I had a hammer with a loose head. Soaking in water only lasted for
short time, then it was loose again.
Loose head can be result of several things:
The eye of the hammer is not tapered. The remedy is to through
The eye is tapered but put on the handle upside down. The remedy
is to reverse the head. Wider opening must be toward the bottom.
The taper of handle should be close to taper of the eye, handle
itself must be made from wood with very low moisture content.
To assemble the head and the handle place harrow end into the eye
and tap the bottom of the handle with wood mallet. If all is well,
the head shall travel up the handle and wedge itself securely. Trim
excess of wood and drive a thin metal wedge diagonally into narrow
end to fix head in place.
Issues with technique:
The face of a hammer is either flat or convex. Convex is preferable.
In well designed hammer, the center of the arc corresponding
convexity of the face, is located in the center of the eye. If that
is the case, there is nothing to worry about. If the center is
outside of the eye, depending on the center been above the eye or
bellow, you either get loose head, or broken handle. That is because
with every blow, the head will be driven up (loose head) or down
(broken handle due to shearing wood fibers)
With flat face head, unless every strike is perfectly centered, you
generating displacing forces. In case of chasing hammers and most of
them have flat faces (tells you how much manufactures actually know
about the hammers) broken handle concern is mostly theoretical,
because chasing hammers are used gently, but if contact with punch is
bellow face center loose head is unavoidable and only the matter of
Some of you probably wonder, how is possible to make contact with
punch dead center every time? It is important to use the center of
the face or slightly above it and it is controlled by how high your
shoulder above chasing surface, in another words - by the height of
your bench. Paint hammer face with chalk. A few minutes of
experimentation would tell you the height that you need.