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I Forge Iron

Need some advice on power hammers & presses

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My wife threw me for a loop yesterday. I've got a truck for sale & she's insistent that I spend the money once it sells on a power hammer or a hydraulic press. I'm  completely out of my knowledge base on either option, heck I've never even seen either in person. Let alone used one. I've tried researching through the sight, but there's so much info that I'm at a loss of where to start. 

Most of my work has been leaning towards blades over blacksmithing lately, but I'm still doing the odd hinge or poker or whatnot for folks. Which kind of machine would be better for both bladesmithing & blacksmithing? What do I look for when looking at a potential purchase? Questions to ask? The only odd stuff I make is canister damascus. What's a reasonable price for either? I'm sure there's a lot more I need to think of, but I really don't know what. 

I've found some 25 Little  Giant trip hammer nearish to me for over & under $3k usd. As well as a #25 Kerrihard in the same price range. I found a homemade forge press somewhat local, but it looks very sketchy & they be wanting some serious coin for it. 


Any advice & pointers is greatly appreciated. 




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While I haven't tried it, my LG needs better dovetails to keep the upper die in place. My bad. However is there a reason V dies won't work in a power hammer? Hammering canister in V dies prevents it from distorting sideways so the material in the canister is under uniform compression.

About half the time on FIF the contestants have V dies in the press and are usually the more successful welding their billets.

I have new dovetails for my LG but I can't get the old bottom die's key out. I'd leave it and use as is but the key is only holding by about 1/4" and it's mostly out of position worse in an awkward position. It's a weird situation I'm not sure how I'm going to get around. I have a bunch of stuff for playing with canister so when I get the dies working I'll see what happens. People have been giving me potential blade steel for probably 25 or more years. I've enjoyed working on the Seax I got from Theo even if I haven't finished it yet. And . . . The dark side . . . pulls

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 5 months later...

V dies are problematic on small hammers like a 25-50 pound little giant because of the die size and stroke of these machines. They can be made to work, it is just really inconvenient. As for the original question, a small power hammer is pretty versatile and can do a wide variety of stuff. A press is good for bigger stock, and that is assuming you arent looking at a big power hammer. Over 200 pounds and the hammer kind of catches up to the press, but that is a pretty big machine for a hobby level shop.

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  • 1 year later...

I've pondered which to get first too, and seen threads on this forum (and others) with conflicting viewpoints on the matter.

When it comes time for me to pull the trigger, I will go with a press first, and likely the 16 ton from Coal Ironworks. 

My reasoning is that a press is better for some applications such as canisters, but can also draw out metal very quickly. 

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