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Trying to Understand Hammer Expense

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As I begin to toy with the art of blacksmithing, I experience the need for more tools. In this case, it is a hammer. I plan on purchasing from the Pieh Tool Co. When I look at their website, I see a great inconsistency in the prices of the hammers.

http://www.piehtoolco.com/contents/en-us/d838.html

Peddinghaus being the cheapest.

This begs the question, why? What makes one hammer more expensive than another? What qualities set a good hammer apart from a bad one? Would I regret being cheap and buying the peddinghaus?

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The hand hammers that cost less need a little finishing to make the nice. Like rounding all the edges and maybe a slight change of profile on the face- all easily done with a belt sander or angle grinder with some sort of sanding disk. Handles also could be customized to suit. If you can radius the hammers edges and save $$ then do it. After some time with your hammer you may love it or may feel the need to upgrade but you will then know why the upgrade may be warranted.

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To get a good hammer you either need to make it yourself or pay someone else to do so. If you make it yourself you will understand what justifies the cost. I would look elsewhere for a hammer myself

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I can recommend the hammers made by Brent Bailey, Brian Brazeal and Nathan Robertson. Of course the Hofi hammers are excellent also. If you are reluctant to spend a lot try the Nathan Robertson hammers... they are an excellent bargain IMO. If you buy a cheap import hammer you will STILL need a good hammer! There are quite a few less well known custom hammer makers that do fine work also... but none are likely to be much cheaper than Nathan's hammers. The issues go deeper than what can be fixed with a grinder... IMO to make a cheap hammer into a good one requires reforging and re-heat treating and re-handling... after all of which you might almost as easily have made your own.

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Excellent advice from Bigfootnampa. I have several of Nathan's hammers and find them to be excellent value and give me pleasure in using a well made tool.

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If you have no experience and no preference for a kind of hammer or a maker of hammers get the cheapest ones you can find. Modify it as you gain experience until you know what you want. Then make your own.


I have ball peen, cross peen, straight peen, and double faced hand hammers weighing from half pound to 4 pounds in eight ounce increments. I also have some rounding hammers and sheet metal hammers. Some are slightly modified commercial hammers, some are heavily mofified commercial hammers, and some are of my own making.

I ahve forged steel using a claw hammer, a brick hammer, a hatchet, and a rock hammer. Use what you have and see what you like.

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As part of the upcoming knife chat I will take a cheap hammer and modify it to use it to forge a knife and the items that go with that. To do this I have a reallyn nice belt grinder and the right belts to make this into a fairly short task. I expect the hammer to be usable, It will be chamged quite a bit and will be usable. All of the mods i will do to it could be done at home in a fairly simple shot with hand tools. It would nto be done in a short time and the hammer will not come up to the level a good store boiught hammer like mentioned above. For the best hammer buy a good one. if you have no money and wish to invest time and effort you can modify a hammer youi already have or can buy cheap. Cheap is an important word in all of this. Yoiu may end up with a cheap ,(or maybe not if you have one that could use some help and did not pay a lot for it used). Hammer that will do wot you ask of it in this part of your forging experience. Some of us,,me included are willing to spend shop time for items like this. I will post picures and describe everything i do to this hammer. I Hope I will not have to heat treat it but If so I will describe that also,

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In the case of Pieh Tool, I think that Amy Pieh added her own line of hammers within the last year and one half [?]. She did her homework on hammer design and had to find a manufacturer who could come up with the products. Her prices on those hammers is probably an attempt to recoup her time, energy, and storage investments. I could be wrong.

In any event, I wouldn't get a "standard" cross peen as shown, for moderate and heavy forge work. In fact, it is almost like a Warrington hammer, which slender peen is used by woodworkers to start the heads of tacks.

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If you have no experience and no preference for a kind of hammer or a maker of hammers get the cheapest ones you can find. Modify it as you gain experience until you know what you want. Then make your own.


