Technically you can smack your stock with just about anything. Hell, an old carpenter’s hammer will get the job done. However, using a sub par blacksmith hammer is tedious and it’s hard on your elbows. There is nothing fun or creative about elbow pain!
So which hammer should you buy? There are a lot of forging hammers out there, which one is best for forging? In a sense it doesn’t matter too much, the metal getting beat doesn’t care! That being said, it does seem like there are almost too many options available. I tried to help with this problem by compiling a list of badass blacksmithing hammers.
What Are The Different Types Of Hammers For Blacksmithing?
A hammer is just a hammer, or is it?A hammer’s primary purpose is to simply smack stuff, which makes many hammers fairly interchangeable. So why are there so many different hammer types? Well, if you are using a hammer all day long for a specific purpose, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to start daydreaming of ways to make the hammer better. This leads to a lot of specialized hammers. I’ll quickly go over some of the more common types, starting with the most general hammer.
Cross Peen (Pein) Hammer
These hammers are also called blacksmith hammers or forging hammers. They are easily the most commonly used hammer by blacksmiths and blade-smiths. They get their name from the peen that runs horizontal to the handle. For those of you wondering, no, peen is not an innuendo, it’s the name of the part of the hammer head that is opposite the striking face.
Straight Peen (Pein) Hammer
These hammers feature a peen that runs vertical to the hammer handle as opposed to horizontal like the cross peen.
Rounding hammers are a type of hammer that have been gaining popularity in recent years. They are used by well known blacksmiths such as Brian Bazeal and youtuber Alec Steele. Some people swear by them, and others try to turn “rounding hammers vs cross peen hammers” into some kind of religious debate. In my view they are just another tool, some people prefer them over cross peen hammers.
French and Swedish Blacksmith Hammers
There are a large number of hammers that are named by the region they hail from. French and Swedish hammers stand out against the other types as they are fairly popular in the blacksmith world. To avoid repetition, I will go over them in more detail under the “exotic” section of this article.
Other Hammer Types
There are many more types of blacksmith hammers, but I will not go over them in this article. If you are curious, check out my 104 Forging Tools Guide, it goes over 13 different hammer types!
What Type Of Hammer Peen Do I Need For Metal Work?
This largely comes down to personal preference. Which peen is best usually comes down to how you want to stand in relation to your anvil. Certain peens will just feel more comfortable. To figure out which one works best for you will require some practice that will come naturally from playing around with different setups. While that’s fine and dandy, it doesn’t really tell you what kind of peen you need if you are just starting out.
If you are a beginner, you really can’t go wrong with the classic cross peen.
But don’t over think this, it will all work out OK regardless of which type you choose. Remember that some people forge with rounding hammers, these don’t function at all like cross and straight peen hammers. Hell, you don’t even need a peen on your hammer for drawing out metal; you can use your anvil’s edge for drawing out metal if you know the technique for it. There are also other tools such as fullers…the point is, you have options.
Just buy whichever style piques your interest the most. A big part of getting better as a smith will be simply practicing, so get a hammer that makes you excited to smith! Just keep an open mind, and have fun with it.
3 Best Blacksmith Hammers For Beginners
These forging hammers are the ones that I believe are most beginner friendly:
|Head Pattern||New England||New England||Rounding|
|Handle Type||Rubber Grip||Rubber Grip||Wood|
In my personal opinion, this hammer has the best bells-and-whistles/price ratio. This hammer is designed from handle to head to be comfortable for long smithing sessions. It has a patented tuning fork design that reduces harmful vibrations. It is one pieced forged which gives it great material properties, it’s strong but not brittle! To make the material composition even better, it has a rim temper which is designed to reduce chipping or spalling. Finally, it has a rubber handle for extra comfort.
All in All, this hammer is designed for maximum comfort and durability. This is a good thing, as blacksmithing is a somewhat violent hobby. Smashing your hammer into stock for hours at a time can be incredibly hard on your hands, elbows, and wrists. Using this hammer with a good ergonomic technique can go a long way towards keeping your body healthy while smithing.
Keep your body healthy while crafting your unique works of art ➔ Get Yours Today
If you ever find yourself working on larger pieces, you are going to want a larger hammer to move more metal more quickly. Some pieces are just too large and unwieldy for a small 1 handed hammer, in these cases you are going to want a sledge. This particular variety comes in 4lb, 6lb, and 8lb varieties.
Larger hammer heads and longer handles allow you to deliver more force towards your target, which is great for quickly working a piece. There is one catch however, your hands and arms must also now deal with the increased force.
Luckily this sledge design has you covered. It has a particle dampened fiberglass handle, which means it can endure a great deal of abuse. It also has a comfortable rubber grip, so that you can maintain your grip without tearing up your hands.
Sledges are used for a number of blacksmith projects such as: building hammer heads, punching large holes – such as the eye of a hammer, making large axes, and more. Bigger hammers move more metal, so sledges are useful for any project where large transformations are necessary!
Tackle your biggest projects with this Fantastic Sledge
Rounding hammers are another flavour of hammer available to a blacksmith. Some people LOVE rounding hammers. In general, rounding hammers have two faces:
- A rounded face for stretching out metal
- A flat face for smoothing out metal
These hammers can be used with amazing efficiency, and can spread metal very quickly. The one downside to rounding hammers is that they have neither a cross peen nor a straight peen. Smiths can get around this by using the edge of the anvil instead of their hammer for a fullering edge.
Rounding hammers are also commonly used by farriers.
There are other rounding hammers for sale on amazon that will work instead of this one, but there have been reports that they needed a bit of touching up before use. This is common with more obscure tools like rounding hammers, but it’s still annoying and worth considering.
