This instructable will show you how to make a leather Wrapped Viking / Barbarian war hammer. The one I have the most pictures of is the prototype. I make these 3 at a time and all are unique so if the colors of the leather or the handles don't match from picture to picture the techniques are still the same.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
The base I currently use for the war hammer is called a commander, a large mallet used in timber framing. These are available at The Japan Woodworker in Alameda CA (www.japanwoodworker.com).
5 to 7 oz. Tooling leather (Vegetable Tanned) or latigo
Leather dyes in the color of your choice
Antique Brass Upholstery tacks
Heavy thread or artificial sinew and needles
2" brass ring or antler crown for end cap
40' of sisal rope
2 3" Screws
30 or so 3/4" carpet tacks
Band, Jig Or Coping Saw
Propane or Mapp gas torch
Drill and Drill Bits
Step 2: Burning , Brushing and Assembly
The head is coated in paraffin and metal bands bind the head to keep it from cracking during the climate change from japan to here. I remove the metal bands prior to burning the wax off the head. The top of the handle is shaped with a saw and then it is also burned. When both are cool enough to handle I brush them with a wire brush going along grain of the wood. Slide the head on to the handle. The handle is slightly wedge shaped at the top so the head only fits one way properly. Pressure fit the head by repeatedly dropping the top of the handle vertically on the ground. This will force the head to wedge itself securely to the handle. Pre drill and drive screws to secure head.
Step 3: Leather; Cutting and Dyeing
Cut out the head Wrap and Handle Wrap out of the 5 to 7 ounce latigo or tooling leather. Distress and dye them if you you wish. I use a large pear shader to produce a tortoise shell like effect on the tooling leather prior to dyeing. The Braiding piece is a strap 3/4" wide by 60" long this I usually dye a contrasting color. The Bottom Wrap is a 6" long by 5 3/4" wide piece.
Step 4: Wrapping and Stitching the Top
Wrap the head and secure the leather with stitching and upholstery tacks. Saddle stitch handle wrap on.
Step 5: Braiding the Handle
I used a simple over one under one braid for this handle and secured each row with a carpet tack.
Step 6: Finishing the Handle
The braiding is finished 6 " from the bottom, secured with carpet tacks then cut off 3/4" from the end of the handle. The bottom wrap is saddle stitched on over the braid ends. For this hammer I stitched an antler crown button onto a piece of leather as an end cap.
Step 7: Alternate Ends
Here are two other finished end alternatives. The most requested end is the ring and rope end. The rope is braided in a round 4 braid around a snaplink to attach to the ring. The ring is secured to the handle with a strip of leather screwed in to the handle prior to finishing.
Step 8: Finished
Here is one style finished without the rope. The antler end is the opening picture.