Monday, February 13, 2012

Estwing Hammer Rebuild.

I was asked by my Sister-in-law about a month ago to take on a task.  As she reached into her tool box she pulled out a beat up, rotted, grip less 16 oz. Estwing leather gripped claw hammer.  "This was my Dad's", My brother's remark was "Just tell her to get a new one!". As I put my hand up to my brother I ask what she want me to do, her reply " rebuild the grip, he had it for I don't know how many years and I would like to use it again." And so one of my favorite builds to date began.  I have made many leather gripped knives before, and have build some amazing things out of leather in the past 6 years, but none of this caliber, none that have been so sentimental that's for sure. And to see the handle come out of the massive stack of leather was incredible. No power tools were used, it was completely done by hand with no glue in between the stacks of leather. Instead of going into huge detail about the ins and outs, I will just put some comments down under the picture as to whats going on. I did used Spar Varnish on the grip, as raw leather (as beautiful as it would be) my Sister-in-law will actually be using this hammer in all conditions and to maximize the leathers durability I varnished it.  There must be a reason to it, as Estwing varnishes theirs as you can see on the 20 oz claw hammer I was using as reference.

The original I was handed, missing a few pieces, about 50 years old.

After removing end, and sliding over 40 stacks of leather.

Freshly peened rivets, snug tight.

After 20 min of cutting with Olfa knife, using my hammer as guide.

Final rough cut.

After some intense 120 grit sanding.

Final raw hammer, after 400 grit sanding.

Final raw hammer.

About to varnish, this leather was thirsty.

After eight coats of varnish.

Finished, ready to be passed down for many more generations.

19 comments:

  1. What a great job! You can be proud of yourself and your sis in law should be as well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. what a beauty! you make it look so easy, wow, what a fine job!

    PS send those pics into Field Notes!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I got here because of Field Notes, and agree with their comments, that in a disposable world it is quite refreshing to see someone take the time to hone their craft and rebuild things. I'm sure your sister in law treasured this!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kristin, Thanks for the comment, She basically freaked when she saw it! It was amazing! Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After seeing those pics and reading your astonishing account, I had to fish my old Estwing 20 oz.-er out of a cluttered bucket of tools . I'm duly inspired to do a partial restoration, careful sanding and re-finishing !! Thanx for your gorgeous work of craftsmanship. John Joslin , (Detroit, Michigan, USA )

      Delete
  5. John, That sounds amazing! Please take some shots and send them my way! I would love to see you work!

    Chris

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very, very nice! I am fortunate enough to have my dad's Estwing hammer... he made the handle as a schoolboy in the 1930s. There's a photo here on my Flickr stream... Don't think I'll restore mine, though... too much of my dad still on it. http://www.flickr.com/photos/shelleyj/4476255079/in/photostream

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a Beauty, I agree with you Shelley, I would not do a thing to that. Amazing how long leather handled hammers can last and still be in usable condition! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is great! I have an old Estwing hatchet with the leather handle that my dad gave to me as a boy. I apparently had left it outside quite often as a boy so the leather handle is pretty rough and I would love to refinish it like this. What did you use as the black and white spacers?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used the original Spacers , I only had the bottom three however, and just used a different leather for the top. I would think you could even use wood bits if you wanted to.

      Delete
  9. I just acquired an old estwing hatchet and the leather is rotten. How did you punch the centers out of the washers?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon, To punch the centers I used a oblong leather punch I own. One can be bought at Tandy leather supply. Another option is you could just take a small piece of copper plumbing pipe, and flatten it a bit, then sharpen it with a file? Might not last forever, but could probably get the job done.

      Chris

      Delete
    2. Match 2 drill bits to the holes in your leather ring, use slow speed while drilling.

      1st) Drill 2 smaller holes for the tang pins
      2nd) Drill another larger hole, in the center to connect the two smaller holes, with a larger bore drill bit (for the webbed steel connector & energy absorption cavity running the length of the leather).

      No custom die required, takes more time to take out the drill gun or change out the bits than punch the holes.

      My fix:
      I removed 3 bad rings, pushed the stack down to fill in the gap... added new rings & peened down the endplate.

      NOTE: the old tang pins had been peened so often in the past, after filing off the pins there was scant left to re-peen. Solution? After removing the endplate and endrings, I filed down the webbing (toward the head) about 1/4" to allow the endcap to float again, giving me a new 1/4" tang pin to peen.

      I used the inertia method of repeening, holding the estwing pick in my left hand (head down) and striking the top of the tang/pins/endcap with a drilling hammer.

      Whittle / sand & oil new rings. Maybe I'll do a full 44 ring repair the next time I lose a ring.

      Paid $2.00 from a charity store.

      Delete
  10. Great restoration. I imagine someone's already mentioned it and it's worked wonderful for my metal restoration projects and that is -- electrolytic rust removal. Saves the base metal while removing just the rust and doesn't produce nasty waste. Google it and keep in mind for the next one.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    Dave

    ReplyDelete
  11. not sure how i missed this but DAMN! that looks amazing chris.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Brother, it was such a fun build for sure. It was pretty wild seeing the final shape come out of that mess of stacked squares of leather.

      Delete
  12. I think I'm going to give this project a shot but I wanted to know how you got the rivets off and on?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is the finicky part. To remove the rivets I removed some of the old leather so that I could back away the bottom plate. The just grind or file off enough of the rivets edge so that you can pop off the plate...Don't worry you can bend it straight again. Then when its time to re-rivet Simply make the leather grip with more than enough leather so it will squash as you peen out the top again. Hope that helps.

      Delete