Hammering Copper and Silver Jewerly; Refinishing the face of a hammer

If there are any techniques you are interested in learning, or any questions you have, leave me a comment!


Are you looking for the correct way to hammer your copper or silver jewelry parts to achieve a multifaceted appearance on the surface of the metal?

Hand Hammered Sterling Silver Earrings Hand Hammered Copper Earrings

1. Hammer

Any steel hammer can be used to make texture on metal.

Remember that whatever is on the face of you hammer will be transferred to the surface of you copper or silver. Construction grade ball peen hammers will have usually a less polished milled lines left behind by the machine it was made on. If you do not mind this texture being transferred to the surface of the metal, then go ahead and use a ball peen hammer.

If you don’t like the texture provided by the ball peen, you can spend time filing the face of the hammer with a metal file, usually found in any hardware store. The best type of file would either be a flat file or a half round file. After filing, then use various grades of metal wet/dry sand paper starting with the smallest number on the back of the sand paper and then working up to the largest number in the package. Side note: the coarser the sandpaper, the smaller the number on the back.  The final finish on the hammer should be done with a fine steel wool, which can also be found at the hardware store.

The file, sand paper and steel wool are useful for many applications in metal work.  The key to sanding is taking your time and starting with a high grit and working to the fine grit to create a wonderful surface on the metal.

2. Surface to hammer on

The name for a metal surface to hammer on is a bench block. These are also a highly polished metal surface that will not make marks on the back of you metal piece. These cost around $10-$20 and are a great investment, but there are cheaper ways.  The more expensive the bench block, usually it will be higher quality steel.  When I first started out, I bought from a local pawn shop, the face of an old iron. This is usually highly polished surface, once you take it off the iron it works great at a bench block.

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31 Comments

Filed under Hand Crafted Jewelry, Jewelry Business, Jewelry Making, Metalsmithing, Workshops

31 responses to “Hammering Copper and Silver Jewerly; Refinishing the face of a hammer

  1. Very helpful article, thanks for taking the time 🙂

  2. Thank you! I am just getting into jewelery making and your article has been an enormous help. It’s a whole new vocabulary I am learning.

  3. Thank you for the info…I am a beginner but really love the hammering. I clear;y know its an area in which I want to continue. I also love your work. Continue doing great things for the new year.

  4. Mills

    Ms. Millner,

    I am interested in a hammered silver bracelet for my girlfriend. It is something simple and she has been looking for it for a while with no luck. I’ve browsed through your work and I like the style and feel. I think it is something my girlfriend would wear well.

    If I sent you a picture could you do something similar? I’m not sure if you are interested in this kind of work, I’d love to hear your feedback.

    Please let me know at your earliest convenience.

    Thanks

    Mills

  5. Karen

    My daughter makes jewelry, and is getting interested in hammered silver, etc. I would like to buy her a planishing hammer, but as a novice, I don’t know where to start. I enjoyed reading your article, and was hoping you could point me in the right direction. I understand there is a great difference in quality. Thank you.

    • Hi Karen,

      There are a variety of different suppliers who sell planishing hammers! The price also varies quite a bit. I would suggest trying to see one in person at a jewelry supply store if you are in a big city. If you can actually see the hammer in person, you want to make sure that there is a mirror finish on both faces of the hammer. Also, that the head of the hammer doesn’t wobble at all. There are ways to fix the wobble, but when purchasing it new, it should be in top shape. I actually only paid $10 for my hammer from the local bead store, but a lot of the time the name “planishing hammer” is not on the package. The hammer has one large flat face and one the other face has a much smaller ball. The ball end is about 1/4 size (or smaller) of the other flat face.

      Some of the good suppliers online would be Rio Grande Jewelry Supply (you need to call to set up an account online) and Indian Jewelers Supply. There are many great suppliers, but these are two that i have dealt with and was happy with their service. Their hammers will be more than $10, but will be of quality. Let me know if you have any more questions!

      ~Beth

  6. Hi Beth
    Hope you don’t mind – I’ve added a link to here from my blog post on hammered texture but you cover it in more detail.
    Nice work!
    A.

  7. dear beth, i am interested in learning how to ‘pound’ a silver fork into a bracelet. the tines are twisted in curly-cues, and the shank is apparently made flat and then formed into a rounded wrist shape. i’m just copying one my daughter has, for my grand-daughter. can you send me to a website or help? thanks, cindy in colorado

  8. Adrian

    I just recieved a bench block and hammer for Christmas! I am SO excited… however, when I tried a practice peice the hammer left circular marks on the metal. Am I hitting it wrong, or holding wrong? I thought maybe I could just file down the sides, though the ball on the back also leaves a nice little nik in the metal from some unknown source. I have run my finger nail over it, stared at it under a light and I cannot find the piece that is leaving this. Sandpaper is the route I should take….????? Thanks

    • With a metal hammer you will leave a hammer textured surface. If you want to just flatten or harden a piece of metal you would want to hit it with a nylon or rubber mallet.

      I would suggest sanding the bench block and the hammer if you can find the spot that is making the mark. Or, you could sand the piece of jewelry that you are working on to remove the marks. Both of these options can be time consuming…

  9. Sarah

    What guage of wire would you recommend for making a hair or shawl pin?

  10. Bobbi

    Hi Beth,

    After a piece of sterling silver wire is hammered, is there a way to restore the high polished shine?

    Thanks!

    Bobbi

    • Hi Bobbi,

      Normally you would want to hammer with a hammer that has a high polish shine to keep the hammer marks shiny. If you are looking to make the surface flat and smooth (no hammer marks) you would use metal files, then sand paper (for metal) starting from the coarsest grit, working to a finer grit paper, then polishing with a buffing wheel or a jewelry polishing cloth.

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

      Beth

  11. Katrin Mende

    I would like to make some hand stamped name tags on a hammered silver pendant. What should I do first?? Hammer the piece and then stamp it Or stamp the name on it first and then hammer it? Thanks Katrin

    • Hi Katrin,

      I would probably suggest to hammer the piece, then anneal it, then stamp it. Do you know how to anneal? If not, I would maybe suggest stamping the piece then hammering, and maybe not hammering too hard where the letters are stamped. Let me know if you would like me to explain how to anneal silver. Thank you for your question! Sorry it has taken me a little while to get back to you. Let me know how it works out =)

  12. Hello, I belive this is a really wonderful web site with fantastic stuff. That may be why I just want to request you if I can speak about your web site on my website if I give you link back again?

  13. Lorri Richard

    I would love to know what annealing is!

  14. Kristie

    I would like to know where I could buy the copper and silver? Please help.
    Thanks

  15. i am just getting in to stamping & hammering bracelet & have a simple question… do i stamp the blank first & then hammer it for texture ? or do i hammer it first & then stamp the letter?
    thanks so much!
    -frm canada

    • I would say, either way could work depending on how hard you hammer. If you stamp, then hammer, heavy hammer marks could distort the stamping, but it is going to be easier to place the stamps on the metal before it is hammered.

  16. Joan Naylor

    I would love to make a hammered scarf pin. How do I begin to learn this?Thanks so much !

  17. Mary Z

    I bought a small bench block from a local craft store and after time it has nick marks and I don’t know how to sand the bench block so There are not any marks on my wire work. Can you help.

    • Hi Mary, Sorry for the delay in response! Beth takes the bench blocks to a local machine shop and has them refinish the blocks after they start to get too many dents and nicks. Hope this helps! ~Janna, Shop Manager

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