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Doug Ayen

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Quick notes [Jul. 10th, 2002|02:14 pm]
Doug Ayen
Just got off the phone with Sid Sudemeyer, the current world's expert on Little Giant power hammers (and owner of the company as of a few years ago). He thinks that my dovetail may be misshapen due to wear, and that's why the base block keeps squirting out under use. I think I'll spend some time in the workshop taking measurements to see if this is the case. If it is, then I'll need to grind the dovetail so that it matches the angle of the bottom die, then check with the key and some prussian blue to make sure that I've got full contact on all three sides of the die.

The big danger is the main spring, which has a tendency to explode and send shards into the head of the user if you don't replace the spring every so often. Mine was replaced recently, so I'm safe. Well, reasonably safe. As safe as you can be with a machine designed to slam a 50 lb hammer into whatever is on its anvil 320 times a minute.

It's one of the two machines I have that I'm actively afraid of. The other one is the belt grinder, which is designed to remove whatever is touching its belt -- metal, wood, fingers, hair, you name it.

I guess I have a hobby that has a lot of danger involved . . . if you're careless. For me, that's part of the challenge -- since I know I *have* to be careful, methodical, painstaking, and exact, it actually makes me work at it instead of just plodding though it. I do occasionally get hurt, usually through doing something stupid, but rarely anything serious. Eye/ear/lung/hand protection, or whatever is appropriate for what I'm doing, *always*. No shortcuts -- if there is risk involved, stop and remove the risk, or at least minimize it to the point where the "risk" is minimal (i.e. I might get a blister or cut, but not lose a hand or an eye.) For example, when casting bronze, I always wear cotton, wool, leather, or other natural fabrics. That way, if I manage to set myself on fire (again) I may get a slight burn, but the fabric won't melt onto my skin, requiring surgery and skin grafts. I may lose some hair, though, and get a mild burn.

Just some thoughts.