Daily Wire Tip: Flattening Wire with Hammers

By on June 6, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip

Question:

Could you give me some tips on how to hammer to flatten wire without leaving marks? I just can’t seem to keep it smooth!

-Lindsay in Goshen, Indiana

Answer:

Hi Lindsay, the main reason some folks have challenges with not denting wire which they are flattening with a chasing hammer, is usually a combination of the tool used and the technique used.

"Chasing" is the process of bringing the hammer down onto metal, and then quickly sweeping it to the side. When we use a metal flat head chasing hammer, often the hand twists, resulting in the edge of the flat head hitting the wire with some force, thus denting it. To remedy this situation, you can either practice bringing the hammer straight down and then off to the side, or invest in a half dome chasing hammer, and never worry about dents again!

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

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14 Comments

  1. avatar

    Jane Elizabeth

    June 6, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Thanks Dale… I’ve been doing this incorrectly for years!

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      June 6, 2011 at 9:12 am

      I am sure you are not alone Jane. I learned how to use a variety of metal hammers years ago, while studying repouss√©. It is also important to know that it doesn’t take a lot of brute strength when chasing metal- use the weight of the hammer’s head and not your stiffened arm.

  2. avatar

    Dharlee

    June 6, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Oh wow I never knew exactly how to do this either! No wonder I get all kinds of marks! Is the half dome hammer not completely flat then?

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      June 6, 2011 at 5:17 pm

      No Dharlee, the ‘half’ dome head is slightly rounded, eliminating the sharp ‘edge’ on the ‘flat’ head chasing hammer.

  3. avatar

    Lindsay

    June 6, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Thanks so much! This is completely new info for me! Very helpful.

  4. avatar

    Emma Guy

    June 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Or you could use a rolling mill if you want uniform flatness

  5. avatar

    Elizabeth

    February 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you for the info really help, love your work!! have a great day at the show!

  6. avatar

    Mary Ann

    June 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Another great piece of information. Thanks for setting me “straight”!

  7. avatar

    Glenn

    September 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Dale, Some type of wire has scratched my flat head hammer and transfers the scratches to my wire. Can the hammer head be sanded down?

    • avatar

      Cindy

      February 4, 2013 at 11:55 am

      I have the same problem, Glenn, with my half dome hammer. Any info would be so helpful!

  8. avatar

    zoraida

    January 3, 2013 at 8:13 am

    Thanks for this great post. I do a lot of wire flattening on my pieces, especially in areas like the curve of loops. I like to flatten spirals as well. Sometimes hammering just some areas gives the wire a ribbon-like appearance which looks great. I often hammer the opposite side of the wire (the part that goes underneath) so that the top side looks flat and smooth instead of textured. I find the dents and scratches disappear easily this way and a little filing goes a long way if necessary. This works well on heavy 14ga and 16ga as well as 18ga.

  9. avatar

    Yvon Cormier

    April 3, 2014 at 5:56 am

    I started out using the 1/2″ copper side of a dual head nylon ring hammer to flatten wire. The copper had the right amount of give when flattening wire. In fact I was able to make my own square wire with it.
    But when I bought a flat 1″ chasing hammer I found I dented the wire and had less control. The roundness of the hammer’s head is exactly what helped.

    So now with your tip Dale, I’ll practice the chasing technique you describe. And I’m going to order a domed chasing hammer too.

  10. avatar

    Jarrod

    January 12, 2015 at 6:14 am

    Good information. Lucky me I found your blog by accident (stumbleupon).
    I have bookmarked it for later!

  11. avatar

    Richard Canary

    August 20, 2015 at 7:58 am

    For a smooth flat surface on wire, I use this method occasionally. I use mostly copper electrical wire and steel bailing wire.

    If you have the following materials, try this:

    Materials: Two slabs of steel at least 1/4″ thick and a heavy mallet or dead-blow hammer.

    On a flat sturdy surface, put the wire between the two pieces of steel and strike the top piece of steel continually until you get the desired shape in the wire. This will flatten the top and bottom pretty equally and it can be very uniform along the length of the wire.

    The smaller the piece of wire, the less power you need to use, so use as small a piece of wire as possible for your project. Annealing the wire if possible makes the work easier, but you may need to anneal
    several times.

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