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January 2009 Archive

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J. Dempsey  <webmaster> Rev. 7/98, 3/99, 5/2k, 6/2k, Friday, 04/06/01 16:43:25 GMT

striker tools: wonder what's up with their website.
striker tools
- Tyler Murch - Sunday, 01/31/10 16:15:21 EST

Tyler, It looks like they have closed their doors. They had been paying their advertising bills but I had no notice to stop.
- guru - Sunday, 01/31/10 19:27:43 EST

Striker: We received their bankruptcy notice today, filed Jan. 27th.
- guru - Monday, 02/01/10 15:32:10 EST

Kinda says something about the market for power hammers in the US.
With so many older used machines still in circulation, and with blacksmiths being so cheap, its not a very profitable business.
Big Blu, Iron Kiss, and a few others are making utility hammers, but they are not really industrial in build quality- which is not to put them down- most hobby blacksmiths dont need, or want to pay for, industrial.
Which is probably why I have only seen ONE chinese self contained bigger than 250lbs- nobody in industry is buying new 500lb or 1000lb self contained open die hammers in the USA.
Anyang has had a difficult time keeping US distribution up as well.

And yet, per pound, the chinese hammers are an incredible deal- US made castings would probably be running a US maker about 4 bucks a pound, delivered to the factory loading dock, and would need to sell for more like $15 a pound for a finished, cast iron self contained hammer- Which puts an 88lb hammer well up over $30,000. Still a tiny fraction of what Chambersburg was getting 25 or 30 years ago, but way above what the hobby market will pay.
I know a guy who manufactures machine tools in the USA, and he says if he cant clear $20 a pound on a casting based tool, after machining and assembly, he would go broke.

But even at those incredibly low prices for what they are, the US market aint buying much.
- ries - Monday, 02/01/10 18:41:02 EST

I think it is the general economy more than anything else. Our sales are down to a 8 year low and we have the fewest advertisers since our first year. So much for progress!

The Chinese hammer dealers never did a big business in hammers but I know how many hammers Big BLU sells and its a LOT of hammers compared to the others. The folks at Striker had other business interests that may have been the problem.

Shipping rates have skyrocketed in the past year since the peak in oil prices. Container prices doubled in a spike and have not returned to the pre spike rate. The US Post office doubled global rates and just this January tripled and quadrupled many priority mail rates. A 15 pound package shipped across country cost less than $20 last year and is now over $50. We have been forced to change to UPS after 10 years of using the mail service almost exclusively. . . Shipping is a big component in Chinese hammers.

But the result is, that buying a Chinese, Indian or Turkish or other import hammer is not much better than buying any orphan machine. When it breaks you are on your own.

And the talking heads say everything is great, buy more stocks to make the rich richer. . .
- guru - Monday, 02/01/10 21:45:08 EST

Stiker: I contacted striker several times trying to purchase a hammer when they were in business. I could never get anyone to respond to me. Maybe that helped their demise.
- Bubba - Monday, 02/01/10 23:31:02 EST

bring forth: a hammer.... of a new design...powerful...easy to control....made in american and as cheap as the chinese hammers.....make it...they will buy it..
- pete - Tuesday, 02/02/10 07:27:00 EST

"of a new design": Why should it be "of a new design" ?
Why can't we just pick a good reliable operating principle and figure out a way to make a safe reliable hammer that is within the relm of afordability for most or at least enough people to make it viable.
Guru, I know you can quote a dozen reasons and requirements in any business effort but, I just can't beleive with all the ability we have in this contry that we can't do this. As you say the playing field has been leveled somewhat by higher shipping costs from over seas but, to come up with a new mechanical movement to power a hammer effeciently and cost effectively is the stumbling block that I see.
Can't we just shamelessly reproduce an older but effective hammer design and admit that it is a new version of a "whatever" brand and model that was made however long ago?
Who would care? As long as it does what it is supposed to do and is afordable to enough people...
- merl - Tuesday, 02/02/10 12:36:08 EST

Interesting about Striker in the US, Its not been an easy last 18 months for anyone in the hammer business.

Ive noticed sales picking up again in the UK over the last 2 - 3 months, and I sell a proportionally huge number of anyangs in the UK. Industrial forging seems to be on the up again now aswell. Fingers still crossed but it looks like the start of a recovery to me.

On the ever running import -v- domestic hammer debate I could not buy the materials (castings and forgings) for what I can buy a hammer for at the moment, let alone machine, assemble and test the hammer, and turn a $ on it. Simple fact :(

But.... Im seriously considering bringing a 100 year old design 'self contained' Massey hammer back into production in the next few years, and I was discussing it with James Johnson the American Anyang dealer a couple of weeks ago when he visited my facility in the UK.

I am still mulling the details and specfications, but im thinking if I made one size (25 kg ram), which is an ideal size for the majority of small blacksmiths shops, source the machined castings & forgings overseas, and assemble / test in the UK (or through a very small approved distributor network) it would be viable. It will be more expensive than the current imported machines, but without doubt it would be the best new hammer available. (perfect fast/slow, light/heavy single blow control anyone???? :)

Love to hear peoples thoughts on this idea??
- John N - Tuesday, 02/02/10 15:51:48 EST

John N: if i had the money i would buy your new hammer idea in an instant. no chinese made stuff for me. i would love a 25lb LG but, no room (yet!) or money (yet!).
bigfoot - Tuesday, 02/02/10 15:59:22 EST

Bigfoot, by the time I get em into production you will probably have a couple of kids youself :)

Dont discount the chinese hammers in the meantime though,. they are bombproof. Im averaging a sale every couple of weeks, and the total number of spare parts ive sold???? none! Some of the hammers are doing serious work aswell, one smith 'paid' for his hammer in less than a month forging 5000 pickets!
- John N - Tuesday, 02/02/10 16:37:28 EST

that's what I'm talking about: John, you are reading my mind. I was thinking about a Massey when I wrote that post.
Does it have to be a self contained type system? I relize they are more versatile but, also more work to make.
I was realy thinking of a mechanical hammer that just had some professional engineering behind it and the backing of a reputable shop making the parts and assembeling them.
No offense to all the guys building their own, me included but, I made some incorrect assumptions on my design and now I'll have to do it again and, I've seen much worse that would all have benefit from some professional review.
A good idea and execution, simple enough to keep it afordable and maybe have to sell it along side of a more profitable unit to make up the margin.
- merl - Tuesday, 02/02/10 17:33:19 EST

Affordable?: Now there is a word which has a LOT of meanings.

Realistically, though, hammers dont care if you can afford them or not. They cost what they cost.
And a lot of it has to do with weight.
The plain and simple fact is that a good hammer needs mass, particularly in the anvil, to do the job.
If Little Giant was in business today, making new hammers from scratch, my guess would be they would be selling for between $10,000 and $20,000 for a 25lb hammer. But only if they could sell a few hundred a year. Less than that, and we would probably be talking double.
As I mentioned above- US poured castings are running over 4 bucks a pound. So the raw castingsl to make an 800lb 25lb Little Giant are something like $3200. Add in machining, parts, electrical, paint, overhead, advertising, and hopefully a small bit of profit, and I dont see how anyone could stay in business selling a small mechanical hammer, made in the USA, for less than ten grand.
As I also said, the guy I know who manufactures machine tools in the USA says, below 20 bucks a pound sales price, and he is losing money. And he is a very thrifty, very smart businessman.
Now its true, Big Blu is selling a fabricated utility hammer for around 4 bucks a pound.
But once you get into castings and machining castings, as you would need to do for a more solid industrial machine, the price goes way up.
I cant imagine anybody going any lower in price than the Big Blu style, cut and weld machines, which have an absolute minimum of machining, and use off the shelf parts, and which require an air compressor, not included in the price.

I dont know anybody who prefers a hammer like that to a cast iron self contained, like a Nazel or Chambersburg, or, ahem, an Anyang or a Shanxi (which is what striker was selling).
I sure dont.

So if you are talking about cheap, american made hammers, we already have em. But if you are talking about actual competition to the self contained cast iron chambersburg copies that the chinese sell- NOBODY, nohow noway, in the USA, could come close to their prices. The german Kuhn hammers, which are fabricated from plate, are double to triple the price of the chinese. Probably more, now- the dollar is really low against the euro.
Me, I have run a Kuhn, and I will take my Anyang any day against it. More bounce to the ounce, if you ask me.

I would be interested to know what the actual sales figures have been- I think its regional, to some degree, as I dont know anyone local with a Big Blu, although I am sure they are here- but I know of 2 or 3 dozen chinese self contained hammers within 150 or so miles of here.
On the west coast, anyway, they have been selling em.

I second John's comments- my Anyang has been extremely reliable, if a bit homely.
But I dont agree 25kg is the sweet spot- my machine is a 40kg machine, and frankly I think its probably at the small end. I should have bought one of the 75kg hammers- I know at least a dozen guys with that size, and most would agree it is the "just right" size. Big enough to do most anything, but small enough to move with standard size forklifts and wire in most shops, and small enough not to need a dedicated foundation.
- ries - Tuesday, 02/02/10 17:39:45 EST

Ries, I pay about £2.20 kg (delivered weight) for CI from a UK foundry at the moment ($us 1.6 lb, if my math is correct). If I source overseas I would hope for lower, much lower. suddenly an extra 200kgs in the anvil of a 25kg hammer doesnt cost so much.

25 kg may not be the sweet spot, but its where the volume is, and volume = lower costs. I sell lots of 40 kg hammers to folks that dont forge bigger than 1.5" dia. 25kg will do alot of work.

Now if with a bit of nifty design (super low starting load) I could get that 25kg to run on 3.5 hp, that makes 'domestic' single phase power supplies sufficent.

I can also max the anvil weight on a 25kg, and still have a hammer, packed, that weighs less than 1 ton. That = 'palletways' type distribution with a tail lift vehicle, = accessable = cheap. All points to consider.

Anyhoo, im just thinking out loud here, hoping for some feedback!...

The blueprints are on my desk (honestly!) drawn 100 years ago. Some more mulling for a bit, and Ill make a new one for me in the UK, just because I can. (Its the pattern costs for the castings that are the killer, but if I just do it in dribs and drabs over a year or so not really noticable. ) I can machine, build, test etc in house as a 'fill in' job.

The whole project will boil down to if folks are willing to pay more for classic solid design. I think of it as Steam Train -v- Diesel, both will get you there, but you may enjoy the journey more!

so, would 50 units a year on a planet with 6bn people, at +50% over the retail of 'imported' hammers be doable?? :) I kinda think so, ... maybee, possibly!
- John N - Tuesday, 02/02/10 18:48:38 EST

affordable: In my world I don't equate cost with weight.
Complexity costs money. The more complex a part or assembly is, the more time it's going to take to get it done. The more time it's going to take the more I have to charge.
If I have a block of steel on my machine that weighs 10T but, only needs a few 1-8 drilled and tapped holes in it, it's going to cost much less than if I need to turn it into half of a forming die.

$10-20,000 would be in the relm but, $8-15,000 would have them moving, IMHO.
Ries, I think you're coming at this from the med. to bigger shop and that wouldn't be my target market as I think the hammers like you have and bigger have that market fairly well sewn up.
If I had bigger work in a fulltime setting I would go for the biggest I could afford but, maybe to "boot strap" myself up there I need to start with something that will save my arm and help me be more effective in the shop during the hours I can get in there.

John N. you are talking reeeal sexy in my ear...
I think you could do it with less expence to build it if you made it as a weldment and made the air cylinders from the pre bored and honed heavy walled tubing supplied to companies that make hydraulic cylinders. I'm not terribly interested what the end resault looks like, if it was a weldment, as I would expect it to have some guards and cover panels like a modern machine tool.
When you get the power hammers swinging (no pun intended) you should start on a line of 100-250lb anvils to go with it...
- merl - Tuesday, 02/02/10 19:51:35 EST

Weight and Cost: In the book "Augstine's Laws," there's a bunch of charts proving that for any aircraft type, cost is proportional to weight. The discussion ends with this sentence (more or less): Unless, of course, you try to make it lighter.

Luckily, there's generally no reason to make a hammer lighter.
Mike BR - Tuesday, 02/02/10 20:02:42 EST

Question: How do the various old design self contained hammers differ? I know a few smiths who have Nazel hammers, and I don't think they would trade them for any other.
- DaveBoyer - Tuesday, 02/02/10 20:05:34 EST

I am with both Merl and John N on cost per pound.
In the drop forged steel valve and fitting biz, the weight of the forging had little to no relation to cost. The 50+% weight that we machined out of most evry forging was where the real cost lay. But in the world of castings, where you are mostly taking skim cuts and drilling/reaming holes, then the cost of the pattern and cores to reach the low machining costs does change that "Green" item cost.

I would love to have a 25KG machine. I am a part timer that sells some, but it so far has all been plowed back into my shop.

How many industrial duty I-R impact guns are sold in relation to the homeowner impact guns sold by Sear's et al? The market I think is correctly summed up by John N, a 25KG machine will suit that great many with the taste, and knowledge to know the value of an industrial design, in a hobby shop size. In fact John, if Massey made a 15 KG, that would sell probably 2 to 1 against the 25KG if the sale price was about 1/2 to 2/3 cost of the 25. Think guys, how many 25# LG's are out there. Why are they out there? Cause they were cheap, and do most of what a shop HAS to have when doing small general work.

I have a 32# mechanical, homebuilt. I CAN work 2" square, but very slowly. But much faster than I can with a hand hammer as I do not have a slave labor striker.

Would a 50# or 100# be better? Yes. Will I ever be able to afford the 500# I dream of? Only if I can drag it home for free.
But as I move to semi-retirement, and try to make a go of semi-retirement as a smith, a real, industrial hammer, of 25KG will probably be something I can not do without.
Much less expensive than having my shoulders re-built.
ptree - Tuesday, 02/02/10 20:39:04 EST

Nazel vs. Cburg and Beche': Note that early Beche'hammers WERE Nazels or exact copies. After WWII they were more like Chambersburgs with whom they had a partnership. The Soviet Block and Chinese hammers are versions of the post war Beche' design with minor modifications.

Nazels have some features that are different than the other hammers. One big difference is the snubber or cushion in the power cylinder. Pneumatically this is significantly different. There are also differences in the valving.

Nazels exhaust the used air outside the hammer. All the other designs recycle the air inside the machine frame. This results in warmer air and a hotter machine. The problem was so severe in some of the Turkish hammers that Tom Clark ran them with a cooling fan in the head to prevent dieseling. He took the fan out at ABANA 2000 when we noticed it and then blew the head off the hammer later while demonstrating it. . . Clearance problems with aluminium pistons also created heating and fire problems in these hammers.

The advantage to recyling the air is lack of oil mist and a necessary exhaust pipe and oil trap. But Nazel used a constant new air flow system believing that recycling the air in the hammer was a bad practice.

The other difference is the drive systems. Nazel used a single reduction (gear or pulley) on the flyweel. This required low speed motors. Chambersburg uses a planetary gear reducer so that standard RPM motors could be used. The problem with this drive system is that the primary side has a flywheel type part and the secondary has the the pulsing load. This hammers the gear teeth and catastrophic failures are not unusual. The Chinese use single reduction on the small hammers and gears on the larger hammers.

