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Old 02-14-2013, 01:03 PM
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Default Best Gas forge/ Power Hammer?

Greetings everyone,

I know there are a couple of blacksmiths on this site, so I am asking a question of those who might have an opinion. My boss has been mentioning about buying a gas forge and power hammer and has asked me to research them. I have looked at a couple of sites- (Power hammer companies) and Anvil Fire.com, but haven't got in too far yet.
I wonder if anyone here might have some opinions on what would be good ones to get. Features to look for, etc.

We will making tables and iron furniture, I guess.

Any other sites that I should look at for more information?
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:40 PM
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Honestly I built my own, and most people do just that.

things to look for would be how effieceint they are, which could be determined by how it makes use of fire brick, kaowool, and then a refractory cement on top of that. How many blowers or torches they have. Whether it is forced air or atmospheric. I tried to make mine atmospheric but ended up forcing air through it with a small shop vac.

You will get better ideas from here if you can give us an idea of size that is needed? what is being made? Does it need to be able to get to forge welding temperatures?

I know there are more experienced smithers on here than me, but Just a few places to start.
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:47 PM
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A good research spot and perhaps a good machine purchase spot also would be http://www.iforgeiron.com/

Buying a powerhammer would be different than building one although there is a lot of positive info on the "Tire Hammers" over those that are a century old. An antique might be super from the hobby standpoint ,but troublesome for a business unless the purchased antique one has been refurbished. You'd still be facing "down time" if something on an antique broke though.

My personal vote for a business situation would be a Tire Hammer 'new' construction from a cost or function standpoint. I think they can be purchased already fabricated or as partial kits or as plans... Lots of options.

There are also "air actuated" hammers that a lot of folks like a lot... but they seem expensive to me.

There are several types of "Helve hammers" too.. nothing more than an
arm actuated by an eccentric and probably the least expensive type of power hammer to make although there were many factory made ones built also.

The most common antique type is a Little Giant and there seems to be substantial repair backup should something go haywire.

A forge isn't quite as complicated...Once you figure out how you want to heat the metal... Gas probably is the least trouble in a production situation unless there is a huge pile of coal in your back lot

I've done a lot of research on the various types of hammers & forges and have several plans/designs for homemade styles should that direction interest you.

You'll be amazed at the various types of hammers that have been constructed over more than a hundred years...Actually many hundreds of years
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:38 PM
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Thank for the info so far guys. Checking out iforgeiron now.
My boss does not think we have the time to build our own, so he is leaning towards buying a premade professional hammer and forge. Will be a gas forge.
He has been getting ideas that this could do well in our area, and wants to expand a little. Of course, I know that I will be the one doing the work, so I have a lot of learning to do. (or maybe this will be a way to get him down on the job shop floor more!)
As far as what we will be making? Tables with turned down legs, and who knows what else. Anything that will sell, I guess, and that we might be able to make a profit on.
Right now we are small job shop that about 75% of our business is related to houses. From steel posts and I beams to hand railings, spiral staircases,. and even custom SS Hoods. The other 25% is small to large welding repairs, light machine work (Lathe, mill) Fortunately, we have been busy the last year or so, (but then we are down to only 2 guys in the shop, he had as many as 10 about 15 years ago) with the downturn in the economy, but the houses we have been working on seem to have no budgets. I have noticed a huge downturn in walk in traffic to buy steel since steel prices went up about 6 years ago.
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:07 PM
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As far as forges go, I have made a half a dozen or so for different folks. All the same design, all the same burners. Google Ron Reil burners. I use only atmosoheric, as it limits the fire scale. The more air you add, the hotter the flame, the more fire scale. Building a forge shouldn't take more than a day. The good thing about building it is that you then have a real good idea on wht is going on, and you can change/adapt it to different sized pieces, add/block off burners, depending on your needs.
I had a star foundry mechanical hammer, made in the 1920's, and it worked greast after some rework on the bearings, and springs. I have a shop built air hammer now. To be honest, the old mechanical hammer was every bit as good, if not better, than the air hammer. If I was going to buy another hammer, I would likely buy a Little Giant. All parts are readily available for them, most parts can be made in the shop. As far as the new air hammers, the Sahliner (sp?), Iron kiss, et al, are all good hammers. A little too spendy for my tastes though. They don't run on an air compressor, they have a reciprocating piston type of set up that moves the tup (hammer head).
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:02 PM
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This is a shot of my favorite "helve type" hammer finding an original might be an exercise in lost causes,but as you can see the design is quite simple..

