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Please help me find my first Treadle Hammer...


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Hello guys,  This is my first post on IFI and also quite green in the Blacksmithing world.  I have mostly tinkered with smaller things like S-hooks, Trammels, Campfire irons, etc.  I am now ready to move up and get more serious.  I am in the process of setting up my first real shop with a 14'x24' floor space.  Anyhow, to be short about this:    I need your best opinions on a high quality Treadle Hammer for my shop.  I have it's empty place ready and waiting to place the new machine.   I almost bought a Clay Spencer hammer, but maybe there is better out there?

I want an in-line.  I want quality.  I want efficiency of course.   I would also like to cap the price to about $2,000 give or take.

I would sure appreciate any advice and/or suggestions.  I am happy to be here with you guys and again I thank you!

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Welcome aboard, and glad to have you. Are you thinking of building or buying? Clay sells the plans both for the treadle hammer and for his tire-driven power hammer fairly cheaply, but I don't know anyone who makes them for sale on a wide basis.

To be perfectly honest, if I had a couple grand to play with, I would seriously consider investing in a fly press. Lots of accuracy, and as much or as little force as you like. 

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JHCC,  I would consider a Fly Press in the future, but have hundreds of uses and ideas for just a plain old Treadle Hammer.  Also, I want to purchase a completed hammer, though it doesn't have to be painted.  Thanks

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On line sells a Clay Spencer design treadle hammer for $1800.  It is the same design as mine and I really like mine.  However, you do have to pay motor freight from Missouri or go pick it up.  The question would be whether you could build it yourself from plans or would you rather spend the money rather than the time and cost of components even if you have the tools and skill to build it yourself.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand." 

PS  What part of MT are you in?

Also, some comments and impressions on treadle hammers.  For smaller items I prefer a hand hammer since I can hit faster than a treadle hammer can cycle.  Where a treadle hammer has an advantage is when you want a few HARD blows or repeated precision blows.  I find I like it better when using a top tool like a punch or something similar since I only have to hold the piece and the tool rather than securing the piece on the anvil with a hold fast, holding the tool, and hitting the tool accurately with a hammer.  A treadle hammer can be more precise and can repeat blows and operations more accurately.

Be sure to use handled top tools or hold un-handled tools with a vice grip or tongs.  Keep your hand out from under the treadle's hammer.  Don't ask how I know.

Make sure the hardie hole in the treadle hammer is the same size as your regular anvil so that you can interchange hardie tools.

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I just don't have the time to build the hammer, nor is it easy to get the materials for it.  I am definitely looking for a completely assembled hammer.

I live between Scobey and Plentywood.  A little below Sask and a little West of ND.

Thank you for the great advice using the Treadle Hammer as well.  I am ordering a pair of those 3 point tongs for gripping punches, chisels, dies, etc.  So I can grip tight and still keep the hands out of the kill zone!  Btw, I was looking at the Clay Spencer hammer (without paint) on Blacksmith Supply.  I would save a little money buying in the raw.  

 

PS, I completely butchered the multi-quote.  That's why this looks so funny.  I don't know what I am doing, lol

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Welcome aboard MT, glad to have you. About butchering the multi quote. There is NO reason to quote every line in a post you're responding to, especially if it's the one directly above. Use the quote function sparingly say if you're remarking about a single thing in a large post or one a few posts back. Quotes increase bandwidth repeating something that's already been said so unless it's necessary to make sense of what you want to say.

Quotes increase bandwidth and Iforge is a world wide forum with some 50,000 members in around 150 countries. Lots of members are on dial up connections they have to pay for by the minute rather than unlimited broadband. 

I'm not gigging you, there's a learning curve so we help the new folk along.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Ah, you're up on the High Line.  Nothing between you and the North Pole this time of year but a 3 wire fence.

