Well, after about a decade, I finally broke down and bought a forging press! And right about now, most of you are going… what the heck is a forging press?!? So Let me explain.
Hydraulics are used in all kinds of manufacturing processes. They are used to put engine parts together, or to stamp things out of metal, or to compress springs, and even to make cars hop up and down! But forging presses are unique, because they’re designed to work hot steel and therefore have to be able to provide a great deal of force, but also move quickly.
A forging press can be used in many different forging operations, but mostly I intend to use it for making Damascus steel. Which will look something like this…
The New Forging Press
One of the problems with getting a forging press is just finding one. Ron Claiborne makes one for sale, or at least he did but it’s hard to know because that page hasn’t been updated in a decade. Uncle Al also sells a forging press, and I’ve used one several times at the ABS School – though it can be finicky. Probably because of all the people who use and abuse it…
I too was planning on building my own, but then I came across the guys at Coal Ironworks of Indiana. Nathan and Andy are a couple of artisan blacksmiths who build forging presses for sale – and use their presses for their own work.
My New Hydraulic Forging Press
The guys offer two different press models. They have a 16 ton that will run on 110v electric (20 amp), and they have a heavy duty 25 ton unit.
Specs on the 16 Ton unit:
- 2hp Motor
- Plug into any 110v 20 amp outlet!
- 11 GPM 2-Stage Pump
- 10 Inch Stroke, 4″ Cylinder
- 5″ x 6″ Die Plates, 3.5″ x 6″ Useable Die area
- Hand and Foot Pedal Control
- Incredibly Quiet in use, suitable for small shops with neighbors!
- On Casters for great mobility around the workshop
Also, the unit stands about 7′ tall, and weighs about 550 pounds.
And here’s a video of it in action.
When I asked Nathan about the difference between the 16 and 25 ton models, here’s what he told me:
The 16 ton will do everything that a 25 ton will do but is built for a hobbyist. It’s a light weight machine and very quiet. The larger 25 ton is much more robust. It uses a much heavier I-beam and weighs more than double. It is still moveable on a flat level surface though. It’s built for someone that’s going to run their machine day in and day out, 8 hours a day.
The 25 Ton costs $5200 and we would need about 2 extra weeks to complete it (4 total). I use a 25 ton in my shop and used the extra tonnage when I was forging my last sculpture. I was pulling 8 ft tapers on 1.25″ x 5″ bars for up to 10 hours a day for 10 months. The extra tonnage shines when your steel is beginning to cool and you need to keep moving.
So personally, I would rather have a 550 pound tool to roll around rather than a 1,000+ pounder. And since I’m not going to be using it 10 hours a day for 10 months straight, I think the 16 ton will be just fine. ;-)
The guys are going to take pictures as they go with the construction of my new press, so keep an eye on their Facebook, or any of my social accounts for updates. And in a couple of weeks I’ll head up from Dallas, TX to Indianapolis, IN to pick up my new baby! The last time I was there, was for the Indy 500!
PS – God only knows what I’m going to be crushing in the new Hydraulic press… I’ll put it right beside my killer bandsaw.