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    • Alan Longmire

      IMPORTANT Registration rules   02/12/2017

      Use your real name or you will NOT get in.  No aliases or nicknames, no numerals in your name. Do not use the words knives, blades, swords, forge, smith (unless that is your name of course) etc. We are all bladesmiths and knifemakers here.  If you feel you need an exception or are having difficulty registering, send a personal email to the forum registrar here.  

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I thought I would share this video for the other beginners here.  This wasn't something I really thought about, I mean how difficult can it be to throw a hammer right?   But He has some good techniques and thoughts on this very basic mechanic.  So I found it informative and hope others will as well.

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I have no formal training whatsoever, So I swing like the people he said not to swing like (lifting the hammer straight up and back down without much wrist action like a carpender). 

I tried his method on some pieces of wood on the anvil yesterday and I found it much easier on everything. Usually my nerve from my thumb to my elbow starts to sting with a 4lb. hammer, and with lifting heavy things. I assumed I pinched a nerve either when I broke my back, or when I had a bad car wreck a couple years back, but I didn't feel it when I used his technique. 

Thanks!

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Interesting, seems like beginners would be giving up a considerable amount of control using this technique.

Purely speculation, as I have not swung a hammer in that manner.

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The guy is exactly right.  I don't put as much wrist action into the top of the swing, but he's dead on about how to grip, lift, and swing.  I learned these methods almost 20 years ago because I have an old rotator cuff injury on my hammer arm shoulder.  It has never bothered me due to hammering, only overhead machete work.  And it turns out what I thought was tennis elbow is psoriatic arthritis which is now under control.  

Listen to this guy, in other words.

Edited to add:  except the bigger hammer thing, with certain exceptions.  ;)

Edited by Alan Longmire

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He keeps the horn on the right side........unusual.

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On ‎1‎/‎2‎/‎2018 at 2:28 PM, Joshua States said:

He keeps the horn on the right side........unusual.

As do  I.  Maybe this is because unlike a typical blacksmith, I rarely use the very end of the  horn.  Most of my work on the horn is from  the middle of  the horn back toward the cutting shelf. 

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I agree with most of  what this guy is saying.  Make the  tool do most of the  work  and not  your arm (and never your shoulder or back).  Like him I got my start using a hammer as a carpenter.  At that time  there were no air nailers and it was expected for me  to go through a 50 lb box of nails each day.  I eventually learned how not to  overwork my arm.  Probably the best tip this guy gave us is to keep your thumb off of  the hammer handle.  Swing the hammer and  don't push it.  Another tip that I  would  give to  beginners is to  stick with hickory handles for your hammers.  They will impart less stress to your arm & elbow than other materials do.  And don't be scared to customize the handle on your factory  made hammer(s).  Not every one is built the same and "one size does not fit all".:)

I  find that I use my shoulder much less  than this guy and have less of a  back swing.  I find that  there  is  no need for a large backswing which only makes accurate hammer  blows more difficult but I guess that much of that is personal preference.   Another tip for you beginners which will save your back & arm is to set your anvil at the right height.  Stand next to your anvil and let your arm hang loosely at your side with your hand in a fist.  The bottom of your fist  should be a  couple of inches above the anvil face.  Believe me, this will help the wear & tear on your back.

This guy was demonstrating the use of a 10 lb sledge but something that I would like to  add so novices don't get the wrong idea is that most anvils aren't large enough to get the benefit out of a hammer that heavy.  I believe in the old adage that the anvil should  weight 40 times as much as your heaviest hammer.  Many don't realize it but the anvil (when used correctly) will move just as much steel up as the hammer moves down. 

All-in-all this guy has the right idea.  I have several friends who instruct beginning bladesmithing courses and each of them spends time with the beginning students showing how to swing a hammer.  Good stuff!

Edited by Gary Mulkey
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On 1/2/2018 at 3:28 PM, Joshua States said:

He keeps the horn on the right side........unusual.

I've seen this with guys who frequently use hardy tools.  Allows them to keep the tool in the anvil with less risk of bashin their knuckles on it.

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Yep.  I was once told "Blacksmiths keep the horn to the left, artistes keep it to the right because they're special."  It's actually because most of the last generation of artist blacksmiths trained in Germany or Austria, where the double-horned anvil with the hardy hole to the left is the standard.  It does allow you to leave the tool in the hole a bit more safely, unless you're using the round horn as designed.  (This is for right-handed smiths only, of course.) 

For those who don't know, the round horn on the left allows a right-handed smith to roll a ring or hoop (think hub band or horseshoe) tangent to the horn without having to cross the hammer hand over the tong hand or even change position at the anvil.  It's awkward to do that if you're right-handed and the horn is pointing right.  If you don't use the horn much or at all, it doesn't matter a bit.

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Alan. I Enjoy blacksmithing as a hobby. I never thought about which side the horn is on. For what ever reason I usually have it on the right.  

I am not sure I follow your example of needing to cross the hammer hand over the tongs to forge a hoop with the horn on the right. The attached photo shows how I set up for this. 

9C41CC0C-F072-4FC1-B2FB-46BEA562EF54.jpeg

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Do you have to take a step to one side?  It's not a huge deal regardless, it's just tradition. B)

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I own a german anvil with an upsetting block, when the block is on the far side on the anvil the horn automatically points to the left. The upsetting block would get in the way when you turn the horn to the right.

For anvils without a block it doesnt really matter, but the horn to the left seems to be traditional here in europe.

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