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I've been sidelined recently because of Arthritis in my hammer hand. Can't even hold a hammer, much less swing it.  During this time, I've been thinking about re-handling my heaviest hammer.  Was reading Wayne Goddard's knifemaking book last night where he shows and discusses his slotted handle hammer.  Just curious, have any of you ever made or used a hammer of that sort?

Edited by Chris Christenberry
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I could have sworn that this was discussed a while back.  And it was, but looks like it was quite a while back.  Here are two of what look to be the better threads that mention it: thread 1 and thread 2.  Definitely worth revisiting now.  

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This topic is not exactly about the split hammer handles but I've got a few things posted in there over time that I've learned about making a "springy" hammer handle with other tools as well.  And some things I've had to unlearn about hammer technique.

 

I've been surprised of how thin I have some of my handles and how well they have been holding up over time.

 

I would like to try the split hammer handle, or slotted if I get the chance to make one. I've also thought over making the neck of the hammer more like an "I" beam to see if it remain springy. 

Edited by Daniel W
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1 hour ago, Jerrod Miller said:

I could have sworn that this was discussed a while back.  And it was, but looks like it was quite a while back.  Here are two of what look to be the better threads that mention it: thread 1 and thread 2.  Definitely worth revisiting now.  

 

Thread 1 and thread 2 there need to be pinned in Shop Safety!  Mike Blue, who gave a really excellent writeup in Thread 1, is a doctor.  An osteopath, actually, with a really good handle on how the body works in a holistic manner.  He's not a "take a pill and forget it" doc, he's a "Do it this way and it won't hurt" kind of doctor.  

 

Maybe I'll take some of the better comments and put 'em in a new combo thread...  And I had totally forgotten about saying proper hammering is like bouncing a rubber ball.  But it is. B)

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Thanks to all of you.  I really did do a "search", but I seldom ask the right question of a search engine and so I seldom get an answer that's helpful.  I'll check these links out for sure.

 

Well, I have followed the links and they didn't really give me that much info.  Has there not been anyone on the forum who has used (beyond just a couple of test swings) a hammer like Goddard shows in his book?

Edited by Chris Christenberry
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True, I have not because I did not see the need to make one that way after I modified handles to fit my own personal preferences. 

 

I still experience some hammer shock but nothing that has caused me to stop working.  If anything, all the pain I used to experience I found dissipated with thinner handles to grip, a lighter grip, and the neck of the hammer being less ridged.

 

In a way, cutting the center of the neck of the hammer out is a little of the same thing.  Although it is more like an 'I" beam in that the hammer handle should be able to flex at the neck in the direction of the force.  But remain ridged along the side planes.

 

I would like to ask, How heavy is the hammer your using, most importantly,  how are you gripping the hammer? Tight or loose?

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I guess so, Alan, thanks.  I've asked the smiths I personally know and they've not used one.  Interesting.  I'll just go ahead and re-handle this hammer with a style I presently like to use.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I did one years ago and it seemed to add a little spring to the hits and maybe was slightly more forgiving on my hand and arm.  But when the handle finally broke I never bother to do another so if there was any advantage it was so slight as to not make it worthwhile to me.  Also, kinda gets in the way of choking up on the handle for detail work.

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A death grip on the handle causes a lot of damage to body structures; the hand and arm should guide the hammer and let it hit, but a looser grip is needed. The shape of the handle is important as well, most stock handles are too thick and not indexed. I profile mine like the profile of a samurai sword grip, like an oval with square sides.

Edited by SteveShimanek
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  • 2 weeks later...

I was a student of Wayne Goddard. I have been using a modified hammer handle in the style you are talking about. The hammer is a double cross pein with a 4lb weight. I use this hammer on vertually all my forging projects/knives. My main forging hammer is a "dog face" 4lb hammer. 

Question 1: Does the slotted handle design help reduce stress on the hand/wrist during forging?

My answer: Yes/maybe. I have found it hits just as hard as my dog head of the same weight. I believe i get less stress in my hand/wrist with the slotted handle. It may be that I         want it to work or maybe it really does. 

Question 2: Is it worth the time and effort to modify a hammer handle?

My answer: If I am replacing a handle, yes. I drilled the handle about 1/3 of the way from the bottom of the hammer head with a 1/4" bit. I cut down from the top of the handle down to the hole. epoxy a piece of wood back into the top of the handle (not the piece I cut out because its too small because of being cut out.). Fit the hammer head on and soak in boiled linseed oil a few weeks.  I do not have a good way to cut a 1/4" slot in the top 1/4-1/3 of an existing hammer handle. 

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Thanks for your comments, Mike.   Much appreciated.  You're just about the only person here who seems to have seriously put one through it's paces.

Edited by Chris Christenberry
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Depending on the size of the eye of the hammer you can just use a table saw to cut the groove from both sides then go in and clean it up. 

There was an article in the ABANA rag last time or the time before on this handle. 

I made and used one many years ago and didn't like the feeling in the hand.  It feels springy and torqy around the center of the handle. 

A larger flat face will effect the bones of the hand more so then a smaller flat face (rounder etc, etc) since there is a leverage ratio coming into play. 

Any time you hit only a corner of something it will send more vibration and shock threw the handle to the user. 

this is easy to test with a very flat faced hammer hit on the toe and and heel of the face.. With a larger face this is magnified.. 

 

then try it with a ball peen on the flat then doing a corner strike on the ball end.  It is amazing just how much pulling, etc, etc the force does as it's directed and one tries to correct for it. 

It took me a good 6 months to get used to the Wrought iron hammer because of how large the face is. 

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i have one that's slotted i cant say if its good or bad i might not have slotted it enough

 

the best thing i ever did for my hammering shoulder was get a power hammer

 

also i have leather on most of my hammer handles gets the grip to the size i like and might absorb some shock

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Not to take a shot at Mike, because it's not intended, but let's just say I had a four pound hammer that I did most of my forging with but lately I had found that my wrist, elbow, shoulder, or any combination thereof the best thing that I could do is to decrease the weight of my hammers.  Another thing would be to check to see if I had let any bad habits arise in how I hold my hammer handle.  A power hammer might be fine for those who could afford one but one would also have to consider the neighbors.  I definitely would be hit with some noise complaints if I tried using one of them.  I've got a couple of things to do to set my shop back up since having my tools cleared out but when I forge I need to keep my head low a bit, like forging when the neighbors are at work.

 

Doug

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