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Pin Not Mushrooming

I have tightened pins but this is my first time cutting and peening rod. Before I reattach the blade of my George Wostenholm to its original scales, I figured I would make a little prototype and practice a few times. I am using 1/16 inch brass rod from texasknife.com, flat brass washers from microfasteners.com, and flush cutters, a 4 oz. chasing hammer and steel bench block from Rio Grande. I have watched videos from @Doc226, and Lewis Razors, especially this video:

Pinning & Peening A Straight Razor II - YouTube


The photo below captures my progress after about 20 minutes on my second attempt - for my first attempt, I just started to hit harder and the rod bent. From my perspective, the top of the rod is just not mushrooming and coming down on the washer like it does in the above video.

At this point, I am pretty good at coming straight down on the rod, but I don't feel like I have the control to move the hammer around to shape the outer perimeter of the head/mushroom.

Any suggestions other than just keep trying?

I have to say that this reminds me of the first time I set a bevel - took forever but eventually I figured out how to do it in just a few minutes.

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It could just be that it was a little long. File down just a bit and start again.

Also,#1 is did it mushroom enough to hold the washer? If yes then you pinned it. Looks like it. The rest is about aesthetics. And again, just looks like your rod may have been a tad long......that and/or you need to not be scared of peening all around.

Since it is some ugly wood and practice, why are you afraid of experimenting and trying to peen all over? Best time to try. Also when I do it I roll the razor around on the anvil which helps keep both sides mushrooming while tapping I think.

File it down some, peen again, and don’t be afraid to do it right and peen all over so it can deform out.
 
You’re doing fine. You have to figure a way to hit the sides of the top a bit to round it more - that’s the tricky part. Pin it and repin it 10- 12 times to get the hang of it. Some people say use popsicle sticks, so you learn to to be delicate.
 
If you feel the need to hit the center of the pin then try glancing blows (not hard), moving the head at an angle and hitting just off center.
You are trying to spread the edges out to a mushroom shape not pounding straight down to mushroom the whole head.
Are you using the rounded end of the peening hammer or the flat face?
 
Pin looks a little long. Tiny taps and be patient. Ball of the hammer needs to constantly move in relationship to the pin, so as to hit it from all angles. If your hammer is too heavy, hold it near the head for control. Never hit the pin harder than you would hit your thumb.
 
I went for a next round and did better, and then re-watched the videos and realized that I am just not moving the hammer around the edges enough.
 
As others have said glancing taps, lighter than would seem to do anything, and rotate the scales while doing it. You may find you can glance from left to right fine (would be typical for a right-handed person) but not from right to left. This is why you rotate scales.
While rotating in a circle also throw in the occasional angle change so the underside pin isn't being flattened.

I also think it is very important to file the pin flat after cutting. The cut makes a sharp point and I file with a large file to get rid of it and a small needle file so it almost polished before I begin. Polish your hammer too, it makes a big difference.
It may be useful if you pre-peen one side in a vice before going near the actual razor.

You're practicing on wood which is a good idea but there'll be a mental thing at first when trying the real thing. You'll be paranoid about hitting the scales so try the below. I don't need it while peening but I do sometimes use it if I need to file a pin and make sure I don't damage the scales. A coke can and a belt punch might rid you of any mental block you have initially until you are more comfortable which will come with experience. I still occasionally hit the scales while peening but the taps are light enough so as not to cause damage.
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Not perfect, but this time the two pieces of wood are tight and the washers are firmly in place. I incorporated many of your suggestions, and I made a few discoveries of my own:
  1. A #1 washer on a 1/16 inch rod just doesn't work. Once I switched back to a #0 washer things got better. I assume that stacking a #0 washer on top of a #1 washer will also work. I bought the #1 washers because their outer diameter of 5/64 inch is very close to the original washers on my George Wostenholm, and Wade & Butcher.
  2. More mass means more mushrooming. My 4 x 4 x 3/4 inch steel bench block seems reasonably massive, but my table top does not provide enough resistance (if that is the right word), so I put the bench block on the concrete floor. Now I understand why people use great big anvils.
  3. If the pin is still too long after you start peening, just file it down some more.
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Oh, and whatever "anvil" you use, it should have a small divot drilled out to accomodate the other side of the pin, so it does not get flattened while you are hammering the top.

I have used the side of a claw hammer, but have a little anvil made of a short section of rail track now. Both work.

 
As others have said glancing taps, lighter than would seem to do anything, and rotate the scales while doing it. You may find you can glance from left to right fine (would be typical for a right-handed person) but not from right to left. This is why you rotate scales.
While rotating in a circle also throw in the occasional angle change so the underside pin isn't being flattened.

I also think it is very important to file the pin flat after cutting. The cut makes a sharp point and I file with a large file to get rid of it and a small needle file so it almost polished before I begin. Polish your hammer too, it makes a big difference.
It may be useful if you pre-peen one side in a vice before going near the actual razor.

You're practicing on wood which is a good idea but there'll be a mental thing at first when trying the real thing. You'll be paranoid about hitting the scales so try the below. I don't need it while peening but I do sometimes use it if I need to file a pin and make sure I don't damage the scales. A coke can and a belt punch might rid you of any mental block you have initially until you are more comfortable which will come with experience. I still occasionally hit the scales while peening but the taps are light enough so as not to cause damage.
View attachment 1250243

Good idea with the section of Coke can. I put electrical tape on either side of the pins to reduce the chance for damage. I’m on only my 3rd or 4th pinning, each one is getting successively easier ... and better.
 
Thanks for sharing the video, @Doc226! I had actually watched this video, but it was a while back. Re-watching it really emphasizes the need for lots of lighter taps. I also noticed that you are using the smaller end of the chasing hammer (?). I had tried the smaller end last night and actually like it - easier to get at the pin when your fingers are in the way.
 
Chasing hammer has a flat side and a ball - use the ball. I use the ball side of a ball pein/peen hammer, 4 oz. I have a ligher one, might be 2-3 oz, I find the heavier head works best for me. The ball slips off the edge of the pin, that's what causes the deformation to form the 'shroom'.
Hold the hammer up near the head - choke up on it. Gives more control. Light glancing blows all around the perimeter of the pin.
You want to file the pin flat before peening - cutters usually leave a 'fin' - file the top flat and it's easier to get the mushroom going.
There are different brass alloys - one variant I picked up a while back, 260, seemed to be much harder to peen.
 
After a little break, I returned to this project and finished up.

I ended up using the small, ball side of the hammer on this large splitter, and am happy with the results. There is clearly a learning curve to this. Rotating the scales and pressing down on the scale on top with my index finger helped too.

Similar to honing in that you just have to put the time in and play with it. Funny but hitting the pin is no longer the issue it was at first.

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The one eureka moment for me was realizing that I could hit the pin with a few strokes of a file if I'm getting no where because I cut the pin a tad long. I can pin a razor in about 10 minutes now. I can't peen quite as pretty as some here, but I'm getting better.
 
I was doing some peening today, so I took a shot to show the importance of tiny taps, especially at the end. Once the razor is properly pinned you should then be applying so little pressure to the pin that it is just polishing and smoothing out the tiny dents caused by the taps before. That is how you get the very rounded, burnished look.


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Today, I finally reassembled a Wade & Butcher Magnum Bonum I have been restoring and had no issue peening. I think the problems I had faced earlier were the result of 1) not using an anvil/block with enough mass, and 2) not using the small end of the hammer. I had also made the mistake of trying to peen a #1 washer on 1/16 rod. And consciously pressing the scales together with your non-dominant hand while peening also seems to help.
 
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