Having the right tools for the job make everything much easier. After a fair bit of searching I’m pleased to say I’ve now found a source of Picard peening hammers in the UK from Vaughans of Stourbridge. If you’re placing an order, please give me a mention.
I peen all the scythes for my Learn to Mow courses to ensure that students have the sharpest blade possible to learn with. Along with the various peening courses through the year and my own blades it means I peen about 50 or 60 blades each summer and having a good hammer and anvil setup makes all the difference.
These hammers are made by the same company which makes the familiar narrow and flat anvils so they’re specifically designed for the job of peening scythe blades. The faces of the hammer are hardened to match the anvils and slightly convex to avoid dinting the blade through contact with the hammer edges. The ash handle is comfortable and securely fitted with a steel wedge (the epoxied handle of my rivetters hammer came loose after only a few hours).
My only concern was with the finish of the hammer faces, particularly the flat face which still had the grinding marks on it. As your scythe edge will be squeezed between the hammer and anvil to thin it, the faces of the two tools must be polished in order not to leave corresponding marks along the blade which result in a serrated edge and are potential sites for cracks to start. I used wet and dry paper, elbow grease and my garryflex blocks to polish the face and also soften the edges. The team at Vaughans assure me that future hammers will arrive with the grinder marks polished out at the factory.
In use the hammer is well balanced and positive. At 500g it’s slightly lighter than I’d ideally like but this is more than made up for by the face geometry and hardness. Using the flat face I get lovely hammer marks on the scythe approx 5mm long so it’s easy to overlap the blows and ensure every part of the scythe is well peened.