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Old 09-06-2007, 11:23 PM
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$129 HF Planishing Hammer Review

I made my semi annual trek to Harbor Freight last week and bought their $129 planishing hammer.

As you can see from the picture this is basically an air chisel mounted in a C type bench frame which holds a bottom anvil. There is a special "bit" which fits in the air chisel for the "striking" head. The machine comes with a foot control...which is one of the primary reason I bought the ready made machine rather than trying to build my own.

As with many HF tools, the planishing hammer has a couple weaknesses...but nothing which can't be fixed. The air chisel is held in place (well, ATTEMPTED to be held in place) by one little set screw threaded into the frame. No matter how hard you try to tighten that little booger down, it only takes about 30-40 seconds of operation to vibrate the thing loose. To solve this problem I drilled and threaded two additional holes in the frame and inserted bolts and locking nuts as shown in the second photo below. Seems to work just fine now.

The other minor weakness was the pin which holds the lower anvil support in place. It had one of those little ball/spring retainers at the end so that you could quickly insert and remove the pin. It took about three minutes for the ball and spring to head for la la land (a dark and unknown corner of my shop). My fix (shown in the third photo) was just to drill out the ball hole and use a simple snap pin.

The last photo is of a little cycle shaped piece I rough formed on my stump and than ran through the planishing hammer and then my E-Wheel. I have maybe 4-5 hours tops fiddling with my new stump, planishing hammer, and E-Wheel, so I'm encouraged that these tools are going to be able to produce the type of pieces I need for my body fabrications.

If the hammer holds up over time, I think it is going to be a very helpful tool for my metal shaping. It takes the "walnuts" out of the metal I have beaten on the stump fairly quickly and easily. Clearly this is a "hobbyist" level machine and is not meant for a production type shop. But for my purposes and semi-frequent use, I'm giving it a definite thumbs up...at least until I bust it.








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Old 09-07-2007, 06:34 AM
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Since you now have the hammer and the wheel, can you look at this door part and tell me which tool would be better to have (or both).

This is the top of a 32 cabriolet door. I would only be making the upper half, as I already have the original heavy beltline detail that is just above the main flat part of the door skin. This part does not lay flat, it has a curve.

I have a brake and wondered if they used a brake to get the main creases first?, and then tried to curve it to the shape of the door?

Also, How noisey is that hammer?

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Old 09-07-2007, 07:34 AM
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It appears to be made from steel which would be weldable so it could be repaired/reinforced if the need arises, unlike that crappy non-weldable iron material they cast a lot of parts from that once broken/bent is then nothing more than a bunch of scrap metal. I have had to make several modifications to various tools bought from HF, like that ball and spring retainer you mentioned, and sometimes just like the simple snap clip you used the repair is simpler and cheaper to do in the first place so it kind of makes me wonder if they don't intend for some of this stuff to fail? I see you also have one of those "black holes" in your shop (the disappearing ball and spring) like the one mine is cursed with that swallows up anything dropped never to be seen again.
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F&J
Since you now have the hammer and the wheel, can you look at this door part and tell me which tool would be better to have (or both)....

Also, How noisey is that hammer?
F&J,

I now OWN these machines, but I'm far too inexperienced to give you any advice on which might be better for the part you are making. Hopefully one of the more veteran metal shapers will catch this thread and give you some direction. If nobody responds, I'd join up over at Metalmeet and ask your question there. Those guys are just spilling over with metal bending knowledge. http://www.metalmeet.com/

Regarding the noise (and vibration), it's actually a lot less than I expected. But then I wear hearing aids in both ears and they digitally dampen down any loud or sharp noises. During my practice runs I haven't even felt the need to reach for the ear muffs...but I really ought to just to stay on the safe side.

One of the interesting "features" of the hammer is a small access hole in the frame provided so that you can fill the hollow frame with sand. They claim this reduces both noise and vibration. I filled mine right away so I don't have a "before and after" comparison to give you.

