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I Forge Iron

anealing a hammer

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Take the head off the handle, heat the head to above critical temperature, allow to cool veeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrryyyyy slowly in vermiculite, wood ashes, or powdered lime. Re-handle. Mark the handle SOFT.

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22 hours ago, dogblazer9598 said:

how do I find the critical temp

For more critical applications, like blademaking with thin crossections where you need to limit grain growth and are planning on hardening it is more difficult as you need to be very accurate.  For making a soft hammer head, I would just temper it very soft using a sub-critical anneal (in the 1275 deg. F range).  If you work in very dim lighting and bring it up to a point where it is just showing a little bit of red, then hold it there until the heat soaks all the way through the hammer head, I think you should be fine.  As John mentioned, then let it cool very slowly in an insulated container. 

The difficulty will be holding it at the low temperature until it is thoroughly heated.  Fortunately since grain growth isn't really an issue you can exceed the dull red temperature on the surface if necessary.

Your other alternatives are to use a brass or copper striking hammer (Harbor Freight has a cheap brass one for around $25, and you can sometimes find them at flea markets) or weld a sacrificial piece of mild steel to the top of your fuller or guillotine tool.  Personally I prefer not to have soft steel hammer heads in my shop, but each to his own. 

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Here's another direction you may want to consider. Rather than softening a hammer, depending on the design of your guillotine, you could weld a small slug to the top edge for a consumable contact point. This would focus the impact. Or you could just take the top die out when it begins to mushroom, throw it in the forge and re-shape the top surface back to flat.

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Arkie, yes, only mine is a guillotine fuller. Each top die has a sacrificial piece of round stock welded on. It makes a great target for the hammer (grin)


To answer a previous question, try Heat Treating, general discussion

A2 is the transition point where when heated metal becomes non-magnetic. You can find this by hanging a magnet from a thin wire and bringing the heated metal CLOSE to the magnet. If the magnet is attracted to the metal, you are not at A2 yet. If the magnet is not attracted to the metal, you are at A2 or above.


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