One thing you might think about and is a modification that was done on mine is to add "ears" on the sides of the base to give a wider footprint.  I've never felt like mine was unstable laterally but when I look at the photos on the Blacksmith Supply site the base seems a bit narrow to me.  I just have mine sitting on the dirt floor of the shop.  It is not attached to a base or otherwise anchored.  When I had it on the concrete floor of my old shop it had a slight tendency to walk a bit.  Something to deaden the vibration between the base and the concrete like a cut up old inner tube might have solved the problem.  I just horsed it back into place once it had moved enough to be a problem.  I used a piece of pipe stuck into the horizontal tubing near the anvil of the hammer to give me leverage to walk it.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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George, you know the area well enough :D  Not much up here but a couple stray dogs and a few souls wandering around trying to figure out how they got here...

 

I noticed how dang skinny the hammer was too and thought about bolting it down in the concrete.  Now, since you mentioned about the slight walking, I will definitely be anchoring the hammer.  I have no plans on ever moving it anyways. 

One question to you or anyone... 

How much free space should I allow on both sides of the Treadle Hammer???

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It depends on what you plan on making.  If you are making, say, fireplace pokers which might be about 3 feet long and plan on using the treadle hammer to put some sort of decorative tooling on them you will need at least 3 feet on either side and/or in front.  If you are making knives that do not exceed a foot long then you need less.  

And remember, your clearance is in the line of the height of the treadle hammer's anvil.  If I have something long on my hammer it may extend into the space above my hammer rack and/or anvil.

Since the treadle hammer is about the heaviest piece of equipment I own (500+ lbs.) I positioned mine about in the center of one of the long walls of of my shop.  I can move smaller items in closer or reposition them easier than wrestle with the treadle hammer.

The treadle hammer is outside my normal work triangle of forge, anvil, and vise but is only a few steps away.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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George N.M., I thank you for all your advice as it is has been helpful.  I plan on most of my work being short and medium length sizes, but I don't know what I may try in the future.  It would be short sighted of me to not plan for some larger projects as well.  I suppose I should not anchor the hammer to the concrete right away until I have used it for the year.  I also will take in account to keep obstructions out of the anvil's height level as well.  Thanks again!

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You can attach the feet of the treadle hammer to the concrete with some silicone caulk, like a lot of folks attach their anvils to their stands. That will hold it reasonably securely, while being sufficiently reversible (with the help of a pry bar) to move if necessary. I'd suggest trying a few different locations, seeing what you like the best, silicone the hammer to the floor, and then work with that for a few months.

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33 minutes ago, MTplainsman said:

I suppose I should not anchor the hammer to the concrete right away until I have used it for the year.

BINGO! A number of folks want to anchor tooling without having used it long enough to know where THEY need it in their shop. An example we see frequently is burying a section of log anvil stand, several feet in the floor. This makes a REALLY solid anvil stand but you end up having to arrange the shop around the anvil. 

A smear of silicone calking will at a minimum limit it walking. It's not perfect but will keep it from moving much very fast. If your treadle hammer is walking much it might be how you're using it. They aren't really intended for general forging, they more replace a striker for specialty work. They free up a hand so you can safely hold top tooling and hit it without holding tongs between your legs or using a hold fast, etc. 

If you have a treadle hammer with a heavy hammer you don't have to give things a hearty smack, often a firm bump does the trick and bumping doesn't cause them to walk much if any. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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MT, BTW, if you are going to forge anything long it is really helpful to have an adjustable stand to support the far end of the work.  It should adjust vertically so that you can use it at the level of your regular anvil and the level of the treadle hammer.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."  

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Stands are important. I have 3 adjustables and need one more. 

As for space around and setup. My basic forge area is an equalateral triangle. When I added my 25# lil giant it created a diamond. it's centered between my anvil and post vice, in line with my forge and about a step and a half from anvil and post vice to hammer. When I added my treadle, the hammers are side by side but spaced so as not to crowd each other.

As far as space, in line, I can forge a 20' piece of flat stock, with appropriate stands and side to side, about 3' outboard and 4' or 5' in-between the two big hammers.

