Getting Hammered…. Again!

4 12 2010

A few months back, I wrote a post about hammering, showing the differences between hammers and mallets (read post HERE). Today’s post is provide more detail about chasing hammers, and the two distinct purposes they have: to “chase” a tool into metal (such as stamping, or repousse work), or, to flatten wire. They are lightweight hammers made with a springy wood, which reduces hand fatigue whed doing repetitive striking. Personally, I like a heavier hammer for stamping, but it is an excellent hammer for repousse (a technique sorta like embossing on thin metal), which requires a lighter touch.

Domed Face vs. Flat Face Chasing Hammers

Chasing hammers are also a great shape/weight for hammering wire… which is how many jewelry artisans use them. The faces come in two different “flavors” – the domed face, and the flat face. In the photo above, you can clearly see how they different as they rest on a steel block… but do you know when to use each one??

Domed Face vs. Flat Face: Hammering Wire

Look at how the hammers are positioned above, on a piece of wire. The domed face hammer (left) strikes the wire with only the center part of the face, but the edges don’t strike the wire at all. The flat face hammer (right) strikes the wire with more surface, but the sharp edge of the hammer can easily mar the wire.

"Not so Pretty" vs. "Pretty Nice"

On the left, you can see the markes made from repeated strikes when the edge of the flat face hammer hits the wire.. On the right, the wire is paddled flat and is mar free – no sharp edges hit the wire when properly using a domed face hammer. In addition, the force is focused at the center, rather than across the entire face, so you have more power when striking.

Tapered Hammered Link

This link is a great example of how useful a domed face hammer is – you can see how it was possible to hammer just the bottom part of the link, to taper the wire on each side, providing an even, gradual change from round to flat. If I tried to use the flat face hammer on this link, it would be very difficult to create this smooth transition. and it would be difficult to avoid hitting the top of the link, where the wire is doubled over.

Round and round we go....

Although I loooove my domed face hammer, and it is my favorite hammer to use with wire, the flat face hammer has it’s place too! In the photo above, you can see how the domed face hammer leaves the surface of Spiral “A” a bit less consistent than the surface of Spiral “B,” which was hit with the flat face. Because the domed face has a curve, the hammer strikes with a bit more force at the exact center, which can leave slight differences in the pressure placed on the surface. A flat face hammer is a good choice when flattening an item that is smaller than it’s face diameter, because the force is displaced evenly across the head.

This week, I decided to start selling my favorite domed face hammer in my Etsy shop. I looked around at the other hammers being offered, and realized that there was no info being posted on using the hammers, which is why I decided to write this post. Hopefully, it will be helpful – for someone new to hammering, a flat face hammer can be very very frustrating, because it is so difficult to obtain mar-free results!



14 responses

7 12 2010

Thanks so much for this post. I’ve wondered what the difference was between the 2 and why I kept getting marks on some of my wire I hammered. I only have the flat face, thinking it would be better for what I wanted. Now I know I also need the dome faced hammer.

7 12 2010

I’m glad the info was useful… I use both of them (plus several other hammers), but a good domed face hammer is the best one for most wirework. After using both in class, it was obvious that students got much better results with the domed face hammer, so it’s the only one I sell! Another tip… when coming down on the wire, use a “sweeping” motion when you hit the wire, sweeping off the block. Make sure it’s a smooth movement, so you have no harsh edges. Hope this makes sense!

16 01 2011

Yes, it does help. Thanks so much. Just saw your Hearts post also. Such a simple, yet elegant little heart.

16 01 2011
I Heart Hearts! « Studiodax's Blog

[…] may want to check these posts for info on Hammering and on using Liver of Sulpher for […]

26 12 2012

Thank you for the info! Do you still sell this hammer? If not, can you recommend a good place to buy one?

27 12 2012

Hi Kim… I no longer sell the hammer, but you can get a similar one at Contenti, which is a great jewelers resource. Check them out at

2 01 2013
Gretchen Schaumannn

Again, a great example and explanation. Thank you!

3 03 2013
Brenda Smith

What is the best guage copper to get really pretty wide paddles?

17 04 2013
Brenda Smith

Whar guage is best for big paddles and do I use a sweeping motion? What is the best technique

28 06 2013

Reblogged this on acraftysistasblog's Blog and commented:
This post describing the differences between Domed shape chasing hammer and the flat chasing hammer. Also she gives great examples on when to use each. Thanks! Studiodax!

17 03 2014

So glad I discovered your blog and particularly this post… so confused about which hammer to get! You’ve explained it beautifully, thank you 🙂

17 03 2014

So glad my blog is still useful to folks!

31 07 2014
Sharon van Beek

Such helpful information, thanks! I was wondering why I didn’t get good results with hammering wire, now I know!

3 11 2015
Eileen Macloud

Great inGo! I will have to look into buying a dome face chasing hammer.

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