A Tour of Fretz Hammers and Their Uses

This illustrated article explains the uses of all of the different the Fretz hammers, including planishing, raising and texturing.

Last edited: 2/11/2019

An assortment of Fretz hammers

A Tour of Fretz Hammers and Their Uses

Over the years, I've had the pleasure of explaining all the different Fretz® hammers and their uses at various trade shows such as the Society of North American Goldsmith's Conference and JCK. At those shows, I have answered the question, "What's this one used for?" countless times. Following is an outline of the answers I give to this question for the planishing, raising, and embossing hammers.

Planishing

Planishing is smoothing metal against a stake by making the blows overlap. This is a stretching technique which also forms the metal to the underlying stake.

HMR-1 & HMR-101 Planishing Hammers

The planishing hammer is for smoothing metal. The flat side will refine the hammer marks from the rounded side of the planishing hammer to a nearly smooth finish. This hammer is also used to size rings, form bezels and for general forming of metal against mandrels and stakes. This is the most frequently used hammer.

The HMR-101 hammer planishing on the Double-Convex Stake
The HMR-101 hammer planishing on the Double-Convex Stake.
HMR-1 Hammer planishing on the Double-Convex Stake
HMR-1 Hammer planishing on the Double-Convex Stake. The flat face can refine hammer marks to a nearly smooth finish.
HMR-1 flat planishing a bezel
HMR-1 flat planishing a bezel.

HMR-14 Texturing Hammer "Raw Silk"

This planishing hammer has randomly ground heads that give the texture of raw silk on either curved or flat metal. The texture is similar to one that could be rolled onto flat metal. The advantage of making the texture with the hammer is you can texture dimensional shapes.

Texture made with the HMR-14 Raw Silk hammer
Texture made with the HMR-14 "Raw Silk" hammer.

Raising

Raising is the compression of metal down to the stake without stretching it. The trick is to angle the metal off the stake so that there is an air gap for the compression. The following hammers were designed for raising.

HMR-2 & HMR-102 Wide Raising Hammer

The Wide Raising Hammer can be used to raise sheet metal into a bowl against a wooden stake or a metal t-stake. It is also useful for raising in cylinders to form a concave shape. This same hammer also makes it possible to planish subtle concave shapes.

HMR-2 Wide Raising on a Convex/Concave Stake
HMR-2 Wide Raising on a Convex/Concave Stake.
HMR-2 Wide Raising on the Insert Stake Set
HMR-2 Wide Raising on the Insert Stake Set.

HMR-3 & HMR-103 Narrow Raising Hammers

The Narrow Raising Hammer is for raising small cylinders and concave shapes. The thinner heads allow the hammer to fit into tighter curves for raising and planishing. It is also useful for forging and texturing.

HMR-3 Narrow Raising on a Shell Forming Stake
HMR-3 Narrow Raising on a Shell Forming Stake.

HMR-8 Rounded Narrow Raising/Embossing Hammer

The Rounded Narrow Raising Hammer can emboss narrow pod or oblong shapes. Smoother overlapping marks are possible, and for long, thin shapes, this hammer is better than a round embossing hammer.

HMR-8 Planishing on a Fluting Stake
HMR-8 Planishing on a Fluting Stake.

HMR-9 Rounded Wide Raising/Embossing Hammer

The wider, longer profile of this hammer makes it ideal to block bowls and broader width strips into concave shapes. As with all embossing hammers, this hammer is intended to stretch the metal from the inside. Here's a photo of the HMR-9 in action. The bracelet being formed has been filled with red pitch.

HMR-9 Rounded Wide Raising/Embossing Hammer
HMR-9 Rounded Wide Raising/Embossing Hammer.

HMR-12 Sharp Texturing/Raising Hammer

The Texturing Hammer is primarily for rings and other metal surfaces when very detailed texturing is required.

HMR-12 texturing on a bezel-forming stake
HMR-12 texturing on a bezel-forming stake.

Embossing

Embossing is the stretching of metal by hammering from the inside. Blocking is a form of embossing when the metal is hammered into a cavity. Free form embossing is done with a sandbag.

The size of the hammer will be dictated by the size of the work. Small light projects will use the Jeweler's Hammers (HMR-1 – 5) and the larger work will demand the Silversmith's Hammers (HMR 101 – 105).

HMR-4 & HMR-104 Large Embossing Hammer

The Large Embossing Hammer is used to dome metal from the inside. The metal is stretched from the inside as it is supported on a sand bag or a depression carved in wood. Doming a piece of metal before raising makes it easier to control because the shape becomes rigid. The embossing hammer also leaves a very interesting dimpled texture on flat and slightly domed metal when hammering on the outside of a form against a stake.

HMR-4 embossing a cup
HMR-4 embossing a cup. A sandbag is an ideal work surface for this kind of embossing.

HMR-5 & HMR105 Small Embossing Hammer

The Small Embossing Hammer is used to form small raised areas by hammering from the inside in preparation for chasing or general shaping. This hammer leaves a very fine dimpled texture that can be greatly varied by the strength of the blow. Here it is embossing on a low-dome mushroom stake.

HMR-5 shown embossing on a miniature Low-Dome Mushroom Stake
HMR-5 shown embossing on a miniature Low-Dome Mushroom Stake.

HMR-7 and HMR-107 Double Ended Insert Hammer

The versatile Double Insert Hammer has nine (HMR-7) or 11 (HMR-107) plastic ends that work metal without leaving marks. The range of shapes of the inserts duplicates planishing, embossing and raising hammers. This hammer is useful for forming metal without stretching. It has enough weight to move metal with assurance. It can also be used to make extremely tight curves when raising portions of jewelry.

The HMR-7 Double Insert Hammer
The HMR-7 Double Insert Hammer.
The Double Insert Hammer with Flat Insert For Forming
The Double Insert Hammer with Flat Insert For Forming.
Forming a Bezel with the Double Insert Hammer
Forming a Bezel with the Double Insert Hammer.
The Double Insert Hammer with Sharp Cross Pein Insert
The Double Insert Hammer with Sharp Cross Pein Insert.
The Double Insert Hammer with the widest raising insert attached
The Double Insert Hammer with the widest raising insert attached. The stake is the Convex/Concave stake.
Anticlastic raising with the Double Insert Hammer and a Shell Stake
Anticlastic raising with the Double Insert Hammer and a Shell Stake.