twandawg85

Hammer from spring steel?

25 posts in this topic

So I want to make a hammer. Similar style to those that Alec steele makes.  I've also seen them referred to as brian brazeal style hammers. So first off, does this style actually have a name? If so, what is it?  I've only seen them labeled as "blacksmith rounding hammer" or just "rounding hammer."  

Anyway on to the real question I have. Would spring steel make a good hammer? 

I need to make some tools to make the hammer, and I know spring steel would probably be good for those, but can't find any info about making a hammer with it. 

The reason I ask is I have a pile of springs. A friend worked for a place with a big scrap pile, and he got permission from the owner to take all the springs that came in. So every few days he would stop by and unload a couple springs. Ranges from thin car coils,  to some leaf springs that each individual spring is at least an inch thick in the middle.  Unfortunately he doesn't work there anymore, so my pile is now shrinking instead of growing. 

I realize it's a mystery as to what the steel actually is. Every time I grab a new one I do test quenches to see if/how it hardens. From what I have read most of em are likely 5160.  And from my research it reacts as I would expect 5160 to react, but I've never had a verified piece of 5160 to test against, and I don't know how it would act as a hammer. 

Thanks in advance for the help, I have already learned a ton searching through this forum. 

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Sure but do you have a spring that's a convenient size? Leaf spring? What are you going to do weld up a big old billet? Got a coil spring from 2" stock? I salvaged one out of a crusher that's 3 1/4" stock and the only reason I talked a friend into helping me get in the truck is for the hammers it'd make. 

Just buy a piece of 4140 it makes excellent hammer stock and you don't have to test or guess what it's heat treat or work hardening properties are.

Frosty The Lucky.

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What do you mean planning? I'm just making this up as I go. 

My only thought was to weld a big billet. 

I was guessing that was the biggest reason I haven't seen much talk about it. There aren't a ton of springs out there large enough to make a decent size hammer. 

I understand the idea and reliability of buying known steels. And someday I might be there. But part of the reason I got into blacksmithing is taking something that has already lived its useful life, and is now "useless" and making it new again. It adds to the story of the tool or whatever is made. And I feel that adds to the overall quality. 

Its also kind of a personal challenge. I just wanted to make sure I would end up with a quality hammer if the entire process was successful. No point in even attempting it if I would end up with a piece of junk no matter how well I did my part. 

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You might struggle with forge welding the spring steel to itself. I have seen posts from some others about forging the hammer body from mild then forge welding a spring steel face on but not sure how effective it has been.

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If you have access to scrap and want to make a hammer, get an axle.

Key lesson: do NOT get locked into thinking that you have to use this particular material for that particular job just because you have it. One of the most important skills a blacksmith (anyone, really) can have is the mental discipline to step back and say "Am I doing the right thing?" You want to make a hammer. Great. You have lots of leaf spring. Great. There is nothing that says you have to combine those two.

Now, to answer your question about hammer names: a "rounding hammer" is a hammer with a flat face on one side and a round face on the other; the most common description of the profile of the latter is a "squashed ball". The style Alec Steele makes is derived from that of his teacher Brian Brazeal, who in his turn developed it from his experience using one as a farrier. There are a few different kinds of rounding hammers; the Brazeal style is characterized by fairly deep fullering between the faces and the cheeks and also on the cheeks themselves.

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5 hours ago, RobbieG said:

 I have seen posts from some others about forging the hammer body from mild then forge welding a spring steel face on but not sure how effective it has been.

This used to be the way to make hammers when steel was very expensive. I have two that I picked up from flea market sales. I keep them as historical artefacts. The soft peens are a nuisance.

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Personally, I don't think it would be smart to forge weld the springs together to make a hammer. In all that forging you're putting a lot of stress into the steel, so when take a  potentially faulty material, such as used springs, and forge weld them together, making MORE flaws and faults, the results could very well be dangerous and even deadly.

 

I Would take the springs, and make the tools you need to make the hammer. And then buy known steels to forge your hammer. 

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Well there is lots of springs out there that are a good hammer making size---some RR car springs or I have a spring from a large earth mover that's a coil spring 1.5" in diameter stock.

However if you are asking this question you probably are not at the point of being able to forge weld springs together and have a sound billet.

Besides truck axle, many fork lift tines are a good medium carbon steel alloy and come in beefy sections.  Also a lot of old Ag steel was around 1080 and can be founds in good sized cross sections.

