author's inherited cross-peen hammer with the new handle
a long and happy life, my wife's grandfather passed away and
the family decided to give me his box of tools. His gentleman's
tool kit wasn't large, but what he had was of high quality.
There were several screwdrivers, tape measures and a fine pair
of pliers, the best I now own. Also in the box was an Empire
The cross peen is a cabinetmaker's hammer. The bellied face
prevents the marring of stock, and the peen is used for hammering
small tacks and brads. I had been looking to add one to my woodworking
arsenal. All I had to do was make a new handle to replace the
inappropriately long one this came with.
I started by sizing a piece of hickory a touch on the big side.
Hickory was a perfect choice for this application because it's
dense, strong and has high shock resistance. It is the traditional
choice of domestic wood for axe and hammer handles. Admittedly,
it is difficult to work, but the results are worth the effort.
In my opinion, one of the most important technical aspects of
making a hammer handle is ensuring that the head is square to
the handle. A crooked head results in glancing blows, dented
workpieces and smashed thumbs. To keep things aligned, I laid
out the tenon while the blank was still square and used my edge
sander to shape it.