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  • Larry Davis

A Deal on a Knife Making Tool

Updated: Nov 13, 2018


Working with ball bearing steel will wear out a young arm in no time at all, and I’m not young! Extending the useful life of an “older” arm that seems to relish aches and pains for no apparent reason requires equipment. Sadly, that generally requires money. A power hammer would be my salvation. A couple of evenings on the internet combined with word of mouth references led me to a hammer in Kansas, a 50 pounder. And the price was a couple of thousand less than a fully reconditioned hammer. I assumed it was not in great shape, but as long as it hammered, it would serve my light duty purposes.


My son and I headed west from Elkhart, IN. We arrived in Kansas the next morning and witnessed the hammer in action. It made quick work of some cold mild steel. It also seemed to be less sleek than the hammers I had used in the past. The owner pointed out that the ram (hammer) was a little sloppy between the gibs, and gave us the replacement parts he had purchased to remedy the condition. He explained that the flywheel brake lining needed to be replaced too. I am casting no aspersions. The owner is an honest man and did not misrepresent the machine in anyway. Life was good.


Once wired and operational in my shop, the lack of control from the flywheel “brake” (inability to stop the hammer) and the ¼” of slop at the ram became worrisome, especially after receiving 2” diameter slugs of material that would need some serious hammering to reduce to knife stock. This model machine is rated for 3” rounds, but in its current condition would soon self-destruct with heavy use. So I called “a guy” that might know “a guy” that could help. (It is good to know “a guy” or two.) After choking on the price to bring it back into condition and stalling for a couple of weeks, I delivered this 2000# beast to a capable machine rebuilder.


After doing his research, he called to ask what color to paint it. I’m good with maroon. During the conversation he mentioned that the brake I wanted reworked and cleaned up is a workaround and not original, hence the less than sleek appearance of the machine. When working properly, the maple wood clutch provides variable speed and force control – yes, maple as in a tree. I will soon have my power hammer back in reconditioned order (with wear and impact resistant bronze lined gibs!), albeit a tortuous path, at a total investment of purchasing a reconditioned machine in the first place…just a day in the life of a knife maker story. I’m leaving the moral and conclusions to you – I only ask that you be kind. Remember I’m seasoned.


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