The image of a hammer ringing is widespread in folksong. Surely it comes from steel driving, which was a common activity in both slavery ad post-slavery times.
I've asked about this on a physics group and of an old-timer who is familiar with steel driving, but I have come up with disparate responses.
I would think that a sledgehammer hitting, say, a railroad spike, would just go "chink" (or "clink," as you wish). To me, "ringing" would be a sustained sound.
Am I wrong about the hammer and railroad spike?
When I asked this question on a physics newsgroup, I got conflicting answers. One says that hammers do indeed ring. Others say that it is the steel drill that rings.
Any authorities out there?