Studio Notes on Jewelry Tools: Chasing Down Chasing Hammers

Wonder what chasing hammers are? In the July/August issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, a who’s who of experts talk about this mystery hammer used to drive metal-moving jewelry tools with precision.

The lineup includes Bill Fretz, Liza Nechamkin Glasser, metal carver Tom Herman, gun engraver Scott Pilkington, restorer Jeff Herman, and teacher Valentin Yotkov. I also talk with John Rohner, now in this 90s. He and brother-in-law Don Glaser founded GRS and created the pneumatic GraverMeister, which made some chasing hammers almost obsolete.

John Rohner's collection of engraved chasing hammers

John Rohner’s collection of chasing hammer heads engraved by the world’s finest practioners. Photo credit: Scott Pilkington.

OK, so what is a chasing hammer?

If I want to carve details into a sterling silver casting of a fern leaf I’ve stabilized in an engraving ball, I might use a chasing hammer to hit the end of a small, sharp chisel poised on the surface.

Or I might want to flatten a crimp I’ve soldered onto the back of a pendant. I’ll position the end of a tiny punch exactly where I want it, and add energy with with a couple light taps to close it.

The experts above tell how they use chasing hammers in their jewelry and metalsmithing work. So you get to see ways this jewelry tool can be handy.

The best advice I got? From Liza Nechamkin Glasser: Not everyone needs a $189 tool to stamp their name on the back of a pendant. “Get a $10 brass hammer from Home Depot for that.”

 


Betsy Lehndorff has been writing for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 2010. You can reach her at betsylehndorff@gmail.com.


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