$3 Blacksmith's Hammer

Tool Restoration

Another Hammer for the Stable!

Piggy backing on the No Name Needle Nose pliers restoration from last month, I have another little tool to show you.  And, although you probably would never have guessed from the title of this post - this time it's a hammer!  I know, I know - yet another hammer?  Well, of all my hammers, I didn't have one of these!  Well, now I do... let's get into it!

The Find

During my trip to The Tool Box where I picked up those needle nose pliers and the quick change tool, I spied this old blacksmith's hammer head tucked amongst a bunch of other odds-n-ends.

With a $3.00 price tag, a knew right away I needed this hammer like Sponge Bob needed bottled water!  Some things just aren't about need!


This hammer head was in pretty decent shape, it just needed a cleanup and a little rust removal.  

Into the Evaporust for a few hours...

After the Evaporust, I gave it a quick run through the wire wheel.  And, before I go any further I just want to point out that some previous owner had either stamped or etched his initials in the side of the hammer.  I couldn't make out the last initial, but "P" will be remembered - one less totally forgotten person!

Anyway, after it was all cleaned up, I could see there were quite a few dings, dents and scratches, but none fatal or even significant, so I decided not to remove them.  It'll function just fine as is.

To die completely, a person must not only forget but be forgotten, and he who is not forgotten is not dead.  —Samuel Butler


It was time to move on to the painting phase of this restoration, and I thought it would be easiest to just lightly mount head onto an old handle.  This made it so much easier to paint because I could just pick up the hammer and make sure I got all sides covered.  

The first part of painting the bare metal on this hammer head, was priming.  And of course - Rustoleum carries the day!   Oh, I suppose I should mention that I decided small sections on each end would be unpainted so, as you can see if you look closely - I taped not just the ends, but a little way up the sides also.  This'll all make sense shortly.

Next I gave the hammer a couple coats of Krylon's satin black paint.  

Then it all went into the shop oven for several hours...

Less Than Subtle Segue

A note of transparency...I lifted this little segue from my post about Making the Workbench Hammer back in August of '21.  I guess I liked it so well that I simply wanted to add it here!  My farm - my pig!  

I've always been a fan of Westerns, and so is my dad. When I was a kid, we always watched Bonanza and The Big Valley, among others. Hoss on Bonanza was dad's favorite and I still remember dad being a bit saddened when Dan Blocker (Hoss) died in 1972. And The Big Valley...well now...so in all my years I only ever heard dad comment on 3 women - mom, Angie Dickinson, and Barbara Stanwyck - the matriarch of the Barkley clan. Interesting note - Stanwyck is one of my favorites too, having starred in some of my favorite Christmas movies.

Okay, I've strayed somewhat afield but the whole point of this is that usually when I hear the word 'hang' my mind's eye immediately conjures the the poster for Hang 'Em High - one of the all time great westerns! I'm also a fan of both True Grit movies!

Well, like I said - I have no idea the etymology of the phrase hanging a hammer, but isn't it fun to consider the way our minds associate such odd things sometimes?  Back to the hammer...

Hanging the Hammer

Either the second or third day of this restoration, it was time to mount the head onto the handle. As you can see in this picture I had a few choices. The second, handle from the left was my original choice, but after mulling it over for a little while, I liked the size and heft of that old one on the right which turned out to be the same 1 that I used for holding the hammer head while I was painting it.

The only problem was this particular handle wasn't in great shape period but there wasn't anything. There wasn't any fatal flaws with this. Just some little chunks missing here and there, but I had a feeling I could fix it.

So, after using several relatively thin layers of wood filler, I was able to fill those chunks that were missing and ended up turning out pretty good.

Then it was time to hang the hammerhead. I've hung a few by now and I'm starting to get better at trimming the neck of the handle to fit into the eye of the hammer.  This time it only took about 4 or 5 minutes to whittle it down to the right size with the chisel.  My previous personal record was probably 30-ish minutes!

After cutting the kerf for the wedge, I drilled a hole through the bottom of the kerf to reduce the likelihood of splitting the handle when I put the wedge in.

And of course, I actually have a number of poplar wedges and several different sizes and styles of metal wedges also, all of which were just leftovers from previous hammer projects.

After mounting the hammer head onto the handle, I decided to finish the handle using some Gunstock stain and a coat of clear shellac. Unfortunately I didn't take a progress picture at this point but I think there's plenty of pictures here to tell the story.

I really liked how the handle showed its age, (I don't remember where I got it from) so I was careful not to overly sand it.  

Just a few (of the many) hammer posts on 173:
A Study in Hammers - February 2021
Fancy(?) Handled Ball Peen Hammer - August 2021
The Shed Hammer - April 2022
Personalizing an Inexpensive Hammer - March 2023
While you're here, try some flower posts!

And finally, I thought it would look nice to paint the lower section of the handle.  Of course, the ulterior motive was - it would be easier to paint over the wood filler than to try to stain it.

I LOVE the way this all turned out. The old, worn look of the handle, and the paint half way up, coupled with the black hammer head with the bare metal ends gave it a little bit of an upscaled look!  Not bad for an old, rusted, $3.00 hammer! Hey, thanks for stopping by and...see ya next time!

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