Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 4
   March 2012
 
   Getting a Handle on Things
 

New handle
The author's inherited cross-peen hammer with the new handle he made.

After 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 cross-peen hammer.

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.
 
 
           
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