Give Your Old Hammer a Katana-Style Facelift with This Guide
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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.
Like any project of this nature, you'll first need some stuff to get you started.
Tools and equipment needed
- Old hammerhead
- Clear liquid epoxy
- Colored dyes
- Silk cord
- Leather cord
- Katana-style grip wrap (silk or otherwise)
- Belt sander
- Circular saw
- Double-edged pull saw
- Metal files
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.
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.
In any case, take your hammerhead and rub it over some sandpaper.
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.
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.
With that complete, finish preparing the hammerhead using some fine-grained sandpaper.
Keep working on the hammerhead until it has a perfect shiny sheen.
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.
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.
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.
Ensure you leave a small "column" of wood in the middle of the timber to connect the hammerhead to the new handle.
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.
Once complete, take your metal files and begin to file the faces of the main handle. Bevel off any sharp corners as well.
Use your files to also taper the bottom of the handle. Bevel the corners to the angle of your choice.
With the rough taper complete, continue to file the wood at the end of the hammer handle to round it off.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Take a hot glue gun, and glue the pipe assembly to a flat surface.
With that complete, mix-up hour clear epoxy. Once ready add some colored dye (in this case red).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Keep going until the central decoration is well polished.
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.
Once you reach near the base, cut off the string and glue it into place.
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.
If you want to add other details, like metal decals, tape these into place before encapsulating them with the grip wrap.
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.
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.
Once complete, grab some sandpaper and polish the entire surface of the outer grip wrap.
Once complete, grab your heat gun and heat shrink the fabric all over the handle.
With that complete, take some black leather string, and braid it into a loop.
Secure it into place at the base of the hammerhead on the handle and tighten the braid as needed to secure it into place.
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.
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?