Plane Hammer

A Handmade Rosewood & Brass Plane Hammer

A Handmade Rosewood & Brass Plane Hammer

Last Month I posted the making of a ball-peen inspired plane hammer. That was such a fun, quick project that I found myself making another one last week. While the ball peen inspired hammer worked well for adjusting the body of the plane, the larger wooden face and smaller brass face made it a little difficult getting to the blade in some of my planes. I decided I wanted a more traditional style hammer this time.

brass and rosewood plane hammer

Boring the mortise in the brass head

I made the head from a piece of 1″x1″ brass stock, 2″ long. I had a piece of scrap honduran rosewood that I was planning on making into a plane fence, but decided it would be perfect for this hammer. I drilled the mortise in the head in my drill press (make sure you reduce the rake on your twist drill bits, as the bit will dig into the brass and fling it at you otherwise). I elongated the top half of the mortise in one direction afterwards to accept the wedged handle tenon.  I wanted to add a wooden face to the head as well, so drilled another hole about .5″ deep in one face of the head to accept a round tenon.

Brass and rosewood plane hammer

Shaping the handle and the head.

I shaped the tenon on the rosewood handle first. I drew out the circumference of the tenon on the stock, and used a rasp to bring it down close to the final shape, before finishing with a file. I wasn’t concerned about the length of the tenon, as this would form on of the curves on the handle but was careful not to take the thickness of the tenon down too much. The rest of the handle was rough shaped with a rasp and finished with a spokeshave.

brass and rosewood plane hammer

Hand tool only build! (mostly)

Next up was shaping the brass head. I didn’t initially have a design in mind but came up with one as I went along. A few hours with a rasp, files and sandpaper later I had the rough shape complete. I epoxied the wooden face insert (also rosewood) in before final shaping and sanding. I polished the head up to 2000 grit, leaving a mirror finish. After assembling the handle in the head (with a bit of epoxy), I drove a brass screw into the top of the tenon to wedge it in place. I filled any gaps with a mix of epoxy and brass dust.

brass and rosewood plane hammer

The completed plane hamer!

Once it all cured I filed the screw down to the surface of the head, and finished off by finish sanding the hammer. I finished the handle using a few coats of shellac and some past wax, and voila! It was done.

brass and rosewood plane hammer

Another view of the completed plane hammer!

 

It turned out really well considering it wasn’t a planned project. The shape of the head lends itself to a balanced result, and the heft of the head feels great. I read somewhere that ‘every woodworker eventually becomes a shitty machinist too’ and I guess that’s true for me now!

 

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Toolmaking, Tools, 0 comments
Making a (rather fancy) Plane Hammer

Making a (rather fancy) Plane Hammer

A plane hammer is a tool that I’ve found myself needing for a while now, but every time I find myself at Lee Valley I end up finding other things to spend my money on and keep telling myself that I can make my own hammer. Well yesterday I was in a tinkering mood, so I made myself a rather fancy plane hammer.

Plane hammer - Making a plane hammer; Brass; Purpleheart; Rosewood

Purpleheart scrap for the head of the plane hammer

I raided my scrap pile to find suitable candidates for the hammer and decided on a piece of Purpleheart for the head and some Western Australian Desert Rosewood for the handle. I’ve had the WAD Rosewood scraps for some time now – these are pretty expensive and hard to come by in Canada, and they are a beautiful and dense hardwood, so I was saving them for a suitable project. The Rosewood has lovely purplish red splotches that I figured would go well with the Purpleheart head. For the brass side I used a threaded brass head, like the ones you see in cheap 4-in-1 hammers. With the stock decided upon, it was time to finally make myself a plane hammer!

Plane hammer - Making a plane hammer; Brass; Purpleheart; Rosewood

Rounding the head on the lathe

Initially I planned on making the head a simple round or rectangular shape, but then I figured I may as well have some fun with it. I used a ball peen hammer for inspiration as I’ve never seen a plane hammer made this way before. The first step was to cut the Purpleheart scrap in half and glue it up.

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Sawing the cheeks for the handle tenon

After glue up I squared up the piece and rounded it on the lathe.My handle stock was 0.5″ by 1″, so I decided on a mortise 0.5″ wide by 0.75″ long. I clamped the round stock in a vise and bored out the waste, and cleaned out the remaining portions with a chisel. At this point I decided to round the tenon instead of squaring the mortise, as the round stock wasn’t the easiest to chisel straight down on. Just to clarify – it wouldn’t have been safe to chop the mortise before rounding, as that increases the chances of catches and accidents on the lathe.

Plane hammer - Making a plane hammer; Brass; Purpleheart; Rosewood

Rounding the tenon using a rasp

I marked and sawed my tenon cheeks and got to work shaping the rounded tenons with a rasp. It pays to be careful here, taking it slow and trying the fit constantly. When the tenon was going halfway through the mortise, I marked the mortise with pencil to identify the tight spots and rasp accordingly. The resulting fit was pretty good, but had a little play along the length. That’s perfect though as I would be wedging the tenon anyways.

Plane hammer; Making a plane hammer, rosewood, purpleheart, brass

Threading the head for the hammer

I then got to work shaping the rest of the handle using an aggressive rasp followed by a finer one. The idea here is simple, whatever you do on one side, repeat on the other! Back to the head now, I chucked it back into the lathe and got to work shaping it like a ball peen. As always, I like to mark all the points at which features change or start in my workpiece. There were no essential measurements here (except for the  brass end, where it needed to meet the brass head accurately), so I just went until I was satisfied it looked good and ball-peen like.

Plane hammer; Making a plane hammer, rosewood, purpleheart, brass

The head shaped and finished!

As I mentioned earlier, the brass side of this plane hammer was threaded, so I figured I would drill and tap a hole for it in the head. This would make the brass head removable if I ever destroyed the hammer (not that it matters too much, but it’s nice to have the option). With the hole tapped, the only things left to do were wedging the tenon and finishing the hammer.

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The wedged tenon connecting the head and the handle

For the wedge, I drilled a small hole at the bottom of the tenon, which I sawed done to. I cut a wedge from a piece of Walnut, just eyeballing the measurements. The grain direction of the wedge should be flowing into the tenon (end grain up). Then it was a matter of applying some glue to the tenon, tapping it into the mortise, and tapping the wedge in place till it would no longer go any further. Once the glue dried I cut the portruding portion off and sanded it down flush. Oh, and finishing – I finished the head on the lathe (burnishing and paste wax), and for the handle I used tung oil and buffed it with paste wax.

Plane hammer; Making a plane hammer, rosewood, purpleheart, brass

The completed plane hammer along with some of the tools used to make it

And there you have it, a rather fancy looking plane hammer! I am extremely pleased with how it turned out, it feels solid and very well balanced. The head-handle joint looks perfect, and the woods used go really well together. I have always had a thing for beautiful tools as I find them inspiring, and I think this one is going in my regular use collection.

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The completed plane hammer without any of the tools used to make it!

 

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Toolmaking, Tools, 0 comments