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Restoring old hammers

Thanks to Don for the on reseting hammer heads on

Generally, loose hammer heads are the result of wood shrinking from
drying out. There a method for tightening the head on the handle, in
this case, passed on to me from some very generous teacher (can’t
remember who, but ‘thank you’). Use one small drop of “Chair Loc”
(or similar stuff used to swell wooden chair spindles when they
become loose) on the part of the handle at the top of the hammer
head, where the wedge is. NO MORE THAN ONE SMALL DROP, please, as
the handle will swell too much if you use more. No need to remove
anything; neither the head or the wedge needs to be removed.

Also, when I am about the use a hammer, I’ve developed the habit of
checking the head for loosenes. If it is loose, I slam (that’s a
technical term!) the end of the handle (opposite end from the hammer
head!) on my bench, vertically. This acts to shift the head down on
the handle and secures it. If this doesn’t work, I use the Chair Loc.

I was just on a much needed R and R to southern Florida. We went to
a great place called Anna Maria Island, just west of Bradenton (which
is just south of St. Petersburg). I stopped into a place promisingly
called The Sterling Anvil. The display was crowded and dreary, there
was nothing for sale that couldn’t have been bought anywhere else,
and to top it off, they were using some great hammers in the display.
It was a waste of good tools and just underscored the fact that the
jewelry was NOT handcrafted. Seeing those hammers draped with
mass-produced crapola was the last thing I saw when I walked out the

Christine in Littleton, Mass.

    Hi all, Over time I have collected some great antique hammers.
Could anyone give me some advice on restoring and maintaining

As a member of a tool collecting club I have heard many stories of
the value of an antique or collectable tool being ruined by too much
cleaning or restoration. Of course you want to control rust and the
tips I’ve seen so far about tightening the handle with either
antifreeze or chair lock are good tips. I would use a wire brush and
remove any rust but keep the patina that has built up over the years
in place. That to me is the beauty of an antique tool. I still have
some tools from my great grandfather who was a cabinet maker. Seeing
where his hand had worn the finish on the handle of a well used plane
makes me feel close to him whenever I have the chance to use the
plane and he died long before I was born…

Rick Copeland – Silversmith
Colorado Springs, Colorado