So there ARE differences and several effect operational characteristics.
- guru - Tuesday, 02/02/10 23:39:48 EST

Hammer size: As a very inexperienced newby I would like to contribute my little bit to the discussion. I bought a hammer last year. Of course being where I am the only choice was which size Anyang to take! I am delighted to say that I went for the 25Kg simply because it is the smallest of the big ones- ier casting, 3 phase motor etc. For the sort of amateur work that I do it is plenty and I suspect that it would be enough hammer for plenty of small professional shops as well. With the steel plate base made by Anyang it weighs in at effectively a ton so I can move it with my tiny forklift or the pallet jack. Once I move shop I shall probably pack the base with my favourite cocktail of scrap castings and concrete which will add considerably to the mass. I think what might be helpful is for as many hobby smiths and owners of small shops simply to see what a 25Kg hammer can do! I read with interest the posting about the guy who paid for his hammer in a few months.
- philip in china - Wednesday, 02/03/10 00:54:11 EST

power hammer and semi-retirement: Amen ptree! that's what I'm getting at here.
If I want to continue smithing I'm going to need a power hammer plain and simple. Even if my two sons were old enough to swing a hammer I wouldn't think of letting them ruin their bodies like I have from daily work and labor long befor I got into blacksmithing.
I completly agree with you ptree, if someone would make an "arm saver" size power hammer, they would realy sell.

Weight still means nothing to cost of machining.
If I do a part at work I can take up to 10T on the machine I run and, that happens to be the max our bridge cranes can take.
If I run a part at home in my shop the max is going to be 50lbs because that is the max I can safely lift into the lathe or on the mill or shaper with one arm (the other arm is tightening the chuck or vise ect...)
Again how much the part weighs has nothing to do with what I will charge you to do the work. That is going to be a by the hour charge or a flat fee depending on the work. If a part is heavy and bulky and requires alot of setting up it will cost more than one that I can throw in the vise by hand but, that is still a charge for TIME not WEIGHT.
I understand that when ordering castings the raw casting weight comes into the price but, nobody buys NEW material by the pound. It is all sold buy the foot or some linear measurment.
Weldments are not always the best solution either.
We generaly accept that machines made from castings have been properly stress relieved befor machining while many weldments are not. This would have to be addressed and, I would think mechanical stress relieving would be OK on a smaller hammer.
Design the hammer to utilize as much "stock size" dimentions as possible to reduce un-nessesary machining and use as many bolt together details in the design to reduce the cost of welding and subsiquent stress relieving.
When I designed my hammer I planed to make the whole thing bolt together with no welding so it could be shipped to and put together by the end purchaser as a kit. Again I refer to the small power hammer made by the Novelty Iron Works back in the early 1900's
- merl - Wednesday, 02/03/10 01:25:22 EST

Phillip, It is not unusual for one job to pay for a major piece of machinery, even the good stuff.
- guru - Wednesday, 02/03/10 01:26:05 EST

Jock, Werent the early Nazel hammers exact copies of the Beche, not the way you typed it :p

The small chinese hammers do 'breathe', through a port behind the flywheel.

Ive got a design for a 25lb Massey self contained on my desk aswell, it would certainly sell more units, but would it be better??,

I wouldnt dream of using a fabrcated head on the hammers, cast all the way. Once the patterns made the cost is much cheaper aswell. On a self contained the devil is in the detail, and those nice swoopy air passages in the casting are like that for a reason!

Ill scan some literature on the hammers and see if jock will post it up!
- John N - Wednesday, 02/03/10 02:19:18 EST

"my guess would be they would be selling for between $10,000 and $20,000 for a 25lb hammer."

In today's dollars what would a 25lb LG have cost a hundred years ago? Seems to me I have heard someplace that LG's could be bought on time as well.
JimG - Wednesday, 02/03/10 08:44:15 EST

John, those hammers have an air intake for makeup air due to seal losses but they dump the exhaust back into the hollow frame and recycle it back through the compressor. Since a closed system would rapidly overheat the frame of the hammer is used as a reservoir to cool the air.

The Nazels dump a portion of the used air outside the hammer through a large exhaust pipe and take in new air through a similar path as the others at the back of the hammer which creates a type of oil-bath filter for the air. There is a constant flow of cool fresh air into the hammer and hot air out the exhaust. Thus they run cooler (and sound different).

I'm not sure who's original invention the Nazel type hammer is. . .

The Massey valving is considerably different from the others as well. Can't remember how they exhaust. . .

Somewhere I have a complete Massey manual one of your customers sent me (40 pages or so). I'd be glad to post it with permission. I don't post such things that are still under copyright unless I have explicit permission.

I've also got manuals for several sizes of the Chinese hammers and a hard bound copy of 1930's Chambersburg sales literature. It is probably safe to post the Chambersburg lit.
- guru - Wednesday, 02/03/10 09:39:17 EST

Little Giant Prices:
During their hey-day LG's sold down in the hundreds of dollars (less than a Ford). And yes, they were sold on time payments which made them affordable to anyone that had a use for one.

The chart below has the prices I was quoted in 1976. At that time a 25 pound LG sold for the price of the cheapest car on the market at the time, a 50 sold for the price of an American Station Wagon or HD pickup truck and a 100 the price of a custom Cadillac. A 250 LG cost half of what a small house would cost and a 500, at $21,525 was the cost of a nice house on a large suburban lot or a city brownstone in a small town.

The prices included with and without motors and belt guards and only 3PH motors were available. At the time good used LG's were much more plentiful than today and sold for 1/10 to 1/5 the cost of new.

While the actual dollar prices look good in today's dollars. Compare the equivalent items. . . Would you pay the price of a NEW full sized pickup truck for a 50 pound Little Giant? Makes the price of a BigBLU look pretty good.

Little Giant Specs / Prices
- guru - Wednesday, 02/03/10 10:05:34 EST

In my opinion an power hammer 25lbs and up is good for most of us. i have never used one myself, but i have seen one in action. i think that 25kgs would be overkill for me, as i never would need that much power. the size descision is up to the user. IMO a hobbyist won't need more then a 25lb hammer beacuase what would he need bigger then a decent sized top tool?
ps. i do not like the chinese made things beacuase they take jobs away from working class americans. i have a longer rant on why i think they caused the current depression, but it is too long to type (and it is not just xenophobia).
bigfoot - Wednesday, 02/03/10 10:09:36 EST

Anyang 88 2 piece power hammer: I have a Anyang 88 2 piece hammer that has never been used came with a 3 phase motor and I never got around to putting it together with a 1 phase.
I would take $6500 for it... new I think it's about $10000.

Free shipping up to 500 miles of north east Ohio.


- Bill - Wednesday, 02/03/10 11:03:43 EST

I'll add a old 3 phase converter for $200 more.
Bill - Wednesday, 02/03/10 11:05:06 EST

takeing jobs away...: NO! it is our fellow Americans who own and controle the companies and decide to send our jobs over seas to make a short term sudo-improvment on the bottom line to boost stock prices and thus line thier own pockets at our expence. That is where the jobs are going.
If you were some dirt poor Chinese farmer who made nothing for a lifetime of body killing labor and someone came and offerd you a chance to make 12 cents an hour in a factory you wouldn't think twice about takeing the job.
There is nothing noble about sitting around watching your family starve and suffer because "you have your pride" and just won't be seen making shoddy goods for "fat, lazy Americans"
I don't like it anymore than anyone else but, I don't blame the Chinese people.
- merl - Wednesday, 02/03/10 11:32:13 EST

air piston hammers: I like the BigBLU hammers but I can't see running a 25HP compressor (even a screw type) to get work from it when I can use a fraction of that to run the hammer directly. A little one man shop doesn't need that much air to justify a compressor that size.
It seems that part of the problem here is that we all want a pocket size machine that can do everything that a larger machine will do and, for a Sprall*Mart price.
Obviously the long stroke and self adjustment to the work higth that you get with an air powerd hammer is nice, almost vital in some cases but, nothing comes free. More versitility comes with greater cost of manufacture. A less expensive capital input will likely cost more to operate. Much can be achieved with economies of scale but, that is just what the little guy doesn't have.
"Cheap, Fast, and Accurate, pick any TWO" this axiom can be applied to many situations.
- merl - Wednesday, 02/03/10 12:02:00 EST

merl i do not blame the chinese people, i blame their cheap labor. but this has nothing to do with blacksmithing (i think). i really blame the fact that the chinese have a VERY low minimum wage and we are willing to get such cheap goods that are made by the hands of what are bassically slaves.
bigfoot - Wednesday, 02/03/10 12:04:39 EST

Merl, Both size big blues work fine on 10HP. Chambersburg recommended 10HP for their 100 pound utility hammer as well. These will work on less but perhaps not in a production situation. When BigBLU brought their demo unit up it ran on a 7.5 HP 50A 220V single phase screw compressor. For production work they recommend 10 HP if you have 3PH. This is for the 155 pound hammers. You can do with less with the 100 pound hammer.

25HP will run a 250 to 300 pound air hammer quite well and a 500 in non-production use.
- guru - Wednesday, 02/03/10 13:41:34 EST

Its worth remembering that a new type 155lb 'utility' does not seem to do much more useful work than a 55lb anyang, an 88lb Anyang will out work it all day long (see the 'power hammer test' thread on IFI website for independent tests)

For comparison purposes a 55lb anyang is 4hp, 88lb 6hp. There is some major efficency loss on the hammer somewhere, im guessing straight out of the exhaust.

The 165lb anyang (10hp) is in a completly different league than a 155lb modern utility hammer. It can take 3" sq down to a point in one heat.

I am working with James Johnson later in the year to do a series of videos on youtube demonstrating the hammers, and forging techneques. Of course the light blow control is very good! :)
- John N - Wednesday, 02/03/10 14:29:36 EST

Bigfoot, when you start to forge a bit more seriously you will realise why you need the power, Even taking a modest 1.25"wide x 1/4 thick damascus billet down to 1/8" thick takes quite a bit of shunt.

Its often when the work gets thinner that the power is needed, especially if you dont want to use drawing dies as they cause pattern distortion. The extra shut height on a bigger hammer is very useful for loose tooling aswell.

All that said half or more of my sales are 33lb hammers! (but I suspect due to cost, space & power limitations)

Try every hammer you can before making a purchase decision!
- John N - Wednesday, 02/03/10 16:15:09 EST

In another era "Imported" meant expensive or rare and import duties were to be expected as part of the price. Wine, cashmere, olives, sports cars and caviar were in this category. WE (in the U.S) made everything else and exported a LOT.

Today, imports have low duties due to the government giving away "most favored" trade status. Almost EVERYTHING is now imported due to corporate policies (such as Walmart going from a seller of US goods only to a seller of mostly import goods).

When I was a kid in the late 50's a "Made in Japan" label was only seen on cheap relatively low quality goods. These were often nick-knacks, toys and various odds and ends. "cheap junk" was the common term to equate with "Made in Japan".

In the 1970's cheap Japanese cars started to flood the market. Quality was low with most early models rarely surviving their 12,000 mile 12 month guarantee and a 3 year old Japanese car sold for less than a 10 year old American car. In the late 70's Honda built a Civic with a 40+ MPG rating and NO special external emmissions control equipment (no air pump or or EGR). The writing was on the wall for Detroit who was making the same old gas guzzler engines and TRYING to upset their customers with poor quality add-on emmisions equipment. They did this hoping the public would revolt against mandated exhaust emission laws. Detroit lost, Japan won.

Then in the Orwellian year of 1984 we were shocked by something worse than the double speak and torture Orwell predicted. In the movie Back to the Future we hear "All the best stuff is made in Japan". And while shocked at hearing this from the clean cut American hero, we knew it was true. Japan now dominated in high end electronics, dependable efficient automobiles, machine tools and many other things where once the U.S was King.

We were told by Ronald Regan that there was gold in being a "service economy" (they ultimate service economy is prostitution - so bend over. . .). High Tech was going to be where we dominated. Programmers from India offered their services for $1/day.

Bush bombed Baghdad into oblivion and said "oil would pay for the war". It has not. And Texas Instruments moved its research to China, Those Indian programmers are now making several dollar an hour and much of the software I buy is priced in Euros. . .

We are rushing into a third world economy. We export valuable raw materials (coal, oil, scrap iron, logs, hides, cotton) and import cars, electronic goods, furniture, clothes, shoes. . . . ALONG with a constant flow of manufacturing jobs. . .

The key words are a "balance" of trade. We have long since let the balance tip out of our favor and its our own fault.
- guru - Wednesday, 02/03/10 16:42:52 EST

John N: i have specialzed and i doubt i will ever make much bigger stuff then a hammer. also i have made a pattern welded billet (with a more experianced smith over my shoulder). i found a 16lb sledge more then adequete (it was a small billet though. maybe 6x1x1/2 and i am patient, and will to take several heats to do this). but this is what i like to make (smal stuff) so i don't think i can every justify a big purchase like a power hammer (but maybe a 300lb anvil!).
ps. John i have a small business where i sell stuff i make to local folks and ocasional knives or flint and steel.
bigfoot - Wednesday, 02/03/10 17:47:30 EST

The reason I bring up cost per pound is that to build a hammer properly, you need weight. And weight costs.
Its just a handy way to estimate- For instance, the chinese make a 13x40" lathe that weighs 950lbs, and they sell for 2 to 3 grand.
They also make 16x40 lathes that weigh 5800lbs- and sell for $13,000.
Are you just getting more iron? Well, you do get an additional 2 1/2 tons of iron with the big one, but you also get a lot more value in terms of all of the components and how they are made.

With a power hammer, you can really tell the difference between an 800lb little giant (about what a 25lb machine weighs) and an equivalent falling weight cast iron self contained hammer.
Anvil weight and overall mass make a BIG difference.
So there is a direct relationship between weight of the hammer, and quality of the machine.

My anyang 40kg machine weighs 3500lbs, while the Big Blu 155lb machine weighs 1700lbs. I have never run a Big Blu, but I would expect the difference to be quite noticeable.
They have cut corners, in terms of weight, to make a price point- a business strategy that is perfectly defensible, but has real world consequences.

I prefer a cast iron hammer. So I put my money where my mouth is, and bought one. I have run fabricated, welded frame Kuhn hammers of Larger nominal power than my Anyang, and found them, frankly, inferior.

Machining costs a LOT of money, and when building a hammer, you want to keep the machining to a minimum- which is why Big Blu fabricates their hammers, and buys off the shelf cylinders and valves. Making their own parts in house would make the hammer a lot more expensive, I would guess, until volume hit the thousands per year.

So to think that someone in the USA could make a mechanical hammer, which would require either expensive castings or expensive machining, and come in cheaper than a kit of parts hammer like Big Blu, to me, is not very realistic.

The Little Giant prices, adjusted for inflation, would put a 25lb Little Giant at $11,250 or so today- and that would be from a company that has already perfected the design and manufacturing process, that owns all the patterns and machinery outright, as well as probably owning real estate debt free and having a nationwide reputation and established dealer network.
To try to invent a new hammer from scratch, work out the kinks, find suppliers, integrate the parts, and then market it, including advertising, trade shows, and salespeople- my guess is it would cost 50% more, at least.

Again, $15,000 to $20,000 for a new, made in america mechanical hammer does not seem unlikely to me.

I still say- if you want cheap, your only choice is either homebuilt, with all the reliability problems that has, or a fabricated utility hammer like Big Blu.
- ries - Wednesday, 02/03/10 17:51:11 EST

" Would you pay the price of a NEW full sized pickup truck for a 50 pound Little Giant?"

Actualy I wouldn't pay the price they want for a new truck now, but then it's nearly impossible to get just a truck anymore...

