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I recently replaced the handle of a ball pein hammer that has been with me from the start of my auto body career. I dressed up the new handle and got their junk off of it sanded it down and gave it a burned look as well as gave it a beeswax/linseed finish. After all this work and cleaning up the head ( since it had been such a good hammer to me) I thought about why I had to replace the handle in the first place.

   Over strikes! I don't know if this would happen much in black smithing but there could be times and it's simple to protect a nice new handle from certain unjust cruelty. 

 The fix is simple. A section of leather around just under the head then punch some holes and lace it up. Sure you could wrap it in tape or something but where's the class in that. If you have a tool that's been good to you and you have a little down time why not give it some tlc. 

You can easily use tape around the hammer where you want the wrap then cut it to use as a pattern. punch some holes and lace it up with some leather cord. A touch of super glue will keep the finish knot snug.  ( which I did on a friends I fixed up for him but some of mine need relaced because I didn't glue the knot no big deal.) 

point is it works. Here's some pictures explaining my point. 

Again I mainly deal with this with body work getting into tight spots, it's not like I over strike forging on the anvil :D 

just thought I'd share in case it could help someone that runs into the issue. 

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May I suggest a longer area between the hammer eye and the hammer face.

See your photo #1 and the hammer on the left.

You can not push a 1 inch deep hammer eye to the hammer face into a 1-1/2 inch deep hole. You can push a 2 inch deep hammer eye to the hammer face into a 1-1/2 inch hole. If you have room to swing, then you have room for a longer eye to hammer face distance. Yes I know, it means you will have to build a custom hammer, but your a blacksmith and you can do that. (grin).

Edited by Glenn

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I do plan to eventually make custom autobody hammers and tools. with experience in the field I think i could come up with a bunch of designs. i already have been making custom dent picking rods. not so much for dent wizards but for practical regular repair.

 

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I like this idea, as a part time mechanic, and even less time at the anvil...I can mess up a good hammer once in a while.

Guess I'm going to have to try my hand at leather work next. I do have another leather project in mind so this will be my practice run.

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I like this idea, as a part time mechanic, and even less time at the anvil...I can mess up a good hammer once in a while.

Guess I'm going to have to try my hand at leather work next. I do have another leather project in mind so this will be my practice run.

yup, same concept as where this would help. I actually got a bag of leather scraps at Michaels craft store ( after picking through the bags to find one with usable sizes) and also leather cord for lacing it. Inexpensive really. Get saving those hammers and I hope it helps you out. 

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Over strikes are telling you you need better hammer control, practice. Over strikes are pretty rare blacksmithing, occasionally a new guy will miss a top tool but hitting the top tool's handle with the striking hammer is usually a GOOD lesson.

Of course Eastwing makes a pretty full line of smooth faced hammers and the new plastic handles are pretty bullet proof and provide decent shock abatement.

I teach guys how to prevent shock damage to their hands, elbows, etc. by showing them how to hold a hammer so it wont conduct to your hand.

Tongs are a different matter,  you have to squeeze them as hard as you have to. Miss a blow and hit the tongs is an A#1 aim better lesson.

This isn't a tool problem, it's the user's.

Frosty The Lucky.

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You are right in all you said Frosty.

 I havn't had such a sloppy hammer blow in blacksmithing yet to really warrant needing to wrap the handles. but when dealing with cars or some machinery it can be difficult to get where you need to hit, or there can be obstructions, odd angles, or sometimes you have to swing the hammer with your less dominant hand. (always fun when holding a chisel or punch with the other one.) I'm not a good contortionist. 

Once I get better at forging I plan to make some custom hammers for the work i do on cars so I can get into those hard to reach areas. The right tool for the right job, unless you dont have that tool. Then it's time to make it. I have made other tools for my work and have some good designs that work well. On to hammers now.

 

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As can be seen in your photos it is not over strikes causing the problem, it is the position of the object being hammered. The  solution would be to trim the metal so the hammer can reach the impact area (yeah right, and for each car and each expensive fender) then weld the trim piece back into place and refinish. 

Solution #2 would be to design a hammer head that WILL reach into and hit the bottom of the hole. You may need one hammer with long necks on each side, or two hammers with one long neck with a custom designed head. Your doing custom work, no reason not to use a custom designed hammer.

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Look at some of the body work hammers. Make the area between the hammer and the face longer.  If in doubt, take an old hammer and cut the face from the neck. Add a section of metal and weld the section  into place. That is hammer neck, additional neck section, and old hammer face. It should give you an idea for the design length of the custom hammer you should build.

Another solution would be to place a dolly in the hole and hit the dolly with the hammer, backing up the impact of the hammer and dolly on the outside (other side) of the metal. You would need 3 hands, maybe 4 hands and at least one extra joint in the anatomy of your arm. I think I would go with #2.

