Metal Magic – part 3

The next installment of kestrel’s magic making is here and there are tools to ogle.


It’s time to meet some of my favorite tools, the raising hammer and the planishing hammer. The faces on them are different shapes and that helps to shape the metal in different ways. The first one I’m going to use is the one on the left, the raising hammer. 

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The face on a raising hammer is longer from the east to the west than it is from the north to the south. When I strike the metal, it will stretch or grow from the north to the south, or along the short part of the face. By carefully controlling how I strike the metal I can control how the piece turns out. In this case, I’m trying to make this piece of metal get longer but not really a lot wider. As I go along I have to make sure I get that thickness even; it did not start even, and I could easily accidentally make part of it too thin. 

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The marks a raising hammer makes are quite deep. I have to hammer up the front, then down the back, and I find I can do that twice before I need to do the next step. When you hammer metal a lot, it gets work hardened (which is good) but if you keep going it will get brittle, and even start to crack if you are not careful. I need to anneal it to soften it up again (as much as metal gets soft) so I can hammer again.

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Annealing is done with a torch, and again, there are metal workers here who use MUCH bigger torches than this, but I’m a jeweler and this is the torch I have to use. The photo is a little bit deceptive because I don’t hold the torch still, but move it up and down the metal to heat it as evenly as possible. Once it’s soft again, I can once more hammer it to stretch the metal even more. As I do this, the metal is getting more and more even in thickness. 

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Keeping the metal piece straight is not that easy. If I strike too hard on one side, it will actually stretch and bend; I could easily hammer it into the shape of a boomerang, or even the letter Z. I learned how to do this on round wire; you quickly figure out how to strike evenly so the wire does not go shooting off in some direction when you really wanted it to be straight. The reason the metal looks a little darker in this photo is I did not polish for this annealing; the heat of the torch makes it look like that.

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The name “raising hammer” is no joke; notice how it curls up around my hammer blows. I had hammered one side and it curled up that way, now I’ve turned it over to hammer the other side. That’s to keep it even and straight. This is not the best anvil in the world; you can see the top is marred. The anvil is too soft for this but this is the anvil I have so I must use it. 

The piece of MarcusMetal (aka mokume gane) is now almost flat and even enough! It’s getting there! 

Thanks, kestrel. I’m looking forward to seeing the planishing hammer in use.





  1. says

    I wonder if your anvil would take a quench. No, best not to go there. And now I am daydreaming about forge-welding a block of S7 onto an i-beam. Insta-anvil.

    Hailey DesRoziers posted a video of them quenching a large anvil. It involves a big bonfire and a blower and a long chain, a back-hoe, and a lake. I’d wondered how you handle 200lbs of anvil at 1800F and now that I’ve seen it, I feel no desire to do it.

    I’m loving this series and I’m terrified you’ll hit a bad weld in the bar and it’ll all be my fault. But if you have gotten this far with it, it’s probably tight.

  2. says

    I love the clean workplace. I wish I could keep mine so pristine, somehow I never manage to do it.

    I can’t wait what it will be turned into.

  3. kestrel says

    LOL. I’m surprised anyone can look at where I solder, and think it’s “clean”. :-D Lucky thing you can’t see the rest of the room!

    @Marcus: this is a cheap crappy anvil and not worth the bother, not to mention the expense of mailing that sucker all over the countryside. A long time ago I had a nice piece of railroad rail that was used; it had a lovely hard surface, from being smashed by trains for so many years. I imagine it’s still in UT… when other people “help” you move, they sometimes don’t realize why you put that big heavy thing in that box, and “helpfully” take it out for you. I mean, what kind of idiot packs a piece of railroad rail? That made me cry. I still miss it…

  4. rq says

    Mmm, tools!
    I’m still left wondering where all this is going -- I’m trying to picture what the end result might be, and I honestly have no idea right now. But it will be awesome!

  5. says

    (Looks over at the piece of 1890s railroad rail) you mean a chunk of rail like that?

    I wonder how long it’d take my bandsaw… hm. Maybe a job for oxy torch in the dead of winter. Come to think of it I have some chain and a truck and a pond.

  6. kestrel says

    @Marcus: a crane would probably make it easier, but those are hard to come by… I’d worry about falling in. That would sure make a cool noise, though! The quenching, I mean, not the falling in. And the steam… if you did it in the winter?! :-D

    I just checked prices and for only $600.00 or so, I could have an anvil and stand shipped to my house! 0_o Eeek… that’s not going to happen. Makes me appreciate a good piece of steel!

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