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Modifying a mini-sledge


Jon Kerr

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Hi all,

I've had a look at both these posts and they're very informative: 

 

 

 

Does anyone have any further recommendations in terms of modifying a hammer into something more useful/suitable for forging?

Please excuse my ignorance, I'm very new to all this, but it appears as though a really good "workshorse" hammer is a Hofi-style or German style shape.... cross pein, with a square face, dressed as per the description in the above thread.

Is it reasonable to assume that one could grind a hand-sledge into a similar shape to a Hofi/german hammer for a similar effect? I guess you'd have to watch out for the balance, and ensure the face was dressed properly?

 

I bought a couple of old hand sledge's this weekend (at a car-boot sale, for 50p each). I'm hoping I can grind them into a cross pein, balance by removing material from the front, then dress the face. See the attached image (stolen from another thread on here) as an example of the basic shape I'd hope to achieve (then dressed according to the above post, 24" radius etc) 

What needs to be done in terms of hardening etc?

Would this result in a good hammer? Any tips, warnings, pitfalls?

Cheers,

JK

image-1.jpg

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I have a set of 3 3# double jack hammers I modified, one with a full radius cross pein, one with a full radius strait pein and one with a full radius ball pein, used with the horn as a bottom fuller they are my go to drawing hammers. I also have a pair with mor conventional 1” radius pein made from 3# double jack hammers as well. 

As a farrier I grab my rounding hammer it my cats eye cross pein most often. 

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I modified a 3lb. double jack into a very nice rounding hammer that was my go-to before I started making my own. 

Whatever you do to modify yours, make sure you grind slowly, so as not to build up heat and ruin the temper.

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Here’s the hammers I got cheap.

Any recommendations for modifications?

I’m thinking of grinding the handle-less sledge as shown in the image. Its only 2lb to begin with so I’d only be left with about 1.5lbs. Not sure its worth it?

I might just dress both sides of the sledge with the handle, but I’d really like a hofi-ish style cross peen for drawing out.

Suggestions welcome.

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That little drilling hammer you did the lay out lines on, does that stamp say 2, or 2 1/2? looks like two and a half to me but it may be my old eyes. You can radius one face without removing nearly as much material as indicated by your lay out lines. As for the cross peen, it would be a lot less work to look for a cross peen hammer and re shape from there. You could cut away that much material with a chop saw and then grind and polish but with that much cutting I would count on having to re harden and temper.

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Its very hard to read but I think you’re right, 2.5lbs.

I’m keen to try the cross pein- I can probably get it band-sawed at work to start with and grind from there. How critical is balance?

any tips for re-hardening and tempering? I’ll have to read up.

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Balance may be more an individual preference than absolute necessity. I buy Swedish pattern cross peens which have a long slender and thin cross peen. I nub them down until the hammer head is so off center it almost looks like a dogs head hammer with a slight protrusion for the cross peen. I purchased the hammer based on "I really like the way that looks". After using it I realized the cross peen was way too narrow for my purpose so I cut/ground until I had the radius I was looking for on the peen end. I wondered if the hammer was a total loss because I had so drastically altered it from what it was. After forging with it for a while I discovered it is a delight to use. The weight distribution is "different" when using the peen but it has become my favorite two pounder. Since the happy accident of discovering I like the shape I have purchased and modified several more. That's not to say you will absolutely love it if it's balanced off center but you wont know till you try. That's what cheap hammer heads are for. My most expensive hammers are in the $300.00 USD price range and I do love them dearly. I knew what they were before I purchased them and I never regret bringing a tool home! Some of my favorites are chop jobs/re profiles I've done with junk sale finds at a couple of dollars each. The old rusty hammer heads are a lot more bang for your buck because you wont be afraid to experiment with them and it's a thrill when you come up with one that just feels right and moves metal the way you want it to!

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14 minutes ago, Jon Kerr said:

How do I tell if I’ve ruined the temper?