I have several other types of designs saved also.
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:45 PM
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What are you going to be doing with the forge and hammer? The Big Blu hammer made in NC is a super nice air hammer. I have used an older 100 lb model a lot and it is a joy to use. http://www.bigbluhammer.com/

The NC Tool line of naturally aspirated forges are nice but they are smaller than what might be needed for heavy commercial use. http://www.nctoolco.com/index.htm

If I knew the purpose I could better advise you.
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Old 02-14-2013, 11:52 PM
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X2 on the Big Blu hammers. I see them demoed each year at our conference and they seem to be very good. Also check out John Larson's Iron Kiss Hammers, a very well built machine.

NC Forge build about 6-8 different sizes with multiple burners, they are very good. I had a 3 burner that was about shot when I got it and I used it for several years after that. Then installed the burners on an open front & sides forge that I built.

Jymm Hoffman at Hoffman Forge builds and sells blown forges that I have heard good things about. There are also smaller forges available from Chilie Forge and Diamondback Iron works. All have websites.
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  #9  
Old 02-15-2013, 09:11 PM
56FordGuy 56FordGuy is offline
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I can't help with the power hammers, but I have been around some gas forges. I weighed the build vs buy decision. I decided I was more interested in forging than learning to build forges. :lol:

I bought a 2 burner Blacksmith model forge from Diamonback Ironworks. At the same time, a friend ordered a Tabasco forge from Chile. My forge shipped within two or three days, his took a few weeks to arrive. It was built after he ordered.

The side doors on my forge are very small, and can be tricky to fit things through if you're scrolling or bending. The side opening door helps, but you lose a lot of efficiency that way. The openings on the Chile forge are larger, but you only have the front and rear openings.

The Diamondback forge does not come with a way to adjust the airflow. The Chile forge does. You can buy a choke plate kit for the Diamondback, or make them. It's a simple thing, but required to put them on even footing. The Tabasco forge from Chile comes with an adjustable burner. You'll want that to avoid excessive scale build up on your work piece.

My Diamondback has not been perfect. One burner is tricky to light, it often goes out when I open the needle valve fully and I have to relight it. The Diamondback is insulated with replaceable panels, the Chile forge is lined with a permanent liner. After about 6 hours of work, the top panel of my Diamondback began to crack in two places, beneath each burner. I contacted the builder, he send a replacement piece of insulation and a hole saw to make the holes for the burners. Said it was probably a fluke in the insulation. I replaced the top piece. After another 10 hours or so, a vertical crack began forming along the back panel insulation and the new top insulation began to crack exactly like the original one did. I contacted the builder again and he never responded. I've continued to use the forge, and keep an eye on the temps reaching the body. So far, the cracks have not had an effect on the insulating properties. They're beginning to expand, so we'll see what the future brings.

In my opinion, the Chile forge is a better product out of the box. However, the comparable model was almost twice as expensive as my Diamondback and took about 3 weeks to arrive after ordering. The Diamondback was on my porch in 3-4 days.

The Diamondback is not a bad forge, but may require a bit more end user attention than the Chile forge. For half the cost, it may be worth doing a bit of tinkering on your own. I'm certainly not planning to get rid of mine. With that said, if I were to do it over again I would probably buy a Chile forge. I need my tools to work, I don't need to be spending time working on my tools.
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