Heat Treated and Tempered: My New Hammer
You can see in the photo above the shape of my new five pound Brian Brazeal hammer. My friend Kainon and Brian made it for me recently and Kainon and I, mostly Kainon, heat treated and tempered it today. It was amazing to watch Kainon work so confidently at the forge. He has really learned so much from Brian in the past few months that I can’t help but be impressed. His skills have become second nature and I know he has made the right choice in his desire to become a master Blacksmith.
The challenge with heat treating such a large hammer is in keeping the heat even throughout the entire piece and in getting it quenched quickly and evenly. You can see the intensity of the flames Kainon is facing as he carefully positions the hammer and continues to pump the fire at the same time.
As you can see above, it takes a bit of determination to flip the hammer in the forge. Kainon is concentrating on getting the bottom of the hammer well seated in the coal bed to keep the hammer upright and heating evenly. He must then continue to pump the fire and watch the heat to be ready to flip it again as soon as the bottom comes up to temperature.
Kainon has gotten a good grip and is ready to turn and quench the hammer. We set a large bucket of water nearby for this purpose. He must move the hammer constantly to cool it evenly or it may crack. Once the hammer is in the water it begins to “scream’. This is a high pitched whistle that gradually dies out as the temperature of the metal cools down.
Now that the hammer is fully hardened, we can heat the drifts and temper the faces. We had to do a bit of futzing around outside the shop to do this so no pictures could be taken. The process is fairly simple, you insert your heated drifts into the hammer and watch carefully for the temper to move into the face. It is a very important step and we needed all our concentration to get it right.
Although the shot is a bit out of focus I included it because the temper color is so spot on. Kainon was able to get the hammer heat arrested at just the right time for a perfect temper on the face. Now the head is less hard near the eye and still very hard at the faces, exactly what you want with a forging hammer. If you scroll up to the quenched state above and then back to this photo you will see the blue tone to the center and the gold tone to the faces very clearly.
We both gave the new hammer a quick tryout without a handle. It was mainly because Brian has mentioned that he has done this sometimes to get the right hit for a piece he was working on. He also reminded us that in the very distant past, humans didn’t put handles on their tools and often hammers were simple stones held in the hand. It was funny but we actually were able to hit the work well with just the head. Kainon even got a decent taper out of his piece.
Once again, I have to say “Thanks!!” to both Kainon and Brian for taking the time and making the effort to make me such and awesome hammer.
Drop by again soon and keep on having fun!