This blog post is in connection with my video on how to swing a hammer on my you tube channel. Go watch that, or you may not understand this ;)
Here is a link: LINK
Alright, the first thing I talk about is your anvil height. Pretty important to get this right. You don’t want to have the anvil too tall. Too short can suck for your back, but too high puts some bad strain on your elbow and shoulder and can lead to some serious tendon issues. You can also hold the hammer in your hand with your arm extended at your side. The hammer face should be relatively flat against the anvil.
This is one of the reasons I love a dirt floor in my shop. I can kick a little sand under the anvil to raise and lower it if I need to.
As far as stance goes, just don’t stand too far away. The stand your anvil sits on should not be so wide that you have to lean over your anvil either. Get right up on that bad boy!
Find a stance that feels comfy. Pay attention to your body, don’t be a tough ol’ idiot and say to yourself “Aaaahh fuck it, I’m a rough tough fella, and a real man don’t whine about an aching back” That way lies the way of pain, the way of getting older before your time. Remember that you have to do this every day for 20years, don’t be dummy. If after a long day forging you find your back hurts, or your elbow aches, or your wrist cramps, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Find out why, change your anvil around or your stance or how you grip the hammer. Drink plenty of water even when its not hot out!!!
When swinging a hammer DO NOT PUT YOUR THUMB OUT ONTO THE HANDLE!
Lets talk about hammer weight. I like a 2 to 2 1/2 lb hammer for most general forging. Its heavy enough to wail on things if I need to, but still light enough I can be precise. I have recently started using a rounding hammer I made my own self. I also use a smaller rounding hammer about 1lb for some more delicate work, and I have one that has a very flat face for finishing work.
I think I do a pretty good job in the vid of explaining how to swing. So much of it is just straight up practice. Do not go at it like you are the Incredible Hulk, or She-ra or some such. Get accurate, then hit hard. I see T-shirts and Bumper stickers all the time that say “Get it hot, hit it hard” That’s some bullshit, sounds catchy, but not a good attitude for a beginner.
If you aren’t a big meat head you can still be an effective smith. Build up more inertia by lifting the hammer higher, and swinging it faster. Focus on all the movements before you hit the steel, once you get that accuracy down, you will be surprised at how much work you can get done in a single heat.
This whole crew made knives in my shop! They were all shapes and sizes and did wonderful work. You can to!!