A Day of Holiday Hammering (Lots of Pics!)

Discussion in 'Street, Documentary, and Portrait' started by jloden, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    This weekend I visited my friend Matthew Paul of MP Knives at his workshop in NY state along with a few mutual friends and Matt's brother Rob, also a photographer. While we chatted and hung out, Matt worked on a claw hammer as a Christmas gift. Between us there were four photographers, about 10 cameras and twice as many lenses in evidence, so it may have been the most well documented blacksmithing project of all time :biggrin:

    I thought I'd share some of the photos here as a little something different. In 2012 it's not every day you get to watch a blacksmith turn a chunk of steel into a functional tool!

    Here's Matt starting out by cutting the steel - a chunk that was reclaimed by cutting an end off of an old pick head.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8301792738/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8301792738_01f69fa0ff_c. "534" height="800" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    Some tools of the trade

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8301794160/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8301794160_4b23454772_c. "800" height="534" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    Punching the eye in the hammer head

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8300743633/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8300743633_d3a88f86b3_c. "534" height="800" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8300744947/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8300744947_6af9fd215b_c. "534" height="800" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    Heating the steel in the forge between working steps

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8301798502/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8301798502_531de271d6_c. "800" height="534" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    Widening the eye

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8301799994/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8301799994_48f6479019_c. "534" height="800" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8300756939/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8300756939_c5d56effef_c. "800" height="534" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>


    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8300757711/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8300757711_e34e66a4ea_c. "800" height="534" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    Our friend Alex Yerks (also a full-time professional wood carver and part time professional photographer) hot-rasping some of the steel to clean some rough edges further remove extra material.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8301810972/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8301810972_616f167e3d_c. "534" height="800" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    Working the steel to shape with the hammers while Alex holds it steady

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8300759649/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8300759649_54859488a7_c. "800" height="534" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    Trimming and shaping the claw section using a "Hardy hole" tool, basically a small hole in the anvil that holds various tools to allow the 'smith to work the metal and hammer in each hand.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8300762515/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8300762515_738e0817d8_c. "800" height="534" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    Angle grinder removes some metal between steps

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8301844346/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> View attachment 247559 "800" height="534" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    Some teamwork to further shape the metal using hammer work

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8300808023/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8300808023_02a091cf4a_c. "800" height="534" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    And when the smoke and dust cleared... there lay a hammer! :thumbup:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8301865544/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8301865544_fd965c7ec8_c. "534" height="800" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    Starting to look like a hammer

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8301869466/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8301869466_11c1514d82_c. "800" height="534" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    Our friend Alex carves wooden cups, bowls, and other items pretty much full time when he's not working photography gigs. His 'tools of the trade' were also in evidence at the shop.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8300821657/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8300821657_2b23314b39_c. "800" height="534" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    Matt splitting the steel to create the claw of the hammer

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8300824271/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8300824271_fb34bcc14f_c. "534" height="800" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    Red hot hammer, fresh off the anvil!

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8301881012/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8301881012_efe996b08a_c. "800" height="534" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    Stamped with the maker's mark

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8301887534/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8301887534_6fdcfdaa20_c. "800" height="534" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    One final heating in the forge, for hardening. It will later be tempered back to soften the metal differentially so that it's harder on the face for hammering but softer on the back/claw section so as not to shear or break when pried on.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8301890256/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8301890256_06d384cd1d_c. "800" height="534" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    And then a quenching in oil

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8301891742/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8301891742_7b7511a6f1_c. "534" height="800" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>

    I couldn't help but also post this pic of the world's most dramatically lit cup of coffee, taken while Matt had the overhead lights off for quenching :biggrin:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8300841819/" title="Holiday Hammering by jloden, on Flickr"> 8300841819_fda3175d34_c. "800" height="534" alt="Holiday Hammering"></a>
    • Like Like x 24
  2. Mr Moo

    Mr Moo Rocket builder, collector of vintage air guitars

    Sep 17, 2012
    SE Virginia
    Good stuff....thanx! :bravo-009:
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Great set Jay, really interesting stuff.
    I'm a carpenter so I found it fascinating to see the making of a hand made hammer. Had a quick look through the MP Knives website as well, a mate of mine collects knives and those are right up his alley...craftsman knives that would more than likely last many generations.

