James Nasmyth, the son of Alexander Nasmyth, the painter, was born in Edinburgh in 1808, He left school at 12 and became an assistant to Henry Maudslay, and English toolmaker.
After Maudslay died in 1831, Nasmyth moved to Manchester where he started a workshop manufacturing machine tools, locomotives and other machinery. In 1839 he invented the steam hammer for making large steel forgings. His hammer was first used by Isambard Kingdom Brunel to make the propeller shaft for his steamship Great Britain.
Other inventions by Nasmyth includes a steam pile-driver, a planing machine and a hydraulic punching machine. He wrote about his achievements in his book, Remarks on Tools and Machinery(1858). James Nasmyth died in 1890.