One small comparison I CAN make is that the HF palm nailer I bought to also use for working metal is a LOT louder than the planishing hammer. That one pretty much screams for ear protection.
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Old 09-07-2007, 01:42 PM
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Cboy...the only other thing I think you may want to do, is where the welds are at the back (all of the angled pieces in the throat) is to throw a gusset or plate on each side. Being that the hammer is Chinese made the welds are crap. The reason I say that is at work I have reworked a few items that are made in China and I don't know what type of rod they use but it is a weak point. If you would put a small triangulated piece on each side it will hold up great. Although it does not get upwards pressure like something as an arbor press, the constant small pressure will more than likely crack in a joint. Other than that, I may look into one myself BTW...nice piece of work you did. I guess that is the start of the corners of the cab. I can hear it now to the the tune of Monster Garage. CBOY...CBOYS GARAGE
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Old 09-07-2007, 05:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin45
I guess that is the start of the corners of the cab.
That piece is, indeed, quite similar to the rear cab corner curve...but I took it pretty far beyond the actual corner shape I need just to make sure I could do it and keep everything shrinking and shaping in a uniform fashion.

And thanks for the tip on the gussets. I may wait for a stress line of fracture to form before I "plate up". But it's good to know there's a solution out there should it happen.
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Old 09-14-2007, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldred
: I see you also have one of those "black holes" in your shop (the disappearing ball and spring) like the one mine is cursed with that swallows up anything dropped never to be seen again.

There is an alternate universe where the black hole in the corner of the garage makes stuff appear. They're all the time getting new tools, bolts, springs and check balls.

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Old 09-14-2007, 04:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aminga
There is an alternate universe where the black hole in the corner of the garage makes stuff appear. They're all the time getting new tools, bolts, springs and check balls.

It all appears in the direct center of the portion of the floor under the lowest vehicle in the shop and leaves someone in the Twilight Zone saying where the %^&%*&^*$#&%^ does this go

Shane
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Old 09-14-2007, 09:53 PM
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Keep a drain pan full of used oil in an easily accessable location, all dropped tools, parts, cell phones and cigarette packs will automatically land in the drain pan..............
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Old 09-19-2007, 08:16 AM
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Help

My shop is getting too small (40 x 120) I have a 4 ft x 4 ft southworth lift table recessed into the floor in the metal working area. I welded the small mini van receiver hitch tubes around the inside perimiter, some square and others at 45'. my tools have the slide in bar welded to them. I also welded recievers to my flat bed truck and trailer. I can drop the tools in and raise the table to convenient height, Planishing hammer, bead roller, tubing notcher. small brake, hossfield bender, wrought iron curler. vice, pipe vise, etc. next tools my son says we have to build is a helve power hammer, pulmax type tool, grip jaw shrinker, stretcher. The farm is being rezoned light industrial and we can change from horse pasture to Antique auto restoration with the city blessings. taxes went from $900 to $2700 !! ouch !! that takes a bite out of the social security. check
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Old 09-19-2007, 08:25 AM
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corrigated door part

I would make a die out of a piece of pipe and shaft and use the hydralic press and stamp it. brake the lines or bead roll them
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Old 09-19-2007, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timothale
I have a 4 ft x 4 ft southworth lift table recessed into the floor in the metal working area. I welded the small mini van receiver hitch tubes around the inside perimiter, some square and others at 45'. my tools have the slide in bar welded to them.
Sometime when you have a chance, snap and post a couple pictures of your setup.
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Old 09-19-2007, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
corrigated door part

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I would make a die out of a piece of pipe and shaft and use the hydralic press and stamp it. brake the lines or bead roll them
Thanks for a good idea on pressing it. I don't think I could use the brake as it is a compound curve, but the roller might work.
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Old 08-13-2014, 12:37 PM
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I know folks frown on bringing up old threads, however, I want to know if you still get use from this tool or if its a dust collector. Maybe you've upgraded? Curious to know you review "updated" as of several years later.

Thinking about getting one.

Thanks!
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Old 08-13-2014, 01:17 PM
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my HF P-hammer is pretty useful for metal shaping. I love it! The only gripe I have is the rubber ball thingy on the bottom interferes in tight areas. not really an issue when you plan accordingly and do things in the right steps so the least important areas are the spots with less access. I would recommend it to anyone doing hobby style metal shaping.

My grizzly bench wheel??? I would NOT recommend that to anyone. I should have gotten the HF one.
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