When working in the blacksmith trade, the most important tool you will use is probably a hammer. Hammering your weld requires a certain amount of force upon the metal, so many individuals wonder how much of that force comes from the hammer and how much from the person using it.
In this article I will cover which hammers blacksmiths generally use, what a blacksmith hammer is used for, and which hammer overall is the best for your personal skill level and experience in forging metal.
What Is a Blacksmith Hammer Used For?
The main role of using a hammer while forging is to move and shape the metal in the direction that you want it to go. The die you use will also determine the direction that the metal will go, but the hammer still plays a significant role.
Therefore, it is important to review and analyze the different types of hammers at your disposal to decide which style and function work for you.
Hammers Used in Blacksmithing
Some people may reason that “a hammer is a hammer” and that all types achieve basically the same result. However, this is not the case in blacksmithing.
There are a few key hammers that blacksmiths are known to use to achieve the best results in the process of forging.
The size and weight of a hammer that a blacksmith will use largely depends on their skill level and overall strength.
The different types of hammers are as follows:
- Ball Pein hammer – This type of hammer has a rounded pein. It’s mostly used for rounding edges of pins and fasteners. It’s also used for closing rivets and shaping metal.
- Cross Pein Hammer – This hammer is very similar to the ball pein in its application. It is, however, best used for shaping soft and/or softened metals.
- Blacksmiths/ Sledgehammer – This hammer is a type of sledgehammer used primarily for shaping red-hot steel on an anvil. The second head on the hammer is slightly tapered and rounded.
- Power hammer – This type of hammer is a stationery forging hammer that relies on compressed air. It moves a large piston up and down to hammer and shapes the material. It’s most often used for forging steel.
- Welding hammer – Also referred to as a chipping hammer, this hammer has a round chisel at one end and a vertical pein. The spring-like handle helps to lower the heat during the welding process. This hammer is generally used to remove slag once the weld bead has had a chance to cool down.
It is important to note that not all hammers serve the same purpose during forging metal. They are used in a set of various applications, so when choosing which hammer you will use, it is important to choose based on what you will be using the hammer for.
What Is the Best Hammer for Forging?
In the blacksmith community, there is much debate on which type of hammer is the best for general use.
Many regard the Ball Pein hammer as being the best choice, as it’s applicable in more than just one area of forging. However, depending on the project you are working on, it may be wise to consider more than one type of hammer.
The Intended Use of Each Hammer
All forging hammers have the main purpose to shape metal in a certain direction.
Depending on areas such as your time frame for your project, or the type of metal you are forging with, you may want to consider the other applications that certain hammers can be used for besides simply shaping metal.
Some examples are as follows:
- Power Hammer – Because this hammer works automatically instead of manually, it may speed up the forging process. This could be useful if the project you are working on has a deadline, or if you’re unable to dedicate large amounts of time by hammering manually.
- Welding Hammer – This hammer is a viable choice for a variety of projects, as its function can be applied to more than one area of forging. The spring-shaped handle helps to lower the heat of the metal that you’re forging, quickening the process of the weld. The chisel-like function of the hammer itself can be used to remove the leftover slag from your metal piece, which is helpful in quickening the clean-up process afterward.
The above options are good choices for projects that require a more precise weld, or a faster pace.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that the use of a power hammer specifically will not necessarily improve your forging skill by its own function.
Therefore, if you are a beginner/hobbyist, you may want to divert your attention to a hammer that relies more on personal skill.
Now that you’ve taken a look at the options for which hammers you may use, it is vital that you analyze your choices based on the style of forging you are familiar with.
The Style of Forging
Every blacksmith works at their own level of comfort, and over time their style of forging may fluctuate after gaining more experience.
So when it comes to choosing the right hammer, it is important to choose a hammer that is not too difficult to wield. This is especially true for beginners and hobbyists.
When using a lighter hammer (generally around 2.5 lbs (1 kg)) a blacksmith will usually hold the hammer further from their head. This enables them to strike the metal with higher velocity in order to generate the right amount of force upon the metal. This requires a bit more strength from their upper body.
Blacksmiths who use a heavier hammer will generally gravitate towards a hammer weight of 3.5lb (1.5kg) or 4.5lb (2kg). They tend to use a slower motion, allowing the hammer weight to do more of the work, and they hold it closer to their head.
It is generally recommended to begin with a hammer weighing at about 3-3.5 lbs (1.5 kg), as it is a rather neutral weight, neither being too heavy or too light. As you further your forging skills, you may gravitate towards a big and heavier or small and lighter hammer, depending on which style of forging suits you best.
A recommended neutral weight hammer would be the Tekton Jacketed Fiberglass Ball Pein Hammer (Amazon affiliate link), as it is available in a variety of weights, up to about 3 lbs. This hammer is specifically recommended for minor projects, so if you are a hobbyist or smith part-time, this is a good choice regardless of the style you prefer to use.
For the average blacksmith, a hammer weighing at 2-3 pounds is the most viable option. There are, however, a variety of hammers to choose from, and depending on your personal skill and style in wielding a hammer, the weight of the hammer you use may vary.
If you are an experienced blacksmith, you can take advantage of any of these choice hammers and styles of forging, as they are all good choices for various types of projects.
If, however, you are a hobbyist, it is recommended that you start with a hammer of medium weight, which will enable you to improve your skills without strain, and eventually move you up to trying out different types of hammers and forging styles.
I hope this article was useful. Thanks for reading and have fun with your future blacksmithing projects!
Cheers, tools owners!