On Stone Carving Hammers
On Stone Carving Hammers
In this post we’ll talk about stone carving hammers. You will learn all about hammers and how to use them.
Two types of hammers
There are mainly two kinds of hammers direct hammers and indirect hammers
Indirect hammers are the classic hammers as you would know them. They are used to strike a chisel which consequently strikes the stone. So, there is always a chisel in between the hammer and the stone.
Direct hammers on the other hand, as the name suggests, are directly used onto the stone.
A brief historic note
Historically, one of the first hammers was a stone. We have evidence that the first stones were used as hammers as far back as 3 to 3.5 million years ago. People used to hold the stone by hand and strike it in a controlled wat onto another stone to shape it into arrowheads, knives, and other household tools.
The next development would happen probably around 30,000 years ago and consisted in attaching a wooden handlebar to the stone. The handlebar would allow people to be more precise in the strike and also to put more energy in it.
Gradually, stone hammer heads would have been replaced by wooden hammers (mallets) first, and subsequently by soft metals heads like copper or bronze.
With the advance of the Iron Age, hammer heads would be finally fashioned in iron.
The stone carving version of the standard club hammer is characterized by a slightly bent head on its sides that facilitates the carving movement. This hammer is basically used for general sculpture and is available in different sizes and weights: They can start at 400 grams and can go up to 2,5 Kg, but the general standard one is of about 750 gr. The striking head can be fashioned either in “soft” iron or hardened steel.
Round Steel Mallets
Round steel mallet are mandatory for letter carving or for carving small details such as ornaments. There are other versions fitted with copper or brass heads instead of steel. These metals are softer than steel and will thus result in a softer and more delicate touch. Round steel mallets /letter carving hammers like these start at 300 gr and go up to 1kg, but the general standard one is about 450 gr.
Round mallets with synthetic heads are the modern replacement of wooden mallets. They are usually used for stone masonry carvings or when carving softer stones. The cylindrical shape of the hammer heads makes them very comfortable to work with. Always remember to use these kinds of hammers with chisels with either a wooden striking head or specifically fashioned steel chisels with a flattened out striking head. Stonemasonry hammers are available in a few shapes and sizes and can start at 350 gr up to 2 Kg.
A bush hammer is a direct hammer that is used to texturize stone. Their striking head consists of a grid of conical or pyramidal metal points. The repeated impact of these points into stone creates a rough, pockmarked texture that resembles naturally weathered rock. Bush hammers are used mainly for decorative purposes.
Pick hammers are generally used in in the very first stages of carving a statue, where precision is not necessarily required. They are used as a substitute for point chisels.
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