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If you could have one hammer

…for fold forming and forging tasks, which one would you buy? I’ve
been experimenting with fold forming and forging using cheap
hardware store hammers, but of course the hardware store doesn’t
carry anything shaped quite like like the forging hammers I see in
jewelry supply catalogs.

I know that I could make a hammer from one of the various plastic
materials out there, or reshape a steel hammer, but at this point
I’d rather start with something that’s pretty good, since I have no
experience working with plastics or steel. Sanding/polishing it
smooth is doable for me; reshaping isn’t.

It seems like prices vary a lot on hammers in my tool catalogs, and
I have no idea how much difference there is between a cheap one and
an expensive one. I live near Frei and Borel, so ideally I’ll buy it
there and not pay shipping charges.



I use the standard silversmithing hammer. large rounded rectangle on
one end and small rounded rectangle on the other. It can be purchased
at Rio Grande or All Craft in NY. I have other hammers since I am a
silversmith, but I always use this one for raising and forming. The
weight and balance are correct. It pays to use the proper tools, they
don’t wear out and you develop a love affair with them.

Jennifer Friedman
enamelist, jewelry artisan, ceremonial silver, silversmith

I have many hammers, so I have bought and some that I have made, some
came from strange places, while others came from common places. I
also have many anvils, from a few ounces to 70 kilograms. I have my
own machine shop and my own smithy. If I need a tool to a special job
I can either remake something else or make a new one.


Not the whole world on hammers-- but they try:

These were hand forged hammers – they aren’t being made anymore by


Thanks to everyone who replied (on and off the forum)!

For people who do specifically fold forming techniques - i.e.
hammering to stretch metal either along a fold or opposite a fold -
is a wedge-shaped head best, or a more rounded rectangular head?
I’ve been using something vaguely wedge shaped, which does a good
job of stretching the metal, but I’m not crazy about the sharpness
of the marks it leaves, so I was wondering if I’d be able to get
good results with something a bit rounder. The ball end of my ball
peen (sp?) hammer doesn’t work as well for stretching metal,
although it leaves nice shiny round marks that make an attractive
texture on the sheet.



hi Leah, here are pictures of hammers I like best for fold-forming:


If you could have one hammer... 

it would probably get lost just when you need it the most.


Charles, I have just started to look at your page and stopped on
paper hammers. Most people don’t know about them anymore and I
thought that no one was even making them. Do you have a source?

marilyn smith

        I have just started to look at your page and stopped on
paper hammers. Most people don't know about them anymore and I
thought that no one was even making them. Do you have a source? 

Hi Marilyn,

Some years ago I convinced a Calgary engineer to figure it out (I
had made one with very wide brown paper packing tape, a sponge to
wet the glue and rolled one up myself). His name is Hans Verwies and
he made prototypes for several years which we battle tested on
students, and made various refinements, in size and things like
putting a screw in from the side to lock the handle in place etc.
He makes them in small batches and sells them through Allcraft
supply in New York. No one else has picked them up yet. As you know,
a paper mallet does not harm your metal surface, and saves tons of
times, especially on softer metals. Even a leather hammer leaves
marks in most metals.

Paper mallets were big in the 20’s, and apparently came about when
leather was a restricted material in the first world war and so none
was around for jewelers hammers (they used it for gas masks etc).
Paper was used instead, and then as the pewter working craze
increased right the way through the 50’s they were used for that.
The two guys from Queens who made them disapeared in the 50’s (Tevel
from Allcraft chased this detail down while trying to find out about
them - he once sold an antique one to a woman for $400, and she came
back a week later to thank him saying it had paid for itself that

paper mallets can be had from: (ooh and mention I sent you please)

Allcraft Jewelry Supply Company

 135 West 29th Street
 Suite 402
 New York, New York 10001 
 Telephone 1-800-645-7124 
 Fax 1-800-645-7125 


Hi Marilyn, while I didn’t see any “paper hammers”, there surely is
everything else on this site. I found it most interesting and prices
seem reasonable. Check it out. K

My favorite hammer, by far, is the “embossing hammer” shown on page
79 of the Rio catalog, number 112-408. It has no sharp transitions to
ding the metal; it has a good heft to it. I have a lot of hammers,
but use this one for most things.


I actually own two of them and I am protective of them. You are
right. They don’t mark metal as leather mallets do.


Hi all.

Just went through this thread and there was some fascinating stuff on
paper hammers. It occurs to me that it might also be possible to make
a modern version by using Polymorph, a low temperature thermo setting
plastic which you buy as granules and make malleable with a hair
dryer or some hot water. It cools to a fairly solid, impact resistant
state similar to polythene. If you wrapped it around an existing metal
hammer then it would have a bit more weight behind it as well. I’ve
been planning to try this out when I next make some tools for an
anticlastic raising project.

As you can reshape the polymorph over and over again by getting it
hot, reforming or tidying up your hammer heads would be dead easy.
Also an extremely handy product to have lying around the work shop as
it makes excellent graver and file handles and can be used to anchor
and support delicate things while cold working.

Chris Penner