Question about Bench Block

First, thanks for the wire jewelry Q & A! I'm new to working with wire (I love it, even though it has its frustrating moments!) and it has been very helpful.
I just received my bench block. It came soaked in oil and wrapped in paper and plastic. I wiped it clean with paper towel in order to use, but do I have to continue to oil it and store it wrapped when not it use? If yes, what type of oil would I use? If no, can it be stored unwrapped?
Thanks so much for your time!

Stacy's Answer:

Hi Judith!
Most steel tools come with some sort of protective greasy, oily coating on them. While it's a bit messy, it is necessary to keep the tools in good condition during shipping or being stored unused for long periods of time. Remember, they go from the manufacturer to the distributor to the retailer to the consumer. Who knows how long all that takes! Just wipe the gooey stuff off using a dry paper towel. Don't wash it off with water as water causes steel to rust!

It is not necessary to keep the greasy coating on your bench block. You don't want that stuff getting onto the wire/metal you're hammering and I'm sure you'll agree that removing it every time you want to use your block would get real old....real fast! If you were going to store it away for awhile, I would recommend coating it with a fine layer of machine or 3-in-1 oil and putting it in a ziplock-style bag. Steel tools, including your pliers, can get some bits of rust on them from time to time. To remove it, simply lightly buff with 0000 fine steel wool and apply a small amount of machine oil.

Because my block gets used on a regular basis, I leave mine out on my bench 24/7. Maybe once a year I have to hit it with steel wool. So, wipe off that block and have fun creating! Practice, practice, practice!!!!!

Comments for Question about Bench Block

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Sep 23, 2009
Thank you!
by: Judith

Thank you so much for the info on the bench block, I appreciate it so much!

Aug 21, 2012
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the info!

May 04, 2014
Bench block
by: Nick

Hi, I have just started working with a bench block. Is it right that the steel block gets small dents if I miss my target(and small scratches), or is it not what it should be. I use it for stamping, tempering and patterns. Am I doing something wrong or do I send it back. Also it has dark streaks in the steel. The hammers I use are 4oz & 8oz.

May 05, 2014
Dings and Dents on Bench Block
by: Stacy Perry

Hi Nick!

I don't know about the dark streaks in the steel, but the answer to your question is, yes! If you strike the bench block hard enough with another steel tool, you will dent it. The size of the hammers used is not as important as your aim is. As you start learning the art of hammering, etc., one's aim is not always the best. It's easy to miss the metal on top of your bench block or slide off of it. As a result, the block can quickly become dented and yes, scratched aka textured.

For that reason, I advise my students to take a Sharpie-style marker and put a big "X" on one side of their block and not use that side. As your hammering skills improve, you'll make less and less marks on the bench block. Once that happens, you'll have a smooth side to use when it's important and a "textured" side when it's not. Beats having to replace the block - you just simply turn it over.

I hope it's not too late for you to mark one side and only use the damaged side for now.

May 06, 2014
Bench block
by: Nick

Dear Stacy,

Thanks for your reply and advice, I will do as you say. It has given me more confidence.

Thanks again,

Nov 05, 2015
by: Anonymous


Nov 07, 2015
Bench block substitute?
by: Anonymous

Do you have any suggestions for something that can be used in place of a bench block, until I'm able to get one? Thank you!!

Nov 13, 2015
Bench Block Alternatives
by: Stacy

There really are no substitutes for a steel bench block that are simpler or more easily obtained than a steel bench block. I sell them here:!/Steel-Bench-Block/p/14170829/category=2617231
or you can probably pick one up locally at a hobby/craft style store. Most jewelry supply companies carry them too.

You need a steel base to shape and form your metal on. Wood is too soft. Hitting stone, glass or cement is never a good idea for obvious reasons. Polished railroad ties make excellent blocks for forming, hammering, stamping, etc and so do anvils. But small bench blocks are lighter weight, portable and much less expensive.

A tip for when you do acquire a block: Mark a large "X" with a Sharpie-style marker on one side. Use only the unmarked side of the block. After you have good hammer control and no longer leave strike marks on your block, you can reverse the block and have a smooth surface to use. If you don't do this, you'll mark up both sides.

Sometimes the surface texture is unimportant, but whatever texture is on your block will impress itself into the soft metal you're hammering on it. When it's important to have a smooth, blemish-free surface, by turning the "X'ed" block over, you won't have to go out and purchase another block!

Jan 05, 2016
Rubber versus sandbag for hammering
by: Anonymous

Hi! Do you have a preference for deadening sound while hammering? I see rubber/steel combination bench blocks as well as sand leather bags available for underneath steel bench blocks, but I don't know which one is more effective - the quieter, the better for me! Thanks.

Jan 06, 2016
Reducing noise while using a hammer and steel block
by: Stacy

Thicker steel blocks are usually much quieter than the thinner, high pitched ringing ones. Stay away from those 1/2 inch things! I've found that steel blocks slide around quite a bit on sand-filled bags (leather, cloth, etc.) and bounce on "yoga" mat pieces. Both of those problems get real old, real fast. I use the shelf lining holey cushion stuff sold at supermarkets in a roll and it works really well! (it also has many other uses in a jewelry studio!) Just double the stuff up and set the block on top to really helps to deaden the noise.

Sticking magnets to the sides of blocks and anvils helps also. Rubber/steel combo blocks work fairly well too, but I still place them on the shelf liner stuff. I've tried some nice-looking steel on wood blocks, but sadly, their good looks are deceiving and they just do not hold up least not with the use I give them! The steel part quickly becomes unglued from the wood block.

Keeping the noise level down as much as possible is important while hammering to help limit the potential damage to your hearing. But if you're going to be doing a lot of forging or hammering on a block or anvil, it's always a good idea to wear ear protection. I keep a set of 3M sound blocking earmuffs close at hand in my work area.

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