April 11, 2014
“A worker may be the hammer’s master, but the hammer still prevails. A tool knows exactly how it is meant to be handled, while the user of the tool can only have an approximate idea.”
A veneer hammer is one of those tools you could go out and spend a few dollars on, but why not make your own?
With a few scraps of material and a small piece of brass, you’ll have a custom hammer that’s just as good, (if not better)
than any commercial variety available.
The funny thing about a veneer hammer is that it isn’t used like a hammer at all.
It’s used like a squeegee to squeeze out excess glue and air from under freshly laid veneer.
Traditional veneer hammers look like you’d expect, with a basic hammer shape.
Having a large front grip and curved handle, the user is able to apply the downward pressure needed when working veneer.
The brass is the only part you’ll have to source out; the rest you can make with scraps from the off cut pile-
let’s get started.
CUTTING THE BRASS BLADE
To begin, I went to my local metal supplier and purchased a six dollar piece of 1/4-in. brass.
It was already sized to 1-in. in width and I had them crosscut it to 4-in. in length.
When I got back to my shop, the first thing I did was rip it down to 1/2-in. in width.
I used a small metal vise mounted to my workbench and a hacksaw made quick work of the operation.
Once the brass was ripped to width, I filed the edges and gave it a good round over along the length.
LAY OUT AND SHAPE THE HEAD
The head of the veneer hammer has a shape ideal for holding and applying downward pressure when laying veneer.
Refer to the photo and lay out something similar for yours.
Mark the through mortise location ( on both sides ) where the handle will be later installed.
I’m using some 1-in. quarter sawn cherry for my hammer and I dimensioned it to begin.
It finished at about 7/8-in. in thickness.
Once the shape is marked out, use a bow-saw to remove the bulk of the material.
This is followed with rasps and files to refine the curved side profile.
With the hammer head shaped, scribe and saw the 1/4-in. slot, 1/4-in. deep that the brass blade will be glued into.
A router plane and some chisel work will finish it off.
Next, drill out the waste to establish the mortise.
Used a 3/4-in. auger bit and a brace and drill half way through the thickness of the stock from one side,
flip the piece over and drill from the other.
This insures you don’t blow out the hole and helps keep the through mortise in line.
Some chisel work to square the cavity, followed with sawing out the handle.
I used a large French curve to help design the profile of my handle.
Use whatever shape you see fit- a turned handle would also be nice.
I liked this French curve shape as it keeps the hammer in an upright position when I lay it on my benchtop.
Whatever you come up with, shape the handle to fit your hands and hammer style.
Again, after sawing the handle, a rasp and file refined the shape.
I also planed a bevel into the head- this is both an aesthetic choice and for better sight lines to the brass blade while in use.
Saw the through tenon on the end of the handle and cut a kerf diagonally across it for a wedge to be inserted once installed.
I’ll get to assembling the veneer hammer is my next post-
ask me anything… and if you find these posts informative or inspiring-
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