But now comes confession time: I haven't used them all that much.
I know. I fondle them a lot, and I leave them out on my bench so I can visit with them, but I used the planishing hammer for a substantial project and it's sweet little face got a bit marred up. So I set out to find some good information about how to care for my new tools. Here's what I've found so far:
- Not a lot.
Do a Google search for "dressing hammers" and what you get is page after page of people posting in various forums - mostly blacksmith and ironwork - about needing to dress their hammers and looking for good instructions. So I am on a quest for information about tool care - and not just hammers, but everything on my bench.
For starters, here's a video about hammer dressing from a guy named Modern Blacksmith on YouTube that will give you an introduction to the basic idea behind hammer dressing. (Skip ahead to about the 4:15 mark if you don't want to hear about the project he's working on and the history of the hammer he's dressing.)
A while back, we did a little rudimentary hammer dressing with a rotary tool at Wired Designs - see the sparks?
Our goal was to clean up the riveting edges on our classroom hammers, which had been somewhat abused over the last year. As you can see, we were using a small rotary tool instead of a flex-shaft - and while it worked really well and got the job done, it wasn't more than just basic maintenance.
So I've got two mid-sized riveting hammers I'm going to try to dress, plus my poor little marked-up Fretz, and I'll report back to you in my next post with the good, the bad, and the ugly. A few words of caution if you're going to try this too:
- Eye protection is a MUST. Don't even think about working without it.
- Make sure any grinders, wheels, or flex-shaft or rotary tool components you use on your steel tools are kept strictly separate from anything you might use on your copper, brass and silver jewelry materials to avoid cross contamination. If possible, use a completely separate work area - but at a minimum, plan on doing a thorough cleaning afterwards.
- The video shows the use of a single grit grinder. From my reading, we'll need to plan on doing a lot of hand-work after the grinding in order to get mirror-polished hammers suitable for jewelry work - from 400 grit all the way to 1000 grit or higher.
Keep your fingers crossed!
Until next time -