Especially as you are working on your skillsets, trying to force your scrap into something it doesn't want to be is generally a waste of time.  Once you get *good* then forging a couple of moonbeams and a tank penetrator and some rusty barb wire into a set of smithing tools can be an easy task...

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So the appropriate name for the hammer I'm talking about would be a Brazeal style hammer? 

So if I'm understanding this right, most of you are saying the steel would make a good hammer, but I don't have the experience to do it? 

I know this isn't something I have to do out of the spring steel. But I want to. Specifically because it will stretch my abilities. I've also read 5160 doesn't like to stick to itself. I figure if I can get good at sticking something that doesn't like to stick, everything else will be easy by comparison. 

Also just to clarify, I'm not going to attempt a hammer out of this until/unless I get quality practice welds.  I am considering safety. 

So outside of my personal inability, is there anything about the characteristics of the steel that would make it bad for a hammer? 

I understand what characteristics can make a good knife.  But not what makes a good hammer. Is it still just a balancing act between how hard and how tough it us? Or is there something else I'm not seeing?

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Most likely you have the ability, but lack the experience or skill.

Make 25, each better than the last and you can gain both experience and skill.

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Another approach that avoids the forge welding entirely would be to cut a 4 pound piece of the spring, then re-shape it to a hammer blank size block. For example, a 1" thick X 3" wide X 4-3/4" long piece could be re-shaped to a 2" Dia X 4-1/2" long hammer blank. No need to add mass, just move the volume to where you need it. Of course this all depends on the tools available, such as power hammer or striker, and your determination.

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You're cruel JME1149; they don't call it upsetting for nothing!

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No Twang the type hammer is a "Rounding" or "Turning" Hammer. Brian Brazeal just makes a currently popular one developed out of (I believe) Mr. Haberman's turning hammer.

Have you ever read the "Dunning Kruger effect"? If you have or read it now don't take it as a personal shot, it's human nature we've ALL experienced it. It's connected to your questions, desires and expectations in this thread in this way. You seem to believe there is some secret or special knowledge that'll tell you what you want to know. Unfortunately you don't know enough to know what you don't know.

You don't even know what questions to ask.

You don't know enough to understand the answers laid out repeatedly in plain english. 

Rewording the same question doesn't change the answer.

Telling us what you intend doesn't mean diddly, Mother INTENDED I be a Dr. or DVM ad I intended to have a harem. (Jr. High me that was.)

Build a fire beat some steel. Shop garage, yard, etc. sales for hammers. Ay smooth faced hammer under 32oz. is a perfect beginner's hammer a drill hammer is even better. I start students out on one of my drill hammers, 32oz. short handled makes them very controllable and heavy enough to do good work.

Learn to blacksmith THEN learn to make advanced tools, right now making tongs is a darned high bar for your apparent skills sets. Ever head a rivet?

We're not trying to discourage you, we're strongly vested in helping folk along in their addiction to the blacksmith's craft. Unfortunately we've seen too many guys dive in with preconceived notions like you demonstrate and when they discover they aren't good enough discourage themselves and quit.

I don't want to read about YOUR tool sale.

Frosty The Lucky.

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16 hours ago, Frosty said:

Just buy a piece of 4140 it makes excellent hammer stock and you don't have to test or guess what it's heat treat or work hardening properties are

I would recommend 1045, just because it is much easier to forge, but holds up just fine.

                                                                                                                       Littleblacksmith

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I think there has been a bit of a misunderstanding. I'm definitely still a newbie, but I already have good hammers, a good coal forge(one I designed that is not like any I have seen before, and I love it). Been at the forge at least twice a week since August of last year, sometimes going weeks where I was forging daily. I've made Grilling forks, dinner bells, s hooks,  J hooks, fire pokers, punches, a touch mark, drifts, chisels, tongs, a few knives, and who knows what else. 

There are basically 2 reasons I want to do this.

1) I want to get good at forge welding. (the coal I have access to needs a TON of air, so I already know I'm going to be fighting oxidation. Going to have to get my pieces cleaned right and flux properly)  

2) I want to see if I can do it. (this is the biggest reason). 

I came on here because I am getting to the edge of what I can learn without interaction. 

I've already read what you are telling me in this thread in other threads.  I already have a great deal of respect for the knowledge many of you have and share (I was very happy when I saw Frosty was the first to respond). 

I know what hammers I have and what I like. 

