Chasing Tools and Tree Stump

I have another question on the topic of using a tree stump. If you
put soft materials under the tree stump to absorb the vibrations do
you still have the full force of your blow acting on what ever it is
that you are hammering? I am picturing an effect occuring where a
large amount of energy is absorbed at the base/under the tree stump
so then the stump at the top absorbs some of the energy from the
surface that is rested on it… I would expect that any such effect
would be minimal… but I’m just wanting to clarify it.

 I am thinking about ways to minimise the noise of hammering in my

studio - mainly for the sake of my neighbours who are only
separated from me by internal plaster walls.

Someone asked how to keep the noise down when hammering.  One thing
one of the art centers around here does -- and it helps a lot -- is
They've taken old jeans, cut them off below the knees, filled them
with sand.  Then you put your steel block on top of that, and
hammer away. 

Coming from an area of heavy steelworking I grew up around large
steam hammers and drop stamps. Even though these were sometimes huge
with 20 or 30 ton hammers being flung against massive steel anvils
the noise wasn’t excessive due to their traditional method of noise
deadening. Perhaps you could use a similar method . They set the
frame of the hammer over a concrete pit in the floor, filled the pit
with horse manure and set the anvil on the top. The manure was kept
‘fresh’ and damp by the workers urinating on it! I think that
nowadays decorum has legislated that any remaining hammers have
their anvils set on rubber mats but that this is not as good as the
traditional method as the rubber has more resilience making control
of the blow more difficult. There was one steam hammer driver who
used to delight in showing me a ‘party trick’ which was relatively
common among the more expert of these men. He would take a raw egg
from his lunch box (it was quite common for some reason for
steelworkers to like eating raw eggs), set it upright on the anvil
with a little sand around it to hold it in place and then, taking
the 20 ton hammer up to its full height, he would allow the hammer
to fall at full speed stopping it so precisely that it just pinched
the egg between the hammer and the anvil without cracking the shell.

best wishes,

Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK

... If you put soft materials under the tree stump to absorb the
vibrations do you still have the full force of your blow acting on
what ever it is that you are hammering? 

Hello RR,

In a word, no. The more solid the base under the stump the more of
your hammering force goes into the metal. Solidity (more or less)
equals hammering “efficiency” but of course it’s a trade off between
that and shock absorption.

This is where the concrete slab on some soft thing comes into it’s
own. The force of your hammer isn’t enough to move the concrete much
so you get high hammering efficiency. But the concrete sits on spongy
stuff so any force that it does absorb is not transmitted
effectively. It looks like a lot of hassle to set up but it works
like a dream.

That said the old stump on blankets thing works quite well unless
you’re into substantial forging. In my experience it’s perfectly
satisfactory for jewellery level forging and chasing but I wouldn’t
want to use it for hot forging knife blades or the like. When you’re
doing jewellery stuff the stump is proportionally heavy enough that
your little hammer taps aren’t enough to get it moving much hence you
have the perception of (sufficient) solidity.

As ever your mileage may vary.

Trevor F.
in The City of Light

I have been following this a little and I am trying to figure out
why you want or need a tree stump. 

I am wanting to get a tree stump to use for all my hammering
activities. In the past I used to do some cold forging of silver,
copper and brass at uni as well as some raising in the same metals.
I really miss these techniques but could take them up again in a
smaller scale if I could dampen the sound and vibrations enough.

At the moment I have a steel bench block on top of my bench top - it
is not really ideal as my table seems to act like some sort of
amplifying device (it has a steel frame and wooden top). Sometimes
I will be centrepunching fifty times in a row or tapping things flat
against my block - they seem like small scale tasks requiring a
minimum of force but it seems to make an absolute racket.

If I get a tree stump any and all hammering activities will be
performed on the stump instead of on my amplifying jewellers bench.
It will not only provide peace and quiet for my neighbours but also
peace of mind for me.

R.R. Jackson

P.S. In hindsight I can see that I have probably confused the issue
by mentioning the tree stump only in conjunction with chasing… but
I would certainly have more uses for it than that - and it would
perhaps be more important to those uses that to chasing.

One thing I would suggest about this is that you ensure you get a
seasoned piece of tree trunk, that it has all its bark removed to
evict most of the little critters that live in and under it and that
you treat it with a good coat of insect killer/wood preservative.
Timber straight from the tree is likely to start sprouting new
shoots, crack and split all over the place and bring in whole set of
new friends to share your workshop.

Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK

One thing I would suggest about this is that you ensure you get a
seasoned piece of tree trunk ... Timber straight from the tree is
likely to start sprouting new shoots, crack and split all over the
place .... 

Hello Ian,

Of course what you’ve said and suggested is good general advice …
but there are alternatives and they can be quite rewarding.

There was a fairly detailed thread on Orchid some time ago about the
preparation of a freshly cut stump … let me see if I can dig it up
… ah, yes. The thread is

and my long-winded how-to addition to it is

There are other threads on the subject for those who might be

Anyway, the bottom line is you can take a green stump and season it
yourself if you’ve got the time and desire to do it. Time = about a
year, give or take, but you can use it while the process is running
it’s course. And desire = big mess + funny smells en route to a
“tool” that will last a lifetime (and then some) and serve it’s owner
richly and faithfully. I love a good stump, as I’m sure you’ve
guessed by now.

Trevor F.
in The City of Light

Continue from:

I know this is a very late reply to this topic (haven’t been able to
get online) but I thought it might be useful to others…

    I would worry more about how I am going to anneal and pickle
the metal in between the rounds of chasing, which I figure will be
more of a challenge in an apartment. 

When I was studying gold and silversmithing and in 3rd year at uni I
was lucky enough to meet a first year student who had been working as
a trade jeweller and had left to study to be a painter. He was
really interested in the work I was doing and gave me heaps of
advice. I used to do a lot of large pieces and the oxy torch wasn’t
always available so he showed me how to anneal large pieces of metal
with a simple LPG torch (with a large tip).

He took a whole bunch of firebricks and “built” up three walls with a
roof. I would place the metal inside the construction and aim the
flame in from the front. We found it most effective if you build the
structure without much space around the metal and take a soldering
mat and hold it across the opening at the front - to close it off as
much as possible whilst still having the torch in there and still
being able to see.

Using this technique I was able to anneal a lot of items that I just
simply couldn’t do only using the LPG torch on its own.