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Vern Wimmer

Power hammer vs hydraulic press

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I did a Google search a couple of ways on this and found that we didn't have a thread with any definitive answers, at least that I could find by permutations of the terms. So, since I like to see anwers, or at least discussions with preferences, easy to find I'd like to ask the users of each or both some questions.

Which would be more useful to you for,

Pattern welding,

Sword making,

General knife making ?

How about the advantages and disadvantages of each ?

This is generally meant to skirt around the questions of different DIY designs (since there are so many variations based on what is available/affordable) and concentrate on what each does, or doesn't do to the steel. Of course, if it veers to that area, so be it.

 

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For me personally, modern damasus patterns really benefit from a press.  Composite pattern-welding a'la seaxes is best done by hand, but a power hammer really helps with the individual components.

For everything else I prefer a hammer to a press.  But that's just me.  A press is great for punching eyes, though.

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A hammer keeps the heat longer in small stock, so I use my hammer (I have both, a 50lb shop built hammer and a 30 ton press) for drawing tangs, some random patterning of damascus, and drawing taper.

I use the press for setting welds, drawing thick stock, breaking down big stock, and a bunch of other things.  It is a great tool for taking the twist out of a long piece, like a sword.

 

Geoff

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I pondered this for quite a while before I built a press.  Since my primary interest was in pattern welding, I went the press route, and I don't regret it.  However, now that I have the press, I can see a lot of uses for a power hammer.

So, I pretty much verified what I kept finding online.  They are different tools for different uses that just happen to overlap some.  One does not replace the other, and one is not better than the other.

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I look at both and see something that interests me from my perspective.

It seems to me that the power hammer is a mechanization of the fundamental " 'smith, hammer, anvil, hot steel." Which, it think quickly evolved to include strikers and later early forms of mechanization.

The press, on the other hand seems to lack a primitive analog and is more a construct of the mechanical/industrial era. I can use my imagination to visualize a manual lever and cam press manned by, "pressers" as opposed to strikers. I think it is probably only a figment, but I know less about that topic in history than I like.

Seeing what has been done with each I can say that it is a wonderful thing that the capabilities are available at the individual level.

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DaVinci envisioned (though probably never built) a knuckle press and screw jack presses are also old.  As are single stroke drop hammers, which are somewhere between hammers and presses.  There are lots of technologies where leverage presses are used, noodle making, processing clay for pottery a few others,  It's easy to see where a smith might think about using leverage to move metal, but it took water power to make punch and knuckle presses work and hydraulics to make small presses.  It was only in the 1980's that Jim Batson wrote about small shop presses for forging, even though big forge presses were in use in industry.

 

Geoff

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Let me add this question:  If you could have either a press or a power hammer but not both, which would u prefer and why?

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If I were considering one or the other because of physical difficulties hammering then I don't think a press would help that-You still have to hammer the billet so....

As far as I have seen a hammer does/may have more requirements for a base or floor to support it. Better plan ahead for that than to have to fix later. 

Not a big problem if you have a stand alone shop but if you work in the garage you need to think about how family members will react to a power hammer.

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