It does put the pricing into perspective though.
JimG - Wednesday, 02/03/10 20:04:06 EST

Bigfoot, your young. You may think you've specialized, but I'll bet the fates have other ideas.
Unasked for advice being what it's worth here is something I wish I could have told myself a few decades ago when I was your age. Take a percentage of every sale you make say 10 percent and stick in a sock, the bank, or some other safe place, and in a few years when John has those hammers ready for market buy one. That 25kg will be the perfect size for your shop by then. You can't afford to set ten percent aside? then raise your prices. You can do it.
JimG - Wednesday, 02/03/10 20:17:33 EST

does this picture look familiar?: found on a random blog
click the link
- Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 02/03/10 20:49:42 EST

JimG for now i am specializing in whatever i get paid for! but, i love to make hooks and other household implements (especcialy fireplace tools when i can, but my passion is hammers and top tools, i just don't have tools to make them, for now i have to settle for hatchets!) all of the money i make after tools i can't make, fuel and materials, i put 75% of my profits into my college fund the rest is spending money, so for every dollar i get from what i sell about 25 cents is saved. i am unbelivabley cheap so that is not a problem! i managed to save $200 since christmas (not including the money i have gotten for christmas). i do agree that i may need a power hammer sooner or later, but maybe after college! but for all i know i will end up making jewlery (i have done it and silver rings are pretty easy to make, but hard to size). i do appreciate the advice, as it is always a wise idea to save for the future. but i may even need an 88kg, but i would rather buy american, just beacause i want to support american businesses (but anyang is pretty good from what i hear).
bigfoot - Wednesday, 02/03/10 21:15:17 EST

John N: Not all modern utility hammers are created equal. A 100# Iron Kiss will outwork a 155# Big Blue hands down. Steve Gensh's 90# homebuilt will probably give a BB 155 a good run for it's money, or should I say for a whole lot less money.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 02/03/10 21:35:33 EST

America has been loosing industry for a long time as noted. When You are the highest paid work force, everybody can compete favorably with You. Much of what is made in China hasn't been made in the US for quite a while. It is popular to point out Walmart and all it imports from China [like it is a whole lot different at Target], but low price goods have been imported for many decades. Remember the K Mart era? How much US made product do You tink THEY sold? China has made an impact on US manufacturing, but they have put a squeze on all the other formerly low cost provider countries too.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 02/03/10 22:01:04 EST

My apologies! I was a bit ambiguous with my comments about the new generation of utility hammers.

John Larsons Ironkiss looks a very good piece of kit, and very competitivly priced. If I was going the utility rather than self contined I would have one in a flash! :)

The fact the 100# ironkiss has more stomp than the 155lb blu again points to the Blu being a very inefficent hammer (and i suspect lots of that is down to the valving!, Ironkiss anvil weight will help alot though!)
- John N - Thursday, 02/04/10 02:01:18 EST

You guys are comparing non-entities to a real manufacturer who has to make a reasonable profit and is in the business for the long run. John Larson builds a couple hammers a year and rarely are any two the same. Other home builts do not have to be price competitive and can use parts that are not necessarily available long term as well as scrap material. While they may have relatively low material costs, has the necessary labor really been tracked and can the results be reproduced efficiently?

You can walk into the Big BLU shop and purchase 2,3,4, even 10 hammers ready to run on ANY DAY of the year (sometimes a dozen). They turn over their entire inventory about once a month. You can not say this for ANY hammer manufacturer or reseller in the US (or elsewhere I'd bet) at this time.

Big BLU also has the best dies made for any power hammer today. They have a wide range of interchangeable precision dies with subtle shapes derived from a LOT of R&D. They are hardened and tempered S7 where the Chinese dies are simple carbon steel that is still machinable as delivered. . . AND like their hammers Big BLU normally have the whole range of dies IN STOCK.

Need to setup multiple forging stations with interchangeable tooling? You can do it TODAY with a Big BLU. Have a fire and lose your equipment? You can replace it as fast as a truck can get to you with a Big BLU. Need dies that will put you to doing profitable decorative work immediately? You can do it with a Big BLU.

Can ANYONE else in the industry say the same?

From what I can tell Centaur Forge no longer is stocking Kuhn hammers. But even when Bill Pieh was pushing them he only bought one container load a year (10 to 12 hammers). If Striker had been selling hammers at the rate Big BLU does they probably would not be bankrupt. Before Chambersburg went under they had NO inventory and had been making hammers to order for a decade. Tom Troszak's Phoenix hammers are wonderful machines but he has never had inventory and always been behind on orders. However, he DOES have complete blueprints of his hammers and keeps detailed CAD drawings of every part. Does Brian Russel inventory hammers?

So, you have a choice of waiting for months (maybe a year) for delivery, building your own, buying used OR buying a Big BLU. They have hammer inventory ready to ship TODAY.

Big BLU's are not perfect. No machine is. But they are not back yard built to order one at a time no inventory, no parts available machines.
- guru - Thursday, 02/04/10 12:18:50 EST

John Larson is now making the 50lb Octagon, for a measly $3800.
Now THATS a deal.
Basically, the only reason he can sell em that cheap is he is a one man shop, and has more energy than the Tasmanian Devil- I am ten years younger, and just reading what he does every day makes me tired.
You are getting a guy who is worth $50 an hour for $10 an hour, and if his sales volume doubled, and he had to hire a welder and a machinist, his prices would probably have to double as well.

So his hammers are an incredible deal- but not a good measure of what it actually costs to manufacture in the USA. They are a gift, from John to the World, and you should take advantage of them while you can, cause even though he is an economist, no economists would advise running a company like that.

As for the decline of the USA- its certainly happened, but its not quite as bad as the naysayers would like you to believe.
We are 5% of the worlds population and STILL the number one exporting country in the world.
Nope, we dont make tube sox or tupperware anymore- but we ship Billions a year worth of high tech, high value added products. Like Boeing Airplanes, CAT and John Deere equipment, Peterbilt trucks, chip fab factories, and, yes, autos- we export cars. We build all the BMW sports cars here. We build all the Mercedes SUV's here. We build all the Honda Elements here.

Last year, which was a crummy year, we exported $1.84 TRILLION worth of stuff.
Yep, some of that was raw materials, and some was software, movies, and music. But that is still a LOT of money.

We still make 80% of our domestic steel consumption here at home- close to 100 million tons of steel a year.
We still make ten million or so cars here a year, and every major foreign manufacturer has built factories here.
The russians, the brazilians, and the indians are all in the process of building steel mills here.

We may be down, but we are far from out.

Fly into LA sometime- you spend a half hour flying over industrial suburbs, the 20,000 square foot warehouses and small factories spread as far as you can see for 100 miles.
LA is, and has been for some time, the manufacturing capital of the USA, and a lot of it is done in 20 man shops with $2 million worth of CNC equipment, instead of 500 man factories in Lowell MA or New Jersey, with rows of bridgeports.
Less employees, smaller plants, but higher dollar amounts of more parts.
- ries - Thursday, 02/04/10 12:27:16 EST

"When You are the highest paid work force, everybody can compete favorably"

Unfortunately *other* countries with higher paid work forces--eg Japan and Germany were able to compete with us too before China as the nadir showed up.

Cost can be trounced by productivity.

Thomas P - Thursday, 02/04/10 13:45:09 EST

big foot - it is a bit offensive to blame a race of people "for their low minimum wage". Its called being poor, and not the kind of poor where the cable is still on. lets count our blessing here bro. i'm thankful they cant afford their own goods, pretty sure things would be different roun' here
- jamie - Thursday, 02/04/10 14:55:37 EST

Thomas- that is a very good point- in many sectors of industry, we lose market share NOT to the cheaply paid chinese, but to the Germans, Italians, and Japanese, who not only get paid MORE than we do, they have higher taxes, higher real estate prices, full single payer health care, higher employee taxes, stricter environmental controls, and in most every way, are MORE expensive places to do business than the USA.

The chinese routinely pay really big bucks for German and Japanese CNC machine tools. As do we- not because they are cheaper, but because they are BETTER.

Which is a lesson our companies could do well to learn from.
- ries - Thursday, 02/04/10 15:40:51 EST

I had forgotten about phoenix hammers. Just visited their website, and they have added 5 new sizes up to 3000 pound falling weight.
- Tyler Murch - Thursday, 02/04/10 17:30:19 EST

Hmmmmmm, I doubt they would seriously consider making a 3000lb hammer in that style. If they did I would be very interested to see it. I doubt they have ever made a hammer bigger than 500lbs

There is also some complete rubbish printed on their website under the section 'cast iron fever'. If they can show me one of their hammers that has done even a fraction of the 100 years service, double shifted in a serious production environments that I have seen Massey hammers do, (made from cast iron, anvil and all) I will apologise, untill then they have got some cheek suggesting my companies products are inferior to their hammers. They have previously ignored my requests to remove reference to my companies products from their website. (we made over 20,000 hammers, over 150 years, to suggest they are not industrial quality is bordering on funny.)

Cast iron is also a superior material in machine building for many applications as it is more 'dead' than steel. you dont want a hammer frame that rings and transmits vibration.

Oh, and 'semi steel' they refer to in such a derogatory fashion is usually a S.G. iron. rant over!
- John N - Thursday, 02/04/10 18:16:43 EST

Tyler, that is somewhat like the mythical 500 pound Little Giant.

Speaking of LG's. While much of their design was cheap they DID have 15 to 1 anvils and that DID NOT include the frame and mechanism. That is the mass of the conical section, including hollow removed and seperate from the frame. Almost no other small one piece hammer meets this standard.
- guru - Thursday, 02/04/10 18:19:37 EST

phoenix 600 pound double C frame would be suhweet !
- Tyler Murch - Thursday, 02/04/10 18:35:42 EST

jamie i do not blame the race. i blame the goverment and a too low tariff on our part. if i offend you sorry, but i am not goin to change my opinon as it is a lot less racist then it seems (think cheap labor+ok tools+no tarrifs on chinese imports= lots of chinese made stuff on the US market).
bigfoot - Thursday, 02/04/10 18:41:24 EST

I would echo John N, that the true mark of a top knotch industrial machine is if the company stays in business for a hundred years and does it selling the same general product.
The Erie hammers that VOGT had ran from made in 1923 to 1945 or so. All in double and triple shift service. And in closed die industrial production that is more hammering than ANY utility hammer is ever likely to see. And these hammers were all CAST. Semi steel and cast steel to my knowledge. Many had been repair welded but all were servicable when pulled from service in 1994 save the 25,000# hammer which had a cracked anvil. The cracked anvil is actually fairly common in big drop hammers and there is actually a small skilled repair industry that will come out and do the repair welds with big mig type welders, laying in 20,000#+ or repair weld in more or less one continous weld. Once you get a couple hundred thousand # of metal preheated, you don't want to repeat the preheat.

Odd, that in all the industrial shops I have ever been in I have never seen the first fabricated drop hammer, upsetter or forge press. All had cast frames, for the reasons John N mentions.

I still must admit to lusting for an Iron Kiss. But then I don't run a 3 shift industrial production shop.
If Erie made the iron Kiss today, I suspect that it would be a $75K, cast frame machine.
ptree - Thursday, 02/04/10 18:45:15 EST

Buy American!.........if you can afford it. Not too many blacksmiths were lining up at at Chambersburg to buy 200 pound self-contained hammers for $120,000.00, what they were quoting in their final years. I sell a 15KW induction machine for $2,995.00 that I source from China. A similar unit from Lepel (U.S.) was $45,000.00!
- grant - Thursday, 02/04/10 21:42:48 EST

I've seen 500lb Little Giants, but it's claimed they made a few 1000 pound machines.
- grant - Thursday, 02/04/10 21:44:01 EST

So who would benefit if they put a tariff on these induction machines so Lepel could compete?
- grant - Thursday, 02/04/10 21:46:52 EST

Big Blu dies and other things: I got the big blu CD to see their techniques and was very impressed. I was also impressed at their range of dies. I suppose them producing dies to fit an Anyang would be like a turkey voting for Thanksgiving! I wonder if anybody else would ever do it though.

BTW on the sand fill for my steel box base for the Anyang I know concrete would be heavier and thereby would be better. Would there also be an advantage in the fact that the concrete would be one solid block? I am still heavying up concrete bases by putting in pieces of cast iron. In fact I really ought to go out to the shop and break a few more Chinese vices to provide more castings. You mentioned putting scrap pieces into concrete. Where they are small I would back off on the rock and count bolt ends etc as part of the aggregate but I ignore the larger castings as they don't really form oart of the homogenous pour.
philip in china - Thursday, 02/04/10 21:50:29 EST

I fail to see the need for harder dies than the ones that came with my Anyang. I run a lot of stainless, which is harder on dies than mild steel, and use a lot of Grants tooling as well.
And my dies, made from whatever the heck Anyang made em from, work just fine.
About once a year, I take em off and slap em in the milling machine, and take off ten or twenty thousandths of an inch. And then work the hell out of again.
If they were too hard, I would have to grind em- and I dont have a surface grinder.
Simpler, user fixable, beats ultimate strength in my book.

I too have seen at least two 500lb little giants- they didnt seem to shimmer in space or shift into the sixth dimension while I was watching, so I am guessing they were real.
Never seen a 1000lb Little Giant, though.

I have seen steel crack, fatigue, and wear, though, so I dont think its inherently superiour to cast iron just cause its steel.
Very very few machine tool manufacturers use weldments rather than castings, and the ones that do are considered inferior.
And scotchman ironworkers, built the same way as Big Blu or Phoenix hammers, are definitely inferior to Mubea or Peddinghaus cast frame machines.

I have met the Big Blu guys, they are nice guys, they definitely do an excellent job building their machines, with integrity, quality assurance, and honesty. I have no problems with what they build, or the way the build and sell it- my questions are with the design decisions they made- to build a light, light duty, cheap machine to market to the most customers- which is what a 25lb little giant was 80 years ago.

I will have to run one in Memphis, if I can afford to go this year- but I must admit, I am inherently suspicious of a 155lb hammer that weighs half of what my 88lb hammer weighs. Not suspicious that there is anything wrong with it- just that it wont do the work that a heavier, more massive machine will.
I know, when I was running the 50kg Kuhn at Carbondale last fall, I reached its maximum capacity far too soon- and I was only forging 1 1/2" mild steel. It just ran outta gas, where my Anyang would have been still sitting up and begging for more.
- ries - Thursday, 02/04/10 22:26:02 EST

one of the reasons machine tools use cast iron is that it doesn't carry vibration as much as steel.
- Tyler Murch - Thursday, 02/04/10 22:40:40 EST

Anyang dies are not mild steel. They are some grade of die steel, I will dig the specification out.

The 'Hofi' free form forging dies are available for the full range of one piece Anyang forging hammers. They are distributed soley trough 'Angele' in Germany who Mr Hofi works closely with.
- John N - Friday, 02/05/10 01:47:59 EST

John- can I get em for my two piece 88lb anyang?
You say one piece- but my mongrel, which is a 2 piece, 3500lb Anyang/Striker that I bought from James Cosgrove, way back when he was sourcing Strikers from Anyang rather than Shanxi, is not a one piece.
But I would think that it, being a classic C-41 in every other way, should have the exact same die size and dovetail angles as the one piece hammers, so the hofi dies should fit?

