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You think your power hammer is big

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The interesting part is that he started out with rectangle and ended up with a circle. A great piece of hammer control to start with square corners and, using only straight and flat dies, wind up with a circle. Try it sometime it is a great exercise. Make a spoon.



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Hey All!


I am happy that you noticed the triphammer in the Blacksmiting museum of Bienno!!! Our Workshop!! In the video ther'are our masters :lol:


Bienno is a little, well conserved, medieval town in a valley on the Alps (Camonica Valley).


It is one of the most important town of the world for ancient blacksmithing and pre-industrial archaeology.

Infact until 1970 there were more than 40 blacksmith workshops and any workshop had a triphammer like this!

Today only 10 workshops survives and of this only 5 have fullworking triphammers like this.


Actualy we (me and two other guys) are working in the workshop that you see in the video =) in the Blacksmithing Museum of Bienno.


We have decided to try a fully traditional way to make our arms and armours and so (in June of 2013) we have moved part of our workshop on this place. The most important thing of this kind of workshops, as you see, is the triphammer moved by a mill and we are try to learn how to use it, to repair, to maintain fully funcional!


Ok, there are so many things to tell you about medieval triphammers (this is my obsession! hihihi!) and in the next days I will try to make a good topic about ancient workshops and triphammers!


And now....some photos of our work in this beautiful place! Enjoy! B)


If you have ANY question please ASK ME! ;)















Edited by Giovanni Sartori
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That is so awesome! I loved the video. I would love to see this shop in action. I think it would be a great experiment to recreate this. I would love to know more about how it works. Is it powered by a water wheel or what? So cool!

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Yes Todd it is powered by a water wheel! =)

I will post some photos of the wood wheel and the water channel.


Geoff, I will take some photos of the drive sistem, as you see it is necessary another man to open or close the water gate over the wheel...

This tipe of triphammer works with a channel over the roof of the workshop and the water fall down a tube(from 5 to 7 meters of fall) on the wheel...






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You can use different kinds of wood for the handle (yes...it is a sort of big handle! )

The best are: walnut (this handle is walnut), durmast or acacia.

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This just made my day! I'm so glad that there are places like this left in the world that are fully operational. Thanks for the video! And to Giovanni, I greatly look forward to reading more about this! Someday, if I have a shop on a river...



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Very interesting! Thank you for sharing the details. How many horse power can the mill generate? I have always wondered how the Negrolis were able to acquire such clean steel sheet ( no scale beaten into the sheet) any ideas how thin sheet was hammered? How far back in history did man make use of this size machinery?



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That is the coolest thing I have seen all week, seriously. Thank you for sharing that gentlemen.


@Giovanni - I have never used a power hammer, but have watched plenty of other people use one. There is always this fine level of control where they can have the hammer hit very lightly, or have it hit very hard. Are you able to have this control with a trip hammer this large? Does the mill allow different levels of power to be applied to the hammer head?


I love it for the fact that it helps dispel the myth of sole authorship of arms that uninformed people have. Considering that hammers like this were used in medieval days, this is a wonderful example of power hammers not being a "cheat" nowadays.

Edited by Wes Detrick
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What a beautiful beast that is.

I have always wanted to try and set up one of my hammers with a long narrow die such as this hammer has. I have seen quite a few large trip hammers set up like this and it looks to be a wonderful way to move metal.

I would also be interested in what horse power you think that this machine is developing from the water.

My guess would be not much, 10hp or so?

do you know the weight of the head and "handle" are.It is defiantly giving a good thump as you can see from the anvil moving.

Is this forge open to the public as i would love to make a pilgrimage to see it.

congratulations on keeping this forge going it is wonderful to see.

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Thank you, Giovanni! May I use some of these photos for a presentation on 19th-century ironmaking next week? I am talking about a site that had a single hammer like this, served by two forges, and people have a hard time picturing what I mean when I say "water-powered trip hammer."

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What a beautiful space. Thanks for sharing.

