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Woodworking How To's: Hammer Handle

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Note: This page isn't exactly a how-to page since I failed to take photos of the handle while it was being made. It's more of a hammer fitting how-to page.

I purchased a nice 570g (1.25 lbs) Masayuki "polishing finish" hammer head in August 2006. Shortly after it arrived, I made a handle for it. In designing the handle, I was inspired by the triangular grip on my Hiroki Aida Oval-shaped hammer (seen below and here), the short length and stoutness of Jay van Arsdale's everyday hammer (seen here), the way the handle "wraps" around Jim Clarke's hammer head (seen here), and finally - the curved handle as seen in a Japanese tools catalog. Also, because the hammer head is longer than I had expected, I decided to put an offset in the handle so that the handle is closer to the round face.

This is the first hammer handle that I made (I've had no prior experience). The end result is seen below. The hammer works well. After 5 months, the handle still fits in the hammer head pretty tight although in all fairness, this isn't my everyday hammer as I prefer a lighter 450g (1 lb) hammer. For my next handle, I will likely try the no-wedge approach (see Jim Blauvelt's instruction in the link below).

See also:

Notes: As Dave Burnard pointed out in this discussion thread (link above), it's not a good idea to have the hammer head butt up against the shoulder of the handle. Over time, the head will come loose. So the handle design below is less than ideal. When I get a moment, I will change the title for the page to "How Not to Make a Hammer Handle."

Last Update:
2007/01/27 - Page created by Bob Le.
2007/02/10 - Updated with notes from Dave Burnard. Don't try this hammer handle design at home, folks!

1 - Masayuki hammer head - "polishing finish", 4 rounded sides, 570g (1.25 lbs).
2, 3
4, 5, 6
7, 8, 9
10 - Handle made from Japanese white oak. Here, the handle is shown next to Hiroki Aida's Oval-shaped hammer.
11, 12, 13 - Handle was shaped using a curved-bottom spokeshave.
14, 15, 16, 17 - Tenon - The curvature matches that of the hammer head. This was done using the contour gauge, as described in the How-to page for chisel scabbard.
18, 19 - Wedges were made from bloodwood (or possibly redheart). Wedges were pounded in place for a secure fit.
20 - Completed hammer.
21, 22 - After about 1 week in use, I shaved off a bit more wood - note the slimmer appearance.
24, 25 - Finally, I decided to shorten the handle by about 1.5". It feels better in my hand although I prefer the look as seen in photo #21 above.