By Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I
There are a lot of forging hammers in the market and just as many ideas as to how hard they should be. I have always held that the hammer hardness should not be more than the struck tool. The first reason is related to safety. A hammer that has an extremely hard heat treat level is more likely to chip or cause a problem with the struck tool or anvil if there is any kind of miss or errant blow. Secondly, because of the mass of the hammer in relation to the struck tool, damage to the tool is more likely. You will spend more money and time maintaining your struck tools if the hammer is extremely hard. In the end, this will cost you more than the occasional maintenance of your hammer if it is approximately the same hardness as the struck tools.
A hammer requires regular maintenance. If you don’t dress the face and edges regularly, you can end up with “dings” to the face that will mark the material you are working. Any deformation of the edges of the hammer can develop into a mushrooming area that is at risk of chipping or fracturing- creating a safety issue and also making it more difficult to maintain.
Pay close attention to your hammer faces and edges as well as the struck end of your top tools. If you see any indication of marking, mushrooming or other blemishes developing you can dress these using a grinder with a fine grit belt- something in the neighborhood of 100-120 grit will work well. When dressing the hammer or tools be careful not to create enough heat to bring color to the tool. This can destroy the heat treat of the tool and is very difficult to repair.
This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 14, Issue 4. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.