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what steel are hammers made of?

posted in 09/27/2023
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As a blacksmith, purchasing a suitable steel hammer for forging is expensive. If you need a new hammer or want to expand your supply, consider making your hammer from steel.

A hammer, one of the oldest and most utilized tools in human history, is a handheld device designed to deliver a blow to an object. From the Stone Age era to CRESTONE modern workshops, hammers have evolved, yet their fundamental purpose remains the same: to apply force.

But what exactly makes a hammer strong, durable, and effective? It all comes down to the materials it’s made from. What steel is the hammer made of? Explore the fascinating world of hammer making with CRESTONE hammer manufacturers and find the answers to your questions!

What steel are hammers made of

Types of steel used in hammer manufacturing

what kind of steel are hammers made from? Each type of steel has its advantages and specific uses. The choice of steel depends on the hammer’s intended use, the environment in which it will be used, and the level of durability required. From the resilient high-carbon steel to the corrosion-resistant stainless steel, the world of hammers is as diverse as the tasks they are designed to perform.

Mild steel:

typically exists in two forms, A36 and 1018, with the latter known for its greater purity. Despite its widespread availability in shops and from suppliers of steel, mild steel lacks the necessary carbon content to harden, hence it’s not a suitable material for crafting knife steel.

High-Carbon Steel

High-carbon steel is one of the most commonly used materials in hammer manufacturing due to its durability and hardness. The carbon content in this steel ranges from 0.5% to 1.5%, giving the hammer the ability to withstand repeated strikes without deforming.

Drop-Forged Steel

Drop forging is a process used to shape metal, often steel, by heating it and then hammering it into a die. The result is a very strong and durable hammer. Drop-forged steel hammers are recognized for their toughness and resistance to wear and tear.

Specialty Steels

Specialty steels, such as tool steels, are often used in the manufacture of hammers. These steels are alloyed with other elements like tungsten, molybdenum, and vanadium to enhance specific properties like hardness, toughness, and resistance to wear and abrasion.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel hammers are favored for their corrosion-resistant properties. They are often used in environments where they may be exposed to corrosive substances or moisture. While not as hard as high-carbon or drop-forged steel, stainless steel hammers are durable and can withstand a fair amount of force.

Alloy Steel

Alloy steel is a mixture of several metals, including nickel and chromium. This type of steel is known for its strength and durability. Alloy steel hammers are resistant to wear, and many have high impact resistance, making them suitable for heavy-duty tasks.

Manganese Steel

Also known as Hadfield steel, after its inventor Sir Robert Hadfield, manganese steel is renowned for its high impact strength and resistance to abrasion. Hammers made from this material are typically used in heavy-duty, high-impact applications.

How do alloying elements affect the properties of steel?

CRSYONE hammer manufacturers in China use a variety of steels for their hammers, but the most common include 4140, 4340 and 1045-1060 steels. These steels offer better weldability, hardness and general suitability for hammers than comparable steels.

1) 1080 steel

1080 is a straight forward high carbon steel, favored for its ease of use and superior performance. It is the material used in the darker layers of the Damascus steel pattern. The relaxed nature of the steel makes 1080 steel the steel of choice for novice knifemakers and bladesmiths, but its high performance standards also appeal to skilled bladesmiths.

With a carbon content of 0.8%, this steel is perfectly balanced for a variety of uses. It allows for a wide range of forgeable temperatures, tolerating a high yellow when welded and resisting stress fractures effectively around 1500°F (816°C).

Heat treating

  • Elevate the temperature to 1500°F (816°C), slightly beyond the critical point, followed by a warm oil quench.
  • Implement a double tempering process, each cycle lasting for 2 hours, with cooling to ambient temperature in between.
  • Opt for 400°F (204°C) to achieve maximum hardness, or select 425°F (218°C) for enhanced toughness and flexibility.

2) 15n20 steel

15n20 steel is a high carbon, high nickel alloy steel that is strong, durable and adaptable. Its nickel content resists the ferric chloride used in blade etching, resulting in a crisp pattern.

With a carbon content of 0.75%, 15n20 behaves much like 1080 but has a distinct heat treatment and ultimate hardness. The incorporation of nickel in 15n20 steel enhances its toughness slightly and enables it to achieve a sharper edge compared to many other high-carbon steels.

Heat treating

  • Elevate the temperature to 1500°F (816°C), slightly above the critical point, and then immerse in warm oil.
  • Carry out two tempering processes, each lasting for an hour, allowing it to cool down to ambient temperature in between.
  • For maximum hardness, use a temperature of 350°F (177°C), and for enhanced toughness and flexibility, opt for 400°F (204°C).
L-6 Hammers made of steel

3) L-6 steel

L-6 is a steel variant with a high concentration of nickel, making it perfect for crafting tools like swords, large knives, and axes that require exceptional toughness to withstand high-stress circumstances. Compared to more forgiving steels like 1080 and 15n20, L-6 steel has a more specific forging temperature range, meaning it can’t be forged at as high or low temperatures as those other steel types.

