IForgeIron Lessons in Blacksmithing
Copyright 2002 - 2008 IFORGEIRON, All rights reserved.
LB0004.001 The Hofi Hammer
by Uri Hofi
I want to clarify some subject in this discussion and tell a story.
There is ''no'' ''Czech hammer'' a ''Czech hammer'' is not existing in the Czech republic. The Molnar the Biehal the Josef Muck the Habermann every one of this long time blacksmith families that all of them I know and visited and with all of them with very good relationship are forging with d i f f e r e n t hammer .the hammer that people here and in the us are referring to as the ''Czech hammer'' is the Hofi hammer. It is not a modification of the Habermann hammer (that was invented and forged first by his grandfather). The ''Hofi hammer ''is completely different hammer” and if one looks at the hammer one can see that the design is completely different the balance the handle the longer pien the radiuses and the grinding. The story of the ''Czech'' hammer started when George Dixon in his book on Francis Whitaker the late in the paragraph of hammers. He put a drawing of the Hofi hammer and called it Czech.
In three places in the states the ''Hofi'' hammer is forged
1 At the Ozark School by Mr. Tom Clark that I was teaching at the school for 5 years and Mr. Clark visited my shop in Israel 4 times and I taught him how to forge the Hofi hammer. Tsur Sadan that is now teaching at the Ozark was my student for 4 years at my smithy.
2 The BigBlu by Mr. Dean Curfman that also paid twice a visit to my smithy in Israel twice special to learn how to forge the Hofi hammer and to grind it and also to learn about the quick change system for the air hammer die and about forging other tools that he sells now. The air hammer school is also my idea and I was teaching there the '' free form air hammer system''. Mr. Dean Curfmann also took three classes with me at the Ozark and in NY.
3 Doug Merkel that took also three classes with me two at the Ozark and one at the air hammer BigBlu school.
Now Thomas Dean the story of kissing the hammer.
10 years ago I was invited by BABA to participate in forging elements for the '' niddle'' a huge sculpture the is now located in Newcastle on the side walk along the river. The meeting was in France in doarnane on the brest bay a beautiful fishermen harbor on the channel in brest bay the other side of England. 54 blacksmith from Europe and England took part in the forging meeting.
A young man by the name of clod was following me like a shadow all the time where ever I moved he was there. After three days he dared to ask me: Mr. Hofi how come you are forging with one hammer only and do it easier and faster then all the others? I with my sense of humor answered him very earnest, clod when you enter the smithy in the morning first thing I do is standing opposite to the anvil take the hammer and kiss it then go around the anvil and kiss again when you do it 7 times the hammer will forge alone.
Next morning he came to me and said Mr. Hofi I tried it and it did not help.
A month later clod came to me to my smithy in Israel and stayed 1-1/2 years. Now he is married, has two kids, an he is teaching the Hofi system in France.
This story I am telling every where I teach and also kiss the hammer daily.
The Hofi hammer Cast hammer vs Forged Hammer
To my opinion the cast is better then the forged. The deference is small. An amateur will not fill the difference.
The 6150 steel of the cast is a better steel then the c45. The cast is more balanced because casting on a mold I could arrange the steel in a better and more balanced form and there for more ergonomic. I myself forge today mainly with the cast hammer. There is a belief that the forged because the grain re-organizing is better then the cast. Not any more !!
To day with the lost wax system that the air is leaving the mold from all around the mold and not only from the air outlet the grain dispersion in the cast is better. Even in the industry many parts that were forge are cast today. And it is very interesting also that more and more I sell more cast hammers then forged. The people loves them.
