alwe1

Tips for forging a hammer

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I am hoping to forge my first hammer and I was wondering if you have any tips or suggestions on how to do it?  I was also wondering what type of steel is best for making a hammer and why?  I have seen some topics that recommend 1045 or 4140 but I was wondering what properties of these steels make them preferred for making hammers. I am also lacking the knowledge of the process to harden them for use forging.  I would really like to make a rounding hammer and would also be grateful for any tips that apply specifically to making rounding hammers.

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Best alloy depends on intended use---breaking rocks vs hitting hot steel for example.  Best also includes things like cost, ease of working/heat treating, etc.  (If it cost more that your car and heat treating cost was US$1000, would it still be "best" for you?)

 

Generally for smithing you want a medium carbon steel that tends towards tough than hard as hard is coupled with brittleness in most steels. As to the alloys mentioned:  cheap, easily found, easily worked, easily heat treated,  play into making them a good steel for hammers.

 

Truck Axles are often used by smiths to make hammers from: tough, easily found/worked, heat treat with blacksmithing methods can be done---usually.

 

Note that the best steel to make hammers from by an experienced well tooled up hammer maker might not be a good one for a beginner.  Also it takes a number of tries to get good at a task so don't expect your first go at it to be perfect or the last go at it.

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What type of steel are truck axles made from?  I know I have several axles of various lengths around as well as other shaft steels from grain stirators these shafts are solid steel and normally anywhere from 1 to 2 inches in diameter.  This brings me to another question what diameter of round stock would be best for this project?  I would like the hammer to be between 3 and 4 pounds.

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From a fellow who used to work at the factory that made them:  PTREE,   (also from a previous post on this topic...)

 

"the industry standard was 1045H below 1 3/8" stock and 1541H for axles above that size for trucks The H modified steel are much more prone to quench cracking than plain 1045/1050; so quenching in oil is suggested. These steels are also prone to grain growth if held at forging temp for very long without working the steel.

4140 was used for some very large axles used in off road equipment like big front end loaders.
Such axles are not usually induction heat treated, but are furnace treated."    

 

I don't know the alloy(s) used for stirator shafts---I suggest contacting the manufacturer(s)

 

A 2" diameter piece of round stock 4" long weighs 3.568 in 4140 steel.

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You're falling into a mind set common to us when we're beginning a new craft. Most all of us have wanted to use or make the best or even perfect thing. As a blacksmith you need to learn good enough or right for instead of "best" or "perfect."

 

As Thomas has said more than once, there is no best hammer steel unless you have a commercial specialty hammer making operation. You might be surprised to find out "Best" in those situations is almost always most economical for the manufacturer followed by good enough for the market.

 

This has been discussed I don't know how many times here, a site search should hit on more info than a person will ever need. Google will bury you in opinions too. For a hint, try searching IFI for "Brian Brazeal turning hammer."

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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if you want to end up with 3 to 4lb start with 4 to 5lb

first learn to make the tools to make your hammer, there are several threads on this, look for threads mentioning Brian Brazeal or other hammer making threads

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I don't expect perfection I just am still learning and was looking for suggestions is all. I didn't want to make one that turned out well enough to be usable only to have it be made of a steel that doesn't make a functional hammer. I fully expect that my first hammer will have many problems just wanted to be pointed a good direction to start.

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I make hammers from 1045, I have used semi truck axles with good results, now I buy new material. The size of hammer depends on the size of you when you are forging. A smaller hammer at a faster speed does more work than a larger hammer at slow speed. A larger hammer swung softly only penetrates the surface. A hydraulic press pushes the material to the core, to move it.

To make your first hammer, make it with something like 1 1/4" - 1 1/2" round or square. When you are ready to punch the hole for the handle, I drill three-1/4" holes, 1/4" between them, holes on center of your placement. This tells the first punch not to wander off the center.

Get on with your wish, you don't have to ask permission from a forum.

 

Get Hammered!! :) :)

 

Neil

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I learned that a combination punch and drift is a poor compromise that didn't save me any time.  Watching video's of hammer head punching and drifting I got to thinking that just one tool would suffice.  There are two things that most video's don't accurately convey.  The first is that it can take a really xxxxxxxx long time for a rookie smith to punch a hole in thick stock working alone.  Most of the videos have sped up production by stopping the recording when the metal is heating - some even skip long intervals of forging.

 

The second is that the tooling gets stuck in the stock.  Some of the better ones by Brian Brazeal and his students show the use of a cup forming tool and a flatter to squeeze the billet lengthwise to release the drift.  Try stacking all that up single handed!

 

Short drifts are a godsend because it's easier to whack them in line.  I thought longer ones would help my alignment - it just made my tools awkward to strike and added unnecessary weight.  Read up on the tooling as others have mentioned.  Brian Brazeal has a few threads about sizing the tooling to match up. 

 

After trying a few times it became obvious why lots of these videos have a striker or a power hammer.  

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thank you for that advice because i have often wondered why they don't do it with just one tool.  What size drift should be used for drifting the eye of a hammer?

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Drift size depends on the size hammer being made, so it fits the handle.

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"So it fits the handle"   really nice to be able to use commercially available handles without a lot of re-work!

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alwe1

 

To add to what Thomas posted, it's also a good idea to have it tapering to match your expected wedge.  The finished cross section of the hammer head hole is hourglass shaped with the top flared a bit more than the bottom.

 

Watch Brian Brazeals youtube videos.  The hammer cheeks are forged with a drift in the hole. It looks like he's working both the hole and the cheeks which would make it much easier to drive the final drift in further because the stock on either side of the drift is thinner.  It's also worth pointing out that the cheeks extend above and below the hammer head creating a longer hole for the handle.  It's my understanding this is to reduce strain on the wood resulting in a stronger connection between handle and head.

 

There's a lot of subtlety in how Brian Brazeal's hammers are made - I learned a lot by watching them and reading his posts on IFI. 

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I make a good many hammers out of 4130. In Mark Aspery's book there is a great section on hammer making. Spreading the sides of the hammer is a style but not a necessary. There are a good many hammer makers that are making hammers and that do not reduce the sides of the hammer. You will develop your own style as you grow in blacksmithing. I always add a half of an inch to the hammer blank. on page 7 of this clinker breaker there is a weight chart. that will come in handy
http://www.blacksmithing.org/CB-Archive/2001/2001-02-cb.pdf

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I am planning on making a hammer to the best of my abilities soon, but am still a little nervous about it. just finished some tongs and i plan on using my guillotine tool to fuller.

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Blacksmiths from Alaska to England have advised you to look up Brian Brazeal. Try the advice you are getting from them. There is a reason for every step of the hammer.

Chuck

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