Rich Hale

Store bought hammer mods

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In the upcoming knife chat Steve and I will show how to make a knife using a couple of methods. For the first part I will concentrate on using minimal shop equipment and keeping the cost as low as possible. First thing I did in preparation for this is buy a big box chain store two pound hammer. As purchased it is not usable for knfe making. Both faces were ground in an arch. That would work alright for drawing metal, Think of the shape of an anvil horn. For flattening out a blade it wouild create more finishing work as it would leave dents. First pic shows hammer untouched,

I tested the steel with a file and i think it is about right for a hammer. A file could remove steel, meaning I couild do the needed changes with files.

i used a sharpie to mark where I would remove steel on the face. You could do one face and leave the other one for drawing. It would have to have more radius on the edges but could work.

in addition to a file, you couild use a side grinder for these mods. On sale a cheap one. with a couple of grinding wheels, a few cut off wheels, and a few flap wheels for finishing this hammer , will cost you around thirty bucks and include eye protection.

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Continued:
For the other end I chose to do a diagonal pein. I marked the face and started ginding. A dip in water now and then kept it cool enough so it did not affect the left in place handle. I used a good belt grinder with good belts for these changes.

After removing the excess material I rounded the pein in both directions. side to side including rolling the corners on each end and making kind of a blunt pein with no corners. (corners leave dents you have to deal with in finishing a blade)
i reshaped the handle removing quite a bit of wooduntil it felt good for my hands.

I spin the handle often when forging with a hammer with different faces on each end. (I removed quite a bit of metal from the pein end!)

Back to the grinder I went around the other end and removed quite a bit of metal without making the face smaller diameter. Now I can spin the hammer in hand to use either face and it does not feel as off balance. (but it still is a bit!)

Then I tested the hammer. I want it to move metal fast, and the pein end does that and I want the flat end to make things right and flatten all of the dents I created with the pein end. i Forged some aluminum bar cold and found the the pein end was fine but i had left the other end with too much of a dome leaving shallow bowl like dents. Not wot I wanted so back to the grinder. Flattened the face more and the redressed the edges so they do not leave dents. holding a straight edge acroww the face you can see the contour easy. Back to the aluminum, the mods seemd to be right.

Then I forged blade shape from a piece of coil spring. It works as I had planned. I picked up a coule of my tried and true hammers for comparison. I like them better. But then again I paid under six bucks cash, about forty minutes work and I have a usable hammer for blades. Or wotever I wish to forge. If you make the changes with files you wll send quite a bit of time. With an angle grinder still a bit of time. The testing and reshaping will add time in any case. For the handle you need coarse rasps then finer files and sandpaper.

If you need a good hammer this is one way. If you have a hammer and need changes this works.

If you are going to join our knife chat in late October a good hammer will help.

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I did something similar about 8 months ago with a 4 lb Collins Axe engineer sledge I picked up at TrueValue.  I made the ends cross and straight 1.5" fuller.  It moves metal very quickly and smoothly.  If I take small enough bites I don't even have to use a flat faced hammer until it's time to do the finish work.

  About a week after I made it I realized that my only problem with it was and still is due to operator/modifier error.  I should have gone with about a 30° right-hand diagonal fuller, much like your picture, as it is hard to draw stuff out towards or away from me without it trying to twist CCW away from me.  The straight fuller works great for drawing long heats across the face though.

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Awesome Job with the Hammer How to's , Rich it is easier to show folks than try to tell them .

 

Thank you for All the time you and Steve put into the How to Knife section.

 

Sam

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dntfxr   

I got a poor-boys 4lb rounding hammer today. :) I've been wanting to modify a 4lb sledge but most of them have heads that are too long and smaller diameter. I found this Stanley forged hammer that has a shorter, larger diameter head. Anyway I put it to the grinder and rounded one face and slightly squared the other face. I really like the feel and it is very lively on the anvil. Have yet to forge with it but I think I'm gonna like it.

