Falconer

Best Steel for making a hammer??

17 posts in this topic

I have some S7 and some D2 stock I'm thinking of making a hammer with.

 

I've never used either for making a hammer and I'm curious about any opinions pro or con out there.

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S7 could work, but forget the D2 for a hammer. IMHO 4340 would be ideal, but 1045 - 1060 is good, or 4140, O1, CAT track pins are great if you can get them. It all depends on your skill level and what you want the hammer to do. Heat treating is the more important part rather than the steel. ....just sayin'...

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I make hammers out of 1045. The main reason is that I can find it local for a few bucks a pound and I like to only quench the first third of the head (dogs head hammer). I oil quench all of my knives but oil flares up a lot for a partial quench. Water works best for 1045 and I prefer to deal with steam than burning oil. 

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I'm sure I have seen it before someplace,  but...   what are you doing to heat treat track pins?  Seems like every week or three a few go in the scrap bin out back.  Just gotta  love  thrashed rails and undercarriages.  Have quite a few nice ones sitting in my pile and been meaning to get to a hammer or two soon.

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Falconer; do you have the high tech heat treating equipment to heat treat D2?  It really needs the proper temps, times, ramping, etc to get the best from it.  S7 is more forgiving; *however* as mentioned both those alloys are overkill for a hammer.  S7 (and H13) is beloved by smiths for making tooling like punches, chisels, slitters etc as they have high hot hardness.  I would save S7 for those items---or trading stock!!!

 

D2:  well if you don't have access to the high tech heat treating equipment I'd use it as trading stock.

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I use 4140 or 4340 both work real well I like the way they heat treat. s-7 makes good punches and chisel

S-7 is an air or oil hardening tool steel that is characterized by very high impact toughness. The combination of strength and high toughness makes S-7 tool steel a candidate for a wide variety of tooling applications. S-7 tool steel can be used successfully for both cold and hot work applications.

Applications:

Blanking Dies Brake Dies Chisels
Die Casting Dies - Zinc Forming Dies Gripper Dies
Header Dies Heading Dies - Hot Master Hobs
Plastic Mold Dies Punches Rivet Sets
Shear Blades

D-2 tool steel is a versatile high-carbon, high-chromium, air-hardening tool steel that is characterized by a relatively high attainable hardness and numerous, large, chromium rich alloy carbides in the microstructure. These carbides provide good resistance to wear from sliding contact with other metals and abrasive materials. Although other steels with improved toughness or improved wear resistance are available, D-2 provides an effective combination of wear resistance and toughness, tool performance, price, and a wide variety of product forms..

I use D-2 for dies Applications:

Blanking Dies Burnishing Tools Coining Dies
Drawing Dies Extrusion Dies Forming Rolls
Gauges Knurls Lamination Dies
Lathe Centers Master Parts Punches
Seaming Rolls Shear Blades Slitters
Swaging Dies Threaded Rolling Dies Trimming Dies

it holds up under the power hammer well.

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What do you have in the proper size stock? That is probably the "best" thing to use;-) Knowing what it is, is definitely a plus, but doesn't rule something out... Especially if you can trim it and do a heat treat test. If you can trade some fancy steel that would be overkill for something easier to work with and more commonly used for hammers great. If not adapt... :-) just don't leave the hammer soooo hard it spalls on you, not fun, ESPECIALLY in a crowd at a demo... :-(

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S7 would probably make a great hammer, but would be an unholy so-and-so to forge into one... that stuff does NOT move easily...

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Plain carbon, medium carbon steel like 1045 is shallow hardening meaning that if you quench a piece 5/8" square in section or less, it will harden all the way through. However, if the stock is thicker than 5/8" in section, it will not harden through and through. You'll get what is termed the case core effect. You'll get a hard case and a tough core (having NOTHING to do with case hardening). I don't know how thick the hard case would be on a hammer head, but let's guess that on a 3 # hammer, it would be 3/16" inch. Then there would remain a tough, resilient core within, the portion that did not harden.

 

This all has to do with the rate of heat abstraction for the hot piece when quenched. You can't get hardening in the core, because you're not abstracting heat fast enough. Too much mass.

 

After tempering, the question remains, is the case core effect good or not so good? I think it's fine. You have tempered the hard case properly and the core acts as a "shock absorbent cushion" for the tool when in use.

 

Quite often, high alloy steels are deeper hardening than plain carbon steels. I've made all my hammers out of old truck and auto axles which are 1045 or close to it.

 

Sayings and Cornpone

Why did the cowboys all start wearing tennis shoes?

 

So you could tell them from the truck drivers!

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I would use those for something else and look for some 1045, or some 4140 type materials. D2 is way overkill for a hammer, and if not heat treated correctly it can crack on you. I used it for die sets where I needed wear resistance punching steel. S7 is a shock resistance steel, but again I would say overkill for a hammer.

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methinks I bought a hammer from someone......name excapes me.......that was S7, kinda a nice rounding hammer, but it was machined, not forged.

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My main forging hammer is made of S7 a friend of mine acted as a striker and we made it by hand . It is definitelt a pain to forge but the benifit is a extreamly durable hammer face in 5 years of use and newby abuse i have yet to mark the peen or hammer face . Home heat treating  of s7 is a bit like baking cookies if all you have is a propane furnace or coal fire but doable. Plan on twice the time for forging and keep the part above curie point at all times as it can harden under your hammer. 

 

I would not bother with d2 as the heat treat is really a pain without that programible furnace we all want.

 

enjoy

 

 

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The other big consideration when making a hammer out of a fancy air hardening super steel, is that it will likely be considerably harder than your anvil face.  Redressing your hammer face is preferable, and easier than cleaning up a ton of divots from misplaced hammer blows. There are reasons that people use the alloys that they do for specific tools... I still miss occasionally...

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An other good steel for making hammers is Atlantic 33. Brent Bailey uses this type of steel.

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On 5/13/2014 at 4:03 PM, rthibeau said:

methinks I bought a hammer from someone......name excapes me.......that was S7, kinda a nice rounding hammer, but it was machined, not forged.

Could the hammer have been made by Jim Poor? might even say Flatland Forge. I have three of his hammers and love them.

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I made my first hammer out of railroad steel. I don't use it anymore because it was a sad deformed thing, but I have made 2 more since then out of it, as well as a few hardy hole tools. I think it is comparable to 1070 with additional manganese to make it deep/work hardening, but either way, it's tough stuff. I have heard that the work hardening can be an issue, but I have never had any chipping, even one time where I didn't realize I was hammering directly onto the corner of my hot cut tool.

My anvil is also a a 4 foot section of hardfaced rr set in concrete. So is my axe. And the doornocker on my front door (really, it was a gift to my wife). And probably some other stuff lying around. I may have a problem. 

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Buddy of mint dropped off an 18 wheeler axle goin try to make an axe out of a chunk anybody try one of them for a hammer or axe.

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