When you think tools for making jewelry, hammers are probably one of the first things that come to mind. A wide variety of these jewelers’ tools is often found in a metalsmith and jewelry designer workshop or studio. Hammers are the heart of the work of the metalsmith.
The word “smith” is derived from the verb “to smite” or hit. Hammers are used to harden, form and bend the metal to create both simple and intricate designs. These tools for jewelry making are essential to the fabrication process.
I started with a five hammer basic kit and have been adding hammers throughout the years. It is personal preference which hammers you want to add to your collection, as you work with different tools for making jewelry you will decide which are you favorites.
It also depends on what you want to accomplish:
a) Hardening the metal without stretching or thinning it out?
b) Moving the metal with the purpose of changing the shape and thickness?
This is where the different sizes and weights of the hammers come into consideration, I have included a list of the basic hammers I recommend having in you tools for making jewelry box. These hammers will help you create a variety of techniques that will enhance and make your work easier.
Tools for Making Jewelry – Selecting the Right Jewelry Hammers
The Basic Ballpein Hammer: This type of hammer is used for peening or hammering with the purpose of spreading the surface of the metal. It is also used for hardening the surface of the metal. A ball-peen hammer is a basic hammer and a staple in the jeweler’s studio. It has two ends a ball-shaped end and a cylindrical end. It is used for shaping, striking the metal. It can be used with stamps, chisels and punches to create textures.
The Planishing Hammer: It has a flat or slightly domed face. This hammer is used for forming and smoothing convex shapes. After a piece of metal has been formed by using techniques such as raising or sinking, it may have an irregular surface. It flattens wire and metal sheet leaving no marks. The head of the hammer stretches the metal in all directions.
The Raising Hammer: Have a rounded polished cross peen. The corners are perfectly rounded to prevent marring the metal. These hammers are used to stretch sheet metal into convex shapes by using a consistent and constant strike. For embossing you want a hammer that has narrow or oblong shapes. Smoother overlapping marks are more easily attained on long thin shapes than would be possible with a round embossing hammer.
The Chasing Hammer: Originally designed for repousse and chaing. They have a large smooth and flat surface on one side, and a small round embossing end for riveting or peening. With this hammers it is important to consider the weight. You want an easy bouncy rhythm to be created to avoid extra stress on your body.
The Forging Hammer: They have a polished cross peen, with a square and sharper face. This makes the metal stretch in only one direction. They are helpful with fold forming, synclastic and anticlastic forming.
The Sinking or Embossing Hammer: They are similar to planishing hammers, but have a round, domed face. They are used to force silver into a surface that is curved or cupped. They are helpful in repousse work.
These are hammers that do not have a smooth surface. Instead they have divots, lines and other designs ground into the face of the hammer. You can purchase pre-made texture hammers or make them yourself.
When you are purchasing tools for making jewelry, always start with the basics, test them and feel them. Once you know what you need and what type of jewelry you want to make you will be able to purchase the right hammers. I add one or two hammers a year to my collection.
Always buy quality – when the hammer is well made it is going to last longer and will save you money. Consider the weight and how it feels in your hand. Test the hammer before you purchase it (many bead shows have vendors that sell jewelry tools).
Hammering is hard work and you want to protect your body so that you can use it for a long time. A quality, well selected hammer will make your hammering experience easier.