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Hammered finish on bangle bracelet

I am making a bangle bracelet on which I want to put a planished or
hammered finish. The problem is that I do not want the bracelet to
increase in diameter at all. I find when I am planishing, there is a
tiny increase in size. Am I doing something wrong? I once read that
it is possible to achieve a finish that looks like hammering using a
ball bur. Does anyone have advice about that? If so, what size ball
bur is recommended?

Carol McKay

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We put on a “hammered” finish with ball burrs using a burr somewhere
in the 10-14mm range. Larger diameter for shallower “hammer” marks.
You have to go back with a rubber wheel and hard polishing felt for
the finish out so it is quite time consuming but you can put on a
much more defined finish without having to worry about increasing
the dimensions of you piece. One thing to keep in mind is that you
do need to have sufficient metal thickness to allow for the material
that will be removed by the burr. Also try to keep the pattern
random, different size “hammer” marks and not in nice even rows.
Hope this helps, Tim

I always start with a thicker than I want the result to be gauge
strip of metal, and using a solid (large enough) anvil just planish
away- you’ll develop a rhythm that gives you the finish you are
looking for when it gets wider than you like turn it on its side and
using quick even blows reshape it, then flip to the other side and
reshape that (it will thicken back up if annealed prior to
reshaping).You know, it’s hard to describe the technique in words.
its a fast process and I find, very intuitive. anyway, once it is as
thick as you need you can always grind/polish the edges if you don’t
want the hammered finish there .Occasionally you will get a groove
along the sides of the strip from compressing the metal on the
virtual top and bottom (where the hammered finish is) - you can
always inlay a wire of gold or contrasting metal which is easy in
this stage or just grind it out an finish as your design dictates. I
use a ball peen hammer for the process I like at least a 2 1/2 pound
hammer for this, the heavier the deeper the finish.

As for the ball bur- “what a waste of time” is my reaction. First
there’s a lot of waste in the form of dust, and it just doesn’t look
like a hand hammered finish! Sure you can make a jig to keep each
depression at the same depth-or close- but it looks like a bunch of
semi-spherical depressions in the end and still you have to go back
and planish a bit to soften the strip to resemble a hand hammered

For me, planishing a bangle/strip of sizing stock is a fairly fast
process so I guess I can’t relate to using a bur ! If you like you
can practise on something similar in hardness like a bronze or brass
blank- it’s cheaper for experimentation but is not the same hardness
and won’t react the same as the silver you use or a gold (unless you
do your homework and find a metal that is) but it will help you work
more efficiently and get the reult you are after before using a
precious metal .Knowing how to planish to get the effect you want and
to lace the strokes where you want them is a great skill to develop
and master ! I started out at about 9 years old hammering copper wire
against the concrete on our driveway to get unique textures way
before I knew I wanted to be a goldsmith! But that practice gave me a
lot of knowledge about what happens to wire when you hit it x way,
how it curved when I hit it in x place or at x angle, and how much I
could bang on it until it broke! So I hope this helped, and if not
look at some videos which are abundant on sites like you tube, etc.
if you are a visual learner. Also choose the right weight hammer-
forget the ball bur idea! Best Regards… rer

Hi Carol,

No, you’re not doing anything wrong if your banglegets a little
larger when you hammer it to get hammered finish. Every blowexpands
the metal a bit. either allow for the expansion when you cut the
stock or hammer the finish before you cut the length you want. As
for the size of ball bur, use whatever size makes the texture you
find most pleasing to you. There is no right or wrong way.

Jerry in Kodiak

Carol-I Love a hammered finish. Yes you can put a finish on that
looks a bit like a hammered surface with a ball burr or rubber wheel.
Personally I don’t care for it. It looks cheesy to me and it wastes
metal that is ground away. It takes forever to do compared to

Just make the bracelets too small and planish them up to size.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

Tim is right. You can also just use course blue wheels or other
wheels that will remove material fast. Skip the ball buyer thing.
That is a pain

A hammered finish is a nice and fairly easy finish to do. Following
are some suggestions. Make sure that your hammer and anvil are both
polished as whatever is on them will be transfered to the metal. I
always polish the surface of the piece of jewelry to be hammered
first. That way I know that all the fire scale is removed and I am
not pounding something into the surface that I should have removed.
Try hammering with a well polished and rounded chisel head of a
forging hammer. Account for the change in size, thickness and width.
If you have to anneal after you are done, use something to avoid
firescale. Thanks. Rob

