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close this bookBasic Techiques of Blacksmithing: A Manual for Trainers (Peace Corps, 1982, 102 p.)
close this folderDay 5
View the documentSession: 16. Forging a Cross-peen hammer
View the documentSession: 17. Forging cutting tools: the wrapped-handle knife

Session: 16. Forging a Cross-peen hammer

Total Time: 4 hours


* To discuss types of scrap steel suitable for making hammers
* To forge a cross-peen hammer
* To identify and discuss the forging of other types of tools that may be made from a hammer head blank


* Attachment 16-A, "Forging a Cross-Peen Hammer"
* Andrews, pages 78-82

Materials: Examples of scrap steel suitable for hammer-making; e.g., car, truck and rail axles, rail car springs, etc. (see Steps 1 and 2); one section of truck or car axle (half-section between gearbox and wheel) per station; a prototype hammer blank finished to the point of dressing and tempering.


Step 1. (5 minutes)
Briefly explain the objectives and draw the group's attention to the display of scrap metal for hammer-making.

Step 2. (10 minutes)
Ask participants to explore the assortment, to identify each item, and to discuss why the scraps are appropriate for making hammers.

Trainer Notes

* Have the group refer to the scrap pieces' previous uses and describe the steel grades and properties.

* Ask participants:

- Have they seen these and other scrap pieces used for hammer making in local forges?
- If axles are not used in local hammer forging, what type of material is?
- If hammers are made from material other than axles, are they case-hardened?

Step 3. (15 minutes)
Distribute Attachment 16-A, "Hammer Illustrations" and discuss the procedure of forging a cross-peen hammer. Show an example of a hammer forged from an axle.

Trainer Notes

* Explain to the group that, using the illustrations in the attachment as a guide, they will cut off one end of an axle and forge their hammers to the point of grinding or dressing.

* Stress that, as no step-by-step demonstrations will be given until grinding and tempering, it is essential to carefully study each illustration.

* Have the participants study the pictures one-by-one, and describe the process depicted in each.

* Mention that each step in the process may take several heats to accomplish.

* Briefly demonstrate the striking technique on a piece of scrap axle and have several in the group try it with you.

* Point out any important details which they have missed, and ask for questions and clarifications.

* Encourage the participants to rely as much as possible on the illustrations, their own experience, and the skills and knowledge of others in the group while working through the activity.

Step 4. (2 hours)
Have the participants forge the hammers.

Trainer Notes

* Check in with each team periodically but offer assistance only when necessary.

* Help the groups identify errors or incorrect techniques by referring them to the illustrations and discussion during Step 3.

Step 5. (10 minutes)
When the hammers are forged, demonstrate grinding or dressing techniques using the unfinished prototype.

Trainer Notes

Emphasize that:

* Edges on both peens should be rounded and smooth so that no marks will be left on the work.

* Faces should be as polished as possible.

Step 6. (60 minutes)
Have the teams dress and anneal their hammers.

Step 7. (5 minutes)
Describe the tempering process for the hammers.

Trainer Notes

* Explain that the hammers will continue annealing through lunch and early afternoon. By the end of the next session, they will be ready for tempering and time will be provided.

* Also mention that participants may wish to make handles and mount their hammers during free time or open shop.

Step 8. (10 minutes)
When all the groups have finished, facilitate a brief discussion on the experience of learning to forge a hammer using drawings as a guide rather than demonstrations.

Trainer Notes

Stimulate response by posing these questions:

* Did the participants find out most of the vital information before or during the forging activity.

* How were problems resolved? By asking the trainer for help? By observing others in the group? Through trial and error?

* Does the group understand the process and feel comfortable with the skills involved in hammer-making? If not, why not?

Step 9. (5 minutes)
Ask participants to identify and discuss the forming of other tools which may be made from a hammer blank.

Trainer Notes

* Have the group scan the tools in the forge area for ideas.

* Ask them to give examples of other tools they have seen used at their worksites which may be formed from the hammer blank.

