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Building up your hammer arm.


JimC
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Can anyone recommend a way to build up strength in your hammer arm? Because I don't get to the shop often, I'm not able to use more than a 2lb. hammer for about an hour before my arm turns to spaghetti. This really limits my productivity, and hampers my desire to forge larger blades.

 

Any thoughts?

 

-Jim

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Jim,

just time and practice. On thing that I have learned (and God knows i have a lot to learn), control is WAY more important than weight. I have watched some good forging videos (eg Lively, Hrisoulas, a mnd a video called The Birth of a Sword). All of those guys seemed to put less force into most of their hammer blows that I was trying to. They just hit where they wanted to at the correct angle to impart max energy.

 

Don't get me wrong, JPH reported using a 4lb hammer for most stuff and I have read him say he uses up to 8lb for general forging. However, from what I can tell, control and not wasting energy is the important first step.

 

For what its worth, I got a heavier hammer and almost never use it, and instead have been working on using my 3.5lb one more properly.

 

hope this helps,

 

Kevin

please visit my website http://www.professorsforge.com/

 

“Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” E. V. Debs

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my heaviest hammer is 1kg (2.2lbs apparently)

and i rarely use it for long.

 

i too find more carefully placed hits to be more important than just wailing on the metal.

but then again, i do have the benefit of some handy machines to take up the slack for my lesser strength.

so shifting large stock to a more manageable size is generally taken care of.

 

i also think that the shape of hammer plays a part in it.

hefting a large sledge is going to be harder on your arm due to the side compensation required to steady the blow.

whereas something more like the japanese forging hammers might allow you to transfer all your force in a more direct manner.

 

what sort of hammer are you using?

 

also - another thing to think of is how long you are hammering during any given heat

are you hammering the metal while its too cold to move?

a well placed hammer blow while the metal is hot is worth a lot more than several wild shots needed to move cold steel.

 

^_^

deeDWF4.jpg

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I have had the privilege of watching some older Japanese smiths work. To a man, a smaller mass hammer with a small face and precision are the keys to good forging.

 

I started with four pounds twenty two years ago, moved back to three for a good long period, then forged the hammer I am presently using, from a 3# re-shaped carbon steel ball piene. It now weighs just a bit over 1000 grams, after years of dressing and re-shaping as required. It's been through four handles that are worn out, and made more than three hundred swords, and several hundred knife blades besides.

 

It is all about force vs. area it is applied to. Smaller face equals bigger movement no matter the mass of the hammer. Don't hurt yourself, and just work as often as practical. Repetition is what builds hammer arm strength. And don't get a hammer so big you need a death grip on it to handle it. That leads to tendonitis in short order, and not if, but when, is the question. You want the force on the handle to be applied with your first two fingers and thumb. Holding it only enough to guide it where you want it to go, with as little tension on the handle from your grip as you can get away with. Hard for me to explain in words, sorry if I am confusing. You don't so much use it to hit the work, but more just direct the force it generates. Let the hammer do the work, without "forcing" it.

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I use a 2.5 pound hammer for all of my forging. If I am forging down larger round or square stock then I use a 5-6 pound sledge with a striker. Never needed anything larger for general forging then my 2.5 pound cross peen.

 

My teachers taught me that when the steel is hot enough it is around the softness of clay. You use the hammer and anvil as extensions of your hands as it is to hot to touch. Well placed light to medium blows is all that is necessary. And in most cases heavy blows cause you more work as the harder you swing the hammer the harder it is to aim for the spot that you want to hit.

 

Look up some videos of some of the smiths from this site and you will see that most of them just seem to be tapping the metal, and in very little time they have the shape that they want.

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If you can get a good rough blade out of that hour, maybe once or twice a week. That leave a good stack of finishing work to keep up with. I'd bet that the old conditioning would improve if you needed more forgings than that.

 

Just thoughts, Craig

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for my lesser strength.

 

 

 

 

^_^

Please ignore this part of Dee's post she revealed a right gun in her furnace build, big enough to sink a battleship. I think the rest of her the post is dead on.

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Using a good quality alloy steel hammer will allow you to utilize the rebound better. Cast hammers from the hardware store just don't have a good bounce to them. Once I started using them I am only using about half the energy then I did when using cast.

 

And like any repetitive action the more you do it (not over do it) the more strength you will get. Since I use my arms all day at my job I have to be careful to not smoke them on the weekend. So I take a lot of breaks and set aside a lot of time to finish a forging project.

Everything I need to know I learned from the people trapped in my basement.

 

 

I'm out of my mind but feel free to leave a message.

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Hi

 

 

I find that "if" you have done lots of forging...and there is lots of lactic acid in muscles..

The Spin Ball / Power ball is good..And If you have even before try this...I haveto say ;) its power in small package

It will be surprise :)

I think it may work as a work out too.

 

 

BR

 

Niko

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THAT is interesting. His grip and form are quite similar to how you throw a bullwhip...Hmmmmm. Interesting!

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I use a 3.5 lb japanese forging hammer. And here is someting that a few missed. I raised my anvil to about the hieght of my belt buckle which keeps me from bending over so much.

 

As Howard stressed a small well dressed hammer face will move more steel with less force. And as Howard stated he has watched Japanese bladesmiths and if he could reply back to his thread he will also say that thier anvils are almost level to thier waist or belt area.

 

This has helped me tremendously 1st no more stessed back and my shoulder stoped hurting, 2nd the rebound helps me alot. I have a few videos on youtube under smithforge as the username.