I have ball peen, cross peen, straight peen, and double faced hand hammers weighing from half pound to 4 pounds in eight ounce increments. I also have some rounding hammers and sheet metal hammers. Some are slightly modified commercial hammers, some are heavily mofified commercial hammers, and some are of my own making.

I ahve forged steel using a claw hammer, a brick hammer, a hatchet, and a rock hammer. Use what you have and see what you like.



Good advice.
Tools don't make the blacksmith, the blacksmith makes the tools.

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you are in the same state as Pieh tools time for a road trip and pick them up and find out what feels better to you. I like a longer handle. iron smith recommended the hammer source an other good place to by hammers. As far as price goes you do not have to break the bank to get a good hammer. there are many articals here on hammers spend some time reading them each smith his own opinion on what works best for them. welcome and make sure you find your local chapter of ABANA and go to a few meetings see what folks around you are using, flea markets and swap meets is and other good place to look you can always re-handle an old hammer head.

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Go to a local flea market and fing a cheap cross peen hammer and play with it, reprofile the peen and face as you find what works better for you. ONce you find something you like make your own it is a right of passage for a blacksmith to make his own tools. Seriously though play with the hammer and see what it can do for you. Heat up some iron and hit it using all the parts of the hammer and see what they do for you.

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For me a good hammer means several things: First it has to be the right shape, no problem there. Second the steel needs to be hard enough but not brittle. Third, Weight maybe should be first but . . . Specialty hammers fall at the end because most things can be done with one of the more common shapes.

A really good place to find beginner hammers is the hardware store, Stanley Driller's hammers are a must for me, I have a couple. Stanley also makes single jack sledges ranging from 2lb - 5+lb. They make a range of cross peins as well. These are quality hammers, good steel, properly heat treated. Oh yeah, ball peins come from under 1oz to a few lbs and were THE blacksmith's hammer in many if not most commercial blacksmith shops.

I hit yard/garage/etc. sales and am ever looking for hammers, mostly ball peins. Why ball peins? Because it's easy to forge them into all kinds of handy tools, from straight or angle peins to punches, set chisels and whatever other thingy you may need. I don't pay more than $1 though unless it's a really nice one. You find lots of other good hammers and can give them a quick test by tapping a couple together face to face and judge by rebound. Just like an anvil, you're looking for the same quality in both, crisp rebound says good energy transfer.

Once you've progressed in the craft and decide you just can NOT find a perfect hammer and decide to make one you'll have arrived. There are few things as soul satisfying as using a tool you've made yourself. While punches, chisels, etc. count for sure few are as dynamic and deeply connected as a hammer. Remember a hammer is one of mankinds oldest tools so I'm willing to believe there is a certain amount of genetic memory that makes hammers feel so right.

Crimeny am I yakky today! Must mean the shingles are finally letting me go.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Crimeny am I yakky today! Must mean the shingles are finally letting me go.

Frosty The Lucky.



You don't seem to be able to get a break! Hope you are over them soon. :(

Bob

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Tell me about it. I AM starting to have okay days instead of grindingly awful days and nights. If I wanted to gross the bunch of you out I'd send a pic Deb took of me after the worst, I look like a raw sausage. I AM getting over it though, who knows maybe I'll be out of quaranteen in a week or two so I can go have coffee or something. I've been shut in the house for a good six weeks now and am going completely nuts. Yeah, more nuts than I usually am. Heck, I slept all night last night without taking heavy pain meds! Woo Hoo!

Sorry for the snivel guys.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I use some Mexican made hammers that I reground the face(s) and peins. They work pretty good for a $7 hammer, although most have needed rehandled since the original handle split because of being poorly installed. I guess that makes them $12 hammers now.

I am sure the more expensive custom forged hammers are better in many ways, but I don't have that kind of money to spend currently.

Phil

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Tell me about it. I AM starting to have okay days instead of grindingly awful days and nights. If I wanted to gross the bunch of you out I'd send a pic Deb took of me after the worst, I look like a raw sausage. I AM getting over it though, who knows maybe I'll be out of quaranteen in a week or two so I can go have coffee or something. I've been shut in the house for a good six weeks now and am going completely nuts. Yeah, more nuts than I usually am. Heck, I slept all night last night without taking heavy pain meds! Woo Hoo!

