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I Forge Iron

Power hammer foundation follow-along

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I've been building my workshop for a year now inside a barn. My dad and I put up the ceiling over the summer. Next up is the floor which we will tear out, insulate and pour anew, but before that I have to pour the power hammer foundations. I have 3 hammers. One for each hand! I'm just about to start digging the pits. Funny thing is the power hammer foundations can't be moved later, so I've got to look over the layout well before-hand. The layout as it is right now is certainly not set in stone yet, or concrete. I'm making all this up as I go. Perfect way of doing things. Looking at the layout now, the big 75 kg/165 lb Mammutwerke hammer could perhaps be put where the electrode welder is, in front of the window. Having the forge right in the middle might not be smart. Gotta look it over a little more.

Anyhow, I will ask you guys and gals for advice here as I go. I'm planning on doing very similar to what Torbjörn Åhman did: pour on top of ground soil in a form, 6,5 metric tonnes. My hammer has small round holes that aren't suited for T-bolts. The holes are 35 mm, (1 3/8''). I'll most likely use threaded rods, 30 mm, (1 1/8'') to hold down the hammer. I would put pipes in the concrete and on the bottom end of those I'll weld plates with nuts welded onto them, and a piece of pipe again, welded shut. I thought about using T-bolts and sinking them down before-hand and lifting up the bolts through the holes. It kind of seems like a hassle to produce the bolts, and it would be a bit wonky to lift the anvil on top of them (see the photo, the anvil shall be bolted also).

I would design the hammer foundation in the same way as Torbjörn also, instead of as in the original plans. I want the foundation to be not so deep, to limit effects of bad soil (mud and silt, sinking?) or ground water, and I want the hammer to hammer in the centre point of mass, so the block won't start leaning. Hopefully the whole foundation and hammer won't have sunk through the floor one day when I enter the forge. We live on old sea bottom! We need to hold up the dirt during all this so it doesn't fall out from under the buildings.

What do you think about the bolts? And do you have any suggestions about the layout? The car wouldn't be parked there, it would only be there for maintenance. Feel free to comment on anything. Thanks! This is a big project for me!









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Looking at your shop plan I would NEVER put a machine tool like a mill in the same room with blacksmith or welding type hot work, let alone right next to the forge, there is just too much abrasive and corrosive junk in the air.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Good point; I'd suggest a solid air tight wall between the forging area and the machining/vehicle area!   

Will they even allow a Vehicle and flame based equipment to share a room?  Having been a Boy Scout in my younger days I have seen way too many times what gas fumes and fire can do!

How are you planning to heat it?

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Thats the first thing I saw to. Your machinery tools and car are going to get pretty dirty from your forging.

I'm guessing you dont have much forging experience. Thats what your layout tells me. 

Basically you have too much stuff crammed into a 16' width. You wont have room to do anything. It appears that with your power hammers, you can work big iron, but you are pretty limited spacewise to work anything longer than 4' long or so. 


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I could mock up some hammer like cardboard cut outs. That could help sort things out.

I know what you mean Frosty. It would be good to separate it. But it should be fine for the moment because it won't take much abuse. Because I'm not that proficient a blacksmith! :D So I'm not going to be grinding and blasting scale very often for the time being. I have to build an addition to a house and renovate it after this workshop is finished. Also I will become a father in two weeks. And we have a small farm that needs some time.

I'm putting underfloor heating pipes in 2/3 of the floor for future heating possibilities. For the near future I'm not sure. I only need 10 degrees C and I only need heating for 5 months of the year. So it's not that crucial. For now I think I'll use any electrical air heater, gas burner or diesel burner, and use the floor heating in the future. I plan on burning wood chips to heat the house, and likely my parents house also as they are getting old, and might want to stop using firewood. So I might heat the workshop also with that same heating system. One heating unit for 3 buildings, perhaps it's called central heating.

anvil, correct. I don't have much experience. And the car wouldn't be there. I only leave space for a car. I'll drive a car in there sometimes for maintenance. My layout has 3 tables for example I could reduce to one or two.