I didnt think they were mild steel- they sure dont wear like it- but they dont machine like a hardened steel either- I have no problem with a TIN coated HSS end mill surfacing them.
- ries - Friday, 02/05/10 01:55:23 EST

Hard Dies: The Big BLU guys use their straight fullering dies to texture hundreds of feet of bar stock COLD. Not needing to heat all that steel is a huge savings. You can't do that with soft dies.

Their crown dies are used to make very delicate edges on various elements such as leaves. The mid point often hits die to die which would trash the contours of the dies. The dies must be hard AND very strong (thus the S7).

Flat dies can be relatively soft especially since they are so easy to dress. But if too soft they will rapidly get dinged by tooling.

Besides making hammers the Big BLU shop turns out tons of architectural iron, much of it forged all over. They run the heck out of their machines. See their portfolio at

I agree on the cast frames but as noted by others the cost of doing it in the U.S. has skyrocketed. 30 years ago we made very good money selling CUSTOM machinery at $5/lb. that were almost exclusively ductile iron castings. Some of this low cost was due to the huge size of the castings. Yep, in 1985 we could have made a Little Giant (or better yet a Fairbanks) clone for $5/lb. But that would have put a 100 pound hammer at $15,000 in 1985. . . Still too pricey for the market then OR now.
- guru - Friday, 02/05/10 02:27:34 EST

Ries, I would make a drawing of your dovetails and their alignment across a centerline and contact Angele directly to see if they will fit.

I would never recommend cold forming / 'texturing' or whatever you choose to call it on a power hammer, period. There are very specific guarding requirements for machinery working cold metal that do not apply to hot forming equipment (of course this varies from region to region).

I would be suprised if any hammer manufacturer suggested that this was a safe proceedure on an open die hammer in a country with stringent Health and Safety in the workplace legislation.
- John N - Friday, 02/05/10 05:20:29 EST

Oddly Enough. . .:
Many, many years ago, the makers of the most durable mechanical power hammers every made, C.C. Bradley, recommended to the horror of the blacksmithing world at the time, the recommendation to cold work many types of items either when it was possible OR when it produced a better final finish.

Much of the Bradley operation manual is reproduced in many forging manuals. I've got a copy. If I can find it I will try to scan it and put it on line. I say "try" as it is a several generation old copy in poor condition. I THINK it is out of copyright. . not sure.

Cold Texturing
- guru - Friday, 02/05/10 06:43:10 EST

Hammers: Bigfoot- When I started forging in college I was focused entirely on knifemaking and damascus production. My wife and I agreed that when I started my first job, we would use the money from my signing bonus to by a hammer and so I ended up with a 50lb Moloch. Our reasoning was that even though I could make damascus by hand, long term this approach would likly result in severe health problems. I know one individual who did a great deal of had forging on a full time basis for over a decade and he has a lot of joint problems now that he is older.

I did consider a hammer in the 25lb range but was advised that for the work I intended to do, a 50lb machine would be better, more versatile, cost about the same and take up just a little more floor space. That was good advice. Now (12 years later) I rarely if ever make knives, I've sold that hammer and regurlarly run a hammer nearly 500lbs. A lot of people think that a small power hammer is all they'll ever need, but once you get one and learn how to use it, you'll find that you attempt work you would never have dreamed of by hand and that is when you realize that a bigger hammer would have been a wise investment. With my hammer I have forged work at large as 4" square and and small as 3/8 x 3/16. I make a lot of tools-tongs, anvil tooling, power hammer tooling etc and the power available allows me to produce these items in an extremely efficient way. I never dreamed I'd own a hammer of this capacity, but an opportunty came up to aquire the hammer for scrap prices. It took several years to get running, but now I'd be loathe to give it up for anything smaller because I can forge anything I want. I'm not limited just to drawing out bars, but can now treat steel as a sculptural material and make it move like clay. So, before you settle on a particular size of hammer, try and spend some time running a wide varity of makes and sizes. Talk to as many people as you can. Try not to limit your future opportunities any more than you absolutely have to given the contraints of finances, location and the other issue of life. Big hammers are wonderful, and are very efficient but they do require special foundations and usually special locations. The medium size hammers (100-200 lbs) are often a very good comprimise between the two extremes. If you are planning to do a lot of damascus work, a small hammer and a hydraulic press are a good combination.


- Patrick Nowak - Friday, 02/05/10 09:25:54 EST

Getting our Shovels Ready!: They're predicting 18" - 30" (?!?) of snow for our locality, with gale-force gusts. Time to batten down the hatches if you're in the Mid-Atlantic area!

To our Western and Pacific friends: Thanks for sharing! :-D
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 02/05/10 09:42:09 EST

Hossfeld ?: I recently bought a hossy with a pretty full kit of dies. Fun machine! Right now we need to do a 16" diameter circle on 1" square bar (two half's would be fine). Looking for tips on how to approach this. Should we do it hot? Usually don't mind to learn as I go but we're under the gun on this job.

- jamie - Friday, 02/05/10 11:10:06 EST

patrick, thanks for the advice, i think a 50 or 75lb hammer would be a 'big' hammer to me, but i know what you mean about opening up oprotunities. when i got my 'big' anvil (a 50lb lump of tool steel, all of the mass is under the hammer so it works well above its weight) it opened up a ton of new options (hammers and anvil tools). if i buy a 200lb hammer i would probably try to make a good sized anvil (like 250 lbs), knowing me. but, i am still and will probably always be a hobby smith so i can't imagine needing a 100lb power hammer!
bigfoot - Friday, 02/05/10 11:18:25 EST

jamie: You'll need a circle segment of the right radius, 8" if you bend hot, maybe 7-1/2 for cold. The 1" hole should be a couple inches from the edge and you "feed" it through bending a small portion at a time. Sorta like this:
- grant - Friday, 02/05/10 13:55:40 EST

Hammer Size:
Bigger is generally better up to the limit of available power source to run a hammer. On most domestic and rural power lines that is 10 HP.

Folks often think they cannot do delicate work with a big hammer but as Patrick noted you can do quite small work with a large hammer if it has good control AND you have practiced using the machine. Even some of the most ill behaved hammers are quite controllable to their owners that have learned their idiosyncrasies.

However, for very accurate fine work in small stock a smaller hammer CAN be better. A friend is currently forging very accurate tenons in stock up to 3/4" on a very tight and controllable 35 pound hammer. Many of these are round tenons forged at an angle to the axis of the bar. It is done on open flat dies and most of the tenons need no finishing of the shoulder with a monkey tool. These require a high degree of skill but also a hammer with perfect control. Many years ago Bradley made similar size hammers for the cutlery industry where very fine details in very thin material were forged by hand open die. Another acquaintance makes door hardware for a major distributor by hand and using a 30 pound Champion hammer.

For a combination of control and productivity look what can be done sculpturally with the right dies. Our ABANA 2004 News article shows the hundreds of pounds of sample pieces made by Uri Hofi, mostly in ONE heat in three days. But the amazing thing is that all these complicated forgings could be done by students with NO experience on Big BLUs at the Power Hammer School after just bare minutes of instruction for each shape and no time to become acquainted with the machine. This is a VERY short learning curve for power hammer work. The interesting thing was that those with previous power hammer experience (particularly on flat dies) had a more difficult time learning to take advantage of the system.

On bigger hammers (300 to 500 lbs) you can do some REALLY neat tricks. Need a "cookie" say a 8" round 1/2" thick? You can start with piece of (cheap) round bar stock about 2" by 8" long and upset it to a short round and keep going to the flat cookie (disk). No plate, torch or waste. Need a blank for a small flange or face plate? DO the same over a bolster with a 2" hole. Need a 3" cube. . . similar routine.

Need custom HD top rail. . . a heavy hammer is the trick.

- guru - Friday, 02/05/10 14:01:35 EST

bigfoot, your perception is the same as many who have not used a power hammer. A 200 pound hammer "might" be able to make a 25 pound anvil, but even that would be a struggle. With top tooling, it's nice to be able to "plant" the tool with the first blow, otherwise it tends to dance all over your part. Hard to do that with less than a 100 pound mechanical of 50 pound air hammer.
- grant - Friday, 02/05/10 14:05:19 EST

All that being said, there is a place for small hammers and they are useful. I really like using texturing dies with a 50 pound hammer. Nothing drives too deep, you just stand on the treadle and move the work over the die. Also, you can't do too much damage with one blow, so it's harder to ruin a piece. One missblow with a big hammer can totally destroy a piece.
- grant - Friday, 02/05/10 14:12:22 EST

Hossfeld: Jamie, I use a hossfeld a lot. And when I need specific radius circles, I use the angle iron flange out bending dies.
I dont know if they were included in your full kit of dies, but the setup is like the one shown on this page, in Figure 10
For a 16" circle, you need the matching 8" inside and outside dies. It will usually give you a pretty darn accurate, consistent circle, in 1" square, which I do often.
You bend a bit more than you need- say 6" or 8" more than the diameter- I would cut a piece 54" to 60" long, pull the circle using the 4 foot extension handle, in small bites- you pull, feed, pull, and overlap at the end. Then take the whole thing to the vertical bandsaw, and slice off both tail ends at once.
Sometime you need to flatten the circle a bit- I use a big 24" crescent wrench and a floor mounted vise to tweak it till its flat, then weld the ends together.
1" square hot rolled should be no problem bending cold.
I use an adjustable height outboard stand to hold the metal the same height as I bend it- sometimes two of them, one infeed and one outfeed, as it really helps to hold everything level while you bend it.
- ries - Friday, 02/05/10 14:13:35 EST

Now if Patrick could only find a proper sized anvil!

(Hi Patrick how is the family? Got one of my current students coming over this weekend to use my flypress to strike about 400 tokens...)

Thomas P - Friday, 02/05/10 14:39:38 EST

grant you are probably right. i know next to nothing about power hammers, so ill take your word for it. to me a big hammer is a 25 lb sledge, so it is all subjective!
bigfoot - Friday, 02/05/10 14:40:00 EST

Bigger Anvil: Thomas,

Just this week I sent plans to a friend of mine who has a torch table. He will be cutting two plates I have from which I will be making a double horned anvil of the Kirkstall/Mousehole style. Finished weight should be on the order of 850-900 lbs. I am starting with two pieces 4 3/8 x 16 x49. They were milled all over, then scrapped for ultrasonic problems. I'll have the anvil shape cut from each plate and will then weld the edges together to get a final thickness of 8 3/4". There was an anvil of similar size at Quad State this year, but that one weighed 710#. The face on that one was 6 3/4. I intend to put a hardy hole at each end of the face, just like your big Fisher has. With enough welding and grinding, I am hoping to end up with an anvil that looks like a traditionally forged one. Hopefully the fact that it is fabricated won't show. I am interested in seeing how cheaply I can complete this project. So far I have $200 invested in the plate. I'm sure I'll have a good bit more into it before I'm done, but I'm pretty sure it will be a whole lot less than the $3700 price tag that was on the anvil at Quad State.

Melody and Josiah were diagnosed with bronchitis yesterday and the day before that Annabelle had her second round of ear tubes put in. The difference in her hearing was almost instantenous. I'm sure Melody and Josiah will start to recover shortly now that they have appropriate antibiotics.

Patrick Nowak - Friday, 02/05/10 15:35:26 EST

Chris Thomson's large forging: I wanted to brag a little about my "neighbor," Christopher Thomson, who operates about 45 miles east of Santa Fe. I must also mention my friend, designer/sculptor, Don Redman who built the maquette for the job. Chris is the kind of guy who seems to be able to handle iron under the big hammer the way a skilled angler plays a fish on the line. I have seen Chris work, but unfortunately, not on this particular job. The material was Corten and the sculpture will be installed in St. Louis. Don Redman flew to St. Louis and talked to a few outfits hoping that they would take on the job. He seemed to get stonewalled over there. I suggested Chris, Don visited him, and they worked out a deal. The finished piece was of sections having compound curves. There was was some arc welding and sanding for final assembly. The sculpture was sand blasted and loaded on an 18 wheeler for the St. Louis trip. The following paragraph is verbatim, a letter from Chris to me, sent today.

...the pieces were 2"x12"x8' weighing 640 lbs each. We heated them to just below dripping heat in our big propane forge with its 3'x3'x2' firebox and swung them to one of our two 500lb chambersburgs with a jib crane. We bolted handles onto the pieces and hung them from a continuous loop of chain at their balance point. With this set up, one man could flip them over fairly easily but it took four of us to keep them positioned under the hammer during the continuous reciprocating blows. We chained a ramp die to the bottom die of the electro-pneumatic hammer to pinch one edge and achieve the correct edge bend. The blows put considerable stress on the crane and hoists during forging as the shape and alignment of the pieces changed, so to protect from catastrophic failure we put a giant spring into the system. This worked well but we became human shock absorbers dampening the bounce from each blow in time for the next and went home battered and bruised at the end of each day feeling more like football players than blacksmiths. For bending the easy way and twisting we used the 500 lb utility (steam) hammer set for single blows with rails proud and wide of the bottom die supported on the sow block. By constantly referring to templates carefully scaled up from Don Redman's 1/12th scale forged maquette we were able to produce a 13' tall 3400 lb. sculpture faithful to his original vision.

Frank Turley - Friday, 02/05/10 18:21:36 EST

Thanks Reis/Grant. My bender did come with the wrist action deal, so i'll go with that Thats a crafty little setup.

Somebody needs to write the "Insiders guide to the Hossfeld."

- jamie - Friday, 02/05/10 18:24:49 EST

correction: For my above post, Chris' website is
Frank Turley - Friday, 02/05/10 18:27:52 EST

jamie: "wrist action deal"?
- grant - Friday, 02/05/10 21:03:40 EST

Yeah, what is a "wrist action deal"?
I have been using a hossfeld since 1978- dont think I have discovered that die set yet.

One of these days, if I get simultaneously free time AND rent money, I may try to write a hossfeld book. But those two things at the same time are rare...
- ries - Friday, 02/05/10 23:43:45 EST

I was talking about the "wrist action" type of movement on the leg out angle iron die set. You're not simply pulling around the form, you are kind of levering into it. Hard to believe it bent the 1" square into a 7" radius, but it did it cold. Any harm in bending hot against those dies? I wouldn't think it could hurt anything. Sure would save some grunting.
For that matter, which of the hossfeld parts would you fellas be leery of using with hot work?
- jamie - Saturday, 02/06/10 00:27:04 EST

I have used all kinds of hossfeld dies for hot work, and never had a problem with any of em.
In fact, cold bending is much harder on the machine than hot.
I have, for example, worn a groove into the V shaped pin of the 60B Bulldozer die, bending a couple thousand pieces of 5/16" square to 90 degrees.
The dies though, usually last pretty much forever.
Eventually, you will ovalize the main pin holes. At which point, you can do what grant did- put bushings in em. Or just replace the frames.
- ries - Saturday, 02/06/10 01:14:34 EST

Hot vs. Cold:
Lots of things are easier to do hot than cold but there are other factors other than direct ease of working. You can be all over cold work but must be very careful handling hot work and must often have a helper. Getting the work hot has a cost that may not be a problem on a one off piece of work but would add up if it was a production job. Keeping work hot often requires a rosebud torch which is a dangerous and noisy tool that also often requires a helper.

Cold work also requires less clean up.

Hot work on the other hand is easier to produce controlled graceful curves and the work is often marked less.

Dave Manzer surprised a few people by sticking a piece of hot steel in his Beverly shear. . . But it cut so fast that there was little heat transfer and Beverly's come with blades designed for stainless, which makes them high alloy and probably fairly heat resistant. It works, but you would not want to do it in production or on too thick of work.
- guru - Saturday, 02/06/10 11:35:21 EST

Long, long ago, these theater guys taught me their rule-

Never Lift Anything You Can Drag.
Never Drag Anything You Can Roll.
Never Roll Anything You Can Leave Where It Is.

