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The Art of Silversmithing Hammers: Types Maintenance and Preparation

Silversmithing is an ancient craft that has weathered the test of time. It involves creating objects from silver, from simple pieces of jewelry to intricate sculptures.

To achieve this, silversmiths use a wide range of tools, including hammers, mallets, and chisels. In this article, we will focus on the basics of silversmithing hammers.

Types of Hammers

Hammers are an essential tool in silversmithing. They come in various shapes and sizes, each serving a unique purpose.

The following are the primary types of hammers used in silversmithing. 1.

Ball Peen Hammer

The ball peen hammer is a versatile tool that has a cylindrical head with a domed end and a flat end. It is used to shape and bend metal, flatten surfaces, and create textures.

The ball peen hammer’s domed end is perfect for creating rounded shapes, while the flat end is ideal for flat surfaces. 2.

Cross Peen Hammer

The cross peen hammer has a rectangular head with a flat and a pointed end. The pointed end is perpendicular to the handle, and it is used to create line textures, raise small dents, and form tight curves.

The flat end is used to flatten surfaces. 3.

Stamping Hammer

The stamping hammer has a flat head and is used to stamp shapes and patterns into metal. It is more effective than using a punch and hammer because the flat head ensures that the stamp mark is uniform.

4. Rawhide Mallet

The rawhide mallet is made from a solid cylinder of rawhide.

It is used to form and shape the metal without leaving marks or scratches. Rawhide mallets come in various sizes, with size one being the smallest and size three the largest.

5. Plastic/Brass Mallet

The plastic/brass mallet is a lightweight hammer with a brass or plastic head.

It is used to form and shape the metal without leaving marks or scratches. It is an excellent hammer for delicate work.

6. Texturing Hammer

The texturing hammer has a head with various textured patterns.

It is used to create textured finishes on the metal. 7.

Planishing Hammer

The planishing hammer has a flat head with rounded edges. It is used to smooth and refine the surface of the metal.

The rounded edges prevent the hammer from leaving marks or scratches on the metal. 8.

Chasing Hammer

The chasing hammer has a flat head with a long, thin neck. It is used for precise and delicate work such as forming, shaping, and outlining.

9. Raising Hammer

The raising hammer has a round head with a smooth surface.

It is used to shape the metal from a flat sheet into a dome shape.

Weight

The weight of the hammer is an essential factor to consider when buying a silversmithing hammer. Hammers come in different weights, ranging from one pound to three pounds.

The weight of the hammer you choose depends on the nature of the work you are doing. For example, heavy hammers are ideal for shaping and forming the metal, while light hammers are perfect for delicate work.

The weight of the hammer also affects the force of the blow. A heavier hammer delivers a more forceful blow than a lighter hammer.

Material

The material of the hammer is also a critical factor to consider. Hammers are made from different materials, such as steel and tool steel.

Steel hammers are durable and can withstand heavy use. Tool steel hammers are even more durable than steel hammers and are ideal for heavy-duty work.

1056 is a type of tool steel that is commonly used in silversmithing hammers. Fretz is another popular brand of silversmithing hammers known for its high-quality tool steel hammers.

Handles

The handle of the hammer is also an essential factor to consider.

Handles can be made from hardwood, softwood, fiberglass, or plastic/polymer.

Hardwood handles are durable, comfortable to grip, and have a classic look. Softwood handles are less expensive than hardwood handles, but they are less durable.

Fiberglass handles are lightweight and durable, while plastic/polymer handles are inexpensive and lightweight but may not be the most durable. Top 3 Hammers/Mallets for Silversmiths

The following are the top three hammers/mallets for silversmiths:

1.

ESTWING 12-Ounce Ball Peen Hammer

The ESTWING 12-ounce ball peen hammer is a versatile and durable option for silversmiths. It has a forged steel head with a hardwood handle that provides a comfortable grip.

The 12-ounce size is perfect for shaping and forming metal. 2.

Cross Peen Hammer by Konner

The cross peen hammer by Konner is a sturdy and reliable option. It has a forged steel head with a hickory handle that provides a comfortable grip.

The pointed end is perfect for creating detailed textures and forming tight curves. 3.

Garland 11001 Rawhide Mallet

The Garland 11001 rawhide mallet is an excellent option for silversmiths who need a mallet for shaping and forming metal. It comes in different sizes, with size one being the smallest and size three the largest.

Before using the mallet, it is essential to condition it with neatsfoot oil to prevent the rawhide from cracking.

