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Suitable steel for hammer heads

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Ivan Winters01/12/2020 12:06:49
11 forum posts
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A friend of mine has asked me to turn him some hammer heads. The hammers will go on wooden shafts. Some will be for metal panel work others for woodworking.

Suggestions for appropriate grades of steel will be appreciated. Also any suppliers that colleagues can suggest?

Mike Poole01/12/2020 12:19:27
3168 forum posts
72 photos

Cast steel is the often used material for hammer heads, it hardens and has good impact resistance. Using a high carbon tool steel could make a dangerous tool if the hardening leaves it inclined to chip.


Roderick Jenkins01/12/2020 12:35:20
2138 forum posts
586 photos
Posted by Mike Poole on 01/12/2020 12:19:27:

Cast steel is the often used material for hammer heads, it hardens and has good impact resistance. Using a high carbon tool steel could make a dangerous tool if the hardening leaves it inclined to chip.


Surely that's just a question of tempering. Tubal Cain in "Hardening, tempering and heat treatment" suggests a temper at 230 -250C for hammer heads. That's dark straw. So I suppose that silver steel is the stuff to use but heat treatment and tempering must be for times appropriate for the thickness of the hammer heads.


SteveW01/12/2020 15:01:03
135 forum posts
11 photos

I’d be a bit careful to temper appropriately. My stepfather had a hammer chip embedded in his finger caused by a RAF erk whacking two hammers together. Stayed with him all his life. If I had to make a special shape hammer I think I’d try grinding an old hammer head to suit.

Stueeee01/12/2020 15:28:18
109 forum posts

I used square gaugeplate (ground flatstock) when I needed to make an apparently unobtainable shape of panel beating hammer earlier this year. Once the ends were pressed on, I TIG welded them, filed them to shape, gave them a polish and tempered the ends to dark straw. It's been working just fine so far.

not done it yet01/12/2020 17:55:01
6519 forum posts
20 photos

Beware of your friend’s intentions. Is he using them as ‘Birmingham screwdrivers’ in his woodworking activities? I stick to mallets when actually working with wood, using a hammer for little more than inserting panel pins.

JasonB01/12/2020 18:54:19
22017 forum posts
2540 photos
1 articles

I think the American home smiths like to use 1045 which is similar to our EN8 which will harden but not quite as much as gauge plate which is fine as you are not after a cutting edge..

I'm happy to use my "Birmingham screwdrivers" in the form of Japanese hammers to drive my hooped Japanese chisels in the workshop though when on site tend to use the side of the Estwing to drive my European style chisels as just about every other carpenter does.

Worth noting that the Japanese hammers tend to only have the faces hardened not the whole head, the really expensive ones also have steel faces fire welded to iron bodies which help reduce vibration going down the shaft.

Edited By JasonB on 01/12/2020 18:54:47

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