Seemed to make a lot of sense to me, and the older I get, the more sense it makes.

With metal, my corrolary is-
Never bend anything Hot you can bend Cold.
Assuming, of course, you can get the desired result and appearance Cold.
Which, I find, with a hossfeld, i often can. With the right dies, I get LESS marking cold than I would hot.
I also often use the hossfeld Hot- the combination of mechanical advantage, precise leverage where needed, and hundreds of die set ups means I can do more quicker to a hot piece in one heat.
Things like bending flat bar the hard way, for example, are a snap with the hossfeld, hot, in one heat. In fact, I usually still have enough heat left after the bending to fine tune and flatten.
- ries - Sunday, 02/07/10 21:16:39 EST

More Cold Working: Cold processes include shearing and sawing. Shearing is fast and cheap making an ironworker a MUST have tool in most busy shops. Shears have a downside in that they roll edges, have burrs and out of square cut surfaces. However, if this does not matter as in many weldments or cutting stock for forging then it is the BEST way. Sawing is much more precise but is slow and relatively expensive due to time and blade replacements.

Eventually a busy shop needs both to stay as efficient as possible.
- guru - Sunday, 02/07/10 23:06:31 EST

wanted:press (flywheel or hydraulic): Hello.
I am looking for a flywheel and/ or hydraulic press.
- duerst - Sunday, 02/07/10 23:56:09 EST

press: Cycle ebay.....
- packrat - Monday, 02/08/10 08:34:58 EST

wanted: press (flywheel or hydraulic): needed for slitting and piercing 2 inch square bar (hot obviously), and "standard" forging techniques like mortise and tenon/ forging a shoulder/ punching/ texturing, etc.
duerst - Monday, 02/08/10 11:19:52 EST

I have a #4 manual flypress for sale, it may be a little small for punching 2" although it could be used for it. I have pictures posted here.
- JNewman - Monday, 02/08/10 16:18:54 EST

#4 press: Kinda stiff on the crate fee. Why not just strap it to a palate and save someone a few splinters in the wallet pocket.
- Sandmound - Monday, 02/08/10 17:19:14 EST

hey john.
yes, i am looking mor efor a #5 or #6.
what kind of hydraulic press do you have? did you built it yourself?
thank you for the response.
duerst - Monday, 02/08/10 20:35:03 EST

PICKERS: Just watched the PICKERS on History channel and they passed up blacksmith items for a rusted out bicycle that they lost their shirt on. Oh well.
- Tom H - Monday, 02/08/10 21:56:49 EST

I saw that too Tom. I guess Blacksmithing tools aint everyone's passion. Imagine a world like that...grin. :)
- Sandmound - Monday, 02/08/10 22:28:30 EST

Press : The hydraulic press I have is surplus from a automotive parts plant. I had to do the plumbing and add the valve which I made a foot control for.
- JNewman - Tuesday, 02/09/10 09:32:04 EST

Hossfeld : We ended up bending the 1" bars hot. It was way more pleasent even if it took two guys. One bonus was that one man used the bender as a vise as the other tweaked the parts. The parts came out really tight. The next piece is a 2" x 1/2" ring (20" radius) the hard way and I'm actually looking foreward to the process. Great machine.
- Jamie - Tuesday, 02/09/10 11:47:26 EST

Jamie, That is good to know. Glad it went well.
- guru - Tuesday, 02/09/10 12:05:04 EST

When bending flat bar the hard way on the hossfeld, I have found a few things that help- first, I have ended up making a series of the spacers, in different thicknesses and sizes. They are just mild steel, with one hole punched in them- but usually the edge bending die only comes with a few. I have 1/8", 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2" thicknesses, but also have found I need to make some that are tighter in size between the hole and the edge the flat bar you are bending pushes up against, depending on the radius of the bend.

Then, when bending, I bend a section, and quickly flatten it on the anvil while its still hot. I move my anvil right next to the hossfeld, and slap it right on there. Even with the edgebending die clamping down as it does, you get some distortion and curving of the piece if bent hot- and for 1/2", you are gonna wanna bend hot. Quick hammer work gets it nice and flat.
- ries - Tuesday, 02/09/10 12:28:26 EST

One reason I do some things hot that I could do cold is the lack of spring-back. If I'm doing a one-off, I don't want to screw around with test pieces to determine spring-back. So I bend hot to a "just-right" form. Usually easier to overbend slightly and open it than the opposite.
- grant Sarver - Tuesday, 02/09/10 14:52:06 EST

Spring back can be a serious problem in production dies. I spent several weeks building production bending dies to using some standard 3/16 x 2 hot roll. Then when I bought my materials for the job all I could get was sheared and edge rolled from sheet. . . Different alloy, much harder temper and a LOT more spring back.
- guru - Tuesday, 02/09/10 15:30:04 EST

Psyched to be in the cult of the hossfeld. I see what you mean about the spacers. Seems that's the big trick (one anyway), juggling the clearances between the dies. Every new setup gives me 10 new ideas. The hard way bending and angle iron bending are appealing because you just don't see those moves too much because, well, they are hard to pull off. Which makes them visually valuable. Cheers to Mr. Hossfeld.
- jamie - Tuesday, 02/09/10 16:34:38 EST

The great thing about the hossfeld is its adjustability- I can do small run production, a few hundred pieces, with standard dies, and do so all the time. With adjustable stops for degree of bend and for stickout, you can finetune it pretty quickly- I seldom have to do more than three test parts to get a run exactly right- and always can tweak those a bit to be acceptable- so its not like they are scrap.
Not uncommon for me at all to run hundreds of parts, each with 3 or 4 bends, sometimes in different planes.

As I mentioned before, I have adjustable height stands, some with a T-bar top, and one with a 18"x24" plywood top, that can be used to support work as its bent.
I also often cobble together bigger or more complicated stops with vise grips and angle iron, to support oddball multiple bend parts.

One thing I did about ten years ago- I rebuilt the fixed frame of my hossfeld with extra length bars- one extra hole. I got em from American Bender, and they are very handy for edge bending and angle apps, because you get a bit of extra room for die clearance for wider bars.

I also made a whole set of small spacers to slide in the diagonal slot behind the back angle iron die, in different thicknesses, again, up to 1/2" or so, to accomodate metal sizes that are between hole increments.
- ries - Tuesday, 02/09/10 18:01:02 EST

There is nothing like a handy set of spacers for every application (or machine) that needs them. I have a set for my drill press furniture that are 2x2 with a hole drilled in the middle top put a clamp bolt through. Sometimes they are just stacked, sometimes they are used with bolts or as stops. This set has some springs as well to make self opening clamps.

In the welding shop I HAD a double set of spacers 2 x 4" and in thicknesses from 1/16" to 1" in common stock increments. The thicker pieces were all cold drawn steel. This collection had taken years to amass by opportunistic gathering when stock was available. Then the shop rednecks found my stash and thought it was easier to use than to cut new pieces. My spacer set disappeared during a year when I was rarely in the shop because I was doing design work. When I asked what happened to my spacer set "nobody" did it. . .

On large carpentry jobs I would often collect convenient pieces of scrap wood and square them up about a foot long. After a bit of time I'd have pieces from 1/8" or 1/4" to 1-1/2". These are handy for clamping, leveling, adjusting. . .

There are all kinds of spacers. Making sets takes time and a bit of opportunism. Start with stock on hand then remember to add to the set any time you have stock of a new thickness on hand. Some sets are made by sawing and machining or grinding to size. These can be completed at once but can be costly in labor. Either method works. Box 'em up so the shop gorillas don't use them weld stops.

- guru - Tuesday, 02/09/10 20:59:24 EST

Spacers & BGOP Spring Fling: One of my “odd-moments” projects at the new forge has been making vise spacers in 1/8” increments. Various bits and pieces of bar stock from ¼” to 1”, drilled slightly undersized and with small threaded scrap bolt stock screwed through at a right angle to hang them in the gap of the vise. Somehow, I could not find any 3/8” square in the scrap pile, so I’ll see how 3/8” round rod works for now.

BGOP 15th Spring Fling 4/16-18; Berryville, Virginia, Ruritan Fairgrounds (45 miles west of Tysons Corner). Featured demonstrators will be Tom Latane', Pepin, WI; plus Ken Schwartz, blacksmith, and Richard Sullivan, gunsmith, from Colonial Williamsburg. (The regular site comes back: “Access Forbidden” {!?!})

I'm actually planning on attending again this year (if work doesn't get in the way). So; who else is planning on making an appearance?

Housebound in blizzard conditions on the banks of the lower Potomac. I called my friend from North Dakota over the weekend, and asked her why she wasn’t here to be snowed-in with us again. Last year, after she was trapped by the weather with the power out, and we were loading firewood; she asked:

“You know what we call a day like this in North Dakota?”

“No…” I responded.

She replied: “We call it Monday; Tuesday; Wednesday; Thursday…”

Visit your National Parks (even if we had to close the Washington Monumant):

Go viking:

Spring Fling (Working site)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/10/10 10:37:09 EST

For my post vise I tool sq stock and slit the tops and forged them out into tabs to hold them in place in the jaws. Stamped the size on the tabs of each of them too---no more twisted vise jaws when working long stock that won't fit dead center in the vise!

One of the worst parts of moving is that when the money crunch comes you often give up your prized scraps and so have to start over in the new place scrounging material for cribbing, levers, spacers, etc.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/10/10 12:33:19 EST

For those not accustomed to this term is the wood you use to block big things up when moving or parking them and sometimes to make crates or modify pallets with. Any time you move machinery in a truck you need wood cribbing to support machines on their sides, or to block them in to prevent moving and so on.

While "cribbing" sounds like scrap lumber it is often expensive 4x4's and 6x6's that get used up in short order. In a busy shop you can go through a pickup load of cribbing in a fairly brief period. I've bought truck loads of rough cut 4x4's for this purpose.

When you go to move something odd shaped showing up without cribbing is almost as bad as showing up without chains or tie downs. Cribbing is often half or more of what you need. Truckers commonly don't carry much cribbing or only have a few pieces. So every time you load something on an outgoing truck some of your cribbing goes with it.

Cribbing is not just scrap. . . It may be ugly old lumber but if you don't have it you will end up buying new. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 02/10/10 13:16:49 EST

The BGOP site worked for me. You need to be careful about links to home pages with "index.htm" in the links. The default page can be "home.htm" OR home.html OR home.shtml OR home.php OR default.html or index. . . Windows servers are often different from Unix and either can be setup to a specific file.

To prevent these errors always try to use or If the root or folder has an index it will load without being specific. However, if you specify one that is not there then you will get an error.
- guru - Wednesday, 02/10/10 13:22:16 EST

Most of my cribbing was PT 4x4 and 2x8 sections generally about 2' long. I mainly used them to block under heavy items I was lifting so if something bad happened the piece couldn't go far!

Several times I have moved a triphammer by myself with no available place above it to use with a hoist or come-a-long using levers and cribbing and rollers.

And as been mentioned: folks inside your shop always seem to think that these items are fair game for conversion into other things!.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/10/10 15:47:26 EST

I have a nice supply of cribbing, as I burn blocks from a resaw mill in my woodburner. 4x4, 4x6 6x6 and the odd 12x6, in lenghts to 41" I bring it home in the pickup and we pitch it into the woodshed. I pick out likely hunks for cribing and to make handles etc.
at $25 a truck load dumped into the truck not bad. My truck easily hauls 3000#+
ptree - Wednesday, 02/10/10 17:31:10 EST

'Cribbing' does not leave the factory (though I always try and borrow it from incoming lorries)! I know it sounds daft but I spend so much time moving pieces of heavy machinery around the works I know most of the blocks quite well!! (wheres the long bit of 2x4
- John N - Wednesday, 02/10/10 17:34:53 EST

Hmmmm, half my post above has gone missing, but the jist of it was Ive turned into one of the old blokes I used to take the mick out of! :)
- John N - Wednesday, 02/10/10 17:38:37 EST

around here, we call that "Dunnage".

And whenever I order big stuff from Alaskan Copper, they send these nice 4' x 10' pallets made from two 10' 4x4's, and leave em, for me to cut up and make Dunnage from.
- ries - Wednesday, 02/10/10 17:39:01 EST

BGOP Site: It seems to be up and running now; must have been a temporary glitch. Given the weather, it's amazing we have power, much less connectivity!

Back when I worked on intimate terms with the loading docks (about 5 buildings and an agency ago) a lot of cribbage/dunnage from non-governement sources floated sown to the farm. The best score was a 4' X 6' X 1/8" thick backing plate for a copying machine, which is still producing artifacts 20 years later.
Blacksmiths' Guild of the Potomac
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/10/10 20:05:44 EST

Cribbing: If You know any carpenters, ask them to save any cut off ends from porch posts or deck posts, or old porch posts if they do repair work. That is where Our blocking came from.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 02/10/10 20:15:18 EST

Cribbing: I've jacked up more old buildings than my back cares to remember, and one nifty trick with stacks of cribbing is to saw 3 or 4 pieces per stack slightly thinner than the rest so you can slide them in and out of the center of the stack. Useful for when you want to move your jacking point up or down. Also lets you settle your load onto the cribbing rather than leaving it on the jack, more stable and lets you get away with fewer jacks.

We always call spacers put onto trucks or into board or timber piles "stickers".
- Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 02/10/10 20:53:09 EST

I'm with Ries. Couple pieces under a load it's dunnage. To me "cribbing" is when you build it up "log cabin" style, only without the notches. Even built "cribs" that way along rivers to protect footings, and they're filled with rocks. Cribbing is also used in mining in "square sets".
- grant Sarver - Wednesday, 02/10/10 22:05:48 EST

familiar bit and pieces:
In a small shop we all have those familiar bits and pieces. That little battered block of babbit used to tighten centers and tapered shank bits. That short piece of hard polished hickory used under pry bars, to chock the pickup. . . That slightly flattened piece of pipe that makes a good wrench "extension", the stool made from an old wood coke-a-cola crate that's just the right height for various work. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 02/10/10 22:48:45 EST

The regional variations on names always is interesting to me.

For instance, forklifts- they have a lot of funny regional nicknames-
I used to work in a shop where the forklift was called the "bull". Any forklift, that is. And if you used any other name for it, people would look at you funny. Other places call em "lift trucks", and I am sure there are plenty more nicknames.

On some jobsites I have been on, any handheld saw is a "skillsaw".
Subcategory of which is "wormdrive".

And then sometimes, when you work together for a long time, you build up strange and ingrown slang for all kinds of tools and processes- I have had two different runs of two employees for five years each stint, and we had our own code and shorthand that made perfect sense to us, but would be completely incomprehensible to anybody else. But it helped us move and build heavy and giant stuff with ease.
- ries - Wednesday, 02/10/10 22:55:53 EST

Strange names: It also keeps the uninitiated from understanding what you mean.

