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Just out of curiosity, does anyone have much experience with French pattern hammers... enough to tell me why no one seems to use them?
I'm looking into getting some real hammers after a while of using redressed home improvement store sledges. I'm pretty excited.
In the running are french, german, and hofi type hammers. Truthfully, I don't use the peen much, and the tom clark rounding hammers would be perfect excepting that they're kinda expensive for me to just try them. I'm guessing the balance and broad square face of the french hammers would appeal to me, but I notice it seems to be like a straight peen... most people don't like them.
For whatever it's worth, I've always preferred short handles and heavy heads... the hammer I use most is a 4 lb sledge with a slightly convex, square face and a flat, round face. Handle is perhaps 8"
Oh, MOB and Peddinghaus... thoughts on them?
thanks everyone

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hammer styles are a personal thing .... I like the sweedish pattern but i have big hands.. i see the hofi hammers and i couldnt use it there is not enuf height from hammer face to where the handle is but that is my personal preference and not for everybody .. if you like the looks of the french style hammer get one and try it... ive got a bunch of different hammers (blacksmith tend to accumulate them) and ive tride a few at hammer ins ... if it works for you then enjoy!!!

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I agree with the fact of hammers being a personnal preference. That being said....I would recommend the Hofi or Tom Clark but with this note. Learn HOW to use the hammer. It is designed in that particular shape for a reason. They are balanced like no other hammer you will use but the key is how to use it. Either enroll in one of Tom's classes or find out where Mr.Hofi is teaching and attend one of his classes. You will not be disappointed, I can assure you.

Wish we knew where you are from....maybe someone close to you has a hammer like one of the ones you are considering and would let you come visit to try one out. I know I would extend the invite.... Go to the top of the page, click on 'user CP' and update your profile giving you location, it will help later down the road too. You don't have to give you house # and street address but a town/village/general location will help. BTW, glad you are aboard and enjoy the site!

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Before you spend a lot of money on a hammer and want to use something nice. Try one of the Nordic or Diamond rounding hammers that farriers use. get a two pounder and you will save a lot of wear and tear on your body. Farriers suppliers are everywhere ,,They used to be about $20 a piece. Likely more now.

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Well, personal preference it is then. In helping me decide, I'll provide my address and if everyone would kindly mail me their favorite hammer so that i might try it for myself.
In all seriousness, I'm simply wondering how it happens that the vast majority of people seem to like a 2 lb. german.
Choices seem to be
1) face shape (round/square)
2) Balanced/face heavy
3) general weight relative to size of work, myself preferring heavyish
I will add how much I've noticed that the handle shape seems to effect the, well, experience of a hammer. Sometimes a lighter hammer with an awkward handle will feel more cumbersome and unwieldy than a heavier one with a more agreeable handle... which is perhaps again personal preference.
There seems to be a certain combination of variables that produces a "just right," sweet spot type of feeling. I'm wondering what they are.
Oh, and are MOB hammers any good? Thanks to everyone.

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Oh, and this is another relevant issue I think. Are you saying (Mr. Hale) that a lighter hammer is less abusive to your body?
The larger issue of ergonomics is one I care a lot about... both of my wrists are pretty easy to hurt from some work related injuries. I've always found that a heavier hammer and a lighter grip... less WHIP WHIP WHIP seems to keep me happier, though perhaps I do get physically tired a little quicker. Something about the way a heavier hammer "sinks into" steel seems to make everything bounce around, jerk, and twist less...
Then again, I'm still absolutely at the point where if someone said "what you're doing is stupid and you'll regret it in five years," I wouldn't be at all surprised. So I'm pretty open to this conversation, too.

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The power you get from a hammer is simply weight times speed. it is a lot easier to swing a lighter hammer faster than it is a heavier one. and at some point both of them provide the same striking force. I am 66 years old and can move a lot of metal with a hand hammer in a short amount of time. I could not do that with a heavier one, Try them and see which works for you. I do wonder what is bothering your wrists. or is it from before smithing?

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It's actually from before smithing. It's from lifting sixty pound boxes over my head in a tight space... there is simply no OSHA approved way to do it, and a few times in particular I over extended them when the box went its own way, so to speak. I ended up with athletic tape around each one of them (different occasions) for a few months, and since then they're just a little fussy.
But, it does mean that as I'm learning smithing I'm invested in learning how to bypass hurting them. Perhaps the heavy hammer preference I've had so far has something to do with simply using my wrist less.

