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what press should i get


michael klemz

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so I have been doing some looking but I can't seem to find a power hammer that I could buy but with my price range I don't think I could even get a power hammer ever but I could get a press and I know I can forge weld on them for making Damascus and that is the main reason I wanted a power hammer but I don't know what is a good press like brand and price wise my price range is like 400-600 dollars and how many tons of force do I need for blacksmithing im a hobbyist. 

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michael klemz, I wouldn't go any lower than 16 tons, I suggest you check out Coal Iron Work's presses to get a general idea of pricing...

IF buying a press is out of the question then maybe look into getting an old log splitter (20 + tons) and convert it into a forging press, which would probably be cheaper and easier than building a forging press from scratch. Check out Big Dog Forge's video about converting a log splitter into a forging press on youtube. Make sure when buying a log splitter that the quoted tonnage is not quoted from the log splitter's ram cutting edge and rather the cylinder's rod because of smaller surface area = more tonnage (I hope I've made at least an ounce of sense.)

I'm sure more experienced people will chime in soon and give you better advice than mine.

Disclaimer: I'm only 15 yrs so don't take anything I say for granted!!

Ross

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A punch press, (toggle press, O.B.I) will do anything a hammer will do, no modification whatsoever, and you can get em for scrap or less around here.  Don't know about Washington.  Go for between 35 to 75 tons. I've stuck on a picture down below of a random OBI just so you know what I'm talking about.  

 

OBIPress.jpg

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No it won't!   Stick a 3 inch piece of stock in one set up to 1.5 inches and watch the explosion as it self destructs.  A punch press HAS to complete it's cycle if not it either hangs up or self destructs.  A power hammer has spring in it's system allowing you to start large and go all the way down to "PUT IT BACK!"

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1 hour ago, Sanderson Iron said:

Thomas, do you have an OBI in your shop?  Any kind of punch press?  

 

Thomas is absolutely correct. I grew up  running punch presses and having something stop one part way through a stroke is an eye opening experience if you're half a block away. It's like being in a room with bomb going off, shrapnel included. When you look around and see the flywheel rolling across the floor at about 20 mph. you'll wish you'd brought a change of shorts. One time was enough for me and I'm still thankful it wasn't the press I was on.

If you have hands on experience using a punch press as a forging hammer please post videos.

Till then it's not just NO,  it's H-E-C-K NO!

Frosty The Lucky.

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Frosty, do you have a punch press in your shop?  I'm gonna guess no, just like I'm gonna guess (by his silence) that Thomas doesn't have one either.  So here we have two people who don't have a punch press and probably have never used one for open die forging announcing that it can't be done.  Yet, I've been using one for just that for almost twenty years.  (I still haven't seen it explode.)  Videos are hardly my shop's focus, but I have a few. You're free to look at them any time you want; and while you're at it, take a peak at my work.  Everything leaves tracks, and my press has left lots of happy little tracks all over my iron.  

Michael, if you're looking for a machine to make damascus, a punch press will do each operation: weld, draw, cut for folding (and fold if you want to), weld again, repeat.  Like I said, a press can do anything a hammer can do.  I don't make damascus anymore, but from my experience with both that and a press, I'm gonna say that you probably would get better consistency with a press than with a hammer or similar percussion or manual stroke machine.  And the cost is right smack-dab in the I-can-afford-to-experiment zone; and maybe even the I-can-have-more-than-one zone.    

Feel free to get ahold of me with questions.  I don't want to get into a shouting match on a public forum with well meaning people who haven't done this.  (edit off site link) a video will probably show up there eventually.  Just search for my name and business.  

Best of luck in your decision.

Joel Sanderson

You incorrectly assume that because he has not been online to read and argue your posts that you are correct? that is a flawed premise

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2 hours ago, Charles R. Stevens said:

The question then, Mr. Sanderson is how do you use your punch press to safely forge?

Measure. Run it the speed intended.  The flywheel has only so much energy (if you run it the correct speed) and the frame and crank are engineered to withstand that energy, probably by at least a factor of 3.  You can stop a press (and I have), but it's more of a headache than a nightmare.  Sometimes it jams; sometimes it bounces back; but I try to avoid the problem in the first place by using it sensibly.  

You can do things to kill a hammer too, and they also can be dangerous machines, but those are no reasons to keep us from using them.  There're lots of welded hammers out there.  Two of my hammers have had major repairs--welded or brazed parts that broke under the machine's own power.  Does that mean power hammers are no good because they self destruct?  

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MY guess is that Joel is using his punch press - knowing it's limits and using it well within the stroke limits to texture red hot metal.

The key is  - like I said - knowing the limits and not "crashing the machine" during use - its all in the settings. I'm on Joel's side - they can be used for forging.

They are not - power hammers or hydraulic forging presses - but can be used for specialized things with the correct adjustments.

In Michael's case - forget the press, power hammer etc. all can be done with a hand hammer like thousands of people are doing already (making pattern billets for knives).

