Making a Small Brass Hammer (continued) by P. Michael Henderson

The next step is to make the handle. I cut the ash blank to 11" in length before mounting it in the lathe. I do most of this on the lathe but you can do it with a spokeshave, or sand it to shape if you have a stationary belt sander. The top, which fits into the 3/8" hole in the head can be turned to size, or if you have a round tenon cutter (as are used for some chairs, such as Windsor chairs) you can use that. While the head is 7/8" in diameter, the part of the handle that goes into the head should be made longer, perhaps an inch to an inch and a quarter.

Lathe set-up for turning the handle

Beginning to turn the handle

I took the handle off the lathe and flattened the two sides because if the handle is not round, you can align the head by feel on the handle. If you make the handle round, you have to look at the hammer head to orient it.

Handle with flattened sides

Here's the handle inserted into the head.

Handle in head

You can see the filler plug I put into the head from my drilling mistake.

I now want to make a wedge for the handle, and to put a wedge into the handle, I have to cut the handle to accept the wedge. It's not possible to just split the top of the handle and drive a wedge into it Ð the wood is not that soft.

To cut the V-slot, I use a Japanese saw and cut the handle as shown.

Cutting for the wedge

Next, I need to cut the wedge. I took a piece of scrap and cut it to 3/8" wide. Then I mount it in my vise and use my saw to cut a wedge shaped piece off of it. While not shown, I cut the end of the wedge off so that it will go down into the slot.

Cutting the wedge

The wedge in the handle

I apply some 5 minute epoxy to the handle, the slot, and the wedge and drive the wedge into the slot.

Glued-up handle

When the epoxy is well set, I cut off the excess on the band saw, then trim the handle flush with the head with a chisel.

Trim with a bandsaw

Trim excess with a chisel

And this is what it looks like, even with my mistake.

Finished plane hammer

You now have a hammer and the total cost was no more than $5 for the brass plus some scrap wood for the handle.


If you want to make a hammer with one wooden face, as I showed in the first picture, use a piece of brass that's about 2" in length and make your wooden face about 1/2".

Take a piece of wood of your choice Ð ipe, bocote, and many other woods can be used for the face Ð and turn it a bit larger than 7/8", maybe 1" or a tiny bit more. You want the piece of wood to be large enough so that you will fill the face, even if the wood slips when being glued.

Then cut a piece 1/2" long off the turned piece.

The wooden end of the hammer

Drill a 3/8" hole into the piece of wood, about 1/4" deep. Also drill a 3/8" hole in one face of the brass. Use a dowel and glue the wood to the brass with epoxy. If one of both of your holes were not exactly centered to the point that you can't align the wood to the brass, trim the dowel so that you can slide the wood over enough to align it. There's no tension on the piece of wood so the glue only has to keep it from falling off.

Once you have it glued, you need to sand the wood to get it to the same size as the brass. This is important because you'll drill the hole using a jig like I described earlier and if you don't sand the wood down to size, you won't be able to get the head into the jig.

After gluing and sanding, you have a head that's 7/8" in diameter and 2.5" in length Ð the same as the head in the earlier tutorial. But when you drill the hole for the handle, you want it centered end-to-end. If you have questions about your jig, get a piece of 7/8" dowel and cut a piece to 2.5" and drill that before you drill your brass. That'll let you know if everything is set up properly.

The hammer with the wooden head is good for adjusting wood planes. You can use the brass side to tap on the iron and the wood side to tap on the plane.

They're easy, cheap, and fun to make. I hope you enjoy making yours!

Acknowledgement - I learned a lot of the techniques used here from Carl Stammerjohn, Department Head, Woodworking Manufacturing Technology, Cerritos College (California).  Thank you, Carl.

The author is a retired electrical engineer who worked in communications for most of his career. He began woodworking about five years ago, taking woodworking classes at Cerritos College. You can see more of his work at http://www.mikes-woodwork.com/mikes_projects.htm , and you can see more about him at http://members.cox.net/michael.henderson/

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