***Better Know Your Hammer – the book is now available as a paperback or ebook! It includes info about all these hammers plus a glossary, hammer resources, and info on why hammers work the way they do and tips on using and buying one. (updated 7/2011)***
A lot is made about what metal hammers you should use for each task, but there are a lot of non-metal hammers out there in the world that deserve a little love too. I use these hammers for a variety of tasks-things like bouging (relaxing the metal a bit after sinking or raising before I anneal and start the next round), light forming, tube making, and fold-forming.
Many of you are familiar with the rawhide mallet. When I was in school I had the impression that all rawhides were soft. Boy was I surprised when I received my first new one. It was actual rawhide like dog chews. It marred my metal at first because it was too hard. You can soften it up by using it or by hammering/scraping the pavement. Or I guess you could chew on it, but I don’t recommend that. There are also wood mallets, rubber, lead filled rubber or plastic, nylon, delron, the list goes on.
I have actually made my own delron tube forming hammer that I love. It has one flat side (useful for almost everything) and one vertical cross pein side. I chose vertical because this helps immensely when forming tubing. I don’t actually form much tubing lately, but it also helps me with my fold-forming of thin width, thicker gauge pieces.
The best thing to do is to experiment (if possible) and find out which of these hammers works best for you. You might decide to only use one kind, or you might have a different hammer for each task (my personal dream).