Hardening/tempering hammer heads

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Hardening/tempering hammer heads

Postby brianthehurdler » February 26th, 2017, 3:45 am

Going sideways from the thread on swaging-hammer handles, I'm doing a little re-shaping on an old ball-pein hammer head of mine.

I've annealed/normalised it to make it easier to work on, but after I've finished the reshaping I was planning to harden it (I can heat it to red-heat in my log-burner and then quench it) and leave it at that.

I don't have the facility for accurate tempering (my oven does go up to about 250 degrees C, but I don't know how accurate it might be) but it seems to me that, since I'll be hitting a much smaller and slightly softer piece of steel {ie, the raker}, there should be no danger of the hammer head shattering.

I do, though, have a sneaky suspicion that I've heard that you can shatter hardened steel just by dropping it on concrete.

So, has anyone any thoughts on whether I should try to temper after hardening or whether I should be OK to stop at hardening?

Cheers, Brian.
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Re: Hardening/tempering hammer heads

Postby Jim_Thode » February 27th, 2017, 10:31 pm

The swaging hammer I made out of a ball peen hammer I did not anneal it and worked it hard with carbide and grinding tools. Annealing the head before working adds a whole other complexity to the job. I could clearly see that about 1/4" of the face was hard. After you said you annealed your I checked a few heads I have and see that all I have are only hardened on the face and ball. The main body and the hole for the handle is quite soft. So to re-harden your head it should only need to be hardened on the hammering face and that should not be too hard to do. You should be able to heat the face with a torch to a good cheery red and quench in water. Then using the same torch you can heat to about light yellow to straw (420 F, 216 C) to temper the face. You could temper in your oven but I would not recommend skipping the tempering step.

Here are some tempering charts:
485d118322c7097889e6c4db133550ba.jpg


post-1087-1179510589.jpg


You can see that only about 1/4" of the face is hard:
Image

Here is a bunch of ideas on hardening and tempering hammer heads:
https://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/32246- ... g-hammers/

Jim
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Re: Hardening/tempering hammer heads

Postby brianthehurdler » February 28th, 2017, 10:12 pm

I'd decided to anneal this one because it had a badly pitted face which needed grinding and a deformed eye which I wanted to file out, so that was quite a lot of work to do on different parts. That bit has proceeded smoothly.

I've bought myself an oven thermometer now and plan to do my hardening and tempering that way. I might try just hardening the face (to see how easy that is to do) but I'll temper the whole thing in the oven. I'll let you know how I get on.

Brian.
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