Give Your Old Hammer a Katana-Style Facelift with This Guide

Turn your old hammer into a katana-style hammer fit for a Samurai!

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Hammers are amazing tools. But, they tend to lack the coolness of other metal objects like, say, a Japanese katana.

Would it be great if you could combine the best of both into one, magnificent piece? As it turns out there is!

Follow this simple guide to making your own katana-style hammer from an old forgotten hammer. 

old to new hammer complete
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Like any project of this nature, you'll first need some stuff to get you started. 

Tools and equipment needed

Step 1: Prepare your old hammerhead

First, take your old hammerhead of choice. The design doesn't really matter as most of the work will involve making a new fancy handle for it. 

old to new hammer head
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Take your old hammerhead and begin to clean up the metal. Depending on the condition of it, you will either need to mechanically or chemically treat any rust, or just give it a quick sanding down. 

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In any case, take your hammerhead and rub it over some sandpaper. 

diy old to new hammer sand
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Keep going until only the main metal is exposed on all sides of the hammerhead. With that complete, transfer your old hammerhead to your belt sander and work every exposed side of it. 

old to new hammer belt sand
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Wear protective equipment when doing this. You only want to sand down the hammerhead, not your fingers! Keep sanding the hammerhead until it becomes brightly polished. Don't forget to work on the hammering edges of the hammer. 

Again, depending on the condition of your old hammerhead, you may need to file off barbs and other old physical damage before sanding it down. 

old to new hammer sand edges
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

With that complete, finish preparing the hammerhead using some fine-grained sandpaper. 

old to new hammer fine sand
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Keep working on the hammerhead until it has a perfect shiny sheen. 

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old to new hammer shiny
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Step 2: Begin to work the handle

With the old hammerhead completed, for now, we can now move on to preparing the hammerhead's new handle. Take some old lumber (of your choice), and cut it a strip to the length and width your want your new handle to be using your circular saw or equivalent. 

old to new hammer cut wood
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Once complete, take your old hammerhead and place it onto the cut strip of wood. Mark out where you want the hammerhead to sit on the new handle and also mark the dimensions of the hammerhead eye onto the wood too. 

old to new hammer head dimensions
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Complete on all sides of the length of wood as needed. These will act as guidelines when we begin to form the wooden handle. Next, take your double-edged saw and begin to cut out the marked pieces at the top of the length of wood to accommodate the hammerhead. 

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Ensure you leave a small "column" of wood in the middle of the timber to connect the hammerhead to the new handle. 

old to new hammer handle prep
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Next, secure the new handle in a vice, and begin to clean up the handle's head using a sharp chisel. Gradually shave off small shavings of wood as needed. 

old to new hammer shave handle
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Once complete, take your metal files and begin to file the faces of the main handle. Bevel off any sharp corners as well. 

old to new hammer file handle
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Use your files to also taper the bottom of the handle. Bevel the corners to the angle of your choice. 

old to new hammer taper end
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

With the rough taper complete, continue to file the wood at the end of the hammer handle to round it off. 

old to new hammer round handle
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Depending on your needs, you may also want to add some curvature to the main handle. In this case, the creator has decided to bow the handle inwards towards the center. 

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old to new hammer bow handle
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

With the main rough outline of the handle's design now complete, we can begin to refine the handle. Take some strips of sandpaper and sand down/round off the exposed edges of the handle. 

You want to remove any barbs and splinters, and round off any hard edges of the new hammer handle. 

old to new hammer sand handle
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

As always wear gloves and a mask when doing this. You don't want to breathe in large amounts of sawdust. Keep working the wood until it forms a nice rounded cylindrical form. 

Step 3: Continue to prepare the old hammerhead

With the rough shape of the handle now complete, we can return to the old hammerhead. Take it and begin to sink some holes in its sides. 

Here we will be adding some decorative features to the sides of the hammer so you can skip this part if you don't want to do the same. 

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old to new hammer drill holes
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Drill the hole all the way through the hammerhead. We will be filling this void later so don't worry. 

With the hole complete, take some brass pipes of differing bores (one the same as the hole you just made and another smaller one). Cut them down to the diameter of the hammerhead.

old to new hammer brass pipes
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Alternatively, you could consider using old bullet casings or similar waste materials. 