Any 2 piece tool used to be a "pair of"- shifters were adjustable spanners, or in the colonies, crescent wrenches. Bolt cutters were biters or small ones were nippers. Nippers was particularly appropriate as a nipper in general English is anything small- I think from a very small dog which nips rather than bites.
- philip in china - Thursday, 02/11/10 03:30:09 EST

regional names: I work with a younger guy who is from Eastern Michagan. He calls a fork lift a "HI-LOW"
Of course this opens him up to the standard head scratching and raised eyebrow look with the usual question, "Are you sure you're not from the U.P.?"(grin)
- merl - Thursday, 02/11/10 04:21:13 EST

FORK LIFT: Worked in a Chicago factory in the 60's where the fork lifts were called 'Jeeps'.
It had a tool room with the big planer still running off a line shaft.
- Tom H - Thursday, 02/11/10 06:18:05 EST

I have a moderate sized short handled french cross peen hammer known to all my students as "frenchy" due to one long term fellow who bestowed that name on his favorite hammer. (It was a Lynch collection hammer that had been through a fire and is nearly dead soft and so students don't ding up the anvil with it!)

Another hammer is known as "the stinky hammer" its a rawhide mallet used for truing up ornamental stuff without dinging it and yes it does stink when rawhide hits hot metal.

Thomas leaving for the conference in Las Cruces tonight!
Thomas P - Thursday, 02/11/10 11:46:04 EST

does any one remember back in the 90's there was some smiths that were autonomous ferric manipulators, ? I was trying to remember the whole thing but the years are taking their toll, I bet Jock knows, do ya?
- Larry - Thursday, 02/11/10 12:10:21 EST

Equipment Names: Often they names are the equipment manufactures. We had a contractor that had a portable air compressor called "Leroy". The brand was "LeRoy" (French for the King). Leroy wore out and was replaced with a Sulair which was still called "leroy" by the workers. "We hit rock, go get Leroy."

In the 1920's Fords were so popular that any automobile was called "a Ford". Later Coke-a-Cola was so popular that any soft drink was "a Coke" unless you were from certain areas and populations in the south where they were all "a soda". Still prevalent to today is "a Kleenex" even though it is a brand name for facial tissue.

That "Crescent" wrench mentioned by Phillip is a Crescent brand adjustable jaw wrench. Same with Channelock and Vise-Grip. All names taken from the mechanism but are brand names all the same.

The British Wrench I like is the King Dick. Its a brand name of a tool maker but the only tools of theirs we see in the U.S. is the adjustable spanner that came in British auto tool kits. It is a very well made small wrench and in many sports car shops you might hear a mechanic ask for the "King Dick."

- guru - Thursday, 02/11/10 14:07:06 EST

How about "Stillson Wrench"? Worked one place where a crescent was called a "Fitzall".

I like the ones that work in reverse too. Like on purchase orders they often had a box that said "how ship" and lotsa people just put "best way". Sure enough, a trucking company sprung up called "Bestway". Have a local escrow company named "Designated Escrow".

- grant Sarver - Thursday, 02/11/10 16:14:11 EST

Names: My Father said when he was young his mother had a
CASE kitchen knife and when any knife had to be fetched she said "go get the Case knife" regardless
of brand
Greg S - Thursday, 02/11/10 16:45:31 EST

hi: hi my name is amelia. i am interested in the art of blacksmithing. i want to be able to forge swords and armor. i dont realy know if there are any blacksmiths near my area though. can you help me find a blacksmith that would take me in as an apprentice?
amelia vazquez - Thursday, 02/11/10 16:58:09 EST

we seem to call fork lifts 'stacker trucks (stackers)' and sledge hammers (or any sizeable hammer) are knocking sticks, or 'persuaders'
- John N - Thursday, 02/11/10 18:34:04 EST

Enjoyed the cartoon. I have an old book that that shoews how hooks for the Admiralty had to pass a test of straightening out without fracturing. Hooks like that give visual warning before they fail. Now they make hooks from alloy steel cause it's stronger for it's size so they can use a smaller hook. 'Cept then they gotta hang a weight in the line to pull the wire (cable) out! And now instead of failing gracefully, they frigging EXPLODE! Literally!

Funny you mentioned chain, I had a hunk of chain that had been pulled so tight all the links were locked together. It was like a solid bar. After that I thought it would be cool to make a fence with pickets like that. Throw a shot of chain in the fire, pull it out and stretch it tight.
- grant Sarver - Thursday, 02/11/10 18:48:05 EST

odd names for things: In this area many call a forklift truck a "Towmotor" or a lift.
At the valve shop we had many industrial tractors to pull wagons, called Jeeps. We had battery operated versions that the operator stood up on and had a tiller and they were Luggers.

My Dad called all pipe wrenches Stilson Wrenches, all wire cutters of the side cutting type Dikes.

I had a Co-OP for the sticks of KY who when asked to hand me a Cresent wrench saw the Cresent name and handed it to me. When I asked for the big Cresent he looked through the pile and said "Ain't None" I crawled out of the big hydralulic system I was working on, and looked and said that one and pointed. He picked it up and said "Naw, thats a Williams".

Again from my Dad, a sledge is a 8# micro adjuster. An adjustable wrench ala Cresent was a knucklebuster, or speed wrench.
ptree - Thursday, 02/11/10 19:12:06 EST

Chain: When testing chain for the failure point they stretch it on a hydraulic test stand until it breaks. The resulting sample sections are all locked together in a solid bar which is scraped after examination and recording the failure mode, conditions and so on.

I had some small chain that we broke trying to pull logs out of a river with a Caterpillar grader. Some was locked, much was not. But the end flying by my head making a zinging noise let me know it had a LOT of spring in it when it broke. . . Yeah, I was lucky.
- guru - Thursday, 02/11/10 19:22:57 EST

Amelia, See my article on apprenticeships on the FAQs page and also the Sword Making article that goes into more detail.

This is largely a field of self study. However, you can go to blacksmithing schools to get a start and their are also bladesmithing courses through ABS (American Bladesmiths Society). For sheet work (plate armour) there are on line support groups but for the most part this is an area of self schooling. Buy or make the tools and start hammering. . .
- guru - Thursday, 02/11/10 19:31:35 EST

Forklifts: Now for those so inclined, the offical name from OSHA for a forklift is "Powered Industrial truck"
They have many sub catagories such as Cushion tire counterbalance propane powered.

Now in the arena of devices to lift a worker to work at height, we have "Genie boom", "Boom lift" Snorkle lift and manlift. OSHA has a rules section for manlifts. But these are a device used mostly in mines and are sort of like a vertical escalator.
ptree - Thursday, 02/11/10 20:21:10 EST

When I was young, I worked as a bicycle mechanic. The 2 pound ball peen hammer was called a "Campagnolo Fine Adjusting Tool". Somebody even put a Campy sticker on it.
- ries - Thursday, 02/11/10 20:21:46 EST

Towmotor: Towmotor Forklifts Corporation from Ohio was a manufacture of quality early forklifts. I operated a 1941 towmotor everyday at work. Caterpillar bought out Towmotor. I think in the early 60's. You guessed it the name stuck and now older folks refer to all forklifts as a Towmotor. I frequently worked on the one I operated. It had a flathead 4 cylinder. It was the most enjoyable old gal. I liked it more than any newer lift I operated. It just had charm. Like driving and old army jeep.
- Burnt Forge - Friday, 02/12/10 00:14:27 EST

Wrenches: Stilson wrench and Speed Wrench were early specialty brand named patented wrenches companies like we know the Cresent adjustable wrenches that were originally made in Jamestown NY. I have each in my wrench collection hiding around here some place. I use my double end cresent wrench all the time. They are hard to find and something to cherish if you have one.
- Burnt Forge - Friday, 02/12/10 00:26:59 EST

Double end crecent: I got a double end crecent from my dad when he died, not sure where he got it, I thought it was more of a curosity than a working tool. Any idea why Crecent made a double ender?
- rustyanchor - Friday, 02/12/10 07:43:56 EST

Aren't the two ends different sizes? You can't get a large wrench into many spaces no matter how the jaws adjust.
- guru - Friday, 02/12/10 10:39:14 EST

Double End Cresent: Guru: The two ends are different sizes.

rustyanchor: I don't know the exact reason they produced the double end wrench. As Guru mentions the larger end can't get into tight places. When this happens I find myself flipping the wrench around and using the smaller end. I think Guru is right and this may be the reason they made it like that.
- Burnt Forge - Friday, 02/12/10 11:02:01 EST

Maybe 8-9 years ago I was employing a guy (laid off ironworker) to bushhog down a couple of large fields. El-cheapo bushhog (rotary motor). He spent about a much time working on it is as using it. Brought it up to the shop to do some work and asked me if I had a donkey d**k. I replied, "that's a rather personal question isn't it?" Of course, what he needed was a tapered alignment punch.

Some folks call a propane forge a gasser.

Locally supper is dinner. So if someone says they will be by after dinner I have to ask what time that would be.
- Ken Scharabok - Friday, 02/12/10 11:59:34 EST

I have a 30 minute lunch break, but i usually take 45 to an hour.
- Tyler Murch - Friday, 02/12/10 12:11:15 EST

Georgia: Not an ounce of snow or precipitation on the ground, it's 42* out, and my school is shut down for the day because of... ?? Tag office is closed too. I had to go by there as well.
- Tyler Murch - Friday, 02/12/10 12:32:57 EST

LOL...that is what we use to call window sash weights.
- Burnt Forge - Friday, 02/12/10 12:40:10 EST

colloquialisms: I always wondered why a unique object that a smith or machinists makes is called a "one-off", when it seems to make more sense to call it a "one-OF", as in "one of a kind". Any ideas? Ken, around here a bushhog is a chopper, as opposed to a rotary mower (for lawns only). Fun stuff!
Dave - Friday, 02/12/10 14:16:31 EST

ok sorry for the off topic question, but does anyone know how to get the screw plug out of the port for the pressure gage in a propane pressure regulator? i know this is a stupid quesiton and i feel like i should be able to do it, but i am proven defeated!
it is the red fisher regulator from zoeller forge.
ps. he is a great guy to deal with and is suprisingly patient (at least with me).
bigfoot - Friday, 02/12/10 17:46:55 EST

well what do you know. just got in from the fine art of making a snow man.
- Tyler Murch - Friday, 02/12/10 18:01:55 EST

Pipe Plugs: These are often glued in with the intention of never being taken out. If the wrench is slipping in it then forget it an put a T in the output an put the gauge there.
- guru - Friday, 02/12/10 20:42:15 EST

that sounds about right, i hate to say. but at least i didn't break it! LOL
bigfoot - Friday, 02/12/10 20:52:24 EST

Guru do you know where i can get one with one 1/4in female and 1/ in male threaded section? i can't find one on google (yet).
bigfoot - Friday, 02/12/10 21:05:42 EST

McMaster-Carr should have it but this kind of thing is pricey buying one piece on-line. Of course you stock up on all kinds of things while ordering from them. . .
- guru - Friday, 02/12/10 21:25:42 EST

guru, i did check but theirs was 3/8ths by 1/4. i do agree they are a great place to go shopping. they are like saks 5th anvenue for blacksmiths!
bigfoot - Friday, 02/12/10 21:39:30 EST

My Dad had a 1946 4000# TowMotor forklift with big air tires that He used at His sawmill. This one had a Continental 6 cylinder that was really worn out. It is a good thing it had 6 cylinders, as it only ran on about 2 at a time, but not always the same two. The hydraulics were really smooth in spite of the condition of the rest of the machine.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 02/12/10 22:33:20 EST

go over to IGS (industrial gas supply) in naugatuck they should be able to help you out . nice guys and real fair to deal with, ask for Jerry he is the most knowledgeable for fittings and such. I get all my gasses from them along with my welding stuff.
mpmetal - Friday, 02/12/10 22:45:51 EST

"Campagnolo Fine Adjusting Tool...": Hey Ries, I always thought the 2 lb. hammer was the "Panasonic Standard Assembly Tool"...

Guru, I had a belated Hammer Handle Holiday here yesterday.
Last weekend at work my 3 lb. LIXIE dead blow hammer sliped out of my hand on the down swing and when it hit the floor it must have hit just right to cause the handle to snap right off at the socket.
It was a very nice bit of ash or hickory and was epoxyed in place.
Standard removle and replacment technique were observed allowing now for a 16" "Blacksmiths" handle (that's what the handle maker calls it) to serve.
A 3 lb LIXIE dead blow is a pretty big hammer to begin with but, put a 16" piece of fine hickory on it and you get noticed when you walk into the shop with it in your hand.
- merl - Saturday, 02/13/10 02:12:34 EST

old motors: Speaking of not running on all cylinders, I just bought a huge old camel-back drill press from an old welder a few towns over and when I was there picking it up he tried to sell me an antique air compressor he had. Interesting system, it was what looked like an old Dodge flathead 6, but it was set up to only burn gas in 3 cylinders, the other 3 were the air compressing part of the unit! Had a specially made head to accommodate both systems. Pretty innovative in my book, but I suppose you old timers that seen a ton of such things!
Judson Yaggy - Saturday, 02/13/10 08:16:57 EST

Judson, the family across the street when I was growing up had a well drilling operation using the old rope drill system. They built and maintained the rig. The oldest son worked at JeffBoat in Jeffersonville as a welder. He did all the welding for the drill biz. They had a home built gas engine welder, that used if I recall a small Chevy straight six. Middle two cylinders were set up to make compressed air, and the outer 4 made power and this engine was hooked to a motor generator set to weld with. Made air to run a grinder etc. About like a SA-200 Lincohn in welder size. I remember that it sounded rather odd when it ran as it had 2 straight pide stacks for the power cylinders.
ptree - Saturday, 02/13/10 09:01:22 EST

Judson, I have heard of such things but never saw one. Although a friend had a big old compressor on wheels that MIGHT have been that type. . I seem to remember a one piece engine/compressor unit in it.

Good old drill press! I've got several and recently scraped one (a Joseph T. Ryerson and Son) for parts for the best of them.

The scraped JTR had a table I called "the craters of the moon table" for all the large overlapping drill divots in it. The babbit bearings were worn out and the back gears and power feed were broken. But it still drilled holes like you would not believe and was one of the most productive machine in my shop, even in that condition.

The old drill press has gone on to a better life. One of its cone pulleys has been put to use setting up my old Sullivan lathe, the spindle thrust bearings are in my 25" Champion drill press and the table and lower frame are to become an adjustable vise stand. Other parts may go to more machines as I have another heavy drill press, an Aurora, that needs restoration and setup.
- guru - Saturday, 02/13/10 09:03:21 EST

Odd gas fittings: My welding supplier in Lynchburg was always good for such things as well. You may also want to look for any local industrial distributor that carried Parker fittings. We have one of those as well.
- guru - Saturday, 02/13/10 09:07:22 EST

Mine's an Aurora as well, far as I can tell no restoration needed, everything seems tight and all the hi/low and power feeds work. Big sucker, stands about 7"-6"! Has a plate from the Niles-Bement-Pond Co.
Judson Yaggy - Saturday, 02/13/10 09:13:50 EST

Aurora - Cool machine!:
My old Aurora was found in a scrap yard. The feed handle is missing and it had been outdoors rusting for a long time. MAYBE the feed handle from the scrapped JTR will fit or adapt. . .

The Aurora has MUCH heavier gears and shafts than the "standards" the same size (Royersford, Champion, JTR. . ). I'm not sure about the spindle itself. But it is a fine machine.

Mine is so rusted that it will need to be addressed by my cleaning crew with sandpaper for several days before we even attempt to move parts or dissasemble it. Luckily cast iron does not rust like steel and can be cleaned and used as is.