Rounding hammers are used by a number of a big names in the blacksmithing community and for good reason. They are incredibly effective. If this sounds like your type of hammer, get yours here
4 Cheap Blacksmith Hammers For People On A Budget
While it’s generally worth while to pay up for your essential equipment (forging hammer, anvil, tongs etc.) Sometimes you just don’t have the budget for some of the more expensive hammers. I have tried to compile a list of cheaper hammers that will allow you to start smithing ASAP.
|Head Pattern||New England||New England||New England||New England|
|Handle Type||Wood||Wood||Fiber Glass w/ Rubber Grip||Fiber Glass w/ Rubber Grip|
This is a highly customizable hammer at an affordable price. These hammers currently come in both 3 pound(1.361 kg) and 4 pound(1.814kg) varieties and can be fitted with either a 16in (40.64cm) hickory or fiberglass handle.
This is a great option for a low price, get yours here
For an even cheaper option, consider the above hammer. It is a no frills hammer that will help you get through your first few projects.
Although I will also say, Cheaper hammers have a tendency to need a little touch up work before use. This really isn’t a big deal, especially when the hammer is purchased at a great price, but I want to make sure your expectations are not sky high.
Get started today by clicking here
Another affordable option is this little beauty. Made by a midwestern company based out of south dakota, this little hammer comes with a comfortable 14in (35.56cm) shock absorbing fiberglass handle. This is handle is formed in the oversized mechanic style.
The hammer head is made of forged carbon steel, and can put up with all the abuse you can hurl at it. Get yours here
This popular and well tested hammer comes in cross pein, sledge, and drilling varieties. The cross pein is a 3lb hammer with a high-strength fiberglass handle. Interestingly, the company that makes this claims that the hammer has a permanent head to handle epoxy bond that will not loosen over time…
Which is interesting, because it seems like they had issues with the head flying off on earlier models of this hammer. All the same, it seems like they have this issue sorted with newer models.
Cheaper tools will generally come with “warts.” That’s just the way of the world, however this hammer is great for situations where you need an economical hammer for a quick project. Finish your projects quickly by getting yours here
2 Exotic BlackSmith Hammers
Alright, alright, “exotic” is overselling it a bit. Basically blacksmiths have existed in damn near every country and culture in the world. Over time, many different hammer patterns have emerged; as a general rule, these patterns are named after the region they are from.
I bring this up, because some of you might want a hammer that stands out a bit.These hammers are a little more exciting than the traditional cross-peen,straight-peen, and rounding hammers.
While french pattern hammers are not commonly used in traditional blacksmithing, you will come across them on blacksmithing forums and in peoples shop’s from time to time.
According to the respected blacksmith Uri Hofi in a thread on iforgeiron, this hammer pattern was made specifically for riveting the Eiffel tower. The off center peen allowed for easier riveting on the curved shaped of the towers supporting structure.
So really this should be a very niche tool, but I come across it enough in blacksmith communities that I think it’s worth mentioning as an option. I will say that I don’t personally use one, but I’m open to trying it sometime in the future.
If you’re a bit bored with traditional hammers, consider getting a french pattern hammer Here
This beautiful Swedish hammer is a great starter hammer that will help you craft pure works of art. It has a narrow cross peen that will help you create deep, smooth, fullering cuts in your stock. This narrow cross peen can also be used for, well, peening.
I should mention that it is a bit heavier than the other hammers. Heavier hammers allow you to spread metal faster, thus maximizing your ability to move metal while the stock is still hot. In contrast to this, some people say that beginners don’t have the skill necessary for heavier hammers, and yet others claim that heavier hammers are harder on your arms.
Ultimately this is a personal decision. Only you can decide what is the optimal weight for you.
This hammer has an ash handle, which in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, is also symbolically important. The ash tree represented the world tree in ancient Celtic mythology, pretty neat!
➔ Get yours Here
Sometimes one hammer is just not enough! There are a number of offers available that will allow you to scoop up multiple hammers for an incredibly affordable price. Most blacksmiths that I know have multiple hammers. In fact, most smiths I know have over twenty hammers! When you’re first starting out, you don’t need to go on a buying spree, but it can be economical to buy a set of hammers if you know you will need multiple types of hammers.
This set contains a 3lb cross pein hammer, a 1lb and 2lb ball pein hammer, a 3lb sledge, and a 2lb rubber mallet. The cross pein in this set is the primary interest to a blacksmith, but if you need the other hammers, this is a great deal!
Best Blacksmith / Forging Hammers For Knife Making
Knife making is a subset of blacksmithing, therefore any of the above hammers mentioned for blacksmithing will work well for knife making. When I’m forging knives, I often use my trusty old cross pein hammer. As far as I’m concerned there is no need for a specialized hammer for knife making.
That being said, there are some other options out there you should be aware of. Some people like a hammer called a “Japanese” style hammer when knife making. These hammers have an elongated front portion (the body behind the striking face) that allows you to simply “drop” the hammer onto the piece and have it hit your stock evenly. Some people love these hammers but I find them awkward…I tend to try and muscle them and apparently that’s not in line with the hammers philosophy.
While were at it, I’ll let you in a dirty little secret about knife making. While most people think of knife making as a blacksmiths activity, a lot of what you will be doing overlaps heavily with jewelry making. So it’s not a terrible idea to buy some tools from the jewelry making trade. A Jewelers hammer along with a jewelry anvil can be helpful with some knife making activities.
Blacksmithing is one of the world’s oldest professions. Metal is an incredibly strong material that is superior to other material alternatives for a wide variety of tools, decorations, and support structures. The ability to bend and shape metal is absolutely incredible, and even better, it has an incredibly low barrier to entry! All you need is an anvil, a forge, a piece of metal, and a blacksmith hammer!