Saturday, 6 October 2012

Making Brass Hammer Heads.

At the European Show I sold out of my chisel hammers, at the end of the show I was asked if I could sell my demo hammer, so that went as well! Time to make some more.
The heads are 1 1/4" diameter and the hole is 16mm (5/8"), a large bite. I have tried drilling pilot holes to relieve the drill cut but I've found it easier and more accurate to go straight in with a large HSS drill bit.

Here is my drill press set up with a tight fitting wooden carrier which is positioned using my adjustable fence and stops. I can highly recommend the Flip Stop system pictured, it is superbly well made and has no play whatsoever, it is expensive but well worth the money.

Here is my Meddings drill press, heavy duty and accurate. I bought it second hand and they are well worth searching out. Three phase models are much cheaper than single phase although you'll need the appropriate power supply or a converter which will cost another £200.

Here is my converter which has proved reliable and easy to use. A £10 extra is the variable speed control which is vastly more convenient than changing belts, does anyone ever do that??

Here is the resulting hole, care has to be taken to get it central and there are always a few rejects in a batch.

Here are 105 heads with the holes drilled, that's about 5 hours of boring work....... (sorry!)

The next stage is to shape the rounded end on the disc sander with 80 grit. This is then worked through 120 and 240 grit to smooth things out.

Next is 320 grit on the excellent Kirjes pneumatic drum sander, this was worked against the previous scratch marks to smooth the curves.

Polishing was done on a Creusen buffing machine using blue compound with the resulting heads shown below.

I'm sure there are quicker ways of achieving this result, but the numbers don't warrant gearing up with expensive machinery. Any help with speeding up this process would be most welcome.


  1. Hi David,
    Brass turns very easily with standard HSS round woodturning scrapers at around 700RPM for that diameter. You could make a simple adjustable wooden chuck using a Jubilee clip. With a bit of practice you could form the requisite radius in under a minute (make sure to wear a long-sleeved shirt, brass swarf is like needles from the lathe). You could also polish them en masse using a rotating drum filled with walnut shells & liquid polish, simply let them tumble until the desired shine is achieved.
    Loving your blog, by the way, especially like the wee Bocote smoothers you made a while ago.
    Black (no one calls me Adrian)

    1. Hi Black, Thank you very much for the information, I knew there would easier ways. I know a professional turner so I'll have to get him to show me what you suggest. Your polishing method sound intriguing, I guess it's the same principal as the sliver polishing machines in hotels. Glad you like the blog, it's really picking up interest which makes the work involved worth while.
      All the best, David.

  2. Those hammers look pretty cool, may just have order one of those. David, you have far more patience than me, I had trouble focusing to finish the 10 hammers that I made.


    1. Hi Rich, yes it's a bit of a ball acher! I like to do a good batch so I don't have to go back to that tool for a while.
      I don't think you'll be able to resist when you see the wood I'm using for the handles. All the best, David.

  3. Do you still make these or will you ever do?