Convert Ball Peen to Straight Peen Hammer

We were on vacation in Murphy NC.  Beautiful place. On one of my early walks with the dog, I saw a wood handle in sticking out from brush at the base of a utility pole.  I pulled it out and found an old 24oz ball peen hammer.  It was in pretty bad shape with rust and had ants crawling all over it, so I left it in plain sight so its owner might claim it.  Four days later it was still there.  I took a closer look. The flat face had been crudely scored with an angle grinder cut off wheel for more traction.   I thought this was kind of odd.  Usually people don’t want traction on a ball peen hammer.  Then I looked up and down the pole.  There were no nails within standing reach, but 7 foot up there were some climbing spikes.  This ball peen hammer was somebody’s makeshift lineman’s hammer.  The traction was for driving climbing spikes and other large things into utility poles.  It has been lost by a lineman and was unclaimed, so it came home with me.

Ball peen hammer in bad shape.

The problem.  I don’t need a ball peen hammer, I have several of varying sizes and two the same size as my newly rescued hammer.  However, I do need a straight peen hammer for blacksmithing.  A straight peen hammer has the peen in line with the handle.  As opposed to the cross-peen being at a right angle to the handle.   A straight peen is used to spread red hot metal left and fight from the peen.  I wasn’t sure, but I was hoping there was enough mass in the ball to turn that into the straight peen and then keep the flat head for flattening.  It is a common pattern to switch back and forth between the peen and the flat.  I scoured the internet to see if anyone had already done this, but found nothing… so I was thinking this might not work.

I used a hack saw to cut off the handle, then put the head in the forge to heat.

hot ball peen hammer head on anvil.

The tongs I have weren’t big enough to hold the hammer head so I had to use some light duty crucible tongs to get the head out of the forge and to the 30Kg anvil.  From there I grabbed it with some self-adjusting pliers.  The pliers are well suited to odd forge work because they can quickly grab odd shaped things and are just long enough to keep your hands away from the heat.

Red hot hammer head ready for forging.

With the hammer held securely, I could hit the round head with my cross peen hammer and flatten it out.

Hammer head in the propane forge.

It took a few heats to work it down to the peen shape. It was pretty cool to see the hammer head red hot in the propane forge.

Straight peen hammer head in front of forge.


Eventually it took shape.   I also hammered on the flat face to remove the lines cut in it by it’s previous owner.  Fortunately they pounded out pretty easily. While it was  hot from its last heat, I quenched the peen side and the flat side in oil to harden them.    After that I cleaned up the faces with a flap disk on my angle grinder.



I originally thought the handle it came with was too far gone, but on further inspection, it was in pretty good shape once I removed the overly weathered layer with a card scraper.  So I cleaned it up before mounting it back on the hammer it came from.  Gave it a few coats of pure tung oil and called it done.  It has a decent weight for the task and the peen came out to a good size for peening work.  So it answered my original question of can you make a straight peen hammer from a ball peen hammer.  Yes you can.