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How to build a drop forge

Hi, Im trying to figure out how to build a small drop forge. I have a small benchblock and another flat hunk of metal, one to put workpieces on, the other to sit on top of that. I have some 4' rebar sticks, that I think could be used to make a guide rail for the drop hammer to fall, and plenty of old dead sledge hammer and maul heads to be the hammer. Now I have to figure out, how to put it all together to make a drop forge. I'm by no means an engineer. are there any schematics out there on how to build such a thing, or has anybody built one thats willing to share how to make it work?


At one time (maybe 30 years ago) I saw a board type drop hammer that
was used at a Rennaisance fair type thing to lightly coin small
medallions. I think it may have been at a Smithsonion bicentennial
affair on the Washington mall. It was wood framed but I can’t
recall the drive . I believe it was powered. I would kind of like
to see it again for a second. I think it may have used a revolving
drum rope clutch ???.

I have never encountered this again but I have never been to a
Renaissance fair so it must have been in Washington back then. It
was pretty simple.

You could at a minimum just use a block and tackle to lift the
weight and then just let it drop.


Hi Sparrow;

What might work for you is a “treadle hammer”. It’s a foot operated
drop hammer. Here’s where you can get an inexpensive set of plans
for making one. You can
actually buy a kit to build one. But the plans are for a full sized
model used by blacksmiths for forging steel. No reason, though, that
you couldn’t scale the plan’s dimensions down making it a table top

David L. Huffman

I don’t know if this will help you or not, but there is a group at
our local Re-faire that stamps coins using a drop hammer (?) type
thing- I seem to recall that it was based on a design of Leonardo da
Vinci’s- but it has been a while since I spoke to them and I might be
mis-remembering. Betsy

Get hold of Lee Marshall of Bonny Doon - he built a drop hammer out
of scrap parts for James Binnion’s Mokume workshop. He did it in a
couple of hours, as I recall - and it functioned just fine for
squashing billets down to a manageable size to be run through the
rolling mill… I’m sure he can help you do something similar, or
point you in the right direction.

As I was looking at various “Treadle Hammers” site, I ran across tis
article on this “Oliver Hammers”. I suppose you’ld call it a bench
sized treadle using, I gather, a bar spring overhead as the return
mechanism. [I wonder if a coil spring could be used in a more open area.] In the Old Sturbridge Village shot, note the support used, I
assume, to prevent accidental hammer of hands and fingers [ouch].

I 've used treadle hammers for steel forging, even for forge welding
operations. and I’ve seen a demo of a blacksmith viening on light
guage copper, just using a gentle touch, so with a small slege as
the hammer very delicate work could be done. Most treadle hammers
I’ve seen use 60 to 100 pound hammer and lead weights.

Hope this helps a few of us.

I’d suggest that you try this question in alt.crafts.blacksmithing.
Even if there are no plans available, they’ll probably have some
good ideas and advice.

After my last post I went down further trails and found this
interesting small powered hammer, I could also be made with a simple
stirupt treadle actuator I would think.

original “oliver hammer” link. I think I knocked of the link in
editing, wake up Ed!


You might find some technical drawings, forge descriptions, or even
something in the classified section for (ABANA) Artist-Blacksmiths
Ass’n of North America group…


The main problem with building a drop forging hammer is getting the
necessary long, straight and smooth bars. The drop hammer itself is
simply a lump of steel which runs up and down vertically between two
steel guide bars 6 or 8 feet long and strikes an anvil which the
lower end of the bars is fixed to. Drop hammers were used extensively
in the Sheffield cutlery trade and were usually powered by a long
line shafting which ran the length of the workshop and drove several
hammers. This line shaft ran at a fairly slow speed geared down from
the main factory power shafting and, above each hammer, had on it a
large wheel, maybe 16 or 18 inches in diameter and 3 inches wide.
From the sliding hammer head or ‘tup’ a length of leather or heavy
canvas belt or strap was draped over the wheel and its dangling end
had a short length of rope attached to form a handle. Note that there
was no direct connection between the hammer and the drive shaft. In
use the operator pulled on the rope which tensioned the strap
against the rotating wheel and friction between the two rapidly
pulled the hammer up the guide bars. At an appropriate height the
operator simply let go of the strap or, at least, released the
tension on it and the tup fell freely down the guides to strike the
object on the anvil. Some of the operators were very skilful in
adjusting the force of the hammer blow by both correctly estimating
the height to which to allow the hammer to rise and, in some cases,
by applying a little tension to the strap just as the hammer was
about to strike the metal or dies so moderating the force.

These hammers were much used in coining and are now in demand from
medallion makers and it was amusing to see one of the last hammers I
had dealings with being removed. It was in an old cutlery factory
which was being redeveloped and I had a call from a medallion maker
in Cornwall (UK). After ascertaining that the hammer was what he
wanted he asked the price and I told him that, as I needed the
factory cleared quickly and it had minimal scrap value, he could
have it for free provided he removed it within 3 weeks. He jumped at
the chance and, for the next two weeks made a daily journey of about
350 miles each way thumbing a lift on milk and other delivery
lorries, leaving home at about 4am and not getting back until 8 or 9
pm. After two weeks of this he decided that it was too much and
brought a sleeping bag to camp out in the empty factory while he
finished dismantling the last few bits and packing everything for
transport back to Cornwall. This was one really dedicated guy and I
have thought several times since that I really hope he is still
making good use of the hammer!

Best Wishes,

Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK

Thank you everyone, for your suggestions and websites. I shoiuld be
able to put something together that works now.

I`d love to have more time to chat or respond to everyones answer,
but between being in the last throws of preparation for a show,
getting the house ready for winter, and my horse finally having seen
the light and actually being fun to work with right now, I don’t have
more time.

thanks again,