A discarded sledge hammer head finds new purpose as a specialized bladesmithing hammer for heavy hand forging.
A Japanese style smithing hammer is a specialized tool for forging thin, flat surfaces such as blades and saws. It has an off-centre weight distribution below the handle and is mainly used on one face (the back is soft and best used for striking hardened tools to save the face). I was in need of a hammer that weighed in between the 8 lb. sledge and the 4 lb. that I use for most of my work and I wanted to use this style of hammer for the rough forging stages of knifesmithing as well.
This tool was made in short order by slicing the top off of a standard 8 lb. sledge hammer and grinding the corners into shape. Because all of the work near or on the face was done cold, the hammer did not need to be retempered. A major difference which makes this like a western cutler’s hammer is the shape and angle of the eye. Japanese hammers have non-tapered rectangular eyes which make handles secure and wedge-free, and the handle usually angles downwards rather than being 90 degrees in relation to the face. The temporary handle was entirely hand hewn and shaped from a piece of alder driftwood and wedged in with a piece of yellow cedar. A hand-hewn ash handle replaced it later.
The weight is about 6 lbs., head is 4″ long and 2″ across and the overall length is about 16″.
Material: Reclaimed sledge hammer head, alder driftwood, yellow cedar scrap
This tool is currently in my collection, hard at work.