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3 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

Ok only put in one power hammer and store the others outside.

I know I'm still not that experienced to actually need three hammers. My skill level could be described as Intermediate. And I should listen to the veterans who knows best... But I'm young still and I think I know best! ;-) Three hammers is a lot but just look at Black Bear Forge or some production shop, they have many hammers and presses. Torbjörn Åhman has two hammers. I agree I could get by with only the big one, but it would hurt my brain to leave two hammers in storage. I'm planning on forging axes. I'm building this shop mostly as a blacksmithing hobby shop. Car maintenance and farm equipment maintenance is a welcome bonus.

I made a new layout iteration. I like the forge against the wall.


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Too far from forge to hammer(s).    I would design for the near term as  things may change a lot over time.

Remember you generally can do everything with a well designed large powerhammer that you can do with a smaller powerhammer---but not vice versa.

Unless you will be using your shop like the people you have mentioned than trying to be like them is not necessarily a good thing!

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There are always exhaust from the forge and dust generated in a smithy, whether you have a powered grinder or do it by hand. Combustion byproducts of coal contain but aren't limited to sulfur dioxide and when combined with water, another combustion byproduct make sulfuric acid. Coal smoke also has a mineral component to the degree the coal contains minerals, silica in the coal results in microscopic glass particles in the smoke.

Propane burns hot enough to produce nitrous oxide, water vapor and carbon oxides. Nitric acid rusts things like crazy.

I burn propane primarily with the man door open on one end and the overhead door open on the other and everything in my shop rusts up. It's a constant exercise to prevent it. I regularly spray vulnerable tools and equipment with CRS3 penetrant which contains rust reversing chemistry and leaves a wax coating. 

Your latest post just loaded and you still do NOT get it. If you were to put a wall across the space at the window just over the 12 in your drawing and put the machine shop to the left and put the blacksmith shop to the right it would be a workable shop and not ruin your machine tools and equipment. You still don't have room to swing a 6m stick of steel nor 3 power hammers. 

There is about 20+ years of experience as a professional blacksmith difference between you and John or Torbjorn, it's like a person applying for a student pilot's license comparing them self to an astronaut. 

Just because you have something doesn't mean you have to use it and if you insist in packing it all in that small a space, leave walking room so you can pack boxes, old furniture, etc. around it because you'll be turning it into storage area.

I'm going to have to stop replying or I'll start getting irritated, having people ask advise and argue with everything we say is a typical beginner thing. If you have your heart set on jamming your shop like that, it's your shop have at it. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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It's good to have you here, Frosty. I appreciate yours and Thomas' advice. You've got to let me push back a little. It wouldn't be great either if I have my mind set on something, and you tell to me do a 180° and I follow blindly. But I have taken your advice to consideration now. I could put my home-built 40 kg hammer in storage. And the 25 kg hammer I might put on a mobile stand so I can move it in sometimes and then move it out if I'm out of room or if I find I'm not using it. So I'm only committing to the big Mammutwerke.

I see no problem in looking at other shops for ideas. What else should I aim for? And did I ever compare my skills to John's +20 years? And what do you know of me? You really could adjust your tone.

3 minutes ago, TWISTEDWILLOW said:

Congratulations! do you know if it’s a boy or a girl? 

Thanks a lot! It is a girl, and she's moving around a lot! :D I want to give her other toys than simply dolls. Some construction machines and such.

1 minute ago, Frosty said:

Congratulations Papa to be! There goes any free time for the shop for a few years.

Thanks, Frosty. Only time to build, no time to forge...

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Our friends gave our Daughter a small anvil made from steel in a machine shop class as her "birth present".  I gave both my Daughters tools for birthdays and Christmas---I remember giving them both 3/8" VSR drills one year. (They still have them!)

I'm now giving all my grandchildren tools, socket sets last Christmas.  As the Grandkids are spaced out 2 per kid; last year I gave a metric set and an "american" set.  This year I wanted to cross gift them so they would each end up with both types.

