A place for me to display some of the varied projects that come out of my shop, as well as to "talk" about some of my experiences working with wood.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

This is not just any plane hammer...

There is always a better way...

For much of my woodworking life I have always looked at tools in a critical way, and while sometimes they are just "perfect"; in my view many of them could be improved. While sometimes this involves simply replacing the pedestrian wood bits with something a little more exotic, other times it's a bit more involved than that.

Veritas Spokeshaves
I have customized some tools by replacing the wood with something which looks a bit better and really has no impact on the use of the tool. My Veritas spokesshaves have all had upgraded handles to make them easier to differentiate from one another. A buddy of mine agreed and I made him a set for his Boggs Spokeshaves. My Veritas PMV-11 chisel handles, while 100% the same physically, they are now Brazilian Rosewood - a choice fitting to the quality of these fine tools.

Veritas PMV-11 Bench Chisels

Other times while doing a "wood" upgrade I have changed the design to better suit my use for the tool. This is most apparent in the handle replacement I did for my Knew Concepts saws. A secondary industry had already started for fine wood handle replacements for these saws, except they more or less replicated the whitewood handle that was supplied with the saw. I felt the saw would be more easily used with a longer and heavier handle, I had my machinist buddy makes some brass fittings to my specs and turned some
I Knew I was onto something...
handles to fit them on and voila the saw is a completely different tool.

Friends of mine have really enjoyed this adaptation and continue to use these handles to this day.
The original 14!

My little hammer makes the big stage

Early Versions for friends
And now to the present. I have always appreciated nice hammers and while I have a few (<20) I never could find a small plane hammer I enjoyed using. At the time there were no turned brass head hammers on the market so I drew my inspiration elsewhere. I wanted a small hammer which put most of the weight in the head, so this meant a narrow and light handle with a brass head. Brass is soft enough to not damage most tools, but was still too hard for some things, so I threaded one end and turned nice wood heads to twist on so I could replace them when they break. At the time there were no small hammers being made in the market with round wooden heads so I experimented with a few designs and settled on a shortish length with a slightly beveled head. Several years on I am still happy with the design and not broken a single head yet.

I made a few of these hammers and gave most of them away to friends for their use. Little did I know where that would lead. A few of the guys I gave them to are well known toolmakers and they loved the design. In fact this became their go-to plane hammer almost immediately and others took notice at shows; the next thing you know we were talking to Robin Lee of Lee Valley fame about them being made by Veritas to sell. That was well over a year ago and I am very pleased that my little plane hammer is now in the Fall Woodworking Catalog from Lee Valley and is part of their regular product line going forward. This is a pretty big deal for me and something I am very proud of. Hopefully others will find my design useful and use them in their own shops.
Image Copyright - Lee Valley Tools

And it's not just a plane hammer...

Since the creation of this hammer, I have found it useful for many more things than adjusting my wood and metal bodied planes. This hammer is rarely off of my bench, a few of the uses I have found include:
  • I frequently use it as a small "persuader" for joinery, 
  • it's the perfect tool for tapping Dominoes or dowels into their slots with mushrooming them,
  • It is just hard enough to pound in copper nails without deforming the head on them,
  • Tapping in wooden plugs
  • more to come....


  1. Wow!, that's an incredible achievement! Hat's off to you!

  2. Great hammer. What really caught my eye though is those chisels, I have the same set, and though the torrified maple is pretty, an exotic would look better, IMO. I was wondering how you got the original handles out; some of mines have the slightest hint of epoxy squeeze out, so I assume they all have been glued in. I haven't got around to putting it in a vise and twisting it off for fear of damaging the tang or guard. If you could share your methods... That would be more than helpful

    1. Vincent,
      As you perhaps have concluded, the existing handles must be sacrificed for the new ones. By design these handles are not meant to come off, so a clean removal is likely hopeless. A split with the grain and you should also have a good example of the size and shape of the hole for the tang. Each of the ferrules were custom fit to the handle before I cut off the upper end of the blank.

      Good luck and I would love to see what you come up with.


  3. Richard,
    Is the knew concepts brass fitting mod available to purchase please? Would like to add my own handle.

    1. Paul,
      I only made five of these for myself and a couple of friends. I don't even think I have a drawing to send you. Sorry I could not help.


    2. Rich,
      Using my google foo the drawing is at http://richard-wile.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/i-knew-i-needed-new-knew-handles.html?m=1

  4. Richard
    A really nice hammer on the left. Doesn't shine as much as in the pic but looks aged and well loved from the use. Probably much like us.Congrats on this new adventure and thanks again.

    1. Joe,
      Glad you are still enjoying the hammer. I knew it was going to a good home. Hopefully others will come to feel the same about the Veritas version of the same. Thanks for the kind words.
      Cheers, Rich