Sorry for the snivel guys.

Frosty The Lucky.


Jer,

Thanks for not sending pictures). But you have every right to snivel. I start sniveling at a much lower level. I have not had shingles but have two friends that have and it got into an eye on both. They came out okay but it was quite a struggle.

About that time they came out with that shingles shot which is supposed to reduce the chance of getting it and reduce the severity if you do get it. Didn't take me long to decide. We both got it. Not cheap but....

Anyway hang in there Jer. You are way overdue for some good luck. G says hi.

Bob

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Starting out I used some cheap Harbor Freight hammers that I reground to get the peen I wanted. After that I started making my own. Get the best you can possibly afford and you will save yourself a huge amount of frustration.

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If you take any trade that uses tools and have a look at what professional level examples of said tools will cost, you'll likely find that Blacksmithing is one of the least expensive trade to begin with!

For example I'm an Electrician. A fairly full tool set for a typical Electrician is easily $400-$600. Yes it's technically possible to get the job done with homeowner grade tools but the greater durability, leverage, and precision of professional tools pays dividends when you consider that they will literally last longer than your lifetime. Assuming you don't blow the up!

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By using fleamarkets I have about 20 hammers of the price of 1 "Big Name Hammer"

As I teach I have a bunch of different hammers available for students and I tell them to choose the heaviest they can use for long periods of time with *control*! I will then use *their* hammer to do corrections on their workpieces to demonstrate that it's not the hammer it's the skills and practice that makes the difference. When demonstrating a technique I will often use a lighter hammer to slow it down for them.

I too like my 1500 gm P-haus Swedish crosspein but I bought mine used at Quad-State. Someone had gone out and bought it full price when it was the "fad" hammer and then decided they didn't care for it after all and sold it on for half price.

I will admit that Nathan sure makes some pretty hammers!

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Last time I checked I had more hammers than Home Depot and Lowe's combined and most have come form yard sales, estate sales and swap meets. However my best ever hammer is a "made in Japan" cross peen hammer head that I paid fifty cents for and then spent a dollar for a handle and wedge. I used it until an auto accident put me out of action. It is better than my $125 Jim Keith hammer by far, it just fits my hand better, maybe if I put a different handle on the Jim Keith I'd love it as much but I love my old fifty cent Japan hammer the best. So don't worry about the cost of the hammer, worry about how it feels in your hand as you strike the hot steel, that is what really counts you know, not the cost or who made it but how it fits your hand. It can cost $200 or $0.50 but if it don't work for you it ain't worth the price of scrap metal.

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I think that what we are trying to say is "determine what you *like* first; before spending a lot of money on a "possible" hammer." And certainly try out how it feels in *your* hand before buying one.

Nothing sadder than to see a rack of gleaming BNH's sitting unused because an old $1 hammer from the fleamarket actually works the best for the owner---and you are sure a lot more likely to make changes to suit yourself on a $1 hammer than a $50 to $100+ hammer!

I'd no more buy a hammer for my smithing from a catalog than I would marry a mail order bride sight unseen. (of course I'd be in a lot more trouble with my wife with the second case than the first...)

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It has been said above that you can get all the hammers you will ever need from garage sales and flea markets and not really spend much money. You can always regrind them to do what you want. I made several hammers as my need for them arose. For example I made a 1.5lb compact cross peen out of an atha 3lb sledge I bought at a garage sale for $1. I reheated it, tempered it.and now use it quite often. Once when I thought I could afford it I did buy an Elmer Roush hammer which is exquisite and I probably use it more than any of my other hammers. If you can afford the money Elmer's hammers are probably some of the best.
http://www.elmerrous...ml/hammers.html

Here are some pics of the 1.5lb hammer I made using an angle grinder and a belt sander.

post-25611-0-20058400-1344987449_thumb.j

post-25611-0-13516800-1344987459_thumb.j

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