Wednesday, 5 November 2014

How to Make Your Own Texture Hammers

I'm teaching a beginners metal class at our local bead society. They don't have any materials at all. I needed at least 10 textured hammers. Anyone that has priced these types of hammers knows that they can range from $30 for a low end hammer to $70 for a Fretz. (the Cadillac of hammers in my books) I couldn't afford nor justify the cost of that many hammers. 
My Mom used to always say, "Necessity is the mother of invention and my wonderful sister added to that recently with, "You are the Daughter." I loved that!
So I did the only thing I could think of. I shopped around and
 bought a bunch of inexpensive hammers. I found some 8 oz.ones on sale at Canadian Tire  and 10 oz. ones at Home Depot. I bought both. 

Try as I might I couldn't find any ball peen hammers anywhere that would be light enough for what I wanted. They would have been my first choice.
These are the hammers I bought.

I received quite a few requests for a tutorial and orders so I"ll share with you the tools I used and some of the process. Please understand that I am not an expert . There are quite possibly better ways to accomplish this. I don't have the benefit of experience or formal training. This isn't so much a tutorial as a walk-through of what I did.
 I muddled my way through and found what worked best for me. My hope is to provide a bit of guidance and perhaps encouragement for others to do the same. One thing I love about working with metals is the process and finding out what happens when I...
I'm a firm believer that there is always more than one way to get a job done. I am often confined by limited knowledge or skills and a lack of proper tools but I am armed with determination and of course my trusty Dremel and flexshaft attachment. 

Tools & Materials Required:
  • Dremel or Flex shaft 
  • Vise
  • Fine tip Sharpie
  • Cut off wheels 
  • Various grinding stones or sandpaper
  • Diamond ball bit
  • Diamond wheel point, knife edge bit
  • Polishing bits 
To be honest I made do with what I had and hoped for the best. 
Please remember to always use safety glasses and a mask when working.

First I decided what pattern to apply and marked the hammer with a Fine tip Sharpie.
Put the hammer into the vise. The pattern you choose will help you decide which grinding wheel or bit will suit your needs. For the smaller lines/stars I used the thinnest wheel I had. Be warned these things snap very easily. It seems if you look at them the wrong way they fly apart.

Notice the sharp edge. That will need to come off. 

Close up of the cut off wheels used for the pattern above

This bit also makes nice tiny lines 

Be careful that your cutting and grinding doesn't wear down one side of the face more than the other.  Once I finished the pattern and was happy with it. I used a grindstone to take off the sharp edges all around the face and top to remove any burs.  I used varying degrees of stone from coarse to fine. This could  be done with sandpaper too.
(I mostly applied what I know about metal work and jewelry to accomplish my goal.)  For the dimpled hammer, I used a diamond round ball bit. I placed the dimples randomly. To make the larger dimples I rotated the bit in every direction, slowly enlarging it. For the smaller dimples I kept it straight up with very little play. 

This is an opportunity to play and see what gives you the look you want. I discovered if I didn't like something I could grind it out and start over.
I used these for shaping and for grinding away the sharp edges in progressively finer gritsAny scratches or marks left on the hammer face will transfer to the metal you're texturing. The more you polish your hammer, the more it will burnish your piece as you work.

Once I was satisfied with the overall look and had sanded out the burs and scratches I moved onto the polishing. 
I used the rubber polishing bit then the nylon bristle brush to clean up the grooves. They were what I had on hand.  In the future I would use the 3M Radial Bristle Brushes in varying grits. I've heard great things about them.
Rubber Polishing Bit
Nylon Bristle Brush

 From the very beginning I was too intimidated to try to cut off the claws. I thought I didn't have the proper tools to do it. I asked my husband,  but he didn't think he had anything either.  It was nagging at  me all the way through, that I only had the one side of the hammer to work with.
It was only when I was finishing my 12th hammer that I decided to bite the bullet and see what would happen if I tried to cut the claw off.   So I took out the heaviest cutting disk I had and my last hammer.  It went through those claws within minutes.  It was awesome! I was thrilled with the results and pulled all the other hammers back out to finish it up right. :)
Be warned though; sparks will fly like a Canada day sparkler!  The sparks didn't burn and once I got past my initial trepidation it was lots of fun.
Fiberglass Reinforced cut off  disk 
or as I called it, "Big Daddy" 

A short video demonstrating how the sparks can fly, so you know what to expect. ( not on the technique itself)

 This was a great fun project and for the price of one mid-range hammer I now have 13 new hammers to add to my repertoire. They're not Fretz but they'll do me just fine. I encourage anyone that works with metals to try it. You'll be glad you did.  


List of materials :
(with links)
Diamond bits
Fiberglass Reinforced Cut off Wheels 
Carborundum Cutting Wheels
Rubber Polishing Bits

Quite a few people have commented on their confusion about what the different bits are used for. I found lots of good info here
All Things Dremel (Lots of info regarding the various bits and accessories)

If you prefer to order your hammer instead of making it, please leave me a message. Thank you!