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Jewelry Tools 101: Ultimate Guide to Jewelry Hammers

jewelry tools hammers

I was reading instructions for a metalsmithing project the other day and saw a tool I’d never heard of: a spiculum forming hammer. I immediately thought of my friend and master jeweler Lexi Erickson’s wall of hammers that I saw in her studio. She has literally dozens of jewelry hammers on that wall, surrounded by all sorts of basic and specialty jewelry tools—but she loves those hammers!

So back to the spiculum forming hammer. I looked for it in our jewelry-making tool eBook and found more kinds of hammers than I ever imagined. Naturally, I had to share.

Learn everything about the different types of jewelry hammers and tools that you can use in your jewelry-making projects.

The Illustrated Guide to Jewelry-Making Tools: Jewelry Hammers

By Sharon Elaine Thompson

Hammers are the most basic of the metalsmith’s tools. Without a jeweler’s hammer, you are not a smith. Most hammers have two faces that are differently sized or shaped; mallets have identical faces. Most hammers have straight shafts; the exception is the chasing hammer. Most hammers can be used for several functions; some are specialized. The fundamental differences are this: there are hammers for striking metal and hammers for striking tools. A brief description of their uses follows. (Note: Peen refers to the business face of the hammer. A ball-peen is a ball-shaped face; a cross-peen is one that is at right angles to the handle.)

nylon raising hammer jewelry hammers
narrow raising hammer fretz hammers
Raising hammers.

Raising hammer: two rectangular, blunt, or wedge-shaped cross-peen faces, used to “raise” the metal from flat sheet to dimensional form by striking the outside of the form.

Rawhide mallet jewelry hammer.
Rawhide mallet.
Nylon mallet.
Nylon mallet.

Mallet: identical faces and can be made of plastic, rawhide, or metal.

Goldsmith's hammer.
Goldsmith’s hammer.

Goldsmith’s hammer: one flat and one cross-peen head for riveting and other work.

Spiculum forming hammer.
Spiculum Hammer

Forming hammer: a heavy hammer with flat or domed faces, used to move metal.

Forming planishing hammers.
Forming & planishing hammers.

Planishing hammer: flat or convex faces, to smooth metal that has been worked by other hammers or to harden metal.

Ball-peen hammer.
Ball-peen hammer.

Ball-peen hammer: an all-purpose hammer with one round and one half-domed face, for flattening and shaping metal, removing dents; can be used to drive chisels, punches, stamps.

Flat faced chasing hammer.
Flat-faced chasing hammer.
curved face chasing hammer.
Curved-face chasing hammer.

Chasing hammer: one flat face for striking other tools (such as stamps) or planishing metal; one round face for forming and riveting; handle has a bulbous end and a narrow neck for more bounce back and less strain on the wrist.

Riveting hammer.
Riveting hammer.

Riveting hammer: one round and one chisel-shaped face, for riveting, tacking, and lightweight forming.

Embossing hammer.
Large embossing hammer.
Jeweler's embossing hammer.
Jeweler’s embossing hammer.

Embossing hammer: two rounded, differently sized faces, for a variety of metalwork.

Texturing hammer.
Texturing hammer.

Texturing hammer: machined or patterned faces, for striking texture directly onto metalwork.

All About Jewelry Tools

To learn more about all kinds of jewelry tools (jewelry hammers included) and how to use each one, turn to the pros with Helen Driggs’ collected tool articles in her Cool Tools eBooks.

What’s your favorite jewelry-making tool? Are you in love with one of your hammers? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Much gentler than a rawhide mallet, one of Lexi's current favorite jewelry hammers is a paper mallet.
Much gentler than a rawhide mallet, Lexi’s current favorite hammer is a paper mallet. “Choosing a favorite hammer is like choosing a favorite child,” she says. “Today this one’s my favorite, but tomorrow it will be another.”

P.S. So what about that spiculum forming hammer? It’s a very specialized tool used by jewelers to create spiculums . . . and a spiculum is a long needle-like hollow form. The thin tips of a spiculum forming hammer are ideal for hammering a thin piece of metal into a grooved forming block. Now you know!

Originally published December 2011. Updated April 2021.

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