Monday, 20 January 2014

Hammer Time

Well It’s actually Power Hammer Time and how I love power hammers! Since travelling to Sweden to work with Roger Lund my views and ideas about contemporary forge work and how it affects our culture has completely changed. I went from being someone whose ideas about forging were stale and misinformed, to a true fanatic about hitting hot metal. Well hitting hot metal with power hammers that is.

We live in an era of post Victorian engineering and we are the results of the Industrial Revolution. In fact we might say our culture is by product of steel manufacture; we are who we are and we do what we do because of steel. The creators of our culture could quite easily be the men that were once called blacksmiths, who then went on to become engineers, architects and inventors. Some might even say that the downfall of the local Smithy and its inhabitants were the blacksmiths that built our future.

Forging didn’t die quite like the Smithies across the country did instead the process found a new home hidden away behind the walls and roller doors of factories up and down the country. Each year Europe produces somewhere in the region of $14 billion worth of forged components, you can find these components in everything from cars to planes, tools and almost anything else that can be made from steel. The forging process can be quick and extremely effective when it comes to manufacturing it also provides quite unique attributes and can be used to improve steel quality for application.

As demand for forged components increased during the Industrial Revolution the types of machines and tooling changed to me such demands. One such type of tooling was power hammers and they came in all shapes and sizes. The idea of a mechanical tool to take away some of the burdens of forging wasn’t new, but what was new was steam power this technical little marvel would revolutionise the way in which we forged. Power hammers became exceptionally versatile and the control that they allowed the users was astonishing. As we explored their potential ultimately their size increased.

Power Hammers have changed somewhat over the centuries and we now use pneumatic power hammers and also we have started to use hydraulic presses each one providing its own unique benefits. I have always enjoyed working with and on large powered machines and it is a pleasure to produce products using such wonderfully primitive tools in essence. Also the nature of the tooling provides some interesting quirks and with practice power hammers are exceptionally versatile.

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