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Log splitter as forging Press


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#1 K. Bryan Morgan

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 12:06 PM

I've been playing around with an idea to make a forging press with a 22 ton log splitter. I've seen some very good examples of this done and was thinking that it would solve a problem for me. An extra set of hands. I have a good length of railroad rail I can use for dies. I can make a flat set and a combo set, and still have some left over. I think for the price and the amount of work involved it would be a good project. I see the splitters on sale here in the local paper and on craigslist fairly regularly for decent prices. Considering they are $2700 new off the shelf so to speak. Getting a used one for less than $600 seems a decent bargain.

Placing the dies on the unit itself would be the main issue it seems to me. How to attach them? I have seen a couple of different ways to accomplish this. One way I've seen showed the business ends of the press removed and then completely replaced with the die sections. Another way I saw was a simple bolt on construction. In other words a large "V" section was bolted onto the cutting end of the log splitter and the other die, the movable one, flat bolted to the press end. I can see advantages to both.

There are some very talented people using this set up to forge everything from simple linear work to complicated pattern welded steels, blade work and makume gane. If it works for them I have to figure it would work for me. Any thoughts on set up or die making would be greatly appreciated.

#2 AvishaiW

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 12:32 PM

Can you post a photo of a cutting edge of a log splitter so that we can start thinking about it. Thanks

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#3 knots43

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 01:03 PM

I've been playing around with an idea to make a forging press with a 22 ton log splitter. I've seen some very good examples of this done and was thinking that it would solve a problem for me. An extra set of hands. I have a good length of railroad rail I can use for dies. I can make a flat set and a combo set, and still have some left over. I think for the price and the amount of work involved it would be a good project. I see the splitters on sale here in the local paper and on craigslist fairly regularly for decent prices. Considering they are $2700 new off the shelf so to speak. Getting a used one for less than $600 seems a decent bargain.

Placing the dies on the unit itself would be the main issue it seems to me. How to attach them? I have seen a couple of different ways to accomplish this. One way I've seen showed the business ends of the press removed and then completely replaced with the die sections. Another way I saw was a simple bolt on construction. In other words a large "V" section was bolted onto the cutting end of the log splitter and the other die, the movable one, flat bolted to the press end. I can see advantages to both.

There are some very talented people using this set up to forge everything from simple linear work to complicated pattern welded steels, blade work and makume gane. If it works for them I have to figure it would work for me. Any thoughts on set up or die making would be greatly appreciated.



The thing about this approach is that you can start with minimum modifications and use it while planning the full set of changes. The minimum would be a bolt on fixture to the existing wedge for the die plate and removal of the circular slip ring from the anvil. One thing though. The splitter frames are not as rigid as a press designed for forging. If you could find a 27 or 30 ton unit and regulate the pressure to achieve an effective 20 ton press that might mean a stiffer frame.

The first major modification that I would make would be to fabricate a new guide / die plate assembly with extended bearing surfaces to stabilize the die plate and reduce the rocking seen in most log splitters.

Next I would consider removing the press column from the axle/hydraulic reservoir and somehow mount the reservoir vertically to the back of the press column and install the press on a sturdy stand of useable height.

The gasoline motor needs to be outside. This is in conflict with using the press indoors so perhaps the motor could be mounted outside using longer hoses or an electric motor used to replace the gasoline engine. This brings up the possibility that a splitter with good hydraulics but a bad motor might be purchased for a very low price and the savings be used to purchase an adapter for the pump to electric motor connection and a good used electric motor.

Perhaps such a press could serve many years in a non industrial setting. Good thinking Bryan.







#4 ArtWerkz

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 01:36 PM

Heck of a plan, insta press..I like it.
Bolt on some dies...Bob's your uncle.
Perhaps a pressure over ride valve when the ram dead heads due to the reduced stroke ?
I am guessing you're keeping it horizontal ?
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#5 K. Bryan Morgan

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 02:38 PM

Can you post a photo of a cutting edge of a log splitter so that we can start thinking about it. Thanks



Well, Avishai, its just a metal wedge really. My small log splitter has a vertical wedge about 8 inches tall at about a 30 deg. angle. The wood actually keeps it sharp. I havn't had to sharpen it once and its actually sharper now than when I bought it.

#6 K. Bryan Morgan

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 02:45 PM

The thing about this approach is that you can start with minimum modifications and use it while planning the full set of changes. The minimum would be a bolt on fixture to the existing wedge for the die plate and removal of the circular slip ring from the anvil. One thing though. The splitter frames are not as rigid as a press designed for forging. If you could find a 27 or 30 ton unit and regulate the pressure to achieve an effective 20 ton press that might mean a stiffer frame.

The first major modification that I would make would be to fabricate a new guide / die plate assembly with extended bearing surfaces to stabilize the die plate and reduce the rocking seen in most log splitters.

Next I would consider removing the press column from the axle/hydraulic reservoir and somehow mount the reservoir vertically to the back of the press column and install the press on a sturdy stand of useable height.

The gasoline motor needs to be outside. This is in conflict with using the press indoors so perhaps the motor could be mounted outside using longer hoses or an electric motor used to replace the gasoline engine. This brings up the possibility that a splitter with good hydraulics but a bad motor might be purchased for a very low price and the savings be used to purchase an adapter for the pump to electric motor connection and a good used electric motor.

Perhaps such a press could serve many years in a non industrial setting. Good thinking Bryan.




