On Wednesday I got a brand spankin’ new sinking hammer. It’s heavier than the one I’ve been using and will sink much faster and without the smaller marks that my current hammer has been leaving in the metal. I went outside and took some sexy photos of it to share with you.
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.
Yesterday was my first Rivet Pendant workshop and it went pretty well (See, I refrained from saying “smashing.”) I do probably need to make it a little bit longer, but everyone was able to finish at least one pendant. Interestingly, only the guys actually put theirs on the cord during class…
There were a fair number of people there with prior metalwork experience, so they all decided to draw their own patterns, getting pretty crazy at times. It was really neat to see all the different versions of the same project. Hopefully, I’ll be able to offer this class again sometime. (Hint, hint, if you know of a place that might like to offer it, hook us up)
PS – My next workshop is the Sinking a Bowl workshop in conjunction with the 2012 Super “Bowl” Challenge on January 28-29th, 2012 at Millersville University.