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Before you spend a lot of money on a hammer and want to use something nice. Try one of the Nordic or Diamond rounding hammers that farriers use. get a two pounder and you will save a lot of wear and tear on your body. Farriers suppliers are everywhere ,,They used to be about $20 a piece. Likely more now.

I was going to say about the same thing. I bought a nordic 1.5 pound rounding hammer and love it. I use it for all my light work. Im desperaty searching for a 2.5 pound rounding hammer to forge with..I also keep a straight and a diagonal peen hammer. Im going to try a french and a swedish hammer when i get around too it. Boy I really want a 2.5-3 pound rounding hammer without having to give up my first born for it though:p
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It's actually from before smithing. It's from lifting sixty pound boxes over my head in a tight space... there is simply no OSHA approved way to do it, and a few times in particular I over extended them when the box went its own way, so to speak. I ended up with athletic tape around each one of them (different occasions) for a few months, and since then they're just a little fussy.
But, it does mean that as I'm learning smithing I'm invested in learning how to bypass hurting them. Perhaps the heavy hammer preference I've had so far has something to do with simply using my wrist less.


I did a bit of research, as you are, several years ago on what hammer to get and why. I settled on Tom Clark's 'Ozark School of Blacksmithing' primaraly to learn how to use the Hofi style hammer. I had read pages about it on various places on the net. The technique of forging (holding the hammer and striking) is a little different and takes some getting use to. But it is the ergonimics that convenced me to take the class. After years in the martial arts scene and abusing my body early on I didn't want to repeat that....I hate pain! ;) The Hofi style of forging was the answer for me. I know this sounds like a commercial for Tom's school but I didn't intend for it to be. You can learn this technique form Mr. Hofi and I think there is a DVD with Mr. Hofi teaching his style. (I think there may even be a BP here by Mr. Hofi) BTW, I get no compensation from either one of these gentlemen.... :)
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So far, I have found my most used hammers are a 2 pound Nordic Forge rounding hammer, and a 1 3/4 pound german style cross pein. I use these two hammers probably 90% of the time.

Like it has been said earlier, it's all a matter of personal preference.

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I agree that hammer style preference is a matter personal likes and dislikes either mental or physical. I am sure that there are many smiths out there who would not use anything but a French pattern hammer . In my opinion , however , the reason that French pattern hammers do not seem popular is because of the perceived unbalanced Pein portion of the hammer . The Swedish style hammer , for example , appears even and balanced with the Pein portion of the hammer being in the center line of the hammer face , this is why I think it is more popular .
Forgeman

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I don;t kno about you guys but when I'm workin on something .. I get thru 3-4 hammers. ..heavy at first ( 6 pounds) with a low hitting speed. .and then for the finer stuff I use 1-2 1-2 pounders ..with jackhammer speed . . They all have long handles but I think I'll hack em off really soon . .as they hurt my palm ..So I'm don;t know what my hammer type is but I can predict I'll use 4-6 lbs short handled sledges with a well crowned face. and 1-2 pounder with normal handles for finishings and finer work ( like scrolls and knots or ironing a kink out of a blade. . ) I don;t think I can have a hammer that I can use constantly and not change. .And the hammers I like are determined by my body and how I feel using them.

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I really do mean to learn this Hofi technique, although I can't quite afford a class right now. Mr. Hofi... if you'll come to my house I can promise you all the cookies you could eat!
As for french hammers... I thought that the peen WAS actually in the center of the hammer, but that the mass was not balanced top to bottom. I think I heard something about this changing the way the hammer rebounds and how shock is transmitted to the handle... and a little something about it making the stock easier to see while using the peen, although that makes less sense to me.
As I think about it, though... it would probably just be good mojo to save the money and buy something that a person made. It would be in keeping with the ethic. Big Blue is maybe 100 miles from me.

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The FRENCH HAMMER was specifically fabricated for riveting while constricting and building the AIFEL TOWER IN PARIS. It was not made for forging in first place , in the fabricating the tower of various sizes of angle iron and riveting them (the whole tower is riveted) they could not get to the rivet with REGULAR (GERMAN) cross pien and because of it the pien is off center and a bit longer.

