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Hey everyone, since this is my first post let me introduce myself. My name is Daniel and I live in the Willamette valley in Oregon (in case anyone needs a shop hand:)).
I made this account when I was still a complete novice and trying to make tongs out of railroad spikes and using channel locks as my main tongs. Also when I was collecting cast iron window weights thinking that I was going to forge them into something.:blink: lol anyway let me get into the meat and potatoes of this post...

I've been searching all over the web looking for different designs of treadle hammers because I want to build one to suit my needs. Compared to almost everything else blacksmithing, there is very little data on the good 'ol human powered beast. However the discussion is always centered around one existing design vs. another (Grade-Marx vs. Clay Spencer's design, the fabled Grasshopper, etc. Swing arm vs in-line etc.) Nobody really talks specifically about WHY these designs are good or bad beyond the basics: Anvil, hammer and spring weight, materials, build complexity... But one thing is ALWAYS ignored...


First let me mention that I have never used a power hammer OR a treadle hammer. In videos, though, I am not at all impressed with the power of Clay Spencer's design. It's a 1-1 gear ratio with the pivot in the very center of the bar, and the drive linkage at the very end of the bar. It appears it hits NO harder than your foot can stamp the lever. The older gentleman with the Grade-Marx hammer, however, had some oomph behind it. I'm sure you've noticed how far back on the spring his linkage is set up. However I did notice when he went to faster hits, it seemed to lose a lot of power. The Clay Spencer seemed to really shine for repetitive hits. 

I'm also thinking a lot about drive systems. Levers and springs? Pulleys and springs? Counterweights? (I've read people don't like counterweight THs much though)
I could make a treadle hammer with tons of pulleys, heavy duty rope, and a coil spring from a car, and it would be a wonderfully adventurous press. The foot pedal would have to travel so far that I'd need to climb a ladder and ride it down in order for the hammer to move a few inches with a tremendous amount of force.

9-1 ratio = 100 lbs on the foot pedal with 9X the travel distance = 9x the force on the hammer end with 1/9th the travel distance. And I also understand that Force is = to mass (weight) x acceleration. (I'm not actually this smart, my dad is a mathematician and i'm always bothering him with questions:P

So with this concept in mind I'm thinking I want the hammer to travel really far and the foot pedal to be very hard to press. But then there's a balance I need to find because I'm a hermit without power in my shop and really want to use this thing to draw bigger stock into smaller stock. (eyes the sway bar and coil springs on a junkyard truck) That being said, I also like doing decorative work and do love the idea of controllability while using tools. 

What are your thoughts? I really want to build this thing and I want it to be exactly what I need. Please help:(

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A Treadle hammer is a great tool for single blows with fair bit of power for light swaging that you could not do with a hand hammer.  They are also great for the fact that it frees up your hands to hold top tooling.  I built one and used it quite a bit over the years but I ran out of room in my shop and it had to go.  Now that I have room again I may build one again.

But don't make the same mistake i and many others have made.  A treadle hammer is not a power hammer.   If you use a peen and the corner of the anvil you can draw steel out as quickly or likely quicker than you can using fuller dies on the treadle hammer. If you want a tool for chisel work or occasional top tool work,  or slow very controllable heavy blows, build a treadle hammer,  if you want to draw out faster build a tire hammer, air hammer or buy a power hammer.

For 2 reasons I suspect a hammer using a mechanical advantage would actually do less work.  A hammer is not a press, the inertia is doing the work, a mechanical advantage is going to slow down your blow which will lessen the blow.  The other reason is extra linkages guides etc add friction robbing your blow of power.  My treadle hammer was a simple swing arm type.  I used an inline type treadle hammer at a school and was surprised at how much less power it had.  It was not the Clay Spencer type with the wheels which would have reduced the losses but I suspect it would still hit less hard than a swing arm type. 

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Greetings Dan, 

Ahhh the quest to build a better mouse trap.. I have three treadle hammers and have many years experience using them . I would suggest that you find someone in your area that has one and spend some time on it .. Theory is one thing but when it is all said and done you are still limited to about 60 BPM and what you had for breakfast. Welcome to IFI  and I wish you well on your build. Should change your name to Blister Foot... LOL

Forge on and make beautiful things


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treadle hammers are inertia based as JNewman says and so the striking force is a factor of the weight of the head and how long you can accelerate it with your foot---what velocity it hits at.  Thats for a single blow where they excel, multiple blows depend on how fast you can recover your leg position and how much umph you can exert rapidly with that leg.

