Generally speaking there are three types of hammers used in jewelry making. The first is a hammer that strikes the item you’re working with and leaves a mark on it. The second is a hammer that strikes the piece you’re working on but does not leave a mark. The last is a hammer which strikes other tools, never directly touching the piece you’re working on.
As you might have guessed, I have a favorite hammer from each of these categories.
First, the Chasing Hammer!
This hammer comes with either a flat head or a domed head. Generally as a beginner you’ll want the one with the domed head because it is a lot harder to strike your work with the edge of the hammer face. However, depending on the work you’re doing and your experience level you may want one or the other. I find myself using the domed head much more often. It works wonderfully for planishing and texturing. Both hammers have a small round face on the back of the hammer head which is perfect for peening and riveting. I use this hammer for all of my forged handmade clasps!
Second, the Nylon/Rawhide Hammer
A nylon hammer is the ninja of the hammer world. It’s light, quick, strikes with precise force, and doesn’t leave a trace. This type of hammer is useful for striking a piece without leaving a mark. I use this hammer for forming finger rings. Just to reiterate, this hammer isn’t used for giving a piece a “hammered” texture. You use it when you’d like to form the metal without marring the surface.
There are other options if you want a non marring hammer however.
The rawhide hammer works just like the nylon hammer, and it has been around a lot longer. Rawhide hammers are still used today, and with good reason. While nylon and rawhide hammers are both non marring, I find myself using the rawhide hammer more often
Third, the 2 pound Brass Hammer
This hammer is the one most likely to be mistaken for a wayward cannonball trying to find its way home. With 2 pounds of brass behind your swing all you have to worry about is hitting the right thing. With great power comes great responsibility, and when you are using this hammer you’re responsible for hitting just the tool you’re using. A hammer this big will not play nicely if it strikes fine jewelry. Use this hammer to strike stamps, chisels, a dapping punch, or other similar tools. This is a dead blow hammer with a decent amount of weight behind it. That means when you’re stamping you only have to hit once, and the hammer doesn’t bounce back. Having to strike multiple times, or bouncing back can cause double stamping, most stampers worst nightmare. That won’t be an issue with this hammer. Do it once and do it well is this hammers motto.