Nahum Hersom's Treadle Hammer, & Misc Tools Images

I've finally had a chance to go through the photos Ron posted. What
impressed me most is how LIKE other treadle hammers this one is. That
probably means that they all came from the same source. Whether that
would be Otto Schmirler's treadle hammer or what, I wouldn't know.
BTW, that Name was quite familiar. I don't have any of Otto
Schmirler's books, but they're available. Explore this site for more
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I HATE that picture of Nahum with his hand on the anvil, a 90# (?) ram
poised above it. It hurts just to look at...
The most interesting thing about this treadle hammer is the moveable
anvil. Interesting idea. Not as necessary when the ram moves
vertically, as on the Grasshopper, but interesting, nonetheless. I'll
have to give some thought to a bottom "tool" that enables this. Not
sure I'd ever build one, but thinking about it would be interesting.
I'd envision something that would lock into the hardy hole, and not
require those rear arms or front spring. Just speculation, though...
It is clear from these photos that Nahum's TH does not have a
weightless ram. That rubber block at the top alone would make that
clear. If the hammer has enough momentum at the top of the stroke to
bounce back from that rubber block, then there's energy there that had
to come from the user's leg.
I think it's quite clever that this hammer seems to require being
bolted to the wall. That considerably reduces the structure needed,
not that that would be all that much anyway. Makes it less portable,
but once installed on a pad, who'd want to move it anyway?
Bruce Freeman
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Bruce Freeman
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There is probably little doubt that the origin of the standard treadle hammer design in this country can be traced back to Schmirler. I do need to say that Nahum's is not a copy of Schmirler's hammer. I have the original design of Schmirler's here on my work bench that Nahum used, and it doesn't have any of the fancy improvements that Nahum put on his. Schmirler does have a movable tool holder, but nothing similar to Nahum's. The movable holder is really nice to align special dies, as well as when changing the vertical position of the hammer.
The bump pad at the top is not used. Nahum thought that it would be needed when he originally built it, but the hammer never strikes it. With the highly elastic rubber block that you can see in some of the images under the treadle, the hammer returns effortlessly to exactly the place that it is supposed to go.
The leg has to do work on this hammer, or any other hammer. There is no way to not do work when using a treadle hammer. If the system is designed so that the head is "weightless" you still work to overcome inertia and impart energy into the work. There are a variety of way to make the head "weightless", but no way to not do leg work....
As to Nahum's hand, after 86 years working with tooling of all kinds, he doesn't sweat the small stuff. I do agree with you though. I would not put my hand there.
Bruce Freeman wrote:
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Ronald Reil

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