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Thread: Home-made hammers
11-24-2005, 01:07 AM #1
A friend of mine has two hammers that he made in metal shop in high school the things are 30 plus years old. I thought it would be cool to make my own hammers, does anyone know where I can find some info on this? I want to know more about the material I should use and how to treat it after I machine it. Any advice is greatly appreciated
11-24-2005, 04:21 AM #2
many of the old blacksmith books go into detail in making of hammers amoung other tools.
basically you want to use a carbon steel, so you can heat treat it.
good useable hammers can be made from axle shafts from cars and trucks, they have sufficient carbon content to work out well.
i could go into detail of the heat treating process for the home guy, but not the highly technical processes with their need for ovens, pyrometers etc.
certainly good useable hammers can be hand forged and heat treated in a home shop useing the old school methods
check you local library for tool making, blacksmithing and the like.
11-24-2005, 04:51 AM #3
i might also add the following as a cursory explanation or the basics of the operation
1. pick some carbon steel stock, such as an axle shaft that is the approx size for the head you want.
2. anneal it by heating to dull red, and letting it cool slowly, in an ash pit, or sand or whatever. the idea is to soften it to the point of machining it, so the slower it cools the better it will be to work with generally.
3. machine whatever shape you want, by whatever means you like, lathe, mill, torch, forge, anvil, or between two hard rocks [img]smile.gif[/img]
4. reheat the wear surface, namely the face of the hammer head to full red and then immediately dunk into room temp water, while swirling the head around to get the water to cool it as rapidly as possible. now the face of the head will be very hard, too hard for most applications.
5. grind and polish the now hardened face to a nice shine, this is important because the next step is drawing a temper into the face, which reduces the hardness to an acceptable level for the use it is to be used for.
6. now heat slowly from the handle hole, useing a propane torch. the key is to heat slowly so as to watch the polished face to see the color change from bright shiny silver thru the spectrum from faint straw (yellow) to full purple.
7. for ball peen hammer faces i would go to a dark straw color, for a claw hammer maybe a light straw color.
8. under good light you will see the color run up, and if you heat slowly it wont run up to fast. when it gets to the color you want, recool it immediately in the water bucket. this stops the tempering process.
The end result will be a face that has been hardened to a reasonable depth, and leaving the balance of the head softer so it won't crack or shatter.
also it is good to note that in the step above illustrating the different colors for ball peen and claw hammers: claw hammers strike soft nails and therefore can be harder for longer wear, whereas ball peen routinely are used to strike chisels and punches that are harder than a nail and will crack, splinter or chatter if they are not tempered sufficiently.
now i am sure there are others here that will tell you better ways of doing it, and also which steels to purchase to produce your hammers.
but this will give you an idea of what you can do with scrap and a little work, that will produce very servicable and long lived hammers
also i might add the following caveat, disclaimer etc.
the color dark straw may still be too hard for a hammer, it has been awhile and i havent looked it up on the color chart, do so before you endevour to heat treat the head.
also, building hammers, chisels, punches, etc and heat treating them at home is both fun and rewarding, the use of these tools carries with it the responsibility of the maker to wear eye protection when using these tools (as you should with any tool i guess)
and if in doubt about the hardness of a hammer face it might be wise to temper is to a darker color on the chart, and thus lower the face hardness. this will make it less likely to fracture, splinter or shatter. but may make it dent up a bit more than you would like, it is a comprimise. the key is to find the happy medium.
11-24-2005, 04:58 AM #4
We have a formula for hammer steel and the heat treating procedures at the foundry. I've been looking for a reason to make a heat of it and pour a couple of hammer heads. I wonder how they would hold up against a forged hammer.
11-24-2005, 05:00 AM #5
I just bought a 2lb diagonal pein hammer from a fellow blacksmith that was made from PTO shaft. It is a sweet hammer.
Go check out this site. The blacksmiths on this site can help you out. There is a really good set of "blueprints" of blacksmithing projects.
This is another site to check out. Look for the "Iforge" section. This has some blueprints for verious blacksmithing projects.
I've been making differnt chisels and punches for myself and some local customers. Here is a pic of some.
