Nahum Hersom's Treadle Hammer, & Misc Tools Images

I promised some time back I would get some images of Nahum Hersom's treadle hammer and make them available. I have compiled a zip file of some 25 images of Nahum's treadle hammer, as well as some of the other amazing tools he has made. All of these tools are made from scrap metal. Most of the shears I have included images of, mount on one of his anvils. I have only included a small number of the shears, punches, belt sanders, and other tools, he has made and equipped his shop with over the last 50 years. When you study these images you will understand why I count myself lucky to have Nahum as my mentor. If you decide to take Nahum's amazing Repousse' course, a once in a lifetime opportunity that will not be available much longer, he will almost certainly bring you up to visit my shop during your week with him. That always amazes me, as if my shop had something to show as compared to the museum his shop is. I think Nahum likes the way my shop looks like an art gallery. Nahum's treadle hammer is unique, has some remarkable features, and is the first treadle hammer in North America. Nahum got the original design form a German living in Germany named Schmeller (Sp?), some 50 years or so ago, and made his after Schmeller's design, adding various features to it. Nahum's hammer is not free standing, but mounts on a wall post, like a post drill. Once you have seen and used the hammer, you may find that this feature is superior to a free standing hammer.

Nahum's hammer is all bearinged with babbit, and is silky smooth to operate. In some of the images of the lower parts of the hammer you can see a little black block under the hammer. It is an adjustable height 2" x 2" block of natural gum rubber that provides amazing spring back to lift the 80 pound hammer head to its return position. This allows him to use less spring tension on the heammer head, making it much easier on the leg muscles. He also has a flip out foot pedal on the treadle. The most remarkable feature is the fully adjustable sliding/pivoting tool holder for the top of the anvil. The hammer height is fully adjustable, and he has made the tool holder fully adjustable to allow precise alignment of the top and bottom dies at all times. It can be rotated, as well as slid anywhere in the X-Y axes of the anvil face. In my images you can see that it has been repositioned between images to demonstrate this remarkable feature.

Here is the link to the 1.3 meg zip file. I will make a brief description of the images below the download link. My list will be in the order of the images, not by subject. BTW, I will be going down to get the original plans that Nahum used to build this hammer, and will scan the portions that are of significance, such as the details of the movable head. Nahum could not find the plans yesterday, but called me last night to tell me he had located them.

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  1. "18 arms" shows the 18" c-c between the pivot bolts of the swing arms.
  2. "Belt sander" used for fine working of edges of Repousse' blanks. Nahum splits sanding belts into very narrow strips, down to 1/4", for use on this machine.
  3. "Double angle wall mount" shows the two angle iron pieces welded together to make his wall mount. He used angle iron instead of channel to obtain parallel inside faces. He said if he had possessed thicker angle iron he would not have added the additional steel for bearing support. Remember, Nahum never goes out to buy metal, uses only the scrap on hand for everything he does except Repousse' sheet stock.
  4. "Double angle wall mount" showing the square rebar adjustable treadle link.
  5. "Lower tool holder" showing the 1" square tool mounting hole and wedge slot in his movable anvil top.
  6. "Lower tool holder1" shows the whole face and 4" x 5" dimensions of the lower tool holder face.
  7. "Movable anvil top" shows the remarkable way he has made the top fully adjustable. The spring on the right prevents any up and down chatter when in use. There is NO lateral movement when it is locked into place.
  8. "Movable anvil top1" showing more detail and the collar to allow rotation.
  9. "Movable anvil top2" showing more detail.
  10. "Nahum" shows Nahum, the grand old man of Repousse', with his hammer.
  11. "Punch" shows one of many hand made punches (covered with sawdust)....mounted on anvil.
  12. "Shear" shows Nahum's version of a Beverly Shear, called the Repousse' Shear. This shear is FAR superior to a Beverly, allowing easy full circle cuts of 20 gage sheet as small as 1/8" in diameter or smaller. My jaw all but fell off the first time I watched Nahum demonstrate this unique shear. The angles are different from a Beverly, and it allows far greater precision and easier cutting. He has several of these shears.
13."Shear 1" showing another view of the previous Repousse' Shear.
  1. "Shear2" shows a straight shear.
  2. "Shear2a" shows a slightly out of focus view of the back side of the previous shear.
  3. "Shear 3" showing a deep throated shear to allow Nahum to cut sharply radiused outlines.
  4. "Shear 4" showeing another straight shear designed to cut smoothly through a sheet without causing the little dimple distortions that often occur at the end of each shearing motion as you advance the metal. The little "dogbone" drawn on the side of the shear in white shows the location and type of linkage that provides the mechanical advantage to operate the blade.
  5. "Tooling" shows some of the treadle hammer tooling.
  6. "Tooling 1" showing the attachment loop used on the treadle hammer tooling to be locked in with a wedge.
  7. "Tooling 2" shows some of the tooling set loosly in place on the hammer. Surprising as it may seem, this set of dies is designed to create perfect 90 degree bends with a 3/8" radius of bend in flat bar stock. Nahum demonstrated it for me on cold bar stock and it does indeed make perfect 90 degree bends in cold or hot stock almost effortlessly.
  8. "Tooling 3" shows Nahum's most used dies, used for normal forging operations.
  9. "Treadle and flip out pedal" showing the flip out pedal extended. This pedal feature is a wonderful extra that makes long duration use much less fatigueing. Notice the black rubber bumper block to the lower left to rebound the hammer head.
  10. "Treadle and flip out pedal1" showing the pedal retracted.
  11. "Upper head" showing the upper die holder.
  12. "Upper tool holder" shows the 1" square tooling shank hole and the 80 pound steel hammer head.

