Types of Blacksmithing Hammers and Their Uses
There is perhaps no more important tool for a blacksmith than their hammer. It's the iconic instrument of the craft, and we always envision blacksmiths wielding a hammer over an anvil.
The truth is, blacksmiths rely on many different hammers, for different purposes, and every blacksmith has a range of hammers for the job at hand. Here are some of the most common hammers used in blacksmithing, and what they are used for.
Cross Peen (Pein) Hammer
The cross peen or cross pein hammer is the hammer most commonly used by blacksmiths and metalworkers. A cross peen hammer has the wedge end of the head (the peen) angled horizontally relative to the handle. This wedged peen at a flat angle allows a blacksmith to hammer in compact, small spaces that are too restricted and precise for the full, flat head of the hammer.
Cross peen hammers are particularly used in riveting. They are ideal for spreading, and the hammer can simply be flipped from the flat end of the head to the wedge end of the head when more precision is needed.
The KSEIBI 271450 Cross Pein Hammer at 2.2 pounds is a classic blacksmith's hammer. It has a polished face, bevel, and pein. The fiber glass handle withstands stress and strain, with superior breaking tolerance designed for tough work.
The head is permanently bonded to the handle with epoxy, and will not loosen over time. The head is made of forged steel. The high-strength fiberglass handle core absorbs shock and vibration and reduces fatigue. And it has a rubberized grip for secure holding, hour after hour. The 2.2 pound weight is great for a range of blacksmithing tasks, with enough weight to pound and shape metal, but not so heavy that it causes fatigue. If you are thinking of buying blacksmithing hammers these are the first ones to think about, you will use them every day.
Straight Peen (Pein) Hammer
A straight peen or straight pein hammer has the wedge shape of the peen running vertically, parallel to the line of the handle. As with the cross peen hammer, it is used for drawing and shaping metals in precise, specific areas that are tighter than allowed by the flat head of the hammer. They are also particularly used in riveting.
Most blacksmiths prefer to stick with a cross peen hammer, and simply rotate the work to the needed angle, rather than switching to a straight peen hammer. But some blacksmiths prefer straight peen hammers, or alternate between the two hammers depending on the angle and precision needed.
The Bon RiverWorks 12451 27-306 Straight Pen Driving Hammer is an excellent choice for blacksmiths who prefer a straight peen. It has crowned striking faces with beveled edges, and is made in the USA of hand forged steel. It has a sturdy wooden handle. It weighs 3.9 pounds, so it brings plenty of strength and power to almost any sledging operation.
Rounding hammers were traditionally used by farriers, but recent years have seen them surge in popularity among blacksmiths. As the name might imply, they have one flat face and one rounded face. The round face allows you to draw steel faster than with a flat faced hammer, so you can use a single hammer for drawing and smoothing.
Used properly, they are versatile hammers and take the place of other, more specialized hammers. The more balanced, symmetrical weight of a rounding hammer appeals to some blacksmiths, who find it easier to use, and is disliked by others, who prefer to have the flat surface weighted a bit more heavily, as in a cross peen hammer.
Many popular YouTube blacksmiths use rounding hammers, which may be the cause of their surge in visibility as blacksmithing hammers.
The Nordic Forge 2 Lb. Rounding Hammer is a classic rounding hammer, designed for farriers since 1906. It has one round, crowned face, and one flat face. Both faces are beveled to reduce chipping. The handle is hard wood. The hammer is perfectly balanced, and weighs 2 pounds, perfect for a wide range of blacksmithing jobs.
Swedish Blacksmith Hammers
Swedish blacksmith hammers are a local variation of cross peen hammers. They have a much narrower, more dramatic wedge, that helps create deep, smooth cuts in metal while putting a lot of weight behind the flat face.
The Picard 0000811-1500 Swedish pattern blacksmith's hammer is a great example of this design, with a handle made of ash wood. Ash is a very symbolic wood in Norse mythology, known for its strength and durability. This hammer weighs 3.7 pounds, bringing plenty of power to every strike.
French Blacksmith Hammers
French hammers are cross peen hammers with a distinctive offset on the wedge side. It is said that this hammer shape was specifically invented for working on the unique curved metals and construction of the Eiffel tower. This unusual shape is preferred by some blacksmiths, as it improves their line of sight to the work, and disliked by others, as it changes the weight distribution of the hammer.
The Picard 0001601-0800 Locksmith's hammer has that distinctive French shape, with a handle made of ash wood. This hammer weighs just 1.76 pounds, making it great for small, precise jobs.
Notes on the Weight of a Hammer
As you can see, the hammers on this list range from weighing less than 2 pounds to weighing nearly 4. A heavier hammer is faster and more efficient, but a blacksmith should never use a hammer that is heavier than they can wield with control. While weight is a matter of personal preference, it is usually recommended that beginners start with a lighter hammer, because even a light hammer can start to feel very heavy after an hour of use.
Over time, a blacksmith will not only build the arm strength they need to use heavy hammers for long periods of time, but they will develop greater skill and confidence that lets them use a heavier hammer with the same amount of control.
Now you know what the most common blacksmithing hammers are, and what they are used for, you can make the choice that is best for your comfort and your metalworking needs.
-THE STAY AT HOME DAD