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chuckles, Dancing Frog has a web site, and I found my old 5lb dogshead hammer but it would cost you an arm and a leg for it.

 

And for the record I have a 10lber on a regular hammer type handle that is my safe queen and its awkward even picking it up.

Edited by WmHorus
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Most striking hammers have shorter handles than a normal sledge. When you hold it, you hold it in front of you, raise straight up and come down in front of you. The shorter handle allows the end to be at your stomach without punching you in the stomach , or racking your nads. Alec I have seen use anywhere between 12 and 16#, though he is a talented striker. Also I just take a normal sledge and cut the handle down. No biggie.

 

Typical japanese sledges for this are between 12 and 25 pounds or so. They can get pretty big, and I have plans to make some in the future. The future being after I set a bigger power hammer. So maybe in a year or two, lol.

Edited by Daniel Cauble
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  • 3 months later...

I forged my own dogs head hammer a few months ago. It's a viking pattern square head not the round Japanese style blade makers head. At only a pound and a half it moves metal like a beast. I took a que from Glen on the handle design. I will say heavier isn't always better, technique and the right tool is key.

Edited by William Gray
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I use a normal sledge that you get from the hardware stores for striking but I feel that the handle is too long??

 

I've seen videos of Alec Steele using a "sledgehammer" and the handle looks considerably shorter.

 

So I thought I might as well try something different lol

 

Alec Steel is not a real big dude (no offense Alec). He's maybe not THAT little, but if you look at the way he swings the hammer, you're looking at some real early 20th century forging technique. He really accelerates that hammer at the end of the stroke in a really efficient way. That comes down to proper technique, not so much the weight of the hammer. At a certain point a hammer will be too heavy, and make the striker less efficient.

I've tried making and using HUGE sledges with shorter handles. I just end up with a lot of pain in my tendons for the next week or so.

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I forged my own dogs head hammer a few months ago. It's a viking pattern square head not the round Japanese style blade makers head. At only a pound and a half it moves metal like a beast. I took a que from Glen on the handle design. I will say heavier isn't always better, technique and the right tool is key.

I did the same thing, actually, and it has become my favorite hammer (even though it's a tad cockeyed). Something about the balance and weight just works for me, and at 2.75 pounds I find it moves steel like my crappy 4 pounders, and I am able to be much tidier with it than with the five-pound monster that Brent Bailey made me (though I love that hammer and it will likely be a family heirloom).

 

Your comment about technique reminded me of an important discovery I made, though, that I thought might be relevant to the discussion: where on the anvil you are forging makes a huge difference in the efficiency of your strikes. For example, the only flat spot on my anvil is on the heel, so I do a lot of forging there, but I recently discovered that the hammer bounces almost twice as many times when dropped on the center of the anvil as it does when dropped on the heel. I tried carefully doing most of my rough forging closer to the center or front of the anvil, and it went almost twice as fast. It only took me three years to figure that out. :wacko:

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Adam, My grandfather and my highland clan blacksmith (both deceased) taught me how to smith. Both always said effort and power is no substitute for technique and the right tool. Now that I'm getting older and arthritis is taking effect, I have found their words to be very true.

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There are several hammer makers out there now that make big hammers. It seems Brian really kicked off the hammer making craze about 5-6 years ago when he started making and teaching how to make his style of rounding hammers.Which really started with habermann I think.. He is one of the best around at moving material with limited effort but often forges with 4# hammers a lot. I know a 4# seems like its big but if you use it the right way its not bad to swing at all. Its all about holding the hammer right, not having a death grip and not trying to drive it through the anvil.Tucking your hammer arm in instead of wildly flailing it about...Letting the hammer and rebound do the work. My wife is 5'5" and can swing a 3# hammer all day with no ill effects at all. Shes been smithing for about 6-7 years now..

Im not one of these guys who blindly follow anothers techniques and methods but I do like taking bits and pieces to suit my own.. Taking some from Hofi's technique(especially the way he holds his hammer) and some of Brazeal's methods has really changed things.

Ive seen guys for years that swing a hammer like their trying to kill a hog. Its no wonder they have problems with their hammer arms.

Edited by KYBOY
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I have a lot of old dogs head hammers a dozen or so, mostly saw doctors hammers and one that's a file makers hammer. They come in a huge weigh range 1/2 lb to 8 lb all with short handles.

I have seen black and white pictures of people striking with the bigger single handed ones using them as a sledge with both hands.

The larger hammers have tapers towards the striking face making the face smaller than the hammer body.

 

The smaller hammers (2 to 3.5lb)are wonderful bladesmithing hammers and have long heads, I prefer the longer ones and have found no problem with them "torquing" . I find the dogs head hammers nicer to use for bladesmithing but I am not a single hammer guy and have weights and shapes for most things.

I make a lot of dogs head hammers mostly 2 or 2.5lb.

I am very concerned by the big hammer trend at the moment and think there will be a lot of injured smiths in years to come from it. I hope I am wrong.

You can get more done in the moment with a heavier hammer or by swinging faster , but smithing is the long game not the sprint. I know quite a few people who have injured themselves using hammers to heavy for themselves.

 

Try and think about what you can make in a day or week rather than how much can be accomplished in a heat, kind of a tortoise and hare kind of gig.

 

Everyone is different so there are people out there who can easily swing a 5 lb hammer, I am not one of them......

 

Smithing is hard on your body, there is no getting around that . Take care of your self and think about the long game.

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