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Chris Christenberry

Dog Head Hammers

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Not sure this is the correct forum, so if it's not, someone with the "powers that be", please move it.

Having never pushed hot metal, I joined a local blacksmith's organization recently so I could become exposed to forge, fire and tools. Last night at the gathering, I noticed several guys using Japanese made dog head hammers. In asking questions, a lot of accolades were made about what they "did" for the smith. One of the fellows mentioned it was a typical shape used by the Japanese bladesmiths. Interesting.

Anyone on the forum use them and have any comments......pro/con......about them?

 

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Ok so I have never used an actual Japanese hammer but I recently made a couple that were sort of inspired by the style. I love using the first one I made and hate the last one I made. There is a company that sells a "DIY" Japanese style hammer. Basically you just put a handle on it and can do some creative grinding to dress it up a bit. I'm going to make more of them and try to get it down to an art and hopefully make a few dollars off of them but not until I get it down right.;)

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Yup, I already had that link.  That's one of the heads one of the guys at the blacksmithing group was using.  Said he loved it.

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These are the ones I made. 

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I make and sell dogs head hammers so I am probably biased and I like to use them. my 3 favorite hammers are all dogs head hammers 2 old saw doctors ones and one of mine.

However hammers do not "do" anything for the user....from a completly practicle POV hammers are jsut a lump of metal used to transfer energy into the steel. 2lb is 2lb whether its a dogs head or rounding hammer.

 The actual diferences are subtle. some hammer shapes such as croos pein or diagonal pein ball pein have obvious diferences between how the hammer head shapes the metal. but when it comes to a flat faced hammer or slightly crowned flat faced hammer then the diferences between a round , squarw or octagonal mflat face are subtle. and its the same with a dogs head.

 I prefer to use them for blade work, and I am used to them now they can be a little odd to start with.  They are not a general use hammer and do not do some of the directional forging that can be done with the corners of a short faced rounding hammer because they become less stable when tilted on their side. however for flattening steel they would be my go to.

There is also definatly a little "badging" that goes on with a dogs head hammer being a bladesmiths hammer not a blacksmith hammer...and I am guilty of this as well.

I love hand made hammers and use some made by my friends and I love car boot sale hammer heads for 50 Pence as well. some people love only one hammer ...I am not a Hammernogamous guy!

 

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I have one of Owen's and a saw-doctors, and I love them both.  They are not Japanese any more than any other hammer style, they have been used in Europe in assorted forms for centuries to do specialized jobs.

They take a bit of getting used to, especially the Sheffield type with the canted handle.  They excel at pointing bars and flattening bevels, but, like Owen, I use any number of hammers depending on the task at hand and the look I want.  As-forged house hardware? Cross peen with a domed face.  Don't want hammer marks on it? Cross peen with rectangular flattish face or the Owen hammer.  You get the idea.

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I was given two dogs head hammers for Christmas.   One I returned because it just felt completely wrong.   The second is now my favorite and the only hammer I will use for blade work.   The hammer I kept has a nice  angle of attack and a perfect fitting handle.  It's marked Waters from Canada 

20190427_071236.jpg

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Thanks to you guys.   I appreciate your experience input.  I'm a newbie, for sure and have miles to go before I can lay claim to any real knowledge about bladesmithing.

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5 hours ago, owen bush said:

I make and sell dogs head hammers so I am probably biased and I like to use them. my 3 favorite hammers are all dogs head hammers 2 old saw doctors ones and one of mine.

 

 

Oh, and I might add, Owen, I've had a link to your website on my desktop fro some time now.  I only wish I could afford one of your hammers.  You've been highly recommended by several people.....................your name even came up during the "gathering" last Thursday evening.

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i like them and how they feel in the hand.  i also think they look cool.

i have a few saw doctor's/dog's head hammers which have an acute angle between the shaft and the head.  i like that for creating the primary bevel on shinogi zukuri japanese blades, but for other applications that angle can feel funny.  i got them all on ebay, most of them originally made by disston.  beware of ones where the shaft is very thin -- i think that might have been conducive to correcting saws, but not so much forging.

i also have a more traditional japanese hammer (from japanwoodworker.com -- see my profile pic) that has a 90' angle.  that's become my go-to for most work, but i also use a standard ball pein for some tasks.

several "western" smiths make nice ones including Owen, Nathan Robinson at Jackpine Forge, and Sam Salvati.  Taro Asano was also recently making/selling them.

 

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2 hours ago, joe pierre said:

several "western" smiths make nice ones

????

 

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Great article!

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I'd like to cut a great big ol' file one of these days.... 

I gotta try hammer making too. Anyone tried to stack and weld a hammer head together? 2 sides and 2 parts in the center with =<>= cuts for good welds and leaving a premade hole? 

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I made a couple mini hammers, they get used too, the bigger one is rail spike. I have also made a bunch of mini files, they are needed for work on miniatures sometimes. You just need the right chisel geometry to cut files, they work like nothing else, they laugh at the endgrain of the hardest woods.

I punched out the eye for the rail spike hammer, but I have since lost the punch and I really suck at forging round things.

 

 

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