Conclusion

In conclusion, choosing the right hammer is an essential factor in silversmithing. It is necessary to consider the type of hammer, weight, material, and handle when selecting a hammer.

The ESTWING 12-ounce ball peen hammer, cross peen hammer by Konner, and Garland 11001 rawhide mallet are excellent options for silversmiths to consider. With the right hammer, a silversmith can create beautiful and intricate designs with ease.

Maintaining and Preparing Your Hammers

Hammers are integral tools in the art of silversmithing. Over time, your hammer may lose its shape, become worn, or show signs of wear and tear.

As a silversmith, it’s essential to maintain and prepare your hammers for optimal performance. In this article, we will discuss different ways to maintain and prepare your hammers for silversmithing.

Hammer Maintenance

One way to keep your hammers in good condition is through routine hammer maintenance. This includes periodic polishing of the hammerhead and removal of any dings or markings.

To polish the hammerhead, lightly rub it with a polishing felt or 400 grit sandpaper. Follow up by polishing with an 800 grit sandpaper for a smooth finish.

If your hammer has any dings, use a metal file to remove them. If there are any markings on the hammerhead, you can remove them by soaking the hammerhead in vinegar.

This helps to dissolve the markings over time.

Rawhide Mallet Prep

Rawhide mallets are popular among silversmiths because they are excellent for shaping metal without leaving marks. Rawhide is a natural material that can be damaged by water and concrete.

When using a rawhide mallet, it is crucial to prepare it beforehand by removing any lacquer coating. Fill a bucket with hot water and let the mallet soak for about 30 minutes.

Then, take the mallet out and let it stand for a while, while the water evaporates from it. Once dry, put the mallet on a concrete block and hit the mallet with a hammer.

This helps to reshape any fraying fibers of the rawhide mallet.

Rubber and Acrylic Mallets

Rubber and acrylic mallets are other options that are becoming more popular than rawhide mallets. Rubber mallets are preferred due to their ability to apply even force without the risk of damage to the material or the surface, while acrylic mallets are known to provide a lower level of bounce-back.

However, these types of mallets can wear down over time and need to be replaced. To prolong the lifespan of your rubber and acrylic mallets, regularly sand them down using 400 grit sandpaper.

This helps to maintain a smooth surface and prevent damage to your metal.

Storage

When not using your hammers or mallets, it’s essential to store them properly to prevent damage and maintain their structure. One of the best ways to do this is to hang them up by their handles.

This helps to protect the hammerhead from getting damaged or dinged up. If you don’t have space to hang your hammers or mallets, consider using a drawer or a tool chest.

Remember to keep them in an organized manner to make it easier to find them when needed.

Conclusion

In conclusion, maintaining and preparing your hammers and mallets is crucial for the longevity of your tools and the quality of your work. Hammer maintenance involves the routine polishing of the hammerhead and the removal of any dings and markings.

Rawhide mallets need to be soaked in water to remove their lacquer coating and reshaped by hitting them against concrete. Rubber and acrylic mallets need to be regularly sanded down to keep their surface smooth.

Proper storage of hammers and mallets is also crucial to prevent damage and maintain their structure. By following these tips, you’ll be able to keep your hammers and mallets in tip-top shape for years to come.

In conclusion, silversmithing hammers are essential tools in creating stunning metalwork. It’s important for silversmiths to understand the different types of hammers available, their weight, material, and handle.

Proper maintenance and preparation of hammers and mallets, from periodic polishing and removal of dings and markings, to proper storage, can help ensure that they last for years to come. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced silversmith, using the right hammer for the job can make all the difference in creating beautiful and intricate designs.

FAQs:

1. What are the different types of hammers used in silversmithing?

Answer: The different types of hammers include ball peen, cross peen, stamping, rawhide mallet, plastic/brass mallet, texturing, planishing, chasing, and raising hammers.

2.

What weight should a hammer be for silversmithing? Answer: The weight of the hammer depends on the nature of the work you are doing, but hammers can range from 1 to 3 pounds.

3. How do you maintain a hammer?

Answer: To maintain your hammer, periodically polish the hammerhead with a polishing felt or sandpaper, remove any dings with a metal file, and remove markings by soaking the hammerhead in vinegar.

4.

How do you prepare a rawhide mallet? Answer: To prepare a rawhide mallet, remove its lacquer coating by soaking it in hot water for 30 minutes, and reshape it by hitting it against a concrete block.

5. How do you prolong the lifespan of rubber and acrylic mallets?

Answer: To prolong the lifespan of rubber and acrylic mallets, sand them down regularly using 400 grit sandpaper.

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