Planishing Hammer vs English Wheel: Which is Right for You?

Metalworking is a time-honored craft that has been around for centuries. As technology has advanced, so too have the tools and techniques used to shape metal into various forms. Two of the most popular tools in a metalworker’s arsenal are the planishing hammer and the English wheel. Both tools are used to shape metal, but they do so in different ways. In this article, we will explore the differences between these two tools and help you determine which is right for you.

Planishing Hammer

A planishing hammer is a tool used to shape metal by striking it with a series of small blows. The hammer’s head is typically made of a hardened steel ball, which is attached to a handle. The metal being shaped is placed on an anvil, and the hammer is used to strike it repeatedly until it takes on the desired shape. Planishing hammers come in a variety of sizes, with some designed for use with hand-held, air-powered or hydraulic power. They are commonly used to shape small metal parts like fenders, hoods, or motorcycle tanks, and can also be used to smooth out welds or other irregularities.

This short video from Eastwood shows a planishing hammer in action:

English Wheel

An English wheel is a tool used to shape metal by rolling it between two wheels. The wheels are typically made of steel and are shaped to form the desired curve or contour. The metal being shaped is placed between 2 wheels, while the piece of metal being shaped is moved back and forth over the dies, applying pressure to shape it. English wheels are capable of creating a much smoother finish than a planishing hammer and are often used for larger projects like car bodies or aircraft wings.

Here’s another video from Eastwood showing how you can use an English wheel to form sheetmetal:

Which is right for you?

Choosing between a planishing hammer and an English wheel depends on several factors, including the type of metalworking project you are working on, the size of the metal parts you are shaping, and the level of precision you require.

If you are working on small projects and require a high degree of precision, a planishing hammer may be the right tool for you. It is relatively easy to use and can quickly shape small parts with a high degree of accuracy.

On the other hand, if you are working on larger projects and need a smoother finish, an English wheel may be the better choice. English wheels require a bit more skill and practice to use, but they are capable of shaping larger parts with a smoother finish.

Ultimately, the choice between a planishing hammer and an English wheel comes down to personal preference and the specific requirements of your project. If you are new to metalworking, it may be worth investing in both tools to see which works best for you.