Well, that was a lot of work to put together, but hopefuly some of you will find this zip file to be the treasure of information I think it is. I actually took close to 200 images of his tools and shop yesterday, and plan to take at least 10 times that number in the near future. There is an absolute gold mine of knowledge tied up in his shop and in Nahum's head. One of the things that you get when you take his Repousse' class is some blacksmithing training also. During your time with Nahum he is very open to you exploring all his amazing tools and tooling, and to draw or photograph all you want. He spent a lifetime gathering the knowledge, and much of it is unique. He wantes despirately to share it before he is gone.

Remember, if you reply to me, be sure to put the stamp referred to below, in the Subject line of your e-mail.



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Golden Age Forge

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E-Mail: Boise, Idaho

Reply to
Ron Reil
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I just returned from picking up Nahum's original treadle hammer drawings, and I want to post the correct name for the originator of the hammer, "Otto Schmirler." I also returned with a lot of Schmirler's other work, and his original hammer design that Nahum designed his from. Nahum did make some significant improvements in the original design. I have a 3/4" thick file of fantastic metalwork images, and beautiful designs, as well as the hammer info. Once I get time to explore it in detail I may post some more info for the group.

I also discussed with Nahum my desire to spend several days in his shop making a photographic record of virtually everything in his shop, and he was very open to me doing that. I have free access to everything he has, including his "office" where he has many many thousands of pages of designs and images of tools and metalwork from all over the world. Going though that will take many months to do, and I may consider exploring that archive when I have the tools all imaged.

Nahum has boxes full of prototypes of a huge variety of hot and cold metalwork, including a number of original Yellin pieces buried in with all the rest. Nahum doesn't get too excited about Yellin work, simply because he has original pieces of other European masters who worked concurrently with, or predate, Yellin. If you happen to take his course you will be having to keep from tripping over the boxes full of these pieces. Interestingly enough, Nahum is impressed with a Yellin piece that hangs here in our local no longer used train station. It is a decorative picture frame that he has collected all the history on, and wants me to go up and do a set of images of. I will do so when time permits..hopefully before I am pushing up the daises, or Nahum is.....grin.

One thing for sure, I have decided it is time for me to document Nahum's shop as completely as I can possibly do, not for me, but for the metalworking community overall. If I don't do it, I don't think it will ever get done. And I have a strong feeling that the shop will be broken up and sold off piece by piece when Nahum passes, although it isn't supposed to be.


Reply to
Ron Reil

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