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I Forge Iron

Press Handheld Tooling

Jon Kerr

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Hi all,

I have a Coal Ironworks 12ton press on order to me in the UK, should be here this week.

Im crazy excited and also very nervous. I've never used a hydraulic press of any kind before so I'm expecting a steep learning curve and hoping not to injure myself in the process!

If anyone has any tips I'd greatly appreciate them.


My first, possibly daft, question is- can you use handled tools under the press in the same way you would under a power hammer?

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Hi Jon- I recently picked up a used Coal 12 ton and am very happy with it. here's what I found:

-Not really much of a learning curve if you have been forging a while and understand how metal moves. The machine will let you know it's capabilities and limits pretty quick. Hydraulic control is a simple up/down on the handle, and once you reach limit, just let go and reverse. The unit should come with flat and fullering dies, and they are H13 as Thomas suggests. The main use for me is to break down larger stock to the point I can do the final fine tuning with anvil and hammer. The gentleman I purchased from did pattern welding and included home made squaring dies. I made a few tooling holders for 3/4" and 1" dia. punches, ez pz if you have access to a welder or weldor.  The press also came with a few other home made dies that I am still working thru. I keep a spare ratchet with a 3/4" socket on the table for die changes. Once you get it set up, just get some metal hot and run it thru its paces.

As far as safety- keep the pink bits from under the moving bits to prevent flat bits. Be aware of your high pressure hoses and keep them protected from kinking or contact with moving parts or hot metal/ scale. They should come with protective sleeves on them. If they don't - GET THEM AND INSTALL BEFORE USING! They help contain any possible high pressure leaks which can remove important digits or inject hydraulic fluid under the skin. Make sure dies are tight and all welds are not cracked.

Your last question is certainly not daft. The larger Coal presses have an adapter for foot controls for that very purpose. The 12 ton doesn't have that capability (I think- I've been wrong before) but I have been playing with a work around. I have extended the control handle ~ 8" or so, and attached a stirrup like foot control that is set at a comfortable position for my foot. I'm still kinda tweaking this, though. so no final definitive answer to this.

Hope this helps. I really enjoy mine and it is really saving some wear and tear on my already aching joints.


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Thanks Thomas, good to know, I will stick to H-13 where possible when making new tooling.

Stash- thanks for the detailed response! Thats exactly what I was looking for in terms of the basics of operation, etc. Sounds like its fairly simple.

I actually ordered my 12ton with a foot pedal (might be a new accessory theyve release?) so its good to know handheld tooling is an option.



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