I only paid $100 for it (many years ago). So I can afford to put a bit into it. The expenses will be a motor (1 or 1.5HP), a belt and labor, which will cost me about as much as the parts. I have an extra chuck to fit it but if its as good a machine as it looks like I will probably get a large Jacobs Super Ball Bearing chuck for it. Currently it has a very old "pre Jacobs" style chuck on it.

The new chuck may cost as much as the rest of the machine but they are worth it in ease of use and accurate gripping power.

When I get it running it will be the third 20" and larger of these type machines I have in the shop. Great tools.
- guru - Saturday, 02/13/10 10:34:22 EST


If you're an ABANA member, you can get free shipping from Grainger. That takes a lot of the pain out of shopping online. (I couldn't quite follow the type of fitting you need, but could you get by with a female X female and a close nipple?)
Mike BR - Saturday, 02/13/10 11:59:26 EST

Mike, im not a member of abana (i can't ever quite end up meeting my local chapter!) yet. thanks for the tip though. i did end up getting it out (i emailed the manufacturer and it was removable, but with alot of work).
bigfoot - Saturday, 02/13/10 13:09:16 EST

ABANA: I think with some purchases it would be worth joining ABANA just to get the discounts. I think the sub is only $55 and plenty of sellers seem to offer discounts. Hardly relevant for me , here though!

Happy Chinese new year to you all by the way. I hope the year of the tiger will be a good one for us. The ox could have been quite a lot better!
philip in china - Saturday, 02/13/10 19:27:55 EST

Air Compressor: A friend of Mine has 2 of the air compressors that use a Ford Model A engine. These were commercially produced units. He is restoring a Model A truck to drag them around with.
- Dave Boyer - Saturday, 02/13/10 22:45:46 EST

Big Drill Chuck altenative: Rather than spend a whole lot for a new big drill chuck, I think I would keep an eye out for used taper shank drills in usefull sizes & quick change tooling. At the auto frame plant We used taper shank drills for everything above about 3/16" [except for Bridgeport work]. The radial drills & Mag drills all had quick change tooling that accepted taper shanks and had tap holders. This expedited sequential operations like drill/ chamfer/tap , drill/counterbore/chamfer or drill/chamfer/rough ream/finish ream. The particular quick change system We had was made to operate without stopping the spindle, We chose speed & feed that would accomadate the various cutters, We tapped holes at higher speeds than most of Us were used to. Our radial drills had clutched reversable spindles, great for tapping.
- Dave Boyer - Saturday, 02/13/10 23:10:19 EST

Dave Boyer, I too am fond of taper shank tooling. At the valve shop we worked with taper shanks at 3/8" and up. I was lucky to have a good relationship with the Tool and Die makers and cutter/tool grinder guys, and when I asked for any scrapped drills, to get a set between 3/8" and 1" for my little drill press, they held back drills destined for the scrap box. We had lenght requirements, and once sharped the drills were checked against a standard and if too short tossed. I mow have a complete set:)
Wish I had the forsite to have asked for drills to 4"
ptree - Sunday, 02/14/10 09:28:48 EST

bigfoot- You're in Conn., right? You should at least join New England Bsmths, the spring meet will be in Mass. ABANA has a student rate of $45.

Big drills- I've been passing up big taper drills for years as I've lacked a machine to turn 'em, my mill has an R8 spindle and I've never gotten an adapter. The new press has a Morse #4, luckily the guy offered to include a Jacobs Superduty that opens to 1" to get me up to $250 from the original $200 I offered him! I guess the upside to the current economy is that no one is buying anything, of course that's the downside too!
Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 02/14/10 10:06:57 EST

Jacobs Drill Chucks: Judson, That is a good price on the chuck. But you need to check the jaws for wear. Repeated slipping on drill shanks results in tapered contact surfaces. The produces a poor grip and possibly crooked.

Open the chuck and look at the jaw points. On this size chuck they usually have several grooves rather than single points. Are the grooves even? Or worn at the opening? If so you can improve the grip by repairing the chuck.

Chuck repair kits are available from McMaster-carr for SOME model Jacobs chucks. Normally the kits come with jaws and a new nut. The kits for the ball bearing chucks do not come with bearings but you CAN purchase repacement balls. However, repair kits cost about half the price of a new chuck (more than you paid for the chuck).

To dissasemble a Jacobs chuck you press off the outer rotating sleeve. This requires a tube, piece of pipe or something that fits over the body and can push on the sleeve. These are a very precise fit and are always a firm but not too tight press fit. It is a job for an arbor press or large vise.

The sleeve presses off the front of the chuck. The sleeve is pressed onto and holds together the tightening nut which is made in two pieces (actually one then broken). The two halves of the nut pull out from the sides and then the jaws pull out one at a time. The jaws are marked for the holes they go into (or are supposed to be). IF the chuck is a ball bearing type the bearing races will slip off after the nut is removed. The races and balls are loose pieces so you want to be prepared to catch loose balls when you press off the sleeve.

Now you can clean the chuck and make repairs.


Start by cleaning and inspecting all the pieces.

NOTE: If the chuck has a removable arbor (the pressed in type). They make a thin wedge for removing them. OR you can use a punch from inside the chuck. Some chucks have a small vent hole between the shank hole and the working end. Others do not. You can drill this open (or through) with a bit about half the size of the arbor. The body of the chuck is soft and drills easily.

After drilling the arbor can be driven out with a pin punch. Use one that is as large as possible. If the arbor is in good condition and the right type it is not absolutely necessary to remove.

I've had chucks that the nose is battered from someone trying to knock them into a taper. Once the chuck is dissasembled you can file, grind or machine a little off the nose of the chuck to clean up the damage. Often the chuck key holes are damaged and should be gently dressed with a file.

If the gear teeth on the sleeve are damaged it should be replaced. These are very expensive and rarely available - you may want to scrap the chuck in this case. However, the sleeves ARE interchangeable with like sized chucks so if you scrap a chuck SAVE the PARTS.

If you need new jaws due to wear but cannot afford them they CAN be dressed. Wear is on the tips of the jaws. If you carefully grind a flat on the tip of the jaw that is the same width along its length, then it will be parallel to the center axis. Each jaw will need to be ground the same. Remove as little material as possible as the flats increase the minimum size drill that can be chucked.

To reassemble put the jaws in first. The jaws are numbered 1,2,3 OR ID'd by the first thread, 1/4 thread being #1, 3/4 thread being #2 and 1-1/2 threads the last. Install the two pieces of nut and try rotating. It may take some trial and error but once the jaws are in the right position the nut pieces fall into place. Applying a little grease helps hold all the part in place.

Replacement jaw and nut kits have location instructions but it is not hard to figure out.

If the chuck is a ball bearing chuck the bearing races need to be put in before the nut. I would test the nut and when it is ready temporarily remove it, install the bearings and replace the nut. The bearing has a notch in one race so that balls can be added after installation. "Glue" the balls into place.

The last step is to press the sleeve back on. Normally this can be started by hand and should press on smoothly. Again, a ring, pipe or large socket is needed. When it bottoms out the chuck key should fit well and the back of the sleeve have an even gap all around the body. If it touches anywhere there is something wrong.

Replacement arbors are relatively inexpensive. If the taper is damaged they should be replaced.

On reversing drills with threaded spindles there is a left hand socket head cap screw (Allen screw) in the bore of the chuck that threads into the end of the threaded spindle. This prevents the chuck from coming unscrewed. It can also make it difficult to remove if you do not know it is there. The screws are 1/4-20 LH x 1 Socket Head cap screws in Milwaukee and other American brands.

While drill chuck repair is not really cost effective except on the largest chucks it is a good thing to know how to do as a slack-time job OR if you are a hobbiest. It should also be noted that the old chucks are superior made in USA tools and the new ones are imports. . . A good reason to maintain the old ones.

Related parts made to fit are taper drifts for removing chucks and tapered shank bits, wedges for chuck shank removal and keys. Chuck keys are often lost and different brands are NOT interchangeable. Replacements for Jacobs keys are available from industrial hardware suppliers and folks like McMaster-Carr.

Taper adaptor bushings are commonly available and come in single and multiple steps. If you are going to use tapered shank bit you must have the adaptors because they only make the bits in prescribed sizes of shank. To use a #1 MT drill (up to 3/8") in a #4 arbor you need adaptors. You can use nested bushings OR those that jump steps such as a #3 to #1.

In a Bridgeport type mill they make R8 collets to fit straight shanks up to about 3/4". Generally tapered shank drill adaptors are not used.

They make step UP adaptors (#4 shank with #5 socket) but these are long unwieldy things.

In general the advantage to tapered shank drills is that they are longer and they require no chuck. The disadvantage is they are bigger requiring more expensive HS steel and the precision tapered shank. You can buy several chucks for straight shank drill bits for the difference in a full set of tapered shank bits and straight shank bits. I buy them used when I see them but rarely buy new except soecial applications.
- guru - Sunday, 02/14/10 13:43:47 EST

Judson, The price you paid was a good deal. You could pay that much for a used Craftsman drill press that had a little 3/16" wide belt hiding under that big belt guard on top. . . JUNK!

I paid $265 at auction (about 1986) for my Royersford Excelsior. It was in good condition but had a 3PH motor which I replaced. I paid $235 for my Champion in 1989. It also came with a 3PH motor BUT also a rack of huge #4 and #3 tapered shank drill bits easily worth over $1000 new. There was also extra chucks and adaptors in that rack. The other two machines, the JTR and the Aurora which were stripped down I only paid $100 each.

I bought a used 2HP motor for $25 and a multi-v pulley for another $20 to setup the JTR. I had an antique GE motor switch older than the 1890's drill press and at the time good leather belts only cost me about $20. So I had about $200 in it by the time I had it running. I bought a NEW chuck and arbor to fit for $185 and found a replacement bottom pulley and bracket with perfect babbit for $20 bringing the total to about $400 (for an OLD worn out machine).

I made thousands off that old worn out machine. I probably would not have scrapped it except we had a flood that ruined the motor. Then I needed irreplaceable spindle bearings for the bigger (25") Champion. Then it was logical to use the pulleys. . . And it will STILL make a great vise stand.

The chucks, arbors, adaptors and vise always fit other machines. . . .
- guru - Sunday, 02/14/10 14:19:57 EST

since i got my new gas forge up and running i realized that a 20lb propane cylinder ain't gonna cut it. does anyone know where i can get a 100lb cylinder in CT? i can't seemt to track any place down on my own.
bigfoot - Sunday, 02/14/10 19:21:13 EST

Judson: There are sets of larger diameter, shorter length drills with 3/4" shanks available from places like MSC & Enco that will allow You to drill larger holes with Your R8 spindle machine. A drill chuck with a 3/4" shank to use for the center drill and pilot drill will save You having to move the Z axis enough to remove an R8 shank chuck. These sets are similar to Silver & Demming bits, but have a 3/4" shank rather than 1/2". If used with a 3/4" jacobs chuck on other machines [Mag Drill] the 3/4" shank is less likely to slip than a 1/2" shank.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 02/14/10 21:53:29 EST

Bigfoot: If You have a TSC farm store near You they have larger tanks, up to 100# capacity. Any propane gas company such as Surban Propane will have any size tank You could want. Look in the Yellow Pages.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 02/14/10 21:56:00 EST

thanks dave, i will do just that. i now have to find the room for it!
bigfoot - Sunday, 02/14/10 22:04:00 EST

Propane Tanks: Bigfoot, our local Costco in Cranberry Pa just recently got a bunch of 100 lb propane tanks in. You might check the one nearest to you, if your parents are members, or if you know someone who is a member.
- Gavainh - Sunday, 02/14/10 23:04:33 EST

awesome! my family loves costco, i got 5 gallons of oil there for $20 a while back for heat treating.
bigfoot - Sunday, 02/14/10 23:17:44 EST

You can also order tanks on-line from several sources including McMaster-Carr.
- guru - Sunday, 02/14/10 23:21:34 EST

Large drill bit alternative: I worked with a guy who had one of these sets, it does work. It is used with machines that are not overly powerfull & rigid. The hole is counterbored in steps to the desired diameter. There are morse taper & R8 shanks as well.

This is not a complete listing, but I couldn't find the manufacturer's website. MSC probably has these.
- Dave Boyer - Monday, 02/15/10 13:25:25 EST

There's also the "rotabroach" as often used in a mag drill. They're basically hollow end mill cutters. Become really popular in construction.
- grant Sarver - Monday, 02/15/10 14:33:46 EST

Slugger: is a brand of the hole saw type cutter. They provide a light weight mag-base drill and the cutters with hollow spindle and small bottle fed coolant system. The same cutters can be used in a milling machine to cut huge holes in plate. Turning just that 1/8" to 3/16" wide strip into chips is a LOT more efficient than turning the entire hole into chips.

The handy thing about these is the leftover plugs or "slugs" can be used as blanks or for other purposes.
- guru - Monday, 02/15/10 15:50:46 EST

i just picked a NEW and FULL 50lb propane canister at hocon gas for $170. it helps to be a polite blacksmith sometimes!
bigfoot - Monday, 02/15/10 16:20:44 EST


check out Igs I rent my 100LB tanks from them and I own 2 40 and a 60 I got from them....
- Mpmetal - Monday, 02/15/10 16:26:51 EST

i was going to get a 100lb cylinder (same price but it was refurbed). i just can't wrassle one into my dads truck! although IGS looks like a great place to look at, just a bit far for me.
bigfoot - Monday, 02/15/10 17:08:32 EST

Bigfoot: That can't be right! I bought a new 50# cylinder at BigBoxMart for less than $50 and it only costs $17.00 to fill it up.
- grant Sarver - Monday, 02/15/10 20:28:05 EST

where is this place? in my area every thing is far more expensive then elsewhere. coal is $20 for 50lbs, propane is $19 for a 20lb at walmart, and gas is $4 a gallon.
bigfoot - Monday, 02/15/10 22:20:07 EST

Bigfoot, If you are in the Northeast you are being ripped by the fuel/energy monopolies. Fuel particularly heating oil in New England is double what it costs just a few miles away in Virginia and the Carolinas. However, this current winter electric, oil and natural gas prices were all nearly doubled in Virgina resulting in severe hardships for many. . .
- guru - Monday, 02/15/10 23:11:57 EST

i already knew that. new england is really expensive except, VT NH and Maine. CT has the worst prices on everything. ever.
bigfoot - Tuesday, 02/16/10 09:18:45 EST

Fuel: Where I live (Philly area) gas prices are always $0.15 more expensive than just over the Delaware river in New Jersey. Once in the Garbage State, prices continue to get lower as you get closer to the refineries. NJ is also one of the few states left that ban self serve gas stations.

Just out of curiousity, how much is a bottle of MAPP at the Home Depot where you are?
- Nippulini - Tuesday, 02/16/10 12:24:40 EST

Wow, Grant, my 50lb tank costs $36 to fill in upeer east TN, where the fuel suppliers get sued for conspiring to gouge on a yearly basis. They always lose, shrug, and keep on doing it. Lawyers and court costs are more than covered by the extra profits.

Gasoline is often $0.20 per gallon cheaper once you get to Knoxville, two hours southwest of me.