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Here are two hammers I modified recently. I am bladesmith so never saw the need for a rounding hammer. Man, I wish i would have tried one long ago because these things move metal nicely with good control. I have close to 30 hammers in the shop in styles of French, Japanese, German, English... with straight, diagonal, ball and cross peens. For the past few weeks, I have used these two as my main hammers. The large one is 1600g(3.5lbs) and the other is 1000g(2.2lbs). Watching Brian Brazeals videos really made me reconsider my past bias. Thank you, Brian!

 

Rick

 

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gimpy   

I have to introduce myself. I'm Gimpy from So Central Oregon. A Virgin at metal work. But now that I'm retired and building a new homestead, this just seems a wise thing to do.

This is a great thread and the first one I chose to read. Although there are many missing pictures.

Thanks so much for being here. It appears I will benefit greatly by my membership.

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Frosty   

Welcome aboard Gimpster, glad to have you. If you'll put your general location in the header you'll discover there are a bunch of guys within visiting distance. You'll learn more in a couple hours with an experienced blacksmith than days or even months trying to learn on your own. I've done both, believe me I'll take watching someone else make mistakes so I don't have to. ;)

One hammer mod I'm a HUGE fan of is changing the handle. I love slab handles over the industry standard oval things. A slab handle naturally indexes in your so you know exactly how it's going to strike reflexively. They're also easier on the hand you don't have to hold tightly to have a secure grip, I hold my hammers very loosely, I let them pivot between thumb and index finger, I call it a fencer's grip. there are two benefits: First and formost it isolates your skeleton from impact shock so your joints don't suffer, Secondly it adds another joint in the blow. Every joint, (pivot point) is a force multiplier so you deliver more energy to the work through the hammer for the same or even less effort.

These are GOOD things. B)

I'll attach pics of my hammer handles below. They taper from the hammer head to the end, the knob on the end was my thought to prevent a hammer from slipping out of my grip. It's not uncommon to throw your hammer accidentally. Anyway I soon discovered the taper in the handle makes throwing one a thing of the past, if the handle slips any you reflexively tighten your grip enough to stop it. I still put the knob on handles, it became a trademark kind of thing and nobody mistakes one of my hammers for anyone else's.

Modifying hammer heads is best done once you've developed the skills sets to know how you need to modify them. My hammer head advice for beginners is really basic: 1. Do NOT use a hammer more than 32oz. (2lbs.) until you develop proficient hammer control. Control THEN power and speed! Second, any smooth faced hammer is perfect be it ball pein, cross pein, straight pein, you NEED a smooth face, the other shape peins are intermediate tools. I highly recommend a "Drillers or Drill, hammer" they are short handled and typically around 2lbs. The short handle is good for control and the weght is perfect. One of these babies will really move hot steel under good control. Hammer control is going to be your first and most important learning curve to climb.

My next high recommendation is a turning often called rounding hammer. These are probably the modern world's premier blacksmithing hammers. If you want to buy a second early blacksmith's hammer AFTER a drill hammer buy a turning hammer. Any farrier's supply will carry them, keep it at or under 32 oz. though, remember, control THEN power and speed.

The two hammers I'll attach pics of are first, my home built turning hammer from a broken pickup truck axle, Mark's broken pickup axle unfortunately, he walked me through making it. Thank you again Metalmangler!

The second started life as a 32 oz. ball pein I picked up at a yard, garage, etc. sale and is now a straight pein. Both are on my "improvement" on Uri Hofi's slab handle design.

Frosty The Lucky.

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On 3/5/2016 at 1:55 PM, Frosty said:

They taper from the hammer head to the end, the knob on the end was my thought to prevent a hammer from slipping out of my grip. It's not uncommon to throw your hammer accidentally.

I do a similar thing with my hammers. I have degenerative arthritis so some days grip strength can be an issue. I wrap the handle in hockey tape, this gives me a rough surface to grip, and as you would with a hockey stick, I make a knob on the end. I find the knob also gives me a larger area to grip on bad hand days. It's like holding a ball with a hammer attached to it, which on certain applications, increases my ability to do a hinge motion, thus increasing my overall power.IMG_3523.JPG

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I've found the bigger the terminal bulb on the hammer the looser I seem to be able to hold it without it trying to go walkabout on me.