Would any of those modifications be absolutely needed? I guess my point is K.I.S.S. , Keep It Simple Stupid. Me being the stupid part. As far as making it an electric motor for inside use. Yes I do agree that would be ideal. Of course running an exaust pipe outside would be another option. Although I feel less than ideal. I like the idea of moving the motor with longer hoses outside better. Getting a splitter with a used up engine and replacing it with an electric motor wuold be doable. However I've never done anything with hydrolics. I'm a carpenter not a mechanic Jim. To paraphrase Dr. MCcoy. Being in Alaska has its own set of issues when it comes to working outside. There is a very limited time available to do it. I would like this to be something that could be used year round. So, perhaps an electric motor is a good solution to the problem.

#7 K. Bryan Morgan

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 02:49 PM

Heck of a plan, insta press..I like it.
Bolt on some dies...Bob's your uncle.
Perhaps a pressure over ride valve when the ram dead heads due to the reduced stroke ?
I am guessing you're keeping it horizontal ?


Yes. horizontal is the plan. Just bolt it to the work bench as is. I've seen several that come with a wheeled base and that may be a thought too. Just sit down and forge weld pattern welded steel. I was watching some video on youtube from the young men from Mad Dwarf Workshop the other day. Thats what they did. Seemed to work a treat for them, it was quick simple and easy. Just bolt on heads like you say.

#8 Rich Waugh

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 03:46 PM

One consideration in doing this is that most of the log splitters I've seen were really pretty slow when they were at full pressure. A forging press needs to be as quick as you can make it since so much heat is lost to the dies. The guys who build dedicated ones often use a two-stage pump so the press can move quickly to get the dies in contact and then it shifts to higher pressure (but slower) to get the big squeeze.

I would definitely have it running vertical so you can use tooling with it. In horizontal mode using tolling would require a second person unless you were an octopus. :-)

Something you need to consider in your design is that hydraulic fluid is flammable and any leak under pressure can turn into a giant flamethrower. Any lines that run anywhere near an ignition source should be shielded in Greenfield flex or something similar. Also, a hydraulic leak can, if you're careless, inject hydraulic fluid into your skin, which can be life-threatening. Definitely read up on hydraulic safety before getting into this project!

Randy McDaniel would be a good guy to run some of your questions/ideas past - he's been building and using forging presses for years now.
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#9 knots43

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 04:21 PM

Would any of those modifications be absolutely needed? I guess my point is K.I.S.S. , Keep It Simple Stupid. Me being the stupid part. As far as making it an electric motor for inside use. Yes I do agree that would be ideal. Of course running an exaust pipe outside would be another option. Although I feel less than ideal. I like the idea of moving the motor with longer hoses outside better. Getting a splitter with a used up engine and replacing it with an electric motor wuold be doable. However I've never done anything with hydrolics. I'm a carpenter not a mechanic Jim. To paraphrase Dr. MCcoy. Being in Alaska has its own set of issues when it comes to working outside. There is a very limited time available to do it. I would like this to be something that could be used year round. So, perhaps an electric motor is a good solution to the problem.





Bryan, the only things that are really necessary is that you are comfortable using it, it is safe to use, and that it serves your needs.

Most of the modifications that I proposed were aimed at making it fit comfortably into a small shop within a relatively small footprint, getting the ram to travel vertically, and additionally not exposing you to carbon monoxide poisoning when used within enclosed spaces. The goal also being year round use/access in your difficult climate.

But as stated get and use it. Then modify it as your needs become clear and resources become available. The suggestions are only a shopping list. And yes the KISS principle is a valuable design criteria, but not at the expense of safety and the needed level of function.

I look forward to hearing how it all works. out over time


#10 knots43

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 06:07 AM

KISS a log splitter and turn it into a forging press. Why not ? The Princes did it with a frog, and the Mad Dwarfs have already used what appears to be an unaltered log splitter with a ram attachment as a forging press. Posted Image

Clearly you can do the same. As I see it the extreme cold weather is the most difficult problem that you will face when using this device year round. I have first hand experience with frozen hydraulics ( my loader) at much warmer temperatures than you experience . Some use crank case warmers to overcome this problem. What do Alaskans do to keep their log splitters going during cold weather ?

#11 K. Bryan Morgan

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 03:25 PM

KISS a log splitter and turn it into a forging press. Why not ? The Princes did it with a frog, and the Mad Dwarfs have already used what appears to be an unaltered log splitter with a ram attachment as a forging press. Posted Image

Clearly you can do the same. As I see it the extreme cold weather is the most difficult problem that you will face when using this device year round. I have first hand experience with frozen hydraulics ( my loader) at much warmer temperatures than you experience . Some use crank case warmers to overcome this problem. What do Alaskans do to keep their log splitters going during cold weather ?



I have a small electric log splitter I use for firewood. Its a 4 ton and weighs about 100 lbs. I have to store it in the hallway by the front door or it gets so stiff to run, it shuts off its breaker. So in the dead of winter. I run it in the hall. Its just too cold to go outside when its -45 F. You can take a full cup of hot coffee and throw it into the air and it will all be ice by the time it hits the snow, the coffee not the cup. [Thinking]

What I've seen of their set up is, they put dies on it and run it. I don't think they did one other thing to it. Maybe wire down the safety lever. I know most require two hands to operate. So you would have to bypass that in order to use it one handed. That has me somewhat conserned. I don't like bypassing safety gear. However, to use it effeciently I may have to. I'll have to see what the gas powered ones have on them. Which means I will be very very very safety concious when I use it. If I make it. When I make it. Buy it I mean. [Big Grin]

Something you must consider here is that when steel gets down to around -45 to -65 F it is very brittle. It does not take alot of force to break. I've seen axels break, drive shafts, bolts, all sorts of things just because it was that cold and it took a hit the wrong way, usually in sheer. I would need a way to warm up the shed. Which is one of my very long list of things to do. May not happen this year. But, it will eventually.




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