It’s hammer time!
While it’s a symptom of the meteoric popularity of MC Hammer that these days he’s become cliché, this isn’t the actual thrust of today’s entry. For the project this week we’re going to repair a sledgehammer with a broken handle. So yes, it is indeed hammer time.
This kind of repair is pretty common. All it takes is one good miss when using splitting wedges, and this chunk of handle gets split off. Thus the popularity of the modern sledge of a plastic handle, reinforced with a collar of more plastic.
Or, we could just take a stick of suitable wood and make a new handle out of a renewable, eco-friendly resource that can be reused or recycled by the user rather than the liquefied remains of fossil plant matter that will still break and then turn into trash. In this part of the world, both hickory and ash are useable. I happened to have a nice bit of air-dried white ash that I picked up from the local sawmill so I decided to use that. To get the straightest and strongest grain, I like to split out the billets.
Yes, I use that hand sledge on my froe. Shock! Horror! The ghastly abuse! Yeah, I know. It will at some point mushroom the spine, but when that happens, I’ll just grind it off and keep working. It’s not a collector piece, so I’m not worried about it. It might be rougher than a froe club (see also stick), but it’s a lot more effective to use.
Once I have a suitable billet, and have gotten the head off the broken handle (which probably has a section in it that will make a smaller handle; check before you burn the whole thing), I start by laying out all the points along the billet where I need to cut to. We’re basically going to plot the rough edges of an oval within the rectangular billet. Once all that is laid out, we start with the most finicky part of the whole project: mating the head and new handle. It’s easy to cut too much off, so leaving a little length on our blank lets us mitigate any missteps.
Start easy, and gradually progress. Keep trying the head on the new haft. You’ll see black or rust-coloured rub marks that show you the high spots on the handle. Now, to prevent panic, I’ll tell you that once you get the head about halfway on, your previously tight fit is going to start rocking around. It’s supposed to do that. The eye of the head is cast into an hourglass shape. This is so that there is a dual wedge action, keeping it in place even while bashing holes through walls or crunching through concrete. Eventually, you should arrive at a shape like this. It should stick up above the head about a quarter-inch, so we can pare it off flush after we wedge the head on.