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  • Hammer Handles

    As a kid I saw wood handles fail, and people start to favor steel handles. Many hammers had hollow tube steel handles and I have seen examples of those failing as well. The one steel handle that doesn't fail is the Estwing one piece forged hammer and handle. I've got an Estwing framing hammer with an over molded rubber grip. It works great with a sort of semi loose grip and a free swing for sinking 16 penny framing nails. It takes some practice, but you can sink one in 3 blows in your typical pine 2 by. Start, drive, finish. Some guys even faster before everybody switched to pneumatics. The thing is steel handles can be a little harsh to the arm and shoulder if you don't master that swing, and that swing isn't suitable for all kinds of hammering. The rubber over molding helps a lot, but there is something missing. I found it the first time I picked up a small sledge with a fiberglass handle. Just enough give to take the edge off the shock going up the handle into your arm.

    Now I have a bunch of hammers with fiberglass handles... that are hard to hold because after 10-15 years or so the rubber over molding came off. I'm thinking about changing them all to wood handles.

    Actually my first thought was to make a mold and pour some form of rubber resin into it to re-overmold the handles. The guys at Smooth-On seemed convinced that should be a silicone rubber. Maybe because they sell so many formulations of silicone rubber. The even sent me a bag of sample pucks to see if I liked one. I can make the mold. Designing and cutting it is well within my capability, but not every hammer handle is the same. I imagine I could make the mold with some centering pins, and tape up one end to accommodate many size cores, but some how a big sledge handle for a baby ball peen just doesn't appeal to me. Of course the opposite is equally unappealing. I'm not sure I want to make a half dozen hammer handle molds.

    Then the other day I was looking for hickory handles to replace the handles on some blacksmithing hammers and I discovered MSC has a huge selection of hickory handles for a fraction of the price I see elsewhere. (I don't know what the everybody price is.) The thing is I just don't miss with a hammer anymore. Ok I might, lets not have any foreshadowing here. Missing is what causes hammer handles to break.

    More than likely I'll just think about it some more and reach for a hammer that still has a good handle instead.
    Last edited by Bob La Londe; 02-06-2021, 10:44 AM.
    *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

  • #2
    Hammer handles last longer if you hit things with the hammer head.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by old mart View Post
      Hammer handles last longer if you hit things with the hammer head.
      That's a bit redundant don't you think.

      The thing is I just don't miss with a hammer anymore. Ok I might, lets not have any foreshadowing here. Missing is what causes hammer handles to break.
      HOWEVER, Missing is not what causes rubber handle over molding to fail on fiberglass handles.







      .
      *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

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      • #4
        Unfortunately some of these rubber parts on things seem to have a limited life before either cracking up or going all sticky.
        I have a pair of binoculars which are unusable as the rubber handgrips have turned sticky and my older Pentax camera straps have been thrown away as tiny granules of rubber keep falling off the inside surface. The rubber bumper on my fibreglass handled sledge hammer is still ok after 6 years. All my good hammers have hickory or ash haddles which are fine.

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        • #5
          House Handle Co. everyfreakinghandle made in one spot-

          https://www.househandle.com/

          Dunno if they are cheaper than MSC, but we buy so many handles for inventory at work I never pay attention.
          I just need one more tool,just one!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by wierdscience View Post
            House Handle Co. everyfreakinghandle made in one spot-

            https://www.househandle.com/

            Dunno if they are cheaper than MSC, but we buy so many handles for inventory at work I never pay attention.
            That's pretty good pricing. About the half price of MSC for regular handles, and the option to order them without laquer is a big plus. I guess the next thing would be to check their shipping cost. I almost always get free shipping from MSC.

            White oak or hickory. Sounds like you can't specify. Extra for no laquer. Extra for wedges? Maybe not quite as good as half the price after all. All things are a trade I guess. Still a good resource.

            *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

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            • #7
              I have one of the Eastwing forged carpenter's hammers with the handle made from about 200 leather washers. Long ago the varnish used on the leather cracked and failed and I sanded it off and oiled the leather a few times to restore it. It's an amazing piece of tool maker's art. And functional to boot. But when I reach for a hammer it's generally one with a wood handle and generally one where the wood handle is oiled rather than varnished or painted. I just prefer the feel of the oiled wood over the slippery plastic feel of varnish or paint.