What type is best for you would depend on what type of work you are doing, tools you will be using, rapid light blows vs slow heavy ones, etc. and of course your physical limitations.

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What they all said above is good.

I found a modified saw setters diagonal pein hammer over a heavy cheese fuller in the centre of the anvil,  or a radiused anvil edge was far more effective at drawing out than my foot hammer. 

Mine is a simple ordinary sledge hammer pivoted at one end. It is pulled down by a bit of motor car safety belt attached to a long foot treadle.  The ratio for pedal movement to hammer swing can be altered by shifting the point of attachment of the belt towards or away from the pedal. In actual use I have never bothered to alter it...I just adjust the weight of stamping. 

The big advantage of a foot hammer is having both hands free to manipulate a top-tool and your workpiece, not heavy blows. They are also great for scarf welds on complicated assemblies. The Black Country chain makers used them for shutting and forming up the link joins.

If you want fast light taps for chasing, just use a lighter hammer head and short radius arc.

One leg gets tired if you are using it for a few hours!


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Welcome aboard Daniel, glad to have you. I love the Willamette Valley though its been years since I've been through. One more lash at the dead horse, treadle hammers aren't power hammers, a good striker can do more work quantity wise. Still, I think everybody new to the craft has tried to winkle out how to make one do power hammer work. I sure did.

Force is mass x acceleration and acceleration is time based the shorter the deceleration time the more force applied. Hammer. The trouble is you can't get  more power out of a hammer than you can put into it. your "gear" lever ratios have a close point of diminishing return and 9:1 is WAY past that point. Somewhere around 2or3 : 1 is about a practical goal. I'm a high gear kind of guy too. Experiment with a simple Oliver type treadle driven sledge hammer, it makes a good test bed for ideas and is a LOT easier and cheaper to build.

If you don't have a stream close by coming up with an off the grid power system is a project in itself. For short duration power hammer work you COULD use a: gas engine, water power if available, wind or legs. Usable wind or leg power for a power hammer is problematical and I think a flywheel would make it "usable" for short duration. If you have a prevailing wind a flywheel is less necessary but pumping up a flywheel with a pedal drive would "work".

Oh yeah, I think about things all the time and my first treadle hammer drawings are a hoot. I've given wind power a lot of thought over the years. Storing the power for when you need it is the trick. A flywheel isn't particularly practical, it'd need to be one BIG flywheel to store much poser. However heat is always a desirable item here, especially in winter and we live in a windy area. I was going to lay steel pipe under the shop slab and use it as a compressor reservoir. The heat of compression would go a log way to heating the shop in winter. One serious bug is powering the compressor, electric heat is a budget buster here, we're too far from Grand Coulee dam to get a break on elec ours is all nat. gas generated. However there's where the wind generator comes in, not to generate electricity but mechanically connected to the compressor. All it has to do is turn at all and it turns the compressor.

Never did it but had it all drawn up, horizontal wind turbine so wind shadow isn't an issue and over spinning it is easily taken care of with a centrifugal clutch and generators, faster it goes the more generators are engaged so the turbine can't be blown apart in extreme winds it just generates more power.

There are a number of ways to power a power hammer with compressed air. A wind mill could also store energy by pumping water into a tower or pone uphill from the shop.

Like I say I think about these things. The one thing I've never figured out is how to make a treadle hammer do the work of a power hammer.

The advantages of an inline treadle hammer isn't power or speed it's the ability to use closed dies attached to the hammer itself. Spring dies are a good alternative in a swing arm hammer though so the question in my book goes back to energy lost to friction and the swing arm as the better alternative.

The grasshopper is a Watt's linkage adapted by Bruce Freeman that produces a close tolerance matched inline motion. It was one of many linkage systems James Watt experimented with to convert the reciprocating motion of steam pistons to rotary motion. Anyway, it's a pretty straight forward linkage that has a lot of reciprocating weight so if you use close fitting and robust pivots you can take advantage of all that mass for a minimal amount of friction.

The question involved in building a grasshopper is how good are your shop skills? They aren't really all that complicated if you don't use Bruce's plans but you have to be able to do precise work and I MEAN precise. It only takes a small fraction on an inch miss match in one of many linkages and it's going to bind and there goes the energy you're putting into it.

