(previously published January 12, 2016)
One of the best gifts my dad has given me is a simple finishing hammer. Old, a bit rusty, speckled with paint and dinged up, the leather-covered handle shiny from use. Holding it in my hands, I remember just how many things this simple tool has made. Tree houses, decks, bookcases and so much more.
You see, it’s my grandpa’s hammer. It’s on the small side, compared to most framing hammers. My grandma gave it to him, and being smaller than him it must have felt right in her hand when she bought it. He never once complained that it might not be the right weight for the jobs he needed it for, and handled it like a delicate instrument whether he was framing a deck or building a cabinet. It was always the right size.
I use that hammer today when I’m working on projects around my house, and it’s my favourite tool. In the metal studio, hammers are essential for transforming sheet and wire into beautiful pieces of jewelry. Some are used to shape, some to texture, some to smooth out metal. I recently had the chance to use an amazing Fretz planishing hammer to finish a ring. What a gorgeous tool! After using it a few times, I knew I had to have one. It has now joined my growing collection of hammers. I have rawhide and rubber mallets, ball pein, riveting, and chasing hammers and now a planishing hammer.
What the heck is planishing? It’s just a fancy word for forming metal with a hammer.
Planishing (from the Latin planus, “flat”) is a metalworking technique that involves finishing the surface by finely shaping and smoothing sheet metal. This is done by hammering with a planishing panel hammer or slapper file against a shaped surface called a planishing stake that is held in a vice or a mounting hole in a blacksmith’s beak anvil, or against hand-held, shaped, metal tools that are known as Dollies or Anvils.(Wikipedia)
I love that my grandpa taught me how to build things, and that the right tool means a great finish to a project. This gorgeous planishing hammer will be used on so many pieces. It’s wonderfully weighted and balanced, and feels just right in the hand. I’d love to have more Fretz hammers, but for now, this will do.