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I Forge Iron

Hammer Handles


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When you make a hammer handle is the hammer end of the stick related to the top of the tree or the root or does it matter?

I have run into some fresh cut wood, American Hornbeam, Musclewood, Ironwood, Blue Beech, Carpinus caroliniana.

According to the internet
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : American hornbeam wood is very hard, heavy, and close-grained. It is very difficult to work and is used only for tool handles, mallets, and golf club heads.

Any wood workers (or blacksmiths, etc) ever use American Hornbeam and how does it preform when used as a hammer handle? Malls? etc?

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Ironwood commonly grows around creeks here in Kentucky. It is tough stuff! Just as the experts said, it is dense, hard, and heavy. I've made mauls from it, but no other tool handles.

I rive (or split) a lot of my handles for hammers,mattocks,axes,etc, with a froe using an ironwood maul (made like a club) to drive the froe into the piece of wood stock I'm splitting. Using a hammer for this would soon ruin a froe. My froe is leaf spring, and this maul has struck the back side of it thousands of times.As you can see,much wood has been eaten away.

For "riving", I look for wood with a good straight 'longitudinal' grain (running the length of the log). Straight, limbless sections of oak,hickory,and ash are my favorites for handles. Sassafras and walnut rive easily too,but are not good choices for handle material.

See Blueprints
BP0418 Froe
BP0447 How to make a Froe



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I don't think it matters either. One thing I do because I think it makes a handle less likely to break is when I rive the blanks from a sizeable piece of trunk (10--20") I use a froe and cut the pieces about 2-3" wide on the bark side. In shaping the handle the growth rings run horizontial to the hammer head. I have handles made from several kinds of trees. Figured maple is pretty--hickory is strong and a pretty strong wood is hedge apple, sometimes called osage orange. Depends on which side of the road you live on.

See Blueprints
BP0342 Handles
BP1012 Making Hammer Handles

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