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I Forge Iron

Sledgehammers and striking


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Ever since I moved and joined my friend in his smithy, I've found that I really enjoy striking and in the process learned a different way to strike than what I had always done, the one I learned first I believe is called the european method, that's atleast the word I saw in one article I read ages ago where you hold the sledge with your strong hand nearer the head and the opposite foot infront of the other, not far from most martial art basic stances. 

The method I picked up from my friend has me standing straight with a shoulders width between my legs and standing up on my toes as I bring the sledgehammer up and slide the hand down the shaft on the downswing, a good example of that technique is most of Alec Steele's videos where he's striking.

The difference that I notice between those two techniques is mostly the force generated, the sledgehammer travels further and I feel like can bring it down with more speed with the latter technique however I find it less accurate and more time passes between blows so most of the time I use this "european technique" since we almost always are using top tools and I'm both more experienced  with that technique and I feel more accurate.

Now to the point of this post, regardless of technique used after 4-5 heats my arms are practically exhausted so I believe I might be doing something wrong (a video is coming shortly of me striking with both techniques) but does anyone have any tips on how to strike longer and maybe even better? are there any techniques that I don't know about that might be useful?

also the sledgehammer I'm using is 16 lbs I believe

for fun, lets also see your sledgehammers and if you have any fun stories regarding striking I'd love to hear them

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I'd say they best way to last longer is to reduce the weight of the hammer. In my experience using sledgehammers for my job, a 10# is generally good for most people. You want something that you can swing for the time you plan on using it and be accurate with. I've only met a handful of people who can swing heavier hammers for long.

As to techniques, I've always used the first one you describe. I have seen people use the second one and have tried it, but for general use it seems inefficient.

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How to last longer swinging a heavy hammer.... do it more often ;)

Just think of it as weight training. The more you do it, the more the muscles grow, the more control you have.


In the sort term, lighten the hammer, or spend your time away from the forge with the heavy hammer and an old tyre... just beat the xxxx out of it as a workout


Edited by Mod34
Edited for inappropriate language
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3 hours ago, Dabbsterinn said:

regardless of technique used after 4-5 heats my arms are practically exhausted so I believe I might be doing something wrong


also the sledgehammer I'm using is 16 lbs I believe

Well, there's your problem. Like genesaika and JAV say, 10-12 lbs is perfectly fine for most striking. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

As for your techniques, the first you describe is a precision technique, and the second is a power technique. Power is great if you're doing heavy drawing out or upsetting, but precision is generally preferable. You're not getting the job done faster if you need to go back and fix the problems caused by a mis-stroke.

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Tilt the hammer so the handle is vertical before lifting, therefor you are not fighting leverage, second chose a suitable weight, 6,8,10# (I use a 14) are exeptible, I have a 4# hand sledge rehandled for Sandy and the girls. Tilting the hammer works for heavy hand hammers as well, also remember that this is about the speed the head is moving not about how much muscle you are putting into it, tecknech is better than aping it. So guide the hammer down and then “flick” it parralel to the stock at the last, don’t try to physically push it threw the anvil. 

Take a heavy sledge to a drive way to protect your tilt and lift, then split firewood a wile to protect your aim. I never could get the hang of the round swing so I have no advice if you try that

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