 

Just keep going work smarter not harder

John W Smith
www.smith-forge.org

Fire and wind come from the sky, from the gods of the sky. But Crom is your god, Crom and he lives in the earth. Once, giants lived in the Earth, Conan. And in the darkness of chaos, they fooled Crom, and they took from him the enigma of steel. Crom was angered. And the Earth shook. Fire and wind struck down these giants, and they threw their bodies into the waters, but in their rage, the gods forgot the secret of steel and left it on the battlefield. We who found it are just men. Not gods. Not giants. Just men. The secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery. You must learn its riddle, Conan. You must learn its discipline. For no one - no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts.

[Points to sword]

This you can trust

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A Japanese hammer is on my list of things to either acquire or make. It might be a ways off, as I just burned up more money ordering interesting rocks from Japan again. He used a magic word "uchigumori" and money levitated out of my PayPal account. Horrible little man.

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A Japanese hammer is on my list of things to either acquire or make. It might be a ways off, as I just burned up more money ordering interesting rocks from Japan again. He used a magic word "uchigumori" and money levitated out of my PayPal account. Horrible little man.

 

 

:lol: ROFL

Let not the swords of good and free men be reforged into plowshares, but may they rest in a place of honor; ready, well oiled and God willing unused. For if the price of peace becomes licking the boots of tyrants, then "To Arms!" I say, and may the fortunes of war smile upon patriots

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Jim, I have enough 2" 4140 round to make at least two Japanese hammers. I'll share if you're willing to take turns striking. We can make two hammers and each keep one. (I tried working that stuff on my own with a 4 lb. hammer. It just it ain't worth it.)

Edited by Matt Bower
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Easy answer: yes.

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my biggest problem is my grip getting weaker as i go, so i picked up one of those spring grip-strengthener things. i probably should have forged it, come to think.. but oh well. haha it helped a lot, i went at least twice as long after using it for a week.

i only need 3 things to be happy: my girlfriend, my forge, and fruit juice.

 

Casey W Daniel

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be careful with the spring grip thing, they cause tendon damage. It is a sad irony, because a lot of well meaning people hurt themselves with those.

 

by the way, I had to have hand surgery before I could get into forging seriously because when I was younger I spent a few years building plank fences for horse corrals and various animal pens in TX.

 

I swung the hammer as hard as I could every nail I drove, TX adolescent male stuff.

 

I am 38, and i have had my first tendon repair because of it.

 

there are other good reasons to swing smaller and more controlled, in addition to the metal movement.

 

Kevin

please visit my website http://www.professorsforge.com/

 

“Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” E. V. Debs

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To add to Kevin's comment, yes those spring grip things are evil incarnate. You absolutely should not be gripping the hammer hard enough to make your hand tired. The "death grip" technique is a sure way to ruin not only your hand but also your elbow and shoulder.

 

The only way to do it worse is to do the death grip with your thumb on top of the handle.

 

The proper way to grip your hammer handle is to hold it lightly between thumb and forefinger only. The other three fingers are only there to provide support and control. Keep your elbow close to your body, and keep your shoulders loose. Tension anywhere in the system will show up as damage a few years down the road. The proper motion is kind of like bouncing a rubber ball.

 

Let the hammer do the work, that's what it's for. All you're doing is lifting it and guiding it in. A good anvil will also throw the hammer back up for you. That's why railroad track and cast iron are not good anvils, they have no rebound.

 

The above applies no matter what style of hammer you prefer, the short-handled heavy "Hofi" style or the lighter, long-handled Anglo styles.

 

This is important stuff. I know one very good swordsmith who had to stop forging swords because he blew out his elbow.

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Stress induced micro tears in tendons will take your arm and hand out of commission not just for forging but any other use.

Everything I need to know I learned from the people trapped in my basement.

 

 

I'm out of my mind but feel free to leave a message.

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Alan, that is right on bros !!! nicely put

 

 

-from my perspective... put all macho stuff aside.. and watch the stock move with the hammer blows to gauge the weight of hammer and the face..

- obviously if your making a knife from 1/4 in flat bar... then you don't need a 10lbs hammer with a big crown..

- but if your forging a 4lbs ingot, then you better scale up in size..

 

on very heavy stock a light hammer is utterly useless.. and tends to move more steel on the outside.. ( even fishlipping stuff )

- the heavy hand sledge will more likely get more of the mass to move

 

if you can't lift the heavy's for long at first... .. thats ok.. .. do 5 shots with the 10lbs... the 5 shots with the 4lbs.. and down to the small hammer for end of the heat.. ... .. next heat, if your outa gas, use the next smaller hammer... and so on....

- after a couple months... you'll have the stuff to work through the stock without problems...

 

- if you arms is buzzed up ... or your hand is totally shocked the next day... my experience is that your hammer grip is waay to tight when the blow is delivered.. slack it up..

- listen to your body... it will tell you exactly what your doing wrong

 

- the muscle power is only to lift the hammer... ... then guide the bomb onto the target with a relaxed grip..

 

- if your hammer shots are getting wild.... then call it a day.... being too tired, sore, having poor attention to the task at hand, just means that its time to knock off for today...

 

lastly.....there is no race.... work at the pace you can maintain..

 

crown of the hammer.... if you want to move work fast... have a rounder crown... and a narrow face

 

I've got an 8lbs with a narrow face and lots of crown... it'll move work fast ... but also drive some deep dents

 

the closer to finish product... the flatter the hammer face ( at least thats what i like... ).. my finish hammer is a 4.5lbs french hammer with next to no crown..

 

think i've got more hammers than tongs... ... haha

 

;)

 

Greg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Please ignore this part of Dee's post she revealed a right gun in her furnace build, big enough to sink a battleship. I think the rest of her the post is dead on.

 

 

I have to see this gun you speak of. Where did you see it? Please share.

 I have heard that those who celebrate life walk safely amongst the wild animals.

When they go into battle, they remain unharmed, the animals find no place to attack them

and weapons are unable to harm them.

Why? Because they find no place for death in them.

 

Shamanic Proverb

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