How to Make a Hammer in 20+ Years




Introduction: How to Make a Hammer in 20+ Years

About: Generaly confused. Secretly inspired.

So, when I was a kid, me and my older brother often were visiting the village and sometimes we were left there for a week or so with our grandma and having something to do with all that free time. Once, when staying there, among the junk in the garage we found a piece of metal blank that we decided to to turn into a hammer. It was more than 20 years ago, and, maybe it all is fake memories, but in this instructable, beside showing on how to make a hammer I'm going to talk about abbandoned projects and finishing them eventually... Or not.

And here it is. Here I'm talking about it... If you're a person, who makes stuff, quiet possibly, youre familiar with situation when you have to abbandone a project for undefinite ammount of time. Sometimes it's completelly consiouos desition, but sometimes, as it often hapens to me, at some point you're just realising that you have swollen more than you can comprehend. The idea looks neat in your mind but, when you're getting it to the workshop, on practice, you often realize that you don't have enough skills, tools or knowledge to accomplish the project. And continuing working on it just gets more and more frustrating.

What I want to say here is that it's ok to just leave it unfinished and just set it aside for better days. I'm saying that because I am myself is always anxious about leaving unfinished projects behind. It's something you constantly keep thinking about, and on the back of your mind... it's always there. But despite that, here's my advice: if you feal that something doesn't go, don't force it. Take a bag... or a box... gather all the pieces of your project and pack in. Write a note to your future self on keypoint details about the projects or what you meant to do with it. Attach the note to the package and leave it all somewhere. It might not be the solution for many people, who are determined to get the job done nommater what, but... we all different. I know, that I can force myself to finish something that I have started recently, but at the end I never feel happy with the result. You don't want to surround yourself with stuff that not makes you feel happy... I was making a box once, and everything was fine until some point. My tools were dull, and I didn't have skills... it was getting more and more frustrating, and eventually I started to procrastinate on finishing hr project... But, at some point I just packed it all in the box and left it alone. When I returned to this project 11 month later it was a joy to accomplish it, since during that time I've learned how to sherpen my tools, some techniques on working with then and many other things. And this hammer took me 20+ years to finish it... Someone does one thing in one go. Someone does many tings in many goes.

Step 1:

So, this what me and my brother have mannaged to concieve out of simple square iron blank more than 20 years ago (unless, ofcouce, I remmember it right).

- Chop it into lenght.

- Drill a bunch of holes for an earhole (I'm not sure if it's a correct term).

- File one side to a wedge.

This was the state at which I've found this supposed hammerhead a couple mounts ago on visitong the village. It remained unfinished since all those years and now it was the time for getting it done.

Step 2:

Firstly I've roughly filed the whole thing till the point where deaper initial dents weren't visible, and overall geometry was good enough.

Step 3:

Than I had to deal with the earhole.

Firstly I marked the lines at the sides of the blank wit calipers to set the thickness of the walls. As you can see the holes were drilled quiet unevenly. At some places they were too close to the edge, so I had to leave some areas not complettely flat. I used a flat hand file for that.

Step 4:

Then I have rounded the ends of the outlet with round file, and created a widening towards the top of the hammer head for the handle to be wedged. Usually hammerheads have this widening going in all directions, but since I had the wall so thing I did it only in one way.

Step 5:

After that I did some finer sanding on surfsces.

Then I polished it on a felt wheel with polishing compound. Since the blank wasn't perfect from the beginning I wasn't too fanatic on getting mirror like surface.

Relatively small pieces like this are getting uncomfortaly hot on polishing so having some gloves on is often a good idea.

Step 6:

Now, with a head being done I could deal with the handle.

To make it I used a piece of firewood. It was from an appricot, and ity has some really nice texture to it along with reasonable strenght.

Firstly I used a metal wedge to split the wood to rough dimensions. and than I shaped it into slightelly tapering plank. The dimesions of the narrow end are derrived from the size of the earhole of the hammerhead and are slightelly larger in size than it at this point.

You can do some more accurate job on your piece if fixing the handplane in a vice and drawing the wod against it. I did it to round the corners on the handle blank.

Step 7:

Then I did some final shaping with variety of tools.

Firstly I cut the handle into lenght with a saw.

