I have been able to buy a rod of ultra high molecular weight
polyethylene (UHMW-PE) to make some hammers.
I've made a couple such hammers and found them VERY useful. They're
not going to win any beauty contests but they work well and have
turned out to be quite durable so I'm not complaining.
The tools I used were:
- one hammer handle (store bought or home made)
- hand drill
- drill bits, I found that the brad-point drills used for wood
- heat gun
- a sturdy screwdriver or a screwdriver bit for the drill or
- one long wood or gyproc screw
- cut-off disk for flex-shaft or dremel (fine toothed hacksaw
will work just as well)
- rat-tail wood rasp for shaping the hole through the head that
will accept the handle
- (optional) flat wood rasps for final shaping on the head once
it's mounted on the handle
- a dog dish 3/4 full of water
- one pair of heavy work gloves, preferably leather, that you
don't mind messing up a little (hot plastic).
The basic procedure is dead simple, it just takes a little finesse
to get it right:
- roughly shape the hammer head with saw, rasps, etc. At this
point you just want to approximate the final shape.
- drill a hole through the head in order to accomodate the
hammer handle. A little undersize is best. Elongate the hole with
the rat-tail wood rasp until it looks like it is relatively close
to accepting the hammer handle.
- slowly heat the hole with the heat gun. You'll find you need
to rotate the head around a lot under the heat so this is where
those heavy gloves come in handy. The UHMW will suck up a lot of
heat but don't rush it or it will either get too soft or it will
- once the plastic around the hole is soft enough to easily push
with your thumb, but not so soft as to be runny or sticky, shove
the top of the hammer handle into the hole. I found it best to
lightly clamp the hammer head in a (padded) machinist's vise,
this gave me an easy way to straighten the handle in relation to
the long axis of the hammer head.
- once the handle is fully through the hole and properly
oriented in relation to the head quench it in the water. Leave it
in the water for 10 seconds or so in order to draw off the heat.
- eyeball your work. If you really need to adjust it you can
re-heat the head but you're likely to scorch the head, the handle
or both. Getting it right to begin with is by far the better way
- at this point the head should be solidly attached to the
handle with little or no gaps or spaces.
- a little clean-up of the plastic around the hole may well be
necessary, rasps are good for the rough work and a bastard file
will finish it up reasonably well.
- drill a small hole cross-wise through the head and handle to
accomodate the screw. Run the screw through and trim as
necessary. The idea is that you're locking the head to the
- do your final shaping on the hammer faces (squaring up,
adjusting the taper, etc).
- a final light touch with the heat gun will smooth out your
- voila! Enjoy your new UHMW hammer.
I hope you find this helpful. Feel free to contact me off-list for
details/clarification/whatever if you are so inclined.
in The City of Light
Visit TouchMetal.com at http://www.touchmetal.com