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Ethan Cheney

Which hammer for me?

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As I was going about looking at tools that I was interested in purchasing I came across hammers. Conner Michaux told me that your hammer can't have sharp edges and that the edges would have to be rounded. Is it true? If so, how would I go about rounding them? If anyone has any suggestions of any hammers that I could buy somewhere at a Home Depot, Lowes, or somewhere online, please let me know! 

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Vaughan hammers are cheap, of acceptable quality with an hickory handle and available at Amazon and plenty other stores. And yes, better round those edges if you don't want sharp corners stamped in your hot steel. There are various methods to do this but I believe most use an angle grinder with a flappy abrasive discs.

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Hammer source.  https://www.hammersource.com/Blacksmithing-Hammers-and-Tongs/

This one is 2.2 lbs, center balance and in my opinion, an excellent hammer for someone to start with.  I still use this style, except a little larger.

https://www.hammersource.com/Blacksmithing-Hammers-and-Tongs/Picard-1000-gm-2.2-lb.-DIN-1041-Machinists-Hammer-with-14-wood-handle/

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39 minutes ago, Joël Mercier said:

Vaughan hammers are cheap, of acceptable quality with an hickory handle and available at Amazon and plenty other stores. And yes, better round those edges if you don't want sharp corners stamped in your hot steel. There are various methods to do this but I believe most use an angle grinder with a flappy abrasive discs.

Speaking of angle grinders, I don't have one yet, and I can't use my garage for my place of work, so I was wondering if you think this angle grinder is good enough to last me for awhile and still give me enough power to get the job done.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/RYOBI-18-Volt-ONE-Cordless-4-1-2-in-Angle-Grinder-Tool-Only-P421/100519983

I know its on the lower side and thats why I was looking at it. I don't want to spend a fortune starting off and I was wondering if you would purchase this if it was your money. Im certainly not the richest guy and thats why Im asking your opinion on this cheaper angle grinder.

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For hammers, as long as it isn't huge and doesn't have a fibreglass/metal handle, you'll probably be fine. I started with a 1,5lb Swedish pattern hammer from blacksmith's deopt and I still use it fairly often. Great weight to handle length ratio, but for most rough forging these days I use something larger. No sense in going crazy and getting something that would in other places be considered a sledge hammer. The heavier it is, at least starting out, the more you might build up bad habits as far as grip, swing, and other ergonomics that can have compounding health issues after a while. 

Angle grinders don't need to be anything fancy. I've had the same non-name brand grinder for over 10 years and have never had any problems with the things I need it to do. Depends on how you intend on using it though. For the odd job, almost anything will be fine. But if you need to use it like a chop saw, maybe reconsider.

In general, one of the easiest things to do starting out is to keep waiting for the perfect tool or workshop or opportunity, but it is learning to work with what you have and have access to which builds up resilience to things that don't go according to plan. I for one say, if the tools are what are stopping you from getting started, just get what you can and go for it! Because you can get into this craft with a hole in the ground for a forge, birdseed bags and a scrap of metal pipe for bellows, and a rock for a hammer, the barrier to entry is fairly primeval. Not saying that is preferred, only that the rest is mostly just convenience ;)

But, welcome aboard, and hope you get situated with what works best for you!

John

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16 minutes ago, John Page said:

For hammers, as long as it isn't huge and doesn't have a fibreglass/metal handle, you'll probably be fine. I started with a 1,5lb Swedish pattern hammer from blacksmith's deopt and I still use it fairly often. Great weight to handle length ratio, but for most rough forging these days I use something larger. No sense in going crazy and getting something that would in other places be considered a sledge hammer. The heavier it is, at least starting out, the more you might build up bad habits as far as grip, swing, and other ergonomics that can have compounding health issues after a while. 

Angle grinders don't need to be anything fancy. I've had the same non-name brand grinder for over 10 years and have never had any problems with the things I need it to do. Depends on how you intend on using it though. For the odd job, almost anything will be fine. But if you need to use it like a chop saw, maybe reconsider.

In general, one of the easiest things to do starting out is to keep waiting for the perfect tool or workshop or opportunity, but it is learning to work with what you have and have access to which builds up resilience to things that don't go according to plan. I for one say, if the tools are what are stopping you from getting started, just get what you can and go for it! Because you can get into this craft with a hole in the ground for a forge, birdseed bags and a scrap of metal pipe for bellows, and a rock for a hammer, the barrier to entry is fairly primeval. Not saying that is preferred, only that the rest is mostly just convenience ;)

But, welcome aboard, and hope you get situated with what works best for you!

John

Thanks for that. I just have one more question. I have been told that i need a vice. Its somewhat like a clamp. Why can't I just use a regular clamp? Do I absolutely NEED a vice? 

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A fantastic insight from John. I'd just add that cordless angle grinders usually have a short working time between charges. If you can use a corded one, it'd be a better choice.

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2 minutes ago, Ethan Cheney said:

Do I absolutely NEED a vice

Let's just say I'd put that extremely high in the priority list :lol:. You need something to hold your stuff firmly while you work. 

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Couldn't I just use a regular clamp then? Vices are pretty expensive.

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Regular clamps work for a lot of things, provided you have something to clamp stuff to (workbench) and sometimes work better than a vice. Again, it depends a lot on what you are intending to do/make. A post vice is a specialised vice that supports the jaws with a leg that extends all the way to the ground, so you can hammer on things clamped in it. Extremely useful, if that's the work you're doing. But for a lot of shops, not at all necessary. I would avoid, however, hammering on a machinist's vice that bolts to the workbench because they are not typically designed for that sort of stress. I for one would get one, but if it's an expense you are worried about, I'd say start with regular old clamps and see if it's something you need. The operations I would foresee you needing the vice for, such as polishing blades or holding things while drilling/gluing, can all certainly be done by clamping the piece to another work surface.

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Also on the vice note, you can probably find a used one for surprisingly cheap. I'd just watch out for any fixes on it (welding things back together, rethreading, that sort of thing) that might be on older tools. Not necessarily a problem, but things that are designed to take larger amounts of tension loading (screw, corresponding outward shear on the jaws when clamping) don't take well to being fixed. 

If you do decide to go with clamps over a vice to start with (or in addition to), and you don't have them already, it might not be as large a price difference as you'd expect. Either way, a good old all metal C Clamp will do a lot for you. Good amount of torque and fairly indestructible. Those ratcheting bar clamps are good for smaller work, but I've stripped the thin knurling on the back of the bar on almost all of mine over time. 

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3 minutes ago, John Page said:

Also on the vice note, you can probably find a used one for surprisingly cheap. I'd just watch out for any fixes on it (welding things back together, rethreading, that sort of thing) that might be on older tools. Not necessarily a problem, but things that are designed to take larger amounts of tension loading (screw, corresponding outward shear on the jaws when clamping) don't take well to being fixed. 

If you do decide to go with clamps over a vice to start with (or in addition to), and you don't have them already, it might not be as large a price difference as you'd expect. Either way, a good old all metal C Clamp will do a lot for you. Good amount of torque and fairly indestructible. Those ratcheting bar clamps are good for smaller work, but I've stripped the thin knurling on the back of the bar on almost all of mine over time. 

For clamps, what depth do you recommend?

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How deep is the thing you plan on clamping to? Less than 3", at least for me, is not generally any use. I have a few 6", 8", and 12" clamps, but I mostly use the 6 or 8. The closer the size of the clamp to all the things being clamped together (bench,  sanding block, blade, handles, backing blocks to drill through, etc.) the less cumbersome it usually is, but if you don't leave much clearance, you'll find you always need just a little more room between the jaw and foot than you thought. On some benches, I've had to clamp to only 1/2" of plywood, but on others, the entire 4" of wood, the plywood, and then the project. A lot of variance, but in the end you can never have too many clamps, so I that's just a long way of saying a variety of sizes is best :rolleyes:

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Okay. I will go with a 3-4 inch then. I was planning on using a wood stump for my anvil stand but maybe not. If I did should I get a piece of plywood and drill it onto the stump for a bigger area. I’m trying to figure out what I need to start off. I already did the math and I’m already over 200 which was expected but I guess it surprised me when I actually did see how expensive it got. It’s fine though. I was expecting to spend up to 500 anyway. I’m also in need of some forge ideas. Brick forge dirt forge? No gas forges because that is expensive. Maybe charcoal. Does anyone know any good designs for a beginner for charcoal? 

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Box of dirt forge, or a brake drum forge, those are both great, and there both easy to make.

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Honestly I think charcoal is on the more expensive side. I have started making my own and I still do buy some here and there when the weather isnt cooperating but with a properly set up propane forge they can be very efficient. 

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Posted (edited)

Jeremy has a great thread on a very beginner friendly propane forge, I can’t find it right now but could someone post the link?

Edited by Conner Michaux

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10 hours ago, Jeremy Blohm said:

 

I read that and it helped a lot. I was a bit confused on what I need though. I know it’s all right there but I just can’t seem to find it. Could you give me a list of what I need? Please include EVERYTHING 

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Does anyone know where I could find some good double sided hammers for a reasonable price? I can't seem to find double sided hammers that are metal. I keep finding rubber heads and stuff like that.

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Posted (edited)

Ethan,

It appears  that you're just at the getting started stage in your smithing so I'll give you a piece of advice from a guy who's been there.  Get a 2lb cross peen hammer with a hickory handle.  It's all that you will need until you become more experienced.  A Vaughan has been recommended which will do all that you need a hammer to do and is available everywhere at a reasonable price.  The handle may be a little too  long so once you get used to the  hammer and determine where it's most comfortable for you to grip it, you may want to cut off part of the hickory handle to fit your swing.  Just don't be in a hurry to do this as putting a new handle on a hammer correctly isn't easy.;)

Also, another good tip  for the beginner is get used to  swinging the hammer with your thumb along side of and not on top of the handle.  I have swung a hammer professionally for over fifty years and can tell you with confidence that you will be glad that you did.

Edited by Gary Mulkey

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Gary Mulkey said:

Ethan,

It appears  that you're just at the getting started stage in your smithing so I'll give you a piece of advice from a guy who's been there.  Get a 2lb cross peen hammer with a hickory handle.  It's all that you will need until you become more experienced.  A Vaughan has been recommended which will do all that you need a hammer to do and is available everywhere at a reasonable price.  The handle may be a little too  long so once you get used to the  hammer and determine where it's most comfortable for you to grip it, you may want to cut off part of the hickory handle to fit your swing.  Just don't be in a hurry to do this as putting a new handle on a hammer correctly isn't easy.;)

Also, another good tip  for the beginner is get used to  swinging the hammer with your thumb along side of and not on top of the handle.  I have swung a hammer professionally for over fifty years and can tell you with confidence that you will be glad that you did.

Your right that I'm just starting out my journey. Im expecting to have a lot of fun doing this. Thanks for the advice on the hammer. It looks like the perfect hammer for me. A Vaughan hammer looks great and all but I just can't see myself using that hammer. Im going to check out the alb cross peen hammer with a hickory handle. Thank you again!

Edited by Ethan Cheney

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If it's because of the blue paint, just brush it off, no big deal. :lol:

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The brand of hammer matters not but you will find that 2lbs is  the most common size and once you learn how to use it, the cross peen is very useful.

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3 minutes ago, Joël Mercier said:

If it's because of the blue paint, just brush it off, no big deal. :lol:

It's not because of that although I do agree that the bright blue isn't appealing to me.  I do appreciate your advice though. I might order both so I can try both of them. Having more then one hammer isn't bad so maybe...

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