Heat treating

  • Elevate the temperature to a range of 1500°F-1550°F (816°C-843°C), sustain for a duration of 10-30 minutes, followed by a warm oil quench.
  • For maximum hardness, perform a double tempering process at 350°F (177°C), each cycle lasting for 2 hours.
  • To achieve high strength and durability in blades, temper at 450°F (232°C).
  • For cold work tools, temper within the temperature bracket of 500°F-600°F (260°C-316°C).
Our tools made from 4140 steel

4) 4140 steel

4140 is an alloy steel that shares many of the characteristics of 4340 steel, such as hardness and average forging temperature. It is commonly used in industries that require higher material strength than mild steel. It is primarily used for industrial purposes. For blacksmiths, it is often used to make difficult tools that do not require sharp edges to be maintained.

Like 1045 steel, 4140 is suitable for hammers and other tools because it is ductile and easy to maintain. 4140 is easier to cut than 4340, so if you want a hammer that has the hardness of 4340 steel but is easier to weld, then 4140 is for you. 4140 is one of the less expensive steels used for forging.

The strength and durability of 4140 steel gives it an edge in hammering compared to the medium hardness and strength of 1045. Therefore, you must consider the purpose of the hammer before choosing a steel, as you may need 4140 for large projects.

Heat treating

  • Elevate the temperature to 1550°F (843°C), slightly beyond the critical threshold, followed by a warm oil quenching process.
  • Execute a two-stage tempering protocol, each stage lasting 2 hours, with a cooling period at ambient temperature in between.
  • Opt for a 400°F (204°C) setting to achieve superior hardness or a 450°F (232°C) setting for enhanced toughness and durability.

5) 4340 steel

4340 is an enhanced variant of 4140, containing a higher proportion of nickel; this allows it to retain edges more effectively and withstand high temperatures better. In the context of blacksmithing or bladesmithing, we opt for 4340 steel for the creation of our hammer eye drifts, and it is an outstanding selection for analogous tooling.

4340 steel is a hard alloy steel known for its durability. When it is heat-treated and forged, it can become hard while retaining toughness.

Although the hardness of 4340 makes it a good candidate for hammers, it can be challenging to cut. For easier welding and forging, you can try 1045-1060 steel.

Heat treating

  • To anneal 4340 steel, start at 1525ºF (830ºC) and cool it down to 1350ºF (730ºC). Next, you should cool it down to a temperature of 610ºC (1130ºF) at 20º per hour, allowing you to complete the full annealing process.
  • 4340 steel should be normalized during heat treatment. Normalizing helps create uniformity in your hammer by heating the metal to a very high temperature, “normalizing” the hardness, then cooling it again. 4340 should be normalized to a temperature of approximately 815ºC (1500ºF).
  • After normalization, the steel should be hardened between 815 – 845ºC (1500 – 1550ºF) and oil quenched. It can also be hardened using flame or induction hardening.

6) 1045-1060 steel

Carbon Steel 1045-1060 steel is an intermediate grade steel with medium strength and hardness. The mild properties make it a great choice for hammers, especially when home welding.

Ensuring that the hammer isn’t too hard or too strong is critical to preventing damage to the anvil, so if you have a poor quality anvil steel, 1045 may be a good choice.

While it’s not as tough as 4340, it’s easier to weld and can be handled even by novice blacksmiths.

It cuts well and is easy to hammer. However, it is not as hard or strong as 4140 steel, so it may only last a short time.

Grade 1045 is considered one of the easiest tool steels to work with because of its fast forging speed and relatively easy heat treatment.

Heat treating

  • To make 1045 steel, start at about 2200ºF (1205ºC) and work up to a temperature between about 1650-1700ºF (900-925ºC).
  • Annealing of 1045 steel is done at 1450ºF (790-870ºC), then the steel part is furnace-cooled until the metal reaches room temperature.
  • Normalizing 1045 steel should be done at about 925ºC (1700ºF), and the normalized steel should be cooled in still air. You can harden this steel to about 845ºC (1550ºF) to make it suitable for hammering and perform an oil or water quench to strengthen its hardness.
  • Finally, the tempering treatment can be between 150-200ºC (300-400ºF) and will reduce the stress on the steel, so your hammer lasts longer.

