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Rounding hammer quality


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Not to hijack the thread below, but other than $100, what is the difference between a $30 hammer and a $130 hammer?  I was looking at buy one but didn't know if I should be cheap or spend the extra money.


the $130 hammers are quenched in kool aid...

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Some of the cost is also that you can't go just anywhere and buy a high quality rounding hammer, or diagonal, or straight peen. You are limited to a clunky 3 pound sledge from TSC, a 3.6 pound fiberglass handled poorly ground cross peen from Lowes, and the common-place ball peen. There is nothing wrong with any of these hammers, but they simply do not offer the variety of selection, and are nowhere near the quality of the more pricey hammer. 


You CAN go cheap, regrind the faces of the hammers you buy, and have some service-able tool. If you are just starting out, I would recommend that! 


If you've got a couple of years of experience under your belt and you are making more than s-hooks and leaves, you might want to invest in a more expensive, high quality hammer that is going to feel much better in your hand.


And there is always the possibility that you just happen to have $130 to spend on something, and in that case, sure! Buy the hammer.


Where are you looking at getting a rounding hammer for $130?

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back in the seventies, when I became a farrier, I bought a Diamond rounding hammer. I still own and use it today. I have made many hammers since and used just as many store bought as hand made. That being said.......learn your hammer, whatever brand, hold it often, tap things with it, flip around in your hand, turn on the lights with the handle, turn off the lights with the handle and flip it 

make friends with it. A $ 200 hammer will not make you a better smith, making your own might

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I, too, have a Diamond rounding hammer and used it for the first two years of my smithing Odyssey and then sought out a cross peen hammer and that took awhile, then used a 6# sledge for a few years and finally settled on a 3# cross peen of no name made in Japan, but I used it all the time, every time I had the fire light. It wasn't any worse in my hand than my $125 Jim Keith cross peen and it only cost $0.50 for the head and a $1 for the handle, I made the wedge. Maybe I should polish it up and use it on my jewelry I'm making now. It's not always the cost of the hammer but the years of skill behind it that make the difference.

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I have a $30 rounding hammer as well as several from Brent Bailey. I have the usual mix of old blacksmith hammers, too.The main difference for me is the way they look and feel. They both dent my anvil and their faces when I mis-hit with them.

I also just ordered a Brazeal style rounding hammer that will ship tomorrow.

None so far have made even a tiny bit of quality in my finished work.

I just like them.

In Mark Aspery's first book he mentions that when his wife mentions the new hammers he tells her they are borrowed and will be returned very soon, them moves them around the shop so the same hammers are in different places.

Go figure :)


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There are some folks that are impressed by the name on their tools; some even brag how much they have spent on them. There are some folks that know that a fellow makes just the shape/size/heat treat on his hammers that suits them to a T and so they pay for what works perfectly for *them*.  


And then there are some folks who are perfectly happy using a no-name hammer they got at a fleamarket for US$3 that works just right for them, (and have no compunctions modifying it to suit themselves---once saw a fellow take a standard double jack and using a hydraulic press make a right hand/left hand diagonal peen hammer from it---not something you would probably do with a $100+ hammer!

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Not to hijack the thread below, but other than $100, what is the difference between a $30 hammer and a $130 hammer?  I was looking at buy one but didn't know if I should be cheap or spend the extra money.

What can your $130 hammer do that my $10 hammer can't?

Once you rule out the complete trash made for pennies in China/ Pakistan and you have a well made hammer, you have a perfectly useable tool.

The extra cost boils down to the finish, aesthetics and to a certain extent the materials used. Ie a very well cleaned up tool with a nice handle that fits perfectly and a very good steel head that wears well compared to a hammer with a poor quality wood handle with gaps in the head and a steel which may easily chip or is too soft...

Aesthetics is a personal thing - how it looks is very important to many people and lets face it, many parts of our trade would have died out if this was not the case.

