How to tighten a hammer head or attach it more firmly
This is yet another one of my small-to-mid-sized projects during my one-week vacation. I started it on the 21st, and finished today (25 Sept.).
About half a year ago, I bought a few rusty old handtools from an estate sale. I finally got around to cleaning them up. This hammer is one of them: the handle was loose in the head, so someone in the past had driven in a cotter pin to try to tighten it up.
Here's another view:
However, the cotter pin didn't work in tightening the handle: the head was still so loose that I was able to pull the handle out by hand.
The trick to tightening loose handles on hammers is to start with a wooden wedge that runs the "long way" through the eye of the head (you'll see what I mean, in a moment). Then, if you need additional tightening, you can follow up with metal "hammer wedges" that cut through the initial wooden wedge.
This photo shows the wedge that I created, and the branch that I created it from. Next to my workbench I keep a bucket of hardwood branch sections, collected from my yard, just for making small dowels and pegs and such.
The wedge is probably about 15 degrees. I didn't measure it; I just eyeballed it -- and it looked like about half of 30 degrees, so...
Here's a shot of me using sandpaper to smooth the surface of the wedge, so that it won't bind on the way in. Because the piece is so small, it's actually easier to hold the sheet of sandpaper on a flat piece of wood, and rub the wedge back and forth across it.
Here's a shot of the (now-cleaned!) hammer head, the handle (not yet oiled, because that would mess up the gluing), and the wedge (not yet inserted). Notice the slot that I had sawn in the handle, to accommodate the wedge.
If you look closely, you can see that I made the tip of the wedge at a coarser angle than the rest of the wedge: that's for strength; I figured that a very thin tip would be fragile, break off, and ruin the process.
Here's a shot of my driving the glue-y wedge into the slot. Notice that there's already a split in the handle end, in a direction that isn't useful. I didn't show this, but I had mostly filled it with a sawdust-and-glue mixture -- and then let it dry for a day or two -- prior to sawing the slot for the wooden wedge. Also: I'm using a mallet made by my late (paternal) grandfather.
Here's the hammer, in my workbench vice, after the wedge had been driven in as far as it would comfortably go.
And, here's a shot of the finished product, after I'd trimmed off the excess from the wedge with a handsaw (using masking tape to protect the hammer head from scratches), and then finishing up with a sharp chisel.
And, another view:
The hammer head is on well -- but if it starts to get loose, I'll put a metal wedge where the pink line is. If I need another wedge, I'll put it where I've drawn the red line. My local "big box" hardware store sells hammer wedges for about three bucks for a two-pack, in the hammer section.