Ball Peen Hammer: 10 Incredible Uses.

One of the most distinctive, yet commonly used hammer is the ball peen hammer. With its unique dual-faced head, it’s not just another hammer in your toolbox.
So, what is a ball peen hammer, and what are the tasks that it is most used?

Let’s find out..

Two Ball Peen hammers

What is a Ball Peen Hammer?

Sometimes known as a machinist’s hammer, the ball peen hammer has a flat face on one end of the head and the other end is rounded like a semi-sphere. This part of the hammer head is known as the peen.
In this case, the peen is spherical in shape and hence the name ball peen hammer.

Man holding a ball peen hammer

While ball peen hammers are typically medium-sized, they are available in various sizes to accommodate different tasks. Both the flat head and peen are designed to impact or hammer the surface.

The flat face is for striking chisels, punches and fasteners such as nails & dowels, while the peen is often used to round off the edges of fasteners or metal pins and shape material.

What is a Ball Peen Hammer Used For?

The ball peen hammer is primarily used for shaping metal by striking the workpiece with the spherical-shaped end.

But it can also be found in several different industries as it offers a wide variety of uses. This versatility makes the ball peen one of the most common hammers on the market.

Top 10 Uses of Ball Peen Hammers

While the following highlights some of the most common uses of a ball peen hammer, it’s worth noting that the versatility of this hammer extends to nearly any task requiring a hammer.

#1. Peening

Peening is a metalworking technique where you strike the metal surface with a hammer to strengthen the metal by inducing compressive stress. The process also increases the workpiece’s resistance to fatigue and cracking.

There are three types of peening, manual, automated, and shot.

  1. Automated peening is typically used in the manufacturing process to stamp surfaces.
  2. Shot peening is a series of small metal objects that are usually rounded that strike the surface. This technique is used for larger scale surface hardening.
  3. Manual peening can be used for strengthening welds on metals. More specifically, peening can help relieve tensile stresses and introduce compressive stresses that improve the durability of welds.
    It can also shape the weld, but its primary purpose is to make the weld stronger and more resilient.

#2.  Blacksmithing & Knife Making

Another common use of the ball peen is to compress metal to make it harder. This is a popular application of the peening process which is typically used in blacksmithing.

Blacksmith using ball peen hammer

The rounded peen strikes the metal surface, which compresses the material and makes it denser. Because it is denser, it becomes harder and more resilient. The peen is used for this task as it is less likely to dent the material compared to the flat head.

#3. Shaping Metal

Because the ball head or peen can distribute its force evenly when striking metal, it is well suited to shape such materials without creating imperfections. While at first, it seems that the flat head would work better on flat surfaces, the truth is that, if the plane of the flat face does not come in contact perfectly parallel to the work surface, the force will be uneven.

In practice, the flat face tends to create more dents or imperfections when shaping the metal.

Metalworking using ball peen hammer
The peen can shape both the surface and the edges to achieve the desired result. By shaping the edges, any sharp corners can be flattened out quickly to help avoid cuts or injuries in case of impact. While shaping the surface can be used to flatten or create unique areas of the material.

At times, shaping is essential not only to strengthen the metal but also to create a new form. However, it is mostly used to help the metal conform to a shape so that it fits onto the surface or joins properly with other metals or materials. Shaping has a practical and artistic approach, allowing for personalization while still being highly practical in fields such as manufacturing, repair, and restoration.

#4. Riveting

The peen end of the hammer is used to shape the ends of rivets. The purpose is to lock the two pieces of the rivet together in the strongest manner possible.

Rivets are quite effective at joining two pieces of metal. But they are also imperfect when first applied. The peen allows for the shaping of the rivet so that its two pieces are solidly joined together.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Pass the rivet through the holes in the pieces to be joined.
  • Place it on a hard surface such as an anvil.
  • Strike the other end of the rivet with the ball peen to deform the rivet’s end, creating a mushroom shape. If required, repeat the process on the other end of the rivet as well.

Mushrooming the rivet head ensures that it can’t pass back through the hole, creating a secure joint. Plus, the edges of the rivets can be shaped to better conform with the metal.

#5. Automotive Repair:

Perhaps the most common use of the ball peen hammer is in the automotive industry, particularly when it comes to repairs and restoration.
It is frequently used for removing dents from metal body panels. Because most body panels on automobiles have curves, the regular flat head of the hammer may create more issues than it solves when hammering out dents.

The ball peen can be used to hammer out dents properly, which restores the part’s original shape to a far greater degree. The flat head can be used to hammer in fasteners or on flat metal parts to remove dents. This is where the versatility of the hammer comes into play, especially when using it to tap nuts, bolts, or other fasteners that are stuck so they can be loosened and removed.

The ball peen hammer also has a significant role in manufacturing, where it aids in reshaping parts for a perfect fit.

#6. Chasing

This method is used to decorate metal by hammering using the peen on one side, which creates protrusion on the other. Chasing has been performed for thousands of years in decorating metal objects, perhaps in most cases used for armor.
The chasing allows for the personalization of the armor or metal that is being fashioned. For decorative objects, chasing is virtually an art form as it shapes the metal in unique ways.

#7. Construction

It is true that claw hammers are more commonly used in construction, especially wood-related ones,  because of their ability to remove fasteners. But ball peen hammers have their uses as well, although it is more useful for metal-related construction tasks.

The flat face of the hammer head can be used for driving nails and breaking up materials, while the ball peen end is especially adept at shaping and smoothing metal objects. It can efficiently adjust brackets, braces, or fasteners, ensuring they fit into place correctly.

The ball peen can also be used to smooth out edges on metal objects like pipes, reducing the risk of injuries from sharp corners. This attribute is crucial when fitting metal pipes or reshaping metal fasteners, allowing for better fit and safety on the job site.

#8. Jewelry Making

Artisan jewelry makers often use ball peen hammers to create texture and intricate designs on the metal.

#9. Musical Instrument Repair

Skilled luthiers make use of small ball peen hammers to do delicate repairs and fine-tuning of string instruments.

#10. Leatherworking

Although not so common, some leatherworkers use ball peen hammers to create interesting textures on leather or to form leather items into specific shapes.

In addition, a ball peen hammer is handy for several handyman and mechanics tasks hacks. One such hack is cutting gaskets to the exact shape and size you want.

Closing Thoughts

In summary, the ball peen hammer is a versatile tool with a broad range of applications. From peening and shaping metal to intricate decorative work, its uses span across various industries like automotive, construction, and blacksmithing. Understanding these uses enables one to appreciate the invaluable role this hammer plays in both practical tasks and artistic endeavors.

I hope you learned some new uses of ball peen hammers and are ready to make the best out of this handy tool.