Article: Hammering and Forging Safety GuidelinesArticle: Hammering and Forging Safety Guidelines

Metalsmithing 101: Introduction to Metalsmithing

Article: Hammering and Forging Safety Guidelines

HomeCoursesMetalsmithing 101: Introduction to MetalsmithingArticle: Hammering and Forging Safety Guidelines

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By Charles Lewton-BrainMore from this author

Goldsmiths and silversmiths use hammers frequently in their work, silversmiths especially. A regular trade goldsmith might use a bench hammer with a ring on a mandrel twenty or more times a day. Blacksmithing operations use coal fires, gas torches and kilns. View these Hammering and Forging Safety Guidelines for your safety.


See warnings related to "Blacksmithing" for more information. Vibration. Eye dangers from shattering hammers and flying bits of material. CTDs and ergonomic issues. Hearing damage due to noise. In the special safety issue of The Crafts Report, the American Academy of Otolaryngology notes that "as a general rule, noise may damage your hearing if you have to shout over background noise to make yourself heard, if the noise hurts your ears, if it makes your ears ring, or if you are slightly deaf for several hours after exposure to the noise" (33). Hot forging involves burning fuel that may produce carbon monoxide; make sure to ventilate well. Gas handling issues, coal dust and other dangers are present when hot-forging steel.


Not much. Depends upon the material being hammered. For instance, hammering a lot of copper exposes you to a great deal of copper oxide, which can affect you. Possible issues with the oil or sealer used for the handle.


Flying hammer heads, broken shards of hammer head or material slicing into your eyes. Vibration injury or other musculoskeletal injury. Hearing damage.


Primarily a problem for silversmiths and others who hammer for long periods of time. Examine working heights and posture carefully. Have a specialist watch you once to twice to identify things you are doing wrong. Take frequent breaks, stretch and change your body position. Change working heights during the work day. Use your shoulder preferentially, then your elbow,and try not to use your wrist much at all when hammering.


See "Fire Safety Rules". A blacksmith's trick is to hammer on a piece of bar stock so fast that it heats up to a red glow and is then used to light the fire. I have seen this done. It is not a likely problem for goldsmiths. The oils (and their thinners) used on hammer handles are flammable. Sparks are possible when hammering.

Exposure Routes

Eyes, body, hearing, possibly skin with oils, inhalation of dusts raised by hammering.

Safety Precautions to Use

  • Wear eye protection when hammering.
  • Hearing protection is essential.
  • Change your posture and working height now and then.
  • Take breaks every forty-five minutes or so and do something different now and then.
  • Do not use your wrist much when hammering; use your elbow sparingly, your shoulder most. Listen to your body! Snap the hammer forwards a bit at the bottom of the swing-let go and stop pushing then and the hammer will snap itself back up, lifting itself so you have to do less work.
  • Keep your forging area separate from the work areas of others, to reduce the damage to their hearing. As well as damaging your ears, noise can distract you or your coworkers, which can lead to injury if they're doing something requiring concentration. It's also just irritating; to quote the American Association of Otolaryngology, "some people react to loud noise with anxiety and irritability, an increase in pulse rate and blood pressure, or an increase in stomach acid." (55).
  • Wear safety glasses during hot forging and when hammering in general. Protective clothing (long sleeves, leather shoes, a face shield if sparks are flying around) is also recommended for hot forging.
  • Tie your hair back if it's long.
  • "Other protective measures with hot forging should include ice for treatment of minor burns, salted water for heat stress, and a cool room for work breaks" (McCann, AB! 436).

Substitution Options to Reduce Risk

Die forming, spinning, casting, pressing, construction methods.

The Jewelry Workshop Safety Report - All rights reserved internationally. Copyright © Charles Lewton-Brain. Users have permission to download the information and share it as long as no money is made-no commercial use of this information is allowed without permission in writing from Charles Lewton-Brain.

You assume all responsibility and risk for the use of the safety resources available on or through this web page. The International Gem Society LLC does not assume any liability for the materials, information and opinions provided on, or available through, this web page. No advice or information provided by this website shall create any warranty. Reliance on such advice, information or the content of this web page is solely at your own risk, including without limitation any safety guidelines, resources or precautions, or any other information related to safety that may be available on or through this web page. The International Gem Society LLC disclaims any liability for injury, death or damages resulting from the use thereof.

Charles Lewton-Brain

Master goldsmith Charles Lewton-Brain trained, studied and worked in Germany, Canada and the United States to learn the skills he uses. Charles Lewton-Brain is one of the original creators of Ganoksin.

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