Adjustable, Piston-Damped Hammer

When all you have is a hammer, every problem is a constant quest for an even better hammer, as the popular saying goes. At least, that seems to be [Ebenisterie Éloïse]’s situation. She wanted a deadblow hammer that not only had an aesthetically pleasing wood and brass construction, but also one that included adjustable dampers to make sure that each hammer swing is as efficient as possible.

For those unfamiliar with specialty hammers, dead blow hammers typically have some movable mass such as sand or lead shot within the hammer head. This mass shifts forward when the hammer strikes an object, reducing rebound of the hammer off of the object and transferring more energy into each strike. This hammer omits a passive mass in favor of four custom-machined brass tubes, each of which holds a weighted fluid, a spring, and brass weight. Each piston acts as a damper in a similar way to a shock absorber on a vehicle, and a screw and o-ring at the top of each one allows them to be adjustable by adding different weight fluids as needed. Some detailed testing of the pistons shows a marked improvement over any of the passive mass varieties as well.

Not only is this an incredible amount of detail and precision for a tool that is often wielded in a non-precise way (at least among those of us for who aren’t skilled craftspeople), but it is also made out of wood, leather, and brass which gives it an improved look and feel over a plastic and fiberglass hammer that is typical of most modern deadblow hammers. It even rivals this engineer’s hammer with its intricate custom engraving in craftsmanship alone.

Thanks to [Keith] for the tip!

27 thoughts on “Adjustable, Piston-Damped Hammer

  1. Deadblow hammer use is not about efficiency, but more on the fact that the piece that is hammered do not rebound itself as the hammer absorb the rebound.
    So very useful for assembly or clamping a piece in a machinist vise.

    1. To expand on this: a hammer that bounces off the workpiece with the same velocity it came swinging in with, transmits twice the energy to the workpiece as a hammer that hits and stops.
      Deadblow hammers significantly reduce the peak energy of a strike, applying less energy over a longer time, so they are much less likely to damage the surface of the workpiece. (This is because some of the mass is lagging the hammer, and strikes the back face of the hammer after it has already struck the workpiece.)

  2. I still hold a grudge on a college professor for correcting my statement a hammer should have weight. “Haha no! A hammer should have the least amount of weight”. And then he praised a picture of a sleek titanium ergonomic+ designer hammer. He gave classes on design. I don’t think he had done much hammering in his life and I was too nice a kid to defend my claim.
    There, I got it out.

    1. Really depends on how you are trying to abuse/use your hammer, or the task at hand – a sledge hammer with no mass is bloody pointless, from what I understand smithing really does want some heavier hammers, but a pin hammer, panel beating hammer, normal carpenters hammer really doesn’t need much mass, the tiny points of nails and somewhat delicate touch needed to panel beat mean you might well be better off with the lightest hammer going – you have greater control of where and how the head goes because its lighter so easier to control, and for those situations control is vastly more important than power…

      That said I am often guilty of using my favourite one handed sledge hammer for every task its striking face isn’t too big – I’m strong enough to deal with the weight pretty well, and like the handle on that hammer alot – because it fits my hand much better than most of the rest of the collection (yes I have a collection of hammers at least as heavy as I am, probably considerably heavier… – mostly Granddad’s (He was a mine engineer among other things so some of them are very big), Dad/Uncle’s ‘lost’ hammers – didn’t mean to filch them but they ended up in my pile, and a few I’ve bought myself before inheriting all of Granddad’s…).

    1. Me too. And among the first things we were instructed in school metal shop class was for any student with long hair to wear a hairnet not only when using the lathes, drill press but for the duration of the class.

  3. She is probably the most talented woodworker/artist/all around craftsman I have ever seen. If you havent already I recommend checking out her YouTube channel and her Makers Playground posts.

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