I personaly do not like the phrase '' it is good for me'' or ''the hammer is personal preference'' many times those phrases are covering lake of information and using the hammer not in the rite way.

If one takes a ''hofi'' hammer (they are produced to day by many people in the USA) and hold it NOT in the rite way he will hit his knuckles and damage the hand. If one wants to use the HOFI style hammer one MUST learn how to GUIDE it. I am not HOLDING the hammer I am GUIDING the hammer and there is a big different between the two.

I am 73 now forging professionally some times 10 hours a day moving lots of steel
never used a rounding hammer or a diagonal hammer I personally do not know why one needs them for 95% of my forging is done to day with the ''HOFI '' cast hammer
which I find the MOST BALANCED one. IF one do not know how to use the pin of the hammer (which is for me 30% of the forging) he must learn before saying I DO NOT USE THE PIEN go and learn how to use it.

ALL this is said to offend no one but only to make people learn and think. If one of my student will come up to saying '' I have found a better system of forging'' I will instantly say '' show me I want to learn'' !!!!!!!! By the way I am working now on developing a new and more balanced hammer for forging but this will take more years to finish.
ALL the rest is in my 1000 BP.

Tomas Dean you do not have to apologize all the time. The Hofi system of forging is thought now in many places in the USA on top of the place in NY that I teach just to name some of them , the community college Austin Texas by Bill Bastas, Portland by Ken Marmelstien, North Carolina by Doug Merkel , the Ozark and more.

Back to the FRANCH hammer .This hammer is still being developed into more sophisticated shapes. Just a month ago when teaching in Germany, I came across a new shape of the hammer with many more small things that are different then the original one, they are also developing the hammer and going into the future (the handle is made out of kevlar).

And last word .The SWEEDISH hammer is the less balanced hammer that is existing! it was not constructed for forging. The Swedish HOSHA made a research '' which of the HAND TOOLS is causing the most damage to the human body (because the Swedish government is paying attention according to the damage) AND THEY FOUND THAT THE HAMMER IS MAKING THE BIGGEST DAMMEGE!!
I do have the research with me.
Sorry for the length of the article
HOFI

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No reason to apologize for the length of the article, Mr. Hofi... quite plainly I find it incredible that these online communities allow this kind of information exchange across the world. Luddite though I may be, I'd be lost without this here internet thing.
It must be a little frustrating some times to have so many people, most of whom have little real exposure to your teaching, commenting on it nevertheless. I like to imagine you having a beeper that goes off loudly every time someone on this forum says "yeah, my brother done invented those funny little hammers twenty years ago!"
Guiding as opposed to holding the hammer... I'd love to hear more about that... this holding and gripping and slinging thing is what I always imagine long handled and light weight hammers to be all about. They can't do it with mass, so you have to sling them like a whip very hard. Who knows. thanks.
As for use of the pein... well, old habits die hard I guess. I never had one and as such don't know what I'm missing!

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Drew,
my hammer is 3#
I use smaller and bigger for spcific use. all of them hofi style .
Iam a TEATCHER Drew and being a TEACHER I am never frustrated!!!!!!!!
I just want to make things as clear as possible and to teach and to explain why ?
DREW you can never learn forging on the internet you can get ''INFORMATION'' but not learn. To learn you must find your TEACHER. TRY IT!!!!!!!!
HOFI

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Yes, I suppose I hope that I connect with some other folks working in the area while I'm on this website. Truthfully, because of my own moving, I've been without a place to work for almost a year, so information gathering is about all of the "forging" i get to do these days.
Thanks!

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well i looked at Uri Hofi blueprints and there are a few things i agree with wholeheartedly his decription of hitting steel with the handle loose in the hand and allowing the rebound bring the hammer back up is dead on! I looked at how he holds the hammer tho and i dont think i could do that ... I think if i had learned that style from the begining it would be good tho..also the pien is a intrigal part of hammering as a blacksmith! you should learn to use it as it allows you to do a lot of things and works steel faster ! ie still a little fuzzy on the balanced thing but to each their own... good luck!

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I looked at how he holds the hammer tho and i dont think i could do that ...


Quit thinking about it and dedicate a weekend to using the technique. It may or may not work. But you will only know if you give it a chance.
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