 

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Michael,

It appears to me that the controlling factor in you choosing a press is the cost.  Initially, most would probably think that a ceiling of $600 would put you out of the running altogether.

However, I was able to find my H frame press including 5hp power pack up in BC for $550 5 years ago.  I have since changed out the cylinder for longer throw, and gear pump, as well as made some modifications to it, but it got me going, and the costs of any repairs and improvements were incremental and spread out.

So spread out your search to include Canada in Craigslist. Sometimes there are better opportunities up there and your dollar will go further.

Good luck

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4 hours ago, Charles R. Stevens said:

I think my statement was taken as a challenge, as your response to Thommas and Jerry obviously was. It wasn’t, it was a honest question. 

 

I would say Thomas and Frosty did challenge my statement that a punch press can do anything a hammer can do--with exclamation points to boot.  (I didn't take yours that way though.)  Over and over we hear the claim that punch presses are worthless to blacksmiths, and that holds our craft back--holds people like Michael back--because they have great potential at a very low cost.  

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These presses also have great potential for catastrophe. 

True, many things in blacksmithing do. 

But a machine of that kind of power isn't a machine for someone to buy to -learn- on, because it's at entry level pricing, or theoretically requires no modifications to use. 

Let's say the frame and all hold up in the case of a jam. There are -documented- accounts of tooling and material going flying and killing people. 

This is, frankly, irresponsible to suggest. IFI is supposed to put safety first.

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Blacksmithing equipment all seems to have differing use cases for what they excel at: a rolling mill does different things well than a hydraulic press, a power hammer excels at different things than a screwpress.  A treadle hammer  is excellent for other things.  I have seen a number of the results of press crashes; not pretty.  They are excellent tools for what they are good at but do not overlap much with a powerhammer in my belief; true I have much more experience with powerhammers, buying my first around 1980.

I am confused by the following two statementsd though:

Frosty: "I grew up  running punch presses and having something stop one part way through a stroke is an eye opening experience if you're half a block away. It's like being in a room with bomb going off, shrapnel included"

Sanderson: "So here we have two people who don't have a punch press and probably have never used one for open die forging announcing that it can't be done."

Now if you read my statement I don't say it can't be done. I say that a punch press will not do everything a powerhammer will do, a very different contention. If you can show me a video of you taking a 3" piece of stock and reducing it to paper thin in one go on your press---with no adjustment of the press then I will rethink my beliefs.

 

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No. But the question isn't can it be done. It's should you be telling a 15 year old it's a good entry level machine to learn this kind of thing on? This is where it becomes irresponsible. What happens if something goes catastrophic? I'm sure you've found a responsible, safe way to operate your machine. I don't even contest that. But that is worlds apart from telling someone else it's just a turnkey forging machine, without qualification. 

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I own one, a V&O 20 ton OBI.  And I have forged with it, only a little, because I have other better forging tools.  Many high end blacksmith shops around here have them for dedicated tasks.  But those same shops all have more than one power hammer and hydraulic presses for the simple reason that hammers and hydraulic forging presses are more versitile and user friendly.  Punch presses are useful for a certain type of work, no, in fact excellent for a certain type of work, but I'm not sure I'd advise a newbie to get one.  I personally know 2 guys who have lost fingers to punch presses, skilled machinists both.  If I HAD to scrap one tool in my shop it would be the OBI.

If we are to ballance economy versus flexability a home built Rusty type or spare tire hammer could be built by a resourceful beginner for the same price as a scrap OBI press, with the added benifit of not having to deal with the (probably) 3 phase motors found on old punch presses.  Remember, the OP sounded like a beginner.  A punch press is less of a backyard/garage shop tool than a home built power hammer. 

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11 hours ago, Sanderson Iron said:

Like I said, a press can do anything a hammer can do. 

Joel, rather than impugning Frosty's and ThomasPowers's experience, here's a serious suggestion: take some time to write a primer on the proper use of the punch press in a blacksmithing shop, with a comprehensive review of possible safety issues and how to avoid them, the strengths and weaknesses of the punch press (and how to maximize and minimize them, respectively), and so on.

I'm not challenging your assertion that a press can do what a hammer can; I'm challenging you to show us how it can. I've seen enough of Frosty's and ThomasPowers's interactions here on IFI (as well as those of many of our senior curmudgeons) to know that they may be opinionated, but they're also open-minded. If you have indeed figured out a way to use a punch press safely and effectively, let us know

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2 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Now if you read my statement I don't say it can't be done. I say that a punch press will not do everything a powerhammer will do, a very different contention. If you can show me a video of you taking a 3" piece of stock and reducing it to paper thin in one go on your press---with no adjustment of the press then I will rethink my beliefs.

Thomas,  I really don't think that was Joel's intent, as saying it will do what a power hammer will do , more in that it can be used for forging in general.

And yes, it may include some adjustments.

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