but a little complicated and probably too heavy for me. I think that a 25lb Rusty would probably suit me best, but I have a few questions, I'll avoid starting a new thread, but it depends whether you see them!

  • Have you seen any videos or personally used a 25lb Rusty? Be interesting to see how handy they are at drawing out and the like.
  • I've considered a Krusty design, but apparently they can be very dangerous as the spring can go, what do you think of this? I don't want to loose an eye at 16!
  • I understand the mechanics of it, but I'm not sure how the clutch works. Obviously it has to disengage the motor and also ensure that the hammer always returns to the 'up' state, could someone explain this or tell me where to find drawings?
  • Would a 25lb Rusty be up to what I want? I don't really want to go heavier otherwise I'll have to buy a 1hp motor, but with a 25lb I could salvage a 1/2hp washing machine motor.



Thanks once again!
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I sold my treadle hammer shortly after buying my fly press. For the work I do the press completely replaces the TH with more power, accuracy, and controll. Of course I already had 2 power hammers so I don't draw with the press. It would be more fun to kick a bowling ball than try and draw down large stock with a FP.

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look online at wood working tools for a picture of a hold down,it may even be called a hold fast.the shank needs to fit the hole in the table top or anvil fairly close so it will bind
in the hole to hold down your work

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