Mass or Velocity? Large or Smaller Forging Hammer?

The argument for forging with a small hammer vs. a larger hammer is much like the argument of which truck is better Ford or Chevy. If you've been forging for a while you probably have an opinion on this. Hopefully, if you have been forging for a while you also have tested your opinions as well. Have you forged with a larger hammer enough to know it is not right for you? We are definitely doing an injustice to our profession if we don't constantly ask "Why" we do things the way we do them. We would definitely not be where we are today if our predecessors had not asked any questions about why they do things a certain way.

I could go into all the Newtonian laws on the subject, such as inertia, acceleration and kinetic energy, but they confuse me so I will just go with my own logic.

Keep in mind this is just my opinion backed by my logic.

  • Most of my work requires accuracy. If I am not accurate i have to rework to get the shape i need. The faster i swing the less accurate I get. Perhaps my hand/eye coordination is not what it should be but i suspect that its just fine.
  • When i swing a light hammer, around 2 pounds, I find myself trying to swing faster to get more energy into my work. Sometimes i can hear the metal laughing at me.
  • When i swing a light hammer, same one as above, I find myself tiring fast because I am concentrating on producing velocity and not on creating a masterpiece.
  • As the metal is laughing at me, I get even more annoyed and find myself throwing my back into it, leading to throwing my back out.
  • As my back is slowly going I also feel pressure in my hands and arms and i realize that the smaller head is also less resistant to shock and therefore is sending some of that inaccurate energy right through the handle into my body.


  • When i use a larger hammer, around 4 pounds, I am just controlling where gravity takes it.
  • I'm sure that if my anvil wasn't a decent size rebound would be an issue, but I have more than compensated for the 50:1 ratio of anvil weight to hammer head weight.
  • Smaller work just does not require as much rebound; shorter travel from top of stroke to face of material