Rob Meixner

If you are trying to keep the size right on and you don’t want to
mess withit after you have formed the bangle, may I suggest a way I
usually employ in circumstances when I dont know if I will be able
to size it again. Get your flat sheet or stock, and hammer planish
it flat, as good a finnish as you can, cut it to the lenght you need
and form it, the forming must be done with soft faced nylon mallet
and /or the metal needs to have a 4-5 layers of masking tape on the
planished surface, so as to not mar the texture. Grant you will nick
or mar a little, but all things that you can repair retexture that
minor spot with the bur or rubber wheel technique.

The old traditional way would be to do samples, figure out what
thickness metal you start with? How many rows of hammer blows will
it take you to go from a 4.5 inch to a 6 inch strip? And how many
reps around you need to go to get bracelet to size on the mandrel?
So you you start with 16g metal strip say 4.5 inches you bring the
ends together and solder, slip it on the mandrel and start
plamishing till its of the size and thiness you want. Each shop
would have its own formula of size thickness and heft of hammer. If
you were doing a few of them I would say its worth the investigation
in traditional way, but if you’re making one or two and need to get
it done, I would texture with a hammer first, then cut to length and
solder. Good luck to you H.

I used to make hundreds of hammered bangles using ball peen hammers.
I would cut the blank smaller and by the time I was finished it was
the right size. I had different lengths for different sizes.
Depending on the thickness of your metal cut your blank 1/8" smaller.
Over time you figure out the right lengths for the different
thicknesses of metal. Vince LaRochelle

Thanks for all the good input

Thank you all for your thoughtful answers to my questions about
putting a hammered finish on the bangle bracelet. As it is forged in
a fairly architectural shape, it will not work for me to hammer it
before I join it into a ring. However, I may just have to make this a
practice piece for myself and cut the next a little shorter. I had
done it in copper and it was too small so I lengthened it a bit. I
will just have to stop forging in time to allow for the planishing.

Carol McKay

Am I mistaken, or is “planishing” flattening the metal smooth. What
we are talking about here is a hammered finish, correct? Like “ball

Hi Kevin,

Am I mistaken, or is "planishing" flattening the metal smooth.
What we are talking about here is a hammered finish, correct? Like
"ball peen". 

Planishing can cause several different finishes, depending on how
up-tight you get about it.

In the generic sense, planishing does mean to flatten the metal, and
where you go from there depends a lot on the shape of the piece, and
what hammers you have.

“Normal” planishing hammers do have one very slightly domed face, so
technically, they are (very, very large radius) ball peens.

So step one planishing does leave a faintly ‘hammered’ texture. And
that’s as far as you can go on a flat thing.

Normal planishing hammers also have a flat (or very, very faintly
concave) face. On convex forms, like a goblet, you can use the
flat/concave face to knock the facets off in-between the divots from
step-1 planishing. If you get really uptight, you can go back and
shoot for the ridges in-between those hammer marks, until you get
an effectively smooth surface.

Any hammer can be a planishing hammer, if it’s the right curve to
fit the form, and it’s larger in radius than whatever formed the
thing in the first place. The ultimate goal is to generate
progressively wider and shallower hammer marks, to the point where
either you like the surface, or they’re easy to file level.
Planishing hammers should be very highly polished, just because
every mark on the hammer will get repeated onto the piece, every
time you strike it. Which means that it’s far simpler to polish it
out of the hammer, once, than polish it out of the piece thousands
of times.

My good planishing hammers are very highly polished, and are
covered with old socks when I’m not using them. Even on the rack.


PS"> I do use a version of that 'ball burr hammered’texture (with
smaller burrs) on the backs of my production masters. It makes it
really easy to clean off/hide sprue marks, or anything else that
goes wrong. Flex-shaft textures hide a great many sins, when applied

I get pretty nice results with a shaped, hard Cratex rubber wheel.

Manipulating the wheel as I apply pressure.

I also use burs and rubber wheels to carve very deep “cross peen
forging marks” in to heavy, 2mm thick bands.

Like the pair here:

Note From Ganoksin Staff:
Looking for a hammer for your jewelry projects? We recommend: