19Branden86

Do I Need A Longer Handle?

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Well the title pretty well sums it up. I was just curious if it would do any good to have a longer hammer handle. 

(Each tic on the anvil is an inch)

20170618_191300.jpg

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It depends on the weight of the hammer, and how it feels in YOUR hand.

You can move your hand toward the hammer head on a long handle hammer, but you can not slide your hand past the end of the handle on a short handled hammer.

Jymm Hoffman's hammers are based on early pattern hammers, good for reenactments and other historic trades demonstrations.  His hammers weigh: 1 lbs 12 oz to 3 lbs 2 oz. The hickory handles are 14 to 16 inches long.

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I suppose if "19Branden86" isn't a long enough handle to suit you, why not. Want some help thinking of a new longer web handle? :)

That's a "drill hammer" primarily used to drive rock, masonry, etc. drills. The short handle is to increase accuracy and control in use. They are my go to hammers when I need accuracy over power. The shorter handles also put less stress on your arm so they tire you more slowly and are less likely to do soft tissue damage.

I start beginners off with one of the 32oz. drill hammers for the ease (relatively) of control and enough weight to do some good work. When they start developing good hammer control I move them up to longer handles and heavier heads.

You can find smooth faced hammers in the same weight range on long handles, I wouldn't change that one out when a little garage, yard, etc. sale cruising will turn up hammers of all sizes for less than buying a replacement handle for a perfectly good hammer as it stands.

Give it a try for a while, I think you'll like it. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Even if you do eventually switch to a longer-handled hammer, keep this one, and keep it as it is. You may well find it better suited to some tasks, and it's always good to have a variety of tools to choose from.

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Okay. I will definitely heed your guys' advice. The local lumber yard here has what appears to be a Swedish style cross-pein hammer for about $25 bones. 2 1/2 pound weight on about a foot long handle I may just pick up after work and leave my drilling hammer as is.

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Just make sure to remove any heavy varnish along with any stickers or decals from the handle. Smooth wood finished with a little oil and/or wax is all you need, and it's easier on the hands.

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Okay. Will do! And I need to dress the face. All those factory hammers have that big bevel and the spiral pattern on the face. Probably should dress the cross pein as well when I get it. Get rid of any sharp edge the pein may have

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Several threads on IFI about dressing hammer faces and peens. Do check them out.

(Pro tip: the native search function on the forum is quirky. You'll probably get better results from typing what you're looking for into the search engine of your choice and including "iforgeiron.com" as one of your keywords.)

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I think a longer handle is better. Somewhere in the 16-18" range. If I really need to get after something, I like to have the length to get a lot of whip. Maybe it's the farrier in me. Not sure. I do see a lot of blacksmiths with short handles and the swing looks like it will cause joint damage in the future. My opinion. I also would shape the handle. Make it skinnier. That way your not "gripping" the hammer. I was told by Roy Bloom, that when I'm swinging, hard or soft, someone should be able to come and grab that hammer out of your hand. I'm sure I could dig up a video on you tube of him explaining that too

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Interesting comment as he suggests to put the thumb on the top of the hammer handle as a guide, to guide the hammer to the work.

Many blacksmiths suggest NOT to put the thumb on the top of the hammer, but to grip the handle like you would a tennis racket, with the thumb wrapped around the handle. They say it creates less stress on the hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder and body.

 

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This is just an observation as do not disagree with what he is saying, but I want to learn from his methods.

anvil height.png

Anyone notice that the face of his anvil is about mid thigh for him, and he bends over when he uses the anvil? Seems a bit low as blacksmiths suggest knuckle high or maybe a bit higher.

 

hand grip 2.jpg

He suggests that the proper size for the hammer handle is when the ring finger wraps around the handle and does not touh the heel of the hand. He suggests about a 1/4 inch gap between the end of the ring finger and the heel of the hand when the handle is the proper diameter or size.

 

The Hammer Swing

He suggests that you swing with the hammer aligned to the center of your body, elbow tucked in to the side. If you miss the hot metal, and hit the anvil face, with your elbow out, the hammer will kiss you on the side of the head. If the hammer kisses you between the eyes, the elbow is tucked in and is good, meaning in a good position. 

If you get hit in the head from the rebound of missing the hot metal and hitting the hammer face, then in my opinion, your body position is incorrect. Let me explain.

Put metal on the anvil face, put the hammer on the metal, and position yourself so you can get hit in the head from the rebound of a missed hammer blow on the anvil. You can not see the impact point of the hammer head on the metal, as the hammer head is directly in the line of sight, blocking your vision. 

