Driving in metal fence stakes can be awkward in harder ground. Striking the top of the stake with a hammer is a bit of a narrow target, there is the chance of bending or damaging the metal at the top of the stake, and having to hold the stake upright with your left hand means that the hammer arm can't get a decent swing.
What is needed is a device which allows you to hold the top of the stake in the correct position and transmit the force of the hammer-blow to the top of the stake without damaging it.
A commercial product is available but the handle is short and why buy something when you can make it in half an hour?
Step 1: Impact Transmitting Plate
The top of the metal stakes would chew through wood pretty quickly, so we need a small metal plate between the wooden tool and the top of the stake.
- Cook a delicious meal of beans on toast. Cheap, easy and filling
- wash the empty can (being careful of sharp edges
- remove the bottom of the can
- crush flat. I use and recommend size 10 Dexter shoes.
Step 2: Cutting Wood for Holder
Find some scraps of plywood. You'll want a thin piece which is slightly thicker than the flattened can (say 1/8" or 4mm)and a thicker, stronger piece which will form the handle and head of the tool (say 1/2" or 12mm).
Mark out a head for the tool which is a couple of inches (50mm) larger than the flattened can, and a handle which is wide enough to be reasonably strong and narrow enough to be comfortably gripped.
Cut the L-shaped piece of the thicker ply
Cut the thin ply to provide some 1" (25mm) wide strips.
From the piece of thicker ply left over, cut a second piece the size of the head.
Find a holesaw which is just large enough to fit over the end of the metal stake, and then use that to drill a hole in the second head-sized piece. Keep the plug which is cut out by the holesaw.
Step 3: Assemble
Stick it all together with wood glue and lots of clamps, remembering to leave one side of the head open (i.e. no thin strip present) so that there is a gap to slide in the flattened can.
After I had clamped everything, I realised that I wanted to use the tool before the glue would be properly cured, so I held everything together with some 1" (25mm) screws.
Step 4: Fix Mallet Target and Fit Metal Place
To give the hammer a sacrificial surface to strike, the plug cut from the second head piece was screwed to the upper side of the tool's head.
A clamp was used to mark the position of the hole where the stake will be held, so that the pad was fixed in the correct place.
The circle of wood was attached with a single screw and no glue, as this piece will need to be replaced when it has been hit a few times.
The metal plate just slides into the head.
After the plate had been slid in, it was realised that it would be hard to remove for replacement, especially once it had been distorted by use.
The plate was levered out with a screwdriver and a notch was cut in the tool head with a jigsaw. This will allow a pair of pliers to be used to pull the plate out when it needs to be replaced.
Step 5: Using
Use the tool to hold the top of the stake steady and strike the wooden pad on the top surface with the hammer to drive the stake into the soil.
Since there is no contact between the hammer and the metal stake, even a wooden mallet could be used without damage.
Having a longer handle means that the supporting hand can be held out to the side of the body, which opens up the chest and allows a stronger and more accurate blow to be delivered.
Once this has been in use for a while, the wooden pad which is struck by the hammer, and the metal plate which drives the top of the stake will start to degrade, but replacement of either is simple and quick.
Thanks for reading, and please comment or post an "I made it" if you are inspired.