There are a LOT of options and possible new ideas out there waiting to be tried out. Have I mentioned I THINK about this kind of thing all the time? :blink:

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thanks so much for all the feedback, guys. It's a shame I can't have my cake and eat it, too. I think I will build a sort of treadle hammer for tooling.

I have 2 pickaroons made out of railroad spikes, the punches and chisels to cut the holes, and no striker to help me muscle through that steel accurately and effectively. (I know, I know, I didn't punch the holes first, but I just didn't want to at the time!) Another advantage i'm thinking A treadle hammer would provide is giving my right arm relief from all the heavy metal movin' activities. I've spent a good 10 hours a day hammering on multiple projects at a time... could barely close my hand after all that. Surely it's advantageous in that regard? I mean, I DO have 2 legs... I found that I goofed up more projects trying to swing the hammer with my left hand. While i may be laughing, I am completely serious about that.

 I think i'll take your advice and build a simple one to play with, that way I won't be weeks into fabrication alone on a huge project without knowing my preferences and needs as a smith. It would be a shame to spend months collecting junkyard scrap (i'm a recycler) and building a full scale treadle hammer with, for example, a really short throw on the foot lever to find that it wasn't what i really wanted. I think a simple, quick and easy treadle hammer will allow me to play with the pivot points and where the linkages connect. Also i'll be able to experiment with different return mechanisms and really prepare me for when i'm ready to build the full strength model.

Alan, I thought you were messing with me about the saw setters hammer and the cheese fuller, until I looked it up. That's an aggressive way to draw out steel! I'd bet it works like a charm.

I have a 165# Trenton anvil. It's pretty soft on the surface, I don't know if I want to sacrifice a working edge for all that heavy hitting. Some guys say to draw out on the horn, but it's hard to keep it square, and tends to lack rebound. Also it shocks the crap out of your hand if you miss. 

Frosty, that stuff about the air compressor is interesting stuff. It reminds me of a bicycle builder in Portland (not suprisingly) would used a little antique brass canister and a piston to compress air while he rode his bike. Then after the tank was full, he was able to use that stored energy to power his bike for him so he was able to rest. Fascinating stuff.

It makes me wonder about using belts and a flywheel to create a treadle hammer that operates the same as a power hammer, but also moves a piston to compress air. I have seen the former done, and even have a couple old flywheels and manual transmissions laying around. While electricity is great, anything achieved without it cuts overhead costs. And if you're a doomsday theorist, you'll be relieved to know that your shop will be unaffected by a power outage. That's why I stray from electricity, anyway. We get power outages out here. Sometimes for a couple days at a time. 


As far as my shop skills go, I am okay, I guess. I live with my parents on our small farm and help maintain the property. In exchange I get to use all of dad's great shop tools. We have a great mig welder. I can make a weld rock solid without co2, weld stainless to mild steel, burn through the zinc or the paint on metals I was too lazy to do proper edge prep on, weld up a hole on a weelbarrow, etc. I didn't have the money to buy a post vise for my shop, so I welded one up out of scraps. Works just fine. 

Anyway, this is getting WAY off topic. Here's a photo of the 12# sledge i'll use and a bit of railroad for the anvil. It will be a good test model. I think this one will get a wooden frame. I have some scraps... i'm also not sure exactly how i'm gonna build it yet. Trial and error, I guess. Also pictured: a wooden shield I made years ago, some lawnmower blades, window weights, and a bucket of railroad spikes (which DO make good knives if you harden them and don't temper them!) ::edit for another side note:: that's my anvil with a wooden cover on it to keep my nephew from peening the edges for me. Also a lawnmower blade sword in progress. I'll upload pics of my hovel in the "show us your shop" thread.


Edited by Blister Fingers
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Here are the some images of my simple foot hammer. Mark 2.

The hammer, axle, bearings, pulley, belts and treadle were found at a scrap yard and were originally mounted on an angle iron stand from an electric fence wire drum. The assembly was placed behind my hand anvil and the hammer was swung over when needed. The hammer was thrown on its back and the treadle came up and hooked under the heel of the anvil when it wasn't required.

The pulley and belts could be replaced with a simple crank and con rod, which could be either in tension for pull down as this version, or push up from the back if you extend the treadle behind the fulcrum.

If you made a version with a moveable anvil, or made the hammer independent/free standing of the anvil, you could take advantage of the clamp shaft fixing and adjust the length of the hammer shaft for a shorter throw for faster blows. I have never needed to do this, I found that this worked and was versatile enough just from stamping light or heavy. But then after a few years I started to acquire power hammers.