(My Daughter with the 4 sons was the exception as two were too young for using tools!)

I once read that we tend to praise our daughter's looks and our son's actions---and looks are not what you should be basing your life on!   So I have always tried to praise my kids actions as warranted!

Now making a "clean shop" for the machine tools is a GREAT idea!   Powerwash it, put a plastic seal under the floor when you cast it.  Keep it above condensation temps and you will have a machine shop!

My shop is divided in two pieces: a clean shop with a concrete floor and the smithy with a dirt floor.  The welder, grinder, powerhammers, forges go in the smithy. The work bench and drill press go into the clean shop.  Currently the tools for cold armour making are in the clean shop too.  Each piece is 20' wide by 30' long and have a 10'x10' rollup door at each end---3 as they share one in the dividing wall.  The forge shop also has a higher peaked roof and open gables for even more ventilation.  Each shop also has a "man door" to the outside as well.

I don't expect you will see much of your shop for a while---in 1989 I had a new job, a 100+ year old house and a new daughter and was attending college as well.  Didn't get to forge much!

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Jarntag, your proposed shop is about twice the size of mine (about the same width, but twice as deep). If you're trying to maintain the ability to park/work on a car in there that cuts your available space in half...ish.  I don't have a power hammer or a lathe or a milling machine and I still find my space is limited. I would put one power hammer in. If you want to pour the base for a second one then do that, but until you find you actually need it it's just going to take up valuable space IMO. Let your skills come up, then match your tooling.

3 hours ago, Jarntagforge said:

But it should be fine for the moment because it won't take much abuse. Because I'm not that proficient a blacksmith! :D So I'm not going to be grinding and blasting scale very often for the time being.

Fine for the moment maybe, but when you are a proficient blacksmith and you are throwing scale and dust all over your other expensive equipment (both of those things will happen and probably sooner than you think!) is the plan to re-renovate your renovation to protect them?

You really only have a couple of things that are really fixed in place: your power hammer and the chimney. Obviously these can be moved, but it's not like sliding around a table or an anvil or other furniture. You want your forge to be a step or two away from your anvil/post vise. If you want to make axes and plan to do any welded in bits, you can't bring your axe up to welding heat and then walk half way across the room and set your weld. It's little thing like that make the difference when designing a shop.

I'm not a master smith here by any means. I'm just sharing my thoughts.

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Good point about possibly putting in the smaller bases; but not siting the smaller hammers. (OTOH you can rent a concrete cutter to cut holes in the floor later if you want to and you will probably have a different arrangement after you have used the set up for a while.)

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Made a new layout iteration. The Mammutwerke doesn't run in its current state. They couldn't get it to work so they gave up. I'm much more hopeful. Nothing is broken. Maybe the motor is too small, could be many things. Will be fun to fix.

So I will put the Bahco there on a mobile base so I'll have something to use. It's true as you say that the arrangement might change later. I'm pouring the floor 6 inches thick according to the structural engineer's specifications. It would be much easier to pour a wider pad now and then put the hammer somewhere on that than to cut the floor open again later. The pad doesn't have to be that deep or that wide but still somewhat oversized. I'll have to think about it. Thanks to everyone for your feedback. There's so many variables here for me to consider.


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On 9/23/2021 at 11:48 AM, Jarntagforge said:

Three hammers is a lot but just look at Black Bear Forge or some production shop, they have many hammers and presses. Torbjörn Åhman has two hammers.

The point you are missing isn't what they have in their shops now. The real question is how many years did they spend with a basic forging setup before they added even their first pie e of power equipment.

But hey, monkey see, monkey do. Neither of the two gents have their shops set up the same. Why, you may ask,,,?  The one setup that most all good working blacksmiths have in common is the relationship between their forge, anvil, and post vice. And you are not even close. 

So pour that concrete and spend that money,,, perhaps you will be lucky and be that one monkey sitting at a typewriter and type out the works of Shakespear.

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