balancing a hammer??

Gday all, After making a hammer a while ago and modifying one recently, I got to thinking what makes one hammer feel good, balanced, while another
similar hammer just feels wrong, or not as good? So what is it? Is it the proportion of the head that is either side of the handle eye? Length of handle?
So lets have some thoughts folks.
Regards Rusty_iron
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Rusty_iron wrote:

length of handle, definitely. I don't think the head shape makes that much difference TBH, as long as the handle is the correct length (which tends to be slightly longer for off-centre heads)
I do find using the light side of an off-centre head a little awkward tho, but only because I'm using to using a heavy-side or balanced hammer.
--
BigEgg
Hack to size. Hammer to fit. Weld to join. Grind to shape. Paint to cover.
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bigegg wrote:

Except for the Japanese hammers with most of the weight being at the front, never used one myself, but others report they take a bit of getting used to.
Regards Charles
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bigegg wrote:

It's a lever problem. That makes the ratio of head weight to handle length to forearm length a subject of consideration. Ideally, a hammer should be tailored to the arm that swings it, just like a sword. Lately, hammer manufacturers have begun to curve the handles to take advantage of the 'ergonomics' of the human wrist. Think about a hatchet handle; it's curved in the grip. Look at some of the newer framing hammers; curved grips. You might try probing Stanley's website for specs.
Charly
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Charly the Bastard wrote:

Hi Charly,
I was thinking about this the other day, if you hand is closer to the head you have more control, a the expense of velocity i.e. the end of a long stick moves faster than the end of a short stick moving at the same rotational velocity.
It's a matter of finding the balance point that suits you, and can be done by selecting the "right" hammer or making a custom fitting.
Swords in history generally weren't tailored to the individual, they were just made and sold. Swords of the Viking ages were especially subject to this "mass" production. The common length of a swords grip from this time was 8 - 9 cm. "But Vikings had smaller hands" is the statement I usually get, this is an assumption based on the small size of some archaeological finds. Fact is the people from this time were pretty much our size, and this is based on skeletal remains. I have no idea why the grips were made this small, but have to assume that the wielder would have had to get used to the sword (which was a luxury item).
I've seen hammers with extreme bends in them, I haven't used them myself and am a little wary... anyone used one?
Regards Charles
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Chilla wrote:

Yes and they are akward if you learned to use a hammer right. Most folks just swing it with no regard to anything other than trying to hit the target. A proper swing starts with the shoulder. If you just start swinging most tend to start with the elbow. That is weak, diffuclt to control and causes joint problems. A hatchet is a different beast and has a different swing and requires a different handle. The "egronomics" is a way to compensate for someone not wanting to learn correct procedure or not using the tool often enough to get use to using it right.
What makes a balances hammer depends on head weight, distributation of head weight, handle lenght, the hand and arm of the swinger and finally the shape of the handle where held.
ron
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Chilla wrote:

I did say 'ideally'... I tailored my swords to the weilder whenever possible. Measure the hand, the arm, the length of the fingers. This will give you the spec for a one-hander. For a bastard sword (yeah, I know, all my swords are Bastard Swords...) you extend the arm length measurement to the center of the chest. For a greatsword, you measure from the ground to the sternum for the blade and to the nose for the grip. Balance a one-hand 1/7th of the distance from the guard to the tip. For a thirty inch blade, this works out to a shade over four inches forward of the guard.. You'd be surprized at just how alive it feels in your hand when you get it moving.
Charly
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Charly the Bastard wrote:

