View Full Version : Lead hammer

07-24-2006, 12:53 AM
After working most of the day on my mill I took a break and whipped up a lead hammer using some of the lead I cast yesterday. Nothing very special, just a small persuader that won't mark up the work.

The head is a little over one pound, the handle is turned from the remains of a rake handle and bored full length 3/8" with a forstner bit on my SB9 wood lathe. I wrapped the end with brass wire to prevent splitting and the head is held on with a full length piece of 3/8" all thread with a nut buried in the end of the handle and epoxied in. Should be handy. It took very little time to make and was a nice diversion.


07-24-2006, 01:09 AM

That is a real nice looking lead hammer. It is a lot nicer than the ones we used when I worked in tool and die. Lead hammers took a real beating there. They had a "cast your own" system in the shop that worked pretty well. They had a mold that you put a wire frame handle into and then poured the head. The handles had a cast aluminum handle for comfort of use. They would make up about 50 at a time and give them out from the counter of the tool room. The helpers in the tool crib used to go around the shop and pick up any that had been flattended out and take them back to melt off and repour. It was a pretty neat system but not pretty at all. Since I don't have access to their hammers I made myself some brass faces that screw into the handle that usually takes a plastic face. It has a 1/4-20 nc stud that the faces screw onto. It works well enough for my purposes (knocking the R-8 collets out of the spindle of the bridgeport).

Jim (KB4IVH)

07-24-2006, 01:11 AM
.........A lead hammer is really handy, great for setting Morse Tapers and such. An Aluminum mould is very easy to make via milling out with a ball endmill. My hammers are not a pretty as yours. I use a 3/4" pipe union the head is cast around. When cool a piece of 3/4" pipe is threaded in.

When the head gets battered up it gets set aside for remelting and a new head is screwed on. Usually by the time the second head is beat up I've remelted the first and made a 2nd, so the circle starts again.


07-24-2006, 06:50 AM
good job Evan, what's the drawing for that you're teasing us with, air and oil and needle valves oh my!

07-24-2006, 08:47 AM
Nice hammer Evan.

I have made a few lead hammers and sledges.I used the old copper reducing tee trick where you take a reducing branch tee,say a 2x2x1 and stick an aluminum handle through the 1" side that has a crosspin drilled in the end.Then you just seal one of the opposite sides and pour it full of lead,quench it and what you then have is a soft copper sleeve around the outside which contains the lead as it mushrooms from use and keeps the mushroomed chunks from flying off.

07-24-2006, 09:06 AM
I expect the head to last a fairly long time on this one although it is simple to replace. The intended use is for tapping parts into alignment the last few thou after lightly bolting/clamping etc together for drilling and so on.

The copper trick sounds useful. I also plan on making an aluminum split mold by sawing a piece of tube in half. One of these days I'm going build a setup for casting aluminum.

07-24-2006, 10:42 AM
I've seen that drawing before...was it for your CNC project or something else?

I guess i could do a search for it but i dont want to wade through 11,095 posts :D

Nice looking hammer btw

07-24-2006, 10:45 AM
Here is the drawing:


07-24-2006, 11:13 AM
Lead hammers....yikes....

When I hear about these I recall the story in recent years of the Boeing factory worker who dressed his lead hammer on a belt grinder everyday.

For a couple years his kids and wife were suffering from strange, undiagnosed medical symptoms. Eventually it was traced to lead poisoning. The grinding dust was getting on his clothing, then transferred to the family through the washing machine.

IIRC, Boeing has since banned use of lead hammers.

Anyway, from then on I've been gun shy of them.

07-24-2006, 11:38 AM
Don't grind or sand lead then. Dress it with a file, turn it with a lathe or drill it and catch the chips on a piece of paper and throw them back in the pot.

