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I Forge Iron

Hugh McDonald Steel Rolling Mill


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The upper roller is longer so that the lower one can clear the pillow blocks. :)


that IS sort of true, I do use pillow blocks, but the design did not use pillow blocks, rather called for drilling out a block of brass to hold the rollers shaft.

But I answered no because I assumed he was talking about how a few people use a 2 inch and a 3 inch diameter roller, where as I found they do not need to be sized the same or differently this works well either way..



Looks like this would be a real handy tool for rolling out mokume gane or pattern welded steel. Has it been tried on either of those materials? And what were the results?


Yes works fine


Pattern welded steel was the original use case as I recall and it works quite well for drawing out billets---especially when you draw them way out and then cut and stack so instead of doubling you go 5-10 times each welding cycle


Actually according to Mr McDonald, he built it for drawing out the reins of his tongs. Later a friend of his, saw it and thought (correctly) that it would be nice for drawing billets of PW steel. That is why I got it, makes 4 hours of hammering a billet into about 15-20 minutes for drawing. the CD is put together well, much over documentation if there is such a thing, also includes commentary and back ground of the mill and its creation.
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Thanks for the answer.
Nice machine :D

Made a "belt" hammer for a while ago.

The hammer realy helps making Pattern welded steel
Now i found another electrical motor and need to practice some turning work

Planning to make the rolls the same size.
Are you using mild steel to the rolls. >Have some carbon steel avaible at a diameter of 1 3/4"
Are you using brass for the lower roll. I have some pillow blocks i will try to use.

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Planning to make the rolls the same size.
Are you using mild steel to the rolls. >Have some carbon steel avaible at a diameter of 1 3/4"
Are you using brass for the lower roll. I have some pillow blocks i will try to use.


According to McDonald mild steel should be fine, although I used some higher carbon shafting I already had. I wouldn't go smaller than 2" on the rollers. The smaller diameter would give you a steeper climb angle and not have enough "bite" to pull the stock through unless you reduced the stock in very small increments with each pass. I used bronze bushings inside the lower roller. I don't think pillow blocks would work well on the lower roller because of clearance problems. I really recommend getting the Hugh McDonald plans and stick close to the basic mechanics of it, although I think you can be flexible in the roller drive speed reduction.
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I run at 22 RPM, too fast will cause issues slower is better than faster with this. its all covered in the CD ROM. I used bronze bushings in the lower roller shaft. med grade pillow block for upper. My rollers themselves are over kill, used Chrome/Moly, I had help from a Tool and Die friend, that had it laying around. its milled to .002 tolerance ;)

I prefer using the the belt drive along with the 2 gear/chain drives, as the belt acts as a natural clutch. A commercial maker was using reduction boxes for commercial resales, and they were tearing themselves up because the drive had no where to go in a bind, and as a result they did not do well. where as my belt will slip rather that tear itself up. that is also covered in the CD Rom I have.

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According to McDonald mild steel should be fine, although I used some higher carbon shafting I already had. I wouldn't go smaller than 2" on the rollers. The smaller diameter would give you a steeper climb angle and not have enough "bite" to pull the stock through unless you reduced the stock in very small increments with each pass. I used bronze bushings inside the lower roller. I don't think pillow blocks would work well on the lower roller because of clearance problems. I really recommend getting the Hugh McDonald plans and stick close to the basic mechanics of it, although I think you can be flexible in the roller drive speed reduction.


Yes, you are probably right about the pillow block. Don't have any bronze bearing, maybe one could use two single ball bearings with 17 mm axis?
Regarding the roller i only have some mild steel that is 2".
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Yes, you are probably right about the pillow block. Don't have any bronze bearing, maybe one could use two single ball bearings with 17 mm axis?
Regarding the roller i only have some mild steel that is 2".

I really think you need the bronze. There is a lot of force being exerted and you need something that can handle it.
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Get a block of steel drill a undersize hole ream to size then press your bronze bearing into that hole. Or buy a block of bearing bronze and drill a hole in that. Also if you have developed the skills one can saw and file to make some of these parts by hand. I have cut key ways with a cape chisel then filed to size. I have also made nuts and bolts with with hand tools. I have made many parts by first forging than filing to size. It can be done though it will take a lot of time. I have seen clock gears in Spain that were forged complete with forge welds than carefully filed to shape.

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Its funny I find the key board and mouse have done more harm to my hands and wrists than a hammer and file ever did. I also find that switching activities in other words using the hands in a different way opposite of the way that caused the cramp or injury can go a long way towards undoing the hurt. Frequent stretching and hydration are key. In an average day I drink at least 1.5 Lt of water. If I don't I feel out of sorts. Also good sharp files (most people have dull files) and properly ground chisels reduce the effort required significantly. If you are wearing yourself out the tool is dull.

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I agree completely. I don't wish to highjack this thread, so in the next couple of days I will try to start a *different* thread with photographs and measurements of the ergonomic keyboard stand that I designed and built, using feedback provided by a physical therapist who specializes in workplace injuries. People with hand injuries from keyboarding might find it interesting and useful.

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these are great tools.
I initially found mine disapointing compared to a power hammer . but they come into their own for long blades ,. I passed mine on and will be remaking it soon.
I had a nearly 3 inch top roller and have since used a 2 inch top roller version .The 2 inch version is much more likely to spin when it meats an obstruction where as the 3 jammed , 2 was more powerfull bigger bite 3 inch a lot smother.
the next one I make will be hydraulic motor as I had a hard linked gearbox to chain drive and managed to bend chain teeth and jam the box and break various parts of the drive chain.
you WILL find the limit of these machines and its best they have a "fail" built in.

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Hi again :)
Back to the bearings, found some oil bronze bearings. Maybe these could work. Slightly smaller in dimension, 20 mm shaft and 20 mm long but ready :rolleyes:
Any one knows if these will stand the pressure.
As i understand these ar made of sintered bronze. So they don’t need any lube hole, and are pre lubricated. But i suppose not as hard as ordinary bronze ?
Does anyone have some experience of oil bronze bearings for low rpm and high force....

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What I would do would be to either follow Steve`s advice and stick with what the man who developed and refined this particular machine suggests in his instructions or do some in depth research on appropriate alternative bearings for high stress/load,low RPM applications.
Reinventing the wheel without the appropriate knowledge is a sure way to get left broke and unhappy by the side of the trail.
Ball and sintered bronze,permanently lubed bushings are not the way to go here.

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