Jewelry Tools 101: Ultimate Guide to Jewelry Hammers

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."

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 last year. 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.

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.)

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.

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

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

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

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

Raising jewelry hammer.

Nylon raising hammer.

Narrow raising hammer.

Narrow raising hammer.

Spiculum forming hammer.

Spiculum forming hammer.

Forming planishing hammers.

Forming & planishing hammers.

Rawhide mallet jewelry hammer.

Rawhide mallet.

Goldsmith's hammer.

Goldsmith’s 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.

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

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

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

Ball-peen hammer.

Ball-peen hammer.

Flat faced chasing hammer.

Flat-faced chasing hammer.

Nylon mallet.

Nylon mallet.

Bordering hammer.

Bordering hammer.

Embossing hammer.

Large embossing hammer.

Riveting hammer.

Riveting hammer.

curved face chasing hammer.

Curved-face chasing hammer.

Jeweler's embossing hammer.

Jeweler’s embossing hammer.

Texturing hammer.

Texturing hammer.

More About Jewelry Tools

To learn more about all kinds of jewelry tools (jewelry hammers included) and how to use each one, turn to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. When you subscribe to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine, you'll receive issue after issue packed with jewelry-making and lapidary stone-cutting projects, jewelry tool features and test comparisons, tips from art jewelry experts and gemologists, galleries of work to inspire your own jewelry making, and more.

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!

P.S. So what about that spiculum forming hammer? It's a very specialized tool used by jewelers to create spiculums … and apparently 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.

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