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ball peen hammer head hawk

Rik Palm

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I want to thank,

Larry Harley for mentioning a while back that ball peen hammer heads make nice hawks. I also wanted to thank Rick Eaton for taking time out during the busy Reno Show and showing me how to sharpen a graver! 2 of the nicest guys around!


I found an old ball peen hammer head ($3) at a yard sale and wanted to try making a hawk out of it.

The hawk head is 6 inches overall, with a 2 inch cutting edge, 13 inch stained ash handle. I wanted to make it short for hiking and stuff.


anyway thanx for looking....


I call it "Barr"






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Patrick, I not sure this is the correct way to make a ball peen hawk


I first flatten/drew out the hammer end fullering it as close as I dared to its eye on all 4 sides. I figured the flat part was the biggest move so I did it first. I thought it would give me a good area to clamp in the post vise too when I upset the ball some too, Well the flattening/pinching went well but the ball upsetting didn't work as I thought it would, I messed up the eye (twisted and bent). The next thing I worked on was drifting the eye. Since I messed its shape up I had to work hard to drift it and get it straight to the blade (a normal hammer eye is very small I learned I had to move lots of metal). It seemed like I was just chasing my mistakes around and around, but eventually I got it worked out. so that was the hardest part. (as I write this I think I know now that I should have waited on doing the fullering before the upsetting of the ball.... hmmmmm) When I was straighting it up I had my sketch near by guessing the shape some. After I normalized it, I profiled it some for the general shape, the "blade" was much longer then my sketch (I was kinda surprised at how much metal there was in a hammer head) I reforged it again refining the shape more, like pinching the ears up, shaping and tapering the ball some more. HA and straighting it some more, seems just when I thought I had it straight it would be off some where else.


next I normalized it again, and filed out the profile closer to the end shape. (like the nose, blade curves, ears, etc... I basically kept that up until I got closer to my sketch and a shape I liked. I went slow. funny how just a slight difference in a curve like the nose gave a huge different feel to it I was having fun. I used a small carbide ball burr 1/8 inch for the texturing. After Rick Eaton showed me how to sharpen a graver then it was really easy to do the other features. Most of the time I mostly used files, I really like using them especially when I get into a rhythm. I took the head to 150 grit before heat treating, the hawk was actually clay harden but afterwards I didn't polish it out. I was instead going to really darken it with a black patina, I did the patina and used semi chrome polish which took off all the patina!! oh well but my wife and son really liked it shiny so I left it as it is now.


whew!!! I really normally don't type that much! I probably left something out but ask if you have any questions.



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Hi Rik,


Thanks for the interesting and descriptive tour for the ball peen hawk. My background is with clay and wood, with very little knowledge of metals :) . You used some terms that others may also be wondering about. Since this is a list of multiple media using members, (I have a hard time figuring out how to say that :) ), a further element of education would be welcomed (by me, for starters!). I listed the things below that I must guess at the meaning when read in context with the description. Would you be willing to hint at what each means?








it would give me a good area to clamp in the post vise too when I upset the ball

drifting the eye

clay harden

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Hi Janel,


"fullering", is when I indented, pinched, creating the "u" shape depression in the middle.



"it would give me a good area to clamp in the post vise too when I upset the ball"


I used the flatten blade area to tightly clamp it so the "ball peen" was facing upward so I could hammer, squash, make it fatter, swell it up, or "upset" it so I had more nose to work with.


"drifting the eye"

A hawks handle has a tear drop cross section that tapers from small to big. The hawks head eye is also tapered so it can slide up on but not all the way up. The 2 tapers work together to secure it. I used a metal "drift" that is the same shape of a real wood handle, so when I hammered it into the hawks eye it would match up with the wood handle later.


"clay harden"

I used a layer of clay on the blade (so it would retain the heat) when I edged quenched it. I wanted only the cutting edge to be hardened so the rest of the hawk would be "soft" and tough. The quench line of hard & soft is called the Hamon and when polished it shows the heat treating.


thanx for the questions!



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