A friend in Herefordshire, Simon Lawrence invented a single blow, powered foot hammer using the back axle, differential and brakes from a motor car. The hammer was driven by a vee belt pulley mounted on the nose of the differential. A hammer shaft was bolted onto one of the brake drums and held above the anvil by a return spring. The foot treadle operated the hand brake cable of the drum on the opposite side of the axle to the hammer. With the motor running and the treadle up, the hammer shaft was held stationary in equilibrium with its return spring, and the braked drum revolved freely. When the treadle was pressed it actuated the brake, the spinning drum stopped and the drive was redirected to the hammer shaft drum which came down whack. The treadle was then lifted; the brake released; the drive was redirected so the braked drum revolved again and the hammer was lifted by its return spring. He could strike as fast as he could treadle. There may have been a slight additional cleverness by having the hammer side drum brake operated when the treadle was lifted to stop any hammer nod...I can't remember.

The key is to make up something from the resources available to you...as I am sure you know.



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Yea Jim, something like that....after the foot vice build, this looks pretty straight forward. I have an old buss saw axel with the pulley blocks, and belt pulley complete. Some belt and a 12lb. sledge just waiting........wonder if a 12lb. is big enough? hmmm...       Dave 

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Thank you, Alan for the photos and the drawing. I think I already have all the materials needed to build something very similar to that design. If you would have just explained it in words, I don't think I would have understood at all. 

I don't expect any of you guys have spent much time making chain maille? The first step of that process is essentially just making a spring. Change the diameter of the rod and the wire, and you have whatever size spring you want. It wouldn't be as durable as something made of a high quality steel, hardened and tempered properly. It would, however, work for what I need it for temporarily. 

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Tell me the guy with the compressed air bicycle used the compressor as a brake. If not he was just exerting energy now to take a rest later.

No, RR spikes don't harden. Provide the RC # and your test method or we're going to stick to what we know from the metallurgy and experience with RR spikes.

The "gear ratio" on a treadle hammer is almost too easy to change to talk about. However, to up the hammer velocity simply move the linkage connection closer to the pivot. Make the top arm with a series of holes and you can change "gears" at will.

Just because you have electricity doesn't mean you HAVE to use it. Think of all the time and work you have to expend to not use electric tools. Now extrapolate to a time when there is no electricity anymore. Sure you have more practice going without but you could be years behind where you should have been. There's a survivalist philosophy you should consider "It's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it."

Many "end of the road" and "preper" attitudes are philosophical decisions not practical ones.

If you're hurting yourself hammering you might want to read up about hammering techniques on IFI. Before I disabled myself I could hammer 8 hrs. at occasional weekend events, hammer in or demo and not be more than a little arm sore. sounds like you're trying to swig WAY too heavy a hammer or using poor technique.

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 8 months later...

So I built a little "proof of concept" prototype out of wood, just to get a feel for how the machine would work and to find the weak points to beef up. I tried to upload a couple pictures but they failed. The project has been on a long hiatus while i have been doing other things blacksmithing and non-blacksmithing related.

Some things I learned: AKA basic tips for other beginners thinking about embarking on making a treadle hammer:

The attachment points on the linkage between the treadle and the hammer are under a huge amount of stress. Make them strong. Especially if your treadle doesn't bottom out before the hammer to the anvil.

If your hammer hits the anvil before your treadle bottoms out, the pivot point of the treadle arm will also be under huge amounts of stress. Make that strong, too.
The height of your anvil has a huge amount to do with the direction of force in a swing-arm design. Seriously consider those possible advantages and drawbacks.

Any sloppiness in your build causing sideways movement will make things inaccurate, inefficient, and kinda scary to use. On the other hand, making things too tight will TIRE YOU OUT LIKE YOU WOULDN'T BELIEVE!!! This leads me to believe that greased bearings or bushings will be your best friends for any moving part.

Reading all of your replies again revealed to me how much I didn't understand the first time around. Hindsight is 20/20, huh?

Anyway, that's what I've learned so far. Hope someone gets useful knowledge out of this.

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Everybody here has lots of insight and information as to what the experiences are/were.. 

I also wanted to build a foot hammer and in the way back looked at all viable methods for doing that.. My fabrication skills were not as good as they are now nor did I have the machinery to cut, size etc etc to get to a reasonable working prototype.. 

Today though is a different time frame and while a foot hammer is in no way a power hammer, foot hammers in general were used for a good many years by lots of smiths.. 

