Length of your handle

C Craft

Well-Known Member
I have been a carpenter all my life! When I did a lot of framing I swung a 220z. framing hammer all day, day in and day out. One thing I learned is let the hammer do the work.

I have a 2lb. that has a 16" handle and my 4lb. has an 18" handle. From experience using the handle to let the hammer do the work!

I had a friend tell me I was killing myself with those longer handles. From my experience, I have no problem controlling the hammer and it lets the weight do the work instead of me having to do it!!So having said that what length do you like your forging hammers to have!

So having said that what length do you like your forging hammers to have!
 

EdCaffreyMS

Forum Owner - Moderator
Personally, all the forging hammers I build use standard 16" "blacksmith" hammer handles. Different people like different lengths (and shapes) of handles....with the wooden handles is very simple to shape and/or cut the handle to suit the individual.

The most common error that people make with forging hammers is how they hold/use them. Most folks "learn" how to hammer something with a framing/claw hammer. They tend to use it by gripping the handle and placing a thumb on the back of the handle.....if you do that with a forging hammer for very long, it's a sure ride to carpel tunnel. A forging hammer should be held loosely in the hand, with the thumb wrapping around the handle, touching tip to tip with your fingers. Repeatable control and accuracy are the keys to using a forging hammer. To that end it's also important to realize/understand that when swinging a forging hammer, short. rhythmic, controlled blows yield far better results then swinging for the fences. :)
 

C Craft

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the answer Ed. Back when I use to frame continually, I remember seeing some guys use the thumb. Even back then I always tried to discourage my guys from doing that!! It is not a good thing to do even with that weight of hammer.
To me letting the weight of the hammer do the work is the key to repeatable control and accuracy. Now I won't say I haven't choked up on the handle for working delicate areas but, I usually swing the hammer with the intent to let the weight do the movement of the metal!!

I was just curious about how others viewed this as I have seen some pics of short handled big headed/weight hammers!
 

EdCaffreyMS

Forum Owner - Moderator
From my viewpoint/experience, when you see someone using a big/heavy hammer with a very short handle, then it's just too much hammer for that individual, and they are compensating in an attempt to be able to handle a tool that is bigger/heavier then they should be using. The absolute biggest hammers that I have in the forging shop are 4lb. and those are dedicated to drifting duties.

Until an individual gains some experience, they often think that the bigger/heavier the hammer, the more work they can get done, when in reality, just the opposite it true. When I'm giving a class, I always stress that control is far more important than weight when it comes to hammers.... most folks tend to listen, but there have been a couple of cases where individuals are just hard headed, won't listen, and grabbed the biggest hammer and start swinging wildly. I had one instance where an individual simply wouldn't listen to me, and after being warned several times, ended up missing a blow with a heavy hammer, and put a big crescent shaped "ding" in the face of my anvil...... I told him we were done, refunded his class fee, and sent him on his way. Just to clarify, before a student ever picks up a hammer, I make it a point to tell them.... "See this anvil?" "Treat it like it's made of glass!"
 

C Craft

Well-Known Member
I haven't done a lot of forging but, I prefer a hammer light enough to swing and heavy enough to move the steel! My days of big hammers are pretty much over. My old shoulder likes to complain to much!
 

Von Gruff

KNIFE MAKER
This is a good video on hammer swing technique. A bit of a rant but good info. I have been swinging a carpenters hammer all my working life as well so have to change the for banging away on steel.

 
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