Hi Charly,
You know I like to qualify things ;-)
It's a beautiful thing when a sword is born.
I like the whistle you get as you cut though the air :-)
I like to make the occasional heavy blade, I make sure I have a matching pommel :-)
Regards Charles
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A long time ago I heard a rule of thumb for hammer handle length. Grip the head in your hand then measure to the end of you elbow. It's a good starting place to dial in minimum effort for maximum work. I know there is the Uri Hofi school of thought that espouses heavy heads with short handles but it never worked for me. This puts all the stress and effort of swinging the hammer in your forearm and my arms are not proportioned like a gorillas. Plus those guys always seem to work hunched over the anvil with their faces inches from the work piece...... not for me boys! With a longer handle and lighter head I can stand up straight, swing from over my head with complete control and put my entire body into the effort. Feels good, no back ache, more like playing tennis and no scale burns on my face.
But this only indirectly relates to "balance" and balance is probably not the right word to use in regard to a comfortable hammer. A hammer is not a sword! To achieve that sort of balance you would need a counterweight on the opposite end of the handle. Not too practical I think? The "eye" is the source of a comfortable and efficient hammer. It needs to be carefully centered (in all planes) within the hammers central mass. If one end is heavier than the other it will always tend to wobble when the heavy end is up, facing you. Where the handle passes through the eye it is vital the head and handle are at 90? to one another. Double face hammers that have cocked handles will always favor one end and you will definitely feel this. Plus this cocked position will constantly cause the head to come loose due to shock stresses. Hammers that have long bodies (end to end), like for raising or body work can have faces that are slightly pitched down and in fact work much better this way but still you need the handle vertical to the central mass. There are other issues as well. A stubby hammer (very short end to end) is difficult to use because the face is so out of whack with the arc of your swing. I have a "rounding hammer" like this that is just impossible for me to use (pretty though). Finally: flat face vs.crowned face. A softly crowned face is more forgiving than a perfectly flat faced forging hammer. A very close "approximation" of a smooth flat surface is achieveable by even a newbie with a slightly crowned face. A hammer face dressed dead flat is a nightmare of chinks and divots for someone not used to it. BUT, if you practice, practice you will gain control and be able to forge surfaces that look like you used a "flatter" on them. It is a skill that takes time to develope but one that pays off if you make a lot of tools or knives and such.
Offset Japanese hammers evolved that way because Japanese smiths use their anvils at ground level. Which greatly improves the angle of attack for those striking. I have a set of U.S. made "saw tuners" hammers which are almost identical in shape. These however were used for tapping on circular sawmill blades, not hot forging. They do take getting used to and honestly I see no advantage for forge work done at a knuckle height anvil. They do look cool though. As for so called ergonomic curved handles I say bullocks. Think marketing B.S.here. Save the curved handles for scythes and adz's. Instead put more effort into shaping a straight handle to fit your grip. Play with the proportions of the handle taper to get a bit of springiness without sacrificing strength. I am no Luddite but there are good reasons why some basic designs and proportions have and should remain unchanged for millienia.
Strike while it's hot, Glen G. in Pgh, Go Steelers
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Rusty_iron wrote:

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GSG wrote:

For me, a handle's length is not as important as its shape. I skive my hammer handles down until they are slab sided and about half the width of a stock handle, then sand them down until they're as smooth as a baby's butt. I think it's worth the effort because it makes for better hammer control, more accuracy, and less fatigue.
--
Tom Stovall, CJF
Farrier-Artist-Blacksmith
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Hey Tom,
I've always wondered how people do this comparison ;-)
Charles Dip. ASS-U
Tom Stovall wrote:

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Well.......first off ya' gotta aquire a baby. Makin' your own is quite a bit of fun. Whole lot more fun than raisin' the critters is. After ya' get a baby lay it on your anvil butt up (no diaper), get your hammer handle and start comparin'. Prett' simple really.
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Hi Glen,
I have large feet, so therefore my forearms reflect this, i.e. the length of your forearm is the same length as your foot.
In my case this would make an extremely long handle. I will have to turn a handle as there is nothing close on the market here in Oz.
Gorilla arms run in my family :-)
But I will give it a go.
Regards Charles P.S. It's not bullocks it's bollocks ;-)
GSG wrote:

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Hey Charles, You know, I had it spelled correctly then changed it. Just an ignorant Yank here! Actually I cut my handles to measure from wrist to elbow. I make a lot of my own handles. Years ago i cut down an Ash tree and sectioned some chunks to handle length. Now I just split off "blanks" as needed and shape them with a draw knife and hand tools. A sort of slab sided oval cross section works for me. I like to use a cabinet scraper for final shaping and smoothing. Then I run a "fine"wood rasp over the grip area for a bit of extra traction. I follow the rasp with enough smoothing to take off the nubs and splintery bits and I'm done save for some wood oil.

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Howdy,
I read a book the other day about off set turning, can get a nice ovoid from a wood lathe, can get some really different shaped and makes a change from perfectly round... guess I'll have to make my handles too :-)
Regards Charles
GSG wrote:

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Chilla wrote:

I am a voracious collector of old tools (I only really got into blacksmithing to repair them, and know how they were made in the first place), and usually have to replace the handles.
I have a stand of ash trees at the back of my yard, which I have coppiced over the last 15 years or so - this gives me a renewable source of blanks.
I start by band-sawing my blank roughly to shape, then use a surform (like a rasp with a disposable, replaceable blade), and an abrasive disk on my electric drill to make mine.
Start by fitting the end to the hammer eye, then the opposite end to your hand, then the bit in between.
You need to narrow the neck of the hammer compared to the grip to make it "spring" a little - I tend to copy shape and length of a comfortable hammer I already have.
I can make a handle in perhaps half an hour
--
BigEgg

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You sound like a talented individual (like a lot of the people on the list), do you have any pictures?
Regards Charles
bigegg wrote:

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Chilla wrote:

Coming soon to the website
soon as a get a Round Tuit.
--
BigEgg

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bigegg wrote:

Round tuits for sale or lease, several sizes and materials available. Make great gifts for friends and family. Digital tuits in development right now, get on the pre-order list today.
Charly
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Charly the Bastard wrote:

Thanks, but the shipping would be horrendous.
(obBlacksmithing) I'm gonna forge one
--
BigEgg

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