In blacksmithing, a forging press is known to be a manufacturing tool that is used to improve the properties of a metal by changing the shape and size without altering the volume of the metal.
With its wide use in various industries such as automobiles, it has been realized that a forging press can be an expensive tool for blacksmiths. However, there is an alternative that is easy and would not burn a hole in the pocket and that is converting a log splitter to forging press.
Yes, a small hydraulic press such as a log splitter can be utilized for this purpose. As known, a log splitter is conventionally used to split the logs by pushing the stripper plate in the direction towards the log to split it into two.
However, in forging press, splitting is not required. Adding dies to the frame of the log splitter will achieve the desired surface by pressing any surfaces whether flat, drawing, or bent surfaces against the steel.
So how do you convert a log splitter to forging press?
Before starting the procedure, make sure that you wear personal protective equipment to avoid any cut or burn during welding/grinding.
To convert a log splitter to a forging press, the foremost thing required is to remove the extra handles or side parts attached to the log splitter. Additionally, four legs are attached to the log splitter to lift it and form a stand for the forging press. The legs can be attached below the frame on four sides.
Welding the iron legs will fix it permanently to the frame and give a stronghold to the forging press. After fixing the splitter on the stand, attach the metal dies to the wedge and opposite end of the splitter plate. Now before doing that, make sure the metal die attached to the wedge is cut into a V-notch so that it slides back onto the wedge, keeping the wedge side stationary.
Attach another metal die to the opposite side of the wedge keeping approximate and not less than a 6-inch gap in the middle saved to squish the workpiece. Remember, this side will remain movable.
The V-notch towards the wedge side should be removable just in case it is required to be used as an ordinary log splitter again. Similarly, the iron legs attached to the splitter would also ease down the hard work and lessen the extra efforts of splitting the logs by holding the heavy machine in hands by the blacksmiths.
Now attach the die holders in the front of both metal dies to hold the dies. Here the forging press is ready. Put the dies of different shapes for different applications based on the requirement. Heat the forge and squish between the dies. You would notice that it works much better than the hammer you use.
Currently, this machine would require two persons to function properly. One has to hold the steel to be pressed and the other person has to operate the controls. To reduce this double labor, a simple trick can be used and the entire thing can be operated alone by one person.
As the log splitter turned to forge press is still a hand-operated one, where you need one hand on the electric switch and the other hand controls the hydraulic lever, so the additional person is required to forge the steel. To minimize the labor, adding a little foot pedal will upgrade the whole machine where the foot pedal will control both the switch and the lever.
To start with, relocate the electric switch near the hydraulic lever. Using a strong electric push-button is recommended here to avoid any damage to the original electric switch that was initially attached to the log splitter.
Down below the motor, attach a foot pedal on the iron leg using a door hinge. Link this foot pedal to rebar or any old piece of the iron rod if available, with washers on the end of the rebar that will get hold of the hydraulic lever.
So now when you press the foot pedal, the rebar will reinforce the hydraulic lever giving the handle a push to the electric switch that was attached next to the level, hence starting the machine.
It is advised to check if the rod below the stripper plate is bending when the forging press is operating. If the rods are bending, it will disrupt the alignment of the metal dies which will result in the bent forge.
To avoid such discrepancies, add extra weight below the rods by welding some flat iron bars on both sides. This will reinforce the rod and minimize the bends. However, it will still have minuscule bends but that can be brushed aside considering it is converted from a log splitter.
Converting a log splitter to forging press can be useful for small purposes such as forging Damascus stacks or hot steel, drawing a material, or any other simpler forms. Undoubtedly, a 24 ton I beam press can do wonders but then the log splitter turned forging press cuts down the costs for a beginner blacksmith!