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My wrist hurts!! >: (


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I am holding the hammer properly believe, I looked at a blue print for it. Fingers curled around with my thumb down along the side of the handle over my pointer and middle finger, I find when I am hammering my wrist is angling down putting my thumb in line with my forearm, is that bad?

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Check the height of you anvil, about the height of your knuckles when standing with your arm hanging. Use a lighter hammer for a while, forge a bit less. Forging is a physical activity so it stands to reason that the ergonomics should be checked, anvil height, technique checked, already discussed above, then conditioning of the muscles, ligaments and joints. You would not try to train for a marathon by running one in a week, you would build up to it. Its the same with forging, work on small projects with a light hammer for short periods initially and gradually build up each of the pieces till you can forge fulltime on any size project you want.

Basically it takes time to get going, you have to strengthen up lots of bits of your body you probably have never used before.


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If you haven't read this do so. He also has a DVD out that will help. You can PM Mr. Hofi here. If you ever get the chance to attend one of his classes do so.

Loosen up on your grip if you a chocking the snot out of your hammer.;) Take a break every 30 min or so. Adjust your anvil height, as well as the above mentioned suggestions. You are too young to be doing damage to your body. Learn the correct ways of forging and you will be at it for a long time. Good luck.
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There are lots of ways to hold and swing a hammer. You need to find what works for you.
That being said some of the common reasons for pain in the wrist can be (in no order)
- too heavy of a hammer. If you are swinging a hammer much heavier than you are used to it can cause stress.
- holding the hammer handle too tight. That will prut more of the shock of the impact in you. That results in vibration that aggravates connective tissue.
- a sloppy swing. What I mean by that is you should be swinging straight. You shouldn't have to make a lot of adjustments to hit where you're aiming, a lot of people try to make such adjustments from the wrist, which can overwork the wrist.
- hammer handle shape. I prefer an oversized oval cross section. Most folks I know who use a grip like I think you're describing find a slab-sided smaller handle works better.

I swing from the shoulder keeping my elbow close to but not touching my body. There is a little elbow movement but not much. I hold the hammer in a "carpenters grip" with my thumb on top, usually. I have a larger than normal handle which I find easier to hold without over-gripping. The hammer can pivot around a point in the palm of my hand which can compensate a little for variation in anvil height (maybe 1/2 inch up or down).


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hi drako - i have found that putting a smaller waist on my hammers helps with wrist ache - i actually have big hands so its not always just about a small or big hand - its to do with all kinds of variables in the dimensions of your hand and joints - i would experiment with different hammer handle sizes. As well as all the excellent advice above!

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Thanks for the help everyone! Son of Bluegrass, when you say "Thumb on top" when you use the carpenter's grip do you mean it is sitting along the spine of the hammer handle? Because everything I have read says not to do that, yet I feel I have more control like that although I try not to use it because as I said everything I have read said not to do it.

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I hold the hammer in a "carpenters grip" with my thumb on top
There are several discussions about putting the thumb on top or not. The general consensus is the thumb should NOT be on top of the hammer but wrapped toward the index finger.

Try this the next time you at your anvil. Put the thumb on top of the hammer, put the hammer on the anvil and push down. You should feel a large pressure (leverage) against the thumb, hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder.

Now do the same thing only wrapping the thumb around the hammer handle toward the index finger. When you put the hammer on the anvil face and push down the hammer will move (rotate) in the hand and continued pressure (leverage) will rotate the wrist.

One more time, now using the Hofi hammer holding technique, much like holding a sheet of paper vertically between the thumb on one side and fingerprints on the other. When you put the hammer on the anvil face and push down the hammer will move (rotate) between the fingers and continued pressure (leverage) will NOT rotate the wrist. The hammer is more independent of the hand and wrist.

Choose which is best for you keeping in mind that the impact and rebound of the hammer is striking back against your hand, arm and body. Then multiply your technique by several thousand hammer impacts in a days work. Study the body movements, study on the impact and stresses, study on how to protect and save wear and tear on YOUR body. Let us know what works for you as we many want to consider trying your hammer holding technique.

