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Using a hydraulic forging press to cut steel?


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One of my major irritations is the time I spend in the shop burning through angle grinder discs, or babysitting the bandsaw. What I would love to do is build some dies so I could use my Coal Iron 16+ as a brake press to cut steel.

If I'm cutting mild, non-ferrous, or well-annealed carbon steel, would a die setup with hardened/tempered carbon steel bits hold up without spalling shrapnel off at me? Anyone have success doing something like this?

The Tidewater Forge

Christopher Price, Bladesmith

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I'd be more worried about the cut piece shooting across the shop and through the wall, myself.  The place I get my mild steel has a big hydraulic shear that will easily cut 1/2" x 4" mild, or 1" square mild bar, or plate up to 3/8 x 24".  

 

Are you thinking straight cuts, or using it like a Beverly shear?  Straight shouldn't be a problem, but I don't know if the die holder on that press (or any press) is rigid enough to maintain the precision needed for a throatless cut like a Beverly.  

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I was thinking of two offset dies, so when the ram comes down, the top die just glides past the bottom with little space between them. Sharp right angles at the cutting edges.

 

Most of what I want to cut fast is 1/8"x1.5" 1095/15N20 for damascus piles, and 1/4"x1" mild for tong blanks, mostly. Shearing off 3/8" mild round would be really nice too.

The Tidewater Forge

Christopher Price, Bladesmith

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That should be doable.  You'll want at least one of the dies to be tapered in height, so you get a moving point of cut, kind of like scissors. Takes a lot less force to do that versus a guillotine shear.  And you want them to be in sliding contact like scissors as well. Otherwise you may get a huge burr you'll have to grind off.  The edge angle is a bit less than 90 degrees, more like 80 to 85 degrees.  I think some 1 x 1/2" D2 would do it.  Or even 1" square.  I'd bolt it on rather than weld.  Easier to replace, less stresses to deal with.

 

Edwards makes (and has for 140 years) the best shears for this.  Study their dies. http://www.edwardsironworkers.com/p-482-bar-shear-blades.aspx

 

 

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Ok, the die plates on my press need some height offset, I need to take a good look at that, and figure out how to best mount the blades. I'd been thinking of just welding hardened/tempered 80CRV2 plate on top of 1" square mild, but looking at the Edwards, they bolt onto the sides? I'll have to play around with that.

I get the sliding contact idea, hadn't considered that at all but it makes sense over a straight guillotine method I'd envisioned.

I've got to find the balance between spending time making tooling vs the time better tooling saves me from what I do now... it's an evil equation.

The Tidewater Forge

Christopher Price, Bladesmith

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80CrV2 atop mild could work fine.  Then you wouldn't need to bolt anything.  It's not as wear-resistant as D2, but it's also easier to heat treat and cheaper as well.  

 

If you can get it to work I know a guy with several hundred pounds of 15N20 bandsaw blade who'd be interested.  It's the real stuff, just in a 10" wide band.  

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6 hours ago, Christopher Price said:

Most of what I want to cut fast is 1/8"x1.5" 1095/15N20 for damascus piles,

I hear your pain. I buy this size 1095 in 6-foot long lengths. I buy my 15N20 in 3 foot by 8 inch sheets. I cut  the 15N20 into 1.5" strips with my plasma, cut the 1095 in half and make stacks 3 feet long by about 4 or 6 layers. These I clamp together and cut the whole stack into 5.75" pieces with a chop saw. If I need several pieces of mild in the sizes you mention. I just stack up 3 or 4 lengths in the chop saw and whack them off at once.

A 14-inch chop saw blade lasts a lot longer than a whole pack of 4-1/2" cutting discs

 

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

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On 3/29/2022 at 8:02 AM, Gerald Boggs said:

Man, I hate having to use machines, if only there was a less labor intensive way of cutting steel.  I introduce the Hacksaw!  A revolution piece of modern technology :-)

Not really helpful...

The Tidewater Forge

Christopher Price, Bladesmith

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Not wishing to be that guy, but...

 

Are you likely to be able to get a straight, burr-free cut with whatever you can put together? I'd hate to see anyone spend the time and effort of making a guillotine, only to find that it takes as long with the grinder to deburr as it does to cut the pieces with a slitting disk in the first place, and you then have to stack twisted pieces instead of flat ones. 

 

A 14" Carbide-toothed chop-saw would be my choice, but I am somewhat biased because I already have one. It's noisy, throws nasty sharp chips and is nobody's idea of a fun way to spend time, but it's quick, doesn't twist the metal and needs effectively zero cleanup on the cut ends (to be fair, the last mm or so usually breaks off one side and gets left on the other. Cleanup is usually one stroke with a file). An abrasive chop-saw would probably be ok, as said above. Also noisy, messy and the mess can't simply be cleaned up with a magnet like the carbide one. I've not used mine since getting the Carbide one, except for cutting fork-lift tines. 

 

A mitre saw with a Carbide-toothed-metal-cutting blade (or just a metal-cutting blade if you already have a mitre saw) might be a viable solution.

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16 hours ago, timgunn said:

A mitre saw with a Carbide-toothed-metal-cutting blade

Do you happen to know what brand saw blade you use? I purchased one about a year or so ago, and it was very disappointing. I think I paid over $100 for that blade, and it made a couple of cuts through mild steel and quit.

 

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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That was my experience with one of those. A fellow smith in my guild bought one and brought it to a friend's shop to demonstrate its cutting prowess. Two cuts later it had shed all its teeth and wouldn't cut anything. I have seen them work well on thinwall tubing, but not 6.5mm mild steel angle.

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There are cold saws that will cut bar stock but they are significantly more rigid than a woodworking miter saw and are much more expensive.

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I use the Makita LC1230 12" Metal Cutting Saw.  The blades are also Makita.  I've tried two teeth sizes, 60, which is standard with the saw and 72, which will cut smaller diameter steel.  While I mostly use it to cut mild steel, I've made hundreds of cuts on 3/4' round 4140 and a few on rasps and 5160.  All in all, I get thousands of cuts with a blade.  One has to let the blade cut with steady pressure, if you push too hard, you'll overheat the blade and will quickly kill it, as I found out when I let folks use it at the Richmond ABANA conference.  My fault as I didn't tell them about not pressing too hard.  The tiny bits are sharp, but are mostly caught in the tray in the back of the saw.  If you have pets with access to your shop, you'll want to clean up after each use.

On size, the 60 teeth will easily cut 1/2 round, but will not cut 3/8.  The 72 will cut the 3/8, but doesn't cut the larger diameters as quickly.  The largest I've cut is 1 1/2" square and bundles of 20 1/2" round.

 

All in all, I'm happy with it.  It makes a clean straight cut on one side, the other has a very sharp burr that needs grinding off.   Bought in 2013, have used three blades, the last purchased in 2017.

 

Correction:  The 60 will cut 3/8, but only singles.  A bundle of ten will jam the teeth.

Edited by Gerald Boggs
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