There are a few key things which I have discovered as well.. 

At some point in the future I might share the project if it turns out to have any merit as I need or want a foot hammer in the demo trailer.. 

3 key things..  direct pressure from foot treadle to hammer shaft or cam so there is nearly 0 free play so you get an accurate feed back.. an assist return spring on the full up so there is all ready pressure on the head at the time of the downward stroke again..  (these need to be balanced with ones own natural rhythms)..  Ideally with center pivot.. 

If you do a patent search many foot hammers will come up.. i like one design in particular..  I just got a new to me laptop running so will have to find the files again.. 

So, one big one: One has to understand the limitations a foot operated hammer has... It's a poor substitute for a striker or a power hammer but it can be very handy if designed and setup correctly.. 



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Treadle hammers are a valuable piece of equipment for the solo operation. It's another form of "helper" like a stand to support long stock in the forge and directly takes the place of a striker and the assortment of other helper tools used instead of a striker.

A couple things a treadle hammer won't replace is: #1. a power hammer, they're not particularly good for drawing out or other processes requiring rapid blows. Hmmm, I WAS going to say your fingernails but that's inaccurate a treadle hammer is a terrific tool to replace your fingernails with. A treadle hammer is NOT NEARLY AS SAFE AS STRIKERS! All kinds of bad can happen under a treadle hammer, from mashing fingers to sending a mis-aligned tool flying across the shop or into your hide.

However they're hard to beat for for top tool work, say incising lines decorative punching, repousse, chasing, setting rivets, etc. Basically anything where you need to hold the work, the tool and the hammer. Foot driven means a whole lot more muscle power so you can drive a much heavier hammer. The only power one needs besides your leg might be for a light or fan for hot days.

The construction and operating complaints and solutions I've seen over the years, since the internet went public that is have been: Hard to push, binds even, sloppy and inaccurate, won't return or the spring is so heavy it's hard to overcome. The most common solutions I've see have amounted to adding things till it sort of works. folk who "solved" one of these problems shared their fix of course, we're a helpful bunch. Unfortunately as often as not a person building a TH with the newest solution ran into the same problems and had to come up with solutions of their own. Again more add ons.

The problem I've seen almost universally is a lack of precision shop skills. Accurate measurement and precise cutting, drilling and assembly are IT. The oldest TH drawings I've seen make perfectly effective hammers if you're careful building it. A double arm TH multiplies the requirement for precision let alone a linear TH.

Agreed, just drilling holes in plate, strapping or pipe for the pivots isn't a good plan, wear will kill it quickly unless you use mild steel pins and even then. Bushings are a good idea, lubed steel is fine and bronze a little better, the main difference is a grease zerk or an oil hole. Bearings are pretty susceptible to impact damage unless you use thrust bearings and the increased need for precision construction.

Maybe 20 years or so ago Bruce Freeman came up with his "Grass Hopper" treadle hammer and his friend Marshal Beanstock. (Please don't kill me if I got Marshal's name wrong it's been a while) built it for him. As designed is more complicated than necessary, I think Much more but that's me. It's an adaptation of a Watt linkage for converting reciprocating motion to linear motion. The Watt linkage is similar but he experimented with a number.

Anyway, the grasshopper is a linear hammer, the ram travels in a very straight line making using TOP and bottom dies practical if you do a good job of building it that is. But unlike a TH with a sleave guide for the ram or even wheels the grasshopper is all swing arms so the only friction is in the pivots. This means a lot less power loss to friction while being able of doing closed die work.

Bruce came up with what he calls IIRC the weightless hammer, the return springs are balanced with the ram weight so it floats and you don't have to overcome the return spring to strike a blow. That's a slick innovation for THs though more complicated than necessary. Last is his adjustable ram height, another overly complex add on.

However you build a piece of equipment the more simple it is while doing the job well is the real measure of it's sophistication.

A TH is a great tool.

Frosty The Lucky.



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  • 1 year later...

Hey all, just wanted to revive this thread and use it as something of an update log. There is a lot of good info you guys have shared with me about this project and I read back on it sometimes when I think about actually getting this thing built.

I have bought Clay Spencer's treadle hammer plans from ABANA and my biggest regret is not buying them sooner. I took the plans to the scrap yard (technically yesterday) during a good sale, and bought some of the heavier pieces that will help me get this build started. (and too many springs, because they have too many uses).