 

Do not build a box, that way you do not have to think outside the box and all possibilities are on the table for consideration, even those that do not make sense for this project but may work on another project later.

Edited by Glenn

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Frosty already mentioned some of the issues. I feel the need to mention one more and that is with a soft wrap around the hammer handle you can NOT see any damage to the handle. Thus the potential for a catastrophic failure is increased. I will hesitate before picking up and using someones wrapped handle. As most wrapped handles that I have seen were due to someone damaging the handle, and an inability to see further damage.

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Rashelle, I assure you on any of my leather wrapped handles it was done before any damage done, and less if any done after. i have seen/purchased taped handled hammers only to unwrap them and find they are ruined, i would never trust that. with the leather it would be pretty apparent that they are so, as the leather would be all chewed up as well and you would be wanting to check the handle. this is not to hide the problems but to absorb some light impact. any jerk can wrap tape around a bad handle and pass it off or even use it. yes this IS rare and Making a hammer to suit the job better is ideal but this idea is just to protect against the off chances that do happen with certain use that is not common to blacksmiths apparently. I wouldn't trust an idiots duct taped handled hammer either. but if they took the care to protect their handle and they cared about their work or tools, i would trust a hammer that was carefully wrapped like this. its all in who did it and why, and how. i wouldn't ask you to trust me if you did not, i would gladly show you that i care about my tools and they are in good condition. so all in all this is not to hide damage. I showed in one image the underneath of a wrapped handle that would have more damage without the wrap. Maybe i am barking to the wrong pack of dogs here but i am just trying to show a way to protect hammer handles from getting messed up. Not trying to show people how to hide their Junk/ruined handles from potential users. and i am also not trying to take away from the excellent exercise of proper hammer technique.

 

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There was never any question in my mind about the soundness of your handles. The cautionary note is well placed into the discussion. I have seen hammers with the handles chewed up where the user could not hit a target the size of the top of a 55 gallon drum when he swung a hammer. Sledge hammers seem to be the most abused. 

Working sheet metal on cars with the fender in place is a specific hammer use. It is many times working in a small confined space as shown in your photos.

As to barking to the wrong pack of dogs, blacksmiths may be old dogs, but they do all manner of things, including hammering on things that are not anvils. The discussion of protecting the equipment is a good one.

Edited by Glenn

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Good idea Das  I have used heat shrink in the past and also as a grip. 

leather would be a much nicer touch.

I see knife handles dressed up too the nines good to see it on a blacksmiths most used tool 

Edited by fergy

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Daswulf I understand that it is for future protection. I just felt I needed to add in that sometimes, some people do abuse and then wrap hammer handles. It's just one of the things that makes me cringe and hesitate when I see. Though it could be a bargaining point if I bought used hammers, heehee. Nothing wrong with that either, though I tend to prefer to make my own. Typed things online can come across different then their tone would of in person.

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Daswulf I understand that it is for future protection. I just felt I needed to add in that sometimes, some people do abuse and then wrap hammer handles. It's just one of the things that makes me cringe and hesitate when I see. Though it could be a bargaining point if I bought used hammers, heehee. Nothing wrong with that either, though I tend to prefer to make my own. Typed things online can come across different then their tone would of in person.

I understand what you mean. if i bought a hammer at the fleamarket or auction and it was wrapped in tape i'd be wary and would expect it to be hiding something. first thing i'd do it take that junk off and check out the handle. never saw any handles for sale with leather wrap but i guess one could think they just went a nicer way of hiding the damage. :unsure: it's rare i see a nice condition hammer out anywhere anyway and they usually need rust removal, dressed, or handles. certainly be wary of wrapped handles unless you trust who did it. if unsure ask or check. 

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Yup. The funny thing is, it really can be a decoration. Look at wrapped handle tomahawks and such. A leather wrap can very much make the piece really stand out. Just there is always the ....... "What's under the wrap" thought that pops into my head.

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it's understandable, but i like to take pride in my work and why not pass that pride to the tools i use. if they are good tools they deserve a little bit of care and love from the user and why not make your tools as nice as what you make with them. it's a psychological thing but when you pick up a Nice tool and use it it gives you a good feeling too. not sure how to explain it. 

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I just went back and read my last post I think I came across a little more harsh than I intended. I meant it as a serious post but. . .

I mechaniced back when and scarred up many a hammer handle but wasn't smart enough to replace them when they reached "that" point. I got called out on a service call one day, the customer had run over something and needed a tow. I got there and looked over the problem. Whatever he'd run over got thrown up and bent an inner fender and brace into contact with the front right tire. Surprise, like the front right doesn't take 99% of the run over stuff abuse.

