Old Hammer Exploding

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Firearms Folklore"

Finding: BUSTED

Explanation: After watching Jamie Hyneman mold metal with two hammers for various MythBusters projects, concerned viewers wrote in with a warning: Hammer safety instructions note that metal smashing against metal could shatter the tools and send lethal steel shards flying.

MythBusters Tory Belleci, Grant Imahara and Kari Byron hammered some hammers together to resolve whether the steel-wielding Hyneman was truly tinkering with trouble. As a precautionary measure, they built a two-armed robot to do the dirty work. Pounding down at 16 meters per second, which was the same swinging speed Tory clocked, the robot failed to break any hammerheads.

To up the odds of breakage, the MythBusters case-hardened the hammers. Hammerheads heated to red- or white-hot temps and dipped in carbon-rich motor oil absorb the liquid's excess carbon, which gives metal its brittle quality. But the super-stiff hammers still didn't snap on impact, busting the blacksmithing myth.

Nevertheless, MythBuster Jamie and fans at home should exercise caution whenever swinging hammers, since they could still bust up fragile fingers and thumbs.

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