I think it's awesome(and a bit funny) that you suggested a drilling hammer.  Right now my go to hammer is a 3 lb drilling hammer that I rounded one side so it's like a rounding hammer. My 2 complaints about it are 1) I want a longer handle 2) I want a larger hammer face for certain tasks. 

The reason I kept re-explaining was to try and reassure you that 

1) I already know there is better way to do this if I want a consistent result. 

2) I already know that at my current skill level I will probably fail the first time I try. Especially if I go straight to this next. 

3) I already know that what I'm talking about is out of the ordinary, and possibly a little insane. 

Some of my problems are my only experience is with mild steel and mystery springs, and I just can't seem to find much information on hammer making.

If I just wanted to make a hammer I would probably get some 1045, or a scrap axle. But I don't need a hammer I simply want to experiment. 

I can find tons of information on what steels make good knives and why those steels make good knives. I haven't been able to find any of that information on hammers. 

A few of you have said spring steel makes good hammers, but I'm looking for why you think it makes good hammers.

I guess what I'm really asking is.  

If you had a piece of 5160 or mystery spring of the appropriate size to make a hammer, why do you think that would make a good hammer and/or why do you think that would make a bad hammer? 

And/or

Does anyone have a 5160 or mystery spring hammer? If so what do you like about it? Or what do you not like about it? 

 

I apologize if something about what I said is rubbing someone the wrong way.  I am definitely new to this, and figuring out most of what I know alone in my shop or researching online. The only direct contact with a metal worker I have is a guy 45 minutes away, and he does mostly fabrication work. 

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There's actually a decent amount of info on IFI about hammer steel; do keep looking. Here's a pro tip: the search function of the forum software isn't very good, but you can find a lot more information by doing a google search and including "iforgeiron" as one of your search terms. I just did that with a search for hammer steel and got more than half a dozen different threads about proper steel for hammers.

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I get that. I've done that. I've been looking for this for a while. 

If you start your Google search with 

site:www.iforgeiron.com

Then a space and then whatever you want to search you will get even better results because you will only get results from iforgeiron.com.  this works with any website, just change the URL. 

I didn't mean there was absolutely no information. Just that when I was doing this research for knives I found an overabundance of information. The info I'm finding for hammers is few and far between. I've read many of them. I've read about steels being too hard and damaging an Anvil, I've read about people using hammers that aren't hardened. I've read about steels that are too hard if they are hardened, but not if you don't harden them. 

But I've only found 2 threads talking about hammers and spring steel or 5160. One is a riveting hammer made of a coil spring, the other is a 5160 face welded on. 

I'm partially trying to figure out why that is. Especially since most of the answers in this thread are "sure it would make a good hammer, but don't do it, use this instead" 

I will continue to look though. 

Outside of my personal ability, no one(other than ejrailroadtrack) has commented on why spring steel would or would not make a good hammer. 

Which is partly my fault because it's not the question I asked in the first post. But I thought we would have a conversation about the question I asked, instead of everyone beating into me something I already know, which is I don't have the ability to do this yet. 

I just don't get why the vast majority of people are responding as if the first thing I did was come on here and ask a stupid question. I did research, I've got some experience moving hot steel, I know I'm ignorant about many things, that's why I'm here. But this is far from the first thing I've wanted to know, it's just the first one I couldn't find an answer to (concerning blacksmithing that is... There are lots of answers I want that I haven't been able to find). 

I kinda feel like I'm being treated like I came on here and said,   "I'm gonna make a million layer Damascus hammer sword axe with a retracting toothpick, but..... What's a fuller?"  

Well. I guess I've kinda switched to just rambling at this point. So. Sorry. I'll shut up now and wait for a response. 

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Your last post brought some clarity to my mind; You're not so much asking if its possible, but what the pros and cons of a spring steel hammer. 

Spring steel is medium carbon, if I am remembering correctly. In my opinion, and it is no more than that, I think you should try it. My experience with spring is that if you eave it normalized it can deform under heavy use (mostly struck tools). A spring hammer could be very useful for many applications. It won't be as soft as a mild hammer, but it won't be harder than your anvil face, I reckon. 

 

I think at this point its clear that not many people on IFI are interested in making a spring steel hammer. But YOU are. So? Show us. I for one would very much like to see your attempts, be they failure or success, because no matter what, if you have commited to doing this, then you have gotten up out of your armchair and into the shop. And while it might not be everything, those first steps count for a lot. 

 

Give it a try! 

 

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That is exactly what I was trying to ask, but I overcomplicated it. 

What are the pros and cons of a spring steel hammer? 