Next study on how to do the same amount of work with fewer hammer blows. If you can figure out a way to use nine hammer blows instead of your normal ten hammer blows by working more efficiently, you have saved 10% of the wear and tear on your body. That is 10% savings no matter which hammer holding technique you use.
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Drako, as far as exercises ...hold your ands together as if starting to pray point your fingers down and bring your hands up clost to your chin and push hands together .do this a fw times also fold one hand down at the wrist and push against it with your other hand ..do both hands try this before you start and again it they start bothering you

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I'm using a Truper cross peen bought at a local farm supply store. For me I had to sand the handle down a bit to be comfortable. Also I have worried about the fact that I tend to choke up on my handle and have heard all the admonishments against that. Of course then I went to a hammer-in and discovered that the handle on my cross peen is about 4 inches longer than any of the handles I saw there.

When you read something like "You should hold the hammer handle at the end" in a book or online it doesn't mean much without a visual because you may have happened to picked up a hammer with a 2 foot handle (exaggerating) for your first one and then holding the end wouldn't be practical.

I'll throw in a question here too. I have a 2lb hammer and would like to get 1 and 1 1/2 pounders but I can't find them anywhere except a couple of several hundred dollar ones that are outside my budget. Short of making one where can you get lighter cross peens?


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For reference,
The Hofi hammer handle length is 9-1/2 inches.
The hammer length is just short of 12 inches end to end.

The Jymm Hoffman hammer handle length is 14-3/4 inches long.
The hammer length is 16 inches long end to end.

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Bottom line:

1. If it hurts stop doing it the way you are doing it. Otherwise you could end up with a permanent repetitive motion injury.

2. Yes there are many ways to hold and use a hammer, but Mr. Hofi's way is a must for people who are experiencing problems/pain in their joints.

3. You are still young, so a permanent injury could end up causing you daily pain for 50 or more years. Your number one priority should be not to hurt yourself.

Just my opinion. Mileage may vary.
Dave E.

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I'm gonna try to explain the way I hammer with the bad pictures below for illustration.
If you have Streeter's book "Professional Smithing" he has a picture with the thumb on top and a caption stating that is the correct grip for a hammer. If you have Schwarzkopf's book "Plain and Ornamental Forging" he has a picture with the thumb on the side and says that is the correct grip for a hammer.
You need to find what works for you.
In the first picture you will see what most tell you not to do. That is how I hold a hammer. It allows me to hammer in any direction from overhead to sideways to down. Very useful when nailing in construction (when I was deployed as a carpenter in the army we mostly used hammers, in the civilian world we mostly use nail guns). The trick is that I only use 2 fingers to hold the hammer that is shown in the next picture. And I have swung my hammer just like that with the thumb, forefinger and little finger held away from the handle to illustrate that I don't use my thumb at all. The 2 fingers keep the handle against my palm. Because I don't use my thumb it does not transfer shock up my arm. My thumb will actually slide past the handle if need be. When I follow the directions Glenn has above, I don't get any pressure or rotation of the wrist or any other part because the handle pivots where it does.
In the 3 picture the point of the pencil shows about where the handle pivots during the swing. That point is between the 2 fingers that hold the handle so it is a secure grip.
In the 4th picture I show the grip without the hammer. That shows the cross section for my hammer handles.
The last picture shows the cross section of the handle when it is held between the thumb and forefinger. That is what I meant when I said some people like a slab sided handle.

Does that make it clear as mud?







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  • 3 years later...

I got carpal tunnel years ago in my wrist from hammering. My wrists & fingers fell asleep every night. I tried adjusting everything but it was still bothering me. A couple of old smiths told me about B6 & magnesium vitamins. I had to use capsules for better absorption. After a couple of weeks of 600 to 800 mgs of B6 & 400 mgs of mag, I got it under control. I smith part time but keep taking it & really see the difference.
There is also another vitamin that helps if you get elbow pain. Also check out KT tape like the Olympic volleyball players used. I use it on my shoulder & see it can also be used on the wrists. I have heard of smiths of smiths having surgery on their wrists, it helped for awhile, but pain came back.

Wish you the best.

Arctic Anvil
Anchorage, Alaska

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