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I Forge Iron

make a hand hammer


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From the scrap yard: caterpillar track pins make great hammers if you can find them in the right size, oil quench those. Carbon steel 1045 to 1070 makes good hammers you can water quench. Either one, use a torch to heat at the eye and run the colors to temper to the hardness you want....probably just barely purple or so on the face and pein.

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If you are buying steel I would recomend 4340. This has an advantage over plain carbon steels (1035-1090) in that it has nickel and chrome as alloying materials which increases the toughness of the steel making it more resistant to chipping and cracking.

As far as heat treating that depends on the steel. However in general make certain the center of the face of the hammer is harder than the edges. This will reduce the likelihood of chipping on the edges and keep the face from getting "hollow"

This difference in hardness can be obtained both in the quenching process or the tempering process. I know some excellent hammer makers that quench their hammers by spraying a garden hose on the center of the face, making certain that the center of the face is qenched as rapidly as possible for maximum hardness.

I would recommend using a toaster oven for tempering as that way we get acuarate control of the tempering temperature and expose the hammer to an extended time period at the tempering temperature. Remember steel does not change completely instantly. TIme at temperature allows the changes in the steel to occur completely. And of course the commercial heat treaters rule of thumb of 1 hr for every inch of thickness. Thus I would put the hammer head in the toaster oven for 2-1/2 hours allowing time for it to get up tempering temperature.

After it is tempered, use a torch, being careful not to over heat the face or the pien to temper the eye area so it does not crack in that area as well as temper back the edges of the face and corners of the pien slightly to reduce the likelihood of chipping.

As far as junk yard steels that would make a good hammer I would look for agricultual eqipment scrap such as cultivator frames and tool bars. They are usally high carbon steel. I have a 2 inch square cultivator bar that I obtained for making hammers. Of course this may not get done until my health improves.

rthibeau is exactly right on the dozer track pins. Not only are they reasonably good steel they come in a variety of sizes based on the dozer they came from. Thus hammers of various sizes can be made as desired. The only thing wrong with track pins is that they are round and should be forged square for the hammer as I feel strongly that a square faced hammer like a Hofi hammer is superior for most blacksmith work. Look up and find "track repair" and also construction equipment repair shops. The dozer tracks are essentialy a very large roller chain. The pins wear and are pressed out and replaced with new pins. Thus a shop that does track repair should have piles of these pins.

Another good source of junkyard steel is truck and axles. These are often found scrap yards.

Springs are another source of good steel. If you can find some very large coil springs these might have big enough stock for small hammers. Some of the truck springs are getting thicker and thicker. I have some truck springs almost 1.75" thick and 3-1/2" wide. These would make a hammer but a little on the small side.

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I have a coil spring that is made from 1.25" round stock....

One method to temper is to temper from the eye out so that the face(s) are the hardest part and the rest of the hammer body is softer. A ring temper around the face helps too to soften the edges slightly.

Remember trust no dial on any oven. The true temp must be verified with a thermometer if you are going by set temp for tempering. (Even cooks know this and oven thermometers are available most places that sell cooking supplies)

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