As far as the cast version of the hammer and the hand forged version of the hammer, I have both of them and like each one. I like the beauty of the hand forged hammer but always use the cast hammer. For some reason I like it better when it comes to forging. The difference between cast versus hand forged is more than beauty when it comes to TOOLS. Tools are used to produce work therefore the tolerances may need to be closer than can be achieved when free hand forging a tool. This can be the case with a hammer. When a hammer is forged you cannot get the metal exactly where you want it to go, it will be close but not as close as what can be achieved by casting it. When you are attempting to make a hammer that is as balanced as possible you will only achieve this with a cast hammer, in my opinion. Cast is the only way to precisely control the flow and placement of the steel, and therefore the weight and balance of the hammer. A hand forged vase is a static object not meant to be used to create other objects like a tool is used. This not only allows for variation from one vase to another but THAT is what makes it beautiful, a work of art. The individual variations and imperfections that make the vase a one of a kind can work against you when those same elements are incoporated into a tool. I am looking forward to Uri Hofi's new hammer. If it is any better than the 3 of his I already have I don't think I will be able to stand it.
On another note. The traditional way of doing things is not always the best. Hand forging a hammer is only one example. Many times it was hand forged because that was the only way to do it. If they had the technology that we have today 200 years ago, I am sure there would be 200 year old cast hammers. There is a saying," prove all things and keep that which is good". Just because it was always done that way does not mean it is the best way.
The following is an email rec'd from Johannes Angele of Germany. I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to him for giving us permission to use the Haberman hammer and other copyrighted photos on IForgeIron and this post.
I was a lot together with Alfred Habermann and can tell you about his hammer.
Habermann was born in 1930. He is a member of the German population in Czechoslovakia. His father had to be a soldier in the German army during world war 2 and he died there.
So Alfred made his apprenticeship with his grandfather. This family has a long tradition in blacksmithing.
Round about the age of 14 when Alfred needed a hammer for forging, his grandfather told him to make his own hammer. And he tought him how to do it. It is this very hammer that Alfred kept with him all his life, took it always with him. The two photos I add to this e-mail show this original hammer.
Compared with the common German blacksmithing hammer, the Habermann hammer is shorter, the face is bowed, the corners are rounded, the peen has a plane part. The Hofi hammer is almost the same size and shape but with one big difference: The material that is pushed out when making the hole for the handle is not taken away, the hammer is not straightened or planned. This material makes the hammer higher or thicker in the axis of the handle.
This means that more material is in the axis or in the center of gravity. This makes the hammer more balanced. You don't need to accelerate as much mass when moving the hammer.
Habermann used this system also for his repousse hammers (see other photo). But not for his famous blacksmithing hammer. We do not know the reason.
We are now producing the Habermann hammer in license of Habermann as a drop forged hammer. It is the one you see in our shop.
Do not hesitate to ask if you have other questions.
Mit freundlichen Gruessen
This hammer in the photo is a cast hammer made of 6150 steel weigh 3#.
The forged hammers are forged from C45 which is a better German modified 1045 that have aditional 0.40 % Cr and 0.40% Ni which make it tougher .
all my hammers are quenched to HRC 55-60
The handle is made out of ''ROOBINYA'' which is a better wood then the hicory.
I did not want to be involved in the discussion about the pain u have in the kneck.because many times the paie is not comming from forging bad habits but if u have a basic kneck problam the wrong holding of the hammer will deffinitly increase the dammege. I for instance have from time to time pain in my kneck because 40 years ago a chyropracter created the basic damede and eversince frome time to time lackily not very often i get the pain ,and this is a type of inflamation, the only thing i do is COOL the place with frozen ''pilow'' for 20 minuts every day for 3-5 days and the pain is of. more the that i can not help u. The only thing i want to emfesize again DO NOT HOLD YOUR THOMB ON TOP OF THE HANDLE WHILE FORGING. and read my BP on the subject.
THANK U for your attention
Forgot To Give The Sizes Of The Forged Hammers
For Forging Hammers Can Be Smaller Or Bigger
More information at this link, click here.
There are several threads in the forum on the subject of the Hofi Hammer, hammer handles, etc. Use the forum search to find these and much more.
A0019 The Hofi Hammer
IForgeIron Lessons in Blacksmithing