A few things I would like to write down for readers who are at the experience level I was when I started this thread:
This thing seems as simple as pie until you sit down with a set of REAL plans that show in detail the amount of machining you're in for. Be prepared to fit big pieces in the shop for drilling and assemble them to weld flat, square, level and plumb. Be prepared to drill a lot of holes. I don't have the bits, or the money to buy them. luckily I have machinist friends who are happy to do this for me.

These plans do call for some simple forging. When I got the idea of building a treadle hammer I had the mentality that it could replace the need to develop good technique and hand hammering skills. I was a regular bicycle rider and figured I could use my leg muscles to replace my arm muscles; thinking that it would be a significant advantage. Whether or not the second part is true, I do not yet know.  As said by others I will repeat this: I don't think there is any replacement for good hand skills at the anvil. Brian Brazeal is a good teacher for this. Brent Bailey also explains some things well. But I have some issues with my back, and sometimes find it more ergonomic to stand with my feet together facing my work piece.

That tangent leads me to a point about building this treadle hammer: Most guys I went to school with and am friends with can't swing a hammer properly. After I got better I had my anvil face milled off and hand sanded it for weeks to get it smooth and flat; free of milling marks. I got the edges beautifully crisp. Now I've got it covered with dings and a few chips from letting newbies swing a hammer in my shop. A treadle hammer won't abuse your anvil the way a striker can. It doesn't miss it's mark. Only you do.

Now for my own curiosity; I never see anyone using a treadle hammer to assist in punching or drifting axe or hammer eyes. Is there a reason for this aside from the fact that it's easier in a power hammer than a treadle hammer? Is it easier by hand than in a treadle hammer?

even now there is fairly limited info on what treadle hammers work well for and don't work well for. Most vids on youtube show quick demos, but not a lot of footage of a day in the life of a treadle hammer, as there is with power hammers. I have done some scouring and will be happy to share links if anyone is interested in what I've found for info so far.

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5 hours ago, Blister Fingers said:

I had my anvil face milled off and hand sanded it for weeks to get it smooth and flat; free of milling marks. I got the edges beautifully crisp. Now I've got it covered with dings and a few chips from letting newbies swing a hammer in my shop.

Well, that’s karma getting you back for milling your anvil!

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Beginner mistake number one right there. Ruined a good anvil. The impact resistant rod to fix the face of your Anvil is pricey, as are the welders capable of doing it right. 

Crisp edges are bad, sharp corners make for stress risers, stress risers lead to cracks, anvil edges are dresses in radie from 3/16 to 1/2”

Jerry, wind power is easily stored buy classic water towers...

wind powerd pumps push water to the tower, a gravity battery if you will. Also note that the classic multi blade windmill for water pumping is self regulating, over a certain speed the blades begins to stall. They are not to hard to build from “tundra daisies” (55 gallon drums). 

One of the members built a simple Oliver with an adjustable mast, this allowed him to adjust the head angle at the intended point of impact. He used that feature to set knife bevels among other things.


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On 12/28/2017 at 5:46 AM, Blister Fingers said:

Now for my own curiosity; I never see anyone using a treadle hammer to assist in punching or drifting axe or hammer eyes. Is there a reason for this.

I have used my simple 4-bar linkage treadle hammer to punch eyes in a good handful of hammer heads to date.  Works just about as well as doing that with a striker, but you still need the hammer skills as you noted above (to know the timing and correct tool use).  Personally I'm not that used to using power hammers, so I would go to a treadle hammer, fly press or hydraulic press for punching eyes by preference.  I expect a good hammer with single blow capability, or a more experienced user, could also make short work of punching an eye.

Treadle hammers are also great for chasing and stamping  flat surfaces as well as chiseling out shapes in sheet metal.  They certainly don't completely replace a striker, but go a good way in that direction.

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On 12/28/2017 at 2:17 PM, Charles R. Stevens said:

Beginner mistake number one right there. Ruined a good anvil. The impact resistant rod to fix the face of your Anvil is pricey, as are the welders capable of doing it right. 

All true, except someone had already gone through all that trouble before I bought it. Not sure if I mentioned it before, but it's a newer 155# Trenton with the arc welded waist. It has a 7/8ths hardie and 2 pritchels. All have seen some use. I believe it was repaired because it didn't have a swayed back, but the whole face was crowned longways like a railroad track. The sides looked like they had been welded and ground back square, with little chamfer on the edges.
It was hard for me to divide material on the corners with any accuracy and It was just impossible to straighten a knife blade on it. (yes, unfortunately I started out by making Railroad spike knives). The face seemed to have a radius that the edges should have gotten. Would have been great to use as a horizontal shop cone in the condition I bought it.