    Thanks for sharing mate
    • Like Like x 1
  4. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Very cool, glad you enjoyed :smile:

    I love seeing all the things Matt can do - he's ostensibly a knifemaker by trade but he does lots of other things as well as you can see. In some of the other shots you'll see Matt's cross-pein hammer (the one with the tapered end on one side) which he re-shaped in the forge from a $4 store-bought hammer into a much more useful smith's tool. The tongs you see were also made by Matt, along with various other bits like the Hardy hole cutting bit in one of the other pics. Part of what makes blacksmithing so interesting is that you make your own tools as you go.
  5. Nonnit

    Nonnit Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 19, 2012
    Great stuff here, amazing pictures!
    • Like Like x 1
  6. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Fascinating set! :thumbup:
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jay I saw these yesterday on my phone and I didn't have the time to fully appreciate them. I'm glad I came back. Man these are incredible!
    The processing, the story and the composition are really top knotch. I really like the darkened cinematic feel in the pictures. As you probably know I live on a farm and I really enjoy this kind of stuff. I'm interested in how he hardened the hammer head and then softened the claw. I never thought of that before.

    I'm definitely thankful you posted these.


    PS. What lens did you use?

    PPS. I suggest you change the name in the title. This deserves more coverage:smile:
    • Like Like x 1
  8. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Thanks! I appreciate the kind words, especially coming from you Brady! I'm open to suggestions on an edited title too :smile:

    Everything Matt does is by eye. Disclaimer: this is my limited understanding of the process. Heat treating varies depending on the tool and it's intended uses but generally it involves 2 steps. First you heat the steel to a high heat and quench (as in the photos), after which it will be at or near maximum hardness. Often for heat treating tools differentially Matt does an overall heating with the forge, then hand-heats portions with a propane torch. It's done literally by eye; you determine when it's at the correct heat based on the color of the steel. Then to temper the steel, you heat it again but to a lower heat for a longer period of time. This changes the internal grain structure of the steel and increases the strength. For stronger tools you usually want slightly flexible steel that won't shatter on impact but isn't too soft to work with. For example Matt's knives will typically bend in a vise to almost 90ยบ before they break.

    EXIF data is on all the shots on Flickr, but most are with a Nikon D600 and 50mm f/1.4. I know, I know it's not m4/3 :biggrin: But in my defense, we were geeking out on cameras and our friend Alex shoots with a D4, so I wanted to be able to try out some of his lenses while I was there. There were four photographers there that day so it looked like a camera convention. Here's an iPhone shot of our ridiculous load of cameras and lenses - m4/3, Canon APS-C, FF & film, and Nikon FF cameras all with assorted lenes:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8304646194/" title="Photographers... by jloden, on Flickr"> 8304646194_a7fcd14b60_c. "800" height="600" alt="Photographers..."></a>

    The inevitable photo of a photo... of a photo. I think my head hurts :tongue:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30940068@N02/8303606285/" title="Inception - Camera style by jloden, on Flickr"> 8303606285_66860c191c_c. "800" height="600" alt="Inception - Camera style"></a>
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Crdome

    Crdome Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 11, 2011
    West Central Indiana
    Thanks Jay. Brought back happy memories of decades past when I smithed non-ferrismetals.

    • Like Like x 1
  10. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Matt just posted the finished photos of his work, all Christmas gifts for his family. The chef's knife in the pic is similar to a few I had Matt make for my wife, father-in-law and step-father for this Christmas. The ones he did for me had buffalo horn handles instead of wood, but a similar shape.

    Reposted with Matt's permission, so you can check out the finished hammer and some of Matt's other handiwork:

    • Like Like x 3
  11. aragorn1980

    aragorn1980 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 10, 2012
    Athens Greece
    Magnificent photos!
    • Like Like x 1
  12. snkenai

    snkenai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 5, 2010
    My Grandfather on my Mother's side was a "smith", and from what I understand was from a family of blacksmiths. I inherited the love of working with "hot iron". And from my dad, the wood working. Great picture story.
    • Like Like x 1
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