Cost effective, best method for cutting 1.25" thick 4140/4142 steel?
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    Default Cost effective, best method for cutting 1.25" thick 4140/4142 steel?

    I make hammers for rock climbers out of 1.25" 4140 square stock. This is a small market with lots of hand work. There are cheaper hammers but people seem to like what I do. I also make the handles and the various other parts.

    I'm considering finding somebody to do the rough cuts. For the head, I cut the stock to length, drill some holes and then cut the shape on a band saw. Right now I make four band saw cuts, three have a 6" radius and one has a 2" radius. Even with radius jigs and auto feed, doing this on a band saw is time consuming and sometimes blows the part when the blade wanders. There has to be a better way.

    I'm thinking of looking for a shop that can cut these - maybe with a waterjet. I'd prefer to not harden the steel with a flame cut so they are easier to grind, chamfer and finish before I harden and temper. Again, small lots. Maybe 25 or 50 at a time. Maybe even 100 if the pricing works out.

    If anybody has any helpful thoughts about the best way to do this, I'd appreciate hearing them.

    Thanks in advance.

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    I'm a little surprised you're not forging the pick end for the extra toughness. Drop hammer to rough shape, belt sand or whatever method you're using now to finish.

    If there was a large enough market you could do a closed-die forging, but that's probably not cost effective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanMerrick View Post
    I make hammers for rock climbers out of 1.25" 4140 square stock. This is a small market with lots of hand work. There are cheaper hammers but people seem to like what I do. I also make the handles and the various other parts.

    I'm considering finding somebody to do the rough cuts. For the head, I cut the stock to length, drill some holes and then cut the shape on a band saw. Right now I make four band saw cuts, three have a 6" radius and one has a 2" radius. Even with radius jigs and auto feed, doing this on a band saw is time consuming and sometimes blows the part when the blade wanders. There has to be a better way.

    I'm thinking of looking for a shop that can cut these - maybe with a waterjet. I'd prefer to not harden the steel with a flame cut so they are easier to grind, chamfer and finish before I harden and temper. Again, small lots. Maybe 25 or 50 at a time. Maybe even 100 if the pricing works out.

    If anybody has any helpful thoughts about the best way to do this, I'd appreciate hearing them.

    Thanks in advance.
    Interesting can you post a few pictures? It always gets a flood of good will and information. Yes waterjets do a good job. You must allow some extra material to clean up good but it may save you a lot of time. I would skin all four sides of your material to relieve stress . With water jet it may be different I have not done any great amount of water jet but I like stress relieving as a matter of principle especially if there is extensive hand work to do. Saying that and reviewing the fact you use your process is a really good process and I was going to ask you if there might be a good way to use the band saw more efficiently avoiding the extra cost of water jet. Using a marker to layout the shape in the 1.25 square will be good to see where you are cutting material off. The fact you have 1.25 square shape tells me it is small and you might need to use a 2x4 x ? to help you feed the material into the bandsaw blade ( using a band saw and good blade with cutting oil is good)

    If you have some endmills roughing style and it helps to use the vise to secure firmly you can take out a fair amount of material steadily.

    Now that I have discussed all this the first thing I would do is to talk to the water jet connection and get a quote or three if you have that many to quote. All the saw work is fine but I know the shape and material and the most you can reduce the heavy roughing work the more that you can save. Just some things that come to mind. Wish you the best on figuring how to make things better.

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    Show a pix of the shape.

    It could be best as Midland says, forge the blank.

    It could also be to flame cut the blank, then forge to shape.

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    That sounds very interesting. Torch cutting is always a option and I am glad water jet became more common as the concern of how hard the burn outline requires the work. Torch cutting stuff is fun but one must be careful of course. A good torch cut will reduce too thick a burned edge to work out with some good curs.

    Do you have a milling machine? With that you can use roughing endmills to follow a laid out marked shape and remove material well.

    The forging process sounds very interesting. Milland what is needed to do that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spinit View Post

    The forging process sounds very interesting. Milland what is needed to do that?
    Drop hammer forging: Drop Forging process - YouTube

    Can also be done with open dies to get closer to net shape. We've got a few threads here on the subject.

    drop hammer photos?

