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GuardedDig2

Favorite handle making and wedging method?

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So I just re made a handle from ash for my favorite hammer. A 2.1 lb straight peen hammer I forged. It was my second hammer. I used my draw knife to make it and finished with sand paper. I’ve also used rasps. My favorite method for wedging I’ve found is to use two wood wedges in a t shape. I like walnut. I don’t saw the wood for the wedge I just make a grove with a chisel and hammer the wedge in and it splits to fit the wedge. Had less issues like this than with pre cutting the wedge. I have metal wedges to use later if I need them but it’s nicely secured as is for now. The handle is a little wonky but it’s my first time using a draw knife and I didn’t have my rasp to clean it up. I like long slim handles that thin near the head best. What are your favorite methods for wedging hammer handles and making them?

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What I like to do is to stand the hammer head down in a small tray of shallow boiled linseed oil for a week or more and let it wick up into the wood. When I can see it rising above the hammer head I know it's replaced the water in the wood cells and will be MUCH less prone to the swelling and shrinking of cycling humidity.  I usually do a bunch of hammers at a time to fill the small tray and not waste any BLO.

When they are "done"; I wipe down the steel heads with a rag to give them a light coating of BLO and the handle near the head as well and then burn the rag in the forge so no issues of it spontaneous combustion.

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That’s a good method. Never soaked them myself but I have a hammer I bought that was soaked months ago and is just as tight so I might try it 

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When I lived in Ohio the winter/summer humidity swings used to "loosen" up handles fairly often. Then I moved to a place where the ambient humidity may be in the single digits for a lot of the time and had to reset every last one of my handled tools----and let new handles adjust for a year or so before putting them in tools.  Well I did them in batches and soaked them like I mentioned and have only had to re-do at most 5% in the last 16 years. (I had 100 handled tools when I moved out here; I haven't counted lately but I have a bunch more!)

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Hmm I’m interested if the handles last so long. It’s never very humid here so not much to worry about. How long on average are they soaked? Do you also soak stuff like handles top tools such has punches? 

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Notice I said "handled tools" and not hammers?   If it has a snug fit wooden handle; it gets soaked. (Some tools have loose fit handles and they generally don't get soaked.)   

I like to soak them until I can see the linseed oil wicking up over the handle:steel/iron junction; but as I am generally doing this on weekends it's usually soaking from one till the next.

I also try to stock up on handles whenever I can get them cheap so they can acclimatize slowly before being needed.  I also grab broken sledge hammer handles when I find them tossed and make custom handles from the remains. 

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I just picked up a couple of dozen old top tools; most look to have improvised wooden handles---broomstick, tree limb, etc.  All came from working smithies and some will get formal handles and some will remain loose handled.  Going to have to find a handle manufacturer near NW AR, USA and stock up on seconds again as rehandling all this stuff is going to deplete my seasoned handle store.

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Have you heard of thrane axe and saw co. They have a bunch of blanks for cheap. You have to make the handle but you can choose the wood and they are dried blanks. Unless you’d rather buy premade 

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I would just generally go to a place a company that made them  dumped their "seconds" and pick them up for US$1 a piece.  Being able to look them over I could check that the grain was good and that the problem that made them a second was either cosmetic or was in part of the handle I would be removing to shape it to my liking.  Last time I visited, they had stopped carrying them.  I was planning a visit up to Cassville MO to House Handle next time I visit the kinfolk in NW AR, USA.  Nice handles, decent prices---they even have a category called "Blacksmith Shop Hammer Handles" in their catalog.

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