I have been working on a series of Walnut and Curly Maple toy tools for my book over the last several weeks, and it has been a fun exercise in creativity.
This is a sneak peek of the simple hammer that will be described in detail in the book. The hammer head is made from turned Walnut, which can be seen here on the lathe. The hole for the handle was drilled prior to turning, because it is easier to drill a straight hole while the block is square.
The next step is to sand the piece using progressively finer grits of paper to get a smooth surface. One tip for the lathe is to let the machine do the bulk of the sanding work, then turn it off and sand with the same grit by hand going with the grain.
Once the swirly scratches are gone, switch to the next finer grit, and turn on the lathe to sand the piece again. Then just like before, turn the lathe off and sand with the grain by hand until all the swirl marks are gone.
This process is repeated over and over each time a finer grit is introduced to the piece, and can be taken to any level of smoothness. Even steel wool sanding benefits from stopping the lathe and working the wool in the direction of the grain.
Once the sanding is completed on the lathe, the piece can come off and the handle can be glued in. The handle is made from a Maple Dowelin this case, but it could just as easily be turned from a larger piece of Maple stock. The hole for the handle goes almost all the way through the head, leaving about 1/4″ at the top.
It is important for a hammer that the grain in the handle be perpendicular to the faces. Even a toy hammer is going to be used to hit things, so orienting the grain perpendicular to the faces makes the handle stronger and less susceptible to splitting.
My son loves beating the heck out of his play workbench with the Koa hammer I made for him, and I underestimated how hard he would be able to swing that hammer. I’m glad I paid attention to the grain direction because he puts a lot of stress on that handle…and my coffee table.
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