Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Cats Head Hammer


Recommended Posts

In searching the net I have seen a couple examples of Cats Head Hammers. No such hammers discussed here that I can find. Some have flat faces, some faces are cupped; a farriers tool I'm told. Has anyone used one and if one had a flat (properly edged) face and a more radiused pein why would it not make a "suitable" blacksmith hammer?? Seems like having the larger percentage of weight at the "center" of the head would make it function better ... more mass behind a smaller face increases the force per square inch doesn't it? Hofi's hammer seems to have a similar arrangement for the mass used with the widest part of the head being verticle as opposed to horizontal like a cats head. NOT looking for a universal hammer, just wondering how this one doesn't get used or isn't popular? :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have only found 1 example so far

http://cgi.ebay.com/VINTAGE-HELLER-CATS-HEAD-BLACKSMITH-HAMMER-Anvil-N-R_W0QQitemZ120529066924QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item1c10179bac

Looks like an interesting hammer, could you post some other examples please?
Phil

Link to post
Share on other sites

Quick answer is COLLECTORS with more money than sense.
Ken

Not sure about collectors with no sense but have a hellor bros as per markb's pic and i'd pay the same for another one as for anyone else's hammer that's out there today , it works beautiful.If anything have to be careful as it moves steel very fast with the smaller face and consentrated weight.
Link to post
Share on other sites

Martensite -

Thanks for the comments - does the width of the head interfere at all with seeing your work?

As far as collectors go, I guess people pay what they pay for older used stuff without regard to actual value. Too bad it hinders getting good used tools without having to pay more than retail. Another good reason to make your own tools.

Tim

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes it does to a degree but the biggest thing is as the face is so much smaller you really have to work on your hammer control.With the smaller face your blows have to be so much closer together however this with the cupped face moves steel very fast.Made some crosses and flared the ends of the arms the time to do this was cut in half with my hellor bros.Then again messed up a couple as the steel moved so fast i thinned it out and pushed the steel everwhere it wasn't supposed to go,oh well live and learn.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a "cat's head" that I got via evilBay. It's heft is deceiving, because there is lots of material either side of the eye, and this is where it differs from a Hofi style. The Hofi hammer eye is so big that the cheeks either side are slender by comparison. The small, round face of the cat's head takes getting used to. My 1894 Manning, Maxwell, and Moore Catalog calls it a Chicago Pattern Horse shoers Turning Hammer (farriers don't talk about making or forging shoes; they turn them). The hammers are expensive, because they are antiques and they are no longer made. I made one years ago, and I had lots of time in it.

http://www.turleyforge.com Granddaddy of Blacksmith Schools

Link to post
Share on other sites

Frank

Having made one your self, and used one, would you believe that if the face were squared it would make it easier to hammer with?? I will be finished building my smithy soon and would like to try to make a cats head hammer.

Keykeeper

I too have an old catalog page that lists a similar hammer for $1.95 ...


Thanks,
Tim

Link to post
Share on other sites

Having made one your self, and used one, would you believe that if the face were squared it would make it easier to hammer with?? I will be finished building my smithy soon and would like to try to make a cats head hammer.
Thanks,
Tim


I was thinking about that too. Square face, tight mass...

Phil
Link to post
Share on other sites

I made mine with a round face but larger than the original cat's head face. I started out as a horseshoer before turning to smithing, and I became accustomed to using the round faced rounding hammers. In the U.S. for whatever reason, even most of the manufactured cross peen smiths' hammers had rounded faces. They were made of square stock, but the corners of the face were angle-chamfered to create an octagonal face. The octagon was then radiused to a round. On the Continent, square faced hammers are preferred. In Britain, some of the work is still done with the ball peen, which has the round face.

I find no fault with the square face, but I have learned to fuller with the hammer face edge over the far radiused edge of the anvil. The round face is easier to use, because you can get at it from the required angle.

IMO, the square face on a cat's head hammer would look rather strange. The aesthetic of the cat's head is that it is a chubby, rounded up, little rascal.

I just returned from the shop with hammer head dimensions. Length 3½"; total width measuring across center of eye 2 1/8"; peen width 1¼"; peen 1/8" radius; face 1 1/8" diameter, slightly convex; circular flattened cheeks 1¼" diameter; oval eye 7/8" x 11/16".

http://www.turleyforge.com Granddaddy of Blacksmith Schools

Edited by Frank Turley
Link to post
Share on other sites

Frank -
Thank you - thank you very much for the input and dimensions. I will try to make my own version of a cats head with a round face. Want to for the practice and to see if I like it as a hammer. I will post pictures when I get it done. won't be for a few weeks, gotta finish building my smithy and forging a couple of honey do's. Thanks again.

Found this in the Gallery:

http://www.iforgeiron.com/index.php?app=gallery&module=images&section=viewimage&img=23666

Tim

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

If you're going to make one, you might consider leaving the cross pein thicker than on the originals which would make it more useful for general forging. Not being a farrier, I'm not sure why the originals have such a sharp pein. Frank, can you offer any insight?




I agree with the idea of a blunt peen on the hammer should you forge one. The main thing that makes the cat's head hammer attractive is that it has a unique shape . However that shape may not be ideal for the kind of iron work that most of us do . I bought one at the St Louis ABANA conference years ago. Tried it and found that they were not well suited for the work that I do. So I just keep it around to look at.

The narrow almost sharp peen of the cats head hammer doesn't seem very functional . I prefer conventional hammers with blunt peens. Actually a much blunter peen than you see in any commercial blacksmith hammer. The peens on my hammers are about 3/4"wide and well rounded. I suppose that you could make a hybrid cats head hammer with a blunt peen. But then it wouldn't be a cats head any longer. Well maybe a bobcat .
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think my hammer was made by Vaughan & Bushnell. A friend has a Heller Bros, and his measures 2 3/8" across the eye, cheek to cheek, not 2 1/8" as mine is. Viewed from the top, looking at the eye, the Heller hammer is quite rounding except for the small, flattened cheeks.

I have an 1894 catalog which shows this as a Chicago pattern. I wasn't living quite back then, but to my knowledge, the peen was used by horseshoers to sharpen calks for wintertime work. The toe and heel calks were wedge shaped to provide traction. The old timers called it "sharp shoeing." After the toe calk was welded on, it could be rough-drawn by hanging the calk on the far edge of the anvil and peening it. Those old Greenfield step vises were designed to clamp the shoe so that the peening could be done on the vise jaw. The only other use I can think of for a farrier's peen would be to fishtail a heel calk before bending it on a thin, steel race plate (shoe).

Horseshoes are no longer made sharp, so the peen went out of vogue. The New York pattern turning hammer became the most used, and this continues today. The New York pattern has one slightly "rockered" face and one ball face.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Frank,do you think it could also have gone out of vogue due to the decline in draft`s used for work? The sharper peen works really well in isulating the steel needed for drawing out a toe clip and as light horse shoes normally don`t have these the Chicago pattern slowly became obselete?? This also makes it a poor choice for the fullering type work most use a wide peen for making it more of a specality tool then a general use hammer as Dan E pointed out.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Martensite,

You're probably right on with your conjecture. Technology also plays a part. On slick going, Borium (tiny tungsten carbide bits) can be oxy-acetylene welded onto the ground surface of shoes to provide traction. The other thing is the tiny hammer face. If the orighinal cat's head had a broader face, it might be more useful to a smith. I do like that there is a good deal of mass/weight either side of the eye. The heft will surprise you, when you pick up the hammer.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 5 years later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...