The hammer and the anvil are the tools that form the foundation of the blacksmith’s craft. There are a lot of different hammers and handled tools used in the shop. The most used hand hammer in blacksmith shops was the cross peen hammer. The peen, or to the English the “pane”, is the working surface on the back of the hammer head. A cross peen hammer has a working surface on the back that is perpendicular, or “crosses” the line of the hammer handle. Both the face and the peen are used to shape and move hot metal. American blacksmiths used a wide variety of cross peen hammers. That is a reflection of the many nations from which our immigrant ancestors came.
The most common cross peen style in the U.S. is the standard cross peen. This can be found in many countries and around the U.S. Another cross peen is a more ornate colonial-style French pattern. Note that the peen is not centered with the center of the hammer face. Next is a small, ornate French pattern cross peen that was made in the Field Blacksmith Shop and is used for small and delicate work. Finally we have the Swedish cross peen which has a thin and tapered peen. That makes the hammer nose heavy and gives the hammer a different feel than the more balanced cross peen. All of these hammers can be used for the same purposes, and yet each has its own strengths and weaknesses. The diversity of hammers reflects not only the varied nations that contributed to the blacksmiths’ craft but also the creativity of the smiths themselves.