I don’t know about you, but I enjoy breathing new life into an older tool.
That’s exactly what I did with this older Japanese hammer I purchased off of eBay. The old handle was nicked, burned and just overall rough. I decided the cool hammer’s head deserved a new handle for the next segment of its life.
I didn’t need a large piece of wood, since the original was fairly slim. Luckily I had a piece of Birds Eye Maple, that was an off-cut from a previous build, and I wasn’t sure I’d find any other use for it. The old handle had a shape that felt right in my hand and fit the size of the hammer’s head. I decided the new handle should mimic the old handle’s design.
I simply traced the old handle’s shape onto my Maple blank, which was already similar in width and thickness. I cut it just slightly outside the lines on my band saw, and then used my rasps to shape and bring the size down to final dimensions, including the chamfers on the lower section of the handle. After I had the handle feeling the right size, I followed the rasps with sand paper, ranging from 100 grit up to 600 grit.
After I finished sanding it, I applied a couple of coats of Tung Oil, followed by some Black Bison wax. On tools like this, I prefer to actually feel the wood, rather than using a heavy film where it almost feels like plastic.
The final piece of the puzzle was to fit the handle to the hammer’s head. Since the inside of the hammer’s head had a small ridge inside the opening all the way around, I left the top of the handle just slightly thicker than the width between the ridges. I didn’t need a wedge since the ridges do such a good job of keeping the handle in place I was able to drive the head of the hammer onto the new handle using a wooden mallet.
I’m very happy with my rejuvenated hammer, which now looks as good as it works.
Lee Laird has enjoyed woodworking for over 20 years. He is retired from the U.S.P.S. and works for Lie-Nielsen Toolworks as a show staff member, demonstrating tools and training customers.