Then I prepared the portion that goes inside the head to fit the earhole. I used knife there, but it can be done with a rasp or powertols.

If you're thinking that I'm giving some pretty much basic advices here... That's kind of true. I'm Aiming here for a begginer level of craftworkers here. ... Othervice there, kind of, won't be a substance for a tutorial here...

A beltsander also was used to shape the handle, along with some final sanding by hand up to ~600 grit (the sandpaper didn't have markings on it).

Step 8:

When the handle is done and fits nise and snug in the hammerhead cut a slit for a wedge on the top end. It should go aout 2/3 of the depth of the hammerhead (plus, obviously, the leftover to be cut off lated).

Put the Head on the handle next.

The correct way of putting the hammerhead on the handle is next:

- put the hammerhead on the handle till it sits somewhat firmly;

- flip the hammer and hold it at an angle towards the floor (head is down);

- tap the handle with another hammer, untill the head sits firmly on the handle (it'll go firmer and firmer on tapping);

There's also a table of required lenghts of handles according to the weight of the heads accordingli to soviet standarts, but I currently have no acces to it (I'm too lazy), but if you're interested - let the comment and I'll find it and kill it... post it.

Step 9:

From the cut off piece of wood that I had left with after trimming the handle I'm making a wedge.

There's a bunch of ways you can wake a wedge. You can cut with a saw... or... or you can cut it with a saw... But I just splitted the piece of wood with a chisel, carved some material out to shape it into wedge and sanded edges smooth the.

Smear some wood glue on the wedge and drive it into the slit with a hammer.

Step 10:

But for a good hammer one wedge is not enough, so while the glue on the wooden wedge is drying< we have to make some more wedges of metal.

Any scrap metal will do. You can accomplish it with a hecksaw and a file. Step-like ridges, that you can see on the photo wil provide secure grip in the wood preventing the wedges from popping out.

Step 11:

When the glue has dried, cut the excess material off the handle aprox 1-2mm from the head.

Drive the metal wedges in. They should epand the wood in the hammerhead earhole securing the handle firmly (I'm never getting this part looking good in the result).

Step 12:

I always brand my new tools. Although I haven't made my personal branding iron at thye moment, it's better to have atleast generic sun-thing burned on your tool (we sometimes have random workers working at our house often using our tools, so it's good to have them branded... just in case... Branded tools, not workers...)

Step 13:

And then a coat of boiled linsead oil...

Apply the oil, leave it for few minutes, then wipe off the excess. 24 hours later sand it with fine sanpaper, repeat after another 24 hours... and, maybe, once more. You'll get nice smooth wooden surface that not too glossy to make your palm sweat too much, and all you have to do to refresh it after time of using is to send it lightelly and give a new coat of oil.

Step 14:

And this is it. As you can see, this hammer in't perfect in some places. The handle have split on driving a wedge since it was a bit too thick and the wood wasn't restricted enough at the base of the hammerhead. Also I had to came up with a handle bit wide as for this size of the hammerhead since the earhole was a bit wide... And the sanding an both the wood, and the metal is not perfect...

I liked this project though. This hammer looks nice and will serve me for a bunch of years. So yeah, it took me 20+ years to make this hammer (more like, my brother has started, and I have finished) and.. it's ok.

So, this is it for now, thanks for your attention and have a nice hameer.

Also visit me on my facebook page.

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    40 Discussions

    Very nice, but your handle would not have split if you had placed your wedges the correct way. The wedge should be installed parallel to the hammer head. Oh, and the head will not stay on the handle for very long if used with the wedge like you have it.

    1 reply

    Nope, the handle splitted bacause the it didn't sit tight enough in the bottom otlet and/or bacause the wedge was too long. Usually eye of the hammer gradually wident toward the top in two directions. In this case the laziest way to wedge the handle is to drive one metal wedge diagonaly. But propper way is to install on with glu the wooden wedge that goes parallel to the head and then drive in 1-2 metal wedges in perpendicular. This is exactly what I did.

    Also, sometimes, a sharpened piece of pipe is used.

    I'd like to add that a hammer should not be made just from any piece of iron lying about... It should be made from steels with about 0.5% carbon, some of them might be better ground than filed even in annealed state (would be too hard for some files). Also the hammerhead should be hardened (heated to about 800°C and quenched in oil or water - depending on the material) in order to make the face and the peen of the hammer harder (it could happen that your unhardened hammer would be softer than a nail).

