The Picapow - Hammering in Style




About: I made a beer mug with only a knife and a hatchet. I think that says a lot about me.

Sometimes it's good to think about things. Concepts. Uses. Designs. Habits.

Questions are powerful tools. Questions are pioneers. Questions are the trigger of every project.

There. Are. No. Stupid. Questions.

A few months ago I started thinking about the most common tool in every toolbox.

The hammer.

Just a weight on a stick.

A design that hasn't changed since it's been invented.

Yes, materials are different now. Carbon fibre has replaced the ash wood and the handles have become a bit more ergonomic. But the overall design? Unchanged.

Why? Talking about a powerful question.

I decided to revisit the classic hammer design.

No need to argue.

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Step 1: Designs

To get this new desgin I gave myself total creative liberty.

It's good to love yourself.

So after a lot of drawings, adjustments, more drawings, changes, moments of enlightment, whisky, better drawings, more whisky and some finetuning of a few good ideas put together I came up with a 'full tang' aluminium hammer design.

Call it a seahorse, call it a dragon or call it a rooster.

The workname for this project was 'Raging Rooster'.

Later I realised that my design had more of a woodpecker than of a rooster, in fact. In particular a Crested woodpecker like the South American 'Pica-pau-de-cabeça-amarela' aka the Blond-crested woodpecker.

I liked it, that bird, and so the rooster became a 'Picapow' - phonetic Portugese, you know.

'Gimme my hammer, please!'

'No, not that one, the picapow!'

Nature's full surprises.

Instead of using a weight behind the head of the hammer - the zone that hits the nail, or thumb, or zombie skull - I prefered adding basic material - in this case aluminium - to obtain enough inertia to get the whole thing swinging.

No, those sticky features aren't functional. They're just decorative. Awesomeness is the word.

Doing simple things with style. That's what this project is all about.

Credits photo: Arthur Grosset.

More on the Pica-pau-de-cabeça-amarela:

Step 2: Get Some Aluminium

Initially I wanted to make this hammer with 15 mm aluminium plate.

But, my furnisher only had 20 mm, and since he didn't have time to cut a smaller piece off that 2 square meter big monster I hauled it home and cut what I wanted.

In the pooring rain - no pain no gain - since the shop access was blocked with loooots of wood.

Step 3: Prototyping

To get an idea of the 'feel-good-ness' of the creative outcome mading a prototype is always a good start.

Alubond. Light & easy.

Not only I was surprised, I just was stunned with the handyness of the invention.

Of course I gave it a go.

From prototype to the real stuff. Copy & paste.

Step 4: Cutting 20 Mm Aluminium

To get this organic design out off the heavy aluminium plate I needed tools.

The jigsaw sounded appropriate enough.

Common blades for wood weren't.

Neiter were classic blades for steel.

So I went for blades 'special alu'.

Good vibrations they gave.

One millimeter at once.

Step 5: Prepping the Hammers Head

Hacking a hammer to make a hammer sounded like a great idea, also.

Getting to essentials.

Keep what you need.

Step 6: Sanding & More Sanding

I didn't like the rigged surface caused by the jigsaw.

I had a sweet desire called 'soft & smooth'.

And so I started sanding.


Hours & hours.

Step 7: Adjustments

To fit the steel hammer head to the rest of the handle the 'nose' needed to be 18 mm thick.

Circular grinder. Fit like a glove.

Step 8: Anchoring

Pilot hole, tread drill, custom made 8 mm screw & Locktite. In that order.

Nice, tight & anchored.

Advantage: you can easily replace one hammerhead by another.

One handle to rule them all.

Step 9: Extra Features

Since the whole was a lot heavier than I wanted, I drilled some holes in the inertia-zone of the handle.

This removed material & thus (a bit) weight, and added some nice visual features to the Picapow.

Paracord to the handle added good grip.

Go for the glamour.

Step 10: Picapow - Unplugged

Visually, I'm pleased with the result.

Never discuss about taste, but when it looks like you've imagined it would be, you did a good job by making it.

Practically, it's just a bit too heavy to be perfect. This guy is made for nine-inch nails, definitely, not for daily carpenters use.

I just knèw I needed 15 mm instead of 20 mm.

Nevertheless, I'll give it a try the days to come with 2 & 3 inch nails to see & feels its behaviour.

Learning to know each other, you know.

But it feels good.

It really feels nice in your hand - even in my wifes hand.

Sounds like a great start for this new era of hammer making.

To be continued.

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    17 Discussions


    Reply 3 years ago

    Some members don't like my points of view and yell at my door and call the yellow robot, who willingly replies by unfeaturing my projects. I made it clear by this, at least everybody's informed.


    Reply 3 years ago


    I haven't noticed that...

    I keep all of my Instructables "Family Friendly", but if you don't to do that, you can just add that in the thumbnail. If the I'ble follows the community guidelines, it's their fault if they click...


    3 years ago

    What a creative turn you took. That's a lot of work to inject style into a basic tool used to beat on things. But ... Even in your wife's hand? Be careful. It seems we live in a time where it is more important how you express yourself than what you make. Never know who's kid is watching.

    helo copter.jpeg
    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Sometimes I just don't find the words. So I make something...


    3 years ago

    I wonder how well the back would do for demo work? Probably wouldn't want to do too much since your handle is all ergo.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    What is 'demo work'? Demolition I guess? You know, it's just aluminium which is quite soft material, though.. But like you said, the ergo handle isn't designed to be used in both ways. Better replace the head by a more dirty dispositif..


    Reply 3 years ago

    One could say that your assumption hit it on the head...


    3 years ago

    So the seahorse with a duckface on goes kissing the nail heads. Got it. Great job.

    I bet you could hammer screws in with this tool.

    Never discuss taste but I think it's beautiful.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Those nails've never been kissed like that before ;) Thanx for your comment, I'll post a comparative video with a few classic designs in a few days to have a clear mind about it.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Now make it a dead blow ;)


    3 years ago

    Looks pretty mad max. I hope you don't miss on a blow, whatever your going to hit will be pretty effed up.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    For experienced craftsmen only, never hit a tennis ball with it...


    3 years ago

    Seems like you could add a notch on the point that is above the hammers head for pulling nails? From looking at the point opposite, you might have enough leverage and length to pull a nine inch spike most of the way out. Thanks for sharing!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Sounds like a good idea! I'll keep it in mind for version 2.0, thanx!