What type of hammer is best to use for hammering wire? I am trying to achieve a look that is only hammered at the bottom, in this case, for an oval shaped earring. I have used a chasing hammer on 20 gauge wire and the bottom of the earwire comes out too flattend and there is a definite line where you can see where I started hammering. Should I try a plastic mallet, or am I just hammering to much?
Dianna, I prefer a good ball pein hammer hands down for hammering or flattening wire. The reasons why are (1) I can easily see where I need to hammer when using a hammer with a smallish face, and (2) I have better hammer control when using a properly weighted hammer with a face that allows me to see exactly where I am striking the metal.
Most chasing hammers have large faces. A rounded face is ideal for moving metal if you were creating say a bowl, etc. When trying to hammer a tiny flat area with a domed hammer face, the strike zone is in the center of your hammer and not visible, making accuracy very difficult. The flat faced chasing hammers usually have a very straight edge. If you are attempting to hammer wire, say, and tilt that hammer even slightly, you'll end up with an edge of the hammer face imprinting itself onto your soft metal.
A plastic mallet is for hardening metal such as wire without marring it. You could wail on it with great smashing blows and the result would be a tired arm and hardened metal. :) Save this hammer for flattening pieces or hardening wire without fear of leaving marks.
You may be exerting too much force also. 20 gauge wire is small and it does not take much force behind a blow to flatten it out. Try striking it with a good solid blow at the end and then ease up on the amount of force you use as you move up the wire slightly to blend in the flattened area. So, it's a hard blow to flatten and then a softer tap, tap to blend this with the rounded part of the wire. Get yourself a nice ball pein, not too large, and hammering should become more of a joy!