    Hopefully my tips will be of some use ;)

    2 replies

    You're complettely right. But, for most cases. Soft metal hammers can still be used, and I'm planing using this one for setting my handlplanes which are old, soviet and made of steel.

    Still... done properly means more durable ;)

    Yes in village Matusiv of Shola reagion we have a lot of that stuff. But this information is secret so, leave me your adress and we'll sand a teem to erace your memmory. You can also chose to replace up to three memmories of last year with next ones:

    - a unicorn jumping on trampoline;

    - a black unicorn jumping on trampoline with sculls;

    - a silver robot unicorn jumping on trampoline with floppy discs;

    All movies with Adam Sandler ever wathed are replaced by default. This message was placed here to distract while eracing teem approaching. Please open the front door and choose your pony.

    Wow that's a really beautiful hammer. Great job!

    I was wondering if a railroad spike would work for this project

    3 replies

    It will for but ss Saero mentiones in his comment, you need to heve sa certain qualities of metal for a good hammer head. Railroad spike will work for a hammer but it won't be very durable for some implications. I have no idea what kind of iron the blank I used was made of.

    The Railroad Spike is ~superb~ Metal for the Style Hammer in this Project.

    Metallurgically, there are really just Two Styles of Metal Hammers!

    1. This style falls under "Soft Metal Alloys", They are NOT made to be a ~Pile Driver~ they are meant to be a ~Tack Hammer~. Another way to state this is "The FACE" of the Hammer will Deform if you Strike HARD Metals. The User of a "Soft Hammer" ~will know this~, and eventually, reform the hammerhead.

    2. "Hard Metal Alloys" These are meant to convert ALL The Force Applied, to the object they Strike. If that is Metal being hit The Struck Metal Should Deform, think here of ~Black Smithing Striking Tools~, or, the abovementioned "Pile Driver" The Striking Surface Will eventually wear out, AND Can be ReShaped or even Rebuilt using Welding Processes.

    ~~~~> And Now for Metallurgy class 2: Both Hard & Soft Hammers do Not ~HAVE~ to be made of steel! In Some Professional Shops, where Sparks might be A Dangerous Problem, Hardened BRONZE might be used, to Strike even Steel! and obversely Where Soft Steel MIGHT Damage a Precious Metal or Product, Soft Brass might be used to implement a "moving force", more gracefully!

    Both ferrous and Non-Ferrous Hammers will with enough USE will NEED "tuning up" (also called Reshaping)

    Ferrous = with/of Steel/iron

    Non-Ferrous - Alloy with Zero Steel or Iron.

    My Bio: Age 68, I still Own & use my First hammer from 1957. I have Owned or Used All above Hammer Styles, and even made Several Hammers. My Most Precious Hammer is my 1957 Hammer, But I have made Bronze & Brass Hammers for delicate work. Think of a One Ounce ( ~28-gram~) hammerhead, total hammer weight less than 3 Ounces Or around 90 grams!

    I have done every Hammering concept from Breaking Concrete & Asphalt to setting Diamonds and have done both Silver Smithing as well as Black Smithing

    I think the Hammer created on this page to be "Top Notch" or Very Good! It has the Strength in its Handle to control Double hammerhead weight, which is One method I build to: Over Kill also called "Plus 10 Percent" building needs.


    philip, from the Great Pacific North West

    Thanks. I'm... I really read the whole thing and... your paprica muffin recipe is really cool. Good luck with your cat delivery busyness (?)

    But, seriously I read the whole thing, and thanks for useful info and sharing your experience. I upvote your comment more people to seee it. Also thank you on your high grades on my work.


    Nice, It reminds myself wjen I was a kid.
    What about some heat treatment?

    1 reply

    In general, like, yes, why not. But Never prcticed it and dont have a blowtorch.

    That's one nice hammer.


    Tip 5 days ago

    Awesome Instructable and love the little hammer! I frequently have that same experence with my projects and always have like 30 going on at once!

    Also, the hole in a hammer is called the eye of the hammer.

    1 reply

    Thanks. "Earhole" is literate translation for what it's called in Russian and Ukrainian.