Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hand Power or Machine Power?

As I sat beating a piece of copper into submission my arms began to tire. The hammer seemed to increase in weight with each strike. And then I thought 'there is probably a machine that can put all these little diviets into the metal without wearing so much on the muscles.' I continued striking the blank for an extra wide copper cuff with the ball-peen hammer and continued thinking...

I have seen a machine used to shape and smooth a fender for a bike on one of the chopper shows which would make this task quicker and easier. But being a machine each strike would be the same depth with the same amount of pressure. The resulting texture would not be as rich as hand hammering, as the strength and angle of each strike varies. It also wouldn't have the same energy. The time and physical energy put to hand hammering adds an unseen energy and feel to the metal as it is worked that shows through in the final piece. I have also found a greater sense of accomplishment working in older methods with my stubborn refusal to turn every part of my work over to complex machines. I admit I love my flex shaft for polishing and I would get far less pieces completed if I polished everything by hand from start to finish, but there is just something enriching and fulfilling about using a hand held hammer over a machine or hand saw over a laser cutter and I think that shows through in my work when the pieces are finished. So although I will acquiesce to using some mechanized processes I don't think I will ever give up the fun, frustration, and weariness that comes from working by my own physical power.

The 2 extra large (2" x 11") copper cuffs I am currently working on complete with hammer I am using, resting on my pounding block.


  1. Looking forward to seeing the bracelets finished. Hope you will show them. I haven't tried sheet copper yet but love copper and I'm sure I will.

  2. I like working with sheet copper. The only drawback I have found is it tends to have a teeny bit more of a pitted surface than the other sheet metals so it needs more surface sanding if you are going for a mirror finish. I have photos of the finished bracelets and plan on putting them up in the next blog post I write.
    Thank you for stopping by!