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I used to form a bulb higher up toward the head. That's where I held the hammer, mostly. The problem was that it didn't allow me to adjust my grip to suit the power/control I wanted. These days I prefer a tapered handle with a multi-faceted cross section(think "octagonal" with way more sides... lol)

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Hi those hammers look really good.

Checked out this post because I was thinking in the last few days of grinding a medium sized lump hammer flat and then round on the other end. It has no handle. If one had a copper pipe would that take the heat out, by sticking it into the eye of the hammer? Am just thinking by the way, don't have a copper pipe. But will try by putting it between two lumps of cast iron, See what happens. Also got a good few old junk yard hammers now. What do you think if I am to take a big sledge hammer (have two) and cut the two sections where the eyes are, but to one end. Sides are 1.2 cm thick. These could then be bent outwards to make a flatter (maybe) and the other half with no sides could be made into a hammer. Is this a mad idea? Apart from having to make new holes for the eyes , maybe there is a better way to do it.

Also got a hammer head that looks like no hammer I have ever seen and would like to post it here somewhere. Maybe someone knows what it is. It also looks like it could be made into a punch with little effort. Where should I best post it.

Cheers David. 

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JHCC   
7 minutes ago, Work With Nature said:

I was thinking in the last few days of grinding a medium sized lump hammer flat and then round on the other end.

Go for it!

7 minutes ago, Work With Nature said:

If one had a copper pipe would that take the heat out, by sticking it into the eye of the hammer? Am just thinking by the way, don't have a copper pipe. But will try by putting it between two lumps of cast iron, See what happens.

More trouble than it's worth. Just grind slow, don't let it get too hot, and give it plenty of opportunity to cool.

9 minutes ago, Work With Nature said:

Also got a good few old junk yard hammers now.

Since you have a couple of hammers to work on, do them in rotation. Grind on one until it starts to get hot, move to the next, repeat. Each one will have a chance to cool down and not overheat.

10 minutes ago, Work With Nature said:

Is this a mad idea?

Yes.

11 minutes ago, Work With Nature said:

Also got a hammer head that looks like no hammer I have ever seen and would like to post it here somewhere. Maybe someone knows what it is. It also looks like it could be made into a punch with little effort. Where should I best post it.

Start a new thread in this section with a title like "Help me identify this hammer?"

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I own several flatters and use them very seldomly. I try to build tools I need over tools I think I need.   Water is a very good conductor of heat, cheap too!  I'd drop the hot hammer head in a bucket of water and grab the next one.

I did see a fellow make a very nice 45 deg cross peen by taking a store bought hammer head and heating in a forge and using a hydraulic press to smoosh it,  took only a couple of bites per end and he made the other end the other angle so you could use the end that worked best---the press left a very nice rounded peen too.  Only needed cleanup and heat treat afterwards!

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JHCC, ThomasPowers,

Ha - Yes, good answer. 

Yeah all that makes a lot of sense. Was wondering about the need of a flatter but have no idea. As a beginner you toy around with lots of ideas as well as make lots of trail stuff. well at least is how I learn anyways. Great will get started now on the heads and put up a new thread. Again many thanks.  

David. 

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Frosty   

If you find you need a flatter they're easy to improvise with a piece of reasonably thick flat steel 1/2" minimum unless you're working thin stock.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Cheers, am of now this evening back to the farm to start grinding on the heads and that is good to know about the heat amount before the temper is ruined. Had a go this morning for a few min and was surprised at how little the hammer heated up if I moved the grinder even just a bit around. The thing about the flatter, it would be fun to make one but if a piece of steel is enough for the amount I probably would actually use it. Then there is plenty of other things to try. 

All the best David. 

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Keep an eye out for things that can be reperposed. A 1" shank bolt, after the head is dressed would. Work well as a flatter. Around here the knuckle of a sucker rod often becomes a top or bottom tool, as it has a 1" square shank and collars. Some have smashed ball joints, wile others have used ball pein hammers as struck tools (soft face hammer) as mentioned it's not a highly used tool, as the days of smiths forging to machine finishes are mostly gone, as the public expect rough finishes from "hand forged". 

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