7) h-13 steel

H13 is a type of tool steel designed for hot work, implying it maintains its shape even under high heat conditions, such as when shaping or punching hot steel during various processes. It is considered the benchmark in the industry for hot dies, punches, and drifts.

H13 steel is considerably tougher to forge compared to other steels, and meticulous attention should be given during heat treatment since it hardens in air. Misuse of this steel can lead to the creation of tools that may chip or damage other tools, posing a potential risk of injury.

Heat treating

  • Elevate temperature to 1850°F (1010°C), sustain for a duration of 15-40 minutes, followed by an air quench at room temperature.
  • Implement a dual tempering process, each cycle lasting for 2 hours, with cooling to ambient temperature in between cycles.
  • To achieve maximum hardness, use a temperature of 1000°F (538°C).
  • Opt for 1125°F (607°C) to enhance toughness and durability.
We make hammers from high carbon steel.

Which type of steel is best for different types of hammers

The type of steel used in a hammer is only one factor influencing its performance. The design of the hammer, including its weight, shape, and handle material, also plays a significant role.

Ram’s Horn Hammer

This is a specialized type of blacksmithing hammer used for forging metal. It would typically be made from medium to high carbon steel (like AISI 1045 or 4140). The high carbon content allows the hammer face to be hardened to withstand the impacts of blacksmithing.

Round Head Hammer (Ball-Peen Hammer)

This type of hammer is often used in metalworking. It has one flat face and one rounded face. The round face (“peen”) is used for shaping and the flat face for striking. These are typically made from high carbon steel (like AISI 4140 or 1055) so they can be hardened and tempered to withstand repeated strikes against metal.

Sledge Hammer

Sledge hammers are heavy hammers primarily used for demolition work. They need to be very tough and resistant to chipping or breaking, so they’re often made from medium carbon steel (like AISI 1045). This provides a good balance between hardness and toughness.


Mallets are typically used for tasks that require softer blows, like woodworking or leatherworking. They are typically made from softer materials like rubber, wood, or rawhide rather than steel to prevent damage to the workpiece.

Claw Hammer

Claw hammers are one of the most common types of hammers used to drive in and pull out nails. The claw on the side of the hammer head is used to pry up nails.CRESTONE claw hammer manufacturers typically make claw hammers out of high carbon steel, such as AISI 1055, for durability and longevity.


What metal are hammers made from? The main steels for making hammers are 4140, 4340, and 1045 steel. If you’re making hammers in your forge, you’ll want to use 1045 steel because of its convenience and simplicity.

However, if you are looking for a steel that will make a strong and durable hammer, you can use 4340 or 4140.

In general, 4140 steel and 4340 steel are tough and strong, making them ideal for use during forging and against your anvil.

To make a high-quality hammer at a competitive price, you have to make your hammer using 4140 steel.

CRESTONE: hammer manufacturers

CRESTONE prides itself on being the leading manufacturer of high quality hammers. Our craftsmanship is second to none, and each piece is carefully designed to be durable and efficient.

CRESTONE welcomes you to explore our wide assortment of hammers and services, visit our state-of-the-art hand tools factory, and see the dedication and precision we put into every product. Don’t just take our word for it, buy a CRESTONE hammer today and feel the difference quality makes. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or for more information.

what steel are hammers made of, people also ask:

Hammer handles are usually made of wood, metal, or fiberglass. Making them depends on the materials used but usually involves cutting, shaping, and drilling.

First, a piece of hardwood is cut to size for the wooden handle. The wood is then sanded to create a smooth finish. Next, the metal head of the hammer is bored into the handle and secured with a wedge or wooden plug.

Nails can also be used to secure the head to the handle.

For a metal handle, the metal bars are cut to the correct length, shaped, and bored for the hammerhead. The rods are then rolled and shaped with a hammer on a wheel for added texture and grip. After getting the desired shape, the handle is painted or powder-coated.

For fiberglass handles, molds are filled with a metal substance that hardens and forms like the final product. After cooling, the handle is sanded, primed, painted, or powder coated.

Of the recommended steel grades, CRESTONE’s professional advice is to go for 1045. 1045’s superiority lies in its water-hardening properties, eliminating the need for a complex heating procedure as in the case of 4140. CRESTONE has produced both types of hammers and can attest to their comparable levels of performance. However, the advantage of the 1045 is its ease of forging.

Making hammers from high carbon steel is an excellent choice, high carbon steel is hard and durable and has a high degree of flexibility which makes it ideal for making hammers. It is also harder than standard mild steel, giving the finished tool greater strength and durability.

In addition to hardness and strength, high carbon steel is also highly resistant to corrosion, so hammers can last a long time. Finally, high carbon steel hammers are often heat-treated to maintain balance and strength even after repeated use.

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