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Polishing hammers


So as I try to improve my work I am looking at my tools and I realize
all of my hammers and some of my steel blocks etc are looking a bit
rough. Few dings and I tried just banging away on some annealed
copper and I realized afew are starting to add texture I do not want
to my work. What is the best way to resurface/polish my hammers and

Eric Manchester


Regrind, and re-polish the face of your hammers. That’s all there is
to it, I use a belt, and polishing mops to get mirror finishes on my
hammers. CIA


how you go about it depends on the extent of your polishing setup.
However you need to start bith the removal of metal till youve got
rid of the deepest corrosion or other surface problems.

Use silicon carbide water proof paper on some wood starting with sat
240 grit then finishing up with 600. then use your polishing
compounds on a hard felt wheel. Keep experimenting till you get the
mirror surface you might want. Easy,really. just common sense.


Eric- As a former liturgical silversmith I have spent countless
hours polishing hammers and stakes. When I do my final plannishing my
hammers and stakes have to be perfect. Mirror polished. Not even an
eyelash can get between the hammer and the metal.

I use wet/dry emery down to the finest grit. Then I polish first
with bobbing compound, then grey star, then white platinum rouge or

There is no shortcut other than have an apprentice do it for you.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer


Depends on the severity of the dings. For relatively minor ones, I
use several grits of sandpaper, moving from coarse to fine until the
dings and scratches are almost gone. Then, after cleaning all the
grit away, I polish with greystar on my buffing motor.

For more severe damage, I’ll first try resurfacing with a bastard
file. If that isn’t working, I’ll go to my belt sander, being careful
to not alter the shape of the surface too much. Then, proceed as

Most important for hammers, don’t let them get too hot or they’ll
lose their tempering. I keep a small bowl of water nearby for
quenching when they get warm.

Good luck.
Emie Stewart


Eric and all!!!

I just came back from a teaching program in Jamaica. We had the very
same situation, poorly finished hammer faces! My immediate suggestion
is to sand the hammer-face with a paper sanding disk of a "medium"
grade…then using an emery paper of #220 grit, till the finish is
moderately clean. Then #320 grit,by this time you should see some
improvement…then use #440 grit, (it should be looking almost smooth)
The very final paper is a #2,000 grit. This time, the steel hammer
will look as smooth as a mirror. As an added process, I rub a section
of the #2,000 grit with a pencil, It will have an ability of #3,000
grit…At this time, you can actually see your face on the steel

Hope this works!!!*…Gerry!


I use a belt sander, then a sandpaper flapper, then bobbing
compound, then pumpkin polish, then green rouge. It’s a PIA but
prevention is the key: Don’t drive nails with your hammers.

Depends on the severity of the dings. 

Didn’t think of major dings, but if they do happen, depending on
where the ding is can either mean :-

  • Reshape the hammer face to remove the ding (you can never have too
    many hammers imo).

  • Buy a new hammer

  • Make a new hammer

Regards Charles A.


Hi Gang,

I’ve always been a fan of “stainless” buffing compound. It’ll take
steel from worn 220 grit to a mirror in seconds, when applied on a
treated (sewn) 6" muslin buff. (@3450 rpm) Doesn’t work on
non-ferris metals, unfortunately, but it’s amazing on steel. I get
mine from Allcraft.

You still have to get the underlying shape right, but it makes the
buffing a lot easier.




this is wonderful to know from you about cleaning the face of hammer.
in fact some times it feels lazy to clear hammer face but generally
emery stone, the softer (finer side ) is okay to finish. A mirror
finished face of hammer has the chance of slipping from the target.


A mirror finished face of hammer has the chance of slipping from
the target. 

Maybe, but I’ve never found this to be the case. By the time you’re
considering that a mirror polished hammer face is a good thing,
you’ve pretty much got hammer control down pat. CIA


I keep a claw hammer on the bench as a preventative measure - if it
isn’t for fine metalworking purposes, the claw hammer is what gets
used. The other big preventative measure is learning to hit straight

  • your hammer and stakes will be damaged less often that way. But
    otherwise, grind and polish, as everyone says - I probably don’t do
    it as often as I ought to, but it’s always rewarding to go through
    alll the hammers and polish them.

Jamie Hall


We’ve got lots of different kinds of hammers and mallets in our
studio. The ones that strike the metal directly, like forming or
planishing hammers, get polished, but the ones that are used to
strike tools like chasing or repousse punches, we just leave the
faces the way they are. If I insisted that all the hammers in my
studio were to be polished, we would be too busy polishing steel
hammer faces to do anything else.

I’m also a huge fan of rawhide, compressed paper, or weighted rawhide
mallets. If you need to flatten or form metal without leaving marks,
or drive a large dapping punch, a heavy rawhide mallet is the way to

Jay Whaley


Who said about mirror finished hammers slipping off? That sounds
like paranoia! I’ve never had that experience. The only problems I’ve
had are when ingots are not properly seated, and the ingot flies
across the room. Nothing to do with the hammer.

Jamie Hall


Jay and all!

The hammers I clean by polishing, are used ‘only’ in precious stone
setting. I don’t say that all hammers should be kept in pristine
condition. You must make that decision yourselves. But it helps to
maintain a favourable condition of those hammer faces!



Speaking of hammers, I stopped by my local service station where a
Snap-On truck was parked outside and bought a dead-drop ball-peen
hammer and polished the faces.

It’s got a day-glo orange plastic handle and works like a charm.
It’s my favorite hammer.

The only problems I've had are when ingots are not properly
seated, and the ingot flies across the room. Nothing to do with the

Sounds like I’d need a bullet proof vest if I came to visit :smiley: CIA


Had a good laugh at your story -

The only problems I’ve had are when ingots are not properly
seated, and the ingot flies across the room. Nothing to do with the

Sounds like I'd need a bullet proof vest if I came to visit

I have a heavy hand when it comes to forging, esp hot forging,
simply because I’m trained to be forceful in moving thick stock, and
I remember forging some aluminum stock at Penland School of Craft,
and all of my classmates were giving me a wide berth. I had the
floor shaking at the force of my pounding, but got some very nice
alumunim butter knife blades.

I forget how powerful I am when I hot-forge and I leave my male
students in awe, and I’m just your average woman.