My interest in blacksmithing goes back to when I was a young boy in the 1950's.
I was a town boy in North Dakota, but I spent my summers on relatives farms. One had a blacksmith shop, others took damaged equipment to blacksmiths for repair.
I watched, was intrigued, but had no involvement except sometimes pumping the bellows for my uncle that had the blacksmith shop on his farm. Fast forward through school, some time in the military and a civilian career involving computers.
When I retired, in 2003, I decided my retirement hobby was going to be blacksmithing.
I had already played with it a little. I took some beginning classes and was hooked.
I participated in a several online blacksmith forums from the start, learning about power hammers.
After a couple years I was using mechanical power hammers. The forums were buzzing about home built-air hammers that sounded interesting.
I knew I could build one mechanically, but never really understood how the air circuits worked…. and I wasn’t able to find documentation anywhere to help me. At least none that I could follow.
Finally, in late 2016, I decided it was time for me to scratch that itch. I had diagrams I had found online as well as notes from my friend John Larson (owner of IronKiss Hammers).
I spent months going back through forum archives, some from years before I started to participate, and consolidated all the discussions about components and performance issues.
I had compiled a list of components, a diagram and a desire to learn how it all actually works.
My goal was to write the document I had been looking for, in terms I, and others like me, could understand and use to build our own air hammer. It took a few weeks to organize and write the first iteration of the document.
I had figured out how a simple air circuit works.
Then…. I found the copy of “Plans for the Simple Air Hammer” written by Ron Kinyon in the early 1990’s. I had bought it years earlier when I was first interested in this.
I found that all the basic information is in Ron’s document, but, at that time, I couldn’t understand it… It was like reading a foreign language… at least with regards to the terminology.
It makes sense now…
I also found, that the core of the air circuit in my document is actually the same as the Kinyon air circuit design.
The document I wrote, however, hopefully is significantly different . It’s primarily focused on operations and air circuit design.
I explain all the terms, how each component works and interacts with other components.
That, and my hammer build instructions are in videos, not on paper. The diagram, and installation process I have documented, includes some performance enhancement guidelines and additional features, such as single-hit and clamping.
The next logical step was to prove that what I wrote actually works. After a couple weeks of playing with differing designs for the air hammer, I decided to build one roughly based upon the “Bull” hammer. A design first introduced by Bill Troszak around 1996. It was unusual in that the cylinder was below the ram. I was a little apprehensive about the fabrication using round stock.
My Ah Ha moment came when I thought about using square stock and angle iron to tie it all together. This made it fairly easy to build. Then I added a table.
When others saw it, they asked what I called it. It is different enough from the Bull to have its own name, so I decided to call it The Cricket.
So there you go….
During the development, I posted pictures and videos on Facebook and it generated a lot of attention because of its size.
I took it to several conferences and it had the same reaction. I decided to share what I have learned and how to build it.
I believe…. That if you can weld, have reasonable fabrication skills and have access to fairly basic metalworking tools, you can build this hammer.
There is a series of 10 videos that show how the original Cricket was built, and one more that covers additional advice and lessons learned.
I expect the greatest interest in building this hammer will be by hobby blacksmiths that have limited space and budget. The cost will be determined by how well you do scrounging materials and how much patience you have when you look for air circuit components.
I recommend you use the components I reference in the videos.
If you choose to use other components, select quality components with similar CV valves.
Good luck to all who decide to build this hammer.