The two on the right are cold chisels forged from high carbon RR spikes. The one to the far left is a "slitting" chisel made from a coil spring from a car. The next one, to the right is a round nose punch made from a buck rake tooth. The next two are also made from a buck rake tooth. One being a small cold chisel and the other being an angled cold cut chisel.
11-24-2005, 12:04 PM #6
I just went around the corner to the highway dept. property. There maintenance facility is ther and there is a huge scrap pile. I found a chunk of a shaft that had splines on it. Should work. it is below zero with the wind here I thought my hands were gonna fall off, there was alot of steel in that pile, shoulda brought the truck.
11-24-2005, 01:15 PM #7
I borrowed a mold and purchased 24 feet of pipe to cut up as handles. Poured them at work when they were getting ready to dump the lead tank to fix a leak.
I had lead hammers stored everywhere. gave away all but one.
Sure wish I could do that again...
David from jax
11-24-2005, 02:39 PM #8
Go back and grab all of the scrap you can! Get your self a small blacksmith setup (if you don't already have one) and start hammering out things, like hammers, chisels, punches, and such. I'd put my chisels up agianst anything from Snap-on or Mac tools. Cheaper too! Axels for hammers, coil springs for chisels, swaybars for prybars or big chisels! This is why the "blacksmith" was called the "King of the craftsmen"! He made all of the tools that the craftmen needed to do their jobs. At one time all lathe and shaper tooling was made by a blacksmith! Most of my blacksmithing referance books have sections about making lathe tooling. Of course it's alot easier to just buy tooling now!
11-24-2005, 03:14 PM #9
"Of course it's a lot easier to just buy tooling now!"
It is a lot of hard work ---
But it sure is rewarding to pound raw steel into usable items on the anvil.
I spent a little time at a museum living history blacksmith shop working with the smith.
I made a few items including a blade for grafting trees, it was made from a spike harrow spike, hardened and drawn to a light straw.
I also have a couple of good books for the beginner by Alexander G. Weygers. "The Making Of Tools & The Modern Blacksmith"
Of course as pointed out, there is a lot af really great information free right here on the Internet.
You must be getting a some of the 45 plus mph winds we are getting right now and with the temperature at 15 degrees it's a little cool.
11-24-2005, 03:14 PM #10
Waco High School 1955. Basement machine shop class.
( the great old building is still there, but you can be sure the people in there have never seen a machine tool)
Turned up head and handle. Got to practice knurling and threading and tapping. Pop Werner, grouchy teach, showed us how to cyanide harden (very shallow case) the head, which we screwed on the handle after fiddling with the tapped hole. Gas furnace used was the old Johnson on the pipe pedestal, and the "pizen" fumes were just vented out a window (my how times have changed)
11-24-2005, 03:19 PM #11
Could I use truck leaf springs to make chisels?
I went back and grabbed those.
11-24-2005, 04:01 PM #12
yes you can use the truck leaf springs as well
also look for mudflap brackets from heavy trucks, that are bent or broken, they make excellent chisels, punches etc.
also pick up any L shape tire irons out of old cars, they are great source of carbon steel.
tools i have made and use, chisels and punches
and endmill that works perfectly as long as it is flooded with coolant.
and a drill bit that drilled 3 two inch holes thru a piece of truck frame, before it needed to be resharpened. that bit took less than 10 minutes to make, harden, temper and grind. it was made from a tire iron, and produced beautiful curls as it cut using a drill press.
yes do set up a forge, ooal or gas fired, and get a good anvil
its amazing what can be done with a little work, not much money and your imagination
11-24-2005, 04:10 PM #13
A friend of mine made a nice BFH out of a big diesel wrist pin and a length of round stock for the handle, with a piece of hose slipped on for comfort. I don't know what the material was, or how it was heat treated, but it's held up for years. I've always wanted to make one, but I haven't come across a wrist pin big enough. Any diesel mechanics out there?
