What is a forge hammer?

A forge hammer is a tool used by a blacksmith.

A forging hammer is almost any type of hammer used in shaping metal during the forging process. A forge hammer can be powered by humans or steam and works with both cold and hot forging. Often a forge hammer is combined with an anvil, but sometimes double hammers are used.

Originally, the hammer used in a forge was wielded by a blacksmith. Using this tool and the muscular strength of his arm, he would shape the metal into household items, tools, and ornaments. A forge hammer can vary in weight and be lighter for detailed work.

A forge hammer is often used with an anvil.

While this type of forge hammer is not obsolete, the scale of items made was limited to what could be made by one man or a group of men. As the Industrial Revolution progressed and machines grew in scale, so did the scale of the different types of hammers used to create ship anchors and parts for steam engines.

In 1837, recessed hammers, which weighed hundreds of pounds and were driven by their own weight, were used to shape ship parts. Problems arose when an English forge was working to create the oar shaft for the SS Great Britain, then the largest ship ever built. The piece was so large that few forges were equipped to handle it. The force of a blow made by a hammer, which was propelled by gravity, never varied and was not up to the task.

Anvils have been used to work metals for centuries.

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In response to this challenge, English engineer James Naysmith developed the steam hammer. This type of forge hammer consisted of a piston inside a cylinder. Depending on the steam pressure, the operator can drop the hammer with a strong blow or light enough to crush an egg into a wine glass without damaging it.

Whether powered by muscle, gravity or steam, all these types of forge hammers required an anvil to place the metal. An anvil absorbs the excessive shock of a hammer blow. Hammers, steam hammers and other types of hammers, therefore, must be constructed in an upright position.

A kickback hammer is a type of forge hammer in which the hammer and anvil are directed towards each other. It consists of two hammers working together. Instead of wasting excess energy such as heat, sound or vibrations on the anvil, the excess energy is used to recoil the hammer. This type of design allows for faster forging time in a smaller area, as well as applying large amounts of force to the metal. Like other forging hammers, a kickback hammer can be powered by air or steam.

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