Did You Know?
Unlike claw hammers, the head of a ball-peen hammer is hardened, and thus, it is less likely to chip.
Also known as a machinist's hammer, a ball-peen hammer is, in fact, a type of metal peening hammer. Not considered to be an essential part of the usual toolkit, this hammer is indispensable for those engaged in the metalworking industry including DIY metalworkers and jewelry makers. This hammer has no sharp ends; instead, it has a normal cylindrical hammer head with a flat face on one end and a round/hemispherical head on the other. This Buzzle article discusses some simple ball-peen hammer uses that can be incorporated in daily tasks.
Whenever automated machines are not put to use, ball-peen hammers are the go-to tools in metal fabrication. This hammer is used for lending the desired shape and form to the metal being worked upon. It comes in handy for striking and shaping sheets and pieces of metal. Conventionally, these hammers were used for peening metal that had been welded or riveted together, so as to make the joints flexible as the metal around it. This is one of the reasons ball-peen hammers are used for making metal jewelry because the hammer helps in flattening, shaping, and adding varied hammered texture to the metal.
Ball-peen hammers are also used for smoothing out dents because it does not leave any marks on the surface of the metal being repaired. The ball end of this hammer helps to expand and flatten out metal surfaces. This lends greater strain-hardening property to the metal because of the striking and heft offered while hammering.
A ball-peen hammer is useful for striking punches and chisels during woodworking and metalworking. Since the blunt end of the punch is really small, the flatter face of a ball-peen hammer provides the right amount of surface area to drive the punch with the required amount of impact. This allows the punch to be used for marking holes on metal or wood.
Ball-peen hammers are specially preferred for peening rivets as well as expanding the ends of set rivets and light rivets such as those made of copper. These hammers are perfect for manually setting rivets into metal because the shape of a ball-peen hammer is perfect for accomplishing this task. Secondly, since the extra shaft of the rivet needs to be cut and flattened out to act as a strong joint for metal sheets, the ball-peen hammer ensures that the joint is secured with a few steady strikes. The moment the rivet end flattens out, the joint becomes more securely fastened and so do the metal sheets.
Armor and Knife Making
A ball-peen hammer is still used for making armor and forging knives and swords. Once the metal is cast into a knife blade, it is filed to the desired sharpness and thereafter, peened into a shape using a ball-peen hammer. A solid metal surface is required to be used as an anvil while peening a blade with such a hammer.
Which Hammer Head Should You Choose?
Depending on your need, consider whether you would like to opt for a hard- or soft-faced ball-peen hammer because the two serve different purposes.
- The hard-faced hammer is usually made for more heavy-duty metal work, is more long-lasting, and expensive because it is forged using metal alloys or high-carbon steel.
- On the other hand, soft-faced ball-peen hammers are meant for light work that does not require much impact, and therefore, is made of brass, lead, or plastic. These materials tend to wear out, get deformed, or crack after extensive use, and thus, they need to be replaced eventually.