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I Forge Iron

Hammer Technique Question

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Aside from proper stance and arm usage and all those other aspects of good technique, I am curious about the almost "musical style" I see where, for instance, in the video of a farrier demonstrating a particular technique for a certain kind of shoe. As he is hammering you can hear him hit the hot metal perhaps 2 times in a row, then the hammer bounced on the anvil perhaps 3 times, then repeating. Then later he may do some other pattern. As much as I find this quite "entertaining" and "pleasant" to the ear, I wonder if this is actually part of a good technique? It kind of reminds me of the stuff auctioneers do between significant words. Thoughts?

For example: 

One Minute Heel Caulk


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This has been gone over a number of times over the years.  Some smiths will tap the anvil between blows and some do not.  Justifications for the practice include it being a momentary pause to quickly consider the next full blow, a quick rest for the arm, and simple habit.  Most who do it will just say that is the way I've always done it and to change would mess up my rythym because I would be thinking about what I do rather than just doing it.  IMO it is just a quirk and some do and some don't and doing it or not doing it has little rational justification either way.

In the interests of full disclosure I am not a tapper and when I have tried doing it I have found it annoying.  IMO it wastes time and energy but the difference is pretty small.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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In that video the farrier was putting on a show for the audience. Farriers who are more interested in shoeing the horse than entertaining an audience would've finished the calk in half the time. It was almost pure BS.

The only time I "tap" the anvil is when I'm letting the hammer come to rest, to reach for something else, put the work back in the fire, etc. It's not a thing I "do" it just happens. I don't know if it even counts as "tapping" the anvil.

Folk who tap the anvil regularly are wasting time better spent actually forging. I know a number of guys who let their hammer bounce on the anvil when putting it down and a number who tap it between changes or steps in the project. I tend to think of this as locating the anvil to lay the hammer down without looking or paying attention to a minor action. 

When I was a kid one of the farriers who shoed our horses would play little tunes on the anvil for the kids watching and make up funny stories.

Still, you'll do yourself some good learning hammer control and none at all learning to tap the anvil in some contrived pattern."

Of course that's just my opinion I could be wrong.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I have heard just about as many reasons for doing it as i have met smiths i think. I can not say why others do it but i can say why i do it. To start i do not tap the anvil but bounce my hammer. What do i mean by that. As i am hammering my work i am applying force to the hammer. This causes my hammer to rebound making the upswing easier. I will let my hammer fall on the anvil with out force to "dissipate" the energy. It takes less to let it fall and bounce than it does to stop it mid swing.  

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I usually don't tap the anvil except to relax my grip a little and it isn't a hammer tap but like BillyBones just a bounce. The farrier in the video is definitely a show man at a demonstration and I doubt if he is still shoeing and no one is around he may drop the hammer too.

I can't control the wind, all I can do is adjust my sail’s.
Semper Paratus


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