What is a Ball Peen Hammer Used For? (Ball Peen Uses)

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What is a Ball Peen Hammer Used For? Ball Peen Hammer Uses & Functions.

A ball peen hammer is a common tool used in forging. This type of hammer is characterized by its ball-shaped peen.

Let’s take a look at what ball peen hammers are used for in various smithing situations.

A Handy Tool at the Forge

ball peen hammer uses
A ball peen hammer is a handy but optional tool in the workshop. James Case from Philadelphia, Mississippi, U.S.A., CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While ball peen hammers are not required for most blacksmithing projects, they are handy tools to have in your workshop.

If you are a new smith with few tools, you can use a heavy ball peen hammer as your main forging hammer. The flat face is appropriate for most beginner level projects and you should have no problem using the flat face to work a variety of techniques.

Sizes, Weights, and Where to Find One

Ball peen hammers are made in a range of sizes and weights, from around 8 ounces to 2 or three pounds. If you are using a ball peen hammer as your main tool, make sure to buy a heavy one.

Ball peen hammers are easy to find at low prices. Most yard sales and flea markets will have a few to choose from. You can also find them at hardware stores and online if you are willing to pay full price.

Uses in Blacksmithing, Silversmithing, and Coppersmithing

Ball peen hammers are useful across a variety of disciplines, including silversmithing. MAURO CATEB / CC BY-SA

This type of hammer is definitely not required in the workshop, but is handy to have for spreading metal quickly and evenly. If you predict that you will do this type of work often, a ball peen hammer might be a worthwhile investment.

Another job fit for a ball peen hammer is dishing out metal using a swage. The rounded peen allows the hammer to fit well into a small swage, but may leave hammer marks.

Ball peen hammers can also be used for spreading out rivets, but this can be done without one.

Typically, blacksmiths shouldn’t use ball peen hammers to create hammered texture on the surface of their work. This type of finish is not characteristic of blacksmithing and is unnecessary.

It’s worth noting that you will use a ball peen hammer far more if you are a silversmith or coppersmith. Blacksmiths work with harder metal and usually seek to leave as few hammer marks on their finished work as possible.  Those working with soft metals like silver and copper utilize a ball peen hammer to achieve a decorative texture on the surface of their finished product.

More Information

For more in-depth commentary and a smithing demonstration using a ball peen hammer, check out this video by Black Bear Forge.


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