              Something you might try for your fiberglass handled hammers with the failed over mold is some foam style road bicycle bar tape. It's not overly costly and you have some control over how "fat" the grip shape can be made by controlling the overlapping of each turn.

              You'll want the tape edges to face the tail end of the handle so start the wrap from the end and work towards the middle. And for this sort of use I think I'd also put a base of double sided carpet/flooring tape on the handle to start to better secure the wrap. But I'd suggest that if you have not worked with this style of handlebar tape that the first trial run be done with only the bar tape and get the feel for the wrapping. It can be wrapped and removed and re-done any number of times until you have a feel for it. Then apply the carpet tape and do the final wrap. Truthfully though if the foam bar tape is laid well it won't slip. So the carpet tape is optional. I prefer electrical tape for finishing the end of the bar tape wrapping. And I like to taper the thickness and width for the beginning and end to get smoother more even ends. A key to a good wrap for both the bar tape and electrical tape for the ending is stretching it to get a nice lay and good grip. But don't over do it and the foam and electrical tapes will last a lot longer.

              A trick for the final electrical tape wrap to avoid the usual gummy creep is that I finish the wrap with an inch or so of tape hanging free. I trim the corners of the end or cut a fingernail profile. By the time I've done all that the free hanging tape has returned to the rest length and I can press it down without stretching to the other tape. This pretty well stops the usual creep and exposed sticky ends.

              Watch a couple of videos on YT on bar tape wrapping to get a feel for it before you try it. You'll also find that to avoid a lump for the start by the tail end of the handle that you'll want to shave the thickness to a taper over about an inch to inch and a half to get that first overlapped turn to lay more smoothly.

              Chilliwack BC, Canada

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              • #8
                thanks for the sources for handles Bob and Science. I needed a wooden framing hammer handle awhile back and went round and round with people telling me to just buy a new hammer... Jim

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                • #9
                  I have a 1/4 pound ball pein Stanley hammer with a long hickory handle which my father gave me 67 years ago, still in perfect condition, original, and not even rusty despite never having been oiled.

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                  • #10
                    When I was learning marlinspike rigging, I would practice by serving tarred nylon twine around handles. Made a nice grip.

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                    • #11
                      Hickory or ash make good handles if and only if the grain is straight and fine.. think old growth northern hardwoods.
                      +1 on 3 hits for nailing. Learned that working with a carpenter one summer, a long time ago. Oddly enough the same applies for a paintbrush. Apply, spread then a blend stroke. 3 must be a magic number or something.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by deltap View Post
                        When I was learning marlinspike rigging, I would practice by serving tarred nylon twine around handles. Made a nice grip.
                        I took a USCGA small craft certification course back in the winter of 80/81 where we had to learn marlinspike. All I remember how to do is make a loop splice now. Still do it from time to time. Very handy for dock lines.

                        There are a couple airplanes held down with my loop splices too. Guy was going to tie a square knot in the rope to attach snap hooks.
                        *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by wierdscience View Post
                          House Handle Co. everyfreakinghandle made in one spot-

                          https://www.househandle.com/

                          Dunno if they are cheaper than MSC, but we buy so many handles for inventory at work I never pay attention.
                          They have quite a selection,nice to see replacements available in this Chuck Away World,thanks for sharing!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Another alternative, similar to BCRider's bike wrap suggestion above, is tennis racquet grip wrap, which is slightly cushioned, very durable, cheap, and available at sporting goods stores everywhere.
                            Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

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                            • #15
                              "... tarred nylon twine ..." I have not heard of that before. Is it sold that way or do you need to buy the twine and tar separately and DIY? If it is a DIY, what type of tar? And can you provide some sources?



                              Originally posted by deltap View Post
                              When I was learning marlinspike rigging, I would practice by serving tarred nylon twine around handles. Made a nice grip.
                              Paul A.
                              SE Texas

                              And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                              You will find that it has discrete steps.

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