Restoring a Mini Ball Peen Hammer

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About: My name is Louis L. and I am a 16 year old maker. Make sure to check out my instagram @bitterbladeco and my YouTube Bitter Blade Co.

So I got this small Stanley hammer in a large collection of tools and I thought it would be great to restore. A perfect little hammer for knocking in pins into knife scales.
Here’s a list of some stuff you will need.
Wire wheel for drill
Drill
Punch
Hammer
Sandpaper
Wood/metal wedge for hammer
Wd40 (or any protective oil)
Danish oil (or your favorite wood finish)

Step 1: Disassembling

For this hammer the handle was in pretty good condition (other than being loose) so I thought it would be wasteful to replace it and make a new handle. Even though the handle was in good shape the head needs to be removed so both can be easily worked on. I used a punch with the head clamped in a vice and smacked out the handle.

Step 2: Fixing the Handle

Because of the handle being in such good shape it needed minimal fixing. I first blended the hard shoulder from the old hammer head with a half round file. Then I made the cut in the handle wider so it can hold the wedge. Because the handle was rather loose I didn’t want to take a lot of material off in the top region. Then I used a razor blade like a scraper to scrape off the old varnish and dirt. A cabinet scraper would be a better option, you could also sand off the old finish if you so desire. After scraping I sanded the handle with 220 and 400 grit sandpaper. (Finial sanding will be done after head is attached)

Step 3: Cleaning the Hammer Head

The main tool I used to clean the old paint and rust off the head was a wire wheel chucked up in a drill. This can be found at any hardware store and worked really well. At first I had it in a drill press and I held the hammer head in my hand, but the hammer head was too small for me to hold and I thought it would be safer to put the head in a vice and use a hand drill. Either way works very well.

Step 4: Attaching Head to the Handle

After I tapped the head onto the handle, i turned it over and smacked the butt of the handle with a mallet which drove the head tighter to the handle. For most hammers (like this one) I used 2 wedges one wood and one metal. I split the wood wedge to the width of the eye of the hammer. I hammered the wedge into the cut in the handle until it was tight enough to the point where I didn’t think it would go in further. After snapping the wood wedge off and sanding it flush I hammered a small metal wedge perpendicular and at a slight angle to the wood wedge. At this point the handle was tight and had no wobble. If there is even a slight bit of wobble you will have to take out both wedges and try again.

Step 5: Final Finishing

After the head is attached I lightly sand the handle and apply a coat of danish oil to protect the wood. Make sure to get the coating on all exposed areas of wood. I’ll also apply a coat of wd40 to the metal to protect the head from rust.

Step 6: Time to Use the Hammer!!

I had a lot of fun fixing this hammer and it will be a handy tool around the shop. If you have any questions about hammer/ axe restorations let me know in the comments and I’ll answer them. Also make sure to check out my Instagram @bitterbladeco and the video about this hammer on my YouTube Bitter Blade Co. Thanks for following along!

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    15 Discussions

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    Deboniaco

    8 days ago

    Hi! Recently I found a hammer head in the trash. It is in good condition, but it has plastic (I guess from the old handle) adhered to its inside walls and I have no idea of how to remove it. Any advice on it?

    4 replies
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    Bitter Blade CoDeboniaco

    Reply 8 days ago

    Hmmmmm my first thought would be drilling it out and using brute force. Go that route and tell me how it goes.

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    Gparks21Deboniaco

    Reply 8 days ago

    Try heating the plastic with a heatgun or small torch. Don't let the metal get too hot. Just focus on the plastic.

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    DeboniacoGparks21

    Reply 6 days ago

    Thank you for your suggestion, but these instruments are not currently in my possession.

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    obillo

    Tip 10 days ago

    TerryN4 and macgyver have supplied good tips to this nifty ible. I
    d like to add that any piece of broken bottle glass will sub nicely for a cabinet scraper. And that for a 'golf club' shine on portions of the hammer it's worth trying several grades of crocus cloth.

    1 reply
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    Bitter Blade Coobillo

    Reply 9 days ago

    Hmmm I’ve never thought of that! Scrapers are so handy!

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    TerryN4

    10 days ago

    My Dad was an antique dealer and restored almost everything for many years. He always used some sort of paste wax on metal items like the hammer head, and even the wooden handle. The wax works better if the steel is warmed first as it opens the pores of the steel and allows the rust preventative oils of the wax to penetrate into the metal. Sometimes even slighty preheating the items by briefly runnung the flame of a propane torch over the item works well. The wax lasts much longer to keep rust and corrrosion from forming on the tool. The old Johnson's Paste Wax, Butcher's wax or even paste car wax works well.

    1 reply
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    macgyver

    10 days ago

    I've restored several small hammers I received from my father who was a mechanic before passing away. I used similar procedures, but I coat the top of the handle and wedges with two-part epoxy during assembly. This fills in small gaps and provides a secure connection between head and handle. After the epoxy hardens, I sand off the excess. I've also made handles out of an old cutting board, as the wood was super strong.

    1 reply
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    Bitter Blade Comacgyver

    Reply 9 days ago

    Yea a lot of my friends coat the top with epoxy or resin but I’ve never actually done it myself. I like to stay away from it because I think without the resin it makes it easier to take out the wedges if need be. But I’ll have to try it one day!

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    Phil_S

    9 days ago

    I have many inherited tools from my father. Most are better quality than modern throw-away tools.
    Good tools never wear out. You have them for a while then pass them on. Cast steel chisels so hard they would last hundreds of years. A ball pein hammer is a proper engineer's hammer and deserves to be looked after. Don't buy new ones, use ones with a bit of history.

    1 reply
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    Kink Jarfold

    12 days ago on Step 6

    I've got an old ball peen hammer my dad owned. You've given me the impetus to tackle the restoration. Nicely done. --Kink--

    1 reply