Nip, a bottle of MAPP at Lowe's (I do not go to the Despot nor Mall Wart) is $7.99.
Alan-L - Tuesday, 02/16/10 12:33:33 EST

my home depot does not carry mapp gas, but propane is $3.50.
bigfoot - Tuesday, 02/16/10 12:46:43 EST

that is for a 1lb container.
bigfoot - Tuesday, 02/16/10 12:47:17 EST

just another annoying question from me, but for a 7/8in hardy hole, would 1 1/4th in sqaure be enough for good hardy tools? thanks for the help. i know that my 1.5in round is more then enough, but i do not want to use more truck axles!
bigfoot - Tuesday, 02/16/10 16:10:09 EST

hardy tools: Bigfoot, sounds about right. I made a couple of sheetmetal stakes with 1" square shanks to fit my 1" hardy hole and forge-welded a collar of 1/4 x 1/2" to act as the shoulder, and that 1/4" stop works fine.

Your 3/8" shoulder would be even better, especially if you have the typical older anvil sinkhole effect around the hardy hole.
Alan-L - Tuesday, 02/16/10 16:16:34 EST

alan, thanks for helping me double check. my anvil face is still ruler straight (no dips or anything). i don't know how, since it is a hundred and thirty!
bigfoot - Tuesday, 02/16/10 16:31:28 EST

Bigfoot, no MAPP?! I would start a revolt!
- Nippulini - Tuesday, 02/16/10 16:40:14 EST

i don't really use it so i never looked before. only blue bottles there though! i only use propane for my forge, and then only on some things. i don't really need that much gas. ;)
bigfoot - Tuesday, 02/16/10 16:47:33 EST

Actually that would only give a 3/16 shoulder. Probably ok. Usually when you make hardy tools you size up the shank and then drive them down to upset more shoulder and make a nice fit.
- grant Sarver - Tuesday, 02/16/10 17:06:13 EST

grant, that is what i usually do, but normally i am making things out of recylcled somthing or other. also, my hardy hole may be closer to about 15/16 so i am not sure about the size of everything. although, i used 1 1/8th and i found it did not give me enough steel to play with. but, that may have been a lack of skill.
bigfoot - Tuesday, 02/16/10 17:13:16 EST

MAPP: I don't think anybody has real MAPP anymore, it has or is being replaced by propalene, burns pretty much the same.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 02/16/10 21:15:08 EST

Bogfoot, I highly recommend you try a bottle of MAPP or equivalent. Just get the yellow bottles. It burns at a higher temp than propane, and higher even still when run on TZ Swirl torch technology.
- Nippulini - Tuesday, 02/16/10 21:46:09 EST

i do not use a propane forge that small, nor do i solder. i honestly only use it when i need to help my mom with plumbing stuff. my gas forge is this¤t=photo-7.jpg&newest=1 it is a simplified version of larry zoeller's fire brick forge. it is also is my only tool that cost me more then $45 that was made after 1900. :D i can't say i know much about mapp, but it doesn't come in 50lb or 20lb bottles where i can get it! i know mcmaster carr has some, i just forgot the price. next time i am getting a little propane thing, i may just try it out, but till then coal and propane will have to get me by. :)
bigfoot - Tuesday, 02/16/10 22:51:31 EST

I like propylene for cutting. I started using it because it was safer and cheaper. I was pleased with it.
- Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 02/17/10 09:56:07 EST

I use MAPP in my micro forge. I made it from 1/4" plate scrap, cost me nothing but kilowatts of welding! I use TZ8000 torches, which will run real poorly if used with propane. Use MAPP on a regular TS torch and you lose (potential) BTU's. I highly recommend you build a micro forge, you will simply LOVE how it handles the small stuff. I generally use mine for 1/2" stock and under. Oxy/acetly is my choice for heating big things as my big forge has no burners (yet!).
- Nippulini - Thursday, 02/18/10 11:07:00 EST

hey nip, i just was at home depot, and i saw propelene gas for $9.50! so prices are pretty bad for us in CT.
bigfoot - Thursday, 02/18/10 16:47:22 EST

Chinese checkers anyone?
Bolt hole circs
- Tyler Murch - Thursday, 02/18/10 18:23:39 EST

speaking of holes, is 600rpm too fast for a drill press in steel? i am looking at drill presses and i am just searching about. i saw one at mcmaster carr that was about $175 but it was fairly high speed.
bigfoot - Thursday, 02/18/10 19:39:51 EST

600 RPM isn't too fast. the machine i made those bolt hole circs on runs up to 10,000 rpm. the drill for the larger holes run about 800, the small drill about 1200. very common info. get a machinery's handbook or other machining book. I had to update text books in school three times and have two old books I could let you have if you wanna pay shipping.
- Tyler Murch - Thursday, 02/18/10 20:08:31 EST

Bigfoot, Tyler mentions the Machinerys Manual. That is an EXCELLENT choice if one plans to do any machining. Any edition will do. The older editions have some limited blacksmithing info. The thing about the Machinery's Manual is learning how to use the index, cause the word you think a subject will be listed under is usually not the word they use. But a huge wealth of knowledge. My 13th edition is still a s useful as when it was published in about 1943. My Dad found it for a dollar at a yard sale. It is a special treasure for me since he wrote a little note in the front. He passed away a few months later. But that book endures.
- ptree - Thursday, 02/18/10 20:26:42 EST

tyler if you would not mind, can you email me the shipping info for the books? if the price is right i could always use more books. :D i am going to be running wood mostly (for knife handles) and 3/16 hole in 1 inch bar (for hatchets and top tools) probably once or twice a month. it is the light/medium duty bench top drill press at mcmaster. thanks for the help. now i just need to talk my family into why i need more tools!
bigfoot - Thursday, 02/18/10 21:03:02 EST

drill speed: I can't tell from the pictures what size holes you were drilling. 800 for the "larger drill" and 1200 for the "smaller" does not mean much unless we know what you mean by large and small. In mild, I would expect you're talking 1/2 inch and 3/8, right at the top end in a good machine with good flood coolant, right?
- grant Sarver - Saturday, 02/20/10 15:46:04 EST

those parts were run on a fadal vmc with a program i wrote, and all the speeds and feeds were good. the larger hole is actually a 1/2"-13 tap (tapped in rigid tapping mode) so it was a 27/64" drill. the smaller hole is a 9/32" drill.

on a side note-

what do you call a table you dont set your work on ?

a table you have to move.
- Tyler Murch - Saturday, 02/20/10 17:09:35 EST

bigfoot, email bounced. i think you'd be better off buying a machinery's handbook anyway...
- Tyler Murch - Saturday, 02/20/10 17:19:51 EST

tyler you sure? i know that email works (i was emailing QC with it a while back). you may be right though. i know a guy who may have a copy or two lying about....
bigfoot - Saturday, 02/20/10 17:36:38 EST

try rearranging BF's decoded mail logically using gmail as the system. Our decode is broken on names with dots in them. . .
- guru - Sunday, 02/21/10 01:28:59 EST

Does any one Know if Rich and Bev cross are still around? they had great hammer eye punches, I would like to get a few. Or who else sells them?
- smithy - Sunday, 02/21/10 09:24:20 EST

pics of the new anvil. got a pretty good deal on this used. supposedly 462 pound czech import.
new anvil
- Tyler Murch - Sunday, 02/21/10 15:53:23 EST

Smithy; hammer punches: I can make them. We would need to correspond to work out details. I have old axle steel to use, probably 1045.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/21/10 18:12:39 EST

Its from the Euroanvils Pattern but not a Euroanvil. The 200 Kg would make it 440 pounds but the patternmakers for Euroanvils constantly had trouble hitting a specified weight. Their first 500 pound anvils were 10% high. Adjustments were made.

I could calculate the weight of a complicated 18,000 pound casting to within 2 pounds, you would think a modern anvil maker could hit a weight by at least a few pounds.

In any case its a nice anvil. Congratulations.
- guru - Sunday, 02/21/10 18:28:17 EST

Ty's new baby...: Congradulations TY! that's a beut.
Will the proud new father be sending out cigars in the mail??....
- merl - Sunday, 02/21/10 23:23:39 EST

cigars all around. keep waiting.
- Tyler Murch - Monday, 02/22/10 11:34:13 EST

He's got to forge them. . . ;)
- guru - Monday, 02/22/10 14:47:24 EST

Well I got a new toy myself; bought a Champion #1 triphammer today, not nearly as "clean" looking as your anvil; maybe cheaper too!

Thomas P - Monday, 02/22/10 18:16:20 EST

Nice Thomas. 65 pound?
- Tyler Murch - Monday, 02/22/10 20:50:44 EST

Finally got back out into the shop for a couple of hours yesterday. When I went to use the Rockwell drill press as soon as I touched the handle it ran down all the way. No self return. Won't stay up. I assume a spring broke somewhere but I would have no idea on how to get to it.

I use a small propane bottle for soldering frequently. I bought an adaptor from Harbor Freight to refill them off of a 20-gal tank. If you follow instructions, works rather well.
Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 02/23/10 03:30:28 EST

Forged cigar: You mean like this?
Forged cigar
- Nippulini - Tuesday, 02/23/10 07:57:31 EST

Forged Cigar Holder: Is that a BENDER unit? :-D

Those three fingers look awfully familiar...
The non-Hossfield Bender
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 02/23/10 09:17:31 EST

Yes, that is a Bender. Check out the whole page at the link below. The body is an old water tank, head is made of old stainless fire extinguisher with top portion of beer keg for shoulder, Moonie hubcap feet and lots of spent gas bottles for arms & legs. Oh and yeah, the fingers are CO2 carts.
My Bender Page
- Nippulini - Tuesday, 02/23/10 09:28:05 EST

Failed Drill Press Return: On modern drill presses there is a (sometimes adjustable) coil spring under the feed handle flange. Replacing them is a pain much like fixing a chain saw or mower started rewind spring.

We had a NEW not so cheap Taiwan clone of a famous American brand drill press delivered with a broken spring.. . . This was the same drill press that the belt could not be changed or tightened because the belt and motor guard was in the way and the support bracket had no adjustment. We should have returned this POS but my Dad had the guys in the shop fix it. I'm sure the labor cost more than the machine was worth.

We stopped buying cheap import machines after this fiasco. Can you imagine being the manufacturer of machines that never ever functioned BY DESIGN????
- guru - Tuesday, 02/23/10 11:03:51 EST

OK, I found what looks like a spring on the side opposite the handle. Sort of a ball housing held on by two nuts. At one end I can see what looks like the flat end of a spring. I believe the model number is on the motor. Where might I find a source for a replacement spring for a Rockwell?
Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 02/23/10 15:02:45 EST

I have a friend who is a knifemaker in France. He found Bill Moran's knife vise in the April 97 issue of BLADE magazine. He asked if I could build him one. I don't have the sizes of pipe needed, a wood lathe, nor do leather working. Final item need not be an exact reproduction, just something which will do the same function. Doesn't look technically challenging if you already have material on hand and skills. If interested I can mail you a copy of the article.
Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 02/23/10 15:11:57 EST

Parts Rockwell:
Old Rockwell's are "Delta/Rockwells" and now Delta Porter Cable. I do not know if they still service the old stuff
Delta Porter Cable
- guru - Tuesday, 02/23/10 16:13:03 EST

While looking for something else I can across this U.S. source of anvils:

Can't read first line in logo but second one seems to be TRADITION. 100# for $585. Says they are cast in LA from 4140.
Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 02/23/10 17:09:46 EST


In my (rather limited) experience, flat springs tend to break near one end. If that's what happened, you might get away with shortening the existing spring a little. You may need to grind a new notch to match the old end.
Mike BR - Tuesday, 02/23/10 17:35:11 EST

Ken: That is probably an Emmerson anvil. They also make a 150# one. They seem popular with farriers, possibly because NC Tool sells them.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 02/23/10 20:26:15 EST

riverside machine brings those anvils to the blade show in atlanta every year. they looked really nice. never did ring one. i've heard mixed reviews. the prices used to be very reasonable.
- Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 02/23/10 22:30:08 EST

Emerson Anvil: Ken
I owned a 150 lb Emerson Blacksmith Tradition Anvil. The 100 lb is a farrier version with turning cams built in heel. They are made in the US from 4140 Tool Steel. The entire anvil is heat treated to 50-52 rockwell. The castings are high quality and they ring like a bell. Amazing rebound. They are hand finished in the Emerson shop very nicely. Just need the edges slightly radius when arrive. They are patterned from a Kohlswa anvil with improvements to the base for a stable non rocking stance, larger hardy hole etc... Pretty much just the best damn anvil made today. No others compare and I have owned all the American made brands. The prices are a steel for the quality. Once you work on one you will throw your other London pattern anvils in the scrap pile. I like them much better than those two horned piggly shaped things too. This is a preference thing.
- Burnt Forge - Tuesday, 02/23/10 22:47:34 EST

Emersons; Burnt Forge: : You have actually aroused "anvil lust" in my jaded old heart. I'll investigate further (no harm in lookin', right?) and put it on my "When I Win the Lottery/Alternate Retirement Plan" list.

As soon as I get a chance. The work of the republic is getting more complex, especially since the boss retired and left me as "acting". 8-0

Any of you fine folks close to Arlington, TX? I have a conference there next week.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/24/10 09:08:07 EST

Hi Bruce
Glad to hear it. I hope you can get one. You deserve to treat yourself when you can to such a fine anvil. :)
- Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 02/24/10 13:08:06 EST

Emerson Part2: I failed to mention that the 150 & 200 lb Blacksmith anvil have a much thicker waist than the Kohlswa they were patterned from giving more mass under the sweat spot. The base is wider and longer to prevent the top heavy affect and under the front and back foot is a short built in riser to prevent the center of base from causing the rocking effect.
- Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 02/24/10 13:28:31 EST

Emerson 150 Tradition: About 1/2 of the fariers in the shoe making competition at Rough & Tumble's Blasksmith Days used the 150 tradition, that says something about them. From looking at the portable wooden stands, I guess these were thier working anvils [at least for hot work]. A few brought larger shop anvils, and there was a good showing of an about 100# euro pattern that one of the competitors was selling. A few used farier style anvils, but as the competition was all forging, these probably offered no advantage over a heavier traditional anvil.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 02/24/10 20:15:03 EST

Blacksmithing training: I'm looking for a bit of blacksmith training within East Tennessee, and am willing to work for it. I already have training with non-ferrous metal fabrication and finishing. I'm hoping for a position near either Harrogate or Campbell County, unless a place to sleep and/or food is part of the bargain. I'm going to be able to start work ate the end of May, and go to the begining of August, with a break sometime in June or July. Contact me at Much obliged-John
- Johnathon Bolton - Wednesday, 02/24/10 22:50:29 EST

Training: Johnathon, good luck with that, but most places won't train you, if they hire you they expect you to know what you're doing.

Give Preston Farabow in Knoxville a call, he has a large production shop. He can also hook you up with your local blacksmithing guild, the Clinch River Guild. I don't think they have anyone near Harrogate, but you never know.
Alan-L - Thursday, 02/25/10 14:18:08 EST

Old English book reprinted: I see on, that a beautiful book has been reprinted: "English Metal Work Ninety three Drawings" by William Twopeny. The drawings of early English ironwork are well done, everything from grilles to architectural hardware. The original book dates from 1904.
- Frank Turley - Thursday, 02/25/10 15:17:51 EST

Hi Mr. Turley, Sounds like a nice book. How is that little swage block treating you? Making interesting things with it?
- Burnt Forge - Friday, 02/26/10 10:36:36 EST

Burnt: Yeah, I use it occasionally for spoons and suchlike.
Frank Turley - Friday, 02/26/10 13:54:35 EST

I have a small swage block, about 6" x 6". Done spoons, but it REALLY comes in handy when heading rivets, forming round tips on tapers, etc.

Suchlike? Sounds good.
- Nippulini - Friday, 02/26/10 15:18:09 EST

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