I'd say if you are serious about a treadle, you should, if possible plan for the max. You never know what the future will bring. If that's not possible, reduce this max to meet the size of your shop. At least be aware of what the future may bring.

I've built a platform out of rr ties and the two hammers are about 6" or so inboard from the outside edges. The two hammers are lagged to the ties and nothing moves.

I actually use my two hammers and my anvil as a team, you might say. For instance, the treadle is great for isolating mass. The lil giant then hogs out this mass without screwing up any edges. Then My 2-1/2# crosspeen cleans up dings etc, champfers edges, and just creats a nice hand forged finish on my anvil. My setup enables this all to happen in a pretty efficient manner.

 

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Anvil and George, Thanks again for the great advice...  I just brought out a couple adjustable stands to use in the forge area several days ago.   

Anvil, doesn't the extra 7 or so inches from the RR tie base make it a little more difficult to reach the foot treadle?

 

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MT, The height of the treadle hammer anvil is set by the manufacturer.  Without going out to the shop and measuring it I'd say that it is 8-10" higher than my striking anvil.  I'd say that is generally true for other treadle hammers I have seen.  You will be working mostly on your hand anvil.  So, make that you comfortable height.  There are plenty of threads on how high an anvi. should be.  Generally, high or low enough that your hammer face will be parallel to the face of the anvil when you are striking.  That is usually around the height of your knuckles when standing.  Some folk like it a bit higher, some a bit lower.

So, your support stands will have two primary heights, the hand anvil and the treadle hammer anvil. 

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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I am just using a cast iron rivet forge right now and a 130 pound Peter Wright.   I have had the anvil set at knuckle height since I started my hand at forging.  My rivet forge isn't the same height as my anvil right now, but I am collecting components to build a larger side blast forge and I will have that at the same level as my anvil face.  That way I can use the forge to support longer stock while I hammer or vise versa.  Also, I have an adjustable stand I can use to rest long stock on any where I choose to position it.  I have plenty of support options now.  I do have an extra adjustable stand that I can dedicate just for the for the treadle Hammer as well.    I am saving some scratch to purchase a 260 pound Holland Double Horn, hopefully this March or April.  I am pretty excited about building a proper dedicated forging area.  I have many, many questions to ask the folks on here as I go along... hope I don't wear out my welcome by asking too much too often!

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MT, we're glad to have you here.  We'd love to have pics of your set up and work.

I realize that you are even more in the back of beyond than either Frosty or I but f you can hook up with a blacksmithing group you will find it very rewarding.  You will learn more with someone and faster than you can by yourself. I was always a lone eagle when I started out and only had some books (no internet back in the neolithic).  I would have gone further faster with some actual contact with more experienced smiths.  Once it is safe to travel again you may want to make some weekend jaunts to smithing events. 

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Hey George, it is true, I live in the "back of beyond" and also the most rural county in the lower 48 (Daniels).  Farthest away from an Interstate, major city, etc.  It is 130 miles to get to the nearest chain store.  You understand the difficulties I have to apprentice and even acquire tools and materials.  My plan after I get my new 260 pound anvil and the treadle Hammer, is to save up enough to go to a Blacksmithing school.  I m thinking about Arrowhead Forge school in Buffalo, WY.  Maybe you know if this would be a good place to school at for a beginning smith or maybe you know of better places within the MT, ND, WY, ID, SD areas???

PS, I need a little more time before I post pics of my shop area...  I don't feel right in it's current state, lol

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Knuckle height is too low for most bladesmiths or folks doing precision work; it's great for doing heavy work with top tools and sledges though.  Do you find yourself bending over the work to get a bit closer?  That kills your back.

A lot of the old books were based on the old blacksmith's shops where they did do "heavy work".  Some modern authors copied the height suggestions not knowing that it varied depending on what you did and how much of it.  My shop has anvils at a range of heights so I can use the one that's best for what I do.

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