    A lot of the forging threads are older, but there's some newish ones too.

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    Guys I had always been told that 4140 SS was such a good solid and stable quality metal it is not forged. Yet I have never forged anything myself.

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    If your going to fully shape the oustide, may pay to look at the cost of simply plasma cut and then give them a anneal, may work out far more cost effective on small parts than the aditional cost of slow old water jet.

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    Those are not drop hammers in the first video Milland linked, but a powered press of some type. With a drop hammer the upper die descends under the power of gravity.

    A power hammer may be able to rough form your shape with flat dies. I think a 100# mechanical hammer would be satisfactory.

    As far as forging 4140, it is forged frequently. Forging has nothing to do with the stability of the steel, but is about proper grain flow for strength, economy of material, and reduced manufacturing time.

    My 260# hammer is still in pieces or I would gladly make a few samples for you. I think my 50 would be to small to do a good job.

    You might contact member Reis, as he has a lot of forging experience and has working hammers.

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    You should check out the work of Nathan Robertson, one of the best hammer makers currently working in the USA today. All forged, to within 10% of final shape, hot drifted tapered holes for the handles, and then hand ground to finish shape. His hammers are a work of art. He has a bunch of little videos showing various parts of the process. Yes, they are on facebook. He doesnt have a website, doesnt put em on youtube- he doesnt need to- he sells every hammer he makes. Jackpine Forge - Sometimes one bolster just isn't enough....

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    Thanks to you all for the responses.

    I’m a home shop, hobby guy so all the equipment I have is small, worn out and/or cobbled together. I work in the garage and don’t have room for things like power forging hammers. I would love to learn blacksmithing but don’t have the space – or probably the time.

    I’ve made and sold about 100 hammers. This is just a hobby. I find it easier and faster to make money as a consulting engineer.

    The band saw cuts are all on a radius so I use jigs with a pivot to do them. It usually works if everything is set up right but my saw likes to wander. A weight on a cord over a pulley pulls the piece through the saw so all I have to do is control the end of the cut so it doesn’t crash. I have guided them through the saw by hand following a line but it takes a lot of time. The band saw is junk and that is of course a big part of my problem. I’m watching for a better saw but room in the garage is a concern.

    I have considered roughing the shape and finishing up on a rotary table but my toy mill isn’t up to the job and the rotary table I have isn’t big enough. I don’t have a CNC anything.

    I get the impression that water jet cutting is slow and expensive.

    66.jpg
    2018-2-26-16-hammers.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by gbent View Post
    Those are not drop hammers in the first video Milland linked, but a powered press of some type. With a drop hammer the upper die descends under the power of gravity.

    A power hammer may be able to rough form your shape with flat dies. I think a 100# mechanical hammer would be satisfactory.

    As far as forging 4140, it is forged frequently. Forging has nothing to do with the stability of the steel, but is about proper grain flow for strength, economy of material, and reduced manufacturing time.

    My 260# hammer is still in pieces or I would gladly make a few samples for you. I think my 50 would be to small to do a good job.

    You might contact member Reis, as he has a lot of forging experience and has working hammers.

    Ok ok thanks to you and Milland. Like I say forging is a unknown area but looks like it would be fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanMerrick View Post
    Thanks to you all for the responses.

    I’m a home shop, hobby guy so all the equipment I have is small, worn out and/or cobbled together. I work in the garage and don’t have room for things like power forging hammers. I would love to learn blacksmithing but don’t have the space – or probably the time.

    I’ve made and sold about 100 hammers. This is just a hobby. I find it easier and faster to make money as a consulting engineer.

    The band saw cuts are all on a radius so I use jigs with a pivot to do them. It usually works if everything is set up right but my saw likes to wander. A weight on a cord over a pulley pulls the piece through the saw so all I have to do is control the end of the cut so it doesn’t crash. I have guided them through the saw by hand following a line but it takes a lot of time. The band saw is junk and that is of course a big part of my problem. I’m watching for a better saw but room in the garage is a concern.

