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Thread: The most useful homemade tool in the shop is...

  1. The most useful homemade tool in the shop is...

    I usually find homemade tools disappointing. Even taking something like an old worn-out screwdriver and grinding it into a scratch awl doesn't for me compare to a store bought scratch awl. I like quality made tools and it's hard to duplicate that same level of quality in the home shop. However, I thought I would share this homemade one that I actually use quite a lot. In fact, come to think of it, and I may revise this later, but aside from some shop made jigs and fixtures I believe it's the *only* homemade tool I use!
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    What can you make out of this?
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    A HAMMER! And not just any hammer; it's a Copper Faced, Dead-Blow Hammer! Made from commonly available plumbing fittings, some lead shot, a wood dowel and 2-cents! The photos here shows 3/4" diameter plumbing fittings and I've found it's a nice size/weight ratio. I have also made these hammers before from 1" plumbing fittings. 1/2" is too small for my use, but may work well for scale model makers.
    Why would you want such a thing? Well for one thing it doesn't mark 2) rebound is minimal and 3) you can't buy anything like it in a store... at least not the stores around me.
    I don't know what version this is, but the first ones I made I used copper for the handle - this was over 35 years ago - the all copper design is fine, but every time you use it your hands end up having "that copper smell" to them. Also, I don't know where the design came from, it's a little too clever for me to have come up with it on my own... it could have been based on something I saw in a magazine, but that information has been lost to history.
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    Soldering would melt the lead, so I use JB Weld Epoxy to hold it all together, but any kind of epoxy will be fine. I think I used to solder them together and use BB-gun (brass?) BB's as the fill. But, the last few I have used epoxy with success (none have fallen apart at the joints!) which works well with the wood handle as well as the lead filling.
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    Cut the lead into rice sized pieces... I have lots of soft pig lead and buckets and buckets filled with lead wheel weights and just used an old chef's knife on a wood board to slice off pieces and chop it up. A coarse wood rasp would also work well. Yeah, if you have never worked with pure lead, it's that soft! Some leads are alloys, like the type used in wheel weights, that have tin and antimony added to made it harder and you probably wouldn't be able to cut it as easily with a knife, but pure lead is very soft and workable. Lead buck shot would work just as well. Sand would work too probably, although it may end up being a little light weight.
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    Cut about 1/4" off both the long ends of the tee fitting. I used a 6x48 belt sander and sanded it off - however, be careful! Copper gets wicked hot quickly, even with a coarse grit belt! Keep a small water bowl nearby to quench the piece. While this step is not absolutely necessary it does give the hammer better overall proportions.
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    Some connecting pieces cut from 3/4" copper pipe fit into the cap ends.
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    Here's my 2 cents! Solder a penny inside the cap. Heat the cap and flow some solder into it and while keeping the solder liquid heat the penny and drop it into the cap. Follow common copper soldering practices; clean, flux, etc. I suppose you could also use the epoxy to attach them. Because the copper is pretty thin on the end caps this helps to keep the cap from denting which ultimately leads to it splitting/cracking and the lead leaking out. FYI the pennies weren't selected for any particular reason,... I just happened to pull two 1977 pennies out from the loose change in my pocket.
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    I like the feel of wood so that's what I use. This is a 7/8" wood dowel cut 11" long. 7/8" fits perfectly in the tee fitting without messing around with it. A notch is cut in the wood handle to allow the lead to flow freely past the handle. Probably not really necessary, but I've always done it that way. Just insert the wood dowel into the tee and mark it through the open end to remove the 'center' obstruction portion. There's no reason why you couldn't use a store bought 'real' hammer handle, as long as you turn the end down to fit into the tee and it seals tightly anything will work.
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    Bevel at the end of the hammer handle. Purely for looks and comfort. It's your hammer, you can do anything you want; drill a hole in it to hang it up, or screw an eyelet into the end if you so desire.
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    There you have it! A quick, easy, simple and very useful Dead-Blow Copper Faced Hammer! I never knew what they weighed before so I grabbed the kitchen scale and weighed it; empty weight is about 5.5 ounces and it holds just about 5oz of lead and that's held down about a 3/8" from overflowing to give the lead some room to move back and forth.
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    If you were so inclined, the caps and tees are sold 10 in a bag, you could setup a little production line and turn out a number of these rather quickly.
    Last edited by Tony Haukap; 06-27-2014 at 4:22 AM.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  2. #2
    Opening a few shotgun shells should do the trick for the lead too. Interesting guide, might make one of these things.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Easthampton, MA
    Posts
    986
    My vote for the best homemade tool are. Curved Cauls. Most people don't even know what they are and what they can do.
    http://www.highlandwoodworking.com/w...ril/cauls.html
    Not sure what happened to copy and paste earlier.
    Last edited by Rick Lizek; 06-28-2014 at 4:28 AM.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Lizek View Post
    9447517a8beb24a61ba49cc61c42284798b900dd
    That's easy for you to say.

