by Tammy Honaman, Author, Jewelry-Making Expert and Educator,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

There is a lot of thought that goes into the construction of a hammer--the weight and shape of the head, the shape and surface of the face, the length and shape of the handle, the material the head and handle are made from as well as the way they are put together.

When purchasing a hammer, it's important to choose the right hammer for the job considering these features:

Weight - Lighter-weight hammers are for light duty and finer (or thinner) metals; heavier hammers are good for thicker metals and heavy-duty tasks.

Balance - Good weighted balance will help deliver each blow successfully as well as cause less stress on your wrist.

Handle - The handle should pair well in scale with the head of the hammer as well as fit comfortably in your hand. Wooden handles can be modified with sand paper for a better fit. Hold the hammer further back on the handle as this yields a much better blow and causes less stress on your wrist.

Maintenance - Any imperfections on the face of your hammer will transfer to the surface of the metal you are working with. Polish out imperfections on the face of a steelhead hammer with sand- and polishing-papers.

Mallets


Mallets, deliver a good solid blow without a lot of force. They bend metal without stretching or affecting the surface of the metal with marks. Mallets are great for sizing rings on a mandrel, forming wire, and work hardening metal. Heavier-weight mallets can be used to apply force to a dapping punch, metal stamp or other steel tool--they also flatten metal well.

Head: Made from either treated rawhide, hard nylon, rubber or wood.

Handle: Often made from hardwood.

Assembly: The head usually has a hole in the center and the handle inserted and glued in place.

Modification: Mallets are good right out of the packaging and will last a long time.

Specialty Hammers


With care and careful consideration, you can use some of these hammers for more than their originally intended purpose until you are able to build your tool cache--e.g., the round portion of a ball peen hammer is great for adding texture to metal sheet and the flat face can be used for striking metal punches.

The surface of these hammers should be well maintained, kept smooth and free of any nicks, scratches or deep scars. Any marks on the face of the hammer will be imparted to the surface of the metal you will be hammering. The time you put in to keeping your tools in good working order will save you the time it would take to remove unwanted marks in your design--take my word for it!

Ball peen hammer
Used for striking, punching, riveting, shaping and straightening unhardened metal. Can be used to deliver a good strike on the end of a metal tool like a chisel or engraver. The ball end can be used to add decorative patterns and textures to the surface of most metals.
Chasing hammer
Manufactured to be lightweight, comfortable and to have good snap when striking. They are designed for chasing metal--that is, hitting the end of a chasing tool with the face of the chasing hammer. They are also used by silversmiths/goldsmiths for flattening, shaping and forming objects. The small round end can be used for adding decorative patterns and textures to the surface of most metals.

Texture hammer
Each hammer has two textures built right in. Use these to add texture to metal sheet, metal drops or anything metal that needs dimension.


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Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article "Hammers," as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"Excellent article on hammers."
- Arline

"This article about the different types of hammers is very good. Thank you."
- Beth

"I enjoyed the article on hammers, very much. It gave a lot of basic information, that is useful to all jewelry designers. What are her most favorite hammers, and where do we purchase specialty hammers?"
- Shevvy

"Very timely and informative as I want to do more metal work."
- Judy

"I found the article interesting and full of helpful ideas. I did not know, for instance, that there were hammers with patterns for decorating plain metals...thanks."
- JVZ


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