How To Turn Hammer Handles

It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon and you've just headed out to the garage to work on your latest do-it-yourself project, only to find that your beloved wooden-handled hammer has been broken.  Don't run to the garbage can and throw it out, you can turn your own hammer handle!  It's an easy and fun project for any woodworker, from beginner to professional.

You will need a few gouges and a lathe to complete this project.  You can use any type of hardwood to turn hammer handles: cherry, oak, maple, and so on.

  1. You will want to mark the center of your wood.  Take a square blank of stock and make the appropriate marks to form an X from each corner.  The very center of the X should be in the center or the blank.
  2. Take the wood you just marked to turn your hammer handle and put it in the lathe.  You want to center the blank using the X in the lathe.  You will then round the stock wood to the diameter desired as you turn the hammer handle.
  3. You can now remove your piece of wood from the lathe and start the measurement process.  Measure two offset distances on each end.  These marks must be the same distance from the center.  Be sure that it follows along a straight line only.  Do not be too worried if it's not perfect, because the oval of the hammer handle determines the axis.  If you choose to make your offset measurements wide, the handle will become narrow.  This is the relationship between your offset measurements and handle's narrowness when turning your hammer handle.
  4. Now that you have your marks on each end of the stock, you can put it back into the lathe.  As you do this, be sure that your blank is on one of the offsets you marked on both ends.
  5. It's time to turn hammer handles!  Turn it at a slow speed and begin to create your desired shape.  You have now completed the first half of the oval.  Repeat step 5 with the other end to create the other half of the oval.
  6. Once the oval is complete, you will need to do some hand sanding until you are satisfied with your newly turned hammer's shape.
  7. Grab a chisel to make adjustments.  You will need this in order to fit your new hammer handle to the hammer's head.  Be sure it reaches out about 1/8" past the hammer's adze eye.
  8. Using a hand or band saw, cut about 1" through the end of the handle on the adze end.  Be sure that you use a narrow kerf cut because this will hold the head onto the handle when you've completed your turned hammer handle.
  9. Cut a wedge.  This wedge must be the same width as the cut and should be 1" long.
  10. Place your turned hammer handle into the adze eye.  Hit the hammer against a strong surface to wedge the hammer together.

Congratulations -you've just turned your own hammer handle.  Now you just have to find a way to keep your kids from breaking your tools! Happy woodworking.


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