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Hello I forge family, 

As I've previously stated I am an amateur blacksmith. I have a few projects under my belt. Since I started on this journey I've wanted to build a small power hammer, just to aid in the busy work of drawing out material and whatnot. 

I guess my question is which power hammer design does everyone prefer? 

I have included a few photos, I'm leaning towards the red hammer design but I'm also interested in the foot power design. 

I'm sure there's already a thread that covers these but I couldn't find it. 

Any help is grateful. Screenshot_20160927-113125.pngScreenshot_20160927-110207.png

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Not familiar with the "red" power hammer, though it does appear to be a version of an Oliver style to me.  Can't watch the video at this point, but from the photo the anvil section looks pretty light duty (unless solidly steel stock which the exposed bolt heads appear to contradict) and the head weight is light as well.  Certainly would still be better for drawing out than by hand (though it won't compare to even a 25# Little Giant in my opinion), but I'd be very sure of my welding abilities before I stood in front of that hammer head.

The other hammer is more properly termed a treadle hammer, not a power hammer.  These are more typically used for punching, chasing, chiseling and the like than drawing out.  That being said, I have a 4-bar one like the one pictured and love it.  Have used it for some limited forging as well as the specific techniques listed above.  Works well in combination with flatter and fullering tools, but again won't perform up to a true power hammer for drawing operations IMHO.

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"What does everyone prefer?" will get you fifty answers from twenty-five blacksmiths. Think a lot about the kind of work that you do, what your fabricating skills are, what budget you have available (both for money and for time), and so on. What another person prefers could be just what you need -- or completely irrelevant to your projects and skill level.

Have you read the threads in the "Power Hammers, Treadle Hammers, Olivers" section of IFI? There is a LOT of information in there that will help you with your question -- if not answering it outright, at least in helping you ask a better question.

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On September 27, 2016 at 11:49 AM, Latticino said:

Not familiar with the "red" power hammer, though it does appear to be a version of an Oliver style to me. 

With the red hammer build the builder used a 16 pound sledge head for his hammer. If I build that type of hammer I would definitely go for more weight. 

As far as the treadle hammer goes, that is very interesting and I might build that as well. Can't have enough tools right? 

On September 27, 2016 at 2:48 PM, JHCC said:

"What does everyone prefer?" will get you fifty answers from twenty-five blacksmiths.

That is a good point, and I half expected to get that many responses. I have started reading the thread but like you said there is a LOT of information. I will come back with either a better question or my decision. 

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For what it's worth department, Bob Menard. V P of the New England Blacksmiths at ball&[email protected] in Portland Maine is setting up a Power Hammer Building Event.  He has someone of national prominence (name escapes me at the moment like most names these days) coming in to  do the instructing.  Everyone will leave with a power hammer! 

Contact Bob for the particulars it might be worth your time.  No date has been set yet from what I understand.  IF I was younger, not semiretired, not on SS I would be banging on his door for this.  I will not quote what I heard as a price range but it was real reasonable to have caught my tight fisted attention!  Plus knowing a little about Bob I know he only runs top level events in his shop.  I also know that Portland Maine is about 300 clicks east and another 300 clicks north of where a lot of you are. But a selling feature to the little woman or significant other in your life they  could get a long weekend on the coast of Maine! 

Send Bob a note.

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Sure it will.  If you  are near Portland X out Bob and his shop real nice guy and ask him how many blacksmiths does it take to move a lathe from one PU to another at the New England Blacksmith meet last weekend.  15 of us 5 guys and a tractor doing the work and 10 of us giving suggestions, doing the heavy looking on, and groaning In my case I held one of the worker's dog and helped with the suggestions. 

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Home Built: I like the various tire hammers

Commercial: I like Champions, Chambersburgs, etc.

Treadle hammers are not power hammers.  Most blacksmithing tools have relatively specific use cases and so if you want to do a lot of a specific process you would do well to get the tool most appropriate for it.  Trying to use a tool outside of what it's best for can result in problems/injuries.  Note that the red one has the user standing in the "throw path" if there is a weld failure on the hammer head. (possible if the weldor did not use proper process for high carbon steel welds)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Actually it is a copy of a Depew, not even remotely like an Oliver, in fact it is more like a Blacker, another true power hammer.

It is best described as an unguided shelve hammer.

Due to the miracle of efficiency described as in  "unsprung weight" this design hits much harder than one would expect and is certainly easier to build than the highly over rated tire hammer.

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Needless to repeat, I wasn't sure on it's provenance, but said it was an Oliver style, not an Oliver (which are non-powered treadle hammers).  Mostly I was looking at the hammer weight to arm length ratio.  I was not familiar with the Depew or Blacker hammers, thanks for bringing them up. 

If we are going to be pedantic, I think you meant "helve" not "shelve", but got caught by autocorrect.

I'm also not sure what you mean by "unsprung weight".  Certainly this model includes a leaf spring set between the drive motor/eccentric cam-flywheel and the hammer end.  While the sprung drive will give some of the whipping motion that enables tire hammers to function so well, I stand by my assertion that safety in operation should be a real concern with this design.  I believe that many of the older helve hammers involved much larger hammer head weights moving a lot more slowly than this one appears to (though I haven't been able to source the video, just from the assumed ratio of the pulley to the cam). 

Of course I'm always willing to learn otherwise.

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Un spring weight is an automotive term but how it relates here is that the tup and attached mechanisms weigh much less than most powerhammers which enables faster pickup.

These little hammers hit fast, they derive their energy from rapid movement.

Force equal velocity squared times masss.

This is clearly a copy of a Depew, a fast hitting, short stroke light hammer.

Entirely disagree that tire hammers "function well"

The tire acts like a flywheel in reverse.

A real flywheel stores energy and releases it as needed.

A tire absorbs energy when it is needed most, acting in the exact opposite manner than the Depew style hammer. 

A flat belt clutch is leaps and bounds superior to a tire clutch.

Tire hammers are popular and work but are far from efficient.

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  • 3 months later...

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