Welcome everyone to the TFB Armorer’s Bench! As mentioned in the little blurb, this series will focus on a lot of home armorer and gunsmith activities. In this article sponsored by Wheeler, Tipton, Caldwell, and Frankford Arsenal, I wanted to go over the importance of polishing hammer faces for the at-home armorer/gunsmith. Part of working with tools in order to accomplish a task involves doing the proper maintenance on the tools themselves in hopes of better doing said task. Let’s jump into the importance of polishing hammer faces!
TFB Armorer’s Bench: Quick Tip – Importance of Polishing Hammer Faces
Welcome to our recurring series of Armorer’s Bench which is made possible and brought to you by Wheeler, Tipton, Caldwell, and Frankford Arsenal who are our sponsors. Here, we at TFB hope to inform, entertain, and even inspire any would-be gunsmith or armorer out there. Ideally, with the information I provide and with the help of our sponsors, you can have some useful knowledge pertaining to the conservation and improvement of firearms technology while at the same time sharing experiences and teaching each other new tips and tricks along the way in the comments. Digging deep into what it is to be an armorer or gunsmith has significance but what is important is what those people do to show they’ve earned that title. I am happy to share my experiences and knowledge and hope it is informative!
Make your personal safety a priority:
- Practice proper gun safety. Always make sure before the firearm hits your bench that it is unloaded and safe to be handled.
- Wear the proper safety equipment. The main one would be safety glasses (decent ones) since parts are often under spring tension and you may work with high RPM tools. Other honorable mentions would be latex gloves or a respirator when working with potentially harmful solvents and oils. Also hearing protection when working with loud machinery or test-firing firearms.
- Modifications, alterations, and customizations will void your firearm’s warranty 9.5 times out of 10. Please take that into consideration before attempting any at-home gunsmithing.
- If you are unsure about proper safety practices, disassembly procedures, or warranty standards, stop, put down the tools, and consult a competent gunsmith.
Why Polish Hammer Faces?
The main reason for polishing hammer faces is that the imperfections, scratches, and gouges in the face can leave reverse images on a workpiece when being used. An example could be that you just got done hammering a steel punch with your steel hammer on a pin that was just a real pain to get out of a gas block. That hammer quite possibly and most likely has some surface irregularity on its face from hitting that punch a little harder than you should have. We should polish those irregularities off in order to prevent transferring the imperfections from the hammer face to a workpiece like the side of a receiver when hammering in a pin.
Quick Tip: If you find yourself struggling to do a job with your hammer, do not hit harder just get a bigger/heavier hammer.
When to Polish Hammer Faces?
Deciding when polishing hammer faces is necessary depends on the condition of the face itself. Hammer faces should be polished when there are gouges, dents, or deep impressions in a hammer face. This can be judged by just looking at your hammer face and asking yourself: If I hit a flat surface with this, will it leave more marks than just the round outline of the hammer? Otherwise, try running a fingernail or coin across it and see if it skitters or skips. A visual inspection is really all it takes. The one in the picture below is a good example that I roughed up a bit for you.
How to Polish Hammer Faces?
Polishing hammer faces and metal, in general, has a lot of similarities to smoothing a wooden surface for the woodworkers out there. Basically, you file and sand. The idea is not to get a beautiful mirror finish or totally change the surface to look like something that is not meant to be a tool. You are just getting rid of the irregularities that will leave an impression. Start with a file (Wheeler offers a great one-and-done set) and just get those very pronounced gouges and ridges down to a layer where they turn into scratches. It will probably end up looking like the photo below.
From here, you should sand (I start with 240 grit, just use your best guess on what grit you need), and like I said, you do not need a mirror finish. Identify which direction a majority of the scratches go and sand against the grain so to speak. You do not want to make the scratches longer or more pronounced. We are trying to knock them over and flatten them down into their canyons. When you get to very shallow scratches, this is usually when things are back to “normal” or I would be comfortable with using on a workpiece. The photo below shows what it will look like after.
Quick Tip: Wear safety glasses when doing this. Not because sanding or filing will throw chips or dust at you but because it helps keep your fingers away from your eyes. No one needs metal dust in their eyes.
I decided to keep going and use finer and finer sandpaper and some polishing compound. Below I achieved a mirror-like finish but as you can see, there are still very insignificant scratches and this is to be expected. It is a hammer and will continuously gain ridges, gouges, and scratches. Do not work extremely hard making this tool immaculate. Just be aware of what the littlest thing can do to a workpiece and save yourself some headache of explaining to a friend or customer or even to yourself why there are little impressions around where you pounded in a pin.
Polishing Hammer Faces: That is All Folks!
In closing, thank you all who tuned in this time around to find out some information on polishing hammer faces. I hope this article was informative and I look forward to sharing future tips and tricks with you guys and gals! Make sure when working with firearms that you practice proper gun safety and wear the correct PPE for the job. Safety glasses at the very least. Stay safe out there!
As always, thank you for reading TFB! Be safe out there, have fun while shooting, and we will see you next time for the TFB Armorer’s Bench brought to you by Wheeler, Tipton, Caldwell, and Frankford Arsenal! Also, let us know what you think in the comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.
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