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First Hammer Handle, mystery wood

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Project by Rick M. posted 594 days ago 1159 views 2 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The old handle (last pic) on this ball peen hammer was cracked, and duct tape held for awhile but none of the local hardware (or big box) stores had one to fit. Whoever owned it before me couldn’t find a proper handle either and had whittled down some other type of handle to fit. The new handle is a mystery wood that I salvaged from a broken TV tray leg, possibly basswood, almost certainly a poor choice for a hammer handle but I didn’t have any hickory, ash or oak. My only other choices were walnut, mahogany, southern yellow pine, or American holly. If it breaks I’ll maker another from something sturdier. The handle was shaped with rasps and files, the tenon cut on my tablesaw and rounded with files. The wedge is a piece of walnut scrap I found in a pile of sawdust that was already the right shape. I buffed the hammer head with a wire wheel for good measure. Everything got a coat of linseed oil. One thing I’ve learned is that finishes like varnish cause blisters.

If anyone can identify the wood, please let me know.

Thanks to James Thompson whose has the best write up of handle making I found, link below.
http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/jThompson/restore/hammerHand/hammHand1.asp

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|





5 comments so far

View Gshepherd's profile

Gshepherd

1436 posts in 799 days


#1 posted 594 days ago

Rick, nice job in keepin that hammer alive…. When I look at that it reminds me of soft maple and I could be way off but the little guy on my shoulder is tellin me this…...

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3777 posts in 978 days


#2 posted 594 days ago

When I tucked that scrap away it was in my mind as ash so when I needed a handle I thought, “Aha!” And then I looked and realized it wasn’t. I have some soft maple but it’s spalted and wormy, otherwise there are similarities but the mystery wood does have a little bit of open grain and even what look like rays but the end grain sands very smooth. It is fairly light and was easy to cut and file.

I was tempted, just for a moment, to make a spalted maple handle but mine tends to have punky spots and it wouldn’t hold up long.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View BTKS's profile

BTKS

1967 posts in 2062 days


#3 posted 593 days ago

Good looking handle. You hit about all the points of wood choice.
Roy Underhill has a very informative episode on offcenter turning. I believe it was last year but could be older. North Carolina PBS has all his shows back to 2005 or 06. I make a few handles and have started going with the flat sides. Myself and most of my blacksmith buddies like the flat sides because you know by feel exactly what angle the hammer face is striking. That’s a big deal in smithing.
For setting the handles, I just got done trying this for the first time. A knife maker friend of mine told me about using fibergalss resin, just the resin, for setting handles. It fills all the crevises and bonds the wood to metal and slows or stops moisture problems. Use the wedge but the resin fills the small spots.
Keep up the good work.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3777 posts in 978 days


#4 posted 593 days ago

Fiberglass resin, interesting. Yeah I left the sides flat because they were surprisingly comfortable.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View BTKS's profile

BTKS

1967 posts in 2062 days


#5 posted 592 days ago

I’ve been finishing my first use of resin today. I’ll be posting it shortly. It did a real good job of stabalizing some very thin edges at the ends of the handle. I did a second application at the ends to fill some small gaps.
Later, BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

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