I don't regret having my anvil milled to suit my purposes. I did radius the edges by hand after milling. I used sandpaper and a block, Just as I had done with the face. After working on it for about a year I decided to radius the edges more by using a hand file. I feel that a flap disc is too fast and aggressive for that task. One slip and that huge investment of time and money has a giant flaw in it. Probably a nice metaphor for a power hammer vs. hand hammering, or missing with a wild, uncontrolled hand hammer blow. Sure a hand file takes more time, but you have  much more opportunity to check the quality of your work, and adjust little mistakes before they turn into big mistakes.

I am a competent welder, and spent 3 years in highschool passing one bead after another with a SMAW (shielded metal arc weld) machine. It was a way to avoid doing real work and nobody wants to bother you when you're welding. When I decide it's time to fix up my anvil again I will pre-heat it by setting it in a fire pit and building a wood fire up all around it. O/A tanks cost a lot to buy and fill.  Then after a few hours I can do the 'ol buzz buzz with a mountain of 7018 rod and a 225 amp arc welder. Easy, but not cheap. Grinding the mess off is the hard part, because everything has to stay FLAT! I spent weeks on my anvil with flap discs before I even took it to the mill, grinding a little, checking with a square. Grinding a little, checking with a square. Or you can make friends with the owner of a surface grinder or milling machine. I don't know the owner of a surface grinder, but I DO know the owner of a milling machine. However that is wear and tear on his tools and I know i'll need to compensate him somehow for that.

I am writing this paragraph while I take breaks from hand filing a junkyard 4lb hand sledge into a rounding hammer. I have been at it for 3 hours and the whole hammer is at my body's temperature now. Another task I'm taking on to avoid doing any "real" work at the anvil or with cutting and fitting for this treadle hammer. :Edit: I left the desk for a while and have since finished up the round face of my 4lb sledge.

I think all this writing about fixing an anvil is plenty to convince any intermediate smith to consider using a treadle hammer over the alternative of someone with cheeto dust on his hands and not even the first idea of what it took you (me) to build your (my) shop from a coffee can full of bbq brickettes and a rusted piece of railroad tie plate without any help or support from anybody. Does this post qualify me for a "Jr. Curmudgeon in training"  title or should I keep ranting about my deep seated frustrations towards disrespectful shop help who don't care about the welfare of your equipment? 


Uh... Long story short gentlemen, I think I would personally rather have a Treadle hammer than a striker. Most people I know can't be bothered to come out on a regular basis and learn the skills, even if the only skill is hitting the same spot every time. Which reminds me, A beginner striker will almost ALWAYS try to hit the metal where they hit it last, assuming that you moved the piece for no reason. With a striker you also have to train another person to read colors and watch for cold shuts, bad tool angles, bad work positioning on the anvil, pauses for tong readjustment, tool readjustment, ETC. All of this is assuming your striker is capable of hitting their mark without the hammer landing at an angle; which is tremendously dangerous.

I have noticed a really bad trend in this thread: The assumption of a capable striker who is available whenever you are, for whatever tasks you need and nothing more or less. Maybe for past generations that was a realistic possibility, but not in mine. I'm about as likely to run a machine shop with nothing but windmill power. How fickle of a resource that is.

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Na, most of us don’t have access to a striker on a regular basis ( tho I can get some one to hold the stock some times). But it’s a rare treadle hammer that will out strike an experienced human striker. 

I would get a bit of practice with the Gunther method of anvil repair befor taking on fixing your soft faced anvil. 

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I think your miss informed, most anvil faces are about R55. Your thinking has led to the inability to buy a properly hardened chisel or hammer. 

Your inexperiance has led you to make a bad desisian and damaged your anvil buy milling the hardened layer off, your immaturity has led you to believe you are right in your decision to do so. Attacking me won’t change that.

an experienced smith knows that perfectly flat and sharp edges don’t necisaraly make a good anvil, Chinas smiths have used crowned face anvils for centuries. And a sway backed anvil is much better for cold straitening steel than a flat anvil will ever be. Infact a set of dies consisting of 1/2 round matched to a single round in a vice works really well.

but I haven’t been playing with steel for 35 years, or keeping my horses in hay with an anvil for 20...



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