Choosing Hammers for Jewelry

Q: I’m strongly attracted to the Fretz hammers, but I’m having trouble deciding between the mini-hammer set and the precision set. Any considerations that will help me make up my mind?

A: It occurs to me to wonder why you’re buying them. You don’t apparently know which ones you want, which suggests you’re not sure what you’d use them for. So then, are you buying them just because they look cool? They certainly do, and they are well made useful tools, and this old tool junkie has been known to buy tools only because they look sooo cool that I had to have one (or several). So there’s nothing wrong there. But if, as it seems, you’re not sure what you need them for, or what they’ll do for you, are you certain that they will indeed earn their keep for you? Are you hoping that once you have them, you’ll then fall in love with them and find an array of uses you didn’t previously know about? It’s not as though you cannot do anything with any other hammers except the Fretz ones. They’re refined hammers, adapted from larger designs, and it seems to me that unless you’ve found that existing standard hammers don’t do what you want, you may find yourself owning some wonderful-looking decorations, rather than tools that actually add to the repertoire of things you can do.

If in fact you already know exactly what you’ll use them for and why you need them, then it seems to me you’d already know exactly which hammers you need and why. For the money you spend on the Fretz hammers, you can get two or three times as many standard hammers, especially if you shop carefully. Even the premium German Peddinghaus hammers are a good deal cheaper. Of course, if you’re rolling in cash, I’m sure Bill Fretz will appreciate the business, and the (Vietnamese?) factory producing them for him will also be very happy, as will whichever dealer you buy them from. So I’m all in favor of you stimulating our economy and helping keep our tool suppliers in business and all. But I’d also like to think that you’re spending your hard earned cash wisely and intelligently on things you need and can use and which will have a useful place on your workbench. This is a comment from a guy who loves the look of that set of Fretz stakes he bought, which are cool as hell and look great on the bench, but which don’t actually get used all that much. If I had it to do over, I’m pretty sure I could have spent that several hundred dollars more wisely. On the other hand, I’ve got one of his texturing hammers, and that is not duplicated in function by other tools I have, was bought for a specific set of projects, and has earned its keep more than several times over.

by Peter W. Rowe M.F.A., G.G.