    I have considered roughing the shape and finishing up on a rotary table but my toy mill isn’t up to the job and the rotary table I have isn’t big enough. I don’t have a CNC anything.

    I get the impression that water jet cutting is slow and expensive.

    66.jpg
    2018-2-26-16-hammers.jpg

    Really nice hammer. That is art.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ries View Post
    You should check out the work of Nathan Robertson, one of the best hammer makers currently working in the USA today. All forged, to within 10% of final shape, hot drifted tapered holes for the handles, and then hand ground to finish shape. His hammers are a work of art. He has a bunch of little videos showing various parts of the process. Yes, they are on facebook. He doesnt have a website, doesnt put em on youtube- he doesnt need to- he sells every hammer he makes. Jackpine Forge - Sometimes one bolster just isn't enough....
    I really get excited when someone here on PM really enjoys something and pours good honest labor and skills to make something unique. Rise Thankyou for the interesting link.

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    Em .. contact anyone with a modern CNC mill.
    Say Brother or small Haas.

    Ask for these to be done as a fill-in job when no other work is critical.
    Emphasize zero concerns with accuracy vs modern cnc stuff.
    As-is from machine is fine for your use.

    It will possibly cost you (much) less than your bandsaw approach.
    And be more accurate.
    And any decorative stuff can be carved in foc.

    Potentially, you might get blanks made for less than your current cost of materials.

    If you work with your new cnc supplier, have them do odd size batches, pre-pay, you can get their price breaks on 300 tons of material costs, because you ride along and they use their remnants to do your bits in the odd free time.
    I really really suggest You pre-pay.

    That will get you 20x cheaper pricing on a volume basis - immediately - and very good free consultancy on how to do your bits cheaply and efficiently.
    ANYONE who pre-pays is by definition a major industrial customer worth of serious effort.

    1.25" steel cut to shape has a hard cost around 1-5$.
    A medium VF4 might do 30 in one hour for 120$, but maybe 2$ less/part than your current materials cost.
    There is no way you bandsaw stuff for less than 8$/part.

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    Yes !
    Like the miniatures from one contributor, or automation, or saws from another.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spinit View Post
    I really get excited when someone here on PM really enjoys something and pours good honest labor and skills to make something unique.
    Rise Thankyou for the interesting link.

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    [QUOTE=hanermo;3249828]Em .. contact anyone with a modern CNC mill.
    Say Brother or small Haas.

    Ask for these to be done as a fill-in job when no other work is critical.
    Emphasize zero concerns with accuracy vs modern cnc stuff.
    As-is from machine is fine for your use.

    It will possibly cost you (much) less than your bandsaw approach.
    And be more accurate.
    And any decorative stuff can be carved in foc.

    Potentially, you might get blanks made for less than your current cost of materials.

    If you work with your new cnc supplier, have them do odd size batches, pre-pay, you can get their price breaks on 300 tons of material costs, because you ride along and they use their remnants to do your bits in the odd free time.
    I really really suggest You pre-pay.

    That will get you 20x cheaper pricing on a volume basis - immediately - and very good free consultancy on how to do your bits cheaply and efficiently.
    ANYONE who pre-pays is by definition a major industrial customer worth of serious effort.

    1.25" steel cut to shape has a hard cost around 1-5$.
    A medium VF4 might do 30 in one hour for 120$, but maybe 2$ less/part than your current materials cost.
    There is no way you bandsaw stuff for less than 8$/part.[/QUOTE

    Makes great advice Han. Did you note the points on forging? I think that adds a lot of extra work and stuff to do it. What do you think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gbent View Post
    Those are not drop hammers in the first video Milland linked, but a powered press of some type. With a drop hammer the upper die descends under the power of gravity.
    Dangit. Well, figured someone would set things straight if I made a mistake...

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    Any of my cnc mills would eat those up. 100 or so at a whack would get good pricing.

    My advise is DO NOT ask any shop with Haas or Brother machines to quote these.

    Find a shop with brick shit house heavy machines like an older Mori or Okuma.

    A 20 ton 50 taper mill with 30hp and will plow right through 1.25" thick steel like it's not there.


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