Thursday, February 02, 2017

Brass hammer from hex bar stock

My friend likes to make wooden mallets:

So I thought he might get a kick out of making one with a brass head.  Here's the head so far.  (he's still thinking about what to do for a handle).

This much 1.5 inch hex bar stock cost me about $50 on ebay, enough to make two heads:

The bar was too big to fit through the headstock on the lathe, so on the mill I clamped it sideways and faced the ends, indicated it vertical (overkill), used the edge finder to find the center, then center drilled both ends:

I tapered a piece of scrap steel rod in the chuck to make a dead center.  That let me turn the piece "between centers", which is a lot more accurate than clamping the bar in the 3-jaw chuck.

I was inspired by this brass hammer, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to use the same shape for the head.  I decided on a taper, and tried several different variants.  Because of the center hole, I had to discard the first half inch or so of stock, so it was a great place to experiment.  Here's a 20 degree taper:

Collar grooves look nice but ultimately I kept it really simple:

This profile was really tempting as well: flat / taper / flat leaves a sort of brickish look that's very hammer-like:

In the end, a 10 degree taper at each end was all I wanted.  It produces a beautiful parabola shape and emphasizes the intrinsic beauty of brass.

I did a pass all the way across to cut off the corners (which were a little banged up), and should have gone a little deeper since there were still a few blemishes.  I didn't notice them until I had already cut off the piece, so I couldn't put it back between centers, and I don't trust the 3-jaw chuck to hold it true, so I didn't have an easy way to clean up the corners later.

Here you can see the dimple I put in the very center of the head to make it easy to put whatever kind of hole my friend decides to use for attaching the handle.

I also rounded off the round edge of each face of the hammer so that it doesn't immediately mushroom when used on a flat surface.  But really, this hammer is more decorative than useful; it's several pounds, so it's not great for delicate work, and the whole point of a brass hammer is to get dinged up instead of the steel part you're trying to nudge.

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