In addition to a good-quality chasing hammer, every jeweler’s bench should be equipped with yet another indispensable utility hammer: a goldsmith’s hammer. This classic, all-purpose tool is designed for fabrication and general jewelry-making tasks, and when you find and modify just the perfect one it will be a lifelong friend.
When you choose a goldsmith’s hammer, look for one that’s well balanced, with a hardened-steel head and a comfortable handle. The timeless design of a goldsmith’s hammer features a combination cross peen and flat face to conquer those everyday tasks like riveting, securing hinge pins, and light metal forming. Some hammer brands also feature a “twist” in the head to compensate for the naturally occurring angle of the forearm, wrist, and hand during hammering; others are unfinished to allow you to customize the edges and surfaces of the hammer’s peens and to reduce fatigue by matching your specific work requirements.
I’ve recently started using a Peddinghaus Goldsmith’s Hammer (8217020) which features a long hickory handle and highly polished hardened-steel head. The flat, round face comes with well-finished edges and doesn’t mar my jewelry metal, while the chisel-shaped cross peen is great for texturing metal, riveting, and forming sheet, wire and square stock. I really like the weight and size of this tool, and while this is a great out-of-the-box hammer, I would recommend modifying it anyway to create a more convex and narrower shape on each end of the cross peen and to round off the edges and corners of the flat peen and curve it more to prevent making deep furrows or crescent-shaped dents on your jewelry metal. A good set of abrasive papers ranging from 120 to 800 will help you accomplish this task, and after your careful sanding, be sure to finish off the process by pre-polishing the steel with Tripoli followed by a polishing compound like jeweler’s rouge.
Once you’ve modified your goldsmith’s hammer head, brought it to a mirror finish and shortened the handle specific to your body, it will be a custom tool you’ll reach for with pleasure every time you work.
Helen is an experienced metalsmith, lapidary and studio jewelry instructor who has appeared in 6 instructional jewelry technique videos. Her latest book, Metal Jewelry Workshop, was published in 2017.
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