Take the two lengths of brass pipe, and secure them together into the position you want with some string. Tape the string down on the side of the outer pipe to hold the pipes into place. 

old to new hammer pipes together
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Take a hot glue gun, and glue the pipe assembly to a flat surface. 

old to new hammer glue pipes
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

 With that complete, mix-up hour clear epoxy. Once ready add some colored dye (in this case red). 

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old to new hammer dye epoxy
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Mix the dye thoroughly into the epoxy until it is a uniform color. Once ready, pour the dyed epoxy into the outer void in the two glued pipes. 

old to new hammer pipes dye
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Let the epoxy run freely between the pipes and continue adding the epoxy until the void is filled. Do the same for the inner "eye" of the pipes as needed. 

Choose the colors to your liking. Leave to cure fully. 

Step 4: Attach the handle to the hammerhead and complete decoration to head

While the epoxy is curing, take your new hammer handle and fix it into the eye of the hammerhead. 

old to new hammer handle in head
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Using a power drill, extend the existing hole in the hammerhead through the handle to accommodate the pipes later. Drill another hole near the base of the hammer's handle to create a hanging hole. 

old to new hammer drill handle
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Once complete, and the epoxy is fully cured, take the pipes and insert them into the hole in the hammerhead and handle. 

It will likely be a tight fit, so knock the pipes into place until flush with the rest of the hammer. 

old to new hammer pipes in place
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Turn the hammer over to expose its top eye, and hammer in two nails into the top of the wood. This will help expand the wood to firmly hold the hammerhead and handle together in one piece. 

old to new hammer nail head
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

With that complete, take the hammer in hand and begin to finely sand the sides of the hammer once again. We are attempting to clean up the exposed edges of the decorative pipe features in the center of the hammerhead faces. 

old to new hammer sand sides
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Keep going until the central decoration is well polished. 

old to new hammer decoration finished
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Step 5: Add the fabric to the grip of the handle

With the main head details no more or less complete, we can move on to decorating the handle. Grab your string,  and begin to wind it around the hammer's handle. Continue to wrap the handle with the string in parallel all the way from the head to the bottom of the handle. 

old to new hammer handle wrap
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Once you reach near the base, cut off the string and glue it into place. 

old to new hammer glue wrap
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

With that complete, cover the hammerhead with plastic to protect it from the next phase of work. Next, grab your katana-style wrapping and begin to wind it around the handle too. You will want to replicate the kind of style seen on Japanese weapons like a katana. 

Do this at fixed points, twist the wrap to thin it down, and create a series of diamonds from the hammerhead to the base of the handle.

old to new hammer katana grip
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

If you want to add other details, like metal decals, tape these into place before encapsulating them with the grip wrap. 

old to new hammer metal details
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Continue to wrap and twist the handle grip around the metal piece to hold it into place as needed. Keep wrapping the material until you reach the end of the handle. 

old to new hammer grip end
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Once here, loop the fabric through the previous layers of fabric and tie together the loose ends. Then cut them loose using some scissors. Push the loose parts into the hole you made earlier at the base of the handle. 

old to new hammer finish wrap
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Once complete, grab some sandpaper and polish the entire surface of the outer grip wrap. 

old to new hammer sand grip
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Once complete, grab your heat gun and heat shrink the fabric all over the handle. 

old to new hammer heat gun
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

With that complete, take some black leather string, and braid it into a loop. 

old to new hammer braid
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

 Secure it into place at the base of the hammerhead on the handle and tighten the braid as needed to secure it into place. 

old to new hammer braid handle
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Tie off and burn the loose ends as needed. 

Once complete, mix up some more epoxy and add a dark blue dye (or color of choice). Pipe the epoxy mixture into the void in the hammer's eye and leave it to fully cure. 

old to new hammer eopxy eye
Source: Zhiwaza Workshop/YouTube

Sand down and polish as before.

With that, your new katana-style hammer is now complete. Now all that's left to be done is find the right opportunity to show it off to your friends. 

Perhaps, who knows, you could also practice your quick-draw kendo skills in the process? 

If you enjoyed this project, why not consider making some other custom hammers?

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