Take a half step or so to the side and put the hammer on the metal. This should align your shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, and hammer head all in one plain. If you miss hot metal and hit the anvil, the rebound will move the hammer head in line with your shoulder and to the outside of your ear. Put the hammer head on the metal again. You can actually see exactly where the hammer will impact the metal, with no blind spots. 

If you use a diagonal peen hammer, the righted handed smith will use a right handed diagonal peen hammer. Standing to the side, the right handed peen is oriented NW to SE and allows the smith to see where the hammer peen will hit the metal. The left handed peen is oriented SW to NE and the peen will block his view of the impact area. If you stand directly over the hammer head, the hammer head, regardless of peen orientation, will block the view of where the hammer head hits the metal. 

Again, I do not disagree with what he is saying. I want to learn from what he is teaching, and then compare it to what is suggested by other blacksmiths. His methods obviously work for him, and their methods obviously work for them. The two methods just seem to be a ways apart.

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I agree with Glenn. I hold the hammer as a tennis racket except when doing finicky things. I hold the elbow out from the body and I keep the anvil higher. I do not do it that way because someone told me to. I do it that way because it is easier. I was told at a fairly tender age to concentrate on the nail not on the hammer and that works for me. Until today I have never thought about where I hold my elbow. One thingless to worry about. Of course the grip should be loose. That holds for any tool, lever, crank or wheel. To grip harder than is necessary to guide the thingummibob in question is not only tiring it decreases control.

My back told me a few years ago that anvil height is wrist not knuckle.   

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20 hours ago, Glenn said:

 

anvil height.png

Anyone notice that the face of his anvil is about mid thigh for him, and he bends over when he uses the anvil? Seems a bit low as blacksmiths suggest knuckle high or maybe a bit higher.

Glenn - you have to take into account the perspective view of the picture as he is away from the anvil a bit, and the picture is taken looking slightly downward - my guess is it's higher than you think.

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It's hard to explain this through typing. Always easier shown. Keeping your work inline and in front of, you'll get the most out of your hammer swing. The hammer doesn't get in the way of seeing your work. It's not hiding the steel.

As far as keeping your elbow out, you're going to work your shoulder a heck of a lot harder. My shoulder let's me know when my swing is wrong. It's not keeping it super tight to you, but more in line.

Anvil height. A very discussed topic. A very high anvil will also blow out your arm. Happen to a friend of mine, but hers was super high. I tend to keep mine a bit low. Bend the knees and focus on posture. With a lower anvil, I can get a longer hit, that is a lot harder while whipping the hammer  handle in my hand. 

These are things that work for me. I'm just a crippled up farrier though. Haha. These are things I've seen and talked about with world champion farriers that forge on a daily basis. Obviously,  if your way works for you, keep on at it. I've always just wondered why a blacksmith swings different than a farrier

3 minutes ago, jeremy k said:

Glenn - you have to take into account the perspective view of the picture as he is away from the anvil a bit, and the picture is taken looking slightly downward - my guess is it's higher than you think.

When I was at Roy's shop, his anvil is pretty much at the end of his knuckles. 

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The more times you watch Mr. Bloom's video, the more you notice the small things he does. You can not see those things in real time. 

3 hours ago, jeremy k said:

you have to take into account the perspective view of the picture as he is away from the anvil a bit, and the picture is taken looking slightly downward - my guess is it's higher than you think.

I had that same thought about perspective when that image was chosen as an example.

 

3 hours ago, Hotshoein4 said:

When I was at Roy's shop, his anvil is pretty much at the end of his knuckles.

Time for some research, and I found the answer.

Bloom 14.jpg

In the video part 1 of 4 Mr. Bloom suggests knuckle high as a starting anvil height. He also talked about the differences in using a farriers anvil and a blacksmiths anvil. 

 

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Oh I'm glad you found that one Glenn. That makes a lot of sense about heights of the anvil. And I do, at times, find myself very up close to the steel doing that fine work. I've also learned being that close has a major downside. If that hot steel for some reason wants to jump up out of the tongs, it stings the face pretty good. Usually happens at that black heat when it should be in the fire....

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The site self corrects, and that is a good thing.

For fine work, raise the anvil. It puts you closer to the work as well as straightens your back. Another reason to have more than one anvil (grin)

Try putting the anvil height at wrist high for a while. You may want to make a height adjustment block for the current anvil. Maybe a piece of plate, square stock, or tubing with a hardie post on one end and wings on the other end to keep it aligned with the anvil. Rather than tongs use a hold fast or dog to secure the work.

Mr. Bloom mentioned a stall jack. You may want to look into one of those for the fine work. For the non-farriers, google it and click on images. It appears to be a very useful tool. 

Play with the height to see what fits your needs.

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