11-24-2005, 05:14 PM #14
11-24-2005, 06:01 PM #15
Blacksmithing is a very good skill to learn. I think any shop without a anvil and some of the blacksmithing tools is incomplete. There is so many things that you can do with an anvil and forge in a shop that, that I can't imagine not having one now. I don't think you need to be a master to put the skill to use or be able to shoe horses and such, but just learning some of the skills will expand your overall metal skills more than you think. I'm always looking for something else to make, and sometimes using the forge is quicker/easier than messing with the torch or making it in another way.
You don't need alot of tools to blacksmith. I've got about 5 differnt hammers, a hot cut set, cold cut set, a flatter, and about a dozen tongs, (although I only used two of them to make all of the chisels/punches above). Files, saws, rulers, tapes, chauk, twisting wrenches, grinders and such are tools you already have in your standard shop already. If you want to learn forge welding, its a good skill to learn, but most modern smiths use a arc or mig welder regularly as needed, unless it is for a period piece they are making.
Basically, most metal can be shaped into into anything you need, it just takes time to do it. The closer you are to the finished shape when you start, the quicker you get to where you want to go with the shape! The RR spike chisels I make are a good example. It is already square with a chisel point on it already. I take it, anneal it, normalize it, forge the head out so you can't tell it was ever there, (this also makes the chisel longer), then I use the hammer to forge the shank into a octagon. I then let it normalize overnight then I grind my edge on it. Then I heat the first 3 or so inches to a non-magnetic temp, then quench the first inch or so. Then I polish the cutting edge real quick and then hold the chisel with the cutting edge up. I then wait and watch for the heat to move back into the cutting edge. It'll start out as a light straw color and then darken to a dark purple, which is when I quench the whole thing in water, as I swirl it around. Sometimes it takes a little while for the colors to start. I use RR spikes that have a "HC" stamped into the head. (the "HC" doesn't mean high carbon though, it is a makers mark) Spikes with a "WC" will work but they are a lower carbon number.
If you want to learn more go join us on the IForgeIron site on Tuesday nights at 8:00pm EST for a live chat and demo. The link is on the link I posted above on the left side of the page.
Here is a link to some things made by smiths out of RR spikes.
RR spike items
This site also has alot of good info on it.
11-30-2005, 10:44 AM #16
Here are some blacksmith hammers made on a vertical mill. The octagon design performs well in service and is easy to make.
Wish you luck.
11-30-2005, 12:34 PM #17
Oil quench steels are by far the best to use with home "harden by eye" heat treatment methods.
Leaf springs are an excellent source as are rotary mower blades.
Blacksmiths and farriers(horse- shoers) are misnamed probably because in days gone by, the blacksmith was also a farrier.
Today however, except in rare circumstance the two noble crafts are far removed from one another.
11-30-2005, 10:46 PM #18
Guy Lautard, about a year ago, put out a CD for about ten bucks dealing with shop projects. It included an extensive section on shopmade hammers.
12-01-2005, 11:11 PM #19
If anyone can take Cadkey 97 files, I have a few hammer plans I can send via e-mail. I may be able to iges them out, but may be a couple of weeks to find the time. May take a bit of time to get a reply out.
I make hammers using mild steel for the hamdles (some with a hole drilled in the handle for vibration dampening), heads of brass, mild steel, and 4140 and 4150. I have a hammer witth a 4150 head with one end that has a screw stud in it for interchangable tips.
I tend to use 4150 or 4140 for the heads, oil harden after getting cherry red for about 20 to 30 minutes. The oil cools enough to get the steel hard, but not crack it as the part retains heat - probably about 500 to 800 degrees. Air cool after dipping. After this, I "torch anneal" to straw then blue (turns gray after cooling). Not the most scientific, but works well.
12-02-2005, 03:37 AM #20
My experiance with BFH's was gained working in an Ice Cream factory. Heads were from a farm tractor axle, but the nice feature of the sch 80 1 inch pipe handles was that after building up the weld about 3/8" thick, we anealed the weld area with a tig torch, seemed to make the best break resistant joint, and I still have and use the 3 I made. Only had to reweld 1 over a 8 year period.
I know, they sting a little when you get a good hard hit, but they seem to last good and take incredable abuse.