Attachment 16-A


Forging a cross-peen hammer

Direction of hammer

Direction of hammer blows should be at 45° angles to the anvil and away from each other for safety.

Session: 17. Forging cutting tools: the wrapped-handle knife

Total Time: 4 hours


* To practice basic blacksmithing skills involved in making common agricultural cutting tools
* To make a wrapped-handle knife
* To practice working effectively in groups
* To identity and use techniques for the dissemination of blacksmithing skills
* To discuss the feasibility of producing agricultural cutting tools in local forges

Resources: Andrews, pages 91-93.

Materials: Newsprint, felt-tip pens, one 3/16" piece of leaf spring steel per participant (10"x1-1/3"), assorted examples of scrap steel suitable for making knives or machetes, one 30" strip of 3/4" innertube per participant, two or three examples of completed, locally-made, wrapped-handle and tang-type knives (and machetes, if possible).

Trainer Notes

Prior to this session, an effort should be made to make or purchase two or three examples of locally-forges knives and machetes (see Step 2).


Step 1. (10 minutes)
Explain the session objectives and outline the procedures.

Trainer Notes

* Explain that the techniques involved in making machetes and other chopping or cutting tools are essentially the same as those involved in making a knife. Variations which exist relate primarily to the length of time needed to forge and the complications encountered in tempering a longer cutting edge.

* Point out that the knife to be made during this session will provide participants with practice in the basic skills necessary to experiment further at their work sites with designs of other locally appropriate and acceptable cutting tools.

Step 2. (10 minutes)
Distribute among the group one wrapped-handle knife and one tang-type knife, and ask participants to examine them carefully.

Trainer Notes

If examples of machetes are available, distribute them also.

Step 3. (15 minutes)
Have the participants identify and discuss the procedures and techniques involved in making the knives.

Trainer Notes

Some points which should be mentioned include:

- making a template
- type of steel used
- shape of the tang
- proper heating of steel
- forming the tang
- cutting the materials
- forming the blade
- annealing the blade
- tempering (oil vs. water)
- sharpening
- grinding

* As participants correctly identify the procedures involved, list them on posted newsprint.

* Provide assistance by adding and explaining any new procedures or variations of old techniques which may be involved.

Step 4. (10 minutes)
When the list is complete, ask participants to identify those procedures or techniques which they would like to see demonstrated.

Trainer Notes

Refer to the posted list and circle their responses.

Step 5. (10 minutes)
Introduce and explain the guidelines for the knife-making activity.

Trainer Notes

* Explain that the teams should work among themselves with minimal dependence on the trainer.

* Point out that the making of the knife involves using many of the basic skills practiced earlier in the training, and will also serve as an opportunity:

- to practice working effectively in groups
- to use techniques involved in sharing blacksmithing skills with others, and
- to simulate the condition of working at their sites with local blacksmiths.

* Remind participants of the importance of using the posted list of procedures as a guide while they are working.

Step 6. (2 hours, 15 minutes)
Have the participants form their work teams and make wrapped-handle knives.

Trainer Notes

* Throughout the activity, encourage teams to seek advice and solutions from their fellow participants as an alternative to relying on trainer interventions.

* Observe carefully and offer assistance as teams approach those procedures and techniques which were identified as needing demonstration.

* If some of the teams do not complete their knives in the time allotted, explain that time will be provided for the completion of unfinished projects on Day 6.

Step 7. (10 minutes)
When the group finishes, ask participants to discuss the feasibility of producing knives, machetes, and other similar cutting tools in local forges.

Trainer Notes

* Stimulate discussion by asking:

- What locally available materials would be most suitable for making quality cutting tools?
- What are the procedural differences between making a knife and making a machete?
- How long would it take a skilled blacksmith to make a quality machete? Knife?
- How much would the blacksmith have to charge for the tool?
- How does this compare with factory made models?

Step 8. (40 minutes)
Have participants return to the hammers which they forged during the morning activity and perform the tempering process,