At the risk of making the boss mad I took my ball pein to it and the edge of the brace made a few cuts in the handle. No, I can't swing off hand with any accuracy and reaching up over and behind a tire that couldn't be turned out of the way just added to the effect.

I got him road worthy and off. He drove to the station I gave him a ride home and went back to repair the inner fender and brace. All in a normal day's work at the service station. I was off shift when he picked it up a day or two later.

The next time I saw him he gave me a hammer to replace the one I'd "damaged." Call it a tip he said. The edge of the brace had only scuffed the handle, a few seconds with my pocket knife and some sand paper and it was just fine. The hammer he gave me on the other hand had a handle that was pretty broken up but I epoxied and taped it.

That hammer and handle, tape and all are on the shelf over my lathe for when I need to bump something. It's funny, I used to get tipped pretty regularly but that old beat up hammer means a LOT to me. It just isn't fit for serious hammering.

So yeah I know what's it like to hammer in places where it's just not possible to not miss.

Frosty The Lucky.

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That hammer and handle, tape and all are on the shelf over my lathe for when I need to bump something. It's funny, I used to get tipped pretty regularly but that old beat up hammer means a LOT to me. It just isn't fit for serious hammering.

So yeah I know what's it like to hammer in places where it's just not possible to not miss.

:) just how it is some times and glad you can see my point in this. I was starting to feel alone in this lol. not that i'm horrible with hammer swings just that i'm trying to help others that have been in my situation. Thanks for thinking more into it frosty. and yeah some little things can mean alot to people when they are thoughtful. i have many things in my shop that mean alot to me even if they arn't the best.

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Awe I'm wrong so often I gotta look at the other side especially when I have direct experience. I'm not wrong about hammer handles but I could certainly express myself better.

I still don't like wrapping hammer handles. Even really nice wraps can hide potentially dangerous damage. For instance some dip stick grabs one of your hammers when you're not looking, takes a mighty swing and hits say 1" behind the head on a smooth clean round surface, say a piece of pipe. The handle gets "green stick" fractured but the leather is unmarked and hides the damage.

I ended up keeping my box locked even when using it, some clowns not only wouldn't respect other's property they didn't respect tools in general. You know the guy, use a screw driver and maybe you get it "returned" covered in grease, maybe bent or used for a chisel and left on the floor or a bench. And I was the "unreasonable" one for getting ticked.

Sorry, I get off on a memory road tangent sometimes.

Frosty The Lucky.

Edited by Frosty

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I know "those guys" and they know if they touch my tools that my 4# hammer will touch their head.  I mean really they even want to borrow my shovel! For real. They can't even buy a cheap shovel? If the shop doesn't provide it then I'm sure as heck not providing it for the whole shop. Just like my jack and anything else. I brought my own for " my " convenience. Just because the shop jack is missing a wheel didn't mean they should come to Me and ask to borrow mine, I tell em to take it up with management. :blink: what kind of operation are they running here... If I bring it up to management they say no one ever brought anything to their attention. 

Oh yeah....  Hammers.. They know better and I have good friends I work with that watch my tools as I watch theirs. ;)

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Smith's hammers get hardie cuts under the head when the final shearing blow is given as the haft is improperly perpendicular to the hardie blade.length. The haft should be taken out to the side so that it is parallel to the blade length. Problem solved.

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Right out of the Army in the late '60s I worked for an oil delivery company, in the summer we did construction work, one day the boss told us we had a 4' deep 75' trench to dig by hand and to pick our shovels out of the back of a truck in the yard.  Every one of them was broken, cracked and taped up with old mechanic's tape.  I said they weren't safe, he said they are all in one piece so I took each one laid them one end on the bumper of the truck and stepped on each handle until they were two piece. 

I told him when he came back from buying new shovels to stop at the county jail and rent 5-6 guys to do the digging for him for the week a lot cheaper than paying truck drivers.  After cooling off he did both, he knew he couldn't fire us as the other oil company in town was always after us to work for them.  He still mentions it when we see each other after 45 yrs. 

Buying hammers with tape on them I do but figure the value is for the head only so  a couple $ at most otherwise they can keep them.  Not worth taking chances on them.  I buy 6 handles at a time to keep some available. 

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One of the nicest sets of handled tools for blacksmithing I have seen was at an Ozark handle manufacturing company---they used them as go/no gauges for the differing handles they made and had been using them for  many *decades*. (and no they had no interest in turning loose of any of them...)

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SLAG

I have used several layers of fiberglass windings, situated under the head (about 3 to 4 inches long). If the number of windings is not excessive, you can see through them to check for cracks or breaks. (providing that the tape is not too banged up. ) I would do it in a well ventilated space, as the resin can be pretty exotic. Fiberglass has worked for me

Tandy leather sells scrap leather by weight. And they let the buyer select the scrap pieces he wants.

Regards,

SLAG.

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