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Hello! newbie in pain

Joe H

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Hey everyone. I wasn't sure where to post an introduction, I hope that here is OK.

I'm Joey. I live here in NW Georgia, just a few miles from Chatanooga, Tn. I've been tinkering in metalworking most of my life. I spend alot of time under a welding hood, mostly TIG and some stick. I've also done some sandcasting, and have a foundry built from Dave Gingery's plans.

I've always wanted to try some blacksmithing. I fimally got around to building a little gas forge, and making a sad little anvil from some railroad rail. I just came in from starting my first project. Like many, it's a railroad spike knife.

While I have always had great respect for blacksmiths, in the past hour it has grown tremendously. I thought I was in good shape! Right now I'm trying to catch my breath, and my left forearm (I'm a lefty) is hard as a rock and feeling very sore already. I can see hammer swinging will take some conditioning.

I managed to pound out the basic shape, have lots of grinding to do now.
I'll post some pics when I'm done.

Catch you guys later!

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If your forearms like a brick then chances are you're gripping the hammer too tightly mate, the idea is to grip the hammer just tight enough so you can steer it when you throw it at the steel. Some guys I know (myself included) make a ring with their thumb and fore finger and grip the hammer shaft with that alone, the other fingers curling round the haft just enough to 'snug' it into their palm. Also I'd reccommend not putting your thumb on top of the shaft when striking as this 'may' (opinions differ) lead to a condition like tennis elbow which can effectively end your hand hammering days.
Hofi's hammer technique is absolutely worth looking at, but ultimately you'll probably find your own way of swinging a hammer. I swing with my back, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and to some extent my hand. It's a funny technique but it works for ME. Because I just grip with my thumb and forefinger when I raise the hammer behind my head it tilts back, pivoting off my thumb and forefinger so that my hand is slightly stretched open with my fingers hooked around the shaft (think divers OK signal). I swing forward and at the last second my hand closes around the shaft, (as my wrist snaps forward) adding just a bit more snap than I'd get from my wrist alone. As I've closed my hand around the shaft I've not kept a deathgrip as the hammer hits because the hammer will bounce back up slightly and I can use the upward motion to help lift the hammer for the next swing so long as my hand and wrist are loose.

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I'm still fairly new to blacksmithing, considering that after two or three years I am finally actually learning something, but I agree with the advice given so far. In my day job as a saw filer, I was taught that when hammering out lumps in a saw blade, as you hold the hammer, someone should have little problem pulling the hammer out of your hand. You hold it loosely. I'll have to practice Ian's technique and see how it works for me. But I'll probably do it when no one is around. Do you know just how offended people get when a cross peened hammer comes flying through the air at them? :confused: :P

Oh, and welcome to the forum. Glad to have you.

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Hey i am very new to blacksmithing to newer then you i am still working on my shelter to work in i have no anvil or forge but i do have a hammer:p. But as many people have told me and this is just advice don't make your first project a knife. My first project is most likley going to be tongs or mabe even nail;). But keep in touch with me i really want to know how that knife is going.

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Joe H,
Welcome to I Forge Iron!
I have nothing more to add about hammering techniques. I believe you have been given very good advice already.
Let the hamer be the hammer, you lift and aim the hammer. One of you must be in charge..... (just kidding). I hope you enjoy your adventure into the blacksmithing craft!
Be safe!
Old Rusty Ted

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