When steel is heated to tempering colors (between 390°F/199°C and 575°F/302°C), the surface oxidizes and produces colors on a spectrum from straw to brown to purple to blue. At any point in the grinding, did the steel change color and run through that spectrum? If so, you affected the temper; if not, you probably didn't.

The shapes of your face and peen look good. Sanding the sides was unnecessary, but if you prefer that look to the previous patina and wear, that's certainly a valid choice.

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No it didn’t change colour, even during the milling. I did have the coolant running. Perhaps I got away with it?

Yeh I wanted to polish the sides up a bit as it was pretty manky before. Those rust pits went fairly deep, as you can see since there are many pits remaining. It will weather off again in time :)

Thanks for all the tips etc- glad the face and peen look right!

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I have been fiddling around with my first heat treats and tempering... watching the temper colours move across the metal is rather hypnotising, I almost missed my chance to fix the temper because I carried away watching it the second time ;) 

If you're making a knife I can definitely recommend making a herb chopper (an herb chopper for the other side of the pond) or a blacksmith knife as it means you can focus on the blade skills before learning how to put handles on and probably wasting time on putting handles on something that is ugly and not optimally functional. I'll be making a few more herb choppers/blacksmith knives to get those skills down and then moving on to a chef's knife. 

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When you handle your new forging hammer try copying Uri Hofi's handle design. A slab handle has a LOT to say for it. The round commercial handles are harder to control and tire you more quickly as they're harder to hold than a slab. I taper mine from the head to the end to make it easier.

Nice job on the hammer did you use a wheel or belt grinder? A little slack belt grinding at the bevel transitions really softens the corners nicely.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Coming from the farrier side of things, a handle from the inside of your elbow to the base of your ring finger is nice, you can always choke up. Jerry is right, a 1x1 1/4” handle is a lot better than those fat hand suede handles. Look at ball pein and blacksmith commercial handles they are slim. You want the tip of your fingers just touching the meat of your thumb. Fat handles lead to a death grip, a death grip leads to inaccuracy, fatigue and injury. 60% of your grip strength comes from your pinkie, that tells you something about the way you should grip tools.

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1 hour ago, Frosty said:

When you handle your new forging hammer try copying Uri Hofi's handle design.

Nice job on the hammer did you use a wheel or belt grinder?

Will do! I just looked at the IFI article on how Hofi makes his hamer handles and I might just copy that. Who knows where I can find a suitable piece of wood though....? I doubt my local timber yard carries 1” hickory.

I used a belt sander with a new belt. It really ripped the material away pretty easily. The shape on the corners etc isn’t perfect but hopefully its good enough for now. 

What I really need now is to find time at a reasonable hour of the day to hit some hot metal in my garden!

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Find what they used to use in your area and try that!   I'm faced by many square miles of pecan orchards so I can access that easily.  Wasn't crab extolled as a flexible and strong wood, (John Barleycorn's "crab tree stick"), Yew?  (If it will make a good bow it will probably make a decent hammer handle).   Or find a broken pickaxe handle and carve a section into a hammer handle...

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Do I need to be picky about the type of wood? I can get wooden broom handles easily but I cant imagine they’re decent wood (pine)...

Whats the advantage of hickory as a handle for example? Is it simply strength and durability, or is it also to do with stiffness for efficient blows etc?

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Typicaly those woods that make good bows make good handles. Hickory has a stringy texture when you try and split it, this tenacity makes for a more durable handle. Another factor is hardness, harder woods don’t crush as easaly, their for they can be wedged tighter and hold in the eye beter. We want a hard, stable difficult to split wood for handles.

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Hickory is by far the strongest, longest grain hardwood but there are other suitable options. Osage, aka Bois de Arc is good, Ash and Mulberry are nice too. As stated above, bow woods. Pallet lumber is iffy but there are less expensive ways to find good handle wood without paying a premium for pre shaped handles. I have purchased replacement handles for wheel barrows at my local building supply for about the price of one pre made hammer replacement handle. I can rip one of the barrow handles lengthwise and get six hammer handles for the price of one. The barrow handles are marked as Ash or Hickory depending on where you buy them.

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