I get a lot of Hammer Heads at auctions for next to nothing. Typically they have a broken or missing handle. I like to make my own custom handles out of hardwood obtained from our property. It is fun to make these unique handles. I am not very artistic, but I do like to make functional items with a bit of character. I recently made a Carving Fixture to hold the wood while carving. This Instructable will describe how to make your own hammer handle from a piece of hardwood.
Step 1: Items Required
You only need a few item to make a hammer handle
A piece of hardwood big enough to make the handle
A Draw Knife
A couple of wood rasps
Sandpaper – 80 and 150 grit
Away to hold the piece. I used my Carving Fixture (Posted as another Instructable)
Sharpie or pencil
Linseed or Tung oil or other finish
Step 2: Obtain the Raw Material
I start by splitting off a chunk of wood from a log.
The logs I use have been stored inside a storage shed for a few years. When I find a nice, log I set it aside for handle stock. My wood of choice is Black Locust. I use it because we have a lot of it. It is quite tough and rot resistant. The grain is full of character and all the handles are unique.
Secure the wood so you can start shaping it.
Start with the draw knife making a flat surface on one side of the piece. When you have it flattened, flip it over and flatten the other side. The piece should be long enough to cut an inch or two off each end.
Step 3: Draw and Shape the Wide Profile
Draw a profile of the handle on the flat surface. Sketch in the section where the head will connect to the handle. Use the draw knife and cut down to the profile you drew. Flip the piece over and do that to the other side.
Step 4: Draw and Shape the Narrow Profile
Once the side profile of the handle is done, sketch in the narrow profile. Use the draw knife to shave this to size. Mark out the width of the post to mount the hammer head. Carve it to rough shape. You should now have a rough looking boxy handle.
Step 5: Shape the Handle
Start rounding the corners of the handle with the Draw knife. Do nut cut too deeply or be too aggressive. When I get it close to final shape, I use a large wood rasp to give it a final contour. I then go over with a finer rasp to get it to its final shape.
Step 6: Shape the Post for the Tool
Use a small rasp to shape the tool support portion of the handle. Round the shoulder where the Hammer head will stop and get it to a nice shape. Then start rounding the tool support post. Round the corners and work it down to were it just starts to fit in the Hammer Head. Now you are ready to fit the handle to the tool.
Step 7: Fitting the Hammer Head Try 1
When the handle just starts to fit into the hammer head, press the handle in by hand as far as you can. Then take another hammer and give a couple of solid hits on the back of the handle. Do not hit it too hard. Tap the head off of the handle and observe the marks where the tool is dragging. Take a file and clean up this interference area. File down the post to match the area where the handle was fitting OK. Take your time. The closer you can make this fit, the better the results will be!
Step 8: Fitting the Hammer Head Try 2 and 3
Repeat the process you did in step 6. Put the head on the handle, hit the back of the hammer handle with a hammer and drive on the tool until it stops. Tap the Hammer head off the handle and file off the interference areas. I did this 3 times. The 3rd time the hammer head was about 1/4" from being on the shoulder of the handle. I knew if I filed a little off, the next fitting would be the last time I needed to drive the hammer together. Before I put the Hammer Head on for the final time I sanded the handle.
Step 9: Sand the Handle
It is easier to sand the handle without the hammer head mounted, so I sand it right before I drive it on for the last time. I use 80 grit paper and go over the entire handle cleaning up all of the marks made by the rasp. Then I go over it with 150 grit paper for the final finish. I do not like to sand it before everything is fit up because you are likely to ding it during the fitting process.
Step 10: Final Assembly
Drive on the Hammer head for the last time. There should be an inch or so of material sticking out. Use a Hacksaw to cut the excess off flush with the hammer head. I also trimmed off the bottom of the handle to make it a comfortable size and to remove the battered up end from clamping and hammering. I took a file to make a chamfer on the base of the handle to give it a finished look. To secure the head of the hammer, drive in a wedge to split and expand the wood into the hammer head. I saved the wedge from the broken handle I removed from this hammer, It was a circular wedge. I never saw one like that before.
Step 11: Finishing
Do one final sanding to clean up the cuts you just made on the handle. Put some sort of finish on the handle. I used Linseed oil on this handle. I applied 4 coats allowing it to dry between each coat. The handle has a little character to it and serves the purpose well.
Step 12: Summary
The handles made out of locust have tiny knots, lines and variations in the wood. I have yet to break a locust handle. Here are a few of the other handles I made. It generally takes me a couple of hours to make a handle. I realize they are cheap enough to purchase, but this is fun and something enjoyable to do. Plus the shavings make great kindling for camp fires!
Thank you for reading this Instructable. Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions.