Choosing and Using Hammers

My Favorite Hammers

Here are a few tips to help you choose and use metalsmithing hammers.

  • The heavier it is the faster it moves metal.  BUT don’t choose a hammer that is so heavy it tires you out quickly.  You want to be able to control it.
  • Don’t hold the handle near the head of the hammer.  The handle works as a lever and if you hold it loosely further down the shaft it does most of the work for you.  Oh, and bend at the elbow, not at the wrist.
  • You get what you pay for.  Specialty hammers can be expensive.  A good hammer can last you a lifetime if you re-handle and refinish it occasionally.  Cheap hammers can have badly attached handles and sometimes the heads aren’t tempered correctly causing them to shatter when struck too hard.
  • Hit your metal squarely with the hammer, not on an angle.
  • Keep your work surface low enough not to cause discomfort.  Stand in front of your work surface with the hammer touching the metal.  Your forearm should be perpendicular to your body.  It can slant slightly downward, but never upward.  This helps combat fatigue and tennis elbow.