I’ve made many die designs over quite a few years. Now, I’m pretty “set in my ways” about a favorite design. Everyone’s shop setup is different so the information I post about what works for me will need modification to suit other situations.
The subject of die making and die using is a bit complicated and I’m not sure there is a really good beginning point so I’ll just jump in somewhere and see where it goes.
Mostly, I use dies to create special billets which will be worked further by hand to create a product. These are closed dies with top and bottom faces or cavities. The die serves to insure the results are self-similar and that the work progresses quickly. For production work I use my dies mostly with the power hammer.
The die making process, I find to be really interesting and enjoyable. The learning extended over about 15 years and a lot of things I tried didn’t work out. Gradually, I have converted almost all the early die designs to the demountable type I make today.
I think, rather loosely, about the die system as having these parts:
1. The object-forming components. Rather flat face dies are for texturing surfaces and negative space faces form 3-dimensional objects.
2. The spring mechanism. This carries the top die too meet the bottom die in a proper position then returns the top die to the starting position. I make this connection demountable. In building the die this convenience aids adjusting the top die to the correct registration with the bottom die. Thereafter, it allows redressing of the die faces as needed.
3. The platform. The frame to which the forming components and the spring mechanism are attached.
4. The die carriage. The platform seats here when being used. It assures the degree of constraint of position required yet is quickly released for change of dies.
I described the dual-tang carriage I use with my power hammer previously.
In the next installment I’ll show how I usually build a demountable closed die today. Later, I’ll go more into how I use the hydraulic forging press to make the object-forming components.