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ChrisBriggs

(New) (Free) Hammer Time!!!

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A colleague of mine was in at my office yesterday carrying an old plastic shopping bag that caught my eye. Curious but I didn't initially question what it was. Part way through our conversation- not a professional type meeting either- we mainly focused on deer hunting, motorcycles, and beer- although it was INTENDED as a meeting to talk about actual professional stuff (he's a pharmacist and I'm a physician assistant). He said "hey I got something for you" and produced this hammer from his tattered plastic bag. He went on to tell me that when he bought the farm house he lives at now there was a small "shed" with some old tools and such in it. He cleaned it out and kept a few things, traded a few things like "a real old looking anvil, some other hammers, big pliers and some other stuff I wasn't sure of". He described a shop full of tools of our trade. That was almost 20 years ago. However, he did keep this "funny looking" hammer figuring it would be a cool decoration piece or maybe it had some purpose he wasn't yet aware of. It had been in his garage in the same plastic bag now for almost 20 years. He said "then I watched that Forged in Fire show and I immediately knew what it was and who needed to have it".

I weighed it last night, and it came in just shy of 3 pounds. No maker marks I can identify yet. I got some steel good and toasty last night and gave it a couple swings. I do use a couple different 3# hammers I have in my repertoire however I don't just swing 3# 'ers all day every day and this hammer is a beast to control! But I love it. I needs a proper handle as the one on it is clearly a replacement that someone tried to MAKE fit it.

But how cool is that?! Any thoughts on this behemoth? It was from a farm in West Michigan. The farm is known to be at least 100 years old. Although who knows when or where this hammer came from. Just curious what anyone might think about it.

Thanks all and keep on bangin'!!!

Hammer 1.jpg

Hammer 2.jpg

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hammer 5.jpg

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It's a saw-doctor's hammer, originally used to dish and tune circular sawblades in lumber mills.  Handily enough, it is the same idea as the Sheffield doghead and the Japanese weight-forward hammers, both of which are great for forging bevels.  One thing that will help you immensely and prevent injury: The head is on upside-down.  The handle goes on the other side, so that the angle formed between hammer face and your hand is a very natural one for your wrist when the face is on the anvil.  The way that one is hung it will cause tendonitis if not torn ligaments in short order!

When you get it turned around it'll be a great hammer.

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I was looking at it and had the same thought, that it looked upside down. I'm uh well practiced in injuries so anything to prevent said issue is a must!  Thanks Alan!

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Posted (edited)

That's an awesome hammer. One of these days we have to get together and make me one!!!

Edit: when I heal up a little more!!!

Edited by Jeremy Blohm

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One more thing:  The handles on these are usually short compared to a normal hammer.  As in, with the face flat on the anvil, the handle should complete the triangle by touching the face as well, sometimes just a little bit longer, and on rare occasion curved down even more.  These also don't swing like ordinary hammers.  It's almost entirely by bending the elbow and dropping it, not a lot of shoulder, with a little wrist snap at the end. Let that forward weight act like the mass it is, just guide the fall and add a little acceleration.  It's awkward at first, and if you try to put a lot of shoulder into it it'll wear you out fast.  If you bring the line of the face past vertical on the upswing it gets hard to control, since it will try to twist around to keep the mass downward.  That's why the Japanese ones use a handle at right angles to the head rather than canted, they are meant to swing from the shoulder for hard blows.  These Sheffield-style dogheads are heavier and meant mostly for finish work rather than breaking down big stock, although they do that pretty well too.  Once you get used to it and have the face dressed to suit you it will become your go-to hammer for forging blades.  I have two of them; one 2.5 pounder by Owen Bush with a normal-length handle set at a slight angle to the face and one antique octagonal 3.5 pounder with a short, steeply angled handle and a slightly domed face that shows it is a true saw-doctor's hammer.  I need to flatten the face on that one a bit more, but I love them both for forging bevels and setting tips.  It's amazing how much easier it is to put a point on flat bar with one of these than it is with a standard cross pein.  It's a much more natural motion, early ergonomics in action. 

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Well Jeremy, take your time to heal up so we can make more ridiculously long road trips for anvils, hammers and whatever else strikes us! But maybe we'll stay at sea level next time... LOL!!!! :lol::lol::lol:

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I liked the mountains though....other than getting sick. :unsure:

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You need to come out west sometime with me. The mountains of NH were cool. The mountains of Washington, Oregon, Alaska....different story. If I bring you out there Sam is gonna miss you...you won't likely come back. Once your back is healed all the way up and we're both rich and famous FIF Champs with lots of extra expendable dough we should plan an "Out west blade and blacksmith extravaganza and elk hunt" trip!!! :D:lol::lol::lol::lol: Yup, just gotta achieve the whole famous and extra cash part now. The rest of that plan is easy! LOL!!! "I love it when a plan comes together".

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Hey Alan, I acquisitioned a couple handles last night that I'll be able to make work for that hammer. You mentioned the desired relatively shorter handle. How short of a handle are you talking about? I've got several handles up to maybe 16" long which I'm sure is way too long. I plan to cut them down a little at a time until I swing it (from the elbow ;)) and it feels right.  But roughly what kind of length are you talking about? Searched around and found a few pics but it's hard to accurately determine just how long they are. Thanks in advance!!!

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Go back and read what he said earlier about the triangle with the face of the hammer flat on the anvil. 

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3 hours ago, Zeb Camper said:

Go back and read what he said earlier about the triangle with the face of the hammer flat on the anvil. 

This.  The angle of the eye determines the length of the handle.  

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7 hours ago, ChrisBriggs said:

You need to come out west sometime with me. The mountains of NH were cool. The mountains of Washington, Oregon, Alaska....different story. If I bring you out there Sam is gonna miss you...you won't likely come back. Once your back is healed all the way up and we're both rich and famous FIF Champs with lots of extra expendable dough we should plan an "Out west blade and blacksmith extravaganza and elk hunt" trip!!! :D:lol::lol::lol::lol: Yup, just gotta achieve the whole famous and extra cash part now. The rest of that plan is easy! LOL!!! "I love it when a plan comes together".

Once you cross the Rockies you don't want to go back. Once you cross the Cascades you swear you won't go back. Once you cross the Coast Range you can't find your way back.

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