  5. #5
    That's funny, Phil. Sprayed coffee all over the screen!

  6. #6
    My choice is the edge beveling plane I made. bevelplane.jpg I can take the sharpness off a corner very quickly and consistently. One pass takes off just a hair thin piece, two passes gets a bit more. YOu can take of as much as you like in just a few passes.
    Lee Schierer
    USNA- '71
    Captain USN(Ret)

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Please Contribute

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Davis, CA
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    243
    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Schierer View Post
    My choice is the edge beveling plane I made. bevelplane.jpg I can take the sharpness off a corner very quickly and consistently. One pass takes off just a hair thin piece, two passes gets a bit more. YOu can take of as much as you like in just a few passes.
    I'd love to see more angles of that. How long did it take you to make it?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Aspö View Post
    Opening a few shotgun shells should do the trick for the lead too. Interesting guide, might make one of these things.
    Small fishing weights should also work.

    Thanks for the good idea Tony. Id like to have one of these and will make one.
    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  9. Made a couple more today and took some assembly pictures...
    Image showing how much to assemble before filling. I let the epoxy setup overnight at this stage before filling with lead to prevent the lead from adhering to the epoxy.
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    Striking face reinforcing. Penny soldered in cap. Probably got the penny a little too hot and maybe used a little too much flux, but it's fully embedded in the solder with no voids under it. I pre-tinned the back side of the penny before dropping it into the cap.
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    This shows the handle inserted and epoxied in place. From the looks of it the handle would block a good 70% of the opening, so it appears the notch out may be necessary after all. In thinking of alternate ways to do this, you could attach the handle without notching it and when the epoxy cures drill out the obstruction with a forstener bit.
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    Another view through the open end of the notched handle.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    5,403
    Thats a very nice tool Tony. Thanks for posting it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Lubbock Texas
    Posts
    921
    My most used, self made, tool is.....a push stick. I make ten at a time and when I ware them out I just make ten more. That is a pretty slick hammer.
    No PHD, but I have a GED and my DD 214

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Stone View Post
    I'd love to see more angles of that. How long did it take you to make it?
    Here you go.
    IMG_0025.jpg
    IMG_0026.jpg
    IMG_0027.jpg

    I actually made two, one for me and one for a good friend who was the person I had for a Secret Santa recipient on another woodworking forum. The plans cam from an old edition of "Wood" magazine and they had a source for the plane iron and brass rod. The sides are curly maple, the center portion is Bubinga and the iron holder is black walnut. Time wise, I think it took me 3-4 hours to produce the two of them. Most of that time was figuring out how to cut the bevels in the center portion without wrecking the part and without getting hut since the parts are quite small.
    Lee Schierer
    USNA- '71
    Captain USN(Ret)

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Please Contribute

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Anderson, SC
    Posts
    128
    +1 on the curved cauls

  14. #14
    I couldnt stop thinking about what a slick little design Tonys deadblow hammer was. So I ended up making one this afternoon. I did decide to use small fishing weights in the head and that worked well.

    Its a neat little tool. I think Ill get good use out of her on small projects and tapping plane irons.

    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  15. #15
    I would solder all the parts together, add lead shot, then epoxy the handle in. Only put epoxy on the shaft of the handle (none in the hole of the tee.)

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