Metallic lead isn't a particular hazard unless it is small enough to ingest. It can then be dissolved by stomach acid. Lead does react slowly to dilute hydrochloric acid found in the stomach. The main danger from lead is found in the oxides of lead such as was used in paint and lubricants such as white and red lead. The pure metallic form is pretty harmless (unless moving in your direction at speed). Just don't eat it or breath the fumes when melting it.

BTW, your average 17" CRT monitor has up to five pounds of lead in it. It isn't the solder, it is shielding in the form of lead glass use in the envelope of the CRT.

07-24-2006, 12:30 PM
Evan-- did you make the handle out of round or keyed where it enters the head? The reason I am asking is that I think I know that a hammer head on a round handle end will tend to rotate on you in use?

Just curious. It may not be a big deal in your "tension design" which offers a clamping force that is not there on most other hammers.


07-24-2006, 12:50 PM
It isn't keyed and you can turn it if you try. I'm not concerned about that for this hammer. It wouldn't be hard to figure out something more secure, a couple of sharpened screw heads sticking out of the end of the handle slightly should do.

07-24-2006, 02:11 PM
Here is a picture of the hammer mould I got used in the late sixties when I was in High school. Currently only have the handle head came off and never got around to casting a new one. Have a number of copper,brass,rubber wood and dead blow shot hammer in differing weights

One side of the mould has Charles H Field Providence R. I. and a 4 on it

07-24-2006, 03:34 PM
nice hammer.
Why if I had that hammer, I'd hammer in the morning...
I'd hammer in the evening...
All over this land!


07-24-2006, 03:40 PM
You are very lucky that you don't have an e-mail address in your profile. Very, very lucky...

07-24-2006, 08:01 PM
Sounds like Steve has been sanding his hammer too :D :D but at least he's happy !

Evan, how did you make your mold? Any draft angle or split? In your business, you're in a good position to reclaim SLAs from dead UPSs, or are they mostly other chemistries? Den

07-24-2006, 08:13 PM
You are very lucky that you don't have an e-mail address in your profile. Very, very lucky...

I don't quite follow that?
You must hate that song or something huh?


07-24-2006, 08:33 PM
I thought the song added a nice touch, a bit of levity to what could otherwise become a very serious discussion ... hammers made of toxic heavy metal :)

Lead hammers are in abundance on ebay, apparently popular for working on expensive wheels.

07-24-2006, 08:40 PM
I didn't use a mold. It is turned from a chunk cut off the ingot. Lead turns like butter (really!) in the lathe. Watch out though. It doesn't saw or drill worth crap. It will bind up like crazy in a band saw and loves to grab drill bits. You must peck drill and "peck" saw.

Recovering lead from batteries is more trouble than it's worth and generates a lot of trash. Wheel weights are much easier.

As for the song, I have heard it perhaps 10,000 times too many. I don't listen to music anymore, none, zip. It sticks in my head and drives me nuts.

07-24-2006, 09:24 PM
One of my most used tools is a 4# ingot of babbit metal. It is used for knocking things into and out of submission.

It is handy for seating parts in milling vises, lathe chucks, installing and removing Morse taper drills, sleeves and centers and adding the final tightening to the mill vise handle.

Most old timey machinists had a 2 or 3 pound lead "egg" used for those purposes and whatever else came along.

I find this handier than a hammer as the handle gets in the way, or you are working in and around a setup or tooling and cannot bring a hammer into play. It is easy to swat the offending part with the egg or bar, and the weight has some authority.

07-24-2006, 09:54 PM
Back when I work in a T&D shop that worked mostly on Die Cast molds for aluminum transmissions housings we had all kinds of home made lead hammers. Doehler Jarvis which was just across the street use to make them and give them to us. One day they no longer were allow to have lead in the plant. It appears that the 2nd shift always had better looking castings then the first shift and for years they were trying to figure why. One day the found out the one of the old timers would add a lead hammer head to the vat of aluminum which make the alumium flow better and would also act as a release agent. I'm sure they never did DV testing on that "special" formula and was worried that it would weaken the castings.