I know I'd never pay that kind of money for a hammer but at the same time I appreciate the value of buying good quality tools. Personally I really like buying old tools made back in the day when tools were made to last.

Just my 2p.

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I do not have money to spend on tools...So I make them myself!

Obviously, for a lot of people that is not the easiest thing to do! 

But, my point is, that when you make the tool yourself, you are in control of the quality,style,shape,weight,handle etc



When buying a hammer...think what goes into the making of it when you are shocked by the price...

For example, if you buy a hammer from Dave Custer, Brian Brazeal, Aaron Cergol, Nathan Robertson, Brent Bailey, myself or any other blacksmiths forging hammers/tools, you are paying for...

Time at the anvil

Striker (sometimes)


Steel billet

Wear on tools






My point is to say that there is a reason that some tools are expensive. But i will guarantee you, that a properly forged hammer will outlast any machined,cast etc hammer...Not only for the way forging improves the structure of the steel...

but also because if you have a nice hammer you take more care of it ;) :P ;) ;)


A little rant with little meaning... Just adding something to peoples minds for the next time they see an expensive hand forged tool and think - *‡fi›‡°·fl·‚°‡fi‹ $$$$$$$



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Hi Alec, you missed out the most important things in your list.


The cost to the maker in learning, developing and refining the skills to produce the finished item,


Its called experience and capability.


You know best what it has cost you in time, effort and money to be where you are in your learning curve, and that has to be taken into consideration when costing a job.

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I'm with John and John!  Many years ago I was running a motor rewind shop.  We had a standard bench fee/ hourly rate that covered up to one hour of labor.   Anything after that was time and material.


One afternoon a customer walked in with a motor that wouldn't start.  I took it to the bench and determined the capacitor needed to be replaced.  I grabbed a new one off the shelf, installed it, tested that everything was working OK then brought it back to the customer.  I rang him up for our bench fee and the capacitor.  He complained that it didn't take me an hour!


I politely told him that I'd put in many years earning my degree and work experience, not to mention stocking the shop all before he'd come through the door. 


He wasn't much impressed by that but did thank me for getting it fixed quickly.

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thank you for setting me straight, guys!


reminds me of the story (i don't remember it very well)

Of when a ship was broken down.

They called up an engineer...

He inspected the engine and asked for a hammer...They provided the hammer and he hit a pipe once and the engine was fixed.

When they got the invoice, they were shocked to see it was £100. 

The engineer explained:

£5 for swinging the hammer.

£95 for knowing where to hit it!


Nice short little story!!

I agree totally! 100% THE MOST IMPORTANT PART IS THE EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE! Unfortunately, many young people especially do not understand that in today's world as readily as they used to, when people understood the value of work!



Thanks guys!

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I would also like to add that there is nothing wrong with buying something because you like it. If I came across an old or new hammer that I had to have I would happily pay £130 or £30 for it.

 Value and performance are different things and a lot of value is in the eye of the beholder.

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Nicely explained Alec.


By the way....I don't charge for striking so if you are agreeable; perhaps I'll find time to wind my over to the Brazeal's while the Young Smiths are in session and let you direct another hammer for me at a discount.  My hammer seems to have moved to Missouri with my son!

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I'm a firm believer in quality tools and anything handmade.


Being very new to this craft, I was set on getting nice tools if I could afford. Fast forward a week, having spoken to Brian on the phone- I was directed to several other Blacksmiths. Kinda funny, Brian pointing me to other people, when he could have easily made a quick buck from me. He has my respect for this in the highest manner. An honest person, and straight up good dude.


I received a 3.75lb rounding hammer from Dave Custer and Chase Saxton, I was so impressed that I ordered 2 more right after. Why? I wanted a few different weights, and supporting small shops vs. huge production ones is also a big deal to me.


Quality and personal touch is really lacking in many things these days. So when I find a quality product, I do my best to support it. This is regarding anything.

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