Practically, you can strike anything with just any hammer. As such, any hammer will work for a metalwork operation. However, not all hammer types are good for blacksmithing. The use of the wrong hammer for a peculiar task will lead to tiring metalworking. To avoid this, seasoned blacksmiths use a kind of hammer known as forge or blacksmith hammer.
Forge hammers, occasionally considered an extended hand of the blacksmith, are handheld tools and are designed for use on metal works brought out from the furnace. They are operated by holding onto the handle and striking down on works to either break or shape them.
Anatomy of the Forge Hammer
Hammers are distinguished by their heads depending on the activity they are engaged in. Usually, most hammers are made of wooden handles, although several others have metal and composite handles. The handle of hammers does not define the type of the hammers; they could all be of the same shape but part of hammers of varying types. Woods from hickory or other hardwoods are what the handles are made of. These woods are known for their ability to withstand consistent shocks from blows, durability, and ability to defy breakage.
Handles made of a composite material like fiber-reinforced epoxy or fiberglass are better than metal and wooden options. They are not only durable and strong but are light too. Most composite handles, including some steel options, are covered in polycarbonate resin to improve their chemical resistance and shock absorption. And if a hammer misses its target when swung, the impact from such is effectively contained by the handle. Thanks to the resin encasement.
The head of any forge hammer has two faces. One used for striking is conventionally flat. The other is shaped depending on the secondary purpose the hammer is intended for. Due to the striking purpose they serve, forge hammers have heads made of high carbon, heat-treated alloy steel. Heat treatment of the head ensures they are resistant to cracks repeated blows could cause.
The Different Types of Blacksmith Hammer
Blacksmith hammers are usually diverse and numerous. Practically, you might encounter some specialized types of hammers employed to use by blacksmiths. These are necessary for specialized tasks. However, three types of hammers are usually used by blacksmiths, and they are:
- Cross peen hammers
- Ball peen hammers
- Rounding hammers
Cross Peen Hammers
The cross peen hammer is the most common blacksmithing hammer. Although it is usually used for hammering and riveting operations, it could be used for several other purposes. Highly recommended for novices, the cross peen hammer ensures a degree of safety of the hand while hammering a small piece of metal or object.
Ball Peen Hammers
Like the cross peen hammer, ball peen hammers have two faces, one being flat while the other takes the shape of a ball or, more descriptively, a hemisphere. The ball-shaped end of the hammer is used in bending or flattening a heated metal in operations known as peening. Ball peen hammers are common in households due to their multi-purpose characteristic. Among other types of hammers, you would likely see a ball-peen hammer in hardware stores, and they are cheaply priced.
Rounding hammers are pretty much different from the other types of hammers. One face of the hammer, known as the rounding face, ensures blows are directed to the particular point required on the work. The other end of the head, referred to as the flat face, is used to smoothen off the beaten surface to attain an appropriate shape. What enables rounding hammers to stand apart from other flat-edged hammers is the one round edge that allows the effective spread of work while hammering.
Sledgehammers and How They are Made
Sledgehammers are special kinds of hammers. They are different from blacksmith hammers due to their design. Rather than possess comfortable weight at their heads, sledgehammers have considerable weight acutely concentrated there. Concentrating this relatively increased weight on the head ensures the impact on a surface is great while hammering with it.
A sledgehammer is created through the following process:
The metal bar in which the head is to be formed is heated to about 1200°C.
The bar is pieced into several sections and poured into a die within the forge.
After the head has been formed, it is retracted from the forge and left to solidify and cool.
Upon cooling, the head is heat-treated to harden the metal against chipping and cracking. The head is thereafter cleaned and polished.
The handle is formed by working a piece of wood on a lathe to produce a required shape.
A wood ledge is inserted into the gap left when the handle slides into the hammer-head to assemble the head and handle. A Steel wedge is then driven in to secure the wood wedge. For a sledgehammer with a metal or composite handle, the gap left after the handle and head are inserted is filled with epoxy resin to secure it.
Power Forge Hammers
Power hammers are distinguished, powerful, and larger than all other kinds of hammers. Typical power forge hammers are driven by air, steam, or mechanical exertions. Usually, there's an anvil on which work is placed. A hammer-head strikes down on the work with a force that cannot be obtained from traditional hammers. Power hammers are the most expensive kind of hammers, and for one to operate them, prior training is required.
How to Choose Your Hammer For Blacksmithing
The selection of hammer type influences the quality of a workpiece during the blacksmithing operations. An appropriate hammer selection is hinged upon several factors, and these factors must be taken into consideration during the purchase decision.
One such factor is weight. It is recommended that a hammer light enough to be handled effectively be purchased except for jobs requiring intensive flattening.
Another consideration before purchasing a blacksmith hammer is the type of hammer appropriate for the job it is intended for. For example, cross peen hammers and ball peen hammers are used to perform two different blacksmith operations easily.
A blacksmith could do with an anvil, a forge, and a hammer as tools for some basic metalwork operations. To bend metals, at least a piece of forge hammer is required; they are indispensable to any blacksmith. These hammers are of different types. And if the right type is not engaged for a particular operation, the outcome of the workpiece will be bad. As such, the need for research, purchase, and use of appropriate hammers during blacksmithing cannot be understated.