Oh well, there are probably millions of transmissions housing with this special mix driving down the road.

07-24-2006, 10:23 PM
I keep a couple of blocks of lead around same as JC for the same purpose. I also have a block fastened to the end of a piece of aluminum bar that I use to knock out tapers from the spindle of my lathe. It works the best and seems to be a lot lower impact than other methods.

07-25-2006, 12:22 AM
Watch out though. It doesn't saw or drill worth crap. It will bind up like crazy in a band saw and loves to grab drill bits. You must peck drill and "peck" saw.


You got that right,same thing only worse with Zinc,we used to slice up 800lb zinc anodes for the local boat yards.Nasty stuff to cut on a power hacksaw or bandsaw,it would loadup and break teeth no matter what.

07-25-2006, 11:27 AM
I have a 1 lb hammer mould I have made lead hammers with for years. I believe it was made by hensley and gibbs, a premium bbullet mould maker, now bought out by a bigger company.

If you find that wheelweight alloy is to soft for some of your hammers applications, put it on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven around 425 degrees for an hour, and then quench in water.

I use hammers in both the hardened and unhardend heads, very handy, and they make good gifts.

O f course, with this mold method, the handle must be made of steel (or aluminum). Evans way is the way to go if you need or want a wood or plastic handle.

07-25-2006, 11:30 AM
I have a 15 pound ingot of bullet alloy for making hard hammers. I plan on making one with a 2 pound head for serious whacking. First I need to make a mold.

07-25-2006, 08:40 PM
I have a 15 pound ingot of bullet alloy for making hard hammers. I plan on making one with a 2 pound head for serious whacking. First I need to make a mold.

It could be linotype, this was very popular for bullet casting when it was commonly available. The most used alloy now is wheel weights with a 1 lb roll of 50/50 lead tin solder added to every 20 lbs.

A simple mold can be made from a pipe nipple and a cap for the nipple. The hard part is getting the lead out of the nipple.

07-25-2006, 08:44 PM
This isn't linotype lead. I have a friend who casts match quality bullets for sale and he gave me this ingot the other day when he brought in 800 lbs. It's 2% tin and 7% antimony plus lead.

07-25-2006, 11:39 PM
For anyone thats interested in a mold like PTSideshow has...Brownells Gunsmithing Catalog has them in 16 oz or 32 oz.



07-26-2006, 01:47 AM
One side of the mould has Charles H Field Providence R. I. and a 4 on it

I have the exact same thing - they're made by the Cook Hammer Company. The Number is the Size, I think mine's a "3" but they go up from there. The name refers to the patent holder, I think.

Brownell's has them (http://www.brownells.com/aspx/ns/store/productdetail.aspx?p=7608)


07-26-2006, 09:37 AM

That is a great song, once every 20-30 years or more.:rolleyes:

Your Old Dog
07-27-2006, 06:51 AM
I have quite a bit of lead in the shop as I use it to keep stuff where I want it. I have a portable vice bolted to a 2"X8"X8" with handles on the sides, it's really handy to use. It was linotype from the Buffalo News. I spray painted the base to keep me away from the white/grey powder that forms on it. I'm told it ain't healthy. I have about 10 15 lb pieces from a TV studio camera base some of which I've painted and some that ain't. Need to paint the unpainted ones as I'm leary of handling them.

07-27-2006, 10:00 AM
If you have oxide forming because of your environment then paint the lead. It definitely isn't good for you.

07-27-2006, 05:06 PM
This isn't linotype lead. I have a friend who casts match quality bullets for sale and he gave me this ingot the other day when he brought in 800 lbs. It's 2% tin and 7% antimony plus lead.

That would be aprox. the equivalent of lyman #2 alloy, softer than linotype but harder than wheelweights and available from lead suppliers in Canada specificaly for bullet casting. This is made from virgin metals not salvaged wheelweights. Pure lead with no tin or antimony is also available for muzzleloader's.