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A hammer can be many things. Let's say, for the sake of discussion, that you want to make a dedicated hammer for hitting struck tools. You would then want something softer than the tools being struck, while at the same time some toughness so that it doesn't deform too easily. You would want this hammer to be fairly heavy, so as to deliver solid blows to the struck tools. As it is not a main forging hammer, it could have two faces, like a drilling hammer. -- 

    The pros of using normalized spring steel for this application are: The hammer will not deform as quickly as mild steel, so less dressing.

    The Cons of using this steel: Will deform the struck ends of tools more easily, especially if the struck tools have less carbon than it. It also increased the chances of shearing off work hardened mushrooming of the struck tools. 

 

Now, let's say you want a general forging hammer. This hammer should be fairly hard, but not as hard as the anvil. It would need to keep its form, and not deform. As it will be used on hot steel, you don't need it diamond hard. 

    Pro: Spring steel can give you the desired results

   Con: May not have enough carbon content to get it hard enough. 

 

Now, you can apply all that is written about spring steel in other posts (and written about in other applications) here, but looking at what is spring steel good for, and what are the parameters you are looking for in a given hammer. 

By creating this matrix of what you are looking for vs. which steel can do what, you can then go ahead and easily figure out for yourself what the pro's and cons of a given steel in a given application would be. It just takes a bit of digging and plugging in what you find into what you know about the tools and the steels. 

 

 

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Since you did not find the answer after serious search and since you did not get a complete answer to that question in this thread I assume the answer is: "We do not know for sure since we did not do it ourselves". Most of us do not have access to spring steel in dimensions suitable for a hammer head and most of us would try to make as good a hammer as we can rather than testing our abilities to forge weld by making hammer heads. YOU have to do it yourself and please tell us the result - with pictures.

Spring steel can be heat treated to a hardness that is too high for a hammer and also to one that is too low. So without having tried it myself I would suggest that it can be done - provided that the welding is OK.

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You have gotten a ton of useful response from more accomplished smiths than I, but if I can still be of any help...

If you want to practice your welding I would recommend using the spring steel to hardface mild steel hammer bodies.    Several reasons for this:

  • Difficulty of welding the presumed 5160 to itself to make a monolithic hammer due to chromium content
  • Difficulty of upsetting the 1" thick 5160 stock to the 2" size needed for the style rounding hammer you describe
  • Ability of a composite hammer to have the desirable hard face with soft eye without differential heat treatment (you will still need to temper the faces, but it will be a lot easier)

Trust me this will still provide plenty of challenge getting successful forge welds for this specialized hammer making.  Getting the two faces welded on (do it before punching and drifting, obviously) will test your speed, accuracy, forge atmosphere and temperature control skills.  You will be welding fairly thick stock and will need to use a number of tricks to do that well also.  Your welds will be tested in use with fairly severe shock loads, so they will need to be good.

I have made hammers with wrought iron bodies and 1075 faces, 1045 and 4140 monolithic construction, and wrought iron and 56100 faces.  The only style I would caution against is the last.  I have to assume that a proposed mild steel with 5160 would behave most like the first.  I like my wrought hammer with the 1075 face a lot and use it regularly for forging.  For whatever reason it has a "thwack" sound in use rather than a "ping" (for want of a better description), while still having a hard face and good rebound.  Works for me, but make your own and tell us how it goes...

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I cant really offer anything further on the pros or cons of spring steel however i did recently see a hammer being made from a Damascus billet. Alec Steel posted a video not long ago where he made a cross pain hammer and also has made a farriers nailing on hammer. Both are beautiful and may be worth a look if you are looking for some inspiration.

 

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57 minutes ago, Zeroclick said:

I cant really offer anything further on the pros or cons of spring steel however i did recently see a hammer being made from a Damascus billet. Alec Steel posted a video not long ago where he made a cross pain hammer and also has made a farriers nailing on hammer. Both are beautiful and may be worth a look if you are looking for some inspiration.

 

Elmer Rousche is famous for his carved, pattern welded hammers.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Ive seen some of alec steeles Damascus, Thats part of my inspiration for wanting to learn to forge weld (I've actually wanted to make damascus since I saw his american flag pattern), but I need to get a solid basic forge weld before I try welding over and over again to get a decent layer count for Damascus. 

I just looked up Elmer Roush (Im guessing thats who you meant because thats what google kept changing Rousche to). Found a video of him carving a hammer, those are some nice looking hammers. 

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