In the early 90s I created a line of jewelry which used anticlastic and synclastic shapes made from strips of gold and silver. The need for efficient hammers and stakes inspired me to develop and make a urethane-headed hammer and stakes which would form the shapes I needed.
The first version of the hammer was a bit clunky, but it worked. I understood the properties of urethane and thought it would be a great hammer-head material. Its ability to change its shape when it forms metal around a stake, then return to its original shape, intrigued me. Also, its ability to move metal without marring the metal made it the perfect material for my project. The first hammer consisted of a head which was split into two halves, which clamped the urethane.
At the same time I was playing around with a urethane hammer, I was also forging taper punches into sinusoidal stakes. The shapes one can make forging stakes by hand are limited and not exactly what I needed. So I tried a new approach, making stakes on my manual lathe.
Not only did the lathe allow me to make a stake of just the right design, but it also allowed me to make a forming stake with far less vibration and give than the forged versions.
Now I had to devise a better method to hold these stakes. I had been using my machinist vise to hold my stakes, but the jaws of this vise are weakest when hammering, and the stakes tended to slide out of the jaws with each hammer blow. This led to the creation of the vertical vise. Again, the first one I made was created just for me. It was a bit crude but it did the job.
I realized that other metalsmiths could make use of my innovations, so I further developed these tools so they could be manufactured with more accuracy and consistency. I recently revisited the idea of the hammer, stakes and vertical vise, and redesigned them from the ground up to be easier to use with much more flexibility. I’m proud to offer them as a complete solution for every jeweler who has faced the same problems I did when I wanted to make synclastic and anticlastic shapes.
We’ve made a video showing how these new tools work. Enjoy!