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Hammer Weight


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Hi,

I am a 14 year old blacksmith. I forge all sorts of things from 1/4" to 1". I usually use a 3.5 pound rounding hammer, but a lot of people say that this hammer is too heavy for someone my age. I have been Blacksmithing for about a year, every weekend, and my arm is never really sore. Sometimes when I am swinging a lot in a heat, my arm gets a little tired but nothing too serious. Am I doing long term damage by using such a heavy hammer, do you think I should use a lighter one? Thanks

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3.5 hammers aren't too bad, but you'll find you can work faster with a lighter hammer, the heavier hammers are mostly used for moving material, so either beginning work on some stock or working on a billet, lighter hammers can move a lot of material if used right and depending on the kind of hammer. I typically use a 2lbs hammer for most of my work, though I use whats called a dog face or Japanese hammer, you get a lot more power out of your strikes with that style of hammer. You shouldn't sustain much extra damage if you use a heavier hammer but it can cause damage if you don't hold the hammer right, you mostly only want to grip the handle with your fore finger (pointer finger) and your thumb, the rest of your fingers are just supporting the handle when you hit the metal, you want the hammer to be able to wiggle slightly in your hand.

"Behold, I have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and produces a weapon for its purpose. I have also created the ravager to destroy;"-Isaiah 54:16

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A 3.5lb hammer is perfectly fine. As a blacksmith it's good idea to lift weights, though. It will keep you in good shape, and will help prevent injuries from overuse and muscular imbalances, and I'm willing to bet the you're already very muscularly imbalanced toward your dominate side. It is very common for blacksmiths to get shoulder and elbow injuries.

If you need help finding a strength training program, I can help you out!

“If you trust in yourself. . . believe in your dreams. . . and follow your star. . . you will still get beaten by the people who have spent their time working hard and learning things, the people who weren't so lazy.” ~ Terry Pratchett

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I recommend using the size hammer you can get work done with without having your outer forearm muscles sore for more than a day. This should quickly develop into muscle that can handle the hammer without tearing or straining anything. Sore forearms are nothing to worry about, that's just muscle strain. When you get something like tendonitis THEN you have a problem that will take some time to heal. The problem is usually the shock on the many tendons in the forearm. The tendons don't stretch and recover as quickly as the muscle does. They are also slower to grow with use. If you get pain in the tendons around the elbow, stop hammering and try using a smaller hammer with less force.

 

I have had a lot of strain injuries in my striking arm from using 4 and 6 lb hammers . Now when I've been hand forging all day I put my right arm in ice water for as long as I can stand. It's supposed to help the tendons recover.

An efficient hammer and anvil will bounce better and use less energy to move the same amount of material. If you have to lift the hammer and use a lot of force to move material, you're going to either get really strong, or get injured.

Also, keep your elbow tucked into your side and keep that shoulder immobile. You shouldn't have to raise the hammer up above your head, although when forging large stock it's tempting to do so.

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