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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Around the Metal Studio: If I had a hammer

Last week I talked about the mighty rolling mill, available for use in the BeadFX Metal Studio. This week, I want to talk about one of man's first tools, the hammer. But first, I want to recognize the amazing space that is the BeadFX Metal Studio. It's been reorganized to be even more student-friendly, and it's a great place to take a class or work on a project. Recently installed overhead lighting really brings the brightness of daylight to the space, even more than the skylight.

Evidence of hammers being used by humans dates back almost 3 million years. At its most basic, a hammer is meant to drive nails, break things apart or forge metal. Hammers have two parts - a handle and a head - but there are so many variations on that theme depending on what a hammer is designed to accomplish.

In the Metal Studio, you will find a wall of hammers that will make creating jewellery easier and give you professional-looking results. It might seem straightforward, that a hammer is a hammer is a hammer, but they are specialized to certain tasks. Hammers are available to try, and to buy, so take your time and make sure you have the right tool for the job. Here's a brief list of hammers and how to know which one to use for which task.

Brass Hammer
This hammer has a short handle and a barrel-shaped brass head. It is perfect for those of you who are into metal stamping. You won't damage your stamps using this specialized hammer. BeadFX has an amazing selection of metal stamps/alphabets for you to sample in the studio!


Chasing/Planishing Hammer
This favourite of mine has one round, slightly convex highly polished face that is perfect for planishing (from the latin for flat). You can flatten/stretch metal with the hammer, especially in repousse or for working wire when you want to flatten curves or paddle the ends of it. There is a ball-shaped or round end as well, that can be used for shaping metal, dimpling it for texture effects or even setting eyelet rivets.

Chasing Hammer

Riveting Hammer (also a cross-peen hammer)
This hammer has a square, flat face and a sharp, slim cross-peen. It comes in a variety of sizes and weights. I use this hammer for a couple of things. When I'm foldforming, I use the heaviest riveting hammer I can find and employ the sharp cross-peen end to make sharp, strong blows to move the metal quickly and accurately. For riveting eyelet rivets, or most rivets, I use the smaller riveting hammers, alternating between the flat face and the cross-peen face to flare the rivet and set it.

Rawhide/Nylon Hammer (technically a mallet)
These hammers are perfect for shaping projects without leaving marks on the metal. You can work-harden projects with these hammers. My preference is rawhide, but you need to try to confirm your favourite. You can also buy mallets composed of tightly rolled paper that accomplish the same task.

Rawhide Mallet

Ball-peen Hammer
There are quite a few uses for this general-purpose hammer. It has a rounded-peen face and a flat round face. You can create texture with the round face, you can flatten and shape metal with the flat face and drive stamps, etc in a pinch.

Texture Hammer
The faces on these specialized hammers have cross-hatching, dimples and other effects carved into the face so that when you strike metal with them, you can create textures on your jewellery that give visual interest and depth to your projects. Endless possibilities here. Use a little texture, use a lot. If you don't have a rolling mill, or your project is small or shaped, this is the way to get quick and fun texture on it.

Texturing Hammer, Checkered and Wide Stripe
The studio has a few other specialized hammers, such as the nylon raising hammer. And, of course, there are anvils, dapping blocks, bench blocks, mandrels and all the other tools you need to create your own jewellery designs. Take a class, explore or join me for Open Metal Studio night. You can learn, play, share and explore in a wonderful environment surrounded by everything you need.

Here's a short video by Rio Grande that takes you on an overview tour of hammers. Enjoy!
How to Hammer

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