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Ok...Hihi! There are a lot
of interesting answers!

First thank you guys for

the compliments! We are just a sort of keepers of this big tradition and we
hope to carry on this knowledge!

You must know that

water-powered trip hammers and ancient workshops are for me a big obsession...
for several years I have studied and hunted the triphammers in my countries...
And now we can learn from the last masters in the world!

Ok let's go! (sorry for my

poor English!)

@Joe Fonzi

want you can visit the museum and the village! The museum is open all the week
except for Monday! We are happy to show the workshop to anyone want to visit

@John Page

I am happy to be helpfull,
simply is my passion and I think that without a knoledge sharing ther'is not
improvement... You have my same dream a fully water-powered workshop! YEAH!

@Jan Ysselstein

Good answers! Ther'is a
long long talk about it.... Bienno for centuries was one of the center of sheet
and semi finished arms and armour production for the Venice republic (Brescia)
and for Milan. In the mountains behind this place ther'are the siderite
mines...Siderite is a Manganese naturaly rich mineral...one of the best to produce
blades.... You must consider that in the middle ages
there are 60 or more triphammers in Bienno that works day and night to prepare
bars and sheets and also finished weapons (I have seen a XVI cent left side
dagger found on a mountain of scrap in a ancient workshop. You can obtain all the thikness as you want,
actually we are preparing some sheets to make armours of 2mm thikness from 1045
12mm plates.

And from the history of this machinery...ehehehehe... a long long history! From my studies the first
triphammers were used from ancient celtic populations, but we are
certainly of this use from 800-900 A.C. (the Cluniacense order build the
water-channel in Bienno around 1000 A.C., that was called King Duct, Vaso Re in

@John F.Ellis

Thank you!

@Wes Detrick

Thank you for compliments!


Using and maintain
(maintain is the most hard and difficult job to lear) a triphammer is a very
hard job, we are here to learn how to from our masters. You must consider that
you cannon change the power of the machine during the work but you can change
the speed simply varying the flow of the water on the wheel. As you seen in the
photos is necessary to have another man that drive the machine, in the past
this work is for young boys that could seen and learn how to work from the
"driving" position. The driving command between the master and the
apprentice are only with gestures and facial expressions

You must consider that this

machines working no-stop for 14 hours a day. I have seen with my eyes forging
100 showels in a couple of hours.

At the moment we are able

to forging a long sword in diamond section (120 cm) from a 40x40 mm square with
a mid speed of the machine (I do not know blows for minute), but our masters
think that we are very very slow! The advantage with this tipe of power hammers
is that you forge very small thinknesses without damage for the machine, the
secret for blades is the control of the speed...+

@Owen Bush

You are welcome in the

Museum and workshop!

The weight of the head is
220 kg and the weigh of the anvil is 1.8 tons (yes...tons!). You can see only a
little portion of the real anvil that is a parallelepiped of cast Iron buried
under the floor of the workshop. I do not know what exact power is necessary to
move a machine like this, but you must consider that in my opinion a 5 hp could
be adequate to move a 100 kg head and his "handle". For the weight of
handle you must consider that the only important thing are proportions a
measures, I have seen very big handle diameter and small handle diameter with
the same head that work...

@Alan Longmire

Off course! My biggest

satisfaction is the sharing of knowledge!

@J.Arthur Loose

Thank you gentleman!

And to finish this long

post a little gift for you my friends! Photos from a XV century abandoned
bladesmith workshop that I found in a valley near my home.







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This workshop is composed by three buildings:


In the first photos you can see the grinding place with many stones that I suppose are moved by an horizontal water- wheel.

In the other photos the forging place with a beautiful veronese red-stone medieval structure of the triphammer and the wheel situated on a cavity sculpted on the big stone where is built the workshop.










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Just when you think that this site has completely harvested all of the metal working awesomeness from around the globe... then this shows up :excl:


Great thread. Great history.


Thanks for sharing.

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